How to Respond to the Atrocity in Manchester? Keep Calm AND Face Up to Reality!

By MARCUS STEAD

TERROR attacks in major European cities have become semi-normalised. What would have shocked us 20 years ago now causes a much briefer pause to the routines of day-to-day life.

A number of politicians have today made comparisons between Monday night’s suicide bomb at the Manchester Arena to the IRA bomb which devastated the city centre in 1996.

This was a crass comparison. However despicable and morally diseased the IRA were, they did at least issue a phone warning prior to the Manchester bomb, which caused £700 million worth of damage to the city centre. There were no fatalities, but more than 200 people were injured.

Monday night’s suicide bomber, Salman Abedi, issued no warning. He wasn’t motivated by a desire to cause the sort of economic disruption the 1996 bomb brought. He sought to kill people in the name of Islam, many of them young, all of them innocent. At the time of writing, 22 are dead, 59 are injured, and many more will be suffering the psychological effects of Abedi’s actions.

A certain routine kicks in after each atrocity. Politicians blurt out platitudes about how the terrorists ‘will not be allowed to destroy our way of life’ and how ‘we will not be defeated’. Even Andy Burnham, the newly-elected Mayor of Manchester, dared to say, “Today it will be business as usual as far as possible in our great city” less than 12 hours after the atrocity.

The Facebook emojis, the cutesy hashtags on Twitter, the candle lit vigils and hastily-arranged memorial services come next, and within days, life returns to normal. Make no mistake, by the start of next week, the insipid, vacuous general election campaign will have resumed in full swing. And that is exactly how our political classes want it, because any deeper analysis would force us to look into how decisions they have taken over the last few decades have contributed to these atrocities. More on that later.

When deciding how to proceed from here, it is important not to allow our emotions to affect our decisions. Yes, we are all feeling upset and angry at the moment. We’re all too acutely aware that on another day, in another place, any one of us could have been caught up in this. Instead of hysterical calls for us to shut down mosques or bomb men in caves in faraway lands, it is best to take stock of what we actually know about this, and similar attacks in other European cities.

The perpetrator of the Nice attack in July 2016, Mohamed Salmene Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, never went near a mosque. He was a drunk and a drug user with a long history of mental health problems, who was radicalised by watching online content.

The Berlin Christmas Market attack, later that same year, was carried out by Anis Amari, a Tunisian failed asylum seeker and a drug abuser, who was radicalised in Italian jails. Amari was a thief, an arsonist and a bar brawler.

The Westminster attacker of March 2017 had been in prison three times, including one conviction for stabbing a man in the face, in addition to a string of other criminal convictions for lesser offences. It appears he was radicalised in jail, or by watching material on the internet.

Some who knew him say he was a cannabis user (which in itself can lead to permanent mental health problems, regardless of propaganda which states otherwise) and a bodybuilder, which means he may have been taking steroids – powerful, mind-altering drugs that were used by mass murderers Anders Breivik, Raoul Moat and Omar Mateen.

A pattern is emerging here, is it not?

There are two logical conclusions we can reach from this:

  1. We know there are serious problems in prisons of Muslim radicalisation, Muslim gangs, and prisoners being forced to convert to Islam in return for a tolerable life in prison. It’s clear that in some prisons, the wardens and others in authority have lost control. Muslims in prison need to be detained separately from other prisoners, and measures need to be taken to improve prison discipline in general.
  1. The influence of the internet on some people, which is worthy of a more detailed explanation.

My generation, and generations before me, grew up in an era of regulated television. Bad language was not tolerated before the 9pm watershed, and even after it, certain words had to be used sparingly, or not at all.

Nudity was not acceptable before the watershed, and even after it, broadcasters had to exercise caution and restraint. The same applied to violence.

There were rules, at all times of the day and night, to prevent extremist views or the incitement of violence from being aired.

By comparison, the internet is the Wild West. Anybody with even a basic understanding of computers can access all kinds of pornography, including child pornography, scenes of extreme violence, both acted out and real, foul language, and political and cultural extremism. Laws to prevent some of these things may, in theory, exist, but the global and unregulated nature of the internet makes such laws very difficult to enforce.

We all need to exercise a certain amount of judgement and restraint when it comes to the entertainment we consume. We have all heard the saying, ‘you are what you eat’. It means that if you eat the wrong foods, you will become overweight and ill, and your wellbeing will suffer.

That same principle applies to entertainment. There is nothing wrong with being entertained, but we have a duty to ourselves to ensure that we are watching something wholesome. Scenes which would have appeared shocking just 20 years ago now pass without controversy. We have become desensitised to bad language, violence and aggression. The moral compass and behavioural standards of individuals and society as a whole has been lowered because of what passes for ‘entertainment’ in 2017.

Similarly, drug users, the mentally unstable and the easily manipulated are accessing Islamic extremist literature and videos on the internet that would rightly never be shown on TV or be available in a book in any shop or library. There are no restrictions on what they can access, no taste and decency barriers on what they see.

The radicalising is not for the most part being done in mosques or Islamic community centres, but in prison cells and in front of computer screens. This makes it a far more difficult problem to combat.

This does not mean that ordinary Muslims do not bear some responsibility for the situation the UK, and indeed all of Europe now finds itself in.

Part of the ‘routine’ of terrorist attacks in Europe is that about three days afterwards, the Muslim ‘good news’ story emerges. After several days of being told that Islam has nothing to do with the attack, we are told that Muslims are participating in some generous ‘reaching out’ gesture to the wider community.

In reality, almost all of these efforts are carried out by Ahmadiyya Muslims, a tiny sect who have faced many decades of persecution from other Muslim groups, many of whom do not consider them to be Muslims at all.

If you see Muslims selling poppies in early November, they are almost certainly Ahmadiyya. Within days of the Berlin attack, groups of Muslims were seen attending church in Germany. The mainstream media reported that ‘Muslims’ were doing this. In fact, they were Ahmadiyya. The Independent newspaper reported that: “Muslims handing out t-shirts reading “love for all, hate for none” at a vigil in Berlin have said they will not allow the city to become more divided following Monday’s attack on a Christmas market.”

Now for the reality check: ‘Love for all, hate for none’ is an Ahmadiyya campaign. A solidarity protest around the same period was populated by Muslim men wearing T-shirts saying ‘Muslime für Frieden’ (‘Muslims for peace’), which, funnily enough, is an Ahmadiyya slogan. If you look at the back of the t-shirts in question they direct you to an Ahmadiyya website.

In July 2016, Fr Jacques Hamal, an 85-year-old priest in Normandy was brutally murdered while celebrating Mass by terrorists claiming to be from Islamic State.

A few days later, the ‘Muslim good news’ story arrived, as usual, and this time it was that Muslims had been attending Mass across France and Italy in solidarity with Christians. Unsurprisingly, closer examination reveals that in most cases the Muslim attendees were from the Ahmadiyya sect. The BBC, the Guardian and the Independent all left that important fact out of their reports for some reason.

The day after the Westminster terror attack in March 2017, Muslim women held hands in a protest on Westminster Bridge condemning the culprit, Khalid Masood. Once again, yes, you’ve guessed it, they were Ahmadiyya Muslims.

The journalist Sunny Hundal took issue with me pointing this fact out on Twitter and encouraged me to read this article from the Independent which stated that London Muslims (non-Ahmadiyya) raised £17,000 in 24 hours for victims of the Westminster terror attacks and their families. Well, there are at least 800,000 Muslims living in London, so you do the maths.

There is a serious problem brewing in UK one which we can no longer afford to ignore. The Muslim population has grown enormously in a very short space of time. The 1961 census put the figure at 50,000.  By 1991, that number had grown to 950,000. Ten years later, it stood at 1,600,000, and in 2011 it was 2,706,000. A 2014 estimate pushes the figure above three million for the first time.

Muslims are, on average, younger than the rest of the population and have more children. You do not need to be a mathematical genius to work out what this means. Add to the fact that net migration to the UK stands at 273,000 per year, a significant number of whom are Muslims, and it’s clear what the direction of travel is.

