The Labour membership should listen to the PLP.

July 24, 2016

The chamber of the House of Commons erupted at mid-day on Wednesday with the arrival of the new Prime Minister to her first PMQs. The Tory Party, torn apart by the EU referendum, was now seemingly united behind its leader. By contrast, the chamber fell silent on the arrival of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. His own backbenches, ignored after a no confidence vote, threatened with de-selection for disloyalty, constantly attacked as red Tories and Blairites for daring to criticise the leader, were understandably quiet. And yet, Diane Abbott took to the airwaves immediately afterwards to express surprise that the PLP isn’t dancing around like cheerleaders with Corbyn tattoos and unveiling massive statues to him around the World. Abbott, Corbyn, McDonnell, and members are unable to understand that the Labour leader cannot command any Parliamentary support, and that in itself is a massive problem.

Let’s quash the myth immediately that the Parliamentary Labour Party is in any way acting undemocratically in opposing the Labour Leader. It isn’t. When Jeremy Corbyn was a backbench MP and sought to dethrone both Kinnock and Blair, he was well within his right to do so. In 1988 when supporting Tony Benn’s campaign to oust Kinnock, Corbyn said:

“By having an election, we will force a debate about the direction of the party in which it will be more difficult for Kinnock to make everything an issue of loyalty to him.”

– Quite. One when or two Labour MPs rebel against the leadership, it’s easier to put down. But think of this recent rebellion as an entire Party of 1988 Jeremy Corbyn’s. The leadership simply cannot secure confidence in that environment.

Four years later, Corbyn was supporting a challenge against the next Labour leader he had no interest in supporting. In 1992, Corbyn insisted that John Smith had shown “no real opposition“. 10 years later in 2002, he did the same when asking for a challenger to Blair to come forward. In 2003, he demanded an annual leadership election. At no point did the hard-left accuse him of undemocratic disloyalty. Now that he has hold of the strings of power, their demand is loyalty or leave. Jeremy Corbyn was not undemocratic then, and the PLP are not undemocratic now.

Let’s also quash the myth that Labour MPs are not representative of Labour Party at large. Those Labour MPs were selected, cleared, and elected by constituents for the 2015 general election. They represent the Party as it was voted on by constituents. That is the epitome of Parliamentary democracy. Members were not trying to deselect those MPs when they were winning constituencies for Labour. New members may not represent the view of the 2015 Labour Parliamentary Party. They can change that in 2020 if they want. But right now, Labour is not a hard-left Parliamentary Party, it wasn’t elected as the main opposition party on a hard-left platform, and MPs should not be betraying the message they were voted on, to suit new members.

To be clear, the PLP’s first commitment is to maintain a Labour Party in Parliament as ready for government at any moment as the only way to legislate in favour of Labour principles. This means appealing to a broader coalition of voters, than simply the hard-left. This means being able to produce a full shadow cabinet with a reserve pool of talent as well. This means a leader that the PLP is willing to fully support. Everything the PLP has done has been democratic and with the aim in mind that in order to change the country, it needs to win an election. It has used a perfectly acceptable Parliamentary procedure to issue a vote of no confidence in its leader. Shadow Cabinet members tried to work for Corbyn, and it didn’t workout. For that, his supporters have abused and attacked them. The PLP then sparked a leadership challenge and asked for clarity on the rules. It will now run a leadership challenge on the basis of those rules. That’s it. That isn’t undemocratic.

On election of the leader, I would agree that the Parliamentary Party should listen to its members. The members vote for the candidate put forward by the PLP. Indeed, at that point the members haven’t challenged the idea that the PLP decides who can stand for leader. Their lack of challenge implies acceptance. They accept that the PLP has to have a form of power over the process of electing their leader in Parliament. I’d presume they accept this premise, because the Labour Party is a Parliamentary Party within a Parliamentary democracy. So clear is this, that The Labour Party’s own rulebook, Clause 1.2 says:

“Its purpose is to organise and maintain in Parliament and in the country a political Labour Party.”

– It would seem clear to me, that if the Parliamentary Party that must be maintained and ready for an election cannot work with the leader nor has any confidence in the ability of the leader to win that election, it would relay this message back to the membership in the form of a vote of no confidence, and the membership then have a duty to return a leader that the people in Parliament – not the hard-left Parliamentarians they hope make up the majority of MPs – the ones elected on a far more moderate platform in 2015, can work with. At that point, it becomes the responsibility of the membership, to support the Parliamentary Party with a candidate they can rally behind. Continuously sending the same leader that the PLP decidedly cannot work with, implies that the membership care very little for actual political power – where societal and economic change happens – and only care for flexing hard-left muscles with the illusion of power.

At this point, it is the Labour membership that must return a Parliamentary leader the Parliamentary Party can support and unite behind. If the membership does the opposite, the membership is entirely to blame for handing the 2020 general election to the Conservative Party.


Why I joined the Liberal Democrats.

July 20, 2016

Two weeks ago I joined the Liberal Democrats. I thought I’d explain my reasons.

