A proper legacy for Sir David

A kinder, more compassionate society where every individual has a sense of belonging and where we recognise that we have more in common than that which divides us.” That’s the vision of the Jo Cox Foundation five years after her murder by a Neo-Nazi white supremacist.

I don’t blog very often these days – mostly because a) so little winds me up and b) I have the CBA that marches hand in hand with advancing years and failing health. But too much has taken place in the last week not to comment.

What happened in Leigh-on-Sea last Friday was horrific. We’ll have to wait and see what (if any) errant nonsense is put forward by the perpetrator’s defence team. But with the possible exception of a genuine mental illness nothing can justify the killing of anyone who was going about their peaceful and lawful business, which Sir David Amess most clearly was. (In my book, the fact that he was a Member of Parliament does not add anything to such an egregious crime.) Such a senseless act will forward no cause. It leaves a family bereaved and mourning. Unfortunately it also leaves politicians scrabbling around trying to find a scapegoat. And there’s some real BS that needs to be challenged!

First is the argument that MPs need to be able to maintain the personal relationship with their constituents. The overwhelming majority of us will never have reason to approach our MP, and when we do it’s mostly by way of letter or email. I’ve never once needed or wanted to attend my MP’s surgery, but I accept that some people do. What I don’t accept is the idea that the surgery can’t be subject to security arrangements. MPs are quite happy with the idea of “in-need” constituents having to yell their personal details through an inch of plexiglass in a busy council housing office or a crowded outpatients department. And as our litigious society has forced many GPs to have a chaperone in order to carry out an intimate medical examination, I see no real reason why an MP can’t have a caseworker with them. (MP Stephen Timms was stabbed in May 2010, and he survived. His assistant disarmed the attacker who was restrained by a security guard until police officers arrived.)

Jacqui Smith, the former Labour home secretary and now chair of the Jo Cox Foundation, has said “Elected representatives have a right to be safe in their public life. ” I’d go one further and say that we all have a right to be safe, but most of us will have to make our own arrangements. Ms Smith then went on to say that “we all have a responsibility to treat elected representatives with respect”.  Perhaps the best place to start with such a novel idea would be the House of Commons.

In the UK we have the unedifying spectacle of MPs aggressively hurling insults at each other – not to mention the childish bear pit of Prime Minister’s questions. Doesn’t take much of a Google to find video of MPs spitting hate-filled venom at each other across the floor. Recently the Deputy Leader of Ms Smith’s own party declined to apologise for calling the Conservatives “scum”, saying she was using “street language” to convey her “anger and frustration” at the actions of the government. Hardly the language of respect. You reap what you sow!

It is disingenuous in the extreme to suggest that hostility towards, and abuse of, politicians is a new thing – and then to blame it all on Facebook and Twitter, the current all-purpose scapegoats.  Any student of history knows that that argument is utter bunkum and just deflection. The UK has a lengthy tradition of insulting and egging MPs – and worse. David Amess is the eighth serving MP to have been murdered since Spencer Perceval in 1812.  Irish Nationalists who murdered four MPs between 1979 and 1990 didn’t have Facebook or Twitter – they barely even had mobile phones, but what they did have was an idea.

Social media is a reflection of society – the main drivers of hatred have always been religion and politics. (See Blogarama ad nauseam on the evils of religion.)

There is so much toxicity in our politics and our elected representatives show little or no respect for each other. Monkey see, monkey do, and you only have to look across the Atlantic to see what happens when Pandora opens that box and a major political party effectively legitimises hatred.  The USA has torn itself apart and it will take a generation to heal, if it ever can.

The best monument to Sir David Amess would be for our politicians in the UK to put their own house in order, to learn how to disagree with civility, to set a decent example.

