Thursday, September 11, 2008

Britain and America

Apparently, political analysts, journalists and William Hague actually believe that the fact that Gordon Brown (or one of his advisers) wrote in an article that the Democratic Party is "generating the ideas to help people through more difficult times" is a 'gaffe', or a diplomatic blunder, and generally a sign of how bad Gordon Brown is as Prime Minister.

Do they seriously believe this nonsense?

It is a statement of the obvious (even if the specific example given was wrong) that the Democratic Party are the ones trying to help Americans through difficult economic times. It didn't mention the Republican Party's ideas to help people through more difficult times because (seriously) their main new policy idea is 'drill, baby, drill'.

The second line of criticism is that this will in some way damage Barack Obama's campaign, because it shows that foreigners support him. If, by November, it is possible to find a single American who even remembers this non-story, let alone one who changed their mind about who to vote for as a result, I'd be amazed.

The third, and most asinine, is that this is a diplomatic blunder which will harm British interests. I guess the idea behind this is that we want to be sure that if John McCain wins and decides to bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran, or invade Georgia, that he values the 'special relationship' with our Prime Minister, just like George Bush and Tony Blair.

In a recent poll, 14% of people in Britain want McCain to win, 49% want Obama to win. One of the main reasons why Tony Blair's popularity decreased during his time in office was that people didn't like his support for George Bush's foreign policy.

The analysis of this is all about which official wrote which draft of which note and who said what to whom. But this kind of trivia misses the bigger point.

Both candidates for the American Presidency claim to want change from the past eight years. On a whole range of issues, from reversing the increases in poverty amongst Americans to rebuilding crumbling schools and infrastructure to setting legally binding targets to reduce climate change, there is a lot that the Americans can learn from what's been happening in the UK, both the successes in areas where the Bush administration failed and also some of the challenges and problems that these policies encountered.

Meanwhile in Britain, a significant part of the Tory Party actually believes that what Britain needs is to import George Bush's policies over here. David Cameron brands himself a 'compassionate conservative', thinks millionaires should be first in the line for tax cuts, supports failed welfare policies, won't support raising the minimum wage and stands shoulder to shoulder for a suicidally aggressive foreign policy. Meanwhile, a majority of his MPs want to restrict abortion rights and a vocal minority denounce the 'myth of man made global warming'.

But these are only trivial matters of fact which will actually affect people's lives, as opposed to really important issues like a politician making a 'gaffe' by revealing that they share the same opinions as a majority of the people that they represent.


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