Tag Archives: David Cameron

Reflections on Brexit

7 Jul

 

Now that a fortnight has passed, I’ve had time to calm down, reflect and analyse the monumental Tory Party omnishambles called Brexit, and so here are my views.

What is becoming abundantly clear is that the Leave campaign not only did not expect to win but didn’t actually want to – as is made glaringly obvious by the fact that they did not have any plan following a Brexit win. Cameron, was confident enough of a Remain win that he didn’t even bother to have a ‘Plan B’ for the worst case scenario.

It appears that what they were hoping for was a very slim Remain majority (as Farage demonstrated by his rant at the close of polling), which could be used to call for a vote of No Confidence in David Cameron, triggering a leadership challenge that would install Boris Johnson as PM. Thus, it was never really about the EU, but about fending off UKIP at the 2015 General Election and who should lead the Tory Party (a beauty contest between repugnant and repulsive).

While the Remain campaign tried a re-run of Project Fear (seemingly without realising that there was no one behind whom David Cameron’s personal unpopularity could be hidden or that, unlike in Scotland in 2014, they were having to contend with a hostile press), they hardly covered themselves with glory in terms of honesty or openness. However, the Leave campaign, slogans over substance, have been accused of lying to the electorate “on an industrial scale” – misrepresentations which the Leave leaders all renounced or distanced themselves from within 24 hours of winning.

Though Leave narrowly won in England and Wales, Remain won comfortably in Northern Ireland, convincingly in Scotland & London and devastatingly in Gibraltar. While Unionists love to harp on about the divisiveness of the Scottish Independence Referendum (and never more so than now, when a second one is increasingly on the cards), they are strangely silent about the divisiveness of the EU Referendum. And divisive it has been, with a 500% increase in race-hate incidents; the potential break-up of the UK (which some Leave campaigners like Melanie Phillips see as a price worth paying for English sovereignty); divisions in England between North and South; and Wales showing Bregret, having, too late, changed their mind!

Now the architects of this debacle have all fled the field. First to fall on his sword was the Prime Minister, David Cameron, whose Cammiekazi resignation sunk Boris Johnson’s leadership challenge hopes as he, knowing how necessary the EU is to the UK’s banking sector and trade (see his quote on the EU from Feb 2016!), would not want to be the one to invoke Article 50 (mind you, he was helped out of his dilemma by his back-stabbing pal, Michael Gove). Nigel Farage, having openly incited xenophobia, steps down as leader of UKIP, not for the reasons he gave, but because his party has become an irrelevance now that its sole aim has been achieved. One wonders who the BBC will find to replace him as their favourite bigot at large.

And as for the rest of the “retro-nationals” (as Juncker has described them), IDS, Priti Patel, Lexit have all gone into hiding, while the also-rans Gove, Fox and Leadsom are squabbling over BoJo’s fallen sword, as the country looks on with increasing dis-May.

Then we have Labour. First, there is Lexit – funded entirely by rich Tories and the Tory (UKIP just being Europhobic Tories on steroids) led Brexit campaign – showing the usual arrogant, top-down, we-know-best campaign style so beloved of New Labour (despite its disastrous fallout in Scotland).

If that were not bad enough, instead of capitalising on Tory disarray, the Blairites decide to try and execute a farcical “chicken coup” that was so inept that a primary school class could have done better. What makes it even more ridiculously pathetic is that they had set up Angela Eagle’s leadership website some 10 days prior to the Referendum and briefed the Tory press about their cabinet resignation plans ahead of time.

The wonderfully expendable Angela Eagle was to be the stalking horse to be sacrificed in a leadership contest against Jeremy Corbyn (who refused to stand down), despite the 172 long knives and Rupert Murdoch’s urging people to join Labour to get rid of Corbyn (a plan so half-witted as to be risible – folk are joining Labour in increasing numbers just to vote for him!), the conspirators all meekly crawled back into Jeremy’s Shadow Cabinet when their supposed coup de maître suffer a coup de grâce.

And so the country lurches on through uncertainty; the pound and markets fluctuating and inward investment  frozen until the Tories have chosen a new leader; the Loyal Opposition progress from indulging in kindergarten politicking; and, should a government  ever get round to invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty instead of irritating the EU (not the best strategy to get the best deal for the Untied Kingdom), perhaps the process of untangling 40 years of EU membership can begin; and plans for what a post-Brexit Britain might look like as the island fortress of England sails off to an imaginary past somewhere to the west of Iceland.

