A thought on little England

The landscape of a post-Brexit United Kingdom is looking increasingly fractured. If we’re not carful Boris Johnson will turn the United Kingdom into little England.

Scotland is pushing hard for another independence referendum. If it goes ahead, it’s likely Scotland will leave the United Kingdom to pursue a future within the European Union.

If Scotland goes, Wales is sure to want the same kind of autonomy.

Then we have the Byzantine complexities of a post-Brexit Northern Ireland to consider. Who knows how that will all play out? At the moment Loyalists are angry about the backstop sea border. The backstop is a problem because it makes Northern Ireland different to the rest of the United Kingdom. To a community that has built its identity around loyalty to the crown, that difference is heresy. It opens up the possibility that Northern Ireland is separate from the rest of the United Kingdom. That difference is a lever Republicans could use to unite Ireland.

Peace in the region, for the last thirty years, has relied on the Good Friday Agreement. Post-Brexit that agreement is unworkable. To be clear, the agreement only works if there is free movement between Ireland and Northern Ireland. The kind of free movement only possible by being part of the European Union. A land border is unacceptable to Republicans. The sea border is unacceptable to Loyalists. The Good Friday Agreement allowed both Republicans and Loyalists to function while maintaining their separate identities. Without it old conflicts reappear.

The way out of this is more complicated than anyone in Johnson’s government has the intellectual or political power for. One possibility is that Johnson abandons Loyalists and Northern Ireland altogether. Unsupported by the English, Northern Ireland will inevitably unite with Ireland. This move will allow Johnson to make the probable Loyalist uprising a problem for Irish and not English governments. Another possibility has Northern Ireland follow Scotland’s example, pursue independence, joining the European Union as a sovereign nation. It’s possible a newly independent Northern Ireland could negotiate a version of the Good Friday Agreement to forge peace. I don’t think this will happen. Loyalist are as wedded to the crown, as Republicans are to a united Ireland. Speculation aside one thing is for certain, this issue is not going away.

Into the historic divisions that are tearing at the United Kingdom, England is now facing its own set of fractures.

The Northern Independence Party is a new political entity demanding independence for the North of England. Campaigning under the banner “We’re not English, we are Northumbrian” they want to reinstate ancient borders that stretch north from the Humber river, up to Scotland. Who knows if they’ll make gains politically, but the idea is there. The north south divide has been given a border, and that feeling, the one that thinks the south has left the north to rot, has been given a voice.

If this sentiment gets traction, and an independent North becomes a possibility, it won’t be long before Cornish nationalism is seeking to escape from English rule.

Then where will England be, let alone the United Kingdom? One thing is for certain, Johnson and the Conservatives will use these cries for independence as a crisis. One that lets them calve up England as if they were the ancient Kings of Wessex or Mercia. England will be transformed into a series of charter cities. Regions that will claim to be hubs of enterprise and entrepreneurship. When in fact they will be islands of tax avoidance, shell companies, and post office boxes that hide wealth. For the ninety-nine point nine per cent this will mean a bad, much poorer, little England.

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A thought on voting

Vote as if you have a gun pointed at someone’s head.

I was recently made aware of the reasons some people voted Tory in the 2019 general election. They voted tactically to send a message to Labour; they weren’t happy with the “radicle” agenda of Jeremy Corbyn.

Voting tactically in 2019 has backfired in the most vicious way possible.

We now have 126 thousand deaths from COVID. A no deal “deal” exiting the European Union that’s tanking the economy, and abandoning the Good Friday Agreement, trashing thirty years of peace in Northern Ireland. We have a government intent on making protesting illegal, while at the same time handing lucrative PPE contracts to friends and donors to the Conservative Party. At best they’re hypocritical, at worst corrupt.

My approach to voting is simple. Vote as if you have a gun pointed at someone’s head. Are you willing to pull that policy trigger? Tory policies kill. Ten years of austerity have proven that. The only message anyone sends by voting Tory is you agree with Tory policies, and voting Tory tells me “I’m happy to kill”.

Tribes of Europa (2021– )

Philip Koch was inspired to create Tribes of Europa (2021-) by the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union in 2016. I see no evidence that the European Union is at risk from the United Kingdom’s decision. Equally it’s not hard to imagine a post-apocalyptic future in which fudal tribes fight over scares resources. In this world an unknown cataclysm has flung the world back into the dark ages.

