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UK Election Candidates and Lessons, by Gabriel C Banda

 

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UK Election Candidates and Lessons

By

Gabriel C Banda

THERE are some lessons the UK Elections of June 8, 2017 have for the conduct of elections and politics in other parts of the world.

We will now consider the leaders of the main political parties.  Prime Minister Theresa May, of the ruling Conservative Party, called for the elections after she got into office after taking over from her leader David Cameron, a fellow Conservative, who resigned after the negative result of the Brexit referendum.

David Cameron, who had expected a vote in favour of remaining in the European Union and called for the referendum, was disappointed with the “Leave” result. He could therefore not preside over the exit from Europe, an exit he opposed. Therefore, David Cameron resigned to give way for another ruler to deal with the exit.

                                                                 Brexit

Mama Theresa May is in a position of heading a government that must respond to the Brexit Referendum result requiring UK to leave the European Union. Of course, leaving Europe is very complex for Europe, UK, and others and will have effects that are likely to leave Britain worse off in various things.

After UK leaves the EU, it is almost certain that Scotland will leave the United Kingdom.  There will also be complications in Northern Ireland, administratively a part of the UK, and the Republic of Ireland. We feel Brexit is more of a Break It.

But Theresa May is now prime minister and has, whether she likes Brexit or not, the task of following the referendum result that requires UK to leave UK. Because she must administer the exit required by the referendum, she has focussed on performing the task, whether she wants of not.

She has set her mind on doing some necessary task and role. She is making herself to flow with it. But we have to wait to find out if she will turn out like Cameron, calling for a poll and not winning it. But the elections she called are useful because they enable people, all citizens, to actually make a choice about who should be their prime minister at this time.

Of course, the elections will be more than just about Brexit.

                                                          Conservative for All?

Now, there are some issues that may be difficult for Theresa May because they are Conservative Party position and issues, not necessary that they are her limitations. It is interesting that Theresa May has, from the beginning of her rule, has called for a Britain and Conservative Party, often associated with positions of wealthy persons and the right wing striving for the exclusive, that works for prosperity for all people.

She wants to move the Conservative Party to be a party for people from all areas of life, rather than the wealthy and exclusive, so-called “elite.” She wants a Conservative Party and Britain for all.

Of course, sometimes Theresa May acts with a sincerity that can be considered naïve. At her meeting new USA president Donald Trump, one would have been careful about showing a shoulder-to-shoulder relationship with the Trump presidency.

Some people’s attitude towards her can be affected by their attitude towards Donald Trump. But Theresa May comes out as a person one may differ with over some issues but will respect for her listening to what others are saying and to her sincerity.

                                                               Jeremy Corbyn

In the elections also is my big man, Jeremy Corbyn, Labour Party leader. Just like my big man Bernie Sanders of the USA, Jeremy Corbyn is both sharply analytical and very courageous. He is fearless. And he is sincere as he speaks his message. His sincerity connects to the hearts and minds of many.

There were some persons, many from Labour in Parliament, who blamed him for what was not his fault – the “Yes” Brexit result.  They implied he did not do enough.

But Jeremy Corbyn could not do much about the result. Jeremy Corbyn did not cause the “Yes” Brexit result. Some persons, some of them Labour parliamentarians, also tried to stigmatise Jeremy Corbyn but, without much facts and basis, implying that he did not appeal to voters.

While those politicians within and outside Labour may not like Corbyn or his political positions, he actually has a lot of support with the public. The plotters of the coup plot may have envied, ignored, or underestimated Jeremy Corbyn’s widening appeal to the public.

If Corbyn’s Labour does not win the June 2017 elections, Corbyn, who was for Europe, will be saved from a very uncomfortable and complex Brexit UK delink process. If he then stays as Labour leader, he is very likely to win the next elections.

It seems Corbyn may currently be in a Win-Win situation. But, like in all elections, you do not speculate but just wait for the final announced results. In the UK, the elections are not held directly on the leaders of parties, but the leader of the party that gets the most parliamentary seats, or a coalition of parties with most seats, becomes prime minister. A victor may get the most seats but not necessarily the most votes nationwide.

