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PostPosted: Sun Sep 05, 2021 5:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The BBC news webpage reports that a women's rights demonstration in Kabul has been broken up using tear gas and pepper spray.

Now that kind of thing would never happen here would it?

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 07, 2021 9:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good point earlier about the vast amount of employment and income that depends on the whole bovine TB thing.

The same is effectively true of anti-drug policies...I read once that ending the "war on drugs" would effectively remove billions from the economy because of the amount of jobs that depend on it. Very Happy

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 07, 2021 6:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey Av! Wave

Odd little story this one: I was listening to Classic FM the other day - Monday - in mid-afternoon, and on the hourly news bulletin they reported that "It was confirmed" (their words) that Boris Johnson and his wife had spent the weekend at Balmoral with the Queen. (Again their words) "No further details were released".

That was it. End of story.

There was no report of this on the evening news - BBC or Sky, as far as I'm aware, certainly it never featured in any of the main national newspapers (on the front pages at least, because I read them all every day).

Now forgive me if I'm wrong, but I don't think that Boris and Carrie Johnson would be the Queen's chosen buddies for holing up for the weekend at Balmoral, and this certainly wasn't a regular thing that she does with every PM and their families, so I think that there was something odd about it. There were no reported visiting dignitaries that would have demanded his presence, though Balmoral is sufficiently large and remote that it is entirely possible that someone could slip in and out without being noticed (though clearly Boris and Carrie didn't manage it). There had been all of that stuff in the weekend press about Charles' aide swinging gongs for wealthy donors to the Prince's charities, but I shouldn't have thought that that would be regarded as sufficient of a constitutional crisis to demand that Boris have an extended pow-wow with the Queen in a remote and private location.

Perhaps the Queen is thinking about throwing in the towel and handing over to Charlie? That would be big enough a jolt to the system to demand a weekend of talking - but frankly I simply don't see her doing it. And then there's the Andrew situation - you know, talk of his being tried in absentia in the US for allegedly having sex with a minor. Could this have developed into something that could ramify in a majorly bad way for 'The Firm'? Or Harry and Meghan? Talk was in the press a week or so ago that they were going to name the senior royal (had to be Charles or William) that had enquired "any idea what colour the baby is likely to be" before the birth of Archie. It is pretty much assumed that whoever it was (if one of the two aforementioned), if their name came out, they could never assume to the throne, so that would be pretty big?

Could be any one of these things really - or indeed something completely different - but whatever it was (and I wonder if we'll ever know) it was something pretty significant; I'd bet my shirt on it!

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 10, 2021 7:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, I don't really see her stepping down. Poor old Charles...once touted as the hope of the British monarchy, he's going to end up taking the throne just in time to die himself thanks to dear old Mum's longevity. Very Happy

(Although it's quite possible he may simply not want it any more, if he ever did.)

I do wonder if the monarchy is on its last legs these days. As for the "senior royal," my bet personally would be on it having been Phillip, so rather a moot point now anyway if so. Very Happy

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 11, 2021 7:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, again pure speculation on my part, but I have a hunch that this morning's headlines give us a clue as to the possible - I repeat, possible - reason for Johnson's trip to Balmoral last weekend.

It transpires, from today's press, that after some attempts at evasive action and monkeying around, Prince Andrew has been served papers in respect of the accusations made against him, that allow for a hearing (at which he could presumably be obligated to attend) to proceed. The paperwork was actually given to a security guard at one of the royal households (which apparently counts) and news of this has found it's way into the papers.

Now this could be a big deal.

We have some kind of extradition agreement with the USA, and possibly (I'm guessing here) if someone is called to attend a hearing in the other country, but fails to attend, a request could be made to the police of the accused's country requesting an extradition of the individual. That this would be an embarrassment to our country, were it to occur, is an understatement. It would be a hugely difficult diplomatic incident between the US and UK, and could pit the Royal family against the police of this country if Andrew fails to cooperate. It would cause a massive headache for the Johnson administration in trying to navigate a way through it.

The Government would almost certainly be required to ask that Andrew submit himself to the requisite officials and travel to the US for arraignment, were such a request made - not to do so would be regarded as a failure of statecraft of the highest order, so it looks to me as if it might be the case that Andrew will have to comply with the papers and attend the hearing, in order to prevent this embarrassing situation from occurring.

This would almost certainly have required a major pow-wow between Johnson, the Queen, quite possibly the Lord Chancellor and the Prince's legal team in order to 'game' the possible scenarios that might be occurring in the near future, and consider the best course of action. Behind the scenes, the Royal family might be asking for some kind of assurance that Andrew will be let off the hook if he attends in America, before he agrees to do so. (So far the gen is that the Prince's lawyers are saying that the papers were not legally served.)

As I say, all totally speculative on my part, but it would seem to fit the bill. I'd be interested to hear any thoughts anybody else might have on this?

