Boris Johnson – giving his opinion of anyone who might try to stop him.
If you think the headline – by economist Professor Simon Wren-Lewis – is a bit strong, you haven’t been paying attention.
His thesis is simple:
Boris Johnson is dangerous because he will ignore the UK’s constitution whenever he feels like it. He will use its power for his own ends, knowing that by the time the courts overturn his decisions, he’ll already have had his way.
So, for example, his false prorogation of Parliament was overturned – but not until after MPs had lost 10 days of debating time.
He is merrily saying two different things about Brexit – that he’ll abide by the Benn Act and seek to delay the UK’s departure from the EU and that the UK will drop out on October 31 if no agreement is reached.
We may conclude that he intends not to send the letter calling for a delay, and to crash out with no deal, knowing that the damage will be done by the time the courts are able to prove his behaviour unlawful.
The lesson we cannot avoid drawing is that this government has become dangerously rogue, and the party from which it comes is no better. People are no longer safe with it in charge. In the past, at least the press would have held the government to account, but now it eggs it on. A BBC that also might have told inconvenient facts has been threatened into submission.
All Johnson’s actions and provocations have one aim. He aims to pretend at the forthcoming general election that he alone is fighting for the people against an establishment of parliament, the judges and the EU that are combining to block the people’s will.
This rings true. If he manages to arrange his “no deal” Brexit, he can say it was in the face of establishment opposition; if forced to delay, he can say it was because of the establishment.
(We must bear in mind that he is not referring to the Establishment as we understand it, of course – he simply means anybody who opposes his desires and is in a position of power, enough to stop him.)
The real threat lies in far right thugs and a government that wants to destroy our pluralist democracy. The only way we have to stop a Prime Minister whose over the top language is used in death threats to MPs, and who describes those who ask him to be careful as talking humbug, is to remove him from power.
It is essential for those who want to protect our pluralist democracy to ensure they vote tactically to remove the Prime Minister who threatens that democracy.
Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.
The Queen: It seems she has failed to do her duty in the most unacceptable way.
Craig Murray’s aim is not the same as mine in this – he’s after Scottish Independence and I think the countries of the UK are still better together – but he makes excellent points in his article (link below).
He says the Queen was wrong to appoint Boris Johnson as prime minister because her duty is to appoint whoever can demonstrated that they have the support of the Commons – and he has not done so.
Now, in proroguing Parliament for him, she is offering him the chance to delay the moment when we find out he can’t muster up that support.
This is because his flagship policy is “no deal” Brexit – and Parliament has rejected this policy, time and time again.
The course of the Queen’s actions suggests a specific plan – one which puts her in an extremely questionable position.
The Queen has appointed a Prime Minister who does not have the support of the House of Commons and then has conspired to prevent the House of Commons from obstructing her Prime Minister. That is not the action of a politically neutral monarchy.
Whatever happens in the future, this should end the role of the monarchy as it is currently described.
Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.
‘Italy’s vote is also different because the consequences of the vote are likely to be much more limited.’ [Image: Tony Gentile/Reuters.]
It was a little confusing at first; as the referendum took place yesterday (December 4), we seemed to be getting conflicting reports that a ‘no’ to Matteo Renzi’s constitutional reforms might trigger an upset like Brexit or Trump.
But cooler heads seem to have prevailed – something of a surprise, considering we’re discussing Italy.
It seems the constitutional changes on the table were questionable, and the debate did not focus on the themes we have come to recognise, such as globalisation and immigration (I’m waiting for us all to drop pretence and start calling it what it is – racism).
It seems Italy is set to turn to proportional representation, meaning right-wing populism will not be able to get a firm foothold.
Turning back to the UK, it suggests that we would do well to reconsider proportional representation here.
The ‘First Past The Post’ system has served us up a succession of right-wing governments that have eroded the rights of the UK’s citizens.
Parties that claim to be left-wing have been calling for a change to PR for many years, suggesting that an alliance of the Left is the only way to defeat the Conservatives.
