Wednesday 20 March 2019

Equinox, and the Perils of Prediction

Today is the Spring Equinox, and Radio 4 is marking the occasion with a seasonal sprinkling of vernal poems dotted about the schedule. They seem like quite a nice selection, to judge by what I've heard. Larkin's The Trees has made the cut, and, to make sure nobody gets too jolly about the coming of spring, Edward Thomas's The Cherry Trees...

The cherry trees bend over and are shedding
On the old road where all that passed are dead,
Their petals, strewing the grass as for a wedding
This early May morn when there is none to wed.

   The weather (round here at least) is disappointingly dull and grey today, but it looked very different on this day in 1966, when Richard Crossman, a Labour grandee who is now all but forgotten, wrote in his diary: 'A lovely day here ... a cloudless blue sky and hot spring air. Steady, perfect electioneering weather. It really is getting uncannily like the autumn of 1959 when Gaitskell was fighting his valiant, hopeless campaign against Macmillan and the country had never had it so good and would have nothing said against him. All this week we have been fighting 1959 in reverse. Now it is we who are on top of the world, we who are the Government being given credit for the weather.'
Amusingly, Labour went on to lose the 1966 election. Even then, political prediction was a hazardous business. As for now – well, we've reached the point where even the most usually confident pundits have given up trying to predict what's coming next. The only thing they're all agreed on is that to leave the EU without a deal on March 29th (exactly what Parliament voted for by a large majority when they triggered Article 50) would be an economic catastrophe. Which, you might recall, was exactly what they said would be the consequence of a Leave vote (and no such thing has happened).
Thanks to Mrs May's staggering incompetence at every turn, those of us (17 million or so, I seem to remember) who voted to Leave are being presented with a choice between a 'deal' that ties the country into indefinite vassal status or – well, or what? I'm just hoping the clock runs down and we end up leaving by default on the legally enshrined, and repeatedly promised, date, in nine days' time. Failing that, the best chance of getting out is to stay in for a couple of years, which would give us the chance of negotiating (competently this time, perhaps) with a weakened and differently constituted EU – and we'd still have a say in EU decision-making during those two years, which we wouldn't have under Mrs M's 'deal'.
God, this is boring. Sorry, I shan't mention it again for a while.
On the 29th March, I shall be walking in Hatfield Forest. I think that's a pretty safe prediction. 


  1. I think the reliability of the haplessness and bad faith of the anti-Brexiteers will guarantee a no deal exit on 29th probably chosen, in the event, by the EU. They will then, hilariously, get exactly what they voted for even though they don’t want it. Poetic justice. I speak as a convert to Leave.