Brexit – Where Can I Start and Where Will It End?

This is one of those sorts of posts where it is just cathartic to write. I don’t have any viable solutions, I think I understand the problems and I am certain that I am not alone in the feeling of abandonment of the people by their elected representatives.

I didn’t want to leave the EU, I still think it is a very poor idea with nothing but an overall negative effect on many parts of the UK. Not just financially, but if a vote is re-run then societal as well. The effect on society seems to be entirely overlooked, and because it is not as easily quantifiable in economic terms it falls into the, ‘something that can safely be ignored because there are no good soundbites to be had from it’ sort of issue. It is a sociological sort of issue and those sorts of issues are not the stock in trade of our elected representatives.

I voted leave but would not characterise myself anymore as a Remainer. There are several points that really trouble me and make me feel unable to support a second referendum.

The first is that, regardless of party, the vast majority of our elected representatives appear to have treated the entire process as a means for them to further a mix their own and their party’s political agenda. Whether it was the early leadership challenges in the Tory party, the LibDem stance of standing on the sidelines repeating versions of ‘I told you so, it’ll never work, we always had a better idea’ to Corbyn and Labour ignoring it all in the first instance and lately playing brinkmanship so the old school socialist revolutionaries can realise their misplaced belief that the subsequent turmoil will upset people so much they’ll have a revolution.

The second remark is a development of the previous observation. If there was one time in the history of the post-war United Kingdom that really necessitated a coming together across party and ideological boundaries to make the best of a bad thing, Brexit is it. The vote was to leave the EU and however much I feel that this was the wrong outcome I respect the decision. On that basis I had a rather naive expectation that the political establishment also appreciated the seriousness of the decision and – like the EU did – have a negotiation strategy and a team to implement it. Instead, all we heard was a bunch of blowhards posturing and making further false claims. Much of the Leavers behaviour seemed rooted in the, ‘Britain is so bloody brilliant that all those whingeing Johnny Foreigners will come to their collective senses and form an orderly queue to beg us to make deals with them’ mindset. It seems to be seeping into their collective consciousness that this isn’t the case. With 60 odd days to go. No one is overtly admitting this but there is a great deal of manoeuvring and double-speak in an attempt to back away from all the bombastic remarks. The Remainers have also behaved extraordinarily poorly on the most part. Two examples from Twitter – not my sole data source I assure you – are the Labour MP David Lammy and the Lib Dem MP Tom Brake. They are very vocal and repetitive with their sole contribution seeming to be around trying to stir the pot and cause upset. Never have either of them said what they are doing that is constructive. Agitating for a so-called People’s Vote/second referendum whilst doing nothing else is not a respectful way to treat their constituents who stand to be affected.

Thought of the social divisions that stand to occur if a second referendum were to be held seem to be being avoided. The feelings on both sides of the debate are running pretty high already, so imagine if one side (it was near enough 50/50) felt they were being ignored? There are valid arguments on both sides and there is a lot of value in being mature enough to admit error and change ones mind. That makes perfect sense. However, the structure that was used to conduct the referendum is what it is, it wasn’t illegal. The allegations of misconduct on both sides are there. No one likes losing. Especially if it seemed so obvious to so many that leaving the EU was, overall, detrimental. Martin Lewis recently called the referendum a black and white vote on a rainbow of issues. The big issue is in just how poorly the vote was structured, because no one took the idea of losing seriously. In and Out was the only option on the ballot paper but in reality those that voted did so for a variety of reasons. Some were based on complete falsehoods, others on very legitimate concerns. Few people voted for exactly the same reasons. 

What is overlooked by the bulk of the Remain camp is that where by and large their choice to remain was closer to black and white, the Leave voters articulated many more reasons for their choice. They won the referendum and to re-run the vote until we achieve the ‘correct’ answer is akin to replaying a Test Match until the team that was stronger on paper triumphed and that is definitely not a Britisher’s idea of fair play.

A core factor that does unite remain voters is the sense of identity as British. The idea that this once proud nation of which they are part of is anything less than wholly in control of its own fate is an anathema to many. To see the power of identity in politics, one only need look across the Atlantic and see that the victory of Trump was driven by his ability to strike the right identity note (You are American, You are being ignored by the ‘Elites’ and You are no longer great. I, Donald Trump, will Make America Great Again – MAGA – and by extension I will make You great again). Our referendum was pitched by the Leave side as all about ‘Taking Back Control’, which was the masterstroke of the Leave contingent. It was a simple but powerful message that Leave voters could identify with.  People appreciate simple messages and most do not want to be mired in the complexity of politics. A Yes/No choice is great as far as they are concerned.

