Thursday, 16th November, 2023

[Day 1340]

We pop into our usual Thursday routine today as Thursday is our shopping day. I was up reading my emails in the middle of the night and received some rather distressing news about the illness of a wife of one of my Hampshire friends who is currently in hospital. I have offered what advice and support I can but when we live a great distance apart, this is always electronically mediated and a poor substitute for face to face contact. We may Skype each other in a day or so so we can exchange information a little more easily. The shopping went off easily enough and I pop into a local branch of a neighbouring store to purchase a particular variety of wheel cleaning brush but, as so often happens, this design is now discontinued so I have to a make a compromise over what is available. Once I got the shopping home, it was a case of getting Meg up and washed and dressed and the shopping put away before we anticipate a visit from the Eucharistic minister who is calling round from the local church. As she is so musical, we swap some musical stories and. as she plays the cello, I asked her which famous cellist was her favourite. I mentioned the name of Rostropovitch and she had actually gone round to the stage door when he visited Birmingham and had a little chat with him. We were expecting further visit at midday from a team who may be offering both us some practical support after what seems to be weeks of negtiations, financial and otherwise, with Social Services. This organisation was scheduled to call around for a preliminary assessment but we received a telephone call to say they had heavy colds so this particular visit was going to be scrubbed and they were due to call around for their first visit next Tuesday, so that I can (hopefully) go off and recommence my Pilates sessions which have had to be abandoned for the last few weeks. For lunch, we used up a bought chicken pie that we had in stock and just had this with some sugar snap peas as neither of was feeling particularly hungry.

As you might imagine, both the visual and the printed media are full of analysis of two recent political events, the first being the comprehensive rejection of the Government’s Rwanda scheme to deport migrants and the second being a huge rebellion by Labour MPs who descided to vote for a SNP amendment calling for an immediate ceasefire rather than the Labour party’s own motion which called for a exended pause. For many MPs this was evidently a real conscience issue rather than a wholesale rejection of Labour party policy as a whole. All in all, 56 MPs sided with the SNP and I think there were 8 shadow cabinet members who automatically lose their portfolios after ignoring a three line whip. The Rwanda issue is amazing in many ways as the Government, rather than backing down in the face of a comprehensive defeat in the Supreme Court, are determined to press ahead with a new Treaty with Rwanda which ought to be legally binding. The government has indicated that it will legislate to say that Rwanda ‘is a safe country’ which seems to be to be a ridiculous piece of legislation. If the House of Commons were to vote that the moon was made of green cheese, then a vote would not make this so. Also, the Tory party, again appeasing its own Right Wing, is threatening to withdraw from the European Court of Human Rights. But this is a smokescreen as those threateened with deportation to Rwanda (and from there back to the countries from which they fled) are protected by several interntional treaties, the whole body of international law and about four pieces of domestic legislation. The government is making noises about ignoring all of this body of international law but were it to do so, the UK would become a pariah state and our influence and standing in thr world would shrink to zero. Even if legislation is passed in the House of Commons, it is extremely problematic whether the Lords would pass a motion which allowed Britain to break so many international treaties. The normal pattern of ‘ping pong’ between the Lords and the Commons would run out of time in the present Parliament. All of this is even before any flights which would be subject to even more interventions by the High Court, Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court (again). In short, I think there is an incredible amount of bluff and bluster going on but the more sober assessments in the quality press is of the view that further attempts to refine the arrangements with Rwanda would be doomed. For example, in the past the Courts in Rwanda have rejected 100% of all of the applications from Afghans who have come before it, with no legal representations or written court judgements. For this reason, our own Supreme Court are not all convinced that judicial pocesses in Rwanda would reach the standards of probity we have come to expect in the UK and how is the UK government to ensure that the Rwandan court adopt these enhanced standards of probity in the future?

Next week, our University of Birmingham friend is due to make a visit to Coruña in Northern Spain. Meg and I would really loved to have been with him but it would probably have been a step too far with Meg’s frail state of health. Our friend is going to meet up with our long standing and oldest friends in La Coruna and no doubt can give bring our friends up-to-date about the situation here at home.