Westminster View - July 2019
July. All change in Downing Street, Whitehall and Her Majesty`s Representative at the Court of King Tramp. Tory Leadership candidates discover Red Jerry`s Magic Money Tree and spending promises are the order of the day. “If you cannot convince a voter, buy one”. As 0.2% of the electorate choose the interim Prime Minister of the United Kingdom the question remains: will there be another General Election in the Autumn? Our Man in Washington, Sir Kim Darroch, is ` thrown under the bus` for doing his job, the Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, campaigns for Press Freedom while Scotland Yard tries to clamp down on….the freedom of the Press. Shock! Horror! Outrage. It may not be `in the public interest` to print State Secrets but it is interesting to the public and it sells newspapers. In `the night of the blond knives` cabinet heads roll and stack up formidable opposition to the new incumbent of Number Ten on the back benches. Beware of the `Gawkward Squad` Prime Minister, and of Rory Stewart`s plans for a `Blue Momentum` movement. The Ides may come sooner than March if the Johnson battle bus careers off the road. And what a Carrie on! What to do about the interim new ` first girlfriend`? In through the front door of the official residence? Or the back door? Or not at all? All change, also in the Liberal Party as Jo Swinson defeats Sir Ed Davey to take up the reins of opposition if not of power. Crisis in the Middle East as Iran seizes a `UK Oil Tanker ` (well, a Swedish-owned foreign-crewed vessel flying the Red Duster) in tit-for-tat for the Royal Marines boarding a Syria-bound Iranian tanker off Gibraltar. Just the moment to dump your Foreign and Defence Secretaries and to replace them with newcomers to the brief. In Brussels the motley Farridge crew of new MEPs turn their backs on a European Anthem that was, along with the star-spangled blue flag, nicked from the Council of Europe and Annie Widders, one of the happy band of new Brexit Party snouts in the trough and a former Tory Home Office Minister and Strictly Come Dancing participant, hints at another tilt at the Westminster moulin. The German Defence Minister, Frau Von der Leyen, defeats Frans Timmermans and others to become the President-elect of the European Commission and Christine Lagarde, sometime French Finance Minister, is set to take over control of the European piggy bank. In the United States that well known Native American, Big Little Hands Sitting Tramp, causes genuine and synthetic outrage in suggesting that four Congresswomen should “go back home” prompting Nuremberg-style chants of “send them back` from his faithful, the Great Unthinking of America. “He only says what many people are thinking” is probably true, politically successful in dog-whistle terms, and frightening. Back at home England`s girls (sorry, Ladies, sorry Women) or to put it another way `Our Brave Lionesses`, missed out on a World Women`s Soccer Cup final losing 1-2 to the United States. “The Girls Done Well” but not quite as well as the Cricket team that allowed an outgoing Premier and her husband to watch an England side at Lord`s as she became only the third Prime Minister to see a World Cup delivered on her watch. And the Member of Parliament for the Nineteenth Century, Mr. Mogg, newly elevated – or should that be levitated? – to the position of Leader of the House, has issued guidance about the correct use of grammar and imperial measurements to his staff. He may wish to study these scribblings for countless examples of the improper use of commas and other grammatical crimes. But then I was taught that you have to know the rules before you can know how to break the rules. Sic gloria Britannica. Onwards and backwards!
As if far too much parliamentary time was not already being taken up with Brexit the further distraction of the election by the Parliamentary Conservative Party and then by the membership of a new leader and thus a new Prime Minister has probably eroded still further the public perception of politics and those that practice these ignoble arts. That less that one hundred and sixty thousand people, or 0.2% of the electorate, should be granted the privilege of selecting the next occupant of Downing Street, the man or woman charged with the duty of running the country and whose figure is, ultimately, on the red button, must seem bizarre to just about anyone else in the civilised democratic world. Save possibly, for an American whose electoral college was designed to cater for an age of hustings on horseback and that has never been fundamentally modernised.
