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.

 

Lies about the past and exaggeration about the future. A difference?

The free world been shocked to the core about the breakdown of democratic law in the United States of America. Most outside the States have joked about what a liar Trump has been, but this latest event has given us cause to stop joking and pay attention what damage constant lying can do.

Plato and Aristotle both warned us of Tyrants and demagogues, Hitler and Goebbels amplified the example of lying in extremis, and yet the American People accepted Trumps lies and more lies, even that when he won the election, he planted the lie that many millions of votes were stolen from him. He perpetuated the lie till this election, working it, working it, hoping that he would be put back in the Whitehouse, even if he lost. He failed in his attempt to overturn American Politics but only just.

Putin and Trump tell lies all the time, ‘fake news’ is a fascist description of the truth, so I worry when any Government makes promises about the future, for no one can tell the future, as my Arabian friends used to say “He who tells the future, tells lies”.

So when Boris Johnson promised the easy Brexit and post Brexit bonanza, was he deliberately lying or was he animating his belief into a character that voters could grasp. ‘X million a week extra for the NHS’ for example. Is there a degree of truthfulness, is there a scale of deliberately misleading your following, say 1-10.

In Boris Johnson ‘s case, it is true that eventually UK will not be a net contributor to EU budgets, and that there fore the UK Government will have more to spend on UK services. (scale 2) True, if economically UK isn’t worse off through declining trade (scale 5 because you can’t possibly know) etc.. So there is a grain of truth, in what is certainly in the near term, a lie. Is this lie then, in the same category of evil as Trump’s unfounded assertion that the American election system is subject to mass fraud? (Scale 10)

(I am aware that I am over- simplifying Brexit issues for illustration.)

If Boris had said, ‘It is possible, I believe on balance we’ll be better off……” Would he have won the argument? Would he have fulfilled a political ambition that he believes in? Was his exaggeration ( a lie) worthy of his goal? Is it ever permissible to use hyperbole to win an argument, and when does hyperbole became a lie?

In an ideal society we believe that everyone knows truth from fiction or lies, yet we are duped in modern times from Hitler to Trump. We can now see that Aristotle, who argued that in a democracy a wealthy and talented demagogue could all too easily master the minds of the populace, and Plato who notes a particular risk for tyrants is that they surround themselves with yes-men and enablers.. Both were prescient.

For the general population not to be influenced by powerful people who are liars is a vexed issue. After all, social media influencers are all the currency, and who can tell the innocent hyperbole from the outright lie? Is it a matter for democratic government or for individual belief systems. This is where there is a gap in the argument. Political dreams are surely still valid, can we judge between the dream and the reality?

Only the truth will tell!

The Truth, the basis of Freedom.

The goings on in America have shaken to the core the great majority of people, not only in the US, but also all supporters of democracy where ever they may be. America despite all its faults was always a beacon of hope because the word FREEDOM was almost synonymous with The USA. Not any more!

For some, the rise of Donald Trump has been a great mystery, to many he is obviously a vulgar, liar who disrespects anyone of colour, and anyone of the female gender. He is brash and tells lies as if they were the truth. He knows that celebrity can be believed whatever it utters, even if it is completely untrue. Yet he rose to the top of the most powerful nation on earth by promulgating obvious lies.

Former leadership of the USA has always shown respect to the US constitution, has always stayed true to the ideals of truth and understanding, even though the political philosophies have differed. When Nixon lied he was properly persuaded to stand down from office. Yet when Trump lied and lied again, the establishment appeared to allow dishonesty to become the way of American life. This dishonest vulgar man has been allowed to roam the world doing untold harm to democracy and indeed to the planet we live on.

What is it then, that convinces ‘ordinary’ people to absorb untruths from celebrities, knowing these utterances to be untrue. Is it transference of need, I am poor, there fore I believe the rich because they are more successful than me? Will I become rich if I too lie, is lying a legitimate way to make my way in the world? It seems so!

