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If ever there was a right time to tell the EU to bugger off, that time is now

March 22, 2020 Leave a comment

I make no secret of my concerns over how the Chancellor is currently setting in motion a chain of events that will start off by short changing some and end up short changing everyone.

I don’t agree that the policies he and Boris are chucking out each day go far enough and have little doubt they are going the wrong way. I certainly don’t agree that they are equitable, fully considered or that they will help us collectively as individuals, communities or as a Country in any meaningful or sensible way.

What I do acknowledge and support is that no mater whether the measures they are taking are in effect wrong for us or right, they are at least being taken by this Country’s current Leaders with at least the aim that some if not all of our population are the priority – which is at least along the right lines.

What We nor they needed right now is interference or posturing from the EU in any way.

Yes, the UK may technically still be operating under the rules and terms of Membership of The EU whilst the interim, negotiation or transition period continues and goes through.

But as we effectively left the EU on 31st January 2020 – before all of the Coronavirus issues really began, there is no reason why the Supranational Government of the European Continent should now have any right even to attempt to impose its will in this way – when that interference could prevent at least some of the people in our Country from receiving some form of financial help.

Our Government may be right or it might be wrong in the way that it has so far chosen to subsidise businesses, give them grants, underwrite loans or simply pay or take care of at least some of the bills.

But in a time of nationsl Crisis like the one that we are now in, it is essential that our Government has the agility and freedom to make its own decisions and the best ones that it can for the People it is there to represent, as the government of any independent country should always be able to do.

The reality is that the Brexit debate and the issues of Leave vs Remain have now been given a very different perspective about the benefits of localisation that our own policies provide, the disadvantages of quasi and full globalisation that the values underpinning the EUs open borders promote and why independence and sovereignty as a nation doesn’t stop us from having a healthy working relationship with our neighbours and the rest of the world, but does leave the decisions which should always be taken by us in our hands for us to decide.

If there was ever a right time to tell the EU to bugger off, that time is now.

 

 

A Customs Union: Anything that looks so simple and involves the EU will always be too good to be true

Politics 5There have been and continue to be a great many striking things that the Brexit process and the Vote to Leave the EU have revealed about the way that our political system has and at this point continues to work.

Much of it, although hiding in plain sight for a very long time, has come as a surprise to many.

One that has caused frustration, distrust and indeed anger with the Establishment. With the politicians that form a great part of it, and with anyone who has been playing upon the unwitting and innocent ignorance on the part of many of us of how the political world has been working with its prioritisation firmly focused upon only the benefits for those involved.

We have been brought up, taught and indeed conditioned to trust the people that we elect to a point where we foolishly believed that we don’t need to worry what they are doing.

We trusted that other than at election time, there is simply no need for us to ever get involved in politics.

So it is completely understandable that at the point where Brexit has itself lifted the lid with all that is wrong with our broken politics, we now go in search of the most obvious solutions to get the matter quickly resolved.

Ours is a human response and one that is all too familiar. Because it isn’t just the Electorate that looks for the obvious and simple answers when there is a problem.

To do so is and has for too long also been the default setting for the majority of our MPs whenever there has been the hint of real work for them to do in Government.

This might all seem like a long route into a discussion about a Customs Union. But trying to make sense of this term – that even now is being banded about as what could be the common ground between all sides that gets the Brexit impasse resolved – when even the MPs who are being asked to legislate on Brexit don’t actually know or understand what really is involved, is not something that comes easy to any of us.

With a matter as serious and as potentially far reaching as the question over whether we get a Brexit that ctually delivers on the Referendum Result or doesn’t on the table, we have to be aware that a Customs Union and its implications may not even be the same in reality as what the MPs themselves are being trained on.

A Customs Union is certainly not the same thing as we are being told.

Yes, as ridiculous as it might sound, MPs are having to be trained on what a Customs Union with the EU actually is. And a big part of the problem is that for the many of us who don’t understand how government and legislation actually works, the concept of a Customs Union sounds very simple indeed.

To be fair about it, if you were to look for the meaning of the customs union, you would easily find a brief, perhaps only paragraph long explanation.

One that would no doubt outline that it a Customs Union is a reciprocal relationship between the EU member Countries or Member ‘States’ that harmonises tariffs on goods travelling across or entering the ‘EU’ at any location – even if they then travel to another constituent Country.

