19 May 2019
Since that nice Donald Tusk advised our open-minded and inspirational prime minister to use the Brexit extension wisely, she gave the entire government a month off. She herself did sweet foxtrot alpha* except taking tea occasionally with the leader of the opposition in what was doomed from the outset to be an utterly pointless attempt to find a compromise agreement.
The only politicians who actually benefitted from the break were Nigel Me Me Me Farage and Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, whose name is normally followed by the words “You are charged with …”
We went to the Helston estuary with my brother and sister-in-law and were joined at the weekend by Judy’s older daughter and her husband. The first five days had gloriously clear skies blown in on a cool breeze, sunlit bluebells, a boat trip and lots of sleeping late; and I had a complete week off preparing food. Ah, the small luxuries of life. Isn’t it strange how, even though you’ve had a good time, it’s nice to get back to your own bed and routines again? (After unloading the heavy equipment and doing the washing, of course.)
But guess what – no compromise! She said he said he couldn’t guarantee that his party would back his concessions and he said she said she couldn’t guarantee that her imminent successor wouldn’t just tear up the whole agreement anyway.
But I have another hero. Julian Richer, who set up Richer sounds in 1978 (a firm whose staff I’ve always found to be unfailingly helpful and friendly) is stepping back, transferring 60% of his shares in the company to the staff and giving every member of staff £1,000 for each year of their service, from his own pocket.
When he announced this, he said “Capitalism is inherently evil because it’s based on greed, so you have to rely on people to do the right thing”. He added “I’m on a mission to make the world a better place. The gap between rich and poor is getting much bigger and people hate it. I hate it. It gives good capitalists a bad name and makes it harder for them too because other people are taking shortcuts.”
The Deputy Director-General of the CBI said it was a way to “improve engagement and share prosperity” although he didn’t actually say he thought it was a good idea or anybody else should follow suit, possibly because the DG herself was lying supine while acolytes burnt feathers under her nose.
I claimed at the beginning of last year that capitalism had finally committed suicide but people like Richer and James Timpson offer some hope that not all bosses are a Jeff Fairburn or a Philip Green and not all companies are Carillions or Centricas of G4Ss or Persimmons or Sercos.
And what about the climate crisis? As somebody pointed out centuries ago, we don’t have an energy generation problem, we have an energy storage problem. I think one of best schemes is in the hydro-electric industry where the excess energy produced at night when demand is lower is used to pump the water back up into the reservoir where it can be re-used to produce more energy the next day.
But we should be finding more ways to create energy from ‘green’ sources like wind and tidal power, and finding more efficient ways of storing surplus energy until it’s needed. Instead they’re developing a new electric car called a Tesla 3, priced between £39,000 and £56,000 (depending on whether or not you want it to dispose of your chewing gum for you) which has been described by Tesla as “primarily for people who are tech-savvy, who may be slightly aspirational”. As someone who doesn’t consider himself either tech-savvy, or even slightly aspirational, I wonder what the truly aspirational crave? Probably electric cars that cost less than their carbon-fuel equivalent, and more recharging points.
Has anybody else noticed that articles in the magazines published by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and the Woodland Trust have been overlapping more and more? Well, Beccy Speight who was Chief Executive at the Woodland Trust will move to become chief executive of the RSPB over the summer. Could this lead to a merger between the two?
*Yes, I know this isn’t an original idea but I like it and, after all, what is?