Thursday, 28th December, 2023

[Day 1382]

Yesterday afternoon, we were happy to entertain our next door neighbours and exchange some stories of our youth. Afterwards, we watched a little bit of TV and then after Meg was in bed, I watched some of the Royal Institution Christmas lectures which are nearly always scientific subjects put into a digestible form so that a young audience can follow the plot. The theme of this years was Artifical Intelligence which I suppose is an issue confronting us all in its many guises- I found last night to be moderately interesting but not enthralling and some treatments, such as the role of AI in Art left me rather cold. Today being a Thursday is normally the day when I get to the supermarket to do some shopping early in the day whilst Meg is still in bed. But today was a slightly different pattern as we did not need a great deal of extra shopping and only needed to do what you might term a ‘half shop’ So I waited until the carer arrived for her stint and it proved to be the Peruvian carer whom we have seen at least once before. As our son had spent a year in Mexico before going to university and Meg and I are moderately good Spanish speakers, we have quite a lot on common. So I shot off to the bigger Aldi in the centre of town and finished off doing an intermediate volume of shopping which took me about half an hour. Then, having arrived home, I cooked the dinner which consisted of jacket potatoes, some beef left over from Christmas day but added to an onion gravy/sauce and some stick beans. We were just about finished the washing up when our chiropodist called around and although she was on our planning board, I had momentarily forgotten just when she was due to arrive. Our feet having been done, my son and his wife arrived as we had planned to have a little Christmas afteroon tea. As with all such family occasions, we just sat around the kitchen table and tucked into some roulade which our family had brought with them. So we ate this up, supplemented by some of the little cakes which we had left over from yesterday’s entertaining of the neighbours and a jolly time was had by all.

There is a lot of speculation today that we could have a general election as early as May. The reason for this speculation is because Jeremy Hunt, the Chancellor of the Exchequeur has announced the government would hold an earlier than anticipated budget, with a date set for 6 March, 2024. The Labour party also seems to be gearing itself up for a general election in May. Asked if the budget date signals an early election, Ms Thornberry said: ‘Yeah, it is the worst kept secret in parliament that we are likely to be heading for a May election and this budget date seems to confirm that’. We know that a general election has to be held by January, 2025 at the very, very latest and the temptation for many governments and Prime Ministers is generally to hold on if at all possible. If it looks as though all of the economic indicators are showing that the economy is scheduled for a downturn, then it might be logical to go for an early general election. The Labour party has been ahead in the polls for a long time now and all of the indicators are that the Conservatives are likely to lose the next election. This being the case, one line of thought is that going for an early general election will minimise the anticipated scale of the losses of seats. An early budget may be able to put some money into the pockets of the electorate and thus encourage the view that the ‘Conservatives are not so bad after all’ But we are constantly being told that economy is about to improve and, of course, a few more months may help the government to pass some more legislation which is ‘voter friendly’ and this might point to a general election in the autumn. Of course, there is a certain amount of gamemanship in all of tbis and it may well be that the Conservatives are trailing the prospects of an earlier general election to see if there degree of ‘bounce’ in the polls in their direction and then to act accordingly.

One way or another, it looks as though we are in for a year of intense political activity on both sides of the Atlantic. On the other side of the Atlantic, Donald Trump seems destined to become the Republican party nominee and could well win an election if his opponent is the aging Joe Biden. But there are storm clouds on the horizon for Donald Trump. There are some reports that he is getting increasingly tetchy and indeed troubled in his recent appearances in the many court cases that are being held over him. The Supreme Court, stuffed full of Trump nominees, may well overturn the ruling in the State of Colorado that Trump be not allowed to stand as a candidate because of his past encouragement for the storming of the Capitol building some two years ago. But will they overturn ruling after ruling as many other states are due to follow the example of the state of Colorado and declare that Trump cannot be a candidate in their state? So it may well be that the US judicial system comes to the rescue of the Democrats by making it impossible for Donald Trump to stand again as a candidate or, at the very least, to lose some of the states he will need to retain.