By apparent necessity, it leaves the legislation covering each and all of these tariffs for the EU to set in Brussels. Their setting is not left as a matter for any individual Country to resolve.

A Customs Union is a key part of the process of removing geographical borders, so that physical checks between ‘internal’ EU traffic are not necessary. Bureaucracy then appears significantly reduced and it can be argued that there is free, unhindered movement of goods between so-called Member States.

It sounds great. In fact it sounds like a no brainer. This is why the concept Remains so popular.

A Customs Union sounds like the right thing to do until you start to consider the wider implications of being in one and think about its true reach and the real impact upon the UK of all that is actually involved.

But things get confused at this stage. Often deliberately. Because a Customs Union itself is in effect a necessary, if not symbiotically irremovably intrinsic part of a Single Market and a key part of the direction of travel for the supranational EU.

A customs union or its namesake was one of the early dominoes in the chain or history of events that led towards where EU law and legislation is located right now.

A Customs Union between the UK and EU cannot therefore stand alone without legislation that is at the very least equivalent to that which already exists within the ‘known’ EU framework. Even if words and the legislation created say otherwise.

No. It is vital to understand that just as a bark wouldn’t come from a duck and a quack wouldn’t come from a dog, being in a customs union with the EU means that we are and still will be Members of the EU.

The UK cannot and will not be able to legislate as an Independent Sovereign State within a Customs Union.

Ultimately, any form of Brexit that includes even the most simple form of Customs Union machinery or legislation is and will be the act of Remaining within the EU. Even if what our MPs – who may actually believe what they are saying – tell us otherwise.

I would like to be able to say that the reality that underpins all of this is also simple to understand. But it is not.

In fact, we have to go right back to the travesty that was the first European Referendum to even begin trying to unravel the direction of travel in what we now know to be the EU.

That was when the ‘Common Market’.or what our parents and grandparents thought and supported to be a simple trading relationship – not massively unlike the explanation of a Customs Union that I have outlined above – on a journey to become the single market and with it the progressive harmonization of laws which go way beyond simple trade.

This resulted in growing mistrust, many questions and above all the decision to Leave the EU. A result that has only appeared to be so near or close to balance, because many still have no apparent reason to question all that is involved.

The term ‘progressive’ is one that has been adopted for a certain style of politics that Remainers often use and one that encapsulates how the EU operates too.

But the political use of ‘progressive’ as a term is actually a misnomer. One that is used to manipulate people into thinking that they are being offered a type of politics and legislature where the only direction of travel in policy is always forward and therefore will only ever have positive impacts for us all.

It all works a little like building a house. Once the house is built, you then decorate. Once it has been decorated you install the equipment. Once the equipment has been installed, you bring in the furniture. Then you move in with your family and to keep things as you perceive they should be, you lay down a few rules.

In this same vein, the ‘Common Market’ or trade agreement led to the Customs Union that then created a shared marketplace or ‘Single Market’. To make sure that the playing field of this ‘Single Market’ was level, it was deemed essential to ensure that all goods are manufactured to the same standards and the same rules. To make sure there is no way for an industry or sector in one member state to gain an unfair advantage in any other way, this meant that the tentacles of legislation then had to reach out to areas like employment law and the European Working Time Directive.

Before you know it, the EU is rewriting the laws that underpin just about every part of life, ultimately creating social problems and changing the very way that we identify as a culture.

And the EU keeps legislation moving progressively to make the rules the same for everyone across 28 very different Countries without fear of consequence because the ideas underpinning this new but nonetheless undemocratic way of doing politics through the de facto and unquestioned implementation of rules is not something that most people see coming.

We certainly don’t understand there has actually been a change when it has arrived in our lives under the auspices of something completely different and much less insipid than the very dangerous truth and reality behind it.

The reality is that we are having our identity stolen by the back door and this process has been facilitated by MPs who should know better.

They don’t because they are ignorant of the truth.

They are only interested in their own glory, rather than having to think through the implications of their actions.

They avoid and therefore neglect a process that we once trusted them to undertake automatically. Because that’s what responsibility to the Electorate actually involves.

It is no use saying that the alternative of the UK becoming again fully Independent as a Nation State will be easier than being a member of and rule taker from the EU because it isn’t.

However, it also doesn’t make it right. Nor does it mean that it will deliver the right things for the UK.

The truth is that there is very little being said by even the Leave side of the debate about the true cost of remaining within the EU and being in any way tied and obligated to it. Never mind the price that we as a Country have already paid.

