Back in July, and indeed long before then, many of us were warning that we had to spend the summer working incredibly hard to ensure that the UK would be able to be resilient in the face of the likely rise in COVID-19 infections. It seems instead that the government took its eye of the ball, hoped that COVID-19 would somehow go away, and instead concentrated on trying to impose its will on the European Union over the Brexit trade negotiations.
In September (the 18th), when I was feeling particularly disgruntled with the incompetence and stupidity of our government, I therefore posted on Facebook a list of some of the things that I feared might happen over the next year under the heading “Now is the winter of our discontent… (Shakespeare, Richard III). I wonder how many of these will coincide in the UK over the next few months”. Having been for a long autumnal walk today (the picture above), the day after our Prime Minister announced a new 4-week lockdown from 5th November, I just thought that I would also post them here as a record of what happens over the next few months. I so hope that I am wrong, but I will update the content periodically to see what happens: green means that fortunately my fears were ill-founded; red indicates that sadly I was correct; and pink indicates that there is some evidence that we are heading this way! I should stress that these are not predictions, but instead imaginations of what a “perfect-storm” would look like. Already, our government has indebted future generations for years to come. There is no doubt that things will get very much worse before there is even a glimmer of hope that they will improve.
Dramatic increase in serious COVID-19 cases leading to overwhelming pressure on hospitals;
Crisis over Brexit negotiations resulting in serious trade disruptions and collapse in value of the pound (not least on 20th December, in large part because of coincidence of rapid surge in new COVID-19 strain with stalled Brexit negotiations, Port of Dover announces ferry terminal closed to traffic leaving UK; massive lorry queues at Dover as borders closed; however agreement on a Brexit deal on 24th December slowly improved matters; but subsequently border queues and bureaucratic changes led to further problems in January 2021 as evidenced with BBC report on M&S, shirt exports in The Times, and Michael Gove the Cabinet Office Minister stating on 8 January 2021 that there will be significant disruption at borders)
Influenza pandemic (partly because of insufficient vaccines available) coinciding with COVID-19 pandemic causing additional crisis for NHS;
Food shortages (resulting from trade disruptions) leading to rising thefts from supermarkets and shops; (BBC News: trade disruptions at Felixstowe, 14th November 2020; BBC News: Brexit increasing food supply chain costs)
Serious flooding in much of lowland England as a result of heavy rains in October and November (BBC reports heavy rainfall and risk of flooding, 3rd October; BBC also reports homes evacuated in South West after downpours and flooding on 19th December; and serious flooding in Bedfordshire and elsewhere reported on Christmas Day – BBC)
Increasing power outages resulting from gas shortages, lack of sunshine for solar power, and storm damage;
Standstill caused by heavy early snowfalls in late December (Glad that this did not happen)
Mass graves dug in major cities because crematoria and mortuaries are overcome by demand (not yet, but overflow mortuaries were being created in early 2021 – BBC News: emergency mortuary in a Surrey woodland, 11th January 2021)
Very significant riots as more and more people realise that Brexit was a huge mistake;
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II dies of COVID-19 complications, and mass demonstrations against Prince Charles lead to his resignation and the declaration of a Republic;
Northern Ireland joins a united Eire;
Scotland and Wales declare unilateral independence from the UK, and form a wide-ranging mutual interest pact…
Who will be the sun of York to turn this winter into glorious summer?
I have been trying to resist succumbing to writing about the referendum on Scotland’s future taking place on the 18th September, but given the number of people in Sri Lanka, Samoa and Bangladesh who have asked me for my thoughts in recent weeks, I cannot resist jotting down a few reflections. Fundamentally, I think it would be a real shame were Scotland to leave Great Britain, but if that’s what the majority of Scots want, then it’s their choice! Both Scotland and England will be the weaker for it, but I have absolutely no doubt that the net effect on Scotland’s life and economy will be very much worse than will be the impact on England and Wales. So, if the Scots who are allowed to vote do indeed vote to leave Great Britain, then good riddance to them!
