Friday, 10th November, 2023

[Day 1334]

For whatever reason, Meg and I awoke quite early this morning and consequently got ourselves up and ready for breakfast way before the time that our domestic help arrives at about 8.30am. When she did arrive, she was evidently streaming with a cold – not unusual for this time of year – and evidently feeling somewhat below par. We started off the morning with a cup of tea and we always have a supply of Flu and Cold Relief sachets available to her to take during the day if she felt in need of such things. But, as she was working in the house and we were showing her various things, her cold symptons subsided somewhat. we knew that some time after 11.00am, the Eucharistic minister was due to pay her what is now becoming a weekly visit. We were very pleased to see her and we swopped some stories before engaging in our mini-service. After the departure of our friend from church, we received a phone call from our University of Birmingham friend and we agreed that we would meet for lunch in a little family restaurant attached to an old fashioned butchers in one of the neighbouring suburbs. We had not eaten there for a year or so, the pandemic of course having got in the way of so many of our erstwhile habits. There is some limited parking but I needed to approach this very tentatively because I am still on a learning curve manoeuvring the new car in a space which is any way challenged. I had a wonderful meal of lamb which was very succulent but Meg’s choice of a pork loin seemed a little disappointing. Nonetheless, the overall eating experience was a good one and we enjoy the somewhat folksy atmosphere within the restaurant. We assumed that the establishment would be teeming as it was a Friday lunchtime and consequently made a prior reservation but we need not have bothered as the eating place was only about a third full.

We had a quiet afternoon, as we normally do these days having had a fairly busy morning with our normal diet of some news and some comedy. But this is the day before what might be quite a fateful weekend, politically, as tomorrow is Remembrance day itself and the following day is Sunday. The media are referring to the Remembrance weekend and the Metropolitan police are drafting in a lot of extra support from neighbouring forces, hoping that none of the planned demonstrations get out of hand. The nub of the problem is not the fault of the main body of demonstrators themselves as there is some degree of cooperation between organisers and the police. But the problem is always the various fringe groups and counter demonstrations that are liable to break away from the main body of the marchers and the agreed route and the police may have to use a great deal of policing intelligence to make sure that things do not get out of hand. The Home Secretary on the advice of the Met can actually ban a march or demonstration such as this but given the enormity this curtailment of civil liberties, the chief of the Met has to be satisfied that a high threshold of conditions have to be met (eg a very high probability of serious trouble) before the profoundly anti-democratic banning of a march is carried out.

The Suella Braverman saga rumbles on and it does appear that there is a lot of discontent bubbling away below the surface in the Tory party. Ministers are privately saying that she is ‘toast’ whereas other right wingers (Anne Widdicomne being the latest) are putting forth that Suella Braverman is only uttering what many people feel but cannot (or dare not) say. Putting myself in the position of the Prime Minister, I think that the following strategy could be followed. Braverman could be informed that she has on the equivalent of a ‘final written warning’ and any further transgression or utterance not completely in line with current government policy will be met with instant dismissal before her feet have had the chance to touch the floor. This way, if Braverman holds her tongue, then Rishi Sunak can keep her relatively quiescent for the remainder of this Parliament and simultaneously assuage the right wingers. On the other hand, if she keeps trying to court the right wing MPs with utterances that are beyond the pale, then she has been warned and can be sacked on the spot without further ado.

I have just a final thought about the Remembrance Day celebrations to be held this weekend. Designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, the Cenotaph is a work of great geometrical purity and sophistication. Its simplicity and austerity give it a universal quality, memorialising soldiers of all races and religions. At the time, there was a great call for it to be decorated with all kinds of religious, and specifically Christain, symbolism but Lutyens ‘universalist and inclusive’ design principle held sway and that is why the Cenotaph has the appearance that it has today. By way of contrast, a recently erected war memorial in a central park in Bromsgrove is a tasteful and vaguely Celtic looking cross but the feelings of other religious beliefs and persuasions was probably not even thought about at the time the memorial was commissioned. I wonder how Muslims and Jews ex-servicemen feel when that attend ceremonies with this cross as its centrepiece?