100 Days

Sunday th April

It is now one hundred days since that fateful election day in America, when despite getting three million less votes than Hilary Clinton, America elected Donald Trump as President.  I have yet to meet a single person who either likes or is not scared of what the next four, and if the horror show continues, eight years will bring.  Trump is a larger than life caricature of all that is awful about America; their ridiculous nationalism, their belief that they are better and bigger than every other country; their poor grasp of the rest of the World…etc.  And the Donald has not failed to live up to our fears.

It has been a whirlwind of a hundred days, with executive orders raining down like confetti, and controversies leapfrogging each other.  This is a president like no other, and at the time we thought Reagan and Bush were bad.  For a supposedly educated and intelligent man he seems to be blundering his way into the job, rushing through policies and ideas and branding any opposition to Trump as somehow un-American.

But despite some opposition he has still done a lot of damage, to the environment, to women and if he has his way to the disparity between rich and poor which he will widen even further.  But what we are all more fearful of is his irrational and bad-tempered foreign policy; he seems like some mad gunner switching his sights with each broadside and seeing enemies everywhere; Assad, Iran and now North Korea.

But the most damage he has done sadly seems to be to the very idea of America itself.  Obama had restored dignity to America after the Bush disaster of Iraq.  He was respected and admired by the rest of the World, and he showed us a more rational side of America.  Trump is making America look like a circus, with him a sinister clown, stomping around the ring, tripping over occasionally but mouthing awful threats and tweeting recklessly.

So what can we expect in the next hundred days.  The pace of his actions does seem to have slowed a bit lately, but there is no real sign that he is learning how Government actually works.  We will just have to wait and see.  But it is also a warning for us in Britain of how a ‘leader’ can react when they think they have an absolute mandate from the public.  Mrs. May may well be watching and learning.

T – is for 10CC

Friday 28th April

Never the most fashionable of bands, at least not with the music press, but 10CC were never merely a pop-group.  Formed in the early Seventies as so many great bands were they were almost unique in having four brilliant songwriters.  Graham Gouldman had been writing ‘pop’ songs since his teens, many for The Hollies, Eric Stewart was an accomplished guitarist, and Kevin Godly and Lol Crème weren’t really musicians at first, but Art-school all-rounders.  The band were almost immediately successful with their first few singles, “Rubber Bullets”, “Donna” and my favourite “The Dean and I”.

They had hit after hit, but no two were anything like each other. ‘Art for Art’s Sake’, ‘Im Mandy, Fly Me’ and ‘Life Is A Minestrone’.  And their albums were full of varied tracks, often quite tongue in cheek, poking fun at the music business.  I always liked them; along with bands like ELO they were both Pop and Rock.  In many ways they were carrying on from The Beatles, who while breaking new ground always had an eye on the charts.  The band possibly reached their zenith with “I’m Not In Love”, where along with a clever lyric they harmonized the whole song and replaced instruments with vocal samples.  For a few years this song was voted favourite song on a couple of BBC programmes.

The band split after a few albums, Godley and Crème going off to make their own records and eventually becoming Video directors.  Gouldman and Stewart carried on as 10CC for a few years but eventually called it a day too.  But the band barely put a foot wrong in almost a decade, and there are hardly any poor songs on their records.

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor the band 10cc


Thursday 27th April

Phil was quite worried about the girls sometimes, but then the times were changing so fast.  In his day he never really went out in the evenings at all; well not while he was still at school.  There had been a couple of church run youth clubs, but he had no close friends to go with.  He used to sit in his room reading detective stories mostly, he loved Agatha Christie and then got into Simenon, and all those Maigret stories.  He wouldn’t have dreamed of going into a pub, especially on his own.  He supposed he must have been a bit of a swat, but actually he was just a bit scared, lacking in enough self-confidence to get into any sort of trouble.  Not that that was any sort of a problem for the girls, especially Harriet, she was so sure of herself everyone just assumed she must be older than her years.

Phil knew that a few people were amazed when he said that she was only sixteen.  The thing about Harriet was that she was everything Phil had never been, good looking, clever, confidant and great company, and Phil just let her live her life; live her youth for him in a way too.  He was determined not to be the repressive father his had been to him, and maybe in this rebelling against the way he was brought up he gave her a bit too much freedom.  But with Harriet he knew if he had tried to be stricter she would have just laughed in his face.  She knew she could win any argument with him with a smile anyway.  So all in all he probably did indulge her a bit too much.  So much about his own life was unsatisfactory, he was drowning in debt, and doing ever more stupid deals to try and rescue the situation that he sometimes felt that Harriet, and Jane too of course, were the only rays of sunshine on a cloudy day.

