Thursday, 29 April 2010

Meanwhile, back in Ithaca

Woken by a text message from a friend in Greece who had just seen the Gordon Brown Rochdale footage. "That's it finished," he concludes.

"Doesn't Greece have enough problems without having to tune in to the British election?" I text back.

Labour campaigners, and my Greek textmate is one of them, will be understandably gloomy this morning after that disaster on the doorstep for Brown.

Refocusing on the bigger picture, the economy, the danger of a Tory win for the poor, and how the progressive agenda could be unwound will be difficult.

But in our close-up focus on the 24-7 news story the political village we're prone to forget that for most people the election is about more than one woman on the doorstep and unguarded remarks that every politician, as Nick Clegg said, has made at some time.

And that early morning text from Greece - it's like a tweeting canary in my own coalmine vision of anything outside the election campaign.

Everything that has gone on into the campaign, and everything that might come out of it, could be wiped out by an economic hurricane coming out of Athens and quickly consuming the continent.

In that context the election hoopla reminds me the final scene from the Coen brother's movie, A Serious Man. All the plot lines have been resolved, the family unit has survived, the film looks like ending where it began, in an orderly school in the American Mid-west. The outcome looks assured.

Then, on the horizon a big, black tornado bears down on the school, sweeping away everything in its path.

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