So.. Who are the candidates to lead Britain? Who are the best candidates? Well, let’s see. For the next five years, unless there’s a revolution in thought among the average Brits, or someone comes out of nowhere as a Statewo/man, and wows everyone with statecraft, there are only half a dozen or so potential Statespeople. The perception these days is that we have to go for comparative youth, because that’s where the energy is. That’s not always true, because you need experience as well.
The party in government right now are to the right of traditional centre. Some of them are far right, and because the statesmen among them would be seen as devisive, we have to exclude them completely. That would include Rees-Mogg, John Redwood, David Davies, Iain Duncan-Smith and Bernard Jenkin. Then there are a load in the middle who are to some degree nondiscript. Among the leading group, there are very divisive figures, like Priti Patel the hanging judge, Gavin Williamson, Grant Shapps, Hancock and Gove, who is a born traitor with dodgy eloquence.
Raab is nowhere near to being a statesman yet, he’s a nervy lawyer way to the right, and Sunak sounds like a decent kind of a man, but I don’t know him yet, and he has no real experience. So we’re left with the leader. Absolutely indisputably, they need him. There is no one else.
Yes, you can now say that Kier Starmer is a big chief, but really he’s just a big pinko, and the people he’s gathering around him are of his own cloth. The left of the Con Party are in the same political space as the right of of Lab. There but for fortune. How many of their personal best intentions float around the centre ground? Where are the revolutionaries among them? They are all staid, middle of the road good British people. A lot of them on both sides tend to be a bit damp. They stood for election because they passed all the social tests, and the country voted for them. That’s the system. In 1967 I sang, “The worst thing about the system is the system”, and that still stands, but that’s an almost invalid conversation. We’d have to go back well beyond Cromwell to sort some of those ingrained ‘national’ proclivities. ‘The System’ is ‘of’ us, and it’s been scewed and developed by hundreds of arguments and crises for over a thousand years. We’re in the middle of another right now.
So, a revolution of sorts did happen in Dec 19, though it couldn’t please most of us. What happened was that the majority revolted against the parliament, because the parliament had Not listened to them for three parliaments running. Parliament had point blank refused to acknowledge, and then obey, the people. It was as if the people didn’t exist any more. Parliament farted about with three lots of being hung. Finally the people took over. They maybe weren’t the people you wanted, or the people I wanted, but for sure, the people of Britain needed someone to listen, and more importantly, to hear, and to understand.
The battle was fought out in parliament between those who wanted, at long last, to listen to supermarket workers, trawlermen, ex miners, teachers and unrated small business people – and those who couldn’t get off the pot. The country was Very divided. It was dark; wasn’t it? With very loud voices clammering outside parliament with megaphones for years on end. Then, straddling the maze of political in-fighting, betrayal and reset he had to mount, one man came through. No one else in his party was able to. They were all too timid, or too extreme.
There were opportunities in the other main party, Labour, but no one was brave enough to take them. If, for one moment, Corbyn had seen the light, and offered, genuinely, to form a coalition with May to put a soft Brexit through, I would have thought that would have been it. I would have congratulated him, and we’d still be tied to Europe. Literally, that would have been good enough for me and millions of others, but that wasn’t good enough for Corbyn or McDonnell. They wanted the impossible. Corbyn couldn’t let go of the old Labour stance on Europe, which was to Leave, which I’d been part of, and McDonnell followed him into the fire. It was their only chance of power.
Johnson toured the country before the election, and discovered that the people needed someone to rescue them from eternal division. His biggest calculation was predicated on ‘What do the majority of people say they need?’ He needed to know, because he needed to know where the base was. A lesser calculation might have been based on how much he had to lose. Not much. Some people gave him an earful. He walked through that. He took a lesson from the floods, and practical joked with a JCB. In the end, he blew the rest out of the water. The righteous screamed old screams, but if your head was cleared of factional bad habits, you automatically thought along the lines that there were six hundred rudderless citizens sitting in the only parliament the British people have that represents everyone; and one man who has the political clout to go for it. There wasn’t another solution that wasn’t pie in the sky; and there wasn’t anyone else! And the nasty anti-Jewish thing going on in The Labour Party put a seal on it. That’s the reality.
