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.

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Britain In Reverse

After candidates were reduced to two contenders in the Conservative Party leadership race, the underdog Andrea Leadsom suddenly pulls out, leaving just one person to inherit the reins and become Prime Minister by default.

It was generally assumed that no successor to Prime Minister David Cameron would be in place before September 2016 at the earliest but now everything has changed and Theresa May has moved into 10 Downing Street as the country’s second female premier. It is far too early to comment upon what she may or may not achieve in the coming months, but her track record is not encouraging and she comes across in a similar dogmatic fashion to the late Margaret Thatcher. Some people will remember that Thatcher ‘was not for turning’ when it came to policy decisions although she is famous for doing a complete u-turn on the issue of the Community Charge or Poll Tax as it was more readily known. In the same vein, May has already stated that ‘Brexit means Brexit’ so it would appear that she is determined to bring the UK out of the European Union despite having campaigned for the country to remain a member.

There is little doubt that Theresa May is a strong character, and in that respect, may be beneficial to the party that she leads. One cannot help drawing comparisons with Thatcher despite the fact that it’s 26 years since she was toppled from her position. May comes across as very determined, at times fixated, on the issues at hand. She has spent the last six years as Home Secretary with a focus on immigration and the controversial streamlining of the country’s police forces. Now, as unelected leader, she has rejected an early election, despite being extremely vociferous in demanding one when Gordon Brown took over from his predecessor, Tony Blair. The last three weeks since the referendum have been a rollercoaster and the electorate seem more divided than ever so it remains to be seen how accepting they will be of a new Prime Minister who was not only on the losing side in the referendum, but won the job without a contest to validate her ascent.

So what can the country expect from Theresa May? She has promised to build a “better Britain” and to make the UK’s exit from the EU a “success” whatever that means in common parlance. Her leadership bid was based on the need for “strong, proven leadership”, a “positive vision” for the country’s future, and the ability to unite both her party and the country. She has stated that she has a vision of a country that works not for the privileged few, but for everyone, and people are going to be given more control over their lives, thereby building a better Britain. It’s rather ironic, then, that once Brexit is all done and dusted, an important control of one’s life will have been removed … namely the ability to live and work almost anywhere within Europe!

 

The daughter of a priest, May is driven by high moral standards as evidenced by her attacks on police corruption, demanding an inquiry into institutional child abuse, and overruling civil service advice. In her leadership campaign speeches, she implied a moralistic approach to economic policy, outlining plans to curb executive pay and put consumers and workers on corporate boards. Given the reputation of the Tory party to line the pockets of the rich at the expense of the poor in society, this approach remains to be seen. As the well known proverb states, a leopard can’t change its spots.

Irrespective of what she may or may not achieve, it seems highly likely that the UK will be under Tory rule for the next four years under the terms of the Fixed Period governments. With so much uncertainty and doubt following the referendum result, it is inconceivable that the country will make much progress but more likely be in reverse. For all its faults, the EU is forward-thinking, progressive and beneficial to its members, albeit more favourable to some than others, but that is the nature of different economies. The UK has been a strong player within the EU in over 40 years of membership, and so much has been achieved through active participation and dialogue with neighbouring countries. It now faces considerable isolation and an economic battle to try and regain favour in the wider world. This is likely to take many years, way beyond the foreseeable tenure of Therea May. How much she can achieve in the next four years remains to be seen.