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After the Olympics: politics back to normal?

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Robin Lustig | 11:31 UK time, Friday, 10 August 2012

I don't really want to bring down the curtain on the Olympi-bonanza before the closing ceremony's final firework has fizzled -- but we do need to remember that there's still a country to be run, even if it is half buried beneath an embarrassingly high pile of gold medals, and there's still a government that needs to run it.

And, as you may not have noticed amid all the excitement (a gold medal in women's taekwondo? Really? How did that happen? And when did horses start dancing to music?), the government is not a happy bunny. There will be trouble ahead.

David Cameron, as we discovered shortly before we went Olympi-mad, can't deliver on his promise to reform the House of Lords. This week, he gave up trying, which has greatly upset Nick Clegg, who in return says he now won't support proposals to reduce the number of MPs in the House of Commons, which would have been a great help to Mr Cameron.

Remember when we were governed by the TB/GBs? (TB=Tony Blair; GB=Gordon Brown.) Their hate-hate relationship poisoned the machinery of government and did none of us any good. Well, now it's the DC/NCs (DC=David Cameron; NC=Nick Clegg.) Maybe they don't hate each other in that fratricidal way that Blair and Brown did -- but they've certainly fallen out of love.

The lovey-dovey of the Downing Street rose garden in May 2010 is no more than a distant memory. The trust has gone, and neither of the coalition partner leaders believes any more in the ability of the other to keep his promises.

We are not yet half way through what is meant to be a five-year term for the coalition government, yet I sense increasingly that ministerial thoughts are already turning to electoral calculation. The Tories desperately want to win a majority that would allow them to govern without having to rely on those pesky Lib Dems -- and the Lib Dems desperately want to avoid annihilation.

Restive Conservative backbenchers seem to be chafing unhappily from the constraints of coalition, and when they look at what the opinion polls are telling them, they conclude that voters are no longer impressed by their protestations of coalition compromises in the national interest.

So what are they going to do about it? Do I think David Cameron is about to be overthrown by a phalanx of toga-wearing Boris Johnson centurions chanting blood-curling threats in Latin? Of course not. Do I think the Lib Dems are going to throw Nick Clegg to the wolves, in the hope of being able to appeal to the electorate in 2015 without a Clegg albatross around their neck? Er, unlikely, but not impossible.

The point is this: even if you care not a fig for the machinations of Westminster, these guys are responsible for devising policies that may, perhaps, help the UK economy out of the doldrums. If they are at each other's throats all the time, and looking for opportunities to do each other down, it doesn't exactly bode well for the rest of us.

Perhaps you haven't noticed, but the euro crisis is still very much with us, even if most of the bankers and traders are on holiday at the moment, and the latest figures on the UK economy (zero growth predicted for 2012, the trade gap at record levels) are pretty grim.

So although much of the country seems to have thoroughly enjoyed the combination of a bit of sunshine and an unexpectedly successful Olympics, it's a pretty safe bet that it won't take long for the smiles to fade. And I'm not expecting to see many smiles on the faces of Mr Cameron or Mr Clegg.

I know the marriage metaphors have been overdone, but I can't help observing that the prime minister and his deputy do look increasingly like a couple trapped in a marriage that's no longer working. If they stay together, it's because they think they'd be worse off separately -- but that doesn't stop them dreaming of it every night.


  • Comment number 1.

    No, not back to normal; WORSE!
    Despite unprecedented economic collapse, a number of commentators & political figures pointed to Olympic Games as means for providing some temporary economic respite. Labour Party shadow chancellor Ed Balls commented, “Thank goodness the Olympics will give our economy a much-needed shot in the arm”.
    There is no historic evidence for a substantial or even short-term reversal in economic fortunes as a result of the Olympics. BoE is predicting Olympics will give just a 0.2% point increase in growth.

  • Comment number 2.

    ONS report also reveals government’s “quantitative easing” has done little or nothing to alleviate the situation. The policy is supposedly aimed at promoting economic recovery at a time of weakening demand & rising unemployment.
    At its meeting earlier this month, Bank of England’s monetary policy committee voted to add a further £50B in Q.E. to the existing £325B stimulus committed since 2009. But this money, which is handed over to the banks on the basis that it will stimulate the economy by allowing desperate and struggling businesses access to credit, has largely remained WITH THE BANKS. The Bank of England’s latest figures on lending to business saw a £3B fall in the three months to May. According to the Federation of Small Businesses, 4 in 10 small firms are still BEING REFUSED CREDIT.
    Indicators point to the worsening of economic conditions. A central factor in the continuing recession is the fall in the number of full-time employees since the crisis began in 2008. In that year, the number of full-time employees as a percentage of the UK’s total workforce stood at 58.9 percent. In the first quarter of 2012, that number had fallen to just 54.7 - down nearly 2% from a year earlier.
    The economy is in freefall, even though 90% of government’s cuts have yet to come. Further slashing of public spending and services, including the full privatisation of the National Health Service and public education, will lead to even greater social & economic misery.
    Cameron does little else but provide verbal assurances to the British & global financial elite the govt remains committed to austerity agenda. Last week, he told the Daily Telegraph, “The way I put it is look, it’s like there’s a sort of global race on right now, in which countries are going to make it and which countries aren’t. And in this highly competitive world, you’ve got to get on top of your debts, you’ve got to reform welfare, you’ve got to make sure you can pay your pensions…you’ve got a public sector you can afford”. Asked if spending cuts would last the entirety of the next parliament, through to 2020, Cameron made clear that there will be at least a decade of austerity. In fact, he don’t see a time when difficult spending choices are going to go away. He said. “I can’t see any time soon when the pressure will be off”.
    Well, there you have it: Cameron can't see...

  • Comment number 3.

    It has been suggested that both Spain and Italy have a ´private wealth´4 times their national debt.

    With all the crying for ´sovereignty´ the British Govt. knows what to do.



    Here is one way to solve the ´national debt crises.´


    -or is more social equality in a ´national emergency´a far too high a price to pay ?

  • Comment number 4.

    We have had the circus - now the price of bread will rise dramatically!

    Anyone for a soup kitchen franchise.

    We all need to remember that the UK has to start making things again. And to sell them we have to do so at a competitive price. What do we need against the Yuan? - over a 90% devaluation(!) - puts it into context rather!