To those outside the UK, we have a sort of unofficial apartheid in this country. Muslims and non-Muslims use the same public transport and walk the same town centre streets, but they barely mix at all for the rest of the time.

There are all sorts of reasons for this, which are mainly to do with cultural attitudes. Muslims are not permitted to drink alcohol, so you cannot expect to get to know them over a pint, or invite them to the pub quiz team. Men and women mixing socially is frowned upon by many Muslims.

Here’s something that a surprising number of non-Muslims don’t know: A significant number of Muslims believe all music is haram (forbidden), many more still will only listen to music based on Islamic prayer. You are highly unlikely to find many Muslims who have much interest in secular music.

So we cannot bond over alcohol, or music, and Muslims are told that dogs are unclean, so don’t expect to find many while out in the local park walking yours. There is little common ground between them and us culturally and socially. That is the uncomfortable truth.

But it goes deeper than that. In every major city, and in many smaller towns, unofficial Sharia courts operate for the local Muslim community. Under Sharia law, the evidence of a woman is worth half that of a man, even if it is blatantly obvious she is telling the truth.

Many people will feel uncomfortable with Muslims having a separate set of laws and standards to the rest of us on matters such as divorce and domestic violence, but that is the reality. Participation in Sharia courts is voluntary, in theory at least, but in reality, it would take a very brave Muslim woman to defy them or refuse to participate.

Let me be clear, I am not saying that all Muslims are bad, or that everything about Islam is bad. I admire certain aspects of Islam – its belief in a work ethic (sitting around claiming benefits is frowned upon), its commitment to family, the value it puts on education, the discipline the faith requires, such as fasting during Ramadan, and the way it instructs its followers to refrain from alcohol, drugs and gambling.

On the other hand, there are aspects of the Islamic faith that give me serious cause for concern. I reject its claim to be the one true faith, and dislike the way non-Muslims are treated in many Muslim majority countries. I believe the Islamic faith has a very nasty strain of anti-Semitism running through it. Parts of the Qur’an, particularly towards the end, give me cause for concern, particularly since Muslims are instructed to follow the example of the Prophet Mohammed. I also do not believe that being a Muslim should be a valid excuse for barbaric Halal slaughter in our country.

I find it concerning that more than half of British Muslims (52%) surveyed last year believe that homosexuality should be illegal, and that 39% believe that wives should always obey their husbands.

Most concerning of all is that the survey found that more than 100,000 British Muslims sympathise with suicide bombers and only one in three (34%) would contact the police if they believed that somebody close to them had become involved with jihadists.

Look, let’s stop pretending. These appalling attitudes and opinions are not confined to a ‘tiny minority’ of Muslims living in Britain. Such views are held by a sizeable minority, however uncomfortable that makes us feel. And the facts back it up.

I live in Cardiff, where in December 2013, two men, Kristen Brekke and Aseel Muthana, made a video in a park near a supermarket where they pretended to be ISIS fighters. Brekke was later jailed for helping Muthana join ISIS in Syria, where his elder brother Nasser was already fighting.

Nasser and Reyaad Khan made a 13-minute ISIS video calling on other British Muslims to join the fighting in Syria and Iraq. Both attended St David’s Catholic College in Cardiff, where I also studied in the early 2000s.

In 2014, ISIS openly held a recruitment drive at a public barbecue in a popular beauty spot a few miles outside Cardiff. Within a few months, the population at large new what ISIS was.

Am I seriously being asked to believe that none of Cardiff’s 30,000 Muslims could have alerted the authorities in advance of either of these incidents?

Or what about the Al Manar Mosque they attended in the Cathays area of the city, where two years later Ali Hammuda was secretly filmed telling male worshippers that they can have women as slaves? He later claimed these comments to impressionable young men had been taken ‘out of context’, yet to my knowledge, he is still preaching at the mosque. Why is this considered in any way acceptable?

Similarly, in Rotherham, at least 1,400 girls were groomed and abused by a Muslim sex ring from the late 1980s until the 2010s, yet in that large town with its sizeable Muslim population, there was a wall of silence. This pattern repeated itself in Oxford and Oldham on a smaller scale.

The vast majority of Muslims do not abuse children, and I am quite prepared to believe that a majority did not know that children were being abused in these towns. I am also prepared to believe that a large number of Cardiff’s Muslims were unaware of the ISIS connections among their own community.

Yet British Muslims can be well-organised, loud and vocal when it suits them to be. In 2006, around 3,500 Muslims took the time and trouble to protest outside the Danish Embassy in London after a little-read newspaper in that country published cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed.

In 2015, following the publication of a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed in the tacky, little-read French magazine, Charlie Hebdo, more than 100,000 British Muslims signed a petition delivered to Downing St in which they called for ‘global civility’ and stated that the production of cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad are “an affront to the norms of civilised society”. Many thousands marched in a London protest on the matter.

Is it really too much to ask of them to conjure up that same level of enthusiasm and alert the authorities of extremists, potential terrorists and child abusers living among their communities?

I realise these are uncomfortable truths for the politically correct classes who live in a sort of multicultural dreamland bubble. I understand that speaking out may jeopardise their promotion prospects, particularly if they work in the public sector, and they risk being excluded from the fashionable dinner party circuits in which they mix.

But we have now reached the stage where turning a blind eye to reality has resulted in people paying with their lives. And they don’t come much more innocent than the people in the Manchester Arena last Monday night.

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Why Theresa May Called a Snap Election

By MARCUS STEAD

THERE IS something very odd about the circumstances surrounding this general election. Actually, I think Theresa May was being truthful when she said upon becoming Prime Minister that she would not call a general election before the planned date in 2020. But events surrounding Conservative Party expenses irregularities at the 2015 general election have overtaken her.

Last week, the Crown Prosecution Service announced that 14 of the 15 files relating to expenses irregularities had been dismissed, with the remaining one (which was submitted at a later date) still being considered. This only tells part of the story.

Back in January 2016, election receipts were published by the Electoral Commission. The following month, Channel 4 News broadcast allegations surrounding the issue for the first time, and the Electoral Commission opened its own investigation shortly afterwards.

The allegations centred on the Conservative ‘battlebus’, where coachloads of party activists toured marginal seats around the country to canvass on behalf of the local candidate to do the work once done by local party members.

There, in itself lies a crisis. In 1951, the Conservative Party had 2.9 million members nationally. Exact membership numbers over the years are hard to attain, but we were told in 2005 that 253,000 were eligible to vote in the contest that saw David Cameron become leader. Twelve years on, the total party membership stands at around 134,400.

Even that number is overly-optimistic. Quite a few of them are decades-long members, now in their 80s and 90s, and too frail to actively campaign. In other words, the party is very short of foot soldiers, so this ‘battlebus’ strategy is their only viable method of intense campaigning in key marginal, yet it remains a legally dubious strategy.

Within a very short period of time, 14 police forces were investigating claims the ‘battlebus’ campaign broke legal spending limits, and in May 2016, the forces met with the Electoral Commission.

These investigations came increasingly close to home for Mrs May when, in November, one of her aides, Nick Timothy, was drawn into allegations into the situation in the South Thanet constituency.

A total of 30 Conservative Party MPs and agents found themselves under investigation, with their cases being passed on to the CPS. The crux of the investigation was whether costs associated to the battlebus were being registered as part of the ‘national’ or ‘local’ campaign. This is a crucial distinction, and one, that if declared wrongly, could land MPs and agents with court convictions.

In March this year, the Conservative Party was fined £70,000, the maximum, for a failure to declare £275,813 in election campaign expenses. The Electoral Commission also reported Simon Day, the Party Treasurer, to the Metropolitan Police over the spending allegations. The body also accused the Conservative Party of ‘unreasonable uncooperative conduct’, which delayed their investigation for a number of months.

What began as a report on a news programme broadcast to a small audience consisting mainly of bourgeois leftists now posed a real threat to the stability of Theresa May’s government.

