Who Won the Week (15 March 2020)

I have Fandango to thank for this title – he has been posting regularly on this subject from his west-coast-USA vantage point. I am interested in current affairs too, and normally have some nonsense or other to spout about one of the UK’s topical news stories. So, I like to join in. Maybe there’s something in your world that you’d like to post about?

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Another week where I didn’t really have a winner. The media everywhere is dominated by Corona, and I posted on it both last week and yesterday. We had a budget in the UK, but I can’t possibly imagine anybody anywhere else being interested – bottom line is our government expects our economy to tank because of this virus, so they are handing out various breaks. Whether they will make any difference is unlikely. Under our right-wing government, the state is now spending more, proportionally, than the last left-wing government. Unusual times…

I did, however, take a look on Wikipedia to see what had happened on this day in history.

  • Would you believe it was a year ago that almost 1½ million young people went “on strike” for the day to protest about our inaction over Climate Change? Judge for yoursewlf how much has changed, even of people’s outlook. I think when we kept electing people who thought it was all hokus pocus, there was only ever going to be one outcome.
  • In 2011, that’s nine years ago, the first shots were fired today in the Syrian Civil War. Syria is probably a long way away for many of us, but it is a conflict which has drawn in both the USA and Russia, and has spawned a wave refugees, and a wave of nationalism, in both the UK and Europe. It is still ongoing, and I am left wondering exactly what kind of country Assad thinks he will ultimately govern.
  • Oh, and on this day in 1888, the Anglo-Tibetan war began. Isn’t it amazing, what you find out on Wikipedia? I never knew there even was an Anglo-Tibetan War. Boy, we sure knew how to pick our enemies back then!
  • Even further back, in 1672, British king Charles II issues the Royal Declaration of Indulgence. That sounds ominous, since this guy’s indulgence caused a civil war! Although this proclamation seems to be geared toward religious tolerance.

You think that the news is too depressing already? Just keep reading my posts!

Who Won the Week (1 March 2020)

I have Fandango to thank for this title – he has been posting regularly on this subject from his west-coast-USA vantage point. I am interested in current affairs too, and normally have some nonsense or other to spout about one of the UK’s topical news stories. So, I like to join in. Maybe there’s something in your world that you’d like to post about?

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Developing new airport capacity has long been a thorny issue in the UK. After lengthy debate last time around, the Cameron governent announced that there would indeed be new capacity, somewhere, then launched an inquiry to determine where.

In 2015, the newly-elected MP for Uxbridge, the constituency in which Heathrow Airport lay, promised he would not let the project go ahead. It was a popular move among locals – with two runways already, many people felt that there was more than enough noise there already.

I will join you. I will lie down in front of those bulldozers and stop the construction of that third runway, said the fired-up MP, a chap by the name of Boris Johnson. When push came to shove, though, the government did select Heathrow for the extra capacity. Calmed down some by now, though, Mr Johnson was absent in 2018, when the crucial vote on the extra runway took place. I guess he thought that being away was his best career option – he opposed the projeect itself, but at the same time, did not wish to directly oppose his own government.

Other people were not so wishy-washy in their opposition, however, and after the decision, took the government to court. You see, half-hearted as the Paris Climate Agreement was, it was, at least, ratified in UK law, and the campaigners claimed that the government was obliged to take account of the agreement in any decision, and it had failed to do this. The court, this week, agreed with them.

The thing I found remarkable about this was the follow-on story, which broke just a few hours later. The government will not appeal the decision. Do you maybe get the sense that there might be a certain amount of relief that they lost their own case? Johnson is newly in control, after all*.

* allegedly.

Heathrow Airport, undoubtedly, will appeal the decision. After all, they just saw all that money evaporate. Their argument is simply that the business that would have been generated by an extra runway will now just go to Paris or Amsterdam instead, so the environment won’t actually win, whatever the UK’s decision.

For my money, though, something is either right or it is wrong, and we should behave accordingly. Wrong doesn’t become right, simply because our neighbour is doing it. Let’s hope the French and the Dutch agree, and also do the right thing. The environmental debate was always about the yes/no?, and not the where? So now we need other people to follow the UK’s decision.

But the biggest win here, I haven’t even mentioned yet. The biggest win is the precedent that now exists in the UK, that new infrastructure projects must be tested against our environmental obligations. If they don’t come up to scratch, then we can expect legal challenges. New roads, for example, and only a couple of weeks ago here, the government confirmed a new high-speed railway line (imaginitively called HS2) which again, will have to pass these tests.

So, I do actually have a winner this week, but unfortunately I don’t know their name. It is the poor sod who would have been tasked with clearing Johnson’s muddy, bloody, but very flat corpse from underneath that bulldozer, because … what a bastard of a job that would have been!