Personally, I disagree with that claim; the Conservatives have been beaten many times – when the electorate’s superficial selfishness, to which the Tories appeal, has been overcome by arguments that Tory policies will not help anybody but themselves.
But would such a coalition prevent Labour from drifting to the political right, as it did under Blair and Brown? New Labour was almost as Conservative as the Conservatives, and most grassroots members of the party are determined to prevent that from reoccurring.
It’s certainly something to discuss over Christmas!
First Britain voted for Brexit. Then America voted for Trump. And now Italians have overwhelmingly voted to reject constitutional reform, leading Matteo Renzi to state he will resign as prime minister later today.
It’s tempting to draw parallels between the three votes. But Italy’s referendum does not mark a political earthquake. Its causes are different, and its effects on domestic and international politics are likely to be contained.
Italy’s no vote does not fit quite so neatly into the narrative of a populist revolt against globalisation and elites. Themes such as globalisation and immigration did not feature as strongly in the debate.
Instead, after Renzi stated that he would resign if the constitutional reforms were rejected, the debate was focused on his own record as prime minister. And while of course populists voted no, many of the other no voters did so against the substance of the reforms, arguing that they were anti-democratic and would have altered constitutional checks and balances.
Italy’s vote is also different because the consequences of the vote are likely to be much more limited.
The vote is unlikely to lead to political instability or the rise of the populist Five Star Movement, as many commentators fear. Renzi’s resignation is unlikely to lead to early elections.
Instead, president Sergio Mattarella will first explore options for a new government. He could give the mandate to form a government to a respected political figure such as economics minister Pier Carlo Padoan, who has just cancelled a planned trip to Brussels.
A takeover by the populist Five Star Movement is unlikely either now or in the next election. The movement may run out of steam, as it increasingly becomes embroiled in political mishaps arising from its administration of Rome and Turin.
Crucially, planned electoral reforms are likely to lead to a form of proportional representation that will make it difficult for any single party to form a government. The continuation of coalition governments will exclude the Five Star Movement, which refuses to take part in them.
What do you think of the Labour Party conference this year? It’s a loaded question and one that is bound to elicit loaded answers.
The propaganda machines of the other parties have been working overtime to discredit Her Majesty’s Opposition, with Scottish people who wanted independence (the minority, let’s remember) claiming Labour lied to them, UKIP supporters adamant that the party is full of child abusers (based on a BNP propaganda website, which should tell anyone with a brain all they need to know), and of course the Tories doing what they usually do – blaming all the country’s problems on the last Labour government while stealing the family silver.
You never hear ‘No’ voters saying Labour lied, do you? You never see UKIP supporters complaining about racism in their own party. You never see Tories calling for genuine reform that helps the 99 per cent, rather than the tiny minority that they represent.
So let’s look at what Labour is proposing. Let’s make a list – because, you know what? Mrs Mike was watching coverage of the conference yesterday, and even she tried to tell Yr Obdt Srvt that Labour wouldn’t keep its promises. If we have a list, we’ll be able to check the promises against what they do, after a Labour win next May.
So let’s see what Ed Miliband promised. He outlined six “national goals”, and he called for 10 years in which to hit them. You may very well ask: Has he been reading Vox Political? Recent comments questioning Labour’s intentions have been answered with the simple observation that it takes time to change the direction in which a country is travelling (or in the UK’s case, lurching), and Miliband’s words echo that sentiment. He can’t do everything in one day. It does take time. Let’s look at those goals.
Halve the number of people in low pay by 2025, raising the minimum wage by £60 a week or more than £3,000 a year.
Ensure that the wages of working people grow with the economy (something that is glaringly missing from the Conservatives’ ‘economic recovery’, meaning that – for the vast majority of us – it isn’t a recovery at all). Miliband said: “What’s amazing… is that statement, that goal is even controversial. It used to be taken for granted in our country that’s what would happen.” He’s right – look at today’s article from Flip Chart Fairy Tales that Vox Political re-published.
