Category Archives: EU Referendum

May is over. Pass the parchment….

Well what a week it was. As if our 12th wedding anniversary, a joyous and great landmark in itself, wasn’t enough, then the General Election just added to my excitement and joy. It was just under one year since the people of the UK decided to vote by a small margin to leave the European Union, a decision which will have enormous ramifications, some good and some not so good, for the people of the UK, not just now, but for generations to come. Whichever side of that argument you are on, the vote was cast and the UK is  leaving the EU. What has not been agreed is the actual details around the deal. That all has to be negotiated and that process will start in around seven days time.

Up until Thursday, we were going to be in the hands of a Prime Minister who had no idea of what consensus looks like, let alone how to build one and why it is so important for our country. She approached the issue with succession of inane and meaningless slogans such as ‘Brexit means Brexit‘, ‘A red, white and blue Brexit‘ and ‘No deal is better than a bad deal’.  Then she decided after a walking holiday over the Easter holiday to call a snap general election in order to ‘strengthen her hand‘ in the upcoming Brexit talks. The rest is history. Consistency is everything, and Theresa May ensured that she trotted out another asinine slogan, the now infamous ‘Strong and stable government‘ followed up with the equally ridiculous ‘Coalition of chaos‘, which ironically is about to become true, but not in the ways that Mrs May’s team had thought. The Conservative and Unionist Party are now in talks to do what is known as a ‘confidence and supply’ deal with the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland. We shall see how that pans out in the near future, but don’t expect this to be an easy ride for the Prime Minister, especially given that the devolved government in Northern Ireland has been stood down now and only has until the end of this month to reconvene, otherwise the Northern Irish will be put under ‘Home Rule‘ from Westminster, which has so many negative connotations for so many that it will not go down that well in that part of the UK.

It is clear now that the Prime Minister is a lame duck in every way possible. What is unclear is how long she will stay in the job. Under normal circumstances, she would have resigned on Friday. Instead she made one of the most ludicrous speeches I have ever heard standing on the steps outside Number 10 Downing St. So ridiculous, it just cemented Theresa May as the worst Prime Minister of my lifetime, in my opinion of course. Up until Thursday morning I also thought she was the most dangerous Prime Minister of my lifetime too. Dangerous because she had decided that our democratic decision, decided by referendum to leave the EU, would be the hardest of hard Brexits. She had clearly not taken the advice of businesses of all sizes who have been warning since last June of the catastrophic effects of crashing out of the Single Market and the Customs Union without a proper negotiated deal and closing our borders to talent, so much of it absolutely essential to keeping our economy growing.

The Prime Minister must now listen to the voices of reason. Equally, she will have the hard right of her party shouting that we must carry on regardless, but given her lack of majority in Parliament, many on the centre and left of her party will be saying she should moderate her and therefore the UK’s position. Labour would be best off keeping quiet for now, and they should focus on bringing their party back together. The Conservatives are so scared of another election right now, especially in the age of crowdfunding where parties can raise smaller amounts of cash from many people and not least because all of us are electioned-out, that they need Theresa May to stay in post. Make no mistake, she has been told to stand and hold the fort, whilst the Tory high command figure out who will be the next leader, and potentially Prime Minister. The potential candidates are Amber Rudd, who actually stood in for the Prime Minister at the leaders’ debate on TV, but has a majority of only 340 last Thursday, Michael Fallon, currently the only minister who is comfortable trotting out the party line even when the tin hats are on, or Boris Johnson. It was clear that Boris Johnson has been sussing out the mood amongst his peers since about 5am on Friday morning and has realised, or more accurately has been told to lay off for now. Boris is the most popular Conservative politician with all the local party associations, but is not trusted by so many of the actual Tory MPs. My money, for what it is worth, is on Johnson at some stage to declare that he has no choice but to take the helm of the UK. I have just finished reading his book about Winston Churchill and it is clear Boris actually thinks he is actually a latter day Churchill. This will play into his narrative that in its our time of greatest need, and there is only one person who can possibly lead Great Britain to salvation against the ravages of the European foes massing at our doors wanting to run us into the ground.  Like Churchill, Johnson is man who has connections in the USA, having been born in the USA and having US citizenship. You see how this could play out can’t you?

