Don Adamson writes from Yorkshire on the latest mayhem which contributes to our Britastrophe.
This week’s quotes: “Johnson’s ‘levelling up’ agenda is ailing and listless, a casualty of Johnson’s lack of seriousness … Few doubt the new chancellor’s intellect but he swings between genius and idiocy … an attention span of four seconds … The Chancellor rattles the Treasury … the Treasury needs good advice more than ever … may not be enough to avoid a downturn … None of this bodes well for the public finances. Yet the government is expected to announce tax cuts … Having got their woman into Downing St dodgy financiers can look forward to … deregulate their businesses yet further … Kwarteng should be able to get his ideas through with less sense checking from experienced officials…. However resounding the next crash the sound for friends of Kwasi wil be ‘kerching’ … Department of Health and Social Care is proving shy about efforts to claw back billions of pounds from underperforming suppliers … progress on suspect suppliers is close to bugger all …Priti Patel put former Australian Foreign Secretary (who helped create Australia’s harsh anti-refugee system) in charge of ‘independent review’ of her Rwanda scheme … leaked files showed guards hitting children or demanding sex from female inmates in grim camps in Papua New Guinea … If Downer could not detect abuse in Australia’s infamous offshore camps it seems unlikely he will spot it in Rwanda … Chris Philp, new appointment as Chief Secretary to the Treasury … why pay any tax at all when they can simply fold their companies when owing hundreds of thousands of pounds to Revenue and Customs … It was refreshing to hear a Labour Politician unapologetic about opposing Brexit, clear about the palpable damage was doing … Sept ans plus tard qui peut pretendre que le Royaume-Uni a beneficie du Brexit (Translation – after seven years who can pretend that the UK benefits from Brexit) … the answer is next to nobody. The tragedy is that the few who do pretend are sitting round the cabinet table, living in la la land imagining that Brexiters who ‘knew what they were voting for’ knew that it was bankers getting bigger bonuses … many of Thick Lizzie and Kwarteng’s plans are detailed in an economically illiterate pamphlet they published ten years ago … Britannia Unchained … unremarkable, badly researched, cherry picked data using taxi drivers’ anecdotes as ‘evidence.’ … evidence is thin … lifting the ban on bankers’ bonuses … even Johnson retreated on this idea … the authors without a science or maths degree between them or any sense of irony … one of the most illiterate parts of the prospectus is the notion that we will all have to work harder … in fact British workers put in longer hours but productivity remains low … the obvious change is more training, investment and better management … if you don’t believe ‘Britannia Unchanged’ the pamphlet has the evidence to convince you … the opinions of taxi drivers … the authors are terrible at maths, economically illiterate, ignorant of science and engineering and completely unaware of how to research a book or write well … smug, selfish, self satisfied, lacking in empathy, ignorant of facts and believing in their own fantasy economics …unfortunately they are now running the country …
Don Adamson, Medway Delta (Retired), Saboteur and Brexorcist First Class
I don’t really think that Boris Johnson deserves more than one minute to reflect upon his legacy so I made several videos in less than one minute on this subject. In fact James O’Brien summed up the detail so well that I don’t feel i could better that. In summary we are talking about:
Broken promises on Brexit (It is NOT “DONE”, it will consume a lifetime of wasted time and money to continue the pretence). To read the full history, read Private Eyelines – Have I Got Fake Brexit News for EU and Reboot Britain – Strategies and skills to change minds on Europe and Brexit. Remainers and Rejoiners seriously need to up their skills if we are to win the next battle with the populists. Never forget that we lost two elections and a referendum, however inconvenient that fact is. Yesterday I delivered copies of these books to Sir Alan Sugar, Richard Branson and James O’Brien. I wish to send them to Hugh Grant next if anyone can help with this.
Outright LIES on COVID (Johnson was late to the party when others were listening to experts. He conducted an experiment with genocide by placing infected NHS patients into care homes, causing 10’s of 1000’s of unnecessary deaths). The list goes on. These were political CHOICES and not inevitable. Johnson has been lying ever since he was born. Why would we expect any different from him?
