Brexit Bull

”We just don’t know,” said Brexit Bull
”Our heads are with fantasy, already full.
Experts and facts to the back of the queue
We’re busy with wishing and making that do.
We’ve got ifs in derivatives; hedges in coulds
And a spitfiery spirit you can’t overlook.
We are pedlars in miracles and magic beans;
We spin rich over-egging and push mighty memes.
We add garnish and condiments, relish and dread
To our circus and clarion (bring your own bread).
We’re the Bulldogs of Blighty who know what we want:
Passports that honi soit qui à bordeaux pense.
We want rid of the regs that endorse workers’ rights
And to loosen the standards that dignify life.
We’ll trade anything, anywhere, any old how
And swear we’re putting Great back in Britain now
We’ll screw everything, everywhere, for everyone
And declare it is you in control of what comes.”


Campaign Leapfrog

A two world wars and one World Cup brigade
And an old boys who cry wolf network
Play crazy campaign leapfrog
And troops of twerking groupies meme
And the confused are busy getting lost
And trapped between, the horrified are keening
At the vaults that share a cheapness with its cost

Britain expects

To continue from yesterday’s ‘All for one and one for all..?

The Cameron, Miliband and Clegg trio rush to Scotland at the last minute, the subsequent intervention of Gordon Brown and the ensuing hasty vow has produced a veritable mess.

Those that say if Scotland has a devolved parliament, so should England, are right. I had expected that this would naturally happen anyway: if Scotland had voted ‘yes’ then we would have moved towards our own parliament by default; as Scotland has voted ‘no’ (this time) that we would get an English parliament by political and general public demand. Add to that the calls from Northern Ireland and Wales for more devolved powers and Westminster’s acceptance that this is reasonable, then an English parliament seems inevitable. In this light, the West Lothian question is finite and a bit of a false controversy being used as a distraction.

However, if the Scottish settlement does come first and, bearing in mind that the English, Welsh and Northern Irish positions are not going to be resolved particularly easily or quickly and, if the proposed constitutional convention is to take place with serious intent, the West Lothian question will continue to loom large for some time, yet, won’t it?

I understand Cameron’s intention/desire to sort England out in tandem with Scotland. I get that this complicates things and why Scotland should now suspect the predicted delaying tactics and a possible dilution of what she’s been promised. Perhaps she was promised too much. I’m not sure, largely because I don’t know what the rest of us are going to be promised in the counterbalance. And I understand why Labour is accused of panicking about the loss of constituency MPs and indeed, the chilling fear creeping into those of us who see and feel an urgent need to be rid of the Tories now coming under further threat. Nevertheless, however it ends up being achieved, English voters for English (only) laws is a democratic no-brainer in a United Kingdom composed of country-centric devolved governments.

Obviously, the West Lothian question suits Cameron and his party very well. Of course he is being a political opportunist. I would expect him to put his party’s interests first if he could and to shaft Labour – it’s his MO, after all and could be said to be his best shot at a second term in Government.

However, Miliband, although he can be accused of dithering for fear of his majority, (though whether the WL issue actually guarantees Labour’s loss is much contested and besides, if people want shot of the Tories, they could always get off their arses and vote) he is still correct to say that making isolated changes is not a good idea and that we have to first look at the whole picture to work out the implications to cohesion, fairness and democratic integrity.

The political expediency and the evident complexity involved in the constitutional and democratic reform of four countries are being revealed daily. Some politicians claim we cannot have a link between the Scottish deal and English-centric issues but, how can we not? We cannot afford to be bestowing privilege to one country over another any more than one region over another. And yes, that is shit for Scotland but have not the acts of arbitrary privilege and badly weighted power deals been major, long-term parts of our current social destruction? However, Scotland has been promised certain powers within a certain time and to break this vow, either by detail or timetable, is simply disastrous to issues of trust, irrespective of whether it’s fair or reasonable. What a bloody farce!

And now, Federalists and devolutionaries who advocate extra tiers of autonomous governance as the vehicle of greater people power are pushing their ‘solutions’ into the mix. Such ideas as they express are a vital part of a wider discussion but blithely adding them to the Scottish timetable is unhelpful. Either deal with the Scottish settlement separately or throw everything back into the mix but don’t conflate in selective half measures.

The three main party leaders and peripheral actors look to be stitching us all right up, not just Scotland. I’m sure that many politicos are approaching or think they are approaching this whole conundrum with good intent. Others, I’m just as sure, are merely relishing the opportunity to settle scores and create mischief. Whichever end of the spectrum our leaders and media started from, be it singular career, tribal or ‘national’ interests, they mostly appear either naive or wilfully ignorant of the number and correlation of constitutional and democratic implications and have defaulted to their own win-win over that of the Commons’ benefit.

