Jackanory Tell a Story in a Rose Garden

I hope that people who are now so exercised by the Dominic Cummings affair can now understand why so many of us have been so passionately exercised about the EU referendum and everything Brexit related that has unfolded from that.   Several excellent analyses I have seen from columnists as to why the majority of people are furious, have made the point about how personal this issue has been.

Everyone was expected to follow the Covid lockdown rules and they are, without doubt, difficult rules which divide family, which isolate people, which cause anxiety on many fronts, whether that is health, social or financial.   To see a person with power allowed to justify his breach of the rules so publicly without so much as an apology then have him and his slightly fantastical explanations defended furiously by PM and cabinet ministers alike has not only made the government a national and sadly an international disgrace,  but has touched people up and down this land at the most personal level, as they feel the pain of missing their children and grandchildren, or as they cope with their own childcare dilemmas without leaving home.

Their people have died alone, their frail elderly relatives are in care homes are maybe completely baffled as to why they are not getting visits from loved ones.  Their houses and flats are crowded, and their children are climbing the walls.  I read an article about young people going back to school in Spain as we ease out of lockdown, and the thing they found hardest was not being able to hug each other because of the social distancing rules.  This lack of being able to show our normal affection for each other is a source of pain.  Yet most people in Britain have followed the rules despite all these difficulties and temptations.  The previous government advisers found to have breached their own recommendations resigned swiftly.  Dominic Cummings instead held a personal roadshow in the Rose Garden and refused to admit he had done a single thing wrong and even let slip he has been making decisions for the Prime Minister without bothering him, a rather worrying revelation which hasn’t really been followed up by the press yet.  Nobody every voted for Dominic Cummings.  But he has done what they have all done since 2016 – doubled down again and again and got Boris Johnson and his mates to do the same.

So hold on to that thought for a moment – why you are so angry?  The Dominic Cummings/Boris Johnson partnership and their cabinet muppets are taking the mick, that’s how you feel, right?  For some of us, all this is just a continuation of the fury we have felt at the egregious interference with our families and businesses and lives that Brexit represents since 2016.  For us this has been personal for many reasons.  We have been lied to constantly, we have had broken promises, our concerns have been ignored.   You see, when government decisions have such a personal impact on the day to day lives of so many people and they are managed so badly, they cause division and make it impossible to forgive anything.  The scale of anger over the “one rule for them aspect” jars because the lockdown has affected every single person directly.  The scale of rage over Brexit and Brexit lies has been met with much apathy, indifference or irritation from the other half of the British public largely, I believe, because there are so many people who don’t think they will be affected.  They don’t think it’s relevant to them.

Conversely, the rest of us have raged because we see the hypocrisy of the crowing about removing freedom of movement for a nation, and for us personally, by a bunch of politicians many of whom have sneakily got themselves a second EU passport or who’s financial position means they will always have freedom of movement.  We have seen government ministers owning companies which have profited from the volatility of sterling through these long and terrible 5 years, a volatility caused by them,  whilst many of us with small businesses contemplate the damage that leaving the EU represents to our life’s work.

For millions of us will be affected, have been affected in the most personal way by Brexit.  People have already lost jobs, closed businesses, scrabbled around for new contracts.  Our sense of identity has been assaulted; a part ripped from us.  Families have been divided, children face a future having to choose between looking after elderly parents in one country or living with their spouses in another – forced to choose.  EU citizens have been insulted and faced discrimination and xenophobia never faced before as they have been made to justify their presence on British shores.  They are being made to pay extra for their access to medical treatment, in effect they are paying twice because they have a different passport.

Yes, I know you will point out that health and care workers are now exempted from the NHS surcharge,  but really, it’s the worse kind of racism that attempts to make out that some foreigners are more useful than others.  It’s really an extension of the “we didn’t mean you” attitude which is so offensive.   The policy should be scrapped for all immigrants living and working in the UK permanently, regardless of where in the world they are from.

EU citizens who had a legitimate vote in the EU elections last year were denied a vote with no justification simply because the Brexit government has nothing but contempt for Europeans and didn’t care enough to sort out its voter registration systems.  There is an attempt to hold the government to account for this disgraceful chapter by the way, and I would urge all of you who have professed to stand by the 3 Million to please support the 3 Million in this endeavour.  The crowdfunder offers a tangible way to challenge the government through the courts since you won’t be able to vote them out until 2024/5.  I have added the link at the bottom for this.  Please share and help if you possibly can.

