Bristling Brock speaks out...
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Let me today approach the eternal Brexit debate from another angle.
We've already had threats from Washington about Britain's intent to allow Huawei into our 5G network development (though Bristling Brock is dead against this for other reasons) which are blatently intended as a blunt declaration of future 'cooperation' being denied; we have the US now threatening Turkey that because they've chosen a Russian air-defence system there can be no sale of American F-35 aircraft to them (even though the US refused to sell them an air-defence system of their own) and that Europe, notably Britain, should back them in this squabble or suffer the further chance of trade deals being withdrawn or cancelled altogether. This is American diplomacy at its richest: 'Do as we want, or else we'll penalise you'. And you may wonder what this has to do with Brexit. Quite a bit.
Let us consider what even just these two examples illustrate. Britain will leave the EU in one form or another within the forseeable future. Whether that's with a deal or not is not the immediate question here, rather it is the way our relationships with other foreign states develop and the tone of those relationships. With the US - and remember how so many of our establishment imagine we have a special relationship with them - we are being bullied. Let's not be unequivocal about this, we are being bullied by the US to act as its puppet and do as it bids for the benefit of Trumps 'America First' policy. Whilst looking after your own as a priority has clear merits, achieving this by bullying smaller partners and dangling carrots that can be swiftly snatched away is not a satisfactory basis for Britain to move forward with. We may not be as economically or militarily as strong as the US but we have a sovereignty and agenda of our own that should not be dictated by or even influenced by the US. There is nothing wrong with having friendly relations with any country, but being friends doesn't mean we should dip and bow to every spasm of pique that they may throw our way. The last 3+ years have shown how Britain has bent its knee to the EU, giving, giving, giving all along the way for nothing in return. Friendship and trade require reciprocity and this country needs to toughen its positions against a world that views us currently as being spineless and manipulable - be that with the EU, the US, Russia or anyone else. We are the founders of modern democracy (such as it is), we are the architects of modern diplomacy and international relations (not always conducted as we would wish, perhaps) and we are the secret envy of those that aspire to our standards and behaviours. All BB asks is that we reject bullying, we reject fawning, we reject threats and insults and start behaving like the proud nation we are and ensuring that we position ourselves with dignity and authority with those around us who now believe we are a walk-over. If Brexit achieves nothing else, these alone should be worth the tortuous effort of it all.
And what about Johnson and Hunt ? What about Project Fear Mk 3 or is it even Mk 4 now ? For the most part the majority of us have no influence over the Johnson/Hunt scrapping, juvenile and unconvincing as it all is, so we will get what the Tory Party votes for. But we must hope they make the right choice or else we'll quickly slide into a General Election where the threat of a Corbyn win (though BB concedes that Corbyn per se is fast losing personal gravitas and ground amongst his sycophantic tribe) may just possibly occur. What Britain is implacably faced with is continuing uncertainty and a disturbing amount of visible chaos - which has clear and damaging ramifications for industry, society and our international standing - which not a single soul in Westminster is addressing - rather it is still being stoked into further division by No.10. The Brexit saga is being whipped into a frenzy of distrust by the establishment institutions of the Bank of England, former PM's, lobbyists, the civil service, the BBC and trades union vested interests - not least by the CBI - to effectively destroy the process of Brexit and gain the ground that they purport to be the 'right ground' for this country, ergo, remaining in the EU. Whether this is civil war by other means, we may ask the question. It's certainly not a far off description of events as they currently stand.
The arguments for and against Brexit will carry on unless we acquire a Prime Minister with the gumption, courage and belief to bring it to a speedy conclusion to the national advantage. Civil war is wholly destructive, completely unproductive and delivers no winners - everyone becomes a loser. Britain's future depends upon having a strong, unwavering and committed leadership and that only comes from an inner confidence about what we are and where we're going as a nation state. Right now, the stakes are high, the job incalculably difficult and the opposition formidable. For us, the wider population, we can only hope that the right champion wins and acts soon and concludes the Brexit paralysis with defined, clean blows. Carrying on as we are is not an option.Add a comment
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The hustings may be ongoing but in real terms they have no significance to the outcome of the Tory leadership election. The political blather that comes out in the hustings is mere froth, a theatrical episode that the process requires both candidates to endure yet say nothing meaningful about. In some respects that is still a measure of how the Westminster political process is still detached from the realities of public opinion, believing that it still has a resonance with the public - or perhaps just the Party faithful - and 'delivers' democracy. We must all hope that if that is the Westminster interpretation of democracy then the new Prime Minister will have the gumption to dump that misguided ideology and rethink the whole dynamic of how governance is still a pact that should follow that ancient Roman mantra of 'governance of the people, by the people for the people'. The days of elites, wealth owners and vested interest may not be entirely numbered, but there needs to be a recognition that the underpinning power rests with the electorate and that the equilibrium position between that electoral power and that of those 'who would be king' does require some significant re-definition.
