“Lullay lullay. Thou little tiny child”, the opening words of the Coventry carol composed in the 16th century and sung by millions over the ages. The carol is as much a lament as a lullaby: a mother’s goodbye to a baby to be killed in the net cast around Bethlehem by King Herod, the Romans’ puppet ruler of Judea, in an attempt to kill the baby predicted to become King of the Jews. Holy Innocents day is commemorated on 28 December by the western Christian Churches. This year it falls during the full rigour of government anti-COVID measures. But it’s also a date when Christians – and others too - might turn their thoughts to the rights of children around the world.
Whether in Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan, Cameroon, Nigeria, Congo, Central African Republic or Myanmar – to name only a few of the worst cases -we have become accustomed to children dying or being maimed in wars or as a result of dictatorial regimes’ State terrorism. And in a few African countries militias routinely recruit child soldiers by force. Sometimes the savagery of the war means civilians are deliberately targeted. More often their deaths are described as ‘collateral damage’. Even more frequently children die because war has reduced their families to starvation, flight from home, freezing temperatures, and the breakdown of anything that might be described as a health or education service, or law and order, putting whole populations at the mercy of disease, hunger, warplanes, landmines and militias.
Civilian deaths, the deaths of children are not just some phenomenon of the Global South. The Nazis and the Japanese militarists were defeated in the Second World War. But their strategy of total war won. The Allies appropriated the practice of total war, bombing German cities and dropping atomic bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Korea, the blanket bombing of Eastern Cambodia and massacres in Vietnam are only the best known of the conflicts that have perpetuated the civilian death toll in war into the 1960s. The establishment of international courts, scrutiny by human rights organisations and TV coverage raised the political risks in flouting ethical restrictions on the conduct of war. Today in the western world conformity with strict legal and ethical standards is expected in the conduct of targeting, and in the treatment of civilians, even if these expectations are not always fulfilled. Where there is no accountability as in Syria and Yemen such restraints are generally ignored.
The 2015 movie Eye in the Sky dramatizes the tension between the expedients of war and the demands of ethics, international conventions and law. Colonel Katherine Powell, played by Helen Mirren, must decide whether to execute the firing of a Hellfire missile at a house in Kenya where three key terrorists are preparing a suicide bombing. If the missile is fired, a little girl, Alia, who lives next door and sells bread outside her home will almost certainly die in the blast. We the viewers watch the scene on the ground via surveillance footage from a USAF MQ-9 reaper drone. Should Powell, shouldn’t she, tell the Nevada air-force base to make the strike? When she does the child dies and so do the parents in a second strike aimed at a surviving terrorist. It is gripping cinema. The dilemma, viewers understand, is real and not without precedent. Over recent decades, in the bombings of civilian areas in war torn countries which we undertake or support, or are carried out with weapons supplied by our armaments industry, are we really to believe that ‘due diligence’ is scrupulously observed? Or, when it comes to the big spenders such as Saudi Arabia, isn’t ‘due diligence’ an ethical fig-leaf?
Jus in bello, the ethical constraints that should determine conduct of war once begun, is a key part of just war theory, that common pool of mediaeval ideas and debates largely shared by Christians and Muslims and whose principles inform the Geneva Conventions. The first topic in Shari’a law is who has the authority to declare war, the why, when, and how of jihad. In both faiths the protection of innocents and non-combatants is a fundamental principle of military action. Naming the killing of civilians ‘collateral damage’ is too often the thin edge of a wedge of worse human rights violations to come. Vacuous religious extremist arguments justify terrorist atrocities against democracies by denying any category of innocents amongst ‘the enemies of God’, a case of perversity beyond casuistry.
Whether it is courageous war correspondents filming mutilated children brought into bombed hospitals by the White Helmets in Syria, or Da‘esh videos of children bombed in Afghan villages, the emotional charge of children’s suffering is enormous and evokes empathy. Yet, pilots of different nations continue to unload their ordinance from a safe height and drop their barrel bombs on fleeing refugees. In those Middle East conflicts covered by television, every last vestige of acceptable conduct in war seems to have been abandoned. The consequences are brought into our living rooms. We know that worse horrors take place unseen. Worse, we become accustomed to them.
In November last year on the 30th anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Holy See had this to say:
“While the importance of the Convention is unquestionable and its thirtieth anniversary should indeed be celebrated, the Holy See also welcomes the fact that this celebration does not shy away from the reality that despite the near universal ratification of the Convention, many children are not respected nor protected around the world. That any child suffers violence, abuse, exploitation and that any child’s rights are violated, rejected or ignored is unacceptable and among the gravest of injustices.”