The Conservative majority in the Parliament that has just been dissolved was just eight seats. That meant that only four of the MPs would need to be charged by the CPS and found guilty in court for Mrs May’s majority to be wiped out.

The timing would also have been significant. Trials, if they had gone ahead, would not have taken place until much later in the year, and verdicts may not have been reached until well into 2018.

Any MP who had been found guilty would inevitably have to resign their seat. That scenario risked leaving Mrs May with little or no majority at all in the Commons, with a backdrop of sensitive EU negotiations, a fragile economy and possibly a new, more capable Labour leader.

Calling a general election greatly reduces these risks for two reasons. Firstly, it in part nullifies the 2015 election results. Any MP who was found guilty of running a financially irregular campaign in 2015, but a ‘clean’ one in 2017, could argue that they were currently elected as the result of a fair contest, and not resign their seat, even after having been found guilty in court.

Secondly, if, as the polls suggest, the Conservatives are returned with a significantly increased majority, Mrs May could afford to lose quite a number of MPs who had resigned as a result of guilty verdicts in court.

These were the reasons for Mrs May’s change of heart. It is a much more coherent explanation than the one offered in her peculiar speech outside Number 10, where she talked about Britain needing ‘certainty, stability, and strong leadership’, and how her mind was changed on the issue of calling an election while walking with her husband in the Welsh hills.

The CPS’s decision not to press charges on at least 14 of the 15 files, announced three weeks later, will probably have caught Mrs May and her advisers by surprise, but her reaction to it was unwise, to put it mildly. She said: “After a full and lengthy investigation, the legal authorities have confirmed what we believed all along and what we said all along, which was that the expenses, that local spending, was properly reported and properly declared and that the candidates did nothing wrong.

You might want to check that, Mrs May.  What Nick Vamos, the CPS Head of Special crime actually said was: “Although there is evidence to suggest the returns may have been inaccurate, there is insufficient evidence to prove to the criminal standard that any candidate or agent was dishonest.”

Mr Vamos’s words are hardly those of exoneration. He went on to point out in relation to the ‘battlebus’ costs: “It is clear agents were told by Conservative Party headquarters that the costs were part of the national campaign and it would not be possible to prove any agent acted knowingly or dishonestly. Therefore we have concluded it is not in the public interest to charge anyone referred to us with this offence.’

The ‘battlebus’ occupies a grey area between the ‘national’ and ‘local’ campaign.The 2015 election battlebus was not designed as a tool to support local campaigns, but it ended up becoming one. The Electoral Commission’s report from March, which resulted in the £70,000 fine, stated:

“[106:] The Commission has found no evidence to suggest that the Party had funded the Battlebus2015 campaign with the intention that it would promote or procure the electoral success of candidates. Nevertheless, coaches of activists were transported to marginal constituencies to campaign alongside or in close proximity to local campaigners. In the Commission’s view, there was a clear and inherent risk that activists might engage in candidate campaigning. Further, it is apparent that candidate campaigning did take place during the Battlebus2015 campaign.”

The Conservative Party was sailing very close to the wind with the campaigning methods it used in 2015, and was fortunate to be let off the hook, albeit after the general election had been called. Mrs May did not need to call the election after all, but she will still be breathing a huge sigh of relief.

How the Educated, Professional Classes Voted Leave in HUGE Numbers

Early on the morning of June 24, when the result of the referendum became known, a number of myths began to circulate as to who had voted Leave, and why.

winston-churchill
Sir Winston Churchill

Sir Winston Churchill once said, “A lie gets half way around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.” As the morning progressed, embittered Remain supporters took to social media in significant numbers to generalise, in varying degrees of politeness, that the 52% who voted Leave were some or all of the following: Poorly-educated, chavs, the unemployed, Northerners, thick and racist.

Most of those peddling the myths were members of the metropolitan liberal elite, a small, privileged yet vocal section of society that lives in a world of espresso coffees, cocktail bars, cheap foreign nannies, hipster beards, exotic gap year travels and summer weekends camping at music festivals. They consider themselves to be progressive, enlightened, and well-educated.

Many suffer from what I call ‘liberal superiority complex’, by which they believe they are better than you because they are liberals, rather than because of anything you’ve actually said. Another characteristic is their lack of familiarity with their own country. They are quick to tell of their travels to Florence or the Taj Mahal, but very few would even consider taking the time to explore the equal splendour of Lincoln Cathedral. Outside of the bubbles in which they live, work and socialise, they barely know their own country at all.

Their caricatures of those who voted Leave were very obviously untrue. As I wrote on this website two days after the referendum: “The Leave side won because a coalition of traditional, working-class Labour-supporting communities teamed up with the ‘Middle England’ voters who normally support the Conservatives and delivered the establishment a very firm message that they were sick to death of having their concerns ignored, primarily on immigration, but also on sovereignty and the erosion of parliamentary democracy.”

Five months on, we are in a position where we can put some ‘meat on the bone’ with academic evidence to back up my statement.

Before we go any further, here is a little about NRS social grading system, which is used in everything from polling research to advertising targets for television.

To use a very basic example, if ITV showed Coronation Street on a Friday evening, and it got eight million viewers, it may well be less successful in terms of advertising revenue than if it showed a Six Nations rugby union match between England and France in the same slot which got just five million viewers.

This is because the English rugby fans who tuned in would largely be from the A, B and C1 demographics.

A = (Upper middle class) Higher managerial, administrative or professional.

B = (Middle class) Intermediate managerial, administrative or professional.

C1 = (Lower middle class) Supervisory or clerical and junior managerial, administrative or professional.

Those A, B and C1 demographics are attractive to advertisers because they are more affluent, often live in Southern England, and have money to spend. The remaining NRS demographics are:

C2 = (Skilled working class) Skilled manual workers.

D = (Working class) Semi-skilled and unskilled manual workers.

E = (Non-working) Casual or lowest grade workers, pensioners, and others who depend on the welfare state for their income.

What it means, in terms of this example, is that the rugby would be more appealing to advertisers because, although the viewers would be fewer in number, they would largely be from the A, B and C1 demographics. They don’t watch as much television as the less affluent demographics, and are therefore ‘at a premium’ because they’re harder to reach, plus they tend to have more money to spend on things like cars and electronics.

In contrast, the Coronation Street viewers, while larger in number, are more likely to come from the C2, D and E demographics, therefore advertising slots are likely to be taken up by things like washing powder and frozen food.

Compare and contrast for yourself what items are advertised during ad breaks on the soaps and rugby union matches (especially those involving England) to understand this point further. It’s not a coincidence that ‘big ticket’ items are advertised when A, B and C1 viewers are tuning in.

Now let’s apply this NRS system to the referendum. The caricature painted by the bitter (and often downright insulting) Remain supporters is that most of those who voted Leave belonged to the lower demographics, especially ‘E’ (those bigoted old pensioners, those welfare scroungers in the Welsh Valleys and in the ‘racist North’, as we’ve all heard). Yet the facts don’t back this up.

michael-ashcroft
Lord Michael Ashcroft

Lord Ashcroft Polling found that 59% of all Leave voters came from the A, B, C1 demographics. In other words, 59% of all Leave voters were middle class, and came from ‘white collar’ backgrounds.

Of those, 34% were A and B. Just 17% were from C2 (white van man, to use a cliché/caricature).

Therefore, we now know that the vote to leave the EU was largely due to the ‘Middle England’ vote I referred to in my article shortly after the referendum.

It’s true that Ashcroft also found that professionals were the only social class group to vote majority Remain, 57% across the UK, but they were such a large group of voters, and turnout among them was so high, that they also constituted the largest group of Leave voters.

The cliché that the Leave vote was largely due to the North of England is also untrue. Picture a map of the UK in your head. Now draw a line, beginning at The Wash in East Anglia and ending at the Bristol Channel. 52% of all Leave votes came from BELOW that line.

