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A response to the Department for Exiting the EU

27 Mar

Reading the DExEU response to the largest petition in the history of the Parlaimentary Petition website gives a good clue as to why the UK is in such a calamitous postion. It is full of false assumptions, factual inaccuracies, misdirections and arithmetic errors.

We will honour the outcome of the 2016 referendum and work to deliver an exit which benefits everyone, whether they voted to Leave or to Remain.”

Well, that’s going really well, isn’t it!

Theresa May’s abysmal deal is universally hated and Leave are so divided over what they want from Brexit that we are in dire danger of crashing out with the very “No Deal” that everybody claims not to want and which benefits nobody except for a few very wealthy shysters!

“…close to three quarters of the electorate took part in the 2016 referendum, trusting that the result would be respected.”

Nigel Farage certainly wasn’t about to respect the result if Leave lost and many Brexiteers vowed they would fight on if they lost by a narrow margin.  And they were not alone.  One poor sap went so far as to start a petition calling for a second referendum if the result was less than 60:40, and was horrified when it was (in his words) ‘hijacked’ by Remainers after Leave had won by only a slim margin. It went on to become the most popular petition with more than 4.1 million signatures, until it was overtaken this month by this petition, which the govenment so disdains.

This Government wrote to every household prior to the referendum, promising that the outcome of the referendum would be implemented.”

First of all, thanks to Theresa May’s vanity election, in which she lost her majority, this is not the govenment which wrote to evey household. Second, no government can be bound by the promises of their predecessors.  Third, it only did so because David Cameron was cocksure he was going to win, just as he had in Scotland.  Fourth, the leaflet also said that voting leave would involve leaving the Single Market and Customs Union, which Brexit campaigners denounced as ‘scaremongering’, claiming that no-one was seriously suggesting any such thing. Yet, funnily enough, this government, which wants to claim the leaflet, also wants to take the UK out of both the SM and the CU. A bit of cognative dissonance there, methinks.

17.4 million people then voted to leave the European Union, providing the biggest democratic mandate for any course of action ever directed at UK Government.”

A sly mixture of truth with gobbledegook.

True, 17.4 million people voted to leave the EU in 2016 – a result obtained by chicanery, trumpery and criminality. But as usual, the 16.1 million Remain voters are cast into the oblivion of history (along with the 12.9 million who didn’t vote), their wishes nullified by majoritiarianism. It is highly embarrassing to this government that Remain have not slunk away as demanded by their rivals.

Nor is it the “biggest democratic mandate…ever directed at a UK Government” as the mandate in the 1975 referendum, albeit on a slightly smaller turnout, was more than 34% – almost double the current mandate [sic] claimed by this government.

However, more importantly, the mandate is not, and never was, 17.4 million (just 37% of the electorate, Remain achieving 35%) but 1.3 million (17.4 – 16.1) or a scanty 4% difference (over 8 times less than in 1975).

28% of the electorate did not vote, some (as is always the case) because they just couldn’t be arsed, but some because (like the Tory MP Kirstie Hair) they didn’t feel they had sufficient knowledge or understanding of the issues to make an informed decision on the basis of what the two mediocre campaigns were churning out.

Furthermore, there is absolutely no recognition that had the referendum been binding, the result would have been overturned under the Vienna Convention because of the electoral fraud and criminal activity used to gain that result.

It also falsely assumes that not one single Leave voter has changed their mind since 2016, which is patently untrue gven that there were Leave voters expressing their regret the following day and the polling evidence from the intervening years shows a far larger swing to Remain from Leave than vice versa.  Indeed, the most recent polls all show a win for Remain were there to be a second referendum.

Moreover, it also ignores those Leave Voters, who given the stark choice between crashing out with a No Deal (not what they were promised in 2016) and Revoking Article 50, have signed this petition for what they see as the lesser of two evils (given that another application can be made in the future, as long as it is in good faith).

“British people cast their votes once again in the 2017 General Election where over 80% of those who voted, voted for parties, including the Opposition, who committed in their manifestos to upholding the result of the referendum.”

This really beggars belief!

Given that the UK political system is based on a two Party system, it is disingenous to ignore the fact that there is little or no choice, especially when both those parties back the same policy (albeit with mionor differences), for the voter who wishes to oust the sitting government.

