Bristling Brock speaks out...
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At this time of the year, news is both scarce and thin and by default the media resorts to something akin to an introspective look back at times past - and passes its varied verdicts off as sage and knowing advice.
There are, nevertheless, occasions when looking back does have some merit and, perhaps more importantly, some relevance to the future. Having just read Charles Moore's Telegraph editorial on that subject it has prompted some related thoughts on what was and what might be a route plan for the immediate future. Let's consider what has become known as the metropolitan elite, a term used generally to describe the professional and intellectual superiority of those establishment hopefuls orbiting around London's glittering astro-belt (for which read: inside the M25). It's usually a term of derision when applied north of that magical aura but it has come to symbolise a social detachment of those living in the south-east of Britain from the rest of the country. Endless statistics bandied about lend support to the weight of privilege that the region deservedly feels is appropriate of that hallowed population of the south-east and, by extension, the reciprocal thought toward the rest of the country is one of condescension and non-inclusiveness. Now let's look at this perception from a different angle...
Metropolitan elites exist everywhere in this post industrial Britain of ours - it surrounds every urban connurbation like a cultural badge of achievement and has no especial regional exclusivity any more. That this is now a widespread cultural adoption tells us several things; that we are a changing society, that cultural practises and traditions are shifting and that there is still a desire to rise above the masses by whatever means - that most basic of human instincts. It also tells us that our societies are moving apart, some being entirely left behind and even discarded from any strategic inclusion in this gold-rush desire to have everything, display everything egregiously, disregard the conventions of society and make ones own life-rules up as circumstances present themselves. On the face-of-it, it's an 'I'm alright Jack' mentality. Behind that broad brush-stroke position, however, there are undoubtedly many who might be described as metropoloitan elites that have deservedly achieved their positions. The insidious part of the collective description is that there are many more that have moved into this perceived category of 'superior humanity' by many means which could be described as immoral, deceitful, exploitative and even anti-social. Stepping on the heads of those mired in the swamp rather than offering a helping hand is something Britain is becoming used to as the divisions - political, social and economic - become more and more commonplace.
We see this reflected in our obsessions with politically correct language, the manipulation of the judicial system where money trumps right, where disregard for the rule of law becomes the norm, the corruptions of public figures that spot-light the frailties of humankind in ways we so love to entertain ourselves with. We have the manic desire to declare everybody as being equal by colour, gender, race, religion and just about everything else yet not wishing anyone else to invade that space which is the so much desired 'elite' position. Hypocrisy has come to rule us - again, for if we use Charles Moore's yardstick, we've seen this all before in our history, countless times. The lesson of history - if we see that as having any relevance to modern day life - is that it has always failed to provide what the elites desire - that exclusive entry into that imaginary clique we call the establishment, the ruling class, those that are born to be above the swamp. And the reason why - because societies have an unfathomable way in which to regulate themselves, to adjust and re-balance so that an equilibrium position is brought back. There will always be those that have more than some others, that is unlikely to change, but what our societies can do - and the recent electoral results are testimony to it - is bring about comparitively quiet revolution - or, as Mr Moore might term it, 'resurrection'.
Britain is on the cusp of such a resurrection. In leaving the EU there is a declaration of intent which has nothing to do with what critics would describe as populist nationalism, rather it has more to do with self determination, a social resurrection that will re-balance the public, economic and political structures of the country to reflect that Britain is a changing society with new ambitions. And in support of this we have a new government that, for the moment at least, is promoting that concept of re-balancing. We should never let those who believe they have a divine right to privilege win the day - for history has already shown us they cannot and should not prevail over anyone else in the land. Now is the time for government to make momentous changes to the mood and hurt of Britain. If the right people have been chosen then we'll see progress and Britain will make its mark across a much broader canvas than ever before - and we may then be able to consign 'metropolitan elitism' to the dustbin of history.Add a comment
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The new Conservative government has entered its battle-space with a confident and vigorous statement of intent - and it's hard not to have at least a modicum of admiration for the zap that has been injected into our previously lethargic and ever circling mode of politics.
Brexit will obviously be at the top of the list to pass through parliament. And that move alone will have a much wider effect upon our affairs and outlooks than the mere politics of it. For three and a half years the country has been sinking ever deeper into a political muddle. It has created divisions of opinion, heatedly felt in some cases, from households to parliamentary chambers and it has ground this country into a spiralling position of lethargy, inward looking, moroseness. The output of that was an intractable stalemate, that unenviable position on the chessboard where neither faction - nor indeed any faction - had the vision and wherewithall to move the debate forward in a satisfactory and meaningful way.
We may blame all sorts of folk for the very existence of Brexit, we may blame those responsible for delivering it or we may thank our lucky stars that it is eventually coming about, but the reality is the latter position - Brexit is happening and the method by which it is occurring will not be perfect for any segment of the population. We will all be winners and losers in this affair. What is important is that it moves the chess-piece out of stalemate. It provides an opportunity to settle that divisive debate on where this country's best interests lay and resolve the argument that held stalemate in place. No nation of Britain's standing should have sunk to that level of inertia, it is now, more than ever after such a woebegone period of lousy political leadership, to break out and define our position clearly and definitively so that lives, business and politics can speedily pick up the pace again and get us back to where we belong - innovative, decisive, honest, fair and open to change and the future. In this, Bristling Brock wishes Mr Johnson well.
