Friday, 20th November, 2020

[Day 249]

Today was always scheduled by the weather broadcasters as a ‘transitional’ day and it was certainly somewhat colder than the mild spell to which we have become accustomed. However, after collecting our newspapers, we made our way to the park where we sought out the shelter of the bandstand (along with other disparate groups of dog-walkers) to have our comestibles. We did not tarry too long as the wind was blowing a little too coldly for our comfort and after a brief chat with two of our park associates, we made for home. Today was the day when our domestic help was busy in the house and she had very kindly bought for us some Waitrose crispy battered haddock which we heated up in the oven and consumed along with some fresh tartare sauce. So it was really good to have a meal where we had scarcely done any preparation ourselves and we ate the kind of meal we would normally have cooked for ourselves.

Some of the American news is comic, not to say tragic. Donald Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Guiliani, had given the most bizarre news conference at which he was attempting to explain how Donald Trump had been defrauded of the election that Trump had actually ‘won’ but, as he got all hot and agitated, so his dark red hair dye started to drip down his face making him look like a pale imitation of Dracula. Needless to say, this didn’t help to get his message across (as the assembled journalists were laughing so much) Meanwhile, Donald Trump had summoned some of the ‘Electors’ (formal officials from the state of Michigan) to the White House and encouraged them not to certify the results from Wayne County in Michigan (containing Detroit i.e. predominantly black electorate) this allowing the Republican-dominated legislature in Michigan to award the state’s votes to Trump. Eventually, after much public protest the two Republican electors who wanted not to certify the vote relented and went along with the rest of their colleagues. The state now appeared to be delivered for Biden but the two dissident Republican electors swore some affidavits attempting to reverse their own decision. It is evidently a murky story but it doe show that some of the Republican Party are not at all averse to attempt to ‘steal’ a state that had legitimately voted Democrat to turn it into a Republican victory. If nothing else, this shows how contemptuous of democracy the modern Republican party has now become.

Of course, it is not only in American politics that ‘black is white’ and ‘white is black’ Here in the UK, the Home Secretary, Priti Patel, has been found by an official report to be guilty of bullying behaviour (swearing and shouting at staff) thereby breaching the Ministerial Code which all ministers have to sign upon taking office. And, by all accounts, she was warned of this behaviour at the start of her spell as Home Secretary. The report has gone to the Prime Minister who has sat on it for months and had now declared that ‘Priti Patel is NOT guilty of breaching the Ministerial Code’ and the matter is now closed. (This is unprecedented behaviour for a Prime Minister, by the way, in cases like this not to endorse the findings of an official, independent enquiry) For her part, Priti Patel has issued a sort of apology in which she states that ‘I’m sorry that my behaviour has upset people and I have never intentionally set out to upset anyone.’ So that’s all right, then! The senior civil servant and adviser who has conducted the enquiry and written the report finding a breach of the Ministerial Code has promptly resigned as his position is now clearly untenable. Boris Johnson has tweeted to his Conservative MP’s that they should ‘form a square’ around Priti Patel which they have promptly done, tweeting messages of support (what a wonderful Minister etc. etc.) Priti Patel has a lot of support on the backbenches (very right-wing, avid Brexiteer – in fact, one prominent backbencher opined they wished had more ministers like Priti Patel) Under these circumstances (i.e. almost universal support from the backbenchers) her position always looked secure despite the fact that (a) Teresa May had to sack her as a junior minister in the ODM for illegitimate bahviour and (b) this pattern of behaviour is not new but has followed her across several ministries. But if you are an incompetent, Brexit-supporting minister you can get away with practically anything.