I’ve been trying to keep away from politics recently. I really have. The saturation of political news has become rather intense of late, and I feel that I somewhat overdosed on it during the first few months of this year. As such, over April I’ve tried to keep away from it all a little; during the Easter Bank Holiday, I even attempted a complete detox, avoiding all news in general.
However, Politics seems to have its teeth well and truly sunk into me the moment, and no matter how much I try to sever its head and escape, the beast keeps growing another to drag me back. As such, I thought I would do a quick (and belated) review of the big political headline events that have happened recently, in order to get it out of the system.
So, here we go:
The French Election: May as well start with the biggie, eh? Unfortunately, despite this election being the probably the most significant event to have happened in global politics recently, there isn’t really much to say about it yet.
I have to hand it to the Frogs, they don’t do things by halves. There are not many nations in the Western world where an unapologetic hard-left Socialist who apparently supports over 90% tax on the rich and an alliance with South American populist dictators can win almost 20% of the vote and nobody bat an eyelid. However, in the end the predictable result occurred: Macron vs Le Pen. I’m not French and have no say (or an immediate stake) in this election, but if I was I would probably have voted for Macron. He seems a decent enough chap, and I like his fairly centrist, liberal platform. In any case, we will see if the polls are right and he gets the Presidency.
President Trump’s First 100 Days: I’m not quite sure why the Yanks get so obsessive about this arbitrary benchmark, but it seems to be making the news rounds recently, so I’ll throw in my two cents for what it’s worth; I’ll focus mostly on the foreign affairs, because that’s what we primarily notice outside the States. Of course, when the President started his term the news agencies – even those outside the U.S – could not get enough of him. Every day, you woke up and the headline would scream “TRUMP” at you. However, since the initial frenzy, the dust seems to have settled, though our family’s new moniker for CNN – the “Trump Channel” – still seems to stand (though recently it could also be called the “North Korea Network”). When it comes to foreign affairs, the Trump Administration seems to be very much reverting to ‘business as usual’ in many ways.
So much for the election rhetoric about the evil currency-manipulating China; while the President’s meeting with Xi Jinping didn’t appear to be exactly smooth sailing, he has recently praised the Chinese leader, and there seems to be some sort of positive dialogue happening between the two superpowers, which is good to see. On the other hand, the fabled ‘Bromance’ with Putin and Russia seems to have died a swift death – if it was ever alive at all. I will quietly blow my own trumpet on this issue – even last year, I never believed that there was anything like the mutual respect between Putin and Trump as was heralded. While the news media went into a frenzy of speculation during the election, the more sober and thoughtful analysts noted that despite Mr. Trump’s words, there was very little in the way of reply from the Kremlin. In any case, for the moment, there are no sign of improving relations on the Russian front.
In general, the “America First” isolationist tendencies suggested by Mr Trump during his election campaign do not seemed to have come to fruition. Military operations and strikes have continued unabated – I would hardly call the Syria strike non-interventionist! This is not necessarily a criticism of the President’s policy, merely an observation. From where I am, few of the President’s election promises on foreign policy appear to have materialised.
Indeed, so far Mr Trump’s Presidency seems to have been dominated by a lot of hot air, with not much actual substance. Apart from the spate of scandals, there has not been any major disasters, nor has there been any notable successes. My cautious prediction is that Mr Trump will not radically change U.S foreign policy any time soon; on the domestic front however – well, that’s a little out of my purview.
(Note: I suggest listening to the most recent The World Next Week for a good analysis of this topic).
The General Election: So, despite her previous protestations that she would never do such a thing, the Prime Minster has gone and called a snap election. I will admit that I was somewhat surprised by the decision happening at this fairly late stage, though of course it makes complete sense. Mrs May is generally supported by the British public, Mr Corbyn is certainly not very popular and Labour seem to barely exist as a unified party. The arguments about creating a stronger government for Brexit also make sense, though I am not for a moment bought in by the argument that this was the main reason Mrs May called the election. The timing of this election was calculated almost purely for political advantage; the wider context of Brexit is helpful, but I doubt it was central to the Prime Minister’s decision.
In truth, I’m ignoring most news about the General Election – we have weeks of the usual political nonsense to endure, so I don’t want to get too deeply into it at this early stage. I will wait for the official election manifestos to come out, have a good look at the notables of the different parties, and then decide on who to vote for. For me, this vote will mostly be about Brexit in any case; that is the big issue, regardless of what Labour will attempt to feebly protest. Indeed, I’m really not impressed with Labour at the moment – while I never like to say never, I will admit that my vote will almost certainly not be going to Mr Corbyn’s party!
The expectation is that the Tories will wipe the floor with Labour – Mrs May was recently touring through South Wales, for Heaven’s sake, a place so deeply Labour that (as the saying goes) if you painted a monkey Red it would be voted in as MP. That the Tories are even bothering with such a stunt suggests how weak Labour has become.
A personal caveat, however. While I am sure the Conservatives will do very well, I do wonder if they will have quite the landslide everybody is predicting. People are pretty tired of politics (with good reason) at the moment; apathy might lead to low turnout, especially if everybody is convinced the Tories are going to win anyway. In Labour heartlands like South Wales, I’m also not sure if they can really bring themselves to vote for the hated Tories – people might refuse to support Labour, but that does not mean that they will go Blue. As always, we shall see.
So there you have it. The Paradoxical Millennial’s snapshot glance at the hot political topics of the day. The itch has been scratched, and I’ve just lopped off another of the hydra’s heads.
Until next time, have a good one.