Industrial levels of distraction or dead cat politics, the latest one being the “kettle”. Even the kettle story is not correct. If you want your kettle to boil faster, descaling and using the correct amount of water will make bigger impacts on your bill. £20 is of course not even significant when compared with the actual energy price rises, but Johnson assumes that people cannot add up.
I don’t believe the Tories will call an election in order to lose their majority but if they do, we’ll need to do better than sharing memes on fb. The Daily Maul has set another dead cat loose on this subject today. Preparation is better than regret. Learn the skills to persuade people outside your bubble to change their voting behaviour here.
I had a chance encounter with a Labour Councillor the other day whilst at gay pride in Rochester. We know each other from many years back and I like and respect him as a solid campaigner for Remain within the Labour party. He approached me because he recognised me from behind, as I had my ‘offensive swimming bag’ with me, pictured below.
After a brief exchange of pleasantries, he raised the issue of Labour’s strategy for Brexit. Here is what he told me:
“In our first term we will join EFTA.
In our second term we will have a referendum to rejoin the EU”.
He claimed that Kier Starmer could not argue about ending Brexit at this time, due to his need to hold on to red wall seats at an election. I dispute this position:
If Kier Starmer continues with the strategy of ‘making Brexit work’, he will be accused, quite rightly, of being a liar after being elected. This is the very thing that he has accused Boris Johnson and the Conservative party of doing and is therefore morally bankrupt.
Everyone knows that Starmer is a Remainer and therefore there would be no great loss if he were to remind us of this fact. Boris Johnson reminds Keir Starmer of his EU / Remain credentials on a weekly and sometimes daily basis in parliament, so there is very little currency in the Daily Excess, Son or Maul revealing this ‘secret’. Opinions about Brexit are changing rapidly, with Lord Sugar the latest person to call for Brexit to be reversed.
The Labour Party seem to be terrified of the right-wing media, yet they themselves have a media machine. Therefore, they ought to be able to put up a valid defence of his position if they needed to. The Labour party somehow believe that their own media machine is inferior to the Tory party’s. Perhaps Labour need to read my books as well.
My sense is that Keir Starmer is even more scared of the hard left element of his own party than the Conservatives and that this is driving his avoidance of the Brexit issue. You have gotta love Mick Lynch’s ability to stand up and speak truth to power, but let’s not forget that Lynch is also a relic of the militant tendency from the 1980’s in terms of his wish to shut the borders and return us to Little Britain via Brexit myopia.
Let’s suppose that Starmer decided to ignore the hard left in his party. It is indeed possible that he would lose some votes in red wall seats. Let’s guess that this may amount to 10% losses of seats in those areas. However he stands to gain anything like 20 to 40% of Conservative seats in other areas. Labour are allowing the militant tendency to dictate their strategy for re-election and this makes them no better than the bluekip Tories. I cannot recommend that any remainers vote for them under these circumstances, except where their candidates have a more enlightened view about Brexit.
My Councillor friend put it to me that Starmer simply cannot say the Brexit word at this time. Respectfully, I say this is horseshit. He can say that Brexit isn’t working and has not delivered what was on ‘the brochure’ in 2016. He can also point to clear evidence to support such statements at this time, coming from UK in a changing Europe and our own work at Reboot Britain. The Labour Party has fallen into the trap of believing that a poll in OK Magazine or the results of the latest focus group should dictate party policy. This is not leadership. Silence is assent and Starmer’s position is a clear demonstration of putting party before country, what Tony Blair describes as putting ideology before pragmatism. I expected better from a clever man and I must conclude that, like the Tories, there are people who they are afraid of behind the scenes.