The scale of rage over Brexit has been met largely with indifference or irritation amongst the general public because there are so many people who don’t believe they will be affected.  I am sorry to break the news, but whoever you are, you will be affected too at the end of 2020 when transition ends. You will all be affected.  When the government is totally blasé about whether we will have a reasonable trade deal with the EU by the end of the year, why would you now unquestionably trust them that no-deal won’t be a problem in light of current government behaviour?  If they can defend a bizarre story about driving to a castle to check your eyesight is okay, why would you believe them that we don’t need an extension to transition in the current circumstances.  If you are dependent on meds imported from the EU to stay alive, why would you think it will all be hunky dory if negotiations fail on trading arrangements when one of the key architects added something to his blog after his regulation breach in order to present himself in a certain way in that performance, claiming he had warned about Covid before it all began?  You don’t have to be a trade expert to know that no deal will present problems to supply chains.  If a virus can cause challenges to supplies of all sorts of things, as it has done,  so can a lack of trading arrangements.

If your job is hanging by a thread because your employers have used all their reserves to stay afloat with no income for months, why would you think after the economic shock of this Covid disaster is being worked out, that they will have anything left over to keep you in paid employment when their competitiveness and profitability is further slashed by no-deal consequences on their supply lines or when a deep recession removes discretionary spending from their customers pockets?   If government can carry on with a recess of parliament during a massive global health crisis and emergency, the like of which we have never seen before in our lifetimes, what makes you think they won’t keep avoiding being held to account on absolutely everything with their massive majority and 5 years to the next election.  They are taking you for mugs over Covid and Dominic Cummings, what on earth makes you think they aren’t taking us all for mugs over the refusal to request an extension and abandoning our trading relationships with our closest trading partners, neighbours and friends?  In fact, what else are they taking you for mugs over?

@redalphababe

To help right a wrong against our EU27 friends and family who were #deniedmyvote, please follow this link HERE

To sign a petition requesting the extension of transition until the Covid crisis is over please follow the link HERE

Letter from the EU No 4 – Lockdown Lowdown

We find ourselves in a house in a small village outside Huercal Overa in Almeria at a time of great crisis.  There was a chain of events and decisions unconnected with Coronavirus which brought us here, but that story is for another time and another letter.  The Covid-19 crisis has been growing in Europe and across the world.  We moved into this house on the 4th March.  I have watched with great concern and fear for you, my dear friends, as I see the British government struggling to get to grips with the issue and keep up with the speed of response that is absolutely required to flatten the curve as per the WHO advice.

backyard
View from the Back

At the time of writing, the Covid-19 stats in Spain stand at 33,089 total cases with 2206 deaths and 3355 cases recovered.  On the 1st of March, just before we got the keys for this house, there were only 228 cases which were concentrated mainly in and around Madrid.  Now as of the 21st March, there are cases in every region though Madrid continues to suffer the most. The press is full of sad stories.   A young policeman died having contracted the virus on duty.  The virus swamping a nursing home and the stream of ambulances to remove the dead captured on camera.  YouTube is full of videos of enthusiastic dancers, silly jokes, singing on balconies and daily cheers for doctors and nurses but this is all a way to cope with the constant anxiety of not being in control and having an invisible enemy that might be carried by you home from the supermarket which could kill your mother or grandfather.   I think its probably more stressful to do nothing productive than to be doing something in these strange, horrible days.

stats 1
The Covid-19 stats in Spain to date

Just before the Spanish government agreed the details of a state of emergency on the 15th March, there had been 200 deaths.  There was great concern because that weekend, knowing lockdown was coming, people from Madrid travelled to the coasts to their second homes after restrictions were placed in their region.  A similar thing happened in Italy.  Now, I suspect many Spaniards and Italians, if asked, would regret that lockdown had not been put in place earlier as the news flashes in every day with the rising numbers of sick and dead and we see images of conference centres turning into hospitals with ICU beds.

Watching the UK news yesterday with people going on day trips having been advised to practice social distancing puts me in mind of this same thing but I wonder whether I too would have had a more complacent attitude had I not been here watching the UK through the prism of a lockdown in a country that is 2 weeks ahead of the UK in experience of the Covid-19 curve.  It’s certainly surreal, I can tell you that.

But Boris Johnson and his government have done a grave disservice to their country by being dragged kicking and screaming to the point where clear communication and INSTRUCTION is what is need in order to not only flatten the curve but keep health professionals as safe as possible in treating this terrible virus.  The UK have wasted so much time, they could have had measures in place a week ago starting in much better shape than Spain in terms of case numbers. WHO report there is no shortage of testing resources either despite hints to the contrary by British politicians.

