Snap Elections in the UK

A deeply unpopular election is to be held on 8 June, which will be contested by all major parties in the country, from the Labour Party to the Lib Dems

Snap elections in the United Kingdom were recently announced by Theresa May but there is no clue whatsoever as to why. Theresa is practically unopposed in both the House of Lords and the Commons, so there is no crisis to her leadership in sight there that would demand a general election so soon but the new Prime Minister took it upon herself to press forward with the decision to hold one anyways. It’s not just that: Britons are not in want of a general election, and earlier on when Theresa took over Westminster following David Cameron’s departure from Downing Street, she had made it clear that no general elections are going to happen until 2020.

A whole host of people are once again running for elections, from Kenneth Clarke MP, who’s a major antagonist to Theresa’s plans in Westminster – he had opposed Brexit, to Jeremy Corbyn, who unsurprisingly (and shamelessly) insists he will still be the Labour leader if he loses this set of elections. It all boils down to how hard it is really to justify the reasons for snap elections however, because there is no war going on and also no news media has been widely (and vigorously) campaigning for one to happen this early, which desperately needs to be addressed. Because of all of that, judgements towards the latest midterm Prime Minster of the United Kingdom simply increases tenfold.

In my honest opinion, it doesn’t really matter whether Jeremy Corbyn or Theresa May comes to power because they are both unsatisfactory leaders in their own right. Corbyn is not a popular Labour leader amongst his party contemporaries – in fact, several polls since his election as the leader of the party also suggest that Labour voters want to see him replaced. Meanwhile, the damage that Theresa did to British politics for this decision alone, is hard to recover from because she comes across as a hypocrite and an idiot.

Theresa called an election because she is unable to band together and differences exist in Westminster but that is just what Westminster is. Maybe Theresa should have been more well-versed on that aspect of politics, as well. The tense climate that the country is teetering on at the moment, following a Brexit did not need a further injection of a new general election but that is just what it got because the Labour Party feels like it should respond to this by contesting in the elections too.

If Theresa is looking for support, she must promise that she has the whole parliament’s support for key decisions in the coming months on issues such as Brexit. Under no circumstances can the new election undermine the conditions that Brexit is happening over, if Theresa was to still remain in power, which seems likely. A major poll puts forward the idea of Theresa May as a better political alternative to her contemporaries, particularly Jeremy Corbyn, and the Tory party has not enjoyed this much support since 2008, when Gordon Brown was the Prime Minster of the United Kingdom and national recession was still widespread.

SNP’s Second Try

SNP wants to launch another independence referendum after losing the last one in 2014

One of the the most horrifying political gaffes ever made has to be Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish First Minister demanding another independence referendum for Scotland, where it is to ask for independence from the United Kingdom, just two-and-half years after the previous one. It is far too close to the last independence referendum for Scotland. It does not matter if Scotland hasn’t been allowed enough room to be a part of the EU single market, following Brexit because there is no need to cry for independence over that – unity over political decisions is a good thing.

Theresa May, the British Prime Minister, post David Cameron, is horsing around with the statement, it seems. At one point in time, May is against it, and at another point in time, her office, Number 10, sends out mixed messages that another independence referendum could happen but not before Brexit is officially wrapped up. When the SNP wrote in their manifesto pre-elections that another independence referendum could be called in the future if the situation dictated it, did they think it would be this close to the past one? It’s unclear but the party had stated that 2014’s referendum was a rare event.

There is no doubt that what the Tory government did was very wrong because Britain’s place is really with the EU, not independent from it, and it is truly asking Scotland an awful lot of getting along to do, when the nation overwhelmingly voted against a Brexit. However, when differences of opinion arises, compromises are necessary because the two countries did choose to remain united only recently and having unity isn’t always easy in the face of political decisions of whoever, or whichever party is in power. Politicians in both Westminster and the Scottish parliament should really be doing their jobs in government instead of running after independence referendums for the billionth time.

