Reputations and Legacy

Saturday 3rd September

It seems that Politicians are truly out of favour.  I keep getting Facebook posts ridiculing Politicians (in general and in particular) and considering them as liars and charlatans, worse even than Estate Agents (the viciousness is quite alarming).  And I wonder where this hatred has come from?  Was it just the expenses scandal, or is there something deeper going on, a disconnect, a feeling that nobody, but especially Politicians, understands them.  It is certainly true that Politicians seem incapable of improving the lot of most working people, even Labour with the introduction of the Minimum Wage and Working Family Tax credits, failed to really dent poverty; the gap between the haves and have-nots widens year on year.

Mr. Cameron has shuffled off the scene, maybe rather quicker than he had anticipated.  And what will be his legacy?  At first he had achieved the near impossible, to return a Conservative (well, a Coalition – but Tory led) Government after the Blair and Brown years.  And for a while he seemed successful, grand promises to eliminate the deficit and to get the economy going again, all held together by the clever slogan “We are all in it together”.  But it soon became clear that the ‘nasty’ party was as nasty as ever; reducing the higher rate of tax while cutting back on the public sector, a senseless top-down reorganization of the NHS, and tripling of University fees all helped create the impression that Cameron and Osborne (the Eton twins) were only in it for the rich.  Then came the hated Bedroom Tax and in the light of a weak economy which failed to really reduce the deficit even more cuts.

Foreign Policy has been a disaster.  Like Blair before him Cameron turned out to be an adventurer; he supported the overthrow of Gadhaffi in Libya, with (just like Blair) no plans for how to help the country to democracy afterwards – Libya is now in chaos.  He almost took us to war in Syria (and against the wrong enemy too) and of course his European policy has been dreadful.  Maybe inspired by Mrs Thatcher he thought he could bully our European partners and achieved almost nothing.

But he will almost certainly be remembered as the gambler; the man who almost lost Scotland and recklessly promised a referendum he thought he would easily win on Europe.  He rushed the ‘negotiations’ on a reformed Europe and got practically nothing, then too quickly announced the date of the referendum itself.  He then overegged the pudding by shoving project fear down our throats, even resurrecting the possibility of emergency budgets and World Wars; in the end nobody believed him.  And he lost.  His reputation is now in tatters and his Legacy will be forever as the man who took us out of Europe.  But worst of all he has increased that sense of disconnect with the voters, which in the end may have been the main reason people voted to leave Europe.  Let us hope that Mrs May will fare better.

Brexit May Well Actually Mean Brexit

Friday 2nd September

So, we have all underestimated Mrs May.  We should have seen the signs sooner.  Looking back, so much was happening that many of us missed it; the hesitation (and the eventual relief) when she came down on the Remain side.  She was obviously tempted to lead the Leavers, but maybe decided that hedging her bets was the wisest policy.  It looks now as if she was a secret Brexiteer all along.  All of this ‘the will of the people must be obeyed’ is just eyewash; if she (or whoever succeeded Cameron) had wanted to, a fudge could easily have been managed. So, she has set out her stall; or at least put the trestles in place, even if we are not quite sure what she will be trying to sell, both to us and the EU.  The message coming from her office is that controlling Immigration will be her first priority, though they are qualifying that by adding that the best possible deal for Britain’s trade will also be sought.  She has also said that Parliament will not be allowed to vote on triggering Article 50.  I think she might have some difficulty with the second, to say nothing of the first.

Parliament must at least be consulted as leaving the EU is a major treaty change; I cannot see M.P.s, even on the Conservative side, simply accepting the Government’s terms – they may not be able to change them, but will certainly want to have a debate (probably many debates) about it.

