April 21, 2010

JUST LIKE AMERICA, BUT WITH A 3RD PARTY JOINING THE CONSENSUS:

A trauma in Britain's placid meadow of political concord: Nothing in the manifestos would turn a hair in a US election. But Americans are enjoying the sight of a presidential race, UK-style (Simon Jenkins, 4/21/10, guardian.co.uk)

A friend watching Britain's debate was astonished at how little of substance seemed to separate the three men. Did they all really want to bail out the banks? Did they all agree, at least initially, on the Afghan war? Does no one question the national health service? Is everyone content under the security blanket of Britain's surveillance state?

Seen from America, Britain is a placid meadow of political concord, a lawn mowed flat by consensus. Hardly a breeze of dissent disturbed last week's debate. Where was the beef in "I agree with Nick"? Even the Liberal Democrats' past flirtation with radicalism – on war, drugs and local income tax – seemed forgotten. It was as if they all had something murky to hide.

Nothing in the manifestos would turn a hair in an American election. There were the usual bromides about cutting red tape and decentralisation. Everyone always says that. There was the obeisance to localism, but nothing to compare with the red-blooded fiscal localism practised in America or on the continent. No British locality would be allowed to vote to license and tax marijuana retail outlets, as California appears about to do. Suggest a fraction of the neighbourhood autonomy that Americans take with their morning coffee and British politicians will howl "postcode lottery". British politics still huddles beneath a stifling cloud of consent to centralised power.


At the End of History, just what are they supposed to disagree about?

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 21, 2010 5:49 AM
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