Gordon R is Gordon B’s Salvation

Hard to imagine isn’t it, that Gordon Ramsay might just have stumbled (however hypocritically) on the answer Gordon Brown needs to survive. It sure won’t be through being advised by Tony Blair (thanks Cherie).

Ramsay has suggested that restaurants should be fined for using out-of-season produce, simple as that. But think about the implications, as the PM stumbles incoherently to find his message, his political voice. It’s all about fairness and responsibility; the new politics to move on from the now thoroughly destroyed Third Way should involve the government tying technology together with its own and consumers’ responsibility. So in Ramsay’s example it’s about not using foreign food just because technology allows us to – it’s trumping that with the notion of its carbon footprint being too big a cost and domestic, not to mention in-season produce being better. It’s rather obvious that you can extrapolate the point across the board:

– We throw away vast amounts of food whilst food prices in the developing world are escalating out of control. And Professor Tim Lang is right – we but also our politicians have to catch up with our inability to use this technology properly. We throw it away because we can, because we don’t feel a direct connection with the consequences of our actions either on the environment or on others elsewhere in the world. We don’t think twice about using out-of-season produce in our own kitchens, nor appreciate that as with restaurant fast food comparison, self-prepared food at home is healthier and often quicker and easier. Government tackling food and our relationship to it at home would have profound environmental consequences, alongside health improvements and would be a core development in a politics where consumers are helped by the government to take responsibility for the choices provided for them.

– Expanding airports, particularly in the south-east is lunacy. The economic case hasn’t been proven for a third runway or sixth terminal at Heathrow, nor for Boris Johnson’s renewed call for the Thames Estuary Airport. Common sense says unlimited expansion isn’t possible anyway, but the environment can’t take all the current planes arriving here as it is. Finally move forward with high speed rail as the Spanish so gleefully have done and realise that as with easy, cheap money, the days of treating flight paths as drag racing tracks to Majorca and Ibiza have to stop. We have the ability to race around the world at low cost whenever we want, but if you keep building airports and expanding them to accommodate this, you factor out any sense of responsibility. People want what they can get – a market that remains utterly free to do as it and its consumers pleases with always produce distortions which the consumers don’t like, such as environmental damage. Time to help them make the responsible choices.

– Walk Away from ID cards. Not only because they’re an illiberal, ineffective idea, but because the government’s central claim is just stupid. We should do it just because the technology already exists? That’s not how technology works – it tends to come from the bottom up; if there’s a pre-existing need and the technology appears it tends to get adopted. Technologies that the government thinks are cute for control of its electorate tend to bring disasters with them – the usage always creeps where it’s not supposed to go, this government has already proven how incompetent it is with handling confidential data, and there’s the likelihood of fraud in a contracted out operation such as this. They would be useless against terrorism, but it’s again a case of a road we mustn’t go down just because we can. There is an inbuilt presumption of guilt in the proposed terms of use of these cards, when we need to tie technology’s use together with responsibility.

If you want fairness then the solutions are also clear: don’t tax the poor to appease the middle classes. That was an electoral wheeze which worked as long as New Labour didn’t squander its political capital. Iraq and Brown’s last gamble as Chancellor – withdrawing the 10p tax band – have seen to that. You don’t go through with the nightmare of 42 days, you issue an immediate asylum amnesty for gay asylum seekers from Iran and other Islamic states, remembering on both counts that one of New Labour’s original claims to legitimacy was Robin Cook’s ‘ethical foreign policy’. It stopped being ethical even during his tenure as Foreign Secretary but Brown could trumpet returning to ethics and fairness as a basis for dealing with foreign affairs as a means of regaining voters’ trust in the Labour Party.

The tragedy is he doesn’t see any of this. It’s absurd that Boris Johnson and David Cameron, the current two most important people in British politics, appear to.

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