Furthermore, it is based on the clearly false assumption that voters all vote for a Party because they embrace every single item in the manifesto, rather than the reality that many voted for Labour because of their social policies and despite Brexit, just as there were Europhile Tories who voted for aspects of their party’s manifesto other than Brexit.

While it can be argued that the Referendum and the 2017 General Election gave a mandate to leave, the argument is profoundly weakened by the fact that the Referendum was only Advisory and not binding and in May’s failing to retain, let alone increase, her majority in an election which polling had suggested she would win by a landslide.

Additionally, May has has broken two key pledges from her 2017 manifesto.  First, her promise to “strengthen and improve devolution for each part of our United Kingdom”- she has deliberately sidelined and ignored both Scotland & Wales throughout the whole Brexit process; second, her infamous, “no deal is better than a bad deal”, which she has failed to deliver, preferring instead to bring back her bad deal for repeated “meaningful votes”, which at the outset she had sought, through costly legal battles, to avoid ever having to face.   Clearly, manifesto pledges are not graven in stone and may be set aside at the whim of the Prime Minister.

On top of this, there were clear instances of tactical voting (eg the Liberal Democrats in Gordon voting Tory to topple Alex Salmond), for which their pro-Remain party is reaping its just rewards.

In short, to claim that 80% of voters backed Brexit at the last election is nothing short of sleight of hand – the kind of deception that we have all come to expect from Brexiteers.

Revoking Article 50 would break the promises made by Government to the British people, disrespect the clear instruction from a democratic vote, and in turn, reduce confidence in our democracy.”

As I have shown, the clear instruction is not as clear as the government wish to make out.

As for ‘reducing confidence in our democracy’, that has been achieved by this government all on its own, through its incompetent handling of Brexit, thus far (and there is little hope of any change at this late stage), and with its incessant calls to bring a heavily defeated and highly unpopular deal back to Parliament for a third time in the vain hope that it will be passed out of sheer desperation, all the while denying the very voters, who they claim to respect, any chance to voice their wishes.

Unless there is a miracle, Brexit is going to turn out to be a disaster for the UK, and what little confidence remains will be damaged by the outcome as Brexiteers feel betrayed by when they don’t get the unicorns on the day they were promised.

A Reply to Theresa May’s Brexit Letter

26 Nov

Dear Mrs May,

Thank you for your letter, even though it is just more of your usual flim-flam.

First, your supposedly “good Brexit deal” is in reality just another of your crocks of shit that you are attempting to pass off as a tub of chocolate bonbons.  We can all smell your bullshit no matter how you try to disguise it.

Whatever happened to your mantra, “No deal is better than a bad deal!”?  Did you really think, when the deal you are offering is nothing but a thistledown of ifs and maybes, we would forget?  While Tory voters might have the memory of a goldfish with alzheimers, most of the electorate (and especially Remainers) do not.

Moving on to your “clear mission” from your “first day in the job”, despite what you wrote, it has been obvious that your “mission” has been to remain in power for as long as possible through the uniting of  your petulant and squabbling Conservative Party.  It appears that you are utterly unable to distinguish between the interests of your Party and the interests of the nation. Let me assure you, they are not in the leastway congruent.

You say that you “have not lost sight of duty” and I agree; you have remained devotedly dutiful to those hard Brexiters who fund your Party, those whose newspapers could destroy you overnight, and to the Europhobes in your ranks, upon all of whom you rely to remain in power.

Nothing the Conservatives have done in the last decade has been in “the national interest”, let alone working “for our whole country and all of our people” but a sustained attack, through austerity and deliberate underfunding, on the most vulnerable in our society while enriching the most well off.  Brexit is merely a continuation of that scam, from which you and your husband will benefit while the rest of us lose out in multiple ways.

You say you “will honour the result of the referendum”, as though this is some grand virtue.  You have done everything in your power to ignore the illegality of the Leave campaign; pretended that an advisory vote was legally binding; tried to by-pass the very Parliament that you and Leave so loudly proclaim should be sovereign; all so as to inflict Brexit on the UK, which in terms of voting was anything but united.

You will forgive me, Prime Minister, if I don’t believe one word of your guff about controlling borders, money, laws, agriculture or Fisheries Policy.  Your Party’s track-record contradicts your assertions.

