BBC Complaint - Planned Marr interview of Aaron Banks

This is a copy of a complaint I've submitted to the BBC about their plans to interview Aaron Banks (the Leave.EU funder now under investigation by the National Crime Agency).

The Marr show is the wrong place to cover Banks. It is too general and get to know you to interview someone accused of serious crimes. A live interview where he can’t be fact checked and be asked to provide evidence is a mistake.

Labour, Brexit and OFOC

I’ve been meaning to set out my views about the Labour’s position on Brexit and the in my view frequently unfair and very often plain wrong views of it from much of the hard remain community (to which I myself align). Yesterday there was an excellent and civil discussion between Femi of OFOC and Owen Jones who is closely aligned to the Labour leadership.

I am a Labour member who has also funded OFOC but was very frustrated recently by the attack posters they created aimed at Labour shadow cabinet individuals that I felt were highly counterproductive.

The thread is here, you may want to focus largely on Femi and Owen’s comments themselves.

My summary of the key areas of disagreement are:

  1. The extent of the damage any Brexit would do and how it would prevent Labour making their desired changes to the country.
  2. The likelihood of a remain success in a People’s Vote.
  3. The possibility of a People’s Vote triggering a far right surge.
  4. The effect on the path of the Brexit process that Labour coming out explicitly for a People’s Vote would have.

Now on some of these points I lean more to Owen’s view and on others to Femi’s view.

I agree with Femi on both the extent of the damage Brexit, that it would be a devastating impact to the country and hamper any government operating and implementing policies in an ongoing economic crisis and European negotiations over then next decade or more.

On the far right surge I don’t feel well qualified to assess the effects but I think the threat of that is not a good reason to avoid a policy that is better in other ways. We should be facing down these movements not bending to them. I’m sure Owen’s concerns are genuine and this needs monitoring and other grievances of left behind areas tackling because it is the right thing to do.

On the likelihood of winning a People’s Vote I sit between the two positions. I think it can be won for Remain but it is far from a done deal and there is a huge amount of work to do to be sure and it is definitely not a risk free course. Possibly because of geographic, social and social media bubbles there appear to be a large number people in the remain and FBPE community that think a victory in a PeoplesVote is a sure thing, now some may be bluffing to build the case to get the vote but I believe too many believe their own hype in this area (I don’t think Femi falls into this category).

Owen makes a number of good points about the challenges of winning. In my view the polls are still far too close, many remain 2016 voters think the vote should be accepted, many people are unaware of the extent of negotiation mess and upcoming crisis which is obvious to those of us in the remain social media loop and there are few signs of massive defections. Owen also suggests that the lack of support from Tory leadership will make the remain campaign harder, but in my view the anti-establishment factor may counterbalance this effect. There are forces acting in the opposite direction, the greater knowledge about the deal and the true nature of Brexit is also a huge advantage. In 2016 many different visions of Brexit were offered, some outright impossible, others just incompatible; when the deal is done (or not done) the reality will be much clearer it will no longer for Brexit supporters to jump between visions (even mid-interview). It is also likely that there will be closer monitoring (if not restriction on) political advertising online that will also help the remain campaigns. There is also a much larger more motivated population ready to campaign which (if they can keep there tempers under control and work on persuasion rather than harassing) could like Momentum really help on the ground.

From my point of view winning support should be remain’s priority, both to be ready when we get a People’s Vote (I’m optimistic on this as I’ll explain later) and to apply pressure to get the People’s Vote but it can be won.

The part of the debate where I’m completely on Owen’s side is I really don’t understand how Labour switching to Remain now actually helps remain. I’ve seen people tweeting (not Femi) that Labour/Corbyn could stop Brexit right now and I really can’t see a mechanism for them to do that or make any substantial impact until the autumn (and even then only with Tory rebels and/or DUP). I’d love someone to explain to me either here or on Twitter exactly what the effect of Labour backing a People’s Vote now. In my view it would be seriously counterproductive to the cause of the Peoples vote and I’ll set out why.

