+Following on from yesterday’s cheery blog, it’s at times like these that we might wish we had a real Delphic Oracle (known as the Pythia, Apollo’s appointed voice). ‘While in a trance the Pythia "raved" – probably a form of ecstatic speech – and her ravings were "translated" by the priests of the temple into elegant hexameters.’ (Wikipedia) Now we have a prime ministerial scholar of classical knowledge whose trances are translated by SPADS (Special Advisors) although maybe not into elegant hexameters. I am prompted to wonder about the possibility of foreseeing the future because of the unfolding calamities of Coronavirus, climate change and Brexit. If the current slide in share values is anything to go by, the oracles of the City have already placed their bets (and hedge fund types must be having a good laugh).
+At least one priest who was booted off our very own Mount Parnassus, the egg-pated oik Sajid David may have been foiled in his own attempt to make matters worse. He has been widely quoted today saying it was his intention in the forthcoming Budget to cut income tax by 2p. No doubt he had bigger tax cuts in mind for top earners. Sorry, I meant to say ‘top wealth creators.’ I hope his successor thinks twice before adopting such an approach. We are shortly about to witness (as if we haven’t already) the deleterious impact of reduced public expenditure on our ability to cope, from flood defences to the NHS. The pandemics (in all but name) now sweeping the planet will call upon public resources as never before. When climate change science became more politically mainstream, the talk was all about mitigation, but as we have seen since Kyoto, it was all mostly just talk. Adaptation on the other hand was seen as somewhat defeatist. It was a battle between the sunny uplands of wishful thinking and the fatalist gloom of dark foreboding. But now we have no choice but to adapt to the unfolding new realities, and that calls for unprecedented levels of investment, not fiscal gimmicks and political games.
+Talking of political games, ‘peace’ is about to descend on Afghanistan as the US in their exclusive talks with the Taliban edge towards signing a deal which would allow US troops to withdraw. This is very important for Trump in an election year and of course the Taliban know it. What they also know is that as soon as circumstances allow they will resume their regime of terror, and in all likelihood Trump won’t by then giving a flying f**k. He will have yet another promise delivered! And there’ll still be time for Nobel Peace Prize nominations! (This year Trump will be up against Greta Thunberg though, and that could be awkward. But Trump possibly deserves his peace gong more than Obama did. That’s saying something).
Anyway, I’m a bit conflicted over this so-called Afghanistan peace deal. The Taliban can’t be trusted of course, and it won’t be long before women are once again treated to the same level of contempt they were twenty years ago—for example. But what of the UN? When I was a newly elected MP in 2001 I felt compelled to back a war which had the overwhelming support of the UN, so where is the UN now? Indeed, where is the supposedly democratically elected government of that benighted country in these negotiations? The fact that that government appears to be excluded from these talks shows where the real power in Afghanistan lies, and very sadly I have to confess that all the sacrifices made by our forces were for a lost cause. Some of my colleagues knew this from the beginning. Where is Phillip Larkin when you need him? ‘Your leaders fuck you up/they don’t mean to . .'