The shocking discovery that some 600 tower blocks have the combustible cladding used in Grenfell Tower will dwell on the minds of our compatriots. Hopefully, in our small but beautiful neck of the wood, we shall not have this to worry about. But our thoughts are with the elderly and children who seem to have been disproportionately affected.
Nobody this week can have not been moved by the tragedy of the Grenfell Tower inferno that has robbed innocent people of family and home. Nobody cannot believe that there are serious answers needed not only to questions of design and construction but of social neglect. However, will the balm of solace be found through mass demonstrations and political rallies?
No doubt that the Prime Minister’s failure to draw close to the residents is a cause for criticsm of either inept advice or poor personal judgement but so is politcal opportunism that suggests that a million demonstrators in the streets should bring down the government. It is all, sadly, reminiscent of the Arab Spring when, some well intentioned individuals sought to condemn police behaviour that resulted in a desperate self-immolation. Once the mob is used by malevolent agents to deflect agencies seeking to give comfort and to find solutions to the tragedy, then our civilisation is lost.
Maybe it was the heat of summer like that which created the outbursts of Toxteth, Tottenham and Wandsworth over racial injustice, but let us hope that this tragedy does not become an excuse for igniting the conflict of civilizations. We have a reputation in this country of slow but steady progress, many seem to have forgotten that. Social systems do not behave at all predictably when they are moved from incremental trajectories to regions of chaotic behaviour. People who identify thenmselves as citizens of the UK should pause in their headlong flight into social violence and consider what they are calling down on themselves as well as others.
Before the referendum vote in June 2016 our local MP, Damian Green, had a breakfast debate with Michael Howard. Mr Green supported The Remain Campaign and Tory grandee, Lord Howard supported Brexit. Now, post the general election, our local MP has not only been returned but has been elevated to First Secretary of State in a government intent on leaving the EU.
Tim Farron has resigned from the leadership of the Liberal Democrats because of the incompatablity he feels in leading his party when he holds strong personal religious beliefs. Of course, Theresa May is a more appropriate example of the same behaviour. In her case, she was not a very vocal supporter of Brexit, but, nevertheless, sceptics may be excused for being suspicious of her volte face.
Shouldn’t we expect our political representatives to consider the incompatabilities in their beliefs when they stand for election? Is our vote for or against them to be judged so lightly? Or are we right to be cynical about why they wish to represent us? Winston Churchill accepted a time in the political wilderness until his prescient view of German rearmament ensured a return on his terms.
“When most socialists treated the working class as a kind of bee colony – pre-programmed to perform its historical role – Gramsci said: everyone is an intellectual. Even if a man is treated as “trained gorilla” at work, outside work “he is a philosopher, an artist, a man of taste … has a conscious line of moral conduct”. [Antonio Gramsci, Selections from the Prison Notebooks]”
We have read the local candidates messages and this is our take on things:
The Conservative politicians did nothing to save the future of an agricultural college in Wye. Development has been ill-considered and only led to a housing crisis with shortages of affordable homes to buy and rent. A divisive and ideological education policy is largely responsible for an increasingly polarized youth. Local government responsibilities have increased with little thought given to proper resourcing and initiatives have failed to keep pace with the issues of an increasingly ageing population in rural communities such as Wye. Police presence is notable for its absence – unless you count the visit of a police TV surveillance vehicle once in a blue moon. It is time to re-think social responsibilities and priorities.
Does this square with your view of Teresa May? There must be many of us now who were persuaded that after David Cameron’s resignation and a Conservative leadership election the path to negotiated Brexit was in a safe pair of hands. However, many of us have been increasingly distressed by Mrs May’s decision-making and hustings performance. I received this in my mailbox
“I am sitting here trying to decide whether Teresa May’s problem is that she is as thick as a brick, or that she totally lacks any self-awareness or both.
Just consider her track record. First, she is a committed supporter of Remain who makes a sudden 180 degree turn to become a fervent Brexiter in order to support her ambition to be PM. Not content with that, she goes further than she ever needs to do by deciding, basically without consulting anyone, that the UK will also exit the single market and the customs union, in the teeth of all advice that the consequences will almost certainly be catastrophic economically, as well as potentially causing the break up of the UK.
She appoints three clowns to the three key offices of state that will most impact Brexit and ensures that powerful political figures she dislikes are contemptuously dismissed and ignored, completely forgetting that they may then seek the opportunity for revenge (George Osborne anyone?).
