I liked democracy. Let’s bring it back.

I live in the United Kingdom, a parliamentary democracy. Let’s recap where we are right now:

  • We stand on the brink of the greatest constitutional change in living memory.
  • Leading the charge is a Prime Minister who has never won a general election.
  • In fact she has never even won a leadership election of her own party, having won by default when her opponent dropped out.
  • We are proceeding on the basis of a whitepaper that was thrown together literally overnight and than contains no meaningful analysis.
  • Debate has been squeezed into hours, compared with weeks for the much less important Maastricht treaty.
  • MPs for the devolved Scottish and Welsh assemblies have been allowed almost no time to speak (though Mark Harper took a full hour).
  • The supine opposition party has pledged, before even knowing which amendments if any are to be accepted, to vote for the bill.
  • Oh, and the policy that May is forcing through is one that she does not believe in, but has adopted from Nigel Farage –a man who has stood for Parliament seven times, and lost every time. But he gets to dictate policy.

This doesn’t feel like a democracy at all. It feels like a dictatorship, and one totally unprecendented in my lifetime.

 

Happy Accidents (2000)

I can’t remember what made me want to watch this Happy Accidents — I think I saw it mentioned in passing, in an intriguing way, in a review of something else, but I can’t now find that review on rogerebert.com, which would have been the obvious place for me to have found it. But I watched it tonight, and I am glad I did.

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Unfortunately, I can’t tell you anything about it. It would be basically impossible to write a review that didn’t contain spoilers.

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Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (2011 Movie)

A few months ago, I read John Le Carré’s classic spy novel  Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, A few days ago, I finished the lengthy process of watching the BBC’s 1979 TV mini-series based on the book. And the night before last, I watched the 2011 film adaptation.

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It’s very good.

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Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (TV Series)

I read John Le Carré’s classic spy novel Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy a few months ago, and found it difficult but brilliant. (The same can be said of most of his books).

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Back in 1979, the BBC made a highly regarded TV mini-series adapted very faithfully from the book, starring Alec “Ben Kenobi” Guinness as protagonist George Smiley. I was keen to see it, and to compare it with the book.

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A careful and objective investigation into whether Trump is literally a psychopath

With perfect timing, frequent commenter Robin Jubber has just asserted that “Whatever mental disorder Trump suffers from … it’s not psychopathy”. Is he right?

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The Washington Post conducted a dispassionate assessment of whether Trump is a fascist. It scored him 26 out of a possible 44 — a hair under 60% — and concluded “He is semi-fascist: more fascist than any successful American politician yet, and the most dangerous threat to pluralist democracy in this country in more than a century, but — thank our stars — an amateurish imitation of the real thing.”

Can we do the same thing in assessing whether he is a psychopath?

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Just to be clear: this is not a left/right, Democrat/Republican issue

A few commenters recently have expressed some surprise or dismay that I have been so very negative about the Trump regime. Sorry, folks: I never set out to write a political blog, but Trump is without question the biggest problem facing the world. I can’t ignore it.

Rally And March Held On May Day In Los Angeles

But I do want to make one thing quite clear: my fear and loathing of Trump is not a partisan issue. It’s not because he is a Republican and most Americans I know are Democrats; it’s not because he’s on the right and I lean towards the left. It’s because he is a dangerous, delusional psychopath with no understanding of how government, diplomacy or anything else works; and because is too arrogant to make up for this ignorance by consulting experts.

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I just joined the Liberal Democrats

Having lost all faith in both the Tory government and the Labour excuse for the opposition, I have officially joined the Liberal Democrats. Yes, they only have nine seats in Parliament. So be it. Whether they can turn that around or not, I would rather go down fighting on the side of the good guys than follow an opposition that has allowed its European policy to be dictated by UKIP.

Wish us luck.

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(My thanks to Andrew Hickey and Richard Flowers, who have both helped me understand how Parliament works and what the Liberal Democrats are about. And who both, incidentally, write interesting things about Doctor Who.)