Sadly the prevalence of sexual abuse of minors over decades in the Catholic Church saps the moral force of these admirable words.
The UN Declaration of the Rights of the Child is celebrated on 20 November. Holy Innocents on 28 December is not just a day when we begin to emerge from the fairy lights into the grey winter dawn of reality. Or if we live in London and the South East don’t emerge at all. It is, though, also an opportunity for Christian Churches to intensify their work for peace, just government and the most basic of all the Rights of the Child: the right to life.
See TheArticle 22/12/20
How widespread is addiction to TV crime series? I suffer from it mildly. Fingers hover on the record button. Not box-sets for Christmas though. Outbreaks of repeats step up the temptation in the pandemic.
You might view crime stories as modern morality tales. Good for you, exploring values. The ‘police procedural’ has certain conventions. You know what to expect: the corpse, the cars with flashing lights, much ducking under police tape, the morgue, the pathologist with the body under the sheet, the red-herring suspect, the fretting Chief Superintendent, the briefing, photos of suspects stuck on the white-board, the rule-breaker detective ‘taken off the case’, and the denouement in which he or she reveals the murderer. With permutations and side-plots, perseverance in adversity has its reward. Emperors are shown to have no clothes. Accolades are given for moral purpose and quality sleuthing. Wickedness is punished. Justice – usually – done. And for the viewer there’s the competition to spot the villain, to demonstrate judgement.
At one end of the dramatic spectrum are Agatha Christie’s immaculate Poirot and Captain Hastings putting the formula into formulaic: all gentility, faux Belgian accent, nice dresses, lovely old cars, posh houses, and the seaside hotels you didn’t go to as a child. At the other is bleak Nordic noir, dress casual, plenty of gore and gloom, wan faces, beards, stubble and angst, super-nasty serial killers, and everyone going about their business in appalling weather conditions. Noir must be written by authors with a grudge against Scandinavian Tourist Boards. In the middle of the spectrum is Morse, well-dressed, owner of a red 24-litre Jaguar Mark 2, one old flame but with currently unsatisfactory, tentative relationships with women, rude and grumpy, working in comfortable Oxford with an ever expanding list of grudges headed by dons, but adept at crossword puzzles, cussedness, complex plots and never buying his round.
In branding a drama series, the detective’s location has become increasingly important. Colin Dexter’s Morse is to Oxford as Donna Leon’s Commissario Guido Brunetti is to Venice: both above the fray, yet good citizens fighting corruption in high places, and for Morse at high table. You need to watch German television, to meet Brunetti’s happy family and devoted wife , Paola (an English literature lecturer as was Donna Leon) and excellent cook – all a marked departure from the usual unhappy, hard-drinking, take-away- snatching, by death, choice or divorce, single detective. And Morse of the liquid lunches does occasionally goes free-range to Australia and Italy with ‘Robby’ Lewis his long-suffering dogsbody sergeant, the nearest Morse gets to a buddy. But what really sets Morse apart, and to a lesser extent Brunetti, is Culture. Morse is a cultured cop. The series starring John Thaw ran from 1987 to 2000, a time when there were few graduates in the police force. Brunetti simply soaks up the Venetian culture around him by osmosis, and revels in its food culture courtesy of Paola.
The relationship between Lewis and Morse carries the series. Lewis, played by Kevin Whately, methodical, even tempered, cricket-lover, respectful of the law and police regulations is a foil to Morse’s brilliant, intuitive and aggressive character. The dynamics of their relationship, hints of the UK’s North-South class divide, reflect cultural and educational difference, the key component of social difference. Whately’s Hexham accent nicely conveys Lewis’ lower-middle class origins in Newcastle. Morse jeers at him for reading the Daily Mirror. But we believe in them; they aren’t just class stereotypes.
Like George Orwell, Morse doesn’t feel comfortable fitting into the social rankings of the – changing – times. On the one hand, he has the Oxford College Masters and some dons who have weaponised their erudition – and are usually up to no good. On the other he has Lewis who is able and thorough but doesn’t know his Donazetti from his Dolcetto, enjoys is fish and chips, and is forever needing to absent himself from police duties to look after ‘my lad’. His boss, Freemason Chief Superintendent Strange is socially insecure, uses ‘matey’ a lot, approves of Lewis, and is somewhat in awe of the Oxford upper classes.
