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.

 

Once out, there is no way back

STOP LEADING US TO NATIONAL SUICIDE

LightBrigadebyChristopherClarkLord Cardigan leading the Charge of the Light Brigade at the Battle of Balaclava in 1854, painting by Harry Payne.

BREXIT CAN BE REVERSED

Brexit is Britain’s biggest blunder. Once out, there is no way back in. A rational, and legal, solution is easily available to the Government. Article 50 should be revoked. Only the courage to admit a mistake is lacking.


Lord Kerr, writer of Article 50.

A LONG, LONG TIME AGO, BRITAIN WAS GOVERNED WISELY.

KingArthurandtheKnightsoftheRoundTableKing Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, illuminated miniature painting on paper, probably circa 1470, dated 13th century by BnF.
Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF). Image: Wikipedia

ashmoleanAlfredJewel
Alfred Jewel North Petherton, Somerset AD 871–899 Gold, enamel and rock crystal. Image: © Ashmolean Museum.
This item is from Project Woruldhord, University of Oxford

 

 

Alfred Made Me

Drawing of the Alfred Jewel, incribed “AELFRED MEC HEHT GEWYRCAN” (Alfred ordered me to be made). The gold, quartz and enamel jewel, two and a half inches (6.4cm) long, was discovered in Somerset in 1693. The figure of a man holding two flower-like sceptres is thought to represent Sight or the Wisdom of God. Image: Wikipedia

Alfred, King of Wessex from 871 to 899, the man who let the cakes burn because he was too busy thinking about how to run the country, liberated the Anglo-Saxons from Viking oppression and, crucially, made peace with the Danish immigrants.

Maintaining close political, economic and cultural links to mainland Europe was central to Alfred’s policy.

He saw strength in unity, not in division.

Alfred Jewel North Petherton, Somerset AD 871–899 Gold, enamel and rock crystal.
Image: © Ashmolean Museum.
This item is from Project Woruldhord, University of Oxford

He believed that educating the English, especially those training for high office, in Latin as well as their own language was essential to English influence and future protection of rights: “All the sons of freemen who have the means to undertake it should be set to learning English letters, and such as are fit more advanced education and are intended for high office should be taught Latin also.”

Alfred the Great is the only English king to be a hero of parliamentary rights and American Independence. His codification of English laws, his ‘Deemings’ or Doom book (Book of Laws), dated circa 893, were the foundation of English Common law, established, according to Thomas Jefferson, “while the Anglo-Saxons were yet pagans, at a time when they had never yet heard the name of Christ pronounced or that such a character existed.”

“Parliament is sovereign and the guardian of our democracy.” (Philip Colvin QC)

Today, 1000 British lawyers have delivered a letter to the government protesting the illegality of the EU Referendum, and that it was not held in the long-term interests of the people.

The British Government might have breached the 2015 European Referendum Act. This is the same government so swaddled in its own tax-funded cocoon that it completely misjudged the public’s disaffection, palpable to the rest of us, when it called for a Referendum to appease its own right wing, never dreaming, apparently, that it would lose the vote.

A series of blunders is determining our national destiny.

Alfred was a centralizing ruler who promulgated democratic rights: “Doom very evenly! Do not doom one doom to the rich; another to the poor! Nor doom one doom to your friend; another to your foe!” (from Alfred’s Doom Book).

Alfred was a secular Christian, not a bigot. He saw Christianity, and Latin civilization, primarily as a tool for restoring and improving standards of education, government and culture in lands devastated by ignorant marauders, not as moral bullying to stamp out other beliefs.

Alfred and his achievements survived the cult that the Victorians, in their self-righteous way, made of him in their own image. Like God, Alfred was turned into a genteel, bearded C of E patriot in fancy dress. The probability remains that he was still England’s greatest king.

The amazing thing about Alfred is that, unlike Arthur, the legendary Romano-British king of the late 5th and early 6th centuries, he lived in flesh and fact, not as a projection of hopes for national destiny, not an amalgam of shadowy warriors and fictional constructs, not an allegory, but a reality.

His head was on the coins, which were inscribed AELFRED REX and were highly valued currency.

Arthur shows us what imagination and idealism can achieve, the eternal quest for meaning, the beautiful yearning, the divine poignant pointlessness of being human – he shows us the picture of our souls – while Alfred shows us the template for good government.

Alfred proves you really can provide an enlightened programme of arts and education reform alongside a sound economy, fair legal system, peaceful foreign policy and a strong, properly equipped army and navy.

Good government is worth a few burnt cakes.

At a time when England has no leadership, when the United Kingdom is threatened with internal division, adrift and friendless in northern seas, where the weather gets worse every year, Alfred is one of the few statesmen whose reputation is untarnished.

If you want to be loved and respected, it helps to be a ninth century king, so far away that not even a Chilcot Enquiry can touch you.

This blog is haunted by untouchable dead people, all of them known unknowns, their thoughts and feelings impertinently second-guessed.

Let’s imagine, for instance, what Elizabeth I would have done with a woman called Andrea who told her that she wasn’t fit to be queen because she was not a mother with a stake in her country’s future. Some form of time-warped justice has been done, because Leadsom has been hoist with her own petard.

Elizabeth I with Father Time
Allegorical Portrait of Elizabeth I, painted about seven years after her death.
Childless Gloriana mulls regretfully over the legacy of her reign – and she was one of the best statesmen Britain has ever had.
Pearls drip heavily from her clothes while Old Father Time dozes behind her on the right; Death grins over her left shoulder and two elongated, middle-aged looking putti fly in to remove the crown from her head.
Never before or since has sovereignty looked so tired.
English School, c. 1610. Image: Pinterest

What would Alfred, the far-sighted man in the jewel, see now? Unity, tolerance, fairness, higher education, science, art, economy, trade, justice all under threat again; a record of social inequality and shameful foreign wars.

He would see that a series of blunders is determining national destiny.

A divided people have been led by fools in a bloodless remake of the Charge of the Light Brigade.

Great Britain has voted itself to be one of the “what-ifs” of history.

There is hope, enshrined in law and democratic rights, initiated by Alfred’s one thousand year old deemings:

“For all of these reasons, it is proposed that the government establishes, as a matter of urgency, a royal commission or an equivalent independent body to receive evidence and report, within a short, fixed timescale, on the benefits, costs and risks of triggering article 50 to the UK as a whole, and to all of its constituent populations. The parliamentary vote should not take place until the commission has reported.”

Parliamentary sovereignty must be upheld. It is the heart of our democratic constitution, fought for and refined over centuries. Democracy is not an advisory X Factor public vote of 52 -48. Continue reading