My Dad, who was a WWII RAF pilot was not someone who was sentimental about the past. He once explained to me that when you were involved in an armed conflict, you soon realised that every improvement to your plane, be it an engine upgrade, better radar, a better plane, etc meant that your chances of making it home from your tour of duty was better. He loved innovation. He was a brillaint photographer and had a stack of old, manual, top notch cameras. We'd have slide shows after holidays etc. Many of the pictures of the 50's and 60's I use are ones he took. When automated cameras came out, with autofocus, inbuilt flashes and light meters, he bought them and never used the old, manual ones again. He explained that you took better pictures, as you didn't have to muck about. As a business owner, he embraced progress, realising that new innovations meant you could do jobs quicker and make more money. Dad was a Conservative, in the 1960's/70's Conservative tradition. He beleived that the Tories were a forward thinking party, who would pull Britian forward and keep us at the centre of innovation. He believe Labour were luddites, wedded to Trades Unions who resisted change. One of his sayings was "If all you do is look backwards, you'll walk into a lampost".
Dad passed away in 1987. Thatcherism and the 'Loads of money '80's, were at their height. Many of the guys who worked for him at his car business, were buying their own council houses in Burnt Oak and Edgware. Dad probably went to his deathbed believing he was politically vindicated. Dad was a major influence on me. I was diametrically opposed to his politics, but I fully understood that many of the the arguments he made were reasonable and well argued. Last night, I had a dream about Dad. It was very vivid. I still dream about him quite a lot. I always wake up, almost in tears, realising that he's not here and we can't continue the conversation. So what did he have to say? Well, as ever, he was putting me right. You may have noticed that I've had nothing much to say about the current woes of the Tory Party. There are two reasons for this. The first is that I have always tried to keep the focus of the blog on local and London issues. The second is that I felt I have little insight into National politics and other people can do it far better. Well, Dad was not too impressed. He said "The country is going to the dogs at the moment, people read your blog, why are you sitting on your hands". He went on to say that "Don't you care that a man appointed Chancellor of the Exchequor had fiddled his taxes, what sort of message does this send out". He then said "I always supported the Tories Conservatives because they were forward looking and good for business, but you run a business and you know how they are killing it. You know that Brexit is a backward looking concept and you know that it is damaging the country. Why aren't you shouting this from the hilltops". He finished off by saying that there are always dodgy spivs in politics on all sides, the difference now is that they are not being slung out of office. That is the politics of a banana republic, not the UK. I asked him if he was still a Conservative, he said that unless they sort themselves out, nobody should vote for them, until they rediscoved a degree of morality and have some sort of vision for Britian to take us forward.
At that point, Clare woke me up with a cup of tea and the morning papers. As usually happens when I dream about my Dad lecturing me, it takes me 20 minutes to get my head around what I was dreaming. Was I just projecting my left wing prejudices onto Dad? What would he say? I have no doubt at all that he'd be appalled by Mr Zaawi's dodgy behaviour. I am sure that he would have had a good rant about a bloke being let off evasion payment of millions of pounds of non payment of tax with no more than a slapped wrist. I have no doubt that as someone who lost mates fighting to end division in Europe and someone who hated bureacracy at borders (he worked as a commercial pilot after the war, he had his fill of paperwork), he'd be horrified at how Brexit is panning out. I had a meeting on Saturday with the group leaders of the charity I volunteer for, that takes people living with disablities to France. We were told that new regulations coming in to place in May, will mean that everyone entering the EU will have to have their biometric profile taken, with fingerprint and retinal scans. This could add up to 90 minute to our journey through passport control, as most people are likely to be passing through an EU border for the first time on our flight. When you have a large group of people who are in wheelchairs, etc this will be, shall we say difficult. I believe he'd have been completely unimpressed with the weakness of the PM, who should have sacked Mr Zahawi. The facts are not in dispute. If you need an 'Ethics advisor" to tell you to sack a tax dodger, then you shouldn't be in the job.
When I woke up, I read the papers. The front page of the Daily Express was a story about an old lady freezing to death and how Ambulance workers are regularly taking other OAP's to A&E with hypothermia. This is the Express, a Tory backing paper. On their website is a story that business leaders are slating the governments handling of Brexit. There is a poll on the Express website asking whether Rishi Sunak is a weak PM. At present 94% of people say yes. If Express readers are saying this, the game is up
Dad was a Daily Express reader, so I can only assume that his message from beyond the grave was spot on. I think the Tory party needs to get it's act together and quick. Much as I disagree with them, if they are wiped out at the next election, we will have no effective opposition and we all know that is not a great thing. The only senior Tory at the moment with any credibility at all seems to be Jeremy Hunt. He has experience and is a safe pair of hands. I genuinely don't know whether the public would accept another Tory coronation, but I am starting to think that if they don't do something radical, they might find that there are none of them left after the next election.
By the way, at the start of the year, I made the following predictions for January. From what I am seeing, the thermals I've had to wear and watching PMQ's yesterday, I can only think I should put a tenner on the 5,15 at Kempton Park if you know what I mean
The year starts as the year ended. We have the funeral of Pope Benedict. In some ways, this draws a perfect line under a terrible few years. The Weather starts mild, but by the 21st we are back to freezing temperatures, snow, ice and train strikes. Normal politics returns with Labour leader clobbering Rishi Sunak at PMQ's on a weekly basis. Tory MP's, especially those on the right start making noises. We see the start of Nigel Farage's return to front line politics, with his land grab for that area formerly known as UKIP.
All I can really think is that I'm more psychic than I could have predicted (forgive the pun)