As regards Labour’s long-term plan, there are many flaws with this:
The EFTA countries are a small club of nations: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland who value collaboration over competition. It is unclear as to how such a club would wish to invite an aggressive competitor with a track record for wanting ‘cake and eat it too’ from its relationships with other trading partners. Brexit Britain has demonstrated a complete lack of regard for the role of international law, breaking deals made with others and riding roughshod over nations that it considers to be inferior to itself. These are hardly the kinds of elements of a compelling psychological contract to join a new trading bloc. Joining EFTA also means accepting the four freedoms of the EU. How will this be put to the knuckle dragging red wall Brexiteers?
The assumption of a second term in office is also questionable, particularly if it becomes apparent that Starmer lied to get into power. This makes him equivalent to Johnson and the mainstream media would certainly weaponise this. The second doubtful assumption is that another referendum would be desirable or indeed practical. Brexit has divided the nation and I very much doubt that the nation will look back on 2016 and want to repeat the exercise with all that it has brought. It is entirely possible that, by this time, many people will have forgotten most of what Michael Gove glibly called ‘bumps in the road’ and will not wish to open up the debate again. The longer we leave this question, the more difficult it becomes, as divergence will be complete and the damage to lives and livelihoods will be complete.
My friend assumed that the binary ping-pong politics model remain resilient into the future. This itself is questionable. Brexit has of course unleashed a disruptive influence on British politics, with a number of parties now standing for anything but the current system. Within the next few years we will see the emergence of Gina Miller’s True and Fair party, the possible resurgence of the Lib Dems in the South, the departure of Scotland from the United Kingdom and the emergence of other single-issue parties such as the Rejoin party. Under such circumstances, I’m doubtful as to whether ping-pong politics will remain the norm. My friend tried to deal with this with me by saying that if I didn’t vote Labour I would get the Tories. My reply was simple. I stated that I cannot vote for a Brexit party and that Labour must do better than this.
I am not sure whether the Labour strategy was given to my labour councillor friend in order to appease him or for him to use to appease me. Although miracles are sometimes possible, the strategy he presented has more holes in it than a piece of Swiss cheese banned by Liz Truss. He is a very good chap and I wanted to believe him. But I ended up with the feeling that he himself may well be hanging onto unicorns and trying to ‘believe harder’.
A diary from the “Sunlit Uplands” written by Clarissa Cork.
My week (18th May – 24th May)
Tuesday 18th May 2022
My day started at about half past six when I woke up and realised that I was in the middle of a nightmare. I was living in 1509 (or was it earlier?) and the rich lords of the manor were taking food out of the mouths of starving children, the starving children in their rags and pale faces were looking at me pleadingly and begging for food. Meanwhile, in my dream, the lords of the manor (on horseback) are laughing at the poor, and as they ride off to their castles, they’re shouting across to each other, telling each other how much money they’ll give each other from the poor boxes they raided from the church. (Certainly NOT like Robin Hood).
Back in 2022, I glanced at my phone and saw the Guardian headlines: Liz Truss (looking fiercer than usual – and that’s quite fierce…) wants to renege on the Irish protocol – she doesn’t seem to care about risking the Good Friday Agreement!! (Does she understand the Good Friday Agreement?).
There is also an article on the poor and the cost-of-living crisis – and how some families are going to MacDonalds to eat, shower and keep warm. We are reading about this daily. I must remind myself that this is happening in one of the richest countries in the world – although I acknowledge that our country’s economy is visibly on a steep decline….
And again, the images of starving people creep back into my head I realise – this is no dystopian nightmare – it’s our dystopian reality.
I try to get back to sleep, but I can’t. I keep returning to my nightmare.
A little later, I realise that I need to acknowledge that it’s another day, and I need to take the dog for a walk into the woods. After a while, the elephant in my room (the combination of Brexit and this government) becomes a small elephant and I almost forget my worries – but they never completely disappear.
I meet a pleasant woman in the woods with her dog, she’s like minded about the situation and the calamity that is Brexit. Apparently, she has avoided the news for two years because she finds it so stressful and worrying. Editors note : The Book of Brexorcism will help.
