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December 2009 - January 2010

Political News

From Far & Near: Topics of Interest

by Bhupendra Gandhi

PM living on borrowed time, borrowed money.

In the month of August, Government borrowed a staggering £18 billion; the amount normally reflects a whole year’s borrowing but this financial year, the annual borrowing may touch 225 billion, well above the Chancellor’s latest forecast of £175 billion which in itself is an all time record but this record may not last long, as next year it may exceed £250 billion.

It seems this government has no understanding of the value of money. It is monopoly money rather than a real one. After all, it is printed by the Bank of England without having to support it with any real asset, the Gold Standard that was once a standard practice.

This huge deficit is due to sharp fall in the revenue generated by Income Tax, National Insurance and VAT while spending on benefits; especially benefits associated with unemployment have rocketed.

It was indeed a futile but headline grabbing stunt to reduce VAT to 15% which affected the revenue inflow without having any effect on consumer, as the prices have already been discounted with profit margin a bare minimum.

No one would be surprised if VAT is raised to 20% or even 22% in the next budget or the first budget after the election, along with cuts in Transport, Road Building and Maintenance, Defence, Arts and Culture and shelving the ID Card Scheme, replacement of nuclear deterrent, the Trident Missiles and similar projects.

We never had such a bunch of ineffective, economically illiterate and egocentric politicians in living memory, from all three main political parties, although I would hesitate to tar them all with the same brush, as we also have a few, a tiny minority of MPs who are extremely hard working, decent, honest and a life line for their constituents.

David Cameron promises that his cuts would not fall on NHS which is incumbent with inefficiency, red tape and bureaucrats and is in urgent need of efficiency audit and Cameroon’s pet project Overseas Aid. Does Mr. Cameron know that charity begins at home and in order to give aid, he would have to print or borrow money from countries like China, Japan and Germany?

Is it wise to incur debt in order to help countries where the money goes straight into the pockets of corrupt politicians without making an ounce of difference to the ordinary people? These countries, mainly in Africa do not want or need financial help; they need trade, a fair price for their produce to compete the heavily subsidised EU agricultural produce. But countries like France would never allow fair trade that would stop the replenishing the bank balances of her farmers, a powerful force in French politics.

If Mr. Cameron would like to be charitable, then he should look at our own OAPs who receive one of the lowest pensions in EU and according to the latest figure published, the pension has dropped from 21% of the average income to just 15%, again an all time record.

Mr. Cameroon should make the chronically sick, infirm and disable people amongst OAPs as a priority, who are on most part, treated with scant respect, even mistreated or ignored by the local councils, government officials, businesses and essential service providers like gas, electricity, water and telecommunication. It seems it is a crime to get old in this country and politicians and government officials believe they are going to remain young and healthy all their life!

Politicians lecture us that we should not borrow to spend on luxuries that we can do without in time of hardship and recession. Does PM remember his famous words of wisdom, “I will only borrow to invest in country’s infrastructure, not to spend recklessly on consumer expenditure?” Then all politicians have short memories, especially Prime Ministers.

Beware the ides of March; the Day of Judgement is not too far away.

Fault line in our Democracy

The BBC Question Time broadcast with BNP supremo Nick Griffin on the panel created immense interest, boosting the viewing figure to three times its normal audience, toping nine million mark. It was an unprecedented success for BBC, at least as far as viewing figures are concerned.

But many of Britain’s elite, mostly self-appointed guardian of multiculturalism and politically correctness were in high dudgeon at the appearance of BNP supremo, as Mr. Griffin, with his extreme right-wing, anti Semitic, racistt views is a hated figure amongst most politicians and voters alike. But it would be inappropriate for BBC to ban him from such a programme. After all BNP did cross the threshold of 5% vote and two MEP members that would entitle them some TV exposure. The main question is; should BNP be allowed to operate as a legitimate political party in a multi-cultural Britain with an expanding ethnic population and cultural diversity.?

Then BNP is not alone. There are many such extreme right-wing politicians and political organizations throughout EU. Some are even more extreme than BNP, especially in Eastern European countries which were until recently Communist States, under the influence of the old Soviet Union. However such an exclusion posture may carry the real danger of double standard, as like BNP some ethnic minorities would like to impose their standard and values on the majority of the British people by any means, fair or foul. Their street demonstrations drives moderate British people in the arms of vile BNP and multi cultural organizations like the English defence League.

In many ways Britain is much stricter, sensible and accommodating nation compared to our EU partners. The publication of offensive cartoons of Prophet Mohamed published in most EU countries were disapproved and ignored by all leading publications in Britain. This was indeed a sign of maturity on the part of British media.

One accusation thrown against BBC was that it was biased, not only in selecting the audience who were on most part anti BNP but even the most respected presenter David Dimbleby had gone to the audience, encouraging them to ask short, sharp and provocative questions that might have inflamed the already volatile audience.

In a democracy, demonstrations and counter demonstrations is a way of life. But such demonstrations are to prove a point, to discourage bigots from gracing such programmes that give them enormous publicity and above all be so peaceful that it should hardly need a police presence, thus not burdening the tax payers with huge bill in police overtime. It seems only Hindu community is capable of organizing such peaceful demonstrations that even police acknowledge are peaceful and hardly need any police presence. But in a multicultural country like Britain, we all have our values and way of life with different set of rules.

Normally the Cambridge educated Nick Griffin is a fluent speaker when he comes on the radio. But on question time, he was taken apart by various speakers on the stage and some sharp questions from the floor.

However Griffin did score a point when he told the audience that his father was in RAF during the Second World War, fighting for his motherland while Jack Straw’s father was in prison, being a conscientious objector.

