Sometimes government can seem like several factions of warring children, and policy itself seems to have been thought up by preschoolers, so here is my daughter Marianna’s thoughts on some policy areas from the current government.
“The Lady [Theresa May] wanted to shut all the hospitals”
“The nasty lady [Theresa May] wants the doggies to hurt the foxes, its bad”
“The Silly Man [Boris Johnson] doesn’t like all the other people”
“The Scary Lady [I assume Theresa May] doesn’t want the babas to have food or toys, when they want pizza and dolly’s and we should give them some books”
” I like the other people”
“[Bombs] are bad, because they blow up peoples houses and the poor baba’s”
NB: Neither I nor Marianna’s mother have ever taught her to refer to Theresa May as nasty or scary, this is just a conclusion she has drawn for herself, along with calling Boris Johnson the silly man.
One of the biggest stories of the week is that The Right Honourable Theresa May, Member of Parliament for Maidenhead and Prime Minister of The United Kingdom Of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, has announced that she plans to offer members of parliament a free vote to repeal the Hunting Act of 2004.
The Hunting Act itself makes it illegal to hunt wild mammals with dogs in mainland Britain, thus making the old aristocratic past time of fox hunting illegal.
The Act itself was on of those things that went back and forth for years before being enacted under Tony Blair’s government, even though it kept getting blocked in the House of Lords. Many detractors of the bill say that they it is legislating away a part of the nations heritage, and with that I agree.
Now I personally am against fox hunting, but only for the poor little foxes getting torn to shreds by, what would otherwise be, pretty cute looking dogs (bloodhounds are one of the only dogs that I would actually like). Other than that I have no problem with “the hunt”, the pageantry, a nice little horseback ride from through the country, a little boogie-woogie bugle music, the drinks, and the dinner, hell I even like the red tailcoats.
But this is one part of British heritage, “the hunt” has been taking place in Britain since Julius Caesar, Tacitus even wrote letters about it. It has been the pursuit of royals, aristocrats and the upper classes of England and Wales since before Christ. And like it or not it is a part of the heritage make up of the United Kingdom, people have been putting on spiffy red coats and taking out their hounds and horses to chase a fox, and unfortunately the ending is going to be the brutal murder of an innocent creature. That last little bit is why I couldn’t support it, and is one of the many reasons I couldn’t vote Conservative at this general election.
But the murder of innocent creatures aside I’m not really for the ending of parts of our national heritage. But its interesting to see that a brutal blood sport will only be made legal if they are the pursuit of the upper classes. You don’t see the Conservative Party floating the idea of dog fighting, and you don’t see Theresa May suggesting cock fights, even though they are also part of our national heritage, so much so that a cockpit (cock fight arena) actually makes up part of St Fagan’s National Museum Of History in Cardiff. It seems a little bit hypocritical of Theresa May to say that she’ll bring back blood sports for the rich and aristocratic, but not blood sports for the everyday man, why is that? Probably because there are no votes in it for her.
I was recently introduced to the Idle Thoughts Of An Idle Fellow by Jerome K Jerome. The book consists of 14 essays on 14 topics
ON BEING IDLE.
ON BEING IN LOVE.
ON BEING IN THE BLUES.
ON BEING HARD UP.
ON VANITY AND VANITIES.
ON GETTING ON IN THE WORLD.
ON THE WEATHER.
ON CATS AND DOGS.
ON BEING SHY.
ON EATING AND DRINKING.
ON FURNISHED APARTMENTS.
ON DRESS AND DEPORTMENT.
Jerome K Jerome is pretty much me down to a tee. He’s lazy and just writes whatever comes to mind. He doesn’t care who he offends, and I often felt that he may have been somewhat high when he picked up the pen. But Mr Jerome has inspired me, so I am going to be writing a series of posts on the topics that Mr Jerome turned his hand at. (I know I’m ripping the guy off, but quite frankly I don’t care)
On Being In Love
Have you ever seen someone and known that they would be a terrible distraction to your life. That was how I would describe it, that feeling of knowing that this person is going to really change your life. That knowledge that this is going to be massively inconvenient.
That’s how it all begins then you slip into it, the early days are all wine and dinner and flowers and dancing, but then comes the big pants and netflix, the cups of tea, the farting and the lack of make up, if you can get through that, that is true love. The enduring real world version of the thing.
Foreigner wanted to know what love is, well its two people who have decided to just give up and settle with each other because they find the other person somewhat less detestable than the rest of humanity, that my friends is love.
This is the second in series of posts ripping off the work of Mr Jerome K Jerome and his seminal piece The Idle Thoughts Of An Idle Man.
