Lock Down

Locked down, on my own, no one but me

No hello, no why? No, just not anything.

How I wish I were with someone, anyone, especially you

But I’m not, I’m locked down with me.

I’m locked down, what does this mean? Lock down.

A lonely prisoner locked down on my own

I don’t even like myself, at least not too much

I am afraid of myself if I let myself go and scream!

I wish I could be locked down with you

I don’t know who you are, but it’s you I want

I want to be free, to be with someone I know but don’t

So I can be surprised by our startling face ups.

If I was locked up with you, would you be nice to me?

Would you be nice enough, to be nice to.

Being in lock down on my own, is good, it’s cool

Because I know I am alone and free.

Boing in lockdown, I can pray, and write a poem

I can wish, to meet all my other me’s.

I can imagine, imagine this and that

And be in love, with whoever I may want to be.

What do you think Brexit means?

–The European Union has developed from a trading bloc concept post second world war to the political union institution of today. It started as a trading proposal and then developed into a political union. The treaty of Lisbon 2007 replaced the EU’s key treaties — the 1957 Treaty of Rome primarily and conceptually a trading agreement, and the treaties of Maastricht (1992), Amsterdam (1996) and Nice (2000) Each step following on from the treaty of Rome has moved closer and closer to a federal Europe. Indeed the treaty of Lisbon is the accepted foundation of a Federal European Constitution.


The idea of a political and eventually a federal Europe has above all been the most effective way of keeping the peace in Europe, and in many ways expanding the idea of democracy to former communist and totalitarian states. This has undoubtedly been an enormous boon to the peaceful advance of Europe as a whole. The other benefits are that Europe has a much stronger voice in world affairs and much more clout when it comes to both soft and hard influence.


The Lisbon treaty has laid down the primacy of the European institutions over, (though shared in some limited issues), national sovereign governments. The European Union’s exclusive decision making encompasses the customs union, competition rules, monetary policy over euro members, common fisheries policy, commercial and international policies. This effectively means that the EU centre has primacy over all things regarding the internal market including, social policy, territorial cohesion, agriculture and fisheries, environment, consumer protection, transport trans-European network energy, freedom security and justice, public health.
Individual states are left with a much modified freedom of legislation. The greatest change has been the introduction of the Euro as a common currency, a massive operation that was implemented in a political euphoria that resulted in catastrophic economic consequences for the PIGS, (Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain). Portugal has been the first to begin recovery from this catastrophic politically motivated financial change. The desire to spread the economic unity of a single currency remains one of the most intransigent issues which the EU faces. There are eleven currencies in the EU presently and all except two, UK and Denmark are bound to accept the Euro as their currency. The European Central Bank will therefore hold sway and all the member states who will eventually have to accede to fiscal union, i.e. The ECB will have the last word on budgets and thus austerity or expansion.


There are rules which govern the translation of national currencies to the Euro. Hopefully lessons of the past (Greece et al) will be learned. This is where many Euro sceptics shy away from the Federation idea, clearly to have a currency union will require the surrender of national decision making (sovereignty).


The other argument that is a worry to some, is the overall primacy of the EU in commercial policy. In the interests of the common customs union and other trading matters, the EU is defensive as well as enterprising. The EU whilst protecting its internal market, restricts access to other external markets and insists on unity of trading principles from all its members. Membership restricts members’ ability to exploit their individual specialist skills or knowledge – another Euro sceptic objection. Defence and Food industries (agriculture and fisheries) are two which are particularly sensitive to non-European opportunity.


Whilst the Pound Sterling remains outside the Euro, and the UK dominates the defence scene in Europe (which is quickly changing), the issues of international defence relationships are also vexed questions, particularly to the UK, which with France, is a permanent member of the Security Council. . The relationships of NATO and with the United States are confused with the EU aspiring to flex its own muscles on the world stage. Good or bad? Probably the former in the longer term, but there are serious issues with some member states who seem not prepared to invest in defence but still want the collective protection.


Many of the European states are keen to accept the democratic ideal, though several still have autocratic and populist aspirations. Here membership of the EU is an undoubted force for progressive good. However, the cumbersome nature of many national ideas is also a hindrance to unity and deftness to respond speedily in a very dangerous world. The strong will need to surrender their leadership international roles and be more sensitive to consensus politics. Leadership of the EU is now vested in France and Germany, how long will that be comfortable for the smaller nations.


One of the great planks of the European idea is freedom of movement and this was one of the emotive issues when the UK held its in/out referendum. The awareness of the good of immigration, has since dawned on the British public, and perhaps this has become a lesser-issue for many, but not for all. Control of our borders is a cry not only of the UK but many EU countries in the light of mass migration from the Middle East and Africa. This issue is not going to go away and seemingly will affect all nations for the foreseeable future.


The European Court of Justice is clearly an important pillar of European integration, there is much confusion in the minds of many that the Court is involved in minor admin, (e.g. the price and shape of bananas) and whilst no doubt the Brussels community is a humungous beurocracy the Court plays an essential role in the furtherance of judicial rules across the EU.


