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.

 

Passports for what?

Government, even in Wales, are hesitant about vaccination passports. Why?

I am travelling to Spain and I have been given no option other than to get vaccination certificates, or vax passporta by any other name. The government, at least in Wales, insists I pay through the nose for Covid tests after my return, it is compulsary! So why not have a vax passport, while we are excluding choice.

We all received little cards recording our vaccination and apparently these cards can’t be used as passports because they can be forged or copied.. Anybody with the slightest wit would have secured the original card and we’d be all done.

These shortfalls in Government forward thinking would not be tolerated in any half decent business. A simple process has become impossibly complicated because the Governments of the UK are flaffing about the restrictive issues associated with vaccination passports. Again, why?

On my travels I wield my UK passport with a certitude that the Uk is respected, and that I will be given elemental safe passage as a citizen of the UK.

If I were not vaccinated, by choice , then surely the powers that be have the duty to protect the majority and insist that I can prove my vaccination status. Not to do so is a free license to spread the disease and maybe kill my fellow citizens.

I am aware that a minority cannot receive Covid vaccinations, if there is just cause it should be noted. Otherwise I see no reason that the Governments in the UK pander to the balmy conspiracists who insist on avoiding vaccination. It is their choice and if they want to be excluded from social interaction or travel then fine, let it be so.

Liberty, antivaxers,conspiracies, and the law.

Following Matthew Syed’s article regarding fundamentalist religious founded terrorism, I was intrigued to understand the limits of freedom to cause harm, whether through assassination by gun or by lie.

My premise is, that though blowing people up is evil and obvious, antivaxrs for example, cause multiple deaths but in a less obvious and indirect way. Many of them claim that compulsary vaccination is a breach of civil rights.

As for the conspiracists and the snake oil brigade, then any wild assertion such as the establishment injecting poisons and chips (electronic) so that they can spy on us. Well, they are clearly fabricating harmful lies which influence the vulnerable and contribute to the spread of pandemics and multiple deaths.

The issue here is, causing the deaths of unknown humans is by any definition is wrong. However, the right wing lobby insists that vaccinations should be a free choice. They are aginst vaccination passports despite the well known fact that Corona virus kills.

Matthew Syed point is that we should recognise that terrorist attacks are very much driven by religion. That the terrorist who kowingly blow themselves up, really are driven by religious fervour. I agree with him.

What then drives the antivaxers, the freedom from government and the conspiracist lobbies? Their beliefs are in most cases firmly held. Many to a fundamental beleif that is unmoveable. They share that fundamental belief with their kind. Some refuse to acknowledge the immutable fact that pandemics kill. Others acknowledge the danger but are committed to the belief that freedom of choice is a fundamental and immutable right, even if it kills tens of thousands of people.

I might argue that killing is wrong either through religious fervour of obstinate defense of individual right. Is it their right to kill by denying fact, as witnessed by the millions of deaths around the world?

Do those who lead us politically, have the guts and gumption to see that sometimes there must be clear leadership? An ethical decision must surely be made to protect and defend all of us from proven danger. Terror and lies both kill, we should defend against both.

Who will put out the fires?

Has the USA conciously given up the role of the leader of the free world? Does the shambles in Afghanistan signal a surrender to the angst and loathing of idealist states, they vary from Totalitarian to Theocracy, all convnced of their infallibiity. China to Iran and noow Afghanistan, Venezuala to Brazil. All, wild examples of belief and political systems, that many think are out of balance with the perceived needs of humanity.

In Europe, The British are having an identity crisis ex Brexit, (where has the Great gone in old Great Britain?) as is most of Europe, from the Gaulist elitism of the French to the German fear of their future now that the Chancellor Merkell is coming to the end of her reign. The PIGS and Euro crisis is still very much alive, and battles about sovereinty rage amongst several members of the club.

Africa, with few exceptions is locked in corruption and violence, whilst Australia is shackled in the fierce embrace of a coal burning China, struggling to resist their almost total reliance on Chinese exports. The examples are just a few of the many strains that exist

The world is physically and literally on fire, and can such a disparate group of political systems have any chance of coming together to save humanity from itself? It does not look good.

The upcoming conference on climate change may possibly bring these disparate factions together in order to save the planet. Let’s hope so, but if human history is anything to go by, the premise is set to fail. The nearer we get to conflagration of our species the more likely we are to recognise our desperate mutual dependency.

This is an idea that has escaped President Biden of America, let us pray that the future will be led by wise men who recognise their destiny.

How liberal are we?

