A Tale of Two Coups

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It seems not unlikely that the Turkish President knew of the “Coup” against him well in advance, and having got his security forces on side, encouraged the plotters by conveniently leaving town (but not going so far he could not return when needed). Trusting that the plotters would not shoot too many of his immensely enthusiastic supporters, he was ideally placed to trust to “the people” to create a counter coup and put him “back” in power. This time with a mandate to emasculate the army, pass a new constitution, end secularism and strictly limit the powers of the “democratically” elected parliament. Neat Job!

Theresa May, on the other hand, is the accidental beneficiary of the coup “masterminded” by Bojo and Gove and then the hatchet job by Gove on Bojo. The fact that the Parliamentary Party would prefer Andrea Leadsom to either of them could not be foreseen by either Bojo or Gove (or anyone else with half a brain). That Leadsom, who would probably have won the “Nasty” vote and thereby have defeated May, walked into a trap from which she did not have the talent to extricate herself, just completes the mess that led to the coronation of May.

The fact that any decent democrat finds themselves having to decry the Turkish “Coup” and support the democratically elected, and totally appalling, Erdogan and yet question the “democracy” within the Tory Party which led to the comparatively acceptable May becoming PM is beyond irony.

Erdogan will use this to foreclose on democracy, whilst May has accepted the democratic will of the nation even through she disagrees with the Brexit vote.

Good init!

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Sodd’s and Murphy’s

Recent events have all too clearly shown the effectiveness of these Laws of nature.

Murphy’s Law clearly states that “If something can go wrong it will!”

Sodd’s Law on the other hand deals with the consequences that happen after something has gone wrong viz: “A slice of buttered bread, when accidentally dropped, will always fall butter side down!”

If something can go wrong, it will, and in the worst of all possible ways!

In short think Brexit Vote lost and BoJo as Foreign Secretary.

But perhaps we have got away lightly, we could have had a Gove-erment!

 

Hard Roads and Hard Cheese

The people have made a radical decision and it deserves radical action.

If we are to show the Leave camp, and especially those infrequent voters who came out and actually believe that their participation has made a decisive change in the way the country will be governed, that we have heard them, then we need to accept:

a) That we will not renege on their desire to close the door firmly on ‘Free Movement of People’ and

b) That we will therefore no longer have access to the ‘Single Market’ as free movement of people is an integral and unmovable part of the single market.

We are therefore left with the obvious solution that we must accept the (quite low) tariff barrier that will be imposed and that we are now in unfettered and direct competition with the EU as well as the rest of the world.

There is little point wasting time trying to negotiate a deal to stay in the Single Market when we quite simply reject one of its fundamentals. If we renege on a major plank of the Leave campaign we will simply prove that all those ‘non-voters’ who voted this time were right all along to believe that the country was governed by an establishment that they could not influence. Its simple really, or should that be really simple. We Lost! Hard Cheese!

There are hard lessons to be learned from this result:

1. If you don’t take part you don’t get counted;

2. If you’re in Scotland you are bound by the choices you made last time around – this horse has bolted! Any second Independence Referendum will fail, and the SNP will lose support.

3. The English are not scared by tales of hellfire and damnation, they are a bloody minded lot and are rightfully proud to be so.

It is unlikely that we will see a ‘One Nation’ Tory win their leadership battle (Yes I know May describes herself as that – Really!). Nor will we see the Labour Party putting forward a radical agenda as they move back to the centre.

It is not illiberal to be radical, bloody minded or proud to be British. It is illiberal to be racist, and a Little Englander. It is up to Liberals to make sure that the architects of this result are not the victors of the various elections which will take place in the next few months and especially in 2020.

We can defeat them by really accepting the result and putting forward our own radical measures.

In the negotiations, there will be attempts to ‘misplace’ some of the protection (workers rights etc.) which has come through our membership of the EU. Our first task is to bring such attempts to public attention and to keep a very beady eye on the legislation that will be introduced to bring into UK law those matters which were previously settled at EU level.

