Friday 18 November 2016

Unicoms (Again)

On 4th to 6th November 2016 I stayed at The Nightingale Centre at Great Hucklow for what was still existing of the Unicoms Conference. I have now completed all the reports to make of the time there.

My own presentation on using Audio CDs in services was cancelled. There are plans to have it next year. The lengthy comprehensive guide is available now.

At Hucklow I (among six others) participated in James Barry's explanation of moving to a multisite version of Wordpress for a denomination-wide arrangement of websites.

Whilst I quizzed him on preferring directly designed and relevant websites for congregations, highlighting what is important, he said that even as a longstanding programmer (PHP and all that) he can no longer compete with the standard provided by such as Wordpress. (This rather questions going to these firms that offer bespoke websites!) Wordpress detects varieties of devices and browsers and appears to look the same everywhere via up to 40 selected stylesheets from which the detection makes choices.

Then I participated in Louise Reeve's presentation on specific church publicity, continued because it was being filmed for UK Unitarian TV. I took extensive notes, and wrote my webpage from these, the handouts and a glance at a sent set of resources of the original presentation made into one .PDF file.

Some ten or eleven attended that. I have put my piece as a webpage in the Learning Area Business and Organisation Section (because it relates to marketing).

Hucklow also included a walk out for filming towards a Paganism element in Unitarian video, but I did not go to that. I did check out an attempt to photograph a changing sky of stars with a body sat in front. It was on a hilltop at Bretton in the wind-making freezing cold, with the additional benefit of fireworks going off. So we went in the close-by pub.Three of four of us remaining for lunch on Sunday made ourselves useful by designing a questionnaire, which I have put in the Learning Area Business and Organisation Section (because it relates to marketing).

If I have any critique of this, it is tentatively to compare doing marketing with the success that is cathedrals and to suggest only that marketing alone is limited. Cathedrals clearly do marketing, and such thinking does not negate marketing, but what cathedrals have consistently is a management core that allows others to be anonymous by choice, usually within a large number or large distance from the core. You can still volunteer if you want. Cathedrals also produce a reliable worship quality. The theology is also fairly standard, if tending towards the more liberal, and a little high. It usually encourages some reflection and treats people like adults. Can these be reproduced in this somewhat different context? How to test for relevance of these characteristics as well?

Whilst it is right to target the most likely participant types, and to become known, there is much to be said for laying the produce on the stall and attending to: quality and consistency, theological explanation, and a system of greeting and letting be for newcomers with information and contact detailing that gives the new person (or indeed any person) space. Information on the walls is such a good idea, beyond a range of leaflets, simply because it involves least activity for the individual who may not want to read leaflets and booklets. Websites are fantastic for that leisurely, DIY, investigation, and thus so important to get them to be good.

Tuesday 15 November 2016

Unicoms (Having Been)

Four of us at the end, six of us most of the time, ten at peak, and a conference of sorts: a very useful presentation and discussion on changes to the Unitarian denomination websites arrangement, a presentation on publicity (link soon), and a questionnaire from marketing principles regarding why existing people started to attend. Much will be repeated and updated next year at a properly advertised conference (whereas the talk had been that these had had a good run and would cease). This would mean me doing the audio CD in services presentation next year, although my pessimism about my continued participation in the Unitarian movement was evident.

Saturday 29 October 2016


I am going to the residual Unicoms gathering for 2016. Effectively the Conference (and my presentation as well) has collapsed and it won't be revived in the future. My ow
n presentation has been superseded by a comprehensive webpage on using audio CDs in services - the preparation long term, preparation weekly and actually doing the activity on the day. There is much involved.

The collapse is indicative, of course, of the perilous winter state of the Unitarian movement, but comes at a time when publicity is all the more important. Unicoms is communication and comes with a technical edge, and the point about audio CDs is when there is no keyboard player.

About half a dozen to ten people will still be going, and some presentations will still be considered. One of these is using Wordpress for church websites. I am interested in this. My own view is that these enhanced blogs are too restrictive for websites and do not allow for the most direct, relevant, design. Pages have to be 'highlighted relevance' and this is only really achieved by coding to order. Menus and choices are vital presentations to give service times, location, and vital ideological information.

You should have a website for all news and information of interest, use a blog for described announcements regarding the website and then advertise on social media with opportunities for further comment.

London Rapid Transit Suggestions

I am not a supporter of an extra runway at Heathrow Airport. I do think the surrounding airports for London can be developed including London Biggin Hill. Goods need moving from Heathrow. What is needed is flexibility and capacity shifts in public transport. I have been interested in this for years, and is why people are surprised at my knowledge of London locations. I've developed maps and routes to enhance the London Overground as an alternative flexible system around the London Underground, with its own distinct colour-marked routes rather than orange everywhere. There is a single line going through Poyle and Stanwell Moor. The latter is hundreds of yards from Heathrow Terminal 5 and could be connected by a travelator. Buses could link the terminals to Wraybury on the line coming south from Windsor.

The maps are in the Localities Area of the Pluralist Website. The updated webpage of routes and now achieved is at and links go to all maps from there. The maps are standard, then with Crossrail 2 in original and updated forms, one set more geographical and one more diagrammatic.

Thursday 20 October 2016

Why I stopped Writing the Magazine

This entry is no longer appropriate and has been replaced by a Webpage on Unitarianism and Me in 2016.

Thursday 13 October 2016

Affirming Instead Religion and Memory

This blog entry is no longer appropriate and some of its material is in the Unitarianism and Me in Later 2016 Webpage.

Thursday 29 September 2016

New Hosting Location for Website

My website dates from 1998. It started on Freeserve, went also to FreeUK (in the days when it used Lenin as its motif) and then some years on I dropped Freeserve and stayed with FreeUK.

Before 2012 (an important date), and in fact around 2009, I had my website across six FreeUK accounts each one needing a dial-up once a month. There was FreeUK Pluralist (was the Freeserve), FreeUK Plural, FreeUK Change, FreeUK Differ, FreeUK Enk, FreeUK Renew. I purchased domain via and ghosted it to FreeUK Pluralist. Dial up was the only way I could upload. I was viewing via Broadband at last, starting with Tiscali (living in New Holland).

Not only was Dropbox a broadband solution, it did not even need File Transfer Protocol, because a set of specified folders and all subfolders were synchronised with the Dropbox cloud. So all I had to do (really?) was put the website combined into a folder and subfolders and it would be uploaded for me. So the domain was ghosted across to Dropbox Pluralist folder in its public folder.

It was not quite as easy as that. Absolute links existed across FreeUK sites. Some of the Learning Area subfolders were split across different FreeUK accounts. So I had to go through page after page putting in relative links.

All was then fine and has been for years. And then less than a month back Dropbox sent notice that from October 3rd it would no longer show HTML web pages as web pages. This would render my website useless. It turned out further that as an older user I had public folder use denied to later non-paying customers.

The first thing I did was look for other file sharing services. And I discovered that some, like Jumpshare, and indeed the Microsoft OneDrive, needing installing for Windows before version 10, display the HTML code and others, like Yandex Disk, display a blank. I learnt that file sharing meant something other than web hosting. Indeed I note that website host X10 hosting specifically rejects file sharing use despite reference to the cloud.

So to web site hosting. I had to find a suitable FTP program and the best/ easiest I think is FTP Rush. I've not bothered further with Filezilla. The first website hosting service one I tried was relatively straighforward, X10hosting, except that not everything being uploaded went completely. Some .PDF files ended up incomplete, and not always the biggest, and some files were skipped. It also erases above 10 mb files. Few of mine are that size, but one or two are. The solution is, bizarrely, to link to a file share. In fact, thinking about it, it might be possible to upload one webpage, the index webpage and all else display in it via file share links. I have not tried this, and I rather wonder if going to a webpage link produces their webpage container (for blank or code) and therefore renders that approach useless.

On the other hand, X10 provided a website name and it could be tested in the process of uploading. So I also tried Hostinger, based in the UK and Cyprus, and noticed the uploading far more fluid and smooth. It does disconnect and reconnect, but what goes up does go up and I've watched good long sessions of uploading.

But I was stumped as to how to activate it. In fact it was a near fluke that I got the FTP to work using my name. I did once I got the right identifying bits in the right places. But no way of viewing the files: how on earth does itself go there for HTML web pages viewing?

It took ages to suss it out, and I did send an email for help and received no reply. The DNS number and server names are actually done at Easily. It has the facility, different from the ghosting one. But give that this was the only reality, the website had to be up in full according to the FTP before I could direct the domain name. Well, today I discovered it has worked, and even individual own pages carry the pluralist name. If there was a _blank link to an individual page, that separate web browser page would show the Dropbox name. If I ghosted to X10 it would show the X10 name. But this one does not, and indeed individual directions to pages are also with the domain name.

So this is good. I also 'carry' a couple of other websites for other folk, so these now need releasing as also they will not show on Dropbox. I need to get an account and do the ghosting, in one case.

In effect I have two website locations (for now). One is as it happens.

A steep learning curve.

