You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘UK’ tag.
On Wednesday, March 29, 2017, Theresa May triggered Article 50 to begin the process of the United Kingdom exiting the European Union.
May signed the letter on March 28 and a British official presented it to Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, in Brussels the following day around 12:30 p.m. BST.
This tweet by Financial Times columnist Janan Ganesh is dated March 28, 4:15 p.m.:
Tusk takes receipt of the letter on March 29:
Nigel Farage, former party leader of UKIP who pressed hard for the 2016 referendum, gave an interview earlier that day:
He also discussed it on his talk radio programme in London:
Contents of May’s letter
Bloomberg is one of the few news sites to have the full text of Theresa May’s six-page letter to Donald Tusk.
The first four paragraphs follow (emphases mine):
Dear President Tusk
On 23 June last year, the people of the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union. As I have said before, that decision was no rejection of the values we share as fellow Europeans. Nor was it an attempt to do harm to the European Union or any of the remaining member states. On the contrary, the United Kingdom wants the European Union to succeed and prosper. Instead, the referendum was a vote to restore, as we see it, our national self-determination. We are leaving the European Union, but we are not leaving Europe – and we want to remain committed partners and allies to our friends across the continent.
Earlier this month, the United Kingdom Parliament confirmed the result of the referendum by voting with clear and convincing majorities in both of its Houses for the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill. The Bill was passed by Parliament on 13 March and it received Royal Assent from Her Majesty The Queen and became an Act of Parliament on 16 March.
Today, therefore, I am writing to give effect to the democratic decision of the people of the United Kingdom. I hereby notify the European Council in accordance with Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union of the United Kingdom’s intention to withdraw from the European Union. In addition, in accordance with the same Article 50(2) as applied by Article 106a of the Treaty Establishing the European Atomic Energy Community, I hereby notify the European Council of the United Kingdom’s intention to withdraw from the European Atomic Energy Community. References in this letter to the European Union should therefore be taken to include a reference to the European Atomic Energy Community.
This letter sets out the approach of Her Majesty’s Government to the discussions we will have about the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union and about the deep and special partnership we hope to enjoy – as your closest friend and neighbour – with the European Union once we leave. We believe that these objectives are in the interests not only of the United Kingdom but of the European Union and the wider world too.
The European edition of Politico has the full text of Article 50, which is brief and comprised of five provisions. Wikipedia explains it further.
These are the salient items:
3. The Treaties shall cease to apply to the State in question from the date of entry into force of the withdrawal agreement or, failing that, two years after the notification referred to in paragraph 2, unless the European Council, in agreement with the Member State concerned, unanimously decides to extend this period.
4. For the purposes of paragraphs 2 and 3, the member of the European Council or of the Council representing the withdrawing Member State shall not participate in the discussions of the European Council or Council or in decisions concerning it.
A qualified majority shall be defined in accordance with Article 238(3)(b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
5. If a State which has withdrawn from the Union asks to rejoin, its request shall be subject to the procedure referred to in Article 49.
This means that the UK is still part of the EU until the exit process is complete.
However, we are no longer allowed to participate in European Council discussions. In fact, it was interesting that the English text ‘European Commission’ has been removed from signage in Brussels. It has been replaced with another European language, with the French words underneath.
From March 29 onwards, news reports will refer to 27 EU nations instead of 28.
The UK is in an EU limbo until our exit. We must still pay monies to the EU and are subject to EU law.
Article 50 means simply that the exit process begins.
The Telegraph has more. Briefly:
A withdrawal agreement, covering financial liabilities, citizens’ rights and the border in Ireland, will need to be accepted by a majority of 72 per cent of the EU’s remaining 27 member states.
The agreement would then need to be approved by the European parliament, voting by a simple majority.
The motion makes clear that the UK will remain bound by the rules of the EU and that trade talks with third party countries are not allowed for as long as it remains a member.
The irony of Article 50
There is a certain irony behind Article 50.
It was written by a Briton between 2002 and 2003 to apply to EU countries that could become dictatorships.
drafted the text that sets out the procedure for leaving the European Union as part of an effort to draw up an EU constitutional treaty in the early 2000s.
That initiative was scuppered by referendum defeats in France and the Netherlands but some elements ended up in the EU’s Lisbon Treaty, which came into force in 2009.
One of the sections pasted across became Article 50 …
“I don’t feel guilty about inventing the mechanism. I feel very sad about the U.K. using it,” Kerr told POLITICO. “I didn’t think that the United Kingdom would use it.”
When he was writing the text 14 or 15 years ago:
the rise of Austrian far-right leader Jörg Haider was a big worry for mainstream EU leaders and some southern European EU members had returned to democracy only in recent decades. Kerr imagined that the exit procedure might be triggered after an authoritarian leader took power in a member country and the EU responded by suspending that country’s right to vote on EU decisions.
