Tag Archives: Cameron

Will someone please tell us what’s going on?

It’s a few weeks since Britain was asked to vote IN or OUT of the European Union, and we were given to expect swift action following the result.

Yet nothing has happened. We are as we were before: stuck in a land of uncertainty.

All that has changed is the leadership of the Conservative Party, and thus the Prime Minister. Where once we had an Old Etonian in charge, who rolled up his sleeves and wanted to be one of the blokes, we now have a well-dressed, state-educated woman in the post, who seems to  want to be a lady.

All that has happened is that the government seems to have lurched to the right. The Prime Minister has voiced her support for grammar schools and her concern about the Chinese investment in our nuclear future, and the Transport Secretary has described as ‘militant’ those who would try to get a better deal for their members.

It seems that, if all that we see comes to pass, we shall be living in a land where the elite get all the top jobs (because they’ve been to a better school) and the rest are believed to be militant. Or, at least, malcontent.

Cameron has disappeared. Some say that June’s referendum on IN or OUT of Europe was called by him to placate the right wing of his party, and that he was convinced he and his beliefs would win. Now, it looks as if he left the job in an hurry because he didn’t want to have to clear up the mess he left behind, or be called on to deal with the big beasts of the right who would probably savage him. May was what the backbenchers would call “a safe pair of hands”, although she is best remembered for being a smart pair of shoes.Screen Shot 2016-08-11 at 17.06.54

It also looks as if we don’t know where we’re going. Or with whom.

Isn’t it time someone – I don’t much mind who – told us a few truths about the future.

At present, we seem to be drifting, with a weakened currency and no political direction.

 

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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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Revive the Arab League!

Britain’s David Cameron has expended a lot of energy during this past week trying persuade the House of Commons and the rest of the nation that we should instigate air strikes against ISL in Syria.

Why expend so much energy on such a waste of time, lives and money!

If he wants to see off ISL, he should be coercing the Arab League into doing something, instead of assuming that the ISL jihadis will listen to nothing more than a few explosions in their backyard. They’ve already heard a few of them, and still they seem to want more.

An organisation whose time has been barren for 70 years

Founded in 1945, the Arab League’s describes its own objective as to “draw closer the relationships between member States” and to “co-ordinate collaboration” in the region. At least, that’s what it says it does.

In truth, it does very little. It might be thought of as a footnote in David Lean’s ‘Lawrence of Arabia’. But, if my memory of that film is anything to go by, the League is best remembered as an opportunity lost.

If it had more teeth today, it would be doing something.

As it is, we in the West are left believing (or being led to believe) that the troubles in Syria are all our fault; that we should get stuck in there and sort it out, so they stop fighting with each other.

A generation or more lost

Who are we in the western world to tell them what to do?

We don’t have a handle on the truth. There’s more than one.

The one they hold is as valid as ours, which is based on the belief that there is one deity and one Holy Son of that deity, Jesus, who died on a cross so that the rest of us sinners could live in peace. End of. They (the jihadis and others) believe their man was the deity’s prophet: Muhammad, with a creed not a million miles away from that of Jesus’.

The trouble, as always, comes when family is involved. The Shia and Sunnis are part of the same family, but don’t see eye to eye on who’s the rightful heir to Muhammad. Traditionalist Sunnis believe they are the chosen successors. Shia muslims believe the others have no such right.

That’s their problem, not ours.

David Cameron should be promoting the idea that it’s up to them to sort out their own differences, not us. It’s not our role to be playground monitor. We should not interfere with how they play their games.

But we should promote fair play.

Which is why we ought to be putting our weight behind an Arab League that wants to bring about peace and harmony in a troubled region. That wants the playground to be level.

At least, that’s what their charter says they believe.

An end to ISL

If the League were to act, and act strongly and swiftly, there could be an end to ISL, and thus an end to the fighting in the Middle East.

As it is, ISL will only grow stronger and stronger as less and less is done.

And the more we talk about them, the more recruits they will attract.

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Did you make your mark? And how?

