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Monthly Archives: January 2021

Influence and Persuasion

Influence and Persuasion

If we want to affect parliamentary paralysis in the corridors of power, we need to learn the gentle art of influence and persuasion. I wrote an article on the topic just recently. Please read it here.

Influence and persuasion
This simple graphic hides a wealth of detail. Read the article and then get a copy of our book on the topic “Let’s Talk About BREX..it” – Click the image to buy on Amazon

What follows below is a superb example of the principles discussed in the article and the book. It was written by Paul Bowers, one of our colleagues at Re-Boot Britain. Paul has worked inside the parliamentary system for many years. He understands how people may speak truth to power and be heard. To those who say that there’s no point writing letters to MPs, think again.

Please write your own letters on this topic to your MP via Write to Them

Rt Hon Michael Gove MP
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office

Dear Mr Gove,

“Ugly divisions” of Brexit

You wrote in the Times, 26 December 2020, of divisions and ugliness caused or exacerbated by Brexit, expressing hope that the UK will be animated by a spirit of common endeavour moving forward, its politics reaching a better place.

As a supporter of the UK’s membership of the European Union, I wish to explain why I cannot move on – or rather, from what I must not move on – and why I do not anticipate others doing so.

It may interest you to know that I worked in the House of Commons Library from 1991 to 2018. From Maastricht until 2005 I specialised in foreign affairs, observing political developments in other parts of the world which often implicated the ebb and flow of democracy: from hope in post-Soviet Eastern Europe or the end of apartheid, through calamity in the Balkans, genocide in Rwanda and on to the world of 9/11 and the Iraq War. In more recent years, I specialised in UK constitutional matters. Like everyone else, I was disturbed by the scenes in the US Capitol this week, and by China’s suppression of the Hong Kong democracy movement. The fragility of what we hold dear is apparent throughout recent history.

The special tinge that makes Brexit different from other UK political issues derives from the damage to democracy on which it depended and which it advances. We are ill-advised to take this lightly. While some argue that we can never go back to 2015, I would suggest that we must go back. Back to relatively low levels of corruption, back to respect for the rule of law, back to a sophisticated understanding of democracy as a range of factors through which balanced outcomes in the national interest occur.

In one sense, we have all moved on: from EU citizenship, the rights and freedoms we enjoyed, to a period of economic challenge, and international concern. You will have seen at New Year mocking cartoons from New Zealand, pained journalism from Germany and the USA.

We have moved on to a new reality.

But we should not move on from analysis of that reality.

The referendum was advisory. About 37% of the electorate, 26% of the population, voted to leave. Support was pocketed around the UK, geographically and demographically. London, the capital, with about one eighth of the UK population producing about one fifth of GDP, voted against. Scotland and Northern Ireland, separate constitutional units, voted against. So did the young, and the educated. 

Do other voters not matter? Of course they do. 

But it is wrong to say that there existed a consensus adequate for a change in national destiny of this magnitude. 

The referendum result was unlawfully procured. Vote Leave and Leave.EU were fined by the Electoral Commission for breaking campaign finance rules. The Culture, Media and Sport Committee reported in July 2018 that Arron Banks, believed to have made the largest political donation in British history to Leave campaigners, failed to satisfy them that his funding came from the UK, and that he had close links to the Russian Government. In addition to concerns over Russian money and connections, Russian interference in social media was rife throughout the Brexit period. The Information Commissioner fined a variety of organisations associated with the Leave campaign for breaches of data law. There is evidence that the shift in opinion from a majority for Remain to a majority for Leave just before the referendum correlated with targeted advertising based on unlawfully harvested data, the latter leading to a very substantial fine on Facebook. 

In February 2019 Prime Minister Theresa May’s barrister, Sir James Eadie QC, conceded that the referendum met the threshold for illegality and that, had it been binding there would have been a statutory legal mechanism by which it would be annulled. It is disturbing that a British Prime Minister chose to push forward with a policy that was damaging to the economy and the UK’s standing in the world when she knew it was based on corruption.

In my view, cleansing this corruption from British politics should have been the consuming interest of Parliament and Government in the last four years. Instead, it has been placed at the heart, and around it an abscess has formed. The referendum must not be “respected”. Subsequent general elections argued to support Brexit would not have happened without the referendum.