What if Labour come out for People’s Vote tomorrow?

Several things will happen if the People’s Vote campaigners get their way with the Labour party.

Firstly, the story from the government, leave campaigners and the right wing press will be that Labour is sabotaging the negotiation and is the cause of the bad deal that will happen. Clearly this is complete rubbish but that doesn’t mean it won’t stick. There will be a full on and sustained attack at a level that has not yet been seen and it will be substantially effective.

Secondly, it will make a People’s Vote a policy owned by Labour and that will drive the varied voices now calling for it who are now breaking into the mainstream media will increasingly be pushed aside for representatives of the Labour party rather than having both.

Thirdly, it would cause the split in the Labour Parliamentary to grow in a way harmful to remain. Labour kept all but a very few onboard for the meaningful vote amendment but fifteen voted against the EEA despite the whip to abstain. It is very likely that sort of number could be critical in the final vote at the end and the more that can be done to coax them over the line the better. This is a critical issue I’ve seen none of those pushing for Labour to move for a People’s Vote immediately address. In my view the best chance of bringing them across (and bringing more of the Leave/undecided public) with Labour to the People’s Vote or at least to vote against the deal is to move after October European Council when the deal should be on the table (or the failure to have a deal on the table can be called a failure).

Overall I see Labour moving too quickly as being harmful both to Labour and Remain/People’s Vote. As I said above if anyone can show me a positive possible alternative result I’d be very interested for the moment there seems to be a belief that Jeremy Corbyn has an almost magical power that I really don’t understand.

It is worth noting that there are different groups of pro-Brexit MPs in Labour. There are probably at least 3 who would vote against Labour even if there as a vote of no-confidence in the government, some who are instinctive remainers but in very Leave constituencies who may have made personal promises at the last election, possible 

How will we get a People’s Vote?

In my view the crunch will come in the autumn when the government comes back with a deal (or fails). I think it is inconceivable that there will be a deal which meets the 6 tests that Labour have set out and as opposition they would take any opportunity to bring down the government (and this is likely to be the only one until 2022) so Labour leadership will bring as much pressure as possible. The key issue in Parliament is not the Labour leadership but will be:

 - the number of Tory MPs who will rebel

 - whether the DUP can accept the deal

 - the number of Labour anti-EU rebels

Despite this I think we will get a peoples vote because I can’t imagine the any deal that Theresa May can get from the EU will retain the support of both DUP and all of her party. I may be foolish for this belief but I do think that there must be twenty or thirty Tory MPs who are both aware of the damage that the deal will do and prepared to do the necessary to act in the interests of their country rather than their party leadership when push comes to shove. I can fully understand them waiting until the last minute in the hope that their leader will prevent it from being necessary.

My expectation is that there will be a vote of some form against the deal and that will lead to some chaos. Labour will push for a general election but I expect that the Tories will resist this. It is possible that the government will move for the People’s Vote claiming they are doing what is necessary to deliver the will of the people as originally expressed in the 2016 referendum but in reality it is a win-win situation for the government. By offering a People’s Vote they deflect the need for a general election and whichever way the referendum goes they benefit; if leave win the government are absolved of responsibility (to a large degree) for the results because the public has taken the final decision and if remain win the government can say “shucks, we did our best, sorry Leavers”. Now it might not be as explicit as the government proposing the People’s Vote but they could still let it be know that they don’t mind being defeated on such a vote to a few of their wavering MPs.

My Biggest Fear

Now the real threat may be the government doing a deal that covers only a bare minimum of areas and pushing the real and critical decisions back into the transition period when there is no option to remain. This scenario would I think have Labour resisting (not sure how many would rebel though) but I fear that the not-quite-rebels in the Tory party would fail to stand up. It may also be that this worsens the chance of winning a People’s Vote as the promise of the unicorn may still exist. I think the risk of this may be slightly reduced by the big businesses becoming more vocal in the last week.

