Monday, June 08, 2009

All's Fair in Love and Politics

The talk is of assassins, coups, bloodbaths and extinction. Surprisingly though, no one has been hurt. But political reporters do so love their hyperbole and there is no doubt that the crisis shaking the British Government is severe and will probably proof terminal at the general election due within a year. We are assured that the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, will cling to power with all his might. But actually this is not true. Within a year, the British people can throw him out of 10 Downing Street and there is not a thing he can do about it. That’s the wonder of democratic politics. Unlike a dictator, Brown is toast (there goes another colourful metaphor) but no one will have to kill him. That’s not something we should take for granted, even as voter turnout continues to decline.

I clearly remember in 1992 watching the most powerful man in the world, a victor in war, being turfed out on the say-so of American voters. But the older President Bush spoke then, if I recall, of “the great mystery of democracy.” No one had to shoot him to force him out of office.

So, as we watch the histrionics of Westminster, we can rest assured that compared to the method of removing leaders followed through most of human history, it’s all a bit of fun (as Peter Snow would say).

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Roger Pearse said...

Likewise, because politicians today do not hang their predecessors, however bad their misdeeds, the same politicians do not cling onto power like grim death. Politics in the days of Charles II was "do or die", and the loser would be executed or exiled. Consequently they felt no compunction about extreme measures to retain power. We are fortunate that such things do not happen now, as they still do in Africa.

jack perry said...

That's alright: we're working on reinstating the hangings again. ;-) By the trashing of reputations and the selective release of information, if nothing else.