Heroine of the eleventh hour

A BRIGHTER FUTURE FOR THE UK
proposed by Gina Miller in a new campaign to save UK from political chaos, social injustice and economic decline

sibyl
Ghirlandaio Sibyl (Agrippina) 1483-85 Fresco. Santa Trinita. Image: WGA

“The vote for Brexit shone a light on problems that successive Governments have consistently failed to address – communities left behind, inequality, the immigration system, economic stagnation, stretched public services, crisis in housing and social care.

“Britain is one of the most unequal societies in Europe, where success increasingly depends on where you live, which school or university you went to, who your parents are, and who they know.

“With 42% of UK wealth owned by 10% of households, it is no wonder there is a breakdown of trust in our institutions and politicians.

“But is Brexit the solution?” Gina Miller, Remain Plus for a Brighter Future

“What we have ended up with is division, anxiety and unhappiness. The options facing
us are so poorly defined that clarity is desperately and urgently needed. There must be a better way.

“Time is running out, but it is not too late. It is only right, morally and democratically, that the people of the UK are given a vote on a future we will have to face together.

“We believe this is the only way to clear away the confusion, draw a line under Brexit and get back to dealing with the issues facing our country.  The only way to end the chaos.”
Extract from Gina Miller’s mission statement on the new website End the Chaos

The full text of Gina Miller’s clear and constructive programme for reform, following A People’s Vote on Brexit, is available to read here: Remain Plus for a Brighter Future

Four Sibyls
Ghirlandaio Four Sibyls Vaulting of the Sassetti Chapel c. 1485.
Fresco. Santa Trinita, Florence. Image: WGA

END THE CHAOS

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“Darling! The set was wonderful.”

via “Darling! The set was wonderful.”

It’s one of those site-specific shows in which the lead actress, in the title role of “Sweet Melancholy”, is upstaged by a live, cooing, flying prop; the play is in blank verse, and the director, after blaming everyone else at the Tech Rehearsal, has lost the plot; but the set design is wonderful….

Joseph-Marie_Vien_Sweet_Melancholy_(1756)
Joseph-Marie Vien Sweet Melancholy 1756.
Cleveland Museum of Art. Image: Wikipedia

Melancholy, as you know it, was never this sweet. This looks more like Wistful Posing, though maybe you have missed the point about contemporary self-consciousness. Mid-drama, she, Melancholy, looking as pretty as possible, rearranges her drapery and takes a selfie.

You would be at a loss for words when you congratulate your friend afterwards, if it wasn’t for Vien’s sophisticated colour scheme, daring to put Melancholy’s acid yellow dress against a dark grey background, and his dedication to historical detail in the props and furniture, pioneering a fashion in neoclassical home interiors.

The smoke from the antique brazier is scented, sending the front rows, especially the critics, into drowsy raptures. That might explain the liminal moment when you thought you heard the dove speak.

You travelled far to get here, to a disused temple in an inaccessible part of the old City, where no buses dare to stop. You took three wrong turns on your way from the station. You are dismayed by the thought of missing connections on the long journey home, and arriving tired and dispirited in the lonely night.

You imagine yourself slumped unprettily on a chair, holding your head in your hands, mourning your losses, knowing that bad as the day has been, there is always hope tomorrow will be worse.

You promise yourself that if you can ever afford it – ach, if only you’d got that film job the other day – you will buy a neoclassical upholstered chair and incense-burner, and recline elegantly in a full-length, yellow silk gown, to sweeten your own melancholy.

You are not lying when you reassure Sweet Melancholy that, “You looked like a goddess on that set, and deserve awards just for acting with that pigeon.”

The Fifth Horseman

Madness in Washington, madness in Westminster, are manifestations of the same “damaged and defective” world disorder. In America and Britain, a moral paralysis is afflicting people with the power to effect a cure.

Trump is a deadly distraction for the British, who loudly denounce him while being blind to their own Brexit faults. They don’t want their country to decline from global power to Trump’s patsy, and ultimately Putin’s, but they are not doing anything to stop it.