Right now, the Conservatives are in a state of panic. Do they keep Theresa May for a few months, or do they take a risk and allow Boris to live out his Churchillian fantasy at the expense of all of us? I think it is only a matter of when really.  The guff about bringing back Grammar schools and fox hunting will all go, they would be best advised to focus on getting Brexit sorted out as soft as possible for everyone’s sake.  Today’s latest announcement from the Prime Minster’s office is that the Queen’s Speech may be delayed as the time taken to transcribe the yet unwritten Queen’s Speech onto goatskin parchment, will mean it goes past next Monday’s original date and after that, The Queen will be at Royal Ascot for the rest of the week. If you ever thought we were in an episode of ‘The Thick of It’ we are surely in one right now. A lame duck, just got lamer.

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Going Underground

Today saw the publication of the Conservative and Unionist Party’s election manifesto. That followed the Lib Dems yesterday and Labour’s on Tuesday, although most of it was leaked a week before. And in exactly three weeks time, those who are registered to vote and want to vote, will vote. As a betting man, I would not back against the Conservative and Unionist Party winning by a landslide, currently you can get 25/1 with Paddy Power for Labour to win an outright majority and the same odds reversed for a majority Conservative and Unionist win. In plain English £1 on Labour winning will get you £25 back plus your original stake. £1 on the Conservative and Unionists will get you 4p back  plus your original stake.

 

Theresa May has clearly decided, or been advised, to focus on herself as the ‘strong and stable’ leader who will ‘take the difficult decisions’ in order to deliver a successful Brexit. Her rhetoric is all about how big the challenge ahead is and how ‘her’ plan will deliver a ‘stronger, fairer, more prosperous Britain’ which ‘seizes the opportunities ahead and to build a country that our children and grandchildren are proud to call their home.’ That bit is interesting, given I for one am actually proud to call Britain my home.  But hey, I am just one person and maybe Mrs May is not proud to call Britain her home, just yet? But what I did find interesting was her  aim to build ‘a Great Meritocracy here in Britain’ (note this is not my use of random capital letters, that’s her speech writer – you can read the whole speech here https://www.politicshome.com/news/uk/political-parties/conservative-party/news/86027/read-theresa-mays-full-speech-conservatives  }. I for one like the idea of a meritocracy, but am always cautious about those who the ‘meritocracy’ leaves behind. If Brexit taught anyone anything, it was that plenty of people feel, rightly, that they have been left behind in a globalised world. Add to that the definition of meritocracy that I found is ‘a ruling or influential class of educated or skilled people’ (experts anyone?) and I wonder if this comes to pass, whether it will actually improves things for the vast majority of ‘hard working people’ in this new, much heralded ‘Global Britain’?

 

Theresa May’s speech did come across all Winstonian. No, not that Winston, not the Winston Smith of George Orwell’s 1984 fame, no no, the other Winston, Mr Churchill. It felt like we were being pitched back to 1939. Great Britain was up against the dark foes in Europe and we had our collective backs against the proverbial wall. We have nowhere to go except, forward, together and face down the enemy. The road ahead will be tough, but we have no choice, but to grin and bear it and fight our way out of the EU. Our only chance is to back Mrs May’s strong and stable leadership, in the national interest.

 

Meanwhile over at Labour towers, it felt all very 1945.It’s a scenario whereby the people have come through several years of suffering, public services are rationed, real wages are falling and yet there had been record employment. What Labour was offering was in effect a New Deal, again. This would see the people take control of national assets, power, water, railways, and build loads of new low cost housing for all. The new Prime Minister would be an unassuming, intellectual man and generally less than brilliant at public relations but would pursue our foreign policy with a quiet manner, ensuring we make friends and try to keep them honest, rather than going in with a big stick.

 

Keep your money in your pockets. Some of the people of Britain love a fight, love to feel that we are the underdog and that we can once again be ‘great’.  That plays into Theresa May’s hands and will deliver her a massive majority in three weeks time.  The only hope for an alternative vision is for the young who have never voted to actually vote. Even then, and despite so many broken promises on immigration levels, deficit and therefore debt reduction, the Winstonian rhetoric will win the day. George Orwell was right. Right back then, right now. Get ready for many, many years of broken promises and lack of hope. We get the politicians we deserve and the public gets what the public wants. Me? I’m Going Underground.

