Five weeks on from Grandad’s last posting and the Wuhan Virus now has a new name – plus has expanded world-wide. In the UK Covid-19 has now claimed 21 lives but that may well have increased even before this posting appears online.
in Europe the situation has deteriorated rapidly with worst-case Italy
reporting yesterday that 1,016 deaths had been identified as Covid-19 related. And many of these were senior citizens.
the compounding growth rate of infections continues the next few weeks
will see the number of deaths grow every day – claiming mainly the
elderly and the already vulnerable. The short-term prospects are to
prepare for bad news.
even if the virus has no direct impact on your friends and family, the
financial chaos that is being created almost certainly will.
cities like Oxford, Cambridge, York and even Edinburgh that depend upon
tourism and overseas students for a large percentage of their turnover.
Hotels, restaurants, retailers, airlines, coach and train companies are
all going to experience drastic cuts to their incomes. Jobs will go and
businesses will fail – even if there is billions in government support.
And away from these high profile examples there will still be major
disruptions and life-changing events. Take football – where many clubs
below the Premier League depend upon gate receipts and local corporate
sponsors. If both income streams stop then closure can be the only
hope is that the numbers of new infections will start to decline by
summer – and allow some of the restrictions to be lifted; so letting
trade slowly return. However the UK, along with other major economies,
was far from being financially healthy before Covid-19 appeared.
This is why we have had such low interest rates – and why the Bank of
England governor, Mary Carney, cut interest rates to 0.25% before the
Budget last week. Quite a way to leave office – tomorrow!
How will this all turn out? Who knows. But Grandad is off to read-up about Spanish Flu and check that his will is still valid …
decade has started out with a roar – with threats of everything from
global pandemic to weather chaos; from stock market crash to royal
have no fear an intrepid junior reporter has emerged. One who will stop
the evil US president, outwit the scheming eastern dictator and mobilise
the youth of the free world to stop climate change before we and all of
the Earth’s animals starve, burn or are drowned.
Now Grandad remains unconvinced that Grintin
has any real solutions and can only act as a voice for others.
Hopefully those that have researched the issue in depth. But this leaves
the whole climate action programme vulnerable to being hijacked by
vested interests. And there are plenty who see their chance to make a
lot of money out of phoney climate initiatives.
there are some big issues that need to be faced head-on – with the ever
expanding human population being the key driver of almost all of them.
Now if Grintin can convince the world to act on that then there is a chance for future generations.
cynics will say that there is no money to be made out of population
reduction – so it won’t happen. Not by any human actions that is …
estimated that one deadly strain of avian influenza caused the deaths of
50 million people worldwide. In England it was named Spanish Flu. It broke out here in 1918 so towards the end of First World War.
The current outbreak of Wuhan Virus
is being taken very seriously but so far represents just a tiny
fraction of the human cost that the pandemic of 1918 incurred. However
the big issue that most commentators are not addressing is the
disproportionate impact that the quarantine measures are going to have
on world trade – and the global economy. In effect the entire world’s
factory has been all but closed.
week that a factory in China, normally producing goods for export,
remains closed around 2% of its annual production is lost. How many
factories in China are already closed? And how many more will follow?
How long before they can re-open?
we can all survive if the launch of the latest smartphone is delayed for
months or even years. But the mighty Apple will soon feel the icy blast
of recession if it runs out of products to sell. And it’s not just
factory products impacted. At the opposite end of the process raw
materials like coal, oil, iron ore, etc will experience a big drop in
demand. This in turn will lead to a drop in prices and lay-offs in
countries far away from the regions infected by the Wuhan virus.
is a serious risk that there will be a collapse in world trade – and
perhaps one big enough in scale to surpass the Wall Street Crash of the
1920’s … And that is yet another piece of 20th century history that no
one wants to see repeated.
scoreboard showing 1,314 days since the UK’s vote to leave the European
Union the chances of another failure to deliver seem vanishingly small.
