General Election 2019 Page 18

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A Horseradish

  • Friday 20th December 2019, 12:55pm [Edited]
  • United Kingdom
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Quote: john tregorran @ 20th December 2019, 4:25 AM

Belated birthday thingamabobs :)

Thank you.

It is very easy to remember. On every 1st January a new year is born. Exactly a week beforehand, Jesus was born. And exactly a week before that, I was born. So too were Stephen Spielberg, Brad Pitt, Christina Aguilera, Steve Biko, Betty Grable, Willy Brandt, Keith Richards, Godot Taxis who was once of this parish, and Joseph Stalin. Just a quick reading of those names is to immediately see how uncannily similar we all are and to realise that astrology is totally spot on. Yes. The fiery Sagittarius although none of the others have their moons in the highly neurotic and over analytical Virgo or their ascendants in the peculiarly eccentric Aquarius as I do. Consequently they don't have to live in this world being three people arguing like a Mother, a Father and a little child. Sadly, I am not expecting there to be a cure for it in my lifetime.

Kick over the statues.........help the homeless this Christmastide:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yEZTZ3_cqHY

(Formed in York and I saw them live in York in 1985 at the height of Thatcherism beside blood on the dancefloor - Right wing local youths from the estates against left wing university students : the ambulance was not called for the former)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mt3u2YkLXQQ

(Alan Hull, The North East's Guardian reading People's Poet - Saw him and the band live in 1982, York and in 1983, Newcastle - This was in July 1995, just four months before he died at age 50 - He'd be amazed at the 2019 results)

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A Horseradish

  • Friday 20th December 2019, 1:25pm [Edited]
  • United Kingdom
  • 6,954 posts

2016 to 2019 - 53 to 57 (ii)

The 2016 referendum on Britain's membership of the EU took place after a change of Labour leadership. To all intents and purposes, Labour were well placed to gain votes from people like me. At the start of that year, the loathed Cameron and Osborne were still at the helm of the Conservative Party. The case against the EU which had been at the forefront of the minds of people like Farage for donkey's years still hadn't really cut through to my thinking. Some years had passed since the dismal premiership of Brown. All Labour really needed to do at that stage was find someone with fairly similar views to Ed Miliband. One who was rather more plausible in terms of personality. Yvette Cooper was among the obvious names which sprang to mind. Instead, they chose Harriet Harman to be their interim leader until a permanent replacement could be found. To my way of thinking, they couldn't have chosen anyone worse. Back in the early 1980s, she had sailed into what was my Nan's inner London tower block constituency, noticeably adopting what appeared to be a fake "less posh than she actually was" accent to show that she was one of the ordinary Sarf London people. I had been unimpressed.

Worse, while in the first part of the current decade it was Cyril Smith who was shown to have been involved in the worst kinds of child abuse while other senior Liberals of the past had effectively just ignored it, and the Conservatives were under similar scrutiny much of which was later adjudged unfounded, recent newspapers had been full of the role of Harman at NCCL in the 1970s along with her husband Dromey and a godparent to one of her children Patricia Hewitt. The NCCL which had housed organisations which promoted adults having sex with children. For Labour to choose Harman even as a temporary leader showed an utter disregard for that aspect of Britain's dire political history. As soon as they did so, it almost beggared belief. When Corbyn took over, I was as surprised as everyone else but thought initially it could only represent a slight improvement. Nevertheless, I was more than half a decade on from Glastonbury. Benn might have been enjoyed as a prophet there but he was a prophet who had relinquished all ambition. From a distance, the arrival of a man who while being from the same political era was highly ambitious, seemed somewhat sinister. As for the middle class strains in the fields of "ooh Jeremy Corbyn" - the ticket prices were now eye watering - it all seemed young and trite.

In what was a very weird period of personal historical connections with party bigwigs - not only had Harman become the MP in my Nan's constituency but I had met McDonnell in Minister McNulty's office as previously described - the Lib Dems in theory looked more promising again, first under Tim Farron with whom my school politics teacher was close and then later Vince Cable on whose behalf I had campaigned in York. But Farron's unusual if principled mixture of Liberalism and devout Christianity led him directly into the abyss via a Channel 4 interview with Cathy Newman when he got himself into an absolute muddle on the topic of homosexuality. As for Cable, he made it known from the outset that he didn't intend to stay long as leader when he took over in 2017 and all the indications were that he had Jo Swinson in mind as his successor. He had gone down significantly in my opinion because of his role in the Coalition Government and what I had seen of her up until that point had done nothing for me at all. I thought she would be bad news in terms of voter appeal.