The other aspect about the Tory leadership contest that occurs to Bristling Brock repeatedly concerns the opportunity to make some of these fundamental bedrock changes to the way this country is run. It would be tragic if the opportunity was missed or even failed to be recognised by the contenders. Words are cheap at the hustings and are clearly designed to display the breadth of concern they each have for our future governance. But it is the electorate, if not now but at the next general election, to determine whether the successful candidate has that real breadth of understanding that requires a systemic shift in the structures of governance - in parliament, in the cabinet and perhaps most significantly in the manner in which the civil service influences government strategy and policy. Right now, none of those branches of governance are shining examples of democratic behaviour and each and every one does need to re-align its vision upon something. The new Prime Minister will need to act decisively upon each facet and, perhaps radically in some cases, to demonstrate real attitudinal and action changes to British governance - and that will require a strength of character, persuasive skill, courage, defiance and an innate belief in it being the right thing to do. In other words, passion. And of the two candidates, there's only one who has the potential for this, albeit being quite well hidden during the conventions of husting meetings. This is the moment of truth, the moment when the opportunity inspired by Brexit will be taken up by the winner or left in the pending tray.
BB finds it interesting that what started as Brexit, that definitive change in the relationship Britain has with the main European bloc, has become an instrument for a wider structural change to the British way of life. Brexit remains an important issue in itself but it is irrevocably linked to that almost seismic pressure to reorganise what Britain is, how it thinks, behaves and views the wider world. We are no longer a big world power where our strategic opinions matter that much to other nations, but what we have had in the past and what we can achieve again in the future, is an integrity, a nation at peace with itself, authoritative in what it knows about, robust in its response to bullying and unequivocal about that magical balance between necessary governance and that which supports and encourages its people. This is the golden opportunity for Britain to re-shape itself into a forward looking and fairer place to live. We've often espoused that principle but in the last couple of decades or more our governments have failed to see the real future. Now is their chance to take the blindfold off.
Trumpy continues to amaze with his brinkmanship games with China and Iran. By association, Britain is drawn into his sphere of influence, sending marines in to seize an oil tanker bound for Syria that compromises our own integrity and puts British interests at risk. Trumpy may well see that as being the way in which the spurious 'special relationship' is played, but we would do well to open our eyes and recognise that that is a one-way street. There is only one beneficiary from the special relationship - and it isn't us.
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Our politicians don't seem capable of learning from their disasters of yesterday. Both Johnson and Hunt - both of whom might be regarded as middle-of-the-road thinkers - are fumbling their way through their media strewn campaigns like novices. Much is being blustered, promised, recanted and qualified in the fashion that we've all come to expect of politicians - just hot air to achieve what they want. This isn't good enough in the 21st century especially after the bruising realities of political positions and behaviours have been made patently clear to that breed by overwhelming public opinion. These fellers need to do infinitely better to convince this country that either of them are fit for the job of prime minister. Right now it's a choice between the devil and the deep blue sea, and that is not a basis for selecting the right person to carry this country forward during some of its most momentous constitutional and commercial challenges. Bristling Brock would bluntly advise them to wise-up - the selection of PM by their dynamics will not sustain them and the necessity of a general election will follow in short order - the result of which will favour neither them nor the country as a whole. So stop promising the world - it cannot be assured - stop bumbling your way through interviews with bluster and oblique responses that are full of political cliches, stop bitching at each other and last, but not least, remember that whilst it may be the Tory membership that annoint you, it'll be the electorate who punish you if you fail to recognise the full force of public opinion.
Whilst no rational person wishes to see Jeremy Corbyn in No.10, his personal chances of achieving that ambition are being constantly challenged from all sides, including from within the Labour Party. Continuing allegations of systemic anti-semitism, of blunt and economically ill-advised nationalisation plans mooted by acolytes that seem to have no qualification for what they are saying, friction with union sponsors, an absence of strategic policies, associations with the wrong 'bedfellows' all add up into a catalogue of characteristics that make him fundamentally unsuitable to be a contender for PM. Add to this the allegations over his physical fitness to carry that role (never mind his mental fitness !) and we see a picture of an ambiguous man - much lauded by his hardened supporters and dogged faithful yet at the same time increasingly reviled from within his own Party and most definitely reviled by the portions of the electorate that would prefer hari-kiri to seeing his brand of Labour socialism in this country.
This tells us something fundamental. And that is that neither the Conservative nor the Labour aspirants for political control of this country have changed their spots. They still represent what they separately see as their core voters, the core issues and the core challenges to this country - their own establishments and their own status quo positions. It also tells us that both these political party's remain internally divided, with schisms that polarise camps of opinion and prevent a cohesive approach to resolving real issues rather than the ones they perceive to be the issues. Neither have grasped that the British want political change and not just by changing the name on the door of No.10. Change is a big thing and we need big people to lead it successfully. We need leaders of integrity, shrewdness, perception and a manner that can prevail over the many political and social obstacles ahead; we need leadership that understands the need for change and the most productive ways of delivering it; we need leadership change that recognises the deficiencies of our current electoral system and identifies what can be quickly installed to assuage the negative view of governance that is so widespread across the nation; we need leadership change that understands that the current Party system in Westminster is not fit-for-purpose and that change in itself needs to embrace a completely new level of collaborative politics that allows the best people of whichever partisan group they may belong to become influencers of strategy, policy and implementation. And that entire dynamic for change shall equally apply to the civil service in Whitehall as much as it should do to the inhabitants of Westminster - for the civil service have failed the partiality test in spades over recent years.
And will there be some revelation, some beam of divine light striking those that need to see this ? Perhaps not a divine kick-up-the backside, but quite likely one from the electorate.
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