Well, here we are only a few hours away from Britain's technical departure from the EU. It's an important new start but the trail ahead will still have to be managed with care and consideration before we can truly be independent of EU attachments and commitments - but it's a new trail to enthusiastically follow.
There'll be those who are glad and those that are saddned by this important historical marker. The important consideration needs to be one of acceptance and building a new future as an independent sovereign state. It's not a new concept, history is littered with the stories of nations that have broken away and forged their own futures but this occasion is perhaps the only one in which an extremely fast changing world - socially, economically, politically and climatically - is the encompassing environment in which it is taking place. That in itself is a galvanising spur to develop, innovate and move progressively forward on all fronts.
Our country has been beset by social and industrial change that has left us divided and at odds with each other. Some of that is due to the pace of change and some of it is due to past neglects in investment and attention and the nation needs to address these deficiencies to bring about some level of regional parity. Britain is also a very different society to that of even thirty years ago and many of us have to grapple with those shifting sands in ways that often leave us a little baffled by the establishment of new norms, standards, values and outlooks that the current social trends are dictating. We may not like it all but it is a new benchmark which a progressive society almost certainly needs to adopt and adapt to - we all need to change our stance and viewpoint on a wide spectrum of issues. That shouldn't be to say that there should be universal acceptance of every new trend - that would be a folly and a road toward a more dissolute society, but we should always challenge, test and examine the impact of new norms and styles before judging them. Britain needs to change. It needs to move on, confidently and with a self identity and purpose. And the departure from the EU is the moment to grasp that confidence and wield it to the benefit of all of us.
Examining projects like HS2 for example does test our faith more than a little. Whilst we must strive to innovate and develop and balance those regional differences better, there are som ideas that plainly do not fit within the jigsaw. The current estimate on completing this adventure is well over a £100 billion now and by the time of completion may well be many billions more. The completion won't be until 2035 - so we might reasonably assume that to be more like 2045 in true functional terms. The technology is already bordering upon being outdated - by 2035 + it'll be antique. The benefit to the construction industry is clear - it is a huge engineering project that has obvious attractions if you are in that business, but to the regions of the West Midlands, the North-West and a tickling spur into the North-East have little credible benefit to be seen. Mr Schapps makes the grand declaration that it is not to save time in getting to London (still the epicentre of British strategic planning) rather it provides confidence and assurance that the rail network runs efficiently, on time and keeps everything moving - the usual bain of the commuter. The cynics would argue that it doesn't provide the regions with that London connectivity rather it provides London and the South-East the option to relocate to cheaper territory to the north and still be within commuting distance of the Metropolis, ie, the entire project is geared to assisting London and the South-East rather than the northern regions. The big northern cities like Manchester and Leeds will certainly feel the upswing of such a project, but that won't necessarily cascade around the region for the wider benefit. Bristling Brock can't help but feel that had we done this twenty years ago it might have had a meaningful outcome for the wider community - but now, with the timescale and cost that is being talked of, it doesn't have any shine to it at all. If there was a vote, BB would opt to spend that capital on other, needy projects with a keener return for the areas involved.
Caronavirus remains mysterious and currently beyond our medical understanding. I wish the techies involved in finding a vaccine all fortune. The one aspect of this that caught BB's attention, trivial in some respects but perhaps not entirely, was the reportage that Britons brought back from Wuhan will be landed at RAF Brize Norton in the south Midlands. We then plan to bus them to a quarantine hospital on the Wirral, 100+ miles north. Transporting potentially virus carrying people in an ordinary bus across half of England seems to negate all the extensive precautions against cross-contamination that we see the Chinese making. Surely there was an aifield closer to the Wirral than Brize Norton ??? Or is BB getting overly picky ??? Let me know.
Trumpy seems even more likely to escape the rigours of impeachment as potential witnesses decline to be examined under oath. What is the point of a legal process that cannot demand the testimony of witnesses who know something of what was going on in the White House ? The answer, of course, is the vested interests of power politics. Oh, if we could only rid ourselves of that one...