And so just 3 more days remain for our country as a member. That in
itself will be a first time situation for many British people. But then
the 20’s seem set to be a decade of change in many ways.
at the top we have a monarch who has served for 67 years and will reach
her 100 years in 2026 while her consort the Duke of Edinburgh will
reach that milestone sooner – in 2021. A fact of human life is that it
is finite – and so we must face the possibility that the 2020’s will be
the last decade of the New Elizabethan era. So while Harry makes the headlines today it is the future of the monarchy that will come into question before too long.
the children of the 1940’s baby boom will reach their 80’s over the
next ten years and fade away in greater numbers than ever before. A
statistical fact used by pro-EU vote losers as a crutch to promote
rejoining after another vote. Sadly for them this will never occur as
both economic factors and bigger world issues will take priority over
political manoeuvres in Europe.
the biggest world issue will be climate change – along with the actions
we are required to take in response. But that needs a separate posting
after a month’s absence we find that the British political map has been
redrawn. Now many of the changes were widely predicted – or at least
hoped for – but perhaps few thought that so many would be realised so
Labour Party were shown to have fallen for their own spin that the
traditionally industrial regions would always vote for them no matter
how little notice had been taken of their opinions. In the real world
seats like Bolsover were full of voters fed up with the Islington
doctrines. One typical result being that Dennis Skinner was ousted after
49 years of being the MP for this rock-solid labour constituency.
many of those MPs that had pushed their own agendas, rather than serve
the people that they were elected to represent, got what they deserved.
They wont be amongst those being sworn in to the new parliament next
the Brexit Party failed to get any of their candidates past the post in
first place. This is not what many had hoped for – yet their effect on
the result was far greater than either Labour or Conservative supporters
– and the BBC – would admit.
our own constituency. The Conservative vote was up by less than 1.5% yet
the well-liked sitting Labour candidate had a vote fall-off of almost
18%. Why? Because the Brexit Party took almost 14% of the vote. Not
enough to do better than third overall but enough to sink Labour. So
much for people who voted to leave the EU in 2016 having changed their
mind, having died off or having been replaced by more intelligent first time Labour / Remain voters.
What next? A Conservative government with 162 more MPs than a leaderless Labour opposition certainly changes the game plan – especially after replacing dissident Conservative MPs with loyal party supporters and getting a new Speaker. Changes that should remove many of the obstacles to progress. And ones that will have already been noted by our European partners.
treaty with the EU is far from ideal – or even being desirable – but in
practice the WTO option for leaving looks as dead as remaining. So
neither side of the EU membership debate actually gets a clear victory.
The outcome is coloured neither blue nor red but a muddy brown shade of
It’s 4 pm so nominations for candidates in next month’s general election have closed.
after a short delay a full list of potential members of parliament for
all 650 seats should be available to the voters. A list that should be
notable if only because of the number of changes since the last national
vote. Even without all the schemes for tactical voting – ie voting for
someone you don’t like so has to disadvantage someone you like even less
or just not fielding a candidate – there were around seventy seats
where the previous MP is not standing.
that there are also seats where the previous MP is standing but has
changed allegiance the total number of new MPs must be approaching a
hundred. And that does not allow for the fact that the Labour Party has
switched from – at best – neutral to firmly pro-EU. A move that that
will change voting patterns that have been in place for decades in some
the political turmoil of the past few years the 2019 result is going to
be hard to predict – but it is quite possible that Friday the 13th will
see the no end to the unrest …
The role of
president of the European Central Bank (ECB) is vitally important for
the prudent management of the euro. A tricky task when it is used in
nineteen countries with widely-divergent economies.
last week the role was filled by Mario Draghi and under his management
trillions of extra euros were created and mainly used to fund government
borrowing and EU industries through buying their bonds. This was
intended to have the effect of getting businesses to expand.
