Category Archives: Voting

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 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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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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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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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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It’s cold outside

People keep on asking: “What’s it going to mean?”

If I had the answer, I’d be able to make a bomb. But I don’t, so I can’t.

I was minded today to think I knew, but then Nicola Sturgeon was reported as saying the Scots might hold another referendum on whether or not they want to remain as part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. If the Scots vote to leave, it will – of course – no longer be a United Kingdom. But that’s another story.

The governmet under the premiership of Theresa May has no ideas, either. Unless, that is, it has some ideas but is keeping quiet about them.

Asking us to vote in June was akin to asking a man if he wanted to die. Of course, he voted to live – but on his terms.

Now we are all going to die, victims of a vote which casts us out of a Union which we have enjoyed without realising we were in it. Out of it we shall feel the cold like someone cast out into a wintry street without an overcoat.

I guess that’s what it’s going to mean; not being in a club and feeling cold.

 

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Sipping tea, but not talking turkey

It’s over three months since a slim majority of the British people voted to leave the European Union.

Yet nothing has happened.

Instead, we sit at the edge of the ice pool, sipping tea while the representatives of some 30 countries mill around, debating with each other, sometimes shouting and all looking for a theme to unite them.

If we’re not careful, the ice will break, we shall all sink, and that will be the end of the European project.

It’s a frightening thought, even sitting on the edge.

We really ought to get on to dry land. But, at the moment, we don’t know what that land is like and how we will fare in it. We could easily be a forgotten people who made their way onto the land by accident.

We have to know what kind of country Britain wants to be, post European Union membership, before we can offer anything useful to those who are already on dry land.

It’s time, therefore, to make our minds up; for those who would be in charge to take responsibility for being in charge.

 

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Which game next?

In the weeks since Britons were asked to vote whether they’d like to stay in or leave the European Union, we have been in a state of limbo. And that’s no place to be.

Almost as soon as the referendum result was known, David Cameron resigned. Some would say that was cowardice; others that it was the sign of a shrewd mind that knew chaos would follow a national vote called to placate his right-wing enemies.

In the meantime, the Labour Party has been going through a leadership argument, with some two or three people wanting to assume Jeremy Corbyn’s mantle as spokesman for the government’s opposition – a job he hasn’t done terribly well by anybody’s judgement.

Being in or out of the European Union will come at a price.

To stay in means having to pay our dues. But then, anyone who plays golf knows that it is better if one pays a membership fee.

Being out means that we shall have to face up to being a bit like Portugal before it joined the EU.

The best option is to tee off, if you know how to.

Being in limbo is no place to be, unless you are a dancer.

 

 

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Vote, don’t shout

It’s been a while now since those of us who count ourselves as UK citizens first heard we were going to get a vote on staying in or leaving the European Union.

Since then and more recently, there has been a lot of shouting.

But not a lot of speaking unto truth. Even now, with less than two weeks to go, no one is telling us how things will be. They’re all willing to say – or, rather, shout – “If we stay it will be so and so”, or “If we leave it will be so and so”, but no one is prepared to tell us how it will really be after June 23.

I tend to agree with one young person who, it was reported a few days ago, said that it sounded like a lot of old men shouting at each other.

For that’s what it has been: a lot of middle-aged, if not older, people shouting at each other, here and elsewhere, in the press and on the television as well as on the radio.

People shout at each other, instead of having a rational, even quiet debate about the issues. Someone said the other day that Hillary Clinton won’t get elected because she doesn’t shout enough, and because she’s not good-looking enough.

Was Mrs Thatcher good-looking? She was glamorous, for sure, but I’m not sure if she shouted. She did, at least, sound strident.

Was Golda Meir good-looking? That depends on your point of view, but I don’t recall her shouting.

Angel Merkel is neither a hot-looking woman, nor given to shouting.

Hillary Clinton is good-looking enough for me.

But doo we have to have a good-looking person in charge of the leading nation in the Western World?

And do we have to have a voice in what’s being said, despite being “the fifth most prosperous nation in the world”, as one shouty middle-aged man put it?

Of course, we want to be taking part in the world. Who doesn’t, or wouldn’t?

But, do we have to shout about it? Can’t we just vote?

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