Thursday, 30 June 2016

If Boris Had An Ounce Of Decency

If Boris Johnson had an ounce of decency in him he'd have fought tooth and nail for leadership of the Tory party. I understand there's an anyone but Boris movement in place and small wonder after all the lies and impossible promises. However, he created the mess, now he's been served up the perfect excuse as to why its not his fault.

He promised the impossible, now he should carry the can for it. He was already a liar, a traitor to his friends, a propagandist and an opportunist, he sowed discord in this country and beyond, and to all that we can now add the charge of cowardliness. Tarzan is right and if there's one thing you cannot call Heseltine it's cowardly.

Michel Sapin - A Breath Of Fresh Air

The French Finance Minister was interviewed on British TV last night. What a contrast with our sorry politicians. How dignified, how strange to see a politician politely and succinctly answer a direct question with a direct and common sense answer. No avoiding the question, no posturing.

Compare that with Sajid Javid's appalling display on Andrew Marr's show at the weekend. He avoided a straight answer every time, back pedalled and made excuses for the lies and disinformation given by the Remain team. His team.

By comparison Nicola Sturgeon, on the same programme, was surprisingly good. Mind you, she doesn't have to play games at present, her position and the Scottish one is pretty clear. They didn't fall for the lies and untenable promises of the Leave campaign and they don't want to pay the price just because we the English did. Quite right too.

Whilst we're on the subject of politicians being interviewed on television, Ewan Davies had a Boris supporter on Newsnight last night. Don't know who he was and don't really care; how anyone can support such an evil, untruthful campaign is beyond me. However Ewan Davies needs to come down a peg or two as well. If you're going to interview someone let them string two sentences together before you jump down their throat. There's a difference between tough interviewing and it being all about the interviewer. I turned off in disgust at both of them.

Stephen Crabb has joined the Conservative Party leadership contest for the next un-elected Prime Minister saying that people don't believe a word politicians say. That may prove to be the only thing he's right about. Both referendum campaigns played on people's emotions and fears, both of them. It's little wonder then when people get emotional, angry, sad and anxious. It's little wonder that all respect for politicians in general gets lost in the fog of lies and promises that can never, will never be fulfilled.

Nigel Farage is trying, on the 100th anniversary of the ghastly Battle Of the Somme, to tear down the great European push for unity, cooperation and advancement. His crowing to the European Parliament was reprehensible. There was just one thing that had a grain, just a grain, of sense at the back of it. He accused members of never having had a proper job. I don't know if that's true or not, in Europe. However, getting back to the concept of respect for politicians.

I for one was hugely impressed by Michel Sapin. We could use his kind here. One thing we don't need is politicians who come straight out of university, having studied only politics, where doubtless they get to see the terrible tactics which work and go straight into the political arena with virtually no life experience whatsoever to practice them. We laugh at a US President who's never travelled then elect twenty somethings who've never done a thing.

At least our young politicians are probably motivated to do some good in the world, even if they don't know how. It's puzzling that a private e-mail between a wife and a husband has become public. I don't know how that happened, but certainly Mrs Gove understands where the real power is in this country; Murdoch's papers and the Daily Mail. Her husband may come across as a polite and gentle man but the truth outs in the end, it's a career and it's about him not us.

Our politicians are a sorry bunch, especially the senior ones. I don't trust them and I don't respect them and frankly after this debacle I doubt I ever will. I'm no supporter of the Labour Party, yet neither do I rejoice in its disarray. The circumstances of it do support my case that British politicians are an arrogant self serving bunch however, on both sides of the house.

I agree that Corbyn is very unlikely to ever win a General Election and I think his role in the referendum was utterly pitiful. However, it's the grass roots members of the Labour Party who elected him and Labour Party MPs damn well ought to respect that. If Corbyn reflects what the party stands for then the MPs of that party, and especially those he honoured with a post in the Shadow Cabinet, have a duty to support him. 

Certainly Blair got power, but look what he did with it. If you stand for something stand up for it. There's nothing wrong with socialist principles, just their blinkered incompetence with the nation's finances. Which, barring the miracle of a Liberal resurgence leaves us with the evil, split and manipulative Conservative Party in power for the foreseeable.

If European politicians are generally more in the Sapin mould then that amplifies our mistake, because we've taken power away from European politicians, more democratically elected than ours, and given it to the Goves, the Johnsons, The Crabbs and the Javids.

