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Lefdmae Deemalr Effaeldm
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 15, 2022 12:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

peter wrote:
You won't often find me in the same room as Boris Johnson on anything, but in the case of food production I think we are both singing from the same hymn sheet.
...
it makes absolute sense to prioritize both food and energy production - to become as near self sufficient in both areas as is possible. Lovely as the rewilding idea is, it must take second place to the absolute need to feed the population. This is a clear area of Government responsibility and Johnson does right to understand this and act accordingly.


Count me 3rd on this one, and well done on being selective with agreement-disagreement, and admitting a good point from someone you usually oppose, many people are too inclined to see political figures in pure hero/monster, though it's usually more mixed (but not always).

And a bit more on this specifically. Journalist Vitaliy Portnikov (one of those with a relatively good understanding of the situation, up to the point that he expected Russia to escalate the war long before it actually happened) said it was very likely for Putin to try to further use food shortages as a lever. Which can mean lots of extra trouble in this regard. And I've already seen more recently a video report with incendiary shells in the fields https://en.lb.ua/news/2022/06/11/16105_russia_fires_incendiary_shells.html
So a very good idea to look into multiple ways of mitigating the damage, and prepare as much as possible.
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 15, 2022 6:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

(just seen your post Lefdy; will return to it post this one!)

Well clearly the Spanish police don't think so Av. The so called 'Operation Jenner' has apparently identified a criminal conspiracy which to date has drawn in upwards of 2000 participants. Information is out there for those who care to look, though is oddly "underreported in most European mainstream media" (as quoted on the European Conservative website).

The subject of the safety or otherwise of the vaccines we allowed to be injected into ourselves seems itself to be an oddly taboo subject for discussion (as do numerous other areas of the pandemic response). I suppose that it is simply too unthinkable that unsafe products might have been indicted into the arms of billions of people the world over. What Government or mainstream institution is going to start that discussion? But as the old chestnut has it, the truth (one way or the other) will out. It's not something that would be able to be denied, were it the case, for too long. The statistical data set would be simply too large for evidence not to be clearly visible.

On a related note, and in respect of how certain trains of thought are being discouraged (is that the right word?), consider the recent decision of Bath and Northeast Somerset Council to peremptorily cancel the long booked Better Way Conference scheduled to be held in their assembly rooms, on the basis that it could "bring their name and reputation into disrepute".

The Better Way Conference was (in their own words) "about an evidence based approach to medical decision making, sovereignty and empowerment and reimagining the future of healthcare". The conference was to include many notable workers from the fields of medicine and biology, recognised professionals who for one reason or another, have been unhappy with the way that the approach to the pandemic was conducted and how any alternative ideas or suggestions were silenced.

Now let's be clear. These were not quack scientists out on the fringe of pseudo-science: these were high level professionals (like Professor Sunetra Gupta of the Department of Theoretical Epidemiology at Oxford University) who were gathering together to exchange ideas and debate on what had been done over the course of the last two years. That their ideas do not fit with the mainstream narrative that has been pushed (and followed) that lockdown and mass vaccination were the only way in which the pandemic could have been addressed, is neither here nor there. The significant point is that this is not how science operates. Science does not - and never has - progressed by shutting down dissenting voices. On the contrary, it thrives by the very nature of the challenge it faces; it is at the very core of the scientific method that all scientific statements must be falsifiable. Now this doesn't stop with the idea that it must just be possible to falsify the statement (in the way that say the statement 'gravity acts toward the centre of the earth' can be tested by observation) - it also means that ear must be given to whatever statements are made. It is not acceptable to exclude any possibility on grounds other than scientific - and this requires that they are given air to be expressed. Dodgy science will only be exposed as such if given the freedom to expose itself to scrutiny. If it is suppressed by cancellation culture, by closing off its avenues of expression, then it will fester and develop, like an abscess gathering below the surface.

If the course we followed in the pandemic was the correct one, then it has nothing to fear from being challenged. The decision of B&NES Council did nothing to help us go forward in this debate - on the contrary, it ran a serious risk of actually adding fuel to the fire of growing scepticism about how we dealt with the challenge.
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 15, 2022 7:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

(In response to Lefdmae's post above)

I've been deliberately avoiding posting on the Ukrainian war of late - it seemed to be causing...... excitement.....in some of the respondents that was unbecoming both in respect of who I knew them to be and indeed to myself.

But yes, the policy of using a form of 'food terrorism' to prosecute the war aims by Russia can never be seen as anything other than completely reprehensible. Millions of people in the third world (particularly, but not exclusively) will be effected by this and like Lefdmae I can see huge problems ahead as a result.

All the more reason why this conflict should be brought to a conclusion as rapidly as possible by any reasonable means possible (and that must surely include diplomatic solutions alongside conventional military strategies) and to the satisfaction of all parties concerned. I am aware of how unpalatable the establishment of any kind of dialogue with the Russian aggressor must be to the Ukrainian people, but at some point some 'realpolitic' must be accepted. Casualty figures are mounting and the ramifications of the conflict are becoming more widespread by the day.

Ukraine is a sovereign nation and must always remain so while the body of the population support this. But if some degree of territorial autonomy in the Donbas could at least put a lid on this situation while a more generally agreeable solution is sought, then surely this is a compromise worth attempting if it will bring a temporary cessation to active hostilities and a deferment of the problems of food production and supply? Every life lost in this war is a tragedy; every day lost in the seeking of a solution is a day in which this mountain of tragedy grows larger.
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 16, 2022 7:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Boris Johnson's independent advisor on ministerial interests yesterday threw in the towel after a bruising encounter with a cross-party group of MPs in which his opinions on the Prime Minister he served were questioned.

Lord Geidt had previously crossed swords with Johnson over the PM's failure to disclose that he (the PM) had made soliciting representations to potential donors for money to pay for the Downing Street redecorations during his (Geidt's) investigation into the matter. As the PM's appointed ethics advisor he could have at least expected a degree of honesty from his boss - honesty that was not forthcoming - during an investigation that Johnson had instigated himself.

Now, cornered on the business of partygate, Geidt was forced to concede that it was reasonable to think that Johnson may have broken the ministerial code by having been fined for attending an illegal gathering in Number 10. This, due to a requirement for an overarching commitment to uphold the law in any crown minister, was in effect a resigning offence. After a days reflection on his position Geidt decided to take the final step - a step he had described to the said cross-party committee as "one of the few tools in a special advisor's box" to send a message into the public domain - and resign.

And he is not the first. Since assuming the role of Prime Minister both of the individuals who have been put in the position of advising Johnson upon ethics have quit. The first, Sir Alex Allen, lasted sixteen months, but handed in his notice when Johnson failed to act on his report finding Home Secretary Priti Patel guilty of bullying staff members in her office. Now Geidt has also resigned, it begins to look as though the job of advising Boris Johnson on ethics is, like the job of being now deceased astronomer Patrick Moore's tailor, one that simply cannot be done.

This will raise the partygate issue once again into the public spotlight, and can only serve to increase the belief of the 148 MPs who voted against Johnson in the recent vote of confidence that they did the right thing. It won't bring Johnson down, but it will be yet another burden heaved onto the bowing back of his donkey-like leadership. He's not out - but the clever money has to say he's on the way.

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

And talking of Priti Patel, I watched the Home Secretary in the House yesterday giving her account of the Rwandan immigrant deportation debacle, and was interested to hear her words. She attacked the opposition position that migrants fleeing from persecution in hostile countries should be given sanctuary in the UK on the back of the argument that "I keep hearing that these people are fleeing from hostile countries in which they are in danger. They are not." (She refers to the people entering UK from the migrant camps in France, who cross the Chanel with the aid of illegal smuggling operations.) "They are," she said, "coming from a country where they are perfectly safe and in no danger at all - France."

Okay Priti, then riddle me this? On what basis do we expedite the arrival of Ukrainian refugees from the warzone in Eastern Europe, when they too have also gained sanctuary in third countries in which they are in no danger, but these refugees coming from France we shun. There is no 'special channel' set up for them to get rapid approval for entry into this country? Could it be that the difference is that the first group are the 'right kind' of refugees - in other words, white! Is it a case that white refugee's of Christian countries are welcome, but brown, black and Muslim ones are not? Because I'm afraid that this is suspiciously what it looks like.
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....and the glory of the world becomes less than it was....
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 16, 2022 6:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just wanted to flip back a post to the one I made a couple of days ago about that Better Way Conference that was cancelled by Bath and Northeast Somerset Council.

The meeting did go ahead in a different venue, and from what I can gather was organised by a UK doctor called Tess Lawrie who was a strong believer in the potential use of ivermectin as in both the treatment and prevention of Covid-19.

