This was first posted on Facebook on 19th September 2020, with support from my Ko-Fi network.
I assume Oliver Wright, Francis Elliott, and Matt Chorley genuinely thought they were writing an article at the request of Dominic Cummings (I assume it was Big Dom) for three purposes: to make people feel sympathetic towards poor Boris Johnson, who has such a hard life, and also to frame the very slight concession to Tory rebels over the Internal Market Bill as a much bigger U turn than in fact it is, and finally to assure everyone that Boris Johnson is really, truly, a dedicated public servant and a man who intends to fight the 2024 general election.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg died on Rosh Hashanah, on Friday 18th September, aged 87, of pancreatic cancer complications: she died at home surrounded by her family, and I don’t feel quite so bad knowing my first thought was “Now Trump can put a third justice on the Supreme Court”, when I found that practically, Ginsburg’s last thought was almost the same: “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”
When Antonin Scalia died on 15th February 2016, the next Presidential election was over eight months away.
This was first posted on Facebook on 17th September 2020, with support from my Ko-Fi network.
Just as a squib to start with:
Chris Grayling has been quietly replaced on the Security Committee, chaired by formerly-Tory MP Julian Lewis, and has taken on a part-time job, 7 hours a week “advising” Hutchison Ports Europe, for which he is to be paid £100,000 a year. Given Grayling’s track record it is just as well it’s only 7 hours a week, or it could cost Hutchison Ports Europe a lot more than a hundred grand.
And Robert Jenrick, the Secretary of State for Housing, has chosen to inform the nation of a regional lockdown via the Peston show on ITV, not via the House of Commons or even the daily coronacvirus briefing. (And Chris Whitty says it needs to be a national full lockdown for at least two weeks, but that of course that wouldn’t suit Johnson’s donors.) Lindsay Hoyle scolded the government for that breach last time it’s happened: now it’s happened again.
But this is politics as usual: it’s deadly, during a global pandemic, but it’s normal Tory stuff.
The Internal Market Bill passed Second Reading last night by 77 votes.
I couldn’t listen to all of the debate – I was working yesterday, having decided to take off Wednesday and Thursday as usual – for PMQs (Keir Starmer will be absent: he is self-isolating as one of his household has shown symptoms of coronavirus) and because Wednesday is the second day of the committee of the whole House examining the bill.
But I listened to enough of the debate, including Boris Johnson’s opening statement presenting the bill (and Ed Miliband’s strong rebuttal – Starmer picked him to sub in, and I have to say, he was terrific) to see very definitely two things.
This was first posted on Facebook on 12th September 2020, with support from my Ko-Fi network.
You cannot have a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland because it would be the end of the peaceful settlement of 1998: it would cause economic hardship on the island of Ireland: Northern Ireland voted by majority to remain in the EU.
This was first posted on Facebook on 11th September 2020, with support from my Ko-Fi network.
Let us consider where we are.
Boris Johnson is the Prime Minister and holds a 79-seat/bullet-proof majority in the House of Commons. He has made clear to his MPs that neither rebellion nor dissent are tolerated and he will remove the Whip – that is, make a Tory MP an Independent MP without a party – from any of his MPs who act in any way contrary to his instructions.
Boris Johnson has instructed his government to insert clauses into the Internal Market Bill which break international law. This has been publicly admitted to by several of his Cabinet ministers – not that Boris Johnson gave the instructions (it may have been Dominic Cummings, who knows) but that certain clauses in the Internal Market Bill do break international law, Ministers of the Crown know this, and they want this bill enacted even though it breaks international law.
This was first posted on Facebook on 8th September 2020, with support from my Ko-Fi network.
Today’s PMQs were less of a fiasco for Boris Johnson than last week’s, despite his Secretary of State for Northern Ireland admitting in the Commons yesterday that yes, the proposed changes to the Withdrawal Agreement did break international law in a “limited and specific way”.
This was first posted on Facebook on 9th September 2020, with support from my Ko-Fi network.
On Tuesday 8th September, there were two important resignations:
Jonathan Jones was until Tuesday the Treasury Solicitor, which is the head of the government legal profession, and also the Permanent Secretary of the Government Legal Department, which is the single largest provider of legal services to government: he quit.
And also: Rowena Collins Rice, director general at the Attorney General’s Office. She also quit today.
The Irish Border twitter account, which stopped tweeting on 31st January, today tweeted again:
“Ok, now I’m worried”
This was first posted on Facebook on 7th September 2020, with support from my Ko-Fi network. Every time I tried to begin a post here about politics, since Thursday, I kept thinking “But David Graeber is dead.”
David Graeber died in Venice on Wednesday 2nd September. I didn’t know him personally and my sense of loss is only what I feel when a writer I admire and respect and want to keep writing is gone: there will never be any more clear sharp insightful essays and articles from him, never again. He was 59 and I am old enough to feel strongly that this is far too young to die.
I watched PMQs on Wednesday, and Boris Johnson, fresh from his holidays, reacted to Keir Starmer’s questions with an outpouring of poisonous bile. He didn’t look well, not that his illness excuses his behaviour: as John Crace noted, PMQ is essentially a kind of Westminster performance, something perhaps only political afficionados care to watch: but it is a dance with rules, a question followed by an answer, a follow-up question, a follow-up answer. Boris Johnson was interrupted mid-flow by the Speaker, who very gently and politely told him to answer the question. I don’t think I’m inventing this: Lindsay Hoyle looked worried.
In the summer of 2010, Julian Assange went to Sweden. The servers which host the main Wikileaks website are based there: in August 2010, the primary host seems to have switched from PRQ to Bahnhof. Bahnof servers are based in a former nuclear bunker.
In August 2010, on two separate occasions, Assange met with and stayed one night/several nights with a woman supporter of Wikileaks. Each woman says that the arrangement to have sex was by mutual consent: each woman says that she had stipulated Assange should use a condom. The two women discovered afterwards that Assange had behaved like a boor with each of them: fighting and disputing and trying to bully her out of her stipulation. Assange had achieved his goal of penetrative sex without a condom with both women: In one instance, Assange claimed the condom had “ripped” and so he had been unaware that there was now no condom: in the other, he waited the next morning until she had fallen asleep, and then got inside her when she couldn’t actually say no. The two women took this to the police, and asked if Assange could be made to take a HIV test. None of these facts are disputed by Assange or his lawyers.