Author: Eric Gates

Eric Gates attended Bristol University 50 years ago and has lived close to Bristol for the last 25 years.

What? No turkey for Christmas? Don’t panic!

Eric Gates

The prime minister has put Michael Gove in charge of “fixing” Britain’s food supply chains, quipping that he “doesn’t want to have to cancel Christmas again”. The Times, 15 September No turkeys for Christmas? Time to stiffen the upper lip, have a drop of that Dunkirk spirit and think how our grandparents managed in the […]

A briefing note for POTUS: the United Kingdom after Afghanistan

Eric Gates

Eric Gates imagines a very necessary briefing for President Biden in the wake of the withdrawal from Afghanistan: Mr President With the main elements of the US drawdown from Afghanistan complete, it is perhaps appropriate to brief you on the impact that this has had in the United Kingdom. I appreciate that many Americans have […]

A beginner’s guide to supply chains

Eric Gates

The term ‘supply chain’ is bandied around frequently in discussions about Brexit. Since it appears  that some cabinet ministers have a somewhat hazy grasp of the phrase, I wonder if it would be helpful to explain it in simple terms. I am not trying to imply that readers of West Country Bylines have an understanding […]

Bring in the Army – or MACA

Eric Gates

Military Aid to the Civil Authorities is the set of situations in which military personnel can be deployed in the UK in support of the civil authorities. Like all large organisations, MoD operates in acronyms and this one is known as MACA. The use of military personnel is carefully prescribed so that it is very […]

Johnson’s gin palace

Eric Gates

So now we know that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has drawn the short straw for building the Prime Minister’s latest vanity project. The good news is that, notwithstanding the regular damning reports of its performance, Defence Equipment and Support does know a bit about acquisition and programme management. There are no other departments that […]

Labour – dodging the issues that matter

Eric Gates

The Labour Party has launched a national consultation on policy which runs until 19 July.  As one of those consulted, Eric Gates responds by switching the focus to the important issues the document omits rather than what it covers. Dear Sir Keir, You asked for my thoughts on a number of topics in the recent […]

Making democracy difficult

Eric Gates

While we have all been hearing about the interior design tastes of various Conservative ladies (past, present and aspiring residents of Downing Street), there has been another little episode in the drama of local democracy. The case brought by Hertfordshire County Council to allow the continued use of Zoom and similar tools to enable on-line […]

A briefing note for POTUS: time to review the UK’s ‘closest ally’ status?

Eric Gates

Eric Gates imagines a very necessary briefing for President Biden in the wake of developments on the UK side of the pond… Mr President; you were briefed after your election about the United Kingdom’s  request to acquire the next generation nuclear deterrent from us. Since then, the UK Government has published a policy paper entitled […]

Two nations divided by a common language

Eric Gates

The quotation about “two nations divided by a common language” is variously attributed to Oscar Wilde and George Bernard Shaw, with Winston Churchill famously quoting it. For the moment, let us leave aside the assumption that the United Kingdom is only one nation, noting simply that one of the two possible originators was actually Irish. […]

The Chairman’s tale

Eric Gates

As chairman of a small parish council, I have watched the recording of the Handforth Parish Council meeting with concern. Perhaps I am fortunate that the ethos of the council on which I serve is to represent the community; party politics are not evident. I know that we all have our own views on subjects, […]

Culture wars – the right wing’s crusade against ‘woke militants’

Eric Gates

“Those who oppose tyrannical ‘wokeness’ have right on their side, and with sufficient courage and resolve, patriots will prevent the imposition of their poisonous puritanism on us all”. So wrote Sir John Hayes in “Spalding Today” in his neo-Trumpist call to arms. HAYES IN THE HOUSE: Why we must all fight back against poisonous wokism […]

Remembrance

Eric Gates

On Wednesday 11 November at 11am, I shall be standing by the village war memorial, leading the act of Remembrance. The memorial is beside quite a busy road, so the 2 minute silence will be subject to interruption, and in most years there are no more than 10 or so of us in attendance; this […]

…and on another front of the culture war

Eric Gates

“The National Trust has been contacted by the charity regulator over claims that it has strayed from its ‘clear, simple purpose’ to preserve historic buildings and treasures. Regulators approached the charity this month after receiving complaints from the public about its review into links between its estate and slavery during the British empire.” Do people […]

Mr President – a briefing as you assume your new role in January 2021

Eric Gates

Mr President: You asked us to brief you on the current plans to sell to the United Kingdom the next generation nuclear deterrent. In particular, you asked about the possible downsides that have emerged since the original presidential approval was given to the programme. In broad terms, Mr President, they fall into three categories. The […]

Know your place!

Eric Gates

No, not a Conservative MP addressing his family retainers, but a very useful internet resource. If you live in the west country, or are planning to visit, Know Your Place is a brilliant website that provides details of all sorts of local historical information. If you are interested in history, or like walking, or simply […]