Anyway, at the start of the month we are where we are with the former Mayor of London, Mr. Johnson, leading by 76/24 over the Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt. Bear in mind, please, that I have, from the very outset of the parliamentary process, backed Mr. Hunt, that I have been and remain an unashamed critic of Mr. Johnson`s opportunist approach to politics and that my assessment of the process is likely to be slightly less than wholly objective. It is, I trust, not sour grapes to suggest that I regard with disdain the fact that the gaffe-prone `favourite` in this contest and his minders decided to keep him largely out of harm`s way and public scrutiny until after the ballot papers had been issued and many votes cast. Thus it was that the TV interviews that would normally have exposed strengths and weaknesses and even many of the live membership hustings were held towards the back end of the campaign with little or no `head-to-head` contact. Mr. Johnson, who contrary to his preferred bluff public image, has a skin as thin as the Tramp`s, clearly took exception to some of the strong but justified attacks mounted against him by Jeremy Hunt. The last refuge of those who have no answer is bluster and Johnson`s performances frequently descended into precisely that. There is no doubt in my mind that in Northern Ireland and thereafter at hustings around the country, Jeremy Hunt won the argument and that is probably why, if not within the ranks of the paid-up membership of the Tory Party then clearly in the country at large, the polls showed that while Mr Johnson was perceived as `more pro-Brexit` Mr Hunt would, in all other long-term respects, have made a better choice as Prime Minister.
It is said that there is no more duplicitous an electorate than Members of Parliament and having worked on several leadership campaigns (John Major, William Hague, David Davis twice and now Jeremy Hunt) I can say that there are almost as many promises of support made by Members to potential Leaders at the same time as there are promises of future jobs made by potential Leaders to their `supporters`. In this instance, though, most colours were nailed fairly firmly to the mast and while some highly influential party members threw their weight behind Jeremy Hunt the Party was in populist and `celebrity` mode and colleagues with an eye on their future job prospects tossed their lot in with the likely and eventual winner. Many, clearly, will have been disappointed to find their ambitions not realised as the spoils of victory were doled out and that in itself bodes ill for harmony on the back benches. Add into that toxic mixture the seventeen or so Cabinet and junior Ministers who either resigned or were sacked in what has inevitably become known as `the night of the blond knives` and you have a very rocky Johnson grip on power indeed.
The Government`s majority and therefore the chances of this Prime Minister`s survival past Christmas have only worsened. There is a by-election in the Tory held seat of Brecon and Radnor which at the time of writing looks as though it may well be lost to the Liberals, one Tory Member faces charges of sexual abuse and although he may well vote mostly with the Government has had the whip removed and there are others whose backing – particularly for a “No Deal” Brexit - cannot be relied upon. And that, I am afraid, includes my own.
Whatever we may think of the lunacy of the system Mr. Johnson has been democratically elected by a two-to-one majority of the electorate qualified to vote. That bestows upon him, I believe, the right to command support for his endeavours until his own self-imposed deadline of October 31st by which date “Do or Die” we will “leave the European Union”. After that all bets are off. It is not just the “Gawkward Squad” of ex-Ministers, led by former Justice Secretary David Gauke, Philip Hammond the former Chancellor, Rory Stewart the former Overseas Aid Secretary and Leadership contender and others ex-ministers who have grave reservations about the direction of travel. Many, and certainly far more than the Government`s fragile majority, who have accepted the result of the referendum and voted for the Withdrawal Agreement on all three occasions, nevertheless recognise the need to put the economy and our security first in the interests of not ourselves but of future generations and will, unless there really is no alternative, oppose a `No Deal` Brexit. For Mr. Johnson to claim, as he does, that “If we leave with no deal it will be Europe`s fault” does not cut much ice. There is a strong suspicion that, driven by personal ambition and under the threat of opposition from the “Brexit Spartans” of the European Reform Group, the Prime Minister is deliberately steering the Ship of State towards the rocks of a hard Brexit while trying to present himself as the champion of a deal. I hope that his brinkmanship pays off, that those in Brussels will blink first and that I will be able to say in a couple of months` time “I was wrong” but there is a very real danger that by accident rather than by design we may find ourselves, on Hallowe`en, heading for a car crash exit from the EU. Far from this “Britain Trump”, as a Commander in Chief who has mistakenly claimed that “they like me over there”, has dubbed Johnson “Making Britain Great Again” he may “Make Britain Bankrupt Again”. Faced with a choice between a No Deal Brexit and a vote of no-confidence leading almost inexorably to a Corbyn-led minority Government we are between a rock and a hard place indeed.
