Maintaining perspective

I know I complain a lot about the political situation in this country, but it is important to keep some sense of proportion. We may be stumbling towards an economic setback that will cripple the nation for a generation, but I guess that the citizens of Venezuela, Zimbabwe or Yemen, to give just three examples, would trade their problems for ours in the blink of an eye.

The developments in Venezuela are particularly depressing. It doesn’t seem so long ago that the Bolivarian revolution was an inspiration, but now the years of US-inspired economic sabotage, combined with the squandering of Hugo Chavez’s progressive legacy by his less-than-stellar successors, have led the country to the brink of civil war. There may still be room for a political solution, but with reactionary elements of the opposition emboldened to the point of recklessness by a US administration ideologically attuned to the rightward shift in Latin American politics (and keen to deflect attention from domestic problems) there is a real risk of the sort of tragedy which dwarfs anything we may be facing here.

All that said, many crises start out in a deceptively innocuous way, and we shouldn’t be too complacent about the relatively peaceful nature of British politics. However Brexit ends up playing out, the country is more polarised, and the far-right more confident, than has been the case for many years. Victories for progress won now – like protecting free movement – may head off bigger battles in the future, so we have to make the forces of reaction fight for every step.

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