Now that Trump has been exposed as the liar and cheat that he is, will the mass of Americans who supported this fool have the sense and courage to deny their foolishness and return to what truth is about? All this stupid mantra about making great again whilst making America the laughing stock of the world must be hard to take. It will need courage and honesty and patience for the truth to return to America as the foundation of its democracy. Mitch McConnell and his republican colleagues have to play a constructive part in turning America round.

We all know that the schism of Freedom versus Socialism scares Americans half to death, but purity in either philosophy is worthless if it is riddled with lies and untruths. I believe in FREEDOM, I believe that the USA is too fine a nation to lapse once more into an era of vulgar untruths.

Wales – a poor relation?

 About 5% of the UK population live in Wales, an economic output of 4% with a GDP of around 80% of the UK average. Gross added value (GVA) has declined from 84% ave UK in 1989 to 70% in 2019. Wales has a fiscal gap of around 9bn. Cardiff remains the primary source of GDP relying principally on retail, finance, media and tourism sectors. Cardiff has received more investment in the regeneration projects in the late 20th century than any other part of Wales.

The Welsh Nationalist Plaid Cymru, argue that independence will allow Wales to embrace more innovative economic policies, but that is hard to reconcile without understanding the underlying economic conditions and their historic development. They argue that fiscal responsibility both collection (taxation) and expenditure can only be fruitfully managed if Wales is fully independent. They do not, at least at present, describe in detail how to address the fiscal deficit of £9bn.

If Wales is to move forward it must improve its wealth creation.  This does not mean an economic free for all, but it does mean that government of whatever hue, does develop strategies to improve the Welsh national income.  From that improvement will follow the quality of life for all the people of Wales.

Wales has certain advantages not shared by the rest of the UK, not least its natural beauty and its rich agricultural heritage, plus its very strong cultural profile, but much remains to be done to put Wales nearer the top of the European tourist destinations.

In agriculture the picture is much more complex, and there are extensive areas where neither arable or livestock are suitable.  A strategy to marry these fringe areas into tourism would surely make sense.

To make Wales accessible through to the western and northern coasts is crucial to opening up the Welsh hinterland, via a good communication system.  The tardiness of the Assembly government to address these issues is lamentable.

The great festival of Eisteddfods International and National are unique and truly something to shout about.  The WNO, the orchestras and choirs and theatres of Wales all need to be encouraged to put Wales on the Culture map of the world.  The Millennium Centre in Cardiff is a beacon for cultural progress, we need more investment and international awareness as in the likes of ‘Cardiff Singer of the World’.

Wales must not allow Cardiff to be the centre of all things.  Sure, we want and have got a capital city to be proud of, but we also need thriving centres for west to centre to north, which will attract industry, skills and investment. The University towns of Swansea, Aberystwyth and Bangor are already centres of excellence, and we are yet to see how the Welsh Government is to capitalise on this vital resource. Erasmus may be in short term confusion but Wales must capitalise on its academic heritage.

First among equals is most obviously roads and communication systems.  Wales has to grasp the nettle and open up its lovely face to welcome industry, technology, tourism and advanced agriculture.

Achieving these goals are key to Wales’s long term future.  Yes, let us be proud to be Welsh, but better even to be proud and successful as a nation.

The tribes of the ‘United’ Kingdom.

What is the difference between Nationalism and Tribalism?  What did the last election reveal about the regional differences in the ‘United Kingdom’. 

A tribe is merely a group of people who have developed a collective identity, usually by virtue of common culture, in-group marriage, and cohabitation in a defined area. Classic tribes are generally parochial. They don’t know much about the external world, they have strong prejudices in favour of their group (and sometimes, though not necessarily, prejudices against other groups), and they often resist cultural change.

