Speaker Bercow to resign . . .

A very sad day for the UK . . .


The long slow replication of the German political scene of the 1930s moves on another step.

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Extraction . . .

Today was Dentist Day. A tooth that was identified some years ago as resorping itself had got to the stage where it was getting infections and being a bit of a nuisance in general. I went off to the Dentist rather dreading the experience but the anaesthetics they use now are very good and although I could feel the Dentist pushing and shoving somewhat I felt no pain whatsoever. Things did not go quite according to plan, so she called in her husband who joined in the fray and in no time at all the thing was out. I had no idea it was out and asked if they had succeeded yet ? – so they showed me the tooth, and I could see clearly the part where resorption had taken place and tooth material was absent.

They say that blogs are better when illustrated and I could bring you a photo of my poorly tooth, but on mature consideration of those of you, dear readers, who are of a nervous disposition, I rather think not.

Be grateful for small mercies I say.

I repented me of the error of my ways, so here is the present our Dentist gave me. Isn’t it nice ?

But, don’t look inside !

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Tour of Britain, Stage One ends in Kirkcudbright

Great excitement here yesterday as the long anticipated Tour of Britain finally happened. The town centre was, for all practical purposes, sealed off from Friday evening onwards so that the street furniture could be erected. Oldies like us and our neighbours just sat tight and waited for Sunday to dawn. To my amazement there was a car boot sale in the Harbour Square this morning. The dismantling of the gear and apparatus must be extremely speedy and efficient to get the town reopened, and as there was another stage occurring today based upon Kelso in the Border country. The photos on Facebook and the video above were all done by Sam Kelly who seems to be the unofficial, but extremely diligent, archiver of Kirkcudbright’s affairs.

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Sempervivums . . . always living

Left : Reinhard, Centre and Right : Noir
Sempervivum “Reinhard”
Sempervivum “Noir”
Sempervivum shoot at top left and a Sedum poked in at the top to see if it takes.
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Ian Dunt’s Blog . . .

A well written summary of yesterday in Parliament by Ian Dunt . . .

Ian Dunt

One paragraph that intrigued me was this . . .

“It seemed to fundamentally destroy his confidence. For the rest of the session he was flustered, speaking so quickly he was indecipherable, punching the air with his fist, pointing his finger angrily at the opposition, often shouting in the face of calm opponents. Given that he was selected as leader for his supposed charisma, there was precious little of it on display today.”

This sounds like the Boris Johnson of whom people say he has a foul temper when things don’t go his way, and which got a publc airing in the famous row with his current lady friend, Carrie Symonds.

By Ian Dunt
Tuesday, 3 September 2019 9:52 PM

* * * * *

It wasn’t even that close in the end. The government was defeated by a majority of 27. Twenty-one of them – an extraordinary number – were Tory rebels.

MPs had faced down the threats, one after the other. Boris Johnson had tried to cancel parliament, but now they were taking back control. He threatened to throw rebels out the party, but they did it anyway. He tried to use the vote as a chance to trigger an election, but opposition parties, including Jeremy Corbyn, saw the trap and confirmed they’d turn the bill into law first.

Johnson was the first prime minister to lose his first Commons vote since 1894. His attempt, in alliance with his advisor Dominic Cummings, to bully parliamentarians into submission, had fallen apart.

There are still battles to come. All today did was buy time for MPs to debate and vote on the bill stopping no-deal tomorrow. It seems unlikely the majority would slip away, but it’s possible. Then it goes to the Lords, where there is a chance dedicated Brexiters can try to hold it up and cut it to death. But for the moment, it seems likely to succeed.

It will be reported as a classic Remain versus Leave battle. But actually that’s not quite right. It was much bigger than that. Two visions of British governance faced each other: the overwhelmingly might of the executive, acting with the made-up legitimacy of a popular vote. And on the other side, parliamentary scrutiny – the idea the MPs people have elected must hold the government to account. Parliament won.

The rot set in early in the day. In fact, one of the main take-aways was not even the rebel victory. It was the sight of a government which, on only it’s second day in parliament, looked in total disarray.

