Who cares who leads Labour!
The British media is feeding on a frenzy of leadership speculation. New names for deputy leader of the Labour party emerge by the day, calls for Tony Blair to resign as leader before his personal milestone of having been prime minister for 10 years flood in from various quarters. Can he ride the waves or is he clutching at straws? Will Gordon Brown succeed him without much contest or will there be no coronation? Will the leadership row damage the Labour party's electoral chances or is anyone better than the lame duck prime minister? Questions after questions, yet nobody is asking the most important of them all: Does it really matter?
Of course, we are tired of listening to Blair's meaningless business management jargon being delivered with deliberate punctuation pauses after every two or three words to pretend that his brain was engaged in fresh thinking and the occasional high-pitch to mime real enthusiasm, so anyone would be better than him. Yet, it would only be a change in style, not substance. Gordon Brown's platitudes sound just as hollow, and John Prescott who either refuses to or is incapable of using consultancy speak is not going to be let loose on the public as he might damage the smug image of New Labour. But even if Prescott headed the party and the government, he wouldn't write its policies.
For that matter it wouldn't make a jot of difference either if Cameron or Campbell were elected. Successive alternating Tory and Labour government have hardly ever cancelled out each other's unpopular tax policies, for example, or ever opposed the main establishment view in anything but trifle issues. They are the puppets, they do not pull the strings. They use the same financial consultants to write their corporation-friendly economic policies to appease banks and financial institutions. They equally support the war-mongering and are similarly supine in the face of American dictate. They didn't become leading politicians by showing morals, values, convictions and backbone. They sold their principles to further their careers. We haven't had a Liberal government yet, but if ever they became electable in the eyes of the media they too would be non-distinguishable from the other two parties in this respect.
Maybe here lies the clue why the media are so obsessed with discussing leadership: it is a convenient way of avoiding a debate about policy. Only a minority of the British adult population bother to vote, for they know too well that they are not given a real choice. Focusing on personalities, as if they were the driving force behind the country's direction, is a convenient spectacle to fool the public and distract them from realising the real affects continuous government usurpation of power has on their lives and those of their children. We'd be better off watching neighbours, at least the soap opera's programmers do attempt to tackle relevant topics.
Britain liked to describe Westminster as the mother of parliaments, but she can hardly assume the title of mother of democracy. British democracy has become barren and her people haven't got a say. The groundswell of opposition to the Iraq war could safely be ignored by government and opposition parties alike, because they were never really answerable to their constituents. Compulsory voting would not make much of a difference, but there is something which could double the turnout at the polling booths without needing much persuasion: give us citizen-introduced referendums with binding outcomes. Over night politicians would have to listen to the will of the people, and nobody would want to miss the opportunity to tell them what to do.