“It seemed to me very likely that a dictatorial regime would then, in high dudgeon, want to storm out. And to have a procedure for storming out seemed to be quite a sensible thing to do — to avoid the legal chaos of going with no agreement,” Kerr said.
He calls attention to the fifth provision of Article 50, the possibility of reversing a decision to leave the EU:
In other words, during the two-year negotiating period set out in the text, Britain could decide not to leave after all and simply remain an EU member. However, he says he cannot imagine how politics in Britain would allow such a U-turn.
Kerr summed up the exit process simply:
The process outlined in the text is, he noted, “about divorce … about paying the bills, settling one’s commitments, dealing with acquired rights, thinking about the pensions. It’s not an article about the future relationship.”
What is the timetable?
The BBC has a full timetable from now through March 2019. Of course, it is not written in stone, but it is the Brexit objective.
On Thursday, March 30, Brexit Secretary David Davis presented the Great Repeal Bill to Parliament, which will come into force as soon as the UK leaves the EU, i.e. in 2019 (all being well).
On Friday, March 31, Donald Tusk will publish negotiation guidelines that the EU will use.
In April, the 27 remaining EU members will adopt negotiation guidelines at the EU summit.
When Parliament opens again in the Spring, the Great Repeal Bill will be announced in the opening statement.
Michel Barnier, representing the EU, will begin participating in negotiation talks with the UK by late May or early June.
Late this year, Parliament will review the Great Repeal Bill in greater detail. If laws must be passed in certain areas to close any gaps, this will be done by mid-2018.
By the end of 2017, it is expected that Michel Barnier will have concluded the first round of negotiations. He expects to complete the negotiating process by September 2018.
At the beginning of 2019, both the UK and the EU will hold separate votes in Parliament and the EU Council, respectively, on the exit plan.
It is expected that the UK will leave the EU sometime in March 2019.
Impact of negotiations
The next 18 months will require careful negotiation to ensure that the UK is not adversely affected.
Attention to preserving human rights — including those for EU residents living and working in Britain as well as British expatriates living in Europe — will be essential.
Also essential will be negotiations concerning EU-sensitive industries such as farming and fishing.
Trade on food will also be negotiated. Currently, UK supermarkets sell a lot of EU fruit, vegetables and dairy products. We also export comestibles to the EU.
Banking and educational institutions are also weighing up their options. On March 30, Lloyd’s of London confirmed they will be opening a branch in Brussels. Oxford and/or Cambridge might open satellite universities in EU countries.
I’ll have more on Brexit soon and what we might expect to see over the coming months.
In Britain, Mothering Sunday — Mother’s Day — is always Laetare Sunday.
This year, mums are shortchanged, as our clocks change to British Summer Time on Sunday, March 26, 2017.
Laetare Sunday is the joyful Sunday of Lent. Some traditional Anglican and Catholic clergy wear a pink chasuble. The faithful look towards the promise of the Resurrection on this day.
The traditional Epistle read on this day was from Galatians 4 and included this verse (Gal. 4:26):
But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.
Hence the ancient tradition called Mothering Sunday, when people made the journey to their ‘mother’ church — often a cathedral but sometimes a large parish church — for worship. Afterward, some congregations ‘clipped’ the church, which involved worshippers gathering outside, forming a ring around the church and holding hands to embrace it.
The notion of the church as spiritual mother began to extend to earthly mothers, which is how Mothering Sunday developed.
Find out more in my post from 2012:
I wish all my British readers who are mothers a very happy day.
On Monday, March 20, 2017, Britain’s singing legend Dame Vera Lynn, celebrated her 100th birthday.
Dame Vera is as iconic as the Queen.
Incredibly, on March 17, Decca Records released her latest album, Vera Lynn 100: We’ll Meet Again. She is thought to be the first centenarian to have a new album on sale.
The London Evening Standard reports (emphases mine below):
The record comes eight years after Dame Vera became the oldest living artist to land a UK number one album and also marks the wartime singer’s 93 years in the industry as she made her stage debut at the age of seven.
New re-orchestrated versions of her most beloved music alongside her original vocals will feature on the music release …
The album also features a previously unreleased version of Sailing – a surprise find as it was not widely known she had recorded the track.
A photo of her with a Happy Birthday message was projected onto the white cliffs of Dover, also the name of one of her greatest wartime hits. Others, too numerous to mention, included We’ll Meet Again and A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square:
Dame Vera still lives at home in Ditchling, East Sussex.
Yesterday, the BBC reported that she participated in a Skype call from home with students from her old school, Brampton Primary School in East Ham, east London. The students serenaded her with a selection of her most famous songs.
