Archive | March 2015

Elections in Britain and Poland

Silent on the blog front in recent months – sorry about that. Have been very busy doing research/teaching/organizing my wedding (in Gdansk in August!), and stuff like this tends to get put onto the backburner. I have recently started some exciting new projects however, and shall say more about this on my blog very soon.

For today, I have been closely watching election campaigns in Britain (our General Election is in May) and Poland (the Polish Presidential election is also in May) and thought it would be interesting to make some observations (primarily on the British one):

1/ The best British politicians are mainly extremists

Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair dominated British politics when I was growing up. Whilst it was easy to dislike the policies of both figures, one thing that few would disagree on is that both were very effective and classy politicians. Both were prolific election winners, and both cut impressive figures on the world stage.

Unfortunately there are no figures in the traditional parties who are anything like that impressive at the moment. Instead, the best politicians in the UK today are mainly rabble-rousers! Nigel Farage, Alex Salmond and George Galloway may all be demagogues who offer extremely opportunistic programmes, but all have political skills/are capable of engaging with electorates to an extent that the likes of Cameron, Miliband and Clegg can only dream of. Afraid that I find the latter figures are all very pedestrian (particularly Ed Miliband).

In Poland, the two (centrist) politicians I have been extremely impressed with, Donald Tusk and Radosław Sikorski, have in fact also vacated the centre-stage of Polish politics in the last year. Perhaps a similar situation is developing in Poland…

2/ The parties of the right are generally more impressive in Britain

My politics are generally left of centre (and for this reason I will vote either Labour or Green – I haven’t decided yet), but one thing I must admit is that (if you take ideology out of the equation) the Conservative party and UKIP are functioning more impressively. For all his faults David Cameron cuts a more statesman-like figure than Ed Miliband, and UKIP’s shake-up of British politics has been truly remarkable.

3/ Cynicism is ruining politics

All politicians are liars/arseholes/pigs at a trough – we all know people who routinely say this. The problem however is that this kind of (very simplistic and unhelpful) cynicism has grown to the extent that it is now a major problem. Mainstream parties are finding it increasingly difficult to sell responsible politics, and generally there is a very worrying turn towards demagogues like Farage, Salmond etc…

This is a blog entry so I won’t go into detail, but academics have long known that low levels of economic/political/social trust are bad for society. Poland in fact has a longstanding problem with low levels of trust and so knows all about this…

4/ Magdalena Ogórek – WTF!?!?!

You may want to Google her! Magdalena Ogórek is the SLD’s (traditionally the main left-wing party in Poland) candidate for President. The problem however is that Ogórek is only in her mid-30s, hopelessly underqualified, and one fears she has mainly been selected because she looks like a Bond-girl. The discovery of footage from a few years ago of her saying that Christianity was good for Poland because it had protected it from things like shamanism and demons also hardly did her left-wing credentials much good…

All in all her selection is very sexist (I can only imagine how pissed-off experienced and credible female politicians in the SLD must be) and has made her and her party a joke…

Hope someone found some of those observations interesting! Off to Toulouse for a week tomorrow, and (fortunately!) there is no election campaign on in France at the moment. Some of the themes above are more than relevant to French politics however!