Mike Vickers' Blog

September 6, 2019

Step forward Benito Mussolini

Filed under: Boris, Brexit, Dictatorship, Italian, Politics — derryvickers @ 1:37 pm

Step forward Benito Mussolini.

West Yorkshire police have criticised Boris Johnson for making a political speech before a backdrop of its officers, with the chief constable saying the force was assured this would not happen but that Downing Street changed plans at the last minute.

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/sep/06/criticism-grows-boris-johnson-use-police-officers-political-speech

Michael Gove: the Air Raid Warden in Dad’s Army

Filed under: Brexit, Europe, Michael Gove, Politics, UK Parliament, War — derryvickers @ 10:20 am

Michael Gove. He was like an air raid warden from Dad’s Army. He had plans for supplies of medicines and food. Trucks were assigned to country lanes. Guards were reinforcing Dover. Two billion pounds will pour into farms, fisheries, manufacturing and hospitals. No expense will be spared, no cost too great, to keep the dastardly foreigner from our shores. MPs purred. They loved it.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/sep/06/prime-minister-war-rhetoric-trade-negotiations

September 5, 2019

I can only applaud

Filed under: Boris, Equality, Westminster — derryvickers @ 11:05 am
The MP makes the Point

The MP from Slough makes his point

Told You So Johnson

Filed under: Brexit, Dictatorship, UK Parliament, Westminster — derryvickers @ 10:33 am

May: I told you what to expect but you brushed me aside.

So!

Theresa May has the laught

Told you so Johnson

September 3, 2019

Johnson: What no cuff links

Filed under: Boris, Brexit, Scottish Independence, UK Parliament, Westminster — derryvickers @ 5:44 pm

No Cuff Links

Johnson is loosing his grip
Or is being overtaken by Cummings.

Since moving into Number 10

Brexit: Do or Die

We can only hope.

September 1, 2019

Yes it’s a Coup

Filed under: Brexit, Dictatorship, George Orwell, Patrick Cockburn, Politics — derryvickers @ 8:44 am

 

Patrick Cockburn in Saturday’s Independent

Britain is experiencing a slow-moving coup d’etat in which a right-wing government progressively closes down or marginalises effective opposition to its rule. It concentrates power in its own hands by stifling parliament, denouncing its opponents as traitors to the nation, displacing critics in its own ranks, and purging non-partisan civil servants.

Some describe this as “a very British coup”, which gives the operation a warmer and fuzzier feeling than it deserves. It is, in fact, distinctly “un-British” in the sense that the coup makers ignore or manipulate the traditional unwritten rules of British politics over the past 400 years whereby no single faction or institution monopolises authority.

What we are seeing has nothing to do with the British past but a very modern coup in which a demagogic nationalist populist authoritarian leader vaults into power through quasi-democratic means and makes sure that he cannot be removed.

This new method of seizing power has largely replaced the old-fashioned military coup d’etat in which soldiers and tanks captured headquarters and hubs in the capital and took over the TV and radio stations. Likely opponents were rounded up or fled the country. The military leaders sought popular passivity rather than vocal support.

I first witnessed the new type of coup in action three years ago in Turkey when it took place in reaction to an old-fashioned military coup. Part of the Turkish army tried to stage a military putsch on 15 July 2016 and provided the then prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan with what appeared to him to be a heaven-sent opportunity to install an elective dictatorship in which subsequent elections and the real distribution of power could be pre-determined by control of the media, judiciary, civil service, security services and, if people still stubbornly voted against the government, by outright electoral fraud.

I spoke to plenty of people in Istanbul in the days after the abortive military coup who saw clearly that its failure meant that they might have escaped rule by the army, but only at the cost of being gripped ever more tightly by civilian authoritarian rule.

“Erdogan’s lust for power is too great for him to show restraint in stifling opposition in general,” predicted one intellectual who, like almost everybody I was interviewing at this time, would only speak anonymously. This was certainly wise: TV stations, radios, newspapers, critics of all sorts were being closed down by the minute. When one small-circulation satirical magazine dared to publish a cartoon mildly critical of the government, the police went from shop to shop confiscating copies.

Some Turks comforted themselves by quoting the saying that in government “the worst politician is better than the best general”. Three years later, those not forced into silence, in exile or in prison may not be so certain that the difference between a civilian and a military dictatorship is quite so great.

The PM worries about damaging trust in politics – but he is the damage

By the day of the referendum in 2017, some 145,000 people had been detained, 134,000 sacked, and 150 media outlets closed. No act of persecution was too petty or cruel: one opposition MP, who denounced the “yes” vote, found that his 88-year-old mother had been discharged by way of retaliation from a hospital where she had been under treatment for two-and-a-half years.

