After the PM's justifiable response to the nerve agent attack in Salisbury we have the tit-for-tat news of expulsions of 23 British diplomats from Moscow. That was surely to be expected as a first phase retaliation by the Kremlin. What more they will do we will have to wait and see. But whatever they do, Britain must not waver in its resolve on this matter. Russia has deliberately set itself on a course to antagonise, insult and threaten many nation states in its quest to be seen as a rejuvenated power to be feared. And fear is the key word here. The role of the super-power - we might argue - is, yes, be powerful and responsive to world threat but with this power exercise judgement and action in a manner appropriate to the threat to all nations. If you want to be a super-power, some global responsibility and commitment come with the job. Russia, in contrast, wishes to demonstrate its credentials as a rejuvenated super-power but has no interest in benign global policies or any accountability for the actions it may take. As ever, Russia is a bully. As ever, Russia is a dangerous, loose cannon.
Yet Britain must continue to dismantle as much criminal Russian financial activity in this country as it can. It is no secret that whilst the Kremlin pours vast amounts of money into military and subversive projects the majority of people in Russia are not doing that well outside of the big metropolitan cities. And, as much of that metropolitan wealth stems from criminal activity the more we can curtail the laundering of these ill-gotten gains through our own financial institutions the better it will be for the rest of the 'moderate world'. That action will have some push-back on the PM as the financial sector has, despite causing crisis after crisis by its behaviours, been seen as the political golden egg that can, if it chooses, take its cricket bat home and set up play elsewhere. This should not deter any decision to crack-down upon criminal money laundering. The reverence held in the minds of some about the value of the financial sector must not take precedence here - if for no other reason than acknowledging that whilst that sector might earn this country a lot of money it has also cost this country a lot of money. The so-called experts have failed quite miserably time and again and our pandering to these institutions must not get in the way of our proper and justifiable response to wrapping up criminal loot.
Trumpy is at it again. This time it is Andrew McCabe, deputy director of the FBI is fired two days before he officially retires because the obsessive president thinks he has a Democratic bias. Trump used his toady Justice Secretary, Jeff Sessions - who has as much legal credibility as a toad might have - to swing the axe and then, utterly predictably, launches a Twitter insult upon the victim. Whatever the rights and wrongs of McCabe's position, this is no way for a president to act. His vulgar, inconsistent and petty minded actions do him no credit and it is as worrying that he heads a super-power as it is that Putin heads another wannabee super-power. Neither are fit for the role. Wake up, America !
And what of Brexit - amazingly sidelined this last few weeks ? It has been a good time for government to make concessions to the EU without the media spotlight noticing too much, notably in the agreement that the Brexit transition period should technically cease at the very end of December, 2020 when the EU budget period concludes. It's been mooted by the EU for a while but ignored by Britain who have wittered on about 'at least two years, possibly more'. December, 2020 is a logical break-point - Britain's financial obligations cease with the finality of the EU's seven year budget and there ceases any possibility of a hang-over into a new budgetary period where Britain would have to commit to a further seven years of assorted financial contributions. But let us not forget that some member states in the EU have supported Britain in its arguments with Russia - France and Germany in particular - and that is a concession on their part to show that they also do not like the burgeoning aggressiveness of the Russian state. In some matters we will all be Europeans, but in political and social matters we will not be party to that ideology of European federalism. There's nothing fundamentally wrong in that distinction - for we all are a little bit different - but we are all seeking sensible co-habitation of the planet.
And lastly, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, I see that there is a campaign to issue menopausal women with an 'M' badge to signify that their behaviour in public may be a little, shall we say, remarkable. I'm all for badging. How about an 'OG' badge for old gits who wish to get up to mischief or a 'B' badge for bankers to flag up their innate sense of superiority (and to identify them to OG's who might wish to tie their shoe-laces together) or even 'P's to dually signify plonker politicians. The list could go on and on. Let's all invest in badge making company's - we need a new growth industry.