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T Ronald’s Legacy

Well he may not have done it to us all yet but T Ronald Dump has certainly done it to trust in US democracy.

What happened at the US Congress building yesterday is the natural culmination of all his rhetoric over the past five years since he decided to stand for President. Stoking up resentment – as well as being a classic tactic of fascists everywhere – was always going to be a tiger that is difficult to keep in bounds.

A harbinger of yesterday’s events was when a group of armed terrorists invaded the legislature of Michigan last year in protest over Covid restrictions. Singularly they were all white and (as far as I’m aware) no action was taken against them. Seeds.

Then there was Trump’s constant drip feed of claims that the recent election was rigged. Seeds.

(He also said this four years ago but mysteriously his complaints disappeared when he won enough States to gain an Electoral College majority.)

No evidence has been produced of electoral fraud in November’s election sufficient to deem Trump’s loss invalid. There was certainly none sufficient to convince over 60 different courts of law to rule that it had happened. What evidence of fraud did arise was that of a voter trying to vote for Trump and the Republican Party; not against him.

Incitement to riot is the least which can be said about T Ronald’s speech to these vandals a few hours before. Seeds.

Perhaps the US is fortunate that Trump is not an organiser – or doesn’t have people to organise for him – or yesterday’s events may have had even worse consequences.

There are, too, questions to be answered as to how easy it was for these terrorists – who are nothing less than traitors – to overwhelm what looks to have been an inadequate police/security presence considering the lack of secrecy about their intentions. And one of their number even paraded about inside the Capitol building brandishing the battle flag of the Confederacy. If that’s not evidence of treason against the US what is? (The Confederate States of America was after all an entity that rose up in rebellion against the United States.)

Question, too, the kid-gloves with which they were treated in removing them. Not to mention his enablers in the Republican Party who failed to stand up to him during the past four years. It’s not too much to describe them by a word more familiar in British political history; appeasers.

Let us be clear in relation to this storming of the centre of US democracy by an unbridled mob:-

No Democratic Party voter did this.

No Civil Rights protester ever did this.

No Muslim did this.

No progressive did this.

No Black Lives Matter campaigner has done this.

No socialist has ever done this.

No left winger did this.

No so-called Antifa activist has ever done this.

No communist has ever done this.

Instead it was right wingers, avowed Trump supporters, people who are supposed to believe in law and order, who committed this assault on democracy, embodied the anarchy and chaos from which Trump claimed to be saving them.

They ought to be subject to the full force of that same law and order on which they trampled so comprehensively yesterday.

Dare I hold my breath?

Farewell then, EU

So today was the last day the UK was part of the EU’s close trading arrangements and its single market.

My parents’ and grandparents’ generations had much more to endure it’s true – what with World Wars to contend with.

But it was the fact of those World Wars that made the EU, whatever its faults, such a worthwhile institution.

In the UK the myths surrounding those wars – especially the second one which has been mischaracterised almost ever since in these islands as a solely British victory with “us” “standing alone” (as if the contribution of Empire/Colonial forces and crucially Indian Army personnel to the North African campaign in particular – but also more widely – did not occur, with the USSR in Europe and the US in the Pacific seemingly mere bystanders) – are pervasive and pernicious. With the Great War such a perception may be less off-kilter. While it is true that the presence of US forces in 1918 made a difference it was by and large the British (Empire) Army which from the middle of 1917 carried the onus of first, not losing, and second, going on in 1918 to win final victory and in the process the biggest series of successive victories the British Army has ever had.

1939 marked the third war between France and Germany in 70 years (a woman in a Northern French village saw Prussian/German troops march past her house and occupy the place for the third time in her life) and there were many invasions of German territory by France in the centuries before. If some cooperative trading institution so as to minimise potential areas of disagreeement had not been set up post-1945 who is to say that conflict between them might not have arisen again? Some say it was NATO that preserved the peace in Europe in the years since then (but France, remember, was for some time not a NATO member.) In any case NATO’s expansion eastwards since the USSR dissolved, far from being a peaceful endeavour has been a standing provocation to that state’s main successor, Russia.

Tonight at 23:00 GMT, 0:00 CET, marked the last time when free movement of people and goods to Europe from the UK was possible (at least since before the requirement for passports came into being.) Some (little Englanders in the main) might rejoice at what they are pleased to call freedom, which actually has instead seen the biggest extension of powers to the UK government to bypass Parliamentary scrutiny and act summarily since 150 years or so before the UK even came into existence; ie over 560 years ago.

It’s a very sad day.

So farewell then EU.