The decision to go it alone, will put in doubt major infrastructure projects; the Third Runway at Heathrow; the HS2 line; Nuclear Power. In the now, somewhat colder world, we have to show that we are moving forward confidently as a nation and that the Third Runway and Nuclear Power (we need two power stations not one) are driven forward rapidly. We also need to add to these projects major support for Renewable Power and the British based manufacturers of such, and a commitment to House Building, including Social Housing by local councils and others.

This to be paid for from the absolute decision not to contribute a penny piece to the EU budget (our competitors) or as the price of admission to a watered down Single Market. If savings are to be made, they need to be invested in infrastructure.

Now is not the time to pander to those who, rightly, say that the NHS and Social Welfare are under funded. These need to be paid for from earnings not savings, that is future taxes. There will be no room for the collection of greater taxes in the foreseeable future. Indeed we must expect the tax take to fall as the economy and international confidence falter. We must also expect inflation to rise as we pay more for goods due to the falling pound and EU tariffs – There will be no room for an increased tax take until we use the falling pound, and an increase in productivity, to increase our sales abroad. It is likely that pressure for higher wages will increase with a rise in inflation and this must be completely resisted. The people have chosen a Hard Road, they must take the consequences of their choice.

Whilst the NHS must be maintained, the welfare budget needs to be constrained and reduced.

There are areas where money could be cut. The payments (subsidies) for second and later children need to be radically reduced and preferably done away with. There is no need to subsidise the production of children. Those who want them will have them regardless and find a way of affording them, those who don’t needn’t.

The whole Motability Scheme needs to be tightened up, it is not a way to subsidise new car sales. It should be genuinely means tested, and real efforts made to regularly recheck the status of applicants.

The DWP could easily turn the JobCentres into a major employment agency, so that the unemployed are helped into temporary or part-time work and back onto benefits, without losing out on benefits (which is a very real danger for those who chose this route to try to regain their status as employed). If we are to seriously try to live without East European Leek Pullers, and Strawberry Pickers, then we need to mandate that those on benefits take up these jobs, at proper levels of payment, and then move back onto benefits (if needed) with the minimum of paperwork and no consequential loss of payments. The alternative is immigration or simply ploughing the produce into the soil and buying from abroad.

Being a Liberal at this time means advocating the policies that will show the British voters that we have listened to their democratic wishes, and which will make us competitive against the EU, China, Brazil and the advanced nations, and also independent of the major providers of carbon based fuels.

As an aside, if May wins the Tory Party leadership challenge, then she will also win the 2020 General Election. If Eagle wins the Labour Party leadership then she will see a revival of their fortunes, including in the still conjoined Scotland, where the SNP will be in decline.

We will be squeezed!

We need to be radical and to the forefront in everything.

There can be no “Let’s turn the clock back and rejoin the failing EU (and by then it will be seriously failing)!” This sort of thinking may be popular this week, it is a serious dead-end and has no future.

Liberals need to accept that the people have chosen a different road, which will be harder! Looking for soft options now will will, rightly, be rejected by voters.

Let’s take the Hard Road in the hope that the Sunny Uplands can be glimpsed way off in the hazy distance. Do we have an option?

Extreme Videos for Extreme Believers

The radicalisation of extremists (religious or otherwise) doesn’t just happen because the people concerned watch a few videos!

Reading ‘The Sun’ does not cause otherwise deep thinking people to adopt simplistic solutions for tricky problems. People who want simplistic solutions look to ‘The Sun’ to provide them.

The numbers of non-swimmers who decide (having watched a video entitled “Swim in a Day”) that they will go down to the sea, put on a cossie and swim across the Channel to buy some cheese, is few in number.

So it is with religious extremists. The extremists chose the videos they watch.

In Europe, in the British Isles, we know about ‘home-grown’ religious extremists. Our history is riddled with the power play of religious factions. We’re pretty good at religious wars and civil wars over ludicrous religious (and other) belief systems.

100 years ago, Britain was involved in a centuries long war in and for Ireland. A war fuelled by cultural, racial, tribal, and religious differences. Like most wars it was about who should exercise power for and over a people. In this, as in so many other wars, ‘God’ was on both sides, sharpening the swords, later filling the bullets with powder and later still the bottles with petrol.

