If you found a lamp with a genie in, what would your three wishes be? There was a rather excellent episode of the X Files, where Agent Mulder was faced with just such a dilemma. His first wish? World Peace. It was granted and every other human being on the planet disappeared. Mulders second wish was to undo his first wish. Careful what you wish for. I've had prayers granted. It was only after that, I realised I'd made a complete mess of what I asked for. In 1986, my Dad had surgery to remove his gall bladder. He looked awful. I was convinced he was going to die. I prayed that he'd recover and I could go for one last curry with him and have a proper night out. He did and we did, in November 1986, as mum, was visiting her sister. I said a prayer of thanks. In January 1987, he dropped dead with a heart attack. That made me be very careful. Strangely Dad also made the same mistake. In 1944, when he was bailing out of his Wellington bomber, which had been shot up by a German nightfighter, he said a prayer to the Virgin Mary that he would see out the three score and ten years the bible said was a mans life expectancy. He died in his 70th year. He told me that as we munched on our curry. He'd confided that when he had the gall bladder issues, he thought it had come back to haunt him. Little did either of us know.
Yesterday I caught some of Keir Starmers speech to the Labour conference. I was struck by the fact that he said nothing. He is clearly wiser than me. I wonder if he is genuinely bereft of ideas, or whether he simply doesn't want to make the mistake I made and become a hostage to fate. It seems to me that if he can be a vaguely competent administrator, then that would be a huge upgrade on what we've got. It seems that we only elect a decent visionary PM once every generation. For me, Clement Atlee, who set up the NHS may well have been the last. My Tory friends would probably claim Thatcher was. Until the #Brexit vote, I beleived Thatcher to be a disaster. What has happened since has opened my eyes to the fact she was actually very good. Too divisive for me to every actually like her, but she managed to pull off a feat beyond any of the rest of them. She was an ardent pro European, who managed to con all of the #Brexit wing of her party that she hated the EU. In actual fact, she signed the Single Eurpoean Act, which was the bedrock of what the Brexiteers hated most. My Mum knew Thatcher. She once told me that Thatcher had urged her to get into politics. She said that Parliament was full of men who were completely useless. Mum was a Socialist and Thatcher knew that. She said that Labour needed people like her. Thatcher got the UK an amazing deal from Europe and removed all manner of restrictive trade barriers, which people have re-erected in her name. It is a real irony. Maybe the secret of being a successful PM is to shout loudly about populist issues, so all the mugs are taken in, then do what is sensible and pragmatic.
Which brings us to the current world situation and the two wars that are filling up our news channels. We have a war between Ukraine and Russia, that seems to have degenerated into a bloody stalemate and the bloody conflict between Israel and Hamas. If you were to get to ask the leaders on all sides one question, to try and make them see sense, what would you ask. If I had that genie of Agent Mulder's my wish would be to ask them all one question, that they had to ask truthfully in front of the worlds media. My question? "Do you honestly believe the course you are following will mean that your people will end up living peacefully and in prosperity with your neighbours and is that what you want?"
I'd be very interested to know the answer each would give (if they had to tell the truth).