More for #the5million

Hail

2 years suspended
Uncertain futures
A life of broken plans
A Home with a bolt on the door
Who will slide it open?  Will they unlock it and when?
Aged old friends too embarrassed to think
Too frightened to look lest they feel the burn of personal responsibility
Sops and platitudes rain down as
cold projectiles of hail
fueling grieving resentment freezing forgiveness
Slowly dwindling to silence then distance

‘We didn’t mean you’
Too proud to admit your error
You hide behind these words with your fake tans and polished smiles
Your Marks suits and empty eyes.

@redalphababe

Movement

An open horizon beckons its hope to excited people
A reflection in the sunlight of potential new fates
Children learn languages
Parents, new skills
Beautiful girls learn words of passion whispered by lovers on strange moonlit shores
Students pack sweet memories in their rucksacks, currency for their life ahead
We can breathe in our freedom
We can drink it’s energising adventure
We pack our bags with glee undiminished by our pasts, undeterred from our future possibilities
We remove freedom from those we would punish for bad choices

yet we have done no wrong – so why send ourselves into solitary confinement

@redalphababe

Resignation letter sent October 2017

I sent the letter below in October 2017 to the Labour Party.  In view of Jeremy Corbyns insistence in an interview today that he would press on with imposing brexit if labour won an election without referring back to the people first, I checked what I had written and decided to post it on my blog page.  In fact most of my points stand, though I was wrong about one thing,  a large majority of labour members and supporters want to remain and want an opportunity for a public vote on the matter.  The level of anger I have seen today related to the guardian article below is worse than I have ever seen it.  People who I have followed who have remained with labour defending the party working for the party are feeling completely let down today.  The Labour Party must listen to them if it is not to make itself a minor footnote in the history books when they are written about the Brexit disaster. 

Here is the article that prompted my post today 

Corbyn: Brexit would go ahead even if Labour won snap election

My original letter 

Dear  Labour Party
I am sorry to say but for some time I have felt I cannot  support the Labour Party by being a member and have therefore cancelled my direct debit.  I will continue to support  Labour campaigns on local issues and local candidates where appropriate but as a member I feel very constrained to express my opinions which it seems are at odds with a large portion of the current membership. 
The contentious issue for me is Brexit.  I am 100% against Brexit – I think it is the most damaging and dangerous political direction ever taken by a British Government in my lifetime and I feel disappointingly that most of the Labour Shadow Cabinet continue to take a very weak confusing and schizophrenic line towards Brexit.    I understand in a way, Labour are trying to keep the support of hard brexiteers amongst labour voters and woo back UKIP voters and they want to honour the result – but frankly all members of a government including HM opposition have a primary duty to put the good of the country before ANYTHING ELSE INCLUDING THEIR OWN PARTY.  
Leave won the EU referendum with a very small majority which in my view simply was not a big enough majority to warrant such a  massive and disruptive and damaging change.  In addition watching the government lurch through negotiations as all the realities unravel it is increasingly obvious to anybody with a modicum of sense and logic that leaving the EU is so incredibly complex and damaging that it serves the country very poorly to continue down this extremely damaging path or to support in any way the government on this policy.  
Furthermore the long standing wholly unwarranted British hysteria about immigration which, it grieves me to say, has been spread not only on the right of politics but also amongst some Labour party voters, members and MPs has been hugely hurtful and harmful to EU citizens some of whom have been here for decades, since they were children.   This is perhaps the worst aspect of Brexit because it was fought by its proponents primarily on anti-foreigner arguments.  I actually joined the labour party in 2015 because I was extremely distressed at the growth of the anti-immigration narrative that was all over the press and TV and having always voted  Labour I thought I could support them more directly in their principles that all citizens should be treated fairly including people who have settled here from other countries.  I sense that this is not really what Labour is wholeheartedly behind nowadays and many are simply increasingly indifferent to the reality that  members of our communities in effect are being treated as second class citizens and any deal that is done will change their current status as equal EU citizens to something less.   I must be free to oppose this anti FOM narrative resolutely in the name of  family and friends who may or have already been affected and in memory of my parents who came here in the sixties as foreign migrants and started a new life here.  We, their children, have gone on to create employment and spend our working lives paying taxes and contributing to our local communities and contributing to the growth the economy.  Every serious study has shown that the story sold to some parts of the electorate that EU27 citizens have been driving down wages is false and again it grieves me that some members of Labour Shadow Cabinet and MPs have on occasion actually publicly  promoted this false argument in order to support giving up EU membership.  The anti-immigration narrative plus the shambles of Brexit negotiations unfolding has also hugely damaged our standing in the eyes of our strategic partners overseas too and HM opposition should be firm in its opposition to this.   
I run a business which since the 2008 crash has seen most of its strongest growth in sales throughout Europe – this has counterbalanced the poor growth we have seen in our UK markets in the same period.  As a small business without the single market we will see significant damage to that income stream as our bureaucratic and  export costs and complexities increase in whatever the new arrangements end up being.  The best Brexit is no Brexit from the point of view of the wellbeing of our business and the security of the local people we employ whose livelihoods depend on us continuing to remain strong and viable.   
Brexit overshadows everything else in these worrying times – no issues such as poor wage growth, housing or austerity can be addressed properly in a post Brexit UK as even just the costs of its negotiation and  implementation will be enormous without even starting to take into account the long term economic damage to our industry and business. 
After months of indecision from me about my labour membership and increasing disquiet at my personal position which is at odds with the Labour party and the disappointing lack of firm anti Brexit policy from the national party,  I feel I must follow my principle.  My money and time will be better spent not on political parties but specifically supporting grass roots/cross party Anti Brexit campaigns for the time being.   My resignation is no personal reflection on individual members I have come across who have been in the main very nice people or indeed on Welsh Labour and the work they do in the Welsh Assembly,  but I feel this is the right thing for me to do.
I wish The Labour Party the very best of luck in the future.
Kind regards
Maria del Pilar Gomez

