I first saw BBC World in Uganda back in 1993. I remember then expressing the hope that we would soon have it in Michigan. I did not expect it to take 22 years, but we do finally have it, thanks to AT&T. However, I’m not sure it’s worth over $100 per month. This includes a zillion other channels I have no desire to watch. CNN International is also good and comes with the package.
However, thanks to BBC World I’ve been able to keep up on the British election, which takes place on May 7th.
The first live televised debate was between seven leaders of seven political parties, including Prime Minister David Cameron and his coalition partner, Nick Clegg, leader of the Liberal Democrats. The debate was very interesting.
It was followed by a second debate last week, this time without the prime minister and his coalition ally.
Again, I found it very interesting but, at the same time, quite disturbing.
Each party leader was making promises. The four left-of-center party leaders were all promising more and more, competing with each other on how they would improve this or that service, spending more millions (or was it billions?) on this, that or the other. Only the leader of UKIP (the United Kingdom Independence Party) seemed to have any sense of the need to balance the nation’s accounts.
The Coalition has been trying to do that since austerity measures were introduced almost five years ago. Their policies stabilized the country while some continental nations were in a rapid downward spiral. Now, the other leaders feel it’s time to ditch austerity and throw a big, no-expense-spared party!
Two members of my family in England sent me a rather long article in the London Review of Books about the election in my hometown of Grimsby, on the east coast of England. Once the world’s premiere fishing port, the town fell on hard times after the country joined the European Common Market (now the EU). It’s revived somewhat, but is still way behind when it comes to economic development. It has been a Labour Party stronghold since 1945. There is a connection! No matter who wins, the next representative for Grimsby will be the first woman, as both leading candidates are women.
The Conservatives never stood a chance of winning the seat for parliament. David Cameron’s posh accent did him in! But a new party may actually take the electoral cup from Labour. That party is UKIP.
Resentment against the EU is so great that working class voters seem just as inclined to vote UKIP as they are to vote Labour.
It’s not just the EU, which is the problem. Immigration is another concern – and the perception that, in an area of 10% unemployment, jobs are being lost to immigrants, both legal and illegal. UKIP is promising to pull Britain out of the EU and to do something about immigration.
Unlike the other left-of-center parties, UKIP does not look upon the English tax-payer as a cash cow, or a bottomless pit, whichever metaphor you prefer. I think you get the picture.
The leader of the Scottish National Party, Nicola Sturgeon, makes Ed Miliband, leader of the Labour Party, seem positively restrained, in her enthusiasm for spending other peoples’ money. In her case, although she would never use the terms, all the money she is demanding for Scotland and Scottish development would come from the English taxpayer. None of the others participating in the debate commented on this, perhaps because they all (except for UKIP) were looking to get more from the English taxpayer themselves.
The British (read, the English) are upset because they subsidize much of Europe through the EU. How long is it going to be before there is a tax-payers revolt against all the subsidies to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, none of which pay their own way?
Ms. Sturgeon is also enthusiastic in her desire to see Britain scrap its nuclear weapons in order to partially pay for all this largesse.
Of greater concern is her insistence that, if David Cameron’s Conservative coalition is returned to power, and the promised referendum on EU membership is held, Scotland must have the right to remain in the EU, if England votes to depart. This would automatically give Scotland independence, even though voters rejected independence in a referendum last September. Independence is what she and her party are committed to.
But how would they pay for it? Scotland depends for roughly 10% of its expenditure on the English taxpayer. This will only increase if the SNP joins the Labour Party in a left-wing coalition.
If Scotland remains within the EU and England withdraws, Scotland will need all the help it can get . . . from Germany, Europe’s other cash cow!
PS: I thought you would all appreciate the following letter which appeared in the conservative Daily Telegraph of London. It’s a very astute observation on the British election campaign: