Sunday 26 June 2016

The apple cart needed to be upset but not in this way

Sunday morning, the third day since the 52% voted to leave the EU. Chaos was predicted and chaos is what we've got. A major player in all this is the Scottish National Party (SNP), their leader Nicola Sturgeon proceeding with caution but clearly stating the options open to the Scottish people which would ultimately lead to the breakup of the UK. A far distant bell started to ring in my head and a trawl through my alcohol ravaged library of memories came up with a long ago visit to the theatre and a performance of George Bernard Shaw's play, The Apple Cart, written in 1928 where a character states, "God help England if she had no Scots to think for her!"

The state of play so far (Sunday 26th June)

  1. Cameron goes back on his word to immediately set in motion the mechanism to leave the EU. He resigns and sets in motion a Tory leadership contest when that party is at its most divided. It is left to his successor to press the formal leave button and start the two year clock ticking. (For once I am in a agreement with Cameron but still blame him for allowing the referendum in the first place).
  2. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne becomes invisible at a time when the economy is nose diving and the pound is seriously weakened. 
  3. Within hours of the referendum the Bank of England has to pour £250 billion pounds into the London financial market to stop the slide into ........... well what? This is half the amount "invested" by the bank in 2008 to shore up the banking system as the effects of the credit crunch were being felt. The BofE warned in March this year that Brexit carried with it the very real danger of yet another credit crunch but the Leave campaigners said this was scaremongering.
  4. The Labour Party turns on itself as many criticise the performance of the party during the referendum campaign. The focus is on ousting Corbyn as many blame him for the disaffection of up to 30% of those who voted labour in the last parliamentary election in 2015. As I write this an ever growing number of shadow ministers are resigning but a spirited defence of Corbyn by John McDonnell and Emily Thornbury makes some pause for thought. We need an effective opposition that inspires hope.
  5. The Lib-Dems promise to fight the next general election in May 2020 on the platform of taking the UK back into the EU. With rumours of a possible snap election, perhaps within the next 6 months this could be a credible position to take.
  6. The country is now split between the 48% who voted to remain in the EU and the 52% who voted to leave. Many of the 52% are reported as being surprised that we are leaving the EU as their vote was a protest against a whole basket of ills, not necessarily connected with the EU.
  7. The division in British society is further compounded by the majority of folk over the age of 50 voting to leave whilst younger voters overwhelmingly wanted to stay in the EU. The young feel betrayed by the old.
  8. Many voted to leave because Boris, Gove, Grayling and Farage promised to halt immigration and spend an extra £350 million a week on the NHS. Within hours of the referendum result being declared all of those "gentlemen" have rowed back on those promises saying that the £350 million for the health service was not guaranteed and that it may be impossible to lower the numbers entering this country. For the moment these gentlemen are suspiciously quiet and one suspects that they are meeting with their cohorts to decide how to handle this pandora's box of a win. No doubt Boris, as a classicist is sensing that he now has the modern day equivalent of a Pyrrhic victory.
  9. Nigel Farage claimed a victory for "decent" people. I do not take offence at being therefore dismissed as being an indecent person because I voted to remain in the EU. Being insulted by a man such as him is a form of backhanded compliment. Many remember his comment to a Daily Mirror journalist in May about a narrow Remain win, “In a 52-48 referendum this would be unfinished business by a long way", but of course he will not countenance a second referendum because it is his campaign which has won the 52%.
  10. As I write this the petition to the government to change the referendum rules (which by the way was opened for signatures in May, before the referendum) has reached over 3 million. A government spokesman has stated that it has no chance of success but we can expect some form of debate in the House of Commons. 
  11. The Scottish government is considering a second referendum on Scottish independence so that they can remain in the UK. The breakup of the United Kingdom is now a very real possibility. Before they go there they may invoke an obscure element of the agreement signed with Westminster that the Scottish Parliament has the right to block (effectively a veto) any action which fundamentally changes the nature of the Scottish government. This may delay the process of triggering EU Article 50, the trigger to leave the EU. Of course Westminster can then legislate to amend that veto but it all takes time and would possibly be left to the incoming Tory leader to deal with.
  12. Angela Merkel although echoing the tough EU line that the UK should press ahead with leaving as soon as possible then surprises us all by saying that time is not so important and that the UK should not be punished (sorry for the obvious paraphrasing but that's the gist of her words). So an olive branch from Germany and a sense that Angie is amenable to the UK finding a way to pull back from the decision that has been made. I also believe that many German citizens are sympathetic to the 48% who voted to remain in the EU.

Amongst all of that is there any hope?

Well of course there is. If this were a card game I would say that Nicola Sturgeon and Angele Merkal between them can muster a winning strategy. Sturgeon can ensure that we have the time to consider the next step with care and Merkal can, if she chooses and has the support of the German parliament to offer a "third way". It is in the interest of the EU that the seeds of rebellion (which is effectively what the Leave vote is) do not spread to France, Holland and, say Poland where right wing forces want to emulate the British. This is the only positive that can be gleaned from the British decision, that the rest of Europe notes the chaos a Leave vote causes and, so warned, steps back from the brink themselves. In that way the British will have done a great service to European unity, effectively strengthening the EU. I have no doubt that there will be a lot of soul searching by the respective EU constituents because the UK vote highlights how disenfranchised many EU citizens feel. It would be wise to assume that their are similar numbers in say France who would vote anti-EU therefore a major review of policy and structure would be advisable. It is time for a major rethink and, perhaps re-launch of the collective European idea.

So is there hope ................ yet again of course there is but only if positive things are done by positive people. At this time of trial it does look as if the Scottish government finds itself in a position of considerable influence. I started this post by referencing George Bernard Shaw and that was a bit tongue in cheek. The apple cart has been upset but those who created the problem seem incapable of righting the situation. I personally hope that the combined wisdom of the Labour Party finds its voice and recognises the possibilities that lay within our country's grasp. The need is so great that all avenues should be explored. The answer may be a coalition of the left to counter the mess that has been created by the right. We have to do something ....... and fast ....... if a snap election is on the horizon. With polls suggesting mass disaffections from mainstream parties we have to show that there is a viable socialist alternative to the nonsense and false claims of the right. People vote for hope and that is what we must give them.

Who will ultimately pay the price if this folly is not reversed?

Unfortunately that is all to easy to answer. it will not be the rich, nor will it be politicians. No, as always it will be those at the bottom of the scale, those on low wages or seeking work; pensioners who will squeezed when deteriorating tax takes from a shrinking economy mean that governments have to question the ring fenced expenditures .................. I could go on but you know which groups have suffered from austerity and they will be the ones hardest hit ........ yet again. It is a sad fact that many of those who voted Leave will be the ones to pay the price.

How apt is this:

To great authority
Singing hallelujah hallelujah
Love does reign
In the kingdom of the broken heart
The blackbird sings
And the moon it laughs
As war begins, dance
Now burn the apple carts
Burn them until a great fire begins
To glow in the sky
There beneath the stones, recharge
From great austerity
Raining down from above
Distant is love
Our distain

Read more: Damon Albarn - Apple Carts Lyrics | MetroLyrics 

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