Republicans should “defend their country rather than the damaged and defective man who is now its president” James Fallows, The Atlantic

Tory Brexiteers are saying,
“The loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs will be worth it to regain our country’s sovereignty”
Anna Soubry, reporting extremists’ conversations in the House of Commons, 16 July, 2018.

A TRUMP CARD(IGAN)
Punch cartoon depicting Lord Cardigan leading the Charge of the Light Brigade at the Battle of Balaclava, 1854.
Yet another over-privileged nut-case with inherited wealth and delusions of sovereignty leads everyone else into disaster.

Brexit is as damaged and defective as Trump. The links between Trump and British right-wing Brexiteers are now in the public domain, yet still the powerful drug Denial sedates the electorate, duped by a coup d’etat into believing that unnecessary self-harm is a democratic imperative.

The extreme right wing of both countries very skillfully manipulated voters into turning the tool of democracy against themselves by deploying “opaque” and “insidious” advertizing techniques. (George Monbiot, The Guardian)

Now the British are spooked by a second Referendum, which would actually be the third, on EU membership.

LINKS TO PETITIONS:
The People’s Vote
Final Say

You hear people say, “You can’t just keep on having votes until you get the result you want. It’s not democratic”.

That’s the very definition of democracy: you carry on voting in peaceful election after election throughout your life in the hope you’ll get the result you want before you die. It keeps us quiet. Our expectation of another chance to vote prevents civil war. Democracy, like State Religion, was adopted because it was convenient, not because it was natural or immutable.

If something is not working, if you see the State is sick, you call for a vote to change it. The British are notoriously bad at complaining. They get bad service and bad government as a result. The Poll Tax that sparked a people’s revolt was only one of the abominations against equality and liberty during the Tories’ eighteen-year reign at the end of the 20th century.

THE TRIUMPH OF POVERTY by Lucas Vorsterman. British Museum. Image: WGA

We’re already in the middle of a bloodless civil war, one with no end in sight, not now the over-privileged, rich, right-wing idealogues dreaming of tax havens and workers without rights have got their populist alliance.

Are you really content to just sit and watch while the world burns?

sof_aacute__by_ekhi_guinea-d756999
Sofa by Ekhi-Guinea

Or, like the majority of MPs, do you put your caste before your country, ideology before humanity, self-interest before national interest?

Or do you want to take action against what you know in your heart is wrong?

Excerpts from Anna Soubry’s speech in the House of Commons, advocating the benefits of frictionless trade and deploring the Prime Minister’s decision to accept the extreme right-wing Tory amendments to the customs bill:

“[Parliamentary Tory Brexiteers have said in private conversations] that the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs will be worth it to regain our country’s sovereignty…

Nobody voted to be poorer.

Nobody voted leave on the basis that somebody with a gold-plated pension and inherited wealth would take their job away from them…

Members on the frontbench and across this place should be shaking their heads with shame – this is the stuff of complete madness

And the only reason that the government has accepted these amendments is because it is frightened of somewhere in the region of 40 members of parliament – the hard, no deal Brexiteers, who should have been seen off a long time ago and should be seen off.

These are people who do not want a responsible Brexit, they want their version of Brexit – they don’t even represent the people who actually voted Leave. The consequences of this are grave…..”

She’s Conservative, blonde and was born in Lincolnshire. Listen to her low-pitched, emphatic voice, see the wagging finger of reproof, and you might think that She, not the legendary Ayesha of Rider Haggard’s late Victorian tales of misogynist imperialist adventure, but the Tories’ own sacred cow, the first great British champion of the European “single market without barriers – visible or invisible”* had been reborn:

ANNA SOUBRY SPEAKING IN THE HOUSE OF COMMONS

The world has turned upside down so many times, none of us know our arses from our elbows. Right-wing Brexiteer Edward Leigh MP, interrupting Anna Soubry’s speech to insult her, as is the arcane custom of our parliamentary representatives, unintentionally paid her the highest compliment:

“You’re no Margaret Thatcher”

That’s the best news in British politics for a generation.

*Margaret Thatcher, speaking at Lancaster House in 1988.

 

National identity

After years of division, defeat and self-doubt while being betrayed by the sport of politics, England has re-discovered national identity, born of freedom of movement and diversity, through the Beautiful Game that has broken English hearts for so long.

