Betrayal, and beyond

I don’t get this idea that “we should not betray the majority who voted Leave”. Or the idea that ”we should just leave the Leave side to sort out the mess they have created”. We are all in this together, including the youngsters who overwhelmingly voted to Remain and will be still suffering the consequences when many of the elderly Leave voters have died.

A lot of betrayals have occurred. We were all betrayed by the Government, which held a referendum that hardly anyone wanted, in the pursuit of a struggle between right-wing factions and an openly racist minority party.

The Leave voters were betrayed by Cameron, who promised the Government would act immediately on a Leave vote, and then didn’t.

The Leave voters were betrayed by their own side, who made promises they never intended to keep, and that would be impossible to carry out anyway. That had no plan. And made the campaign overwhelmingly about immigration, with a unmissable racist theme.

And the Remain experts, the ones Leave said to ignore, were proved right.

Whatever is done now, there are unpleasant things going to happen. If we leave the EU, the UK will break up and England (outside London anyway) will suffer more economically than it does now – and as a result there will be disaffected Leave voters. If we don’t, we still have a massive problem with an emboldened extreme right and disaffected Leave voters.

But undoubtedly leaving the EU will be worst. Don’t forget that, when we negotiate with the EU, they have experienced negotiators – the ones that we have for the last forty years paid to negotiate on our behalf as part of the world’s strongest trading bloc – and we shall be represented on the political side by the same ignorant, incompetent and corrupt politicians who visited this disaster on us.

The referendum was not binding on the Government. It is time for Parliament to assert its sovereignty, behave like adults for once, debate the referendum and the reasons for the results, and then (hopefully) reject the result once and for all. There are very good reasons to do so.

Then the Government should begin without further ado to try to undo the damage it has done to whatever extent that is possible. To reestablish full cooperation with our European partners. To investigate the economic circumstances that led to protest votes against the political system. To create a voting system that allows people peacefully and fully to reflect their concerns through Parliament. To end the economically illiterate and disastrous policy of austerity.



Unintended consequences?

Charles P. Pierce:

The country was lied into a war by a raft of criminals, greedheads, and geopolitical fantasts. These latter were enabled by a cowardly political opposition and a largely supine elite press. Hans Blix was right. Paul Wolfowitz was wrong. Robert Fisk was right. David Frum was wrong. The McClatchy guys were right. The late Tim Russert was wrong. Eric Shinseki was right, and Anthony Zinni was right, and Joe Wilson was right, and George Packer, Michael O’Hanlon, and Richard Perle were all wrong. George H.W. Bush was right (in 1989) and his useless son was stupid and wrong. There is no absolution available to any of the people who helped the country down into this epic political and military disaster no matter how lachrymose their apologies or how slick their arguments.

George W. Bush should spend the rest of his days dogged by regiments of wounded veterans. Richard Cheney should be afflicted at all hours by the howls of widows and of mothers who have lost sons and daughters. Colin Powell — and his pal, MSNBC star Lawrence Wilkerson — should shut the hell up about how sorry they are and go off to a monastery somewhere to do penance for what they didn’t have the balls to try and stop. This catastrophe killed more actual people than it killed the careers of the people who planned it and cheered it on. We should all be ashamed. And we’re not.

Not to mention that the Afghanistan adventure, the Iraq war and the subsequent conflicts have spread islamic fundamentalism throughout the world. As a result of these wars, it has confidence and gained wings.

Big company uses law to suppress protest (no surprise in England)

This is called, in the US anyway, a Strategic Lawsuit against Public Participation. I call it ‘legal terrorism’ because the whole point of it (and the company does not necessarily have to have any chance of winning its case) is to deter people from speaking out through the threat of legal costs and the general disruption and anxiety of being involved in a lawsuit. This is especially significant in England because the cost of legal representation is so high, and the laws are so much on the side of the plaintiffs, that even the mainstream media give into lawsuits that have no merit, particularly libel cases. Some US states have provided legal channels to strike down SLAPPs as SLAPPs deter people from exercising their rights of free speech.

George Monbiot has more on this here, and also points out that the public can inflict unintended consequences on companies that do this.

