Saturday, 6 June 2009

Double Feature

ANOTHER ELECTION DAY, and another miserable showing for Prime Minister Gordon Brown's Labour Party. Truth be told, I imagine most of the Prime Minister's parliamentary and party colleagues might just be thinking they'd rather not be associated with him and want to claim the Labour Party back for themselves.

Gordon Brown was not elected Prime Minister by the British people, he had been promised the post by outgoing Prime Minister Tony Blair who had realised, after ten years, and feeling the points of the knives in his back, that his time was up.

I'd supported the first Blair Government, elected back in 1997. We needed something really different after all those years of Thatcher and Major, and Blair was not so much Old Labour as Moderate Conservative with a heart. Unfortunately, Tony Blair took us into Iraq after sexing up reports of weapons of mass destruction. At times he was not so much George Bush's poodle as his guide-dog, getting the clumsy President through sticky situations. It paid the Press to leave a mike on near the President. Watch his choice of words though, the Christian President could curse. The Christian Prime Minister Blair could cover for him.

Thus ended any admiration and hope I had for Tony Blair and his New Labour. Suddenly we had someone to hate in unison, much as we'd all despised Mrs Thatcher. Perhaps that is a good thing, bringing the country together like that. Try and get Blair out, though. The Conservatives had no viable alternative Prime Ministerial candidate for a start.

And Gordon Brown claimed the throne in 2007, and downhill we've gone. Brown says that he was not responsible for our problems (the Recession and the Members of Parliament Expenses Scandal). However, Brown was Blair's Chancellor for the ten years and seems to have failed to anticipate or hedge against anything like what we are going through. He'd promised, back in the day, the end of boom and bust economies, and then completely failed to even take the edge off the big bust of 2008-2009. Brown seems to say: "Not my fault!" so easily. He always claims to be candid and honest, but will not own up to anything or answer any question directly (and honestly). He will say, over and over, "I'm not arrogant." He's also saying, now, "I won't quit." Any CEO with his company so unprepared and so unsuccessful would have been removed by his Board and his Shareholders. Not our Gordon.

On Thursday morning this past week I popped into the Polling Station, conveniently located next door to my flat, even before I had breakfast. I was the second person to cast a vote in this district. I've voted wherever I could, when I could, since 1968, in both local and national elections. I believe that if one does not vote, one cannot complain about what one doesn't like about a government.

This week, in Northumberland, we only voted for the European Parliament. Don't get me started. I despise the EU and support the work of parties like the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) to get us the heck out of Europe.

There was quite a long ballot with choices by party. One cannot choose a particular candidate by name. One "X" in a box next to the party you want to send its nominees to Brussels. Our big three parties (Labour, Conservative and Liberal-Democrat) were listed, and UKIP, and the British National Party which is anathema to most of us being racist and more. Then the Green Party, which most of us have heard of: I suppose they hug trees and save the whales, but do their leaders and supporters walk or pedal to their rallies, or drive? There were more parties and one had a rather long name that went something like this: "The Christian Party Proclaiming Christ's Lordship". And I wondered if that was some sort of Christian Taliban. I did not see "The United Party of Satanists", but I think one would know better what to expect from such a group. There's a good line in the film Chariots of Fire, spoken by a Scottish minister's character: "The Kingdom of God is not a democracy!" That's worth considering before you give Jesus a seat in Brussels.

The sign outside the Polling Station, with those two words on it, was on a piece of stiff cardboard tied with string into a prickly hedge. Arrows on pages, printed on somebody's computer, were stuck on the side of the building indicating that one must go around into the church hall to vote. The church's rather large (very nearly life-size) figure of Christ on his Cross loomed over the driveway. Vote for me!

By Friday night the county council election results were in, and Labour, our Government, had only 23% of the total vote, in third place after the Conservatives and Liberal-Democrats. Gordon Brown's Cabinet was breaking up, big names quit. He patched together a new one with unelected peers from the House of Lords (no Labour MPs seemed willing to join a Brown government) and gave a most irritating press conference on Friday evening. He said, I don't know how many times, "I'm not arrogant!" and stressed that he was the only person who could lead the country at this time.

A reporter asked Gordon Brown what he felt made him qualified to be our Prime Minister. You're thinking he's not arrogant. What Brown did not say speaks volumes. He did NOT say he loves this country, that he loves the people and represents them as a person, and that he is like them. He did not say he loves our parliamentary democracy. No affection was confessed for England's mountains green (of course, he is Scottish). Brown did not say that he wants to serve the nation so long as it wants him. No hand on heart for Queen and Country. No, no, no.

Tomorrow the European Election results will be published and estimates are that Gordon Brown's Labour Party will have done even worse in those than in the English county elections. I'm wondering if UKIP will bump Labour into fourth place. I'm hoping that the Labour Party finally faces up to what this country needs: an elected Prime Minister. I'm hoping they'll somehow get rid of Gordon Brown.

The Conservatives are better at ousting their unpopular or no longer capable leaders: think Churchill in the 1950s and Margaret Thatcher. Mrs Thatcher fought it for a couple of days, but then off she went into the wilderness in tears. Gordon Brown, however, has chained himself to this rock he won't confess to loving. It may take more than long knives; it may take sledge hammers and chisels.

I voted, so I'm complaining about Gordon Brown. He may not think to say he loves Britain, but I love it.

THIS AFTERNOON AFTER CAILEAN'S WALK, which a friend joined me on, the three of us came back and watched a 1979 movie on the telly called The Black Hole. This was not the Disney film of that name, which I've not seen (were there cute animals in that one? I have seen The Cat from Outer Space). The Black Hole on Channel Five this afternoon stars a number of now-dead or decrepit actors. The blurb in the Radio Times guide says: "Intriguing if rather unwieldy sci-fi epic in which the crew of a space ship encounter a disturbed scientist." Maximillian Schell plays the nutter on a large platform floating in space near a black hole. He's turned all his human crew into robots. Robert Forster leads a small crew studying the black hole from what looks like a cannibal's cooking pot without the broth. The crew float around suspended by wires, and the harnesses show. The strings holding the spaceship together start breaking, steam pipes burst, and they have to look around for a place to land. And Schell's space platform happens to be just around the next star.

Turns out that Schell and his crew (now humanoid robots) were supposed to have returned to Earth twenty years before, but Schell refused to leave his spot on the edge of the black hole. He's gone quite mad, and wants to fly right through it, never mind it will almost certainly destroy him and all those with him. A bit of a Gordon Brown.

Highlights of the film are the lame special effects and the incredibly clumsy floating in space. Ernest Borgnine is in the film and has a moustache. Yvette Mimieux looks like an American housewife. Anthony Perkins is attacked by a large red-eyed robot called Max that is more Waring Blender than humanoid … and it literally makes mincemeat of him.

My friend had to leave before the film ended, but I settled down to watch it till the bitter end. However, Cailean next to me, I fell fast asleep.

So I cannot tell you how The Black Hole ended, or, at this moment, whether Gordon Brown is still our unelected Prime Minister representing a party less than a quarter of Brits support.

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