To Prorogue, pro & con.

Proroguing the UK Parliament to force through a no-deal Brexit, against the will of the UK Parliament.
Tell me more.

I reblogged a piece from Pride’s Purge recently.

My friend The Secular Jurist requested, quite rightly, further information upon which to form a judgement, in the form of questions.

Rather than repeat the words of those whose wisdom I have sought, I will provide links to sources rather more authoritative than I am. I hope that the following will provide a degree of enlightenment on this vexed topic.

Please read one, or some, or all these pieces. I think that one will find that they all point in the same direction; namely, that while proroguing Parliament is an annual event to tidy and reset the process of government, proroguing Parliament for the purpose of pushing through primary legislation of a contentious nature is a rare occurrence, one that pushes against the boundaries of the unwritten constitution underpinning the process and procedure of legislature in the United Kingdom.

Since everything in the Houses of Commons and of the Lords is ritualised, there is little happening therein which cannot but be regarded as symbolic.

A read through any of the linked sources will reveal the grave concern of many that the use of this power, or perhaps loss of power, to push through something against the will of our sovereign government, could cause catastrophic constitutional problems.

A previous Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, has raised the possibility that the next Prime Minister might be the last. Another former PM, Sir John Major, has vowed to fight this matter through the courts. Of course, the Queen is above challenge; the PM is not.

Adding to the brew are those government Members of Parliament who are beginning to resign so that they are free to vote against their 274 colleagues on the “List of Shame.”

Sir Alan Duncan, a Foreign Office minister, has resigned in the last two hours. It is widely expected that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, second only to the Prime Minister, will soon be resigning on the issue of Boris Johnson becoming PM and taking these extraordinary measures to subvert the will of the elected, sovereign government.

In this, it should be remembered that one of the claims promulgated in support of the British Exit from the European Union was the return of sovereignty to the UK Parliament; this rings hollow when one of the chief architects of the British Exit will, on his elevation to Prime Minister, subvert the will of Parliament.

As a final note, the Prime Minister will have been elected by approximately 0.25% of the population.

I just wish we had more sun here and that the bananas grew liberally on trees here.

Continue reading “To Prorogue, pro & con.”

“Machin Road, B23” — New Verse.

I played in this pocket playground as a small child.

Machin Road, B23

Tarmac square, lifeless
Dull as ditchwater,
Laid out there
Blot on the landscape.
Sterile, barren, devoid.

Dust and sand kicked up
By little feet. Laughter
Ringing through wooden menagerie.
Children scramble, clamber excitedly.
Playing, acting out other lives.

Plot of land, corner of suburbia,
Pound, playground, car park now.
Tomorrow, next year, next decade
Who knows? Deader still,
Soundless still, no such thing
As childhood now.

Ben A Harvey

October 2018

(c) Gogwit’s Blog, all rights reserved.

Eleven-Eleven-Eighteen

My great-grandfather’s leaders took England to war,
They’d subdued the Zulu, Sepoys and the Boer,
Plucky Belgians frustrated Von Schlieffen for weeks,
Time enough to recruit and to shake an iron fist,
Backed up by those men fit enough to enlist.

Balkan intrigues threw a spark in the dry, dry tinder…

All be over by Christmas, that is what was said,
Four years later it ended and so many were dead,
Those whose wounds did not kill them contracted the Flu,
Which spread to schools, homes and factories too.
As if the War to End All Wars was not enough…

The Four Horsemen were busy in those days.

Claiming the souls of the weak and the strong,
The talented, gifted, Muse and mundane
The rich and the poor; Death took them all.
So we had The Great Flu and we had the Great War.

Never again, never again, never… until the next time.

Ben A Harvey

August 2018

(C) Gogwit’s Blog, all rights Reserved

Araucaria, A New Poem.

…The Chile Pine put down its roots and grew;
The Monkey Puzzle watches; and is growing still.

Araucaria


You were there when my mother was a child,
In the horsey people’s forecourt up the hill.
She looked at you and
Wondered what you were,
Where you came from and
What you were doing here.

While it is very plain
To see you are a tree,
You are a tree unlike
The others all around.
So very tall and straight,
Your branches at the crown,
Not meant for kids to climb
Unlike the others in the town.