    But we have to do it, if we are to avoid devastating social unrest and make effective use of our people. We have to do it with bankrupt banks - and with loan supported property prices that also need to collapse by similar amounts!

    How on earth did we get to this dire position? We accepted a terrible lie - that there was such a thing as a 'post industrial society'. There isn't - it was a con by bankers and their political friends.

  • Comment number 5.

    quietoaktree 10th Aug 2012, Comment #3:

    I couldn't agree with you more, but it's not just Spain & Italy, it's (as your links suggest) Great Britain (AND other countries). There is a GREAT divide between the rich and the poor (poorer, poorest).
    But as long as the elites run the world, including politics & corporations, the poor will never see, or truly understand, social equality; they are too busy trying to survive (# 1 on Maslow's Needs Hierarchy - physiological needs.)
    Instead of reaching out helpful hands, the rich make "wonderful" donations like Monsanto crops that grow sterile or like Futures' Trading that raises the price of commodities.
    I am pretty sure that the elitist motto is: if they (the poor) are going to die, then they should do it and decrease the surplus population" (Dickens' book "A Christmas Carol") .

  • Comment number 6.

    #5 BB

    Maybe J_f_H can state his position on this ´Tax avoidance-evasion´issue ?


    Especially in Britain it is more or less embedded into the social structure -- National Trust etc and ´Gentry´land ownership.

    In Germany the ´friendly tax collector´ is apparently on the rampage-


    --and America ignores its Delaware etc.


  • Comment number 7.

    All ´Much ado about nothing´or a ´Storm in a tea cup´-- as ´Chickens come home to roost´?

    The fateful decision of the UK to concentrate on ´service industries´ to be the basis for its economy, is in tatters (and poverty).

    The isolationism (or even the bankrupt nationalism) spouted, sounds hollow when the UK has been dragged into the abyss by its ´Jewel´ service industry --banking !

    "But, Mr Hague added, the government wanted the opportunity to negotiate a "better relationship" between the UK and Brussels, which would include the return of some powers, before asking the British people to vote."

    -- not only in Germany is impatience towards the UK increasing, but is even approaching UK rejection among diplomats and EU citizens.

    The disconnect between the UK social classes has encouraged the ´elite´to carry on ignoring the true needs of the working classes and to even blame them for expecting too much from a society they themselves paid for and built with their own hands.

    -- and what is the important topics the ´elected´ have --

    -- how many bankers or Lords can sit on the point of a needle -- or are necessary to destroy the economy even more ?

  • Comment number 8.

    Mark Urban is back!

    Unfortunately, he's banging on about the Olympics.


  • Comment number 9.

    '8. At 20:42 13th Aug 2012, Scotch Git

    Hey, it's a new era, speaking of 'normality'. I thought he'd snagged the record at 3*, but we're on 5 and still open.

    *Actually I think this may be it, and in truly ironic style...


  • Comment number 10.



    Guid yin! One to be savoured...

    A pity Mr. Urban's Sinai thread is closed. I've been looking for some place to leave this.

  • Comment number 11.

    Oops. 6 and out in under two days.

    I may have jinxed the poor guy:(

  • Comment number 12.

    BBC has reported that UK police have been seen entering the Ecuadorian embassy.(not yet confirmed ?)


    Dictatorships just love this precedent.


    -- It´s a pity Assange didn´t go to the Chinese embassy --that would have been fun.

    -- Now every government that wants to enter British embassies and consulates abroad --only has to pass a law -- 5 minutes before.

  • Comment number 13.

    No doubt the UK govt has considered the possibility of South American countries siding with Ecuador and a possible cyber attack from ´Anonymous´ ?

    The BBC has just said that Assange ´faces charges´ in Sweden, when in fact he is ´wanted for questioning´.

    -- The Swedes also appear to have some ´loose Marbles´

    --the EU to the UK´s rescue in its fight against ´international terrorism´--another Iceland ?

  • Comment number 14.

    #13 Correction.

    --the Swedish prosecutor has placed charges.


  • Comment number 15.

    6. quietoaktree wrote:

    "Maybe J_f_H can state his position on this ´Tax avoidance-evasion´issue ?"

    Avoidance is legal evasion isn't - not my position but the law.

    The trouble is that many governments have been deliberately providing tax loopholes for a couple of decades on the pretext that the trickle-down effect of giving money to 'entrepreneurs' will boot jobs and the economy.

    The premise is, of course, wrong - there is no trickle-down effect Thatcher/Reagan/Milton Friedman is and was always wrong. It was wrong when it was tried in the 1890s (when it was apparently called the 'horse and sparrow theory') and the 1930's and has always been wrong.

    These tax concession need to be stopped and made evasion.

    Is that sufficient a comment of tax evasion and avoidance.

  • Comment number 16.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 17.

    #16 I used two words in Russian and got censored!

  • Comment number 18.

    #17 John_from_Hendon

    -- Try Welsh or Gaelic !

  • Comment number 19.


    The fiddling of the LIBOR interest rate has profound consequences and it also explains why the risk pricing of money failed to properly price things like NINJA (no Income, No Job or Assets) mortgages.

    What is more this has directly led to the collapse of Capitalism. Those responsible are the regulators who actually knew what was going on. The collapse of the price of money is directly the consequence of the fiddled LIBOR rate.

    Without prudentially priced money that is priced to reflect risk capitalism collapses as has been seen since the mid-noughties. The perverting of the LIBOR rate mechanism allowed this miss pricing. Risky debt was sold and priced as risk free debt, because those debts were being traded by connection to the grossly fiddled LIBOR rate setting system.

    The regulators and all those involved are unfit to either remain in post or to be ever selected for such posts (I'll not bother to name them here.)

    The rot started with the resurgence of Trickle-Down Economics and its running mate the Post Industrial Society which are pernicious lies had to lead to collapse, like the one we are suffering. It did so in the past and it will do so again.

    What is to be done? (not in Russian this time!)

    We need a Revolutionary Capitalism.

    We need to return to a capitalism where workers get a fair day's pay for a fair day's work and to be paid in a prudentially priced currency.

    What has happened in recent decades is that inequality has risen sharply and even more so since the crash of 2008. However there is a matter of arithmetic that means that workers and states are unable to rescue the bust banks. They have to be let go bust in an orderly manner. The state and the people haven't got the money to rescue to banks from their own folly. LIBOR fiddling allowed then banks to mis-price debt and sell this debt on as good quality debt into the market. There are hundreds (possibly thousands) of trillions of debt that have been misrepresented and so mis-priced.