I’m not sure what action we can take against this except hope that the EU does not allow a deal that will be acceptable too much of the Tory party and that enough Tories do stand up and do the right thing. I think many will, they know that it will be a historic disaster and won’t want to be part of it although if there is any hope of a good result they will wail.

What I Really Want to Know - Femi, OFOC, FBPE let me know your HOW

How Labour/Corbyn can stop Brexit or even help remain/People’s Vote by acting now is a complete unknown to me. I’m not saying that there isn’t ways that it helps but I don’t see them as important.

My Plea to FBPE

Keep calm, our job is to persuade people that Brexit is bad idea and going badly. The hard line Brexiters can be gently baited but for more moderate people whether Labour, Tory or even UKIP try to win them with gentle persuasion rather than getting angry or abusive. Look to Femi’s excellent example. We need those people. The other action you can take is personal messages to your MP (Best for Britain’s advice).

My Demand for Labour

I don’t need a policy change from you but I do demand that you interpret the six tests that you set out strictly, that you demand that all are passed and and if any are failed you act to block that deal in any way you can. Even if Labour is in power you must not carry through a lesser Brexit at least without a further democratic mandate.


May’s Trump Opportunity

Theresa May is unlikely to to be able to talk Trump around back to the international system of rules and organisations and back towards human rights. She is also unlikely to be able to talk him down from the trade war that he has declared with the rest of the world. Without the USA as a trustworthy partner the precariousness of the UK’s currently planned place outside the EU is crystallised and it could become a moment of opportunity to change course.

The opportunity comes in how she responds, either in the closing press conference of the visit or within the days after Trump departs. This is an opportunity for Theresa May to say something resembling the following and potentially go down in history as one of this country’s greatest Prime Ministers (unfortunately from my point of view preventing a Corbyn government).

Things have changed the world is not the one in which a majority voted for Brexit, and this presidential visit has made clear to we no longer have a reliable partner for free trade across the Atlantic, that nationalism and even facism rising across the world and the current US government. Given this changing world it is time to rejoin forces with our strongest allies for a rules based global order, democracy and human rights. It is no longer even clear that we can rely on the systems of the WTO to enable trade to continue effectively.

Given this I have today spoken to my fellow leaders across Europe and received agreement to withdraw the Article 50 notification which I have now done. This means any Brexit will be substantially postponed and for the next few years we will return to our full place in in the EU to strengthen the values we hold dear across the continent of Europe and beyond. We will remain in the EU until at least the next election in 2022. 

Now this does not mean the end of Brexit. We will keep DExEU operating to plan in detail how to implement Brexit effectively. We have learned a lot from the negotiations so far that will assist in this planning and legislation will be prepared so that when a future Parliament decides to proceed the bulk of the legislation can be in place before we again start an Article 50 process. They will also be producing a series of different proposals and the OBR will provide associated forecasts for their impacts especially in the run up to the next general election. The full information will be available for all parties and the public to read an understand.

I realise that this delay to Brexit will be disappointing and frustrating to many of you; this was not the news I wanted to deliver to you but global circumstances have changed and we must adapt our plans. Let me be clear, this is not the end of Brexit; all parties will have opportunities to set out their plans in their manifestos for the 2022 election based on the reports produced by DExEU and the OBR.

The collective sigh of relief that would come from across much of the country including virtually all of industry would audible from across the Atlantic although there would be a scream of rage from about fifteen percent of the country and the right wing press but I don’t believe there would be any substantial civil unrest and the papers would soon return their attacks to Labour. There would be a Tory leadership challenge but I think Theresa May would survive. In Parliament either the DUP or the Tory Brexit ultras would have the power to bring her down but to what end? The outcomes would either be Theresa May with a bigger majority or a Corbyn government for whom Brexit would be a low priority and if they did pursue it (unlikely I think if they went into an election more Brexity than the Tories they would lose).

