London v. Paris

London v. Paris

(Round 8,296)

Divorce never heals. Whether friendly or contested, whether well financed or under-financed, it continues to hurt for the rest of the lives of the parties involved. It isn’t a searing pain – well, it may be at times but then generally briefly – but it is a nagging pain, the pain of failure. And Brexit was a divorce, make no mistake. It will wear and tear for many years with occasional spats between the UK and the EU, often over really small things but things that seem important. It is seldom wealth that causes the worst pains of divorce. Usually it is ownership of some emotive possession, a picture, a statue, a photograph, the things of memory not those of material value.

And so the spat between France and Britain drags on its weary way and Prime Minister and President continue bumping elbows in a ritual dance the Pink Flamingos would be proud of. Absurd politics garner no credit wherever they are seen. In small, aspiring countries they are dismissed as the nonsense of youth. In mature countries, of whatever size, they are as embarrassing as a broken bottle at a wedding reception. We have to hope the nonsense of Brexit can be soon amended and Britain can once again take its place alongside its continental partners. For the moment, Britain – not Europe – is isolated.

It is now particularly important that Britain and the EU find ways to cooperate over the many things that will tend to push them apart. Britain is still an important voice in the world in its own right. Somewhat less than it has been in the past but still important. The Government of Britain still has a special relationship with the United States. That needs constant attention if it is to be stable and lasting. Britain’s voice in the EU is clearly diminished significantly but the impending threat of total annihilation means that the two must cooperate not compete. The world has yet to behave as though it understood the threat of climate disaster or international war.

If Britain is to use its voice to good effect it must apply itself to things that matter. That is not to say that fish and fishing don’t matter. Of course they do. But in the panoply of things that matter they come rathert far down the list. Prime Ministers and Presidents should be thinking of the climate first and then of how effectively to make Britain and the EU strong colleagues, as members of the supply chain now shuddering under the weight of online-ordered goods and tired HGV drivers. The future of health, of education, of National Service, of toughening up people who, by social welfare, have been spoiled, of making people once again responsible for themselves and their families – all these demand the attention of the Prime Minister. When will he attend to them?

The Prime Minister would do well to consider the appalling example he has set for younger governments creeping towards democracy by changing the parliamentary rules to accommodate the uncomfortable, sad and ultimately disgraceful treatment of the case of a former Minister.  I do not need to repeat the case; it has been widely reported. But where is the shame we would expect to see when a government moves the goal posts simply to excuse a man. Alas, I am afraid shame is not in Boris Johson’s vocabulary.

As for taxes, the voter is fed up with the increasing complexity of all of them, their inability to increase fairness and the enduring ability of the rich to avoid them. Actually, the voter is totally choked off by the complexity big civil service departments create, apparently to keep themselves in business more than to improve the lot of the people who must respond to them. Digitisation has yet to reach these Clerks of Clarity, so named for the lack of it they manage to deploy.

Life without a strategy, where personal, corporate or country, is a sham. That is why we need leaders.. That is why they should be strategic.

When Round 8,297 starts we shall know the whole Brexit thing has failed. Perhaps the British Prime Minister will admit that.

But then again, perhaps pigs will soon be flying.

Good morning

John Bittleston

‘Cooperation & Competition’ how to keep the balance between the two.

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