16 May 2010

Well, at last we have a government. As you will know, the Conservatives have finally been able to come to an agreement with the Liberal Democrats and we have a coalition government of the two parties which are probably furthest apart on the political spectrum. The “price” has been some modest toning down of some of the Conservatives’ more narrow-minded policies and a commitment to modify the electoral process, which is what the Liberals would have insisted upon. Unfortunately, there was no shifting the Conservatives on their policy towards Europe which must have been a bitter pill for the Liberals to swallow but one on which the Conservatives could never give way – there are just too many “Little Englanders” to countenance anything other than outright hostility towards all things European and foreign.

Interestingly, what we have, of course, is a government committed to introducing policies which no one voted for. Still, I think there’s little doubt that this was the right thing to do and one can only hope that the Liberals are treated as real partners in government with an influence on policies.

One thing for sure, ever since the new government was agreed, the weather has been miserable – cold, cold and then, just for a change, a bit more cold weather. I’ve had to put the central heating back on and wear several layers when walking the dog. Just goes to show what I’ve always said – you can’t trust the Conservatives, particularly when it comes to the weather!

I was struck at the weekend by yet another example of the hypocrisy of Rupert Murdoch and his News Corps empire which includes the Times and Sunday Times in the UK. Once respected as a reliable news outlet, the Times has increasingly become more and more like the other “rag” sheets which promote prejudice whilst masquerading as “news”. We were at lunch last Sunday with our friends Jo and Colin and their three delightful children and they happened to have a copy of the Sunday Times. I couldn’t help notice the headline – “Vast Majority Say Brown Must Go!” Glancing through the article I found the substance for the headline – the Times had conducted a poll on the Saturday after the election which found that 62% of those polled felt Brown should resign. Fair enough. There were, however, a couple of problems with the article. Firstly, as the Times knows, constitutionally, Brown was still Prime Minister until some other party (or coalition) could form a government. To resign would, technically, leave the country without any form of government. Not a great idea, surely. The other amusing aspect of the article was the “vast” majority who wanted Brown to resign. The Times described the Conservative’s 36% of the popular vote in the election as a “huge vote in favour of change.” Yet, this “huge” vote for the Conservatives was somewhat fewer than the 38% respondents to their own poll who would like Brown to stay on, yet that is described as a “vast” majority the other way. As they say, lies, damn lies and statistics. The real trouble, of course, is that a proportion of the British public actually believe the nonsense that Murdoch and Fox promote under the guise of “news”.

A more interesting and thoughtful analysis comes from Andrew Rawnsley’s column in this morning’s Guardian. To be fair, the Guardian endorsed the Liberal-Democrats in the election and it is certainly a centre-left newspaper. Still, they don’t generally go around claiming that 36% represents a huge vote in favour while, in the same breath suggest that 38% represents a massive failure. You can read his article here, if you are interested.

In spite of the cold, cold weather and the lack of sunshine (all of which, of course, I blame on the Conservatives), the garden continues to awaken from its winter slumbers. The wisteria is out and plentiful (and it smells gorgeously delicious) and Penelope’s borders are displaying their spring colour. A couple of photos will prove the point, perhaps.

We also ventured out yesterday to some bluebell woods at Everdon Stubbs, not far from Badby where we often go. You can find a couple of the least bad photos here.

Much love to you all,