Friendly intervention

A true friend tells you the truth, even when it hurts. We are all better at judging other people’s mistakes than our own. The reflection that I see in the mirror is not the person other people see.

We should listen to friendly warnings before we walk over a cliff. “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” Proverbs 13.20.

“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.” John Donne, Meditation XVII

History lesson


Protesters on the march of 23 March 2019, calling for the British Government to stop our withdrawal from The European Union.

REVOKE ARTICLE 50

Spring in Park Lane

A million people marched peacefully to show the world that Britain is better than Brexit

“If a democracy cannot change its mind, it ceases to be a democracy.”

PETITION TO REVOKE ARTICLE 5O AND REMAIN IN EU HAS OVER 5 MILLION SIGNATURES

Two-party system is not democracy…

…but the British public service broadcaster perpetuates the lie, against the national interest.

The proposed debate between the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition about the Brexit Deal is not about a general election to a fixed-term Parliament; it is about the social, cultural, economic and constitutional future of our country for countless generations to come.

Democracy does not serve the national interest without a well-informed public.

Tom Baldwin presents the heart of the matter to the BBC:

 

The moment Britain got back its dignity

Dominic Grieve

Dominic Grieve’s magisterial speech at The People’s Vote rally on 13 November was an historic moment to remember, whatever the outcome of the movement to save our disunited kingdom will be. All the speakers found new reserves of passion and determination, and, in some cases, even humility, exemplified by Gary Lineker, showing the time has come to put our country above all personal interests. This was patriotism, not nationalism.

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.

The Misgovernment of Britain

“THE UNCERTAINTY, MUDDLE AND DRIFT [OF BREXIT SHOWS] THAT VICTORIAN THEORIES OF GOVERNMENT SIMPLY DON’T DESCRIBE ANY LONGER THE REALITY OF HOW THE UK IS MISGOVERNED”
Tim O’Connor

“I live and practise in the United States, a parliamentary democracy where a written Constitution is supreme. The UK, though, has a system of contingent Parliamentary supremacy (with the Crown in Parliament – the Executive – dominant), and no written constitution.

One may prefer one model over the other. I prefer that of my adopted homeland, as it happens. But one may argue for either, and the UK’s has, in fairness, generally muddled along pretty well on precedent and incremental adjustment.

Until now, that is. In the last week or so, you back home have seen the UK Supreme Court deciding, obiter dicta, that it knows better than legislators what voters want; and Parliament ruled not to be supreme, but bound by an ad hoc referendum in a past Parliament.

Moreover, Parliament has ceded control to the Executive in making laws – the so-called ‘Henry VIII’ powers, agreed without discussion – and decided not to give itself a say over the Executive determining the UK’s standing in the world, instead freeing the Executive to act unfettered.

Oh, and as you may not have noticed, witnesses summoned to give evidence to Parliamentary select committee enquiries only come by their own discretion, and, like Arron Banks, can seemingly walk out when they feel like it.

So, which system is it? Parliamentary supremacy? Judicial control? Executive control? One popular vote nearly two years ago that seemingly now binds all future parliaments?

I honestly do not know. I doubt if anyone can say with true certainty. (Scots constitutional lawyers are meanwhile brawling, as if about the last bottle of full-sugar Irn-Bru, over a Sewel convention that nobody is even sure is broken.)

So far as I can tell, UK constitutional structures at the moment aren’t just mixed, they’re scrambled. Brexit is a universal solvent, and all the previous structures are crumbling and mingling within the struggle over it. And that cannot be a sustainable state of affairs.

Whatever ultimately happens with Brexit, the UK is going to have to clarify constitutional structures in a way it hasn’t done since the Irish Home Rule crisis. The uncertainty, muddle and drift, where nobody is truly sure who has what powers, under what limits, cannot continue.

The thing is, I’m uncertain, on the evidence of the mess that’s been allowed to develop today, that there is the requisite appetite or expertise to carry out the difficult constitutional exercise of picking one system, clarifying it and sticking with it. I am sure, though, that Victorian theories of government simply don’t describe any longer the reality of how the UK is misgoverned.”

Tim O’Connor, Attorney at Law

Lorenzetti The Effects of Bad Government 1337 -39, Sala della Pace (Hall of Peace) Siena.
Image: WGA