So none of these changes were exactly the stuff of jubilation. Had any massive celebration been held in this period at Horseradish Towers, it would have been on and for the day when Cameron flounced off pathetically into the ether. It was truly the greatest of news. But that, of course, was immediately after the referendum when the result was known. And for many months, it had seemed that of all the leading politicians it was Nigel Farage who had really grabbed the spotlight.

This guy, who I had managed largely to dismiss for years even though he had made his presence felt with millions, did a huge self-promotional thing at one point in a hotel at Cliftonville, near Margate. I knew it well because it was just down the road from where most of my father's family lived in barely adequate housing. He also lived in a village which to this day I have never visited but is so close to me geographically that I came to joke that he and I could easily swap messages by carrier pigeon. Did he convince me as a person? To a large extent. Did he convince me politically? No. That was until I watched his documentary programmes on the workings of the EU. As he took the cameras around the buildings and explained fully what the institution was like now, I began to feel uneasy. I had been heavily involved in politics for years and yet somehow not having taken on board the immensity of the changes. I didn't much like those changes as described.

Ooh. I have just received a telephone call entirely out of the blue from Greenpeace. I am their last person before Xmas. How fascinating. Given the Green Party references in some of my posts here, perhaps it is another wall with big ears.

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Firkin

  • Friday 20th December 2019, 7:01pm
  • United Kingdom
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Well I'll just have to take your word for that Horse. My favourite bit was "Farage for donkeys". I mean what else would you do with a Farage post Brexit ? He really should plan further ahead, this is the danger of doing just the one policy at a time.

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A Horseradish

  • Friday 20th December 2019, 8:55pm [Edited]
  • United Kingdom
  • 6,954 posts

2016 to 2019 - 53 to 57 (iii)

Thank you. Farage for Donkeys. Yes. But to bring this true shaggy dog story to some sort of conclusion, what happened is that I watched those documentaries of him swanning around the Brussels buildings. For the first time, and this is some months before the referendum campaign, I was starting to wonder if the EU was all that I thought it was, especially on matters of accountability. The influential figures there, unelected, seemed to be no greater in number than the fingers on one hand. The European Parliament had over 700 white people, most of whom I had never heard of. The laissez faire right wing politics of UKIP, as I comprehended those, did not appeal - I never did trust Farage on the NHS - and in fact it remains the case today that I have never ever voted for a party led by Our Nigel although I did meet a few folk who did.

I reminded myself at this time that Tony Benn was vehemently against Britain's membership of the EEC. I also discovered to my amazement that a version of the SDP still existed when I thought it had got out of business 20 years earlier. Sure. Its membership could all be fitted into a Mini but it was in existence. And weirdly given that the SDP had been vehemently pro EEC it was now strongly anti. Being against Britain's membership, therefore, didn't necessarily mean having to be very right wing. I admit that I did look at the immigration figures and given that immigration had never been an issue for me before, I quickly realised that I was entirely unaware of how that had all changed under Blair and Cameron. Since the 1960s and 1970s, the annual rate had increased tenfold from 30,000 per annum to 300,000 per annum. I was rather shocked by the fact that I hadn't known this. But this is not to say that I was vehemently against the number it had climbed up to. What concerned me was that it could in the future be at any number and our Governments were consequently not able to plan for knowable changes. Mostly though my attention turned to why I was so strongly for the EEC in the first place.

My enthusiasm aged 12 had been purely on the basis that it would ensure that we should never go to war with Germany or anyone else in Europe and preferably anyone elsewhere ever again. Well, the latter hadn't worked. It had seemed that we had been endlessly at war in recent years - in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Libya. Being a member of the EU hadn't prevented any of those from happening and at considerable expense. While I had continued to pay for my mortgage for a while, my money had run out a couple of years earlier. That had forced me into taking a vastly reduced and paltry early pension but now I was reliant on parental subsidy. Of course, what went through the mind is that that if the powers that be could afford to wage war then they could have afforded not to have reneged on employment rights. But more that my parents who only lived in a two bedroom semi detached bungalow had somehow accumulated enough money to kindly help me.

That is with my father having been on a low grade in local government and my mother doing shop jobs and care home work on a minimum wage. While the surprising strength of their financial position owed much to their careful saving, it owed even more to the way in which this country had been when they had started out in life. A country which had not been at war, had not been in the EEC and which really supported ordinary people to gain upward mobility. In view of the fact that they had left school at 14 with no qualifications while I had gone all the way through to university, the distinctions seemed utterly ludicrous to me and a clear signal of the failure of politics in my lifetime. Worse, fascists were on the rise in France, Germany, Italy, Hungary and elsewhere largely because of that failure and we would be locked into it all until they took over the European institutions which would probably lead ironically to a war with Germany again.