The formation of the Johnson administration was fairly predictable given the debts that had to be paid. Sensibly Mr. Johnson might have chosen, at a crucial time in international affairs, to leave his challenger in place as Foreign Secretary and Penny Mordaunt, the excellent Defence Secretary and first woman to hold the post who, although a Brexiteer before Mr. Johnson decided which of his two “Remain” or “Leave” articles to publish, came out for Jeremy Hunt ought to have been left in place. Jeremy Hunt, with a command of loyalty that Mr. Johnson will never appreciate, was never going to accept the job of Secretary of State for Defence at the expense of Penny Mordaunt`s tenure of the job. His return to the back-benches will be this Government`s loss but I do not doubt that his long-term future will be bright. The rest of the new Cabinet is, we are expected to believe, gender and ethnic diverse and stuffed full of talent. There are, to be fair, some interesting appointments and the choice of Grant Shapps as Secretary of State for Transport sets a dangerous precedent: here is a man who, as an aviator himself, has a grasp of one of the Department`s neglected and road-centric briefs and a knowledge of an interest in transport that may cause civil servants used to running the show a few headaches. In the lower echelons of Government a handful of sound Ministers remain in place but generally those newly appointed to high office have a very great deal to prove. Some are re-treads who have already failed once while others may yet pleasantly surprise us all and make the grade. The jury on this as on the premiership itself is out.
That the contents of private cables sent by our Ambassador to the United States, Sir Kim Darroch, were leaked to the tabloid press is a disgrace and highly damaging to the future confidence of some of our finest civil servants. True, many of us were surprised by the extent of the circulation list of these missives and you can argue with hindsight that Sir Kim, one of our most highly regarded and experienced diplomats, might have thought twice about the candour with which he committed his thoughts to the modern equivalent of parchment. The whole point, though, of these communications is that they are, at times, brutally honest and convey the thoughts of the experienced observer in terms that even the meanest of political intelligence can grasp. In saying that the present incumbent of the White House is incompetent, insecure and inept is voicing an opinion that is scarcely either novel or surprising. A bigger, better, bolder President might have shrugged off the comments as an unfortunate breach of confidence. The Tramp, predictably, took to the twittersphere to condemn Sir Kim, host to many of the President`s own team at lavish parties, as `not well liked or well thought-of in the United States adding that he could ` no longer deal with the Ambassador`. Our Prime Minister and our Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, stood by our man. Perhaps again unsurprisingly Mr. Johnson backed the President against Britain prompting Sir Alan Duncan, the Minister of State for Europe and a man who has worked with both Johnson and Hunt at the Foreign Office, to say that the former had “thrown Sor Kim under a bus”. The consequent and enforced resignation of an excellent civil servant has left a bitter taste: if our diplomats cannot `speak truth unto power` in the knowledge that they will have the support and backing of those that they serve then where does that leave the integrity of the information upon which those in high office ought to be able to rely? It will, I suspect, be a very long time if ever before those in Whitehall feel able to trust the man who at present occupies the office of First Lord of the Treasury. Johnson has shown his true colours and they are craven to say the least.
The Tramp, of course, is well pleased with the election of “Britain Trump” to the job. During his `state visit` to the United Kingdom he heaped praise upon Theresa May, saying that she had done a good job, although “it was the Queen that I was most impressed with”. One can only hazard a guess at whether or not Her Maj reciprocated these sentiments but she is used to dealing with all manner of` here today-gone tomorrow` arrogant bullies and is in any event far too great a lady to let animosity cloud her natural courtesy. Back on American soil and smarting from Sir Kim`s candid assessment of his mediocrity The Tramp reverted to saying that Mrs May had “done a bad job” and that “Boris is good” supplemented with the observation that “they like me over there”. It would be sad if the British did not respect the office of the President of one of our oldest and greatest allies but I would hazard a guess that if The Tramp seriously believes that the British people have much warmth or affection for him personally then he is even more dangerously deluded than we might have thought. When powerful people surround themselves with staff that tell them only what they want to hear and not want they need to hear and when they are protected from seeing the harsh realities around them then we are in big trouble. We have to hope that our new Prime Minister is not beguiled by this egomania during his three planned visits to America in the coming weeks.
