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Francis’s papacy has been a strange one from the start.

However, over the last year, his meet-and-greets have produced further odd behaviours.

Either he is messing with faithful Catholics or he doesn’t feel worthy of the papacy.

I mention the latter, because as the video immediately following shows, he doesn’t seem to want to receive the respect of the faithful. A bit like a bad guy telling a good woman:

You don’t want to love me. Honest. Just go away.

The papal ring

Centuries ago, visitors to the Pope kissed his foot rather than a ring.

Everyone knows that kissing the papal ring is a deep sign of respect for the office of Pope.

However, on March 25, 2019, the Pope appeared to be playing chicken with worshippers after a Mass in Loreto, Italy.

Here’s the video, which independent journalist Ezra Levant revived on New Year’s Day, for reasons explained in the next section of this post:

Either let people kiss the ring or announce in the beginning that handshakes are preferred. Who would have objected? No one.

In the event, he kept pulling his hand away. It’s really disgusting to watch. They approach reverently. After all, it’s not every day that one meets Pontifex. He waited until they were really close to his hand then yanked it out of their reach. He smiled at them, as if he were playing a game — one that he always wins.

For some, it must have been bewildering, even embarrassing, as the BBC reported (emphases mine):

During a 53-second period, Francis snapped his hand away from 19 people trying to bow and kiss his ring. One particularly unfortunate man ended up kissing his own hand after the pope suddenly withdrew from the greeting.

How sad for him.

However, the Beeb said that this 53-second period followed a ten-minute period of greeting those assembled:

Official Vatican TV footage shows that Francis stood in a receiving line for around 13 minutes and received (by my count) at least 113 monks, nuns, and parishioners – either individually or in pairs.

No one appeared to offer any instruction on how to greet him. During the first 10 minutes, 14 people shook Francis’s hand without bowing down to kiss his ring.

In this time, 41 people bowed down towards Francis’ hands, either making the symbolic gesture of kissing his ring, or actually kissing the ring itself.

The Pope did not protest.

Nine went even further. They bowed and kissed his ring, and then embraced him as well (one particularly devout monk outmatched everyone else by kissing both of the Pope’s hands.)

Then:

After the first 10 minutes, the Pope’s behaviour changed.

That’s when he began withdrawing his hand.

Although the BBC article stated was titled ‘Pope’s ring-kissing controversy not what it seems’, nothing in it explained why that was the case.

On March 28, ITV reported the reason in the damage control that the Vatican had to undertake:

Pope Francis has set the record straight as to why he pulled his hand away from worshippers eager to kiss his ring, saying the reason was “very simple: hygiene”.

After greeting a long line of faithful at the Holy House of Loreto, an Italian pilgrimage site, the Pope reportedly started feeling concerned about the spread of germs.

Vatican spokesman Alessandro Gisotti explained the bizarre footage, saying the Pope was concerned about hygiene when he began pulling his hand away to discourage people from kissing his ring.

“The Holy Father told me that the motivation was very simple: hygiene,” Gisotti said to reporters, adding: “He wants to avoid the risk of contagion for the people, not for him.”

Gisotti also said that Francis is fine with ring-kissing in small groups.

Wouldn’t it have been easier to just have said so in the beginning? He would have seen how many people were there.

Does he have ambivalent feelings about wearing the Ring of the Fisherman?

On March 26 — two days before the hygiene statement emerged — The Guardian reported the following:

“Sometimes he likes it, sometimes he does not. It’s really as simple as that,” said a close aide to the pope who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The aide added he was “amused” by all the reaction.

I thought as much.

A Guardian opinion piece on March 27 reinforced this impression:

as so often with Francis, the messages are mixed: according to the Vatican, he sometimes doesn’t mind his ring (the so-called “fisherman’s ring”, which recalls St Peter, who Catholics believe was the first pope), and at other times he doesn’t like it at all. Which makes it a bit tricky for people like those gathered in Loreto the other day: to kiss or not to kiss? It seemed like some sort of strange parlour game, with some people seemingly allowed to touch his hand with their lips, while others had it snatched away.