Let’s start with today. Today was Theresa May’s first PMQs as Prime Minister. I understand the frustrations of those loyal to Jeremy Corbyn, that Prime Minister’s Questions is an embarrassment, having nothing to do with holding the Prime Minister to account, and everything to do with grandstanding, and getting memorable digs in that make the next day’s papers, and fill up Sky News’ political talking points. It makes me squirm any time a Conservative MP is laughing uncontrollably after a question from a struggling member of the public is read aloud. The lack of decorum is a shame on the prestige of the building and its history. It’s not how it should be, but it’s how it will continue to be until genuine Parliamentary reform is undertaken.

So, with the framework being as it is, an opposition leader needs to outsmart the Prime Minister in a battle of wits, before the serious topics can be put to her. The PM needs to be backed into a corner and not let out. Jeremy Corbyn does not do that. Today, he was slapped down, and his important questions got lost, only to be ressurrected online by his supporters who cannot find an audience, judging by today’s poll numbers showing the Tories on 40% and Labour way down on 29%. Corbyn’s inability to grasp the workings of PMQs allowed Theresa May to stand at the dispatch box and announce unchallenged how much she cares for the well being of the least privileged, how much she devotes her time to services like domestic violence. Both points are wholly and easily discredited by her actual appalling record. She should be easily challenged, but she wont be.

The Tory Party abandoned the centre-ground of British politics long ago. When its Chancellor alluded to the idea that the concept of welfare played a role in the Philpott murders – a grotesque use of psychopathic killings, for ideological nonsense. When the former Prime Minister aided the rise of Saudi Arabia to the head of the UN’s Human Rights Council and Tory MP Daniel Kawczynski is given the nickname the MP for Riyadh. When the current Foreign Secretary believes President Obama can only possibly support a Remain vote, because he hates the UK for ancestral reasons; the colour of the President’s skin falls under suspicion in a way that the colour of my skin never will. When theyworkforyou.com ranks Theresa May’s own voting record as “in general, voted against laws that promote equality and human rights”. When the line that properly funding services like mental health services would be to burden our children with higher taxes, as if burdening them with poor quality essential services and no housing is perfectly fine.

So there’s a gap in the centre. Similarly, The Labour Party abandoned the centre-left of British politics the moment it elected a leader who suffers from the Stop The War Coalition mentality, of supporting, defending, and excusing the most illiberal regimes on the planet, if those regimes happen to dislike the US or Israel. The Shadow Defence Secretary will eulogise Chavez as a working class hero despite Human Rights Watch criticising Chavez as an autocrat who violently censored criticism, and – ironically on the subject of justice – imprison judges who didn’t do as he demanded. Corbyn will refer to Hamas as “dedicated to peace and social justice and political justice” despite their goal of a far-right theocratic state that sacrifices all Palestinians who do not happen to be male, heterosexual, Islamists.

In short, whilst Corbyn is uncompromising in his socialist values, liberal values are quickly abandoned in order to stand in solidarity with illiberals. Conservatives are uncompromising in austerity politics over the past few years, whilst liberal values are quickly discarded for some sort of trade benefit with Saudi Arabia. Both of those do not sit well with me.

Liberal values, values that ensure we treat each other as individuals not to be conflated with ill-defined ‘groups’; values that ensure we are free to express thoughts, to criticise holy books that for centuries has been off-limits and can still end up with you being shot at the headquarters of a satirical magazine; values that ensure that ideas have no rights and remain open to criticism, scrutiny, dislike, support, and that censorship not only limits the right of the individual to express and inquire, but limits my right to hear; values that ensure no institutional privilege is granted based on wealth, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, or belief, but all are given an equal right to participate; values that insist that education and health are rights not luxuries; values that promote the right to stand for election, to vote, to express discontent, to organise, to pursue our own goals without molestation, nor told what to say, think, dress, or believe at the point of a gun; values that ensure that my right to myself and my happiness and my life does not end, where someone else’s ideology or religion begins; values that do not condemn the most vulnerable as worthless scroungers but provides a caring and understanding springboard for those people to be what they want to be; And we must robustly defend these principles, we must be clear domestically that humanity progresses when society is open, and we must be clear in international affairs that we will not abandon our values to be spectators of great injustice for the sake of trade deals. We must defend liberal principles, and not be scared at any point to express the superiority of liberal, secular, democracy.

Indeed, we base our liberal principles not on ideology, but on the fundamental truth that no human being is born naturally attached to any man-made ideological framework of power, nor permitted natural privilege over fellow humans. We are free at birth, and so the burden is on those who seek to restrict our natural liberty to explain the benefit of doing so, rather than on us to explain why they shouldn’t. Our ideological moment begins when we seek to protect those natural liberties through civil rights, that others would seek to restrict or abuse. Across the World, we must seek as the objective, the removal of barriers to individual liberty where that liberty harms no one else. This includes condemning regimes that work toward the opposite.

I confess to being new to the area I now live in, and so local issues are somewhat alien to me at the moment. Echoing my newness to the area, I am new to the Liberal Democrats, and so whilst I have a rudimentary grasp on the history of the Liberal Party and the Social Democrats, I’m more interested in values and giving them an active, political voice. As such, the Liberal Democrat constitution confirmed to me that if I am to join a political party in the UK, to be politically active, to have any sort of say over its policies and ideas in a Parliamentary democracy that (rather regretfully) relies on parties, it must be the party that states in its opening declaration, that it exists to:

“… build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity. We champion the freedom, dignity and well-being of individuals, we acknowledge and respect their right to freedom of conscience and their right to develop their talents to the full.”

