Save us from our politicians is a constant prayer that is heard from a disgusted public, be it in Sri Lanka or the UK. More so in that country like no other that is known by other epithets, too. But they are better left unsaid in case one is accused of being unpatriotic by pseudo-nationalists [...]


This dirty game called politics


Not taking the bull by the horns: Britain's beleaguered Prime Minister Boris Johnson visits a farm in Scotland on Friday

Save us from our politicians is a constant prayer that is heard from a disgusted public, be it in Sri Lanka or the UK. More so in that country like no other that is known by other epithets, too. But they are better left unsaid in case one is accused of being unpatriotic by pseudo-nationalists hitting the high decibels with their constant refrain that includes some praise to Adolf Hitler and Nazi gauleiters, both foreign and local.

Thankfully here in the UK, Hitler is a dirty word like politician, though there are some white supremacists who consider themselves pure Aryans and preach anti-Semitism like some in the Labour Party accused of this outrage.

Patriotism is the in-word in Sri Lanka now especially as the presidential election gets closer and some with their much-used boots on the ground going around as though they won the anti-LTTE war single-handed.

Even those who donned a uniform but never left an administration desk is a war hero while those who almost died from wounds inflicted by suicide bombers are forgotten or discarded.

Only last week the UK commemorated the declaration of war against Nazi Germany without all the razzmatazz that accompanies political doings in paradise isle where politicians step on to the stage like a reincarnations of Field Marshal Montgomery. But then Montgomery was a showman and an overrated military man, like some of those who bestride the stage today.

Fortunately all that jazz has been absent from the British political stage. But new comers who have crashed into centre stage from the wings are trying to turn politics into theatre and have turned what was once a respected vocation into pure farce.

A few years ago, a public opinion poll held in the UK placed politicians almost at the bottom of the popularity list. In terms of public trust in politicians, they managed to secure a rating just above estate agents. That was not saying much, the real-estate dealers having been placed at the bottom of the ladder.

In Sri Lanka, the people have rapidly lost trust and faith in politicians. Since independence some 70 years ago, the disgust with which politicians are held has been on a rapidly descending curve.

This is largely because politicians are viewed as a corrupt and crooked lot dedicating their time and energies to self-aggrandisement, to fraudulent accumulation wealth, not just for themselves and their immediate families but for several future generations hoping to assure a good life in samsaras to come.

The recent happenings in British politics have earned the wrath of the people because of the antics of some of their frontline politicians. Thankfully, it is much cleaner than the dirt called politics that is unearthed in Sri Lanka with every change of government.

It certainly is nowhere near corrupt in that country like no other where bribery and corruption, the abuse and misuse of power are intermingled with thuggery and violence against political opponents, critics and those who do not share the views of the privileged and powerful who rule the roost however temporarily.

In the last couple of weeks, politics in the now growingly disunited kingdom where the country seems to be split right down the middle has increasingly turned into comedy and then to farce.

It was only three days ago, I heard Prime Minister Boris Johnson been publicly called a liar– not once but three times at least — on the television show “Question Time”. The term was used by shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry.

This is not the first time that Boris Johnson has been called that. When he led the “leave EU” campaign he travelled in a bus that carried the legend that the UK would received £350 million a week from the EU that would go into the NHS public health service.

That proved to be totally untrue. But, as far as I remember, Johnson has never apologised for misleading the public by such blatant untruths publicly stated during the referendum campaign in 2016 when the people were given the opportunity to vote to remain in the EU or leave.

If the occasions on which the Sri Lankan voters have been lied to at election time and even during the normal course of political exchange, it would make a mountain of garbage much higher than the one that collapsed at Meethotamulla a few years back.

Even though Boris Johnson might try to play around with bills passed by parliament last week saying he might ignore the law and move ahead with holding a general election before departing from the EU on October 31, the UK government cannot play around with security matters and intelligence issues as Sri Lanka has been doing.

The problem with President Sirisena is that he is not ready to accept responsibility for major governance errors passing the blame on to others. I read the other day that Sirisena addressing a Tamil audience in Jaffna blamed the Ranil Wickremesinghe-led UNP for not doing enough for the Tamil community by introducing a new constitution.

Was Sirisena just a bystander who was not head of cabinet, not head of state and was a powerless puppet? If he was so powerless as he claims how did he undertake a political coup last year which failed because he over-reached himself?

Admittedly the UNP was also at fault standing in the way of matters of governance thus causing friction and delays. But Sirisena cannot now blame the 19th Amendment for causing all the problems when in an interview he gave a foreign media outlet 22 months after he came to power he pointed to the same amendment as one of his major achievements.

At least, Sirisena can now lay the blame on those constitutional changes. Boris Johnson has not such an excuse. His avariciousness for political power and craving to be prime minister drove him to extremes such as threatening rebellious senior party members with sacking from the party and denying them the right to be a party candidate at the next election if they did not vote with him.

A leader who had only a one-vote majority in parliament should have been more circumspect. But driven into precipitous action by his senior adviser, Dominic Cummings, another power hungry man, Boris Johnson thought he was undefeatable. But those comings and goings proved fatal.

They proved to be so wrong. Even before a bill present by the opposition and Conservative Party rebels could be debated, the member who provided Johnson with his slenderest of majorities crossed the floor and joined the Liberal Democrats.

No prime minister in recent memory has been defeated in parliament thrice, lost so many of his party members and been humiliated in the last few days.

As Mark Anthony said of the assassinated Julius Caesar, ambition should be made of sterner stuff. It is a lesson that politicians, especially those in Sri Lanka, should take to heart.

The other day Boris Johnson said he would prefer “to die in a ditch” if he cannot leave the EU on his appointed date. Well if he has chosen the ditch the public has not been told, as far we know.

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