+Thinking about Alistair Campbell’s recent self-promotion (which was merely to say he wished to remain expelled from the Labour Party for the sin of voting for another party - see my previous blog) one can only assume that once a director of communications, always a director of communications—Campbell just can’t stop, even if now his only product seems to be himself. This has made me wonder whether even in the sad event of his death he would promote a discussion over the epitaph he would like on his gravestone. Should it be ’Here lies a warmonger’ or ’Here lies the slayer of Corbyn’ or ’Here lies Tony’s crony?’ To narrow the field down a bit, how about ’Here lies.’
+Already questions are being asked as to what Johnson’s economic policy is. It has been suggested that his use of the word ’boosterism’ is a clue to the Prime Minister’s (aaagghh!) approach to Making Britain Great Again. This has a ring about it, in other words, Woosterism. Bertie Wooster was ‘A young English gentleman and one of the "idle rich", Bertie frequently appears alongside his valet, Jeeves, whose intelligence manages to save Bertie or one of his friends from numerous awkward situations.’ (Wikipedia). Sums it up really. But who, I wonder is Jeeves, who may turn out to be our national saviour? Somebody from the servant class, perhaps? (Full disclosure: I very much enjoyed watching Ian Carmichael and Denis Price in the BBC's 1970s(?) adaptation of P.G. Wodehouse's comic tales.)
+The other day one of the cooling towers at the decommissioned coal fired Ferrybridge power station came tumbling down in a controlled explosion. Today, only a small percentage of UK electricity is generated by coal. There’s a certain irony here for those of us who wore ‘coal not dole’ badges during the miner’s strike 35 years ago. A more recent irony could be that investment in carbon capture and storage (CCS) research will be permanently stalled. If you’re not producing so much carbon from fixed, large scale power plants, there’s hardly much incentive to pour money into CCS—even though global coal use is still rising.
I am minded to think of these things having just watched Al Gore’s follow-up to An Inconvenient Truth (2006), this time called An Inconvenient Sequel (2017). The emphasis of the sequel is on the new renewable technologies which are undoubtedly taking off big-style—despite still receiving less subsidy than fossil fuels globally. Gore appears to have made his mark in the 2015 Paris Climate Change Accords by convincing India not to wreck it, a feat achieved by him making a few judicious phone calls from his hotel suite in Paris. There’s no point seeking to diminish his personal contribution to affecting India’s stance (which nevertheless remains wedded to a path of much increased use of coal) but sadly the film misses the point that the Paris agreement permits each signatory to get on with doing whatever they feel they want to—it is an agreement without sanctions (they come later with floods, drought, heatwaves, rising sea levels, war, etc., etc.)
Gore finds hope in his despair (the latter, as you might expect brought on not least by Trump) and he finds an antidote—in the shape of the portly Republican mayor of Georgetown, Texas, a town which will shortly become 100% renewable energy supplied. So there is hope and it shines eternal but it is I fear as rare as diamonds—fossil fuel use as has risen since Paris and there’s not much sign that trajectory is about to reverse. Still, Al does a good job trying to save the world, and if he engaged his interlocutors with the discipline of Contraction and Convergence he might have a way of measuring progress apart from the anecdotal.
+ I have been forced to write again to the Guardian, this time on the nationally gripping news (given front page treatment by the paper) that Alistair Campbell has decided not to pursue his righteous cause of re-instatement as a Labour Party member. Perhaps it's for the best.
As a Remoaner, I'm probably just as frustrated with Jeremy Corbyn's rather pragmatic approach to Brexit as is Alistair Campbell. But unlike Corbyn, we do not have the formidable task of trying to heal the divisions in our society. In this regard, Labour's current suite of policies, tackling social injustice to the climate crisis may have some significance, although Alistair doesn't mention any of them as reasons for sticking with Labour. Labour's shift towards a more nuanced remain position is welcome, but won't be enhanced by the outbursts of the Campbells of this world.
+ Observant visitors to this website will have noticed that my Home page disappeared without explanation. This is because when I tried to create a 'sub' page for an art review under Perambulations, it replaced the Home page, which I then had to delete. This is all because the review was of an exhibition at Home in Manchester - the new venue which replaced the Cornerhouse. The website couldn't cope with two different pages called 'Home.' I have now decided to rename Manchester's Home 'Cornerhouse.' I preferred that name anyway. The review of David Lynch's exhibition now appears under Cornerhouse under Perambulations. I will have to recreate a new Home page.
