What a depressing week: an utter tosspot killed some folk in London, not normally news but it happened right outside parliament so it’ll be generating column inches for years to come. Just look at Guy Fawkes, he didn’t even succeed with his plot and the papers still mention him every year. As for the Westminster Bridge attack, it was actually a year to the day since the Brussels bombings where 32 people died, and it was lucky for many I suppose then that in comparison the British attempt was quaintly rubbish
On the other side of the spectrum, this week also saw the death of Irish terrorist mastermind and general human vermin Martin McGuinness. I’ve never visited Northern Ireland but I did live for many years in Glasgow which I suppose was like a sectarian version of visiting Euro Disney rather than travelling to Florida. Anyway, he’s in the ground now although the Queen was unable to attend the funeral, owing to being unable to find her dancing shoes.
A lot of folk now consider The Troubles to be something from a bygone era or something that happened far away across the Irish Sea. I’d suggest going on Google and look up images of the Bishopsgate Bomb that London experienced back in the 90s and people forget that the Gherkin skyscraper was only built because Martin McGuinness and his pals used a van filled with Semtex to destroy the old Baltic Exchange.
But fair enough, things have changed, let’s move on and think about the positives of Northern Ireland. It’s now a beautiful and peaceful place with good people, they gave us Bushmills and the DeLorean motor company and nowadays the only shooting is when they’re shooting Game Of Thrones.
Donald Trump built an election strategy on a platform on nationalism and how the country to the south is some sort of dangerous failed state and it seems like it’s a policy idea that Nicola Sturgeon is keen to emulate. Thus we have the proposal of yet another referendum on Scottish Independence. Apparently when people say “no”, they mean “yes” although that seems like a part of the Donald Trump, Bill Clinton repertoire she might want to clarify as being strictly about politics.
Cards on the table, I was in favour of Scottish Independence last time around but sorry, if it now means adopting the Euro and passing control of everything over to Brussels then, like many Scots, I’ll say screw that for a game of soldiers. If I wanted to see what being a small country run by the EU is like, I’d move to Greece; at least they’ve got cracking weather and cheap wine.
The reaction of the financial markets to the shock news though: absolutely nothing because, at least for the next 5-10 years, Scottish Independence is in that basket of “things that won’t happen”, alongside Jeremy Corbyn becoming prime minister, Heathrow getting a 3rd runway, a coherent budget without U-Turns, or the Lib Dems having a view on last year’s Brexit vote that is either Liberal or Democratic.
Oh, one last thing, it’s Cheltenham this week so a top racing tip to readers, that would be Lunch Hour, 12/1.
Some years budgets can be really exciting with sweeping tax cuts or dramatic gestures but this week it was fairly dull asides from the furore about the tax rise for self employed people. Why self employed people, I asked myself, then I read at article saying that George Osborne is set to earn £650,000 this year and I wondered if Phillip Hammond and Theresa May were setting up an elaborate trap for their predecessors. I’ve not looked at the detail of the budget but I’d be keen to know if there was a special levy on political speeches and ex-cabinet ministers.
It’s largely a storm in a teacup though, a pound or two per week. When I’m not doing these videos, I am actually a self employed person myself and in all honesty, whilst annoying, I half wondered if it’s a price worth paying? After all, every minute of Radio 4 that’s taken up with backbenchers discussing white vans is a minute that’s not being used to discuss Brexit. Every time they wheel out an economist to discuss NI contributions it means a whinging policy adviser will have to stay at home and keep their views on exercise or alcohol to themselves.
In the mean time though it was also International Womens’ Day this week, although from what I saw, most of the supposedly “international” women on the telly were in fact British. Or as Nicola Sturgeon would pronounce it, “English” before adding “treacherous” and demanding a referendum in much the same way that my little boy demands more toast in the mornings…
In amongst all the poverty and despair and general horribleness endemic in today’s torrid world, the Hollywood elite in their ivory tower were rocked to the core last weekend when a competition for best movie went briefly and mildly astray and it was even suggested that Vladimir Putin, not content with supposedly rigging the US election also had firm views on cinema and in particular the hit musical La-La-Land. I guess that the KGB must have a lot of time on their hands these days if that’s the case. The film itself isn’t my cup of tea, but for a feared intelligence operation, hacking the Oscars is little more than a glorified form of posting anonymous comments on the Daily Mail’s website.
