Dear Gordon,

I was delighted when you succeeded that belligerent twerp Tony Blair. I was hoping for a thoughtful, intellectual, measured, competent technocrat with the social conscience of a presbyterian minister and the economic prowess of a long term chancellor. I would have voted for you back in  2007 if you would have given me a chance.

Unfortunately you turned out to be an unmitigated disaster.

While still able to lead on international subjects, you completely lost it in the domestic arena and surrounded yourself with a bunch of incompetent yay-sayers. Your thoughtfulness turned into dithering. You turned out to have the political response time of a galapagos turtle. You have been eclipsed in every aspect of domestic policies by the Tories and gave the BNP the chance to poison the minds of the very electorate that you should be able to bank on, the white blue collar worker.

I’ve had it with you. Please save this country from the BNP and the Tories and leave now. Let the smoking remnants of the Labour Party go into a coalition government with the LibDems and let the healing begin.

I wish you all the best in your future career as a visiting professor for economics at the University of St Andrews and hope that your life will be a fulfilled one. It’s probably the best for us all.



Absolutely clear!

Let me make myself absolutely clear:

the continuous use and abuse of the phrase ‘absolutely clear’ is making me absolutely mad. It is of course absolutely clear that if you listen to a news/speech based channel like Radio4 and have to listen to the U.K.’s numerous politicians (especially in the morning) it is very soon clear that the phrase ‘absolutely clear’ is terribly overused in this country. In the years of Tony Blair – remember that? – it was ‘clear’, but since that bumbling, but well meaning technocrat Gordon B. has taken over, it is increasingly clear that ‘absolutely clear’ is now the buzzword of the year. Even Boris ‘Mayor’ Johnston’ has -clearly advised by his scary PR team- started to use the phrase.

What kind of political culture do we have in the U.K. if it’s elected representatives only have a vocabulary limited to 6 catchphrases? The most used ones are surely:

  • “Absolutely Clear”
  • “Going forward”
  • “Public enquiry”
  • “change”
  • “we have got to”
  • “hard working “

Funnily enough, Gordon Brown’s speeches (as evident on his homepage) are actually quite good. It’s just a shame that he is not able to convert his speechwriter’s obvious talent into his radio nterviews.

And by the way: since when has it been ok to say “We have got to..”? The ‘got’ in there is certainly perfectly superfluus and just a little bit reminiscent of American action movies.

British Politics in interesting times.

It’s certainly interesting to follow British politics these days. It also challenges my notions of good and bad, red, green and blue, libertarian, conservative and socialist, autocracy, democracy and tyranny. With the British parliament a confrontational slugfest arena, this makes it even more interesting, especially compared to the rather sedate German federal parliament that’s of course in the iron fist of a majority of teachers and lawyers.

Picture courtesy of accrama on Flickr

So yesterday parliament decided that the executive and judicative powers in this country can lock me away without a charge for up to 42 days. I find that hard to defend and – being of rather simplistic nature – understand. If there is a suspicion that somebody is planning a terrorist act (or is a terrorist) the police will do what the police (and the secret services) in every country do what they do best: they investigate, research the facts and then arrest the individual, present him with the charges and get him in front of a judge who will then decide whether the charges are founded enough to bring him to trial.

So easy, so normal.

So, lets follow the British Government’s argumentation. The police/MI5 pick up that some bad person is planning a really nasty deed threatening human life. They are quite sure but lack the hard facts, so they arrest him under the counter terrorist bill and put him in a cell while they investigate further before charging him. I can understand that as well. But does is really have to be 42 days? And why 42? Is Jacqui Smith – the British Home Secretary –  an avid Douglas Adams fan and finds that within 42 days she might find the answer to life, the universe and terrorist activity? And why did only 36 Labour MPs vote against this. And who knew that the DUP was actually still in parliament?

It makes me feel profoundly uncomfortable. This is a country that already has the highest number of CCTV cameras per capita in the world (one camera per 60 inhabitants) and easy access to ISP’s records. Together with wideranging powers of arrest without charge this is more than a little bit creepy.

And here’s where my confusion begins, but not ends. Being a left leaning liberal, plenty of ideas that the labour party stands for I support wholeheartedly: a (more or less) comprehensive health insurance for all, a commitment to excellent state education, egality in front of the law regardless of your sex or ethnicity, a safetynet for these not being able to thrive in society and who need support by the state. All these are goals I am happy to pay my taxes for. But then I look at the current labour government and I start becoming uncomfortable again. There are some policies that have profoundly backfired: Privatisation of the NHS? Polyclinics? Primary Care Trusts (don’t get me started)? No incentive for microgeneration? 10 pence income tax evaporation? Iraq? Still in Iraq after what, 5 years? Then I look at the policies of the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats and start recalibrating my political compass.

And this morning David Davis, Shadow Home Secretary for the Conservatives resigns from parliament to express his outrage about the 42 days issue with some of the most stringent arguments on personal freedoms I have heard for some time.

My political compass is all over the place.