Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Bagpipes on Scotland Road

An inordinate amount of time has elapsed since my last posting. Several reasons for this, some trivial, some not so trivial. I've been thinking long and hard about what to do with this blog & the changes I need to make to it, as I feel it was limping along, not so much injured, more laboured, hazy & unfocused; the attempt to maintain a broadbrush approach to the blog, refusing to devote postings to a particular subject, hasn't worked so far. The changes will become apparent in the near future. The frequency of the postings will also increase. Less can be more, but not in this case.
Politically, the local elections duly delivered on their promise to give New Labour a hefty kick in the John Prescotts. No real surprises, the BNP did make gains, but no more than had been predicted. Locally, the political permafrost failed to crack, the area I live in is tribally Old Labour in an unhealthily dinosaur-like way.

It's a sign of these politically neutered times that the event to get people on Merseyside worked up recently was the FA Cup final & the subsequent homecoming. That said, however, the match was memorable & the homecoming on the Sunday was impressively colourful. True, there weren't as many on the streets as last year when the squad returned from Istanbul, but then again, that was a one-off in various ways. On Scotland Road I noticed a lone piper leading a throng of delerious Liverpool fans on a demented pied piper procession up & down the thoroughfare prior to the coach's arrival.

Musically, the highlight has been the Springsteen album, "We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions". I saw Springsteen with the band in Manchester just over two weeks' ago & it was simply breath-taking. The album is reminiscent of Dylan & Costello in their journeys into the heart of early American popular music. Cajun, folk, blues, worksong, gospel, etc. are all reflected.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Things can only get better

The chickens are coming home to roost, to employ a well-worn phrase, for Blair's New Labour. Until now it has been premature in the extreme to pen this creature's obituary. An electoral machine made up of contradictory, disparate forces, it has surprised even its own acolytes by lasting this long. As I write, the polls have closed in the local elections. For Tony Blair 1997 must seem like decades ago.
A bizarre, yet toxic trinity of Clarke, Hewitt & Prescott has reduced Blair's government to a laughing stock. OK, so Clarke's incompetence at the Home Office over foreign offenders (what a boon to the BNP in the local election campaign, expect them to make gains tonight) is not to be treated with levity. It does, however, remind me of a bumbling, overwhelmed middle manager, woefully out of his depth, yet dementedly babbling to his boss, & anyone else within earshot, that all is well, apart from one or two "operational difficulties".
Time was when local election night would have seen me calling on confirmed Labour voters to ask if they had voted, or if they needed a lift to the polling station. How times change.
STOP PRESS: A blog written by the political editor of the New Statesman, Martin Bright, tonight contained new revelations about one particular released prisoner which will probably drive the final nail into Clarke's coffin.