The leaked government prediction of various post-Brexit scenarios yesterday has caused a flurry of denials amongst government officials. These have ranged from accusing Brexit wreckers of deliberately causing mischief (I'd call it something stronger than that) to declarations that Whitehall predictions are always wrong ! Whichever way it is viewed it is a cock-up.
MP's have now pressed the government into officially releasing the document to the Palace of Westminster - but not the wider public. On the one-hand we have conspirators (which we all well know exist in those gloomy Westminster corridors) who have 'obviously' acted in a way as to score points in the 'Kill Brexit Off' stakes whilst on the other hand the minister responsible for the documents proper security has blithely told the world that these things are always wrong anyway so what's the fuss ? Me thinks he may be missing the point as well as seriously upsetting a bunch of civil servants who've clearly been wasting their time putting the thing together.
As we blogged yesterday, the damage is not so much in whether it was a truthful document or not but in the collateral damage to this country's international reputation and ability to negotiate fully and effectively. Now I'm the first to jump up and down and say that this government isn't the right animal to be negotiating Brexit - they have neither authority (even more bruised after this leak) nor will, nor capacity to negotiate the best deal for Britain. And to get the context right, a Labour option would be no better. But I very much doubt the PM will concede that - after all, she has told the world that 'she is not a quitter', so we will muddle through the remaining time to March, 2019 and end up with a dogs dinner of an outcome. And that's partly due to us - the electorate - being broadly apathetic towards the barmy'ness of Westminster and Downing Street. We disagree and groan but we don't actually go beyond that and force change. As a result, we get the poor governance we deserve - because they can knowingly get away with cock-up after cock-up and trust in the electorates forgetfulness by the time of the next election.
Trumps 'State of the Union' address was, as predicted, script written and followed to the letter. For Trump it was quite an achievement to actually stick to a script, so well done, Mr President. But the Democrats were pretty po-faced about it all and felt they were being somehow outflanked. Indeed they were. Trump may be all sorts of things we don't like but I'm sure the one thing he knows how to do well is to screw politicians. Come on, Democrats, you must do better than this if you're going to oust Republicans at the November mid-terms.
Carillion went into liquidation a couple of weeks back and now we see another public contract provider, Capita, issuing profit warnings and seeing its share value plummet alarmingly. This must be a significant further nail in the PFI initiatives that have been rolled out over the last decade or so. Plenty of senior execs have got very rich from it but the poor guys actually doing the work will be the ones to pay the price. Or will they ? Let us have high hopes of criminal prosecutions of knowing executives and let justice be seen to be being done - for a change.
Afghanistan looks to be again on the verge of collapse under the dark threat of the Taliban. It's a bit like a hydra isn't it ? Chop one head off and another one appears in its place - but I fear that the ANA has not got the wherewithall to hold this particular hydra back. Foreign intervention has not worked before and in an environment like Afghanistan is unlikely to work again - unless one foreign power or another gets really serious about eradicating the Taliban. And what might that lead to we may wonder ?
Lastly, the dear old Beeb is still up to its neck in yet more gaffs and inconsistent statements over gender pay gaps. It does make you wonder what it might be like to be a fly on the wall in some of their management meetings. Quite illuminating I imagine !