I noticed that there were responses to my post of the 22nd March. They were written in the right spirit for these times, but perhaps a few of them need to be addressed in the current climate. I don’t want to criticise any comments. I’ve never done that, and besides, the current emergency dwarfs any nit-picking by anyone, including myself. This is a time to pull together, not for ploughing up ancient politics and fowling up your own online neighbourhood streets with personal effluent. There’s no time for that. This will be the same throughout these islands. The Scots are in a slightly different place, because the new version of their own labour party, the SNP, voted to stay in Europe. The leaders in their party were sold on the issue. Unluckily for them, their counterparts in England had been under the ‘unrepresented’ cosh for longer, and many who were suffering wanted out. (Of Islington and Europe).
So, I’ve written a few words to try to bring you up to speed with where I’m at now, hypothetically, or where I’ve been traveling to for the last few years, and particularly with regard to British politics and culture.
There’s been a bit of blowback at my mention of Boris Johnson. Well.. I have to say that Johnson has been all kinds of naughty boy in his time, using bits of racist language in his early days, and being generally unpredictable and absent on the job throughout his career. His behaviour has been loose, and he’s been at times economical with the truth. He’s a comic character and a free spirit. His career as London mayor Was generally successful. He brought people together. He’s probably hurt people, and been selfish, but he also brings a smile to an occasion. He belongs to a privileged class, but he’s a born adventurer. I’m not his biggest fan, but he’s a social liberal, and always has been. If I was forced to describe myself without affectation or rumour, I’d consider myself to be in the same bracket.
His enemies, mainly in the capital and in the lynch mob on Twitter, generally foul-mouth him, but to be fair, he’s not some kind of loose fascist. His actions don’t ever seem to be spiteful or anti-social, like some people try to infer. I’m not going to endorse his every murmer, who would? I’m just asking some people to stand back from sounding like the front page of the some lurid tabloid pantomime. Or some front pages of the Daily Worker. This is Britain, and Guy Burgess is dead. Be reasoned about what’s actually possible. The country doesn’t always need to be run by John Major, Gordon Brown or James Callahan. A lot of his comment is satirical, which comes naturally to him. That seems to be an innate quality. It’s not always PC either, which is why I sometimes appreciate his style.
I think that he’s been very clumsy with the Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe affair, and in supporting Erdogan in Turkey, and absolutely wrong to be onside with Erdogan against the Kurds. That’s unforgivable, (although we have to be aware of the geopolitics between the West, Turkey, Iraq and Iran), and I can’t see myself in any of those political positions, but I still think that he’s the only man for the job in the current parliament. His energy is obvious and boundless. I wouldn’t be comfortable with any of the rest in charge. It’s too serious right now. We need someone who’s been in charge before.
The rest are all a pack of ditherers, and we’d be back to cynicism. On the opposing benches, Starmer is a pale version of a technocrat, and uninspiring; as a speaker, he’s little more than perfunctory lawyer; and not many of those who consider themselves as ‘leader’ on his side of the aisle would actually come close to being up for the job. There’s no one there who you could say embodies the national spirit as well as Johnson. Lisa Nandy is probably the most honest the opposition has; at least she absolutely knew what was happening before the election. The rest of the opposition were seemingly delusional.
Actually, Johnson’s liberalism has slightly let him down in this current situation. He’s been loath to lock the country down, or use the police until recently, for instance. He should have shut down earlier, (I was shut down at home here on March 3rd), but that would have been against his religion, and might really have tested the population to failure by now. It’s easy to echo the Twitter terraces, and call him a c**t, but d’you really think that that’s intelligent criticism? Or correct? Or serves any purpose other than to show yourself up as being intolerant, utterly uninformed, and opposed to anyone except who YOU would want to take the reins…! The howling Twitter mobs didn’t decide who should lead Britain, neither did the ‘old’. The people decided they’d put their trust in someone who was energetic enough to end the dithering.
Covid 19, Parliament and Johnson
There’s a lot of hardship being experienced at this moment, particularly by people in medicine who are working hard to rescue as many of us as possible, and what needs to be understood, is.. (and IMO, nobody actually says it like it should be said, ie… ‘Whatever you do today will be reflected in the number of dead in three weeks time’). In any responsible society, care has to be taken with the most fragile lives. Locking an entire population down obviously has to be timed, and is fraught with difficulties and questions about liberty versus martial law in civil crises.
From a ‘free will’ libertarian standpoint, it would always have been about trying to pick the right moment to secure national approval for urgent mass action.. To repeat myself, Johnson has always been a social liberal; he was always going to do this by committee, and he’s the only PM we’ve got. The recent clique of Hammond, Gawke, Leslie, Grieve, Swinson, Starmer, Corbyn, Woolerton, Soubry and Letwin, etc., actually put him there, and they’ll carry that with them into history. Still dithering. Enough roy! No need. Stupid boy.
