Friday, November 4, 2016

As the US sleepwalks to disaster (whoever wins next Tuesday) and Breakfast most certainly no longer means Breakfast, are you stupid or part of the liberal elite? Or possibly both? Or even neither?

Perhaps the good folk living on Rimatara don’t yet know it or perhaps they do know but don’t care, but the good folk here in the Western hemisphere look set to be in for a bumpy ride over the next few years, and quite possibly, depending upon what happens, and even bumpier ride of the next 40. Around five months ago, and by a whisker of a majority, the UK voters told the EU ‘look, it’s not you, it’s me, and I want out’ and that it was time both went their separate ways (though can the sex carry on?). And in four days we will find out whether the US has elected as its 45th president a man who can most charitably be described as the mother of all barroom lawyers, though apparently one with learning difficulties.

The departure of Britain from the EU, or ‘Breakfast’ as an increasing number of politicians and commentators have decided to call it, is old news and to a large extent the world - or at least most of us with an attention span shorter than that of a gnat - have moved on. The imminent collapse of civilisation as we know it that had been predicted by far, far too many Remainers (who really should have known better) didn’t happen, and though for fuckwittedness they were easily matched by assorted Brexiteers celebrating once again being able to stick one up Johnny Foreigner who within hours of the referendum result being published on June 24 began a chorus of ‘crisis what crisis?’

There were cheers in golf clubs and saloon bars up and down the country (though not in Scotland who these days take a contrary view on everything supported by the English) when the pound fell a great deal against the dollar, then fell a great deal more — before the vote on June 23 you could get $1.496 for your pound — as all those who voted to ‘regain control’, another of those vacuous phrases which sound great but begin to mean less and less the more you examine them.

Today, as I write, you can get just $1.244. I tried to work out the percentage fall, but after ten minutes have given up. I’ve never been good at maths.) Marvellous news, the Brexiteers cried, it means that our exports will go up and up and up and the economy will grow stronger and stronger and stronger. That imports will become dearer and dearer and dearer and everyday living will become ever more expensive is written off — if, indeed it is mentioned at all — as just one of those things and a reasonable price to pay for ‘regaining control’. (NB I realise that despite my best efforts, I have rather given away what I think about Breakfast, but I can assure you that what I feel about it is not at all straightforward. Here’s a teaser: although voted Remain, I wasn’t at all upset by the result. But more of that later.)

As for the coming US presidential election next Tuesday (November 8) it has so far been the accepted wisdom that being as Donald J Trump is a state-registered, card-carrying moron — and furthermore a moron who gives other morons a very bad name — Hillary Rodham Clinton, the Democrat nominee will walk it. Until recently, the polls showed her substantially ahead and even though, apparently, Trump is these past few days on an equal footing, that is because someone somewhere is not playing fair: inexplicably just a week before the election the head of the FBI has reopened the investigation into ‘her emails’ and that has rather dampened the enthusiasm of some voters for seeing Clinton as the next US president. As I write Trump and Clinton are apparently neck and neck in the polls.

This election is widely being billed as a contest between ‘the two most unlikable people on Earth’, and given the proviso that there are a great more candidates for that position, it does neatly sum it all up. Forgive me if I am wrong and being a tad too cynical but nothing I know about Hillary Clinton and nothing I have heard her
say persuades me that she is seeking ‘the highest office in the land’ and tenure as ‘leader of the free world’ out of a burning sense of wanting to serve the public. There is not even about her - as ironically there is about Donald Trump - that she wants to see things done in a different way. Almost everything about her shouts entitlement and there’s more than just a sneaking suspicion that she feels the office of US president is somehow hers by right.

Trump, of course, is another matter entirely. There is the assumption that as a billionaire businessman he really can’t be all that stupid, that he must know a thing or two about this, that and t’other. And that line is largely one he has plugged throughout the four, five years the presidential campaign seems so far to have lasted. He likes to make out that he will bring to running the country as president a business-like attitude and will get things done. So Trump as a move and shaker? Up to a point, Lord Copper. First of all he inherited a great deal of wealth from his father and although he did put it to use and can claim some business achievements, it seems that his business success is largely down to him allowing things to tick over rather from any gift for innovation.

Most certainly the list of businesses he has started which went pear-shaped is not impressive, which doesn’t say much for his skill as a businessman. Four of his corporations filed for bankruptcy, and although Trump apologists point out that filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy is often merely a business ploy to carry on trading (or something), you do have to ask why those four businesses got themselves in such a state that they had to resort to such ploy.

Given that Clinton since the head of the FBI waded in last week with thinly veiled threats that he was ‘going to nail that bitch’, the chance that ‘the free world’ could really end up being ‘led’ by Trump after all becomes more likely. And given the United States’ baffling presidential electoral system, Trump might well be elected. But if, on the other hand, the top prize goes to Clinton, an already sour political reality in the US will get just that much sourer.

Arguably Trump only threw his hand in a year or two ago when various Republicans were jostling to become the Republican nominee began out of vanity. I really doubt he thought he might win the nomination, and perhaps even now, when he is taking a dump on the can and is all by himself with nothing but his thoughts and a handful of lavatory paper, he is still wondering ‘what the fuck is happening’. His candidacy, though, has proved useful in one respect: it has highlighted just how neglected by the political establishment a very, very large and disparate number of people feel in the US. The Breakfast referendum last June did pretty much the same thing in Britain, as did the surprising results of the EU parliamentary elections in just over two years ago.
. . .