Monday 5 September 2016

David Jenkins: You Are Appreciated

Bishop David Jenkins came to public view about the time I was getting interested in Christianity and started riding two horses - the Church of England and the Unitarians. I warmed to him and his expressions, as clearly he illustrated a 'problem with the historical details' and yet expressed a construction of faith and belief, the difference between all the details and what were the essentials to be Christian. I didn't fully achieve affirming those essentials, so secondly he had a generosity towards people like me although clearly he met those essentials and I was somewhere in the borderlands. Early on I knew he was different from the John A. T. Robinson approach, and what seemed obvious was that Jenkins was being criticised in public and from within the Church of England for being a lot less investigatory than Robinson. It seemed to me that every twenty years or so controversy raged as what was well-known to theologians hit the public sphere, and what was the real cause of controversy was that people like Robinson and Jenkins let the theological cat out of the bag.

Nowadays the controversy is even more limited. It is centred around sexuality, as if this now defines 'orthodoxy', when it doesn't, and how one bishop presently, Nicholas Chamberlain, says he is gay, and with a partner, and while out of public notice has thus 'got through' to being a bishop, whereas Jeffrey John was widely known as gay before becoming a bishop and so didn't. Indeed, having got through stage 1, Chamberlain now acts within and supports certain guidelines of celibacy, we are told, which makes you wonder how much is celibate when one partner comforts the other. It's all so bloody stupid, but this is the pathetic level of controversy these days. I met the previous Bishop of Grantham, who clearly liked to be seen as a bit trendy and with it, so presumably this appointment was into that space, but it shows just how restricted things are.

As for those theological issues, I have learnt more as time has gone along. Jenkins, I discovered, was of a line of theology that ended up in the secular theology of Harvey Cox (well, as in the 1960s). God was God, and revealed, and in Christ, and Barth and Bonhoeffer had defined that stream into the post-war. Later on I would add Bultmann, with this notion of kerygma being a Gospel drive or impact out of the text and somewhat beyond history. This was contrasted with John Robinson, who, whilst he included Bonhoeffer and less so Bultmann, seemed to me to be more of Tillich and asking questions, whereas Jenkins' participant stream was getting on with the rough and tumble of secular life and what was 'the Gospel' for it (and so on). Later still I realised that Robinson in fact did not like Tillichian systematic theology, but something more personalist, and of course found in the Christian Bible an open narrative of a personal, suffering God (and so on).

Central to this is the long established problem of history, and what constitutes historical evidence, and the fact that the Gospels are secondary evidence from the faith stance of early Christians in their diversity of outlook. Troeltsch and Harnack are important here. There is also the issue of communal rapid story telling and tradition-making - taking inherited terms and applying new insights - in what was a charismatic excitement of end times expectation dealing with Jewish and Gentile concepts. A faith of Jesus towards God in the end time becomes one that has Jesus with a central role to bring the end - wrapped up in rearranged resurrection narratives and quickly becoming the Messiah and Christ.

Jenkins' position was incredibly traditional and orthodox because of how he saw the modern problem of not believing within our cultural outlook - the same problem of Robinson's "But that I can't believe". Jenkins view was not that we have it about right with science and naturalism, and so therefore supernatural and magical views were cultural spectacles for all these foundation faith concepts going through the mill, but that God had actually then given the means to understand the Gospel outbreaking in that era of belief, also held through most of Church tradition, and surely God would now give us such means to faith and would not leave us without the means to believe the Gospel... In other words, he wasn't being naturalistic like a Don Cupitt, or relativistic like a Don Cupitt (yes, the confusion is there within Cupitt!), but that there is a God who did reveal then, did reveal later, and surely would reveal now. Surely, says Jenkins, the Holy Spirit has not ceased to be active. And given that God does not let us down, how can we open out the Gospel now with the understandings functional in our own time of cultural developments.

Thus, and here we are: real humans are not born of virgins, and being born of a virgin is a story about a high prophetic chosen individual, and for him Christ was and must be a real human, and so there is a story of his virginal birth but there is no access to the history or biology. God clearly arranged the story in revelation for those believers when the two referring Gospels were written, but he would not think God actually did arrange a virginal conception - and, if he did, how are we to know? Secondly, resurrection given as the conceptual framework for understanding God working through a Jesus into a transformed state, had to be 'more than a conjouring trick with bones'. Again history is a problem, but whatever history can be gleaned, as with the virgin birth, it all has to be kerygmatic faith and purpose.

But in 1984 there was a tick-box mentality to Christianity. The BBC Heart of the Matter treated Sea of Faith in a tick-box manner. The creeds of course encourage the tick-box approach in our culture. The text of orthodoxy was ticking all the requirements down the credal list. That was not Jenkins' approach. He didn't particularly 'start from the other end' as Robinson would have it, but started from the revelation that God was God and acted in history, but history was a problem and insufficient, as God acted with revelatory purpose. The Bible has clearly assisted belief in the past, and has all sorts of content, but what it is not is a diary of prophet or a book of biology about his parent/s.

But this is too complicated for a mass media that works on dropping people from a height, and dealing in the the tick-box and, more so, whether an establishment figure is 'unhinged' or not, defined by not upholding the interests of the status quo. Jenkins of course did not, because that revelatory impact in his own bones had a social gospel outcome that had to be pursued. And he was up against Margaret Thatcher, who thought that the man helping the Samaritan first of all had to be a greedy sod to fill up his own wallet. Jenkins knew the value of communities, whereas Thatcher said there was no such thing as society.

So R I P David Jenkins, who was around making waves when I was by the sea. His context was coming after The Myth of God Incarnate (he'd have considered much of it a distraction, I would think), and Christian Believing (that diverse Doctrine Commission stuff), and 1984 on was about the time of the rowing-back of later Doctrine Commissions (until they were scrapped). Like Barth had considered, the Church was just showing its corruption, and was frustrating, but also the Church operating in a corrupted society. The corruption has gone on, and now there is little place for a theology professor prepared to ask the questions; theologians have to be more narrowly evangelical in the surface sense these days in the institution becoming ever more sectarian and distant from the culture that Jenkins realises forces the questions (or, he'd have it, asks questions of God giving the means to come to faith).

Unlike Jenkins, I don't believe in a specific incarnation and resurrection. There would be people like me who would say they are still 'Christian' and Jenkins would be generous because they are displaying an intention of faith and association with the unfolding Christian community down the ages. He would want to engage them, convince them, but via the questions. It cannot be forced. I just think that the 'more than' the conjouring trick
is separable and that conjouring tricks are things that people see and believe and that how people interpret isn't of itself reliably what happens. And it gets lost in a fog anyway, the impenetrable that means religion is a lot freer and creative and broader than trying to construe some 'evidence' that there is one central religion, when there is not.

Thursday 11 August 2016

With You But Not Agreeing, Colin

I am inspired to write in response to Rev. Colin Coward's blog Unadulterated Love and in particular his Living and loving in evolutionary times of August 10, 2016 responding to reactions online after the 23 July blessing of a marriage in St Agnes Church, North Reddish, between the immediately retired priest in charge, Clive Larsen, and his partner John, with Colin Coward participating.

As far as I can see, he is responding to need with provision, but obviously controversial to some others who have been jumping about online.

What interests me is the basis of Colin's faith that establishes a very different attitude towards assisting others from those of his institutional critics.

The blog entry summarises a more general position. So he criticises the use of the Bible as social control leading to abuse, from one target to another. Focusing on sin and guilt leads to negative impact. Whilst politics and society has moved on, the Church instructs clergy to follow previous mores. And yet the service conducted was celebratory and reflected loving partnership.

He asserts that faith is changing, and that this is evolutionary and demonstrating creative energy. Those who fear across the world are resorting to violence, and the Churches are defensive with its anthropomorphic God, a supra-being, where old ways of understanding are reinforced by liturgy, hymns, prayers and teaching. Dogma, hierarchy and control plus infantilising result in abuse. He notes a negative environment he can experience in church.

It is too head centred, without, he states, the heart and breadth of the unconditional and infinite and love to characterise the God of Jesus the Christ. This is set against Christianity with all its life-denials. Yet he also says there is much in Christian teaching that can enhance life, the source of his faith and the inspiration.

I have much sympathy for this view, but it doesn't quite add up.

It comes down to the question, 'What is Christianity?' I have this argument with others who identify as Unitarians, who also identify as Christian or of Christian sourcing.

For me Christianity is indeed centred in the New Testament and identification with those in the early Church who identified Jesus as the Christ, or the Messiah. This still allows for a highly critical interpretation of the Bible, of both Testaments, with every device in play. It identifies with those who did (and do) turn a Jesus who looked from himself to what he understood as the 'Daddy' God in end times into a cult of personality about Jesus himself, that he is intimately connected with God. So far I have introduced no main doctrines, except for the way the economic trinity was begun in this sense, in the eschatology of those days, in their peculiar cultural supernaturalism.

Now my argument against many Unitarians for example is whether, for them, Jesus is the Christ and they identify with this community and its turn. If they don't, how are they even minimally Christian?

Now Colin still makes this claim, but it rather feels like it is on its last legs. What he is doing is claiming an ethical outpouring from Jesus as the Christ which, for me, is far from demonstrated. How do we know this?

If things are truly evolutionary, then we have an ordinary man in every way, culturally limited, and who has to learn. He can only adopt and adapt to whatever it is that makes him this outpouring of unconditional love. But if I read the texts, he clearly is not doing this outpouring. He is Jewish first, that is his method, and his breadth is corrected, and the universalism is provided by Paul and his cultural crossover. And, in any case, we have only 'difference by degree' by which there is insufficient evidence either about Jesus or anyone else. You see, very soon the principle of unconditional love supersedes anyone who may have it, and no one can have it exclusively. The claim must be ahistorical, become an ideal.

