Letter from Bassetlaw – June 26th 2016

13537633_10153995837901773_9141542646099766789_nThere is a famous old Chinese curse that goes “May you live in interesting times!”.  Well, we are certainly living in interesting times just now.

The result of Thursday’s Referendum may look simple, given a Remain or Leave question on the EU, the British Electorate voted by 51.9% to 48.1% to Leave but as the result is not binding on any Government, the repercussions to the vote are now reverberating through our political structures.

This was not the result expected by most people, including those leading the Leave campaigns who, it now turns out, have no plans of how to proceed with Brexit as (as they now admit) may of the “promises” turn out to be groundless[i] [ii].  Also many of those who voted Leave as a protest against Cameron & the Tory Government, thinking that Remain would win any way are now regretting their vote[iii] while even those who were more committed to leaving the EU have been shocked by the reality of what Brexit actually means

Cameron has reacted by walking away from the whole mess of his own creation (see my comment on Facebook on this) although, by refusing to invoke Article 50 of the European Treaty, saying he was leaving it to his successor, he has possibly made it impossible to actually start the processes of leaving (see this post on The Guardian pages).  As I write I am hearing that Boris Johnson, assisted by Michael Gove, two former journalists with a history of telling untruths & ignoring experts, is preparing to take over the Conservative party and therefore the Government.

If Johnson fulfils his very naked ambition to become PM, then he will be faced with the wonderful alternative of starting the process of Brexit and triggering an economic collapse (just looked at what happened to the markets since the result was announced[iv] if you think I am scaremongering) or failing to trigger the process and risk the ire of all those who supported him.

 

Meanwhile, with the Tories seemingly starting an internal Civil War and a possible General Election in the offing, Labour has reacted to the need for a strong vocal opposition by going into melt down as 10 (so far) members of Corbyn’s Shadow Cabinet have either been sacked or resigned.  If it wasn’t so tragic, it would be a farce.

 

So, what will all this mean for Bassetlaw?

As I explained in previous post (We face a crisis in our public services, but it isn’t caused by immigrants), many of the reasons that people give for voting to leave the EU are not actually caused by the EU but by our own, home grown, British Politicians taking decisions for short term political advantage rather than long term economic gain.  Just look around in Europe, German, along with other EU countries, still has a thriving steel industry and a coal industry; shipbuilding is supported by the EU across member nations yet here in the UK all three areas are in seemingly terminal decline.  Our industries were not destroyed by the EU but by the Heath, Wilson, Callaghan Thatcher, Major & Blair governments.  Leaving the EU will not resolve this problem, if anything by cutting these (and other industries off from EU support), it will hasten their final decline.

Brexit will not help Bassetlaw.  With a failing economy for at least the next 5 years while we go through the process of Brexit & readjust to life afterwards, there will be higher unemployment, less money for public services and to support those on benefits.  I have already heard from many younger people in our area that they are thinking of emigrating as they don’t want to live in a post-Brexit UK.

There is a possibility that in spite of the Referendum, Brexit can still be avoided.  I for one will be doing all I can to make sure that we stay in the EU.

 

[i] http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/evan-davis-newsnight-bbc-daniel-hannan-mep-eu-referendum-brexit_uk_576e2967e4b08d2c56393241

[ii] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/brexit-eu-referendum-nigel-farage-nhs-350-million-pounds-live-health-service-u-turn-a7102831.html

[iii] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3660336/We-did-vote-REGREXIT-Britons-wish-hadn-t-backed-Leave-EU-referendum.html

[iv] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-36628919

 

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Letter from Bassetlaw – June 19th 2016

referendum ballot boxSo, we are just a few days away from what is possible the most momentous vote in our countries history.  As I write the opinion polls are moving from one side to another with many still to make up their mind.  Today, while out leafleting I heard from people who were voting both Remain & Leave and some who had yet to make up their mind.   This means that even at this stage there is all still to play for and no one can be complacent.

