Norman

Some years ago I heard Michael Palin being described as ‘the nicest man in England’ and he may well have been given an award to that effect. At the time I thought yes I can see that, you can’t think of Palin doing anything but good.

But in politics few people are thought of as being nice, yet one man stands out for me – Norman Lamb MP. Now don’t get me wrong, like many other Remainers, I have struggled with Norman’s struggles over whether he would back a Brexit Deal. His agonising over Johnson’s deal, which from an economic assessment perspective was worse even than May’s deal, befuddled many of us. Why on earth was Norman drawn to the deal in any way? Sadly, some folks frustration with this lovely man boiled over and things were said about him which clearly hurt.

We say we want MP’s who are independent thinkers and who don’t just slavishly follow the party line but when we then see such MP’s in action, particularly when they are drawn to supporting/not supporting a cause which means a lot to us, we get upset.

Former Lib Dem MP for Southport John Pugh

Locally, the former MP for Southport John Pugh could be said to have approached his time in politics with an independent mind and at times he caused frustration in Liberal ranks for that independence of mind. The problem with being a Liberal MP is that Lib Dem supporters expect those MP’s to have libertarian views about every subject, but of course we are all flawed so sometimes a Liberal MP will come up with a stance which makes other Liberals stand up and shout at them.

But back to Norman Lamb because other than his agonising over Brexit deals which virtually no other Liberal could get their head around he really is the kind of person anyone would want for their MP. His work to raise the profile of metal health issues whilst being an MP has been tremendous and it’s clearly such a big matter to him that he will be continuing to campaign for those less fortunate after he steps down from Parliament at the December General Election. Indeed, he’s already set up a mental health charitable trust primed with a significant amount of his own money to get it going.

I met Norman when he visited Liverpool in 2017 and he really is the kind of person who has time to talk with people. He’s pictured above with my daughter Jen. Here’s a link back to my previous posting about that visit to Liverpool:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2017/10/21/norman-lamb-the-mp-who-gives-voice-to-mental-health-issues/

MP’s like Norman are sadly few and far between with so many of them being sheep following the crowd and/or their party. What we need are more independently minded MP’s who despite driving us mad when they, in our view, go off the rails on a particular matter are actually sound, decent and will stick two fingers up to the political charlatans rather than fall in behind them.

Norman Lamb MP

By the way what is Palin’s flaw, he must have one?

PS. I’m presently Reading Palin’s 2018 book ‘Erebus – the story of a ship’, it is as you might expect a great read.

Ode to Lisa (and other supposedly progressive MP’s tempted by Brexit Deals)

Oh Lisa I’ve heard and seen your Bexit agonies on TV many a time
but being progressive means Brexit should be a straight NO every time

Being a progressive means rejecting making the poor poorer
but you know Brexit in any form will make the poor poorer

Being a progressive means standing up for your constituents jobs
but Brexit will mean the loss of some of your constituents jobs

Being a progressive means promoting workers rights
but Brexit as you know will reduce workers rights

Being a progressive means going and being green for future generations
but Brexit will undermine environmental protections for those generations

Being progressive means putting ever greater resources into the NHS
but Brexit will reduce the money from taxes available for the NHS

Your constituents voted to Leave the EU amidst many lies they were told
but they didn’t vote for what’s on offer now – you know that you’ve been told

Your progressive even socialist seat in the HoC may well be important to you
but backing a regressive Brexit will mean that folks won’t fondly remember you

So please remember you’re a progressive who should oppose any Brexit Deal
you should be explaining to your constituents why you reject Johnson’s Deal

Oh Lisa I’ve heard and seen your Bexit agonies on TV many a time
but being progressive means Brexit should be a straight NO every time

Political Cultism – Is it akin to religious cultism?

Jeremy Corbyn is often referred to as having a cult following and the same is said of Nigel Farage of course. Brexit itself seems to be cultish too but our view of cults is often more likely to be connected with religious extremism rather than politics. So the question is do political cults have a commonality with religious cults?

According to Wikipedia in sociological terminology, sects are products of religious schism and therefore maintain a continuity with traditional beliefs and practices, while cults arise spontaneously around novel beliefs and practices.

Well Brexit certainly fits the ‘novel beliefs and practices’ definition as it is based very much on belief rather than facts/reality and it’s proponents (Brexiteers) can be fanatical in their following of it despite strong evidence challenging their often seemingly emotional based stance.