In fact, the whole Brexit and EU Referendum debate has, is, and looks like it will continue to be very short on facts, whilst remaining subject to the knee-jerk and quick-win approach that has already created so much of the pain that has already been involved.

If the arguments were to be thought out, translated and then effectively made without bias or self-interest, there is no doubt that the argument in favour of the compromises required for continued membership and indeed a relationship of the kind being sold by Theresa May and many on the Labour side of Parliament would not actually be seen as compromise anymore.

It would be seen as being worse than the subjugation to a Foreign power that we have been on the end of for far too long. Subjugation that the Vote to Leave the EU on 23rd June 2016 stated clearly to our MPs had already gone too far and MUST be stopped.

Yet at the same time, no detailed and comprehensive case for Leave has been made.

Without it, the anger and frustration which is now going to drive and fuel a clean Brexit, possibly outside of any form of reasoned control, will not lay the foundations of what an Independent and fully Sovereign UK will then look like.

It will certainly not begin to provide the basis upon which we can then build a genuine and dynamically balanced working relationship with our neighbours in the EU. The solution, result and aim that we must all work for after Brexit has been properly delivered, if the differences that now exist between us in the form of Leave vs Remain are ever to be satisfactorily resolved.

 

The questions of Scottish Independence, English Devolution and voter disenfranchisement could be solved in a matter of months. But control freakery at the top will only pay lip service to genuine devolution and it would be far too simple for them to use a solution that already exists…

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Last Fridays meeting between David Cameron and Nicola Sturgeon will surely prove to be yet another monumental milestone in the future of the Union.

Attempting to take the whole mile after they had been given Cameron’s proverbial inch may well have been Ms Sturgeons modus operandi all along, but the Prime Minister would do well to bear in mind that the momentum is all with the SNP at this moment in time, and especially so when it was the manipulated public awareness of that very fact that arguably put the Conservative Leader more comfortably back in No. 10.

The words of hollow statesmanship may be contrived to sound like the PM is being tough. But the word ‘no’ can all too quickly be overused and the only way that the Union may now be truly saved, will be for the Government to begin saying yes to the questions that the grassroots Scots have not even outwardly asked.

Devolving power only as far as the Scottish Parliament will do much to enhance and progress the march of the SNP towards the Independence which many of us no longer see as being any more than perhaps a few years away if things continue politically as they are. Scotland’s leaders will surely get closer and closer to attaining the level of power that they so badly crave but could never realise as long as they continue to be part of the UK.

But the people, the voters, the electors who have facilitated this Westminster-bound charge will see no real change in the lives that they live. Indeed, they may well find themselves much more poorly off and continuing to be just as disenfranchised, all because another set of politicians have sold them short as currency for their own personal and self-motivated gain.

The sweet irony of all this is that everyday people across the UK feel just the same and just as disenfranchised as the Scots, but do not experience the same kind of tribal feeling of belonging or commonality between people which has been supercharged in this instance by the promotion of Scotland’s national identity.

Nationalism in this sense truly has become far more of a danger to any semblance of a healthy basic standard of living or status quo than even austerity in time could prove to be, and the reality is that the Scottish Question could be solved in exactly the same act as any questions that have arisen about English, Welsh or even Cornish devolution.

So why exactly, are the politicians not pursuing what is arguably the most simple, straightforward and easy to implement solution. One which would connect people with decision making on their doorstep, whilst removing any need for side-stepping ruses like City Mayors. A change that could bring talk of independence to the immediate halt that anyone living in the real world knows is where it should actually be?

When you consider that this solution already exists right across the Country and would have the ability to administer the devolution of decisions that should be made locally, rather than by a Parliament that seems to many so very far away, any sensible person would be hard pressed not to ask the question.

So then; consider that below the tier of Westminster based government, there is not one; not two, but three tiers of localised government operating, with representatives in most cases already elected by the people, who could and no doubt happily would assume much more responsibility for the decisions which really matter to the localities in which they live, if the Government were to relinquish the appropriate powers and let them do so.

Parish and Town Councils are the most localised and arguably most accessible form of Government in the UK. Yet their responsibilities seldom extend beyond buying and locating dog bins or bus shelters and looking after community assets like small play areas, recreation fields and perhaps an historic Town Hall.

Next comes the District level authorities which harvest our council tax and assume responsibility for matters such as Planning, Licensing, Environmental Health and collecting our waste.

