Thursday, February 23, 2006

Trivia sidelights - maybe 

Sweating over the ballot paper, which goes in as soon as I have some feedback on the final hustings…

This is an education for many of us I suspect as we have to try to make up our minds on the basis of the kind of information a voter gets in a national election instead of being part of a pre-focussed team. Even those of us on a strong commitment for first preference may have to sweat over the second…

Small things may swing votes yet I suspect. I found myself in momentary confusion a few days ago over a newspaper headline saying ‘(Scottish name) calls for ( a policy position)’ and had to stop a moment to sort out my Campbells from my Camerons.

A thought – will this be even more confusing for apolitical voters paying only half-attention to the news? Not a reason for voting against Ming really, but a reminder that when we get past this inwards looking stage on March 2nd all sorts of small things will get added prominence, like grit does in trainers.

But my biggest trivia meditation is on my preferred candidates historic political hero. As an economist I presume Chris is familiar with Keynes’ great attack on the architects of the 1919 ‘Peace Settlement’ namely his pamphlet ‘The Economic Consequences of the Peace’. Keynes thought the Versailles treaty was a disaster setting Europe up for another war. He had a good line of invective of a kind we have rather toned down in modern times. President Wilson was characterised as a ‘Blind and deaf Don Quixote’, Clemenceau of France as having ‘one illusion – France and one disillusion –Mankind’ (no change in French political culture in recent years then). Lloyd George got this epitaph, cut from the first edition of the pamphlet but widely circulated thereafter:

‘This goat-footed bard, this half-human visitor to our age from the hag-ridden magic and enchanted woods of Celtic antiquity’
Ouch. I wonder what Keynes would have made of Devolution? In the circumstances some credit to Lloyd-George for taking up Keynesian ideas in his later economic programmes.

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