I see that Nigel Farage is to have a meeting with Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator. It’s not clear whether this was at Mr Farage’s instigation in response to the recent meeting Barnier had with Nick Clegg, Ken Clarke and Lord Adonis or whether something more intriguing is behind this. Clegg, Clarke and Adonis are, of course, fervent Remainers and are blatantly keen to whip up as much disruption to the Brexit negotiations as possible. Mr Farage thinks the debate should be more balanced and a Leaver viewpoint positioned. He’s quite right and it raises the disturbing question as to how the Three Musketeers were permitted to have the discussion with Barnier in the first place. Did the government approve that ? One might seriously speculate that they did and if so, to what purpose ? Regrettably, thinking good and noble thoughts about the government is something that seldom occurs to me nowadays for they have behaved in such a poor manner over everything from defence, security, universal credit, grammar schools, healthcare, social services, overseas aid, taxation, public sector investment, finance, banking and their own in-house conduct that it is extremely hard to imagine them making a just and proper decision on anything. As for Brexit, I can well believe that the Musketeers meeting had an ulterior and shady government motive (remember that Lord Adonis, the only Labour Musketeer, is estranged from his Party) that we can only ponder upon. Good luck to Mr Farage - a lone voice at the forefront of 17.4 million voters - reviled as he often is, he is the only fighter for Britain that I can see on the front line.
Michael Gove is promising to keep our farmers subsidised at present EU rates for the next five years. Okay, you might say, there’s some logic in that to ensure our land, it’s husbandry and productivity are sustained and even grown as we become more globally independent. The one thing that troubles me was the revelation that almost half the subsidies from the EU to the farming communities around Europe - including Britain - are based solely upon the very basic principle of land ownership, ie, farmers receive almost 50% of their subsidy income from just owning the land, whether that land is doing something or not. Quite apart from the fact that I’m more than a little sure that many farmers do not actually ‘own’ the land they farm, this is an extraordinary financial bombshell. We pay out vast sums of money to support, in many instances, no return. If we could see a thriving farming industry that was invested in properly and encouraged like other businesses to grow and develop then there might be a point but our national propensity is to import what we need, ignore the home grown product offering and leave land doing nothing. Now I’m all for plenty of green space out there and I regularly tramp over it for outdoor pleasure, but it is striking to see how much enclosed land there that is actually bereft of care, management and basic husbandry, rough land, poorly drained land, coarse land - call it what you will - which the EU and now Mr Gove are actually paying the farmers for. If Mr Gove’s intention is to encourage the proper management of this land then I’d support him; but is our farming community up to that task ? It’s been a decaying industry for decades (sadly) not least because of our national buying habits, retail power and our lack of inward investment in our own nation. I applaud Mr Gove’s possible intent here but this is a task, like that in many other industries, of trying to bring life back to something that’s already half dead - and that half death has been precipitated by government apathy and inaction for the last half century.
It seems that world economies are doing well and stock market values reaching record highs. Confidence, better than expected GDP growth and the re-establishment of the Chinese economy in particular seem to be driving this elevation of financial fortunes. I wonder if that includes Britain ? I’d like to think so but there’s that nagging feeling that our own financial management isn’t quite as savvy as that of others....or am I wrong in imagining that ?
In Trumpland we continue to see the extraordinary being exceeded by the even more extraordinary outbursts and behaviours of the president. The fracas with Steve Bannon was always going to be nasty - for that is the Trump way - but we now hear more of the revelations from Michael Wolff’s New book on the Trump phenomena, none of them in the slightest bit complimentary about the president but causing a reading sensation on the very first day of the books publication. As usual Trump responds with his highly vocal mouth and his illiterate finger tweeting in ways that do make the world imagine he is barking mad. The very thing he wishes to thwart - Wolff’s book - is magnified globally by his absurd reactions. To be a fly on the wall when this fellow is holding court would be a priceless thing indeed - I suspect the mixture of horror, dismay and utter incredulity we, as such a fly, would observe might drive us and any other fly’s quite barking ourselves.