Shocked

(Re your Prince Phillip guess Av, I think the Sussex's have said it wasn't either the Queen or Prince Phillip already - that leaves only Charles or William in reality. I'd bet on Charles of the two, but who knows?)
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 13, 2021 6:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Today's Telegraph tells us that Boris Johnson is going to "Rip Up Covid Restrictions"!" The PM is quoted as saying that like it or not, life must return to the (new) normal and that we will just have to learn to live with Covid, like it or not.

Now if I were a cynical man, I might be tempted to think that the reason he is suddenly coming out as a champion of freedom is that he has suffered such a battering over his social care funding policy (both inside parliament and at the grassroots constituency level), that he is desperately trying to ingratiate himself with his MPs, who are known to be unhappy with the ongoing Covid restrictions and suggestions of vaccination passports and the like (which have, of a sudden, been dropped after we were told by two Ministers that they were definitely coming in).

Not that our honourable PM would ever play politics with something so life-affectingly serious as how best to deal with the ongoing coronavirus threat - no he would never do that now would be? He'll simply be 'following the science'.
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 17, 2021 6:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The day after the announcement of Johnson's intention to do his "ripping up", we were told by exactly the same papers that he was to announce his winter Covid plan which would save the NHS from becoming overwhelmed in the face of rising Covid hospitalisations and winter flu cases. These plans we were told, would include all measures that could be used to control the virus and that "nothing was off the table".

Today we are back to ripping up the regulations with news of "summer holiday joy" for millions as Johnson prepares for a bonfire of the regulations pertaining to travel.

There is method in this continually swapping from the presentation of optimism to threat and pessimism, then back to optimism again. This continually presenting contradictory views keeps us disorientated and wrong-footed while things are done which we would never ordinarily tolerate. Like Government discussing the option of mandating vaccination, vaccination passports or allowing for the vaccination of our children without consent from their parents. It has the effect that we never know quite where we are in all of this, this collective madness that has swept our world, as we are thrown this way and that like peas in a whistle.

Like Neil Oliver in his recent GB News post, as this thing has progressed, I find it harder and harder not to succumb to the thought that our world is being deliberately and systematically dismantled before our eyes. Is this paranoia on my part? On Oliver's part? On the part of the millions of disorientated people who are struggling to comprehend what is happening? Certainly as the weeks and months progress I am encountering more and more people who are observing that the thing "no longer seems to make any sense". And let's face it - why would it? When your chief sources of information are so at odds, when your Government itself seems to have no clear direction of travel, when what is writ in stone today is like the idle wind which we regardeth not tomorrow, then how can things make any sense? We are ground down and fragmented, the natural coherent shape of our lives unmade and the structure upon which the form of our existence rested undermined. What is not as yet clear is what is going to be put in place to replace it. I have a feeling that we are not going to like it.
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 18, 2021 3:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The French have a word for it (they would, wouldn't they Wink ). Douceur. In the dictionaries you'll find it defined as a bribe, a financial inducement, but in reality it's much more subtle than that. It refers to the system of little perks, the privileges, the luxuries, that grease the wheels of governance and diplomacy, and keep everyone in line and things running just tickety-bo.

Now we don't normally associate the arrival and departure of our Ministers of State with this system, but the connection is there. One of the journalists I saw talking about the recent reshuffle of the Cabinet refered to how quickly the trappings of high office dissapear once you no longer occupy the role. You arrive for your meeting in your chauffeur driven Daimler and go home on the bus. Suddenly your diary is empty - no-one wants to spring for your lunch in the best restaurants, the Minister's Bar in the HOC is closed to you, as is the executive toilet and you realise that organisation of your own life (as opposed to having someone else to do it for you) is a pain.

Now politicians are human with the same foibles as the rest of us, and in the enjoyment of these little perks of 'life at the top' they find life pretty conducive to them. Naturally they don't want to loose them and this fact influences them more than we often give credit for. As I say, these things not only make their often difficult job more tolerable - but they serve to keep them in line as well. It's not a big deal, but it doesn't do any harm to remember it now and again.

------------------------------------0-----------------------------

So the doctors are digging in and liking this business of doing ninety percent of their work from home over the telephone (some being paid a hundred quid an hour for it) and are resistant to actually going back to the surgery to see people face to face again. Well, no surprise there - I've yet to come across anyone who doesn't prefer their new arrangement in this department (in fact it is in large part why so many people have been in favour of the lockdown policy - that and furlough), but in the case of the doctors I'll make an exception.

Stay at home by all means.

It will simply speed up your passage into the dustbin of history as new and more efficient algorithms are developed to take over your role completely. We are way into the point where such box ticking jobs as a GP's can be done better and more effectively by AI and it is only the medical profession's own pecuniary interest that is holding this back.

