Friday, 8th July, 2022

[Day 844]

The day dawned bright and beautiful with a weather forecast that seemed to presage temperatures in the 80’s (I always remember that 28 degrees C is equal to 82 degrees F) I went down early to collect the newspapers today before Meg and I walked down to the park to enjoy the summer sunshine. Having drunk our coffee, we were joined by our University of Birmingham friend and then shortly afterwards by Seasoned World Traveller. Needless to say, the demise of Boris Johnson and all of the unfolding political events was a massive topic of interest to us. A point emerged in our discussions which is also reinforced by the editorial in todays Times. The point is that both political parties have in the past few years refined their leader selection procedures such that whichever candidates emerge, the final decision is left to the members of the respective political parties. Now it is a truism of the political scene in the UK that the constituency parties are well to the left of the Labour Party (in the case of Labour) and well to the right of the parliamentary party in the case of the Conservatives. So this has given rise to Corbyn and Corbynism in the case of Labour and, of course, Boris Johnson in the case of the Tories. In other words, the leadership and tenour of our political parties are being dragged towards the extremes and one has to wonder whether this is a good thing or not. One solution might be to confine the leadership canidates and campaigns solely to the partrliamentary parties but with the proviso that legitimacy should be subsequently sought by a general election to be held within a year (in the case of a governing party, which is nearly always the Conservatives) When trying to think this through, I suspect that a government which is moderate right or moderate left is likely to be more effective in effecting change for the nation and ‘good governance’ than an incredibly mish-mash of pure centrism. To reinforce this view, I read fairly recently that it is quite possible that in the American context, a Republican voter might not know a single Democrat voter in the whole of their social contacts and vice versa. Hence the situation in which 70% of Republicans do tend to believe that Trump actually won the last election (only getting their news from social media). One would hope that the British political system would try to avoid rather than imitate these American trends and we could therefore take some steps to avoid our political parties being taken over by the rabidly committed (Brexiteers, populists, hard left). All of this, of course, in the context of the current leadership context in the Tory party and is it a good thing that the normal procedures for electing a new leader may mean that the discredited Johnson stays in power until September, two months after a sound rejection by his own cabinet and his own party?

Meg and I came home and had a good meal of fried salmon on a bed of lettuce which is our ‘norm’ for a Friday. We really enjoyed though reading the acres of newsprint that were devoted to a blow-by-account of how Boris Johnson’s grip on power was gradually loosened and, of course, a lot of deep analysis about the personal flaws (i.e. extreme Narcisism) that has characterised the Johnson regime since its inception. After all, Boris Johnson’s housemaster wrote to his father words to the effect that ‘Boris does not seem to believe that he should be be bound by the rules and social obligations that apply to the rest of us‘ and nothing seems to have changed over the subsequent years.

Over the next few weeks, we are planning one day out a week to a neighbouring town and next week we thought we make for Stratford. As we are going to run into a heatwave, though, we are going to avoid the town centre altogether and then just make for a good stroll down by the river. We have been directed to a particularly good car park with the river on one side and some good restaurants on the other so we are going to make for that. The last time we went to Stratford with some friends, I remember that we were incredibly impressed by a group of strolling players who, when given a suitable quotation from Shakespeare, could immediately launch into a soliloqy from whatever play it happened to be. I suppose they had all played many parts over and over again but I found their powers of recall to be absolutely amazing. Stratford at this time of year, just before the school holidays start and before masses of foreign tourists descend upon it is probably delightful but I have bad memories of visiting the town in August with our Spanish friends when the town was teeming and all of the restaurants and bars appeared to be full. But I am sure things will be better than that when we go next week, all being well.