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The Defiance of the People

The caffeine desire was strong in me having had a late night at a Peoples Vote event in Chester.  We walked through Lime Street Station heading for the nearest cafe that would satisfy my coffee void but it took us a long time to get anywhere that morning.  Dressed in our Peoples Votes T Shirts, carrying banners and flags and stickers, the people of Liverpool looked at us and wanted to talk to us that day. A group of Italian students and their teacher took photos of us and with us. The teacher explained to the teenagers that we didn’t want to leave the European Union.  We got a beautiful cheer from them. 

People of all ages, both sexes, different accents, wished us well and begged us for the vibrant Bollocks to Brexit stickers which encapsulate so perfectly the strong emotion that most of us feel when we think of how our European Citizenship is being taken away from us against our will – this I believe is at the heart of virtually every campaigner, every so-called citizen of nowhere. An elderly English couple stopped us for stickers which they wore with glee and wanted to chat about their feelings.  A wonderful couple full of warmth and intelligence.  They were baffled and angry at government and opposition alike.  Brexit was insane they said.  The people had been lied to, the people are still being lied to. 


I heard stories that day from families who marched because they were filled with doubt about their future status.  With EU27 spouses what would happen? Why were they being treated as the whipping boys for British discontent with issues which were all in the purview of domestic Governments to fix?  This is of course an inconvenient truth for politicians and none will address this question.  The government’s own investigation into the impact of immigration recently has clearly debunked the myths that were trotted out during the EU referendum.  The pernicious lies about immigration and about Freedom of Movement have gone on for years.  A steady flow of headlines filled with hate and prejudice on the shelves of newspaper stands day after day spreading their toxic damage, spilling over in recent years onto our social media timelines and of course deliberately used on Facebook to trigger people into voting leave.   

Other people walked because of their continuing anger and worry that Brexit is a shambles which is damaging the country and damaging everybody’s lives. They see the pathetic farce that passes for government negotiations and see clearly that the Emperor is stark bollock naked.   

Others have businesses and jobs which depend on the Single Market and simply have no idea if they will be able to continue with their lives as they know them after Brexit day.  Politicians do not have their jobs at risk on Brexit day.  Can the rest of us all say exactly the same? Really, are we sure about that? 

Overwhelmingly the mood I saw on Sunday was defiance.  It was a word that popped in my head as people came to speak to us and stayed with me all day. It was Defiance with a smile on it’s Face.  We marched and chanted as loud as we could with sweet, beautiful defiance.  


We saw it in the faces of the passers by who came up and spoke to us or just begged for stickers.  Liverpool was a sea of Bollocks to Brexit stickers on Sunday.  We got a couple of hecklers along the route and in the street, but I would say 90% of the people we came across that day were either with us already or extremely interested in what we had to say.  The Defiance of the People on Sunday was a beautiful peaceful openhearted but nevertheless deeply entrenched defiance.  It takes a very deep well of belief to make thousands of ordinary British citizens give up their Sunday to walk through a city and shout and chant and wave banners.   People are seeing the shambles, the broken promises, the loss of British influence in the world, hearing the sound of jobs dripping away, thinking about the bonkers technical notices preparing us for no deal and they are saying very clearly STOP, WAIT, WE WANT TO LOOK AGAIN, WE WANT TO THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU ARE BRINGING TO US.  

A warning to Labour and Conservatives alike, you have a massive fight on your hands.  You can either accept that we have a right to examine the consequences of any final Brexit proposition and have a say on that with an option to remain or you can subject this country you claim to love so much to years of marginal governments and the wrath of the voters when they discover we are right and the Brexit unicorns, whether they are blue or red, are simply a figment of the imagination of ambitious self-serving political players.

If this chimes with you come and be DEFIANT with us on the 20th October and tell London, the Government and Opposition that we will not be quietened and we demand a Peoples Vote.

The Defiance of the People will win the day. 



#peoplesvote #finalsayforall.

