Democracy or Hypocrisy

Now that the Queen is buried, and the celebratory spectacle is over until the next time, perhaps we will be able to discuss the monarchy without suffering a flood of irrational abuse.

Can there be anything less democratic than a Head of State, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces and Head of the Established Church being selected at his birth 73 years ago, based solely upon the fact that he was the first son of his mother?

Can there be anything more hypocritical than people who support the above telling other countries how they should organise their political administrations and assuming the moral high ground based upon nothing more than their accidental nationality? Moreover, is there anything more counterproductive than trying to impose any form of democracy – whether by force or economic blackmail – on others, while refusing steadfastly to recognise the lacunes in one’s own native system?

People tell us that the existence of the English monarchy is not a problem because it has no power. If that were case, that would be an admission that a problem does exist in terms of the usual constitutional utility of a Head of State. Indeed, it is telling that the main political parties in the UK are totally opposed to changing the system because any change would make them more accountable.

We are also told that the monarchy is good for tourism. Well, the Palais de Versailles attracts more visitors than Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle et al, and the French got rid of the last vestiges of monarchy over a century ago. Walk past Buckingham Palace and you will see crowds of tourists, regardless of whether the King or Queen are there or not. The changing of the guard is remarkable, and the surroundings are a great place to visit and admire, regardless of the occupants of that building.

Another old chestnut is that it’s somehow good to exclude politicians from the role, because we can’t trust elected officials. Most dictators would agree. There can be no greater anti-democratic sentiment!

As far as the Armed Forces are concerned, it is worth noting that, during the so-called “Interregnum”, there was a period when the Armed Forces pledged allegiance to Parliament. Pledging allegiance to an elected Head of State, nominated for a fixed term until replaced by another elected representative of the people seems to be much more democratic.

As far as the Church is concerned, given the diversity of the UK population it seems high time to enact separation of Church and State and abandon all the trappings that go with it.

But let us return to the heart of the matter. We not only have an unelected Head of State but also an unelected House of Lords of which 92 are hereditary peers, 12 are bishops and 12 are Law Lords (happy to be corrected if my figures are wrong). The House of Lords is a bloated, costly and mysterious upper chamber which fails regularly to provide proper oversight. That does not mean it makes no contribution. My view is that it could be more efficient, less costly and more transparent if it were an elected body, and, most importantly, more legitimate.

The above changes would certainly require a written Constitution – something the UK has been quite good at proposing for other nations – to help its own citizens (or should I say subjects) easily understand what their rights are. We are told that there is a Constitution but it’s not “codified”. When confronted with this absurdity I usually ask the person to send me an uncodified version, all expenses paid. Again, a Constitution is a fundamental part of democracy – no ifs no buts – and the hypocrisy manifests itself in our insistence that other nations require that which our leaders believe we do not need!

As if that were not enough, the UK now lives with a Prime Minister – effectively Head of State and Chief Executive in one person – elected by a smaller percentage of the population than elected Xi Jing Ping whom we criticise incessantly for being less than democratic!

Finally, there are many fair minded, intelligent and experienced people who try to defend the indefensible on the basis of “tradition”. A cursory look at a dictionary shows that there is no moral or ethical basis for anything we call by that name. In other words, to try to justify perverse practices which diminish democracy based on “tradition”, as if the fact that a practice may have been in place for a long time confers upon it some legitimacy, opens a can of worms containing all sorts of abusive behaviour from the past. I leave readers to identify for themselves those traditions, extant or otherwise, which they find abhorrent. I can think of many.

There are certainly millions of people who will disagree with this very short summary and hope that some of them will do me the honour of commenting in a constructive, non-abusive and rational manner. Thank you in advance.

An Appeal to Conservative Remainers

The election in which you are about to participate is crucial for the country, the European Union and even for the global economy. Moreover, for the UK at least, it is not about the next five years. It’s about what our country will be like for the next generation and the rights, political stability, peace and prosperity that we have enjoyed since 1973 that they will not.