For those still trying to make up their minds, I have one suggestion.  Don’t trust what either side says.  As I said right at the beginning of the campaign, look for references, links to the sources to back up what people have said, that way you can know that the writer has researched their article and has something to back up what they are saying, not just making it up to fit their argument.

 

No one knows what will happen on June 23rd but I agree with what our MP said to me after the debate we took part in this week, that the worst possible result would be a narrow victory for either side would mean that there could be weeks of court cases as the losers contest the result on numerous grounds (I have seen enough illegal active from the Leave campaign both locally and nationally that could be used to try to overturn a narrow victory for Leave & I suspect the Leave campaign feel the same about the Remain side).

I hope that the result will be clear cut for Remain or Leave (obviously I would prefer Remain) so we can then go forward to deal with the outcome, make the decisions both nationally and personally based on certainty.

 

When out campaigning in the last few weeks, I have been verbally abuse, and more than once felt physically threatened, by of those who disagreed with my views.  This is unacceptable and a threat to our democracy.

Last week we saw an escalation in the violence with the first murder of a sitting MP for 25 years (see my own reaction in Jo Cox RIP).  Whatever your views on the UK remaining in the EU are, no one should be abused, feel threatened, assaulted, much less murdered, because of their sincerely held opinions.   All of us (and I include myself) must learn to respect others who disagree with us; we can challenge what they say, not their right to say it.

 

Finally, can I ask everyone to spare a thought for the election staff across the country who on Thursday will oversee the Referendum and then the count.  The polling stations open of 7:00 am on Thursday and the final results are not due to be announced until 7:00 am on Friday morning.  Many of the staff (and some of the campaigners too, though I less sympathy for them) involved will be up for the whole process.  I know that everywhere they will do their duty to the best of their ability in what could be very trying circumstances.

On Thursday, for our grandchildren, vote REMAIN

vote remainThe Referendum on Thursday is not on David Cameron & how he is performing as PM, it is not a vote on the Tory party’s record in power, it isn’t even a vote on Cameron renegotiation of our terms on membership.

It is a vote on the future of the UK.

Do we want a future where we are open and welcoming to others (and welcomed by them in return) or one where we live behind barriers, scared of our neighbours, afraid of those different to us?

I am not campaigning for Remain because of Cameron and his sordid little mean spirited “renegotiation”, but in spite of him.

I am not supporting Remain because I support the Tory Government but because being in the EU is our best protection from the worst a Tory government can do.

I am not voting Remain because the EU is perfect but because, in spite of its many faults, it is better to be working with our fellow members to make it better that to be on the outside carping about it and being dictated to by it.

Most of all, I am for Remain because I want a better future for my children & grandchildren, a future where they can live work study & trade freely in and with the other counties in Europe; a future where wars between European nations are studied in history, not a threat in the future; a future where the nations & people of Europe can lead the world in tackling the real problems that face the Earth – Climate Change, Poverty, International terrorism and regulation multi-nationals

Leaving the EU will cast a decades long shadow over this country and blight the future of the next generations.  We, those who are nearer the end of their lives that the start, do not have the right to inflict that of our descendants.

On Thursday, vote REMAIN for your children & grandchildren.

 

 

 

 

Jo Cox RIP

Jo CoxToday, I cried for a woman who, before today, I had never heard of, for someone from a party I have spent 6 years fighting in elections.

The murder of Jo Cox has touched many people both in her own constituency and further afield, in her own party and across all parties (& none), those who knew her and those, like me, who didn’t.

My thoughts go out to her husband, two young children and to her wider circle of friends & family.  Their loss is unimaginable, made all the worse by the glare of publicity surrounding it.

As someone who stood for Parliament last year, I had hoped to be doing what Jo Cox was doing today, meeting constituents, helping them sort out problems, working to improve the lives of others.  By all accounts she was very good at doing that as well as working for the causes she believed in Parliament and beginning to build a reputation as a political star for the future.

