Black Lives Matter.

Of course they do, it’s obvious, all lives matter. What most folk don’t understand is that people of colour whether American or not, have suffered and continue to suffer, because of the colour of their skin. They suffer because of us, not because we are penitent for passed insult and injury, they suffer because of the history imposed upon them. They suffer because of the legacies of that history.

We cannot wipe away the sins of the past nor can many of us clean our minds of prejudice. We all live with the burden of our ancestry and the tribal instincts and behaviour patterns bequeathed by them.

There are many levels of prejudice, of nation against nation, of neighbour against neighbour, of age group against age group, there is no end to our prejudice. However we are by and large able to hide most of our fears, for fears are what prejudice is. We are afraid of differences which we do not understand.

If I were born as a brown baby the same time as a white baby and we were brought up together without a mirror, the first image, on discovering a mirror, would be myself. I would be afraid because I was not the same as my companion since birth. Without external tribal influence that perception of difference would soon fade.

Yet, the world is full of prejudice, and prejudice against the colour of one’s skin is held the most widely. History has shown time and again that invading civilizations inevitably dominate and adopt a superior attitude from those they have conquered. It is in the nature of the deed – to conquer, to subjugate, and to profit from.

The Conquerors; from ancient times of the Indus Valley, China or Persia, to the European discoverers of the New World, these so called civilizations have laid waste and slaughtered tribes and races without number. It has ever been thus, even to today, where tribal friction continues in Messopotamia (The Middle East) where it all began.

Throughout modern times the world has struggled with religious and ethnic conflicts, the use of physical force being the most common but often fruitless method of resolution. There have been other forms of revolution which have been idealistic where folk for one reason or another have separated out, the Mayflower passengers hoping to escape religious persecution is just one example. Yet the Pilgrim fathers and the Puritan rulers of New England were slavers too, as were native Americans who enslaved other tribesman and women as well as European settlers.

Since the fifteenth century Europeans have enslaved Africans, often with the connivance of African leaders. Even Columbus had slaves from Africa amongst his ships company.

In the following years the European slavers hideously exploited the black slave market to the Americas, this is not the place for historical detail, but suffice it to say that millions of black Africans were exploited and on their backs, the British Empire was built. Over four centuries until the time of Wilberforce in the nineteenth century this hideous trade in human life continue unabated. The sheer numbers of the abhorrent trade and treatment of Black African slaves is only equalled by the slaughter and attempted genocide of the European Jewish Holocaust. In our modern day we’ve seen many other outrages from Syria, Rwanda to Srebrenica, all, when considered in the calmness of the moment, – hideous and beyond imagination.

The British during the days of Empire famously exported convicts, men women and children to the colonies. Irish indentured slaves were sent to the Caribbean, and so on and on. There seems little limit to man’s inhumanity to man.

The question arises of tense, of evolution of the human awareness. What was matter of fact in the sixteen hundreds, slavery, public executions, extremes of poverty are now abhorred, and in our twenty first century mindset it seems more than obvious.

The cessation of UK rule in the American continent signalled a huge change, at last, a democracy without class or prejudice. The American Constitution in 1789 and the consequent BIll of Rights, shone as the great new instruments that were to found freedom and democracy.

However, with disparate states in America and the universal greed of man, slavery continued, until the end of the Civil war in 1865, when the 13th amendment to the US Constitution said that no man shall be enslaved or constrained in involuntary servitude.

Essentially 400 years have passed when the great powers of the new and old order grew their economies on the backs of African slaves. So too, did the Spanish and Portuguese empires in the South.

In these brutal 400years there grew the pernicious belief that those enslaved were inferior to those who enslaved them. Economies were built on these beliefs, education, health and welfare were reserved for the slave masters who were almost exclusively white. Since that time and the heroic efforts of Lincoln, Wilberforce, Mahatma Gandhi, Luther King and Mandela and many others, the huge momentum to change attitude and to hold up the mirror and ‘not be afraid of each other’ has moved sluggishly on.

Attitudes pervade many so called democratic societies, the caste system in India, the rank prejudice in Europe and America exacerbated by mass migration, the fear of immigration from Australia to Azerbaijan. Ignorance and fear still dominate so that we fear the difference of colour. As we grow to know our brothers and sisters of whatever colour, our fear will subside and our societies become more equal.

