Star comment: Gorbachev a force for good unlike Putin

The world would be a better and safer place if Russia were led by a man of his calibre.

Gorbachev and Putin
Gorbachev and Putin

The death of Mikhail Gorbachev reminds the world of a leader whose actions brought the world closer to peace.

He was one of the titans of the second half of the last century who, like Nelson Mandela in South Africa, engineered changes that many had believed were impossible.

His legacy is good. He was a force for good in the world. He brought us together and helped to lift tens of millions out of poverty in the former USSR.

Against that backdrop, it is worth comparing the evils inflicted on Ukraine by the present Russian President, Vladimir Putin.

The man who is waging a war of aggression on his immediate neighbour and fighting an economic war with the rest of Europe, including the UK, will not be remembered so fondly. When he leaves, as he one day will, his legacy will be death and destruction, violence and war.

Gorbachev was a great reformer, though he was still a communist who did not anticipate the far-reaching impact of his actions. Indeed, the unintended consequences of some of the changes he made may well have been anathema to him.

Yet he steered the former USSR onto a better path, where it was able to enjoy better relations with liberal democracies in the West, a state of affairs that Mr Putin is doing his best to ruin.

We can remember Gorbachev with both fondness and admiration. Of course, there was much still wrong with his reconstituted Russia, but he made a positive change during his years in office. The world would be a better and safer place if Russia were led by a man of his calibre and standing, rather than by the war-mongering Mr Putin.

It seems to be a case of another day, another strike at the moment. After what seems like years without widespread disruption, 2022 has seen industrial action return to the fore as the cost of living crisis mounts.

There have been times when the public mood has been against those who strike. Now, however, there seems to be more sympathy.

People across society recognise the financial pressure mounting as bills continue to spiral. As ever, there are no easy answers. Businesses too are facing spiralling bills and that means funding wage rises is a challenge.

There appears to be little prospect of the situation calming down either, with more action across the public and private sector likely in the coming weeks and months.

It is yet another challenge that our new Prime Minister will have to wrestle with.

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