Really, though: did anyone actually believe political promises made in panicked haste would not be messed about with or broken altogether? But what is Britain, now? It’s clearly not the once and for all settled argument that the establishment would have us believe it is. Is it just a geographical abbreviation, one big country, four separate countries joined in equal union, or four countries who should separate? To be honest, I reckon we could eventually adjust to any of those with broad public consent and that reaching a concord over the choice is a priority that should mark the direction of reform and empowerment. Uncomfortable, frustrating and daunting as that may be for many, it is the heart of a push that has finally come to shove under a dawn of rising realities.

All for one and one for all..?

“Forgive me my nonsense, as I also forgive the nonsense of those that think they talk sense.” ~ Robert Frost

Context: post the Scottish Independence Referendum. Given that we are on a shifting carpet and no one actually knows anything very definitive yet, no matter what they say, this is just an intuitive, rough response to the last few days:

Unionists, Independents and Federalists, eh?

Over Europe, everyone complains that currency union is self-evidently impossible without civic and political union, as was similarly stated over the recent Scottish Independence campaign. European technocrats are accused of wanting one primary government with devolved powers bestowed to each member state and most, bar the technocrats are against it due to issues such as sovereignty and the obvious economic disparities. To me, the US epitomises such devolution: where State law is constantly at odds with Federal law – where the tax system looks a competitive mess; where you can get an abortion easily in one region but not another; consume cannabis recreationally in some states but not others. You can’t seem to find decent democracy in either, not for love nor money. To me, the US and the EU are democratic jokes but it seems that some here, in the still-UK, are bent on ignoring their farcical inconsistencies.

There are cries that the centralised state has failed us. But is that really true or is it that the good things the centralised state has achieved and has the power and potential still to achieve, have, in fact, been consistently undermined by career politicians in their pursuit of domestic regional one-upmanship, reckless foreign policies and economic illiteracy, all of which insist, symbiotic as they are, on profit and growth, to the detriment of social prosperity, cohesion, respect for law and democratic engagement?

Decentralisation, devolution and localism: they sound lovely and freeing but they are rather nebulous concepts that mean different things to different people. In reluctant, ignorant, partisan hands, each pretty little concept could turn out to be as destructive and divisive as yesterday’s capitalism that became neoliberal, libertarian ideology. I like the phrase ‘think globally; act locally’ but it’s a poetic abstract that can mean anything from ecologically aware sourcing to selfish individualism.

You can’t eliminate bureaucracy with further concentric circles of bureaucracy. Furthermore, it’s like red-tape and regulations: the issue is not so much, or just the amount of it but rather, whether it is actually necessary, useful or beneficial in its purpose. We’ve been sold and outsourced over and over to private profiteers by consecutive regimes. Just look at who increasingly runs our public services and the over-dependence on Charity businesses. To me, these are the vehicles by which a central government absolves itself from responsibility, and accountability. I can’t help thinking that this post Scotland knee-jerk rush to fix everything with yet another ideological wheeze is more about their abdication than our civic empowerment; that it will morph into a sneaky backdoor concretising of neoliberal, libertarian dreams that ‘they’ can then say we demanded when we complained about the democratic deficits and lack of accountability. (Like the way we let them further ‘shrink the State’ every time we complain about paying tax.) The current postcode inequality potentially exacerbated – and by consent!

So, anyway, it’s not democratic reform or debate that bothers me – I’m excited about that – but rather the localising/decentralising direction that it’s being automatically assumed, not only as necessary for any reform to take but as though it were the panacea for democratic ills. Of that, I am sceptical, suspicious, even.

On a wider, deeper level I am all for the idea of an all-inclusive, UK-wide Constitutional Convention. Gods know we do need constitutional and democratic reforms! And we will need a common platform by which to gain good information and ideas and on which to build exploration and discussion. One of the lessons of Scotland is how important it is to engage with the arguments. A convention through which to access ideas on a UK-wide level is years overdue and I hope time is taken and that options are kept open long enough to sufficiently distinguish between mere ideological herding and genuinely practical suggestions.

I want we, the people, to be empowered and our civic leaders and institutions to be made to be accessible, responsible and accountable. Thing is: although we are justifiably frustrated – furious at how we’ve been wholly short-changed and are right to want more democratic power, I suspect that ultimately, most of us also just want to be left alone to get on with our lives as we see fit. What I, personally, want is a state which functions to provide infrastructure that makes it possible. I’m always banging on about how we, the People are the State but now I wonder: of which state will I be a part? Over which one will I have an experientially valid voice and which one or just how many of them will have power over me? Now I am torn: I know that top-down diktats both assist and constrain lesser authorities and that grass-roots participation is vital to reform but, being politically engaged at a local-local level, a City level, a regional level and a national level such as is claimed would truly empower me and sixty-plus million people, sounds like a frenzied full-time job with no guarantee. It’s hard enough keeping up with Westminster and County Councils and I keep up better than many I know outside of the ether. I’m not sure, from here, how many Russian dolls of power I’d want to or could do that with.