Fawn Socks

Fawn socks, Rimmer checks 
Girls are getting it in the neck
Roll up our skirts get legs a-tanning 
Forget the pervy neighbour scanning 
Dreaming of romancing, sunshine and dancing 
In the hall Assembled,
a letter read
Complaints to be dealt with
by the head 
A Sister’s anger fills the stage 
A leader, tall, cross on a chain, all  beige 
Trying to make us all the same, maroon and bland but kind and sage 
Singing  echoes around  the walls, 
scores of crescendos, summer stalls
Hockey matches. Hitting balls, 
fearless, tackling, lots of goals. 
Important wins to keep school pride 
To keep onside 
Not be denied 
To gain respect 
The team accept
Reaching the sixth, boys in the classes 
Less supervision, more blusher,  eyelashes
Fluttering
Pretending 
To be aloof 
Gossip the currency, fitting in, the desire
Parties and music fanning the fire 
of passion 
of love’s lost  agony 
Unique to the young 
who think the world’s over when it’s only begun 
Fawn socks are gone, blandness is history 
Now to become a mystery 
But Never to be Sisterly  
@redalphababe 

Pictures from Twitter – 4 little verses

Refugees

They see swarming
We see calling
Mourning
For Histories lost
And futures stopped

Food bank

Full shelves
Empty stomachs
Frozen minds
Gurning suits look proudly on
Their creation of shame born out of patronage
Victims required for illusion of empire.

Ugly thread

Lack of care
Or hidden behind the caps of hate?
Envy and anger designed to inflict damage
Troll or bot or friendly fire?
The hurt is the same, the journey has been long
Pick the right fight
We are close to the finishing line,
Reject the ugly, embrace the goal.

Freedom of Movement

A right to live a life your own
A right to love in sun or snow
A hope and dream which can be real
No bank nor birth can stop the zeal which which we dare to start again
or try some shoes not otherwise worn

You would give that blessing away
to give mine too is not a game
It’s a pain endured, an agony, a crime
Our identity
ripped
shredded
Undermined

Our pattern pieces make sense sewn up
Torn apart, they are rags forgotten, unworn
in a drawer, an incomplete project
mothballed
abandoned
left behind
As elsewhere the future is forged without us.

You lose too.

