Well a week is a long time in politics as the last elected Labour PM before the current one once opined sagely and as Chris Paul points out it’s all gone a bit pear in Bangers since my last post.
I went on Sky News this evening to comment on developments in Bangladesh. The country is after all a relatively young democracy (d.o.b 1971) but has had a tumultuous existence to date. The last 48 hours deserves a chapter to itself in the history books.
Basically a geezer called President Ahmed has been replaced by another chap called President Ahmed. The elections due to be held on 22nd Jan under both EU and UN scrutiny have been postponed as the centre-left Awami League opposition were refusing to play ball. There had been a threat to boycott proceedings by the AL and their now18 party coalition (makes the Lib-Lab pact look like a tea party I know). The other lot – the rightist BNP – were last in power in October before handing over to a caretaker government who were meant to oversee free and fair elections in 90 days. At least that’s before the current argy bargy started which has claimed some 45 lives on some estimates and 70 according to others. Incidentally did you know argy bargy is an English expression of Bengali origin? Who said these Bengalis never gave us anything.
Anyway, a declared state of emergency and three day curfew in the capital Dhaka later and we may have got through the worst. Democratic reforms should ensue and the good ol’ principles of secularism and socialism that the nation was founded on will hopefuly prevail. That’s if Bangladesh doesn’t do a Pakistan and go down an Islamist cul-de-sac. Another doom and gloom prognosis could be the return of tanks on the streets and military rule. The Desh was ruled by a military dictator from 1982-1990 – the odious General Ershad who was deemed ineligible for standing this time round while I was over. He did not score highly in the popularity stakes and tanks on the streets are not popular amongst the 150 million population.
One advantage, by the way, of being (like me) a child of the 70s is that Bangladesh has some darn funky monuments. Check out this – memorial of 1971 war of independence where loadsa people died (200,000 claimed by Pakistanis but 3 million according to Bengalis).
Finally another odious blast from the past was being whisked into Sky’s palatial HQ just off the M4 as I was leaving – Robert Kilroy Silk, Chesham and Amersham resident and a lot of other things which are unprintable so I’ll leave it there.