Brexit and Theresa May…

Well, the ‘Brexit weekend’ at Chequers has come and gone and, as a consequence, so have a number of government ministers. With the clock ticking even faster in terms of the deadline for exiting the EU in March 2019, it would seem that we (the government) have had to compromise. The main issue being – especially for the Brexiteers – how much of a compromise. Social media is full of people saying it’s a “sell-out” or even “traitorous” behaviour from Theresa May and her Cabinet and it would seem that quite a few Conservative MPs agree. However, her meeting with the 1922 committee a few days ago would seem to have been successful (at least in the short term and from her personal point of view) in that they reacted well to her ‘back me or get Jeremy Corbyn and Labour’ message/threat.

So what are the alternatives if she were to be ‘ousted’? Boris Johnson? Jacob Rees-Mogg? Jeremy Hunt? Each of these have ‘baggage’ regarding their personalities, their ‘heritage’ or what they have or haven’t achieved in their previous departments or jobs. One thing in Jacob Rees-Mogg’s favour is that he has been successful in most things he has done. But is he too ‘old school’? Given the wide view that Jeremy Hunt has ruined the NHS he is unlikely (maybe not with Conservative party members but with the wider public). Boris, of course, is seen as various types of fool…which he clearly is not.

If the ‘Chequers compromise’ is accepted by the EU, gets through parliament and forms the basis of Brexit, this will leave a massive and damaging legacy for Theresa May and the Conservative Party at the next General Election. The hard Brexiteers will not be happy and whatever the deal is, things will not have settled down well within 4 years – for the economy, trade or socially. Whatever the alternatives are from Labour or even a ‘resurrected’ UKIP, I doubt very much that they will remain in power. Even at grass roots level, “activists” are staying off the streets according to Peter Bone MP and locally, the local Party association are having difficulties in getting volunteers to ‘do stuff’ and in one case turn up to support the local Conservative MP in public. I noticed that a local public session designed to attract Conservative youngsters from the area to meet 2 local MPs and other Conservative stalwarts, has only attracted 6 ‘interested’ views on Facebook! Given the state of the local Conservative Party Association, I am not that surprised.

 

Local elections…Paul McCartney, minorities and MPs.

Well, 48 hours after some local councils and seats were up for grabs, there seems to be a surprising status quo, with very little change and all parties crowing about their successes and, in the case of Labour, a much repeated and well briefed “solid performance “. It is quite remarkable that Labour have not done much better given the status of the government and the criticisms of their performance generally and more specifically on Brexit. Usually at this stage of a government, you would expect a massive ‘swing’ away from them, but not so in this case.

Various people are suggesting that Jeremy Corbyn and his type of politics may have reached its ‘sell by date’ or that his ‘bubble’ has burst. I wonder if it is more that the younger voters, who supported Labour at the General Election and who may not have properties or recognise (local) services, did not bother to vote? In terms of Labour’s ability to bounce back when it really counts, only time will tell.

It seems amazing to me that someone who can only pluck a few strings on a guitar and churn out largely the same turgid so called music over many decades, could possibly be made a Companion of Honour. Just looking at many of the truly great and talented people who have been so awarded in the past, merely magnifies his void in talent or qualities one would expect for and from such a distinguished group. It never ceases to amaze me how the myth of the Beatles and its 4 members survived so long. They were, still are and will always be a very shallow expression of ‘music’ even in its broadest sense.

The Windrush issue continues to plague the news and, along with so many other minority issues, seems to occupy a hugely disproportionate amount of time in the media and in Parliament. Parliament, the media and society more generally, are giving far too much ‘airtime’ to these minority issues and in many cases individuals and, as a consequence, losing sight of the many issues that affect the majority of British people. Parliament ins particular should focus on government and not raising and discussing individual grievances. The job of MPs is and should be to gather these up in a coherent form and present them to Parliament as such.

Talking of MPs, it was once suggested to me that a ‘good manager’ should justify their existence away from their team, on their return, by gathering them together and explaining to them how their absence had added value to them and their output. I have often wondered why constituents don’t insist on that from their MPs, whilst they are away from their constituency?

