During the interval at last night’s magnificent Arvo Pärt concert at the Bridgewater Hall I sneaked a look at the latest news on my phone. At the Brussels eurozone summit, Greece was being forced to accept financial colonialism in terms as humiliating as those imposed on Germany at Versailles in 1919.
Back in the concert hall, the programme of Pärt’s sublime continued with his impassioned work for orchestra and solo soprano, Como cierva Sedienta. With its declamatory choruses, it seemed to speak to the ugly mood in Brussels:
Judge me, O God, and plead my cause against an ungodly nation: O deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man.
Why hast thou forgotten me? Why go I in mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?
My sense that the music somehow echoed the confrontation in Brussels perhaps offers a partial explanation for the enormous popularity of Pärt’s music in…
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As some of you may have heard, there is a General Election due to take place in the UK on Thursday 7th May. David Cameron has announced that if elected he will bring in a law to stop him raising taxes, presumably to be followed by a law making crime illegal. Meanwhile, Ed Miliband has pledged to erect a stone tablet with 6 pledges inscribed in the back garden of 10 Downing Street where only he as prime minister can see it.
Amongst the many issues that have been pushed into the background is expanding the franchise. It is important in a democratic system that no person should be denied the right to vote (even if they elect not to use it) without a good reason. There is now an overwhelming case for lowering the voting age to 16. Not just to involve the younger generation with politics, but to counterbalance the increasing number of old age pensioners, such as myself. I well remember the frustration that I felt during the 1966 general election when the voting age was 21. All the parties were committed to bringing in an act to close down the dozen offshore radio stations that every one listened to. Of course, it wasn’t just teenagers who listened to Radio Caroline et al. A survey in February 1966 found that 90% of radio listening was to the offshore stations but rather more interesting was the fact that many listeners over the age of 30 did not realise that their favourite station was in fact a “pirate station”. This was a result of the fact that although Radio Caroline had made much of their “pirate” status when they launched on Easter 1964, the other stations that jumped on the offshore bandwagon adopted a more professional approach and instructed their broadcasting staff not to mention their location, to refer to the ship’s mess room as the station canteen, not to mention sea conditions and on no account announce over the air that the studio was a bit of a mess because the last DJ had been sea sick over the turntables. In any event the forthcoming Marine Offences Bill was hardly mentioned in the campaign.
Similarly, now that postal voting has become accepted there are no moral grounds for withholding the vote from those held captive in prison. This was highlighted when the poll tax was introduced and those held captive for being unable to pay the tax or opposing it, were denied the right to vote for its abolition.
There are plenty of other issues that I could highlight but I shall stop before I send everyone to sleep.