I’ve been away for the last two weeks or so and made deliberate efforts not to follow the news in as obsessively as usual in the vain hope that when I got back things would have changed. How wrong I was. The headlines are as depressing as ever focussing on the same sorry sagas from home and abroad.
The pre-election war is in full cry in the UK with evermore repetitions of the same mantras by the major parties. So driven are they by polls and focus groups that the spokespersons are like robots endlessly answering whatever questions they are asked with the pre-prepared stock phrases whether they are relevant to the questions or not. In Scotland, Labour is desperate to fend off the SNP challenge, though their new leader, Jim Murphy, seems to have less traction than a Trabant in the snow. In England, the Tories are trying to out UKIP UKIP; we’ll control immigration they say while the numbers continue to rise. It’s all rather depressing.
Poster wars have also been in the election news. Harking back to the heyday of Spitting Image the Tories latest wheeze is to show Ed Miliband in Alex Salmond’s top pocket c.f. David Steele and David Owen. They can’t even be original. Labour party attempts to upset the SNP juggernaut with a vote SNP get Cameron poster. Really? I thought Cameron’s constituency was in Oxfordshire (cheap shot I know).
None of this gets close to any of the real issues that need to be addressed in this election. A schools kid’s argument in the playground would be more edifying and possibly more enlightening. It is surely time political parties got back to leading not following.
International obsessions are unchanged. ISIS, IS, ISIL, DAESH or whatever their name is this week still tops the news agenda with no diminution in the horror it inflicts. The actions of this group bemuse the west and their response is at best confused and ineffective. Nothing new there either.
In the midst of all this gloom a sliver of light broke through. Alan Rusbridger outgoing editor of the Guardian has committed the paper to promoting action on climate change, Activist and author Naomi Klien has published a book on climate change, This Changes Everything, extracts from which you can read in the Guardian. It is unlikely that the book will be a best seller, nevertheless it is more grist to the mill.