Thursday, 20th April, 2023

[Day 1130]

Today dawned, and continued, as the most beautiful and sunny of spring days. Both in our gardens, and the public streets and naturally the parks, flowering trees such as flowering cherry are in full bloom and one really has the feeling that spring has arrived. Thursday is my supermarket shopping day so once this was all done and I was safely back in the house by 9.00, all that remained was to cook the breakfast and unpack the shopping. Meg and I thought that we would take a decision what to do this morning once we were up and breakfasted. We could have gone to the park on a beautiful spring day like today but instead opted for a trip out to Droitwich which is a weekly favourite of ours. Here we have our cappuchino and toasted teacake which is our normal fare and then popped next door into the charity shop whch is a regular haunt of ours. We bought quite a stylish top for Meg in an interestng shade of blue and I also acquired a shirt in my size. I have the impression that prices are creeping up quite a lot, even in the charity shops these days or perhaps it is just the more stylish of items that carry a higher price tag. The we popped into a stationery shop and bought a little hard backed notebook that I need for some record keeping purchases. No visit would be complete without a visit to Wilko where I made a beeline for the stationery department to replenish supplies. Then it was case of getting home and preparing our lunch of quiche and vegetables. At 2.35 in the afternoon, I was poised over my computer making a bid on eBay for a collection of 25 audio books. These were not any old books but some very interesting audio books spanning the worlds of both politics and history. The starting bid was £10.00 and there was one bid in the system. I waited until there was a minute to go in the auction, made my top price £25.50 but was outbid. I was encouraged to raise my bid to £28 but I was outbid at the end by a bid of £29.00 – who knows what the other bidder’s top price actually was. To be honest, I am not sure that Meg would take to the audio books for whose benefit I was making the bid but in the nature of these eBay auctions you win some and you lose some.

One newsworthy item today has been the test firing of the worlds biggest rocket, courtesy of Elon Musk’s SpaceX operation. This flew for about 4 minutes before blowing up. However, only the Americans could have labelled such an event a RUD, which acronym stands for a ‘Rapid Unscheduled Disassembly’. There was something rather bizarre absout seeing a huge meeting space full of rocket technicians actually cheering when the whole contraption blew up. The explanation is that they regarded success as getting the rocket itself off the ground but you would not normally expect to witness a huge crowd of technicians actually cheering when their creation blew up in front of their eyes.

We have been holding ourselves in readiness all day today as the report on the alleged bullying behaviour of Dominic Raab, the Deputy Prime Minsister, was delivered to Rishi Sunak this morning. This report has taken months to compile and follows eight specific complaints from a score of civil servants across three ministries who have all attested to Raab’s bullying behaviour. Initially, we were told that the Prime Minister, having received the quite voluminous report, would announce a decision later on today. But as the afternoon wore on, Downing Street announced that no decision would be taken today so we will have to wait until tomorrow, at the earliest. Tonight the Guardian is reporting that the report is ‘searing’ and ‘stinging’ but this must be conjecture on the Guardian’s part unless there is a mole within Downing Street. The ‘dilemma’ facing Rishi Sunak is as follows. If there is a single damning sentence, then it would have been easy to ask for an immediate resignation. In the absence of this, the Prime Minister will be anxious not to antagonise the right wing of the Tory party or to dispense with the Deputy Prime Minister who has been one of his most vociferous of cheerleaders. On the other hand, he hardly has the option to do nothing given the volume and variety of complaints and his statement when made Prime Minister that he was going to put integrity at the heart of government. I predict a massive fudge is being constructed. I suspect that Sunak will relieve Raab of the Deputy Prime Ministership but not appoint a successor into the role. This might be deemed a ‘punishment’ but Sunak will still keep him in government and even in his present position – until the next reshuffle at least. This ‘fudge’ will serve to keep the disparate parts of the Tory party from fighting each other but the opposition parties will be able to claim, with a degree of justification, that Rishi Sunak is weak, indecisive and a ditherer. Of course all of this is playing out as the local elections on 4th May are looming larger.