Much was made of the supposed clear distinctions between the EU and the USA but the first was so tied to the latter that when the latter had crashed economically the whole of the former crashed with it. And then there was Russia. Rather than embracing the fact that communism had fallen, bot the EU and the US seemed obsessed with the idea that Putin was a threat to the extent that it seemed they had a need to have that bogey man so as to detract we the humble voters from our politician's inadequacy. When Senator McCain turned up in Kiev to support blokes in jack boots carrying swastikas having rallied them into protest with the aid of an American financed Dutch internet television company, EU expansion ever eastwards since 1990 looked overly aggressive to me. I have never believed that Putin is the major source of aggro.

And at the time, I declared that the Netherlands was privately the 51st American state since when it has gone further downhill. Only this week the BBC seriously asked in an article, quote, "Is The Netherlands Becoming a Narco-State" that is virtually run by the mafia. In view of the fact that the Netherlands appears on the surface to be one of the most reliable and progressive countries in the EU, all of this has consistently raised questions about what all the other countries are really like behind the scenes. Obviously it took less than an hour to suddenly become a Brexiter. This, I guess, was around the first part of 2016 and it was a reversal of a position on Europe I had held for 41 years. Two months later, I had shifted into neutral. For all that I have written, I couldn't quite believe with further thought it was all as bad as it now seemed. And three weeks before the referendum in which I assumed I would be abstaining, I started to shift ground again. When the momentous day came and I was in the polling station, I found to my incredulity that I was, after all, voting Remain.

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A Horseradish

  • Saturday 21st December 2019, 4:04pm [Edited]
  • United Kingdom
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2016 to 2019 - 53 to 57 (iv)

And so to my final one. Remainers should have paid me huge amounts of money to vote for Brexit as my record of voting in national polls over getting on for half a century was 100% on the losing side. I had even voted in favour of AV in the referendum on changing the voting system. Once the result of the EU referendum came through, Brexiters should have paid me loads of money to stick rigidly to my guns and argue vehemently for Remain. The consequence would have been Parliament agreeing to leave within days and without any fuss at all. As it was, I immediately accepted the outcome which virtually guaranteed that there would be years of obstacles with every possibility that another referendum would be held.

I wasn't jubilant about the outcome. I would not have been jubilant about the alternative outcome. What I could willingly have voted for was a return to a nine member EEC in which Britain was one of the members as in 1975 or else expanded to around about 15 countries managed on the same lines. That option though was never going to be provided. Being so non polar in what was the most polarised contest in anyone's memory I suppose it was easier for me to accept the result more than many. Rather like Johnson, I had two big pieces of paper which set out the advantages of each way except unlike him it wasn't done in a manipulative way mainly for personal advantage. It was a genuine reflection of how my mind had been working. And while I could initially comprehend arguments from Remainers that Leavers had been misled, my indecision was able to provide me with the argument that both sides had been misled and furthermore that everyone is misled by all parties in every General Election. It wasn't a good thing but it was true, If only past polls had been so squeaky clean.

And to my mind, Theresa May when elected leader of the Conservatives benefited almost by default from three things. First, she wasn't Cameron. Secondly. the Labour and Lib Dem leaders were not especially wonderful. And thirdly by coincidence or maybe not, her position on the referendum was the same as mine. Had voted Remain. Now accepted Leave. Not knowing then who was to follow her, it did seem that the Tories had turned their backs again on Eton and rediscovered meritocracy. Her speech on the steps of Downing Street sounded more like the direction set by Macmillan and it even incorporated things that Ed Miliband could easily have said. I quite liked her. I still quite like her. I think she is a very genuine woman who was given a terribly rough time and whose intentions were not only good but largely sound.

Consequently, I voted Conservative for the first time ever in a General Election in 2017. It was as everyone now knows well a victory that was as close to a defeat as any victory is possible to be. I find it hard to declare with huge confidence that I was finally on a winning side. More generally, I think history will show that May not only as Prime Minister but as Home Secretary always sounded better in principle than what it was she delivered. Which is a pity but that is politics for you.

