Showing Their True Colours

The big news this week is about defectors. Not the sort of defectors who go and live in a foreign country, but political defectors in our own parliament.

It started with a group of disgruntled Labour Party members of parliament. They resigned from the Labour Party in a public fashion, calling a press conference to announce their reasons. Some said it was about Antisemitism. That is just the usual charge against the party, for not having a sympathetic stance on the state of Israel. Rather than address the human rights record of Israel, provide answers to what they are doing to other ethnic groups in their own country, or how Israel is moving further to the Far Right, they use the hackneyed accusation of Antisemitism, a catch-all that sounds great in a soundbite. But we all know it isn’t about religion and culture. It is simply about the actions of a religiously-dominated country imposing its will on those who do not share the same religion.

Some of those defectors showed more honesty. They were leaving because of Brexit. They had voted to Remain, and they lost. They want the Labour Party to promise a second referendum, and the leaders refuse to do so. So rather than work from within, promoting their own agenda, they chose to resign, and to sit in parliament as Independents. But they are not Independents in the real sense, as they rode in on the back of the organisation they now claim to revile. They are a small band of Centrist politicians who have never been Socialists, and never really espoused the true origins of the working-class Labour movement. They are the kind of people who want to just tell the voters what is best for them, and then hope that they just go away and do what they are told. We were soon hearing about this new ‘movement’, middle-ground politics, neither one thing nor the other. They complained that Labour had been taken over by left-wing extremists. In other words, their party members were now actually Socialists, as they should have been all along.

Soon after, those eight Labour politicians were joined by three members of the Conservative Party. They are also people who voted to Remain, in the EU referendum. They also want a second referendum, in the hope of changing the result. They were honest with their reasons. They don’t like the way Mrs May is continuing to insist on a departure from Europe, and they are unhappy with their colleagues on the Right of the party, who are urging a no-deal Brexit. They want to offer the public a new political alternative, a Centrist utopia, where they tell us what is good for us, and we quietly go away. They have happily joined this new group started by the Labour Party defectors, and I suspect it will have a new name soon. Something like Social Democrats, perhaps?

This is music to the ears of Vince Cable, and his pathetic Liberal Democrat Party. He has rushed to embrace the turncoats, and offered to work with them at any level. He may well be offering them senior roles in his own party, should they choose to join. More likely, these unreliable self-seeking politicos will swallow him whole, and his party with him.

But I am not unreasonable. Politicians should of course be allowed to resign, if they find themselves at odds with the policies of their own party. That is only fair and right. But it should come with consequences. The people that voted them in to those well-paid jobs did so because of the parties they represented. Someone voting Labour might not even have known the name of the candidate, and could have been voting out of loyalty to a party, or from their own basic political beliefs. The same applies to those who voted for the four Conservatives. They expected their elected members to support the party they voted for. Or what was the point of an election in the first place? So my proposal is that there should be a new election in every constituency where the member has chosen to resign from their party, and claim to be an ‘Independent’. Let them give up their lucrative jobs, finance their own campaigns, and then see if they really enjoy the support of the public that they still claim to represent.

But no, that won’t happen. The eleven people who claim to be so troubled by their ‘conscience’ were not troubled enough to leave behind the salaries, and the position of influence that comes with the job. Instead, they will just cause trouble, make vacuous statements, and continue to insist that they are doing the right thing by those who elected them.

And they will continue to draw that £77,400 ($101,130) a year salary, plus all expenses.

Oh yes.

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Who Blinks First?

So the EU has refused all further negotiations. Donald Tusk has made his landmark comment about that ‘special place in Hell’, and we have a stalemate.

Well I am ‘old-school’. When I used to play cards, I didn’t blink. And faced with the possibility of the inevitable, I went ‘all in’.

So my message to Tusk is simple, if you will please forgive the expletive. “Donald, you can go and f**** yourself, and the horse you rode in on too”.

Forgive the repetition, but the UK is by far the largest trading customer of the EU. We buy more goods from them, than any other 19 nations combined. They have it all to lose, not us. But we sent a worm to do a lion’s job, so Mrs May will come back cap-in-hand, and whimper.