Friday Christine Lagarde started her eight year term as ECB president –
and set out with a commitment for further euro printing. But that was
arranged by Draghi before he left. An unusual move in the circumstances –
and one that was opposed by seven of the twenty-five strong governing
council. A body that reflects that basic problem with the EU – the
differences between the financial policies needed in, for example,
Greece and Germany. It is also a body that Mde. Lagarde will need for
help – since she lacks any central bank experience herself.
that never stopped her at the IMF so the chances are that the euro will
not fall into terminal decline – despite various predictions in recent
years. Just as long as the Germans can keep their economy buoyant …
and stick with the euro.
November and the UK’s position with the European Union remains
unchanged. Despite all the promises we are still paying the EU vast
amounts so that they can spend our taxes on themselves and their pet
schemes in Europe and on aid around the world.
Now the mythical
leaving date has been moved to the end of January 2020. This gives the
politicians just thirteen weeks to complete their scrutiny and implement
some form of exit plan.
the first six of these weeks will be spent campaigning in a general
election. Then at least the next three will be spent getting the new
parliament in place and taking a Christmas-New Year break. Then no more
than four weeks will remain for the new balance of power to take control
and finalise a plan.
Of course the numbers are critical in determining how these four weeks progress – if at all. The so-called Liberal Democrats (George Orwell’s fictional NewSpeak
becomes fact!) intend to revoke our request to leave if they get the
chance. And there are constituencies that voted to remain in 2016 where
today’s voters think that this is acceptable practice. With a number of
MPs switching their allegiance the party could gain seats – but perhaps
not enough to have another female Prime Minister just yet [sorry Jo]
the Marx Brothers – and Sisters – say they will delay leaving yet again
so that they can negotiate a better leaving deal and then campaign to
remain through a second referendum. One that excludes the option to
leave as a free agent under world trade terms. Considering that many Grandads
from outside of Greater London who voted to leave in 2016 are also
traditional Labour voters this approach seems doomed from day one. The
only question is how many seats will Labour loose?
At the Shrine of the Dead Donkey the Conservative position is let’s back the May-Robbins-Johnson deal and move on. This policy could be good enough to convince enough voters and so add enough seats for a new government to have a working majority. Its major weakness is that it leaves the country shackled to our friends in Europe. And that man Barnier is already lined-up to extract the maximum punishment in the trade talks still to come. Given the time and effort spent to get to the current position – and what has happened with other trade deals – we could be suffering at the hands of the EU for many more years.
we have the party that highlighted the problems created when widely
divergent nations are tied to a common bureaucracy. In this election the
Brexit Party will suffer from being seen as a one issue party – and
from the Conservatives reluctance to spell out what their deal really
means. The voting public are smart enough to treat Euro elections
differently to domestic ones. So the TBP will not gain as many seats as
they did earlier this year. However they have the possibility of gaining
some and these could be critical in influencing the outcome of those
four weeks in January.
all depends on how well the implications – and shortcomings – of the
current deal can be explained. And if the new parliament reverses the
no-deal block that was imposed by political scaremongers in the last
Time to book some holidays away from all of this …
should, according to previous promises by our Prime Minster, be the
country’s last as a member of the European Union.
even though there are six remaining days for things to change, it seems
almost certain that leaving at the end of October will become another
promise that is broken.
the lack of a majority in parliament has left the country with a
government that is unable to govern. With an array of anti-exit
political factions and vested interests against it any meaningful
progress has become impossible – even the judiciary showed their bias.
Of course, for the many Grandads
happy to support leaving without the far-reaching constraints demanded
by the EU, this situation means that a bad deal has also been delayed –
so far. But with many politicians demanding that No-Deal is taken off the table the chances of the UK actually escaping the spider’s web of EU control next week seem slim.
giving up on the present parliament and having a general election does
offer a potential solution. But only if it results in a clear majority
of MPs being in one camp or the other. Recent experience shows that
another minority government could be the result – and then we are back
in the same situation by Christmas.
public’s view of our pseudo-democratic representatives must now have
fallen to an all-time low – with plenty of justification.