Would the 17.4 million please stand up

Johnson, Gove et al appear to be engaged in some political limbo challenge. How low can you go? Hey I can go lower than that. So we are being shamed almost hourly by the ridiculous sabre rattling, the aggressive speeches, the threats against those who oppose them and their dangerous alt-right fuelled dreams.

I say shamed, but terrified would be more accurate. How many of you saw the Leave poster yesterday? It’s been taken down now but I may be able to find it on the web to show you. Well that didn’t take long, you can see it here.

One of the backers of this campaign is Arron Banks. Not the man you’d like find moving in next door. All the hallmarks of fascism are stamped over both Leave and Johnson’s government. The playbook is lifted from the rise of the Nazis. We are constantly told leaving the EU is the will of the British people; that to ignore the result of the 2016 referendum would be undemocratic, would let down the 17.4 million who voted in favour of ‘going it alone’. Never mind that the population is more than four times that number, that quite a few of the people who voted are now dead, and every poll shows most people want to stay in the EU, that large numbers of those who voted Leave are horrified at what is being done in their name. No, the tail must wag the dog and pull us all down. It would be nice if the 17.4 million stood up now and told the government to stop. It may only be if they do that the madness will end. Continue reading

Jo Cox 1974-2016

Like many people I have been on Twitter this evening, and on the internet. I have watched the news obsessively. The first I knew of the shooting of Jo Cox MP was when I picked up my ‘phone early this evening and saw an email from a newsfeed saying there had been reports of an attack on an MP.

Jo Cox was one of the few MPs in the House of Commons who made you feel every word she said was genuine. She was bright and funny, serious and committed. I am sure I am not the only one to have noted her as a future leader of the Labour Party, and a future Prime Minister.

For all my news scanning and watching, why she was killed is still unclear. There are reports that her killer suffered from mental illness, that he was normally a gentle person who did work in other people’s gardens for free. Other reports say that he shouted “Britain first!” before pulling the trigger on his home made gun. Continue reading

After Paris

From my windows I can see the London Eye lit up in the stripes of the French tricolore, as it was last night.

Tricolore Eye

Tricolore Eye

I am shocked and saddened by what happened in Paris on Friday night. I haven’t listened to the radio today, watched the television or read news updates online, so I hope that there have been no more bloody incidents.

On Friday night watching the news, I listened disbelievingly as a member of the US military said that the death of Mohammed Emwazi would be a blow to ISIS. From all accounts Emwazi was a sad and rather pathetic creature. He lacked self-esteem, was teased at school for having bad breath and all footage of him in his teenage years shows him covering his mouth with his hands or a convenient piece of clothing. In other words, a perfect candidate to be groomed by people who would exploit his neediness. As Jihadi John, the knife wielding horseless man of the apocalypse, he inspired a fearful respect; a seemingly pitiless executioner, he was also a victim. Sadly, ISIS probably has already filled his shoes with some other recruit desperate to be regarded as important. Who mourns Emwazi? His family, one hopes, but probably no one else.

James Foley’s mother, interviewed when the news broke, expressed no joy at his death. Others have voiced concerns at this extra-judicial killing. True it would be have been hard to have arrested him and tried him at the Old Bailey, but this year we have been celebrating the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta, which is all about the rule of law. We do not have the death penalty in this country, so this deliberate hunting down and killing appears doubly illegal.

I think it also plays into the terrorists’ hands. Our morals are shown to be elastic. ISIS, like fundamentalists of other religions, operates in a black and white world. Its members believe they, and only they, are right; they have read and understood the Qu’ran. To the end of hastening the end of the world and killing all who are not true believers, the slaughter of people out to enjoy an evening in Paris at a football match, a restaurant or a rock concert, is all part of a just cause.

It’s not just ISIS, or even fundamentalists, who use religious texts to justify violence or bigotry. How many times have you heard Leviticus cited by those who oppose gay rights? And how often have women been told that the Bible makes clear they are subordinate to men? In the Old Testament women are even denied souls. Mother had a very annoying habit of ending family arguments with a biblical quotation. Continue reading