Monday, April 30, 2012

The Unpolitics of Car Racing

I’m glad the Bahrain Formula 1 Grand Prix went ahead as planned, simply because I like Formula 1 and I would have missed the race.

The protests were against the government. The unrest was nothing to do with the race. But the protesters, who have far more serious things to worry about than a car race, have used it to give themselves an international audience, because the press don’t care about Bahrain, but Formula 1 sells. The Sunni opposition in Bahrain is not stupid.

A lot of people said that the race should not go ahead. A lot of other people said that it should. These latter include the people whose opinion is actually relevant and who have some idea of what they are talking about, and so the race will go ahead. And the opposition, who may well be the good guys here, will be heard.

The leader of the Labour party has said something that he thought he was expected to say to get the headlines which would benefit his party. His opinion, based, I imagine, on monumental ignorance, is of no interest to anyone who has to make commercial decisions and safety decisions about the race. Milliband does not know and does not care what is happening to the people of Bahrain, he only wants to gain some political mileage. It is extraordinary that there are people who do not appreciate this, but if too many people understood the trick, the magic would be gone and it wouldn’t work. ‘We’ would have to invent new ways to fool ourselves, and they might be even worse.

But the race was run, the FIA are happy, and the opposition was heard, in that confused and partisan way in which the international media transmits these things. Now more people know that Bahrain is run by an oppressive minority which denies representation to the majority, and that that majority is desperate to change things. This is probably a good thing.

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