Brexit Deal – ‘celebrating’ abject political failure

Welcome to the UK at the end of a terrible 2020. Like everywhere else on earth we’re battling against Covid 19, but we’re also very troubled with our own self-destructive need to shoot ourselves in both feet. For years our politicians and our press have found ways to blame foreigners, the EU, the French indeed pretty much anyone outside of the UK for our own self-made troubles. The whole sorry mess has culminated in what looks to be a wretched Brexit Deal which is bound to be one of the greatest acts of self-harm this country has imposed on itself in living memory. Just look at the deal; it’s terrible:-

We often look to the right of politics to blame for our Brexit debacle but in reality the supposedly progressive parties have sadly had a big hand in this process as they’ve found themselves unable to effectively rise up and oppose it; an abject failure of leadership across the board.

The Tories found themselves being infiltrated by UKIP and latterly the Brexit Party in a far more successful way than Militant ever infiltrated Labour in the 1980’s. Many senior Tories acted like appeasers and they were rolled over and left politically dead. But not content with allowing narrow nationalism to take over their party they then elected as their leader the most unsuitable person just about ever to lead them and be Prime Minister. There can’t have been anyone within the Tory Party who was not aware of his flaws, indeed he’d changed his views over the EU from being a staunch backer of it to exactly the opposite and that can only have been for political power which could not have been gained otherwise. He’s proved to be the disaster that pretty much everyone thought he would be, but that’s of course no surprise at all.

But where has the official opposition been during this period of political turmoil? Labour under both Corbyn and Starmer have been fence sitting, hiding behind their Brexit sofa and trying not to be an opposition because too many Labour supporters on it’s right wing and even a few on its left wing are Brexiteers. Indeed, many of its white working class supporters helped to deliver Brexit by voting for Johnson’s Tories at the last election! Many of us progressives thought Starmer was having his wings clipped when he was Corbyn’s Brexit Spokesperson but sadly he’s hardly moved Labour from its ‘hide behind the Brexit sofa’ position at all as their new leader. He now even says Labour backs Johnson’s terrible deal!!!!!

And what of the pro-EU Lib Dems? Some false dawns prior to the last General Election came to nothing as they were unable to win the hearts and minds of voters even many who actually agreed with them! Suffering a lack of high profile leaders since the tragic loss of Charles Kennedy they’ve been unable to communicate with voters at all well of recent years. Like Labour they went for a safe pair of hands (Ed Davey*) after political trauma when their new leader desperately needed to be a Kennedy/Ashdown kind of communicator who voters would take notice of. Predictably, having gone for the safe pair of hands, the Libs have not been cutting through and frankly Starmer & Davey might as well be a firm of high street accountants for all the good they’ve done at Westminster. Both are worthy, both may well be steady Cabinet members but neither are leaders of women and men.

If you’ve got this far I’m guessing you’re not a Brexiteer and that you realise there’s nothing, literally nothing, to celebrate with our former ‘oven ready’ Brexit Deal. We’ve trashed our economy and our neighbour trading relationships because voters were convinced (in 2016) that most if not all of our ills were the fault of the EU which, despite its many faults, it rarely was/almost never had been. The power of our right wing press to get what it wants and implant its views in elector’s minds has indeed been proven.

And what next? I’m of the view that Scotland will probably leave the UK and re-join the EU at some point. I’m also of the view that what has gone on will have hastened a united Ireland. I’m supportive of both I might add. The thing which is bizarrely working in Brexiteers favour though is Covid 19 as the wrecking of our economy can at least be blamed on that with the Brexit effects being concealed. How bizarre is that? So be prepared for many more years of blame for our ills on ‘others’ as Brexiteers are not going to stop lying to you.

From my perspective as a Social Liberal of the left and a progressive politician by instinct we need credible leaders on the left who can communicate with voters. Blair was successful as he could communicate well. Yes I know, he went off the rails big style over Iraq etc. but I’m taking about a real communicator. Politicians like him and Ashdown and Kennedy and John Smith are few and far between these days but if Liberals, Social Democrats and the Socialists who aren’t Brexiteers want to rid UK politics of our nationalistic politicians they’ve got to find such leaders and when found they need to sitting on the sofa with electors not hiding behind it!

Click on the scans of the Brexit Deal graphics to enlarge them

* But I do give credit to him for saying he won’t support Johnson’s Brexit Deal

Why I’m backing Layla Moran for Lib Dem Leader

This is Layla’s* vision for a better future for us all. It was published via the Independent 27th May:-

‘Around the world, people are looking to their leaders for guidance. Some people will feel safe and hopeful. Others may feel uneasy and question their nation’s choices. In moments like this, decent leadership can make an enormous difference to people’s lives.

For me, the best leadership is calm, measured and purposeful. It is open, transparent and direct. Good leaders spell out what they and their parties stand for, allowing people to grasp the ideas, embrace change and move forward together.