Nowhere in the job description of being an MP does it say that you could be in danger of being stabbed or shot.  Yet it is a risk nearly all MPs who want to do even a half decent job of representing their constituents take every time they hold a surgery or attend a public meeting.

Last night, as it happens, I sat on the same stage as my MP, John Mann, discussing issues around the EU Referendum and the atmosphere got quite heated at times.  No one was searched on the way in, no bags were checked, so any weapon could have been brought in.

Thankfully, after a lively debate, the evening ended in handshakes between all the panellists and with many of the audience.   Afterwards, Mr Mann made time to discuss the possible outcomes & consequences of the Referendum with some young students and others, something I know he didn’t have to do and those who stayed behind to listen & join in were grateful to him for being generous with his time.

This is the kind access we have got used to with MPs, not just in Bassetlaw but in most constituencies, open, free and without security to get in the way.   I fear today’s events in a small West Yorkshire town, along with similar attacks in the past, might start to make MPs less willing to be so open and accessible, creating a bigger divide between our elected politicians and those they represent, and that would not just be bad for our democracy but would also be an insult to the memory of Jo Cox who by all accounts enjoyed meeting the people she represented and made time for them.

What happened today in Birstall was a tragedy. A young mother, a caring person and an aspiring politician was cut down doing what she had dedicated her life to, trying to help others.

We must not let those driven by hate and anger kill our democracy as well.

More Brexit lies & myths

The 48% - Bassetlaw

by Leon Duveen

Yesterday, in a post on my Facebook page, I challenged those who are in favour of Brexit to give answers to three questions but not “just spout platitudes or regurgitate discredited lies from the Leave campaign. Show me some details of how Brexit will improve the lives of ordinary people in the UK.”

Needless to say they couldn’t but between the usual invective and insults, there were a few point that deserve to be responded to.  I originally did this in the thread itself but it is difficult to include the multiple links needed in a Facebook comment, I am reposting a slightly edited version here to satisfy those who thought I could not substantiate my statements.

Let me deal with the delusionary “We can trade with the rest of the world” argument which many have raise.

Outside of large trading blocs like the…

View original post 601 more words

Letter from Bassetlaw – June 12th 2016

Leon Duveen 140920aMost weeks, I like to start these letters with a few words about what I have been doing or with another topical comment.  However, this week I want to go straight into the theme of the this letter, the risk of Brexit for ordinary people here in Bassetlaw

2½ years ago, during the last European Parliament Election campaign, I wrote this post to explain why I am pro EU – Why i am pro-EU.  While the stats may be a little out of date, the sentiments I expressed then still hold true today.  If anything, the campaigning & research I have done in the last 9 months has made me even more committed to keeping the UK in the EU.

In my opinion, leaving the EU would be an unmitigated disaster for this country, a disaster that would take decades for the county to recover from, a disaster that will blight the future of our children & grandchildren, a disaster made all the worse because it is so avoidable.

Last night I wrote a long post on Facebook (We face a crisis in our public services, but it isn’t caused by immigrants) about how those wanting us to leave the EU are desperately trying to blame the EU & immigrants for all the problems of the NHS & other public services rather than face up to the real causes, which are entirely home grown.  Of all people it was Boris Johnson who, in 2013, correctly diagnosed the problem when he said “If we left the EU, we would end this sterile debate, and we would have to recognise that most of our problems are not caused by “Bwussels”, but by chronic British short-termism, inadequate management, sloth, low skills, a culture of easy gratification and underinvestment in both human and physical capital and infrastructure.”[i]  How right he was and how despicable has been his behaviour in the last few moths

If it didn’t have such potentially tragic consequences for everyone, the petty greed, the naked ambition & the disregard of any facts or opinions that show Brexit id not a good idea being displayed by those leading the Brexit campaign would be comic.