    What is currently going on, the preservation of the old order is economically unsustainable as can be seen by the continued and deepening recessions and depression. We must use the mechanisms of capitalism - namely bankruptcy, to sort out the banks. Amalgamating duffer banks with slightly better banks will not work (see Lloyds/HBOS). What should happen is that the obviously unsustainable banks are wound up.

    Until this revolution is grasped there will be no way out and no recovery in jobs or productivity.

    Capitalism has the mechanisms and they must be used or the depression will deepen and last generations.

    We must seize back capitalism!

    Anyone any thoughts!

  • Comment number 20.

    #19 J_f_H

    Has the ´Capitalism´you praise ever existed ?

    Almost every European society began with Feudalism -- and for some countries (UK) it has existed in parallel and often independent from the ´average serf´-- but still influencing his daily life --in spite of ´official´denials´.

    In America the ´Robber Barons´were (and still are --as you point out) -- hardly the face of the capitalism ´to write home about´ in glowing terms. Allowing banks to fail may be a good first step-- but is in no way sufficient to produce the transparency or ´Glasnost´ that both European societies or countries require-- if ´fairness´is to be accepted as an ideal of ´Capitalism´.

  • Comment number 21.

    Hague must be dismissed and Assange given free and protected passage to Ecuador.

    -- He has been given asylum.

  • Comment number 22.

    Interesting times.

    At least any with an unhealthy stock of Rohypnol and a hazy grasp of no means no now know where to head of due process seems iffy.

    Not saying the authorities anywhere are coming out of this well, but the variations in standards in certain quarters as they prioritise their moral equivalences seems.. about normal.

    Certainly the UK has managed, as only it can, to turn a sow's ear into something even less appealing.

    I knew things were not headed in a good way when, post Olympics and Ms. Kirchner being temporarily back in her box, the quaint notion of colonial empire oppression hit the news.

    That and media faithfully 'reporting'... well, 'reporting' at least the 'storming' of embassies as an option.

    But agreed. diplomatic immunity and asylum rules exist globally, and when you start playing fast and loose in one place...

  • Comment number 23.

    #22 JunkkMale

    Really interesting times.


    "But the Lords also threw out almost all the charges levelled against him, since they pre-dated Britain's adoption of an international law allowing any nation to try anyone accused of torture."


    "Commission director Maria Luisa Sepulveda said they had identified another 9,800 people who had been held as political prisoners and tortured.

    The new figures bring the total of recognised victims to 40,018."

    -- One heck of a mess -- heads must role.

    --and Spain has not yet commented.

  • Comment number 24.

    Two wrongs have, and always will, make a media frenzy.

    I guess for some it's just a case of 'one man's democratic champion is another woman's rape accusee'. Priorities accorded as, and when, it suits. To 'taste'.

    Role on the next when the ratings ebb, eh?

    Role on the next.

  • Comment number 25.

    It appears Mr. Lustig was again correct.

    "If they are at each other's throats all the time, and looking for opportunities to do each other down, it doesn't exactly bode well for the rest of us."


    "David Cameron, who is on holiday in Spain, also contacted the Foreign Office today amid fears the department had blundered by issuing the warning to Ecuador.

    The deepening acrimony between the two countries is poisoning British relations with other nations in South America. Argentina, Bolivia and Venezuela – all hostile to the UK – already back Ecuador, and the Government anxiously awaits the reaction of the continent’s superpower, Brazil.

    Whitehall sources admitted that an apparent threat – delivered by a diplomat in the Ecuadorian capital Quito – to raid the London embassy had inflamed the situation.

    The episode has also provoked a fresh row within the Coalition Government after Nick Clegg registered his worries with Mr Hague over the ratcheting-up of tensions between the two countries. "

    --when the cat´s away --Hague will play ?

  • Comment number 26.

    These comments were interesting and informative- kudos everybody!

  • Comment number 27.

    '25. At 23:10 16th Aug 2012, quietoaktree wrote:
    It appears Mr. Lustig was again correct.'

    And good for him.

    So is the clock on my wall, mind. Twice a day.

    For certain reasons, I tend not to rely on it exclusively.

  • Comment number 28.

    "Craig Murray, a former ambassador to Uzbekistan, writes that he “returned to the UK today to be astonished by private confirmation from within the FCO that the UK government has indeed decided – after immense pressure from the Obama administration"

    Hague prattles about "serious sexual offenses in Sweden" [failure to use a condom]. Reality is the desire of the USA to get its hands on Assange and make an example of him to intimidate others.

    Since the situation is so obvious and since Ambassador Murray's statement is news, what inhibits the BBC from publishing reality?

    The Pew has recently published a study showing the decline of public credence in news media. Serious journalists within the BBC might make an effort to improve things.

  • Comment number 29.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 30.

    #29 Requested link:

    That is direct, rather than quoted.

  • Comment number 31.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 32.

    #30 madmax


    #31 What ?

    -- Which part ?

    -- You mean I cannot explain the dysfunctional govt in Somalia by putting blame on the foreign minister who appears to have his own agenda ( similar to a coup)--thereby causing his govt diplomatic world problems ?

  • Comment number 33.

    --or the link to Radio Sweden in English ?

    --suggesting a Swedish ´mess up´?


  • Comment number 34.

    What !

    --also #29 ?

    -- You missed #21 ?

  • Comment number 35.

    Understand the millions that the FCO contributes to the BBC to, as the Americans put it, "promote democracy". If the paid employees of the BBC antagonized their paymasters, would such employment continue?

  • Comment number 36.

    #35 madmax

    -- This is privatization -- and outsourcing.

    I am not even sure if Mr. Lustig controls the blog using his name --probably not.

    -- I see my compliment to him has also suffered Cyber Death.

    Particularly frustrating -- Being very skimpy with them--- are few and far between.

    I have no idea why they have been ´flushed´-- however I trust they will reach ´Davy jones´s locker´safely.

  • Comment number 37.

    '36. At 01:12 18th Aug 2012, quietoaktree

    I am not even sure if Mr. Lustig controls the blog using his name

    If so, possibly one of the things he has allowed to err 'less right'?

    Can't recall exactly all you shared, but hard to see what was in what I did see to cross any lines in mature debate.

    Does rather highlight some of my expressed concerns on who controls the edit suite, if rather ironically, mind.