I have absolutely no axe to grind in respect of the repurposing of ivermectin - I have absolutely no idea whether it could be a useful adjunct in the fight against Covid or not. But this I can say without fear of contradiction. That there would be very powerful interests in the non-branded, extremely cheap to produce generic product not being found to be efficacious in the armoury of available treatments/prophylactics used in the battle. With profits of hundreds of billions of dollars on the line it would be naive to think that a conversation would not have been had, concerning a product that might render the vaccines upon which those profits depended obsolete overnight.
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When your wages are so low that they do not meet your basic needs, then debt and wage bondage inevitably follow. At this point you are effectively existing in a state of slavery.

....and the glory of the world becomes less than it was....
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'Then let it end.'

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 17, 2022 5:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

"The Government cannot help everyone," say's minister Michael Gove in reference to the news of ever rising inflation (now about fifteen percent on food costs). Well, they certainly know how to help themselves, I'd say - but let that rest.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has a similar warning, telling us that there are rocky roads ahead and the Government "has no magic wand to fix this." Well you certainly found that non-existant money tree when it was needed, both to prop up the banking system following its own criminal levels of recklessness, and to support your pandemic policies that have destroyed the country's economic prospects for the foreseeable future; perhaps if you look hard enough you'll find the magic wand as well (but your own particular slice of the demographic is not yet sufficiently effected for that to be the case now, is it.)

So basically it's business as usual and it's everyone else's fault but yours. As things get progressively worse and worse (and they will - don't kid yourself about that.... and I must be some kind of economic Oracle of Delphi because if you look back on these pages you'll find that I was saying it would happen right back at the beginning of the pandemic).......as things get worse and worse further and more eclectic reasons will be found for it, a wider range of scapegoats will be dredged up (the Bank of England today blames employers for giving their workers too much in the way of wage rises - you could have fooled me - but don't worry BofE, your turn will be next), and greater and different dead cats will be sought.

As I've pointed out above, the next villain of the piece will come in the form of the RMT rail union and their leader Mick Lynch. Never mind that without the union's contributions to our society, we would have no NHS, no welfare state and kids would still be going up chimneys, people (who themselves benefit from the working conditions and wages battled for by the unions) will spout, robot like, the message that will be fed to them via shit-sheets like the Daily Mail and Express (.....a saucer-eyed repetition of "Union bad, Boris good. Union bad, Boris good.) And so the bullshit will go on. Leaven the dough with a sprinkling of Ukraine and bake in a right-wing media for the next - say - decade and Bob's your uncle. Yes. That should do it.

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

It will come as no surprise that the Johnson team have decided that it would be a waste of time to appoint a replacement to Lord Geidt, Boris Johnson's recently departed ethics advisor - on the grounds that he hasn't got any. To people who still seem to be shocked at what our Prime Minister is capable of, to what depths he will sink in order to preserve himself or promote his own interests, I can only ask, "what rabbit hole have you been living in for the last half decade." There was never the slightest doubt about what kind of Prime Minister Johnson would make. Gove warned us back before Theresa May was elected when he drove his first knife into Johnson's back (first, you ask? Don't worry - there will be another one.....it just hasn't happened yet). Years of dissembling and chicanery lie behind the man, both in his private and public life, and anyone who associates with him pays the price for it sooner or later. He casts people aside because he is bored with them (private life) or because he sacrifices them to save his own skin (public). Those who he does not destroy by throwing them under a bus, go down by simple association. All the meaningless apologies and promises to do better in future will never make the slightest difference. Like the scorpion that stings the frog carrying him across the river (thus bringing about his own downfall) he can't help it - it's in his nature.
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....and the glory of the world becomes less than it was....
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 18, 2022 6:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Amid all the furore about the Rwanda flight not being allowed to take off, and that such a flight is proposed in the first place, it is worth considering how many people were actually going to be on that flight anyway.

Seven.

The answer is seven. The British Government were prepared to charter a plane at the cost of three hundred thousand pounds of tax payers money, to send seven illegal Chanel crossing immigrants to Rwanda.

If that does not tell you that this Government is more into symbolic gestures than practical solutions then nothing else will. This flight was never intended to take off; it was merely a vehicle via which to get an injunction (read interference) from the European Court, which could in turn (on the back of the cod-outrage of the headlines in the Mail and Express, then spouted by the sheep-like readers of the same) be used to attack our membership of institutions like the European Convention on Human Rights.

This latter was the crowning achievement of Winston Churchill following the defeat of Nazi Germany, and was specifically designed such as to prevent the future emergence of a similar nightmare along the same lines. It is telling in itself that only two countries have ever seen fit to distance themselves from this Convention, Greece briefly and Russia. Now the likes of Dominic Raab, Priti Patel and their commander in chief, Boris Johnson seem also to think it is superfluous to requirements. To any observer of the current trends in our polity this can only be seen as a concerning development. Question: How much do we trust these people, if freed from the legally binding constraints of the Convention, not to range far and wide with their transgressions - a little infringement of police impartiality here, a few refugees shipped to Rwanda there, a bit of union busting legislation passed under the counter in the House - with there hands unbound. Answer: not as far as you can throw an elephant by the tail.

Because this was Churchill's great realization; that what the world had just witnessed in Nazi Germany, could happen anywhere. And that includes here just as much as anywhere else in Europe (or the world for that matter). And that is why it's important. As Marie Black noted, fascism doesn't come marching up the stairs in jackboots - it comes in thin slices like salami, often unawares and unintended by the facilitators of its way. This is its nature.

And always it comes with waves of patriotism and nationalistic fervour. With avenues of flags and cheering crowds in their thousands. Which is perhaps why a few of us - just a small few - found the recent scenes in the Mall just a tad too reminiscent of earlier scenes from somewhere else to be entirely comfortable with. We've seen such scenes before. We've heard the bland rhetoric from politicians like Raab and Patel in other places - and the end result has never been good.

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

So Boris Johnson made one of his secret trips to Ukraine yesterday. No doubt they were very pleased to see him (he's much more popular over there than he is here - but then they don't have to live with him). While there he made some promises about supplying training to Ukrainian troops (beware of Johnson's promises guys - they have a habit of not materialising), claiming that we could have 10,000 soldiers in the field every 120 days. Well, that sounds okay doesn't it - but I'm minded to ask why we should presume that we can train Ukrainian troops any better than they can be trained by their own countrymen? They have, after all, been prosecuting this war in the Donbas for what, eight years now; surely they must understand their enemy, the conditions of the struggle better than we who have observed from a distance?

But that is by-the-by. President Zelensky seemed pleased to see him and will no doubt receive his offer with gracious magnanimity, even if the material value is not quite as impressive as the Johnsonian sound bite might suggest.

Less pleased by his visit - or rather absence - however, were the hundreds of delegates to a red-wall conference of Conservative Party MPs and councillors in Doncaster, at which the PM had been scheduled to appear. Told at the last minute that Johnson would not be coming, they were naturally disappointed. Given no explanation, they had intended to discuss the levelling up agenda (and failure of the Johnson promises on that particular policy to materialize) in what had promised to be something of a sticky encounter for the PM.

It would be churlish to suggest that he deliberately reneged on his appointment with these worthies by finding an alternative 'pressing appointment' that needed to be kept - that he was deliberately avoiding meeting these people - but no doubt he saw the need to suddenly visit Ukraine at short notice was not entirely without its upside. Ah well - it's an ill wind that blows no-one any good, as the old adage has it. And Doncaster's loss was Zelensky's gain......errr...... possibly.
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When your wages are so low that they do not meet your basic needs, then debt and wage bondage inevitably follow. At this point you are effectively existing in a state of slavery.

....and the glory of the world becomes less than it was....
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'Of course - you know you have.'
'Then let it end.'

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 18, 2022 2:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Slightly more elegant that hiding in a fridge, but still pretty obvious.
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 19, 2022 7:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Laughing Indeed Murrin!


Andrew Marr has definitely come out of his shell since leaving the BBC and joining the ranks of LBC. Over the past few weeks his criticisms of "this lot" - his pet name for the Johnson Government - have become more acidic, more cutting, more exposing of their palpable chicanery and moral turpitude. Gone is the old Sunday morning Marr, failing to ask the penetrating questions that would really hold minister's feet to the fire. Gone is the 'balance', the BBC's need to present itself as an impartial host (and the deeply unhealthy relationship that had developed with our political classes - particularly the Conservative Party - that has developed therein. Suddenly Marr seems to want to come out fighting, to demonstrate that he was actually 'in there' all the time - he just couldn't show it.

