The election that took us deeper into chaos

www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jun/10/general-election-nothing-to-celebrate-brexit-still-happening-tory-government

The Guardian has the story on its web site – see link above

Goodness this is a powerful insight into the mess that is UK politics today.

And what’s all this Labour celebrating about, they lost, progressive politics lost and we are in a worse situation than we were before the election was called!

The good ship HMS UK has been holed at the waterline yet again and we are firing the guns at ourselves!

With thanks to Roy Connell for the lead to this posting.

2016 – A year to forget? Well yes, but there was the odd glimmer of hope

BAD NATIONAL & GLOBAL EVENTS

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* Given the biggest self-destruct button the UK electorate has probably ever been tempted by i.e the EU referendum – they pressed it!

* Sociopath Trump wins in America, seemingly with help from Putin in the Cremlin!

* We manage to get rid of a centrist (for a Conservative that is), if hardly competent, Tory Prime Minister (Cameron) for him to be replaced by someone who looks utterly lost, is in a job probably well above her pay grade and who is riding us off into a inglorious right wing sunset!

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* Our NHS and elderly social care system has been systematically neglected and left to wither on the vine by our clueless government whilst we chuck goodness knows how much money on a replacement for the Trident nuclear missile programme that will never be used. There are guilty people in all political parties over this.

AND GOOD NATIONAL & GLOBAL THINGS?

* Well Lib Dem anti-Brexit candidate Sarah Olney winning the Richmond Park Parliamentary by-election comes to mind.

* The beating the right took in the Austrian Presidential election was a pleasant if somewhat surprising turn of events.

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* Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shining a light for tolerant, inclusive and progressive politics from over the pond in Canada. Is there anyone else in power on the global stage who can match his progressive approach to running a country?

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* The low and high of Notts and England batsman James Taylor being struck down by an almost fatal undiagnosed heart condition and then him coming through it. Yes we have lost on brilliant batsman but so glad he is still alive. And yes I am an Notts supporter.

AND LOCAL LOWS AND HIGHS?

Inside the Youth Coffee Bar after a refurb' a few years ago

Inside the Youth Coffee Bar after a refurb’ a few years ago

* LOW – We had the depressing news that Labour-run Maghull Town Council was finally killing-off the innovative Youth Coffee Bar in Maghull Town Hall which local youngsters had started 20+ years ago. And hey what a surprise (NOT) anti-social behaviour is a problem in the area of Maghull where it once operated!

St Catherine's otherwise know as Lydiate Abbey

St Catherine’s otherwise know as Lydiate Abbey

* HIGH – The ‘Friends of the Abbey’ in Lydiate gaining a Lottery grant to start the process of trying to conserve and preserve the ruins of St Catherine’s Chapel for future generations.

Former Maghull/Lydiate Borough Councillor Robbie Fenton with the petition she raised to try to save the Leighton Ave toilets a few years ago. Sadly they are all but gone now via neglect and vandalism.

Former Maghull/Lydiate Borough Councillor Robbie Fenton with the petition she raised to try to save the Leighton Ave toilets a few years ago. Sadly they are all but gone now via neglect and vandalism.

* LOW – The running down of and then appalling vandalism to Maghull’s once award winning public toilets in Leighton Avenue.

The long view of 2016 winter planting down Westway looking from the Leighton Ave junction towards the A59 Northway.

The long view of 2016 winter planting down Westway looking from the Leighton Ave junction towards the A59 Northway.

* HIGH – The continuing success of the Maghull in Bloom and Maghull Station Volunteers as they try to improve Maghull’s environment.

A Maghull Town Council leaflet from 1998 - Strangely this time round the now Labour-run Town Council did not fight the Green Belt grab.

A Maghull Town Council leaflet from 1998 – Strangely this time round the now Labour-run Town Council did not fight the Green Belt grab.

* LOW – The rubber stamping of the Sefton Local Plan which will ruin Green Belt and kill off some of the 2% highest grade of agricultural land in England. A black cloud for for environmental campaigners indeed.

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* HIGH – The Bicentenary celebrations of the completion of the Leeds Liverpool Canal

On a personal note the start of 2016 was grim as I attended 4 funerals of people I knew in the first 4 months – former Lib Dem Councillors Joan Blackburn, David Rimmer and Kath Jones together with Lib Dem activist Susan Ashton. It finished with a further death this time of a relative in December whose funeral I could not get to because of traffic jams on the M6. But of course there were personal highs as well –

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* Being invited to play Santa for a session to help Maghull & Aughton Rotary Club and Maghull in Bloom fund raise was great fun.

