View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Belgian bogrolling

A blog in French has lifted the lid on the filth in Belgian politics, where they are still trying to form a government - 8 months after a general election. The leader of a far-right and separatist party in Flanders, Bart de Wever, has described a leading French-speaking newspaper in Belgium "Le Soir" [The Evening] that it is not even fit for use as toiletpaper. This follows from a report in Le Soir on Saturday, which showed an election poster for Mr de Wever from 2003 in the company of his friend and former prostitute Marie-Rose Morel. Ms Morel recently died of cancer and her funeral was a national event in Flanders, where she was referred to as "Mother Courage". Not so in Wallonia, the French speaking part of Belgium. The reasons why the Francophones are so reluctant to do so is Ms Morel's cast-iron connection to the far-right in Belgium. However, Mr de Wever is not just bogrolling Le Soir, but also demanding an apology from the French speaking TV station RTBF for not joining in the outpouring of national mourning that Mr de Wever had demanded.

You may wonder why this is of interest to me. Well, I see certain parallels to the situation in Holland. The far right-wing PVV party, headed up by Geert Wilders, is currently propping up a right-wing coalition there. Mr Wilders was refused entry to the UK two years ago as it was felt that his presence could destabilise community relations in Britain. What really shocked me was the outrage that was expressed by the Dutch Prime Minister. This was before the June 2010 General Election in Holland, when the PVV gained more than 20 seats in the 150 seat lower house of parliament. Why is everybody cow-towing to people like Wilders and De Wever? The former has expressed hatred of islam, and is facing court action over this. The latter is a separatist and ultra-nationalist, who will split Belgium asunder in the most acrimonious fashion if he has his way. I vividly remember the pitched battles on the streets of 's-Gravenvoeren / Fourons-le-Comte on the Dutch/Belgian border in the 1980s. However, in the 1980s there was no question that Belgium could split. That option is certainly there now.

Wednesday 16 February

A grey day with some brief clearances and some light rain. I spent most of the afternoon looking up cemeteries on Google Earth, to build a database and map of graveyards where combatants from this island lie buried across the world. Been doing that for a couple of days, so I apologise if I repeat myself.

Local councils are now threatening to fine people who do not separate out recyclable waste (plastic, paper &c) where facilities exist to do so. Like they were also fining those who put their bin out on the road before 7 am on collection day, or leaving the lid of the bin open at an angle greater than 30 degrees. Or if the receptacle was placed too far from the kerb edge. I wonder who is going to wallow throught the dirty nappies, rotting fruit, vegs and meat and all the other pleasant detritus of daily life to make more money for their council.

I was horrified to read just now that former Egyptian president Mubarak had ordered his troops to crush the demonstrators in Tahrir Square, Cairo, on January 30th, using their tanks. The tank crews took off their headsets, through which they had received those orders, and picked up their mobiles to phone home. And their families said: don't do it. Egyptians don't kill Egyptians. And that was Mr Mubarak on his way out. It would appear that he valued his $30bn more than the lives of the people he was sworn to serve. Good riddance.