The Dame Vera Lynn Children’s Charity held a daytime party on top of the white cliffs of Dover. It was very windy that day, but:
veterans, re-enactors and the Singing Sweethearts serenaded Dame Vera and sang happy birthday.
A military-style salute and flag-waving carried on regardless, all in support of her children’s charity but also celebrating the 100th birthday of our own Forces’ Sweetheart.
The Evening Standard reported:
Dame Vera said: “It is an unprecedented honour to have my birthday marked in such a beautiful way and I am truly thrilled by this wonderful gesture.
“As we look to the white cliffs on Monday, I will be thinking of all our brave boys – the cliffs were the last thing they saw before heading off to war and, for those fortunate enough to return, the first thing they saw upon returning home.
“I feel so blessed to have reached this milestone and I can’t think of a more meaningful way to mark the occasion.”
BBC Radio 2 asked her for her advice on ageing:
… she said: “Be active to your full capabilities.
“Keep interested, read books, watch television and try to keep in touch with life and what people are doing, seeing and enjoying.”
Speaking to BBC Radio 2, she added: “While you can do that, I hope you will continue.”
Finally! Someone who defends television! Thank you, Dame Vera!
Dame Vera gave an exclusive newspaper interview to The Sun:
“I try not to worry too much about anything any more, and enjoy every day as it comes,” she says.
“There is always something we can be concerned about. The secret is to rise above it and do whatever we can to make the world a better place.”
As for the young Second World War troops who loved her and her music:
she is still full of praise for the true Brits who gave up everything to bring peace to future generations.
She adds: “The war was a dark and difficult time but it was quite easy to keep faith when I saw for myself the sacrifices being made by the boys on the front line and everyone on the Home Front.
“The community spirit and collective sense of patriotism saw us all through.”
“The white cliffs were the last thing they saw before they left for war and, for those fortunate enough to return, the first thing they saw to tell them they were home.”
The Sun reminds us of why Dame Vera was The Forces’ Sweetheart:
To borrow from the familiar lyrics, millions of men and women didn’t have the chance to meet their loved ones again some sunny day.
But at least Vera gave them hope and comfort in the darkness and it explains why she ranks her people’s title of Forces Sweetheart as highly as any official accolade.
“I consider it to be one of my greatest achievements,” she affirms. “I feel very honoured that people regard me in this way.
“I am exceptionally fond of all the brave servicemen and women who have worked, and continue to work, to keep us safe and secure, and protect our values.”
The BBC has a great retrospective, complete with family photos, of Dame Vera’s life and career. Highlights follow:
Vera Welch was born on 20 March 1917 in East Ham in London. Neither of her parents were involved in showbusiness – her father Bertram was a plumber and mother Annie a dressmaker. But by the age of seven, the talented young Vera was singing in working men’s clubs – an audience she described as “great” – and soon became the family’s main breadwinner.
This is my favourite:
When she turned 11, Vera took her grandmother’s maiden name of Lynn as a stage name. She had no formal singing lessons as a child – and just one as an adult. She said: “I thought I could extend my range but when the teacher heard me sing she said ‘I cannot train that voice, it’s not a natural voice’. So I said: ‘Well thank you very much madam’, and left.”
I do wonder what that teacher thought later! You know what they say: ‘Those who can’t do …’
Dame Vera started singing professionally at the age of 15 and released her first single at the age of 19:
By the age of 22 she had sold more than a million records, bought her parents a house and herself a car.
During the Second World War, she went on tour:
it was during World War Two that her reputation was made. She frequently sang to the troops at morale-boosting concerts, becoming known to posterity as The Forces’ Sweetheart.
She married Harry Lewis in 1941. They had a daughter, Virginia. Harry died in 1998. Mother and daughter are still very close.
Dame Vera appeared on radio shows. Below, she is the lady in the fur coat:
Dame Vera’s career and fame continued after the war ended:
She was appointed OBE in 1969, made a Dame in 1975, and a Companion of Honour in 2016. Her wartime fame meant she was never far from the television screens …
She enjoyed meeting new talent:
She made the acquaintance of glam rock band Slade in 1973, when they gathered round a piano at the Melody Maker Awards.
Her records continue to sell very well and she:
holds the record for being the oldest living artist to achieve a top 20 UK album.
Over the years, Dame Vera has participated in many Second World War commemorative events.
In closing, this is what the Queen wrote Dame Vera on her 100th birthday:
You cheered and uplifted us all in the War and after the War, and I am sure that this evening the blue birds of Dover will be flying over to wish you a happy anniversary, Elizabeth R.
Many happy returns, Dame Vera Lynn!