In this blog I have tried to draw attention to some of the pros and cons of the European dilemma. Not the British dilemma, which courts division, the breakup of the union, and much risk besides. One thing is for certain that if the UK leaves the EU it will have a detrimental effect both in the UK and the EU. There will be a shrinkage of the EU economy, and the UK which currently makes up 17% of the EU economy,will certainly find, at least in the short term, some very difficult issues in the financial services and agricultural industries in particular.


The possibility of the reunification of Ireland is a problem that nobody wants to face, yet it may be the only answer to the Irish problem. That would prove a detrimental financial blow to the Republic of Ireland and there is no real support there for such a move. The UK on the other hand, could foresee the unification of Ireland as a boon, since Northern Ireland has a substantial fiscal deficit running into billions of pounds/euros.

Scotland also may opt to have another vote for cessation from the Union, which if granted in the earlier days of withdrawal from the EU, could swing away and cause a huge uproar in constitutional and legal affairs in the UK. The Welsh who have the greatest fiscal deficit (per head of population) may well agitate for independence, but reality makes such an aspiration unlikely to succeed.


So there are great risks on both the EU and UK sides. Whist there have been many divisive shrieks from both sides of the Brexit arguments, no one can prophesy the future with any certainty.


In sketching the threats and opportunities that face us all, I hope some will be given food for thought.

The magic money tree and other delusions of the great British revival.

Brexit, here we go again, why?  Boris and Jeremy are both promising to take UK out of the EU, no matter what. (respecting democracy they say). Additionally they are both promising all sorts of goodies in the form of  giveaways such as tax reductions,  National Insurance thresholds, not to mention corporation tax.

What complete nonsense! We need to take note of these wild promises, not only because they are undo-able, but because both candidates have a warped idea of what leaving the EU means and where on earth the promised money is to come from. 

We know for sure that the consequence of the UK leaving the EU will result in further confusion, even worse if we have a ‘no deal’ exit.  So how are these guys going to shake the magic money tree?

Well of course they could save money from areas such as defence, overseas aid, abandoning our nuclear submarines and withdrawing from our overseas missions.  Where else are we to find money to improve education, law and order, the NHS, Social care etc etc.

There is confusion here.  Are we leaving the EU so that UK can trade freely, generate growth in the longer term and remain a first class power, retain our seat on the UN security council, remain a nuclear power in defence terms, remain a leading partner in NATO?

At the same time we are to suffer, certainly in the short term a decline in national wealth.  If Boris and Jeremy want to put the Great back into Great Britain then they have to square the circle.  Both candidates for the leadership of the Conservative party are either fibbers or magicians.

Neither has been brave enough to say, “Look, we’re going to take a substantial hit, but it is going to be worth it in the longer run. What we want to achieve is a new UK which will surely lose its hard power because we can’t afford it, but we can recover and attain soft power through trade and a limited international presence. There is no magic money tree, we all have to work and aspire to become the future independent and prosperous UK”

What is the vision?  I wish they would tell us.  No wonder we say Bah! to politicians!

Boris for a day – it’s dark out there!

Telling the future is always hazardous, but I am prepared to bet that Boris the boorish philanderer will be come Prime Minister of UK. Happily though, it will only be for a day or two at the most. Surely, if Boris gets in, and the blue rinse Tories are daft enough to get him there, there will be a vote of no confidence and a general election will follow.

The bad news is the chaos that will follow that. It is hard to imagine, but the options are not pretty. A hot bed of Lib Dems, the Brexit party run by Nigel Farage, the tail end of Labour, or maybe the resurgence of a more moderate Labour, an active and insurgent SNP and a minority of Tories of whatever hue. It seems most likely that the mother of parliaments will become the home of a huge mix of political variations with a coalition being paramount. The key issue of ‘Brexit’ will remain the elephant in the chamber, it depends if the Brexit alliance can hold the rest at bay.

The numbers, that’s the issue. Despite the apparent huge changes the UK will be in the same boat. The one item/personality that can change all this is not Boris but Nigel Farage.

The next general election will be fought as another referendum on Brexit, like it or not! Let us hope the electorate vote decisively one way or another. This is where my future prophesying lapses.

The prospect of Nigel Farage is one I might contemplate down in the Pub, but not for more than a millisecond, who else do I see on the horizon. It’s dark out there.

 

The blind leading the blind.

Having watched last night’s debate with five conservative hopefuls to fill the hapless gap left by Mrs. May, I am astonished that not one of these candidates has the foggiest idea how to deliver what they promise.

Boris Johnson was clearly the best, at not answering questions at all, he just bumbled along assuring us it was completely unimportant that he condemned Nazanin Zaghari Ratcliffe to a double term in an Iranian jail. In fact, he said, it was the Iranians fault in the first place and what he said as Foreign Secretary was neither here or there. Can you believe that?

Believe it or not, not one of his opponents picked him up on this. How can they possibly tolerate such clear idiocy from Boris or anyone else. I was hugely disappointed that Jeremy Hunt did not pick up on this.

