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Showing posts with label Chaucer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Chaucer. Show all posts

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Unexpected developments in lead-up to historic general election may trigger a political and constitutional crisis

Whan that Aprill, with his shoures soote
The droghte of March hath perced to the roote
And bathed every veyne in swich licour,
Of which vertu engendred is the flour

The new month opens with a series of maybe unrelated, yet possibly linked events, quite staggering in their implications for the general election.

Alan Cochrane has been named as the successor to Jeremy Clarkson in the new Top Gear flagship programme, to be renamed and launched as Gear Sticks United. His replacement on The Telegraph editorial team, in an move that has astonished Fleet Street, will be the Scottish Graphic artist and National cartoonist Greg Moodie, famous for his biting satire supporting the independence cause.

In an interview, Greg shrugged off questions about his change of allegiance and replied in his trademark laconic style “Don’t get sarky, guys – a suite in a mock-Gothic castle on Brecqhou clinched the deal for me.”

Her Majesty, in an unprecedented departure from protocol, has in a unique and moving ceremony, knighted Tony Blair and Gordon Brown simultaneously. As they knelt before her, the two architects of what was perhaps the last act in the Great Game of Empire, the Iraq War, avoided eye contact with each other as a mark of respect to the dead.

(The Palace said that rumours that John McTernan and Jim Murphy were to be equerries to Sir Tony and Sir Gordon were unfounded, since neither of the new knights owned a horse.)

But the news that has rocked the media and political commentariat broke at midnight. Its constitutional ramifications are as yet not fully understood, as Great Britain’s family of nations comes to terms with the announcement that Land of Hope and Glory will no longer close the last night of the Proms.

Four prominent composers – as yet unnamed – have been commissioned to synthesise a new national anthem using key motifs drawn from Land of Hope and Glory, Flower of Scotland, Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau and The Londonderry Air which will reflect the combined spirit of our great family of nations. It is to be called O Britedonia

It will be sung by a choir specially coached by Gareth Malone OBE.  Early speculation on members of  the choir are Alistair Carmichael, Margaret Curran, Theresa May, Nigel Farage, Boris Johnson, Ian Paisley Junior  and historian David Starkey. (No prominent Welsh national will be included as yet, since they can all sing well already.)

Alex Salmond, once a noted boy soprano, has regretfully declined, suggesting as his replacement Aled Jones. (A Palace spokesman said off the record that Mr. Salmond had never been invited: the Queen had vetoed Mr. Salmond’s inclusion.)

As yet, no proposals have emerged for the re-design of the Union Jack from the committee of British artists, celebrities and notables who love-bombed Scotland during the Independence Referendum.

Some have said they no longer “feel the love” in view of mounting poll evidence that the Scottish electorate intend to democratically elect representatives from a party that doesn’t seem to have felt the love in the way intended.

Monday, 18 July 2011

The UK - and a word from a great Englishman …

Shakespeare, a great Englishman, some say the greatest, although my affections lie with Geoffrey Chaucer, put the following words in the mouth of Hamlet, who was deeply unhappy about his nation and what it had come to -

Fie on't! ah, fie! 'tis an unweeded garden
That grows to seed; things rank and gross in nature
Possess it merely.

and Marcellus later observes that

Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.

If Shakespeare and Chaucer were alive today, I feel that they both would feel the same about the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, that it has become an unweeded garden, possessed by things rank and gross in nature, and that something was rotten in it. But they would take heart from the signs all around them that the English people were beginning to assert themselves against this endemic corruption of their institutions, and they would recognise that in part, this was prompted by the Scots attempting to free themselves from the UK’s clammy embrace, while retaining their respect and ancient ties of blood, friendship and common interest with their English brothers and sisters.

The conspiracy of hereditary privilege, the unelected power of the British aristocracy and Establishment and the military/industrial complex seemed to have an iron grip of the peoples of these islands of Britain, a grip secured by control of media and patronage and, through them, the exploitation of myths of imperial glory and a romanticised ideal of Great Britain that has always been far removed from the lives of the people.

But this rickety remnant of a global empire has badly over-extended itself, and the rapaciousness and greed of its ruling class has peaked at the same time, in an unfortunate confluence of events that resulted in the Parliamentary expenses scandal, the collapse of the banks, the incompetence of the Ministry of Defence allied to the greed of those who profit from it, the failed and failing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and now the spectacular collapse of the media empire of Rupert Murdoch, an empire that has corrupted the highest levels of government and the Metropolitan Police.

Private Eye has been chronicling for decades the financial and municipal corruption of the powerful in the centre of UK power, the South East of England, and the associated incompetence of the regulatory and legal bodies that have been so spectacularly - and in some cases, suspiciously - unable to check it.

From the Inland Revenue through the Serious Fraud Office, the Department of Public Prosecutions, the Metropolitan Police, various supine financial regulatory authorities to the pathetic and supine Press Complaints Commission, the sordid record has been detailed by Private Eye, a publication that has been unafraid of the powerful, both their blandishments and their legal bludgeons, while the mainstream media has been muzzled and trivialised, with honourable exceptions such as the Telegraph in the MPs expenses scandal, the Guardian in the phone hacking conspiracy, and Channel Four News.

But the pressure of the new media, social networking and Wikileaks has fractured the the wall of complicit silence, a pressure powerful enough to trigger the Arab Spring and global events of incalculable significance.

Here in Scotland, we have had our own little Celtic Spring, in the May election of the Scottish National Party for a historic second term. And the summer of independence beckons …

Sir Paul Stephenson, Head of the Met, resigns, and says he "will not lose sleep over his personal integrity". Clearly, he never has in the past - but the rest of us have, especially the victims of phone hacking. David Cameron appears not to be losing sleep over his personal integrity either, but then Old Etonians never do ...

But Nick Clegg may well lose sleep over the loss of his party's integrity. But not enough to resign and bring down this benighted Coalition ...