Where Have We Been

I watched the excellent hustings for the upcoming EU elections organised by my local pro EU group Chester for Europe in conjunction with Weaver Vale for EU and Eddisbury for EU. It was very interesting and I will probably write and tweet about the detail but as I watched I was dumbfounded to find the most thought provoking and powerful point for me came from the Conservative candidate taking part Sajjad Karim. The panel were asked what question they would pose in the hustings and he had interpreted it as a question to the audience and he said “Where have you been?”. He was of course, referring to the low turnout and lack of interest in the elections of previous years where he and the other pro EU candidates had to face rooms full of angry faragist/ukip/far right types. The anti EU crowd had been whipped up by their leaders who had spotted the public disinterest and saw the MEP route as a neat way to win political power because Westminster politics was not proving easy to conquer for their second rate politicians.

So where were we? Why did we leave a massive vacuum ready to be filled by these wannabe despots who’s tools of the trade are generating hate and anger in their followers. Farage knew what he was selling when he stood in front off that hateful poster – a nod and a wink to the racist tendencies of his target customers. He knew the groundwork had been laid already by the years of headlines and insane stories about Brussels and immigrants and refugees. The language had been carefully cultivated for so long. Gravy trains, being “ruled” by Eurocrats, regulation being “forced” on us, immigrants coming here versus expats going there, stories about bendy bananas, floor cleaner motors and lightbulbs.

Even austerity played into their hands. The worldwide financial crisis in 2008, a complex set of events, triggered across the Atlantic was boiled down and dressed up purely as frivolous overspend by the outgoing Labour government. Do you remember, we were told there were hard choices to make and we were all in it together? Suddenly there was major concern whipped up about the amount of money spent by benefits claimants. Newspaper headlines bore this perception out, printing stories about benefits cheats with lots of children, getting huge houses and spending all day being driven around in taxis whilst smoking. On TV we were subjected to poverty porn. The people inclined to the right could be outraged at the perceived fecklessness and the people inclined to the left could be outraged at the outrage of those at the right. Complex pictures of individual stories were boiled down once again into a simple binary judgement.

Some of these TV programs showed the unfortunate victims of bad housing policies by government angrily spitting at the camera about how foreigners were treated better than “our people”. A view not really challenged by the program makers directly, they would probably say it wasn’t that kind of programme. But new documentaries appeared depicting Eastern Europeans exercising their treaty rights to freedom of movement in a negative and stereotypical light mainly. Newspaper headlines pilloried Eastern Europeans and covered the refugee crisis in 2015 in the most inhuman way and crucially conflating the two issues.

The conditions were perfect. The scene was set. The shit was rolling downhill nicely. Politicians blamed the the tax paying public, who blamed the low paid public and then in the final scene before the referendum all of them blamed the weakest group, the UK residents with no vote, no political voice, working hard, paying their taxes but with no political representation.

Not only were conditions perfect for the referendum, but there was no more time to lose for the wreckers. Within another generation the majority of voters would be younger people more likely to be pro EU, being an EU citizen was as natural to them as breathing, something they took for granted. This generation don’t get their news from the tabloid papers. Thanks to work done by Labour in the 90s and noughties, they are more likely to have gone to college, so unaffected by the tabloid hate of the EU and having been educated in a more diverse environment they are far more likely to enjoy, approve of and stick with their EU citizenship.

All this time it’s true though, we were absent, we were shockingly ignorant of the in-depth workings of the EU. We took our rights for granted. We thought good sense would prevail. But with a good dose of lawbreaking and cheating along the way Leave stoked the fire of division and spoke to the dark side of people’s natures where they take no care to examine nuance and want to accept simple explanations because that’s easier than thinking or because their lives are pretty miserable anyway so they have little to lose. The architects got this toxic brexit and its associated chaos and hate filled disruption of vital Parliamentary work on things to improve the lives of the people over the line.

At the moment all I am hearing is politicians of all parties telling us it’s the fault of those of us with liberal values that we are where we are. When the ugly discussions about immigration started if we tried to point out the illogical and sometimes immoral position of those spouting anti immigration views we are told we should address peoples “legitimate views” time and again. We had years of the cries “we can’t talk about immigration” when we talked about nothing but. Are the politicians right? Was it my fault when it is they who have refused to tell people the truth? Should I have challenged every single little bit of casual racism or poverty bashing or EU bashing in my life? Well I think there is something in that and I will put my hand up to my share of responsibility on this point. Frankly though we don’t want to go around in our lives having arguments with strangers we meet who are spouting rubbish – thats what twitter is for, but we can influence those around us to grow up with responsible views stemming from critical thinking, in particular our children and families. I am proud to say I have played my part in that kind of intervention at least.