Can we not share these blinding injustices, and find it impossible to tolerate the rate of change? My friends of colour want yesterday as well as tomorrow to be their equal day. Until that happens, let us hope that BLACK LIVES MATTER stays in the hearts of us all.

Sleep walking into the Chinese Juggernaut.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Caring for each other.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What next? Planet or Profits.

As the world struggles with Corva-19 Virus economic worries are slowly but surely overtaking health concerns. This is a fundamental choice and the human race is in danger of making the wrong choice.

It is true that the Virus has rendered our financial capitalist model invalid, yet the world seems to know little other than to retrace its steps to a ruined habitat. Is there not another way?

The Chinese, many people’s villain of the piece, clearly do not think so, and are already belching out pollution, accelerating their manufacturing base to seek an economic advantage.

Listening to my favourite world leader, (I don’t think) you would believe that we must race to the bottom as fast as possible, ignoring climate change and planet melt down on the way.

The world is not short of lunatic leaders, and collectively China, USA, Brazil and India will lead us to a climate as well as a health Armageddon with the minimum of delay.

This heath message is a wake up call. Yes there are enormous questions to be answered, and many will be painful solutions for us all. Whilst it must be obvious to a donkey that fossil fuels are no longer viable economically and environmentally, it will take great courage to accelerate away from old ideas to new ones.

It is my fond hope that the voters in America will lead us toward a new beginning. We cannot afford to fail again.

New Books

My latest book shown above was a joy to write. Growing old is something we all have to do. That is the main subject of the book.

The main protagonists go through the whole range of emotions from fear, a feeling of uselessness, to a renewal of excitement as new relationships are made. There is joy, sadness too but together with warm memories and new beginnings, life is new, love is abroad, and time is precious.

Our relationships both past or present yeild new opportunities to enjoy our own talents, whether re-invigorated, or re-examined in the sunshine of our lives.

Opportunities to be at peace with our children and their futures.

In light of modern history this book will give comfort and laughter to many. Enjoy!

We don’t know what we don’t know

I have spent some considerable time researching the ins and outs, truths and lies, and shades of opinion about Brexit. I continue to be astonished by the ignorance that attends arguments on both sides.

It seems to me that the most important issues to understand are the cultural issues that drive the factions, this way or that. There is growing support for the belief that future financial modelling can mean whatever the modeller wants it to mean.

I enumerate some of the dominant ideas on both sides of the fence,

1 Leave:

We are the only country in Europe who have never been invaded. (Since mediaeval times.) Consequently we need to keep our independence and do our own thing.  We won the war so we are better soldiers etc. and we don’t need these less than reliable neighbours telling what to do. We led the world from the middle ages and our influence remains strong, far and wide.  If we stay in Europe we will lose our voice.

Keep control of our borders, keep our NHS etc. for us the Brits!

The EU is a vast bureaucracy, with a bunch of petty bureaucrats from tin pot places like Belgium and Luxembourg telling us what to do.

We have the best judicial system in the world, we don’t want judges in Brussels or Strasbourg making decisions beyond our control.

2 Stay:

EU is second biggest trading block in the world, over 50% of our exports rely on the EU.  Imports likewise.  Free trade with such a huge trading block underpins our prosperity and to leave would be absolute folly and result in huge detriment to our financial and wealth prospects.  Many thousands of jobs will be lost.

The EU has been the biggest and most lasting influence for peace in Europe for the last half century or more.  To fragment such an edifice of solidarity and mutual support is madness.

The cooperation in non- trade matters, as in science and education is phenomenal and gives member states huge advantages both as lead contributors and supporters.

3 Don’t knows:

I’d like the benefits of being in the EU but I like the idea of being a free agent in the world. In fact I have very little idea of what I want, nor in many cases do I care.

These illustrations are far from exhaustive, but I can see the appeal of the first two.  For the third ‘Ignorance is bliss’.

You could summarise (with some trepidation) Leave: Living in the past.  Stay: Fear of change, comfort in status quo.

The snag is these dominant ideas are very narrow.  Yes they are easy to assimilate, but they really are less than half the story.    Neither argument addresses key issues such as the economic instability of the Euro, the implications for NATO, or indeed what is going on in the rest of the world. 

The electorate is virtually equally divided (give or take 4%) and that voting opinion is founded on these much oversimplified dominant ideas.

Taking the Brexit issue in isolation, the prospects are that politicians will hammer home these oversimplified arguments and polarise the Leavers and the Remainers. 

