Countering anti-2nd vote arguments

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So Corbyn & co have rightly stitched up the remainers within the labour party. They’ve watered it down to a vague commitment to a people’s vote, which may or may not include a remain option, but even that will only happen if there’s a general election, or maybe not. And it won’t be in the party’s election manifesto even if there is an election.

And of course the gang of four pro-brexit MP’s will be free to prop up Theresa May and keep their boss from power without any blow back from the party leadership. As I’ve said before, supporting labour with Corbyn in charge means supporting leave and leave at any cost, as he’s arguably a more committed leaver than many in the Tory party.

And as a result if you support Corbyn let’s be clear, you don’t really support social justice in any way shape or form. Brexit is turning upside down the lives of millions of people in the UK. The 3-blokes-in-a-pub were recently talking to EU citizens about what they’ve been through. In effect Corbyn believes its okay to turn millions of people into 2nd class citizens, on an issue which they were never allowed to vote on. Explain to me, how that’s any different from the Tories at their worst? And the EU has pointed out that what goes around comes around, anything the UK applies against EU citizens will be reciprocated by the EU.

Furthermore, if brexit goes ahead it makes everything labour committed to at conference impossible to deliver. To implement his policies, Corbyn will need money. But brexit is going to raise living costs, lower tax revenue and drive up borrowing costs. In short, there won’t be much wriggle room for him to put up taxes or borrow to fund anything. He’ll be spending most if not all of his premiership just putting out fires.

Hell he may as well have promised to give everyone houses made of gold bricks and keep the rich in a cage outside Downing Street, which he’ll occasionally poke with a stick. Its about as likely to happen as anything else in labour’s manifesto, so long as they ignore the brexit elephant. Labour under Corbyn isn’t a political party, its the cult of the one true Corbyn. And they will deliver dilly squat.

It is for these reasons I thought I’d debunk a few of the main arguments against having a 2nd vote:

A people’s vote won’t be democratic”

The definition of the word democracy is “a system of government by the people for the people, typically through voting….”. The word breaks down into dêmos (which means “people“) and krátos (which means “force” or “power“). So a “people’s vote” won’t be a “people’s vote” WTF !?! I know all these posh boys who went to boarding schools speak Latin, but you really need to brush up on your language skills.

 

We need to respect the original decision

Okay so labour under Corbyn believes that the brexit vote was a sacred act, which cannot ever be voted on again, now and until the end of days. While the decision the electorate made just over a year ago to put the Tories in charge was a mistake and the public should be made to have another go, under threat of a general strike. And presumably they should keep voting until Corbyn wins!

Electorates change their minds. Especially when they learn that they’ve been conned, or that one side or another has been found guilty of electoral fraud. If you believe we should “respect the original decision” then you don’t believe in democracy. By that same logic MP’s should be voted into power once and for life, regardless of what crimes they commit or how crap they are at the job or how many lies they told to get elected.

 

Twenty million/62% of consistences — insert massively over inflated figure — voted for leave….

Brexit was only supported by 37% of the electorate, or only about a quarter of the current adult population (when we include those excluded from the poll). So it is stretching things to suggest it had actual majority support. And there’s polling evidence to suggest attitudes have changed.

Given the gravity of its potential impact it really does require some sort of 2nd vote in some form or another, preferably with a rule requiring support from 50% of the electorate or a two thirds majority in every region of the UK. Otherwise odds are, once Corbyn and May have both succeeded in screwing things up, there will be another referendum anyway, this one aimed at getting back into the EU (which btw will come with accepting the euro, proportional representation a proper constitution, etc.).

Furthermore, surely if you are that confident that leave is the “will of the people” surely you’d WANT a 2nd vote to kill off the issue for a generation. I mean if those numbers are correct, you’re going to win anyway, let the baby have his bottle.

 

Remain lied too

Given that Cameron Sir Pigalot and Osborne the slimy one were leading the remain vote, that’s probably true. I mean part of the reason he had to go is that he’d told so many porkies since getting elected it was getting hard to keep up. Recall Cameron’s problems remembering which football team he’s supposed to be a supporter of.

