Thursday, May 13, 2010

British politics

UK politics, eh? I don't really understand what's going on, but I know it's historical and weird. Also, most British people don't really understand what's going on, so I'm not alone. They don't elect their prime minister the way we elect our president. They vote for how the Houses of Parliament will be structured, and whichever party has a majority in Parliament gets to put their man in 10 Downing Street. But what happens when no party gets a majority? They try to form coalitions (like on Survivor when people formed alliances, but still tried to stab each other in the backs). There were three main parties in this election, the Conservatives (right), Labour (middle/left), and the Liberal Democrats (far-left). And which two parties formed the coalition? The two with the least in common, of course!

So the Conservatives (Tories) formed a coalition with the Lib-Dems, a previously pretty small and weak third party. Now the Tory leader, David Cameron, gets to be PM but the Lib-Dem leader, Nick Clegg, gets to be Deputy PM. From what I understand (and I don't understand much), that's pretty groundbreaking. However, being Deputy PM isn't like being Vice President. They don't get to take over if the Prime Minister dies or anything. PMs don't even have to appoint a deputy. Gordon Brown didn't have a Deputy PM. Still, the Lib-Dems should gain some prestige from this, and it's pretty significant that any third party should gain such power. Like the U.S., Britain has been pretty strongly two-partied for a long time now.

It'll be really interesting to see how things pan out as far as compromises are concerned. For example, on the issue of immigration, the Tories and the Lib-Dems take polar opposite stances. Nick Clegg originally advocated for making all illegal immigrants citizens, while the Tories want to round them all up and deport them. (Well, actually, they wouldn't deport them. They'd just put them in high-security prisons indefinitely with no trial or hopes of ever living a normal life.) So yeah. Fun times ahead for Britain!

On a related but separate note, something I find really interesting and kind of funny: two of the biggest criticisms of Barack Obama in the run-up to the election were that he was 1) an elitist and 2) young and inexperienced. I was all for these things. After 8 years of George W. (and facing the prospect of Sarah Palin as second-in-command), I was ready for someone with a brain to be in power. And as a young person, I'm okay with young people with fresh ideas being in charge. In Britain, the Tories are most like Republicans, and Labour is most like the Democrats. But the people here who love Barack Obama, who support Labour or the Lib-Dems, their big criticisms of Tory leader David Cameron are that he is 1) an elitist and 2) young and inexperienced. Funny how that works, huh? The elitist thing is different here, though. Where Barack Obama was called elitist because he's intelligent and educated, despite humble roots, David Cameron is called an elitist because he's the son of rich, powerful people who sent him to the top (elitist) schools. The class system is way more powerful here than in the U.S., and David Cameron definitely belongs to the snooty upper class.

Ok, enough. I will now return to hating and ignoring politics.


  1. Oh, don't return to hating and ignoring politics! It is so much FUN to hear it all interpreted by you! You have absorbed through osmosis what it would take me hours/days/weeks even of slogging through the dross of the internet to understand. Thank you for making the world more comprehensible!

    And don't feel too down about not hearing from a public interest organization by the time they said they would get back to you. I have recent experience with these things. As my friend Jess told me (correctly, I might add) most non-profits are 'deadline challenged.' I think maybe you mentioned that this Uganda job is technically a for-profit company? But if they are do-good-y enough to be in Uganda, maybe they are public interest-y enough to fall into this category.

    Good luck with your hunt and don't let it destroy your soul! You are awesome and someday soon, some employer will wake up and realize it!!!!

    P.S. My dad says he will be spending some time in Tanzania and Uganda over the next year. Maybe if Ben and I go to Tanzania, we can talk him into flying us over to Uganda to visit you!:)

  2. "I will now return to hating and ignoring politics."

    That's the spirit :D