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“The Band Begins to Play, My Boys”

I’m afraid I can’t do anything but flinch when members of the UK’s present Government wax lyrical about our suddenly “wonderful” NHS. Pass the sick bucket.

(Especially egregious was the spectacle of Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak applauding outside 10 Downing Street. A derisory photo-op if ever I saw one.)

This is the same NHS they cynically used to win a referendum on false pretences, that their political persuasion has been denigrating at every opportunity for almost as long as I can remember and that their Political Party has been deliberately running down for the past ten years in preparation for saying that it’s broken and must be sold off. Run down and underequipped so much that it’s not now in the state it could have been to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

Their attitude irresistibly reminds me of Rudyard Kipling’s poem, Tommy:-

O it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, go away”;
But it’s, “Thank you, Mister Atkins,” when the band begins to play,
The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,
O it’s, “Thank you, Mister Atkins,” when the band begins to play.

A Rabbit Hole

Words fail me.

We stagger on from one absurdity to another.

Can someone tell me how sending an unsigned letter corresponds to complying with a law that says a letter must be sent? After all, if you sent an unsigned cheque through the post it has no legal standing.

Not only is he a blustering buffoon (posts passim) Alexander de Pfeffel Johnson is utterly childish. This behaviour is just one big, “Yah boo sucks,” to Parliament, to which he is now in contempt of. (Not to mention contempt of the law itself and the Queen who signed it.)

Any claim that the UK once had to being a serious country is now lying shattered on the ground. It’s not even a banana monarchy now.

What year was it the world fell down a rabbit hole.

Surrender? Humbug!

Yesterday I also missed this live.

The blustering buffoon calling the act to ensure that the UK doesn’t leave the EU without a deal a “betrayal” and a “surrender.”

Well, Mr Johnson. I wasn’t aware that the UK was at war with the EU. If there was a declaration of such a war I must have missed it.

If war has not indeed been declared then there is no possibility of surrender so your words are nonsensical. (Not that that is anything new coming from your mouth. It’s like the old joke. How do you know when Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson is lying?)

Then there is his dismissal of the receipt of death threats by female (and other) members of Parliament being encouraged by his use of language. Describing concerns over these threats as “humbug” is utterly reprehensible.

If he had any self-awareness, any sense of shame, he would resign. Then again if he had a shred of those he would never have tried to enter Parliament nor attempt to become Prime Minister.

Whatever else he is he is certainly not the UK’s saviour. Under his premiership we are in greater danger than ever of being driven into an abyss. I hope Conservative MPs of a reflective stamp quickly realise what a mistake they have made in acquiescing to his rise – and act accordingly.

On past form, fat chance.

Outrageous Disgrace

Did my ears deceive me?

I wasn’t listening live but I caught a news bulletin on the radio yesterday in which Attorney General Sir Geoffrey Cox MP called “this Parliament” “a disgrace.”

An Attorney General – an Attorney General, the UK’s top Legal Official (not top legal authority as this week’s events showed,) called the supreme law making body in the land a disgrace?

It appears my ears did not deceive.

As I wasn’t listening live I have no idea if the Speaker of the House admonished him for this but in my opinion he certainly ought to have.

Parliament is the bedrock of UK democracy. For anyone – but most egregiously for a person holding high office – to call it a disgrace is outrageous. Both Mr Cox and the person for whom he was fronting ie the blustering buffoon, one Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, are using unwise and dangerous language. Perhaps, even if their project manages to succeed in their terms, they ought to reflect that, in time, it may come back to haunt them. Once standards have fallen, once the language of contempt for any opposition has been embraced, it can be very difficult to restore civilised behaviour.

Messrs Cox and Johnson, be careful what you wish for.

11-0

That’s a gubbing in anyone’s terms.

Today’s Supreme Court ruling is a resounding affirmation of the supremacy of Parliament over the executive, a case I argued when the illegal prorogation was announced.

How this man (the blustering buffoon) can now remain Prime Minister is difficult to see (he’s been found to have acted unlawfully, and, by implication, lied to the Queen and hence involved her in Politics) but doubtless he’ll try.

Just imagine the meltdown in certain quarters if Jeremy Corbyn – or any Labour PM – had been found to have acted in such a way. All those present deniers of the right of the courts to comment on, or judge, the matter would be lauding a decision like this to the skies, demanding that Parliament be respected and calling for that PM’s resignation. (I suspect, if he or she then failed to do so their reaction would go even further, calls for arrest at the very least.)