On March 28, the Catholic Herald confirmed the pope’s ambiguity about his ring.

Let’s keep in mind that Francis has no problem kissing non-Catholics, though:

Not surprisingly, the faithful are unhappy with the contradictory behaviour — and him. We might not endorse each of the following comments in full but can nonetheless empathise with their feelings:

The slapped woman, following the anti-violence sermon

On New Year’s Eve, the Pope had a bit of a walkabout in Saint Peter’s Square.

Earlier that day, he had celebrated a Mass for the World Day of Peace.

Oh, the irony.

During the walkabout, a woman grabbed his arm. We know nothing about her, except that she felt passionately about meeting Pontifex, ‘the bridge’ between Catholics and Christ. She might have travelled thousands of miles to be there at that moment. We also do not know what she said to him. We might never know. In any event, she did not want him to pass her by.

This is what happened. He slapped her hand twice, turned on his heel and stormed off to another part of the crowd:

Comments on this tweet were overwhelmingly sympathetic to the pontiff.

However, comments on another tweet with the same video criticised his reaction. I particularly agree with the first one:

Yes, he apologised in a sermon condemning violence against women the next day. In the post-Vatican II world, Catholics call New Year’s Day The Solemnity of Mary rather than the traditional Naming of Jesus.

The Daily Mail has part of the transcript and photos of his encounter the evening before:

He contended that if we want a better world in the new year, we should treat women with dignity. He added that involving women in decision-making is key to making humanity more peaceful and united.

In his homily during Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica, Francis decried ‘how many times women’s bodies are sacrificed on the profane altar of advertisements, of profit, of pornography.’ He lamented that while women are in his words ‘the sources of life,’ they are continually offended, beaten, raped, forced into prostitution’ or forced to have abortions.

Francis praised women as ‘donors and mediators of peace,’ and urged that they should become ‘fully associated’ with decision-making in order to make the world more united and at peace.

‘A conquest for women is a conquest for the whole of humanity,’ he said.

Oh, well, at least he apologised before Mass:

‘We lose patience many times,’ Francis confessed.

‘It happens to me too. I apologise for the bad example given yesterday,’ the head of the Catholic church said before celebrating Mass at the Vatican.

Still, with everything going on in Hong Kong, one would think he would have been more sensitive emotionally to that lady. If she is from there, it is hard to blame her for being fraught. She might have wanted to give him a general prayer intention.

Seminarians are taught how to interact with the public. He has been a clergyman long enough to know how to handle unexpected situations.

Then again, he was never much good with the mothers in Argentina when their children went missing during the military junta known as the Dirty War (1976-1983). It was a dangerous and sorrowful time for them. They gathered one day a week at the Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires and were known as the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo. As a prominent priest in Buenos Aires, he was of no help to them — or even one father — in interceding with the government at that time, even when contacted (see 1977 letter to the father of Estela de la Cuadra).

As of 2013, he made no move to open up Church archives to see if they show any information about the Dirty War and missing persons, often taken to prison camps or killed.

In 2018, he merely offered a prayer for the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo.

For someone so interested in social justice — and women, apparently — one would think the Pope, an Argentinian, could do much better.

One year after President Trump put more stringent immigration controls in place along the southern US border, the number of migrants has been dropping.

On January 6, 2020, Issues & Insights (I&I) reported (emphases mine):

Last week, 18 people crossed the border illegally into Arizona hoping they could exploit a loophole in U.S. asylum policy to stay in the country. Instead, they found themselves shipped back to Mexico while their asylum claims are reviewed

The 18 migrants were sent back to Mexico thanks to a policy President Donald Trump implemented that goes by the official name of “Migrant Protection Protocols” (MPP), but more colloquially known as “Remain in Mexico.” First adopted a year ago, the administration has been working with Mexico to steadily expand it. The Nogales port of entry south of Tucson, Arizona, where the 18 were sent, is the site seventh to be included.