Your record  on immigration control, when you were Home Secretary, belies your empty claims; your Party’s  record on money makes your claims equally specious as “the magic money tree” has only been used to enrich the elites and to bribe a minor political party to support your tottering, minority government after you squandered your majority in a vanity election.  The people sent you a message in 2017, Theresa, we don’t like you or your unplanned, blindfold Brexit.

As for taking back control of our laws, we remember only too well how you tried to by-pass Parliament and have fought (and lost time and again) in the highest courts in the land, but not once condemned the tabloid press’s calling such judges “traitors” and “enemies of the people”.  Even you must admit that such behaviour can only lead to a deep suspicion of your highfalutin pronouncement.

As for fisheries, was it not your Party that voted in 2005 against Alex Salmond’s Fisheries Jurisdiction Bill which was intended to remove  the UK from the Common Fisheries Policy?  Will you not sell out the fishing industry in an eyeblink if it will save your Brexit deal? or even just your premiership?  I believe you would.  After all you are quite happy to sacrifice your 13 Scottish MPs for whom it was a red line.  And, who can trust you or your government on agricultural policy after failing to give the Scottish Farmers the money due to them from the EU?

You claim that “The deal also protects the things we value.”  Really?  Well let me tell you, it does not protect a single thing that I value; not my freedom of movement; not my right of residence; not my European Citizenship; not my my multi-culturalism; not my left-wing, Green politics;  not one part of my identity.  In fact, your Brexit has, far from protecting any remaining sense of “Britishness” I might have had, made me thoroughly ashamed of being British.  The only values I see your party espousing are hypocrisy, mendacity, avarice, xenophobia and wishful thinking, none of which can be accommodated by my Christian faith.

While you may have convinced yourself that you are delivering “a Brexit deal that works for every part of our country [sic] – for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland” etc., every report (including from your own civil service) says otherwise.  There is no deal that will give Scotland as good a deal as it has as in the EU, for which every council area in Scotland and 62% of Scots voted to remain.  I don’t doubt that you got the best deal you could, but it is still the equivalent of your serving your husband a deep-fried frozen burger in lieu of a grilled sirloin steak!

You say, “It is a deal for a brighter future, which enables us to seize the opportunities that lie ahead”.  You may see a herd of unicorns on the horizon, I see just one which has been assembled by a committee and most closely resembles a three legged camel with a horn up its arse.  Even arch-Brexiteer, Jacob Rees-Mogg, has admitted that you and I will be long dead before Britain sees any real benefit from Brexit!

If my certainty that any money saved from leaving the EU will be squandered on vanity projects (like renewing Trident), tax breaks for big business and the wealthiest 1% and subsidising MPs and peers, offends you, remember that the fault lies with you and your government whose track record on the economy, the NHS, child poverty, homelessness and injustice is woefully inadequate (as condemned by the UN) while your enriching the wealthiest at the expense of the most vulnerable is manifest.  An apposite adage, at this point, would seem to be that in Jeremiah 13:23.

It is ironic that having persisited in pursuing a course of national self-harm, that you now ask the public to back you “for the good of our United Kingdom.”  A Kingdom you and your factious Party,  through the internecine struggles for dominance, have riven asunder, fracturing what was left of the Union.  You write, “It must mark the point when we put aside the labels of ‘Leave’ and ‘Remain’ for good and we come together again as one people” – the UK has never been “one people”, not even in its imperial heydey, Ireland and Scotland always being more European and less isolationist than England and Wales. Indeed, your disorganised and chaotic Brexit has driven many of the folk who voted NO in 2014 to want a second independence referendum in which they can vote YES.

Exiting the EU on March 29th, therefore, has less than a snowball’s chance in hell of being “a moment of renewal and reconciliation for our whole country”, so, forgive me if I am unwilling to hitch my EU star onto your wagon of reconciliation just because you mouth a few meaningless platitudes in the hope of bailing you out of the mess which is of your own making.  I am as likely to get behind Brexit as you are to fully, and sincerely, get behind Scottish Independence; until then I will give your Brexit deal exactly the same support your Party’s europhobe MPs gave membership of the EU over the last 45 years.