Thankfully, after decades of polite conservative posturing, times are changing.
The old roll-over-and-die conservative commentary is giving way to the Millennial Independent rhetoric.
The word ‘Independent’ there is important. Most Millennials with significant online presence are dissatisfied with both Republican and Democratic parties in the US. Here in the UK, they eschew the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrats.
I shy away from using the name alt-right to describe this group of bloggers and video makers, because I’m not happy with the negative characteristics the media apply to these people who are fed up with the Left.
The Southern Poverty Law Center says that a white nationalist, Richard Spencer, coined the term in 2008, however, it was Professor Paul Gottfried, Professor Emeritus of Humanities at Elizabethtown College, who actually invented the label ‘alternative right’.
In August 2016, he wrote a piece for Front Page Magazine on the subject. Excerpts follow, emphases mine:
Last week I was reminded by a call from Associated Press that I had invented the term “Alternative Right.” When I asked about how I had accomplished that, the woman on the other end of the phone referred to a speech I had given in November 2008 in which I urged the creation of an “Alternative Right.” The same caller said that I was considered the “godfather” of what had become Altright, something that the Democratic presidential candidate would be denouncing later in the week. Thereupon I tried to explain in what modest ways I may have inspired the movement that Hillary was about to go after (namely, in a quadrennial ritual in presidential races in which the Democratic candidate accuses her GOP rival of being the second coming of Adolf Hitler).
I pointed out that Altright authors, some of whom I knew, shared my revulsion for the neoconservatives and deplored their influence on the American Right. I also noted that Altright publicists believed that modern liberal democracies had become dangerously fixated on promoting equality; and I’ve made this observation repeatedly in my books …
The professor, rightly, states that he does not consider himself part of the alt-right. However, he says that he shares some of their views. In any event:
They are a breath of fresh air for anyone like me who occasionally forces himself to look at the centrist bilge, ostentatious beating up on Confederate symbols and the shilling for multinational corporations that I encounter on the respectable (non-right) Right. I need hardly add that next to the Never Trump crew laboring directly or indirectly to elect “crooked Hillary” as our next president, my Altright acquaintances are exemplary defenders of the American republic.
Alt-right commentators are not racist or sexist. The_Donald is the best alt-right forum and has many commenters who are Latino/Hispanic and some who are black. Gays and women participate. Everyone gets on well there and, of particular interest, are their members from other countries around the world.
Therefore, when the Southern Poverty Law Center — hardly credible because of their consistent left-wing stances — tags the alt-right with being like Richard Spencer, it’s merely an Alinsky tactic to discredit these Millennials who reject their socio-political outlook. Hardly surprising, then.
On a more optimistic note: the beginnings of an effective post-neoconservative Right may be taking shape in the form of the Trump movement. At least some of the neoconservative camp has split off from the center to join with the Old Right, younger West Coast Straussians, paleolibertarians and the Altright to support Trump’s candidacy. This is the most promising attempt to create a post-neoconservative Right that I have seen since being exiled from the conservative movement eons ago. I’ve no idea whether the center will hold in what is still a loose, ad hoc alliance. But I welcome its emergence in the last few months. Often in politics, it’s the enemy that unites, and in this case those whom circumstances have brought together, have chosen their adversaries well. They are facing with very limited resources, the ultimate traitors to the Right and to an America that should be spared Hillary’s picks for federal judgeships and her refusal to fight specifically Muslim terrorists.
Therefore, from that paragraph, we understand that President Donald Trump’s candidacy coalesced this group of Millennials who bring a different perspective. In Britain, Millennials who supported Brexit comprise this group.
There is another characteristic of this independent group of commentators: their willingness to speak out and use the Left’s own tactics on them, as a Return of Kings post advises:
… the long and short of it is this: embracing and amplifying leftist absurdities are an excellent tactic to counter progressives and SJWs, and three of the ways to embrace and amplify are through increasing the frequency of the embraced absurdity, shifting it slightly to something the leftist finds unacceptable, and/or reversing it on the leftist.
Now, will this tactic work on the leftists themselves? Likely not, for their worldview can only survive on incoherence and absurdity, and so they are used to it—although, in fairness, you may convince the odd leftist to change his mind. However, convincing leftists and progressives is not the point. Rather, the point is to rhetorically neuter the leftists while at the same time helping to sway the fence-sitters to be against the leftists, not for them.
And for the purposes of achieving that particular objective, embracing then amplifying leftist absurdities is a good tactic to use.
