Thursday, 23 April 2020

It's Shakespeare's birthday!

I've not posted about the lock-down yet - well there's still plenty of time, if you're over 70. But I thought I would celebrate the Bard's birthday with some reflections on subtly hidden meanings within the text that they never told us about at school.  And of course a lot of the plays were written during the Elizabethan equivalent of Covid-19...

Wednesday, 19 February 2020

And the waters covered...

I've not posted a great deal about climate change; not because I don't care but it's not particularly funny.  OK neither is anything to do with BoJo but I've cartooned him just a few times.  Well last year I started work on a series of cartoons about climate change, and one of them was based on the old LNER poster advertising Skegness:

Of course this was deliberately exaggerated for the sake of emphasis; but then this week...:

This was in Shrewsbury yesterday.  Well you can still see some buildings (and the sun's not shining and The Donald isn't dancing around, but maybe we're heading in the direction of the carton.  Yet I've heard a number of locals round Shropshire, on the news and people I've spoken to, who still say this is just standard, the Severn always flood, climate change is just a fantasy of environmentalists.   I'm at a loss to know how we can get people to take this seriously...

Thursday, 12 December 2019

Yet another Christmas posting…

I’m writing this Christmas message rather earlier than previous years, but not because I’m becoming more efficient.  Far from it.  Had I left it – and the design of the cartoon accompanying it – till the usual date, it would have been after the election, and of course I'd have missed the Christmas post.  As it is, I write not knowing how it’s going to go.  Logic of a kind says we face the appalling prospect of five years of a hard right majority government (though who knows – his promised constitutional reviews may have banned elections in five years’ time).  Some polls are suggesting the gap is closing, and widespread talk of tactical voting may give me some reason to stay up beyond ten o’clock on election night. 

But either way, this has been, without doubt, the least inspiring, most cynical, general election in my lifetime.   There really is little for anyone who is trying to be satirical to add to what has already been said, and that’s just by the politicians.   Some highlights (or should that be lowlights) for me include Nicky Morgan’s insistence that the fact that 19,000 of the “promised”  50,000 extra nurses are already in post and would be retained nevertheless meant there would still be an extra 50,000.  Then there’s Swinson’s apparently sincere conviction that she was a genuine candidate to be prime minister.  Or the mysterious, and entirely welcome, disappearance of Rees-Mogg. But, to be even-handed, there’s Corbyn’s insistence that he, alone in the country, watches the Queen’s Speech in the morning, before it’s been broadcast.  And while we’re on the subject, the bookies are offering odds on whether she mentions Prince Andrew: this year if she mentions an ‘anus horribilis’, we know who she’ll be referring to.

And I haven’t even referred to Johnson yet.  Self-evidently a narcissistic buffoon, there is actually nothing amusing about him.  His lying has reached Trumpian proportions, to the point where it actually ceases to be lying as we’ve always understood it, now resembling what POTUS’ press secretary called ‘alternative facts’.   And the same approach to evidence and facts affects those who support him (or some version of his cause), who dismiss anything they don’t like as ‘fake news’.  The social media universe was flooded with apparently evidenced reports that the dreadful picture of the boy on the floor in a Leeds hospital was an invention from Momentum.  Even McLuskey couldn’t stoop to that.

There are moments when I genuinely fear the consequences for this country if Johnson’s sorry crowd get a working majority.  I used to conclude these posts by hoping the next year would be better than the previous one, though last year I changed that, wishing next year even shittier, in the hope I’d be proved wrong.  Sadly I wasn’t so I’m not risking any wishes at all for next year: let’s just keep fingers crossed that it’s not as bad as it might be.   

Thursday, 5 September 2019

No gunpowder – but treason and plot?

Johnson’s decision to silence parliament may be slightly more sophisticated than Guy Fawkes’ attempt.  But his attempt to constrain parliament’s ability to his government under review reflects his complete lack of legitimacy, as prime minister, and as champion of a no-deal Brexit. He presides over a minority government, support reduced by his hypocritical decision to remove the whip from his opponents. That he is only prime minister thanks to the votes of some 90,000 members of the Conservative Party hardly bestows great legitimacy. 

