Mike Vickers' Blog

March 31, 2019

Need to rebuild the Westminster Parliament

Filed under: Brexit, Europe, Good Friday Agreement, Left Politics, Politics, UK Parliament, Westminster — derryvickers @ 7:07 pm

Will Hutton

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/dec/23/labour-leadership-is-at-rock-bottom-wont-be-forgiven-for-conniving-in-rightwing-brexit

The Guardian

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/dec/22/corbyn-faces-furious-backlash-over-backing-brexit

Both main UK parties are in chaos. The UK Parliament itself is in chaos.

‘Once I built a Parliament: Now it’s Gone

Brother can you spare a dime’

Take Back Control and then what?

A calm clear statement from Margaret Beckett.

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/mar/31/margaret-beckett-brexit-public-vote-dangerous-theresa-may

Gordon Brown (that forgotten leader) starts to make sense

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/mar/30/uk-year-extension-brexit-take-back-control

The MPs are having to leave the Palace of Westminster as it is structurally falling down. Perhaps a period in the sticks will allow structural rebuilding in more senses than one.

March 29, 2019

The Antipodes – Jacinda Arderns

Filed under: Brexit, History in the making, Personal, World Class — derryvickers @ 10:48 pm

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/mar/29/jacinda-arderns-speech-at-christchurch-memorial-full-transcript

“And so to each of us as we go from here, we have work to do, but do not leave the job of combatting hate to the government alone. We each hold the power, in our words and in our actions, in our daily acts of kindness. Let that be the legacy of the 15th of March. To be the nation we believe ourselves to be.”

“To the global community who have joined us today, who reached out to embrace New Zealand, and our Muslim community, to all of those who have gathered here today, we say thank you.”

What more is there to say?

I make no apology for bringing the words of Jacinda Arderns to the fore again.

New Zealand is the Antipodes in more senses than one to what is happening in the UK now.

March 28, 2019

Italy On the Frontiers of Europe

Filed under: Brexit, Europe, Immigration, Politics, Theresa may, UK Parliament — derryvickers @ 9:34 am

I cannot support Salvini’s action and his sarcasm, to me, is ‘unfortunate’.

Corriere della Sera and Italian news agencies reported that 108 people were picked up by the tanker Elhiblu 1, and hijacked the vessel when it became clear that it planned to take them back to Libya.

Six nautical miles from Tripoli it suddenly changed course and headed north towards Europe. Migrants in Libya face trafficking, kidnap, torture and rape, according to the United Nations and aid groups.

“These are not migrants in distress, they are pirates, they will only see Italy through a telescope,” said Italy’s far-right deputy PM, Matteo Salvini, who has cracked down on migrants, including closing Italy’s ports to NGO rescue boats, since he took office in June last year.

Salvini said that Italy’s ports would remain close. “Poor castaways, who hijack a merchant ship that saved them because they want to decide the route of the cruise,” he said with sarcasm, according to the Ansa press agency.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/mar/27/rescued-migrants-hijack-merchant-ship-off-libya

There has to be extenuating circumstances for ‘hijacking’ and I see this action is one such.

Nevertheless, the EU must come together and work as a whole, on immigrant entry to Europe. Italy and Greece are on the Frontiers of Europe.

And I despise Theresa May, in particular, for her specific action of rejection of all immigrants coming through Europe to the UK for unaccompanied children.

March 26, 2019

The Good, The Bad and the Ugly – From Today’s Guardian – 26 March 2019

Filed under: Brexit, Immigration, Politics — derryvickers @ 7:09 am

The Good

MPs have inflicted a fresh humiliating defeat on Theresa May, voting to seize control of the parliamentary timetable to allow backbenchers to hold a series of votes on alternatives to her Brexit deal.

An amendment tabled by former Tory minister Oliver Letwin passed, by 329 votes to 302 on Monday night, as MPs expressed their exasperation at the government’s failure to set out a fresh approach.

The options are manifold and could include “Norway-plus”, “Canada-style”, Labour’s customs union, a version of May’s deal, no deal, a possible second referendum and others yet to be invented.

