Category Archives: Brexit

Do any of them have an idea?

They’re still at it. The latest Brexit development is that the UK government wants to tell Europe how it will leave the European Union, not just when it wants to. It wants it all its own way. Nobody else’s, no other European country’s view, will do.

I don’t know how government works – if this one works at all – so I won’t comment on that. It’s enough to say that the UK populace, and much of the rest of the world, seems to be thoroughly confused at every turn by whatever the government does next. Or says next.

Although it’s probably too late to say it, it would have been better if the whole ‘leaving the EU’ thing had been left to our civil servants. At least, they don’t have axes to grind, or egos to feed.

Not like our politicians. Only the other day, one of their number was denying that such a thing as islamophobia even existed. And he said that after Boris Johnson – the sometime Foreign Secretary no less – had written in the Daily Telegraph that women who wear the burqa look like “letter-boxes”.

How can even he think that, when his own head looks like a haystack stuck on top of someone wearing an ill-fitting suit? Surely, his brain can afford to do better than that? Especially it ought to do better for a man who has ambitions of becoming the next leader of the Conservative party.

But then again, maybe Johnson hasn’t got a brain. Maybe his head’s just full of classical references.

In which case, he’ll never have an idea about how to solve the UK’s housing crisis, or how to help the many poorly paid young people get a home of their own. He and his party seem to think that they all want to live in the greenbelts surrounding our cities. Has it ever occurred to him to think that some of the disused warehouses in our towns and cities could be converted into blocks of affordable flats? And that the young would quite like to live in them?

But that’s an idea.

It has to be said that I – and many others no doubt – despair of what the future holds for us. The rich will probably be OK. But the rest of us mortals, who don’t have vast funds and an old boy network to fall back on, will probably be as bewildered as we are now.

All we can hope is that the next group who have ambitions to run the country, whoever they may be, will also have an idea or two.

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What if …

Big BenWhat if the British Government was competent enough to, and capable of, managing the economy and bringing an end to austerity?

What if the same government was capable to negotiating a smooth transition from European Union membership to political and economic independence from the EU?

What if the same government could manage the NHS and its care services without thinking that ‘NHS’ was just a set of letters and instead realising that it means ‘National Health Service’?

What if the same government could solve what is often called the ‘housing crisis’ and give young people a degree of independence  and a chance living away from their parents and grandparents?

What if the same government could do something about Britain’s infrastructure and fix the potholes in all the roads?

What if the same government knew about life outside the ‘Westminster village’?

What if the same British government could find a way of operating without fighting itself?

Fat chance.

 

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They’re at it again

It never seems to stop.

The Conservatives are still blethering on as if they’ve all read the same hymn sheet.

Mrs May seems to be singing the Anglican tune.

Boris Johnson is warbling from a High Anglican, almost Catholic, book.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, seems to constantly refer to the Methodist Hymnal.

David Davis, meanwhile, sings from whichever hymnal suits him.

I wish they would decide on a single tune, or at least the same book of hymns, so that the rest of us could make out what they do believe.

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Why doesn’t he shut up

It’s only days ago that Tony Blair was interviewed in The Guardian by Decca Aitkenhead, when that paper devoted a whole page to the pair of them.

What a waste of space!

He had nothing to say, other than that we should all follow our consciences. He contends that we have been bamboozled into Brexit by a government – or by the Tories if you follow his line of thought – who have no time for anything else. Not the housing crisis. Nor the poverty gap. Or the north south divide. Nor dealing with the Grenfell Tower disaster.

How obvious is all that!

The Tories have devoted no time at all to anything other than badly handling our leaving the EU, and most of the press has colluded with them in talking about it. As a result, we all think that that is all that matters.

What piffle! It’s enough that no one says that, once we leave the EU, almost everyone will be saying: “We never had it so good.” The rightwing newspapers will be crying into their cups, because when we have to deal as an independent nation with France, or Germany or the Poles, Spaniards, Portuguese or Italians, we shall get no more special treatment than if we were Ugandans or Indians. Indeed, we may get less, because we have no natural resources to trade with.

