The Kings and Queens of the Britain

Queen Elizabeth the Second – what comes next?

Anyone who claims to be a democrat would argue that whoever is our Head of State should be elected. The Monarchy is an anathema of by gone days. Yet, the passing of the great Queen Elizabeth the Second, has shown an incredible outpouring of grief, and such a torrent of respect that it would be hard to imagine for anyone, outside our own families.

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth was without doubt a Head of State that brought the Commonwealth of Nations into being, a new bastion for democracy, showed a consistency and fairness in all things, and despite the load managed to be loved by so many of her (subjects) constituents.

Many will argue that the privilege of Royalty is an old fashioned concept, no longer needed, and that indeed the late Queen did have deficiencies as a person (Aberfan), as a mother (Returning from Australia to pat young Charles on the head), as a family matron (the failure of her children in marriage and in the wider world). All these reservations have some merit, but, despite them this great lady held the country in her heart, was a great proponent of democracy (The Commonwealth of nations expanded from few to many in her reign). She did it in a way that was constant and kind. She did it with a generosity of spirit that embraced 007 and Paddington Bear, as well as the umpteen Prime Ministers who passed through her door.

Being above politics, for some means that you have to take election, or currying favour, out of the equation. In the British Constitution of parliamentary democracy the Royal Head of State works well with the balance of the elected and non elected establishment. Of course, the House of Lords has become unbalanced in shape and form and needs constitutional reform, a task that the new King will not be able to avoid entirely.

Personally, I must give thanks for the life of Elizabeth my Queen for Seventy years. Her life has been in many ways an example to us all. I sincerely hope that a slimmed down monarchy continues to be head of our British constitution. If I were a religious man I would shout, “God save the King!”

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Ashamed of my Government, too little, too late!

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

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

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

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

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.

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.