Meet the whingers!

As we reported last week, at grassroots level,  most people, whatever position they took in the referendum debate, have been sufficiently grown-up to accept the result and get on with life.  A You Gov poll published on Friday provides some hard statistics to back this up:-  69% of people believe the result of the EU referendum should be respected, with only 22% thinking it should be overturned. Similarly, only 34% of people thought a second EU referendum would be acceptable while 56% said it would not.

There remain, regrettably, a few outposts of childishness – sulky remainers who still cannot bring themselves to accept the result.  Lloyd Evans, writing in the Spectator, came across some of them at the Edinburgh Fringe.  Apparently support for remain among the arts world stood at 96%. Only one comedian cracked a pro-Brexit joke. Other comedians did their best to lighten their spirits with a bit of humour, such as  Andy Zaltzman, who claimed that  ‘Jeremy Corbyn campaigned for Remain with all the ferocity of a cornered blancmange’ but then went on to talk about who was to “blame” for the result.

As the article points out, one reason for the anger of these arty-types is that they have been heavily reliant on the EU for their funding. “Quitting the union means withdrawing from a little-known body, Creative Europe, which has astronomical sums to splurge around. Between 2014 and 2020 it intends to disburse a total of €1.46 billion to successful applicants“.

One has to ask, what has got into these people, moaning about not being able to go over to a foreign country with a begging bowl to demand the crumbs that fall from their table. Surely citizens of our great nation should have a bit more self-respect?

And it’s not just a few throughly spoilt arty types. The left of centre blogger Jon Worth who calls himself “an EU policy specialist by background” refuses to “Embrace it, make a success of it and shut up and move on.” Instead he writes, “If the Conservatives got into power and starting privatising something I didn’t like, what would I do? I’d come up with every possible way to stop it happening – using parliamentary means, legal means, protest means, trying to get press coverage. Until the law is passed, the thing actually happens, you do not give up. I see no reason why it should not be the same with the EU referendum.” he further states that he does not believe that Brexit will happen.

“Keep making your case and don’t apologise” he adds. “Find legal routes, use political parties and parliamentary means to oppose Brexit.” in other words, don’t accept the democratic will of the people  – an historical result achieved against overwhelming odds.  What a contrast to the attitude of the losing side after the 1975 referendum, which was simply “The people have spoken” .

Dear Reader, I expect by now your blood must be boiling, but before I sign off, let me introduce one more whinger for the collection: the Russian-born economist Anatole Kaletsky. Writing in the Guardian, he claims that “over time, with help from Brussels, public opinion will shift”.  His reasoning is simple – the referendum vote cannot hold back the tide of globalisation.  There are major flaws in his arguments, however. Increasing grobal trade is not causing other nations in other continents to construct federal superstates and pool their sovereignty.   ASEAN, NAFTA and, yes, EFTA  are trading blocs, nothing more.

The idea that the UK can secure “additional reforms” and then we’ll all be happy with EU membership is absolute rot.  Kaletsky’s proposal is essentially for the EU to play hardball  – offering no special deal. This will force the UK back to the negotiating table and, in exchange for a few minor concessions, the electorate would somehow see that EU membership is a good thing.

This argument falls down primarily because the referendum  was won by the Leavers in spite of considerable confusion about the bext exit strategy.  The only reform acceptable to most leavers would involve the complete dismantling of the EU institutions, the end of its political ambitions and its shrinkage to a mere free trade organisation. Some hope!

In addition, Kaletsky indulges in consderable speculation regarding which exit routes the Government has chosen. We know that much time is being spent behind the scenes evaluating the various options. Mrs May, to her credit, seems to be keen to ensure that a thorough plan is devised before  Article 50 is invoked.

In summary, for all the pitiful whinging of these incorrigible remainers, we are confident that the UK WILL exit the EU and that process will begin with Article 50 being invoked during 2017. Last Friday, Bloomberg suggested that Mrs May was going to set things moving by April at the latest. The waiting is frustrating, but there is nothing we can about it, except remain vigilant. Remainers cannot and will not be allowed to snatch defeat from the jaws of our great victory.

 

Photo by antigallery

Labour Leave will campaign for a fair exit

With the Labour Party currently occupied with choosing its leader, reporting of Brexit developments has largely focussed on the Government  – in particular Prime Minister Theresa May and the three ministers apointed to oversee the process – Boris Johnson, David Davis and Liam Fox.

However, the Labour Leave campaign, like CIB, is still very much in existence and will continue working hard to ensure that Brexit will mean Brexit and that there will be no second referendum. Its website has recently been updated to highlight its intentions to hold both the Government and the Labour Party to account. “Labour Leave will demand that the government leads us out of the EU” it states.