As we pull out of Afghanistan, following American leadership, is it time to ask ourselves whether democracy should evolve, or be imposed? It seems that the Taliban have complete control of Afghanistan, and maybe their influence is their business and not ours. After all, I hear you say, it’s their country and no business of ours.

I guess we could say the same thing about China and the Uighers, or the Christians in Iraq, or the Kurds, or people of colour in America. Now there’s a progression that is very uncomfortable. The good old USA has been a beacon of democracy for the rest of the world. Or has it?

A tragic mass shooting in the UK this weekend was the first fot many years, we are all moved with sorow and horror. Yet in the liberal USA mass shootings are a regular ocurrance, apparently gun control has nothing to do with these awful happenings and the right to bear arms is more valuable than the innocent lives lost. (My assumption)

Mr Xi in China has created hundreds of thousands of middle class chinese, lifted from dreary poverty. He has done this by absolute rule. What he says, goes! He beleives he’s a good guy, and the persecution of the non conformist is OK for the good of the majority. This guy is Karl Marx and Jesus Christ all rolled into one, he is the absolute ruler of China and is, right now, steam rollering the world in China’s favour.

It all boils down, the cynic would say, to shooting folk if it suits or doing what one man says. Stark choices to be sure, the middle road seems obscure, yet it’s what many of us seek to do. Don’t kid yourself, liberism and democracy have their extremes too.

Killing the sacred cow.

We all love the NHS. We all know that nurses and doctors have worked heroically throughout the pandemic. Yet, we know that the NHS fails to deliver a satisfactory support service in so many ways, not least the failure of a multitude of Governments who have all failed to sort out the intergration of medical and social care.

The consequence of this shortfall is that many people find it difficult to see a doctor, many people are waiting for ambulances for hours, others wait in ambulances outside hospitals, and people wait in A & E sometimes with dire consequences, for hours.

Don’t blame us, they say, the hospital is full, there are no beds. There are no beds because we cannot let chronically unwell people go. It is not our fault. But it is someone’s fault, or something of the system’s fault. The fault exists. Our usual reaction is to pour more money into the NHS.

This is not a question of ‘nobody cares’, of course they do, but nevertheless the whole system, health and social care falls short of what Nye Bevan had in mind. Adequate care that is free at the point of delivery. Even with enormous charitable support, the Hospice movement is buckling under the strain of the demand of the chronically ill, not to mention those who just about manage a declining and misreable old age.

Care workers are undervalued and under paid, many are wonderful a few are not. Why are we surprised? The Local Authorities are charged with providing care packages, whilst the NHS have responsibility for ‘Continuous care plans’. It is clearly a nonsence.

Increasingly, due to the short falls in the system, many are turning to private medicine. Many people even those of a deeply socialist nature are increasingly turning to private medical insurance. Many are re-mortgageing their homes to fund elective surgery. “Elective” it often is not, as the persons concerned are suffering really badly, ruining longevity and what quailiy of life they have left.

A word about carers. The word Carer applies to a huge range of activities that take place in hospitals, hospices and homes. They include assisting in meal preparation,, bathing, dressing, mobility and communication support. The work is intimate and exhausting. Not all of us are physically or mentally equipped for these roles, we must cherish and reward those who are blessed with patience, kindness and generosity of spirit to carry out this important work.

By doctors, (GP’s) not seeing patienst, the strain on A&E and ambulances increases. By not intergrating continuous care and social care we are blocking up valuable beds. So from both ends the NHS is squeezed. The ever increasing take up of private medicine increases strains on the avialbilty of specialists. Walk in to any private consulting room, it will be crowded!

The ageing population is a challenge that is only going to increase, so the pressures on the system in UK is only going one way – up and up! A radical review including the place of insured medical care is not only necessary, it is inevitable. Not only that, the Care sector must be intergrated with that of Health. It will cost, we must pay, and the government must face that. The Government must not rest, and we must sustain a viligence, until we have a sytem that works a good deal better than the one we have now.

Remind me, am I depressed?

Since the lockdown it has been a difficult time for everyone. It seems we have little else to talk about or write about for that matter. I sometimes think, that we are in a national wallowing in self pity. Everything seems about self awareness and group sensitivity. Wokeness and focus of individual issues has ballooned during our recent hideaway culture.

Is it not time we woke up, not Woke up, I mean be aware of the good things in life, the good we receive and the good we can do. Yes, of course many have suffered and many have mourned the premature passing of a loved one, there can be little consolation for them. But the rest of us! Let’s get to it.