Other states joining the European Union have done so after tragedy and oppression: war, occupation, tyranny. The original members after World War II, Spain and Portugal after domestic fascism, the former Soviet satellites. All joined swiftly to entrench liberty. Perhaps the UK’s attitude to the EU was born of complacency. We saw it in purely economic terms, because that was our purpose in joining.

Today, we in the UK have our time of darkness. 

Brexit, under two Conservative Governments, with Farage in the wings, and a Labour Party too divided to oppose, finally endorsing the Government’s 4% reduction of GDP, isolationism and reduction of rights, has brought us far from the democracy I served. As a colleague said in 2016, “things that used to be unthinkable are happening. What are they thinking now?”

A trajectory of decline has indeed played out, each outrage grounding the next.

A referendum that side-lined devolution. The advisory becoming peremptory. Parliament endorsing a corrupt exercise, with senior MPs confessing that they knew what they were doing would harm their constituents, but they would do it anyway. The spike in hate crimes after the referendum. EU nationals being forced to apply for the right to stay in their homes. A Prime Minister trying to action Article 50 without authorisation, then wasting public money contesting an unwinnable court case. The press describing judges as enemies of the people for upholding the law. The Justice Secretary late to defend them. Brexiteer MPs bellowing abuse across the Chamber at those daring to suggest that democracy did not end on 23 June 2016. The Government attempting a breach of procedure to hold a vote on a matter twice, cornering the Speaker into blocking the move, then directing anger against him. MPs being harassed and jostled on their way to Parliament, subject to death threats and presented by the Prime Minister as standing against her and the public. Unlawful suspension of Parliament. Threats to limit judicial review of ministerial excess. Legislation to put the Executive above the law. 

The Internal Market Bill was the most disturbing. In my career I lost count of how many times Conservatives cited Magna Carta and the Bill of Rights, important foundations of the principle that the Executive is subject to the law. A Conservative-dominated Parliament legislated to contravene that principle. 

Indeed, there seems no principle that Brexiteers are unwilling to jettison in service of their aim. When Parliament’s role in authorising the Article 50 notice was asserted, they decried the very parliamentary sovereignty they so often prayed in aid against the EU. 

Since 1 January 2021 we have seen a strategy of lies from the UK Government, consistent with that encouraged in local Conservative association literature. This includes the claim that freeports are possible as a result of Brexit, when they exist in the EU, and the UK had them until 2012. It appears that the Government delayed decisions to end pulse fishing and the “tampon tax” so that it could announce them on 1 January and falsely claim that this was possible only as a result of Brexit. 

Perhaps most galling of all: the Prime Minister’s pretence that he would countenance “no deal” in order to encourage the view that the Trade and Cooperation Agreement is better. The comparison is not with WTO terms, which we did not have with the EU. It is with membership, which outclassed his shoddy package. Already unravelling, we see online retailers unwilling to sell to UK consumers, fishing communities enraged by betrayal, their sovereignty rotting on the quayside, hauliers bypassing us, and staggering amounts of financial business fleeing to the Continent.

Strategic lying is the stuff of totalitarianism. Designed to jeopardise confidence in truth, it makes a people supple for manipulation. It is the latest stage in our decline. A free society cannot be expected to embrace such diminishment.

I cannot move on from a division from the truth.

Yours sincerely,

Paul Bowers

Learn the gentle art of influence and persuasion

Let’s Re-Boot Britain

Changing Minds on Brexit

A book on influence and persuasion specifically applied to difficult conversations on Brexit. Click the image to buy on Amazon.

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Red Tops

Red Tops

In our latest series of Populist Press Parodies from the Red Tops, we tackle the big issues of the day. In case of confusion in our age of disinformation, please find our fact and fantasy checker at the bottom of the page.

Daily Maul
Lunch Box Luxury
Daily Excess
Spanish Lies
"The Sun"
Page 3 remodelled

FACTS v. FANTASIES

FANTASY Jacob Rees-Mogg did not live in fact live on a diet of Cream Crackers. He did however proclaim that British fish were happier now that they have Brexit. It’s just a matter of time before he asks for the restoration of the birch.

FACT Ford has decided to raise the price of a number of models due to increased costs of manufacture due to Brexit.