The Bad

EU citizens living in the UK would be stripped of their freedom of movement, housing and social security rights by Home Office legislation introduced to regulate immigration following Brexit, a parliamentary report has warned.

Despite repeated government reassurances that their privileges will be protected, a study by the joint committee on human rights (JCHR) concludes that more than 3 million Europeans living in Britain would be left in legal “limbo”.

The cross-party committee, whose members are drawn from the Commons and the Lords, argues that EU citizens’ rights should be protected by primary legislation rather than reliant on statutory instruments approved by ministers at a later date.

The JCHR also cautions that Irish nationals’ rights, guaranteed by separate common travel area agreements, would be “diminished”. Their ability to bring in a spouse from a non-EU state, for example, would be limited, the report says.

The Ugly (re The Good but could underline The Bad)

The government issued a punchy statement after the amendment passed, warning that it “upends the balance between our democratic institutions and sets a dangerous, unpredictable precedent for the future”.

 

 

 

 

March 24, 2019

Music to make you forget Brexit – for just a while

Filed under: Brexit, Music, Personal, War — derryvickers @ 10:20 pm

A Weekend of Music

Friday: RSNO Three pieces.

  • A new commission by Paul Chihara, A Japanese, as a child in a relocation camp in the US during WW2. The piece was called A Matter of Honor. Music and Narration. The last narration finished with “when asked in 1942 if she believed that peace and freedom were possible anywhere in the world: “Yes, with all my heart, because in this faith, in that hope, is my future, and the world’s future”
  • Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini by Rachmaninov. The pianist was Olga Kern and required much stamina to be heard over the full orchestra which she did
  • Symphony No5 by Prokofiev. The ultimate antidote to Brexit.

How Rachmaninov and Prokofiev got by the Russian sensors in 1934 and 1942 is unclear to me as both were certainly not in the classical style of Brahms; much more ‘romantic’.

Saturday Scottish Opera performing Katya Kabanova by Janacek. The music to me is tremendous, the Scenery of based around the Volga with a bridge over was a construction to be marvelled at. All so much as to overawe the singing. Katya throws herself into the Volga at the end, not surprising as the possessive Mother in Law was demonic; not one to welcome home!

And today Sunday, a much more relaxed performance with Dvorak, Bartok and Strauss by the strings of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. The Strauss was Metamorphosen. One of his last pieces and one to let the music wash over you. It was written for 23 strings but the SCO managed very well with just 7. Strauss wrote it on the back of WW2.  Will see a Musician of his calibre to write similar music on the back of Brexit; we can only hope.

Hannah Arendt – Thinking without a Bannister

Filed under: Europe, Hannah Arendt, Journalism, Politics, Writing — derryvickers @ 9:05 pm

Hannah Arendt Post Truth pioneer – Thinking without a Bannister

New Statesman 22-28 March 2010 by Lyndsey Stonebridge

https://www.newstatesman.com/culture/books/2019/03/hannah-arendt-resurgence-philosophy-relevance

The Article starts with:

“It is true that Arendt loved the public space of politics for the robust clarity it gave to the business of living together. It is also true that she argued for a political republic based on common interest. These are both reasons why we should be reading her today. But her commitment to plurality is not an invitation to nationalism. Arendt wanted politics dragged into the light so that we might see each other for what we are. But that didn’t mean we had to accept what was evidently ruinous to politics itself, merely that we had to acknowledge that what we find most repellent actually exists – and then resist it.

And if there is one thing we have learned over the past two years it is that our political reality is not what we thought it was and still less what we would like it to be. Because the times she lived in were also dark, violent and unpredictable, and because she was smart, diligent and hardworking, Arendt was good at thinking quickly and accurately about the politically and morally unprecedented. She distrusted easy analogies, thought historical precedents were a poor way of grasping the unexpected, and practised instead what she called “thinking without a bannister””

 

A couple more quotes from the Article:

“Even before the full horror of the death camps became clear, Arendt had spotted that the world “found nothing sacred in the abstract nakedness of being human”. It still doesn’t.