I haven’t had much to say of late, but I have been listening.
That’s partly because I’ve been ill.
I was listening and trying to make sense of the cacophony of ideas and comment that filled cyberspace, the radio waves, television and our newspapers as we approached the UK’s general election.Big Ben
Believe me, it was hard. So much noise and so little clarity. With only a week or so to go, no one seemed to be able to predict the outcome.
Too close for comfort
Now it’s all over bar the shouting, at least until September, when The Labour Party has its conference and there’ll be plenty of noise about then.
That’s not so surprising when you think that, for years, it’s been nigh-on impossible to slip a cigarette paper between the two major parties’ policies or their leaders, whoever they may be.
Both leaders banged on before the election about reducing the budget deficit, blaming each other for its existence and the way it was handled. Yet neither seemed to have a credible solution.
Each one swore blind the NHS was safe in their hands while acknowledging it needs reform. But who knows where they might take it? Less than a month later it was deemed to be in trouble again.
And they both had our ageing population’s welfare and our children’s education right at the heart of their programmes. Where is it now?
“Vote for us from cradle to grave”, but what would we get?
Even if you turned to the minority parties, there wasn’t much on offer.
The Greens’ ideas seemed attractive, until you recalled their leader’s February “brain fade” and asked yourself if they’d be able to keep a grip on their day-to-day thinking, let alone the economy.
UKIP didn’t fare too well, unless you were a rabid anti-immigrationist or a simple-minded little Englander.
As for the Liberal Democrats, they seem to have completely lost their way since they were blinded by the bright lights of so-called power sharing as they went into coalition with the Conservatives. Their leader quit almost before he’d lost his seat.
Damaged goods
Aside from their policies, there was also the question of morality or, to be kinder, the whether of whether or not any of our currently serving MPs are fit for purpose.
Even now it’s hard to forget, and even harder to forgive, the business of MPs’ expenses. The infamous duck house enjoys legendary status. The second homes are an indelible memory.
More recently and nearer the election, we had accusations levelled at both Malcolm Rifkind and Jack Straw that they were willing to accept cash in hand in exchange for a word in various MPs’ ears.
Even the church, which delivered such a well-reasoned critique on the state of British politics early in the year, was accused of hypocrisy for demanding an increase in the minimum wage when it currently paid some of its people less than that.
And then there was the government’s relationship with big business. What were we to make of the half-Nelson administered – and still administered – by some of the huge corporations whose influence paralyses the politicians’ ability to effect change in almost any walk of life?
Could we, in short, have confidence in anyone or any party that entreated us for our vote?
The radical alternative
I don’t profess to have an absolute answer to any of your questions, but I do have a suggestion.
Between now and the next general election let’s try to get something on the ballot paper that allows us to express ourselves properly, rather than having to vote in a way that leaves us uncomfortable just because we’re trying to keep someone out, rather than vote as we feel.
I didn’t vote (because I was stuck in the Chelsea & Westminster Hospital, too late to register for a postal vote, and too ill to be allowed out to the polling station).
But had I been able to vote I probably would have spoiled my paper by writing something like NONE OF THE ABOVE ARE SUITABLE across it.
It would then have gone into the pile marked “Spoiled papers” and been forgotten.
Let’s, next time, have a place where you can put a tick next to NO CONFIDENCE.
That way we all be able to vote as we feel, not as we’re expected to.

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Good on yer, Max!

I never thought I’d say this, but the Daily Mail’s Max Hastings is spot on today.
Commenting on Chancellor George Osborne’s speech in the House of Commons yesterday, when he introduced his Autumn Statement, Hastings says that, while it was a good speech, if Osborne had “told us the whole truth about the economy the Tories would never get elected”.
Goodness me! And in the Daily Mail!
Cataloging the anomalies in Osborne’s address, he highlights the disconnects between fact and fantasy and claims that, if Britain’s public finances are to be sustainable, Osborne would have to make spending cuts on a scale beyond the acceptable, in electoral terms.
Hastings goes on to bemoan the levels of what he calls “wasted, wasted, wasted” public expenditure, on projects he derides.
But his final, parting shot is the most wounding to the Tories – his newspaper’s core readership.
He says: “George Osborne is a better and more truthful man than his Labour foes, as he showed us again yesterday.
“His party is the only one fit to govern after next May. But it is nowhere near honest enough, if our children and grandchildren are to inhabit a solvent Britain.”
And he’s right.
I never thought I’d say that!

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Over-working the hard-working

“If I hear that expression once more, I’ll scream”.

So said my partner, a few weeks ago.

Thank goodness she was speaking figuratively, otherwise I’d be deaf by now.

The phrase she hates with such passion, and which I’ve come to loath in equal measure, is “hard working people”.

We hear it all the time these days.

Politicians from every party constantly talk about “hard working people”, as if they’ve identified a special group in society – the hard workers – that they want to identify with.