Vox Day, a Christian blogger and author writes about the effect of Gamergate (2014-2015), which showed the young Left at their worst in revealing their opponents’ identities, harassing them and sending them death threats:
One of the fascinating things about the last few years is the transition of many apolitical Game writers and sites to politically conscious Alt-Right and Alt-Lite perspectives. This is significant, because all of the writers involved are entirely accustomed to being mobbed and assailed by the mainstream media, so they’re not inclined to cuck and run like most conservatives are when faced with criticism.
That is the principal characteristic of this group, never seen before in such numbers until 2016. They understand how the game is played and they engage time and time again.
These people are not white supremacists or white nationalists. On the contrary, they welcome everyone to participate in dialogue promoting and defending traditional values of informed patriotism, family life and personal integrity.
They will not cave and, as this revolution of words unfolds, they will remain in the front line.
On Monday, February 6, 2017, Queen Elizabeth II achieved what no other British monarch has: a Sapphire Jubilee.
The Queen acceded the throne 65 years ago, following the death of her father, King George VI.
Her Majesty celebrated the day privately at Sandringham Estate in Norfolk. She attended Sunday service at St Peter and St Paul in West Newton, Norfolk, where she greeted well wishers and accepted bouquets of flowers afterwards.
Military salutes were given in London on Monday. The Telegraph has photos and reported:
Royal gun salutes were staged in London on Accession Day, as is the tradition, with a 41-gun salute by the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery in Green Park at noon.
The Band of the Royal Artillery played a selection of celebratory music close to the firing position as 89 horses pulled six First World War-era 13-pounder field guns into position in the park.
A 62-gun salute by the Honourable Artillery Company was fired at the Tower of London at 1pm.
The photo above was taken in 2014. Buckingham Palace re-released it for the Sapphire Jubilee.
Sky News explains:
The picture was taken by the photographer David Bailey in 2014 for the GREAT campaign, a publicity campaign to promote Britain around the world.
In the photograph The Queen is wearing a suite of sapphire jewellery given to her by King George VI as a wedding present in 1947.
It was on the 6 February, 1952 that her father died while at Sandringham. Princess Elizabeth, who was 25, was in Kenya on a royal tour with her husband Prince Philip at the time.
Although no national celebrations are planned this year, the Royal Mint is issuing a set of commemorative coins. Royal Mail has released a £5 commemorative stamp in sapphire blue.
Two years ago, when the Queen became Britain’s longest-ever reigning monarch, she said that achieving that landmark was:
“not one to which I have ever aspired”.
She added: “Inevitably, a long life can pass by many milestones. My own is no exception.”
Those of us who treasure her give thanks and wish her well for many more years as our monarch.
As Her Majesty is approaching her 91st birthday this year, the Duke of Cambridge — Prince William — is taking on more official royal appearances on her behalf.
With regard to length of reign, Queen Victoria comes second in the list with 63 years. Then we go further back in history to George III, who ruled for 59 years, 96 days (1760-1820). James VI of Scotland served for 57 years, 246 days (1567-1625).
In fifth place — incredibly, given it that this was during the Middle Ages — is Henry III of England and Lord of Ireland, who reigned for 56 years and 29 days between 1216 and 1272.
Sorry to be late to the party with this item, but it was in our two-week Christmas issue of the Radio Times, Britain’s foremost television (and radio) guide.
In the 17-30 December 2016 issue, the back page interview was with Prime Minister Theresa May, also the MP for Maidenhead. She answered a variety of questions from reporter Michael Hodges. Excerpts and a summary follow.
On Christmas Day, she and her husband Philip go to church. Afterwards, they meet up with friends for a drink, then it’s off to an ecumenical lunch for the elderly, where May takes time to talk with her constituents.
The Mays return home where the Prime Minister roasts a goose for Christmas dinner. They haven’t had turkey for several years. Although others consider goose to be extremely fatty, May points out:
if you keep the fat, it makes wonderful roast potatoes for quite a long time thereafter.
Absolutely. We also have goose at Christmas, partly for that reason, and for the unctuous stock from the wings.
May, a practising Anglican, lent the Radio Times a photo of herself as a girl with her late father, the Revd Hubert Brasier. She told Michael Hodges what Christmas past was like:
Throughout my life I have been going to Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve and church on Christmas Day morning. As a child I had to wait until my father had finished his services before I could open my presents.
It felt like a very long wait. Others I knew would be able to open their presents first thing in the morning.
I’m an only child and my mother played the organ. So I would sit alongside her while my father was taking the service.
The interview did not mention that May’s parents died within a year of each other. Her father died just as she completed her studies at Oxford and her mother several months later. It can’t have been easy for her, especially with no siblings for support:
When you first lose your parents, Christmas is hugely, hugely important. Now I enjoy Christmas with my husband Philip and we keep up the tradition of going to church. But, of course, it does remind me of my parents.
