File this under F, for Fan-bloody-tastic! Two Britons have a better understanding of the meaning of democracy than does their own Prime Minister. First, London mayor Ken Livingstone:
Writing in the Morning Star, a small British socialist newspaper, Livingstone accused the Bush administration in Washington of trying to undermine democracy in Venezuela.
“In reality, Venezuela today is one of the most democratic countries in the entire world,” Livingstone said, recalling that eight national votes since 1998 have affirmed the legitimacy of Chavez’s administration.
“The great majority of the people of Venezuela continue to live in very harsh conditions, but it is hugely encouraging to see, at the start of the 21st century, a government committed to the democratic and social transformation of one of the most important countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.”
“They should be allowed to carry out the democratically expressed wishes of their people without further interference from George Bush’s administration,” added the mayor, a self-described socialist nicknamed “Red Ken”.
Livingstone added: “London will certainly be extending the hand of friendship to Caracas, Venezuela’s capital city, and we will make clear our support for their right to determine their own future.”
Then there’s MP Colin Burgon, who drew up the following early day motion on Valentine’s Day, which 78 MPs so far have signed:
That this House recognises the progress that is being made by the democratically-elected government of Venezuela in expanding the provision of education, healthcare, housing, land, food and micro-credit facilities for those previously marginalised and excluded from economic and political opportunities in the country; notes that these important policy initiatives are an important step in reducing the searing inequalities that characterise Venezuelan society; further notes that the social policies of the Venezuelan government enhance the country’s prospects of meeting its millennium development goals; and calls upon the UK Government to acknowledge the benefits of the Venezuelan social development model for other developing countries, to support the democratically-elected administration of President Hugo Chavez in the face of unconstitutional and illegal threats from both internal and external opponents and to work to strengthen the ties between the UK and Venezuela.
Burgon also has an excellent article out in the UK Guardian, explaining his actions (reprinted at Venezuelanalysis.com).
Why this flurry of pro-Venezuela sentiment? Well, for starters, British delegates recently returned from the very successful World Social Forum in Caracas. That’s bound to have given many a more favorable impression than BushCo would like them to have.
Plus, of course, there’s the Poodle’s own lame attempt to stick his oar in where it wasn’t wanted:
On Wednesday in the House of Commons, Mr Blair was asked by Colin Burgon, an MP from his Labour party, whether Britain should follow “a really right-wing US republican agenda” in relation to Venezuela.
“It is rather important that the government of Venezuela realise that if they want to be respected members of the international community they should abide by the rules of the international community,” Mr Blair replied.
“I also have to say with the greatest respect to the president of Venezuela that when he forms an alliance with Cuba I would prefer to see Cuba a proper functioning democracy.”
Mr Chavez, a close ally of Cuba’s Fidel Castro, retorted: “You, Mr Blair, do not have the morality to call on anyone to respect the rules of the international community.
“You are precisely the one who has flouted international law the most… siding with Mr Danger [George Bush] to trample the people in Iraq.”
As you can see, that went over like a load of bricks.
Good on Colin Burgon and Ken Livingstone for providing a democratic counterweight to an increasingly undemocratic Prime Minister!
PS: Check out Ken Livingstone’s article at Venezuelanalysis, too.