Saturday, 1 February 2020

Rejoin is the last, best hope of unionism

The man who brought us Brexit, and is now the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, keeps on telling us he plans to keep the country together.

It is somewhat of a reach to suggest the rather hard (let's call it "medium rare") Brexit he is going for now is compatible with the continuation of our Union.

In 2014 Better Together ran a campaign to keep Scotland in the Union which featured continued EU membership as one of the benefits of voting "No" in that year's independence referendum.

Not only does that make it rather awkward to suggest Scotland shouldn't now re-run that referendum (the entire constitutional basis has, after all, changed) it also seems likely that the Better Together campaign considered this a useful policy in winning over the wavering undecided voters to their side.

Scotland and Northern Ireland both voted to remain in the EU. Northern Ireland will be in a different customs area to Great Britain come Brexit. Scotland's latest polling suggests support of independence outweighs support for the Union and the nationalists are making EU membership a massive issue around which to build momentum for their referendum.

So it really does seem quite outrageous to think you can swivel from Brexiting to keeping the Union together.

Meanwhile a number of English Brexiteers (polling is... lacking) would rather happily see the back of Scotland (leave it a few days for the EU/Scotland love-in to abate then search "bye Scotland" on Twitter for example).

And so it seems clear that unionists, those who value the United Kingdom and who consider themselves British, need to try to find a way to keep our country together. Rejoining the EU is that way.

There's a caveat here: I don't think we will rejoin the EU anytime soon. The point is though that, as a unionist, I see that as the only plan that works. If done quickly enough it will take the wing out of the growing nationalist movements in Scotland and Northern Ireland and possibly swing some voters back to supporting the Union.

This is so unlikely as to be delusional. I'm not here to try to suggest the impossible is possible even though I think the impossible is the only solution.
However rejoin, as a long term goal, is the unionist "insurance plan". If Scotland and Northern Ireland leave the Union it seems almost certain both will end up, relatively quickly, in the EU in some way. If we are to keep our "family of nations" close together we can't do that unless we too are in the EU. We wouldn't be one sovereign nation any more. Yet we'd still be "Better Together" with the structure of the wider European Union. So this unionist, credentials available throughout the many posts on this blog, won't give up on rejoin. No matter how unlikely a goal it is. No matter how distant a goal it is. It'll be worth the fight.

Friday, 31 January 2020

A Sense Of Loss

We lost, that goes without saying (though the victors will keep on saying it of course), so it is reasonable today to have a sense of loss. 

However, it goes much deeper for some of us. Those of us who embraced the EU as part of our identity really do lose something tonight. And it is okay to feel sad about it. Everyone wants those of us feeling a sense of loss to feel better. The Brexiteers tell us that nothing changes (well that's right, not until next year) and EU citizenship wasn't a real thing anyway so can't conceive of why we're sad. Those who aren't all that bothered don't get why we're all that bothered. Meh, they say, it is but a nothing. 

For those of us for whom an ever closer Union was the goal, for whom a shared future within the EU was the plan, this is the end of the dream. Life, politics and culture will move on. Maybe one day we might end up in the EU again. However many of us will be too old to enjoy it. 

So you know what... it is fine to feel sad, fine to feel a loss. Even if the coming brave new future sees an agreement with the EU that gives us all the same rights we have today... it still won't mean that the future some of us wanted is gone. 

I tried to explain it someone confused as to why I felt this sense of loss and I said, "If the United Kingdom split tomorrow and you found yourself no longer officially British living in whatever the new country would be, how would you feel?". 

The lights will still turn on. People will still go to work. The trains will still run. That doesn't mean, emotionally, things haven't changed. 

East Germany. Yugoslavia. It isn't unusual for people to loss the citizenship they valued and have to come to terms with that. 

Tomorrow is another day. There's always a new horror to take our minds off the last. Today, though, today you feel however you like. 

Wednesday, 11 September 2019

Do You REALLY Support The Monarchy?