There are a few hotspots in the South, such as London, Oxford and Cheltenham, that are the exception to this rule, where the majority voted Remain. In these areas, house prices and rents are high, and you have to be ‘doing well’ to live there, but across the rest of the South of England, a narrow majority voted Leave in almost every place.

stig-abell
Stig Abell

There is also another myth that affluent selfish elderly voters supported Leave, and in doing so quashed the dreams of the young. The ultra-cosmopolitan journalist and LBC radio presenter Stig Abell went off on a lengthy rant to this effect a few weeks before the referendum, while in the days that followed the vote, I found several obnoxious younger voters on social media say things along the lines of ‘I will never give up my seat on a bus to an elderly person again’.

The truth is somewhat different. Since 2012, the life expectancy of elderly women in Britain has fallen, and in 2015, we had one of the largest rises in mortality since the Second World War, with 52,400 more people dying than in 2014. Our health is getting worse, not better. The old have not been doing well in the UK in recent years.

Prior to Britain joining what was then the EEC in 1973, the country was one of the most economically-equal large countries in Europe (only Sweden was more so). That has now changed completely.

The UK is now the most economically unequal country in Europe. The best-off 10% take 28% of all income. Half of that is taken by the best-off 1%.

‘Middle England’ is neither a happy nor a healthy place. On June 23, they combined with the traditional working class communities, with whom they would normally have little in common, to vote for the anti-establishment option.

This is the reality. There is nothing wrong with being Northern, or from a working-class demographic, or shopping in discount stores rather than Waitrose, or being elderly, but to caricature the majority of those who voted Leave as being from these demographics is not only derogatory, it is also utterly wrong.

Happy UK Independence Day!

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they patronise you, then they call you a ‘Little Englander’, then they call you a ‘bigot’, then they say you’re ‘thick and uneducated’, then they call you a ‘racist’, then they spread lies about you and smear your name……….and then you WIN!”

  • Marcus Stead, 24 June 2016

At 5am on the morning of 24 June 2016, it became clear that the Leave vote was winning the referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU. Some hours later, when all the results were in, it was confirmed that 51.9% voted Leave, while the remaining 48.1% voted Remain.

As the morning progressed, the sun came up as normal (it was a sunny, clear morning in many parts of the country), interest rates remained at 0.5%, war didn’t break out, and the ‘triple lock’ on state pensions remained in place.

When the stock markets opened at 8am, the FTSE fell some 8%, and the BBC reported it as though a major financial crash was taking place.

A considerable number of Remain supporters with no idea of how stock markets work took to social media to tell us that ‘billions of pounds’ had been wiped off the value of shares and that a major crisis was underway.

They forgot to mention that the market had rallied in recent days due to the publication of a few dubious opinion polls that showed ‘Remain’ were narrowly in front, and that the supposed ‘crash’ was, in reality, nothing more than the market correcting itself.

The Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, delivered a televised statement in which he effectively admitted that he had been joining in the Remain campaign’s ‘Project Fear’ with his predictions for doom and gloom if we dared to vote Leave, and that in fact the bank made perfectly sensible contingency plans for this situation. There was certainly no need to panic.

By 9:30am, the FTSE 100 index had recovered to 6,055. To put this into perspective, on August 19, 2011, it was 5,040, and on November 16, 2012, it was 5,605.

Just one hour later, it was pretty much at the same level it was at the previous Friday, before the surge of the earlier part of the week.

By the time the markets closed, the FTSE 100 was higher than it had been on Monday. The daily drop had been just 3.15%. In fact, one company I own a small number of shares in (The Wireless Group) actually rose during the day.

A pound would have got you $1.46, the same as in January 2016, while a pound would get you €1.22, exactly the same as in the second week of April 2016.

There was no need at all to change your holiday plans or panic about your private pension.

Early in the morning, Prime Minister David Cameron announced he would be standing down at an appropriate junction within the next three months, and said he believed new leadership was needed to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which is the process lasting a maximum of two years by which a country can leave the European Union.

Later on, a ‘No Confidence’ motion was tabled by representatives of the Labour Party against their leader, Jeremy Corbyn.

How the Country was Split

A detailed analysis can be left to others with more resources and money than I have, but there are a number of clear conclusions we can reach with what we know.

To put it simply, London and Scotland voted Remain, most of the rest of England and Wales voted Leave, while in Northern Ireland, Remain just about won, but voting was largely divided along sectarian lines.

So who voted Leave? It is safe to assume that a majority of people who would normally support the Conservative Party voted Leave, but by no means all.

Those who support UKIP would, by definition, be expected to vote Leave.

Yet this alone wouldn’t be enough to get Leave past the winning line. Something else has happened, something far more important and profound.

It is now very clear that vast numbers of people in traditional, Labour-supporting working class areas have voted Leave.

They are too entrenched in their party loyalty to vote against Labour in a general election (though this may well change), but the circumstances of this referendum gave them the opportunity to express their long-held anger.

There is a great deal of resentment in the mining towns of the South Wales Valleys, and of Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire, as well as the mill towns of Lancashire, against the way Labour has treated them over a period of at least a decade.

These areas feel taken for granted by Labour, and many believe their MPs to be remote and part of a ruling elite that ignores their concerns, especially on the issue of immigration. Which brings me on to my next point……….

A Divided Country, and ‘Generation Snowflake’

It has become increasingly clear to me in recent years that London now thinks, behaves and votes very differently to the rest of the country. It is as different to the rest of England as England is to Scotland, arguably more so.

Much of London now consists of an enclave of well-off British people along with poorer people from other countries in search of work who have made the city their home.

The clear dividing line is this: A well-off, cosmopolitan liberal elite versus ‘Middle England’ and the traditional Labour-voting working class areas.

It is this cosmopolitan liberal elite that dominates the political classes of both main parties as well as much of the civil service, arts and media, especially the BBC.

They are barely aware of life beyond their bubble in which they live, work and socialise.

To them, mass, uncontrolled immigration means a supply of cheap nannies, waiters and a range of restaurants to eat in.

They have no concept of what it is like to have to wait weeks for a doctor’s appointment, or a council house, or to be unable to get their children into the local school. They don’t know what it’s like to be in an unskilled job and not to have had a pay increase for many years due to an oversupply of labour caused by mass immigration.

They live so far away from such communities that they cannot relate to how 20 years of mass, uncontrolled immigration has utterly transformed vast swathes of the country. They also don’t realise just how few people outside their bubble have nannies, or drink espresso coffee, or give two hoots about hipster culture, or hang around in pretentious cafes where they charge £6 for a bowl of organic cereal.

But in their minds, they know best. They are middle-class. They are well-educated. They are the enlightened ones. The people on the council estates and the people in the Midlands market towns should allow themselves to be patted on the head and told everything is OK by their rulers, or be told that their concerns about mass immigration are ‘racist’.

In a general election, they’d have got away with this, but as I’ve already explained, in a referendum such as this, those party loyalties are swept aside.

The Leave side won because a coalition of traditional, working-class Labour-supporting communities teamed up with the ‘Middle England’ voters who normally support the Conservatives and delivered the establishment a very firm message that they were sick to death of having their concerns ignored, primarily on immigration, but also on sovereignty and the erosion of parliamentary democracy.

Jeremy Corbyn made a serious error of judgement when he abandoned his 40-year campaign to get Britain out of the EEC and then the EU upon becoming Labour leader.

Have you ever seen a hostage reading out a ransom list from his kidnappers? Because that is how Mr Corbyn sounded whenever he appeared on TV to support a Remain vote. His heart very obviously wasn’t in it. The Blairites in the party had got to him. He would have been better off standing his ground and going down fighting.

By 5am, it was clear the Leave side was heading for victory. The British electorate had voted for Parliamentary sovereignty, democratic accountability, sensible controls on immigration, the ability to forge links with the wider world, and the ability to determine our own foreign policy.

The wiser elements on the Remain side did the sensible thing and congratulated their opponents on their victory, and acknowledged that a period of reflection was necessary to help them reconnect with the communities with whom they now appeared remote and out of touch.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for a sizeable minority of Remain supporters, who took to social media and decided the country needed a good telling off for daring to come to a different conclusion to them.

