Re: “May The Best Donkey Win” (TNE #300). Both Tory leadership contenders clearly want to be tough on immigration to appease the many
ultras in their party. Sending people to Rwanda – surely a new low in
inhumanity even for this government – is seen as the right policy and rejoining the EU single market to take advantage of freedom of movement
of goods, services and people is about as far from being even a remote possibility as we are from Mars.
Yet many sectors of the UK economy are desperately short of any staff, let alone highly skilled workers, our exports to our near neighbours have reduced dramatically and – let’s face it – not a lot works for ordinary people struggling to make a living and depending on food banks even though they are “doing the right thing” by working full-time.
So, fewer people arriving here, more going to leave and an economy held back by staff shortages. Given the state of the country and the fact that our infrastructure, public services, cost of living, economic outlook and standing in the world are all abysmal, I’m amazed that more people don’t want to leave – unless, of course, they fear they will never get beyond the queues on the M20 or the chaos at the airports – and don’t even think about taking a train!
The Tories boast that we have record low unemployment. But we don’t have enough people to fill hundreds of thousands of vacancies, and we’re not going to let more people in unless they are willing to jump through bureaucratic hoops and leave far better places in the world for a country where they will probably face overt hostility from some unless they look like the great majority of the members of the Conservative Party.
Makes you marvel at our government’s command of logic and its deep commitment to humanity – and really proud to be British, doesn’t it?
While I share Mitch Benn’s concerns about the departing prime minister, his
future career seems clear to me: he should return to the country of his birth and become the next leader of the Republican party. He has all the necessary credentials: born in the USA, a young glamorous wife, unruly blond hair and an incapability to tell the truth. If and when the septuagenarian Donald Trump finally hangs up his 10-gallon hat, Boris would make an ideal replacement… and it would get him out of the UK!
When Boris Johnson says: “Hasta la vista, baby”, there can be no doubt that he wants us to think of another quote from The Terminator – “I’ll be back”. Why?
Because he sees himself as a reincarnation of Winston Churchill and expects his career to mirror that of his hero. So, if the Brexit war on the EU, followed by the real one in Ukraine, gave him the wartime leader role, then he must surely believe his current fall from grace to be his “1945 Election Moment”.
Given the bizarre system that will shortly deliver us a third Tory PM elected by members rather than the British people, the chilling truth is that he may yet see his fantasy continue. The most apt film quote is therefore not from The Terminator but from The Fly: “Be afraid, be very afraid”.
Pickering, North Yorkshire
Back in June 2019, you very graciously published my offering (“Ode an Apology”), and now an extra stanza is in order. The full work now reads:
There once was a PM called Dave,
Who thought he was terribly brave,
But with three referenda,
His margins grew slender,
The third, his political grave.
So there followed a PM called May,
Who promised, “I’ll find you a way
To see Brexit completed,”
But her votes were depleted,
So she settled for endless delay.
But the Tories were desperate to win,
And decided, It won’t be a sin
To determine the crown
Goes to Boris the clown,
Putting honour and truth in the bin.
Robert Graham supports Keir Starmer’s adoption of “Make Brexit Work” and suggests that Zoe Williams does not understand the relevant issues. He appears to imply that an early return to membership of the EU is impracticable by reason of a reluctance by the EU to welcome it.
Even should such a reluctance exist and continue even were the return proposed by reasonable people, it is hardly logical to suggest that anyone
desiring a return should embark on a prolonged period of disadvantage
before starting negotiations that would address any obstacles cooperatively.
Rather than the careful considerations Robert suggests as reasons for Starmer’s stance, Williams’ conclusion is entirely more credible, ie that it was another attempt to placate the red wall lost sheep which evidenced a potentially disastrous tin ear to the effect that Brexit’s inevitable continuing negative effects might have on the public’s opinions.
Unfortunately for RG’s implication that Starmer’s intentions are for an
eventual return, in the EU’s eyes Starmer’s statement may have placed him and his party among those using EU membership as a political football rather than one committed to a genuinely co-operative enterprise.
I have every sympathy with the frustration of people like Anni Laundon and Richard O’Hagan over Labour’s current stance on Brexit. But none at all with their stated intention not to vote for the party at the next election
Until we have PR, we don’t have the luxury of voting for our ideal candidate. The priority is to get the Tories out, and that means voting tactically, for whoever has the best chance of defeating them in your constituency.