Many of us are confused, about Covid and its consequences. Some, a minority, are locked in conspiratorial cabals of delusional nonsense, lets hope they do not infect the rest of us with their nonsense and their real threat of carrying and nurturing of the Covid virus in all its forms.

Now is the time for the majority to give thanks for their deliverance by vaccine and to think positively about rebuilding our lives , even if that does mean permanent change. The lockdown has been for many an excuse to do nothing, a time to switch off. You could call this depression, if you will. I prefer to think of it as laziness of spirit.

This idleness has truly infringed our life styles, it has paralysed our sense of initiative and closed us behind the cold doors of fear. All this has been stoked up by such luminaries as the Duke of Sussex and his mate who have rambled on about how hard the world is and how beastly everyone has been to them. Is it not time we all woke up and see the sun shine, watch the leaves change, watch the birds fledge, see the cricketers, and hear the choirs. For Goodness sake – wake up and lets get on with our wonderful lives.

In the UK we have a Government lead by a buffoon, who makes things up as he goes along. Probably as good a way as any, no one really knows. Devolution illustrates once and for all our tribal desires to be at odds with paper tigers and the fripperies of liberal politics.

In the long term we believe what we are conditioned to believe, the more we read of national depression, the ruination of education, the more we tend to absorb the bad news. Good new seldom make good headlines. The Vaccines works, there are matters as yet unresolved, but so there are about the mutations of influenza and pneumonia, yet we don’t harp on about then every day. Like ‘Flu we have to live with Covid. Let’s us face it, get on with it. It is after all a problem the human race has positively faced and is on the way to solving.

Tomorrow is another day full of opportunity or woe depending on your view. We are doomed if woe shuts out the light of opportunity.

Cummings and goings!

Are we surprised by the utterances of Mr Cummings, probably not! Do we believe him? Probably not!

Dom Cummings is a bright intelligent man who is obviously a huge egocentric believer in all things that Cummings sees and hears, whether real or imagined. This is a man who like Boris Johnson, who thinks what he says goes. Irrespective of considered logic.

Both Johnson and Cummings have common fetures mainly based around their super egos. Cummings is unpopular because he is humourless and Boris is popular because he is humorous. That tells us more about ‘us ‘ in general that it does about either of these figures.

Of course there were grains of truth in what Cummings told the select committee, I have no doubt that there were speculative thoughts about ‘what if’ scenarios. What if we did nothing? What if we allowed herd immunity? How many would die if…? What will be the cost to the economy if…? Of course there must have been scenario projections about all sorts of things, including travel restrictions, Mr Mohdi’s visit, etc etc.

Bye and large the UK has done well in terms of immunisation and curtailment of the corona virus, yes we have made mistakes, of course we have.

Sadly the truth will not out, nor, would some say. does it matter. Of course it does matter because as we screw up the planet more plagues will come and we had better be ready. The amazing thing is that the English will vote for centrist economics, the Welsh will vote for dependency of socialism and the Scots and Northern Irish for their nationalist causes, come what may. Overarching all these issues will have little to do with truth and fact.

Is it true that the NHS is wonderful? Yes and no. Is it true that UK is a international and leading power? Yes and no. Is it true that the Brexit issues are good for UK? Yes and No. All this ambiguity is too much for the average voter.

They are dominated by the cults of personality and tradition. Right now smiling at the PM dangling from a zip line is more appealing than a wrecked labour party. Mr Cummings has a point, but he is not a laughing matter.

A false injection of nationalism.

The elections are done, and the United Kingdom remains united for now. Boris the buffoon has consolidated his hold on the majority of the former working class ‘so called’ red wall, whilst Scotland and Wales have remained largely unchanged with the SNP and Welsh Labour firmly in control.

All in all, the electorate felt their leaders were doing a good job especially when it came to managing the Corvid pandemic and the immunisation programs. That the supply of vaccines was almost entirely the responsibility of the UK government went largely unnoticed, while Sturgeon and Drakeford lauded their management of the pandemic. In reality they doled out the vaccines and followed the Westminster lead with occasional minor initiatives of their own.

What we have witnessed is a weirdly shallow response that has taken no interest in the sharper and more important issues facing the British democratic model. No mention of fiscal deficit from either Scotland or Wales. No mention that Johnson is a superficial wit who will say anything to get a vote or a laugh. Both seem equally important to him and surprisingly to the electorate too. No mention of the nature of the union, no real response to the blunders in the results of the Brexit compromise.

