Tuesday, 1 October 2019

Some Questions on Brexit

Whichever way you voted in the 2016 referendum, there is some essential reading here.

In the interests of not further inflaming the situation and creating more division than there is already, I have tried not to post my true feelings in any cogent form on social media, but I’m afraid that I have come to the end of my patience, because so many facts are not being reported by the mainstream media, in all its forms. I am also tired of the bias and lack of balance particularly at the BBC. I am also particularly concerned about the lack of coverage on the fact that the Leave Campaign broke electoral law and its leaders told barefaced lies. And why the silence on Cambridge Analytica, data harvesting and the influence this will have had via social media on the 'persuadables' e.g. those sections of the electorate, who normally don't bother voting or are what is otherwise described as 'swing-voters', and who rely more on reading headlines and listening to soundbites, rather than digging a bit deeper for what is the truth (or otherwise) that lies behind those headline statements.

It is evident that certain things are not discussed. Only things which have a touch of sensation - or preferably a whole boatload of sensation and drama, but also, worryingly, what appears to be more than a touch of government propaganda, not to mention external (international) interference in UK political affairs. Where has common sense gone? Where has the search for the middle ground gone, the ability to compromise; the willingness to listen; the will to regain faith amongst the vast swathes of the UK’s population, who can read beyond the headlines and listen for what lies behind the soundbites; the will to open up dialectic debate and enquiry. 

dialectic | ˌdʌɪəˈlɛktɪk | Philosophy
noun (also dialectics) [mass noun, usually treated as singular]
1 the art of investigating or discussing the truth of opinions.
2 enquiry into metaphysical contradictions and their solutions.
the existence or action of opposing social forces, concepts, etc.
The ancient Greeks used the term dialectic to refer to various methods of reasoning and discussion in order to discover the truth. More recently, Kant applied the term to the criticism of the contradictions which arise from supposing knowledge of objects beyond the limits of experience, e.g. the soul. Hegel applied the term to the process of thought by which apparent contradictions (which he termed thesis and antithesis) are seen to be part of a higher truth (synthesis). Socrates was closely associated with this mode of debate.

We have heard from those, who support the leave campaign, repeated common cries of  …

“parliament is a disgrace: 
“a second referendum would mean the end of democracy” 
“it is to end uncontrolled immigration” 
“Immigrants are taking our jobs”
“the EU is a federalist state”
“we want to take back control”

In answer, I would offer the following:

“Leaving Europe weakens the UK immeasurably”
So, in the interests of trying to present some cogent facts, I offer the following …

  1. As for cries of ‘parliament is a disgrace’ it is a fundamental tenet of Britain’s representative democracy, that we have 650 members, who represent the electorate, and who act as a check on rash government actions. It is called parliamentary democracy.
  2. The EU is the largest trading bloc in the World and can hold its own even against the USA, who failed to negotiate what was going to be a toxic free trade agreement in the TTIP (deceptively referred to as the TransAtlantic Trade and Investment Partnership), which would have trampled all over the EU’s hard won regulations on the environment, health, food and employment. Whereas, outside the EU, the UK is a small fish, who will have a much weakened negotiating position with what is effectively the huge, ruthless and very greedy American/Global corporate establishment … and don’t allow yourself to be fooled by talk of the ‘special relationship’. US corporates are only interest in things, in which they can make a financial ‘killing’.
  3. United we stand, divided we fall … never truer than now. the European project was a peace project, first and foremost. If you’re trading products and services with someone, you are less likely to get into a conflict with them.
  4. Becoming almost totally dependant on the USA for our economic ‘wellbeing’, heads this Great British Ship toward becoming the Fifty-First State of the USA and a sacrificial lamb to the aggressive foreign policies … that is both military and economic aggression. As already mentioned, the EU threw out the USA's TTIP trade deal four years ago and the US corporate establishment is smarting from that failure. So they would love to pick us off and are no doubt walking the corridors of power right now looking to do everything they can to encourage Brexit and do a toxic trade deal that will do to safety regulations on environment, food and agriculture, employment and above all, our own healthcare system, that TTiP threatened to do. They would dearly love to buy out our treasured NHS and turn it into their own, which may I remind you is the most expensive, most ineffective and most inhumane healthcare system in the developed world, driven solely by profit not compassion. The signs are already evident of this in the ramping up of advertising by US corporate healthcare concerns.
  5. There are countless personal stories of a whole generation and more, who have grown up with and become integrated in European life, to the benefit of their education in learning how to live with and respect the cultures of our neighbours. There will be countless cases of despair for many on both sides of the English Chanel, who will suffer from the separation that could result. 
  6. Net migration into the UK, during the tenure of this Conservative government since 2010, from outside the EU significantly exceeds what it is from inside the EU in the ratio 4 to 1. That is 80% UK of immigration is from non-EU countries.
  7. UK net contribution to the EU is about 0.4% of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) and accounts for less than 1.3% of public expenditure.
  8. Economic benefits of EU membership are over ten times the contribution and add about 4% to UK GDP.
  9. EU membership adds over £80 billion a year or £1,500 million per week - UK GDP is now £2.2 trillion. 
  10. In 2017-18 the UK’s contribution (to the EU) was £12.9 billion before grants and funding the UK received back. After these receipts, UK net contribution was £7.8 billion (£150 million per week - less than half the inflated figure of £350 million on the side of the 2016 Brexit bus!)
  11. Brexit is already causing UK economic growth to fall by about 2% or more a year - losing GDP of about £800m a week.
  12. Government expects the UK’s financial settlement with the EU to be between £30 and £40 billion, with payments running to 2064. However, the NAO (National Audit Office) has warned that it could be higher. 

