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.

A Life in Business, Tomb Raider and Brexit – Revisited

I wrote this in August 2018. Not a great deal has changed. We are still in the EU and long may it continue. For many people it is already too late. businesses have moved. $1 trillion is leaving Britain because of Brexit. I personally know good people who have already lost their jobs and are struggling to get work in the supply chains for the automotive industry. I know people who have sold up or retired because they just can’t face the coming storms. I wrote this to give you some understanding of what it is like to run a small business and updated some information on the numbers of businesses in the UK from the Governments statistics. It’s interesting to note that numbers HAVE dropped since 2017.

I sometimes think a life in business is like playing Tomb Raider.  It’s a strange analogy, I know.  Having spent more hours than I should have sneaking onto my son’s computer in the noughties there are some similarities so bear with me whilst I try to explain my logic.

When you start, the first couple of levels seem easy.  You are well signposted, there are plenty of instructions, there’s lots of information available to guide you and give you some clues about which direction to explore in.  You can, if you have been cautious, afford a few false starts before you have fully committed yourself heart and soul into the game ahead.  Most importantly, you get a huge buzz out of every problem you solve and feel happy as you work your way up, around and through and over all the obstacles towards your goal.

It’s not long before you get on to the harder levels.  There are fewer pointers here. You have an idea of where you want to go but in the words of Oasis, “all the roads we have to walk are winding, and all the lights that lead us there are blinding “.   Every new level brings with it unfamiliar territory. The problems are harder to solve, the obstacles trickier. There are sabre toothed tigers and baddies with pistols around the corner threatening to end your game. Along the way you acquire new skills and weapons.  You make mistakes you lose a life you try again having learned from your mistakes.  But here is where the analogy departs for a while because suddenly your business is your life, it has become  almost your entire life and now you are immersed the consequences of the decisions you must make are very real.   

I am not an academic or an expert or an economist.  All I can offer are my personal thoughts having been a co-director of a small business for 20 years.  In fact, I have been involved in small businesses since I left university in the late 80s.  During all those years we have seen many things. I have experienced dealing with bailiffs at the door and conversely been in the fortunate position of being able to help when others were at a similar low point. There have been times when we had to sell everything we could to help us through cash flow squeezes or borrowed heavily on credit cards to make month end and times when making money was easy and we have been able to happily reinvest in the business to expand and move it forward.  We have had the privilege of building a team of people who do their best for us every day. We have been able to borrow to invest and taken many risks and chances, always calculated but sometimes dicey even so.  Some paid off some did not.  This is life. We make decisions, some are right, some are wrong, some work out, some not so much.  Just as in a computer game though, we only have so many business lives.  Unlike Lara, we can’t reboot and replay the game once all our chances have gone. 

Here is the thing I have learned.  However stable a business is, nearly all companies are really only 3 to 6 months away from annihilation.  From time to time paperwork will cross my desk from a liquidator winding up a customer or supplier and I always notice the same thing.  The implosion after the crisis point is pretty dramatic and rapid.  

There are several reasons why a crisis can occur.  Bang – a change in government policy.  Slap – a loss of an important contract. Biff  – the most profitable product is now out of fashion.  Punch – a miscalculation of stock.  Crash – a sudden dramatic move in currency exchange rates. Kick – a rise in interest rates when over-borrowed.  Zap – a stupid misjudgement on an expansion plan.  

This is not an exhaustive list but any of these things can happen to any SME with fatal consequences for their business.  The liquidators move in.  Suppliers switch to self-protect mode.  All the value everyone thought was there ebbs away and dissipates like Lara’s energy bar, as the customer base drifts off to competitors, stock is marked down, customers find reasons not to pay their outstanding bills and the accountants and bankers who make their living out of the dead bones of SMEs take their cut.  Long standing contacts distance themselves uncomfortably, embarrassed to admit a superstitious fear that failure could be catching.   I look at the updates from these liquidators and I shake my head with sorrow as it could be any of us.  I doubt I am the only one who sees it this way. 

So you see, the life of a small business is  fragile.  We plan, we build reserves, we look at the prevailing conditions, the things out of our control, and we try to make sensible decisions, we hedge against our vulnerabilities where we can, we look for opportunities to get ahead and hope they pay off.  Here is where I come around in a roundabout way to Brexit.  The fragility of SMEs means we are heading for some extremely difficult times with Brexit looming. Remember my list of potential obstacles?  Well for a proportion of the 5.7million SMEs and even some of the large businesses, Brexit, any flavour of Brexit on the menu, will mete out a number of those blows simultaneously.  The companies affected won’t so much be rolling with the punches as knocked unconscious before they have had a chance to even buy gloves.  We could do some contingency planning, we are doing what we can, but when there is a finite amount of time and resource and personnel we need to know roughly what we are planning for otherwise we may as well just buy a lottery ticket.  

