Category Archives: #politics

Real News or Fake News?

NEVER would I have believed I’d question the INTEGRITY (if not the message given out) of a news report. Yet within ten minutes of the 11pm Brexit Day deadline (January 31st 2020) that’s EXACTLY what happened to me. Was that news report for real or was it faked? So the date and time not only heralded a moment of political history, but a seismic shift in my thought process, and here’s why.

For years I’ve switched to RT and Aljazeera (I know they have their own agendas) for proper world news coverage, as our own BBC and SKY has had a reduced output in this area, especially since the referendum. But Brexit Day was a domestic event, so I watched SKY for the occasion; a little unsure if the BBC would report anything, shall we say, a bit out of step with the majority. On the TV appeared one of the saddest things I’ve seen-the EU countdown clock super-imposed onto the White Cliffs of Dover! As the zero moment struck, goodbye to Europe written in multi-languages appeared followed by a WE’VE LEFT sign. Effectively the proverbial two-finger salute over the English Channel, which I could not feel proud in seeing.

A similar countdown clock had been super-imposed onto the facade of No.10 as well, followed by an appearance of Big Ben seemingly bonging zero hour, adding insult to injury. Within minutes I began wondering, dig the Big Ben and Dover Cliffs thing REALLY happen, or was it some digital wizardry mixed with subliminal message reporting instead? It seemed an accurate account of what was happening, but my mind hesitated, especially as the events were so surreal it was like a bad dream of someone’s figment of imagination. This was compounded by the revelry documented in various parts of England, and the mournful sombre mood seen in Scotland. Further evidence, if any was needed, of a divided United Kingdom mindset.

I thought of a London based teacher friend who was visiting the North of England on Brexit night. A student of his had accused him of treachery for such an offense, and I wondered if the Morpeth fireworks in north England would appease the young person’s attitude.

As I watched the singing, cheering and flag waving taking place in Parliament Square and beyond, it had a remarkable similarity to the celebration at the end of World War 2. Looking at it, you could say that the Brexit issue has been like a civil war in this country, a war of harsh words, fierce debate, insults, and fallings out. Last night’s victory seems very hollow, because those injured feelings won’t go away lightly, if at all.

I knew Brexit would happen one day; I wasn’t in denial and accepted the referendum result, even if I didn’t like it. I know of people who voted leave, a few I deeply respect, and my respect for them remains.

This morning I just feel incredibly sad, that a political mandate driven to prop up the Conservative Party, has caused such a division in this nations psyche. That as a country we have walked away from a union of nations who in my lifetime have been close allies. But I’m also personally shaken, that the manifestation of that mandate and how it was reported, made me seriously question the validity of the TV evidence in front of my eyes. The realisation of something lost in my faith/trust in the world is very hard to stomach.

Hello Brexit Day Goodbye EU

As I write this on 31st January 2020 there is less than four hours to go until the Brexit deadline of 11pm, heralding the UK withdrawal from the EU. There will follow a “transition year” for the country to negotiate our final terms. I wasn’t going to write anything, but having heard such utter nonsense on the subject today, I’m compelled to do so.

My entire lifetime has had a political European flavour to it, as the UK began negotiations for joining the EEC (as it was) in 1969 and officially became a member on January 1st 1973, three weeks before my third birthday. It’s always been there, and I guess I took it for granted. I’d describe myself as a British Scot, and would tag on the European bit as an afterthought. I’ve described in a previous blog the nationality shame I felt on a visit to Brussels in 2015.

This morning I watched All About Politics with Adam Boulton on SKY News, where Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen was being interviewed. He was in great spirits as he prattled on about regaining our sovereignty, taking control of our courts and borders etc, when asked what the real benefits would be on leaving the EU. All arguments with no real foundation, I think. But I listened incredulous as I heard the MP state “there was a referendum, European elections, an election and ANOTHER referendum” for today.  Really! There was NO SECOND REFERENDUM, or is that the true description for the Boris Johnson General Election? Thinking I must have heard wrongly, Andrew Bridgen then told Adam Boulton that after four votes (I take it for Brexit) the reporter should really get over it and accept once and for all the peoples will. I was stunned. The interview finished with the MP saying he would be celebrating Brexit with wife/friends having dinner in the Carlton Club, a media engagement in Parliament Square followed by drinks at the Cavalry Guards club. If ever there was a prime example of a different mindset/planet many government representatives live in, this was it.

