The Politics of ...

The Politics of ...

Friday, 16 December 2016

The um... Kingdom of England (oh, and Wales)

Bloody current affairs... it's just so surreal at the moment it's difficult to ignore...

People who know me know that it is my intention to move to Scotland in 2017. It has been a longstanding ambition and the EU vote acted more as a kick up the arse than any actual reason to get out of 'little' England.

Not that Scotland is exempt from the EU vote, but because they simply seem to be a more tolerant society and that will, if nothing else, soften the coming blows. However, while chewing the political fat with a friend recently, we kind of came up with half a half-baked idea that I want to share with you before moving onto the more ... honest... nature of this blog.
  • Both Scotland and Northern Ireland voted overwhelmingly to stay in the EU.
  • Both Scotland and Northern Ireland have benefited more than anywhere else (apart from Cornwall) from EU money - these places wouldn't be so much better off without the EU's money and help.
Experts (pft, what do they know?) believe that to keep the right wing quiet and to ensure no Polish workers go to Ireland so they can nip over the border and start stealing British jobs, there has to be a hard border between the countries. An even harder border than existed during 'The Troubles' and some people believe this could single-handedly cause massive destabilisation in all of Ireland. A price that most of (this newly united) Northern Ireland do not want to pay - even less than wanting to leave their European benefactors.

Now, the idea of Northern Ireland campaigning for independence is not likely to happen, but the idea of Northern Ireland being independent from Westminster and autonomous, yet still part of the Commonwealth and a player in a more 'loose-knit' United Kingdom, might just float in Proddy strongholds.

But why stop there? How about an economic union with an independent Scotland and the Irish Republic, that would mean Northern Ireland, like Scotland could remain in the EU with almost as much sway as the old Britain headed by the English had and a lot more respect from the other nations because, well, quite simply, they're not English.

Of course, if Northern Ireland could remain part of the sovereignty but also as a semi-independent state it would negate the need for borders, however it might require closer checks when travelling from Northern Ireland to England and I can think of quite a few Scots who would love the idea of a hard border between England and Scotland. Hopefully not because there would be an influx of disgruntled English people wanting to escape the hell that is coming.

The reason I like this idea is because it allows sections of the British to remain part of what they, in the majority, believe in; would lessen the impact that Brexit-geddon will bring to many in England and Wales and would make these countries arguably greater than the Britain they'd leave, because there would be a kind of Gaelic unity that us English struggle to identify with (because it's culturally different, innit?).

The other reason I like this idea is because I've recently become a traitor to the cause. I no longer have any faith that the Labour Party or specifically Jeremy Corbyn can turn the fortunes of the party around, especially in the face of the growing right wing tide sweeping up even reasonable people in this country and the fact that basic left wing politics just doesn't appeal to a large percentage of a growing isolationist and intolerant society. The only way Labour can appeal to people who've left them or would normally vote for them is if they broke with some of their fundamental core beliefs and under Corbyn and propelled by Momentum that simply isn't going to happen.

I heard this rumour that the Northampton South MP, David Macintosh, would not be sacked by the Tories because they feared a bye-election. I also heard the Labour Party also didn't want a bye-election for exactly the same reason. That reason was because the Tories would probably increase their majority, despite all the corruption and scandal. This was Labour's reason as well - from up top. Now, before you start telling me how foolish I am, consider this - the Tories are actually quite comfortable with an ineffectual old man leading the toothless Reds because they can basically ride roughshod over most things they want to and there's bugger all opposition. Regain a seat currently held by arguably one of the most corrupt politicians of modern times with a greater majority, regardless of boundary changes, it is going to trigger more ructions among the people on the other side of the chamber and eventually if Labour's slide into oblivion becomes too obvious Jeremy will eventually either fall on his sword or another massively damaging leader election happens again, throwing up the possibility that someone who might change things - for the perceived good - might appear and disrupt everything.

I can't help but notice how little Labour appears to be doing about everything. Not even my social media is buzzing - hell, it's not even murmuring inaudibly, so the theory that Jeremy and his team were all over the internet, cutting out the press, seems to be more hope than hit. PMQs is still an hour of backslapping and obfuscation at best and lies and slander at worst and Corbyn could beat Treeza in a wrestling match, with rabid wolverines, and the press would still call it a draw with the Tories regaining the moral high ground even if it is of a subterranean nature.

He doesn't stand a chance. I don't care that Labour are going to try and rebrand him in the New Year, it's too little far too late. Even if he was given a fair platform and some objectivity from the media he'd still probably struggle because NOTHING IS HAPPENING and a lot of that nothing is affecting potential supporters. His message just might not appeal to more than a bunch of internet bubbles.

But, I wanted Corbyn politics to work because I fear for the entire socialist movement in England and that people like me might end up being labelled 'dissidents' or 'subversives' because we don't subscribe the common right wing beliefs, meaning that 'liberal' speech might even be suppressed, probably by those who would have posted it, for fear of reprisals from who-knows-where.

