Friday, May 04, 2007

What to do with retired statesmen?

Katse tulevaisuuteen
Originally uploaded by SannaL.
Last week I had a discussion with a British woman (voting Tories) on the legacy of both Blair and Thatcher. We actually managed to agree that both of them have done quite impressive work during their terms but Lady Thatcher has made very peculiar comments after retiring (or being ousted). As an open fan of Blair I sincerely hope he can retire with dignity in the same way as for instance Clinton.

The Thatcher phenomenon is not unfamiliar in Finland. The former Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen (Social Democrats) chilled for some years as the Speaker of the Parliament but is now completely retired. But what he still is determined to do is give advice on the pages of a regional newspaper. I just find this both awkward and difficult to cope with.

Lipponen writes in Turun Sanomat that the National Coalition (winner of the elections) gave too much in for the Greens and the Centre Party in the cabinet programme negotiations and he calls for them to sharpen up. This happens at the same time when polls show that National Coalition is the most popular party amongst the people and the Social Democrats are still struggling to get their figures on the rise.

Lipponen writes also that the government is calling for help and warns the National Coalition of the energy bogus of the Centre and the Greens (Lipponen himself being a firm supporter of nuclear energy and openly detesting the Greens). His columns remain to be very fatherly and condescending.

What is too common among retired politicians is this sense of bitterness. When you have been on the driver's seat for years of course it is of course difficult to let go. But the sad thing is that this fatherly approach seldom increases one's popularity. Lipponen who I actually find to be a wise man is in my judgement on a mission to destroy his rather fantastic legacy. Same goes for dinner parties and politics: no one really wants to sit next to the grumpy old man going on and on about how things used to be so much better.

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