In other news the situation in the Middle East gives ongoing excuse for rising alarm. While fighting a leadership campaign the Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has had to deal with not only the fallout from the Kim Darroch leaks but also the escalating tension caused by the seizure by the Royal Marines, off Gibraltar, of an Iranian oil-tanker almost certainly engaged in a sanctions-busting delivery of fuel to Syria and a consequent seizure of British-flagged vessels in the Straits of Hormuz in the Gulf of Persia. Whether it was wise or necessary to board the Iranian ship at the behest of US intelligence services is a moot point: the Assad regime in Syria is just as brutal and oppressive as it ever was before it was propped up by the intervention of the Russian Federation and if sanctions are imposed internationally then they have to be enforced. The action was justified but was it wise? The Tramp`s animosity towards Iran is a matter of fact and his displeasure at the failure of Europe and the United Kingdom to join him in tearing up the nuclear treaty negotiated by O`Bama, probably more out of domestic spite than any rational policy decision, is well-known. At the same time the British hostage, Mrs Nazarin Zahari-Ratcliffe, still languishes in an Iranian prison, courtesy in part of Mr. Johnson, and has recently been transferred to a `psychiatric hospital` following her hunger strike. The taking of the Iranian tanker is not going to assist the chances of her release and was inevitably going to provoke retaliatory action and so it proved. Much has been made of the `failure` of the Royal Navy to escort the British-flagged vessel through the Straits but the less well-publicised fact is that ships requiring escort are required to give twenty-four hours notice of their requirements. HMS Montrose, our Guardship, was in fact told only one hour in advance that the passage was taking place and still managed to get within thirty minutes of the ship that was taken by the Iranians. In response to the inevitable demands we are sending more warships and a Royal Fleet Auxilliary out to the Gulf but what is needed is a co-ordinated international approach to the issue and diplomacy rather than knee-jerk military action.
The case of Carl Beech, otherwise known as `Nick`, the now-convicted and sentenced paedophile represents a nadir in the history of the Metropolitan police. Incited for personal and political purposes by the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, Tom Watson, the Met, under the `Leadership` of Sir Bernard (now Lord) Hogan-Howe embarked upon what can only be described as a vendetta against some very high-profile personalities that included the former Home Secretary Leon (Lord) Brittan, the Former Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath, the former Member of Parliament Harvey Procter and Field Marshall Lord Bramall, a decorated war hero. It has become clear that the constabulary were aware of the flimsy nature and credibility of the accusations made by `Nick` at the start of their inquiries by driven on by Mr. Watson nevertheless pursued their relentless actions against innocent men to the point of huge distress from which at least one died before having his name cleared This has led to a former High Court Judge, Sir Richard Henriques, who in 2016 produced a suppressed report on the matter for Scotland Yard, to break ranks. Following the publication by the ` Independent Office of Police Conduct` (formerly the Police Complaints Commission) of what he clearly regards as a whitewash report exonerating the officers involved in the case he has declared that the actions of the Met in the manner in which they secured search-warrants based upon false information given to the Courts was itself unlawful and he has called for a criminal inquiry into the conduct of those responsible. We have to hope that the new Home Secretary, Priti Patel, and the Justice Department will instigate the action necessary to bring those responsible, up to and including those at the very top of the Metropolitan Police at the time, to book.
The Labour Party under the Leadership of Red Jerry Corbyn has, in the context of all else that has taken place domestically and internationally, become almost an irrelevance but is not without its own internal miseries. The concerns about the institutional anti-semitism continue to fester and have led to the publication of an advertisement signed by a significant number of Labour Members of the House of Lords that included many former Cabinet members, calling out their party for its failure to address the issue. Mr. Corbyn has also found himself isolated within his own ranks on the issue of Brexit and now leads, if his position can be described as `leadership`, a fractured parliamentary Party that is dragging him inexorably towards a no-Brexit and Second Referendum policy. All but the meanest intelligence suggests that with Labour languishing in the polls at a time when they ought to be riding high, Comrade Corbyn ought to recognise that he is past his vote-by date. In her parting shot at the end of her final Prime Minister`s Question Time Theresa May noted that she had recognised the time to quit and suggested that the man at the other despatch box might do likewise. It was a point well made.
