Before I start, I want to thank everyone who’s asked me about this website in the last 12 months. I’ve been busy on other projects but this one never quite left my mind, and I was always going to come back to it because I care about it and know you do too.
As some of you will have noticed, the previous content has been removed, and that’s because I wanted to make a clean breast of it when I finally got around to the relaunch.
I am not ashamed of or embarrassed by anything that was on here before now; it was leftist, supported Scottish independence, it promoted the destruction of Scottish Labour as a political force for that very reason but towards the end was very supportive of Jeremy Corbyn.
You’ll be seeing more of that.
This site belongs to no one political party; this is why it will continue to shower praise on Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP where they deserve it, and why it will continue to promote second referendums on both the Scotland question and the UK’s place in Europe. We were lied to on both. The winners secured their narrow majorities on tactics that were dishonest and were always going to prove to be dangerous.
It was the No campaign and the way it distorted facts and whipped up scare stories that cast the first long, dark cloud over the work of “experts”, and poisoned the well of our national discourse, just as it was the constant stream of lies from the Blair and Brown teams of 1997-2010 which allowed the Cameron governments and the present one to swell with the ranks of charlatans like Johnson and Jacob Rees Mogg.
You didn’t have to be a political scientist to see where it was all going to lead. The consequences are with us today and we’ll be living with them for decades. Nothing has ever been surer than the Leave vote was and the benefit of hindsight was not necessary to see it, although looking at it after the fact it is nearly impossible to think it could have produced another outcome.
The path towards that had been laid years before, and not by the Eurosceptic right; in fact it was laid by pro-EU politicians who lurched right on the issue in a desperate bid to appease the Daily Mail, Sun and Telegraph reading illiteratati.
He might not like to be reminded of it now – not that he ever is – but it was the pro-EU Peter Mandelson who chose the British bulldog, named Fitz (and flapped when a rumour spread that his name was actually Fritz) to be the Labour campaign “mascot” back in 1997; he also co-authored Blair’s notorious “On St George’s Day we slay the Euro dragon” article in The Sun that same year. These people bottled it from every engagement on this, and Labour is still bottling it today.
Here in Britain, all political activity revolves around a single issue which threatens the stability and well-being of this country, and all of its citizens. It has paralysed our political class with fear.
Self-interest and not the national interest is all that matters to them, and this is deeply disturbing on any number of levels, but what’s most damaging to the whole future of political debate is this insistence that this was “the will of the people.”
The decision to leave the EU was taken by little over 30% of the population; one third of people, many of them voting blind with no clear idea of what it was they placed a cross in a box for, are dragging the rest of us towards a calamitous outcome, and we are told that this cannot be revisited or altered because it is the stated preference of the majority of people in the country. This is one of the many falsehoods – outright lies, if we’re being blunt – that has to be knocked down.
Another is the idea that we must “respect the views” of those who voted Leave, something I wholly refuse to do when so many of them appear to have done so for reasons they only half understand, and when many others did so on the basis of naked racism and the sort of toxic nationalism that is all too prevalent across much of the world, and Europe in particular.
Those who claim we need to “win them over” if we’re to secure, and win, a new referendum predicate their argument on these people constituting some “majority” of the public we have to get back to assure the right result next time, but as I’ve already pointed out this is far from being true. There are many more undecideds we should be focussed on, and many who didn’t bother to vote at all, and who are only now realising what a colossal error that is.
I don’t believe we have anything to lose by holding some of the Brexiteers up for the ignorant bigots they are. To pretend they are enlightened citizens holding perfectly valid views is a travesty and retreat away from the truth, and it would be tantamount to starting the next campaign with precisely the kind of lies we want to drag the debate back from.
And if things look bad here in the UK, they look even darker across the Atlantic in the US where Trump rules by fear, sowing division and hatred in a country that is armed to the teeth and often appeared on the brink of anarchy before he secured his electoral college win. American is now more politically and culturally divided that any time in its history since the Civil War.
Try to comprehend what that means.