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Bannockburn 700 Commemoration

24 Jun

No doubt much will be made of the 700th Anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn as ‘anti-English’. However, to do so would be, as did Ian Davidson MP in the House, to show a startling ignorance of Scottish and, therefore, British history.

First of all, Bannockburn was not so much a Battle between the Scots and the English as a power struggle between Anglo-Normans and Scotto-Normans. Combatants, on both sides, held (or had held) lands in both Scotland and England, including both the Bruce and Balliol. There were “Scots”, who were supporters of Balliol, enemies of Bruce, or who simply feared the loss of their more profitable English lands, in Edward II’s army.

Second, the Battle is not being “celebrated” as Ian Davidson put it, “mainly because Scots slew large numbers of English people”, but being commemorated because it is a date which is as key in Scottish history as 1603. Bannockburn was the start of a 14 year road to the full restoration of Scottish independence, just as 1603 was the 104 year road to its loss. Furthermore, there have been commemorations (though, admittedly, on a smaller scale) of other important battles which the Scots lost (eg Flodden 500 last year).

Third, some will cite Scotland’s unofficial National Anthem, “Flower of Scotland”, as being an anti-English song celebrating the battle. However, to do so would indicate a lack of knowledge of the lyrics. Nowhere does the song mention the English; not once. The first stanza celebrates the winning of independence; the second mourns its loss; and the third expresses hope of its restoration. It is not about the English but about Scotland, past, present and future.

Fourth, people like Davidson, so ignorant of their own nation’s history, seem to imagine that the commemoration of Bannockburn is something new, which was only dreamt up by Alex Salmond to bolster the Independence referendum. The reality is that there were Bannockburn rallies in the 1930s (and even earlier commemorations by advocates of Home Rule). These rallies with their accompanying picnic, which were always well attended, were a highlight in the nationalist calendar with orators such as Don Roberto giving fiery speeches before distinguished guests such as the Duke of Montrose.

On the other hand, the cynical celebration of the start of the Great War (or WWI as it later became more commonly known) is an entirely new phenomenon dreamt up by the ConDem coalition to counter any supposed benefit the YES campaign might gain from Bannockburn. Had Davidson been correct in his assertion, one would naturally surmise that the “celebration” (Prime Minister David Cameron’s word) of the start of WWI (costing some £50m in a time when the government claims it cannot afford basic welfare) must be to celebrate the Allied Forces killing 4 million people from the Central Powers.  Furthermore, whereas Bannockburn broke the dominance of the English monarchy in the affairs of Scotland and led to the Declaration of Arbroath and the 1328 Treaty of Edinburgh-Northampton, the Great War achieved little except for the fall of a few Crowns and, far from being “The War to End All Wars” was only resolved by a second World War that affected almost 4 times as many countries worldwide.  Truly, something to celebrate!

The organisers of the event at Bannockburn this weekend have done their best to make the event a-political. This is sensible as, being a central part of a Year of Homecoming, it is directed as much (if not more so) at the Scots Diaspora as folk in Scotland.  Politicisation has come, however, not from the Nationalists or Yes campaign but from the Labour-Tory alliance on Stirling Council, who tried to organise a competing 3 day event, which they hadn’t the resources to run properly. How Stirling’s Armed Forces Day will play out is moot but the Bannockburn 700 event promises to be spectacular and fun (and I’m absolutely gutted that I can’t now be there!).

So, on this 700th anniversary, let’s lay politics aside and proudly commemorate Bannockburn for its historical importance to the people of Scotland (and to those of the Diaspora), whether YES, NO or DON’T KNOW.

Out of Touch Cameron Begs rUK to Lovebomb Scotland

8 Feb

Having had time to think through the “wee feartie’s” speech, delivered from the safety of London, here are my thoughts:

This Government has set out a long-term economic plan for Britain, getting behind enterprise, dealing with our debts, a plan to give the people of this country peace of mind and security for the future.

I’m sure that for his pals from Eton and the Bullington Club, there is peace of mind and security for the future, but for too many there is no peace of mind or security for the future as they face unemployment, foodbanks, bedroom tax and the hounding of the weakest and most vulnerable in society.  While that may be acceptable to Tories – there are more Pandas in Scotland than Tory MPs – it is not acceptable to the majority of Scots who have rejected the Tories in both Westminster and Holyrood.