Basically in Spanish lockdown, all unnecessary movement is removed.  The only shops allowed to stay open to the public are food shops, pharmacies, paper shops and kiosks, pet food supplies and hairdressers.  People may travel to work.  Home deliveries are allowed so online companies can continue and home delivery from takeaways is allowed.  You can walk your dog but if you do stay close to your home.  A man was fined for walking his dog 3km away from his house.  If you are on the street it must only be for the purposes of going to a shop for food, medicine, work, walking a dog or going home.  All libraries, bars, museums etc are closed so many people cannot go to work because their place of work is closed anyway.  Those who can home work are doing so. You cannot go for a run or a cycle ride.  Only one person allowed in a car unless accompanying someone who needs help through disability etc.  The lockdown is visibly enforced by police forces and the army.  Streets are disinefected from morning until night.  The disinfecting truck actually came past us today even though we are in a little village.  The mantra of #QuedateEnCasa #StayAtHome is seen on tv and news and on social media.  The Government is using social media well to get information out about the virus and the Prime Minister and others are on TV everyday with updates.

In the main I see overwhelming support for these measures.  There are many who I think really feel it is their civic duty to protect their families and neighbours and most especially their precious health services.  Health care started off well-resourced here and yet hospitals are nevertheless stretched and in the hotspots threaten to be overwhelmed.  Of course health care workers constantly in contact with the virus are heavily at risk and many have become sick themselves so making it even more difficult to manage the numbers of critical patients.  There was a report of a convention centre being turned into a hospital and private beds have been requisitioned by government.  I think everyone here understands now, a week after lockdown, the absolute necessity of buying time.  Time for the science to help and the medical provision to be increased.  In my area there has been very little evidence of infection but looking at the local Spanish chat pages, support is still strong for the measures.  The initial 15 days of lockdown are to be extended to a further 15 days, all opposition parties are in agreement.

It may seem odd for me of all people, someone who has fought tooth and nail to preserve our freedom of movement as a right these last four years, to now be in total agreement with the current lockdown enforced with police presence, but the way I see it, a virus is no respecter of any politics.  We really are all in it together although physically we must be apart and we must work together not only to make it through this unprecedented health crisis but protect our way of life afterwards.  This virus does threaten the old and those with other conditions the most, but nobody is completely safe, and the health care professionals are also at great risk because of the amount of the virus they will be exposed to as the numbers of ill patients increase.  The economic shock this crisis is presenting is another thing which we will continue to need to work together to resolve.  The burden will be on everyone to help ease the pain we will continue to feel as we pay the price for flattening the curve.

Although borders are being closed and restrictions on movement imposed here, it has to remain an international collaboration by the science community and by Governments and by Business if they have facilities they can offer to help us come out of the other side of this intact.  Here Spanish shoe factories and other fashion manufacturing facilities are repurposing their machines to make masks and other protective equipment to donate to hospitals and police, private hospital beds have been requisitioned for public use and China have donated protective equipment.  The EU have created a scheme for members to buy extra ventilators and Italy have had Chinese doctors flying over to help them get through this crisis.  Its heartening to see these stories of friendship and human connection.

Yet in contrast I see the UK government has been so slow to heed the advice based on real experience and actual deaths elsewhere.  its like watching a tractor in slow motion rolling towards the edge of an abyss  The whole disastrous herd immunity modelling nonsense was interpreted by many as carry on as you are as far as I can make out.  The lack of clarity and INSTRUCTION on social distancing measures is just dreadful.  UK Please listen.  Your friends over here are screaming at you to stay at home. The UK had a head start they could have used to impose even a partial lockdown a week ago.  instead I see pictures of crammed supermarkets and crowded tube stations and I fear for the stats that will be announced in the coming weeks in those daily news conferences led by a man who looks like he would rather be on the surface of Mars than in front of that microphone.

playground
Childrens playground sealed off in a deserted Huercal Overa

UK schools are finally shut but not shut yet parents are taking their children to playgrounds.  Please just stop.   STAY AT HOME.  Every day of lockdown you all suffer now is 2 days less in the future and will save lives.  In these extraordinary times, making vague recommendations allowing people to choose to do the right things just won’t work.  The public are not experts. There will always be disagreement about what is essential travel, who is a key worker.  For that reason clear decisions on these questions and then firm instruction is what people need even if it is not what they want.  It’s hard but it buys scientists and health services precious time.  The scientific consensus around the world is clear on what the strategy should be.  We must for a short time lay aside our personal preoccupations as individuals and think what we can do for the community.

