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Friday, April 28, 2006

Why Not a Foreign PM?

If we are allowed to chose the best possible person for the job for England football manager- regardless of nationality- why not for our political managers? Who would you vote for? Here are a few suggestions from my piece for The Guardian's Comment is Free.

It's not often that I'm in agreement with Stephen Pollard, but it's hard to disagree with his verdict that the Brazilian World Cup winner "Big Phil" Scolari is the best man for the England football manager's job.
Pollard, like many others, is clearly at ease with foreign nationals being appointed to top positions in Britain. But why stop at football managers? If it really is all about getting "the best man/woman" for the job - regardless of nationality - why don't we look outside of the country for our political "managers" too?Having led us into a disastrous war in Iraq and presided over a crisis in the NHS and ever rising violent crime, we can surely do better than Mr Blair. And with the domestic alternatives to our present PM looking as unappealing as the domestic alternatives to Big Phil, does it not make good sense to look elsewhere?
Britain's independence is already largely an illusion, so would it make any difference if we had a foreign national at No 10? If we were to have a foreign prime minister, who would you chose?
Perhaps Jacques Chirac, on the basis that he opposed the Iraq war and would surely do something to improve our national cuisine. Or Hugo Chavez, who would undoubtedly do rather more for the redistribution of wealth in Britain than Mr Blair has. Rudolph Giuliani's zero tolerance programme, which worked wonders for New York, is arguably much needed in Britain's crime- infested metropolises; instead of copying his policies- why not appoint the man himself? And now that Silvio Berlusconi has been sacked as the Italian gaffer, why not a straight swap with Mr Blair - in which Blair would get the villa and Silvio would get No 10? No, I don't think so either.
Ariel Sharon might have his supporters, on the basis that a politician in a coma is just what the country wants - it's hard to do too much harm if you're unconscious.
Neo-liberals and flat tax fanatics might cast their vote for Mart Laar, the former premier of Estonia and recent repicient of the Milton Friedman prize - or - if voting for politicians from other planets were also to be allowed - the incomparable John "Spock" Redwood himself.
Nelson Mandela would no doubt have come into the reckoning if he were a few years younger, ditto Jimmy Carter, fellow Comment is free commentator and the least worst president of the United States since the second world war. Alexsander Lukashenko of Belarus, who has seen his oligarch-free country climb inexorably up the UN Human Development Index and Flight Lieutenant Jerry Rawlings, who did so much to eradicate corruption and bad governance in Ghana, are two others for consideration.It's a tough call, but my vote would go for Germany's former economics minister Oskar Lafontaine, the authentic voice of European "old left" socialism, a man who would bring back a mixed economy, pull our troops out of Iraq and make big business pay its fair share. It is has been said that out of all the grounds on which to base friendship, nationality is the weakest. We already seem to accept this as far as our football managers are concerned. Could it not be true of our political leaders too?

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