Tag Archives: Scottish independence

POST-BREXIT BLUES

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The Continuing Saga of a Land Cursed

By Getting That for Which It Voted

 

Keeping up with the press in the last 10 days has been an exercise in head shaking, if not outright head banging. Two days after the Brexit debacle, the country was already in denial, and the disaffected were calling for a repeat referendum. And a lot of them had voted for Brexit!

All of a sudden, all that the leave campaign had promised if the UK left the EU became relativized. Like the 350 million pounds that would go straight into improving the National Health system. No, sorry, they couldn’t guarantee that. Well heck, just because they wrote it on the sides of big red buses and drove them non-stop around the land, that didn’t mean it would happen.

And well heck again, maybe that’s NOT what we pay into the EU every week any way – as the remain side told everybody, but no one seemed to want to hear it. It was the gross payment, and not the net payment, which is calculated after all that Britain gets back as support for various projects and the rebates that they jealousy accrued over the decades. In the end the figure was more accurately stated as closer to the 190 million pound mark that was paid for services rendered.

Then there was the claim that Britain could, on its own terms, stay in the EU single market but without the free movement of workers, i.e. immigrants from other EU states. During the campaign EU politicians had already burst that bubble. But the leave campaign wouldn’t listen and kept promising this. On day one after the vote, I heard the only UKIP (the right-wing anti-Europe party) Member of Parliament, Douglas Carswell, holding forth to a BBC interviewer that Britain could now demand this and demand that and would get it. On which planet does this man reside? (Or what is his drug of choice?)

All sorts of other important facts, like the actual relationship of the EU to the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) with Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Liechtenstein, seem to have fallen by the wayside. That these states also pay their dues to the EU for the privilege of access to the market – without any right to participate in making the laws that regulate that trade – seems to have got lost in the rhetoric on how Britain would determine the future set-up. Doesn’t that sound like a bargain for the Brits? Just the ticket?

Then there are the Scots and the Northern Irish. The former are already looking for a date for their next independence referendum. They are devoted believers in the European project. The Irish are considering their options. Somehow reunite with the Irish Republic? Will the entire United Kingdom disintegrate over this issue?

An issue that should have never been brought to vote in a referendum?

On Saturday tens of thousands demonstrated in London to stop Brexit. London voted clearly to remain – let’s face it, of all parts of the UK, they have the most to lose – but at this demonstration, people from all over the country came to protest what was about to happen. The petition for a second referendum already has more than 4 million signatures.

http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/jul/02/march-for-europe-eu-referendum-london-protest

Then of course, with David Cameron stepping down, the race for the next Tory (the currently ruling Conservative Party) leader got into full swing. After Theresa May (current Home Secretary and a remain supporter) and Michael Gove (Justice Minister and Brexit campaigner) announced their bids for leadership, everyone waited with bated breath for Boris Johnson to throw his hat into the leadership ring. BoJo’s speech reflected his personality, albeit somewhat subdued. He had canvassed the Parliamentary Tories and found that at this juncture, he would not be vying for the leadership post after all – and thus, he would not be the next Prime Minister. It would seem that the Parliamentary Tories – who would have to elect him – were more remain than leave. He found no support. That’s the tricky thing about power poker.

BTW, Gove, after maintaining religiously that he was not interested in the top job, basically stabbed BoJo in the back with his declaration. (New nickname: Brutus.)

This was a while after BoJo assassinated Cameron by means of a late switch to the (dark) Brexit side.

Oh yes, I must not forget to mention that the leavers seem to have been totally overwhelmed by their success and seem to have no idea of what to do next. Cameron is leaving it to his successor, sometime in the autumn, to initiate the exit process by activating Article 50 of the EU contract. But the EU wants them to start the process today.

The opposition Labour Party is also in disarray. Their leader Jeremy Corbyn, an anachronistic left-winger, is seen is a huge mistake. How fast can they get shot of him, just in case a general election winds up being called?? It’s difficult: He will not go softly into….

The campaign slogan that Brexiteers banged on about incessantly was: “Let’s get our country back!”

Well, now they’ve got it. And they have no clue what to do with it.

So dear readers, the dog’s dinner currently on the menu in Britain has been served. Enjoy your meal.

