+Putin’s government has a lot to answer for, and hopefully sooner rather than later justice will take its course. But in the meantime the tragedy continues. The latest twist is the sabotage to the Russian Nordstream gas pipelines to Europe. Immediately the question is raised: Are the Russians to blame? Almost immediately the answer comes back: They must be. The West has it nailed. Of course, it could have been Greenpeace, or maybe even Jeremy Corbyn—except he’s now a bit redundant in his role as a Commie-loving bounder (except in Keir Starmer' s mind). As always the best question to ask is Cui Bono? Surely not the Russians—at some point they’ll want to get those pipelines working at full tilt to get the income flowing again. I suspect the question ’who benefits’ might be answered with: the Ukrainians. Russian gas is still transited through Ukraine (business goes on despite the war) and they won’t want to lose the revenues it generates. Here’s an article published in Politico yesterday:
‘A war of words between gas companies in Ukraine and Russia is threatening gas transit to the EU. Ukraine's Naftogaz and Russia's Gazprom are at loggerheads over payments for gas shipments through pipelines across Ukraine — a trade that has continued despite the war between the two countries. But that deal is starting to fray.’
Ukraine therefore has a motive to neutralise other routes. It’s very hard to see what motive Russia would have for sabotaging its own infrastructure, which of course just happens to bypass Ukraine altogether. But it must be the Russians, right? I realise that by writing this I have just broken the unspoken rule that one cannot suggest that Ukraine is capable of doing anything wrong whatsoever.
+In North Korea, every failure is a success in the hands of the regime’s newsreaders (for those who actually have TV sets). The same is true here. Everything is under control following Kwasi Kwarteng’s car-crash budget. Here’s what the Treasury had to say (on PoliticsHome):
"Global financial markets have seen significant volatility in recent days. The Bank has identified a risk from recent dysfunction in gilt markets, so the Bank will temporarily carry out purchases of long-dated UK government bonds from today (28 September) in order to restore orderly market conditions. These purchases will be strictly time limited, and completed in the next two weeks. To enable the Bank to conduct this financial stability intervention, this operation has been fully indemnified by HM Treasury. “
Where’s the blame lie? Global financial markets (whose bankers will get bigger bonuses after this one). In a calm and measured analysis, the Bank of England has identified a little hiccup and will make an adjustment here and there over a day or two to set things right, all very neutral sounding isn’t it? Oh, and at the end of the day everything will be alright because HM Treasury will indemnify the purchase of its own debt. Never mind that it was its own debt that caused the problem in the first place. Go back to sleep, it’s all under control.
Our general economic position was quickly summed up by this in the New York Times this morning:
“The sense of crisis ramped up yesterday when the Bank of England warned of “material risk to U.K. financial stability” from the government’s plan and said it would start buying British government bonds “on whatever scale is necessary” to stem a sell-off in British debt. For some experts, the pound’s journey indicates a decline in economic and political influence that accelerated when Britain voted to leave the E.U. in 2016. In many respects, Britain already has the worst performing economy, aside from Russia, in the 38-member O.E.C.D.
Analysis: “It’s just a question of time before it falls out of the top 10 economies in the world,” said Ian Goldin, professor of globalization and development at the University of Oxford. Britain currently ranks sixth, having been surpassed by India.” (emphasis added)
So you see, what’s happening now is merely evidence of the Remainer Conspiracy!
+I got an email today, allegedly written by George Monbiot, asking me to ‘support the Guardian.’ The language seems somewhat ‘corporate marketing.’ Anyway, I banged off this reply:
I see from the email address that this reply is intended for is labelled 'no reply.' Typical Guardian! Anyway, should this one get through I just wanted to say that after the Guardian's vile campaign against Jeremy Corbyn I cancelled my subscription, so your entreaty to 'support' the Guardian now has fallen on deaf ears. I believe a Corbyn government would have done a great deal more to tackle the climate and environmental crisis than any of the players today. I realise you have to make a living but sending this appeal out must feel rather debasing for you. I hope you do not get too much abuse!
