Saturday, 24 September 2016

Article 50, the 1933 German Enabling Act and a failed state

The preliminary exchanges between government lawyers and the litigants representing those of us who consider that the use of royal prerogative to trigger major legislative change is seditious are fascinating.  It is hardly the indication of a government confident in either its own position or its own legitimacy that it seeks to redact its legal arguments, nor of a regime which has any respect for the rule of law.  Whichever side of the advisory referendum people chose, this case is fundamental to whether there is any legitimate United Kingdom.

Those who fail to read history are doomed to their fate, but need not consign the rest of us to perdition.  What Maggie May's usurpers are up to at the moment is nothing short of an authoritarian coup, as the idea that fundamental rights, legislation and legality can be set aside by exercising a diktat in the name of a hereditary monarch is a monstrous canard that deprives citizens of any stake in this or future decisions of government.

Hitler's legitimacy rode on an Enabling Act.  It might even be argued that this was more viable than a hole-in-the-corner procession of self-defined experts and "patriots" who, having got the result that best serves their interests, do not want the process of government to be exposed to scrutiny.  The refusal to countenance Parliament's role in the process, let alone the people's, is an intriguing insight into a mindset that sees citizens as pawns in a game of hedge fund speculation and graft.  That is a generous interpretation, there are those of us increasingly leaning to the theory that the national interest being served is not one of the four British nation's.

May needs the equivalent of the Reichstag fire to cement her delusional view that she speaks for all of Britain.  What the rest of the country needs is an urgent awakening that rights, due process and legitimate authority are being undermined in the name of Brexit, but really to perpetuate the rule of spies and oligarchs.  Opposition party politics are a sideshow - as citizens of a failed state we should be examining how we can be protected by the UN, EU and any other body which maintains a semblance of respect for the rule of law.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

A winter of discontent for the Medusa of Maidenhead

Considering that the death-rattle of the United Kingdom is now approaching its fourth month of exhalation, there is surprising quiescence.  Partly a consequence, no doubt, of the default position of apathy becoming embedded in the psyche of the British nations, but also continuing disbelief that the precipice is approaching and the unelected Prime Minister and her henchpersons are not taking evading action but hitting the accelerator.

The charlatans of the Leave campaign are smelling rats - which, surprisingly, is not leading to helpful self-identification.  This may be consequential to their anaerobic status, but the tendency to establish egregious splinter groups, all dribbling over each other with their manic ranting consigning other people to perdition, is a tendency that should only be encouraged.  The frailty of the Gorgon's grip on power is nowhere better illuminated than by the scrofulous and fissiparous divisions between her three fetid Brexit Ministers, and her total inability to achieve a unified message or discipline.  The moronic toddler's mantra of "Brexit meaning Brexit" has passed beyond parody.

For anyone demonstrating an iota of self-awareness, her predicament would result in exertions to achieve both unity and discipline.  Instead she is sending mixed messages to European leaders, and hardly establishing the credibility of her own administration in the eyes of those with whom a diminished England might hold some attractions.  These are not the actions of someone who should be entrusted with a whelk stall, let alone the trappings of power.

Faced with a Labour Party spending too little time contemplating why it is failing to break through, and with a leader whose Europhobia is becoming more obvious by the week, this lets the scoundrels and criminals off the hook.  The plight would be pathetic were it not an abdication of the responsibility that goes with opposition - the only area where there is a claim of "public opinion" appears to be a willingness to assist the Tories in committing the ultimate act of national suicide.  Labour MPs will need to consider what they do in the face of a tactical blunder that could hand the Tories hegemonic power on a plate.

The pressure from the non-Labour opposition, be they civic nationalists, Green, Liberals or non-aligned but aghast at the direction that the Tories are taking, is the only language that should be understood.  The basic cant, hypocrisy and lies around "taking back control" while denying the constitutional representatives in Parliament the right to exercise scrutiny and challenge should not be forgotten, and indeed should be rammed down the throats of the lunatics and evil-doers who are currently advocating much of the urge to destruction.  Whether they are in the pay of foreign powers is becoming a more plausible speculation as each day unwinds.

In the meantime, maintaining perspective and stamina is important.  There is a certain confirmatory glee to be achieved through the constant exposure of the illiterate, idiotic and plain vile of the ongoing Leave campaigners - articulated by the new Kipper leader who aspires to be Marine Le Pen but resembles more closely a monobrowed acolyte of Farage and Helmer - but this is not enough to sustain solidarity and momentum in the face of uselessness.  As a strategy, it is designed to encourage apathy and acquiescence, but it is disturbing that it makes the latter years of John Major look like a period of enlightened, progressive and united government.

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

A farewell to Cameron

It is difficult to imagine, from the perspective of an affluent, trust-funded family, why you would want to remain an MP after your paws have been removed from the throat of the nation.  The news that there will be a by-election in David Cameron's constituency is hardly surprising given the inconsistent and mendacious positions he adopted throughout the referendum campaign, nor in the fragility of the roots of his purported compassionate Conservatism.

