The truth about immigration is that Brexit or no it will continue

People want facts rather than “politicians’ lies”, they say. Well, here are some facts. Immigration is probably the one big issue fuelling the Leave lead in the polls. Well, the statistics show that more immigration comes from outside the EU than inside, and the former tend to stay, while the latter much less so. It is said that being an EU member means we have to accept the free movement of people. The Brexit immigration case is that by “re-gaining control over our borders” we can stop all this immigration. How true is this? The difficulty for Remain is that they can’t deny that the free movement of people is a core freedom entailed in membership, in that citizens of EU countries have the right to live and work where they choose in the EU. Business argues strongly in its … Read more

Has the UK lost sovereignty to the EU or has it gained power?

The Leave campaign say that their aim is to regain sovereignty from “Brussels”, to “take back control”. It’s a potent message to a voting population that feels remote from Westminster, disempowered and dispossessed. The sense of the loss of sovereignty seems starkly clear when people seem unable to limit changes that seem to flow from a remote institution that seems to lack accountability. Yet what is the strength of this argument? Parliamentary sovereignty and shared sovereignty At one level, Britain has not lost sovereignty. The mere fact that Parliament can hold a referendum and choose to leave the EU shows that it holds ultimate sovereignty over its own affairs. Constitutionally Parliament is sovereign. No Parliament can bind its successor and so the European Communities Act (1972) can be repealed. However Britain has agreed to abide by legislation passed by the … Read more

Is Brexit to take back control or a revolt against change?

The central Leave aim in the EU referendum is to “take back control over our country”, a powerful, emotional appeal to the dispossessed and disempowered. The Remain warnings fall on deaf ears and the Leave cause now leads in the polls. Despite Cameron’s best efforts Gove and Johnson look likely to triumph. Reasonable, liberal, mild-mannered, educated people ask, “What’s going on? How can this be?” The campaign has all the hallmarks of a revolt against change. Despite well-argued rational campaigning, an emotional revolt against the liberal Establishment consensus is under way, an anger stirred by decades of income stagnation, loss of well-paid jobs, economic insecurity, a crumbling NHS, limited choice of schooling and lack of affordable housing. The targets are immigrants and the remote, bureaucratic and authoritarian Brussels elite, arguably scapegoats for economic recession, marginalisation and globalisation. The alliance that … Read more

Why is Brexit seen as a threat to the UK economy?

The core message of the Remain campaign is that Brexit will wreck the UK economy. Leave say this is Project Fear, and yet struggle to come up with a convincing alternative to the status quo. This is an age when many people are disengaged from politics and sceptical of competing claims. So who is right and who do we believe, those of us who are undecided and don’t easily get the arguments in this referendum? Here is a brief layman’s overview, with links to independent studies. The impact on the economy is usually central to the outcome of UK elections, THE deciding factor arguably, but this is not an election but a referendum. Britain has had all too few of them, we might say, and so we lack guidelines from the past. Yet it would appear that the Scottish referendum … Read more

The EU referendum and opinion polls: “It’s the economy, stupid”

To add to the uncertainty, it seems that 30% of people haven’t yet made up their mind which way to vote in the forthcoming EU referendum. Given that polling has shown that the result is on a knife-edge, it still leaves both sides with everything to play for. It is worth bearing in mind that research has shown that 80% of referendums tend to favour the status quo. People tend to vote against change. The two UK-wide referendums that we have had, in 1975 on whether to stay in the EU (sic), or in 2011 on the Alternative Vote attempt on electoral reform, both vote against change. In Scotland the status quo prevailed over the SNP campaign for independence by a 10% margin. Northern Ireland voted against union with the South in 1973. Similar patterns have been observed in other … Read more

Let’s not forget why we need european unity

Let’s not forget what Europe was like within living memory, full of bloody conflict, as it had been for hundreds of years. Brexiteers wanting to pull the UK out of the EU do so in the face of a very troubled history which has involved the UK more often than many realise, whereas under european unity we have had 71 years of peace. This photo shows the place where six resistance members in our village in France were shot by the Nazis after the Allied landings in 1944, in retaliation for the Resistance’s uprising. This was the Europe that those founding the EU wanted to prevent ever happening again. We in the UK were part of the immense and very costly effort to bring peace to a bitterly divided Europe. This continent was riven by nationalism and racism, where 6 … Read more

The strange death of the post-war British political order

When major change happens it can be hard to see what’s really happening. All is flux and uncertainty. In the British 2015 general election fundamental change is happening before our eyes and yet we can’t see what it is. We persist in thinking in terms of the old model of the political order when it has already gone and things have shifted beyond what we can conceive. It will take time for the new dispensation to make itself clear. What has happened is that the traditional post-war model of the nationwide two-party system elected by the “First Past the Post” (FPTP) electoral system in a unicameral, centralised state has finally hit the buffers and no longer works. Yet politicians and to an extent voters still think in those traditional terms when actually a fundamental re-alignment of the political order is … Read more

The great Scottish Nationalist wipe-out is a paradigm shift

The massive poll leads for the Scottish National Party (SNP) reported recently offers to change everything politically north of the border post the 2015 general election. It will be the great Scottish Nationalist wipe-out of their opponents which has been predicted since the 1970’s and now possible due to the dynamics of the 2014 independence referendum and the consequences of the 2008 financial crash. The SNP probably rightly senses that there’s a great opportunity, possibly a once-in-a-lifetime one, where it can control the balance of power at Westminster very much as the Irish Home Rulers did in the late 19th century and thus bring about a major shift towards home rule for Scots. Replacing Labour as the Scottish left-of-centre force They have been able to capitalise brilliantly on the massive explosion of enthusiasm for independence, particularly amongst the young, exposing … Read more

UK Constitution under pressure (2): to remain in the EU or leave?

One of the most profound changes to the UK Constitution and system of government has been membership of the EU, and yet today many politicians are urging us to leave. Were this happen, it would be a further profound change and, many argue, a reduction in Britain’s influence in Europe and in the world. Proponents of Brexit however argue that Britain would, once freed of the bureaucratic and restrictive over-government of Brussels, be liberated and would flourish economically. Constitutionally the EU has brought about a very significant diminution in the sovereignty of Parliament, since it now has a rival legislator in the EU in the latter’s areas of competence, shared between the European Commission and the EU Parliament, a diminution in the power of the executive in relation to the EU Commission and the European Council, and the judiciary in … Read more

A hung Parliament after the 2015 election is a scary prospect

The likelihood of a hung parliament as a result of the 2015 UK election is causing a lot of uncertainty but worse than that the balance of forces is for once very unpredictable, and this in a country that “does not love coalitions”. The related forces of the rise of the Scottish National Party (SNP) in Scotland and the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) in England, as shown in opinion polls, and the revolt against the traditional “major” parties, mean that instead of the old two-horse race between Conservative and Labour, there are now likely to be a third force of the SNP sweeping up almost all seats in Scotland and, along with a plethora of small parties, able to control the balance of power. There’s no one obvious political grouping; there may be a governing coalition or a minority … Read more

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