Or else it is based on apriori doctrine, that theology comes before ethics, that the Church determines the reality of the universe especially in ethical terms. Or maybe it comes in the realm of some picture of reality, but only a picture, a kind of mythical bubble, and one superfluous surely to the main point.

But evolution is NOT this wonderful, open, love-encouraging reality. It is, rather, change by death. Things that cope less get overwhelmed by things that cope better, in any environment. What is more interesting, I suggest, is the existence of chaos (in which evolution is one example) followed by systemic interactions of what results. What is more interesting, also, is the beauty of equations, where Paul Dirac can state that the more simple and beautiful an equation, the more likely it is to be really true - not just metaphorically true, but descriptive. That is a very powerful signal of transcendence. Evolution is cruel, chaos is a swirl that can lose many, and yet there is emergent order and simplicity within complexity.

This is not Christian: none of this is Christian. Christianity is, in the end, regulative. It is regulative about the texts on the early Christians; it is about that odd notion Rudolph Bultmann claimed - kerygma. Somehow Christianity is released when it is preached, but along given texts, many of which are ethically harmful. Rowan Williams is one who digs into the tradition and lives within it to make much of it in a critical way without ever dismissing what is harmful. But if you are liberal, like me, you do dismiss what is harmful, and you select from anywhere.

It is really so simple: two men or two women loving each other, as a man to a woman, is evident. It clearly comes within experience, and it is worthy of ritual recognition. It is not for nothing that Yale Postliberalism and Radical Orthodoxy dismiss (or manufacture) experience, as they follow either a regulative path or some narrow Platonic idealism institutionalised. They have retreated into bubbles, but those who experience change cannot retreat into bubbles. Of course a Rowan Williams tries to have it both ways, thus will be in the tradition, criticise it, never drop it, become restrictive as Archbishop, freer and more inclusive when an academic. The latter position becomes a kind of ridiculous lack of discernment. Why does Rowan Williams think that liberalism came to an end point in 1978 or thereabouts? Because the tradition was under threat, whereas Colin knows that the whole 1960s to 1970s made theological discoveries that continue to matter to this day. Indeed so did the liberals much earlier. John A. T. Robinson inspires Colin as he does many still, but J. A. T. R. never went to where truth would lead. He kept starting -  a personalist panentheistic theology and biblical conservatism.

More anchors there, and more than Colin shows in his own expansionist theology. I hate postliberalism, Radical Orthodoxy, and whilst I have some time for Rowan Williams, it is ultimately deceptive, the 'as if' history when it is all literature upon literature.

It did not surprise me when Don Cupitt said, 'My critics were right all along,' meaning that he was left without the ability to attach himself to regulative or even high and dry Christianity. He didn't just give up his ministry, but his participation; he reinterpreted Buddhism and adopted a religious humanism and became a Quaker sympathiser. He cannot argue now for any kind of Christianity: he cannot be liturgically conservative and try and make it stand on its head.

The fact that he or I in different ways might use Christian or Christian derived theology to make several points does not make us Christians. As I say, to be a Christian is to identify with the early communities and they both read and formed texts to make this cult of an individual. They effectively created a history of the world by which a God intervenes and sets up means for redemption. I don't believe in that: I believe our world came about through chaotic systems of physics, chemistry and subsequently biology, out of which symbolism and culture came. This Christianity is no more than mythology that gives insights into human anthropology.

I bet this is Colin's view, but as I say he makes a final claim. But devoid of regulative doctrine, devoid of regulative text, there is no basis for that turn into what Christ apparently represents, except by some made-up idealism.

In the end, I'm afraid, the mainstream Churches are doomed to defend and promote their own mythology. From that authoritarianism and infantilism does arise. From that evident love is denied. So why continue to defend the institutional dead-end?

Other than that, I'm with his sentiments and outlook.

Since written, the next day Colin wrote a follow-up that isn't particularly Christcentric or Jesucentric at all but it is entirely consistent with what my response here discusses. He recognises his own revisionism, which is fair enough, although I think (as above) that his stance stretches beyond revisionism.

Wednesday 3 August 2016

Splitting Sides

I seem to be only blogging about politics these days. On religion I seem to be fairly quiet. Take that as a sign of relative contentment. I might nevertheless write something very soon. Politics keeps changing after a seismic shift in the landscape - that's the simple explanation.

Labour's potential split is around the corner and the Tories' in about two years or so. The Tories' split is at the time of the inability of squaring the exit the EU circle, the absence of Parliamentary time and Civil Service resources to come out of the EU, the timing of resisting the-break up of the UK, and the realisation that if Universal Credit - one big change - can't get done successfully in more than a decade then coming out the the EU is nigh on impossible.

The Labour Party has 230 MPs sitting in the House of Commons. Initially, 80% have stated that they have no confidence in the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn. 80% is, accurately, 184. When Jeremy Corbyn wins the leadership election, as he will and easily, a good number of those 80% will assess that they had better knuckle under and do no more - say 20% or 46. This leaves 138, and let's suppose they would form some sort of informal opposition.

Why so? Well, because any attempt to get 'The Labour Party' title deeds from the current leadership hasn't go a hope in hell of success, if the election of the leader has been done according to the rules, where the actual membership overwhelmingly chose the leadership.

The 138 might consider approaching the Speaker to claim that they are the real opposition, but only an informal opposition may not be sufficient for the Speaker, who'll go by real title deeds and a demonstrative leadership election. But suppose 46 of them are not happy approaching the speaker.

So 92 we might guess would at least approach the speaker. But at precisely half, the speaker would also dismiss it on the basis of not an overwhelming number of Parliamentarians involved.

So then it comes to the die-hards, the people who have spoken out so much that they really cannot go back on their words, plus those so far from Corbyn ideologically that they have to be otherwise.

So suppose 46 really would not want to split. This leaves 46 remaining. Some number like this could well be the dedicated splitters. In reality, it is probably fewer MPs because this means taking a different name, a different party, a different organisation, and with memories from their parents of those in the SDP.

But it could be more. I don't subscribe to the view that all non-Corbyn MPs are charlatans without principles and would do what it takes to keep their cushy jobs. Plus the necessary follow-through of deselections is going to include those who are known not to fall in and are just tagging along for the time being. So 46.

Some splitters would rather not, of course, and they hope Theresa May calls a General Election by which we can all suffer five more years of Tory government, Labour is wiped out and Corbyn then has to go (but don't you believe it!). Five more years from that membership means a programme of deselections.

So this is how it becomes more than 46, how even a General Election will not save the Labour Party from its leftward move, if indeed 'save' is the correct term. Try 'prevent' instead.

Follow the logic, and the split seems inevitable, because the range of Labour from softer-left to centre-right (let's be honest, some are in the wrong party, pushing its coalition to a ridiculous breadth) will not be compatible with a Momentum-shaped Labour Party. A General Election will not save them and so the rules have to be written from the beginning.

The 46 will look to work with the 8 Liberal Democrats, and may be the Tories' splitting much further down the line. The 46 may want their own identity, but an electoral pact if resisting coming out of the EU with the Liberal Democrats may be essential. There needs to be a clear General Election option of saying this negotiation did not work, is not practical, cannot be done, and therefore staying in the EU, hopefully before Article 50 is invoked.

Strong coming-out Tories will have to argue for invoking Article 50 and doing so on less economic and more cultural-immigration grounds. Tory UKIP, basically. It's not clear who'd split from whom. It could be again that some Tories would split in order to be resisting invoking Article 50. What is clear is that the EU referendum has not solved the Tory Party division. When the facts on the ground speak, the division will be back. For many, the economic option is not good enough, and that division forces an economic option into the EU resistance option. Even a huge Tory majority after a General Election (if it happened) would not save the Tories: it could split so comprehensively that a big majority turns into none.

In any case, four parties as of now cannot operate in a First Past the Post system, because the outcome is a pure lottery. If the main two UK parties split, proportional representation becomes a necessity.

Friday 29 July 2016

Political Crystal Ball Gazing

My view of Owen Smith standing for Labour is simple: I don't like him and I don't trust him. He says he's a socialist and a bit of a left winger.

He did march with the miners in South Wales, but somewhere along the line he became a consultant for the large pharmaceutical firm Pfizer and he followed the 'choice' line of his employer. He received a six figure salary as he went into Parliament. He favoured more of the Private Finance Initiative, which was Gordon Brown's Budgets fiddle that mortgaged the NHS and schools to private builders and costs a fortune into the future.

He didn't oppose austerity and did not oppose the Conservatives opening welfare cuts under the capitulating leadership of Harriet Harman.

He supported the renewal of Trident, voted for airstrikes in Iraq and Libya and has attended a few arms fairs.

I am not a socialist, but a social liberal. In the 2010-2015 Coalition the Liberal Democrats embraced economic liberalism and dumped their own supporters after a long period when the Liberal Democrats represented radicalism and were for quite a time to the left of Labour.

