Tag Archives: Boris Johnson

Ireland and Brexit

EU's chief Brexit negotiator Barnier and Britain's Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union Davis attend a meeting in BrusselsThe UK’s Brexit negotiation team has been so fecklessly incompetent that their EU-27 counterparts thought this was a pretence and must be a trap.

The July photograph of the British team (on the right) sitting at the negotiation table without any briefing papers in front of them, while the EU team (on the left) all have a stack of paperwork, looks emblematic of the UK government’s lack of preparation. (According to British diplomats, David Davis’s papers were still in his bag at the time the photo was taken.)

The recent confirmation that the UK government will be paying the EU fifty billion or so, pretty much what the EU initially said the UK would have to pay to finalise the UK’s liabilities before Brexit, had Brexiteers Iain Duncan Smith and Nigel Farage squealing loudly that this was too much, that Theresa May and David Davis should have taken a harder line and refused to pay anything.

But with regard to the fifty billion bill, the only difference between a competent team of Brexit negotiators and the current crowd, is that a competent team would have realised last year that the UK had no choice about discharging our liabilities to the EU if the Brexit date was set before the end of the 2014-2020 budget period: would have taken that into consideration when deciding just when to invoke Article 50: and would have come to the table in Brussels prepared to dicker over exact amounts, not wasting time arguing that nothing at all should be paid. As far as we can tell, Theresa May and David Davis did none of these things.

Of course, a competent Prime Minister with a solid if small majority, wouldn’t have called a General Election after invoking Article 50, thus wasting three months of negotiation time – and losing her majority to be dependent on the DUP.

As a reminder: after June 2017, the Tories have 315 seats and are the largest single party: because Sinn Féin (7 seats) don’t sit in the Commons, and the Speaker doesn’t vote, an effective majority for the government is 322 and a formal majority is 325: the DUP have 10 seats. If all MPs of all other parties vote together, they muster 311 votes. So the DUP, the unionist and Brexiteer party in Northern Ireland, literally hold the balance of power in Parliament.

The issue about paying the EU billions to discharge the UK’s budget liabilities wasn’t even worth arguing about: the UK’s only leverage was to refuse to pay it and suffer hard Brexit, which would be catastrophic for the UK but only moderately damaging for EU-27.

Hugh Orde, former Chief Constable of Northern Ireland, on the Irish Border and BrexitThough some news reports described the problem of the Irish border as “unexpected”, the Irish border and the end of the Good Friday Agreement, was always going to be hugely difficult, and with the DUP in a confidence-and-supply arrangement to prop up the Tories, has probably become unresolvable by the current government.

I had initially here written a few hundred words summarising the history of Ireland in relationship to Britain, but Waterford Whispers points out that the UK public would most likely only believe it if it was written on the side of a bus. That’s probably true.

So, while it’s tempting to outline how the government of Confederate Ireland (1642-1649) was bloodily smashed by Oliver Cromwell and estates owned by Irish Catholics were then confiscated and redistributed to Protestant incomers, how the Penal Laws, enacted by the Protestant-dominated Parliament of Ireland that resulted from the land confiscations, ensured that Irish Catholics should become poor, be uneducated, banned from public office, and denied the right to serve in the army (a potential career path for even the poorest/most uneducated of men), and how “Irish jokes” which portray Irish people as stupid and ignorant, arise from the need of the English and the Irish Protestants to believe that it was okay to keep Irish Catholics poor and uneducated because they were naturally stupid: how after the Parliaments of Ireland and Britain were merged in 1801, while people in Ireland were starving during the Great Famine (1845-1852) in Westminster MPs debated on whether it would be right to provide food to the starving. But that would make this a very long blog post.

Even dealing with the 20th century only, there is the rebellion put down in 1916, two wars immediately after WWI ended and Sinn Féin won the general election in Ireland by a landslide and proclaimed the Irish Declaration of Independence in January 1919: the treaty accepted by the majority of the Dáil for the Partition of Ireland: and the formation of the Irish Free State, later the Republic of Ireland, and the separation of the six counties of Northern Ireland, which in 1922 and thereafter is part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Although the Troubles are dated in British history as beginning 5th October 1968, the cause was systematic gerrymandering for decades to ensure that Catholics in Northern Ireland were cooped ip in slums so that in local authority areas where Catholics were numerically in the majority, Protestants had a majority on the local government councils.