But what of Corbynism? Is it akin to say Thatcherism or Reganism in that its followers see themselves as the true believers whilst they look upon the scepticism of others who do not subscribe to their beliefs as being, in religious terms, heathens? Certainly, in my experience Labour Party members and supporters who see themselves as Corbynistas will often refer to anyone else, even fellow Labour members who are not in the Corbyn sect, as ‘Tories’, the political alternative terminology to the religious heathen I guess. Subscribers to the political sect known as Blairism are particularly hated by Corbynistas yet both Blairism and Corbynism have both been the majority view within the Labour Party in the past 20 years. I’ve heard it said that some Corbynistas hate Blarites more than their traditional ‘enemy’ Thatcherites!

Interestingly though, Johnson, whilst probably being more of a Brexiteer than any members of the Brexit Party, does not seem to have a cultish following. Indeed, he seems to be widely unpopular other than with extreme right wingers. Is that because he switched from being an EU supporter and because he is seen to be a politician who follows the crowd. In other words not a true believer in Brexit?

What makes some of us look upon Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters as being akin to cultists is that they will back their leader no matter what. No criticism of him is acceptable in any form from any quarter and they ‘know’ that anyone who does question Jez is a ‘Tory’.

As a Liberal who likes to hold a healthy scepticism of all political leaders, often particularly Liberal ones, this defence of ‘The leader’ come what may is hard for me to get my head around. I think I smelled something worryingly like cultism with the people who surrounded Nick Clegg during the Coalition Government days. They, like Jez Corbyn’s backers, were not for hearing the noise outside of their seemingly closed group and the consequences were dire for liberalism as it is now starting to prove for Labour too.

To conclude I think it is perfectly possible for political cultism to exist as an extreme form of the political sects which clearly exist within some political parties. The other interesting point to consider here is that those who look to be backing what seems to others as being a cult will probably deny that they’re cultists. Is that because they don’t see themselves as cultists? Is it only those outside of a cult who can see cultism for what it is?

And finally when does a sect, political religious or otherwise, become a cult?

Swinson – Time to stay strong as Brexit heats up

Now let me say this first, Swinson was not my preferred candidate to become Lib Dem Leader, but as my preferred candidate did not stand I voted for her over Ed Davy. Secondly, it’s a little early to say how she will do in the post which she won with a pretty huge majority. Best to say I’m a disloyal (I always see myself as being disloyal to my party by the way*) sceptic of her leadership but one who will applaud her if she becomes a good leader.

So what to make of the Swinson/Lucas/Corbyn tussle over how a government of national unity can be put together to defeat Johnson and No Deal Brexit. I think a fair assessment of the present position is to say that Corbyn will get involved if he can be the head of such a government and that the Green Leader agrees with Corbyn. Swinson however holds the view that Corbyn’s a too divisive a figure to be the at the head of such a movement and that she thinks a more widely accepted figure should do the job. She wants either Harriet Harman and/or Ken Clarke to do the leadership role.

A government of national unity to stop a No Deal Brexit will need dissident Tory MP’s to back it and whilst this is a statement of the blindingly obvious, based on the House of Commons arithmetic, it is also the key to why the potential leader of such a government should surely to be a widely accepted and trusted figure i.e. not a present opposition party leader.

I understand that Jeremy C wants to be PM just as Lucas and Swinson do too; why else would they be political leaders? However, the present Brexit crisis faced by the UK is not one where individual political ambitions are the most important thing. Indeed, the imminent danger of a No Deal Brexit is what needs to be stopped and clearly a non/less-contentious leader of a short-term government of national unity is required to do that.

Once you put a political leader up to do that job politicians will take sides especially if that person is seen to hold views way to the left of right of the center of UK politics. So telling Jeremy that he’s not the person for the job is a matter of political pragmatism for me because he’s not a man who politicians from differing political backgrounds can coalesce around. And if they can’t coalesce around him by implication his government is highly unlikely to commend a majority in our fractured House of Commons.

Sadly Lucas has misjudged this issue just as she did a few days ago when bizarrely she suggested an all women Cabinet to run the UK. Now don’t get me wrong, I do accept that women make better leaders than men because they are generally less likely to be politically tribal etc. But to suggest, as Caroline sadly did, that no men can be trusted to take on senior government positions is just not sensible or practical politics. Politics is the art of the possible, what Caroline was suggesting was clearly highly improbable.

The other problem with Jeremy is his political baggage associated with Brexit. Across the political spectrum people say he’s not had a good Brexit and has not handled the matter at all well. Significantly, this is often said by Labour Party members and supporters so it’s not just a opposition view of Jez. It also has to be remembered that Jez is at heart a Brexiteer and he wants what he calls a ‘Labour Brexit’, whatever that may mean. And there’s the rub because he’s not going to get the chance to negotiate a Labour Brexit until he wins a General Election and Labour winning such an election seems at best slight if present opinion polls are anything to go by.

Will Labour now sit back and say it’s our way or no way over a government of national unity or will they back off on their wish to crown Jeremy as PM for this interim emergency government?