                                                                   Lessons

In the June 2017 elections, there are also other contestant parties and candidates. For now, some of the key lessons are about the conduct of candidates during elections. The controversial, and cut-throat 2016 United States elections provided big contrast to the current UK elections.

The UK elections of June 2017 provide great lessons. The UK party leaders, like Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May, are generally, or relatively, polite. You do not hear outright insults and uncouth statements. They try to focus on policies and issues, and actually discuss those issues, even if they do not have the answers.

What I find striking is the sincerity of both Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn, in opposition. You may differ with some things they say, but theirs are not political gymnastics to please voters. They are sincere in their discussion. They lay out their positions on issues. They are persons who have missions they feel are important for the society, not just for their personal and group interests. Their sincerity is very notable.

                                                              David Cameron

Besides the examples of Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn, in UK there was also some good lessons from David Cameron. One of the greatest things Cameron did was to allow the decision of parliament about not striking Syria over accusations of chemical weapons.

David Cameron, who actually as a person comes out as a likeable person, respected the decision of parliament. In America, that provided Barack Obama a window to also not raid Syria.

Raiding Syria at that time could have made ISIS thrive earlier and brought about further difficulties for the Middle East, the Western World, and the whole. Syria would have become ISIS.

Earlier, David Cameron and Barack Obama had made the mistake of supporting, even if reluctantly for Obama, the war-lord Nicolas Sarkozy, in charge of France’s forces, to, despite caution and opposition from the African Union, raid Libya and murder and overthrow Muammar Gaddafi and regime, leading to instability that has greatly affected the world.

The 2017 lessons about sincerity of Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn towards politics and governance can help others in many parts of the world. Politics would be more civilised, more cultured. UK June 2017 elections are better example in politics and governance than USA 2016. And, currently, we have not heard about some Russia conspiracy to hack into the UK Elections!

ginfinite@yahoo.com

The Author: Based in Lusaka, Zambia, Gabriel C Banda is involved in writing and the arts, social development, and observation of conflict and peace issues.

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– GCB, June 2017.   At Wednesday, June 7th 2017.

 

 

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The ICC and Us, by Gabriel C Banda, (a reproduction)

Three years ago, in October 2013, this writing was published on WordPress, some three years before the recent October 2016 moves by some governments of Africa, starting with South Africa, Burundi, and Gambia, to practically pull out of ICC. “The ICC and Us” was published on WordPress.com as Number 05 of “Gabriel Banda Peace Notes,” done on WordPress. I here reproduce it, exactly as it came out, to contribute to current, October 2016, discussion on ICC, Africa, and human justice.

Gabriel Banda Peace Notes, 05: The ICC and Us,

October 12, 2013UncategorizedAfrica, Africa Union, Crime of Aggression, Crimes against Humanity, George W Bush Jr, ICC, International Criminal Court, Iraq, Kenya, Libya, Tony Blair, Uhuru Kenyatta, William Ruto Edit

The ICC and Us,

And How ICC Can Worsen Conflict

By

Gabriel C Banda

IT was eventually bound to come to this! This October at Addis Ababa, Ethipoia, Africa’s rulers gather, as the continental African Union grouping, to discuss whether their governments should continue to be part of the International Criminal Court, ICC.

The ICC has the task of helping humanity through the trial of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and the crime of aggression. While the ICC can be an important institution for the world, it has been considered partial, selective, in picking who to prosecute.

There is increasing concern that the ICC prosecution has targeted rulers from Africa while some possible offenders from other parts of the world, including the western world, have not been brought before international judicial platforms, including the ICC at The Hague.

The ICC has decided to put to trial Uhuru Kenyatta, the president of Kenya, and his deputy, William Ruto, who has already been at The Hague for trial. Kenyatta and Ruto had been on opposite sides in the national elections of 2007. They were accused of organising violent attacks on each other’s supporters.

But in March 2013 elections, the two stood together as a pact for president and vice president, and emerged winners. There are accusations that some external forces had not wanted Uhuru to be president and thus moved the ICC charge to prevent him from standing for elections and winning.