It seemed to me, they all, with the exception of Rory Stewart, were toadying to Boris as the inevitable winner and next prime minister for places in his cabinet.

What a complete farce, nobody knows how to deliver Brexit, and nobody will tell us what they are going to do to manage the UK’s EU exit.

On other policies, they were all suitably vague and united, again except for Stewart, on giving away loads of money on tax breaks.

I don’t know if they turned out just to show how useless they all are, but they certainly succeeded.

Boris, backwards to the ruling class.

So, we really do need a posh bullshit merchant to bluster our way to Brexit! So it seems, if you believe the results of the first conservative election results. I think it speaks volumes about the Conservative MP’s who are scared to death of losing their jobs. Dear Boris launched his campaign saying nothing except possibly “Tally ho! follow me!”

He followed this baloney with claims of his success as the Mayor of London, carefully avoiding some of his positively gargantuan cock-ups. He then took questions which he entirely ignored with one exception, and continued his bluster about what a good man he is . Tally ho! Bullingdon Club lads to the fore.

I can never forgive Boris for his dreadful betrayal of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, by a total disregard for his responsibility, his off the cuff stupidity and his downright arrogance.

If the conservative rank and file are stupid enough to support this nomination I for one will never vote Tory again.

Israel Folau – free speech?

Israel Folau has been fired by the Australian RFC for making his thoughts known about homosexuality. Firstly this is very bad news for the Australian team preparing for the upcoming IRU World Cup. That aside, the issue here is not what Folau said but what Folau is allowed to say as a citizen of the free world.

I understand he made a comment that folk who conduct themselves in a way that is prescribed in his religion will go to hell, where ever that is? I am not knowingly a member or of a behaviour type to receive Mr Folau’s wrath, nor can I remember the full list of those condemned to hell. Nor am I concerned.

What does concern me is that this excellent athlete has stated his religious views and everyone is free to agree with or disagree with him. Personally I disagree, but I absolutely believe he has the right to express his religious views if they do not incite hatred or encourage malevolence.

Going to hell, seems not the most desirable place to end up, but hey, you believe what you believe. The statement does not imply any other imposition of punishment of any form on this earth – so what is the problem? The statement he made says much about Israel Folau, he is a religious man who lives by strictly defined values. He may be at at odds with some of us, but surely that is not only acceptable, it has to be his right to express himself.

I hope the Australian Rugby Football Union relent and practice what they preach which is an inclusive organisation, both for ideas, free speech as well and sexuality.

Brexit, failure or ambition.

David Cameron has tucked his £800,000 advance up his shirt and walked away from the biggest political upheaval the UK has ever seen. I sincerely hope that as few as possible buy his book which no doubt will point to his genius and integrity in creating this major cock up. Whilst not mentioning Libya (another huge mess) he will no doubt point to his achievements as he sees them. How anybody can be remotely interested in this failed ‘has been’ is beyond me.

Nevertheless, President Macron’s impassioned plea for the goodness intrinsic to the idea of the EU is a compelling one. He does not labour on the failures such as the PIGS bankruptcy and unemployment, but he does claim the Euro has been a success with which I heartily disagree.

What went wrong then? Now we have no end of dissent about both the purpose and the practice of the European idea. The Brits are clearly fed up, many for the wrong reasons. The Austrians, Hungarians and Poles have perniciously right wing governments and dissatisfaction with the EU is widely the rule.

There is a clear disconnect between the ‘man in the street’ and the European Union as a consciousness of belonging to something of worth. Brussels appears as a nightmarish bureaucracy populated by greedy politicians who are profligate in the extreme. Easily dis-likeable and easily pilloried.

Cameron recognised the dis-like and the dissent but he washed his hands of the whole affair and committed to a referendum nobody (except perhaps Nigel Farage. ) wanted. He presumed, I think, that remain would win and all would be well. That they did not, came, I’m sure, as a a complete surprise, and off marched DC the victim of his own innocence and naivety.

Is it too late to turn back the clock? Since the referendum no one has a solution to a problem nobody wanted. Impasse!,

Please will somebody – anybody – attempt to clarify what is good about the EU and what is bad about the EU, and what would be needed to improve the institution. The idea of the EU – unity, peace and concord, – good. Practice – graft, gravy train, issues with borders, law and order, defence, unification of standards – vary from very good to very bad.

Why is the reversion to so called sovereign status good, why is nationalism bad?

All I know is faffing about doing nothing is bad.

Brexit means Exit!

We know what we know, we are aware of some of what we don’t know, and we don’t know what we don’t know.  So why does everyone say “now we know what happens when we leave the EU.” Oh no we don’t – sheer fantasy like the Boris’ big bus.  

As I have said many times before ‘he who tells the future tells lies’.  Actually, he tells what he wants us to believe and he, whoever he is, is seldom right. 

The fact remains that the idiot Cameron allowed the uninformed to make a choice that was, and is, very unclear.  He offered the in/out option and the people in vast numbers voted, the majority for out.  Oh what a bugger!  Not what David of the shiny face wanted!

