Showing posts from December, 2016

Neither bad nor good. Just human. Goodbye 2016

There’s a tendency in some of the reviews of 2016 which are finding their way online to praise the year as a great one.It’s the usual form of contrariness to the oft stated maxim that 2016 has been such a terrible year, and it comes from the right of the political spectrum of course.Because it has been a good year for “right-wingers”, no doubt about it.

But of course 2016 is neither a terrible nor a great year.It is a year the memory of which is entirely dependent on the individual living it.Citizens of Aleppo, or Syria generally (other than its wretched president) haven’t had a great year.People who have suffered family or close friend bereavements haven’t had a great year.On the other hand, weddings and births will have continued to bring pleasure to many too.In a more general sense, citizens of western democracies are likely to have had a better year than the citizens of poor authoritarian countries such as Russia.

The purpose of a brief blog review therefore can’t …

The importance of a vanishing class: the party member

Political parties are the heart and soul of our democratic system.  They are the crucial interface between voters and professionals, providing the space for hard-pressed volunteers who may not wish to become professionally involved in politics to nonetheless become active agents in the body politic.  They have also been facing significant decline over many years.  While there has been a slight recovery in the UK since 2013 – especially for Labour and the SNP – the overall figures are depressing. 
The website Democratic Audit estimates that only 1% of the UK population is a member of a political party.  In the 1950s, parties famously calculated their members in the millions.  The Conservatives were dominant with their 3 million or so members, but Labour garnered some 1 million too. 
Labour is now the dominant party with half of their 1950s figure – 515,000 members according to a House of Commons Library briefing.  The Conservative figure is more difficult to get hold of – many of th…