Well, yesterday was a bit odd.
It had the feeling of MPs being shipped off back to boarding school by their adoring parents (“Bye, darling, see you in 4 months! Good luck with your Brexit coursework!“), but the last time everyone was there the entire building was on fire.
The extension to Article 50 has removed the immediate, fire-and-brimstone panic of Brexit, but now there remains a faint sense of unease.
Yesterday’s proceedings in Parliament were a slow-paced affair, but there were some real moments of interest, too.
Change UK The Independent Group Oh God Why Is This Name Still Going
I had high hopes for the TIGgers. With the Conservatives struggling in the polls and no clearly-defined strategy on Brexit for Labour, a truly Remain-focussed party that could rival the superbly-run Brexit party would create a free, open debate about Brexit ahead of the European elections.
Yesterday, they began their campaign for the elections and… well…
At the launch of Farage’s Brexit party, despite the crowd being about as ethnically and gender-diverse as a golf club’s AGM, it was obvious that they had the a clear message, a huge production budget and a strong brand – all things that attract voters.
The Independent Group, by contrast, have two names.
Yesterday, they announced their brand, their logo and their message with mixed success.
And while I am flattered that they seem to have just copied the font from Between the Lines’ branding and just flipped the lines 90 degrees, the main question is:
“Why on earth are you called ‘Change UK The Independent Group‘?”
Some of the more cynical commentators out there have used it as the perfect analogy for a party made up of both ex-Labour and ex-Conservative MPs having two different directions for the same goal. I won’t sample that particular low-hanging fruit, but I will ponder why on earth they didn’t just do something simpler.
They also promised that some of the candidates they were fielding as MEPs were household names, and to an extent they delivered. The two slightly less exciting candidates are Stephen Dorrell, a cabinet minister from the 90s, and Jan Vincent-Rostowski, former Polish deputy PM who is a British citizen. Despite not being “household-names”, both carry some political clout.
In terms of actual celebrity however, Gavin Esler, the former Newsnight presenter, is an interesting candidate who will be familiar to many politics-savvy TV-watchers. He also gave an excellent speech about why he is running that has done the rounds on social media.
But he pales in comparison to the jewel in the crown, and the person who could provide a lot of fun in the next few weeks:
Rachel Johnson. Boris’s sister.
Even if TIG/Change UK fails to ever be a success, the fact that it has made Christmas at the Johnsons’ that little bit more awkward means that, for me, my heart will always be with them.
God speed, Change UK The Independent Group – you’re going to need all the help you can get.
Angry Old Men Insult Aspergic Teenager
With the environmental protests continuing in London by the Extinction Rebellion group, Greta Thunberg, the 16 year-old Swedish activist, appeared as a guest in the House of Commons and also held a meeting with Jeremy Corbyn, Caroline Lucas of the Green Party and other party leaders (with the notable exception of Theresa May, for whom the organisers left out an empty, and highly passive-aggressive, chair).
Thunberg gave the UK quite a ticking off about climate change, and MPs like Michael Gove (Con), Barry Gardiner and Ed Milliband (both Lab) waxed lyrical about how committed the UK is to making changes and help Save The World. Whether or not this is all bluster is hard to say, as the UK has actually made some good steps to be more environmentally friendly but is by no means perfect.
Either way, Thunberg’s appearance was quite inspiring – a 16 year-old girl with Aspergers telling Parliament to get its act together and make sure our planet doesn’t melt like a Lindt ball that was left outside over Easter is a sign of where where we’ve come to, but also gives us hope for the future.
However, some political commentators decided that they didn’t like being told what to do by a teenager and essentially let rip into Greta, calling her cold, cynical and “like a cult-leader.”
Now, I agree that climate change protestors need to do a better job of getting their point across. Rather than staple themselves to taxis or erect yurts in Piccadilly Circus, they should be absolutely screaming at us, from every conceivable angle, the facts and figures about climate change. Be a megaphone for the science community, not an burden on society.
Educate, not flagellate.
However. To attack a 16 year-old activist, autism or not, is a damning indictment of the world we live in. This girl not just represents our children but even helped to organise the school-strike on climate change a few weeks ago. She is speaking to and for our youngest members of society, the ones who climate change will affect the most, and some elderly right-wing bile-spouters think that they know better through age or distinction.
Well, the inconvenient truth for them (see what I did there?) is that they simply don’t. Climate change, to them, is an annoyance that distracts from the real issues of society, but it is literally the fight to save billions of lives. Have your criticisms of the protestors, for sure, but do not attack a figurehead for children.
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