If you voted Leave, you – yes I do mean each and every one of you –  have helped to put my business in harm’s way, but not just mine.  A great many SMEs will face existential challenges because of a direct effect on their EU sales, disruption in the supply chain, an increase in their input costs or less directly because of a downturn, which will most definitely come, leading to cuts in their customers spending in the short to medium term.  2 years on and I still have not seen a convincing reason which explains why we are voluntarily following this insane path.  There is no benefit to me and mine, my staff or my business and after asking the question multiple times, nobody credible has ever been able to cite a specific example of a benefit to my business or my life.

My partner and I are both from working class backgrounds, we started out with no contacts and no capital but lots of bravado.  Over the years we have adapted, diversified  and changed our business model to suit changing business environments.  We have battled and fought and sought the tenacity we needed to keep ourselves in the game.  We have reinvested our profits, taken chances, learned from our errors, some of them bad ones.  Some days I look at the uncertainties ahead and the idea of giving up, selling what we can and going away somewhere regardless of the consequences crosses my mind for a moment.  But I know we are not quitters and we will fight on, one problem at a time, one obstacle at a time.  

For many in business however, Brexit might just become like one of the nightmarish corridors in Tomb Raider Level 20 with the jets of fire, a sword of Damocles and a giant boulder rolling behind. There will be too many obstacles coming together in too short a time to negotiate successfully and no amount of stockpiled medi-packs will get us through to the next level.  Don’t be surprised if some players decide to just quietly turn the computer off and take up yoga.

The TakeOver – Don’t Wait too Long,

Without a doubt, we are seeing that the entryism into the Conservative Party by Brexit party and UKIP supporters, to push through the ERG and its agenda for the hardest of hard Brexits, has now taken hold.

How can Conservative MPs stand by and watch 21 of their colleagues, some of whom are extremely well respected across the country beyond party allegiances, be summarily ejected from their own party and feel forced to stand down from their jobs. How can they stand to do and say nothing? What is a party for if it is no longer reflecting a set of values which you can subscribe to. Even his own brother has felt compelled to remove himself from responsibility for what is being done.

Jess Phillips MP accused MPs of complaining in the tea rooms whilst saying nothing where it counts. Some of these same Tories consistently take every opportunity to attack their labour colleagues for splits and other problems and failures in the opposition party but now when their own BIG test has come, they have failed, failed failed.

Any Tory MP against No-deal who does not speak out now against what Johnson/Cummings are doing – successfully completing the takeover of the authoritarian-loving , populist right of the party, fail to fill the primary duties of their public office. Even if they don’t consider putting country first, they are not even putting their own party first. They are aiding and abetting it’s metamorphosis into something much darker and alien to the genuine values of moderates everywhere.

This is a warning you must heed. When you have given your tacit approval with your silence to what is being done in your name, further down the line you may come to a point you cannot,with clear conscience, cross to follow your leader, and you will feel compelled to speak out and take a stand. Don’t leave it too late. Soon there will be nobody to back you up or defend you. There will be nobody left with any power to speak out for you!

Moreover the public, your constituents, won’t be taken in forever. Sooner or later they will ask you why you failed THEM. They will be far less polite than the man who said Please Leave My Town.

The time to speak the truth is NOW.

Where does it end?

It started with the demonisation of the lowest paid and those on benefits. The poverty porn TV industry, maybe well intentioned in concept, simply depicted the extremes as the norm, complex lives and poverty carefully edited and presented in a simple way for judgemental public consumption. “They can’t be that badly off they have a mobile phone and a packet of fags”.

We saw the effects of austerity, the bedroom tax, making lives difficult for the disabled and sick whilst those in the top echelons of banking who caused the 2008 worldwide crash with their use of our economic system as a personal global casino seemed to simply bounce back and get even further ahead than they were when they started. No penalties for these guys.

Then the summer of 2015 came, I remember it so well, I had been gradually more and more alarmed to see the dehumanisation of refugees as the crisis of the summer unfolded. Cameron talked of people swarming. The hysterical newspaper headlines caused unnecessary fear and terror in the hearts of people, a fear fanned by commentators of hate and contrarians on tv radio and social media. We all know who they are. Complex human stories distilled down into a binary presentation for judgemental public consumption.