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Your vote counts this time.

Whatever you feel about the EU referendum which will take place tomorrow, the one thing you should really do is actually vote. Please don’t forget, besides you have from 7am until 10pm tomorrow to put a cross in the box, and cast your single vote to decide if the UK will remain or leave the European Union. And this time, unlike at the general election, everyone’s vote really will count.
Both sides of the argument have chucked a load of statistics at each other for months now, most of which appear to be bordering on lies and all of which has only confused most of us anyway. We have been told that this is all about our democratic right to decide on what laws we want and what politicians we want to rule over us. It’s about the economy and immigration at the end of the day, apparently. And it’s all about ‘taking back control’, whatever that means. Clearly the ‘head’ argument has pretty much lost out to the ‘heart’. Ultimately this argument is actually pretty complicated, much like life itself, yet most people want simple slogans and actions, or simply someone else to blame. Why bother with a set of carefully thought through and even piloted policies when a hashtag will sort it all out in a few minutes on Facebook or Twitter?
Given we are pretty good at irony in the UK, it is pretty ironic that we hear all this stuff around democracy. Our voting system which delivers 650 MPs every five years to set the vast majority of our laws is so broken, it is beyond a joke. When a party wins an overall majority of 331 MPs i.e 50.1% in Parliament on only 36.9% of the votes cast (which was actually 24% of those eligible to vote) you know something is badly wrong. When another party gets only one MP  i.e. 0.15% on 12.6% of the overall votes cast, it really is beyond funny. Add in the simple fact that all laws that the MPs pass then have to be passed by an unelected bunch of ‘Lords’ who have all either been appointed by governments, are senior members of one religion in this country or have simply been placed their through their birth right and you suspect that someone is really having a laugh. The problem is they aren’t. It’s the UK’s version of democracy and it is simply far from that. How do less than 4 people in a room of 10 rule the day exactly, shouldn’t it be 6 people who have the majority on 4 every single time?
Then we have immigration, which has become the really toxic and divisive aspect of this referendum. Yes there are lots of people born outside of the UK who live and work here. But we are told every time a ‘Leaver’ opens their mouth that ‘we need to take back control of our borders’. Ignoring the simple fact that there are more arrivals from countries outside the EU than from inside the EU (the truth is often inconvenient) none of these ‘Leavers’ has any actual plan to tell us what sort of numbers they will allow to come here, simply citing some Australian points system which will ride in and save their day. Add the simple fact that we can’t stop people leaving the UK, yet anyway, and this whole exercise becomes somewhat theoretical. When Michael Gove states ‘the British people will decide on the numbers each year’ he not only shows contempt for the issue, he also lies. How exactly are we, the British people, going to decide on how many and who we will allow into the country each and every year? Don’t forget this man has form, just ask an teacher you know what they think of him and his ideas. And that is without any of Farage’s misleading and shameful poster from last week stirring up the fear and loathing. I am not going to waste my time on him.
I understand why people are so angry. I am angry. Yes our NHS is under pressure alongside our schools, housing and our jobs and wages. But to put this at the door of the EU is both simplistic and wrong. Our ‘democratically’ elected government has decided to pursue austerity and reduce investment in our country. We are importing doctors, vets and teachers from all over the world rather than train enough here. In my industry, we need skills to build our technology businesses and we don’t have enough of them to wait until we can train our young people up, so we have to seek them from both the EU and outside of the EU.
So we must invest in people and we should invest in people who live here, and are born here. Don’t blame the EU for this. The UK needs to take a long view, invest in our people through training and skills, build more houses, build more hospitals and GP surgeries, build more schools, build more unity and above all ensure we have a democratic voice that reflects the needs and wants of the people of this country. Vote Leave the EU if you think that will make this happen as I am sure people of the ilk of Michael Gove and Nigel Farage will deliver this vision for you. Or not.
Or vote Remain to ensure we have stability through trade and diplomacy with our nearest neighbours and then demand that our politicians, rather than blaming immigrants and the poor, deliver a society which ensures everyone in this country gets a fair deal and a good life.

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