Enter stage left the dreaded Blair the man who misled the country so wilfully into Iraq.  He’s now mincing around Europe canvassing the EU to make our exit so difficult we’ll have no choice other than to cancel after what he says will be a positive peoples  vote.

If ever there was a motive to stick with the majority this is it, this deplorable truth spinner who’s made vast sums parading his ego as the saviour of the centre ground.  He has much in common with Macron who also has a ‘God’ syndrome.

No my friends, we voted out, no way back, out without a deal or with a deal, the people have spoken. It might be they spoke rubbish but it doesn’t matter its called democracy.  If you have another idea, maybe a Trump PM, or the loony left, take your pick. Me, I’m for believing in democracy even if the direction might be flawed.

Anyway who knows? I for one don’t know what I don’t know!

There’s none so deaf that will not hear!

The UK is transfixed with Brexit which is understandable, but just take a minute to look around and see what chaos rains across the European Union.

France is in chaos, Germany uncertain, PIGS broke, the Euro uncertain, the world environment being trampled over by not only Trump but several of his kind in the EU, and we worry about Brexit!  Even worse a range of people who should know better keep on prophesying doom and gloom and no one seems to think there can be any upside to leaving the EU.

It’s time for calm thinking.  The EU dream is all but dead, coming apart at the seams, and it is fair to say that the UK is one of the main causes or at least one of the main  manifestations of this unravelling.

The Brits for all their faults, are smarter than many think.  There is no doubt that the EU will suffer enormously from the British exit, far more that the UK.  In areas like technology, research, defence and intelligence the UK is miles ahead of its peers in the EU.  In terms of finance and banking London holds sway and will continue to do so. Yes there will be short term disturbance of all the markets but it will settle and the UK will be substantially better off without its levies to the EU, with opportunity to trade fairly and widely inside and outside the EU.

Hopefully the vicar’s daughter in Downing Street will be replaced by a leader of imagination and charisma that can exploit the great opportunities that will doubtless come.  It will not be too long before the gigantic bureaucracy that is Brussels will be knocking on the UK door seeking advice and succour on any number of fronts from defence to technology.

The French always resisted the entry of GB into the European fold.  There is little to choose between the posturing Macron and the elegant but strutting de Gaul.  Their attitudes remain unchanged, in wanting to see the resurgence of an imperial France as a joint European leader without the Brits who have always retained more soft power. The french dig up the streets in protest the Brits just wring their hands. 

The real disadvantage of the unravelling of the EU is not so much the UK’s withdrawal as the rise of populism throughout Southern Europe. The stability that the EFTA and EU  imposed has been comforting, but the rise in the uneven material wealth in Hungary, Roumania, Greece and say Germany has given rise to enormous dissatisfaction and the rise to this uneasy populism. Instead of de-emphasising nationalism the failure of the EU’s fiscal system has exaggerated it.  The whole political ideal of Delors has been or is being turned on its head.  

In the UK referendum many people voted to leave for the reasons they perceived to be the most crucial.  Those who have least feared they would lose most and voted primarily against the free movement of people which they saw as a strain on the UK welfare and NHS.  Now that the reality of world economic migration is striking home everyone has a much more reasoned view of migration in general.  Immigration is no longer the issue it was. Nonetheless the great majority of Brits are loath to change their minds.  The population seems at odds with Parliamentarians who are as ever more cautious and unadventurous than the great majority. Democracy strikes again!

The question is should MP’s vote as their constituents tell them or vote according to their conscience. An impasse!  How the French love that word – but the people say “Let’s go, the world awaits.”

Brexit – we arrived exactly as this blog predicted.

The chaos that passes for our parliamentary democracy is the direct result of the dreadful political error in allowing a binary choice in a grossly over simplified referendum.  This has been compounding by the dogged but narrow minded Prime Minister May mismanaging the consequent negotiations to leave the European Union.

I wrote about what to expect back in May 2016 see my blog “Cameron – democracy what a chancer”  I then prophesied what was to happen and by and large I was almost precisely correct.

What I could not prophesy was that Mrs. May would call a disastrous election and then personally manage the negotiations with the EU from the view point of the vicar’s daughter she is.  That is to say, she set off by seeking to agree to what the EU wanted because she was sorry we were to leave.  Perhaps, it would have been better to have set out by adopting the stance that the UK was leaving and this is what the UK expected to happen.  I am not suggesting that the difference in the two approaches are apocalyptic but the nuance and difference has proved to be crucial.  She has allowed the EU to turn the screw and now we find ourselves with a deal that nobody except the PM finds palatable.

I have a feeling that many people will want to see the ‘May’ proposal rejected by Parliament and negotiations reopened after an extension to the article 50 period.

The EU will say no, of course, as they will try to press their advantage, but they may be chastened by the closeness of opinion and the growth in the likelyhood of the ‘no deal’ option.

