The World’s Gone Mad. I wonder that I think that because I’m old, and all old people think that the World’s Gone Mad. Then again, being old and thinking that doesn’t mean that the world has not gone mad, does it?
Let’s start with the SNP – a no-chance political party north of the border. They want Scotland to be independent – that is their only policy – and so they refuse to have anything to do with UK politics, refusing to take any seats they win in UK elections.
The devolved Scottish Parliament was designed specifically to prevent any political party getting a majority. The system uses a type of proportional representation to elect MSPs. This gives all political parties a say in devolved matters, with no single party dominating. In theory.
Without warning, the Labour Party suddenly collapsed and their voters all but disappeared in the Scottish election to leave an SNP with a vast majority. Wow.
Yes, the Labour Party suddenly becoming unpopular, changed everything – and kicked off a political revolution – not just for Scotland, but for the UK, Europe,and beyond.
This is because the SNP manifesto promised that if they ever got a majority, however unlikely, it would automatically trigger an Independence Referendum.
Now the funny thing is that Scotland is, and has always been, independent – with its own laws and legal system, banks and bank notes – as well as culture, heritage and history. The referendum was about dissolving the United Kingdom – it was therefore about the monarchy (the unity of crowns), it was about being part of Great Britain. It was about rejecting something, a vote AGAINST rather than FOR anything specific (I say this because no-one knew what an Independent Scotland was supposed to be like).
The referendum is a simple FOR or AGAINST choice.
A vote was supposed to be either AGAINST the UK (a vote to leave and break up the union), or a vote FOR remaining the same (stay in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland – the status quo).
In the end, the Scots voted FOR the UK – but despite this majority vote for the status quo, the Scots nevertheless got radical and fundamental change and more autonomy!
So both sides lost; nobody got what they voted for.
Democracy was suddenly in question – fuelled by social media. Angry at winning, angry at losing, people vented and quarrelled. The whole thing made everyone – on both sides of the border – very unhappy, and unhappy too with the system itself.
Soon after this, the UK held a scheduled General Election, and with Labour circling the drain, and the coalition finally dead, the Conservative and Unionist Party won an easy and large majority with David Cameron.
Just as with the SNP before, the Conservative & Unionist manifesto promised that if they ever got a majority, they would have to have an Independence Referendum regarding Europe. This was called “Brexit”.
Again, the referendum was a simple FOR or AGAINST choice.
The vote was supposed to be AGAINST the EU (a vote to leave and break from the union), or a vote FOR remaining the same (stay in the European Union – the status quo).
In the end, the Brits voted AGAINST the EU.
Had the Scottish vote been different, then the process of leaving the United Kingdom would have begun. Scotland would have been forced to create embassies, currency, armed forces, treaties and trade agreements – possibly applying to join the European Union to sit side-by-side with the rest of the UK.
There was a lot of debate about whether Scotland would have been able to quickly do the trade deals and EU thing. No-one seemed to know for sure. And that really surprised me.
How can we not know?
The majority of Scots voted for Britain to remain in the European Union, although no-one knows how many Scots would have voted for Scotland to remain in the European Union.
All that can be safely asserted is that Scots voted to remain in Britain and for Britain to remain in Europe. Scots voted as Brits, not as Scots.
Yet the SNP have decided that Scots voted for Scotland to remain in Europe, and because this is at odds with the rest of the UK, so another referendum ought to be called on leaving the UK.
Nevertheless, it is still unclear whether Scotland would be able to set up everything and join (or re-join) the EU. Still no-one knows what’s what.
No-one knows what would have happened if Scotland had voted to leave, no-one knows what will happen as a result of Britain voting to leave, and no-one knows if Scotland can claim a new right to leave the United Kingdom and join the European Union!
That’s a lot of things we don’t know. And these a big things. This is majorly disruptive stuff we’re talking about here – historically important and very expensive, and stuff that ought not to be taken lightly. It all matters – so The People are being asked to vote – and yet even at that no-one knows what is going on, no-one actually knows the legal position, the validity, the process, what is allowed, what is not. It is madness; how can anyone vote for something that may or may not be valid or even understood?
The media has decided to focus on speculating about economic outcomes, rather than on the unravelling of red tape, and explaining the processes. This is possibly because no-one knows the pragmatic methods and procedures. It may even be that there are none, and we’re just making it all up as we go along!
What if we begin a process of the UK leaving the EU, negotiating treaties and trade deals and tariffs, and Scotland then concurrently begin a process of leaving the UK – and also then trying to stay in the EU? It’s a Gordion knot.
A black-and-white referendum is all-well-and-good when it returns a remain-the-same verdict.
The problems only surface when the vote is leave.
Putting aside the bewildering complexities of all that, let’s look at the referendum again – the vote was not FOR something, it was AGAINST membership of the EU. That’s a problem in itself.
OK, so Britain wanted to quit – that much we can know. In fact that is ALL we know. But we now need to ask the people to vote FOR something – to offer the choices this opportunity affords.
It seems strange that we are not getting another referendum/election on what Brexit should look like. Just like the pre Brexit scenario of cross party groups, we could easily imagine a bunch of politicians putting the case for a Norwegian or Swiss trading relationship with the EU, and another group asking for the vote for so-called “hard Brexit”. Then we could pick a way forward democratically.
Voting to leave is only half the job. It’s unfinished as a democratic exercise.
Yet this is not on offer.
OK, let’s allow that we have a democratic government, and so they are able to represent us, and our interests, without the trouble and expense of another referendum.
In other words, now that the people have voted AGAINST the EU, it’s up to the Commons and the Lords to thrash out the best way forward.