Take the last couple of posts that have appeared on YouTube. One in which he spoke of the similarities between what the Government was doing re the transportation of refugees to Rwanda and what Liz Truss was doing re the Northern Ireland Protocol, and a second in which he concentrated more on the Rwandan topic itself.

In the first he described how in both the Rwanda and NI Protocol situations, the Government was i) dealing with situations that had no solution as such (pretending that there didn't need to be some kind of border in the Irish situation wouldn't make it go away), ii) were alienating in both cases the very people upon whom the dialogue needed to be established in order to make progress (Paris in the case of the refugees, to establish an intergovernmental approach, and the EU in the case of the NI Protocol, by - well - reneging on our international commitments.) It made no sense, he said....... unless of course it was designed to keep you distracted from say, something else that they'd rather you weren't looking at.

In the second he considered the plan to outsource our refugee problem to Rwanda and listed the few remaining people who would (had the plane taken off) have been shipped out. They included toture victims (2), people who have relatives already living in the UK (2), individuals who had wives and children (2), a man fleeing arrest and execution for refusing to join Assad's forces in Syria, a man with PTSD - without exception, individuals who had very good reason to put as much distance between themselves and the brutal regimes of their homelands as possible - and the Government new this. But he told us, the EU would be painted as the interfering busybodies, transgressing on our sovereignty in media coverage specifically designed to whip up fervour and introduce division. "They call it 'wedge politics'", he told us. Driving a wedge between the two sides of an argument and creating a smokescreen around the actuality of what you are doing. "I can think of another name for it", he said.

All I can say is welcome on board Andrew. It's taken its time, but better late than never. Perhaps we have wished that you would have used your high profile platform earlier in the day to expose just how egregiously bad this administration is, but let's give you the benefit of the doubt and concede that your hands were no doubt tied by your program editors.

And just a quickie - you had to love the clip shown by Novara Media in which the prospective conservative candidate in the forthcoming Wakefield by-election used Dr Harold Shipman - a former resident of the notorious Wakefield Prison - to justify why voters should return him as their MP.

Clearly schooled that all answers must contain a reference to the constituency they are standing in, when the interviewer asked why, given the crimes for which the last Tory MP they had returned had been convicted (and which had precipitated the by-election) his answer was on point. "Well - Dr Harold Shipman was a medical doctor before he was convicted as a mass murderer, but you still go and see your GP when you have to, don't you?"

Sorry fellah - not sure that using the defence of Harold Shipman was the best of ideas in terms of convincing the Wakefield electorate to vote for you - but hey, ten out of ten for effort!

Laughing
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'Then let it end.'

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 20, 2022 7:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

(The news is all so crap at the moment, so...... almost pointless that I get an almost sinking feeling in my stomach as I prepare to post. Why do I do it - you tell me!)

So the summer is going to be one of strikes and discontent, and the Johnson administration is going to do nothing about it.

So the papers tell us today, and certainly in respect of the forthcoming rail strikes (set to begin this week I believe), they have not even had a meeting with the protagonists in order to see whether the crippling disorder they will cause can be averted. And why would they? Every little distraction that they can avail themselves of, serves the (to them) good purpose of keeping public and media attention away from their transgressions. It is government by smoke and mirrors.

Similarly in the case of the legislation being introduced in order to unilaterally change the withdrawal agreement - an action that has already precipitated the restarting of the suspended legal action taken by the EU against us - the purpose has nothing to do with the stated intention of "protection of the Good Friday Agreement". The Protocol does not need altering to protect the Good Friday Agreement - it is itself designed to protect the Good Friday Agreement. Neither does it have to do with keeping business in the province happy; a huge majority of business within the province is perfectly happy with the Northern Ireland Protocol - it allows them to export to their biggest market with minimal checks and regulations getting in the way of trade.

No. The purpose of the Government's legislation is nothing other than to keep the unhappy brexiteers of the ERG wing within the parliamentary party on-side. These formed a substantial part of the 148 who voted against Boris Johnson in the recent vote of no confidence and something has to be done to shore up his parliamentary support. In addition, the DUP are not happy with the Protocol either. Remember when Theresa May stood as PM and said to the House that no British Prime Minister would ever allow a border to be put down the Irish Sea, and received Johnson's applause for saying so before he went and did exactly that. Well this is the result coming home to roost. The right wing of the parliamentary party are not at all happy about this, the DUP are incandescent (despite Arlene Foster having accepted it at the time - an occurrence I could never understand.... perhaps Johnson was using his notorious charm to its fullest effect and whispering sweet nothings into her ear under the moonlight?). So Johnson in typical form, will sacrifice peace in Northern Ireland, sacrifice our relationship with the EU, sacrifice our international reputation for no greater purpose than to save his own worthless hide. And at the same time make use of the nifty little distraction that it will provide. Probably the most efficient thing this Government has done to date, getting a dual purpose from a shit piece of legislation like that.

And take Rwanda. They know that the process of shipping our refugee problem out to that country will never get off the ground, but it makes good press, gets them the vote of the hard right Tory membership (which is pretty much all of them) and provides a useful scapegoat in the form of 'lefty lawyers' that can be blamed in the right wing press for scuppering the progress. And it's a damn fine distraction from parties and all that.

Brexit going tits up? Your fault - you voted for it. Not really a true brexit at all. 'Brino' - brexit in name only. Scuppered by remainers encouraging the EU to fight for the best deal they could when negotiating the withdrawal agreement. The failure of the project is nothing to do with us - its the pesky remainers wot dun it. (Lord Frost now tells us that the deal he negotiated, the deal he sold us as 'oven ready' is in fact shit, and we didn't understand that the EU would actually have the temerity to hold us to what we had signed for. You couldn't make it up!)

Oh and the war. You'd better be prepared to be in it for the long haul says Johnson, while some ex-general or somebody says that we need to be prepared for UK troops to be taking on the Russian army themselves before this is done (and this piece of wisdom provided in the Sun newspaper of all oracular pinnacles). Well - at least that takes care of the future then, seeing as there won't be one.

And President Biden falls off his push-bike. What he wants is some stabilisers - those little wheels that you bolt on to the sides of the back wheel. I mean what the fuck? I mean he's eighty years old and the President of the United States fer Christ's sake! What the fuck is he doing riding around on a push-bike? Didn't those two security service goons running along on either side of him think to stop him from ploughing face first into the tarmac? I bet Kamala Harris felt the odds on her shoot up by ten points as she slept. As they say, it's an ill wind.......

Me, I'm off to the Close. I'm done with all of this talking about people and events. Time I'm thinking, to start scattering my jewels of wisdom around the world of ideas. Now there's a thought to make you shudder over your breakfast...... "Look away Margery, Oh look away!"

Wink
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When your wages are so low that they do not meet your basic needs, then debt and wage bondage inevitably follow. At this point you are effectively existing in a state of slavery.

....and the glory of the world becomes less than it was....
'Have we not served you well'
'Of course - you know you have.'
'Then let it end.'

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 21, 2022 6:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Let's be honest. At what point do you sign an international treaty in the belief that the co-signatories will not be sticking to the conditions laid out in that treaty? Especially if the co-signatories are the EU and you have just negotiated to become the first country in its history to leave it?

The idea that Boris Johnson and Lord Frost ever believed that the EU would 'go easy' on us, would simply wave goods through into the Northern Ireland/EU trading zone, without carrying out the checks to establish regulatory alignment with the single market/customs union conditions that the agreement demands for, is for the birds. They knew absolutely that they were simply storing up the fight for another day when they went to the public for the 2019 general election, waving their negotiated withdrawal deal as bait to capture people's votes. There was never any question that the issue would raise its ugly head when the protocol actually had to begin operating, which of course it has, even though it is still in a form of transitional operation and hasn't really started to bite fully as yet.

And so we have the Government proposal as to how to deal with the issue n the form of the recently outlined legislation that has so put the cat amongst the pigeons.

There are three basic problems that the paper outlines: that the checks are being applied to stringently, that the dispute process involves reliance on European law and involvement of the European Court of Justice which the Government sees as an infringement of our sovereignty, and thirdly that it's undermining the Good Friday Agreement.

Now the inclusion of the last point is interesting. The Northern Ireland Protocol is designed so as to protect the Good Friday Agreement, while still maintaining the integrity of the single market and customs union, by virtue of ensuring that there is no border on the island of Ireland. But the presence of any kind of border within the UK is like a red rag to a bull in the eyes of the Unionist party of NI and the right wing of the Tory Party in Great Britain, who see such a border as just the beginning of a process that would inevitably lead to the reunification return of Northern Ireland with its southern counterpart. But from the point of the nationalist community and the large majority of the business community of Northern Ireland (who are more interested in maintaining their ability to trade freely with the South and the EU) the border down the Irish Sea is neither here nor there.

