September 8, 2015
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A free man at last. Nelson Mandela was released from prison in South Africa 30 years ago.
It was sad to write in this column last November about the terrorist attack that had taken place on London Bridge. This resulted in the murder of two young people - who were dedicated to the rehabilitation of prisoners - by a convicted Islamist terrorist. The attacker had been released from prison on licence after serving half his sentence and was himself later killed by the police. How depressing it is, so soon after that, to comment now on another similar incident in the British capital just a week ago.
Well, folks, it has actually happened. Britain left the European Union on January 31. This has created enormous attention and extensive international media coverage and there have been huge celebrations in London and elsewhere in the country. It has been described in Britain as the most significant moment in the nation’s modern history.
Having written two weeks ago about the watershed moment of the UK Parliament passing the Withdrawal Bill for Britain’s departure from the European Union, I hesitate to claim there has been yet another significant milestone in the Brexit saga. But this time, finally, it is for real and the goal has been achieved.
To adapt Abraham Lincoln’s famous dictum about not being able to fool all of the people all of the time, it is similarly impossible to please everybody even for some of the time. So to obtain order in the conduct of human affairs, some way has to be found of determining the will of the people. The best means is to consult them and let the majority prevail.
It is surely no exaggeration to say the sudden horror of last week’s killing by a US drone strike of Major General Qasem Soleimani, Iran’s top military commander and one of its most influential political figures, has shaken the world.
Writing this column on the eve not only of another year but a new decade as well, it is almost obligatory to reflect on immediate past events as well as to look at prospects for the foreseeable future.
WITH Christmas just a day away, this weekly column allows me the pleasure of writing about the joys of such a wonderful time of the year. But it is also a moment to think about the lonely and less fortunate for whom the celebrations can be a time of woe and pain as they suffer the sadness of loss and deprivation while we are all urged to ‘eat, drink and be merry’ in the traditional way.
Britain’s historic General Election last week turned out to be nothing short of an earthquake that may have changed the political map of the nation for a generation. For the first time, Labour Party supporters in its traditional, working-class heartlands in the North-East and Midlands areas of the country have voted Tory.
SUCH is the US mainstream media’s concentration on domestic issues that the serious terrorist attack which took place at the end of last month on London Bridge in the heart of Britain’s capital may even have escaped some people’s notice altogether.
With election fever in Britain building up towards polling day on December 12, this is perhaps a good moment to reflect on parliamentary relationships of the past compared with the deteriorating quality of modern-day political discourse, group values and affinities.
“Never complain and never explain” is a mantra said to be favoured by The Queen and has been attributed to the late Queen Mother.
As so often, the US media has been obsessed recently with domestic affairs to such an extent that, until this last weekend, foreign issues like the continuing serious civil unrest in Hong Kong have been receiving little coverage.
At this time of year it is a pleasant duty to write about Remembrance Day on November 11 and to note that interest in honouring the casualties of war has not waned over the years.
“There is a widespread view in the country that this Parliament has run its course.” These strong words by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson have been finally heeded by his fellow MPs who have voted overwhelmingly that the nation should go to the polls on December 12 – and many ordinary people, who have lost patience with the political class and their outright obstruction of the UK’s departure from the EU that has resulted in disruption and division, say that this will be none too soon.
PETER YOUNG: Imagine a tidal wave of refugees like we saw from Vietnam... North Africa ... Syria - but this time it’s from Haiti
So much has been written recently about the treatment of Haitians post-Dorian that I hesitate to comment further. But criticism of the Government, both here at home as well as overseas, has been growing and this prompts me to address the issue again.
Since the US media tends to concentrate on domestic news and, nowadays, in particular on the behaviour and tribulations of their President, it is hardly surprising that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s visit to Pakistan last week has not attracted much attention this side of the Atlantic. During a jam-packed five-day tour, which was the first royal visit there for a decade, the general view has been that they did not put a foot wrong on what was their own first trip to the country and that overall it was an outstanding success.
LAST week’s controversial exchanges about the treatment of displaced migrants following the destruction by Hurricane Dorian of the shanty towns in Abaco should have come as no surprise. As everyone knows by now, the potentially explosive issue of Haitian immigration to The Bahamas goes back a long way.
IN the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, The Bahamas has received so much aid, assistance and support from such a wide variety of sources, both at home and from overseas, that it would be invidious to single out any particular ones as being more worthy than others.
YESTERDAY’S press reports about the creation, in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, of a new ministry to deal with disasters will no doubt be widely welcomed.
OLD habits as a diplomat die hard, so even in retirement I shy away from commenting in this column on domestic politics. However, in the terrible aftermath of Hurricane Dorian perhaps, for once, such self-restraint can be put aside temporarily in offering a view following the publicity last week about the involvement of two former Prime Ministers in dealing with the crisis.
So much has been written already about the catastrophe of Dorian that it is hard to find further words to describe its deadly effects and the horrors inflicted on people in Abaco and Grand Bahama. The destruction and loss of life is almost beyond belief and the extent of the suffering unimaginable. So it is heartening that the worldwide publicity has produced an extraordinarily positive response from other countries and that an international humanitarian aid operation is now under way.
As a final reflection on our lengthy summer visit to England, I was genuinely puzzled by the degree of negativity, particularly in the media, about Britain and its status in the world. According to some, the nation’s standing and influence as a leading global power has suddenly been severely curtailed or even no longer exists. Such a view is often expressed by those who believe the UK’s departure from the European Union is an act of extreme folly and that it will be unable to prosper on its own.