A fine example of parochial tribalism is Wales, especially South Wales, the current Welsh government that sees its future in terms of Wales and the Welsh, it takes no discernible view of the wider world and the role of Wales in that context.  Indeed, there is a strong prejudice in favour of their own tribe and against other groups particularly the English who are seen still as the colonial power. Hence the strong moves in favour of their own language and indifference to opening up the country by road or rail links. They are reinforcing the tribal difference. This parochial tribalism is reinforced by what is believed to be poverty imposed by the colonial power.  The loss of industry seen as a personal slight, nothing to do with value in the outside competitive world.   I.e. Mrs Thatcher deindustrialised Wales as an act of colonial angst. Certainly, Westminster’s consequent woeful response to facilitate change, reinforced that view.

Perhaps on the back of this traumatic period 14.6% of the electorate were persuaded to vote for devolution, and thus was born the most parochial Government; The Welsh Assembly.  It should have been a driver of the Welsh region, an encourager of growth and innovation.  Alas, it has turned out a talking shop for petty tribal issues, attitudes have become more inward looking, and less enterprising.

In the Eastern Valleys of Wales the most populous sub-tribe have little cultural affinity with the West or North, they vote almost exclusively for socialism still smarting from the sudden and traumatic change in world economic affairs of the mid and late 20th century.  The market and competition crept unseen into the likes of the Rhondda valleys, now many generations of underprivileged and poorly educated unemployed are mired in a parochial tribe, with little opportunity and that has little choice other than to depend on the welfare state, and the enemy for ever of the Tories and Shire England.

In the North where Airbus is the biggest employer, where the English border is close at hand and open for business, where Liverpool and Cheshire are good neighbours, enough of welfare dependence, a change is afoot.  A key thing in this formerly socialist area is its less cultural affinity with the Welsh culture, here we have Liverpool soccer and not a blind allegiance to the Welsh warriors of the National Stadium in Cardiff. So here the socialist agenda has been at least temporarily been diluted, perhaps abandoned.

Nationalism is a free-floating ideological version of tribalism.
All that being said, the pragmatic elements of culture, breeding, and cohabitation are not universally necessary. Collective identities can form based entirely on mental qualities: ideas or ideals that one takes to heart and identifies with. When these mental qualities take on the classic tribal parochialism, we have Nationalism.

 I think Scotland qualifies as a Nationalist state.  Interestingly, they see their future not as part of the UK (large and influential) but as part of Europe (tiny member with little influence) even if this means breaking free from the Union. The Scots too, have a rump of belief that the English were uncaring and vanquishing colonisers.  The difference between the Scots and the Welsh is that the scots are wealthier, largely due to North Sea oil. The wealth has given them confidence.  They are looking to the wider world and see the EU as the best route, and part of their belief is conditioned by their collective view that the English are uncaring about the national tribal group.

Both Scotland and Wales have humungous fiscal deficits to England in the UK order, nationalism and parochialism never ever consider that.  Universally they want their cake and want to eat it too.  If Nationalism is a sort of confident tribalism, then the fading importance of oil should be a severe warning of things to come for an independent Scotland. 

Wales on the other hand is mired in an inward parochialism, a Government content to moan about Westminster, begging bowl in hand.  A government content to close its borders, to keep the English at bay, to progress and promote its culture as an end in itself.  Wales sees itself as a country exploited during the industrial revolution, and now cast aside as unimportant to Westminster. Left to perish with the slag heaps of the valleys and the dead mines of old. It is this history that still drive a naturally liberal people into the arms of the defensive inward-looking nanny state.

The plague of corona virus has in some ways levelled the playing field, at the same time allowing the devolved Governments to flex their muscles.  Sadly, the UK is poorly and indecisively led which only wins points for the independence movement in Scotland and the begging bowl moaners of Cardiff.

Nature has shown us very clearly that her plagues are no match for Governments or petty politicians.  We can excuse their chaotic responses, who could do better?  Surely, it’s time to put away these petty tribal quarrels and pull together for the greater good.

What price for care?