Less than a year after the failed military coup, Erdogan held a blatantly rigged referendum which marginalised parliament and gave him dictatorial powers. Despite the harassment and silencing of critics, it passed by only 51.4 per cent in favour of these constitutional changes as opposed to 48.6 per cent against. Even this narrow majority was only achieved late on election night when the head of the electoral board overseeing the election decided that votes not stamped as legally valid, numbering as many as 1.5 million, would be counted as valid, quite contrary to practice in previous Turkish elections.

Turkish elections are not a complete farce as in Egypt and Syria, as was shown by the election of an opposition candidate as mayor of Istanbul earlier this year. But the political process as a whole is now so skewed towards Erdogan that it will be extraordinarily difficult

 I spoke to plenty of people in Istanbul in the days after the abortive military coup who saw clearly that its failure meant that they might have escaped rule by the army, but only at the cost of being gripped ever more tightly by civilian authoritarian rule.

“Erdogan’s lust for power is too great for him to show restraint in stifling opposition in general,” predicted one intellectual who, like almost everybody I was interviewing at this time, would only speak anonymously. This was certainly wise: TV stations, radios, newspapers, critics of all sorts were being closed down by the minute. When one small-circulation satirical magazine dared to publish a cartoon mildly critical of the government, the police went from shop to shop confiscating copies.

Some Turks comforted themselves by quoting the saying that in government “the worst politician is better than the best general”. Three years later, those not forced into silence, in exile or in prison may not be so certain that the difference between a civilian and a military dictatorship is quite so great.

The PM worries about damaging trust in politics – but he is the damage

By the day of the referendum in 2017, some 145,000 people had been detained, 134,000 sacked, and 150 media outlets closed. No act of persecution was too petty or cruel: one opposition MP, who denounced the “yes” vote, found that his 88-year-old mother had been discharged by way of retaliation from a hospital where she had been under treatment for two-and-a-half years. Could the same thing happen here in Britain? This is one of the strengths of the Johnson coup: many people cannot believe that it has happened. British exceptionalism means that foreign experience is not relevant. Few knew or cared that Turkey had a strong tradition of parliamentary democracy as well as a grim record of military takeovers. But it is these slow-burn civilian coups which are such a feature of the modern world that we should be looking at – and trying to learn from – and nor what happened in Britain in the 1630s when Charles I sought to impose arbitrary government.  Opponents of the suspension of the parliament have a touching faith that the present government will stick by the historic rules of the political game when everything it has done so far shows a determination to manipulate and misuse these rules to gain and keep political power. Progressive Turks have been down this road and knew all too well what lay at the end of it. Revolutionaries on the left suddenly discover that the right also stages revolutions and that there is virtue in a fairly elected parliament. “So here I am, gone from post-structuralist anarchist to ballot-box monitor,” tweeted one Turkish convert to this view as he vainly tried to thwart fraudulent elections.

Many in Britain are now springing to the defence of parliament and elected representation, but they should have sprung a bit earlier. Those in the Labour Party who were neutral about Brexit – or even saw it as a welcome disruption of the status quo and an opportunity for radical reform – only now seem to be noticing that Brexit was always a vehicle whereby the hard right could take over the government.

Chants of ‘Boris out’ outside British embassy in Brussels

Turkish elections are not a complete farce as in Egypt and Syria, as was shown by the election of an opposition candidate as mayor of Istanbul earlier this year. But the political process as a whole is now so skewed towards Erdogan that it will be extraordinarily difficult to dislodge him. This is a feature of the 21st-century type coup: once in office, leaders are proving more difficult to evict than a junta of military officers a century earlier.

Less than a year after the failed military coup, Erdogan held a blatantly rigged referendum which marginalised parliament and gave him dictatorial powers. Despite the harassment and silencing of critics, it passed by only 51.4 per cent in favour of these constitutional changes as opposed to 48.6 per cent against. Even this narrow majority was only achieved late on election night when the head of the electoral board overseeing the election decided that votes not stamped as legally valid, numbering as many as 1.5 million, would be counted as valid, quite contrary to practice in previous Turkish elections.

A pro-democracy movement against Boris Johnson has been bornA weakness of such resistance is that its potential leaders, including supposed radicals like Jeremy Corbyn, really do look at Britain’s past as a guide. It is those who have been mocked for trying to recreate a fantasy England, such as Johnson and his chief lieutenants, who are much more in tune with the modern world and instinctively follow in the footsteps of Trump, Erdogan and their like from Washington to Sao Paolo and Budapest to Manila.Successful resistance to this toxic trend means learning from the fresh experience of other nations similarly blighted and not from British history.

 

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/boris-johnson-prorogation-parliament-erdogan-democracy-turkey-a9086011.html

Also a shortened version at:

https://ffrancsais.blogspot.com/2019/09/britain-on-brink-of-coup.html

 

 

August 31, 2019

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold

Filed under: Boris, Brexit, Europe, Good Friday Agreement, Jeremy Corbyn, Reality, The Troubles, Varadkar, Yeats — derryvickers @ 7:40 am

WB Yeats

The falcon cannot hear the falconer; Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere The ceremony of innocence is drowned; The best lack all conviction, while the worst Are full of passionate intensity.