@redalphababe

SUPPORTING A PEOPLES VOTE

As the dramas unfold in parliament, it is clear  there is no agreement amongst our parliamentarians on the deal that Mrs  May has come back with which has taken 2.5 years to negotiate and no agreement as to how to resolve the impasse.  It is an appalling deal.  We will have had our voice and vote removed completely when we should be in the heart of Europe continuing to shape it with our partners.

You cannot have the benefits without the membership fee.  You cannot shape the EU without the membership card to get you in.  You cannot have the SM and CU without embracing the four freedoms.  You cannot have the exact same benefits of EU membership, SM or CU without being members.  The other option, No-Deal, contrary to public opinion does not mean we remain as we are just not in the EU, it means we literally fall out of every single treaty and framework agreement with no arrangements going forward.  All the systems and regulatory and business-related apparatus that we rely on to manage our complex economy and public services and way of life will have to be rebuilt or remade in some form.  Either way, May’s deal of the blind future or no-deal of complete chaos, it will not be the end of Brexit.  Either option will lead to many years of arguing and negotiating and distraction when we could just be getting on with growing our economy and shaping our futures at the top table with our friends.
It is time for us all to accept that the problem with Brexit is Brexit.  After 40 years of membership, our systems of trade, of movement and, in our private lives, our mix of cross EU relationships and families  which have grown and developed are all inextricably linked.  Is that a bad thing given the enormous benefit we have seen to peace and the improvements in the protections of citizens in many areas and the fantastic opportunities that Freedom of Movement has given us and of course genuine frictionless trade with access to FTA agreements across the world beyond the EU?  Leaving is like trying to take the ice out of the ice cream so in the end it just leaves a melted lukewarm mess in your bowl.  It will leave our bank balances lower, our futures more uncertain, our public services desperately damaged especially the NHS which will become extremely vulnerable to becoming a two-tier system of more health insurance  vs a public service struggling to make the budgets work and find enough staff.  The NHS is already struggling in these areas.  Brexit will make it worse.
I agree with Chris Matheson, in his thoughtful column on the issue of Brexit recently and the dangers of no-deal and I am very glad he is not prepared to compromise by agreeing to Mrs. May’s bad solution.  There is another way.  We can choose to change our minds and remain.  There is only one way we can legitimately and fairly break this impasse.  We need to have a referendum and test the May proposition properly, a proposition which Parliament by the looks of it cannot agree on and examine the costs and the consequences and the so-called benefits to our lives.  Then we need to re-examine our EU membership by the same standard.  Then we need to decide whether May’s deal is what we really and truly want.

@redalphababe

Saving the Nation from WHAT?

The Great Deal that will Save the Nation from the Pesky Foreigners has been revealed

How proud is the cry from Mrs May and her Government?
“Free movement will end once and for all” proclaims the slick advert. 

Forgive me for not falling over myself in the rush to proclaim this a great victory although there doesn’t seem to be much enthusiasm in general to be fair.    What a mean-minded piece of triumphalism.   Slow handclap to the people of this great nation who have continued to support the removal of freedoms and rights on the say so of 17,410,742 people out of a total population of 66 million.  This is the most amazing case of the tyranny of the minority I have ever seen.   This figure equates to a percentage of 26.37% of the population imposing their desires on 73.27% of the public.  I don’t know about you, but these figures make me angry and have continued to make me angry since that day in June 2016 when the Leave campaign cheated to get over the line and fear and suspicion of the “other” won out. 

But we didn’t vote leave because of immigration, I hear you say.  Well Mrs. May believes you did because she has been clear from the start, she wants to stop freedom of movement and reduce immigration and it’s the very first thing her tawdry advert proclaims.

Tell me again. 

Why have you given up your rights to easily live, study, love, work or retire in any one of our beautiful European member states?  Why have you given up the benefit of pooling resources with our closest neighbours and partners?  We cannot take part in the myriad of schemes and initiatives that bring back targeted assistance to the regions struggling the most.  We must reinvent a whole list of agencies for ourselves that we have been an equal party to developing over 40 years.  Every aspect of our lives is connected to the structures around the EU.  Not even the remain community knew the half of it and leave politicians certainly had no idea.  I mean, Raab only just realised Dover is an important port!

