Do do re-run

“Let’s not re-run the referendum campaign” – Those that say this might have a vaguely reasonable point if a rational and more honest campaign had been run. The reason that arguments still need to be had is because they were not actually had at the appropriate time; because politicians and journalists did not know or understand the substance requiring consideration nor their various consequences, any better than voters. And because some simply did not care. But the electorate needed to know all manner of what questions to ask and precious few people ever asked them.

If you think about it, every plebiscite re-runs arguments. It’s part of the messy, ongoing nature of Democracy. Politicians do it all the time – and social media, too, now. Hell, people are re-running arguments from decades, even centuries ago. Whether or not they are helpful or even relevant, still. This one is.

I don’t particularly want to want another referendum, either. Certainly not several (Scotland and Ireland.. Wales..?) You know I always thought the first EU ref was reckless and unnecessary and that the result was swung by a misdirected hissy fit. But, seriously, Brexit: what the heck did you expect? That Remain would cave and go quietly into catastrophic but preventable repercussions?

And it is foolish and weak to cry voter fatigue when, short of Parliament coming to its senses and riskily circumventing the People’s much-fêted Will, another public vote is the best available solution to settling something properly. Anyway, it serves ‘us’ right for not doing it properly, in the first place. We could have had a double majority. Cameron said no. We could have had a minimum differential. Cameron said no. We could have let 16/17ers vote on their futures. Cameron said no.

That cross in the box: it was just the start. Now comes the hard bit. A healthy democracy requires ongoing engagement and active participation. What a sorry lot we are if voters can’t take some responsibility for the “will of the people” and the downside of political choices and show keenness for a better understanding and a sharper attention to detail. After years of voters protesting that politicians don’t listen, it is surreal to imagine people preferring to make sure they don’t.

If all things now have a Brexity lens and if Brexit suddenly looks and sounds more complicated than sold, well, too bad. It always was going to be and if clarifying “the will of the people” sounds like too much effort, too threatening, too divisive or patience-testing, especially after having actively supplied the need, then, tough shit. Can’t willingly open cans of worms and then complain about the tangled fallout because “people are tired of elections”. Another tedious plebiscite is surely more sensible than simply rushing into a permanent mistake.

And it has to be a referendum rather than a general election, not just because the choice needs to be clear of party promises but because the latter option gives us no viable, electorally palatable alternative. No matter the demonstrable tunnel-vision and incompetence of the Tories, Labour offers a demonstrably incompetent ideologue. Both have bought into Brexit. Faced with yet another least-worst-option choice, the Conservatives would likely get another mandate. And then they will be Brexit on Viagra.

[PS: If any anti-Brexit moderates of the Conservative and Labour parties should conclude that their party is a democratic dud and decide to stand up for the best interests of a United Kingdom by giving their numbers to the Lib Dem benches – and voters a real choice, thereby – I reckon I could live with that.]

Corbyn isn’t working for Labour

The two main political parties are in meltdown and I feel like we’re just visiting different chapters of ‘The Magic Faraway Tree’. Each day I wonder which crazy land we are going to visit. Britain is on a full-on chaos trip and we must take care to not encourage or advance it. That does not mean, however that all radical and courageous options should be refuted or neglected: there is still useful chaos to be had.

First, I’m not a labour member. I’m just an ordinary voter who wants a credible, competent, pro-EU, not-Tory government. I welcomed Corbyn’s election and the opportunity to give oxygen to anti-TINA economics and a platform for socio-economic justice. I recognised and called out the sabotaging acts of his party’s right-wing and Media’s eagerness to scrutinise and sensationalise everything except his ideas. I voiced apprehension that he would be chewed up and spat out in our political climate. I mused over why he stuck with Labour and didn’t join the Green Party. And I wondered and worried about whether Jeremy would have the capacity, temperament and level of sophistication required to be a credible, long-term prospect. I wrote to those effects, several times, on this site and on social media. I did give him a chance. Chances, actually. In the end, the face palms I performed were over his own doing or failure to do and I saw that a glimmer of timely semi-eloquence, here and there, his constant need to maintain a difficult relationship with journalism, his inability to manage and command authority over his MPs and his preference for preaching to echo chambers was just not going to cut it.

But it was never actually about Jeremy Corbyn, for me; it was only ever about promoting the socio-economic narrative into mainstream discourse with a hope that Labour would recognise its mislaid purpose again.

It doesn’t mean I don’t sincerely wish that things were different. But they are not and now, the EU referendum result has produced special circumstances. Undoubtedly, Corbyn could have done more to better put the remain case for Labour but, how much he is responsible for the result is best left for in-party squabbles and psephologists: I was struggling to see him as a viable party leader, let alone a prime minister, way before that. We are in extraordinary times and now have a sudden opportunity for a General Election that may void Brexit, altogether and avert an utter catastrophe. I need a credible Labour Party to vote for but it has a shed load of work to do and time is of the essence.