Before this policy went into effect, illegal immigrant families knew that if they crossed the border and claimed asylum, they’d effectively get a free pass. Immigration officials would release them into the U.S. within 20 days, on the promise that they would show up for their court date months in the future. Few bother to return. This policy was dubbed “Catch and Release” for a reason.

Now, they must wait in Mexico while immigration judges review their cases.

This has happened without the ‘wall’ (generally, a tall steel and cement-reinforced fence) in place, although that will be built, too.

Results have been incredible:

The number of apprehensions at the southwest border plummeted from 144,000 in May 2019 to just 42,649 in November – the last month for which the government has data. The number of families caught crossing illegally went from 84,486 in May to a mere 9,000 in November.

As the El Paso Times put it, “the policy has proved to be a virtual wall.”

The article, citing the Wall Street Journal, says that successes have occurred elsewhere, too:

Border crossings plummeted in most other areas of the border over the same period.

The I&I article says that the Trump administration has used a multi-pronged approach to border control, including international co-operation and tighter asylum application rules:

Last July, the administration issued a rule denying asylum to anyone who crossed another country before getting to the U.S. border if they didn’t seek asylum in that country first. This policy directly attacks the migrant caravans traversing Mexico. The administration has also struck deals with Central American countries that let the U.S. return asylum seekers to Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador.

The administration has tightened up what counts as a “credible fear” claim for asylum seekers. At one detention facility, the number passing the credible fear claim plunged from 97% to just 10%.

Trump’s threat to impose stiff tariffs on Mexico unless it got serious about border control also made a huge difference, with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador suddenly sending troops to detain migrants.

Also:

A Government Accountability Office report released in December found that arrests climbed 34% from 2015 to 2018, detentions went up 35%, and removals rose 13%.

Who benefits from these changes?

Americans who have been shut out of the job market:

As we noted in this space recently, it’s been Americans who’ve gained work filling jobs that would have been taken by illegals.

In August 2019, ICE removed many illegals from Mississippi who were working at chicken processing factories. Americans applied for the jobs in droves, as Breitbart reported on August 13:

Roughly 150 locals attended an August 12 job fair to apply for jobs at the Koch Foods’ plants in Mississippi.

The fair was run after the August 7 removal of 243 alleged illegal migrants in two of the company’s chicken processing plants, according to local authorities.

Neil Monro’s article for Breitbart notes that Americans earn more once illegal workers are removed from employment:

… wages have spiked upwards for Americans when employers were forced to give up their illegal workforces.

Black employment also improves when illegals are no longer working. This welcome development will boost the American president’s favourability further, as the following tweet and replies to it indicate (click on original tweet to read more):

President Trump is doing the right thing.

I was unsure about his ‘wall’ idea in 2016, but, living overseas, had no idea how bad the southern border problem was.

As is so often said about him, ‘Promises made. Promises kept.’

What a relief for the American people: a president who truly does have their interests at heart.

Boris Johnson issued a brief but rousing address to the nation on New Year’s Eve.

He looks forward to an ‘exhilarating decade’ ahead as we enter the 2020s:

People admire his enthusiasm, gumption and optimism, so lacking in the past few Prime Ministers — and Britain as a whole.

I wish him all the best as he attempts to unite the nation, particularly post-Brexit.

I am also pleased that protecting Christians is on his agenda, dating back to his days as Foreign Secretary under Theresa May. The following tweet is from last July, when the Conservative leadership race was going on:

He also mentioned the subject in his first Christmas address to the nation, which is more than the Archbishop of Canterbury managed in his New Year’s greeting.

May God bless our Prime Minister in 2020!

This year, Boris Johnson spent his Christmas as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland.

On Christmas Eve, the Conservative Party released this entertaining video of Boris and his father Stanley making mince pies. Boris explains how mince pies are a perfect metaphor for Brexit. There’s nothing ‘sensitive’ about this video. In fact, ‘Mince pies (with Boris)’ is great fun. Watch:

Boris has a lot of support:

Shortly before Christmas, the Prime Minister spent a day in Estonia and served a festive lunch to British troops stationed there. The Express reported:

The Prime Minister dished out turkey and Yorkshire puddings to servicemen at the Tapa military base near the capital Tallinn on a one-day trip to the Baltic state.