I suppose we all learn how to live with our compromises, but to allow oneself to be used by a corporate marketing machine must be pretty demeaning.
+I have read Keir Starmer’s speech to the Labour Party conference—a less painful experience than listening to him deliver it. There are some good parts, but given Starmer’s record of making disingenuous promises, we must all hold our breath. Things have to be spelt out in detail and signed in blood.
+Answering questions about his car-crash budget, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Kwasi Kwarteng emphasised the point that he is innumerate. He told journalists we’ve only ‘been in for 19 days.’ Actually, it’s 12 years (not including leap years and the actual election date in 2010) which adds up to 4,380 days. That’s 4,380 days the Tories have had to put us on the track to nirvana that is now nearly within our grasp. It is a mystery how they get away with the idea that they are the party of economic competence. They do have the bulk of the media on their side of course. That helps.
+Oh how fast the sands of time shift the political landscape! In order to get elected as Labour leader Keir Starmer promised to nationalise this that and the other. But then he changed tack when it was discovered these were Corbyn policies which had not exactly been endorsed by the electorate (as opposed to the party membership). So he ditched them. Now we hear Labour wants to renationalise rail and energy. It seems the policies were popular after all, so Sir Keir has changed his mind (or so it seems, there’s an awful lot of caveats to be had here). Either you call it pragmatism, flip-flopping—or more probably opportunism. Since it’s likely to be the latter, it needs a leap of faith to imagine anything will come of it.
+The UK is suffering some of the worst energy price inflation in the developed world. That is clearly impacting our overall inflation rate, which is worse than our biggest comparators, as the chart (below) from the FT illustrates (dated 20/9/22). What, we might ask, is the government doing about it? We occasionally hear that the energy market is broken. We’re told that the market is driven by the price of gas, so even though we never imported more than 4% of our gas from Russia, we’re stuck in the same market as those who bought a lot more. At the same time wind power costs nine times less than gas, and solar power has also seen dramatic falls in price. Then there are those, the nuclear lobbyists who tell us how consistent their source of energy is—a source of energy which as far as I know has nothing to do with the availability of gas. And then, and then, there is that other significant source of energy, the so-called carbon neutral supply of wood pellets which earns so much profit for e.g. Drax power station, which is responsible for 6% of UK electricity supply and claims on its website to be the UK’s ‘largest renewable power station’ (the claim is bollocks but that’s another story). So why, with all these sources, not to mention what’s left of gas in the North Sea, is the UK seemingly so vulnerable to energy price rises? Simple: it’s called the ‘hidden hand’ and like a pickpocket it is seizing its opportunity. At least Labour still wants a windfall tax on the bastards (but if something changes so will Starmer).
From your royal correspondent for the last time
+ First of all I wish to apologise to POTUS (President of the United States). In an earlier blog I suggested that his convoy would comprise 20 vehicles. But last night, whilst looking at various posts on the Microsoft news feed, I saw that some enterprising individual in Tottenham had filmed POTUS’s convoy streaming by—and I counted only 17 vehicles. I wasn’t far out. I hope they all found some decent digs in Tottenham.
+Also on the MSN news feed was a picture of Viscount Severn, one of Prince Edward’s sprogs. It seems people have been asking what he got his medals for. Well, once again they’re for just Being There. For all of his 15 years.
+All those people who queued up to pass the coffin should get a medal. They’ve put in as much effort as most of the Royal spongers. Or at least ebay shouldn’t prevent them from selling their wristbands for whatever they can get. People need the money these days.
+The Poet Laureate Simon Armitage read one of his poems on the radio this morning, commemorating the passing of the Queen. He should get a medal for its toe-curling floridity. Or perhaps it was a parody and he should be thrown into the Tower for the offence of lese majesty. Here’s what he could have written:
You wore the crown without a frown, it must have been very heavy
Perhaps making you on your feet quite unsteady but you were always ready
To add to your burden, carrying a pretty bouquet every day when you went out
You were the beloved carnation of the nation, a petal from a rose bloom
Shimmering in the mountain sky (upon high) whilst in the Glen all was silent as the stags stopped rutting now and then and so on and so on and so on seemingly interminably. . .
