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Yes, They Did! (Could We?)

05/11/2008

A truly remarkable day in the USA. A truly remarkable day for politics in the developed world full stop, surely. I found myself quite moved first thing this morning hearing President elect Obama’s victory speech. And I was moved again this evening watching the scenes of celebration.

President elect Obama. Wow. Let’s say that again: “President elect Obama”. Even last year, who’d have thought we’d be witnessing the election of the first African American President of the United States? (Who’d even have dared to be certain Bush’s successor would be a Democrat?) The adjective historic is overused but it most certainly fits here.

How long, I wonder, until the UK has its first black or Asian Prime Minister? We don’t use phrases such as “British Asian” or “British Afro-Caribbean”, do we really? Would the political classes contemplate a non-white leader for one of our major political parties at the moment? Would the electorate be willing to vote into power a party led by a non-white man or woman? That’s not even going anywhere near the vexed questions of turnout and participation. There’s no immediate prospect of finding out but, as the American election proved, politics can be full of surprises.

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