Back to the basics of democracy

Dhaka,  Thu,  21 September 2017
Published : 12 Jul 2017, 20:01:19
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Back to the basics of democracy

Mahmudur Rahman
Theresa May is in an unenviable situation. The British Premier won't have cake and candles as she observes a year in office, though even the maverick United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) party grudgingly concedes she is one the best helmsman the country has produced. Ms. May has opened up too many battle fronts starting from bitter in-party fighting leaving her, probably, just the summer to convince colleagues she can be an affable 'leave' proponent though her heart always had been in 'remain' as far as Brexit went. Her predecessor David Cameron instituted some of the most painful austerity measures that the British have borne with for seven years, returning the Tories to power twice, albeit, the latest version being in a very weakened form. That resulting from a successful orientation of the public in reducing the deficit, i.e., mortgaging the current for the future. Having said that, voters are to be used at the financial deal she has had to strike with the LUD party in exchange for a majority in parliament. 

While the island nation is no stranger to austerity a la flashback to the coupons and rationing of the Second World War, four major factors have led to public outcry sending out the message 'enough is enough'. The 1.0 per cent cap on pay increases have kept people at work (currently unemployment figures of 4.0 per cent of the work force being one of the lowest anywhere) but also make them poorer given inflation is much higher. So when the stoical citizen says it's a trade-off between an extra meal and heating, the facts are dire. Severe cuts in the health funding has the National Health Service (NHS) limping, reduced spending on schools have broken the back of the once-famed education system and the decision to cut back on building new homes hasn't been taken kindly to. 

Brexit will come with a tab, an exorbitant one at that and the other option of trade agreements with emerging and prosperous countries outside of the Euro zone has met with lukewarm response. President Donald Trump does not appear to have responded too positively to Ms. May's overtures during the Group of Twenty (G-20) summit and Philip Hammond's walk through the park…er alleys of Mumbai made for good press but not too much more. Mr. Cameron had sent his Chancellor of the Exchequer to Washington where the then President Barrack Obama humoured but delivered little to the ally. Mr. Cameron wooed the Chinese enough to get a billion pound funding for the Hinckley Nuclear Plant and not much more. China, having bought a lot of European debt following 2008, has been sobered up with the crash in its growth.

The Steve Davis-led Brexit negotiations have stumbled at the start-line and Ms. May has fallen back on the only alternative, relying on the famous 'greater good' concept to get Labour's support in her approach to a sensible Brexit. Last-ditch effort or not, this is how democracy should function in situations where national interest has to be placed above party narrowness. It's something we too can learn from, accepting compromise as the way forward rather than hold diametrically opposite views. Good sense should prevail, that is if sense is good. Should Ms. May fail there will be chaos of a different kind. 

mahmudrahman@gmail.com
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