4. The World of Posturing

9 10 2016

Brexit Blog 4:  The World of Posturing

Posturing: Dictionary Defn: Bravado, Bluster, Pretension, adopting a bold posture or stand

One of the difficulties, it seems to me, is the stance that the many groups with vested interests in Brexit take, or to be more precise, the motives or reasons they have for taking those stances. When listening to, and then responding to, the various outpourings from these groups I would suggest that we need to bear in mind their motivations before getting all hot under the collar about what they are saying. There are five particular groups that come to my attention in this respect:

  1. The EU – preliminary to negotiating

From all of the reporting that has gone on at least for the last year, I would suggest that a number of parties on the continent are as much in a place of fear and trembling that I have previously suggested some of our Remain people are in. At least two of the leading countries of the EU have serious financial problems and in the run up to the referendum I watched a number of experts (unfortunately before I was recording such comments, so you’ll have to take my word for it) using such words as ‘potential bankruptcy on the horizon. There may be more than those two. There are at least two leading EU nations who are facing a major crisis with an aging population with inadequate future pension funding. There may be more than two. The EU has problems of its own and time may reveal those problems are terminal. Wait and see.

But the next biggest problem the EU has, and it’s equally big as our own, is how to go about and negotiate our departure. Views on how to go about this for the benefit of both sides (anything less will produce stalemate) are many and varied.

Mathias Döpfner, German chief executive of Axel Springer, the publishing house, recently said “I very simply think that in the long run continental Europe may suffer more from Brexit than England itself,” he said. “We should not take this whole Brexit decision as a way to blame the Brits. We should take it like a wake-up call for Europe to refresh its political approach. I count on the pragmatism and the free-market orientation of the British people and they will find ways to attract foreign investment and be an important business hub.” (The Times 27th Sept 2016)

Every time Angela Merkel or some other EU leader launches off about Brexit negatively, remember they are setting out the table for negotiations, and you always start from the hard or high end of bargaining. If you read the report that said, “Angela Merkel won thunderous applause from hundreds of German business leaders yesterday as she warned that Britain could not retain full access to the EU’s single market unless it allowed free movement of people,” (The Times 7th Oct 2016) remember she is setting the table for negotiations and that one aspect may not run with everyone. The truth may well be that actually German car makers want to be more open to us and us to them, than their present chancellor ‘appears’. Again, watch this space.

  1. Labour (including labour-sympathizing newspapers)

Recent rumour has it that Tony Blair is talking about coming back into the fold to make a bid for the Labour leadership. I suspect there would be many who would forgive him Iraq if there was a saviour on the horizon who might have a chance of pulling Labour back from its apparently extreme left wing tendencies at the present time. Is David Milliband too entrenched in the USA to ever think of coming back?

Whatever the realities of the Labour party’s anguishes, one thing is sure: it makes life easier for the Government to just get on with the business of working out Brexit without too many distractions from the Opposition. But remember whenever you hear rumblings about Brexit from the Labour fold, bear in mind they are the Opposition (just) and Brexit is always a good target to throw things at – but that’s what Oppositions do, don’t forget.

But my heading also includes labour-sympathizing newspapers. Let’s steer away from potential law suits and simply say, you know who we mean. If you are looking for unbiased, objective reporting and comments, this is not where you should be looking and if you do read them, remember their bias.

  1. The General Media

In some parts of the media there is this thing which is supposed to be healthy but on one side can appear boring and on the other, if you only spot one side, very biased. It is called balance. Watch the BBC interviewing people in the street over any particular ‘hot’ issue, and you will probably find equal numbers on both sides being picked up by the reporter.

The Times also appears particularly good at this. On one day a ‘comment’ article appears slating the PM’s approach and then the next day there is another writer saying how well she is doing. It can be a confusing world and it can be negative if you miss the ‘positive day’. Be careful.