Points 1 to 5 in the above are mine; 6 to 12 are taken directly from the Summary facts of the Brexit Factbase 3rd Sept 2019, with due deference and fully due acknowledgement to its author, Richard Barfield. I thoroughly recommend this useful and comprehensive web site to you. It covers many corners of the Brexit minefield in a very comprehensive way, including the EU and Sovereignty, contributions and benefits, trade and investment, immigration, impact assessments on the economy, industry sectors and regions, and policy areas. It also covers the history of negotiations, next steps and, importantly the impact of a no deal. 

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I’d like to conclude with an invitation to anyone who voted Brexit. I would genuinely like to hear your rational reasons for voting to leave. This is because I feel starved of rational explanations, besides those one liners we heard repeatedly during and since the referendum in 2016, which themselves are devoid of substance.

I should also add that any ‘trolling’, aggressive or antisocial comments, or statements designed to incite the same in others, I will delete summarily. I truly want to hear reasoned argument. Also defensive attacks on the 'Remain' campaign are not acceptable 'reasons' for voting Brexit, but I welcome reasoned, rational and referenced arguments for leaving the EU.

In the meantime, let there be peace. 

Friday, 22 March 2019

A National Crisis ...

On the face of it yes, we are in the midst of a national crisis. For more reasons than the obvious.

If you are inclined to believe that the UK’s democracy, economic and social strengths are unconquerable, then I think you need to review your position. I looked with despair at the news last night and of the film of crowds of people in East Africa, following the disastrous consequences on human life of the ‘Idai‘ monsoon. Desperate for shelter, medical care and, above all, food, we saw in broad daylight people of that region fighting each other, tooth and nail, over a bag of flour. It is awful to see how desperate they are.

Who was it said that we are only ever two meals from a breakdown of law and order? In the United Kingdom of Great Britain, despite the words used in its title - notably ‘united’ and ‘great’, we are never as far from that situation as we’d like to think we are. In truth, no-one in the Western World is. It is because we are human animals. There’s nothing wrong with being an animal, only, as animals, we require certain things to maintain our lives, our livelihoods, our ego (in the true psychiatric meaning of that entity), in other words, our instinct for survival. We are never far from rioting, irrational behaviours, anti social activities brought on primarily by the threat of insecurity. And right now I believe this nation is feeling more insecure than at any time since the last World War or at the height of the Cold War. 

The schism that currently exists inside both major political parties and, therefore, in parliament seems to represent the division in the country as a whole, but it has become a crisis, driven by opposing ideologies. If the Prime Minister continues her totally unnecessary vilification of MPs, notably those that stand against her ‘deal’, then it can only get worse. Nothing so far was more publicly humiliating, more unnecessary, more quite frankly offensive, than the Prime Minister’s statement yesterday at the podium inside No.10 Downing Street, Her divisive, aggressive, coercive language aimed at parliamentarians, who stand between her and her deal, is seriously damaging. She seems to be on a kamikaze mission, attempting to destroy this country’s faith in parliamentary democracy and her own career. But why?