The base is home to 850 British troops from the Queen’s Royal Hussars who lead the Nato battlegroup along with personnel from Estonia, France and Denmark.

He said the troops were the “most vivid and powerful possible symbol and expression” of Britain’s commitment to the security and stability of the whole of Europe.

He said: “It’s an incredible thing for me to come to Estonia because when I was a kid – when I was your age – Estonia was part of the Soviet Union and we’re now here helping to protect Estonia’s security.

On Christmas Eve, Boris issued a Christmas message that only he could deliver in such a natural way, partly humorous and partly serious. This is another must-see, especially as he made a firm point about opposing the persecution of Christians (subtitled version here):

He said (emphases mine):

Today of all days, I want us to remember those Christians around the world who are facing persecution.

For them, Christmas Day will be marked in private, in secret, perhaps even in a prison cell.

As Prime Minister, that’s something I want to change. We stand with Christians everywhere, in solidarity, and will defend your right to practise your faith.

On Christmas Eve, The Express explained:

A source from No 10 said the Prime Minister wishes to “look at how we can lead on the issue around the world”.

They revealed: “It’s something he came across a lot when he was foreign secretary.

“It has been an issue he has taken seriously personally since he left [the Foreign and Commonwealth Office].”

In May, a report from the former foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt found that the persecution of Christians in some parts of the world was a near “genocide” levels.

The review was led by the Bishop of Truro, the Right Reverend Philip Mounstephen.

It is estimated that one in three people suffered from religious persecution, with Christians being the most persecuted group.

According to the review, Christianity faced being “wiped out” from regions of the Middle East.

Figures show that Christians in Palestine represent less than 1.5 percent of the population.

These figures drop even more critically in Iraq where numbers have fallen from 1.5 million in 2003, to less than 120,000.

The Prime Minister thanked NHS staff, police and other first responders for being on the front lines during the Christmas period, sacrificing time with family and friends.

On a lighter note, he began his video with this:

Hi folks, Boris Johnson here, taking a moment to wish you all a merry little Christmas.

He ended with this:

Mr Johnson signed off breezily, urging people to enjoy the next few days, adding: “Try not to have too many arguments with the in-laws – or anyone else.”

Brilliant!

The Express reported that Boris and serious girlfriend Carrie Symonds spent Christmas at No. 10 with their Welsh rescue dog Dilyn. The article says that, according to The Times, the couple will be jetting off to Mustique for the New Year as guests of the Von Bismarck family who have a home there.

The Queen’s Chrismas Day message to the nation was as thought-provoking as ever:

The Express has a transcript. Note that the Queen says that 2020 is the start of a new decade — not 2021, as pedants say (emphases mine):

as we all look forward to the start of a new decade, it’s worth remembering that it is often the small steps, not the giant leaps, that bring about the most lasting change.

The new decade, beginning in a few days’ time, is further confirmed on Twitter:

Contrary to what the media has reported this month, she kept family issues out of the speech.

On Christmas Eve, the Mail‘s Richard Kay wrote:

After so many broadcasts the Queen, of course, is comfortably familiar in front of the camera, but even so this year she will quite possibly deliver her most difficult, her most painful and perhaps, from the monarchy’s point of view, her most crucial Christmas message ever.

Sure.

In reality, the Queen focussed on the notable anniversaries in 2019:

As a child, I never imagined that one day a man would walk on the moon. Yet this year we marked the 50th anniversary of the famous Apollo 11 mission.

As those historic pictures were beamed back to Earth, millions of us sat transfixed to our television screens, as we watched Neil Armstrong taking a small step for man and a giant leap for mankind – and, indeed, for womankind. It’s a reminder for us all that giant leaps often start with small steps.

This year we marked another important anniversary: D-Day. On 6th June 1944, some 156,000 British, Canadian and American forces landed in northern France. It was the largest ever seaborne invasion and was delayed due to bad weather …

Since the end of the Second World War, many charities, groups and organisations have worked to promote peace and unity around the world, bringing together those who have been on opposing sides.