  • Comment number 38.

    #36 Just to be clear, I write all the blogposts; I don't play any part in the moderating of comments, which is done by a specialist team of moderators.

  • Comment number 39.


    Though broths attended by multiples of different cooks, no matter how specialised, are less assured of hitting the spot.

    But it's good to know that posts on interactive blogs do on occasion get read; even responded to on occasion.

    Perhaps less encouraging how few, and for what reasons, and inspired by what priorities. And when not.

  • Comment number 40.

    #38 RL

    Since the blogpost, dramatic events have occurred that have left your original observation of a dysfunctional (?) ´Kindergarten feud´-- to now an international disaster, with previously unthinkable far reaching analysis necessary. (please do some ?)

    No matter how unpleasant and disturbing it may be for ´Specialist Moderators´-- this is a situation for which they have never been trained --and may only be the beginning.

    ´Sexist´comments are unavoidable when discussing ´Swedish Feminism´--as are mentions of possible ulterior motives by Mr. Hague. Both are fair topics, but with extremely high implications.

    I would welcome the moderators receiving some assistance from you.

  • Comment number 41.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 42.

    From the confusing ´facts´so far it appears fair to say that Hague and Sweden could have easily prevented this mess.

    --the question to be answered is --Why not ?

    If incompetence --then Hague must go.

    --but that would be an ´easy escape´if an ulterior motive(s) exists --

    First Europe --then the world ?

    --a return to the ´old glory´ beginning at the present kindergarten of British politics as described by Mr. Lustig ?

  • Comment number 43.

    #38 Mr. Lustig --the ball is in your court.

  • Comment number 44.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 45.

    #38 RL

    --apologies if #44 stands.

    --other links were include within the link.

  • Comment number 46.

    How the heck can I explain (and give reasons and links for my statements) --with every second post removed ?

    I am not discussing an active British court case--that is now finished !

    Mrs Assange´s statements on the events is ´rule breaking´?

    Or should have I had said "It is alleged that...." ?

    -- Please someone clarify !

  • Comment number 47.

    #46 Instead of asking "why deleted?", repost in simple and clear fashion, using short posts as necessary.

    "By indirection find direction out".

  • Comment number 48.

    quietoaktree what are you trying to say?

    Whatever it is the moderators find it unacceptable. The Assange case raises many issues, but is really just a sideshow - indeed a distraction - a 'circus' to prevent discussion of things that may matter rather more. My advice is to leave it alone. Everyone must have their own view by now - the man is a great self publicist. (That can't be controversial can it moderators?).

    I'm quite, no very, surprised (pleasantly so!) that Robin L. reads his blog at all. He has only posted twice this year - the previous occasion on 10th April in response to my goading him over gas guzzlers - which he does(did not then) have. He doesn't go far on just £40 a month - I guess he drives around 4000 odd miles a year if his car is as efficient as mine. I would just add when I went down to our (mine and Robin's) old university last year for a reunion - which Robin didn't turn up to - although some of our mutual friends did) I achieved a real 64.7 mpg so we both do our best to minimise our impact on the planet. He missed some splendid fireworks and meeting our old VC was still on good form, if now in his eighties and unsteady on his pins - but still up to dressing down the present VC.

    I am really quite surprised that you did every though that any of the BBC blog writers had anything to do with moderation. (Why bark yourself when you pay someone to do so for you!)

  • Comment number 49.

    #47 madmax and #37 JunkkMale

    I can sympathize with the moderators, the British legal system is a minefield when the govt. is involved.

    This situation reminds me of when it continued an attempted ban on ´Spycatcher´(and One Girls War ´) even as it was being sold on London streets to passersby for a profit.

    The list of countries supporting Ecuador is now longer than expected and maybe even the call for Hague´s dismissal will gain momentum --already a British legal expert has called his action of ´alleged´ threat --stupid. His Foreign Office legal experts also advised him not to do it.

    Reports have it the ´European Arrest Warrant´is being massively mis-used-- originally conceived for the fast-track extradition of bona-fide terrorists-- similar to the international law against money laundering that was immediately used to catch tax-dogers.

  • Comment number 50.

    '49. At 16:00 19th Aug 2012, quietoaktree
    I can sympathize with the moderators

    As do I. They are, after all, mere agents of policy. But I'd be interested in the qualifications needed to garner the 'specialised' status that has even BBC Editors meekly deferring to their whim.

    What I have less sympathy with is those who set these policies, oversee them and, when convenient, hide behind them. 'Itwerentme.gov'.

    'the British legal system is a minefield when the govt. is involved'

    Probably. And across the MSM estate the shutters ever seem ready. On the Telegraph, they even seem to pre-empt the need for them to come down these days near every day, by the simple expedient of not running them up when certain topics look... 'exciting'.

    The BBC can actually still be quite daring. What is interesting is when it gets all daring... and when all of a sudden it doesn't. Richard Black, noted enivro reporter, coined the quaint term of 'watertight oversight' a while back, which described both the way the BBC reports on certain big ticket news scoops, and the BBC's audience's ability to then, or even later discuss all this.

    One fine principle was the notion that when certain things were up in the air it was best to have a hiatus on all comment, BBC or audience, until the fog of whatever cleared.

    Thing was, when folk started citing a few examples of when watertight oversight seemed to suit, but also when it no longer appeared to be quite as mandatory, out came the referrals, house rules and, of course, closings. As I am wont to point out, it is always nice to control the edit suite and broadcast dial.

    '..the call for Hague´s dismissal will gain momentum'

    A near certainty. There is politician blood in the water, and for many sharks in politics and supportive, tribal media, that is all it takes. The two will spin off each other, and I anticipate a raft of 'questions are being asked' and 'critics are saying' headlines, often but not always a bit vague on who these questions are asked by and who these critics are.

    I somehow doubt, in this case, many will be troubling with 'watertight oversight'.

    It does not seem to have been handled well, according to 'reports'. Either by Mr. Hague or those he oversees. Either way, the spotlight is on him, and responsibilities and accountability his.

    And probably, with much glee, a great deal from those for whom responsibility and accountability, and hence considerations of position, are never an issue.

    But I have long since ceased to have much faith in such resources, especially when their motivations can often be nakedly self-evident, and with the interests of the country often compromised to serve their ambitions to 'shape' things with views that should only be reported upon.