Considering the UK Parliament could call a referendum in the first place, suggests we had our sovereignty all along as EU members. But that irony seems lost on many. The paradox of course is that the EU Withdrawal Bill was rejected by Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, 3 members of the UK. Yet the UK government proceeded regardless of the “normal” consent process because Brexit was so unusual. Of course the individual nations are NOT sovereign as part of the UK, though they have devolved Parliaments.  By ignoring their mandate on the Withdrawal Bill, the Boris Johnson “One Nation Conservatism” government has a whole new meaning.

In the afternoon on a Stoke bus, I overheard some elderly people say “Brexit dragged on so long ‘cause our £350 million a week propped up the bankrupt Spain, Italy, France. So the EU didn’t want us to leave and stopped us. Now the money can go to the NHS like they promised”. This referendum promise, advertised on the side of a bus, was effectively withdrawn the day after the vote. Much of the rhetoric had been based on lies. But still there lurks such a sad delusion on how things will be “now we’ve got our country back”.

It’s not just older people/MPs who think the country is coming back, that we should be proud today to be British. This mantra, peddled on the TV and in many homes, influences the younger generation heavily, as a teacher friend said “they soak it up like a sponge, what they hear/see at home and online. We agreed many don’t seem to question things much at all. In a hour, I’d seen at least three examples of today’s youth displaying the same notions as MP Andrew Bridgen and those elderly bus passengers. That’s ALARMING to say the least.

Every nation in the world is inter-dependant and most exist within some kind of power block that share economic, political and social ideals.  The EU until tonight was the UKs power block, and as world tensions rise, we as a country walk away from it to go alone. Nuts!

So as the clock counts down I will say, Europe I am sorry I took my citizenship of your club for granted. I’m disgusted at the action my nation’s government has taken in withdrawing from it. This was not done in my name. Farewell, but I hope not forever.

Aftermath of UK General Election 2019

When polling stations closed for the UK General Election at 10pm on 12th December, news channels immediately began reporting that it appeared the Conservatives were going to win with a large majority of around 65 seats (in the end it was 80)! As the final Friday the Thirteenth of the decade dawned, the unlucky auspices of the day took on a nightmare reality for those not enamoured with the idea of another Tory government. Especially hard hit was the opposition Labour Party, who after campaigning so vehemently believing victory was in their grasp, appeared shell-shocked at the results. Particularly incomprehensible for Labour and its voters, was the stark fact that many traditional Labour areas this time round supported Boris Johnson instead. Yet to me it wasn’t a surprise at all, I said in a June blog that Boris Johnson would call an election, and had the bravado to win.

On social media (Twitter and Facebook for me) I noticed an immediate vicious backlash from angry voters that wasn’t pleasant to see, so I didn’t hang around much in either forum. What was clear however is this election may prove to be as divisive as the Scotland Independence and EU Referendums. The blame game was in full force, as news media outlets analysed the results trying to find some hidden meaning to the Boris Ballot Box phenomena. But the evidence toward this remarkable Tory victory was there for all to see throughout the campaign trail. However, those seeking a higher office than MP didn’t want/or seem able to hear the rumblings of discontent, emanating from TV news clips. Boris Johnson latched on to that discontent and milked it for all it was worth, and in doing so made people think their voice was being heard. Pre-election prime examples were:

A couple re-housed in Hartlepool, after being homeless living in a hostel in the south. Both were going to vote, the woman still undecided, the man effectively said “I know I’ll be shot down for this but I’ll vote Tory. We know what we will get with him”.

Harris Tweed Worker in the Outer Hebrides (company trade abroad could be affected adversely by Brexit) “so sick and tired of it all, just get Brexit over with, so voting Tory”.

A young woman aged 19 on Twitter innocently enquired why a NHS worker would vote Tory. The replies I spotted were a combination of disproportionate abuse toward her, and a large number of NHS Tory voters, to my surprise.  Bots, fake accounts influence I don’t know, but it was a sobering read.

After the election I spotted a news item, two twenty something guys working zero hour contract jobs living in a bedsit, both voted Tory believing Boris would sort something out!

