Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Revolution in rural England

Last night, I gave a talk on Barack Obama at the truly excellent Lowdham Book Festival. During the ensuing discussion, we inevitably turned to British politics. While I wouldn't want to make assumptions about the political make-up of the around 100 strong audience who were locals in the main, it seems a fair estimate to assume that a good chunk were natural Conservatives. In the County Council elections a few weeks ago the Conservatives took Farnsfield and Lowdham 3333 to Labour's 879.

First thing to say is that the enthusiasm in rural Nottinghamshire for Barack Obama's story and the politics that he represents is just as great as anywhere else I have spoken in the UK. That didn't surprise me.

What truly surprised me was that the notion of political change wasn't something that the audience thought should be reserved for the other side of the Atlantic. They are demanding change here too. And it is not just a change of Government that they were interested in. It was a change in the whole way of doing politics. The general consensus seemed to be that an intolerable chasm had opened up between people and their representatives. They want more say- including the introduction of primaries- and they've had enough.

Parliament has to realise quickly that there now is not only a consensus for major political change but there is a demand for it as well. The election of the new speaker has done absolutely nothing to change that. Sorry guys and girls- if MPs think for a moment that this can simply be brushed under the carpet they have another thing coming. It is strange when you have a Labour writer and activist in a natural Tory stronghold and they enthusiastically agree with one other. Interesting times.......

Post script: Thank you to the BTBS- the book trade charity- for sponsoring the event.

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