Saturday, 6th November, 2021

[Day 600]

I suppose we ought to celebrate the 600th edition of this blog but I am not sure how – so we shall just progress as normal. Today, we woke up to the fact that the high pressure weather system we have known for the last few days is gradually giving way to a low pressure system, characterised by some scudding clouds (but no actual rain) and quite a sharp wind that brought a degree of wind chill with it. On our way down the hill, we bumped into our Irish friends and exchanged some gossip about what is happening in our local church as well as our normal chit-chat. Naturally, we had a chat about the ‘goings on’ in Parliament and how long ‘King Boris’ could survive all of the scandals which appear to engulf him. Donald Trump and Silvio Berlusconi seemed to thrive on lurid sex lives which didn’t appear to do them any harm so we concluded that in our working lives, we must have been in the wrong job. In the park, we met up with our intrepid octogenarian hiker which is nearly a daily occurrence by now. We wished him well, ate up our comestibles and set off for home in a little pale sunshine but no wind.

After lunch, I needed to make a lightning visit into town to get some money out of an ATM and to do my rounds of shops selling toiletries and cleaning materials not to mention Poundland for other bits and bobs. The whole of this took an hour of the afternoon and then it was a case of a quiet cup of tea before we started to get venture for our weekly visit to church. In place of a sermon, we had information from our stand-in priest that although he had been scheduled to leave us shortly, he had been ‘persuaded’ to stay with us until immediately after Christmas after which time he would return to his parish of origin. Whether a replacement priest can be found to take over our parish from 2nd January onwards is an open question (and I am not particularly hopeful as the number of priests in the UK as a whole has been dropping like a stone)

Tonight, our University of Birmingham friend who was off spectating at a rugby match today had texted me the channel numbers upon which, in theory, I might be able to see highlights of the England vs. Tonga rugby match, played earlier on today. I somehow feel that I am not going to be successful finding this channel as I am sure I will have run across it by now but we can but see.

Sir John Major, the ex Conservative Prime Minister, has made a most vituperative attack upon Boris Johnson and his government. Sir John had his own problems of Tory sleaze with ‘cash for questions’ during the period of his premiership but he reminded us that he set up the Committee on Standards of Public Life – the Nolan Committee – to cope with the aftermath of Tory sleaze. Sir John Major said parliament’s reputation had also been damaged by the affair, adding: ‘Many Conservative MPs – who are clearly in their own minds unhappy about what they’ve been asked to do – were forced and in some cases put under real bullying pressure to vote for the amendment and to vote not to proceed with the suspension of Owen Paterson. So people are bound to wonder: can we trust them or can they be put under pressure to do things that they know are wrong?‘ Of course, what is always interesting about these type of scandals is the reaction of the (generally Conservative supporting) Sunday newspapers. It looks as though the reaction of the daily newspapers in the last week, including the normally loyal Daily Mail might have had quite an impact. One former minister told the Daily Mail that Mr Spencer had not done his job properly. ‘If the PM was told about the extent of dissatisfaction then he wouldn’t have pushed it,’ they said. ‘You could tell there was a problem because the whips were literally running around the Commons.‘ Another Conservative MP said Mr Spencer is a ‘very nice guy’ but ‘out of his depth …The Cabinet is full of nodding yes men. I had two marginal male MPs from Red Wall seats in tears looking at their social media feed, looking at their emails coming in after the vote, going ‘what the hell have we done?‘

There have been massive street protests today (Saturday) in Glasgow as the demonstrators are tring to impress upon the conference organisers the strength of feeling felt by many young people. The organisers claim that 100,000 demonstrators were out on the streets today – but the police (untypical) did not put their own estimate on the size of the crowd. Typically, organisers ‘talk up’ the number of demonstrators whereas the police have their own motives in underestimating the actual crowd size. It is somewhat difficult to ascetain where the truth lies in these circumstances.