Friday, 5th August, 2022

[Day 872]

Meg and I were a little tired today after our very enjoyable day out in Oxford yesterday. Fortunately, the roads were not too busy and we made good time both on the journey out and back again. This morning, though, we decided to go down to town by car where we collected our newspaper and then, as it was not getting a little late, we went to the park where we met up with two of our regular park friends that we tend to always meet at the weekends. Today, Seasoned World Traveller and I spent some time discussing the rank folly (in our joint view) of Nancy Pelosi, the veteran Democratic Speaker of the House of Representatives in the United States making a visit to Taiwan which could only inflame world tensions with China. The Chinese have reacted immediately and strongly to what is perceived as the ‘understanding’ between China and the USA (‘constructive ambiguity’) being breached. The latest move today is that China is withdrawing cooperation with the United States over climate change policies and the cack-handed move by Pelosi may well means that the Chinese and Russian leaders now make common cause with each other. In short, we looks as though we are all going to be losers and the world is now a less secure place. After we had had our coffee and a chat, Meg and I made a visit to our local Morrisons. This is because parking is easy and we needed an item from the pharmacy so it is likely to be cheaper and less bother than going into town. In the supermarket, we also picked up some icecream that we always need in this type of weather, some alcohol free beer (ditto) as well as our pharmacy item. Then it was home to have a lunch of smoked hake that we often enjoy on a Friday. The weather was set fair this afternoon and although the lawns had hardly grown in the recent hot wather, they were a little wispy and untidy. So I got them cut using the last bit of petrol that I had in store – the petrol mower only takes two gallons a season so I must remind myself to get some more before next week.

Last night, Meg and I watched the Sky News debate between Lizz Truss and Rishi Sunak on Sky News. They had an interesting format in that the audience consisted of uncommitted Tory party members. Each candidate had to field questions from the audience for 30 minutes and then Kate Burley fired a series of penetrating questions at each of the candidates. For me the best moment of the night came when Kate Burley put a series of about 5-6 things on which Liz Truss had apparently changed her mind, some historic and some recent, and then asked ‘Could the real Liz Truss stand up?’ She had no real answer to the inconsistencies and resorted to formulas such as the policy to reduce the pay of civil servants in the regions was ‘misinterpreted’ but she could not say by whom. Rishi Sunak came over as sharp, on the ball and pretty dynamic although some of his detractors would say that he was ‘too slick’. The audience had been equipped with the technology that has been around for years where they press either a ‘1’ or ‘ ‘2’ on their device and the results are collated and immediately shown on a large screen. (I used something similar in my last days of lecturing and that was 15 years ago) But when the results were due to be shown, the technology had ‘crashed’ although I do smell a rat here. So Kate Burley asked for a show of hands and my impression was that Liz Truss got about 20% of the audience vote, Rishi Dunal about 60%. Certainly there was a clear and uneqivocal winner. As this was not the result that the presenters had been expecting, I wonder whether the software crash was actual or diplomatic but the show of hands was quite decisive. I doubt that this will cut much ice with overall Tory party electorate who are giving Liz Truss a 30 point lead as the the Boris Johnson-lite candidate. There is a story hat Boris Johnson would probably win the vote if it were left to voters in the constituencies. I am reminded of the classic American debates between John Kennedy and Richard Nixon. This was not decided on policies but on candidate ‘appeal’. Richard Nixon needed to shave twice a day but did not and acquired a 5 o’clock shadow which gave him a slightly shifty appearance, The Democrats exploited this tremendously with the attack line ‘Would you buy a used car from this man?’ Richard Nixon carried the soubriquet of ‘tricky Dicky’ thereafter and of course, he lost this election to Kennedy (although he won on subsequent occasions)