So that happened. The people of the United Kingdom (but not Northern Ireland) voted to leave the EU. After months of muck slinging and misinformation Britain narrowly voted to leave the European Union. This left Prime Minister David Cameron to be the first politician to keep a promise as he resigned his premiership , thus triggering a short leadership contest best described as mother doesn’t know best.
As well as this the Labour Party seems to be determined to simultaneously implode and rip itself apart, with the majority of party MP’s wanting to remove “leader” Jeremy Corbyn from power and Mr Corbyn refusing to leave office triggering a party wide leadership election based on the Vladimir Putin electoral system.
Add into this 6000 extra reported hate crimes that have been logged since the Brexit vote was cast, the fluctuation of the markets that look like a cutaway diagram of Wales, and several declarations of war on the baby boom generation, this whole thing is beginning to sound like some sort of satirical farce, one can almost hear Malcolm Tucker exclaiming CHRIST ON A BENDY BUS whilst R.E.M plays in the background.
This is why after a month of anger, bitterness and depression I’ve decided to see the funny side of Brexit. So here are some of the funniest/ stupidest things I’ve seen regarding Brexit after polling day:
Google reports the most popular (non porn) search the day of the Brexit results was “What is the EU?“
After being urged to vote leave by J.D Wetherspoon’s founder Tim Martin the firm lost £18,Million in value thanks to the post brexit slump.
An odious man of my acquaintance (whom I will not name for legal reasons) who campaigned strongly for brexit has now found himself fired from a leading academic establishment (which I will not name for said same legal reasons) because his position was paid for by a European Grant.
Proposals are now being drawn up by various special interest groups to cease the subsidising of public transport for the over 60’s in Wales in order to make up the shortfall of European Money coming into Wales (almost 80% of over 60’s in Wales voted to leave the EU)
Do you have any examples of poetic justice stemming from the post brexit fallout currently engulfing the UK?
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 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.
Over the past few weeks the terrorist group ISIS has been busy with an attack in Paris, Beirut and Mali. With death tolls in their hundreds and the world rallying its support for the victims, ISIS definitely has Great Britain’s attention.
the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria is an extremist militant group, self-proclaimed to be a caliphate (Islamic government) and Islamic state. It is led by and mainly composed of Sunni Arabs from Iraq and Syria. As of March 2015, it has control over territory occupied by 10 million people in Iraq and Syria, and through loyal local groups, has control over small areas of Libya, Nigeria and Afghanistan. The group also operates or has affiliates in other parts of the world, including North Africa and South Asia.
The group proclaimed itself to be a worldwide caliphate, with Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi being named its caliph (Leader)As a caliphate, it claims religious, political and military authority over all Muslims worldwide, and that the legality of all emirates, groups, states, and organisations, becomes nullified by the expansion of the caliphate’s authority and arrival of its troops to their areas. The group originated as Jama’at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad in 1999, which pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda in 2004. The group participated in the Iraqi insurgency that followed the March 2003 invasion of Iraq by Western forces. In January 2006, it joined other Sunni insurgent groups to form the Mujahideen Shura Council, which proclaimed the formation of the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) in October 2006.
After the Syrian Civil War began in March 2011, the ISI, under the leadership of al-Baghdadi, sent delegates into Syria in August 2011. These fighters named themselves the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and established a large presence in Sunni-majority areas of Syria
After an eight-month power struggle, al-Qaeda cut all ties with ISIS in February 2014, citing its failure to consult and “notorious intransigence”. In Syria, the group has conducted ground attacks on both government forces and rebel factions in the Syrian Civil War. The group gained prominence after it drove Iraqi government forces out of key cities in western Iraq in an offensive initiated in early 2014.
Muslim leaders around the world have condemned ISIL’s ideology and actions, arguing that the group has strayed overwhelmingly from the path of true Islam and that its actions do not reflect the religion’s true teachings or virtues. It is my feeling that those who would take something as beautiful and good as Islam and twist it and try to justify such horrors have strayed so far from the true path and teachings of the Prophet Mohamed that there is no hope for them. I’m not even a religious person (a catholic primary school beats that out of you) and it just astounds me that anyone could use teachings on how to live a loving and peaceful life, and a life full of charity, could ever find a way to use Islam to justify a single act of terror let alone this whole war. No true Muslim could do this.
And while the world is focused on these attacks in Paris and Mali and Beirut, I cant help but wonder what is coming next? Sun-Tzu teaches that shows of strength and force are often feints to distract from the subtleties associated with warfare, and in this modern age of technology could these brazen displays of terror be hiding darker acts of cyber terrorism?
In his book Lights Out A Cyberattack, a Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath the anchor of Nightline Mr Ted Koppel has set out a bleak vision of an unprepared government in the event of a cyberattack on the 3 main power grids within the United States. His book looks at what plans are in place by the US Government and finds the results worrying, with interviews with cabinet members and those ready to take their own action in the event of an attack Mr Koppel has certainly opened my eyes the dangers that we face in the modern world. A coordinated cyberattack on the Bank of England or the NHS could destroy the British economy and plunge this country into anarchy.
