Should the Lords have stopped Brexit?

by Ray_North on February 27, 2017

UnknownThere is an unfortunate irony that, sadly, one of the most interesting periods in national and international politics has coincided with us here at Allthatsleft going into self-imposed stasis.

I write this, because I’ve been considering just how bad things could get – I write this because things that seemed absurd only a year or so ago now seem horribly possible: institutional and governmental racism; the break up of NATO and the EU; a strange Russian/American pact dominating politics in the Middle East; the death of the Labour Party; a breakdown in the reporting of honest factual news.

It’s awful.

I wonder aloud, what event might send me to the barricades. Would I man the barricades in defence of the EU? Would I man the barricade in opposition to Donald Trump? I don’t know. But, perhaps, in these times where it appears that our world is becoming increasingly dominated by people who are acting with an utter contempt for democracy, then it is the very levers of democracy that we must defend, because without democracy, accountability and a proper separation of powers, then Donald Trump and his like will dominate without even breaking a sweat.

Last week, the House of Lords debated Brexit and the triggering of Article 50. Predictably the level of debate in terms of passion and knowledge was far superior to that heard in the Commons. But, what troubled me was the idea held by those who tried to derail the Bill that somehow the Lords could overturn the result of a referendum where the people had declared a desire for a certain course of action.

Don’t get me wrong, my view is unchanged, Brexit is the biggest disaster that has befallen this country since the 1930s. The debate was dominated by lies and threats with a cruel undercurrent of racism and bigotry. Politically it was ill-conceived, a desperate political con trick dreamt up by a Prime Minister who was treating our country like a roulette wheel; economically and socially it is a mess, plunging the next generation (at least) into massive uncertainty.

But, in terms of process, it was sound. The Referendum Bill was brought before Parliament by the democratically elected government, it was passed in Parliament and went before the people. The people voted. There is no provision in our electoral law to prevent one party or other in a referendum from disseminating misinformation (there is in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa), nor is there any provision to re-run a referendum because the debate was poor and no one had a clue what Brexit actually meant and that now, in the cold light of day, it’s clear that the question that was posed to the people was completely unsuited for the hugeness of the task.

If Brexit has shown us anything, it is that now more than ever we need politicians and journalists who are intelligent enough, honest enough and diligent enough to hold our government to account. The standard of reporting during Brexit was woeful (often by intent rather than incompetence), and this failure together with the preponderance of nonsense that appears on Twitter and Facebook masquerading as news or fact is really troubling. But, the journalists are not the only ones who are to blame, the failure of the Official Opposition to put together a coherent argument about Brexit is scandalous.

But, these are things that can be improved. And one way in which they can be improved is if politicians and journalists start treating the electorate with a certain amount of respect by presenting them with proper honest argument rather than the soundbites, slogans and rhetoric that has become commonplace.

And that’s important.

And, it is why it is right that the Brexit Bill was not derailed in the House of Lords as the very fact that an unelected chamber might have been able to overturn the result of a lawful referendum is absolutely preposterous. The result would have been an even greater erosion of our democracy, an already disaffected electorate would have been appalled, quite rightly asking themselves what is the point of voting on anything if their declaration can be overturned by an unelected second chamber.

Sadly, Brexit is a total mess, but it’s hard to think of a way in which it can be properly halted, slow-down, changed, or even influenced. But, in these turbulent times, the last thing that anyone should contemplate is using the deficiencies in our democratic institutions to undermine the voice of the people regardless of how mistaken that voice may be – because that way lies a future that is desperately scary and desperately uncertain, a future where extremists, dictators and fascists suddenly become a possibility rather than a nightmare.

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Trumpton, USA – A Place Called Hate

by Charlie_East_West on January 31, 2017

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“I still believe in a place called Hope.”
~ Bill Clinton, 1992.

In America 2017, hope has left the building. Hate has walked in, pimped out the White House with gold furnishings and started a real life version of Lord of the Flies.

Obama was in the White House for 8 years, and managed to navigate the pitfalls of presidential incumbency without embarrassment, scandal or loss of dignity. Trump has been in the White House for less than two weeks and already the new administration is acting like it is the last days of Saigon.