When I return from my walk, I discover that my husband is decanting my wardrobe (we must move soon) and his plan is that I take some of my many handbags to charity shops or give them away. Being a man, he has no idea about handbags – it is not his specialist subject. He doesn’t realise -after decades of living with a woman – that women need different handbags in a variety of shades and sizes for various different occasions, even though I don’t have many “occasions” any more these days…
Fortunately, he starts watching the football starts so this annoying birth twin of Marie Kondo is distracted for a couple of hours. Hopefully, prolonged by extra time.
Later I go to bed so that I can rerun my nightmare.
Wednesday 18th May 2022
Is it only Wednesday?
So much has happened in “Car Crash Britain”. Apparently, this government have rejected the proposal for a windfall tax that was suggested by the opposition. Perhaps they want to re-enact the Irish Famine? (Actually, it was really called the Irish Hunger because the Irish were allowed). There are people in the government who are descendants of those who played a key role in the Irish Hunger. This resonates with what’s happening today. Some people in the government are even wearing the costumes dating back from that era…
My husband and I have occupational pensions, in addition to our meagre state pensions (We have one of the worst pensions in the developed world). We know we are luckier than so many… yet here we are, in week three of the month and we have run out of housekeeping. I’ll have to have a rummage in the freezer, but if memory serves me correctly there’s nothing that constitutes a meal.
I’m toying with the idea of watching PMQ’s on catch up but then, can I take the emotional hit?
Ok. I did watch it.
It was shambolic. It was even worse than usual. The windfall tax was suggested (again) by Keir Starmer to mitigate the damage of huge fuel rises, but Johnson changed the subject and talked about the trans issue. What has that got to do with the windfall tax? Yet more obfuscation! Most people are focusing on surviving!
People are really suffering, yet this government are giving huge bonuses to people who are already incredibly wealthy.
Living in these times, in this country, with this government, is worse than I could have ever imagined.
Today the police fined more people who were at parties during lockdown at number ten Downing Street. These numerous fines didn’t include the Prime Minister or the Chancellor. Apparently, they were not at these parties. (I thought that I had seen them on photographs in the press. But I must have been imagining it).
The police say that there will be no further investigations into this.
Meanwhile, in the House of Commons SNP MP Mhairi Black makes a powerful and compelling speech about this government’s march towards fascism.
Are these two events related in any way?
Yes, I believe they are.
I know they are.
Saturday 21st May 2022
Today I was talking to one of our granddaughters. She goes to a good secondary school, one of our own daughters went there; also, I have friends who are still teaching, and they confirm that this school is one of the best.
I ask her what she is doing in English (this was her best subject in primary school). She tells me that she’s enjoying English Literature, but English language is a drudge because it’s all about grammar. Apparently, or so she tells me, her English lessons are spent chopping up sentences and learning such things as what adverbial clauses are – so she informs me that her enjoyment of English has virtually disappeared. This is a child who in the past, always had her head in a book.
Thank you, Michael Gove.
(Co-incidentally, I heard almost the exact same thing from a neighbour whose son is in year four in a local primary school (an excellent school: I know it well).
I asked her how her French was going… she said “Fine!”
My mother was a French speaker, so I was brought up with “some French”. We were chatting and this bright girl from a supportive, education-valuing family knew frighteningly little. I discussed this with my daughter and told her that at the same stage she and her siblings knew far more than this. As did I.
I realised with a heavy heart that this is, of course, the Tory plan. Drastically reduce spending on education, pay teachers badly so that people don’t stay long in the profession (they can’t afford to), make it more difficult to achieve reasonable grades because the exams have been made more punitive (and no course work components) and the odds are stacked against state school education. Add to that, the eye watering cost of university and the average child should be totally disenfranchised and disadvantaged.
(And I haven’t even mentioned the added negative impact of the cost of living crisis. It could be a problem if children need to eat as well as learn)
I’m more than convinced – to coin a phrase – that this is about creating a two-tier society: a private education for the rich, and a poorly paid alternative that will keep the masses – “the plebs” – in their place. The bonus being that they will be so uninformed and working so hard for a pittance, they will be too exhausted as a result of doing several jobs simply to survive, that they’ll not informed and/or motivated when it comes to voting. They will probably accept what they’re told in the right-wing press and vote against their own interests.