However, two wrongs do not make a right. This is not some sort of game we’re playing. If remain lied, that still makes the vote invalid and means the referendum should be re-run. In most other countries it would be. Indeed, it is this moral hazard aspect of the brexit vote that worries me. Letting the leave campaign get away with electoral fraud is opening a massive can of worms. It means that if you can bully and lie your way towards something, with the support of just a quarter of the people, then anything’s possible. Just read UKIP’s manifesto and imagine what sort of a bus they could drive through the country with this precedence on the books.

 

In Greece/Ireland/—insert random EU country you know nothing about — they make you vote over and over until the EU wins

By which they are referring to the fact that in some cases there’s been more than one referendum in these countries on the same issue. Ya, because we’re grown ups who realise that people make mistakes and need to be given the opportunity to think again. And also it has to be pointed out that in these referendums the no camp represented the status quo (we were voting on changing how the EU worked, not on leaving it and some didn’t want it to change, hence they voted to keep things the same, the opposite of the leave vote position).

Furthermore, there were specific problems with these past referendums, which is why they really had to be re-run. For example, in the lead up to the Nice Treaty vote in Ireland one politician even said he hadn’t bothered to read the treaty and you’d be mad to try. While Sinn Fein claimed that the minimum wage would fall to about 2 euro and Irish would be conscripted into the new European army.

So prior to the 2nd vote the government got “clarification” from the EU on various issues (i.e. that Sinn Fein are a bunch of lying ba$tards), they actually bothered to read it this time and even got some minor changes to the text approved. If anything, this makes the case for a 2nd referendum in the UK along similar lines.

 

The unspoken truth

Of course the real reason for not supporting a 2nd vote, which no leaver will ever admit to, is that they know they got lucky last time and fear that won’t happen again. A combination of Cameron being in charge (encouraging a protest leave vote), leave’s milk and honey lies, election fraud, a refugee crisis in Europe, Russian trolls and the mass surveillance and manipulation of millions via facebook, all served to tip the balance. I recall a pollster suggesting that there was only a one in four chance of leave winning the last time, so the odds of that happening again aren’t great.

And ultimately, the chaos of brexit won’t effect brexiters, with their gold plated pension and in many cases an EU passport and an offshore bank account. Instead, it presents them with an opportunity. While you’ll find nobody in labour who’ll admit it, they secretly hope brexit will go ahead and be a disaster as this increases the odds of Corbyn winning a future election. So in other words, they are happy to help the Tories burn the house down, in the hope they’ll be able to have a go at burning down the garage later. Its sadopopulism at its very worst.

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Salzburg and the sound of brexit madness

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Theresa May went to Salzburg this week….without watching the sound of music first (which is practically a crime in Salzburg, the hostel I stayed at showed the film every day!). She was hoping to get the EU to endorse her dead parrot chequers plan….that everyone in the UK (other than her) has already rejected. Inevitably it fell to Donald Tusk to point out to her that it was bleeding demised and was now a late plan, bereft of life that rests in peace. This threw May into a tizzy, claiming that the EU weren’t showing her respect (she’d been told many times before that the plan would be rejected, it could hardly come as a surprise) and if they don’t like it what’s the alternative.

Well the problem with this statement is it shows two years in and the UK still hasn’t got a clue what its doing. And that the PM, like so many brexiters, has a disturbing lack of knowledge about the EU and its institutions. The UK is the one who is leaving, it is up to the UK to come up with an acceptable plan. And the EU has hinted at options it considers acceptable (Norway model, Canada plus, Swiss model, reverse Greenland, etc.). In fact they’ve practically rubbed them in the UK’s face! You can lead a horse to water….but if its a brexiter its going to demand Bollinger champagne and caviar…..which it sees no need to pay for.

