Monday, 11 March 2019


I got a call the other day. It was a wrong number, a Mr Sculley from Nuneaton who was sorry to bother me. He said he was old (actually only a bit older than me) recently bereaved and prone to misdial. He blessed me for being kind and said “can I ask one thing?”

“Please tell those politicians to sort things out. It sounds like they might listen to you.”

Not even me I’m afraid. I suspect there are Sculley’s all over the UK desperate for people to stop this nonsense. We have made our bed – that was the referendum – we got a result a lot of us hate but we have to get on with the best departure we can fashion. That’s what’s on the table and now we need to progress. The option of the crash-out at the end of this month is no longer in our hands if the EU petulantly refuses an extension to Article 50 and this has to be possible.

Whichever way this goes our automotive industry and other businesses will be wrecked, although new technology would have made this probable eventually anyway. Sadly many of the people cheering on BBC Question Time for a no deal exit will soon be out of work partly because of it. Their relish for self-destruction is mystifying.

We are in a period of global readjustment and tough times for everyone (except, as ever, the very rich).  I’m not sure when in our history 2019 most resembles. Perhaps the early 16th century when Henry VIII broke free from Rome. (In the way he’s generally depicted he resembles a recklessly autocratic Donald Trump.) But in that late medieval troubled era England managed to punch above its actually rather meagre weight. The key similarity was the rebelliousness of our behaviour and a deep seated belief that normal rules did not apply.

And it’s still here and like the kraken it’s re-awoken. We see schisms appearing in politics  and in social attitudes to institutions. We used for instance to believe that the unanimous decision of a jury in a trial was final. It would be unusual for the media, as the Times did on Saturday, to continue to describe the pilot, Andy Hill, in the Shoreham Air Show tragedy whom a jury found not guilty of manslaughter, in terms which implied he was actually guilty.

Disruption is becoming rebellion and this feels dangerous. Our societal tectonic plates are  shifting around. I doubt if any of us would put money on May and Corbyn (described by Jess Phillips as being as old fashioned and irrelevant as Tom and Margo from the old TV series the “Good Life”)  still being in office by the summer.  Dangerous times but they also feel challenging and perhaps offer us the possibility of a new start rather like a relegated football team and that’s how we feel right now. 
 We are becoming increasingly rebellious but rather carelessly are about to score an own goal. Oops!

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