60 years: time to grow up

Republic is holding a demonstration in London on 3 June. I can’t be there, but this article, my membership and my financial support will, I hope, add my voice to the campaign.

I’m a bit older than the reign of Queen Elizabeth II. I can vaguely remember items of the celebration: a celebratory steel tin of chocolates, a visit to the local cinema and seeing in the film the Queen on a horse. What I can’t remember – because that was also early in my life – is how I came to feel there was something seriously wrong about having a single family provide the head of state. Like all ideas, it developed over a time, and since I was at school I have been committed to the idea that we should all be eligible to stand and to vote for our head of state (and of course for the second chamber too), just as for the current representative parts of our government system.

The monarchy is a thoroughly bad form of government – not only because of the unsuitability of the apparent heir, a symptom of the severe mental and emotional damage that the position inflicts on members of the family involved, but also because it tops an entrenched pyramid of privilege, secrecy and exclusion that broadens down to the rest of us at the base.

Yes, I’ve heard all the arguments over the years, and never heard anything remotely convincing in favour of monarchy.

The monarch is non-political – of course she bloody well isn’t, she is part of the political system and it couldn’t be any other way, not to mention Charles spending his wasted life secretly telling experts what they should be doing (and they won’t get a gong – a recognition that they can imagine they are a small part in the pyramid of privilege – if they don’t).

Other countries have worse political systems – well of course many do, but if democracy means anything then it should mean the right of people to propose a better system for themselves. Myself, I am still in favour of a parliamentary democracy (with improvements) and a constitutionally limited head of state, not the US system that so many people think that republicans must be in favour of.

It’s a long tradition – no it isn’t, this dynasty is 19th century, based on lots of invented pomp and flummery, and its current longevity depends entirely on having a stable and mature democracy. Monarchy was always about relatives scheming, fighting and if necessary killing each other to get the throne, and if you wanted your heir to succeed you damn well had to protect him. Now we have the democracy, let’s make it a democracy through and through.

The tourists come for the monarchy – let’s face it, how many tourists have seen the Queen, or expect to? (For that matter, when did I? About the age of 8, perhaps.) When we have an elected head of state we shall still have our history, buildings and, like many a republic, we can still have ceremonies and Guardsmen. We can even have a theme park in Windsor.

We could have President [name your least favourite public figure here] – that is democracy, but then you can desist from voting for him or her, and campaign for someone better. The rather more important matter is that everyone apart from certain members of one family is excluded from the job of head of state, and on simple statistical grounds it is clear that those excluded people include very, very many who would be far better suited for the position. I’ll nominate some if given the chance.

The weakness of the arguments for retaining the monarchy is telling. The rest of us will grow up and be full citizens if we have the right to vote for the person who reigns or rules over us.

I am glad to see that many younger people are now recognising this, and are organising to campaign for a representative head of state.

The top of the slippery slope of woo-woo

Craig Murray, whose revelations on the sinister side of UK foreign policy I strongly commend to you, stands at the top of the slippery slope of “synchronicity”.

I find this worrying, because so much of what he says has the ring of truth because it is grounded in his own knowledge of diplomacy and diligent research, including through his contacts. Unlike most political journalism, which is based on speculation, ideology and wishful thinking.  A slide into woo-woo will inevitably devalue his work.

I have posted to his blog, rather cumbersomely:

I think the ‘order’ you are observing is the ‘availability illusion’.

We are involved – simply by default – in uncounted numbers of events, including all the people who pass us by in the course of a day, the things we see, hear and read, and so on.

Just by chance some of these things are going to be of more significance to us, in the light of our life histories, intentions and dreams. These are the things that we single out as coincidences, when in fact we experience countless coincidences every day, most of them meaningless to us.

To genuinely conclude that the ‘coincidences’ we experience are really significant, we should take into account all these background coincidences and the chances of them happening. That’s what science does.

But quacks, financial frauds, clairvoyants and politicians are well aware that we are prone to this availability illusion – one of the cognitive illusions that arise from the way our brains have evolved – and take full advantage of it.

Or, as EscalanteKid comments, rather more succinctly, on Craig’s post:

“the search after meaning is especially insidious because it always succeeds.”