– So whilst a lot of new members to the Liberal Democrats seem to have been attracted as a response to the Brexit vote, for me it was more the case of seeing a real opportunity to fill the gap left by a cultural relativist regressive left that is paralysed and cannot scrutinise a government moving further to the right every day, and a market fundamentalist right that will simply erase the desperate pleas of the most vulnerable and replace them with false promises of a better future, and to strongly promote and defend liberal values when in the past few years, that voice has been severely lacking. This is why I joined the Liberal Democrats.


Canary, Corbyn, and Kennedy.

July 19, 2016

Fresh, fearless, independent journalism” is the roar you hear from The Canary. An online publication that seems to exist with the sole purpose to defend the Corbyn side of the Labour Party until its dying breath, with uncritical tales of sinister conspiracies that don’t exist, and words like ‘coup’ to describe a perfectly reasonable Parliamentary procedure in a Parliamentary democracy of a vote of no confidence in a leader seeking a Parliamentary majority to govern.

Around a week ago, The Canary published a story that has since disappeared. Owing, I’m guessing, to its utterly absurd premise:

JFKCorbyn

– That’s right, The Canary compared Jeremy Corbyn to John Kennedy.

The article tells us that the ‘establishment’ tried to stop Kennedy. I’m immediately suspicious of anyone telling me that an ill-defined ‘establishment’ acting as a coherent unit are working together to defeat an unpopular candidate. It stinks of a refusal to accept any responsibility. And when it comes to Kennedy, well, the establishment line simply doesn’t fit the same line they’re trying to apply to Corbyn. We should perhaps remember that Kennedy’s dad Joseph was the establishment. A high ranking member of the Democrats, Jo Kennedy was appointed chairman of the SEC, and Ambassador to the United Kingdom under FDR. His extreme wealth allowed him untold influence within Democrat Party politics. Joseph’s father Patrick also had great influence in the Democratic Party and held a lot of stock in a bank. John Kennedy himself had been in the House and the Senate, and easily won the nomination in 1960, his brothers had similar lives, with Edward Kennedy the Lion of the Senate for decades.

The article then presents a video of Kennedy giving a speech on the negative effects of censorship, govt secrecy & withholding information from the public, and that an enemy (he’s talking about the Soviet Union) who rely on subversion instead of elections are to be opposed.

Now, If we are to bring that speech into the 21st Century, we might apply it to the censorship, the threats to journalists, the imprisoning critics, of Chavez’s regime in what is now the failed state of Venezuela. The same regime that Corbyn’s Shadow Secretary of State for Justice Richard Burgon has such fond feelings towards:

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– This is the Shadow Secretary of State for Justice mourning the loss of a man who, according to Human Rights Watch, wasn’t too keen on justice:

“Lower-court judges have faced intense pressure not to issue rulings that could upset the government. In 2009, Chávez publicly called for the imprisonment of a judge for 30 years after she granted conditional liberty to a prominent government critic who had spent almost three years in prison awaiting trial. The judge, María Lourdes Afiuni, was arrested and spent more than a year in prison in pretrial detention, in deplorable conditions. She remains under house arrest.”

Indeed, Kennedy’s speech, when brought into the future, might even refer to Mao’s regime, who, ten years after Kennedy’s death, had the support of Corbyn’s then teenage spin doctor, Seumas Milne:

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– So similar is Corbyn to a Kennedy Administration that dedicated its entire foreign policy framework to anti-Soviet activities, that he appointed as his Justice Secretary a man who mourns the loss of a left wing leader who used the justice system to protect his position, and a press secretary who happened to once be a dedicated Maoist and went on to become business manager of a publication made by the publishing arm of the Communist Party of Great Britain (a publication – Straight Left – that supported the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the late 1970s). The same Milne, who a couple of years back insisted that Stalin’s murders had been “exaggerated” and Nato was to blame for the violence in Ukraine, not Russia. I’m not entirely sure Kennedy would have approved. Though just in case you’re unsure, here’s Kennedy speaking in 1960:

“The enemy is the communist system itself — implacable, insatiable, unceasing in its drive for world domination.”

Kennedy himself was of course nothing like Jeremy Corbyn. Kennedy – in the context of the 1960s – flowed between liberal and conservative, he governed from the centre, he was slow on civil rights (his brother and his Vice President were far more liberally minded on that issue, far more progressive, and far more correct), but he defended and empowered unions, and took on big business when necessary. But he wasn’t dogmatic, indeed he took on unions and defended free trade when he thought it right to do so too. His Federal budget was lower than Eisenhower’s, yet he increased military spending. He was neither left nor right, he was a pragmatist, and a liberal.

The Canary article says of Kennedy:

“He alone dared to stand by principles of peace and equity at a time when the rest of the world seemed determined to self-destruct.”

