New Depths in British Politics

When Boris Johnson became leader of the Tory party and thus Prime Minister my country reached a new low. Today even that low was to be surpassed. Johnson, who has previously, and very recently, said he did not support proroguing Parliament, has changed his mind. For those of us who have learned to mistrust, distrust, abhor Johnson this does not come as an enormous surprise. Johnson is a chancer. He’s untrustworthy, unreliable, a serial liar.

It is however a shock.

I suspect some of the red tops, which against all evidence to the contrary have been hailing Johnson as some sort of messiah, will greet this news with glee. If you are a reader of one of those papers, maybe even an admirer of Johnson, maybe a committed Brexiteer, just consider for a moment how you would have reacted had this been a ploy deployed by a politician of another persuasion. It’s not a good day for democracy. It may not quite be the coup some people are claiming, it may not be anti constitutional, but it is a sneaky move, a move that shows little respect for democracy, and if the outcome Johnson wants, as he has said he does, is to unite the country, it is not a very good idea.
Not only Johnson has previously said he didn’t favour proroguing Parliament, so did just about every member of his cabinet.
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Mind Our Language

They say if you learn one thing from a talk, or a visit to a museum or gallery, it is time, sometimes money, well spent. On those grounds the lectures and seminars on sociolinguistics I attended as part of my first degree represent a good investment.

I recall studying newspaper articles, noting how descriptors were used to steer the reader to  particular view, to mould our responses. It was quite shocking, and has made me a more critical reader, more of a fact checker. When I started flat hunting in the days before the internet I would collect details of properties for sale from estate agents. Apart from those being sold by Roy Brooks who believed in calling a spade a spade – “in frankly appalling condition throughout” is one phrase I remember – these invariably one bedroomed properties were described as spacious. Spacious for whom, I’d wonder. Lilliputians perhaps. I fast came to the conclusion that the best way to read these bits of puff was to block out the adjectives, erase the ‘spacious’s, the ‘stunning’s, the ‘desirable’s and the ‘sought after location’s.

Once, listening to the news on the BBC in the 80s, my antennae twitched when I heard a dictator, renowned for disregarding human rights and with a pronounced penchant for imprisoning opponents without trial and then torturing them, had been ‘forced’ to execute some ‘rebels’. Sure enough, a short time later our government quietly softened its stance towards this man, his barbarities would be ignored in the name of trade. Continue reading

Divide and Rule and the Windrush Generation

Such excitement chez Isobel (and Cat) this afternoon when I located the lottery ticket I bought for last Friday’s draw and checked the winning numbers. I am so inured to reading that there are no matches that it took a couple of seconds for the news to sink in and to understand that I am a winner. At last! I haven’t yet claimed my prize and am not sure how I am going to spend it. £8.10 may not be a life changing amount, but after months of zero it’s quite exciting. It could get me three quarters of a glass of champagne in a not too fussy establishment; pay for more than half the ticket I have bought to see Our Country’s Good next week at Stratford East; buy two and a bit copies of Saturday’s Guardian; buy four entries to Saturday’s Lottery. However you look at it, I’m a winner.

Not so the Windrush generation. I thought my country couldn’t plumb new depths after the fiasco which was the referendum in 2016, but in an increasingly crowded field for acts of shameful inhumanity it seems the race to the bottom is being fought hard. We’re told the government has apologised, that there will be compensation, compensation described by MP Kwame Kwarteng as generous. Oh that’s alright then. So you may have lost your home, your job, your entitlement benefits and health care, been threatened with deportation and locked up in a detention centre not knowing where you are going to be this time next week, but now you can sleep easy in your bed as the government has promised to make amends. Continue reading