Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Is Edinburgh a useful term for the study of Medieval Europe?

Well, I am blogging from a bed of purple, Auld Reekie.

I arrived in Edinburgh on Monday, I have, in fact, completed my degree. Its all finished. Come the third of July I will be a "Bachelor", there is something pretty cool about that, after three years, I'm done.

I had two exams, for my two units. I think I did OK in both. The latter I had a bit of fun with, it invited me to discuss the use of the terms "Masculinity" and "Homosexuality". I set up two positions, firstly the unspoken assumption that they are useful terms, then the criticism, the position that seeks to reject the terms completely. I spent most of my time redeeming the terms.

Masculinity is too simple by itself, but there are medieval masculinities, I reject the three gender model, it does not account for the divisions between nuns and monks that develop in the 12th century, or the gender anxiety felt by monks. The man vs non-man model is more subtle than it sounds, but a more useful model is that of a continuum. Fighting man, leading into praying man, alongside working man. Most men fit somewhere between the models. Praying men are more similar too praying women than they are too other formulations of the feminine.

Homosexuality I do have to reject, homosex occurs (look up Peter Damian), homolove occurs (look up Anselm of Bec), they are not necessarily linked. If a monk is celibate, and all sex is forbidden, then there is no reason to get all het up about homolove. Interestingly similar reasonings separating homosex (levitical condemnations) and homolove (David and Jonathan), can be applied to the bible.

So, having done that, I am in Edinburgh, in the real world. I am not qualified to comment on gender/sexuality identifications after the Herrenfrage (see Jo Ann McNamara). I would love to say wonderful things about sunny Edinburgh, I haven't seen it yet this trip. Rainy Edinburgh is pretty nice though. I am having a wonderful time. Natasha is working at the mo, I am split between being a househusband, and job hunting. I'm going to be up in Edinburgh for the whole summer. Eventually me and Natasha will both be working; we'll be living like real people. That is pretty scary. The whole summer is a kind of trial run. So far it is going pretty well, watch this space.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Vote 2007 - The Aftermath

So the headlines are:

Labour: Not as thrashed as expected.

Conservatives: Not as successful as expected, but decent gains.

Lib Dems: Not able to make any progress, disappointing losses and high level gains.

Scotland: Got cold feet and hasn't totally embraced the SNP.

Wales: Moderate push against Labour.

All a bit dull to be honest, those are a precis of the headlines that have been scrolling across News 24 etc. In reality of course things aren't that simple.

Labour HAVE had an awkward election, if it were a general it would have been a '92. They have been under attack on all sides, and although they weathered it, they are still at a comically low base.

The Conservative story is pretty fair as far as I can see. They are STILL incapable of gaining support in proper urban areas. The LibDems are taking the voters who might be natural tory supporters. (Successful yuppie types in Manchester for instance). The woman on TV last night seemed to think that taking the sub-urbs was some kind of first step to storming the inner city. But leafy sub-urbs are natural tory ground, they should be able to assume those kinds of seats. And this isn't a military coup, David Cameron isn't holding his troops in leafy Trafford ready to storm such deprived naturally untory inner city slums as Didsbury...

The Lib Dems, on the face of it, have disappointed. A few councils have fallen, and Gordon is a humiliating loss, which can't help them when they have to bargain around the Scottish parliament. The official line appears to be that 2003 (when these seats were last up) was a high water mark, and they have done well to hold steady. The good news is that they have taken control of a handful of councils, and as I write are (just) in a net gain.

Scotland has been as close as it was always going to be, a combination of a very negative labour campaign, and some very negative headlines, seemed to have scared a lot of votes back to labour. On the other hand: The swing to the SNP has been pretty impressive, and again I have to mention Gordon, a reminder that Salmond is pretty popular personally.

Wales is the place that has given Labour the biggest thumbs down, by my count the seats are tied between Labour and The Rest on 26 each. the news has been making a major fuss about Nye Bevan, and Neil Kinnock.

Manchester has seen a modest Lib-Dem advance, last I heard Bradford is looking alright as well. I'll not be troubling the Jewel of the North with my maiden speech as councillor any time soon though.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Vote 2007 - Polls are Open!

Ok Poll day today. How I wish I could vote in Scotland. (a mix of LibDem and SNP if I could)

As it is I have voted, Lib Dem (although I was tempted to vote Justine - ahh for STV).

Scotland is more interesting so I'll look to them first:

It looks like Labour scare tactics have worked, the SNP lead has done a last minute '1992' collapse. So it looks like a very close tie, with the Lib Dems as king-makers.

The Lib Dems will be in an awkward position if Labour do suffer enough to be almost tied with the SNP, especially if the Lib Dems get a lower vote themselves. It could easily appear that they are proping up labour despite a swing against both of them.

It is also possible that the Greens will have to join a coalition (especially if the tories do any better than expected, or the Lib Dems any worse). Will that change things at all?

I would want a LibDem SNP coalition - if the SNP can drop the independence referendum. Which would be in their interest given they would lose it. The SNP will try and engineer clashes with Westminster in order to gain support for independence. Not Good. I hope the Lib Dems can restrain them.

If Labour are out in front then a Lib-Lab coalition would be my second preference. I would hope the Lib Dems would set out a strong raft of big policies to push through.

No-one appears to be suggesting a minority government (by the largest party). it could be chaotic, or, it could just work. An SNP minority would work well for the LibDems who could vote against the referendum, but vote through the policies (many) which they share with the SNP.

In Manchester I am hoping for some modest gains.

I fully expect to become Bradford's brand new, youngest, councilor...