I hope glib generalisations may be forgiven at this time, when we take stock and look forward to the New Year. It feels as if we are in for a grim period, and that the economic best is behind us.
Pundits talk about the recession as if it will last only a matter of months. But in my view, the economic cycle is more realistically measured in decades. The postwar period in Britain can be summed up as follows:
- 1950’s Austerity and rebuilding
- 1960’s Exciting new era
- 1970’s Industrial conflict, stagnation
- 1980’s Recession, social conflict heralding a new order and increasing prosperity
- 1990’s Political turmoil followed by rapid growth, in tandem with widening social gap
- 2000’s Growth continues, but in a climate of fear, war, and increasing authoritarianism ultimately leading to political disillusionment. Then global economic collapse.
So, times were great in the 1960’s, and between the late 1980’s to (say) 2001. Very broad brush, I know. But it occurred to me that these eras also produced the best popular music too.
So, a majority of voters in all of Greater Manchester’s 10 boroughs voted against the controversial plans to impose a congestion charge on commuters. A sensible result – but I wish the money had been spent on improving public transport instead of feasibility studies, glossy brochures and those haunting posters of vacant looking people who claimed they would be voting yes.
In a unanimous judgment by the European Court of Human Rights (comprising 17 senior judges from across Europe) two men have successfully argued that, by keeping their DNA and fingerprints on file, South Yorkshire Police violated their rights. The judges ruled the retention of the men’s DNA “failed to strike a fair balance between the competing public and private interests,” and that the UK government “had overstepped any acceptable margin of appreciation in this regard”.
The court also ruled “the retention in question constituted a disproportionate interference with the applicants’ right to respect for private life and could not be regarded as necessary in a democratic society”.
The British government fought them tooth and nail – and still lost. The policy of keeping a police database of some nine million innocent citizens’ DNA in England, Wales and Northern Ireland will surely now have to be brought in line with Scotland, and our other less authoritarian European partners.