Labour Leave’s five principles are:

  1. Return all law-making powers to the UK Parliament, renewing our democracy.
  2. Ensure complete control over immigration policy and visas.
  3. Secure free trade in goods and services with Europe.
  4. Pursue global trade deals which protect our public services.
  5. Rebalance our economy, helping firms to achieve higher productivity, with rising wages and investing in the infrastructure to support export-led growth.

The website also features an interview with John Mills (depicted above) who, besides his involvement with Labour Leave, is a Committee Member of the Campaign for an Independent Britain. His upbeat assessment of the state of the UK  economy is well worth a listen.

Brexit – the mood at grassroots level eight weeks on

Away from the debate between politicians, businessmen and campaigners  about the best exit route, eight weeks after the memorable result of June’s referendum, life for ordinary people has settled down remarkably quickly.

In fact, it soon became apparent within a matter of days after June 23rd that life was carrying on as normal for much of the country. I recall a trip to London during the final week of June.  Walking down the south bank of the Thames, it struck me how little effect the referendum result  was having on day to day life. A long queue of people of all nationalities were waiting to buy tickets to the London Eye and the restaurants were full – in fact, my train home was even fuller! In short, you wouldn’t have thought we had just taken a major political decision only a few days ago.

Initial statistics suggest that life did indeed carry on much as normal during the first full month after the Brexit vote.  The number of people claiming unemployment related benefits fell by 8,600 in July. It had been expected to rise by around 9,000. The fall was the first since February this year. Other data showed that the employment rate in the UK reached a record high of 74.5% between April and June this year. Retail sales also grew by 1.4% during the month. The vote to leave the EU has not deterred people from spending money.  Furthermore, for all the uncertainly generated by David Cameron’s decision to call the referendum, London attracted more venture capital for start-ups than other major European cities. According to an article in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, it attracted €1.5bn in the first half of the year, well ahead of its nearest rivals Stockholm (€1bn), Paris (€674m), and Berlin (€520m).

Significantly. although the rate of UK consumer price inflation jumped to 0.6% in the year to July followin the Brexit vote, it was only slightly up on the 0.5% recorded in March and still well below the 1% threshold which triggers a letter from the governor of the Bank of England to the Chancellor explaining why inflation is so far below the 2% target!

BBC Radio 4 broadcast an interesting programme on Wednesday Evening where two groups of people from the most pro-leave and the most pro-remain areas of the UK met in separate rooms to discuss their feelings following the Brexit vote. Two Rooms, hosted by Fi Glover,  was another fascinating insight into how quickly life has settled down. The leavers, from Boston, Lincolnshire, were the more optimistic of the two groups, expressing great hopes especially for the UK’s trade prospects. The remainers, from Brixton in South London, talked of their shock when the result was announced. They were concerned about possible loss of access to the single market and expected an economic downturn.

Both groups,  however, accepted the result. Indeed, one person used the phrase “now we’ve left”, even though we haven’t even invoked Article 50 let alone come out the other end! Interestingly, both groups saw Brexit as a long overdue opportunity to re-boot our democracy and to decentralise power to a local level. For all the initial horror of some Brixtonian remainers, there were no calls for a second referendum. They may not have wanted a leave vote, but Brexit as far as they were concrned means Brexit.

Such attitudes at the grassroots level should not come as a shock. For four month’s David Cameron’s decison to call the referendum  thrust the issue of EU membership into a prominence it had never previously enjoyed.  A year ago, just before the General election, a survey by YouGov placed “Europe” as far down as 7th in its list of voters’ priority issues, well behind housing, welfare and health. Anyone who has ever stood as a UKIP candidate will have known the frustration that in general elections, the EU was never widely viewed as the most important factor in determining how people would vote.  After its moment in the spotlight, it is therefore unsurpisingly again receding into the background.

But not totally. News that over a million Eastern European migrants are now working in the UK will have served as a reminder to some people why they voted to leave, while the Daily Express has unearthed another story which will raise plenty of hackles:- a German-based agency called medaltracker.eu whose data is used by offical EU websites, has published a chart showing that the greatest number of medals in the Rio Olympics has been won by the EU! Nowhere is the UK to  be seen, which is  particularly galling considering the tremendous performances by Team GB. It seems that the Brexit vote has done nothing to change the mindset of the EU élite who opened a museum four years ago costing £44 million and called the “House of European History” which calls the Second World War a “civil war“, in spite of quite a bit of the action taking place in North Africa and the Far East

While it seems impossible to change this very selective and bizarre interpretation of history, hopefully, if our government and Civil Service can get their act together, by the time the 2020 Olympics begin in Tokyo, “now we’ve left” really will mean “now we’ve left” and the likes of Medaltracker will not be able to repeat their insult to our heroic athletes.

