Bristling Brock speaks out...


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When Trumpy pulled out of the INF treaty with Russia last week he possibly thought that Putin would come begging for some re-negotiation of the terms and get a new treaty up and running.  Quite the opposite.  Putin has poured scorn on the American action and it has become something of an after dinner joke in Russian circles to jest about what the Americans think they are up to.

Whilst we are not directly involved - Britain's nuclear deterrent ceased long ago to cause any concern in Russia or elsewhere - the fact remains that this is a serious matter brewing.   With two strong nuclear powers creating face-offs like this we should all regard this with concern.  Trumpy may castigate Europe for not spending enough on its defences or in its support of NATO - which we don't by American standards of expenditure - but in truth it suits the US very well to have Europe as a choice slice of meat in the sandwich between the Russians and the North American continent.  It gives Trumpy latitude to make provocative statements and actions whilst knowing that Europe would be the first region to feel the brunt of any future conflict stirred by his inanity.  On the Russian side, I doubt Putin gives much thought or consideration to Trumpy's bluster - his phlegmatic, stand-offish and arrogant manner contrasts markedly with the brash, second-hand car salesman tactics of Trumpy.   Both men are exceedingly dangerous and unstable and both, unfortunately, have excessive nuclear arsenals.

The United Nations will be of no use in reconciling this latest spat between two bulldogs - the Security Council veto's will ensure that the UN remains toothless to intervene in any meaningful way and it is equally doubtful whether the censure of both the US and Russia by other nations will have any effect whatsoever - words, words, words but very little in the way of constructive conciliation.   This all sounds really gloomy - and it is - so we must hope that these two powerful presidents will recognise the need to talk rather than jab fingers on red buttons.   Cold War 1 reached a position of detente; we need Cold War 2 to get back to that position as quickly as possible.

On the domestic front the steamroller tactics of government with the extension of universal credit hit the headlines repeatedly.   It does seem to suggest that having created a mechanism for universal credit to combine multiple benefit payments the government are intent on pushing it out across the country without much regard for the changes this system entails and the hardships it imposes on certain members of the benefit community.   It's highly controversial as a mechanism but that isn't stopping the bureaucratic implementation of a system that is clearly not yet fit-for-purpose.  Is this a sign of government desperation, a lack of ability to amend and modify the system or to just acknowledge that they've backed the wrong horse in the options to bring benefit payments into the 21st Century ?  I suspect it's a bit of all these possibilities, especially in a government so mired with fear, indecision and weak leadership.  BB doesn't particularly want to bring this government crashing down - for that would herald the spectre of an even worse Labour administration - but we do have governance by diktat at this time, little consultation with 'real'people, little spacial awareness of the social structures of the country and a parliament riven by a host of divisive issues that do not have domestic policy at the forefront.  That divisiveness is perhaps understandable with Brexit matters consuming infinitely more government time than it should have done - and Brexit is an important shift in our foreign relations that requires some time being spent upon it - but the divisiveness stems more from a sense of political survival than it does from a sense of national interest.  And Universal Credit looks just like a political gambit.   Ill thought through, ill prepared and ill judged - a mismatch being pushed in the belief that it will detract from other pressure points.  What a mistake !

There's also a furore over whether Sir Philip Green should have been named in an assortment of sexual harassment allegations.  We can't shake this one, can we ?   Wherever we look there is a new allegation, a new finger pointing, almost as if it has become open season on revealing past episodes that are aimed at destroying reputations, characters and lives.   I have no liking of Philip Green, he is not the sort of person I'd invite to dinner, but the principle of public exposure by un-named accusers is wrong.  In this instance it has reached a political level with a senior Tory having revealed the details of the accused's identity.  But we run the risk of flouting the rule of law by which our democracy lives.   That has a fundamental principle as its bedrock - until proven guilty, the accused shall be deemed innocent.   It was written into the Magna Carta over seven centuries ago, and the principle still holds water.

And talking of the Magna Carta, I see that some crackpot tried to steal one of the four remaining copies of this famous legal document from Salisbury cathedral.  Fortunately there were several onlookers who decided this wasn't on and restrained the would be thief.   Just imagine the uproar that might have occurred in the US if someone tried to steal their Declaration of Independence.   Here in Britain, its a trivial tid-bid of news on page 6 of the papers - does that reveal something of our British regard for both historic and legally important documents, I wonder ? 

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