I said at PMQ`s that I believe that history will treat Mrs. May far more kindly than it will treat those who have conspired, for squalid reasons of ambition and doctrinaire politics, to bring her down. As one who has great admiration for the courage, the tenacity and the dedication to public service shown by The Darling Bud I would say this, wouldn`t I, but her departure from Downing Street, with her husband Philip by her side, was gracious and dignified as was, I am sure, her final audience with The Queen. After her departure and with her successor moving his `stuff` into the flat above Number Eleven (now the preferred residence of Prime Ministers) she went off not into the sunset but, as did her predecessor John Major, to Lord`s to watch some more cricket. A very and proudly British lady.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock, who has survived the cull of Cabinet Ministers to remain as Health Secretary, hopes to encourage patients to “Ask Alexa” for medical advice to ease the pressure on General Practitioners. Who do I sue, please, when Alexa gets it wrong or misunderstands my question? I cannot see Amazon being eager to foot the bill.
An official in Northern Ireland has received £10,000 in `compensation` for having to walk past portraits of Her Majesty the Queen and Prince Philip at his place of work, deemed an affront to his human rights. Apparently a picture of Her Maj meeting Martin McGuinness would have been acceptable.
Eleven thousand pensioners over 100 years of age (that`s a lot of telegrams from the Queen!) are reported to be due to lose their concessionary TV licences next year when the BBC ceases to fund them. The cost to the Treasury of those who will now claim benefits to which they have been entitled but have not hitherto bothered to demand will far exceed the cost of the concessionary licences. The law of unintended consequences strikes again.
Dominic Cummings, the maverick who orchestrated the Vote Leave campaign and has now been hired to fix for Johnson`s Downing Street has embarked upon an anti-leak drive in Number 10 The initiative was, of course, leaked immediately!
Sir David Attenborough, appearing at the Glastonbury Festival, thanked his fans for their contribution to conservation. After the festival it took a modest army to clear up the litter left by those same fans.
Her Maj (93) was offered assistance during a visit to National Trust Agricultural Botany in Cambridge. She remarked that “I`m still capable of planting a tree, thank you”! It is though that her first of many such events was the planting of a Yew Tree at Glamis Castle in 1953.
Under the auspices of the Department for Education the student accommodation provider Unite Students (which sounds for like an academic union) is piloting forty-five and ninety minute “Leapskills” workshops. The classes, designed for the `snowflake generation` are designed to teach young people `how to leave home ` and involve imparting, for example, the price of a pint of milk and how to wash sheets.
Down Shep! Border collies are, notwithstanding their reputation as sheepdogs, the worst behaved canines in the world. So says the result of a survey based upon insurance claims carried out for John Lewis. The Collie is intelligent and obedient but quickly bored and frustrated in an urban environment. Hot on their paws for bad behaviour are Cocker Spaniels, (Labradors, Retrievers, Cockapoos and Border Terriers. Why am I not surprised that Newfoundlands are not included in the list?
The Navan trampoline is described by its salesmen as “A great Jumping Experience”. The Amazon advertisement also states, however, that `It is not advised for a child or woman to install alone` adding that `assistance from men is preferred` and a `strong man` for the 48” model. Assembling the tough elastic is clearly a `blue job`. Knickers!
The Salford Broadcasting Corporation is to hire `outreach teams` to help geriatrics like myself to pat the TV licence fee that those over 75 received, until next year, for nothing. These will not be the usual Licence enforcement special forces but “sympathetic” and “specially trained care staff”. Thank goodness for that.
The Rev, Mark Montgomery of Kings Hill in Kent is introducing a 4pm Sunday `Matins` on ever second Sunday in the month to allow his parishioners to have a lie-in and sleep off Saturday night hangovers before attending church to, presumably, seek repentance. Well we`ve all experienced the “Oh God! Never again” moment haven`t we?
And the “Fairway to Heaven” as it has become known has been laid out in Rochester Cathedral in Kent. The cathedral, founded in 1080, sits on the bank of the River Medway beside the bridge. The crazy golf circuit is designed to attract those who might otherwise not enter a church and to `build bridges` with the community.
It should perhaps surprise nobody that the politically correct campus town of Berkeley, California, has gone gender neutral and is introducing a ban on `man` words. So a `manhole` becomes a `maintenance hole` Sororities and Fraternities become the catchy ` Collegiate Greek System referral`, `Heirs` become `beneficiaries` and Sportsmen become, for some reason, `hunters`. So you cannot call it a man but you can, under American law, carry a gun and shoot it.