Well, I can dream can’t I? While I think this is possible and would be good for May, the country, the government and Europe it is still a vanishingly unlikely fantasy and I’ll be out on the 13th July joining the protests against the criminal in the White House. 

Can Brexit actually happen?

TL;DR - Not impossible but probably less than 50% chance.

As I see it now it will be very hard for any government to deliver an actual Brexit through the Houses of Parliament. It is hard to see how the current government could reach a good negotiated outcome with Brussels given the red lines announced about the needing power to make external trade deals combined with the need for a frictionless Irish border and what are the likely red lines of the DUP. On the other hand a no deal exit will bring down the government, whether for an interim coalition, a new election or possibly a referendum on the no deal outcome.

On the other hand it is also fairly hard to see how Brexit could be completely avoided, some scenarios outlined may provide a path to remaining or a very soft exit. 

I'll try to set out some scenarios but these are turbulent times and it is pretty much wild guesswork but I want to illustrate how hard it will be for Brexit to actually be delivered.

Steve Keen - Where I disagree

This post is about me capturing my thoughts about the work of Steve Keen and the those areas where I don't completely agree. It is because I largely agree that I am bothering to write this and explore the areas of weakness I think I see in his arguments and proposals. I don't intend to include a full summary of his main theories, there are numerous videos on Youtube that can be viewed that do a better job of explaining them than I would do and you can also find his manifesto (although some of the ideas may have progressed since then. I'm also in places going to suggest work that I think should be done, I have no expectation that Steve Keen or anybody else will do this work because I would like to see it but it is what I think would help convince others.

I'm a big fan of Steve Keen's work. Both `Debunking Economics` and `Can we Avoid Another Financal Crisis` are excellent, I support his Patreon and have been to a couple of his talks. I'm completely convinced of his core contentions about the nature of banks and their creation of money, necessity of government deficits and the critical importance of private debt and particularly it's rate of change to the economy. I especially like the data based work that showing the corelations and the simulations using highly simplified, understandable models that produce dynamic behaviour that seems to show similar behavior to the real world. His descriptions of mainstream economics are almost unbelivable to me, I struggle to understand how anyone puts up with the limitations of equilibrium analysis as anything other than a massively simplifying assumption to calculate limits of possibility and that they don't include banks and debt in their models is fundamentally incredible but does appear to be true.

My Actions Since the US Elections

I'm extremely concerned about the election of Trump and what it means for democracy and liberty across the world especially coming on top of the Brexit vote in the UK (I'm British and live in Britain). I felt the need to step up and do something, more than just voting at election time. These are my choices, there is no one true way to fight for the future and resist the apparent regrowth of facism (and its less loaded names of Populism and "Alt-Right") across many parts of the world.

Despair and hopelessness is not the answer, those of liberal, left and even centre views must stand up and take actions where they can, however small. Complacency and hopelessness are both forms of acquiescence and will only enable those looking to create hate and division.

I wrote previously about the causes of the Brexit vote and how I felt that I should have done more, now I'm actually taking steps, small though they are. I plan to up my efforts further as the next election approaches.

How much action you can take will clearly depend on capacity, financial, time and emotional and it is important to focus on and look after the people nearest too. I'm not asking anyone to follow my actions but it would be great if you did. Also to focus on the local and within reach and trust that others will take action within their countries.