Just to justify the democracy point I would let it be known, voice in the wilderness though I may be, that the European Parliament uses proportional representation, not first past the post and winner takes all and that its not just more democratic than the Commons but it might laugh at the Lords. The idea that un-elected civil servants run Europe is an urban myth and another damn lie.

With many vote leavers starting to realise that they will not see empty hospital waiting rooms, not now, not in one year, two years, five years, that immigration is unlikely to change in any significant way, that reciprocal health care and all those opportunities abroad are heading for the bin, that the young will have to live with the consequences as vote leavers die off in droves its time for a root and branch re-organisation of British politics and British media ownership. I'm not saying we shouldn't have a free press, but as the Gove's have recognised, too much power is in the hands of too few.

A referendum based on lies and false promises should not stand - it's not democracy in action.

Monday, 27 June 2016

The Message From The Electorate To The Politicians

As someone who blogs about political matters I'm probably a bit late responding to the EU referendum result. I delayed so as not to make a knee jerk reaction and frankly because I'm so very saddened about what has happened. I believe it is greatly to the detriment of Britain, but also to the detriment of Europe and hence the world.

The overwhelming message the British people have sent to their politicians is that the greater the lie, the more implausible the claims, the more outrageous the propaganda the more likely we are to vote for it. On my Facebook page I've already been accused of sour grapes, but truly it isn't that. I'm sad that those who voted for empty hospital waiting rooms won't get them, not now, not in five years, ten years, ever.

I'm sad that many of those who made a protest vote are now wondering what they've unleashed. The old cliche about being careful what you wish for has never been more true. I'm sad that people have been working for seventy years to take a patchwork of warring tribes in Western Europe and build a cohesive, friendly trading unit and that we've jeopardised all that. Nigel Farrage will be delighted if it implodes. He'll probably be happy if Scotland leaves the union too - he isn't much loved up there.

I would have been sad if Scotland had voted to leave last time; my father and grandfathers served shoulder to shoulder with Scots through two wars, but if the Scots want to vote to leave the UK now I would support them absolutely, the conditions of their relatiuonship with us have materially changed and their Remain vote in favour of Europe was far stronger and more emphatic than ours to leave.

Northern Ireland voted Remain too and Dominic Raab (Conservative Leave Campaign) said on television that politicians in the North have already said there will be no chance of Ireland uniting over this, or words to that effect I didn't record him. I wonder if he speaks for the terrorists too. I went to Northern Ireland on business during the euphemistically named 'Troubles' and it wasn't funny. If Ireland wants to unite and remain in Europe I'd understand that too.

I have less sympathy for the Welsh, who voted to leave and want England to make up their losses. They get huge grants from the EU for all sorts of good projects. They say the money should now come out of the three hundred and fifty million we'll save, but we won't save that, it was a lie, AND the economy will be weaker. They have truly shot themselves in the foot and if England subsidises the Welsh as a result then the English will resent it, if we don't the Welsh will resent it.

One of my friends who accused me of sour grapes on Facebook said he'd voted Leave to put the Great back into Britain, but first of all Britain has to be a United Kingdom and it's very far from that right now. Friends and families, regions and age groups are in conflict because Cameron thought he could use the people to heal a rift in his own party. The old have pulled the rug from under the young who overwhelmingly voted for European ideals and cooperation.

Obama once said that Cameron is a lightweight, how the Prime Minister has proven it.

I thought hard about the petition to run it all again and held off signing it until this morning. Had the boot been on the other foot I admit I would have objected to a re-run. Mind you expecting a narrow defeat Nigel Farrage had already suggested he'd want it run again if the result was close.

In the end my decision came down mostly to the lies and propaganda, which I believe should make the result null and void. People should have been told, and need to know how the EU really works. There is a very good online video by a University of Liverpool Lawschool professor  which explains it. A leaver I know said he didn't want to be ruled by unelected bureucrats from Brussels, but that too is a lie and an urban myth.

People don't know the truth. Access to the single market will cost us; if the EU says the three hundred and fifty million will now be four hundred million, but as non members you get nothing back, oh and by the way you have to accept the free movement of people too (just like Norway), then does anyone think Boris has the strength to stand up to that.

Yet immigration was the issue the xenophobic Leave campaign shouted about loudest, they cannot deliver, they simply can't.