– They must be wholly unaware of the Bay of Pigs, and the sanctioning of the overthrow of Diem. But I expect nothing more from an article that seems wholly unaware that the UK Prime Minister actually resigned as a result of the Brexit vote:

“This latest and most officious coup to topple Corbyn was supposedly born of disappointment – his alleged inability to galvanise Labour voters in the recent referendum. Hang on. Has nobody noticed our new Prime Minister was also of the “remain” camp, and barely uttered a word during the whole campaign? Why is it not our actual leader and governing party that are having to defend against votes of “no-confidence”, and being held accountable for the opening of Pandora’s Box?”

Back to Kennedy. In 1963 just two months before his fateful trip to Dallas, Kennedy signed a tax cut that slashed tax rates across the board, including the top rate of tax for the wealthiest and a 5% cut in corporation tax. David Rockefeller and Henry Ford II fully backed his plans. Indeed, when Kennedy’s US Ambassador to India – the Keynesian John Kenneth Galbraith – opposed the tax cuts, Kennedy called him into his office and told him to “shut up”. Kennedy was listening to Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors Walter Heller on the idea of tax cuts. The more left-leaning Democrats in the Party where complaining that the tax cuts were too beneficial to the wealthiest.

A year before the sweeping tax cuts, Kennedy proposed tariff reductions. In a speech in 1962 on the Free Trade Expansion Act, Kennedy said:

“This act recognizes, fully and completely, that we cannot protect our economy by stagnating behind tariff walls, but that the best protection possible is a mutual lowering of tariff barriers among friendly nations so that all may benefit from a free flow of goods. Increased economic activity resulting from increased trade will provide more job opportunities for our workers. Our industry, our agriculture, our mining will benefit from increased export opportunities as other nations agree to lower their tariffs. Increased exports and imports will benefit our ports, steamship lines, and airlines as they handle an increased amount of trade. Lowering of our tariffs will provide an increased flow of goods for our American consumers. Our industries will be stimulated by increased export opportunities and by freer competition with the industries of other nations for an even greater effort to develop an efficient, economic, and productive system. The results can bring a dynamic new era of growth.”

Whilst Kennedy – in a letter to Ben Gurion – is critical of Israel developing nuclear arms, because it might push hostile Arab states to leap to the Soviets, – his entire foreign policy was a framework of suspicion of the Soviets – he was especially and publicly supportive of Israel’s right to exist and to defend itself. Kennedy says:

“For Israel was not created in order to disappear – Israel will endure and flourish. It is the child of hope and the home of the brave. It can neither be broken by adversity nor demoralized by success. It carries the shield of democracy and it honors the sword of freedom; and no area of the world has ever had an overabundance of democracy and freedom.”

– This insistence that Israel will not be broken is in stark contrast to our old friend Seumas Milne, who in a video not too long ago, insisted that Hamas – a group of far-right Theocrats who want Israel to be eradicated – wont be broken.

Above all, Kennedy was a liberal. He believed in freeing individuals up to pursue their own goals; In the Senate he worked to eliminate the enforcement of oaths of loyalty from aid recipients; he opposed the sort of censorship we see from those Corbyn & his loyal following swoon over, he opposed Soviet influence across the World; he promoted free and open trade in the hope of encouraging struggling businesses; he was proud of his plan to lower tax rates for people across the board; he supported social security that protected individuals from soaring healthcare costs that rendered them less free; he believed workers have an inherent right to collective bargaining; and he advocated a Jewish right to self determination in Israel.

For The Canary to imply that Corbyn is at all similar to Kennedy, to have to use Kennedy’s memory as a great progressive to try to win over centre-left liberals who admire Kennedy, is to subtly and perhaps subconsciously accept that they cannot simply win a general election by preaching to the Socialist Workers Party, they have to win over the centre and centre-left, and that maybe, just maybe dismissing those people as red Tory, Blairite establishment, isn’t going to win over anyone.


Dear Momentum….

June 28, 2016

Dear Momentum,

My name is Jamie. I am a centre-left voter. Traditionally, my family has always voted Labour, I’ve oscillated between Labour and the Liberal Democrats for my voting years (I’m 30 now). I tend to be suspicious and critical of all power structures, including the leader of the opposition.

I want to vote Labour. I really do. I feel naturally drawn to the Labour Party. At the beginning of Corbyn’s leadership, I was willing to give him an opportunity and to defend him against criticism where I felt it not right. For example, I felt his comments that the killing of Bin Laden was tragic, were taken out of context and cynically used. As were his comments on Emwazi’s killing, in fact, I wrote on it here.

But here’s the thing; I cannot vote for a man who thinks Hamas are “…dedicated to social and political justice” (he genuinely did say that, it’s on film, it cannot be dismissed as ‘oh he just wants to get them to the negotiating table) and signs motions that imply a genocide attempt in Kosovo was invented by the US. Nor can I vote for a man you put forward – in a very UKIP manner – as fighting the establishment, when he’s spent a good thirty years defending some of the most dictatorial establishments (like Chavez) on the planet, worked for Russian State media, and didn’t have too much of a problem with Gaddafi. Nor can I vote for a man who seems to have half-arsed his way through the EU referendum debate, never challenging the clearly false claims made by the Leave side. I just can’t. And there are plenty of centre and centre-left who feel exactly the same. My local MP is a Labour MP, and because I feel my values – where social justice is not anything like that of Hamas – have been abandoned by Momentum and Jeremy Corbyn, I am unlikely to vote Labour. The PLP are not evil red Zionist Tories, they are real people worried for their jobs. Which is an electoral problem.

