This is a last posting before a 'radio silence' of some six or seven days, unless I blog from a library. So come back from 1st October or thereabouts soon after.
I know I will miss commenting on the repercussions of Rowan Williams using the word "pass" as regards any personal hope of his that one day gay bishops can have partners, and that he didn't want to put his "thumbs on scales". No, but he does want to cause damage, by his Covenant and centralising Catholic agenda; and being neither one thing nor the other in this self-presentation he causes damage again by frustrating everybody. His "pass" was whether there could be a way to overcome his view that the scriptural and traditional approach does not give much ground for being "positive" about bishops having gay partners, and that the Church "doesn't know what to do." He must think he has met an impasse of applied theology. First of all, there are Anglican Churches, not a Church, and on their own many of them do know what to do. This is why it is his agenda that keeps causing damage.
I will also miss commenting on the result of the Labour Leadership, although I did watch it live and assumed from their faces that David Miliband had won. He was grinning and smiling, but perhaps it was laughing off or ironical smiling, whereas the weight of the future was dropping on to Ed Miliband. We knew that second preference votes might do the job, and it did: Ed Balls was on the Gordon Brown side of the party, and his second preference were enough to tip Ed (also on that side) over the winning line, but then that was the case for all of them, just. Another weakness has to be that trade unionists used a second vote (second if also individual Labour voters, but who'd vote if not Labour? - and then only 9% eligible did, thus individual votes having a huge impact for a full third of the electoral college) and it was these votes that pushed Ed Miliband just into first place.
I think he is sufficiently different to take a slightly different course, although his distinctiveness was an argument about the past. He has got to repeat those areas where the coalition government is progressive: in civil liberties and decentralisation to actual communities (not companies, enterprises - not capitalists, not quangos). Will Ed Miliband support electoral reform, so that he is more likely to lead a coalition next time than not?
I know some Liberal Democrats have switched to Labour already. I am a potential Labour voter, as I did in 1997. But despite partial anti-Tory reasoning I have not gone over yet. I am waiting to see what difference the Liberal Democrats make: Labour was not friendly to the unemployed and those who found themselves in difficulty, and neither is this government. I still have to say that Ian Duncan Smith, a Tory, might do better than many of them (bizarrely) - but his approach will cost more at least in the early days even if it saves later. The Treasury won't want it. The danger, a real worry, is intensifying the underclass that already exists, especially as the cuts must means some public squalor. One can imagine the councils no longer able to afford services like grass cutting along roads, for example, and then sacking all the workers, and then the unemployed being forced to cut the grass verges as being forced to do something. Over and again, there could be activity placed on the unemployed done by people once with jobs, and I bet the unemployed are given inappropriate tasks as well. If this is what happens: mass unemployment and forced unemployment labouring, then Labour will get my vote too, so long as it has an economic strategy to work, and as long as the unemployed are not its own knocking copy.
However, we don't know what will happen yet. I thought the Liberal Democrat conference was a good one, and that the coalition is workable, but I've yet to hear the Conservatives, and if the Liberal Democrats prop up their worst features then they will pay dearly. But at this stage Ed Miliband must not assume that he will simply walk in next election as Prime Minister, whether in or out of another coalition.
Back in a week.
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