FACT The Government plan to only give one shot of the COVID vaccine. This would provide 70% protection. There is no evidence to suggest that this will lead to herd immunity. It is also feasible that it would mean that insufficient protection is given, providing the Corona virus with an open doorway to the development of a more virulent strain. We will essentially be the clinical trial for this risky experiment.

Write to your MP on the risks of this strategy

Re-Boot Britain
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FACT A large number of Tory MPs joined banned website Parler.

Shame these MP’s on social media. Request a public apology for their sins

FANTASY There are no Brexit Universities.

FACT British people living in Spain were surprised to learn that they could not stay in their second homes indefinitely and that they needed to make a financial contribution to their country of residence. They failed to understand that freedom of movement works both ways under Brexit.

FACT A bag of sovereignty is being auctioned on e-bay. Sadly, no one has thought it to offer any value.

FACT Just days after we signed the Brexit trade deal we are breaking it. In particular we plan to use neonecotonoids on sugar beet. This chemical is toxic to bees. It is estimated that once the bees die, we are not long for the world either.

Sign the petition and write to your MP on this matter

FACT The European Union are offering to help Ireland from their fund post Brexit. In the longer term it is probably that Ireland and Northern Ireland will simply cut England out of the equation through their dealings.

FICTION French model Rachelle Gauchette is not travelling to Scotland or Ireland to boost morale for independence or reunification … yet. Napoleon did not have a Napoleon complex. The offer of a night with Nigel Farage is a dirty lie.

Find all our Red Tops at Gutterpress

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Hierarchy of needs

Just 20 days into Brexit and it seems that nearly every industry and sector of society are either asking for a hand out or a hand up after Brexit. Some of you will be familiar with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Here’s the Brexit hierarchy of needs:

The Dark Side of the Loon

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On the run

Working up from the bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy, it has become apparent that our so-called free trade deal is not free, nor frictionless. We can already see low-level shortages of fresh food on supermarket shelves. Tony Hale, managing director of London-based DH Foods, said he had five containers of fresh pork sitting at Rotterdam port that was now “completely rotten”. Another mentioned £500 000 worth of meat rotting after being delayed by our ‘frictionless trade’. Fishermen protested in Downing Street on Monday and the Government tried to buy them off by offering £23 million in compensation for losses. Let’s do the math:

£23 million = £19 166 for each fisherman

Our attempts to secure a Brexit deal for the fishermen have cost £7 BILLION. That’s 304 times more than the sum of money being offered !!

£19 K sounds a lot, but of course it’s barely enough to live on for a year, in return for the fishermen’s silence. A fisherman’s friend once said that “a cod in the hand is worth two in the net”, but this is plainly a fobbing-off strategy. Cod only knows what we’d do without EU …

Controversial thought. Should people who largely voted for Brexit be rewarded for that decision? Arguably not.

These effects are DIRECTLY related to Brexit

The bribe for the fisherman sets an important precedent. If you feel you have been adversely affected by Brexit, simply write to Boris and ask for a ‘bung’.

Breathe

Parliament voted down an amendment to the Brexit Trade Bill which sought to ensure the NHS is excluded from future trade deals. This means that The NHS is once again up for sale on the international markets, breaking yet another Conservative manifesto promise. Expect American styled healthcare charges in the future and the eventual end of our NHS, currently free at the point of delivery. Oh, yes, and the £350 million per week has still not materialised …

Boris Johnson narrowly avoided defeat on a bill to avoid parliamentary scrutiny on trade deals with regimes which commit genocide. One can soon expect Liz Truss to come back from North Korea signing deals for missiles in exchange for cheese.

Breathe in the air
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Brain Damage

Maslow did not deal with money in his hierarchy of needs, as it was what fellow traveller Frederick Herzberg termed a ‘dissatisfier’. Simply stated, doubling your salary does not double your motivation, but an inadequate wage is a massive source of dissatisfaction.

Losing your livelihood can also lead to mental health issues, aka what Pink Floyd referred to as ‘brain damage’ on ‘Dark Side of the Moon’. We are currently in the midst of experiencing what could be described as ‘collective PTSD’ in the UK, as lives and livelihoods are destroyed by COVID. Whilst it makes total sense to close down non-essential activities, such as hairdressers, nail bars etc. and to restrict social participation in sports and hospitality, the impacts on mental health are considerable.