The so-called ‘Elites’, the ruling classes who govern the country were painted as having ceded an unacceptable degree of control to the European Project. It isn’t important whether this was accurate. It stuck with people and made the choice a simple one, especially for the older voters. Here, at last, was probably their final chance to grab back control for Great Britain. And no matter how much the liberal elite squeaked a vote to leave was the right thing to do.

If the referendum is re-run in any form there will be a great big chunk of the population that will be very unhappy. The Elites will be ignoring their heartfelt desires to take back control. This time this contingent will have lost control not only to the Europeans but to their own citizens. I’m not sure how well they’ll take that.

 

 

 

Dear Labour, Here Comes UKIP.

In Great Britain the Labour Party (the party of the left, in all its guises) has pulled off the astonishing trick of disappearing so far up its own arse by squabbling amongst itself that everyone can see it for what it has become; Labour is a bunch of power-hungry people, so focused on their own gain, that they will commit collective suicide rather than back down to one another. This public, Faustian style death pact that all the warring elements have bought into is very worrying. These self-obsessed clowns are no longer representative of the voters and nor do they provide an effective opposition, so the Tories just march around doing what they please.

Labour used to be the antidote to the so-called ‘Nasty Party’ (the right-wing Tories) and provided an effective opposition, sometimes got into power and occasionally mitigated some of the more egregious things the hardline Tories do. However, these days there is a new force and it is going to subsume Labour.  I watched the address of the new leader of UKIP on a Channel 4 clip and it was terrifying. Terrifyingly good and terrifyingly dangerous if you are the Labour party. In fact, just scary for any person with even a semi-liberal outlook on life.

In this post-factual political world Paul Nuttal, the new leader of a very unpleasant right-wing party, has marched up to the centre ground and declared that UKIP is the voice of the working classes. His message and delivery are very convincing. An apt metaphor is the new dog in the neighbourhood seen peeing higher on all the lamp posts. These lamp posts are the parliamentary constituencies that the Labour infighting has let go unattended. Anyone who has had a dog knows that they regularly remark their territory, lest the other dogs forget. Labour has failed to do this and the new dog is here.

Nuttal is appealing to traditional Labour voters and I believe that – important caveat now – if he can galvanise UKIP he will decimate the Labour party. If they think he won’t because commonsense dictates that no sane decent person will vote for such a bunch of unpleasant people as UKIP then I have just the one word: Trump. People identify with his message and he is skilled in its delivery. Watch out.

Let The Accommodating Begin

We have all heard the words of Lord Aston in 1887, “Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” True then, true now.

In the stunned aftermath – at least in the liberal intelligentsia – of the US Election result the thing that caught my attention was the amount of Republican politicians that were, at best, ambivalent about The Donald before his win.

There is no doubt that he terrified and confused them. On the one hand, apparently one of them as a rich white man yet on the other, he had the propensity to say worrying things in a scary shoot-from-the-hip manner. Whilst The Donald, seeing power came from embracing a more right-wing christian position (Guns, good. Abortion, bad, etc) he lacked a filter. That scares these folks, for what lurks underneath? More importantly: will it compromise them to be too close to a man who is emotionally akin to a hand grenade with the pin out?

Watch what happens now, for it has already started. The power obsessed, self interested, Republican establishment are all scrambling to (re-)establish themselves at the right hand of the amazing new leader. One who speaks to change and represents the suppressed voice of the downtrodden underclass of America etc etc. What a guy, what a visionary, what an extraordinary change agent and what a stunning bullshit artist.

What they see in Trump is a man whose victory is merely the figurehead vehicle to dismantle any social advancement seen in the last 8y. Bye bye Obamacare (it is terribly unfair you know, affordable healthcare), bye bye Roe v. Wade (gotta insert punishment in here. After all, a good grabbing by the pussy is hardly sufficient for defiling one’s own body against the wishes of god, even if it is The Donald doing the grabbing). Bye bye same-sex marriage. I mean, seriously, that is just sick and against the natural order of things. Love has nothing to do with it in the deranged christian view,. Marriage is about a woman being a procreation machine, and you just can’t make more people if the fags get in on the act, ergh.  Climate change: can’t say bye bye to liberal bullshit can we, we can but dismantle the ideas that are perpetuated by people trying to neuter the great benevolent nation that is the USA. Oh yeah, free trade agreements like NAFTA are just liberal bullshit too, designed to disadvantage the great benevolent nation. And so on and so forth.