So please, listen to other countries.  Stay at Home as much as you can to weather this storm.  Protect your families and stay safe.

ps. I have seen that the government is putting through an emergency bill grabbing power for up to two years. Neither Spain nor France as far as I know have seen the need to put this 2-year date on their legislation. Spain has used an existing ability in its written constitution to call a state of emergency, but it only lasts for 15 days and must be renewed by agreement in parliament every 15 days. This is as it should be.  The state should have no ability to impose such serious measures on people’s liberty for any length of time without consent and regular review and scrutiny.  Without that protection lies the path to temptation by men big on ego and miniscule of heart  to make themselves the defacto crown prince.  Indeed I have to ask the question why would a government who can’t even bring themselves to order pubs to shut down across the country in order to protect pensioners feel they need emergency legislation allowing amongst other things the detention of “sick” foreign people which lasts for 2 years especially when there is already existing legislation to use in an emergency?  Odd that.

pps. The British government must now accept that a brexit extension MUST be agreed for at least a year.  European (including the UK) energies must remain on fighting covid-19 and recovering from the economic shock it is causing and the havoc it will continue to cause.  If our small businesses survive (and believe me its going to be hit and miss whether we will still have a business on the other side of this nightmare), having to then battle through Brexit nonsense in the same year is just going to kill us off once and for all.

@redalphababe

Righting the Wrongs of 16.

Righting the Wrongs, fixing what’s right
We are still here to fight the good fight
Defiance still shines, your lies can’t be hid
Whilst we use our voice to lift off the lid

We watch and we wait for truth to be clear
To be once again what people hold dear
The light will be shining and as the scales fall
Our people will come home on hearing our call

To examine reality, to see what we know
That is  inevitable, make no mistake. Go
to the lengths you desire to hide your intent
Spend as much as you like
Make a bridge, build a tent

to keep out the light from the masses that matter
you can’t do it forever.  Hurt makes a clatter
as it grips peoples hearts where anxiety dwells
So the wave of real life will roll and swell
And crash on the sand that your house is built on
Wash away the turrets towers and cons

We will be waiting. If you are right
there is nothing to worry about, the unicorns will alight
from their gilded carriages and all will gain
But if you are wrong we will  feel the pain
of our friends and our families our children, husbands and wives
The impacts and consequence over their lives

We will be waiting to heal their mistake
To right the wrongs of the liberties you take
To put back the rights you have taken away
To restore the freedoms and stop foul play

We don’t yet know how or when or where
But we’ve time on our side, your clock is already there
with the alarm going off soon. Everyone will hear.
Where exactly you want to steer.
Your dream will be transparent and we will all see.
What reality is, how painful it will be

We will protect the Wronged.  We will right the wrongs
We will shine a light on the snake oil and cons
All the distractions and dead cats you throw our way
Will never remove our love. Our resolve will stay.

@redalphababe
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Letter from the EU no 3 – a question of identity?ó

Dear Friends,

As the 2019 comes to a close, I write this letter from a beautiful part of the Mediterranean.  The sun has been shining a fair bit and the catastrophic general election results feel a long way away for now.  I don’t expect a miracle.  Johnson has his majority in parliament so it would require a really big fat miracle to stop him getting his withdrawal agreement Bill through even with the pretty disgraceful wholesale dumping of previous undertakings he had made to “protect workers rights” and to help refugee children.   I fear this is but a sign of bigger dumping of rights to come.

How do I feel?  I normally write about the impacts of these things on others, but I am going to dwell just for today on my emotional self.   I lived my entire life, bar my first 3 years, in the UK.  My siblings were all a fair few years older, I was, you might say, a late hatch.  My brothers and sister had memories of Spain; I have none from actually living there.

I always found thinking about my identity challenging.  I think I do have an innate Spanishness, but I also look at lots of things with very British eyes. My humour is a mix of the love of the fatalistic and dark with an admiration for clever use of the English language and irony.  When amongst Spanish people I feel my hispanic blood, with British I feel the Britishness.  This strange mix inside me has led to some confused thinking at times.  When Theresa May used the term “citizen of nowhere”, as offensive as that phrase is especially in the context she used it, there is a little nugget of fear in my gut that that is how people may see me, neither one thing or another. Whoever I am with, I always feel I must hold back some part of myself to be accepted.  My identity is wrapped up in my blood and genes, the land of my birth and the land of my life plus some other family dynamics.

In 2005 I decided to naturalise as a British Citizen.  I saw this as a way to settle some things in my head.  I felt the need to make a commitment to the UK.  There were crazy practical reasons like the fact that I could not vote in the UK where I paid my tax and where it affected my life, but I could, if I so wished, register to vote in Spain where I had never lived. This seemed just silly. But really this important decision was only possible because I had the backstop that I was a European and in legal terms a European Citizen and therefore my rights were protected.  My EU citizenship allowed me to resolve how all the confusing jigsaw pieces of the essence of me fitted together comfortably, peacefully.  I could make the commitment to my British part because the Spanish part could never be removed.

