A Society In Conflict

It is now over ten months since voters in the United Kingdom elected, by a very small majority, to exit the European Union.

It is said that a week is a long time in politics, so ten months must surely be an eternity. Indeed, for UK citizens residing in other member states of the EU, the last ten months has been a period of great uncertainty regarding their future rights and benefits, and at the time of writing, nothing has changed. After the fiasco over the resignation of former Prime Minister David Cameron, the country has been led by Theresa May, a woman who claims to follow Christian principles yet is showing scant regard for the welfare of the poorer in society and the hundreds of thousands of her citizens living in other European countries.

The PM steadfastly repeated that there would be no snap election and that parliament would run its course under the Fixed Term Act. Furthermore, the government promised that voting rights would be reinstated to UK citizens who have been living abroad for over fifteen years and are currently excluded from a vote, prior to the next election. So what does the PM do? She promptly goes against her word and calls a snap election for 8 June 2017 and those without voting rights will continue to be left in the wilderness. It has become quite apparent over the last eight months of her reign that Prime Minister May cannot be trusted in anything she says or does. She claims that the election is needed to give her a stronger mandate for negotiation of the withdrawal terms from the EU and repeatedly says that Britain needs a strong and stable government. Whilst there are countless members of the ruling Conservative Party who oppose Brexit at any cost, they are frightened to step out of line and support their leader in her misguided decisions. May states that she wants to listen to the electorate and is a committed constituency MP so it’s ironic that she is totally disregarding the wishes of her own constituency where some 94% of voters wanted the UK to remain in the EU. Although she doesn’t broadcast the fact, May was also an advocate of EU membership, but her rise to power has seen her become little more than a dictator and society is becoming ever more divided by wealth and the lack of it. Irrespective of people’s wishes, she has already decided the direction in which she is taking the country.

The UK is anything but strong and stable, with huge economic and social problems, many of which have amassed during the last seven years of Conservative administration. Just as in the EU referendum campaign, statistics have been manipulated to cover the truth, and employment figures are a prime example. Whilst banners and the Tory press may proclaim some of the lowest unemployment figures in decades, the reality is that thousands of people are only in part-time work or engaged on zero hours contracts with low wages. The National Health Service (NHS), once the envy of the world, is constantly being reinvented and employing bureaucrats on obscene salaries, yet the stark reality is one of diminishing nursing staff, a reduction in beds, excessive waiting times which often lead to premature death, and very low morale. Apparently there is no money for nurses who have to endure minimum wage increases, yet unnecessary tiered management can be paid six figure sums simply to asset strip and prepare for privatisation via the back door. The private sector has long been the goal of the Tories … under Margaret Thatcher, the country witnessed the privatisation of all the utility companies, telecommunications and the rail network, and one only has to subscribe to these to witness poor service and very high costs. In fact, many of the utility and rail companies are owned by European giants, either private or government-controlled, who rake in the profits that, otherwise, would be reinvested in the respective businesses.

Following the vote for Brexit, the country has become more socially divided. There have been many reports of racism directed towards fellow Europeans, and citizens of other EU countries living in the UK now also fear for their long-term future. The government has already given directives for some to leave the country, resulting in the breaking up of families and potentially denying children of a parent. More and more people are having to rely upon food banks to make ends meet, violence is on the increase in some of the largest cities, and the poor especially are becoming more vulnerable. Our Christian Prime Minister has made little or no comment about the social fragmentation of her country but dogmatically reiterates the need for a strong and stable government. What about a strong and stable society?

Although achieving a small majority vote from those who voted, Brexit only represents some 34% of the UK electorate. Because of the aforementioned ban on British citizens across Europe being able to vote in EU referendum owing to living overseas for more than 15 years, three million people were denied their democratic right to vote on their own future. This is ironic given that they some of the most likely to be adversely affected by the outcome. Once again, these three million will be silenced in the upcoming General Election. No amount of MPs and a larger House of Commons majority will make the slightest difference to the eventual terms of Brexit as these will be agreed by governments and not individuals. Therefore, it could be construed that her arguments for this election are futile to say the least and no matter what the outcome, May will still have to negotiate with the 27 remaining EU member states.