The EU commission has to stick to this policy because, contrary to what the Daily Mail will tell you, its not a political organisation. Its an executive body charged with implementing policy as opposed to setting policy (that’s up to the EU parliament and the 27 EU member states). Thus its treating the UK’s exit as a legal process, as outlined by article 50 (which its clear nobody in government bothered to actually read before triggering it). While there is some leeway and wriggle room, they can’t change the rules of the EU to accommodate the UK. Why? Because that would require all of the EU member states to agree to it. In other words all of the national governments and parliaments would have to approve such a change (whereas some fudge on the terms of article 50 only requires a qualified majority, 60% of them, to approve). Some countries would even have to have a referendum (including Ireland). And there’s no way all of that can get done in 6 months.

In short, Theresa May should have done her home work and decided on a brexit plan, before invoking article 50. Its a bit late now for tears and prima donna theatrics. As is so often the case, the Tories will use an incident like this to bury bad news. And while their boss was in meltdown mode, they were having a field day.

For example, some members of the Windrush are to be refused citizenship, as the Tories have clearly judged that the media storm over this has died down enough that they can go back to being racists. Oh and EU migrants will receive no particularly special treatment post-brexit, so expect history to repeat itself soon enough. At least until it causes enough chaos (i.e. enough crops rot in the field and enough old gits die on dirty hospital floors) for them to realise its unworkable. But I mean come on, when the British give their word, it clearly doesn’t count when it comes to foreigners or plebs (the 17th rule of acquisition).

Meanwhile, Liam Fox quietly revealed to parliament exactly what remainers had told him prior to the referendum – that all the BS about how easy it would be to trade under WTO rules was a big fat lie. Far from the UK winning concessions off other countries outside the EU, its likely to have to make concessions of its own as a condition for continued trade (under WTO rules, which will be much harsher than under the EU’s free trade agreements).

Under WTO rules if a country changes its trade rules this presents other WTO members with the option of triggering a trade dispute. And by leaving the EU and single market (oh and changing your immigration laws also counts), this means the UK is changing its trading rules for every country in the WTO. And needless to say, the sharks are starting to circle the UK.

Across town, Michael Gove of house Slytherin the environment secretary was also confirming for farmers what they were warned about prior to brexit is going to happen – that there will be no farm subsidies anymore. Yes, there will be a transition period of a few years and the government is promising some subsidies for environmentally beneficial activities but that’s it. However, these reforms do look kind of suspiciously like the ones the EU has previously proposed and guess who was the main objector to them? So again, why are we leaving the EU, just to plagiarise its policies that we are ourselves objected too?

Furthermore, EU’s CAP reform comes with a few key caveats. Notably they want to do away with so-called “slipper farmers(city types who buy up land and pretend to be farmers just to collect subsidy money). The UK government’s proposals mention nothing about that. Which again, should hardly come as a surprise, hazard a guess who objected to the EU’s attempts to crack down on slipper farmers last time?

There also seems to be no support for small holdings, notably hill farmers or crofters. These are vital industries, not least because in order to manage the land you need to pay someone to live out in the middle of nowhere, half way up a mountain, surrounded by midges. The EU, as well as the Scottish and Welsh governments, have long recognised that pushing a bit of money their way to keep the wolf from the door makes more sense than hiring someone in to do the land management for them. But it appears the Tories plan a repeat of the highland clearances.

And of course we need to consider the impact of the supposed post-brexit trade deals the UK is proposing to sign. These will force UK farmers to compete against cheap foreign imports, which will often have been produced at a lower environmental standard. Plus there’s issues such as the risk of diseases prevalent in these countries spreading to UK farms (most notably foot and mouth disease).

This is why the EU is very selective about who it signs trades with and on what terms for which products. There is little point in them enforcing strict food safety and environmental standards on European producers, if we are just going to let every jackass in the world sell into the trading block without any standards at all. Furthermore, under WTO trade rules, farm subsidies could be seen as giving UK farmers an unfair advantage, hence they might be subject to a trade dispute post-brexit.

