Britain’s political chaos

Today is Sunday October 23rd, 2022. Kia ora!

This morning I went to church in Wadestown. There weren’t many of us, which I put down to it’s being Labour Weekend. It’s a beautiful church, though, and we had a very nice morning tea afterwards.  One of the ladies who comes to my exercise class was there, too. I had some morning tea and then caught a bus into town, getting off in Murphy Street by the New World supermarket, where JD came to pick me up.  The day had started out fine and sunny, but it became less fine and rathe

The sermon/homily/reflection this morning was about the parable in Luke 18: 9 – 14, about the self-righteous Pharisee praying and the tax-gatherer, who said: “O God, have compassion on me, the sinner”. The Lord said that everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and everyone who humbles himself will be exalted.  There was a woman who did Prayers for Others so nicely, I was very impressed. We sang The Lord’s Prayer. I was impressed, again, by how different the local churches are (and that’s just Presbyterian/Methodist/Congregational).  I guess, as I’ve often said, there are many ways to be a (good) Christian.

Many things I wanted to buy at the supermarket were missing, but I did get raspberries (big ones, this time), asparagus, and salads. There were no Afghan biscuits, alas. I did not have to wait at the checkout, for once.

I was thinking last night and early this morning about the intense contradictions that abound in our world. I started by remembering how the US state of Georgia spawned Martin Luther King, and congressman John Lewis (who died recently, and who’s suffering was immortalised in the film Selma), and Marjorie Taylor Greene.  These opposites are demonstrated more and more, as there seems to be no common ground between the far left and the extreme right-wing in politics.  There’s little seriousness.  In many governments, we see great opposites: between democrats in the US, and the extreme far-right, often putting up crazy candidates in the forth coming US mid-term elections. 

In the UK, the Tory Party has been in power for what seems like forever, and yet they’re about to choose another Prime Minister, and I expect there’ll be another cabinet line up to match.  While Jeremy Corbyn as previous leader of the Labour Party was pretty toxic to many, his successor, Sir Keir Starmer, has a much better show of forming a good government.  The right-wing, however, seems absorbed with whatever will be good for them personally; and whatever will “look good”; in the UK and the US, there’s just no thought or consideration of people less well-off, who are having to make unfortunate choices between what we would regard as necessities: mortgage payments, food, water, medical needs, and heating. Quite how many people cope is beyond me: in the US, there are communities that don’t even have sewerage or reticulated drinking water, quite apart from the chemical pollution in many poorer areas. Republican state governments seem to give no thought to caring for their less well-off populations. No wonder abortion has become such a lightning-rod issue for many. There seems to be a refusal, in the UK and the US, to see another point of view, or take any responsibility for one’s or one’s government’s actions.

Both the US and the UK are potentially ungovernable. Even within the Tory party in the UK, there are those who want Boris Johnson as Prime Minister again, despite his greed, his lying and his corruption; there are other Tories who would find it unconscionable. I suppose I’m getting around to saying why can’t somebody want what’s good for the country? Or take climate change into account?  Or consider Northern Ireland? 

In this country, it felt very different when the Labour Party formed a government, after years of National Party rule. At least we have MMP here, rather than FPP, so usually there has to be some collaboration between political parties to form a government.  In my experience, Labour is much nicer to everyone; whereas National and Act are there for rich people, as I see it.  In any democracy, a conservative government will really mess things up; a Labour government then comes in, wanting to be kind to people, but having to work really hard to clean up the mess caused by a conservative government:  hospitals in a mess, state houses sold off, waterways degraded and so on.  It really upsets me to see some of those in charge being so selfish, when the effects of climate change are visible all around us, and most of us are wanting to leave a better environment for our children and grandchildren to inhabit and appreciate.

Against some goodness in this world, in Ukraine Russian forces continue their brutality, hitting utilities now; in China, President Xi has hardened his grip on power, while there were very upsetting scenes of former Chinese President Hu Jintao unexpectedly being hustled out of the party conference.

With regard to the UK situation, I am once again citing the Guardian:

It’s now Monday October 24th, Labour Day in New Zealand.

