The snow did not help. I quite like the snow, and would have welcomed it during holidays. But this has arrived at precisely the wrong time, when it is time to get moving. I have noticed that while snow is all but expected in a northern European country like Britain, it is actually anything but, as everything keeps shutting down. The railway first: For whatever great benefits privatization has brought [one does not know, except that fares have to go up every new year without any reason], the rail service invariably contract to a 'reduced service' with the first hint of snow. Roads become impassable, and unwalkable too. And, everyone starts talking about the 'awful weather' and start calling in sick.
As one can guess, I am actually quite bitter about losing my first week of a very important, career changing year to the vagaries of nature. Almost all my appointments got cancelled or postponed, and my plans are already quite haywire. I have slipped twice and got myself on painkillers since. So, overall, not a great start.
News today was dominated by two different kinds of political crisis in two parts of United Kingdom. The one in Westminster, a rather foolish public attempt by Messrs Hoon and Hewitt, which tried to go far without going too far, to ask labour MPs whether they think they should have a secret ballot on Gordon Brown because his leadership is sure to lead them to defeat in the next election. The problem is: they did not say that they think Gordon Brown should go. They did not say anything in particular. They just indulged in a bit of a half-hearted mini-revolt that the Blairites have been engaged into over the past two years. Even more pathetic was the support Brown received from his cabinet, particularly David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary. He offered a do-nothing support to the Prime Minister, but could not even bear to mention him by name. The whole sordid affair showed where the labour party has reached - that out-of-touch, purely political state where they are unable to revolt or support, indeed, do anything at all.
The other affair involved, with uncanny coincidence, a 'Mrs Robinson', this time Mrs Iris Robinson, an MP and the wife of Peter Robinson, the loyalist First Minister of Northern Ireland. Iris Robinson, now 62, had a two year long affair with a 19 year old young person and took money from prominent developers in the area to fund her lover's restaurant, though she did not forget to take £5000 for herself as well. Peter Robinson, a protege of Reverend Ian Paisley and a hard nosed protestant loyalist, claimed that he did nothing wrong, though he knew about this whole affair for some time, but did not take any action, other than privately telling his wife to return the money. He failed to act, he failed to inform and he failed to resign, failing three times his obligations as an elected official, a holder of public office and a citizen [in anyone cares]. Coming at the heels of the expenses scandal at Westminster, this reaffirmed that the British political class is completely out of touch and corrupt to the core.
Such corruption can indeed undermine the credibility of democracy as a political system. I shall stop short of saying that democracy invariably leads to such corruption. But it is hard to see whether a democratic system necessarily limits corruption, though one may argue that it stops big corruption and corrupts the political class as a whole. However, whether this is better than one man having most of the proceeds of corruption, like the strong men of Africa, is debatable.