Eclectic Blue

Hotter than hell

0 Comments 20 June 2017

We are well into the season now where we are supposed to make up how hot the temperature is. You know the sort of thing. “We’ve just got back from Ibiza. It was 47c every day.” “Santorini was amazing. It got over 50c on a few of the days.” To which I always want to rely, no it fucking wasn’t.

It shouldn’t bug me, I know, but it does and I don’t know why. When I see a Facebook post boasting of record temperatures, my inclination is to see what the actual temperature was on that day. There are countless excellent websites which faithfully record the actual temperature rather than what people think, or would like to think, it is. I just wonder why people feel the need to exaggerate?

When my old acquaintance said he’d enjoyed lying on a sun bed on 47c degrees of sunshine, by which we mean the shade temperature, I suggested mildly that if the weather had really been 47c, he’d have barely left the hotel. In the late 1980s, I was in Greece in the middle of a heatwave. It was absolutely desperate. The temperature rarely went below 38c (100f) and it was impossible to enjoy yourself. For most of the time, you couldn’t lie in the sun and you certainly couldn’t walk about in it.

We’re enjoying – or is it enduring? – 32c at the moment and I find myself wishing it was a few degrees cooler. 28 or 29c is usually as hot as I want it, anything in the low thirties and it begins to get uncomfortable. The reality is that high forties celcius is up near Death Valley levels and you would not want to spend a fortnight in Death Valley.

Living as we do in a maritime climate, a good summer’s day can be somewhere near the low to mid twenties celsius and that’s just fine. Perhaps we are so unused to warm weather than when it becomes very warm, even hot, we can’t quite believe it’s “only” about 24c. It just has to be hotter than that, doesn’t it?

None of this matters, of course. If folk want to exaggerate how warm it is, it’s up to them. I just don’t know why they do.

Eclectic Blue

Bad company

0 Comments 19 June 2017

Great news for Bristol: your council is going to cut out waste. Because the government is starving local authorities of funding. “£4.3 million of cuts need to be made across library, public toilets, school crossing, dementia and neighbourhood services”, says the Bristol Post. Hooray, I hear you cry. Don’t I?

Well, probably not, actually. I suppose you can come up with an argument about getting rid of public toilets, after all, because what are bus shelters and bushes for? And libraries? They’ve gave us power, as the Manic Street Preachers so accurately pointed out, but why should we pay for working class people and old people to read books? Let them watch telly. But getting rid of lolly pop ladies (and men)?

I cannot help but think the worst about this. Driving around Bristol, I see plenty of lollipop people carrying out invaluable work in ensuring children stay safe. Invaluable work by people who are paid a trivial amount for so doing. They do not receive £200,000 a week like some footballers. I rather think that most, if not all of them, do it because they love to do it. What happens when and if a child dies on the way to school at the place where a lollipop person used to be? What will we say then? There will be an outcry by the public and politicians will wring their hands. That’s bad enough, for sure, but how about cuts to dementia and neighbourhood services?

Now hang on a minute. Your common or garden council taxpayer is already paying more council tax for reduced services and no one seriously denies that social care is in crisis. Unless you are so hard-hearted that you could not give a toss about those with dementia going without vital, basic services, in which case you are probably Margaret Thatcher incarnate, could you really condone such cuts? If your mum, your dad, your husband, your wife was facing a grim future as dementia slowly but surely ruined their lives, you wouldn’t say, “Oh sod them”, would you? I don’t think so. We shouldn’t be looking to cut services: we should be looking to increase them.

The chancellor Philip Hammond acknowledged yesterday that the government was “not deaf” to people’s concerns about continued austerity. What he didn’t add was any suggestion that they might actually do something about it. These politicians are supposed to represent us, to do what we tell them to do. If the British people are really saying that people with dementia should just be left to it, our society is in a far worse state than I imagined it to be.

What we are really facing is a society led by a government that knows the price of everything but the value of nothing. One man’s waste is another man’s carer, that’s the reality. For decades we have heard from politicians lecturing us on the importance of “cutting out waste” when in reality they have been cutting vital frontline services.

The Grenfell House disaster has illustrated in the worst possible way how doing everything on the cheap has consequences. In this dreadfully divided country, we all have a role to play and a price to pay, depending on how much money we have (unless we choose to dodge taxes, legally or illegally, simply because we can).