 

 

The case for the interim solution

Whatever your thoughts on how best to exit the EU, this helpful paper is well worth reading. Although published by the Adam Smith Institute, it is a collaborative effort, also involving Dr Kristian Niemitz, poverty reserach fellow at the Institute for Economic Affairs, the country’s oldest free-market think tank, and Roland Smith, who is a widely-read blogger as well as a fellow at the ASI.

The principal argument of the paper can be summarised as follows:-

  • Re-joining EFTA to access the EEA is only a short-term compromise
  • It does, however, allow us to make a quicker departure from the EU than a bespoke arrangement
  • We would immediately be outside the political EU project, with a relationship based on trade only
  • We would not be required to join the Schengen area (a myth which I had to counter a couple of times in referendum debates)
  • It would keep business happy – some of whom voted to stay in the EU because they wanted access to the Single Market but who may not have supported the political aspects of the EU project
  • We would have power to reduce migration from the EU
  • Parliament would regain power over, among other things, agriculture, fisheries, foreign policy, law & order and VAT
  • We could conclude our own trade deals with non-EU countries
  • We would regain our seat on those global bodies which increasingly determine the rules for world trade
  • We could choose to participate in EU projects which may be of benefit, such as the Erasmus student exchange system, but not in those which were not in our interest
  • We could move on and leave the EEA at any future point of our own choosing

Above all, as the authors point out, it would help heal the wounds  caused by the Brexit vote. It won’t satisfy everyone but would help the country move forward together.

Brexit – media muddle and rubbish galore

At first glance, headlines in a number of papers proclaiming “No Brexit until late 2019” sound thoroughly depressing. Has some new hold-up to triggering Article 50 suddenly appeared on the horizon? Not at all. In spite of a spat between Boris Johnson and Liam Fox over whether the Department for International Trade or the Foreign & Commonwealth Office will head up UK foreign policy, Theresa May has insisted that  it is full steam ahead in the preparation for invoking Article 50 early next year and has told the two men to “stop playing games.”

If her plans go according to schedule, the two-year negotiation period would take us to early 2019. Factor in even a short delay in preparing the ground or a mutually-agreed extension to the negotiations and we will find ourselves in the second half of 2019 without having gone through the Brexit door.  With France and Germany both holding major elections in 2017,  it is quite likely that there will need need to be an extension even before the complexities of negotiating a succesful divorce are taken into account. A change of incumbent or government could result in previously-agreed changes having to be revisited if the leadership in either of those countries change – a distinct possibility in France, where President Hollande’s popularity ratings are very low.

Is business going to suffer as a result of June 23rd’s vote?  Well before the referendum, we predicted a short-term blip in the event of a Brexit vote, particularly a drop in the value of sterling. We pointed out that the economic gains were fore the longer term. House prices have fallen in the wake of Brexit, dropping by 2.6% in London and 2% in the South East. Is this a calamity? Ask any first-time buyer about the absurd prices they are having to pay to get onto the housing ladder and you will not hear any sadness on their part.  Another report claimed that businesses had become “pessimistic” as a result of the Brexit vote. Read the article in full, however, and it states that 36%  of companies are planning to increase staffing levels now compared with 40% before the referendum. A slight fall in optimism, but hardly evidence of widespread business gloom.

It is frustrating that some remainers still seem unable to accept that we voted to leave – and with good reason. Avinash Persaud, writing in the Economic and Political Weekly highlights the supposed correlation between voting to leave and lower educational qualification. Those of us with degrees who voted to leave are becoming utterly sick of being characterised as ignoramuses. If anything, the number of graduates who voted for remain is an indication of the woeful inadequacy of our educational system as opposed to any correlation between intelligence and support for the EU.

Mr Persaud, like many other commentators, also links support for Brexit to disenchantment with free trade and the reforms that began under Margaret Thatcher. This again is simplistic twaddle. During the course of the Brexit campaign, one of the most frequently repeated advantages of Brexit was the prospect of beginning to take control of our own trade and escaping the protectionism of the EU. I  for one was accused in one debate by my pro-EU opponent of advocating “Singapore on steroids”.

While the Brexit vote was strong in white working classes areas, the wonderful result on June 23rd was achieved by their alliance with frustrated small businessmen, some trade unionists, a few Labour MPs, a few more Tory MPs and a selection of educated professional types unhappy with the loss of our sovereignty, control of our trade and the top-down nature of the EU.

Of these unlikely bedfellows, the most uniquely British component is the strongly Eurosceptic centre right – one of the legacies of Thatcherism.  Peter Mandelson’s claim that Jeremy Corbyn somehow sabotaged the remain vote  just does not stand up to scrutiny.  Undecided centre-right voters were never going to be  won over by a Labour politician, whether Blairite of Corbynite. Somehow, Mandelson and his ilk still seem unable to come to terms with the fact that plenty of highly educated intelligent people studied the arguments on both sides of the debate and decided that we would be better off out.

