Wednesday, 26 November 2008

On being led by donkeys

It would be nice to have confidence in the people in charge, but the Brown/Darling pledge to mortgage my future to the hilt to combat the present banking crisis, makes that impossible. Instead, it turns out that the people in charge are a load of blooming amateurs! Not one of them saw this coming. But Vince Cable did. And now they don't know what will happen next, and they don't know what to do. As for the official opposition, they seem no fitter to govern. Inherited wealth proves nothing. George Osborne as Chancellor? Don't make me laugh. At least, it would be funny if it weren't so frightening. Anyway, what can the party of the capitalists possibly have to contribute? It was unregulated capitalism that brought this mess about.

It's remarkable, really, that the government and official opposition get paid loads of salary and expenses for being so useless.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Now I can love America again

President-elect Obama’s story could only have happened in America. Today every person on the planet who believes in democracy can walk taller. The power of democracy to effect peaceful change has just been demonstrated. Obama won by awakening a determination in millions who had not voted before, not even in the high water mark election of 2004, to willingly register to vote and then to use their votes, and to do that he had to get them on his side, to include them and to inspire hope. There is a lesson for us about leadership here. And there is more hope in the air than for years.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

A sombre analysis of Russia from its former PM

In a sombre address to the ELDR Congress on 31 October, Mikhail Kasyanov (former Prime Minister of the Russian Federation) characterised his country as a place where the democratic institutions had been replaced by imitations.
Mr Kasyanov was at the ELDR Congress as leader of the People’s Democratic Union and had earlier presented his party’s case to the ELDR Council for joining the ELDR as a full member. Mr Kasyanov impressed the Council with a trenchant analysis of the current political direction of Russia. He was extremely critical of the elections whereby former President Putin and his associates tightened their held on power earlier this year.
The Russian authorities refuse to accord legal status to the PDU and in January of this year they refused to register Mr Kasyanov as a candidate in the presidential elections. The reasons for these refusals seem flimsy in the extreme. Needless to say these refusals did not prevent the ELDR Council from considering the application for membership on its merits - there are plenty of experienced delegates from Eastern Europe who still remember that kind of authoritarian dirty tricks in their countries’ former governance.
The Council voted to admit both PDU and the longer-established liberal party Yabloko (which already had ELDR observer status) to full membership. Mr Kasyanov thanked the Council on behalf of the 56,000 members of his organisation.
In my opinion, the inclusion of the two Russian parties into the ELDR Party will undoubtedly add to the quality of debate on EU-Russian relations and the vexed question of a common EU security and defence policy.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Lembit or Ros?

The winter before last I attended a Colchester Lib Dems' annual dinner at which Lembit was the guest speaker. His energy and infectious enthusiasm were obvious but what impressed me most was the speed and accuracy with which he astutely sized up the political situation locally. Last winter Ros was the guest speaker at the same event and she came across in a quieter way but with similar warmth and ability to communicate. Both have that vital quality, a good sense of humour. In their different ways they each have a very serious claim to be elected as President of the UK Liberal Democrats. In my view, anyone who does not see this - such as, for instance, the person who has been commenting anonymously in an unpleasant way against Lembit on my friend Linda Jack's blog - is either incapable of objectivity or a bit of an idiot. Possibly both.

I haven't a clue who is ahead in the election but I feel confident that whether the winner is Ros or Lembit, we in the UK Lib Dems will have a capable, likeable and dedicated new President.