As we approach the 31st January, I will have a grieving process to go through as I lose my EU citizenship.  Spain does not allow dual nationality.  I don’t know at this point if I will be able to resolve this without losing my British passport but frankly, I am as angry today as I was on the 24th June 2016.  I don’t want to choose between the essential parts which make me the person I am, and I don’t see why I should have to.

I currently find the way forward unclear and muddled.  We have talked seriously for some years about relocating to Spain to be on the European mainland, an experience we thought we wanted to do for a while at least, but now I don’t know what the implications would be of that and my thinking is foggy and the ensuing indecision is something I will have to work through. 

Apart from everything else, I worry about my beloved United Kingdom and whether it is actually wrong to leave right now instead of fighting for the open and tolerant and modern country it was and could be again,  the place it was heading towards being before the treacherous poison of Brexit swamped its pores whilst malign voices whispered into the ear of ordinary people that the fault of their dissatisfaction lay in their relationships with their neighbours instead of the truth, that it was the whisperers, their landlords who were failing to fix the holes in the roof which let the rain into their lives.

I don’t know the answers yet, that’s a work in progress, but I do know that my feelings about my identity are once more on the table and that makes me sad and angry in equal measure.  What makes me most angry is that what I have temporarily lost is the ability to find a note of hope and optimism to end this letter on. All I can say is that we need to be kind to each other and find a path to forgiveness to vanquish the difficult times ahead.

@redalphababe

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Truth, the Optional Extra

When I was at school, l I was taught that when you cheat the only loser is you.  The morality aside, on a practical level this is sound advice for the important things in life and I feel grateful to have been given this insight from a young age.  Think what would happen if you were a brain surgeon and you had cheated your way through your medical training.   I don’t suppose you would last long before not knowing the difference between cerebrum and cerebellum gets you struck off. If you get somebody else to take your driving test, the first time you run over a pedestrian could make you live to regret your bad choice in life and honesty.

It seems that the Conservative Party, in its current form, went to a different school that never discussed such ethical issues. Cheating has been adopted as a stock feature of their modus operandi for some time now.  Johnson, Gove and Cummings were all middle of the Leave EU lawbreaking debacle.  We must conclude that given their leading positions in the campaign, these things were within their sphere of influence and therefore they must bear some responsibility.  Ian Lucas, Wrexham MP, who was on a committee examining these issues, in his departing speech, was very clear they had all failed to answer for their actions or certain knowledge that the campaign had cheated its way to a small majority for Leave. From deceitful Facebook ads served up to unsuspecting targets whose data had been illegally mined, to diverting funds which were an overspend to the BeLeave campaign, they have all indulged in pretending that was “nothing to do with us guv”.

Borsi with a glass talking rubbish

Lies about the money.  Lies about the foreigners. Lies about the benefits of giving up our EU membership.  The floor of the houses of parliament is littered with the ashes of all the broken promises of the leave campaign and May’s government and now under Boris Johnson, the cheating continues at an even greater pace.  The Election campaign is one of the dirtiest I can ever remember in my 51 years on this earth.  The Conservative Party has lied and lied and lied, they have doctored videos of Starmer, they have hidden important reports from the public including the contents of the Russia report which ex Tory Dominic Grieve is very concerned about.   They had a Facebook advert removed and the other night they renamed their blue tick Press Office account to pretend they were a fact checking account. They have paid for keywords on google relating to the Labour manifesto so they can point people to a website they created in order to attack it.  Interestingly we had a company do that to us once, they paid for a short phrase which happened to be our company name and interfering with our site traffic as a result.  Thankfully it was one of our suppliers, so we were able to get them to stop, their media agency hadn’t realised, but it’s a very sneaky trick to deliberately and we were furious.

Cheating or trying to get one over on political rivals with dirty tactics – it’s all designed to steal your vote.  But, you say, all politicians lie.  Well yes I suppose they do in relatively small ways and I think they definitely have a history of U-turns and failing to carry through manifesto commitments, but answer honestly, is it normal for them to lie about Russian interference in our elections, or to cheat in referendums and general elections?  Is it normal for a politician to deny their presence in a hospital is a photo opportunity to a patient’s dad when the cameras are literally pointed at them whilst having the conversation?  How big do the lies have to be before everybody wakes up and starts to take responsibility for their own vote in the light of all this.

The UK is a nation which was united in its outrage when Maradona scored his Hand of God goal.  They rightly saw the chance for England to win the World Cup had been stolen.  The UK is a nation which was united in its shock at the expenses scandal when, amongst many other similar revelations, a Tory MP paid for his duck house out of taxpayer’s funds.  The nation rightly saw this fiddling as a theft of their money. Nobody shrugged and said well “whatever”.  Sadly, something seems to have been lost since then.