Here’s the thing; excusing religious supremacy should be as far away from the Labour Party as excusing racial supremacy. It should be a line that none of us cross, when we walk into the voting booth. We accept that Israel’s right wing is a bigoted group determined to block a peace process, but that does not mean we suddenly side with Hamas. We should side with those abused by both Israel and Hamas, and we should promote liberal, democratic, secular values, not defend and excuse groups that seek to impose the exact opposite. We should look at World leaders regardless of whether they hang out on the left or the right, and criticise them the moment they start to restrict free expression, threaten LGBT, and harm journalists. We should not defend them as Corbyn has done with Chavez in the past, and as I suspect a lot will do when Castro dies. Chavez was a man who, according to Human Rights Watch:

“Under Chávez, the government dramatically expanded its ability to control the content of the country’s broadcast and news media. It passed laws extending and toughening penalties for speech that “offends” government officials, prohibiting the broadcast of messages that “foment anxiety in the public,” and allowing for the arbitrary suspension of TV channels, radio stations, and websites.”

Journalists silenced and threatened, judges imprisoned  for refusing to condemn critics of Chavez, and a failed state legacy. How did Corbyn respond to that grotesque abuse of basic liberal principles?


. Again, support of those who stomp on rights all over the place should be a line we don’t cross, as liberal Labour voters. I wont cross that line. And that will be echoed across the country. Labour MPs who are now revolting, are doing so because the values of the Labour leadership, the Socialist Workers Party, and Momentum are nowhere close to being aligned to the values of constituents. They are nowhere near aligned to my values; libera-left, secular democrat.

Further, I have been a constant critic of the Tory Party. I have been a constant critic of malicious Tory rhetoric since 2010. I have criticised members of the Labour Party for refusing to challenge Tory narratives. The Tory use of the Philpott murders to attack the concept of Welfare, I consider to be one of the biggest cases of grotesque opportunism I’ve ever come across. Their defence of Saudi Arabia to the point where they aided their rise to the chair of the UN Human Right Council, is astonishing. I want the bedroom tax gone for all the misery is has inflicted. And yet for this, if I criticise Jeremy Corbyn, you will label me a ‘Red Tory’, or a ‘traitor’, or part of a vast Zionist conspiracy. When I gave my support to strategic and limited airstrikes on IS targets to aid allies who have now – with the help of airstrikes – liberated much of previously held IS strongholds, you responded by telling me I support killing children. How do you expect to win an election with that? When we read that your supporters are threatening Labour MPs, how do you expect to win support for that way of doing things?

Do not take this as an undemocratic swipe. I do not think it wise for the PLP to overturn Labour rules and replace a Labour leader democratically elected by the members. I think the members should be in control of who the leader is. I am pleading here, as someone who doesn’t want another decade of Tory rule, for the members to elect a leader who can actually win an election, and not just a man who happens to be on the left. Please, critically analyse him.

Because if you want to win an election, which I assume you do, I assume this isn’t all grandstanding, I assume it’s not all a show of power with no goal in sight, then you’re going to need to win back voters on the centre of the spectrum, because if you don’t, the Tories will. You’re going to need to win back voters from the centre-left, because if you don’t, they’ll vote Liberal Democrat or just not bother to vote at all. You cannot just insult us, dismiss our concerns, and think it’ll be fine… it wont. You’re going to need to talk about immigration, because if you don’t, you’ll lose even more working class voters to UKIP. And we then have to watch as you hand another election to the Conservative Party. So far, you insult all centre and centre-left voters as Tories despite our continued battle against them, you insult working class people by refusing to acknowledge their concerns about immigration, and you refuse to acknowledge that winning an election requires a rainbow of voters, not just those dedicated to the far-left. You have abandoned every principle necessary for victory, and all the people you need to win over. It is difficult to tell what your goal actually is.

A general election is a likely scenario following the appointment of a new Conservative leader. And the Tories are in freefall at the moment, they are – as always – tearing themselves apart over Europe. For this, we need a Labour Party that can win an election. Whilst you’re hemorrhaging working class voters to UKIP, centre-left voters, and centre voters elsewhere, the Labour Party under Corbyn cannot win an election. The game is up. It’s time to move on.

Jamie.


Brexit: Democracy to anti-democracy.

June 25, 2016

It’s an odd one, is democracy. It brings out all the hypocrites spectacularly quickly, and they rather like to scream the loudest. 

I voted for the United Kingdom to remain a part of the European Union. Naturally I was called a traitor, as I suspect a lot of Leavers were called racists. But not only did my side lose, the town that I live in voted to Leave. I lost. My side lost. And whilst I don’t particularly feel comfortable with 51.8% of the population stripping me of my European Citizenship and rights without my full consent, I wont be signing the petition calling for a second referendum like some in the remain camp are doing (and apparently Nigel Farage).