I see in every day of my working life how public spending cuts have affected lives, never for the better. When a politician says we are cutting waste, it means we are cutting services, often vital services. If you think closing libraries, public toilets, sacking lollipop people and slashing dementia and neighbourhood services, why don’t you move to Guernsey? You’ll be in bad company.

Eclectic Blue

Radicalisation

0 Comments 19 June 2017

My early thoughts on the latest terrorist atrocity, this time at Finsbury park mosque, are down to one thing: how was the terrorist radicalised? It appears he was a “clean shaven” white man, so what was that inspired a clean shaven white man to kill people? Several people and organisations are in the frame.

High in the list must be Nigel Farage who has spent his entire political life losing elections and stirring up hatred, culminating in the evil posters before last June’s disastrous EU referendum. If you are given as much air time and space on newsprint as Farage, it is surely possible that some people, probably not the sharpest tools in the box, will see Farage as the some kind of anti-establishment man of the people who says things that other racists and bigots are afraid to say. In their eyes, Farage’s poison is mainstream opinion. The former, and probably future, Ukip leader has attempted to legitimise xenophobia and racism. I’d say his hands are covered in blood.

Speaking of hands covered in blood, step forward Paul Dacre of the Mail who has been stoking up hatred at the Mail ever since he became editor. Barely a day goes by without foreigners being blamed for all our failings. It would be wrong to say that all Mail readers are racists, bigots and xenophobes but by buying a newspaper that actively supports and promotes hate – and don’t be so stupid as to suggest it doesn’t – they condone it, unwittingly or not. You can obviously add the Sun and the stark ravingly bonkers Express to the list of haters and again if you buy the filth they come out with you are part of the problem.

And then you have the rent-a-mouth thugs like the EDL’s Tommy Robinson, Britain First and all manner of extreme figures and groups on the far right and you have a society in which an awful lot of people think it is perfectly reasonable to drive a van at a group of people whose crime happens to be the religion in which they believe.

The latest attack happens, ironically, the day after the Great Get Together which happened a year after the murder of the Labour MP Jo Cox by a right wing terrorist. We do not yet know the motives of the man who mowed down innocent people last night but we will soon find out. It is instructive to learn that when the man was caught last night his life was saved by the Imam. What an amazing act. After such an attack, who among us would have protected a thug from the mob until the police arrived? I’m not sure I would have done.

A terrorist is a terrorist is a terrorist. Last night’s awful attack was no different and no less disgusting from, say, the Westminster attack. And as we seek to discover how some muslims are radicalised we do well to do the same with “clean shaven” white men.

Eclectic Blue

The fight of the century

0 Comments 18 June 2017

“The world is waiting for the Floyd Mayweather v Conor McGregor fight,” says the entire media. Is that so? Given that I have never seen Mayweather or McGregor fight in their respective sports, the world does not include me. So why should I be excited and why am I not?

I would imagine that for this cross-sports match-up will be something to behold. So far, I understand the undercard is stacking up really well. Phil “The Power” Taylor lines up against Usain Bolt, followed by Ronnie O’Sullivan against the Harlem Globetrotters. This is going to be some night. Except that it isn’t.

I know little about UFC other than the fact that men – or women – get into a cage and smack the shit out of each other until one or the other is unconscious. Boxing is very different though because two men – or women – get into a ring and smack the shit our of each other until one or the other is unconscious. Remember that distinction once you have paid your £25 or whatever it is that Sky charges you.

It appears that both men will receive a purse of something like £80 million for what is, in effect, a boxing friendly match. There will be no titles at stake, just a freak show for people with too much money and too much time on their hands.

The Mail on Sunday chief sportswriter Oliver Holt describes the fight as a “massive marketing stunt”, adding that “it’s a sideshow. It’s an offshoot. It’s a bit like the Battle of the Sexes between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs.” If you don’t like it, don’t buy it. Well don’t worry about that, Ollie. I certainly won’t. But millions will.