On that subject, The Express reported her words and what lay behind them:

“It was the largest ever seabourne invasion and was delayed due to bad weather.

“I well remember the look of concern on my father’s face.

“He knew the secret D-Day plans but could of course share that burden with no one.”

This subtle nod to her father also seems to reflect on the burden of loneliness which wearing the crown can entail at times.

Mentions of family were happy ones:

Two hundred years on from the birth of my great, great grandmother, Queen Victoria, Prince Philip and I have been delighted to welcome our eighth great-grandchild into our family.

The broadcast included a clip of Prince George stirring up Christmas pudding:

As Defender of the Faith in the United Kingdom, the Queen always mentions the Reason for the Season, dispensing pragmatic wisdom when speaking of our Lord:

Of course, at the heart of the Christmas story lies the birth of a child: a seemingly small and insignificant step overlooked by many in Bethlehem.

But in time, through his teaching and by his example, Jesus Christ would show the world how small steps taken in faith and in hope can overcome long-held differences and deep-seated divisions to bring harmony and understanding.

Many of us already try to follow in his footsteps. The path, of course, is not always smooth, and may at times this year have felt quite bumpy, but small steps can make a world of difference.

As Christmas dawned, church congregations around the world joined in singing It Came Upon The Midnight Clear. Like many timeless carols, it speaks not just of the coming of Jesus Christ into a divided world, many years ago, but also of the relevance, even today, of the angel’s message of peace and goodwill.

It’s a timely reminder of what positive things can be achieved when people set aside past differences and come together in the spirit of friendship and reconciliation. And, as we all look forward to the start of a new decade, it’s worth remembering that it is often the small steps, not the giant leaps, that bring about the most lasting change.

And so, I wish you all a very happy Christmas.

The broadcast, which airs at 3 p.m. GMT every year, closed with the choir at Windsor Castle singing the famous carol, accompanied by a military band.

I wonder if outgoing Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn saw the speech, which he said was broadcast in the morning:

On Christmas Day at Sandringham in Norfolk, the Royal Family look forward to a church service and family lunch.

Normally, the Royal children do not attend the service. However, Princess Charlotte and Prince George made their first appearance this year (top photo on the left in the second tweet):

I hope that the Queen’s cousin, Princess Alexandra, had a very happy birthday:

This year’s Christmas speech by the Queen proved the media wrong once again. Why do we lean on their every word?

Instead, let us heed her words about small steps being significant in creating great transformation.

The State Opening of Parliament on Thursday, December 19, 2019 is the last we will see for a while.

We had a State Opening of Parliament on Monday, October 14, after the last prorogation.

Two State Openings in one year — and so close together — is a highly unusual situation.

I watched both on television. The symbols and pageantry are tremendous.

Parliament’s website states:

The Queen’s Speech sets out the government’s agenda for the next session of Parliament and outlines proposed policies and laws …

State Opening is the main ceremonial event of the parliamentary calendar, drawing a significant audience online, on television and in person.

In the days preceding the State Opening, both Houses of Parliament — the Lords as well as the Commons — swore in all members individually for this new session following the General Election of Thursday, December 12:

Once complete, the State Opening could take place.

It is the only time the three elements of British government are brought together in one place, in the Palace of Westminster, home to the Houses of Commons and the Lords:

Yeoman warders from the Tower of London do a symbolic inspection — centuries ago, it was a real inspection — to ensure there are no saboteurs or explosives lurking:

This recalls the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, involving a handful of rebellious Catholics, the most famous of which was Guy (Guido) Fawkes, although Robert Catesby was their leader. They attempted to blow up the House of Lords. The explosives were already there.

Today, after the inspection, each of the Yeoman Warders (‘Beefeaters’) is rewarded with half a pint of port.