And talking of La-La-Land, Jeremy Corbyn has been dancing around the issue of whether last week’s bi election results are a sign for him to go. And the same is largely true in the UKIP camp following their loss in Stoke as well as comments made about the Hillsborough disaster. Of course Nigel Farage and Douglas Carswell, not content to sit back, have also been very keen to make sure that their disagreements are as visible and publicly embarrassing as possible. Still, there’s an old expression about “the tyranny of the status quo” and I imagine that nobody will resign, at least until the next inevitable bi-election happens and it’s all too late. On the other hand, there’s also that other old expression that “a week is a long time in politics” so perhaps this is the penultimate time I’ll be sketching Jeremy Corbyn which would be a shame. Oh yeah, and in America there’s been some more news about Jeff Sessions and Russia and yada-yada, it’s not really “news” now is it, so much as an ongoing damage limitation exercise…
A lot of people in America think that President Trump is some sort of Manchurian candidate, groomed by the KGB to have a buffoon in Washington so that the world turns to Vladimir Putin for relatively sensible world leadership. You’d think it would be easier for Putin to just buy a new shirt+tie and leave the horses alone? If there’s a grain of truth in it I certainly hope it’s not a grain of Polonium 210, that’s how they do things over there…
Contrast that to the UK where some people think that the Soviet Union loving fanboy Jeremy Corbyn is some kind of secret Conservative plant, groomed in order to keep the Labour party out of power. Certainly as a free market libertarian, I for one was very happy to see the leavers of power handed to his close circle of unelectable overgrown students with their social justice warrior, virtue tilting, privilege checking idiocy.
But that brings us to this week’s bi-election results in Stoke and Copeland, which show that while a stopped clock is right twice per day, Jezz will have to settle for once. It seems that the proletariat in the north of England have looked revolutionary politics in the eye and decided that the National Health Service is ok but that the complete overthrow of capitalism is taking it a bit too far. Still, at least Jeremy Corbyn has his own hair and that’s saying something these days…
This week Kim Jong Un ordered the assassination of his half brother which sort of puts at least some of the Trump hysteria in perspective. Sure, his National Security Advisory had to resign but Trump didn’t murder anyone and I don’t think he even groped anyone. Supposedly there were red flags, apparently with hammers & sickles on them, it’s yet another things for the courts to sort out I suppose.
I still think the whole thing is a deliberate distraction though: get people so fatigued about the ongoing incompetence that nobody will care when Trump sells federal land to himself for $20 per acre or the Kremlin rolls tanks into Scandinavia. I suppose if Machiavelli had had access to Buzzfeed and Facebook, the Renaissance would have similarly turned out very different, although I don’t know if the Sistine Chapel would look better or worse if you added Kittens and Game Of Thrones references.
Meanwhile in the UK… Um, everything’s probably fine now. We used to have problems with social care and the long term sustainability of the health system and there was something to do with Europe, I forget exactly, but given how all anyone’s interested in nowadays is photoshopped pictures of Steve Bannon, I can only assume that all that stuff worked out fine in the end, which is nice.
Speaker of the House, John Bercow, has never been one to be shy away from the press if he can get everyone to see how progressive and ‘right on’ and politically correct and he is. And so this week he decided to let everyone know that he doesn’t like Donald Trump by saying that he wouldn’t be welcome at Westminster. I imagine that a lot of folk would rather John Bercow wasn’t around either, especially his wife when she’s got one of her gentleman friends round.
It’s the hypocrisy that annoys most MPs as well: in the past we’ve welcomed leaders like Robert Mugabe and Vladimir Putin to the UK. We even gave Nicolae Ceausescu a knighthood for crying out loud, and we let famed war criminal Tony Blair walk around Downing street like he owned the place or something.
Elsewhere, Nigel Farage has supposedly “Brexited” from his wife. Say what you will about his politics, at least the guy’s consistent in how he approaches life. Contrast that to Jeremy Corbyn who’d struggle to definitively say what the result of a coin toss was, or to the candidates in the upcoming French election who apparently can’t decide whether they want to be President of France or simply gang leader in a local white collar prison, following indictment and prosecution on grand corruption charges: Vive La France!