The referendum campaign was a farce of outrageous proportions and yet Corbyn’s first public response, after the result was declared, was to announce that he’d respect the democratic will of the electorate. This is supposed to be how it works, except, this was a democratic will to irreversibly leave the EU, expressed by an indecently narrow majority, based on a campaign of incompetence, deception and outright lies. And there he was, the next day, calling for the government to get going on our exit negotiations immediately. This does not square with a self-declared Remainer who could be seizing the opportunity to void the referendum he has reduced to ‘a rejection of the status quo’. The rejection of the status quo is why people chose him, in the first place and he would put it in jeopardy.

At PMQs, Cameron’s evident concern for what he, himself, has recklessly unleashed was clear in his emotionally sincere and frustrated plea, to Corbyn of “for Heaven’s sake man, go!”. On previous days, Cameron’s response to Corbyn’s clumsy, accusatory validation of protest as motivation, I would have put down to his typical Flashman expedience. But Cameron knows, whatever he insists, publicly, that the referendum was a disaster and he was suggesting that Corbyn’s intransigence is now just adding to what stands in the way of a return to effective political sense. That sense being to hold a disreputable Conservative government to account, play smart, limit the damage and rescue Britain – as was already clear in his answers to the House, on Monday, when he quietly and quite cleverly hung Brexit out to dry.

Even if he could win a general election, it seems Corbyn would take us out of the EU, irrespective of current events, options and changing mood. The waves of resignation are from across Labour’s spectrum. They are not just from the opportunists who were always looking for this chance: many are from those who support his politics and have tried hard to promote them and yet his voting base focuses on conspiracy theories. There might well be a bit of two-birds-one-stone truth in them but there are also many, way better reasons for this ‘coup’ than Chilcot opportunism and/or deflection and ‘Red Tory’ framing.

Equally, I can’t blame people for being anxious at the idea of losing Corbyn, since no replacement can necessarily be guaranteed not to swing back to the right. What do his most ardent supporters want most, though? That Jeremy stay as a leader of a cult and lose the general election or perhaps win and be so Brexity or authoritatively hamstrung that the crises continue with more years squandered? Do he and his supporters not realise that the movement towards social justice would come to nothing if he cannot be taken seriously, once PM or if he lets the Tory/UKIP hands of the deregulating-market-is-God, bread and circus (bring your own bread) Brexiteers have their way? The first best chance for the country to achieve his socio-economic vision is by not leaving the EU and, right now, his lovely socio-economic visions count for little if he can’t even acknowledge that Brexit and increasingly he, himself, risks them all.

He says, rightly, that the Government is in disarray. He acknowledges that two thirds of his own party’s voters chose ‘remain’. And yet he only listens to his followers. And yet he wants to start exit plans now. It really doesn’t compute. Jeremy claims he is not resigning because he must represent his own voting base and, of course he must and I respect that. Nevertheless, he has to weigh the blind faith of his fans against the best interests of the country’s whole electorate.

If the Labour leadership election sees Jeremy Corbyn ousted, what I want to know, now, is: 1) will the candidate(s) who stands against Corbyn be actively concerned with trying to void the EU referendum and 2) can the Labour Party give reassurance that they have shifted left and that his replacement now shares his anti-neoliberal, pro social justice mindset. If the answer to either is no, then Labour dooms us all, anyway.

The binary choice is upon us

I did not need this referendum on the European Union. Not at this time. Not over the issues of immigration, the economy and red tape and not even over sovereignty and democracy, now that I’ve informed myself sufficiently.

I wouldn’t vote to join the EU now, of course, not least because of the compulsory Schengen and Euro elements but that is not the choice we are making. I do understand the desire in trying to regain absolute self-determination but it’s quite unrealistic. The only way I’d entertain really going it alone – enough to vote for it – is if I truly thought there was no alternative for our well-being or perhaps if the rest of the world were to do it, too. Albeit there’s been a rise in pro-secessionist regions, I don’t see all the world’s parts simply turning away from collective cooperation. I can’t see them deliberately choosing a self-ghettoising course and making a success of it. Such a disconnecting seems a bit late in the day to be even possible; like not being able to unknow something.

I think being forced into making such a simplistic in/out choice over a jumble of complexities is an unnecessary and reckless distraction. I resent it. It’s having to pre-empt and then try to control not only what Britain and the European Union will look like in the future but the entire globe. We’re a small world, irrevocably intertwined and we are all dancing on a rapidly shifting carpet. There are conflicts at every turn, vital resource scarcity, environmental challenges and great shifts in individual and collective consciousness. No one knows how anything will turn out, beyond that nothing happens in a vacuum and that there will be multi-dimensional consequences.