But this is ITV so in case the viewer hadn’t noticed these cultural differences, Morse is frequently seen playing classical music at home, or in ecstasy at concerts and operas. You can read a lot of emotions into John Thaw’s expressive face and the director doesn’t spare the close-ups. If a woman appears who combines singing talent with good looks we know Morse will fall in love, often failing to follow up kisses or notice that the latest Prima Donna has been lying to him. But he also detects fake landscape paintings, quotes from classical literature and fires back Bible references at sinister clergymen.
What makes Morse much more than the run-of-the-mill police procedural is precisely his lack of procedures. He seems to spend a lot of time at home thinking or drinking to get his brain fired up. And he drinks real ales in a pint mug rather than martinis shaken not stirred - even if he rarely pays for them. Nor does he, unlike Poirot, solve the mystery or reveal the criminal before a wealthy and dull audience of suspects in the inevitable set-piece ending. Part of the success of the series is that Morse encounters a wide array of interesting and plausible characters from a variety of backgrounds during his investigations. This is an England we recognise.
Morse reflects the changes in society underway a quarter century ago: Anglican women priests, progressive prison reforms, the sexual revolution. Like Orwell he is inconsistent, telling off a police cadet who is the Chief Superintendent’s pet for an illegal phone tap but letting Lewis walk away from one of his own dodgy searches of premises without a warrant. And like Orwell he responds to a certain type of social integrity and sides with the underdog. Morse displays a wider range of emotion than Orwell ‘s fictional characters. Anger, search for and fear of intimacy, cynicism and fervent truth-telling, loneliness, genuine compassion, meanness, admiration, and sadness. And throughout how you talk, what you read, what you drink, Culture and culture are the great signifiers of class.
Before you ask, Morse today would be ferociously Remain, Lewis tempted by Leave, and socially insecure Strange, an uncertain Brexiteer justifiably fearful of losing access to EU’s store of criminal data.
See TheArticle 17/12/20
The meaning of sovereignty has been argued over for centuries from the divine right of kings to the Queen-in-Parliament. Yet to listen to government’s account of the last ditch EU negotiations, we are about to seriously damage the economy, security, policing, arts, and scientific research of the United Kingdom for an abstract noun. It may be because we long to regain the lonely heroism after Dunkirk of eighty years ago. Or we’ve lost sight of what the future will look like for our children and grandchildren. Or it may simply be that Boris Johnson, looking over his shoulder at his extremist back benches, thinks he has no choice if he is to continue as Prime Minister for a few more months.
Endless repetition of ‘sovereignty’ by government ministers, presented as an inviolable principle to explain why they have failed to engage successfully in the normal give-and-take of negotiations, is an aspect of ‘truth decay’. The growth of interdependence globally, and the success of regional economic markets, of which the European Single Market is a good example, has been the product of sovereign states pooling sovereignty for the Common Good. The question is not a binary choice sovereignty or loss of sovereignty, control or loss of control, but how much sovereignty it is prudent to pool.
The remaining issues blocking a deal with the EU are not huge matters of principle. According to Dominic Raab they are: ‘the most basic democratic principles’. Nor are we “the only country in the world as an independent coastal state without control of our fisheries”, as he claims. Malta will be surprised to learn it is not an independent coastal state. We seek continued tariff free access to the Single Market and that requires accepting its rules. The fisheries disagreement is about negotiable quotas and access to the vast European culinary market for fish caught in UK waters. We can’t be a rule-taker on aspects of common standards, interventionist state aid and subsidies we are told. Why not? The EU rules contain several major categories of exemptions such as for environmental aid already. And we presumably believe in regulations to ensure that markets function efficiently. That’s the level playing field. Or do we want to model ourselves on China? And finally there is the question of what legal authority will decide market disputes now we have left the EU. Sounds an important problem but we already benefit from the conventions, rules and rulings of a number of different supranational courts and bodies such as the UN and NATO, and most notably the European Court of Human Rights - which underpins human rights culture vital for democracy - established by the 47 members of the European Council ( not an EU body). And no deal makes us a rule-taker from the WTO. Why are we behaving as if the EU is asking us to abolish the monarchy before we can have access to the Single Market?