So, as I enter the Liberal Democrat leadership race, I want to make my vision for our country clear. In the aftermath of the coronavirus crisis, I want to champion a more compassionate and cooperative United Kingdom that gives every person and our planet a chance to thrive.

Where everyone has access to high-quality education and retraining. Where politicians work together to help the most vulnerable, and key workers are respected and paid a fair wage. Where we cherish nature as the finite resource it is, rather than continue the managed exploitation we have now.

As a former teacher, education is close to my heart. I joined the Lib Dems because their education policies are best placed to ensure every child is world-ready, not just exam-ready. The educational inequalities that existed when I first joined the party more than 12 years ago are still here; in fact, many have become further entrenched.

When I reimagine the education system, I picture more investment in the early years, to reduce inequalities before children get into a classroom. More power for teachers to design a world-class education system, which recognises and supports children with practical skills as well as academic. And, a nationwide adult retraining programme to get people back on their feet and into work.

Our economic approach also needs urgent change. As the country recovers, we mustn’t leave anyone in our society behind. A Universal Basic Income is necessary to support those who fall on hard times. We must invest in education, health, social care and public services, and give all frontline workers the support they deserve. And let’s prioritise our wellbeing and mental health alongside economic growth, because now more than ever, we need to move forward positively and compassionately.

We have an opportunity to steal a march on the environmental crisis, too. In the past months, travel has reduced, and the demand for coal and oil has plummeted. This presents us with a precious opportunity to flatten the climate curve.

I want to see a UK which is not just carbon neutral but carbon negative. Young people, given they will have to carry this burden for us all, should be involved in the decision-making processes for achieving this ambitious goal. We must acknowledge the part that biodiversity catastrophe plays in pandemics, and recognise that to build resilience, we need to talk about habitat as well as carbon.

In areas such as education, economy and environment, the country simply must move forward, rather than look back. This is where I would start as the leader of the Liberal Democrats, along with our ongoing campaigns to reform our political system and challenge threats to human rights in the face of populism and authoritarianism, at home and abroad.

Of course, to make real progress and seriously challenge the Conservatives, the Lib Dems need to move forward as well.

For too long, we’ve become more defined by what we’re against, rather than what we’re for. The party lost trust when many supporters questioned our judgement in entering a coalition government. Subsequent leaders have struggled to move us on from this. We’ve also lost our campaigning edge; we need to rediscover a bold vision and also build the machine to deliver it.

Under new leadership, the Lib Dems must work together at all levels of the party, to rebuild our campaigning strength, listen to voters and restore trust. We need a national brand that complements local council successes, rather than imposing messages that work against local aims. We need to build broad support across the country, and we need to live (and look like) our values of diversity and inclusion.

This approach has worked in my constituency, where building cross-party support, listening to voters, and a strong campaigning effort led to an 8,000-vote increase in my majority in December.

I’ve listened to Lib Dems members and cross-party voters since then, and I’ve included their contributions in my bold forward-vision for our future, with education, economic fairness and the environment at its heart.

The sliver of silver in the clouds of this crisis is the once in a generation opportunity make our country fairer and more liberal. The moment for change exists, and with the right leader and vision, progress is within the Lib Dems’ grasp. We just need to reach out, seize this moment, and move forward as a strong and united party.

That’s why, throughout the leadership contest, I will be asking Lib Dems members to move forward together – and Vote Layla.’

My Views on Social Liberalism, Layla and the late great Charles Kennedy

I’ve spent pretty much all of my adult life to date pressing the case for what I see as Social Liberalism. I’ve been a lifelong trade unionist with very much left of centre views but I have never identified as a socialist as I see socialism as too authoritarian and centralising of power. The Labour Party whilst at face value being of the left is actually a very odd mixture of right, left and centrist politics, always at war with itself via its many sects. I’m a free thinking person, and an environmentalist and I want to embrace good ideas wherever they may come from; UK politics is far too tribal and it’s the reason we are in the mess that we are.

I see Layla as a breath of fresh air who will take on the establishment and fight for the common good but from a radical standpoint. I hope she will both be elected as Lib Dem leader and that she will take the Lib Dems back to the kind of left of centre politics it pursued under the late great Charles Kennedy.

And before the whataboutery starts, of course this initial standpoint does not cover all aspects of policy.

* Layla Moran is the Liberal Democrat MP for Oxford West and Abingdon and a candidate for Lib Dem Party leadership

Alastair Campbell’s guide to surviving isolation

Like Gordon Brown and ex-US President Jimmy Carter, Alastair Campbell is someone we’ve probably come to respect far more after they’ve left the top job which made them famous. I’m sure there are other examples you can think of too.

