The combative Boris Johnson, under much pressure from his party and fellow countrymen, decided to surrender his post while remaining as a caretaker until a new prime minister is chosen, which I read could take months.
I was sad to hear the news.
His flaws had persuaded electors to move on, yet to many, myself included, he had endeared himself by his full and unrelenting support for the Ukrainian cause.
Mr Zelensky immediately expressed his regret at losing such staunch supporter.
But there is the larger lesson here for the rest of the world and for Russia and China in particular.
In Britain, bastion of democracy, proud heir to the great tradition started by Athenians, when you cease to approve of a leader you can make it clear and the person steps down.
Not so in Russia or in China. Or in Myanmar and many other countries that merely pose as democracies.
Even here in the US, on January 6th this year, a president obsessed with retaining power, posed a threat to the peaceful transition of power.
Not so in Britain.
England shines in this moment as it affirms the primacy of the will of the people.
In a prison cell somewhere in Russia, Alexei Navalny, the most vocal critic of Putin’s regime, will probably remain incarcerated on false charges, as long as Putin is alive. He must be thinking of how long the road ahead for the country he so loves to one day mature politically and ascend to democracy. He may not live to see it.
Lies in Russia have long become the rule. And because of it, Putin does as he wishes.
Alexei Navalny criticizes his regime, then he goes to prison.
To be out of prison in Russia means you have renounced your right to your own opinions.
To walk the streets of any Russian city means you have willingly surrendered your right to publicly express how your country should be run. Instead, you have agreed to have Vladimir Putin decide for you.
Does the great Vladimir want to order the destruction of a neighboring country, with which there are long standing ties, because they are now daring to choose freedom? Then let him do it. The great Vladimir knows what’s best for me.
And the man or the woman choosing to entertain such thoughts will be allowed to continue on their walk.
But it will be the walk of a diminished person.
Lying and distortion of reality is Putin’s favorite tool. And he will keep working it. Until one day, something will spark in the hearts and minds of Russians who will ask themselves, why can’t we have at least moments like the English do? Why can’t we breathe politically?
Political lying is a mighty tool, and it takes many people willing to join in the farce to make it happen. Even from distant countries.
The other day, while reading the WSJ on the net, an ad emerged that kept flashing across the screen. It was a statement from a former vice premier of Thailand. In it, the regally dressed man told of how great a leader China’s Xi Jinping is. I don’t remember the details, but at the end it said something like, ‘And what is most impressive (about Xi) is the purity of his spirit.’
A day or two before, in the NYT or WSJ or both, the heads of the top intelligence services in England and America made the public statement that the rate of cyberattacks by China on the West, to steal technological information, was steadily increasing (and going on for years).
Did the vice premier in the advertisement know that?
Of course he did.
But in Russia and China the citizen doesn’t get a chance to object to a leader’s lies.
And so people keep walking along, their heads a little lower every day.
In England, you get thrown out of office. And the English, in spite of all their chaos and mistakes, can say to the world, ‘our voices must be heard, and flawed as they may sometimes be, they are priceless.’
Thank you, Britain.
Oscar Valdes, medium.com, anchor.fm, buzzsprout, apple and google podcasts