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.

 

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.

Old Boy Network alive, well, and bent in UK.

It is nice to see that nothing really changes. A bumbling Boris handing out massive perks to his old school chums and their spouses. Both the vaccine management program and the track and trace are being woefully mismanaged by these cosy mates of the PM.

That they have both squandered millions of pounds on Consultants, both Bingham and Harding are showing either that they have no faith in the civil service or they din’t give a damn and passing the buck to anonymous and very expensive consultants.

The whole thing rings of corruption and self serving amongst Boris and his old school or MP chums. He bumbles at press conferences about what a splendid job these surrogates have done when it is plainly untrue.

We sneer at Trump as an inveterate liar, when our own Prime Minister is of similar ilk. He rose to power in a vacuum left by May and Corbyn, he has a weak cabinet and has been chastised by the highest court in the land and is now breaking international law. The man is proving to be a liability or should I say a liarbility?

I only hope the new MP’s from the north bring Boris to heel and remind him he is there to serve the country not just his old school chums. Soon I trust that he will be removed, and kicked upstairs to the Lords, where he can join a cabal of crooks many of whom use the chamber as an expense account. He will find himself very much at home.

America turns in on itself.

To see the leader of the former principal democracy in the world talk complete nonsense and to tell unfounded lies has been deeply shocking. Whilst we do not want to criticise other democracies and how they do and don’t work, it is hard to avoid being shocked by the electoral debacle that is the USA.

The former leading democracy has been reduced to a laughing stock by the delusional liar that somehow became the President four years ago. That was anathema enough, but that poor divided country has completely lost its way. Not only has the USA under Trump surrendered its global leadership role to China, apparently ‘putting America first’, I had always laboured under the illusion that America was first. Not any more. That once great democracy has now held an election between the aforesaid duplicitous, womanising, lying crook and an exceedingly weak geriatric.

That the opposition to a world class delusional liar was so weak, is testimony that the electoral choices of the main political parties in America are not fit for purpose. That the voting populous has such a shocking range of choices that they find it hard not to give the incumbent the heave ho is deeply disturbing.

Trump has managed to subvert the influence of the United States which under his predecessors at least showed moral and honest attempts to influence the world toward liberal democracy. If Biden scrapes in, as we fervently hope he does, then the Democratic party has its work cut out to restore both domestic and international decency. It is an objective worthy of the biggest of men.

If Biden succeeds to the White House, let us hope he gathers about him men and women of noble cause to raise the USA to its proper place as a leader of world democracies.

I choose not to contemplate the alternative, a self serving spiv is not what the world needs right now.

God bless America.

I write as my american friends go to the poles. As I said in my last blog we Europeans have very little idea of what motivates our American cousins. It’s easy to see the bad things, despite the fact that I know many Americans who are truly friends of mine, and they all seem sane and good.

The one thing they have in common is a mighty belief in the American way of life and the individual freedom that it enshrines. I have never met an American who was not kind and generous. On my numerous visits in my youth I was always greeted with good nature and respect. Americans were always too polite to point out my idiosyncrasies, too generous to stint their splendid hospitality.

I never received an unwanted comment about my own country and as far as I am aware I never fell out discussing the UK’s failure to support the Vietnam war, or the UK’s massive cock up in the invasion of Suez.

Should I therefore keep my pen still and avoid any comment on the current election? I find it hard not to criticise the present incumbent of the White House, because he’s so ungentlemanly, which is pretty stupid and very British.

I hope they will forgive me if I just hope that good behaviour will win, even if it is old fashioned.

Across the pond, another world.

As Europeans we watch the American elections with disbelief. The whole process is outside our view of political normality. The American way seems more than foreign, more than alien even, it really is another world.

Dollars, the mighty dollar is the root of everything. No £150 pounds expenditure on election expenses here, on the contrary the more dollars a candidate raises the better chance he/she has of election. I don’t want to appear naive here of course all political parties everywhere tout for funds but the American ‘way’ is off the scale.

You see Americans are obsessed with their idea of freedom. Being successful in America is all about how many dollars you’ve accumulated, and with those dollars you can purchase influence, advertise more, be free and use those dollars to get your way.

