A few years ago I stumbled across a BBC drama series from the 1970s, confusingly called 1990 because it was set in a dystopian Britain of the near-future. It starred Edward Woodward at the peak of his powers, but it doesn't seem to be as well-remembered as his other series like Callan and The Equalizer. I think probably the reason is that it's a bit of a mixed bag - some aspects of it work very well, while other things occasionally snap you out of the fake reality you're presented with. For example, in Britain of 1990 the crown jewels have been literally sold off, the House of Lords has been turned into a politicians' drinking club (how would you tell the difference?), and the pound sterling has been replaced by the "Anglo-Dollar", which just doesn't ring true as a name. (Unless it was imposed by the Americans themselves, of course, but that's not the storyline.) There's an unintentionally hilarious bit in the final episode of Series 1, where an old man recounts the sorry tale of Britain's descent into totalitarianism, and he says something like "it all began when they brought in that Value Added Tax in the early 70s..." That must have sounded a bit daft even at the time of broadcast.
And then there's the whole issue of Europe. Weirdly, Britain is supposed to have remained in the European Community and the Council of Europe, and therefore is still fully subject to the European Convention on Human Rights - which it circumvents by means of various technicalties, even though citizens are routinely denied all sorts of basic rights such as the right to travel, the right to free expression, and the right to a private life. When I first saw the series, I thought it was wildly implausible that European leaders would ever allow any country to get away with such a thing, or at least not without facing expulsion...which means I now need to urgently introduce my naive former self to a certain Mr Guy Verhofstadt, who seems hellbent on ensuring that 1990 proves to be an uncannily accurate prophecy - albeit in real life the rogue state is Spain rather than the UK.
Verhofstadt's latest Facebook post about the Catalan crisis is typically grotesque. It's thinly disguised as a rare criticism of Spanish actions, but in truth his only quibble seems to be that the taking of political prisoners is a tactical blunder that might allow the filthy law-breaking "separatists" to paint themselves as martyrs, thus helping them to do well in the December election. He suggests that there should be "other ways" to ensure that the jailed politicians "receive a fair trial", by which he seems to mean a delay of legal proceedings until the election is over. At no point does it even occur to him to question why elected politicians in an EU member state should be facing trial at all for the supposed "crime" of implementing the manifesto on which they were elected. He fatuously signs off with an image of demonstrators holding up a banner reading "all we need is talk" - well, exactly what interest has Verhofstadt ever shown in genuine dialogue that puts the two sides of this dispute on an equal footing, rather than putting one side in the dock of a Spanish court? I think we know the type of dialogue he has in mind - it'll be a cosy chat between the Spanish government and a puppet Catalan regime, in which they furiously agree with each other about how the Spanish constitution must be respected and how independence is a complete non-starter.
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If you were particularly 'lucky', you might have heard me on the radio this morning. The Bauer network (ie. Clyde 2, Forth 2, etc.) invited me on because of something I tweeted
the other day about what appeared to be an enormous Comic Relief-style red nose on the front of a car - but actually proved on closer inspection to be a 'poppy'. I suppose, in fairness, the whole problem with "poppy fascism" is the denial of freedom of choice, so it would be hypocritical of me to suggest that people shouldn't be free to be as ostentatious as they like with their own poppy-wearing. But I do feel that there's an inverse correlation between how large or tacky a poppy is, and how close the sentiment behind it is to the original intention of the poppy symbol.
You can hear the radio show on catch-up HERE