There is pretty much everywhere what might be described as a ‘liberal elite’ or, alternatively, as a ‘metropolitan elite’ and I’m sure that, given that it will have been known be different names, there has been one for ages. For many folk both descriptions ‘liberal elite’ and ‘metropolitan elite’ are terms of abuse. But for some those descriptions are - quietly - worn as a badge of pride. And it was probably always thus. The self-regarding ‘elite’ might might not always have been ‘liberal’, but since Adam first rejected a Granny Smith and instead chose a Pink Lady, there will have been folk who think they are a cut above many others. Another word for them is ’snobs’.

Years ago when chatting to a colleague in the in-house bar of the Daily Express one Saturday night after our shifts had finished (we were working on the Sunday Express) she referred to ‘PLUs’. What are ‘PLUs?’ I asked. ‘People like us,’ she replied. Well, I didn’t much like her until then, and I liked her even less after that. I also remember coming across, in conversation with a young friend of my stepmother’s many years ago, the phrase ‘intelligent people like us’. I had previously regarded the young woman as rather silly, self-regarding and stupid, and her use of that phrase confirmed me in my judgment.

But make no mistake: there are a great number of people who do regard themselves, their views and their opinions as more than just a cut above those of the hoi polloi, but ‘more relevant’ and ‘more important’. And I’m sure none of them would be at all averse of being thought as members of the ‘liberal/metropolitan elite’.

Here in Britain we was a rather synthetic outcry when at the recent Conservative Party annual conference our prime minister Theresa May laid into the ‘liberal elite’, mainly from those already under suspicion of being members of that elite. This is how one Guardian writer reported on the speech. And here is the front page of the Daily Mail after May’s speech.

 But there can be no doubt at all that a large number of those on the Remain side do see themselves as being rather brighter than your average Joe, and it all came tumbling out when a majority of those who voted in the Brexit referendum went for Leave. Tony Blair — yes, he is still around and still hasn’t cottoned on that no one, but no one except dictators in the Caucasus want anything to do with him — has already called for a second referendum, presumably in the hope that the result will be different and a year ago was even crass enough to suggest that the public were simply too stupid to be relied upon to make a sensible choice on Brexit. That will most certainly have qualified him to become a leading member of the ‘liberal elite’. And without wanting to sound hysterical it is a rather shorter leap from Blair’s view to deciding that not everyone can be trusted to vote in an election and therefore shouldn’t.

While we here in Britain have been agonising about Breakfast, there has been astonishment in the US that Trump is still gaining support. But we shouldn’t be so surprised: there really does seem to be a groundswell of revolt against those — call them a ‘liberal’ or ‘metropolitan’ elite if you like — who think they know better than the ordinary Joe. And many of those pro Trump not necessarily pro Trump at all: essentially they are anti Clinton and what they perceive she stands for.

Me, I voted Remain — though I must repeat that it was through gritted teeth — and rather smugly reassured folk who asked me what the outcome referendum outcome should be that Remain would cruise home and then some. I even posted as much here in this blog. I mention that, though, because when I heard the news, I surprised myself by not only not really caring, but even detected in myself an element of ‘good, now this might well shake up the EU and bring it to its senses’.

The trouble with the whole issue is that ‘facts’ about the reason for Brexit support are hard to come by, and don’t bother consulting your newspaper: you’ll get as much, or rather as little, unbiased opinion from the saintly Guardian as from the Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph (and it is worth recording that at least in the run-up to the vote the Mail was staunchly Leave whereas the more mealy-mouthed Telegraph hedged its bets right up to the line).

What is true because voting patterns were recorded is that support for Brexit was stronger in the North of England and in ‘working class’ and traditionally Labour parts than in ‘the Home Counties’ and London (where, one assumes, most of the ‘liberal/metropolitan elite’ live. And there was anecdotal evidence that what had largely upset many in those areas was not that ‘foreigners’ were ‘taking their jobs’, but that ‘foreigners’, that is EU citizens from former Soviet bloc countries where average wages are far lower than in Britain, were taking jobs at wages which were substantially higher than in their home countries but below average for Britain. The upshot was to depress wages overall, and Brits reported being told to take it or leave it — if they didn’t like the wage offered, there were plenty of EU migrants only to happy to take the job.

I have been working on this entry for the past two days and yesterday we heard that our High Court has ruled that Parliament must have a vote on Brexit, i.e. that the Government cannot constitutionally use the ‘Royal prerogative’ and simply declare UDI, sorry invoke Article 50. But as this entry is already over 2,240 words long, surely my two ha’porth on the matter must be kept for another time

. . .

This is apropos nothing. A few years ago, I spent two weeks on Mallorca and took loads of photos. I dicked around with one of them for a bit, then uploaded it for an entry here. But the entry was not written and the draft has been hanging around for no very good reason since then. I can’t even remember what it was supposed to be about. So I thought I might simply publish the picture, have done with it and forget all about it.

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