As to the discussions with the other 27 countries, if Mrs May really has controlling Immigration as her red line, then she will have a very tough time indeed.  It is even possible that the EU will say “Fine, just go away then.”  And any future trading arrangements will be discussed later.  What will be most important for the EU will be stopping contagion, containing exiteers to just Britain, and confirming solidarity amongst the remaining 27 members. So, the idea that they will bend and break their rules just for us is frankly pie in the sky.  Of course they will want to trade with us, but remember this – even though we import more from the EU than we export, each individual country’s exports to the UK are far less than to the rest of the EU.  If we try to play hardball with them, they may simply draw up the drawbridge and unite against us.  Anyway, I don’t see how we can get free trade with the EU without free movement of people; or Cameron would have got it back in February (I am sure he would have asked for it).

Anyway it is going to be an interesting couple of years…

2066 – And All He Wants To Do Is Sleep

Thursday 1st September

Conversation date 20661201

-[It has been a week Janek.  It seems from the reports that you have been slipping backwards, sleeping longer, and resenting your waking periods.  Is that right?]-

If you say so.  All I know is I need to sleep.  All the time.  I don’t ever want to wake up.

-[Why is that Janek?  Why, do you think that you hate being awake?  What is it about the conscious state that is so unpleasant?]-

Because when I am awake I cannot think straight.  I can’t remember things. You lot have robbed me of the ability to remember anything.  When I am asleep I can remember everything, but as my eyes struggle against the light, as my senses wake they start to fade.  The only way I can hang onto them is by sleeping.  Oh, and that fucking headache is still there.  Thanks for the painkillers Bill – that was kind of you.

-[Which memories Janek?  What is it that you forget when you are awake?  I thought you indicated that all of your pre-conjoining memories were still there, perhaps a bit hazy, but still there.  Or am I mistaken?]-

Always, William.  You have always been mistaken.  HaHaHa.  I mean I can barely remember anything when I am awake.  Especially who I am or where I am.  It is like a glue.  Waking up is like trying to unglue myself.  I am so busy just trying to recognize my hands, my own body, that there is no room for any memories.  Slowly things begin to come back to me, but it seems to be taking longer and longer as the days pass by.  And the longer I am awake the more my head hurts.  So, I want to sleep again.  Because at least when I am asleep I am free.

-[What do you mean by free?  You aren’t a prisoner here.  Although undoubtedly there is no way you could be re-integrated outside of ‘select’.  That goes for most of us now of course; we are far too implicated.  I am concerned about this headache Janek.  I can assure you we are trying every painkiller known to us, short of knocking you out completely.   We have been administering the sort of drugs they used to give to terminal cancer patients before the euthenase programme was sanctioned.  Tell me, if you can, does your head still ache when you are asleep?]-

No, when I am asleep I have no pain at all.  And it is as if everything is reversed.  When I am asleep I can think clearly, I can remember every touch, every smell, everything.  But when I wake it is all fuzzy.  My head is wrapped in a blanket and yet it feels like it is being squeezed in a vice at the same time.  My thoughts are dis-jointed, the same phrases keep repeating themselves.  It is really an effort to concentrate enough to write this down.  And each thought hurts like hell.  That is why I want to sleep.  It is the only time I am not in pain.

-[ I am so sorry Janek.  Truly.  None of us expected this.  Especially that your recovery would fall back like this, and you were doing so well.  What do you suggest?  How would you like us to proceed?  Tell me, and I will see what I can do.  Anything to make you feel better.]-

I’ve already told you William.  I want to sleep, because then I am at rest.  The very act of thinking, or thinking about remembering when I am awake is painful.  Asleep I am at last at peace, with all my little memories around me.  What has happened is obvious, even to stupid me.  The second conjoining has taken away my very self.  It is only when I am asleep that I can find me, myself again.  The conjoining has been a failure I am afraid.  It wasn’t a completely bad idea, but it can’t be done.  Or maybe not with me.  Or with our primitive understanding.  Let the Hypercoms do what they want with my memories, but let me sleep.  Please.  That is all I ask.  Let me sleep.  Don’t ever wake me and I will be happy.