Wednesday, July 13, 2016
Battle of Britain!
Or, 20 days that shook Britain, one could say!
With the Prime Minister moving out, and the most xenophobic and incompetent Minister of his Cabinet earning the job by an astonishing double-default - first failing to campaign for the side she was backing and then by a House-of-Cards show with her potential challengers killing each other off - this is surely an extra-ordinary time.
If only this was all! Across the aisle, Labour MPs have set themselves up for a farce, as a befitting aftermath of the tragedy of Brexit. They first bring a 'no confidence' motion on their leader, ignoring one of the most crucial distinction - that Labour leader is chosen by the party members and not the MPs - between Labour and the Tory party. Then, they try to trigger a 'leadership challenge' and keep the current leader off the ballot, with an extra-ordinary excuse that this leader fails to connect with Labour voters and therefore, if he is on the ballot, he may win!
In all, Britain's revered political institutions seemed to appear as fragile as ever.
Indeed, the British voters, nonchalant as they usually are, know that the dust will eventually settle. It always does, though it does not necessarily mean we would be any better off in the end. The uneasy stability that was in place since the Recession of 2008 - held together by the Governments and Men of Money in different countries - has now been disturbed. No one knows what really comes after.
Some people are celebrating the fact that the new Prime Minister is a woman. And, with the prospect of Hillary Clinton, who seemed to be running her campaign on the sole premise that she is a woman, becoming the US President, they are claiming that this is a particularly high point of Women's power. However, Ms May has been a consistent denier of Human Rights and an arch-conservative who would curtail civil liberties wherever she could - Civil Liberties were indeed her main issue with Europe - and if anything less bad happened in her tenure as Home Secretary, those were because of her incompetence rather than intention. And, that is the broader point of Women's Lib: It is not about women getting this chair or that, but whether we are becoming a fairer and a more decent society overall. With Ms May in charge, we are set to go backwards and not forward.
Labour Party, whether it gets its own woman leader or not, has now matched the Tories in showing contempt for the common voters. Cynically manipulative as Tony Blair taught them to be, the Party MPs have seized the moment of Britain's existential crisis to reverse their shock defeat in the hands of a people's candidate, Jeremy Corbyn. Mr Corbyn turned out to be a flawed man, lukewarm in his support of Europe (the same trait that helped Ms May to win the premiership) and perhaps not as smooth and nicely dressed as the Labour lobbyists want their Leader to be. But, the opportunistic counter-revolution at the most inconvenient time, when both people and markets wanted unity, direction and leadership, demonstrated what everyone long suspected to be the existential flaw of democratic socialism - that its leaders are only interested in leveraging its electorate's legitimate concerns for their own quest of perks and privileges! The very moment when the economic and social stability of the country was threatened, they did not see their responsibility - but rather an opportunity to settle some old scores.
This - 20 Days That Shook Britain - is a story of Revolt of the Elites. Its brief flirtation with direct democracy has spectacularly backfired. But instead of 'listening and learning', an overused phrase which has stopped to mean anything whatsoever, the political elite indulged in an internecine strife. At a moment when the lesson should have been that all the people can not be fooled all the time, everyone in Westminster indulged in an extraordinary orgy of self-centred politicking, bringing out the worst of the political culture built around 'elegant vowel sounds' without compassion or understanding.
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How To Live
"Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the grey twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat."
- Theodore Roosevelt
- Theodore Roosevelt
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
- T S Eliot
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