Trump’s election was won on some of the most raw appeals to bigotry since the middle part of the 20th century, and that it happened in the most powerful, and multicultural, country on Earth proves that it can happen anywhere.
The consequences for the American people do not stop with the profound, skin crawling embarrassment that ensues whenever this man opens his mouth; his two Supreme Court justices, the second securing a nomination amidst unprecedented allegations of sexual assault which the Republican Party had no interest in investigating properly, will have an impact on that country that will stretch into decades and may undermine, or even reverse, almost everything liberals over there have won down through the generations.
The consequences for the rest of the world could scarcely be more serious; not only is he starting a brand new arms race with Russia, but his bellicosity has come perilously close to plunging the Korean peninsula into war and may yet spark conflicts with Iran, China or others. His anti-globalist policies, his support for the far-right, his brutally direct allegiance to the worst elements of Israeli politics and an adherence to their policies which threatens to unravel the region and his withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement will have to be reckoned with by all of us.
The Paris Climate Agreement itself was over-optimistic in both its goals and its timeframes.
We are on the brink of an environmental cataclysm which threatens the existence of our species; it doesn’t get more serious than that, and I write those words with enormous regret and misgiving but without a trace of hyperbole. I’ve read the texts. I’ve studied the reports. It is not as bad as people in the media and politics are making out; it is worse, by far. We haven’t even begun to deal properly with that issue or the ramifications of it and our political class has precisely no interest in having an honest debate with the public about what that means.
The paralysis in the face of this and other global threats is astounding, and terrifying. We are facing some of the deepest crises in human history and those who purport to be leading us show absolutely no sign that they get it far less how to deal with it.
And yet, I have hope. I wouldn’t be writing this blog if I didn’t.
All around us, there’s more information than there has ever been and not everyone is content to live in ignorance. Not everyone is afraid to find out what’s what.
The people I meet every day and who I’m surrounded by have never been more engaged with the political process than they are now, and the unvarnished truth about what the right represents – a selfishness and violent rejection of even the slightest pretence that they care about the rest of us and which now threatens everything we have as a society and a species – has never been clearer to more people, and they are beyond angry about it.
Across this planet, ordinary people are finding their way to the game and vowing to do everything they can to change the direction we’re headed in. Our species is awake, at last, and millions are focussed on the big picture like never before. The first tremors have already been felt right here at home; just a year ago, when May went to the country for her “Brexit majority” and a license to rip down the last walls of the state, she lost the majority she already had to Corbyn, a guy the media had waged unceasing war on and who many had buried already.
The ranks of Labour have been swelled by a genuine people’s revolution, called Momentum. This weekend, nearly a million people marched in the UK for a “People’s Vote” on Brexit. Here in Scotland, the SNP membership clamours for another vote on independence; with the circumstances as changed as they are, it’s one they believe they can win.
Even the environmental disasters can be largely averted if people make the right choices and I don’t mean switching off electrical appliances they aren’t using. I’ll be covering that in some detail somewhere down the line.
Many more political earthquakes are on their way too; next month Americans go to the polls with immigrants, women and young people getting ready to vote in record numbers and hopefully tip the balance of the Congress and the Senate. Anger is being channelled into action. The right always wins when people are complacent and disengaged.
But the stakes have never been higher, even for those usually content to stay on the side-lines.
And that’s why I end this opening article on a note of hope. Hope is a flower sticking up from the desert floor; it needs watering and care but given those it will grow. What’s needed to kindle it are victories, to build momentum and convince people that change is more than just possible; it is the natural order of things. It comes slowly, but it always comes.
But it needs a lot of pushing. Don’t underestimate the part you can play in that; it takes the collective efforts of many, many, many people to make things happen. But we’ve got the numbers, and we’re on the right side of history here.
I welcome all of you to the relaunch of the site, and I look forward to us coming together and putting our backs against the wheel.
Not for nothing is The Masque Of Anarchy Jeremy Corbyn’s favourite poem; I offer the final stanza, with thanks to the writer, Percy Bysshe Shelley.
‘Rise like Lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number—
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you—
Ye are many—they are few.’
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