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.

 

Putting down the mad dog.

President Putin, is clearly not balanced. He has become paranoid about his own role as a saviour of the Russian empire. He has become a pariah to most of the world with the support of a very few authoritarian ,so called , leaders. He is killing men women and children with apparent indifference, whilst the world looks on.

To some extent the free world is afraid to face up to this ‘mad dog’ because he has access to the largest nuclear assets in the world. What does that say about our international control system?

Our failure to defend the frees state that is Ukraine has been predicated on these awful facts. Namely a madman with nuclear resources can do what he likes, and there is no way to stop the murder and mayhem that Putin imposes on Ukraine every day.

Sanctions on Putin and his gang of kleptocrats will have some effect but in the meantime women and children are being murdered in Ukraine every day.

The only way to stop the mad dog is to put it down. It, is the right word, for Putin is inhuman and exhibits all that can be bad in a human frame. He is selfish, power mad, greedy, self obsessed, and paranoid. If he were any sort of animal he would be put down as a danger to other species.

Make no mistake, this lunatic is laying waste to a nation. To families, communities and a young long suffering nation that is just beginning to enjoy the fruits of freedom and fairness. Putin is in fact cocking a snook at freedom as a value. As he sees it, his way as an omnipotent being, controlling, killing dissent as the only way of leadership.

The corruption that is embedded in Putin’s Russia will, we hope, lead to an end to this dreadful scene. Army’s are without conviction, shops without bread, ATM’s without cash all a result of this maniac’s self indulgence. That is what will bring Putin down. How soon? is the question. How many more Ukrainians have to die while the world shows its disgust, but more importantly the Russian people are awakened to the evil that is Putin.

The Russian people are the only power that can bring the mad dog down. Propaganda from the West must be the main weapon couple with extreme sanctions must squeeze the message home.

If Putin is brought down then what will succeed him? Russia most surely will be sorely hurt. The old machine of authoritarian propaganda must be replaced with a democratic model. To do that will take many years and great wisdom. These are questions that must be part of the plan that not only brings the mad dog down, but that looks toward a more democratic future.

Ukraine, Ukraine, long live Ukraine!

Madman murders masses!

Putin is clearly unbalanced. What do we do when a totalitarian Head of State loses his sense of what is normal. We know he is moving toward bombing Ukraine with chemical weapons and the West and China are doing nothing to stop him. How do you stop him? That’s the question.

He clearly has a virtual complete grip on the Russian media, so most Russians, though not all, believe that Russia is not the aggressor but the victim. How the Russian people receive the truth is possibly the most important issue before the West. How do we inform the Russian people of the TRUTH?

How do we defend a free state? Presently it seems that Russia has invaded Ukraine without a second thought. Putin lied about the build up, he teamed up with the other evil monster the President Of Belarus, the west did very little except rely on sanctions which is something, but what further sanctions can we press if Russia uses chemical weapons. Famously Obama failed to respond in Syria, Russia is going to bomb Ukraine flat and follow up with a dose of chemical poison. Will the West do anything? Probably not! That is what Putin is banking on, the West will continue with its self interest and ignore atrocities and the murder of thousands of people, whose only sin was to seek a democratic way of life.

There we have it. In a nut shell, any lunatic with a nuclear arsenal can do anything he wants to independent countries who are not members of a major defence alliance. If the West does not stop Putin now, then there will be no end to Putin’s aggression. Moldova next, then the eastern provinces of Hungary and so on . People will die in their thousands and the world will wring its collective hands.

Obama has a lot to be sorry for, not least he lacked the guts to enforce his red line on chemical weapons in Syria. I hate to say it, but Biden is an old man with a weak mandate. Putin knows the USA has no stomach for a fight.

If we have not got the guts to provide the Ukraine with jet aircraft and heavier aggressive missile systems then we deserve all we get. Putin wins!

Ashamed of my Government, too little, too late!