The worst offenders were the younger members of the cosmopolitan liberal elite, which are part of ‘Generation Snowflake’, a phenomenon that has been written about in a number of outlets recently, and has manifested itself in various forms on university campuses across the country.

We have, as a society, created a generation of people who think they are entitled to be shielded from opinions and viewpoints they don’t like, and that anyone with whom they differ is fair game to be lied about, called names, verbally abused and shouted at. This manifested itself with the abuse Boris Johnson experienced when he left his home on the day after the referendum.

They claim distress when presented with ideas that run contrary to their world view, and are unable to cope with opinions that don’t fit in with their narrative.

In other words, they feel they have the right not to be offended, or to respond to views with which they differ in such a hostile way as a means of silencing and intimidating their opponents.

What is most astonishing is that this small but vocal demographic seems to be completely unable to comprehend that it is perfectly possible for somebody to take a different view to themselves and still be a decent person.

In the context of this referendum, they consider themselves ‘tolerant’ and ‘outward-looking’, but that supposed tolerance doesn’t extend of those who believe Britain should be a self-governing democracy. Their noisy ‘humanity’ doesn’t stretch working class communities that have been changed beyond recognition by mass immigration.

Sneering, condescending comments about the concerns of the working classes and ‘Middle England’ communities is par for the course with them, but many have taken it a stage further this time by expressing outright hatred for the entire elderly population, because many of them voted Leave.

They completely fail to grasp that with age comes wisdom. A mentally-sound 85-year-old has a lifetime of extraordinary memories and experiences to draw on when forming an opinion, whereas a mollycoddled member of Generation Snowflake will barely have grazed their knee without their mothers rushing them to A&E for a plaster, followed by counselling sessions for their trauma.

It also shows an outright lack of respect for the thoughts and wishes for those who have lived through war and hardship.

This isn’t the first time I’ve noticed such appalling behaviour from this demographic. I wrote an article about them behaving in a similar (though not as aggressive way) following last year’s general election.

I have heard quite a few members of this demographic say they are thinking of leaving the country because they don’t like the referendum result, or post messages on social media ‘anyone who votes Leave is a dick’ and similar.

That’s the mind-set they’ve been brought up to believe is acceptable. If you don’t like a decision – give up, sulk, shout down and abuse your opponents.

The education system and our mollycoddling, politically correct culture lies at the heart of the problem. They were certainly out in force in the morning after the referendum.

The tone was highly embarrassing – for them. There were too many people with too little life experience, and far too much to say about people they don’t understand and can’t relate to on any level.

The younger ones (including many well into their 30s) are highly middle class, spoilt, and are totally out of touch with how most people in wider Britain live, think and behave.

I fell foul of a group of them on Facebook by breakfast time when most of the results were in. I put a short, light-hearted comment on the wall of a Remain campaigner I have known for nine years. She is an educated woman and a devout Christian who appears on TV and radio occasionally. In my short post, I said it was now important we all pulled together for the greater good of the country.

She, herself did not help matters by overreacting to the initial fall in the stock markets when they opened. She claimed the markets were in ‘freefall’ (they were not) and that ‘billions of pounds had been wiped off’ (technically correct, but billions of pounds had been gained in previous days, so this wasn’t anything like the disaster she was making it out to be).

I do not know and have never met her husband, but, as a bright Cambridge graduate (and I have no doubt she is bright), one would probably expect him to be on the same level as her intellectually.

This is either not the case, or he deliberately behaved in the appalling way I am about to describe.

Below my comment on her wall, he launched an attack on me that lacked any kind of structured argument, where he accused me of not caring about other cultures, of lying to people, and, far worse, of wanting to see children in Britain starve to death.

I gave him a brief reprimand for his absurd comments. He had crossed that all-important line between dissent, which is normal in vibrant political discourse, and dishonour, whereby you launch nasty smears on your opponents.

More people from her social clique added comments. One ‘lady’, who was by no means in the first flush of youth, made a long, rambling, incoherent rant against me and Leave campaigners in general, claiming I had ruined life in this country for future generations, that I hated foreigners and that I was a ‘Little Englander’, or words to that effect. We had never even heard of each other before this exchange, incidentally.

Like so many who have behaved in this way on social media, she did not write in sentences or paragraphs, it was just a stream of venom, emotion and hyperbole.

The one piece of this long rant that I did bother to challenge was this: She claimed that she worked in the UK’s American Express office in Brighton, and claimed that foreign staff there had been in tears that morning because, and I can remember this quote clearly, ‘they think we don’t love them as much as they love us’.

I briefly chastised her for dealing in sickly sentiment rather than fact. This referendum isn’t about ‘love’ or even ‘liking’ people from other countries. It is about whether or not we want to live in a sovereign, democratic nation with all that it entails.

She replied along the lines of that she didn’t want to deal in cold, hard facts, and she preferred getting emotional. I have no time people who act in such a way. For ‘emotional’, see ‘irrational’.

But let’s return to her story about the foreign staff crying. I think one of two things has happened:

  1. She was making the whole thing up for effect.
  2. She, or her colleagues, had, to suit their own narrative, told the foreign staff that people in this country think they are not welcome here, or are in danger of being deported, and this upset them. There is no basis or reason whatsoever to believe that post-Brexit, we will not fulfil our duties to those who are already here. If this is the case, she has been upsetting people completely unnecessarily, and ought to be ashamed of herself.

Going back to the ‘we don’t love them as much as they love us’, again, I have no way of verifying the accuracy of her statement, but actions speak louder than words, and British history is full of examples of Britain saving continental Europe from fascism and tyranny. Not once in history have they had to save us from such a fate. That is surely a greater demonstration of ‘love’, (if you want to call it that) than joining them in an undemocratic, doomed political union.

I’d had enough of this banal baby talk by this stage in any case.

Shortly afterwards, my ‘friend’ of nine years defriended me from her Facebook list, and I have no idea how many of her other trendy liberal friends have been attacking me on her wall in the time since.

This was just one instance. Many friends have reported similar encounters at the hands of the keyboard warriors of Generation Snowflake. They have shown themselves to be immature, rude, childish and intellectually weak with their reaction to the democratic will of the British people.

No doubt if the result was the other way around and Remain had won by a narrow margin, they would have been less than magnanimous in victory.

They abuse, smear and insult their opponents, yet turn into delicate little flowers and cry foul whenever they are challenged. They need to be told to grow up, and be put back in their place.

A Strategy for Victory

By MARCUS STEAD

NORMAN Tebbit is arguably Britain’s greatest political strategist, and his game plan for winning the 1987 general election should still be used as a blueprint for any political party or cause serious about victory.

I share the view he expressed in the Telegraph recently that we should put no more reliance on the opinion pollsters forecasts than the forecasts of The Treasury. His guess (and again, I agree) is that subject only to some game changing event, the outcome of the referendum will be too close to call up to the final week of the campaign.

With less than three weeks to go before polling day, the official Leave campaign, and indeed the unofficial bodies working for the same aims, ought to take a moment to think seriously about the strategies they are applying.

My ‘gut instinct’ is that we are winning the argument with the general public, though there is certainly no room for complacency and there is much arguing and debating to be done before polling day.

It’s time to move the debate beyond economic arguments. This isn’t two sides haggling over the price of a car. There are fundamental principles at stake and we on the Leave side need to raise our game and play to our strengths.

Let us remember who our opponents are: The bankers, the BBC, the President of the United States, the European Commission, big business, especially the foreign multi nationals, most of the Labour Party (though NOT rank-and-file Labour supporters, who are often more euroscpetic than their leaders), the SNP, the Liberal Democrats, and all those who wanted us to submit to monetary union and the euro (Heseltine, Mandelson et al).

The Leave campaign has thus far allowed our opponents to dictate the terms of the debate. This is a major mistake.