I like this 20 point guide by Alastair on how to survive isolation. Go on have a read and look past the politician you maybe once cared little for as he is far more than that. Here’s a link to his blog article that may just help you through the coming weeks:-

alastaircampbell.org/2020/03/twenty-tips-for-guarding-against-depression-and-anxiety-in-the-era-of-self-isolation/

But look at number 9 again and then look at this video:-

twitter.com/campbellclaret/status/1213100165579579392?lang=en

Yes Campbell and Kennedy were good friends and what a haunting tribute to his old chum…….

And the photo at the head of this posting? Because it is peaceful and tranquil………..

Reverse this phrase – ‘Labour gathering Momentum’

www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/nov/25/momentum-loyalty-test-would-be-mps-labour-corbyn

The Guardian has this interesting piece on its web site.

That Labour is ‘suffering’ another period of entryism akin to that it had ‘trouble’ with in the 1980’s (Militant) is a given. But entryism and the radical changing of direction of political parties is nothing new although Labour in particular does seem have periods where what it believed in yesterday is no longer what it believes in today more often than other parties. It’s social democrat and hard left wings seem to be in continual battles to be top dog you might say.

But if you look at the Tories now they are nothing like the political party of Heath or even Major. Often now referred to as ‘Bluekip’ and at times leaning worryingly towards fascism is it not reasonable to look upon all those UKIP supporters and activists joining and voting Tory as entyists too?

And then there was the Clegg period running the Lib Dems. Apart from that period being an utter disaster for the Party there were what seemed to be very genuine fears amongst the party membership and indeed the electorate that what had been a genuine party of the center left under say Kennedy, Grimmond etc. had been hauled over to the right, certainly in economic policy areas. Not quite entryism but a significant and truly unwise experiment which may well take years to ‘wear off’ with left leaning liberal voters.

Momentum gathering Labour

So policy lurches in political parties are nothing new as there are other examples across all the main political parties if you delve into their pasts. However, is what is happening within Labour of far greater significance? I ask as the process within the party under Momentum does seem to be much more far reaching. Not so much Labour gathering Momentum but Momentum gathering Labour.

But is there anything fundamentally wrong with Momentum, if they are the dominant creed within Labour these days (and we assume they are), demanding loyalty to their policy agenda before Labour candidates are selected/reselected to fight elections for the party? There seems to be a logic to that argument to me, although it does significantly change what Labour have often referred to as their ‘broad church’ where once they tolerated and even celebrated a membership with vastly differing views.

Chilcot – A short briefing – Charles Kennedy and other anti-war protesters were right!!!!

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-36721645

Above is a link to the initial assessment of the contents of the Chilcot report from the BBC web site.

So proud that I stood with Charles Kennedy and opposed this unnecessary war where so many lives were lost. Shame on those Labour MP’s who voted for war and a Tory Party which followed Blair’s troops into the lobby to vote for war.

Surely every MP who voted for that appalling war must feel utterly ashamed of themselves today. I still recall Tory MP’s calling Charles Kennedy every rude name under the sun for his anti-war stance. He was a brave man who sadly did not live long enough to see the report which has vindicated his view.

RIP the Iraq war dead, our political leaders let you down badly and created the instability in that region that still haunts us today and will do so for generations to come.

Here’s a link to Lib Dem Leader Tim Farron’s speech in the House of Commons today:-

www.itv.com/news/update/2016-07-06/tim-farron-iraq-war-now-threatens-the-safety-of-all-of-us/

Chilcot Report – The truth will out!

Tim Farron writes

The publication of the Chilcot Inquiry today will finally expose one of the most shameful moments in our nation’s history.

It is likely that the report will confirm Tony Blair and his Labour government wilfully misled Parliament and the British people on the imminence of the threat from Saddam Hussein and his possession of Weapons of Mass Destruction.

That deceit led to the disastrous invasion of Iraq in 2003 which cost the lives of around 100,000 Iraqis and almost 5,000 coalition forces, including 179 members of the British Armed Forces. With no plan for what would happen next, Blair and President Bush left a power vacuum that enabled the rise of Daesh and caused many more years of bloodshed and instability in the Middle East.

The findings published today will be a vindication for the Liberal Democrats and for everyone else who fought against this illegal war. In particular, Charles Kennedy’s leadership of our party at that time provided a voice for millions of British people who knew that this was the wrong thing to do, as this video shows:

Today the Liberal Democrats are calling for the current British government to pledge that we will never go to war again without an assurance that the action is legal under international law, that we have a clear exit plan, and that the intelligence on which we base our decisions is free from the influence of political spin doctors.

The War in Iraq eroded the public’s trust in politics, damaged Britain’s moral authority on the global stage, and made our country and world less safe. This must never, ever happen again.

Best wishes,

Tim

Tim Farron MP
Leader of the Liberal Democrats

And watch the late great Charles Kennedy leading the charge against Tony Blair’s war:-

www.facebook.com/libdems/videos/10154338066583270/