Create one million jobs in the green economy – neglected by the Conservatives – by 2025, committing to take all the carbon out of electricity by 2030; start a Green Investment Bank; devolve powers to communities to insulate five million homes by 2025, saving energy and heating costs
By 2025, ensure that as many young people will be leaving school or college to go on to an apprenticeship as currently go to university. It really is as though he’s been reading Vox Political. A long-standing gripe of this blog is that governments have concentrated on academic achievement while neglecting the education of people who have more practical aptitudes. This is a very welcome change.
By 2025, be building as many homes as we need, doubling the number of first-time buyers in the UK. Vox Political would prefer to see far more social housing; perhaps this will come as well but it wasn’t part of Miliband’s promise. Nevertheless, the pledge to build 500,000 new homes should make housing more affordable again for people who aren’t spectacularly wealthy or don’t have wealthy family members.
Finally, to create a world-class 21st century health and care service, funded by a clampdown on tax avoidance including tax loopholes by hedge funds that will raise more than £1 billion, proceeds from a mansion tax on homes above £2 million, and money from tobacco companies. Total: £2.5 billion (per annum, it seems). Some have said this is not enough when the NHS is facing a £20 billion shortfall but we must remember that this deficit only appeared recently and could be the result of Tory scaremongering, or the private companies introduced by the Tories leeching money out of the system to fatten their shareholders. More details were due from Andy Burnham today (Wednesday).
Oh yes, you see Andrew Lansley’s hated – Yr Obdt Srvt really cannot find the words to show how vile this diseased piece of legislation really is – Health and Social Care Act will be repealed by a Labour government. If you don’t care about any of the other measures, you should vote Labour for that reason alone.
So those are his six goals. But what’s this?
“It is time we complete the unfinished business of reform of the House of Lords so we truly have a Senate of the nations and regions.” Considering the way Cameron has been packing it with Tory donors, rather than people of any expertise (as it is intended to contain) this can only be a good thing.
“And it is time to devolve power in England.” What a blow against the Tories who have been claiming Labour want to delay or destroy such a process! Miliband is talking about “devolving power to local government, bringing power closer to people right across England”. That seems to be an indication that he wouldn’t create a new, expensive English Parliament but would give power back to the current councils – power that has been leeched away from them by centralising Conservatives and the previous, neoliberal, incarnation of Labour.
There’s more. He wants constitutional reform. But unlike David Cameron, who wants to impose changes from above, so that they only benefit people who are already rich and powerful, Miliband wants to make it a matter of public discussion. Those who can’t be bothered to take part will only have themselves to blame if they don’t get what they want.
There were promises on foreign policy – to stand up for the UK in Europe, in contrast to Cameron’s strategy which Miliband blasted: “When David Cameron comes calling, people don’t think he’s calling about the problems of Britain or the problems of Europe. They think he’s calling about the problems of the Conservative Party. And here’s the funny thing… If you’re elected the Chancellor of Germany or the Prime Minister of Italy or the President of France, you don’t really think you were elected to solve the problems of the Conservative Party.”
More solid was the promise to recognise the state of Palestine and actively seek a solution to the problems of that part of the world we might call – in an attempt to be fair – the Holy Land: “I will fight with every fibre of my being to get the two state solution, two states for two people, Israel and a Palestinian state living side by side.” Many detractors have wrongly claimed that Miliband is a Zionist, determined to support the Israeli government’s use of vastly superior firepower to eliminate Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank; they had better think again – and look very hard at David Cameron, whose government has done as little as possible to protest at what has been happening.
And Miliband also said he wanted Labour to fight discrimination against same-sex relationships around the world. That may not seem as important to some people, but in some places it is just as easy to be killed by homophobia as it is to be killed because of your religion. Personally, Yr Obdt Srvt finds same-sex relationships unattractive – but it takes all sorts to make a world.
