Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Presidential office hours

Peter Black draws attention to president-elect Trump's going back on a promise to hit the ground running after his inauguration. There is a precedent. George W Bush did not spend much time in the presidential office, and we know what a success he was.

Jill Saward's self-sacrifice repaid in death

I cannot claim to have known Jill Saward, though I did correspond with her husband-to-be Gavin Drake when he was on CIx (the nearest thing to Facebook in those days when you accessed the Internet via a text-only interface). I do, however, remember the shock when I heard of the Ealing vicarage rape especially as I used to pass the parish church daily in my IT learning days (the old ICL computer training centre was situated in South Ealing Road). I was even more shocked when the Sun disgracefully publicised Jill Saward's details, as laid out in the latest Private Eye. Is it not odd that none of the mainstream media have recalled that appalling breach of privacy? Her response was not only brave but also of great comfort to fellow victims.

Now I learn, thanks to the Daily Post, that not only did she love (understandably) the Lleyn Peninsula, but she held herself back from buying a home there out of consideration for local young people. However, she willed that her mortal remains should be placed there.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Tax haven and sweat shop

This report of chancellor Hammond's negotiating stance tends to confirm my view that the real aim of the Leave EU movement is to allow the City to escape regulation. Waiting in the shadows is the opportunity to remove EU-dictated health and safety law.

[Later] Mrs May's speech (and why did she not explain her thinking to Parliament?) of earlier today did not reassure me.

Monday, 16 January 2017

Canadian reshuffle

Justin Trudeau is not allowing his administration to become stale. His reshuffle includes the youngest female cabinet minister and the first Somali-Canadian.

Particularly interesting is the appointment of Cynthia Freeland as Foreign Minister. A Rhodes scholar, she has journalistic experience of Ukraine, Russia and other parts of eastern Europe, so should provide an objective counter-weight to the incoming representative from Canada's neighbour to the south.

Sunday, 15 January 2017

UK should not pursue an Atlantic trade deal at all costs

We have had cases of infection from bacteria  resistant to most antibiotics available in the UK, but as far as I know, although the people concerned are suffering in various degrees, there has been no fatality as a result. Now there has been a death in the United States.  It seems that the unnamed woman picked up the fatal infection in India but the circumstances for producing such "superbugs"exist in the US. The prophylactic use of antibiotics in agriculture is much better controlled in the EU. We must not allow meat from the US in by the back door, which is what might happen if Conservative zealots insist on a post-Brexit trade deal with the States. The EU managed to resist that in the TTIP negotiations, but I fear our negotiators are pretty feeble compared with those in mainland Europe.

Friday, 13 January 2017

Labour party managers frit*

In the light of yesterday's massive council by-election loss in Sunderland (not to mention another LibDem gain, winning control of Three Rivers District Council), it is not surprising that Labour is in no hurry to move the writ for a by-election in the Copeland constituency.

It would be possible for a party other than Labour to break with convention and move the writ. However, although as second-placed party at the general election, the Conservatives are best placed to take advantage of a Labour collapse, they may not want to risk losing face in the event that Labour hangs on. Likewise, there is no party advantage to Liberal Democrats, fourth in 2015, in pressing for an early election. UKIP, who were third, though ten thousand votes behind Labour, may feel they can take advantage of the situation. But who would want to be seen supporting a motion from the lone UKIP MP, Douglas Carswell? On the other hand, who would want to be seen voting against, especially as if it failed, the vacancy would remain unfilled for the rest of the parliamentary session. As someone remarked on Facebook, it would be a game of poker.

*Lincolnshire dialect for "frightened" as used by Margaret Thatcher of Neil Kinnock

Thursday, 12 January 2017

DfID - a chance missed

The so-called opposition in the House of Commons has yet to probe the government on the matters raised here. In yesterday's International Development Questions, most Labour MPs banged on about illegal Israeli settlements - a justifiable concern, but hardly appropriate to the Department in question.

Instead it was left to the last (no chance of a counter from the other side) for a Conservative MP to lob a friendly question to Rory Stewart who defended both dam construction and the "assistance" in financial management.

Nor was there a question about indirect aid to countries who clearly do not need it, as reported by the Telegraph, Mail and Guardian.

At least Priti Patel was looking at the use of consultants by DfID at an alleged cost of over £1bn.