Another fascinating debate being aired during my wife’s and my extended summer visit to England was about the balance between civil liberties and state intervention in people’s lives.
In last week’s column, I surmised that Britain was in for an autumn of political disruption over Brexit. The nation has been overwhelmed by this thorniest of issues that has provoked deep divisions and the resulting uncertainty and instability could become even worse.
An important international development that ought to be publicised but has received only limited US media coverage is the Hong Kong government’s current controversial plan for extradition to mainland China.
It is said the rise of populism is a dangerous phenomenon in world politics. This has come to the forefront again following the heavy losses suffered by the mainstream political parties in last month’s European Parliament poll.
Keeping alive memories of significant events in its history is a mark of a civilised nation. An important aspect of this is public recognition and remembrance of those who lost their lives in war so that honouring their sacrifice should continue for years afterwards.
Having commented briefly in an earlier column about utilising the potential of the Family Islands, I found the recent exchanges in the House of Assembly about the Immigration Bill’s amendments concerning foreign business visitors especially interesting, not least because of the indication of an easing of immigration restrictions.
In today’s world of instant communication via the internet, news of the horrors of the recent evil and cowardly terrorist attacks on churches and hotels in Sri Lanka will have reached far and wide.
Memories of youth seldom fade. I still recall a teacher in my far-off schooldays who seemed more interested in demonstrating his own intellectual prowess than in leading young minds to new ideas and concepts. ‘Liberty or licence’ (see below) was one of his favourite topics for essay-writing, without bothering to explain the difference in advance.
The sudden news of the arrest in London of the co-founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, not surprisingly hit the headlines last week.
Having written in preceding weeks about the thorny issue of Brexit, I turn today to the related subject of parliamentary representative democracy in Britain.
Since Britain’s departure from the European Union is causing political upheaval in a nation divided on the issue, it remains top of the news agenda. So, reluctantly, I am covering Brexit in this column for a third week running. This time, while mentioning the latest developments splashed daily across the British and European media, a brief look at the background that has led to the impasse might be interesting.
While it is essential to vary the content of this column, the massively controversial issue of Brexit is reaching a climax so this is a follow-up to last week’s report on the subject.
For many people in Britain it is mind-boggling that with so little time remaining before the nation is due to leave the European Union on March 29 the terms of its departure have still not secured parliamentary approval.
Press reports of remarks by the Prime Minister in New York last month in praise of the Nassau Accord ought to stimulate renewed interest in the role played by The Bahamas in the eventual ending of apartheid some 25 years ago. This agreement, which called for sanctions against South Africa and demanded it should dismantle apartheid and negotiate with the country’s black majority, was the outcome of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Nassau in 1985 attended by The Queen.
WHILE Britain’s departure from the European Union in March next year is fast approaching, Prime Minister Theresa May’s government is still embroiled in negotiations about the nation’s future economic relationship with the bloc after Brexit – a term now firmly in the modern lexicon.
The decision by Britain to withdraw from the European Union following a referendum in 2016 continues to stimulate endless debate and controversy, not least because of a relatively narrow poll margin of 52 to 48 percent in favour of departure. In a high turnout of some 72 percent, 17.4 million voted to leave.
Since governments are elected under the Westminster system for a five-year period, the Prime Minister is surely right to discourage people from judging him prematurely. Equally, it would be unwise simply to dismiss last month’s opinion poll showing a
New Year crystal-gazing is invariably guesswork and can be hazardous. But, having been asked to provide brief comments on The Bahamas’ prospects for 2018, it was not hard to single out the economy as the issue likely to be of major concern in the coming months.
DURING our lengthy visit to England recently, my wife and I were struck by the extensive coverage in the media of developments related to the European Union.
Following the 20th anniversary of Britain’s handover of Hong Kong to China, Peter Young offers a personal view about developments . . .
In the wake of the shock result in the British election, Peter Young looks at what lies ahead for the troubled Prime Minister Theresa May after seeing her majority slashed.
The received wisdom about local council elections in the United Kingdom is that they are normally an opportunity, between general elections, for voters to give the national governing party a good kicking with the result that it usually loses seats at this level.
Theresa May caught people unawares last week by calling a snap election for June. Peter Young explains why another poll is necessary . . .
A random act of terrorism in London last week has brought the issues around multicultural Britain into sharp focus again, Peter Young says . . .
Peter Young finds Britain’s future with Europe top of the agenda after a holiday in England . . .
As the the world’s oldest political association of states looks to be entering a new golden era of prosperity, its relevance is being tested by allegations of corruption and cronyism against its top executive, Peter Young says
The real work negotiating Britain’s exit from the European Union starts today with the return of Parliament, says Peter Young . . .
A long overdue report reveals the former British Prime Minister deliberately exaggerated the threat posed by Saddam Hussein in justifying going to war, Peter Young says.
Stay or go? Peter Young examines how the UK’s place in Europe is in the balance before tomorrow’s referendum
The outcome of Britain’s referendum on European Union membership next month is in the balance, says Peter Young . . .
Peter Young argues that saturation coverage of the race to the White House is justified for a nation founded on rebellion.
LAST month marked the tenth anniversary of British Prime Minister David Cameron’s leadership of the ruling Conservative party. Having emerged unexpectedly to take the helm of his party after only five years as a Member of Parliament, he became prime minister in 2010 at the age of 43, assuming charge of the first coalition government in Britain since the Second World War.
The harrowing images of desperate refugees highlight the immigration crisis facing the European Union. Peter Young looks at the problem and its implications for Britain