From the Kenya case, there are practical issues. How will a country function when its president and vice president are not around because they are out of the country, and on trial?  The two are not convicts. How does ICC deal with sitting rulers?

The earlier reluctance of Africa’s rulers to support arrest and trial of Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir by ICC may have been more linked to potential effects of the trial on society, at a particular time, than shielding the ruler. There are many stability factors that Africa’s rulers may be considering.

Some persons consider ICC prosecutions as Made for Africa. Some persons in the West are considered, from their actions as government rulers, to have caused huge suffering of societies and humanity. They are not being touched.

While there is talk about details of crimes some persons of Africa are accused of, we hear no proper answer about why George W Bush Jr and Tony Blair have not been brought for trial before international crime platforms. George W Bush Jr, besides the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq, has over him some warrants issued for torture. So far, he is not being touched.

If the USA is not part of ICC, the UK still is. There seem strong reasons to consider the trial of Tony Blair for crimes of aggression over Iraq, with the deep suffering and instability that followed.

There is also need to deal with crimes that may have been committed in Libya by external and local forces fighting the Muammar Gaddafi regime. There is need to investigate the targeted killings and harming of Black Libyans and Black Africa migrants during the Nicolas Sarkozy’s French forces 2011 campaign in support of some opponents fighting Gaddafi?

And in Libya, UN Security Council Resolutions 1970 and 1973, over Libya, did not allow external governments to have troops on the ground. Yet anti-Gaddafi external coalition forces and troops from neighbours like Qatar and Sudan where on the ground fighting the Gaddafi forces. International systems should consider investigating crimes of aggression.

As in Libya and Syria, some consider the ICC as another front against some regimes targeted for change. The ICC, United Nations, and others cannot just sit by and say Africa’s governments have no reason to pull out from ICC.

And it is not enough to say Africa’s rulers are against ICC because they are thinking of escaping justice. To avoid being ignored and going into a cocoon and decline, there is urgent need to address concerns raised by critics of the ICC.

Fearing that membership of ICC has potential punishments, many may withdraw membership. Withdrawal may be a safety, protective, mechanism against possible arrest. And not all who will pull out have things to fear but may just believe the ICC has been unfair. Even clean rulers may leave the ICC.

Criticism of ICC is beyond Africa. Already, besides Rwanda in Africa, China, India, Israel, Syria, the United States, and many others do not cooperate with ICC.

Now, I believe issues are more than about ICC being partial and biased against Africa. Away from issues of leaving out non-African offenders, one believes we also must, worldwide, consider concepts of punishment and retribution and their effects.

In some situations, ICC may, unintentionally, act as an instrument fanning war, strife, and conflict. What are effects of ICC trials on conflicts and societies? And we must consider other factors like the timing of ICC action and how that affects societies.

The ICC can end up worsening a situation. The threat of ICC over members of Gaddafi’s Libya regime may have contributed to more vicious conflict. Similarly, threats of ICC charges against Syria regime members may actually harden the current armed conflict.

Whether guilty or not, there are times when some arrest, punishment or sanction, or their timing, end up causing many others to suffer, beyond the convicted persons. Many generations can be negatively affected.

In some cases, the primary objective is to stop atrocities and heal a society. Poorly applied punishment will create further problems, especially for fragile or divided societies. Instability may follow.

Yes, it is crucial to stop atrocities and their causes. But the ways of the ICC may not be the best to deal with conflict in some societies. While reigning in guilty actors, a harsh judicial retributive approach may actually worsen armed conflict. Thus the ICC may be contributing to continuation of wars, instability, and delay of ending armed conflict.

There is need to consider how proportional ICC processes and judgement are when related to various potential effects on a society. Poorly timed and executed, ICC action can lead to further suffering and disharmony.

Although not perfect, South Africa’s landmark Truth and Reconciliation process showed humankind possible ways of dealing with injustice and moving towards healing.

One’s argument is not that the ICC should not be there, but must be fair. ICC must be just. Its actions, focussed on punishment, must not cause the suffering of many others. Its concept of “justice” needs to be broader than just achieving some narrow accountability, punishment, and retribution.