I can understand the attraction of boxing even if I get uneasy watching it. When a fighter gets smacked on the head over and over again, I know it is not good for him. When a rugby players suffers a head injury, he gets a concussion examination. When a boxer gets a head injury, the cornermen chuck water in his face and he carries on. You do not need to be a neurosurgeon to conclude that repeated head trauma will lead to brain injury. It is the noble art, but it is also a noble art that ends up with old fighters suffering from pugilista dementia. Muhammad Ali was the greatest boxer who ever lived but boxing took a terrible toll on his health.

I suspect I am not the only one who could not give a toss about the McGregor/Mayweather fight. It is about as much to do with sport as Big Daddy versus Giant Haystacks and will be every bit as dull.

But Phil Taylor against Usain Bolt. I can’t wait for that one.

Eclectic Blue

Father’s Day

0 Comments 18 June 2017

How do you celebrate Father’s Day when your father has been dead for over six years? I don’t buy all this “I’ll bet you’re having a great time up in heaven” malarkey because, like my dad, I have never believed that somehow we would survive our own deaths and meet again. When he died, I was pretty certain that it was the end. Since then, nothing has happened to make me change my mind.

My dad, Anthony Johansen, was an incredible man, although we weren’t close until his later life. This was because for much of my life he lived in Canada and I lived in England. Whatever anyone says, miles can separate you in more ways than just geography. I missed the daily, weekly, monthly and sometimes yearly contact and I never got to know him properly until he was in his seventies. I am very grateful that I did get to know him and to spend some quality time with him. When he died, the loss hit me, but not as much as the lost time.

Having never had a father figure in my life did not affect my upbringing. At least that was what I thought. What you have, you don’t miss. But having children of my own, I now know what I missed. I am in no doubt that having a father at home would have given me a better, more stable life, some decent scholastic and professional advice and maybe, just maybe, better mental health.

Of course at the time of growing up, you don’t realise what you are missing. Everyone else had a dad who played football with them, took them places, helped them with homework. I really didn’t give it a single thought that I was not the same as them. My mum and I were very poor but again at the time I didn’t realise it. I thought everyone’s mum hung around the butcher shop after work to try and pick up the off cuts before they were thrown away. I assumed that when the milk ran out midweek, everyone would have to go without until Friday and pay day. I thought I was the same as everyone else. I wasn’t.

Not that I blame anyone for that. What’s the point? My mum and dad made a mistake by getting married and soon got divorced, but not before I turned up. That happens to lots of people. After the thrill is gone in a relationship, the future is dependent upon what’s left. I’ve been there too. I was left to muddle through school, muddle my way into a lifetime of dead end jobs and any potential I had never came to fruition. That’s just the way it was. I do sometimes feel “what if?”, which are the saddest words known to man, because I do feel that so much of my life was a waste of time. Until my soul mate came along and two children came along after. I determined at the outset that they would never be like me. That they would have all the opportunities I never had and they would have better lives. Seeing them succeed has been the great achievement of my life, although I readily acknowledge my partner deserves the majority of the credit.

My dad wanted the best for me and I felt his love particularly at his 75th birthday in 2004 and at his 80th in 2009, when I flew to Ottawa to see him. A few days after I took him to see John Fogerty in concert, I said goodbye, flew home and never saw him again. The next time I flew to Canada was in 2011 for his funeral.

I am thinking of my dad today, as I do on many days. I am grateful that we were eventually like a “normal” father and son and I am sad that for most of life we were anything but normal.

My final memory of him, just before I flew home in 2009, was seeing him sitting in the lounge listening to George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass on vinyl. He adored that album and so do I. And whenever I hear a track from it, I am immediately transported to that happy day some eight years ago when we were together.

Eclectic Blue

Over we go

0 Comments 18 June 2017

Chancellor Philip Hammond has just confirmed that as we leave the EU, we will also be leaving the single market and customs union. I thought, in hope more than expectation, that last week’s election result had put paid to a hard Brexit, but no. Ukip has been reborn and renamed the Conservative and Unionist Party. Good luck if you work for one of the high end companies near where I live, like Rolls Royce, BAe systems and Airbus, because if the government delivers on a hard Brexit you will have plenty to fear.

