Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Lenin, Obama, Cameron

Curious confluence of celebrations today.

It’s the seventh of November and so, naturally, the anniversary of the October revolution that brought the Communist Party under Lenin to power in what was then Russia and soon became the Soviet Union.

October revolution parade. A bit too military for my taste
There is, of course, a perfectly prosaic explanation for why the revolution apparently took place in the wrong month, but it’s far too tedious to go into the details of differences between the Julian and Gregorian calendars. Much more amusing just to say that the October Revolution took place in November. And, since that’s one of the few amusing aspects of that event, we should cling on to any lighter side it may have. 

Besides, it probably symbolises rather well the way so little in the Soviet Union matched its claims or the hopes many had of it. Hopes, I might add, that many of us maintained long after any rational basis for them had gone, crushed under disappointment and brutality.

This particular seventh of November has a historical significance all of its own, though. Today, after all, the US electorate re-elected as president a so-called black man (half black, half white, so why should he be particularly black? But please don’t answer that question: it was entirely rhetorical). Getting Obama elected once was extraordinary, but giving him a second term, and against a white man of huge wealth, is almost its equal.

Four more years!
Now of course it’s up to him. Obama needs to let himself be Obama. He seems to have the compassion and the commitment to justice to do the job the US so desperately needs. Now he has to find the boldness to make those qualities stick, despite a hostile House of Representatives.

What an example that would set, even back here in Britain. It would do no harm to our would-be reformers to see what can be achieved with brains and courage.

Particularly since their time may not be that far away: because today’s also a watershed moment in Britain. We’re half-way through this parliament, half-way through the legal term of the Cameron government. 

I suppose this sets up another of those glass half-empty type tests: do you belong to the ‘parliament already half gone’ or the ‘parliament only half way through’ school of thought?

For my part, the milestone has a similar emotional effect as the 21st of December. That’s the point in the year when light has been cut back as far as it will go. From then on, the days start to get longer again, and I can genuinely feel that we’re on the way to spring.

Well, it’s the same on 7 November this year, knowing the election is scheduled for 7 May 2015. From now on, there are fewer days left to this government than we’ve endured already.

Don't worry, Dave: we can show you the way out
Now that and Obama’s re-election really gives me something to celebrate this October Revolution day.

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