But the reason why this issue is included in the Government list of complaints goes beyond this. The Northern Ireland Protocol contains within it a clause - article 16 - that says that if the protocol is found to be causing significant societal problems (amongst other things) it can be unilaterally suspended. It is this defence - and that the execution of the protocol conditions is causing an undermining of a previously drawn up agreement (ie the Good Friday Agreement) - that the UK will use in any subsequent legal challenge from the EU. This, according to the UK Government, brings its actions in unilaterally changing the terms of the Northern Ireland Protocol within the terms of international law - and as such it was important to explicitly cite the risk to the Good Friday Agreement in their list of complaints about the protocol as it currently operates.

The Bill put forward in the House ten or so days ago, suggests four changes to the protocol in order to 'improve' its operation. Firstly the establishment of red and green lanes through the various check points for goods travelling from mainland Britain into Northern Ireland and a trusted trader scheme whereby goods vouched not to be traveling on to the Republic will be able to pass through unchecked. Second, the establishment of a dual regulatory system whereby goods designated only for the province will not be bound by the regulatory standards that apply to goods travelling on to the EU. (Currently, all goods entering the Province must meet the standards required by the EU, since it can not be guaranteed that they, once inside the province, will not find their way across into the EU proper.)

Thirdly, that the UK will take back control of the areas of state aid and VAT levels within the province (which currently have to submit to EU conditions). This is so that goods entering NI cannot be given unfair advantage over EU goods, via excessive state subsidy in their production or by being subject to lower VAT.

Fourthly it is proposed that the ECJ involvement in dispute arbitration be removed and replaced with a system of dual-representational panels ala the Swiss system.

While it's early days yet to see how all of this is going to pan out, early signs are that the EU is not happy at all. There might be something of a possibility on the first suggestion - that of the red-lane, green-lane trusted trader scheme, but on the rest it's an absolute not happening! Condition two is seen as deeply undermining to the single market integrity and three as giving the UK an unfair trading advantage that it would not, once in place, hesitate to exploit. In respect of condition four, the EU simply will not countenance that dispute resolution upon a system that involves European law should not have involvement of the ECJ. (I think it is on this point alone that their case is weakest: I fully get the arguments apropos diverging regulatory standards and state aid/VAT, but it does seem to me that if alternative dispute resolution mechanisms can be found for other countries then one can also be found for the UK, but this is just my opinion.)

But the long and the short of it is that this is set to get a whole lot worse before it gets better. Anybody who was fooled into thinking that Johnson had actually got 'brexit done' was living in cloud cuckoo land. Done - it's not even started! And here's my prediction; as the recession (that will happen)bites, as our economic situation gets worse and worse, as the need to trade with our nearest and biggest trading neighbors becomes more and more pressing, then quietly and with minimal shouting about it from the right wing media (who were partners in leading us to this debacle that we now face), we will slip back into the single market and customs union (which suddenly everybody and his mother thinks that we should not have ever left, brexit notwithstanding).

It'll happen. I'll put a tenner on it.
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When your wages are so low that they do not meet your basic needs, then debt and wage bondage inevitably follow. At this point you are effectively existing in a state of slavery.

....and the glory of the world becomes less than it was....
'Have we not served you well'
'Of course - you know you have.'
'Then let it end.'

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 22, 2022 6:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Is it just me, or is everything shit?

That particular book title seems, as I scan the morning papers and think about other not mentioned aspects of our infrastructure (in the broader sense), the most appropriate summing up I can give.

The country is in the grip of "paralysing" rail strikes - well, not really paralysing, but hey, why miss a good hyperbole when one is available, you've got to wait six months for a passport, four months for a driving test and nearly as long to see a doctor. If you do suffer the misfortune of having to go to hospital in an emergency, the likelihood is that you'll be dead in the ambulance before they even get you in through the hospital doors. If you want to go abroad just for a bit of a break from it all, don't bother. Chances are that you'll languish in a ten hour queue in the airport before your flight is cancelled and you are told to fuck off home.

In the shops and supermarkets half the shelves sit empty, food and goods lie rotting in the distribution centers because delivery personnel cannot be found, yet ten percent of our youth sit at home doing neither work nor training. Food shortages could reappear on the agenda for the first time in three quarters of a century and fuel prices are rising to the extent that warmth itself may soon become a luxury reserved for only the high earners of our society. But money that cannot be found for subsidising warmth will rapidly appear when needed to put the next questionable vaccine shot into our arms.

The banks lend us imaginary money to buy our houses, created for the purpose by that rabbit-in-the-hat trick of quantitative easing, then charge us real money - money that we've had to work our bollocks off to earn - in order to get it back (legerdemain if ever there was such a trick). Now they will put up the interest rates, squeezing tens of thousands out of their homes and businesses, and repossessing those same homes that we have worked for. It's a trick. A racket. The same 'jubilee' of debt cancellation will not be afforded to us as it was to them when they got themselves into the shit because of their own hubris and greed back in 2008.

And housing? Buy to let, as it is called, has pushed up the value of housing stock such that only the lucky few can even get their foot onto the housing ladder, and those that are a bit more fortunate can amass property portfolios that can give them a fistful of houses while others have none. "It's for my pension," is how they justify it. So let's get this clear. The poorest people, the lowest earners pay out forty percent of their incomes in rent in order to pay for the pensions of the wealthiest (or at least wealthier) members of our society? This sounds about right doesn't it. Very fair!

Our disposable income shrinks to shit as we speak, as the true consequences of the man-made pandemic starts to bite. Every time you look the pension age moves further away into the distance ("What pension?" you cry: it's about to go up to ten thousand pounds per year for the basic rate - whoopee!) Because we all supposedly live longer it is decided that a few more years of working in shit jobs can be squeezed out of us, ignoring the fact that you don't actually stay young and fit, you simply continue in a state of decrepit incapacity for a longer period of time. But don't worry about that; the ongoing erosion of the NHS will soon reverse that particular trend.

If you pick up a phone to try to contact any of the services you buy to keep your life on track - utilities, TV and broadband, telephone etc, you sit gnashing your teeth listening to ambience music designed for the terminal of 'Flostom-9', but which in fact has you ready to tear your phone from the wall and hurl it through the window. When you do get through half an hour of button pressing just to get to the option you want, you find it doesn't exist and you are simply cut off without a by-your-leave or any offer to actually speak to anyone human - near zombie though they would undoubtedly be even if you did.

Inflation is shooting upwards as if the sky were the limit - it is, living standards and future prospects are falling like a heavy rock cast into a turbid scum-surfaced lake, and people's growling aggression simmers at all times, barely covered, just below the surface. (Yesterday, as we passed in a narrow lane, a man shouted at me through the open window of my car from his own vehicle to "pull over to the side!" I was already scraping the bushes on my side of the road but that didn't matter; he needed to unleash.)

We have a Government that fosters division, quite deliberately, between people, that relies upon people's disinterest and failing that, their short attention spans and shallowness of understanding, to get away with acts of legerdemain and egregious dishonesty that would make the worst criminal despots of the third world stand and applaud in rapt admiration. All over our society obtuseness is rewarded, common sense eschewed (think the man recently denied the opportunity to give blood because he declined to answer the question as to whether he was pregnant or not) and irrelevance revered. For every person that actually works doing a real job, there is another one doing a job that it would not even be noticed were it to evaporate overnight, never to reappear.

Most of the people under forty in this country have never read a book, never visited a museum and could name ten reality program 'stars' for every Prime Minister that they could dredge from there iPhone addled minds. They understand nothing about the political system in which they live, take the full depth of their understanding from so limited a source of news that critical thinking is simply beyond them, and then exercise their vote on the flimsy and biased half-ideas that have been planted therein - if they even bother to drag their crisp and chocolate bloated bodies down to the polling booth in the first place, which is becoming increasingly unlikely.

War, pestilence, famine and death. It seems that the four horsemen are truly abroad and having a field-day. And so, I close the papers.

So this is the UK into which I drag myself out every day. Make no mistake, I do not count myself as better than my fellow countrymen. On the contrary, I'm one of them to the absolute hilt, neither better and probably a good deal worse (a bigoted self-opinionated ***t of the highest order). But we are what we are made to be: shit products of a shit society in an advanced state of decline. Do we make society? Does society make us? Which came first, the chicken or the egg. But surely, surely, surely it doesn't have to be this bad? We are for all of this, still the brightest stars in the sky, young as a species and only taking our first tottering steps. Surely we can do better than this?

Have a nice day.
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When your wages are so low that they do not meet your basic needs, then debt and wage bondage inevitably follow. At this point you are effectively existing in a state of slavery.