Concrete Actions

  1. Joined the Labour Party. I agree with the current leadership more than with any in my adult lifetime and we need more than ever to build institutions that can offer real alternatives for change and developement of those parts of the population most left behind, and in particular to reduce inequality.
  2. Supported the #StopFundingHate campaign with Tweets to and in response to John Lewis and others. I've also emailed BMW (I have a car on order) asking whether they advertise in the Daily Mail, Express or The Sun expressing my concern about the pattern of hateful, dehumanising othering of migrants refugees and foreigners generally.
  3. Joined Liberty. I should have done this years ago. I've admired the group for some time and particularly found myself agreeing with almost everything I heard Shami Chakrabarti say on the radio while she was running it. The tipping point was their "See you in court" tweet about the outrageous Investigatory Powers Act (was IPBill until passed, now IPAct) that legalises surveilance powers (and hacking powers) that would make the Starsi envious. I've also set up a regular payroll giving donation to their charitable arm the Civil Liberties Trust.
  4. Also triggered by the IP Act I've switched back to Andrews and Arnold internet for their robust attitude to filtering and surveilance. I moved away for a time when I moved house due to get subsidised installation from BT, moving to Plusnet for FTTC service a year later, I was out of waged employment trying to get some of my own projects off the ground and the costs Andrews and Arnolds at the time were too high for the daytime data I needed. They now have a Terabyte plan at maybe 50% more than I was paying but it has the benefit of IPv6 as well as the freedom (and costs) of not being a BT group company.
  5. I emailed my MP (Michael Gove) to request an appointment at his constituency surgery as I want to express concern about the data sharing with the US under the Five Eyes inteligence agreement (UK, US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand) and ask him to push for data sharing to be minimised and targeted as once it is sent there is no way to have it deleted if conditions with the US worsen. He has said I should write to him expressing particular concerns that he can pass on to the Home Secretary. I haven't yet done that though I intend to browse the codes of practice and construct a response though I don't think it will get very far.
  6. Bought the Better content blocker for both iOS and OS X.

Existing Political Actions

There are other things that I do that are not new, I don't support any Murdoch entities so I would not have Sky or buy The Times or Wall Street Journal. I also extremely minimise my use of Facebook. I do exist on Facebook but I only log in every couple of months and have explicitly (excluding the information revealed by who my network is) posted less information to Facebook than in this one blog post.

I did become a Guardian supporter last year but I withdrew in disgust at their position on the IP Bill. I'm still considering whether to disregard that to support their journalism and campaigning generally. Owen Jones in particular has been doing some good reports.

To Those in Positions of Power

Especially if you are in are in a position of power and influence consider what actions you can take now to create the frameworks for human rights protection. Dispose of unnecessary personal information. Also think about how you could best throw a spanner in the works if necessary, whether by resigning, operating incompetently, delaying responses, causing additional work. Also decide now what warning signs to look for that there is a real problem. It won't be a sudden obvious change from valid constitutional government to dictatorship it will come fairly slowly with progressive steps and shifting goalposts and norms. What once would have seemed outrageous and impossible will seem like a small shift and you must remember what the situation was, can be and must be again.

Tactical Political Lies

There is a dangerous form of political lying where the aim is not to have the lie believed but for it, corrections of it and discussion about it. This post is about the art and power of the lie, it isn't meant to reopen Brexit discussions but be a warning for future cases.

We need to recognise that in a world where everyone is seen as liars that there is no longer shame in lies. We need to fear the world where the middle ground between groups is seen as truly moderate or the location of truth especially when one or more sides are extreme.

Why the Brexit Bus slogans were a success

  1. They weren't a complete lie, there was a gain of truth in a bucket of deceit as it did represent the amount that would go to the EU if the UK didn't receive a rebate.
  2. "Balance" meant the media felt it had to find something the Remain campaign had said that wasn't 100% accurate to report along side it, even though it wasn't the central message on the side of the campaign bus in 6ft high letters.
  3. If you aren't used to government spending and how it compares to actual NHS spending it sounds like a lot of money. And even the corrected to post-rebate figures it still sounds like a lot of money. Creating these discussions about whether it is £170 million or £350 million per week was a victory for the Brexit campaign.
  4. Hundreds of millions is the most that people can really picture and in some ways sounds more impressive than £18.2 billion. Making it a weekly or daily figure made it more effective than just giving the annual total (£18.2 billion is £350million times 52).
  5. The secondary point that the money "could" be spent on the NHS creates at least three additional points of debate to take up airtime. Firstly that the Brexit side can't have any power over that, secondly what else it might be spent on (this brings the assumption at least for the argument that the money could exist) and finally whether it is what any particular politician would spend the money on.
The Brexit campaign changed the slogan from £350million per week to £50million per day to bring it back into the news again. That it was a lie had been pointed out and discussed, they chose to stick with it even when repainting the bus. They chose to reinforce and keep the lie rather than step away, they didn't care that the lie was called out, it was meant to be!

