Posts Tagged ‘Venezuela’

Love your local Corbynista

15/08/2016, 09:49:58 PM

by George Kendall

We’ve all had experience of the worst kind of Corbynista. The ones who insist that moderate members of the Labour party are right-wing extremists.

Some of them denounce social democrats as Tories. Presumably, they think there’s no difference between the USA andDenmark either.

But most Corbynistas aren’t like that.

I think what drives them is idealism. A belief that politics should be about improving the world, not making cynical political calculations. The tragedy is that they don’t recognise the idealism that is central to social democracy.

There’s a lot that’s idealistic about a well-run northern European social democracy. If there’s anything idealistic about a corrupt basket case like oil-rich Venuzuela, it’s pretty jaded.

Why don’t they understand that social democracy is the kind of idealism that delivers?

I think it’s partly our fault.

We’ve become so obsessed with beating the Tories that we’ve lost touch with the language we need to inspire good people, who want to help make the world a better place. We’ve failed to make the case for a hard-headed idealism that works, rather than ideological solutions that don’t.

I’ve become very involved in the EU fightback. And I’ve had the pleasure of coming across a number of people, some who used to support Jeremy Corbyn, some who still do. These people share a lot with me over Europe. A passion for internationalism, a horror of racism. Most of all, they share my fear that the most damaging consequences of Brexit will be for some of those who voted to leave.

Anyone who has read my blog posts will know that I don’t agree with Corbyn, and in particular I don’t like the people he closely associates with. But that doesn’t mean I don’t like his supporters.

My hope is, they’ll change their minds and become social democrats. I suspect, eventually, many will.

But, even if they don’t, just because they support Corbyn, doesn’t stop them being great people.

George Kendall is convener of the Social Democrat Group – a Liberal Democrat organisation to develop the social democrat tradition of the Liberal Democrats, and to build links with social democrats in the Labour party

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

The Corbynite take on Venezuela tells you all you need to know about the leadership’s judgement

25/05/2016, 04:27:49 PM

by Rob Marchant

A country with a population half that of Britain is currently collapsing. Its president was defeated in the country’s parliamentary elections last December and, in the true style of demagogic leaders the world over, finally declared a state of emergency ten days ago in an attempt to cling onto power, backed by the country’s army.

It is all the more ironic to understand that the state enjoys a massive economic blessing: it contains the world’s largest oil reserves. But it has been so terribly managed since the turn of the century that there is scarcely any food in the shops, electricity in the wall sockets or medicine in the hospitals. A clearer example of Biblical famine in the land of plenty it would be difficult to find.

The country, of course, is Venezuela. A country which, under its recent leadership, has gone out of its way to pick fights with the West: US presidents, even the King of Spain. And wasted no time in cuddling up to the West’s enemies, notably Putin’s Russia.

But, as Nick Cohen has argued many times, in Britain the current regime has long been supported by “a herd of bovine leftists”. This has particular resonance for those of us who find ourselves in a Corbyn-led Labour Party which we seem to scarcely recognise any more.

In short: in spite of the absolute dog’s breakfast it has made of running a country bursting with natural wealth, the regime of Nicolás Maduro has still has a few close political allies in the West.

Who, we ask, might those be?

(more…)

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

Chile not Venezuela shows the way for the left in Latin America

20/11/2013, 05:21:12 PM

by David Butler

It is a rather remarkable sign of a country’s recovery that the daughter of a victim of the former military regime and the daughter of a member of the former military regime can face off against each other in a peace, fair and free election.

So it was in Chile on Sunday. As the votes were came in, the centre-left candidate for president, former president Michele Bachelet was brought to be brink of victory with 47% of the vote. She will face Evelyn Matthei, who got 25%, in the second round but this is little more than a formality at this stage. Her Nueva Mayoria (New Majority) coalition have won 65 seats in the lower house (with 95% of the vote counted) on the brink of the four-sevenths majority need to enact major policy reforms. This electoral victory and the progress that occurred under twenty years of centre-left rule by Concertacion are worth celebrating.

Chile’s GDP per capita was both higher and grew quicker than the Latin American average for the most of the period of between 1990 and 2010. Obviously not all responsibility belongs to the centre-left government, but they proved themselves good stewards of the economy and invested in areas neglected by the Pinochet dictatorship. Chile was not badly affected the wave of recessions sweeping the world in the late 2000s, thanks to measures taken by Ms Bachelet.

The unemployment rate under Concertacion varied between 6 and 9% for most of the period. Whilst the recession saw a spike up to 11%, the rate has dropped rapidly to its current level of 6%. Inflation has generally remained within the central bank’s target range of 2-4%, ensuring that people enjoy price stability. Yet, there are challenges that remain: the weakness of physical infrastructure and the need for economic diversification away from the copper exports as a fuel of growth are headaches that need to be soothed in the medium-term.

As noted above, the Chilean economy is relatively dependent upon copper, which make up three-quarter of their exports. A sharp fall in the price in 2008 caused this sector to shrink in values. However, the centre-left government had invested in assets using revenues from the cooper boom in the early 2000s and were able to moderate the impact of the downturn. A truly counter-cycle fiscal policy almost unique amongst commodity exporting countries, according professor Jeffrey Frankel of Harvard university. This is has ensure that Chile’s public debt remains at a manageable 9.5% of GDP. Bachelet herself introduced a fiscal responsibility bill in 2006 to further enshrine principles on which this prudence was based. Despite this fiscal conservatism, the governments of Concertacion were able to raise spending on social security and education.

(more…)

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

The Chávez tragedy turns to farce

05/03/2013, 12:20:19 PM

by Rob Marchant

While the elusive state of health of Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez seems to have been delicate since at least 2011, it is finally starting to be recognised that he really is not very likely to return as leader, any more than Fidel Castro is ever likely to retake the reins in Cuba. But there is a great deal more to this tortuous tale.

The trouble is, accurate information is so difficult to come by, local media being highly polarised either for or against the man, that no-one can really quite work out the truth; even as to such a simple fact as whether or not the president is still alive.

The evidence that he might not be is circumstantial, yet substantial: he has not been seen in public since his cancer surgery on 11 December, and failed to turn up for his inauguration one month later, leading to severe constitutional speculation as to whether he could legally continue as president in such circumstances.

Things came to a head last week, when a former Panamanian ambassador, Guillermo Cochéz, gave a surprisingly detailed report. It claimed that Chávez had been in a vegetative state since 30 December and had finally had his life-support switched off two weeks ago, at the request of his family. While Cochéz certainly has an axe to grind against Chávez, as a public figure he has also staked his reputation on the claim, one that one simple public appearance by the Venezuelan president would obviously destroy. And, there has been no hard evidence from the administration to the contrary.

Something very odd is going on. The report also tallies with one from 2 January by Spanish newspaper ABC, quoting Cuban sources, that he was in a coma, on life support and a switch-off could happen “at any moment”. Demonstrators outside the presidential palace are now chaining themselves together, rightly demanding to know who is running their country, and under what authority.

(more…)

Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon