Bristling Brock speaks out...

 

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Maybe it's the warm weather, maybe it's the bewilderment over political leadership contests or maybe it is just downright political and social apathy that besets us now as a nation.

It is probably true that the political stage has frustrated a good many in recent weeks (if not recent years) and we are fast reaching a state of inertia where our broader inability to influence matters meaningfully has guided us - willingly or otherwise - into a position of indifference.  There is seemingly one overriding ambition left and that is getting on with Brexit.  And that's unconditional - just achieve Brexit one way or the other.  Bristling Brock doesn't entirely subscribe to this singular and almost desperate plea to 'just do it', but that seems to be the way of things just now.  The broader questions are not appearing on the public agenda and BB could possibly imagine that is because there is a limit to the level of political frustration folk will tolerate and register.  Beyond that, withdrawal to a singular argument is the only twitch left in the corpus of British society

Elsewhere in the political ring, the Labour Party are still embroiled in that impossible dilemma over anti-semitism - and that is a debate that's now afflicting the Tories.  Quite apart from what is and what is not considered to be anti-anything, are we witnessing a progressing shift in social values from that old-fashioned notion of freedom of speech (for which I seem to recall we have, in part, fought two World Wars to uphold) to those of vocal minorities and so-called liberal cliques that believe in pretty much anti-everything that upholds the former ?  That's a bit of a complicated muddle of ideas but whilst BB would not wish to deny any legitimate group to be represented and heard, it is getting harder for those who believe in the concept of free speech to even voice an opinion - be those conformant to the clamour or in contradiction to that noise.  By the very nature of humanity, there are issues upon which we will all disagree, but is it not the very foundation of our desired democratic principles that we allow a broad church of view, opinion, position and outlook to be expressed without fear of attack from the self-appointed social conscience purveyors who shout the loudest ?   There are necessarily some very appropriate exceptions to that - notably the restriction on what some would preach that would incite violence and treason against the state - but on general social and political issues BB is finding the limitations being imposed upon free speech, freedom of expression and opinion being voiced without danger of hostile counter-attack are increasing exponentially.  You can't say this, you can't say that, you can't even be allowed to think what you would think - all these politically prescribed hurdles fundamentally undermine the essence of what we accept as democracy and, in this country, have traditionally fought to uphold for centuries.   

Are we not better than this ?  Are we not able to cope with disagreement in a civilised and orderly fashion that allows debate without rancour ?  We should all be wary of allowing the zealots to rule our thinking - whichever part of the debate they claim to represent.   If Brexit means anything at all, quite apart from its political and trade issues, should it not be the opportunity for Britain to re-evaluate precisely what it wants to be, how it behaves, what its social and international norms should be and, perhaps above all, that it affirms its commitment to that oldest of old freedoms - that of speech and opinion ?   Right now, we are in danger of losing it by being embroiled in the fog of apathy.  

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The salacious gossip brigade are making a real meal out of Boris Johnson's spat with his girlfriend.  If we rule out political motivations - and that's a big leap of faith these days - then we are left with the perverse mindsets of folk who have nothing better to think about but trash gossip.  Last time I looked, Boris was a human being (unlike the Maybot) and possesses that eternal mix that includes all the frailties and strengths of the human species.   As a potential PM, Bristling Brock would far sooner have a candidate that exhibits the human condition rather than someone who uses some seedy political mask to hide his flaws.  The Boris bashing should stop, be that by the public or the avaricious media - for goodness sake, there are more important matters to be got on with. 

On political matters, however, Boris is being less than forthright in defining his future, potential policies - and Jeremy has found a streak of exploitative verve to take advantage and have a personal swipe at his opponent.  It would have been a breath of fresh air to find two candidates who didn't have to resort to personal attacks, but as this blog has recently commented, there is little evidence to show that this 'refreshing' of the Tory party is anything other than the same old political rat-bag of options, promises (awaiting to be broken) and declarations (that will never get fulfilled).  In short, nothing seems to be on the cards that would indicate a really fresh way of conducting politics in the Westminster circus arena.  BB must accept that the Brexit Party is probably not fully fledged as yet and has a limited capacity to engage in UK politics - but just think what all this hubbub of political gamesmanship might have looked like if they'd been ready to become the Kingmaker !   And Kingmaker they may yet be when the next general election is called.   Whoever becomes PM on 22nd July (heavens, why do we need to wait that long when there's stuff to be done ???) they will have no full mandate from the electorate to do anything substantive other than go through whatever motions with the EU there may be to reach the 31st October deadline for exiting.  Immediately beyond that date, the PM will need to consider holding a general election to try and win a party majority in the Commons - although the Tories have a somewhat poor record in trying to achieve this required status - and this is where we might see the erstwhile Kingmakers of the Brexit Party becoming the arbiters of government direction.  That'll be no bad thing in itself for if we desire a root and branch reform of our political structures there is no merit in having the same old gangs trying to bring it about (or, more likely, going through the pretence of bringing it about).  