The concern of the care home industry is that after Brexit, the availability of care workers will dry up as the Brits presently depend on migrant workers most of whom are paid below £25000 per annum. Under the new points system £25000 is the minimum salary for a working visa into the UK.

What does that tell us?

  1. We think that Brits are too well paid to be interested in caring for others especially the disabled and the old. These are menial and low level tasks.
  2. Care workers deserve low wages.
  3. We cannot afford to pay a reasonable and acceptable level of reward for care, because we don’t care.

I don’t believe any of the above, and I think most of us don’t. The Government like all those before it, has so far, avoided the issue of social care and health and the integration of them into some sort of responsive whole. One can see their dilemma. It would mean a wholescale revision of taxation and the redistribution of care responsibility from local government to the devolved Ministries of Health. A truly daunting task, made the more difficult by the ever cash guzzling, and despite folklore, the fallible and sometimes wasteful health service.

On the ethical wing of the argument, how much are we prepared to pay for our aged relations and those less fortunate than the majority, to be cared for with devotion and tenderness? It seems the answer is less than £25000 per annum.

The second part of the argument is that Brits decline to take caring jobs because it is beneath them, they would prefer support benefits since the majority it seems have neither the ability or inclination to ‘care’ for others.

The argument I know is far more difficult than these simple exclamations, many families, too many struggle with inadequate state aid to look after ailing and disabled loved ones. However, the basic argument still holds good. We have a fundamental issue with the ‘care’ industry and it boils down to if we as a country care enough and we plainly do not.

This new era, where ‘control of our borders’ has become a major issue , we must not allow this to become a symptom of a non-caring nation, either in the address to our ‘care’ industry but also to the deserving refugees who flee the residue of our colonial past.

Boris the Bonkers! Shame on us all.

It is unbelievable that Boris Johnson has defied parliamentary standards and appointed Cruddas to be a Lord. That Boris is just emerging with some credibility with an exit agreement from Brussels he shoots himself firmly in the foot. He is resurrecting the aspects of corruption which already surround his Government over both PPE and Track and Trace. How stupid or arrogant can a man get?

Whatever your politics please remember this man has some virtue, but whatever that is? It has been well and truly swamped by his arrogance, vanity and sheer lack of empathy for what followers he still has. Be you Tory Liberal or Labour do not forget this ghastly arrogant idiot, and if he still leads any party vote against it.

Shame on him, and he brings shame on us all if we tolerate this level of corruption.

The Perfect Storm.

Boris Johnson and his government have been lampooned by all and sundry including me, however, I have to say whoever is in power they have the roughest of rides. Whilst Brexit is a very emotive subject and its consequences unknown in the longer term, we are braced for a shock. That would be bad enough politically in the short term.

Add to that the pandemic, plus the UK’s latest variant virus, plus Christmas and all the torn up plans, plus the floods about to beset us, plus Marcus Rashford’s heroic efforts for poor kids, plus the changes to work practises and town centres, unemployment, the NHS overwhelmed and other disasters – I could go on and on.

Pick the bones out of that lot, and we can all agree that the problems facing the UK Government are enormous. Much of the cause is directly the result of the pandemic, beyond the scope or imagination of anyone in Government. The only true prophesy came from Bill Gates and no one trusts a truly well meaning wise billionaire. Do they?

What is true is that Boris and his collective cabinet have made some ghastly errors of judgement, most horribly the panic and corruption surrounding the supply of PPE and the track and trace train crash. Despite that the NHS has struggled manfully against this plague. Boris’s populist tendencies not to issue disciplined directives to the irresponsible has cost the UK dear. We are now the health Pariah of the World.

Leadership has been in short supply, Boris’ bumbling encourages few whilst his team have few champions to inspire.

Despite these sad and desperate situation we have no alternative but to stick together behind our elected Government and try to make the best of a miserable hand. For once few cry, ‘I could do better!’ Many shout ‘What a shambles!’ Yes, indeed, it is a shambles but its the only game in town, so buckle down and do your bit. It is the only way forward, responsibly together.

