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4 May 2012
Do countries exist in a globalised word?
This is the question posed by Dutch commentator Joris Luyendijk in the UK’s Guardian newspaper today.
Is there “such a thing as a country anyway in a globalised world?” he asks.
Luyendijk has been travelling the length and breadth of the UK to find out how ordinary people view the local election campaign, which ended yesterday.
“In Wick, in the far north of Scotland, a woman described how she used to take out car insurance from a local agent. He would come to her house every month to collect payments and that is how it worked for decades. These days, she said: “I have to ring a call centre in India and they make you listen to music as you are put you on hold and then you have to deal with somebody you don’t know, and every time you call it’s somebody different.” After losing his job, she continued, the insurance agent had found a new one at Tesco, the retail group that had put so many local shops out of business. “You can’t help going there,” she said with what sounded like guilt. “It’s too … too convenient.” She paused for a moment, then added with a firmness that struck me as peculiarly British: “But I have never stopped the milkman.”
And Luyvendijk’s basic finding as regards the reaction of local people to the elections? Surprise, surprise, the local elections have stirred up a great deal of apathy throughout the land. Ordinary people don’t think that they will make any difference to their lives.
As often happens, the verdict of ordinary people is spot on. As usual, they will gain diddly-squat from these elections. The elections are exclusively about reshuffling relatively lucrative local government positions among the local micro-elites of the political parties. They have zilch to do with benefiting the electorate.
The election campaign ended yesterday with voters going to the polls yesterday. The poll involves a patchwork of local authorities of all sorts. However, not all local authorities are up for election on this occasion.
As we go to press, the votes have not yet been fully counted but it looks as if the worse-than-useless policy-free opposition Labour Party – simply as a result of being out of government and hence not being tainted by the putrefaction of office – has scored huge gains at the expense of the ruling coalition of Tories and Liberal Democrats, who have paid the cost of the austerity they have imposed on the population at large while finding room to introduced tax cuts for the mega-rich.
You might perhaps care to view some of our earlier posts. For instance:
1. Why? or How? That is the question (3 Jan 2012)
2. Das Vierte Reich/The Fourth Reich (6 Feb 2012)
3. The shoddiest possible goods at the highest possible prices (2 Feb 2012)
4. Where’s the beef? Ontology and tinned meat (31 Jan 2012)
5. What would Gandhi have said? (30 Jan 2012)
Every so often we shall change this sample of previously published posts.