Friday, 24 June 2016

Two mornings after

So a government, elected by I think 24% of us, offered a straight in/out one vote counts referendum on the BIGGEST subject imaginable. Yes, there has been an answer which has to be respected so the next question is how is one of the most fearsome peacetime tasks you could generate achieved? The Tories will naturally argue for stability so that power can move from one Etonian to another one (who has been scheming to this end for God knows how long). Our friends and allies just look on jaws dropped. It is not insignificant that young versus old seem pitted against one another (the age demarcation chart the BBC had). 

There have been some very sad moments in recent weeks. For me one was seeing the 80 year old ex soldier in tears because he had got his country back. The anti German feeling has been a constant undercurrent. But he is wrong. He has not got his country back, it has been sold under his feet, a point made endlessly on this timeline for weeks. I try to imagine what my own ex soldier father would say. Essentially Tory but also a European he would not wish anti German or anti immigrant sentiments to rule anything. He was a realist, a lawyer. GET THE DEAL. Cameron's deal was terrible. For the life of me I fail to understand why a common market NEEDED tax harmonisation and free movement of labour. National government's controlling borders and using fiscal instruments to compete against one another seems to me a market - not making everyone subject to the same exact rules.

I always wanted to be a member of the Common Market and not the European Union. If that could become the case (and I was asked again, although I do not relish that), I would likely vote not to piss on everyone else from all other the world who has become involved in our affairs. However the end question is do the Tories in any sensible sense have the mandate to do this? Everything they said you could rely on up to and including the Union of this Kingdom, they have smashed in the most inane way through simply not hearing ordinary voters. I know another election adds more discomfort to the mix but I would be really surprised if that does not happen before Christmas.

A comment on some numbers. Was my not voting (one of the 1 in 50) rather insouciant? I was not impressed by Cameron's deal, I did not want to vote FOR the EU. I detested the whole process and campaign in which a Tory party bunflght was inflicted on everyone else (and then I got a Kidney stone so I am typing this and not heading for a railtour from Hexham). However there were surprises, for the second time (why did not Cameron learn?) there was no "Labour vote" to rely on. Their parliamentary party is disconnected to the root. And then in places like Blackburn, Lancaster and Preston the leave figures were really big. It makes me wonder whether in some key places not only was Labour not voting remain but were the ethnic communities staying well away? Were sizeable numbers of people (Muslim women) whose votes might have mattered and whose interests would be served in rather than vote, not even on registers?

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Labour and Leave

What would you prefer? Liberal gun control laws or liberal sexuality laws. I know exactly which way I would fall. Which is more than I know about the EU referendum. On that subject two things happened over the weekend. Premier Christian Radio's Ian Britton buttonholed me for an interview. And a firm Labour activist from Blyth (which town's ethnic composition is?) set out to me how he saw things which rather chimed with what I heard on R4 just now, although painted by the gentleman more starkly. His argument approximates to this: if Remain win then Cameron will have pulled off a trio of victories and there will be a Tory government for years to come.

Therefore Corbyn's only chance is to see Cameron unseated and a snap election called. So two strands come together to fill a flood of Labour leave voters, tactics and actual feelings that migration at a quarter a million a year net for the next twenty years is not in the interest of most Labour people. It may be in the interests of the elites, of those whose "EU" connections academic and political take them criss crossing the continent but on the ground where the chaos of EU competition law is worked out for instance on the railways, what a Labour voter sees is simply not what they wish to see. This is a raw argument about what people see in their own lives every day. This is a mass of voters for whom all the economic numbers and warnings don't resonate. You can warn about a pension in the future but what use is that if a Roumanian or a Turk has your job. Remain don't want migration to be the issue, but the raw fact of accomodating a quarter of a million new persons each year will make sure it is. Free movement of people and the free market should not have been connected. Great Britain will need immigrants for years to come but it should be able to choose who they are and to expel them when it has to. Control of Borders is fundamental to a nation state and if we don't have it, the nation state will be Europe, that is the choice. And yes we do have a special relationship on Borders with the EU but it is not preventing a global mass movement into Europe and it is not allowing us to tell people their time is up and remove them.

I truly don't know today how I will vote next week but after this weekend, I probably feel I am becoming clearer where the vote will land. If substantial numbers of Labour are themselves set on ticking Leave, then the story is over and what British politicians will have to do is settle down to implementing the will of the people and many will feel an election will be required for a new set of leaders prepared to undertake this to be chosen. At which point Mr Corbyn can reveal his authentic anti EU colours! After which given the Leave instruction, as a matter of fact the vote does not mean Britain leaves. It is a "guidance note" which then has to be negotiated and that means whoever is in Number 10 can go and seek some rather different end result to the binary in/out question being asked. In a few months time someone might be saying to the EU "oh yes, we will keep our membership, you can have a lot of money, but the right of free movement is not on the table". And there again Remain may win and none of this will be said...........................

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Nearer the referendum

The day inches nearer. My w/e summary. It has been a bad debate because the alternatives are unpalatable. To leave the EU does throw away certain real benefits: ease of travel, even roaming charges! It really does run the risk of substantial economic damage (although the threat to house prices seems as much a benefit as a loss and that "house" business underlies so much).John Band's demonstrations of how much we depend on inward investment weigh heavily with me, So be clear vote leave for a substantial and possibly rough readjustment. It may well also imperil the UK. Scotland will very conceivably go. Ulster will join the smuggling front line. We will bring the chaos of EU land borders onto our own islands. Strong arguments to stay,

And to leave there are two very strong ones. Democracy: the EU is certainly not that. It is a very poor class organisation. It has shown itself inept in managing its own currency and its borders. On those two alone it is very tempting to say fie on you. And there is the numbers game, back to the houses, population growth. I do really think that the UK population growth is a very serious matter. For years in the 1980s, we managed an equilibrium. A nation must control its borders, the world without borders is a progressive's naive dream. You may think I live in the Tyne Valley far from these realities. As we showed last week Fiona's upbringing pitches her right into the heart of it and here in Prudhoe we are promised 800 new homes with NONE of the associated quality infrastructure planning needed. We live in a town whose "town centre development" has been a decades long wrangle. Our road access north and south is prehistoric. Everything should be sweet and rosy in our town, The hillside zoned for a town centre could be one of the best new developments in Britain. We have a Garden Village already existing fit for re-use. It is being flattened, slowly. The much loved three tier schooling is being brought down to two tier LCD. So both poor development and uncontrolled population growth (whether reproductive (and worse at religious behest), EU, non EU) make me think the Great Britain I was proud to grow up in appears headed to a south east akin to Hong Kong with warring Celtic fringes going their own way. Not a well balanced place able to trade around the world WHICH IT WAS.

I am sorry if that sounds gloomy and what it means for my vote, even if I choose to exercise it, I still do not know.