The Syllogism of Betrayal

Earlier today I added a short microblog post in which I called Nigel Farage a traitor. Its a strong word, and maybe one that I shouldn’t throw around so casually.

I don’t really go in for patriotism, nationalism, and all that kind of thing. But I do want Britain — the country I live in, was born in, and am a citizen of — to be the best country it can be. On the assumption that most citizens would have a similar desire, it seems reasonable to me to think that a citizen who acts against that desire — against the country’s best interests — is betraying the country.

Nigel Farage has made it his life’s work to get Britain to leave the European Union, and has been successful in making (or at least starting)1 that happen.

Leaving the EU is not in the best interests of the country.

Therefore Nigel Farage has been working against the best interests of the country. Therefore he is a traitor.

It’s a simple syllogism.

Of course, he’s far from alone in this. I count Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, and, of course, Teresa May in the same group. And many more.

Indeed, you could argue that anyone who voted to leave the EU is similarly guilty, but that seems unfair. Many knew exactly what they were doing, of course. But many also (possibly many more) were duped.

It doesn’t mean much if I name these people as traitors, but it’s worth recording what my thinking was behind using that term.


  1. Brexit can still be stopped, and must be. []
The Syllogism of Betrayal

Scattered Thoughts on the General Election

An Election Unlike Any Other

This election is going to be completely unique in our lifetime, probably ever. Because people will be torn between voting on the normal things they care about: health, security, homes, welfare, the economy… — and the big thing of our time: Brexit.

There were close to half the electorate who voted to stay in the EU (close to half the turnout, anyway). There’s no reason to suppose that any of those have changed their minds, even if many now talk in terms of acceptance. There are plenty who voted the other way who wish things had gone differently. And the non-voters are an unknown.

If a party — or a coalition — were to clearly stand on a platform of stopping Brexit, or even of promising a second referendum, they would be in a position unlike any party ever. Or so it seems to me.

Unfortunately only the Liberal Democrats seem to be even close to that position.

I Can’t Vote Labour

I can’t in conscience vote for a Labour party that won’t clearly place itself against Brexit. I just can’t. This means I have to leave the party, I guess. Corbyn called today for “A Brexit that works for all.” No, no, no.

I imagine this means I’ll be voting Lib Dem. Possibly Green. I’m not sure where they stand yet. In one sense, of course, it doesn’t matter, as I live in one of the safest Labour seats, but that’s not really the point. I’ll be writing to Diane Abbot to explain my position, but I don’t imagine it will change hers, which is to support Corbyn, even though her constituency is one of the most pro-remain in the country.

I voted for Corbyn as leader twice, but he’s very disappointing now. Though I have to say that his policies on literally everything else would be dramatically better than the Tories.

Why, and Why Now?

Why has Mayhem changed her mind on a snap election, and why now? The obvious thing is the Tory lead in the polls, and to take advantage of Labour chaos. Nothing to with Brexit at all, not directly.

But something I was seeing on Facebook tonight was the idea that they were about to lose their majority, when the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) brings charges for electoral fraud against up to 30 Tory MPs. The prosecutions will still happen, but they won’t affect the position of MPs who get elected this time round (well, unless they get convicted, of course, but I’m guessing the Tories will quietly deselect the ones who are likely to go down).

Effect of Fixed-Term Parliaments Act

My first reaction was, “They can’t: what about the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act?” Turns out that contains a clause that lets the sitting parliament ignore it, as long as they get a two-thirds majority. The irony of that figure was not lost on me, as possibly my most-retweeted tweet shows:

Without Labour voting with the government they wouldn’t get that two-thirds. Corbyn has cheerfully agreed to go along, missing an open goal. First, the opposition should oppose the government, as a general principle. Unless the government is doing the right thing, which is not the case here. More amusingly, if they didn’t get the two-thirds, they would have to go for a vote of no confidence. That is, a Tory MP would have to stand up in the House of Commons and move that “This house has no confidence in Her Majesty’s Government.” Even if they could come back from that, Corbyn should have forced it just for the lulz.