Oh! Hang on! Isn’t that what happened in the 2015, 2019 elections and Brexit?
But still, with underfunding in place, the Tories will hope that this will continue!
A win:win for the Tories.
I should acknowledge that although I disliked Thatcher and her government, I never felt that she wanted to diminish education. Kenneth Baker (although not overly popular at the time) introduced the 16 plus exam, followed by GCSE exams and I thought that this was a very good system. (Both my husband and I have spent all our working lives in education).
Also, Margaret Thatcher, Edward Heath, John Major and Michael Howard were all state school educated. They also didn’t charge university fees. A good move.
This “new dawn” (or is it “Golden Dawn”?) feels very sinister and very depressing.
Sunday 22nd May 2022
I am working hard not to get depressed. Sorry, I mean MORE depressed.
We decided we would try and watch some good television tonight in order to distract ourselves from depressing times; so, we watched “Grace” with John Sims (such a wonderful actor!) although the plot is grim – but, no spoilers here….
However, you can play “Spot the Tory character” (a game all the viewers can play in the comfort of their own home). He’s easy to spot in this programme.
(Maybe it was the cravat?)
He has no empathy and thinks of “poor people” as inferior and unworthy of consideration. His specialist subject is “Otherness”.
To distract ourselves from the miseries of these times, when the credits are being shown at the beginning, there’s an actor called Craig P……….. . We both used to teach a boy who was also called Craig P. Every time his name comes up, I say to my husband
“Craig’s doing really well, isn’t he? Who’d have thought he’d be so successful? And FAMOUS?”
My husband answers and replies that it’s “great news”.
I’m really getting into this surreal situation, so I add…
“How proud are you on a scale of 1 – 10?”
“SO proud. I cannot find the words” is his deadpan response.
But then he says “C, every time we see his name, we have this conversation at least twice every episode and now I feel that Craig has become a fixture in our lives. Can we stop?”
“OK!” I sigh.
Later, I realise I haven’t read my Sunday paper, but these days it takes real courage to even open the pages.
Continuing our theme on censorship, this piece, written by Alan Bullion was censored by Byline Times, presumably as it criticises the left. Whilst I don’t agree fully with all that it says, I would defend Alan’s right to say it to the hilt. All leaders and political systems have faults and some tend to believe that they are messiah like. Blair is not immune to our failings as humans and in this article, Alan argues that Tony Blair’s commitment to representative democracy may have set up the conditions for UKIP / Farage to gain oxygen and fuel the Brexit debate. As always at Re-Boot Britain, comments are welcome and free. In the words of George Michael, listen without prejudice.
Tony Blair is perhaps the most controversial Labour Prime Minister of the post-war period. Most come to bury not praise his significant legacy and reputation, especially since the furore surrounding the Iraq war and its subsequent aftermath. Just this year we have had an online petition attracting millions of signatures opposing his proposed knighthood, both from left and right-wing critics.
Indeed, it is often forgotten brushed aside that Blair led his party to a huge majority under the ‘New Labour’ project in 1997, followed by two more convincing general election victories, one after the Iraq war.
In order to better understand how the Brexit referendum of 2016 and its aftermath occurred, I have analysed the timeline and impact of several key events under the Blair/Brown governments which led up to those fateful events of Britain leaving the EU.
Of course, I am not suggesting that these actors alone were to blame. Farage, Cameron, Johnson, Cummings and several others – all privileged public-school educated white men – clearly played their part.
But as I will argue below, the actions of Blair and others around him led to a process where an already sceptical British public became increasingly critical of the EU and its perceived ills. This resulted in the calamitous narrow vote in favour of departure in 2016.
The fringe cause of Euroscepticism under Farage and the UK Independence Party (UKIP) had been previously the province of right-wing fanatics and Home Counties pub bores.