The prospect for the next election is bleak. And whatever you believe, the winner will be ignorance, delivering oversimplified ideas and promises which no one will be able to execute or deliver.

It ain’t half hot Mum!

These protesters are a pain aren’t they, going on about climate change. What a lark eh? How do they all get there in their thousands, by train or car? Not doin’ much for global warming or the carbon footprint – what ever that is?
These are some of the comments I’ve heard over the last weeks. They clearly illustrated that most of us have no idea what we are talking about. Most people think that if the world goes on a diet of low carbon it will be OK. Will it?
Global climate change is not like putting on weight that a short term diet can put right. Global climate change is something that is cumulative, that is to say, what we’ve done already is not going to be undone easily. That carbon burden is there and will only increase with alarming consequences very, very soon unless the human race gets its act together, and pretty damn quick at that.
There is no going back to where we were, so the massive weather changes we’ve seen over the last few years are going to become standard, typhoons and hurricanes, flooding and polar melts are now a permanent feature of our planet.

Do we care?

How obvious do these changes have to become before we get serious, how many famines, how many storms, how many forest fires before really get a grip on renewables and cut down on fossil fuels?

Clowns like President Trump have no interest in the future of our planet. Before we deride him though, we should take a hard look at ourselves. Yes, the time has come. It is here right now!

What can you and I do? Even small things help, turn down the gas, get a new boiler, drive a bit slower, think about your next car. Chivvy up the Government, maybe fly less, pay carbon tax (it’ll make you think) – do something, do it now

Erdogan and Trump complicit killers. Shame on us all!

The Presidents of Turkey and the USA are aiding one another in the ruthless ethnic cleansing of the Kurdish community in Northern Syria.  Yes, we understand that the Turkish/Kurdish relationship has for ever been strained and that real enmity exists between the two.  However mass murder should never be the answer.

We know that President Trump makes things up as he goes along.  The man is a simpleton, particularly when it comes to foreign affairs, but these decisions of his amount to signing the death warrants of many of the Kurdish people who were, till last week, his allies. Women and children and old folk will die from the horrors of a vicious onslaught from Erdogan’s forces as well as gallant Kurdish soldiers.

It is worth remembering, that it was these very soldiers who bore the brunt of the war against ISIL, the very people who took responsibility for the ISIL prisoners when we in the West refused to do so. We in UK and EU are by no means with clean hands.

We must not underestimate the complexity of the issues facing Syria and all its native components. However, The USA has until now been crucial in keeping the various factions in some sort of order. The many coalitions and allies are now breaking up, with Erdogan chancing his arm to sort ‘the Kurdish Problem’ with a free pass from President Trump to carry out this awful ethnic cleansing.

Yet again we are reminded of the consequences of lunatic populism, and stupidity at the highest levels.  Some, like Erdogan, are basically evil totalitarians in waiting.  Once more the liberal centre sits on its hands while children and their mothers die.  Shame on us all. �=z7R�7

The NIMBY’s, who are they?

Mass Migration and the NIMBY’s.  Who knows? Who cares?

Venezuela, Mexico, Columbia, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Syria, Iran, Yemen, Eritrea, Sudan, Somalia and Nigeria. (not an exhaustive list by any means)

What do these countries have in common? 

People don’t like living in these places because of war, persecution, brutality, starvation, disease and just plain old poverty. 

How many people are on the road, carrying all they can to escape their collective misery?  Maybe Seven Million or more.

Who cares?  Not many.

What to do?  No idea. Keep them out of here, that’s the common view though not loudly expressed.

Where do they want to go?  To better places, – are you stupid?  Where is that?  Anywhere better than where they come from.  No matter how hard the journey, no matter how high the risk, no matter what the cost. Families separate, mums and dads die in the attempt, children too, drowned or starved or frozen. They seek the richer countries, where there is peace, a semblance of law and order, where there is food, education for the kids, where there is shelter, healthcare, jobs and tolerance and human kindness.

Not in my backyard though, because I live at the top of the wealth ladder, I have a roof, a garden, healthcare, education, law and order, orderly neighbours.  I don’t want a bunch of desperate immigrants in my street.  Seven million!  You must be joking.  Why, can’t they look after themselves? Venezuela is meant to be one of the richest oil countries in the world, for goodness sake why can’t they solve their own problems?

I know and so do you, but do we care?  We will give a coin to charity, but will we give anything more. Like a welcome to the desperate, or even a nod to those in need. hgse_toh�o�B�

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.