That makes six more goals! Double the value.
These are all good aims. All of them, if seen through, will be good for the UK.
So there’s your checklist, with 12 – not six – goals on it. If you support Labour next year, you’ll be able to check Miliband’s progress against them and you’ll have a chance – halfway through his 10-year plan – to stop him if he’s not making it happen.
Alternatively, you can say to yourself – as Mrs Mike did last night: “He doesn’t mean it. They’re all the same. It’s not worth voting,” or any of the other things the Tory campaign chief Lynton Crosby would like you to believe, and you can sit on your thumbs at home. That would be a vote for the Conservatives to carry on raping your country and ripping you off.
If Labour win in spite of people like that, then they will still benefit from the changes Miliband wants to introduce, along with the rest of us. If the Conservatives win because of those people, then we will all lose – apart from a miserably small band of super-rich, super-selfish, super-arrogant and entitled exploiters who tell Cameron what to do.
Framed that way, it isn’t really a choice at all, is it?
Misjudged: It seems David Cameron has found a way to impose even MORE “bloody imperialism” – the worst excesses of his neoliberal agenda – on us all, using English voters as his weapon [Image: Ceasefire Magazine].
Vox Political is grateful to Craig Cartmell for the following, which he posted on the Facebook page as a comment:
Have we all been victims of the greatest confidence trick of the early 21st century?
Let me put a scenario to you: 1. The current government has been slowly putting plans into action to privatise as much of the government as possible, and under the excuse of austerity and the label ‘value for money’ has managed to get rid of a fair chunk:
– Education is increasingly in the hands of mostly unaccountable, private academies. – The Prison Service is being sold off one prison at a time, and the Probation Service is all but gone. – The Royal Mail was sold off for a song, a move that benefitted a gang of Tory donors. – Billions of pounds of NHS contracts are being awarded to private, and often American, healthcare companies. – The emergency services are next on the list, with Air-Sea Rescue already sold to a private concern. 2. However, there is no way that this programme can be completed within a single term in office. The Tories know that their austerity programme has been exceptionally unpopular, even amongst their core middle class demographic, so it is likely that the 2015 election will be Labour’s to lose rather than the Conservative’s to win. 3. Wales and Scotland are solid opposition territory, and there will be no gains there. So how can the Tories energise the English vote? They need a core policy that will resound at all levels of English society and it cannot be the Health Service as they are busy dismantling that and they would really rather nobody discusses it if possible. 4. The answer is the devolution of powers and the West Lothian question. Now before the Scottish referendum only a few commentators south of the border were discussing the West Lothian question or the Barnet Formula, and only in the context of a victory for the Yes campaign. 5. Immediately after the referendum was won the first words to come out of the Prime Minister’s mouth is that he will hold to his promise to grant Holyrood more powers, but only in conjunction with laying down legislation to effectively ban opposition MPs from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland from debating or voting on ‘English matters’. This will be hugely popular with English voters and could deliver the next election to the Tories. 6. This is a major constitutional change that Cameron will try to fast track before May 2015. He is talking about a draft bill to be in place in January 2015. 7. Remember that the referendum was allowed to happen, and to become a binding agreement, by Cameron. He could have simply ignored the SNP’s referendum completely. 7. So was it allowed, or even encouraged, in order to bring this all to pass? Were the ambitions of Alex Salmond and his SNP used as a Trojan Horse? It would explain why Cameron and his cronies only rode in to save the day with promises of more devolved powers at the very last moment.
So what else could Cameron and his Tories achieve in a second term? a. The repeal of the Human Rights Act to be replaced by a seriously watered down Bill of Rights which shall not hold the government to account. This may also require the UK to withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights and thus the European Council and the International Criminal Court. b. The complete privatisation of all non-core governmental services. c. The withdrawal of the UK from the EU. d. Draconian immigration policies and regulations. e. The deregulation of the financial sector. f. The removal of all remaining employment rights and the crushing of the last unions.