We should not allow ourselves to get too bogged down by statistics and numbers. As Mark Twain (NOT Disraeli) said: “There are lies, damned lies, and statistics”. This has never been more true. Every figure each side comes up with can be interpreted as incorrect by the other. Most of these statistics can be shown to be unreliable by identifying what criteria has and has not been used to reach them.

What we can say with absolute certainty is that in simple accounting terms, we will be better off because we pay into the EU far more than we get back. We could afford to finance everything at present funded from the EU and have a considerable sum of money left over.

We can also say that the argument about trade is a red herring. The Remain side is scaremongering by saying that British business would be badly affected by tariffs if we left the EU. The reality is totally different for three reasons:

  1. It is absurd to pretend that the EU would not want to trade with the UK if we left the union. They sell £60 billion more to us than we sell to them every year.
  2. It would be enormously damaging to the EU to not trade with us on mutually favourable terms. For example, Airbus planes made in Toulouse, France would not go very far without British made engines (Rolls Royce), wings and landing gear.
  3. Even if the Remain side’s doomsday scenario came about and no trade agreement with the EU could be reached (highly unlikely), modern global trade tariffs average under 3% in any case. Even if that was passed on directly to the consumer (another big ‘if’), most people planning to vote Leave would consider an extra 3% on the weekly shop to be a price worth paying for true national independence. (In reality, George Osborne’s ‘Living Wage’ is a bigger threat to the prices we pay in the shops, though again, this should not be considered a major threat).

We need to move beyond pure economics and focus on five core arguments:

  1. The Principle of Parliamentary Democracy

For as long as the UK is in the EU, whatever you want, you cannot have. The Westminster government works within the parameters of EU laws, rules and regulations. For example, there is a good argument for nationalising the steelworks at Port Talbot at the moment, but EU directives mean that is impossible. EU laws and regulations, devised by the unelected Commission, take precedence over those made by the people we elect at Westminster.

The late Tony Benn devised five tests you should apply to anyone who has power over you:

1. What power do you have?
2. How did you get that power?
3. In whose interests do you use that power?
4. To whom are you accountable?
5. How can I get rid of you?

Let’s now apply those tests to the European Commission:

1. What power do you have?

To propose legislation and enforce EU law, implement EU policies and budgets.

2. How did you get that power?

They were APPOINTED by the Council of Ministers.

3. In whose interests do you use that power?
NOT in the interests of the people of the EU.

4. To whom are you accountable?

Nobody, really. The European Parliament has few meaningful methods of holding it to account.

5. How can I get rid of you?

I can’t!

We need to hammer the message home that if you want to have the ability to remove those who make laws and regulations that affect your life, you must vote Leave on June 23.

  1. The Supremacy of British Courts

The European Court of Justice has the power to overrule the Supreme Court (a misleading title, as it is not the highest court in the land). The European Court of Justice also has the power to render legislation passed by the Westminster Parliament as invalid.

It is true that the European Convention on Human Rights is not an EU incentive, but implementing the Convention is a requirement of EU membership, and it was implemented by the UK in the Human Rights Act that came into effect in October 2000.

This has badly damaged the British legal system, as it has led to spurious claims on the grounds of ‘human rights’, such as an on-going case which will force the UK to give prisoners the right to vote.

If you want the highest court in the land to be a UK court, which implements laws passed by a UK Parliament, you need to vote LEAVE on June 23.

 

  1. Immigration

This is one area where the Remain campaign has really struggled to make an impact. That is because it is undeniably true that for as long as the UK is in the European Union, any EU citizen can move here for any reason. Even if they have no job, no skills, no family connections, or have a string of serious criminal convictions, we can do absolutely nothing to prevent them from moving to the UK.

Net immigration in 2015 was 333,000. We will need to build a city the size of Cardiff every year to house the growing population, or a city the size of Birmingham every five years. This is obviously unsustainable.

This mass, uncontrolled immigration puts ever-increasing pressure on housing, on school places, on NHS resources, and on transport infrastructure.

The Remain side like to twist the argument by saying that ‘immigrant workers’ keep the NHS functioning. This may be true, but that is surely an argument for a sensible, points-based immigration system by which we allow in those with the skills we need, rather than a free-for-all. On that basis, are we not discriminating against potential skilled immigrants from outside the EU, by giving EU skilled immigrants an unfair advantage?

The UK has around 1.6 million unemployed people. These are the people who should be doing the unskilled jobs, NOT EU immigrants.

Oversupply of Labour caused by uncontrolled immigration from the EU results in the suppression of wages. If there is an oversupply of anything, it makes sense to remove some of that supply, which in this case means unskilled labour from the EU.

Of course, we should not blame the immigrants themselves for this problem. It is perfectly sensible for them to take advantage of opportunities to move to a country where the minimum wage is several times higher than at home, and they are, for the most part, decent, hard-working people. The overwhelming majority of them are not abusing the UK’s generous welfare system.

But when young, unemployed British people are struggling to find work, or those in unskilled work have not had a decent pay rise in many years, we have to deal with the problem at its root cause, and this means voting Leave on June 23.

  1. The Ability To Negotiate Our Own Trade Deals

This is an area where the Britain Stronger in Europe is really misleading people. In November 2015, they stated: “Half of everything we sell to the rest of the world we sell to Europe.”

Notice how they refer to ‘Europe’ and NOT ‘the European Union’. This referendum is about the UK’s membership of the EU, not the geographic reality of Europe. So why is the appropriately-named BSE campaign misleading people?

If we look at the continent of Europe as a whole, around 55% of what the UK earned from exports of goods came from European countries in 2014. BUT if we include only EU countries, that falls to just 44%.

The last time the proportion of exported goods and services heading to the EU crossed the 50% line was back in 2008.

The EU is the world’s only shrinking market. It has a shrinking, ageing population and is riddled with debt, while the single currency limps from crisis to crisis (Greece is much closer to yet another bailout than the mainstream media is telling us).

To compete in the modern world, the UK will need to trade with China, India, South America, and, yes, Iran (a country of young, well-educated, outward-looking people eager to engage with the world). In other words, growing economies in places people actually live.

President Obama absurdly threatened the British people during his recent visit to the country, saying that the UK would have to go to ‘the back of the queue’ on a new trade deal if we left the EU. He seems to be forgetting two facts:

  1. He will cease to be President in January 2017, so that will not be his decision to make. The likely Republican candidate for the Presidency, Donald Trump, has been much more welcoming to the prospect of the UK leaving the EU.
  2. The balance of trade between the UK and the USA is roughly £56 billion each way. President Obama would therefore be harming his own country as much as ours by not agreeing a trade deal in a timely manner.

For as long as we are in the EU, the UK cannot sign its own trade deals, and will be hampered by EU competition rules.

Only by voting LEAVE on June 23 will we be able to trade on our own terms with leading markets.

  1. Control Over the United Kingdom’s Foreign Policy

In his meaningless ‘renegotiations’ earlier this year, David Cameron claimed he had got a pledge to excuse the UK from the principle of ‘ever closer union’ and this will apparently be enshrined in future EU treaties.

As I said on this website recently, there are two problems with this: 1. It could all fall apart as soon as it faces a ratification process, as soon as later this year and 2. One of the purposes of the Lisbon Treaty was that there should be no more treaties. In other words, in future, EU laws, rules and reforms will take place in a piecemeal way rather than as part of a major treaty. Whether this actually happens or not remains to be seen, but it’s entirely possible there will never be a future treaty in any case.

For a more realistic assessment of the direction of travel, we should look to what those who actually have power in the EU are saying. The Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, has called for the creation of an EU army, and this claim has been backed up by our own former Prime Minister, Tony Blair.

Do we really want British foreign policy to be determined by unelected bureaucrats? Do we really want British servicemen and women sent in to battle by an overseas government we cannot hold to account, and cannot remove in elections?

A secret paper entitled Global Security on Foreign and Security Policy has been made available to a select group of “trusties”, all sworn to secrecy. Its chief architect is EU Commissioner and foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.