....and the glory of the world becomes less than it was....
'Have we not served you well'
'Of course - you know you have.'
'Then let it end.'

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 23, 2022 7:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Today will be the second day of strike action by the RMT rail union in support of their pay claim, and to date the Government has had not a single meeting with either the rail bosses or union leaders to see if any kind of compromise settlement can be reached.

There are a number of reasons for this - the PM said in yesterday's question time that it was not the job of the Government to get involved in specific pay disputes between parties in individual cases and perhaps he has a point. But when the disruption and inconvenience caused is of such a level as to become damaging both to people's individual lives and at a national level, then surely the Government should at least be overseeing or arbitrating in some fashion, to some degree?

But apparently not so. The Government is staying firmly out of this one, save for letting it be known that it is absolutely against the strike and thus presumably against the rail workers recieving the pay increase that the union is demanding.

But at a more distanced level the Government is intending to take some action - and that by introducing secondary legislation that will allow businesses effected by strike action to use agency staff or staff seconded in from other sources to replace the function of that of striking workers. Whether the striking workers are then simply sacked and the replacement workers taken on full-time as it were, I cannot say - but either way it represents a form of strike-breaking measure that is to date not allowed under employment law and lands a serious blow to the effectiveness of strike action going forward.

Now had we remained in the EU such secondary legislation would not have been possible, bound as we would have been by European employment law, and in this sense it is perhaps one area where brexiteers may truly say that they have 'taken back control'. Fine if you're a tory right-winger from a conservative stronghold constituency, but I'd like to ask all of those left wing leavers, all of those red-wall voters who paved the way for Johnson into Number 10 Downing Street, what they think of it now?

And of course Johnson and the Government, in their current desperate straights, have absolutely no desire to see anything that keeps media attention away from themselves and their shenanigans brought to an end. It must have been manna from heaven for them to see Arthur Skargill out on the picket line the other day - I bet the Sun newspaper would have paid him to get out there if he hadn't decided to for himself - as it gives them a perfect opportunity to make comparisons with the bad old days of the 1970's (they did - about a dozen times in the House during the PMQ's) and also to do something to bust the strikes that they couldn't have done while we were in the EU. Perfect! And the light of comparison that it throws on Johnson with Margret Thatcher will of course not be wasted either. That formidable lady's battles with the miners union and others, still brings a tear to the eyes of Conservative voters in the shires (not to mention the children of the families broken up by the actions themselves, but for different reasons/) and Johnson would be more than happy to engage in another round of union bashing if it would further enhance that comparison. That he is of a different stamp to that woman, as far removed as a cream-cake from a cow-pat, is not something that he would worry too much about, for it's all about the image. As far as Johnson in his current predicament is concerned, any comparison at all will be a good one.

(Incidentally - I was very interested to hear the last Governor of Hong Kong and ex Chairman of the Conservative Party, Chris Patten say to Andrew Marr the other day that this is not a conservative government, but rather an English Nationalist Government that we have at the moment - and he wasn't joking when he said it. Unsurprisingly Patten's words, despite his being the current Chancellor of Oxford University, did not make the mainstream news.)

So we may expect a number of such strikes as we are experiencing today to occur in the near future, both from the ongoing rail dispute and from other sectors as well (the teachers, NHS and even barristers have all threatened industrial action) all of which will provide further grist to the Johnson distraction mill.

But things might not go quite as smoothly as the PM would like, because there's a nasty little wind in the air, a sniff of flatulent vapour insinuating its way into the soft summer solstice, a noxious Northern flatus sent to him courtesy of the polls taken in respect of today's by-election in the grim and unhappy town of Wakefield. Let's see what happens.
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When your wages are so low that they do not meet your basic needs, then debt and wage bondage inevitably follow. At this point you are effectively existing in a state of slavery.

....and the glory of the world becomes less than it was....
'Have we not served you well'
'Of course - you know you have.'
'Then let it end.'

We are the Bloodguard
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 24, 2022 6:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ouch!

In a body-blow to Johnson, despite its no-doubt already being factored into Number 10 planning, voters have kicked out the incumbent MPs in both by-elections held yesterday - and yes, I did fail to spot that both were being held on the same day in my yesterday post ( Embarassed ).

Now the loss of the Wakefield seat was pretty predictable, even had the PM's partygate transgressions (and all of the other stuff he has done) not been so egregiously damaging. The seat was effectively lent to the Tories so that Johnson could get brexit done (yeah right!) by winning his large majority in the House. Ordinarily a safe Labour seat of the industrial North, the predominantly leaver community up there held their noses and voted for the leaver king, Johnson in the last election. The seat was always going to return to Labour hands when the exhilaration of brexit having been achieved (at least in its faux end-point as promoted by Johnson, with the signing of the withdrawal agreement) began to pale.

(On this latter point, I'd like to ask all the left wing brexiteers of the North, and most specifically life-long Labour MP and vocal leaver Kate Hoey (now Baroness Hoey no less) what it was they gained from leaving the EU that was worth the damage that they have inflicted upon workers rights in siding with Johnson on this issue. The race to the bottom with the introduction of the use of agency labour to break strikes and hire-and-fire tactics to reduce working conditions and avail yourself of cheap labour with minimal pay and conditions, could not have been done without the support of you left wing leavers, so that Johnson could get his hard brexit withdrawal agreement through. Now tell me what you gained by it?)

But back to the by elections, and it is in the result of the Tiverton and Honiton that will have Tory MPs reaching for their knives. In this essentially safe Conservative seat, the Tories held a majority of twenty plus thousand votes. In a brutal result that saw twenty six thousand people change their allegiance, the Tories were wiped from the board by the Lib-Dem candidate. Thus was the PM's low standing with his own electorate shown in bloody result with the slaughtering of the Tory candidate. There can be no doubt that this was the 'Johnson effect' in full force - choose how bad the previous Tory MP's transgressions (watching porn in the Commons) or the prospective candidates performance in the campaigning, it cannot have been so bad as to explain that kind of swing - and the Parliamentary Tory MPs will know it. Scores of them will be sitting in seats with way smaller majorities than was overturned last night in Tiverton and this morning their thoughts cannot but be turning towards their own jobs at the next election. If the PM can see out an MP with a safe majority in such spectacular fashion in Tiverton, they will be thinking, what chance my seat at the next election.

Now in an interesting further development, Tory Party Chairman Oliver Dowden has thrown in the towel, ostensibly in taking responsibility for the two by-election losses. Is this a tactic to draw some of the heat from Johnson and try to save his (Johnson's) skin? Certainly Dowden must take a degree of the blame - he's up there with Johnson deciding on how such campaigns are run - but only a fool would think that the responsibility for this crushing night rests with Dowden. The voters have shown their disdain for Johnson in completely unambiguous terms. Certainly Dowden can take the fall in today's media coverage, sit it out on the back benches for a while and then be returned to the cabinet in one of the more plum jobs of the Government as payment for his loyalty and sacrifice - but that's on the assumption that Johnson survives. If he doesn't then Dowden is history: that his public support for the PM, even in the face of his most egregious of outrages, could only ever see him relegated to the back benches of the party for years to come, were Johnson to fall, is a no-brainer.

But again, is all as it seems here? Dowden's letter of resignation is explicit in it's shouldering of responsibility for the by-election losses, and he says under such circumstances he cannot justifiably remain as Chairman of the Party...... but is this all there is to it? Dowden has had to shoulder a pretty miserable job in coming out to defend the indefensible with Johnson at the helm, and mayhap he's just fed up with it. Now, with the PM's pernicious effect on Tory MP candidacy chances in a forthcoming general election clearly obvious, perhaps he has simply decided that enough is enough. In his letter he says that "we cannot carry on as though with 'business as usual'. Someone must take responsibility and I have concluded that, in these circumstances, it would not be right for me to remain in office."

Look carefully at these words and you will realise that there is more in what Dowden isn't saying than in what he is. He is not actually saying that he himself is responsible - he knows that he isn't. Here is saying that someone has to take responsibility - is he implying that the PM will not take the responsibility that he should (and resign) therefore he will instead. In other words is this letter in reality a poisoned pen affair sending all kinds of subliminal messages to his (now) back bench colleagues.

One thing to note; he makes absolutely clear that he is acting alone in writing his letter. Now is he in reality saying that he is not in collusion with the PM to get him of the hook here (when in fact he really is) for the purposes of public consumption......or is he making it clear to back benchers that this is not the case and that he now believes, along with the 148, that Johnson has to go. Impossible for us to say from the outside, but be in no illusion that Tory backbench MPs will understand exactly what it is that he is saying.