I particularly enjoyed reading your promise, “I will be campaigning with my heart and soul to win that vote and to deliver this Brexit deal, for the good of our United Kingdom and all of our people.”  Will that be with the same enthusiasm and passion with which you campaigned to Remain in the EU or for the 2017 General Election?  If so, the likelihood of getting your deal, which is almost universally deplored, through the Commons next month is as slim as a hairsbreadth, surely making your whole letter academic.

It is said that you plan to tour the UK to sell your deal to us, but yet again I doubt that is true in the case of Scotland.  I suspect you will follow your playbook by flitting in and out in a matter of hours to address, in some “secret” location, a select audience of Party faithful, Tory aparatchiks and perhaps a Tory businessman’s bored,  “press-ganged” workforce, and only take questions from “friendly” journalists such as those from the BBC or The Scotsman.  While you may believe this is selling the deal to the Scottish people, the majority of Scots will merely laugh at your self-delusion, as contrary to your opinion, we don’t all button up the back!

I understand this reply is pointless as a) you will never see it; and b) because it is impossible to change a mind like yours (similar to concrete: all mixed up and permanently set); so, hell mend ye, Mrs May!

With profound reproach

W R B Cunninghame Graham of Gartmore

A Response to Theresa May’s Mansion House Speech

2 Mar

Once again, Theresa May has fulfilled expectations.  She has made a key speech that is, as usual, rhetoric over substance; a chimera of false hope over actuality.

Mrs May, your five tests for Brexit are nothing more than a mix of misdirection and mirage, playing to the gallery and hoping we’d be fooled.  Let’s look at what you said.

“First, the agreement we reach with the EU must respect the result of the referendum.

The referendum has divided Great Britain like nothing else since the War of the Three Kingdoms, and like that particular fracture, it is England once again bullying the other British nations (albeit not by military force) by exploiting a slim majority in what was a non-binding, advisory vote.

It was a vote to take control of our borders, laws and money.”

It was nothing of the sort.  We already had control over all three of those areas.

It was a vote for more money for the NHS; a vote for xenophobia; a vote for nostalgia for an imaginary UK that never existed; a vote based on numerous lies, inter alia about sovereignty, immigration and funding for the NHS.

“And a vote for wider change, so that no community in Britain would ever be left behind again. But it was not a vote for a distant relationship with our neighbours.”

Yes, it was a vote for wider change but not in the way you allege.  It was a protest vote against your Government’s continuance of its failed austerity policy and not a vote for further anguish through unnecessary damage to the economy, which is the inevitable outcome of Brexit.

You and your predecessor, through your austerity policies, which attack the weakest and most vulnerable in society,  have ensured that many communities are being “left behind” irrespective of relationships with our neighbours or elsewhere.  Loss of EU funding will only make this worse as places like Cornwall are quickly coming to realise.

“Second, the new agreement we reach with the EU must endure. After Brexit, both the UK and the EU want to forge ahead with building a better future for our people, not find ourselves back at the negotiating table because things have broken down.”

The UK was always going to be at a disadvantage in the negotiations, as the 27 were bound to unite to protect their union.  There was never any chance that the UK could “have its cake and eat it” as the EU was never going to offer the UK better terms than  it had by being within the EU.  Only an arrogant moron would suppose otherwise.

This hurdle has been aggravateded by the UK’s failure to negotiate effectively – in part due to divisions within your own Cabinet and, in part, due to the incompetence of your Brexit Secretary –  meaning that the most likely outcome is that the UK will crash out of the EU with no deal (let alone a transition period!).  After your speech, and the rate at which time is running out, anything else is a mere pipe dream.

“Third, it must protect people’s jobs and security. People in the UK voted for our country to have a new and different relationship with Europe, but while the means may change our shared goals surely have not – to work together to grow our economies and keep our people safe.

Quite how you imagine that Brexit will protect jobs and grow the economy when your own government’s Brexit Analyses – which, unsurprisingly you did not want to make public – showed that in every scenario Britain will be worse off through leaving. Places like Grimsby are waking up to the fact that their jobs, which are dependent upon exports to the EU, are in serious jeopardy because of Brexit.  Furthermore, EU agencies are already leaving the UK, as are many EU citizens, and some Financial Services organisations are making contingency plans to leave.  So, lovely rhetoric but, like your first speech as Prime Minister, it is little more than candy floss for the naive.