During her childhood, she watched only the BBC, until:
one day, my mother managed to jiggle the aerial and we got ITV and I saw Robin Hood. That music and Richard Greene as Robin Hood really grabbed me.
This is the iconic theme to which May refers:
May’s other television favourites included early series of The Avengers with Diana Rigg, then Joanna Lumley, although:
I have never had a female role model — I’ve always just got on with doing what I am doing.
As an adult, she watched the ‘very evocative’ Das Boot. These days, she enjoys Scandinavian dramas Borgen and The Bridge. Christmas Day favourites include Doctor Who and David Suchet as Poirot.
She doesn’t take recommendations for television viewing:
My advisers don’t tell me what to watch on the television — I watch what I want to watch.
May ended the interview by saying she had no idea a year ago that she would be Prime Minister today.
What follows is her four-minute New Year’s message. If her father was as eloquent a speaker as his daughter is, he must have been a splendid vicar. May speaks of the change that Brexit will bring this year but also of the unity of the four nations of the United Kingdom and the shared values and experiences that make us one people:
This is very similar to the first speech she gave as Prime Minister outside No. 10.
She and Donald Trump will get on well. Of that, I have no doubt.
Happy New Year to all my readers!
2016 proved to be the year of the impossible made possible.
The Brexit vote, the Cubs winning the World Series after 108 years and Donald Trump’s election are only three such examples. We lived through ground-breaking history this year.
Many people — especially agnostics — commented online that the Hand of God was all over various events that took place. Some of those people returned to the Church. Others, previously unchurched, converted. (The best anecdotal evidence can be found in comments at The_Donald.)
2017 looks even more exciting with regard to change and a break with the past. Light will shine on darkness. Those guilty of lying, malfeasance and indecency will be exposed and shamed. Many God-fearing people will be stunned by what they see in the news. The evil of the past revealed — and the power of the good to come — will cause scoffers to repent.
Therefore, I look forward to the New Year for the first time in decades.
I pray that divine grace and the wisdom of the Holy Spirit imbue and guide each of us in the year ahead. May God bless us all.
David Cameron has once more thrown his toys out of the pram!
Summer recess is now over, Parliament is back in session and the former PR man — the self-styled ‘heir to Blair’ — cannot bear being on the back benches.
He announced yesterday — September 12 — that he will be standing down as MP for his beloved Witney constituency in Oxfordshire.
At least he gave us the referendum.
However, he’s still angry about the result: Brexit, baby, Brexit.
A commenter on the aforementioned link from The Spectator clearly explains Witney, Cameron and British society. This is so true (emphases mine):
That constituency is a definite Remain area. The people in the UK who voted Leave weren’t the upper-middle class, which is what Cameron is. That stratum of society are the ones who buy craft beer and shop at Waitrose. The ones who voted Leave were the aristocracy and the working class. Britain exists in them; the upper-middle and middle are too concerned with their status, being “cool” and their bank balances. As long as there is still an aristocracy and a working class, Britain will prevail. That is why Labour detests the aristocracy, and the working class, and seeks to annihilate them both through mass-immigration. Everybody (and I don’t mean individuals, I mean the groupings) outside those two classes is self-seeking and individualistic, with no real concern for Britain.
Readers who live in or near Witney are particularly welcome to comment.
Let’s look at the timeline. Cameron was re-elected as MP only in May 2015. Then he gave us the EU Referendum in June 2016. As soon as the results were made public he announced his resignation as Prime Minister! Now, after summer break, he is unwilling to continue serving as MP to Witney because Brexit is sticking in his craw. Sad!
What a poor loser.
Not only is he standing down as MP, but he is doing it with ‘immediate effect’:
Spectator columnist James Forsyth surmises that Theresa May’s brand of conservatism is too much of a departure for Cameron:
… I think one of the things that makes it difficult for him to stay on is the extent to which Theresa May is moving away from Cameronism. It’s not just like Brexit is the only issue on which it would be difficult for Cameron to express a view – there are now a whole host of issues because Theresa May has tried to open up clear blue water between herself and Cameron’s government on quite a few things …
Thank goodness for that.
However, Cameron’s resignation sets a bad example for the British public. The Spectator‘s editor Fraser Nelson — not someone with whom I agree a lot — rightly points out:
“Brits don’t quit,” he told us a few months ago: now he has quit, twice. After telling us several times that he’d stay, to fulfil a duty to parliament and his constituents.
