We can’t have it all

There are some realities that we need to understand and own.

What do I mean ?

Well one of the consequences of Conservative rule since 2010 is that the UK has lost sight of reality, it has distanced itself from the Truth because the Truth is uncomfortable. Fantasies are more acceptable. The Truth is like that best friend who you resent when they say :-

“ No truly, your bum does look big in that.”

We resent it because it is a reality that is uncomfortable to own, our self image doesn’t encompass that, we would prefer to think of us differently.

Rishi Sunak is not a stupid person His politics I dislike but his achievement in making PM as a British Asian I applaud. He tells us what we want to hear while working in the background on the economic picture that he believes will deliver for the interests that are important to him. That doesn’t make him a bad man it just means that the exceptional that he has delivered – the first person of colour as Prime Minister is not all of what he is about . He is also a privileged person with a conservative background and philosophy and we should not ignore that.

Look at his Cabinet and ask “ do these people represent my values ?”

If we are going to address where the UK is right now we have to own what the UK has done in the last 12 years and ask the question “ have we listened to the Truth? ” because it seems to me that we have avoided it. ( I use the we in the collective sense – you dear reader as a discerning person are entirely different !)

The Truth, the uncomfortable Truth, will tell us that in terms of productivity, a key measure of economic performance, we are probably close to last place in Western Europe. In terms of using robotic dynamics and systems in production we are behind economies that we would like to think of as “emerging .”

Another key driver of our economy the financial services sector is in trouble and marginalised by Brexit. We are distanced from a key trading block in Europe and unlike our competitors who are emerging economies we do not have the trade relationships that they enjoy.

We are a “great nation “ aren’t we ? We hear that a lot. but how do we judge that? The Mother of Parliaments looks rather more like a grubby frequenter of a Victorian gin den, our ” wonderful ” armed forces are just that but poorly served by the people who fund them. ” Great ” in a military context doesn’t survive contact with reality. Obsolete frigates, destroyers with electrical problems that keep them in dock, aircraft carriers with propulsion problems, too few submarines, too few replacement orders coming too late . So few aircraft ordered for our aircraft carriers that they are more used as platforms for US aircraft. Armoured personnel carriers that look to be unusable at a cost of billions when there were perfectly good European alternatives. Monopoly suppliers leading to crippling and eye watering prices that bear no resemblance to alternatives .

Great soldiers sailors and airmen but awful political support. Bear in mind the largest cuts in defence equipment by far have been under Conservative rule . Yet they bray loudest about our armed forces .

Education outcomes in Scotland better than in England but not great. Doctors, nurses, policemen, paid better here than down south but not as well as on the continent .

All UK counties desperate for skills to be imported that we do not have, yet a party continuously returned on the ludicrous suggestion that they uniquely can make a difference to immigration. A fantasy because the harder and more inhumane that they have gone the more arrive, precariously, on our shores.

Brexit, a delusional fantasy based on ” taking back control ” yet we have parliamentary chaos, a shrinking economy and are seen as significantly less influential that we were before 2016.

Perhaps the biggest form of delusion, the biggest diversion from the Truth is the economic one. I think it was Lord King, the former Bank of England head, who put it neatly the other day. He pointed to a mismatch of ambitions and said (something like)

” the problem is you can’t aspire to European levels of; health social care and education and yet have an American style form of taxation .”

Perhaps it isn’t a coincidence that the highest taxed countries in Europe with the smallest gap between the poorest and the most wealthy come out as having the most content populations? I wonder what it might feel like to know that if you are ill you will see a named doctor, if you have dementia you will receive high quality care from some of the best paid care workers in the world? Where their profession is seen as valued and recognised by their salary ?

I struggle to imagine that because it is so far distanced from our reality.

But we are a Great Country. Measured by what ? By our approach to immigration, which would have seen my relatives turned away and put on a plane to Rwanda, denying our country the services of their generations? I think not.

I don’t think I know of anyone in my orbit who feels that the Government’s approach to immigration is either working or right.

The Scottish Government would have a different approach because it recognises the needs for specific skills.

But the crunch here I sense is between political ideologies. We look at the Conservative Government who seem to be hoping that a mixture of ” Compassionate Conservatism ” ,”One Country Conservatism ” ,”Brexiteers ” and ” Libertarian fundamentalists ” , can come together as one coherent governing entity.

Scotland is a bit different -we are fundamentally a Social Democratic country. Our priorities are different.