If the PM prevails then we can only hope that in the fulness of time things will move on to new ideas and new partnerships. This is a big ‘what if’ issue the preliminary agreement is seeded very much in the EU’s favour. The current negotiations are preliminary but the EU has seeded them with one sided options which are the main object of disdain and revolt that has emboldened the Euro-sceptics. If these one-sided issues could be made less one sided and more equal then there would be far fewer opposition to the May proposals.  This may force the UK governments of the future to be in permanent state of angst against the EU.  Not an attractive proposition.

If it is not too late, Mrs. May has to be more assertive and go back to the table and negotiate away these one-sided  EU impositions, then she may became the saviour of the piece.

In the meantime the EU has plenty of problems of its own. Brexit will hurt both the departing and the depleted. Many feel the Euro and all that that implies will tumble and that the Brexit question will become in theory and practice much less crucial in the great scheme of things.

Not so surprising, Saudi Arabia?

I’ve been around a bit, and one of the most vivid memories was of my first visit to Jeddah in the 1970’s.  I was stuck by the strangeness of it all and even had a booking foul up which meant I was marooned over the weekend in Jeddah (Friday).  I wondered about and my curiosity was peaked by the crowd outside the rear of the Red Sea Palace Hotel.  I chanced upon the most revolting dehumanising thing I have ever witnessed, namely a public execution.  I did not tarry but scuttled off, shaken to the core.

Since then the Saudi regimes of the various so called royal rulers have continued to routinely chop off heads  of anyone who they disagree with or those who are deemed to have offended the religious beliefs of the Kingdom’s rulers.

Human rights have been and remain the last thing Saudi royal family consider.  They rule by fear and have no truck with the idea of self determination or even self expression.  The  idea of the noble Arab raising from the desert tribes is truly nonsense, and without oil Saudi Arabia would be nothing.  With oil it could be one of the best educated and progressive countries in the world, alas that has not turned out to be the case.

Are we surprised then when the Saudi regime bumps off in the cruellest way a dissenter. Sadly we are not, which begs the question of why does the West espouse the Saudi regime. The reasons are many, including not allowing China/Russia to have control over an important energy source, the biggest pocket book in the world to buy anything from fighters and bombs, as well as hospitals and luxury goods and property in London and Paris.  Also I believe an honest desire to influence these primeval Saudi rulers towards democracy and the respect of human rights.

Clearly this last objective has failed miserably.  The issues of the pocket book remain.  Who cares if the Saudis kill and maim and starve children in Yemen?  Nobody if they can make a buck from selling the Saudis militaria.  Should we care?

Please, I hope we do, and we should lobby our Parliamentarians to stop this trade no matter what the cost.  A Yemeni child or a Saudi journalist or those Saudi citizens  awaiting a barbarous beheading should be given the chance to live. What price on them?

Imagination vs Fear of the unknown. Brexit is certainly unknown.

There we have it, stay in Europe or strike out on our own.  So far we’ve had umpteen warnings of the catastrophes that will beset the UK if we come out of the EU, so far they haven’t happened.

I wrote two years ago that what has come to pass has indeed happened, quelle surprize! However the lack of leadership from all political parties has added immensely to the conundrum.  “He who tells the future tells lies.” (old Arab proverb) Bare it in mind and accept that we have no idea of what is going to happen.  Absolutely no idea.

There are some out there who feel that launching into the unknown is a crazy thing to do.  They have a point.  There are others who argue that independently the UK will be better off, controlling our trade, taxes, laws and borders.

The worst offenders in irrational arguments are the regional players in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland who keep barking on about the financial support they’ve received from the EU ignoring the fact that the UK as a whole is a net contributor.  The aggregate of their argument is that they get a better deal regionally from Brussels than they would from Westminster.  This is a curious argument from those who seek more local power and yet want to bow the knee to an unelected European commission.

The other great argument is about the motives of the Brits to leave the EU.  It is argued, probably authentically, that the great majority of voters voted for Brexit based on their xenophobic attitude toward immigration.  This sad but reflects the oversimplification of a yes/no referendum.  It also reflects poorly on the British sense of values.

We would all do well to go back to the core of the argument, i.e. Do we want to be ruled by an unelected council of ministers whose credo is ever more integration into their idea of a United States of Europe.

Me, no!  That’s it, you may want that, OK if the majority want that, that’s OK with me too.

Just keep in mind that if we leave we have to stride out and do our best to thrive. I hope in so doing we continue to welcome friends of every colour and creed.  I want to see my country thrive as an example of skill and adventure for the good not only of the UK but the world at large.  I just happen to believe that we will do this best as we Brits have done over the centuries.

 

Where Angels fear to tread.

I am very lucky to have many friends from many backgrounds, and they all matter to me. They matter as human beings and all of them slide in and out of focus according to our contact.

I wrote a blog a little while ago which agreed with the BLM campaign and since then I have learned a good deal more. That learning came about quite by chance. Last month in the garden of a lovely condo complex in St Kitts I got into conversation with four friends two of whom were ladies of colour from the USA. Both ladies are lovely to share time with, both mature, both beautiful, both extremely articulate.

