It has been a very, very difficult year for everyone I know. In December, I usually have a round up of various things from the year. Around this time, I start reading through blogs posted in the intervening 12 months, trying to work out what sort of year its been. Today I took the first tentative steps towards putting those blogs together. I thought I'd start by looking at the blogs from early December 2019. I started with the blog from this very day last year. It seems odd that back then the story was the election, Jeremy Corbyn and whether the Lib Dems could oust the Tories in Finchley. Both the Lib Dems and Labour have new Leaders as a result of the election. I was told by someone who works at the hospital where Boris was treated, that the Tories also nearly got a new Leader due to Covid. Some have cast doubt on how ill Boris really was, imagining a conspiracy to boost his ratings, but from what I've heard, if anything his illness was underplayed rather than overplayed. I think that in hindsight it is a massive loss that Luciana Berger failed to take Finchley and Golders Green from the Tories. It may not have changed the maths of the general election by much, but I genuinely believe that she would have done a far better job of representing the local people than Mike Freer MP ever will do. The local Labour Party, which was never warm on Corbyn, should hang their head in shame that they did everything they possibly could to prevent a Tory loss in a seat they simply couldn't win. But that seems a long time ago.
We now have Ed Davey and Keir Starmer running the Lib Dems and Labour. I genuinely can't make my mind up about Starmer. One has to admire the way he forensically dissects Boris Johnson on a weekly basis. It has got to the point where Boris Johnson has seemingly given up even trying to win. He simply trots out fairly mindless slogans such as "Captain Hindsight". This may be effective if Starmer hadn't predicted the problems in advance. If he called him "Captain Smug Bastard Know it All Mc Told You So" it may ring truer. It puzzles me why Boris doesn't pick Starmer up for his smugness. If I were Boris, I'd take the tack of saying "it's all very well standing there looking smug just because you occasionally get something right, but I've got a country to run". It would also help if Boris bothered to do his homework. If just once, he learned all of the facts and figures and actually answered a few questions properly at #PMQ's it might actually cause a problem to Starmer. My big problem with Starmer is that he looks exceptionally good at shooting dead haddocks in a barrel. I have struggled to work out my reticence to like Starmer and I think part of it is that I have a very British urge to support the underdog, even when it is a complete knob like Johnson. I'd actually like to see Johnson do a bit better so we could see what Starmer was really made of. My worry is that he's Tony Blair MkII. A man who always is assured at the despatch box, a man who commands a very good team, but also a man who believes in nothing at all. As my blog from last year recalled, the problem with Jeremy Corbyn wasn't that he was a Marxist ideologue, ruthlessly prepared to do whatever it took to get his hands on power. The problem was that he was a rather like a radical left wing geography teacher, who had his head in the clouds and no clue how to run a party. Like a radical lefty geography teacher, he would obsess on his pet causes in far flung parts of the world, whilst his own party and campaign fell apart. A ruthless Marxist would have sacked anyone who stood in their way and made sure they controlled the levers of power in their own party. Corbyn did none of this, which is why his own team undermined and destroyed him.
It always seemed to me that the threat posed by Corbyn to anyone was massively overstated, because with all of his lack of organisational ability, there was no chance that he'd ever win anything. Many were spooked by the result of the election where Theresa May lost her majority, but there was never the slightest chance that Corbyn would be Prime Minister without an unmanageable rainbow coalition, that would never have done anything, apart from pork barrel the Nationalists in Ireland, Wales and Scotland.
I fully expected Boris to be a disaster as a PM. Sadly, as none of us foresaw covid, I didn't expect that the depth of the disaster would be 60,000 deaths within a year. We are less than a month from Brexit with no idea whether there will be a deal. As a business owner, for the first time in 41 years I look forward to a New Year not knowing if my business will still be around in a years time. By my maths, if the current situation of lockdowns and restrictions on live music goes on much beyond April, then carrying on as we are will be impossible. What that means I don't know, but you can only carry on with a 50% drop in turnover for so long. When we start having to pay rates again, we will see a crunch. We are not the only business in that position. I know of several studios that have cashed their chips in now, whilst they still have cash in the bank. The sad truth is that if there is no live music, then few musicians will be able to justify the cost of paying for rehearsals. I was talking to one professional drum tech today, who was telling me that he's got a 'proper job' for the first time, selling insurance for new kitchens. I asked him how it was going. He replied that it was OK, he had finally managed to get a mortgage. A sad reflection on our society. Don't get me wrong, I won't go down without a fight, but a business is only a business if it has customers. The only small ray of light, and it is not one I say with any joy, is that many of our competitors have closed, so we are getting new customers from all over London, who have lost their regular studios. I suppose if things come back by April, we may even have our best year ever, but I won't be placing any bets on that.