Polls Can’t Be Trusted

All is doom and gloom, because the polls look so bleak. Except… if there’s one thing the last few years have taught us, it’s that we can no longer rely on polls.1

On Newsnight tonight Paul Mason says he thinks Labour will win. Gotta admire his confidence, at least.


  1. Or the bookies, and don’t get me back onto that argument about how bookies’ odds can be mapped to percentages of expected voting. []
Scattered Thoughts on the General Election

The Night Before

I couldn’t let this night pass without acknowledging that tomorrow will be the start of us losing something great. In years to come the names of Cameron, May, Farage, Gove, etc, will be reviled, of course, but that doesn’t help us now. It doesn’t help us prevent the slide into the abyss of small-minded, inward-looking ugliness that I fear we are headed for.

I don’t want to see these islands turning into the nightmare archipelago that they could if we let the insane clowns in government lead us into a cesspit of deregulation, rejection of human rights, and economic disaster.

I reject all that. I choose optimism.

I choose to believe that most people are basically decent and want the best for everyone, even if a small minority of them made a bad choice in voting, guided by liars.

I choose to believe that there is such a thing as progress in society, in culture. It isn’t constant and it isn’t guaranteed, but its arc does bend towards justice.

I choose to believe that the forces of backwardness — the racists, the misogynists, the homophobes, and everyone who condemns their fellow humans for what they are, what they believe, how they live or who they love — that those people will be washed up by the tides of history, left flapping on the shores of the future, and waste away.

Tomorrow we will still be in the European Union, but no longer of it. Brexit can still be stopped, but if it isn’t, if it goes ahead at full crashing speed the way the Tories seem to want: I choose to believe that we can still be the open-minded, welcoming society that I know we are.

And one day, Europe, we’ll come back.

The Night Before

Demo

Sadly, I couldn’t make it to the anti-Brexit/pro-Europe demo today. I had a work thing that ended up taking most of the day. But I was there in spirit.

Last night was Comic Relief, which included Red Nose Day Actually. I thought the speech by Hugh Grant’s prime minister character was amazingly relevant to the times. Obviously that was intended, generally; but specifically it had resonance with London’s reaction to the Westminster terrorist attack.

Also about that, Mitch Benn has written a song called “London’s Had Worse,” in which he sings of our resilience and the attacker’s crapness. Not his best song, but no bad.

Demo

Holding Pattern

I’ve been working on a more substantial piece about music and gigs and nostalgia and my gig-going plans for the year, but it’s getting long, and possibly out of hand. So I’m going to delay it till later.

Consider this a placeholder.

And so it’s got some content of value, let me just draw your attention to the National March to Parliament next Saturday, 25th March. Meet from 11:00 in Park Lane.

I don’t know if it can do any good, but if you believe, as I do, that Brexit must be stopped, then you should try to be there.

Holding Pattern

Wiretaps and Wipeouts

Couple of thoughts about the news, tonight. First of all, CNN reports on Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s “counselor,” and her strange thoughts about microwaves:

“What I can say is there are many ways to surveil each other,” Conway said, before suggesting that surveillance could take place through phones, TVs or “microwaves that turn into cameras.”

I want one of these magic microwaves. I mean, think about it: you can reheat your leftovers, then take a photograph of them and post it to Instagram. All from the same device.

More sanely (at least slightly) they seem to be backing off from the nonsensical wiretapping accusations. According to Sean Spicer, the Whitehouse press secretary:

“The President used the word wiretaps in quotes to mean, broadly, surveillance and other activities”

So that’s OK, then.

In another article they treat it all more seriously, pointing out that doing down your predecessors is a tactic of dictators everywhere:

They, too, use the apparatus of government to support their whims. And worse, they also seek to punish their predecessors in office and political opponents — as we have seen in countries from Iran to Zambia to, of course, Russia.

