Wednesday, 15th February, 2023

[Day 1066]

The weather looks somewhat on the change this morning and the high pressure that we have enjoyed over the last few days is gradually being nudged aside by, I presume, some wetter weather. Meg and I overslept a little this morning which is not a particularly bad thing but it meant it was a little bit later than normal by the time we had picked up our newspaper and replenished some supplies in Waitrose – which, in all truth, we treat rather as though it were a little corner shop. In the park today, we ran across the regular gaggle of dog walkers nearly all of whom know each other quite well and stop and have a chat whilst the dogs have a chase around, rather like young children. Once we got home, we cooked the remains of our beef from the weekend with a baked potato and some broccoli and then settled down for a leisurely afternoon.

The political news today has been dominated by the shock resignation of Nicola Sturgeon as Scotland’s First Minister. Although the resignation came as the proverbial ‘bombshell’ there had been some indications that Nicola Sturgeon was finding life at the top increasingly burdensome and the big row in Scottish politic over the ‘trans-gender’ issues (which I shall not even start to unpick at this point) may well have been the straw that broke the camel’s back. She herself in her resignation statement reminded us that she had been eight years as the SNP deputy leader and eight years as leader and sixteen years is a long time in such demanding roles. Certainly, there is no really evident successor at this point of time and it may well she is a hard act to follow. I do wonder whether the female leader of the New Zealand Labour Party who resigned quite recently might have preyed at the back of her mind. At the height of the COVID pandemic when she was giving daily press conferences, she seemed to stand head-and-sholders above Boris Johnson when one compared them having to give similar annuncements and progress reports. It seemed to me at the time that the Scottish leadership was always a day or so in advance of that provided at Westminster but in the world of Machiavellian politics, I wonder whether amidst the sentiments of genuine regret about Nicola Sturgeon’s departure, there might be a certain amount of glee in the Scottish Labour party who might espy the opportunity for a bit of a comeback in the face of the SNP dominance over the past few years. One shadow minister is even saying that ‘It is all over for independence’ and that ‘After 15 years they have run out of road.’ Another suggested the SNP would now be split between its traditional base and its more moderate voters.

The search for the missing Lancashire dog-walker, Nicola Bulley, has had a slightly different gloss put on it this afternoon. The police are now saying that Nicola Bulley was listed as a ‘high risk’ missing person due to a ‘number of specific vulnerabilities’. The police, out of respect for the family, are not giving out more details at this stage but the admission that the missing person was ‘high risk’ adds a whole new complexion to this intriguing case. Now that the police have revealed this new information, it is quite possible that further bits will drip feed into the story. The Lancashire community has been subjected to all kinds of amateur detectives and sleuths working on any number of theories and I would imagine that this is making the work of the police more difficult. I just wondered for how many years a person must be missing before they are presumed ‘dead’ and the most common application of a rule is seven years. One can see why this period of time has to elapse – after all, it is quite possible for individuals to have an attack of amnesia and turn up years later and events like this turn up from time to time. But seven years is a long time to wait until a person’s affairs can be wound up and I can only imagine for partners, relatives and friends this can only serve to prolong their agony.

As regards the Turkey-Sria earthquake, I am wondering whether it is all sensible to try to rebuild these communities over an admitted geological fault line. If one has to start building from scratch, I wonder whether it would be sensible to take the whole swathe of land affected by the earthquake and turn it into a massive park and nature reserve. After all, thousands of people are probably still buried beneath the rubble and I wonder whether it would be a fitting memorial to those who have died and to their surviving relatives not to rebuild as an urban community but to landscape and to think of alternative land use? Of course, this is for the Turks and Syrians to decide but I am not sure that rebuilding on top of what is actually a massive cemetery needs some careful thought. It would take some skilful political leadership to put such a radical plan into effect, though, but surely the time to think such thoughts is the present and not several years hence.