And to say the least I’m a little suspicious of this road to Damascus conversion of Gove and the Tories towards the environment. I suspect the real reason behind this announcement is party politics. If May gets ousted, the party will split into two factions, one behind Boris or the monocled mutineer Mogg, the other behind Hammond or Soubry. If either faction wins, the Tory party will probably split. So the odds are good in favour of a compromise candidate, such as Gove. So this announcement is probably more about him making peace with the moderate wing of the Tory party than anything.

Of course once the leadership contest is over and the incompatibility of such measures with the Tories post-brexit plans becomes obvious, even these subsidies will probably be jettisoned and the farmers will be hung out to dry.

The three blokes in a pub vloggers have recently been to Geneva and they’ve been told by WTO officials there that UK farming has two good years left post-brexit, then its lights out. I suspect that might be a bit off, there is (as noted) a transition period, it will take far longer for the brexiters to sign the trade deals than they think. But certainly yes, when the dust settles, UK farmers, like the fishermen, or the factory workers, are going to find they’ve been conned and betrayed. Much as they were warned would happen many years ago. They were just too caught up in the nationalistic xenophobic rhetoric of the brexiters to bother to listen.

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As President Marcon rightly pointed out the brexiters sold the country brexit on a torrent of lies. Not the chickens are coming home to roost and those lies are being exposed. But, as the brexiters value their careers more than their country, they’d rather drive the nation off the cliff than admit to these lies.

Sweden and the incineration dilemma

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An interesting video here from Journeyman pictures about Sweden and its policy of incineration. The Swedish banned landfills on environmental grounds back in 2005 and took to adopting stricter recycling policies, with the idea being that anything that couldn’t be recycled would instead be incinerated. Those incinerators not only generating electricity but also providing winter heating for towns and cities.

However, like everywhere else, Sweden has problems with its plastic waste. And while some portion is being recycled, quite a lot is finding its way into incinerators. The Swede’s claim that this counts as “recycling”. However, burning plastics is basically burning low grade fossil fuels. And as your supply of fuel is tied to the availability of fossil fuels, as well as all of the downstream carbon emissions associated with fossil fuel production, its not a practice that’s sustainable.

On the other hand, before we start…

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TSR2 – the (not so) little plane that couldn’t

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Get any British aviation enthusiast drunk and they’ll inevitably bring up the TSR-2. This you will be told was a “world beating” British plane design of the 60’s that would have put British aviation on the map, if it hadn’t been shot down by its own government.

However in truth, had the TSR-2 programme not been cancelled in 1965, it would have probably crippled the UK aviation industry, becoming the hill on which it would have died on. As one aviation blogger contemplates, the likely outcome, if the programme had continued, would have been an RAF in the 2000’s entirely equipped with US made aircraft, with no indigenous aircraft manufacturing industry left in the UK.

The TSR-2 is merely an example of everything that was wrong with the UK, both in terms of its industry and politics, in the pre-EU days. Given that we’re on the verge of returning to those days it might be worth reviewing the project’s history, as it represents one of the founding myths of those prompting British Empire 2.0.

Certainly it is true that the proposed TSR-2 design was pretty innovative when it was first proposed…..in the 1950’s! However, over a decade later, with the first flights underway, it was a design that was already showing its age. Case in point, right behind the cockpit was an avionics bay which included a fridge freezer sized compartment for all of the planes electronics. Necessary, given how bulky electronic components were in the 1950’s.

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But of course by the 1960’s it was a different story, as they’re been major advances in the miniaturisation of electronic components. And the aircraft’s overall performance was by now barely equal to that of a number of competitor aircraft that were either already in service or on the verge of entering service in the 1960’s, such as the F-111, Mirage IV or the Su-24.

And contrary to the myths, no the TSR-2 was nowhere near entering service in 1965. Only two prototypes had actually been completed and only one of them had actually flown by the time of cancellation. And those early flights had revealed a number of technical problems, ranging from dangerous vibrations, engine problems, landing gear issues (multiple issues actually), etc.