It just goes to show that in this modern age of laptop computers and personal tablets that the stylus is mightier than the sword and the knee jerk reaction may be to throw a tonne of money and half as many bombs into the middle east but I implore our government to be smart, the last thing that the middle east needs is yet another invading army, what is best for Britain is that we get our house in order (and I don’t mean silence during PMQ’s) strengthening Britain’s cyber defences is the safest thing for the British People, the biggest threat isn’t going to be a dozen blokes with bomb filled backpacks it’s going to be the spotty specky guy that was picked on in school and couldn’t get a girlfriend, but is oh so good with computers, and they’ll be working night and day on new ways to spread the “vision”that has taken a hold of them.
Remember remember the Fifth of November, the gunpowder, treason and plot.
I take a lot of pride in the history of Britain, but one of the main things that baffles me is that year on year every 5th of November we celebrate the life of a terrorist…although burning his effigy isn’t exactly a glorious tribute.
In recent years Guy Fawkes has become a folk hero and his image is a used as a symbol for anti government feelings and a voice of civil discontent. Works such as Alan Moore’s V for Vendetta have romanticised Guy Fawkes as a freedom fighter trying to throw of the yoke of a totalitarian autocracy. In the Graphic Novel the eponymous V takes up the mantle of Guy Fawkes in order to overthrow a fascist dictatorship that has swamped Britain in an almost Orwellian dystopia. It is worth mentioning that one of the most prevalent images associated with Guy Fawkes now is the mask of V from V for Vendetta and is now even the symbol of online hacktivists and vigilante group Anonymous.
But here’s the rub Guy Fawkes wasn’t actually anti government, he wasn’t even anti monarchy, he was just anti King James the 1st. The reason that Guy Fawkes chose Westminster Palace was fairly simple, firstly it was accessible from the river, secondly the labyrinth of cellars provided a decent hiding place and thirdly it was a place he knew the king would be. The initial bombing was planned for the state opening of parliament an event in public during which the king would have to be in attendance and stay for the duration. Guy Fawkes actually had a great admiration for the work of government and the only reason he was caught was that he was stupid enough to warn a member of the House of Lords about what was going to happen. And the rest is history.
So how has Guy Fawkes gone on to become the symbol of anti government feeling? Well blowing up parliament will do that. But in this day and age Guy Fawkes is seen as the last honest man to enter parliament (a claim which I find highly insulting). I think that sometimes though it’s nice to have a reminder of what people are capable of when they are unhappy with the status quo and whilst I don’t agree with his cause and certainly don’t agree with his methods I think that Guy Fawkes does symbolise that sometimes the actions of those in charge need to be questioned and that positions of power are only as stable as the people that put them there.
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.
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.”
Now to start off let me say that I am not, nor have I ever been a member of a trade union. Like them or loathe them trade unions have done a lot of good. Without them there would not be a minimum wage, and speaking plainly, workers would have no rights whatsoever, without unions there would be no race relations act, no age discrimination laws and no gender or sexuality discrimination legislation.
Ok so taking a look at it the Trade Union Bill, which went through its second reading this week, is like something straight out of a Thatcherite nightmare. On the surface the bill basically sets out to completely cripple the union’s mandate.
The right to strike has all but been abolished, calling for a 50% turnout and then majority vote before a strike can take place. Now to put this 50% turnout rule into context it would mean that the Welsh Assembly would only have 4 sitting members and the Scottish Parliament would be down to under 50 members and not a single British Member of the European Parliament or Police and Crime Commissioner would be able to take their seat, as well as the Mayor of London Boris Johnson (the turnout for the London Mayoral Election was a measly 38%).
Other provisions of the bill include naming the leader of a demonstration (usually no more than a dozen blokes stood around a drum freezing their backsides off). Double the notice unions have to give before a strike (Arthur Scargill can tell you the effects of letting people know you’re going to strike months in advance). The end to the collecting of union subs direct from salaries.
As well as this businesses will be able to employ temporary workers to cover strike action (a provision of the bill which flies directly in the face of the union movement). On top of this and what is possibly the most reasonable part of the bill is that political contributions from union subs will now be an opt in system as opposed to an opt out system. Now I have no problem with unions funding the party that most matches their goals, but I have always thought that it should be up to the individual member to decide if they wish to support that party as well.
So the implications of this bill are that unions will never be able to strike again and the way the main opposition party in Parliament is funded will be irrevocably damaged.
Here’s hoping it has better luck in the committee stage of the bill and that it gets shafted in the Lords. I guess the Government subscribes to the idea that it wont get better if you picket.