If your vote leads to a Conservative Party majority, the revised Withdrawal Agreement Bill will be presented to the House of Commons and, given the Prime Minister’s past record, he will try to avoid any scrutiny of it. That will lead to more divisiveness, legal challenges and could have a catastrophic effect on the Union. The PM likes to describe the previous “backstop” as “undemocratic”. What could be more undemocratic than imposing a protocol on Northern Ireland that possibly breaks the Good Friday Agreement, puts a border down the Irish Sea, makes NI businesses less competitive than their Irish or British counterparts but, as has been lately leaked, may not be able to be implemented by December 2020. The DUP does not support the PM’s WAB. So, if May’s WAB was “undemocratic” and PM’s one is supported by no political party in NI, which overwhelmingly voted to remain in the EU in 2016, how can the PM’s be democratic?

The PM has declared that he will not extend the transition period even though every expert available has said that, at best, only a bad deal could be negotiated within that time frame. That is exactly what happened with the “fantastic deal” that he put before the House of Commons which was merely the best that he could be negotiated in the time he allowed himself.  As before, he will try to blackmail Parliament into accepting it by the threat of “my deal or no deal”. The chances of this succeeding are slim. He will most likely be forced into extending and we will experience parliamentary strife throughout 2020. So, the whole idea of “Get Brexit Done” by January 2020 is a farce…and, deep down, you probably know it!

Indeed, the reason you are voting Conservative is through fear of a Corbyn premiership, not because of the attractions of the PM’s proposals. Yet the chance of Corbyn getting an absolute majority is so slim that it is hardly worth considering. A minority Labour government, especially given that Corbyn might not even stay on as leader of the Labour Party, could only enact legislation supported by Parliament. It would probably be limited to renegotiating a much more acceptable Brexit proposal, including at least a customs union (as Ken Clarke proposed) which would solve, in part, the Irish border issue. It would then be absorbed in putting through the necessary legislation for a second referendum. Because the deadline for extension of the transition period is in July 2020 the extension will have to be requested and granted in this scenario.

Once the result of the referendum is known we will be approaching the end of 2020. If the vote is in favour of Remain, the Conservative Party will have to reorganize itself to accept reality, which can only be of advantage to you. The ranks of the Brexit party, which will receive a new lease of life, might be swelled – if there is any honour in their ranks – by the ERG, and the Conservative Party can get back to being conservative, inclusive and genuinely “One Nation”.

Whatever the result of the vote, we will probably need a Government of National Unity to implement it, which would have the effect of uniting the vast majority of the population for the first time since 2016. A government almost solely based on the “Get Brexit Done” theme would be not only fostering a populist mythology, but would be a recipe for years of further Brexit discussions. At this time of crisis, as in previous crises, we need a GNU.

The conclusion is simple: by voting for the Conservative Party you would be, unfortunately, supporting policies which are not conservative, pragmatic or Unionist.

Broadband Nationalisation, Communism and the Kibbutz Movement

Broadband Nationalisation, Communism and the Kibbutz Movement


From the Telegraph, 15/11/2019: “Boris Johnson has dismissed Jeremy Corbyn’s plan to nationalise broadband as a “crazed Communist scheme” to make internet in the UK free, as he launched the Conservatives’ battle bus with a vision to get Brexit done.”

The Labour Party’s plan, as I understand it, is to nationalise OpenReach, BT’s broadband provider, and issue Government Bonds in compensation. Their view is that, with only 10% of the population supplied with fast broadband services, market forces in the UK have shown themselves unable to meet the demands of the total population. Moreover, treating broadband as an essential service and making it free of charge, would have beneficial effects for small businesses, schools and isolated communities. Market forces were, in general, at least diminished as a perceived tool of economic management by the Financial Crash of 2008.

An astonishing 62% of opinion polled were in favour of this Labour policy, although not necessarily the means of achieving it. That, in itself, is a comment on the value of Parliamentary Democracy versus Direct Democracy.


I spent most of 1968, at age 19, on a Kibbutz in Israel – the beautiful (in those days) Mishmarot, near Pardes Hannah. There were several types of Kibbutzim linked to political or religious movements. Mishmarot was linked to either Mapai the centrist socialist party or Mapam, the left-wing socialist party, I cannot remember which and I don’t seem to be able to find a reference for it. That is of no consequence, as I’m sure someone will send me the answer. There were also Communist and Religious Kibbutzim. By the time I left Israel and hitchhiked back overland after a two-day boat journey to Turkey, I was totally convinced of the benefits, for me, of Collectivism. The accurate distinctions between words like Communism, Collectivism and Socialism, if there are any, may be important but are not necessary to understand for the purposes of this article.