I trust this round-up gives you an idea of what’s been happening in Britain. Feel like shaking your head in disbelief? Feel like banging it against the nearest wall? I know the feeling. Sure, go ahead.

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under BREXIT, Europe, Great Britain, Northern Ireland, Politics

BREXIT – Now a Done Deal

We woke up this morning to the news: The British had voted to leave the EU. Although I am not a Brit, I have been married to one for 41 years and I lived there for a few years, way back in the 70s. I feel a great connection to this country, its culture, history and people. I can’t help thinking that they have made a short-sighted and fatal decision.

After listening to David Cameron’s statement this morning, I initially felt sorry for him. He presented himself as professional and unemotional about the results, reflecting the consummate politician that he is. He announced his resignation, which seems right when losing such a vote.

My sympathy has been draining away in the hours since, as I reminded myself how unnecessary this entire circus was, that it was the product of Cameron’s wooing the EU sceptics in the ranks of the Tory party to ensure his election in 2010. So in fact, that promise has come back to deprive him of that very job.

Then there’s Boris Johnson, another talented politician, former mayor of the great city of London, who campaigned to leave with the full force of his personality. (I will refrain from making unjustified comparisons with a certain US presidential candidate – that would be wholly unfair.) As a contender for leadership of the Tory party, and thus prime ministerial candidate, he has everything to gain from the leave vote. But I wouldn’t dare suggest that his enthusiasm for Brexit stemmed from his own ambitions to higher rank.

While waiting for Boris to arrive at the venue for his statement, BBC World News showed briefly his departure in a taxi from his north London home. Surrounded by a retinue of police, a pack of news people and a crowd of London’s citizens, the sound of booing could not be overheard. After all, London was carried by the remain vote and it is London that will bear the brunt of the changes. So greetings to all those Londoners who once loved their eccentric Mayor!

To give his statement, Boris put on his most statesman-like air – not that he’d combed his trademark blond mane from his face. He does, after all, have the most to gain from the success of the leave campaign and his buddy David’s fall. He sees Britain’s exit from the EU as the opportunity to return to the country power over its own fate, to return to the democratic principles that made it into Great Britain.

I see no point in discussing all the consequences of this monumental decision. You probably are already aware of a lot of them. And there is also no doubt that the EU system is not perfect, but it must be improved for all members – not just for Britain – from within, for seen within the context of Europe’s history, it is the best thing that has ever happened to the continent.

My $ 64,000 question for Boris is: If you want Britain to rule itself democratically, how about initiating a referendum on abolishing the House of Lords? Create in its place a legislative body, elected according to proportional representation, that truly acts as a check and balance to the House of Commons. And of course, the people must be allowed to decide this. For neither House could be relied on to question the legitimacy of the present, albeit traditional, division of power, evolved over centuries. To me, it seems the next logical step.

Then there is, of course, the question of David Cameron’s successor. Today he is reckoning that the Tory Party Conference in October will choose a new leader, and consequently, a new prime minister.

NO, MR CAMERON! That may well turn into wishful thinking. An early election will have to be called! Just a shame that the Labour Party and its leader Jeremy Corbyn are not in a position to take advantage of these developments.

This vote is also a game-changer on the issue of Scottish devolution. The Scots have voted with a huge majority to stay in the EU. Who could blame them for re-initiating their referendum to leave Britain? And this time round, I would be on their side. And the EU would probably look favourably on their application to join the club. It sounds like the Northern Irish may also get the hang of this referendum thing and start their very own movement for an independent north to either join the Republic of Ireland or join the EU as an independent country.

Is the great United Kingdom set to unravel in the next few years and become the dis-United Kingdom? How exactly will the divorce proceeding between GB and the EU go? I for one am curious as to whether Britain will really benefit from this move. It may turn into a Pyrrhic victory.

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Filed under BREXIT, Europe, Great Britain, Northern Ireland

A WORLD GONE MAD

In the month since I abandoned my writing career for a job as painter, decorator and general housekeeper in a futile attempt to ameliorate the neglect I’ve lavished on my home for the last few years, it became perfectly clear to me why my writing career began so late. Instead of a head full of ideas that I longed to share with my readers, instead of rushing through pesky morning tasks to at long last reach my desk, my thoughts have been dominated by “to-do” lists, cataloging every little outstanding chore. And those lists just keep getting longer. Thinking back, it’s no wonder that during my years as a mother of three children, my brain was more than occupied with daily necessities related to soccer teams and school parent-teacher councils rather than novel plots.