Meanwhile, Scotland is to learn of the conditions of Brexit later than when done because of how EU negotiations are carried out. So far, the idea of another Scottish independence referendum doesn’t seem to have picked up momentum anywhere else but in Number 10 somewhat, but if it were to happen, it is a little bit vague as to why because SNP is contemplating thoughts of Scotland, if the EU gives approval, joining the European Economic Area (EEA), in a manner similar to Norway’s, which would permit the country to be a part of the single market – this is despite the fact that the UK is Scotland’s biggest trade partner, so if this new independence referendum is supposed to be about the economy then it’s not supposed to be in favour of the Scottish economy doing very well.

The Pointless Eurosceptic Agenda Of The Tories

David Cameron’s Eurosceptic ways aren’t sound at all, as a Tory

In the United Kingdom, Brexit is on everyone’s mind, even though ideally it should not be because Britain’s place is with the European Union. Sir Malcolm Rifkind, a Conservative foreign secretary in the past, echoed this in his opinion recently in a Brussels summit. He is for giving Britain (and like countries) some rights over protecting itself in a sea of Euro-zone nations. Britain also prefers to be detached from an exhibition of too-much-closeness, which has drawn criticism as well, and the Tories, in particular, want to prevent EU migrant workers getting welfare benefits for four years but this is going against the free movement EU treaty, which France isn’t prepared to change. An insignificant percentage of Britons would change their mind about leaving the EU if a cap isn’t put on benefits for migrants, but 9 percent is still a figure worth noting.

The sentiment that it is going to be very tough for David Cameron to renegotiate the terms of the EU treaty is getting heavily popularised: the referendum is scheduled for June 23, and it is too horrific to imagine what will happen to David Cameron if he loses the referendum. 3mn (or maybe even more) jobs survive with EU trade in the United Kingdom, because relationships have been amicable with fellow Euro countries. It is not expected that trade with the EU would discontinue entirely even if there was a Brexit, so playing up false fears is a shoddy way to speak about the full impact of Tory expectations from a second win.

In the Conservative Party, controversies surrounding Europe is not new. When Margaret Thatcher was still the Prime Minister, in 1990, her government fell spectacularly because she impossibly opposed the European Commission’s federal agenda. Her strong opposition to it led Geoffrey Howe, her foreign secretary (in the past) to resign two days after the incident, triggering the end of the Thatcher era. This promise of a Brexit campaign has been delayed for three years, and now less than half of Cameron’s 330 MPs are for Out, and it counts two somewhat familiar names: Michael Gove (a firm Eurosceptic) and Boris Johnson (a political figure who can play with opportunities). Family trouble is brewing because of the three’s disagreements over Brexit, as YouGov reports that nationally most Tory members want to go for an Out.

The Tories, historically, have always been pro-Europe – only the fringes of the party wanted a Brexit in the 1990s, in the face of stiff opposition. Similarly, when a step behind integration with the Euro failed, most Tories recommended a greater unity with Europe as a part of it’s policy-plans, even going ahead and expressing hope for a federal Europe. But David Cameron prefers to be different from his party and show his true colours as a thorough Eurosceptic, and an ally of the anti-EU UKIP. In the near past, all this colourful display of anti-EU emotions from inside the Conservative Party would have been an out-of-place ideal, and the truth is that it is still the same today because even though it might be so very hard to believe, Thatcherism is no longer worth a political catastrophe in London.

The Big Dilemma Over Refugees In Europe

David Miliband thinks the refugee crisis is not a European problem. I agree but can local bureaucracy amongst many other ills really be responsible for the crisis in the Mediterranean?

In Germany, it is hard to not feel proud of its longstanding position as an economic powerhouse, a developed and advanced country, and an important player in the European Union, to say the least. It is perhaps not wondrous when, as a result, refugees in landlocked regions and conflict zones, look towards this European country for absorption of such people because it must seem the most economically capable nation who can do so. Why must we do so? Because these refugees live in tormented circumstances, in the midst of battle-heavy environments, like Afghans do in their country because of the dangers of life as dictated by the “Taliban”. As outrageous as that thought sounds that in Western cultures Syria has a higher standing than Afghanistan people’s concepts can sometimes not only be laughable, it can also be ridiculous.

