I wonder

I wonder if the UK will have fewer people in prison in 5 years time.
I wonder if the UK will have smaller class sizes in 5 years time.
I wonder if the UK will have fewer people sleeping on the streets in 5 years time.
I wonder if the UK will have fewer children growing up in poverty in 5 years time.
I wonder if the UK will be healing more people more quicklly in 5 years time.

Fractured

This comment by Philip Hammond shows the problem the UK has:

All of the other options have disadvantages and we have to look not only at the economy but also the need to heal a fractured nation. We will not be successful if we remain fundamentally divided and fractured on this issue.

With a 52/48 split, we are going to factured for many decades to come.

Lack of preparation is shocking

Frankly, I’m shocked at how unprepared this government is towards exiting the EU.

I can’t quite believe that they haven’t assessed what happens when we leave for the three cases of in the customs union, in a negotiated situation and under WTO rules. I expected better.

The cabinet hasn’t even discussed and agreed what their end goal is!

The fundamental problem is that the Tory MPs & the cabinet are as divided as the country still is. Practically, they should only have started down this road when 70% or so of the country wanted it.

It’s a shambles that was entirely predictable by the closeness of the vote result which was reinforced when May lost her majority.

What’s going to happen?

A friend on Facebook asked:

To my friends/family that think Trump is going to destroy America, drive us off a cliff, or set us back 300 years…what, specifically, is it that you think he is going to do to unleash said catastrophe?

This was my response:

As with all things related to government, we are unlikely to see a big catastrophe, unless the US really does go to war either economically or militarily with China which I think is unlikely.

I think in the US as in the UK, we’ll see a number of small things that mainly lead towards entrenching the current divisions in the country as these benefit the richest people who can buy the politicians.

So in the US, I wouldn’t be surprised if disabled children lose their current right to public education, the mortality rate in poorest 10% rises and that the number of people needing more than one job to get by increases.

Similarly, in the UK, we’ll see the same thing. There’ll be more zero contract hours employment which will give the impression that unemployment is going down, but more people in the country will be materially poorer and living with the risk of being fired with no notice. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see NHS funding reduced more as our national income goes down and of course our taxes will go up indirectly even though there’ll be a headline income tax cut.

Whether or not you care about these things depends on how much empathy you have I think. Personally, I want society as a whole to improve, which is measured by looking at the rise in education, health and treatment of the disenfranchised and the poverty stricken. I want to live in a country that is embarrassed that food banks exist and that people have to choose between food or heating. I don’t see this measurement of our society improving in the next 4 or 5 years.

For me personally, I’m facing a significant tax rise next year due to the changes announced in the budget and I’ve noticed that it’s a bit harder to get new work which is worrying. Other than that, I’ll be fine. I’m educated, mobile, reasonably rich, and white, so am not in a demographic that the government or the media will target for defunding, punitive taxation or blame.

Europe

I like being part of Europe. I don’t mean being part of the continent of Europe as that’s just geography. I mean being part of the European Union group of 28 countries working together on the big things.

I like being part of an economic and political power that can stand toe-to-toe with the big players on the world stage. I like that the EU is economically powerful enough to compete with China and the USA. The EU that is big enough that the US and China have to compromise with it in order to trade is my EU.

It’s great that I’m part of the only union of separate countries that wields so much diplomatic power that it could start negotiations with Iran over nuclear technology such that the Americans had to take note and join in. I like that EU is powerful enough that Russia has felt the economic sanctions we’ve imposed.

I’m glad that the EU looks out for its own people too, with anti-pollution and employment protection measures which help us all. Measures, that I’m ashamed to say, that the UK government tried to block.

I even like the EU governance model where representatives of each democratically elected government come together to create policies of common interest with each country then choosing how to enact that policy via their own locally applicable law. This model means that the UK is a member of a powerful union but can enact our own laws which means that we have most flexible labour market and the least regulated services market in the group because it suits our country best this way.

One thing I’ve never been totally sure about is the concept of a common currency without political and tax/banking union. The UK was never involved in that though, because the European Union is and always has been a union of sovereign countries and the UK government made the sovereign decision that the Euro was not for us.

I liked being part of Europe.

Saddam Captured

Finally Saddam has been captured. This must be a huge relief to everyone involved in trying to bring stability and peace back to Iraq. With a speedy handover of power to the Iraqis themsleves, I can see that things might just become better for the “ordinary man on the street” in Iraq.

Ministers

I really can’t get over how badly Ministers of Her Majesty’s Government come over on radio. There was the Roads Minister on the Today program this morning who was spouting rubbish. Yes we know that speed cameras save lives, what we actually want to know is why targets are being set for how many motorists to fine per year. The minister’s statement that the best speed camera is one that generates no tickets is completely at odds with setting prosecution targets. You are really going to have to go a long way to convince me that cameras aren’t being placed in the most lucrative spots anyway. Setting revenue targets for the people who run them reinforces this view.

Regime Change, Georgian Style

Congratulations to the population of Georgia for teaching their politicians that vote-rigging is not the way to win friends and influence people! I’m very impressed that their was no violence and the people got their way. It’s great to know that the populace in a democracy can make a difference without resorting to violence.

Blair's Heart Scare

Clearly being prime minister is a stressful job and I hope Mr Blair gets over his scare quickly. I imagine that his children were particularly worried over the last couple of days and hope that they’re reassured by the news that it’s unlikely to happen again. However, having a heart scare surely will change his outlook on life? I’m sure it would change mine and I certainly wouldn’t be actively seeking stressful situations “just in case”. It’s not easy if you really enjoy your job either, though looking at how Mr Blair has aged in the last few years, maybe it’s not that enjoyable being prime minister?

Teenager Cleared

According to BBC News, Aaron Caffrey has been cleared of a computer attack on a US port authority’s computers. His defence hinged upon his insistance that someone else did it using his computer via a Trogan computer “back-door”. In my opinion, it is good that he was acquitted. With the state of security on Windows computers, the fact that an attack originated at a given computer is certainly no proof that the owner of the computer is to blame. On the flip side, there certainly should be some onus on computer owners and Microsoft to ensure that computers can’t be hijacked so easily. It would help if Microsoft wrote software with a security mindset and so we wouldn’t have to deal with so many patches on what seems like a weekly basis. Anyone who runs a Windows computer without a firewall and up to date virus scanner deserves all they get anyway!

Incidentally, I installed 7 security patches on our live server today :)