You were there when I was a little boy.
Outside the maisonette block up the hill.
I looked at you and
I wondered why
You were called a Chile Pine,
Araucaria, the Monkey Puzzle Tree.

Maybe it was just a saying,
Or a legend.
Or the exotic, twisted seed pods – not cones,
More like those finger traps
Of fakirs and magicians,
Perplexing monkeys
In the far off forests where
Your ancestors had grown.

You were there, a novelty in the garden of the gentry,
Before my mother ever saw you, as a child.
You were there outside the flats
Where that garden had once been,
As I walked up that hill to school,
A boy in grey serge shorts forty summers on.

No horsey lady, now, rings in the New Year.
In her smock at 12 o’clock with her handbell.
Marching up and down the hill
With her tidings of goodwill,
Bringing merriment and cheer
For the twelve-month yet to come.
The Chile Pine put down its roots and grew;
The Monkey Puzzle watches; and is growing still.

 


Ben A Harvey,

2 November 2018.
(C) Gogwit’s Blog (Ben A Harvey), 2018 – all rights reserved.

Place and Time: A New Original Post and Verse.

History, poetry. What more could one wish for?

Gogwit is pleased to share a new piece of original verse.

Actually, several pieces of verse combined into one, continuing my theme of places in my home city set slightly apart from time, from a viewpoint upon which all matters temporal converge.

When, if, the section “The Up Line” is read, it may be helpful to understand that Witton and Aston stations are still in use; Vauxhall and Duddeston station still has two platforms in use and is now called Duddeston. The Vauxhall platforms long abandoned, left derelict and buried below diverse weeds, flowers, shrubs and the fauna they support.

Nechells and Bloomsbury opened and closed in Victorian times and, look as I might, I have never satisfactorily seen trace of it.

Lawley Street was a later Victorian commuter station for a town – the city of 1000 trades – which grew voraciously enough to require the infrastructures of a city, which it eventually became in 1889. Lawley Street station is long, long since gone.

Curzon Street station, Banbury Street Ticket Platform and the Southern Approaches bear witness to the grand boom years of Victorian railway expansion. Of Curzon Street and Banbury Street all that remains is the elegant Booking Hall, due to receive a new lease of life when the HS2 high speed line runs there in the 2020s.

The Southern Approaches had narrow platforms set like refuges, between the insanely complex track and track junction pathways into the main station; all travellers into Birmingham New Street, formerly Grand Central Station, will have rattled, squealed, screeched, lurched and rattled over a million sets of points, between brick arches, walls and pillars, through pitch-black tunnels: The lasting legacy of the Southern Approaches.

Grand Central lives on as the name of the shopping and leisure mall built atop the main station recently, replacing the 60s concrete version. Now trains arrive and depart Birmingham New Street; up at street level the trams arrive and depart Grand Central.

That was the history lesson. Here is the verse.


Place and Time.

A38(M) – Aston Expressway.

I looked out from the highway
To the distance, on the right,
For a place, a school,
Where I had used to work.
Where was it now,
Where had it used to be?
Along the railway line –
Follow the railway line, of course.
Composite cladded steel obscured my view,
Yet a little further onward found
The building which I sought
Where it had always been
Since the beginning of its time.

Yew Tree Road, Witton B6.

In the playground of the school –
That school, where I had been
So happy in the dappled light filled
Grounds beneath the trees,
I looked out across the open fields
And Victorian terrace houses
To the place where was being built,
In concrete and in steel,
The elevated highway from horizon to horizon.
And In that instant locking eyes,
Over rooftops, distance, time;
Intuition left no doubt
That the eye beams were both mine.

Aston Railway Junction.

Between that school and the stilted concrete ribbon,
Beyond the Victorian terrace houses and the rails;
The weathered, time-stained rails of the railway line,
That railway line – which had always to be followed.
Radius curve merged with main line track of the up line,
Which ran always into Town, into Birmingham.

The Up Line.

“Witton, Aston,
Vauxhall and Duddeston,
Bloomsbury and Nechells, Lawley Street;
Curzon Street, Banbury Street, Southern Approaches,
Grand Central Station – All change! Alight here!
Change please at New Street for all onbound journeys.”

Birmingham, New Street Station.