We live in discombobulating times. We are witnessing a surge of right wing populism across the Western world that is unparalleled since the 1930s. This form of populism has been conveniently repackaged and rebranded as the “alt-right”, but this is a smokescreen for what it really is, namely, white supremacism or even fascism.

Despite the rebranding of fascism under the moniker of “alt-right”, we are witnessing similarities along the historical curve shown in the 1930s:-

- Financial crash
- Austerity
- Decline in living standards
- The rise of right wing populism
- Xenophibic nationalism
- Hatred of “others”

We need to think this through before it is too late. Because history has shown us that this story doesn’t end well. History of this sort should never be allowed to repeat itself.

There are however, some naunced differences. We now live in a world where the Chancellor of Germany warns the President of the United States that he is contravening Geneva Convention.
History has turned on its head.

Trump has started his presidency like a bull in a china shop. He has issued a stream of executive orders that violate the human and civil rights of people firmly established by common decency, founding values, the law and the U.S. Constitution.

Unlike most politicians, he is actually implementing what he promised on the campaign trail. The wall, Muslim ban (albeit through selective county by country banning that avoids countries that house many of his businesses) and overseas abortion aid cuts have already had the ink spilled from his pen through signature by executive order.

These are huge issues that are being pushed through without due diligence or understanding of process or a need for parliamentary or legal scrutiny. Therefore, what needs to happen right now is a strong will against Trump’s actions from the leaders of the global community.

Theresa May had so far failed to do this. Backed into a corner due to Brexit, she is being compicit by her desperate need to cut a free trade deal with America. After her toadying hand holding performance with Trump, she is creating the impression that she prioritises a grovelling trade deal with America as of more importance than standing up to a fascist.

Throughout history, Britain has taken the lead in standing up to fascism. Theresa May is betraying our proud heritage with her appeasement. Shame on her.

Trumpism is not something that can be appeased and swept under the carpet because it’s good for business to do so. He is in the most powerful office in the world, and such, he must be scrutinised, and called out to when he fails on policy or bullies soft targets into submission.

Right wing sympathisers, supporters and the politically naive claim that “It’s all going to be ok.” or “Its all just liberal fake news” or “The Republicans won’t let him destroy the GOP.”

This denial and apathy is not enough. Trump’s executive orders will have an immediate impact both within America and throughout the rest of the world. For example, the Muslim ban could very well result in a rise of islamophobia hate crimes in America or Syrian refugees being tortured or murdered when they return to their homeland.

Bizarrely, those who are Pro-Life/anti-abortion and anti immigration appear to think that the life of a feotus is of more importance than a child fleeing almost certain death from tyranny and war in Syria.

None of this is good, apart from an idealistic thought that springs to mind. Perhaps I am being naive, but just maybe Trump will inadvertently create a force for good. He may become the catalyst for the world to wake up from watching reality TV and take collective action to end right wing populism. However, this is unlikely. The fascists are in charge and they are not going to relent without an enormous fight.

Let’s call it for what it is. This is gangsterism politics. It is a coup against civil liberties. The words written on The Statue of Libery, that represented a founding value of America and immigration are being shredded:-
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

Hope has left America. All we are left with is Trumpton, USA – A place called hate.

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#1089: 2012, Viv Albertine, Confessions of a Milf

January 31, 2017

Last weekend, the lads of All That’s Left went away for a weekend in the country. As well as drinking what the experts tell us is the safe amount of alcohol for a month over 36 hours, there was a lot of music. One of my picks was this, my favourite find so far of […]

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Labour: dying before our very eyes

December 9, 2016

Another week, another by-election where the Labour Party candidate has seen his vote decrease. This week its Sleaford, where Labour eventually finished fourth behind UKIP and the stirring Lib-Dems. Should those of us on the left be nervous about this? Too right we should. Labour is currently embroiled in a slow and painful descent towards […]

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Can a Democrat be Elected as President in 2020?