Boris Johnson issued a statement on the G7 summit in the early afternoon. He had barely started talking before Conservative MP Phillip Lee walked across the floor of the House, turned to the right, rose up the steps and sat beside Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson.

It was a moment of high political drama. Swinson is mercenary in how she utilises these moments for the strongest possible impact. Johnson saw him, lost his trail of thought, and suddenly there was a flicker of despair in his eyes. He had a majority of one and it was now gone, right in front of him. He literally watched it walk away.

It seemed to fundamentally destroy his confidence. For the rest of the session he was flustered, speaking so quickly he was indecipherable, punching the air with his fist, pointing his finger angrily at the opposition, often shouting in the face of calm opponents. Given that he was selected as leader for his supposed charisma, there was precious little of it on display today.

Was it just his confidence or something else? Perhaps Johnson’s charm works only when he is surrounded by admirers, in Tory conference fringe events or on the after-dinner speaking circuit. The laughter buoys him up. He seems to float on it.

But now the laughter was gone. He was in the bear pit of the Commons, faced with a wall of outrage, his own party behind him silent and awkward, tearing itself apart at the seams.

A few hours later, Tory MP Oliver Letin rose to ask for an emergency standing order 24 debate. It was a unique constitutional move, a thin alley of convention which rebels bulldozed into an avenue through which they could give parliament a route into the Brexit debate. It started in the early evening, as the sun set on Westminster. In Parliament Square, a large anti-prorogation crowd gathered and started chanting.

Jacob Rees-Mogg rose for the government. It was an unspeakable disaster. It is hard to imagine a more ill-considered and inappropriate speech in any circumstances.

Not long ago, it had all seemed so jolly. Johnson’s Cabinet appointments weren’t really considered in any normal way. They were selected as trolling gags, intended to upset Remainers as much as possible and prove his Brexit virility.

But now these people had to actually perform. Mogg peppered his speech with laboriously written alliteration and expressions which seemed so dated it honestly felt like it was set four hundred years ago.

“We should recognise that the people are our masters and show us to be their lieges and servants, not to place ourselves in the position of their overlords,” he said. Incredible nonsense. “As we come to vote today I hope all members will contemplate the current constitutional confusion and consider the chaos this concatenation of circumstances could create.”

Beyond the outright preposterousness of it, his argument was both illiterate and profoundly dangerous. He was either unaware of, or pretended not to know, the basis upon which British constitutional arrangements operate. He seemed to be arguing that, because the sovereignty of parliament is based on the popular vote, and the referendum was a kind of popular vote, it could therefore overrode any decisions MPs might make. The delivery of Brexit was up to the government, which was to pursue it without challenge.

It was, in essence, a demand for total executive control, a grotesque inversion of the entire moral basis of British democracy. And apart from being ghastly, it was profoundly alienating. Tory rebels, the exact people the government was trying to get back on side, were outraged.

“I was struck by my right honourable friend, who suddenly referred to a Man for All Seasons,” rebel Dominic Grieve said, incandescent with rage. “He will recollect that Sir Thomas, when told that opposition to the king would mean death, replied: ‘Well these are but devices to frighten children.'” Grieve started rubbing one hand with the other, as if about to have a fist fight. “If he thinks the device of withdrawing the whip this evening is going to change my mind or that of my right honourable friends, he has got another thing coming. It will be treated with the contempt it deserves.”

One by one, they fell away. Until finally the vote came, and Johnson was humiliated.

What next for the Conservative party? Some of its most principled, intelligent, impressive figures now face being thrown out the party. David Gauke, who had never rebelled in his life. Ken Clarke, who has been a front bencher as long as many people talking about him have been alive. Alistair Burt, the minister’s minister. Phillip Hammond, who was chancellor just weeks ago. And Sir Nicholas Soames, Winston Churchill’s grandson.

The Conservative party is turning into something much darker, more toxic and brutal. It is now represented on the front bench by a collection of incompetents and reactionaries who cannot perform at the level government demands. Its remaining big beasts are being cast into the wilderness.

