Now Is the Summer of Our Discontent
By Tom Aitken in London
Recent events which, taken together, suggest a nation in restrained turmoil ––which makes the future course of Britain somewhat unpredictable.
The general election that took place in June solved none of the problems that Prime Minister Theresa May hoped it would solve.
Quite the reverse in fact. It failed to produce a majority for any of the competing parties. The Conservatives under Theresa May won more seats than any other single party, but not more than all the other parties put together.
Making a deal
To gain the support necessary to produce a winning majority in votes Ms May felt obliged to select any party whose promised support would give her government victory when issues were put to the vote, regardless of that party’s political suitability or otherwise.
Thus it was that she reached an agreement with the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) under which the 10 DUP members of Parliament will vote with her minority government on pivotal issues including Great Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union.
Under the deal signed at 10 Downing Street Northern Ireland will receive One and a half billion pounds over the next two years.
We have a Prime Minister not really in charge, and consequently exuding lack of confidence, leading us into a future that no one, including her, can predict with any certainty.
Meanwhile, on the streets…
That arrangement, however, has done nothing to discourage political terrorists from carrying out slaughters and ‘ordinary citizens’ from stabbings and acid throwing. These have become almost monotonously frequent.
Some instances of non-fatal violence have been ludicrously inexplicable.
In Putney one Sunday morning, a woman out jogging moved politely out of the path of a running man approaching from behind. He responded by shoving her in front of an approaching bus.
The bus driver, alertly and skilfully, swerved to avoid hitting her.
Muddle, inefficiency after Grenfell tragedy
Meanwhile muddle and inefficiency in local government has been highlighted (no puns intended, honestly) by the disastrous fire in Grenfell Tower block of flats (occupied in general by people with low to middling incomes) on June 14 and its so far muddled aftermath.
On 5th August the number of confirmed dead was 80, but occupants of some flats had neither been found dead nor traced elsewhere. People who have donated considerable sums of money to help those whose homes have been destroyed are understandably dissatisfied that there has so far been very little distribution of their generous gifts.
Also, many troublesome questions about the safety of tower blocks (which are rampant in UK cities) have been thrashed out yet again, apparently with as few practical results as before. Meanwhile,a large part of the British electorate wants to believe that more of the huge sums given by various donors should have been put to practical use by now.
Back at the Palace…
Curiously, some three miles south-east of Grenfell Tower, another large building has been the site of familial social turmoil during the past month or so.
I refer, of course, to Buckingham Palace, where the Royal Family has had to cope with the various reminders aroused by the twentieth anniversary of the death of Princess Diana.
This anniversary, taken together with retirement of Duke of Edinburgh at the age of 96, and the Queen’s 65th anniversary of accession, provokes the question ‘Wither the Royals?’
Television has given us several historical treatment of the Windsor Dynasty and various treatments of of Princess Diana.
As far as the Windsor monarchy is concerned I would think that the picture of Prince Charles that emerges could well be inducing extreme pessimism in many existing royalists.
Charles got the short straw
Charles has in some respects drawn the royal short straw. He was in love with Camilla Shand, but was forced to ditch her and marry Diana.
In one of the programmes about Diana which have recently filled the screens of the people, she described picking up a phone and overhearing a lewd conversation between Charles and Camilla.
In other programmes, Princes William and Harry have spoken out on behalf of their Mum, very touchingly I think, and with great dignity.
Nonetheless, Camilla seems to have a good deal of sense, which may help her overcome the difficulty of being a divorcee whose former husband is still alive and whose marriage therefore is a civil marriage.
We can but wait and see.