But all newspapers live by creating interest and sometimes replace ‘interest’ with ‘controversy’. Watch for apparently terrible headlines and then think about the reality of what they are saying. Consider for example the headline from various papers: “Brexit negotiations may cost £65m.” The implication is how terrible this is. It is in fact quoting a Report called ‘Planning for Brexit: Silence Is Not A Strategy’ from the ‘respected’ Institute for Government and one paper includes the line, “The new Prime Minister is also criticised for her “silence” on her position and for not beginning exit negotiations.”  Perhaps someone in that think-tank needs to think a bit more about what happens when you line up for important negotiations;  you don’t rush, you take your time and don’t let foolhardy or less experienced negotiators influence you. This is a new day and none of us – on both sides of the English Channel – have trod this ground before. Yes, it will take a time to settle and that includes within the workings of the Government and the Civil Service. Give them a chance!

  1. Remain Enthusiasts

I have already touched on the ‘sour grapes’ mentality but it is there without a doubt, those who say, “I told you so,” the moment the pound goes the wrong way, as well as those who take any opportunity to remind us that they said it was a bad thing to leave. These doom-sayers are still around and they will no doubt pop up regularly on the roller-coaster it is suggested we are on. I think in the last war they were called fifth columnists

  1. ‘Experts’ who spoke contrary to Leave

Allied to the Remain Enthusiasts are the ‘experts’ who said, “It is wrong” and who are now nursing their wounds because we the great ignorant British people ignored their counsel.  In the light of what I have reported under heading 3 above, you do sometimes wonder if people simply say or write things because they have a job reputation to build, an ego to appease, or simply be seen to be doing ‘something’.

We live in a world where image and ego often rule and, yes, it may be right, what that report quoted above said. Perhaps there have been ‘turf wars’ over who does what, as they struggle to find out what they are supposed to be doing.  Perhaps individual ministers do yet need to learn to say nothing until they’ve all agreed it, but as I’ve said, it is early days and a number of these people have never trod this ground before. Let’s have some grace to give them space to learn the ropes, because the odds are that neither you nor me would want their jobs with the hours they put in and the pressure they are under to perform.


Disillusioned with Humanity?

7 02 2013

Disillusioned with Humanity?

Job’s wisdom came with an interview with God. I often think how different we would all be if we each had ‘an interview with God’ and would thus be able to realise how great He is and how small we are, but it’s not like that. It seems that the Lord in His wisdom allows us to go our own way but then He either brings or allows (and there is room for debates in individual occurrences) things to cross our lives that make us question the views that we had of ourselves as almost divine-like beings.

But real life for us begins when we proceed along, to use a picture that Jemima Khan has recently used in respect to her attitude to Julian Assange over the principles of WikiLeaks, “a journey of admiration to demoralisation”.  So much of the time we live with self-admiration but we only come to a place of reality when we become demoralised over what we are really like. Then we come to God for help.

Our society in the UK is going through a journey from admiration to demoralisation. We, as a society at least, abandoned God back in the last quarter of the twentieth century and became a self-admiring society that, free from its religious shackles, could now grow up and reach its full potential. Yet the truth is that in any and every area of our society over the last ten years we have been found to be drastically wanting and demoralisation is setting in.

Being cut free from the strictures of absolute morality, government authorities and media, all made up of self-admiring individuals, have opened the doors to liberal freedoms –  but these chickens are now coming home to roost.

In the financial realm, the mockery of the bankers continues unabated after over five years of mismanagement. I recently came across a comment written by Clive James a couple of years ago that seemed to describe it all so well: “Even the legitimate financial system had all the trappings of a racket, including a wonderful mechanism whereby which the banks that lost your money were saved from ruin by being given more of your money so that they could award it as bonuses to the very people who lost your money in the first place.”  That is the bizarre nature of the world without absolutes that we have created.

If we move into the realm of relationships and sexual freedom, even the most liberal of writers is now forced to concede that it is not going well.  In a world freed from absolute morality, it is no wonder that promiscuity so often undermines marriages and committed cohabitation alike, it is no wonder that many men struggle with sexual imagery in their minds that drifts into reality and produces sexual abuse, rape, child abuse and so much more, it is no wonder that teenage pregnancy rates, abortion rates and STD rates are at almost epidemic proportions, it is no wonder that young people and old alike despair at ever finding that elusive quality called love.