This may sound very controversial, but I suggest that she is either a dictator in waiting, or the puppet of dictators waiting in the wings. Someone else seems to be pulling her strings and she hasn’t got the mettle to face her conscience in the face of a potentially very sinister scenario. either that or she and her Cabinet believes that they are the light that is necessary to lead the ignorant proletariat to pastures new. She’s acting like monarchs of old, who didn’t want parliament to intervene in their agenda, but who required the financial support of the richest and most influential individuals in society (now commonly referred to as oligarchs). We should not forget that, after the referendum, she didn’t want to include parliament in negotiations in the first place. Rather, she wanted to make the government’s Brexit decisions behind the closed doors of Cabinet, until she was forced by parliament to do the right thing; to give the vote on the final deal to MPs.

She maintains her defensive rhetoric like a broken record ... remember “strong and stable”, a meme that became a comedic cliche allegedly designed for her campaign by a certain media magnate, in the 2017 general election, which, let’s not forget, took her government from a slim majority to a minority! Now we have “determined to deliver what the people want” ... I personally think those “people” are primarily members of the ‘ERG’ and on the extreme right wing of her party, who believe we should go back to that 'romantic' notion of life 150-200 years ago, when Britain ruled the Waves and much of the World; they still believe that Britain is a great World power, who can stand alone in a World overcrowded with far greater ‘powers’. Delusion personified. They may also  have vested interests in that section of the country’s economy, that holds a majority of the financial cards or their own party’s financial support. It is a view that may also be supported by sections of the electorate, who felt, or were made to feel threatened by the racist rhetoric and undeliverable promises of certain factions in the referendum campaign.

Party leaders need to stop playing party politics. This is not the time. We all need to wake up and smell the coffee. Address some common sense. Start thinking objectively and be thankful that parliamentary democracy is still holding strong .. just. Take action. Write to your local MP to let them know you are involved. Let them know what you feel and what you want. It’s your entitlement to be informed and to participate in democratic processes. It has never been more important to exercise your democratic rights, but between those distant occasions when we are required to put an X in a box on an electoral form. We need to be better informed between votes, so that our votes can be better informed and more meaningful. 

Reading through this again makes it sound like a preachy diatribe, but it is one of the few ways that I can vent my feelings and views; by which I can try to form a rational perspective and validate those views.

Feel free to comment, especially if you disagree with anything, but keep it polite. 

Thank you. 

Wednesday, 20 March 2019


I recently came across an interview with clinical psychologist, Jordan Peterson, involving searing criticism of an earlier speech he made to a gathering of students. His defence is interesting, but the bit that interests me most is in the last eight minutes of the YouTube video that follows, which cuts to a speech made by him that focuses on what he refers to as human vulnerability, which I prefer to call insecurity. He speaks of the deepest of human vulnerabilities that cause us to do all the things we dislike or revile; he speaks of the individuality of human personality and most importantly, he speaks about the spectrum of political stations from the extreme left to the extreme right, in between which there sits a majority of ‘reasonable people’ who neither subscribe to nor should they be accused of adopting the extremes of politics. All of this reflects my own deepest thoughts on human individualtity. The threads of all this run through so much of my poetry and essays over the past eight years. But, as the man repeatedly says at the beginning of his talk, there are no surprises; it’s all very predictable ... well, at least, it probably is to a clinical psychologist who has carried out in depth studies of the most awful of human activities such as, and specifically the building of concentration camps and genocide.

You can watch and listen to it here : https://youtu.be/IIeI5kByIpI

The Spring edition of BeZine was published on 15th March. Perhaps a little early to be sure of this refreshing time of year, but then the birds and plants think it’s time to start nest building. They should know. I hope it isn’t another false Spring.

Anyway, there is a feast of thought provoking material, essays and poems; nourishment to feed hungry minds in this edition of The BeZine: https://thebezine.com/

(My thoughts on human frailty ... ‘Insecurity‘ is here: https://thebezine.com/portfolio/insecurity/ )

Saturday, 29 September 2018

100,000 Poets (and Friends) for Change ...

"Poetry. It's better than war"
~ Michael Rothenberg (Co-founder with Terri Carrion of the 100 TPC)

Details of today's annual campaign for Peace, Sustainability and Social Justice is HERE ...

What 100 TPC is all about is explained HERE: ...

And I shall be reading poems to children and young people at this marvellous and magical local charity HERE: ...

Saturday, 15 September 2018

The BeZine ... a Whole Lot of Life

The September issue of the BeZine is packed with a powerful punch that makes the current ‘Resistance’ to the extremely right wing political landscape, stronger than ever. It’s beginning to become truly Zeitgeist ... you would do well to read this month’s editor, Michael Dickel’s introduction and the many excellent contributions from writers around the World ...


Let there be Peace, Sustainability and Social Justice