Fourth, it must be consistent with the kind of country we want to be as we leave: ”

Well, Brexit’s put paid to that!

The country can’t agree on what it wants.  The Remainers don’t want the kind of country Brexit offers.  the Leavers, in turn, are utterly divided in what they want from Brexit.  Scotland and Northern Ireland want different things from England or Wales.  To top it all, you squandered a parliamentary majority in a vanity snap-election which left you hamstrung by a bigotted, insular, minority party you cannot afford to offend.  Not even your Cabinet manages consistency under your wavering leadership.  Not so much a second ‘Iron Lady’ as the ‘Plastercine Housewife’.

“…a modern, open, outward-looking, tolerant, European democracy.”

In your dreams!  Brexit Britain is none of those things.  It is a nostalgic, insular and intolerant country, in which your Government has tried to by-pass Parliamentary democracy at every stage of the process, only  being thwarted by the courts.  The UK also has, in the House of Lords, the second largest unelected political decision-making body in the world – hardly a symbol of a modern democracy!  Nor has your Government shown any regard for the democratic mandate of devolved governments, which you ignore and exclude, and/or the democratically derived Devolution Settlements which you are trying to ride over roughshod.

“A nation of pioneers, innovators, explorers and creators. A country that celebrates our history and diversity, confident of our place in the world;”

Meaningless piffle and waffle designed to try and make your pig’s ear look like a silk purse.

Typically backward looking to what was and hoping against hope that it can be repeated if we can just bring back the Blitz spirit.  Revisionist history (in which only Englsih history counts) abounds as Brexiteers try wistfully to make out that the British Empire was a great force for good and optimistically claim that our imperial past can be recreated in a global expansion of trade.  As for diversity, hate crimes have rocketed since Brexit.  Hardly, the basis for anything other than false confidence.

“…that meets its obligations to our near neighbours and far off friends…”

Your Ministers repeatedly calling for the UK to not respect its responsibilities on leaving the EU, along with your government’s abject failure to meet its post 2014 obligations to one of its nearest neighbours (Scotland), make it very unlikely that England can be trusted to do so further afield.

“…and is proud to stand up for its values.”

The the most prominant British values, following the Brexit vote, seem to be hypocrisy, mendacity, trickery, xenophobia, intolerance and resentment, of which you and your party can be justifiably proud!  Many, however, are saying that they no longer know what to be British is.  Others are saying that they either cannot identify with Britishness  or are ashamed of it.

“And fifth, in doing all of these things, it must strengthen our union of nations and our union of people.”

Brexit is a disaster for “our union of nations”; it has fractured relations between Edinburgh and London, and Cardiff and London; it is imperilling the Good Friday Agreement (your rhetoric over the Irish border is as specious as it is vague).  The uniformity imposed by England on the Union under the pretence of unity, is in tatters due to the empty platitudes and broken promises of your Party.  Indeed, you and your predecessor have arrogantly done more to break the Union than anyone else in its 300 year history!  What you seem to be attempting is to join four corners of a circle apparently without the faintest idea that it has none.

“We must bring our country back together, taking into account the views of everyone who cares about this issue, from both sides of the debate.”

If you have listened to those from the Remain side of the debate, you either did not hear what was said to you or simply chose to ignore it.  There has been no evidence of your taking account of any opinion outwith your divided Cabinet.  And given that you cannot even unite your own Cabinet, let alone your own Party, I don’t rate your chances of even uniting England, let alone the disparate nations of the United Kingdom.  Best of British!

As you started your speech by quoting what you said in your first speech as Prime Minister, let me quote from the open letter I wrote to you in July, 2016:

“…you’ll forgive me if I don’t believe a word of your rhetoric which is so cognitively dissonant with your track record in government…”

“You talked  about uniting the country; it will  require more than platitudes.”

“Your precious Union, as always  since 1707, has less to do with unity than with domination and exploitation.”

Your speeches and Brexit strategies would seem to confirm that I was right on all three counts.

 

 

 

Mayhem from the Snap Dragon

21 Apr

In my open letter to Theresa May, last July, I told her that not calling an election prior to signing Article 50 would be “rank hypocrisy” given the hen-pecking she gave Gordon Brown.  She could have done so last autumn, but she wasn’t doing so well in the polls and neither she nor her ministers had any Brexit plan to put in a manifesto; she could have called one in the spring, when she finally had some kind of plan (“No deal is better than a bad deal”) but she didn’t.  Instead she spent the autumn and winter fighting against Parliamentary Democracy.

