The Meaningful Brexit Vote.

Meaningful Brexit Vote

The declaration: Lost by 344 votes to 286, a Majority of 58, the Nos have it.

15 January 2109, Lost by 432 to 202, a Majority of 230; 12 March, Lost by 391 to 242, a Majority of 149; 29 March 2109, Lost by 344 votes to 286, a Majority of 58. What now?

Parliament has today voted down our Government’s proposal to leave the European Union for a third (and probably final time). Watching from the sidelines, it is not pretty. Continue reading “The Meaningful Brexit Vote.”

A View from the Boundary

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The great thing about watching sports, like cricket, is that from the boundary spectators can see the whole panoply of the game develop before their eyes, whereas the players in the middle can only see a limited perspective, just the bowler, or just the batsman, for example. So it is with politics and our problem with leaving the European Union.

We, the great unwashed, are on the boundary seeing the whole picture on our televisions, social media pages, and newspapers whereas the players (or politicians) have their vision limited by party loyalties, constituency considerations and their own innate beliefs. Continue reading “A View from the Boundary”

A Really-Smug Story

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Once upon a time, or olim as our scholarly protagonist Jacob Really-Smug was prone to say, there was a young country boy living on one side of a large river. From his countryside home he could dimly see in the distance the Big School across the estuary.

Each day he’d walk to his small country school, only to be bullied by the bigger boys because he was a bright teacher’s pet and he wore glasses. He hated games the most. Fearful of getting his knees dirty and scared of being kicked below the belt, he detested football with a passion which far exceeded that with which his classmates supported Rovers or United or Hotspur, the teams on the other side of the river. Worst of all he had to take off his glasses to play, so he was even more disadvantaged in the game. He hated football. Continue reading “A Really-Smug Story”

Suzhou to Shanghai

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…the observation deck on the 88th floor. The views of the city are wonderful.

In transforming backward agricultural China into an advanced industrialized country, we are confronted with arduous tasks and our experience is far from adequate. So we must be good at learning. Mao Zedong’s opening address at the eighth National Congress of the Communist Party of China. (September 15, 1956).

25 October Pan Pacific Hotel

We awake around 8.00. There’s genteel start today, breakfast lasts till ten.

Made out of large granite blocks, the Pan Pacific hotel has an inclined ramp up to the top, third, floor giving it the feel of a Mayan temple. But inside, it has the complexity of a pharaoh’s pyramid with false passages and little straightforward. We did find our bedroom eventually after visiting a boiler room and confronting a ‘No Entry, Staff’ sign.

However, the hotel does have some elegance and it fits well with low housing all around. Its downfall is the staff who seem at best indolent and at worst downright unhelpful. The evening pianist played more on her mobile phone than the piano during our brief stay, and at breakfast, Amy, our waitress stared into spaced ignoring her guests.

Francis is very quiet this morning, Chris said the hotel had been rather snooty and refused him a room. Finally, they found him a store cupboard at about three in the morning, apparently. Although he looks weary, he is with us doing his duty.

We have round-faced, black-haired Selina (Liu Yu Jia) to lead us to the canal. The red-lipped former schoolteacher in the clearest English tells us the famous Chinese general Sun Tzu, beloved of management consultants and military strategists, was born here two and half thousand years ago. Some things endure. Continue reading “Suzhou to Shanghai”

River Cruise to the Three Gorges Dam

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The gorge becomes more and more spectacular with mountains soaring up on either side.

When the winds of change blow, some people build walls and others build windmills. Chinese Proverb

Chongqing is now a skyscraper city with the feel of Manhattan. In the centre of the city is People’s Liberation Monument, locally called Jiefangbei. It commemorates China’s s victory in the Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945). Francis says it was the highest building the city, which had been heavily bombed in the war. It was built in 1946. Now, it is only a child coming up to the knees of all the adult buildings surrounding it.

Marjorie likes central Chongqing especially the diamond jewellers, CRD, where the diamonds look so cheap, but we don’t purchase any, it is so easy to get carried away.

We board the MV Century Diamond after a quick visit to an old riverside temple-cum-house complex in painted in yellow emulsion and a rushed and disappointing Lazy Susan dinner on the eighth floor of a city centre restaurant. However, our cabin is a delight with red bedsheets and two swans made from towels. Our 42nd wedding anniversary will occur on this boat. Continue reading “River Cruise to the Three Gorges Dam”

Beijing to Chongqing

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Francis’ Family in Tianamen Square

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. Lao Tzu.

Our journey nearly faltered at the first step. In the comfortable Titan chauffeur-driven Mercedes beside Ioan and Anita, we sat in a motorway jam. We were going to miss our flight. However, thanks to the mobile phone and the responsive Titan employee, Jo Kavanagh, we were re-booked on an Emirates flight via Dubai and we would arrive only a few hours later than originally planned.

During the trip, I was about to experience so many new superlatives, greatest, biggest, longest and the door to door journey time of 32.5 hours was the longest I had ever undertaken. We arrived in the Landmark hotel at 00.30 on Saturday 13 October in the company of the most helpful guide, Yang Zhen Xiong, who preferred his “English” name of Francis. Continue reading “Beijing to Chongqing”

Referenda and the ‘People’s Vote’ on the Final Brexit Plan

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Michel Barnier must be under as much pressure as Prime Minister May….

The first ever referendum related to an electoral procedure. It was ordered by the General Court of Massachusetts in 1641. It was embodied in an order passed on June 2, which set forth that “The freemen were growing to so great a multitude as will be overburdensome to the country, ” and “the way of proxies is found subject to many miscarriages.” The Court proposed, subject “to the advice and consent of the freemen,” that “every ten freemen,” in each town, should “choose one to be sent to the Court (of Elections) with power to make election for all the rest.” The order provided that the Deputies should “carry the copy hereof to the several towns and to make returns at the next Court, what the minds of the freemen are herein, that the Court may proceed accordingly.”

As there is no evidence that the proposed plan of voting by tens was ever tried, it would appear that “the minds of the freemen” were adverse to it. However, no return of the votes can now be found.

It marked the way for referenda.

Continue reading “Referenda and the ‘People’s Vote’ on the Final Brexit Plan”