Taking our EU membership for granted is also something that i put my hand up to. Lack of proper engagement at previous EU elections for example, not informing myself more thoroughly was all a huge mistake and when I came to campaign in the 2016 referendum I could have been more effective if I had known even a fraction of what I know now. All this is on me and whether you shoulder a share of that responsibility yourselves is for you to decide.

At the same time let’s not get carried away with the gaslighting that seems to have become the way politicians deal with everything nowadays. The biggest fattest failure is that of those who we actually pay to sit in Westminster, those who represent us and make the legislation that has led us to where we are now. Sajjad Karim was right to ask the question “where were you” but actually the question should have been directed to his own party and the other parties in Westminster who have indulged and appeased the extreme right and used the EU as a convenient body to blame for their own policy failures. Even local authorities and local politicians have used the “it ain’t us guv its the EU innit” time and again. The phrase health and safety gone mad was seized on so local politicians could shrug their shoulders instead of explaining honestly and precisely why certain things are done or decided.

Where were these politicians with their clear explanations of what was being done in the name of country in the EU. I do not blame our excellent committed hard working European MEPs for a moment. They have been used and abused and ignored by their own parties particularly since 2010. I have no idea why they are even loyal to the big two parties. Because Westminster does not want to talk about the excellent work the EU does, or put it another way, the excellent work WE do with our partners in the EU, the press therefore aren’t interested.

The only party which ever puts their MEPs up on our screens is the Farage Circus, old UKIP and his latest creation, an empty hole of nothing but slogans and negativity. Even the BNP were given a platform on Question Time a few years ago. If our pro EU MEPs are not appearing on Newsnight or the 6 o’clock news regularly then why on earth would the public develop any interest in what is going on in Brussels. It becomes a black box to them, only vaguely aware that it does important stuff that affects us in the background. So when the great British public was asked to pronounce judgement on it, they only had 40 years of EU hate, negative or no coverage and no meaningful information or knowledge about what the EU is or how it works or what our MEPs do or why our right to Freedom of Movement, for example, is a terrific privilege for all of us as individuals .

If we fail to stop brexit, we are being told it will be our fault for not voting for this party or that party or splitting the vote or whatever. But you know we are doing our very best to turn back against 20 years of negative programming and powerful forces. If we fail to stop brexit it won’t be because I didn’t vote for Labour or Tory or Greens or Lib Dem or Change UK MEPS. It will be because parties and parliamentary politicians have failed us consistently in the last two years and its time they stopped blaming voters who didn’t vote leave or will not vote leave in a #finalsay referendum and looked at themselves in the mirror. What can Remain Politicians do to stop brexit? Well they can put their party aside for now and fight for a #peoplesvote and if their party won’t fight for that then they should be prepared to work with other remain parties and find a strategy which will help us. Stop blaming us and start helping us. I see the chances are diminishing of that so we are left with tactical voting in the EU elections. It’s the only thing we as Remainers can do to make sure our vote is not counted as one for a brexit party.

My parting note connected to this is on Labour. I am sorry to single them out but why are they messing about? Brexit fans will vote for the Brexit party. Why are Labour courting their vote. Remove the qualification from a confirmatory vote and Labour will find a world of delight opens up in the polls as those remainers normally inclined to vote for them heave a sigh of relief and put their x by their party on the ballot paper. Why are they producing ads and videos about bobbies on the beat for EU elections, WTAF is that all about? Labour are not trusted at the moment in remain circles given the size of the flipping table and all the options labour refuse to remove off it once and for all and they will keep bumping along with abysmal polling numbers until they earn remain trust.

Politicians, put your houses in order. We may well have to accept some responsibility for being absent in years gone by, for being passive or blind, but believe me we are paying attention now, we are present and we will bring about political change in the future so you can never divide people like this again.

Our Voting Quandary

Why would we vote for an MEP who’s stated party aim is to brexit? I am not just talking about the the two flavours of ukip. We all know what their game is. Namely, get their people in, spread hate, don’t do any work, fiddle their expenses, be a thorn in the side of the rest of the European Parliament who are there to do serious work for the benefit of the EU citizens they represent and basically con the European public (including us) out of the money which pays their salaries and pensions with no intention of doing a tap of work. They are a cheap sham, a con. No policy. Just a mishmash of also-rans and faded unsavouries seeking their 15 minutes of fame as candidates. I have nothing but contempt for them and if you have seen some of the people standing for them you will be equally contemptuous.

But looking at the other parties, well, the conservatives are the party of government. They want us out of the EU. So that’s a non starter too. What of the others? Well if the party manifesto contains the words “we respect the referendum” with no crystal clear commitment to a confirmatory vote and a remain option, is it relevant whether the candidates on their lists are personally strongly committed to the EU? Because of the D’Hondt system we can’t select particular candidates to back so party policy is the only thing we can go on initially. This is what we need to get our heads around and why we need to figure out a strategy. If the stated party policy priority is to make us brexit even under some imaginary soft brexit additions to May’s deal as yet not agreed, explained or described, despite the overwhelming evidence stacked up about cheating and damage to ordinary people, pro EU candidates and the party supporters who believe in the EU will be undermined. They must apply pressure to remove the Eurosceptic flavour of their party’s campaign.