+ I have a new article published in Lobster. This partially explains what some Labour peers get up to when they've found time on their hands. They'' have a lot more time on their hands if Jeremy gets his way.
An article in Intercept* makes for worrying reading, for those who may wish to travel to the E.U. after Brexit. As nationals of a ‘third country’ we can assume that we will face more stringent border checks, but as this article reveals we may not like the kind of checks currently under appraisal. ‘Deception Detection’ is the name of the game—basically a lie detector test– using technology which monitors, e.g. your facial movements to see if you are telling the truth. The test could be applied in your own home before you travel, using your own computer’s built-in camera, or perhaps on your mobile phone. It sounds sinister and it is. If the technology works, why limit its use to border security?
*This story was reported in the Guardian last November but somehow I missed it.
+We’re only into the first 24 hours of Johnson’s premiership, and already there’s been a power cut (here in Yorkshire). Of course I hear you say, I can’t blame Johnson for that. Maybe not. But it merely begs the question as to how long we will be asked to wait for him to accept responsibility for things going belly-up. I don’t believe he’s expressed a single word of contrition for his £multi-million cock-ups as Mayor of London. Now that he is responsible for all of us (ugh!), the ante has been somewhat upped. We’ll soon hear that it’s all Jeremy Corbyn’s fault that things aren’t working out (May tried this trick too) which rather begs the question whether Her Maj invited the right person to form a government.
Not to worry. We’re learning as we go along. We’ll soon see our Great Clown Leader meeting Trump. It must necessarily be one of Johnson’s first ports of call in the remote possibility he might wish to utterly burnish our appreciation of his historic importance. This, I would suggest might not be best served by a meeting in the boring old Oval Office but rather on a warship, as when Churchill met Roosevelt in Placentia Bay off Newfoundland in August 1941. Now of course, to celebrate our special relationship, Johnson could have a similar meeting with the added bonus of welcoming Trump on board HMS Queen Elizabeth, our new aircraft carrier, moored next to the Statue of Liberty. A fitting location, since both men were born in New York and no doubt both appreciate the symbolic importance of the Statue of Liberty as a welcome to immigrants. Then they could witness the landing of a squadron of American F35s, or at least one of them, to demonstrate both leaders’ commitment to fending off fake news attacks from wherever Putin dispatches them. Hurrah! We need to see Johnson saluting the great Commander in Chief himself! (I think Johnson too would love to be a commander in chief, wearing a uniform of one sort or another like his hero Churchill did, assuming that no-one in the Johnson loving media would question his lack of military experience). That’s one scenario. Others abound.
But what do you do with a Churchill hero worshipper, one who has finally earned his own portrait’s place on the famous No. 10 staircase? I suppose we shouldn’t dwell too long on Churchill’s many strategic failures, brought on by an abiding confidence in his own utterly flawed strategic genius. The Brexit war (let’s not forget, the most decisive issue for the UK in 70 years) has its own momentum, as indeed does physical combat, and Johnson much like Churchill is merely reliant on the failed strategic thinking of the past. This means he will try to undermine the EU’s bargaining position by an appeal to its weaker flanks—i.e. those that are fairly recent members whose culture has yet to assimilate the liberal set of values which most of us understand rightly or wrongly to have sustained some form of irreversible social progress in Europe. What does this matter to an ego the size of Johnson’s? A man who is a licensed liar? He has given the green light to all who have some petty axe to grind, but especially those who profit from others’ weakness (the dominant theme of UK politics)? I could go on, but since I’m not paid £100,000 a year for this, I’ve decided to take a rest. I’d just like you to know that more power cuts may be on the way.
+I have been brought up to speed on my old friend and colleague Gordon Prentice’s run-in with Conrad Black, also known as Lord Black of Crossharbour, a Tory nominee to our legislature gifted by William (I’m ever so witty) Hague. It seems that Black’s lawyers have picked up comments by Gordon that Black is a ‘convicted fraudster.’ It gets complicated when one finds that one D. Trump gave Black a presidential pardon. It would seem that in the U.S. system that’s a get out of jail free card, but does not exonerate you from the original conviction. Gordon it has be said always had a penchant for calling a turd a turd, and on this occasion he has flushed Black as he should be to the rear of a u-bend. It all rather begs the question as to whether being pardoned by Trump is not in itself a conviction, a declaration of your guilt. Silly. Of course it is. Gordon’s refutation of Black’s position is rather bolstered by the presidential pardon, reproduced on Gordon’s webpage. If Black wasn’t convicted (and received a 42 month jail sentence and a $125,000 fine) what was he being pardoned for?