First, erm …

I’ve been watching a CNN series on First Ladies …

  • Eleanor Roosevelt – fought against segregation and then chaired the committee that produced the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
  • Jackie Kennedy – who showed such grace and style, restored the White House, but above all reminded us what dignity in adversity looks like.
  • Nancy Reagan – not my personal favourite, but she gave us the example of devotion to a partner and helped steer Ronnie into meeting Gorbachev.
  • Michelle Obama – another campaigner for human rights who, more than anything, gave a very human face to the White House.

Sort of begs the question – apart from putting up some bloody awful christmas decorations and wrecking the Rose Garden, what exactly did Melania do?

Coronarse Brexit!

This has been floating around the interweb for the last few days.

First thing to say is that it’s a parody account and not the real Ken Clarke, but for all that it was put to me that the point is still valid. Is it really?

Before we go anywhere else, what there is of an argument here presupposes that fruit and veg picking is an unskilled job which anyone could do – an argument which could only have been made by someone who has never had to do it. It requires physical fitness and dexterity and no small amount of skill. Yes, I know that the east end of London used to decamp to Kent every autumn to bring in the hops, but that only serves to illustrate the point.  Hop picking is now done largely by tractor, but it used to require skills not generally available in the workforce – not least the ability to work on stilts – and these were passed down generation to generation by families who usually went to the same farms each year.

The most recent circulation that I’ve seen of this tweet was from a Facebook group describing itself as “A page for those from (county deleted to maintain family peace) to promote the EU, and a reversal (or at the very least toning down) of the destructive ‘Brexit’ project.” I have no doubt, judging from the comments left underneath it, that they thought it was spiffingly good fodder, but I do doubt that they stopped to consider how much it contradicts a major part of their own cause.

The fruit-pickers in question are coming from Romania, which is an EU state and, as such, there is currently no power in law to stop them from entering – it’s EU law enshrined in UK law, go look it up. If, as was put to me, we could find 70,000 people within our current unemployed to go out in the fields, why do we still need freedom of movement?

Hell Hath No Fury …

… like an off-duty staff nurse trying to get some kip!

One of the side benefits of living on this estate is that we’re only 300 yards from a major hospital. That means that something like a third of the households here have a member who works there – the majority of them on shift. Most residents appreciate this which is why it generally remains a nice quiet place to live.

The new family at the half-way house at the end of the terrace faced the full wrath this afternoon. Karaoke in the garden followed by full-volume (c)rap music is not what we’re used to – and bass that can be heard over the noise of a jet-washer is definitely beyond the pale.

Fifteen minutes into this al-fresco “performance” and we witnessed the glorious sight of Sister Clarinda in full battle-colours – dressing gown and fluffy slippers – emerging from the flats opposite like a heavy cruiser under full throttle to launch a broadside of “just-what-the-fuck-do-you-think-you’re-playing-at” – the secondary armament instantly letting fly with  “I’ve-just-done-a-12-hour-shift”!

Much “terribly-sorrying” and we’ve returned to glorious quiet and can hear the birds again. Saves me belly-aching to the housing association!

The Trumpanzee

Defined by the Urban Dictionary as:

“an irrational and irritable assclownish beast that is completely immunized {hannitized magatized} to logic-or-reason, any-and-all negative facts-or-evidence concerning Trump, and remains a devout and mindless supporter of the buffoon.”

I think it’s rather an unfair expression – after all, chimps are quite intelligent and have empathy! However, I had the misfortune to try and argue with one of these the other night. It was like arguing with a robotic priest, but less rewarding – hence this the first of a series … Later on I’ll get on to his quite ludicrous claim that Trump isn’t racist, but first I’d like to correct the idea that he might be in any way trustworthy.

