Tuesday, 19th April, 2022

[Day 764]

The weather still looked as though it was set fair this morning, but in the event things turned out to be a little cooler. I popped into town by car and also took the opportunity to buy one or two things from Waitrose. Outside the store, I bumped into an acquaintance that we used to meet about once a week in the pre-pandemic days. She has started to frequent the store once again but we have not coincided inside the store. We exchanged news of the health conditions affecting our spouses and managed to offer sympathetic noises to each other as we had experiences in common. Once I got home with the little bits of shopping, Meg and I took the car down to the park and when we made for our usual bench, we were delighted to meet with our University of Birmingham friend who we occasionally meet on a Tuesday. Then we got joined by Seasoned World Traveller and seen got into a debate about the morality and politics behind the policy of resettling asylum seekers to Rwanda. There is quite a difference in language here as the government tend not to refer to asylum seekers but rather ‘illegal immigrants’ There is quite an interesting legal point here as the Government through its ‘Nationality and Borders’ bill is seeing to make it a criminal offence to land on these shores via a dinghy or other ‘unapproved’ route. Technically speaking, an asylum seeker cannot have the epithet ‘illegal’ applied to them but that might change when the bill becomes law. I have got to say that we did not not see eye-to-eye on this, particularly as I expressed the view forcibly (and perhaps a little too forcibly) that the government was anxious to throw ‘red meat’ to some people in the country who feel threatened by immigration and many, if not most, on the Tory back benches. Perhaps the government knows that the policy is impractical and doomed to failure (probably at the hands of judges) but at least they can show that they are fulfilling many of the wishes of the electorate who want the whole problem of immigration just to go away and, if the price for this, is transporting people to a landlocked African country with an appalling humn rights record, then so be it. As an afterthought in all of this, I wonder how many Ukrainians who make it to these shores will be liable to deportation to Rwanda. I somehow feel that myself and Seasoned World Traveller are never capable of reaching even a simple compromise agreeemt on this issue.

After lunch, I went outside to finish off my creation of a new border. I laid down a series of bricks, mostly of the old Victorian variety that seem about two or three times the weight of their modern counterparts (with holes in the middle) These old Victorian bricks, dug up from the garden at regular intervals, are so heavy that they tend to ‘stay put’ which suits my purposes quite well. This afternoon, Meg and I were looking forward, if that is the right term, to seeing Boris Johnson in the House of Commons which is the first opportunity for MPs to question the PM after he had received a Fixed Penalty Notice. The performance was much as you might expect in that a few sentences of contrition gave place to a statement of the ways in the UK was giving aid and succour to the Ukrainians. In fact, moving the topic on to the subject of the Ukraine took up some two thirds of Boris Johnson’s statement to Parliament. Tory MP’s in general took the hint and, they too, all moved on as quickly as possible to praise Boris Johnson’s aid and support to the Ukraine. One did notice, though, that the Tory benches tended to get thinner and thinner as many Tory MP’s just slid away whereas the Labour benches were full of quite predictable but heart-rending stories of how constitutents could not hold the hand of their dying spouse/parents/loved ones whilst in Downing Street they are ‘partying’ . I think it was Joanna Cherry from the SMP and a barrister made the telling point that if Boris Johnson was not lying, why did he not dispute the Fixed Penalty Notice and argue his case in court? The Labour Party did manage to secure an emergency debate on Thursday night (which is the day after ‘Questions to the Prime Minister’ on Wednesdays) to refer the PM’s illegality to the Committee on Privileges. As the debate is going to be ‘whipped’, then the outcome of the debate is unforuntely not in doubt. What might have been interesting, though, is to see how Tory MP’s would vote were it not to be a ‘whipped’ vote. A poll by JLPartners found that just 16 per cent of people would use positive language to describe the prime minister with more than 70 per cent characterising him in negative terms. Voters were asked to describe the prime minister, with the most frequent description being that he is a ‘liar’ – followed by ‘incompetent’ and ‘untrustworthy’.