The polls appear to show Boris Johnson’s lies are just being completely ignored by half the public. I think we have to blame several people, not just politicians but also the press which for 3 years have mostly blanked the cheating that occurred during 2016 or they have echoed the Brexit lie, that “both sides cheated”.  Both sides did not cheat but the myth persists.  Ignoring the law breaking in 2016 set the scene for a normalisation of big fat whopping lies and I fear that voters have been totally inured to it just at the very moment we have to contend with Boris Johnson, the Truth Optional Prime Minister, trying to get a majority so he can continue with his mad Brexit.

Moreover if ALL the opposition parties had also picked up on the work that dedicated journalists like Carole Cadwalladr have done at a higher level at a much earlier point, we would, I feel, have been in a very different place right now.  For too long we heard the respect the vote argument and that has really damaged us.

But now there is no excuse as we see with our own eyes fresh evidence of lying and cheating by what is left of the Tory Party after they got rid of most of the honourable MPs they had on their back benches.  Broadcasters have finally realised they are supposed to challenge politicians and are doing so quite well actually.   Yet the polls show people are not abandoning Tories despite this and I wonder if this is because they want to be on the winning side, and they think Johnson will win.

I would say to those still thinking of voting for a man who cheats to win, he will cheat on them too in the end.  Johnson, Gove, Cleverley all of them, they will be alright Jack.  They will have their power, their jobs, their money.  Ordinary voters will be the people who pay for their hard Brexit.  Our children will lose rights.  Our communities will suffer as the promises about money for the regions replacing the EU Regional funding ends up consigned as a distant dream.  In fact I haven’t heard anybody mention regional funds lately.  Those 40 hospitals, well, given there is no timetable laid out do we really believe that they will ever materialise?  The Russian Report, why, if it shows there is no evidence of interference in our democratic processes, does Johnson not release it?

But I come back to where I started, on this idea that when you cheat, you only cheat yourself.  Well, perhaps my teachers didn’t tell me the whole story because in the case of Johnson and his cronies, we are in danger of allowing them to not only get away with it, but prosper from their lies.  Life may in time deliver a form of natural justice to them but by then our economy will be trashed and we will be greatly diminished on the world stage as hard Brexit bites in every part of our lives.  We simply cannot wait on the offchance that random fate will intervene on our behalf.  We have only a handful of tools available to us right now in this hateful and dirty election.  We must deny these people a majority and in our first past the post system this is what we can do.

  1. Call out the lies. Don’t let it pass.  If somebody you know, family or colleague or friend shares a Johnson post you know to be incorrect or repeats a myth, tell them.  Calmly and politely and gently challenge the myths. Small conversations with your mates could make all the difference.
  2. Make sure everybody you know is registered to vote and cajole them to get out and vote on the day. Talk through the issues with them.  There are nearly a third of the electorate who are not registered, they have been called the Unheard Third.  Support campaigns such as this website which gives useful advice as to how we can persuade people to use their voices.
  3. We must look hard at our own constituency and consider whether Tactical Voting is going to help us. Do the research. There are several sites, look at them all. In fact somebody just gave me a link to this one which compares all the tactical voting sites at once so you can see If there is consensus emerging as to which candidate can best beat the Brexiter candidates.  Keep checking too because all the sites add data from polling as the election campaign goes on, some of the opinions may change.

Tactical sites are good but there is no perfect science to this, and local knowledge is also useful when deciding if you aren’t sure. Talk to your local pro EU group and see if they can give you any further insights.    Whilst you are talking to your local pro EU group, please consider giving them a hand.  Most have ongoing voter registration campaigns and other initiatives running at the moment. They will be grateful for any assistance you can give.   They can probably put you in touch with the right people if you want to directly help a particular candidate campaign.  There is a lot of local cross-party support for campaigning going on in target seats by pro EU activists.

We have come this far together, my friends, from being a disparate bunch of baffled sad or angry people, to a massive grass roots movement determined to put the wrongs of 2016 right,  We have given up ridiculous numbers of hours of our personal time to fight the Brexit Beast, neglected our lives in other areas in some cases because we believe it is so disastrous.  Why throw that hard work away on partisan rows.   if we genuinely want to win this round so we can stay in the game to stop Brexit, we are up against a group of people who are so desperate to get their Brexit they will cheat and lie over and over to get what they want and its only by working together that we have a hope of making sure they are stopped.

@redalphababe

Tories, Tactics, Tribalism

Looking in on twitter there seems a lot of anxiety around which is understandable given the fix we have been put in by our politicians. The tribalism which accompanies elections in a first past the post system has been unleashed as the parties and their activists square up to each other. This was always going to be the problem with an election.