All this against the backdrop of Cameron running around talking to the EU at the behest of the ERG in his own party. Having promised his eurosceptics progress, he brought home concessions they all howled at, but they were always going to howl. That was the point of them. If they did not shake their fists angrily from the sidelines in tandem with Farage and UKIP what was the point of the them? Cameron was trapped by his own cleverclogs game playing. Having unexpectedly won a majority in the election and having pandered to the right of his party he was cornered and forced us into the EU referendum we didn’t need or want.

Well you know the rest of the story. Disenfranchisement, lying, cheating and hatemongering got the brextremists over the line, just.

So now we are here. After 3 years, it’s become so crystal clear that leaving the EU is a rather stupid and damaging idea that the Brexit cultists terrified of losing their precious have now doubled down and turned it into a mission of brexit purism and national do or die and played into the the darkest parts of the our society, exploiting divisions, exploiting peoples prejudices, exploiting people’s apathy and boredom and getting in the way of sensible debate. They have filled parliament with doom and gloom, paralysed it because it is torn apart by the reality of what is right for the country and the angry emails from constituents who think the EU stopped them having their fish and chips wrapped in newspaper, or maybe constituents who just want to stop seeing foreigners on their bus but they don’t want to admit it and seize on the Brexit lies about bananas to cover up their their own lack of self awareness.

There is no form of brexit which is good for us as a nation. Everybody in Parliament knows that. Some don’t care because it is good for them or they see it as a route to something they want. Thats the bottom line.

The cultists look to the USA and point and say what a wonderful deal we can do there. But look now. A presidential rally descended into a fascfest of chanting the most famous racist trope every. No more dogwhistles there. Only naked racism and prejudice. I hope the Americans get a grip of this slide into this type of politics but the point is we have absolutely no power or say in that, we have no votes there. We have no influence no matter what the Faragists and ERG say. We have no idea where the US are going or where they will end up. We are not partners. We are not members of a trading bloc with them. We have history but it seems to me the current occupant of the White House isn’t much interested in history.

The US president has shown himself to be unpredictable when dealing with other nations. His administration is America First in instinct. There could not be a worse administration to be trying to do an FTA with. Let’s be honest if our negotiators couldn’t even negotiate a Withdrawal agreement with the EU which parliament is happy with, I am unsure why brexiters, particularly the no-deal adherents, are so sure they will be hugely successful in getting an advantageous deal from a world power which is interested only in growing its own power and influence and domestic employment and wealth.

No-deal Brexit is a failure, it’s the manifestation of the weakness of the position brexiters themselves put us in trying to chase rainbows down for that illusory pot of gold. My guess is when talking to the US, the negotiations would go on for some years and in the end we will have to give away too much in return for too little and it will either fail or we will give in to truly the worst deal in history. At that point we will be wondering why we left the EU where we had influence and voting rights and a part in historic decisions about our European direction and protection of our liberal values in the first place.

It’s often said where America goes we follow. There are concerning signs that we are going somewhere we don’t want to go. Steve Bray the peaceful Anti Brexit activist was told by Mark Francois MP that October the 31st would be his “death warrant”. The Sodem protest was threatened, disrupted and damaged by EDL and Robinson supporters and only today Steve tweeted that a man thought it was okay to tell him he should be taken out and shot. There is a wholesale disregard for the adage, language matters, influenced by what is said by big names on our screens every night on the news and in our social media timelines by blue ticks, amplified by an army of bots automated and partly automated paid for by god knows who.

https://twitter.com/snb19692/status/1151873155172118528?s=21

There are questions about why Sajid Javid was excluded from the state banquet against the norm even though he is Home Secretary which even now have not been satisfactorily addressed. Boris Johnson the likely next PM refused to give support to the US ambassador after those diplomatic communications were released? Why? I don’t think it was incompetence. He knew that question was going to come up and therefore he and his team must have prepared for what he was going to say. It was deliberate. He didn’t want to be pushing back against Trump.

Many EU27 citizens were denied a vote in the EU elections through overly complex bureaucratic procedures which were unnecessary. Why?

All this makes me feel more strongly than ever that we have to Stop Brexit. This will send out a message to those who just want to push us around more and more and turn the world into a series of nativist enclaves that they cannot win by lying and cheating and threatening and discriminating. It will send a message that peaceful political disagreement and campaigning is part of democracy. This is not a time for us to give up. This is not a time to fight amongst ourselves either. It was bad enough seeing air raid sirens used in a Brexit political rally, I don’t want end up seeing the burning torches and hear racist chants at a British mainstream political rally because some Remain organisers were scrapping like children and messed up our morale. If we don’t stop ourselves going down this disastrous path, where will it end?