Publication has been held back until June 24 for fear that  British voters might see that voting to Remain in the European Union is a far bigger “leap into the dark” than voting to be free.

This is very dangerous, but to be absolutely sure it does not happen, we need to vote LEAVE on June 23.

Please Understand: President Obama is NOT a ‘Friend’ to Britain. He is defending the USA’s National Interests

Obama Cameron

By MARCUS STEAD

Here’s an exclusive you won’t read anywhere else, confirmed to me buy a source close to Downing Street: Next Monday, David Cameron will fly to New York, where he will deliver a major speech on the future direction of British foreign policy to invited guests, including presidential frontrunners Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

The overriding theme of the speech will be that from now on, British foreign policy will be both consistent and ethical. He will warn that if the United States wants to continue to have a close, ‘special relationship’ with the United Kingdom, the Supreme Court must allow itself to be overruled by international courts, Congress must no longer be the ultimate decider of federal law and the USA will have to adopt an ‘open doors’ policy of unlimited immigration from Mexico and Canada. 250 years of ‘No Taxation Without Representation’ in the USA will have to come to an end.

On top of this, Mr Cameron will insist that the USA abolishes the death penalty and that Guantanamo Bay is closed within a very short period of time.

Furthermore, Mr Cameron will warn the presidential candidates, and the American people, that failure to implement his demands will result in severe trade tariffs on goods exported to the UK.

OK, so I made it up – no such visit is taking place and no such speech will be made. The whole premise is absurd and I doubt many of you were taken in by it. Any British Prime Minister who had the arrogance and the audacity to make such a speech would rightly be laughed out of the USA.

But why is it so different to the threatening, menacing speeches President Obama made during his visit to Britain last week?

We’ve now reached the stage where the entire Remain argument is based on fear, threats, hyperbole and hypothetical situations. President Obama’s speeches last week merely served to pour fuel on the flames.

Bringing Barack Obama to this country to make the case for Britain remaining in the European Union was David Cameron’s nuclear option – it was his last major role of the dice, and an act of desperation.

Most British people are little more than casual observers of American politics. To many, especially among the younger generation, President Obama is seen as a bit of a ‘cool dude’, a sort of Will Smith Hollywood ‘star’ type of leader – young (though he’s aged rapidly as President), in good shape, eloquent, humorous, personable, and able to sing and dance. He is regarded by many, especially the young, as the antithesis of his predecessor, George W Bush.

Yet it’s a very different story in the United States itself. Obama was elected president in late 2008 on a wave of optimism and hope. ‘Change is Coming’ and ‘Yes We Can’ were his slogans. This was a man who was going to draw a line under a dark, nervous period in the country’s history, dominated by terror attacks, international conflict and economic turmoil.

The reality turned out to be very different. Under President Obama, the USA’s national debt has nearly doubled from $10.6 trillion when he became President to around $19 trillion today, and is likely to increase to $20 trillion by the time he leaves office next January. Yes, that’s right – Obama has overseen the doubling of the national debt.

On foreign policy, his ‘lead from behind’ strategy has been nothing short of a disaster. On his watch, American troops have pulled out of Iraq and Afghanistan, and very soon afterwards, both nations descended into chaos.

Obama gave verbal encouragement to those involved in the Arab Spring, which saw stable, albeit undemocratic and authoritarian governments overthrown by mainly hard-line Muslim groups in Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Tunisia.

The romantic reporting by the largely pro-Obama BBC News and other liberal outlets quickly began to look absurd as the Arab Spring gave way to the Islamic Winter. The Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt, which replaced the secular, broadly pro-American regime led by Hosni Mubarak, was short-lived, and was duly overthrown by the country’s military.

Libya, which had enjoyed decades of stable, consistent economic prosperity and relative social harmony under the secular rule of Colonel Gaddafi, albeit one characterised as an authoritarian dictatorship, descended into disorder, violent conflict, chaos and poverty from which it has not recovered six years later. The Gaddafi era was a time of paradise in comparison to what the country has become.

By the way, the links between Gaddafi and the Lockerbie Disaster are wholly unconvincing when looked at objectively. So why did Britain and the USA turn against Gaddafi after a considerable period of friendly relations?

According to more than a few observers, Gaddafi’s plan to quit selling Libyan oil in US dollars, demanding payment instead in gold-backed “dinars” (a single African currency made from gold), was the real cause.

Gaddafi’s regime, sitting on massive amounts of gold, estimated at close to 150 tons, was also pushing other African and Middle Eastern governments to follow suit. In other words, Gaddafi was, by default, on the verge of launching a major African currency that would have rivalled both the US dollar and the euro, and been a major threat to the debt-laden Western governments.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy reportedly went so far as to call Libya a “threat” to the financial security of the world.

This seems to be the most likely reason why Obama and his buddy David Cameron were so willing to turn against an ally and see a prosperous, secular state descend into a lengthy, brutal conflict, with no end in sight, even after six years.

In Yemen, the Arab Spring was reversed when the government was overthrown by Houthi rebels in January 2015, and the country remains in a state of civil war.

The only country that can in any way proclaim the Obama-backed Arab Spring as a success is Tunisia, which remains a functioning, albeit fragile democracy.

At the same time, ISIS has taken hold in parts of Iraq and Syria on Obama’s watch, while his response has been muddled and inconsistent.

Domestically, Barack Obama fares little better. Aside from his poor track record on debt and the economy, the rise of both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders was largely down to millions of ordinary Americans becoming disillusioned with an arrogant, complacent Washington elite, of which Obama is a part, who are not on the side of regular folk who want to get on in life.

Obama’s popularity inside America has long since ebbed away, and following his actions last week, his undeserved popularity among British people took a massive hit from which it will not recover.

When Obama gave his Downing St press conference alongside David Cameron, ‘Project Fear’ turned into ‘Project Threat’. His line about Britain having to join the ‘back of the queue’ (as opposed to the American expression ‘back of the line’) was a very thinly veiled threat.

The British people do not take kindly to being threatened. It may also have escaped Mr Obama’s attention that his term of office comes to an end next January, and it is not for him to say where on the priority list his successor will place a trade agreement with an independent Britain.

For all his overblown rhetoric and bravado, Donald Trump does at least respect the right of the British people to determine their own future, as he made clear during his interview with Piers Morgan. The British people would do well not to underestimate him.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that trade between the UK and the USA is more-or-less balanced at around $57 billion each way. There is currently no trade deal in place, yet the USA is the biggest investor in the UK at $324 billion, while UK investment in the US last year was $282 billion. More than a million Americans work for British companies and more than a million Britons are employed by American companies.

Does anybody seriously believe either Trump or Hillary Clinton or any other late contender for the presidency would want to jeopardise this finely-balanced, mutually-beneficial trading relationship because the British people wish to become a self-determining, independent nation? Of course not!

However, it would do us some good to reassess the so-called ‘Special Relationship’ in light of President Obama’s comments.

We more-or-less share a language with the USA and many Brits, especially the young, consume quite a lot of American culture. Yet there are many differences, not least in humour (Americans are often baffled by our dry, subtle humour), as well as in their shiny, eternal optimism, which contrasts sharply with British subtlety and cynicism.

I like America and I like Americans, but we should always remember that it is a foreign country with different interests to ours.

When Britain ran out of money during World War I, the USA forced us to limit our Navy, and it began to overtake us as the world’s leading naval power.

In 1934, Britain had defaulted on the enormous debt from WWI, worth up to £225 billion in today’s money, which we still haven’t paid off, and probably never will.

In the darkest hours of the Second World War, just after the fall of France, the US Congress demanded almost every penny Britain owed before it would authorise the Land-Lease programme. Convoys of Royal Navy warships carried British reserves of gold bullion (worth around £25 billion in today’s money) across the Atlantic, never to return. Billions of pounds worth of notable securities went the same way, and British assets in the USA were sold off at laughably low prices.