Meanwhile, the Queen prepares to leave Buckingham Palace for the short ride to the Palace of Westminster. Prince Charles accompanied his mother for both State Openings this year, as Prince Philip has retired from public duties:

October’s State Opening was much more formal. The Queen wore a crown and was dressed in a full length white gown with an ermine cape:

This time, she wore a dressy coat and a hat. Her mode of transport was a Bentley rather than a carriage. The photo on the left shows her walking with Prince Charles in the Royal Gallery in the Palace of Westminster, eventually into the House of Lords to deliver her speech, written by her government:

While the Queen is preparing to give the speech, Black Rod walks from the House of Lords to the House of Commons to summon MPs to the Lords to hear the monarch. We have seen quite a lot of Sally Clarke, the first female Black Rod, this year.

This video explains Black Rod’s duties, which are more than ceremonial:

When Black Rod arrives at the House of Commons, the door is slammed in her face. This symbolises:

the Commons’ independence from the monarchy. Black Rod then strikes the door loudly three times with his ebony staff, or rod, before it is opened, and the 250 Members of the House of Commons follow him back to the Lords Chamber, to stand at the opposite end to The Queen’s Throne.

The video in the second tweet shows the route MPs take to the House of Lords, with Black Rod leading them. The first video dispels the myth that the Lords wear their ceremonial robes every time they meet:

MPs stand in the back of the House of Lords to listen to the Queen’s Speech, which the Lord Chancellor presents to her in a special silk pouch.

During the State Opening, one MP is ‘held hostage’ at Buckingham Palace. I do not know who the two MPs were this year:

Afterwards, MPs return to the Commons:

When the Queen leaves, a new parliamentary session starts and Parliament gets back to work. Members of both Houses debate the content of the speech and agree a reply, known as the ‘Address in Reply to Her Majesty’s Gracious Speech’.

Each House continues to debate the planned legislative programme for several days, looking at different subject areas. The Queen’s Speech is voted on by the Commons, but no vote is taken in the Lords.

Friday, December 20, was MPs’ last day in session before Christmas recess. Brexit was at the top of the agenda.

They approved the second reading of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s deal from October:

They also approved the timetable — programme motion — for the second reading:

They meet again on Tuesday, January 7, 2020:

We have much to look forward to in the New Year.

It was a relief to see the return of regular scheduling on BBC Parliament.

Thursday, December 19, 2019 was the first real day of debate in the new parliamentary session which followed the State Opening of Parliament and the Queen’s Speech, which laid out the new majority Conservative government’s plans.

The Conservative and DUP (Democratic Unionist Party, Northern Ireland) were the most conciliatory towards their opponents. I wonder if that is because both parties seem to embody the greatest expression of faith.

When the swearing in went on earlier in the week, all of the Conservative MPs, past and present, knew which Bible on which they wanted to be sworn in. A friend told me that Savid Javid, our Chancellor of the Exchequer, took a different oath, but Home Secretary Priti Patel took the traditional one.

By contrast, Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader (for now), took a neutral oath that omitted ‘so help me God’. Another Labour MP, Liz Kendall, announced that she is ‘godless’ but ‘not a pagan’:

The DUP’s Jim Shannon, representing Strangford, thanked ‘the Lord my Saviour’ for the election results, including his own re-election.

Just before Shannon spoke, a new SDLP (Social Democratic and Labour Party) MP from Northern Ireland, Colum Eastwood, gave his eloquent (even if I disagree with it) maiden speech in the House of Commons. He did not stammer or falter. The SDLP are diametrically opposed to the DUP. The SDLP represent the Republic of Ireland’s interests, and the DUP represent Ulster Unionists.

Colum Eastwood spoke of the lingering bitterness from the Troubles which continues to reach the courts:

This Conservative Government is obsessed with the idea of granting amnesty to soldiers who committed grievous wrongs and heinous crimes in Northern Ireland. Not only is it an affront to victims and survivors who lost loved ones at the hands of British Army personnel, any attempt to change the law will grant effective immunity to members of paramilitary organisations who murdered and maimed people in our communities.