The British Labour Party, by contrast, is still tightly wound around its former Marxist outlook, unable to see or admit its manifest faults and totally incapable of projecting confidence and rational political thought. Corbyn is hanging on like a desperate, and in this we see a man obsessed with his position and the lingering hope that he can still bring about a political revolution in Britain. That that is no longer a possibility eludes him - but than in itself is no surprise. His successor is likely to arise from a pretty mixed bag of socialists - some who favour a continuance of the old battles and some who see some need to re-paint Labour's position freshly. None, in BB's opinion, have thus far expressed any powerful or compelling viewpoints on anything other than how they might be best suited to be a new leader - they are still infighting, squabbling, name-calling and running around in ever decreasing circles. At this point, it certainly looks as if the Labour Party, whilst still technically the Opposition in parliament, will be out of meaningful play for some time yet.
Old Trumpy is up to his neck in alligators on the face of it. But then comes the revelation that his Republican acolytes in the Senate will not allow any charges to be pressed or his dismissal as president even mooted. A right royal stitch-up, you might say. It presents that eternal question of 'why bother if there is no chance of success ?'. BB agrees that there is a moral case to present to America before next years elections but frankly, there is little evidence in present day US opinion polling that a president behaving immorally is justification for removing him. Trumpy's personal poll ratings are good (if you believe such things) and there is still a hard-core of republican sentiment behind him from the rust-belt to the dust-belt to whatever other belt the Americans have. Add to this that the Democrats don't seem to be well prepared for the elections we end up with a scenario where Trumpy could actually win another term. Gulp !
BB's last thought today is a topic previously highlighted in this blog - that of British Army veterans being pursued by the criminal justice system whilst terrorists roam the streets without fear of any action against them. The current Hyde Park bombing case is a step in the right direction for bringing terrorists to justice, but it is now high time that any thoughts of prosecuting former British soldiers in the Northern Ireland era are totally dropped. If we want justice, then play on a level field where all are treated in the same way. Giving amnesty to the opposing factions whilst persecuting your own is not how a well balanced democracy should work.Add a comment
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Now that the rumpus of the election campaign is over, we might consider what we have got and, perhaps equally significantly, what we have avoided.
The Tories will no doubt claim that they now represent the biggest majority of the voting public since the 1980's. Statistically that may well be true, but how many folk out there voted Conservative due to tactical considerations rather than a comfy/glowy feeling about Tory leadership and policies ? Quite a few, BB suspects. Nonetheless, The Tories continue in government. The Opposition parties did much less well - by definition - with the exception of the SNP who now find themselves emboldened by a larger share of the Scottish vote and twitching to bring about a second independence referendum.
The Tories may not be everyone's cup-of-tea - even Bristling Brock squirms a little at the shabbiness of the whole electoral process and its in-built flaws and lack of clearer proportionality. Not everyone will like the Tory manifesto - including the Brexit pledge - yet our much savaged political system needs to move on, and move on in a way that begins to recognise the need for reform. That reform should not solely be about proportional representation, it should be about the methods by which candidates for election are selected, about Party whip measures, about how the Commons and Lords interact, our constitution and much more. So moving on should not mean just more of the same, it should be that light-bulb event when the political establishment fully appreciate that the capricious voting public do hold the reins at critical times in our governance and that change, reform, update, reboot - call it what you will - is long overdue. The new government is in power pretty much because the alternative Opposition model was comprehensively rejected by tactical voting, and that knowledge alone should be sufficient for the drive to bring our political processes into the 21st Century. Should be ! We will have to wait a little while to really see whether that lesson has been learned.
On Brexit, that eternal word... It will, of course, continue for some years yet. The new government may well pass the Withdrawal Agreement through quickly - which technically exits us from the EU - but ahead lies an equally dense minefield of European negotiations upon trade, tariffs and on that rather important subject, who shall be the King of the Financial Markets - London, Frankfurt or Paris ? Clearly for Britain, the drive has to be to maintain London as the European hub - after all it's 85% of our GDP being generated through this financial sector (which in itself needs plenty of reform and update). So Brexit will persist for quite a while. There'll be meetings, negotiations, summits, compromises and, we might well imagine, a good deal of political squirming ahead. There's no easy way through, so tighten your seat-belts and prepare for the ride.
Leaping back to the Scottish question, the successes of the SNP reflect a growing desire in the far north for independence - or so the numbers would suggest. Nicola Sturgeon has made it her life mission to push further for independence, much as Jeremy Corbyn made it his mission never to admit to any wrong-doing in the Labour Party, so she has nailed her colours to the independence mast. Historically, of course, Scotland used to be an independent nation with it's own monarch and government which, over the centuries melded with England, Wales and latterly Northern Ireland to be the United Kingdom. But much as Brexit has been driven by that sense of self determination, Scottish independence is being driven by a very similar, yet unquantifiable force. Britain has pushed for Brexit (amidst some influential opposition) and will see some form of it actually take place within the months ahead; it is therefore likely that the Scots will get their chance to vote again and make a determination as to where their best interests are perceived to lie - Britain or Europe. And we should not resist that desire to put the question to the test once again. The reform of the political establishment discussed above should reflect upon what the United Kingdom is and what it aims to achieve, and indeed, what it frustrates. No institution lasts unchanged indefinitely and we should embrace changes that are innovative, practical and sensitive to our cultural ways. We should not block a Scottish departure if that is what is chosen.
So the new Tory government has a busy time ahead. Bristling Brock fervently hopes that it will bring about political and constitutional reform, expand its social agenda and see iteself as a government of realistic practicality with all the people's interests at its core. It'll be tough for a while, but it's the road we need to follow - it is the road we have to follow.
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