Johnson’s not personally been heavy handed during this emergency. That’s not his style. He WAS operating according to the science, although the scientists then questioned the route they were taking, and seemed to change course at the very moment that the world suddenly needed whole body PPE, and found themselves at the back of queues that they could have been at the front of!.
The fact that there shouldn’t be a queue is another bucket of worms. The scientists thought that they could do it an easier way, by letting the population do it – by becoming mildly sick and developing so called ‘herd immunity’. That has nothing to do with Johnson, unless you think that he ought to be chief scientist as well as PM.
However, it seems that when they checked the modeling, and reassessed the disease, its virulence, and the oncoming statistics, it probably became very clear that too many more were likely to die under the ‘herd immunity’ strategy. It would seem to be that the consequences of that U-turn have left more medical staff in danger of infection, because the position they could have had in the queue for chemical agents/materials and PPE had been relinquished; and the consequences of that are that there are now less of those materials available in the ‘market place’. Johnson isn’t going to blame the scientists for that. This is a journey that we’re all taking together.
It may be that the route through science needed more testing! Apparently, a test of the NHS’s capacity to deal with a pandemic was tested in October 2016. It was called Exercise Cygnus. Between Oct ‘16 and March 30th 2017, it was decided that the NHS had failed the exercise. Theresa May’s government failed to follow up on that. Jeremy Hunt, the then health secretary, obtained a total of £b28, after that, for the NHS, but how much of that was spent on respirators and PPE? More importantly, perhaps, how much heat was there in the Brexit debate at that time that deflected from the necessity to address that failed exercise, as well as other national exigencies? How loud were the voices that obliterated the urgent need to address a national health problem – that would surely have had more visibility but for such blocking and shrieking!? We’ll never know…
If you’d been reading my blogs for the past few years, you will know that while I’d publicly supported leaving Europe for 47 years+, I didn’t vote Leave because my granddaughter wanted to stay in Europe, and it’s now her world. I wasn’t going to negate her vote. My first estimate of Charles De Gaulle – (Potential EU progenitor at the time) was made in the 40’s and 50’s, when I was a boy. The impression he left on me has always guided my subsequent scepticism.
‘Rebels’, General Election 2019, Prevous Blogs and Friends
I appreciate what Johnson has done in giving Europe no further opportunity to plunder this particular island with impunity. Plus, it will be up to Europe as to whether they want to do a deal or not. I don’t particularly want to walk away, but the boot has definitely been on the other foot since the last election. A deal with Europe wasn’t going to be possible until all the faffing around and very public obstruction of parliament had been brought to an end by the 2019 election. As you will know, the (mainly Metropolitan London) Establishment/parliament, had to literally be sacked.
It’s now become possible for a decent deal to happen between what European partnerships are left standing after this economically disastrous disease has run its course. Which may take years. Just to make this clear, I haven’t regarded the eurosceptics as being The Establishment for at least a couple of decades now. How could they be? They’ve been fighting the Establishment for at least twenty years. Similarly, the word ‘rebel’ was, for 3 years, being used to describe people, (above) who were clearly establishment. It’s people like me, and the average ex-miner, in our own very small way, who are the rebels, not people like Philip Hammond or Dominic Grieve.
Rebels my arse, they were stuck to Europe like clams! Apologies for that show of wroth, but you couldn’t get more establishment than they were. (You heard this here first. The appropriation of the word ‘rebel’ to describe people who were as straight laced as it’s possible to be, really angered me for 3 and a half years! Propaganda by a state that’s now being gradually deposed. Fake nomenclature! Misnomer. Cognitive dissonance again, up the garden path). My own view of politics was mangled in this process. I obviously didn’t belong where I thought I did! It was very disappointing. When Johnson won, I didn’t want to gloat. I didn’t want to score any political points. Far from it, I was displaced, and a bit lost.. And again, for the umpteenth time in my life, there’s a chance that I’ll be disowned. For realising what was going on, and writing about it. And having an opinion that’s not fashionable in what used to be my own circle of friends and acquaintances.
I’ve documented a lot of this in previous blogs. They’re in folders denoted by year, not by title. There aren’t many of them. They all mark a particular time. (Not all the titles are obvious and selectable. Some of them are hidden under the first blog written in each year. From memory, I think that 2017 is one such year, the first essay being in the January of that year, and the rest, of that years’ blogs, underneath it).
