..the things that set the parameters of our ideas. Those formative events and thoughts that go with us on whatever weird trajectory we take through life. Politics is always like that, which is one of the reasons I mourn Robin Cook.
A short list of my own founding concerns would run something like this: The long recession of the 80s/early 90s, and the ERM crisis. I know the late 80s were pretty good statistically, but I doubt anyone would have noticed it had they had to base their estimates on West Yorkshire. Bradford, and Leeds for that matter, looked like there was a war on and we were losing. Now there is, we're losing, and they are much improved. It's the economy, stupid...and it was, both economic and stupid.
The Criminal Justice Act, 1994, Roads for Prosperity and such. And, just as importantly, the impassioned opposition to them. I still find it positively insane that the government tried to make music it didn't like illegal...and then I see the government wants to censor bookshops. I'm still angry about the Major government's insane transport policy and the violence it deployed to push it through, and even more so about them comparing themselves to the Romans whilst they were at it. And then I see the government busy widening the M25...
Bosnia. This is why I'm not a pacifist - after the years of obfuscation and hand-wringing, it turned out that a little force would have been enough to stop it all along. It also turned me on to the European achievement of keeping the peace in a continent of national states, and its failings. Much of the Iraq debate, at least in its blogospheric form, is essentially an extension of the Balkans and "Humanitarian Intervention" - if you were up for Kosovo, it seems, you were up for Iraq. Most of the "Decent Left", or whatever they call themselves this week, are essentially the remnant of the old intervention lobby less the ones who realised that the Iraq war was insane. Which makes me an outlier on the political graph - I agree with the idea of humanitarian intervention, and I see a need for a clearer legal doctrine, but I was against the Iraq invasion from before the word "go" for a mixture of moral and strategic reasons.
Aitken, Archer, and BSE. Ah, the classic scandals. When you next hear rightwing people howling about "Oil for Food", you better remind them of how a cabinet minister who had financial interests in the sale of dual-use gear to Iraq intervened in a criminal case to keep evidence secret. And how John Major, who conventional wisdom now says was "portrayed as sleazy" by Alistair Campbell, changed the Bill of Rights of 1688 so Jonathan Aitken could sue the Guardian - entirely fraudulently, in the process inducing his daughter to perjure herself. I remember delivering the newspapers through how many dark winter mornings, reading the latest eruption of sleaze or monster policy in the headlines. I can still remember where I was when I delivered the Grauniad's He Lied And Lied And Lied issue, but not A Liar And A Cheat, although I remember reading it.
Which pretty much sets the picture for most of my political concerns. Obviously, I didn't take any of them that far. I didn't run away to lash myself to Manchester Airport or join the Mujahideen. Some people did.
(Please note - I'm working up to another post about West Yorkshire, multiculturalism, and the recent past, but it's going to be tough. As is the long-delayed Chichakli.com rebuttal.)