*Not quite a translation of this post but the essentials are there in addition to developments in the UK*
The German government: a case of insanity
In my blog post on 13th April, I bemoaned our governments’ lack of spine. More specifically, I asked the question what was the point of the German government, if it wasn’t prepared to protect the most fundamental rights of its citizens. I argued that not to call Edward Snowden as a witness in an inquiry into NSA surveillance in Germany was irresponsible.
On 21st April I wondered whether the question of Edward Snowden’s testimony was actually indicative of a lack of German sovereignty.
I have been concerned about the state of government and politics in the UK for even longer than about that in Germany.
This week, I took a look at developments in both countries and nearly despaired.
It seems that the German government is now descending into complete imbecility. It has certainly sacrificed whatever was left of its credibility.
First reported by Der Spiegel (link in German), it is by now all over the internet that the German government has commissioned two legal opinions from US law firm RUBIN, WINSTON,DIERCKS,HARRIS &COOKE,L.L.P and the UK based Matrix Chambers, asking advice “on several issues relating to the potential interaction by members of the German Bundestag and/or diplomatic personnel of the Federal Republic of Germany with Edward Snowden”.
The US document is, of course, particularly interesting. Not only because Edward Snowden is an American citizen. Also because it concludes that the MPs on the German inquiry committee become liable to be prosecuted by the US Department of Justice, if they invite Edward Snowden to testify. Offenses that the document maintains constitute liability include “theft of government property” and “conspiracy”, if they invite Edward Snowden to testify. This is not a joke (even though it should be and even then, it would be in bad taste).
Granted, the US document also states that
given the substantial embarrassment of the United States with regard to the already public revelations regarding NSA’s actions directed at Chancellor Merkel, the United States would undoubtedly act with extreme caution in any contemplated action against members of the government of the Federal Republic of Germany.
Hence, the potential legal consequences for German MPs as states in the document are entirely theoretical and probably not much cause for concern.
But the ridiculousness of the government’s blatant and unsuccessful attempt to silence the NSA inquiry committee’s opposition members defies belief. It is also deeply insulting to parliament, the German people, democracy, Edward Snowden, you name it.
So excuse me, but who are these morons?
The UK ahead of the European Election: a study in desperation
And while on the subject of morons: UK – what in the name of all that’s good and mighty is going on there?
In a more than worrying development, the UK Independence Party – or Ukip for short – seems set to come out top in the European Elections.
A recent “YouGov survey put Ukip support at 31%, ahead of Labour on 28%, the Conservatives on 19% and the Lib Dems on 9%.”
Now, I am wondering who are these people they polled? Probably the same people who gave Ukip Leader Nigel Farage a 57% in the first and 69% lead in the second of two TV debates with deputy PM Nick Clegg.
The results are shocking not only because Farage, if people looked more or less sensibly at his scare-mongering, populist rhetoric, should not be able to win a TV debate against, say, a lettuce.
More so because the blatantly racist (the party member in question has since resigned) and outrageously sexist (the party has since distanced itself from this sponsor) views spouted by Ukip’s supporters should really set the alarm bells ringing. The results are also worrying because of the anti-European sentiment in the UK that Ukip’s poll-lead is reflective of, not to mention what seems to be “a collapse of trust in the political establishment”.
For the latter, to be honest, I cannot even blame people. However, it is shockingly indicative of how deep that collapse of trust reaches that respective majorities of 57%, 69% and 31% per cent of people polled in the different surveys seem to have been rendered incapable of sensible judgement.
Euro-scepticism or no Euro-scepticism, given the disastrous views of many Ukip members and supporters, for people to believe that the party is a votable alternative to the political establishment shows just how deep the emotional rift between the government, the opposition and voters really is. And yes, this is very much about emotionality – it is about desperation, fear and resentment – mostly, it would seem, of the swathes of evil immigrants that Ukip predicts are going to the UK.
Desperation is clearly not limited to the electorate either. The best thing David Cameron can come up with to combat his party’s drop in popularity is to invoke divine assistance in an obvious and pathetic move to woo voters from “rural party heartlands who may see recent Conservative reforms as designed to appeal to liberal concerns”. That he is at the same time marginalising pretty much everyone in the UK who isn’t of the rural Christian “marriage-is-an-institution-between-two-straight-people-and-anyway-we-want-no-more-immigrants”-persuasion does nothing to check his indulgence in his new-found Christian commitment.
Meanwhile in spy-land, things aren’t looking great either. The Intercept reported this week that Britain’s GCHQ, despite continuously denying such practices, is only too happy to accept and even lobby for more help from the NSA to spy on the British public: “GCHQ secretly coveted the NSA’s vast troves of private communications and sought “unsupervised access” to its data as recently as last year.”
This calls into serious question the repeated assertion that all of GCHQ’s activities are strictly within the law. And if they are, it calls into serious question the adequateness of the law itself.
Does this in any way seem to interest the majority of British voters? No, I don’t think so. People are too busy fortifying against a flood of immigrants being Eurosceptic to concern themselves with a very real invasion into their privacy that isn’t as immediately obvious to the naked eye as the ““entire population of Transylvania” … pitching their tents in Marble Arch“.
Back in Germany, the recent surge in governmental cretinism – of which the above-mentioned legal opinion is but one of many manifestations – is clearly owing to preparations for chancellor Merkel’s visit to the US. Blocking the opposition’s request to invite Edward Snowden to Germany as a witness in their NSA inquiry is deemed absolutely necessary to keep things smooth with our friends across the pond. So necessary in fact that the German government calls on legal help from the US to bully the NSA inquiry committee. What am I missing here?
How much worse does it have to get?
The UK electorate’s apparent “collapse of faith” in their government is just as concerning as the fact that in Germany the electorate has less and less basis for faith in a government it has only just re-elected – you could argue that Germans brought it upon themselves.
Just like the Brits will bring upon themselves whatever happens after a Ukip election victory.
Granted, given how our elected leaders react in a crisis – whether it’s Jesus-evoking Cameron or legal opinion-waving Merkel – the question does present itself, shortly ahead of the European Election, who we are to place our faith in.
Yet all our frustration aside, we may want to take a step back and ask ourselves, how the attitudes of our government towards us affect us as voters and vice versa.
Recent pre-election polls in the UK in particular suggest that the government’s disrespectful attitude towards much of the electorate is starting to radicalise people. That it is taking away their ability to think, or even listen, straight.
Looking at the German government’s insanely desperate move to silence dissenters on the NSA inquiry committee this week, it seems that radicalisation in the face of desperation is not limited to the electorate either.
But what if our governments stop defending our rights as soon as they have won another term or if our desperation over their policies makes us turn to unacceptable alternatives?
Then perhaps we must ask ourselves just when it was that we collectively lost sight of the principle of democratic accountability, kissed reason goodbye, and how much more catastrophic things need to get before realise that we must find it again.