Archives for posts with tag: Brexit

David Cameron had convinced himself that by promising a referendum on whether Britain should leave the EU he would help the conservatives win the 2016 elections.
And that he would then be able to steer the party away from that very idea – convince them to vote for ‘stay’.

As you already know, the conservatives did win the elections but Cameron had to throw in the towel. The ‘leave’ campaign had eventually prevailed and now Britain has to deal with that result.

One of the possible consequences being that the House of Lords might prove itself useless.

Most civilized countries are run as democracies and have two tiered parliaments. Sometimes the two chambers have slightly different fields of responsibility. Usually the lower chamber deals with the more mundane issues – money, for instance, while the upper one takes care of the more ‘symbolic’ ones – foreign affairs or the appointment of the Supreme Court Judges in the US. Also the members of the two chambers might get there following different paths.
But whenever a really important decision has to be made both chambers have to agree on it.

Brexit being one of those ‘important issues’.

As you probably know, the members of the House of Lords – the upper house of the British Parliament, are “appointed by the Queen on the advice of the prime minister” for life, not elected ‘by the people’.

Theresa May, the current British PM, seems hell bent to see Brexit through.

The Government will pack the House of Lords with new members if peers threaten to thwart the start of Brexit, The Daily Telegraph can disclose.

Ministers have made clear that they will not allow peers to disrupt the Brexit process by delaying or amending the legislation when they debate it in the middle of next month.

In this very awkward situation, the Tories do not currently control the House of Lords, the present majority in the House of Lords has two options.
Vote their true minds, even if that would mean diluting the kind of Brexit promoted by May or derail it all together. The ‘only’ problem with this version being that it would be perceived as ‘against the will of the people’.
Rubber stamp the bill passed by the House of Commons. Only this would be perceived as either an abdication from the true nature of any ‘upper house’ – to offer a ‘mature opportunity’ to cool off before making a hasty move, or as a proof of cowardice.

Either way, after the Lords will have cast their votes, voices will be heard questioning the utility of the entire institution.

Giving it up, altogether, would be a rather severe blow to the British democracy.
Hailed by the populists, across the left/right divide, simply because it would make matters a lot simpler for them. It is a lot easier to control a unicameral Parliament than a double tiered one – and that is the very reason for which all authoritarian regimes have tried to ‘simply’ their parliaments.
All ‘popular democracies’ – as the communist regimes loved to call themselves – had but unicameral Parliaments. Sitting in very short (bi)annual sessions during which they did nothing but rubber stamping the bills proposed by the government. Just a reminder.

Members of the House of Lords are appointed by the Queen on the advice of the prime minister

Government threatens to create ‘sunset’ peers if House of Lords thwarts Brexit Bill

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gambit noun [C] (CLEVER ACTION)

– a clever action in a game or other situation that is intended to achieve an advantage and usually involves taking a risk:

 – specialized games a way of beginning a game of chess, in which you intentionally lose a pawn (= game piece) in order to win some other form of advantage later

I borrowed this definition from Cambridge Dictionary, the on-line version.
You have already noticed, I’m sure, the accent on cleverness, the ‘intent to achieve an advantage’ and the relative downplay of the risk that is only ‘usually’ involved.

A more nuanced definition of the concept would mention that the person who uses this tactical maneuver has to get out of their psychological  comfort zone in order to perform it properly.
The whole thing involves offering a valuable bait which, once taken, might produce consequences favorable to the party that is ‘spending’ it.
Since the favorable consequences are not sure – otherwise it would have been a bribe, not a gambit – but the expenditure is certain the guy who initiates this has to thread very carefully. Hence the need for the bait to be really valuable. Valuable enough for the taker to take it and valuable enough so the giver would be really careful when performing the maneuver.

We have witnessed three gambits in close succession.

Britain’s David Cameron promised a Brexit referendum in an attempt to win the 2015 general election. He won the election but lost the referendum.

Quite a large number of Americans, fed up with what has been going on in their country, have pinched their noses and elected Trump into the Oval Office. The deal is not going exactly as they have planned it – Clinton is not going to be charged, the ‘swamp’ is more likely being repopulated rather than drained in earnest – but the jury is still out on this one.

Italy’s Matteo Renzi tried to cash in on his popularity and stream-line the constitution – a move which would have given more powers to the central administration. He has just lost the referendum, is about to resign – as promised and his losing the gambit has opened a wide venue for the opposition 5 Stars Movement led by a comedian – Beppe Grillo.

Need a moral to this?
Gambit works fine when playing chess. That’s a special kind of game where all the pertinent information is out there on the table and the sole variable is the opponent’s mind/will.

Real life, a.k.a. politics, is a completely different game. There are lots of stakeholders, instead of the two chess players, while most of the pertinent information is jealously guarded by each of the stake-holders – along with most of their real intentions.

If we add here the ‘detachment’ of the players – Trump and Cameron are both independently wealthy while Renzi is rather inexperienced – we’ll soon arrive at the conclusion that we’d be better off with some unadventurous, bland even, politicians.

tainted vote

“It was a fair vote. They may not like the outcome but nobody’s saying that the vote was tainted. Maybe by the misinformation ahead of it … but the actual voting process…”

If there is something to be learned from the current debacle is that democracy is about way more than honestly counting the votes.

