Several topics catch my eye today, regrettably none of them festive, but we can continue to look for something cheery tomorrow, perhaps.
The first thing to stir my ire is the report that the army - that’s our British army - have spent over half a million on trying to rebrand themselves ! This is perhaps the most ludicrous, ill advised and patently irresponsible spend of taxpayers cash imaginable. Their ‘experts’ deemed the current logo as being ‘dated, elitist and non-inclusive’ and therefore urgently in need of a re-vamp and a new image. What utter rubbish. The army isn’t some sort of glorified social club where pandering to minority positions on political correctness is thought to have value - this is the army, for goodness sake, a highly valued institution that should certainly be aware of social and political norms but not in any way subservient to them. We depend on these people to uphold our defence and defend the values we cherish, but we should never, ever, let them become so politicised with social clap-trap as to in any way diminish their value and, equally significantly diminish their operational capability. And let us be under no illusions. Bowing to politically correct standards and behaviour styles will diminish our armed services. Let’s have no more of this tripe and let the army concentrate on its core purpose.
In Trumpland the UN, very much under the thumb of US political manoeuvrings, has imposed new sanctions upon North Korea that will, amongst other things, reduce the amount of fuel available to that country by something approaching a 90% reduction. It appears that all 15 members of the UN Security Council voted in favour of this - so that includes both China and Russia. The very thought of North Korea invokes all manner of images and fears in many people and there is little doubt that some of their behaviours are, to us on the outside, acts of provocation, madness and even craziness. Why they do these things is incomprehensible to us in the West but if we accept a measure of madness and almost feudal dynastic ambition as just being something that goes on in North Korea then the other, less obvious reasons become a little clearer. For over a century, Koreans throughout the peninsula have been vassals to one foreign country or another - Japan, the USSR as was, China, the US and probably several others with minority interests. Politicians - not Korean ones - created the divide between north and south in the early years after WW2 and painted the imaginary 38th Parallel on the map as being some sort of significant position. The USSR controlled the North supported by the Chinese, the US controlled the south - this was the time when the Cold War was developing and global geo-political struggles for influence were occurring around the globe. A war ensued in which the civil populations were the main losers, as ever. And that war continues today, way beyond the ceasefire that was agreed in July, 1953. But always, foreign influence prevailed. Today, China has been North Korea’s biggest benefactor but has now agreed to penal sanctions against them under a UN flag. In some part it is no wonder that North Korea has striven to become its own identifiable state; we may well question the methods, but the world under its UN cloak of anonymity has played a big part in bringing both the dynastic obsessiveness and the nuclear ambition of North Korea into being.
Back home, Boris is again making noises that our relationships with the Russians should be far more friendly and collaborative. Nothing wrong in principle with that as far as I can see but it does raise some questions as to how ‘real’ any such improved relationship might become. There is no question that Russia wants to expand its global influence and seemingly takes a good measure of mischievous delight in poking its fingers into other nations state affairs with a view to sowing discord. And Russia has ever been so throughout history. If Boris really does want to improve our relations with Russia, I do hope he is wise enough to realise that there will always be a hidden agenda and that what appears to be so may not always be actually so. Good luck with your attempt, Mr Johnson, but be wise and savvy at the same time.
Mrs May is exhorting us to take pride in our Christian heritage this Christmas. It’s about time. This is a long overdue government declaration and whilst it should not be seen as any sort of threat to those practising other faiths it is nevertheless important to lay down the marker that we are a Christian nation by heritage, value and belief, and have been for well over a thousand years. This is not something to dismiss as petty or old fashioned, it is part of what we are. And that Christian outlook embraces those of other faiths with friendship and tolerance - that is our way. But at the root of this let us not forget what and who we are.
And finally, a thought about our poor old cricketers, sunning themselves nicely in Australia. We’ve already lost the series and the Ashes with two more games still to go - and I won’t be drawn here into what I think of our performance in that - but we now hear of acid comments and critiques of Australia’s forthcoming team by English team members as to make this a grand case of sour grapes. England could well do to reflect on its own cricketing shortcomings before making disparaging remarks about Australia’s - it serves our nation not well at all to have continued poor behaviour by our so called standard bearers.
Enough. Merry Christmas to anyone who cares to read all this chunnerin.