Never Again

I have just read a worrying post from someone I have know for decades. We were in the same Jewish Youth movement and lived on the same Kibbutz in Israel.  For many years, he has lived in Southern USA bringing up his family there and made his, very successful, life there. This what he wrote:
“In January [his spouse] and I had a discussion about our “red lines”. How we would be different from the German Jews in 1933, could we foresee the changes that would lead to a country so anti Semitic that would make our situation untenable? If we could predict this then we could escape in time. At that point, I did not believe that such a situation could develop here. I no longer believe this, there is clearly a Nazi sympathizer in the Whitehouse, maybe that is a bit generous. I now believe that the forces of evil have been legitimized and unless the Republican Party immediately deal with the situation then we will see a slide into chaos generated by the right and the “militia”. With the tacit support of the Justice department and the Presidency they will grow in strength and the decline is inevitable. We are renewing our U.K. passports. I really hope we don’t need them.”
I never though that I would read such words from someone living in any modern western country.  We live in supposedly civilised times, we know what happens when extreme forces are stirred up by demagogues trying to cover up their own failures & mistakes. We know what happens when people start to blame the others, those that can be identified as different and it isn’t pretty and it doesn’t end well for anyone.
I hope my friend isn’t forced to flee the land he has made his home. I pray that people across the US (and, lets be honest, here and elsewhere) realise that the path of the extremists is not the path to take and turn back towards sanity, where we can discuss and disagree with each other but not threaten those who oppose us with violence; where people are judged on their deeds & words; not on the colour of their skin, their religion or where they or their parents come from; where we can celebrate our common humanity along with our differences.
The threat of the fascists, the Nazis & the bigots is on the rise again and all it will take for it to succeed  is for good people not to stand up against it.  Other countries have made that mistake before, we cannot let it happen again.

Corbyn is as bad as Farage

Corbyn FarageI used to be quite well disposed to Jeremy Corbyn.  While I disagreed with many of his ideas and policies, I thought he was at least honest and straight forward. I always had the idea he was principled, he has stood up to Blair, rebelling literally 100’s of times against the Labour Party in Commons votes, and, while obviously not up to the job of leading the Labour Party, he was going to give to it a go and try to change how politics is done.  He always seemed to be a bit embarrassed by the excesses om the Momentum group but he was too loyal to criticise them publicly.

I was annoyed he hadn’t be more vocal in the Remain campaign (although at the time he professed to support staying in the EU) but, given the way the media reduced the arguments down to a split in the Tory party, it wasn’t surprising. Many other Labour politicians did the same as well

However, my views about Corbyn have changed in the last few months.  The Labour Party Manifesto was an uncosted hard-left plan for the future of the UK which ignored the fact that if the UK leaves the EU and the Single Market will mean widespread job losses mostly affecting ordinary workers and leaving the UK economy in a recession that will make the one Labour gave us in 2008 look like mild downturn.

Too many of the policies put forward looked good at first glance but on further examination failed to help the less well-off (the people Corbyn claims t be fighting for) more than richer people. A good example was his plan to summarily do away with Tuition Fees.  Pitched as a way of getting more people from poorer backgrounds into higher education, it ignored that (because of the changes made by the Lib Dems to the way the Tuition Fee loans are repaid) we currently have record breaking numbers of such young people at University.

Another area was Corbyn’s pledge to abolish Zero Hours Contracts (where employers do not guarantee any work but only pay for the hours an employee actually works).  While there are no doubt many abuses of such contracts by bad employers, they are also very good for some who want to work but (for many reasons) do not want to commit to working a set number of hours every week.   Rather than try to deal with the abuses in such contracts (exclusivity, shortness of notice that people aren’t needed, pressure to accept any hours offered, etc), Corbyn though that a short snappy headline was better even if it meant those who want to such contacts (and benefit from the flexibility they give) would be penalised.

Since the election last month, Corbyn has grown stronger and more bold .  Labour MPs who have (unusually) been pro-EU and worked hard for the last 2 years in the Remain Campaign have been forced to abstain on votes to keep the UK in the Single Market and sacking shadow spokespeople who ignored Corbyn’s diktat (rather ironic considering Corbyn’s own record).

