The British Bernie

For anyone from the US not all that familiar with UK politics I thought I’d have a go at an explainer.

Our “Democrats” (Labour, the more progressive of the two mainstream parties) have elected our “Bernie Sanders” (Jeremy Corbyn, old white male from the left wing of the party, very popular with the young) to lead them. He “won the nomination” last year after another defeat for the party at the national election.

A number of our leading lights within Labour’s “Congress” (members of Parliament and the Shadow Cabinet), have decided to withdraw support from Corbyn because he’s considered likely to lose the next national election, which is due in four years’ time, although it may happen sooner.

They have chosen to do this at a time when our “Republicans” (the Conservative party) are in disarray, and the country is in chaos following the vote to leave the EU.

If he leaves, he can be replaced by our version of “Hillary Clinton”, a vastly experienced political operator, also popular within the party, a pragmatic politician whom everyone believes has what it takes to defeat the Conservatives at the next election.

And our version of Hillary is…?

Well, that’s where the analogy breaks down a bit, unfortunately.

Reasons to be cheerful #1

Although much derided (correctly as it turns out) by the Remain campaign, the promise (or “aspiration”) of an additional £350m per week for the NHS obviously struck a chord with a large number of voters, some of whom will have seen the split-screen Leave political video comparing the hospital experience inside and outside the EU.

So despite the endless propaganda prior to the EU referendum campaign, trying to paint junior doctors as greedy, or nurses as uncaring, or more particularly that the “bureaucracy” was full of waste, people understand at the deepest level that what the NHS needs and deserves is substantial financial investment. We’ve even got a ballpark figure for what’s required!

Boris and Article 50

For some reason the current situation with Article 50 put me in mind of this extract from Alice Through the Looking-Glass:

“‘Now the cleverest thing of the sort that I ever did,’ he went on after a pause, ‘was inventing a new pudding during the meatcourse.’

‘In time to have it cooked for the next course?’ said Alice. ‘Well, not the next course,’ the Knight said in a slow thoughtful tone: ‘no, certainly not the next course.’

‘Then it would have to be the next day. I suppose you wouldn’t have two pudding-courses in one dinner?’

‘Well, not the next day,’ the Knight repeated as before: ‘not the next day. In fact,’ he went on, holding his head down, and his voice getting lower and lower, ‘I don’t believe that pudding ever was cooked! In fact, I don’t believe that pudding ever will be cooked! And yet it was a very clever pudding to invent.'”

Petition politics

Desperate times call for desperate measures, I suppose, but there’s a curious irony in the fact that those sharing and supporting the petition for a second referendum on EU membership (millions of signatures already) seem to be the same people who were previously adamant (rightly, in my view) that a referendum was not the way to decide this issue.

Brexit

Desperately upset and disappointed by today’s result.

Partly because it seems obviously the wrong decision on any measure, but also because of what it says about the people who voted to Leave. I’m sure some voted from principle, and others out of racism and spite, but the majority of this majority seems to be drawn from people who feel they had nothing left to lose.

I fear that they are going to discover that they were wrong about that, and I take no pleasure from it whatsoever.

Did Google really need to kill RSS alerts?

I never used Google Reader, I didn’t like the interface. I always used Netvibes for my feeds, still do. One of the things that I liked to use it for was to set up alerts for phrases that interested me, create a Google alert and plug the RSS feed into the page. I could easily get 9-12 feeds on a page, enough to cover a theme.

Some of theme I’d check daily; others less often. It was very handy.

Now all the feeds are dead. I won’t be setting up email alerts to replace them, I don’t need this information pushed to me and I don’t want to fill up my inbox.

I understand the corporate need to kill off products, but if Google Alerts are being kept alive, what’s the point of handicapping them by removing this option?

It just feels a bit spiteful.

Airport security

On a recent short trip I travelled “hand baggage only”. I threw in my travel washbag without even thinking about the contents, as it would have had what it had in for the last trip. However, it usually goes into the checked baggage.

As I stood beltless and shoeless waiting for my rucksack to come through the X-ray machine, I felt a sudden icy chill at the realisation that I had a pair of scissors in the bag. Full-size, not nail scissors, and with a sharp 4-5 inch blade. Don’t ask me why they live in the washbag; I have no use for them.

The bag was pulled to one side and a very stern man asked me if he could search it. Really he was telling me that he was going to search it. He pulled out the washbag, and undid the clip. The scissors were in a closed section inside. In another section with a clear plastic screen was a jar of hairstyling wax (almost as redundant as the scissors in my case).

He jabbed a finger at the offensive container and looked me in the eye.

“What’s this? Hair wax?”

I nodded.

“That’s why you’ve been stopped today. Any liquid, gel or wax should go into the clear plastic bag.”

“I’m terribly sorry.”

He shook his head wearily and folded up the washbag, returning it to me with the other contents for me to repack.

So, less embarrassing than it might have been. However, it’s hard to see the point of the endless queues etc given that (a) undeclared liquids and gels are not even examined and (b) the X-ray machine can’t even spot a pair of scissors.

This was on the way back, too, so they’d missed both of them on the way out…