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Monday, June 28, 2004

I've only been gone from the news and commentary cycle for a week and I feel like I've missed a year. I've spent nearly three hours today going through old newspapers and catching up on a week’s worth of postings in blogland. How can so much happen that I should cover in just a few days? It boggles the mind.

All of this leads me to wonder, how much does it really matter? How relevant are the events to which us politicos attach such great importance and that cause us to have such heated debates. We can never really know what is really important.

On the morning of September 11, 2001 Tony Blair was to give a speech to the TUC outlining his ideas for public service reform. Had the attacks not happened on that same day, but perhaps a year later, Blair would have given that speech. Following from that we would have had a vicious round of arguments for the rest of the week and the press would have put most of its coverage on that event. The real news might then have been the intelligence "community" rumour, hidden in form of a short note on page ten, that the terrorist network surrounding Osama bin Laden was possibly planning to attack major Western targets.
By and large we would have ignored this news. We would then have been shocked when on September 11, 2002 -soon then to be the most memorable date the world knows- a terrorist organisation named al Quaeda hijacked ten airliners, using them as missiles to destroy the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon, Big Ben, the Eiffel Tower, the White House and the Vatican. This would then have derailed Britain's referendum on joining the euro, scheduled for a month later and expected to be won by Tony Blair's Yes-campaign.

What this bit of alternative history shows us is that we need to be careful we're not losing sight of the bigger picture. What is the bigger picture though? I can't really say. It's just that I'm in a brooding sort of mood. Am I really focusing on what matters?
The specific issue I have in mind is in fact Iraq. Am I too obsessed with Iraq? Well I think the answer to this is a pretty straightforward yes. I was certainly under the impression, at least during the run-up debates before the invasion that this was the one single big issue for the next years top come. I'm not so sure anymore.
On balance I'm probably just feeling unduly disorientated, because my room is a complete mess. Remember that old saying, clear your desk, clear your mind? I could do with some of that right now.
Nonetheless, I think the whole problem of the bigger picture is something that has been bothering my political life for many years. I think I'm going to give myself a few more months to figure this out for good, and failing that, I think I'll turn my back on serious politics. If I can, that is.

Sorry, what a depressing posting. Better mood tomorrow I hope.


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