Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Wow - a real political debate on my blog!

This post is in response to the 7 (that's SEVEN!) comments on the politics 101 thread.

I have to agree with Phill I'm afraid Bob - I also like Tom, but I couldn't lend active support to the Labour party for very similar reasons - I just don't believe in the New Labour ideal - I think Blair has been incredibly (I mean incredibly) dishonest about the Iraq war in particular. Let's not forget that people are still dying out there because of this conflict - sure Saddam was a vicious dictator, but the percentage of vicious dictators running third would countries hasn't been reduced by much by getting rid of him. There's not a lot of oil in Zimbabwe. I actually have some sympathy with Blair on the issue of tuition fees, in that there is clearly a massive problem with university finances, but to basically deny on national television that the debt burden will put significant numbers of people off attending university is frightening to me. If he really believes it then he can't be listening very hard to all the 17 year olds saying it, and if he doesn't believe it then, shock horror, he's being economical with the truth...

On a local level, I really think that there are many people in wards which have been Labour run for the last 20 years who are desperate to initiate change towards (for example) the Lib Dems. There are so many reasons why I don't believe that local democracy is the best way to achieve lasting change - firstly local democracy is essentially an illusion - councillors for the most part tow the party line - in Birmingham for example, the ruling elite of the Labour party are completely Blairite. I wish I knew more about Sandwell Council, but I've not been sandwellian for all that long! But essentially I'm sure that the same sort of rules apply. In fact, I've just had a quick peek at the sandwell council website and they actualy seem to be proud of having been involved in pioneering the Leader/executive cabinet model which makes the local voices even quiter. I was talking to a Zimbabwean friend of mine today - there's a generation of incredibly politicised young, well educated people in Zimbabwe, and they're doing their best to affect change, but we were talking about the limitations of the political alternatives - the MDC (Movement for Democratic Change) are starting to fall victim to the same kind of tribalism and in fighting that has cursed Zimbabwe for the last 10 years. I

Secondly, there is the matter of the power that councils, or even national governments have to effect change in society. I've harped on about that before, so I'll just say for now that I don't think it's much...

I try to live well, I try to be kind to and think well of my family, neighbours, friends, the people who hate me, the people who like me, those who agree with me and those who disagree with me. I try to be cautious about the resources I consume, and put good vibes out there and I think that that's going to have to count as my active contribution to local politics, as for me it's the only way to really affect change.