Tony Blair may have been Prime Minister, but that doesn’t give him the right to believe it’s he and he alone that occupies the moral high ground.

Why doesn’t he slink away and shut up, like any good ex-Prime Minister should?

But then, Ms Aitkenhead wouldn’t have anyone to interview.

 

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What are they up to now?

It seems not a day goes by when the British government manages to put its foot in it.

Only the other day they demonstrated how inept they are by disagreeing amongst themselves on how much it will costs Britain to leave the EU.

On top of that, they seem to think they can do what they like and no one else will pay any attention. Don’t they realise that the EU has 27 other members, all of whom have to agree with each other before anything is passed into law?

‘Arrogance’, some call it. To me, it smacks of sheer incompetence born of the idea that no one knows best expect aunty. And she doesn’t even know what day it is!

The sooner we are over all this, the better it will be. Then we shall be able to live with whatever character Britain has when it is past this muddle and confusion.

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John Harris is right

You probably realise by now that I’m a Guardian reader. And you may have guessed that I like various of their columnists.

On Friday, September 8, one of them, John Harris, wrote a piece that’s almost beyond fault. It echoes some of what I said in my last blog; about we British are no longer willing to do the menial jobs done for us by so-called ‘immigrant labour’. How sad! Yet, how true.

And how prescient of Harris to conclude that, as he put it, “frozen into the brickwork of those newly built houses in Peterborough is a whole host of stuff – hard work, persistence, ambition, stoicism – that has played a huge role in keeping an increasingly fragile country in business”.

Would that anyone in charge today recognises this!

 

 

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Do the politicians know anything?

The more I see and hear of it, the more I’m inclined to agree with my friend in Kingston-upon-Thames, Surrey.

He believes Brexit (or Britain leaving the EU, to give the process its real term, not it’s media-driven nickname) is far too complex to be left to mere politicians.

All they seem to do is shout at each other from positions of emotional weakness, and listen to what they want to hear.

Tattered Jack

Take the leavers, for example. Last year, before we were asked to vote “In” or “Out”, they told us that £350 million pounds a day was being spent on the EU which they would spend on the NHS. Where’s that money today? And where’s the talk of how it will be spent when we do leave? As leave we surely will.

I was recently in hospital and all I heard from the staff were comments about the lack of funds (£350 million a day, anyone?). I heard, too, how the NHS would not work if it were not for the cleaners, caterers, health care assistants, nurses and doctors – almost all the staff you would ever meet – who were born outside the British Isles but who chose to work in this country, because there is no work for them in their native land. Most of them do not know what they’ll do if they are told they must leave. “None of the local people want to do this job” was what I heard over and over again. Watch the television if you don’t believe me.

I first heard a remark like this from a pea-packer, years ago. Interviewed on television somewhere near Boston, Lincs, she said she would gladly give up work to care for a small child she and her Polish husband had had in the UK, but “everyone who’s British who’s interviewed says ‘no’ to the job”.

Does no one want to bend their back? Do the politicians think that all they need to show us is their posturing?

David Davis, for example, looks like a fairground busker who must’ve thought you believed him when he put it about that you would “See the bearded lady!” Was he referring to Mrs May? Where is said hirsute female? Perhaps more accurately, he looks like a sharp-suited shyster who has asked us to invest in a multi-million pound enterprise, knowing all along that the enterprise isn’t worth much more than sixpence of anybody’s money.

Would you buy a secondhand car from him? I know I wouldn’t. Neither should you.

As for Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, he very nearly blew it completely when he implied that Europe could “whistle” for Britain’s due payments.

The opposition is no better. They seem to have too many of their own axes to grind.

So why not leave it all to the bureaucrats? They have nothing to lose by sticking to the facts. The politicians have everything to lose by trying to suggest that we are all like them: no matter which flag they salute.

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Do we really need to know?