Most definitely this election was a Brexit one to its core, although it shouldn’t have been, and Boris Johnson’s “Get Brexit Done” mantra spoke to a huge swathe of people. The original Leave voters had a figure head who promised to deliver. Anyone who was sick and tired of the paralysis of Parliament for the last three years (regardless of their referendum vote), had someone who offered a finale to the sorry saga, with the hope other business would finally be dealt with as well. By comparison, Jeremy Corbyn from the very beginning of the Brexit era showed ineptitude of leadership, by consistently offering no real Brexit mandate for his party. This left Labour heartlands that voted Leave in the EU Referendum, such as Stoke Central, feeling marginalised and ignored. No surprise then this seat and many like them went to the Conservatives last week. Labour lost seats in Scotland and Wales too. Remain EU referendum voters had a natural ally in Jo Swinson the Liberal Democrat leader, who stood to revoke Article 50 and cancel Brexit altogether. A bold brave, but suicidal stance, as the party alienated virtually all the voter type profiles mentioned above. Add in the long held embittered memory of the Con/Lib coalition years and she had no chance, and sadly lost her parliamentary seat too. As I watched the SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon’s euphoria as her party swept up seats, including Swinson’s,  I couldn’t help thinking “where is woman’s political solidarity here, Jo was no threat, yet Nicola seemed to be dancing on Jo’s political grave”. Not the palatable side of politics I must say. The Scottish Conservatives who campaigned almost solely on saying “No to IndyRef 2” regarding Scotland’s independence, hacked off a sizeable portion of the electorate, combined with Labour heartland marginalisation, awarded the SNP an impressive 48 from 59 seats victory. And in Northern Ireland the nationalist support increased as well. So Boris Johnson didn’t get it all his own way, and his “one nation Conservatism” isn’t an accurate statement. He MUST REMEMBER that we live in the United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland, four nations under a union flag, all of them with their own types of legislation and government to a greater/lesser extent. Forget that Boris at your peril, Scotland will be your Achilles heel. You can (and are) indicating there will be no new independence referendum in Scotland. But the hand grenades thrown by David Cameron into British politics with the Scottish and EU referendums still have shrapnel flying about. Winning this election with a promise to get Brexit done won’t make the “Scottish Question” injury free.

Particularly in the first 24 hours after the polling stations closed, the Labour Party demise was largely blamed on Brexit and a partisan media. The leadership refused to admit any culpability for the result, and expressed pride in a manifesto that failed to convince the electorate. This “divorce from reality” mindset goes further back in Labour history however, when Ed Milliband backed by the Unions won the leadership contest in which his brother David stood. David had Tony Blair associations and was far more politically savvy than his brother, so he had to be put in his place. After Ed, Jeremy Corbyn was elected Labour leader but had to face down several votes of confidence from within his own party. Obviously differences of opinion on party policy were behind these challenges. As a result, Corbyn’s style of leadership to keep his party in line saw several people shafted to the side. It looked like he wanted “yes men & women” around him, who followed the Corbyn mantra without question. There was no room in the shadow cabinet for people who could inform the party leader about the realities of grass root feelings. It appeared dictatorial rather than democratic to me, did nothing to make me (and many of the general public) trust Corbyn’s judgement, and left a bad taste in the mouth. Ironically, Boris Johnson took away the party whip to several high profile Tory MPs who voted against him on Brexit issues, so his grip on Conservative Party power this summer was no better either. Yet somehow Boris comes across as an affable bumbling chap (or obnoxious buffoon) with his finger on the pulse, whilst Jeremy seems cold, clinical and remote despite his manifesto claiming to make society fairer for all. Although well meaning, and saying all the right things, those very hard left leaning policies, with unclear funding issues, appears to have scared a lot of people.

Today, the Queen attended the State Opening of Parliament and dutifully read out her government’s policy mandate for the next session. As the MPs processed in to hear this missive, Jeremy Corbyn was stony-faced and looked like he wanted to be somewhere else, whilst Boris Johnson with his House of Commons majority smiled (smirked some might say) at the thought of getting his work done. It was a lengthy tome of hoped for edicts, with Brexit being delivered first and foremost. There seemed a lot of initiatives, reforms and promised funding to be made, including getting Stormont back to functioning in Northern Ireland, NHS visas for extra doctors and nurses, immigration points system for quality workers entering UK. More money for education, NHS funding enshrined in law, housing mandates all addressing key issues that really matter to the electorate. Although I can see holes in the ideas already, and many may say its sticking plasters on open wounds, once again a politician seems to be saying all the right things, but will Boris Johnson deliver? That is the big question….

Election Hustings 2019 At Keele University

On Tuesday 3rd December 2019 in the Keele University Ballroom, all five candidates for the Newcastle-Under-Lyme constituency in the General Election said their piece. Having never attended such an event, I was a little hesitant and rather out of my comfort zone. However, the potential slanging match did not materialise, and the audience were responsive and well behaved.