Me sat in my old choir stall  at Sefton Church. I recall sitting in this very seat - if memory serves at all of course - it was over 40 years ago!

Me sat in my old choir stall at Sefton Church. I recall sitting in this very seat – if memory serves at all of course – it was over 40 years ago!

* Being invited to rejoin the choir of St Helen’s Church in Sefton Village, where I had been a choirboy in 1970, despite being an atheist was lovely. Obviously I politely declined.

Carl Cashman for Mersey Metro Mayor Launch 08 16 - Credit Charlie Green

* Helping a great young man to be selected as Lib Dem candidate for the Liverpool City Region Mayoral election to be held in May 2017. Carl Cashman is that young man. I have known him for some years now and am delighted he will be on the ballot paper.

Iain Brodie Brown - Mayor of Sefton at the Leeds Liverpool Canal Bicentenary celebrations in Maghull

Iain Brodie Brown – Mayor of Sefton at the Leeds Liverpool Canal Bicentenary celebrations in Maghull

* My old chum Iain Brodie Browne becoming Mayor of Sefton. A Liberal down to his boots and one of the most radical, capable and compassionate politicians I have ever come across.

So sadly 2016 has been a year of some very significant lows indeed. Some of those lows we will be grappling with the consequences of for maybe 10 years or more. Fortunately the odd bit of good news did filter through but surely 2017 has to be better?

The EU and why referendums are generally a bad idea

www.stratagem-ni.com/latest/2016/august/the-ten-commandments-of-referendums/

My view of the EU referendum has always been that it was a bad idea and so it proved to be as older voters in particular tried to use it to recreate their rose-tinted spectacled view of the 1950’s. It was also a matter that could not be sensibly addressed in one take it or leave it question. If 20 questions on the subject had been asked it still would not have explored all the issues that needed to be exposed and debated.

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Of course it was actually always about trying to save the Tory Party from UKIP and its own off the wall right wing extremists whom Cameron thought may defect to them.

That we are now likely to be in an almost permanent Brexit crisis well into the future is all but a given and of course the racist underbelly of the UK (which led to an MP being murdered) is now shamefully more exposed. But enough of my views which will be well known to those that follow this blog.

Just have a read of the the article in the link above because it is a fascinating analysis of referendums in general across the world and how they often deliver the answers to questions that were not even asked.

Why do we allow ourselves to be lied to?

I am sure that the vast majority of folks reading this will say I don’t want to lied to. But…….

And the but is this. We are all lied to on a regular basis by the media, politicians, businesses etc. Some lie openly but most lie in a way that some of us will not detect because the lies told feed our prejudices. So, in my case, if I hear a story slagging off Yorkshire County Cricket Club I will want to believe it as a Notts supporter. Now are you getting my drift?

But what if the lies we are told are about far more important things than a sporting allegiances? Without doubt we have been told lies [unless I am lying to you now of course] about the EU, immigration, the NHS, tuition fees, the Iraq war, taxation etc. etc. etc. in recent years.

Beware someone who tells you something that they know you are likely to want to agree with because it may well not be true, particularly if they are selling you something, trying to get your support or indeed wanting your vote.

Look at it this way newspapers play to the prejudices of their readers. They work on the basis that if we tell our readers something often enough they will believe it and repeat it as fact. Some of the more disreputable politicians do the same thing, but we know that don’t we?

I was once told by a politician that you need to find out what people are most upset about and then keep sending them messages (e-mails, leaflets etc.) that repeat those concerns and that whether those concerns are real or not does not matter.

Our problem is that with our busy lives we do not have the time, or say we don’t have the time, to find out the facts before we take a stance on things. We repeat what our family, friends and neighbours tell us without question at times and that is how falsehoods become ‘facts’ in public mind.

You could say that we are too lazy to check things out when someone we trust gives us an easy answer that fits with our prejudices, but that’s exactly how we are had by newspapers, politicians and businesses. They all put a lot of time and money into how messages are played to us so that we will react as they wish us to.

So if Auntie Mary or Uncle Fred for example is hooked by a dodgy message or ‘fact’ and then repeats it to the rest of his/her gullible family, who take it on board, then that dodgy message is spread just as the originator of it intended or at least hoped.

When polled we say that we hate lying politicians, rip-off business people and that we don’t trust what the media tells us but the fact that we are had quite often indicates that we are not actually very good at knowing when we are being lied to. This is particularly the case when we hear a ‘fact’ that we want to believe but is in fact a lie or a gross distortion of the truth.

