Post Election Thoughts (And Other Stuff)

Some thoughts on GE2019, cricket, an autism related twitter thread and of course a few photographs.

INTRODUCTION

I am not going to relive Thursday night and Friday morning here. I am going to look to the future.

LOOKING AHEAD

After the carnage of the 2019 General Election Johnson has emerged with a substantial majority, Northern Ireland has a majority of non-unionist MPs for the first time ever and Scotland saw the expected SNP tsunami. Labour has fewer MPs than at any time since 1935 – 203 – but also more female MPs than any party has ever had (see here), the Liberal Democrats had a disaster relieved only by Sarah Jane Olney winning Richmond Park from Zac Goldsmith, and the Greens failed to increase their MP count, but did get 850,000 votes in total, in yet another election that showed FPTP in a terrible light. Those MPs who switched parties and were standing for a new party for the first time all lost, though the vile Tory masquerading as Lib Dem Sam Gyimah (aided by a mendacious article in the Observer on the Sunday before the election) did enough to cost Emma Dent Coad Kensington and Chelsea.

The Liberal Democrats and Labour are both looking for new leaders. The likely pick for the LDs is Layla Moran. Labour need to work hard to regain trust in the North, and for that reason I think they need to select a leader who is not London based. For me (although this is not a prediction) the obvious choice, given that Laura Pidcock was among the election casualties, is Angela Rayner, with another northerner as deputy (possibly Chi Onwurah, the first MP to be officially confirmed as such at this election, and a north-easterner to go with north-westerner Rayner). Among Labour’s few bright spots was the election of 23 year old Nadia Whittome in Nottingham – and she has immediately announced that she will be taking only £35,000 of her £79,000 salary, the rest going to local charities. As this piece in The Mirror makes clear she is doing this not to say that MPs are overpaid but to say that nurses, teachers and the like are underpaid.

Labour, LDs and Greens are going to have to get better at working together to do anything in the ‘lesser Britain’ comprising England and Wales that we are likely to see in the not distant future (Scotland will go independent one way or another, and a united Ireland is firmly on the cards – note that the DUP’s Westminster leader Nigel Dodds lost his seat to John Finucane (son of murdered lawyer Pat Finucane).

CRICKET

England Women have been playing Pakistan Women in Kuala Lumpur. In the two ODIs that had enough play for a definite result England won comfortably both times. In the first openers Dani Wyatt (promoted, as following the retirement of Sarah Taylor, Amy Jones is now first choice keeper and has dropped to no 5 in the order) and Tammy Beaumont both racked up centuries, Kate Cross took four wickets and debutant spinner Sarah Glenn took 2-38. In the second match Natalie Sciver scored 100 not out, Heather Knight 86 and Fran Wilson a blistering 85 not out off 49 balls in a total of 327-4 and Pakistan were all out for exactly 200 in 44.5 overs. Anya Shrubsole, Sophie Ecclestone, Knight, and once again Glenn (2-37 this time) each took two wickets.

Meanwhile, although it has been spoiled by rain, test cricket has returned to Pakistan itself for the first time in a decade, with Sri Lanka (it was an attack on their team bus in Lahore that led to the removal of test matches from that country) the visitors.

In blazing Perth New Zealand have become the latest visitors to discover that Australia is a tough place to go – the home side began by racking up 416, with Marnus Labuschagne racking up his third successive test century, and then dismissed the Kiwis for 166, and declining to enforce the follow-on had reached 167-6, a lead of 417 by the close. Labuschagne managed a beggarly 50 this time round, with Joe Burns making 53. Assuming that Australia do not declare overnight Messrs Wade and Cummins are in occupation.