Time to rethink our relationship with the doctor, with the front line provision of service: do away with the personal GP and only go to see a random doctor for a physical examination if the algorithm decides it is necessary. This would be done in specific centers attached to the hospitals in each area and GP surgeries would be a thing of the past - and good riddance.
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 20, 2021 7:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Laughing You gotta love the French.

They have managed to insult us by not recalling their ambassador (as they have done from their US and Australian embassies) over the trilateral US/UK/Australian nuclear subs deal. The deal, which has pissed the French off big time - either because it has usurped an earlier deal between Oz and themselves, costing them billions in lost revenue, or because it is "not the way you treat allies"... take your pick - has provoked this response against the two mentioned, but not against the UK.

When questioned about this, their response was dismissive: the UK were not really the key players in this, the "fifth wheel on the wagon" they explained. "Besides, we are used to their perfidious and self-serving nature of old. We would expect no different from them." As clear a way of saying that we no longer merit much attention, that we are insignificant, as you could get!

Applaud


But as an interesting aside from this, while much is made of the 'special relationship' between the US and UK, and most people assuming that because of the common language we share and the origins of the first settlers, that the relationship between the two countries is almost that of parent and offspring, in fact nothing could be further from the truth.

The reality is that it is the French and the USA that share a much more common heritage (if that's right word), because it was in the US and France that the 'modern world' was born. Both countries came into being as a result of revolution, both turned their backs on the 'old power' far more completely than elsewhere and in both for the first time, egalitarian principles won the order of the day against the cronyism of entrenched power structures. It was only with French help that the forces of Washington were able to win the day and defeat the British and it does not go to far to say that without the French there would be no United States of America today.

All the more surprising then that the US should forget these old and long-standing obligations to our Gallic neighbors and effectively cut the legs out from under them in this way. The USA has always been a ruthless business player and certainly they want to send the Chinese a message in the formation of this tripartite alliance, but the ex French ambassador said on TV yesterday that the first his country learned of the new arrangement was on the television. This, he said, was not how one treats a partner - and perhaps he has a point.
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 21, 2021 7:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Who'd have believed it? If anyone would have told you that less than two years after Boris Johnson's landslide victory in December 2019 election, barely nine months after leaving the transition period of our exit from the EU we'd be facing a situation where food shortages of significant degree were becoming a very real possibility, where gaps on supermarket shelves were commonplace and worsening by the day you'd have said they were nuts! Yet this is the case. And further, we face the prospect of going into winter with a looming energy supply crisis which harbours the possibility that millions of vulnerable people will not be able to heat their homes, either because they won't be able to meet the spiraling costs of doing so, or because the gas required to do so simply won't be there. The Government are considering the possibility of imposing a three day working week on industry, there is crisis in the supply of labour to do the jobs that are screaming out to be done and the harvest is threatening to rot in the fields for lack of workers to bring it in.

We have the almost surreal situation, such is our topsy-turvey landscape, that the falling unemployment that the figures show is a bad thing. Do you get that? It's almost impossible to get your head around but here's how it works. Falling unemployment is only good it is accompanied by falling job vacancies as people move into the available jobs. In our case however, we have falling unemployment accompanied by rising job vacancies - and that is indicative of something deeply amiss.

Furthermore, if someone had told you, as you celebrated Boris Johnson's creaming of Jeremy Corbyn, that within eighteen months he'd be borrowing and spending money at levels that would make Corbyn look like the architect of austerity, George Osborne, you'd have laughed in their face. But here we are with the economy in tatters, with the highest borrowing since the year dot and the spectre of inflation growing at a faster rate than it has in decades. And to cap it all we've seen a massive incursion of the state into our lives, we are ordered this way and that as those above us deem necessary and authoritarianism is at levels unthought of in any time in our history. And all of this under the Conservative Right that led us into Brexit.

Maybe I'm thinking, "project fear" - the derisory chant of the Leave Campaign at the Remain when they pointed out the risks of our leaving the EU - is turning out not to have been project fear after all?
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 25, 2021 4:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Is it any wonder that the petrol stations were flooded with drivers seeking to fill up their cars after the Government's Corporal Jones like cries of "Don't panic, don't panic!" filling the airwaves for the past twenty four hours?

Thrown into a seeming disarray over the increasingly acute problems faced by the petrol delivery supply chain, evidenced by two of the major companies, Shell and Esso, having to close some of their forecourts, the Government response was to throw fuel onto the fire (sorry about that Wink ) by announcing that people should not use the petrol stations any more than they usually do - a request that of course, people immediately ignored. Better they had said nothing, just got on with fixing the issue instead.