Can anyone really believe that Gove, Farage, Johnson and the rest of the Troy clique trying desperately to drag us out of the EU would give a penny of any money saved through Brexit to the NHS?   John Major had it right when he said “The NHS is about as safe with them as a pet hamster would be with a hungry python,”[ii]

Can anyone not be sickened by the sight of Labour politicians campaigning for Brexit in the knowledge that one of the first things a Tory Government lead by Johnson or Gove would do is to repeal all the EU Social Chapter legislation that protect workers & consumers in the UK, the so-called “Brussels Red-tape” they claim is holding back UK Industry?

Can anyone seriously believe that Brexit will “restore control!” to the British Public?  It was Rupert Murdoch when asked by he opposed the EU said “That’s easy, when I go into Downing Street they do what I say; when I go to Brussels they take no notice.”[iii]  I am sure the other media owners, the Barclay Brothers (owners of the Telegraph), Richard Desmond (owner of the Express) and Viscount Rothermere (Owner of the Mail), have similar sentiments as to why the oppose the EU even if they don’t express them quite as flagrantly as Murdoch.

No, Brexit is being sold to the public on a misleading manifesto, an attempt to con the British public into surrendering our future so a few (like the hedge fund managers who are backing Brexit) can make massive profits out of it[iv] or so some can keep their control of or politicians.

Some people call the Remain campaign “Project Fear” because we have tried to tell people the truth about what Brexit would mean.  Well I will say openly that I am not just afraid of Brexit, I am petrified of it and what will happen if it becomes a reality.  For me there is only one way to vote on June 23rd.  For all its faults (and there are many), for all its perceived remoteness (although it isn’t as remote as many thing nowadays, you can follow much though the Internet), being in the EU is the only way we can protect our future, protect our children’s future, protect or public service, protect our hard won employment right, protect Britain from a bunch of Tory politician & media owners who want it as their toy, we have to vote Remain!

[i] http://wwwer.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/10052646/Quitting-the-EU-wont-solve-our-problems-says-Boris-Johnson.html

[ii] http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/jun/05/john-major-nhs-risk-brexit-pythons-johnson-and-gove

[iii] http://indy100.independent.co.uk/article/this-terrifying-rupert-murdoch-quote-is-possibly-the-best-reason-to-stay-in-the-eu-yet–WyMaFTE890x

[iv] https://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/nov/06/why-are-hedge-funds-supporting-brexit

We face a crisis in our public services, but it isn’t caused by immigrants

Yesterday, I wrote the following post on Facebook.  I am re-publishing it here for a wider audience

We have a crisis in the NHS, a crisis in our schools and a crisis in housing.

None of them are due to the EU or caused by immigrants. Indeed, currently many of these services are being propped up by the very immigrants, through their taxes and their labour, that some are trying to blame for the pressure on them.

They are caused by decades of under-investment in all three by successive UK governments who promise world class public services and at the same time reduce our taxes. Blaming the EU & immigrants for all the ills we have in this country is an attempt to distract us from the real causes of of those ills.

If those proposing that we leave the EU win the Referendum on June 23rd, again their promises of more money to spend on the NHS, education & housing will again be shown to be empty because there will be no money saved by Brexit. So they will cast around for another scapegoat, the poor, those trapped on benefits, anyone too weak or powerless to defend themselves, to blame for the fact that that the lies that were told to convince the public to vote for Brexit turn out to be just that, empty disgraceful lies.

We need to stop looking for scapegoats, it isn’t the EU or immigrants that are the root of the problems in our public services or in housing.

We need to wake up to the truth that we cannot have world class public services for all unless we are willing to up our contributions to the public purse.

Leaving the EU will just make keeping the NHS, schools and other public services much hard to maintain and unless we build more homes, we won’t solve the housing crisis.

So let’s face up to some hard truths about ourselves, our future will be dominated by the EU whether we are in it or not, our economy (for good or bad) is intertwined with that of our neighbours in Europe and extracting it from that will leave us all poorer and weaker, and we need to accept that we have to pay more in taxes if we want a good NHS, free at the point of delivery, good schools to educate future generations and decent housing so young families can afford a place to live.

All this means that on June 23rd, there is no choice but to vote ‪#‎Remain