Monthly Archives: February 2019

Stormy Weather

In a parallel universe, not so far away…

I hope you have been enjoying the unseasonably warm weather. Well, make the most of it, because we won’t be seeing the likes of it again.

Continental Air Flow

My newspaper described the high temperatures as the result of the country basking “in a continental air flow”. In the event that the UK crashes out of the EU without a deal, all free movement of air to and from other EU states will be banned. Without new Trade Wind agreements, we will all be breathing pure British air. An immediate advantage is that we shall be free to abandon all EU air quality standards. As the country which has consistently failed to meet those standards, the possible downside will be that the figure of 40,000 premature deaths each year from air pollution will rise. But, hey, there’ll be no pesky EU officials to point this out to us, so we are free to die happy and in ignorance!

Tory Party constituency chair Gerard Hayter, age 94 (known to his friends as “Gerry”) commented: “During the war, we thought nothing of walking the streets of London without a gas mask, breathing in smog and the brick and cement dust from recent bomb explosions. I’m not afraid of a few diesel particulates!”. At this point, Mr Hayter wheezed, coughed and promptly expired. (Another Leave voter bites the dust.)

Free Trade Wind Agreements

In the event of no deal, over 40% of the air freely traded between the UK and our continental neighbours will cease flowing. But don’t worry, because Trade Wind Secretary Liam Fox has successfully negotiated deals with more than four other non-EU countries, together accounting for nearly 1% of our air.

Stormy weather

First to be signed was with the Faroe Islands. Great news! Average temperatures on the Faroes range from 3 degrees in winter to a balmy 13 degrees in summertime.Throw away those summer clothes now! They won’t be needed again – unless you are one of those unpatriotic types thinking of taking a summer holiday abroad, somewhere hot and sunny.

Fox continued: “With our historic Free Trade Wind Agreement with the Faroes, our island paradise will have wet and windy weather all year round, and not just most of the time. With air flowing freely between our two great island nations, the Conservative Party will have delivered one of our key election promises: a strong and stable climate. Strong winds and predictably cool temperatures every day. At a stroke, we will have also abolished climate change, for the UK anyway.”

Irish Border

One consequence of the the banning of the free movement of air will be the effect on the border between the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland. All passenger and vehicle movement will be limited to a maximum of 2mph (the Irish insisted on 3km/h but we told them to fuck off). The speed limit is seen as necessary to ensure no undue air disturbance at the border. Prime Minister Theresa May gleefully reported that she had, at last, solved the Irish border question. People and goods will continue to flow freely between the two countries, only from now on, very, very slowly. The DUP were delighted with the result. Leader Arlene Foster commented: “Average vehicle speeds across the border will return to levels last seen in the 1680s, thereby achieving another of my Party’s objectives. It will only be a matter of time before we return the whole of the UK to the 17th century.”

A Matter of Time

Speaking of a matter of time, May’s government is considering two further measures. The first is the abolition of British Summer Time. Under pressure from the ERG, the proposal would ensure that all-year-round GMT leaves the UK 2 hours behind its neighbours in summer, instead of just one hour at present. And, of course, with the UK as the potential 51st state of the USA, the ERG are keen to reduce time zone differences with America. Spokesperson Rees-Mogg stated he was confident that the time zone gesture might mean that the Americans could be persuaded to allow us to continue driving on the left. Otherwise,we would have to agree to every US demand that a UK-USA Trade Wind Agreement would impose under Donald Trump.

A more controversial proposal concerning time is a consequence of our newly-signed Trade Wind Agreement with Singapore. The city state sits on the equator, resulting in 12 hours of daylight throughout the year. With the free movement of air between the UK and Singapore, the more intelligent members of May’s cabinet have reached a startling conclusion. Dark, night-time air particles will be arriving on our shores for 12 hours each night, with the bright, daytime particles arriving freely for 12 hours each day. Parliament’s agreed solution would be to find “alternative arrangements” for UK clocks to even out daylight throughout the year. The government has appointed a team of unicorns working for Capita to work out the practicalities.

Human Eyes Exclusive!

A copy of a document from Leave extremists in the Tory Party has been leaked to Human Eyes. As part of a wider plan to privatise everything, secret plans to privatise air have been exposed. This would appear to be the true motive for ensuring free movement of air is banned in the event we leave the EU. The leaked document reveals a plan to create a series of local monopolies along similar lines to the rail and water companies – because these have “worked so well” in consumers’ interests.