I wont be doing that, because if the result had been the other way around, I wouldn’t be calling for it, and nor do I expect most remain voters would have called for it. I wont be doing that, because I was fine with the rules of the referendum and made no complaint in the lead up. I wont be doing that, because I respect democracy. Something that a few Leave voters have already decided to abandon.

The dust had barely settled at the polling booths, before the Leave elites were taking to the air-waves to distance themselves from their leading arguments during the campaign. Hannan was much more subdued in his comments on immigration, despite Leave whipping up fear of immigration in the final days of the campaign, with hideous leaflets about Turkey, and posters with queues of brown people. Farage insisted there will not be £350m extra to pump into the NHS, despite a Leave voter just moments before explaining how she was excited for that extra money to be pumped in. They never claimed the NHS would have more spent on it, said the voices of the Leave campaign who have in the past expressed their delight at the idea of privatising the health service. They never implied it, they said. Except when they did, which was always, and except when they were confronted on it, and simply refused to answer, turning instead to empty substance-less sentiments like “make Britain great again!“. Except here:

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As well as completely distancing themselves from manipulative claims that essentially won them a momentous vote, they’ve also appeared to distance themselves from the very democratic values that they’ve run an entire campaign on. Indeed, Boris insisted the result of the referendum was a victory for democracy! They – along with the Mail, Telegraph, and The Sun – had defeated the establishment. No longer would elected elites appoint unelected leaders to govern as the head of a large state. Boris Johnson. A man – a Royalist man, incidentally – likely to be appointed by a small group of Tory elites, to the role of head of the UK government, with a new agenda that apparently I shouldn’t be allowed to vote for or against. But wait!, say the Brexit hypocrites! That’s how our system works, so it’s absolutely fine to abandon the “let the people beat the elites!” mentality. In this instance, because it’s ‘just the way we do things around here’, it’s fine apparently. A new government is going to be distinctly more anti-EU than the current lot, a completely different ideological mentality. A Brexit government. Let’s be clear; no one voted for a Brexit government. This wasn’t on the ballot paper. No one voted for Boris to lead the country. No one voted for Farage to have a place in it (which he likely will). They will be appointed, not elected. But it’s our system, so they say it’s now fine to adopt a principle you fought against 24 hours prior. If I had run an entire campaign against the ‘establishment elites’ who are appointed by elected officials, and then I – an establishment elite – agree to be appointed by elected officials, and not the British people, I suspect I might feel like I’d completely abandoned an essential principle.

In the run up to the referendum, Nadine Dorries – from a Party that has forever referred to anyone implying that great wealth may not understand great poverty as indulging in the ‘politics of envy’ – went on a grand rant about a millionaire like David Beckham not understanding ordinary people. The hypocrisy at that point was at ‘breaking point’. But she isn’t the only one. The politicians positioning themselves as the great protectors of the British working class, against the elites, are the same politicians who vote to cut essential services, aren’t a fan of minimum wage, vote to cut taxes for the wealthiest at the expense of a safety net, & think the NHS should be abandoned. This is matched only by the utter uselessness of the current Labour leadership to wrestle those voters back.

And then there’s Toby Young. His article criticising the hyperbolic response by some remainers (the suggesting that Thursday was like waking up to find out the Nazis had won the war was a little bit bizarre, though if you search ‘nazis’ on Twitter, literally everything on the planet is compared to them at some point, including voting to remain) was going so well, until this:

“Over 33 million people have had their say about the future of these islands and those who woke up this morning to find things didn’t go their way must accept the result and work with the majority to do their best for the country.”

– I have several issues with this. In the space of about four hours, the UK had voted to leave the European Union with no plan in place for what comes next, the pound tumbled to 31 year lows, the Prime Minister resigned, Corbyn was under pressure to go, and the markets lost billions, but Toby Young would rather we all just moved on, despite a seismic shock.

The implication that a result of a democratic exercise – regardless of its instant ramifications – should not be scrutinised and we should all just accept it and move on, to be made by a political commentator is just bizarre. The arguments now being quickly abandoned, we should just get past it and move on. The dangerously divisive posters that imply sinister dark skinned men are about to swarm the country, we should just allow those who knew exactly what they were doing when they created it, to get away with no scrutiny and we should move on. People are genuinely scared for what has just happened, for the future, for their family’s future, and so those who voted for this do not get a free pass from criticism or political scrutiny. Indeed, I would argue that a very fundamental principle of democracy, is holding to account the winning side. Gove had dismissed the importance of experts, with their knowledge and reason, replacing it with pure belief… a very religious and irrational sentiment that I find unnerving to say the very least, because as the pound tumbled to its lowest level in 31 years (my entire life time), Young would rather we all didn’t scrutinise what led to it. The voices of belief over reason, and “I believe in Britain!” sentiments over practical implications win without question, when we imply their rhetoric, their narrative, should just go unquestioned.