From your Royal Correspondent (hopefully on the penultimate occasion)
There has been a little speculation that King Charles may maintain his ‘activism’ as King. That he took an interest in the environment is not in doubt, although what difference he made definitely is. I thought I would query what steps are being taken to lessen the climate damage of the massive jamboree that will take place tomorrow. What, I asked Google will be the carbon and/or climate change cost of the state funeral of the Queen? It was one of those rare occasions when Google had no answer. It seems nobody has at least posted on the subject, never mind quantified it. Apart from the fact that some world leaders will be bussed to Westminster Abbey rather than going in their limos, there will be no attention given to the enormous carbon emissions delivered by the whole business. And the use of buses will have no origin in climate concerns, but is being done merely to get the world’s elite into the Abbey a shade faster.
Prince Charles (as then was) may have had an input into the arrangements for the funeral, which we have been repeatedly told have evolved over years. Perhaps it would be a good idea for an MP to put down a parliamentary question on the subject. Except it would be disallowed. MPs cannot ask about or comment on the Royals in the House of Commons. That’s handy. It’s all part of the unwritten UK constitution which allows the Royals carte blanche as long as they don’t themselves appear to get involved in ‘politics.’ But there’s the rub. There’s hardly a less political family in the land. Their political role is to legitimise conspicuous wealth and consumption, to be a bastion against equality, and to ensure that perhaps most importantly of all, on the environmental front nothing really changes. To truly address the environmental crisis, no-one would argue, that e.g. they had to have five or six palaces, or a fleet of CO2 emitting cars and planes at their disposal (thank god ‘Air Miles’ Andy has been grounded). As long as we keep the royals the message goes out: climate destroying wealth is OK. It will be interesting to see how many Gulf state ‘royals’ get good seats in Westminster Abbey tomorrow. At least it seems Mohammed Bin Salman of Saudi Arabia has fallen prey to his blushes and will not now be attending.
So, are we to get a ‘green king?’ There’s a very good article in Heated ( Stop calling Charles the "climate king" - by Emily Atkin (heated.world) which delves into the question. The answer is ‘no.’ Charles is about perpetuating current political compromises, in other words he is just a blue-blooded exponent of the greenwash that swills around the establishment like a bucket of Thames Water sewage. I thought it would be interesting to see how the UK’s most radical mainstream environmental party, the Greens approached the subject. The news section of their website said:
The Green Party of England and Wales has expressed sincere condolences to the entire Royal Family following the extremely sad news of the death of Queen Elizabeth II. Co-leader Adrian Ramsay said: “This is a moment of great sadness for our nation. "The Queen served this country tirelessly over her 70-year reign, bearing witness to the fall of the Berlin Wall, invention of the internet and the first man on the moon. "We send strength and compassion to the Royal family at this difficult time.”
And that’s it. We’re all stuffed.
N.B. Didn’t we all ‘bear witness’ to those things, if not necessarily in that order? Didn’t the Queen also bear witness to CO2 emissions passing the 400ppmv mark too? Doesn’t that count?
From your Royal Correspondent For Not Much Longer
Having queued up in Red Square for a while in sub-zero temperatures to file past the embalmed corpse of Lenin I can understand to a degree the mystique generated by being in close proximity to the ‘presence’ of someone who featured prominently in the human story. I can’t say it was anything Lenin did that encouraged this joining of the queue, Lenin’s Mausoleum after all had become little more than a tourist attraction for curious Westerners by 1988. And apart from feeling the cold (it was November) the visit was free. I’m not quite sure what one hoped to gain from such a visit. What psychological impulse would be satisfied? The queue today to file past the Queen’s coffin is apparently five miles long,and had to be closed off at its tail at one point. I can’t remember there ever having been such a queue at any event when the Queen was alive. So far as I know, the Queen’s visits hither and thither were well attended, but in royal terms pretty routine, with local schools giving their pupils an hour or two off classes to line the route, plastic Union Jacks in hand. What we are witnessing now is a repeat of the death of the ‘People’s Princess,’ a death funnily enough which caught the ‘Firm’ off guard, as they showed a degree of confused ambivalence from which they were only rescued by Tony Blair (and Peter Mandelson, the future King’s friend, behind the scenes). But this one’s been well planned for, with all the theatrics catered for.