Decline and Emin…

Well, it seems that that Labour Party continues to decline! Barry Gardiner is using Hebrew words to describe the Good Friday Agreement! An interesting mix of errors given their recent antisemitic scandals and the sensitivities about Brexit. I see that Maureen Lipman has joined the debate and may even been considering a shift to the Tories!

There seem to be a lot of calls for a new ‘centre party’ at the moment. Certainly it needs to happen now, if it is going to emerge to give it time to mature in time for the next General Election.

Things seem to be deteriorating in and around Syria. Lots of warmongering from the US. Let’s hope we don’t get sucked in again as the parties involved are very complex, possibly more so than in, say, Iraq. I guess the main issue is whether this is more about Russia than Syria?

Since the ‘attack’ in Salisbury, the issue around chemical weapons has ‘met the public eye’ once more. I have never quite understood the ‘additional emotion’ around these ‘weapons of war’, over and above, say, tanks, bombs, nuclear weapons, nail bombs etc etc. Is that ‘additional emotion’ because of the potential of/for ‘collateral damage’? I wonder also whether the use of the word “war” should be defined by (and only used when there is) a willingness to accept collateral damage as a consequence of action?

The BBC are giving a lot of profile to a so-called work of art by Tracey Emin that has been unveiled in that glory of neo-gothic architecture that is St Pancras station in London. On her own admission on the Today programme on Radio 4, it’s a clear anti-Brexit statement for arrivals in London to see when they step off their Eurostar train from France. I wonder what would happen if I asked the station authorities if I could put up a large pro-Brexit poster? Would it help if I called it ‘art’?!

Easter Saturday

Easter Saturday always seems a bit of a gap or even a let down between Good Friday and Easter Day. It a bit like January and February after the excitement of Christmas and New Year…on a much smaller scale. I guess for practicing Christians is winding down and then winding up the the main event tomorrow.

I was listening to a radio programme today and there seemed to be a view that many of the ‘divisions’ in our society are being caused by Brexit and the decision that has been taken, as against it being a consequence (effect) of the ‘divisions’ that have progressively deteriorated over decades and no one has dealt with them. It only needs a simple glance and the main issues in the referendum to realise that.

There is also the view that we should have another national referendum to look at and decide on the Brexit ‘deal’. Can you imagine what that would look like, with thousands or possibly hundreds of thousands of issues and options being sent to every voter in U.K.? It would be total chaos. Look at the simple issues presented to us in 2016 and how they were ‘misunderstood’ by so many. If there has to be a vote on the deal, the options need to be debated in Parliament and they make the decision. That what they are paid for and should have done in dealing with the EU in the first place over the past 40 years…much like the ‘divisions’ mentioned above!

I have just finished watching a series in the Walter Presents part of Channel 4, called 13 Commandments. It was good and thought-provoking and it’s such a pity that the BBC can’t make programmes like this anymore.

A grey day…

Rather grey outside…and the world in general perhaps.

Brexit continues to dominate the news and directly and indirectly a lot of parliamentary time. I saw a poll (yes of course it’s only a poll!) suggesting that, across all sectors and regions, people just want to get on with it now, regardless of their preference in the referendum. Perhaps this is because people are bored with the constant media (especially BBC) attention, often when there is little or no news?

I quite like or even admire Jacob Rees-Mogg, but the demonstration on the Thames this week, where he and others threw some fish into the river, seems a little unnecessary, not least because it was a waste of fish and also, as I understand it, the only issue is the 21 month delay to exiting the EU on this issue.

I have just been reading Sadiq Khan’s new draft strategy on ‘culture’ for London and was fascinated to see that, in the executive summary (and let’s face it people will only read that) there are only pictures of people ‘of one colour’. Hardly what one might describe as a ‘balanced’ presentation of the nation’s capital?

My local town is going through a navel-gazing exercise at the moment (with the help of expensive consultants of course) about what can be done to take the centre forward. Lots of discussion about pedestrian precincts and pedestrianising roads. Having witnessed the latter in many other places, this just seems to kill off trade and as a consequence the town centres themselves. As the town prides itself on being a “one off”, this all seems somewhat misguided. Then there is the fact that Council had to get rid of some of its off-shore capital, so it purchased some shopping centres in the town…just at the time that retail is under serious threat from online shopping. Shopping centres are hardly ‘one offs’!