The Remain community – now representing a growing majority, (see the poll of polls) are listening hard to what parties are saying and they will be harsh critics because they have been let down time and again by politicians and parties, the patience is incredibly fragile now. I know many of us are biding our time before we decide how we will vote.

For me, a half hearted approach to the EU elections also undermines the position of the UK as a force in the European Parliament. A missing commitment to remain or People’s Vote will inevitably raise questions from the rest of the EU as to whether the UK will ever be trusted not to dangle another sword of Damocles over its own head again at the expense and disruption of its EU parliament and the return of UKIP MkI and MkII MEPs will have the rest of the sensible parts of the European Parliament facepalming for 5 years. How can we trust what our MEPS will do to build and improve the EU if their party is trying to keep their direction constantly eurosceptic.

I admit I struggle with all this. It’s the hardest thing we have had to negotiate in our long campaign because we are fighting on two fronts, against what British Party Politics does by nature in the way parties compete with each-other and refuse to cooperate, whilst trying to lobby for a peoples vote and ultimately a remain outcome .

But the leaked Labour EU election leaflet drafts this week are the worst example I have yet seen of a supposedly non EU-hostile party completely missing the point. The EU Elections are about Europe. There is barely an acknowledgement that this is anything to do with the European Parliament. .

There is no vision in this work as to what Europe wide initiatives their party will support or drive or how they can help shape our future with regards to the environment, citizen protections, freedoms and economic cooperation with our partners. It’s almost as if whoever has written it has no idea what the EP does, or what the EU does. Which is tragic, given Labour have such wonderful Europeans standing for them. Julie Ward, Seb Dance, Richard Corbett, Theresa Griffin, Wajid Khan – all successful MEPs who have been doing their jobs representing us in the EP and, since the referendum, have been strong peoples vote campaigners ready to stand up for our future in the EU and be positive about all those things we value. Peace, freedom of movement, protection, cooperation.

These proposed leaflets are simply the same old tired dumbing down of a politics concentrated on dividing and labelling and slagging off the other side, encouraging negative voting, encouraging a protest vote. It’s depressing and parochial and lacks vision and undermines their forward thinking MEPS who we, in the remain community, consider our own regardless of party. It says ‘vote for us and forget the EU’ or ‘vote for us to tell the government you are angry’. Aren’t we in enough trouble already with that mindset? When are politicians going to stop encouraging protest votes and start leading?

I for one want to vote for parties who can demonstrate to me both their commitment to remain as EU members and also their European supporting credentials, believing that the most successful trading and political bloc in the world is a force for good in the lives of ordinary people across our beautiful continent. We may have lots of problems in Europe, there will always be problems, but we can best solve them together with cooperation and friendship and partnership. I want to return MEPs committed to our future in the EU who aren’t hampered by a party leadership which seeks to undermine them.

This criteria equally applies in my deliberations as to whether I will vote for Labour or any of the other parties. I cannot consider Labour unless they resolve their internal conflict and are unequivocal about a People’s Vote. I note as I write this the news that these shameful leaflet designs are thankfully being binned. They “forgot” to include mention of a confirmatory vote. Of course they did! (Sarcastic font). It’s a start but the clock is ticking and Labour needs to listen carefully to its members and supporters and potential supporters who are, right now, busy writing to everyone they can think of in Labour to make their views heard if they are going to be in the running for success.

I do understand the quandary of labour voters who want to remain but want to vote for their party. All I can ask is that you make it absolutely clear that you want them to support remain or that you find a way to put it on record that you are supporting the great MEPs on the list in your region and not the abysmal front bench negative attitude to the EU. We do not want Pro EU votes to be counted by others as anti EU votes as per the 2017 election narrative employed so damagingly by May, Farage et al.

So I will continue to support voter registration and turnout campaigns and I look forward to seeing the details of the Lib Dem, Green Party, ChUK and Labour manifestos so I can make my choices about who to vote for in the North West in an informed way. You can forget trying to bully me or guilt me. A vote for the Lib Dem’s or greens or TIG is not a vote for tories. That’s just nonsense. I will be keeping an eye on the information and data being analysed by remainvoter about my region because tactical voting is still on my mind as a way to go. You see, the Labour Party aren’t the only ones who are able to keep options on the table 😉.

A Brexit Compromise?

Having been a fan of pragmatism my whole life, I have always believed that compromise is a sign of strength.  Even so, even after an exhausting 2 years of thinking, debating and campaigning around Brexit issues, I continue to be totally resolute in arguing to remain in the EU, right in the heart of Europe.  I believe this is where our interests will continue to be best served, whatever our background, whatever our place of birth, whatever the state of our bank balance.
Why, I was asked the other day, would I not be satisfied with a soft remain, in the customs union or something like a Norway-ish option or something on the lines of Jeremy Corbyn’s recent letter? 