    As always I have found reading around to be eye-opening. This seems a fair account (albeit ironically headed by that pervasive 'we' UK journos deploy too often to presume to include me in what they and those they identify with say and do) https://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/charlescrawford/100177250/julian-assange-and-ecuador-where-we-slipped-up/ , as always not just because of what the author has to share but others in comment below.

    And these latter mercifully less compromised by some deciding what others can, or cannot, be exposed to.

    The poorly worded 'threat' has reaped all, and more, that it sowed.

    However, what seems to be enjoying less traction around a media estate happier with local meat, are other salient facts that reveal all protagonists in this sorry charade to be less than stellar.

    I merely find it frustrating that it is being played out here by an Australian who is being pursued by Swedes with the possible connivance of Americans, and all stirred up by some hypocritical tin-pot South American flea-pit with an eye on Ms. Kirchner's success domestically in rabble rousing.

    'The list of countries supporting Ecuador is now longer than expected'

    Lucky then the the Eurovision Song Contest scope has not yet extended there too.

    Because the UK is copping it. In no small measure thanks to official ineptitude to be sure, which needs holding to account, but in bigger picture terms again I have to wonder just which country's interests the BritishBC thinks it represents as it trots out talking points more designed to add heat to perceived internal ideological threats than illuminate ways to get our country's best interests sorted out on the world stage.

    Flying half of Salford to Quito to carefully select the views of el hombre de Clapham camion at just how beastly the colonial Brits are... for me.. ain't it.

  • Comment number 51.

    Here's Ch4's latest on it all..


    Interesting tail end citing doubts within Ecuador as to their government's actions.

    Here's the BBC:


    Again, some counter-context at the end, but very different in many ways.

    Actually, the BBC end-game hypothesis sounds the more interesting, if in a Chinese sense.

    I don't think Mr. Assange is one who sees his career path in damp squib terms, and as those who fronted his bail found out, he can have an impact that goes beyond his own future.

    I'd advise buying popcorn stocks.

  • Comment number 52.

    #50 JunkkMale

    I had to laugh at your ´South American flea-pit´ -- my rule was that with 3 fleas or less on the sheets -- I took the room (1966).

    I agree wholly with your BBC criticism, however with bowed head and hat in hands, do solemnly confess to still have a weakness in its favor. Probably because it was easy to find on short-wave.

    The first 4 paragraphs of the link below describes the US connivance.


    "--- illuminate ways to get our country's best interests sorted out on the world stage."

    One could discuss that topic for hours (weeks), but my cynical question would be --with a Feudal or Royalist flavor?

    Most Brits have no idea how pleased ordinary Germans were-- to have the UK as a partner within ´Europe´(way back then) --the door to that choice is now closed --what now ?

    I suppose giving some a copy of ´How to Win Friends and Influence People´would be a good start ?


    #41 (and #43) were more or less preambles on how a solution is possible.
    Sweden must extricate itself--for two reasons. Firstly, it is really ruining its reputation as a leading ´neutral´ country and secondly for Humanitarian reasons -- the wellbeing of the two women concerned. The stakes are emotionally far too high for them --and will only get worse if years are involved. Remember Monica Levinsky?.

    The next problems would be with America and the UK --but that is another story.

  • Comment number 53.

    #48 J_f_H

    I did (do) secretly hope that Robin could at least peak at the ´referrals and rejections´ so that ALL of our hard work could be appreciated by at least one person. Having an occasional 400 chr. post occasionally ´flushed´--I can swallow -- but having ONE ´flushed´after perhaps an hour of internet research, keyboard thumping,umpteen corrections and re-phrasing-- is another ´kettle of fish´ altogether-- especially when I have a bad reputation to uphold that involves that dirty four letter word ´work´.

    As to the ´Assange affair´ some good arguments convincing it is not an international plot against him are missing --instead politicians are going from one dog ´land mine´to the next.

  • Comment number 54.

    So can anyone turn all this detailed analysis into the next step of articulating solutions, proposing changes, making decisions and taking specific action to get the country's best interests sorted out?

  • Comment number 55.

    It would certainly be in the interest of the UK to see the back of the unfortunate Hague.

    How much popular support does the evident policy of being a lapdog for the USA have?

  • Comment number 56.

    54. _marko "wrote: anyone turn all this detailed analysis ... get the country's best interests sorted out?"

    Do 'human rights' and 'the country's best interests' necessarily have to be congruent? If not which should 'win'?

    See Burma claiming today to have ceased censoring the media.

    Or in short I don't 'like' your question!

    I'll try to respond in brief.

    There are certain areas which have 'solutions' - even when many of these are unpleasant. I happen to believe that there is strong evidence, for example, that Capitalism is the most efficient way man has devised to manage the allocation of resources - however there are perversions that result in many cases from the abuse of power and protectionism - often through inappropriately managed regulation used to subjugate the many to the advantage of the few.

    The Socialist/Marxist doctrine of a fair day's pay for a fair day's work is not incompatible with Capitalism. The similar doctrine of a fair return for fairly acquired wealth needs also the be remembered. As well as equality before the law. All of these three doctrines are well out of kilter in most of the World. And mainly it is the lack of fairness that is at the root of the disease.

    My recipe for a harmonious and successful planet is the fostering of equality and that the primary way in which every means of societal management should be judged is an assessment of how much they reduced inequality whilst they were in-charge. This is not a moral or ethical view but essentially an economic imperative - the dialectic materialist one if you like. This attitude clouds my view of most things, from the rights of workers in South Africa to the responsibility of states (and individuals) not to engage in extra-judicial murder (in particular they have a duty to treat non-citizens in exactly the same way they treat citizens - and, of course, not to lie.)

    The issue in most cases is how to react to transgressors of 'my' code of behaviour. When is it right to take up arms, for example? This leads to the idea of the just war. When is it right for a citizen to wage war against a state, for example. The 'wise' state recognises when it has pushed its people too far and modifies its behaviour - note that David Cameron! There are no answers to this question, but I would suggest that the fairness or lack of it contribute to the consideration. Abusive states need to be opposed. The lack of women's suffrage and equality of rights is a case in point. Whistle blowers need courage and should remember that the person leading the charge often finds that they are shot down from behind (arrows in the back syndrome!)

    Does that answer your question?

  • Comment number 57.

    #56 J_f_H

    -- Boy !-- This is going to be fun.

    --did you give Robin a couple of days holiday ?

  • Comment number 58.