Now, having already invoked Article 50, she suddenly wants an election – not for the sake of the country but to save her majority.  Just when she and her gang of four Brexiteers should be starting the Brexit negotiations, she wants to put everything on hold while she seeks a mandate, which she claimed to already have from the referendum, for what is essentially a pig-in-a-poke.  This smacks of hypocrisy given her rejection of a second Scottish Independence Referendum on the grounds that the “terms of Brexit are not yet known”.

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(Letter to The Guardian, 20/04/2017)

So why the rush?

It appears that 24 Conservative MPs are going to be prosecuted by the DPP for electoral fraud, which would automatically disbar them from the House, instantly demolishing her majority and forcing her to seek a coalition to continue with her “hard Brexit”.

Combine this with the polls showing her party over 20 points ahead of Labour (which has less to do with Corbyn than with the relentless right wing press campaign against him that suggests that the right perceive him as a real threat, which must be neutralised at all cost; and the fifth column within his own party that constantly attempt to undermine his leadership), and she sees a political opportunity.  So, despite the 5 year fixed term rule that her party introduced in 2011 (and for which she voted) to prevent just this sort of political opportunism, she calls a snap election which Labour limply agree to (despite the very real chance of annihilation at the polls).  Yet more lies and hypocrisy from May!

The election may well hasten the end of the Union, which she, like her predecesor (Cameron), claims to be so “precious” (echoes of Gollum?) but against which her every manoeuvre militates against its continuance.  It is certain that Scotland will return a majority of SNP and pro-Independence MPs to Westminster again and the Scottish Parliament has ratified Sturgeon’s mandate for a second Independence Referendum when the terms of Brexit are clearer (ie 2018-19), which given the indications of ineptitude of the Gang of Four Brexiters charged by May to draw up policy and negotiate the UK’s withdrawal from the EU (in footballing terms, Paris Saint-Germaine vs Southport!), is likely to lead to a vote for independence.

There is another aspect to holding a snap election, which few have commented on.  Should she win with an increased majority, she has increased her period of office by a further 2 years post-Brexit, which will give her time to sell off the NHS to US health care corporations, dismantle human rights and workers’ rights before she has to face the electorate again, but with the advantage of the gerrymandered constituencies (gift of the Liberal Democrats) that favour her party and, thus, her continuing in office irrespective of her competence.

So once again, it is party before country; a manifesto that puts profit before people; a nostalgic Little Englander, dreaming of long faded glories, attitude to Brexit;  and the celebration of hypocrisy, mendacity and avarice as Party virtues.

An Open letter to Theresa May

14 Jul

First, congratulations on your appointment as Prime Minister (albeit by default); I can only hope you make a better fist of it than did your predecessor, who is generally rated the worst in over 100 years.

Your first speech as PM, in front of Nº 10 Downing Street, was impressive.  However, you’ll forgive me if I don’t believe a word of your rhetoric which is so cognitively dissonant with your track record in government and more consistent with what you so aptly dubbed “the Nasty Party”.  Austerity is hurting everybody except for the elite who fund your party.  You talked about uniting the country; it will require more than empty platitudes.

I like that you are rewarding Leave campaigners with senior cabinet posts as it will force them to try and clean up the mess they have created.  I’m sure that Davis and Johnson will both enjoy explaining to the EU and the rest of the world why they should trust them after they deliberately deceived the British electorate with a campaign of misinformation and downright lies.  While I’m sure you also believe that this will bring healing to party divisions, I’m not convinced that it will be anything more than the usual papering over the cracks.

You claim you want to heal the nation of the divisions caused by the referendum, yet you seem hell-bent on invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty and starting Brexit despite that

  1. the referendum was advisory not binding;
  2. Scotland and Northern Ireland voted more convincingly to remain than either England and Wales did to leave;
  3. the nationally combined results gave the winning side such a slim margin that a petition calling for a second referendum received more than 4 million signatures in little over two weeks and must now be debated by Parliament.

