Sunday, 22 December 2019
Thus we are heirs of endless woes . . .*
We are now ten days into the unfettered reign of Mr Johnson and his cohort and there are no surprises: the outlook is as gloomy as predicted.
The programme announced in Parliament omits the promised protection of employment rights as we leave the EU, there is to be no compassionate treatment of refugee children and the promised increase to £10 per hour in the minimum wage will only happen "if economic circumstances permit."
Parliamentary scrutiny of the negotiations with the EU re our future is to be severely restricted, the government is to reserve to itself "Henry VIII powers," the Fixed Term Parliament Act is to be repealed and the constitution itself to be reviewed, presumably to increase the powers of the executive and reduce the powers of the courts.
This is not our sovereign parliament "taking back control" but a power-hungry executive with the interests of only a privileged few at its heart.
With a parliamentary majority of 80 the Opposition parties can bleat and tub-thump to their hearts content, but there's not much they can do about it. This lot are impervious to shame. My friend John Cole, a former Liberal Democrat councillor in Bradford, quotes from Liz Gerrard in the New European (16th December}
"This isn't about whether the government is Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat or Green. It isn't about Leave or Remain. It is about allowing our society to be built on lies, deceit and dishonesty."
In the short run, the government may be quite popular if it does implement some of the much desired public investment in the North and North East. This will have the Keynesian multiplier effect that this blog, among other has been advocating for years.
But very little if anything that we'd like to do for our country will be made easier outside the EU than it would have been had we remained in. The Remain campaign has been mistaken in talking about a "cliff edge." The effect of our departure on the economy will be much more akin to a slow puncture. And, of course, we have already lost much international prestige and become something of a laughing-stock.
With his 80 seat majority Johnson claims democratic legitimacy for his policies, but, as so often , the facts when scrutinised don't bear this out. Even in this general election 52.7% of those who voted did so for parties (Labour, Liberal Democrat and SNP) who advocated either remaining in the EU or putting the matter to a People's Vote. Only 47.3% voted for parties (Conservative or Brexit) determined to leave.
One thing that desperately needs reforming is our electoral system so that such distortions are reduced if not entirely eliminated. We must hope that whoever is elected leader of the Labour Party is open to working with others, preferably on a whole range of issues, but at least on electoral reform.
In the meantime, we must grin and bear the pain of rampant Tory-ism. Easy for the comfortable such as myself. Terrifying for the homeless, the disabled, the struggling, those serving in the gig economy and those without adequate pensions.
* The title is a line from the Shropshire Carol which begins: This is the truth went from above.
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