AN AUTISM RELATED THREAD

Steve Silberman, author of THE definitive history of Autism, Neurotribes, has produced this twitter thread about Greta Thunberg, Time “Person of the Year” for 2019:

A thread on the historical significance of @GretaThunberg being chosen as the first proudly autistic @Time Person of the Year. The fact that autistic folks often speak the truth bluntly, even rudely at times, is often framed as a social deficit. [1/7]
In Greta’s case, her relentless reiteration of the facts of #climate change, and the importance of science, has made her a focus of incandescent hatred by the same pompous liars and paid-for buffoons who are selling the earth from under the feet of their own grandchildren. [2/7]
The “autistic” qualities of Greta’s war on the status quo – her visceral distrust of rationalizations and vacuous rhetoric – are precisely the qualities all humanity must emulate at a time when global political discourse is dominated by nonsense and gaslighting. [3/7]
As the author of a history of autism, I’ve said for years that gut-level loathing for unfairness and injustice could practically be added to the diagnostic criteria for autism. At this point in human history, when lies and denial of facts are dooming future generations… [4/7]
Greta’s monotropic insistence on “walking her talk,” and her impatience even for vacuous praise instead of meaningful action, are vivid demonstrations of the role neurodivergent people can play in the advancement of human civilization. In the case of #climatechange… [5/7]
the “social deficits” are all on the neurotypical side, on Greta’s opponents and critics, who use misogyny, ableism, and ageism against her. They lie for a living, deceiving millions of fellow neurotypicals in the process. [6/7]
The success of climate disinformation campaigns in sowing seeds of doubt about science is proof of a potentially fatal “truth dysfunction” in non-autistic people. Want to know the role of #neurodiversity in our collective future? We may not have one without it. Go, Greta! [7/7]

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

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This giant monopoly board is in the foyer of the Norfolk Hospice, Tapping House (I went there on Monday to tell them my story for use in subsequent publicity materials).

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My favourite set on this board – note the Pall Mall equivalent, the seals at Blakeney.
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About the only time you will see this in Norfolk!

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Dream Cabinet

INTRODUCTION

This post is my response to Richard Murphy of Tax Research UK’s challenge to come up with a dream cabinet. I do not quite have a full  cabinet here but I do have names, positions and explanations and/ or justifications for all my choices. I will start by listing the names and positions, and will then go into a little more detail in the next section about my reasons.

THE SELECTIONS

These are the positions I have managed to fill:

Prime Minister – Debbie Abrahams

Deputy Prime Minister – Angela Rayner

Chancellor of the Exchequer – Richard Murphy

Home Secretary – Kerry-Anne Mendoza

Foreign Secretary – Clive Lewis

Business Secretary – Rebecca Long-Bailey

Health Secretary – Jo Rust

Environment – Caroline Lucas

Transport – Thomas Sutcliffe

Neurodiversity Minister – Paddy-Joe Moran (askpergers.wordpress.com)

Education Secretary – Michael Rosen

Arts – Anna Bohlin

Sports – Elizabeth Ammon (@legsidelizzy)

Scottish Secretary – Mhairi Black

Disabilities – Paula Peters (DPAC)

Science – Patricia Fara

Work and Pensions – Mike Sivier

Women and Equality – Kate Osamor

Welsh Secretary – Leanne Wood

Defence – Emily Thornberry

Housing and Planning – Sian Berry

We now move on to the the….

EXPLANATIONS/ JUSTIFICATIONS

I will take each position in the order in which they appear above:

Prime Minister – Debbie Abrahams

Debbie Abrahams has impressed me ever since she entered the shadow cabinet to the extent that I was determined to put her in a top position, and in the end I opted for the top position for her.

Deputy Prime Minister – Angela Rayner

Another who has been consistently impressive since her promotion to the front bench. From what I read of her performance on Question time when she had to contend with three very right wing fellow panelists, a Liberal Democrat and the mloderator, Mr Arch-Establishment Dimbleby (I was not able to watch for myself as I refuse to let the BBC have any of my money) she seems to have done a fine job of further underlining her credentials.

Chancellor of the Exchequer – Richard Murphy

We need his kind of economic vision as a matter of urgency, and how better to get it and than have the man himself as chancellor of the exchequer.