Whether they win or lose the final goal, the victories of the England football team and the sagacity of Southgate, the redeemed hero, have excited, if not entirely united, the country.

England would not have reached
the World Cup competition without

Freedom of Movement.

“6 of ’s starting line-up 1st- or 2nd-generation immigrants. Without them, we’d be down to 5 men. And trace back family histories of every England player and you’ll find migration stories….”
Global Citizen

England without migration

England would not have reached
the World Cup
without

Freedom of Movement

Summer fires

All in the golden afternoon
….
In such an hour,
Beneath such dreamy weather,
To beg a tale…
“There will be nonsense in it!”‘
Lewis Carroll, preface to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, 1865

gainsboroughwoodedlandscapeThomas Gainsborough Landscape with a Woodcutter and Milkmaid 1755
Oil on canvas

“Nostalgia is denial. Denial of the painful present.
The name for this denial is Golden Age thinking – the erroneous notion that a different time period is better than the one one’s living in – it’s a flaw in the romantic imagination of those people who find it difficult to cope with the present.”
Midnight in Paris, 2011, film written and directed by Woody Allen

“Say not thou, What is the cause that the former days were better than these? for thou dost not enquire wisely concerning this.”
Ecclesiastes, Chapter 7, Verse 10, King James Bible, 1611

constablebrightonJohn Constable (1776-1837) Coast Scene at Brighton: Evening, oil painting, ca. 1828
© Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

      “….colours from the sunset take:
From something of material sublime
Rather than shadow our own soul’s day-time
In the dark void of night.”
(Keats, Epistle to John Hamilton Reynolds)

“Set yourself on fire with passion and people will come for miles to watch you burn”
attributed to John Wesley (1703-1791)

marsdenmoorfire1

“The people who started the moorlands fires are responsible for a catastrophe that has endangered an enormous number of people. People are having to evacuate their homes, livestock has been lost and natural beauty spots have been ravaged. Resources have been sent from fire and rescue services all across the country.” Fire Brigades Union general secretary Matt Wrack speaking of the wildfires on Saddleworth Moor, Lancashire, England, which spread for 2 weeks during the heatwave of late June and July, 2018

“They never reached a golden age, or found El Dorado. ‘The journey, not the destination matters’, Rachael incanted, out of habit,
while they could see there was nothing left that glittered through the smoke ahead,
and the smell of burnt dirt did not stop rising from the ashes.
Philippa was in too sour a mood to stomach either irony or elegy and she snapped back:
‘Catch on fire and people will come for miles to see you burn’.”
Noëlle Mackay Human Rites 

gainsboroughevening3Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788) Wooded Landscape with Herdsman and Cattle

‘And now the tale is done,
And home we steer, a merry crew,
Beneath the setting sun.’
Lewis Carroll (1832-1898), preface to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, 1865

INFORMED CONSENT

“The public…need guarantees on NHS staffing, access to medicines and the safety of the NHS from any US-UK trade deal, before they can be satisfied that… Brexit will do no harm to our NHS and social care.”

Source: More United

These are the warnings shared by ten professional health organisations with all Members of Parliament about the impact of Brexit on the most unifying of our nation’s modern institutions, the one that heals more divides than football coming home, more than the monarchy, more than the Lottery, TV soap operas or Dad’s Army, the only one attending most of us from birth to death, the one that gives health to national identity:

  • ending freedom of movement from the EU could deprive the NHS of essential staff
  • any new customs checks or barriers for medicines and equipment could have very serious implications for care and push up costs, and
  • any economic damage from Brexit would make it difficult to deliver an NHS funding boost

Nine MPs from six parties, including two GPs, a surgeon and two former Health Ministers, have united to ask the Prime Minister asking for urgent action to protect the NHS from Brexit:

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“At its 70th birthday, the NHS faces – in Brexit – perhaps the greatest threat to its survival in its history.

I’m an NHS doctor who works in the A&E department. I voted Leave in the EU referendum, but now I’ve joined the campaign for a people’s vote on the final terms of the Brexit deal.

“The consent given by the public for Brexit was not informed consent. In medicine – and surely to any reasonable person – consent which is not informed is considered invalid, and this mandates a vote on the Brexit deal.”