Before the partition in 1922 it was Protestant terrorists who held the guns and threatened unholy hell if they were to be ruled by the Catholic majority. After the partition it switched around. And yet, neither side had ever seen a video!

The simple truth is that people are taught to fear, hate, despise and hold themselves aloof from the lesser beings who do not come from their background, race, religion, sect, class, caste …. This teaching starts in the home, continues in the community, the school, religious institution, general media etc.. long before the child finds a sub-cult to which they can belong and which produces the videos that build on the established core beliefs already inculcated.

The parents, priests, imams, teachers, politicians, and communities who try to hide behind the latest media (think printing-press, radio, tv) are simply passing the buck. Those children who chose to join ‘Islamic State’, and who are prepared to kill and be killed, are doing so because of the beliefs that they learnt long before they pressed the ‘video on’ button. Those parents etc. who blame the media are just as responsible as the parents whose children joined the crusades, or enlisted with the IRA/UDA.

Parents, whose otherwise sensible children have joined Islamic State, need to ask themselves about the things they taught their children.

Did they teach “The Lie of God”?

The belief that there is a ‘God’ and that they have a duty to do his bidding as expressed by the ‘Prophets’.

Did they teach “The Aloofness of Believers”?

That other belief systems can contaminate and are best avoided. That true believers need to be separated and then united by rituals and practices which are significantly different to those practised by other religions and especially by non-believers. These may take the form of; more frequent prayer; excessive fasting; visibly different dress; the wearing of emblems or symbols. Anything which makes them stand apart and together. Conformity in these things is designed to say “We are exclusive, better.” Think ‘Goth’ with bells on.

Did they teach “Exclusivity of The Afterlife”?

That there is a good afterlife that is available only to those who believe in their ‘God’ and who follow the same practices that they do. The rest of humanity being either doomed to die or live on and suffer a painful eternity.

Parents need to realise that these are extreme views.

Religious leaders have long known that it is through the indoctrination of the young that they secure the long term future of their belief system. Parents who teach these values have done the spade-work and planted the seed, online videos are simply extra manure.

Moslem young are often caught between two worlds. The constrained taught world, of home, community and mosque, and the more open ‘western’ world of daily ‘temptation’. So it is for many religious groups. The majority will find a way to exist in two worlds. But that does not deny the fact that they live in two worlds.

For some, who cannot or will not live in two worlds, the answer may lie in ending the confusion by choosing to opt out. Living in ghettos which they rarely leave, and there are plenty of these in our inner cities. Others may seek a sort of ‘final solution’. Those who refuse to kow-tow to ‘extremist’ beliefs are simply unacceptable and need to disappear.

Extremists may chose to watch extremist videos, but it doesn’t start with the videos!

IT STARTS IN THE HOME!

So enough of ducking the issue and putting the blame on internet videos. If the land was not already well dug, and watered, how would the seeds grow so strong with just a little video manure?

For each radical who flies off, there are many, many more who feel the pull but reject it. The unknown factor is how many feel the pull,  chose not to go, but give tacit support. Like those young women who never wore a headscarf before 9/11 but did the day after.

Killing in the name of ‘God’, or anyone else, is obviously not the solution, videos are just as obviously not the cause.

The liberal problem! 

For liberals and Liberals there are questions to ask.

Can those who seek the freedom and right to follow their own beliefs or practise their own religion be genuinely liberal if they see others as somehow lesser beings because of their beliefs, race, gender etc.. Ever been told by a doorstep evangelist that they will live for ever whilst, if you persist in your non-believing ways, you will perish or worse. Not much love, compassion or equality in that!

Can a father who ‘arranges’ a marriage for his son or daughter be a liberal?

Indeed can the son or daughter who accepts this be a liberal?

Concentrate, Condense and Circulate

The First Twenty Days. The Next Two Hundred!