Nor, sadly, are they giving up in their attempts to overrule the will  of the people. The European Movement, which was a recipient of substantial CIA funding in the past, is organising a  “March for Europe” on 3rd September. “We need to send a message that 16 million people voted to remain” says their propaganda. Well, we have a message for the European Movement:- over 17 million people voted to leave and we won. That’s called democracy.

Lord Stoddart, a patron and former Chairman of CIB,  recently issued a stark warning to Lord Mandelson and other  Europhile members of the Upper Chamber:-

“My colleagues in the Lords would do well to remember that the Brexit vote was the largest vote for anything in the history of our nation.  According to a study by the University of East Anglia, had Vote Leave been a political party, it would have won a huge landslide of 421 Parliamentary seats.  That would equate to 65% of all seats and 73% of seats in England and Wales.  Mess with this massive mandate at your peril!”

Photo by Brian Smithson (Old Geordie)

Brexit and the claimed increase in “hate crime”

I received an appeal from a charity I support which helps the victims of torture. It talked of an “unprecedented rise in hate crime….across the country” and claimed that “Each day the news brings stories of political upheaval and a rising wave of racist hate crime”, linked with the Brexit vote.  It goes on to appeal for extra funds because the charity fears losing its EU funding, which amounted to over £2.5 million in the last sixteen years.

Now, of course, I deplore bad behaviour by anybody. Aggressive and unpleasant behaviour must be particularly distressing to vulnerable people, recovering from the terrible experiences of torture.

But, rather like that petition to overturn the result of the referendum, there is something altogether too pat and too convenient about this story of a “wave of hatred”. An article on this subject by Brendan O’Neill appeared in the Spectator of 6 August  entitled “The Real Hate Crime Scandal” and I am indebted to him for the following information.

The police say that 3,192 reports of hate incidents were received in the last two weeks of June and 3,001 in the first fortnight of July, constituting a rise of 48 per cent and 20 per cent respectively . Many of these reports (the police cannot say how many) came from a website called True Vision which allows anyone anywhere to report anonymously something they say they experienced or witnessed. Every such report is instantly logged as a hate crime. No evidence required.

The police’s “Hate Crime Operational Guidance”  now stresses that the perception of the victim or any other person is the deciding factor in whether something is measured as a hate crime or hate incident. “Evidence of …hostility is not required…The perception of the victim  is the defining factor… the victim does not have to justify or provide evidence of their belief… and police officers….should not directly  challenge the perception”.

“Hate Crime Procedure” by Surrey Police instructs that, even when nothing hateful was said to the victim….still the police must record  the incident as hate crime, if the victim perceives it to be so. Manchester Police’s guidance says that, if a victim of alleged hate crime feels that the police are indifferent, this is then victimising the victim a second time “whether or not it is reasonable for them to perceive it in that way”. Truth is “immaterial”.

I now revert to my own experience of two incidents which might have generated three reports of “hate crime” and could have caused endless trouble for those potentially  accused.

An outside Church group hired the Church hall of another denomination for their services. They started to violate the conditions of the let – by overstaying their hire period to the inconvenience of the caretaker and by leaving increasing amounts of equipment which they should have taken with them at the end of each service.

They were warned several times but persisted. They were pushing  to become keyholders. The situation became intolerable for the caretaker and he told them to leave, giving written notice of the reasons. The immediate response was “You’re doing this because we’re black”.  As the caretaker was sure of his ground, this did not shake him.

Nothing further was heard but the whole Church could have been tied up for days with police enquiries, if a complaint had been made. Facts do not matter – only the “perception” of the self-proclaimed victim.  Those are the orders which the police follow.

More recently, I was driving my car leaving a roundabout when a man stepped across the road in front of me without looking. I stood on my brakes and sounded my horn.

He made a very rude gesture. As he was black, he could easily have made a complaint that I had tried to run him down for motives of racial hatred. He could have noted my registration number.

It occurred to me that I could have put in a complaint for racial hatred because of his rude gesture but I doubt whether my perception would have counted for much. A social worker of my acquaintance told me many years ago that in RAT (Racial Awareness Training), the instructor told them as a fact which could not be questioned that  only white people – particularly the English – were uniquely racist.  That was the perception of the instructor which the trainees had to accept as fact.

As anyone can make a race hate report anonymously on the True Vision website and the police apparently cannot separate those reports from the others,  it would be easy to generate a completely fictitious “wave of hatred” – rather like the thousands of bogus signatories on that anti BREXIT petition. Such a ploy would serve the purposes of the enemies of independence very well to tarnish  the reputation of independence campaigners.

Photo by Neil T