Why have you voted for the 3 million EU27  amongst us and your fellow citizens in the EU to be relegated from being equals within their communities to second class citizens?  How are you going to resolve the challenges we face?  Is it not better to work together, for example, to deal with the multinational corporations arranging their tax affairs to the detriment of their tax paying customers’ nations? You all sit there moaning about this company and that company not paying tax, this is exactly the kind of thing our representatives in the EU work on together with our partners and we can carry on working together to come up with some solutions that are fair to the citizens and the businesses alike.  We can only do that as a bloc.  

What about climate change?  Remember that?  With a White House which currently declines to place importance on environmental issues it is more vital than ever that as a group we stand together in Europe, sharing our science and research in this area, no borders no obstacles, seeking political consensus that will help us find solutions to deliver the planet to our children in better condition than when we found it. 

How are we to tackle the big problems coming in the more distant future – the demographic time bomb of an ageing population, automation reducing the amount of skilled well-paid work available. These are problems best faced together, working out ways to make our industries work for our citizens rather than the other way around.

How will being a third country increase your wages?  How will it reduce your living costs?  How will it build you new homes or take the homeless off the street?  Why are Germany able to magically export massive amounts to China whilst being members and why is Denmark  seemingly not hampered in running a generous progressive welfare system by being in the EU.  Nationalised Industries such as trains and utility companies are all over the EU. 


All these things have been offered as reasons to give up our membership.  Funny that, nothing about our membership is stopping us doing any of it. NOTHING.   Yet every day we ask the same key question and get no logical reply.

graphic via @BrimhamG

What are you getting back for throwing away your EU citizenship and that of 3 other people who did not want to?  It had best be something really good. What are you saving the nation from?

Politicians who continue to enable Brexit and cannot answer this question convincingly, well it had best be something extremely good.  When the people have figured out the truth as the consequences start to bite, the Parliament of 2018 will not be forgiven.


Its time for you all to spell out the consequences of Brexit to your constituents and remind them we don’t have to do this.  We can choose to REMAIN and keep our rights as citizens of the EU.

Its time for you to offer informed consent

#peoplesvote with #optiontoremain  #finalsayforall 

@redalphababe

Letter to A Lost One

You moved away when I was young to have adventures which could only belong to you, but you always wrote long and loving family letters telling us your tales.  We were missing one of our essential ingredients but there was a comfort in knowing you were always somewhere else waving the flag for us, building your future.  You would walk through the door on visits complete with your smiles, dark cloud of hair, beautiful dimples and your unusual grey green eyes that were prone to flash dangerously if you were driven to anger.  A big sister to be proud of, a hero to worship, a beautiful soul to love.
The years passed.  I grew older and closer to the time when it would be my turn to strike out in the world.  My dreams, no matter how they changed, never failed to include you somewhere in the fringes.   I quietly nursed unvoiced ideas that you would be a bigger part of my everyday life.  On visits we talked about things we would do together, jumbled, laughing excitable brain storming sessions.   You never squashed my ambition.  You never laughed at my opinions.  Support and humour were your tools of sisterly love. 
Then the day that would change all days came.  You were taken from us, no notice, no warning, no preparation. A cruel twist to life’s tale.  I can still feel the agony as I think of that day, though the memory of it has been blunted and dulled by the passing of time. 
My  inner organs twisted and shrank together into a hard ball of pained loss which I carried with me for some years.  Glass shards in my heart making holes that would never properly heal.  How could it be you were no longer somewhere in the world waiting for us?  How could you not be there to see your children grow?  What could we possibly have done that was so bad to deserve having one of our own taken away, too soon, too young, too cruelly?  How could our parents be burying a daughter? Why were you, a kind and well-meaning woman, taken whilst the world was filled with heartless and ruthless bullies and despots who thrive on the back of the suffering of others? 
Why did I not say “I love you” the last time I saw you?  I watched your train pull away, clueless that I would never see you again. A precious moment lost forever.  For a long time, I plagued myself with imagining your last moments.  What went through your mind?  What was the last thing you said?  Did you suffer?  Were you frightened?  These questions drove me insane and filled by head in quiet moments, blocking out sleep for weeks.
I didn’t want my memory to be tainted by a vision of you tumbling through space and I fought hard to remove those thoughts.  I found no comfort in religion or in God.  I wanted to, I tried, but it was just a poor sticking plaster for me. 
I found some comfort in family and the shared pain made it easier to carry the load of loss.  In the end though, I realised that the healing can only come from within ourselves.   My life has always been a little colder without you.  The world has been emptier, knowing you are no longer occupying a physical space on it somewhere waiting for me to share my plans and dreams with you.  
So, the best I have is for you to live in my heart and in my memories.  Never forgotten.  Always loved.
@redalphababe

