Tag Archives: politics

If it won’t last forever, then what

Coronavirus must have a lifespan. It can’t last forever.

However, its consequences could be far-reaching. We cannot go back to how things were,  with an endless fixation on economic growth in the Western World. The planet will not sustain it, and we shall all be plunged into catastrophe on a biblical scale.

Don’t just take my word for it. There are plenty of others who think the same way.

Thankfully, we have begun to rely less on fossil fuels, which must run out sometime, and we have seen that a sense of community – rather than the sense of ‘me’ – has taken hold, at least in the UK.

All this leads me to believe that we shall emerge from this so-called ‘crisis’ in better shape to deal with the future than we were before it emerged.

I hope so, anyway. But if the politicians in suits are left to their own pocket-lining devices, I doubt it. Their outlook and beliefs will last forever.

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Who’s he like now?

The more I think about him, and the more I read about both men, the more I think Boris Johnson begins to resemble Henry VIII. The same bombast; the same: ‘Look at me. Nothing is important except me’; the same devil-may-care attitude – ‘What the hell, I’ll go and play this afternoon” – and the same lack of interest in the common people.

When was the last time Boris saw a boarded up shop front in a high street or a ‘For Sale’ sign outside some out-of-town business premises or another?

When, for example, was the last time he visited one of the country’s many flood-hit areas? Even Jeremy Corbyn has managed to do that and, despite still being the leader of Her Majesty’s opposition, he isn’t much of a ‘somebody’ these days. Once his time is truly up, and the Labour Party has a new leader, he really ought to go back to the back-benches where he could always snipe at something or another.

In the meantime, we’re stuck with someone akin to King Boris. The only thing that marks him out from Henry VIII is that he doesn’t wear a funny hat, a doublet and hose and doesn’t have a male heir – at least, not one that we know of. All he has is an unknown successor, from either wing of the Houses of Parliament. Thank goodness we can vote on that. I don’t think it matters much at this stage who it is, so long as they are able to restore Parliament to something it used to resemble; a debating chamber where the nature of our country could be discussed and decided upon.

As it is, we’re left in a kind of Boris Land, not knowing what the country will look like in a couple of year’s time.

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At last …

The British people have voted. The general election result is known. But what are we to make of it?

What we do know beyond all reasonable doubt is that the Conservatives, led by Boris Johnson, now have absolute control over Parliament. That suggests an extended period of austerity rather than a much-needed spend and borrow programme as set out in the Labour manifesto. I know which I’d rather have!Ballot Paper Cross 2

Of course, we don’t know for sure what an administration under Johnson will actually do. But, if the pundits and opinion-formers are to be believed, nothing Johnson’s administration does will go far towards healing the broken feeling that is so evident across much of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Are our country roads’ potholes to be fixed? And what about the dropped drains to be encountered almost everywhere? Will my car have to suffer many more knocks and blows to its suspension?

Will someone tell us what’s going to happen to our National Health Service? Will parts of it be sold off to some private enterprise so that they can make money out of it? Or will the new administration find some way of making the whole thing viable instead of ‘in crisis’, as we are so often told it is?

What’s going to happen to our schools, many of which are a disgrace to anyone who believes that a fair education can lead to a fair, well-paid career?

And what about our police force? It seems to be very short-staffed at the moment, all over the country. I can’t remember the last time I saw a local policeman or policewoman ‘on the beat’.

As to the nation’s social services, they seem stretched beyond belief. People are sleeping on the streets of our cities, because there is little or nowhere else for them to go. Others are suffering from severe deprivation because the system cannot cope with their physical or mental health problems.

As you can see, the election result seems to raise more questions than answers, all of which are relevant to a broad society that includes the less-well-off as well as the comfortable rich.

I live in a retirement area, so I probably won’t see much of the horror that seems about to be perpetrated on our nation. My pension and investments will shield me from the worst of it all. But I can’t help feeling that we – the liberal-minded community – are in for a rough ride over the next little whiles.

Let’s hope that Boris proves to be more of a “one nation” Tory than his recent election performance suggests.

Let’s also hope that he is less in the pocket of what looks like his hard-right cabal.

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What does he think he’s up to?

The Supreme Court seems to matter not a jot to Boris Johnson. Even as I write, he’s probably plotting how to wriggle out of whatever they may conclude.

To me, he has conspired to prorogue Parliament just so that he can call an election, which he probably thinks he will win. On the surface of it all, he may be right. He might just win – even with an outright majority.

Personally, I can no longer decide which side I’m on: in or out. Part of me wants to remain in the European Union, because we’re stronger in it by being part of a large market, and because we may be able to influence how it [the EU] should be reformed. And reformed it should be. The other part of me wants to be out of it all together, so that they [the other Europeans] can get on with it, whatever it may be.

Either way, I am utterly fed up with people talking about Brexit when they don’t even know what kind of Britain they want – or what they’re being offered. Those who want another referendum based on questions about a future Britain – and there are many – have my sympathy. Especially when they say they will abide by the result. I don’t feel strongly about any party, let alone one that says what it would do if it were in power.

What does bother me is that Johnson and his cronies don’t seem to understand anything about what’s happening in the country, outside the Westminster village.

I live in East Devon, which is – by turns – prosperous and down-at-heel. Goodness knows where the local farming and agricultural communities think their money will come from, once they’re no longer able to enjoy EU grants. That’s to say nothing of the retail sector, which is facing its own problems.

But, of course, Boris knows best! We shall leave the EU at the end of October, come what may. Or to use his own words, “do or die”.

I’d rather die than listen to any more of his blustering rhetoric.

What the people of this country want is to get on with it, or so he says. Get on with what, I ask? We live in a broken society and nothing, but nothing, he has ‘promised’ will fix things as they currently are.

He is, it seems, beyond predicting.

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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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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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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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He’s at it again

It’s hard to believe, but last week he put his foot in his mouth again.

For one who supposedly wants to be leader of his party, George Osborne is making a pretty poor go of it. And it gets worse and worse.

His Budget last week was, in itself, a bit of a mishmash of old ideas muddled with new thinking. He had trailed some of it already. Not much of it came as a surprise. He continued to favour the better-off in British society and failed to help those less able to help themselves.

As result, the present Cabinet has lost one member – Ian Duncan-Smith, for whatever reason – and may lose more before his Master, it’s chair, David Cameron, decides enough is enough and retreats to whatever ‘retirement’ he choses.

Meanwhile, George seems to think that all he has to do is grin and we’ll like him.

Personally, I’ve always been a little circumspect about people who grin too much. They seem to be hiding something else behind the façade of friendliness.

Sometimes it’s no more than politesse. At others it’s malice; it could be idiocy.

In George’s case, it seems to be a combination of the last two. He looks like a malicious idiot.

And he did it it again last week.

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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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