They propped up the Tories. I quite liked Miliband as he had social justice and libertarian leanings, a man of compassion. But when he faced the headlights of the General Election, he froze like a rabbit. He wasn't allowed to be himself, and he was probably insufficiently skilled to handle the criticisms, the legacies.

Whilst I overlap with Jeremy Corbyn and regard him as being what it says on his tin (unlike with Owen Smith), I don't think he is a competent organiser or has the necessary bite to be a Prime Minister. Whilst there are longstanding ideological objections to him from sitting MPs, and there is more to their objections than his competence, he is clearly incapable of organising his own office. What worries me are the more 'thuggish' types behind him who'd give him his backbone, as they have over this leadership election. I don't like the culture of some of the groups behind Corbyn, and he would never deal with them.

Theresa May's Opening Night of the Long Knives was, like Macmillan's long before her, a statement of weakness not strength, but neverthless a stamp of her feet. Corbyn on the other hand is letting MPs "unresign" and crawl back on to his front bench, which he can hardly fill. May is as yet untested when it comes to the near future of decisions. But to set up overlapping key ministries of potential opponents is a key political skill, by which decisions come up to her. She can dodge and weave, but in the end she can sow overlap and confusion among others in order to rule herself.

So far May has shown an ability to lead, but these are early days. Corbyn may have 'ideas', but if he cannot lead, he's no good. Women seem to be rather good in politics (even if disliking their policies): witness Hillary Clinton's speech against the lunacy of Donald Trump. Angela Merkel is all about a steady hand, and she didn't get where she is (and stay there so long) through Corbynist gentleness and simply ideas.

The EU referendum has created a divide and is reworking politics. When Corbyn said that Article 50 should be invoked immediately, he immediately lost any of my support. He also didn't consult his 'Labour team' (if there is one).

Politics is a sluggist game of timing and opportunity. Some of us think the referendum was wrong to be had in the first place (regardless of the result), a reckless gamble of party before country, that it became a misdirected protest by people who were never told how the EU works, and one campaign for in was wholly defensive and lacked any hope and idealism, and the other was a pack of tribal lies.

I don't know what "Brexit means Brexit" means. Theresa May has also said, "As we leave the European Union", which sounds like a process not a completion. Some of us think leaving the EU is a disaster and becomes, for the future, the number one issue and to resist. For every reason: for the economy, for liberties, for wider world (sharing) idealism on a political level, for free movement of young and elderly, for science co-operation and intellectual sharing, for voting transnationally.

I'm worried that Nick Clegg, not exactly the country's most reliable politician, is approaching 'monitoring' this exiting the EU as something that is going to be done. He should be resisting it, and saying a General Election is the opportunity for voting to reverse this. I want Tim Fallon to lay it on the line in a manifesto to say he will do everything so that Article 50 is never invoked: that he and his MPs stand for election on this basis.

So what does the future hold?

It looks like Corbyn will win easily. There is no doubt about this. Owen Smith is dodgy by history and by expression. He is televisual and no doubt can run things, but he is back to the same-old. It doesn't actually matter if he was fantastic. The fact is he will lose and badly.

Now some MPs will indeed unresign, because if Corbyn doesn't do it the members will: MPs that do not follow the Corbyn line will get deselected. So some MPs will keep the meal ticket. My friends who have joined Labour and paid £85 each to vote know that they will also be voting to deselect Karl Turner if he doesn't buckle under. Personally, I think he is a lousy MP so I hope he is replaced.

But some Labour MPs have clearly crossed the bridge. They have been so open in criticism of Corbyn that they will either informally or formally break away. Informally means just organising their own voting whilst being nominally Labour; the result will of course be deselection. The formal break away is a new party, one that reflects a more social democratic view. And that means back to co-operating with others. We think some could be Liberal Democrat; crumbs, some could even be Conservative at the fringes. What may well make the difference is Europe, and the pro-EU MPs go into loose (presumably) arrangements with the Liberal Democrats.

As for the Conservatives, their change would have been sooner with Remain vote, as they would have shattered: the "war would have continued" as Farage put it regarding UKIP before the results appeared. The Out vote has meant pro-EU Conservatives "having to accept the result" - at least as a process gets under way.

But it does not add up. You cannot have a single market without free movement, unless the EU changes this and the EEA too (the EU obeying economicf area for countries that might join). You cannot be in the single market if greater immigration control and sovereignty is asserted. You cannot have England out of the EU and Scotland in; there cannot be a UK out and Ireland in with no customs border between Ireland and the North of Ireland. The EU was essential in Ireland because it undermined nationalism, as it always does, so long as you are in the EU and voting transnationally. I mean, to have Irish MPs throughout the island in one Parliament is fantastic, even while Northern Ireland is part of the UK and Eire is independent. Plus the UK is a weak entity because it is not a federal state but a unitary state with a devolution that can slice through it like splitting slate.

Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary now, changes his mind anyway; it was that actual marginality of opinion ostensibly immediately after the result which got him knifed by Michael Gove. David Davis is having to square impossible circles and Liam Fox is currently jumping the gun trying to make trade deals when we cannot and we are not even in the World Trade Organisation. It is pre-arranging what might never come about.

What can come about, and is the second likeliest, is Article 50 is invoked and then the EU sits on its hands (the French will for sure) so that the EU achieves more and Britain less as the clock ticks for two years and you're out; the flexibility offered may be towards Scotland in a possible different independent future. Everyone will take a hit, but the EU hit is recoverable via relocations, whereas the British will have to devalue and scrabble around for trade deals here and there and attract investment towards a largely domestic economy.

The further problem is that we do not have enough legislative time or Civil Service resources to undo forty years of the EU running through the UK political and legal bloodstream. Look at how the Universal Credit has been so time-consuming that it is delayed and delayed - and that is just one major change. Imagine trying to replicate agricultural subsidies: do we go back to the pre-EU supply subsidy or replicate (yet change the funding streams) EU price based support? What about regional policy that became EU based?

How does it work? We continue to pay into the EU to get access to the single market AND we have to find the money for all the subsidies and supports that were part of the original dirigiste basis of the EU? So taxes will have to shoot up. Who is going to arrange all this and see that it works?

So what is most likely to happen is nothing, because at the moment we are doing nothing (except for a lousy offshoot Civil Service unit investigation of what needs to be done: even I know what needs to be done in general terms). Come the repeal of the 1972 Economic Communities Act, a whole void opens up and effective political panic. Would MPs even do it?

So the likely political result is the resignations of David Davis and Liam Fox. And that will be the end of the policy, because May will say they were in charge and that the Brexit means Brexit but not after its policy makers failed. When Davis and Fox goes, the Tory party will itself split. The 'loonies running the asylum' will be back 'outside the establishment'.

And there could be anyway a General Election, enormously unpredictable because four parties in a first past the post turns the contest into a lottery. If Lib Dems can attract the current 48%, then they will impact, but who knows whether UKIP will strengthen or weaken, or whether the Tories' current command over Labour will maintain itself, or Corbyn will attract the disaffected or instead find in the Midlands and North the same as happened to Labour in Scotland. But even a huge Tory majority would likely lead to a Tory split as the exiting the EU is demonstrably impractical, so a Tory party becomes two.

Of course Trump might win in the USA so we might all end up as nuclear toast anyway, or carved up by Putin, or something similar. The Pope says that we are at war already, largely economic (and social) too, never mind everything else. It sure could get worse. We sure should not be leaving the EU at times like these.

Thursday 14 July 2016

May to End in Failure?

Goodbye Cameron. Thanks for all the austerity, for freezing benefits, for attacking the young in particular, and most of all, thanks for the gamble that lost us our place in Europe because people had one huge protest vote about immigration and blamed the wrong thing.

An occasional pub acquaintance who has gone on for the last year about getting out of the European Union said to me on Tuesday that his side won but then lost. I said not to be so sure. I used to say why I was for being in the EU and I had assumed in would win. Of course he won. but he does not think so.

Is the Foreign Secretary a 'top job' now? It was once, and might be again, but in the EU a whole range of Secretaries of State went to the Council of Ministers. Appointing Boris Johnson to that role is either ridiculous or brilliant. Ridiculous because he can't handle detail and can't be a serious mouth that doesn't make daft statements. But if might be brilliant because after winning he wrote the Daily Telegraph article that suggested some rowing back from his campaign position. It was Gove's public moment to knife Boris, despite being in on Boris's conversion to 'out' all along. On the other hand he acts as a sort of presentation man beyond the diplomats. The real job goes to David Davies, and one wonders as to how he will square the circles of leaving. Liam Fox presumably has to find other markets for trading, start to see how Antarctica will do a trade deal. Well, it is several countries and no country at once. As for Theresa May as Prime Minister, she has a strong authoritarian streak, evidently; she will be to her new Home Secretary Amanda Rudd as Gordon Brown was to Ed Balls- "I know more about it than you." You end up overshadowed. I don't trust all this equality talk, and it's likely to be more of the same.

In a sense May is asking those who broke it to keep it, those who knocked us off the shelf to clear up the mess. But she is the one who has said, "Brexit is Brexit," about which more below.

I don't agree with most of my friends, who paid the full fee to join Labour and will still be able to vote. Others who went for the cut price option now have to stump up the full fee. Labour's coffers must look pretty healthy at the moment. To me Labour is finished. Despite the gerrymandering, Jeremy Corbyn will win easily. Owen Smith might offer a second referendum on the EU; I think a manifesto to stay in is quite sufficient. After all he can only offer it if in power, if he wins, so why not restore representative democracy?