My latest letter to my local MP following up after the Peoples vote march

I spent my Saturday this weekend with 700,000 plus other people from up and down the country on the streets of London to make a peaceful request of all parliamentarians that they allow us to have an opportunity to examine the appalling consequences of the vote from 2016 and the deal (or no deal) which the government intend to finally put through parliament for a meaningful vote.  Parliament is deeply divided on Brexit, there is no viable vision of Brexit which does not make each and every one of us losers ultimately.  We stood for 6 hours on the streets of London, shuffling along unable to make headway for a couple of hours because there were so many of us. 
Each of us carried the names of our friends and families who could not be there but wanted to be because of work or economic circumstances so you can probably double or triple the numbers of people who are sufficiently concerned about Brexit to make an active stand to get a people’s vote. 

We are not asking to stop Brexit without another democratic exercise.  We simply want an opportunity for a vote on the deal versus remain which is fair, open, truthful, transparent and informed.  In 2016 the public were poorly informed on the EU and the arguments, they were subjected to a campaign where Leave cheated and blatantly lied.   All the Leave promises in 2016 are lying on the ground like tattered confetti at a wedding where the couple decide to annul the marriage even before the honeymoon night is over.   From day one leave politicians rowed back on each and every lie they promoted.  We have a right to examine where this leaves us all and think again.

It is incredibly disappointing that the Labour Party, as the main opposition, saw fit to actively ignore our march and seems unwilling to recognise that many of the voters in that march will carefully consider the part the Labour party will be seen to have played in the final reckoning on Brexit day on the 29th March 2019.    I would urge you to raise this with your colleagues and given how short of time we are  I would ask you to seriously consider whether it would not be in everyone’s interests for you to add your voice to those of your Labour colleagues who are openly supporting our campaign.

@redalphababe

Righting the Wronged!

