Aug 282019
 

Today Boris the Bodger called the privy council up to prorogue parliament to stop those ever so inconvenient representatives of the people from causing more trouble for his agenda. There are those who go so far as to call this a cout d’état – not entirely unreasonably although it is probably legal.

There are those who are disappointed that the Queen agreed to the proroguing of parliament, but why should she? Disregarding the ‘advice’ of the Prime Minister would go against what she has spent her entire reign doing – being a symbolic head of state in a parliamentary democracy.

Because it’s a lifetime ago, it is all too easy to forget that the Queen ascended the throne with the monarchy in crisis – her uncle had abdicated in 1936 and her father reigned for a relatively short time. She has spent her long reign rebuilding trust in the monarchy.

There are those who will say what happened was not democratic (and I’m inclined to agree with them) but the Queen can quite reasonably point out that she acted in a democratic way – she assented to the request of the Prime Minister elected by parliament.

If anything undemocratic went on, it was done by Boris the Bodger, and parliament has a duty to take care of that.

Surfing The Sky

Jul 272019
 

Back when the Brexit referendum result was announced, I (as a remainer) was reasonably content that we should have Brexit – and then start campaigning to rejoin the EU. But things have changed.

What has not changed (but is still worth reminding ourselves) is that the margin of victory was very narrow – the Leavers like to claim there is a clear mandate for leaving the EU. A mandate yes, but any referendum that is won by such a narrow margin is not exactly a “clear mandate”.

And it has become clear that the referendum campaigns were conducted in a way that was probably in violation of UK law – questionable funding sources, connections to some very dubious US ‘politicians’ and of course the Russian connection.

Various credible sources have indicated that Russian social media trollbots were very active during the lead up to the referendum.

Does this invalidate the referendum result? It would not be totally unreasonable to argue that it does – whilst disregarding the referendum could well be regarded as undemocratic, the level of interference in the referendum is also undemocratic.

But rather than concentrating on that, let us take a look at “no deal”. The referendum was not asking whether we should crash out of the EU with no deal; the implication was always that there would be some sort of deal to our benefit (although why the EU should agree to a deal favourable to the UK was always a bit questionable).

So all those who voted for Brexit were not necessarily voting for “Brexit under all circumstances”; they were voting for a Brexit with a beneficial deal. In these circumstances, it is more democratic to cancel Article 50 if no deal is possible – only extremists want a “no deal” Brexit.

Because that was the choice in the referendum – remain, or to leave with a decent deal – because all the leave campaigners were saying we would get a good deal.

The Paths Meet

Jul 172019
 

Trump’s twitch. No not that one, the tweet about certain congresspeople “going home” (despite the fact that of the four women targeted, three were born in the USA).

Quite rightly it has been labelled as “racist” but without meaning to minimise that criticism, that is a personal insult to the four women (and we can get outraged on their behalf). But something that has been less pronounced: it’s also an insult to every single voter who elected those four women.

Trump was criticising those four women because they are criticising US government policy; as duly elected representatives and part of the US government, they are doing what they were elected to do. Criticising those women for doing their job is essentially saying they are not entitled to do their job and in turn those who voted for them are not entitled to their say.

And this attack on democracy is as important to highlight as the racism.

Jun 272019
 

@AOC seems to have poured a dramatic amount of petrol onto the fiery discussion regarding Trump’s border concentration camps by simply calling them concentration camps.

No matter how many people assume that ‘concentration camp’ means a Nazi extermination camp, that is not what ‘concentration camp’ means. As one dictionary states :-

camp where persons are confined, usually without hearings and typically under harsh conditions, often as a result of their membership in a group the government has identified as suspect.

Although that is not from the full Oxford English Dictionary, I have checked with that definitive work and it’s definition agrees with the above. 

The relevant Twitter threads are filled with agreements and disagreements, and it is the later I’ll take a closer look at.

At least in some instances; more than a few consist of approximately “Well they’re illegal immigrants so they deserve it” which is so repulsively disgusting that the only appropriate response is a good slap.

The next objection is along the lines of: “You can’t call them concentration camps; that would be disrespectful to the 6 million Jews that the Nazis murdered”.

Funnily enough, it’s rarely mentioned that the Nazis also killed 11 million other people as well as the 6 million Jews. Almost as if there is a politically acceptable “holocaust denial” (strictly speaking the Holocaust is only the Jews; there isn’t an acceptable ‘cool’ name for the entirety of the Nazi crimes against humanity).

Let’s correct a few misconceptions about Nazi concentration camps (and there have been plenty of other concentration camps around the world) :-

  1. The concentration camps were first created in 1933 to hold political prisoners and union organisers. Those targeted for starvation rations, brutal treatment, and slave labour rapidly grew to include homosexuals, Romani, communists, socialists, the disabled, Poles, Slavs, Soviet POWs, and just about anyone who could be labelled “undesirable”.
  2. Jews were also targeted as soon as the Nazis came to power but weren’t sent en-mass to concentration camps until 1939 when they were forced to live in Jewish “ghettos” (effectively concentration camps).
  3. The extermination camps were set up in 1942 to speed up the “final solution”; approximately 90% of those killed at these extermination camps were Jewish.

There is also “But Obama did it first” (these camps were first instantiated in 2014 under the previous administration). This is distinctly reminiscent of the wailing child that gets caught with his or her hand in the cookie jar “But someone else did it first”. As I understand it, the scale of the previous administration’s camps was far less than now, but give me a time machine and I’ll still go back and tell off Obama.

Now back to our original topic. Is it fair to call the border camps ‘concentration camps’? They certainly meet the dictionary definition, and there are genuine reasons why the comparison with the Nazi concentration camps is entirely appropriate.

That is not to say that the border concentration camps are comparable to the Nazi concentration camps in 1944, but there are many disturbing parallels to the Nazi concentration camps in 1934. The time to stop these camps potentially evolving into something similar to the Nazi concentration camps of 1944 is now.

Spume on the Beach
May 282019
 

The European election results in the UK are being commonly classified as an enormous victory for the Brexit Party. Which is regrettably true, but not quite the whole truth.

If you were to take a list of the numbers of MEPs each party got :-

PartyMEPs
The Brexit Party
29
Liberal Democrat16
Labour10
Green7

You can see that if the next three parties were to hold a pact, they could outvote the Brexiteers every day and twice on every Sunday. Interestingly enough, whilst the Brexit party got 5,248,533 votes, the petition to revoke Article 50 got 6,085,584.

Which seems to indicate that whilst Brexit is the largest ‘party’ in the European elections, the remainers have actually got a slim majority!

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