This neo-liberal agenda would deliver billions of pounds in profits for the mega corporations at the taxpayers’ expense. It would drive down wages and further increase the wealth gap between rich and poor. Services would be seriously reduced in availability and quality as each would be run to maximise profit for the providers’ shareholders.
The not-so-great dictator: It seems David Cameron’s government is now ignoring all attempts to hold it to account.
Ladies and gentlemen of the United Kingdom, your plight is worsening: The government now no longer pays any attention to the decisions of your Parliamentarians.
You’ll remember that a debate was held on Monday, in which MPs called for an inquiry into the effect of changes to the benefit system – introduced by the Conservative-led Coalition government – on the incidence of poverty in this country; the question was whether poverty was increasing as a result of the so-called reforms.
Parliament voted massively in favour of the inquiry (125 votes for; two against), as reported here.
We considered it a great victory at the time, and looked forward to the commissioning of the inquiry and its eventual report.
Now that dream is in tatters as Michael Meacher, the MP who brought the motion to Parliament, has reported that nothing is to happen and the government is ignoring the vote.
It seems he is blaming this partly on the media because “it wasn’t reported” – and he has a point; only 2,500 people have so far read the article on Vox Political, and that’s not nearly enough interest to worry David Cameron and his unelected cadre.
This turn of events raises serious questions about the role of Parliament in holding the government of the day to account, influencing legislation and taking effective initiative of its own.
Perhaps we should be glad that this has happened, because the illusion that we have any kind of democracy at all has been, finally, stripped away.
(On a personal note, this saddens me greatly as it confirms the belief of a very rude Twitter user who accosted me on that site earlier the week to inform me that democracy died many years ago, and I was deluded in trying to save it now. What a shame that such a person has been proved correct.)
Here are the facts, according to Mr Meacher – and they make bitter reading: “The chances of influencing … legislation are negligible because the government commands a whipped majority at every stage of a bill’s passage through the commons.
“Parliament can make its voice heard, but it can hardly change anything that the government has decided to do.
“The only rare exception is when there is a revolt on the government benches which is backed by the opposition, and even then when the government lost a vote on that basis last year on the EU budget, it still ostentatiously dismissed the vote as merely ‘advisory’.
“Nor, it seems from Monday’s vote, can parliament take any effective initiative of its own either.”
He said newly-instituted systems that followed the expenses scandal are already disappearing:
“The backbench business committee, which for the first time gives parliamentarians some control over what is debated in the house, is being sidelined and decisions on its motions ignored.
“The promised house business committee, which would share negotiations between government and parliament over the passage of all business put before the house, has been quietly dropped.
“Only the election of members of select committees by the house, not by the whips, has so far survived, but one cannot help wondering if that too will be taken back by the party establishments over time.”
This is, as Mr Meacher states, a major constitutional issue – especially as our current government was not elected by the people but created in a dirty backroom deal, and its actions have no democratic mandate at all; nobody voted for the programme of legislation that we have had forced – forced – upon us.
Did you vote for the privatisation of the National Health Service? I didn’t.
Did you vote for the privatisation of the Royal Mail? I didn’t.
Did you vote for the increase in student fees? I didn’t.
Did you vote to protect the bankers who caused the financial crisis from having to deliver compensation to us? I didn’t.
Did you vote to protect tax avoidance schemes? I didn’t.
There are many more examples I could list.
Mr Meacher suggests possible ways to reassert the authority of Parliament, but none of them will have any immediate effect – or possibly any effect at all.
He ends his piece by saying “the most effective way of making progress is greater awareness among the electorate of how Parliament actually performs, or fails to perform. If the public understood more transparently how the corrupting influence of patronage actually works, how the power system turns everything to its own advantage, and how the genuine objectives of democratic elections are so readily thwarted, a lot of these unedifying practices would have to be curbed.”
Considering Cameron’s attitude to the will of the people so far, this seems unlikely.
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