On arrival at the Kibbutz, volunteers like me had to give up all our possessions. We received little actual money, just vouchers for the shop which contained a very limited range of goodies such as cigarettes, chocolate and banana wine. After all, we were given clothes and as much food as we needed and all our basic needs were provided free of charge. This was, by the way, my first experience of vegetarianism because any meat we had was mostly given to those who had suffered in the concentration camps and remained damaged by the experience. They lived separate from us to a large extent and did not work as a rule so my first-hand knowledge of their circumstances is limited. Children left home and lived in the school before their 4th birthday, if I remember well. I spent a lot of time with the Kibbutz Manager and his wife in their tiny, one-bedroomed bungalow, discussing politics, philosophy and Israel and occasionally watching their television. The only perks the Manager had for his responsibilities were the use of the Kibbutz car, a telephone, liaising with the Kibbutz Movement, mixing with the outside world frequently and being treated with admiration. We also had professionals, such as doctors, living with us but working in the town, yet giving their salaries to the Kibbutz. Life was extremely pleasant, we all felt secure, despite the on-going threat of war, the kids were well-behaved, people treated others with respect and we led a very healthy lifestyle. Some of the Kibbutzniks at Mishmarot self-identified as Communists, some Socialists, some religious, a few just didn’t care about those things too much.

To describe that life, or any life in a Kibbutz, as Communism is patently foolish, to me. The Kibbutz is not a macro-political system. It’s just a community of a few hundred people – a couple of thousand maximum – sharing their assets and liabilities, profits and losses, fears, tears and joys. The system functioned because were bound together, to a greater or lesser extent, by ‘Zionism’ which, despite various modern interpretations of that word, only really meant a belief that the “Jews” should have a homeland. It is important to mention that although Jewish emigration to Israel accelerated after the WWII, the persecution of the Jews did not start with the ‘holocaust’ in eastern and central Europe nor with the ‘pogroms’ in the Russian Empire. Some say it started with the rise of Christianity (see, for example, the excellent book, by James Carroll – Constantine’s Sword). I won’t get into the arguments about Zionism here, except to repeat that words do matter. What most anti-Zionists actually object to is not Zionism as a belief but Zionist expansionism, Zionist exclusivity and Zionist extremism. These are things that my fellow Kibbutzniks talked about a lot and, for the most part, rejected. Moreover, if we look at the origins of Zionism, we should also remember that, for many, Zion could be anywhere and could even be a state of mind for some. It is worth also mentioning in passing that our harvest could only be completed with the aid of the Arab community living in a neighbouring village, equipped with their wonderful, gleaming, modern tractors. There was no local conflict. In general, in those days, the Kibbutz system was seen as the backbone of Israel in terms of its economy, defence and its political thinking. That has all changed for the worse, in my opinion, as the population has more than tripled, religious extremism developed and the original idealism been lost or diluted.

But, to get back to the title, by giving this little insight into my personal experience, perhaps people will understand why, when a professional UK politician describes the nationalisation of the broadband network as Communism, I am forced to either laugh or cry. Laugh because we have a Prime Minister who is just talking rubbish by any standards when the project is examined. Cry, because this sort of discourse by what has become our ruling clique should make us all sad. Let me list how some things might happen under Communist rule:

  1. It would not just be the broadband network that would be taken over it would be the whole of the telecommunications infrastructure and probably the majority of large companies – the “Means of Production”.
  2. Existing shareholders would not be compensated by government bonds of certain value and rate of return but could be the subject of confiscation or given worthless paper.
  3. There would be fear for the continuance of democratic principles. Ironic indeed, given that the current ruling clique has done its utmost to undermine parliamentary democracy.
  4. There would have to be a much broader organisation and control by a Communist Party (however they wish to name it) and the Trades Union movement. This would be or become an alternative power base replacing, or in competition with, parliament and the organs of the state.
  5. There could well be forced ‘Collectivisation’ not just of the broader agricultural sector. I put the word in inverted commas because, in my sense, Collectivisation can only succeed if it is voluntary.

I could go on, if necessary. But, to finish this rather rambling piece and get back again to the subject, at election time we have the right to expect that our political class will use words carefully so as not to inflame, exacerbate or identify divisions. Certainly, they should be able to distinguish their policies from those of their opponents, but using words incorrectly deliberately obscures the facts behind policies.