Each candidate had five minutes to present their mandate and say a little about themselves. Then there were five topical questions put forward by the chair, with a minute given to each party for reply. What struck me the most at the end was that if you took a little from each candidate to create a whole, you could possibly have quite a viable workable manifesto? At times the multi parties seemed on the same wavelength, but their approach to an issue was vastly different.

The candidates spoke in this order Aaron Bell (Conservative); Carl Johnson (Green); Dr Jason Cooper (Brexit); Carl Greatbatch (Labour); Nigel Jones (Liberal Democrats). Amy Holden as chair introduced them and kept strict time!

Aaron Bell emphasised his science/technology credentials in his introduction, which he indicated later was a major reason for his standing as candidate in the first place. He felt (quite rightly) that there are few in Parliament with this kind of background. Of course Brexit must happen as the people voted for it was hammered home too. Interestingly (to me) Carl Johnson implied we must stay in the EU, and really brought home how China’s expansion of influence outside its borders into Africa and South America must be done ethically and morally. Quite what we can do as a country, to control in any way, this international political giant I don’t know. But the Green ideals of global responsibility and accountability were there for all to see. Dr Jason Cooper pointed out as a democracy we voted to leave Europe and must do so. We have a great economy and wonderful employment, and don’t need EU interference with our laws. He mentioned North Korea at some point but in what context I have no idea, as I was taking notes, but it incurred an audible gasp of incredulity from my neighbour. Carl Greatbatch emphasised his core Labour background-council house, free education, NHS saved his life (all applicable to me and many others). The party mandate is to give the country what it needs, reverse Tory reduction in services and re-negotiate with the EU, with a vote to the people after. Nigel Jones talked of a credible plan with regard to environmental issues. The Lib Dem education policy was similar to Labour’s with the underpinning being overcoming inequality. Unlike many parties the Liberal Democrats say they know where the money for improving public services would come from. And of course the big difference overall is that they want to remain in the EU. Nigel pointed out with great clarity that only 0.7% of taxes raised here go toward the EU, the other 99.3% of taxes are spent through decisions made by the UK government ALONE.

The five subject areas put to the candidates for a quick reply were Brexit; Green Credentials; Transport; Homelessness & Why Are You Standing. Here is a brief summary of the responses:

Aaron Bell (Conservative): Brexit-We must leave EU people voted for it. Australian points system to attract the right people needed. Regain sovereignty. We have done so much already on Green issues! Transport needs to be integrated more, with potential to overturn Beeching rulings in places. Not a manifesto issue more long term. More affordable homes built under this Tory era than the last Labour one. He mentioned a paltry single figure number of official homeless people in the major towns (I’ve counted more sleeping bags in doorways than that), and seemed to hint that drugs a main issue for the homeless crisis.

Carl Johnson (Green): Brexit is a Tory con; we will be out of Europe yet negotiating the terms and conditions for years to come. Can’t allow return to 19th century fuel reliance, must go renewable in 21st century, China expansion must be checked in some way. Electric regeneration examples like Manchester & Leeds used for transport way forward. Homeless crisis use empty buildings, renovate them and provide own homes, with possible apprenticeships created in process. Must get activists to move the world into 21st century away from old structures & systems, that’s why he’s standing.

Dr Jason Cooper (Brexit): MPs do our will and majority voted to leave the EU. He managed to contradict himself by saying that the UK was the only country in the EU to promise zero carbon emission by 2050. By upholding the UKs green credentials he showed the UK make their own decisions (not the EU). Dr Cooper showed a far better awareness of the real causes of homelessness including broken relationships, mental health issues, and unemployment (not just drugs). Social work/police must work together. Transport must have more money put into infrastructure, gained by cancelling HS2, stop undirected foreign aid and money saved on EU. He was standing because of the catastrophic collapse of democracy.

Carl Greatbatch (Labour): People get to choose again after Labour re-negotiate with EU on jobs, environment and rights. Decarbonising our economy is essential. Renationalise railways, regulate buses. Homelessness the extreme end of crisis/poverty, Labour policy aims to lift people out of that scenario. Standing because Labour party wants to create a revolution in area, and was bold/honest enough to say it’s probably a two way race between him and Aaron.