The crucial stage of our discussion came when one of the ladies said, “Things are improving, for us in the USA.”

The other, replied, her voice raised “Why should they be improving, why do we need improvement? I’ll tell you why, because we’ve been treated like pieces of shit all my life, and I’m fed up with racism, every minute of every day.”

Her impassioned cry hit me hard, I saw in her anguish, the hurt of a whole life skewered on the horns of racism. I felt then, and I feel now like crying. I hope more people feel like crying, feel moved to do something to turn this ghastly sin of so many generations, What will it take?

“I’m going to vote for Trump.” she said.

After a sharp intake of breath, I implored, “Why, oh Why? You must be crazy!”

“I’m not crazy, another turn with Trump as President and the US will burst into flames and we’ll see real change. It’s the only way, there’s no middle road, the prejudice is too deep, we need to tear up the good old US of A and start again.” She smiled at me, “It’s the only way.”

My mind is blank, I pray she is wrong, I can do no more than weep.

Don’t pre-judge my prejudices.

Yes we all have them, prejudices. Racism is probably the most naturally occurring prejudices of all. We are all born into tribes, and belong intrinsically to that tribal group. We are brought up to respect our own as a primary behavioural response. We are in nature defensive to people from other tribes.

The more different the tribe the more defensive we become. The marks of difference are many and various, including but not exclusively, relative wealth, language, education, colour, religion, physique and many others.

Tribes have been fighting and murdering each other since time immemorial, as they do today in the Middle East, on the Chinese India border, and in the ghettoes of our huge cities.

There are ideological prejudices between democrat and totalitarian, between socialist and republican, and between rulers and the ruled, the exploited and the exploiters.

We all would do well to categorise our prejudices, to look inward and see ourselves as we really are. A collection of prejudices, not many of which paint us in a favourable light. If we take any one and encapsulate that in one anti-prejudicial catch all: Change!

We will improve ourselves, our tribe and our world.

All lives matter, History matters, our future matters.

Kneeling on the neck, “Shit, who cares! I’m a police man and I can do what the fuck I like. Specially to black folks!”

That’s what woke up the world. Imagining the beginning of man’s inhumanity to man. Another expression of superiority of race, one man over another.

The world as we know it was built on a series of wondrous adventures and artistic achievements, from the glories of the Benin kingdoms, through the Aztecs, the glories of India, the wonders of Aboriginal civilisations. Then through Greek and Roman philosophies and systems of governments through to the adventurous Victorians of England and their European competitors. Not to mention the contribution of modern America.

I’m sure this is not a comprehensive list of civilisations, excluding as it does the mighty and inventive civilisations of China and Japan and other Far Eastern cultures.

The issue today is, not how we got here, but how do we go forward? Yes we need to be aware how nasty we have been to each other, from the horrors of the Holocaust, to the ghastliness of Srebrenica, and to the capture and sales of 4 million Africans in to slavery. Slavery was and is not the exclusive sin of the Europeans. For everyone has espoused the practice from China to South America from Ancient Greece to the teachings of the prophet Muhammed. It continues today in West Africa, the USA, Europe and UK.. In brothels, nail bars and car washes, in the services of ships and bars, in the forests and mines of Africa, and many palaces throughout the world.

All these examples of man’s inhumanity to man are wrong, unjust, unspeakably evil. The world abounds with murderous states like Saudi Arabia, the Republic of Iran, who both routinely execute their citizens often for the most frivolous and capricious reasons.

It is clear then that man has consistently treated his fellows with contempt and unkindness. The question that faces all of us is how we treat the future and how we manage our histories.

Not all our civilisations are similar. I assume, for example, that the Saudis think that chopping criminals’ heads off in public is OK! Most civilisations think killing human beings is wrong. This is here and now.

Workers (usually low caste Indians) in the gulf states work in appalling conditions, many die struggling in impossibly hot temperatures. There are thousand upon thousands of women trapped in slavery round the world. This is here and now.

There are millions of Muslim Uighur and Kazakhs Chinese locked in ‘Correction camps in northern China’. This is here and now.

So while the action of thousands rightly support “The Black Lives matter” demonstrations, they must recognise that they have not the monopoly on righteousness. There are so many evil drivers in our world, some born long ago, many still thriving today.

I agree there is no excuse for evil deeds past or present, and I support wholeheartedly the will to change existing racism. Especially in the United States of America the leader of the modern world. I am far from sure that tearing down statues of men and women wrongly seen as heroes in their time, is doing anything other than hiding the past.

Whist the Vicar’s wife thought it Ok to hold shares in a sugar plantation, she was ignorant rather than evil, because she knew not what she did. Ignorance and fear led mankind into all sorts of cruelty, conflict, and inhuman murderous acts. We know these acts today as wrong. Even when the Church supported many inquisitions, the barbarous cruelty of some was swept under the carpet.

