Intriguing little piece by Neil Clark on what might have happened and not happened had Jim Callaghan called an election in 1978 (and as few of the as ever rabidly commensensical rightwing comments point out, even the '79 election was a close-run thing) - in short, that Britain wouldn't be a vicious little neoliberal basket case - with an also very fine response on what this might have meant for Pop from Robin Carmody. I find this very seductive, but almost impossible to think: Thatcherism's grim inevitability seems almost given now, and let's not forget it was a worldwide phenomenon, as much to do with the IMF and World Bank as the British electoral process. Yet the idea that Britain going Scandinavian, and never becoming the neoliberal 'success' flung at the rest of the world might have been a model for the post-Soviet states is a particularly sad 'what if'. But even so - would these states still have had their gastarbeiter, their colonial wars, their indenturing of the rest of the world...?
A rather different counterfactual, although again one based on the belief in the postwar consensus as something dynamic, rather than the grimly stagnant Brezhnevism we're led to think of, is at k-punk: essentially on - what if the new spaces of postwar Britain had really been accepted, or more precisely adapted, their residents? And this didn't even have to be as a Smithsons-Goldfinger-Foxx space of raw concrete and streets in the sky, but the sweetness and elegance of East Kilbride, as profiled at I Like - low-rise, thoughtfully planned New Towns that wouldn't necessarily have had to produce A New Kind Of Man to live in them. But in the same way that I'd really rather Tony Benn won an election than Jim Callaghan, the utopianism of the Brutalists seems more exciting than that of the New Towns - more Pop, sexier, more bloodymindedly ambitious - but the future could have been either of the two, rather than the aesthetically and politically hideous reality we got instead.