He also ignored the fact that the economic benefits of independence have been repeatedly shown to be greater than those of remaining in the UK (eg see the FT article, OECD Factbook), especially given that the Westminster parties have said that they will scrap the Barnett Formula in the event of a NO vote and the promise of further £25bn of austerity cuts.  Missing was any mention of oil, which if the Barnett Formula is scrapped (as Westminster have stated is their wish), will add greatly to UK finances as little will get back to Scotland.

While Britain may have greater clout in the world, it doesn’t extend to Scotland as the democratic will of the Scottish people is negated by the in-built majority and centrality of the interests of the city-state of London.   As DEVO Max was removed by Cameron from the options, the only way for Scotland to get more powers is to vote YES in September.  Furthermore, an independent Scotland would have twice as many MEPs as it currently has, thus, in Europe our clout is actually reduced by membership of the UK.  Either way, there is a hypocrisy in the attitude of Cameron regarding his desire to keep Scotland in the UK with no renegotiation, but his willingness to take the UK out of the EU if he does not get the renegotiations he wants from the other 28 member states.

The only threat to “connections between people”, connexions which existed long before the Acts of Union in 1707, comes from the Unionist side who claim that we will be expelled from the EU, NATO, etc, that they want to erect border posts and treat Scots  as “foreigners” if they dare to vote for the right to run their own affairs .  Despite Portugal winning her independence from Spain, Norway breaking free from Denmark, Belgium rejecting Dutch rule, or even British-American relations, there are still marriages, families in the other country, trade and joint defence between  each of these nations.  It should also be remembered that Scotland and England’s separate history is as long as their joint history.

As for the impact of UK culture, in my experience (especially from abroad), it is that so called “British” culture  is principally “English culture” to which the rest of the home nations are meekly expected to conform.  This view is borne out by the Prime Minister’s claim that his favourite childhood book, which he is so desperate to pass on his 3 children, was “Our Island Story”, which is in fact subtitled  “A History of England for Boys and Girls“.   This glaring Freudian slip reveals how Cameron really views Scotland – as a part of  England; and Britain as merely England writ large.  This view is not something that is likely to make Scots wish to remain in the UK!

Cameron’s listing of UK-wide institutions and icons is equally suspect.

The  BBC, which  has shown    itself to be a  tool of the  Westminster  government  through its  biased reporting  of the  independence debate thus far, as has now been demonstrated by the independent research carried out by the University of the West of Scotland, is losing the respect of the Scottish people along with the English owned “National” press.

The NHS is not UK-wide and never has been.  Scotland has (and always has had) a completely separate NHS from England & Wales – the only way that the Scottish NHS can be protected is through voting YES; and the armed forces have, in Scotland, been disproportionately cut in relation to other parts of the UK under Cameron’s government.  In fact, it has recently been revealed that the MoD is reduced to using Twitter to obtain information about Scottish coastal waters.   Let us not forget that, during the time of his mentor, Thatcher, the only successful British Steel plant, Ravenscraig, was closed to try and save English Tory votes.

And just since when has Scotch Whisky been a British cultural icon?  The name Scotch makes it clear that it is a Scottish icon (like the kilt and the bagpipes!).  While we are on the subject of whisky, there was more nonsense about British Embassies promoting it (they did nothing for St Andrew’s Day last year and charge for promotion days!);  it is clear that Cameron’s real interest is the £135/sec that Scotch Whisky brings to the UK Balance of Trade, which EWNI will lose if Scotland becomes independent.

Hypocritically, Call me Dave has the audacity to quote Mandela, a man his party wanted hanged as a terrorist, who said,  “I have great respect for British political institutions, and for the country’s system of justice. I regard the British Parliament as the most democratic institution in the world…”.  Mandela made that comment in 1964, long before the merging of policy which made the Conservative and Labour parties almost indistinguishable; before the exceptionally punitive sentencing of English rioters in 2011; and he never had to live in Scotland under that “most democratic institution” where the electoral will of the people is ignored in favour of English voters.  Of course, in comparison to the South African institutions and systems that imprisoned Mandela, his comments are understandable. Cameron’s speech makes me think that an alternative view, from a 19th century member of the House of Commons, is more apposite: “…that smuggest and most Philistine of legislative assemblies – the British House of Commons.” [1]

Yet again Cameron trotted out the spurious, negatively emotive “separation” in an attempt to imply that the aim of independence is alienation rather than the very normal desire for “self-determination” which is what independence is actually about.   As a great man once said: “Every nation since the beginning of the world, has preferred, and rightly, indifferent government by one of its own citizens, to any rule, however beneficial, imposed from the outside.” [2]   How much more preferable when the Scottish government is so much better than the far from beneficial one imposed by Westminster?  Dave’s reiterating his plaintive dirge that the decision would “be forever” is meaningless as I cannot find any country in the world, which once having gained independence, has begged to return to their previous vassal state.