Whilst Young criticised Remainers on social media, I will take the time to criticise Leavers on social media convinced that “It’s just my opinion” is a rhetorical shield that protects their opinion from criticism. It doesn’t. Your view is as open to debate, to mocking, to scrutiny, to contempt, as any other, just as Soviet Communism is, just as Islamism is, just as Nazism is. No view is to be protected. Including mine. And to scrutinise your view, is not at all similar to an all-out Saudi-style attack on your right to free expression. Express whatever you want, but do not expect complete silence. Whilst your right to a view must be respected and unmolested, whilst your absolute fundamental right to express your view in words and in art is to be absolutely defended and protected…. the substance of the view itself has no such right, and when it is aired in public, it opens itself up to scrutiny. That’s democracy. The very democracy you voted to protect. Deal with it, like I have to deal with my EU citizenship stripped from me.

So, the leading claims that they made and that arguably won them the vote, they now back away from, the democracy-over-elites narrative they pushed, they now adopt the opposite, and the fundamental democratic aspect of holding to account the victorious side, scrutinising their motives, actions, and ramifications they want you to put aside and forget…. for the good of this (my hand is on my heart) great country of ours. Democracy to anti-democracy.


Following Orlando.

June 14, 2016

The indescribable horror of the homophobic attack on the LGBT community in Orlando this past week seems to have set off a political storm of soul searching and hypocrisy.

49 people murdered, 49 scared beyond anything any of us can imagine, having their own lives stripped from them, and 49 families destroyed. 53 more with injuries and psychological scars that wont fade. A violent religious man who could easily obtain an assault rifle, drove for over an hour to specifically target innocent LGBT people at a place they should have been safe. And since then, I have sat and watched shameless political figures across the spectrum, who have either embraced or excused the most hideous homophobia in the past, suddenly hold vigils or moments of silence for the victims.

The House of Representatives today held a moments silence for the victims of the Orlando terror attack. Representatives who have long fought to withhold basic rights for LGBT people, who have taken to airwaves and public talks dehumanising LGBT folk, who would be fine with ‘no gays allowed’ signs in shops and workplaces across the country, who oppose non-discrimination in the workplace acts if they include protections for gay people, today stand and offer their grief over the deaths of those they’ve long considered not human enough for equal treatment, rights and dignity. Representatives who routinely vote to strike down any laws that might restrict the availability of assault rivals that all too often leads to the House having to hold moments of silence.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn joined a mass vigil in London’s Soho yesterday, in solidarity with the LGBT community. A community he didn’t give two thoughts about when he was describing gay-hating Hamas as ‘dedicated to peace and to social & political justice’. A group whose entire goal is a theocratic state that excludes LGBT not just from the political process, but from liberty itself. A group whose co-founder Mahmoud Zahar referred to the LGBT community as:

“…a minority of perverts and the mentally and morally sick.”

– To Corbyn ‘social and political justice’ starts and ends at opposition to either Israel or the West in general. The LGBT community in Palestine are considered expendable.

Conservative Christians who have spent years focusing their vitriol on the LGBT community – insisting they are dangerous, should be viewed suspiciously in bathrooms, shouldn’t be allowed to adopt or marry, as if there is something specifically sinister about them – take to social media to offer their ‘prayers’ to victims they may not wish to see murdered, but certainly don’t believe deserve equal civil rights, dignified treatment, and protections.

Ted Cruz took the time to release a statement on the homophobic murders in Orlando:

“If you’re a Democratic politician and you really want to stand for LGBT, show real courage and stand up against the vicious ideology that has targeted our fellow Americans for murder.”

– This is the same US Senator who was introduced on stage at last November’s National Religious Liberties Conference in Iowa by a Pastor who said:

“Yes, Romans Chapter 1 verse 32 the Apostle Paul does says that homosexuals are worthy of death. His words not mine! And I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ! And I am not ashamed of the truth of the word of God. And I am willing to go to jail…

…Now my friends let me introduce to you the next candidate for the office of President of the United States, folks please make welcome Senator Ted Cruz.”

– The vicious ideology that Cruz speaks of is of course Islam. A homophobic set of doctrines that perpetuates and sustains dehumanising and violence against the LGBT community. The Qur’an is of course not that much different from the Bible; a vicious set of homophobic doctrines that Cruz and those who introduce him at religious liberties events use to dehumanise LGBT folk, threaten them restriction of basic rights, and with execution. It isn’t a great leap to go from treating LGBT as sub-human in a country based on human rights, to violence against that community.

Saudi Arabia released a statement condemning the murders as a despicable act of terrorism. The same Saudi Arabia whose Ministry of Education Textbooks for Islamic Studies: 2007-2008 is about as barbaric and homophobic terror as is possible to be:

“Homosexuality is one of the most disgusting sins and greatest crimes…. It is a vile perversion that goes against sound nature, and is one of the most corrupting and hideous sins…. The punishment for homosexuality is death. Both the active and passive participants are to be killed whether or not they have previously had sexual intercourse in the context of a legal marriage…. Some of the companions of the Prophet stated that [the perpetrator] is to be burned with fire. It has also been said that he should be stoned, or thrown from a high place.”

– The same Saudi Arabia that the Prime Minister insisted to Channel 4 News ‘….actually has a good record of deradicalisation’.