I know that Remain has played some aspects rather badly – many of my alignments have been coincidental and conditional and barely have my reasons been represented. But that Leave campaign: well, it’s all a bit much, really, isn’t it? To the Right we’ve got authoritarian Gove with his disdain for experts, IDS with his bulging hubris and record of contempt for the disabled and working poor and Boris who doesn’t give a fig for facts or accountability. Then we’ve got the likes of Gisela Stuart and Kate Hoey on the Left, who naively believe that everything will be alright because they are putting their trust in people voting sensibly and the possibility of a Labour government. And bridging the sides of Brexit, the hollow keystone that is Farage, with his shamelessly irresponsible propaganda and populist nostalgia. He started this reckless, ill-informed, pseudo-patriotic nonsense that has turned the country against itself.

Nearly every mess that Brexit wants to “take back control” over has been created by the socio-economic ignorance and injustice of our very own governments, not immigrants and the EU. They are our governments who have undermined good will, public services and vital infrastructure. And, just because a load of people are repeatedly proclaiming “take back control” doesn’t mean any of it will be given to the electorate, or that it even will be used in our interests. Just because they are promising to spend (the same) money on everyone’s pet projects while upholding, nay, increasing current funding levels in key services, doesn’t mean that they will be able to or always want to. Social justice? Simply look at the last few years.

Of course the EU and the Euro zone are both in need of reform. The Euro zone is in a sorry state but that’s because the same relentless, neoliberal, false economy nonsense has been meted out there as here and exacerbated by its currency union. But we’re not in the Euro. And we are not in Schengen. We have vetoes and protections; we have trading clout. We’re not even attached by land, except by way of the two Irelands on another island. No one in the EU is arguing against reform and neither are their minds solely and unanimously fixed on “ever closer union” as the solution. For Leave to say it is not reformable is disingenuous. Have our MPs ever seriously and earnestly tried to lead a proper, EU-wide campaign for reform of its institutions, structures and processes? I’ve witnessed decades of them mostly carping from the side or flapping over relative mundanities. We could easily make a much more effective fuss about what we want and decisions we don’t like. We could even just refuse to comply when our interests are compromised. What would happen? A court fine? A meeting to plan a meeting to talk about sanctioning us? We could leave at the drop of a hat if we thought we were in actual danger. Despite effort, I can’t find a risk in being in the EU that Brexit’s champions would properly solve. And anyway, if a credible risk does ever present, enough to invoke a Treaty mechanism or to warrant immediate escape, then, THEN a referendum might be justified – if not already rendered moot.

Given that we appear not to have enough actors with the experience and capacity, let alone the integrity and wisdom required, what confidence can we have in their ability to untangle the political, diplomatic, legal and technical knots involved in leaving? All that while simultaneously trying to create new deals and relationships? While simultaneously managing the day-to-running of a country? And an impatient electorate’s understandable frustration and much incited but unrealistic expectations? Personally, I can’t afford another lost decade, especially after the last six years which have seen enough time, money and opportunity wasted.

Demanding people make an unnecessary, ill-informed choice, based on neurotic sections of the Press and the hyperbole of political fools and charlatans, likely undermines our already fragile democracy. The BBC should have commissioned an Open University series that explained the EU’s structure and processes and broadcast them on BBC1 at peak viewing time. That would have cut through a great deal of rubbish and provided a commonly known foundation for much better questioning. What we’ve had, instead, are historical rhymes and speculation, non-issues and appeals to baser instincts, little-challenged opinion-by-rote and facts either given erratically and too late to make an impact or flimsy find-them-yourself signposting.

But it’s too late, now: the binary choice is upon us and I have to hope that the turnout is high and that the percentage of whichever side wins is great enough to be considered definitive, otherwise the nasty divisiveness that we have already endured in our communities; the tawdriness that has diminished our social fabric and reputation: they will be mere prologue.

What is amusing, perhaps, is that, regardless of which side prominent people declare for, they can vote the opposite, once at the polling station. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Boris Johnson stepped into the booth on Thursday and voted ‘Remain’ once he’d got his little pencil out in private. I shall vote to remain. I want to wrest control from Brexit. I, too, want my country back.

Post-mortem

Post-truth
Post-expert
Post-nuance
Post-fact
Post-mortem
Post-route map
Post-context
Post-democrat
Post-trust
Post-logic
Post-expat
Post-welcome mat
Post-satire
Post-hoc
Post-optics
Post-thermostat

Tory Story

That time a minority of voters misplaced
their faith and saw chaos cross the line
to screw the country over – again

when the Cons went long
and the People went short
and few could walk a mile
in their own shoes,
never mind another’s

when the mother of party ideology
gripped the land to a snapping
cracking austerity’s whip

when reward was rationed by
the fashioning of division,
superstition and deservedness
and everything was weaponised

nuance and empathy nosedived
as all media took
and hooked the bait
and shaped a hollow prize

People forming enemy lines
behind there is no alternative and
every
single
thing disliked
is a lie

or was it the messenger..?