Anyway, today is going to be a rough ride for the PM and anything could feasibly happen right up to his cabinet forcing him out. They absolutely will not want him leading them into a general election in this state of public disdain, and if there is going to be a leadership election then "if t'is to be done, t'wer best done quickly." I'll be watching the news closely today to see which way that the wind is blowing.

(Edit; One clue in answering the conundrum of the meaning of Dowden's letter is in the ambiguity of the statement pertaining to the taking of responsibility. If Dowden and Johnson had cooked the resignation up to take heat of the PM, then the phrasing of the taking of responsibility would not have been ambiguous. He would surely have said something like, "as Conservative Party Chairman the responsibility for the running of by election campaigns falls to me, and I take full responsibility for the results of last night's two losses. Thus I am today submitting my resignation......", blah, blah, blah. That the statement was instead an ambiguous reference to responsibility (neither taking nor eschewing blame) and the suggestion that business as usual could not just be carried on, must, in conjunction with the later point about the letter being entirely submitted off his own bat, be taken as indicative that Dowden is saying that Johnson has to go. If the backbench Tory MPs read it like this, then all hell will break loose today.)
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When your wages are so low that they do not meet your basic needs, then debt and wage bondage inevitably follow. At this point you are effectively existing in a state of slavery.

....and the glory of the world becomes less than it was....
'Have we not served you well'
'Of course - you know you have.'
'Then let it end.'

We are the Bloodguard
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 25, 2022 5:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting reaction to Oliver Dowden's resignation letter yesterday. Initially it was presented as his taking the blame for the losses in Wakefield and Tiverton, but salted with a little recognition of the ambiguity of it. Beth Rigby was the exception to this who in her first broadcast at around 8am simply said that he had accepted the blame. It is unusual for her to be so imperceptive of a political 'under-meaning', bur in fairness, she was half way around the world in Rwanda with Johnson (at a Commonwealth heads of state meeting) and it is also not impossible that her editorial team had instructed her to put the best light on it (for Johnson, that is). This is a Murdoch owned Chanel at the end of the day - and he is always thick as thieves with any given leadership.

But by this morning, the truth of the Dowden letter seems to have sunk in and most papers have accepted that he was actually sending out a critical message against Johnson to the backbench Tory MPs. Significantly, at the end of his letter he states his loyalty to the party, but does not include the PM in his words. Enough said.

But on the bigger picture the fallout from the by-election results has been pretty wretched for Johnson. Two Tory grandees, both ex leaders, the Lord's Haig and Howard have said that his time is up and that he should go, and this morning's papers report a revived plot to oust him by getting people onto the 1922 committee who will change the one vote of confidence per year rule. Everyone but Johnson himself seems to realise the game is up,but one of his allies this morning says that he will have to be dragged by his fingernails from office. Meanwhile, a whisper has it that Dowden has jumped ship in order to spearhead a Sunak campaign for the leadership (the two are apparently close friends), when the time comes.

On the response from the members of Johnson's cabinet to the losses, initially there seemed to be no-one that wanted to comment. The BBC were unable to get a front bench Tory onto the early show and it was only later in the day that some rather muted support from Sunak, Patel and the rest began to filter out. It is rumoured that Johnson has ideas for a reshuffle before the summer recess and has about a dozen names of individuals whose support has been less than optimal in mind for the chop. The front benchers and cabinet ministers are now considering if their names are on the list and if they suspect that they are, whether it would be better to jump before they are pushed. A couple of big name departures and Johnson is toast.......but who would replace him? Andrew Marr said yesterday that there was no sign of anyone in the front ranks actually having the "stones" to go for it. Johnson, he said, remains the only 'big beast' in the cabinet, and dominates the table, dwarfing those around him. Power was in essence about having the drive, the confidence to take on the holder and wrench it from their dying hands. Only those with this ambition would ever get it, hold it, he said, and there was no indication that any of the other cabinet members (unlike say, Heseltine in the Thatcher era) had the mettle to do this. If they had, it would have been done already.

So for the moment it looks like Johnson limps on. This is good news for the Labour Party who do not need to see an invigorated party under new leadership heading into the next election. Johnson is the best electoral asset they have as things stand and though they won convincingly in Wakefield, it wasn't so convincingly that you could say they are a shoo-in for the next election. On their performance there, they might win a majority, but it would be a small one, and already the Tories are throwing out ideas about the risk of getting a Union breaking coalition if you vote Labour in the next election. This will be their big anti-Labour message in the weeks and months ahead.

But in summary, the day was a disaster for Johnson and the Tories more broadly. This was the first time in history a party had lost two by-elections on the same day. The Tiverton swing was the biggest ever in a by-election and if the result was mirrored across the rest of the country in the next general election, the Tories would be down to around seventy seats (they currently hold 359). It would effectively be the end of the Conservative Party. And this result is down to the Johnson effect. What more can you say. A Prime Minister who has lost the support of the people, lost the support of his backbenchers and only stays in power by virtue of the backing of those with a vested interest in his survival (think members of the Government, their advisors and associated 'paid' help) is no good for either his party or for the country at large. Time for him to go.
_________________
When your wages are so low that they do not meet your basic needs, then debt and wage bondage inevitably follow. At this point you are effectively existing in a state of slavery.

....and the glory of the world becomes less than it was....
'Have we not served you well'
'Of course - you know you have.'
'Then let it end.'

We are the Bloodguard
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 26, 2022 6:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Blood and soil.

There is something stirring in the words themselves, let alone the seductive idea of a proud pure-blood people bound inextricably to the land which supports them, which produces them, from which they hail.

There is meant to be, because it is of course the emotive core at the heart of fascism, the bedrock upon which the ideology exists, speaking directly to the hearts of the people, across the boundaries of class and education, binding them to one single purpose, the elevation and furtherance of the nation state.

The word has been bandied about with little care for its true meaning of late (guilty as charged!), used to cover all manner of other things such as authoritarianism, totalitarianism, despotism..... and even straightforward nationalism to which to a degree it is related (because the latter does feature strongly in the thinking of fascists), but definitely not the same.

So when as influential and involved an individual as ex Party Chairman Lord Patten says we that our current Government is not a Conservative Government, but rather an English Nationalist Government, and repeats it twice in the same interview in order to give it weight, we had best consider exactly what it is he means.

Now you would have to be dead from the neck up not to see the fell hand of fascist ideas lurking but partially hidden behind the ideas put forward in the brexit debate. The idea of 'taking back control', of being a free nation in control of our own destiny and borders. It is no surprise that these ideas were able to stir a nation no longer seeing through the prism of the second world war, and no surprise that to this day Nigel Farage himself spends half of his time hovering around the Kent coast filming refugees coming ashore from rescue boats, having been picked up from the dingies in which they have made their made their crossing.

The ideas of nationalism have never been far from the surface of English Conservatism - the party is indeed a 'broad church', spanning the whole spectrum from rabid far-right tub-thumpers to the borderline liberal thinkers of the centre ground of British politics - but now, if Patten is to be believed, holders of such nationalistic beliefs have coalesced to the point of actually directing Government policy in a manner that is so far from the principles of one nation conservatism as to be deserving of a different name. I suppose it all started with Thatcherism, but has now morphed so far away from even that small state, free market orientation as to bear no continued relationship to it.

And at the head of the organism, the (not exactly, but close) party within a party that has 'seized control' (yes - its stretching it, but how many people are aware of these movements....) is a chancer with no political beliefs of his own whatsoever. This is absolutely the case. Johnson has no ideology of his own - he follows policies that will lead him to power with the political acumen of a bloodhound following a scent, but never once pursues power in order to enact policies that are of his own devising or central to his own beliefs. He has no such beliefs.

As always with Johnson, things go from the sublime to the ridiculous and a couple of stories of late have absolutely summed the man up to a tee.

There has been a story, grubbing around for a week or so, in which it appears that he, while foreign secretary, attempted to get his then secret lover, Carrie Symons a lucrative job in his own department, for which she had neither qualification nor experience, and in total contravention of the rules. (The story was apparently published in the Times but was pulled as either a result of a quiet word in Murdoch's ear, or by legal injunction - no-one knows which, and nothing has been seen or heard about it since.)

Now today apparently a story will break about how he tried to get a party donor to spring a hundred and fifty thousand pounds for a tree-house in the garden of his official residence Chequers, for his son Wilfred to play in.

Now on a scale of one to ten of Johnson's wrong-doings these are as nothing. But they are absolutely crucial in understanding the man who leads this fifth column Government that has insinuated its way into power in our country. He is essentially a criminal. A low-grade crook who has briefly found his way into El Dorado and is skimming it for all he is worth, while forces behind the scenes direct the path that the country is taking, hiding within the cloak of the party to which they nominally belong, but have in truth very little connection.