The bus in £50m per day form.

Trump

I feel the Trump statements about Mexican criminals are a very similar case although it may have been less calculated. The response to a claim that most were criminal the media then reported the inaccuracy by providing data on the numbers that do commit crime which while provably not "most" (a very long way from it) may be a big enough number that persuadable voters still get the impression that many are. The existence of a discussion of the number of illegal immigrant criminals is a victory for the anti-immigrant candidate, the more air time it takes the less other stories get, healthcare.

Proper Response

While I recognise the effect and the nature of these lies I don't know what the response should be, either from the media or the opposition. The left I feel is mostly too honest to practice this trick and different wings within the left would attack each other if they used it. I think the best that they can do is to put pressure on the media not to spend more time than absolutely necessary covering the issue.

The media is the part with the power, they need to get better and resisting the manufactured story, quickly point out that the information is incorrect and move on rather than getting rounds of pundits to discuss exactly how it is wrong. If one side to an argument is lying more than another then they must say so.

Interviewers and presenters have to feel confident to call out lies the very sentence after they they have been uttered, and not feel the need to give a right of reply. Only that way will politicians avoid the lies during discussions. As it is it seems that if they put at least two lies in a sentence one, if not both will go unchallenged.

Watch and Be Aware

Vigilance to lies and deliberate deceit is all we can really do but unfortunately they are effective.

Blame for Brexit


Short version

Boris and Cameron
Leave campaign lies (Boris and Gove)
Right Wing Press (Mail, Sun, Express mostly, also Boris)
Broadcasters interpretations of impartiality
Politicians blaming Europe
Governments since the 80’s allowing increased inequality
Myself

Long version

I’m angry and disappointed about the vote for Brexit even a week later. I still hope that it won’t actually happen but I struggle to see which political leader might stand up and say it shouldn’t happen (or engineer a situation for another referendum). I have a long list of people that I’m angry with about getting us to this situation. They aren’t principally the people who voted, I’m more disappointed and sad about that but those both who have lied to achieve the referendum result and those who built the situation that led to the result.

The principal blame must lie with the immediate causes of the referendum and the result. Two Etonian, Bullingdon boys have brought us here, despite neither (I believe) actually wanting to leave. Both gambling the country’s interest for either their own or their party’s benefit. David Cameron feeling the need to offer the referendum both to hold some unity within the Conservative Party and limit the impact of UKIP in the election. I think that he almost hoped for another coalition with the Liberal Democrats who would have blocked the referendum. Boris Johnson on the other hand calculated that campaigning for remain would boost his popularity with the Conservative membership. He expected to lose but with a higher profile and having been on the correct side for most members. He saw that as the route to the Conservative leadership when after winning the referendum David Cameron stepped aside in a couple of years time. They should both be ashamed of themselves for taking such a big gamble with the country, with people’s livelihoods and lives. Their actions, more directly than others I will list led to this, which make break the union (with Scotland), diminish Britain in the world and do much harm beside. I feel no pity for David Cameron, he gambled not just with his future but with ours, not for the country’s gain but the Conservatives. Besides this both these characters will come up again in this blame list for other aspects of the blame.

The Leave campaign told mendacious lies and gave misleading information throughout the campaign. Most clearly the £350 million per week for the NHS. Not only are the payments to the EU less than that (after rebate) but much of that amount is spent in the UK in various ways anyway. In addition to the outright lies there were huge amounts of wishful thinking expressed as fact, the assertions that the UK will get a good deal with all the benefits and non of the responsibilities of a European state which is simply unrealistic; access to the single market will have a code whether it is free movement of people or a potentially increased contribution to the budget. They also accused the Remain campaign of “scaremongering” but the interesting thing is right or wrong the estimates now the vote has taken place are at least as bad suggesting that the estimates were really believed. Boris, Gove and many others are smart enough to have known that much of the campaign was based on lies. They fought a dishonourable campaign and it is isn’t OK. They should feel ashamed of the lies and I hope that they will be held to account by the leave supporters but I fear it will be forgotten or excuses will be found.