Trumpy is preening and trying to look statesmanlike by declaring that it was his 'personal' decision not to attack Iran.  He is, of course, between a rock and a hard place, namely the hawks and doves of Washington's equally mendacious political tribes.  Probably few folk have any doubts that Iran is a provocative and broadly hostile player when it comes to their views of Western cultures and influence.  It could be argued that they have become that way as a result of sanctions imposed against them by our favourite gang leader, Trumpy the First - or, more colloquially, Donald the Mad.  International diplomacy requires people of extraordinary patience and vision, of style and manner and of their knowledge of whom they are dealing with.  It seems that there are few of these special individuals left within the Trump administration so we are left with the dangerous and spontaneous aggressions of the leaders on both sides of this gaping divide throwing barbs and rocks at each other.  Sooner or later, someone will throw the long shot, and then there'll be real trouble - for the whole world.

 

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The list to choose from is down to two - and what a saga of inept PR and procedure it has been to reach this rather uninspiring position.  Now, Boris and Jeremy have to pit their wits to gain the favour of a handful (by electoral standards) of Tory Party members.  The rest of us just have to endure the likely cringeing ordeal of seeing these last two playmates promising the world and committing to next to nothing.   Bristling Brock is dismayed that we have reverted to the inanities of the old political classes that inhabit Westminster; having seen Theresa May finally acknowledge that she couldn't carry the government forward on any platform whatever, we now have two less than confidence boosting candidates dithering about in almost identical fashion to Mrs May.   No policies, no commitments and no fresh ideas seem to describe the pair of them.  And to cap it all, they're both Tories.  Without a general election to sort this out properly, whoever wins this bizarre contest will find they have no firm mandate to promise or deliver anything.  Now BB is the first to admit that a general election right now raises the spectre of a marginal Labour win - and let's face it, nobody wants to see Jeremy Corbyn and his Byzantine acolytes running loose with the governance of this country.  So what should the Tories do ?  Without an election, we have a new prime minister voted in by a mere 160,000 Conservative Party members and a consequent wobbly platform upon which to legislate from (that's assuming the winner of the contest actually has any ideas to legislate upon); with an election we run the risk of Comrade Corbyn sitting in No.10 - a stark choice you might say and a choice that merely perpetuates the establishment and status quo with no reform in sight !  

The problem lies with our electoral mechanism - the much outdated 'first past the post' or FPTP protocol that dictates who wins a parliamentary seat, irrespective of how small a proportion of the votes cast that might entail.  If nothing else, if democracy means anything to the prospective new PM, then as a one-off gesture of commitment to parliamentary reform they should table a Bill for the Introduction of Proportional Representation.  Critics will argue that it would take months, if not years, to set such a system up - BB would disagree, feeling confident that the machinery for PP probably already exists within the closely guarded vaults of the civil service.  It's a matter of will, honesty and integrity by the new PM to be.  If change and reform that brings our parliamentary democracy into the 21st Century and beyond does not become the guiding theme of any new governance then the whole initiative created and opened up by the Brexit debate will have been lost for a generation.  BB is no advocate for the establishment and status quo as it stands today but without a prime minister that has the vision and courage to embrace necessary reform then this country will trundle on in the chaotic and blundering fashion of the last few decades.  Public confidence in politicians will remain as low as ever, public confidence in the probity and honesty of politicians will remain equally low and our nation will be all the worse for it.  If Britain wishes to slide into a second or dangerously third world position in world affairs and affluence then all its leaders have to do is sit back and watch it happen.  That's not a world BB wishes to see develop.

The saga of Mark Field grabbing a protester and physically marching her out of a venue has raised much debate.  Bristling Brock is on Mt Field's side in this.  Reacting to a potential threat, his actions were made spontaneously and in good faith.  You'll notice that not a solitary soul elsewhere made any move to become involved, so bravo, Mr Field.  On the spur of the moment you acted on instinct and for the wider good.  Protest is one thing but there are limits to what is acceptable in the current, brittle security climate and the red garbed environmentalist ladies went too far on this occasion.

Trumpy, as ever, is playing with fire again.  A US drone gets shot down over the Gulf, Iran being the automatic culprit fingered by this illiterate and knee-jerky president.  If the US have absolute evidence of this drone being over international waters then they should provide it and talk about the problem with the Iranians rather than sending a naval fleet to wreak a firestorm of destruction.   The US is all the more weakened by this display of instant retribution and then cancelling it at the last minute with the flimsy excuse that 'civilians might get killed'.  You bet, Mr President - you should have thought about that before mobilising the means to start WW3.  Who looks the bigger fool around the world, eh ? 

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