Category Archives: Europe

What is it with the Tories?

And what is it with Mrs May, in particular?

Just because she was wearing a red jacket at the recent European summit, she seems to think she can do whatever she wants. Wear the right clothes and you’ll sway them, seems to be her motto.

It’s the same with all the Tories in top jobs. Their arrogance and smugness seem to make them think that the rest of the world will fall in line with their thinking.

Do they have no idea that the other countries in Europe have feelings of their own? That those feelings deserve some respect? She says she wants some. But on whose terms?

Whenever La May makes a public utterance, supposedly on behalf of the British people, she is speaking for herself these days. She apparently has no convictions, other than that the British people voted by a very small margin that Britain should leave the European Union, and she will deliver on that vote. Whatever the consequences.

Since then, having sat on the fence over the vote, she looks as if she’s the puppet of the right, mouthing whatever they say – which mostly seems to be along the lines of ‘The British People Have Spoken And Their Voice Must Be Heard’.

The trouble is, none of knew what ‘leaving the EU’ meant, or how complicated it would be. None of that was explained at the time.

Now we – and the Tories – are paying for it.

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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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Still at it, after all this time

You can understand 27 European leaders being at loggerheads over Britain’s terms for leaving the European Union. They’ve all got their own agendas, so they couldn’t agree.

But Britain’s Tory party?

Come on … surely they can have a party line, and stick to it.

But no. They’re still arguing among themselves over what kind of Britain they want to see outside the European Union, after years of doing so. In the last few days alone they’ve been at it again. This time, the Chancellor seems to have put his foot in it. Poor man.

Who’d be a politician, eh? You’re damned if you say one thing and damned if you say another. You’re compromising yourself at all times.

I wouldn’t do it.

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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Cometh the hour, cometh the man

Clem Attlee

Attlee by Karsh

Several generations ago, Clement Attlee was the man. As common as muck, or so the Tories thought. Today it looks like Jeremy Corbyn is the name on everybody’s lips. As common as muck, or so many think.

Immediately after the Second World War, Attlee was elected as Prime Minister.

Who knows, but that Corbyn might be elected by the public, as Leader of the Labour Party and thus Prime Minister, immediately after the War of the Tories?

It certainly looks as if history will repeat itself.

 

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At last, it’s all over. For now.

I’ve been waiting a long time to write that headline, or something like it. The recently held, unnecessary, ego-driven election to determine who runs the UK seems to have gone on forever; like some kind of degenerative, wasting illness that has to be endured.

Over the last few weeks, we’ve heard politicians speaking (or in some cases, barking) about almost everything, but we haven’t heard any of the detail we want to hear. For example, there’s been virtually no mention of the kind of country we can expect to be living in. None at all. At least, none that I can relate to.

Instead, we’ve heard only that we can expect ‘strong and stable leadership’ from an administration led by The Maybot, Theresa May, (what a joke that empty mantra seems now, after so many climb-downs on her part!) or one that’s ‘for the many not the few’ from ‘Jezza’ Jeremy Corbyn (at least that one sounds plausible, even though it seems to have been invented by a marketing guru).

It’s still a great shame we were not offered a No Confidence space on the ballot paper. For all that the turnout was encouraging to those that would clutch at any straw blowing in the wind, that’s where a great many Xs would’ve ended up.

After all, do we really want a government lead by a woman who looks and sounds as if she is the product of a machine? One that was made on the home counties production line, with all the small-mindedness that that implies? Do we really want to be governed by a person who, at the outset, looked like a young middle-aged woman dreaming of past glories and future triumphs but, by the end, looked like an old middle-aged woman, broken and sad, contemplating her own mortality?

Do we want a government led by a person who was once described by Ken Clarke as “bloody difficult”? By someone who refuses to debate matters on tv? By someone who tells us that ‘strong leadership’ will be needed in the now-stalled negotiations with the European Union, when we must know (unless we are all ostriches) that She Who Tells Us will not be at the negotiating table herself (just as she wasn’t in the tv debate), but that a person with the mindset of a man like David Davis, who describes Brexit as “the defining issue of our age”, will lead the team? Or might it be a member of the DUP?

Or do we want a government led by a person who, at the outset, looked like a broken old milddle-aged man not knowing what to do with retirement but now looks like a young middle-aged man rejuvenated by the thought that the even younger civil servants will do most of the heavy work, and that there are equally pressing issues, other than the dreary one of  leaving the EU, that have to be attended to?

The Conservatives made almost no mention of Britain’s housing crisis, our failing mental health provisions, or child poverty.

They didn’t even have the guts to present themselves as a team. The Supreme Leader was the only one we were asked to think about.

And now we are stuck with that thought; with her. For another five years, or for as long as it takes for her to change her mind – yet again.

Those of us who can’t abide the woman will – like my late mother who used to turn off the telly every time Mrs Thatcher hove in view – have to bear her as we bore Mrs T and survived. I guess we’ll survive Mrs M.

But will she be remembered? Margaret Thatcher

Now that the election is all over, we can only hope that she will disappear into obscurity.

I doubt there’s much hope of that. We all still recall ‘That Woman’. But Mrs May is likely to be remembered as The One That Got Away. For now.

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