The ICC can be an important international instrument for protection of basic human rights worldwide. It can help avoid biased local prosecution of opponents by those who control governments.

Those who conquer others and get into government may affect the fairness of local trials of their vanquished opponents. It is not easy for Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi to be tried in his native Libya. Thus, for fairness and basic human rights, there is need for international legal institutions beyond states.

It is important not to dismiss concerns raised about the ICC by persons from Africa and other places. It is important to answer the issues raised.

International and state systems must not be biased to prosecute or not prosecute some persons because of factors like colour, culture, religion, language, origin, citizenship, political link, social status, being male or female, and other conditions.

The international community needs to consider issues of selective prosecution, timing, and effects of ICC procedures on stability of societies. October 2013 is a turning point for Africa, the ICC, and all of us worldwide.

ginfinite@yahoo.com

Based in Lusaka, Zambia, the author is involved in writing, social development, and peace issues.

–          GCB September, +Thursday, October 10, 2013, LUSAKA.

Mama Hillary Clinton in Zambia, by Gabriel C Banda

In 2011, Hillary Rodham Clinton, then United States Secretary of State, visited Zambia. I wrote about her in relation to some key challenges facing humanity and human relations.

Hillary Clinton, in whom many of us have for long been well pleased, has just had official endorsement as Democratic Party’s 2016 US presidential election candidate.

Of course, I differ with her on events of Libya and Syria. Unlike persons like John McCain and Sister Hillary Clinton and Bernard-Henri Levy, I believe that President Barack Obama did the right thing not to directly invade and strike Syria. If more armed pressure had been made on Syria and Assad had fallen, ISIS would have risen earlier and things would have been worse now.

On Libya, I believe, then as now, that Barack Obama, reluctant at first, should not have allowed himself to join France warlord Nicolas Sarkozy and others to invade Libya and destroy Muammar Qaddafi, leading to the chaos that will be with us for long. Western support for armed rebels in Libya and Syria, as the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, has created difficulties and some instability for the whole world, including Western societies.

And in the view of many of us in various parts of the world, Hillary Clinton will definitely make a good president for the United States.  The rule of Barack Obama has dignified America in the world and managed to make many outside the United States appreciate the projection of a United States that has a more friendly and humane nature, a society that is surely a close family member of humanity rather than its boss and bully and actor for the Superpower idea, “Superpower” being a myth that cannot be achieved in nature by any government or group. 

Hillary Clinton would more likely continue the improvement of human relations than, say, a person like Donald Trump, a personality that may lead to increased tension and division in human relations. Already, Hillary Clinton has made some remarkable contributions to the Common Good. More good than bad will arise from Hillary Clinton’s rule.

Here, I reproduce, courtesy Post Newspaper, Lusaka, the piece published on my then “Another View” column in the Post of Saturday June 18, 2011:

 

Mama Hillary Clinton’s Challenge

By

Gabriel Banda

“ALL too often, we were doing programs that continued year after year, and we, frankly, did too much of the talking and not enough of the listening, ”said Mama Hillary Rodham Clinton, USA Secretary of State, in our city Lusaka, Friday, June 10, 2011. She was closing the AGOA, African Growth and Opportunities Act countries, forum.

She observed that, “despite the best of intentions, for too long, in too much of our development work, the United States was not focused on the kind of partnerships that should be at the root of development,”

And Mrs Hillary Clinton said the United States administration of Barrack Obama aims to be more sensitive.

“In this Administration,” said she, “We have embarked on a new way of doing business.” And, “Our approach is based on partnership, not patronage.”

Also, “Ultimately, it is aimed at helping developing countries chart their own futures and, frankly, end the need for aid at all.”

Sister Hillary Clinton’s words in Lusaka highlight some key problems in human relations and development. These issues face not only people in USA and Africa relations, but governments and persons all over the world. It is about patronage or true partnership.

Problems of patronising attitudes and practices affect various fields. Besides the social development field, in politics example is the George W Bush administration’s March 2003 invasion of Iraq. The results of the invasion continue to affect not only the United States and the Middle East, but all of us, worldwide. Tensions increased.