Whilst Brexit is not a direct causal factor of these COVID-related closures. Brexit has contributed to our lack of resilience in the UK and therefore our sense of dystopia about the future. Going forward, Brexit will do much more damage to our sense of belonging and place in the world, with impacts on lives and livelihoods. We can only express our sorrow to those people whose lives depend on the resumption of their businesses. All we can do is to point out that the measures taken by Boris Johnson have been too little, too late. This has resulted in repeated lockdowns and restrictions and extended the pain from COVID. Adding Brexit to COVID results in a ‘Britastrophe’.

A stitch in time saves nine – click on the image to save democracy

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The Great Gig in the Sky

I am part musician, part scientist, part business academic, so it pains me to say this, but if we had to choose between eating and music, the rational choice would be to eat. Yet our Brexit Government has voted for neither. With shops now emptying of fruit, veg, meat and fish, one could have taken consolation in music. Yet it emerges that Boris Johnson rejected a special deal for musicians working in Europe as part of the Brexit trade deal. I wrote on the issue of musicians working in Europe many years ago, in Voices for Europe and recently the world’s most famous musicians have protested against this criminal assault on the arts by our Government.

Won't get fooled again (by Brexit)
Won’t get fooled again (by Brexit) … We’ll be fighting on the streets – click on Roger Daltrey to help Re-Boot Britain – Graphic by Cold War Steve www.coldwarsteve.com

UK culture secretary Oliver Dowden urged musicians to use their ‘star power’ to lobby the EU to ease new visa and work permit rules. Dowden revealed his pathetic idiocy and ignorance in suggesting that musicians should be able to break international trade agreements. In doing so, he made himself and his Government look especially stupid. The fault rests with third-rate  negotiator Frost, who, instead of looking after the interests of musicians and others, wasted months of negotiations parroting the words that Britain is a sovereign country.

Money

Anthony Grayling reports on further gradual shifts to move our financial services out of Britain.

HMRC are also charging truckers for delays that THEY are causing in terms of customs checks. This will not go well. There have been several reports on extensive delays for lorry drivers. In case you are confused about why this is happening, this helpful diagram explains all:

Alone again, naturally – our place as a 3rd Country

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Time

Every year is getting shorter never seem to find the time.
Plans that either come to naught or half a page of scribbled lines
Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way
The time is gone, the song is over,
Thought I’d something more to say.

The Government has ended the restrictions on the 48-hour working week, although employers have not complained of feeling unduly shackled by EU standards and the majority of workers working more than 48 hours a week willingly opted out with better pay conditions. This opens the door to the exploitation of poorly paid workers. This breaks the government’s election manifesto pledge and was a key part of the Tories’ appeal to voters in traditional Labour seats which helped the party to secure its 2019 General Election victory. 

Time is of course at the heart of our problems with delivery of fresh food and medicines, many of which require cool chain delivery and which rely on Just In Time manufacturing in order to reach us in good condition. In some cases we have yet to see the impacts of Brexit in these areas but the signs are not good.

Meanwhile, Boris Johnson continues to gaslight us into accepting sub-optimal doses of the COVID vaccine. He is going against best advice from the manufacturers and the WHO although they understand our sense of desperation, given the toxic effects of Corona + Brexit. This decision is not risk free and we shall find out the effects by experimentation.

Just 20 days in and Brexit carnage has begun, from the top to the bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, as we enter the Winter of Discontent.

Will we see the dark side of the loon soon?

Mike Cashman sums up for us:

ACCEPT WHAT HAS HAPPENED AND MOVE ON?

How often have you heard this?

Well, this article compiled by Peter Cook summarises some of what has happened in the first 3 weeks of real Brexit. We all need to recognise these real problems that have arisen from the fact of Brexit and from the reckless rushed and incompetent negotiation. No one should refer any more to Project Fear – this is Reality and businesses are facing disaster.

Do we accept that this has happened? Government Ministers consistently refuse to answer questions about reasons for our dreadful situation, whether that is Brexit or Covid. As expected, they have started to blame Covid for Brexit problems.

Will Boris Johnson now move on? Will his Government act honourably, do what the Dutch Government have done and resign en masse with him? Ask your MP.