Let’s roll the dice. A no-deal Brexit, with a hard border with Ireland, the country that has caused all the problems. Slap on some tariffs, and watch Ireland squeal. Without the EU, that country would have collapsed long ago, little more than a banana republic. They sell us Guinness, and Irish Whiskey, also some butter. Just ban those imports, and listen to the crying.

It’s time to finally play ‘hard-ball’, something we should have been doing in July 2016.

A Busy Week In British Politics

It is only Thursday, but a lot has been happening this week. Mrs May’s attempt to get her pathetic Brexit ‘Deal’ through parliament was voted down with the biggest defeat ever seen in our political history. It’s important to note that. Ever since modern parliamentary democracy has existed in Britain, no government has ever suffered a defeat of anything like this margin. That fact alone should make this week historically memorable. Last night, the government survived a vote of no confidence. No surprise there, as most members of parliament put their jobs and careers before any principles.

But even that overwhelming rejection failed to impress the hapless Prime Minister to do the decent thing, and resign. Rarely has a leader enjoyed less popularity in their own party, and failed so completely in their negotiations with both the EU, the Opposition parties, and their own dissenters. Despite claiming to have worked hard to achieve the best possible deal for leaving the EU, it is apparent to anyone with a functioning brain that all Mrs May has done has been to return from Europe with the deal offered by the other member states, on their own terms, and a ‘take it or leave it’ basis.

I actually feel embarrassed that she doesn’t have sufficient honour to resign, and feels no shame in hanging on to her job, in the middle of this awful mess she has engineered.

Meanwhile, the opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn has been making speeches this morning. This former radical, one-time committed Socialist and reformer, now seems intent on one thing. Becoming the Prime Minister. He has gone back on many of his previous statements and promises, by now suggesting that ‘everything is on the table’, in the event of a Labour win in the election that is not actually happening, except in his mind. He refuses to rule out a second referendum, or the much-lauded ‘People’s Vote’, (same thing, different name) and reprises his own demand of remaining in the European Customs Union at all costs.

So, anyone who wants to really leave the EU has no leadership to look to. Both May and Corbyn were firm Remainers in 2016, and both have broken promises to abide by the will of the people, and ensure that Brexit happens when it should, deal or not. The disgruntled Remain voters have wasted two years using their best efforts to overturn the vote, that very ‘will of the people’ they love to crow about., and they now embrace the ideas that demand a ‘second try’, in the sure hope of getting what they wanted in 2016, which was Britain to stay as a member state of the EU.

We hear a lot about how Leave voters were misled. They were confused, lied to even. They didn’t want to leave with no deal, and most of them would now change their minds, and vote Remain. This is exactly what all this stalling, propaganda, and behind the scenes machinations have been about, for the last two years and more. Sowing the seeds of doubt, reassuring the leaders of EU nations that we won’t actually leave the EU, even if it says so ‘on the tin’. Disregarding that ‘will of the people’, because they have no respect for the people that had that will, and consider them to be inferior beings, unable to understand politics, and make up their own minds. It started on the day the result was announced in 2016, and has gone on unabated every day since.

Things always change, after votes and elections. But that doesn’t mean we get another go, at least not until the elected body has completed its term of office. I was unhappy that the Conservatives scraped through the last election. But can I get another one please? Can I change the result of the last one, because I don’t respect those who voted for it? Of course not. Like it or not, that is the system we live under.

At least it was supposed to be.

Time to go, I think

Brexit continues to dominate politics in the UK, and perhaps rightly so. Since the Leave vote won the referendum in 2016, so much stalling and pointless ‘negotiations’ have gone on, it seems to many of us that we will never leave. The date of the 29th of March, presumably ‘set in stone’ by Article 50, draws nearer, with no progress apparent in any of the much publicised ‘deals’.

Theresa May is looking increasingly desperate, even reaching out to opposition members of parliament for support, in the absence of any decent majority in her own party. Next week, she is odds-on to lose the vote over her ‘final deal’, in the House of Commons. That leaves just two options. A No-Deal ‘Hard’ Brexit, or her resignation, followed almost certainly by a General Election.

