I seem to have reached the age where hurtling back to London for the extraordinary session last Saturday has taken a toll on me. I start this week feeling sluggish, and not relishing another week of high Brexit drama.
I honestly believe that everything that can be said about Brexit has already been said. On Saturday most people were just repeating what they or others have previously said. It is very frustrating to sit through Groundhog Day again and again.
But I encourage myself to look at the bigger picture.
As I look around the world, I see that even though our Parliament currently sucks, I remain grateful for our democracy. Look at China – incredible economic success in the last thirty years but all decisions are made by the tiny minority of Communist Party members, the ruling elite. The people seem happy to subordinate personal freedoms to the collective good, although with a mushrooming middle class and burgeoning number of students studying all over the world, it will be interesting to see how long this might last. It will be the narrative that might shape the lives of our grandchildren.
Look at Pakistan and many Middle Eastern and Central European countries – riddled with corruption and blighted by self-serving personality politics, many run by dictators and dynasties. Or like Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and others reduced to rubble and lawlessness.
Look at many African countries where corruption stifles any attempt to improve governance on behalf of the world’s poorest. What about Russia – effectively a one-man rule gangster state.
In none of these countries are people free. Not free to say what they want, meet with whom they want, travel to where they want, or remove their government.
Aha, you argue – what about Trump? Hardly the epitome of Western democratic values. True – he is an appalling man, but the American people have a chance next November to remove him from office if they wish. If they choose not to, that is their democratic decision.
It is our democracy that safeguards our vital freedoms. Yes, right now it is messy, stuck, unimpressive, frustrating and many more things besides. But the foundation stones remain secure. We will have elections (soon I hope) at which the lack of a majority can be addressed. We have an independent judiciary and free press.
In short, we have much to be grateful for in the UK even though the pain of current events is very real.