Sadly, not all British overseas residents voted to remain in the EU. For some inexplicable reason, especially those residing in Spain, they do not regard Spain as Europe and think they have special status and rights to live here. By and large, it is the more uneducated members of society and those with more money than sense who supported the Brexit cause although there were many who were simply influenced by lie upon lie that life would be better outside the Union. People would do well to remember that rarely is the grass greener …

Of course, standing by a referendum that bamboozled, deceived and lied to the electorate is another matter entirely. Regardless of the result, any PM worth his or her salt would have spoken to the nation explaining reasons for its annulment and then laying out the full benefits and disadvantages for all to see. There would be no visible campaigning allowed and people would simply be given time to digest the facts before casting their vote. As things stand, the United Kingdom may well find itself isolated in what is becoming a very violent and turbulent world, and at least a generation have been denied unrestricted movement and career opportunities.

It just remains to be seen what the final outcome of Brexit will be once May assembles her strong and stable government. One thing is certain … she will not be acting in the interests of the majority irrespective of the election result as figures now reveal that more British people are supportive of EU membership than not since the referendum campaign lies emerged.

Common Courtesy

Another brief trip down memory lane…

Exactly seven years ago this month, most days seemed endless and extremely boring. I was in the early stages of living life without gainful employment and even though I would often grumble about the daily routine of work, it does give a purpose to each day. With typical dull, cold and wet British weather, I had little incentive to venture out of doors, thereby exacerbating an already strenuous situation. Almost daily, my life was taken up with searching for new employment. For anyone not over familiar with this task, it is an extremely time-consuming and wearisome occupation, endlessly scanning the plethora of job sites available on the internet. One of the most frustrating things I discovered was that jobs were not classified under sufficient headings, so in order to find potential opportunities, it was necessary to search under almost every category. Once the slowness of page downloads was taken into account, the hours of the day quickly passed by! Of course, this was in the days before ADSL broadband connectivity was widely available!

In order to try and numb my boredom, I participated in the National IQ Test 2003 via interactive television. This was the one bright spark in a gloomy month… Normally, I’m not one to blow my own trumpet (perhaps that’s where I have been going wrong in life!) but I achieved an IQ of 136 which compared very favourably with the national average of 105! This was also in a period when the average IQ had been falling.

With only twelve days of employment remaining, it was very evident that certain people were keeping their distance. It never ceases to amaze me just how many individuals see a person for what they do rather than for who they are; indeed, inconveniences such as a period of unemployment (through no fault of my own, incidentally!) can prove to be a real test of true friendship.

Looking back, I made one of my final day trips to France. This was predominantly for the purpose of stocking up on some cheap booze…I anticipated being in need of copious quantities to drown my sorrows! There was also time to enjoy some of the local scenery in close proximity to Calais and the weather was fine, in marked contrast to that in Britain at the time. I stated that it was one of my final day trips for several reasons. Firstly, the costs of such day trips are now much higher since the abolition of cheap day ferry tickets. Secondly, the cost of alcohol in this country is now comparatively lower than several years ago, and thirdly, I no longer live within reasonable travelling distance of Dover for the short crossing to northern France. The trip from my local port takes in excess of 6 hours and lands in Brittany!

A final word on the subject of seeking new employment. I found it both frustrating and extremely discourteous that companies seemingly ignored applications and correspondence. Even jobs applied for via e-mail failed to generate a response, despite the fact that it takes but a few seconds to acknowledge a communication with minimal cost. Incidentally, nothing has improved with regard to replies from companies as recent experience will testify. Perhaps I am old fashioned and expect too much from people, but if more common courtesy was extended between human beings, then the world would be a far better place.