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!”


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.

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.

Will we care so much?

During the Corvo19 pandemic we have all be come much more aware of our own frailties and other people’s kindnesses. Caring has become a by word. Across the world people stand on their door step each night and applaud the front line fighters who risk their lives on our behalf.

The disciplines imposed on us have in some way united us and in other ways frightened us as our economies dissolve into chaos. The world is indeed changing, and changing fast.

Will the greed that has dominated the global economy engulf us with impatient grabbing of economic advantage? Or will we consider caring for each other and our planet. It seems already there are many toting guns and slogans that wish to forego caring for each other and our planet and want to point fingers and kick and scratch for another buck.

The world holds its breathe, the human race tip toes on the edge. Which way will we jump? The Chinese skies are already leaden with the filthy fumes of industry, the Australian Government encourages its dependency on coal exports, Trump of course is Trump, Brazil continues to exhaust the world’s lungs.

Do the carers care enough? Will their voice be heard?

The White House : 4:45pm

“Right, Pence, you’re number 2 right?” I’m number 1 and America is No 1 that makes me no one in the world right?” I am the greatest president in history there is no doubt of that. I am number one, so when we get ou there remember I’m number one, OK?”

Pence, “Yes sir.”

“I am the greatest leader this country has ever known, there were more people at my inauguration, those false news guys cleared out lots for the television. Anyway, they now know I’m so good now. make sure you disinfect your hands Pence, and do we have to ‘doctor death’ out there? We don’t want any death counts, you get me ? I want to be up beat, I don’t want to talk about dead Americans, I want to talk about those who are making America great again. You Got me Pence? Everything’s getting better, I don’t want any false news, everything is on the up, OK?” What’s the message today Mike?”

“It’s on the Board Mr .President, right below ‘the cat sat on the mat’.

“I don’t want to talk about Governors of New York, gassing on about death, can we talk about me some more, you know I’m the greatest,,,greatest, President this country ever had. I think we could tell them that, what do you think?”

“Mr. President you have to mention Corvid 19 virus. We have it under control, we have built hospitals in s days, nobody has done that before. There’s nothing in them, but they are fancy buildings, but we built them so quickly most folk didn’t notice.”

“what else have we done Pence?”

“We’ve done a lot of smart things, we can tell them that.”

“We’ve 5 hundred million masks, we’ve got more ventilators, we are just the greatest. We’ve done more testing than anybody! Right? I’m on top of all this. We are great and I will make America great again.”

“We have Fox news here to ask nice questions because thay are the most wonderful peopole in the world. We have the generally the best economy ever but of course we don’t want every one dead, even if there’s a lot of disinfectant, people are washing the hands, and slow all this down. the American people have been saved by ne and my team”.

“No false news guys today, so now we’ll get America great again.”

“Ok, let’s go!” I’ve got it!”

Challenges and Choices.

Starting up economies will not be easy.

All the countries that have suffered heavily from Corvid 19 have engaged in shut downs of various severities.   The consequent collapse of all these economies has and is dire. The world has virtually stopped working, the question is, how do they get it working again?

Obviously there is the risk that if we open up the pandemic may well return with a vengeance. There are also huge problems of infrastructure and industry. Obviously it is no good opening a company if its supply chain is incomplete, i.e. If jack buys from Jill and makes an addition to sell on, it’s no good Jack opening if Jill is still shut down.

Then how will people get to work, when will the tube trains be safe to be full?

Do we know who has the virus? Do we know if a second wave may be more potent than the first?

These issues are simply expressed here, but Governments who rush to switch the economy on, are taking huge risks.  Those who hesitate will perhaps slip behind in the economic league.

These are huge challenges and choices.   Add to these enormous problems is the look to the future, what does this pandemic teach us?  Many things I think.

1 Viral pandemics are more likely to happen in the future due principally to mankind’s disrespect of the planet both animal and environment.

2 The greedy top economies will be slow to ease environmental stress, see Brazil,  USA,  China  et al.

3 Despite the carnage of this pandemic the big economies will focus on renewal and wealth creation rather than equipping themselves to defend and prepare for the next attack see 1 above.

4 I cannot close this blog without referring to the lunatic running the USA.  Cummon’ folks wake up! He has to go if the planet is to have a chance, No more of this guy!!!!!!

The Virus v Liberty.

The Virus versus liberty

The people of the USA are flouting ‘stay at home’ measures in their thousands in Ohio, Maryland, Wisconsin, Michigan, Colorado, Washington State, and Texas. Some amongst them have carried rifles!  They have ben egged on by the man who bet on two horses in a two horse race and lost.  Trump that!

There is clearly a conflict between advice from the State and the feelings of the man in the street, the economic cost of the pandemic is hitting hard in areas where the virus has not yet taken deep root.