To call Nationalisation of the Broadband Network a “crazed Communist scheme” is clearly an insult to Communist sympathizers and their entourages but, above all, to the people around the world who have suffered under Communist rule. I am sad to say that that description is typical of the political discourse of the times in this country and others.

The 2019 General Election

The ultimate collective hubris. Having agreed that to go to the electorate without a Brexit deal having passed would be political suicide, they are now going to do exactly that. They feel that the charisma of King Boris will win over the people, even though his opponents will define him, based on past performance, as the least suitable person to be holding the reins of power. Given that he has always favoured that power over policy, it is a reasonable assumption that he does not really care whether Brexit happens or not. That is the dazzling light at the end of this gloomy tunnel. The assumption that he will get a working majority is reckless, but totally in character. Like a child, if he cannot get his own way, he will not want to play the game. It could lead to parliament finally accepting the reality that there is no such thing as a “great Brexit deal”, a further referendum and a return to sanity. Where there is hope there is life!

Church Times

Not a lot to say about this except that the title is a silly play on words of sorts. I spend a lot of time walking and some of it through churchyards. An act that oft times makes me react.

Church Times

The churches that chime the times that change

Cherished those who were once called wise

And, in defining the hour within earshot range

Gave succour to those who searched the skies

For signs of sun or moon or star

To fix an object near or far

Later, trains travelled on rusty rails

Respecting the time from whence they departed

Yet delivered their cargo to ships with sails

Arriving, yet, before loading had started

Tides were sailors’ own favoured clocks

Even when tracks brought goods to docks

And still there are those who rely on the moon

To tell them when and what to pray

They will not start a minute too soon

As only the ordained dare define the day

Descending to the depths of ancient ritual

To find the source of the sacred and spiritual

O! bless the present and priestly enlightened

And those of the past who gave preference to science

Over manipulating the masses, those easily frightened

Or treating as fact what was poetic licence

Reading books by oil lamp in darkened room

Rejecting the threats of the mongers of doom

Now we can be armed on wrists with watches

Some connected to satellites made by man

No longer counting on wood-scraped notches

Pursuing technology’s permanent plan

To enhance our lives – for better or worse

Filling the public or private purse

As we walk by churchyard and hear that sound

We should wonder what is the current meaning

Of the noise of the bells that the graves surround

New stones upright and old ones leaning

To some of us it may still seem so strange

That churches chime the times that change

King Boris and the DUP

So we now see that the importance of maintaining the “my deal or no-deal” myth is to ensure that King Boris has the support of recalcitrant MPs when he is finally forced to pull the rug from under the DUP. These are typical tactics of a suicide bomber or blackmailer with respect to both the EU and parliament – “accede to my demands or I will blow us all up”. And when he talks of “working hard to get a deal”, he doesn’t mean discussing with the EU, he means talking to the DUP who he intends to abandon anyway.  We see the end justifying the means in his every move, or at least that is his avowed pretence. If one accepts the validity of the 2016 referendum and that it still reflects the will of the “people”, there can be no harm in asking the “people” to validate this new proposal. Moreover, he could get parliamentary approval for a deal – or make those opposing look very foolish – if he were to offer to put the deal to a confirmatory referendum. He could even fix the date of a general election for some time November. But, no! His gamble, entirely at our expense, is that confrontation, as his mate Trump has undoubtedly suggested, will ultimately allow him to be seen as a hero to a minority of the electorate, but a big enough minority to enable him to remain in power.

The Joys of Extradition – A Tale of Two Jurisdictions

So, after a 10 month long, expensive and very stressful legal battle with the extradition system, I was finally flown to France on July 8, 2019. Readers will understand, I hope, that I cannot go into the legal issues surrounding the case, but suffice to say that the defence maintained that the accusations had already been tried in the UK, that the UK courts had, on four separate occasions, decided that the second of the two accusations was not valid on the grounds of “double jeopardy”, and the French had accepted that I would not be detained in France pending trial should that come to pass.

My French legal team had asked the Judge (Juge d’Instruction) to confirm that I would not be charged with the second offence nor held in detention, in which case I would go to France of my own accord and at my own expense to avoid the pain, on both sides, of an actual extradition. The Judge refused for reasons that have not been explained. One might assume that it could have been purely through laziness, a spirit of vengeance or the idea that going through the process would make me more amenable to agreeing to something with which I disagreed. We may never know the workings of his mind.

