Sunday January 29th, 2017. Posted by Alex:

Donny, Theresa and the Brexit effect

In her attempt to pretend that there is enough other “free trade” out there in the world to compensate for the financial hit to the UK (lower wages and higher prices, to you and me) that Wrexit will cause, we have seen Theresa May cosying up to a variety of questionable characters, most notably the xenophobic, Islamophobic, misogynistic, serial-bankrupt, short-sighted, bizarrely-yet-in-fact president Trump.

What does she want? A “free trade” agreement. But tariffs are already low, so what does that mean? One obvious part of the answer is that the UK will have to accept food made to shoddy American standards – chlorine-washed chicken, hormone-injected beef reared on gigantic feed-lots, unlabelled GMO ingredients, meat from animals reared with techniques not permitted in Europe. The list goes on. If you want confirmation, or want to know more, you know how to use a search engine. It’s not entirely hidden, in spite of American gagging laws against whistleblowing in intensive farming, the “ag-gag” laws.

It has to stop!

Thursday January 26th, 2017. Posted by Alex:

When spin approaches lie

When is that?

In Theresa May’s  speech to Republicans she is expected to say that “… as we end our membership of the European Union – as the British people voted with determination and quiet resolve to do last year – we have …” (The sentence goes on with more waffle-words like ” sovereign and global Britain”.)

“Determination and quiet resolve…” – where ever does she get that from? Last year’s campaign is acknowledged by all sides to have been divisive and bitter. It was led by fools, fuelled by lies and by appeals to base instincts. It has left the spirit of Great Britain weaker, more narrow-minded and meaner than it was. On that sad day, a small majority (37.4% of the electorate, about 27% of the population) voted to leave.

The result appalled many of those who wanted to remain, and who are still fighting against the damage. The whole thing was, as is well known, fired by the internal politics of the Conservative party, the Eurosceptics who never managed to accept that Britain is and was part of Europe. Britain chose to join the European project, voting in favour in the 1975 referendum by 67% to 33%. But would the Eurosceptics accept the will of the people and get on with it? Of course they didn’t.

The recent referendum, recommending that Britain should leave the EU, was won by a relatively tiny margin. Indeed, the result is so marginal that Theresa May herself is campaigning and voting against the wishes of her own constituency, who voted to remain.

I fully accept that the words of a speech may describe things in a light that may not be shared by all, and it is both normal and proper to embed and suggest an opinion in the way we describe something. Try these:

“Her decision to move to Bristol…”
“Her bold decision to move to Bristol…”
“Her rash decision to move to Bristol…”
“Her brave decision to move to Bristol…”
“Her foolish decision to move to Bristol…”
“Her foolhardy decision to move to Bristol…”
“Her stupid decision to move to Bristol…”
… and so forth.

But I suggest that to describe the rancorous salad of lies, personal attacks and misrepresentation that characterised the referendum campaign as a matter of “determination and quiet resolve” is so far out of tune with reality that it does border on a lie.

But then, it seems clear that she wants to cosy up to Donald Trump, so perhaps it’s simply a matter of horses for courses.

Sunday January 1st, 2017. Posted by Alex:

Fight for me, Teresa

Theresa May seems to be revealing herself as a Class One “say-whatever-you-think-people-will-like-to-hear-at-the-time,-and-preferably-in-words-that-are-vague-enough-not-to-be-falsifiable-later” merchant. After “Brexit means Brexit” (eh?) and “I want a red, white and blue Brexit” (uh?), she claims in her New Year’s message that she will fight the remainers’ case in Europe too.

Now, I am a remainer, or I would have voted to remain had the British government, in its wisdom, allowed me to have a say in my future. In any event, I think we should remain, and I rather suspect that now that the self-destructive, expensive stupidity of Brexit is becoming clear, many of those who voted to leave, for what seemed at the time to be valid reasons, will have changed their minds. Many must now see that they have been sold a pup, and all in the name of what Gove, Johnson, Farage and their ilk thought was their political advantage. In all probability those who wish to remain are now a majority, though only a second referendum will tell.

Therefore, Mrs May, I’d like to ask you what you mean; what is it that I, as a remainer, want that you will fight for? Oh, you don’t want to give a running commentary? Then it seems to be up to me to tell you what kind of Brexit would suit me.

I would like to be free to travel to any European country without worrying about visas, quotas, proving that I’m a fit person to enter that country and so forth.

If I so choose, and if there is an employer in that country who wants me, I would like to be free to work their without worrying about work permits, quotas, proving that my skills cannot be found amongst the native workforce and so forth.

Whether I work there or not, I would like to be free to invest in a European country of my choosing. Perhaps I might like to buy a house there without worrying about capital controls? Perhaps I might like to buy shares in a German company without the same sort of worry?

If I so choose, I would like to be free to reside in that country as long as I wish – to live there, in short.