There is nothing vexatious about seeking truth, justice and accountability for those who lost loved ones. The threshold for criminal prosecution is itself a check on the exercise of legal powers. Those brought before the courts do not face charges on a whim, it’s the result of gathered evidence and a determination by the independent PPS that a prosecution is in the public interest. I am sick of the myth that former soldiers are being pursued for nothing – these are serious crimes with a substantial body of evidence.

[A] Uniform should offer no shield to accountability before the law. The sensitive balance of legacy investigations and institutions should not be offset by headline grabbing promises from a militaristic government.

The SDLP successfully derailed similar proposals from Peter Hain, backed by Sinn Féin. The legacy of our past must be dealt with comprehensively and ethically. We will oppose any proposals aimed at erasing the ability of victims and survivors to access truth, justice and accountability.

Jim Shannon responded by saying that he had served in the Ulster Defence Regiment. That was between 1973 and 1977, at a very heated time of the Troubles, which neither side wants to see repeated.

Shannon told the MPs and Deputy Speaker of the House that he had spoken to Colum Eastwood earlier, explaining that, although they are on opposite sides of the political and cultural spectrum, there will be issues on which they will agree. Shannon said that he would find a way to work together with Eastwood on these issues to achieve common cause. I am sure that Jim Shannon will make every effort.

In another speech, returning Conservative MP Victoria Prentis, representing Banbury, said that Christmas should be a time of self-reflection and self-improvement. She suggested that MPs should use the time well to improve their discourse before Parliament reconvenes in the New Year. It was a wise sentiment, especially with the previous tensions from October 2019 concerning Brexit.

The Conservative and DUP MPs remembered that the run up to Christmas is a time of goodwill — to all. Victoria Prentis spoke perfectly when she said that we should continue any personal improvements gleaned from Christmas into the New Year.

Let’s start as we mean to go on. Christmas should be a time of deep reflection and ongoing renewal.

For my British readers, a documentary well worth watching is the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg’s one on Brexit and Boris.

The Brexit Storm Continues: Laura Kuenssberg’s Inside Story is very well made, indeed:

Laura gives us behind the scenes footage of herself with the press corps, her BBC colleagues and, best of all, leading Conservative and Labour politicians discussing Boris’s first 100 days.

There is some amazing and interesting footage, including a few seconds of the Prime Minister’s bare shins. He wears short socks. Perhaps it is time for Carrie Symonds to buy him a few pairs of knee-length ones for televised interviews.

It is obvious that the BBC loathe Boris and it looks as if Laura is no different. They were all rather nasty to top adviser Dominic Cummings at No. 10 in preparing for an interview with Boris.

Speaking more broadly, Laura seemed to think Boris was taking foolhardy gambles with Brexit and the election. Well, we know how the election turned out. We’ll find out about Brexit in the New Year.

Contrary to the negative replies from Labour supporters to her tweet above, she is neither a Conservative nor a conservative. She’s a canny journalist doing her job, and it’s paying off. This documentary bears her name.

All of that aside, viewers will be able to see the offices of Jacob Rees-Mogg and Michael Gove as they welcome Laura for interviews. They will also be able to watch short exchanges with Steve Baker. I enjoyed the little snippet of the BBC trailing Baker and fellow MP Mark Francois after the Saturday, October 19 session in the House. As it was all a bit hard going, Baker asks Francois if he would fancy a drink. The cameras stop just before the two cross the road to repair to a pub.

I am not a BBC news fan, and I don’t trust any of their reporters or presenters, but for anyone missing politics over the holiday period, this documentary is well worth watching.

Thursday, December 12, 2019 was the day the Conservatives won their biggest victory since 1987, when Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister.

By contrast, Labour suffered their worst drubbing since 1935.

Even though he was re-elected in London’s Islington, Jeremy Corbyn will be resigning — at some point:

The leader of the Liberal Democrats, Jo Swinson, lost her seat in Scotland:

As such, she had to resign:

In Northern Ireland, the DUP’s Nigel Dodds lost his seat to, of all parties, the polar opposite: Sinn Fein.

As for Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party, they got 2.0% of the vote and no parliamentary seats. The man is a spent force now, and he should retire from political life.