Over the last two weeks I've been on a bit of a journey. As Dear Constant Readers will know, I've always been a royalist (the main reason for that is laid out here). However, as Her Majesty has been brought into political events by our Prime Minister-Gone-Rogue, I've come to the conclusion she doesn't have the capacity to defend us against political events and we need our head of state to be the backstop (sorry) to our system to ensure that, in the worst case scenario, we have someone able to say "No more!".

Anyway... today's ruling by the Court of Session that Boris Johnson may have misled Her Majesty as to the reasons why he wanted to prorogue Parliament (the case heads to the Supreme Court next week) leaves in stark relief the fact that this country's supposed loyalty to the monarchy is barely at lip service level.

Look at any social media and you'll find Brexiteers. They are up in arms about the decision. Some of the crazier types are calling for "us" to "ditch Scotland". Just think about it for a second. Her Majesty is currently at her Balmoral residence in Scotland. She has a fairly well-known love for Scotland. She swore an oath to serve as monarch for the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. If you truly loved the Queen, would you ever say such words? I think not.

And, when push comes to shove, any suggestion that Her Majesty has been lied to should send waves of revulsion and anger through any true royalist. They'd want to get to the bottom of it and would certainly treat anyone accused of such a thing with a reasonable amount of suspicion. Look, however, at social media and you'll find plenty of people who'd describe themselves as patriots lining up to declare their wholehearted support to Boris Johnson in this matter.

It seems very, very clear that no matter what the polls might say about public support for Her Majesty, it isn't very deep support and pretty much any other political desire (it may be Brexit here but it could be anything) will trump loyalty to her.

The proof will be in the political polls. If support for the Conservatives doesn't drop significantly over the coming week, then there will be your proof that nobody really, not deep in their hearts, cares for the monarchy any more.

Don't, of course, get me started on Nigel Farage. I've still not forgiven him for rating Putin more highly than Her Majesty as a world leader. He probably didn't even think about her when deciding on that which, again, underlines that these "patriots" aren't all that patriotic!

Sunday, 31 March 2019

What Do We Want? Representatives That Represent Us! #PRNow

Brexit is an absolute mess. However, this won't be a post demanding any particular solution to that now grave crisis. It is a post dedicated to what is clearly, after the last 3 years, a pressing need to help make our political culture healthier and more responsive.

The paralysis in Parliament right now comes not just because no one has an idea of the way forward. It is also because attempting to balance the, sometimes contradictory, beliefs of different important groups within each party means there's no way to make a decision that pleases anyone. A compromise might cause a split in your party or bring down your Government.

These parties, filled with their warring interest groups, still don't manage to represent the electorate. Votes are wasted as an MP could easily be elected with less than 40% of the vote (i.e. 60% of those turning out to vote, let alone of the electorate as a whole, voted AGAINST them and they still won). Governments can get large majorities and do all sorts of crazy things (like introducing an ill-conceived referendum without considering what needed to be done if a particular side won) despite the majority of people in this country having voted for someone else.

MPs stand on manifestos they don't believe in. Deals are done behind closed doors with very little understanding of what might have been traded to win support for whatever legislation or policy was up for debate.

What we need is proportional representation. We need to ensure more votes matter. We need to ensure MPs can stand on manifestos they actually believe in. We need to break up the not-fit-for-purpose "umbrella" parties and get parties that actually reflect the diverse opinions of our electorate. We need political parties that will know they won't win a majority and be upfront with the electorate about what they will and what they won't compromise on so we all know what we are getting into before the trouble starts.

So sign the petition calling for a fairer voting system. Use your anger righteously and lets finally start digging this country out of the big hole it has gotten itself into.

Monday, 19 February 2018

Good Sense and Balance (from a Chippendale)

Not to demean Chippendales and other sexy dancers but... when one is seeking wisdom then they aren't at the top of most people's list (whether that's right or not is a totally different thing).

Yet the most sensible, balance and decent comments I've seen on the continued rise of the New Puritans has come, from all places, an interview with a Chippendales performer in Las Vegas.

I am wondering how he feels about recent workplace developments: Formula 1's banning of the "grid girls". Or the darts "walk on girls". What about boxing's "ring girls" in Vegas?  
"It's complicated," he acknowledges. "Because if any one of those girls was proud to do that, proud to be there, proud of their body - enjoying the money, thought it was easy, and were there 100% voluntarily then it's hard to argue against it.  
"That said, with all these stories coming out, things have been wrong for so long that we might need to overcorrect for a while before we find the middle ground.

