Cheap

Just watching the News here. The main items, of course, are UK news.

Boris Johnson.

They knew about him before he became mayor of London. They certainly knew about him afterwards. Like his cousin in the US, former advisors made small fortunes with their revelations. Unable to grasp the detail. A bit of a buffoon.

But he has charisma. Oh, the applause he received when he promised to lie in front of the bulldozers if they started digging at Heathrow Airport.

When he happened to campaign on the right side in the Brexit referendum (and it was a margin call) he became impossible to ignore. He was promoted to the cabinet, and was a part of the government which… approved the new runway at Heathrow. But no matter, talk is cheap. Say one thing, do another. Talk is cheap.

But he has charisma. Conservative MPs elected him their leader. He has charisma. He unified the party. With a straightforward message on delivering Brexit, he won a General Election. Decisively. He has charisma. He’s now trying to row back on the original Brexit agreement, but no matter. Talk is cheap.

COVID. Takes us all by surprise. We appreciate the value of Test and Trace. We will test some more. 10,000 per day, by the end of the month. We miss that target. So we increase the target to 25,000. We miss that target, too. Early on, Johnson promises a “world-beating” Tracing App. Nothing materialises, world-beating or otherwise. But no matter, talk is cheap. But over the months, testing increases, quickly at first, but more slowly between May – September. The “second wave” has been promised since July.

Testing is being shown as woefully inadequate. “Nobody could have predicted the need”, says a Johnson supporter. “We predicted it in March”, say the WHO. But no matter, talk is cheap.

But it is worldwide. Peru’s president: we will defeat the virus. Echoes of Winston Churchill. I bet their public love them for it.

Now tell us how. Talk is cheap. India has a says it has a refreshingly low death rate. Because it isn’t counting them all. Talk is cheap.

A Fresh Perspective

I’m prompted to write this by the Democrat Convention in the US.

We had an election in the UK last December. At that election, I spoiled my ballot, because I didn’t rate any candidate. I was uneasy doing this, I thought about it afterwards. My conclusion that we’re stuck with our political system, we don’t have an option just to walk away and let them get on with it, and the only way we can improve our lot is from the inside.

So I decided that I should probably take part in future ballots. But I’m still left with the problem that none of the candidates was any good. So, who should I vote for?

I reconciled this by turning it on its head. I have to stop looking for the most suitable candidate, but for the least unsuitable.

The implication of this is that even if the candidate I voted for gets elected, there’ll still be things I’m unhappy with. So, I’ll still end up wanting better, even though I supported them. But there we go – nobody is perfect.

Anybody else who maybe is faced with some bad election candidates, maybe that’s an option? Instead of looking for the best candidate, and being disappointed (because none of them are much good), to think instead in terms of the least worst candidate?

Uppity

Americans are not the only people to have demanded better representation from the UK – you might be surprised to learn that British people had to demand it, too.

Today, in 1819 a crowd of 60,000 protesters gathered at St. Peter’s Field, Manchester, to demand better parliamentary representation. At that time, just 11% of adult men, no women, decided the fate of the entire nation. The price of bread was artificially kept high due to laws called the Corn Laws, and electoral reform was seen as the first step along the road to counter the high unemployment which followed the Napoleonic Wars.

The state’s response? A full, sabres-drawn, cavalry-charge by the hussars. As you might expect for the period, there are no firm numbers, although most estimates put the number of injured at around 400 – some are as high as 600 – with the number of deaths at around 15.

Today is the 201st anniversary of the Peterloo Massacre.

There is no such place as Peterloo – the name was coined by a local newspaper immediately after the incident as a direct reference to the Battle of Waterloo, which had taken place just four years earlier.

And, our parliament’s more considered response? To ban demonstrations.

Sharing

I’ve posted before on how I love the “international” nature of WordPress. This morning, in my reader, I saw a post from an Italian blogger I follow.

I don’t have Italian. A couple of French blogs, I can wing it – I’ll listen to the post and maybe pick up on 2/3 of it. I’ll miss the nuances but I will catch the overall drift. But Italian – I’m straight off to Google. It’s true that I now recognise a few words of Italian, purely courtesy of these bloggers, but certainly not enough to make sense of things.

This morning was a bit of a merry dance. My Italian friend, there was a tiny amount of text there, but all they were really doing was sharing another post. This post was in Spanish, although I caught references inside the post to the Middle East.

Let’s put to one side that some people are cheerfully speaking four or five different languages, while many of us struggle with just one. Suffice it to say that I am perpetually reminded of my own laziness when I read these posts.

Anyway, the dance was ultimately very rewarding. This post appeared to be by a Muslim feminist.

Think about that for a moment – it is not an oxymoron, despite what our media likes to tell us.

One of the things I pick up from our media is that Islam treats women as second-class citizens. While there seems to be an element of that, there are nevertheless Muslims out there who are just as outraged by this as I am.

I just find it encouraging that we take down the language barriers, we take down the religious barriers, and so many of us, worldwide, share the same values in life.

Nicked

I saw a post last night which talked partly about something which happened in the UK about a week ago.

A la George Floyd, a policeman subdued a suspect by kneeling on their neck. Fortunately, in this case, the suspect did not die.

The incident took place on the street, outside somebody’s house. The householder heard a commotion, realised what was going on, and filmed the incident.

The film made the news channels. At this time, of course it would.

I didn’t see the incident as particularly worthy of comment, because at the time, the wheels seemed to be moving in the right direction. The policeman was suspended within a couple of hours – purely for the reason that the police’s instruction manual states, apparently, that kneeling on a suspect’s neck is not permitted.

The post last night made the point that video cameras only ever give us a partial view, which is of course correct. The movie I saw on the news, somebody will have hit the start button, somebody will have hit the stop button, somebody might well have edited out the middle bit, which they decided was unimportant. So it had been deliberately decided what I would see before the clip was even aired. I understand that. All news is like that. Evidence from a single camera would instantly fail the legal test of being the whole truth.

But we live in an age where every smartphone has a video camera, and so many of us all have smartphones. We film all sorts of crap. So how could somebody do this, and think that nobody would capture it?

Second, George Floyd was killed on 25 May. That single incident sparked protests around the world. So how could anybody think it would not be newsworthy? And more fundamentally, putting the Floyd murder to one side, how can anybody think that using their knee to suffocate another human being is acceptable? You know, are there any reasons, ever, why this is acceptable?

Now, bear in mind that the policeman in this case has been hired at great public expense, has been trained at great public expense, to uphold the law. Has more than likely been armed, for that very same purpose. So I have one more question – how much do we trust this guy’s judgement, to do this for us?

You know, it is absolutely true that cameras do not tell the whole story, but how much more of this story do we need to know?