Good luck, in fact, if you do any kind of business with the EU, whether that is by making stuff or simply going on holiday. The reintroduction of customs controls will simply clog up huge swathes of the country with vehicles including lorries trying to export and import goods and ordinary folk simply wanting to use the Channel Tunnel or the port to port ferries. Can you imagine companies who manufacture items that have to cross the channel on numerous occasions, currently effortlessly and swiftly, will suddenly have to be subject to strict controls? What would you do if you were a company based in the UK? Wouldn’t you consider moving all your operation to Europe? Of course you would and that is exactly what is going to happen.

Leaving the single market and customs union and potentially operating under WTO rules would quickly destroy significant parts of our economy. Manufacturing is thin on the ground as it is, following the Thatcher years of destruction, and our economy remains relatively strong on the basis people keep borrowing and spending. Already borrowing levels have reached 2008 levels and we all know what happened to the world economy back then.

It goes without saying that everything will cost more. The depreciation of the pound is likely to continue as Theresa May’s desperately weak government starts to negotiate our EU exit without so much as the first idea of what they want to achieve. Already, inflation has risen to almost 3% and many people are worse off than they were a year ago. WTO terms would destroy the farming industry, changing the way our countryside looks forever and not in a good way. Everything will cost more, jobs, especially good jobs, will leave our shores and what’s worse is that this is avoidable.

Whatever deal our government comes up with – “the best possible deal” as May calls it – will not be as good as anything we have now. That is a matter of fact. Leaving the EU has consequences and none of them are good so we are dependent on unqualified politicians who are wholly unprepared for what follows. Having observed Theresa May’s implosion during the election campaign and then taking so long to cobble together a coalition deal (because that’s what it is) with the DUP does not fill me with optimism. Quite the reverse.

The spirit of Nigel Farage is still alive and kicking even though his party is all but dead. Our loss by leaving the EU is his victory and the hard Brexit he trumpets accurately reflects the policy of Theresa May.

We were sold a pack of lies in last year’s referendum and the warnings of the remoaners are all beginning to come true and don’t say you weren’t warned.

Hammond confirms May is still committed to taking us off a cliff and unless this is a negotiating ploy, Brexit is going to be the disaster many of us knew it would be.

Eclectic Blue

Sticking plaster

0 Comments 17 June 2017

A year after the death of Jo Cox, we are supposed to be celebrating in the Great Get Together. I quote from its website: “This summer, on 16 – 18 June, we’re organising the biggest neighbourhood celebrations since the Jubilee street parties. It’s called The Great Get Together and we’d love you to be a part of it. We’re inviting people to get together with their neighbours to share food and celebrate all that we hold in common. It could be a street party or a shared barbecue, a picnic or a bake off. What matters is that we have fun and bring communities closer together.” Given the fantastic weather, I hope that this event is a huge success but I can’t help feeling that the country is probably more divided than ever.

The one person who seems to have her finger on the nation’s pulse is the Queen. No, I haven’t been drinking – well, only a bit – but her statement on the day of her official birthday sums things up in a way that mere politicians have been unable to do. This is what she said:

“Today is traditionally a day of celebration. This year, however, it is difficult to escape a very sombre national mood. In recent months, the country has witnessed a succession of terrible tragedies.

“As a nation, we continue to reflect and pray for all those who have been directly affected by these events. During recent visits in Manchester and London, I have been profoundly struck by the immediate inclination of people throughout the country to offer comfort and support to those in desperate need.

‘Put to the test, the United Kingdom has been resolute in the face of adversity. United in our sadness, we are equally determined, without fear or favour, to support all those rebuilding lives so horribly affected by injury and loss.”

My loyal reader knows I am no monarchist but then again I have no pressing desire to get rid of the monarchy either. There are more pressing matters to deal with and anyway, I think that in her own way, the Queen, in her 92nd year, showed real leadership yesterday, in visiting the area around Grenfell House with her grandson, the estimable Prince William, and today with her short, considered message.

In my safe European (for now) home, little has changed. People are still going to work, living their lives as if the general election, the terrorist atrocities and the disaster of Grenfell House were twice-removed from reality. And that’s because I live in a world, at least in my personal life, that has not suffered from islamic fascism, where most people have food to put on the table, don’t live in a potential death trap. That said, I am not ignorant to the fact that there is another world out there, a world where people live miserable lives, earning a pittance, living in a hell-hole of a flat and whose future passed before it really came along.

