My best attempt at playing Captain Hindsight.
In tribute to the lockdown quizzes we are so keen to forget, I have one last challenge. Find the nine musical puns here, and you will win my respect.
Put your head on my shoulder, as we Dance In The Moonlight of this week’s most significant political stories. Since Monday, we’ve had: a falling international aid budget, threats of Scottish independence, Trump tantrums and more vaccine results. Although a list of this week’s big news stories could never end, my musical puns must. But not quite yet.
On Wednesday, the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, announced his Spending Review, painting a poor image of the UK’s public finances and telling us how he plans to make them beautiful again. Unfortunately, his plans involve cutting foreign aid from 0.7% of UK GNI, which measures the size of our economy, to 0.5%. This will save at least £4 billion, at the cost of the world’s least fortunate.
Faster than a firing squad, a battalion of Britain’s Great and Good, including five former prime ministers and the Archbishop’s of Canterbury and York have come out in criticism of the decision, as have some Tory MPs. Aid minister, Baroness Sugg, David Cameron’s former chief of staff, quit in protest at the decision. Speaking of, our Prime Minister has a new Downing Street chief of staff, Andrew Pierce, who starts on Monday.
The UK commitment to spend 0.7% of GNI on international development aid is enshrined in law by the International Development (Official Development Assistance Target) Act Of 2015. The UK has met the target every year since 2013, according to the House Of Commons Library. This made us one of the most generous nations on Earth, spending more proportionally then Germany, France, Ireland, or Spain. And it seems like yesterday, we spent more on aid than anybody else in the G7. But those days are gone, they’re just memories.
Instead, we’re saving all our love for the Army, Navy, and Air Force. Monday last week, the Prime Minister promised a defence spending boost, worth £16.5 billion over four years and creating 40,000 new jobs. This package includes a new Space Command based in Scotland, which may be problematic. The spending pledge will see the Defence budget account for 2.2 per cent of GDP, exceeding NATO guidelines.
Key stat: Our falling GNI means that this years’ aid spending was already falling; this decision cuts it further.
This weekend, members of SNP will dance to the beat the of their own (independence) drum. The Scottish National Party (SNP) hold their conference this weekend. They promise to try and secure another referendum if they win the Scottish elections in May next year, which were postponed due to the pandemic. Polls suggest they’ll be walking on sunshine if they get the go-ahead. Every one of the last 14 polls indicates a victory for the nationalists.
In 2014, under a very different Westminster government and in a very different climate, Scotland voted to remain part of the UK, by 55% to 45%. Current SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon, and the former-and-now-disgraced-leader, Alex Salmond said it was ‘a once in a generation‘ opportunity, although none could have possibly seen what was coming down the road. Brexit bugbears, pandemic politics and bleary Boris are all notes in the Scottish independence tune.
It’s not all fifth harmony, though. Both the Scottish Labour and Scottish Tory parties will be fighting for the Union, and polls have been wrong before. Independence still poses many questions, surrounding currency, economy and future relationship with the EU.
Key stat: In this weekend’s SNP conference agenda, independence gets 43 mentions, but police, crime, and small business get none.
A bit like rock band The Scorpions, President Trump plans on going out with a bang. Earlier this week, General Services Administrator Emily Murphy began the transition process allowing Biden administration officials access to Federal resources and top security briefings. Recently, the Trump campaign has dropped nine legal cases, although that leaves about 30 to go. These are expected to be dismissed shortly.
V FOR VICTORY:
In March 1941, Morris van Moppes wrote lyrics to the opening bars of Beethoven’s 5th symphony, calling it ‘La Chanson Des V‘ (The song of V). This week, in Oxford, another V gained national notoriety: the results of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine were published.
Trials showed it to be 62-90% effective, although that’s not the big news. The Oxford vaccine can be stored restored at 2-8°C, making it easier to distribute globally, unlike the Moderna vaccine, which must be stored at -20°C or the Pfizer vaccine requiring – 70°C. The Oxford vaccine is also cheaper than its competitors, costing around £3 a dose, compared to £15 or £30 for the Pfizer and Moderna versions respectively.
COMING UP NEXT WEEK:
More Brexit brawls as deadlines draw near, Tears over Tiers as lockdown is lifted, and Irate Iranians mourn a senior scientist, responsible for their nuclear programme.
In this article are nine musical puns, I hope they made you Happy.