Her response to experienced civil servants telling her truths she doesn’t want to hear is to dismiss them and destroy their careers. She tries to dismiss Parliament as an inconvenient irrelevance and is furious when the courts point out that she cannot do so. She appears to believe that it isn’t a problem that almost a year after the referendum there is no understanding of the main issues, no clarity on what the UK is aiming to achieve in the Brexit negotiations, and no reassurance for beleaguered businesses wondering how they are going to be impacted.
She then calls an utterly unnecessary election on entirely spurious grounds …. at which point, she makes the worst mistake of all as far as her own career is concerned. She puts herself at the centre of the whole campaign, allowing virtually no role or airtime to her colleagues, takes no advice except her inner circle, announces without consultation policies which directly attack her strongest supporter base, and has to go for a humiliating U-turn almost immediately, mouths ludicrous soundbites that mean nothing, builds the entire campaign around her own (non-existent) personality, and launches personal attacks on her opponent based on things he did and said (or didn’t do and didn’t say) decades ago.
And thus succeeds in turning what should have been an unassailable lead into a real chance of a reduced majority or even a loss. While, of course, cosying up to wholly unreliable fools like Trump, and ensuring that our largest market and nearest neighbours, those with whom the UK needs to successfully negotiate, are comprehensively fed up with her total lack of understanding of the issues, her quite unnecessary aggression and her vacuous slogans.
It is almost impossible to think of ways in which her performance as PM could have been more disastrously inept. To revert to my opening sentence … all the evidence would suggest it is both, plus a level of arrogance that is truly staggering!”
Just to remind folk who are discussing how things were back in the ’70s, here’s Margaret Thatcher’s statement in her first manifesto, it sums up how things were. So have we succeeded in the project? Will we be able to re-new the project?
“THIS ELECTION is about the future of Britain – a great country which seems to have lost its way. It is a country rich in natural resources, in coal, oil, gas and fertile farmlands. It is rich, too, in human resources, with professional and managerial skills of the highest calibre, with great industries and firms whose workers can be the equal of any in the world We are the inheritors of a long tradition of parliamentary democracy and the rule of law.
Yet today, this country is faced with its most serious problems since the Second World War. What has happened to our country, to the values we used to share, to the success and prosperity we once took for granted?
During the industrial strife of last winter, confidence, self-respect, common sense, and even our sense of common humanity were shaken. At times this society seemed on the brink of disintegration.
Some of the reasons for our difficulties today are complex and go back many years. Others are more simple and more recent. We do not lay all the blame on the Labour Party: but Labour have been in power for most of the last fifteen years and cannot escape the major responsibility.
They have made things worse in three ways. First, by practising the politics of envy and by actively discouraging the creation of wealth, they have set one group against another in an often bitter struggle to gain a larger share of a weak economy.
Second, by enlarging the role of the State and diminishing the role of the individual, they have crippled the enterprise and effort on which a prosperous country with improving social services depends.
Third, by heaping privilege without responsibility on the trade unions, Labour have given a minority of extremists the power to abuse individual liberties and to thwart Britain’s chances of success. One result is that the trade union movement, which sprang from a deep and genuine fellow-feeling for the brotherhood of man, is today more distrusted and feared than ever before.
It is not just that Labour have governed Britain badly. They have reached a dead-end. The very nature of their Party now prevents them from governing successfully in a free society and mixed economy.
Divided against themselves; devoid of any policies except those which have led to and would worsen our present troubles; bound inescapably by ties of history, political dogma and financial dependence to a single powerful interest group, Labour have demonstrated yet again that they cannot speak and dare not act for the nation as a whole.
Our country’s relative decline is not inevitable. We in the Conservative Party think we can reverse it, not because we think we have all the answers but because we think we have the one answer that matters most. We want to work with the grain of human nature, helping people to help themselves – and others. This is the way to restore that self-reliance and self-confidence which are the basis of personal responsibility and national success.
Attempting to do too much, politicians have failed to do those things which should be done. This has damaged the country and the authority of government. We must concentrate on what should be the priorities for any government. They are set out in this manifesto.
Those who look in these pages for lavish promises or detailed commitments on every subject will look in vain. We may be able to do more in the next five years than we indicate here. We believe we can. But the Conservative government’s first job will be to rebuild our economy and reunite a divided and disillusioned people.”
Another medium-term issue facing us is what conditions any incoming government will have have to face from the EU. The European Union Commission is running the show for the 27 – we all recognise that it is the unelected commissioners who both write the plays, create the puppets and pull the strings – no surprise then that they have issued two documents that lay out what they demand the UK settles first. Firstly the rights of EU and UK citizens living either in the UK or among the 27. The second concerns the ‘divorce settlement’. The latter to be paid in euros. Barnier has been warning MEPs to ensure that their domestic governments do not ‘let the UK get away with anything’. For your edification, we make these two documents available here.