The UK is moving more slowly to lessen the load for Ukrainian refugees than any other European nation. Despite the fact that Johnson blows his trumpet about how generous the UK is in welcoming refugees, the UK remains the slowest responder to the humanitarian crisis for the people of Ukraine.

The miserable responses and lack of flexibility in setting up visa stations under the guise of security is just laughable. More visa officers would be the answer, not no officers at all. To make refugees who have relations in the UK travel from Calais to Paris or Lille to wait a further five days at least whilst the UK Govt checks finger prints and masses of other unnecessary documentation is both inhuman and completely lacking in sympathy for the plight of the refugees.

Of course there is a security risk of Russian spies slipping through the net into UK, but surely that excludes mothers with children, and those in clear need of medical support. Even if Mattha Hari is about to infiltrate the UK surely there must be a way to follow up once admission has taken place. To pretend that our security comes before compassion is so typical of the selfish British view. Why do we not think other European power are under the same risk factors?

Boris shouts about his own immigrant forebears, most of whom have done very well thank you. Well enough to produce Bullingdon Boy bullies and inveterate liars. No wonder so many are ashamed of being British.

Putin’s shot in his foot will hurt us all.

The invasion of Ukraine is one of the great tragedies of the modern age. There’s no need to elaborate. Putin is the one crazy man who is the sole decision maker, he has now the most dreadful dilemma, his invasion looks as if it is failing by any measure. Further the Russian people are beginning to understand that the war, is a war, that many Russians are needlessly dying, both army conscripts as well as Ukrainian cousins. The cost to Putin is now gathering weight and soon, if the Ukrainians hold out, the bankrupt Putin will no longer afford to wage this useless war.

What then? Will the mad Putin pull the nuclear trigger, or will he sue for peace? It seems unlikely that the Putin we know, will sue for peace. His delusions of the Russian empire resuscitated by the great man Putin will be in ruins, and we must hope that an internal revolution will remove this megalomaniac from the seat of absolute power. If not, then it seems that an escalation of conflict will be his most likely scenario.

In Putin’s mind the West has gone to war economically, but in the minds of Ukrainians Putin has been allowed to pillage a sovereign country without any physical response. Economic sanctions is one thing, but artillery and bombs are quite another. Are we to believe that any nuclear bully can do what he likes and all of us are afraid to escalate physically into what will be the inevitable nuclear war?

By crushing Russia economically we will subject the Russian people as well as the rest of the free world to dreadful depravation, from food to shelter and warmth. What will that say about the west? Will we drive a wedge between West and East for the foreseeable future? Will the distrust be strengthened? Will the Russian people be driven by desperate plight to believing another one-man, strongman ethos to drag them back to an equitable normality?

As an optimist, we hope that Putin has really shot himself in the foot. That the days ahead will lead to the end of his lunatic reign. That Russia and Ukraine will be a family again and that a democratic environment will be re-established in both countries. Only the Russian establishment can bring this scenario into being, by ousting Putin, counting the cost and seeking not only forgiveness but hope for the future.

The west at large will have to bare the burden of reconstituting the smashed fabric of the Ukrainian country, culture and people. The World and United Nations must somehow ensure that nuclear blackmail is made impossible.

Putin has cast the human race down. Some where, some one, must make the difference. Not only of selflessness, but of vision and generosity of spirit that can affect all those in power, be they democratic or alternative. Putin by his cruelty may be saving the world.

Hero and Villain, Zelensky and Putin.

Zelensky, little guy who came to politics almost by accident. A young bright fellow who was a great success as a pretend comic president on TV. His aim was to parody the false claims and corruption in the burgeoning democracy of Ukraine.

This unassuming young man was swept to power in recent free elections by an electorate both amused and interested in his radical and sometime comedic platform. Little did they know that the hungry manic bear from their big and brutal neighbour Russia would range up in a jealous rage, because Zelensky despite many shortfalls remained a bastion of, and turned a friendly face to, the west.