So Boris Johnson has now been exposed as, in effect, a criminal. He won’t do the decent thing, though. All his life he has been shielded from the consequences of his actions, either by his Daddy’s money or the complicity and indulgence of those around him (Daily Telegraph I’m looking at you.) As a result he thought he could get away with anything and obviously felt he was above the law. Judging by his response to the judgement in a TV interview given in New York today he still doesn’t think he’s done anything to be ashamed of. But then shame is beyond him.

As soon as this apology for a PM (my apologies to apologies for comparing him to them) disappears from public life the better it will be for us all.

Nothing will have been resolved, but at least we may get someone who cares for the institutions of government to replace him.

Constitutional Coup d’√Čtat?

Well.

Don’t we live in interesting times?

I had been planning a post about the demise of Bury FC. (OK they’re not dead quite yet but it does seem inevitable.)

But our new Prime Minister’s decision to ask the Queen to prorogue Parliament – a request she cannot refuse even though it places her firmly in the political spotlight, a situation she ought not be subjected to – in the midst of the biggest crisis to hit British politics in my lifetime (I was alive during the Suez debacle – only just – but that wasn’t anything like as bad as this) beggars belief.

Parliament has not been sitting for weeks due to the summer recess. The blustering buffoon has been subject to its scrutiny for only a day or so after replacing Theresa May. Yet now – if his plan cannot be thwarted – there will only be opportunity to do so for less than a week before it will be prevented from operating for another five weeks beyond that. And this at the most dangerous time for the prospects of the UK since 1940.

If this is democracy then what on Earth does dictatorship look like?

The Leave campaign in the EU Referendum employed the slogan, “Take Back Control.” If that meant anything it could only mean bringing power back to Parliament, not to the Prime Minister – nor to a small, rabid clique of ultras. It has always been the case that a Prime Minister can only do what Parliament allows him or her to do. A restriction of Parliament’s rights to hold him or her to account is a denial of control, a denial of democracy. If leave voters see Parliament as the problem here then they can not be described as democrats, either that or they misunderstand the UK system of government. (And constitutionally, the last General Election (elected 2017) overrode any previous votes – on anything – as no Parliament can bind its successor. Technically the EU referendum was a creature of the previous Parliament (elected 2015) rather than this one.)

The English Parliament – of which Brexiteers, I suspect, tend to see the present UK one as being a continuation (though in that they are wrong) – once fought a war against a King who stood in the way of its rights, precisely for the point of ensuring those rights. (The fact that the succeeding dispensation under the Lord Protector, Oliver Cromwell, also ran roughshod over the same Parliament’s rights shows how fragile those rights can be.)

It is the duty of Parliament to scrutinise proposed Government measures or intentions and if a majority in Parliament does not like them then to vote them down. A Prime Minister who seeks to deny it that right, for however long or short a time, can not be called a democrat – and is a danger to us all.

Afternoon of the Long Knives

So, as everyone expected it’s the blustering buffoon. Perhaps I ought to capitalise that.

The Conservative (and Unionist) Party has now given us three terrible Prime Ministers in a row. It’s hard to say which is worst though I suspect BoJo – as he’s called – will be the one. I believe our USian friends have a better word to describe him – bozo. He may have been to Eton and Balliol but he shows no sign of ever having learned much.

God help us.

It’s not taken him long to get the knives out for those who opposed him.

I’m reminded of Harold MacMillan’s cabinet reshuffle of 1962 (except this clear out is more extensive and MacMillan had been Prime Minister for a while.) MacMillan only got rid of one-third of his previous cabinet. It still led to the reshuffle being dubbed Night of the Long Knives in a rather distasteful reference to the bloody purge of previously high ranking Nazis in Germany in 1934.

MacMillan’s actions led his successor as PM, Harold Wilson, in a much later exchange in the House of Commons to recollect the time when the “then Prime Minister sacked half his cabinet”, adding, “the wrong half, as it turned out.”

Plenty ammunition here for the Blustering Buffoon’s successor I’d have thought.

A Dismal Choice

The two remaining candidates to be the leader of the Conservative Party and hence the next Prime Minister of the UK show just how the calibre of the country’s politicians – along with the standards of its politics – has fallen.