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A Horseradish

  • Monday 23rd December 2019, 9:21pm [Edited]
  • United Kingdom
  • 6,954 posts

2016 to 2019 - 53 to 57 (v)

And so to the General Election of 2019. I was in the cohort who Johnson referred to as having hands which shook before voting Tory. I sat on the bench outside for ten minutes considering spoiling my ballot paper but ultimately I did vote Conservative albeit with huge qualms. People can debate what democracy means until the cows come home. Since the result of the referendum, I knew that democracy meant to me honouring the outcome. It overrode everything else. I wasn't scared of Corbyn or as critical of him as many were. I did think that the extent of Labour promises was unreal.

I really didn't like a number of aspects including the anti-Semitism thing. But I am prepared to accept that he has won the argument in a way. Not in his own party but in politics generally. Time will tell just how much or how little the Tories will put into our services but at least his arguably extreme position pulled them across into a position in which they did have to pledge more money for the NHS. I am obviously disappointed that yet again we have an old Etonian at the helm but I am impressed by some of his team including key figures "of ethnicity". I have a soft spot for Pretti and Saj. It warms my heart that people with their backgrounds should rise on merit to senior positions and I believe it says a lot about what I always wanted of Britain. I wanted a Britain in which identity was never denied but never turned into a battleground.

Being the person I am, I still believe that there are good people on all parts of the political spectrum. The aberrations of many at the top in all of these years have often been gut-wrenchingly disappointing and upsetting but I do believe as I always did that more than 50% of our politicians have intentions which are good. However, of all elections, and after a three year period which most would regard as having been horrendous, I am aware that my heroes, of which there were as many as in music and sport and comedy and coming from every possible political perspective, have long gone. Died.

I feel loss with this. I was someone who needed in adult life to have people to respect and look up to and at times I hoped that some would come to respect and even look up to me. But there was in this no sense of power gaming. It was like a see-saw in which there would be a natural balance. Along the way, I did have enough social interaction to be able to comprehend what is meant by an equal sort of relationship. But where I shied away from that concept was in the area where it often seemed to me that in such equality there was more punch and more competitiveness and more spitefulness and more "My Dad is better than your Dad" and I found that tough especially as we entered the 21st Century. I wanted in any middle ground a sense of congregation looking up at something higher than we all were for hopefulness for us all.

I feel I know where the Conservatives think they are going from this point onwards. Whether they do is anybody's guess. Much of what they are anticipated to deliver will need to be delivered almost in spite of themselves. I'm not sure they can do it. I regard Johnson's eight year tenure as London Mayor as neither good nor bad but actually rather underwhelming. And something about which I am acutely aware is how overwhelming are the challenges facing all of us. Our future relationships with the EU and the rest of the world - I hope that we can get a good deal with both of them but also reach out considerably wider globally; the future of the UK when quite clearly the current outlooks in different parts of the UK are so wide ranging; and especially perhaps climate change where key battles are not to be won in the EU but worldwide.

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A Horseradish

  • Monday 23rd December 2019, 10:02pm [Edited]
  • United Kingdom
  • 6,954 posts

2016 to 2019 - 53 to 57 (vi)

But for the first time in my life, I feel like I am becoming an old man. I feel it in my body. I recognise that I officially retired unexpectedly in deeply traumatic circumstances - a trauma I will never get over emotionally - but it is only now at 57 that I feel that I have properly retired. To get up in the mornings is more difficult. So too actually is typing on forums. It is about to fade away. The stuff along these lines. I have served my ten years well enough to my satisfaction and from now onwards it is likely to be more down to the occasional dabble. One part - it also applies to a dropping off from present culture - is unquestionably political. Going forward, I don't feel akin to the political world as I did since the age of twelve and think it a young person's domain now. A lot of the bigger issues are too big for me. I can't see one team rather than another team having the best solutions. I don't think I am well placed to advise on present issues although I do think I have a lot to offer from a historical perspective otherwise I wouldn't be doing what I am doing at this moment at all. Whatever strengths there are in what I write comes from a knowing that I was never a dogmatist and always thought it through with care and openness and a willingness to show compromise in a spirit of harmony. I'm useless but believe the outlook was good.

Do I believe this is the end of the Labour Party? Not in the slightest and nor should I want it to be. It is quite possible when this century is out, it will have spent more years in Government than Opposition. But it will go through many twists and turns. It will wreck itself in full daylight regularly for such is its nature. I know it from history so well. And it may take a while this time, just as it has often done. Blair and Corbyn will be seen as historically relevant and nothing more. The next New Labour will be spun through an entirely different lens while maintaining its core values for new generations. Don't take notice of those who speak in the here and now. Balance requires its existence. This is Britain. It may need to incorporate the Greens. It may need to go big on high tech in the way that Wilson spoke of the white heat of technology. It may need to grasp nationalism so that it can offer a view of federalism but that will be no easy task. Perhaps the best starting point there is to start asking what happens when SNP and PC become unpopular as they because of time passing will do? Will it lead to a very righy wing form of nationalism? Yes, it probably will. But what of the Liberal Democrats?