I tended, increasingly, towards the end of writing those blogs, to want to withdraw, (from writing them), because my perception was that it wasn’t my world any more; that my world was elsewhere. They’re now ancient history. Non-the-less, I’ve made copious notes since, and recorded hours of radio and tv during this last 4 years. If I ever have to write the book, rather than writing the songs, I will. Hopefully, though, it’s now in the past, and we can move on. Please.
You can open up a discussion about freedom of movement if you like, but I think, increasingly, that after this pandemic, that might well become a mute point. Actually, possibly a white elephant. Please, let’s move on. I no longer want to write about this. Or be confronted with it. If the vote had gone in the opposite direction nearly four years ago, it would be virtually dead now. At least for a whole generation. I don’t want to talk about this any longer, let alone write about it, but I find that I’m having to defend myself. Largely for owning up, and being honest about my opinion. I don’t want that any more. It’s an encumberance. I need to think about something else.
China and Too Many Questions – Testing For Covid 19
Because of a typical, obvious and outrageous health issue, China has partially destroyed its major markets, or – taken a ‘Great Step Forward’… take your pick.. And presented the human world with a new threat. Will they be held to book? Will anyone mention anything to them at all. Will China’s trading partners insist that they no longer attempt to cross bats with anteaters? I’ve heard it said that the Chinese will eat anything on the table, except the legs! Am I in trouble again for this comment? Is it racist? Xenophobic? Or is it just old fashioned humour? Who knows anymore?… Will a treaty be drawn up? Which nation will betray the treaty first? Life will continue. Hiding from the continued attack of a swarming, mutating, myriad tentacled, massive alien. Now and then.
Life is all a matter of perception in any case; and a fantastic experience, in lockdown or not.
I’m just as confused as anyone else about testing for the disease. There seems to be enough agent/material to make tests, otherwise they wouldn’t be constantly saying that they’ll ‘ramp them up’. Is it a question of manufacture? How can government completely standardise kits that are being made in small amounts by by a multitude of manufacturers? Is that a problem, and if so, why? Where does the responsibility lie for efficacious testing product between a vacuum cleaner manufacturer, a laboratory, a hospital and a government?
Are nations secretly fighting nations at the back doors of chemi labs? Is money talking again? Is there really enough agent/material to make millions? Have they changed strategy again, because they’ve re-modelled another course? Is there an element of the agent/material that’s difficult to obtain? If so, are they not telling us for political reasons? Or moral considerations? Is an element being blocked? What kind of bottlenecks exist? How suspect is the science? Has it already changed? Are the politicians protecting the scientists? Are they seeing something no one else can see, because of particular science/modelling? Is the picture still too confused?
The government are about two days ahead of us in terms of announcements of stats etc. Is there a sudden rush to the West Midlands that we’re not being told about yet? What expedients are being utilised? Are areas being treated differently? Is a partial experiment naturally being presented to the scientists, because what happened in London can now be modified in the West Midlands? Or The North East? Or Blackpool South? (As opposed to North). This doesn’t smell so much of incompetence, rather more like timing between tests for the disease and/or later, better tests for the antibodies.
Because I’m not a scientist, I don’t know how much the one might interfere with the other if they were being used in the same region but in different processes. What happens if you test negative to the antigen, but you then have antibodies? Presumably, the test for the antigen is wrong, is it? What might the science be saying? I’m thinking right now that they don’t have tests that are 100% accurate, either for antigens or antibodies, and as Prof. Chris Whittey said this afternoon (last Sunday), they need time yet to be able to harvest the better antibodies that’ll build up in the population in a few weeks time, (from those people who have had the disease).
Although there’s been a switch of tactics, there remains a general consensus on the strategy. Anyone who has not been following government advice delivered by Chris Whittey, Richard Vallance and Johnson are endangering their community and their country’s forward progress.
This Page, and Political Point Scoring: and Europe
This page was NOT particularly set up as a political soapbox. And in particular not to alienate the great majority of the population. It was set up to impart a lifetime of wonder and reflection. Often it does stray into opinion, but I always make the effort to try to be as factual and even handed as I can be. It was not set up to perpetually bark into any particular tiny political corner of so-called civilisation, nor to polarise people.
And especially not at a time like this, when social cohesion is at its most needed, and thoughtful actions are the order of the day. The more you try to score a political point, the more you should be ignored. (I’d really love to ignore some of the things I’ve written; about 14 paragraphs back. I probably need some kind help). I see and hear all kinds of people dying to score political points all day long right now, but unless they attempt to bring actual help with them, emotional or practical, they are just being bloody minded and really boring.