What a revelation Zelensky has been. A character of heroic stature who is standing up to the lunatic bully Putin. A young man who has spurned the option to leave his suffering countrymen and to stand with them in their ghastly plight. He knows he’s Putin’s number one target, yet he stands with his countrymen completely outnumbered and leads by example. Oh! how we wish that there were more leaders like this wonderfully heroic Zelensky!

Putin by contrast is a lunatic has-been who is desperately clinging to ideas that are outmoded; The resurgence of the Soviet empire. An unbalanced sociopathic madman who sits alone behind tables and throne like defences, clear, at least in his own warped mind, that he is the world’s strongest man. He thinks nothing of killing thousands and displacing millions. He thinks nothing of wiping billions from his countrymen’s economy, he thinks nothing of destroying lives and future of millions of people.

He is an easy man to hate. And the hate of Putin is now one of Ukraine’s best weapons, for it will be many years even after the overthrow of Putin that the world will ever relax about dictators like this deranged monster.

Let every free thinking person register their dissent to this monstrous clown, let every free person stand and show support for Zelensky and his countrymen. We fervently hope that the west will protect Mr President Zelensky from that evil tyrant Putin. Please let our thoughts be known to all, who in whatever small way, can help the beleaguered Ukrainians.

Viva Zelensky!

A mass murderer and no one seems to want to stop him.

Putin may well be deranged, but that does not preclude the idea of stopping him by deposition, assassination or revolution. It seems impossible that the Russian people and those under arms in Russian forces do not recognise that Putin is a megalo-maniac who is killing thousands and risking nuclear disaster.

Yes, the difference between Russian form of totalitarianism and Western democracy is very marked but surely the way to coexist is in peace not war. Russian troops are killing their brothers and sisters in Ukraine for no other reason than that President Putin has lost the plot, gone off his rocker!

Why must one person die because of this crazy man? And why must thousands die because what Putin says – goes – even mass murder, the flouting of international law and the sacrifice of Russia’s future?

Thank the stars that Putin has in his eccentricity made sure he has become a Pariah, a universally recognised war criminal and a genocidal lunatic. For the first time in many years the West is united to resist this lunatic. Even Turkey and India have condemned Putin’s criminality.

Two things then: What of the future? What of the Russian people?

Many more Ukrainians and Russians are going to die, and they will die brutally and for no purpose. At least those Ukrainians have shown heroism and pride and given their lives for freedom. The Russians will die as aggressors and invaders, the savages of the twenty first century.

What of Russia’s future and its people? Our first thought is to punish, to punish the people who would not stand up to Putin and say – No! Is the whole nation unaware of what its leader is doing? Are the Russian military commanders blind to the evil that they do? If they are morally blind do they deserve mercy? if Putin is deposed what will these episodes tell us of Russian values and apparent blind obedience to obviously manic choices?

Picking up the pieces after Putin’s manic romp will have to be long and hard for not only Russia but the whole world. We must, if the human race is to survive, blend mercy and forgiveness to all people, we must, by example, show that democracy is inherently the better way.

China, of course, waits in the wings whilst the drama unfolds, no doubt calculating how to dominate the world. The West must, absolutely must, stand up with courage and fairness to alternative regimes and by example ensure that our world is never again held to ransom by some lunatic leader. We thought Hitler, was the last and we chose to ignore Putin razing Syria to the ground to support the evil that is Assad. Now we know better, but it is very late in the day, for we can already see the President of China commit genocide with impunity.

We must now ensure that the President of Ukraine and his lieutenants are kept safe, that the Ukrainian people are spared further torture, for they stand in lonely peril. The short term repair of harm rests in Russian hands, Putin must be stopped. Sadly we no longer care how!

Ashamed to be British, does anyone care?

With a leader who lies and a parliament who don’t care that he does, what does that say of the Brits? Well for sure it’s not complimentary. Our so called democracy is piled high with lies and corruption and nobody gives a damn. The opposition to the terrible Tories is lamentable with at least more honest leadership but boring to a point of collective sleep.