Hark! Fear and Favour by and buy
the power and will of undermining;
they whose goal on any other day
is to give it away, now chiming
”Take back control!”
with flesh-wounded pride that dreams
a never-setting sun’s return, whining
“we want our country back”
and wagging the body politic
with unpalatable joy and toy facts

Cor blimey high and mighty
bulldog Blighty save us
from the cuts you made
with promises on premises
“we just don’t know”
and a finite pot of money
Britain never wholly gave

Reason was rationed by
the fashioning of derision,
definition and false consciousness
and everything was scrutinised

But “they added it up and
added a bit more
and created something that’s daft”

drilled down into reality and gasped
and laughed and sighed for
foreign cheese and geezers
cars and nurses, wine and visas versus
NEETs and teachers
bankers, builders and baristas
bluntly played

the double blade
that Con men hold to their mirroring throats
as nasty fills the showboat to its brim
and every futile, flimsy, fragmentary whim
is a chicken coming home – again

“Envy”? That’s just nasty.

Hey, Cons,

You are obviously having some trouble understanding the people you govern; that ‘one nation” that you claim to represent. Now, I know, you don’t really give a shit about me, being as I didn’t and wouldn’t vote for you but you like to pretend that you do so I’m going to pretend that this little post will make any difference beyond its cathartic value.

The anger and frustration you are witnessing and feigning hurt feelings over, is due to the consistent gaps, in most matters, between your arrogant, clichéd, repetitive rhetoric and what you actually do and don’t do.

The tax fiasco you preside over is of your making. You are the law makers. You have had six years to draw a clear line between what is legal and what isn’t. You want to imagine that we conflate legitimate government schemes with tax evasion but it is you who keep citing aggressive avoidance as though it were not still evasion and you who use this obfuscation as an excuse to procrastinate and hinder, in order to protect a grotesque power structure. That is the wrong that David Cameron does. Just because you desperately need for us to be stupid does not mean that we are nor that you should treat us so.

This is NOT about ‘envy’; it is not about dead cat tax returns. It’s not about what you inherited or how wealthy you are. Reasonable people don’t care nearly as much as you seem to want them to. What they care about is the power that people have and how they use it, so stop insulting us with your narrow, simplistic, patronising ideas about why the People are so angry. You’re not even close.

The anger is about you trampling all over our natural and righteous desire for social justice. It’s the result of six years of enduring your relentlessly wilful socio-economic ignorance, your divisive modus operandi, your high-horse moralising and your piss-taking lip service. This anger hasn’t just happened over the last few days: it has been there and growing since the first year of your lot’s term as a coalition.

It’s about your neoliberal ideology that depends, entirely, on taking liberties at the expense of others. It’s about your unending support for gluttonous crony industry. It’s about how you think that you, alone, own OUR country because you think you are the only ones entitled, capable and worthy. You really are not. Your group mind is Britain’s nemesis.

We do not have a problem with “wealth creators” – we are your wealth creators, for gods’ sakes. And we are not the “enemies of aspiration”. We are the victims of your I’m alright Jack selfishness and gluttony. We aspire, given half a chance. We want secure, comfortable homes, livable incomes, full bellies, pensions; disposable income for, you know: savings and pleasure; we want better for our children; we want a dignified old age… Basic stuff, really and you don’t even try to get that right. No: you’re too busy aspiring to further your own good fortunes and lording it over us with your unethical and unsustainable let them eat austerity nonsense.

Anyone experiencing – even just observing – the record of your governance, cannot fail to see how you have undermined, reduced and impoverished the People and the country. You are the “low achievers”. Look at the state of our NHS, Education, public sector morale, the welfare scapegoats, the referenda, to name but a few. You sell us out and sell us short. Everywhere I look, you have created an almighty mess. You are wasting our chances and our time. Who on earth would envy you?

There are shifts in public consciousness that are, at last, reaching a critical mass. Connections are finally being made between the state we are in and your petty, demigod governance. We don’t need your nasty party’s “compassion“, we don’t deserve your contempt and we don’t need a government that doesn’t believe in its own citizens. What we need is a government with actual integrity.

This is our country, too. And we are millions.

Now go away.

Immeasurably fixed

He was panicked and embarrassed:
his us and them policies
had caught up with his privileged stock
and he found the process painful;
unfathomable.
His shares bled,
drip by drop;
immeasurably fixed
to quake the patron’s Rock,
transparent of his tricks.
And, still,
there, from the debris of the aftershocks,
came arrogant shticks with interlocking bricks,
to repair his crumbling, patriarchal edifice.