Commenting on the British Cricket World Cup triumph over the Kiwis Mr. Mogg opined that “we didn`t need Europe to win`. The captain, Eoin Morgan pointed out acidly that he was Irish and that several of the team were not born in Britain. Howzat!
6,628 ten to fourteen-year-old girl guides have successfully completed the `Mixology` badge that teaches how to mix non-alcoholic cocktails from fruit juices and spices. Other badges such as `home skills` have been abandoned as being dated. Shouldn`t somebody tell the people teaching `leapskills` that cocktails are more useful than washing sheets?
Scotland Yard has forked out £2500 of taxpayers` money in compensation paid to a Nigerian missionary, Oluwele Insanu, for wrongful arrest. The sixty-four-year-old street preacher had his bible taken away and was nicked while going about his lawful business outside North London`s Southgate underground station. Mr Plod of the Met is reported to have told the preacher that `You are disturbing the peace and nobody wants to hear you`. In the 2019 years of AD, or of `The Common Era` as the constabulary presumably like to call it, not a lot has changed has it?
The Tramp take note: villagers from Devon, the Great Torrington Cavaliers, have spent four years building a replica of the Mayflower which they propose to burn for charity. “This is the most important ship in American history” bleats an aggrieved US citizen. It is, my friend, and if four hundred years ago they had burned the original before she set sail from Plymouth you and your President, descendants of those immigrants, would not now be chanting “send them back” would you?!
Dick Richards (95) played the drums with Bill Haley and the Comets between 1953 and 1955 and embraced the first live performance of Rock Around the Clock at the Hotel HofBrau in Wildwood, New Jersey.
The first `Rock `n Roll` number went on to become the music for the opening credits of the 1955 film Blackboard Jungle and a number one hit on both sides of the Atlantic but sadly Dick did not feature on the recording and so missed out on the royalties. The rest of the Comets were admitted to the Rock `n Roll Hall of fame in 1987 but Dick Richards had to wait until 2012 for his recognition.
Sir Patrick Sheehy (88) became the Chairman of British American Tobacco Industries (BAT) in 1982 at a time when the company was selling more than five hundred billion cigarettes a year. In 1992, when Kenneth Clarke was Home Secretary, he was commissioned to Chair an inquiry into ` Police responsibilities and rewards`. The publication of The Sheehy Report received a hostile reaction from the Police Federation and most of his recommendations were ignored as too hot to handle – even by Ken Clarke.
Jeremy Kemp (84) appeared as PC Bob Steele in thirty-five episodes of Z-Cars in the 1960s. Trained at the Central School of Drama alongside Judi Dench he joined the Radio Drama Company and having left Z-cars for fear of being type-cast went on to appear in The Blue Max, The Strange Affair, and the 1974 Colditz series, He was invited back, along with other former cast members, to appear in a cameo role in the final episode of Z-Cars in 1978 and was still going strong in 1990 when he appeared in Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Brian Magee (89) was the broadcaster and author who sat as a Labour MP for ten years. The former ITV “This Week” reporter and Gaitskellite fought Mid-Bedfordshire against Alan Lennox-Boyd in 1959 before becoming the Member for Leyton in February 1974. Following the election of Michael Foot as Leader of the Labour Party – a step too far for the `extreme moderate` - he joined the SDP and lost his seat in 1983.
Christopher Kraft (95) was the creator of `Mission Control` in Houston, Texas. The aeronautical engineer directed the first moon flights, including the Apollo 11 landing and was a member of the team that brought the crew of the stricken Apollo 13 safely home. He died two days after the fiftieth anniversary of the successful Apollo 11 mission.
July did mark the 50th Anniversary of the 1969 Apollo 11/ Eagle landing vehicle mission to the moon when Neil Armstrong took his first `giant leap for mankind` accompanied by the second moonwalker, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins who stayed on board as the pilot.
And Repair Shop, has become the unexpected TV hit of the year. The series, in which craftsmen repair damaged and much-loved possessions owned by members of the audience, is attracting some two million viewers which seems to indicate that there are still many people who prefer to see things being mended rather than things being broken.