Is this what it has come to? Basically no one cares. Can it be collective ignorance rules and no one really understands? Or is it that people don’t care? Surely the latter. Despite widespread poverty, and the wealthy getting wealthier, the crooks running the London banking and property sectors, no body seems to care.

The break up of the UK, it seems, is what preoccupies the vocal minority of activists. The Scots, the Welsh and the Irish see the opportunity created by this lousy Uk governance to leave the uselessness of Westminster behind, and who can blame them.

Boris Johnson rode to power on the back of Brexit, not the Brexit of independent trade and innovative business, but on the back of cringing xenophobia and the fear of competitive talent from overseas. Now, the man who has lied and made it up as he’s gone along continues to pretend that he has the interests of the country at his heart when it must be obvious to anyone that his only interest is himself.

Sue Gray was exceedingly silly to accept the brief to explore the obvious, and Cressida Dick has now scotched any idea of blame (yet another howler!). Johnson is now a lame duck, leading a lame party of witless cowardly misanthropes. All care more for their jobs than about the country they are supposed to govern. Shame on them, I hope that the next election will expose the Tory party for what it is, and if Johnson is still in power then the Union will be lost for ever.

The question is; Will I bother to vote? My choices will be Nationalist or Socialist. As a life long Conservative I will have to make that painful choice.

Artificial Intelligence, it is already here, and there!

Can Alexa think? Can Google predict what I will want to buy? Can machines think? These are all very big questions. because if the answer is yes, then are humans in jeopardy of becoming redundant. Is AI challenging the prime issue of human reason?

In the 1950’s it was standard belief that if a machine could produce results equal to humans, then it could be called intelligent. However, despite these limited results it was understood, even then, that results of machine processing would always be without sentience, emotion or sympathetic awareness of external issues which are influenced by, but not part of the problem or issue to be solved.

AI can now exceed the old measure of Intelligence, for example, computer programs can now extrapolate complex relationships and patterns to the extent that far exceed human capability. A language model has been developed that trains itself by consuming freely available texts and extrapolating new sentences and paragraphs by detecting patterns in sequential elements. AI is now able to facilitate the production and composition of new texts that meet our definition of human intelligence.

In a book that I am writing I imagined a politician in a major political event leading to an election flooding social media with generative artificial intelligence phrases that then floods the social media with extrapolated ideas. The antithesis of democracy, at least to my mind.

Political polarisation is already a major issue exacerbated by false news, further degradation of truth by the extrapolation of the extreme views and the amplification by media algorithms that encourage clicks by serving users’ increasing extreme views.

The above are bad consequences of AI, but there are many excellent consequences as well, including the development of everything from self-driving vehicles to the development of new antibiotics.

It is worth mentioning that in terms of world concentration and control of the development of AI China leads by quite a long shot. Like all processes the value of the finished product is only as good as the input. The moral standpoint for the development AI is an absolute imperative. Will we acquiesce to a world where the infallibility of demagogues such as Putin and Xi is right by algorism rote, or will be use AI via free human thinking and democratic systems?

The jury is out, but the wakeup call is there.

COP26 – I’m sorry but……

The conferences in Kyoto and Paris, remember them? Kyoto was meant to enshrine in International law global resposibilty for climate regulation. Paris on the other hand recognised that The Kyoto treaty was multinational and meant to be binding on all the signatories but since 1997 the enforcement of Kyoto had become hopelessly complicated and illusary. So in Paris, lower thresholds were set enshring a much more acceptable compromise; Nationally Determined Contributions.

Fundamentally, despite a dawning realisation that the whole world faces the same threat, these NDC’s have allowed countries to persue whatever energy policies they see as to their advatage. The panoply of widely diverse scenarios is mindboggling, some, if not all understandable. However the consequences are dire. The COP’s have signally failed to produce a model of global governance that can counter power politics, let alone share a sense of a common destiny.

Examples of the political shinnanikins, include Brazil trying to get paid to decrease deforestation, President Xi arguing its not his turn to do his bit and should not be seen as the same as developed economies, who got rich before China, on the back of industrial polution. Mr Putin will not turn up at all..