    Hey, the BBC seems interested in talking about freedom of speech (less so about those in Ecuador, but that is another story I guess... to some narratives)..


    No comments enabled.

    In the circumstances, probably wise~:)

  • Comment number 59.

    #50, #54 and #56

    -- It appears that all three contributors have the idea (hope ?) that within the present UK system of governance, ´worthwhile´change is possible ?

    --it is not.

    --if it was, it would have occurred long ago -- The Magna Carta apparently has sealed Britain´s fate. Over time it concentrated wealth, power and privilege --with little ´trickle down´, so that when the colonies said goodbye, raw materials and markets went with them-- Spain and Portugal suffered similar, France differently (?).

    If WWll had not taken place, it is possibly safe to predict the average Brit would be in a similar situation as the average poor in America --with just as much wealth being squandered on wars ´in far off places´and hearing the same arguments -- " Why should the society pay for parasites ?"

    Other societies have deliberately taken other paths with real constitutions and governments that have attempted and ´succeeded´in making sure that Marx´s description of life in the UK is not an ideal worth emulating --neither many of its societal destructive laws and ´traditions´.

  • Comment number 60.

    59. quietoaktree wrote: "´worthwhile´change is possible ? --it is not."

    I don't think I expressed an opinion on that matter!

    History shows us this when societies fail to change, much like continental plates failing to move, that the pressures that build up result in revolutionary change - English Revolution, French Revolution, American Revolution, Russian Revolution. This generally has as many adverse as positive results for the people and often simply results in the change of dictator!

    I have expressed that idea that we need Revolutionary Capitalism where some of the essential attributes of an harmonious society I set out in #56 above are at least approached - and that is just taking the classic position of all idealist optimistic utopians throughout the ages!

    My nature is optimistic - so I hope for future improvement. However all that is needed is that the depressive pessimists outnumber the iconoclastic revolutionary optimists and you win!

    I do not accepted your argument that becasue it hasn't happen it can't happen! If your idea was generally accepted women would not have the vote!

    Try reading Manuel & Manuel French Utopias: An Anthology of Ideal Societies (available at all good libraries as they say!)

  • Comment number 61.

    #60 J_f_H

    -- Give me time--I said this was going to take days !

    Women getting the vote had nothing to do with Burgess, MacLean and Philby (or Mosley for that matter).

    -- we are discussing a specific ´status quo´-- perfected since the Magna Carta --and perpetuated by the ´Oath´.

    --and I am not surrendering any experience of living in three societies to any book writing expert who has not.

  • Comment number 62.


    Have found nothing to ´complain about´and agree on all points --and especially with your previous statement -´There is no such thing as post-industrialization´

    However, your next logical step is answer the question ´How ?´-- and this is where we appear to differ. -- the ´nitty-gritty´on this important issue is not discussed -- you ´believe´it can -- I can offer more evidence (1000 years) to the contrary.

    We agree on the rejection of nationalism and its daily misuse -- but that is what defends the status-quo.

    The question of Britain´s role in Europe or the World --appears to be redundant when faced with the fact the world has changed --Britain --not.

    -- I offer both Thatcher and Hague as typical examples.

  • Comment number 63.

    To John_from_Hendon #56

    Thanks for your response - I know it was a difficult question.
    The obvious answer is support the BBC! :)

    The best interests for human rights is a more objective stance than
    "the country's best interest".

  • Comment number 64.

    #63 marko

    --I would say the best chance for human rights (within a country) is citizen rights.

    Empire Settlement Act 1922
    Empowered the Secretary of State to formulate and co-operate in migration and settlement schemes to encourage Britons to settle in Her Majesty’s Overseas Dominions.

    --now repealed -- but used until the 70´s --still affecting British citizens today.

  • Comment number 65.

    62. quietoaktree

    The HOW question.

    The battle Burgess, MacLean, Philby, Blunt etc. fought: was it is right from their perspective as a political and internationalist battle? - however the dictatorship they chose to support was even less savoury that the one they chose to oppose!

    This is the problem of the real revolutionary throughout the ages - will opposing one side require that you support an even worse one. One of the reasons I dislike revolutionary change. However when the society that is resistant to change has to be opposed (for my reason of needing to decrease inequality) then it has to be opposed. I qualify my reason for revolution to make it clear that revolution to increase inequality is always and universally abhorrent.

    Did the Tolpuddle Martyrs join together to increase inequality? - I think not! (One cannot say the same about the Royalist Cavaliers and Southern Confederacy in the English and American Civil wars). My 'increasing equality rule' finds (or tends to find) the correct side to support in many situations.

    Take Syria for example. My rule of thumb is tricky to interpret, but here goes. We have a dictatorship which supports (ed) diversity and insurrectionists who most definitely appear not to do so. So which side should be supported? My rule of maintaining support for the side whose stance supports equality suggest that the West might side with the dictator in this war! Whereas in Libya, whilst the dictator encouraged some equality for women his action of murdering his own people strongly suggests the opposite. Iraq: the support for the religious zealots has resulted in a far less diverse society that under the repellent Saddam! There are no black and white answers!

    Then there is the question of the legitimate methods of protest. Is it always wrong to kill? (See my comments on 'just war' above!) My feeling is that if the cause is just, and the intended result egalitarian, and if the opposition is unprincipled and murderous than there is no limit to rightful protest. Then is was right under this heading for Emily Wilding Davison to throw herself under the King's horse. However it is doubtful if John Bellingham's assignation of Spencer Perceval was similarly justified! But again Patrick Magee had more of a case - but still not much! (under my doctrine of the greater good) for trying to assassinate Margaret Thatcher in Brighton in 1984. Bellignham's grievance was personal whereas Murphy's was essentially political and not personal. The whole notion of the legitimate limits of violence is extremely fraught, but nevertheless important. It is my opinion that extremists and other groups who want to suppress equality of treatment are nearly always in the wrong, but that is just an opinion!

    All of these matters are matters of judgement.

    Everything changes and provided there are a sufficient number good people then there has to be hope. So I do not agree with you that the situation is hopeless.

  • Comment number 66.


    --It was not what they fought for -- but what they were fighting against- Feudalism and its privileges. They were in a position to know it.

    I did not wish to go in that direction (as yet)-- that only came to mind to refute that all changes are of equal societal value.

    # 62 is the direction we should be on -- unless you wish to avoid.

    Which changes within Britain are necessary for a fairer and more functional UK society --do you support the present system ?

