Thursday, 1 December 2016

Friday, 24 June 2016

On The UK Referendum ... and its Result.

Well, David Cameron and his cabinet of privileged bubble dwellers have masterminded another stroke of shear genius, their own undoing! Or have they, perhaps, been so clever with their PR machine, that this is the result they actually wanted all along? Will they yet steal victory from the jaws of defeat, by turning their devious attention on furthering their own interests, knowing full well that they can say: "Well the people of this country voted for this, so this is what we must do!"..?

What is clear to me is that their own arrogance over the past six years has unleashed a massive backlash from a population of people who are clearly fed up, but, perhaps because of the state of political democracy, are also feeling a little rudderless. It occurs to me from the figures that it cannot simply be about the immigration issue on its own; there must have been some deep, considered thinking going on in households across the UK beyond the misleading sound bites ... or has there? Has there? 

Or has a crucial proportion of the UK's electorate simply allowed itself to be ruled, nay possibly manipulated by an emotional response to what is a game changing vote, with what must be a record (72%) turn out? Have the 'Leave' voters allowed themselves to be swayed by a desire for change, for the sake of change, from the relentless poor bashing' self-serving policies of a right wing elitist government? Have they allowed themselves to be moved to roll down their protectionist shutters in the belief that we will 'take back control'? Have they missed some crucial facts about the benefits of our membership of the EU? 

Have they missed the fact that, and I quote from a statement by Professor Michael Dougan, a leading light at Liverpool University, who is an acknowledged expert on EU Law: "a significant majority of the foreign nationals living in the UK (2/3 at the last national census), and over half the net immigration each year, come from outside the EU". Professor Dougan also says: "as regards those EU nationals who come to the UK: it is completely dishonest of prominent Leave campaigners repeatedly to claim that there is some sort of unconditional right to move to and settle in another Member State" ... that (my words) they presume will continue after our severance from the EU. And "Against that background, it is unsurprising to find that – according to all the objective social science research – EU migrants are significantly more likely to be younger, better qualified and economically active; they pay far more into the country in work and taxes than they take out in public benefits or services".

The full text of Professor Dougan's statement on European migration and the further link to his full talk on the legal aspects of our membership of the EU are to be found here.

The only objective thing I feel can say about the result of the UK Referendum, at this moment in time, is that it has engaged 72% of an electorate, a significant proportion of which is normally thoroughly disengaged from the political process. I also note that this referendum has effectively been conducted using proportional representation! I wonder what the result of the last general election would have been with a 72% turn out? I wonder what it would have been under proportional representation? There is a clue here, from those who habitually do not vote in local and general elections, that, perhaps, just perhaps the system needs changing! 

There is only one certain thing that will ... that would ever have ... come out of the vote to leave. It is that the future is very uncertain! At least more uncertain than if we had voted to Remain a member of the EU. These are very worrying times.

One last thought: the legal profession now have the unenviable task of disentangling ourselves from European Law and redrafting UK law! Well, perhaps it is enviable for your employment prospects, if you happen to be a lawyer, who specialises in European Law! What now for those European Laws that have come about as a direct result of our membership of the EEC / EU over the past forty years? Those laws that help protect our environment, help keep our food safe to eat, that give us employment rights, maternity leave etc. etc..?? What of all those charitable, cultural and caring organisations that rely on EU funding for their livelihood? In whose hands will this rehashing of UK laws be placed? Not the UK parliament, because they will simply not have the time and resource to digest and redraft the gazillions of pages of legal documents that cover a generation's worth of legislation! Legal groups appointed by government, manned by private lawyers, corporate lawyers ...?

What now!? One thing for sure that you can count on: we will not be better off. The 190 Million per week (NOT 350 Million) NETT contribution to the EU will not be available to find its way into the NHS and other public services, not least of all because, if the leaders of the Brexit campaign have any say in it, the NHS will be dismantled faster than the current government was attempting to dismantle it! And it is going to cost us to negotiate trade deals with other nations, country by country. 

Why in God's name, apart from to satisfy personal political ambitions, did we waste all this valuable time and money in holding a referendum in the first place!? What do we really hope to achieve by this separation!? I guess God only knows! 

Sunday, 10 April 2016

A Mass for Peace

I spent the first part of today marshalling a walk for Barnsley Hospice at Wentworth Castle this morning. Not that I wasn't also sparing thoughts for those who have been unfortunate, yet fortunate enough to have benefitted, directly or indirectly, from the services of a hospice, but I couldn't help but reflect on how much of an assault on the senses Karl Jenkins' "The Armed Man", a Mass for Peace, represents. Such an experience for the over one hundred members of Waldershelf Singers and Stannington Mixed choirs, who performed this powerful hour long piece last night!
I'd like to say I am thankful that I went to the Victoria Hall in Sheffield to witness this. Even though I am very familiar with this piece and have heard it many times over the past few years, last night It moved me more than I could ever have expected; and this is simply because it was performed so very, very well. I am feeling very proud to have been and still to be associated with the Waldershelf Singers and many of the performing musicians and singers. The fact that Waldershelf Singers' musical director, who conducted this performance, almost broke down at the end out of shear emotional exhaustion, is testament to the fact that this piece of music is undeniably a powerful tour de force; so well done Rachel! This was your own tour de force. Soloists: Hilary Osborn, Emily Doreen Atkinson, Daniel Timmins, Thomas Baycroft; to the musicians of the Inyerface Arts group: Joseph Shaw, Jack Chapman, Martin Thiselton and several other key and talented musicians; the back stage and front of house crews, Steve Osborn, Emily Needle and MANY more! Such a huge effort for a production that raised a lot of money for Contact the Elderly and British Red Cross. 
As a postscript, of course, it cannot be forgotten why this piece of music was written at the turn of the millennium, at the end of a century dominated by the most distructive of wars. We are also in the midst of the centenary commemorating the first of those wars, WW1. Karl Jenkins intention was to embrace all faiths and religions of the world, not forgetting the presence last night of an Imam from the Sheffield Mosque, who 'sang' the second movement, the Call to Prayers. These aims are very much in keeping with those of the Bardo Group, founded by G Jamie Dedes ... reminding us of our need to rise above the polarisation of politics and religion across the world.
I leave you with this ...