He’s attacked those seeking to rule out a no-deal departure for thwarting democracy by preventing the fulfilment of the ‘will of the people’.  But even setting aside the imperfections of the referendum (excess expenditure, the interference by a foreign power, lies on the bus etc), its result does not really represent the ‘will of the people’ in the way he suggests.  It certainly provides no mandate for a no-deal departure: Gove, Farage, Fox and others spent the campaign telling us how easy it would be to leave the EU with a terrific trade deal in place.  But it’s worse than that: despite a reasonably high turnout (72%) only 37% voted to leave – meaning therefore that 63% didn’t.  At best, the referendum offered a snapshot of the views of 72% of the electorate over three and a half years ago: and it’s a very different electorate today.  Since then almost two million people have died, and more importantly almost 2.3 million young people have attained voting age.  These now form part of ‘the people’ whose ‘will’ needs to be respected.  But since the polls suggest that there’s a substantial majority of remain voters among this group, Johnson is of course reluctant to seek their views, or indeed the views of any who oppose his no-deal Brexit obsession.   

He’s now belatedly pursuing an election as the only feasible way to secure his no-deal departure.  Meanwhile he and his government continue to show contempt for parliament through the action to prorogue, contempt symbolically demonstrated by the arrogance of Rees Smug during the recent debate, arrogance of which I’m sure Nanny would have disapproved.

Monday, 18 March 2019

Arlene Foster: undercover campaigner for a United Ireland?

OK so this post was supposed to have gone up on St Patrick's day, but better late than never...

According to this morning’s paper, the ten sectarian throwbacks who make up the Parliamentary DUP are trying to decide whether to reverse their previous concerns about the effect of the backstop on Northern Ireland and support May’s Brexit deal.  Ever since, in the wake of May’s unnecessary – and from her point of view, disastrous – decision to call a General Election in 2017, the less than magnificent ten have shored up her government, and together with the Raving Loony Rees-Moggsters, have wielded a veto over the whole Brexit process.  This was in return for a bribe from May (to the tune of £1bn), which, in the existentially cynical world of Westminster politics ranks up there among the most cynical.

We have heard a lot recently about the damage a second referendum would do; the Prime Minister said recently that it would ‘…damage social cohesion by undermining faith in our democracy.’    What about the threat to democracy the DUP’s privileged position in the power structure represents, given its status as a beacon of representative government?  Improbably, it’s no exaggeration to say that the future of this country is in the hands of these ten people (along with other Brexiteer ultras in the Provisional Wing of the Tory party), which is deeply disturbing when you examine the democratic credentials they bring to the debate.

In the 2017 General Election, the ten amassed between them approximately 296,000 votes – which represents about 0.6% of the British electorate.  The first-past-the post system brought them their ten seats (out of a total of 18), with just 36% of the vote.  Never mind that they count for less than 1% of the electorate, they don’t represent the views of Northern Ireland on Europe either.  The DUP are of course hard core Brexiteers; but in the referendum, the people of Northern Ireland voted 56%-44% to remain.  In their ‘negotiations’ with May, they really speak for no-one. Respect the will of the people – but not in Northern Ireland evidently.

The prospect of a no-deal Brexit has led to concerns about the possibility of a return to the Troubles, and a threat to the Good Friday agreement.    It’s not yet clear if the recent spate of bombs received in the UK and apparently sent from the ‘IRA’  actually represent some first steps towards a recurrence of the Troubles. 

But quite separately from that, a number of observers, on both sides of the (currently soft) Irish border, have speculated that a no-deal Brexit could lead, ultimately, to a United Ireland, firmly in the EU.  What a spectacular irony that would be – if Arlene Foster’s hard-line tactics led to the realisation of her worst nightmare! 

Lá sona Naomh Pádraig,* Arlene!

*In case you hadn’t guessed, happy St Patrick’s Day