Before invasion, the Bush regime had been cautioned, by many worldwide, of unjustness of the actions and the likely negative effects. These came to pass. Even now, clearly, instead of using the United Nations system to broker peace, in Libya the current external governments’ military role, which does not meet “just war” criteria, will bear huge negative effects worldwide. The war lord attitude has not been restricted to Bush rule.

But in development, trade and business, civil society, and other fields, actions arising from the patronage mindset are still with us.

Apart from other variations in nature, human variation is noted in issues like skin colour, being male or female, religion, ethnic link, culture, language, nationality and citizenship, and location.

Variation in many aspects of the world contributes towards a more whole earth and life. That there is variation on earth is great resource for us to learn and grow from many angles. This variation actively contributes to the making of the whole and the balance of that whole.

Each individual part is unique and gifted. Each we must appreciate. I believe that none is inherently superior or inferior by being born in some particular community. I believe a person born in the deserts of Africa can learn to fly a Boeing 747 while a person born in the skyscrapers of Manhattan can learn to live well in a desert.

We need to open ourselves to other persons. There is no stranger in the world. And the earth being circular, each point of the world is the centre of the world. Each individual or place is important for the maintenance of the whole world. Wherever you are is the centre of the world.

And wherever each person is, they must actively contribute their skills, experiences, and thoughts. A problem is when we are doing “too much of the talking and not enough of the listening.” This has meant closing, or limiting, ourselves off from the skills and experiences of others.

Often projects and activities are tackled without the active consultation and involvement of the ones who live the practical situation. This has led to projects not working well. Even where much money is poured in, lacking the essential human ingredients, the projects have reached less than they would have had they involved input from a wide variation.

Some who handle cash and resources tend to control the direction of projects and activities. They leave out the thoughts, skills, experiences, and visions of others they consider less able because those persons in material, finance, resource, and background situations are thought to be lesser than controller’s.

Many projects do not take in input of local persons as the projects merely implement templates designed from outside. In Zambia, Africa, and elsewhere, work against HIV and AIDS could have advanced further or earlier had there been more listening to others. The resources would have reached and done further. This is a bigger problem in mono-donor situations, where some donors dominate particular fields. They stifle creativity and growth.

Various talents, skills, and experiences willingly shared can contribute to the benefit of many. We are fortunate that with some six billion persons, male and female they are, we have chance, if we open ourselves to them, to live some six billion lives and deep experiences.

Slavery, slave trade, and apartheid have been evils because of pain and working against preferred choices of the enslaved as things are directed to service of the slave masters. Left to their own choices, enslaved persons could have contributed greatly, in many other ways, to the world. Slavery made the world lose out in growth and opportunities.

Currently, there are so called “experts” who are not competent, while some have skills but are not very appropriate, relevant, to the situations. Some do not do “enough of listening” and allowing other persons.

IMF and World Bank and their allies have shown arrogance, bullying, incompetence, and dictatorship. They pushed aside local views and imposed some inappropriate programmes. They kept imposing their activities through various sanctions and threats against governments and society.

The fruits of IMF programmes include increased poverty, crime, corruption, environmental impact, and inequalities around factors like ethnicity, cultures, gender, and regions. Their programmes have caused reduced capacity of societies. The programmes worked against growth and opportunities of societies. The activities have acted against peace and the integrity of life.

They have not organised resource and other reparations to redress the damage they have done to societies and humanity. Perhaps some recent debt write-off may be considered silent reparations. But the organisations still control economic programmes which are still inappropriate for societies

But, even though many have sought it and others been assigned, in this unitary and interdependent world, there can be no superpower. Superpower is a temporary human created myth without basis in truth.

Now or in other generations, the action of one in one place affects all others everywhere. To grow, we should be moving towards relationships of mutual respect, growth, and realisation that the work of all of us on earth seeks to eventually pull together towards a common good.

The world will flourish through partnership and creativity, not through patronage. It is important to allow others. Every one will nourish and grow. Many should listen to, and practice, some of Mama Hillary Clinton’s words!

END

– GCB June 2011, LUSAKA.

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