The only good thing so far is that the Tories who are currently running their party into the gutter, are failing to hide their true natures and creating a whirlwind of sleaze and lies around themselves. No matter how hard they try, Johnson and his top snakeoil sales team just can’t help tripping over their own egos. They have driven out some really sensible moderates who would normally be ushered in to try and explain things calmly to the nation and gloss over the various faux pas of their colleagues. But now we just glaze over when they send someone in to double down on their nonsense because it’s always an over confident self serving ERG rep.

Those of us who remember the Tory sleaze debacle in the 90s will remember that once these dropped balls start, they keep bouncing back in their faces. But as awful as these people and their offering are, we do well not to be complacent. There will be many Brexit weary voters who will be wooed by the lies of getting the B word done. So if, like me, you put stopping Brexit above any other political consideration, this is where we must concentrate.

Keep calling,out the deal, keep calling out the false promises, keep the pressure on. It does us no good to get embroiled in arguments with other remainers and distracts us from our best weapon, the failure of May, Johnson and their cabinets. They lost every vote virtually because they failed to persuade parliament to support them. That’s not because there was something wrong with parliament, it’s because their Brexit policy was a complete failure. For 3.5 years they failed. Theresa May failed to keep her majority by calling an election. She then failed to persuade Johnson and the people who became his ministers or support her Brexit.

Johnson took over and lost nearly every vote. Again he failed to get the support of Parliament and his own colleagues. We need to keep revisiting their failures and their broken promises and yes their cheating. Don’t let it go. Keep talking about it.

As for tactical voting I am all in favour of it. But we must stop getting distracted or angry because parties are campaigning. It’s going to happen and some of it will feel stupid or counter productive. But we have little control over that and only so much energy so let’s try and put it to positive initiatives. We aren’t going to be able to force parties to do everything we want them to do in terms of decisions about who to stand down, and we aren’t going to be able to persuade their most tribal supporters to vote for someone else. Let’s just accept that and concentrate on the people we can persuade.

On the vexed issue of Labour and their Brexit fudge, I have been thinking this through and have an idea. Assuming you want to vote tactically and your best hope for a remain MP in your constituency is a Labour candidate, but you are nervous about a repeat of the 80% rubbish, I suggest that you do the following.

a. Ask them directly if they will honour the promise of a Peoples Vote in all circumstances and

b. If they satisfy you with that answer, put in writing to them that your are supporting them in your constituency because they are promising a Peoples Vote with a remain option and your vote must never be counted by anybody as a pro Brexit vote in any way shape or form. This will keep their minds focused.

The most important thing you can do is talk to friends and family , signpost them to the different Tactical Voting sites if they are unsure what to do and want brexit to go away or end. Bear in mind as polling is done in the campaign, some of the key seats may change in terms of recommendation.

Support your local Pro EU group. We are all doing voter registration drives. If you can help us tap into younger voters too we really need your input.

If you want to campaign and door knock for remain candidates please volunteer. Again local pro EU groups are being given information on who to contact for anybody who wants to campaign for remain candidates. There are key marginals where the pro remain individual with the best chance of winning needs extra pairs of hands. If your pro remain MP is relatively secure maybe you can help in a neighbouring marginal constituency.

But please, if you are outside the tribal bubble like me, don’t waste your time being drawn into arguments with party activists, they aren’t going to be persuaded. Make the case for tactical voting and people can agree or not. Remember if we manage to get a remain parliament and deny Johnson the majority he craves to run rampant with right wing policies and a damaging Brexit which threatens our families and livelihoods, we will all need to work together in a referendum.

Within my own local group in Chester which contains some passionate activists for different parties and also passionate activists who only campaign to stop brexit and not for parties, we are very conscious that we need to come out of the other side of this general election not only intact and together but we need to retain our biggest strength in a referendum, we do not have any party affiliations and we can talk to anybody and it is imperative that stays that way.

Parliament is for the 66 Million

There has been much anger and recrimination this week in the world of politics and the use of inflammatory language came under the spotlight during Boris Johnson’s deeply divisive speech to the House of Commons. His constant use of the word surrender and terms such as traitor bandied about by his ERG MPs and the Brexit/Tory press echoes the kind of language used in death threats to MPs around the country, MPs who either support a peoples vote or have voted against the government. Even MPs such as Antoinette Sandbach have had death threats and abuse simply for opposing a no-deal Brexit having voted for Theresa May’s Deal on every occasion.

Let’s just get rid of the “both sides argument”. It’s absolute nonsense. Only a few months ago Anna Soubry was harassed by a group of men who surrounded and followed her shouting at her. She was prevented from speaking at a rally recently because of threats.