I don't want politicians to think that lying on an industrial scale and making whopping false promises is the way to behave in order to win. Democracy is flawed enough already. Iain Duncan Smith tried to justify downright lying by saying it was a rigorous debate. To call him a weasel is to insult rodents, it wasn't robust, it was dishonest and false. He, Gove, Johnson, Raab, Farrage and their cronies have all been dishonest and false and we have shown them that that kind of behaviour pays off.

And so it was that I reluctantly signed the petition this morning and sent the following letter to my MP.

Dear Nick,

We met at your pre-election meetings in Stannington and elsewhere and I am a Liberal supporter. I am appalled by the recent referendum, especially by the lies, and the implausible promises on the one side and the complacency on the other.

Under normal conditions I would respect a referendum result, but given the lying, on an industrial scale and the damage to our standing in the world, our economy and much else besides I felt I had to sign the petition requesting another referendum.

People need to understand how Europe really works (no one told them), that a return to the good old days, which weren't actually so good, isn't going to happen and that Brexit claims are pure fantasy. The Leave Campaign official video showing a near empty hospital waiting room and happy smiling faces if we leave was propaganda worthy of the 1930s. It won't happen in one year, five years, ten years, ever.

In ten years it will be hard to find anyone who voted leave, half of them will be dead anyway, having pulled the rug out from under the young who are in fact the future.

For seventy years people have been trying to build a better Europe from the ashes of two world wars, to change a patchwork of warring nations into a cohesive, civilised, progressive, trading and prosperous whole. Of course it's not perfect, but for forty years we've been part of that effort too. Now lies, propaganda, stupidity, ignorance and bigotry threaten all of it. It also threatens the break up of our nation. Family is set against family and much more, because of lies.

As someone who chose a life in politics I hope you'll stand up and fight for what's right.
Malcolm Snook
That's all I can do. I campaigned for a joined up world and for people to understand the truth. Right now I feel like withdrawing from social contact here in the UK. I don't really think seventeen million people in the UK are racist, or bigots, or anything of that sort, but I do believe people have not thought about things deeply enough before voting, that they've been mislead by dishonest propaganda, that things can never be the way they were and that rose coloured spectacles distort.

When a man selling Spanish cherries on his market stall in Romford votes to leave Europe what hope is there?

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

This Golden Age

We're living in a golden age, but a lot of people don't seem to realise it. Seventy years of peace in western Europe, unheard of since the days of the Roman Empire and peace then was a relative term. Holidays abroad, fantastic choice of fresh produce in our supermarkets, there was still rationing when I was born.

We've got high employment despite immigration, high gdp, in part because of immigration. Most families have one car if not two, most people have a roof over their heads, there is a national health service, here and in many European countries, look on in envy America. There's even a safety net for the less fortunate, worker's rights and human rights for heavens sake.

I despise the politics of fear, but why are we risking all that we have with this stupid referendum? Largely because Cameron can't keep his own party in line and was sufficiently power hungry to promise a referendum in order to get the Eurosceptic vote and wipe out the moderates at the last election. And now he's doing an appalling job of trying to convince people to remain.

There's no point living in a golden age if you don't recognise the fact. There's always something to whinge about but lets try and recognise that the glass is actually three quarters full right now.

The day after 'New Labour' was elected the world didn't end and people who voted for the Blair Brown conspiracy were duly elated. After three terms, they may have felt differently, even if they blamed other people rather than admit the error.

During the Blair Brown years we had war in Iraq and Afghanistan, Gordon Brown wiped billions off other people's pensions and sold the nation's gold for a pittance, borrowing went through the roof, presumably making the hole that wasn't fixed while the sun shone and Blair introduced the tuition fees he said he would legislate against, leading to the demise of the largely innocent and largely pacifist Liberal party. It all ended in near bankruptcy and relative austerity.

If vote leave were to win on Thursday the world would not end on Friday, but just like the Blair Brown years, the price will come. Still, who needs holidays on the Cote D'Azur or the Amalfi coast, who needs sunshine, astonishing scenery and amazing cuisine? We're British, we can huddle together for warmth and eat fish and chips. Who needs imported goods, just eat vegetables when they're in season eh.

Who needs to retire to the sun after a lifetime of hard work, if someone else loses their job, well its worth the sacrifice for the sake of the tribe, if pensions suffer we'll get by, we're British, if everyone hates us we can all support Millwall.

