Posts Tagged ‘2016 European Referendum’
A Very British Coup: The rise of Theresa May could see the end of the UK
Sunday Mail, July 17th 2006
Theresa May became the UK Prime Minister this week – elected on a mandate of 199 Tory MPs in what amounted to a very British coup.
She is only Britain’s second ever woman Prime Minister, following in the footsteps of Margaret Thatcher. But in other respects she follows Gordon Brown as the twelfth PM in the last 100 years who has entered Downing Street without a popular mandate.
Jeremy Corbyn is clinging on as Labour leader – aided by his party’s decision to let him on the leadership ballot – irrespective of how few parliamentary colleagues support him. For all the rhetoric of a Blairite coup against him, it is Tories historically who have known how to get rid of failed leaders.
Meanwhile Scotland quietly gets on with a different, more serious politics. It is one nearly entirely bereft of the theatrical politics of Westminster we have seen these last few weeks. Yet, with May coming north to meet Sturgeon, the chasm between the Scottish and UK Governments on EU membership and nationals – as well as Trident – couldn’t be bigger. Read the rest of this entry »
After Britain: Is Scottish Independence the New Normal?
Scottish Review, July 6th 2016
These are unprecedented times. The Tories, UKIP and English and Welsh Greens are all in the middle of leadership elections, while Jeremy Corbyn is holding on by his fingertips in a stand-off with his own parliamentary party
There is a lot of bewilderment, frustration and resentment – not just amongst Remain voters in the EU referendum, but also in the bitterly divided Leave camp.
In the midst of this maelstrom Scottish independence looks like the new normal: less risky and the safer option than the Brexiteer fantasy of Britain. Whereas before the vote Leave was left as an open offer, now the uber right-wing plans are being dusted down with the aim of ripping up every economic and social regulation possible.
Some are portraying independence as a potential new ‘Scottish Renaissance’, but for what version of Scotland? In many respects, one suspects this is a Scotland which is a mini-me version of ‘the great British economic miracle’ – our very own ‘Celtic Tiger’ reflated post-crash with little learnt from that implosion. Read the rest of this entry »
Is this the beginning of the end of Britain?
Sunday Mail, July 3rd 2016
It may not be the beginning of the end of the UK quite yet. But it is the end of British politics – and Britain, as we know it.
The British state faces its biggest geo-political set of challenges in generations. Blair and Iraq, Anthony Eden and Suez pale compared to this in terms of damage to the UK’s reputation, and only Neville Chamberlain and Munich, and Lord North’s loss of the American colonies, are in any way in the same league.
Fifty years of British statecraft towards the EU have been completely blown up, itself part of over two hundred years of how the UK has seen itself in relation to Europe – in attempting to keep the balance and prevent one country from controlling the continent. Now the EU will be left even more to German dominance.
A sizeable minority of Europe led by France want to punish the UK; the majority led by German Chancellor Angela Merkel still hope to do the best deal possible with the British. But there is widespread anger with the usually calm Dutch Prime Minister Mark Ruffe commenting, ‘England has collapsed politically, monetarily, constitutionally and economically.’ And that’s from a friend. Read the rest of this entry »
This is the world of little Britain and Scotland wants no part
Sunday Mail, June 26th 2016
This is what the death of a nation looks like – petty nationalism, populism, fact-free politics, and surprises everywhere. This is the world of ‘little Britain’ – and it isn’t pretty.
These are unpredictable times. There is anger and frustration. Whole sections of British society feel that politicians, elites and experts don’t understand them. Such is their desperation and feeling of powerlessness that many felt that Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage are the answer.
This referendum is about Europe, and has been a long time coming, but is also a proxy about so much more. It’s about the right-wing English press, the media and public obsession with personalities (even in politics), immigration, austerity and the ‘left behind’ working class.
Cameron gambled a second time for high stakes in a referendum and lost. That is bad enough, but he has lost the main strategic union for the UK internationally, and may have brought the union between Scotland and England to a bitter end. Read the rest of this entry »
Whatever happens, Britain has already left the building
Scottish Review, June 22nd 2016
The UK has already left Europe. It never really joined in any real sense.
National debates like this reveals much about the psyche of a country, and how it sees its collective hopes and fears. For one, it illuminates a lot about the ghosts of the past that haunt a country. In the Scottish indyref, for example, a great deal of this focused on the perceived legacy of Thatcherism and deindustrialisation.
In this European debate, the ghosts seemingly ever-present are those of the spectre of German dominance of the continent and the dark empire of the Nazis, Hitler and World War Two. Further proof, if it were needed, that this has a vice-like grip on the British imagination, was given by the recent controversy over anti-Semitism sparked by Ken Livingstone, which revolved around Hitler’s relationship with Zionism, lacking any sensitivity or interest in historical accuracy.
The 1975 referendum campaign, 41 years ago and 30 years after World War Two, had little to no references to the Nazis and Hitler. People were too close then to the horrendous, murderous events of the war, and careful to not appear tactless or make offensive comparisons. Read the rest of this entry »