In any case, around 5 July I received a telephone call from Suffolk Police about the organisation of the extradition. Why Suffolk when I live in Surrey? – nobody knew or cared sufficiently to find out. I suspect that it was simply an error in the original EAW (European Arrest Warrant). Whatever the logic might have been, their mission was now to get me to Heathrow for 10:00 on the Monday where I would be handed over to the French authorities. These plain clothed officers were extremely pleasant, transparent, knowledgeable and helpful. We agreed that there was no need for dramatic scenes at my house and that we would meet at the local railway station at 07:30. That required them to stay in a nearby four-star hotel the night before.

During the weekend I had an unexpected visit from the Surrey police – uniformed and in a marked car – which completely demolished the plan to keep everything discreet. They delivered a letter for me to sign, acknowledging that I was being extradited on the Monday. I explained that everything had already been organised. They were absolutely in the dark but pretended to be in control of the situation. This intervention was entirely unnecessary and could have been avoided if communications between the police forces had been functioning.

So, I was at the station as planned at 07:30 even though officers had warned me by text that they would be a little late. In any case, we managed to arrive at Heathrow well-ahead of schedule after an interesting conversation in the vehicle and stopped for refreshments at a McDonald’s near the airport. Being a vegan there was little for me to eat so I decided not to eat, expecting something to be available at lunchtime– more of that later.

We then progressed through a zone controlled by the Metropolitan Police and were driven in one of their vans to a door that led to the check-in area. At some point in this process the electronic bracelet (tag as it is commonly referred to) was removed from my left leg. We were met there by the reception party of three Frenchmen, two of them extremely burly. I found out later that they were, in fact, from the Administration Pénitentiaire (Prison Service) and had left their homes in Paris at 03:30 for this mission. They were firm, fair and friendly and respected the rules scrupulously. After a fairly formal greeting they proceeded to take from me anything they considered of value such as watch, telephone, money and bank cards in order to “keep them safe”. The leader of the team told me that, because I was over 70 years old, I could not be handcuffed. We then advanced at lightning speed through the formalities before the other passengers were even lined up and, after I went through an unusually thorough – thorough for an airport – but to-be-expected search, we were presented to the captain at the door of the plane. I assumed this was partly out of courtesy but also because he would have the right to refuse to accept me. We occupied the last five seats in the cabin with me right in the corner, presumably to ensure that my presence aboard would not trouble other passengers. The flight was with Air France for reasons of jurisdiction – Air France being the flag carrier; hence we were not able to use Gatwick which would have been so much easier. The staff were all very pleasant and the flight went off without incident. The “meal” served on board was half of half a sandwich, however, which was only enough to keep me going through the flight. By the time we landed at Roissy, Charles de Gaulle, I was hungry.

On arrival I was whisked away, without any formalities, through normally inaccessible doors and then driven by an Administration Pénitentiaire vehicle to a building housing the PAF (Police Aux Frontières). Inside I was effectively arrested, fingerprinted (including palms of both hands), photographed (including profile and head at 45°). Surprisingly, for a procedure much more thorough that in the UK, no DNA sample was taken. The very kind lady who controlled the process explained that there was no hurry to get to the Tribunal because the Judge was running late – I only understood the significance of that remark later. After more waiting in drab corridors which could have been anywhere in the UK administration except, perhaps, for the smell of cigarettes coming from outside areas, I was whisked away again with my three escorts and driver, sirens blaring all the way to the Tribunal de Paris – this was now becoming a French experience.

The Tribunal is housed in a wonderful, huge, skyscraper, just inside the Périphérique at the Porte de Clichy. It was built, or rather completed, about two years ago, and now regroups almost all of the 25 courts that existed in Paris – an example of central planning at it most efficient – one might imagine the furore if London were to do the same yet the efficiency and economic sense of such a change would be obvious. Of course, I didn’t see much, if anything, of the architecture, inside or out, because I was driven underneath into the 3000 square metre secure zone. Once inside the terrible reality of my situation became apparent. I was stripped of everything including laces, and was not allowed access to my bag, wherein I had stashed some nutrition bars, just in case. It is difficult to describe the scene in the bowels of the Tribunal: the dregs of Parisian society, the smells of the unwashed, police of all different types. I had shaken hands with my escorts, said farewell hoping never to see them again, of course, and was now in a different world not knowing what direction I was facing, what the time was, what was going to happen and how long I was going to be held.

