Category Archives: Newspapers

Mischief Night

In northern England it used to be the case that the night before Plot Night – Bonfire Night – was when children would play tricks on people or raid supplies for their bonfire from any near-by competitors. But like most folk traditions the practice is long gone – probably because bonfires do not go well with tarmac roads or burning rubbish in the street!

USPres2020-1In 2020 we have instead the political grandchild of Mischief Night – the counting and disputing of votes in the US presidential election.

With the only two realistic candidates having a combined age of over 150 years it seems that the US voting system is not producing the best choices. And this year the US voters only had the option of picking between two grandads – one who thinks he is on some reality TV show and the other who gets too easily confused to safely act as commander in chief of the US military. What a choice ..

But then who are we to complain. Britain – and indeed Europe – does have more than its fair share of political players who easily justify the title worse than useless

Expert Opinion

Today the UK press have a series of quotes from Tom Jefferson, a professor at Oxford University’s Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine. One was – In 1918 around 30 per cent of the population of Western Samoa died of Spanish Flu, and they hadn’t had any communication with the outside world. He added: The explanation for this could only be that these agents don’t come or go anywhere. They are always here and something ignites them, maybe human density or environmental conditions, and this is what we should be looking for.

Man1902His statements should have carried some weight considering his position and the specialisation in evidence-based research. However some very basic fact checking reveals the real source of the outbreak – On 7 November 1918, the New Zealand passenger and cargo ship Talune arrived at Apia from Auckland. On board were people suffering from pneumonic influenza, a highly infectious disease already responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths around the world. Although the Talune had been quarantined in Fiji, no such restrictions were imposed in Samoa. Sick passengers were allowed to disembark. The disease spread rapidly through the islands. [NZ Government]

Now the case of Western Samoa is not some minor incident hidden in the archives. It was the subject of a royal commission and a UN report. It impacted relations with New Zealand for decades. So either the professor is deliberately giving out false statements or is most unsuitable for his academic rank and position …

So much for this expert’s opinion. Now let’s all hope that those experts in the UK Government’s SAGE group live up to their grand title regarding the handling of Covid-19.

Salzburg Shambles

Well that certainly went well for Olly and Theresa’s masterpiece – the Cheques Plan.

Napoleon_Macron3wChequers? – more like Snakes and Ladders!

The EU side was unimpressed with the British plan – which is hardly surprising considering that it was unchanged from the one released in July. Then, as Grandad reported, The Irish Times had led with – Brexit: UK’s White Paper largely unworkable, says Barnier.

Unsurprisingly it is still largely unworkable from the EU standpoint. What did our PM and her advisors expect them to say? Oh yes, we were wrong all along – please go ahead with your plan. True, they could have said something mildly encouraging and non-committal – at least in public. But there has already been more than two years of Britain trying to get the deals that the EU will never give. A permanent impasse blocking Whitehall’s impractical dreams.

So that’s another two months gone without any useful progress but plenty of inept political posturing. Going forward we really should not spend any more time on these futile exchanges. It’s time to drop the dead donkey and accept our role as an independent nation once again. Grandad just wishes that we had another Duke of Wellington figure to take the lead.

A Voice To The Voiceless

Guradian20180815

To quote from The Guardian’s sales pitch …

The Guardian is editorially independent… it enables us to give a voice to the voiceless, challenge the powerful and hold them to account. It’s what makes us different to so many others in the media, at a time when factual, honest reporting is critical.

And for just an extra £20 a time you can also share the wit and wisdom of these two great 21st century thinkers. Sadly Grandad will not be able to attend …

End of Term

Schools are out, holidays are here and for much of the UK the weather is Scorchio! And with Westminster’s summer session ending tomorrow we can all have a much needed break from both work and politics – possibly.

Get-Away-300Sadly our government has left us with homework – in the form of a 104 page document setting out The future relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union.

Now very few voters are going to bother to read this important White Paper; especially at the start of the holidays. And the few that do try might change their minds by page one – which starts out –

In the referendum on 23 June 2016 – the largest ever democratic exercise in the United Kingdom – the British people voted to leave the European Union.

And that is what we will do – leaving the Single Market and the Customs Union, ending free movement and the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in this country, leaving the Common Agricultural Policy and the Common Fisheries Policy, and ending the days of sending vast sums of money to the EU every year. We will take back control of our money, laws, and borders, and begin a new exciting chapter in our nation’s history.

Even those with little interest in politics may be able to spot some issues already – just two paragraphs in. For example taking back control of our money – when exactly did we cede control of the pound to the EU? And ending the days of sending vast sums of money seems to ignore the £39,000 million already promised to be sent to the EU in the years after 2019. And stopping free movement can never happen as long as there is an open border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic – since simply flying to Dublin, from say Athens, will still provide an open door into the UK.