Labour is convinced that they could win a new election, though I’m not so sure. But one thing I am sure about is that we have a national leader who does not command the respect and confidence of the general public, and cannot rely on many of those on her own side.

It is time for this government, and its leader, to go.

Let’s face it, whatever replaces them is unlikely to be any worse.

(Fingers crossed…)

Gunboat Diplomacy

The BBC has just reported the arrival of a British warship in Ukraine. A government defence minister has been shown driving a Ukrainian navy patrol boat, and speaking to relatives of the sailors recently detained by the Russian navy. He has said that the presence of our warship is to send a ‘message’ to the Russian government, and to show British support for the Ukrainian position in this dispute. My response is simple. Why?

The turbulent history of this now-sovereign nation is the subject of record. Part of Russia until the 1917 revolution, they attempted to create an independent country outside of the control of the Soviet Union, and failed. It was broken up, with parts under the control of Poland, The Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia, and Romania. After the German invasion in WW2, many Ukrainians welcomed the occupying Nazis. They fought alongside them, acted as guards in concentration camps, and carried out recorded massacres of civilians, including the deaths of 100,000 Poles in Volhynia. Following the defeat of the Germans, some supporters remained active as ‘partisans’ until as late as 1950.

Eventually, Ukraine was granted the right to be a self-governing part of the Soviet Union, retaining its language, and becoming represented in the United nations. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Ukraine sought complete independence, which it achieved in 1991. Since 2000, politics in that country have become more focused on being part of Europe, and also featured a right-wing bias, with some people openly supporting and espousing ‘Nazi-style’ ideas and policies. In 2014, Russia annexed Crimea, supposedly due to the overwhelming support of the people in that region. This created an international incident that continues to this day, with both sides at loggerheads over historical claims to Crimea. There has been open warfare in the Donbass region, and ongoing incidents between the two countries, with the most recent being the seizure of two Ukrainian navy vessels by the Russians.

This is all very involved, and no doubt tragic for those involved. But it is not our business. It is not up to us to support a country with a dubious government, and a recent history of supporting Extreme Right ideals. No more is it our business to issue warnings or ‘messages’ to Russia, especially when we are in no position to ever back up those feeble threats. There was a time when the appearance of a British Gunboat on a foreign shore would signal an intent. That intent, rightly or wrongly, would have been backed up by the biggest navy in the world at the time, and a huge colonial war machine that was feared by every nation on Earth. But that time has gone, and has not existed since the 1950s. And if such things have to be used at all, there are many other places where it might have more effect, or be of more use. This cynical support of Ukraine is packed with ulterior motives, none of which are remotely to do with any real concern over the fate of some sailors, or the future of Crimea.

It is high time that Britain realised that the sun has long set on our former Empire. We have enough problems to deal with at home, instead of sabre-rattling to show support of a country that may not even deserve it. As a country, we need to get over ourselves, and face facts. It isn’t 1910 anymore, and someone in the Ministry of Defence needs to check the date on a calendar.

The End of Voting

I have always voted, ever since I was old enough to do so, aged eighteen. I voted in the General Elections, and always in the Local Council elections too. In most of the places I lived, and the one where I live now, my party of choice rarely if ever won, but I carried on voting anyway. If I lived somewhere where there was no candidate that I was enthusiastic about, I voted tactically, to try to reduce the majority of the party I liked the least. I never once failed to vote, not in the forty-seven years I had the opportunity.

When other people told me that they didn’t vote, or had never voted, I would pontificate on the history of the working people’s struggle to gain the vote, along with a mention of the bitter struggle of the Suffragettes, to get that same right for women. I reminded them that people died so that they had the right to vote. If after all that they were still determined not to bother, then I would tell them that I was ashamed of them.

