Friday, 6th January, 2023

[Day 1026]

By this morning’s post, I received the collection of 6 classical CD’s for which I paid 0.99 and for which I assumed I was going to be outbid but in practice I won the auction. I did pay £3.50 for the postage but when I glanced at the stamps that had been used, the package had cost £4.50 to post. I did feel a tang of regret for the person who had sold it to me because with the low auction price being all used up to assist on the postage, I had, in effect, received the CDs for nothing – and, by the same token, the seller had received nothing for his CDs. I have started playing these CDs and one was a series of violin concertos played by Nigel Kennedy. I did notice that the performances seemed particularly arresting and when I read the program notes booklet written by Nigel Kennedy himself, the information was given that the performance was under the baton of an oustanding Dutch conductor. All of this suddenly became extremely relevant because when one of the concertos ended, there was a burst of applause so the performance had evidently been recorded live. This helps to explain why I was particularly struck as I listened to the recording for the first time as live performances always have that extra ‘something’ that helps to enhance the overall listening experience. This morning, after we had breakfasted, we collected our newspaper and made our way into Waitrose to treat ourselves to a coffee. Eventually, our University of Birmingham friend turned up and we spent a good half hour chatting before we needed to go on our prospective ways but with an agreement to meet again tomorrow. When we got home, we had a cook-in-the-oven fish based meal complemented with some Cavolo Nero and then wondered what the afternoon had to bring.

There are some interesting parallels between the shenanigans of both British and American politics at the moment. In this country we have suffered the trauma of three Prime Ministers within the last year and seen an experiment in far-right, libertarian politics which almost immediately blew up and which ultimately forced the resignation of Liz Truss. But on the other side of the pond, we are experiencing quite a drama in the ranks of the Republican party. Although they lost control of the Senate, the Republicans narrowly gained control of the House of Representatives. What should now happen is that Republicans select a Speaker from amongst their ranks and then the ‘normal’ business of politics, which includes the swearing in of newly elected members, can then proceed. The Speaker of the House of Representatives is an entirely partisan figure. In practice they are the leader of the majority party, which makes them the equivalent of prime minister in UK terms. But there is a small ultra-right wing group of Republicans who refuse to endorse the current Republican Party leader Kevin McCarthy who has failed in every round to secure the 218 votes needed to win. The House will now carry out a 12th round of voting later today and, as things stand, it has been about one hundred years since the Republicans last failed to agree a leader. It is difficult to see how this impasse is going to be resolved as the extreme right will brook absolutely no compromise and, as the Republican majority is so small, the recalcitrant right wingers hold the whip hand. It is possible that the process of ‘democracy in action’ may see America lose all moral authority in the world as it is hardly in a position to lecture others on the princples of sound government when their own version of democracy is such a shambles.

On the home front, there is now a report that many voters for Brexit are now experiencing ‘buyers remorse’ Among Leave voters who now regret voting for Brexit, the top reason given for their change of heart is a general sense that things have got worse since the 2016 referendum, according to a new poll. Before Christmas, pollsters at YouGov asked 616 people who voted to leave the union but have since changed their minds for their reasoning. It came after the pollster found in November that a record 19% of Brexit voters now think it was wrong to vote for Leave. Instead of providing options to choose from, people were free to give their own reasons. Of those surveyed, the most popular reason – held by a quarter of people – was that things have got worse since 2016. The next most popular answer – given by 19% of respondents – was the state of the economy or rising costs. A total of 11% felt they were lied to or things haven’t gone as expected since then. But the present attitude of the Labour Party, which has not opposed Brexit, means that both of the major political parties are out-of-step with the majority of public opinion. Could it be that the ‘red wall’voters (ex Labour voting MPs from declining industrial areas who voted Tory in the last election) are now such an important group that they are still wooed by Conservative and Labour like? At some time, we must draw closer again to our major trading partner which, of course, is the EU.