10th June 2017
The US may currently have a bit of a car crash style of Presidency and now the UK has the same for the newly elected government. The mess that David Cameron created in 2016 by giving the public a vote on whether or not to stay in the EU, has now been consolidated by a further mess created by his former Home Secretary. The biggest 'crime' is that neither events needed to happen. It's a case of politicians running so scared that they're prepared to put the public at risk in order to save their own skins. In the case of the Autocratic rulers of European Monarchies prior to 1918, they had absolute belief that their position could not be questioned. If they had any policies to govern, their blinkered and ineffective rule ultimately destroyed them. So governments do not need violent activists to enable the collapse of society, it's achieved by the arrogance and occasional stupidity of democratic governments.
Now over a hundred years later, time does not seem to have moved on; but the actions are of a democratic society where the public can make their own voice heard. Maybe politics should be taught in school with perhaps role playing classes. At least individual views could be sounded out before they become dangerous later on. There could be policies and consequences debated, which could be highly valuable for when some school children enter politics as adults. Kind of like War Games with model soldiers where no damage is done but strategies are evolved.
But two things have materialised out of this 2017 UK General Election. Far more young people have voted this time, which has resulted in the increased majority in some seats and a complete of switch of political direction in others. So a change is occurring and maybe apathy is under attack at last. This is just the beginning of the process and another election is needed to firm it out. The other thing is that the Union has been saved and there will be no break-up of the United Kingdom. The Scottish Nationalists pressed the idea of a second Scottish Independence Referendum so hard, that they alienated supporters. The SNP lost a third of its seats and even the politician who forced through the first Independence Referendum, lost his seat.
In the EU there is total bemusement as to how Theresa May could have got it so wrong. They still seem more interested in personal attacks and rubbishing the UK. History has been wiped off the schoolbooks by them and it's as if the UK had no involvement in its support in either continental wars. But the process to leave the EU has been officially started and somehow it has to be negotiated satisfactorily. There's been talk of a Hard Brexit whereby the UK just leaves without agreement, because Theresa May has said 'no deal is better than a bad deal'. Then there's Soft Brexit, which is that concessions are negotiated that enable a kind of paying club membership with no voting rights. If a Hard Brexit results, then it will be the EU leaders taking advantage of a wounded UK government.
But now ultimately the UK is governed from Northern Ireland, since their ten MPs are needed to support the UK government with a working majority. The Easter Rising of 1916 in Ireland eventually led to the separation of the Protestant Ulster and the southern Eire. Ulster has often been treated as a irritable child with violent tendencies. It may have calmed down in recent years and thus been sidelined, but now it's a case of the underdog being in charge. At least Scottish independence can be put on the back burner now, for the foreseeable future.
12th June 2017
Well as the chaotic political situation in the UK now, tries to settle down, the attack on the State Pension was probably a major contributory factor. There's something called a 'triple lock' whereby the pension is protected against inflationary pressures from various sources. The government was going to abandon this, but since the Prime Minister's power is now shot, that won't happen. All pensioners receive a one off £200 winter fuel payment around each November. The government wanted to abandon this as well, but will no longer have the power to do so.
The Labour Party did not gain enough seats to challenge the government to resign and all the political commentators persist in pointing this out. But really they didn't win because of the first-past-the-post system of winning a seat. That's all that can be said because in addition to some seats being gained by Labour, their majority increased substantially overall. They are now a government in waiting, which is what an official Opposition should be. Jeremy Corbyn has been continually trashed by his own MPs and everyone else. He had been seen as an improbable possible Prime Minister, but his campaign went so well with honest and direct public speeches, that this view has had to be re-examined. He can now attend interviews where he can extract apologies from the political commentators for dismissing his importance. His own MPs are lining up to eat humble pie and wonder if their dismissive comments in the past have now restricted any chance of a Shadow Cabinet post.
The only good thing to come from the election result is that Scotland will not be leaving the Union. The SNP pushed for a second referendum so hard that they lost support in Scotland and thus lost seats. They may still be the largest Party in Scotland, but their ideology has been attacked by their own citizens. In amongst all of this is Brexit and that too will be under review, not to abandon it but to have a softer approach. Theresa May's declaration that no deal was better than a bad deal, was interpreted as a hard Brexit. Whether or not she still insists that she intends to negotiate on this basis, there will be too much pressure against that style of negotiation. Although it requires twenty-seven countries to finalise any leaving agreement, it does no one any good to score points against the UK. But there may well be rather more give in both directions than was apparent prior to the election.