But, in reality, what we the general public think of this plan has little importance. It is what the EU thinks that is the next big issue. And things have not started well.

Just one day after its release The Guardian reported –  The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, has forensically picked apart Theresa May’s white paper after a meeting of the EU27, warning that the prime minister had failed to offer Brussels a firm basis for the negotiations. While The Irish Times led with – Brexit: UK’s White Paper largely unworkable, says Barnier.

So new boy Dominic Raab may have to cut short his holidays as Barnier told reporters: We have a lot of work to do with our teams. There are, as you know, 13 weeks left, before the October European council. In this time, short time, we have two things to do. We must finalise the withdrawal agreement and we are not yet there on governance.

However at least one man in Whitehall should be able to enjoy an even more luxurious break this summer considering the extra £20,000 he apparently received for simply doing his report-writing job. Go Olly!

Can You Believe It?

XpressWeather201707Despite years of contrary experience Grandad reluctantly agreed that the Express was right when warning of a Conservative melt-down. And so their journalistic credibility had been restored in our eyes.

In which case we simply had to believe their forecast of a 100 days of blazing heatwave – and planned for sweltering Summer.

But at less than halfway through those 100 days we find Rebecca Flood (did you spot that kiddies?) is forecasting 70 days of hail, rain and freezing temperatures instead.

With no way that both stories can be correct it’s back to bottom of the pile for the Express journalists. And perhaps Grandad’s biased prejudices were nearer to the truth after all.

Would You Believe It?

After the shock success of the DE election prediction Grandad has had no option but to reassess his views. So now we are totally confident that suntan lotion, cold beers and loaded barbecues will be all that we will need for the next three months or more.

XpressWeather201706Meanwhile the politicians, civil servants and assorted activists can roast in the flames of the hell that they have created. Another fine mess where the UK political establishment is floundering around in La La Land while being attacked from both within and without. A farce where no one makes any useful progress and the only certainties are more taxation and broken promises.

What next? The EU asked to appoint a competent negotiator to act on our behalf – with Guy Verhofstadt as acting Prime Minister? Excalibur is found in a lake and used by Cornwall to declare independence? Greece finds a hidden stockpile of bullion and pays off all its debts? Tony Blair descends on a golden cloud and saves us all? Who knows …

From Frying Pan To Fire

But Grandad could be wrong, the DE spin could be proved right – and UK voters could cause another political surprise.” Grandad was wrong – the DE spin was right!

“But just imagine what could happen if we wake up tomorrow to the prospect of a hung parliament or a change in government … Gawd help us!” We really do need help … big time.

Not sure whether to just add a 1000s column to our Brexit scoreboard and wait or make our escape while we still can …

Not Just Weather Predictions

The headlines on two different websites give two different meanings to the same set of results …

Daily Exp v. YouGov
Two different headlines

The Daily Express has built-up a well deserved reputation, over the years, for silly weather prediction headlines – and a good line in wacko science fiction reports – but its political stories are just as far fetched.

But Grandad could be wrong, the DE spin could be proved right – and UK voters could cause another political surprise.

We will see by the end of next week.

You Cannot Be Serious!

It’s supposed to be just one day each year – but not that you would know that by reading the media reports and political statements surrounding the attempts by the UK to have a new relationship with the EU.

EU_Fool_200
Fool in April or all the time?

Instead we are suffering from a range of demands and pronouncements that even the most cynical must be surprised by. Which of them are jokes and which are genuine? Which are serious plans and which are simply said to stir up dissent? Are any of them worth even repeating?

No trade deal negotiations before Article 50. No trade deals after Article 50 unless the UK pays 60,000 million euro. No exit agreement unless Gibraltar accepts control by Spain. No exit agreement unless the UK breaks links with the Commonwealth. UK to keep paying into EU for three years after leaving. Assets owned by the EU will not be shared with UK on leaving. EU citizens will retain free movement in / out of UK after leaving. UK will still need to subject to European court decisions after leaving. EU will continue to have access to UK intelligence resources after leaving for free. UK military resources will still be assigned to defending EU borders even if the EU countries do not pay their contractual contributions to NATO. Social security benefits will still be paid to EU citizens even if they are not UK tax payers or residents.

The list goes on and on … And with various political factions in each of the 27 EU members having their own demands perhaps they hope that the UK will be overwhelmed, give up and comply. However that’s a dangerous strategy since an increasingly likely outcome is that the EU will only benefit from a polite UK goodbye. Either way we will see little in the way of thanks or reward for the forty-four years of contributions paid by you and me – the typical UK tax payers – into the EU money pit. But only time will tell who has been the biggest fool.