One way of dealing with the Johnson problem is to just stop paying attention to the news, or to filter the news in such a way that one’s disdain for the clown is simply re-affirmed. At last I have found something of current usefulness in the Guardian, which appears as shocked and horrified as I am that the English Madness has metastasized so egregiously in government. God, it was bad enough before—the incapacity of Theresa May that is. She dressed up her woeful political incapacity in a cloak of spurious passion, or what most called obduracy; now it seems a new tack is to be tried, which is Johnson saying in so many words this is a man’s job. Man up! The last time we left Europe big style it was called Dunkirk, and let’s never forget we snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. Brexit is Johnson’s Dunkirk, and his script continues with America coming to our rescue again, this time without GIs but with chlorinated chicken.
I wonder if Johnson has instructed his new Cabinet ministers that all holidays are cancelled over the summer recess. If that were the case, it might tell us how serious he is about getting on with his mission to Make Britain Great Again (MBGA—trying pronouncing that and you will hear a kind of choking sound). Given the short period there is left between now and the 31st October, he has no choice. I shall await this signal with interest.
+The Met Office forecast for tonight shows a map with what looks like a full, near bursting condom hanging over much of Mighty England. This yellow sac of pure yuk merits a weather warning, as follows: ‘it could lead to difficult driving conditions and some road closures; where flooding or lightning strikes occur, there is a chance of delays and some cancellations to train and bus services; there is a chance that power cuts could occur and other services to some homes and businesses could be lost; there is a small chance that homes and businesses could be flooded, or damaged by lightning strikes, hail or sudden gusts of wind.’ Come on guys, are you just trying to scare us? Haven’t we seen thunderstorms before? Or is this something new, like a consequence of climate change? This latest heatwave may or may not be down to climate change, but it is ominous that each year in this century so far we are witnessing global heating records tumbling. Optimists will see capitalistic opportunities for adaptation—but personally I think we now face a period of runaway climate change and it will easily overwhelm our ‘just in time’ (faster profits) economic model. Food supplies will be the first casualty of this calamity, and as areas which were relied upon to steadily supply crops are decimated by drought, nothing will be brought up to speed fast enough to replace them. I am quite sure that on this subject, outside of GMO circles, there is very little thinking going on about how to cope, about how to be sustainable in new, testing conditions. We’re still worrying about how the food will be shipped through Dover post Brexit, rather then whether it will be shipped at all. Maybe I’m fearmongering, and the powers that be tucking into their pate foie gras at the Carlton Club will laugh up their sleeves at such nonsense. Nevertheless, since the supermarket shelves can be unstocked in a moment’s panic and you may be unfamiliar with living off the land, the best advice has to be: never mind the thunderstorms, get stocked up now. See the condom and taste the future. Toilet paper and baked beans, get ‘em whilst you can. And gin and tonic of course.
+I thoroughly recommend reading W. Stephen Gilbert’s take on the BBC’s Panorama hatchet job on Labour’s so-called anti-semitism ‘crisis.’ Read it here.
+Whilst looking into something else, I came across a website called ‘The Conservative Woman’ which is raising money to combat the ‘left wing’ bias of the BBC. It is probably a matter of some back-slapping in the BBC’s senior ranks that it can be accused of bias by both left and right, which for them will be sufficient proof of their objectivity and naturally allows them to dismiss any charge of bias in any particular programme. Here’s what The Conservative Woman says: ‘Thus, the fact that the modern state of Israel was carved out of a desert scrubland under circumstances of continued persecution counts for nothing. Israel’s economy, currently valued at around $350billion, is larger than those of all its immediate neighbours combined – and that alone is enough to class Israel as ‘oppressor’ rather than ‘oppressed’. Indeed, it is for this very reason that BBC reporting on the Middle Eastern conflict is almost always biased towards the Palestinian version of events. The BBC, as a socialist enterprise, has bought wholesale into the Marxist worldview, enthusiastically embracing initiatives such as quotas for Black and Ethnic Minority programme makers and actors, and endlessly pushing a ‘woke’ agenda on its audience.’ So that explains why the BBC is so pro-Jeremy Corbyn! The Conservative Woman would ordinarily be up in arms about Boris Johnson’s pledge to reverse the abolition of free TV licences for most over-75s, except I imagine that most Conservative Women would be set to lose out. Johnson knows his audience, who are probably unfamiliar with the phrase ‘socialism for the rich.’