1969 is probably a more realistic date for entry into service, although it won’t be entirely delivering as promised by that date. One of the key elements of the TSR-2 was going to be its advanced terrain following radar system. But they never really got this to work properly. Indeed, they eventually used a Texas Instruments supplied set in the first generation of Tornado’s (its likely the TSR-2 would have had to do the same in the end). Meaning it won’t be until the mid-1970’s before it was in a position to deliver on its original design spec. At which point all TSR-2’s would have been completely obsolete and probably not really fit for purpose.

By contrast over the same period the Americans developed the aforementioned F-111, a similar but arguably more innovative aircraft (given its variable geometry wings and Crew escape capsule). It went from a sketch on the back of an envelope in 1961 to first flight in 1964 and an entry into service in 1967. This means the Americans (despite all the issues with US military procurement I highlighted in a prior post) were able to develop the F-111 about three times faster than the British could manage with the TSR-2.

The message was clear, there was no way the UK aviation industry could compete with the American aviation industry (or the Soviets for that matter). And this is merely one of dozens of examples one could point too. The failure of the Bristol Britannia against the Boeing 707, or the Blue streak missile program being others. All pointed to the fact that the one small island couldn’t take on the world. If Britain was to have any future making planes, it had to pool its resources with its European partners and work with them.

And in the wake of the TSR-2 cancellation that’s what happened. Firstly with the Jaguar, then with the Tornado, which is still in service to this day. Both not only ended up in the service of European air forces, but were sold to a number of foreign buyers (one of the reasons for cancelling TSR-2 was a lack of foreign orders). And more recently has come the Eurofighter. And on the civilian front co-operation with Europe led to Concorde and later on Airbus. One could argue that the cancellation of TSR-2 give the UK aviation industry the nudge it needed to modernise and thus in effect saved it from itself.

But was there a certain level of skulduggery by the 1965 labour government in the process of cancelling the TSR-2? Probably yes, that’s kind of how politics works! It is an unfortunate fact of history that British governments have a tendency to flog dead horses and pursue projects (defence projects in particular), well beyond the point where other governments would see sense and cancel them. And they also have a habit of then mishandling the cancellation badly. Often because one side or the other in parliament is trying to save face….or jam the knife in the back of the opposition, with the long term interests of the country coming pretty low on the list of priorities. The cancellation of the RAF Nimrod aircraft, which I previously covered, being a good example of this.

So TSR-2 is not an example of “world-beating” British innovation, but a cautionary tale of what happens when a small country gets in way over its head. The truth is the TSR-2 should have been cancelled much earlier and its cancellation probably saved thousands of aviation jobs in the UK, because it led to greater co-operation with Europe.

The inevitability of a 2nd referendum

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I discussed before the difficulties that would arise in implementing a 2nd EU referendum. It is now fairly unlikely that will happen prior to the UK leaving. However, my warning to leaver’s is that a 2nd referendum, likely on the UK’s re-entry into the EU is all but an inevitability over a long enough time period. And likely a 3rd or a 4th until the question is settled for good. So if there are hoping that remainers will just shut up and go away, then think again.

Its important to remember how we got here. The UK had its recent referendum because of a small party on the fringes of UK politics of angry Daily Mail readers. In addition the leadership of both the Tories and labour were under pressure from a small but vocal minority of pro-brexit MP’s and party activists. This eventually forced Cameron into a referendum as a way of getting them all to shut up, so he could get on with being PM.

Well we now have a not-so small (as in millions!) and vocal group of remainers, many of whom are (or will shortly) be able to show real and significant loss and how brexit has had a direct impact on their lives. We have not one but several pro-remain parties (the lib dems, SNP, Greens, etc.) and we have a large number of pro-remain rebels within both the Tory and labour party who are prepared to vote against the party line to stop brexit, or who would back a 2nd vote.