As it was, after an emergency meeting yesterday afternoon, they came up with the brilliant suggestion that what was needed was to issue temporary visas to HGV drivers from the continent to make up the shortfall in numbers of our own. Yes - you have it; that would be the same drivers that they threw out of the country but a few months ago when the time limit for application for working permits elapsed, causing them to all bugger of home. The only problem with this idea is that there is no guarantee that there will be sufficient drivers from EU countries that will be available, or even want, to come back to the UK. Plan B is therefore to utilize drivers from the armed forces to make deliveries where the needs are most urgent.

All in all the whole thing is a total shambles - and one that was both completely predictable and avoidable with a small amount of forethought and forward planning. Clearly in the Government's rush to 'get brexit done', they gave no thought to the impact that pulling a significant proportion of the workforce from areas where high numbers of foreign workers were employed would have. So now we have delivery problems in virtually every business where road haulage is a crucial part of the supply chain, we have massive shortfalls of workers in the care and hospitality sectors, and huge problems in those areas of agribusiness where harvesting is dependent upon itinerant seasonal labour.

So far from 'taking back control', we find ourselves having to make panic driven slap-dash rulings on the hoof in order to stave off potential disaster. Global Britain! Open for Business! This lot couldn't organise the proverbial piss-up in a brewery!

(Which brings me nicely into the following: permit me a bit of schadenfreude at the news of the problems that labour shortages and beer delivery shortfalls are causing the pub-chain Witherspoon's. Founder Tim Martin was one of the most vocal and high profile Brexiteers from the business community during the referendum campaign and I feel no guilt at taking pleasure from seeing him hoist on his own petard!)
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 25, 2021 8:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The first sign I've seen so far of the food shortages we're hearing about is that all the local Greggs have been out of stock of Sausage, Bean & Cheese Melts for the past week or so. Hoping that's as much as I see of it but of course expecting things are going to get worse.
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 26, 2021 6:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's not so much a case of shortages as gaps on shelves reflecting a reduction in choice. There are shortages in specific areas of the country and in specific types of food (yesterday for example, the Co-op chillers were empty in my town due to the failure of the chilled food delivery company that supplies them), but much of the supply chain works on a 'just in time' basis (by necessity due to the huge turn over required to keep near seventy million mouths filled) and this is under intense strain.

In my own store, chilled and bread deliveries have become much more unreliable, as has the certainty that what you order on any given day (in terms of specific items) will actually arrive the following. Often you find replacement items instead of the ones you have actually ordered, or indeed no product at all. On other occasions you will get a smaller quantity than you ordered. Today we are opening a store with no bread, when ordinarily our delivery would last well into Monday morning.

So indeed the term 'shortages' is used in a relative sense at present, but it would/will not take much more for it to move into the actual. The Government issuing of five thousand temporary visas is but a sticking plaster over a gaping wound; they are going to have to do better than that in order to get through this without there being major discontent.

Meanwhile............

Anyone who believes in the supremacy of our adversarial form of politics will have held their head in their hands yesterday as Sir Kier Stamer drove yet another nail into the coffin of the Labour Party by attempting to impose a controversial change to the leadership election process right at the start of their conference week...... and failing.

This will be absolute manna from heaven to the Tories who are so exposed at present that even a half competent opposition could spear them in their soft underbelly as they twist and turn in the tangle of problems they have woven for themselves. But it is not to be: instead we have idiot Stamer lighting the blue touch paper of self-destruction of his own Party by attempting to reverse the 'one member, one vote' policy of leadership election in favour of a system where parliamentary MPs have an increased say. All this is reflective of an internal war within the Party, with the right and left wings now virtually estranged to the point where a splitting is almost inevitable.

The only beneficiary of Stamer's screw-up of the last twenty four hours is the smug Angela Rayner (deputy leader) who has already made her intentions to play for the Leadership plain. She will be more than happy to have seen the dogs-ear that Stamer has made of it, despite her simultaneously being angry that media attention was drawn away from her own podium speech in which she intended to put forward a raft of economic policies for Labour to follow going forward.

But it goes without saying that the week ahead is likely to be a seminal one for both Stamer and the Party. The mood on the conference room floor is by all accounts tense and there is no guarantee - or indeed evidence - that Stamer has the political heft to take the unruly mob and pull them under his belt. It is unlikely that Rayner would fare any better: she is tainted with her own obvious ambition and no leader sitting above her would be safe from the dagger in the back which she wielded so effectively against first Jeremy Corbyn and now (if more subtly) against Stamer himself. She is (for all her pretence to be otherwise) a right-winger and will not in any sense satisfy the young left of the Party despite being the first female leader (were she to make it).

No, I'm afraid it is hard to see any future for the Labour Party in British politics other than as just another failed party ala the liberal democrats. Which means that we in effect, sit within a one party state headed by the most morally bankrupt and low grade collection of blackguards and sycophants that the history books have recorded, while simultaneously we go into the almost perfect storm of political and economic and environmental crises that we have known as a nation in our entire history. Woe is us!
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