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Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

EU life in the Sun

September 14, 2017 7 comments

I’m tickled by the Sun’s exposè of M Drunker’s rallying call yesterday, particularly his ideas on tax and Shengen – two real beauties! Read more…

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Plebiscites are the problem

August 20, 2017 17 comments

I know one of our cherished colleagues currently resting in NW America would have us use referenda to run the country – like a township in God’s own country. Democracy at its purest.

Unfortunately last year’s vote on Britain’s EU membership has caused psephologists (and normal folk too) to question their real value. I mean, why not have another go if you don’t like result of the first? One particular guru who was one of our Dave’s teachers has written about it:

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/aug/19/british-voters-second-referendum-on-brexit

His justification is that the voters may have seen the error of their ways! Yeah, right! (Which being translated is ‘now agree with him’.) In fact that’s precisely the problem with the whole idea of asking people to vote on issues. They will change their minds and change them back again (etc. ad nauseam) – which ain’t no way to run a railroad. That’s why we have a Parliament, to even out the bumps in the road to decision-making. Or to try another analogy: videos provide more evidence than snapshots.

I’m afraid I can hardly credit the principle that if you don’t like an answer, you can always ask the question again!

Back to the future

August 11, 2017 5 comments

I have an awful feeling of dèja vu when I scan the headlines today. The so-called Cuban missile crisis in 1962 was similar, but in several key respects different.

First of all, the context was the Cold War, when fear and suspicion were the background to every international event. 2017 has been relatively calm diplomatically. Second, the protagonists were schooled in the politics of the time: fear and suspicion! Third, the media and even, one suspects, the leaders of the USA and the USSR were dependent on relatively primitive intelligence-gathering. Nothing was certain.

Lastly, the current leaders might both be classified as mentally defective. Both rely on a supreme sense of superiority and power, neither, it seems, relying on the support of their people.

I can only hope a peaceful solution can be found this time, as it was in 1962.

 

Life ain’t easy

August 6, 2017 11 comments

Prince Philip’s dignified withdrawal from public life last week is not mirrored by his counterpart in Denmark, for whom the rôle of second fiddle has long been a bone of contention with his Queen, Margrethe.

Charles+Camilla+visit+Queen+Denmark+-sm0NZ-x0THm

Prince Henrik (whose name was modified from the French, Henri) performed his duties as consort for several decades until 15 years ago when his son, Crown Prince Frederik, became first reserve whenever the Queen was unable to turn up. Henri saw it as a slight. More recently he made it known, rather forlornly, that he should be promoted to King; and only last week he announced his burial place would not be alongside his Queen in Roskilde, the traditional resting place of Danish monarchs. He no longer participates in royal events at all. (The above meeting was in March this year.)

Perhaps, if pressed, he would point out that his predicament could never happen to a female consort – witness his son’s Tasmanian spouse: eventually to be Queen Mary (not Maria!) when Frederik accedes. All I can say is, life ain’t easy, Henri.

Vive the difference

July 17, 2017 7 comments

 

The recent cringe-worthy visit of the First Man to France demonstrated the qualities of Gallic behaviour. Larger than life, self-satisfied and fundamentally hypocritical. Excusez-moi? Did you say those adjectives describe their No. One Visitor? Oh, yes, I hadn’t noticed. By all accounts the French populace were less than impressed.

Meanwhile, back in the real world (London) his demands for a ‘better reception’ when he deigns to grace us with his ineffable presence, were met with a straightforward, ‘Well, you know the British press’. So he should not hold his presidential breathe.

Says it all really.

 

Royal caption?

July 15, 2017 8 comments

The ties have it

July 13, 2017 8 comments

As a long-time tie-sporter, I invite you to spot every ‘tell’ revealed by the two bossmen’s neckwear.

The choice: Don’s says he’s the one. A faux-regimental or wannabe academic flourish? Vlad positively conservative.

The knot: A full Windsor each – the only way for any chief.

The length: Both afraid of a half-mast solution.

The tuck: Don letting it all hang out, Vlad avoiding any stray egg and soup.

The tie talk: Reticent smile vs. Brash bravado. Says it all.

Interesting Times

July 7, 2017 10 comments

The cost of education

July 5, 2017 35 comments

Higher education in Britain has changed radically since I were a lad. Just so you know, in 1961 I went ‘up’ for four years, with the promise of free tuition and two contributions towards my annual living costs; they were a £100 ‘state scholarship’, awarded for A-level results and a £70 college scholarship, awarded after exams at the college. Total: £170 p.a., equivalent to £3,500 today. In case you’re wondering, my parents ‘kept’ me in the vacations – which amounted to more than half the year; and I did vac. jobs too. (I did not of course have a laptop/smart phone/ipad to pay for!)

Obviously today’s university students face a different future financially. On average they borrow £50,000 by the time they graduate and no doubt many, if not most, supplement their loans by working. So it is understandable that Corbyn can promise a brave new world of gubmint support for students and gain their approval. But the utopia I enjoyed will not return.

Categories: History, Politics

The spare

June 26, 2017 19 comments

One’s children cannot all have the Big Job. Since the cradle the Heir’s siblings have known they would be onlookers in history – although George VI had to step in from the bleachers when his brother succumbed to his flaws. And George was not a classic example of the more extravert, younger upstart – yet another of Fate’s ironies. Perhaps that epithet fits Margaret and Andrew better. And Harry, who clearly wishes to kick over the traces and feels frustrated by his obligations.

To misquote the NT: the royal family is in the world but not of it. But since WWII they have gradually accepted and even sought a more public rõle, to try to keep in step with other changes: the weakening class divisions, global travel, television, the internet, social media……and the cult of celebrity, with their total exposure and lack of privacy. And the Spares have naturally claimed more freedom to roam, attracted more media attention for their trouble and agonised over the ambiguity of it all.

No novelist could have invented Harry’s story. He ticks every psychological and social box and will probably continue to keep us enthralled. It’s what spares do.