There is little doubt that the white races have treated the black races as inferior. This is an untenable lie. Yet this belief is commonly held by white men and women. The recent and persistent police murders of black citizens, has at last raised the common consciousness of the veil of racism. We can only hope that the veil will stay raised and real change will come about.

Remember, The evil that men do, lives after them, the good is oft interred with their bones.

Trump – a sacrilegious idiot.

Donald Trump having cleared the way through peaceful protesters with tear gas and truncheon wielding goons, has the nerve to pose in front of a Church holding a Christian Bible, and preaching hatred.

The guy is a massive buffoon, who has now really shown us that he respects no one. I am not a Christian, but I respect all religious beliefs that preach respect and love. That the POTUS could demean his role and behave in such scandalously self promoting peacock pose, is astonishing and the most disgusting gesture since the second world war.

I know that his posturing will appeal to some, but I do hope that most people see this goon for what he is. A self promoting half-witted idiot.

Please vote if you are an American, against TRUMP! Help save the world.

Violent protesters are voting for the status quo.

                                       We can see the USA turning the knife in its own gut.  The terrible and indefensible killing of George Floyd has let loose an understandable rage which itself has led to indefensible abuse from protesters and Police alike.

Firstly I have to admit that I think police brutality especially against Black Americans is common place and in all cases inexcusable. Whilst not all police in the USA are guilty of excessive violence, too many are.

Of course law enforcement is in the shadow of zero gun control, a fact that must make law enforcement at least most hazardous.  Nevertheless the culture of brutality that exists widely in the USA is an inescapable fact.  Not all policemen by any means are physically brutal or colour prejudiced, but many are.  This is self-evident.

I fear that the riotous behaviour of many of the protestors will influence the upcoming election in favour of the incumbent. (Hard to believe – I know.)  However history teaches us that non-violent protest swings opinion to the Democrats and vice versa. It is also a fact that violent protests, looting and destruction attract the most news worthy headlines.  Add these two things together and all Trump has to do is keep schstum, and the election will be his.

If America is to see positive change toward a less racist more harmonious society, it must embrace the idea of passive protest.  There is a need for leadership akin to Mahatma Ghandi and Luther King. Do I see such a leader or group of leaders emerging?  Sadly I do not.

So, the violent protesters and looters are allowing Trump to fiddle, while America continues to burn.

The Cummings and goings of Boris Johnson.

There was a time I was prepared to support Boris, yes, I knew he was a bit of a bounder, he lacked the command of detail but at least I thought he had a modicum of integrity.  Indeed I was encouraged when he seemed to take the brakes off austerity and pledge to support the newly converted labour supporters of the Northern ‘red wall’.

After a bumbling start we have been overwhelmed with the Corvid-19 virus and it has been obvious from the outset that the PM has no grasp of detail at all. He might have got away with that had he delegated to his Cabinet colleagues, (not all the sharpest tacks in the box), but no, Boris has become an introverted shambles who relies on a small coterie of advisers none of whom were elected.

One of the great lessons of leadership is you can make mistakes but you cannot forfeit trust.  Boris has scored a splendid hat-trick. He has mistrusted his technical (scientific advisors) he has not been decisive at all, he has bumbled and wasted time showing that he’s not so clever (one of his perceived electoral  advantages), and now he has allowed Cummings to break his own advice and thus forfeit the trust of the whole community.  He has proved to be one of the worst and inconsistent leaders of my lifetime.

It beggars belief that he has let slip the great good will with which he entered Downing Street.  Yes, of course, the pandemic is exceedingly difficult to manage, but nonetheless British democracy is based on an elected representative parliamentary democracy.  Boris has undermined this in very short order.

Why are these special advisers like Cummings allowed to dictate Government policy and then allowed to flout it?  I see no other reason than weak untrustworthy leadership. I do not like, one bit, the combination of Trump-like judgement and Xi like dictatorship in our British way of life.

Beyond the virus. Do we care?

What will it take to change our behaviour? This pandemic is merely a wake up call for our dying planet. Is this true and do we care?

Most measurements of our success are by the living standards of the economically rich. It is easy to see the chronic effects economically of the virus on trade, governance, health, labour, technology to name a few – and to consider where the balance of risk and opportunity may come out. It offers decision-makers a comprehensive picture of expected long-term changes, and inspiration to leverage the opportunities this crisis offers to improve the state of the world. Yet this pandemic is just one pestilence effecting our world at this time. About 150,000 people die in the world every day. By far the biggest killer is cardiovascular disease killing around 49,000 people each day. Corvid Virus so far has peaked at about 7,500 per day.

However the ice is melting, the fires are raging, the virus is screwing with the economy (oh we care!) but relatively speaking not killing as many people as Mr. Xi or Mr. Assad or the Taliban, or the many terrorists who cut throats, murder babies in their cots, or swindle the poor so that they die of thirst (4,300 per day), or for the want of a mosquito net. (e.g. 1,600 per day) Does anybody care?

Does anybody care that the lungs of the world are being cut down and burned with abandon each and every day in Borneo Brazil and Columbia and lots of other places too.. Does anybody care?

