In May 1756 Admiral John Byng failed to win the 'Battle of Minorca'. An ailing and failing Government needed a scapegoat for the defeat and Byng was ultimately executed by Firing Squad. The incident, famously, caused Voltaire to write satirically "il est bon de tuer de temps en temps un amiral pour encourager les autres"- for the non-francophones "it is good to kill an admiral from time to time to encourage the others".
"But how intolerable bright the morning is where we who are alive and remain, walk lifted up, carried forward by an effective word."
― David Jones, 'In Parenthesis'
As Remembrance Sunday approaches my thoughts turn as ever to my Great Grandfather William Pitt. He was a Serjeant in the Machine Gun Corps, and was killed at the third battle of Ypres, perhaps better known as Passchendaele. He has no known grave, but is commemorated at the War Cemetery of Tyne Cot. I didn't know him although I did his youngest daughter Lille, who was born two weeks before he was killed. He never saw his daughter. Lille was my link to that most dreadful struggle, the Great War. I'm very proud of William.
Make no mistake we are not trying to reopen the Brexit debate. The United Kingdom has now left the European Union.
That will present both opportunities and challenges. The opportunity is for the Government to make good on promises to boost United Kingdom exports. The challenge is to do so without compromising United Kingdom standards in manufacturing and food quality. It will be a hollow victory indeed if a 'more global Britain' is also a less safe and a less healthy one.
The coronavirus crisis has changed many aspects of our lives. This month one of the pressing questions for parents of young children is "should I let my children go trick or treating?".
You'd have thought this would be an easy question for the Conservative Government to answer. But interviewed this past week all Tory Minister Nadhim Zahawi would say is "hands, face, space" (good advice) and "use your common sense". So yes or no Minister? Is it a good idea for children to be going from house to house?
We are holding a Candidate Q+A Evening on Friday 30th October at 7pm. The event will be held via Zoom. If you would like to attend please contact the Secretary via email at email@example.com
Liberal Democrat Councillors will today bring a motion of 'no confidence' in Mid Devon District Council Leader Bob Deed. Councillor Deed recently 'sacked' Liberal Democrat members of his Cabinet after losing a vote, 7 to 1, on the controversial Greater Exeter Strategic Plan (GESP).
The Plan proposes significantly more house building than envisaged under the Council's own neighbourhood development plan and has met with opposition, as it is seen as being more about the urban needs of Exeter than the rural needs of mid Devon.
In a reference to the despotic French monarch, Louis XIV, leader of the Liberal Democrat Group, Luke Taylor, accused Mr Deed of "… acting like the Sun King, imposing his will on the Council against all standards of reasonable democratic behaviour."
You may just be noticing references in newspapers and on TV to the Greater Exeter Strategic Plan (GESP). You may be wondering what it is, and if it will affect you. It could have big implications for Mid- and East Devon, Exeter and the Teignbridge areas affecting house building, roads and infrastructure. As such it is likely to be controversial, with some in favour, some very strongly against. We will try to set out here what the big picture is, and how it may affect us, without taking sides. This is likely to be a big local issue over the next few years, so you may want to take the time to learn a little more.
"Reputation, reputation, reputation! O, I have lost my reputation! I have lost the immortal part of myself, and what remains is bestial. My reputation, Iago, my reputation!" From 'Othello' by William Shakespeare, Act II, Scene III, line 254.
Schools are going back and in a September Summer sun bags are packed with freshly acquired pencils and course-work. I suspect former Prime Minister John Major studied, as millions have and will, Shakespeare's play 'Othello.' Iago an evil ensign, disappointed in promotion, takes revenge by convincing his General, Othello, that his wife Desdemona has committed adultery. Cassio, a supporter of Othello's gets horribly drunk and disgraces himself. As a teenager I found Cassio's speech about reputation funny. I think I missed the point!
As a matter of principle I've started asking people in public spaces (where the wearing of face coverings is mandated - such as on public transport and in shops) why they aren't wearing masks. I'm always polite. I'm always ready to accept there may be a good reason - I suffer from asthma so I know it's not a great experience. Alas invariably I am received with abuse, 'effing and blinding'.