Well, where does a lad start? In no particular order: Boris Johnson (aka Korky the Kat) and Nigel Farage both announce they will be standing for Parliament at our general election next May; Britain wrestles with the question of whether or not to pal up with Mr Assad of Syria to launch a joint effort to see off the thugs who dare to call themselves Muslims aka Islamic State (or whatever they like to call themselves today); assorted seasoned Russian troops apparently get lost on the Russian/Ukrainian border and find themselves in Ukraine - didn’t they have a map? Obviously not, but at least they will have had a bottle or five of vodka; a report is released detailing the rape and torture of an appalling 1,400 young and older children in just one town - Rotherham - over ten years but they claims weren’t taken seriously, possibly because the sadists who did it were largely Asian and we don’t want to be accused of racism now, do we
To cap it all Kate Bush - look up her name in the AA guide to has-been pop stars if you can’t immediately identify her - as started a month of concerts for the first time in just over 67 years.
Let’s start with Kate Bush: with the exception of just one of her many songs - Babuska - I have never liked her music, find her voice thoroughly irritating and so am obviously totally out of the loop with my fellow geriatrics. She strikes me as the Lib Dems of pop music, what with vegan recipes and vegan songs.
I’m liberal enough - with a small ‘l’ I hope you realise - to acknowledge that many do like Kate and her music, but then a great many people also think the British cuisine leads the world (purely on the basis that several well-known French chefs have made Britain their home and you can now get a half-decent meal in London if you have the money). So that, I hope, puts Kate in perspective.
A similar irrational attitude comes into play when folk talk about Boris Johnson, all tousled blond hair, Latin phrases and what is regarded as a disarming charm. He has made no bones about the fact that ‘he wants to be Prime Minister’, but the Lord help us if he ever gets a sniff of the top job. It would be pertinent to ask: what does Boris stand for (and he is one of the few politicians who get instant recognition even if you only refer to him by his christian name)?
Well, I don’t know, except the greater glory of Boris Johnson. In my book he is firmly in the Total Nine-Bob Note drawer, but there is a sufficient number of folk who seem to believe his British version of ‘aw shucks, I’m just an ordinary guy’ and the mop of tousled hair plus those incomprehensible Latin quotes he comes out with are enough reason to think he might run the country less badly than recent Labour and Conservative politicians.
As for Nigel Farage, well I’ll grant that he is popular, not least with many folk who think of themselves as Labour, and seems to articulate the feelings of many as regards the EU and what is always awfully vaguely referred to as ‘immigrants’. But despite the claims that the party he leads, UKIP - the United Kingdom Independence Party - is a ‘growing force’ in British politics, he is, as far as I can tell and going on the performance of his fellow Ukippers, about the one sane man among an otherwise worryingly wacky gang of folk who don’t have a policy to pursue between them. You might gather that he won’t be getting my vote.
As for the Russian chaps who accidentally crossed the border into Ukraine, well, just how careless can you get, especially in view of all that’s going on in eastern Ukraine? I am tempted to observe that Ukraine is a country of which we know little and of which we would like to know even less, but the situation there is dire, especially as the West’s attention is now firmly elsewhere, worrying about how many more thousands Islamic State will behead, bury alive or execute in more humane ways before the UN finally gets its act together and passes a very, very, very strong resolution telling ISIS, IS or whatever it is today: ‘Look, you can’t do this sort of thing, it really isn’t done, and if you carry on, we’ll be forced to pass another very, very, very strong resolution. So watch it!’ Under the circumstances that might sound like an unbearably facetious thing to write, but it isn’t far from the truth.
The big question being asked now - and dividing the West as only the West knows how to be divided - is to we co-operate with Syria’s president Assad to try to put an end to Islamic State. From where I sit, the answer is a very reluctant, yes, of course, but not much is going to happen soon and in the meantime those pseudo-islamic thugs will get stronger and stronger, and murder more and more folk.
Maybe Kate Bush should write a song about it all.
Maybe Boris knows how to sort it all out. Maybe Nigel Farage will declare that we most certainly won’t grant any of them visas when UKIP is in charge. But while the West dithers before dithering a lot more, one Vladimir Putin will quietly be beavering away thinking up more mischief.
. . .
On the question of Russia, Putin and Ukraine, what puzzles me most of all is just what exactly does Putin want? The real problem, of course, is that we judge other cultures by the standards and values of our own. That was the fatal flaw in the policy which was said to underpin the invasion of Iraq. The West - well the US and Britain - seemed to believe, arrogantly, that once we had got rid of Saddam Hussein and had shipped in several thousand ballot boxes, the grateful Iraqis would embrace democracy like a man dying of thirst will gulp down several pints of water. They did in a sense, but in another sense they were no nearer democracy. It might be more honest to say, democracy, shmerocracy, what people really want is not to be treated like shit. And being treated like shit happens all the time in even the most pristine-looking democracies. As for the Middle East, we seemed to have no conception of the Arab mind and our ignorance allied to our arrogance is doing no one any favours at all.
Well, the invasion of Iraw is water under the bridge, not to say several hundreds of thousands of Iraqis dead and buried because of the unbearable vanity of George Dubya and his simpering acolyte Tony Blair, but we might try to learn the lesson and try a lot harder to understand the Russian psyche.
So what is it that Putin wants? What would he regard as his prize? Is it really to get back Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania into the Russian fold? Surely he must realise that that is never going to happen and surely he must realised the risk there is of war if he pursues that objective.
It is now futile to cast blame, but if I were to do so, I would firmly blame the West - the US and the EU - in meddling in Ukrainian domestic politics, which is what seems to have sparked the whole shooting match. I’ve asked what Putin is actually after, but equally one might wonder exactly what the West and the EU hoped to achieve by their meddling. I can’t seem to discern any grand strategy, especially if, as it has seemed for these past 20 years trade and the necessary co-operation to ensure good trade was the name of the game.
As usual, of course, I am just another blogger pointlessly adding his two ha’porth worth. But as I now have an 18-year-old daughter and a 15-year-old son, I do get very angry that what strikes me as criminal incompetence is making the world far less safe, and for no good reason whatsoever.
. . .
As for the appalling sexual abuse of children in Rotherham, one horrific element is that way, in the phrase used by several reports - and you can read three here, here and here - social services and the police simply turned a blind eye to what was going on. They were fully informed, but as the majority of the perpetuators were Asian, they ‘did not want to appear racist’ and so ignored it.
As the report pointed out, the 1,400 children - 1,400! - are just those who had the courage to come forward. Just how many more were there who were too scared to come forward? And, for a moment, reflect on the hopeless bewilderment of those who might have considered coming forward but who realised it would be pointless because nothing was done about it. Then reflect upon just how many more there are in other towns up and down the country. And we still like to portray ourselves as a ‘caring’ country. Get to fuck!
Read the reports and make up your own mind.