There has been talk recently of a Progressive Socialist Alliance of Centre-Left and Left wing parties - an idea that seems like it has been born out of one of the Tories key issues not to vote for Labour at the last election. In a Britain that is to become divorced from the rest of Europe there is more need for the countries within it to work together in the interests of 'the Kingdom'. The Tories do not speak for Scotland and only have versions of themselves in Northern Ireland. In Wales, despite a waning support for Labour, the Tories are still unpopular in many areas and in England there are socialist heartlands, and more importantly, areas of the country which would have 'socialist' MPs if the centre and left parties worked with each other to stop the rise of the right.

But for this to happen Labour would need to do a deal with other parties and as we saw from Richmond, they'd rather lose their deposit and credibility than be seen working with someone with ultimately the same goal as them.
Labour would need to sit down with the SNP and forge an alliance that would mean Labour gives up Scotland, but works in a democratic partnership with Scotland to allow SNP MPs to vote along side them for the greater good. The Tories suggested this would mean the downfall of the UK if that happened at the last election, for many keeping Scotland happy is now the key to keeping the United bit with the Kingdom part.

It would also mean working with Plaid Cymru, the Liberals and to a much lesser extent the DUP, to ensure that someone other than a right wing candidate wins. It doesn't take you long to work out, looking at 30 marginal seats won by the Tories at the last two elections you can see that had an alliance been in place and the Liberals endorsed a Labour candidate and didn't stand against them and vice versa, those 30 seats wouldn't have been won by a Tory. Yes, it's simplistic and general, but convince the public that it's the best way and fairest way forward for Britain and it might just work.

But Labour still retains illusions of grandeur and the divisions within the party run so deep the entire concept is anathema to them from the top to the lowliest backbencher, because it would mean some of them possibly losing seats or would rest control to a coalition of similarly ideological but deeply different bedfellows. The problem is Britain has clung to it's left, middle and centre model for so long that change is happening and it's leaving politicians behind. How else can you explain the popularity of UKIP amongst a certain demographic and one which UKIP is exploiting to the glee of the Tory party?

If nothing else, a progressive coalition of Labour, SNP, Liberal and Green would at least have similar hymn sheets and could stem the tide of anti-tolerance, bigotry and hate that is becoming more public, by making a government that is both prosperous and tolerant of difference and diversity.

Still, however crazy the political landscape has become in the last 12 months, something that might actually be of benefit to more people in this country than ever before would not get house room and it might take the Tories to achieve complete breakdown of the country's economic and social stability to bring about a change for the benefit of both the country and the many.

Monday, 5 December 2016

No Soft Option

Having recently discovered that facts are irrelevant, I don't see the point in banging on relentlessly about this, that or the other. Take the EU exit for instance - no one knows what is going to happen; very few people really believe that the UK is going to get a better deal and the hard reality is that the other 27 EU countries are going to force limitations on what we want. They weren't that ecstatic we wanted out after all...

The truth is if we're coming out of the EU it has to be a HARD one, realistically there is no soft option. It will cost too much money and pretty much leave us in the same situation we were in except without any voice. The hard option will also cost us but it will be front loaded - costs will rise, some goods will no longer be available or no longer at prices the average person can afford and no one really knows how it will affect unemployment - it could go down. One thing is certain, the people who voted to leave because they believed it would be the best thing will be hurt either economically or emotionally.

The thing is Treeza and co., are all too aware that regardless of how you spin it, her party, UKIP and the right wing press have forced her into believing that the EU referendum was actually about migration and if that isn't addressed, then regardless of what the 48% wanted, there will be factions within the country who will deal with immigration in their own 'unique' ways. It might happen even if we close our borders, but the reality, at this moment in time, is that it will cost us a lot of money whatever way we choose and people will still want to blame migrant workers and the EU for it. Honestly, if the Tory's can - 7 years on - still blame Labour for the country's ills (never addressing the fact that in those 7 years they've made it actually worse) and get away with it, then if you're foreign then you'll pretty much take the flak for every hike in inflation, rise in unemployment, redundancy or failure to obtain a job.

The sad thing is regardless of the truth people will always blame the easiest thing. Migrants, for instance, don't steal peoples jobs. I'd like a Brexiteer to explain to me how migrants steal jobs? There is obviously not identity theft going on, so are these migrants infiltrating factories, working harder and offering to work harder for much less money? Even if this was the case, it would not be them stealing jobs, it would be employers preventing the indigenous from getting these jobs by a mixture of fraud and bad practice. There is no other way of looking at it. If you hear someone say, 'bloody foreigners stole my job,' you need to ask them how exactly their job was stolen and whose fault it was, really?

How about the country is full, there's no more room... Well, it isn't. That is about as facile a comment as a bunch of people with no authority promising you - the people - that £350million will go to the NHS if we pull out of Europe. Yes, we have a rise in homelessness, but is that because of migrants? Are you stealing peoples houses? Moving in surreptitiously at night, moving out a British person's belongings and acquiring their house by some medieval EU law? No, the truth is the government has made life so difficult for genuine strugglers that they face a Christmas with little or nothing. Because of the way our renting system is now you'd be lucky to get a stable at an affordable price. More affordable houses need to be built and while the government looks to the house sales market to keep the economy at least marginally 'balanced' there's unlikely to be any nice cheap homes for any of the disenfranchised to move into.

