China’s one-party political system is not in tune with the West’s practice of democracy. Yet, as a major source of trading exchange for so much of the world, China’s part in the global economy is indisputable and irreplaceable. Some official UK voices are raised against dealing with Communist China while others believe face-to-face talks about serious differences the UK has with China is far more profitable and sensible in the end than keeping the regime at a hostile distance in which suspicions fester and relationships stagnate.

Another indisputable fact is the practical and cultural legacy China has bequeathed the world. Its civilisation was well advanced before others and the spiritual, artistic creativity of its people is still in evidence. A simple cup becomes a work of art, a martial arts exercise becomes a thing of balletic beauty. Its cuisine is enjoyed far beyond its borders.

Was it wise old Confucius who said to the effect that he who flatters a man is his downfall? He who tells him of his faults is his maker?

Speaking truth to power takes honest courage, despots do not like to be told the truth. Sensible leaders value the wider picture because it extends their vision and adds dimensions of mutual understanding distance and yes-sayers prevent, so the talking shop is always a good idea.

Jack Straw has opened his mouth on Cyprus again causing irritation, we should ignore him. He’s not the force he once was in British politics and was never a friend of Greek Cyprus anyway. Ironic that a man whose birthplace is famous for its old divide and rule philosophy feels he has the right to tell this former colony that permanent division is the solution to its problems. British rule kindled flames of division in Cyprus between ethnic groups as it did elsewhere in the old world. When the British left or were forced to leave those lands, chaos often reigned post departure, and diverse people they had once ruled left at warlike odds with each other. Straw, like his previous master, Tony Blair, is haunted by the ghost of former power that still seduces their egos into believing the world should stop and hear what these spent forces have to say.

However, let’s not forget those in the British government when Cyprus was seeking independence who spoke out on her behalf and said she should be free, or those today who are still genuine British friends of a peaceful, fair to both sides settlement on Cyprus.

I’m finding more and more people in this area distressed and anxious over their rented homes. One told me their landlord arrived demanding a €50 increase for an old house in dire condition while doing nothing to repair all the house’s faults. Another was given two weeks’ notice to leave a flat he had lived in for 15 years. The owner gave a story about needing it for a relative but he suspected the owner wanted him out to redecorate and rent at a higher price. A hard-working man with a menial job he does not have money to move at short notice or to pay a deposit on a new place in a greed-driven market. A grandmother who had lived 20 years in an apartment was given short notice when her contract was up to get out. She was overwhelmed at the abrupt change in her life, her friends nearby, conveniences to hand for an elderly woman who can’t drive.

Avarice has overridden conscience in some landlords and the fallout is most disastrous for the lower income groups. Seldom a day passes in my neighbourhood without someone asking are there any reasonable homes or flats for rent. There aren’t. Some landlords are understanding and reasonable, one friend said his landlord hadn’t asked for a raise in four years despite his and his partner’s good salaries. Lower income groups have scant savings to meet change forced on them. The imbalance of those who can shamelessly grab against those who struggle is evident and merciless. Social housing is an urgent need for so many, when will it arrive, and who will benefit?