Grenfell House changes everything, but it was not the only example of where working people spoke out. The referendum to leave the EU was, at least in part, the action of an electorate which saw it being lectured to by an out of touch elite who felt that all they had to say was jump and the reply would always be “How high?” Whilst Brexit will undoubtedly turn out to be an epic act of self-harm, as politicians scrabble around to get a deal for Britain which is bound to be worse than the one we already have, a lot of people took the vote as an opportunity to give politicians a kicking. The same thing happened in the general election last week where the unlikely figure of Jeremy Corbyn suggested there could be another way to run the country and the hope he gave people ensured the Tories did not win an overall majority. The divisions caused by Brexit and by gross inequality across the country have been exasperated by the tragedy of Grenfell House. The genie is now out of the bottle and it may not go back in again.

There is unbearable sadness and not a little anger in Kensington right now. The gap between rich and poor can be measured in many millions of pounds but only by a few yards. Turn the corner from Grenfell House and you see unimaginable luxury. It has been tolerated by many people for, perhaps, too long.

Cards on the table, I am concerned about the politicisation of the Grenhell House disaster. Today, a large march took place, ending in Whitehall, attended not only by local people but also by the usual suspects from the hard left who spent much of the day calling for Theresa May to resign. Quite what the rape apologists from the SWP and the Socialist Party (AKA Militant tendency), were there for, well work it out for yourselves. They were no more welcome than the thugs of Britain First, led by Paul Golding, who turned up to heckle and abuse muslims who were arranging for supplies to be taken to Kensington. Three things are certain in life: death, taxes and extremist groups seeking to exploit a national tragedy. I certainly found it disappointing that the shadow education secretary Angela Rayner was one of the Whitehall speakers.

The trouble is that there is a leadership void at the top, which the Queen managed only temporarily to address. Without trying to politicise the situation myself, it is achingly obvious that the prime minister has proven to be hopelessly out of her depth in this crisis. As a mainstream Labour Party member, I take no satisfaction from this. Theresa May’s relentless self-promotion as being a “strong and stable” leader has backfired disastrously and instead she stares into the camera, gurns from time to time and always avoids the question she is being asked. Worse than that, she has become a figure of ridicule. Her situation is unquestionably irretrievable.

The idea that this out-of-her-depth prime minister can solve the problems of inequality, division and, starting Monday, negotiate with the EU when she has taken over a week to fail to reach agreement with the hardline loyalists of the DUP is laughable. But then, who can? The leader of our country will only be a Conservative for the foreseeable future. The Tories will not call another election if they do not think they will win and they will almost certainly have learned that well after May’s disastrous campaign. Does anyone seriously see Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, Philip Hammond or even Amber Rudd as anything other than continuity drift? Johnson would add only further chaos to May’s incompetence.

It’s a terrible mess and it isn’t going to get any better anytime soon. When a 91 year old monarch offers the only leadership available, you know you are in trouble. Britain is in trouble now. We have no leaders with compassion and vision, no one who is capable of uniting the country. In short, no one who has a clue.

The Great Get Together was a great idea but it won’t change anything, much as I wish it would. The divisions remain, we are an unequal country. The Great Get Together gives only a temporary break, it’s sticking plaster, that’s all.

I fear for Britain, I really do. A divided country, a desperately poor and weak prime minister and, just to make things much, much worse, we are about to exit the European Union at huge cost. If we are not careful, we will be holding the Great Wake next year.

Eclectic Blue

Dishonours System

0 Comments 17 June 2017

The last surviving member of the Dambusters, 96 year old George “Johnny” Johnson, has been awarded an MBE in the Birthday honours list. Not before time you might say when you consider the raids took place some 74 years ago but my reaction when I see some of the other names on the list is simple: is that all?

You don’t need me to cut and paste some stuff from Wikipedia to remind you of the Dambusters raids but it is worth pointing out that eight of the 19 planes were lost, 53 men died and three were captured. These men were true British heroes and it takes until now for the nation to acknowledge Mr Johnson’s service with a lowly MBE, the same level of gong as Ed Sheeran has been awarded and a lesser honour than the alleged comedian David Walliams who gets an OBE presumably for being very camp and definitely not funny.