December 8, 2016

Last month, the Democrats faced the most unpopular presidential candidate in the last thirty years, and lost. The victory of someone as dangerous as Trump against such an experienced figure as Hillary Clinton, the unexpected nature of the outcome by most commentators and the fact that she won the popular vote by over 2.6m have […]

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#1088: 2016, Leonard Cohen, You Want It Darker

December 6, 2016

It seems like years ago since I last posted a song. And, it’s true, in that time, much seems to have happened, and most of it seems to have been bad. One of the worst things has been the death of Leonard Cohen – one of the true giants, a poet, a musician, a legend, […]

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Speeding Down To Trump-ton

December 3, 2016

We are only 48 days away from the beginning of the Presidency of Donald Trump. For me the very idea still seems so absurd as to be almost conceptually impossible. How could any electorate vote for someone so singularly ill-suited for office? But as every day goes by with more freak show appointments from the […]

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#1087: 1978, Kate Bush, The Man With The Child In His Eyes

December 2, 2016

2016 really has been a godawful year in so many ways.   Perhaps the winner of the ‘worst year since the Second World War’ competition.  Politically – Brexit, Trump, the Labour Party descending into an unelectable leftist cult, the rise and rise of Marine Le Pen in France.  Artistically – the deaths of David Bowie, […]

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What does the Richmond Park By-Election tell us?

December 2, 2016

I don’t know what to make of Zach Goldsmith – man of principal or man of huge arrogant ego? A couple of years ago, I’d have given him the benefit of the doubt and plumped for the former, but, after his mindless London Mayoral campaign, I feel that perhaps Zach Goldsmith is just a poor […]

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Cine-East Film Club Presents #70: 1964, Dr Strangelove (or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb) (Stanley Kubrick)

November 30, 2016

General Jack D Ripper: ‘Mandrake, have you ever seen a commie drink a glass of water?’ Group Captain Mandrake: ‘Well, no, I can’t say that I have’ Three weeks after the US Presidential election, it is still hard to come to terms with the fact that the American electorate (or at least that part of […]

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‘Taking Our Country Back’: A Day in the Life of Nigel’s Slogan

November 18, 2016

Perhaps it’s the lawyer in me, but I’m not a big fan of slogans – Making America Great Again: how? And what do you mean by ‘great’? Working Hard and Playing By the Rules – don’t even get me started on that load of nonsense. But, what is perplexing me, and has indeed perplexed me […]

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Too Much Polling Can Make You Blind

November 15, 2016

If it had happened once, then ok, maybe they could be forgiven, but in the last few years, pollsters have consistently fed us information that has at best been unhelpful, and at worst, down right wrong. The last general election was too close to call they said – no it wasn’t, the Tories won quite […]

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The rise of the Alt-Right: This is not normal

November 15, 2016

John Oliver laid into the result of the US Presidential election, on The Last Night Tonight he said, “A Klan-backed misogynist internet troll is going to be delivering the next State Of The Union address. This is not normal. It is fucked up.” Exactly. We have got to a point where major elections or referendums […]

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Lazy assumptions about Trump and Brexit voters is bigotry on the other side of the coin

November 11, 2016

One of the most disturbing themes to come out from the post Brexit and post Trump landscapes is the lazy assumption that all Brexit / Trump voters are bigots. While I don’t agree with their direction of vote, I am uncomfortable with a narrative that moves towards the demonising of all Brexit/Trump voters. Such assumptions […]

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Brexiters Voted Our Country Down

October 13, 2016

Damn us Remainers for expressing concerns based on factual evidence on the economic alarm bells ringing since the EU referendum. We now have a pound sinking faster than Donald Trump’s election prospects, inward investment flatlining, a slump in the housing market, inflation concerns, increasing retail prices and tax revenue decline concerns as a result of […]

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#1086: 2016, Kate Tempest, Europe Is Lost

October 10, 2016

Pretty good angry analysis of so much of what’s going wrong from the poet/rapper Kate Tempest. I’m usually a bit more positive but quite hard when you put it like this and with everything going on. “I can’t see an ending at all, only the end” Um…

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Post Brexit, the future is…… Australian!