@redalphababe

Face up to the Truth about Freedom of Movement.

Those of you who voted Leave because of immigration I have news for you.  Everything we have been saying to you for more than 2 years about immigration is correct.  Ask the Migration Advisory Committee who have brought some inconvenient facts out into the open.  They were assigned the job of designing an immigration system outside EU membership.  In so doing they made a thorough examination of the impact of EU immigration in the areas of concern.  I have laid those out below point by point in a handy table for you to cut out and keep.   
In short, if you saw the Breaking Point Poster revealed by the leave campaign and Nigel Farage and when its clear and unsavoury message sat in your head, burning the fire of resentment and righteousness inside you, making you look at the foreigners around you with new suspicion or as a group of people who are taking the proverbial, well I am sorry to tell you once again the poster was wrong.  You are still wrong if you believe that immigration or FOM has a single thing to do with any of the things that made you unhappy.  You are still wrong if you think throwing away your (and everybody else’s) EU citizenship and your rights to FOM will make any of these things better.   
If you are fed up of static or low wages, or expensive housing or big queues in the doctor’s surgery, or the lack of growth in the economy, well stop worrying about where your neighbours were born and start looking at our government, who makes the policies which help to address every single one of these things.   You will not be any better off as if by magic on Brexit day – whatever the kind of Brexit foisted on you.  All you will have achieved is the creation of  upset and hostility towards a group of people who have just lived their lives, just like you.  Going to work, paying their taxes, looking after their children, loving their neighbours, running their businesses, looking after old people, looking after sick people, supporting the environment, offsetting the impact of our ageing population on services.     
So now we have this “FOM has damaged us” nonsense debunked by the Governments own findings, can we have a proper conversation about our EU membership please and the genuine benefits of being EU members?  Can HM Opposition finally stop upholding these immigration myths at every twist and turn?  Can we now properly assess the real and full consequences of the outcome of government’s Brexit policy on ALL OUR LIVES PLEASE.
Time for a #peoplesvote with an option to remain.
@redalphababe
IMPACT
REPORT COMMENT
Employment
Little or none
“we found that migrants have no or little impact on the overall employment and unemployment outcomes of the UK born workforce” 
Wages
Little or none
“migration is not a major determinate of the wages of UK born workers. We found some evidence suggesting that lower-skilled workers face a negative impact while higher-skilled workers benefit, however the magnitude of the impacts are generally small.”
Self-Employment
No Meaningful evidence
“We do not conclude what, if any, impact immigration has had on the economic prospects of the self-employed but do present some descriptive statistics taken from Self-Assessment and National Insurance Number registration datasets. These show that self-employed EEA nationals have lower declared profits than UK nationals on average, likely reflecting differences in the type and duration of work undertaken”
Productivity
Positive Probably
“the studies we commissioned point towards immigration having a positive impact on productivity, but the results are subject to significant uncertainty.”
Innovation
Positive
“high-skilled immigrants make a positive contribution to the levels of innovation in the receiving country”.  Innovation is hugely important to an economy like our because this is what drives new industries, technologies and skilled jobs.
Training
Positive
“no evidence that migration has had a negative impact on the training of the  UK-born workforce. Moreover, there is some evidence to suggest that skilled migrants have a positive impact on the quantity of training available to the UK-born workforce. Any potential impact on the quality of training provided is unknown”
Services Prices
Downward pressure
“We found some evidence that migration, particularly from New Member States (NMS) and non-EEA, has reduced prices of personal services”
House Prices
Upward Pressure
“Our analysis suggests that migration has increased house prices. The impacts of migration on house prices cannot, however, be seen in isolation from other government policies. The evidence points towards a higher impact of migration in areas with more restrictive planning policies in which it is harder for the housing stock to increase in line with demand”
Contribution to public purse
Positive
“Our commissioned research found that EEA migrants pay more in taxes than they receive in benefits.”
Health and Social Care
Positive
“contribute much more to the health service and the provision of social care in financial resources and through work than they consume in services.”
Education
Positive
“no evidence that migration has reduced parental choice in schools or the educational attainment of UK-born children. On average, children with English as an additional language outperform native English speakers.”
Social Housing
None to slightly negative
“Given there is little building of new social housing this is inevitably at the expense of other potential tenants.”
Community – crime
No impact
“migration does not impact crime “
Community – well being
Varies – no real evidence
” no evidence that migration has reduced the average level of subjective well-being in the UK.”

