The Friday Speed Read
It was ‘Beard of the Year” Winner 1879 Mr Karl Marx who said, amongst many other things, “history repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce”. And you know what? If this past week is anything to go by then he may just have been barking up entirely the right tree as the News Machine seemed trapped in an ever-decreasing circle (in a surprising early TFSR reference to 80s sitcom) of reportage.
The big story of the week was not quite the one we were expecting. The Brexit Bill successfully passed through parliament and was given royal assent, thus, using a metaphor that remains ever-popular amongst the press, firing the starting pistol on the UK’s divorce from the EU. And to be honest, given the era-defining nature of what lies ahead, the whole thing felt a little like an anti-climax. However, this calm acceptance of “the will of the people” was not being shared north of the border and only a day later, Nicola Sturgeon unleashed the kind of fury that the Scots excel at and made a speech in which she demanded that Remain-voting Scotland be given a referendum on independence. Another one.
Sturgeon cannily played the “I’ve been like really patient and reasonable” card and claimed that TM the PM had not given an inch in her pursuit of a hard Brexit, regardless of what Scotland thought about it. It’s easy to dismiss all of this as just politics, but if Sturgeon can force a new referendum based not only independence but on de-facto membership of the EU then maybe we could really be seeing, in the words of many newspapers, the “the death of the Union”.
TM the PM latterly responded to Sturgeon’s request with the kind of look that can split atoms and refused to countenance any new referendum until after Brexit has been negotiated. Whether she can stick to this in the face of a vote by the Scottish parliament remains to be seen. We are living in interesting times. Perhaps too interesting.
Elsewhere in repetition news, Donald Trump signed a new executive order banning entry to the USA to people from his list of “bad dude” nations and once again, the American legal system blocked its passage into law. And once again DJT got very cross about this and employed his now familiar tactic of making a series of unsubstantiated claims about something else entirely. This week GCQH in Cheltenham got it in the neck (via press secretary Spicer) for helping Obama supposedly wiretap the Trump election campaign. It’s safe to say GCHQ remained unamused about the claims.
From international conspiracy and espionage to vanilla slices and royal icing as Bake Off made yet another return to the newspapers after Channel 4 announced the show’s new presenting line-up. “Can you believe that this is the new face of Bake Off?” spluttered the Daily Mail alongside a picture of comedian Noel Fielding as it turned out that he’d got the gig alongside Sandi Toksvig and food writer Prue Leith. It could only have been a more Channel 4 style line-up if the show was to be presented naked and all the bakes were timed by the Countdown clock. Which you know, could still happen.
Prince William took another kicking from the press and The Sun in particular, for being “workshy” as he embarked on another skiing holiday, prompting some classic headline puns: “Throne Idle” being the winner and a lot better than “Ice work if you can get it”. To be fair to William, he does spend a lot of time flying an air ambulance. But presumably this doesn’t count.
And to stretch the circle metaphor for one last paragraph, Chancellor Philip Hammond performed an artful 360 degree turn on his budget announcement of a rise in National Insurance contributions for the self-employed. However, we can be fairly sure that the change of mind was not of his own making and indeed the Telegraph almost-quotes TM the PM herself who apparently told Comedy Phil “We are reversing this – I don’t care how bad it is for you”. Just the sort of thing you want to hear from your boss.
Finally, the pop charts are broken. And they’ve been broken by Ed Sheeran whose songs currently occupy every single place on every single chart in every single country on this planet of ours. Or something like that anyway. Lots of people are quite cross about this and wonder if a new system for calculating the popularity of songs is needed. One in which songs like “Everything I do, I do it for you” can still sit at number one for the lifetime of several small mammals. That’s the world we want to live in.
And that’s the week. Hope you’ve all survived it. Now, if only there was a song that could somehow suggest that the recent news has been a little bit of history repeating. Oh yes, there is one. It’s called History Repeating. And here it is: