Friday, May 18, 2007

When should a leader lead?

On Iraq, Tony Blair has always claimed he felt it was the right thing to do. This is nice, of course, it's good to feel justified for ones actions after all. But is that necessarily an argument to do something? Any leader of a country must lead, of course. They cannot be utterly beholden to popular opinion, or we get the worst kind of democracy, because the majority are often wrong.

The immediate response to this line of attack, of course, is the point that if we DON'T go by judgments of popularity then we have a problem assigning rightness. Surely it is not enough to claim that said politician thinks it's the right thing to do.... To my mind, the purpose of a leader in a democratic government, should be, in the face of widespread popular opinion (as was the case before the Iraq war), should make the case for war, and attempt to change people's opinions. Which Blair did. But, and this is important, if there is a failure to change the public opinion, the government should think about backing down. Which they most certainly did not. A leader must lead, but to do it effectively they need to try and operate from a position of concensus.

Obviously Parliament is there to represent popular opinion, but sadly they usually fail to reflect this, most willing to vote with the government because they do not want to lose power, even if they disagree with the vote at hand. Admittedly this is normally a principle that is quite important to make representative democracy work, but when there is such a groundswell of opinion, perhaps it's time to make a stand, even with that three line whip hanging over your head.

Never mind, the time to stop our involvment (and possibly even America's... would they have gone to war without us? Probably), has gone, and Iraq is a disaster. I am somewhat of the opinion that it is too late to save that country now. Great... cause the middle east didn't have enough problems beforehand.


At 4:52 pm, Blogger Il grande chef said...

Very interesting blog!


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