Brace yourselves for a tide of Trump lovin’ by the right-wing fence sitters now he has made it. An undignified rush for plum jobs will ensue, as memories are not helpful things to have in politics. At last, getting off the fence will provide these poor people with well deserved crotch comfort and at least someone is getting some relief somewhere.

 

 

Just The One Reason

The febrile US Election atmosphere that has become my, and many others, Facebook feed and lurches between interesting, erudite and alarming to watch. It is akin to watching the leader of the free world (America) as the central character in a disaster film. Except this film has two villains and no good guys.

One villain is a deranged and unstable egotist and the other a smooth criminal. I have decided that getting straight reporting is nigh impossible and my overall emotion has become, “gah.” The furious parade of facts and figures to support the alleged criminal (historical allegations going as far back as Whitewater and not just a, “whoops, was that the wrong email server?”) which are being wheeled out to discredit the deranged egotist have reached a fever pitch.

I do, however, have one over-arching concern and that is rooted in self and group preservation; Trump will have authority to use nuclear weapons. He has hinted that he isn’t averse to doing whatever it takes to make America great again, whatever that means. Though the implication is that shows of force are his idea of demonstrating power and ergo greatness. With his record of not listening to wiser heads – he believes that he knows more than the Top Brass – that is a terrifying proposition. After all, a  nuke is likely to be his idea of an international grab of the pussy.

Clinton, on the other hand, for all her alleged faults has never ever acted in a way that causes a rational person to think she views nuclear weapons as anything other than a deterrent. There seems to be no stated need to go around flexing for the benefit of those that don’t consider the US as great as many Americans feel it is.

Additionally, it is becoming an ever more credible theory that the Russian support for Trump is rooted in Putin’s desire to undermine NATO. It is my junior international relations understanding that the unified block that is NATO is a very useful deterrent against nuclear war.

I want to die very quickly: if Trump wins and decides that the way to bring an unspecified ‘dang foreigner’ into line is just a small nuke we are all, in the vernacular, fucked. Someone else with a nuke will use the attack as an excuse to launch a weapon in support of the victim. Hey presto, a small portion of the globe is eradicated and the fallout, literally, will come to us. My understanding of radiation poisoning is that it is not a great way to die and doesn’t fulfil my criteria of quickly.

So, a vote for Clinton Mark II is really the only logical choice. The least worst option scenario. She may screw up a lot in four years but she is unlikely to get us all fried. “The Donald” otoh…

Why Trump Will Win

The words ‘President Trump’ are some of the most repulsive and terrifying ones imaginable. Nonetheless, I think it will happen. If you haughtily cock your head and allow the merest hint of a Billy Idol sneer then you are one of the reasons why.

In my earliest days of selling I remember the old adage that you never called someone else’s baby ugly. It can have a face that looks  like it has been chasing parked cars, but it is still beautiful to its mother.

Trump appeals to the masses. That mass of people that we, in our intellectual bubble (that is you, you can read, you’re reading this ergo you are intellectual to them, plus you know what ergo means) simply don’t understand.

These people  lack identity and Trump’s message resonates with them. He knows this and he assures them that they can identify as American again and that he will make America great again. They will be great. Many have never been great, feel overlooked, neglected, passed over, victims. Well, no more. With ‘The Donald’ at the helm America will be great and they will be great once more.

Whether that can be intellectualised away means nothing to them. Donald has told them what the problem is and has promised to fix it. A nice and clean message from a guy that talks their language.

The intellectuals think that this is stupid. I agree. There is no sense in the demented ramblings of this egotistical sociopath. However, what I think Does. Not. Matter. Whatsmore, I and my ilk are not the gun-totin’, immigrant blamin’, downtrodden minority . This not so small minority votes too and they are voting Trump.

Hilary isn’t peddling a heady cocktail of freedom, identity, God and whiteness. Oh no, she is a criminal elite that sucked the fine United States into this mess. Her and that pseudo Kenyan guy that made it into the White House. They are the people to blame according to Trump.

If there are more who swallow the rousing ‘yee-hah’ chorus of identity, greatness and blame, than us thoughtful folks then tough shit, common sense loses. In the meantime we can wrap ourselves in our intellect, make snide remarks about egomaniacal racists etc and write articles in magazines that the Trump voters never read, and cometh the day we’ll all be wringing our hands and setting the Internet on fire asking how it could have all gone so wrong.

The answer is you. You sneered at ‘those people’ who couldn’t think like you can. You called the dang baby ugly. It is more than scary: it is quite possible. Brexit anyone?