Tag Archives: yabloko

Welcome to my day: 19 February 2024

It’s been a slightly depressing week in some ways, and promising in others.

Two by-elections saw crushing defeats for the Conservatives, which I think would generally be seen as a “good thing”, even if we weren’t the winners. In truth, it was hard to see a scenario where we would be – in both Kingswood and Wellingborough we’ve been a long way adrift even in relatively good years – and 2024 isn’t that good. There’s an increasing clear sense that voters just want to see the Conservatives gone, and will vote for whoever is seen as most likely to achieve that.

And now the Conservatives can give us all a preview of what will happen after a crushing General Election defeat (if that comes to pass), as they fight like rats in a sack for whatever cause floats their boat this week. Should they respond to Reform’s vote by moving even further to the right, or can relatively centre-right MPs move the Party back towards the centre? We kind of know who’ll win that argument, given that supposed One Nation Tories have folded at every key moment, and can only hope that, if they do veer rightwards, their demonstrable incompetence will prevent too much damage to our society.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 12 Comments

From Russia with Loathing

I got my first taste of Russia and the other side of the Iron Curtain on a schoolboy visit to Moscow and Odessa in 1976. Brezhnev was the Soviet Leader and the Soviet Union was in the middle of a hot Cold War with the West.

The contrast between East and West could not have been greater.

In Russia, apart from in the hard currency shops, consumer goods were in noticeably short supply, as was anything edible except for seasonal produce. The efforts of shadowy black marketeers, who descended on our group at every touristic stopover, whispering ‘buy jeans, dollars, chewing gum’ would have done little to plug the supply shortages.

In hotels, we were under constant surveillance, with a babushka sitting at a desk, at the end of every corridor. The promised day with a Russian family, the much-anticipated highlight of our trip, was cancelled without explanation.

It was only on a visit to a secondary school that we detected some common experiences shared with our Russian peers – an interest in heavy metal bands Led Zeppelin, Motorhead and Van Halen, and scruffy torn denims.

Returning to Moscow last year, over forty years later, jeans were available in all sizes and price ranges, chewing gum could be purchased in every flavour imaginable and the supermarkets were bulging with produce flown in from around the world.

Posted in Europe / International and Op-eds | Also tagged | 8 Comments
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