We entered the decade with Gordon Brown as Prime Minister. We leave it with Boris Johnson. As I write this, Robert Elms has announced that he's asking listeners to his BBC Radio London show to compile their songs of the decade. Lets start on a positive note and look at music. This has been great this decade and we've seen a long awaited revival of live music. Check out my top ten tunes of the decade. Apart from Gabriella Cilmi and Bowie, I saw all of these songs performed live. That played a big role in my choice. The Bowie song is sadly the last classic he'll write. The best song from Blackstar
It is reassuring to know that great music is still being made.
Sadly there has been little else to commend the decade. This has been the decade of social media. The decade where we decided that the most important thing in the world was to insult and get angry with complete strangers. It was the decade when we learned the world was in a climate crisis and our very existence was threatened, but we chose to do nothing about it. It was a decade when we elected governments who believe that the way to deal with economic decline was to shrink the economy. This was the decade when we decided our greatest treasures, our elderly and vulnerable should be thrown to the wolves in the name of cost cutting. It was the decade where we decided that the way to deal with homelessness was to build luxury flats to sell to offshore investors. It was the decade where we decided that the answer to our obesity crisis was to cut school budgets, resulting in children being fed crisps and chocolates for lunch in unhealthy packed lunches rather than healthy, nutritionally balanced school meals. It is the decade where Presidents of the United States of America govern via Twitter, insult school age girls who dare to care about the planet and think the destruction of national parks is wise. I'm no Boris fan, but if you think logically about it, he's not Trump, he's not Kim Il Jong, he's not Putin, he's not Xi Jinping, he's not Bashar Al-Assad. Let's keep it all in proportion. I didn't vote for him, but I read yesterday that he's said he's not going to lift the foxhunting ban, so there may be a few mercy's granted. When I write this same blog at the end of the next decade, it will be interesting to see. Whether Boris will continue the stupidity of the last ten years or try an carve a new path, we will just have to wait and see.
As for sport, this was the decade when television really took over. Yesterday we had the first "Amazon Prime" boxing day. I believe this was ultimate folly. This will destroy football. Manchester United were playing Newcastle, a real juicy fixture, yet there were empty seats galore. Sadly it was the decade when Rugby decided to follow the same path. The money has destroyed the old football clubs. The greedy owners of the Man Uniteds and Arsenals thought that they were untouchable, decided to set up the Premier league to forever entrench their dominance. The teenies were the decade when the chickens came home to roost for them. Only Liverpool seemed to stay in touch with their fan base. My team, Manchester City are unrecognisable from the shambolic outfit that started the decade. In a mad world, they are a good team to support, but in truth, I'd go back to the 1970's where any team could win and any team could get relegated.
And then there is the London Borough of Barnet. If there is an epicentre of stupidity in local government the UK, it must surely be here. This has been the decade of Capita. Despite it being 100% clear that the outsourcing has miserably failed, the administration that brought it in was re-elected with a massive increase in the number of Councillors. Of course this was nothing to do with anything other than people seeing Labour as anti semitic and unelectable and deciding to kick the local party, quite rightly, square in the nuts. Of all the organisations which one could deem stupid, the Labour party in Barnet must surely ran very near the top. In three council elections in a row, and four general elections, they have run exactly the same campaign, with exactly the same result every time. In 1992, when they had Alan Williams, a sane, rational and effective leader, non aggression pacts were quietly agreed in key seats, resulting in the Tories being booted out of the council. At the election three weeks ago, Labour decided that it was more worthwhile flooding Finchley and Golders Green with activists, where they had no chance of winning, but could stop the Lib Dems ejecting Mike Freer, rather than throwing everything at Chipping where they probably would have won with an effective campaign. Sadly, I take no pleasure in admitting the Lib Dems played the same game. Boris had the brains to neuter the Brexit Party. I hope Nigel Farage enjoys his peerage. It didn't have to be like this. In the 2012 GLA elections, grassroots campaigners worked together to boot out Brian Coleman, a Tory with a 20,000 seat majority. Labour drew exactly the wrong conclusion, deciding that they won because people thought they were marvellous, than nurturing the fragile coalition of local groups that had turned out to help. Before the 2014 election, the four local bloggers attended a meeting with the local Labour bosses and trades unions to ask how we could help their campaign. We have a huge local readership and were expecting some sort of informal channel where we would be briefed on local campaign themes and events. We got asked if we could deliver leaflets. For the record, I was not a member of any party at the time. I let my membership of the Lib Dems lapse during the coalition years. I rejoined in 2015 after Camerons victory, having decided that local Labour were simply too stupid to bother to support. I believe that the local Tories are actually completely useless and are there for the taking, if the opposition ever gets its act together, but there is only a slightly better chance of that than Boris giving me a peerage.
Finally, a few words about the local blogosphere. The decade saw the Rise and Fall of the Barnet bloggers. At the end of 2009, there was myself, John Dix and Vicki Morris blogging, but not really working together. In 2010 Theresa Musgrove took my advice and started her own blog. In 2011 Derek Dishman joined in the fun. Between 2011 and 2016, we made quite a name for ourselves. Vicki moved out of Barnet and gradually the harmony and collaboration has dried up. There was virtually no blogging by the other bloggers about the election. John and Derek managed zero on the topic of the election and Theresa Musgrove managed one, supporting the Pyrrhic Labour campaign in Finchley and Golders Green that ensured a Tory victory. I am loath to criticise my fellow bloggers, but it was yet another symptom of the general malaise that has desceneded over Barnet. Of course none of them may have been in the slightest bit interested in the outcome of the election, but we all have a platform. I did my bit on the blogging front, I believe that as I have a platform it should be used. I will say no more other than it is a fitting end to the decade of stupidity.
This year, we booked the Midland Hotel for the Barneteye awards before the election was on the horizon. When we found out that it was the day after, I had a huge dilemma, knowing that it would be completely overshadowed. Do I cancel or do we go ahead. As we celebrate our local hero's I decided that going ahead was the only decent thing to do. It was a great night. As I saw the amazing people we awarded, I realised that this is worth while.
I hope and I pray that the next decade is better, I hope that as a race we grow up and start treating our planet as we should do. I will do my bit whether ten people or ten million read the blog. I'd like to think it is one thing I do ok, we'll that and write tunes! Here's one I co wrote, please have a listen, I think it's rather good