Three items of recent news typify the inane incoherence of current political thinking (or what passes for it).
First, elections: Having squandered much treasure and many young lives on fruitlessly endeavouring to ensure that the Afghan people were given the chance to vote “honestly”, the Americans and British are now wringing their hands about “corruption” and a “failed state”. They are fine ones to talk! If they looked nearer home, they would find both in their own back yard. Does anyone honestly think that George W. Bush, with his hanging chads, the stopped Florida recount, and the wafer-thin award by the Supreme Court, was really the legitimately elected president of the USA in 2000? And can a British government with an overall majority based upon just over 35 per cent. of the votes cast at the 2005 election (on a 60 per cent. total poll) credibly lecture Afghans or anybody else about the virtues of democracy? Phooey!
Next, politicians versus experts: While it was quite funny to see the normally laid-back Alan Johnson going ballistic because one of his scientific advisers had had the temerity to question the logic of his refusal to accept advice to downgrade the classification of cannabis – presumably because that wouldn’t have gone down well with Sun and Daily Mail journalists (some of whom, it’s a pretty safe bet, are personally familiar with more arcane illegal substances), the logic of his “scientists are all very well, but ultimately these are political decisions” stance rang pretty thin. The usual clap-trap was then pumped out about ‘having scientists on tap but not on top’. He was promptly backed up by the Prime Minister, whose message amounted to “our minds are made up – don’t confuse us with the facts”. Obviously, Postman Pat has no intention of going down into history as Postman Pot.
Finally: David Cameron’s abject wriggle out of his ‘cast-iron’ promise that the Tories would hold a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. There’s no point, he says, because it’s too late now. And – needless to say – it’s all the government’s fault. The way in which all the mainstream parties duck and weave to ignore the obvious desire of the British people to have a direct say about our continuing membership of the European Union is contemptible. Even more contemptible is their failure to initiate, less alone to sustain, an informed debate about the pros and cons for the UK of belonging or not belonging to the EU. Such a debate is long overdue.