Thursday, 18 August 2011

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Those in glass houses shouldn't throw stones (or Molotov Cocktails in this case)

I don't usually read the Daily Mail, but I felt rather aggrieved after reading this story. But this post won't be me complaining and repeating all the angst about the riots and why the rioters are wrong, I will be instead offering an analysis of the political side of the crisis. Note that I do think that what the rioters are doing is wrong and they should all be dealt with by the criminal justice system.

If you didn't see the link or article, it says that some Labour MP's believe that the current conservative government spending cuts are to blame for the riots. It may well be the case, that a very small minority of rioters are actually angry with the effects of the public spending cuts. If this does turn out to be the case, I really do not believe any Labour MP's are in any position to be criticizing the government.

Labour is currently not in government, but if the current Tory government are to blame for these riots, then so is the previous Labour government. The years of Blair and Brown governments over spending and running up Billions of pounds of national debt is forcing the Tories into immediate action. The immediate action they chose is mainly public spending cuts. This particular method to tackling the debt and structural deficit may have been unpopular but they were forced to take some kind of immediate action by the previous Labour governments (or the country would be facing another fiscal crisis) - any other immediate financial action would probably have been just as unpopular as the cuts.

Having analysed this Labour argument that the cuts are to blame, you will hopefully conclude that actually Labour are just as much at fault as the current government. As explained the Labour governments overspending caused the current government to have to legislate for an immediate increase in national revenues - Conservatives chose public spending cuts - this forced legislation is now supposedly is causing the riots. This argument, when followed through, leads all the way back to the previous Labour government. I hope your surprised, because I'm not.

In summary, given the former Labour governments are just as much to blame for the riots, for current Labour MP's to try and shift all the blame onto the Conservatives is rather desperate and very, very misguided.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

John Lennon

"Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans"

Is the Arab Spring to be a false dawn?

The Arab Spring is now 6 months old. Since then Egypt, Libya, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Yemen have all followed Tunisia's lead. But have their protests come to fruition?

The best place to start to this argument, is to consider whether the protesters have achieved what they wanted. They had two very clear goals when these revolutions started: get rid of the dictators and implement a more democratic system. It should  be noted that it is hard to judge the Arab Spring's success as a whole, because each country has its own revolution which will have different goals, different sizes and different speeds of change.

It is true that in some places the first objective has definitely been achieved. Egypt has ousted Mubarak, Tunisia no longer have their former leader in charge and it looks as though it's only a matter of time for Qaddafi. Syria is not quite in the same situation, but they too will succeed eventually. It seems that many of the cruel, sometimes inhumane dictators have wilted under immense pressure and are no longer in power. But for the second objective, have they been replaced with anything better; a more democratic system?

From where I am sitting, it looks as though there are a lack of new democratic systems in the Middle East, caused by several important factors. Firstly in the countries with new leaders, the elections haven't been held yet. Part of me isn't surprised though, military generals do not have a particularly good reputation for handing over power legally and quickly. Another issue is what happens when they do hand over power. The Muslim brotherhood is likely to become a potent force in any Arab country's elections. As the people feel disillusioned and harshly treated by their former leaders, and as mostly Muslims populations, they may look to this party to support their views. There is a very strong possibility that if the Muslim brotherhood won the election, they would not implement a democratic system. Iran for example, a mostly Muslim country, has a system doesn't appear to be democratic, based on the protests about unfair elections. Similarly the Saudi Arabia system doesn't appear to be all that democratic. Lastly (I know this may be far fetched and we live in the 21st century) but in the past there have been occasions where worse leaders have risen to power in desperate situations. After WW1 for example Hitler rose to power, saying that he would get Germany out of crisis and back on its feet. Given the atrocities he committed and wars he caused, Germany may now regret allowing him to come to power. My point is that the Arab countries should think about its next leader or it may end up with a leader it later regrets.

This may appear to a very negative take on the situation, but so far there doesn't appear to be much progress on the democracy part of the revolution. Hopefully it's just be a longer process than we thought and in the next year or so, we will see democratic systems in many Arab countries; it will turn out I just spoke too soon.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Maybe the Tea Party wasn't such a good idea after all

To understand this argument, the best place to start is back in the 2010 mid terms, which provided a platform for many of the tea party  endorsed candidates. Candidates like Rand Paul won many elections around the country ousting the unpopular Democrat congressmen. The election result (a large victory for the GOP) was celebrated up and down the country, the electorate now had congressmen who were elected by the people, for the people. I am sure though that if they could have forseen the consequences of the Tea Party candidates being elected (the current US debt crisis) the mid terms may have been rather different.

I do however appreciate wholly blaming the debt crisis on the Tea Party would be unfair. Many Democrats are being ridiculously stubborn too. What annoys me most is that the Tea Party influence is putting the Tea Party backed GOP congressmen and senators in an impossible position.

The Tea Party are refusing to back any tax increases for the wealthy or any changes to the Bush tax cuts. The Tea Party congressmen therefore have to the same anti- tax increase line or they risk not getting re elected next year (many congressmen only won due to Tea Party backing). The result of this is that it becomes almost impossible to reach a deal. Democrats are demanding tax increases and GOP are demanding spending cuts. For any sustainable deficit reduction deal to be made, it will have to consist of both tax increases and spending cuts. Many GOP congressmen refuse to back any tax increases, due to the stance of the Tea Party; even though Obama and the Dems have agreed to spending cuts, demanded from the GOP.

Now in my mind, in order for a negotiation to be successful, you need a compromise. If one side, in this case the Tea Party refuse to compromise what so ever (like they have been doing for the last month), you can see why a deal between both sides becomes almost impossible; as seen by the fact the US has almost defaulted on its debt.

A resolution to the crisis will only be possible if the Tea Party stop acting like immature children and actually try to reach a deal, rather than promoting their own values. We will see whether this is the case when congress votes later this evening. Don't hold your breath though folks!