Nigel Jones (Liberal Democrats): We already have economy benefits by being in the EU and are stronger within it, especially in the face of other giant political powers. If business is made to operate more greenly they become more efficient and this inevitably cuts down on pollution. Transport subsidized, fares freeze, planning rules for better infrastructure improvement. Homeless crisis help provide better emergency accommodation and repeal the vagrancy act (which I’d never heard of). His reason for standing as candidate was the most civic answer I heard, to help create a strong local government that led people with a long term view not just making short term decisions.

All the candidates were sincere in their convictions, and it was an illuminating experience. Sadly due to our first past the post voting system, there can only be one victor on polling day for each constituency. If every vote did count I’m sure there could be a vastly different outcome to the one we get. That’s some food for thought.

      Chair Amy & N-U-L Five Candidates. Image credit abmj

Brexit-Three Years On From the EU Referendum

When the UK went to the polls on June 23rd 2016 and voted by a small margin to leave the European Union, I suspect that NOBODY believed this result would have created the utter shambles British politics is in today. Parliament has been paralysed for those three years due to a combination of the narrative being totally dominated by the Brexit issue and an ineffective (incompetent) Opposition.  Consequently, no meaningful decision making or action has taken place, and the act of “running the country” has effectively frozen. About the only thing Parliament has agreed on was that a NO-DEAL exit wasn’t an acceptable option, yet I don’t see anything being done to stop this scenario taking place.

Our membership of the EU is hanging by a thread, having passed the 31st March 2019 predicted exit date. David Cameron having mandated the referendum, for no better reason than to appease the more radical faction of his own political party, seemed shocked at the result and abruptly departed office, leaving someone else to clear up his mess and landing them with a thankless task. Theresa May stepped into the job she had coveted after a “political coronation”, and appeared to be always mindful of the radicals when trying to negotiate the terms of our EU departure. By doing so she failed on just about every level to please anybody, meaning an extension until October 31st was given, in an attempt to sort something out. Having failed to keep the Tories happy, May has stepped away from the cauldron and a Conservative leadership campaign between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt has begun. Campaign “hustings” have got underway, and I have no doubt that Brexit will dominate just about all of the discussions. The media seems to be salivating over these proceedings and report them in a way that suggests the general public has some meaningful say in the matter. Yet it’s the Tory membership (160,000 strong and around 0.25% of the population) who will decide the next British Prime Minister! When you look at these figures it doesn’t seem very democratic to me, it just magnifies the frailties of our “first past the post” political system, but that’s a totally different argument.

Personally I wouldn’t blame the EU if come October 31st they say Go and throw us out with or without a deal. Whoever is Prime Minister then, could say “they delivered Brexit as promised” without actually doing anything. If the British Parliament wants a deal, they have to vote for something that’s on the table. Further negotiations are not on offer the EU says, regardless of what British politicians say to the contrary. The vague hope of a further extension period may be offered as an olive branch by the EU, if a second referendum or a general election were on offer. In theory this could result in the stalemate between opposing sides being broken, but I’m not so sure myself. I have this ghastly feeling Johnson could be dumb/bullish enough to call an election, and win the damned thing outright, following the worldwide trend of “unexpected” election results. Despite his Leave campaign battle bus slogan “£350 million a week to the EU could go to the NHS” being an outright lie, he seems to be the leading candidate for the top job. Figure that one out!

My guess is that both leadership contenders will say just about anything to garner member votes. Like all politicians they are adept at not really directly answering a question, and using subtle changes in dialogue to suit the audience in front of them. I’ve read and heard so much nonsense since the EU referendum that I can’t take anything now at face value, and have become highly sceptical. For example I’ve seen “the £39 billion divorce settlement will be saved because it’s not legally binding”, or “the tariffs saved on goods from outside the EU will be enormous”. Neither of these statements hint at the alternative interpretation/truth: that the divorce settlement is payment for our legal obligations to date, or that the tariffs imposed from within the EU could be far higher resulting in costs going up.

Just two months after the EU referendum, standing at a bus stop in Stoke (area voted Leave), I was informed by a woman that the black foreign speaking customers who filled McDonalds, had two years to go back to where they came from and give us our jobs back! They were not like us she said. When I pointed out that’s not what the EU referendum was about, I was told that’s EXACTLY what it was for. As she ranted on, my ears bled and my heart grieved because she honestly believed what she was saying. Once again I had the feeling of mortification at being British, as described in a blog I posted months before the EU referendum. This is the link below:

I’ve always said that the Scottish Independence Referendum created a schism within my home nation and re-enforced the one between north and south. The EU referendum did exactly the same thing, polarising opinions and hammering home regional differences. And unfortunately it brought out the worst in some people too. The result somewhere down the line could be a distinctly un-united kingdom for a Britain that is most definitely not great anymore. And the responsibility for this outcome would lie at David Cameron’s door.

