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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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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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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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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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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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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