Or, better, au revoir and auf wiedersehen, because I hope to be with you again soon.

“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.

The World Turned Upside Down

We were in the Northeast of England last week. We visited Tynemouth, Durham, Bishop Auckland and Sunderland.

Tynemouth was reasonably prosperous looking, quite a few eateries and with a bustling Saturday market, Durham was busy, as you would expect from a Cathedral city. Sunderland was a typical city – in its centre anyway. (I did pass the Stadium of Light but it was in the dark.)

The attraction of Bishop Auckland was the recently refurbished Auckland Palace/Auckland Castle former home of the Prince Bishops of Durham. As part of the entry ticket we were able also to enter both Auckland Tower centrepiece of the Auckland Project (though the tower itself was closed due to high winds) and the excellent Mining Art Gallery just over the road from the tower.

The town itself though was deserted (well, it was a Sunday in England) and very run-down in appearance, empty shops prominent.

I can therefore see why the locals might want change but how on Earth they think voting Conservative will in any way improve their lot is beyond me.

The Tories’ track record in aiding the working person is poor to say the least. And for a former mining area to vote Conservative is an act either of outstanding forgetfulness – or remarkable forgiveness. This truly is a topsy-turvy age.

If I go back in five years’ time I very much doubt the town’s fortunes will have recovered.

By that time we may also have witnessed the NHS even more in hock to private provision (if not sold totally down the river,) judges neutered, Channel 4 and Ofcom eviscerated, the BBC dismantled, Parliamentary constituency boundaries redrawn to favour the Tories even more and voters without photo ID disenfranchised. Not to mention the rise of the cult of Alexander de Pfeffel.

Is all that really what the inhabitants of Bishop Auckland and its neighbouring towns desire?

There’s also a clash of mandates with respect to Scottish independence to resolve. Or not, as the case may be.

And a one-sided trade deal with the US to endure.

Plus I’ve not even touched on the EU negotiations which might still be going on.

What’s to like?

Unpresidented Election

You may be aware the UK is in the middle of a General Election campaign. It is possibly the most important of my lifetime and one which has the potential of embedding a harrowing future.

In that context the following is quite trivial, but it still annoyed me.

I have only received one leaflet so far – from the Labour Party. While it does show photographs of the local candidate and Labour’s Scottish leader there is absolutely no sign nor mention within it of the UK leader, one Jeremy Corbyn.

It also has three linguistic irritations.*

1:- “Only the Labour Party will bring unpresidented investment into the UK.”

I suppose there is an outside possibility that this is a reference to T Ronald Dump’s intentions towards the UK and its NHS in any negotiations of a trade deal after Brexit. More likely that view is too generous and it is in fact a malapropism.

2:- “A Labour Government through their Green Industrial Revolution policy…”

Now, the word ‘Government’ can be a noun of multitude (which would take a plural pronoun) and I accept that this is the way in which most people use the word nowadays.

However, in this case it refers to the Government as a whole and not as a collective and so requires a singular pronoun, ‘its’.

3:- “the fact they have not recuited or trained enough staff.”

Recuited? (Recruited, please.)

I hope the literacy (and/or proofreading) standards of any other campaign leaflets I receive in this election will be somewhat higher than this.

Or is that expecting too much?

*Edited to add: Make that four. By the time I’d come round to compiling the post I’d forgotten the leaflet also spelled truly as truely.

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.

Core Values?

In yesterday’s Guardian G2 there was a wonderful scathing article written by the US born comedian Rich Hall dealing with recent events in his home country.

In it he satirises the US penchant for owning, and using on each other, firearms.

A striking sentence concerns the number of terrorist-related deaths carried out by people from the seven countries subject to the, now legally suspended at least till appeal, ban on entry to the US.

That number?

Zero.

(Though Hall does balance this by saying there have been three – thwarted – attacks using knives.)

I don’t suppose such satirising of what Hall characterises as the US core value of gun crime will change anyone’s mind, though.

Stop the World: I Want to Get Off

“Now it’s time for America to bind the wounds of division; have to get together. To all Republicans and Democrats and independents across this nation, I say it is time for us to come together as one united people.

“I pledge to every citizen of our land that I will be president for all Americans, and this is so important to me.

“I’m reaching out to you for your guidance and your help so that we can work together and unify our great country” – Donald Trump.

“We will make Britain a country that works not for a privileged few, but for every one of us.

“The Government I lead will be driven, not by the interests of the privileged few, but by yours” – Theresa May.

“Where there is discord may we bring harmony” – Margaret Thatcher.

Well; the last of these three didn’t work out well.

I don’t expect the first two to do so either.

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