Inevitably, what’s going to happen is this lot are going to keep banging on about Europe, disrupting the political process. At some point a future PM (or possibly even May when it comes to the crunch vote on the brexit deal) will need their support to get things done (e.g. a future election with a hung parliament, with the lib dems as king makers, whose price becomes a 2nd vote) and like Cameron he or she is forced to cave in and call a 2nd vote. So there’s going to be a 2nd referendum sooner or later. Ask anyone who lives in an EEA but non-EU country and they’ll tell you that every decade or two the question comes up, there’s some sort of vote in parliament or an actual referendum.

This presents a problem for the brexiters. Their strategy was to beg, lie, cheat, bully and steal their way to victory, then never have another referendum on anything ever again (and likely afterwards deny there ever was one, or blame the EU for forcing them out). However, those lies will likely come back to haunt them if there is ever a 2nd vote. And a vote after leaving will be worse, as we’ll then be able to see they led us not to a land of milk and honey, but one of deficits, job losses and empty supermarket shelves.

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While you’ll find few brexiters who will admit it, the reality is that one of reasons why they want a hard brexit is that the harder the brexit the harder it is to unpick later and reverse. However that line of reasoning doesn’t account for the way politics works. The harder the brexit the more people will be affected by it, the greater will be the support for a 2nd referendum. They aren’t going to care how difficult or expensive it is, if that were the case nobody in their right mind would have voted leave in the first place. The seeds of brexit’s reversal could well be sown in how it is implemented.

Which brings us to the question of the labour party. Because let’s be honest the main obstacle to a 2nd referendum isn’t May, nor Boris nor the monocled mutineer (Rees Mogg), its Corbyn. Labour party activists are trying to get the party to back a 2nd referendum (which given the divisions in the Tory party would pretty much guarantee one) and can’t understand why Corbyn is objecting to it. I mean didn’t he vote remain? Hasn’t he seen the latest polling data, which shows most labour constituencies have flipped and would now vote remain (eliminating his argument for supporting brexit). Well all I can say is dream on! Corbyn voted leave, same why he voted in the last EU referendum in the 60’s and he’s not changed his mind about anything since the 60’s, so fat chance you’ll get him to back a 2nd vote. Hell, remain might win this time and we can’t have that!

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The latest polling data shows a major shift towards remain, most notably in labour voting districts

The recent anti-Semitism row confirmed all of my worse fears about labour under Corbyn. He could have ended the controversy over a year ago, but instead ignored all advice to the contrary and had to be dragged kicking and screaming to make the decision. Same way he had to be dragged to the podium to support staying in the customs union. And in the interim any who disputed the great leader’s views on either matter, or spoke out, even if they did so off the record, were punished, harassed by Corbyn’s red shirts or sacked from their jobs and threatened with deselection.

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Now in any normal political party, this autocratic behaviour would make a U-turn like this a resigning matter for Corbyn (he sacked and punished party members for backing a position he now agrees with). But think again. And of course the 4 pro-UKIP MP’s have been free to prop up May and keep their boss from number 10 without fear of any backlash, forcing local party activists to take action.

The labour party isn’t a political party any more its the cult of the one true Corbyn. And so long as so many left wingers back Corbyn and labour, the longer it will take before we get a 2nd referendum. Assuming of course, that the UK doesn’t break up in the meantime. So remainers need to understand that your views are now unwelcome and incompatible with a labour party under Corbyn. Labour under Corbyn is about as welcoming of dissenting opinions as the Trump white house, or the presidential palace in Pyongyang. Until Corbyn is removed, all you are doing by supporting labour is  helping him to enable the Tories to push through the hardest of hard brexits.

And leavers need to understand that enforcing a hard brexit that nobody voted for will have grave political consequences. As I’ve said before I cannot see the Tory party surviving in scenario where the drive through a damaging brexit (nor a labour party under Corbyn since we are talking about it), then lose a 2nd referendum and are forced to reverse it. The brexiters will have merely wasted a lot of time, billions of pounds, put millions through hell, only to end up worse off than we were when they started.