Brexit, What Have They Done?

Now that the dust has started to settle on the UK Referendum result it is a little easier to react without the shock, anger, passion and panic that was a feature of the days following the Leave campaigners win by just a million votes. The first question should be: Why despite thousands of official voices and expert opinions and dire warnings, from almost every voice that mattered warning us about what would happen… what is now happening, did just over half the people who bothered to vote, vote to leave the European Union? It is not as if there was anything substantive being said by the experts on the Leave side, particularly when referring to the economy that could not be demolished after closer scrutiny or put down to along the lines of: less regulation = less workers rights = lower wages = more profit for the few. It is also quite telling that in the days following the vote the two biggest voices by far in favour of a Brexit ran for the hills: Nigel Farage resigned after strutting around like a peacock and telling the EU Parliament ‘told you so’ and Boris Johnson, who, after being stabbed in the back by the sociopath Michael Gove, his co-leaving right hand-man, seemed to decide he was not interested in clearing up the mess he had helped create. However, it now seems his withdrawal from the leadership race was part of a deal with Theresa May, so she could win, in exchange for him being given the plum job of Foreign Secretary

Brexit leave campaign
Photo by Raceclass

Ironically Boris only went for Leave because David Cameron went for Remain. He had privately revealed that had Cameron gone for Leave he would have probably canvassed for Remain instead. This self interested political manoeuvring of just one man has quite possibly condemned the UK to a very uncertain future because even the most Remain orientated pollsters have estimated that Boris’s performance against the passionate Remain Cameron and the totally indifferent leader of the Labour party Jeremy Corbyn added about 2% to the Leave vote, which proved just enough for them to win.

The Economist on Brexit
Photo by Dr. Motte

In the end the vote had very little to do with Europe and a lot more to do with the divisions in our society and the settling of old scores against the ruling elite. However, the most significant issue was in fact a non-issue: Migration and Asylum Seekers from mainly outside the EU. The Leave campaign did not shy away from playing the race card. Every day they portrayed the UK sinking under the weight of Asylum Seekers and Migrants that are entering Europe as a result of several conflicts, mainly the Syrian War. This war could have been stopped years ago if only Vladimir Putin would stop supporting the murderous Assad regime. Yes there are talks of naval bases but his main reason for perpetuating this terrible conflict was because of its growing destabilising effect on the EU whose member states are at loggerheads trying to deal with the growing flow of refugees. We all know that Germany took in over 1 million refugees and migrants last year but what the people in the Leave camp failed to admit during their shameful campaigns, which mirrored those used by Adolf Hitler against the Jewish people, is that a grand total of just 216 refugees and economic migrants from outside the EU were settled in the UK during the same period.

Of course there is always a protest element to any vote and there would have been some who would have voted No even if the Referendum had asked Do you want free Ice-cream? Not anarchist, more people who just feel they are not listened to by politicians or simply those who are willing to cut their own noses off to spite their face if it means they can be heard. The other two divisions this vote shone a blinding light on were the difference between Northern England and Southern England and also the equally large divide between the generations. Northern England suffered more than most areas during the UK’s decline from the traditional manufacturing industries such as ship building and steel at the same time as the coal mining industry imploded in the early 80’s. Those people and the communities these businesses supported were always going to be prone to vote anything other than what They want us to vote for.

Others have got it into their heads that leaving the EU would take the UK back to those golden years of strong manufacturing sustained by strong unions – as if unproductive mines and uncompetitive priced steel and ships would miraculously find a market in a now more fiercely competitive globalised world. I know quite a lot of people where actually swayed by the noises made about the UK fishing industry benefitting from an exclusion of EU fishing boats from British waters. This was spurred on by speeches along the lines of ‘remember when we had a strong fishing fleet?’ although truth be told fishermen in their droves were leaving the industry because of dwindling catches long before the UK joined the EU in 1973. How that would be different now I have no idea and as for overfishing, how long will it be before a few multinational buys into a fleet of British based boats so that they can do exactly what the EU based factory ships have been doing all along – basically netting or vacuuming every living creature within range of these monster ships.

London, keep calm and carry on
Photo by Malavoda

The other definite split between the Remain and Leave vote was seen between the young and the old. I remember re-tweeting one young girls plea “not to let our parents and grandparents steal our future”. She quite rightly pointed out that many of the older voters would be dead before the true scale of lost opportunities and freedom of movement was definitely known. When asked most of the older voters came out with something about migrants and on the economy something vague about Britain being Great again often ending with “like we were before we joined the EU” Although I suspect that is just false nostalgia kicking in or a yearning for who they remember themselves to be 43 years ago: Younger, healthier and perhaps a little richer than they are now as they struggle to get by on a small pension. A reality check would remind them that in the early 70’s Britain was anything but Great. Endless strikes, three day weeks, power cuts, little or no prospects to escape ones social class through education or job mobility. As for Britain being Great – I grew up in an atmosphere where the older people would refer to the Great British Empire as if it was still a reality. Although it had been in terminal decline since the avoidable catastrophe that was Indian Patrician in 1947 and Britain’s further humiliation up to and including The Suez Crisis in 1956.