Germany is also a country with many social problems, such as unemployment, poverty and how this sees a growing number of people rely on soup kitchens because welfare support is inadequate. Many neighbourhoods in the country are home to children who dropped out of high school young. Often when you open the newspaper you have to read about young children, falling into the traps of poverty because they were born into a family of drug addicts and mentally ill parents.

David Miliband, the former British foreign secretary and the president and the CEO of the International Rescue Committee has highlighted that the migrant exodus from Syria is not Europe’s problem and called on for the need to remember how conflict in that territory is responsible for this crisis in Europe. Following four and a half years of war, a quarter of it’s population chose to repeatedly contribute to this exodus population because of devastating national violence.

Miliband feels that an emergency has erupted over doing something for the “humanitarian” impact of Syria’s national war. There is bureaucracy, beseigment and repeated violations of UN Security Council resolutions. People are displaced, national structures are targeted, unfairly. A number of these refugees are stateless, but most are not, and there is increasing poverty and terror everywhere.

People in Syria, part of the exodus population are just too afraid to do anything, to move, to become desperate to move to Europe, hoping for freedom from the internal violence in their country. I would like to comment on all of this extraordinary work by Miliband, like this: developing, poverty-stricken economies do often face this challenging world of bureaucracy, like for Nepal.

In Nepal, relief for earthquake victims in the recent traumatic episode were not delivered to people because of bureaucracy. Goods sat inside warehouses as the United Nations had to satisfy lines and lines of government departments and ministries before they could reach the disaster areas – some Western diplomats, believe it or not! fought for this strict protocol to be implemented in Nepal, come high or low. All of this red-tape does a great job in delaying aid reaching the victims but unlike in Syria, because of a co-operative Prime Minister there is still hope that aid will finally see the light of day it is supposed to see.

These are the kind of climates presiding over first world and developing economies, so naturally, Germany will be ill-prepared to do something about Syria’s refugee exodus on it’s shores. Except for maybe show them the polite route back to their country and maybe remind people that Syria’s national conflict is pretty devastating.

Schools in England are being asked to contribute to the idea of a better life for this refugee exodus because so many have died here after risking their life to enter Europe by boats through the Mediterranean. They have been asked to pledge to provide a better life for them, make room for them, learn more about them and ask your community to be more committed. I have not been one to take this pledge up because I am already committed to the ideals of the British Red Cross, who are all about doing something for extreme poverty, in emerging economies, such as India and Bangladesh. The organization is a strong believer of supporting vulnerable people in the world, ending hunger and violence against females, amongst many other notable causes. Recently, there was an earthquake in Chile and the scale of it was devastating – Red Cross is there to help with evacuations and are still scaling the level of the damage.

There is a lot of drama involved in these campaigns – it is my observation. It is not there when Miliband talks of it, it’s not there when I talk about similar situations in other emerging economies but that must be precisely what makes all of that attractive to “motivated people out to make a difference”.

The Politics of Intervention

When I was growing up, United Kingdom had a relatively stable political climate. There was none of those glorious wars, controversial political decisions, global turmoil, that was soon to become everyone’s problem here. Further off in Europe, Germany was still recovering from the damages, losing the Second World War had caused the country. It took many years of economic reform, careful political selections, to do the job and it was really, really slow.  My country, Malaysia, where I spent a portion of my childhood, was just like today: trying to make the world understand we are not interested in global domination, like the United States….simply doing good for our infrastructure and developing our economy at a steady-rate.

So, where all of this talk is concerned about political intervention being a bad thing, makes me wonder if some of my political opponents have become a little too soft to criticism over the years. It’s understandable , it has been going on for so long. On Christmas, I find myself going through my history research like it is just any other day, despite it being my favourite time of the year. The political climate made me dig out some interesting stories on what could have inspired my contemporaries to think and act, as such.

I’m a strong supporter of Roosevelt’s policies, but on many occasions I find myself quite solitary, here.  He was an affluent man, deeply interested in the ‘cowboy culture’, contributed to the Caribbean, and well-liked in certain political circles, but his far-too delayed economic responses to the Great Depression were dubious to many. On top of that, because he was relatively powerful, during the First World War, he has been accused of harbouring war, for providing support to Great Britain, China and the Soviet Union and pushing ahead with war ideals out of fear of the growing power behind the alliance known as the Axis Powers (Germany, Italy and Japan).