A Letter to Pariliament

Dear Sirs
In a recent letter to Lord Adonis, Jacob Rees Mogg said, ‘I do not believe there should be any special terms for EU migrants,”.  This really is a scandalous position to take and demonstrates the underlying lack of care in the position of the European Research Group – a party within a party who are currently attempting to be the tail wagging the dog. 
EU27 citizens in many cases have been here for decades. My family came to the UK in 1971 when I was 3.  Although I have a British passport (I chose to take one in 2005) I have 2 older brothers who have not.  One lives in the UK, educated here through his teen years has always worked and paid his tax here and has an English wife and son.  My other brother also went to school here and worked most of his working life and paid tax here.  A few years ago, he moved to Spain to follow a work opportunity.  He has an English wife and a grown-up English son here who has just married.   In a post Brexit world, it would seem there is a big question mark as to whether he would have the choice to come back and live in the UK to be close to his family should he want to do that on retirement for example.  Questions are also raised regarding pension rights for the many years he worked in the UK
All the decisions our family have made over the years were in the context of our EU citizenship which made the different fragments of our identities come together to make sense.  You can replicate those decisions 1000s of times up and down the country with even more complex problems and family compositions.   What Brexit is doing is putting unnecessary barriers right in the middle of family life, it is an egregious interference in our lives by government and for no benefit – in fact it is likely to damage the British economy.  I do not believe for a second the vast majority of people who voted leave did so in the knowledge that families would be damaged in this way.  Whilst government has attempted to use the insecurity of our #5 million (EU27 citizens here and Brits in the EU most of him were disenfranchised), HM opposition has been sadly quiet on the plight of the 5 million and the uncertainties thrown at them and I would have wished to see more opposition to the abominable way Brexit has disrupted and will continue to disrupt their lives.  Anybody doubting the uncertainty hanging over the 5 million and their mistrust of government agenda should look carefully at the stories which emerge every day around families caught in in the Home Office’s hostile environment
I would also draw attention to the plight of SME’s.  I run a small business.  We employ 12 people.  3 of those jobs were created on growth on the back of being able to sell across the EU with relative ease and lack of regulation and complexity at a time when growth in our British markets became flat.  This aspect of our business continues to grow.  It seems that we do not even know how we will be affected or what preparations we are supposed to make. The government tells us to prepare for no deal but frankly there are thousands of companies across the country who do not have the resources to be able to game the potential scenarios and it is preposterous to expect us to do so.  In short Brexit has put business especially SMEs in an impossible situation and jobs will ultimately be lost across the country – not just the big companies but small companies. 

In 2016 we did not know what leaving the EU meant, it was an emotional response to a complicated question.  Nothing about Brexit which has unfolded in the last 2 years makes sense, no benefits have emerged, “sunny uplands” have become “it won’t be the end of the world” and it really is time that parliament acknowledged as one voice that given the severe outcomes facing us,  we must be allowed the opportunity to air and examine all the real consequences of the Government’s propositions on our lives in a thorough public discussion.  We need a final public vote with an option to remain.

@redalphababe

Pride comes before a fall

The current relationship between the UK and the EU27

Think Carly Simon for the tune

You were partner in our EU project
But you acted like you were always on top
You wore your hat of red white and blue
Your tie in an Oxford Knot
You had one eye on the mirror
And watched yourself gavotte
And the world dreamed that they’d be your partner
They’d be your partner, and

You’re so vain
You probably think this song is about you
You’re so vain,
I’ll bet you think this song is about you
Don’t you?
Don’t you?

