Growing Up…

22 12 2009

The good thing about blogging is that you can find out what people have searched for in order to arrive at your site. For me this causes much merriment as at the moment I am receiving hits from people searching for “bobcats for sale” and, perhaps even more bizarrely, “comebacks for innuendos about sausages”. I cannot recall ever having posted about either of those subjects, directly or otherwise. Of course I welcome the readers, but am afraid that having arrived at the ‘Field looking for bobcats you may leave disappointed. Naturally I will tag this post with both ‘bobcats’ and indeed ‘sausages’, meaning that you are more likely to arrive here and read this post and be disappointed than you were before. It’s something of a catch-22.

Anyway, onto the real point of why I wanted to blog today when I’ve found a few spare minutes. I was in the pub last night chatting with a mate about many a thing and we moved onto, roughly, the idea of growing up, and how much we’ve grown up since both the first year of university, and indeed, since we have graduated. For me this is brought home by what I considered important then, and what I think of it now.

Take BULS for example. I hadn’t checked their blog for roughly six months until about a week ago, and aside from the painful new layout, the quality seemed to have tailed off into nothingness. Having checked it again today to see if this had improved, I instead find an appeal from the only current writer it seems asking where the conservative opposition which once lit up the comments on pretty much every article has now gone. I think the point is that the writer isn’t producing enough to keep people caring, nor is the style, written and otherwise, particularly appealing.

However, whereas once upon a time I would have had online debates on any given subject on both this blog, and the BUCF site, now I feel a sense of something else. It is a mixture of sympathy and pity. The trouble is that the stuff they are writing is the same stuff that can be found, articulated much better, on any number of websites, or in any number of newspapers. Thus their writing seems almost pointless. Obviously I remain encouraged that people are engaging with politics, and at university is a good place to develop and stimulate political opinion, however it is their continuing sense of self-importance which makes me feel sorry for them. They are small fry, part of a blogging statistic rather than the significant political player they would like to think they are.

Likewise I now look at the university’s Guild of Students, and think how much time I spent there, as well as the time I’ve spent thinking about how to improve it’s involvement in the university. It’s beginning to seem all a little pointless now though. For all intents and purposes I cannot say, from what I’ve seen, that the Guild as both a building and as an institution has developed significantly since when I first started university, despite all the posturing of the council, the officers and other such folk. The devil, I suppose is the scale of things. Whilst at university these things are the world, they involve everyone and need to be fed by the students in order to live. Once you are outside of this circle though there is this amazing thing called ‘the bigger picture’. You come to realise that your university life, your contribution, was nothing but a pointillist dot on a Seurat canvas.

In the world outside university, it matters not that you contributed to this or that, other than it being a CV filler of course. What matters is the person themself. How university has shaped you is more important than what you did whilst you were there. The lasting effect of ‘you’ is more important than being able to say ‘I wrote for the uni’s paper a couple of years ago’. It was important at the time, but it just isn’t anymore.


To Be Lived In Or Learned From…?

12 05 2009

As a historian, this question is one which poses problems. In essence the answer is simple, learn from the mistakes, but never repeat them. In the real world though this is somewhat more difficult to achieve. Instead the solution seems to be to live in the past, using it as a justification for the now, when, in reality, it is far from any such thing.

As someone who not long ago finished university, I still have friends who are currently plodding their way through another set of exams. It is for this reason that I make no apologies in the two cases in point which I wish to use to illustrate my point.

The first comes from the Birmingham University Conservative Future blog, which can be found here. The people over on this blog, of whom, I will admit, I either do not know, or know by name or sight alone; write about, naturally enough things pertaining to the Conservative way of thinking. The trouble is, this invariably leads back to a certain individual, whose shadow sits long on the political landscape. Margaret Thatcher is a name which is as synonymous with political divisions as it is with miners, or the Falklands. Those over on BUCF, perhaps unsurprisingly, seem to write about her and her legacy, with almost metronomic regularity.

Now I do not have a problem with posts about her in small doses, she did divide the nation with her actions. However, the regularity with which she is held up and talked about by those on the site is, for want of a better word, boring. Perhaps more valuable would be a stringent analysis of why the Conservatives, despite Brown’s continuing failings, are failing to impress as the other option. I still see the Conservatives winning the next general election, but smaller groups such as UKIP, the BNP, the Green Party etc will be much better represented than ever before, and I think, certainly in the case of the BNP, this is a political failing of the mainstream parties. For now, the Conservatives seem to be content to ride on the wave of Labour’s self-destruction to the election. This is reflected in the blogging of the folk on BUCF, which seems, to my mind at least, to ignore the larger political issues of the moment in exchange for Labour bashing (which, as fun as it may seem, is counter-productive in the long run).

All of which leads my nicely onto the next problem. Hopping over the political spectrum to the folk at Birmingham University Labour Students, I find a similar problem. They too are stuck lauding over past success in exchange for neglect of current predicaments. In their case, the past success is much more recent, but still, to my mind, is barely enough to hang their hopes on. The minimum wage, undoubtedly a good thing, seems to be left high and dry as the one thing that Labour now really has left following twelve years of government. Their record on child poverty is in tatters, unemployment is now no better, legacies in Iraq, Afghanistan and Ireland have all been left, but we wait to see how soon these may fall apart in volatile areas of the world. It is entirely questionable as to whether healthcare has improved all that much, and whilst there are some shining lights in education, there are really not that many. There was a general enjoyment of success whilst Britain was riding a wave of optimism and big spending in the early years of the government, but this has spectacularly fizzled out as we have hit the ‘bust’ section of the cycle. Labour too has had the misfortune of being the party in power at a stage where increased litigation has forced in the country down a route of increased bureaucracy, something the wider public seems to be growing increasingly frustrated with. All of which inevitably spell curtains for the party as the British government, and this is before we hit the media problems which have dogged the party in recent times. Those on the blog though seem to be ignoring the problems. There is rarely any comment about negative Labour headlines, something I feel is to the detriment of themselves and their readership.

Perhaps it is me, floating around in my idealistic bubble, but I think I would prefer to discuss the problems, agree that there are some, and work out what the party can be doing to overcome these problems. I feel that public acceptance of the problems would be a start, and is certainly better than anonymity. Both sides at the ‘grass-roots’ level of the party perhaps have to move out of the realm of comfort blogging and start considering the bigger issues, which, sooner rather than later one would guess, will become their problems.

Mixed Priorities…

1 10 2008

Having previously enquired on BULS about the problems within the Labour Party, only to be accused of single handedly attacking one of the writers, it is with a sigh that I read the latest post to grace their site. The aforementioned writer (who, it must be said, I do not have any personal gripe with) has posted another article on the sex lives of the Tories.

As I see it therefore, based upon his justification (“I simply cannot be bothered“) for not talking about the internal disputes, and resignations of various MP’s a few weeks ago, the only conclusion to draw is that the priorities from the writer are more focussed upon attacking the Tories than considering their own affairs ‘in house’.

To my mind it seems a case of mixed priorities, it reads as though it is more important to criticise the Tories for various minor sex scandals than it is to consider internal rumblings (which, despite an apparently promising conference), will return sooner rather later to my mind. Why not talk about issues, if they are there to be talked about? Likewise discussion of the various things to come out of the Labour conference would not have gone amiss, but instead we are treated to blogs attacking the other parties.

I therefore am left confused, is this really a ‘Labour’ blog, or is it an ‘anti-other-parties’ blog? How much overlap should there be between the two? If I knew the answers, I would be sure to pass them on.

Note: Since this post another two posts criticising the Tories have popped up on BULS, making it 6 anti-other-party posts in the last week. Out of a total of 9. Hmm.