Monday, 26 January 2015

100 days to go. Or, it's all Greek to me

It's beyond a cliche to say we are living in tumultuous times. Yesterday's election result in Greece is just the latest aftershock from the global economic & political earthquakes that are coming to define the 21st Century to date. The Greek electorate's support for Syriza & their rejection of the "imposed austerity" from the EU & IMF reaffirms the sense that many of the existing political certainties in the West are crumbling. In place of these lost certainties remain only questions: what next for Greece? For the EU? For the Euro?

Today also marks 100 days to go to the British General Election.  The countdown is underway with a background of increasing pluralism.  The two traditional parties may still be out in front of all the challengers, but the potential make up of the next administration is open to many possibilities. LibDems, UKIP, the Greens, the nationalists in Wales & Scotland, & the idiosyncrasies of Northern Irish politics are all potential elements to be considered & factored in to possible scenarios.  

Many commentators have pointed to the rise of non-mainstream parties as being a voice for populism, whether it's left wing in Greece, right wing in Holland, or (as seems to be the case in the UK) a bit of both. The narratives of these non-traditional parties can often be summarised fairly simply: the mainstream "elite" got us into this mess & don't care about ordinary people, only we can be the voice of the masses.  Whether you blame capitalism, immigration, banks, neoliberalism or wind farms, there is a simple answer to all of the West's ills.  

It is therefore vital that during these changing times, political parties & movements are scrutinised & questioned over their motives, but also that they are explained & contextualised.  During the last few days I've become ever more thankful for the insight & analysis of particular journalists & broadcasters. Freedom of the press has rightly been a very pressing concern following the events in Paris, but often the daily grind of news & current affairs can be viewed with cynicism. I'd like to sing the praises of some of Britain's journalists who don't make the headlines for phone hacking, but do make news stories that help to bring understanding, knowledge and daylight into an often murky world.  A fine example is Paul Mason's reporting from Greece for Channel 4, bringing a depth of history & nuance to an often complex & confusing scene.  & the introduction of 100 constituencies in 100 days from the Today programme promises a range of insight & human stories from around the country beyond the Westminster village. 

2015 is shaping up to be a year of radical change. Let's give thanks to the voices that help us understand (at least in part) what's going on. 

Edit 30.01.15: links below

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