I might have changed my mind …

We had supper with our pals Peter and Karen on Friday night (thank you!). Inevitably we got round to politics and I made the bold declaration that popularism was a flash in the pan and would soon be dead. How’s that, Roland?

Other than humiliate the US as the former world’s policeman and liberal lead, His Orangeness has actually achieved very little. You might argue that the US’s economy is doing well under his watch, but I’ve read that (and see graphs that show that) this is a bounce that was started by Obama as the global economy picked up pace after the 2008 crash. But, for sake of fairness, let’s give him that; the US economy is doing OK.

Except … unless I only read anti-Trump articles (which is possible), the view is that his tariff war with almost anyone and everyone is now beginning to hack away at the US economy. And with no trade deal in sight with China, soon any good news will turn bad.

Ok, so maybe, maybe not the economy.

Korea? Are you kidding me? Another ‘nice’ letter received from Kim Jong-un yesterday … just as the murderous dictator launched more short-range missiles into the sea. Answering a reporter, Trump pulled down joint South Korean/US exercises, siding with a dictator against his own military. I don’t see this going anywhere – at best. At worse His Twitterness is being played. Really well.

Iran? Climate change? Syria – where, apparently, IS has started to re-emerge? Far right-supremacy? Abortion? Gun control?

Please. Name one major policy, domestic or overseas, where the current US administration has actually taken the world forward a step. Just one. Come on. Help me out.

He has so polarised the US that any future elections will be completely based on ideology rather than policy. It’s fair to say that his base will always support him … as Trump said, ‘I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters’. How true, especially now, almost three years into his tenure.

IMG_20190809_190201142

some flowers to cheer you up …

And, to the same extent, ideology is now very much driving Brexit. It doesn’t matter that the economy is heading for recession. That the benefits of Brexit have turned from sunlit uplands to dystopian wastelands. That people have and will lose jobs. Medicines will run out and people are very likely to die. Businesses have and will close. Our future prosperity is in danger at a time when we were emerging as one of the strongest economies in the world. That we have fallen so far since the opening ceremony of the Olympics in 2012 – from a joyous, inclusive and state-of-the-art country to one of xenophobia, anger and a little bit of fear. None of that matters, because there are a group of people who see this as a battle of wills. It’s no longer about benefits and disbenefits; there are no arguments to win. It’s about entrenched my side and your side. It’s about ideology. And, unless there’s a huge shock, ideological people rarely change their spots.

But … my reading is that suburban US, particularly after the last round of mass-shootings, is beginning to get tired of it all. Tired of the hateful rhetoric. Tired of the misdirected and misplaced tweets. Tired of the lies. Wary of where this leaves the US in the eyes of the world. And with the economy faltering …

… and, over here, I read of so many more people changing from ‘leave’ to ‘remain’. Indeed, other than an exasperated ‘for goodness sake get on with it’, I have yet to see a single commentary where remainers have switched sides to leave, now seeing Brexit as a good thing. Have you?

So, my ‘bold declaration’ at supper the other night was that the tide was turning. Boris Johnson has had no honeymoon period. He’s lost a by-election, the economy has dipped and there have been no huge crowds welcoming him as he toured the country last week. Indeed, has anyone actually seen him recently? Has he made a TV appearance, other than the odd Facebook ad? Not sure.

And doesn’t he look unwell? He’s a man who, by his own admission, likes to be liked. He’s the 4th Form joker … getting by by making people laugh, whilst not necessarily encouraging their respect. Without a group of onlookers I reckon he’s finding it tough. And, I say again, he looks blotchy and pallid. Maybe he always looked like that? Dunno.

His Tweetiness is not well, for sure. He clearly has a long list of ‘isms’ that have made him the man he is, but his forgetfulness, his impetuousness and his temper would make me worry about his health in someone his age.

So … on the face of it popularism seemed like a good idea. Draining the swamp, losing the quangos and lobbyists and all that. But knowing that a week is a long time in politics, these coming months are going to show the middle ground that it’s better to vote in reasonably ordinary people than place your future in the hands of (mostly) men who crave attention and can hold a crowd. I reckon. The tide is turning.

That was my line on Friday night.

But.

(Takes a deep breath.)

Conspiracy of conspiracies, Epstein is dead. Whilst in the securest of secure detention facilities in the US.

Over here, it’s been reported that Dominic Cummings’s (the unelected Brexit enforcer) farm has received £235,000 of EU subsidies – it’s actually Euros, but I couldn’t find the Euro key on my keypad, but as Sterling is now on parity with the Euro it makes no difference.

Facebook ads. Data hacking. Self interest.

Wheels within wheels. Money and power. Greed and disregard for the outcome. A man dead in the cells of the highest security prison.  I couldn’t write it.

So, all of a sudden I’m not so sure. Maybe we can’t put this right? Maybe it’s bigger than all of us in the middle ground? I know it’s an Orwellian statement, but surely it’s difficult to make a stand when the world is being run by a bunch of gangsters.

Let’s hope I’m wrong. We’ll see.

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