Finally, if Brexit really means Brexit as the new Prime Minister Therasa May continuously tells us – as if trying to convince herself it isn’t a disaster – then we need to stop looking to the past and concentrate on the future. Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be… so if there is going to be any soft landing from the world shock that is Brexit, it will only be possible if the British people take off the rose tinted glasses they are prone to using to view a past that never really was, a past that tended to limit any prosperity to the ruling elite and big business. The EU referendum was, if nothing else, a rejection of Westminster and those ruling elites who thought that they really believed they knew what was best for the ordinary people without ever really bothering to ask them. So our only hope of salvaging something from Brexit is to negotiate what we can from the many, many good things Europe has/had to offer and strike the best deal possible. Then we must start to look forward, not back, by making extra efforts to ensure we create a better future that includes everyone on our small Islands not just the chattering classes and dinner party crowds of Southern England. Now we are leaving the EU some commentators have declared that Britain may never be Great again. But if we work hard at including everyone and avoid turning in on ourselves, then maybe just maybe we could one day prefix Britain with a more achievable adjective like Good, Gracious or even just a simple Better Britain.


NRA Genocide

Now that the flint hearted politicians have finished picking over the corpses of last Sunday’s mass murder, looking to score electioneering points, let’s not forget those Orlando victims as quickly as we have forgotten the victims of past atrocities. The TV’s talking heads continue to spin the story and try to give it an appropriate label, hate crime, terrorism, mental health issues. But we should try to not lose sight of the real culprit behind the cancer that is gun crime in the USA: The North American Rifle Association (NRA). The big money and lobbying of the NRA and it’s never ending blackmailing of lawmakers to support it or risk being destroyed is by far the biggest single reason for that attack and similar attacks in schools, or in movie theatres or just about anywhere else for half a century. In Orlando nearly 50 people were killed but will that be enough? If not how many will be enough: 100 maybe a 1000, how many will be enough for people to realise that the NRA have in effect been the authors of a slow burning genocide, a genocide against the American way of life. Genocide is an emotive word I know, I live in a country where to utter it can land you in prison or even get you killed. But what other word can be used to describe culpability in the gun related deaths of more than 1.5 million people over 50 years if not a genocide?

Flowers outside Orlando Pulse Nightclub
Photo by Adam Y Zhang

Unfortunately, like with many things in America it boils down to power and money. The power of the NRA and the money it’s members donate so they can lobby the government, media and threaten anyone who attempts to control guns. Did you know that if you wanted to buy 100 assault rifles and ammunition, you could do so quite easily in many states, even if you are on a terrorist watch list, by simply showing a copy of your drivers licence at a gun show or scanning in a copy to allow you to buy on-line without ever having any physical contact whatsoever with the seller. Most gun owners have been conditioned by the NRA to trot out the same tired phrase about it being their democratic right to carry arms because it is enshrined in the Second Amendment of the American Constitution as a ‘right to bear arms.’ But few will go on to explain that the amendment was only hastily made at a time of revolution, war and nationwide crisis in the late 1700’s when America had barely a rag tag army of militiamen to defend itself. So why does it still need such a law today when it is now the most heavily armed superpower on the planet? Is America really in imminent danger of invasion or is it simply about the arms manufacturers protecting their billion dollar industry?

Despite many attempts to control guns the country is still a hostage to the gun manufacturers who hijacked the NRA from the hunters and amateur marksmen, who ran it like a small club until the 1970’s. They then quickly turned it into the political lobbying monster we know today, which has ensured that for every 100 people (including children) there are actually 113 guns – 113 Why!? To put that into context just look at the UK were there are only 6 guns for every 100 people. Guns equal death – that is after all, with a few exceptions why guns were invented. So you won’t be surprised to learn that the difference in death rate from guns in the USA and UK is also astronomical. For every single gun related death in the UK there are almost 50 deaths in the USA.

I love gun shows
Photo by Universallogic

Over the years the NRA has advocated 101 different reasons to keep the lucrative gun industry rolling along unhindered by legislation. The latest of course in the wake of 9/11 is the ever present threat of Terrorism… but is it really a threat in the USA today. Yes terrorism exists we all saw what happened in Paris and Brussels, the horrors man inflicts on other men day after day in other parts of the world, on our news feeds but can the NRA or anybody else really use terrorism as the latest bogey man under the bed to limit anyone’s meaningful attempts at gun control? They can’t, they really can’t because when it boils down to it, excluding the events of 9/11 there are more people killed using guns in almost any random period of 3 or 4 weeks in America than have ever been killed through terrorism, not just gun deaths, in the last 50 years! I would also argue that the NRA’s heavy handed methods used to prevent any meaningful gun control has created and perpetuated a different kind of terrorism from within against the American system of government and its people, a terrorism that has claimed more American lives than all the wars that the USA has ever fought in.