Labour is finished because 80% of his MPs are now into open season in attacking Jeremy Corbyn in such a manner as nothing restores after a win by him. John McDonnell is virtually hated as the hard man behind Corbyn, the ideologue. So when Corbyn wins again, the MPs will be unable to work under him. This means they will have to be deselected one by one, but while in Parliament they remain as MPs.

If they are deselected they will have no choice BUT to form a new party. Only a new party can have a selection method that will avoid the Corbyn contradiction. Some may cross over to existing parties. They won't like it, but there will be no option. Some will just leave Parliament.

The Liberal Democrats may pick up a few, but more likely there will be a separate grouping, possibly informal, but will have to be more formal once there is a General Election.

The betting must be that the Conservative government under Theresa May invokes Article 50 in 2017, possibly by executive diktat but maybe held back by the need to repeal The European Communities Act 1972 and a legislative mountain of changes of laws that reflect our European place for the past 40 years. By then a majority may have been lost to do it. Assuming it is invoked, the danger then is that Britain doesn't get what it wants and finds itself out of the EU with nothing. This end could find the government hitting failure, a stress level to the UK that is simply unalterable. This all relies on Qualified Majority Voting from the others, and the UK is left bereft of anything decent, causing relocation of business and us to end up having to compete as a cheap, low cost labour, island - all exploitation to try and make up the difference.

The talk, however, is putting tanks on a more moderate Labour's lawn. If May's government is more redistributive, then it will add to the sense of Labour's end in Parliament.

Of course, should we find our way out of the EU, the perceived need to find our way in again might be with a huge price - none of the opt-outs we once had. There might be the ready-made EEA, but that's just the EU plus the cost minus representation. It is the worst outcome of all. Again, it won't be altered for our benefit. The EEA is for countries that might join, not those that come out.

So my occasional pub acquaintance might be right, right in the sense that he was sold a pup by those politicians that promised so much. It won't look much different at all - we just won't have a say in what takes place. In that circles cannot be squared, this government is likely to end in failure simply through the contradictions. If the contradictions become obvious in the preparatory period, it could mean it does not invoke Article 50, which would be good. But she promises to come out. The contradictions will be realised during the two years after which we will come out. So we will come out, although she has not defined her "Brexit means Brexit". So one might see Article 50 invoked, and then contradictions, then a request for an extension. An extension can only be granted unanimously only, and maybe only indefinitely, to the point it is dropped. How so?

The basis of coming out may be such that a second referendum is demanded among the public, but then if a yes vote it would require the unanimous vote of the EU to drop the Article 50 action. There surely is a means among the others to reverse it, should this be the outcome. Also our representatives might bring the farce to an end.

But by then the EU may want rid of us anyway. It's why political parties must get their act together. Only the Scottish National Party is likely to do this with any effect. There really isn't time for Labour to mess about; it's MPs may as well start to transfer once this leadership conference is over. I want to see definite and clear politics based on not invoking Article 50. This has to be the basis of opposition.

Monday 11 July 2016

Nag Runs Out of Breath

So the loathsome Loadsom has gone. Here's what happened.

In the Tory horse race, jockeys racing close to each in the Party Stakes hoping to exit the main race stabbed each other and their horses so that they all fell bloodied along the course. As a result, the shadowy female jockey and horse over to one side, that was for staying in the main race but suspiciously so, was left well out in front, but another exiting unbloodied horse and female jockey came up on the rails and might have been fancied by the punters eligible to have a bet between only two.

However, this nag was found to lack the wind and energy for the rest of this Party Stakes race. It couldn't gallop properly and was probably only in the race because the jockey had lied about its past and present abilities. Having stumbled simply by running, the jockey pulled it up and gave up.

As a result, race officials will pronounce that the lead jockey and the engine of the horse has no need to continue running. The finish line is assumed and the current holder of the Party Stakes trophy will hand over the crown sooner than he thought.

This was a professional race, but there is another run by a bunch of amateurs.

In this race, the jockey and horse that holds its crown may not even be allowed to run, when they would run. Another female jockey and her horse has entered the race, on the obvious claim that it can run faster. However, there are a huge number of gamblers eligible to have a bet, and it is known that they are only eligible in order to support the present holder of the crown. It's the race community and officials who support having a race at all, with this jockey and nag to take on the incumbent.

If there is a contest there is no doubt that the incumbent will win, because in this race as with the other it is the gamblers who decide the outcome. All you have to be is one of the majority of gamblers, and the incumbent has by far most of them.

But if the race officials prevent the incumbent from running, and leave the contender just to trot along to the finishing pole, the gamblers are likely to start a bloody and protracted process of deselecting the officials and race community. In fact they may start doing this anyway, especially if the now given winner of the other race does not call a wider race where we all get to have a punt.

The amateurs in the race have not really demonstrated that their jockey and nag is up to the race at all. She's had a few gallops here and there, but the job of communicating and connecting seems far from clear. Why should she be any better than the incumbent? If it is simply ideas, then the gamblers will be taking on the task of replacing race officials and the community so that the ideas are more consistent.

The result of this could be that the race community members in some number form a different grouping, either informally or more formally. They just don't have the means, or the rules, to do any differently, to try and say remove the incumbent and supporters. They would have to go elsewhere and make a differently grouped appeal to the wider punters who get to decide the biggest race - one that may still come sooner rather than later.

And as for the previous race, yes, I'm writing as I hear that the Incumbent will have one more little run out, answering a few questions and then will hand over the crown of incumbency. Let's hope that there is no round of applause as with Blair (given what happened to him subsequently) as this incumbent was a reckles gambler who failed and has caused the mess in the first place.

Sunday 10 July 2016

Politics Has Changed

It seems that if you want to lead a political party, you ought to be a woman. Except Labour of course, because if Angela Eagle stands to be leader she will be beaten by Jeremy Corbyn, Some close to 130,000 have joined Labour recently. Two of these have been my friends, stumping up the full £60 each, both to vote for Corbyn. Both socialists, they haven't been involved as such before.

Now since the Liberal Democrats did the dirty and upheld the Tories, so that at the last General Election they could take the blame, be punished for manfesto dishonesty, and the Tories could duff them up in key areas of the country, I have also been pro-Corbyn or at least as supporting someone prepared to see this rotten economy we have for what it is and to invest instead in people economically and socially. So, a social liberal - that's how I'd describe myself - it was punish the Liberal Democrats and bye bye and adapt to the new situation.

Plus I worry about Tim Fallon's Christianity as much as Andrea Leadsom's, although she is the real deal when it comes to loony religion and loony politics in combination. She's had travel paid for by the neo-Cons when visiting America, she's anti-gay, was always anti-minimum wage, telling the House of Commons of a banking management and stretching her CV when not so, and of course saying things to The Times clearly on the audio tape that she claims she didn't say. But if she's a Donald Trump, then it's all publicity and could energise the nutcases who find a privileged hom in the Conservative Party. The country is going to hell in a handcart and might soon have imposed on to it a horse to gallop it there. Although Theresa May is by far the preference of the Tory MPs, there is nothing stopping the Tory membership from doing a Corbyn and electing Leadsom. Be very afraid.

Everything has changed since this Tory Party referendum was hoisted on to a general public that could not even be bothered to find out how the European Union works, never mind discover its founding principles. The Remain camp would not idealise it, even if flawed. Some thought the EU is neo-liberal: well, if it is, blame the lethal combination of British Economic Liberalism influence and German monetary discipline. We've always had the latter, but the EU was set up as dirigiste in its economic affairs. And had we joined the euro, it would have been a far broader currency and not seen such a division between north and south Europe. Meanwhile the exit camp played on fears and people's mental images of immigration and some wonderworld outside the necessities of sharing sovereignty with people like us. Turkeys therefore voted for Christmas because the people who fed the ideology to them were turkey farmers. The EU referendum was one elite versus another, one able to draw on the frustration of a de-ideologised ex-working class and underclass that has been politically too uninvolved to see that they were being sold a fake prospectus.

And once again on a false prospectus we make a decision to be a bull in the china shop and find there is no plan once the pots are smashed. The Scots will be to us like the Kurds are to Iraq: about the only place to benefit.

But all has changed because I think politics now is NOT about the best deal for how to leave the EU, but how not to leave the EU at all. There is no best deal. Politics for others is also still about leaving, if they can afford it. The people like me at present are a minority, but the minority has to battle to prevent disaster. At present the disaster is starting to unfold due to uncertainty, but it will unfold proper when the UK breaks up, when businesses and finance relocates to the EU (for example, in Edinburgh...). Northern Ireland faces added tension. England faces an even greater dispossessed.

Corbyn's socialism might be the only thing that holds up the dispossessed in a world beyond the EU, but it will only come after a Leadsom has led us all into some kind of marketised cheap hell hole. Go her way, go his: like a manic-depressive on one leg. Except it won't go like that - will it? Corbyn won't be introducing socialism, because the present Labour MPs won't let him. But we might all be sent into the market jungle in a low tax desperate economy based on shelter and food.

