.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Saturday, September 08, 2018

That was the week that was

It is a mad, mad, World and it is surely becoming more dysfunctional by the day. The USA is in the grip of Trumpism with his 'fake news' and his 'fake books'.  In Sweden the far right immigration party looks like it will secure 20% of the vote tomorrow and hold the balance of power. Whilst UK politics is being dominated by incompetents and eccentrics, who are allowing foreign powers to run riot through our institutions.

Putting aside the Boris gets divorced to clear his way for a leadership bid controversy, there are three news stories from the last seven days that causes one to pause and bang our head against the desk in despair.

Firstly, there is this one in the Independent, who report that the number of officials who have left the Whitehall department trying to deliver Brexit is equivalent to more than half of its total staff. They say that the exodus means the average age of workers left in the department is 32, though they are tasked with winning a complex deal that could change Britain for a generation. If that isn't a vote of no confidence in the Brexit process then I don't know what is.

Secondly, we have the on-going saga of independently minded Labour MPs being targeted by Corbyn's shock troops for no confidence motions and presumably deselection. So far, so democratic you might say, except that the latest one gives pause for thought if only for the circumstances of its reporting.

The Guardian tells us that Labour activists are calling for an inquiry after an Iranian state-backed TV station which is banned in the UK carried footage of a local party meeting passing a vote of no confidence in the Enfield North MP, Joan Ryan. Press TV had its licence to broadcast in the UK revoked by the media regulator, Ofcom, in 2012, over claims that editorial decisions were being made in Tehran.

They add that the Press TV footage, which appeared to have been filmed inside the meeting, was carried on the station’s Twitter feed and referred to Ryan, who is the chair of Labour Friends of Israel, as a “pro-Israel MP”. It included the hashtag #WeAreEnfieldNorth:

In an interview with the Telegraph, Ryan, a Labour MP since 1997, said that Iranian journalists had “infiltrated” the party and had targeted her because of her support for Israel: “I’m horrified that they’ve infiltrated the Labour party in this way and I think it needs to be investigated, because it is incredibly serious.”

This tells us everything we need to know about the current state of the Labour Party.

Finally, there is the case of the Minister who admitted publicly that she does not understand the basic fundamentals of her job.

As the Guardian reports, Karen Bradley has admitted that before becoming Northern Ireland secretary she was profoundly ignorant of the country’s political divisions and “slightly scared” of the place. She said she was unaware that nationalists did not vote for unionists and that unionists did not vote for nationalists – the most elementary fact about Northern Ireland politics:

“I freely admit that when I started this job, I didn’t understand some of the deep-seated and deep-rooted issues that there are in Northern Ireland,” Bradley told House magazine, a weekly publication for the Houses of Parliament.

“I didn’t understand things like when elections are fought, for example, in Northern Ireland – people who are nationalists don’t vote for unionist parties and vice versa. So, the parties fight for election within their own community.

“Actually, the unionist parties fight the elections against each other in unionist communities and nationalists in nationalist communities.”

The fact that Theresa May appointed Bradley to this post in January at an exceptionally sensitive time because of Brexit and the breakdown in Stormont’s power-sharing government tells us all we need to know about the competence of the UK Government. Marina Hyde is particularly scathing about this interview:

For me, I think that quote may be the equivalent of the death blow in Kill Bill. Do you know the one? You get hit just with fingertips, “and then he lets you walk away. But once you’ve taken five steps, your heart explodes in your body, and you fall to the floor, dead.” So with the Northern Ireland secretary’s hot take on Northern Ireland. My mechanism might be shot for good after reading it. I may well be typing my last five steps here.

Clearly, it is not simply the initial imbecility of having no clue about the central facts of Northern Irish politics and history, even though you were 28 (TWENTY EIGHT) when the Good Friday agreement was signed. It is also the second imbecility of thinking you should ever mention that in public, much less as delightedly, as Karen did. “It’s when you realise that,” burbled the secretary of state, “that you can then start to understand some of the things that the politicians say and some of the rhetoric.”

I mean ... ideally, you would start understanding these things some decades before you were the cabinet minister with operational responsibility for arguably the most highly sensitive region of the United Kingdom. Instead, Karen’s breezy “My Learning Curve” speech casts high office as a remedial scheme for the unreachable outliers of Family Fortunes survey respondents. “We asked 100 people what they imagined were the Ladybird-level facts about Northern Ireland …” 

Karen’s answer is the type of WTF-ery that allows even Vernon Kay (VERNON KAY) to mug to camera with the practised eyebrow-raise that says: where do they find these quarterwits? It was previously thought that any challenge to Andrea Leadsom’s position as stupidest cabinet minister would have to hail from the mineral or at least vegetable kingdoms. Or be Chris Grayling. But this is quite sensational from Karen, who places herself in the IDS class at a stroke. Theresa May’s decision to appoint her to this government of all the talentless underscores exactly where we are. If you hadn’t already swallowed the red pill, you may safely consider Karen’s interview as your dose. No going back now. The answer to the question “How low is the bar?” is: the bar is in another hemisphere. The bar is orbiting Jupiter. There is no bar.

It is enough to make me want to go back to bed, pull the covers over my head and hide indefinitely, or at least until the inevitable Armageddon these incidents seem to indicate is on its way.
Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?