Theresa May is now a weak Prime Minister in charge of an unstable government propped up by a Northern Ireland party with similar but also fundamentally different ideology. You might say that the wolves are looking on waiting to pounce. It seems improbable that she can remain Prime Minister for the full next five year term, but attempting to unseat her now will cause more chaos. So no one in her Party wants to rock the boat for fear of them all falling out. There only needs to be six by-elections for the government to lose even the majority provide by the Northern Ireland Party. It's highly probable that any by-election will be won by Labour, or any other Opposition Party. Now that young people have finally realised that their voice can be heard, there's a new Socialist army waiting in the wings.
14th June 2017
One quality that practically all people need in life is resilience. Surviving the taunts and sometimes bullying at school, accepting the boss's decisions over your own at work, being in the super critical public eye who always think they're better and know more. This quality is never so needed as when you're a politician. A politician is given authority, not by the position in parliament, but by the people who voted him/her in.
So currently two politicians in particular are reviewing their position in the UK. One is Theresa May, whose belief that the electorate would provide her with a big majority in government, was as badly judged as David Cameron's belief in the outcome of the Brexit referendum last year. Both said things before each vote and yet ultimately abandoned their statements. David Cameron said he would continue, whatever, and he could have done; but as soon as the referendum result was announced he cut and run – right out of politics altogether.
Theresa May said that she was not going to call a snap election, nevertheless did so but with the backing of parliament. From having a slim but workable majority, she now has none and is propped up by a peripheral party whose policies no one agrees with. She is not a charismatic politician and her reluctance to campaign vociferously together with a bad manifesto, destroyed her position. But she still has to negotiate Brexit, although it will be far more scrutinised by everyone – in and out of her Party. She will have to take a more conciliatory stance than the hard view she had expressed.
On the opposite side the other key politician is Jeremy Corbin, the Leader of the Opposition. He had been chosen two years ago, by the Labour Party to lead it as a fresh face free from the Iraq War catastrophe of Tony Blair. In fact he was such a fresh face, although having been a sitting MP for thirty years, practically no one knew who he was. But they soon discovered that he was a true Socialist with left-wing views. This horrified the top Labour brass who then tried to unseat him as Leader. But he had gained support from the socialist electorate and the Party membership grew significantly. Emboldened by the Public, he defied all attempts by his Party's MPs – and there were many – to dismiss him. They tried to trash his views and even him as a person, but the Public remained loyal.
Right up to the actual Polling Day, his political colleagues feared the worst and waited to lose their seats. But his campaign had been straight and true, gaining wide support among rival voters and in particular the young. When it became clear that his approach had been the right one, all his detractors had to eat humble pie, because now he looks like a well supported Leader. His colleagues now wait to see if their trashing of him has damaged any furtherance of their careers. He is now just as capable of forming a minority government as Theresa May would be without the additional support of another party.
So Jeremy Corbin's resilience in fighting off the attacks from his own Party MPs and many political commentators has won through. He can sit smugly in any tv interview throwing back the personal attacks that they made in the first place. As for his existing and new Party MPs, well they now find themselves with new power, even if at the moment they can't oust Theresa May. But Theresa May is no longer is full charge of her political control. She is subject to many pressures from all sides and the wait is for when her government finally collapses – which may not be that far off. So her resilience has to take on a new strength that she herself has weakened.
24th July 2017
If Flanders and Swann had been alive today, they could probably have written a perfect satirical song about Brexit, taking the mickey out of both the UK and the EU. They would have done it in a very gentle but pointed way as they have taken the mickey out of the English with this song.
Ideology, bigotry and cultural misunderstanding are interfering with the Brexit negotiations on both sides at the moment. In an attempt not to lose face on either side, both the EU and the UK governments are finding it difficult to significantly compromise on anything reasonable. Accompanying all of this are politicians, organisations, corporate businesses, cultural and scientific institutions on both sides of Brexit, proffering their warnings against the catastrophe of an ideological outcome.
No one trusts the government – not even the members of it – and Theresa May has paid blood money to the Protestants in Northern Ireland to keep her government in power. The Labour Party meanwhile, is chomping at the bit just waiting for an opportunity to bring the government down and take its place. The Scottish government were delivered of the shock in the recent General Election, that it was not a forgone conclusion that the people of Scotland want to leave the Union. The leader of the Scottish Nationalist Party may claim that they are the largest party in Scotland, but they would likely lose another referendum.