But that was of secondary importance to the constitutional fight. A dangerously populist government had tried to bully parliament into irrelevance. Parliament had fought back. For MPs, on the opposition benches, operating in line with their leadership, that will have been relatively easy. But for those 21 Tory rebels, it threatened their career, their party: everything. It required extraordinary bravery.

That sense of rebellion, that willingness to stand firm, was of the utmost historical importance.

Ian Dunt is editor of Politics.co.uk and the author of Brexit: What The Hell Happens Now?
The opinions in Politics.co.uk’s Comment and Analysis section are those of the author and are no reflection of the views of the website or its owners.
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MEPs of the UK . . . Unite !

We, the undersigned UK Members of the European Parliament, representing England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, declare as follows:
“The proroguing, or shutting down the UK Parliament in order to limit scrutiny of the implications of a potential no deal Brexit is completely unacceptable.”

In our previous abode in NE England our MEP was Jude Kirton-Darling, a Labour Party member. I am not a member of that Party, but I have to say she was and still is an excellent MEP and shows everyone else how the job of an MEP or a Westminster MP should be done. Now, here in Scotland, our MEPs are all from the SNP, they work as a group and send out a regular newsletter. It seems such a simple idea, and yet very few Westminster MPs do this and in general their communication with their constituents is minimal to nil.

Judy Kirton-Darling has today posted on Facebook as follows which I think is a good example of the way people can get together in times of dire emergency if they have a mind to . . .

Today a cross-party group of UK Members of the European Parliament has signed a declaration committing themselves to work together in the face of brexit, and have called upon continental colleagues to support their efforts.

Meeting in Brussels, representatives of the Labour, Green, Liberal Democrat, Alliance, Plaid Cymru and Scottish National Party were able to sign “The Brussels Declaration” stating:

“We, the undersigned UK Members of the European Parliament, representing England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, declare as follows:

“The proroguing, or shutting down the UK Parliament in order to limit scrutiny of the implications of a potential no deal Brexit is completely unacceptable. Limiting the opportunity for MPs to debate, vote and crucially, to legislate, cannot be the response to a referendum in which Leave campaigned for the UK Parliament to “take back control”.

“In the continuation of the spirit that UK MEPs have worked in since the 2016 referendum we commit ourselves to continue to work across party lines and declare that it is vital that MPs do likewise.

“We were all elected just four months ago with clear mandates. We are working together. We call upon our European friends and colleagues to assist domestic efforts in keeping the door open to us.”

The Declaration was signed by:

Labour Party: Richard Corbett MEP; Seb Dance MEP; Jude Kirton-Darling MEP; Neena Gill MEP; John Howarth MEP; Theresa Griffin MEP; Jackie Jones MEP; Julie Ward MEP; Rory Palmer MEP; Claude Moraes MEP.

Liberal Democrat Party: Catherine Bearder MEP; Caroline Voaden MEP; Chris Davies MEP; Phil Bennion MEP; Jane Brophy MEP; Judith Bunting MEP; Dinesh Dhamija MEP; Barbara Ann Gibson MEP; Anthony Hook MEP; Martin Horwood MEP; Shaffaq Mohammed MEP; Lucy Nethsingha MEP; Bill Newton Dunn MEP; Sheila Ritchie MEP; Irina Von Wiese MEP.

Green Party: Molly Scott Cato MEP; Alexandra Phillips MEP; Magid Magid MEP; Scott Ainslie MEP; Ellie Chowns MEP; Gina Dowding MEP; Catherine Rowett MEP.

Alliance Party: Naomi Long MEP.

Plaid Cymru: Jill Evans MEP.

Scottish National Party: Alyn Smith MEP; Aileen Mcleod MEP; Christian Allard MEP.

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Sunday, 3rd September 1939 . . .

We, my father and mother and myself aged 5 years and almost 9 months listened to Mr. Chamberlain on the wireless, and this is what we heard . . .

“I am speaking to you from the Cabinet Room at 10, Downing Street.

