2016 began, for me, in the Philippines, where I now am. It had a less than auspicious beginning: I remember my shock at hearing about the death of David Bowie. But, while the toll of celebrities continued, this was not the most surprising thing about the year by any means.
That something was afoot became clear early on, in May, when Rodrigo Duterte, a fast talking populist, was elected as president of the Philippines. Most people in the West hardly noticed this, but it was a straw in the wind. It is true that Duterte’s route to power was laid open by the Philippines electoral system, which is single-stage, and the fact that the centrist vote was split between two popular candidates, Mar Roxas and Grace Poe. Duterte exploited this division expertly and won, on around 38% of the vote. Continue reading 2016: a bad year? No, a new beginning.→
On Saturday it was Bonfire Night in Blighty. Yes, that spectacularly English version of the traditional festival at the onset of winter. While the rest of the world has Samhain, Hallowe’en, the Day of the Dead and others, the English celebrate a failed attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament, otherwise known as the ‘Gunpowder Plot’.
Thirteen men, led by one Robert Catesby, smuggled 36 barrels of gunpowder into the vaults under the building. On the 5th of November 1605, Guy Fawkes was arrested attempting to light the fuse. Continue reading A Bonfire of English Vanities→
The reality that Brexit could not be delivered became apparent even in the hours after the result. Why did David Cameron, the then Prime Minister, resign? He didn’t have to. He had fought a solid campaign and had been honourably beaten. He had said that he would not resign whatever the result.
Cameron probably realised that he could not deliver the result that had been asked for. His departure was the first indication that Brexit was already on life support. Continue reading Brexit is dead.→