For ‘disconcerting’ readers a July Miscellany…

 Bedrooms: 3  Bathrooms: 2  Garaging: 2 Grammar:  nil – read on:

….. one our most popular designs for those looking for a superb home that will tick all the boxes. From you the moment you walk through the front door you will notice the large living area and good use of space. This unique floor plan offers the disconcerting buyer a stunning open plan living area which opens out to the ideal outdoor entertaining area with the added bonus of a sun nook, media room and beautiful open gas fire place’.

(We think they meant discerning buyers…)


And now some stick for the commentariat as if they’re not getting enough from Donald Trump: If you paid any attention to political or other commentators recently, they all seemed to be saying ‘what on earth is happening?’ Brexit, the election of Donald Trump (enough said) and finally the British election. Goodness. Labour nearly won! How could that possibly come to be?

Leaving astonishment aside, there’s something else common  to these views – a time frame – usually about 40 years.  And that period represents a moment when countries as diverse as Britain, the USA and New Zealand, bought wholesale into economic neo-liberalism.

Little by little and in different ways, people in these diverse nations watched their control ebbing away in those years.  They saw the rich getting very rich, they watched as  elected governments  acted as business handmaidens and saw inequality grow along with a litany of other social problems. When  all that reaches breaking point, people rebel.  As the award-winning website The Intercept  noted:

…  the bearded, 68-year-old, self-declared socialist has proved that an unashamedly, unabashedly, unapologetically left-wing offer is not the politics of the impossible but, rather, a politics of the very much possible. The election is a ringing confirmation that stirring idealism need not be sacrificed at the altar of political pragmatism’  said the award-winning online website, The Intercept.

In America last year, that could also be said of Bernie Sanders, who ignited the passions of America’s young voters with progressive ideas and plain speaking in last year’s American  elections. So what were people in both countries voting against? It looks very much as if  they wanted a return to a fair go. The Brits didn’t do this in isolation.

Across the Atlantic in that most rigid expanse of neo-liberalism, the Harvard Harris survey showed earlier this year that the most popular politician in the country was… Bernie Sanders. Why do we laud these political bearers of hope? Because they represent a candle in the dark, leading us away from the failed policies of greed and narrow self-interests.

Back in 1970, the pioneer neo-conservative, Irving Kristol, noted the Market’s tendency to corrode all social virtues – a tendency that, over the past  half century, ‘has become infinitely more pronounced’ according to the .

Could ‘social virtues’ equally be viewed as environmental values? And if these are ‘corroded’  by for instance, not acting on climate change,  are they threats to humanity? And what does it mean for our election?


But  let’s  leave serious matters where they belong – with Donald   Trump – and get on with the circus:  this was one of the sentences typed by a medical secretary in the  NHS, Greater Glasgow:

She has no rigors or shaking chills but her husband states she was very hot in bed last night.

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Paul Smith

Paul is a veteran journalist, non-fiction author and writing mentor. He has also served on boards ranging from TVNZ to UNESCO.