The leftward and other blatherings of Span (now with Snaps!)

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Looking back in langour

It's the time of year for navel-gazing and introspection. And using redundant words to pad out posts in the hope of looking like there's something new to read.

I quite like the meme Maia has picked up, of posting the first sentence of the first post you wrote each month, to give a summary of your year's blogging. Here's her 2006 effort, and here's mine, all run together to see if they make some kind of decent paragraphs:

I never used to make New Year's Resolutions, but in the last few years I've found them a useful way to give myself a bit of a kick in the arse. For work, for a few days. There's a song by this woman called Jill Sobule, titled "Bitter."

Yes this blog is still in hibernation. I've recently had the good fortune
to be in Europe, specifically Spain, for two major events on the European
competitive calendar - the European Cup* and the Eurovision Song Contest. Yes
I'm still on my travels, currently in Salisbury wrestling with a foreign
computer and blogger doing strange things.

Over at Alas, Rachel S has posted eloquently about how young feminist bloggers need to be more aware of issues for older women. This post has been about eighteen months in the making.

As no doubt every person who has ever read this blog (except ferringers of
course) already knows, the MP for Mangere has been stood down on full pay* while the police investigate various allegations and complaints. Any spare online time I have at the moment is dedicated to a) clearing the spam backlog on my Xtra account(gee I love their spam filter - after only 4 days away for work I had 12MB of spam waiting for me); and, b) afixing labels to the over 600 posts on this blog.

Well the problem is that I'm not really. I've been thinking a great deal of
late about the culture of martyrdom in political movements and organisations,
particularly on the Left.

Well that didn't make much sense. Still, serves its purpose as padding quite admirably methinks.

If Spanblather had a theme this year it seemed to be rape. Bit heavy, I know. But that's where my thinking was at and there were quite a few additional posts about rape that I started but never published. It was all a weird bit of synchronicity that now makes sense to me, although of course it won't to you (nor should it).

However the post I consider my best of 2006 was in fact about pregnancy (despite it's Queen/Bowie-esque title), Under Pressure. It also received the most comments from readers (53), with second place in the comment-stakes going to Is the Young Nats a sexist 0rganisation? (38), just nudging out No vision (Happy 90th to Labour Part II) by 2.

2006 was also the year I discovered (somewhat belatedly) the wonder that is Firefly, and also blogged rather indulgently on the matter of the new Doctor Who. Posts about both of these subjects, and others, can be found in the Sci-fi category. Gosh I love those new labels.

There have been a few periods of breaks, hiatuses, and general states of feeling totally over blogging. More recently though, I decided to make this blog a bit more positive, for myself as the writer, by peppering it with snaps that I rather like. Hopefully this new approach will help me to make it through to the third anniversary of Spanblather in June 2007.

Elsewhere various political bloggers have made their political reviews of 2006 (if I've missed yours feel free to add it in comments), as have many many newspaper columnists and editors. The general consensus seems to be that young English has done better than many expected. Me, I'm still gleefully singing the Toast song. I know I should move on, and really I have, but it's just so damn catchy! Who would have thought, at the beginning of 2006, that Brash* would have been through so much, and ended up with so little. Certainly not me.

I've been frustrated with Labour this year.** They haven't front-footed enough, they've let National make too much of the running. It occurred to me recently that although Hager acted independently of Labour, some people on the red team must have known what was coming, in general if not in specific. So why the big strategic mistake over the election spending issue? If I could make a New Year's resolution for Clark and Cullen it would be "more humility please."

The Greens have been holding up well, poll-wise, despite a lower profile since the loss of Rod Donald. While part of this will be down to climate change becoming the issue of the moment, I think it also highlights two trends a) Labour not doing the left-thing enough, and b) the Greens are seen as a legitimate part of our political establishment now and no longer an unsafe vote. Winston has been away so much it seems unlikely NZ First can re-establish itself in Tauranga (and indeed they haven't been showing any intention to). Act has had a weird year - while Rodney has a high profile the party itself doesn't - and both United Future and the Progressives have continued to appear to be defined wholly and solely (or should that be soully?) by Dunne and Anderton. The Maori Party continues to be politically odd, but Pita Sharples has definitely been awarded his media wrangling badge (although I'm in two minds about the merit of that). And the Alliance got a new President, lost an old one, and seems to have something of a new lease of life if the spandangly website is anything to go by.

One of the coming tests in 2007 will surely be the Maori Party's Foreshore and Seabed Bill, if drawn. While we all know what Labour will do, the intentions of other parties, in particular National, are somewhat opaque at this time. Will Key et al decide to back repeal, although it could mean many legitimate iwi court cases, with outcomes National's heartland supporters are bound to dislike? If I were Key I'd be flooding that Private Members' Ballot with National MP bills to lower the chances I have to make that call any time soon.

Overall I hope that 2007 does not continue the negative politics that came to dominate this year. Quite simply I don't think it's good for democracy, and it certainly isn't good for the Left, because it switches people off - from voting, from participating in democracy, from using and protecting the power they have in our society. At the end of every year I hope the next 52.14 weeks will see more people realise how important our democracy is, and how crucial their personal involvement is for this system to succeed. 2006 has definitely been a step backwards on that long journey.

*Does anyone else remember when Simon Power was the new-MP-most-likely-to-be-National-Leader, before John Key was the new-MP-most-likely-to-be-National-Leader? Or was that all a figment of my imagination? ** Okay, I'm frustrated with Labour every year.

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