News has come through that Boris Johnson, after flying back to London from a Caribbean holiday with his wife and children, has pulled out of the leadership race to be British Prime Minister.  Richie Rich (alias Rishi Sunak) is the frontrunner to be the next PM. Penne Mordaunt is in the running again, too, I gather.  So that doesn’t look much good for understanding the many families that are having to cope with rising mortgage costs, rising energy bills, and inflation.  Pre-austerity, you can expect to go to a library, where at least there’ll be warmth and somewhere to sit, to while the hours away; under austerity, I understand that many small town libraries and community centres have been closed. Even when we were in England in 2016, there were very few seats that you were allowed to sit on.  I sat down at the end of a bench to wait for a train, one time, several having been cancelled, and a man tied his large Alsatian to the seat and disappeared. The large, fierce dog was not best pleased, and neither was I!

Last night we watched the second episode of This England on television one, starring Kenneth Branagh as Boris Johnson.  This episode deals mainly with the encroaching progress of Covid 19, and the UK government’s “interesting” way of handling it (or not handling it). Boris Johnson now has coronavirus, and it not at all well. His partner, pregnant Carrie, is isolating somewhere. No one is wearing masks, except in hospitals. Medical staff are uniformly kind, but not all that careful.  In spite of the saying that “Two metres’ distance determines our existence”, politicians front up to tell people to stay at home while standing much closer to each other than two metres. Of course this was early on in what was to become the pandemic, well before we knew about common usage of masks, taking of Vitamin D, keeping separate, having good ventilation, and well before any vaccines were developed. Still, it looks pretty cack-handled.

A really irritating thing is atmospheric interference, which is common now on any free-to-air channel, via our Sky receiver.  It’s really annoying, and I remember watching the Queen’s funeral on TVNZ On demand, rather than on television one. Why do we need a Sky receiver to get free-to-air channels, I wonder again?

It’s now Tuesday October 25th.

It’s not sunny today, but it’s not raining, either; yesterday was quite warm: I walked up to the local shops without wearing or even taking a jacket! We have been warned that another cold snap is due in the deep South.  I just find the constant changes quite frustrating! Just be warm, or be cold, for a few days! It’s so hard to figure out what to wear.

Rishi Sunak is to be the Britain’s next Prime Minister, without a vote being cast by the Tory party.  This lightning speed, in contrast to the several weeks’ election of Liz Truss, the previous incumbent, was again, totally undemocratic, but at least it was fast. It reminds me of Mitch McConnell’s speedy US Senate vote to endorse Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, straight after the death of Ruth Bader Ginsberg, and before her funeral, even.  A super-spreader event was held at The White House to celebrate her elevation. After this event, many came down with covid 19. McConnell could call the Senate together in record time when he deemed it was in his political interests to do so.  It’s interesting, though, that Sunak, although Indian, was born in the UK, is very rich, and went to the right school; however he’s a Hindu, not a Christian. Make of that what you will. Many are hoping for some consistency, a period without daily shocks, as we did with Biden’s presidency; alas, I fear that’s not to be.  I’m not one to be drawn into conspiracy theories, but one does wonder if there isn’t some right-wing movement to subjugate women, ban gay people, endorse violence, and rule the world. It’s certainly appealing to many when a populist leader voices their fears and says “I alone can fix it”.  Lies, lies, lies….

In many ways Meghan Markle reminds me of Trump: I hesitate to comment, but her constant whining and victimisation, the suggestion that no amount of money is enough for her, and now her assertion that she’s super-bright reminds me of “the very stable genius”.  Just saying. I hope I am still alive when those children (if they exist) become teenagers, and start asking questions: like how come we never see our other grandmother, or either of our grandfathers? Any cousins, uncles or aunties? How come you thought it was a good idea to squander royalty, and complain publicly about the Royal Family, when they had given you so much?  Just asking questions, of course.

In Ukraine, Russian brutality continues.  I think I’ve been saying this for months. It seems that while Russian soldiers have very low morale, and along with their equipment are pretty useless, Putin is causing great harm with his persistent shelling and having a go at power plants.  He’s causing enormous damage – needlessly.  And as for the deportations:  no one comes back telling a good story. What about the nameless rest of the deportees? Meanwhile, will the West i.e. the US, the UK and Europe continue to support Ukraine?  It seems that an actual battle between good and evil is being played out in Ukraine. 

It feels as though something is pulling the strings.  I always have to remind myself that things have looked desperate before, during World War II, for example.  We have enjoyed a long period of peace, as long as you weren’t living in Korea, Vietnam, the Balkans, Myanmar, Ukraine, Iran, Iraq, etc etc. There is much to be thankful for, and much to pray for.

That’s it for now. Slava Ukraini!  Ngā mihi nui.

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