It will be of no surprise to those of you who read this blog that I am not a politician. Thats not to say that I am not interested in politics, but I guess I have become quite cynnical over the years about how much difference politics or politicians can make. We seem to live in a very middle of the road society where extremes are excluded and therefore our political system is pretty bland. Are there actually many real differences between the main parties? I'm not really sure there are anymore. No one wants to offend a potential voter so they all stick to middle of the road policies...
As a teenager and in my 20s I was pretty fired up about social issues and went on various marches and ranted to all my friends about issues I believed in. I guess that all blurred when I had kids. Not much time to be a radical when you are changing nappies... Now of course I have more time and I see plenty to get uppity about but not much changing. I think now I prefer to stick to things where I feel I can actually make a difference.
All that said, I find this whole debate with Desmond Tutu and Tony Blair rather interesting. If you haven't read it, Tutu wrote a piece in the Guardian saying Blair should be facing war crimes charges at The Hague, Blair responded politely but in no uncertain terms saying he was flogging a dead horse...
I'm not actually sure what or why Tutu is saying, I mean wasn't this whole WMD thing put to bed years ago? and if not is it really likely that Blair is going to get dragged to the Hague? Regardless of what people think of Tony Blair and the decisions he made when in office, haven't we all moved on?
We have become fans of the West Wing this year having bought the box set for Christmas. Now I am not professing to know anything about politics, American or British simply in relation to a TV show. BUT what it did make me think about is what life is like for a polticial leader in the west. Thatcher was famously said to survive on 4 hours sleep a night, and one can quite believe it if the West Wing is anything to go by. Frankly I'm amazed that the President or Prime Minister are allowed any time off at all, I wonder how many decisions are made by underlings when the PM is on hols or even asleep... As I have written about I suffered from exhaustion (or CFS) after an illness, and running my own buisness - working very long hours for a couple of years. If that made me ill after a short time, and not working nearly as many hours as the PM, then how can they function and make important decisions wisely? Ok so not everyone suffers from fatigue, but it starts slowly, you don't just suddenly feel exhuasted, you forget things, you mix your words up, you get a bit clumsy, your eye twitches (that one might be just me...!), you get confused... I just wonder how easy it is for anyone in such a postition of leadership to be physically and mentally able to make such important decisions and I imagine often at short notice. (perhaps that's a whole 'nother debate). Now I am not a Tony Blair fan, but I do feel a certain level of witch-huntery here. Do we actually believe that a leader of our country would actively choose to go to war with another country without serious consideration, and advice? We might not agree with how it was done or why, and perhaps they got their info wrong, but why do we have to demonise him? I don't think Tony Blair is a bad man, I think he did the best he could with the info he had at the time. I might have made a different decision, as would many others, but we have a democratic system in this country that allows someone to be elected at a vote. We are not at risk of fraudulent elections (as far as I know!) and neither are we threatened about how we vote. We choose to accept our democratic system and allow the person elected to do the job they were elected for. Of course the very nature of this system means that not everyone will get the person they voted for as leader, but that's the way it is. It's a fair enough system and it's the one we've got.
So, am I saying that I disagree with Tutu? Well not entirely. He is an amazing man, and someone I respect hugely. It's very true, as he says that the middle east, if not the entire world, has been forever changed by the Iraqi conflict.
And he says:
On what grounds do we decide that Robert Mugabe should go the International Criminal Court, Tony Blair should join the international speakers' circuit, bin Laden should be assassinated, but Iraq should be invaded, not because it possesses weapons of mass destruction, as Mr Bush's chief supporter, Mr Blair, confessed last week, but in order to get rid of Saddam Hussein?
Indeed. by what right? what grounds do we decide who gets to do what? Well because we live in western democratic society. It might not be perfect but it's a lot better than other systems around the world. I agree I find it incredibly hard to believe that we were prepared to go into Iraq and yet Mugabe is still wrecking his country from the top down. We all know or suspect that was because of oil and western society is not hugely affected by what's going on in Zimbabwe, so we aren't that bothered, right? So in that case decisions are made on what affects us. Financially mostly. I might think that is not morally right but how would it be if our leaders made decisions based on what is morally right? who would make the decisions on what is morally right anyway? the lawyers? the politicians? the church?
This is becoming a bit of a rant I'm afraid and possibly not entirely coherent... I guess I think we can all throw stones at others who we disgaree with, that's easy, but that doesn't really help matters does it? Clearly at the time Tutu did his best to affect the situation for which I admire him and would think nothing less of him, but is it helpful to still be going on about it now?