Friday, 28 November 2003

Lack of entries

Although I started off quite well, I haven't written much for a few days. But there's a good reason for this - I've actually been developing the web pages which will allow me to write this web log.

They've just passed their test (although I'm sure I'll be tweaking it here and there), so now there's no excuse.

Elections in Northern Ireland are looking interesting. Sinn Fein look to have done well, so too do Ian Paisley's DUP. Since my views are broadly nationalist - I certainly don't believe NI should be governed from Westminster - I'm not so sure about the latter. Certainly Trimble appears more moderate - wherever I hear him, Paisley just seems to spout hatred.

Funnily enough, I was reading Tony Benn's diary (an excellent read, by the way, a truly principled man, a rarity in politics) a month or so ago, and he had a couple of compliments in there for Ian Paisley. There must be a lot more to the man than his public image. But I suppose the time we'll know progress is being made in NI is when there is no need even for sectarian political parties, but having parties based on social/economic principles instead.

The trains are up the spout. There was a landslip just outside Salisbury station a couple of days ago, and not only has the timetable gone to pot (which I can generally understand) but they have also taken the opportunity to shorten the trains to two-thirds of their normal size. Quite how rolling stock comes into matters, I don't know, but the result is that people are standing all around. Any one crisis is just the excuse for the whole of the system going to pot.

Because of the delays on the trains, most of my waking time this week has been spent either at my client's site, or travelling to it. Not a great deal of time spent at home. Still, the weekend's coming up...

Sunday, 23 November 2003


10-pin bowling today, for a quick game. I actually got about 4 strikes and achieved one of my highest scores. Jacqueline did better than she normally does also - she beat Alice today(!) and scored a spare on her last throw. Alice loves it but you can tell that she can't wait until she's big enough to bowl the ball herself rather than using that ramp contraption. Her criteria for choosing the ball was basically to pick one that was pink! Then afterwards we went to the Supermarket afterwards and despite freezing rain by the bucket load, Alice still asked for (and got) a Slush Puppie when we'd finished!

The events in Georgia have hit primetime news. They're calling it another "velvet revolution" and it looks like Shevardnadze has flown out of the country. All happened very quickly, like the fall of the Eastern Block. I guess this is what comes of an unhappy army, police and population, and highlights that qualities required in peacetime are very different from those regarded in times of upheaval. For someone who was an architect of the downfall of the Soviet Union, and then one of the people responsible for ending the civil war in Georgia, it's a fairly ignominious ending to a career.

Saturday, 22 November 2003

Rainy Days

Up early, and visited David Brown's (Salisbury) for an excellent breakfast. Salisbury was very quiet - first because if was raining and second because the Rugby World Cup final was on. I'm not a big fan of rugby, but it's probably worth mentioning that England beat Australia. I suppose if doesn't happen every day...

Salisbury looking very christmassey already.

Went on up to a nearby farm shop, Hockeys, to order the christmas turkey. Always excellent quality, especially with all the scares about supermarket meat. At least you feel you've got some assurance. BBC24 were showing scenes from Georgia. Protesters have invaded their parliament, and it looks like Shevardnadze's days could be numbered. It's funny, but I remember him, along with Gorbachev, as one of the architects of the end of the Soviet Union. Quite a reformer. I vaguely remember that he was heavily involved in the ending of their civil war only a decade ago. How times have obviously changed...

Apart from that, a quiet day. It's been raining all the time but it does look like the grass seed I planted a couple of weeks ago has taken. Good - the lawn is in something of a state.

Friday, 21 November 2003

Welcome to London, George

For the first time since I was at university, today I went on a demonstration. George Bush is in town, and to mark the occasion thousands of protestors descended on central London. For me, I left the office of one of my clients just that little bit earlier than usual and headed off to Trafalgar Square to join in.

Of course the professional demonstrators were in evidence (Socialist Worker obviously still going strong after all these years) but there were also plenty of people in suits (who presumably, like me, had come from work), as well as countless ordinary-looking people who looked like they'd come to London to make a day of it.

On the train home, I listened to the radio to hear Radio 4 say that people were protesting Bush's visit. Er.....not quite. At least not for me. As far as I am concerned he is welcome to visit the UK. I just don't like his stance on Iraq, that's why I turned up. I'm one of many people who believes I've been lied to by George Bush and Tony Blair regarding the justification for invading Iraq. I believe an invasion was the only thing on their agenda right from Day One, and that they have used whatever means available to them to make this happen. And I think these people need to be made aware that there are lots of voiceless people who think that what they did was plain wrong.

So, I disagree with them. But I disagree with lots of things (Jacqueline will verify this!) but am not often moved to protest. So why now?

Well, I think the things which made the difference were a couple of puerile statements from the White House press machine, plus reading some comments on the BBC's web site from American readers, who said how difficult it is to protest in the USA these days. The White House statements?
  • you should be thankful that you're allowed to protest - Iraquis weren't allowed to.
I know this. Sadam was a nasty piece of work, and this is why I supported the world's stance against Iraq, and when all is said and done it is a good thing that he has gone. However this was not any kind of "revelation". It's not as if a few astute people realised this while the rest of us basked in ignorance. We all knew there was a problem, and frankly I resent somebody thinking I was incapable of grasping that fact.

Where I differ from these "wise men" is not in the appreciation of the problem, but in what the solution was. From where I'm standing, this was exactly the stance of France, Germany and Russia also. I don't even think this difference is particularly subtle - even somebody like me can articulate it in a couple of sentences. But it does seem to have escaped many supporters of the invasion, including, it would seem, the White House.

The second point on this same statement, and this really exposes the shallow depth of the original remark, is to raise the question "Does the fact that people in some countries are not "at liberty" justify going to war against the countries? If so, one could very quickly build a list of countries....But I'm sure that very few people would make that assertion - it's just too simplistic. So too is the White House's statement.
  • There's no point being against the invasion now. The invasion has happened. Deal with it. What we need to do now is to look forward to plan the future for Iraq.
Sorry, but no. Yes, there is nothing I can do about the invasion of Iraq now. It has happened. But it was fundamentally wrong. And the underlying thought process of the US administration (and the UK government) to lead us into this situation was wrong. And just as it was wrong 6 months ago, it is still wrong today. But, it still exists today and this is why I must speak out.

This is why people protest. Because the people who made the decisions are still making the decisions, and if they made the wrong decisions 6 months ago they could make the same wrong decisions tomorrow. I sometimes despair for the world my daughter will inherit.