Home Secretary – Kerry-Anne Mendoza

Editor of The Canary and author of many splendid articles. I am sufficiently impressed by what I have seen of her that I have no doubts about putting her straight into one of the four so-called “great offices of state”.

Foreign Secretary – Clive Lewis

He was always going to feature somewhere in my dream cabinet, and I have decided that this is the right role for him.

Business Secretary – Rebecca Long-Bailey

Someone else who has said a lot of the right things since joining the front bench.

Health Secretary – Jo Rust

The Labour Party candidate for Northwest Norfolk (my constituency) at the last general election, active in many roles and a passionate supporter of the NHS. Exactly the right kind of person to take on the formidable task of repairing the ruin caused by the likes of Lansley and Hunt.

Environment – Caroline Lucas

I want environmental policy in the hands of someone who is committed to protecting the environment, and to me no one ticks that box more definitively than Ms Lucas.

Transport – Thomas Sutcliffe

I am aware that it is always risky for selectors to pick themselves, but I believe I can justify this one. I have a lifetime’s knowledge of and commitment to public transport. Although I am creator of a London transport themed website, London would actually be at the back of the queue for attention from me is at it is less badly off transport-wise than the rest of the country. 

Neurodiversity Minister – Paddy-Joe Moran

Paddy-Joe is autistic, the author of several books about autism and also writes the askpergers blog. Having decided to revive the idea of this post (see here for more details) it was a question of who to select for it. I wanted my Neurodiversity Minister to be neurodiverse themselves and in the end I went for Paddy-Joe.

Education Secretary – Michael Rosen

He would bring a lifetime’s knowledge and passionate commitment to the post. Education in this country would improve massively with Michael Rosen in this role.

Arts – Anna Bohlin

I do not know whether we could persuade her to come over from Sweden, but I am sure that she would be excellent in this role and would work well with her cabinet colleagues. For more details about her consult her blog

Sports – Elizabeth Ammon

Also known by hew twitter handle – legsidelizzy. In addition to her cricket writing and commentaries she has made some very sound political points. 

Scottish Secretary – Mhairi Black

Always assuming Scotland have not yet declared indepence, I would want Mhairi Black, who is the youngest but also one of the most impressive MPs currently in the house, in my cabinet, and this would seem the ideal role for her.

Disabilities – Paula Peters

I have gone for someone who is disabled and heavily involved in DPAC (Disabled People Against Cuts) for this important role.

Science – Patricia Fara

Author of a book on the history of science, a scientist herself and an impressive speaker (I have heard her give a talk here in King’s Lynn). She got the nod ahead of Brian Cox because I decided that I wanted a woman in charge of science policy.

Work and Pensions – Mike Sivier

Author of the Vox Political blog, carer and very knowledgeable about the misdeeds of the DWP under the Tories he would be an excellent person to undertake the task of putting this area back on track.

Women and Equality – Kate Osamor

Like several of my other choices she has impressed ever since taking her place on the front bench, and she would be well suited to this role.

Welsh Secretary – Leanne Wood

Occasionally sounds too excitable for her own good, but says a lot of good things, and I believe would do them in this role.

Defence – Emily Thornberry

As shadow defence secretary (before being moved to shadow foreign secretary) she was quite impressive.

Housing and Planning – Sian Berry

She ran an excellent campaign for Mayor of London which deserved better reward than third place (in particular, it was a travesty that she ended up behind Goldsmith after he ran such a disgraceful campaign, but also for my money Khan could have had no complaints had she won outright). This is a position I would definitely want in the hands of someone thoroughly committed to protecting the environment. To reuse a remark I originally made as a comment in response to one of Anna’s posts

Preservation of nature needs to be at the heart of planning decisions, not an optional (and often despised) extra. Your battle in Trosa is a battle for all of us everywhere.

PHOTOGRAPHS

After all that text here are some photographs for a bit of light relief…

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The first seven pictures are from yesterday – this is the East Rudham (my parents’ village) egg shop

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Starting with this one my remaining pictures are from today.

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