I think, though, that the coming dialogue and analyses over our entire situation and psyche are going to make a welcome mockery of all manner of Westminsteresque and general mainstream bull. The light that will be shed on the level of hypocrisy, cynicism and dissemblance is going to make us better educated as a collective citizenry and probably very angry. More than now. It will hopefully shine on everything from sovereignty to finance to trade treaties to war and defence to health to housing to inequality to the corruption of Authority. You name it. Ev-ry-thing.

And poor Scotland! What a mistake she has made! Give it a few months and her noes will be full of regrets and what ifs, if they are not already. The usual elite suspects have stitched us all up. No currency union for an independent Scotland but if England gets her own Parliament or whatever we arrive at and Wales and NI get further devolved power, might it not be a currency union anyway? How long before everyone is cross with Scotland for opening this can of worms? I am not, by the way but I can see what an uncertain period awaits us when one starts to really absorb the legal/practical complexities so I don’t expect that the emotional searching will be any less of an upheaval. It could get really messy and pretty high-octane from now on and we will all be tested hard, I think. I’m not afraid of a bit of chaos but, after watching Scotland, I am worried about the misinformation and frames of bias that we will be spun by those who, however much they say that we, the people, will be the power and the voice of change, will engineer to get an outcome that suits established order.

I started off, a year or so back, wanting Scotland to stay as part of the UK because of stuff like sentimentality, laziness at the thought of the difficult post-yes negotiations and the same strategic belief in strength in numbers that made me look favourably on Europe. But as the campaign advanced and I read wide and deep, I became more and more convinced and hopeful that she should grab her chance while she could; seize the opportunity to escape neoliberal entropy and create a new social-economic model (albeit I was imagining her with a public central bank and a new currency). That it would ultimately be better for her people and better for the rest of us than a load of unequally devolved powers. Now we are looking at how to make devolution fair and available to all, I wonder if there will be calls down the line from some that Scotland be forced to go independent, whether she wants to or not. I would understand this because really, either we are the United Kingdom as one ‘country’ with one central government (notwithstanding some powers that could/would be devolved to all countries/counties/regions/cities – whatever. Makes me tired, thinking about it) or we are all independent, ‘sovereign’ nations who just happen to share a lot of history, mostly by virtue of geographical proximity but who must learn to negotiate and co-operate with each other just as we have to do with the rest of the world.

The whole thing is enough to make a head spin and we’ve barely started! Oh, well, we’re on the roller coaster now. Better buckle up.

Independence for all!

What if we were to remember that we really are safer and stronger together? What if, instead of Scotland leaving the rest of us and, instead of at least half of England, in all directions on a compass, wishing it could move there, we were just to extricate ourselves – all our countries – from the commonly perceived and agreed cause: largely the hubris of the City, the Conservethemselves Party, half of Laborius and most of the Illiberal Undemocrats. And Yuckip, just for good measure.

What if we were to end their wrecking of our country/ies by sticking together and throwing them out properly? Westminster and the City could be partitioned – turned into an independent, sovereign state as befits their attitude, manner and blatant desire. We could build around them an agreed perimeter wall to designate their jurisdiction and cut our ties. The seat of regime acts as though it, alone, had sovereignty, monopoly and entitlement over moral and civil authority and economic aptitude so, let’s tell them where they can shove it. And that they can keep it, thanks. Independence for all!

Seeing as they’re so bent on lording it over everyone and everything, they could become something like the Vatican City State. The ‘In a State’, the ‘Fiat State’, the ‘Fat Cat City State’, say (just working titles) – with a different set of religious tenets: worship of and obedience to Profit, self-preservation, gluttony, hedonistic pilgrimage and no tithes. Similarly to the original, it could be supported financially by a variety of sources, including investments (read foreign/corporate), real estate income (mostly ditto) and donations from individuals (read lobbyists), dioceses (read Home Counties) and institutions (read corporations and think-tanks) and culturally supported by diplomatic missions (read jolly jaunts) and media outlets (read organ grinders and monkeys).

Yes, I know! Business as usual!

But not our business; not our responsibility; not our reputation; not our money, our honour, dignity and integrity; not our futures – our very lives. Not in our name.

The rest is but detail…

Cackle… 😉