Thursday, 22 January 2009

Obama's inauguration shows up our rotten democracy

I don't believe that the US is better than the UK. For a start we don't have 45 million poor people without access to healthcare. But Barack Obama's inauguration shows, that in the USA at least, there is hope of change for the better. We must wait and see if President Obama lives up to even modest expectations of making the USA a fairer and more equal society.

But can you imagine such a thing happening here? I can't. I don't just mean a black prime minister. I mean the election to government of a person or party with social justice at the top of its agenda. A party that could roll-back the damage that has been done to our society by nearly 30 years of Thatcherism. Why not? Well there are two big sticking points; one - we don't have a major political party with social justice at the top of its agenda. The closest we get to that is the Lib Dems - but does their programme inspire anyone? Two - we have an electorate which seems hidebound by the way it has voted in the past. In the UK voting is almost like supporting a football team. You adopt a party and stick with it through thick and thin. Yes, there are floating voters but not nearly enough of them for my liking.

If you look at the polls about the very best we can hope for is a hung parliament. People have predictably moved away from an unpopular incumbent government to the Tories. Why not give the Lib Dems a chance? Of course I would like people to switch to the Green Party but I accept that is not a realistic prospect at the moment. I know some will and we have hopes of winning a few seats but unless there is a dramatic swing like there was in 1989 when we won 15% of the national vote at the European elections we will probably have to settle for about 8% of the vote.

And as for the rotten democracy in our moribund parliament well the depressing list of events goes on and on. Recent examples include failing to take to task the bankers who have wrecked our economy, trying to thwart international attempts to clamp down on tax havens, and trying to hide MPs expenses from freedom of information requests.

What hurts most about this supine parliament and our rotten democracy is that you get the government you deserve. Things won't change quickly here because people won't change their voting habits. Just imagine if Obama had lost. the US would be facing the possible prospect of another eight years of Bush style presidency. That didn't happen because American voters had the courage to vote for change. Maybe we can learn something from them. I hope so.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

You're so full of doom and gloom. On Look North tonight I heard that there are plans to house a new nuclear power station in Cumbria, securing job during construction and for the ongoing operational running. Gordon Brown was there to visit the site.

Martin

Howard Thorp said...

I rest my case!

Anonymous said...

You may think so, but you want to try living here; the prospect of some decent jobs like this is fantastic.
Next you'll be telling us you work in the cocoon of the public sector, as well as having made a killing on selling a house in the 'burbs!

Martin

Howard Thorp said...

Its dead easy working in the public sector isn't it? Only people in the private sector do real work eh?