Then yesterday, Corbyn revealed himself to be nothing more than a two-bit popularist, willing to lie and dissemble just like others in the Brexit camp, just to secure power.  Two statements stand out and show him up to be without principle.

Firstly, during the elction campaign, he worked hard to give the impression that not only was he going to abolish Tuition Fees but that he was going to wipe existing Student Loan debts.  Agreed, he never said exactly that, just that he would  “deal” with it, he left it to others to “expand” on it and say they would do that.  Yesterday, he denies ever saying such a thing.

Secondly, he spoke on the Andrew Marr Show about Brexit and said we could not be in the Single Market if we left the EU (ignoring the fact that other non-EU countries are), possibly a genuine mistake or possible a lapse of memory but still wrong and not corrected.  He then went on to say “has been used to “destroy” the conditions of British workers“.  This directly contradicts the findings of a LSE report on “Brexit and the Impact of Immigration on the UK” that has been available for over a year.  One of its findings was “There is also little effect of EU immigration on inequality through reducing the pay and jobs of less skilled UK workers. Changes in wages and joblessness for less educated UK born workers show little correlation with changes in EU immigration.”

By using such inflammatory speech about EU migrants who have come here to work and contribute to our society, Corbyn has shown himself to be no better than UKIP & Nigel Farage.  We already have rising violence against people from the EU in many party of the country and Corbyn has, intentionally or otherwise, given yet more justification to those who take part in such racist attacks.

Corbyn is no longer worthy of any respect and, unless the Labour Party and its members condemn his remarks, neither is the party he leads.

Corbyn ruling out Single Market is betrayal of future generation

Jeremy Corbyn today ruled out membership of the Single Market, claiming on the Andrew Marr Show today that it is dependent on membership of the EU.
Liberal Democrat Brexit Spokesperson Tom Brake said:

“Jeremy Corbyn’s failure to stand up for the Single Market is a betrayal of future generations who will suffer most from an extreme Brexit.

“He is parroting the lie used by leading Brexiteers that membership of the Single Market is the same as staying in the EU.

“The Labour leadership is now part of a coalition of chaos with Theresa May, determined to drive through a hard Brexit no matter what the cost.

“It doesn’t have to be this way. The Liberal Democrats will work with MPs from all parties to oppose an extreme Brexit and give the people the final say on the deal.”

(Text from Liberal Democrats Press Office)

EU Citizens resident in the UK are not Bargining Chips

On June 25th, just a year and a day after the Referendum result, my wife, a Dutch Citizen who has lived in the UK for most of her adult life, will be part of the Great Britain team competing In the European Age Group Sprint Triathlon Championships being held in Dusseldorf.

Yannie is honoured to have been selected to represent the country that has been her home for nearly 30 years and is looking forward to taking part.  Given that she only took part in her first Triathlon 2 years ago, this is a fantastic achievement.

However, I remember the shock and tears that were shed on the morning of June 24th last year; the uncertainty it has caused both Yannie and myself to realise that currently there is no guarantee that she will be allowed to stay in the UK post Brexit.

No amount of saying we will be OK makes us feel safer.

Telling us (as our local, Labour Leave MP, has) that no one is suggesting that Yannie and other EU citizens who have lived in the UK for decades will be told to leave does not help.

Until it is confirmed by the UK Government that EU citizens who have made their lives here can stay with no need to apply for naturalisation (at a cost of over £1250 minimum) or applications for permanent residency (which involve long complicated forms and documentation up to 20 years old), my wife will not feel secure.

Mrs May needs to be open & tolerant and make a gesture that will mean the negotiations with the rest of the EU can start in a spirit of generosity and openness, announce that all EU citizens who are resident in the UK on the day Article 50 will automatically have the full rights to stay in the UK just as they have had before.

My wife, along with the many other EU citizens who live here, contribute here, raise families here, is not a bargaining chip and should not be treated as such.