It takes a Sunday journalist to state it clearly: “Children fare best, and are less likely to be a problem to society, if they are raised by married parents. Those married parents are far more likely to remain together – and so provide a stable home life for their families, as well as being a socially cohesive force in the community – than are those who are unmarried. These are just bald statistical facts.”  But it seems most of us don’t like the facts.

Perhaps the icon for demoralisation should be Jimmy Saville. If he was guilty as so many seem to claim he was, wasn’t the guilt also spread through those who turned a blind eye to him. Expediency was obviously the name of the game in the world freed from absolute morality. Only now, it seems, after he is dead, is the curtain being drawn back and the magnitude and extent of the sin revealed.

Demoralisation is striking in every quarter. In the realm of politics, in recent weeks I have now twice heard, from what were once staunch Conservatives, about both Prime Minister and Chancellor, the equivalent of “This man must go!” and yet the alternatives seem equally bad. Moral ethics appear to have no part to play in modern politics, only what is expedient or seems good at the time to an unanchored mind. Much of the malaise experienced within this society today must be laid at the feet of politicians and media people alike who have their own present-day agendas built on nothing less than what seems good to them today. Already we have said, the chickens are coming home to roost, but still they plough on opening further doors to future social chaos. Today’s laws thus create tomorrow’s chaos.

I have heard a few comments of “There must be an alternative to all this,” but generally society acts like the frog in the saucepan of water bring gradually brought to the boil, and seems unaware of just how bad things are. Self-admiration is a difficult thing to overcome; indeed it often takes crisis to shake our self-sufficiency. Whether we are suffering from the effects of global warming or from a cycle of unpleasant weather systems, as a country we have been getting pounded by the weather for the last few years.  Perhaps it is only those who suffer flooding again and again who begin to face the reality that they are small and puny and have little or no power in the face of such things. We will eventually learn to build flood-proof houses but we are slow to learn how to do that, and to recognise our own frailty and need of God’s help.

Perhaps the process would be accelerated if London was seriously flooded. That would be a wakeup call! But would that bring such people as our national leaders to their senses? The book of revelation shows crisis after crisis but still the stupidity of mankind meant they failed to turn to God for help. Self-admiration can be both the most blinding and the most stunting characteristic of the human race. How tragic.

In the midst of the process that I have referred to as “a journey of admiration to demoralisation”, we fail to face the truth that all of us are human beings prone to getting it wrong.  The recent classic case of Chris Huhne, a man who found himself getting caught doing one relatively small thing wrong (speeding), shows the folly of self-admiration that desperately seeks to cover up any failing. In his case he sought the help of his wife, but when the marriage broke down, found himself exposed and then had to tell lie after lie for years to try to cover it up. One sin (speeding) + one sin (conspiracy with wife) + multiple sins (lying and denial) = rejection of an MP by society. How much more simple would it have been if he took a driving ban originally and the whole thing passed into obscurity. Instead self-admiration dragged on for ten years before demoralisation set in and the truth was faced.

At a corporate level we are hearing yet again of the failings of the NHS, this time because of deaths occurring while in NHS care. Yes, of course we can do better but for the moment we are going through the media frenzy yet again where truth is hazy. Only this morning I read of nurses who dropped an 86 in the ward and two weeks later the lady died. Whether the two things were linked is unclear, but people (nurses) are human beings and from time to time they get it wrong. Did they drop that lady purposely? Of course not!  In fact so fearful were they of repercussions that they pretended it had not happened. Self-admiration seeks to cover up and avoid truth.

The recent snow brought many school closures and with them, criticism about wimpish schools. One good article on the subject suggested it was nothing to do with that, but more that head teachers were fearful of litigation. The payouts that have been paid in recent years by education authorities for even minor natural injuries, things that happen in day to day living, like tripping over, have been incredible in both numbers and size. This is a society failing to handle its demoralisation by blaming whoever it can – except yourself – and, along the way, making capital out of others. Greed and selfishness walk hand in hand with self-admiration. And all the while, God in His goodness, is quietly working to bring people to their senses. As I’ve asked before on these pages, how long will it take?