There have been several incidents where street campaigners for the #PeoplesVote and pro EU movement have been verbally and physically abused. 2 personal friends of mine alone have had to endure such incidents and we have seen various other cases caught on camera. Pro EU group SODEM, have campaigned outside the House of Commons for 2 years but it has only been since just before Christmas when far right groups started to appear in small but vocal numbers when we have seen these kinds of incidents against MPs and even journalists start to ramp up.

This group of men and women also, having fashioned themselves with little self-awareness on the french Gilet Jaune movement, were filming themselves having a go at people, getting in their faces, trying to provoke, then using those videos to raise money for themselves, winding up a small group of people vulnerable to their messages into parting with hard cash and using all those terms, traitor, nazi, etc for that end. This all echoes the language used by a man who did in fact murder an MP because he didn’t like what she had to say. No wonder MPs now have panic buttons in their houses.

However, thankfully, all these acts are committed by a very small number of people who are in effect massive anti-democrats despite their protestations to the contrary. The overwhelming majority of people coming to our street stalls are on the whole polite and respectful even when they disagree passionately with us. They recognise we are exercising our democratic right to campaign for something we want to change.

The biggest irony is these other anonymous cowards who throw bricks through windows or write poison pen letters are angry because MPs are doing the very job we pay them to do. The people are not 17.4 million people who put a cross against a binary option in what was, legally speaking, just an opinion poll in 2016. This is a complete nonsense and I am extremely tired of the use of this number to try and silence us. It will not. The people are #66Million and the job of Parliament is to scrutinise and approve, or not, legislation which is in the best interest of the 66 million. ALL the people regardless of what or who they voted for. Their interests are protected by their MPs who are chosen to listen and research the evidence and understand it and vote accordingly, not to to be their delegates.

Something else undermines the 17 million argument. In 2017 the public saw fit to remove the Conservative majority. This was an indication that they did not approve wholeheartedly of Theresa May’s approach and red lines. If they had they would have returned a Tory majority wouldn’t they? Yet we ended up even more confused about what the will of the people was, not less. But Theresa May pressed on regardless and here we are with a multiple of people claiming they know what the will of the people is. Who knows what people voted for, it changes with every day which passes if you listen to the ERG and the Poison Pens all of whom love to move those goal posts.

So what can we cling to? We can rely on our democracy which allows groups like those of us in the Remain Movement to campaign peacefully to make the arguments that are at the core of our unity. We campaign for what we believe is in the interests of 66 million but we do so by following the rules, by making the arguments that make sense, by using evidence, by lobbying our representatives. We campaign in good faith and peace and yes in passion too but never in violence.

But there is something else we must cling to. We must continue to support our parliament in trying to find the best route which is in the interests of the entire population. We must stop dividing the people and most importantly, politicians must stop dividing the people and we must encourage them to this end. Their job is to put the good of their entire constituency foremost in their decision making process.

There are many, many MPs who are now doing their jobs properly. They are scrutinising the executive, an executive who now wants to overstep its authority in order to bully them into following it’s will – not the people’s will, the ERG will. Yes parliament voted against May’s deal but this is because considering everything, they deemed the deal was not right. Even the ERG voted against it. This is not a parliament blocking brexit, this is a parliament doing it’s job. If what the executive is trying to do threatens the well-being of their constituents their responsibility is to stop this, not enable it, and it doesn’t matter what their constituents voted for or whether they voted at all in 2016.

If the executive are unable to offer an acceptable brexit route, that means the executive’s solution is poor, below par, substandard. Politicians should be able to carry out parliamentary business in light of this without fear of danger so they can serve us all. They should also be able to do that without commentators like Brendan O’Neill appearing on a BBC news programme inciting riots for Brexit. They should be able to do that without being pursued down the street by threatening men representing Leave means Leave. Even as I write this, the radio plays the voice of men talking up the idea of rioting by people who voted leave. This has no bearing on the reality around the country. Remain events attract 100s of 1000s of attendees with no trouble and no arrests. Leave rallies attract a few thousand at most, often only a few hundred, and the only violence has been seen from a tiny proportion of men and women of violence in their fringe groups. The country cannot be held to ransom by this tiny group of extremists. Likewise we as campaigners should be able to work using the rules and all democratic means in the interests of 66 million, which is the abiding emotion that binds us and drives us, without fear of abuse.

If MPs, whose full time job it is to study and understand the detail of proposed legislation cannot actually agree which version of Brexit is in the interests of their constituents after 3 years, this begs the question “Is there a brexit which is good for their constituents?” If they still can’t agree on that, they must be allowed to determine a path or mechanism which will resolve that question, taking into account the best interests of the entire population, preferably and unfortunately a referendum. On the other hand if we allow MPs to be bullied or frightened into voting or supporting a particular piece of legislation by government which will damage their constituents and the country, that will be the day democracy dies.

The people are #66million.