Our increasingly fragile unity as a four-nation country is now in jeopardy. Some 300 years ago in dire economic circumstances Scotland pooled many aspects of its sovereignty with England. The 1998 Scotland Act returned many elements. It turns out that within Britain our government recognises that aspects of national sovereignty are negotiable. As Nicola Sturgeon tweeted on 12 May 2014 in the run-up to the first Independence referendum: “The Scottish Parliament, adjourned on 25 March 1707, is hereby reconvened". Hard to believe its 15 years since Winnie Ewing said this”. The intention to ‘reconvene’ a Scottish nation state has hardened.
Does the Westminster government fully understand how BREXIT has reinforced the SNP’s position on sovereignty, or more precisely independence, and made the position of Westminster’s opposition to a second referendum increasingly difficult to sustain? If the United Kingdom by democratic vote can decide that it no longer wishes to pool some of its sovereignty with a larger political entity, the EU, what grounds does it have for denying Scotland the same opportunity to review its historical decision to pool most of its national sovereignty with the United Kingdom. Yes, it was a long time ago. And yes its loss of self-determination was much greater. But if we are in the land of inviolable principles it’s the same principle. The profoundest irony is that the Scottish decision in any future referendum will be much influenced by its wish to renew its pooled sovereignty with European states, overruled by the total UK vote of 2016.
All eyes have rightly been on Northern Ireland and the Good Friday agreement. They will shortly be turning to a growing conflict with Scotland. Is the future of our children and grandchildren really being decided by three score and ten Tory members of Parliament? The right-wing of the Conservative Party has conducted a ruthless campaign holding every Tory Government to ransom for decades. Not the moan of a so-called ‘Remoaner’, merely a simple question: “who is going to take back control from them?
See The Article 12/12/20
After Trump, the natural hope is that America’s second Catholic Presidency may attract some of the Camelot talent of Kennedy’s first. That looks as imaginary as the Arthurian legend. Jo Biden will be surrounded by bright, successful lawyers like Anthony Blinken, an experienced diplomat in the role of new US Secretary of State. Only in television dramas are lawyers noted for thinking outside the box.
Kamala Harris as Vice-President also brings a sharp legal mind to the White House and Linda Thomas Greenfield, an African-American from Louisiana, brings her considerable diplomatic experience in Africa to the role of ambassador to the United Nations. With Alejandro Mayorkas, a Cuban-American, as head of Homeland Security, retired- General Lloyd Austin as first black Secretary of Defence at the Pentagon, John Kerry dealing with Climate Change, and Janet Yellen (Polish Jewish) as treasury secretary, Biden has been awarded an alpha plus for diversity.
Not merited though if this diversity is cosmetic or an end in itself. Nasrine Malik in The Guardian (7 December) makes the point. “When people are hired to make a government ‘look’ a certain way, by governing parties with conservative politics it’s usually a way of making changes so everything stays the same – or gets worse”. How probable is it that some sharp black minds in the Biden Cabinet will link up with Black Lives Matter to initiate deep systemic change in US policing? I wouldn’t bet on it given Republican manipulation of law and order issues.
But the value of diversity is not the only message from Biden’s appointments. The other is that fellow Americans are in safe, predictable, experienced hands, the damage and social wounds visited on the homeland by Trump will be repaired and healed, the trajectory of domestic and foreign policy pursued by Obama will be resumed. America’s time of shame has passed. And all shall be well, all manner of things shall be well.
Well not quite. Both Anthony Blinken and Kamala Harris supported the invasion of Iraq. Neither is on the radical wing of the Democratic Party. No big thinker such as Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. - who opposed the Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961 - will be sitting in the Oval Office. Not that anyone heeded Schlesinger at the time. President Kennedy authorised a CIA plot to overthrow Castro with a small rag-tag Cuban exile force which was shot up, mopped up and defeated. We can be confident that Jo Biden will treat US enemies more rationally than Trump and try to get the nuclear deal with Iran, reneged on by the USA, back up and running. That’s hardly radical. He won’t risk easing the damaging sanctions that are crippling Iran and playing into the hands of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. It will be back to traditional US Middle East policy.
For there to be more substantial change, the Democrats will require two terms in office. The first to restore the status quo ante of 2016. The second to reach forwards with vision to 2028. The USA has got rid of Trump. It has not got rid of the causes of Trump.
What is the underlying problem, usually dubbed populism, which the USA has experienced in its direst form? Deep seated inequality, ‘truth decay’ and easily manipulated citizens, fears caused by globalisation, a flawed political culture? We are encountering the same phenomena in the UK where thankfully there aren’t more guns than people, nor a Republican Party demonstrating a prodigious level of cynicism and irresponsibility - though some might fear the right wing of the Conservative Party is fast heading that way.
