Wednesday 28 August 2019

The UK: Exercising a prerogative of protest at the prorogation of principle

This is trouble brewing
Amidst the other uncertainties that have occupied my time and space, it was a sense of powerlessness and numbness that caught me when I read that the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom had asked the Queen to suspend Parliament. [Channel 4]
This could easily have been a constitutional crisis, but the decision was purely political, a gambler’s last stance at a poker table to get #Brexit over the line where the power of persuasion, the force of argument, the exchange of ideas and robust debate had failed to bring Parliament over to the intentions, agenda and programme of Her Majesty’s Government.
A brigandage in Downing Street
The Prorogation of Parliament is rarely used in a high stakes drama like this, almost never in living memory except for peers of the super-septuagenarian set. It is in this case an act of malevolent Machiavellian statecraft that would have far-reaching consequences for the way the traditions of our parliamentary democracy can be gamed in the interest of ideology over national interest.
The Queen by terms has the prerogative power but is bound to act on the advice of her government and the Privy Council. Whilst she might offer advice, the monarchy has the solemn duty to be above the fray that it cannot interfere even of she as a person and sovereign of our nation has had the great fortitude of inviting 14 Prime Ministers to form a government since she was enthroned in 1952. Sir Winston Churchill was her first.
A disorderly mess
Our distorted, rancorous, and disorderly exit from Europe has left many carcases in its wake, we are on our third Prime Minister and for over three years, not one side of the people’s representation in Parliament has been able to claim a decisive victory in the quest for either exiting or remaining in Europe.
An advisory referendum, poorly implemented, badly fought and corruptly won has hamstrung the country and sucked oxygen out of any viable activity in the UK, yet, the creed stands strong in the hurtling down this precipice in a display of everything redolent of English bloody-mindedness.
Europe is not the problem
I do not believe that Europe has ever been the problem, it is the people we have sent to Europe that has left us with a raw deal. Where other nations sent their best, we found the eccentric, the rabble-rousers and fringe politicians to negotiate on our behalf, the likes of Nigel Farage whose penchant for insult, rudeness and cringe-worthy soundbite would never have with the best ideas in the world be able to win a consensus or an agreement in any committee.
He, as a member of the fisheries committee only attended 1 of 42 sittings, and he had to audacity to board a fishing boat throwing dead fish in the Thames to make the point about seizing back control of our waters.
We, as an electorate have ourselves to blame the most, those who came out to vote won over by questionable arguments, those who allowed apathy to rob them of a say in how they are governed has led to a representation of gamblers. David Cameron, Theresa May, Boris Johnson, Jeremy Corbyn, they all owe their rise to people gambling on their future or hoping their single vote can send a message, which is fine, but many messages can end up choosing the wrong representative and lead us down the road to an uncertain future as Brexit portends.
How Europe gives clout
Being in Europe still matters, the evidence of that is in how the Republic of Ireland with just 4.9 million against the almost 70 million of the UK has clout by reason of being backed by the heft of the EU-27, the UK stands alone looking in from the outside with an outsized view of her influence that was progressively lost after two World Wars.
All the trade deals we now want to negotiate after Brexit, we already have as part of the European Union, we are not going to get better deals than those that the EU has already won with hard bargaining, the numbers, the skill and the statesmanship. The UK in the hands of these peddlers of vacuous optimism who have the temerity to question our patriotism when we challenge their baseless assertions leaves one terrified of the future.
Not this cacophony of jesters
Yet, we are full of fight, the last has not been heard of this matter, for if at any time there was a leader of the calibre of Winston Churchill, Clement Attlee or Margaret Thatcher amongst this lot, there might have been a slight chance that they can pull off a successful Brexit, I doubt a hundred of them together can successfully manage a piss up in a brewery, they would likely piss away our future on the altar of privileges they have come to expect as their entitlement to rule without taking responsibility for any failings.
The Parliament is supposed to be sovereign. At this juncture, where the country faces a momentous decision as to our future, we have a Prime Minister who has no electoral mandate putting the mother of all Parliaments in the cooler to allow his government carry the country divided as it is through to a conclusion many of his cohort including himself have severally said to be anathema.
We already have the best deal
A no-deal Brexit is the worst-case scenario with no upside to it as the pound languishes at about 25% below its value before the Referendum, businesses are closing or moving to Mainland Europe, EU citizens who have made their home in this country are none the wiser of their status post-Brexit and the retired Brits out on the Mediterranean coasts of Europe and further afield in the Canaries have to contend with unnecessary geriatric anxiety.
For those who want to leave and those who wish to remain, we have a greater issue at stake, the reckless abuse of and usurpation of power by the executive in silencing the elected representatives of the people with the revising chamber for the presumed will of the people, which first was advisory, which was superseded by a general election, which should have had the full-throated agitations of the Parliament and having not won the argument, the government should have conceded defeat or sought another mandate.
We will fight this
This is a travesty and I believe there will be civil unrest for the fact that if taking back control was not to give it back to the sovereign Parliament, but for the executive to arrogate those powers to itself, our democracy is at an impasse and we need to revisit the fault lines of the separation of powers and how the Parliament should by rights be able to hold the executive to scrutiny and sanction for every action they take in the name of the people.