I was moved fairly rapidly out of a holding cell along corridors worthy of a novel by Kafka and by strange lift systems divided in two parts – the part at the back being a sort of cage for the accused. I was handcuffed briefly even though I had protested that I was over seventy and had two metal bars in my left arm and a left wrist badly deformed after a succession of cycling accidents. The officer laughed in a sympathetic manner and explained that everything was at his discretion. During a walk along one of the seemingly interminable corridors I fiddled with the handcuffs and accidentally tightened them. I pleaded with the officer for help and instead of loosening them he just removed them. It is striking how, wherever in the world and whatever the dramatic circumstances, one can always find acts of kindness in humanity.

I was now placed in a proper cell, somewhere above the induction and holding area, which consisted of a concrete bed topped with a thin, narrow foam mattress and an open stainless-steel toilet – the sort that one would have seen in Parisian cafés in the last century but relatively new, of course. The advantage of this style of toilet is that there is nothing to break or steal or use as a weapon. There was also a drinking water facility that was over-excitable and drenched me every time I tried to fill my plastic cup. That was it: nothing to read, look at or eat all in the name of safety. I confess that I started, now, to have minor panic attacks augmented by the fact that I was hungry. I rang the emergency buzzer and explained to an officer that I had not eaten for hours and that I had some nutrition bars in my bag. He explained that I could have access to nothing and that food is served at lunchtime only, on the assumption that people arriving in court are from police custody or prison where they would have had breakfast. I mentioned that I had expected my lawyer to be there and was told to be patient. The door, which was all steel and Perspex was bolted shut for what, then, seemed like hours. I could not sleep, even though I was already exhausted. I busied myself by trying to flush away the smell of urine using a combination of the toilet flush and the overflowing water fountain.

Some immeasurable time later the door unlocked and I was told that I was being moved further up the building so that I could meet with my lawyer. I was placed in a cell with nothing but a fixed table and benches and with a male and a female officer outside. My lawyer came, explained that he had had his first sight of my file which was enormous, but had needed the time to read some of it before seeing me. He confirmed that the Judge was running late – by a number of hours – and that we would be meeting with him as soon as possible. I later realised that this was because of a very high-profile case (Bernard TAPIE et al) that coincided with my very lack-lustre affair. He reassured me that I would be leaving that evening, said he would try to get me something to eat from a machine and would then have to go back to wait on another floor. When he left and explained to the guards what he was doing they invited me, in another act of humanity, to sit with them. My lawyer came back with a cereal bar which I devoured in about thirty seconds. How good it tasted! After my lawyer had left to find out what was happening, I sat chatting with my guards about my case and specifically about the wafer-thin distance between guilt and innocence and the failings of the jury system. I learnt a lot about the French system and the difference between it and the UK one.

Eventually, hours later than was planned, I was ushered into the judge’s office with the two officers that now knew me at my side but slightly behind me – presumably to ensure I did not attack the judge or his assistant or even my lawyer. After a short, bad-tempered discussion, we were ushered out again while the Judge prepared the indictment documents and those required for my release on bail. The bad temper was caused by the fact that he had slipped back onto the indictment notice a charge which I considered to have been already discharged by the UK courts. Once recalled into his office, I signed some papers and left with my guards and lawyer who warned me that it might take some time for me to actually get released out of the building. We said goodbye and planned for me to meet at his offices the following morning.

The two officers then took me back down to the bowels of the building where the dregs of society were now even more numerous and presented me to the office with my release form. I waited for possibly an hour before my belongings were restored to me and another twenty minutes before an officer came to escort three of us out of the building through numerous corridors and security checks. My fellow prisoners being released remarked commented to our guard on what an unlikely criminal I was and laughed at themselves for having presumed that I was an employee of the French justice system.

I found myself outside in a sort of alleyway completely disoriented and wondering why this had all been necessary. The waste of resources was flagrant. Given constraints on public spending on both sides of the channel, what work did not get done while all these people were looking after me unnecessarily?

Boris Johnson…PM?