In a period of overlapping crises business as usual is folly. Crises call for a prophetic pragmatism described in Michael J. Brown’s Hope & Scorn: Eggheads, Experts & Elites in American Politics. Cornel West, the philosopher, American activist, Southern Baptist, black intellectual, used the term in 1989 for an intellectual leader, acting as a ‘critical organic catalyst’ in his community. Anyone called an intellectual instantly falls into the popular category of patronising elites. In the UK as in the USA, there is a perennial tension between academics, experts, Booker Prize winners, public intellectuals imagining different worlds, and the premise on which democracy rests: the people - who should have ‘voice’ - as the source of political authority. When the tension becomes acute and a divisive populism degrades public discourse – Trump at one point bizarrely described the American people as the ‘super-elite’ – anti-intellectualism becomes the common sense of the day, a mark of popular authenticity. The trouble is someone has to think outside the box when the box is increasingly liable to flooding, forest fires, tornadoes, demagogues, religious extremism and malign viruses.
The influential Marxist philosopher, Antonio Gramsci - who took the time to talk to Lancia and Fiat workers in Turin where he studied - introduced the concept of the ‘organic intellectual’ (Prison Notebooks 1926-1937). Such a person as part of an organisation of the people, for example trades unions and women’s organisations, was able to overcome the detached intellectual’s democratic deficit, to guide and represent workers, opening up new horizons. Brazil’s Paolo Freire’s “Pedagogy of the Oppressed”, for example, advocated adult education through literacy, drawing out the knowledge that came from poor people’s own experience of oppression, allowing them to decide for themselves what action to take.
But in the UK our days of ‘worker education’ are past. Our popular mass media don’t help and haven’t helped. I remember during the apartheid era taking a group of black South African trades unionists up to the Liverpool docks to meet dockworkers. You could spot those who read the Daily Worker (now the Morning Star), they knew a lot about what was going on, asked insightful questions, while those who read ‘The Sun’ knew almost nothing, hung back and looked sheepish. The Press hasn’t changed much. But today’s social media creates many more silos and walled gardens of the soul while the Mail and the Sun still cultivate resentment. Movements such as Black Lives Matter, Occupy Wall Street and Extinction Rebellion have rejected ‘elitist’ leadership structures and rely on social media or ‘assembly spaces’ for generating dialogue, ideas and a fresh view of history. No Martin Luther Kings or Cornel Wests here yet.
Where then should we seek Britain’s organic intellectuals? If the USA is anything to go by, in the Churches, particularly amongst theologians who are women and in the black community. In Latin America the liberation theologians took that role and the Argentinian Pope Francis carried their option for the poor, and popular piety, with him to Rome. In UK, Evangelicals such as Reverend Joel Edwards, director-general of the Evangelical Alliance from 1997-2009, led the way into engagement with key social and geo-political issues. David Lammy, now a forthright Labour Shadow Minister for Justice, carried his formation in the Anglican Church into politics. In the future the black Pentecostal Churches, now so distant from secular culture, may produce some surprises. When it comes to thinking outside the box, black lives matter but so do black minds.
See TheArticle 08/12/20
We are running out of time and out of clichés: level playing field, cliff-edge, car crash, last chance saloon. Boris Johnson has less than a month to choose between possible outcomes of the BREXIT negotiations: No-Deal or Bad Deal presented as a triumph of British bull-dog spirit.
There is no point in deploring political leaders’ conflation of national interest and Party interest at times like these - though they are clearly different. But in weighing up the two interests, assuming he considers interests other than his own, the Prime Minister will be thinking about how he can keep his job. Despite variations in estimates of our GDP loss from BREXIT, he will know the government figures: a further 7.6% decline in our GDP over the next fifteen years in the event of No-Deal or in the event of some sort of ‘fair trade deal’ a 4.9% decline. This is on top of the shorter term, and shocking, projections of a plunge in GDP, and precipitous growth in unemployment, caused by the pandemic.
Some kind of settlement is on the cards. Johnson may well throw enough of ‘our’ fish into EU nets for the French fishermen. There would seem to be enough wriggle-room with existing EU exemptions to allow state aid to parts of the economy. Though Conservative ideology has always shunned such interventions. Johnson will blather about regaining national sovereignty to obscure the lose-lose reality of his deal. He will hope to blame any subsequent economic collapse on the pandemic. His back-benches who want at all costs to curtail economic damage caused by lock-downs have promoted significantly greater damage than the pandemic through hard-line BREXIT lobbying. No Deal means rolling economic decline continuing until the next election, with Johnson’s chances of survival less than Channel cod.