Mr Johnson, who has also spent many years raising thousands of pounds for charities, said if he had been offered a knighthood he wold have “difficulty accepting it”. Well, it didn’t appear to cause Philip Green much difficulty accepting his knighthood, nor did it appear to concern Lynton Crosby who was handed a knighthood by David Cameron for services to spin on behalf of the Conservative Party. And when you add in the hundreds of people who are handed awards for doing their jobs, you do wonder what the point of it is.

We say it all the time, don’t we? The honours system needs to be massively reformed. Does Michael Parkinson deserve a greater honour than a war hero because of his great service to TV chat shows? The very thought of it leaves me cold. And then there’s Steve Lansdown.

Steve Lansdown, owner of Bristol City (1982) Ltd, gets a CBE for “services to business and the community in Bristol”. Are we to believe that Lansdown created that billion pounds plus out of the kindness of his heart in order to benefit the community? Should we doff our caps and get on bended knee and thank him for shifting all his money to Guernsey to avoid paying his fair share of tax, whilst Britain suffers as health services and school funding are slashed, social care is near collapse and big questions are being asked about the effects of severe public spending cuts throughout the last seven years? I cannot argue with Lansdown’s success in business, or that in building his fortune he has created a lot of jobs, but is that really the measure of whether someone should be handed a major honour?

Perhaps I am out of step with the public mood. It seems I have a very different view of what honours are for and to whom they should be given. I can give you numerous examples of people who have given much of their lives to helping others, often for no financial return at all. They don’t get, nor even ask for, honours in return but in each and every case they make our country better.

It is right that the nation finally gives Mr Johnson the recognition he so richly deserves but I can’t help thinking that the current system is farcical when a real life war hero is considered worthy of a lesser award than a television comedian and a billionaire. What does that say about our values?

Eclectic Blue

Homeless

0 Comments 16 June 2017

Not for the first time, I am in despair at the state of British politics. Recent events confirm, surely beyond reasonable doubt, that the country is bereft of leadership at a national level and those waiting in the wings of opposition are little better.

Allow me to put my cards on the table. I am a card-carrying member of the Labour Party and have been since the late 1970s, apart from a 12 year absence when I resigned because of the Iraq invasion in 2003. I came back with little enthusiasm in 2015 other than to engage in the debate as to who would succeed Labour leader Ed Miliband. I had almost rejoined Labour five years before when David Miliband was favourite to succeed Gordon Brown but, thanks to Len McCluskey and the comrades, we got the wrong Miliband. I remained in exile.

I watched as David Cameron led what was in effect a right wing Tory government propped up by Nick Clegg’s Liberal Democrats. Cameron himself was a smooth political performer and he was rarely threatened by his opponents. When Miliband was defeated in 2015, Cameron had it easier still when his opponent turned out to be not Andy Burnham who I supported, but by career backbencher and serial rebel Jeremy Corbyn. Corbyn rarely laid a glove on Cameron but the Tory PM was destroyed by the issue that has destroyed every Tory leader since Thatcher: Europe. By calling a referendum on the EU in order to manage internal party machinations, he steered Britain towards a disastrous exit from the EU and deservedly his own career went down with it.

As we know, Cameron was succeeded by Theresa May. The public knew little about her, other than the fact she had been home secretary for six years. She campaigned halfheartedly to remain in the EU but once Cameron self-destructed she moved swiftly to succeed him and to campaign for a hard Brexit. Her opponent across the despatch box was still Jeremy Corbyn.

Corbyn saw off a challenge to his leadership with a landslide majority and was unassailable. He too was a reluctant remainer and, like May, campaigned less than enthusiastically to remain in the EU which was the position of the Labour Party. To show his contempt for the EU, he even went on holiday halfway through the campaign. I was less than impressed when the country voted narrowly leave the EU.

Little more than a week ago, Theresa May lost her parliamentary majority in a snap election cynically called to capitalise on Corbyn’s supposed lack of popularity in the country and to win a landslide victory. We all know what happened. May’s limitations were ruthlessly exposed as she did little more than parrot stock phrases over and over again and avoid the public. Corbyn, by contrast, exceeded the lowly expectations and achieved a successful defeat for Labour. Corbyn, as the loser, was the winner and May, as the winner, was the loser. Are you still with me?