I would like to be free to trade throughout Europe. In my case, as a translator, it is services that I would like to trade, without worrying about tax barriers and so forth. But I might like to be free to, for example, sell the second-hand flute that I bought some years ago in Ireland to someone in, for example, Britain or Germany, without worrying about tax, customs declarations and so forth.

Oh, and while we were about it, I wouldn’t mind if the laws that governments (of every stripe, admittedly) are occasionally tempted to bring in on the matters above, in the hope of satisfying some portion of the electorate, were overseen by a body with a longer-term, less partisan view. The European Court of Justice, for example.

If you successfully fight for all these, then we will have a Brexit that I would be happy to live with, and even happy to call red, white and blue or any other colour combination that is fashionable at the time. Johnson, Gove and Farage could then dance, cackling, around their Brexit cauldron, proclaiming that they “won”, while the rest of us could get on with living our lives in the most prosperous way possible. That’s difficult enough as it is, after all.

As you will probably realise, at the moment I already have all the freedoms that I have mentioned above. You, in the name of what it is now surely reasonable to suspect is a minority of voters to whom the name “the people” has somehow become attached, seem to want to remove those rights.

It could also be reasonably argued that my version of Brexit, outlined above, is not Brexit at all. Fair comment. But which of those things are you actually going to fight for? Just a tweed Brexit?

Wednesday December 7th, 2016. Posted by Alex:


There could well be several reasons why Teresa May is not willing to say what her Wrexit plan is. The obvious one is that the government hasn’t got one. It may have a flag, but it doesn’t have a plan. Another reason, almost as obvious, is that whatever plan the government has will alienate a lot of people. If it’s a soft Brexit, it will alienate the swivel-eyed Rees-Mogg, Fox, Farage, “leave Europe at any price” brigade. If it’s a hard Wrexit it will alienate everybody who is affected by anything from the availability of jobs to the price of a bag of sprouts. (Not to mention all the taxes that will have to be raised to foot the bill.Oops, mentioned it – sorry!) If it’s an in-between Brexit it will alienate practically everybody.

She is faced by the awkward question of whether Wrexit will be hard, soft, or in between.  Any of those three answers would be bad, and it is still politically impossible for a lot of people to say that the best answer would be the unspoken fourth one – no Brexit at all. To muddy the waters, she seems to have come up  with another idea. Instead of “post-truth”, she is now going for “post-meaning”. The recurring problem with most “post-truth” is that it often still has a meaning, even if that meeting is a malicious lie. The beauty of a “red, white and blue Brexit” is that it means absolutely nothing at all, possibly even less than the famous “Brexit means Brexit”, which does at least carry a strong suggestion that something will happen.

Here, by the way, are some of the guiding lights: what could possibly go wrong?

Thursday December 1st, 2016. Posted by Alex:

Still reeling

I have not blogged since the US election. Why not? Because I don’t understand.

The media world is at present full of gurus trying to explain it. The best of them realise that they are groping  and, like the rest of us, are waiting for  wisdom to emerge. The ones who “know” the answer are probably not worth

Read more… Still reeling

Sunday November 13th, 2016. Posted by Alex:

Free Tesco parking if you buy straight bananas

Laura Leeks was reportedly refused free car parking at Tesco because the only thing she had gone into the shop for was baby formula. According to some jobsworth at Tesco’s, to allow her the free car parking would amount to a promotion of that product, which is not allowed.

Before I get to the point, let’s clear

Read more… Free Tesco parking if you buy straight bananas

Wednesday November 9th, 2016. Posted by Alex:

Second tries and Brexit

Yes, that topic again.

I heard it again last night:

“MPs voted six-to-one to give the decision to the British people.”

NO THEY DIDN’T! MPs voted six-to-one (I’ll assume that figure is correct) to consult the British people. They did that. They had a referendum. An advisory one, as usual, not a binding referendum. We all know that by

Read more… Second tries and Brexit

Tuesday November 8th, 2016. Posted by Alex:

Secret Brexit negotiations – not good enough, Teresa!

Current government and pro-Brexit spin is making a very big deal out of the argument that the negotiations that are presumably going to take place at some stage are like a game of poker. They must not, therefore “show their hand in advance”, which is to say that they would like their policy-making to be kept

Read more… Secret Brexit negotiations – not good enough, Teresa!

Monday November 7th, 2016. Posted by Alex:

Could lying politicians be held to account?

It has been reported that

The director of public prosecutions is considering a complaint that voters were misled by the Vote Leave and Leave.EU campaigns, in contravention of electoral law.

In other words, the question of whether the lies that were told amount to a criminal offence is being considered. Early days, of course, but something to be

Read more… Could lying politicians be held to account?

Sunday November 6th, 2016. Posted by Alex:

Breaking the Godwin Barrier

In the days when the horrors of Nazi Germany seemed, to some people (particularly people who are not German) something far away that could never happen here, it became understood that once someone accused another of being  like a Nazi camp guard or like a little Hitler, this was a clear sign that insults had taken

Read more… Breaking the Godwin Barrier