Over the last two years I have had many conversations with good people who are at the front of the queue for the Big Brexit Chaos Bonanza.  Their stories are all different.  They are young, old, married, single, parents, grandparents.  They are nurses, musicians, warehouse operatives, civil servants, cleaners, carers, students.  They live across the UK and the EU.  They like literature, popular culture, sport, cooking, eating, watching the Proms, Strictly and the GBBO.  They like burgers and the theatre and pop music.  They run businesses, they work for someone else, they hold down 2 jobs, they travel across the continent as consultants or as tradespeople or as carers. 
Here is what they all have in common.  They were deliberately denied a say on a question which affects their lives and their status.  #the5million.  I don’t think many of us thought too hard about that.  Even now there is recognisable shock when my friend Nicky tells people how she was not allowed to vote because she has lived outside the UK for more than 15 years.  They are even more shocked when she points out that losing our EU citizenship, for her, will result in losing a right to vote for an MEP in the Netherlands and she may even lose her right to vote in her local elections.  She will have no political voice at all. 
At the same time 16-17 year olds were also denied a say, young people who were perfectly grown up enough to have an opinion of their own are the ones who will live with the consequences of this referendum outcome for the longest time. Incidentally these are the same kids we are all relying on to pay for our pensions and old age care.  I hope you were all careful what you wished for when you decided where to put that cross on the ballot paper.
Brextremists are very fond of saying it is undemocratic to campaign to stop Brexit because it was the “greatest democratic exercise in the history of the UK”.  Well I have news for you – your democratic exercise was pretty stinky as democratic exercises go.  It was flawed in a multitude of ways. Not only did leave campaigns (yes plural) cheat, not only was there lying and empty promises by them but fundamentally a huge group of people who would be affected by the decision were ignored as if they did not matter, as if they were objects to sort out later whether to keep or throw away, only measurable in pounds and euros and usefulness to those with British passports. 
Brexiters, you deliberately stopped all EU27 citizens in the UK, regardless of how long they have been members of our communities up and down the country, from having a voice. the people immediately affected by the outcome were ignored.   You stopped British citizens in the EU and elsewhere who had been overseas for more than 15 years from voting and many of the ballot papers to those who qualified did not arrive.   You stopped 16-17year olds from having a voice even though you deemed Scottish youth to be capable of casting a vote only a year before in the indyref.  You tried to tell them they would be okay – everything will work out, of course you don’t want them to leave, of course they would be protected.  At best you guessed, at worst you blatantly lied about your intentions.  The fact remains you have kept these people in limbo for 2 years and overnight millions will have a different status and will have to “register” to go back to their home that they never moved out of.  Millions across the EU have been given no guidance or support by the British government and are relying on the countries of their residence to help them secure their status.  What did Mrs May say when asked in the house of commons?  “I hope they’ll be okay”.  If this does not pull you up short on this subject I don’t know what will.
This Brexit is nauseating enough.  The economic consequences over the short and medium and long term are ridiculously damaging and in themselves should ensure a rejection by a sensible parliament of Brexit – yes, I know we are way short of a sensible parliament.  But the disenfranchisement of so many of our friends, our families, our neighbours underpins my greatest disgust, fills my head with anger and determination to fight. 
On Saturday I will be marching for a Peoples Vote, for an opportunity for a new vote to examine all the consequences we now know will result from the so-called work the government have been doing for 2 years.  A new vote requires a new franchise.  I will be arguing that not only should we have the opportunity to examine the deal, not only should we be able to keep remain as an option, but there is no doubt in my head the franchise should include the voices of the #5million and the 16-17 year olds who will carry the biggest burden of Brexit.
It will be an opportunity for us to Right all the Wrongs of June 2016 and we must fight for all of that.  
#brexitispersonal
#finalsayforall
@redalphababe

Illegal Activities by the Leave Campaigns in 2016

Text of letter I sent to various letters pages in Newspapers and version of a similar letter written to my local MP

I note today there have been comments from David Lammy on social media, highlighting a recent news story that the Met Police have decided not to investigate Leave Campaigns which broke electoral law citing political sensitivities.  Also, this week it has been reported that Jon Thompson, the head of HM Revenue and Customs, has revealed that police have investigated two death threats he received after setting out the potential cost to businesses of post-Brexit customs options. 

Additionally, in recent months there have been comments from senior politicians who seem to think we should put aside our democratic rights to campaign for what is best for the country or be cowed into silence through fear of violence from an extreme minority who think democracy stopped one day in June 2016.

I find it appalling that our institutions and public servants are being stopped from doing their jobs due to fear of the minority who are trying to impose a harmful and damaging Brexit on us. We are not some tin pot republic run by despots riddled with corruption.   This tyranny of silence on those who speak to truth is extremely damaging and in the long term will only feed into further mistrust of governments and institutions as the people will say “why didn’t you tell us we would have our economy damaged and our rights removed?  Why did you all tell us we would be better off? Why didn’t you tell us that people cheated to get the result they wanted in 2016”.

Regardless of how anybody voted, if laws have been broken during the EU referendum campaign and if there has been improper foreign interference helping Leave groups,  this should be properly investigated and the full facts should be laid out starkly to the British public   Additionally parliamentarians have a duty to speak out when the policies pursued by government in their opinion will harm the people they represent.

I have written to our local MP Chris Matheson and hope he and his colleagues will reflect on these matters and will stand up for transparency and raise the matter of the illegal activity during the EU referendum in parliament.   The Met Police should hold an investigation with no political interference and the results should be given to the public and looked at carefully in Parliament.  I would urge everybody no matter where they live to raise these concerns with their local MPs as these principles affect each and every one of us

@redalphababe