As is usual in these things some vestiges of the old world still exist. There are a few cars and some military trucks, the odd electric light, electronic key cards, recorded television programmes, high velocity weapons, forges able to manufacture razor sharp blades, and electricity enough to play trance music. Actually this apocalypse is less like the dark ages and more like the late seventies. That time before computers, mobile phones, or the internet. I suppose for some, life without social media is an apocalypse.

The plot kicks off when the plane of a technologically capable tribe, the Atlantians, crashes near the village of the peaceful Origine tribe. Desperate to get control the Atlantian’s technology, an innocuous looking cube, the larger more aggressive Crows attack the Origine camp, killing or capturing most of the tribe.

The Crows look like gothic cyberpunks, if the punks appropriated the look of some indigenous North American clan. Dressed in black, with topknots, and replicant eye makeup, they wouldn’t be out of place in the wastelands of Mad Max.

From this encounter three siblings from the Origines tribe are forced to confront the terrors of this new world order. They’re innocents in a world of duplicitous aggression, destined to become idealists corrupted by necessity.

Overall I like the idea but the execution feels over designed, and in many ways the plot’s too narrow. They tug at Europe’s troubled history, without really explaining the collapse of Europe, or the formation of the tribes. These are complex cultures that would’ve taken centuries to define themselves in these specific terms. Not the fifty or so years since the collapse of information technology.

Perhaps that’s why the six episodes leaves you wanting more, but it’s probably because the whole thing is two acts, and four episodes short. Hopefully series two will fill out the plot, and provide answers where there are now gaping holes.

There’s more at stake than just blocking no deal

Sienna Rodgers in Labour List announces that “Labour has launched a cross-party bid to block the possibility of the UK leaving the EU without a divorce deal”.

I think there’s more at stake than just blocking no deal.

This motion is only needed because there have been calls to suspend parliament. The fact that there is even talk of suspending parliament should scare everyone, even those on the side of Britain exiting the European Union.

Their argument was that we should wrestle back sovereignty from Europe, not give it to an elite group of self serving politicians. Suspending parliament is not acceptable under any circumstance. That’s us slipping and sliding, scrambling and scuffing, open eyed towards totalitarianism.

But that’s what happens when the world gets complicated, filled with nuance, and leaders frame every argument as a binary choice. I considered exactly this “totalitarian mindset” when I was working on one of my characters for CARR-10-N. This is an extract from something I wrote in 2013.

So the question I’m really asking is; what kind of person is attracted to totalitarianism? To answer that question you first need to ask; what allows totalitarianism to flourish? The short answer is uncertainty. In his paper “How to make enemies and influence people” (2) Alfonso Montuori characterises the “totalitarian mindset” as a response to the stress of contemporary pluralism. Basically we live in complex times full of ambiguity and uncertainty. We feel threatened. And when we’re backed into a corner we have a tendency to succumb to “simplistic, black-and-white solutions.” Montuori goes on to note that “individuals all over the world have sought relief from the uncertainty of a pluralistic world in the arms of absolute belief systems of a religious fundamentalist and/or political/nationalistic nature.” 

2013/02/08

If that doesn’t describe the current mess nothing does. Jeremy Corbyn has been criticised for a “muddy” position on Britain exiting the European Union, but muddy’s what we need. We need nuance not black and white choices. Black and white choices are what got us here in the first place. There are no easy answers in any of this, but sleepwalking a totalitarian government into office is not the answer.

Is this one of the many reasons for Brexit?

A study says the UK and territories are ‘greatest enabler’ of tax avoidance in the world.

I’m guessing the vested interests pushing for a no deal Brexit are doing it, in part, to weaken the European Union’s hold on The City of London.

The European Union wants to bring in tighter rules on financial services, and try to stop the kind of enabling, that ranks British territories and its dependencies among the worst offenders.

The only people who will benefit from a low tax Britain are the wealthy. For the rest of us less tax means no money for schools, infrastructure, or the health service.

If we crash out of the European Union, and stronger regulation, the City will become the perfect host for all kinds of parasitic tax avoiders.

Plummeting insect numbers ‘threaten collapse of nature’

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/feb/10/plummeting-insect-numbers-threaten-collapse-of-nature

Damian Carrington’s piece in The Guardian warns “Plummeting insect numbers ‘threaten collapse of nature'”.

Reading this makes me sad, scared, but most of all angry. We have the worst kind of self-serving politicians trying to isolate us from Europe under the guise of trade with, who knows? What they should be doing is finding ways to integrate, and partner with other countries to do something about this.

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