Well, the EU referendum made new friends and new enemies. Should the Tories elect Leadsom, then Leadsom might well lose her majority. If Angela Eagle loses to Corbyn, as she will, Labour MPs in the Commons will either temporarily break away from the Labour leadership (deselect them!) and start to make new alliances. The alliances will be based on the EU referendum. So there could (among some) be another SDP type gathering, but this time even wider across, but all with the Lib Dems surely in opposing any invoking of Article 50.

I am waiting for David Lammy to change where he sits in the House of Commons. Surely if Corbyn is re-elected leader he will move. Corbyn is not interested in preventing Article 50 as a matter of principle, only as a matter of what will be the negotiating position at its point of invocation. Presumably, if it isn't satsifactory he'd vote against, but he might accept UK versions of the Social Chapter, for example. So what? - with the EU Qualified Majority sitting on its hands while the clock ticks, the UK could well end up with comparatively sod-all, whatever was its position for a negotiation. Bye bye UK, oh and if you ever wanted to come back, it's not on the terms you had before. In fact, some say, the EU is better off without the UK. The temporary economic hit to Europe and its economy will soon be restored by relocations and the EU can be dirigiste again.

Yes, everything has changed. My friends have joined up, and at the same time the EU vote has given me the space to say that, although I overlapped with Corbyn, I am different. I am now prepared to go back to the Liberal Democrats if they offer clarity. None of this "Don't ever vote for them again" nonsense. Politics changes. The sinners have chances to repent.

My own position, personally, won't be much different. In a sense, this is about the rest of these islands. It's about Europe too. It's about my own mental map, my own idealism, the wider view.

I don't know about Corbyn. I don't know when the next General Election comes if he will reconnect with the underclass and just above, or if UKIP will get a tipping point in its favour and return many MPs. UKIP will still be about because they are like a classroom monitor regarding an EU exit and also tweaking at the ordinary prejudices people have when they want to blame other people for what has gone wrong. The danger then of Labour imploding is to end up as a rump, a second Scotland, this time in the North and Midlands, and then of course Corbyn will go, but it will be too late. But he won't go beforehand. He has the Militant Tendency - no, not them - Momentum driving the discipline and lots of signed up socialists to keep him there. Monte Carlo or bust, and bust is most likely.

The only logic for Labour is to deselect its MPs so that they are going to support its leadership. If they don't, then the 80% of its MPs will never work with the Labour leadership, and it will crumble. The immediate future though is the danger that Leadsom will be the right wing tendency for the loonies to run the asylum, just as they did the exit referendum campaign. They all were: Cameron, a loony for calling it, and a loony defensive remain campaign, and the backstabbing loonies on the exit side, most of whom broke the sodding thing and left it on the ground by running away. But I don't want, hell I don't want, Leadsom to be the wild-eyed one to try and put the pot back into one piece. She is a real ever present danger now.

So, with this change, I'm arguing my corner. Some 16000 have joined the Liberal Democrats since the referendum result. I won't - too wary for that (and broke) and I'm waiting for clarity. NOT a policy to have the most pro-European exit, but to stop it. To argue that a General Election with a manifesto to stay in trumps any advisory referendum, and that beforehand MPs are representatives who discern before they vote. And 76% of them were for staying in the EU. Well, will they agree to do what they don't believe? They are not delegates but representatives. If it is too dangerous, and too stupid to leave the EU, then don't do it. If Leadsom (assuming it's her) can't command a majority she won't invoke Article 50. No one has to help her. So don't do it.

Saturday 2 July 2016

Infamy Infamy: He Had It In For Him

I want to learn at least about how to do this. I always want to learn and here is something else to discover: how political assassinations work. So I have been educating myself.

Not from scratch, however. I remember a few short months at the University of Essex, with an MA course and accommodation that didn't work out. For this period, within 1981-82, I had activity as 'an agnostic' in the Chaplaincy and within the Liberals at the Student Union. At that time politically there was a choice as to whether to align with the Broad Left or go with the emerging Social Democrats. The Liberals were a bit lefty and the intention was to go with the Broad Left. Leighton Rees was about - he has since enjoyed well-known public office at the Welsh Assembly for Labour. Well, I favoured the Social Democrats, and I won. I overthrew the establishment so to speak. Someone said I had done this before; I hadn't but seemed to know what I was doing and how to do it. Now, before the outcome, one of the warnings at the time was not to win and then end up leaving the University, as it was known things were going wrong for me regarding settling into the course.. On winning I immediately tacked in the direction of the losers. Then I was given notice of losing the accommodation - a family member needed my place and I'd already moved a number of times. I'd had enough of the course and personnel and left. Consequently I left them with a bit of a mess.

A bit like Boris Johnson, eh, years later? Boris strived out, could have been pro or anti-European, was anti-European, sidelined Cameron, won, then tacked towards Remain, and then left, leaving a mess.

His tack-back was a Daily Telegraph essay that even gave a possibility that Article 50 might not be invoked. It's as if he might have another go at getting a deal of loose association but within the EU. He was certainly pro-single market, and he had become 'liberal' on immigration - the basis of so much tribal Out voting. So the going narrative was that Farage suspected backsliding and Gove was concerned and so Gove ran.

Until it turns out that Gove almost certainly had a hand in that article: had looked at it and gave it the nod. The team then was still running. But it isn't just that. It also seems that back in February 16th this year Gove, Johnson, wives and Evgeny Lebedev had a meal at which Johnson was persuaded to back Leave. Gove was always clear Out.

Thus Gove had Boris on his side, and Boris would make a difference. It would severely wound or topple Cameron. Clearly Gove knew that Johnson was luke-warm all the way through, and let Johnson write and publish his highly-paid article. Probably Johnson thought Gove was also being tactical regarding the 48% and practicalities as well. But not so, because it became evidence of backsliding, the Gove wife Sarah Vine then did an email leak (and another newspaper proprieter considered) and Gove stood. Johnson was outmanoeuvred and then became an entertainer again at his 'not me' for the leadership.

Meanwhile, it turns out that all this time through the campaign, Gove has had regular meetings with Osborne - so that in a Gove regime Osborne would have a top job, like Foreign Secretary. One can imagine this the other way around, that had Remain won Gove would have had a top job in an Osborne takeover. Gove would have represented the minority for Out, pressing, presumably, for maximising the terms Cameron had negotiated. Presumably a wounded Cameron who'd said he'd go would have had a succession attempt from Osborne.
The February meal and hand in on the Daily Telegraph article show real political skills of treachery and skullduggery. I must say: I have to admire the man Gove for wielding a very sharp and timely knife.

Unfortunately it never quite works out. What works best is to allow degrees of betrayal and the ability to be flexible. Johnson did lead Leave, he assassinated in the process, but then he had to tack-back and isolate the likes of Farage, Leadsom etc. and possibly Gove. But Gove had set him up all along, and so Johnson fell, and Gove moved from the number 2 to the number 1.

But in doing so, Gove relies on some very disgruntled pro-Johnson people, and cannot rely on the 'stop Johnson' ones either. His hope is that he can be number 2 in the selection process by MPs, and then get the vote of the membership instead of Theresa May. Unfortunately the appearance of the unbloodied - someone who does well from the sidelines and as committed as Gove to being 'Out' - can sap the vote from the knife-wielder himself. He has to find a way to undermine Andrea Leadsom, or she will undermine him and conclusively.

And she has potential to win in the membership against a Theresa May. Suspicions will arise that Theresa May herself will not invoke Article 50. It is why she says the referendum means she will do it, why she 'benefits' from her own very luke-warm 'Remain' position (loyalty to Cameron plus a speech bashing the EU). But she is vulnerable. She has to do the opposite of Johnson, and tack towards the 'Out' people. It might not be enough and Gove is saying so.

Meanwhile the argument has to be made, and if not made become a challenge, that the  Executive alone cannot invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, because its place in UK law comes under the European Communities Act (if I have its name correct) and the Lisbo Treaty like all others is deeply part of UK domestic law. Indeed the Scottish Assembly as devolved is so partly under a European dimension.

That brings it to Parliament and then under the influence of time, and also the authority of a newly led Tory regime, by May or Leadsom (presumably), and its ability to survive under a small majority of Tories when many are driven anti-EU and some pro-EU as well. Labour must only vote for invoking Article 50 if the negotiation is positive. The SNP will vote against. All this makes a General Election more likely, at which point candidates are perfectly within their rights to wish to be elected on a 'stay in' basis.

The Manifesto of a Party or individuals says: the Referendum was advisory. It was called to solve a Conservative Party split and gambled the country. The Out side lied and could not keep their promises. The potential result of removal is evidently destructive. Vote for us/ me and we will not vote to invoke Article 50.

A party that does this, and makes it a cast-iron promise, will attract a lot of votes.

This is not over yet. What we know is that we got here by politicians exercising skullduggery on the risk of destroying the country over which they have had responsibility.

Thursday 30 June 2016

Now that Everything is All Over the Place

I have delayed further blog entries because the situation keeps changing. Good job too because I'd not have foreseen Boris Johnson bottling it.

It turns out that the assassin of David Cameron assassinated himself, via his most recent highly paid Daily Telegraph column. His supporters read it and received a cold shudder, that he might tack towards the remain camp. I took it that he might never invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty at all.