The Prime Minister has started work. We have not – or so it would appear. In many ways it does not matter what the PM. is doing, just that he is seen to be leading from the front on behalf of the country. Similarly, it doesn’t matter that he has the support of only part of the electorate. For all intents and purposes, he is the country. Where the hell are we?

Despite our poor numbers, we can and must lead the visual opposition. Labour has some pretty sad types fighting over the leadership of their mob, and there is a vacuum where there should be a leader of the opposition. It doesn’t matter which of our boys, and they are (sadly) all boys, assumes the mantle of leadership of the party, for no one outside the party cares (and probably only slightly more inside the party give a damn). What matters is that one, or more, of our team hit the headlines and assumes the role of Leader of the Public Opposition. What they do in Parliament is amazing less important than what they are perceived to be doing by the wider public.

The PM. has already visited two of his greatest failures, the seven day NHS and the numbers of migrants entering the country. They are now hostages to fortune, and his undoubted failure to achieve them in this five year term is something we should be storing up. To be really on the ball we need to be giving him less than three years to achieve these, as from then on there will be a leadership race within his own party. If he fails to negotiate the terms for Britain in Europe that the ‘bastards’ want, then regardless of the outcome of the referendum, he will find it hard to continue to lead a well divided party.

On a matter of terminology can we please stop using ‘Brexit’ for in reality we are not talking about a British exit from Europe, merely the exit of the southern part of England. It is immensely unlikely that the electors of Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Northern Powerhouse will vote to leave. There may well be a Southern Majority, but the regions must not feel bound by this. The term we should be using is to refer to this Southern Exit is the far more enticing ‘Sexit’.

Terminology aside, nearly all in the Party want to remain in Europe. We have a broader vision than the Tories. We want a co-operative Europe, not just for financial and business purposes (and god knows these are desperately important), but also for broader historic, political and diplomatic reasons. At the moment the nation is very aware of the last two world wars, there is a certain jingoism in the coverage, but the memory has been awoken. The Coal and Steel Community, and all that has followed, was both an attempt to bring peace in Western Europe and to create an economic power capable of standing up to an expanded Russian Empire. The Russian Empire is again a reality. It is flexing it’s muscles and blaming the West, and Europe in particular, for the loss of it’s puppet states. Our vision of Europe is wider than just jobs and consequential migration. We need to start promoting this wider vision.

The British Empire has gone, and if we were ever to stand alone again, who would care. We matter little to the USA except as part of a larger whole; the Commonwealth provides some friendly Games; the Asiatic power blocks would be largely unconcerned; we may, or may not, have control of our own nuclear weapons, but we certainly wouldn’t use them in isolation. Russia has a recent history of picking off it’s targets one at a time. Russia would not hesitate to increase the cost of its oil and gas to us, as a warning to the rest of Europe to play nicely. In short we only matter as a part of a larger whole! We would matter even more if we were capable of taking a leadership role in Europe and this will not happen under the Conservatives.

In the next two hundred days, there will be smokescreens a plenty emanating from Downing Street. They will be there to hide just two main issues: the cuts in the welfare budget, and the failure to get any substantive progress on numbers of EU migrants. We must not get overly involved in these smokescreen issues. Some of them will be ‘core’ issues to us, Civil Liberties, Overseas Aid, the imposition of City Mayors… We can’t stop the Tories from doing what they want with these. The smoke will clear. In the meantime we need to concentrate on Europe and the Welfare State, and to do so honestly.

Europe, is far from perfect. Those of us who remember the 1975 Referendum, know that the democratic deficit has not got any better, and it needs to. The nonsense of moving the bureaucracy remains. The Euro shambles continues. The wages, expenses, and tax system applied to the civil service and MEPs is unjustifiable. But overall it works, and we would be the poorer without it.

The Welfare State is no less problematical. It is a system that has grown up ramshackle. I have worked, as a low level civil servant, alongside people who were working fewer hours and getting more in tax credits than I took in wage. We worked with inner city unemployed and saw households (especially those with many children) taking home more than any of us. But that is no reason for declaring the system a failure. What we need to accept is that people have expectations that perhaps cannot, and maybe should not, be met. The Welfare State needs reform in line with what the citizens think is reasonable, even if this does not meet some of our cherished dreams. A bit more honesty about what can be afforded is needed.

