Secretary of State for Defense, the inexperienced and squeaky back room boy Gavin Williamson, competed effectively with racist Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson for title of biggest UK embarrassment on the world stage last week. Yes, some-mothers-do-have-‘em Gav was the guy who, in response to Putin’s denial of attempted murder of an ex-Russian agent on UK soil told Russia to ‘go away and shut up’.
Meanwhile, Chancellor Philip Hammond, in his spring budget statement, jauntily referred to himself as children’s story book character ‘Tigger’ and announced that the UK economy isn’t as bad as he thought (see blog 261 Beware the Disconnect). Yay.
And as the Brexit Committee was forced to put out conflicting sets of recommendations two days ago because of more bickering and sniping in a corner of the 6th form common room and the pound rose slightly because a transition period providing a modicum of certainty post-March 2019 was agreed, Brexit has never looked more ridiculous.
All of this in the face of the dawning reality that the UK is falling apart at the seams.
The most recent rat to leave the sinking SS UK - Unilever - has been based in the UK since 1890. It is not, we are told, leaving because of Brexit. Apparently, UK business legislation prioritises shareholders over the interests of business and even over things like the environment. In other words, the asset stripping we’ve seen over the last four decades and ratcheted up in the last 5 years is legally built in to UK company structure.
Then there is the fantasy about the UK becoming a banking hub after Brexit as the la la land Leavers claimed. Icy water was poured on that nonsense in January when Brussels flatly rejected a City free-trade deal for when the UK leaves the EU.
But, a significant vehicle in the car crash pile up of disasters with Brexit and the international mess, is the desperately degraded state of Britain’s infrastructure. It is a result of decades of merciless, relentless carpet-bagging. Margaret Thatcher spawned privatisation with a capital P and it has spread like a cancer, unchecked by subsequent administrations. One thing has been thrown into sharp focus by the magnifying glass of Brexit and that is how little has been invested in infrastructure. Just today it is reported that 1 in 5 UK roads are not properly maintained. Belatedly we can see how sticky-taped and patched together everything is.
Independent reports show UK rivers in the NW are some of the most polluted in the world. Michael Gove, our doesn’t-believe-in-experts Environment Secretary, criticised the water companies for lack of investment. Astoundingly, he seems to have forgotten that his party, under Thatcher, began the wholesale selling off of utilities to the profit mongers. Gas and Electric companies are a mess of over-priced nonsense repeatedly told to do better by government whether for over-charging or terrible service. But during our few days of cold weather we discovered that gas storage facilities have been shut down – putting us more at the mercy of foreign gas suppliers – including Russia. Don’t even start me on BT – slavishly given multiple government contracts to deliver modern broadband and failing failing failing to do so for years.
Our prisons – according to recent widely publicised reports – would make a third world dictator blush.
Obesity is epidemic – despite the ridiculous bribes to get a weary public to accept the eye-watering cost of the 2012 Olympics. Babble about legacies for health and involvement in school sports has been shown for a farce. Many schools cannot even use their own premises outside school ours because they were built under private contract. The schools that have not been upgraded are falling apart, many have no decent outdoor facilities and huge numbers have budget deficits.
As wages remain depressed, train fairs continue to rise at a time when - for reasons of environmental protection and the economy – trains should be affordable and efficient. They are neither. Much of the rail network ground to a halt in the recent 6 days of winter and it's not great when the sun is shining.
Our hospitals are using failing equipment and cannot get enough qualified staff. This is only going to get worse as EU worker numbers slump and migrant labour from other parts of the world switches to EU Europe where workers rights are protected.
And now – just as the UK is completing the task of making itself an economic basket case – we enter a new chill with Russia. Cynic that I am it even crossed my mind that gobshite Boris Johnson prematurely called out Russia – (rather than follow the existing protocol which would have meant Russia could be condemned formally from a position of 100% strength) because it’s such a marvellous distraction from the Brexit bungle he helped orchestrate.
It is a perfect shit storm.
It is the confluence of decades of UK carpet-bagging with Brexit putting us on the worst possible footing with a host of economic, social and military allies plus the international monster mess caused by going into bad situations when we should not have done (Iraq) and not going into others when, even someone as anti-war minded as me, cuold see we should have done more – (Syria).
Greed and gormlessness and gung-ho. Game playing at the top tables with the price being paid, always, by those at the bottom.
It’s not clever and it’s not pretty.
and buy this book...
...you know you want to see where all this is going...