 

I recognise there is no easy way out of this, though I suggest that allowing Parliament to debate and vote on whether or not to invoke Article 50 would be less detrimental and divisive than for you, as PM, and your Cabinet to do so through the power of Royal Prerogative.

As a “One Nation Conservative”, you have nothing to offer Scotland as we know all too well that “one Nation” means England and that when we are called British it is merely to bestow “honorary Englishness” on us, while treating Scotland at best as a province, and at worst as a colony, of Greater England.  Your precious Union, as  always  since 1707, has less to do with unity than with domination and exploitation.

Furthermore, you have no mandate for Scotland.  You actually have even less of a one than your predecessor claimed!  Though like him, you have but one MP out of 59 in Scotland, unlike him, you do not even have an electoral mandate having been selected by just 60% of MPs from your party, a party which received votes from less than 25% of the UK electorate (just 11% of the Scottish electorate).  Yet, you presume to dictate to Nicola Sturgeon, a First Minister who has a clear mandate from the Scots as her party holds 54* out 59 Scottish seats at Westminster and 63 (more than twice as many as your party) out of 129 in the Scottish Parliament  with 46.5% of the constituency votes cast.  Given that leaving the EU is not in Scotland’s interests and that the Scottish electorate voted convincingly to remain, independence is rapidly becoming the only viable option should you press ahead with Brexit.

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Given your vociferous criticism that Gordon Brown had no mandate to govern, you will, of course, be calling a General Election at the earliest opportunity and certainly before invoking Article 50.  Not to do so would be rank hypocrisy as well as suggesting that (in your own words) you are “running scared of the people’s verdict”.  After all given the current shambolic state of the Labour Party, what have you got to lose?

Finally, when Boris Johnson was elected Mayor of London, seeing the writing on the wall, I got out of the UK at the earliest opportunity and I have not seen anything that would make me regret that decision.  Now  you are asking me (and other emigrants to the EU) to choose between a star filled sky (the EU flag) and a blood-stained butchers’ apron (UK flag) – for me it is a no-brainer; I am a European and I choose the EU (flawed as it is) even if that means renouncing my UKGB citizenship to do so.

*56 SNP MPs were returned in May 2015 but 2 of them have currently resigned the Whip, though they continue to vote with the party.

A Discussion with Nick Clegg

26 Sep

Today, I went to Event 52 of the Hay Festival en Segovia, which was held in the beautiful, old church of the monastery of Santa Cruz Real (which now forms the Aula Magna of IE University), to hear Nick Clegg in discussion with one of Spain’s pre-eminant journalists, Pedro J. Ramírez.

Clegg told the packed hall that he took full responsibility for the current state of the party and that he had learnt a lot. He regretted that what he saw as “compromise” so quickly was taken as “betrayal” by both left and right – but apparently without any inkling of the betrayal his own LibDem voters felt (and still feel) at his propping up a Tory government.

In his view, much of the problem stemmed from there not being any understanding or history of coalition politics in the UK.  This view is obviously fallacious in the case of Scotland, where he apparently had forgotten that his own party had been in coalition, first with Labour (1999 – 2007) and then with the SNP (2007-2011) – the proportional vote system being designed to exclude outright majority government – or, perhaps, he was doing as so many English politicians do, merely using “UK” as a synonym for England.

Furthermore, he claimed that as he goes round the country (has he been in Scotland since the election?) people are saying to him that they now see how the LibDems were protecting them from the full force of Tory government. Maybe, because I no longer live in the UK, I’m missing something as I cannot see any significant difference between the ConDem coalition and the current Tory government.

While he spoke engagingly, it is clear that he does not understand what has happened in Scotland (claiming it is nothing more than identity politics, which are the politics of grievance without responsibility as everything is someone else’s fault) and claimed (as did Ramírez) that the UK electoral system was unfair (which, of course it is) as the LibDems only got 8 seats when the SNP got 56 on a far smaller share of the vote (the exact same argument as used by another fringe party, UKIP!).

I challenged him afterwards (they ran out of time just before my question) for a) referring to the SNP as the “Scottish Nationalist Party” –  his lame excuse was, “Well, they are all nationalists”; and b) being disingenuous as the Lib Dems only had 7% of the vote to the SNP’s 50% in Scotland, given that the the latter only contest seats in Scotland. His response was that his using the UK vote share was justified as the SNP “disingenuously claimed to represent the whole of the UK” in the TV debates (which they did not). He had to concede, however, that the SNP had, thus far formed a strong opposition that has fought for all parts of the UK as promised.

