Down river – a week in politics

‘One log cannot support two bears.’ Sergei Shoigu, Putin’s defence minister, would, according to a one-time Kremlin adviser, have been unwise to challenge Putin for the Russian leadership. Be that as it may, it’s the idea of two bears on one log, and what they might be doing there in the first place, that intrigued me.

As for three bears… but I’m getting off the subject.

Who might we not want to share a log with? Boris Johnson, for one. It would be far too unstable. And he’s my villain of the week, for his crass comments on supporters of a trade ban on produce from the Israeli-occupied West Bank. ‘Corduroy-jacketed, snaggle-toothed, lefty academics,’ were his words. They need no comment from me.

Where else has my attention wandered this week? Let’s try Texas.

I’d also be loathe to share a log with anyone from the American gun lobby.  ‘Campus carry’ is a big issue in Texas, the eighth state to adopt legislation allowing guns to be carried on campus. Arkansas apparently permits ’only faculty’’’ to bear arms’ (Quote from the Economist). To universities, faculty and students, anywhere else in the world, this beggars belief. Encourage gun ownership, feign shock when shootings happen, in schools, on campuses, and elsewhere, and use that as a pretext for further gun-carry laws. There’s something not just crazy but evil at the heart of this.

And where would my log end up? With David Cameron on board it would be pulled to the right by unwelcome currents, and there’s a chance we could end up on the wrong shore – wrong for him, as closet European, and for me as an avowed one. Pronouncements that he has no attatchment to the institutions of Europe, on the one hand, and his averred willingness to fight heart and soul to stay in Europe if he gets the reforms he seeks rest uneasily together: it’s a scary log to ride.

One final thought on riding logs. Compare a long path stretching ahead as many times I encoutered on my recent walk. The wind may buffet, and the rain may drench you, but you know where you’re going. The river, especially the big rivers of Russia and Canada, where bears just might ride logs, can sweep all before them, currents can deceive, and you’ve no choice but to follow. The right wing in both the UK and USA want to claw back upriver, to a destination that isn’t there any more. They’ll still of course be swept downstream, but they won’t end up where they want – or expect – to be.

More on Europe another time. I’ve moored my log for now.

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