Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Adam Boulton is bang on the money

Adam Boulton (who is currently in the US to cover the start of the Obama administration) has written an article for the Times today which contrasts the US system of government with our own. His central thesis is that the US system of checks and balances on the executive means that there is a real debate about what should happen regarding the recession and it is not just the president and/or his close team of advisers who get to decide what should happen. He then contrasts this with the situation in the UK where our political masters decide what should be done largely behind closed doors and then present the results as a fait-accompli.

I would actually go further than Boulton here though. It is even worse than that here because what happens as I posted about last week is that the line is decided and then the full weight of the government is used to crush any counter arguments, often using ad hominem attacks on their opponents. You never get the feeling that government is actually listening to what can often be constructive criticism and questioning of approach and emphasis. With UK governments in general and Brown's in particular there is very little scope for shades of grey. Sadly I cannot see this changing unless there is a fundamental restructuring of how government in this country operates.

A few years ago I read a book by the Guardian journalist Jonathan Freedland called Bring Home the Revolution: The Case for a British Republic which I found a fascinating read. It also contrasts the US system with the UK one and with particular reference to how democracy over there is devolved. It is literally down to the level of districts voting for their sanitation commissioners and local police chiefs. It is a level of disbursement of political power that we just do not see in this country despite all the talk of localism you often hear from national politicians. I really do think there are things that we could do differently over here and although of course the US system has its problems, I think we could learn a thing or two from how they do things.

Given Brown's obsession with the US it is unfortunate that he seems to have overlooked an aspect of their way of doing things that I feel could genuinely improve politics in this country.

1 comment:

Brian Pat said...

Just had to say this is a really interesting view/opinion. Oh and agree about Bring Home the Revolution: The Case for a British Republic.
Brilliant read