RSS

Tag Archives: UK

Why referendums – like with Brexit, Kurdistan and Catalonia – are always doomed to fail

Brexit, Krexit and Crexit: Britain leaves the EU, Kurdistan declares independence from Iraq, Catalonia secedes from Spain – three massive political changes either underway or put on the political agenda by recent referendums. Three very different countries, but in all cases a conviction among a significant number of voters that they would be better off on their own outside any measure of control by a supranational authority like the EU or a nation state like Iraq or Spain.

Referendums have a lot to answer for: no wonder divided governments, demagogues and dictators have such a fondness for them. They have the appearance of popular democracy and give the impression that important decisions are finally being made by reducing complex questions into an over-simple “yes” or “no”. They make public opinion easy to manipulate because what voters are being asked to assent to is most often wishful thinking and what they are opposing is a rag-bag of unrelated grievances. There are a great many unhappy and dissatisfied people in the three countries which have voted in referendums in the last fifteen months, but no reason to suppose that their vote will make them happier or better off.

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/brexit-catalonia-referendum-kurdish-independence-always-doomed-to-fail-a7986836.html

Advertisements
 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 6, 2017 in Europe, European Union, Middle East

 

Tags: , , ,

EU may not protect Ireland when it comes to the Border

As the Brexit shadow-boxing goes on between London and Brussels, our Government has aligned itself firmly with the EU. For the moment,this is an entirely sensible strategy. No point cosying up to Theresa May’s government when it cannot decide what it wants itself.But just how far will our European partners go to fight against any return of Border controls on the island of Ireland? The Government welcomed the commitment in the EU document this week that everything possible must be done to avoid the creation of a “ hard Border” on the island. Politically this is important, but practically no one has defined what is meant by a “ hard” Border. By using this ambiguous phrase, Europe has given itself wriggle room.The European Commission added that solutions to the Border issue “must respect the proper functioning of the internal market and of the customs union as well as the integrity and effectiveness of the union legal order”.

Source: EU may not protect Ireland when it comes to the Border

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 4, 2017 in Europe, European Union

 

Tags: , , ,

The kingdom and the Republic: how the Irish border could derail Brexit

Crossing the border between Northern Ireland and the south, it’s sometimes difficult to tell when you leave the kingdom and enter the Republic. The traffic signs are different and there are subtle clues too in the changing colour of road markings and even the texture of the asphalt. Your mobile phone will slip in and out of networks for several miles. The feeling is of one country fading indistinguishably into another. All around, there are signs of the activities that thrive in liminal places; petrol stations and shops taking advantage of the differences in tax and exchange rates, skid marks on the roads from jurisdiction-escaping joyriders, a hand-painted advertisement offering illegal “Red Diesel for Sale” discarded in a ditch.Tied to a lamppost, near a defunct custom post, is a placard titled, “Respect the Remain Vote.” It continues, “Warning! If there is a hard border this road may be closed from March 2019.” It is signed, “Border Communities Against Brexit.” All along the 310-mile border between Northern Ireland and the Republic, such signs remind travellers and locals that the boundary will likely not remain invisible for long.

Source: The kingdom and the Republic: how the Irish border could derail Brexit | Prospect Magazine

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 4, 2017 in Europe, European Union

 

Tags: , ,

Mrs May’s falsehoods and fantasies are designed only to keep her party together

Remainers are too reasonable. One emollient speech from our beleaguered prime minister making concessions to reality that have been obviously necessary ever since the 2016 referendum is depicted as a breakthrough. A “cliff edge” has been averted, trills a leading business lobby group. This overture deserves a fair hearing: prepare for a new partnership with Europe, opines a leading pro-EU newspaper, its bite suddenly muzzled. And more of the same.Mrs May may have moved, but she remains firmly lashed to the Big Lies that underpin Brexit, propagated by the obsessed right of her party. There is no “opportunity”, as they endlessly repeat, in leaving the EU: the trade deals that allegedly will more than compensate for what Britain is losing do not exist. Brexit is a monumental, self-inflicted wound, delivered by the attempt to build an imagined Thatcherite utopia and “global Britain” that are undeliverable fantasies. Mrs May’s concessions to realism have yet to recognise this.

Source: Mrs May’s falsehoods and fantasies are designed only to keep her party together | Will Hutton | Opinion | The Guardian

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 3, 2017 in Europe

 

Tags:

Isis is stepping up its attention-grabbing atrocities to counterbalance its defeat in Iraq and Syria, where the vast majority of terror victims are

Isis is the most likely inspiration for the bomb explosion on the tube train at Parsons Green station. The attempted mass killing is similar to the attacks in Barcelona, Manchester and London earlier this year in that it aimed to murder the maximum number of civilians in the most public way possible.