For what my view is worth I think Swinson’s stance is right and that figures such as Clarke and/or Harman are best placed to try to put a Commons majority together to defeat a No Deal Brexit. I say this simply because her position is more logical, more likely to work and it’s the art of the possible rather than the improbable. And to balance my view of Swinson I remain highly sceptical of her seemingly strident anti-SNP views. I get that she’s a not a nationalist and is in favour of the Union but we need the SNP onside over Brexit, so poking them in the political eye regularly is not helpful.

But above all this the real elephant trap is that a Government of national unity which gets rid of No Deal Brexit could also be used as a platform to promote a Brexit Deal! If Swinson was involved in that it would finish her and the Lib Dems. Think about it, there are quite a few Labour and Tory MP’s out there who want to get rid of No Deal but who would be happy to get out of the EU with some form of a deal. They would probably be happy with Corbyn at the head of a Government as he’s on their side. Any Government temporary or otherwise which tries to negotiate a deal to leave the EU will end up in the same appalling mess that Teresa may found herself in. Swinson needs to be very cautious and ignore the Corbynite ritualistic tribal abuse presently being aimed at her. If she weakens she could easily end up enabling a Brexit deal of whatever kind and frankly no one will have any sympathy for her then.

Political tribalism has blighted UK politics for far too long. Of course other political parties have good ideas which should gain wide support but our tribal system teaches our politicians to slag off ideas from opposition politicians just because they are not ‘one of ours’. It’s time to do the right thing to save the UK from the mad idea that a No Deal Brexit will be fine. It won’t be – our public services will suffer, tax revenues will fall, exports will dry up, unemployment will rise, living standards will fall, workers rights will be chucked away, environmental and food regulations will be ripped up. Only the rich and powerful will benefit from a No Deal Brexit. And let’s not forget that any form of Brexit, with a deal or not, will cause all of these disaster scenarios to come into play to some extent – the best deal the UK has is the one it has now with the EU. No ifs, no buts, no maybes.

* If you don’t get my disloyalty, it’s associated with my view that we should trust no one with power. Our job is to hold those who hold power to account, not to idolise them.

Labour’s Remainers are in fact the real problem in that broken party

I was taken by the article below from the Huffington Post by Tim Walker as it seems to sum up so well why we progressives, outside of Labour, can’t get our heads around the party’s Remainers staying within Corbyn’s camp.

www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/labour-remain-jeremy-corbyn_uk_5d28968fe4b0060b11eb388e?ncid=other_twitter_cooo9wqtham&utm_campaign=share_twitter

I too have heard Labour’s leading Remainers make big speeches but each time I hear one they become less inspiring as you know they will not follow through and do anything remotely useful to get the Labour Party off it’s ridiculous job-loss Brexit hook.

How many times have we heard David Lammy wringing his hands and sounding like he could offer some hope only to realise that in the end it’s the Labour Party, no matter what it stands for, that he is actually wedded to. Well sadly David that’s how it looks to us Remainers outside of Labour’s cultist camp.

Labour’s ultimate problem is that loyalty to the party comes before absolutely everything else so whatever the leadership does is backed come what may. Grumbling and big speeches aside (from those who have issues with the party leaders) those in charge will be followed over the cliff edge if required.

My own realisation of this was with regard to Andrew Adonis who carpet bagged himself around the UK as though he was the person to save us all from the evils of Brexit. Why I only missed his public meeting in Ormskirk last year because I had another call on my time that I could not get out of. My radical liberal daughter went though and she was impressed with what Adonis had to say, BUT then as the fog cleared it became apparent that Adonis cared not at all for Remainers who were other than Labour Remainers. What’s more he then went and stood in the EU elections this year under Labour’s flag of Brexit! How he sleeps at night I have no idea but the only saving grace is that he lost in those EU elections.

Labour’s Remainers have done untold damage to the UK because of their weakness. In backing their party, above all else, they have allowed their own leadership to keep plodding on with it’s own bizarre job-loss Brexit and they’ve helped the real right wing nutters try to drive through their mad vision for a No-Deal Brexit Britain.

But you know the really odd part of this is that if Labour finally becomes a Remain Party at some point, the Labour Remainers will act like they have never been a part of a Brexit backing party at all!

Brexit – The Tories look screwed whatever they do

I was interested to see this blog posting from someone who has a detailed understanding of how the far right operates:-

unherd.com/2019/06/the-coming-conservative-catastrophe/

Whichever way you look at the Conservatives predicament they seem to be staring down both barrels of their own shotgun

My thanks to Bob Robinson for the lead to this posting

And I could not help but agree with this blog posting by Paul Bigland too:-

paulbigland.blog/2019/06/30/the-tory-party-have-become-an-economic-death-cult/