But unlike most other countries, and some of those in the EU, the UK has a constitutional Monarchy. Oliver Cromwell may have thought that he had abolished the Monarchy for good in the mid-seventeenth century and made sure by beheading Charles I. But he went too far and as soon he was gone, the Monarchy was invited back – Charles II had been waiting in France for the call. Cromwell had put together an ordered standing army, which still exists today, but his politics were equally as blinkered as those of Charles I. However the absolute power of the Monarchy had been broken and the present constitutional arrangement has developed to this day. The government may only operate through the appointment of a Prime Minister by the Queen and all laws only become effective with the Queen's assent. But other than that the Monarchy is above politics.
Up to the middle of the twentieth century, Edward VII, then George V and George VI guided the monarchy through World Wars, an Abdication and the dismantling of the Empire. Since 1952, the Queen has guided the Monarchy through rapid and extensive technological change. She has understood the intrinsic value of the British Monarchy and dealt with the challenges. Now as she is in her nineties the effort of State visits abroad are often too demanding, so she has delegated the more strenuous ones to her children and grandchildren.
For some reason no sooner does a country evict its Monarchy, than later on they reminisce fondly about it. So when the UK wants to be represented abroad but separated away from politics, they send the Queen, or now her children. The Queen's personal values are strong and loyal, and she has managed to convey these to her children, despite the family problems some of them have had. While Brexit involves politics and ideology, the Monarchy can ride along untainted by all of this. Just to remind the EU that there is another view of Britain, the Duke (second in line) and Duchess of Cambridge were despatched on State visits to Poland and Germany last week. They visited a war-time concentration camp in Poland, then went onwards to the country which had committed the crime in the first place. But this was an international visit for the UK to say 'we love the EU really, but we just don't want to be told what to do'. To even reinforce the projected warmth, Prince George and Princess Charlotte shared the limelight and are now also ambassadors of goodwill.
17th August 2017
The Brexit negotiations are kind of continuing as kind of planned but slowly. Everyone keeps saying 'the clock is ticking', yet all they really seem to do is watch the clock and ignore the time that's passing. On both sides of the negotiating arguments there is more prejudice and self-importance – actually the greater amount from the EU – than a sensible pragmatic approach. It may well be that negotiations will carry on for the defined period with little give or take. Then the economic arguments will force a practical compromise through all the politics.
There are two fundamentals that both sides agree on but won't currently make progress to confirm because they both have different initial goals. One is that there should be no change to free movement between Eire and Northern Ireland. They are are two separate countries that will have an international border after Brexit. That is not currently the case with the UK still being a member of the EU – effectively there is no border. The UK, Eire and the EU Commission all agree that there should be no border restrictions, but none of them will state this officially. This is further complicated by the fact that twenty-six other countries have to agree to this, even though it has no effect on them.
The other is that EU citizens from EU countries living in the UK can remain with all the current benefits, and vice versa for UK citizens living on the EU continent. The fear here in the UK is that EU immigrants will bring their extended families over and use the benefits of the UK Welfare State without adequate contribution. The NHS is a fundamental corner stone of the UK Welfare State and it's free to everyone. There are many complaints about it and it is constantly under financial pressure, but it's socialist ideal is built-in to British society. No matter what political party is in power, they are tethered by the NHS.
The Brexit referendum was decided upon the effects of uncontrolled immigration. The economic arguments were rather submerged and only now are becoming clear. The point about uncontrolled immigration is the pressure it puts on a country's infrastructure. Housing, education, health service, social benefits all get stretched to the limits and politicians are often incapable of resolving these. They either ignore them or try to economise to the extreme, and blame a whole range of factors that have no connection at all. Politicians are generally more party bias as opposed to representing the needs of their constituents. Only in times of war are they forced to make decisions they would otherwise shy away from.
The UK government has suggested a situation of no customs restrictions at all and thus free trade overall. Border controls in checking traffic in and out – goods and private citizens – would be performed with modern technology. Of course this all goes against the EU's directives and thus cannot happen, but in an ideal world there's no reason why it can't work. In Star Trek The Next Generation, the directive was that any sentient being should be treated with equal respect and value, even though their cultures could be radically different. So that only happens in space, which is still generally based more on fiction, it doesn't happen on earth in the real world.