The task was to win office and then proceed; obviously, he would not have had sufficient majority to manage matters, and would need a General Election. Although that might be more difficult than some imagine, the weakness of Labour is ever more spectacular at the moment. It could be that Boris would prefer not to take a pay cut in office (though usually they do), or be overwhelmed by the demands of the job - but most likely he might consider that he'd end up a Gordon Brown, an 'after-Blair' character, in this case 'After-Cameron'. He has plenty of time to consider again after a leader has burnt out on a sticky wicket of a decision made that cannot by definition be carried through successfully. It can't because the exit campaign promises cannot be delivered.

And he may have just decided that he'll take the risk, that a wrecker who bottled it won't be considered again.

I was aware this blog entry might not last a day. It seems in part not to have lasted some hours. Since I wrote this Michael Gove has been accused of "student union politics" and it seems the daggers were out more spectacularly than I had considered. It must be the article, because Gove has stressed that the person elected to be Prime Minister must be a definite out person. He'll attract the nut jobs in this, from the Tory Party, but I think he is finished. Boris killed Cameron, he's killed Boris, and the field is left to others. Plus telling us that Boris is incapable, Gove once clearly said that Gove is incapable of doing the PM job as well. So Boris was capable, but now is not; Gove was not capable, but now is; May who wanted in is now sufficiently out. It also seems Angela Eagle could leave it until next week. Until Chilcott? Or have they bottled it? Heseltine is livid that Boris has destroyed so much and then walked away from the bloody mess.

The Conservatives are now all over the place, although leadership and a General Election would refresh. It should not be clear that they would win, although Labour are making this a lot easier than should be.

I supported (did not vote) Jeremy Corbyn as a person with appropriate ideas for the moment, for the future. The Liberal Democrats were pretty much irrelevant, even after a few recognitions that propping up the Tories was a disaster to themselves and a betrayal of their supporters. That's why their representation fell from over 50 MPs to eight, and nearly didn't get eight.

Events that shift plate tectonics throw everything up in the air. As Conservatives are near leaderless, Labour has finally erupted in so far as the MPs without mass reselection do not support their leader. Right or wrong about a coup, the facts are on the ground.

For me that principle fact is UKIP second in Labour constituency after constituency, sitting on a tipping point that cannot be allowed to happen. As I've long predicted, a General Election must come and fast. There is no time for mass deselection of Labour MPs, which would be highly damaging and unjust, as most have good links with their own electorate.

But also needs must. Corbyn has found himself similar to but the mirror of Theresa May politically, she inward and he outward, but in his case we need a stronger pro-EU stance in all that it has offered to resist what the other lukewarm pro-EU person might want in terms of exiting, or Gove do should the one time 'never me' person get the reins of power.

Corbyn is now the wrong man to lead the opposition, regardless. But he wants to resist and go by the rule-book. Recent days have reminded me of the drama GBH. Michael Murray was then a kind of Derek Hatton, if more naive - Corbyn is none of these - but behind Murray the front man were much harder men. It turns out that the hard man, the 'intellectual', is John McDonnell MP, the Shadow Chancellor. He is the one who won't budge, who dismisses compromises, and insists on the rules. Behind him are movement/s and sometimes the mob. In GBH, part of the mob was provided by the British State, stirring it to exploit Murray, and temporarily terrorise the decent Labour Party member Jim Nelson. There is something reminiscent of Militant Tendency in the Momentum movement. You start to wonder who is running the show.

I have wondered if Corbyn is waiting for the Chilcott Enquiry on Iraq, to have a platform to call for the arrest of Tony Blair etc.. and then to withdraw. He surely doesn't need this office to do this.

Others more flexible would recognise facts on the ground. As I write the only said candidate, Angela Eagle, is delaying her challenge, because it would need a challenge if Corbyn won't step down. She is at least good in parts - the despatch box - but who knows.

The future of Britain as a successful, stable, tolerant country is at stake, and a majority of 3% on turnout is not a good basis for a seismic change in direction. There is every legitimacy for a political party to stand on the basis that the referendum was unnecessary and a gamble for party reasons, that its leave campaign was dishonest, and that after the result its claims cannot be carried out. A General Election always trumps an advisory referendum, with a manifesto that takes account of change and the basis of representative democracy. So make it clear, Liberal Democrats. The plate tectonics have shifted, and we have had the earthquake. It is different now. So, making sure it is supply and need, not coalition, you stand as a pro-EU party on that basis regarding the exit campaign, and that the Liberal Democrats will not repeal or enact legislation to activate Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. It has to be a solid promise, and not one like on ending Higher Education course loans, which was never a promise in the first place.

It could even be a dramatic reversal of the Liberal Democrats' fortunes, as dramatic in gains as the losses at the previous General Election. Say it clearly - consistent with the Liberal Democrats' position and as Liberals for many decades. I would move my vote back on this basis.

I would not expect Labour, even under renewed leadership to go this far, but the hope is it would not feel obliged to reveal the 1972 Act and pass new legislation to trigger Article 50. My problem with Jeremy Corbyn is that he would be happy to 'introduce socialism' in Europe, Britain, or England, in whatever entity over which he had power. He is not going to be too bothered about leaving the European Union. And frankly, this is not good enough.

Monday 27 June 2016

More After the Referendum

Pub night with friends, and all agreed on one aspect at least that the stupid referendum has now led to political and economic chaos, that so many people we met on polling day and after were exit people and yet seemed to have voted in relative ignorance. At a wedding and a post-referendum conversation, the person says to my friend, 'Oh I didn't know this, and I can't like go back and vote again.' I've said of the daughter whose firm may as well relocate into the EU area now. He reckoned she may well end up living in America! We agreed too that there is only one person to blame for this: the masterless tactician David Cameron. But we disagreed too, and here is how things have moved on.

In contrast: had stay-in won, the Conservative Party would have split. We'd have retained economic certainty but politics would have been rolling around. And having come out, for now it is the Labour Party potentially splitting. If Jeremy Corbyn stands for the leadership and wins again, he will end up with a virtual second party in Parliament of Labour MPs doing their own thing.

Now I might be sympathetic to Corbyn, but I am not and here is why. In constituency after constituency, UKIP is second to Labour. If Labour cannot connect with the public, one that voted for exiting - and this takes the ability to communicate and reassure as well as principles, then there will be a tipping point of a group of UKIP MPs into Parliament leaving a rump Labour Party - Scotland all over again, but in the north.

Now I'd rather have a quarter of a loaf than a negative loaf. So, as I said to my friends, Labour needs someone who can talk (a little) nasty, who can communicate, northern too. Not another 'metropolitan' like Chuka Umunna, or some Blairite, but someone who can bite. I don't like Caroline Flint, which makes her or like her a good candidate. Someone who performs in Parliament, but more so who looks like they can handle tough and difficult matters and people.

I'd be more pro-Corbyn but he was half-hearted in the Europe campaign, and I was predicting a necessary General Election around the corner because the Referendum was never going to solve the Tory Party problem - either way in fact. This General Election is coming down the line.

A General Election trumps a Referendum. What would give our representatives (we are a representative democracy after all - not a direct democracy, and boy doesn't this referendum demonstrate why) the right to stand against this referendum is to stand for parliament on that basis of saying the referendum was wrong in conception, contradictory promises and outcome.

So plates (tectonics) shift and new realities arise. I said tonight the Liberal Democrats did what they did in the past because the "Orange Mob" took over and yes they did prop-up Cameron. (In fact they made him a functional leader, after which he became as overstretched as Anthony Eden but without the gravitas). But if they learn from their error and stand on the basis of maintaining our membership of the EU, then they give to themselves that mandate. It might attract a minority of votes but also could be a good minority and the basis of recovery. Some of us would need persuading to go back again, but times change and needs change. Politics is about responding and being relevant. One friend says the Liberal Democrats can do this because they believe in nothing: not so, because they have always been pro-European. It is hardly 'believing in nothing' to stand against a referendum result.

Pure socialism? Me a socialist? No, I said - I have always been a "social liberal", and it has a long history. I like Corbyn but I didn't vote for him and would not again for the reason that I am not Labour. One friend is considering full membership of Labour, but not the purist Socialist. Whereas - yes - I can be flexible enough to change my vote. And easily forgotten is our friends also voted in the Coalition: not that any of us intended this. We were betrayed by the Liberal Democrats.

But I'm sorry because I like Corbyn. But there isn't the time to do my friend's "get rid of the lot of them" from Parliament who he calls "Tories". To me they are not Tories at all anyway. Whatever one thinks of the legacy of the Blair years, these are actual realities. Karl Turner MP (ours) may be useless, but he's not a Tory or even Blairite, but his ditching of Corbyn is a reality on the ground. It may be a pre-discussed Benn-led coup and all that, but with a General Election soon it is still facts on the ground.

Otherwise it is a big Tory win, and UKIP nasties leaving a rump Labour Party in Britain. Yes I want rail, utilities, a bank at least, a building firm for houses, nationalised, but nationalised with a workers' co-op aspect, not the old 1940s top-down Civil Service model of running the commanding heights. I'm with Corbyn on such. But we are now in acute danger of going back to the 1970s economically - an economy based on food and shelter, of losing internationalism, of losing people-movement through Europe back and forth, of losing the core relationships with our near continent, losing economic and social liberties, and loss of the vision of sharing with those like us. The Barbarians are at the door, and they have to be countered.