So we worked together for these long years
And we developed all the rules
You said we made a pretty team
But your press treated us like fools.
Now you’re throwing away the things you love
And one of them is sense.
You have new dreams, but they’re clouds in your coffee
Clouds in your coffee

You’re so vain
You probably think this song is about you
You’re so vain, you’re so vain
I’ll bet…

@redalphababe

RALLYING CALL FOR #FBPE

RALLYING CALL FOR #FBPE
This is a thread for my fellow Remainers in the #fbpe movement.  There were some threads yesterday which have caused upset and anger in our community and a shaking of people’s confidence.  Well I awoke his morning with these thoughts on my mind and wanted to get them down on paper.

We have the privilege of having some excellent specialists in their fields fighting by our side, I thank each and every one of them.  But it is by THEIR SIDE.  They know the technocratic stuff and understand the legalities of treaties and trade deals. But all of that on it’s own is not what will get us a peoples vote and our personal opinions, worldview and knowledge and experience should hold equal weight when considering our own positions.

I am no specialist in a technical field, I know about my business, my EU27 family and friends, my staff, my British in Europe friends and my identity which was torn in half against my will on the 23rd June in 2016.  I have not seen a single tweet, article or speech from an MP in two years which has shown me how Brexit is of benefit to our lives.  I only see the benefits that are being ripped away from us.  This has not changed. 

We have fought for two years but not because of the complexities of customs arrangements and trade deals.  It’s important for us to have people in our community giving us the specialist understanding and opinions and we need them.  But what drives each and every one of us is a fundamental belief that a dreadful mistake has been made by the UK.  We will all be demonstrably poorer in both money terms and more importantly in family and cultural terms.  In human terms we are already poorer.

Norway, EEA, all those compromise positions which if adopted early as a goal by government may well have stopped our movement from  growing in the first place were thrown out FROM THE START.  Pilar Gomez from Chester tweeting IN 2016/2017 made ZERO difference to that position taken by government.  The Remain movement has literally been ignored and is only now due to our stubbornness  finally getting traction and MPs are starting to move and back us.  Why only recently?

Well because it is now clear to the everyone there was no plan. Let me say that again. THERE WAS NO PLAN.  Leavers voted for a NON-EXISTENT PROPOSITION.  Govt have had 2 years to lay out a leave proposition but they are as divided as they were in the beginning and have come up with a choice between fudge and no deal.  It was government who publicised that no deal was a distinct possibility not the Remain movement. It was government assessments which discovered we will be poorer not remainers.  

Fellow #fbpe, I refuse to take any responsibility for this shambles created by politicians and I urge you to think hard for yourselves before you lose your confidence in our movement. Our campaigning did not lead Parliament to find themselves in this insane position, it has simply cast a huge magnifying glass on the continuing splits, errors and inconsistency of Brexit and its drivers. Brexit simply cannot work in a way which will leave us in a better position than our already excellent position as equal members of the EU.

In my opinion ultimately Brexit is damaging to our lives and no amount of fudge will hide that, no amount of negotiating will square the circle without setting the economy back.  It won’t in my opinion be a sudden overnight decline even in no deal scenario though clearly that will bring major immediate practical problems.  The decline will be slow – a drip drip drip of jobs moving, small companies closing down because they can no longer get the return they used to.  A continuing weak pound.  A vulnerability to the right taking over and reducing our standards and rights in order for them to profit from our decline.

I don’t believe another year of actual negotiations with the EU would make things any better. All the obvious compromise positions have been thrown out by government. They have left themselves literally nowhere to go.  In my opinion we do need an extension to the A50 so that we can run an unhurried thorough and well explored Peoples Vote on the proposition that will come before us by government – DEAL/NODEAL/REMAIN but we need to secure the promise of one by Parliament before Brexit day.