How many times have you heard David Cameron, George Osborne, Nick Clegg, David Milliband, Ed Balls and a host of others say they’re “on the side of hard working people”?

Britain’s Tories quite clearly are. The phrase is splashed all over their current party conference.

Even President Obama used the phrase in a recent discussion about the value of Obamacare. Apparently, it’s for America’s hard working people everywhere.

What I want to know is this?

What’s the difference between hard working people and people who just work? Even people who just work hard?

Do we all have to be grafters employed on production lines to fit into the group and get the benefits? How dehumanising could that become?

Do we all have to have fingers worn to the bone by hard work? How painful would that be?

Must we spend endless hours slaving at work we’d rather not do? How much stress must one person bear?

Are our noses to be worn smooth by constant contact with the daily grind? Where’s the fun in that?

Can’t we have just a little bit of fun, even at work?

Must we always be working so hard?

A joyless life

It seems to me that, if we’re all expected to be so “hard-working” in order to reap the rewards offered by the politicians – the tax breaks, the mortgage deals and so on – we’re likely to lose something along the way.

We’ll all be so exhausted we’ll have nothing left to give to our lives outside work. No time. No energy. Nothing.

Creativity will wither, unless someone’s paying for it. Why would anyone create anything just for it’s own sake?

Family life may suffer, unless one works hard to find a sane balance. How much energy will be left for that?

Joy may become just a woman’s name.

Because everything in life will be governed by whether or not it – or the person who’s done or made it – qualifies as “hard-working”.

I’m sorry, but I don’t subscribe.

I’ve never been afraid of hard work; not ever in 50+ years of near-continous employment.

But I hate being expected to join the ranks of the “hard-working” just to remain part of the government’s thinking.

And I suspect the government’s thinking centres on how much tax it can harvest from “hard working” people rather than how much joy it can sow in the hearts of the country’s careworn population.

What a miserable, over-worked “hard working” lot we may become!

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What’s so special about gas?

The international outrage expressed since Monday’s chemical weapons attack on a Damascus suburb, which – according to Médecins Sans Frontières – left the Syrians with 355 dead, has been understandable.

The indiscriminate slaughter of civilians, the killing of women, children and innocent bystanders by chemical weapons is, says US Secretary of State John Kerry, “a moral obscenity”.

And, he adds: “The international norm cannot be violated without consequences”.

And so the US and her allies move inexorably towards another confrontation in the Middle East which, like the one perpetrated against Saddam Hussein, may well be doomed to failure.

Whatever you think of the legality of such a move, one question remains unanswered.

Why has it taken so long?

Why have the US and the UK waited until now to rattle their sabres with such force when, in the three short years since President Assad started his crack-down on the so-called rebels, more than 100,000 people have died in Syria?

What is the difference between a life snuffed out by gas and a life blown to bits by a bomb or a missile?

The other unanswered question is: where will it end?

“The heir to Blair”

Reporting on the British Prime Minister’s return from holiday to recall Parliament, and his determination to destroy the Syrian regime’s stockpiles of chemical weapons, The Independent describes David Cameron as “the heir to Blair”.

They point out that, in echoing Tony Blair’s argument that there was a “moral case” for the war in Iraq even without a UN mandate, Cameron describes Syria’s alleged use of chemical weapons as “morally indefensible”.

And yet, despite his moral stance, Blair is still vilified for taking Britain to war in Iraq.

If his experience is anything to go by, Cameron stands in danger of being remembered for taking Britain into a conflict that, according to some sources, would pitch the US and her allies into a proxy war with Iran, which is providing the Syrian government with its weaponry.

And can anyone see an end to a conflict of that kind?

Where is Blair?

The final, unresolved question of the day must be: where is Blair in all this?

He has backed intervention in Syria, which seems bizarre given his track record in Iraq and Afghanistan.

He has said he “understands every impulse to stay clear of the turmoil” and that “we have to understand the consequences of wringing our hands instead of putting them to work”, which all sounds fine until you begin to wonder if it’s all just hot air.

Given that Blair is supposed to be the EU’s advocate for peace in the Middle East, where riot and civil commotion are the norm almost everywhere, I cannot help but think his fine words are those of a gasbag.

I can only hope that, if that’s the case, there is something special about his brand of gas and that further death and destruction – by whatever means – will be averted.

If not, no matter how “proportionate” the West’s actions may be, they will not – as before – be in my name.

And Cameron will have that on his conscience.

