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.

Policing Policy

I heard this morning, on Radio 4, two broadcasts about the justice system that I regard as presenting conflicting views, although none of the journalists concerned seemed to spot the conflict.

Firstly, we were told that a senior police officer has suggested, and I paraphrase creatively, that we get back to basics and concentrate on prosecuting those criminals that commit acts of violence and theft – i.e. the crimes that actually make the man or woman in the street suffer directly.

Secondly, Ben Wallace, Minister of State for Security at the Home Office ( announced that they were now going to actively pursue “Organised Criminal Gangs” (that’s prosecution speak for more than one person!) by pursuing apparently ordinary business people who facilitate laundering of money for them, such as private schools, insurance agents and estate agents etcetera. There was no mention of bankers, of course, without whom nothing would be possible. All this despite the official OECD definition of money laundering which the UK authorities wish to be able to ignore when it suits them, as happened in my case.

The conflict is therefore between one view which says that the limited resources we have in the police force should be concentrated on crimes that affect the general public directly and the view of government – stimulated, no doubt by their interest in collecting taxes or reducing them for electoral reasons – that, because we are not prepared to put in place the resources to tackle genuinely organised international crime, we should pursue those “apparently law abiding citizens” that may facilitate money laundering. What is frightening in this approach is that, to convict, we are then going to rely on the notion of knowledge instead of what normal people would call evidence. In other words, the estate agent that does all his checks according to the accepted definition of money laundering is still at risk if the CPS thinks that a jury would convict them on the basis of what they must have or should have known. This is not a slippery slope argument because it is already happening and happened to me. So I am unsure as to whether what Ben Wallace was saying was new!

Paul Gambaccini wins CPS payout over unfounded sexual abuse …

Further proof, if it were needed, that the justice system is broken:

The BBC Radio 2 DJ Paul Gambaccini has won a payout from prosecutors over an unfounded case regarding historical sexual abuse allegations.

The American-born broadcaster was arrested in October 2013 over a claim he sexually assaulted two teenage boys. Gambaccini, 69, spent a year on bail before the case against him was dropped in what he labelled a “completely fictitious” affair.

Confidentiality clauses in the agreement mean the amount paid cannot be disclosed, sources said.

Gambaccini was arrested under Operation Yewtree, which was led by the Metropolitan police in the wake of the revelations about the paedophile Jimmy Savile.

He has described the incident as a celebrity “witch hunt”, and has previously called for rape suspects to be given anonymity until charged.

He said in 2015: “The man on the street is known to the people he has met in his life. The celebrity is known to the people he has met in his life, plus millions of others. So when you invite the public to accuse a celebrity, you have a pool of people who include not only possibly people who have been abused, but many people to whom a celebrity may have satisfied an emotional need throughout the years even without knowing it. And this is precisely what has happened.”

He said he “wasn’t surprised” to be accused, as he had previously spoken publicly about Savile’s crimes and was once pictured alongside him on a newspaper front page, creating an association in the public’s mind.

Gambaccini, who presents BBC Radio 2’s Pick of the Pops, had been a fixture on UK radio for decades before the allegations were made.

A CPS spokeswoman said: “We have reached an agreement without admission of liability”.

“No admission of liability”….astonishing! I wonder why they paid an “undisclosed sum”, then? Must be because they feel deep sympathy for Paul and wish to make a charitable donation?? I heard on Radio 4 this morning that the men in question were not even under age at the time. Who will be punished for this disgraceful act by a public body? Is this another “I was only doing my job” piece of garbage? Will they now clearly state that he is innocent or are they trying to merely imply that they have not found any evidence? In other words what impression are they going to leave with the general public by not admitting liability?