After the Virus – A new world.

When and if the corona virus is conquered or brought under control the world will be a different place. In the west our high streets and cities will be changed and radically so. Human resources management particularly for ‘Knowledge workers’ will be changed for ever as the remote worker becomes the norm.

Hopefully the awareness of our environmental needs will be harmonised and new business opportunities to add to the green machine will abound.Every business will have to be a green business with new regulations and the participants to enforce them. A new green collar class will soon be as common as blue or white collar ones.

The use of electronic communication systems like Zoom will become common place and octogenarians and children will soon be equally comfortable with today’s gizmos and tomorrow’s necessities.

The snag is that those countries who are now technologically advanced may well move ahead much faster than those not so prescient. Educational needs will have to keep in step with these huge changes and those centres of so called blue collar workers will have to transcend their traditions and change, or be excluded from the new post-Convid age,

Whist Governments struggle with re-financing and enormous debt, there will be great challenges of high unemployment and civil distrust. Change is coming and coming fast. Those who embrace change will prosper those who demure will find it gut wrenchingly difficult.

Looking forward to these cataclysmic changes is beyond most Yet whether in Government or in industry an innovative spirit is now a necessity not a choice.

British democracy on the ropes.

Cronyism and incompetence characterise the Government of Boris Johnson. This egomaniac believes that with a massive parliamentary majority he can do what he likes. The recent shambolic handling of the procurement program, the track and trace operation and the vaccine issues have all been mishandled and managed without regard for the general good. These issues have however profited a few of Boris’ chums and the occasional lucky Spanish entrepreneur. All utterly irresponsible actions of an out of control executive.

The mantra that all public servants are useless, is wrong and always has been wrong. True, civil servants of all hues need to be aware and responsible for their work and output. True much is wrong with many parts of our very complex public service sectors, but nonetheless they are amongst the best, and the most conscientious in the world and should be respected as such, Look at the NHS. Lots wrong with it, for sure, but what a fantastic organisation it is.

The time has come when the UK needs to restore the balance between the extremes of left and right. Corbyn or Johnson! What a choice! The UK has lost its way, Boris is blowing money we don’t have on strengthening our defence forces and at the same time lessening our overseas aid. Big boys toys instead of mature soft power.

As an ex-Tory, I have to confess the time for proportional representation has come. UK is not exclusively a free enterprise, it is, and will hopefully remain, a liberal democracy and the example of balanced democracy to the world.

Is Mr Cain able? Or just another Brexit bruiser?

Boris Johnson moves further away from his democratic roots and even his fiance Carrie Symonds has put in a jab, though what her role is, is anyone’s guess. PM Johnson ignores the institutions on which our democratic systems are based and he does so at his peril.

A kitchen cabinet is one thing but a bunch of hired hacks none of whom are elected is quite another. It seems Boris sees himself as an appointed President of UK not as a democratically elected PM. The Bullingdon club syndrome is written all over this self centred “I can do what I like” syndrome.

Whilst many would point to the enormous problems facing our government at this time, most would also argue that it is a time for consensus and cross party cooperation. In contrast we have an accident prone buffoon who is just happy to be Prime Minister simply because he sees himself at the centre of everything. He has few or no discern-able beliefs, he chose the Brexit route not because he fervently believes in it but because he saw opportunity in leading the majority, and in so doing finding a way to Downing Street.

Well, thanks to the pathetic left, he’s made it, he’s where he wants to be. Full marks for ambition and strategy, now he’s building a wall with Cummings and Cain and is attempting to repeat his success in leading the Brexit initiative. As far as Parliamentary participation is concerned, he distances himself from it, and in so doing denies his right to lead the democracy that is the UK.

Only the Tory backbenchers can make Boris repent and change his ways. They must not allow themselves to become irrelevant, they must vote with their true conscience and not allow Boris and his cronies to lead the country to extremes that we will all regret.