Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Michael Howard Bloomberg Columnists: "Howard's family was part of the wave of Eastern European Jews who moved to Britain in the 1930s. The fact he could rise so far is a mark of how socially mobile postwar Britain had become."

One of the advantages of having two passports is that I can vote in both the U.S. and the U.K. elections (and EU, so I guess that counts at three). We're in the middle of a campaign now, with election day on May 5, so I'm pondering my choices.

I have been mostly a one-issue voter. I spend close to three hours a day on London's public transportation system. It's dismal in comparison with elsewhere in Europe, although it's probably on par or better than most cities in the U.S. Labour has shown little real interest in fixing the Tube in London, which needs billions in infrastructure work just to catch up, but neither have the also-ran and no-hoper opposition parties -- the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats. That leaves me having to consider other issues instead.

Being an outsider, my other concerns sometimes differ from the locals. What I find most interesting about the quote above is that Michael Howard has tried to lift his party's place in the polls by appealing to xenophobia about the refugees, or "asylum seekers" as they referred to here. The most common way to keep from sounding racists is to stick the word "illegal" or "bogus" in front of asylum seekers and say they're only out to stop people who are faking it. (OK, though giving up your home, family and most of your possessions and then hanging on the bottom of a Eurostar for three hours to come here marks those fraudsters as pretty desperate, I would think.)

I can understand xenophobia, but from the son of an immigrant who fled oppression in his home country? Come on. That alone eliminates any possibility that the Conservatives will get my vote next week.