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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.

Where Do We Go From Here?

Under normal circumstances I would be welcoming the intention of David Cameron (known to this blog as Mr Irresponsible) to resign as Prime Minister of the UK as in my opinion he has been the worst incumbent of that office in its entire history (and there has been severe competition for that title.)

However; these are not normal circumstances. The prospect of either of the leading lights of the Vote Leave campaign, Boris Johnson and Michael Gove, succceeding him as PM is beyond nightmare. The direction in which the UK would travel under their auspices is not one I would find at all congenial. That Scotland may be given the chance of another vote on independence from the UK as a result of the EU referendum does not alter that conviction. I would not wish what would then be our nearest neighbour to be under their leadership. It is to be hoped the Conservative Party turns away from them and chooses someone else but quite who is actually up to the job is not evident.

I was going to call David Cameron’s decision to cave in to the bullies’ demands for a referendum a catastrophic misjudgement, but I don’t think he made a judgement at all. Everything in his political life so far has gone his way and he thought that situation would continue. But he is a weak man and has reaped his reward. The verdict of history will be harsh.

And what will happen to that southern neighbour when the promised £350 million a week for the NHS doesn’t appear, when immigration stubbornly refuses to fall, when visas are required to travel to the EU, when jobs fail to be created and employment conditions worsen further, when the anger and resentment which Vote Leave has stoked but whose underlying causes they will neither address nor ameliorate, bursts out? Against whom will that anger be directed and in what form? Anyone who looks different? Who sounds different?

What happens to the fragile peace process in Northern Ireland?

How encouraging will this be to right wingers across Europe? What if the Front National wins power in France and starts to discriminate against Muslims – which they surely will, or worse – enraging those with a grudge against “Europe” even more. You can be sure the likes of ISIS/Da’esh will not make a distinction between French Crusaders and British ones.

The immediate future is going to be immensely troubling. This has no simple outcome. The EU cannot afford to be easy-going on the negotiations which have to take place for a UK withdrawal. If they were it would only provide encouragement to any other country which might think of leaving. In any case what incentive would it have to be lenient to a country which has just slapped it in the face. Divorce proceeding are notorious for their acrimony.

As for the main advocate of the UK leaving the EU these past twenty odd years, Nigel Farage. There is now no reason for his party to exist or for him to appear on television ever again – a consummation devoutly to be wished. There is only one phrase fit for him. Il faut cultiver son jardin.

Cryptic Answer

From yesterday’s Guardian cryptic crossword:

Leading Tory: “I have come last in poll, schooling ultimately a fiasco” (7, 4)

Answer:- Michael Gove

For those of you who have difficulty decoding such things the clues have a definition part – here “Leading Tory” – and another part which guides you towards the answer. Here the word fiasco tells you to make an anagram of previous letters, specifically “I have come”, the last letter of the word poll, “l”, and the ultimate letter of schooling, “g”.

What makes the clue particularly delightful is that its last three words describe the gentleman concerned’s tenure as Secretary of State for Education down south.

Michael Gove, Law Breaker

I thought the Tories were supposed to be the party of law and order.

Yet I well remember Tim Yeo once speaking up for those who, due to the use of speed cameras, had been caught breaking the law. Yeo talked as if the law were something to be neglected or set aside, as if people who broke the speed limit were not law breakers, which quite clearly they are.

At least at the time Yeo was merely a Member of Parliament (if a spokesman for the opposition.)

But Michael Gove…..

Michael Gove is the UK Secretary of State for Education.

Yet on Sunday he incited parents to take part in a mass act of law breaking by volunteering to keep schools open during the proposed strike tomorrow by teachers. (This does not affect Scotland – and Northern Ireland I expect. I’m not sure about Wales but I think education is a devolved power there too.)

Quite apart from the fact that Gove thereby declares that teaching is easy and anyone can do it without training and so demeans those who are effectively his employees (he should perhaps try it sometime) teachers are not only trained but thoroughly vetted before being allowed near children. The procedure is known, in Scotland at least, as disclosure and is specifically designed to protect children from potential danger or harm. (As some recent cases have shown it does not always work, but it is a sensible precaution.)

Gove has in effect incited parents, and any Head Teachers who permit this to take place, to break the law, since, if an undisclosed person is placed or places her- or himself in front of the children an offence has been committed.

As Secretary of State Gove ought to be aware of this law. If he was, then he has deliberately encouraged an act of law breaking – become an accessory before the fact. If he was not so aware then the law does not hold ignorance as an excuse and he is still guilty.

But then what else can you expect of a man who has conned thousands of pounds of various monies out of the taxpayer via MPs’ expenses but has got away with it – like many of his cabinet colleagues, including Mr Irresponsible himself – because, being a millionaire, he could afford to repay it? (Or some of it.)

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