Friday, 30th October, 2020

[Day 228]

Today turned out to be an unseasonably mild day – the leaves were swirling around us in a wind that was not the bitter, biting kind you normally get in the autumn and winter but rather a mild and gentle kind. Having collected our newspapers (the very last ‘Times‘ in the shop!) we met with one of ‘park’ friends who we have not seen for a few days. She is a wheelchair user and comes to the park most days so we congratulated each other on keeping going to get our fresh air and exercise even while the intensity of COVID-19 seems to be increasing. On our way up the hill, we encountered our Italian friend who we have not seen for several days and we exchanged some very pleasant minutes together talking about families amongst other things. We made a general arrangement to meet over Christmas in one or other of our houses for a Christmas mince pie and sherry – although that is some way off, it’s nice to know that in the very truncated Christmas that faces us, we still have a circle of friends with whom we can commune. This lunchtime, we treated ourselves to one of my traditional curries (which I share with our domestic help) and now that I have discovered the joys of packets of cauliflower rice, I can eat my traditional curry without fear of sending my carbohydrate balance into overdrive.

Last night, we discovered rather late on that Oxford City is being ‘promoted’ to Tier 2 which puts into jeopardy our lunchtime date with friends tomorrow, where we were going to visit one of the of the Oxford museums before repairing to a meal. So, instead, after some emails and telephone calls, we went onto ‘Plan B’. Now we are going to eat in a Turkish restaurant in Bicester which has an excellent local reputation. The location is approximately equidistant between the two of us and it is quite easy to access from the motorway (and parking can be found quite easily) so we have rescued something from the lockdown restrictions, whilst keeping within the law. To be honest, Oxford was one of the last places I expected to be moved up a Tier and I wonder whether the great influx of students into the University (24,000 converging on the city) a few weeks ago has anything to do with the sudden increase in the COVID-19 infection rate. This seems more likely as I have seen a report that the COVID-19 infection rates in university cities such as Sheffield, Manchester and Birmingham are up to SEVEN times greater than in the surrounding areas.

As the USA election approaches, the issue of ‘voter suppression’ is rearing its ugly head. Let us imagine that you are a staunch, and very committed Republican voter, who has followed the polling news given in various websites – you will be aware that Trump has trailed Biden by every poll since last January and the latest ‘poll of polls’ puts Biden at 52% and Trump at 43% – a 9% gap. As you know that approx. 50% of the electorate has already voted, then to reverse this pattern you would need a Trump polling figure of 52% (and Biden at 43%) within the next few days. To put on an increase of 9% in your share of the vote in the last 4 days would seem to be almost completely impossible, given you had been behind in the polls for the last nine months! So what to do? The only viable strategy is to get as many who think like you to come out to vote in person next Tuesday and do whatever you can to deter Biden supporters (more likely than not to be black voters) from voting. This can be achieved in a variety of ways. One is to get every retired policeman you know to turn up with preferably (large) weapons to march up and down the voting lines so as to act as ‘eyes and ears’ for the Republicans. Another technique is to rely upon your legislators in your local City hall to restrict the number of ballot boxes in your local area. So, far example, the Texas (Republican) governor has limited drop boxes to one per county. In Harris county, Texas, home to Houston, that’s one box for 4.7 million people. To round off, this merry section of news, the channel MSNBC (one of the liberal Main Street Media) has assembled a series of clips, including one from Trump himself, arguing that if the size of the electorate increases, the Republicans are always going to lose – and therefore, to ‘win’ you have to suppress the anti-Trump vote as much as you can relying upon the various courts (and the Supreme Court) to back up the decision. This is going to play out in the USA increasingly over the next few days. Watch this space!