Saturday, May 05, 2012

Politics Resurgent?

Reports at the end of March of a possible political coup in China have been followed  recently by the Chinese attempts to gag the blind political dissident Chen Guangcheng from  speaking out for human rights in particular about the rights  of babies not to be aborted through governmental dictat.

Hilary Clinton who was visiting China   conducted herself well  in  striking what was likely to be the delicate balance between   upholding human rights on the one hand  and pursuing the immediate best interests of the USA on the other. Ultimately however upholding the dignity of individual human beings will be in the best interests of all nations and peoples.

 Hilary Clinton may have been a little too pragmatic USA-wise but that is politics. Overall I think that she would have made a far better President of the USA than Barack Obama. Mr Obama to me is a Tony Blair type of politician full of charm and fine words but not really possessing  enough substance to match his role of leading a great country.

More parochially  the UK has just completed a bout of local elections. Of particular interest is the rejection by the voters of cities such as Birmingham and Manchester of the concept of electing Mayors with executive powers similar to those of the Mayor of London. I recall in 1965, when the then Tory Government plastered the  slogan 'Take a Greater London Pride' around the billboards in an attempt to persuade the people to  support the hiving off of parts of the Home Counties into a new Greater London Council, those attempts failed miserably as did the old GLC itself. The abolition of the GLC by Maggie Thatcher in 1986 and creation of the new Greater London Authority and elected executive mayor which eventually evolved into the current format in 2000 were not especially popular initially  with Londoners either but after the  two big characters of  Ken and Boris had showed that the interests of London could indeed be advanced by the elected Mayor of this great city, the  mayorial concept has been embraced  and with some enthusiasm by the people.

In my view the people of Birmingham and Manchester and the like who have rejected the mayorial democratic model will live to rue the day. Doubtless Bristol which voted against the tide for a mayor will become more prominent over  time as a result. The cities of Birmingham and Manchester really need spokesmen or women with clout. Sadly their citizens have eschewed the opportunity of electing the same.

The main problem with British politics at present is that of apathy, at least in terms of the low percentage of people who bother to turn out to vote at all. I suppose though that whichever party/person wins elections in the UK, life will go on and freedoms more or less continue. In countries where candidates if elected to government  may seek to control the populace or where there is no recent history of democracy at all,  far higher voter turnouts are understandable.

The French presidential elections intrigue. Will Mr Hollande really raise millionaires'  taxes to 75% if he wins? And would such a high tax rate actually assist the downtrodden in France other than perhaps physcologically? My own view is that a win for  Mr Hollande would benefit the UK: Not only would many interesting French citizens consider basing themselves across La Manche but also the expansion of French infra structure and public spending, would boost British exports not least because of Common Market  rules against partisanship in awarding contracts.

Then there is Greece: I know  little about Greek politics but enough to be able to predict that if  an anti-austerity government is elected there, the  Eurozone is unlikely to survive in its present form.

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