The planet is getting hotter, from Sydney to Sokato, from Carlisle to Columbia, floods, hurricanes, droughts and pestilence increase every year, Do we care?

One of the great reforms must be the growth and investment in IT and Platform enterprises. ” Platform Network effects are present when the value of a solution rises in proportion to the number of users that make use of that solution.  So, for example, a telephone is worthless if no one else uses them.  But additionally, the more users, the more people that can be contacted using a telephone, the more value that telephone has. In short, the value is not just in the machinery, it is in the network. They are in short ‘clean’ by nature.

The immense difference between non platform and platform enterprises is that for the most part it is heavily dependant on internet technology. The consequences are both wondrously beneficial but also radically different. One can see the simplest of massive change in retail and travel to name but a very small sample. Education must react to be up with these changes otherwise many will be swept away as the failed detritus of change. It is the platform enterprises that will offer the biggest employment opportunities in the future, of this we already have many examples in Silicon Valley.

As far as the planet is concerned we all are aware of the crisis that unfolds around us. Will we worry about restoring the status quo more than creating responsive change? Our race has a very poor track record, we have pillaged the planet, now we have been frightened by this contagion, but do we care enough to respond positively?

Sleep walking into the Chinese Juggernaut.

By and large I am not a conspiracist, and I was loath to accept, what I thought was a silly conspiracy theory, that China has set out to dominate the world. However, taking all the facts furnished by reputable liberal democratic sources, I am inclined to change my mind. The very act of changing one’s mind is in itself a difficult hurdle to jump, since we are all prejudiced by a range of dominant ideas that we carry around with us.

My dominant idea was (and largely remains) that Liberal Democracy will continue to flourish since this is patently to the overall benefit to mankind. I believe(d) that its intrinsic benefit to the human condition is self evident and will therefore always raise to the top of political choice.

Yet despite endless wars, and not least the collapse of the eastern wall, the proof was surely in the pudding. But look East now, China is dominating many parts of the developing world, China is driving technical capital i.e. Huwaie and 5G, as well as soft influence through soft loans to the new silk road and sea ways. China has spent over 3 trillion dollars to shackle so many emerging economies to long term unpayable debt.

China has without censure, imprisoned over a million Moslems in its gulag ‘correction’ camps. No word from the liberal democratic institutions like the UN. Xi has put himself in the impregnable position for life.

Many millions of Chinese work in slave labour conditions to make cheap products that dominate supply chains in the West. These can and are sometimes switched on and off according to Chinese whim.

China uses its commercial muscle to swot criticism from whatever source, you can see its response to the perfectly valid proposals of the Australian Government.

In a word, China is bullying the rest of the world. It is doing it because Xi sees himself as master of our world, economically and politically. He has no time for Liberal Democracy. He is walking over freedom in Hong Kong, has a domineering eye over Taiwan, is bossing Australia who have walked into his honey trap and is entirely dependent on China for a huge proportion of its export income for iron ore, coal, wine and agricultural supplies.

Liberal Democracy is hurt by the Corona Virus (make of that what you will) but it is being trampled over by Xi and his cronies aided by the lunatics Trump and Bolsonaro.

It was easy to sleep with my dominant idea, safe and sound. What now?

Caring for each other.

Around the world people are clapping to thank all those who are on the front line fighting Corvid-19. Many of us have been reminded how vulnerable our older folk are. This is just one of the multitude of problems, including everything from child care and school start-ups to complex supply chains to high street moratoria not to mention the knotty problem of the economic chaos that the pandemic has brought to us all.

The lock downs seem to come and go, with none of us sure if everyone or anyone has got it right.

As an oldy myself, I am not specially worried about dying from the virus, you have to die of something at my age, but the care community especially in the UK is in complete chaos and has been for the last half century. No political party wants to bite on the bullet of wrapping up social care with the National Health Service, the most sacred of all cows.

The reason for this shambles has been the changes that we’ve made in family life. Fifty years ago, I would have looked after my mum, not left it to someone else. Ninety years ago Grandma was put up by Mum and Dad in most households. Since the sixties times have changed, mobility has increased families are spread over vast distances. The fabric of the family has changed from when we used to visit Grandpa every Sunday, we now only see him perhaps four times a year.

The care word has transferred from family to State, the only snag being that the state has not responded other than pushing the care issue down the road to local government. Now Corvid-19 has exposed the UK’s hopelessly outmoded system, where underfunded local authorities are stretched to manage an ever growing burden of an aging population. You would have to be a donkey if you could not see the interdependency between the care of the elderly and the state of their health care. Yet, government after Government have kicked the can down the road.

So while we clap our good friends at the font line of care, let us not take our eye off the real issues which is the effective integration of the National Health Service and the National Care Service. If anything good comes from this Corvid-19 virus, may it be that we care for the whole of our nation with all our integrated resources of central government , not from cash strapped fragmented local authorities.

If any politician of any party drives a cross party commitment to such a long overdue reform, they should be heartily endorsed by us all.