This wasn’t just because people had become unempathetic and nasty due to mass propaganda, but was also a consequence of the organisation of the world into nation states. When a person is driven away from one country, she argued, he is expelled from all countries, “which means he is actually expelled from humanity”.”

“It happened again to the Palestinians in 1948. On Israel, Arendt was troubled but again clear-sighted. Like “virtually all other events of the 20th century,” she wrote, “the solution of the Jewish question merely produced a new category of refugees, the Arabs, thereby increasing the number of stateless and rightless by another 700,000 to 800,000 people.””

“The AfD is not wrong to say that power becomes dangerous at the point where there seems to be no public accountability any more. But it is precisely at such moments, Arendt teaches, that we most need to think politically, to resist populism: “When everybody is swept away unthinkingly by what everybody else does and believes in, those who think are drawn out of hiding because… [thinking] becomes a kind of action.””

And the article finishes with

“We cannot guess what she would think of our politics now, and she wouldn’t have respected us for trying. Think for yourself, she would have said. But Arendt left us with an important message: expect and prepare for the worst, but think and act for something better. The impossible is always possible.”

March 22, 2019

Need for a Government of National Unity

Filed under: Brexit, Europe, Italian, Personal, Politics, Theresa may — derryvickers @ 12:11 am

I was fool enough to switch to Corriere della Sera late this evening and found the EU was in fighting mode; so I opened the Guardian and found a long article on what the EU Leaders had decided.  This was followed by what was going on ‘Back in the Ranch’.

The full article

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/mar/21/mays-appeal-falls-flat-as-eu-seizes-control-of-brexit-date

We need a Government of National Unity as with WW2

Here are my experts in my Heat of the Moment

EU leaders moved to seize control of Britain’s exit date from the bloc after an unconvincing appeal by Theresa May on Thursday for a three-month Brexit delay.

In an address to the leaders described by one source as “90 minutes of nothing”, the prime minister failed to persuade leaders that she had a plan to avoid a no-deal Brexit.

….

But her appeal “dismally” failed to offer any answers as to what she would do if the deal was blocked by MPs again, sources said, provoking EU leaders into taking matters into their own hands and in effect taking control of her future.

“She didn’t even give clarity if she is organising a vote,” said one aide to a leader. “Asked three times what she would do if she lost the vote, she couldn’t say. It was awful. Dreadful. Evasive even by her standards.”

…..

It was then that the EU decided that “she didn’t have a plan so they needed to come up with one for her”, the source added.

With May out of the room, EU leaders delayed their plans to discuss relations with China and launched into a marathon late night session in Brussels.

…….

But if the withdrawal agreement failed to pass the Commons by 12 April, the UK could then request a long extension. “If the withdrawal agreement is not approved by the House of Commons next week, the European council agrees to an extension until 12 April, and expects UK to indicate a way forward for the consideration of the European council,” a draft summit communique said.

“What this model is designed for is to make it clear that no deal is the not the EU’s choice, it is the UK’s choice,” a diplomatic source said.

………………

The EU had initially looked at solely offering an extension up until 22 May, the day before European elections would be held, on the condition May had her deal pass next week at the third time of asking.

But such was the lack confidence in the prime minister following her latest performance that the EU’s member states acted in their own interest to shore up against a no deal Brexit and allow the British parliament to take control.

Back in the UK >>>>>>>

MPs, including many of those whom the Tory whips were hoping to win over before a prospective third meaningful vote next week, reacted angrily to May’s claims that they were blocking the people’s will

…………..

Does the Leader of the House agree with the prime minister’s statement last night, in which she pitted MPs against the general public?”

Leadsom appeared to distance herself from the prime minister’s words: “MPs need to be treated with respect and given the opportunity to represent their constituents and their country in alignment with their own beliefs and with doing the best they can possibly do.”

………………..

In a rare joint letter, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady and the CBI’s Carolyn Fairbairn described the situation as a “national emergency”, and called on the prime minister to seek a plan B.

“The current deal and no deal must not be the only choice,” they warned, demanding a meeting with May to discuss the next steps.