The stench is also from the racists released, people who were being slowly repressed and controlled in part due to our wider European outlook, however challenging that was with such movement of people across the world. Now they are expecting the foreign to 'go home' and it is just bloody nasty stuff.

Well, I don't care how we restore matters. But in Real Politik, we go from this referendum result. We say to Johnson, Gove and Farage: "Go and negotiate then." And let's then, quite possibly, have a second referendum when you don't come up with what you promised. You can't, because what you promised was contradictory. My socialist friend says no second referendum and the other ain't so sure. I am - whatever it takes to restore sanity. So, see what they promise, set against a diminished economy of course. As Alex Salmond said, and my retailing friend knows, 'if you break it you keep it'. They broke it and it is theirs to negotiate.

And Nicola Sturgeon's brief is to deal with Scotland. The Scottish Parliament is in part devolved in the context of the European Union already. And if the Parliament does not consent, then over to the UK Supreme Court to work that one out. If the new UK right wing refuse to grant a second referendum on Independence, a Scottish Parliament could declare UDI. That would be interesting.

A new Council of the British Isles was always the best way to sort out these islands, but that would be in an EU context too: especially considering the relationship between north and south of Ireland. Again, it's independent countries but co-operating, even co-ordination: including all of Ireland! And yet we might instead see not only a customs border in Ireland again, but one between England and Scotland. Two currencies on each island as well, two borders of import tariffs. Madness. Little England (and Wales still attached) would be the worst off and Ireland in a tense condition of unsatisfactory division.

Oh and our politicians have neither the ability nor the time to unravel European legislation, European law is deep in our body politic, and absorbed in our economic and cultural life. Parliament would have to sit day and night to unravel the Europe in the British bloodstream after 40+ years. These people aren't up to the job; the Civil Service is probably unwilling and too small.

Meanwhile, this is a moving situation, very fast at such a point of change - of shaking out. We haven't heard from Osborne because he is likely to produce what he promised, which is an Emergency Budget - austerity with knobs on. Tories for exit will oppose him, and if so the markets will slide into the abyss as the government loses control.

So: Labour must sort it out and fast in that Corbyn should do the decent thing and stand down. Labour is more than you, even more than your purist principles. Liberal Democrats - make the pro-European Union stance front and back of the manifesto for the coming General Election. Act fast because as the economy plunges into uncertainty, politics will need to speed up. But best of luck with this, the political class, because you have taken on more than you can chew.

Saturday 25 June 2016

After the Referendum: Division and Mess

People who voted for out of the EU are asking others for unity and to be less angry, to 'come together'. I even saw such sentiments in a Church of England statement via several bishops.

If only it was so easy. Well, they may not be saying it is easy. If only it was even possible. The reason why this referendum result is "stupid" is because of the mess it has left in the body politic across what will soon not be the United Kingdom, in the economic life of these islands, and in the cultural stench that has been released. Plus after 40 years EU law is interwoven with our law and to unravel it will keep Parliament busy for a very long time, probably more time than is available.

What has not been said on the media so far is this: we do not have, in these islands, the quality of politician to do the job that would make a positive result of this very divisive outcome.

The current and now outgoing Prime Minister, David Cameron, must qualify as the most reckless and ridiculous Prime Minister we have had. Some commentators have said he compares with Anthony Eden and Neville Chamberlain. The latter at least had good intentions. David Cameron was always a second class politician, a Public Relations man, a partial clone of Tony Blair by intent. All along his political career he was a fixer with, it seemed, the only ideal that the privileged should rule. He didn't have a wider vision or purpose. The referendum was no more that a way to silence his critics, and he thought an appeal to get some more votes. It was part of his otherwise negative General Election campaigning. The Conservatives set about destroying their one-time Liberal Democrat partners, who had propped them up thinking nice things about participating with other parties. Perhaps Cameron thought he wouldn't win outright and the referendum would not happen.

But when it did happen, he had to go through a pantomime of renegotiation. The gamble was to win it, overcome it, and carry on. The referendum proved so negative and divisive that, whichever side won, he was in trouble. The first speech of Nigel Farage before results came in showed that the "war" would have continued: he'd have had no majority.

His tactical gamble failed. But what he did was he gambled the whole of the UK on his tactical referendum. Would you bet your house on the basis of getting in front of a traffic queue.

Set against him is another second rate politician, Boris Johnson. He had written almost spoof articles bashing the EU for The Daily Telegraph. He has spoken in favour of continued EU membership. A few months back, he came for being out of the EU. He gambled the future of the UK in order to be a political assassin. He has succeeded. Now the assassin will present himself for Prime Minister material. He was rightly booed when he appeared as 'victor'. He is no more capable of clearing up this mess than Cameron. He won't be in control.

The situation is now division upon division. There is division between economy and culture, division between young and old, division between England and its capital, division between Scotland and England, division made between North and South of Ireland, division between the strained UK and Europe. What is more, we have had right wing politicians play the immigration card (whatever real concerns about resources) so that people, who have no idea how the EU is run because nobody would tell them, lashed out at the austerity they have undergone for so long now. Like lemmings, they have voted for a right wing whose reward to them will be even more austerity, a stripping of workers' rights, a privatising and underfunding of the NHS. Betrayed again, these underemployed and underclass look like idiots. It's not their fault - we've had no political education in schools, a political education that would have had to at least describe how the institutions of the EU work.

During the campaign it was clear that the leave camp did not know what their future out would be. Even now some are saying, given the Remain vote percentage, that they should pay for access to the Single Market and have to renege on the immigration promise. Others say they cannot renege on that promise, so they have to accept a diminished economy (and renege on economic promises).

If I was Nicola Sturgeon (and she is one of this island's more talented politicians) I'd be in Europe seeking terms of entry for an independent Scotland. Have a plan - get the currency issue sorted out and it may have to be the euro entered at a competitive rate - and have it in place for an independence referendum. The Scots have every right to hold it. At least then part of these islands will be in the EU.

The Northern Irish also deserve a referendum, even though the nationalists might lose it. The authorities must preserve the democratic process in that already and long divided place. We cannot have a leave EU government minister deciding on her own whether or not to have such a referendum. The Unionists knew what they were doing with supporting out, to make more of the border. Well that needs to be tested directly.

Even Wales, infected by the UKIP can of worms, might want an independence referendum. But even if not, the current division in the UK Parliament, so visible in the Scottish Nationalist bloc, would be sorted out by independence and then, perhaps, an intergovernmental Council of the British Isles.

And if we had that, England, a rump country left because of Cameron's gamble, might reapply to join the EU. Or not. Big industry, business, finance, would find it easier and more straightforward to locate on the continent. Our business here would be, presumably, to keep people fed, clothed and housed, and move about.

Here is where it really went wrong. Go back to 1975 and the 'in' politicians had vision. A new set of institutions, they said, that were better than the Nation State. A different ideal of shared decisions, shared interest, a people like us, so that we would be them and they us. Instead, no one offered vision against the tribal nationalists. The nationalists of the UK were able to pick up the put upon and dispossessed and exposed the deep divisions that at least the EU managed, if not as best as could be.

British influence in the EU has pushed it towards a neo-liberal ethos which, when combined with German financial control, has proved difficult and unwieldy. The dirigiste model was far more effective at managing regions and building economic and political consensus. Perhaps with us gone the EU will adapt back to what it was good at and restore hope.

One final division to consider. Some of us are not ready to put political trust back into the Liberal Democrats. Their weakness is one reason why Cameron has delivered this disaster. But they betrayed their voters, and became something other. Someone has already likened the 'Brexit' dropping of campaign promises to the Liberal Democrat deception on achieving power. So we have to look to the Labour Party. And the Labour Party is divided too.

Why? Because a load of pissed off downtrodden people joined with ideologues to give Jeremy Corbyn a mandate to lead Labour to an ethical left. Now I like Jeremy Corbyn and his ethical centre is well grounded. Indeed it was rightly said that he was where many people were regarding the EU. But just as we have a representative democracy where 76% of MPs were pro-EU, and they should know the arguments, so it is that Jeremy Corbyn just does not carry the support of his MPs.

These are desperate times because the right have won this referendum and they will set the agenda for little England. There now MUST be a Labour leader who can, perhaps, say some unpleasant things as well as have ethical intentions regarding equality and the future. If Caroline Flint, for example,wants to attack Corbyn as not reaching out, and she can talk the talk, then she should have the guts to stand for election when Corbyn's position becomes untenable. Jeremy Corbyn also ought to ask if half a loaf is better than crumbs of cake. I don't like Caroline Flint, but I can see how she might connect.

It is necessary because the coming Tory leadership change will exploit a weak Labour Party to get a majority, and then all bets are off. So we need to find talent in Labour to take on whichever second rate politician the Tories choose. We are not spoilt for choice in Labour, but someone has to take on the task for at least a term or two at the top.

Meanwhile I have signed a petition for a second referendum - at the time of doing it over 460,000 have also done so. I have signed because the mess is so profound that the quickest solution is to put a lid on it quick. The outers have already broken their promises but far worse is the utter mess that has been left. We do not have the calibre of politician, nor the means, nor the time, to sort this out.

Perhaps there is a reason why, in the past, EU countries that have referendums as part of their political process have had them twice.