A trip to Hypeland
What do you remember of the outcomes of the G7 (or was it G8) meeting of 2007? Or the G7 meeting of 2019? Or the outcomes of any of these hyped-up talking shops? The only one I have any lasting memory of was the G8 meeting of 2005, and that was because Tony Blair used it to promote action on climate change. Since then carbon dioxide emissions have rocketed. The meetings of 2007 and 2019 cannot be remembered for the prescience of our world leaders. By the point of the former meeting the financial crash was beginning to unfold and the latter had nothing to say about pandemics. It has now emerged that the UK government at least had carried out many exercises to tackle a Coronavirus pandemic, but none of those seem to have penetrated Johnson’s thinking. The only thing anybody will remember of the 2019 talkfest will be the photo of Trump surrounded by a group of unhappy looking PMs and Presidents, with Merkel apparently giving him a ticking off. Even then, I’ve probably got the year wrong. At least when Trump was around it wasn’t just a mutual admiration society.
But I am too cynical by half. Biden and Johnson are going to sign a ‘new’ Atlantic Charter, echoing that signed by Roosevelt and Churchill in 1941. Yes, Biden would like to be compared to Roosevelt, and we know who Johnson thinks he is. There’ll be nothing in this so-called charter which wasn’t already being done, it will not rise above a simple restatement of positions on security, etc., etc. and of course fighting the common anti-democratic enemy (a bit rich on Johnson’s part). I guess some people will argue that there is a value to be extracted from these symbolic gestures, but whatever that is it won’t make an iota of difference to the woman on the Clapham omnibus (unless she’s a political correspondent).
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