It’s the general election today, and Britain awaits its fate at the hands of itself. This year’s campaign has been quite a show. Three politicians, three tv debates, one press baron and one quite nice-looking bigot from Rochdale.
Well, truth be told, I have found it all quite underwhelming. I feel saturated with press-speak: limp sound-bytes, predictable questions, and answers designed to concede nothing and sound righteous.
People are claiming the tv debates are influential. And of course Nick Clegg’s appearance gave the Lib Dems an immense 10 point boost. But I would suggest it was just that: being shown on the same platform as the ‘old parties’ as he would put it gave him electoral eligibility. I don’t think he was any better than the other two, but he did seem in the same class. The difference is being made by the large dissatisfied group who found their unity on the internet campaigning against Cowell’s hegemony of British pop. Now they have figured they might be able to do the same with politics. Who knows? Maybe it will work.
If anything I feel quite sorry for Brown, Cameron, and Clegg. Just looking at them makes me feel exhausted with all their round-the-clock tub thumping. Gordon looks like he is about to keel over, Dave looks like he has taken too much coke, and I am pretty sure Nick’s yellow bus is padded on the inside. Bless ‘em.
Anyway, enough of this. Here are some sketches I have made recently.
This is my friend Thuli
I enjoy drawing hands. I love how they rest so gently, but with so much energy stored in them.
Right, I’m off to plug into Dimbleby.
I read an article on the BBC today on the plusses and the minuses of the Copenhagen summit. To summarise the article:
Everyone got together and talked about climate change, with climate change firmly on the agenda. All the countries attended and, clearly, climate change was the centre of debate.
No-one agreed to do anything about climate change.
The nature of the article really reflected COP15: it is inconsequential filler.
If campaigners were right in describing Copenhagen as ‘our last chance’, then we are in a lot of trouble. It is not even clear if the Copenhagen accord is even UN sanctioned. All that is certain is that no-one is legally bound to do anything set out therein. It looks like a political deus ex machina, a shabby artifice so that politicians can go home saying they got something done.
In the same vein, I could draw up the ‘Hammersmith Accord’ whereby my Christmas tree and I agree to cut emissions from my neighbour’s cat by 20% by teatime on boxing day. I don’t really have to though, which is fortunate because I would not know how to begin measuring feline emissions, let alone censuring a Christmas tree for failing to comply with Hammersmith.
Countries can only do as much as the most reluctant nation will agree to. In terms of climate change politics, this country is, of course, China. Now China is looking to continue it is rapid expansion into economic superiority. This is all but a foregone conclusion. No other major players (okay, that should just say ‘the USA’) are going to restrict their economies if China won’t. But you’d think, at some point, the global community will have to realize that averting extreme climate change is more in its own interest than anything else.
But here lies the rub. If you went to Beijing and showed the powers of the People’s Republic a big scary picture of rising sea levels they would probably respond: “Flooding? Oh yes we already did that.” The Three Gorges Dam. What does a country that has created the most epic dam on earth, consuming whole towns and displacing over a million people in the process care about natural disasters? They are too busy rustling them up themselves.
Well, beside the ecological disaster of the Three Gorges Dam, invading and occupying Tibet, and testing nuclear weapons on its ethnic minorities, there is a lot to be said for China, and I don’t mean that insincerely. Hey, they are going to own us all before long, so I will have to delete this blog post before that anyway.
But if we are going to persuade the Chinese to put environmental responsibility up their to do list, we are going to need a better understanding of their culture. And if that’s not inconsequential filler, I don’t know what is.
I have been waiting for Obama to win with bated breath for a long time now. I am not alone, of course. But now he is finally there, I have only just realised how deeply the last eight years has affected me (and the rest of the world).
Since the election of GW Bush, we have been living in a world where the strings were being pulled by a bunch of mediaeval despots. The victories of social conservatives in 2000 and 2004 really got the millennium off to a bad start. They talked about creationism, theistic anti-abortionism, intolerance of homosexuality, and a distrust of foreign cultures, un-American ideas, and intelligent thinking as though these were not only acceptable but righteous views to hold in the modern era. And they wanted to proselytise, to ram the neo-con ideology down our throats and burn the brown skinned infidels who could never be brought to salvation. In the new millenium, we were going back to a dark age, if not darker than any before.
The regression to pre-enlightenment culture was something I feared I was going to have to witness in my own lifetime. All round the world people felt that the US was burning with the dark fire of self-interest, of self-righteous ignorance not seen since the crusades. Wars were brewing up everywhere, the world was collapsing into an economic cess-pit, democracy was failing.
And then last night America elected Obama.
I was just writing in the past tense, which is not really accurate. We are still afflicted with the same global sickness. But I feel that I wanted to use the past tense for a reason. I have realised this morning just how much the nastiness across the Atlantic has set me under a foreboding cloud for the last eight years. I could only see it all as part of a general downward trend in human history. Last night represents a rejection of neo-conservatism, of prejudice, of holy wars and division by the most culturally and politically influential country in the world. I am not saying those forces are gone: they are still there and surely will be back to fight their disgusting cause again. But a vital battle against them has been won.
Now I feel that the US, the world and every one of us has woken to a new morning and a chance to shake off the depressing fug of the last decade. People will begin to trust the US more, slowly but surely. We can see this change in American politics as a second chance to start the new century against a better backdrop (and is not often you get a second chance at things).
And today I certainly feel better deep down than I have in years.