Isis is stepping up its attention-grabbing atrocities to counterbalance its defeats on the battlefields in Iraq and Syria. It aims to show strength, instil fear and dominate the news agenda at a time when it has lost the savage nine-month-long struggle for Mosul in Iraq and is being defeated in the battle for its last big urban centres in Deir Ezzor and Raqqa in Syria. The caliphate that Isis declared after its capture of Mosul in 2014, once the size of Great Britain, is today reduced to a few embattled enclaves in the deserts of eastern Syria and western Iraq.

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/isis-parsons-green-bomb-iraq-syria-a7949336.html

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on September 18, 2017 in Europe, Middle East

 

Tags: , , ,

Allegations that three Qataris were ‘tortured’ by UAE officials will put the UK at the centre of an inter-Arab squabble

The Metropolitan Police in London will in a few hours’ time find themselves involved in the Gulf crisis when UK lawyers for three prominent Qataris submit their evidence of alleged torture and illegal imprisonment for which they blame up to 10 senior officials of the United Arab Emirates – including a cabinet minister and a high-ranking security adviser.

Human Rights lawyer Rodney Dixon QC will hand the Met details of alleged beatings, torture and illegal imprisonment of the three Qataris, one of them close to the head of Qatar’s own State Security Service, under the terms of the 1988 Criminal Justice Act – which allows British police to investigate and arrest foreign nationals entering the UK if they are suspected of war crimes, torture or hostage-taking anywhere in the world.

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/metropolitan-police-torture-illegal-imprisonment-united-arab-emirates-qatar-saudi-arabia-a7941506.html

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on September 12, 2017 in Europe, Middle East

 

Tags: , , ,

The NHS saved me. As a scientist, I must help to save it

Like many people, I have personal experience of the NHS. In my case, medical care, personal life and scientific life are all intertwined. I have received a large amount of high-quality NHS treatment and would not be here today if it were not for the service.The care I have received since being diagnosed with motor neurone disease as a student in 1962 has enabled me to live my life as I want, and to contribute to major advances in our understanding of the universe. In July I celebrated my 75th birthday with an international science conference in Cambridge. I still have a full-time job as director of research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology and, with two colleagues, am soon to publish another scientific paper on quantum black holes.

Source: The NHS saved me. As a scientist, I must help to save it | Stephen Hawking | Opinion | The Guardian

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 21, 2017 in Europe

 

Tags: ,

Britain and America feel more unstable than I’ve ever seen them before – how do we come back from this? | The Independent

[Britain and America feel more unstable than I’ve ever seen them before – how do we come back from this? | The Independent] is good,have a look at it! http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/britain-brexit-unstable-jeremy-corbyn-theresa-may-donald-trump-anti-establishment-a7877481.html

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 5, 2017 in Europe, North America

 

Tags: ,

Murder by numbers: the legacy of the Grenfell Tower fire

How do we measure human malice? Sometimes it’s all too easy. This summer, British cities are struggling through the aftermath of successive terrorist attacks and hate crimes. The Manchester bombing. The Westminster Bridge murders. The London Bridge atrocity. The attack on people outside the Finsbury Park Mosque in north London and on other mosques. The unidentified young men who are still at large in the capital after spraying acid in the faces of passers-by, mutilating them.

In Britain, we are commendably resilient about these things. Returning to London after some time away, I found my spirits lifted by an issue of the London Evening Standard magazine that celebrated the ordinary people who stepped in to help after these atrocities. The paramedics who worked through the night. The Romanian chef who offered shelter in his bakery. The football fan who took on the London Bridge terrorists, screaming, “Fuck you, I’m Millwall!” The student housing co-ordinator who rushed to organise board for the victims of the inferno at the Grenfell Tower and their families.

http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/uk/2017/07/murder-numbers-legacy-grenfell-tower-fire?amp

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on July 26, 2017 in Europe

 

Tags:

To the Government, Saudi Arabia is ‘The Kingdom Whose Name We Dare Not Speak At All’

More than 40,000 civilians were killed in the devastating battle to retake Mosul from Isis, according to intelligence reports revealed exclusively to The Independent – a death toll far higher than previous estimates.

Residents of the besieged city were killed by Iraqi ground forces attempting to force out militants, as well as by air strikes and Isis fighters, according to Kurdish intelligence services.

Hoshyar Zebari, until recently a senior minister in Baghdad, told The Independent that many bodies “are still buried under the rubble”. “The level of human suffering is immense,” he said.

“Kurdish intelligence believes that over 40,000 civilians have been killed as a result of massive firepower used against them, especially by the federal police, air strikes and Isis itself,” Mr Zebari added.

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/saudi-arabia-theresa-may-amber-rudd-a7850541.html?amp

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on July 26, 2017 in Europe, Middle East

 

Tags: ,