torsdag 23 oktober 2008

Depressing state of British politics

I was listening to the broadcast recording of yesterday's parliamentary debate. It was the usual slanging match, conducted in sneering tones, the main objective apparently being to score points off each other. The row concerned the conversations that were alleged to have taken place when George Osborne boarded the yacht belonging to a Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska whilst on holiday in Corfu.

According to the Daily Telegraph, Mr Osborne and Andrew Feldman, the Tory party chief executive, have admitted meeting the billionaire on his yacht off Corfu this summer. Subsequently, financier Nat Rothschild told the two that Mr Deripaska was willing to donate £50,000 to the Conservative Party through Leyland Daf, the UK company he owns. Mr Rothschild said that Mr Osborne initiated the discussion about donations, but the Shadow Chancellor vehemently denies this and said in a statement that he did not ask for the money.

The donation was turned down, but the fact they they were on the yacht at all says something about the Osborne and Feldman - what were they doing on the boat in the first place? At the very least, their presence was bound to cause them the trouble they have now got themselves into, quite unnecessarily. Someone with reasonable prudence and circumspection would have politely declined the invitation. But more worrying is that the atmosphere in which debate is conducted on any subject is absolutely inimical to measured consideration of circumstances and the development of effective policies. Good communication cannot occur, whilst misrepresentation and over-simplification of issues can flourish. One must wonder how the suggestion of land value taxation would fare in an environment so hostile to reasoned and cooperative discussion.

The political options in Britain present a depressing picture, with Labour floundering around, seemingly to no effect despite the tens of billions being thrown at the banks, the Conservatives with nothing plausible on offer and the Liberal Democrats presenting no clear picture of what they are about. It does not help, either, when time is taken up with distractions like this.

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