As a Prime Minister, he has been a monumental disaster.  In terms of making catastrophic misjudgements afflicting the wider citizenry, he is up there with Neville Chamberlain, combining it with the flair of Douglas Home and the slimy insincerity of Tony Blair and Harold Wilson.  Playing the purported reasonableness card enabled him to make advances in 2010, while riding the far right insurgency that, as with the much more creditable John Major, proved to be his ultimate downfall.

Whereas Major faced down his opponents within his own party, Cameron's position was too weak to address the dribbling backwoods lunatics and the neoliberal ideologues.  Instead he propitiated, simpered and preened himself, never able to take a decision that was focused purely on the national interest or even betraying any hint of either values or a strategy.  Everything was expedient, from the co-option of the Liberal Democrats as human shields to the determination of a complex and irrevocable long-term decision through a referendum which was improperly drafted, without legal clarity, and whose ramifications, whatever the final outcome, will paralyse and emasculate the political and economic climate for two decades.  Hardly the actions of a statesman.

In bequeathing this legacy to the country, he is lucky to be able to run away.  The rest of us are not, or at least not until the forces of idiocy are vanquished.  In the meantime there will be unrest, there will be decline and depression, and there may be the final collapse of what passed for a United Kingdom.  All down to his legacy and vanity.  All that is left is to look forward to the by-election.

Monday, 12 September 2016

A very non-British coup

The coronation of Theresa May marks a new nadir in the progress towards authoritarianism in the United Kingdom.  Whatever the rights and wrongs of the current Labour unravelling, and its unfortunate timing, at least there is evidence that the leadership of a political party, let alone a nation, is subject to scrutiny and due process.  Other than the misguided electors of Maidenhead who elected to put a cross next to her name, her claim to legitimacy is only within the boundaries of the Conservative Party.

This is part of the great illegitimacy of power  that gives the United Kingdom a bad name beyond its boundaries.  For each of us who can pride ourselves on living and contributing within those sections of territory that have a more modern mode of constitutional operations, there is an uncomfortable truth that the perception is of a country where elective dictatorship rules, within a flawed sub-democracy that is designed to ensure binary politics and to disincentives consensus.

In the last week, the spectacle of two of May's new appointments, the disgraced Liam Fox and the disgraceful David Davis, managing to undermine both her authority and the credibility of government, was topped out with the third stooge joining the duplicitous and hypocritical Change Britain campaign to "keep up pressure" on a government in which he allegedly holds one of the three great offices of state.

This does not look like a government, more a rag-tag collection of self-seeking individuals who would not be behaving in this way if they had the interests of all the nations at heart.  As time passes, it becomes less idle and paranoid to speculate as to whether their interests are at all transparent, or whether the agenda is being fed by those who are best served by destabilising both Britain and Europe.

There is much "bread and circus" activity being thrown into the mix.  The charlatanry of promoting English education policy to the centre of the political agenda, alongside the ongoing cash and confidence crisis in the NHS is linked to the above.  Add to this the cheerleading for Trump by the Tory fringe and the Kipper nutcases, and it is difficult not to wonder if the Leave campaign's cornering of the tinfoil market was a canny move.

There needs to be accountability, both for the current government and for the forces that have led us to this pass.  I suspect that by the terms of the legal framework for the referendum doubts about the funding source for the campaign may not be challengeable through electoral law, but the extent to which this is being used as a front organisation, in the US terms "astroturf", should be a constant challenge.  For every Arron Banks, for every Daniel Hannan, there are several layers of intrigue.  If it can be proved that this is in the national interest, all well and good.  If not, there has been the kind of seditious usurpation of power that fomented revolution 250 years ago.  It could happen here.

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

The Corbyn conundrum

For those of us old enough to have experienced life under Thatcher and Major, and to have formed political opinions informed through that particular lens, Labour's current travails have a grotesque quality. Were it not for the requirement for an Opposition, an annoyance that the Tories are sniggering about as they lead the country into perdition, this would be a matter of private grief into which intrusion would be unseemly.

Even eighteen months ago, Labour looked as though there was a chance that it would be able to form part of government.  Despite signing its Scottish death warrant by propping up the Unionist cause in the 2014 referendum, there was the prospect of a strong showing in 2015 that might have changed the course of the UK.  The Tory strategy to destroy their coalition partners was clearly defined, and without hubris and tribalism a leftward shift might have been achieved - a tacit recognition that Labour's success even in the good years depended upon exploiting the electoral system rather than a massive endorsement by the voters would have given another strategic push.

Instead, we are now facing the consequences of a tainted election and a right-wing coup within the Tory Party.  The referendum has thrown everything into the air, and given the Tory uncertainty over what demons they have unleashed, it would have been rational to expect the official Opposition to exploit and articulate this.  There is more effective challenge coming from within the Tories than from Labour at the moment, and if it wasn't for the efforts of the Greens, SNP and Liberal Democrats, alongside Labour stalwarts standing outside the leadership battle, you could be forgiven for imagining that the future prosperity of the country was an unimportant sideshow in the battle for ideological purity.