In the current media frenzy, it is not impossible to see that a five mile long queue could easily be generated from the millions of monarchists here and abroad, and from the merely curious, and the selfie takers. The sheer overload of reportage has it that this is the biggest event in history, rather than the inevitable passing away of a 96-year old.
The stress of it all is apparently even getting to us Royal Correspondents (RCs), with RC pro-tem Huw Edwards falling prey to bloodshot eyes on the very day that King Charles visited his homeland Wales. Funnily enough, even the Beeb couldn’t censor the loud boos that welcomed the royal visitor. Perhaps a new sentiment is growing in the Principality. Wills and Kate have their work cut out to live up to their new titles, learning Welsh and all. Good luck to them, I bet they hadn’t really thought that one through. So, as perhaps you can tell, this stage of the game is just a kind of stream of consciousness, when the first thing that pops into your mind will dwell there until for us Royal Correspondents something else pops into our minds. Right Royal Soma, it is.
From your Royal Correspondent
+Well, I was almost right, re: ex-MPs maybe skipping the queue to see the Queen’s coffin in Westminster Hall making a headline. Except the headline was about current MPs by-passing the commoners. Here’s Theresa May with her hubby sliding past the coffin. Viewers of Sky News will get a glimpse of May performing her famously embarrassing curtsy, where one knee nearly touches the floor. Very touching. I hope she’s going to be a role model for Liz Thick, the next time we see our new PM curtsy to the King. Anything less obsequious may be seen as a snub.
+For Royal Correspondents during this interregnum there is a huge demand to fill an insatiable appetite for tidbits, to keep things moving along smoothly. Thankfully the King’s tussle with his pen whilst signing a document in Belfast yesterday (or whenever, one loses track of time, as indeed His Majesty did) came to the rescue. Top diplomats and officials will spend quite some time now deciphering what the King meant when he exclaimed ‘This stinking pen!’ and ‘God I hate this’ as he got some ink on his fingers. Kindly, he immediately passed the miscreant pen straight on to Camilla before storming out of the room. I have to say, I think the King ought to have a word with the Archbishop of Cant(erbury) before he is recorded blaspheming again. His mother wouldn’t have been so careless.
+So much for the modernised monarchy. People are queuing up for hours to file past the coffin, and they’re all told they must switch off their mobile phones. No selfies! I’m sure we could have got by with just a ban on selfie sticks. Surely, the moment captured by hundreds of thousands of people would have multiplied a thousand-fold around the world on Instagram and Twitter. An opportunity missed!
Now, it’s back to the BBC studio where we’re about to hear how many shiny buttons each Guardsman wears on his lovely red tunic.
From your Royal Correspondent
+Many people have declared that the UK no longer has a special relationship with the United States. This is palpable nonsense, and the proof? Well, President Biden is going to be one of the few world leaders allowed to travel to the late Queen’s state funeral at Westminster Abbey in his own car, the admirably named explosion-proof ‘Beast.’ The planners I hope will find parking spots for his 20-car convoy, which apparently includes a ‘Beast’ double, for security purposes. Other world leaders will soon find out where they are in the pecking order, it has been reported that most of them will have to be bussed in. In this regard, I would recommend the 88, which goes right past the Abbey and can accommodate 60 or so passengers. I’ve always found London bus drivers to be quite affable, so they should be OK if their bus gets stuck in traffic. Of course, Joe Biden could always give a couple of hitchhikers a lift, perhaps the Emperor of Japan? This could cement some needy relationships. State occasions such as this always encourage a few friendly off-the-cuff bilaterals.