The tragic fire at Grenfell House has further diminished the PM in terms of her public response. I am one of the few, it seems, who felt May’s reason for not meeting the public near the disaster seemed reasonable. Her spokesperson said it was for “security reasons”. But today, the Queen and Prince William turned up and there didn’t appear to be any security reasons at all. I will not try to extract political capital out of May’s absence but the more I think about it, the bigger an error it seems to be.

So, May is diminished. She now leads a coalition of chaos with the DUP and I cannot see her lasting long. But by the same token, I see no obvious successor other than, perhaps, Amber Rudd. Boris Johnson has turned out to be an opportunist and a shyster, no one seriously sees the likes of Liam Fox or Michael Gove as potential prime ministers; the cupboard in the Tory Party is empty. But what of Labour?

Jeremy Corbyn is master of all he surveys. His astonishing victory defeat has cemented him as Labour leader for as long as he wants to be leader. The hard left tightens its grip on the levers of power in the party. Corbyn himself even looks and sounds like a potential prime minister on occasions, not least because of his authenticity to an electorate tired of spin. However, I have not changed my mind about Corbyn the man. For all his success, his authenticity and his affability, I still see him as a rebellious backbencher with a lot of bad ideas. More than that, I don’t see him as a strong leader. I don’t really see him as a leader at all. And when it comes to the EU, Corbyn makes me as angry as May. Perhaps more so.

Brexit is the big issue of our generation. May has shown herself as out of her depth and completely incapable of negotiating for Britain, not least because her government does not have the slightest idea of what it is negotiating for but Corbyn and Labour spent seven weeks in the election campaign saying nothing at all about Europe. Worse, Labour’s position on Europe, it’s support for a hard Brexit leaving the single market is little different to May’s. To summarise, May has no idea what she wants bar a hard Brexit and Corbyn has no idea what he wants bar a hard Brexit. Great. I stayed with Labour despite Corbyn increasing his support in the party, but despite the improved election result it’s nearly time to go. I remain a remoaner and if that can’t be achieved, I want the softest of soft Brexits, basically like Norway.

The election result has unleashed something very different in our country, which has been amplified by the reaction to the Grenfell House disaster. The country, or at least significant parts of it, demands that politicians listen to the people and acts to make the country more equal and fairer whereas I suspect they will get little more than gestures and platitudes. This will not go away. The genie is out of the bottle.

I see our people as lions led by donkeys and with few exceptions that’s how things have always been. The events of recent weeks have done little to change the narrative and perhaps they have confirmed my worst fears, leaving me political homeless.

Eclectic Blue

That Friday Music Music Shuffle (16/6)

1 Comment 16 June 2017

Hello iTunes: I’ve been waiting for you.

It’s Friday, it’s nearly 3.00 pm and it’s time for some shuffling music live from my Man Cave.

Welcome my friends to the show that never ends.

1. It Just Don’t Stop by the Roots. Was it really 21 years since the mighty Roots released their hip hop classic long player Illadelph Halflife?

2. Lost in the Supermarket by the Clash. While I am going down the road of was it really X years since this album was released, how about this one from London Calling. Released in 1979. I mean, really.

3. No Time by the Monkees. From their album Headquarters, here Micky Dolenz sings some Rock N Roll.

4. Boogie On Reggae Woman by Stevie Wonder. From Stevie’s 1974 epic Fulfillingness’ First Finale, the great man sings and plays everything except the congas. More funk than reggae if you ask me, but who cares?

5. Cafe Del Mar (Michael Woods remix) by Energy 52. Close my eyes and I am there, watching the sun go down on the White Island, among the hippies and hipsters, drinking beer I can’t really afford.

6. Great White Lady by John Kongos. The great John Kongos at his best. All heavy percussion, Moog synths and a mixture of acoustic and electric guitars.

7. There’s a Space Between Us by Carole King. From Carole’s Thoroughbred album, featuring the likes of David Crosby, Graham Nash and James Taylor, the latter of whom is clearly audible on this track.

8. Beautiful by Carole King. A Carole King double today with a tune that lives up to its name from the Tapestry classic.

9. Put It There by Peter, Bjorn and John. From the Macca tribute album, the Art of McCartney, comes this cover of this tune from Flowers in the Dirt. Nothing special.

10. It’s Up To You by the Specials. Classic Jerry Dammers to end our sesh.

That’s all, folks!

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