Indeed. Such a lack of principle will ultimately reflect on him:
Cameron could have been known for so many achievements: record employment, schools revolution, lowering inequality, crime rates plunging, a majority won against the odds – how quickly all of that is forgotten, how quickly Cameron has been reduced to the bad guy whom Theresa May enjoys defining herself against. Blair’s behaviour after leaving No10 trashed the reputation of Blairism – and it seems the self-styled “heir to Blair” had one more tribute act left in him. Now there is pretty much no one to say that Cameron’s premiership wasn’t all bad. No one can be bothered to hang around and defend Cameron’s reputation. Not even Cameron.
Cameron has acted in a pathetic manner. He led the Conservatives for ten years and was Prime Minister for the last five. He could have gone down in history as a compassionate Conservative.
Soon — by his own actions — he will be forgotten. He brought it on himself.
We’ve all heard the expression ‘stubborn as a mule’, but are all mules stubborn?
Before motorised vehicles were invented — and became relatively affordable — American farmers used to rent mules to pull heavy items such as tillers and other equipment.
… rented mules were handled by umpteen different people with varying degrees of experience working them. That resulted in the animal being totally confused by what was expected of it, bad habits mounted on top of more bad and when one farmer’s way set the mule up to misbehave, the next found it non-responsive to expectations, thus the animal was abused for not performing. Add to that, greedy rent mule owners overworked the animal, as well, not concerned with its well being.
The predicament of the rented mule reminds me of electorates in various Western countries. We notice that we’re overly taxed, yet disdained by the elite, who laugh at us and, even worse, pretend we don’t exist. Never mind that they rely on our money for their salaries. That includes the media.
This the elite are angry that Britons voted for Brexit. They are angry that millions and millions of Americans are likely to vote for Donald Trump in November.
One of my readers, Boetie (‘Brother’), asked for my view of the future of UKIP and Nigel Farage in light of Brexit.
The following will make it clear why many people in Britain had little time for UKIP, although they do acknowledge that if it hadn’t been for Nigel Farage, David Cameron would never have given us the EU Referendum nor would we have the Brexit result today. Therefore, Farage has delivered.
UKIP supporters make Farage out to be a national hero. Yes, he is very interesting and well informed. I have seen him speak in person. He graciously answered the questions I had about his party’s direction. And, yes, it was great seeing him on the hustings with a cigarette and a pint.
However, let’s not forget that, in 2009, Farage was called to account about his MEP expenses. The Observer (The Guardian‘s sister Sunday paper) has a good article from May 2009 which provides much detail. Excerpts follow, emphases mine:
The leader of the UK Independence party (Ukip), which wants to lead Britain out of the EU, has taken £2m of taxpayers’ money in expenses and allowances as a member of the European Parliament, on top of his £64,000 a year salary.
Nigel Farage, who is calling on voters to punish “greedy Labour, Conservative and Lib Dem MPs” at the European elections on 4 June, boasted of his personal expenses haul at a meeting with foreign journalists in London last week …
During a debate about Europe at the Foreign Press Association – which was discreetly taped by the hosts – Farage was asked by former Europe minister Denis MacShane what he had received in non-salary expenses and allowances since becoming an MEP in 1999.
“It is a vast sum,” Farage said. “I don’t know what the total amount is but – oh lor – it must be pushing £2 million.” Taken aback, MacShane then joked: “Is it too late to become an MEP?”
Farage insisted that he had not “pocketed” the money but had used the “very large sum of European taxpayers’ money” to help promote Ukip’s message that the UK should get out of the EU.
That is the main reason why I could never go gaga over Farage or UKIP.
Here is another. The Observer helpfully summarises what happened after the 2004 European elections and UKIP’s success. This was two years before Farage became party leader, incidentally:
… one of the dozen, Ashley Mote, was expelled from the party – and later jailed – for benefit fraud. Another, Tom Wise, is now facing prosecution for alleged false accounting and money laundering relating to his EU expenses. He denies the charges. Television presenter Robert Kilroy-Silk, who won the East Midlands for Ukip, later left to form another eurosceptic outfit, Veritas.
Kilroy-Silk, a former Labour MP prior to presenting his erstwhile morning current events show, did the right thing by leaving UKIP. He left Veritas in 2009, and the party was absorbed into the English Democrats in 2015.
Money aside — perhaps it is no coincidence the £ sign appears in the party logo — one then needs to look at what UKIP MEPs and councillors have said. Thejournal.ie has a round-up of some of their statements from 2004 to 2015. Several follow.
Godfrey Bloom (MEP who has since left the party) said in 2004 that a small business owner would have have to be a ‘lunatic’ to employ a woman of child-bearing age.
David Silvester (councillor, expelled from the party) said in January 2014 that the disastrous flooding in England was caused by the Coalition government’s decision to bring in same-sex marriage. He had also written to No. 10:
I wrote to David Cameron in April 2012 to warn him that disasters would accompany the passage of his same-sex marriage bill.
