Let's kick-off with the latest government resignation. The Sports Minister (quite what they would be responsible for is unclear), Tracey Crouch, has done a dignified thing and resigned on a point of principle - the deferment of the reduction in stakes with fixed-odds betting machines. Philip Hammond had a devious hand in this insofar as he delayed the legislative start of the reduction until October next year. Ms Crouch passionately declared that this would impact upon poor householder debt and potential suicide rates whilst the government sat smugly on its betting levy revenues. BB is inclined to agree with Ms Crouch. It was a transparent and shameful element in Mr Hammond's budget speech, but it further underlines what our Conservative government cares about most. And that is not anything to do with the common folk of this land.
On the subject of Tory elitism, BB notices that a certain David Cameron wishes to make a come-back into mainstream politics - perhaps as Foreign Secretary or some global ambassadorship, he suggests. Well, I have to give points for the utter confidence of his arrogance. He clearly thinks much of himself and his appeal to British citizenry. On the flip-side, I wonder why anyone would be enthused by this proposition - BB cannot think of anything particularly noteworthy of the Cameron premiership era and this was capped by the rapid exit after the 'failed' referendum on Brexit when he clearly thought that was a can of worms he didn't want to have to manage. Go back to your Etonian after-dinner speaking, Mr Cameron. Let those who are prepared to hear you, pay for it; but that should not include the British public.
Fracking is much in the news at the present. BB has mixed views on this topic for it represents both an interesting technological shift as well as a deservedly cautious and even hostile reaction from both public and ecological pressure groups. It's reported today that Cuadrilla's only functional site between Blackpool and Preston is actually starting to pump gas despite the interrupted drilling processes caused by small earth tremors over the last week or so. I suppose it begs the question as to whether the government think that the expansion of fracking sites around the country will yield a significant fossil resource to assist our ailing energy sector or whether their attitude is one of, '...we haven't any better ideas to improve our energy supply right now, so let's just see what happens with fracking...' It additionally begs the question of why the government are backing a fossil resource project at all - aren't we supposed to be moving away from fossil energy ? Which begs my last assertion that the government really have no coherent energy plan for the future and are backing anything that might save them some political face. Negative, you might say....but what other explanations are on offer to justify the liberal approach to licensing requests that will inevitably be the consequence of Cuadrilla's announcement today (though I suspect a dwindling share price in Cuadrilla might have had something to do with the timing of this announcement). All-in-all, BB is suspicious of government motives here. Disruptive to the civil community and with no hard science behind the geological consequences of fracking, this programme has all the hall marks of a botched job - but BB is also guessing that when the crunch comes and buildings start crumbling, there won't be a single government minister in sight.
As a male of the species, it's getting tiresome to be endlessly subjected to a constant barrage of anti-mysogynistic verbosity blasting out from every media source. There are clearly some genuine circumstances where men have taken excessive advantage over women and it is right that that level of behaviour should be corrected. But as with any vehicle for public expression, there are many jumping on the bandwagon and claiming harassment here, there and everywhere. So it was encouraging to hear two senior police officers - both women - putting some boundaries to what constituted a sex crime, or harassment or even a so-called hate crime. Some of their concerns stemmed from a more parochial mission to highlight the under-resourcing of the police service, but alongside that there was a clear reference to the limits of what the police might regard as being 'actionable' - a definition of common sense. And common sense has been lacking in this whole matter. The genuinely harmed have had their cause hi-jacked by the gratuitous opportunism of the many - the mob has taken over from the worthy cause. And neither the law nor public opinion should be manipulated in this way. And where has the government been throughout ? Absolutely nowhere.
Trumpy is preparing for the US mid-terms next Tuesday. If he loses control of the House of Representatives then he's got a sticky wicket to play and his first presidential term may be his last. In terms of foreign relations I doubt anyone could imagine Trumpy has had much measure of success. Domestically, however, he has ticked a few boxes, not least in presiding over a booming economy, low unemployment and a trade policy that whilst geared to protecting American industry has had some measures of success (limited, to be granted). The red-necks love him, the military love him and that broad swathe of middle, rural America seem to love him more than they love anyone else. Yet politically he creates division, disharmony and failing loyalty amongst his close circle. It's almost a case of "The New Broom versus The Washington Establishment" as these two very different political camps try to establish ground upon which they can work. Trumpy has been partially successful, thus far. He's as disagreeable as anyone you'd choose to find, but somehow a few of the important things in American life are beginning to change for the better. The Washington establishment can't say any of that. BB is no Trumpy convert - but he'll keep an eye on the space.