The Washington Post has been keeping tally of Don’s porkies. Back in January they recorded that during his first three years as President he had clocked up 16,241 false or misleading claims. And he shows no sign of stopping. This is just a brief summary of yesterday’s White House press conference:-

  • He falsely suggested the pandemic was not predictable when, in fact, the US intelligence community, public health experts and officials in Trump’s own administration had warned for years that the country was at risk from a pandemic, including specific warnings about a coronavirus outbreak.
  • He falsely said the testing in the US is “better” than any other country in the world. In fact, some of the initial coronavirus tests sent out to states were seriously flawed – some did not even work. The CDC had insisted it would manufacture the tests itself, creating further problems.
  • He tried to suggest that Obama’s handling of H1N1 was worse than his handling of Covid-19, when in fact Obama declared an emergency within two weeks of a first confirmed US case. There is currently the hastag 70days on Twitter, that being the time Trump wasted downplaying and denying the virus.
  • He falsely said airline passengers were getting tests upon landing, which is not true.
  • He attacked the inspector general report about testing shortage as politically motivated from an Obama appointee, when in reality, the official behind the report has had a long career with the non-partisan office.
  • He also said the country would open “sooner than people think”, even as health officials are warning of a gradual return from current restrictions.

Six more to add to the total! Most serious commentators are now so used to his systemic and almost casual dishonesty that yet another lie on top of thousands barely warrants a mention. What mystifies me is the rapture with which the Trumpanzee will accept his word almost as gospel.

We live in a time when almost everything Trump says can be easily and quickly fact-checked, but they still “follow the gourd” even to the point of putting their lievs at risk ingesting medicines unsuited to treatment of Covid-19 becuase Trump said it was OK.

Josef Goebbels would have been so jealous.

Coronarse Virus 4

I didn’t write this – I nicked it off Facebook, but I wish to state my unreserved admiration for our health-care professionals and fully to be associated with the final sentiment:

“Did you wake up & cry because you have to stay home another day?
I woke up & cried because I knew what I had to witness today at work.

Are you “bored”?
Come hang out with me for 5 minutes.. I promise you’ll be so scared, you’ll forget you were ever bored.

Do you miss your friends?
Imagine how much more you would miss them if you were isolated and alone in a hospital bed.

Imagine wearing masks so tight to your face that it hurts after hour one but you still have twelve more to work. Your skin is literally breaking under the pressure.

Imagine not being able to have a drink of water because you can’t take your mask off.

Imagine only peeing twice a day on your breaks because there simply isn’t enough time for you to leave the floor.

Imagine sweat dripping down your face inside a mask, whilst simultaneously steaming up your protective Google’s- all whilst trying to frantically help someone to breath.

Imagine being so scared for 13 hours of a shift, then witnessing the sheer terror on your patients face as they struggle to breath, even with a machine forcing oxygen into their bodies.

Imagine having to tell loved ones their family have been put on a breathing machine over the phone. And things are not looking good. Them knowing they can’t come and comfort them in their hour of need.

Imagine reading a message from someone’s spouse begging them to be okay, because they simply cannot live with out them.

Imagine crying your eyes out at work because everything and everyone is so overwhelming.

Imagine crying for the entirety of your journey home, and for many hours after you get home from the sheer weight of what you’ve witnessed.

Stay the FUCK home.”

Coronarse Virus 3

Found this on Facebook – some really sound advice!

“Make no mistake. When loved ones are removed from your home by ambulance because the virus has hit them hard, you are not going to be able to follow them there, sit by their hospital bed and hold their hand. You are not going to be able to pop in at 7.00 pm for visiting hours. They are going to have no one other than exhausted and brave hospital staff to see them through days or weeks of barely breathing through a ventilator until they either die or recover. They are not going to be well enough to text you.

You are not going to be able to phone the ward to check in on them regularly (staff will be too busy for that). During that time, they will be completely alone, while you sit at home waiting to hear whether they have made it through.

Imagine that person is someone you love dearly. Because it’s going to be a reality for many in the coming weeks.

And if that person in hospital happens to be you, going through that ordeal completely alone, it would be nothing less than terrifying.

Never in my life have I wanted so strongly to say that if anyone is not feeling even a little afraid right now, not only for themselves but for their loved ones and others in general, then they are a bloody fool.

Don’t be a fool stay safe !!!!”