*  * *

But through it all, like a vein of metal ore through stone was the Music, the Music called and the girls followed; parties was where they heard new Music, new Albums that they hadn’t heard of, ‘B’ sides of the hits they heard on the radio and people who had never been on the radio, and never would be.   Harriet was so precocious that she was simply accepted by people, even in their early twenties – when it was almost universal for teenagers to be ignored by grown-ups.

Harriet’s sparkling personality got them accepted everywhere and they really grew up and appeared far older than their years.  They hung out with a really with-it crowd, well what passed for with-it in Suffolk; they all had money, or came from families with money, but in a rebellious way were really open and accepting of everyone.  After all the Music had come from the disadvantaged and working classes not the idle rich.  So while happy to spend their parent’s money like water, and always expecting it to be there for them, they were perfectly happy to talk about Socialism, and the coming revolution.

*  * *

Harriet thought there was a lot of nonsense talked about politics and social change, all that Harold Wilson stuff, but she supposed there had to be a sop to the poor people, to keep them happy.  But their lives were far better than their parents could ever have hoped for, they had television and package holidays to Spain were becoming affordable for factory workers now, so all in all they couldn’t really complain.  Unlike Jane, she just knew that money would always win out, and talk about Socialism and rebellion all you like but those with money and power will never give it up without a fight.  Harriet said that ‘you only had to look at these flabby middle aged Labour politicians to know they would never have the guts to really change anything.  No, money was where it was at, it always had been and it always would be.’

*  * *

At last after nearly a year Ted and June snatched a moment together.  She had been going frantic, and at last cornered him.   She drove up Spikes lane, almost up to Turner’s farm and parked the Morris by the side of the road and went looking for him.  God knows what story she would have come up with if she had met anyone else.  She crept cautiously into the farmyard and started looking in the barns and cowsheds, and then she saw him, pitchfork in hand, shoveling stinky straw into a wheelbarrow.  In the half-light and the air all full of motes of straw and flies she watched him, bent over and shoving the fork hard into the compacted straw, heaving it up, his muscles swelling with the weight, and then with a slight shake of his wrists sliding it off the tines of the fork and into the wheelbarrow.  She waited until the barrow was full and as he grabbed the handles to take it outside she quietly walked over and tapped him on the shoulder.  He spun round looking quite scared, then dropped the handles of the barrow which made a heavy clunking noise as it toppled over spilling straw and shit over the barn floor.

‘My God Julie, what are you doing here?  You scared me half to death, creeping up on me like that.’   He said, grabbing her by the shoulders, and giving her a little shake.  Oh, to feel his hands on her again was wonderful.

‘I just had to see you Ted, don’t be angry with me, please.  I just wanted to see you, it’s been so long since you last saw me, I thought you didn’t want to see me again.’ Her eyes, filling with tears, tears of happiness maybe but they were desperately seeking an answer, trying to find out if he still wanted her, if he still needed her.

He slowly relaxed his grip, ‘No love, it was never that, it’s been difficult that’s all, what with Julie all moody like.’ He shook his head, pulled out a large white hanky and said, ‘Now, dry those tears there’s a love and don’t be make a scene out of it.’  And he still had his large hands on her shoulders,  but rubbing them now, stroking them, petting her and she was sobbing, sobbing tears of relief, both at seeing him and being held and oh, just for the bloody stupidity of it all,

‘Oh Ted, if you only knew how I’ve been going out of my mind, I thought you didn’t care anymore.’  She blurted out, smothering her tear-welling eyes in his big hanky.

‘Now now June, you knows’ I care, don’t you.  I was thinking myself it’s been a long time and we should see each other again soon.’

And he calmed her down and she collected herself and they sat on a bale of straw and kissed a couple of times and talked.  He said he would make sure he saw her again soon, next month, before the school holidays began, and that was a promise.   She realized she had made a bit of a fool of herself, and returned a bit shamefaced to her car and drove quietly back with the promise of Ted’s next visit to console myself.  But somewhere in the back of her mind was the niggling doubt that if she hadn’t confronted him things would have just carried on with no resolution.