The press, particularly The Mail, The Express and The Sun but also to lesser degrees The Times and The Telegraph have day after day for several decades been publishing negative stories about Europe, some spun, some given undue prominence and some outright lies. Of course Boris also has personal responsibility in this area too, almost having invented the genre of borderline truthful stories and even complete lies, to the extent that he was sacked from The Times. The power of Murdoch and Dacre is undemocratic and damages civil society. In my view there need to be real constraints on the concentration of media power. Despite falling circulations the papers have a significant impact in setting the agenda for TV, Radio and online news. It isn’t just the impact of individual articles but the daily drip of xenophobia, anti-European and anti-immigrant stories and headlines that distorts views.

The broadcasters and their interpretations of impartiality are also to blame. The belief that if one economist or businessman speaks for Remain that one must be found to speak for Leave. If the overwhelming majority is on one side there should not be a need to provide balance, in fact balance is bias when it isn’t representative. There was similar with regard to the fact checking on broadcast TV of the campaigns. There seemed to be a need to balance the comments between the sides event when the mistruths were imbalanced. e.g. Leave’s £350m pledge is bad maths. In’s claims that it will cost everyone x per week is well within the range of most forecast but some disagree. They need to be stopping every interview or speech every time a lie is told, they need to give numbers of lies that can different for each campaign or candidate in an election. Too many were left with the belief that they “are all as bad as each other” and that isn’t good enough. Broadcasters must be clear about who is lying most and ideally call out each specific lie. If that interrupts every interview then so be it, politicians will learn that lying in those situations doesn’t work. There is also an education problem about the EU that the broadcasters could help with, there seems little awareness that the most power lies with the member states in the Council of Ministers where the elected leader of each country has a democratic say and much of the rest lies in the European Parliament and between the two they appoint and direct the European Commission. It is a democratic institution and while not a perfect seems like a better attempt at democracy than the UK Britain with the over-mighty Commons, the unelected Lords and the monarchy.

Politicians have been blaming Europe, for all sorts of things for decades, often when it is only an excuse. In other cases I suspect that the British government has laundered unpopular policies it wants to introduce through the EU so that it can be blamed despite the fact that the British government introduced it. The other unhelpful behaviour is the treatment of negotiations where the presentation is of battling over red lines and Prime Ministers acting as if they are saving us from something awful rather than discussing how by working together they can make things better for every country. The EU policy is rarely explained, justified and celebrated by the politicians.

Much of the Leave vote came from disadvantaged areas, there are large parts of this country that have been left behind as economic growth has focused on the richest and on London and the South East. Much of this is the result of government policy and inaction over my entire lifetime, at least back to Thatcher. The destruction of industrial communities, the high unemployment (acceptable cost for low inflation), sale of government assets, particularly the council house stock that has been hugely depleted without adequate investment to rebuild. This then plays into the immigration issue because housing is expensive and council homes unavailable. Solving the employment issue and people feeling prosperous is going to be harder especially with increasing automation of many jobs. My blame in this area definitely includes New Labour which always allowed itself to be too constrained, it felt the need to join the attacks on those claiming benefit, to penalise and in place vilify. They failed to rebuild the social housing, preferring to support home ownership and the rising debt that went along with it leading to the credit crunch (the Torys had the same policy and would have done no better).

And the final person I blame is myself. I didn’t actively engage with the remain campaign, I didn’t go door to door. All I did was wear an IN sticker when was being handed out near work, send a couple of tweets (probably ineffectual as most followers agree or are outside the UK anyway), discussed it at work (between a number of us we persuaded one wavering voter) and with some friends (I don’t think I shifted the couple of leavers although may have reinforced a couple of votes). I could and should have done more which is why I’m on the list.