Let’s look at few examples:-

* The NHS – we all now seem to take it as fact that we were lied to during the EU Referendum about £350m per week going into the NHS if we voted to leave the EU. Indeed, the very people who told that huge fib have openly now said it is not now going to happen! A big lie indeed.

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* Tuition Fees – This one sunk Nick Clegg (and rightly so) as he negotiated away his pledge not to increase them and indeed to scrap them. Strangely though some of us who were angry with him then voted for alternative politicians in the Labour or Conservative parties who were the instigators and promoters of Tuition Fees! So we were upset that Clegg had said one thing and done the opposite but by our actions we endorsed the policy of tuition fees. Now there’s a odd muddle for you.

* Taxation – It probably started under Thatcher but certainly Blair, Brown and Cameron built on it i.e. that we can have low taxation and great public services. And guess what, we can’t! We even had some recent nonsense from the Tories about a law to make it illegal for Parliament to increase some taxes. Their stance is built on the fact that we don’t like paying taxes so we like a message that says we don’t have to. We are also distracted by media messages that tell us that our taxes are wasted by fat-cat public sector bosses – we like that message too. That message may well be true at the margins but those that spread the message intend us to think that public money is wasted by hundreds of billions of Pounds each year. We want to believe it, so many of us do. Of course, this one is difficult for us to check out so the media and politicians who peddle that message are on to a winner.

If we keep believing what media outlets, businesses, politicians etc. tell us without checking things out, whilst trying to keep both an open mind and sceptical inquiring outlook, we will keep getting had! But are we too busy or too lazy to become better informed and less gullible?

14 months of playing the Tories games

Who living today will forget the appalling EU Referendum campaign with all its lies, exaggerations and misleading information. And who will ever forget the leadership crisis it precipitated in the Tory, Labour, Green and UKIP Parties.

We got the world’s attention alright and then made utter fools of ourselves and our democratic and tolerant values right in front of it. We could not have damaged the UK’s reputation any more if we had sent Cameron to the sea to hold it back or even appointed Boris to be say Foreign Secretary. We have sadly become the fool of the western world.

But we have in reality simply been playing a Tory Game of Thrones throughout this appalling debacle. Just look at the events.

Cameron only promised an EU referendum because he thought he would be in Coalition again and that the Lib Dems would block it. He was right about the latter but totally misjudged the former, as did many others. Can you imagine his disbelief and angst at the General Election result in 2015. He was now going to have to deliver on that promise he had made to keep his troops quiet, never actually thinking he would have to implement it! Oh dear what to do now, it had all been set up not to happen with the Lib Dems carrying the can for blocking it. The pollsters and electorate (assisted by our warped electoral system) had played a cruel trick on him and it will be a trick that will probably sink us all.

It was of course a terrible gamble that Cameron felt he had been forced to play because so many of this troops were on the verge of tripping over to UKIP. It was a punt that will ruin any credibility that he thought he would leave office with. The man who gambled every last chip at the poker table to save his Party but who lost the nations shirt (and pretty much the rest of our clothes) when his chips were down.

But he had made his bed and he thought he could lie down in it and win the referendum. He was very wrong as the Tory Party ripped itself to shreds and deepened its its already cavernous EU divisions. He has, of course, had to walk away and has done so a man in utter disgrace despite all the platitudes and goodbye smiles.

But it also transpired that Labour’s divisions were about to be exposed big time as well as their right wing (sometimes called Red Tories) decided to use what it said was Jeremy Corbyn’s lacklustre performance during the EU Referendum as a stick to beat him with. In fact that allegation seems not to stand up to close scrutiny as despite the press and ‘Red Tories’ saying Corbyn did not make the effort the facts look to be just the opposite. I am no apologist for the Labour leadership but the very best you can say about the attacks on Corbyn’s EU performance is that it was nowhere near as bad as his detractors have said it was.

So Labour fell apart too thanks to Cameron’s referendum, although this was probably his only personal bright spot this year!

And then Tory rats who had been sailing the good ship UK into high Brexit seas all decided to jump ship when they had filled the UK electorate with utter nonsense and won! They knew what they had done (you could see it in their let’s get out quick faces) and they were not about to stay around to help clean up the mess; even the UKIP leader ran off with them. But bizarrely May has brought Boris back for more punishment in a high profile job he could not resist!

So Tories, Labour and UKIP have all gone for a new leader, well Labour’s Red Tories want one but the left does not. We presently only know the result of the Tory selection as it was no election. It had more drop-outs than a poor university course!