So this is where we are in this country. An English Nationalist Government in power, hiding under a cloak of Conservative Party camouflage and being led by a political chancer with no beliefs of his own other than that he deserves to be in power, and will do exactly as he likes, milking it for all it is worth, while he is there.

It's a far cry from where I started, I know. But I think it's very important to understand what the words we use mean. We need to understand what the warning signs are, that if we are headed in the wrong direction, simply to be able to spot them and call them out for what they are. Our Government is not fascist and I don't think that anyone in it has any kind of fascist leaning. But if it, as Patten claims, is Nationalist, then that in itself is too far down the far-right road for my liking, and I suspect, if they were ever to actually think about it, for a lot of other people as well.

(This bloody mess of a posting shows what happens when you try to tie a load of closely related, but not coherently connectable ideas together without a plan. I'm ashamed of it, but leave it up because there is some core ideas in there that bear thinking about, hopefully by minds better suited to it than mine!)
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....and the glory of the world becomes less than it was....
'Have we not served you well'
'Of course - you know you have.'
'Then let it end.'

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 27, 2022 7:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just how bad are things likely to get in the near future?

This is a question that any thinking individual resident in the UK should be asking, and attempting to think out in as calculated a manner as is possible for them.

Consider first food security. This is one of the most basic of needs for sustaining life and surely must be pretty much top of the agenda for any administration and of course for individuals themselves within the country.

It is beyond question that we are going to face shortages in the near future. From a local point of view, huge areas of fruit and vegetable cultivation have been impacted by the shortage of labour that has blighted them since brexit, and farmers who saw crops rotting in the fields through lack of harvesting capacity have simply not replanted for fear of loosing a second years crop. This will inevitably result in local shortages of specific products.

From an importation point of view, our currently sour relationship with our European neighbors are not going to encourage them to share limited food resources with us - they will be far more inclined to trade within their own block, and such food as does come our way (and we currently import what, forty percent of our food) will be of poor quality - stuff that they don't want for their own markets. Another blow to food production and sourcing will of course be the war in Ukraine. Not known for no reason as the bread basket of Europe, the crop from the region (not to mention that from Russia itself) will be severely limited, and this must perforce have a knock on effect in food production in other areas (say chicken production) as well as in respect of the staple foods in which the grain is the key ingredient.

So I think it is fairly clear that there will be both food shortage in key areas, and very high prices for such foods as are available that we produce in quantity ourselves. This does not bode well for those on low incomes who will become dependent in ever increasing numbers upon charity and food-banks in order to feed themselves. It is a striking point that there are already more food banks in the UK than there are MacDonald outlets.

Now what about a trade war?

Relations with the EU are as noted, at an all time low and the Government's pressing on today with their Northern Ireland Protocol Bill (which seeks to unilaterally change the terms of the protocol in respect of checks at the borders, setting of vat and state aid levels and removal of the ECJ from dispute resolution) in the Commons will certainly not help.

But the instigation of a trade war (which can be achieved at a mere weeks notice by the limitation of access to EU waters) is a serious thing. It almost goes without saying that we would be the biggest loser in such a war - we are far more dependent on trade with the EU than they are on trade with us - but the effects upon them would not be negligible nevertheless. In addition to the very clear economic consequences of such a trade war, there are the political effects that it would have at this very crucial time in terms of maintaining unity in the face of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Already the European coalition of unity against this act of international aggression is starting to fray, and a UK-EU trade war could only make things worse.

And this week things are set to get even more complicated. The lifting of tariffs on steel imports that have been protecting our steel industry is set to go ahead, but Johnson has said that he is considering extending the protectionist measure despite such an extension being against international law. Anxious to prop up his support in the red-wall constituencies of the North (who are already pretty pissed, administratively in terms of his failure to meet his leveling up commitments, and individually because of the soaring cost of living) he is considering a policy that will further distance us from the EU and serve to tighten the tension in our relationship yet further. The EU are not prone as a body to knee-jerk reaction, but over time these actions of our Government, protocol and tariff wise, will provoke a reaction that can only add further downward pressure on an economy already on it's knees. The return of Britain to its role as 'the sick man of Europe' is yet another manifestation of our return to the seventies, to set alongside our summer of discontent that now looks almost inevitable. (It is a salutary reminder of what we have done in exiting the EU, that despite the pandemic, EU wages are now sixteen percent higher in real terms than they were in 2016 where ours are four percent lower.)

So food shortages, economic gloom, long-term inflation of high levels and industrial unrest. It would have to be thought that even the Tories most ardent supporter would perhaps want to rethink his assessment of the results of twelve years of continuous conservative government. But at least the PM is upbeat. He considers that he is good - not for just another term in office but another two! Even some of his inner cabinet have apparently whispered that they think he might be delusional, but to a man they lack the stones to stand up and challenge him.

Against this backdrop it would seem that, even trying to be as level headed and rational as possible about it, things do not look good. Do I have any advice? Not much to be honest. Keep as debt free as possible. Any unavoidable expenditure that you have looming up in the near future, get it done and behind you before inflation really starts to bite. The German government's advice to its people that it is prudent to keep a month's worth of storable food in your cupboard doesn't seem quite so swivel eyed any more, not until we actually get the measure of just what these food shortages are going to mean. And most of all I'd say, learn how to take pleasure in small things, everyday stuff that when push comes to shove, are really much more important to our quality of life than the big stuff, like travelling the world or buying a Lamborghini. Take each day as it comes. It'll all come right in the end.
_________________
When your wages are so low that they do not meet your basic needs, then debt and wage bondage inevitably follow. At this point you are effectively existing in a state of slavery.

....and the glory of the world becomes less than it was....
'Have we not served you well'
'Of course - you know you have.'
'Then let it end.'

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 28, 2022 6:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Like James O'Brien (who I'm not a massive fan of, but still do share a lot of views with) I am somewhat chilled by this slow-burn story of what the Government is doing in respect of advocating the closure of what they term as "low value" university courses.

Sheffield Hallam University has become the latest in a list of academic institutions to respond to this initiative, with the announcement of the closure of its English Literature course, study of which will henceforth be integrated within the broader English degree.

The courses to date which have been axed are exclusively in the area of the humanities - courses that apparently don't lead to high skill, high pay jobs. These are the courses which tend more toward the development of critical thinking skills, of artistic and creative activities - activities that by there very nature are more concerned with increasing our understanding of ourselves and our societies, of observation of how the world is working and our places within it. They do not indeed, lead individuals in any particular direction, but rather (not unlike the Unfettered of the Chrons) give people the critical thinking skills and then turn them going to do what they will with them. Why then would our Government be so down on them?

Well, their answer is that such courses do not provide value for money. Not enough graduates in these subjects go on to get highly paid jobs in high skill areas to justify their continuation. But O'Brian, like me, can see a darker motivation in this movement. Because in the courses that are being effected are found the more nebulous skill developments of imagination and empathy, of abilities to put oneself in the position of others. To visualise what it might be like to be on the picket line because you can no longer both pay your mortgage and feed and clothe your family, to perceive the conditions that might drive you into taking the crazy risk of climbing into a dinghy with a man who you don't know from Adam, and crossing one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world. And if you are Priti Patel, or Liz Truss, or Dominic Raab, you can see why the development of such empathetic skills across the populace would not be something you would necessarily want. Because the last thing that you need is for the people to start empathising with that man on the picket line, that woman in the boat.

There have been other, let's be polite and call them administrations in history that have had cause to eschew the humanities, to engage in the burning of books, and the results have never been good. It's all about spotting the signs people. It's all about spotting the signs.

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

A person earning minimum wage in this country will take home about fifteen grand a year for a forty hour week. This will just about pay for your rent and food and cover the bills if you live like a hermit in not much more than a bedsit. You won't be going on holidays or doing much more than existing. To try to live any kind of life over and above this would plunge you into debt, from whose coils you would be lucky ever to escape. But this is the existence of millions and millions of people in this country. They get by, by falling back on food-banks, by accepting the help of their parents now and again, by slithering in and out of debt, a credit card change here, a consolidation of debt there, and they survive.

I don't see any mention of these people in the news reports relating to pay demands both ongoing and forthcoming in the 'summer of discontent'. The talk is all of barristers and teachers, of doctors wanting thirty percent. Of public sector workers, already on pay and conditions that these aforementioned millions could only dream about. All of the people who seem to need more in this upcoming demand for money to meet the rising costs of living, seem to be those who are already well above the level of those minimum wage earners that I refer to. You won't here about these millions because they are the invisible ones. The ones who serve in our shops, who wait at our tables, who clean up after us in our offices and banks. These are the ones who have no union to fight their case, who are divided in a way that ensures that they will never, can never, come together to fight for even enough to survive on, choose how hard things become. And let's not forget; these were the ones who, during the pandemic, were suddenly found to be 'key workers'. In other words, the nuts and bolts that hold our society together, that make it function on every workaday day. The invisible ones that you don't have to think about.

