Saturday, November 08, 2008

Primary elections: what Britain needs

While Obama got elected thanks to the bottom-up system of the US' primaries, Britain has to choose between unelected Gordon Brown and super toff David Cameron.

These days commentators from across the political spectrum are engaged in debating whether Britain will ever be able to elect a non-white President. The discussion had barely started when it got bogged down in a spectacularly sterile morass.

Look at the stick Jeremy Paxman is getting over his BBC interview with rapper Dizzie Rascal about Barack Obama's victory ("BBC under fire over hip-hop slant on Obama win"). First Paxo was criticised for being 'crass' and 'patronising' (what's new, I hear you saying). Then sections of what is referred to as the "black community", whatever that means, slated the fact itself that Dizzie Rascal had been picked for an interview. "There were many intelligent black people to choose from", they said, "Dizzie Rascal perpetrates negative stereotypes about who we are", with reference to the singer's use of words like "innit" and "wassappenin" during the Newsnight special.

But that's how many people speak. How does it make it intrinsically unworthy of twenty seconds on the BBC? Would a black person educated at Eaton (start searching now) make it more representative? Would it be enough to spare you this sterile navel-searching? Doesn’t it say something about Britain's very own hang-up, which is the one about class and the other, about arguing the toss?

Barack Obama won precisely because he didn’t focus his campaign on race. As he centred around the obscene eight years of the Bush administration and his neo Con mates, his message was beyond black and white and it's startling that a bigger deal over the colour of his skin is being made this side of the Atlantic than it currently is in the US.

In the meantime, no-one's looking at the most relevant issues. The fact that the Americans' choice of President is a bottom-up process, for example. Nerve-racking it may be, but their system of primary elections allowed someone like Barack Obama, with only four years in the Senate, to get the upper hand over a sacred cow like Hillary Clinton (pun unintended) or other more experienced colleagues. Compare it with the UK, where current Prime Minister Gordon Brown was never elected and is a direct product of the machinations that took place right at the very top of the Labour party. Or Leader of the Opposition David Cameron, so posh that he can't decide which side his hair should be parted.

So if you still believe Dizzie Rascal on Newsnight was even relevant, your scale of priorities needs some urgent rethinking.

1 comment:

thepatriot said...

Brown becoming PM the way he did was the lowest point for our British democracy.