Extraordinary scenes in London, not seen since the Iraq war. One million peaceful marchers plus a petition to the PM of 4.5 million. That’s what happens when the result of a people’s referendum is effectively 50:50 and the government only recognises half the argument. You can’t talk about the ‘will of the people’ when just as many oppose it. And yet I understand the original Leavers’ argument. There’s a clothes firm, just formed from a government start-up scheme, where everything is British: the looms to make the cloth, the manufacture and the factory all in Yorkshire. That’s what used to happen here and which made this great nation famous and proud. But, would this kind of thing be enough today if a no-deal Brexit happens? The risk is too great. The only way is to revoke Article 50.
I’d wanted to watch top-rated film Darkest Hour for a long time as Churchill features strongly in both Lamplight and Vichyssoise. The film didn’t disappoint. Bizarrely, at exactly the same time, on live TV, scenes of the same House of Commons almost 80 years later were mesmerising the nation. But what a contrast. Whilst Oldman, with a forceful Churchill speech, was holding spellbound a rapt House of Commons, today’s live TV version was very different. ‘The ayes have it; the ayes have it’ was comical and depressing at the same time. Where was the “..blood, toil, tears and sweat..”? Where “..we shall never surrender..”? The bit in the film I loved was where the PM takes a ride on London’s Tube and asks the public whether the nation should appease Germany. Never! they shouted. Today’s PM should also listen to the public. Oh, how we need Churchill today!
As I’m now well over the biblical three score years and ten, what have I learned about the world? People are different but why? Think of it like a cheeseburger: layers and layers of lifetime influences. There’s the nature/nurture argument, topped with cultural, tribal and social media effects, making us square up to each other in ridiculous ways. Today, for example, in the world of football Aston Villa face up to local rivals Birmingham City. The terraces will be aflame with hatred and almost murderous antagonism, yet the fans live in the same neighbourhood, sometimes within the same family. All of this is why I’m delighted that Crooked Cat Books are publishing in the summer my new non-fiction, humorous book ‘ONLY IN AMERICA’. That’s how to deal with all the illogical rivalries in the world. Eat that lifetime cheeseburger, but learn about how it’s made up, our different cultures and then laugh together.
In a few short weeks our son will start a new life in the US. Yes, just before the UK’s set to leave the EU, our son flies west - far away from all the Brexit turmoil. Yet, when he arrives in the ‘land of the free’, things will be very different. Some say the President has suffered his worst week yet. But you wouldn’t know it, listening to his fiery speech at the Conservative Political Action conference. Was he worried that his former lawyer gave damning testimony against him or that the much-hyped summit with North Korea ended in failure? No. Donald Trump’s presidency is all about him and his own ego. However, don’t write him off just yet. He could well win again. In a way I understand this. A democratic election should never be about one person. Individuals can always be replaced. It’s the policies that matter and if the US voters decide their lives are better at present, then they’ll vote Republican again irrespective of what they think of the current president. So, whether the UK or the US: it’s the policies, stupid.
When watching TV’s The Apprentice, a common tactic is to swap the contestants from one group to another. So too in politics, it seems. Twelve MPs left their original parties last week. Some say a further 20 are also on the brink. It doesn’t help that the new grouping is called TIG (The Independentent Group), reminding me of that ‘50s childhood game of the same name and similar motive! So, why have the 12 left? Of the 8 original Labourites, deeply-entrenched antisemitism loomed large, driven by a leader who even now doesn’t understand it stems from him. At least in France, that intelligent young leader Macron understands that anti-Zionism is the modern form of antisemitism. But with Corbyn there’s something else. Why doesn’t he want a second Brexit referendum? Because the EU would stifle his ambitions of leading Britain in a new Marxist state. We don’t want extremism. We don’t want to run out of food. Please can we stop playing childish games!
There’s nothing like being ill to give you a different perspective on the world. So, as I cough my heart out, how can we help ourselves? First, personally. When you need to get up in the night, first sit on the side of the bed for 30 seconds. As any paramedic will tell you, that’s the way to avoid a stroke. And the metabolism of the world? Forget Brexit and widen your horizons. Ask yourself if every nation should join together as one world, agreeing to never fight each other again, nor to show irrational hostility to others. Yes, it would reduce individual nation power, but as long as each new World State retained its individual ethos, wars and irrational hostility to others were eliminated, isn’t that a price worth paying? Tiny Hawaii, despite being a part of the USA, is still very different from, say, Washington DC. Great care, though, would need to be taken to avoid a world dictatorship at the top! World democracy would be key. But at least then when the first alien visitors arrive, they could be taken to Earth’s leader!
Nothing’s perfect in life. So much is a compromise. Britain’s in a state of flux at present but is a breakthrough on the horizon? A promising end to the Brexit stalemate has been proposed whereby the PM’s withdrawal deal with a guaranteed second referendum for the public could well be approved by parliament. Anything to dig us out of the current impasse would be welcome. Increasingly, also, I turn my steely eye westwards and wonder why the current President hasn’t suffered the same fate as some of his predecessors like Nixon or even Clinton. But I don’t understand America. Don’t be fooled by the fact they speak English; the US is a foreign country. However, what I do understand, after 12 years away, is I need to live in a country where I fully understand what’s going on - however mired in political shenanigans it may be. Choosing to live away from home, when you don’t have to, is simply a fool’s paradise.