23 March 2020

And the winner is ....................

The country held its collective breath in anticipation of our Great Leader's address to the nation. The clock moved relentlessly towards 8:30pm and suddenly, there he was in all his jelly-like glory. I can't remember much of what he said but I was left with the distinct impression that he thought he was at assembly, addressing his fellow pupils about some jolly jape or other. To say it lacked gravitas is something of an understatement and I was left wondering what the fuss was about.

Gary Gibbon, C4's political correspondent, did his best to make something of it but, again, I was left with the feeling that I had missed something which was meant to be important, but wasn't.

Then, after a brief ad-break Jamie Oliver took over and I was captivated. He came out of the gate storming, throwing together a few tasty recipes focussing on the sort of stuff that you might have tucked away in the larder. He understood the problem that we all face - we're stuck in the house hoping to avoid the grim reaper and Jamie stepped up and tried to help. He's a fucking chef for God's sake and he left a huge impression on me, heightened by the stark contrast with the total absence of anything constructive offered by the Prime Minister.

Jamie - 10/10
Boris - report to the headmaster.

22 March 2020

Will Covid-19 save the planet?


What is the greatest threat to humanity? Covid-19 or Capitalism? Since the late1700s, Capitalism has turbo-charged population growth, consumption and exploitation of natural resources. Just before the advent of the Coronavirus, sections of the global population were signing up to Greta Thunberg's message which was, roughly, consumption/waste are the issues and we need to stop both. Greta isn't the first individual to propose this message but it's fair to say that she is the first to have energised a national or international movement and debate. But all of that is in the past now since Coronavirus has rewritten the front pages of every media.

Joke about loo paper.
Shopper: Oh, there's no bog paper
Me: Don't worry, get a copy of the Sun or the Mail
Shopper: Good suggestion but there's so much shit in them already!

So now, we need to consider just why Coronavirus is having such an impact. Firstly, humanity's lifestyle made it possible. Air travel spread it around the world extremely effectively. Secondly, individual governments were slow to respond, believing, I assume, that it couldn't happen here (wherever here might be). Thirdly, whilst it originated in China (an authoritarian society) it has gained a stronger grip in capitalist democracies which are less able to invest in future proofing (because there's no profit in it).

So the Coronavirus is tearing through organised societies, aided in large part by population levels and density and a cultural resistance to considering the good of wider society over the demands of the individual. And this gives me an opportunity to remind everyone that, "I blame Margaret Thatcher" and, by implication, her progeny in the Austeritory Party.

Thatcher, rather than believe in society, believed in the individual. And now we face a challenge that cannot be met by the individual and can only be faced by society as a whole. To do that we have to see ourselves firstly as a society and secondly as individuals within society. But, looking at the supermarket shelves, that is an ability that has withered in the years since Thatcher here, and Reagan in the USA, spread their poisonous, greedy and self-interested view of the world.

But don't worry, Coronavirus is proving that capitalism is no match for Mother Nature, where society might be.

17 March 2020

Forget Public Health, its a financial crisis and you are going to pay for it.


During today's 'Coronavirus Briefing', I watched our revered Primate, aka The Great Wanker, hosing down the various hacks with another load of bollocks about all of us being in this together. Remember that in 2010, shiney Dave Cameron was spouting exactly the same crap as he instigated the decade of austeritory where ordinary tax-payers paid for the 'risky behaviour' of the banks.

So, The Great Wanker sets off on exactly the same course and tells his tame Chancellor (ex-hedge fund manager Rishi Sunak) to introduce the programme of support for struggling businesses. Rishi does what he is told and blethers on about rates holidays and national insurance holidays and mortgage support, salary support, utility support etc etc etc ad infinitum. But in all of this twaddle the key feature of all of this support is quietly ignored and that is that all of the support is in the form of loans which will, of course, have to be repaid.