Source: Charles Gallaher The Independent

REMAINER OR LEAVER, YOUR NATION’S HEALTH NEEDS YOU TO DEMAND A PEOPLE’S VOTE ON THE FINAL BREXIT DEAL

Save our NHS and save our nation from self-harming by signing
the petition for a People’s Vote

 

Fortitude in high heels

SerpottaFortitude
Fortitude Sculpture by Serpotta in white stucco and gilding, height 200 cm, 1710-17.
Oratorio del Rosario di San Domenico, Palermo. Image: WGA

Elegantly dressed for the life she wants,
in her favourite high-heeled shoes, breastplate bodice and plumed headdress,
Fortitude leans her elbow on the pillar of patience,
never keeping her eyes off the longest battle.

She doesn’t like what she sees, but she will never give in, she will never be part of it, even when other people make snarky remarks about her posing in her Rococo niche.

She exemplifies the moral courage of sticking to her post “because it is noble to do so, or because it is disgraceful not to do so.”

Keeping true to herself, and her fashion sense,
without bragging or lecturing, she puts the fun back into virtue.

“Patience is the pillar which nothing can soften.”
St Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179)

Music composed by Hildegard of Bingen

“She sat like Patience on a monument, Smiling at grief”
Viola in Twelfth Night, Shakespeare (1601)

Smile sung by Judy Garland (1963)

Fortitude is one of the four Cardinal Virtues of Christianity, recommended in a life skills course dating back to the 4th century, based on Aristotelian and Platonic ethics.

Aristotle defined fortitude as courage governed by reason (or temperance) in circumstances of fear or over-confidence: “Courage….chooses its course and sticks to its post because it is noble to do so, or because it is disgraceful not to do so.”

St Augustine of Hippo defined fortitude as “love readily bearing all things for the sake of the loved object”.

Kant: “Virtue is the moral strength of the will in obeying the dictates of duty, never developing into a custom but always springing freshly and directly from the mind.”

Fortitude has become rarer in the modern world where license has chained us to new tyrannies, and freedom is as elusive as ever.

The advantages of self-control in adverse circumstances have been forgotten in the revolt against the misunderstood stiff upper lip. It’s adorable. The straighter the face, the better the joke.

The primary importance of sincerity in human intercourse – “speak what you feel, not what you ought to say” – has been effaced by knee-jerk opinion polls and social media group anxiety – Like to be Liked, Follow and Ye Will Be Followed – which have compromised Freedom of Speech and promulgated the nonsense that passes for wisdom nowadays.

If you’ve read this far, you deserve a modest disclaimer: yes, I’m as foolish as you.

The most self-expressive of Romantic poets would not have predicted humanity blogging itself to death.

The people who died for Democracy did not expect the Voice of the People would come from Babel.

Fortitude rests on her broken pillar, not on popularity.
Fortitude does not betray her soul, which to her is virtue, which to us is self-identity.
She fights on.
She wears the shoes she wants.

She?

All four of the Cardinal Virtues, Prudence (or Wisdom), Fortitude (or Courage), Temperance (or Self-control) and Justice (or Fairness) were allegorized as female.

Figure_des_quatre_Vertus_from_Ballet_comique_de_la_reine

Figures of the Four Virtues from Ballet Comique de la Reine, 1582, one of the court entertainments commissioned by Catherine de Medici from which classical ballet, and political satire, developed. Image: Wikipedia

Fortitude lives up to her reputation for cheerfulness in adversity by playing the lute and holding a pillar at the same time.

“Ginger Rogers did everything [Fred Astaire] did,
backwards and in high heels.” Bob Thaves, Fred and Ernest comic strip, 1982

Step By Step
Poster for Top Hat, 1935

“Give a girl the right shoes and she can conquer the world.” Bette Midler
(often misattributed to Marilyn Monroe)

SerpottaFortitudeHigh Heels

USE DEMOCRACY AS IT WAS MEANT TO BE. SIGN AND SHARE THE PETITION FOR A PEOPLE’S VOTE TO STOP BREXIT DESTROYING OUR COUNTRY.