Poor Gun Control = Self-inflicted Terrorism

America has been at the forefront of fighting terror and rooting out and censuring the supporters and financers of terror all around the world. So how is it possible that the NRA are allowed to constantly side-step any censure despite its own form of terrorism when it uses threats and its big money to maintain an iron grip on the nations lawmakers so it can thwart any attempts at gun control? If the NRA’s activities are directly or indirectly responsible for the majority of gun related deaths and crime involving a firearm in America, what makes them so different from terrorists? By any measure being even partly culpable for the unnecessary deaths of over 1,500,000 people is a an enormous crime against humanity. If the NRA ever appeared on any list of terrorist organisations based on its influence on lethality, they would be way ahead of the likes of Al Qaida, Hezbollah, Al Shabaab and yes Islamic State and top that list by a country mile. So next time you see some politician spinning the fear of terrorism as a reason for the USA to keep the gun laws as they are; don’t just view these people as NRA backed lobbyists but try and view them for what they really are: the purveyors of death and destruction, the facilitators of a slow burning genocide against the American people. Because no matter which way you cut it, even accepting that a high proportion of gun deaths are actually suicides, more than 33,000 deaths a year is a truly enormous loss of life by anyone’s standards.

Coffin, draped with USA flag
Photo by Robb & Jessie Stankey

Think about it just for a minute… If there are hardly any guns there is a lot less death, a lot less crime and of course the overstretched prison system could be cut to a fraction of what it is today. Just think about the money saved by not having to incarcerate 100,000 gun related criminals at a cost of anything up to $60,000 per head per year. Add to that gun related social, economic and state financed medical costs and things like early retirement through injury etc. and of course a dramatic reduction in the need for police and law enforcement agencies like the FBI and it is not just billions but trillions of tax dollars people, trillions of dollars. Money that could then be used instead for other things like a cheaper or even a free heath care system, better schools and roads and hell yes, much lower taxes.

Dollars and blood
Photo by Ccmerino

It is high time that the straw that the NRA has been able to cling to for far too long through bribes, threats and the character assignation of good people was broken. History has proven that the right to bear arms clause in the Second Amendment should have been struck out or severely amended as far back as the civil war. However, even for the most ardent president striking it out would seem inconceivable at this moment in history but a sensible amendment may not be beyond the realms of possibility if it ever came to a vote. Amending the amendment might be possible if enough people believed in it and a few good lawmakers had the guts to not only ignore the NRA but also severely file down that monsters unnecessarily shape teeth.

Unfortunately like a drug pusher who gives away free samples of drugs to hook his future customers or big tobacco, who did the same with cigarettes the NRA has made us believe perversely that the answer to too many guns is bigger and more powerful guns. They know that as a nation the USA now seems well and truly hooked on guns just in-case. But if you take most of the guns off the street and implement a tighter system of checking and licensing, which most sensible gun owners cannot argue against, then you probably won’t even need that gun under your pillow anymore.

The arguments against guns are not rocket science so why are the NRA able to get away with their dark activities, which seem to benefit just a few weapons and ammo manufactures and hard core gun enthusiast at the expense of a more functional and less fearful society? They block all attempts at government research because the results will be a no brainer, a great big no to things like assault rifles and a great big yes to things like background checks (which the NRA has successfully resisted even for people on terrorist watch lists and people with mental health issues). Why is that? Because once there is a report against guns people can begin to think about suing the culprits. The NRA saw what happened to big tobacco who tried to go against the science that linked cigarettes to unnecessary death and ultimately lost billions. That is why they keep their iron grip of the legislative process to block even the research that would contribute to a meaningful discussion about gun ownership. But time and public opinion is moving against them. How long now before a class action against them for perpetuating the bloody murder on the streets? Oh yes the NRA are very rich but so too are many of the ever increasing victims of gun crime. A few hundred dollars a head times 1.5 million or ten times that if you include people injured by guns. Now that really would be some day in court.

Finally, who am I to talk, I don’t even live in America. But when I look at other internal conflicts of the world it is hard not to feel compassion for the people of those conflicts and the innocent victims: Syria, Ukraine, Nigeria all this loss of life makes me feel sad. Yet when our newsfeeds suddenly burst into life with yet another mass shooting in the USA I sometimes feel extra sad, because deep down I know, as most Americans know that it is preventable if only there was a will to shake off the yoke that is the NRA. As for who will do that, I have no idea – someone brave, someone with a much bigger voice than mine. But as someone who was murdered by a rifle that came to his assassin in the mail once said, sometimes you must do some things:

“not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win …”
J.F. Kennedy

Portrait of JFK
Photo by Ccmerino