So, on to Boris’s big night out. He defeated his Labour opponent comfortably in the constituency of Uxbridge and South Ruislip in west London:

Contrary to what the leftist media predicted, he increased his majority over Labour:

He returned to central London to give a speech there:

He thanked everyone who voted Conservative as well as volunteers and candidates:

Nationwide, the Conservatives won some traditional Labour seats:

London, meanwhile, largely remained Labour, although Felicity Buchan managed to return Kensington to the Conservatives:

The biggest news was Conservative Mark Fletcher’s defeat of Labour’s Dennis ‘Beast of Bolsover’ Skinner. Even Margaret Thatcher couldn’t do that:

Another huge Conservative win was Sedgefield, Tony Blair’s former constituency:

Boris now has a comfortable majority not only to stave off calls for a second Brexit referendum but also to leave the EU early next year.

Whilst it is too early to wish everyone a happy Brexmas, yesterday might as well have been called Boris Day. Guido Fawkes has a montage of Boris’s greatest video clips. Some of these go back to when he was Mayor of London. He admirably hosted the 2012 Olympics:

I wish Boris Johnson all the best as he continues his stay in No. 10 presiding over what he now calls The People’s Government.

May his vision last summer of ‘sunlit uplands’ come true for all of us in Great Britain.

This is my last post on British politics before the December 12 election.

I have already written about Labour and the Liberal Democrats.

Like the Britons in the video below, 17.4 million of us would like to finally see Brexit delivered so that we can move on to trade negotiations with the EU and the world at large. Only one person can lead Parliament to bring this to fruition — Prime Minister Boris Johnson:

Voters have confidence in his leadership thus far (130 days and counting):

Contrary to the misinformation the media have been ramming down our throats, many British voters would be perfectly happy with a no deal or a Boris Brexit:

Although Labour have been promising households in Britain everything except a free puppy, the harsh reality would mean more — and higher — taxes for nearly everyone, ‘the many, not the few’, to borrow their slogan:

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) calls Labour’s spending plans ‘colossal’! Venezuela, here we come:

Labour’s proposed higher corporation tax would not only stifle innovation but consumer prices would go up in order to compensate for those taxes:

However, under the Conservatives — even with Parliament’s prolonging Brexit uncertainty — Britain has record employment and buoyant wages:

Our currency recently rallied, too. The Boris effect?

The Leader of the House is entirely correct in his assessment of the Prime Minister’s support of free enterprise:

Those worried about the NHS should keep in mind that a healthy economy promotes a healthy population.

Since November 6, Conservatives have been campaigning across the country.

The Prime Minister has made several campaign stops every day to factories, schools and hospitals. In November, he visited his constituency of Uxbridge and South Ruislip in west London with his father Stanley, a television celebrity in his own right:

Last week, he made another stop in London: Grodzinski’s bakery in Golders Green. The video of Boris piping ‘Get Brexit Done’ on doughnuts is subtitled. This must be the friendliest and most heart-warming video of the campaign for any party:

Another Conservative of note is Jacob Rees-Mogg, most recently Leader of the House, and current incumbent candidate for North East Somerset:

His sister, Annunziata, is one of four Brexit Party MEPs who, last week, urged voters to back the Conservatives:

Rees-Mogg has been campaigning in North East Somerset since Parliament was dissolved in November. It is a delightful part of England, even when cooler temperatures and rain dominate the landscape:

There is always room for humour in a political campaign. For those unfamiliar with British English, ‘moggy’ is slang for ‘cat’:

This is my favourite photo, and it is hard to disagree with the reply:

Conclusion

Only a majority Conservative government can break the Brexit logjam by the time of our next deadline:

Once post-Brexit trade negotiations start in earnest during the transition period, MPs can then begin to focus on what matters to the British:

Are these sensible policies important to you?

While our other political parties, especially the Scottish National Party (SNP), want to break up the Union which has held strong since 1707, the Conservatives will continue to hold it together, because:

On Thursday, December 12, a Conservative vote makes sense:

I’m borrowing this GIF to say …

Back Boris.

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