They are tougher for me emotionally. They were my natural political home for so many decades. Now I have no natural political home and I never will do, The Conservatives will never be able to bridge that gap in my mind. But given that I am old, I have some doubts whether this matters much. One needs to comprehend the contexts although I feel I have explained them well, That requires adding a certain meat to the bone. Among the early strands of conviction was the knowledge that while the Attlee Government had been rather wonderful, and you should be told that the only reason why it didn't win elections in the 1950s was that the public saw it as being full of old, exhausted, men just as Corbyn and McDonnell could seem today, it was Lloyd George who had begun the Welfare State. It was a very modest start but nevertheless he was a star. And then George Dangerfield's "The Strange Death of Liberal England", published in 1935 which effectively wrote off the Liberal Party given the emergence of Labour power, which was a truism until Jo Grimond who was not without charisma rallied against before a resurgence most unexpectedly occurred under Thorpe and Steel in the 1960s and the 1970s as the unions were grabbed by capitalist money making. A kind of socialism turned upon itself.

I will just say this but, being me, I would do, I wouldn't I? The key word for me was "underdog". It might still be helpful in the years to come. As it happened and as previously explained, my father was as not unusual for his background and generation Labour leaning whereas my mother came from a family of working class Tories. As a kid in the 1970s, I could see in many ways how things just as now had gone wrong under both main parties and the Liberals when I look back were perhaps the voice of me the child. The child by definition is an underdog. I was certainly an underdog at my senior school. I could see that they were not supported by the majority of people. I also looked for something which bridged the differences between people and they seemed in their centre way to have that aim. That the literature which came unsuspectingly through my door was so insensitive to childrens' wishes was deeply unfortunate but it was probably an additional blow for not having come from the Tories or Labour. More traditionally, and certainly now, one might think of Labour as representing women rather better and Tories being the party more of men - they had a 19% lead among men in 2019 - and although that is the other way round from my background, it all essentially amounts to much the same.

On this basis, I believe that the Lib Dems have a hell of a lot of work to do, More so than the Tories and even Labour. I don't think that their mindset is anywhere near self-reflection - they so believe in their righteousness and this needs to change. I think they got stuck in this decade in adolescence. I know this so well because for most of my life I did. I can see it so clearly. Just as with me, for all of their intelligence and emotional well meaning, they have got themselves into a state. Once in Government between 2010 and 2015, they felt that they had to cave into austerity to show that they were adults. And the experience was so awful for them, they couldn't go back to being a child but rather did an "I know I'm right whatever most people want" and added words like "bollocks" to it while advocating dope to ease the pain of it all, I'm terribly sorry but it just wont wash. God knows where they are going on the EU. If we do leave, will they argue to re-join and signing up to the Euro? A vote loser if ever there was one. I think in contrast they need to rediscover in themselves the underdog real child and in their policy formulation apply a real adult understanding. Just chuck the adolescent out.

Obstinate and often frighteningly belligerent EU obsessive ideology aside - for which thank the merry hugely moneyed liberal kidults rather than today's teenagers although their offspring are chips off the old block - there is an irony. Economic centrism continues to be the only mature position economically. Even at this election, the Lib Dems were representing it. Had it not been for the EU thing, then Swinson for all of her evident limitations could indeed have prepared everyone for her to be the next Prime Minister. It is where many of the heads of the public and their purses have always been. So really, who knows? I was lucky enough a year ago to have paid off my mortgage. Other than my house, I have virtually no money. I expect to have to scale down at some point and release funds for bills. So what. That is life.

But I have to thank the politicians before Thorpe and to a lesser extent before Ashdown for that happening. Our generation was deliberately divided out between those who would benefit like the war generation and those who would be on their knees like many of our current youth. Politics - the politics of my years - was hellbent on making me the latter and somehow I bucked the trend with the legacy help of my parents via Macmillan and Attlee. These people were not Gods but they might as well have been. In intellectual terms, most epitomised by the Lib Dems, the current ones are half Goebbels and half Sid Vicious. Anyhow, good luck to them. Good luck to you all. I never believed in hormonal adolescence. I have only got where I am today by being a properly childish adult and a weirdly mature child who can see that everything else is a competitive capitalist conceit created by modern contraception. I'm now on Monkey Life. Paddington and other higher pursuits. It feels like the end to me. And having always been always right, it is the end.

THE END