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Protempore ...

Timing and consequences aren’t a problem for the current UK Government


In some circles, they say that timing is everything.

And if you look and listen closely enough, you can find examples of exquisite timing almost everywhere. Listen to any of Chopin’s nocturnes and you’d be forgiven for thinking that at certain moments, a note was about to be missed and then there it is, struck in the very millisecond of space it was meant to occupy.

Watch old clips of Denis Law, his long sleeves gripped in his hands as he floats up in the air to execute an overhead kick, naturally bringing into play all of the physics which calculate when the maximum force can be applied along with the ball’s intended route out of reach of the goalkeeper.

And forget all of the apocryphal stories you’ve heard about Ringo Starr being a duff drummer. I’ve lost count of the number of interviews I’ve seen with other drummers who are completely perplexed at how he used to be able to nail song after song with absolutely perfect timing, all the while playing a right-handed drum kit as a left-handed drummer. If you really need persuading, listen to Ticket to Ride.

And then there’s Richard Burton, whose reading of Thomas Hardy and Dylan Thomas’s poetry makes the timing and precision of a Rolex watch look cumbersome and awkward.

And in politics, timing can also be crucial. A policy announcement pitched at the wrong time can be disastrous and have seriously unintended consequences. But timing and unintended consequences aren’t a problem for the current UK Government because they simply don’t care about what their actions might lead to.

They’re perfectly happy to ride bulls through china shops and then shrug their shoulders when the bullshit hits the fan. And talking of china, one of the Tories latest moves couldn’t have been more badly timed, with the consequences falling on the entire planet.

In November, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 26th Conference of Parties (COP26) climate summit will take place in Glasgow. The conference marks five years since the Paris Agreement in 2015 where a crucial framework for global action on climate change was set out.

The Paris Agreement sets out a global framework to avoid dangerous climate change by limiting global warming to well below 2°C and pursuing efforts to limit it to 1.5°C. It also aims to strengthen countries’ ability to deal with the impacts of climate change and support them in their efforts. COP26 is being viewed as the most crucial international climate summit to be staged so far.

Given the importance of the conference, you would have thought that the UK and other countries would be working extremely hard to convince China, by far the biggest polluter in the world, to come into line and set multilateral global standards to reduce climate change in what will surely be the last chance to save the planet.

How would you go about convincing China to do so? By exploring mutual concerns and ways in which all countries could work together in a spirit of shared ambition and respect? That might work. But remember, the UK Government’s timing is shit. So, what did they do?

Well, in September the UK, along with the USA and Australia, formed a new three-way strategic defence alliance, Aukus, initially to build a class of nuclear-propelled submarines, but also to work together in the Indo-Pacific region, where the rise of China is seen as an increasing threat.

Essentially, the three countries have decided that the best way to get the Chinese on board politically and economically is to flood the South China Sea with nuclear submarines capable of blowing the entire planet to smithereens.

Now I may be naïve about such things, but I’m guessing that when those three countries sit round the table in Glasgow and try to persuade the Chinese to calm down on the carbon emissions front, the Chinese delegation are likely to tell them to go whistle. And why wouldn’t they? They can argue that at least they’re destroying the planet slowly while the Aukus alliance seem to be intent on bringing matters to a close as quickly as possible.

I’m willing to bet that the Chinese won’t sign up to anything that diminishes their capability to grow their economy as they see fit. Only time will tell.


China will argue that at least they’re destroying the planet slowly while Aukus seem intent on bringing matters to a close as quickly as possible


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