Foreign Secretary, A Eunuch Experience

Unless you’ve been living under a rock ( and under the circumstance this seems a rather sensible option) you’ll know that after voting to leave the European Union (I’m not bitter) the Labour Party has been in turmoil with members of Her Majesties Loyal Opposition finally uniting behind Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn (albeit in the same way Brutus et al united behind Julius Caesar) and that in the same time the Conservative Party has managed to stage a leadership contest and swear in a new Prime Minister following David Cameron’s resignation.

After a very brief leadership race the Conservative Party has selected The Right Honourable Theresa May MP as the new Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. After being asked to form a government by Her Majesty the Queen, Mrs May got straight to work picking her new cabinet most of the choices were fairly sound but the one that drew most controversy was the appointment of former London Mayor Boris Johnson MP as Secretary of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Boris Johnson
Secretary of State For The Foreign and Commonwealth Office: The Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP

Boris Johnson was one of the leading figures of the Brexit movement (the campaign to leave the European Union) and as such was tipped to replace David Cameron as the next Prime Minister. He enjoyed much media notoriety as Mayor of London, his blonde haired buffonish charm and unapologetic upper class demeanour make him somewhat of a marmite figure across the country, but lying behind the Etonian oaf exterior is a political acumen sharp enough to cut glass.

When David Cameron stood down as Prime Minister, thus making the fallout from Brexit his successors problem, Boris, knowing this, decided to bide his time as most from the Brexit camp saw the premiership as a poisoned chalice. So when Theresa May became Prime Minister Boris had to be given a top job purely because his campaigning and media profile demanded it. Mrs May knows that she had to give Boris a cabinet position because as dangerous as having Boris in the cabinet is, he would be more dangerous as a back bencher.

Now that brings us to the position Mr Johnson was actually given, Foreign Secretary. You may ask what does Foreign Secretary do? The answer is not much. He may have a whole department to run but Mr Johnson has become the most powerful eunuch in Whitehall. Most major foreign policy decisions are made by the Prime Minister, most diplomatic actions are taken by ambassadors and other civil servants and now international trade has a new secretary of state and whole new department, and even Brexit, the most important foreign policy of a generation is being handled by its own department.

So what does that leave for Mr Johnson? Not much. He is now essentially The Secretary of State for Taking Blame, whenever British troops are killed in the middle east, he’ll be trotted out to sweat on question time, or when British Tourists are killed abroad he’ll be the one saying how sorry the government is. From the Prime Ministers point of view she can also send him abroad when and if he starts making a nuisance of himself in the press, or if it looks like he’s getting a little to popular among the back benches any number of foreign crises can be arranged.

I think that its clear to see that Mrs May subscribes to the theory that anyone who says keep your friends close but your enemies closer clearly doesn’t have many enemies.

Alrite Me Old China

President Xi Jinping
President Xi Jinping

Yesterday, the General Secretary of the Ruling Party of Peoples Republic of China, President Xi Jinping, began his state visit to the United Kingdom.  President Xi’’s state visit has including meeting Her Majesty The Queen and the royal household, an address to both houses of parliament and fish n chips in a pub.

Yesterdays address to the joint Houses of Parliament began with the Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow speaking about the links that Britain shares with China and Asia as a whole, whilst tactfully not mentioning years of colonialism and The First Opium War, The Second Opium War, The Boxer Rebellion and The Korean War, all whilst praising President Xi’s progression of the Chinese economy and the work he has done to improve human rights.

Speaker John Bercow Looks On As President Xi Addresses Parliament
Speaker John Bercow Looks On As President Xi Addresses Parliament

Looking on from the audience the Prime Minister and The Leader of The Opposition who had been forced by protocol to sit next to each other looked as though the only thing stopping them from stabbing each other was the presence of witnesses.

When President Xi took the podium he began by thanking the Prime Minister for the hospitality that he has received whilst in the UK, echoing the sentiments of every visiting head of state since time began, speaking of the friendship between the peoples of Great Britain and of The Peoples of the Peoples Republic of China.  He went on to talk of building future links with Great Britain, and has actually put his money where his Mao is thanks to £30 billion of investments into UK industry that was announced yesterday morning ahead of his visit. He spoke of the history of China and showed off an impressive knowledge of the history of British democracy (putting my own knowledge to shame) saying that the Peoples Republic, like Britain has shown “[That] people are foundation of a country” and that people need to be taken care of in order to build something great.

President Xi then began praising the British legal system and saying that it has been a foundation of the legal system of the Peoples Republic of China, and then President Xi began talking of the history between The United Kingdom and The Peoples Republic of China, stating that Britain was the First Western Nation to recognise the new Peoples Republic of China under Chairman Mao Zedong and Britain was also the first nation to buy Chinese Bonds on the open market. Steering away from the topic of Sino-Anglo conflict President Xi went on to pay tribute to 24 Chinese nationals who fought alongside the British at Normandy and said “what’s past is prologue” and that Britain and China could look forward to much international cooperation.

The joint session of parliament was then closed by the Speaker of the House of Lords the Baroness D’Souza who praised President Xi’s record in government and paid tribute to the late Lord Howe for his work with Sino- British relations, before ending with the hopes that President Xi and his lady wife enjoy their fish n chips.

Now this was a lovely speech delivered in his native Mandarin and healthily looked forward to an idealistic vision of Anglo-Sino diplomacy but I couldn’t help feel that there was more not being said, human rights and opium wars aside China seems to finally be thawing towards the UK, giving billions of pounds in investment (not to mention the amount of our foreign debt that the Chinese own). It seems that whilst all this is going on there are still many great walls that will need to be overcome , China is still holding a grudge regarding the Dali Lama’s visit to Britain and even with billions of pounds and renminbi at stake will hundreds of years of empire building and colonialism be easy to put aside? Confucius say ” time will tell.”

