Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Rhetoric we can believe in

No, I've not been in Stockholm all this time. Back home on 25 August, but to bad news. My nana was dying. So, it's been a sad time and I haven't really felt like blogging.

Plus, I had 5 submissions to write for the consultation on the proposed closure of Post Offices across Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East. (Got them up on my campaign website for anyone who is interested.) Hopefully those in charge of this process will see the value of these Post Offices to the communities they serve, and give them a reprieve. We can but try.

I've also been trying to follow political events in the US. I watched the Barack Obama speech, and I was impressed to an extent. He is evidently a very intelligent and considered man, and charismatic with it. His speech, while very polished and principled, did lack a lot of substance. He is also nowhere near as radical as he needs to be to solve the endemic problems, particularly of the poor, in America. But then, how can he be? He is so constrained by the political culture in which he operates - a political system dominated by the cult of personality, money and religion.

There are so many vested interests that he has to pay cognisance of too. While it is painfully obvious (to me at least) that the US needs an NHS, how can any politician in that country get away with abolishing the current system entirely? The insurance companies have their ways of protecting their position.

Another problem with the US political system (crikey, I'm on a roll today), is the concept of the 'American dream'. The idea that everyone has the chance to 'rise up', to 'make it'. Yes, social mobility is fantastic. Opportunity is fantastic. But the problem with that idea, that system, is that not everyone can 'make it'. Under the capitalist system, there will always be some people at the top of the tree - with the flash careers and wads of cash - and others who are required to do the low paid work that is the foundation of the 'success' of others. Literally, people are being sold a dream. But that means that, even if the system is working perfectly according to supporters of the 'American dream' system, there will always be those who are left struggling. Surely, it makes more sense to be aspiring to a society where everyone can be successful, and no one feels like a second-class citizen?

But this is not Barack Obama's fault, and I think he represents the best hope for the future of the US. For surely incremental change is better than none at all?


Holyrood Patter said...

i think you are right about obama being forced into the mainstream by the constraints of the US system. However, I think its unfair to say his speeches lack substance. As he has shown, he has something of a knack for insipirational, soundbite worthy, hairs on the back of the neck speeches. However, at the party convention, he sacrificed a lot of that for fleshing out of policies, and attacks on Mccain.

Math Campbell said...

I agree with you on the problems faced in the US by Obama the need to be "strong"on issues without actually being strong in case the vested interests start shelling out billions of dollars to stop him being the President. It's a shame, but nowhere else on Earth does the phrase "money talks" have more resonance than in US politics.

Sorry to read about your Nana. Having lost grandparents at a very young age, my mother in my teens and my father a couple of years ago, whilst I cannot know what "it's like", I can make a pretty good guess as to how you're feeling, and you have my sympathies and compassion.

I applaud your comittment to fighting the Post Office closures, although I sadly am of the cynical impression that nothing, short of independence followed by re-nationalisation of the postal system will result in them not being closed. Sometimes however, it's important to try, no matter how unlikely success is. You never know, maybe they're not just going to rubber-stamp everything like "they" normally do. I wish you luck.

Julie Hepburn said...

Thanks Math - particularly for your kind remarks about my nana.

Regarding the Post Offices, I have had a response back from the consultation team and they are basically saying that they have been told by the Westminster Government that 2,500 Post Offices need to close across the UK and that they have to close the ones that would have the least worst impact.

That doesn't mean that it's impossible to save any of them. However, for every one that is granted a reprieve, another is closed. It's a terrible situation all round. Having distributed surveys around the communities affected, I have been sent a lot of information - mainly from elderly people - that tells me just how devastating closure would be for them. Some people really will be stuck if their Post Office is closed.

I agree, we wouldn't be in this situation if the Post Office was still being run as a public service rather than a business - and a loss-making business at that. The ultimate irony!

Patrick said...

What more endorsement could Obama want?

Julie Hepburn said...

Yes, it's in the bag for him with backing like that!