There are known culprits. Some of them skulk around on pages like this, others droop around in parliament, while other drones are in receipt of high honours, or in other prominent places. Whole areas of Twitter are awful places right now. So unbalanced. As if Kier Starmer could take over, wave a wand and less people would die! If I could interrupt the groaning righteous Twitterfeeders for one moment with one message right now, it would be GET A GRIP! The minute I see or hear doom mongers and lurkers making political points now, I turn the sound off the radio or TV. I won’t name anyone. That would destroy the whole point of writing these last two paragraphs. This is a time when the pot needs to call the kettle quits.
Well, that is, except for Trump, who has now completely resorted to type, becoming a PPE pirate, by invoking what he called the Defence Production Act. 3M, who make the masks in the US, are not pleased with him. Trump invoked the Defense Production Act (DPA)
That such an idiot should be wasting the space he stands in every day to read out lists of his favourite ‘companies’ is an indictment of the nature of the species. He’s nothing to do with me!”, I hear you cry. Mm.. But tonight I had to agree with him. For once. Boris doesn’t need to be sacificed. There’s no one in that parliament, or, I’d vouch, in these countries, who can unite people like he’s going to be able to do. He’d be a great loss. He’s the only one who has authority. He’s the only one who has the authority of the people. You might think that I’ve gone mad. That I’m demented, but a majority of eighty odd seats in any British parliament tells some kind of a story.
I don’t often go with the majority, but it’s not like that. They just happen to have landed where I’ve been since 1948, when I first heard what Charles De Gaulle was saying. With unmistakable contempt. As a matter of fact, he was right. (About the mismatches between British and French culture, way of life, values, politics, sensibilities and attitude). He’d got to know us because of the time he’d spent here during the war. And although ‘Les Anglo Saxons’, (he included the Americans in that), had freed France, neither side trusted the other, which was to go on for much longer than my boyhood. And is in large part due to the haughty arrogance of De Gaulle. I was spat on twice, in my hitch hiking days in France, “Bosch!,” one of them said, under his breath. I had blond hair and blue eyes.
(I would visit France again, given the opportunity. France is a beautiful country, and French culture is a mainstay of historic Europe, plus there is much to see, take in, and admire. This has no bearing on my Euroscepticism. Added 31/4/20).
Think Before You Move..
There is much disagreement underneath this furious Twitter society at present, but let me just say that there is only one Prime Minister, and like him or not, the small ‘c’ conservative working population, most of them ‘left’ of traditional centre, put him there. In view of ‘Cognitive Ambiguity’, they had to. Sometimes I don’t like him, but he’s a hands on guy whose modus is to get stuck in. He’s obviously been so stuck in he’s become infected. He’s what they call ‘a good ol’ boy’ back in Luthersberg, with an good grade in ancient literature.
10 Downing St wasn’t designed for social distancing. Nor was he…… …I can hear you thinking. Some of you. …well don’t go there. Pointless.. I’ll maybe try to address it, but right now, he’s stolen the workable bits of Labour’s playbook, and he’s left of Blair. And the world HAD to change. Didn’t it? And Rishi Sunak could be a breath of fresh air. ‘Could be’ is a good phrase, isn’t it? Absolute licence. I don’t trust many of them in that party. Same with the other side.
Finally, good luck everyone; pull together and be well. Don’t take any chances. Think before you move. Be aware at all times; i.e., never forget where you are, or what you’re touching, or what’s around you. Try not to be so distracted that you forget about the poison that’s around you. Wear gloves, and a mask if you can, and disinfect everything at the door, including the gloves. I’m holed up until there’s a vaccine.
PS. I’ll never vote Conservative, nor Labour, and certainly not Starmer, and the satsumas have gone off. They’ll have been in the bowl too long in a couple of days. I’d vote Green.. perhaps.. Mm, maybe.. … white sticks.. again.. (next blog). I’d vote for extinction, if it was on the ballot, especially if I could be guaranteed the survival of the spotted flycatcher in my locality. They’ve not been here.. for many a year.. now.
From scribblings started on April 1st 2020
PPS. Over the last four years, I’ve become apolitical – one issue at a time. Tonight I’m going to down a wee dram for Boris Johnson. I wish him back to full health ASAP. I never thought, five years ago, that I’d say this, but, To Boris! (That was last night. I wasn’t going to post this, but I decided that I had to).