All the political leaders gained from the national pandemic, all were praised for their leadership, when all that’s really changed is that they appeared on TV at least once a week. Every time their primary concern has been their personal commitment to the safety of those in their care. ‘I’m looking after you.’ has been the mantra of all those in power. All those aspiring to challenge have been at a huge disadvantage, since any criticism has taken on the impression of treasonous, selfish ambition.

It has always been the UK prime Minister Johnson’s way to say whatever comes into his head. Some ideas are good, i.e. reform of social care, (not yet thought through) some less good at least to some, i.e. leaving the EU, (definitely not thought through)and some definitely bad such as his throw away remarks condemning Nazanin Zaghari-Radcliffe to years in jail.

All these so called leaders Johnson, Sturgeon and Drakeford have one thing in common, – power in the time of adversity. Their personalities are all different, but they have all received masses of exposure to a scared electorate.

No wonder then we got the results we did. It shows that the electorate votes not for ideas but for illusions. Illusions about who will lead us to a better place. The characters who come into our homes every day and tell us what a great job they are doing. The heroism ascribed to the regional (national) leaders is largely circumstantial, it is only in Northern Ireland that a national leader has lost the patina of leadership, where real political fervour has been exacerbated by Brexit mistakes that really make a difference.

Both Wales and Scotland have massive fiscal deficits with the Westminster Government, it must be time where it is obvious to all that the United Kingdom has resources that need better distribution, not separation in to smaller units. Yes, the South East of England has the largest economy, the greatest wealth and the most people. That wealth though is used to support all areas of the United Kingdom. All the three national entities Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are supported from Westminster, all have massive fiscal deficits.

Scotland’s drive for independence seems to pose more questions than answers, Wales determines to stay at arms length stubbornly declining initiative to open up, these are illusions of tribal grandeur. We all have our nationalities of which we are rightly proud, but voting for braggarts and eccentrics is no way to enhance our futures.

No, it won’t be alright! Ireland will return to troubled waters.

When Boris once again, sold the DUP down the river, he assured Arlene Foster that it would all come good. Nothing to worry about, after Brexit it will all settle down.

Well it’s all going predictably pear shaped, the Northern Ireland situation is teetering towards mayhem once more. The Brexit so called compromise resulted in a border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK. Boris as ever bumbled round the situation and claimed it would all settle down and return to normal (whatever normal means). Of course it has not. The whole of Northern Ireland properly feels affronted by being treated differently to the rest of the UK. The Unionists are about to be caught in a vice between Sinn Fein and their own disenchanted followers. Violence and insurrection are almost inevitable.

It is obvious to everyone that the Peace Process is and has always been imperfect. Now the the apparently sacrosanct promise that there will never be a hard border between the North and Ireland is proving an impossible hurdle. The original peace agreement chose to ignore the possibility of Brexit. There has never been a solution which satisfies the EU, the Unionists and the UK Government.

There are only limited options 1) the unification of Ireland, and 2) An agreement between the EU and UK that all destination documents and taxes are carried out in UK ports, according to the overall Brexit agreement.

Either solution needs early and urgent attention, if Boris and his crowd of chums don’t hurry up it will be back to mayhem. Boris will bumble on.

The Downing Street Flat – Who cares? – Ask Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe!

The common herd, which excludes the Bullingdon Boys and their like, apparently don’t give a toss about Boris’ complete disregard for rules whether he tells lies or bends the system. After all he’s full of charm, wit, and comic bluster. Those qualities are apparently just what we need in a Prime Minister.

Not a week ago, David Cameron was in the spotlight for his dishonesty in using his position as an ex-PM to influence his former buddies. (Not breaking the rules mind you!) The stories go on and on, whether its track and trace or Healthcare supplies. As far as Boris is concerned, no one cares as long as his Government achieves their goals which includes lining the pockets of their chums.

We can all understand Boris’s thinking, I can do what I like as First Lord of the Treasury and Prime Minister, or even as Foreign Minister when his unprepared gaff, committed Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe to more years of savage imprisonment. The Tory party didn’t give a damn they voted him in to lead and everyone then were so pleased he got a thumping majority.

What does it tell us about ourselves as a democracy? Well, firstly poor old Mrs. May was hopeless, secondly we wanted out of the EU, and thirdly Bonhomie counts more than substance.

Well, we had better wake up or Boris and Cameron and their like will soon be running an autocracy where honesty doesn’t matter a jot. I am a life long Tory who believes in conserving what is good and improving where we need to, but enough is enough. Get rid of Boris or lose my vote.