The ‘big’ news today – laughably – is that the Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow has told his friends that he intends to stand down next year – ten years after being elected. This comes as no news to those of us who originally supported him, since he said many times that he thought two terms or ten years quite sufficient. The hacks know this of course, but it ties in nicely with the story of a bullying culture in Westminster. Naturally, leading the charge to oust Bercow are the Tories, who mostly never liked him and liked him even less when he allowed the Commons to have a greater oversight over the executive. Ministers hate being called to the chamber to answer for their cock-ups. Anyway, this ‘news’ will spark a race for the next Speaker, and I bet lobbying has already begun (probably started quite a while back, actually). Technically and by convention the next Speaker should come from the Opposition benches, since Bercow was nominally a Tory. But with a Tory Party on the ropes in the year of Brexit they will try desperately to get one of their own in. They might have a slight chance of success. Perhaps they should support someone from the DUP. There’s a cohort of individuals who understand democratic processes.
I watched a film the other night, Lord of War (2006) starring Nicholas Cage, who was perfect in the role of an utterly amoral arms dealer (I fear the word amoral to be redundant here, substitute ‘international’ instead). It grabbed my attention from the very start by its reference to Brighton Beach, New York. Google Brighton Beach and you will find that it is “Also known as "Little Odessa" due [to] its tight-knit Russian and Eastern European communities, Brooklyn's Brighton Beach is a lively neighborhood with many high-rise residential buildings. Traditional ethnic restaurants and food markets line Brighton Beach Avenue. The beach and boardwalk here are more laid-back than nearby Coney Island, catering largely to locals. Splashy nightclubs attract partiers in the evenings.”
Two people who had a particular interest in Brighton Beach were Donald Trump and Semion Mogilevich. Brighton Beach was a development opportunity for Trump. Mogilevich was (is?) a Russian Mafia ‘boss of bosses,’ close to Putin. Rather than me trying to sum up all the connections (which are complex) that tie Trump to the Russian mob, just Google Trump/Mogilevich and take it from there. It’s curious that this stuff doesn’t get more sustained attention in the mainstream media. I have reviewed a book on the subject for Lobster, available here. I do hope that the U.S. Special Counsel investigating the Trump-Russia connection comes up with the indictable goods.
I have been overwhelmed by the U.K. government’s condemnation of Saudi Arabia’s murder in Istanbul of a dissident Saudi journalist. It’s good to know that Theresa May has been in the vanguard of judges on the issue, but for the life of me I haven’t been able to find out how many Saudi diplomats have been expelled from the U.K. so far. None you say? Can that be true? Are we to assume our strong and stable leadership is in hock to the Sheiks? Perhaps one of the benefits of the further deindustrialisation of the U.K. economy post-Brexit will be a diminution of hypocritical sucking-up to places we shouldn’t be dealing with in the first place.