As for his phone a friend plea: he couldn’t sound more desperate and more out of touch if he tried (notice that the first question was about the flooding in Somerset, showing how little independence matters to the average non-Scot).  Little wonder the Better Together campaign cringe whenever Cameron opens his mouth on the topic of Scottish Independence and are so supportive of his refusal to debate with Salmond, who, after all, doesn’t have to quote Mandela or embarrassingly mimic Martin Luther King, to get his message across.

To reduce a country as ancient and proud as Scotland to a mere brand, even the suppposedly “powerful brand” UK, is to add insult to injury! Currently, Scotland is so submerged in the  GB that it is almost as invisible to the rest of the world as the waters of the River Tweed are to a casual observer 5 miles out into the North Sea! and that will always be the case when the smug, self-satisfied, Westminster elite confound Britain with England as Cameron does.

The plain fact is that, without Scotland, EWNI’s place in the world would be diminished, but Scotland’s would be enhanced.  Cameron knows this and it gives him the collywobbles.

[1]  R B Cunninghame Graham, “A Plea” in The Nail and Chainmakers, Labour Platform Series (1888)

[2]   R B Cunninghame Graham, “José Antonio Páez“, London: William Heinemann (1929), p 217

Cameron’s BritNat Jingoism

3 Oct

David Cameron’s jingoistic closing speech shows just how arrogant he is in relation to other nations and how incapable he is of distinguishing Britain from England.

Let’s look at some of his gaffes in trying to rebut the supposed Russian slight that Britain is “just a small island that no-one pays any attention to”:

When the world wanted rights, who wrote Magna Carta?
England – 388 years before the Union of Crowns and 492 years before the Acts of Union which formed the United Kingdom. Magna Carta, which was declared “null and void forever by Pope Innocent III within less than 3 months, would have had asolutely no effect outside of England.  It was a great English flop.

When they wanted representation, who built the first Parliament?
Iceland in 930 ad

When they looked for compassion, who led the abolition of slavery?
China Qin Dynasty 221-206bc, Iceland from the 12th century and the Republic of Vermont in 1791.

When they searched for equality, who gave women the vote?
The Pitcairn Islands 1838.

When their freedom was in peril, who offered blood, toil, tears and sweat?
Britain with the support and aid of the various underground movements in occupied Europe,  (but don’t tell the Americans as they think they saved Europe in both World Wars!).  Without American funding and reinforcements, it is highly likely that Britain would have fallen and without their troops the liberation of Europe would have taken much longer.

And today – whose music do they dance  to?
That very much depends which country you are in, but there is as much American as British dance music and in Spain they also dance to Spanish music -the Clubs in Ibiza are not representative of the rest of Spain let alone the rest of the world .

Whose universities do they flock to?
America’s (more than any other in the world)

Whose football league do they watch?
Their own – they then watch selected games from the other leagues including Germany’s, Portugal’s, Spain’s and England’s – true footie fans aren’t that fussy.  There isn’t , and never has been, a British football league!

Whose example of tolerance of people living together from every nation, every religion, young and old, straight and gay?
A recent survey found that Latin American countries (with the exception of Venezuela and Dominican Republic) were as tolerant as the UK and her former English speaking colonies (Australia, Canada, New Zealand & USA). The UK has become the 4th most unequal society in the developed world under Cameron’s watch a measure he carefully left out from his list.

Whose example do they aspire to?
The American Dream – most people want to go to the USA.

Britain / UK 1 out of 10.

Of course, there was nothing in his speech about how “Britain” invaded all but 9 of the countries of the World and how those countries were oppressed and exploited under Britain’s Imperial rule.  Nor did he mention the illegal war in Iraq, preferring to talk about Afghanistan, but failing to mention just how many British service personnel gave their lives for the Bush cabal’s political ambition and American neo-imperialism.

Ironically, Cameron’s empty rhetoric, echoes that of the former Soviet Union which taught that everything worth inventing was invented by Russians.