So, another bullet post. Where to begin? Well, the obvious place I think. The increasingly bizarre and frightening state of British politics.
- When I turned off the television after the news and opened my laptop, Liz Truss was still Prime Minister, or Prim Monster as I started thinking of her today. Only yesterday I felt sorry for her, sorry please note, not sympathy. We are sufficiently and unfortunately familiar with scenes of bombings, how a city that has taken decades, even centuries, to build can be reduced to rubble in a few short hours. The same is true of democracy. Not that this country, my country, was in a good state before Liz Truss was elected by a tiny number of people who are paid up members of the Tory party to her current office. She took over from Boris Johnson, who is still probably ahead of her on points as the worst Prime Minister this country has ever suffered. That’s how bad he was. So like a game of jackstraws, all Truss had to do was dislodge one straw to bring the whole tumbling edifice down. Johnson’s rats and poor housekeeping, ego driven projects, laziness and vanity had left democracy teetering. Truss could have tried to put us on surer ground, but that is not what happened. She appointed a cabinet of allies with as little disregard for the safety of democracy, indeed with a distain for democracy to match Johnson’s. He lied and blustered, courted with charm (or so I am told, but I can’t say I ever saw it myself), she promised much and delivered less than nothing or nothing minus with the fanatical gleam of the fantasist. I don’t think Johnson ever really believe what he said. He is a man who just wants power. Truss does believe. They match each other in arrogance. They have both been found out.
- So when is the general election, the one Truss has told her party she wants to lead it into? The sooner the better, but it’s not going to work quite like that I imagine. I should like to see a Labour government with a balanced House of Commons, with the Green Party, the Lib Dems, the SNP playing a crucial role as effective members of the opposition. I don’t want to see Labour with a landslide victory. Governments need to be held to account, and more than ever we need calm heads and people from all sides working together. Working together does not mean nodding along with whatever the main party says, it means getting that party to carry out its obligations to all the country, listening, compromising, making the best decisions. I would normally vote Green. I’d like to see PR replace FPTP, but that’s a pipe dream for the moment, and the Tories have skewed things so that even when they get a smaller share of the vote they win more seats and get to form the government, so I shall vote tactically, and against my personal choice.
- The fact that Jeremy Hunt, when Minister for Health, ignored advice to stock up on vital PPE as a pandemic was sure to arrive earlier rather than later, and the shape shifting Grant Schapps, man with multiple identities, whose baiting of the rail unions and false claims about their members’ pay was both despicable and calculated, are now both seen as the safest hands in government is beyond lamentable.
- The only silver lining, and it may turn out to be tin rather than silver, is that Suella Braverman has gone. As one of those tofu eating, Guardian reading, remainers she denounced in the Commons as the Wokerati the other day, I was somewhat surprised and disturbed by her claim that the current eco protest and disruption are my fault. True to form, she was not interested in debate, it sounded very much as though she’d just like to line us up and suit us. I should make it plain that I have never glued myself to anything or thrown tomato soup at a picture behind glass. She also had plans to tag me and many others electronically as we have taken part in peaceful protests. She’d probably like to deport me too, make me one of those on a forced plane ride to Rwanda, but as I have an EU passport as well as a UK one, I imagine my forced removal would see me relocated some closer to here.
Some years ago there was a programme on Channel 4 which followed a group of troubled teens to Utah where they were enrolled in something called Brat Camp. I was sceptical about it at first, but for most it was a turning point, an opportunity to reset the dial. It was tough, but it was also caring. There were boundaries, the chance to talk to learn. It was rehabilitation. I should love a ‘where at they now?’ follow up to see how they are doing. Maybe they could do voice overs and not appear if they want to retain some anonymity. I can’t help feeling it is an experience most of the current government needs.
- Today I had my ‘flu vaccination at a local pharmacy. While I was waiting, an elderly woman came in and said she had received a letter telling her she was due for her fifth COVID vaccination. Fifth? I only had my fourth a month ago. Tomorrow I fly (in a plane, I haven’t grown wings) to Belfast so I am in NI for Uncle Bill’s 101st birthday tea next week. With the state of British politics I can’t help wishing unification in Ireland will come rather more quickly than most people think. Mother used to say the Irish had too long memories, that they hang onto past wrongs, and refuse to see a future where they can move forward together. I do hope she was wrong. I don’t mean everyone should forget the wrongs that have happened, but a bit of truth and reconciliation would not be amiss. Carrying the scars of our collective and individual pasts around with us, handing them like sacred texts into the next generation, does not heal. Nor does airbrushing it out of history books. History can help us see what was wrong in the past and build a better future. I’m not expressing myself well, and I read this piece in the Guardian the other day around this subject. Do read it.
- While in NI I’ll be mainly in the countryside, but a few trips to Belfast, other than the one for Uncle Bill”s birthday, are on the cards. I hope to meet up with Petra, not sure what Fiona is up to and I must text her, and am very excited, though we haven’t got definite plans, to meet Mr Horace Papers‘ creator, Sue Cathcart. Uncle Bill’s birthday card is one of her creations. The plan is to exchange calendars, one of the Ginger Ninja’s for one of Mr Papers’. She tells me the latter now includes a ginger cat day , inspired I believe by himself. I am so proud of my lovely boy.
- I shall also miss my lovely boy who is going to be looked after by my next door neighbours while I take consolation from Westie Boy, Poppy and the cats. Much as I love them, MasterB is definitely top pet for me. Such a cuddly, gentle boy. He was rushing about earlier playing with the day’s favourite toy and it was hard to believe he must be around twelve years old. He’s just a big kitten.
- I still have a couple of things I need to do before bed, and of course I have to check the current state of play in parliament, so I shall stop here. There should be pictures from NI, so watch this space.
- Thanks for reading.
Looking forward to tales from NI. The political tales from UK are just about impossible to follow these days. Does Master B have a European Pet passport? Just in case… Safe travels and a hearty congratulations to Uncle Bill.
Will try to post later. Enjoying NI. No passport so far, but who knows. As you say impossible times. Total madness.