Following on from Benjamin Solah given me five words that remind her of me. The point of this meme is to take the five words and “waffle” about what they mean to you. Ben gave me Environment, Elections, Linking, Britain and Party.
I don't pretend to be an expert on most environmental issues but it seems clear that if we don't radically change our behaviour climate change will change it for us - possibly irreversibly, although let's hope not. Every party from left to right now recognises the urgency of the task but few seem willing to take real action to address the level of pollutants the human race pumps into the atmosphere.
Often the environment, which of course is not just about climate change, is an addendum onto people's manifestos without any accompanying action to demonstrate a real understanding that our global society faces a real threat. There are honourable exceptions to this, not confined to any one political perspective, and I try to be one of them - occasionally successfully.
It was a massive step forward for my political development when I started to get involved in electoral politics because it was the first time I really took seriously what mass politics was about. One of the beauties of elections is that you deal in hard figures - you can tell yourself everyone agrees with your politics and you speak for the people but if you get 1% of the vote you have to look yourself in the mirror and say "Maybe I ain't as popular as I first thought".
It's demoralising to do badly in an election, but unless you set your bar high enough to try to win over the majority of people in an area you're just conducting an academic exercise, not fighting for political ideas. Lip service to grass roots organising isn't enough, the best organisers prove in practice that they can win people to their ideas at the ballot box as well as elsewhere.
There's also a manners aspect to it. If I quote someone I try to remember to link to them out of courtesy, even if I didn't approve of what they were saying. As a reader I like to be able to check the context of any quote and it beefs up your argument if you can withstand your sources being scrutinised.
An internet without links would be like toast without marge - edible, but only just. I guess it encourages good habits too. It seems to me that the best blogging doesn't see itself in competition with others but places itself as part of a community of ideas that it is happy to share.
Certainly I'd like to see the political entity of Britain scrapped; I associate it with a poverty of aspirations and endemic inequalities although I suppose if I lived in France, Paraguay or Ghana I'd have similarly negative feelings. Maybe not though.
I'm definitely a cultural product of the UK and many of the national characteristics and habits are deeply embedded in me to be honest, but I've no interest in whether or not some silver spoon wins at Wimbledon just because they have the same colour passport as me.
In fact that's why parties need to be able to welcome criticism on occasion and use it as an opportunity to improve. If someone points out to you that you have a terrible policy on (taking an uncontroversial example) policing being able to say "Yes, you're right, we'll have a look at that" is so much healthier than going to the mattresses.
If I want to have that breadth that allows me to be myself it also means that I have to respect in turn that others aren't always going to see things my way. That has occasionally been difficult but in general I'm fairly relaxed about political differences as long as we can all discuss them civilly and take a proper vote where necessary.
For me significant political parties represent a melange of social movements and tendencies - but in a clumsy and specific fashion. They are useful only in so far as they allow the individual to promote their political ideas more effectively and are dangerous when they entrench bad habits and self interest over their philosophical raison detre.
If anyone wants to be tagged let me know in the comments box and I'll be happy to oblige you with five words of my choosing!