Brexit Bulletin: Decline and decay in suburbia
‘No job to be found in this country, Can’t go on no more, The people getting angry’ 1
Good afternoon, here are this weeks’ headlines:
Members of the government and their shadow counterparts continue to hold cross-party talks as they try to break the Brexit deadlock.
Sources indicated the PM had not accepted Labour’s customs union demand, but there was a move towards changing the non-binding political declaration.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said there had been no change in the government’s ‘red lines’.
Editorial comment: the red lines are still the problem and the reason that, to date, the PM hasn’t been able to get her deal through the House. Therefore, she must understand that to garner greater support some, if not all, of those red lines need to go.
In case the PM needs any help, compromise can be defined as; ‘an agreement or settlement of a dispute that is reached by each side making concessions.’
As a result of this all too predictable stalemate the PM again had to grovel before the EU to seek a compromise. Basically, the EU are taking back control!
‘Basically, the EU are taking back control!’
European Union leaders have granted us a six-month extension to Brexit, the new deadline – 31 October – avoids the prospect of the UK having to leave the EU without a deal on Friday, as MPs are still unable to agree.
European Council President Donald Tusk said his ‘message to British friends’ was ‘please do not waste this time’.
Theresa May, who had wanted a shorter delay, said the UK would still aim to leave the EU as soon as possible.
The UK must now hold European elections in May or leave on 1 June without a deal.
Editorial comment: given the current state of affairs, it’s hard to see how we can reach any consensus on this, whatever the timeframe. Which begs the question, is the PM in the pockets of the hard-right Extreme Reactionary Group? (OK, I know it’s not their correct name but if the cap fits….) After, all if we crash-out they are the winners.
In its report on Tuesday, the International Monetary Fund has warned that a no-deal Brexit scenario involving border delays and financial market turmoil would increase the damage to about 4 percent of GDP by 2021.
The IMF said that even in a relatively orderly no-deal Brexit scenario – with no delays at borders and minimal financial market turmoil – the economy would grow 3.5 percent less by the end of 2021 than it would under a smoother Brexit.
Editorial comment: Now, obviously the Little Englanders will accuse the IMF of ‘scare-mongering’, but they do know what they are talking about. Not something that Mark Francois is often accused of!
Trade is an essential part of economic growth, and in spite of Liam Fox and his trade agreement with the Seychelles might think, that isn’t going to improve if we leave the worlds’ biggest free-trade zone.
This column mentioned the Repeal of the Corn Laws last week, that was based on protection versus free trade. The basic notion that has underpinned free trade theory ever since – that a country should remove barriers and open its borders.
At the time this created a geographical split within the country, just as it has today, the only difference is that the regional divide has been turned on its head. In 1840, the strongest support for the anti-Corn Law League came from the middle classes in the towns of Lancashire and Yorkshire, at the forefront of the Industrial Revolution, who were more prosperous than the rural counties south of a line from the Wash to the Severn Estuary.
And, now to a Tale of Two Cities (well, two towns but Dickens didn’t write a book called that), a tale of decline and decay in suburbia:
‘It’s a shithole,’ she said. ‘I’m not being funny, but would you want to live here?’
‘Rates went up, shops closed,’ she continued. ‘And now all we’ve got is coffee places and phone shops.’
‘I’m not being funny, but would you want to live here?’
‘My grandchildren go to school, and all they’ve got is budget cuts, budget cuts, budget cuts. We’ve got Crossrail coming through here, and all it’s done is put up property prices and made the poor man poorer.
‘I’m sorry – I could go on for hours,’ she told me. ‘I used to think this was heaven. It’s just so rough.
‘The high street was smattered with empty premises. there was a familiar-looking array of discount shops and vape outlets. The chain of hairdressers Toni & Guy was missing most of the letters from its sign, which now said ‘Ton’; next door was a former branch of the Royal Bank of Scotland, long vacated.
This is no better: ‘housing developments going up around a town centre in which any civic pride seemed to have all but evaporated.
There were as many vacant shops as I have seen in places that are outwardly much more deprived.’
‘It was symbolised, many said, by the fact that even a new(ish) shopping centre called Eden – Eden! – was now spotted with vacant units.’
And, where are towns One and Two, they are in leafy suburbia, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire; Maidenhead, and High Wycombe.
Yes, Maidenhead, which is in the PMs own constituency, and High Wycombe, whose local MP is Steve Baker, the self-styled ‘Brexit hard man’.
Like Nero he fiddled whilst Rome burns, or more accurately he chases his Brexit dreams and immerse himself in Tory infighting, whilst his political backyard decays.
