9. Democracy Assassination

30 10 2016

Brexit Blog 9:  Democracy Assassination

And so it goes on

In the fourth of these Brexit blogs, titled ‘The World of Posturing’ I warned about the various groups who sought to undermine the democratic will of the British people. I also, in Blog no.3, wrote about the impossibility of prophesying the future outcome of Brexit. Put these two together and look at what some very public figures have been saying recently and you provide an x-ray of the person in question, if I may put it like that.

Let me put before you three such figures who, in recent months, have stuck their heads up over the parapet of public awareness and revealed characters that, very mildly, are lacking (at least based on their most recent performances.)

Ken Clarke

Unwise Speaking:  Let’s start with a gem from the Times: “Mr Clarke, who first entered government in 1988 and left in 2014, claimed that the prime minister had no plan on how to execute Britain’s exit from the European Union.  Nobody in the government has the first idea of what they’re going to do next on the Brexit front,” he told the New Statesman.” (The Times 29th Sept 2016) 

He then went on to say, ““The idea that I’m suddenly going to change my lifelong opinions about the national interest and regard myself as instructed to vote in parliament on the basis of an opinion poll is laughable.”  So Ken Clarke has been made a member of Parliament over the years merely on the basis of “an opinion poll”? Here was a man we all thought to be intelligent and yet who puts this referendum, possibly the most important vote in thirty years, down as a mere “opinion poll”!!!!!

Accepting the majority in a democracy:  One of the comments at the end of that article rightly went on to question the idea that Ken Clarke could read the mind of the Prime Minister and, we might add, especially when his own mind is so closed.          For at least a century we have lived with party politics, and before that individuals, who disagreed with one another. It’s what democracy is about – being able to voice a view and letting there come a consensus of the majority, which the rest abide by.

I have often in this blog in the past commented how in this country we have moved away from ‘absolutes ethics’ or morality, and we are now observing the fruits of this in the anarchistic attitude that says today, you are wrong, I am right and I will do all I can to overturn you.  That essentially is what Ken Clarke has been saying. That is legitimate up to an election but after that, live with the majority decision; that’s what elections are all about.

Understanding ‘Negotiations’: Again and again, and I have commented on this more than once, there is this complete blindness, it seems, in some as to how you go about negotiations, and you do no show your hand until you have to. Even more, if you are not part of the policy making group in government, of course you may express an opinion, but beware of looking stupid if what you say ignores these obvious things.

Tony Blair

The Times speaks again:

The former prime minister risked angering supporters of Brexit by suggesting today that a vote could be held in parliament, or in a second referendum, on the new deal Britain strikes with the rest of the European Union. Mr Blair insisted that it was right to “accept the verdict of the people” delivered on June 23, but claimed that public opinion could change once the “reality” of Brexit becomes clear. The issue is not whether we ignore the will of the people, but whether … the ‘will’ of the people shifts  

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “When we held the referendum on June 23, we knew what we didn’t like about the European Union.  “But we haven’t yet seen the alternative. We don’t yet have the details of it … the reality of it.”  He said that if it becomes clear that the new EU arrangement does not make leaving “worthwhile” or tariffs will punish British business, “there has got to be some way, either through parliament, an election or a referendum” to rethink. Mr Blair has repeatedly made clear his opposition to the decision of 17 million voters to leave the EU.”

This is the man (admittedly looking every year of a ninety year old) over whom public opinion has been divided ever since in his wisdom he led us into a war against a despot who had – but didn’t have – weapons of mass destruction, without any real understanding of the workings of the Middle East and without any real plans how to help the country after the war was over. The result has been constant conflict and, some have said, been the breeding ground for militant Islam in the form of Isis. This is the man who now has the temerity to suggest that if you don’t like the outworking of an election, you can annul the election. If that had been applied to his time as PM it might have been considerably shorter! Apply that to Margaret Thatcher’s time in 10 Downing Street and she too might have departed the scene very much earlier with workers of all kinds breathing a sigh of relief.

Nicola Sturgeon

Now Nicola Sturgeon, head of the SNP, often comes over very well in the media. She has a winning smile and quite clearly, often has winning words. Without documenting her comings and goings over recent months, suffice it to say she has been playing the tables but for what end in mind, may still be a mystery.

If she was heading up a country that had wanted Independence a year or so back, and if she headed up a country in a strong financial position, her posturing might be understood. But to quote another source, “Just a few weeks ago, her officials released national accounts which show that, thanks to low oil prices, an independent Scotland would have the worst deficit in the EU, worse even than Greece. Independence would mean sado-austerity for Scotland.” (The Week 22nd Oct 2016) Scotland’s leaders appear to place their hopes after Brexit in going independent and attracting investment from the EU but the imponderables of that have had economists wondering.

The telegraph reported earlier this year, Income taxpayers in the rest of the UK will continue to subsidise Scotland by billions of pounds every year even after the Scottish Parliament wins control of the levy, a major new report published today has concluded.” (Telegraph 22nd March 2016) Since then Nicola Sturgeon has been pouring our reasons why their government is not overspending and seeking to make a case that greater freedom would enhance Scotland’s chances of increasing tax revenues. Highly speculative and equivalent in throwing more chips on the table at a poker game.

What haven’t we learnt?

Early on in these blogs I wrote about how so often the ‘experts’ and those in the know actually don’t know and are proved wrong. The falling pound, which I covered in the previous blog, is good news for exporters and bad news for home consumers and so, as I have watched recent articles, yes, yet again we have those bewailing the falling pound and saying nothing about how it has been benefitting others more generally, but still the articles come.

I referred not long back to Andrew Marr’s “A History of Modern Britain” and have just started to reread it. The opening page screamed at me, “We learn nothing from history.” He was writing about how everyone expected Winston Churchill to be re-elected in 1945: “Few people thought the wear leader could lose power. Most Labour leaders assumed he would be returned. So did the apparently well-informed City experts, the in-touch trade union bosses, the self-certain press, the diplomatic observers passing back the latest intelligence to Washington and Moscow.” They were all wrong!

Our last general election in which David Cameron came through triumphantly was a complete fiasco as far as the pundits, pollsters and the BBC prophesying throughout the evening, were concerned. I hear the echoes of a song from last century, “Oh when will they ever learn.”

A final conclusion: Question: How can journalists, MPs, columnists, commentators, and others pontificate so constantly about outcomes? Answer: Because there is such a tidal wave of reporting and commenting and abusive demeaning of the ‘others’ that there is little possibility in the years to come that anyone will be held accountable for these days of uncertainty, and so maybe Andrew Marr will write a history of this period and all that has gone on in it, with a starting page line, “We just didn’t know.”







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