Friday, October 14, 2005


I describe myself above as a recovering socialist, and I was asked last night in the pub what this meant. Let me explain.

I have come to believe over time that things are more compex than they seem. I see political issues as a set of problems. Like, should we join the Euro? Is the NHS getting better, and if not, how do we make it better? How do we appoint good judges? These are all problems.

When one attempts to solve a problen, one uses tools, be they physical (problem = flat tyre, solution = jack + wrench + spare wheel) or mental (problem = broken computer, solution = previous experience with computers + deduction). One's mental tools - ideas, axioms, experience, hypotheses, observations - are often synonymous with one's ideology. Left wingers have very very different mental tools to right wingers. A social worker will reach a very different conclusion about Policy X than a banker will. When Charles Kennedy considers the Euro, he applies his positive view of the EU and his experience the advantages of integration. Gordon Brown, an economist at heart, applies very different tools to this problem.

The problem is, is that political problems are all very diffent. Health is a very, very different problem to European integration. And I have come to realise that one ideology - one set of mental tools - cannot solve all problems. I have realised that socialism alone is not sufficient to answer all the questions. My core belief - my core policy - remains full employment. I will not brook any policy that causes unemployment (the source of my current Euroscepticism), because I have seen the catastrophic effects it has on health, crime, housing, and many more things, from the level of the individual to the level of a nation as a whole. But apart from that, I am open-minded enought to see that no one ideology provides all the answers. Melanie Phillips is a good example of someone else who has seen this.


Blogger dearieme said...

I wonder whether you still show one symptom common on the British left viz unfamiliarity with the working man's world and the consequent use of terms learnt second-hand, often from American sources. Wish I had a quid for every time I've heard a leftie say "wrench" for what the working man knows as a spanner. I exclude the socket-wrench which is known by the American term: perhaps your case of a tyre-changing wrench is OK too, but do look out for the phenomenon - it really does exist!

8:34 PM  
Blogger The Moai said...

Maybe it's a regional thing; in Wales the extendable tool that engages with the wheel-nuts is known as a torque wrench. I used to work in Halfords and that's what we called them: (

1:28 AM  
Blogger dearieme said...

yes, torque-wrench passes my test of being what Joe Bloggs calls it, rather than what TV dramatists call it.

5:58 PM  

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