The World Goes On

Wednesday 26th April

No matter what madness we see, or perceive, around us – the World goes on.  When one considers what our parents, born during the War, went through, or even more alarming our grandparents – two World Wars, mass unemployment, Jarrow marches and many of them lived in what we would now consider slums – maybe we have had it easy.

I was a baby-boomer, born in 1951.  Rationing would soon end, and by the age of 9 the Sixties would start, though what we term ‘the Sixties’ didn’t really happen for a couple more years.  I, to everyone’s surprise passed my 11-plus and went to grammar School.  It was almost a brand new school, with brilliant facilities and in retrospect I had an excellent education.  But this is one of the big problems with our generation, we had no idea that we were so lucky.  And then there was all the fabulous music of the Sixties and Seventies, a cornucopia of talent constantly outpouring – and again we thought it would simply carry on.  Well it did, but not quite to our taste.  And all of us baby-boomers agree that it was the best of times.

But coupled with this was an ever-improving standard of living.  We started off renting, and it wasn’t too expensive.  A man’s wages could support a wife and children, and women were beginning to earn more too.  But again we never really appreciated it at the time.  And all through the Eighties and Nineties life for most of us improved.  And now we are retired, most of us with decent pensions – something our Grandparents would never have dreamed of.

And we read the news – Brexit, Trump and now the imminent return of Thatcherism, and we are worried.  But the World goes on, oblivious to our concerns – as it will for many more millennia.  And whatever the failures of our Politicians or the result of our collective greed which may come in the future the World will still go on.  And one day we will be History and students will be amazed, just as we are when looking back to 1914 or 1938, at how stupid we could have been.  It may be of little comfort but even when humans are as extinct as the dinosaurs the World will go on without us.

First You Have To Get Elected

Tuesday 25th April

The bitter truth – in order to change the country, first you must win an election.  Or have a bloody revolution of course, but with the lethargic English I see no signs of that happening, soon – if ever.  And you have to win an election with the wretched system in place at present, first past the post, where in many constituencies M.P.s are elected with less than 30% of the votes cast.  Given the poor turnout too, this is often less than one in five of people actually entitled to vote!!!

This was the bitter truth learnt by Blair and Brown over twenty years ago now.  They perceived that it was no good going to the electorate with a truly Socialist agenda; people had been too conditioned by the Tories and the Media.  They had to persuade people to trust them, that they were competent, that the time was ready to make a change.  Of course, there was so much more they could have done after they were elected, but they did swing the pendulum back a little.  They were always conscious of the need to get re-elected and therefore proceeded slowly.  Though they did spend a lot more money on Schools and the NHS and introduced a minimum wage and family tax credits.

I think it was Hobsbawn who used the argument that any Labour Government lucky enough to get elected should expect to be rejected at the following election, but should make such important changes that it might take the Tories twenty years to roll them back.  Whether that is good advice or not it still relies on getting elected in the first place.

And so to the present election.  I have read a lot of posts saying either that Labour will win, or that Mrs. May will not get the huge majority she wants.  Who knows, we can hope at least.  But my experience is that actually the polls do not change that much during the actual election campaign, and that is anything (1992 with Kinnock) the Tory vote is higher than anyone expected come the actual election.

Until Labour presents itself as ‘electable’, however you define that, it will not win.  It matters little what the policies are, if the party is seen as ‘unelectable’ or ‘divided’ they rarely can win.  Amazing how quickly the Tories have coalesced around Brexit, foregoing their previous beliefs so easily, but maybe they have always been a bunch of carpetbaggers who will say anything to cling to power.

The bitter truth for Labour is that first you have to get elected…

Round One – Commonsense 1 – Lunacy 0

Monday 24th April

The French Presidential Election is in two rounds, unless very exceptionally one candidate wins 50% of the vote, and considering that there were 11 candidates on the ballot paper, that would be very unusual.  But nevertheless a Political Revolution has occurred.  The two main parties which have ruled France for over 50 years, in fact since the creation by General de Gaulle of the Fifth Republic, are not in the run-off, round two will be fought by Marine Le Pen of the Front National and Emmanuel Macron of ‘En Marche’, not even a political party but a Centrist movement created only a year ago.

