Friday, June 29, 2007

Weather and Politics: Has anything really changed?

They say that things go in circles but at times I am quite sure that the circles become a little irregular over time.

The weather has been tempestuous in the last week but, as my Mother always says, the weather has had moments like this in the past. The floods in Sheffield were a little surprising and I sat there I remember walking down the roads we have been seeing on the news. The area that featured heavily on the news (the lower Don valley), though, had been raised as an area that was at risk from flooding. I know this as it was one of the concerns of the developers I spoke to when researching my MA dissertation on the area. What goes around, comes around but in a far more disastrous way than anyone could have imagined.

Likewise, you remember that the weather on May 2nd 1997, some ten years ago, that the weather was a glorious, sunny day. It was a remarkable day and felt more like mid-July than early May. It felt like things were changing as we excitedly welcomed a new regime and the cycle of the weather just seemed to represent that.

So, in completing that cycle, it seems logical that we have unusual weather at the end of that regime and the start of a new one. It is one of the wettest Junes in history which could be seen as a metaphor for what is happening in UK politics. However, the picture is more complex than that.

Ten years of Blair could be seen as marred by one word: Iraq but that misses out on some of the other problems. No clearer position on Europe than when he came to power, higher taxation, tuition fees and continuing funding problems for the NHS, transport and education are all part of the negative legacy. Life is, though, rarely as simple as that. We’ve also seen a vast collection of positive change including increased funding in public services, the environment at the heart of the political agenda, tackling (though not resolving) world poverty, Northern Ireland, a stable economy, Civil Partnerships and a far more equal, just and liberal society.

So, in a way, it seems appropriate that the weather was neither the glorious sunshine of 2nd May 1997 nor the downpours of 26th June 2007. Instead, 27th June was a mixture of sunshine and showers. A far more fitting, British and balanced response by the weather to the changes in Downing Street.



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