Pray God you don't have to see the day that someone has the nous to fuse this disparate band together, to unleash the untapped force for societal change that they represent. That will be the day that the very ground itself will quake under your feet.

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

NATO is to massively increase its numbers of troops on standby (nearly eightfold) to 300,000 and the leader of the UK armed forces tells us that "this is our 1937 moment". We have, he says, to be ready to take the fight to Russia in the field. Russia hits a shopping centre in Ukraine and causes justified outrage in the worlds press (but I think, admits that it might have done so by mistake, not that this justifies anything - it shouldn't be chucking missiles about in the country in the first place).

There are calls to increase defence spending and warnings that we cannot begin to field even the level of forces that we could during the cold war (let alone close to that which we could have in WW2).

Prime Minister Church.... sorry Johnson tries to rally European unity against the diabolical Russian threat (sometimes the price of freedom has to be paid for with billions of your own hard earned tax dollars you know) and the perfidious french go weak at the knees and start talking about giving up territory for a negotiated settlement.

Well, it's not exactly the same, but I think I agree - it does have a slightly 1937 type of feel about it, and we all know where that went. But I've got an idea. If we all have to get ready for another European conflagration, this time let's just have one proviso. Let both sides field forces that contain no-one under the age of sixty-five. This way at least, the flower of European youth will not be crushed under the wheels of those armaments that the generals are calling for, and the losses will be limited to those who have already experienced their own lives and have least to loose. (A side benefit would be the simultaneous reduction of the pension burden as well.) And the old men who go to fight - well you get tired of hating as you get older; you don't have the time or energy for it anymore. We'd be just as happy to sit down and have a cup of tea on the battlefield with each other as to pick up a gun and start firing. Sounds crazy? Maybe not so much. If I recall correctly, the age of combatants in the battle of Hastings was ridiculously high by modern standards for pretty much the same reasons. Men didn't want to die in bed, slobbering into a cup. They wanted to go out with a bang, rather than a whimper. I can get that.
_________________
When your wages are so low that they do not meet your basic needs, then debt and wage bondage inevitably follow. At this point you are effectively existing in a state of slavery.

....and the glory of the world becomes less than it was....
'Have we not served you well'
'Of course - you know you have.'
'Then let it end.'

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 29, 2022 5:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A couple of months ago, serving in the shop I had a sudden spate of people - mostly in their late teens/twenties - come into the shop asking for an item (it sounded like a candy bar to me) that I had never heard of.

I never gave it much thought, but then, a week or two later, it appeared on the shelf in front me (right by my till as it happens, in prime visibility of the customers as they come to be served). It wasn't, it turned out, a chocolate bar, but rather a disposable electronic cigarette, available in a range of alluring flavours (ice melon, cotton candy, blueberry-pomegranite, etc) in eye-catching colored packs.

They flew of the shelf - I mean flew. Some shifts I would move a dozen or fifteen, often selling two or three different products to a single customer. Most purchasers were people in their late teens, early twenties and all were age checked as the law demands.

After a while, I started asking them, as a matter of interest, if they had, prior to buying this vaping product, actually been smokers and a significant number, probably a third or more, said that they hadn't, but just "liked the product" (by which they must mean the taste).

Now there is clearly something wrong here. These vaping products are meant to be adjuncts to aid in stopping smoking - not to be the route by which people start. In addition to this, smoking advertising is illegal, but in some way this product had managed to circumvent the legislation - probably via the medium of social media I'd guess - to achieve a take-up rate that is rarely if ever matched by conventional advertising.

This story is depressing enough in itself, but during my last shift, the following occurred. A man came into the shop and, spotting the product at the till, asked me if I sold many. I replied in the affirmative and he said that he wasn't surprised - he had found and subsequently confiscated them from his fourteen year old son on two occasions in the past few weeks. Thus is a glamorous looking and sweet tasting product, being bought by age legal young people, and circulated to under-age kids, who are thereby introduced into a nicotine habit via the very product type that is supposed to be helping older people to break such a habit.

This (not exactly) loophole in the law has, as per usual, been taken by unscrupulous designers/manufacturers and converted into a product that trades upon our liking for sweet taste, our vulnerability to eye-catching design, to create a product that flys in the face of the drive of society to rid itself of the harm of smoking, and actively introduces them at an age where they are particularly partial to anything sweet and bright, onto the first step of the smoking ladder - a ladder that leads ultimately to the miseries of cancer and early death.

I haven't decided what to do about this yet. I'm toying with placing my observations about the situation in the hands of my MP, or refering my concerns through my boss, to the company I work for. Either could have consequences for my employment, but hey, I'm at the end of my working life (pretty much) anyway so that is not so much of a deal. Or maybe I am taking the whole situation too seriously. Perhaps I should just 'butt-out' and leave people to make their own minds up about how they live, about the choices they make. If a kid is going to start smoking, I guess they are going to do so whether via the vaping route or otherwise. Who am I to be making these calls for other people; I've got decisions enough to be making for myself.
_________________
When your wages are so low that they do not meet your basic needs, then debt and wage bondage inevitably follow. At this point you are effectively existing in a state of slavery.

....and the glory of the world becomes less than it was....
'Have we not served you well'
'Of course - you know you have.'
'Then let it end.'

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 29, 2022 7:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've been wrestling with the question as to whether nationalism is a good or bad thing of late, and realise that it's a very difficult circle to square.

It's absolutely natural to feel an affinity with the land of your birth, with the people who you have grown up surrounded by and as long as it remains within acceptable limits then I guess it's okay.

But the problem is that it doesn't. There is too easy an incline to slip down, that leads almost imperceptibly into xenophobia, as the aforesaid affinity elides into resistance to any change - change often being an absolute necessity if any community or society is not going to stagnate into a relic of 'what was' in a world that must, also by necessity, move forward. Someone once said that patriotism is where you love your country, nationalism is where you hate every other one. I'm not sure that this is entirely fair - but I do see where it is coming from.

But is it so wrong to love your country, to feel most comfortable when surrounded by people who you have grown up with, who you understand and who's ways are essentially the same as yours (give or take).

Certainly as you get older it becomes harder to accommodate to change, to take it on board and to not feel threatened by it. That's I'm thinking, why most of the nationalistic feeling in a country will reside in its older inhabitants (but of course not exclusively so).

But suddenly in times of war, things become different. At this point it becomes almost a duty of the incumbent administration to foster feelings of nationalism within the population in order to gird them up for the challenge ahead. We are seeing this in Ukraine at the moment (though I think that nationalism, it would be fair to say, has, due to their history, been a strong movement in the country for a good number of years) and rightly so. This is nationalism called to the service of the country in its hour of need and who could gainsay it. But under normal circumstances, surely, feelings of nationalism should be viewed with at least some degree of caution, lest they run out of control and become extreme.

I saw an Eastern bloc composer on the political program Hard Talk the other day who was entirely comfortable with the inherently nationalistic element of art. It was in the nature of art, he told us, to reflect what it saw about itself and only right and proper that the feelings of closeness of people to their brethren and country should also be reflected in this. Thus is the power of folk music and art, myth and legend, to stir a people. It is what you see in visible form at the Last Night at the Proms, in the stirring sounds of the hymn Jerusalem, in the Land of Hope and Glory being belted out by the bobbing attendees of the event. I defy any Englishman to watch this and not be stirred. It is in our blood.

But with such stirrings must come two absolute understandings; that equal respect for all other nations must go hand in hand with this feeling. Because the people of those nations will have their own Last Night at the Proms' too. And secondly that change will come. And more, that it will be allowed to do so. That the nationalism that you might experience these emotional stirrings toward, will not be the same as the nationalism that will move your children. That you do not have the right to make these decisions for them, about how they will think and feel about their own nation.

These are the rules by which you must govern these feelings and that they must always, always, always come with the understanding that the greatest nationalism of all, the greatest responsibility that you have, the deepest feelings of connection you experience, must be your connection with your greatest family of all - the family of your human brothers and sisters.
_________________
When your wages are so low that they do not meet your basic needs, then debt and wage bondage inevitably follow. At this point you are effectively existing in a state of slavery.

....and the glory of the world becomes less than it was....
'Have we not served you well'
'Of course - you know you have.'
'Then let it end.'

We are the Bloodguard
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