Looks like the Silly Season has started a day early then. The season is normally meant to start when Parliament rises for the summer recess, but today we have Johnson on the steps of No.10. It would now appear that he has a good six weeks at least to do what he wants without parliamentary scrutiny. Great timing, thank you Tories. His speech outside the famous door, like many of his predecessors set out a vision of his idea of One Nation Conservatism (truncate that to One Nationism) and I feel fairly certain like Theresa May’s similar appeal three years ago his will be just piss and wind. I was rather hoping he would rise to the occasion as the great Churchillian scholar that he is and deliver a truly memorable Churchillian speech, but his words were pedestrian and uninspiring (‘doomsters’ and ‘gloomsters’ doesn’t quite cut it—he sounds like a schoolboy worried that the tuck shop is about to run out). His promises, of which recruiting 20,000 more police officers was given star billing, ring hollow when you consider who it was that drastically cut police officer numbers in the days of austerity. As regards the biggest issue of the day—climate change, not Brexit—he could only muster a mention of battery technology buried in the depths of his rant. Hardly an acknowledgement that he ‘gets it.’ Anyway, he has rattled off a shopping list which suggests that he thinks he’ll be around long enough to deliver it. Since the immediate prospect of the ‘National Unity’ government scenario seems to have wilted in the summer heat, it looks like Johnson will have a little window of opportunity to demonstrate his worth. It could be a Silly Season to remember, so Season’s Greetings!
Let’s not forget that another bouncy, smiling full-of-optimism leader has been elected—this being Jo Swinson of the LibDems. She, as a fully paid-up minister in the heartless, feckless and reckless coalition Tory government now wants us to believe that all she ever did was the good stuff (like what?) and her only apology seems to be that she and her colleagues couldn’t do enough to stop the Tories wrecking British society. Obviously they were clueless. They could have pulled out of the coalition and left the Tories in a minority regime where their policies may have been more effectively challenged. Swinson is as two-faced as they come. Now she’s saying she wouldn’t work with Jeremy Corbyn. I’m not sure she would ever be offered such an invitation.
We’re in the soup. Main ingredient: laughing stock.
So our new Prime Minister has been chosen, by a group of people no greater than the population of Worcester. We’ll either get the coup I referred to in my last post, or we will have to suffer the buffoon through the rest of the summer and into the autumn. I don’t know which is worse. The longer Johnson stays, I suspect the longer he’ll want to stay, as did Gordon Brown. Better to have two or three years of useless premiership than risk defeat after only a few months. But he could do one or two useful things. He said he would hold a review into HS2. It’s time to stop the ballooning white elephant HS2 and redirect the investment into rail in the north. But actually I can’t think of anything else he may be useful for. His knowledge of climate change seems sketchy. His approach to social justice non-existent. But why might we expect anything else? Perhaps our greatest worry should be that he will be Trump’s useful idiot in Downing Street. Having said which, we’re still stuck with Brexit, and clueless Boris is unlikely to make any headway on a new deal on that front. His incompetence will lead us into a no-deal Brexit on 31st October.
I briefly caught a bit of the BBC's PM programme last night, just as Evan Davis was interviewing a pundit about next week's political possibilities. I fear Evan may have blown the gaffe on a scenario which the rest of the media doesn't seem to have paid much attention to. It goes like this: Johnson is elected Tory leader on Monday; on Tuesday Labour moves a motion of no-confidence in the government, which succeeds with the support of a sufficient number of Tory dissidents. Johnson - or Parliament - then has 14 days to suggest another name to the Queen who they think can command a majority in the House. Such a person, by definition has to be a centrist. Hence, as Evan rather feverishly kept suggesting yesterday, Yvette Cooper is packed orf to the Palace to kiss the Royal Mitts, to then go and form a government of National Unity. To aid this process, the Labour peers are planning their own contribution by suggesting they will hold their own motion of no-confidence on Tuesday - in Jeremy Corbyn. And, just as helpfully, the E.U. Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen has said she would support a further extension of Article 50. All coming together nicely isn't it? So we'll find out in the next few days just precisely how we're set to 'take back control.' And by Friday, as an added bonus, with the new government of National Unity in place, we'll find that Labour's crisis with anti-Semitism has evaporated just as rapidly as it was concocted in the first place.