Thank you for your attention: let us move on to the present day.
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Filed under Brexit, Economics, EU referendum, European politics, Human Rights, Poverty, Religion

Turn Left

Theresa May: If I lose just six seats....In fairness, Theresa May never said what would happen if she lost 13 seats.

But here we are.

The Conservative Party has 317 seats in the House of Commons: even allowing for the 7 Sinn Féin MPs who never take their seats, the Tories are five seats short of a majority.

Labour, the SNP, the Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru, and the Green Party, have between them got 314 seats.
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Filed under Brexit, EU referendum, GE 2017, GE2015, Scottish Politics

No, Boris. No.

For those that need the warning, references to child abuse under the cut.

Boris Johnson sweeps all the concern about child abuse out of the way. The real tragedy, says the Mayor of London, is that for about a week, Alastair McAlpine was being mistakenly named on Twitter as the man who’d raped boys from the Welsh care home, when it wasn’t him, it was probably his cousin, Jimmie McAlpine, who died in 1991. (Oh, and David Mellor thinks a child abuse survivor is a weirdo and the Daily Mail thinks it appropriate to do one of their hatchet jobs on Steven Messham.)

Boris Johnson: Smearing an innocent man’s name is the real tragedy here:

To call someone a paedophile is to consign them to the lowest circle of hell – and while they are still alive. It follows that you should not call someone a paedophile unless you are pretty sure of your facts. It is utterly incredible that the BBC’s flagship news programme decided to level this poisonous allegation against Lord McAlpine when it had not the slightest evidence to support its case. It was sickening yesterday morning, at 7am, to hear the BBC radio newscaster claim – as if it were some kind of mitigation – that Newsnight did not “name” McAlpine. Is it really claiming that it protected his identity?

How many times will we need to say it?

Alistair McAlpine’s hurt feelings at being mistaken for his cousin, or however it happened that the police told Steven Messham that the man who’d abused him was Lord McAlpine so many years ago, are not a tragedy.
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Filed under Children, In The Media

The IOC owns Boris and Google is on their side

“International Olympic Committee has reviewed your dispute and reinstated its copyright claim on your video, “Boris dancing to the Spice Girls”. – LatentExistence

It’s a remarkable best of times, worst of times situation in terms of information and media. On one level you have this unbelievable democratization of platforms that’s happened. Thought experiment: Say I’m a tenured professor at Princeton in 1980. I’m in humanities, so I’m not yet on email. And I want to tell 500 people about something. It’s a massive logistical problem, even for someone with a lot of social capital. You put up a sign in the faculty break room? You knock on doors? You flyer cars? Every teenager in Harlem now has that reach. Instantaneously. – Chris Hayes

The founders of the Internet and the World Wide Web created a platform that potentially, anyone can use. Quite deliberately, I don’t use GooglePlus. I do use Gmail (who doesn’t?) but if WordPress is ever bought by Google I will switch to some other blogging platform extremely fast.
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Filed under Blog Housekeeping, In The Media, Internet, Olympics

The Day After The Count

My new rules for a better election system.

I think the STV system used in Scotland is good even if it does require a computer to do the count, but here’s the next set of thoughts:

If you don't vote, you don't get to complain

One: The local authority in which you live is legally obliged to make sure that everyone who is entitled to vote is registered to vote, and special arrangements must be made for all those who would find it difficult to have a polling card delivered or to get to a polling station. Non-registration of those eligible makes the local authority subject to prosecution.

Two: Everyone is legally required to vote in the first election for which they are eligible.
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Filed under Elections, Feng Shui Kitten Fixes Stuff

If any of you are still Andrew, we can cure you

In 1963, Arthur C. Clarke wrote a story, titled “Reunion”, which has been anthologised and remembered for nearly fifty years because of its punchline. It is, in structure, simply a shaggy-dog story. The narrator is an alien voice speaking to the humanity of Earth, advising us that we are a long-lost colony abandoned millennia ago because of a harmless but disfiguring genetic disease that had begun to spread through the population. But, the narrator tells us

“People of Earth, you can rejoin galactic society without shame, without stigma. If any of you are still white, we can cure you.”

Exgay poster - harmful and misleading advert

Several people seemed to think the only problem with the exgay ad that Anglican Mainstream and CORE proposed to run on London buses was that “liberals” would disagree with it: and objected strongly when Boris Johnson stepped in to ban it, though for some it was undoubtedly more of a problem that Boris Johnson had banned the ads than that the ads had been banned: Continue reading



Filed under In The Media, LGBT Equality, Religion