Welcome to my day – 20 December 2021: there’s no business like snow business…

Greetings from Westbrook, Maine, where your friendly neighbourhood Day Editor is on grand-parenting duty for a few days. As you can see from this picture of the town’s library, we’ve had snow, about six inches of it. Luckily, it seems as though most people here own a snowplough, or have one bolted to the front of their truck, so there hasn’t been much disruption.

As I left Britain, the news of the North Shropshire by-election was just beginning to sink in and I’m reminded a bit of the 1992-97 Major administration. In the sense of a Government out of good ideas and mired in bad behaviour, there is an easy comparison, but whereas the Major administration contained some capable ministers and was led by a man whose word could be relied upon to a great extent, you can hardly say that about this administration. Mind you, whoever leads the Conservative Party is going to have to reconcile the irreconcilable – those contradictory promises made to deliver Brexit are no easier to untangle now than they ever were.

On this day in 1830, the London Conference opened, during which representatives of the then major European powers (Austria, Britain, France, Prussia and Russia) recognised the independence of Belgium. And, given that it’s nearly Christmas, how could I fail to note the 75th anniversary of the premiere of “It’s a Wonderful Life”? But perhaps we should reflect on the fact that today is International Human Solidarity Day.

So, what do we have for you today? Ruvi Ziegler wonders whether or not we have the right Israeli sister party, whilst we catch up on what was also a rather good night in local council by-elections. Other than that, there are still some irons in the fire but we’ll see what emerges.

With that in mind, I’ll see you all later, once I’m awake…

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  • John Marriott 20th Dec '21 - 10:40am

    My sympathies, Mark. You really go the extra mile (literally) when it comes to grand parenting ‘duties’. Let’s just hope you can get back when you want to – IF you want to! Who knows where we might be in a few days’ time!?

    It looks as if a few more planks are coming loose on the ‘Good Ship Venus’ (aka the Tory Party). ‘Frostie the NO man’, as he is known as over the Channel, has now become ‘Frostie the GO man’ and has apparently been replaced by the Tin Lady, Liz Truss. Rumour has it that both Ian AND Duncan Smith might be rejoining the cabinet as well. Let’s hope both of them turn up the VOLUME. I feel for poor Nadine Dorries, who has been ‘deleted’ from the Tory Chums’ WhatsApp by self appointed ‘Führer’, Steve Baker, for defending the PM.

    So, while you are enjoying yourself over the Pond, have a thought for us poor so and so’s over here in Fortress U.K.

  • The London conference of 1830 may seem like a bit of historical trivia, but these same issues of geopolitical relations and spheres of influence keep resurfacing. France, dissatisfied with the decision of the Congress of Vienna (1814-15) that created a powerful state—the Kingdom of the Netherlands—on its northeast border, pressed at the London Conference for Belgium’s separation from the Netherlands. Austria, Prussia, and Russia, viewing the separation of Belgium as a blow to the system established by the Congress of Vienna and defended by the Holy Alliance, insisted on the return of Belgium to the Netherlands. Great Britain, striving for the deterioration of Franco-Russian relations and the consolidation of its own influence in the Belgian provinces, supported France. During the London Conference, France and Great Britain succeeded in winning recognition of the independence of Belgium by the conference participants. The agreement was formalized by a treaty.
    In 1914, Germany rejected the guarantee of Belgian neutrality as a “scrap of paper” and invaded Belgium.
    Britain responded by declaring war. The invasion of Belgium is said to have tipped the Liberal cabinet of the time (including Lloyd George) from a position of staying out of what began as a conflict for influence in the Balkans into intervention into what developed into a total war among the Great powers and would reshape Europe and the Middle east for a century to come
    The lessons of those times remain pertinent today as China rises to challenge the hegemony of the United States and Russia masses troops on its border with Ukraine.

  • Barry Lofty 20th Dec '21 - 5:05pm

    I understand that our erstwhile Brexit Minister, as chairman of the Scotch Whisky Association in 2016, had a completely opposite view of membership of the EU than his later incarnation as a right-wing Brexit Minister.
    To learn more I suggest a read of the excellent Ian Birrell column in today’s ” I” newspaper..20/12/21

  • Speaking of Brexit the Anglo-French fishing dispute of today has a precedent in the 1904 dispute about lobster fishing off Newfoundland that almost scuppered the agreement of the triple entente treaty in the lead-up to WW1 Anglo-French fishing dispute
    Lobster fishing remains a point of contention today in the Gulf of Maine between Canadian fishermen and Maine fishermen in the disputed waters of the so called Gray Zone. That dispute goes back to the delineation of borders after the American War of Independence. So as Mark starts his Christmas dinner with some fresh lobster or Lobster bisque have a thought for the Canadian and US coastguards that need to keep the peace between the sometimes aggressive commercial fishing boats trawling in these waters.

  • Yes Joe, there was another despite from the French owned Islands St.Pierre & Michelon, who recently lost most of their fishing rights to Canada.

    When the lobsters are in season, the smaller ones get sold in St. John’s fish and chip shops cooked with chips for CAN $8.95

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