Mr. Straw should have defended his father’s record as a sincere and honest person who was against any type of violence and he was not alone. But Mr. Straw did accuse Mr Griffin of being a Dr. Strangelove of British politics, a reference to a crazed scientist in the film of the same title. But the point was lost on the studio audience as well as most people who watched the programme on TV.

It seems BNP is expert at hijacking the popular theme that is dear to the voting public, the war time image of the spitfire fighter aircraft and the name of Winston Churchill who is credited with winning the Second World War. Mr. Griffin claimed that Mr. Churchill’s views on race, colour and religion were more in step with his party than any other political organization, including the main three political parties who would have found it difficult to accommodate Mr. Churchill amongst their fold.

The opinion poll taken after the programme was broadcast gave BNP some comfort with one in five, which is 20% of the voters indicating that they may consider voting for BNP. The vast majority, some 70% also said that the three main political parties do not have a credible or effective policy on immigration which is driving the voters in the arms of BNP. It is time immigration is discussed openly by all the main political parties. The talk of British population touching a 70 million mark by 2030, mainly through immigration, alarms many voters, as Britain, in particular South East England is already one of the most populated country in the world. Such expansion will destroy the green belt and will have an adverse effect on the infrastructure, housing, schooling and NHS.

The rise in BNP popularity is a knee-jerk reaction, similar to the rating that goes up for a political party after the annual conference. Come election time, it will be different, unless BNP gets similar exposure on the prime TV time and they use such an opportunity effectively and cleverly while the main parties remain silent on immigration.

In general, as Baroness Warsi said, Mr. Griffin was exposed for what he really is, what he stands for. But it would be fool hardy to dismiss him outright, to let him steal the show, the popular issues that is close to voters’ hearts.

Corruption that eats away Indian Values

Could Indian politicians be one of the most corrupt, money minded and unpatriotic politicians in the democratic world where democracy and free election is the norm?

It is a well known fact that Indian nationals held most Swiss accounts totalling 7,000,000 Crores Rupees that is more than the rest of the world put together when it comes to illegal accumulation and hoarding of wealth.

Switzerland is not the only country that facilitates such banking, illegal money laundering. Many islands in the West Indies, Channel Islands, as well as tiny principalities in Europe provide such facilities to their rich and influential clients along with complete secrecy and anonymity.

Now, to their enormous credit, the Swiss government has written to the Indian government, showing their willingness to release and share information if the Indian government submit official request through proper, well established channels.

This news has made headlines in many Indian newspapers. But it seems the Indian government is reluctant to make such a request. After all it was not in their election manifesto to bring back billions held illegally by Indian nationals in their offshore accounts.

Worse still, the opposition parties who did promise to act, do not show any interest in pressing the government to act, thus giving the government an easy ride. Could it be that the opposition politicians, that include BJP, are as guilty as Congress when it comes to political and financial corruption, ill-gotten gain hidden overseas, out of reach from the Indian authority?

Indian media could do a great service if they could keep this news item in focus, thus forcing the government to act, take up the Swiss offer. But the main question is, can we trust the media. Is media independent, corruption free or is it in the pockets of the corrupt politicians?

It seems the expense claims of our MPs are a minor incontinence when compared to billions of pound looted by the Indian politicians of every colour, shape and size?

Devaluing Nobel Peace Prize

It is not that unusual for the Nobel Peace Prize committee (NPPC) to make an interesting, even a bizarre choice for such a prestigious prize. So, awarding the Peace Prize to President Obama should not come as a surprise to any one, least of all to the President himself.

At one time, it was difficult if not impossible for a non white person to sit on such a high podium. Mahatma Gandhi is the prime example who was nominated five times but never acknowledged by the NPPC while Obama’s name was submitted in early February when he had not completed even two weeks in office.

It is also worth noting that the last three Americans to beg peace prize are all Democrats, namely President Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and now Barack Obama. Jimmy Carter is the most worthy candidate, as under his presidency, Panama Canal Zone was returned to its rightful owner, the State of Panama.

The Camp David Peace agreement was signed under President Carter which raised the prospect of peace in the Middle East while Bill Clinton is the only President in recent times who successfully handled the economy, eliminating the budget deficit for the first time in decades. No one would forget his pat slogan, “It’s the economy, stupid?”

Bill Clinton’s hard work was so brutally undone by Bush, practically making America bankrupt, having to borrow some $10 billion a week to fund the war and keep America afloat.

Some one sent me an email, with the heading “Who the hell won the war?” first showing the devastated cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki after the nuclear attack by America. Today these cities are one of the most beautiful, well planned, elegant and modern cities in the world, completely rebuilt, sprang out of the ruins, the atomic ashes, while Chicago and Detroit have gone backward in time, neglected, starved of capital and with worse slums. in America. The difference is unbelievable. The same is the truth when we compare Germany, a defeated nation with our victorious Britain.

Germany is a workhorse, a powerhouse with the highest manufacturing output and export in the world, accumulating some 40 to 50 billion euros in trade surplus every month. Returning to this country after a visit to Germany, one may feel we are a developing country, in a different league to Germany!

While America spends billions making war, attacking Iraq and Afghanistan and giving billions in aid to countries like Pakistan, the money borrowed from China, their own cities are starved of financial assistance and their infrastructure falling ……

Perhaps President Barack Obama may deserve the peace prize after he has completed his first term in office. But it will not be easy, as he has inherited the worse economic mess in American history that would take decades to mend. However mending relations with Russia by scraping missile defence project, to base such missiles on the Russian door-steps is a move in the right direction.

If Obama succeeds to bring peace in Palestine, establish an independent homeland for the long suffering Palestinian people, then he will go down in history as one of the best US President.

Let us wish him good luck and a prosperous Hindu New Year.

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