So, we really will have achieved the sort of sovereignty that certain voters said they sought! The man who promised us our “cake and eat it” has decided to exclude anyone from his cabinet who has not demonstrated their desire to ignore the majority of the electorate who did not vote for a no-deal Brexit and has already started to blame the EU for not allowing the UK to leave under the terms he promised. He presumably hopes that, by blaming the EU for the stupidity of his own ambition, he will win back Brexit Party supporters to the Conservative fold, thus justifying his decision to force a general election when the shit hits the fan.  For his own career, this is a real “shot to nothing” in snooker parlance. He will have succeeded in becoming PM and leading the Conservative Party and, if we end up remaining in the EU, he can continue moaning about plastic kippers from tax havens for the next 45 years. It’s about as unpatriotic as one can imagine. The expression that he applied to business can now be applied to the majority of the population plus those who will have suffered from the effects of his narcissism without realising it!

Carlos Ghosn Update?

The failure in this article to mention his conditions of bail, previous periods of seemingly unjustified imprisonment and that he is barred from talking to his wife is worrying. The Financial Times seems to be shying away from the horrors of the Japanese judicial system as demonstrated by this case. Not covering these issues will only cause some long-term FT readers like myself to wonder about the pressures being placed on editorial staff but will also fuel concerns about the political nature of this investigation. The facts are not only yet to be judged but are evidently still being researched. Nevertheless, some commentators below seem to have had advance warning of the court’s guilty verdict. Maybe they would also care to inform us of what sentence he will be given. Could we have some coverage of the interview with Mrs Ghosn, please, just to give a little clarity?

Two-round Voting System

Given, the chaos that we have seen in the UK during then Brexit crisis, there are good reasons to look at different voting methods around the world. Having experienced the system used in presidential and some national elections in France, which also is used at times in some other countries, it may be useful to suggest how that might be applied in the UK and what would be the advantages and disadvantages. In particular, it is worth looking at the system of two rounds.

There are two types of system.  The first is where the first round is used to eliminate all but the two best scores, unless one gains over 50% in the first round. Then two weeks later there is a run-off between the two candidates. The second method is where a bar is fixed – usually 12.5% in the French system – below which any candidate is eliminated. Let us look at et the first system and examine the obvious advantages.:

  1. We are sure that anyone elected is elected by a majority of voters i.e. 50% + 1vote
  2. The two round system allows the electorate to express its preferred choice in the first round and vote definitively in the second
  3. The period of reflection of 2 weeks in the French case allows for alliances to be formed and policies to be refined or changed and for electors to consider and discuss their choices.

There is only one obvious disadvantage: the system requires electors to vote twice.

If we now apply the system to the recent Peterborough byelection, on the assumption that people would have voted the same way in the first round, we see that the final result might have been very different. As of today, under the 50% + 1 system everyone would have been eliminated except Labour and the Brexit party. Under the 12.5% barrier system the second there would be a three-way run-off between the Brexit Party, Labour and the Conservatives, the LibDems missing out by 81 votes.

So, one can try to speculate on how people would have voted if the choice was between Labour and Brexit, in the first system, or between these two and the Conservatives in the second system. What we see in France, however, is that the second-round turnout can also change dramatically. So, for example, faced with the prospect of voters trying to stop Labour winning, we might see the turnout, which was under 50% increase to 75%! Similarly, in order to ensure that the Brexit Party did not win we might see reluctant voters coming out, holding their noses and voting for Labour. What is important is also how the LibDems would advise their voters to vote after their elimination. I would suggest that Vince Cable would encourage them to vote Labour in the second round so as to rule out a hard Brexit. Now, if you reflect upon this, it is much more likely that the extremists would be eliminated.

If you coupled this system with voting on Sunday rather than Thursday, the two-round system could well involve a larger proportion of the population in the voting process.

Candidate Description (if any) Number of votes
BRISTOW Paul The Conservative Party 7243
FORBES Lisa Labour Party 10484
GOLDSPINK English Democrats 153
GREENE Mike The Brexit Party 9801
HOPE Howling The Official Monster Raving 112
KIRK Pierre Ed UK European Union Party 25
MOORE Andrew   101
O` FLYNN Patri SDP Fighting for Brexit 135
RODGERS Dick Common Good: Remain 60
ROGERS Tom Christian Peoples Alliance 162
SELLICK Beki Liberal Democrats 4159
SMITH Bobby   5
WARD Peter Mark Renew 45
WELLS Joseph Green Party 1035
WHITBY John UK Independence Party 400
Total 33920
12,50% 4240