The Irish Times reports today on the upcoming UK elections and all that it entails; the razzmataz of election fever, the kissing of babies and most importantly the issues. Keen observations are made; "the economy, public services and taxation are not such that they are causing voters to change sides, the war in Iraq...has been sidelined as an issue...Europe...is barely mentioned," but without comment.
Why have these issues become so banal that they are barely mentioned, even when they have represented the core objectives in the present governments plan. The focus instead is brought upon immigration, the key to all our problems, they would have us believe. Their threat to our security, their theft of our jobs, their sponging off our resources and their dilution of our culture. Unless of course if you're in the market for cheap labor, as the Torys made a shameless example of by using a company employing below minimum wage paid foreigners to distribute campaign literature. Labour instead cleverly went for teens to distribute their work. Obviously 'values' leap out the window when theres a penny to be saved/made.
Eamon McCann rightly pointed out "There aren't enough foreigners in this pasty faced country." Britain, I think, could also do with some cultural 'dilution'. In any case, maybe it would allow them to better empathize with the suffering of non-whites in, lets say, Iraq.
Both the Conservatives and Labour have made immigration and asylum seekers their key issue, proposing alternatives such as policing the ports and processing asylum seekers off shore. Backing up the focus on this issue is the on going defense against 'terror' and the recent case of a failed asylum seeker jailed last week for murdering a police officer. Obviously this wasn't the smoking gun it once was, back when this "anti-social loner" was labeled a threat to Britain. But even so he remains a real crowd pleaser in the papers.
Those smaller issues that have yet to surface; the abuse at Abu Ghraib, the illegal (now legal, apparently) war, the defiance of public opinion, the forging/sexing up/plagiarism of documents etc. And although The Liberal Democrats have said that Iraq is an issue, they have failed to make it one. Possibly saving it until its too late, a tactic that has no doubt been passed on by successive leaderships.
On the eve of the invasion Blair said: "The question most often posed is not 'Why does it matter?' but 'Why does it matter so much?' Here we are: the government with its most serious test, its majority at risk, the first cabinet resignation over an issue of policy."(1) And while the war still rages, over a year since it 'ended', the issue has been sidestepped. The responsiblity must lie with the honest and hardworking journalist to make the issues issues. To allow those in power to decide the news, makes the independent press all but useless.
"Mr Blair's first term was dominated, among other things, by the initiation of reform in public services. His second term was blighted by Iraq."(2)
Whoever "blighted" Mr. Blair's second term with iraq, it certainly wasn't the Times.
1. Global Echo
2. The Irish Times
A third term for Mr Blair
At the midway point in the British general election campaign, opinion poll after opinion poll tells the same story: prime minister Tony Blair and his Labour Party will be returned on May 5th for a historic third term in office. Out of 11 samplings since April 7th, according to reputable opinion pollsters, Labour has scored an average of 39.4 per centage points. The Conservatives come in a distant second with an average rating of 32.2 and the Liberal Democrats a respectable third at 21.5.