Monday 18 May 2009

The emerging great revolt

It is getting stranger, this expenses business, and even rather frightening – and, heavens, I’m only self-employed. I have to charge myself expenses. But I have been thinking about one aspect in the past few days, and it's this.

There is no doubt that the public is very engaged in the expenses story. I keep on overhearing conversations about it on public transport. But the mood seems to be dovetailing with a powerful shift which I’ve been detecting increasingly over the last few months of defiance and revolt against New Labour.

Only today there was the threat by one Steiner School to close down rather than implement the government’s technocratic early years curriculum. "I'm not prepared to struggle on month after month hoping a petty bureaucrat will say this school can continue as it is,” said the head of one of them in the Times Educational Supplement. “I'm not going to kowtow and have children on computers.”

Add this to the list. The police authorities that have rejected government targets. The primary school heads refusing to implement Sats. Something is stirring, and it is important and exciting.

I also think it began with Nick Clegg’s brave and inspirational statement during the leadership election in 2007 that he would refuse to carry an ID card. That was the catalyst it seems to me, but how will this mood dovetail with the public rage at politicians? That’s harder to call, much less predictable and a little nerve-wracking. A bit of populism is urgently needed, but it can be unpredictable, after all.

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