Saturday, 28th November, 2020

[Day 257]

Today was a dull and gloomy day and so it stayed all day. Meg and I went to collect the newspapers in a semi-drizzle but fortunately for us, the rain had just about ceased by the time we came to sit on our park bench and have our customary coffee. As the weather was so inclement, the park was denuded of its usual complement of mothers with young children and dog walkers – however, the joggers did not seem to be deterred and I suppose a modicum of rain might almost be both cooling and refreshing. We met with a friend of a friend and her husband who are evidently keen walkers and were not to be deterred – they had been to Hagley Hall ( a local 18th century stately home in the vicinity) the day before and enjoyed a good walk in the bright sunshine until the fog descended later in the day. This afternoon after our lunch we prepared to watch the England v. Wales rugby match which was broadcast on Amazon Prime. Fortunately for us, the reception as good enough for us to enjoy the match although we got the occasional drop-out and buffering factor (as Amazon Prime is delivered over the internet rather than through the airways as such) The England team powered their way to a place in the finals next week in what was an effective but not particularly pretty match to watch. The Welsh put up stout resistance playing in Llanelli but were eventually overhauled and could not prosper even in their home country. Of course, without a crowd, there is no home encouragement as such. To follow this match, we again tuned into Amazon Prime to watch the France-Italy match. The Italians started well and bravely against the French and even scored the first try but eventually, they were completely overhauled and lost the match by a large margin. In the interval, I amused myself (!) by trying on the four pairs of shirts we have recently acquired from a well-known shirtmaker who has a wonderful range of cotton, non-iron shirts (we don’t believe in ironing in our house!) These all fitted perfectly as we knew they would – we particularly appreciate the little metal stiffeners with which they equip their shirt collars to keep them looking straight and not ‘dog-eared’ looking.

The Tory party seems to be in absolute disarray, not to say open revolt this evening, after the publication of the new ‘Tier’ rules to which we are going to be subject once the lockdown ends on Wednesday next. It seems that the Tory MPs who have constituencies in the South of the country or in areas that are largely rural or where the incidence of the virus appears to be low are in open revolt, including even the Chairman of the 1922 committee (a committee that is supposed to represent the interests of ‘ordinary’ backbenchers – i.e. not on the ministerial payroll) and will they will probably vote against their own government in the vote next Tuesday evening. Boris Johnson appears to be back-peddling for all he is worth with promises to end the new rules early, to promise a review within two weeks and goodness knows what else as he is an absolute panic mode) It is a strange situation to be in where the only real opposition to the government comes from its ‘own’ MPs and not from the opposition parties (e.g. the Labour Party) who have yet to determine whether they are going to support the government or to abstain. If the Opposition were to deploy an interesting strategy, they could always vote with the government to ensure that the ‘Tier’ rules were approved – and then taunt the government by constantly telling Boris Johnson that he can only get his legislation passed because the Labout opposition has come to his assistance. This might drive an absolute wedge in the split between Boris Johnson and the rest of his parliamentary party – and will probably lead to his demise within a matter of months if not weeks. My own personal view is that once Brexit is ‘done’ in some kind of weird way e.g. a ‘deal’ which is so thin that it is actually more like a ‘hard’ or ‘no-deal’ Brexit than anything else and the vaccine appears to be alleviating the worse of the pandemic, then the Tory Party will ditch Boris at the first opportunity and get another leade who might prove to be a more suitable and adept Prime Minister (like Rishi Sunak?) to help to lead them out of the mire. I have just a final thought on this – to the casual observer is does appear that the protesting Tory MPs would not mind seeing the NHS overwhelmed and thousands of people dying so long as their own business interests were satisfied. Michael Gove has apparently been arguing that the NHS will be overwhelmed unless the new ‘Tier’ rules are adopted but large sections of the Tory party either choose not to believe him (‘crying wolf’) or else do not even care (which is probably worse)