"As a whole, females have been pushed back or objectified so many times, so often, that things that personify the old guard might have to drop off for a while."
This is something that's better than anything I've read anywhere else. Do I agree with it totally? No. I'm an individualist and dislike any idea of having to "overcorrect" and undermine individual liberty to pay reparations for something I've not done.

However it is voices like his that are required if we're to put an end to a ridiculous culture war where those of us who believe in free sexual expression are caught in the crossfire.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

How I Rid My Life Of Politics And Feel Better For It

I've had an interest in political affairs for 20 years. I've found it intellectually stimulating, fascinating and useful. But I've also found in confrontational, puritanical and divisive.

Now that it seems clear my brand of politics, support for individual liberty, internationalism, free trade and support for the vulnerable where needed, is absolutely dead in this country all the nice parts of an interest in political affairs are gone. So I've taken the decision to move on...

And I've felt a lot better. No longer do I bother much with checking the news. I'm off Twitter. Debate is a thing of the past. I'm interacting with sane people about other things. I'm slowly finding happiness in my other interests.

My life from now on will be the life of gay things, geeky things, happy things and things that keep me as far away as possible from the crazies involved in politics.

Onwards to greener pastures... 

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Well That Was The Result That Was. #GE2017

We don't need any more post-election analysis. This is not the post-election analysis you were looking for. These are just my own feelings on what happened.

May has been awful pretty much from day one of her premiership. Her lack of judgement is only slightly worse than her love of meaningless phrases. She likes to talk about unifying the country but has made NO effort to do so. She talk(ed)s of "Strong and Stable Government" just after calling an election that risks total uncertainty before the Brexit negotiations.

Over the last few days that lack of judgement has become obvious even to many True Believing Tories. Her election trouble was not inevitable (forgetting for a moment the election itself was absolutely unnecessary). If she'd compromised on her Brexit message (yes the referendum was won by Leave but the result was close, throw the Remainers a bone!) and truly united the nation. If she'd thought through the need for a positive message at election time ("Only I can save the country" works when you're the challenger, not when you represent the 7 year incumbent party). If she'd actually explained ANYTHING she planned to do after an increased majority was given.

Some still deceive themselves (one of her outgoing advisors still thinks she is a unifying Prime Minister!) but most accept she misread the mood of the nation.

However she didn't misread the mood of the right-wing electorate. Among all this fuss about her failures many seem to be missing the sheer number of people who did vote for her. Her problem was Labour also had a huge number vote for them. After the Tories destroyed the Lib Dems in 2015, the progressive vote wasn't as split as it used to be and with the Brexit message former Lib Dem voters who supported that nice Mr Cameron aren't likely to stick with the UKIP-courting Tories of 2017. Tory strategy of defeat the Lib Dems was a thought about only short-term without thinking that it might not be the best idea long-term.

And Labour. A few seats up from their 2010 result when they went into Opposition. The glory of this result is more to do with expectation management than a stunning victory. A check mate of a Tory majority. Now if Labour can keep their voters, and wait out the disasters that seem inevitable under the current Tory leadership and subsequent drop in Tory support, they could win their own landslide at the next election. But that is a big ask. Whether they could do better with a less left-wing, non-terrorist supporting leader is academic. Corbyn did better than expected. Big whoop.

Speaking of low expectations... didn't the Lib Dems do well? Sure we lost the greatest Parliamentarian of this century so far and vote share. Sure we failed to gain back second place status in some seats we were previously in contention for. Sure our campaign barely registered nationally. Sure our leader often failed to convince he really meant things. But 50% seat increase! Big whoop.

Speaking of failures... the SNP. :)

May has enough seats to try to be a minority Government. There isn't any other viable option. Alas she's decided to go for broke and is looking to get into bed with the DUP for an overall majority of... 2.

A coalition of chaos with terrorist supporters and bigots? Well, you can't say May didn't see this coming.