Churchill had the right idea here: “If Hitler invaded Hell I would make at least a favourable reference to the Devil in the House of Commons.”
I read with interest “Did Britain break the world?” Andy Owen’s review of Arthur Snell’s book with the above title. As with a similar book written by Simon Jenkins some years back and various publications by Noam Chomsky, it appears to present western foreign policy as a series of heartless blunders that have turned relatively peaceful countries into hell-holes.
I am very cautious about accepting these monochrome views. It would appear that Mr Snell feels that we should simply have allowed Slobodan
Milošević to continue ethnic cleansing in Europe undisturbed. There appears to be no recognition of the extensive lengths gone to by the UK and USA to contain Saddam, who was certainly responsible for more than a million deaths in the Middle East and was almost certainly the sponsor of
terrorists such as the awful Abu Nidal in more than 20 countries.
Analyses that don’t explain how murderous these regimes were are useless. I recall John Simpson of the BBC broadcasting from Baghdad in 2009, saying he had never known Iraq so peaceful and optimistic. The Iraq he had previously known was one where almost every family had lost one male to Saddam’s torture chambers and one female to his rape rooms. Such self-flagellation has a big market and the book will no doubt sell, but that market cries out for genuine balance.
Well done Paul Mason for speaking out on the need for more taxes to fund higher defence expenditure.
Only a handful of MPs turned out in the recent defence debate to support Tobias Ellwood in asking for increases in the defence budget – the haughty
government minister seemed to imply they were unpatriotic in daring to
criticise our superb forces.
As in 1914, we have excellent weapons but they are the wrong kind in the wrong place in the wrong quantities. If we are sending an army to eastern
Europe they must be properly equipped to fight Russian armour and guns and rockets, which Putin continues to churn out in massive quantities.
Civilian production, eg automotive and consumer durables, must be cut back to make way for armaments production.
The ruling party seems to have lost the plot on this. If Starmer were to take up this issue now, he would earn lasting praise as a genuine patriot.
May I add my penny’s worth to the discussion on Scottish independence?
Educated in 1930s Scotland, later emigrating to London and marrying an Englishman, my proud Scots mother sought to right the wrongs of being taught only British empire history at school.
She brought up my sister and I to appreciate that, despite the Union of 1707, England and Scotland remained separate countries with their own distinct attitudes and cultures. Three hundred years have passed since the anglicised Scottish aristocracy enabled the union in their own interests. I recommend reading Bought and Sold for English Gold by Tom Devine.
Nicola Sturgeon and her separatist supporters constantly claim that they
have a mandate to hold a referendum and that the UK government is blocking the will of the Scottish people. The separatist arguments are
all about taking control of our borders, our laws, our budget, not being dictated to by people we didn’t vote for, etc. Sound familiar?
If Ms Sturgeon is serious, she should go direct to whoever is responsible in
the next cabinet and start negotiating about what any separation deal would
be. That would involve borders, travel, currency, pensions, trade, tariffs and
many other things.
Once the details had been sorted out, that deal should then be put to Scottish voters in a referendum… and we would see the support for separation shrink to a very small percentage of the votes indeed.
The reality is that the UK is a much bigger and economically more powerful entity than Scotland and would basically insist on terms which were to its advantage with little or no regard to Scotland’s interest. Much like the EU/UK deal.
The separatists will never do this as they know perfectly well they’d be on a loser and they need to keep their grievances going to stay in power.
If only David Cameron had adopted my suggestion for dealing with a possible Brexit, we wouldn’t be in the mess we are now. The British people bought one pig in a poke and we mustn’t repeat the same stupid error.
I’m sure the idea that Russians serving in Berlin at the end of WWII had never seen toilets before and were using them as bowls to peel potatoes is crap.
After 19 years’ involvement with Lithuania and Latvia, I can confirm the Soviet Union had toilets, but a bit different to ours (the poo rests on a shelf before being deposited in the water, so it can be checked for blood etc. Very useful for DIY bowel cancer tests).
What they don’t have are plugs in the wash basins and baths. Instead, they
have mixer taps that serve both wash basin and bath. It causes problems for
westerners who are flummoxed by the absence of plugs, but it makes sense
when you realise the intention is to avoid cleaning yourself in dirty water (there’s plenty of water in that part of the world). International hotels have
anglicised their washing facilities, but most homes retain traditional facilities.
The banya, or traditional Russian bathhouse, is an integral part of Russian culture, as are saunas.