Well the short answer is I am totally sceptical of the Leave Establishment.  The long answer is I do not believe they will ever accept such compromises in practice going forward, even if they decide to support such a thing in parliament because they see it as a way of avoiding a referendum where there is a chance the public will demonstrate the will of the people is not so much the will of the people anymore.  They will want to continue to pursue their anti-Europe instincts. 

The Brexit Glitterati such as Farage and other Ukip and ex Ukip people and the right of the Tory party have used their Euroscepticism to give themselves a platform for personal power.  In the case of the UKIP MEPS for example, they have used their positions in the European Parliament to undermine and represent British citizens in the worst possible way, not attending committees and debates which are there to develop and improve EU laws and policies for the benefit of citizens across the continent and accepting their pay and expenses for zero public service in return.  

Instead of speaking on the subject being debated in the European Parliament, they have frequently used these opportunities to grandstand with diatribes and rants against EU leaders, MEPS and Commissioners and by extension the people of those countries.  YouTube is full of these pointless and negative speeches only designed to please Farage & Co fans and backers.  They are laughing at everyone taking tax payers money in order to just shout a lot about foreigners and immigration to keep their supporters happy.  Even if reports are true and Farage and his friends have rejected the current form of UKIP which has lurched to the far right, they will attempt to keep the same negative tactics in any new re-imagination of UKIP. 
My greatest distaste is reserved for the right of the Tory party, those Eurosceptics who claim so vehemently to have hated every single second of the UK being part and helping to build one of the biggest most successful trading blocs in the world over 40 years whilst at the same time being huge beneficiaries from it at a personal level.  The level of hypocrisy amongst these kinds of politicians should nauseate every sensible thinking citizen of the UK.  In the main these people have been huge winners in a multitude of ways thanks to the power of the City of London which has grown in strength and vigour precisely because of our EU membership and the Single Market.  These MPs have chosen to use their Euroscepticism as a whip to beat leaders and PMs.  The threat to a split Tory party comes directly from this minority of people, it always has.  On the face of it they only seem to care to use their threats of 48 Letters to destabilise their leaders in order to push an anti-EU agenda, which, given the passion they claim begs the question why they haven’t the faintest idea how to implement it. Note that when it comes to it though, they suddenly find a new-found affection for “Tory unity”.  They have no confidence in their own party of government until they have confidence in it sufficiently to dodge a general election threat.

All these Brexit players have been far more interested in shouting from a distance, indulging in a kind of professional controversialist game-playing in order to build their own power.  Most of the Brexit architects have resigned or slunk away from any responsible position in trying to deliver the thing they claim is closest to their hearts.  I ask myself if I should be supporting a compromise and then I think carefully about these politicians who have driven us to this chaos.  I ask you all this question.  Do you think these people are going to give up the very addiction that gives them their sense of power?  They may well be persuaded to support some form of deal by Mrs. May.  They are far from stupid.  They understand perfectly that no-deal is a seriously damaging outcome.  They want the threat of it used to get the EU into giving them something without having to give anything back in return.   When the penny drops that won’t happen to their satisfaction, they will find some fudge to support Mrs. May. 
But then very quickly, will they not see a softened Brexit as simply an opportunity to continue to play their games?  The in-depth negotiations for some years which will follow any version of Brexit will be an opportunity for them to start pushing again with their attention-seeking agenda.  They will continue the internal party conflict they have thrived on and Labour will also continue to struggle with their own internal divisions over this.  These splits are not going to disappear or be healed by any kind of compromise Brexit.  The Eurosceptics will continue to pull away or pull apart and resist anything which even smells of moving closer again to the EU27.  It’s just a slightly different platform for them to shout from.   In the end if we agree to some form of pointless Brexit, we will have conceded ground which is totally contrary to the interests of every man woman and child of this country for what in return?  For Brexiters to simply see it as a chance to keep pulling and pulling us further back from our closest neighbours and making us give more and more of our personal rights and protections up as consumers, as citizens, as workers. 
Do I trust these people? Do I want to support a fudge?  

No I don’t and No Thankyou. . 

Too much sugar is bad for me and its bad for you too.

@redalphababe

SUPPORTING A PEOPLES VOTE

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

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

@redalphababe

Saving the Nation from WHAT?

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

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

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

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

Tell me again. 

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

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

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

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

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


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

graphic via @BrimhamG

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

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


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

Its time for you to offer informed consent

#peoplesvote with #optiontoremain  #finalsayforall 

@redalphababe

Righting the Wronged!

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

Illegal Activities by the Leave Campaigns in 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

@redalphababe