This morning the British Ambassador in Berlin handed the German Government a final note stating that unless we heard from them by 11 o’clock, that they were prepared at once to withdraw their troops from Poland, a state of war would exist between us.

I have to tell you now that no such undertaking has been received, and that consequently this country is at war with Germany.

You can imagine what a bitter blow it is to me that all my long struggle to win peace has failed. Yet I cannot believe that there is anything more or anything different that I could have done and that would have been more successful.

Up to the very last it would have been quite possible to have arranged a peaceful and honourable settlement between Germany and Poland, but Hitler would not have it.

He had evidently made up his mind to attack Poland whatever happened; and although he now says he put forward reasonable proposals which were rejected by the Poles, that is not a true statement.

The proposals were never shown to the Poles nor to us; and though they were announced in a German broadcast on Thursday night, Hitler did not wait to hear comments on them, but ordered his troops to cross the Polish frontier the next morning.

His action shows convincingly that there is no chance of expecting that this man will ever give up his practice of using force to gain his will. He can only be stopped by force, and we and France are today, in fulfillment of our obligations, going to the aid of Poland, who is so bravely resisting this wicked and unprovoked attack upon her people. We have a clear conscience. We have done all that any country could do to establish peace. The situation in which no word given by Germany’s ruler could be trusted and no people or country could feel itself safe has become intolerable.

And now that we have resolved to finish it, I know that you will all play your part with calmness and courage.

At such a moment as this the assurances of support which we have received from the Empire are a source of profound encouragement to us.

When I have finished speaking certain detailed announcements will be made on behalf of the Government. Give these your close attention.

The Government have made plans under which it will be possible to carry on the work of the nation in the days of stress and strain that may be ahead. But these plans need your help.

You may be taking your part in the fighting services or as a volunteer in one of the branches of civil defence. If so you will report for duty in accordance with the instructions you receive.

You may be engaged in work essential to the prosecution of war for the maintenance of the life of the people – in factories, in transport, in public utility concerns or in the supply of other necessaries of life. If so, it is of vital importance that you should carry on with your jobs.

Now may God bless you all and may He defend the right, for it is evil things that we shall be fighting against – brute force, bad faith, injustice, oppression and persecution – and against them I am certain that the right will prevail.”


For me, of course, it was all a big unknown although the preparations had been going on for some time, so it was not entirely unexpected. Now, at the age of 85 and 9 months I know a great deal more about the first World War and have visited many of the sites along the Western Front. But for my parents on that day 80 years ago it must have been awful. For them that war was only 20 years ago and they both knew friends and family who had been killed. They referred to the “Retreat from Mons”, “the Somme” and “Passchendaele” quite often and soon after the broadcast finished I remember my mother said, “Well, I just hope to God there’s not another Somme”. To her it was the epitome of dreadfulness.

Soon after that the air raid warning went and I thought, “Cor, that was quick”, but apart from a yellow Tiger Moth flying over, nothing happened. I don’t remember anything of the rest of the day. We just got on with things in as normal a way as possible for the next nearly six years and then fell out of the real war into the Cold War which was the background to the first part of my adult life.

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The Raiders Road . . .

The Dee in the Galloway Forest Park

The Raiders Road is a track through the Galloway Forest following the line of the River Dee as it emerges from the Clatteringshaws dam and flows down to Loch Ken. The video is of a pool in the river just north west of Loch Stroan.

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Plant of unknown provenance . . .

Plant of unknown provenance . . . 001
Plant of unknown provenance . . . 002
Plant of unknown provenance . . . 003

Another surprise to all, self sown probably, out of old compost. I have posted these on Facebook and done a reverse Google Image search – which produced many suggestions, but nothing convincing.

Update : 2 September 2019.

My New Zealand friend opines that this is Verbena Hastata “Rosea” – and looking on Google images and elsewhere I think she is correct. I have thanked her.

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Slightly Foxed is out . . .

A right rattlin’ good read . . .

Slightly Foxed Quarterly . . .

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