Friday, 21 September 2007

Elections, elections, bureaucracies

So it seems as thought both Australia and (perhaps) the UK are heading into elections. I've always found it curiously comical that although the UK and Australia have usually had the opposite party in power since the late 70s, the outcomes have all been pretty similar -- interest rates have tracked largely the same in both countries, as have employment figures, and the political agenda (crises about petrol prices and illegal immigration being on the agenda in both countries at similar times...).

It reminds me of Michael Portillo's comment on This Week a year or so ago. He was asked his opinion about why Blair ended up being at odds with Europe when before 1997 he'd campaigned so vigorously that Britain should co-operate more with the EU. Portillo said that he wasn't surprised because he [Portillo] has always been "a great believer in bureaucracies" -- in other words, the issue is always bigger than the politician. It doesn't matter if Tony was pro-Europe in his heart, when he was in power he was there to argue for Britain's interests and they were different from France's interests and so, sure enough, he ended up having rows with Chirac all the time.

But this leaves me feeling vaguely powerless at the polls. Not only won't my vote make much difference (because I live in a "safe seat"), but even if I did change the government, the outcome would be pretty similar. On reflection, maybe I'll go back to pretending that whether Darling or Osborne (and Costello or Swan) is chancellor is going to determine whether I'll be wealthy or destitute in five years time...

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