Tuesday 27 August 2019

Not perturbed by mountains

A weight of waiting
I sit in the quandary of mind, far away a dear awaits the notice to act, together we wonder about the near and the far, unsure of what it might portend.
Yet, an agreement does persist that regardless of what we eventually learn, it would not stand in the way of what we have planned. In the waiting is some anxiety, it deigns to sap the reserves of hope and expectation.
We would not faint in the quest of what is happening between us, for the consideration is deep and the purpose is crystallising into something dreams are made of. Gems and treasure gain value in the labour expended, of time, of toil, of trial, of test, and of testament.
In that, there is assurance, that hurdles would be skipped, mountains will be scaled, obstacles will be overcome, difficulties will be solved, rivers will be swum, forded, boated or bridged and at the end will lay a prize that no one will be able to take away.
In our talk comes the comfort from turmoil and in our conversation is the calming of the nerves, we like iron sharpens iron, strengthen each other, supporting the waning to bring it to the thriving.
It is a little setback that gives way to great opportunities, in that, we are confident that love does conquer all.

Tuesday 6 August 2019

Sexual Education and Parental Naivety

Unforgiveable parental naivety
This would naturally be a taboo topic, but thinking this afternoon, my mind wandered off to a distant past of my childhood where I concluded that by the age of 10, I knew a good deal about sex without having received any sex education, at least from a formal perspective.
This issue of parental naivety is still rife, the feeling that good sexual mores is acquired by some osmotic transference from a nondescript place. The way parents play with childhood innocence with the view of keeping their wards ignorant of the basics about sex can at best be criminal.
You have to wonder
For instance, the only time my sexual organs were examined by any parent was when I think I was 8, my father was checking if my balls had descended, I was however clueless about what he intended, it might well have been concerns about my development having been a pre-term baby.
Yet, unknown to either parent, I had already had my first sexual experience at 7 and was growing in the knowledge of it through those years. I remember going through a dictionary and looking up every word that began with sex-, which included sexagenarian, sextant, sexual and sexy. A form of titillation of the mind for my age.
Has any parent even wondered, what does my child at their age know about sex?
Enlightenment is protection
The truth is, my parents never discussed sex with me, the first time that subject came up was after our house-girl had been raped by our driver, the enquiry of who might have been responsible for her pregnancy asking if I was responsible. I was mortified, the thought just never crossed my mind, but the sad narrative here is that many parents get to talk about sex with their children the first time, usually after the consequences of bad, risky or unsafe sex have become impossible to ignore.
Just imagine if by the age of 5 I had been told, if anyone touched me in a funny place, I should scream and run to a responsible adult to report my ordeal. I doubt many parents broach that subject out of fear, ignorance, foreboding or hope that everything is fine, when things are not.
Teach or they’ll be taught
The truth is if you do not take on the onerous responsibility to teach your child about sex, sex abuse and the way paedophiles gain sexual favours of unwittingly innocent children, your child would get their lessons from people, places and circumstances you have no control of and you not hear a pip about it for years because the abuser would have put in threats and dares that would prevent your child from running straight over to you.
In the end, you as a parent would ultimately responsible for the ignorance is bliss approach to the sexual education of your child, whilst the poor child is already recruited as a pleasure unit of the abuser, terrified into silence and damaged for life.
You have to decide how you manage this subject, what you cannot do is pretend it is not important, moralise about bad influences and then down the line threaten hell, hell and brimstone on the child has not done what should have been done long before you found yourself caring for a mental illness, treating an incurable sexually transmitted disease or holding an unexpected grandchild.

