Strange May…

Snow in May – who would have thought that possible? That is what we had the other day in Manchester during the Champions league semi final and it has been cold in these parts as well but could enough for snow. The weather is getting a bit weird…I wonder why that might be?

Still we seem to have a great showing of Bluebells this year.

And the other plants are coming along nicely too.

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From Here to There….

So here we are the morning after the night before. Super Thursday, what a pointless pieces of Americanism, has taken place and the votes are going to be counted over the weekend so that by next week we’ll know what the make up of local, regional and national politics will look like for the next few years. There will be winners and there will be losers and there will be many falsehoods issued by both. It is, after all, politics.

Of course Scotland is the most impactive election: Will the SNP get their majority and will they go full pelt for another independence referendum? As I write this I can’t answer either of those questions but I suspect both are a lot more nuanced than the loudest voices on either side of the Scottish divide would like you to think. For what it is worth, I’m an Englishman living in the East Midlands, I think the SNP will get their majority but I am far from sure that Nicola Sturgeon will call for a referendum anytime soon as she is far from certain she would win such a vote and you can see why.

Since the last Scottish independence referendum many things have changed but perhaps the most significant is Brexit. Whether you agree or disagree with Brexit there is one thing that is clear – it has left a mess that will take years to sort out – the nonsense of the Jersey fishing dispute is just latest ridiculous example. Then there is the more serious and probably more pertinent, when thinking about an independent Scotland: The Northern Ireland protocol. To date this has created many problems and it has yet to be fully implemented. It has brought down a once all powerful female leader; inflamed a border dispute, threatened trade, and the integrity of both the United Kingdom and European Union. In short it is a mess and could rightly be described as Boris sized but at its core it was an attempt to solve the unsolvable – the problems on the island of Ireland caused by part of the population of Ireland not wishing to be part of the Republic of Ireland.

With Northern Ireland protocol’s problems fresh in your mind now try and and work out how the border between Scotland and England might be regulated and the problems generated by any solution. Then imagine the extra problems created should Scotland join the European Union and suddenly you start to realise that dismantling the Union between England and Scotland isn’t going to be easy.

This is the problem facing the advocates of Scottish independence: How do you get from here, the union of the two nations, to there, two separate nations co existing on the same island one vastly richer (I mean in an absolute sense – the GDP of England is c $2.6 trillion to Scotland’s $205 billion) and populous than the other? At the moment I have not heard any convincing arguments and surely the Scottish people deserve to have some idea as to who this problem might be addressed as they may well take the brunt of any economic downturn caused by the separation of the nations.

The default answers being suggested is as Scotland will be part of the European Union then this will be a counterweight to any problems caused by financial problems highlighted above. Again Ireland demonstrates how this isn’t the case. The Republic of Ireland is still a proud member of the European Union and yet they are being buffeted by the fall out from Brexit and there are many reasons to think that things will get a lot more problematic for the Republic should Joe Biden’s corporate tax proposals come into play. In fact it may well be the problems associated with the Scotland England border that could delay or prevent Scotland’s accession to the European Union.

I have no answers as to how any of the problems associated with any break up of Scotland and England. None. But then again I don’t believe the union should be ended although I suspect I am in the minority in England at the moment as my feeling is if England were to have a vote in the separation of England from Scotland then the SNP’s dreams would be fulfilled. Only problem is that the dreams would quickly turn into a nightmare as rampant English nationalism ensures that no quarter would be given to the ‘ungrateful whinging Scots‘.

Scotland can succeed as an independent nation and its citizens may well be better served but it isn’t going to be easy nor without significant pain and pretending that isn’t the case is dishonest. The Scots deserve some form of clarity of thought as to how this future prosperity would be achieved and not just meaningless slogans. If Brexit has taught as anything it is that taking a vote is the easy part – making it work is far more difficult than pointless slogans such as ‘take back control’ although I fear that this is all we are going to hear over the next few months.

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Change of Weather….

One of the joys(?) of YouTube is that it can open new worlds that you are not really aware of. The current ‘new world‘ I am fascinated with is farming in Nebraska and Saskatchewan. I am use to watching farming take place in the small, tight confines of the English countryside and when you see the wide open and empty spaces of the North American prairie lands you realise what large scale industrial farming really means. We really do live in a small island off of mainland Europe. The North American prairie is flat and the farms and especially the machines they use are huge. The capital investment must be equally vast.

To give you some idea as to the size of these places Nebraska is roughly a quarter of the are of the island of Britain and only has 1/60th the population. However, when it comes to vastness this is nothing when compared to Saskatchewan where the area is roughly 4 times the are of the island of Britain with a population of 1/65th.

So YouTube is a vast repository of highly variable and questionable content in amongst the crap there is some really interesting stuff. It is just a shame you have spend so long trying to locate these nuggets of sanity.