Political Heavyweights Fight For Mayoral Title

My Lords Ladies and Gentlemen, Children of all ages, LET’S GET READY TO RUMBLE. It was yesterday announced that the Conservative Parties number one contender for the coveted title of Mayor of London has been selected. IN THE BLUE CORNER,  the current MP for Richmond Park,  the one the only Zac Goldsmith. And his opponent IN THE RED CORNER, the Member of Parliament for Tooting, Sadiq Kahn.

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Sadiq Kahn MP and Zac Goldsmith MP the two front runners for the next Mayor of London

Other candidates include Green Party Candidate Sian Berry, Caroline Pidgeon for the Liberal Democrat Party and Peter Whittle for UKIP. Other declared party candidates include the always controversial George Galloway the leader of the Respect Party, Lindsey Garret of Something New, Upkar Singh Rai of the National Liberal Party and Paul Golding of the fascist paramilitary group Britain First, have all declared as candidates as well as a slew of independents.

So when the polls open it looks like Londoners will have a real smorgasbord of candidates to choose from, but the sensible money will be on either Mr Goldsmith or Mr Kahn.  But with policies from airports to zoo’s being debated who wins, you decide.

Sunday Bloody Sunday.

Just a quick one today about Sunday trading and how these restrictions are the tool of Satan and should be repealed at once lest those in favour be burnt alive at the stake for crimes against humanity.

As you can guess I’m not a fan. You would think that at 5 o’clock on a Sunday evening, in 2015, that I would be able to walk to my nearest supermarket (approximately 70 yards) and get a loaf of bread (cake). Unfortunately Morrison’s was closed…so were ASDA’s, Sainsbury’s Lidl’s and Aldi (all of which are within a 5 minute walk from my house). Why is this?

closed sign

Now I understand the origins of Sunday trading hours stem from the UK’s Christian past, where you would be doomed to hell for all eternity for doing anything other than attending church on a Sunday. However 21st century Britain is by and large a secular society, and whilst religion is still a major part of many people’s lives it doesn’t hold the sway on everyday life that it once did (in spite of what the Daily Mail proclaims about Sharia Law corrupting the moral fabric of Britain). So I ask why, in a post Christian nation,  can I not buy a tin of beans in a supermarket at 4:05 PM on a Sunday?

I understand that for many businesses it may not be profitable to stay open on a Sunday and I even respect that sort of prudent business acumen, but surely a supermarket would see more business on a Sunday evening than at 3:30 on a Tuesday morning?

So would the government consider repealing this statute? At the moment it would be difficult to tell, as it would work well with the governments message of businesses taking care of their own affairs and the hand of government loosening its grip around how businesses operate, as state and private industry drift further away from each other, but on the other hand it does fly in the face of the conservative party narrative of old fashioned values, so it will probably be one of those things that people will just have to put up with for another couple of decades and either stock up on their bread and milk (cake and wine) on a Saturday or go without until Monday.

Guns Don’t Kill People Dickheads do

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Yesterday saw a tragedy take place in the United States. The 45th mass shooting of 2015, taking place at Umpqua Community College, which has now left nine dead (ten including the gunman himself) and a further seven injured.

I just want you to take a moment for that to sink in, the 45th mass shooting in under a year, in a so called civilised, first world country.  Now undoubtedly the gunman had some deep psychological problem, either treated or untreated, but the fact that this sort of person had access to a powerful firearm is astounding, this is why I’m glad things are different in the UK.

Chances are that in Britain, the only time anyone will ever encounter a gun is through the television, or at a major tourist attraction such as Buckingham Palace (where they are there for ceremonial purposes more than defensive). In Britain thanks to stringent firearms legislation fewer than 2.5% of all homicides were gun/firearm related in 2011 and by 2013 there were only 30 homicides caused by gun in England and Wales with fewer still in Scotland (5 in total). Statistics also show that since 2010 the number of gun related crimes in the United Kingdom has fallen year on year, thanks in no small part to our boys and girls on the thin blue line, the figures also show that in 2014 the number of gun deaths in the UK (homicide or accidental) is 21, which is less than 0.25% of the 8512 gun death victims in the US in the first 3 quarters of 2015.

US_Capitol_Building_at_night_Jan_2006

When it comes to America the use of guns is something of thorny issue with the pro gun lobby citing their constitutional right to bear arms and arguing that any new gun legislation is an erosion of their constitutional liberties (one of the many downsides to having a written constitution) and then of course the anti gun lobby citing every bit of butchery from Custer to Columbine as reason enough to tighten gun law, with a split congress and a beleaguered president caught in the middle.

hungerford massare

As an outsider it’s easy for me to say that they need to outlaw guns in the same way that Britain and Australia have, but I don’t know if it would work for America, as the US is a country with 50 different sets of laws at the state level and then federal law trying to keep a lid on that, but it’s this sort of thing that must make President Obama’s heart glow with the knowledge that an end is in sight for him, knowing that after January 20th this sort of thing is someone else’s problem.   But whoever President Obama’s replacement is they will certainly need to make headway into firearm reform its this sort of tragedy that should be the shot in the arm that America needs to wake up and see sense. In the UK after the Hungerford Massacre we got the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1988 making it illegal to own a semi automatic firearm, so what will America get after this its 45th gun spree of 2015.

American comedian Chris Rock said that American’s will never go for gun control, the best you could hope for is bullet control, put the price of bullets up so high that if someone winds up shot to death you know that they probably deserved it.

On that note I would like to pay my respects the victims’ families of this latest monstrosity.

*statistics courtesy of the Home Office and The White House*