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Silence is not golden

It’s almost the end of the summer now and the silly season is over.

Most of us have been on holiday, had a good time and now it’s back to work.

We have to assume it’s the same for the British Labour Party, so we ought to start hearing something from them.

But where are they? And what have they go to say?

All during the long hot days of July and the occasional downpours of August, their leader’s silence has been either worrying, irritating, maddening or all three.

In that time, the Conservative propaganda machine has hardly missed a beat, with David Cameron telling us what he thinks about almost anything and everything that passes for public concern.

But nothing has been heard from David Milliband or his team.

I believe he must speak up now and tell the British people what he thinks of the great issues of the day – the events in Egypt, the UK’s energy shortfall, our youth unemployment, the housing shortage and much else – and give us an inkling of what he and his party would do if they were to win the next election.

That may not be due until 2015, but many of us want to know his mind now.

While he may need time to fine-tune his ideas and polish his policies, we need time to decide whether or not he’s the right man for the job.

If he doesn’t do something soon, he won’t get a winner’s gold medal and his silence now will be seen for what it is: leaden.

 

 

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For PM read PR

“What is it about George Osborne?”, I asked a few weeks ago.

Now I’m minded to ask: “What is it about David Cameron?”

He seems to be everywhere, sounding off about everything.

Fracking: he thinks we ought to encourage it.

The Human Rights Act: he reckons it should go.

Jesus Christ: he’s in favour of Him.

The internet: it’s full of vile sites that parents – and the rest of us – ought to avoid like the plague.

Sunday mornings: he likes them because they give him time to cook pancakes with his kids.

Bruce Springsteen: he gets off on him when his wife’s not around.

Wayne Rooney: he wants us to know that his mum sat next to the great sulk at Wimbledon.

Badgers: they’ll have to culled, even though it’ll make the government unpopular.

Politics: he seems to have given that a miss.

Government: what’s that?

I know this is the silly season and that, over the years, we’ve learned to expect the media’s usual crop of daft stories in August.

The excuse might be that parliament’s on holiday and the PM and his senior ministers are supposed to be on vacation.

So, each year, we’re subjected to pictures of the Prime Minster of the day either lounging in a seaside deckchair/sunbathing on someone’s private yacht /wandering through a Tuscan village/hanging out with Silvio Berlusconi/eating ice cream on a pier or – in Cameron’s case this year – pointing meaninglessly at fish in a Portuguese market.

And so we foolishly think we can take a break from the great affairs if state and, instead, quietly attend to our own affairs or those of soap stars and celebrities.

Cameron, you’d think, might also want to have a period of similarly private domesticity.

But no. It seems he has to be to constantly in the news and – if not in the papers – trying to make the headlines.

Willing to say almost anything, he has to be noticed.

He’s like an over zealous PR man trying too hard to get his client in the news. Except that – in Cameron’s case – he’s his own client.

When will he learn that “PM” stands for “Prime Minister” and not the daily news and current affairs programme on Radio 4?

And when will he learn that, in his case, “PR” should stand for Public Responsibility not public relations.

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I can’t believe I agree with a Tory!

It almost pains me to say this, but I’ve found a Tory I can agree with.

He’s Ramesh Patel, who writes for the Huffington Post. Check him out at www.huffingtonpost.com.

On November 24 2012, Patel posted an item headlined: Finally! Exposed! The Deficit Myth! So, David Cameron When Are You Going to Apologise?

Aside from the proliferation of screamers and the somewhat eccentric punctuation, Patel’s argument – that Britain’s Conservative-led coalition government has been pedalling three erroneous claims about the origins of the country’s deficit – makes compelling reading.

He points out that David Cameron and George Osborne are consistently lying to the British people about the debt they say they inherited from the previous administration.

Citing statistic after statistic, Patel says they are wrong on the deficit.

Moreover, as you may guess from his livid headline, he wants Cameron to apologise.

Why?

Because he believes that Cameron is playing the blame game to depress confidence and justify austerity, which he and Osborne use as an excuse for a smaller state and thus lower taxes.

And because, by painting Labour as a party that cannot be trusted with the economy, Cameron is playing on people’s fear in a way that will get them to vote Tory at the next election.

Which where, as I expected, Patel and I part company.

For I could not vote Tory, even if the Labour party were a bunch of thieves, knaves, vagabonds and liars – which they are not.

As Patel so clearly states, it’s the Prime Minister who’s the liar. And he should apologise.

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