Articles

Burma

In Uncategorized on November 15, 2010 by grahamharrowell

How impressive was Aung San Suu Kyi? Just released from house arrest she resisted the temptation put before her by the world’s media to say something which would get her locked up for good or even killed. Her measured words say a lot about her.

Interestingly, the much maligned Burmese elections that preceded her release contrasted markedly with the recent general election in the UK. According to the BBC there were no queues at the polling stations and anyone who turned up and got in to the polling station before the deadline was able to cast their ballot. How different from the situation that we saw in many places including Sheffield where Nick Clegg was elected.

What will the many students who queued only to find they couldn’t vote be doing in the coming referendum on PR? Like me (someone who has favoured PR for many years) they’ll probably be voting against the change. Now they’ve found out that the price of a plebiscite on AV is a massive rise in the cost of being a student they may think that it’s time to give Mr Clegg a bloody nose.

Before the polls I responded to an invitation by both Mr Clegg and his party’s pre-election website to put to him any query I might have about his party’s policies. I am still awaiting a reply.

Now it might just be that this is a simple case of ill mannered behaviour or rudeness. Perhaps the question was inconvenient. I won’t go into detail but it was clear that whoever had decided to sign up to the particular policy didn’t understand the detail. More interestingly (in the light of subsequent events) it was exactly the same policy as that put forward by the Conservatives in their manifesto. Either way, I’ve still had no reply so I was thinking that either the question was too difficult or they don’t actually care about the electorate at all.

This week I found out that in the run up to the election the Lib Dems had apparently been re-thinking their policies which they appear to think conveniently absolves them from any guilt in ditching pledges that had been theatrically signed (presumably so as to have more impact) and presented to the electorate. I don’t recall them mentioning that they were doing this so that I had time to reconsider where I was going to put my cross. To be fair, it must be easy for total rethink of your policies to slip your mind in the run up to a general election.

Britain sits smugly on top of the moral high ground casting aspersions on other elctoral systems when we find ourselves in trouble for denying prisoners the vote (administratively rather than judicially) and we find that there are irregularities in the way an MP has been elected.

Many of us here too find ourselves with a government we didn’t want, implementing policies we didn’t vote for because of the “coalition”. I’m beginning to worry that, should a change to PR bring into play elected members from more extreme minority parties, some of those in the mainstream will not be able to resist the lure of power and office and get into bed with them.

So I wish Burma well. I hope they will be able to embrace democracy and improve their lives. But I’d suggest that they don’t waste any time looking to Britain for an example.

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One Response to “Burma”

  1. Hmmm, totaly agree that the UK elections were a farce in many cases, but applauding Burma on their election management is a little bit like saying ‘good old Mussolini, say what you like about the whole fascism thing, but at least he made the trains run on time’…

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