>East coast intellectual?


Like a lot of SSEES people, during the summer, I always head East. This year though the Wild East meant Suffolk and a nicely modernized cottage complete with doll’s house, cafetiere and a selection of books and DVDs to suit all tastes. We spent most days on Lowestoft‘s long and sandy beach, with me keeping one eye on the kids and the other (very occasionally) on Frances Fukuyama’s After the Neocons – an attempt to put forward a sensible version of neo-conservatism, whose most interest argument for me was the overgeneralization of the experience of 1989 (and subsequent Coloured Revolutionss) as a template for transitional politics. Even allowing for his writing for wide audience as a public intellectual, Fukuyama conveys an uncomfortable feeling of breadth without depth. In the end I was happy I had to stop at chapter 2 and make sand castles.

Lowestoft is an interesting kind of place – more down-to-earth and with sandier beaches than posher, more cultured places such down the Suffolk coast.like Aldeburgh and Southwold and with an odd juxtaposition of rundown B and Bs, fish and chips and fairground attractions; rundown docks and a half empty industrial and redevelopment zone; and the beginning of the Broads. Packed with daytrippers from Merseyside and the Midland during the sunny weekend, it was half deserted during the cloudier cooler weekdays.

I had reason to grateful if tfor his bucket-and-spade and meets light industrial landscape though as when a vigilent policewoman noticed, much to my horror, that our MOT had expired KwikFit was only a short walk from the beach ( and they were polite and affordable toboot).

Looking the place over, I tried to suss out the local political landscape. Exhorbitant parking charges, cheap municipal swimming pool, complex recycling system, and giant wind turbine overlooking the beach suggested to me that politically speaking we must be in Lib Dem territory. But in fact the local council is run by the Tories who – backed by heftly representation from posher hinterland around the town where the Broads begin – have a large majority and Labour is the main opposition party with councillors mainly from the more run down bits of Lowestoft. The Liberals barely get a look – with three seats they barely matched the one Green and two independents. Clearly, this jarring social mix of seaside, run down industrial and poor social housing is not electorally their cup of tea, or perhaps there are historic reasons, who knows.

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