In a mild winter, our NHS is barely coping

We have had a mild winter so far, very few days of frost in the morning for most of us, no flu or norovirus epidemics, not even too much flooding.
In spite of this the NHS is at bursting point, Hospitals over full, essential budgets over spent and a crisis in Social Care (see Winter pressure ‘busts NHS budget’).
Just imagine what would have happened if we had had a couple of weeks of really bad weather (as is quite common most winters) or a serious outbreak of one of the common winter bugs. It simply doesn’t bear thinking about.
This year we got lucky. Because of the dedication, commitment and professionalism of the people who work in the NHS at all levels, we seem to have muddled through, just.
Next winter or the year after we may not be so lucky and an NHS running at overcapacity & underfunded will not be able to cope despite the efforts of the people who work in it.
It will be too late next winter to start throwing money at a problem that is already turning into a disaster. The NHS & Social Care need better funding now so that they can prepare for the bad winters & epidemics that will be coming before very long.
Send Hunt, Hammond & May a message today that we need to increase Central Government funding in these areas even if it means increasing Income tax or Corporation tax to pay for it.

I do not hold British voters in contempt

Because I unrepentant in fighting for the UK to remain in the EU, some people think I, and other like me who will not give up that fight, hold those who voted Leave last June in contempt.

This is not true, I do not hold them in contempt.

No, the people I hold in contempt are for those who have deceived, misinformed and downright lied to the British Public about the EU over the last 30 or more years in an attempt to wrest the UK out of the EU, not to give control back to the British people but to stop the EU undermining a privileged elite who feel they have the right to control us.   All the Euromyths that have been perpetuate in newspapers like The Mail, The Express, The Telegraph and in all the Murdoch papers have been spread not to educate the British public but to deceive them.

Others I hold contemptable are those politicians who came late to the Leave campaign because they thought it was politically expedient to appear to be a Brexiteer (while hoping we would stay in the EU); other politicians who were for staying in the EU up until June 23rd but now say we must Leave at all costs because it as “the will of the people” regardless of the harm they know it will do those very people.

Yes, there were some who have deep, honest & long-standing view that the UK will be better off out of the EU.  I may not agree with them but I can respect their views.  I can even debate with them (sadly not on facts as there are no objective facts that support a case for leaving the EU) about whether sharing UK sovereignty with the other EU member nations is a good idea or not.

However, such people were not the leaders of the Leave campaigns, many of who were opportunistic carpetbaggers trying to forward their own career & interests while hoping secretly for a Remain vote.

So it is not the British voters I hold in contempt but those who have wilfully and selfishly deceived them and lied to them that the UK will be better off out of the EU.

Save the NHS, reject Brexit

nhsTheresa May is leading us towards a Brexit that will mean we are exchanging the shared sovereignty of the EU, where we are equal partners in shaping the future of our continent, for being a protectorate of the USA, so dependant that we are will to destroy our institutions like the NHS for a few crumbs from the great table.

Outside the Single Market (a British initiative under Thatcher) & the Customs Union, we will be at the mercy of a rampant nationalist America under a President (at least until 2021) who is open about only signing Trade Deals that are skewered in the USA’s direction.

Already May has indicated her willingness to allow US Companies to take over parts of the NHS, what else will she allow in her desperate attempt to get a fig leaf of a Trade Deal?

Meat from animals grown using growth hormones, Chicken washed in chlorine, GM crops are all currently banned for the UK under EU rules but are common in the US.  It is likely that any Trade Deal with the US will mean having to accept them into the UK.

Given that our Trade Balance with the USA is currently in our favour, I can’t see Trump wanting to let to many more UK goods or services in to the USA without the USA getting even better access to UK markets, which will mean weakening our regulations that currently exclude many American products,

When I, along with many others, warn that this was the likely outcome of Brexit, it was labelled “Project Fear” by the Leave campaign and we were told it would never happen.  Now it is becoming all too real if Brexit becomes a reality and yes, it is frightening.

What can we do now?  The Government’s mean little Bill to give May the authority to invoke Article 50 without any further need for Parliamentary scrutiny is up for debate next week.  Jeremy Corbyn has waved the White Flag and said he will demand all Labour MPs vote for it  but all is not yet lost.

You can write to your MP to ask him to vote against this Bill unless there are safeguards added to give at least Parliament (better still the British People) a chance to give its assent to any agreement with the EU on Brexit.  There is an excellent app to help you do this.

Regardless of how their Constituency vote and regardless of how they are told to vote by their party, Members [of Parliament] have a general duty to act in the interests of the nation as a whole; and a special duty to their constituents.  Brexit is rightly being dubbed Wrexit as it will be an economic and probably a social disaster for the UK so MPs must vote against it regardless of a “black and white vote on a rainbow of issues” last June.