Category Archives: Politics

“A little sound common sense often goes further with an audience of American working-men than much high-flown argument”

Let’s see what G. K. Chesterton has to say about Boris Johnson and the rest of our clownish government.

I read yesterday a sentence which should be written in letters of gold and adamant; it is the very motto of the new philosophy of Empire. […] It occurred in an article on the American Presidential Election. This is the sentence, and every one should read it carefully, and roll it on the tongue, till all the honey be tasted.

“A little sound common sense often goes further with an audience of American working-men than much high-flown argument. A speaker who, as he brought forward his points, hammered nails into a board, won hundreds of votes for his side at the last Presidential Election.”

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We’re getting bored of all the corruption

Today I read — a little behind the curve — that Richard Sharp, who the Tory government recently appointed as BBC chairman — has donated £416,189 to the Tory party since the turn of the millennium. Hence, of course, his appointment to this prestigous and influential role.

The thing is, I’m not remotely surprised any more. I can hardly even summon the energy to be outraged. I’ve got so used to the constant parade of flagrantly corrupt appointments that they seem … normal. Continue reading

“Lockdowns don’t work!”

“Lockdowns don’t work!”

Sorry, reality disagrees. This graph shows Covid-19 infection rates from the Government’s data as of today. I have superimposed pink boxes showing the 2nd lockdown (5th November–2nd December) and 3rd lockdown (4th January, ongoing.

This isn’t complicated.

Turns out that Brexit means Brexit. Who knew?

As the final, definitive break the the European Union approaches — the transition period that has shielded us from most of the implications of Brexit ends in 16 days — we’re starting to see headlines like “Furious British expats blast EU’s new post-Brexit travel rules which will ban them from spending more than three months at a time at their holiday home from January” in the Daily Mail.

As with so many of the unpleasant surprises that await us after 31st December, it’s really important to remember three things:

  1. This is not a punishment for Brexit.
  2. It’s not even a consequence of Brexit.
  3. It is Brexit.

What the UK is doing is leaving the European Union to become a third country that operates under the same rules as other third countries instead of as a member country.

This is, in other words, exactly what people voted for — or, at least what they say they voted for.

Turns out that Brexit means Brexit.

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Won’t somebody PLEASE think of the statues?!

The fundamental problem of politics

The fundamental problem of politics is this:

The skills you need to get elected to government are completely different from the skills you need to govern effectively.

So we elect people who have one set of skills (perform well in front of a camera, exude easy charm, come up with attractive sound-bites); then when they form a government we find they lack the other set of skills (clear thought, compassion, respect for experts, assiduous attention to detail).

All our problems follow from this.

What now?

There is actually something curiously liberating about having been crushed so utterly in the General Election. I don’t know who first said “It’s not the despair that kills you, it’s the hope”, but it’s very true. The UK I now live in bears so little resemblance to the country I thought I lived in, and that I loved, that I find myself now emotionally numb to the pain it’s going to put itself through — I have finally attained the ability to think of it as Somebody Else’s Problem.

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C. S. Lewis on the 2019 general election

From our old friend C. S. Lewis:

If we are going to be destroyed by a far-right government, let that government when it comes find us doing sensible and human things — praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts — not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about politics. They might break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds.

That’s got to be my strategy. Fury, denial, despair — none of these will help. Simply getting on with life just might.

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How to vote in the forthcoming election

I was at a friend’s house last night, as she said she was surprised I’d not written anything about the forthcoming General Election. When she pointed it out, I was surprised, too — but, really, the whole thing is so utterly wretched that it’s difficult to summon up any enthusiasm for.

But of course it does matter, and more than any election in my lifetime. That’s because, while normally no parliament can bind its successor, Johnson’s Tories will make a permanent break with our biggest and closest trading partner — a break that will be impossible for a subsequent parliament to mend, because it’s dependent on a third party.

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My MP seems to be running ELIZA code from the 1960s

You may remember that eleven days ago I wrote to my MP, Mark Harper:

Whatever your feelings may be about just “getting Brexit done”, you must know that this is no way to do it. I beg you at least to vote to provide Parliament with proper time to analyse the deal documents, to scrutinise an OBR report on the economic implications, and to debate them properly both in the House and in select committees.

Today, in response, I get a letter explaining that what people in the Forest of Dean want is to “get Brexit done”.

But whether that is true or not(*), it bears no relation to the actual subject of my letter, which was about giving a complex bill proper scrutiny. I even explicitly stated that whether or not we want to “get Brexit done” did not bear on my point.

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