Corbyn's ambivalence during the referendum campaign is now becoming much easier to understand.  Today's pronouncements on the Single Market, which is the basic building block of all those who seek to retain British engagement with Europe and the world, resemble a spoilt child, confronted with a pick-and-mix sweetshop.  No wonder that the self-defined nuancing during the campaign played out the way that it did, given the fundamental hostility at the leadership's core.

Perhaps this is all for the good, as the extremes peel off on both sides.  Unlike the Kinnock years, Labour cannot expect to regain its ground in a diverse polity, where devolved nations have their own politics.  Instead, the break-up of the uncomfortable political blocs that have dominated a binary narrative is inevitable, and may need to be accelerated.  At one stage, it looked as though the new Labour approach ushered in by Corbyn's win might be more pluralist, but the approach remains that of the vanguard party rather than a player in pluralism.

About the only certainty is that May's honeymoon will end.  Her own party will devour every slip or perceived backslide, and the bastards continue to peddle their racist insanity.  An effective opposition exploits this, which is why the SNP's paradoxical clarity is speaking for the disenfranchised at Westminster so clearly.  Corbyn's supporters are mostly sincere in their desire for change, and the policies put forward, when they are, appear to be broadly in the social democratic space, but the inept handling and the inconsistencies make it difficult to engage with a party which appears to want to turn the political clock back to simpler times.

With the slow-motion catastrophe unfolding, seizing the initiative becomes vital.  Britain's relationship with Europe is central, but the democratic deficit and constitutional horror show that we face is fundamental to resolving this.  What the shape of an transforming political and social force looks like is unclear, but it is unlikely to emerge from within a bunkered mentality.  Had Labour shifted into a more pluralist space as part of its redefinition, it might have become a point of coalescence for this process.  Instead it will be individuals, groups and cross-party debate that can escape the mire - and this may even be exciting and liberating.  It is, after all, the only chance for salvation across the British nations.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

A paralysis of leadership

Considering the scale of the task facing Theresa May her facile insouciance is instructive.  Unable even to rein in her own Ministers, following David Davis's risible performance in evading issues in the Commons yesterday, she is lapping up the humiliation at the G20 - pretending that putative trade deals with relatively minor partner nations are a substitute for being an influential member of the European Union.

Apart from the obvious inability to define a way forward that will deliver the mendacious manifesto that the Vote Leave campaign and UKIP's fellow-fascist-travellers bequeathed as part of their destruction and mayhem, May has it easy.  The toxic tone of Labour's leadership campaign continues to astound, as it is difficult to see how the bilious rhetoric and victimisation can play out after a probable re-endorsement of Jeremy Corbyn.  There is no inevitability of a SDP-style split, but paralysing the party that still represents the official Opposition in the face of a national emergency does not appear to be serving the electorate or offering an alternative.

There has been a considerable quantity of propaganda about relatively benign economic statistics, partly a consequence of the pre-existing trends but also an automatic reaction to the sudden and random devaluation of the UK's currency.  This is being touted by the imbecilic as indicating that all the concerns over Brexit's consequences were scare-mongering, without taking into account the lag between political action and impacts on the real economy - quite apart from the convenient denial that there has been no formal effort to commence the process, beyond establishing a government department whose Ministerial competence would not register on a micrometer.

As someone who will not be reconciled to the perversion of the constitutional framework (any less nebulous definition would be over-generous) there is a feeling of stasis at present, before the legal and Parliamentary direction becomes clear.  The failure to articulate the centrality of the rule of law is a criminal omission on the part of May and her adventurist crew, and should be chased down by all those concerned that whatever the outcome, there is a representative decision.  Instead Corbyn has spent his time alternately denying that his activists have an attitude problem and not articulating any specific reason why any floating voter should consider a Labour vote.

With a government of spies, this is not going to be acceptable for long.  The approach adopted by Sturgeon in Scotland manages to combine a wider national interest with partisan advantage, and this needs to be adopted and developed across the other three nations of the UK.  The challenge to peace and stability posed by the inept drafting and deliberate obfuscation over the status of the Northern Irish constitutional settlement deserves to be explored further, and answers given that do not change with the phases of the moon or whichever planet Davis happens to be imagining.

The closest parallel I can work through is the phoney way period after September 1939.  That was a similar period of national delusion, and ended badly.  Whereas in 1941 the United States and Soviet Union's immersion in conflict caused them to ride to the rescue of plucky little Britain, it is difficult to see where any external help could emerge from.  We are a global laughing stock, casting ourself adrift, and there is nobody in charge.  Ashamed to be defined British, in a racist timewarp, it would be tempting to give up - but there is no way I would ever give the motley rabble the satisfaction.