Following events in Charlottesville, President Trump has so far failed to denounce the far right in explicit terms. Instead, he has condemned those of “many sides” for almost everything. How mealy-mouthed can you get? At least he’s running true to form.

What I want to know is this: do we we really want to know? And do we really care?

Here, in Devon England, Donald Trump can pretty much say or do what he likes. Life will still go on; the leylandii will still grow; the sea will still flood and ebb; the seagulls will still squawk at each other, or some other bird; the rain will still fall when it chooses; we shall all continue to grow a little older.

Will anybody care?

The question is: do we really have to know what’s going on in America?

I grant you, it’s what’s called “the silly season”, when any news – good, bad or indifferent – is used to fill the papers and the airwaves. Our own MPs are still on holiday. Our Prime Minister has yet to make an appearance following her much-publicised trekking about in Switzerland. One wonders if she will return to her desk and announce a snap election. Or a denunciation of all things Brexit. She and the American President are almost as unpredictable as an unturned omelette. Or a result at Stamford Bridge.

The question remains: do we really need to know?

I guess we do, when the future of the Western World is in the hands of a man who can’t even articulate his own thoughts.

 

 

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Leaving it all behind

I never thought I’d do it, but here I am, writing my first blog from Devon.

Leaving London after living there for more than 50 years was a wrench.

Having said that, I don’t miss the dirt, the crowds or the noise (all of which have increased over the years). Of course, I miss having galleries on my doorstep (or being able to go to one on a whim) and being able to go to the cinema without making it a planned activity based on bus timetables and what’s on. I miss living at the centre of national and international politics and debate. Big BenAnd I miss being able to shop for anything I’ve forgotten when I feel like it. I also miss some of the individuals I got to know (although many of them live, or lived, far from the centre of the action).

But, much more than generally speaking, life down here in Devon is far better than life up there in London. For one thing, the air is cleaner and it’s a great deal better to be woken by the squawk of seagulls – even though they still look bad-tempered and sound as if they’re laughing at me – or by the trilling of other birds than it is by the wail of sirens. I could do without the sound of the sea washing the pebbles clean each time it rushes out, instead of the swoosh of tyres on one of London’s wet main roads. But I can’t say I’d swap one for the other.

If I were many years younger, I would no doubt think differently. I would want  something going on all the time; clubs or discos to go to nearby, more young people my age around and willing to do much the same things. But, as an older person, the quieter life down here is just what I want. Goodness me, I can even shop in peace and buy The Guardian!

Doing what they said

Of course, I’m not the only one leaving things behind.

Donald Trump promised much in his campaign, pedalling a brand of patriotic rhetoric that got him elected to the highest office in the so-called free world. But he’s dealing in international pragmatism nowadays. Hell (as they say over there), he’s even stopped talking about building a wall.

Theresa May sat so firmly on the fence during 2016’s European referendum debate, refusing to say which side she was on, she must’ve hurt herself. It must be the reason why, today, she wears an expression of permanent pain whenever she extols what’s become known as ‘a hard Brexit’. She even has to peddle the same line as those she was supposedly against.

No, I don’t miss any of what I left behind. I can pick and choose what I want to pay attention to. I can even follow the fortunes of my favourite top-of-the-pile football club! And I will, eventually, be able to live the life I want to, once all the material things to do with moving have been sorted out.

It was a good move. Maybe even one I should’ve made some time ago. But, ‘there is a tide in the affairs of men’.

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They still don’t know what to do

Even now, some three almost four months since the UK voted, the Government still doesn’t know what to do about Europe.

The UK voted Out, that’s certain. Like people voting to die, we’ve queued up for the guillotine.

The Prime Minister either doesn’t know, or can’t know and – for sure – won’t say what’s next. She has her, no doubt, good reasons. theresa-may-19th-octoberBut it looks as if the Government is out of control; like a driverless car careering down the MI, hell-bent on getting to London without really knowing where London is.

The feeling is, someone ought to take control. Or at least be seen to take control

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