Had the narrative of British politics since 2016 been written as a novel a decade ago, it would have probably been considered an outrageous/great piece of fiction. Alas, today it is a sad horrible reality.

Off The Beaten Track 8

More Questions Than Answers

It’s been a gloomier Brexit week (24th-30th March) after MPs failed to pass any one of eight indicative amendments, meant to help find a way forward in our exit strategy from the European Union.  One thing was proved beyond doubt however, that MPs in Parliament know exactly what they don’t want, but have no idea what they do want, with regards to Brexit. I was reminded of the Johnny Nash song “There Are More Questions Than Answers” and found an unexpected cache of collective knowledge regarding this dilemma on Twitter!

By chance I came across a question well known classicist Mary Beard had put to her followers:

Ok one and all, let’s have the future exam questions that might get set on Brexit… 20/50/100 years hence. Any level from GCSE to degree! Make them smart and challenging!

One contributor Jens Wiechers put things this way-Really dark: Discuss the confluence of events that led to the 2nd Gunpowder plot, the destruction of Parliament, and the abolishment of parliamentary democracy in Britain

A disturbing yet scarily plausible scenario I thought. Many were equally thought provoking.

User Arthur Downing asked: Was Brexit a Tory party civil war, English civil war, or British civil war?  Muriel Esposito offered this philosophy exam question: Is the duty of an elected Government to make decisions for the greater good of its country, or to execute the will of its people? Discuss

Somewhat baffling (my medieval history/old English knowledge is scant to nonexistent)

Erica Laine-Discuss the concept of vassalage as seen in the 13th century and the 21st century as seen by Jacob Rees Mogg. Compare and contrast the treaties which informed The concepts. Why was JRM nicknamed Softsword after March 2019?

So it was good to see some science references I understood.

Toby Schuster put forward for Philosophy A-Level: Examine the veracity and plausibility of the Schrodinger immigrant (the one that steals all the jobs while simultaneously raking in all the benefits)

Richard Delevan asked: “Special place in hell”. Explain whether Brexit was endothermic or exothermic. Show your work. Bonus: defend or refute Donald Tusk’s theories on same.

As I read through some of the replies, I was interested to find that many people shared my feelings that the Brexit referendum could be the catalyst that leads to the eventual breakup of the UK. This sober mood was lightened by a healthy dose of much needed hilarity as well. This thread had me chuckling as it just highlights the craziness of the whole Brexit saga, detailing the rapid descent from serious to absurd in brilliant fashion.

To what extent can the break-up of the old United Kingdom into the independent nations of England, Scotland and Wales and the unification of Ireland be said to be caused by Brexit? How does this relate to the current moves for an independent Northumbria and Wessex? Adrian Bowyer

And Cornwall? Tom Scorza

That, united with Devon, became the new South West EU nation, after the “Clotted Cream agreement” in 2021 (jam 1st/clotted cream 1st on alternate days of the week, with two Sundays guaranteed per month on each option) Marta M Gonzalez #FPHD

And how did they solve the cream or jam first backstop? Richard Thomas #FBPE

Mix and spread the result… Adrian Bowyer

Mary Beard later offered another question-How do political systems ever manage to resolve irresolvable disagreements. Athenian democracy tried ostracism (exile one of the blighters for 10 years). Would it work for us. And WHO WD IT BE?

Immediately I thought of David Cameron who got the country into this Brexit mess in the first place. I spotted his name far less times than I expected, perhaps because since leaving Downing Street he has gone into a self imposed exile anyway. Another name I didn’t see as often as I expected was Theresa May. Landed with the Brexit task after Cameron stepped down, I feel she’s done the best job she can, but her inflexibility has made things worse. The Tory “spectre” names came up a lot: Boris Johnson, Jacob Rees Mogg, Michael Gove and to spread the political fallout a little wider Nigel Farage (UKIP) and former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair got an dishonourable mention too! Blair’s name pop up perplexed me a bit as he’s been long out of government. Yet it highlights a stark reality about peoples’ political instincts which can be fickle, because regardless of the issue under discussion, old prejudices and alliances come to the fore, for better or worse.