Frankly, I am astonished that America elected a misogynist, philandering, ignorant, liar to be their Head of State. But they did, and astonishingly may do so again. Why?

Examining the Constitution and Bill of rights of America is an exercise in discovering the wondrous light of democratic independence. Where did it all go wrong?

It may be that those freedoms expressed have been commandeered by extreme elements and literally applied. The whole nation was founded on hope and the freedoms of escaping a brutal colonialist empire.

The great paradox of the present holder of POTUS is that a braggart who boasts about his great wealth (real or not) is supported largely by those who are without education or wealth. All Trump supporters are what they style as anti-socialist, socialism and a sharing society is an anathema to them.

The Constitutions first words “We the people” affirms that the Governments supports the individual folk who are members not subjects of the state. Yet the fear of interference of the federal state remains acute. The gun toting republicans want to repeal the affordable care act (Obamacare)despite the fact that it will be the core of the republican voters who will benefit, if not most, then certainly very many in the rust belt will . These are massive issues which this side of the pond we do not and perhaps cannot understand.

That the POTUS is allowed to plant rank lies and innuendo about postal votes and actively encourage right wing gangs to intimidate free voting is another astonishing misuse of his power. Yet all Americans seem to put up with it.

What a mess, We hoped when Trump came to power that perhaps he would be unorthodox but use that unorthodox attitude in a positively creative way. How wrong we were.

I devoutly hope the American people see the errors of this choice and choose instead an aged, ordinary but decent man called Biden.

Civil service, consultants and politicians – who is running what?

I see the government is blowing a huge amount of money on consultants on everything from Test and Trace to Brexit. My own experience of consultants does not fill me full of confidence. I should know, because I was one for a while.

The business of leadership is to look after the present, foresee the future and plan accordingly. Then deliver, to sustain growth and wellbeing. Whether it be a political party, or a commercial enterprise (indeed anything in between) then these criteria are self evident. If however, something interrupts these steps, such as corona virus – then certainly the planning for future activity becomes infinitely more difficult.

Should we expect Government to augment its own thinking capacity with a host of outside consultants. By so doing I believe they are confessing that they (the Government) are not very good at planning in a more difficult scenario. Their permanent administrative support comes from the civil service which surely must include planners for this very purpose.

However it seems that the present Government has drafted in hordes of consultants at huge costs. Can the consultants know more about the logistics of International trade than our export logistic contractors combined with our civil service? Yet £88 millions on consultants has already been spent and much more is to follow. I understand that external support is being sought to plan contingency for health product requirements in light of a no deal. Doesn’t the health service and ministry know?

I vividly remember expensive consultants telling my bosses that which the lower echelons already knew. We suspected then and I suspect now that the bosses (Boris and Co) need advice not because they need it but because they are afraid to make decisions that they know will end in difficult dilemmas.

Consultants I believe have been heavily involved in Corvid track and trace in England, it has proved to be shambolic and very expensive, it has been a complete Hancock. But still the Government does not learn.

They are either afraid or incompetent. Take your pick.

Watchdogs need support.

Whilst we’re all submerged in the massive issues of economic collapse and the spread of Corvid 19 it is easy to forget the wonderful gifts right on our doorstep. Not my doorstep but everybody’s. Whether it be our rivers, wetlands, country and marine reserves or ancient monuments.

It is natural to respond to the immediate crisis and hard to keep in mind the things we take for granted. Successive governments have cut and slashed support for virtually all our national watchdog institutions. Sadly our response has been to let things slip. No one responds to farmers who are killing off rivers, no one responds to stop destructive trawling, in a word the people’s representatives have applied resources to the more immediate issues of human needs, school meals, homelessness, law and order, these are just examples.

It seems to me that these watchdogs underfunded as they are, are neither fish nor fowl, neither under local or central Government. Rather a kind of Quangolated agency where no one has a strong enough voice. The problem is not an easy one to solve, after all ultimately neither local or central government has a magic money tree.

I know that a number of these watchdogs already rely heavily on voluntary support, should they be made entirely charitable entities like the RNLI or similar? Or like the hospice movement part Government funded?

We should not stand by and see our environment wrecked simply because Government is short of money. Someone somewhere needs to look at structure, funding and teeth, if we are to sustain our beautiful environment.

Go harass your MP!