Tag Archives: Politics

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

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.

The Label Fell Off

3 Mar

Recently, following a criticism about “expats living in warm countries meddling in British politics that no longer affect them“, I have been reflecting on the labels used to describe those living outwith their own countries.

Let’s start by examining the term ‘expat’ (expatriate) which was used in such an obviously denigratory sense by the critic.

The term “ex-pat”, which is only applied to folk from the UK (or former predominantly white colonies) who are living abroad, has a casual arrogance about it that hints at colonialist and racist undertones.  It typically refers to those living abroad long term who intend to return to their homeland at some point (often unspecified) in the future; or, as is so often the case in Spain, folk who have a home in both the host country and their country of origin, between which they alternate according to season and/or family ties.  They almost invariably fail to integrate with the local culture, often cannot speak the language, and only associate with other ex-pats.

Unfortunately, for I am sure that they are lovely people, the expats I have encountered here in Spain almost all adhere to a nauseating British stereotype, which was already well out of fashion in England in my infancy.  Given their intention to return to their country of origin at some point in the future, their interest  in the current politics of their homeland is both pertinent and permissible (given that they can continue to vote for the first 15 years of their residence abroad – a privilege which the Tories would like to make lifelong) and should be encouraged rather than curtailed.

Although I now eschew the label ‘expat’, I have been one in the past. I was an expat all the while I was living in England (some 35 years) – something only Scots are fully likely to understand – never feeling settled or really at home there and always harbouring a secret longing to return home to Scotland. It is bewildering, given the much vaunted myth of the heterogeneity of the UK that I feel far more at home living in Spain than I ever did living in England!

Moving on to migrant, which is a term used to describe a person who moves abroad for reasons of work, which I did not when I left in 2008. In fact, I was unemployed for the first few months I was in Spain, having given up a good job (and turned down another offer of work) in London in order to emigrate. Yet, I have to also confess to having been a migrant; first, in 1980, when I moved from Sussex to Belfast in search of work, and again, following the completion of my bachelors degree, when I was willing to migrate to any part of the country for work, but ended up migrating to London because of my ex-wife’s PhD.

So, if I am not any longer an expat or a migrant, what labels are apposite?

It would be more apt to call me a partial émigré than either expat or migrant, as part of the reason I fled the Benighted Kingdom (as Cammie, Clegg & Co have made it) was to escape just that political eventuality. The continuance of a virtually unfettered Tory reign of terror against the poorest, weakest and most vulnerable in British society while lining the insatiable pockets of their ultra-wealthy pals, combined with the government’s rising xenophobia, is one of the greatest deterrents to ever returning to the land of my birth, where they have but negligible electoral support. Yet, when all is said and done, émigré (even if just partial) is too flash and fussy for me.

My personal choice would be for the simplest descriptions; either ‘immigrant’ or ‘emigrant’ both of which are felicitous to my circumstance. I am not ashamed to be an immigrant, despite its pejorative connotations for the small-minded. It is, after all, a factual description as I have immigrated to Spain; but I am equally comfortable with the term ‘emigrant’, given the long tradition of emigration from Scotland to all parts of the globe; I am a Scottish emigrant who has chosen to permanently live in Spain.

So, when relabelling this particular person, please stick to the straight talking terms immigrant and emigrant.