However I'm not suggesting we vote remain out of fear, but because it's positive. We were once the sick man of Europe, lets not become the cynical man of Europe. The leave campaign stresses our lack of influence in Europe, but would you listen to someone who's always blackmailing you, do it our way or we'll storm off in a huff. That's how British politicians have behaved.

Voting to remain is a vote for our current golden age, it's a vote for cooperation and friendship, its a vote for a joined up world. Most right thinking people are not against foreign aid. If we help other nations prosper we can be friends and partners and trade with them for the good of all, why would we not want to help those closest to us?

What's good for Europe is good for the world, what's good for the world is good for us.

Of course there are problems with the great European experiment, but don't believe them when they say its undemocratic, don't believe all the scare stories from Johnson and Gove. Vote leave means a vote for chaos and likely devaluation of the pound, recession here and in Europe which in turn means recession in the world, not on Friday, but soon.

A vote to remain need not be based on fear it can be based on recognition of the fact that the glass really is three quarters full. If you're young, read some history and do it today. This is a golden age, enjoy it, revel in it, don't throw it away.

Malcolm Snook is published on Nook, Kobo and Amazon

Monday, 20 June 2016

A Final Appeal To Sanity!

With three days to go I don't really think the British people will prove daft enough to vote out of Europe, but I've been wrong before! So, if we do I'm already thinking of marketing I didn't vote for chaos T Shirts . Most of what the Brexit campaign says is about what we could do if we left, what we would do is very debatable. 

If we leave and there's chaos and worldwide recession, if people lose jobs, if pensions are threatened or cut, if there's a flood of new immigrants coming in before it's too late, if retirement to sunnier climes becomes impossible, if imported goods become horribly expensive and foreign travel too, if Brits get the cold shoulder abroad I hope none of those who voted to leave will whinge about it, make excuses, or blame other people.

Malcolm Snook is published at Nook, Kobo and Amazon 

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Jo Cox

I've hesitated to blog about the tragic murder of Jo Cox and have read some of what others have written. I'm on record as being very sceptical about politicians and I still am. However, Jo Cox was clearly in it for the right reasons. I believe she was one of the very best. It may be that most politicians enter politics to do good and that the system changes them, although how many start out in politics to serve the people and how many to serve themselves is an unknown.

By the way she lived her life, before and during her time in the political arena we can be certain Jo Cox cared about people, British and otherwise. My stance on the forthcoming referendum isn't just to do with Britain, it's to do with what's best for the world, so I identify with Jo Cox and her views on war and refugees.

It's exceptionally tragic to lose one of the good ones in this way. I believe she was a victim of mental illness, whatever the political views of her killer. No sane person kills over a difference of opinion. I'm sure more news will come out, but I don't expect to comment again personally. I grieve for her, her family and a world that is the poorer for her passing.

Malcolm Snook

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Political Immorality Yet Again

My scepticism about UK governments and politicians took another boost today, as if it needed it, when I heard how they are defrauding UK pensioners abroad, even world war two veterans. If you pay into something you should receive the benefits, wherever you happen to be at the time. However if you move to certain countries your pension may be frozen, no matter how much National Insurance you paid, over whatever period.

It doesn't apply to EC countries, so vote to stay in and wierdly it doesn't apply to the USA, but it does apply to Canada, Australia and many, many other countries. One former RAF flight sergeant who served in Burma and who is now 90 receives just £48 per week, if he were in the USA or England he would receive £119-30 a week. Don't marry a Canadian! He's £3,700 a year out of pocket and now he and his second wife both need medical care. The UK government should be utterly ashamed.

The most extreme case could be that of a lady who died this February at age £104, her pension was frozen at just £6-12 per week, enough by the time she died to buy about three loaves of bread! If you move to one of the unlucky countries your pension will be frozen at the level it was at when you retired, or when you moved abroad. There are more than one hundred of these seemingly random countries including English speaking Commonwealth nations like New Zealand.

Ethically speaking the frozen pensions policy is both morally bankrupt and reprehensible, but if the referendum vote goes the way of leave the trickle of returning ex pats could become a flood and that would cost the treasury dear. In addition returning retirees will likely need the health service more than the young and fit. Aside from voting to remain, the real answer is simple, give people who've paid into the system their due. It's the right thing to do OBVIOUSLY and for once you damn politicians the right thing might even be expedient too!

Malcolm Snook