In fact, if we resume ourselves to that, we’ll end up tied down in a cage known as ‘mob rule’. Who ever succeeds to stir up more efficiently the public sentiment will rule the day and ‘apres nous, le deluge‘.

In order for the democratic process to be efficient – actually democratic, that is – the electorate must have at its disposal all the pertinent information that is available at that moment. If the electorate doesn’t really care and doesn’t mind that information… that’s it. But the information has to be readily available.

And there’s the catch.

If those ‘in charge’ use the media to spur up public sentiment instead of honestly informing the people about the  situation at hand then we’ll have a beauty pageant instead of a democratic election. Or referendum.

What we really need to remember, fast, is that for a democracy to maintain its function – weed up the really bad leaders/ideas proposed in the public square – we need to add two things to ‘honestly counting the votes’.

‘Mutual respect’ among all members of a given society and a keen enough interest of a majority of the members of that society in the well being of their community.

‘Democracy’ won’t work properly unless the voters respect each-others, and the government they had, themselves, elected. Simultaneously  the government has to treat ‘the people’ with utmost respect, not as if they were hapless children in dire need of close guidance.

At the same time no democracy ever successfully maintained its character unless the ‘leaders’ were constantly remembered of their ‘mortal’ status.

And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.”” Genesis, 3:22

The point being that those who think they can make the difference between good and evil need their feet constantly brought back to the Earth.

In Heaven it was God who did that. Here on Earth God works through the hands of Man. Hence we have to take good care of our own fate.
We won’t be able to do that efficiently unless we start respecting each-others, and each-others’ opinions – because none of us will ever be able to know the entire truth so we’ll be better off collectively if we share our knowledge.
For the very same reason – no one can master all the information that floats around us – all those who try to grab too much power must be treated with ‘extreme caution’. Again, this can be done more efficiently in a collaborative, and respectful, manner.

That’s why I’m convinced that the EU needs to be remodeled, not bulldozed.

the brexit hero

“Isn’t it funny?
You know, when I came here 17 years ago and I said that I want to lead the campaign to get Britain to leave the EU, you all laughed at me.
Well, I have to say, you are not laughing now, are you?”

 

Now let me get something straight.

This guy has been going to work, as an elected official, with one goal in mind. And one goal only.

To undermine the very institution he was working for.

Not to improve it in any way but to simply dismantle it.

I’m not going to discuss here whether he is right about the shortcomings of the EU or not. (He is)

But I am going to question his modus operandi.

OK, he did point out, very astutely, which are the weak points of the European Union.
And then, instead of proposing ways to mend those problems, he did his ‘best’ to make matters even worse.

That was all that he could do in those circumstances. That’s it. Nobody’s perfect.

But why elect a guy like this, time and time again, into a position where he gets to be paid, handsomely, for making trouble?

And no, he wasn’t a ‘whistle-blower’. He never came forth with anything new.
He just kept milling around a few otherwise well known ideas – most of which are absolutely correct – and then turned them on their head, effectively morphing them into ‘seeds of doom’.

And yes, he was the guy “who has repeatedly criticised wasteful EU spending” and then used 58 000 pounds of EU money to cover a security bill “for just five events held in modest venues such as a darts arena in Essex where there was not a single demonstrator.

Now go figure.
There are people out there who consider him to be “The Hero of Brexit”….

under trump's skin

‘I just love how she gets under Donald Trump’s skin.’

Supposedly the democratic process was about presenting your program – as reasonably as you possibly can, so that people would start to trust you – and then letting the electorate decide.

Unfortunately things have become anything but.

People belonging to both sides of the political divides, on both sides of the Atlantic, are acting more like spoiled brats than like the responsible politicians they are supposed to be. Instead of presenting their ideas using a rational discourse they ‘energize’ their followers using all kinds of tricks developed by ‘political marketeers’ until reason is completely numbed.

And the worst thing is that by repeated mutual validation individuals generate social norms. That’s why so many of us don’t find anything odd in the way politicians are currently pandering to their ‘special needs’.

Because of our lassitude and at our own expense.

“The fourth lesson is that voters don’t seem to care about the hypocrisy and inconsistency of the anti-elite politicians. Never mind that Oxbridge-educated politicians were railing against the elites and the EU. Never mind that Trump loves outsourcing and immigrant labor in his struggling businesses, while campaigning against, um, outsourcing businesses and immigrant labor.

The sense of betrayal by and distrust of the elites is so rampant, it doesn’t matter who says it. “I think people in this country have had enough of experts,” said Michael Gove, the Oxford-educated justice secretary, who also compared pro-EU economists to Nazi scientists.”

It was by meeting their ideologically blind ‘hypocrisy and inconsistency’ with despondency that we, ‘the people’, have allowed this to happen.
Pretending that our side is nevertheless better than the other one will only prolong the agony.
We must imperatively ask that both sides mend their ways. Comprehensively.

And for that to happen we must stop pretending that any of the naked emperors have any clothes left on their backs.

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