Bristling Brock speaks out...


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This last week or so has seen something of an implosion within government, almost a visual case study in complete uncertainty, a classic 'deer in the headlights' moment of complete inaction.

Britain is at a crossroads - yet again - where the governmental choices it now makes will define whether it remains a survivable government or succumbs to the plethora of competing social and economic demands being made of it.   Add to this the appalling revelations of police mismanagement and delivery within the Met and Manchester's police authorities and we see another layer of decay that needs incising out and replacing very quickly.  Public confidence doesn't solely rest with government, but also in the institutions that form the pillars of society and their functions as part of the essential process of applying the rule of law and equitability.  And it is not only the police in the frame of public scrutiny, one could well add the cash voracious NHS and the entire social care system into that view of disquiet that is creeping into the base level public view.

This is dangerous stuff for any government.  It can surely see the growing circumspection with which it is now being viewed - even by those loyal to its ethos - and its lack of reaction to the range of issues - the economy, tax rises, termination of furlough and universal credit supplements, the drift to stagflation, social services, policing, energy crises, supply chains and essential food supplies, immigration, climate change, trade deals and the unacceptable behaviour of the French in the guise of the EU over fishing rights and generally just about everything else.  All of these need to be addressed by competent and organised government that actually has confidence in itself.   And perhaps that is the biggest ingredient missing, the ability to work together, mutually, with the national interest at its heart.  To us, the outsiders looking in, there seems to be no cohesion, common purpose or balanced thinking throughout government other than electoral posturing...'Keep on voting for us and we'll eventually come through all this !'   That is not a solution.  It is not a strategy to resolve these issues and it is not - in this world of infinitely available communication and messaging - an image that promotes confidence in governmental ability and resolve.

We don't want to join the usual whingeing mob that can do little else but complain but we do want to see a government that shows its mettle and ability to tackle multiple challenges.  That is what government is for - it serves no purpose by just sitting there and spouting inanities and posturing throughout meaningless and countless interviews where they've got nothing to say other than platitudes that serve only to irritate the electorate.   Language, whilst important, that uses nonsense phrases like 'Levelling up', 'Doubling down' and 'Equality for all' do not cut it with the thinking population.   Our people need to get into the real world - quickly.

Switching to Bristling Brock's undying love for the French, we might also see some parallels in inept governance there - as indeed we have seen in Germany also.  But let's stick with the French - that wonderful nation that applies its Gallic emotions in bursts of invective against the British and its 'Fifth wheel' status in their eyes.   One might suppose that after a thousand years of upsetting the French they are now trying to get their own back with their open hostility and frenzied paranoia over Brexit and submarine deals.  But it is a distraction is it not ?  By attacking us, Monsieur Macron deflects public opinion away from his own woes and possibly imbues his electorate with a sense of government that is actively challenging us bad boys over the Channel.  It remains to be seen whether Germany's Olaf Scholz follows in the same footsteps as Fr Merkel has previously done.  But the image is comparable - the attempts by senior politicians to point fingers and shout 'boo-yah !' to give the false impression of strength.

Maybe the world needs saving from such people.

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What a turmoil there is gripping the British government.   The added tragedy is that it isn't in the least bit clear whether the members of that government have any inkling of the situations they have blithely led themselves into.   Most speak in the platitudes of old Westminster vocabulary - meaningless, politically biased and ignorant of public opinion.  They think this is the correct response to the uproar of distaste that the British public are ever more loudly voicing about a wide host of issues - to which not a solitary member of the government are addressing in a positive and directional way.

Ranging from policing and crime to education to immigration to social care to foreign policy (is there one ?) to dare we even mention the hallowed NHS to the NI Protocol to HGV driver shortages, etc, etc - the list could go on ad infinitum - the government display a complacency of attitude that sends a really bad message to both Tory and Socialist alike - for all of these areas of governance are in disarray and crisis.  It's perhaps inevitable that politics plays a key part in this farrago if ineptitude and cocky posturing that seems to characterise this government - a government that should be thanking its lucky stars that its majority can carry most legislative acts through both Houses in the absence of any realistic Opposition.   What this cockiness overlooks is the public attitude; they see the lack of action, the Nelsonian eye upon the dangers ahead, the arrogance of government that believes a solid majority is the political licence and freedom to do what they like, behave as they wish.  But for how long ?  Woe betide the Prime Minister who doesn't see his electorates mindset and anger.  You may rule Westminster for the time being, Mr PM, but unless you give your government a massive kick up the backside and start reacting effectively to these countless challenges, you won't be ruling the country for much longer - and this from a blogger who voted for you !