When his sudden illness took Roosevelt’s life, and by default, Henry Truman came to power and inflicted terrible pain on the pages of history through his political decisions, with the atomic bombing of two towns in Japan, there was a lot of darkness that started to colour the world. I’ve never understood it, and you would be far-fetched to find any country not affected here from all of it.

There has been so much talk about the “Nixon” scandal, for example, and although it’s great that a lot of the research has uncovered the people who brought the news to us, for which we are all really grateful, there is too much stigma in the air for an incorrect political decision by one of the former presidents. It borders on the hysteria surrounding, the “Lewinsky” scandal on most days, but in a good, “contributing to the debate” way.

Washington has a right to intervene in subjects if they feel that security of the country or the government is being jeopardized in any way. What I do think was overdoing things, however was when Nixon took it upon himself to ‘bug’ offices of his political opponents. There was a lot of sensitivity issues involving all the revelations, and sometimes the episodes made me think that the people covering the incident, were immune to this notion, whether you want to talk about ‘Deep throat’ or Hollywood.

Leaving that aside, the clandestine activities that Nixon was involved in, such as suppression of certain political sections, trying to hide the tape recordings that were present in his office, which documented his involvement in Watergate, means that there was a certain element of cowardice involved in his political decisions. But why? All it took was a resignation from his post as the President of America, to avoid impeachment, which here could also mean removal of a politician for inappropriate demeanour, in the office, at the House of Representatives.

And Nixon took that decision eventually. He decided to quit and ever since, we’ve….never looked back. He quit politics because he came to the conclusion that he no longer had any allies in office. You could say, he wanted to battle it out, that he had some hope things would reach a better end, but did stupidity hit him with lightning that suddenly? It’s difficult to comprehend, that someone behind such a largescale operation could not understand that Congress would never support him if he was ever found out.

This issue is rather perplexing, his cowardice in approaching a subject that did not beget it, at least to himself. But there is a lot of these ‘blank spaces’ in politics that goes on. Should you trust Henry Kissinger because he is controversial in his remarks, because he is powerful & behaves dastardly towards the topic of ‘Indira Gandhi’? Do you believe in rubbish rumours that the Tories and Labour couldn’t form a coalition in government because it wasn’t permitted, or because of the actual reason, that David Cameron turned out to be a British rat, instead of a British lion, much like his friend, Nick Clegg? The two never cared about Labour, that much is understood, they never cared about their parties too, which despite all the hoo-hah prior to the elections, lost out on majority in actuality.

Actually, if you’ve been a fan of that hoo-hah you must have had a ball during their first “speech together” at Westminster….the press certainly loved it! I think the problem with these two politicians was that they did what everybody likes to do, everybody gullible, that is, when hope is out of reach: discard exit-polls as nonsense. It was predicted that there would be a hung parliament, in fact, if I remember correctly, it was actually at midnight, right before the votes were being counted. But the two leaders decided to encourage their supporters, that everything is going to be a-alright, rather than face truth.

I know, that it’s difficult for politicians to come to terms with a grave loss and they hold onto hope for a very long time. But doesn’t it make you wonder if all of it was worth it? Shouldn’t you have the courage to attempt something new, when faced with, loss? But I’ve seen it happen for numerous elections at home, & abroad, but it is always like that. It would have been easier to perhaps accept that George Bush had won a second term in office, and the implications this would have on the Iraq war, and do something to contribute to the political debate, rather than just have your hope extinguished like that. Is intervention always the right thing to do in politics? If you could debate with more clarity, in politics, then maybe…..that’s all you have to settle for now.

The Age of Austerity

David Clark, recently wrote an article in The Guardian, relatively recently, about the economic challenges of the future and how to best put Britain on the road to recovery. He mentions a point I found rather interesting, about how economic growth has slowed down for Britain post-1973, to be very precise, after the country surprisingly enjoyed a long period without any major recession, following the Second World War. This is surprising because it was only as recently as 2006, that Britain managed to pay off all of its Second World War loans, from the United States. The nation took out a loan of about £145mn at the 1945 exchange rates, and then again a further £930m at 1945 exchange rates.