Inform and then trust.

No Victims

And so now we know what our core vote is 8%!

If anybody is at all surprised by that, then they simply haven’t looked at election results over the longer term. Winning a few “Personality” seats simply doesn’t cut it (two of our best known personalities were after all Jeremy Thorpe and Cyril Smith). Our less well known MP’s are there, usually, as a result of of much hard work by a core of local supporters fighting for dustbins and against dog mess. We still have a substantial body of support in these seats.

Shortly after that meeting in the garden, I spoke with one of our more optimistic, long serving and successful, Lib-Dem Councillors. He, being the optimist he is, stated that that moment would set us back twenty-five years. He went on to concede that it was still probably the right thing to do. That was the optimistic view.

Those of us who hate Tories with a deep, utter and sincere loathing, and yet found ourselves most reluctantly accepting the arrangement, had visions from a German past where such arrangements were akin to a suicide pact across the entire party. The nation dealt with us as we deserved and as we should have expected. There were no victims on election night, just volunteers.

But hell! We’ve still got 8% of the voting public, and they knew that what they were doing was not going to lead to a Liberal or even a liberal Government, and then we’ve got fifty thousand members and growing. That’s not a bad base from which to start.

The question remains as to why we do it. There’s no question mark at the end of that statement for the simple process of opening your eyes and looking around gives you all the answers.

With only eight MP’s the questions to ask are very simple:

1. What should we do with only eight MP’s.?

2. What can we do with only eight MP’s?

To have any elected member or peer trying to cover several portfolios is a total waste of time. We need to concentrate our efforts on those things which give us a distinct identity and can be covered in broad sweeping cross departmental ways.

Our campaign seems to have boiled down to “Vote for us and we’ll stop the big boys from being naughty.” Not exactly inspiring. Not positive. Not true. Worst of all it shows us as the creepy little kid who nobody, quite rightly, pays any attention to. They didn’t.

We are growing our membership. The other parties are, sort of, promoting our policies: on regional government (Tories); PR (UKIP); environment (nearly every one else)..

The Government is going to make cuts which are likely to be seen as too harsh, or as failing to deliver what they promised.

They are unlikely to make any genuine headway in Europe before the referendum. If we vote to stay in Major’s Bastards will bring forward the Leadership election. If the vote is to leave then the SNP (who can otherwise be entirely ignored) will want a second poll north of the border.

With a bit of luck Labour will turn Sigmoidoscopy (think Dyno-rod), into an art form.

So if there are wounds to lick, get them licked and lets get on with it. This is a good time.

The Welfare State is simply bloody marvellous! It needs both reform and promotion. Advocate it from a position of positivity.

The NHS needs other sources of funding. This could well be from insurance, not just motor insurance, but insurance from all sports and activity clubs who’s members need treatment as a result of their sport or activity. The NHS is poor at collecting this so pass it onto the Collector of Taxes and ring fence 90% of the take).

Think the unthinkable. In an overcrowded England (does anyone really think Scotland, Wales and Ulster are overcrowded), do we really need more people, do we need to encourage larger families. Consider the realities of the cost of children. The first is the most expensive (not just actual cost but loss of earnings etc.). Each subsequent child is less expensive. Consider ending Child Tax Credits for future second or third and subsequent children. If the Tories really want Regional Government there’s no reason why fiscal policies should be universal.

Civil Liberties are a reality. Civil Liberties are a real and present danger.

There never has been a time when people in the UK, and the West in general, have been able to say and do more without the fear of State retaliation. This very freedom is what challenges and motivates the extremely religious and/or dictatorially inclined. The greater our freedoms, the more they fear their decline. Do we really want to cut back on our freedoms in an attempt to appease, which is doomed to failure as our reasonable step is their first victory. Exercise your freedoms to keep them.

That’s how it looks a week after we got our comeuppance.

Fear Nowt