    --if so, where can the change come from ?

  • Comment number 67.


    Here is a translation of article 20 --German Constitution

    Article 20
    [Constitutional principles – Right of resistance]

    (1) The Federal Republic of Germany is a democratic and social federal state.

    (2) All state authority is derived from the people. It shall be exercised by the people through elections and other votes and through specific legislative, executive and judicial bodies.

    (3) The legislature shall be bound by the constitutional order, the executive and the judiciary by law and justice.

    (4) All Germans shall have the right to resist any person seeking to abolish this constitutional order, if no other remedy is available.

    As comparison--


    -- from where do you acquire your optimism for change, when the persistent call for " we want our sovereignty back !" can be heard as far as Finland ?

  • Comment number 68.


    The decision of the UK to concentrate on being a ´service´economy was probably not one of free choice --but of necessity. In the 80´s, the old Morris Minors were all over India and Sri Lanka --and on their last legs. Most of the other products were edibles Cadbury, Horlicks, etc. -- they had the advantage of being well known ´Colonial´products (and most likely still are).

    At that time, cheap electronics and automobiles were not yet available and it appeared that Japanese products were still not widespread.

    The industrialization of Asia was not only a problem for the UK --but for all who had Colonies and ´safe´markets.

    Even if Britain attempted to again become an industrial power -- the world has changed --and no longer with 100´s of millions of customers with little choice in either quality or price --more weapon production ?

    From the ship building on the Clyde to Manchester and Sheffield --what appears to be remaining are luxury niche products and those edibles and drinkables (Scotch whisky, Gin) that are still appreciated all over the world.

    --again I express pessimism --sorry.

  • Comment number 69.

    67/68 quietoaktree

    You appear depressed.

    What the British are good at is creating new products and technology - we may be no better than some other countries but we have a long history of creating new products and technologies. (You will note that I have left out the word 'services' from the foregoing.)

    Our problem is our completely uncompetitive asset prices/wages levels. The state needs to employ its people so the impetus of the market will push us towards making things again and we will be successful. Even the stupidest bunch of old Etonians (the present 'government') and a German Monarchy eventually figures out that millions of unemployed, and wastefully employed people, can not long be sustained thus the conditions for their employment must be met as they cannot be repressed - particularly when we can't even afford an army!

    The South African police my come to regret opening fire on armed strikers, but it is unlikely that the events of Bloody Sunday would be repeated on the mainland as the mass of the British soldiery would be unlikely to carry out an order to fire on their brothers and sisters as their numbers are small they know that they would in all probability be lynched if they did!

    As to the German constitution. The Germans are great at having rules it is a national trait of long standing. However one should I think remember that their rules have not saved them from the usurping of their constitution with dire consequences.

    The UK is bereft of a constitution and we are subjects and not citizens and like the Germans muddle through in a practical manner. But we did give women the vote fairly early and have moved quite a way on the equality agenda. Women got the vote under the Weimar republic in German I think.

    So long as there is life there is hope!

  • Comment number 70.

    #69 J_f_H

    "You appear depressed."

    -- Just totally frustrated.

    Women --Voting Rights--


    Germany pensions -- 1889

    As I suspected --our ´Geriatric´databanks --are in top gear.

    The reason for the German Constitution contribution was not only for the Right to Resistance but also for the word ´Social´. They even call their economic system ´Social Capitalism´-- and really ´take it to heart´. The question of a Right to´Social security´ has long been resolved.

    Subjects-- but EU citizens -- this is the tip of the iceberg when ´Sovereignty´is mentioned --the amount under the water is massive and is being fought ´tooth and nail´. But at present is the only way any meaningful change can occur within the UK --along the lines you appear to favor.

    I am not sure if the next part will be censored --so I´ll do it separately --Philby et al.

  • Comment number 71.


    During the 30´s social strife in the UK was at high levels --and for good reasons. Poverty was everywhere and the failure of the system was obvious to anyone with open eyes --no matter in which social class they reacted. Philby et al took a logical decision -- the choices of ´allies´ were limited, but what they wanted to change was clear.

    The next link is NOT meant as an insult -- I still kick myself at missing the opportunity to meet him.´--quite a character if even half is true.

    " He had particular responsibility for the Jewish illegal immigration camps during the run-up to the formation of the state of Israel."

    -- But to give an idea of the social divisions at the time, later and today.


  • Comment number 72.

    Here is another tit-bit

    --Shattering to some -but very relevant.


  • Comment number 73.

    We are elderly Londoners, present at the 1948 Olympics, and have spent much of our working lives as tachers encouraging young people in sport. It seems impossible, despite hours spent at the ticketing website, for us to buy tickets for any event, either at Olympics or now at the Paralympics, or even to get on to the Olympic site.
    Maybe when it is all over an opportunity will be given for us and the many other disappointed Londoners to view the Olympic park before it is all dismantled.

  • Comment number 74.

    Having lost the topic of this thread, if there ever were one, let me throw the following in the pot.

    Even BBC dullards who were selected for resonance rather than brains are beginning to realize that the FSA and like terrorists are paid and supported by the West to overthrow a majoritarian secular government in Syria and this for unrealistic geopolitical, rather than humanitarian, goals.

    Why not, with as much honesty as can be mustered in this unfortunate world, report this so that the public can vote accordingly?

  • Comment number 75.

    #74 madmax

    -- "Having lost the topic of this thread, if there ever were one,..."

    --Yes their is --

    "The point is this: even if you care not a fig for the machinations of Westminster, these guys are responsible for devising policies that may, perhaps, help the UK economy out of the doldrums. If they are at each other's throats all the time...."

    At least one MP has condemned the opening Olympic games party as a "celebration of Socialism" and Hauge (and others) are doing their best to defend ´sovereignty´ -- thereby not exactly " help(ing) the UK economy out of the doldrums.".. by alienating first Europe and now South America.

    J_f_H has been suggesting UK problems ´is Capitalism gone wrong´-- I also agree --but have attempted also to show --

    "If they are at each other's throats all the time...."

    --the (unintended ?) historical societal aspect of Mr Lustig´s statement.

    OK, admitted --taken out of context.

    --but irrelevant ?

  • Comment number 76.

    Lost - one topic.

    Actually, given the thread title is politics back to normal, most discussions, and events prior, during and post its penning all seems pretty pretty much 'on' track, topic-wise, to me.

