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?

National days, the individual and statues.

Let me begin by saying that the circumstances surrounding the death of Stephen Lawrence 25 years ago must have been horrific for him, his family and his friends.

My concern is to question the appropriateness of a ‘national day’ for one individual in these circumstances. After all, there have been many many others who have been murdered for what they are, or they represented, both white and black – Kriss Donald in Glasgow along with Richard Everett and Lee Rigby in London spring to mind, to ‘balance the books’. Personally, I would also question the motivation behind the fact that it is 25 years ago and maybe it’s time to move on? The point has clearly been made as both his parents and especially his mother, are now part of the ‘establishment’.

To develop this issue, I have noticed that many politicians and especially those in government and more widely in Parliament (predominantly on the ‘left’), have resorted to focusing on individuals and individual causes and cases. They raise individual (often named) cases in Parliament and at ‘Prime Minister’s Questions’ and, as above, we now have national days (paid for by the tax payer) for individuals. Surely the purpose of government and MPs is to collect and collate individual cases and present them as issues in a constituency or national context. If we spend too much time on individual cases (and for that matter referendums) the role and purpose of Parliament (and MPs) becomes degraded, devalued and eroded and the governance of the country and government is diluted.

Today, a statue to Millicent Fawcett is being unveiled in Parliament Square. This may be a different case/cause, but my concern is that it is being driven by a feminist cause (which so often is, by nature, one driven by misandry) rather than recalling the ‘mission’ she represented. If this is the case, this is sad, as it is of national importance to us all. I would also criticise the ‘art’ in the statue, as it lacks the subtlety of those around it. Most of the statues in Parliament Square are of people who said a lot, had a lot to say and is memorable, but they are not holding up banners, which I appreciate the Suffragists and Suffragettes did, of course. The words inscribed on the plinth would have been adequate, as with the staggeringly haunting Edith Cavell on the edge of Trafalgar Square. The images of another 50 or so individuals (who of course have to be mentioned!) also spoil the statue…and set a worrying precedent.