Although the projects here are far from finished, I am determined to stretch my writing muscles this afternoon, lest they completely atrophy from disuse. For during my time-out, the world has not stood still.

  • Italy has a new government,
  • Germany has a new political scandal
  • and in Great Britain the temperature of the debates concerning Scottish independence is rising steadily.
  • Most astonishingly, the people of the Ukraine have succeeded in jettisoning their unloved president.

That’s a lot to cover in a blog post. Don’t worry, I’ll keep it short. Let’s start with Italy.

So the mayor of Florence turns up in Rome, uninvited and unelected, and tells Enrico Letta that he’s going to run the government now. In some such fashion that is how Matteo Renzi became the new Prime Minister of Italy. In Florence his record – and reputation – as mayor is controversial. Apparently he cared more about keeping the city cleaned up and safe for tourists than about the needs of the populace living there on a permanent basis (i.e. voters!). However, although he’s a center left politician, he has not been too easy on labor and its interests. Will he have the wherewithal to pull off the reforms necessary to turn the country around? I sure hope so. But of course, a cynical reaction would probably be more understandable. For so far, no one since World War II has emerged on the political scene with the power and gumption to clean up Italy’s Aegean Stables.

In Germany, a Social Democratic member of the Bundestag, Sebastian Edathy, laid down his mandate and left the country. Why not? Nothing wrong about that. Except evidence had  turned up showing Edathy had in the past purchased pornographic photos of children from a Canadian website. He, of course, denied the whole story. They aren’t porno, he claims, because the children aren’t posed in sexual acts. They are only naked. Uhhuh. So why did he quit and leave the country?

As if child porno wasn’t bad enough, the real scandal for Germany is that the then-minister of the interior, Hans-Peter Friedrich (Christian Socialist), informed the top ranking SPD politicians – Gabriel, Steinmeier and Oppermann (now major players in the current CDU/SPD coalition government) about their fallen angel. Friedrich, who had become agricultural minister in the new government, was forced to step down and now faces charges of disclosing classified information that allowed Edathy to flee.  And the other three SPD grandees? I wonder who they informed…and what will happen to them…

Then there is Britain. And Scotland. In coming September the Scots will be going to the polls to decide if they want to stand on their own feet rather than be a part of the United Kingdom. The Scots leader, Alex Salmond, is a lovable kind of guy. However, he seems to live in a world of his own. And I don’t just mean Edinburgh. After David Cameron and the Bank of England had declared that if the Scots secede, they will NOT be allowed to continue using the pound Sterling as their currency, Salmond still happily insisted they will. It’s just posturing, surely. “Why wouldn’t they want to share their beloved pound with us?” he muses.

Oh yeah, the EU. If they declare their independence, Scotland will no longer be a member of the European Union. What? says Salmond, that’s absurd. But the leadership of the EU has raised its collective fingers in a no / nein. You will have to apply, just like any other country who would like to join. While the Scots in favor of independence believe that their dwindling supplies of North Sea oil will fuel their new status, the population north of Hadrian’s Wall would be well advised to make a reality check before taking what looks like a plunge into the deep end.

Of course, the most exciting – and scary – story in the news at present is Ukraine. Who of us doesn’t want to see these people freed from the yoke of tyranny as embodied in the persona of Viktor Yanukovich? The good news is that he’s gone – even if he also needs to do a reality check after hearing him say he is still the rightful president of the Ukraine. So much potential for the progression of the country to a democratic and prosperous nation is evident. But it has to happen first. The Orange Revolution didn’t bring the desired results. Will this one?

Located as it is, between Europe and Russia, it is an endangered species. How far is Putin willing to go to keep the Crimea under his power for the sake of his Black Sea Fleet? One hundred years ago when the First World War broke out, the tinderbox that was the Austro-Hungarian Empire supplied the match that set off an unspeakable conflagration. Now in our 21st century, Ukraine could become a bridge to reconcile the differences between the east and the west. Or it could be a box of matches.

As citizens of the world, we have a lot on our plates. So keep reading – Stay informed. It is the only world we have.

And speaking of bridges, this is the road to the one I’ve built:  www.dchubbard-writes.com

 

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