Final plans are yet to emerge. The document lists 3 leading alternative proposals:

  1. Each person to have an air meter fitted into their windpipe at birth, with incentives for retro-fitting older children and adults, e.g. 3 months’ free air. Benefit claimants will have prepayment meters, to encourage them to “budget” their own breathing;
  2. A variation of the water rates system: a fixed annual fee based upon house market values in the 1980s;
  3. A fixed lifetime quota of air, supplemented with a trading system. For the latter, various compulsory euthanasia sub-options are briefly compared.

 

Take a deep breath – while stocks last.

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Mad

I’m no mental health professional so please excuse the “cod psychology” in this post!

Two questions:

  • Does being Prime Minister make you mad (as in “insane”, not just “very cross”)?
  • Is Theresa May mad?

Mad Mag

I have absolutely no doubt that Thatcher was insane when she was deposed by the Tory Party. My evidence for this? I had the dubious pleasure of “meeting” her about a year after John Major took over. Specifically, I was a guest of a company CEO at a regional lunch meeting of the Institute of Directors and Thatcher was after-lunch speaker. (Yes, I know! The things I did to earn a crust!) The table where I was seated was 5 to 10 metres at most from Thatcher’s lectern. It was the eyes that convinced me. Barking, without a doubt. And very scary to be that close. Enough said: it still sends shivers down my spine just to think of it.

Mad Blair

I believe there is a case to answer that Tony Blair, over the decade he was PM, developed some kind of mental health issues. Compare the “before” and “after” pictures below. He suffered some form of premature aging, I’m sure.

Probably he wasn’t totally out with the fairies like Thatcher was, but rather he was well on the way by the time he handed the baton to Gordon Brown. Was it the promise he made to George W Bush that started the mental decline? I leave that to you to judge. There is certainly a case that being under the constant pressure of 24 hours rolling news media puts a great strain on any human being. The peculiarly adversarial approach to politics in the English-speaking world creates further pressure. And Labour PMs face the additional burden of the hysteria of the mainly right-wing press, the most one-sided in Europe.

Mad Nad

But you don’t have to be PM to be mad: sometimes just being an MP will do. I have the misfortune to have Nadine Dorries as the MP for a constituency bordering on mine. She rightly earned the epithet “Mad Nad” as a nickname used by her political opponents long before the “Get Me Out of Here” days. Certainly there has never been any evidence of any neural connection between her mouth and whatever passes for her brain. She can be guaranteed to say something stupid at the drop of a hat. So it’s hardly surprising that she has emerged as one of the most extreme MPs over the question of the UK leaving the EU.

Mad May

And so to Theresa May and my second question.

Several of my earlier posts have made reference to May’s character and personality traits. May’s fans and spin doctors (of which I am clearly neither) could, at one time, have suggested these were virtues. May at one time had a reputation for levelheadedness and was seen as a moderate, by Tory standards. Some traits have always been clearly negatives: her refusal to trust people or take advice, her apparent inability to socialize and her tendency for obsessive behaviour have always been worrying signs. Her prime obsession, in my view and that of many others, was over immigration, which has coloured her whole approach to negotiations with the EU. Commentators have remarked also on her total lack of understanding, or care for, people outside a narrow circle of Tory Party members and supporters. I now place trying to avoid a split in the Conservative Party as another true obsession which has emerged more clearly over the past year or so.

I stand by my “Mister Men” caricature of her as “Little Miss I-Know-Best” as an accurate assessment.

Three Phases

So is she mad, in the medical sense? I think we need to break down her time as Prime Minister into three phases. We must also remember her as the author of the “hostile environment” whilst Home Secretary, also adopted in the DWP, which has led to incalculable misery for UK citizens of colour, would-be asylum seekers and the disabled, poor and most vulnerable of our citizens.

Phase 1

Phase 1 was in the early months of her premiership. She made a massive error of judgement by pandering to the far right anti-EU fanatics in her party in the first Conference speech as leader and Prime Minister. Her famous “red lines” boxed her negotiating position in too soon and she rejected any bipartisan approach to the UK’s negotiating position. Her perceived necessity to balance remainers and leavers in her initial Cabinet appointments led to some extraordinarily bad choices. The UK’s reputation abroad will take decades to recover just from May’s decision to appoint Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary, let alone the other appalling mistakes.