Janice Atkinson (MEP) described a self-employed UKIP-supporting Thai lady with British citizenship as a ‘ting-tong from somewhere’ in August 2014. ‘Ting-tong’ not only sounds bad, but in Thai it is a derogatory term denoting madness. Not surprisingly, the lady and her husband withdrew their UKIP membership.
Bill Etheridge (MEP) praised Hitler for his ‘forceful’ manner of oration. That was at a talk in November 2014 in the north of England.
Rozanne Duncan (councillor) said in a Channel 4 documentary in 2015 that she did not like ‘negroes’. She talked about it for three minutes.
During the general election campaign of 2015, UKIP supporters trolled in comments sections everywhere, most notably those of The Telegraph, The Guardian and The Spectator.
Those sites were deluged with the same cut-and-paste messages — many of them lengthy — from the same people day after day after day. Those people should have been banned, not for what they were saying but for the nauseating spamming of those sites.
While the overwhelming majority of UKIP voters and supporters are responsible, well-meaning people who are rightly concerned about the changes they have seen in their local areas over the past 15 years, there is a kernel of support from a handful of extremist-sympathisers. I have read many comments over the years from this tiny faction of UKIP supporters discussing their attendance at fringe/extremist marches.
Farage attempted to change party image
So far, there is something to be said for David Cameron’s referring to UKIP as ‘loonies, fruitcakes and closet racists’.
He said that in 2006 and again in the run-up to the 2015 election.
Fellow Conservative Michael Howard, Cameron’s predecessor, also labelled UKIP as ‘cranks and gadflies’ during his time as party leader.
Farage, who is married to a German, did his best to cleanse that image but with his MEPs and councillors saying silly and stupid things, the tarnish remained.
However, UKIP have gained strength in parts of the South East and the North in recent years among voters who have legitimate concerns.
Farage stood down as party leader within days of Brexit.
Leave voters thought he would stay on to police the triggering of Article 50 of the Treaty of Rome. However, that was not to be, for whatever reason.
The ironic thing about his abrupt resignation was that, just hours before he made the announcement, UKIP supporters were writing at length anticipating that Farage would not be getting a seat at the Brexit table. In summary (sarcasm alert): ‘Waaaah! The mean, nasty Tories will ignore our Nigel!’
Maybe that’s because Nigel didn’t want to play anymore.
He will, however, continue as an MEP in Brussels. Perhaps his attendance will improve. He shouldn’t forget who’s paying his salary: the taxpayers.
The future — a new party?
Personally, I really do hope UKIP sink like a stone.
The party was weird to begin with and never changed.
Businessman and entrepreneur Arron Banks has given much money and time to UKIP. He also gave £5.6 million to Leave.EU during the referendum campaign.
Banks told The Guardian that UKIP might be pruned back, but he seems to favour a brand new party in a Brexit era. Infinitely preferable, in my humble opinion.
“Ukip grew so rapidly it had problems with personnel and all sorts of issues and I believe that could be better tackled with a new party,” he said …
“I think we have a good shot at taking over from Labour as the opposition because Labour are imploding and Labour voters for the first time ever have defied their party, voting for leave,” Banks said on Wednesday.
But he hinted Farage might not be his choice of leader for any new party, saying: “He may have had enough. And by the way, going out at the top is a good way in politics.”
Indeed. Banks should start afresh. He understands what is needed:
Banks has been credited with professionalising Ukip’s referendum push through the Leave.EU campaign. He deployed senior executives and staff from his insurance companies and hired the Washington DC political campaign strategy firm Goddard Gunster on a multimillion-pound fee to sharpen its message.
“It was taking an American-style media approach,” said Banks. “What they said early on was ‘facts don’t work’ and that’s it. The remain campaign featured fact, fact, fact, fact, fact. It just doesn’t work. You have got to connect with people emotionally. It’s the Trump success.”
I wish Arron Banks the best of luck in putting his project together.
2016 is a year of huge change. The spate of obituaries during the first three months of this year in the US, UK and France signalled the end of an era. More recently, we saw more change with Brexit. We now have a new, no-nonsense Prime Minister. We might well see a Trump victory in November.
Before the year is out, we might also see a new political party in Britain capturing the hearts and minds of many, particularly in England: a new party for a new era.
UPDATE — SEPTEMBER 16: Diane James is the new UKIP leader. The Spectator has details. James won by approximately 4,000 votes over her nearest rival Lisa Duffy. Three others also vied for the post. The Spectator complains that she is very much a representative of southern England and the middle class. Hmm. The same is also true of Nigel Farage. She looks respectable and interviews well, so there should be no problem with credibility. I wish her all the best!
Boetie, I hope this responds adequately to your request. If not, please feel free to let me know.