The Brussels talks on the current Brexit circuit have come to an end with, as everyone predicted, no progress. There seems to be bad faith on both sides with emotional cries and recriminations flying about the public domain quite freely. As a layman seeing all this unfold my first thoughts are 'Why are we approaching this unique and unprecedented challenge with such stylised secrecy and obstinacy ?' The EU is a political institution run on technocratic lines and is led by unelected bureaucrats whose main occupation is the maintenance of that very institution across the 27 remaining nation members. They do not have the same thought processes, accountability or even the interest in the individual states affairs - everything has to be homogeneously uniform across all boundaries. And that is, in part, why Brexit has occurred, a majority vote by this country not to continue in such a union and to re-awaken its independence and vision for the future. Undoubtedly there will be difficulties, set-backs and tough times but the longer term benefits are there to be seized so long as we properly identify them and work at developing them. And to me, this is where our government negotiators are taking the wrong tack. They are treating the EU as if it was another government - which it patently isn't - and trying to engage in ping-pong diplomacy politics as their negotiating strategy. This will always prove negative as the EU have no negotiating position in themselves, only rules, strictures and fixed parameters of concern. In truth, they can be nothing else and we should engage them with definitive statements of action, quantifying that which is acceptable to the UK, and pushing the EU into either acceptance or at least consideration. Allowing the inflexible monolith that is the EU just to continue spouting its rule book back at us is an inordinate waste of our precious time.
Back home there are all manner of political intrigues afoot. In Scotland, there is a new Labour Party leadership contest, the previous incumbent having decided to go before she was pushed whilst, still in Scotland, we see a noticeable chasm between the Tory position north of the border to that being displayed in Westminster. Both these appear to indicate the still fractious state of our two major parties and the disconnect between north and south. To add to this, we hear of Westminster rumblings about the formation of rebel political parties that address the centre ground rather than the extremes of left and right and potential changes of Tory leader before the next general election. What goings on ! You'd imagine Westminster would have seen all this coming - but, alas, not. And there are visible reasons for this (as well, no doubt, as many other reasons which we are not privy to) as we see two leaderships of the national party's - May and Corbyn - both insecure and vulnerable in their own skins. I cannot remember a time when we saw the two major political entities led as weakly and uncertainly as we currently are experiencing - and this is both unacceptable and bad for our national affairs and our future international position. Business doesn't know what is going on in government strategy and is losing confidence and patience over future investment plans, big corporates are flouting the senior executive pay recommendations, rogue businesses and those with low social concerns are flourishing in the absence of accountability, the trades unions are bashing against a brick wall on austerity and low-pay, the electorate is witness to appalling Brexit negotiations that leave it far from impressed and our fundamentally important institutions like the NHS, police, armed forces, etc are being starved of the ability to recruit the best and operate to the public's expectations. In short, there is a lot for the government and the Opposition to attend to.
Elsewhere, I see Trump is back on form with his ambition to build the Mexican Wall, now having trial runs with various designs to see whether any of them can actually stop a migrant getting over, through or under it. What extraordinary affairs the Americans have got themselves embroiled with. With North Korea, the US and exhorting the UN to cripple the rogue state with punitive sanctions whilst demanding the Chinese take firm action against their neighbour (and let's not forget Mrs May piping up on that score whilst in Japan recently !). In Texas, the floods following Hurricane Harvey are still critically high so I would hope the president can find some time to allocate resource to helping folk out down there.
And lastly today, a bitter-sweet story of the two pensioners running riot in a Scottish hotel ! It seems that a married couple decided to rampage through the hotel - the husband naked (that must have been really shocking) - and both wielding scissors and cutting wires, breaking glass and forcing staff and guests out into the street in a wild few mad moments. There's no excuse for the damage and upset they caused and they have been duly penalised for it but it does make me smile a tad when I think of these two old souls, both a little worse for wear after some good measures of alcohol, going a little wild and frantic in public. I doubt the hotel has seen anything quite like that before and I wonder how many pensioners could actually equal the feat !