The following seem to be relevant points:
The Scots and the English, along with the Welsh, have all contributed together to the rich diversity of Britain over many centuries, and the creation of independent countries would, without doubt, reduce the richness of such interaction to the detriment of all.
The campaign by those wanting independence has been strong on emotion, and weak on economic rigour; those in favour of keeping the two countries together have been much stronger on the economic arguments, and weaker on the emotion. I have always thought that it might just be that the emotion wins.
Those in favour of a “yes” vote have done all they can to rig the elections in their favour! I’m amazed that they were allowed to get away with lowering the voting age to include everyone above 16, thereby seeking to increase their share of the vote on the assumption that more young people will vote in favour of independence!
Given that the vote has implications for everyone who lives in Great Britain, I feel quite strongly that everyone should have been allowed to vote, and not just those Scots living in Scotland. However, I’m not sure how this would have affected the result! I suspect that many English people have become rather fed up with the Scots as the campaign has worn on, and would actually have voted to kick them out!
Another ploy to increase the share of the “yes” vote has undoubtedly been to restrict those eligible to vote mainly to people living in Scotland. What about all of the Scots living in England or Wales? Again, I assume that because they live in another part of Britain, many of these would want to keep Britain united.
The statement about who will be allowed to become a Scottish citizen on independence is not exactly clear and straightforward! Many of us living in Britain have multiple ancestors, and have as much right to be called Scottish as English, Welsh or Irish!
I’m amused that England and Scotland actually came together in the form of a personal union when James VI of Scotland also came to rule England as James I on the death of Queen Elizabeth without issue in 1603. In one sense, therefore, if Scotland leaves, those of us in England can at last claim we have overthrown the incompetent and corrupt Scottish kings!
Scots should think very carefully about the viability of their proposed state. With only around 5.3 million people, compared with England’s more than 56 million, it is hard to see how the Scots will find a large enough market to provide the spending power and tax revenue to enable the country to prosper.
I find many of the assertions of those supporting the “yes” campaign to be based on rather dubious evidence or logic. To take but three examples, the uncertainty over what its currency will be (especially since England has said no to their use of the pound), the likelihood of being accepted into the European Union (especially since countries like Spain that do not want “nationalities” such as Catalunya also to gain independence will refuse permission), and declining revenues from North Sea oik and gas, all seem to make it very uncertain that Scots will continue to prosper as an independent state.
I think it was a very retrograde step for the current British government to make so many offers for further powers to be given to the Scottish Government were they to vote to remain by a small margin within Britain. To my mind, these have gone too far, and will eventually lead to further fragmentation of Britain. Underlying my view here is simply the belief that the cultural richness of Britain has been very heavily influenced by so many good things from people living in all of its different regions that to cut one of these off will be detrimental to those living elsewhere. We have much more to gain from being together, than from living separately. Furthermore, such additional benefits will in turn undoubtedly lead to other parts of Britain, such as Wales, Cornwall, Yorkshire and the Revolutionary Workers Republic of Virginia Water, seeking yet further powers, that will yet further fragment our integral island.
My hunch is also that Scotland, given its size, will be relatively insignificant on the global stage in the future, and will not actually be able much to influence international agendas. Perhaps, though, this is what the Scots who vote in favour actually want: to be nobodies. To be sure, fragmented, the rest of Britain will be weakened, but it seems likely that England will indeed remain a relatively much more dominant player on the international stage.
There is so much more that I could write. Like many, I had hoped and thought that the “yes” vote would have been weaker than it appears to be, and that the rich diversity of Britain would be maintained through a strong “no”vote. The likely outcome of the vote, though, would now seem to be too close to call. I will indeed feel sad should those Scots permitted to vote do indeed selfishly decide for independence, but at the same time I hope to live long enough to be quietly happy when most of them live to regret such a decision!