So I say this.  Forget the wobblers and the people who we think let us down yesterday.  We are not responsible for this insanity we are the magnifiers and we hold Leavers and Government and Opposition to account for their promises and their lies and their obfuscation.  We shine a light on their inconsistencies and ulterior self serving motives.  I for one will not let self-doubt get in the way of protecting my people and the amazing #fbpe people and Peoples Vote street campaigners who inspire me every single day to fight again.

The #5million – a Poem

Dealt a blow
Injured by your Indifference
See our hurt and anger
Even families sought to damage lives
None of us did anything wrong
Free us from this madness
Rid us of anxiety
All our plans made long ago
Now drenched in the toxicity of your mistake
Cowards refuse to look us in the eye
Haters profit from our discomfort
Is this what you voted for?
Senseless direction to be followed
Eyes closed
Damaged Lives

by @redalphababe

Takeovers, Takedowns and Meltdowns.

Takeovers, Takedowns and Meltdowns.

I woke up this morning with my mind on an old customer whose story I would like to share.  I don’t wish to name names, so, as it amuses me, I will call them Dave, Ed & Nick LLP.   They were a customer for the best part of a decade.  I personally looked after their account and every other day would be talking to their excellent general manager John who ran the show for the owners, taking his orders, sorting out his problems, make sure his supplies and equipment arrived when he wanted them where he wanted them, keeping him happy.  A wonderful chap, an expert (yes, I know expertise is so last year), keeping his employer’s ship on a steady course for many years.  John knew what he was doing.   Sometimes he dropped a clanger or would make totally unreasonable demands and I would be swearing and muttering to myself around the office as I tried to figure out a solution that would get him out of a fix.  I always did and often it cost us money and he wasn’t always as grateful as I would have liked, but he always paid the bills and gave a fair price. Our working relationship was both excellent and mutually beneficial.

Then out of the blue the Dave, Ed & Nick LLP partners all wanted to retire and sell up.  John decided to go to pastures new and his assistant, Ben was put in his place.  We were assured there would be no change, we would have the exact same benefits and relationship with the new permutation of the company.  Of course, the inevitable unravelling started quickly.  The calls from Ben were full of unspoken anxiety and stress, you could almost feel him shrinking in the middle of the circle of wagons as he came under siege.   Their accounts department dragged their feet, Ben’s budget was squeezed, customers started to leave them in droves.  I would have to stop supplies until invoices were paid, never happened before.   It turned out that the new owners were not interested in job creation, or investing for growth, they were not interested in the existing staff or the long history of the company.  They had used lies to keep staff on board.  The prize in their sights was the prime property the company owned which was right in the middle of an area of intense redevelopment for buy to let luxury apartments.    They were running the company down for the cashflow whilst they got a developer on board, which they did.  Within a year the company which had operated for 30 years was dead, redundancy notices handed out.  The plaque on the swish new apartments should read RIP Dave, Ed & Nick LLP you served us well but well, we couldn’t be bothered with all that work malarkey and besides we made more money this way.

Why do I tell you this story you ask?  An everyday story of business surely.  Well I am no politician or historian, so I see the world through the lens of everyday life.  I see a parallel in the current body politic. Like my customer it has been broken and taken over by asset strippers and opportunists, people who have leveraged populism to take control.  I am shocked by what has happened in the last 8 years.  The electorate sold its votes to the highest bidders, fed up with stagnant wage growth and self-serving over familiar plastic politicians.  Conservatives under David Cameron bowed to pressure from the extremes within and sold their Tory souls to the UKIP agenda of division and blaming the Other to deflect from the fact that their own policies were woefully inadequate in addressing the post 2008 climate of poor growth and financial crisis.  Now under the cosh of a referendum result which she knows is damaging and makes no sense, May is caught in the death grip of the ERG who are pushing us steadily towards a disastrous Brexit.  The Tory back benchers, mostly remain realists originally, are invested so heavily in the folly of the great Willerthepeople Project that they are refusing to acknowledge we are all at the mercy of a small number of Billionaire disaster capitalists who are pushing their Brexit agenda for personal benefits, the acquisition of money and power, at the expense of millions of people around the country.  These people count their pounds, euros and dollars, whilst most of us will count the cost in pounds, in tax burden, in family lives, in jobs, in closed businesses, in lost family and friends from the EU27 community who are fed up of being depicted by press and politicians alike as a problem rather than a part of our community.  Look at Jacob Rees Mogg talking about the Northern Ireland Border.  He cares not a jot for the ordinary people of the United Kingdom.   Nor does Boris Johnson who has dodged and wavered and lied and twisted direction.  Who would trust him? These people are not our friends, yet they hover malevolently in the background threatening May’s leadership to get their way. 