It does come down to priorities. You can have strong armed forces without the crippling cost and utter inhumanity of nuclear weapons. Ukraine is proving that. You can have a green and sustainable future without the future and current cost of nuclear power. Those funds could be allocated to social programmes.

If we learned nothing else from COVID we know that this is much more about priorities rather than money.

Within all of this is our collective dubious relationship with the truth. Untruths were told about Brexit. Brexit has not worked and shows no sign of working better than being in Europe, yet it is still fashionable for some MPs to castigate their colleagues for ” not accepting a democratic result.” So let me say it, if people are not told the truth then the result is not democratic.

So enough of this nonsense, Brexit is an utter failure and has left us poorer and less respected. Libertarian philosophy is a political aberration that explodes on contact with reality. Our immigration policy which costs us £5.6 million a day for not processing asylum seekers is not fit for purpose. The Home office, dysfunctional for decades, is now being run by a libertarian fantasist who dreams of exporting immigrants. Exporting is down one third, our trade deals do not in any way replicate what was there in the EU.

These are the realities we need to adopt, these are the Truths we need to respect when we next put a cross on a voting slip, and that decision needs to reflect judgement, not hope, and especially fantastical political promises that suggests gain with out pain.

We might not like it but if we don’t exercise, our bums really will look big in that, and the all chocolate diet (promoted by the Chocolate Party) probably will not deliver.

We can’t have it all, that is a fantasy.

So what is actually important to us, or will be, for our children and grand children .

cutouts of letters
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  1. Steve, that is a hum-dinger. Many of the topics that I rant on about, but you don’t rant – you write in a clear, balanced way.

    As you say, a big part of Boris Brexit Bollocks was the ‘Making Britain Great again’ …bollocks. Instead Britain is a laughing stock. I wonder what do other nations make of the shenanigans and chaos going on here?

    Truth? An alien concept in Government for many years – both sides of the big pond…. see Bartholomew’s poem ….. http://www.spanglefish.com/berniesblog/blog.asp?blogid=15973

    By the way – Bartholomew asked where do I stand on Scottish Independence? I answered….

    “Where do I stand on Scottish Independence…..where do I begin? I am of Irish descent – my parents came to England to find work, raised their family here then when they retired went ‘home’ to Ireland. My Dad was born in 1911, my Mum in 1913. – when Ireland was under English rule.

    When my Mum was a girl she knew a woman who had had her fingernails torn out by the Black and Tans. They thought she was hiding a rebel-man they were hunting for – so they pulled out her nails, one by one, to make her tell. She didn’t tell. And yes, she was hiding the rebel-man.
    That kind of first-hand experience goes deep, and even writing of it makes me angry.
    Ireland has the benefit of being physically divided from England – another song…’Thank God we’re surrounded by water’
    So – that’s something of the back-ground to why I support Scottish Independence.

    And then, add to that the un-holy mess England is in – compared to how Nicola Sturgeon manages Scottish affairs. I’m not saying she’s perfect – but she makes a far better job of it that any of the Tory rulers of Britain.
    Some folk who are for Independence say to leave England to it – let them stew in their own juice. I don’t subscribe to that point of view – it’s good to have good neighbours and particularly to be on good terms with your next-door neighbours, if you can. If you’re semi-detached and your neighbours gutters are blocked – that can cause damp in your house too. If being semi-detached physically is something that can’t be helped – at least the two households can live independently, but with some thought for each other’s well-being.
    I risk ranting. Basically – two main reasons why I support Scottish Independence – one, being of Irish descent and the fellow-feeling that produces. Two – Scotland and its people is/are very much a separate nation – England is now a mess and the English have previously abused and exploited Scotland in many ways, for example – The Clearances. Absentee landlords choosing sheep before people.

    Some folk question why I support an independent Scotland while also supporting being part of the European Union…..

    I could go on and on – I’m trying not to!”

    A couple of other ranting bits…..



    You’ve set me off again! I just hope that your piece of writing sets other folk off too – thinking – weighing things up – making some decisions – waking up from their comfortable nests of denial.

  2. I pretty much agree with every word Bernie and thanks for sharing your story and views . I”m an English Scot ( 10% of the Scottish population are English Scots) my approach to independence wants nothing bad for England , but what I do believe is that the Union constructs our progress, and by “ our” I mean all the countries in what is becoming an increasingly fractured Union , including England . They need to go their way , it needs not to be our way .

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