But enough about the UK.
This is about New Libya.
It is surely only a matter of hours before the rebels can claim they have won. They have liberated the country from....well, from what exactly?
Speaking from my own experience (I have been travelling to Libya several times a year for more than ten years. In fact, I spent a huge chunk of 2010 there) the changes have been significant and they have been positive.
Apart from the cost of renting, forced up artificially by foreign oil companies, everything else was reasonably priced. A litre of unleaded was 6p, a can of Coke about 18p, a packet of smokes about 80p. Staples like bread and rice were extremely cheap. I do not recall the price of a loaf of bread changing since 2001. Hotels are priced stupidly, again, this was to take advantage of visiting oil company execs.
Gadaffi did share the oil revenues-to a degree-in that he said any Libyan could simply fill in a few forms and they would be given £250 (500 dinars) each per month. That payment was for each member of the family. Parents with six kids? No problem, here's your 4000 dinars. Friends in Tripoli told me it was a right pain to get the forms signed off, but when they were, free money! Nobody starves in Libya. The poor can get lots of help if they ask for it, and there was a good welfare program in place. They are a highly educated people. Mostly, they emigrate to pastures new when they get their degrees.
The country pretty much runs on paper. If you ever wanted anything from the government, if the right stamp wasn't on your paperwork, forget it. Much of Africa is like this. Bureaucracy is king. There was/is a stunning amount of corruption. At the top, and all the way down. Palms are expected to be greased. A simple traffic stop can be dealt with by handing a couple of folding notes to the cops. Mind you, I did not witness a single crime in over ten years. You could walk the streets whenever you liked. Libyans are friendly, and they are welcoming. I have eaten many a dinner in the home of a guy I had met only hours before in a cafe.
Their views on women are somewhat backward. A womans place is in the kitchen or in the bed. I have seen young Libyans chanting obscenities at a foreigner (usually Tunisian or Moroccan) who dared to show a calf, or Allah forbid, a knee. Female "repression" was not government policy. There are plenty of women in positions of responsibility in government. Gadaffi himself opened a womens police academy not far from
So the country was reasonably stable (until February 2011) and I am not sure where it will go from here. A swift sniff around the web tells us that the head of the NTC is a CIA plant. That the tribal wars will kick off. That the west will secede and the country will be divided as it always was, historically speaking.
Lots and lots of rumours. Unsubstantiated, as ever. Yet the talking heads have all the answers on Aunty Beeb. Cameron thinks that he played a decisive hand in the liberation of Libya, and I know he will milk it like a prize cow. Maybe we can expect a book? "Gadaffi: My Part In His Downfall", perhaps.
As always, we must wait. The country is in a mess and it will take some untangling. And patience. A very great deal of patience. But the Libyans must be left alone to decide their own fate. They have to live there, so they, and they alone, must be the architects of their own new society.
Good luck and godspeed.
Oh, and keep your hands off my DVD collection and my clothes in my villa in Ben Ashur, m'kay? I want them back.