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Life: Pause and Reflect

Did you know that Friday December 21, 2018, marked the last cartoon penned by Stan McMurty, otherwise known as ‘Mac’ of the Daily Mail?

You would of course know if you are a Mail reader but not if you aren’t. Whatever your views of the newspaper, Mr. McMurty is now retiring at the age of 82 and has entertained its readers for a remarkable 50 years, which is some going. All newspapers have a cartoonist or two and all of them make us smile, and sometimes laugh out loud.

It is a good thing too, as the content of newspapers tends to be a little gloomy, sometimes with justification, sometimes not.

Jeremy Corbyn’s remark in the House of Commons last week has aroused controversy but in a campaign video released on Twitter, he said, ‘…we should be facing up to the real issues that people in our country face… poverty, Universal Credit and homelessness in our society’.

He has a point.

Much is made today of who said what, and of things that, while they might matter a little, are soon forgotten as we go about our daily lives. I am not a fan of Jeremy Corbyn but, as I have said before, do not criticise him for what he believes in. Neither will I join the chorus against him for his remark last week, even though I do think he was wrong to utter it, whether he said what he is alleged to have said or what he says he did say.

Is it really, really that vital? Yes, it matters but are there not things of greater importance, like the numbers of people that cannot afford somewhere to live, or who do not have enough money to merely get by. Health fanatics can blather on as much as they wish on the value of eating properly but there are too many people who cannot afford to, so they eat what they can, which is usually less beneficial foods.

Universal Credit (UC) is not a ‘bad’ idea of itself but as with almost everything introduced by career politicians with no idea of real life for real people, the manner of that introduction is creating problems that it should not have. The same applies to Brexit – that it must take place is undeniable. The people had a vote and a majority voted to leave. That’s how democracy works. But the departure of the UK from the EU has been so badly mishandled by posturing panjandrums on both sides that it has become a divisive thing, when in fact, and as contrary as it sounds, it should be a unifying event.

It should be so because it should unite the UK to make the country a successful, open and independent state that works and trades freely with all countries around the world, and it should act as a means by which the UK and the EU unite to form a partnership, an alliance that will face whatever challenges there may be.

One doesn’t have to be a member of something to be friends with it.

How many this year will watch and listen to Her Majesty The Queen at 3pm on Christmas Day? Doing so has been a ritual in my household and it is not going to change any time soon. Sadly, it seems that, according to a survey by Families Online, 81 per cent of households with young children will not be watching the broadcast this year. Why not? Queen Elizabeth II has been one of those unifying factors that the UK needs for a very long time.

The United Kingdom has gained much from its cultural diversity and like all things, has evolved over the years. Everything moves on at some point, like Stan McMurty, but that doesn’t mean turning our backs on what we leave behind. Or for that matter, on those less fortunate than others.

We need to focus on the things that really matter in 2019, including leaving the EU and creating a proper working relationship with it, on dealing with homelessness and helping those of our citizens that need it, on regaining our ability to speak freely (whether we offend somebody or not by so doing) and giving less attention to fripperies and things that are not really important.

Perhaps that is the lesson that may emerge from 2018 as it passes into history.

Whatever your background, from wherever you may have come, and however you wish to phrase it or refer to it yourself, have a very happy Christmas and may 2019 be a good one for all of us.

© Kevan James 2018

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