What lies ahead….?

2018 is upon us and a new year always gives one pause. When compiling the 2017 Story Bazaar Compendium over the holiday one of the things which stood out for me was the frenetic pace of everything, especially how quickly the political landscape was changing. I suspect that this is only the beginning.

The ongoing tragi-shambles which is Brexit will continue. There is already much noise on Twitter about the Local Council elections on 3rd May ‘sending a message’ to the Tories and to Labour, ( Her Majesty’s Opposition still does not oppose Brexit and does not unequivocally state that it supports staying in the Customs Union and Single Market ) with much discussion about voting Liberal Democrat or Green, both parties which have remaining in the EU as their policy. Will this do anything other than allow the Tories in and offer support to a hard Brexit Tory government? I don’t know.

I have also encountered something entitled #Retain, a position which seems to be about retaining some of the rights which would otherwise be lost in Leaving (though one would keep all of them by not Leaving in the first place ). It is said that this is a left-wing/Momentum inspired variation, in support of the Corbyn view of Brexit.  I have no idea whether or not this is true, but it is of a piece with the further splintering of any consensus. I fear that it merely sows further division and reduces the chances of either Remaining or ensuring the least bad outcome for Britain in Leaving.

In Spain, any progress on the question of Catalan independence seems further away, with the Spanish courts ruling that Oriol Junqueras, leader of the ER party, remain in jail, because he has no intention of changing his ways (and wants to represent those who voted for him in the recent regional elections).  There is, I suppose, some logic to this legal position, however unmindful of the wider context, but it looks scandalous when compared to the Spanish courts somewhat more lenient approach to King Felipe’s brother-in-law, Inaki Urdangarin, who has been found guilty of corruption and was sentenced to six years in jail in February 2017, but has been allowed bail ‘pending appeal’. He recently went on holiday to Rome.

In the US there is the publication of Fire and Fury by Michael Wolff (2018, Little, Brown) and the apparent confirmation that what a lot of folk suspected about the current incumbent of the White House and his administration is, in fact, true.  I won’t go through the often bizarre details, but suffice to say it has prompted much discussion on social media.  The highlight of which, for me, was an ongoing ‘thread’ of new lyrics to Gilbert & Sullivan’s Major General list song from The Pirates of Penzance, with verses being contributed by various individuals.  With apologies to those who aren’t familiar with the original tune and with thanks to bob@huntthesnark, C.B.Wright @ubersoft and Robert Cragg @robertcragg I reproduce some of them here. There’s hope yet.

I am the very model of a Modern Stable Genius

I have a mighty button and no problems with my penius

I have no time for television, golf or social media

Since my brain is way way better than the best encyclopedia

I like to tweet the lies of racial grievances historical

When Russian ties are mentioned I deny them categorical

I do not feel the sting of words because I am avenious

I am the very model of a Modern Stable Genius

I’m cutting tax, I’ll build a wall, I’ll take away their medicare,

You can trust me coz I’m orange and I have the most amazing hair,

So with my total ignorance of matters heterogeneous,

I am the very model of a Modern Stable Genius.

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