Some people made the claim that it made no difference which party was in power, so that was why they didn’t vote. I was quick to remind them that The National Health system that they enjoyed had only been brought in because of a Labour Government. Had the Conservatives remained in power, it would never have happened. I might also add that laws pertaining to the working week, safety conditions, and rights to holidays and weekends off, were all brought in by Labour Governments. I would assert that it made a great difference which party was in power, especially in Local Councils, who control the distribution of money for things like care of the elderly, education budgets for schools and colleges, and the provision of social housing.

I was a ‘Voting Evangelist’. God forbid anyone in my hearing mentioned that they had no interest in voting.

Then came 2016, and The EU Referendum. I voted to leave the EU, as I have mentioned many times before. To my great surprise, the Leave side won. I spent the next day in quiet contemplation of the power of the ballot box, the will of the majority, and the triumph of a well-managed voting system. But I soon became uneasy. The losers on the Remain side started to make noises about refusing to accept the result. Court cases were brought, and lost, and many leading politicians openly spouted about the fact that they did not really accept the vote was ‘informed’, based on a real knowledge of the issue. In other words, the ‘Plebs’ had won, and they were too stupid to understand the consequences.

To make matters worse, we had a Prime Minister who had been firmly convinced we should stay in the EU, and she was now charged with taking us out. So the machinations began, behind closed doors in Brussels, or other European cities. Two years later, the so-called ‘best deal’ was presented, which amounts to us staying in the EU in all but our name on the paperwork. Mrs May went to Europe, and came back with their deal, already written down in a sealed envelope, presumably. Nobody likes or wants that deal, not even most of her own party. But it is being presented by her as the only deal on the table, and when she was told that it was not the deal the Leave voters wanted when they voted in the referendum, she may just as well have shrugged and said “So what?”, for all she cared.

So after a life time of voting, I can finally see that if I ever vote for something that does not suit those in power, it will be overturned. Not in a bombastic fashion that might actually cause disgruntled workers or revolutionaries to take to the streets, but in a superior, ‘We know better than you’ manner. Slyly showing us, with a knowing smile, that they will get their way, whatever the actual vote might have been.

That’s it then, I’m done with voting. Sorry to the Suffragettes, and everyone else that fought valiant struggles to get the vote for all adults over the age of eighteen. It might have been worth your trouble for a hundred years or so, but now it has become pointless, in this deceptive modern age.

Please feel free to turn in your graves.

A ‘No Deal’ Deal

Current mainstream opinion has it that everyone is no so tired of Brexit, that most people would just vote to stay in the EU, given the option again. I am not so sure about that, but I do appreciate how the constant bickering and endless reporting of ‘non-news’ about our departure has made Mr and Mrs Average sick and tired of the whole debacle.

Now Mrs May has come back with a deal that sounds as if it was dictated to her by the EU negotiators. As well as not really getting anything we asked for, we are told we will be be paying close to £60 BILLION for the privilege of not actually being allowed to leave on any of our own terms. I can remember this figure being closer to £15 billion back in 2016, so it seems inflation is worse than I thought.

And then there is Parliament. They are unlikely to vote to accept Mrs May’s (read the EU’s) deal, as nobody on either side of the argument thinks it has even the slightest merit. That leaves us with a leaving date, and a deal that is unacceptable to all parties, especially those of us that wanted to just leave with no negotiations in the first place. They say this could bring down the government, possibly forcing a leadership challenge for the Conservatives, perhaps even a snap General Election. Neither of those possibilities will solve anything, as a new prime minister, or a new party in power, would both still be facing the prospect of that ‘no-deal’ withdrawal next year.

The Hard Right still want a Hard Brexit. At the other end of the political spectrum, the Hard Left also want a Hard Brexit. Everyone in between just wants it all to go away, and to never hear the awful made-up word Brexit again, for as long as they live. Theresa May has broken her promises, and shown obvious cowardice in the face of the EU. (For EU, read France and Germany) She reminds me of one of those ‘gentlemen’ who pays a dominatrix to cane them on the bum, whilst saying “More please, Mistress”.

But I had an idea. This could all contribute to the resurgence of a long-standing British theatrical tradition, The Farce.
I will be starting work on my new play, ‘Brexit: Too many bedroom doors’ forthwith.