The rise of UKIP as an electoral force
The first touchstone in our trajectory was when Blair went along with the proposal by the then Lib Dem leader Paddy Ashdown to introduce proportional representation in the 1999 elections to the European Parliament. This led UKIP and its leader Nigel Farage to gain a mainstream and increasingly influential foothold in politics. Blair had not been won over to PR, rather it was a political compromise to avoid the introduction of PR to elections for the House of Commons. or local government.
Ironically, while Farage was sceptical about winning an in/out Brexit referendum, Blair, along with Ashdown, Cameron and Clegg, were overwhelmingly enthusiastic. They severely underestimated public fears, stoked by Farage, that such a binary vote would result in disaster on a huge turnout, driven by immigration and issues such as ‘sovereignty’.
Narcissist and messiah?
In June 2014, the novelist and former Labour acolyte Robert Harris, while publicising his book The Ghost, described Blair as a ‘tragic narcissist with a messiah complex’, who would be doomed to live a ‘tragic life’ and face trial at the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes.
There was an element of truth in this harsh judgement. Both Blair and his barrister wife Cherie were often accused of being ‘money mad’, rushing around the world advising dubious autocrats on how to improve their image.
There might well have been an element of neediness there, which others such as former Labour MP Leo Abse psychologically analysed in The Man Behind the Smile. Indeed, Blair was well suited to the world of celebrity politics and self-publicists such as Kim Kardashian.The tragedy was that he would never be able to completely resurrect his image after the Iran/Iraq war, despite his other considerable achievements at winning elections.
The truth is inevitably more complex. In my 1996 article ‘What Blair Believes’, published in the Jewish Quarterly, I argued that Blair was driven by a simplistic dualist ideology devised by Anglican mystic John Macmurray, which he imbibed while at university. This belief system basically sees protagonists in international politics as either essentially ‘good’ or ‘evil’, thereby explaining Blair’s support for US President Bush in Iraq.
Blair was highly active on the EU. For example, he was instrumental in establishing the cross-party grouping Britain in Europe, specifically to argue the case for the UK signing up to the Euro (single currency) and the European Monetary Union, via a popular referendum. This came to a crescendo in the wake of the sudden death of Princess Diana in August 2007.
There were serious differences over this issue between Blair and Chancellor Gordon Brown. This was further exemplified by the clash over the Treaty of Lisbon and the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ), which was signed in December 2007 and came into force two years later under Brown.
Originally a referendum was promised by Labour Foreign Secretary Jack Straw for Spring 2006, but that never happened, adding more fire to the UKIP fray that the court was increasingly compromising British sovereignty.
Eastern European migrants and the reserve army of labour
In May 2004, Blair, supported by Home Office minister David Blunkett, decided to allow migrant labour from the eight Eastern European countries that would be joining the EU. Unlike the UK, other EU member states such as Germany had instead opted to impose a seven-year delay from these countries achieving full entry to work.
As these Eastern European migrants started to arrive, Blunkett went on BBC2 Newsnight to defend the policy, declaring that there was ‘no obvious upper limit on migration’. That calendar year alone there was a net increase of 350,000. Blunkett later conceded that he lost public support and made a mistake.
At the time I was visiting Kent sixth forms and colleges to make the case for remaining in the EU. Comments from working class children in those schools told stories of perceived resentment at migrants taking jobs such as cleaning, catering and car mechanics, and driving down wages.
It was in 2005 when I campaigned as a parliamentary candidate in Hammersmith and Fulham and was confronted on the doorstep by a British plumber who claimed he had been undercut by the nice Polish plumbers taken up promptly by middle-class housewives.
‘It’s all right for the likes of the Blairs, living their aloof and cosmopolitan lives in Islington and Brussels’, was the implication.
So now we come to 2022, with Tory cuts to universal benefits, rising food and fuel prices, and tax increases.
We are still talking about migrants … while there are severe shortages of food and farm labourers, lorry and bus drivers. And ironically, as the consequences of Brexit become ever more stark, arch Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg has just been appointed by Johnson as minister for Brexit Opportunities. You couldn’t make it up.
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