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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