This is a time for us to be cementing our place within Europe, using our history , our partnerships and influence and strength there as a protection against the poison of extreme nationalism. This is a time for us to be celebrating the protections we have created together in the way we run our lives, protections for workers, for consumers, for citizens. It’s a time to embrace the liberal and consensus building nature of the EU. Yes there are some in there who try and bend it into something else but the spirit of the EU is stronger than ever, it is a project of peace and partnership and friendship. It’s not just a trading bloc, its a life. The EU is not something outside of us, we are the EU and holding on tight to our friends and partners is important in a world where the most powerful man in it is so unpredictable. Instead we are stuck in this ridiculous Westminster political paralysis. Only stopping Brexit will do. Only stopping brexit will allow us to breathe and rebuild again.

Please support the march tomorrow, whether you go to the march or whether you donate or whether you simply look out for the pictures and posts and share them with your friends and your MPs. We need to stand firm together. It’s a pro EU march, its a march for changing the conversation and language BACK to that of responsible liberal open internationalist politics.

Imagine

Imagine This.

It’s the 31st December. The Prime Minister has failed to get a deal through Parliament by the 31st October. The Opposition Parties have been so busy scrapping with eachother they forgot to do a deal in time to stop us falling out of the EU without a deal.

The Tory No-deal Architects rubbed their hands in glee and have made a fortune in their currency speculation activities. Their hedge fund investments which gambled against economy have grown exponentially so they are smiling to themselves when they get up in the morning.

The pound has plummeted. The FTSE is all over the place. Big business triggers it’s contingencies. Prices go up. Wages don’t. Small Business has rising costs and poor access to the supplies they need which is hampering their ability to function. Spending by consumers has plummeted as people are worried about their jobs and incomes.

Lorries started stacking up in Kent immediately we fell out of the EU. After the initial madness a system was cobbled together but goods are still extremely slow to get through and despite the stockpiling there are problems in most supply chains in most industries. The remaining car manufacturers in the UK trigger their final contingency plans and start issuing the last of the redundancy notices.

On the 1st of November the PM’s office immediately had to dispatch a massive team of civil servants and diplomats to negotiate emergency access to all the frameworks that we have fallen out of but not yet built for ourselves. This work is ongoing. The news reports there is still more to do.

Parliament is in uproar. There is no business being done or debated which is not to do with Brexit. Every cabinet meeting is only talking about the problems directly associated with brexit. 50% of our civil servants have been despatched around the world to try and do quick deals with countries. This work is also ongoing.

Northern Ireland is frightened. Scotland is furious. Wales is baffled at the part it played in this unholy shitshow.

Some things haven’t changed. There are still people living in tents in shop doorways. There are still food banks which are a bit short of food donations due to shortages in shops and personal stockpiling. Disabled and sick people are still being badly assessed for PIP. Wages are not going up in line with living costs. The NHS has not been able to address any of its staff shortage problems. The Care System sees no end in sight. The new immigration rules are not helping to get their positions filled from anywhere in the world when migrants can do better elsewhere. The brain drain which had quietly started over 3 years before is now openly visible as parents wish their most talented young people well and help them find solid opportunities elsewhere. There is no parliamentary or government activity to address any of these areas in any meaningful way.

Racism is still alive and well. The far right have been emboldened and the brexit party is planning to stand candidates in the next election to further empower themselves. More angry powerless people means more people vulnerable to their anti immigrant message. The vicious circle works in their favour. This is lowest common denominator politics in full flow.

The news every night is about brexit. Why did we brexit? What will happen next? How is the government going to solve the brexit crisis? What about the supply problems? When are we going to see a stronger pound. When is the USA going to give us a deal. How many years of negotiations are ahead of us? Every documentary is about some aspect. Government ministers fill our screens with the brexit platitudes and keep repeating the mantra that this is the will of the people so now they are just getting on with it.

Nobody with any power is talking about climate change.