How long until we hear Trump surrogates suggest that Obama might be guilty of a crime?

Closer to home, the UK government’s Mayhem programme involved them forcing through the Brexit bill, so we’re teetering along the slippery slope, getting ready to run towards the cliff of deadly metaphors.

Jeremy Corbyn has things in hand, though. He tweeted:

This is the same Jeremy Corbyn who, just a few weeks ago, put a three-line whip in place to make his MPs vote in favour of the initial version of the bill — which is identical to the version that has now been passed, since the Lords’ amendments were all rolled back.

I voted for him as leader, twice, but I regret it now, I’ve got to say. He’s a decent guy, and I agree with him on many — even most — issues. But on this, the most important thing facing our country today, leading to potentially the biggest disaster since the Second World War, he’s been completely useless. Worse: complicit.

Also on:
Wiretaps and Wipeouts

Why Are MPs Doing It?

This is the burning question of the day: why are our elected representatives in parliament behaving like idiots, frankly?

I wrote most of this a few days ago, but the question still stands.

The “it,” in case it’s not obvious, is waving through the bill to enable to government to trigger Article 50. They did so with very little scrutiny, and without accepting a single amendment. Now as I’ve made clear, I’m firmly of the opinion that Brexit must be stopped. But it’s looking increasingly likely that it won’t be.

We in the populace may have to accept that fact. But members of parliament don’t. They are (or were) exactly the ones who could have stopped it all.

It’s like there’s a bus full of schoolkids. The driver has lost control, and it’s careering towards a cliff edge. The driver jumped out and somehow survived. But the kids can’t get off. Luckily there’s another adult aboard. She grabs the wheel. Hooray, the kids will be saved as she swerves and brakes.

But wait: oh no, she isn’t braking. She’s steering more directly towards the cliff, and putting her foot down.

And all the people who could stop her are at best letting her go on, at worst egging her on. Even the ones who said they didn’t want to go over the cliff in the first place.

This simile may be getting out of hand.

Also on:
Why Are MPs Doing It?

Brexit Hope?

A very small hope. Brexit—take back control by the improbably-named Jolyon Maugham, suggests that a court ruling could be achieved which would ensure that we can back out of Brexit at the last moment:

The effects of an Article 50 notification are not fully understood—and not only because May is still peddling a blind bargain, a Brexit pig-in-a-poke. We do know that, should we ask and the other 27 member states agree, we could remain. But it is brave to assume that two years of exposure to the negotiating skills of Boris Johnson, Liam Fox and David Davis will not generate even one hold-out. […] The preponderance of legal opinion is that we could, after all, decide to remain. That we could, having notified, withdraw that notification. But, given the magnitude of the issue, our parliament must know more than what the answer probably is. It must know what it actually is.
[…] only the court to which we all subscribe can give an answer: the European Court in Luxembourg.

He/she (I’m guessing “he,” from the writing style) says:

But a case which—along with Green Party co-leader Jonathan Bartley, Steven Agnew, a Green member of the Northern Irish Assembly and Keith Taylor, a Green MEP—I am bringing in the Dublin High Court seeks to give us the power to travel back if we need it.

And he explains that:

We access it via a national court. And it can’t be one of ours. One of the complaints in the Dublin case is that the other 27 have breached the Treaty by excluding us from Council meetings before we’ve notified under Article 50. And that complaint can only be made by a court in one of those 27. The Irish court is the natural choice

Which all seems fair. The idea seems to be that the European Court of Justice could rule definitively that we could revoke our triggering of Article 50 at the end of the two-year negotiating period. And if the deal is bad, or especially if there isn’t one, parliament is likely to call another referendum in those circumstances, wherein we’ll know exactly what we’re voting for, and get it right this time.

A small hope, like I say. And it doesn’t protect us from the damage that’s being inflicted in the meantime.

But a small hope is better than none at all.

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