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The Price of Protection…

So I’ve had my second COVID vaccine jab and that means, if the first jab is any guide, that today I’ll feel a bit grotty which, surprise surprise, is how I feel. On top of this I sat out too long in the sun the other day and so I’ve got a bit of sunburn. All in all not one of my best days but, much as I might feel a bit off of it today, I realise that this is a ridiculously small price to pay and I feel thankful that I live in the rich part of the world – you only have to see what is happening in India to make one fell doubly blessed.

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Self Serving….

So that was an interesting few hours or was it a few days? I’m not sure at the moment but last night saw the collapse of the supposed radical change to European football: The European Super League. I don’t intend to go into all of the ins and outs of this other than to say I don’t believe for one moment that fan pressure made much of a difference. No for me it was the obvious oversight that Britain is no longer part of the European Union and so can set its own immigration policy as far as immigrant work permits.

If you are president of Real Madrid then you can’t be stopped from hiring anyone who is an EU citizen and so such considerations don’t enter into your thinking. This is not the case in Britain where anyone who is not a British citizen needs some form of visa (This is a gross oversimplification but the point is still valid) and so an opportunist Prime Minister wouldn’t actually have to do anything to stop any English club employing the latest greatest footballer from say Italy or Spain – the new immigration system will do it for him. No wonder Boris Johnson was all over this trying to be the people’s tribune. When it became apparent that this might be the case then, in my view, the 6 English clubs realised that short of moving the clubs to another jurisdiction they were screwed. (By the way I wouldn’t have put it past the American owners have thinking about this as they have form for doing just that in US pro sports) So maybe ‘the fans’ did force this collapse but not in the way that is being put about.

Whilst we are on the subject I don’t believe the craven claims of ‘senior people’ at the 6 English clubs who claim to have known nothing about this. Everytime I heard an excited Sky Sports journalist open his (they are are all male) mouth about their senior sources at the clubs claiming they knew nothing about this I kept thinking:

“… success has a thousand fathers but failure is an orphan …”

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On a Lighter Note….

Having commented on the possible cronyism and sleaze at Westminster it is a great relief to get back to much more interesting things – the avian dinosaurs in and around my house. This was an especially interesting few days as I was able to bag a Twite (although it has to be noted that my bird identification skills are not the best but it does match the description in my Collins’ Bird Guide book – so I’m claiming it!)

The Twite…

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Sniff Test….

One of the more ludicrous aspects of British politics at the moment is the charge that the Labour Party and Sir Kier Starmer is not up the job. It seams that each day brings new opinion editorials decrying Keir Starmer’s lack of purpose. Now under normal circumstances there may well be some truth in this but, and I am surprised I have to reiterate this, things are not normal: People are still getting and ill and some of those are dying from Covid 19. To think that anything other the government’s actions are going to make any headway is farcical. However, things might be about to change. Tory Sleeze is once more a thing.

The Cameron/Greenshill debacle is just the start of something which is going to unravel slowly over the next 6/12 months into a full blown crisis which may end up with the head of the Health Secretary for England and who knows who else? The billions thrown at dodgy PPE providers is one thing and may start the charge but it is the waste of money within the track and trace system that will probably be where the big snouts have been feeding. At the last time I looked we had spent £37 BILLION on this for what? This whole spending black hole is run by Matt Hancock and his best friend Baroness Harding – if this does turn nasty then they are clearly the first ones against the wall to save Boris’s neck.

So if something really smelly does start to emerge then perhaps the stories will change from Labour ineffectiveness to Tory Sleaze. If this does happen then, along with the inevitable disappointment with Boris Johnson who will not be able to deliver on his ‘leveling up agenda’ (This is a generational task not one parliamentary term – so disappointment is all but guaranteed), perhaps we might finally have a real political fight and maybe, just maybe, some real political change.

So the point of all this is that the Starmer stories are a product of a chattering Westminster class that will be forgotten by the next election. This is even more likely to be the case if Tory Sleaze really takes hold.

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Nothing to Say….

‘…If you have nothing to say then say nothing…better still have something to say and say it…’

Possibly Sir Humphrey Appleby

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Covid Bird Watching….

I really don’t know whether it is Covid or just getting old but the thought of going out and capturing bird images is a little bit off of the radar at the moment. Instead I have been trying to capture the best images I can whilst in and around my own garden.

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We didn’t start the fire…

In a time when it seems standards in public life haven’t reached any significant height of propriety in so very long is it any wonder that our former Prime Minister but one has been caught with this snout well and truly in the trough. Of course this isn’t a party political statement as I’m old enough to remember when a former Labour minister faked his own death to get out of a financial pickle – it failed and he ended up in prison – oh if only history would repeat itself!

As the great welsh bard sang…it’s history repeating itself….

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