As much as humanity may try, it isn’t possible to simply mourn such a hideous massacre without politicising, and I’m not sure it is wrong to do so anyway. We must all confront the bigotry woven into ideologies from Islamism & those who make excuses for it, to conservative Christianity, that perpetuate dehumanising narratives aimed squarely at the LGBT community. These create the conditions for hate to grow and explode. Homophobia must be treated with the same contempt that racism is treated. At the moment – and when it comes to religion – it isn’t.

To confront the bigoted narrative, we should not allow the hypocrisy of self-serving politicians to undermine the discussion on homophobia and its root causes (almost exclusively religious doctrines based on a primitive, tribal misunderstanding of nature). I don’t want to hear Labour politicians quick to support and excuse far-right religious fascists tell me that “love will conquer”. I don’t want to hear Conservatives defend viciously homophobic regimes as heroes of deradicalisation. I don’t want to hear apologists tell me that ‘terror has no religion’ in a grotesque way to close down discussion; indeed any discussion on homophobia that does not include religion is spectacularly insincere and incomplete. I don’t want to hear Republican politicians who practically hand guns to extremists, whilst perpetuating the homophobic narratives that pull the trigger, tell me that a vicious alien ideology – an ideology whose homophobic beliefs those Republicans flirt with daily – is responsible. Here’s the fact; Holy Books and those who adhere to them have for centuries taught that homosexuality is a moral evil, a sin that must be punished, that continue to undermine and deny gay rights and dignity, that refer to the fight for liberation and protections as ‘the gay agenda’, that believe children are at risk, that tell us that same-sex marriage is the death of our culture. Further, Those liberals who seek to protect illiberal and homophobic tribal squabbles from centuries ago, sell the LGBT community to the first extremists who offer their hatred for the West. They are to blame. All of them. From Hamas to Corbyn to Cameron to Saudi to Cruz.


To be reminded that you’re human….

May 19, 2016

Do not sigh for Lindbergh’s wonderful luck, but determine to emulate Lindy’s glorious pluck” wrote a young Lyndon Baines Johnson, passionate for what he perceived as a revived American spirit following the disaster of World War 1. In Lindbergh, Johnson saw not just the American spirit, but the human need to explore, the extraordinary feats of progress when deep ideological chains are replaced by politically ensured freedoms (advanced for the time period) combined with individual determination. 
Lindbergh’s achievement may seem so distant to those of us almost 100 years later, but that represents perhaps just two prior generations when the whole picture is examined. Indeed, my grandparents were born in that decade that saw the conquering of the Atlantic by flight, and my dad – not yet at retirement age – was born a decade before LBJ ascended to the Presidency on the death of Kennedy. In the time frame of human history, it is a click of the fingers.

Too often the religious are quick to mock the concept of human evolution from ape-like ancestors, as if it a negative. You’ll hear scorn poured on the idea that we “come from monkeys”. Ed Husain disappointed his legion of liberal fans recently by implying that Darwin’s discovery was necessarily racist (a bizarre conflation of morality and ethics, with nature, when no such thing exists). There is a desire in the mind of the parties of god to deny basic scientific fact if it happens to contradict their official origins story. Yet it is our ape-like ancestors whom we have to thank for everything. It is they who sparked the first controlled fires, it is they who left the safety of the jungle and crossed the World, it is they who purified water, it is they who created the tools that gave us a hunting advantage when threatened with daily starvation, it is they who against the odds fought the elements, came close to extinction & survived, it is they who created the first remedies, it is they who developed language and art, it is they who began to try to explain their place in the universe, contemplate the stars, harness the sun, and whose self awareness was the beginning of the universe trying to understand itself & who invented the gods that are now used to obscure their extraordinary achievements. From those ancestors, we have all the innovations that lead to Lindbergh, and to me sitting on a plane somewhere over France, watching the sunset from a vantage point that so few humans have ever had the privilege of seeing. Indeed, from early humans, to Roman republicans, from Homo Habilis, to Ben Franklin & Rousseau, such a small percentage of we apes have enjoyed this sight. From this vantage point, it is inconceivable to me that we would not honour those ancestors that out of necessity, created & conquered & gave us luxury.

And even if by some miracle, a thesis is produced that thoroughly disproved evolution, instead confirming the story of Adam & Eve, we still wouldn’t have them nor a god to thank for human progress. We’d have the devil snake that permitted free-thought to thank for our ingenuity and survival.

Perhaps our desire to explore comes from the same place as our desire to understand everything immediately (thus creating gods as quick and easy explanations). Perhaps our wonderful sense of touch that permits the wind to take our breath away or the sun in summer to revitalise us after a grey winter persuades us to seek those sensations. Perhaps our fear of death, of existing in a finite speck of time conflicts with our desire to know all and see all. I am now sat watching my fellow apes on the beach with a spectacular view of the Meditarranean sea, the jagged rocks with layers of history, the buildings we have created across the shoreline, the clear and cold water reminding me that I’m alive as it crashes against my legs, placating that desirous sense of touch, and at the back of my mind is the theme that runs through human history, from the moment our species burst onto the tapestry of life right through to Lindbergh & beyond; at some point – any point – I will cease to exist, and never see this beautiful picture, nor feel the sea breeze nor the waves against me again. And so I need to experience it all now. 


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