Her other major act of bad judgement was in triggering the Article 50 process too soon, before she had any proper plan how to proceed. Her focus was on Tory Party unity, not the views of the EU27, especially that of Ireland. Even before the 2017 election, the DUP dependency and bribe, May saw Ireland simply from the narrow perspective of maintaining the unity of the UK. Ireland’s and Scotland’s wishes (and Remain majorities) were ignored and Wales probably didn’t even get a second thought.

But there was a lot of hubris in the air and in the Tory Party – although May herself denied six times she would call a snap election – until she called one. Her rabid cheerleader, the Daily Mail, ran the headline “Crush the Saboteurs”. May was intending at this phase to use so-called “Henry VIII powers” to override Parliament and act as an absolute ruler over key aspects of the legislation needed to leave the EU. Gina Miller, who successfully challenged this approach in the courts, was vilified by Tories and their cheerleaders alike.

But even during this time, I saw May as someone with poor judgement, a tendency to authoritarianism, but with no clear evidence of mental health issues.

Phase 2

The second phase followed the 2017 election and the creation of a hung Parliament. May could have attempted a multi-party coalition even then, but chose instead to throw her lot in with the DUP – the most unrepresentative bunch of bigots imaginable to represent the interests of the people of the Six Counties and to protect the 20 years of peace brought about by the Good Friday agreement.

May’s room for manoeuvre was even more hemmed in by her pact with the devils of the DUP. But there were long periods of vacillation, key votes delayed or postponed as she agonisingly tried to get first a negotiating position and then an agreement with the EU that would (just about) hold her Cabinet and most of her Party together. Who now remembers what the Chequers deal said? It’s been drowned out since by talk of backstops, time limited or not and much tactical posturing by Tory Party factions – Labour too. (Remember the agonies of the wording of the Labour Party’s position?)

But I think this phase came to a crashing halt last month when her agonizingly-crafted position was rejected in the Commons by a massive 230-vote margin. But still, I would say, no clear evidence of May actually going mad.

Phase 3

This phase is continuing. May’s position has see-sawed between further appeasement to the far right in her Party and a cynical and insincere reaching out to placate some of Labour’s demands on workers’ rights in particular. May’s underlying personality flaws have always made her a bad choice for Prime Minister (but, throughout the relevant period, all the other candidates are worse). But the shock of the size of her Commons defeat was followed by the pseudo-reprieve of the “unicorn” key vote. Based almost entirely on Tory and DUP votes in favour, Parliament instructed May to return to Brussels to negotiate “alternative arrangements” to the Irish backstop.

This is perhaps the second low point in recent years for the UK parliament. A mixture of cowardice and delusional fantasy by mainly Tory MPs voted for an impossible fudge driven by a forlorn desire to put Party unity above national interest. (The first low point was in 2015 when Parliament agreed to hold a referendum without any of the usual safeguards that a country with a proper constitution would already have considered, e.g. a super-majority needed for change.) But my main point is that the combination of the shock of the 15 January defeat and the cover provided by the “unicorn” vote on the 29th has tipped May over the edge.

May still refuses to rule out “no deal”. This is a position of supreme folly and a criminally irresponsible way to treat a mature democracy. We can infer that Party unity is now May’s only driving force and her stubbornness, which some saw as a virtue, is now pathological.

The UK on Valentine’s Day 2019

So, welcome to the current reality. May is doggedly pursuing her unicorn in a rabid and illogical attempt to hold both the mad and sane wings of her party together. She marches, blinkered, towards the cliff edge. All the alternative Tory candidates for leadership seem to belong to the mad faction of the party. Labour, under Corbyn, dithers.

The only people who approve of our plight are some neo-fascist fringe parties in mainland Europe, Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump and others of their ilk. The rest of the world thinks we’re mad.

I once wrote a blog post called “Respect”. Pah!

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Failure of Leadership

I nearly fell off my chair laughing. The comment wasn’t intended to be funny, but I found it hilarious. It was made by that little pipsqueak, Gavin Williamson, who – please don’t laugh – was actually appointed Defence Secretary by Theresa May. Williamson, the Private Pike of the Cabinet, was in friendly company and he let his imagination run away with him a bit.