It will be bad enough with an agreed apology for a deal on the table. In addition to economic disaster and burgeoning domestic poverty the UK will have absolutely no say in the workings of the Single Market, the market which geography determines is our principal, largest and most lucrative trading partner. And without the heft of EU membership Britain will be weakened in far more than its economic power.
Would understanding how we got to this position, the history of UK-EU relations, make this act of self-harm less painful and depressing? Not really. But it seems an appropriate moment to look back.
Sir Stephen Wall’s Reluctant European: Britain and the European Union from 1945 to BREXIT gives the reader the intellectual pleasure of good readable prose, unparalleled expertise, and an historian’s gift for narrative. Wall worked on UK-EU relations in a variety of ways with successive Prime Ministers and was in near constant negotiations with the EU as a civil servant for 35 years. He offers telling glimpses behind the curtains of high office, and a balanced, subtle analysis of how governments and negotiations actually work.
Britain was always the odd one out in Europe. We misjudged the importance of the European Economic Community in its early days and it took us a – lost – decade fighting de Gaulle to get in. And when we were in we contrived to be only half in. There was the Commonwealth to consider. New Zealand butter did not grease the wheels of British membership. We rightly thought the dysfunctional Common Agricultural Policy which swallowed 90% of the EU budget and benefited mainly France was crazy. Ted Heath was our first true Europhile. But then there was our ‘special relationship’ with the USA which Margaret Thatcher notably enhanced, while infuriating the EU Commission with her strident demands for the return of ‘our money’, the budget rebate. Tony Blair, much appreciated in Brussels before the Iraq war, imagined himself as ‘the bridge’ between the EU and the USA, but to all intents and purposes, traffic across the bridge was one way piling up in the Berlayment Building in Brussels, the EU headquarters.
But behind such policy questions lay the fundamental bone of contention, three words that would never go away: ‘ever closer union’. Britain promoted a liberal trading order within a Single/Common Market and consistently pushed its vision of a EEC/EU as an inter-governmental organisation governed by the deliberations of the State leaders within the EU Council. Our commitment to enlargement by admission of newly freed eastern European countries was aimed at supporting their democratisation and the development of a human rights culture. But enlargement also made a federal EU more difficult to imagine and create.
Nonetheless, Britain reluctantly joined in, or was drawn into, the supranational structures as they developed, the EU Commission and EU Parliament. When Blair was prevented from joining the Eurozone by his Chancellor, Gordon Brown, the dye of British exceptionalism was cast. Britain with its accumulated opt-outs could not lead the EU, or be ‘at its heart’ as it said it wished. Nor had it ever really been able to break the bond between France and Germany to become member of a leadership triumvirate. Hostility to ‘ever closer union’ was the perennial stumbling block.
EU Enlargement came back to savage the UK. Blair’s imprudent acceptance of unrestricted numbers of eastern European EU migrants – they were an overall plus for the economy – alienated those who resented what they saw as interlopers taking their jobs and housing. So UKIP was able to sew the ‘immigrant problem’ into existing hostility to the EU. Antipathy to concepts of shared sovereignty grew into outright rejection of EU membership fed by the Murdoch Press. Wall makes the case that before the referendum vote Cameron brought back a better package of concessions from the EU Commission than the British public were allowed by the Murdoch Press to consider.
Throughout the 2016 referendum ‘Take back control’ and ‘Project Fear’ trounced REMAIN’s repeated warnings about the economic dangers of BREXIT. Clever half-truths, sometimes flagrant lies about the alleged financial deficit that we accrued from EU membership, plus risible threats of massive Turkish immigration did the rest. Reluctant European charts these choppy waters with insight and skill.
We never got to hear about the many positive EU achievements and developments, several led by the UK. Nor the social, scientific, artistic and security benefits of membership. Though, of course, some like the Social Chapter – from which Major got an opt-out - with its advancement of workers’ rights, was not necessarily seen as positive.
Negativity prevailed though the latest polling confirms public opinion has swung away from BREXIT since 2016. What has not changed is the perennial uncertainty. But we are where we are and stuck with the cliché “perfect storm”. Or as Isaiah once put it “our sins blew us away like the wind”.
See TheArticle 02/12/20