“I disagree with what you say, but defend to death your right to make an ass of yourself” (Oscar Wilde)
It’s a fundamental British value to protect free speech. Which I’m afraid means we’re also obliged to even defend the right of privileged politicians who irresponsibly stoke prejudice by bullying the less privileged who are unable or cannot speak up for themselves – whether they be women in traditional Islamic dress or others.
Yes. For avoidance of doubt, I’m accusing Boris Johnson of being an irresponsible bully. Nothing new there. It’s not the first time he’s cynically abused his privilege and used inflammatory language to pick on people who can’t defend themselves, purely for self promotion.
My position on a second EU referendum remains unchanged. I’m opposed. However, read on…
The last thing our Country needs is a rerun of the 2016 referendum. It would undermine our economy, destroy families and friendships, potentially unleash latent fascism and generally get us nowhere.
However, it’s also clear that this floundering Conservative Government will lead us to a frantic, messy, 11th hour brinkmanship Brexit which will leave its successors with a headache of problems and few answers.
Driven by surreal mantras like “Brexit means brexit” and “no deal is better than a bad deal” the Conservatives have boxed us into a lose-lose corner with few escape routes.
One possible way out of this mess may arise when Parliament chooses not to approve the final ‘deal’. When that happens the only way forward would be to put the final deal to a people’s vote. That’s NOT a second referendum. It’s a vote on the final deal. “Do you want this deal or not?”
A clear ‘yes’ would permit the Government to forge ahead anyway. A ‘No’ would give them a range of options – go back, ask for more time and renegotiate, consult more widely, draw up a people’s plan, scrap the whole idea and instead work for a reformed EU.
A warm welcome for the Government’s announcement this week – that it intends to end rough sleeping within ten years. It’s just a pity that so much of Government policy is making matters worse. Homelessness has increased by more than 75% since 2015 and current housing, benefit and mental health policy is driving more people onto the streets and into unstable lifestyles and severe insecurity.
It’s my privilege to be a regular very small part on the Penzance Street Food Project which daily helps many people who are struggling, including rough sleepers. We’re criticised by some who incorrectly believe we encourage anti-social behaviour and create a poor impression for the area which puts off visitors.
So imagine how pleased we all were last week after cheerfully serving meals to another 35 customers. Unbeknown to us we were quietly being watched by a family from Kent who were so moved they came over and pressed a very generous cash donation into our hands saying it was projects like ours which does most to attract visitors like them.
Good news for those who believe we can resolve problems with kindness. Bad news for the bullies and the vigilantes.