Thursday 3 March 2022

How did we end up back in the 1970's but without punk rock?

 What has happened. A couple of weeks ago we were living in 2022, with 2022 problems, such as covid pandemic variants, Brexit chaos and  internet trolls to exercise our minds. Then Boris Johnson announced the end of the pandemic and in one fell swoop, we are back in the 1970's. This weeks words are cold war, , strikes, cost of living crisis and energy crisis. I'm mildly surprised that Boris hasn't announced a three day week. I often find myself feeling nostaligic for the 70's, I loved the music, the cars, the TV, the football and the trains of the era. However all Boris has managed to bring back is the very worst. It has been a long time since I heard the phrase mutually assurred destruction and heard counts of Russian tanks on the news. Of course, Boris Johnson can do little about much of what Putin does or says, but clearly he is important enough to warrant huge donations from Russian Oligarchs to the Tory Party. I do wonder whether we've misread these. They must have known that Putin was going slowly off his rocker and I do wonder whether the cash was more about ensuring they had a Western bolthole when Russia implodes rather than trying to say "Knock it off Boris, we've paid your wages, do as your told". Sadly for Boris, there really is no excuse that cuts the mustard for allowing rich foreigners to buy influence over the government. I suspect that the relative acqueisence of Labour on the subject is as much to keep the skeletons in their own cupboards firmly locked in, but that is just a wild guess really. 

What was interesting was that much of the chaos in the UK was not down to the USSR. the cost of living crisis was down to the ineptitude of both Labour and Tory governments under Wilson and Heath to manage the economy. Although many Tories think that the prospertity of the 90's was down to Thatcher, it was as much down to the economic stability of EU membership. When Boris enacted Brexit, he put us back to a position that was worse than pre membership in 1973. Prior to joining the EU, we had trade deals with all manner of nations and were also members of EFTA. We also had significantly stronger armed forces, something that have virtually been dismantled as the EU seemingly guaranteed peace in Europe. 

My biggest fear about Brexit was never about trade with the EU, although this was significant. It was that the UK would bot be at the table when the EU discussed existencial threats to Europe, of which we will always be a geographical part, regardless of what Brexiteers believe. We have no control over what happens across the channel now. It is well accepted that Russia and Putin covertly supported Brexit. This was clearly because they feared a united Europe on their doorstep. However much Boris calls leders of EU and Nato countries and pops in for visits, that is not the same as having UK diplomats at the table as an EU response is coordinated. it is noticeable that EU sanctions against Oligarchs are far more stringent and rigorous than those in the UK. The EU is a very different beast to the Common Market that we joined. Many former Soviet satellite nations are members and all would have preferred us in the club, as we've traditionally supported them.  Not only are we in the pre 1973 1970's politcally in Europe, we are there with ur hands tied behind our back.

There are other almost amusing parallel's. Our Railways have reverted to diesel haulage of freight trains as electricity is to expensive for electric locomotives. There are some fine locomotives built in the early 1960's still playing an important role some 60 years later. Visa's and passport stamps are back in lovely blue passports. In football Chelsea have once again started to worry about their financial future (remember save the shed protests). 

In fact the only thing that seemingly isn't coming back is 70's music. The era spawned punk rock, my favourite musical genre. It's interesting to note that there was so little reference to the Cold War in the music. Of that era, only Bowie's heroes really comes to mind. It always amused me that this anthem was about Bowie watching his producer Tony Visconti snogging his girlfriend in Berlin. I'm sure there are others, but the only punk track I can recall that referenced Russia was 'Disco in Moscow' by the Vibrators. I gave my copy to my Russian brother in law when he first came over as a birthday present. 

A wise man once said "Everything changes but nothing really changes" It seems to be quite true today. 

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