Finally

Liz Truss, the chief secretary to the treasury, became the latest cabinet minister to argue openly on Thursday that a no-deal Brexit would be preferable to a long delay.

Truss must be Mad

March 21, 2019

Two Prime Ministers: well one and one a spoiled brat

Filed under: Brexit, Immigration, Jacinda Arden, Politics, Theresa may, Trump — derryvickers @ 9:57 am

Jacinda Arden addressing the New Zealand Parliament: Thoughtful, Inspiring, Compassionate

https://video.search.yahoo.com/yhs/search;_ylt=AwrC3O.XXpNce0gA8TQPxQt.;_ylu=X3oDMTByMjB0aG5zBGNvbG8DYmYxBHBvcwMxBHZ0aWQDBHNlYwNzYw–?p=Jacinda+Arden+addressing+New+Zealand+Parliament&fr=yhs-adk-adk_sbnt&hspart=adk&hsimp=yhs-adk_sbnt#id=2&vid=9f43eeaae82eb40d6ffa95528fb0e59d&action=view

Theresa May: Testy, Preaching, throwing her toys out of the pram as a spoiled child.

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/mar/20/acting-like-trump-theresa-may-sparks-mps-brexit-fury

New Zealand has welcomed all; the UK used to, but under May immigrants are anathema.

March 18, 2019

Bercow – is he The Last Playboy of the Western World?

Filed under: Brexit, Europe, History in the making, Ireland, Politics, UK Parliament — derryvickers @ 10:33 pm

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/mar/18/john-bercow-commons-motion-brexit-erskine-may

John Crace – two pages rather than his usual one.

It would all be hilarious if it wasn’t so serious; as of course was the Synge’s Last Playboy.

However more serious is

Rafael Behr

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/mar/18/john-bercow-brexit-moment-speaker-ruling

From Behr’s  last two paragraphs:

“It also retrospectively casts a darker, more terminal shadow over the decision a majority of them made to reject the deal last Tuesday. Might some Tories or members of the DUP have acted differently had they known it was May’s last shot at getting her deal through?

Certainly the prime minister’s strategy has depended on eliminating options, so that eventually MPs would conclude that the only feasible Brexit on the table was hers. For that to work, she needed to keep bluffing and keep raising the stakes. She didn’t realise that ultimately, in parliament, it’s the Speaker who runs the game. And now all bets are off.

 

BTW Why have all the best playwrights in the English Language been Irish

DUP, Brexit and The Good Friday Agreement

Filed under: Good Friday Agreement, Ireland, Politics, War — derryvickers @ 11:58 am

Following on from my Blog: Derry Girls, Bloody Sunday and the Border

I consider it a deplorable situation where a party in Northern Ireland, the DUP, is determining whether the whole UK is leaving or remining in the EU. The DUP, although the major party in Northern Ireland, JUST, has no formal political power in that country as the Northern Ireland Parliament has not met for 2 years over an issue that was at least in part due to the First Minister’s (Arlene Foster) dealings on electricity.

I state straight away that I feel that the UK leaving the EU is a disaster and am biased. During the last 50 years, Europe has been war free; not being an historian I don’t know when this occurred before, but I suspect it is quite long ago.

Oddly, some 20 years ago, I was on a plane back from Germany and I spent the whole fight defending Ian Paisley and the feeling that the protectants in Northern Ireland felt uncomfortable with the dominant catholic population in Southern Ireland next door.

So, I was elated when the Good Friday Agreement was signed, and I can still remember the photo of the Chuckle Brothers: Ian Paisley (DUP) and Martin McGuiness (Sinn Fein), (see in the article below)

Not only is the DUP now threatening the UK that they may only support Theresa May’s EU Deal if they are doled out more cash, they are, in practice at least, threatening the Good Friday Agreement itself.

For a more substantive argument than mine on the DUP’s intransigence see Patrick Cockburn’s article in today’s Independent.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/long_reads/brexit-latest-northern-ireland-backstop-vote-a8822836.html

Incidentally while Tony Blair has been much criticized since leaving office, he did, as Cockburn’s article states. reach agreement with Southern Irelands Prime Minister on the Good Friday Agreement.

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