Thank Goodness that, although quite close there was not a choice between Le Pen and either Fillon, a very Conservative almost Thatcherite, or Melenchon, a Socialist of the Hard left, in fact far more left-wing than even Labour is now back in the U.K.  Either may have handed eventual victory to Le pen.  And despite predictions that Le Pen would ride the crest of the Populist wave which brought us Brexit and Trump, she has fallen far short of most people’s expectations.  In fact she needed to be seen as a winner, and a good winner, getting around 35% to make that leap forward to win the second round.  She actually got around 22% and came second to another but quite different Populist, Macron.

Macron in fact represents what an awful lot of people have been asking for for years, a leader who will try to run the country with the best from both Left and Right.  Part of the problem all around the Western World had been party politics; too many good people have fallen foul of the Leaders of parties, which have maybe changed course or fallen victim to factional fighting.  What Macron has shown is that it is possible to win without the backing of an established party.  Maybe we are seeing the re-alignment of old politics, no longer will people vote for a party just because they always have; maybe we will see the emergence of far more independently-minded individuals.  Who knows, it is all to play for.

And already the defeated Socialist and Repulicans have endorsed Macrom against Le Pen, whose dog-whistle patriotism is actually even more racist than UKIP was in England.  Bring on round 2…

I Love My Dog

Sunday 23rd April

Cat Stevens had a string of hits in the late Sixties, before he decided to become a real Singer-Songwriter instead of just a Pop-Star.  One of these was ‘I love my dog’.  A strange little song, but catchy and with an undeniable sentiment.

This is a difficult post.  I love my dog.  Little Polly was the most affectionate dog I have ever known.  She loved to kiss everyone she met, especially small children.  She was so tolerant she would let them drag her on a lead everywhere without complaint, and roll on her back for her tummy to be stroked at every opportunity.  She was always glad to see me, even when I was in a bad mood; she was there to cheer me up.  She loved her food, especially chicken or turkey freshly cooked.  She would sit waiting as I carved it and removed the bones, waiting for me to throw her the occasional scrap of skin her way.  She slept on my bed every night, and the few days in England without her I would sometimes reach out for her in the night.  She snored incredibly loudly but somehow this helped me to sleep, and maybe disguised my own snores.  She was only eight when she became ill a few days ago; a mild infection the vet said.  We gave her the anti-biotics and she seemed to recover.  Only to relapse a couple of days ago.  She died as we held her waiting at the Vets.  Her little heart gave out.  So, bye-bye Polly.  We will miss you, and yes ‘we loved our dog.’

Other dogs may come and go, but Polly was special.


S – is for Sutherland Brothers

Saturday 22nd April

Iain and Gavin Sutherland hailed, like so many great musicians, from Scotland – Aberdeenshire to be precise.  They released their first album in 1972, the eponymously named ‘The Sutherland Brothers Band’ where the brothers were joined by a few session players who promptly stayed in the studio.  It was a great start, because as well as being excellent musicians they were brilliant songwriters.  They followed this with an album simply credited to the brothers.  This was called Lifeboat and featured a song ‘Sailing’, later covered by Rod Stewart, giving him his biggest hit.  But the album was full of brilliant songs ‘Lady like you’ and my favourite ‘Real Love’, with keyboards by Muff Winwood.  This song is one of my very favourite songs ever, the piano is jazzy and the tune goes all over the place but keeps swirling back with organ to the chorus.

The boys then joined forces with another band on Island Records who were struggling – ‘Quiver’.   And as The Sutherland Brothers and Quiver they released a handful of records, although the new band changed players with almost every record.  The consistent element however were the Brothers Sutherland and their great songs.  They had a huge hit with ‘Arms of Mary’ in 1976, but by 1979 the remnants of Quiver left and it was just the brothers again.  They released one last album ‘When The Night Comes Down’, this is a more subdued but equally superb record.

The brothers stopped recording then; a great pity, and I haven’t been able to find out why. Maybe they just wanted a break and found it hard to plunge back into the ruthless music business again.  But they were an essential part of that huge outpouring of talent in the early Seventies, inspired by The Beatles and other 60’s bands.  I saw them live a few times; looking back it was remarkably easy to go and see bands riding high in the charts during the Seventies; they were always touring and prices were cheap – record sales were huge and band toured to promote the records.  Although I have always favoured singer-songwriters to bands, I would easily place the Sutherland Brothers in my top ten groups of all times.