The choice lies between a blustering buffoon and a piece of rhyming slang.

My comment on the present incumbent when she triggered Article 50 has come true in spades. These are dangerous men.

The buffoon showed himself to be totally unfit for high office in his time as Foreign Secretary when his failure to master any detail of her case led to Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe being all but confirmed in the eyes of Iran as being in effect a spy, or, at least, working against its government.

The rhyming slang, when Secretary of State for Health, was so inept in the post he managed to unite the almost the entire medical profession against him. And have you seen his eyes?

If either of these two is the answer, what on Earth is the question?

On a related point I’ve seen it suggested that if the buffoon does become PM then it is possible he may appoint T Ronald Dump’s pal (well he likes to think T Ronald is his pal) Nigel Farage as UK ambassador to the US.

Great. Just do it Boris. At least it will get Farage and his poisonous rantings out of this country for a while.

Apparently Jorge Luis Borges characterised the War of Thatcher’s Face as a fight between two bald men over a comb.

The contest between Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson and Jeremy Richard Streynsham Hunt (don’t their full names just tell you all you need to know about them?) is more like two blind men scrabbling over a hearing aid. Neither can or will do much good with it once they’ve got it.

The Threat to the British Constitution

Britrain doesn’t have a constitution.

Not a written one anyway.

The unwritten one contains the single provision that Parliament is sovereign.

Yet a former holder of high office in the UK government has pronounced that a “suicide vest” has been placed around it.

The language in which he articulated this – of a piece with a previous outburst about “letterboxes” – is clearly intended to speak to a certain kind of inhabitant of the UK – those who have been primed to believe that the British way of life is under attack by people with “un-British” belief systems.

If that way of life is indeed under attack it is not by people from foreign shores (or even by those from Britain who have been brainwashed by terrorists into believing their faith is persecuted here and worldwide) or with alternative belief systems. There is at present no direct threat to the fabric of Britain, either from foreign powers or from agents of inhumane ideologies inimical to independent thinking.

Possible threats to individual citizens from individual terrorist outrages (but that was also true of the IRA without them being demonised in the way we see of “Muslims” now) or actions tacitly approved by foreign governments, yes; systematic undermining, and takeover, of the institutions of the UK, no. Anyone who says there is is guilty of hyperbole and their motives for making such a claim ought to be questioned.

But if anyone did put a suicide vest around the British constitution it was not the present, but the previous Prime Minister, David Cameron – Mr Irresponsible striking again!

He it was who undermined Parliamentary sovereignty by calling a referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU without the certainty of winning it.

That vest was detonated – along with his accomplices – by none other than the same man who makes the “suicide vest” claim against the present PM.

The EU referendum result implicitly placed the populace at large – or at least that minority of it whose votes prevailed – as being more sovereign than Parliament. There is nowhere to go after that.

Parliament – despite the present one being elected since the referendum and so technically, under the (admittedly non-existent) constitution, more sovereign than the referendum result as it is subsequent to it – cannot act in any way that ameliorates the consequences of that result. Too much anger would be stoked thereby – and there’s enough about as it is.

In the seventeenth century the English – and Scots and Irish – fought a war (several wars actually) over principals like this. The least we must demand of actors in the present constitutional crisis – becaue that’s what it is – is that they use language that does not stoke any fires.

Poppy Watching Again

I was actually thinking last night it was that time of year again, and also that if I caught sight of any of that unholy brigade of Farage, Johnson, Gove, Fox and Davies sporting a poppy this year I would be livid with rgae.

How dare they?

How dare they blazon their attempt to corral patriotism to their own ends?

How dare they coopt the sacrifice of those who died in the cause of better relations with our European neighbours rather than worse ones?

I actually saw some poppies for sale in the bank today when I was paying some bills. When I got home I got my first sighting of this year when there was a guy labelled as a historian wearing one on the news. He was commenting on the non-story of the Russian aircraft carrier which travelled through the Straits of Dover today en route to Syria, saying they normally went by the top of Scotland as it was shorter that way.

Really? Longer to go straight down the North Sea than travel across the top of Scotland and all the way round Ireland?

I suppose the Scharnhorst, Gneisenau and Prinz Eugen etc made their channel dash in 1942 because that was the longer route? Pull the other one.

I found the tone of the news coverage of this perfectly unexceptional use of international waters to be verging on the hysterical. I do hope we are not being softened up for something.

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