Most non-Americans are troubled by the meandering mixed insensible and insensitive messages from the American leader, who shamelessly is using the pandemic as a re-election platform. We mustn’t sneer at the leading democracy in the world, the leader indeed of the free world as we have known it. That Trump is rambling, as some see it, whilst his supporters see a man of their ilk, speaking as he sees it.

In some ways, if the pandemic is not exacerbated by these crowded demonstrations, then the liberty lobby will shout “I told you so.”  If however the number of virus victims grows, then there will be nowhere to hide. 

The Democratic candidate sadly is practically invisible, since the POTUS is using his free briefing broadcast time to unashamedly campaign, there is no way Biden has a chance.

The flagrant misuse of airtime, the incoherent blather of a brutally ambitious individual risks the fall of the key values of the United States of America. 

Not only is this pandemic ruining the world economy, it is also facilitating the collapse of democracy as we know it.  With a twice elected clown, the future of world trade and economic balance will be in enormous jeopardy. The former leadership of the free world will morph into yet another totalitarian state, where people like Trump, Putin and Bolsonaro rule the formerly free  world.

Lock Down!

Lock Down!

Where are you?  I am literally on a tropical island locked down quite severely.  I am old and getting older by the day.  Being locked down has made me feel as if I’m in a timeless prison, I can’t go forward and I can’t go back.  My brain wakes slowly from a miserable deformed sort of rest.  Not really a rest at all, just an excuse to close my eyes and pass the hours, day or night doesn’t matter much.

I look out over palm trees to a rolling Caribbean sea, its lovely. Unfailingly beautiful, never quite the same, the clouds scud heavily by, the rain pours in buckets. The sun beats down through a target clear sky.  It changes non-stop.  Sometimes wearing and beating me down with a solid banging of furnace hot strikes, sometimes breathing the most wonderful caress of the freshest air. Can I imagine the fumes, overcrowding, homelessness and poverty of Lagos and Cairo, of Calcutta and Mumbai, of New York and Los Angeles?

How lucky am I? No question.  I read more than I’ve ever read before, books that have entranced and bored me in equal measure.  In all those words, slavishly squeezed from imaginations sometimes fantastic, sometimes small. The sea still rolls in, the palm trees still sway.

Enter the television, the zoom and the computer, news, news and more news.  All about the disease and the spread of a virus that could kills us all.  After a while, we’ve heard enough, this country, that country, he’s dead, she’s dead.  I’ve become unsensitised to thousands and thousands of deaths. It has all become a dreadful bore. Just as I have become unsensitised to the homeless near my UK home.

Hang on a minute, what if I die?  What if my son/daughter dies? Then the whole thing gets personal.

Until then, there’s nothing but boredom unless of course you’re a ‘front line worker’ involved, fighting, risking, giving, and dying even. We clap and cheer and I think envy those who are involved. In a curious way this pandemic is creating heroes and villains. The villains confined in lockdowns twiddling their thumbs and waiting for it all to be over.

At least most of the villains are passive sitting it out, just quietly complaining about the heroes’ odd failing.  Some villains are definitely worse than others, taking risks, shouting absurd conspiracy theories, promising the impossible, flouting their government’s directives, and endangering other people known and unknown.

When it will all be over, what then?  I hope that many of the villains will step up, wake up, work and help each other, for surely things will never be the same. Let us hope that there will be new heroes, who will knock our heads together and remind us how precious our habitat is.

There is and always will be, room for heroes. Perhaps one day it may be me, or maybe you.

You ain’t seen nothung ,yet!

Will the Covid-19 alter the way that the wold works?  What will happen after the virus is conquered?  Will it be conquered, or will it come again in wave after varied wave?

There is a school which ventures that the future post the virus attack will be much the same but in a more exaggerated way. i.e. Liberal democracies will continue to decline, populists, oligarchs and authoritarian autocrats will increase.  Nation states will resist globalisation.  The USA will continue in its economic war with China.

Interestingly these two great powers have handled the corona virus outbreak quite differently, China with authoritarian power to lock down after a stream of fake news and disinformation.  The USA hopelessly boasting that it was too big and strong to be affected. Brazil also run by a boastful leader is falling into the same trap. China at least understood the gravity of the pandemic, whilst the US has done too little too late to prevent it from becoming the world’s biggest victim.

The exceptions have been Taiwan, South Korea and Germany who have reacted decisively and clearly into testing and lockdown and so defended so far the extreme consequences of the pandemic.

We are yet to see the virus sweep through the countries of high population and low social economies like Nigeria, India and South Africa. There are huge and impossibly large waves of infection and death yet to strike. Yet the world still concentrates on the wealthier states.

Additionally the pandemic will leave in its wake massive economic damage.  Unemployment will exceed even that of the great depression.

Governments of whatever hue must respond in balancing social and economic repair, failure to do so may well result in a revolution that will tear down the pillars of both right and left, at least as we know them today.  I cannot see a day where democratic liberals will rule the day. Let us hope that the strong men and women who fill their places will have the humanity to build a more sensitive world which respects the nature of our species and its habitat.