Bristling Brock speaks out...


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The endless carping about what we should have done differently about this or that over the COVID response tells us something about what we, the British, have become.  In truth, it's not solely a shift brought about by COVID restrictions for it has been an evident trend for more than a few years.

We have evolved into a State of Whingeing Ninnies.  There is little else more polite that sums up the decay in our moral fibre as a nation.  It infects our declining cultural values, our weak and flabby attitudes to other nation states, our lapsed preparedness, nay, open-mindedness, to recognise and cherish the freedoms and values that once made this country the very foundation of democracy in modern history.  Such attitudes have imbued a state of contempt, complacency, even ambivalence towards our heritage, our national story and the events - both good and bad - that forged the way we developed and advanced.  Stoked by those whom we would describ as 'woke' or extreme leftists who idealise the notion of perfect socialism, we have even encouraged this appalling trend toward by our whingeing, our fear of being non-conformant to the woke agenda, and by our utter apathy.   It is a string of habits much welcomed by the minority agents provocateur who desire above all to create chaos  and the tragedy of all this is that those souls are steering the debate, the course, the strategy that underpin our governance.

We may not like this government or any other for some of the actions and policies implemented in our name.   That, unfortunately, is the price of democracy - not everything will suit everyone.  Whingeing and carping may have its place as a distinctly peripheral influence but woe betide we become the puppets of minority usurpers, manipulators and zealots who believe in the very antithesis of democratic governance, outlook and behaviour.   That is neither what our history made us, nor should it be the basis for the future as we re-assert our sovereignty in the world.


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Another extraordinary week in Westminster on top of an equally extraordinary time in Washington.   Has some divine string puller in the Cosmos suddenly awakened and decided to sort a few gremlins out here on this rogue planet, one might wonder ?

There is little doubt that the appearance of Covid upon our political, health and social scenes has caused an unprecedented amount of 'headless-chicken' syndrome.  Responses at every level have been driven by perceptions over truths and false beliefs throughout, yet one supposes that if any challenge suddenly materialises that has never been seen within living memory before the chances that your risk analysis has all the answers neatly prescribed with perfect mitigation measures ready to launch is a bit of an imagination stretch.   One doubts whether there is anywhere in the world where the responses have been even marginally better than here in the UK, except China.  Yet there is little in China or about China that inspires belief in anything they say. 

 Yet this pandemic has defined our governance for most of 2020.  It has distracted leadership from the other big issues of the day like Brexit and has opened up the very core of government to the influence of that breed known as 'advisers'.  Whilst the political leadership has been almost overwhelmed by the task of tackling the Covid pandemic, behind them there has arisen a layer of political 'advisers' who have, partly be default and partly by design, adopted the position of being the policy makers and strategists for the ongoing processes of government - almost like a subtle usurping of authority whilst the real incumbents of government face the barrage of Covid.   Maybe this was a natural or at least inevitable outcome given the extraordinary circumstances.  Yet now, almost on the eve of the final Brexit push, this layer of very clever - but possibly too clever - advisers have been purged from Downing Street.   We shouldn't overlook the fact that the breed existed long before Covid and operated with varying degrees of political success but it was Covid that swung the doors wide open to allow them to expand their influence and style upon the decision making machinery of Whitehall.   The departure of a handful of their leadership - suddenly and incisively -is  almost a visceral realisation by our political leadership that democratic governance is, for better or worse, a politically led dynamic rather than an autocratically led one.   Hasn't history ever shown this to be thus when autocrats, dictators and despots try to dominate the roost ?  As to who brought this visceral realisation about is largely academic - in the case of the Prime Ministers partner, such gossip is hardly new or that meaningful.  One can doubt whether there has ever been a political leadership that wasn't in some way influenced by wives, husbands or partners - to a degree, a healthy counter-balance to the rigid doctrines of Whitehall.  We need to move beyond the salacious gossipers and focus on that which really matters.

Downing Street will be a better place with a less ambitious core of advisers.  It will not be an easy transition and there will no doubt be further fallout to occur - but it will be the better position to be in if the new breed of adviser is more carefully selected and appointed.