+Now this may be in poor taste (by definition) but to make the televised service a bit more accessible to ordinary people, wouldn’t it be great if Elton John could do a reprise of his song ’Candle In The Wind?’ I guess there could be some protocol issues here, but I think a spirit of generosity would unite the nation. Say no more.
+More countries are considering ditching the monarchy and declaring themselves republics. By all accounts Jamaica will be next. There’s always been a rebellious mood in Australia too, to the extent that they once held a referendum on the subject. We’ll soon see how strong the monarchist glue is in the Commonwealth. Of the 60 or so Commonwealth countries, only 14 currently have the Crown as head of state. I wonder how long this will last. I can’t imagine if I lived in Montreal that I would care less. One Commonwealth country I visited, Kiribati in the South Pacific couldn’t be further removed from its old colonial masters. Indeed, I recall a certain sense of disdain for the UK government’s general lack of concern for the place. (When I say ‘place’ this is a bit of misnomer—by sea water area, with its widely dispersed islands, Kiribati is one of the largest ‘territorial’ areas on the planet.) Anyway Charles, get your skates on, so much to do and so little time left to do it!
From your Royal Correspondent
+A handful of people have been a little less respectful during these recent proceedings than perhaps was wise—shouting anti-monarchist views in the middle of crowds turning out for the late Queen’s commemorations is somewhat brave, perhaps to the point of recklessness. Thankfully, we live in a free country so the police were free to manhandle the protesters away, some in handcuffs. One man in Edinburgh today shouted at Prince Andrew words to the effect that he was a ‘sick old man.’ Steady on with the ‘old’ I would say, Andrew’s only 58 or thereabouts. That’s not old these days. For some reason Andrew had to follow the cortege up the Royal Mile wearing civvies. This for him is nakedness indeed. Stripped of his honorary military titles, I am sure he could still have worn the uniform of the earned rank which he departed the Royal Navy with—apparently a Commander (which surely comes with a bit of gold braid). Clearly, since the Queen is dead, Andrew’s instructions have been given to him by his brother, the King (God Save The King!). Such momentous decisions are Charles’ new domain, never mind saving the planet. Poor old Andrew, he was stupid enough to do actual active military service and look where it got him!
+I’ve been advised that former members of parliament, should they wish to pay their respects to Her Majesty lying in state in Westminster Hall will have to queue up like everybody else. Hacks at the Daily Mail/Telegraph/Daily Express take note! How can you make a story out of this? Perhaps something on the lines of former MPs ‘shown the door.’ In the current dredging around for fatuous stories, I’m sure this could run for at least an hour or two.
+Meanwhile, back in Edinburgh the First Minister read from Ecclesiastes in her contribution to the thanksgiving service in St Giles Cathedral, including the words ’A time to kill . . ’ She just won’t let go, will she? Poor old Alex Salmond. But generally speaking, a time to kill? Does she think it just means killing time?
From your Royal correspondent . . .
Poor old Meghan Markle. She’ll never be allowed to live down the memory of Wallis Simpson, that ever-so common American divorcee who brought the royal family to the brink of extinction. Here’s a report (totally reliable of course) from the Daily Express:
“ . . a spokesperson for Harry and Meghan had said that the couple would go to Scotland together, however, the Prince arrived at Balmoral alone, without his wife by his side. It is understood that this was after an intervention from Charles, with a phone call made when Harry was still at Windsor. A source told the Sun: "Charles told Harry that it wasn't right or appropriate for Meghan to be in Balmoral at such a deeply sad time.”
This it seems is because Meghan was not considered ‘close family.’ So much for family values, which we’ve heard such a great deal about in the last few days. Perhaps now would be a good time to remind the new King and his ‘close’ family that were it not for Wallis Simpson, Edward VIII may have met another woman, had kids and then none of the current lot would be swanning about aglow with their great, accidental inheritance. Perhaps they could cut Meghan a bit of slack so to speak and show a little genuine humility (and possibly remorse). But maybe as we might all suspect, Meghan’s just the wrong kind of arriviste.