Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Class in the UK

Class in the UK is an odd thing. The majority of people are proud to be working class and seem to hate those they consider to be middle class and absolutely abhor those they consider to be upper class. This is reflected in TV shows. Nearly all UK TV shows follow the lives of people who the British consider working class. Practically no one on TV comedies or dramas is middle or upper class. What I find odd is that people who are said to be working class are usually not the type to be aspirational, not well educated or interested in being so and have awful social habits. Plenty of poorer people (what the Brits would call working class) in Jamaica are aspirationals, well educated or at least aspire to it and have fantastic social habits. I think us in the UK need to re-think our attitude to class. Surely character and progressive social habits need to be the most important thing. Not how one speaks or where one lives or went to school. We’d all be the better for a change in attitude in this direction. Given the current attitudes, anyone who is aspirational, educated and well mannered is scorned. This is stupid and not helpful.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Citizenship in the UK

A former Attorney General (I think) has written a report that, among other things, suggests kids swear a pledge of allegiance to the Queen.

Of course no one here thinks this is a good idea. The UK is an odd place. British people on a whole don’t like to be demonstrative and they feel pledging allegiance is doing just that.

I don’t agree that pledging allegiance is bad. I am against pledging it in this type of atmosphere and I am most certainly against pledging it to the Queen. Let me explain.

Firstly, the UK is pretty much an identity-less place. There isn’t a positive British culture that can be outlined. There are activities and traits that can be outlined, but frankly, they aren’t flattering. As it is a culture that largely abhors expressing enthusiasm for anything there is a big hole where there could be enthusiastic admiration for doing well and being successful – traits which are admirable in the US for instance. This unwillingness to be enthusiastic and instead to be self-deprecatory therefore leaves an unhealthy dedication to mediocrity on many occasions and doing things downrightly badly on other occasions. Quite frankly though, the British on the whole, are happy with the way they are. I am British and I personally think we could be much better off identifying ourselves with positive traits – the alternative is the moral vacuum that exists now and that is not good for the country. So given this vacuum, now is not the time to be pledging allegiance to some non-existent idea of what it is to be British.

The other part of my argument is that we aren’t citizens; we are subjects – one of the ludicrous results of living in a monarchy. Now the Queen is largely a figurehead – the UK is a constitutional monarchy which means the Queen does not decide how we live. An elected government does that. So pledging allegiance to an old woman who lives an unbelievably wealthy lifestyle at the taxpayer’s (many of them living in financial want) expense is a disgusting concept. If we are to pledge allegiance to anyone it should be to each other. If the UK is to move towards a better sense of self so to speak we have to invest in each other – delight in each others’ triumphs and commiserate in each others’ failures and help each other to do better while not tolerating the general yobbish behaviour that passes for civil society here.

There is a long way to go before we are in a position to pledge allegiance to anyone.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Clinton Must Go for the Democrats to Beat the Republicans. . .But She Won't

Hillary must drop out of the race in order for the Democrats to beat the Republicans. Let me tell you why.

As we all know Bush has made a right dogs dinner of things and by extension, the Republicans are in the doghouse. On the face of it this would mean that theDemocrats are a shoo in for the next election.

The problem we have though is likability and the fact that people are pissed off with Bush more than they are pissed off with the Republicans per se.

The likability issue boils down to this. McCain, the Republican candidate is very likeable - heck, many of the conservatives in his own party hate him. If ever there was a republican that on the fence Democrats and the undecided could vote for it is him. Now people do not like Hillary - for various reasons. However, people just LOVE Obama. Enough polls have already been done that say that if Hillary runs against McCain he has a really good chance of winning but if McCain runs agains Obama, McCain will be crushed.

So it's a no-brainer for the Democrats if it was just down to this. But they can't force Hillary out. The other problem the Democrats have is that the Republicans have already picked their man. So all he has to concentrate on from now until November is attacking the Democrats. Meanwhile, the Dmeocrats will be fighting each other until August. They just cannot afford this.

Hillary is going to stay in the race at the expense of the Democratic party and by extension the US and the world because like it or not, the whole world is deeply affected by who is in the White House. I fervently wish that things hadn't got ugly and that she and Obama could run on the same ticket with him as the presidential candidate and her as the vice predsidential candidate. That would give the Democrats a fantastic chance come November. But just as in 2000 with Nader - personal ambition and delusions about their ability to win - will cost the Democrats the White House - and the world a chance at stability.

God help us all.