‘Baker had said he would resign if remain won….unfortunately hubris kicked-in and he forgot to’
The PMs constituency of Windsor and Maidenhead voted to remain by 54% to 46%, whilst Wycombe had a 52% vote to remain. Disappointingly, Baker had said he would resign if remain won, he then consoled himself by saying he was ‘disappointed’ but ‘also surprised’, unfortunately hubris kicked-in and he forgot to resign.
And, if this Tale of Two Cities wasn’t sufficient to show what austerity had done for the country, and how it had sown the seeds of discontent, the first winner of this columns, ‘I’m in love with myself’ award goes to Iain Conn the CEO of Centrica, the owner of British Gas, who, quite magnificently awarded himself 44% par rise, whilst:
- British Gas, in 2018, introduced two bill increases of 3.8% and 5.5%, bringing the average annual charge for a dual fuel customer to more than £1,200.
- Cut 7,700 jobs since 2015 and plans to cut a further 1,500 to 2,000 this year.
- Centrica’s shares plunged to a two-decade low
- It is losing about 90,000 customers a month
Is that Con or Conn? Because, it looks to me like we are all being conned.
‘They started this mess, I know I seen them do it, Now They better Confess’ 2
Now, you might ask, what this has to do with Brexit? Everything.
The country is in a mess, high streets are empty, shops are closing, everyone is fed-up, and this causes a deep divide. The rich, for example Mr Con(n) are doing very nicely thanks, and being rewarded for losing customers, making people unemployed, and destroying shareholder value.
The basis of the Leave campaign was, ‘Taking Back Control’, the reality is that was nothing but clever, cynical marketing. The average Leave voter isn’t even in control of their own lives anymore.
‘The average Leave voter isn’t even in control of their own lives anymore’
People were manipulated, led to believe that Leaving was the answer to all our / their problems. It isn’t, it is simply the pipe-dream of Little Englanders wrapping themselves in the flag and dreaming of Empire and scones for tea.
Whilst many argue that a second referendum will further divide the country, I disagree; we are already there. And for all those who think that the result of the referendum is scared, and that we cannot change our minds, let us reflect on two quotes for the well-known Brexiter, David Davis:
- ‘We should not ask people to vote on a blank sheet of paper and tell them to trust us to fill in the details afterwards.(Editorial; but that is what we did) For referendums to be fair and compatible with our parliamentary process, we need the electors to be as well informed as possible and to know exactly what they are voting for (Editorial; presumably that means telling the truth?). Referendums need to be treated as an addition to the parliamentary process, not as a substitute for it.’ (Editorial; that was then, now it’s the will of the people and must be carried out)
Source: House of Commons Debates (Hansard), 26 November 2002, column 201
- ‘If a democracy cannot change its mind, it ceases to be a democracy.’(Editorial; therefore, we can have a second referendum and change our minds)
Source: David Davis MP speech ‘Europe: It’s Time To Decide’ (19 November 2012)
You see, Dave, everything you say can, and will be, written down as used as evidence against you!
This simply demonstrates the double-standards of these people, what we need is truth, facts, figures, to expose their idyllic dream. Then we need a radical overhaul, one that finds a political party that cares, and who’s sums add-up. You can’t fix 40-years of neglect in one afternoon, but you can at least start.
How? Well, to start with we need to accept the need for a third-party, a true alternative and support them by getting rid of the ‘first-past-the-post’ voting system.
Only the will they have a chance and not be ‘just a wasted vote’. This will re-enfranchise people like me and, I suspect many others.
Perhaps out of this will come something positive.
‘I used to think that the day would never come, I’d see delight in the shade of the morning sun’ 3
Another triple treat for lyric spotters this week; two out of three for me, and an introduction to an absolutely top track from a band that will hitherto feature on my playlist.
1 just fits beautifully with the sense of despair and urban decay – The Specials ‘Ghost Town’ is a classic and the fact that it is 38 years old suggests this may not only be a recent phenomena, although there have been some sunny uplands in the interim.
2 is a treat, and top marks for anyone nailing ‘Return of the Rat’ by the Wipers; a great track later covered by Nirvana and from the seminal album ‘Is This Real’. Surely disconnected from the fact that David Davis and Iain Con(n) are featured.
3 last off the rank, ‘True Faith’ by New Order sounds pretty upbeat, but there are some darker recesses in the lyrics – and can anyone explain that video? Enjoy!
Philip is a great believer in meritocracy, and in the belief that if you want something enough you can make it happen. These beliefs were formed in his formative years, of the late 1970s and 80s
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