In a speech to the “Boys Who Like their Toys to Go Bang” (aka the Royal United Services Institute), he spoke of his dreams. He dreams of drones which swarm like flies to put off the enemy’s defences. He dreams of sailing our one aircraft carrier to the South China Sea (to frighten the Chinese). He dreams too of spending lots more money on the Toys the Boys like so much. (Reality check: the aircraft carrier might be ready by 2021. Oh, and it might have some planes – American, of course. If the Yanks have managed to fix the 300 “unresolved high-priority deficiencies”, reported by the Pentagon, by then. The planes? US F35s, a snip at 92 million quid – each!)

Stupid boys

How about this as a rousing cry to the true blue-hearted amongst us? “We must strengthen our global presence, enhance our lethality (our what?) and increase our mass”. By eating more junk food, perhaps – preferably radioactive, to enhance our lethality. (Plutonium is heavier than lead, usefully.)

But it wasn’t that which made me laugh. No, it was this little gem: “We should be the nation that people turn to when the world needs leadership”. Leadership?? In one bound, little Gav goes to the top of the pile – and it’s a big pile – of deluded Tories.

Laughing Stock

It wasn’t really little Gav’s fault that I had laughed so much. You see, I’d only just finished reading a 2-page article from reporters in seven EU countries of their views of Britain. I’ve used the phrase “laughing stock” in posts before, but that really only captures a part of it.

Un big mess

To give you a flavour: the full article can be found here. Phrases like “a pantomime”, “un big mess”, “national psychodrama” sprinkle the article. A view from a Netherlands newspaper: “It’s like the crew of the Titanic deciding, by majority vote, that the iceberg should get out of the way”. “Perhaps Great Britain is so fundamentally insular and protective of its own future and freedom, this is its destiny”: CEO of the port of Calais. He adds: “But it’s a pity”. A Spanish academic muses that the “systemic failure” of our attempt to leave the EU calls into question the very idea of the great British democracy. There is some regret: a German diplomat compares it to being dumped by your girlfriend: “I still have her jumper … hoping her scent will linger.” A Czech political analyst describes it as seeing “an established democracy descending into this chaos and irrationality”.

Perhaps the last word should, fittingly, come from Ireland, a country we treated very badly for 800 years. It rekindles the idea of “perfidious Albion”. An Irish history professor: “there is a sense that with the British, unless it’s written down you can’t trust anything they say”.

Theresa May

Which brings us to our “Prime Minister”. Some of us have memories long enough to stretch back to last autumn. That was when May signed a legally binding agreement with the EU which included a “backstop” to protect free flow of goods and services between the Irish Republic and the Six Counties in the north. That’s the same Theresa May who, a few weeks later, encourages Parliament to vote against that agreement. Parliament (i.e. Tories and DUP) duly obliges, defeating the agreement by a margin of 230 votes. May offers to renegotiate what she agreed only weeks earlier. Perfidious seems a fair enough description.

May has stated she will stand down as PM before the next general election. Some rumours say she we leave her post this summer. It’s too awful even to contemplate who might win an election involving just 100,000 geriatric out-of-touch-with-reality Tory Party members. There is literally no one who could conceivably lead the Tories who could actually be described as a leader, except in the deluded, pied-piper, over-the-cliff sense of the word.

Jeremy Corbyn

So, let’s have just a few words about the Labour alternative. Opinion polls give conflicting results, but there is no sign of a clear win for a future Labour government under Corbyn. He has anti-EU history and shows no leadership qualities when it comes to his avowed respect for Party democracy (i.e. the policy decisions of the 2018 Labour Party Conference) where they differ from his own long-held views.

Whether he deserves this or not, he carries the air of a man who hasn’t changed his opinion on anything in forty years. Don’t get me wrong, I would not like a Labour leader who has such a lack of principles, putting Party before national interest, as any conceivable Tory leader (including May herself). But a measure of pragmatism would enhance his reputation for humanity.

Conclusion

The EU referendum has wrecked UK politics and political parties. It’s a matter of when, not if, the Tory loony irreconcilables split off from the saner Party members. Labour may yet fracture, too, although for different dynamics: at least with Labour, both the rival wings are broadly rational in their thinking.

So, where does that lead us? Basically fucked, I guess. But whatever Britain is in 2019, it’s crystal clear what we are NOT. And that’s “the nation that people turn to when the world needs leadership”. No matter how many drones we buy (which don’t actually work yet as Williamson desires).

Stupid boy.

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