Image result for images of the Sutherland Brothers


Friday 21st April

The couple of months Ted had said they should lie low for were rapidly turning into six and June was going quietly mad.  He had managed to speak to her a couple of times on the phone, but somehow his softly spoken reassurances only served to feed into her doubts.  She began to suspect that it was all over between them, that what they had, that passion, that excitement, that very reason for living was soon going to be a thing of the past.  What on earth would she do now?  She couldn’t imagine just plodding through the rest of her life, comfortable as the surroundings might be.  She used to watch the girls getting ready to go out and was stung by a sort of jealousy; she was envious of their freedom, their youth and their innocence, their naivety even.  They seemed so carefree, so oblivious of the seriousness of life, and here she was stuck with respectable responsible Phil and hopelessly, desperately, in love with someone else.  And she had no one in the whole world she could tell, her old girlfriends would be horrified if she confided in them, especially as Ted was married to her own sister.  No-one could possibly understand how she felt.  She had never felt so wretchedly alone, she would be forty soon; just another sad forty-year old housewife who had nothing to look forward to; a life of bleak nothingness.  More and more she was determined to bring things to a head; she would have to find a way of talking to Ted, to make him understand that he couldn’t just leave her hanging on like this.

*  * *

Things were beginning to pick up; at last Phil could see some glimmer of light at the end of what had seemed at times a never-ending tunnel.   June’s mother had been forced to sell her house before she went into the home, and Phil had handled the sale and her money for her. There were still a couple of thousand pounds left, and this would of course be split between June and her sister Julie.  But neither of them knew a thing about money.  Phil decided to keep quiet about the exact amount; he had no intention of cheating the sisters, especially Julie, who was desperately hard up, he just needed a bit of breathing space.  Phil told them that there was over a thousand pounds left and wrote them out cheques for just under six hundred pounds apiece. They were both delighted and suspected nothing.

Phil kept two thousand back; he was sure that he would be able to repay them later, but he had a great investment opportunity and he was up to his limit at the bank with his current loans.  He never considered it as theft at all; he fully intended to give the capital back to his wife and her sister, and maybe some of the profit too, although they would have done nothing towards earning it themselves.  It just seemed too good an opportunity to waste, it even crossed his mind that if things went badly he wouldn’t really be to blame, he had honestly done it for the best of reasons, and had he given them the whole amount they would only have spent it, June on clothes or some piece of furniture they didn’t really need, and Julie on the boys and that useless husband of hers.  Phil could never see what she saw in him, he would never amount to anything; Ted Wasp would be a farmhand until his dying day, and they would live and die in that miserable council house.  So, though he knew it was technically wrong, in the scheme of things it wasn’t that terrible, and if things went well he would surprise and delight them by revealing that an old investment he had once persuaded their mother to put some money into had turned out a winner and give them back their thousand each.

*  * *

In a quiet way outrageousness started to become their thing, Harriet and Jane; they were going to show everyone just who the Wilkinson sisters were.  They were lucky that they had a bit more money and their parents seemed quite relaxed about them, either so confident in their grounding, or so negligent themselves that they didn’t really notice what the girls were up to.  Their mother used to laugh at them, and their attempts to follow the latest London fashions, but it was a gentle reflective laughter, as though she had done it all herself in her own time.  Jane was sure she hadn’t, but then June never really talked about her own teenage years so she couldn’t be sure.  She seemed timeless in her own way, she would wear the same things year in and out, but they never seemed dowdy somehow.  She had the knack of adding a scarf, or a throw, or a belt, or some bit of old jewellery that would transform her into something new.  The girls had a generous allowance, or pocket money, as everyone used to call it, and Harriet just kept asking for more, and one or the other of their parents would come up with the money.  Harriet constantly surprised her sister by dragging her out shopping and producing five pound notes like confetti.  She would just smile and say Daddy gave it to me, or I cadged it off Mummy, and Harriet was always generous to Jane so she wasn’t going to complain, was she?  Jane sometimes thought they were two spoilt little rich girls in a way, but as Rod Stewart was to sing so brilliantly a few years later, “They wore it well.”

Clothes were a big part of it, always having the latest gear, or what passed for it in Suffolk.  And make-up, outrageously mascara-ed eyes, panda-eyes, people said, and lots of lipstick, the brighter the better of course.  They had their longish straight hair cut in as near to a Mary Quant –style bob as they could get, and wore big silver hoop earrings.  Oh, and mini-skirts, no-one wore any mini-er.   So it was no surprise that they were attracting the boys pretty soon.