We finish as we began, with a performance of Pink Floyd’s “Another Prick in the Mall”, on a train after The People’s March:

With thanks to Sy Donne, Irina Fridman, Helga Perry, Adrian Ekins-Daukes, Mike Cashman, Jo Wace, Martin Housden, Lisa Lanfranchi, Carol Fraser, Roger Cracknell, Patricia Manning, Daphne Franks, Peter Daws, June Austin, Greg Newman for helping compile this article.

Sunday Roasting

Sunday Roasting

It’s Sunday. Normally a time for a visit to church and some light chatter in England’s green and pleasant land. No talk of sex, death and politics. But this is Brexit Britain, so I’ll break that rule with a Sunday Roasting of our Government.

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Fcuk off to Europe

This is the official message being given out by Government agencies to businesses who want to trade with Europe. Businesses are being told to open offices in Europe if they want to continue in business. Remember when Johnson said “Fuck Business”? It was one of his rare moments of telling the truth.

Oh wait a minute, did we not get a Brexit deal for frictionless trade?

How are small businesses going to maintain two headquarters just to avoid non-tariff barriers and other delays?

Who is paying for this?

Thom Yorke of Radiohead sums up the Brexit carnage nicely:

Write to your MP and ask for Brexit to be cancelled.

Take the Doctor’s advice

Boris Johnson is NOT taking the doctor’s advice by extending the time between COVID vaccinations. I have the burden of having worked on life saving medicines. We don’t recommend treatment regimes just for a laugh. The impact of Johnson’s careless approach is that vulnerable people who have had one dose of the COVID vaccine are becoming infected. Here is a story from one of my friends who prefers to remain anon, as her mum’s story is too painful to face in public. Her mum went for her first COVID injection in December but then had to attend hospital for a minor issue, returning with COVID:

“The following is what everyone who thinks the vaccine means life can return to normal needs to understand: My mum was admitted to hospital two weeks ago with a severe respiratory infection and related heart and blood sugar problems as she is also diabetic. She has now contracted COVID in hospital, but she doesn’t seem to have any additional symptoms as a result. So it would seem that having had the vaccination has protected her against developing COVID symptoms, but not against catching it, or being able to transmit it. Most importantly, because she is now COVID positive she has had to be transferred from the elderly acute ward to a COVID ward, even though she doesn’t actually have COVID symptoms. She is now surrounded by severely ill people who are gasping for breath and she is being cared for by medical staff in full PPE, so she can’t see their faces. She is utterly traumatised and nobody can visit her, which is also traumatising her husband. I can cope with losing my mother to old age and ill health, it’s the normal cycle of life. But this is no way to go. The vaccination has protected her against developing COVID symptoms, but not against this awful situation”.

Others ignore the idea that once you have had COVID, you will be invincible. Think again. A good friend of mine has COVID for the second time. It is a new infection and not a repeat event. Her illness is just as bad if not worse than the first time some 9 months ago. To those that think that immunisation will make them invincible, think again.

Coming soon – a new 3 track album to reach heads and hearts

In the ultimate mark of shame, Grant Shapps is insisting that DVLA workers in Swansea who are infected with COVID keep going to work. I once worked for a few weeks at DVLA. I opted out from the lucrative contract, as I could not face the ‘behavioural waste’ that went on, due to incompetent management. I have never really believed in what is called ‘sick buildings’, but now Grant Shapps appears to be making DVLA into a ‘death camp’.

500+ cases in one govt building

Workers with symptoms ordered to come into work

Dept refused vulnerable peoples’ requests to isolate

Told to disable test and trace notifications

The Minister for Death – Grant Shapps

The death of Britain

Brexit continues to surprise with shipping costs rising more than SIX times in some cases. Firms have the choice to either fold their businesses, pay 600% more in transport costs or relocate to Europe.

NONE of these are the sunny uplands promised by Gove, Johnson et al.

ALL of them are entirely of our OWN government’s making.

Brexit Carnage
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Elected

In more positive news, my application to stand for a position on the board of Grassroots for Europe has been accepted. Wish me luck. Join us at our regular meeting to Re-Boot Britain on Monday at 7 pm.

Sunday Roasting
Image by Cold War Steve www.coldwarsteve.com
Sunday Roasting
“Cheat is Murder” – Boris Johnson
Sunday Sun – Page 3