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Wrecking Reckonings

Across The Pond, and north of the border, it’s finally happened. The Trump in dock shock was a first, and the potential fall from grace of Scotland’s former first family might yet harm Rishi Sunak. As our Political Correspondent Peter Spencer reports, what’s happening raises questions for all of us.

We’ve got a lot of here and now stuff to contend with, with the Easter getaway marred by queues everywhere, and the NHS struggling with the junior doctors’ walkout.

But the bigger question of trust in our democratic process has more far-reaching implications.

Oscar Wilde is said to have described America as: ‘The only country that went from barbarism to decadence without civilisation in between.’

Looking at the man the Yanks sort of chose for president in 2016, you can’t help but wonder.

The tawdry business of hush money paid to button the lip of the lady with whom Trump’s alleged to have had a one-night-stand is a detail.

But in her first interview since the story blew up, the adult actress Stormy Daniels said: ‘The king has been dethroned – he’s no longer untouchable.’

Agreed, says former federal prosecutor Michael McAuliffe.

‘He’s now got the label of a criminal defendant in an ongoing prosecution. I’d say he’s in a heap of trouble.’

Certainly, if the Donald were found guilty of all the crimes he’s accused of committing, the maximum jail term would add up to a hundred-and-thirty-six years.

And yet his aides have been crowing about the seven million dollars already raised, after his indictment, for his 2024 re-election campaign.

Also, polls suggest he’s dramatically widened his lead over his Republican rival Ron DeSantis.

After his court appearance he told supporters that America: ‘Is going to hell.’ Which you can take more than one way.

However, the most equivocal statement of the week came from the new First Minister of Scotland, Humza Yousaf.

After the arrest of his predecessor Nicola Sturgeon’s husband, as part of a probe into the Scot Nats’ finances, Mr Yousaf foresaw a ‘difficult’ period for the party.

Mr McPlod wants to know what happened to more than half a million pounds of SNP money while Nicola’s hubby Peter Murrell was running the show.

And many people are wondering whether her departure and his spot of bother might be connected.

An awful lot of voters were certainly unimpressed by the nasty campaigns to replace her.

And polls suggest that Labour, almost eradicated in Scotland by the rise of the nationalists, are now only a few points behind them.

If they were to get back all forty of the seats they lost in 2015, the Conservatives would be in even deeper doo-doo in next year’s expected election than they are already.

Notwithstanding Rishi Sunak’s personal rating far outstripping his party’s, nearly all surveys put the Conservatives at least twenty points behind the opposition.

Which makes you wonder whether his decision to big up his problem over asylum seekers wasn’t a bit of an own goal.

Nearly all the expense and nimby protests wherever these people are to be housed, or shut up in ships, stem from the delays in processing their claims.

Seeing as all that’s down to the Home Office manifestly not being up to the job, it might have been smarter of Sunak not to get the nation in such a fluster about it.

After all, fewer than fifty thousand incomers simply can’t make that much difference to a UK population of getting on for seventy million.

Nonetheless, with the government pressing on with its new legislation, that amounts to locking up then slinging out all the boat people, Gary Lineker’s take heaves into view.

Whether people share his rage at what’s going on, or just think he’s a cool footie dude, it’s hard to tell.

But let’s weigh up his charge, that the Tories are being heartless, against ministerial protests that asylum seekers should find safe and legal ways of getting here.

Sounds sensible enough, except that Robert Jenrick, the minister responsible for such things, rather let the cat out of the bag last week. Here are his words. Verbatim:

‘There is no provision within our immigration rules for someone to be allowed to travel to the UK to claim asylum or temporary refuge or make a claim for asylum or protection from abroad.’

Er? Discuss?

Still, at least it’s clear. And, apparently irrefutable. Unlike the Home Secretary’s protestations that all those hideous delays at the Port of Dover are not down to Brexit.

Bordering on Orwellian Newspeak that, like saying war is peace, freedom is slavery, or ignorance is Strength.

When the bedraggled British holidaymakers finally got to the border checks and found out how much longer they take than they used to, the penny collectively dropped.

And even Number Ten had no choice but to later admit the obvious.

Still, if that’s down to us, or at least the small majority of us to opted to leave the EU, you can’t blame Russian voters for the Ukrainian invasion.

That has to be down to the current personification of all that George Orwell was tilting at in his terrifying novel 1984.

And while Putin’s lightning takeover of his neighbour didn’t happen, and his brutalised forces face setback after setback, last week saw another spectacular own goal.

It passed with no more razzmatazz than Trump’s court appearance, but the latest accession to NATO gave the paranoid brute a neighbour not to be trifled with.

Having fought the Red Army during World War Two, Finland’s made a point of being armed to the teeth.

With more than a quarter of million reservists and masses of tanks and aircraft, its military is one of the most powerful in Europe.

Yet more proof that Vlad the Mad really is delusional, making it all up as he goes along and wondering why it all goes wrong.

Given his own lack of humanity, maybe he’d be better off leaving it all to smarter minds that don’t even pretend. It worked for York uni student Millie Houlton.

When she got a issued with a parking fine, for leaving her car perfectly legally in her own street, she had three choices.

Just pay up to save the hassle of arguing, spend ages compiling a response to get the council off her back, or, best of all, give artificial intelligence a go.

As she put it: ‘I don’t need this fine, I’m a student, but trying to articulate what I wanted to say was pretty difficult so I thought I’ll just see if ChatGPT can do it for me.’

She did. It worked. And you wonder why she didn’t then get it to write her essays for her and go out and enjoy the sunshine instead. Not like she’d be the first.

Which might leave you wondering whether this was written by Peter Spencer. After all, last word to Wilde:

‘The first duty in life is to be as artificial as possible. What the second duty is no one has as yet discovered.’


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