Category Archives: Current Affairs

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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More obfuscation

There hasn’t been much said about Brexit in the last couple of weeks or so,  mercifully.

But that hasn’t stopped the present administration from uttering platitudes while implementing some pretty harsh legislation.

What are we to do with them?

You only have to look into their eyes to know that, when they speak, they don’t really believe a word of what they say. They’re mouthing from pre-written texts. So, platitudes cover up a multitude of sins against the populace.

Of course, if you’re one of them, and that means an MP or just a sympathiser, you’ll be used to this and not take any notice. Politicians have been ‘economical with the truth’ ever since the phrase was first coined, and before then. And they show no signs of changing their ways.

But what do you do if you don’t like what you hear?

You can’t really turn a blind eye or deaf ear, or can you – do you?

You can’t really shrug and say “It was ever thus” and let the half-truths roll on and on. Maybe you do, and may be it was.

Perhaps the answer is: we ought to care more about what they say and do, so that they only say what they are going to do.

But that requires politicians to be honest. And it’s a very long time since I met one of those in the flesh.

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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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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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Another one bites the dust!

Looks like I posted too soon.

Now even Scaramucci is no more, rejected to mooch around somewhere else.

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He’s still there

Last November it seemed almost unbelievable. This August, less than a year later, it is still unbelievable.

Donald Trump is President of the United States of America.

After all the jaw-dropping foolishness we saw during the US election, and the wicked bad-mouthing of his opponent, it seems to be beyond comprehension that The Donald is President. It seems incongruous that a man whose appeal can only be to the small-minded is in a high office once occupied by a man whose intellect was so great he seemed to think of everything before he even opened his mouth. He even made jokes, for heaven’s sakes, which seemed premeditated. What’s more, they were funny and we didn’t laugh at them out of politeness or nervousness.

True, a vote for The Donald’s chief opponent would have probably meant the retention of America’s status quo. And the election of a woman to “the highest office in the land” for  the first time. But would that have been so bad? At least, we would’ve known where we stood.

A leap into the unknown

As it is, the election of The Donald was a leap into the unknown. And I don’t mean the kind of ‘unknown’ not known by Donald Rumsfeld. I mean the kind of ‘unknown’ we are currently experiencing; the unknown that creates uncertainty.

We don’t know, for example, from one week to the next, what The Donald will say or do tomorrow.

He could say he’s going to build a wall. But nothing seems to happen.

He could say the North Koreans threaten world stability. But they still launch nuclear missiles.

He could hire me tomorrow. But next week I could be fired.

While he is still there – and he may be there until 2024 – we should all be worried. His behaviour, and his decisions, are laughable but they all have their consequences. The great communicator, Anthony Scaramucci [the Mooch], might seem like a clown. But he’s a dangerous joker, capable of making his boss look positively benign.

The transatlantic view

On this side of the ocean, we can disbelieve what we hear, even laugh at The Donald.

But I would hate to be a liberal living in America now. I might even be ashamed of my country. I certainly would not want The Donald to be my President. Not for a moment longer.

However, I do not know who might take his place.

Change was needed, of that there is no doubt. The system had become atrophied. Obama could not get anything done, because the numbers in both houses were stacked against him. Everything was a compromise. A fresh approach was needed.

Goodness knows but that Britain needs a change! The current government is the same as its predecessor, in all but personnel.

But where are the men or women who can take the places of those that are in charge? Are we to have to carry on as usual, while our current ‘leaders’ (including Valdimir Putin and co) are there?

Few of us are leaders. Most of us prefer to be led. But not by people who say one thing, do another, and turn everything into a reflection of themselves and their so-called achievements.

We all need someone else ‘there’. Someone we can trust.

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If the cap fits, wear it

Years go – long before I was a boy – the Labour Movement was associated with cloth caps and handkerchiefs. One on your head and another round your neck was all you needed. That, and a coal-blackened face.

Nowadays, Labour represents a different kind of person. One who’s probably been to university, is well–educated and wouldn’t be seen dead in a cloth cap.

Yet the Tories don’t seem to have recognised this.

Only yesterday I saw a man – suited, scowling and briefcase in hand –  who looked as if he despised the world, because it wasn’t peopled by his ‘type’.

But his ‘type’ is – to coin an election phrase of years ago – yesterday’s man.

Once the Tories wake up to the idea that the composition of Labour has changed, and that many younger people who once voted Tory now see Labour as representing the establishment, we may get a government that reflects the majority of the people and their views.

Until then, we must put up with stereotypes. And, it seems, mediocrity.

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Choice or debate

Nearly six months now and I – like so many others – remain frustrated.

Why? Because no-one has yet resolved whether we’re In or Out of the European Union. If we’re In, what role do we have? And, if we’re Out, how will we live with the rest of the world?

On the In hand, we could look forward to being part of an admittedly flawed grouping of vaguely like-minded states. Growth would be slow, but it would at least be collective. Squabbling in the group would continue, but ultimately all arguments must end, and they usually do.

On the Out hand, we don’t know what to look forward to. Will our place in the world have changed that much? Will we, the UK, be a small trading nation having to make our way in the world much as Portugal might’ve done before it became part of the European Union?

The prospects are very confusing.

And they’re not made any the less so by the seeming inability of anyone anywhere to tell us what’s going on.

I know the UK voted on June 23 to Leave, but we still Remain. But in what guise?

It seems to me that we should have had an informed debate about the future of the UK before we were asked to vote, with everyone from all walks of life being asked to contribute to the discussion. That way we would have known what we were being asked to vote on. Instead, all we heard was people arguing about what kind of Europe – and thus, by extension, what kind of world – we would be living in, without considering whether or not we wanted to be In or Out of it.

As it was, no one really debated or discussed the relative merits of the European Union before we were asked whether or not we wanted to Remain in it or Leave it. They seemed to shout at one another, brandishing facts which have since proved unsustainable. It’s only now, after we have made an ill-informed decision, that Europe’s pros and cons are being fully aired. And it’s too late. We have decided. Leave is what we shall do, whether we like it or not.

The next few years are going to be regretful, that’s for sure.

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