Words without actions mean nothing

Friday, 5th June 2009 at 8:00 UTC 1 comment

The last 48 hours have seen some huge statements, from Cairo to Westminster and far beyond. We’ve had Hilary Clinton’s demand for a full disclosure on deaths in Tiananmen Square, Obama’s words of peace and his hope for a 2 state resolution in Israel/Palestine, and of course, we’ve had the war of words at Westminster enhanced by the James Purnell has sent round, calling on Brown to resign as Prime Minister, and the subsequent responses.

Indeed, I’m sure we’ll see plenty more words being thrown around during the next few days: we always do around election days, and with 27 countries voting across 4 days for the EU parliament, and on top of that, the Lebanese vote, words are everywhere; words of ambition, determination, hope, desire, anger and in some cases downright hatred.

My worry with Obama isn’t that his rhetoric isn’t on message (or rather, following the message I’d choose for him), for indeed, its monumentally better than the rhetoric offered by George Bush. My worry is that he won’t actually be able to carry this through in four yeas.

For Westminster, I feel a similar, but rather different hesitation. We’ve heard this kind of clamouring array of voices, demanding an urgent removal of a Prime Minister, on several occasions over the last few years. Rarely, if ever, has it amounted to anything concrete actually happening. I doubt it raises interest in voting, and I doubt too that it really does the party making the allegations any credit.

But my real concern is that some kind of “Cry Wolf” situation will occur. If every time there is something worth shouting “Resign” about, someone does it, and then the Minister, or indeed, Prime Minister, weathers it and carries on regardless, it makes me wonder if the exercise hasn’t actually strengthened the hand of power. The ability to ride out controversy may actually be increasing the ability to ride out controversy. This cannot be a good thing, essentially making our national political figures more and more resilient over time, like the way long slow exposure to certain otherwise toxic chemicals builds resistance.

But there is, of course, a far more dangerous set of words being thrown around. My real hope, given it is now almost certain that the BNP have won at least one seat in the European Elections, is that the war of words that a BNP win might inspire will remain just that. For it has been shown on many occasions that the particularly immature BNP members, of whom there are many, still fantasise about a day when they awaken having just won an election and can carry that into a race riot. Perhaps having something remain a set of words alone isn’t such a bad thing.

Still, the Palestinians, and all the residents of Middle Eastern states, need actual peace, far beyond their initial need of a US President who will offer them words of hope. And the families of those who died at Tiananmen Square need honesty from the State which perpetrated such a brutal act.

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Entry filed under: America, China, democracy, Free Speech, Labour Party, Politics.

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Alice  |  Friday, 5th June 2009 at 11:03 UTC

    But the real question is why did Obama quite happily visit Egypt when there have been recent bird flu cases? Just a few days earlier a low-level US politician took a military plane to China to avoid being on a commercial airliner in case of swine flu, yet Obama quite happily visited a country with recent bird flu which CDC figures show as being more dangerous than swine flu.

    Reply

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