What to do? How can we ensure firstly that we all see the common threat of climate change. There are glimpses that this happening and that the jamboree in Glasgow is at least, furthering that realisation. But it is all for nothing, if there is not a common agenda shared by all. This aspiration, for it still is just that, is not being improved by the richer nations having reneged on their promise to put up $100mn for poorer countries to arm themselves against climate change. What message does that send?

The problem extends beyong UN climate change conferences. Whilst globalisation has liften millions out of poverty, it ha s fueled increasing concentrations of wealth. The poor and the rich have very different ideas and aspirations, because actions on climate change have very different rewards for the rich or the poor. Hence the politics of power and envy all mitigate against agreement. Since Paris and the NDC’s the world has failed miserably to contain the climate change challenge. Already we are way behind on the challenge to contain global warmimg to 1.5 dgrees.

The answer is not that somebody else will fix the problem, climate change is above all a common problem – the world is burning and flooding! Unless there is a international binding treaty based on science COP26 will just be another talking shop.

Tolerance, habit and respect.

As time goes by, I find it hard to accept so may changes to what I thought was a confirmed view of democracy. Firstly I assumed that democracies exist for the common good. This meant essentially behaving within the law and to the spirit of the law.

Now, I was born when the nuclear family was the basis of Christian Democracy, both terms Christian and democracy stood as important foundation ideas for the way we hoped to live. During my lifetime the Christian and its associated religious ideals have waned, though many would still claim that even without religious connotations the ideas and ideals of the philosophy still hold good.

The other great principle of democracy is, of course, individual freedom within the law, including freedom of speech, assembly, and the written or broadcast word.

All these liberating freedoms are circumscribed within the law. The law from Magna Carta to this day has evolved reflecting changes especially the migration of people and ideas, religious or not. There have been many instances where the acceptance of ideas and religions have not been received easily or without resistance, so that democracy itself has been subverted.

Democracy, I always thought, was a system of Government in which power invested in the people and exercised by them through freely elected representatives. So, consequently, Democratic Government should, or is it must, reflect the majority view? What about the freedom of the minority? How does democratic government respond to change?

Change has, as ever, been rampant, sometimes clearly for the good and espousing the basic values of selflessness and kindness. The realisation that history has shown that mans evolution is full of community and tribal defences and aggressions, some clearly evil by today’s standards. The changes are usually wrought through minority intervention, and almost inevitably ridiculed by the majority that favours the status quo. Some even attempt to subvert ‘progress’ by attempting to change into backward steps, for example the Trumpian effort to undermine the democratic elective process in the US.

The minority have views that are crazy sometimes, progressive sometimes, the big question is how do we make room institutionally to accommodate both the crazy and the progressive and then to reject or accept that which is right and progressive?

It all boils down to the idea of voting by individual for a government that will reflect our views and beliefs. This is clearly a deeply flawed system, but its the only one we have, if we espouse the idea of democracy. Can we accommodate the debate that democracy maybe the wrong way to go, and we should go the totalitarian route of the Chinese republic, for example. We have seen the dangers of ‘couldn’t care less’ electorates, the lopsided conspiracists, and the populist ‘last idea is best’ and the simply ‘crooked’. All these have evolved from so called democratic governments.

Accommodating change within the continued prospect of mass migration, the richer getting richer and the poor poorer, the planet either drowning or burning, is beyond most of our comprehension. Yet we must decide if the idea of a just democracy is worth sustaining. What are we going to do about it?

Amongst the most troubling issues that face us all are race and gender. Two of the great empirics of human kind. That they are seen as major issues is in itself astonishing, and expressions on these issues are so often hateful. How sad is that?

The issues of misogyny, race and democracy all depend on the human race to put aside our tribal differences and to respect one another. Respect is a big word. Respect those who have impaired abilities, respect those of different colour, gender or view. The very basis of democracy is the respect of the elected for the electorate and vice versa. We all have a way to go, and very little time to get there.

Time to wake up, with respect to us all.