Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Post Brexit Blog

After the Brexit vote I needed a vacation.  Thanks to the generosity of my family, I got a week away somewhere hot.

A week wasn't long enough.  Leave the country to it's own devices for a week and everything goes to hell.  There is a completely new, unelected government.  It may have been constitutionally legal but make no mistake: this is not the government voted for by people in 2015.  Owing to the first-past-the-post voting system for Westminster, both the Conservative and Labour parties cover too much of the political spectrum.  With a more representative voting system, each would split into at least two separate parties.

Just as we see the right of the Conservative party take over from the Cameron regime, Labour is openly split between its social democratic (let's be kind here and not refer to them as Blairites)  and socialist wings.  Corbyn's total ineffectiveness in the Commons has led to the open revolt among the majority of Labour's MPs.  His power is indeed with the membership and, just as with the Tories, it is obvious that the only thing hold Labour together at this time is the necessity of gaining power at Westminster.   The Trident debate was especially jaw-dropping. In anybody else's world, the sight of MP after MP rising up from benches behind and each plunging in the dagger would have led to Corbyn's immediate departure.  Not so for Jeremy: for unlike Caesar his power lies not with the senate but as a tribune of the people.  It may be a sad day for Labour but the realisation may finally dawn that it is the election system itself that is causing the failure of democracy within both parties.

May didn't even have to face an election but rather nimbly stepped over the political corpses of her enemies as they either did each other in or fell upon their own swords.  I am still considering the resuscitation of Boris Johnson though: whether it was an act of crassness or supreme genius.  I think it was more the latter.  In terms of foreign diplomacy, it was as crass as when the last Bush administration selected arch-critic of the UN, John Bolton, to be the US ambassador in New York.  In terms of Conservative party politics, Johnson did more than any other politician to bring about the surprise Brexit vote and this was done by betraying his friend and long-term ally David Cameron.  May may have little love for Boris but she is smart enough to know to keep enemies close and to keep them busy; which is  something Cameron failed to do and is exactly what Boris will be for the foreseeable future.

Meanwhile here in Scotland Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP must be feeling it is all going rather swimmingly.  The nation voted to remain in the EU, Labour is in disarray and the Conservatives' move to the far right has even put political distance between the SNP own austerity regime (rigorously denied but still ongoing) and the Brexiteers down south.   Indeed an envious position to be in but not without peril, for now is the real test for the SNP.   Are they a real party of leadership, working for the best for Scotland or is their only raison d'ĂȘtre to separate Scotland from England?
If Sturgeon decides to go for an early second referendum  independence referendum (#Indyref2 in the parlance of our times), it might well be won.  It will also prove that this is the SNP's only sole and narrow aim, for the economic arguments against independence are far stronger now than in 2014.  The decommissioning of the North Sea oil fields are ahead of expectation, despite celebration at the oil price faster-than-expected rise to about $50 per barrel.  Uncertainty over Brexit and even the prospect of a second Scottish referendum will make matters worse.

A more powerful and better solution would be to seek an accord with Northern Ireland and work, hard, to keep Scotland and Northern Ireland both in the Union and the EU.  Both the North and the Republic of Ireland have been put into a terrible situation by the Brexit vote, as not only trade but the whole peace situation is in peril if the land border is reinstated.  Since Northern Ireland voted to stay in the EU, a smarter solution would be move the EU land border to the mainland, between Scotland and England.  This could be achieved if the United Kingdom becomes a federal union.

One of the more risible soundbites made by SNP supporters at this time is "I am an Internationalist because I am a Nationalist."   People who say this either do not know the meaning of nationalism or internationalism, as they are mutually exclusive.  The EU is an internationalist organisation in the true sense of the word.
The latter observation leads us to the real cause of the Brexit vote and that is the rise of nationalism across the globe.  The far right, in the UK, in Europe and in the US (make no mistake: Donald Trump is a far right nationalist) are gleeful at the outcome.  They see Britain's exit as the start of the end for the European Union.  Parties across Europe have been emboldened to work harder for this end with Marine Le Pen in France being particularly enthused.

We live in dark times but I am glad that, despite disagreements on individual decisions and policies, I am a member of the Liberal Democrats: the only UK-wide party campaigning for a Britain with a continuing future in the European Union.  As Paddy Ashdown so graphically put it, we were roadkill after the 2015 election but, with the rise of nationalism my party has been consistent in opposing it, wherever it has arisen.  We are the internationalist party and will continue to be so.

If you support Britain being in the European Union and an have a believe in international cooperation instead of competition, you should join us.  https://libdems.secure.force.com/LiberalDemocrats/NewMemberRegistration