And they went to parties most weekends, often out in the country, and though Jane must have been only fourteen or fifteen, Harriet was there to look after her, to make sure she didn’t go too far.  And she didn’t really want to, kissing was so fabulous that she didn’t need to do that.  They both messed about a bit, but nothing too serious, and besides they still told each other everything, like two little children giggling over the nights events, swapping secrets as they always had.

*  * *

Or so Jane thought, but Harriet knew she didn’t know the half of it.  Though she always kept an eye out for Jane and made sure no boys took advantage of her, she was two years younger than her after all, but when Jane wasn’t looking Harriet was having a really good time.  Not sex so much, though she did have a bit of fun, snogging and being felt up under a pile of coats in some upstairs bedroom, she never went the whole way.  Close sometimes, but she wasn’t stupid; the last thing she wanted was to get pregnant.  But she did love to smoke, and not just tobacco either.  Jane never even touched cigarettes, little Miss Goody Two-shoes, but Harriet did like to smoke.  Not that there was much of that stuff around, but occasionally at a party someone would have some shit and she really dug it, it just made her feel so floaty and free.  She liked to drink too, and there was always plenty of that around, besides she could manage to get served in almost any pub; she would just flicker her mascara-ed eyes and the landlord would say,’ Okay just the one drink miss, then you be on your way.’

So all in all it was a great time, mixing with people a couple of years or so older than them, and being completely accepted.  Money had a lot to do with it, Dad was a solicitor after all, and he was well known, probably doing business with these people’s parents.  And he was always there to pick them up, around twelve, while the party was still swinging, but before any boys started to get too serious.  Good old reliable Dad, with the Bentley in the drive of some big house to the east of Ipswich, tooting his horn for them.  Harriet would grab sleepy Jane awake, usually nodding off on the stairs or in the kitchen and out they would totter in outrageous high-heels, mini-skirts, skimpy tops and not much else to the safety of the good old Bentley.  Make a great entrance, and an ever more spectacular exit, and you will be the belle of the ball, that was Harriet’s style.

So, An Election

Thursday 20th April

I must have been psychic, only two days ago I posted about the dangers of Democracy, and the day after Mrs. May announced a General Election.  Well, to be accurate she announced that she would ask the House of Commons to vote for one.  Strange that when the Fixed Term Act was introduced about six years ago, everyone thought it would be hard for a Government to call an election.  The truth is of course that any Party not voting for it when the opportunity arises, no matter how badly they are doing in the polls, will look as if they are running scared.  So Labour and the LibDems and the SNP will all fall in line and vote for it, and a General Election we will have.

And what do we think of it?  It may well go down as a non-election.  From six weeks out it would seem almost impossible for Labour to win the 50 odd seats they would need to form the next Government.  The Media has practically written them off.  But I do find Mrs. May’s stated reasons a bit disingenuous.  Of course she would like a larger majority, but in reality she has barely been threatened so far; in fact she has been walking on air ever since she became P.M.  Brexit has been the only show in town, it is only the type of Brexit that has been up for discussion; nobody wants to re-run the Referendum, in any case I suspect there would be an even larger majority for it now.  Which is exactly what Mrs. May hopes will deliver her a stunning victory.  Her argument that Westminster is opposing her plans is ridiculous; the clue is in the term ‘the opposition’; and actually, nobody is denying her negotiating Brexit, but they are concerned at what sort of deal she will eventually agree, and rightly so.  And Labour are looking weak, languishing in the polls; though of course the actual prospect of an election may make people think a bit deeper than a hypothetical question when the reality was not in prospect.

I expect Mrs. May to win and to increase her majority, but maybe not by that much really.  The Tories did much better in 2015 that even they had hoped, partly by winning a whole tranche of Lib-Dem seats as the public punished them for joining the Coalition.  I suspect that this time without Clegg they will do better and regain a few seats.  And UKIP seem to be in decline too; Paul Nuttall is really a poor choice for them, Nigel was a far better speaker.  Labour may not do quite so badly as the polls suggest; if you are a natural Labour supporter, who else are you going to vote for?

But somehow I cannot even begin to get excited about this election. Maybe we have had a few too many campaigns recently, Brexit and Trump included.  We will see….