Just two examples

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/aug/30/no-deal-brexit-could-motivate-dissident-republicans-in-northern-ireland-says-barbara-gray

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/aug/31/riot-police-out-in-glasgow-as-irish-unity-march

Where is the Good Friday Agreement now.

Oddly only the US Congress may save Ireland from a Hard Border.

August 30, 2019

Greta Thunberg – On her way

Filed under: economics, Greta Thunberg, USA — derryvickers @ 7:48 am

I like the poster

Greta surrounded by plastic rubbish

From

https://www.theguardian.com/global/commentisfree/2019/aug/29/us-greta-thunberg-climate?utm_term=RWRpdG9yaWFsX0Jlc3RPZkd1YXJkaWFuT3BpbmlvblVTLTE5MDgyOQ%3D%3D&utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=BestOfGuardianOpinionUS&CMP=opinionus_email

Let’s hope that someone in the US spends time to listen

August 29, 2019

Gina Miller to the Courts Again

Lawyers for the campaigner Gina Miller have made an urgent application to the high court for a judicial review of Boris Johnson’s plan to prorogue parliament, in the first shot in what will be an intense battle in the coming days to torpedo the prime minister’s plan.

“This is a brazen attempt, of truly historical magnitude, to prevent the executive being held accountable for its conduct before parliament,” said Miller,

“Anti-Brexit campaigner Gina Miller has as filed an urgent application for a legal challenge to stop Prime Minister Boris Johnson‘s “cynical and cowardly” plan to prorogue parliament.

“Whilst prorogation is an acceptable UK constitutional practice, no prime minister in modern history has attempted to use it in such a brazen manner,” Ms Miller wrote on a fundraising website set up fund the urgent application to the high court for a judicial review.

Ms Miller, … said the decision to suspend parliament a few weeks before the Brexit deadline was a “dark day for democracy”.

Opponents say it stop MPs from playing a full part in the Brexit process as the time they will have to pass laws to stop the UK leaving without a deal on 31 October would be cut.

I could add that if MPs fail to get a debate then the UK is heading for 1984.

Lets hope that Gina Miller gets to take her Action to the Supreme Court again and achieve the Rightful Publicity.

And that Bercow can resurrect good precedents.

, Mr Johnson has set our country .. break with the EU which will .. leave the UK – should it survive in its current form – hopelessly divided for many years to come.

Filed under: Boris, Brexit, Europe, Good Friday Agreement, Westminster — derryvickers @ 10:35 am

From Today’s Scotsman Editorial
And the Scotsman is well in the centre of politics

Supporters may try to spin this otherwise, they may try to say that a Queen’s Speech is overdue and that Mr Johnson is merely exercising his right to set out the agenda of his government, but it is abundantly clear that, having committed himself to delivering Brexit on October 31, he is willing to play dirty in order to keep his promise.

His actions have, of course, generated considerable outrage among those who believe – as The Scotsman does – that Brexit is a mistake and that the No Deal variety merely compounds that. There is talk now of whether Mr Johnson might be brought down, about whether parliament – or a version of it – could sit, elsewhere, during the proposed period of prorogation.

But, regardless of whether pro-Remain MPs are able to formulate a workable plan or not, yesterday’s announcement has implications that rage far beyond the matter of Brexit.

Nicola Sturgeon yesterday accused Mr Johnson of “acting like some kind of tin pot dictator”. The First Minister may have employed some typical political hyperbole in that assessment but she got to a truth at the heart of our national debate. That truth is that convention can be damned.

Without a written constitution, the way in which our politics is run has been decided over centuries of statute and consensus. We can now safely assume that the rules of engagement that have sustained our politics for so long no longer apply.

Rather than treating the House of Commons as sovereign, the Prime Minister now seems to regard it as nothing more than an inconvenience. For all of his talk of democracy, he now treats with contempt the right of MPs to represent their constituents.

When Mr Johnson decided, more than three years ago, to throw in his lot with the Leave campaign, he did so not because of a great passion for Brexit but because he judged that such a course would be most likely to enhance his career prospects. His motivation was neither sovereignty nor “taking back control” but the advancement of Boris Johnson.

If nothing else, the fact that he is now Prime Minister proves that Mr Johnson’s decision was the right one for Mr Johnson.

But is this really the premiership of which he dreamed? For a man who fancies himself something of a modern day Winston Churchill, the Prime Minister is behaving in the most unstatesmanlike manner in order to save his own skin. With Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage cranking up the No Deal rhetoric, Mr Johnson has set our country on course for a painful break with the EU which will, we fear, leave the UK – should it survive in its current form – hopelessly divided for many years to come.

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