Of course, we can say without fear of contradiction that migrants are responsible for the strain on public services. I mean, it was obviously E|U migrants who slashed the public sector budgets and they've obviously been forcing the government to not build new hospitals or schools, or make public transport better, because it makes perfect sense that EUs will come here and destroy our services so they can access them easier...

Blaming migrants for the woes of the world is just blind refusal to blame the government - of which many people voted for. If by some UKIP fluke of nature and all migrants who have moved here since 2000 were deported, would we see a vast improvement in our lives? Would the government invest all that lost tax revenue back into ailing services, or, would they more likely award fat contracts to private companies making 'consolidation' their main aim.

The blame for migrants and the way they are seen is mainly at the feet of the right wing press, who seem so intent on stirring up hate it would seem their only intention is to cause some kind of civil race war within the country, presumably so they can then sit on their high horse and say they told us so. The Tories have to take a lot of the blame - they have it in their power to end hostility to migrants almost immediately, by gagging their pit bulls in the press and showing the stats that prove the migrant crisis isn't a crisis at all, just something blown out of proportion by the Mail, which has a history of essentially being neo-Nazi.

Obviously, Treeza won't do something as calamitous as admitting their incompetence is the main reason for the lack of things, nor will she rein in her media allies, so we have a situation where racism, or at least xenophobia, is allowed to escalate to the point where there are twats openly being arseholes all over the country and using freedom of speech to perpetuate their hate, while failing to see the irony in being called out by the fair people who they themselves have repeatedly abused.

Recently, a friend of mine commented on the Guardian's CiF section lambasting trolls as being worthless and hopeless antagonists who must have sad lives if the only pleasure they get is out of being nasty in a comments section. His comment was 'moderated' and deleted, despite having no bad language in it, but possibly being disrespectful to the people who do nothing but be disrespectful. His follow up comment complaining that the Guardian seemed keen to delete a message that was essentially criticising the Guardian for having double standards was also deleted. On the same page there were several attacks on 'hand wringing liberals' that went unmoderated. When a newspaper as (and I use this term loosely) moderate as the Guardian starts censoring people complaining about the lack of censorship from hate groups then you have to start wondering where we're going as a race.

The parallels to the 1930s are there for all to see and it's much faster because of social media and the new and different ways we have of communicating with each other. It isn't just migrants facing daily abuse; Pinko-liberals are getting it too. The left wing is now as much a target for the papers as migrants and presumably because some left wingers are pro-EU and believe in the freedom of movement. How long before those who advocate this are considered enemies of the people?

So the hard truth is a hard Brexit. Yes, all of us Pinko-liberals who voted remain will suffer the consequences, but they'll be no different than those who voted Leave. This won't be a Tory party pandering to those who voted for them and ignoring those who will never vote for them, this will be a real true moment of 'we're all in it together - whether we like it or not'. Apart from the cost, there's the social implications of a soft option - this is a generalisation but one with some basis in fact; quite simply Leave voters are more likely to cause problems than Remain voters and as I keep saying Treeza doesn't want to call a GE for a number of reasons, both legal and because if people don't vote for Labour and want to vote out the Tories, who does that leave?

As much as I'd like to think there could be a second referendum, I'm also acutely aware that should that vote be 53-47 in favour of staying after all, then there would be much more of a fight from the 47% than there has been by the current 48% of remainers. The sad truth is Brexiteers want you to accept a result they would never have accepted had it been a mirror result.

I also discount the claim that only 28% of the actual population voted for Leave. 72% of the people who could vote voted and frankly we have absolutely no way of knowing if that 28% would have swayed it towards Remain. I met an awful lot of people who had made their minds up they weren't voting because they thought they'd already lost. I think the country voted for Brexit because being out of Europe was some rainbow-shitting unicorn to solve all of our woes and the Leave campaign did a fantastic job of making the Remain camp out to be a bunch of scaremongering liars.

Quite simply, as I jokingly said two years ago, we need to exit and quick and then sit back and watch everything fall apart. However, I no longer believe that people who voted Remain should then rub it into the faces of those who voted Leave, because wars have been started for less.

Look at the options: decide against the vote and go back to the EU and renegotiate our membership - which isn't going to happen, but even if it did we've caused far too much disruption to expect anything in return. Or leave, jump off the cliff, and face the consequences and see if we have politicians and businessmen with the guile and acumen to sort it out and make the best of what will undeniably be a bad lot - for a few years at least.

The soft option angers too many and that's where Treeza is a bit of a populist and has angered some of her own MPs by being a bit UKIP-lite, presumably based on the combined readership of the right wing press. Hard Brexit might end up being a Pyrrhic victory for the Tories because, let's be honest about this, they've not really shown any evidence that they're any better with an economy than Labour, in fact now that they're borrowing more money than ever before they'd be hard pressed to accuse Labour of doing the same, especially as Labour might have borrowed too much but there is some actual evidence to suggest it was spent on infrastructure rather than feathering Richard Branson's pension fund.