100s of 1000s of people take to the streets in rage. There are protests every day somewhere in the country. The only contingency planning that was properly completed by government was security planning in the event of riots. There are a few riots. They are stomped on by government heavy handedly as, given the numbers, they daren’t let it get it get worse as brexit keeps on biting and hurting more and more people’s lives. The opposition parties are baffled when the anger is equally directed at them. Every night on the news their message is that this is the will of the people and they tried their best but they weren’t in power so what could they do? This isn’t washing with folk though. Politicians cry it’s labours fault, its Lib Dems fault, its Greens fault, its change UKs fault its the Tories fault. Their shameless appeals to vote for them are just like pointlessly poking at the electorate with a sharp stick.

We clink our glasses to see the new year in with heavy hearts and fear about the continuing degradation of our political system which has completely forgotten it’s there to solve our problems not to make them for us.

Its all a Nightmare right? Well Now Imagine this instead!

It’s the 31st of December. On the 31st of October sensible people in parliament worked together and forced the government into revoking Article 50. Instead the government has set up a 2 year commission to work out if there is a kind of brexit that could be advantageous to the UK and that can be realistically negotiated and implemented without damaging our interests and thoroughly evidenced to this effect. If they find one there will be a referendum suggested. It’s a small team put on this commission. Any referendum would be existing membership versus whatever vision it comes up with. The new PM had failed to get any meaningful concessions on the WA and had failed to get any existing withdrawal agreement through parliament.

In response a few tens of 1000s of people turned up to protest in London. There were pockets of nastiness and violence but the numbers weren’t big enough to stop the overwhelming majority of citizens around the country from heaving a huge sigh of relief.

The moment Revoke was announced the pound soared back upwards. The FTSE stabilised and on the whole strengthened steadily. Companies and government stopped stockpiling and gradually all supplies of medicine and goods went back to normal flows. Brexit was no longer on the news every night.

There was a huge media feature on homelessness. The Government announced a cross party initiative to address the issues of housing needs in the UK. There is work being done on how to improve economic growth, training and recruitment in the NHS and they are once again busy talking about inequality, equality in the workplace, taxation and foreign policy. Parliament is once again working actively on all the issues which affect peoples lives.

Our MPs, after an initial flurry of angry letters from people who wanted no-deal or some other kind of brexit are now gradually starting to see more normal post bags and are able to concentrate on helping their individual constituents more effectively. The feeling of constant crisis and heat has been removed completely from our political environment. There are still some extremely abusive emails but these are now easy to report and ignore. They are also getting many more thoughtful letters on a wide range of issues, as more people have woken up to political engagement and want to communicate with their MPs to make the UK a better place.

Investment decisions which were on hold are finally made. All sense of business uncertainty has been lifted. Whatever else happens politically in a general election with taxation or change of government etc compared to Brexit this will only every be something that business can easily adapt to. The entire basic framework on which business is done day to day will remain roughly the same. They have bigger fish to fry anyway. Structural problems in various sectors can be viewed and addressed by business with clarity, without the constant white noise of brexit interfering with their thinking.

Yes many people were and still are angry and threaten never to vote again. But as the weeks go on, and people around them are starting to smile again and they don’t hear the word brexit on the news and new jobs are announced as firms feel able to invest in expansion plans instead of contingency plans, they start to feel secretly relieved too. They laugh at the self deprecating jokes along with everybody else and they don’t know it yet, but this time next year they will quietly wonder why they voted for brexit in the first place.

The racists are still there of course, but the unexpected power that Brexit gave them has been undermined. Their voices are still loud but their platform is broken. The toxic right of politics is still attracting certain kinds of people who’s view of the world is rather narrow, but as the population ages, just as with the Conservatives, their most fertile and effective audience at the ballot box will decline. We are starting to patch up the damage done to our relationships with the EU27 citizens amongst us who have been treated so appallingly.

The EU is doing work on the climate change crisis. We are proudly playing our part in that with our partners. Via the EU we are also continuing to address the problems of Tax Evasion and money laundering. The Revoke decision has given a new sense of energy and hope to the progressive parties and their voters right across the EU. Politicians are keen to embrace the optimism.

Life is getting back to normal but a new mass of motivated, politically engaged, intelligent people, experienced in campaigning for change are looking at ways of how they can support a our democratic systems so the entire population is better represented in parliament and extremes cannot be foisted on us again. We must remain alert to the continuing dangers of the far right and nationalism across the world.

We clink our glasses to see the new year in with a profound sense of relief. We are optimistic for the future. We see the battles are not over but we understand now that complacency is the enemy and our generation will not make this mistake again. We must no longer look away from our problems but seek to solve them together.

That’s more like it.

Imagine this, see this, make it happen.

We need to keep on putting our messages out there. We don’t have to damage ourselves. We can change our minds and Stop Brexit.