Short version

Boris and Cameron
Leave campaign lies (Boris and Gove)
Right Wing Press (Mail, Sun, Express mostly, also Boris)
Broadcasters interpretations of impartiality
Politicians blaming Europe
Governments since the 80’s allowing increased inequality
Myself

British Political Parties need Reformation

This post is going to be somewhat broad brushed, I’m aware there are fine degrees and other issues. I’m also not expecting this to happen,

There are three key policy areas from my point of view, Europe (in-out along with immigration), Austerity and civil liberties (vs security).

Current status

Labour is split between a real left wing party that believes austerity as it stands is unnecessary and harmful (Jeremy Corbyn, the unions and a majority of party members) and in the New Labour wing which is the majority in Parliament. They are largely EU positive although some on the left are concerned that it is too much under the control of big business. On civil liberties they have been fairly weak at least since New Labour with a high willingness to favour security over liberty although there are fair numbers who do care about civil liberties.

The SNP are very similar to the Corbyn wing of the Labour party with the obvious exception of their wish for full independence for Scotland.

The Conservatives share a belief in austerity but with varying positions on the extent of public services and spending if the economic times were better. Their instinct is generally to cut taxes before investing in improved services. There is a huge and obvious split on the EU, with a majority of members anti-EU and split roughly in half in Parliament. On civil liberties most lean towards the security side but there are notable exceptions.

The Liberal Democrats are largely grudgingly accepting of austerity, pro EU and lean to the civil liberties side on security issues.

UKIP is obviously anti-EU and anti-immigration, they mostly favour security over civil liberties and I’m not up to date on their economic policy. Farage is very financially

As I write the Labour party is tearing itself apart. MPs have been briefing against Jeremy Corbyn continuously since before he was elected by the membership, union members and paying supporters (I’m one of these). The fundamental issue is whether Labour is to be a party of the left, opposing austerity, skeptical of foreign military interventions or to continue the New Labour direction of aiming for the centre, prioritising victory to then be in position to slightly mitigate the effects of globalisation and rising inequality rather than attempt to achieve true social justice.

Imagined Alternative structure

In my personal view there needs to a party articulating a true left position, opposing austerity and fighting for true social justice. This is critical for several reasons even if it is hard or impossible for such a party to win a majority as without it the other parties are pulled relentlessly to the right. Without a party holding a realistic leftwing position there is no centre for the New Labour type parties to triangulate themselves to, and the risk is that the Conservatives move further right to distinguish and differentiate themselves. It is also essential that there is a party prepared to stand up and argue for the marginalised, whether those on benefits, refugees or other migrants.

Given all that I think that a more natural arrangement of parties would be for the Labour party to be Corbyn’s and the membership’s left wing party fighting for disadvantaged, for greater equality and an end to austerity. I can imagine it cooperating closely on many issues with the SNP, the Greens and Plaid Cymru.

The Blairite, New Labour wing has more in common with much of the Conservative party. I feel that  a centre-right (although they would think themselves the party of the centre) party could be formed; lets call it the Popular Party. I’m picturing it taking maybe 150 of the current Labour MPs and 100 Conservatives. I could imagine it becoming the official opposition, possibly in a highly pro-EU stance working with the Liberal Democrats. If it didn’t oppose Brexit it would push for a close relationship even if some element of free movement was required.

Then comes the bulk of the Conservatives, largely anti-EU, very keen on privatisation and business deregulation. It would probably subsume many of the non-racist elements of UKIP.

Now while this may better fit the political views across the country and Parliament than the current status the first past the post electoral system acts against it and major party realignments are rare and usually harmful to the parties involved. Having said that anything seems possible at the moment and I feel that there has to be a split in the Labour Party. Whether the Conservatives also split may depend on how unpopular their next leader.