Then there are the County level authorities which look after the not-so-important roads, Education, Social Services and interact closely with services such as the Fire Brigades.

They all sound very administrative or bureaucratic and that’s because they are. People vote to elect the members or councillors that represent them on all of these authorities. But much of the responsibility many people understand them to have isn’t theirs at all. It actually reflects Laws and Policies which have been created by Westminster.

The wriggle room or space for decision making which is truly independent of the Westminster influence is scarce within local government. In reality, it is just sufficient enough that central Government can blame Councils or use them as a convenient scapegoat for political expediency. For instance, Westminster happily passes the buck over the true causes of cuts to local services whilst reducing the size of the bottom line they themselves have to account for in the drive for greater fiscal austerity.

The irony should not be lost on any of us that like most areas of government, local councils are being forced to change the way they work to save money, but the powers to instigate the changes that they really need are held back by a distant political elite which is obsessed with monetary cost rather than the real-life impact from a lack of meaningful reform.

As power is increasingly centralised towards London through the sharing of services and amalgamation of local authorities, power is being taken further away from people at every turn and it is this very act which is continually fanning the flames of discontent within an electorate that quietly knows its influence over even the most practical parts of their lives is becoming ever more remote.

The reality however, for those who have worked closely alongside all the lower tiers of government, is that when those rare moments arise when people sense there is a real chance to influence change, the presence of that opportunity can literally electrify interest in local administration and reconnect the electorate in a way that even the phoney wars which serve as our elections cannot do.

For those who have experienced this connection first hand, there can be little doubt that bringing real power back to street, neighbourhood, village and suburban level would quickly re-engage the electorate and have the potential to bring in a whole new generation of politicians from the grassroots level who didn’t simply join a political party one day because they thought they would be a pretty good prime minister.

The question is of course, why is Westminster not using the existing machinery of government to solve the bubbling crisis created by the SNP leaders and the mishandling of the issue of devolved power, when every thread of common sense and voter-centric thinking says that is exactly what they should do.

Indeed, we might also ask why the promise of City Mayors and the creation of yet more tiers of government and the political stooges that will inhabit these roles is necessary, when many councillors are already in place across the UK, who have distinct connections to our localities that focussing power on just one person at a greater distance could never achieve?

For those who have swam around the political goldfish bowl with their eyes open the answer is regrettably simple.

Its all about control, and despite the political system being infested with the self-serving at every turn, you could quite easily say that there are no greater control freaks at work right now than the occupant of no. 10 and the leader of the SNP.

Both stand to gain personally by concentrating as much power as they can within the realms and reach of their particular roles.

To one, devolving real power to potentially thousands of others who they cannot control politically makes absolutely no sense at all. To the other, giving credence to the idea that power should be focused as near to people as it is possible to do so would instantly destroy the dream of becoming the player on the international stage that British politics is otherwise currently only able to allow of the leader of one of the two main Political Parties.

Some would quickly argue that the lower tiers of government are not equipped to deal with real decisions; but that is exactly what they have been elected to do.

Others would say that responsibility needs to be taken by the people who are most capable of using it with the hint of blind acceptance that MP’s should automatically be assumed to be ‘the right people’ to govern our lives. But we might rather ask, who is better qualified to choose those representatives than the people themselves, when Westminster is now constructed of people who did no more than tick all the right boxes for their political parties and thereafter, did not do a great deal more than sign a series of forms. Can we really say that career politicians with no experience of the world outside are really the people we should entrust with the decisions that affect us all in every way?

The danger of Cameron playing power games with another political leader who is arguably far more awake and attuned to the realities of playing the public song than he could ever do so, is potentially very severe indeed.

Empowering existing councils and creating new ones where they don’t exist could potentially remove the need for the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly in one swift stroke. It would undoubtedly answer the question of voter disenfranchisement across England too. But it would also require true statesmanship of a kind that many of us have simply never seen.

The very regrettable and destructive alternative is the continuing empowerment of a different kind. That of Scottish, then Welsh and then potentially even English Regional or County Independence with a widow’s web of bureaucracy and additional cost that simply doesn’t bear thinking about. A concept which may play very well into the federalist plans of a politically united Europe, but would ultimately leave the real power for issues that matter to real people in their everyday lives, lying in the hands of a majority of non-elected bureaucrats and foreign politicians who were neither born here, nor have nor ever will live anywhere within our great and currently unified land.

 Top image thanks to http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk 

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