Tariq Ali on the state of UK politics

February 3, 2010

TariqAliWhere is the burning debate on domestic and foreign policy observers might expect from the major political parties ahead of the next general election in Britain?

It’s just not going to happen, says political commentator and writer Tariq Ali, whose new novel “Night of the Golden Butterfly” concludes a fictional series titled “Islam Quintet” he began writing 20 years ago.

“The whole thing is on a farcical level,” he said in an interview with Reuters, suggesting that the election campaign has so far centred on quibbles about how and when it is best to make spending cuts.

No matter who wins the election, which is due by June 2010, “the result will be more of the same on both the domestic and the international front,” Ali said, arguing that there are no fundamental political differences on domestic or foreign policy between the Labour and Conservative parties.

Ali predicts that Britain will continue to trail the U.S. in matters of foreign policy.

“British governments follow the lead of the United States — it doesn’t matter whether the president is Bush or Obama, whatever they are told to do they will do,” he said. “Their line follows the American line on everything.”

London-based Ali, who in the 1960s was exiled from Pakistan for his political activism, is an editor of “New Left Review” and has written many books on politics, including “Rough Music: Blair, Bombs, Baghdad, London,Terror” and “The Duel: Pakistan on the Flight Path of American Power“.

He spoke to Reuters at Verso Books headquarters in London.

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Sadly I must agree with Tariq Ali that we will follow the USA down whatever path they walk. The problem with the English is that we have lost our sense of place in the world, so we follow in the shadow of the USA to give that illusion of empowerment. The sad fact is that the USA, Obama especially, treats the UK with the same sort of contempt a high school jock would treat the school nerd.

Posted by Alex Jones | Report as abusive

Yes Total comedy and Church and courts neutered. There is still a further change not yet done that is even Funnier and has Zen like attributes . You will not believe how proportional Representation will surprise you. Some on the left will admit to never being on the left and some on the right will admit to never being on the right. Mr Shakespeare would approve. Under Galbrathian Forests And Friedman Tyrany We’ll be binge drinking in the streets
With our children at our feet
And the morals that they worship will be gone
And the men who spurred us on
Sit in judgement of all wrong
They decide and the shotgun sings the song

I’ll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
Then I’ll get on my knees and pray
We don’t get fooled again

There’s nothing in the streets
Looks any different to me
And the slogans are replaced, by-the-bye
And the parting on the left
Is now parting on the right
And the beards have all grown longer overnight

I’ll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
Then I’ll get on my knees and pray
We don’t get fooled again
Don’t get fooled again
No, no!

Posted by Eden and Apple | Report as abusive

Well said. I totally I agree with Alex Jones

Posted by JAG | Report as abusive

I find it rather sad that a sober, factual news organisation like Reuters is taking a socialist crank like Ali seriously. The sort of changes he would want for Britain would turn it into a totalitarian communist state. No-one, fortunately, has ever taken his rabble-rousing seriously and it is commendable that the British have remained broadly centrist in their politics in spite of attempts by extremists like Ali and his ilk to provoke instability.

Probably the only area where politicians are massively at odds with the electorate is over Europe where, according to opinion poles, most Britons want a serious reduction in the power of the EU over their affairs. But this is a cross-party issue with people of every political hue wanting action. For other issues the debate should be fairly low-key. We’ve spent forty years telling you we don’t want your revolution, Mr Ali. Take a hint and stick to your novels.

Posted by John Lamble | Report as abusive

Unfortunately we don’t vote for policies now – only a ‘position.’ This is what the ruling political √©lite on both sides have wanted all along. If the one side isn’t revealing what policies they are going to implement, then the other side doesn’t have to either. I’ve looked at the online policy statements for the election from both Labour and the Conservatives – and on both sides there’s virtually nothing to tell them apart – it’s all presented as euphemisms, vagueness and spin. There is no true democracy any more in this country. But hey, while idiots continue to vote for both Labour and the Tories, the country will continue to go to the dogs – whichever of the two main parties gets in. The Credit Crunch is but a minor blip of a problem compared to what the UK has got coming to it in the not-too-distant future – I predict 20, maybe 30 years – both socially and finacially; riots and rations, immorality and injustice, a complete breakdown of social order with mass unemployment and violence. Can we change November 5th please so that we commiserate Guy Fawkes failure rather than celebrate it ?

Posted by nick | Report as abusive

From someone on the other side of the pond I can pray that your media (and people) can ‘allow’ and even prod the government to go in a different direction, particularly on the Israel-Palestinian question. That’s the REAL ‘third rail of politics’ here, rather than social security. Europe needs to adopt a differing PUBLIC stance here, to hope to defuse the hatreds from that part of the world. Solidarity with the U.S. across the board is a real losing proposition.

Posted by Irwin | Report as abusive

Backword supply curve of bankers and engineers

Posted by Eden and Apple | Report as abusive