But what of the HM opposition you ask?  They got a shiny new management too and the launch party was indeed super exciting and remarkable.  People were swept up in the fever of enthusiasm of a new (to them) face who appeared to be speaking so plainly and selling his politics of hope and simple solutions.

Beware though, they are gambling with the Politics of Catastrophe as much as the government is.  They have consistently failed to point out to their constituents what a damaging thing Brexit is.  Most of their supporters know and can see that but these are politically engaged individuals.  The average constituent has no idea and barely an interest in what is in store. The correct responsible response to the referendum result would have been to press for a thorough review of what the result meant, what would be the consequences and if necessary some consensus as to what a desired realistic endpoint to aim towards if it was decided by parliament to trigger the A50. Yet the shadow front bench sat back and let it all happen.  Totally blind, totally clueless they supported the government in triggering the A50.    When challenged they wring their hands.  What can we do?  We have 6 tests.  Will of the People.  Honour the referendum.  We have no say.  Well the six tests have already failed under any kind of Brexit so what now?   What are they doing?  Are they waiting for government to fail and pick up an election win and possibly an opportunity to bring in their own Corbynomics agenda?   

Lib Dems, Greens, SNP, all fully anti Brexit but unless we live in Scotland it’s difficult to feel our remaining options will get us very far, especially given the continuing hostility shown towards the Lib Dems by Labour and their refusal to work together with them effectively against the government on Brexit.  Perhaps we should all move to Scotland.

Young people have been shafted so much by Tories  they will not be joining any time soon in big numbers.  Labour membership Is at healthy levels, but the writing was on the wall for me personally during the 2015 leadership election.  I saw long and frequent threads on Twitter and Facebook filled with vitriolic diatribes towards Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall and a little to Andy Burnham.  Liz got the worst of the abuse.  This was from so called labour members and supporters.  I see some of the same twitter accounts to this day in nasty aggressive threads about anti-Semitism or Brexit telling people to go away and vote tory and how they are responsible for people dying at the hands of Tories by being critical of labour strategies.  I left Labour because of Brexit, but to be honest I heaved a big sigh of relief that I no longer have to be embroiled in these kinds of internal discussions.  They started the tone with this level of aggression towards dissenters and are surprised that it has now come back to bite them in a very public meltdown being covered in the news.  The internal language of labour is now toxic to its core.  I don’t think I am the only one who has been totally turned off by this nonsense.

The Body Politic is broken.  All parliamentarians have contributed to this either by their actions or inaction and it is parliamentarians who must fix it.  New alliances between sensible minded MPs and Peers and MEPs REGARDLESS OF PARTY who believe in doing the right thing need to be forged using their agreement on the Brexit issue to try and defeat these extremes who between them are driving us to the disastrous consequences outside the EU as a third country.  But it’s not just about Brexit, these alliances must push back against the wider implications of these extremes which are creating a political landscape of intolerance, where debate has been replaced by gaslighting and dog whistles and the abdication of personal responsibility.

All I can do is raise my one voice to MPs and potential MPs and say very clearly whoever wants my vote in the future will have to prove to me they have earned it by showing the courage and good sense in standing up right now against this disastrous attempted takeover of UK Plc by ideologues, fools and Wreckers.

I hope you will all use your voices too.

@redalphababe