On a more local level - yet one that is relevant to all regions of Britain - let us look scathingly at the planning laws in the country. BB is certainly no authority on this but has been witness to some of the inanities that comprise the planning procedures.   Let us start from the principle that the government want to build in excess of 300,000 new homes a year.  Some reasonable percentage of these should be affordable housing (isn't that what the housebuilding crisis is about ?) and their build locations - if empirical evidence has anything to do with it - is wherever there's a plot of land that some opportunistic land-owner/farmer has decided to cash-in upon.   This disregards so-called green belt land - did you know that 'green belt' has no legal status so its use can be trammelled by whichever developer sets eyes upon it ?  Brown field sites - of which there are plenty now that this country no longer has any volume manufacturing interest or capability - are poo-poo'ed by the developers because such land needs clearing and sanitising first - and that obviously minimises their gargantuan profits.  Shudder the thought !

The new builds - be they affordable (which most aren't) or middle-market - are based upon land where the developer has planning permission, a process made almost non-existent under the governments downscaling of planning laws.  On paper the developer has to take account of the local Council's Local Plan a building requirement projection that envisions a ridiculous span of about thirty years forward from now (BB's local authority don't seem to know what happened yesterday, never mind thirty years forward) and the Council have to take account of a local Neighbourhood Plan - usually a plan drawn up by concerned citizens on a voluntary basis to try and add some curbs and limitations upon what is built and where.  Inevitably, it all gets very complicated but in principle, after endless bureaucratic consultations and revisions the plan is given to an 'independent inspector' to adjudicate upon its legality and relevance.  But guess who the 'independent inspector' works for ?  None other that HM Government.  The result is that most recommendations that define building and area limitations are thrown out as being counter to government policy and planning regulations - and lo' and behold, building permissions are granted on an almost indiscriminate basis.   The spectre of bulky brown envelopes changing hands all over the place seems ever more likely to be the game in town to be involved in.  The losers in all this are you and I - the mugs who make up the electorate....

Add this indescribable break in public trust to the catalogue of failed policies, strategies and broken promises and we see a government that is failing through a mixture of arrogance and incompetence.   BB has no axe to grind in encouraging a socialist government - they would be an equal catastrophe for this country - but for Pity's Sake we need a government that has a firm hand on the tiller, using competent individuals with a brain between their ears rather than the gang of 'yes-men' that seem to inhabit Westminster these days.   Only we, the voters, can force the change but our collective nature is passive and BB fears that we are set on a course of inept governance for a while yet.   Prove me wrong !

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This now appears to be quite a global issue with uncertain and unpredictable responses from those who are able to and choose to vote for their governments. Not so long ago, there was at least a modicum of differentiation between the political parties and their aspiring leaders. Not so now. Look at the US - the relief of Trump being ejected has been replaced by the dismay that Biden encourages as he leans ever more leftward.

In France, we see the suave Monsieur Barnier now casting aside his EU bona fides and campaigning for the exact same things for France that he wished to deny the Brits when he was in the EU; Macron, the one-time pin-up of French progressive opinion makers has dug a hole so deep for himself that his political days ahead look inevitably numbered. Merkel and her successor in Germany could easily be described as 'not being present' when they should be.

We should perhaps also mention the Taliban in Afghanistan - as yet a very uncertain political presence - but fraught with potential danger and back home in Britland we have a government up to its eyeballs in controversy and angst. In all these cases and many more besides, the faith in governmental leadership is at a global low.

BB cannot remember a time when such a fractious and possibly dangerous view of governance - and by association, adherence to the common law - was being bandied about so freely. Resistance is fomenting everywhere, it is toxic and it is a sage reminder as to just how fragile and fickle the very processes of governance actually are. We should be wary - the next phase beyond this borders upon civil disobedience...and by then we really do have big trouble.

The British situation is curious. Tax hikes to address the recovery of the NHS healthcare system in the post pandemic time might ordinarily be seen as a necessary evil. But then look at the patient on the table - the NHS itself - an institution so large and unwieldy it should be described as clinically obese, an institution that has no control over what it spends and upon what - invariably non-clinical additional layers of fat and bureaucracy.

Seeing this patient in this condition should naturally cause every Brit to suck his teeth noisily - more money demanded ? Well, OK, it's a worthy patient to give resource to - or is it ? Until recently, most of us would have thought so, but now, with massing evidence of profligacy and wastefulness the wee taxpayer is beginning to quail. Add to this that any new tax revenue just goes into the 'existing' NHS pot and rapidly disappears - and then shows no added benefit to the customers who are paying for it - and the wee taxpayer has good cause to feel a bit put-upon.

The calamity in this is the lack of governmental leadership, leadership that exhibits poor judgement, little understanding of what it is asking the taxpayer to fund and wholly misguided strategies to raise tax revenue. It is nothing more than poor governance in spades. It is also a condemnation of government toward their understanding of the social layering of British society - with wealth and position being revered and over-rewarded but often populated by the least deserving and least talented.

Poor leadership in any institution is a killer condition. In a national government it is disgraceful. We deserve better.