Change here for everywhere, any place and any time –
For every destination that will take you far from here;
Board the express, or the stopping train, to promised time and place:
The remainder of your season until you return to clay.

Here, Now, Always.

But I digress; forgive the musings of mortal man
Who has looked across the rooftops, space and time
And locked gazes with
His younger self,
His older self;
Both time past and time future, perpetually now.


Ben A Harvey,

31 May 2018.
(C) Gogwit’s Blog (Ben A Harvey), 2018 – all rights reserved.

The image of Birmingham’s LNWR station, 1 June 1854, reproduced from The Illustrated London News of 3 June 1854 and is public domain, used here with gratitude.
In great appreciation of TS Eliot.
With great love to ….

Beltane, 2018.

img_0543EVE OF MAY DAY, 30 April/1 May is, by some, called Beltane.

I have written this new, original verse in its honour; four previous pieces of verse, dating from 2012-2014, celebrate other observances within the Wheel of the Year and there are yet three more to be written.

I hope you will feel that this verse was worth reading.

BELTANE, 2018

Oak, Rowan, Birch and Hawthorn,
Power and strength, growth and glory,
Rebirth, renewal and generation;
Protection from the Faerie Fae,
Womb quickening with new life.

In and out the wooded glade
Up and down the land
In the woods and hills and meadows;
As the sun begins to show
As the sun is on the rise
See them joined by clasping hands.

Beltane sunrise until moonset,
Joyful couplings abound,
All are freed from obligations;
Solemn vows are set aside,
When the Oak King and his court preside.

In and out the wooded glade
Up and down the land
In the village, towns and hamlets;
As the moon sinks low
As the moon goes down
See them clasping hands no longer.

Tulip, coltsfoot, dill and balm,
Tranquility and peace and power,
New found love and second sight;
Faerie tricks and fecund magick,
Around the Maypole and every charm.

Ben A Harvey,
April 2018.

(C) 2018, Gogwit.
All Rights Reserved.

Continue reading “Beltane, 2018.”

Sad Little England.

GOGWIT IS FEELING annoyed and downbeat today, this brief blog is the substance of what is getting under my skin.

I was born 10 minutes walk from the centre of Birmingham. I have never driven and my passport expired in the early 90s, I did not replace it, there seemed no need.

Fortunately I have my birth certificate.

Even so, a growing number of situations require production of valid photo ID and it is then that we encounter the true meaning of the “insolence of office” which is stressful in the extreme and which pushes me – yes, me – to the verge of losing my temper – which would be unfortunate, embarrassing and rather unpleasant.

But at least I do not have to prove, in addition, my residence status over several decades, failure to comply potentially resulting in losing employment, being detained or even being deported.

Compared to the trials being experienced by the so called “Windrush Generation” my problems seem insignificant.
They do not seem so when some functionary is required to tick boxes for documents I do not possess.

There is so much that is good about this country to be proud of and to rejoice in and celebrate.

However, the way this country has, in recent years, treated so many of its subjects of Commonwealth and New Commonwealth heritage is not among those matters for celebration. It is a matter for shame, it is a blemish and it summarises, most succinctly, where we are wrong and could do so much better.

Today, our Prime Minister apologised publicly to Commonwealth Heads of Governments for this outrageous state of affairs, until recent days UK Home Office policy. The current Home Secretary has already had to backtrack, in Parliament, on this toxic legacy from the days when the current Prime Minister was the then Home Secretary.

Fine words are, well, fine words but alone they butter few parsnips. Harm has already been done and action is required to make amends and to resolve this issue. There were fine words issued after the Manchester concert bombing.
There was an outpouring of fine words following the Grenfell Tower fire, so dreadful that one only need say “Grenfell” and everyone knows exactly what one is talking about; vanishingly few of the issues have been addressed and resolved, few of the promises have been delivered.

We often hear the call to “make a bonfire of the red tape” by which is commonly meant the checks, balances, safeguards and protocols that protect us from unscrupulous exposure to unsound and dangerous processes.

I would like to call for a bonfire of the red tape used to discriminate, deter and debar those resident in this land from living and thriving in productive and happy lives.

Gogwit.

April 2018, (c)

This is an opinion piece; it represents my views and was created as a sole enterprise.