The other evening we were watching a nature programme narrated by the real monarch of our isles, Sir David Attenborough, the person we all trust to tell it like it is.  As it happened, it concerned somewhere called Australia, a land mass cut off from all the other continents since before the time when the dinosaurs died out.  As a result, the animals which took over when the dinosaurs departed this world were rather different to the animals with which we are familiar on the other landmasses of our globe.  They became even more different because of the working of evolution over the last few million years, mainly as a result of the fact that Australia has gradually moved from the colder South to nearer the equator. 

Although some animals were introduced by Europeans, it seems that virtually all of the indigenous mammals such as the kangaroo and the koala are marsupials. But I particularly liked the 2 metre tall Cassowary, the male of which is alone responsible for bringing up the young. 

Watching the chicks following their immense father around was in itself an example of trust.  With his size 12 feet, he could just as easily have trampled them underfoot. Parental responsibilities are integral to the anatomical structure of kangaroos, with the pouches carrying the joeys until they are up to 18 months old and then continued parental care for some time after that.  Of course, no nature documentary would be complete without its other side, the part which is red in tooth and claw. In this case, we saw extraordinary footage of a dingo hunting kangaroos, a not-very cuddly mother dingo wanting to find nourishment for her dingo puppies, who trusted her to provide for them.

Of course, trust is something which we associate more readily with humans, or at least some humans.  We feel trust towards people who are our friends and, mostly, our relatives.  Quite what emotion is in the mind of Cassowary chicks, joeys or Dingo puppies is difficult to say, but we have no reason to assume that it is not in some way analogous to ours.  I suspect that with lower orders of fauna, trust is not really the word we should use.  It is probably caution, in case, as one male spider with 4 eyes was clearly aware during the programme, he might be eaten if his intended mate didn’t fancy him.  He was lucky! 

Certainly, as humans, we rely very much on trust to create a functional society, but in our case it is also often trust backed up with caution.  We use our reason to temper our emotions.  We walk down the street in the expectation that we will not be mugged or worse and normally we are right to do so, but this is all against a background of a society in which we have laws and law enforcement – penalties for breach of trust.  We know that in other parts of the world, obviously not Australia, the rule of law does not apply in quite the same way and the temptation to rob someone, particularly a foreigner, may well be quite strong.

The big question at the moment, however, is the trust we can place in politicians.  We have been used to distrusting whatever is said by dictators or by those with dictatorial tendencies – those who somehow seem to cling on to power for more terms that their constitutions normally permit, those whose families and friends seem to have taken prominent positions in government.  We have become almost inured to the extreme exaggeration used by the extremes of left and right in very many democratic of countries, but now we have the same infection in the heart of our democracy, with President Trump in the United States and dare I say it, Prime Minister Boris, and many others in both major parties, who simply cannot be believed. It’s the old joke – how do you know when a politician is lying?  When his lips move!  The thing is that this used to be an unfair exaggeration, but now it is actually true of our very own leaders.

We now though have an ironic situation here in England. Although we can trust that Jezza and McDonnell, his avowed Marxist chum, would try to implement what they've put in their manifesto, the country would suffer extremely badly if they succeeded. We would be going back to the 70s, with the Unions in charge, inflation reducing the value of our income and inefficient nationalised industries. After all, who ever in response to the question: “Who should run a dynamic successful business?” said “Bureaucrats”.

We can also trust Bozza to 'Get Brexit Done', but only in the sense that, with a majority in the Commons, he would get his Brexit agreement into law.  Again, though, what effect would it have on the UK? Their manifesto, published on Sunday, tells us that under no circumstances will the one year transition period be extended. Which means that, as I anticipated some time ago would happen, the European Research Group will be in control. 

Boris says it will be simple to negotiate the new agreement because we already share the same standards and indeed laws with the EU. 
But that isn't really the point.  He wants to be able to change the law.  He and his ERG mates tell us that they do not want to have proscriptive laws and regulations dictated by Brussels telling us exactly how things should be done. They want instead to have a system under which, as long as we achieve the desired outcome, then how we get there should be of no consequence. Like that's a simple thing to achieve!? 

But if we believe the manifesto, then we have to complete our negotiations with the EU for a bilateral trade agreement within the one year transition period or crash out on WTO terms – which is actually the ERG's preferred option.
According to the commentators, no-one has yet done a deal with the EU in under 3 years. And of course we have the coming zombification of the WTO on 10 December.

So then, we have Jezza and McDonnell wanting to bankrupt the country by spending really eye-watering sums of money we haven't got, and so automatically putting their beloved NHS at risk.  And then we have Bozza determined to finalise Brexit regardless of the consequences to our economy.  Which means that in both cases, ironically, I'd prefer my trust in what they say to be completely misplaced!  Can we elect Sir David Attenborough instead?

Paul Buckingham

25 November 2019

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