The loan was paid off in 50 annual repayments starting in 1950, and the terms of this agreement were agreed upon, when the loan was taken out. Economic and political crises of various sorts in Britain, saw the loan being delayed for six years, but because the United States was so generous with the the fixed interest rate, a mere 2 percent, Britain managed to sort-of sail along for all these years; the loan money was primarily used for purchasing equipments and materials. It is a rather less well-known loan, but its important to mention that the American economist John Maynard Keynes was very unimpressed with his country’s attitude towards the loan, it seems. According to his biographer Lord Skidelsky, Keynes was interested in a gift to cover Britain’s post-war balance of payments, or an entirely interest-free loan; he wanted a loan that was a lot less stringent, and more politically and economically-friendly to Britain post-Second World War.

Plenty of First World War debts owed to Britain by numerous countries around the world, and debts owed by Britain in return to other nations, are still unpaid. There is always talk about Britain doling out foreign aid to third world countries but what about the debts owed by Britain to other countries? It is still difficult to determine from HM Treasury archives, which country owes Britain what, and how much Britian owes to which country, so just labelling all of the loans to be, for the most part, owed to Allied nations, would be too much generalisation. According to a meeting document by the Cabinet Office dated…January 29th 1932, I have been spending my time this afternoon poring over at the National Archives in London, there is an intensive argument in the Cabinet regarding tax duties imposed on the publishing of too much documents and papers charting all the various activities of government staff. The recession was so terrible, there was a government debate about this subject, which I have to admit is far more enlightening than most of the present day debates that goes on in Westminster.

These loans are causing a serious friction amongst relationships between the first world countries because there is a grave amount of financial loss involved here. And you can’t exactly expect to pay off any of these or any loans instantly, as Dr Tim Leunig, Economist History lecturer at LSE has been quoted as saying,

“Nobody pays off their student loan early, unless they are a nutter. Even if you’ve got the money to pay it off early, you should just put it in a bank and pocket the interest.”

Post-1945 Clement Attlee had increased taxes, and this tax hike continued under Winston Churchill, Anthony Eden and Harold Macmillan. There is good reason that living standards improved for Britain, and the economy performed so well, despite two World Wars and so many titanic loans: there was no uneducated bickering involved as modern British politics has largely been demonstrating post-1973. This was successive governments, be it Labour or the Tories, coming together in the national interest to better the economy. The 1970s saw unemployment increase, severe inflation, followed by a Winter of Discontent (1978–79), a long and continuous period of trade union strikes, which fueled Thatcher to power, who then went and weakened the trade unions and privatized portions of the economy.

From then on it has just been the “Age of Austerity” so-to-speak with one recession after another, with slight positive peaks here and there in the various data pool that is the economy of the United Kingdom, from monitoring nationwide employment levels to introducing the minimum wage. David Clark talks about capitalism – its almost as if, if this was the First World War, it would mean small businesses would start to make money again, followed by the incessant and very ridiculous desire to climb up the social ladder by some gentlemen, and profiteer from the whole collective war effort that was everywhere in the country to help Britain win the war. That is what capitalism sometimes does: imbalance the whole social order as we know it, as defined by Karl Marx.

I do not believe that capitalism, in general terms, what it’s defined to be, should be supported simply because Thatcher went and privatized portions of the economy. I am unsure though which particular capitalism Clark’s interested in advocating in the United Kingdom because there are many branches of capitalism, you know. I believe that there needs to be more mercantilism and industrial capitalism in the country. Only when you set forth and forge better relationships with other countries and discover more countries like we use to once during the Age of Discovery, when mercantilism prevailed everywhere in the state, can you successfully implement good trade and better markets, with land, labour and money all contributing to the markets. One of the fundamental thoughts of mercantilism is more export, less import, which improves industrialization and the manufacturing sector in the country, which brings me to my second point: more industrialization. Industrial capitalism would also benefit Britain, because not only would it see more industrialization, it can actually also benefit agriculture as it has done in the 18th century.