    Ok, some things are 'evolving'.

    I'm now noting the whole one man's rape is another man's bad etiquette seems to be backfiring rather badly for a few selective sacred cow outlets.

    Plus the Ecuadorean 'only true home of asylum seekers and press freedoms (depending)' thing.

    What we need is one of those 'expert' 'guests' who seem to inhabit broadcast green rooms to help with what is evidently a crisis of context.

    How's about this guy?:


    He's never off, but some can't seem to get enough of him.

    Can't think why, but whatever it is it must be 'unique'.

  • Comment number 77.

    Whitehall is following, a few days later, the policies and statements of the USA.

    This US Naval report outlines the US objectives against Syria prior to 2007. They haven't changed, but the BBC is not going to mention them:

  • Comment number 78.

    ' the BBC is not going to mention '

    The old pre-pro/edit suite combo at work, eh?

    Well, along with politics, our media certainly seem to have returned to their version of normality in terms of priorities..

    This latest from twitter:

    BBC Newsnight @BBCNewsnight "if you want the truth, he looks fantastic", Vanessa Feltz on the Harry photos. #Newsnight

    I think I may head over to Heat Magazine to see how they're doing on 'comprehensive coverage of the day's important national and international news stories'

  • Comment number 79.

    The concerted focus on "chemical weapons" in Syria, despite the illogic of intense fostering of extremist terrorists, suggests that "WMD" are to again be the pretext for overt military aggression.

    Where are the media with the integrity to examine this?

  • Comment number 80.

    No doubt about it: Britain is mired in second official recession since the global financial meltdown of the autumn of 2008. In May, the British economy entered a “double-dip” recession for the first since the 1970s.
    Figures released by the UK Office for National Statistics (ONS) show the economy shrank by a larger-than-expected 0.7% in the second quarter of the year. This was the third successive quarter of negative economic growth and was far higher than the forecast drop of 0.2%. It follows a decline of 0.3% recorded in the first 3 months of 2012.
    The ONS figures are a first estimate and will be revised but still confirm that the UK is in the longest double-dip recession since quarterly records began in 1955. It is also the longest period of recession since the Second World War.
    The Coalition Govt played down the figures, which are a devastating indictment of its Coalition economic policies. Such has been the systematic wrecking of the UK economy that economic output is now 4.5% smaller than when the coalition government took office just two years ago.
    Speaking in London at the Global Investment Conference, organised to coincide with Olympics Games, Prime Minister David Cameron said he was “disappointed” with the figures, but added, “We’ve taken bold decisions to sort out our public finances & earn credibility with the markets”.
    Referring to the government’s seven-year, £123B austerity programme, he said, “We will continue to take the tough decisions that are necessary for business leaders and investors to have confidence in the long-term future of the British economy”. That will take some doing!

  • Comment number 81.

    Coalition's October 2010 austerity program - unveiled alongside government insistence that as public spending was drastically cut back - basis would be laid for a “private-sector led recovery”. The opposite has occurred.
    Prospect - slow, faltering 2 years in which output recovers to its peak levels of 2008, the worst economic performance since the 19th century, with only a weak follow-through in prospect afterwards. News is bleak.
    The biggest collapse in output came in the construction industry, which fell by more than 10% in the last 6months; this alone has eliminated 0.4% from total UK GDP.
    Despite the unprecedented economic collapse, a number of commentators & political figures pointed to the Olympic Games as the means for providing some temporary economic respite. Labour Party shadow chancellor Ed Balls commented, “Thank goodness the Olympics will give our economy a much-needed shot in the arm”. The reality is there is no historic evidence for a substantial or even short-term reversal in economic fortunes as a result of the Olympics. BoE is predicting the Olympics will give just a 0.2% increase in growth, if it gives any growth at all.
    ONS report also reveals that the government’s “quantitative easing” (printing money) has done little or nothing to alleviate the situation. QE money, which is handed over to the banks on the basis that it will stimulate the economy by allowing desperate & struggling businesses access to credit, has largely remained WITH THE BANKS. According to the Federation of Small Businesses, 4 in 10 small firms are still being refused credit. Surprised?
    Indicators point to the worsening of economic conditions. Economy is in freefall, BUT 90% OF GOVT CUTS HAVE YET TO COME INTO EFFECT!

  • Comment number 82.

    BluesBerry 80/81

    The present 'recovery' is already slower than the Great Depression (1930s). We have to go back to the 1870s Long Depression to find anything as bad and even then that was not as deep as now.

    For those that do not understand 0.5% Bank Rate compares to a previous lowest of 2.5%. This shows us just how bad the situation has become.

    The idiot regulators continue their deception and lies in a Micawberish hope that their ship will come in - it will not! It is at the bottom of the ocean crushed by huge excess creation of credit in the last decade. We still have the debt and its legacy of hugely uncompetitive asset prices. Both have to go before we can recover.

    We have to do something about the situation.

    There is only one action possible and that is to put rates up so that the essential debt deflation is catalysed along with the vital asset price deflation.

    There is a possible partial alternative however and that is pay cuts of say 25% of everyone in work top to bottom. This will also bring about the vital asset price deflation.

    So let me reiterate why asset price deflation is vital for a recovery. First it improves UK competitiveness and this itself is vital for increasing jobs. Second it gives workers more, after basics/essentials, income - which they then can use to buy things. Third it allows employers to pay less to workers and so increase competitiveness - without impoverishing workers. Fourth is partially undoes the gigantic overpricing and associated debt creation.

    Look, the banks(and building societies) will go bust anyway you do it or it happens. Presently becasue we have yet to understand this we are crushing any hope of recovery. Further delay just creates a deeper irrecoverable loss of output which we will never recover and this is why we have to take action NOW.

    Indeed if my policies had been implemented in 2008 (or earlier) as I suggested at the time then the UK economy would in all probability by now be recovering!

  • Comment number 83.

    Interesting interview --not for ´Twittees´

    "French philosopher André Glucksmann finds the situation in Europe "extremely unsettling."


    "Glucksmann: I've never believed that all the dangers were averted after the end of fascism and communism. History doesn't come to a standstill. Europe didn't step out of (history) when the Iron Curtain disappeared, even if it has occasionally seemed to want to. Democracies tend to ignore or forget the tragic dimensions of history. In this sense, I would say: Yes, current developments are extremely unsettling."


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