It seems reasonable to suggest that only after parliament has debated and decided what forward action to take, and what the the direction of travel of the country might be (taking into consideration the Scots), can the UK invoke article 50 of the treaty to begin renegotiating new terms with the European Union.
How can you come to the negotiating table without a clear idea of what you want and where you want to go?
Yet this is not on offer either.
So it seems that we have no shape or idea about what we want, or where we’re headed, we will simply trigger the leaving period (without considering Scotland, without asking the people of Britain, and without asking their representatives in both houses of parliament) and see how it goes on an ad hoc basis.
In a couple of years we’ll pop out the other end with whatever we end up with.
No-one knows what that might be. No-one knows if the Scots will get another referendum. No-one knows if Scotland does leave the UK, if it will be able to join the EU.
The World Has Gone Mad.
I can’t believe that the laws are so poor, procedures are not in place to be followed, that everything is so uncertain, that no-one knows anything for sure, that there is so little clarity – why? There are all these treaties and agreements – are they all so badly written that it’s all up for interpretation?
What have the civil servants been doing all these years? Why give people a referendum without first having everything ready? How can you ask people to vote for or against without being able to clearly and fully explain what for and against actually means?
The Labour Party seems to have caused all this. Under the Ed Miliband’s leadership, they lost sufficient support in Scotland to allow the SNP to get a majority that triggered a referendum, and which allowed the SNP to take their seats in the UK parliament, which allowed the Conservatives to get a majority that triggered another referendum!
But the madness continues…
When Miliband resigned, the membership elected Corbyn, and all the MPs resigned because they have no confidence in Corbyn. A leadership challenge was mounted – but (again) no-one knew the rules and procedures!
It seemed clear that the intention behind the rules was such that if a leader is so bad that there are sufficient Labour MPs with”no confidence” in the leader, then that leader should be deposed, triggering a leadership contest to democratically a new leader.
It makes no sense to have a leadership contest that allows the overthrown leader to run!
Someone is so bad at being leader is allowed to stand for leadership – that is insane – especially when (a) Corbyn is the problem and (b) Corbyn is popular with the membership so therefore he’ll naturally win, and the contest would be a sham or farce.
There is no point in having a leadership contest that involves the problematic leader when the membership is a odds with the parliamentary group. The membership want Corbyn, the MPs don’t, so the MPs can call for a leadership contest, but the membership do the voting.
It’s a rigged game as long as Corbyn is allowed to run.
The World Has Gone Mad.
What amazes me most is that no-one knew for sure, no-one understood the rules, and that in the end, the chap who actually devised and wrote the rule in the Labour Party rulebook was overruled by the courts. It seems that his intentions were not legally tight enough, and so – forever – due to legal precedent (unless the rules are rewritten for some reason), there is absolutely zero point in ever having a leadership challenge in the Labour Party!
The courts were busy with all the legal challenges to this and to Brexit, to Scottish referendums and negotiations with EU states. All because no-one knows what’s going on and what’s supposed to happen.
Now, because Corbyn is popular among the party membership, but very unpopular with Labour MPs and with the general population, the Labour Party is pretty unelectable for government, allowing the SNP to strengthen and to then undermine the UK. It also makes the Conservative party unbeatable, so they can wander toward Brexit unchallenged.
It’s all divisive. The lack of rules and a lack of clarity leads to quarrelling and division.
Meanwhile, members of the EU are supposed to be concerned that if the UK can leave and still trade easily with the EU, then other countries might think about leaving too.
But the reality is that they all know that the UK never took to the EU in the same way as they all did – they know we Brits insist on our funny power plugs, driving on the wrong side of the road, weighing each other in Stones, and holding onto pounds and pennies. We’re an island, so only the Brits have had to get a passport to holiday in mainland Europe – they can just get up and wander about the whole continent freely. A passport is about £80 – times that by four for a standard family holiday to see the obvious difference that has always existed between Europe and the UK.
Back in the day we were denied entry to the Common market by France, so Brexit is seen by some as long-overdue payback. They didn’t really want us, and we didn’t really want them either.We were there to balance the Nuclear Power that France had, to balance the economy of Germany, to stop one prevailing over the others. We remained aloof, and they will not miss us, but it will be interesting to see who thinks they are top dog now that we’re not there to referee.
The fact remains that no-one knows what will happen or how it will happen. There was going to be another big global downturn/ crash, but this stuff has just drawn attention away from that.
I always thought politicians and law makers had everything red taped up, that contingencies were planned, and things were painstakingly worded to provide absolute clarity in important matters. That’s what “authority” means. Or so I naively thought.
How sad I am that this has turned out to to be so, and that it is disgraceful. What a mess.
And don’t even get me started on that Clinton or The Donald! I wonder, though, if all this – being watched on TVs and on smartphones across the world – is raising questions about what politicians do, what can be done, what should be done, questions about vested interests, about constitutions, about power and where it lies. I think there has been a grass-roots change with respect to telling people your political views, that engagement has changed as a result of this.
Previously, people quarrelled on news and current affairs programmes in the media – they were engaged and interested and motivated in the traditional politics that had gone stale. The common man was excluded and apathetic. The internet age, the reality TV age, the social media meme age, means that – given a referendum situation – the apathetic common man is back engaged in politics, and it’s all on misinformation, made-up nonsense, viral memes, and all sorts of nasty, populist things like bigotry, nationalism, patriotism, religion and a backlash against the apathetic politics and political correctness that has ill-served the common man for too long.
A referendum gives the common man a voice. Not a democratic voice, but a simple choice for for or against, that is made on a whim or preference or gut feeling. Mob rule is never pretty, and the balance of votes is so close that all you get in the end is an angry, politicised and divided mob.
Add in Russia and North Korea and you HAVE to agree that the World Has Gone Completely Mad.