Monday 5 August 2019

Thought Picnic: On growing into being at ease with everything

Understanding me
With time I have grown to understand that I am a child of privilege, the privilege of my place of birth, the privilege of my early education, the privilege of having parents who exuded professional confidence in the choice of career and the progression it took in their professional lives, the privilege of not needing to belong when there was the pressure to belong, the privilege of knowing, understanding and accepting who I am, the privilege of having horizons only limited by my ability to dream or imagine.
In having this privilege, it does not mean I was born with a silver spoon in my mouth, we were not a moneyed or rich class, but we had sufficiency and contentment, I saw in my parents a steady ambition without greed, a healthy bearing of self-respect, a commanding confidence in leadership, the ability to adapt to many situations and relate to people in different walks of life.
Fixing on the positive
It did not make my parents perfect, they had their numerous flaws, part of the privilege of my upbringing included appreciating value and discarding the dispensible; as a preacher once said, to have the sense of an old cow by eating the hay and leaving the baling wire.
Altogether, these examples have helped me adopt an outlook and mindset that allows me to thrive in many settings in which I have found myself. To accept the many privileges, I have without repudiation and guilt, recognising there are many not as fortunate as I have been and seeking ways to help others rise above the limitations imposed by the absence of privilege or opportunity to realise any of their potential.
Glad to help
Where I can, I provide means, hopefully, I can show some example, in some cases, I offer guidance and to some, I have been honoured with the opportunity to mentor. If I seek any reward, it is to see whoever I have engaged thrive and succeed, whether they better my achievements is usually up to their innate abilities and good fortune, I will celebrate and herald them, for it redounds to my joy.
In view of this, I am thinking of ways in which I have help people be first at ease with themselves and who they are without shame or self-deprecation, then be at ease with any place or situation they might find themselves to be able to express themselves clearly, with confidence, polish and assuredness.
Working on the foundations
Know that they can fit in, by merit, by ability and by achievement with every means to find opportunity, gain favour, have others see potential in them that can take them to new ground. Maybe there is a way to teach presence whilst understated, bearing, class and sophistication without putting on airs or having delusions of grandeur.
To find ways of being the best representative of yourself with simple adjustments and accoutrements, by so presenting the version of yourself without having to struggle to maintain the standards you have created for yourself in having principles, integrity and poise.
An identity crisis
In watching 'How to Break Into the Elite' on BBC Two last week, I realised how many having much academic achievement still found it difficult to access elite professional opportunities because whilst their qualifications might have taken to interviews, they rarely clinched the jobs due to other subjective elements of their person, personality, expression or conduct.
Their backgrounds, identity, schooling or absence of example of how to access these places then thrive in those environments appeared to dog their efforts and probably there is no finishing school that can properly inculcate the necessary mien and mores to give them a fighting chance. [BBC iPlayer]
Starting somewhere
The little touches matter, like the effortless knowledge of the basic social codes of appearance, language and comportment, these things appear to carry much significance in getting access, getting ahead and getting noticed. For some, it comes naturally, for others, they need to have a place where they observe, appreciate, learn and exercise how it opens doors of interest, engagement, recognition and help.
This is an area where I hope I can begin to give back in gratitude for the good fortune and privileges I have had.