You couldn’t have failed to notice the headlines. Much of Britain has been sweltering in a so-called heatwave.
Well, Stop The Press. Actually, like a lot of things, the UK doesn’t really do summer very well, so when atypically hot weather descends on the Albion isle for a good fortnight of the year, everything stops. Literally. The country seemingly grinds to a halt, unable to cope with such unseasonal sweatiness. And all this from the island that ruled a quarter of the globe.
These days I divide most of my time between Australia and the south of France, where 40+ degree days in either region are not only common but expected. So the hot fuss about temperatures reaching (shock, horror!), the low thirties for a few days bemuses me no end. My countrymen really are never happy unless they’re moaning about the “bloody wevver”, are they?
Still, I’m sure The Queen was relieved the 2017 State Opening of Parliament – which coincided with the Summer Solstice – was a markedly simpler ceremony than usual, with none of those blanket-like ceremonial robes and crowns weighing her down on the warmest June day in over 40 years. 1976? Now that’s what I call a heatwave.
Not only was it dress down day (“where did you get that hat, EUlizabeth?”) but it seemed to be bring your child to work day too. We marvelled at the sight of Prince Charles, the nation’s favourite sausage-fingered perma-heir, enlisted to replace his poorly father, and looking never more like the proverbial fidgety nine year-old: dragged into mummy’s accountancy firm for the day while everyone else is out in the sunshine playing in their paddling pools.
But hang on a cotton-picking minute. There was small part of today’s rather fevered Queen’s Speech deliberately slipped in near the end which – quelle surprise – doesn’t appear to be attracting too much attention on the regular news outlets and ‘feeds’.
HM said her government “will work to tackle the threat of terrorism at source by continuing the United Kingdom’s leading role in international military action to destroy Daesh in Iraq in Syria.”
Really? Unlike Betty I didn’t have a Royal Ascot enclosure with my name on it, but I would have bet a pretty penny or hundred that our elderly monarch – one with long-rumoured pacifist leanings – loved having to read that out.
I don’t know about you, but as vile as Daesh/ISIS are, hearing a 91 year-old woman using words (written by her ministers, natch) like “destroy” struck an incongruously aggressive and distasteful tone. Shame on you, Theresa May, for allowing this unnerving, unnecessary inclusion; and hot on the heels of three months of a seemingly endless exposition of death and destruction in Westminster, Manchester, London Bridge, Finsbury Park and the Grenfell Tower inferno in North Kensington, the UK’s most deadly fire since World War II.
Wasn’t 2016 bad enough? But somehow 2017 seems determined to eclipse it for sheer unspeakable horror and catastrophe. Back in April, I wrote that I refused to vote in May’s June election, and I stuck to my word. In person or online, I implored anyone who’d listen not to take part in the Thatcher wannabee‘s expensive, pointless poll but, alas, my words fell on increasingly deaf ears. Despite an increasing malady lingering in the minds of the electorate, turnout was actually higher than 2015, with, inexplicably, both the Conservatives and Labour increasing their vote share, despite the latter being led by the Lidl-lite marxist Jeremy Corbyn.
For some strange and equally appalling reason, minor parties have been obliterated and two-party politics is back in vogue. Though due to the idiosyncratic vagaries of the antiquated first-past-the-post system, Theresa’s Tories actually lost seats – as well as their overall majority – despite being the first party to gain over 40% of votes in 16 years. Imagine if only a tiny fraction of eligible voters had turned up at the ballot box? That would have sent an ineradicable message to the powers-that-be that (in the words of The Stranglers) something’s gotta change.
Instead, as a result of an election that nobody wanted, self-inflicted Prime Ministerial disempowerment has forced the anything but strong and stable TMPM to jump into bed with Ulster’s DUP, one of the most illiberal and homophobic political parties in the western world. The ironically named ‘Democratic’ Unionists have been single-handedly trying to drag Northern Ireland kicking and screaming back to the 1600s for decades. If May was in cahoots with other rancid, racist or religious rabble – say UKIP or an Islamic party advocating Sharia Law – there would be riots and a call for revolution. You get what you vote for, and to return to my first point, none of the major parties indicated that they propose to unilaterally withdraw from the Middle East meddling that’s resulted in so much bloodshed at home and abroad.
You probably don’t need me to point out that Islamic terrorism has been a problem on this sceptred isle since 2005, two years after George Bush and Tony Blair’s illegal occupation of Iraq. The Syrian situation is a direct consequence of the divide and conquer ‘regime change’ that started with the vengeful, vindictive toppling of Saddam Hussein. How come we went to war?
Among the endless human tragedies, the immense architectural legacy of this once beautiful country has also been eviscerated. Syria boasted countless cultural landmarks, including an impressive six Unesco World Heritage Sites. Six. That’s one more than Libya – yet another blot on our landscape – and all of which are now either destroyed or severely damaged; a monstrous mass of rubble and ruins. Is it any wonder the survivors fled?
Britons call – quite rightly – for millionaire Blair to be indicted for war crimes and yet, just as they did with Gordon Brown, David Cameron, so on and so forth, they are still happy to vote for a party – be it blue, be it red – that continues to intervene, nay interfere, into an already unstable region made worse by military action undertaken on ‘behalf’ of the British people.
These are the very same British people that have never been allowed a vote or plebiscite on whether they want these costly conflicts. If you enter the armed forces at least you have made a personal choice, with the very real prospect that you may be called for active service. Civilians have no such luxury, which is why the targeting of the general public on the streets and, even worse, our youngsters at pop concerts is an act of extremist evil abhorrent to every fibre of our being.
This is why the government’s search and “destroy” policy has to change. The key word they should have got Her Maj to announce is “withdraw”, bit of course, they won’t.
Things can only get worse.