One journo, I think from the Times, did enquire as to the sense of saddling struggling businesses with more long term debt, postulating that it might make more sense for such firms to fold rather than take on yet more debt. The Great Wanker brushed this enquiry aside with more blether about us all being in it together and that its a war and that Britain's economy will recover and be better than ever, especially when we start selling Spitfires again.

Meanwhile a more limited version of 'Herd Immunity' continues with the Chief Medical Officer suggesting that keeping the death toll down to 20,000 would be a good outcome, even if a bit ugly. So, lets see how we get on over the next few months and it will be interesting too see if anyone is brave enough to work out what part of the final death toll can be attributed to 'Austeritory'.

14 March 2020

Herd immunity ...........


Evidently the Government's strategy regarding Corona Virus is to encourage 'herd immunity'. The idea is that if enough people (the herd) acquire the infection then the wider herd (us) will acquire immunity, if, that is, being infected and recovering does confer immunity. The figures quoted in order to acquire 'herd immunity' suggest that between 60% and 70% of the population need to become infected. Based on a UK population of 64M, that means that some 40M people need to become infected and, as a consequence, some 400,000 will die (based upon a 1% mortality rate).

This is great news for a Conservative government because, after a decade of austerity has undermined  the health service, killing off 1% of the infected population will reduce the burden on our over-stretched social services. Maybe this is another example of Dominic Cummings' 'weirdos' thinking outside the box but it is definitely bad news for anyone in the 'at risk' category.

12 December 2019

The nation decides......again.

I hope that, when I wake up tomorrow morning, someone has some sort of working majority. Obviously, I hope that it isn't the Conservative Party because, if so, then we will be doomed to another period of collective punishment. My ideal would be some sort of coalition between Labour and the SNP with enough seats to see off the Conservatives and their DUP lackeys. Only time will tell and, whatever you do, make your vote count.

1 December 2019

What it takes.........


MuckandBrass

History offers us an insight into what it takes to cause government to act. Figures vary but the 'Great Smog of London' (1952) probably killed around 10,000 people, both immediately and across the following few years. Four years later, the Government introduced the 'Clean Air Act' which drastically reduced the causes of air pollution which led to the Great Smog. Industry and the ordinary citizen were equally affected by the changes that the Act required. But 10,000 deaths ensured that the legislation, no matter how challenging, was implemented by everyone.

How many deaths worldwide will be required for governments to take similar action to address 'climate change'?



15 October 2019

Its not happening to me............

MuckandBrass

AOL carries a 'live poll' on its website that seeks to measure the level support for Climate Protest and its result offered an interesting snapshot of public opinion. (This could be seen as a measure of support for the actions of Extinction Rebellion.)

Whilst those with strong views are evenly balanced, the majority of those with more moderate views clearly do not support the Climate Protests and it is in that area of public opinion that XR, and other climate activists, face their greatest challenge. How do you convince someone that there is a 'climate emergency' when that individual has no personal experience of that 'climate emergency'? The challenge is even greater when that individual lives a comfortable life with all the benefits of a 'developed' society? I would suggest that it's a very hard case to make.

As part of this consideration, I came across an interesting piece about 'belief vs fact' and it proposes tools which help "....... form well-developed ideas in order to meet the challenges of our modern world.......". The problem with these tools is that the individual must engage with them and use them with consideration. Leaning on personal prejudice is rather easier.

I happen to believe that climate change is real and that we are, at the very least, on the way to a 'climate emergency' but it is important to recognise that I haven't actually seen or experienced the impact of climate change for myself. What I have done is read around the subject and sought out informed opinion. In doing that I have seen the scientific measurements of global warming and the images of melting icecaps and retreating glaciers. At the same time, I do believe that actions have consequences and that the Industrial Revolution must therefore have a significant impact upon our global environment. But for many people, that would simply not be enough, especially when addressing the issue will challenge their personal comforts.

The relative inaction of governments on the issue of climate change stands in stark contrast to the action taken by the UK government in the mid-1980s when AIDS was seen as a national threat. And this begs the question, 'Why was it easy to act on AIDS when it is so difficult to act on Climate Change?'