September 22, 2016

G’Day Sport! Throw another snag on the barbie and open us a tinny. We had better get used to it, because the future of Britain is no longer dependent upon our relations with Europe, but, according to the Government and the Brexiters, Australia. Yep, fear not – the fact that the EU is showing no […]

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It is getting scary now – Donald Trump might win

September 15, 2016

2016 is proving to be a shit year. Our iconic celebrities are dying, the Tories have no real opposition and don’t even get me started on Brexit. There is enough shit news out there at present but potentially even worse is to follow. I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but Donald […]

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#1085: 2016, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Skeleton Tree

September 15, 2016

When Nick Cave’s 15 year old son Arthur died of head injuries after falling from a cliff last July, a parent’s greatest fear and worst nightmare became so horribly real for him. After a period of private mourning, Cave has now released a breathtakingly beautiful, grief-strewn album about the tragic loss of his son. A […]

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The boundary changes aren’t just about party politics

September 15, 2016

If we’ve learned one vital from the Brexit debate, it’s that the people of the UK are profoundly underwhelmed by our democracy – the prevailing feeling from the doorstep was that not only did people have little confidence in Europe, but, but they didn’t have a great deal of confidence in Westminster either. People felt […]

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Northern Ireland Boundary Proposals: Good News For Sinn Fein?

September 12, 2016

Tuesday sees the Boundary Commissions for England and Wales publish their draft recommendations for the Parliamentary constituency boundaries for the next general election. But as a taster, Norther Ireland’s commission published their draft recommendations a week earlier. These appear to offer good news for Sinn Fein, less good news for the Ulster Unionist Party and […]

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Back Of The Net Special With Ray North – The Legendary Pre-Season Preview

August 17, 2016

Ok – it’s a week late, but I’ve been on holiday, and there’s been the Olympics and, well, you know, life gets in the way. But, I’ve now got five minutes to spare and can share my thoughts on what I think will be the most interesting football season, since, well, since the last one. […]

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…..Meanwhile, back at Lib-Dem Headquarters…….

August 15, 2016

Everything should be going really well…. shouldn’t it? Er no. Despite the fact that the Labour Party is in absolute disarray, the Tories have conducted a swift, but bloody civil war, and half the nation (well almost) has decided that it is in favour of Europe, the Lib-Dems are still struggling. Opinion Polls last week, […]

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#1084: 1980, Grace Jones, Private Life

August 10, 2016

There are great albums and then there are very good albums. For me, truly great albums are a pantheon of about 50 or so and few artists record more than one. For example, taking The Beatles, Revolver, Abbey Road and Sergeant Pepper are great albums whilst Help, Rubber Soul and The White Album are very […]

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The Republicans Can’t Dump Trump

August 8, 2016

As Donald Trump’s chances of becoming the 45th President of the United States have plummeted over the last ten days (13 points behind Hillary Clinton among likely voters in the latest Monmouth University poll released today) there has been growing speculation that the Republican Party might need a Plan B to stay in the running. […]

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#1083: 2009, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Home

July 25, 2016

We had a couple of days of sunshine up here – which was strange as it was July, school holidays and up here, is North Wales where things don’t tend to get sunny. What was even stranger was that the sunshine co-incided with me having a few hours off work – so, I decided to […]

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Jeremy Corbyn and the Cult of Personality

July 25, 2016

Battle is joined. After Angela Eagle had the balls to step up and challenge Corbyn for the Labour leadership and then nobly stood aside for Owen Smith so there was a unity challenger, we now have maybe the last chance to save the Labour Party as a coherent political force. Something that after Brexit and […]

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Cine-East Film Club Presents #69: 1971, Wake In Fright (Ted Kotcheff)

July 23, 2016

John Grant: ‘What do you do?’ Doc Tydon: ‘I drink’ The title is misleading. This is not a horror movie. Well  maybe it is in a way, but it is certainly not a horror movie in a traditional sense. There isn’t actually a bad character in it, let alone an evil one. Pretty much every […]

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#1082: 1977, Suicide, Ghost Rider

July 23, 2016

Last week saw the sad death of Alan Vega, the lead singer of New York electronic punk act, Suicide, who have so far never had a song in Songs To Learn and Sing. With their minimalistic electronic sounds and repetitive drum machine backing, Suicide were in their way almost as influential as Kraftwerk. Famous for […]

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Euro 2016: Well done Wales and why England are so woeful….

July 18, 2016

Let’s take some brief morsel of respite from our increasingly bizarre world and consider the recent European Football Championships. I predicted before the competition that the last four would comprise of Poland, Italy, Germany and France – I got two right, but the Poles and Italians, who both looked good in the group stage, perished […]

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