I handed him an envelope, which he accepted, containing a printed copy of my open letter to him from 8th May.  I doubt he’ll like the content or pay the slightest heed to my views, but at least I know he is now aware of them.

I found him urbane, charming, engaging and likeable despite our not finding any common ground and I wish him well (which I could not on 8th May).

An Open Letter to Nick Clegg

8 May

Dear Nick

I suspect you were surprised by the results of the 2015 General Election.  I wasn’t.

Many of us who voted for the Liberal Democrats in 2010 did so to help keep the Tories out.  Consequently, we were delighted when the outcome was a hung parliament and horrified when you blythely went into coalition with David Cameron.  We, many of whom had voted Lib Dem for many years, simply felt betrayed.  But you never even showed any inkling of understanding this in your stampede to become “Deputy Prime Minister” –  an artificial position that is bestowed at the whim of a Prime Minister.

I said then that, had I been a Scottish LibDem MP, I would have immediately renounced the Whip and become an independent Liberal on the grounds that had my constituents wanted a Tory government they would have voted Conservative.  It is striking that not one of your Scottish MPs had the integrity to do so.

While we are on Scotland, you had ample warning of what was to come as, in the 2011 Scottish Parliamentary elections, your MSPs were reduced by 2/3 to just 5.  Of course, you compounded your crime, as far as Scotland was concerned, by joining in with the Tories in the very dirty “Better Together” campaign and did nothing to counter the triumphalist breaking of the vow, which you (along with the Prime Minister and Ed Miliband) supposedly had signed up to, the moment the vote went your way.  This made many in Scotland believe that you (and your party), if not explicitly, tacitly approved the Tory policy of treating Scotland as a colony rather than as the co-equal partner in Union that the Treaty and Acts of Union legislated.

But let us return to England.  As I said at the outset, many of your voters felt betrayed by your coalition and were far from convinced by your claims that the Lib Dems were ameliorating Tory excesses – especially when you glibly cast aside manifesto promises to appease your new boss, David Cameron.  To many of us, you appeared less a restraining force than a pampered lapdog: Cameron’s pet Yorkie – all yaps and no bite.

The electorate showed their disdain in 2014 when you lost all but one of your MEPs in the European Parliament elections.  But you blindly clung on to the vain hope that we would all come round and forgive you, rashly trusting in the predictions of forecasters like Iain Dale and the personal popularity of your Lib Dem MPs to save their seats.  In the end, not even you were able to hold your seat on that basis but had to rely on tactical voting from your Tory pals to save your skin!

But that proved a forlorn hope as the electorate gave vent to their lack of trust in you and your party and left you with the worst election results since Jeremy Thorpe in 1970 and the loss of your coveted, long-held 3rd Party status.  Congratualations!  In the course of a single parliament you have reduced the Liberal Democrats from the third force to a fringe party.

You might have stood a chance of holding some of the seats you lost to Labour had you not made the foolish promise not to be part of any coalition that involved nationalists, thus joining Ed Miliband in rushing headlong into the trap the Tories had set for both of you.  That for me was the final nail in the coffin of any lingering pretence that the Liberal Democrats were a progressive party – you had become nothing more than a right-wing lickspittle.  And that is why you could not save any of the seats you lost to the Tories – why would anyone settle for pseudo-Tory when one can have the real thing?

As noted earlier, you had already decided to sacrifice your Scottish MPs on the altar of a wee bit of power – if you did not realise that at the time, it should have become clear to you in 2011 and 2014 – not having listened carefully enough to the electorate to realise that you might desperately need those 11 seats to retain any credibility.

I hope you enjoy your time on the backbenches watching your party either condemn itself to another 5 years of oblivion as it plays second fiddle to the Tories or languishes in splendid isolatation from any real opposition role through your refusal to work with those parties which are truly progressive (two of which are nationalist and have formed an anti-austerity alliance with the Greens) that, given Labour’s track-record in the last Parliament of being little more than nodding donkeys, will form the true opposition to the new Tory government.

Regards

W R B Cunninghame Graham of Gartmore