Don’t you think it was odd that Johnson backed out of the Tory leadership race and was it not even more odd that Loathsome also backed out at the last minute? It’s it the case that the Tory 1922 Committee realised that a public election campaign between Loathsome and May would again tear the Tories apart so Loathsome was advised to back out? May therefore has been crowned without being exposed to the unpredictable and some Tories would say barmy Tory Party membership. But of course she has no mandate and no legitimacy.

So the whole charade since May 2015 has been about the Tory Party with us the poor bloody electorate being manipulated at every turn. Yes of course the process has also exposed fatal flaws in the Labour Party but that rematch has been on the cards ever since Neil Kinnock and then Tony Blair managed to chase socialists out of what was meant to be socialist party. The referendum result simply precipitated another attack by punch drunk Red Tories on Corbyn but it would have happened anyway.

But you know the Tories having manipulated themselves and us into a bloody awful mess expect to be able to rise up again and all will be OK with the Party that usually governs the UK. But will it?

Scotland having rid itself of a tired authoritarian Labour Party is surely going to go for independence again and who would bet against them getting it, deserving it and needing it? Sadly there are now few credible arguments for the Scots to stay in the UK and I say that as one who hoped they would stay in the first independence referendum.

And Northern Ireland, what will they do having voted to stay in the EU with Scotland. Clearly things are not so clear cut there with the Protestant community still wanting to cling on to being a part of the UK. But you know a united Ireland must be more on the cards now than it has ever been since separation because the Irish Republic is strongly supportive of the EU.

But then there’s the Remain voters in England and Wales who are clearly and thankfully (from my point of view) not going to take Brexit and all the potential trouble that comes with it lying down. Brexit voters may continue to tell us to ‘deal with it’, ‘shut up’, ‘move on’ but they must be on something if they think such advice will be listened to.

And finally (for now) there’s the huge question of what happens next. Clearly the Brexiters had no plan and had no intention of coming up with one. Is that why May has put them in Cabinet positions where they have no choice? When you ask them, as I have, you get awkward smiles, ‘it’ll all be OK’ type remarks and a change of subject. Some of them wanted Brexit at any cost so don’t seem to give a damn what happens next, although you can be sure they will pointing the finger of blame at everyone but themselves if and when the wheels do come off.

So Mrs. May you have a lot on your plate and no plan other than to say it will all work out well, or words that effect. Why you can see her sat down with Sir Humphrey now:-

Prime Minister – Your advice Sir Humphrey?

Sir Humphrey – Please read the transcript of the advice I gave to Mr Cameron Prime Minister.

Prime Minister – What good will that do?

Sir Humphrey – Well he ignored all the advice I gave him and he therefore created the hole that you are now sat deeply in Prime Minister.

Prime Minister – Oh bugger Cameron Humpy you know that advice was given to him so that he would ignore it – It was wasn’t it?

Sir Humphrey – No Prime Minister it was not. Time to Kiss your backside goodbye Prime Minister, I am off to advise the Scottish Government. But do not worry Prime Minister Mr Trump may be coming over the pond to give you the benefit of his advice, I am sure you will get on famously!

May to be Prime Minister – Excuse me this Brian Rix type farce has gone too far!

I suspect that I am hardly the only person who has watched in utter disbelief the folding farce of British ‘democracy’ in action over recent weeks.

It’s the kind of democracy where the leaders of the Brexit campaign all bugger off almost all at once after they have got what they campaigned for. You could say the leaders have all left the room.

It’s a democracy where we get a new prime minister, in effect, imposed on us. Yes I know it has happened before (Gordon Brown comes to mind) but that does not make repeating the stunt right.

It’s a democracy in utter turmoil since the Brexit vote, where every major party political leader but one (Tim Farron) is either buggering off or is being hacked to death (Jeremy Corbyn) by their own MP’s.

If ever we needed a General Election it must be now. We need a Government with a mandate to deal with the Brexit mess which could take up to 10 years to resolve. We need a Prime Minister we can have even a modicum of faith in who has taken their party through an election campaign and therefore has some legitimacy in the so terribly hard times ahead of us. Oh yes and we need Her Majesty’s Official Opposition to stop it’s own civil war and get on with being an opposition.

Goodness me how did we come to be in the state that we are? This is the kind of situation that Bill Bryson could write an all too funny piece about except that our resident American observer of we British must be almost as stuck for coherent words as we are and the situation is actually beyond farce!