This year, the Ashes are being played for in England. For lesser breeds without the law for whom that sentence means nothing, the cricket teams of England and Australia are playing a five match series – each match, in theory, lasting five days – to decide ownership of a tiny urn commemorating the defeat of England by Australia in 1882.
It is, generally speaking, a grudge match. Particularly so now since three Australian players are returning after a year’s suspension for ball tampering. See? Cricket is not so dull after all!
Ball tampering? Doing something unnatural to a cricket ball to assist the bowler in having an unfair advantage over the batsman. Polishing one side of the ball while leaving the other side rough produces a ball which is inclined to swing unexpectedly, thus wrongfooting the batsman. Polishing the ball on the trousers is an accepted method….other methods have been used which are more dubious…sucking sweets and slathering the resultant saliva on the ball – yuck …putting vaseline on your forehead and wiping it on the ball – slightly less yuck…having a pocket full of dirt and rubbing that into the rough side of the ball – not recommended by your tailor….
But these three went one further…the captain – and, no doubt the bowlers who escaped sanction as their country needed them – knew that ball tampering was going on. The opening batsman – and biggest mouth on the team – induced the latest team member, who wanted to keep his place, to have a sheet of sandpaper in his pocket, with which to rough up the already rough side of the ball. They were playing South Africa, whose team had already had their suspicions and who asked that the cameras were directed onto the sandpaper wielder…who was caught in the act
Thus the year’s suspension, which expired – what a surprise – to allow them to play in the Ashes.
Their reception has not been warm. Booed out to bat and booed back in again when bowled out…while when fielding the main culprit was serenaded by the crowd to the tune of ‘The whole world in His hands’ the words being ‘he has sandpaper in his hands’.
In normal circumstances a Test match has a certain effect in this household. Given that I will be glued to the radio for the duration and that we are seven hours behind the U.K. Higher Authority, dogs, poultry and sheep are resigned to being fed early – during the lunch interval in England – and thereafter being ignored until lunch here which is close of play in England. Meals from the freezer figure largely and barking is discouraged.
However, this year the fourth Test Match has a rival even more enthralling than sandpapergate. …
Where the main players could appropriately be greeted by the chant that greets the Aussies–
Same old – fill in the name of your choice – always cheating’.
Such is the nature of the British constitution that it is possible to have a change of Prime Minister without a General Election. The ruling party sorts it out itself and lumbers the populace with the result, so as long as the new incumbent can maintain a majority in the House of Commons his, her or its bottom is safely on the seat of power until the rest of the five year term of Parliament expires.
So the current booby should be sitting pretty…no?
He came in on a rush of blood to the head, announcing that he would settle Brexit once and for all. He wanted a deal with the European Union, but if not then the U.K. would go it alone.
Panic in the dovecotes! Someone sounding as if they meant what they said…unusual in subfusc Britain where so much is supposed to be conveyed in hints and nuances, lest the voters might discover what their leaders are up to.
Nuclear meltdown in the dovecotes! He wants to prorogue Parliament – suspend its sittings – to prevent M.P.s from fouling up his negotiations with the E.U. by offering the latter aid and comfort.
The four horsemen ride forth! He has withdrawn the whip from twenty one Tory M.P.s who have not supported the government in a vote in the House of Commons. Being Tory M.P.s one would imagine that lack of contact with the whip would particularly affect them – but these are heroes! They can forego the kiss of the whip!
These men and women have, over the years, brought forward, voted for and promulgated measures which have brought poverty and insecurity to the lives of many ordinary people…but today they are heroes! They are saving democracy!
But by withdrawing the whip the booby lost his majority in the Commons. His bottom is no longer secure on the seat of power. And all this since taking office on July 24th….he moves fast for one of his build.
And now comes the retribution from those saving British democracy….the Speaker of the House and opposition M.P.s – not forgetting the heroes, of course.
They are passing an Act which will mandate him to seek yet another extension of the process of leaving the E.U. – a process which already resembles trying to walk up the down escalator at Holborn tube station in the rush hour. And they have written the letter of application for him too…
The booby sought an escape in the frenzy of a General Election….but the guardians of democracy will not permit it until the deadline for leaving the E.U. – currently at October 31st – is passed, just in case he wins a majority and heaves the U.K. over the line.
The whole thing has been very bad tempered. The Speaker made a personal attack on a member of the government, the booby called the leader of Her Majesty’s opposition a big girl’s blouse, M.P.s in general have been shouting down those wishing to speak and if this is the mother of parliaments one could understand a wish among its children to declare themselves orphans.
What is the booby to do? Set down a vote of no confidence in his own government to trigger an election outwith the provisions of the Fixed-term Parliament Act of 2011 – an Act designed to keep uneasy bedfellows in a coalition government together?
Resign and let the various forces
Goodness only knows….but in the meantime we should examine the case of the blockage in the No lobby.
When the House of Commons votes, its members pass through either the Aye or the No lobby to be counted…both by clerks of the House and by tellers appointed by the appropriate sides.
Now, when the House began to examine the bill to block the booby from going hell for leather for a no deal exit from the E.U. it turned itself into a Committee of the Whole House…the mace was taken from the clerks’ table and a deputy Speaker took the chair.
The various amendments were proposed and discussed…among them a proposal to re examine the withdrawal agreement made between the E.U. and the previous booby, which had been rejected by the House three times already as even those who wished to remain in the E.U. could not stomach its provisions.
A division was announced…the tellers from the two sides were recognised by the deputy Speaker and the M.P.s toddled off to vote. It was assumed that the amendment would be lost given its history.
There was an inordinate delay and finally the deputy Speaker asked someone to investigate the blockage in the No lobby. The white tie and black tailed official went away and returned to report that there were no tellers in the No lobby….the votes could not be counted.
Accordingly, the Withdrawal Agreement was passed as agreed….Lazarus risen from the dead.
The tellers were provided by the government of the booby…so why did they not act? Why allow Lazarus to arise from his winding sheet?
Significantly, no one in the other parties questioned the lapse….
The amendment was proposed by the Honorable Stephen Kinnock, well known opponent of the leader of his party, Jeremy Corbyn and firmly in favour of remaining in Europe.
The current booby was previously a supporter of the remain in Europe faction…he took leadership of the Leave campaign in the referendum of 2016 convinced that his group would lose…but that his support would gain him a following among the anti Europe constituency members…useful for a later power coup.
Given the current situation, Lazarus may appear to weary M.P.s – and to an exasperated electorate – to be a ready made solution.
So…ask yourselves…why did the booby allow his parliamentary managers to ‘lose’ two tellers on what seemed to be an insignificent vote?
Is he what he seems to be…someone determined to leave the E.U. on the best terms possible…or is he cheating, serving those who wish to remain?