31 Mar 2017

Article 50 Triggered

Dear Don, we're leaving, Up yours, Theresa....
I am delighted to see that the UK Government has triggered Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which formally starts the process of withdrawing the UK from the EU.

All we had previously was the 2016 EU referendum result, where the British electorate made it clear to the UK Government that they wanted to leave the EU. No more no less.

Sensibly perhaps, that referendum was advisory rather than legally binding. That created some doubt about whether Brexit would actually happen and the pro-EU losers tried very hard to stop it. Mostly out of self-interest, so far as I can see...

However, after the inevitable political shenanigans and a lot of bitterness and division in the UK, it appears that the Mother of all Parliaments has been wise enough to follow the direction that has been set by it's people. For better or worse.

This is the first time a UK Government has ever had to follow the direction that was set in a referendum that it lost, a direction that it didn't really want to pursue. Despite the best efforts of the "remoaners", democracy seems to be working here, which is good, but nobody really knows quite how Brexit will work out in practice. It is one of those things that will gradually take shape over the next couple of years and beyond, as detailed decisions are taken and implemented.

The UK is also the first country to go down this route, so we are venturing into uncharted territory. As the EU is a monstrous bureacratic nightmare, with unelected leaders, a flawed vision of Europe and little real accountability, I doubt that we will be the last. Unless it can reform, the EU's days really are numbered...

Although it has taken 9 months to get to this stage, a period which has been far too long for some, it means that the UK will be leaving the EU shortly before the next round of EU elections are due. That optimal timing means we don't have to go through the charade of electing MEP's again. I can't begin to tell you how pleased I am about that. Only the main parties can afford to contest the EU regions properly. Independents and minor parties are squeezed out, due to the logistics and the costs that are involved.

The 9 month delay has also given the Government some time to think about what to do next and get the right people into the right posts. It gives me confidence that we are in safe hands at the moment, with Theresa May currently doing an excellent job as Prime Minister. Triggering Article 50 on 24th June last year would clearly not have been the right thing to do, as we were not prepared for what happens next.  

With Article 50 triggered on 29th March, a simple process of our Ambassador handing a letter to the President of the European Council (no stamp needed), the Brexit negotiations start here.

Whatever you think of the idea, that's the route we are now headed. The UK will be leaving the EU.

Like all change, it is a great opportunity.

And we all have a responsibility to make the best of it now.

27 Mar 2017

Exit carefully...

Couldn't help noticing another dodgy sign this morning, in the car park at Southampton Central Railway Station.

Although a Sherman tank would easily overcome the problem, I have no idea how they expect me to drive my car through that gap..

24 Mar 2017

A big surprise at Shirley pond

With time on my hands today, I decided to explore a corner of Southampton that I've not investigated before. It has only taken me half a century, but I have finally discovered Shirley pond.

And look what I found...

Yes, a weed-ridden pond with some ducks and a football floating in the middle.

Of course, it is still early in the year and the pond is not at it's best yet.

Other vantage points suggest that it will be well worth visiting again in a couple of months time. It is potentially a very nice afternoon out, especially if I also stop off at the neighbouring public house for a half of lager shandy in the beer garden.

That particular pub is named The Ice House, which is most unusual for a pub name. It indicated that there is some interesting history to be discovered here.

And indeed there was.

Looking at this page on Sotonpedia, I see that the pub is built over a large pit, which was used to store ice that was collected in winter. That ice was subsequently used, throughout the year, to keep produce fresh, prior to refrigerators.

Presumably, some of the the ice might have been collected from Shirley Pond...?

If so, I hope it was a bit cleaner in those days. One also wonders if Victorian diners at the Clarence Hotel on Southampton High Street ever found Newts and Tadpoles in their salad...?

But best of all perhaps, was the unexpected discovery of some large blocks of concrete, with a flat top pyramid shape.

I hadn't expected to see anything like this, but I knew instantly what they were.

They are "Dragons teeth", a WWII tank trap.

Whilst this obstacle wouldn't have stopped the Wehrmacht completely, this is one small part of the intricate web of defences that were built to slow down the Nazis if they had landed on the South coast of England in 1940.

I was delighted to have found this site and amazed that the concrete still appears to be in pretty good condition, despite the passage of time and the vegetation that has grown over and around them.

I wonder what else there is to discover here...?

Maybe nothing, but there are certainly plenty of other sites around Southampton, some accessible many not, which have WWII heritage.

I really must try to do this kind of thing more often...

22 Mar 2017

A Parking Conundrum...

Two thoughts occurred to me, when trying to park my car at Wickes in Hedge End this afternoon.

1. How do our dozy town planners and the developers expect that parking space to be used for it's intended purpose....?

2. Why isn't the bulk material placed there, instead of occupying the neighbouring two spaces...?

Answers on a postcard please, to....

20 Mar 2017

Bring back the Poll Tax

My Council Tax bill arrived today, with the expected hyper-inflationary increase. I now have to work for 13 hours at £8 an hour every month, just too keep the Council and assorted hangers-on happy.

This led me to ponder the unfairness of the existing system, which sees single occupancy households bearing a disproportionate share of the Council Tax burden, despite the 25% discount that single people get. If there are three or more adults, households don't pay any extra, despite the extra demand for public services that is created by that household.

I can't help thinking that the much hated Poll Tax, introduced by Margaret Thatcher's Conservative Government in 1990, was actually a much fairer system, as everybody of working age in the household was required to contribute towards local Government funding. Larger households, with three or more adults, thus paid more than they do now and property values were irrelevant...

It is a great pity that John Major bottled it when he took over in 1992, and replaced the Poll Tax with the ill-considered and unfair system of local authority funding that we have now.

It would have been much better to have persevered with the Poll Tax, perhaps giving Local Authorities a lot more funding from Central Government, in order to soften the blow to the households that were hardest hit.

Can we try it again please, but do it right this time...?

As a first step, which doesn't require a complete upheaval of the existing system, perhaps we could add 25% to the Council Tax for every extra adult in the household, where there are more than two...?

18 Mar 2017

Don't be negative about negative people...

I am afraid I must admit that I have been accused of being a negative person on more than one occasion.

Naturally I don't consider myself to be negative, just a pragmatic realist who is blessed with common sense and foresight.

I would argue that history has shown me to be correct more often than not. It may take a little time, but the blind optimists and their rose-tinted spectacles (if that isn't a contradiction in terms) usually end up shrugging their shoulders and saying "that couldn't be foreseen" whilst I'm sat here thinking "I told you so"...

After many years of this kind of bashing, I am now acutely aware that the accusations of "negativity" are just a trick that some people pull in order to subjugate others into accepting their own line of thinking. By the time they're proven to be wrong, it is usually far too late to do anything about it.

I've seen local politicians do this in Council meetings. It also happens in the workplace a lot. Sadly, I've seen members of my my own family do it too.

As you may know, negativity-bashing is commonplace across social media, so this meme rather appealed to me when I spotted it recently. I thought it was a refreshing change which hit the nail on the head...

Time for a clear out

Every so often, I review my blogging activities and clear out some of the older posts.

This evening is one of those occasions, though I have been unusually ruthless and removed everything prior to this post. I deleted my secondary blogs too, as I only have time to maintain and develop this one now.

In future, The Complete Works of TGR Worzel really will include everything that I write about...