Friday 5 April 2019

The march of the millenials, bring it on

From my Daily Record column today
THERE have been some stunning sights outside Westminster recently, few of them inspiring.
However, walking across Parliament Square a few weeks ago, paying more attention to my phone than the surroundings, I blundered into one of the climate change school strikes.
The sheer energy, the passion, the justice of what the kids are demanding -that their parents to wake up to the emergency - left me tinged with shame that my generation have not done our duty.
I went to Parliament Square last Friday too, on what should have been a Brexit celebration day but was turned into a Leave means Leave rally against establishment betrayal.
The combination of waxed cotton jackets and the smell of cannabis skunk, the littered beer cans and the Union Flags aloft, made it too easy to dismiss this as an exhibition of fringe English nationalism, with a dark undercurrent of far-right infiltration.
Once these forces are harnessed in England, as they have been in the US, in Hungary and across the western world, politics could go down a dark tunnel.
As the demonstration was going on, Laura Kuenssberg was confronting bumbling populist Boris Johnson about his culpability in unleashing the chaos.
"We're talking in your office while Tommy Robinson is on a stage outside," said Kuenssberg, foreshadowing more than her Brexit Storm documentary, broadcast on Monday.
"Is that who it is?" replied Johnson, clearly caring little about how far the tide runs out from the centre ground.
Who will turn that tide? A 69-year old North Islington socialist who sees himself as more Allende than Attlee? No: the only people who will save us now are the kids.
The name everyone is talking about is Pete Buttigieg (how dare he have a name harder to pronounce than mine?).
He's 37, the eight-year mayor of a small city in the mid-west and a veteran of the Afghan war, and he wants to run for president of the USA in 2020.
If he wins, he'll be the youngest in history.
But Mayor Pete has more government experience than the current president and more executive experience than the vice-president.
He told TV host Stephen Colbert that his youth was his reason to run.
He said: "I belong to the school shooting generation - in high school when Columbine happened.
Our generation provided most of the troops after 9/11, we're at the business end of climate change and the first generation ever to make less than their parents.
"No one has more at stake right now than younger people coming up."
Buttigieg is a long shot and could be steamrollered by machine politics, but British political trends tend to follow the US and he's a signal.
Extending the pulse back to Scotland, it is perhaps already too late for the current cadre of change politicians.
The Sturgeons, Robertsons and Wilsons, all veterans of 2014, will always be viewed by the 55 per cent as the torchbearers who tried to sell them short the first time around.
These ambitious politicians have to realise (they probably do), that to succeed, nationalism must not just change but skip a generation too.
The person who wins politics back for the progressives will talk in the language of "we, the people" without leaving half the population grinding at their identity being misappropriated.
We might go to the despairing bottom of the "us and them" tank before resurfacing with leaders who bring together rather than divide.
But if there is hope, it is with young politicians, people the age Sturgeon was when she entered Holyrood 20 years ago.
If you know any, get them to watch Pete Buttigieg. Get them to be Pete Buttigieg.