Biden's success in the US elections will also occupy many minds.   As to what this represents across American society is not absolutely clear as both he and Trump polled very healthy numbers of votes.  The Reds and the Blues of America are still much divided and not settled yet into any acceptance of the political shift in Washington.  There also we are likely to see an upsurge of social pressure to shape the domestic agenda for politicians to grapple with as the partnership between citizen and government nudges ever closer.  In both our countries, we have seen an expansion of public interest in the political status quo - or perhaps we should redefine ' status quo' into 'status transformare', the shift from permanence to transformative change - as social issues begin to dominate much of the political agenda setting as we move forward.   It is happening elsewhere within the Western democracies also as the isolationism of governance is increasingly held to account by the public interest.  And for all this we have the media to thank - that ever expanding balloon of information, disclosure and immediacy that most of us are obliged to be drawn into.    One could imagine we have briefly emerged from one dark pit of covert governance and are now on the cusp of jumping into another dark pit characterised by a misinformed populace.  One wonders what the Cosmic string-pullers think of that...

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As the UK rather reluctantly, but with a resigned sense of it being necessary, goes back into a slightly less severe COVID lock-down there is an expanding recognition that this pandemic may not actually go away or move on but remain as a constant backdrop to our ability to manage the presence of this virus and live alongside it.   That may seem a rather well worn assessment - haven't we all along thought that COVID would be a long-term presence around our lives ?  Seemingly not so, for it would appear that a significant number of our populace have expected it to somehow eventually evaporate and disperse and that everything would go back to 'normal'.  At best we might see that as naivete amongst that segment of the population, at worst a signal of a poor level of government communication as to just how invasive and damaging this predator has become ?  Much criticism is levelled at government as to how and when it communicates to the wider population - and a good measure of this criticism is valid - but notwithstanding that, isn't it remarkable that there are still significant numbers out there who haven't yet grasped the fundamental dynamics of how COVID-19 is behaving and the consequent behaviour of those folk in the way they ignore or generally flout the social boundaries we now have ?   Is Bristling Brock really that surprised ?  Regrettably not.

The approach to Remembrance Day has become a disputed bit of territory in the national psyche.  With the new lock-down, public events are being kept minimal and as sparsely populated as possible.  Few will physically attend any ceremony.  Yet Remembrance Day has a presence in our national culture that defies the logic of this minimalism, especially when other aspects of lock-down are viewed as being contradictory and illogical.   This is a special moment in the nations life, it is symbolic, it is an emotional few minutes that touches most and reminds us that whatever tragedies have befallen the nation the sacrifices of many to uphold the continuance of what we fundamentally believe in is a sacrosanct matter to be respected - in full.  Let us hope the government will realise the need for an exceptional exemption - it would be a gesture that shows there is a compassionate element to even the most dire circumstances.

The US is taking political theatre to the extremes of our imagination.   With claims, insinuations and outright allegations of wrong-doing we observe a real-time flow of bizarre and often unsavoury insights into American divisiveness and social discontent.  With gun-toting 'bands of brothers' roaming around without any evidence of law and order being applied we allegedly see an election process that hardly marks their nation out as being a paragon of civility, freedom and tolerance.  Admittedly, the media always favours the unsavoury, so we should not be totally swayed into imagining America is still the Wild West everywhere.  Clearly it is not and millions of decent, proportionate and civil Americans must be seeing this circus of an electoral process as being the worst possible window to the world that they are being viewed through.   It is not an edifying moment in the political arena but it will pass.  But it'll no doubt make a few in high places wince with disapproval and wonder about the future.

Back in Britain we are exhorted to take some daily exercise during the lock-down restrictions.   The streets are one thing, but the open countryside peppered with suspended plastic bags of dog mess and discarded face masks, plastic water bottles and other detritus doesn't reflect upon us well at all.  It's hard to imagine quite what the perpetrators of this unpleasant and unnecessary discarding of mess and rubbish actually think about when they are doing it - but in truth, one doubts whether these folk think about anything other than themselves.  What a sad society we have become.