What Britain got in return was enough support to stay in the fight against Hitler, but our economy was to be permanently weakened and the USA was to be ‘top dog’ in the world. When peace arrived in 1945, it was made on American, not British terms, and Marshall Aid came with strings to open up the British Empire to outside trade, which in turn led to its dismantling.

It wasn’t until the 1990s that secret documents came to light (probably by accident) that exposed detailed CIA involvement in the creation of a permanently united Europe in the period following the end of WWII, presumably because America was weary of involving itself in any future such wars. A unified Europe, with Britain as part of it, has remained American foreign policy ever since.

The USA’s involvement in WWII was because of its own national interests, not ours.

In 1982, the USA very nearly ruined Britain’s attempts to recapture the Falklands from the Argentinian junta. We should ask ourselves whether now, more than three decades on and with a much smaller armed forces, whether the Pentagon would side with Britain if Argentina once again seized Port Stanley?

In 1998, President Clinton forced Britain to negotiate and eventually give in to many of the demands of Sinn Fein/IRA, just around the time when the Royal Ulster Constabulary had them on the run. This process was continued by his successor, President Bush. Both Democrat and Republican parties are aware of how useful it is to play up Irish ancestry in America, and of how much fundraising money it can generate.

POLITICS G20 202428
President Obama bows to the late King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia

This is proof that UK and US national interests are not permanently entwined. The USA has one ‘special relationship’, and that is with Saudi Arabia. It is a 70-year-old pact based on oil, money and power.

Saudi Arabia has an uncomfortable amount in common with ISIS, ranging from everything from its treatment of women, to beheadings, to amputating the limbs of criminals, to blowing up ancient monuments, yet the US administrations, both Democrat and Republican barely utter a word in disapproval, and side with the country in its regional conflicts, even if it results in an illogical, inconsistent hostility towards countries like Iran.

The UK and the USA are two countries with very different national interests. The US is not a ‘friend’ who looks upon Britain in any special way. American presidents say the things they do about Britain’s relationship with the EU because it is in their national interest, not ours.

We do well to remember that.

So You Think Brexit is a ‘Right Wing’ Cause? Think Again!

By MARCUS STEAD

There is a lazy, conventional wisdom among sections of the mainstream media that parodies anyone opposed to Britain’s membership of the EU as ‘right wing’. This is totally inaccurate, both historically and in the context of the upcoming referendum.

Hugh_Gaitskell
Hugh Gaitskell

As long ago as 1962, the then-Labour leader, Hugh Gaitskell delivered the greatest speech ever made by a British party leader against EEC membership to his party’s conference. Among many astute comments, he said: “We must be clear about this; it does mean, if this is the idea, the end of Britain as an independent European state. I make no apology for repeating it. It means the end of a thousand years of history. You may say: “Let it end.” But, my goodness, it is a decision that needs a little care and thought.”

Gaitskell died just three months later, but had he lived, it seems very likely he would have continued to voice his opposition to Britain joining the EEC.

The terms ‘left wing’ and ‘right wing’ are only of any use if we stick purely to economics. A ‘left winger’ is one who believes in a collectivist approach with a greater level of involvement by the state, whereas a ‘right winger’ is one who is more individualist, with a smaller role for the state. Beyond economics, into the areas of social and moral issues, the expressions ‘left wing’ and ‘right wing’ are little more than terms of abuse.

For example, George Galloway is widely assumed to be ‘left wing’ because of his collectivist, possibly Marxist, approach to economics. But he is also strongly opposed to drug use and, though he accepts an alcohol-free society is not going to happen, he believes alcohol has a deleterious effect on people and that sales of alcohol should be severely restricted. He also has a religious approach to life and his belief in God is absolute. Therefore, in many ways, he could be described as socially conservative, but he would surely take exception to the label ‘right wing’ being attached to his name.

‘Right wing’ is as a term of abuse that quite a number of those who support Britain’s continued membership of the EU use to caricature their opponents. This assumption does not stand up to scrutiny.

Nobody under the age of 58 today will have been old enough to vote in the 1975 referendum on Britain’s membership of what was then the European Economic Community (or the ‘Common Market’ as it was more commonly known), but in those days, the Conservatives were the most pro-EEC party while almost all of the prominent anti-EEC campaigners were in Labour.

The question in 1975 was: “”Do you think the UK should stay in the European Community (Common Market)?”, which required voters to say ‘Yes’ or ‘No’, as opposed to the ‘Remain’ or ‘Leave’ question we will answer in 2016.

Margaret Thatcher 1975
Margaret Thatcher campaigning for a ‘Yes’ vote in the 1975 referendum

The ‘Yes’ campaign was supported by the leaders of both the Labour Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, and Margaret Thatcher, who had recently become leader of the Conservatives, along with those who would be described as ‘moderates’ and in the political ‘centre ground’.

Most of the prominent ‘No’ campaigners were on the ‘left’ of the Labour Party and on the ‘right’ of the Conservative Party.

The ‘Yes’ campaign had the support of every national newspaper, with the exception of the little-red socialist Morning Star, as well as the bulk of the business community.

The ‘No’ campaign was run on a shoestring by comparison. Indeed, the donations Sainsbury’s and BP made to the ‘Yes’ campaign were almost three times the entire budget of the ‘No’ campaign.

Two of the ‘No’ campaign’s leading figures were Tony Benn and Michael Foot, both of whom were identified with the ‘hard left’ of the Labour Party. On the ‘hard right’, or, if we want to use a really abusive and meaningless label, the ‘far right’, was  Enoch Powell, who prior to the previous year’s elections had quit the Conservative Party after rightly pointing out that their previous leader, Edward Heath, had taken the United Kingdom into the EEC without a mandate to do so.

Benn and Powell, both articulate, charismatic public speakers, expressed fears about the loss of national Parliamentary sovereignty and lack of democratic accountability in the EEC, though both men faced parody and ridicule, with Benn being depicted as a ‘Marxist’ and Powell as a ‘racist’. Add the controversial Ulsterman Dr Ian Paisley into the mix, and it was easy to caricature the ‘No’ camp as lacking moderate voices.

The businessman and economist John Mills (best known for his JML range of gadgets and appliances) was a prominent ‘No’ campaigner in 1975 and is heavily involved with the ‘Leave’ campaign in 2016, but his presence and profile back then wasn’t enough of a counterbalance.

The ‘Yes’ camp had Wilson, Thatcher as well as other political big hitters of the day, including Denis Healey and Roy Jenkins on side, but it is not entirely true to say the ‘No’ camp were all on the fringes of their parties. Barbara Castle could be associated with the ‘hard left’ at a push, but Peter Shore, one of the most vociferous anti-EEC campaigners both before and after the referendum, was associated with the ‘soft left’, though was not always treated as such by the media during the campaign.

Despite being a diverse tent, the ‘No’ camp lacked a prominent, popular and trusted figure who could take on the ‘Yes’ campaign with its resources and big names.

As the late Alistair McAlpine, treasurer of the ‘Yes’ campaign in 1975 put it in a 2005 interview: “The whole thrust of our campaign was to depict the anti-Marketers as unreliable people – dangerous people who would lead you down the wrong path. It wasn’t so much that it was sensible to stay in, but that anybody who proposed that we came out was off their rocker or virtually Marxist.”

Years later, McAlpine would change his mind, and became a major backer of Sir James Goldsmith’s Referendum Party. But in 1975, the ‘establishment’ view, the ‘Project Fear’ of its day, was that staying in was the safe option, supported by ‘safe’ people including most of the political establishment and every major national newspaper, in an era where newspapers were far more widely-read and carried much more clout than they do today.

So why did Margaret Thatcher, who became much more Eurosceptic in later life, support a ‘Yes’ vote in 1975? At the time, the EEC project was regarded as broadly capitalist, and would provide economic opportunities in an era when the British Empire had come to an end. The trade union movement was mostly suspicious of it at the time, portraying it as a ‘capitalist club’ that would prevent a future Labour government from carrying out a socialist programme of policies.

Yet from Gaitskell to Benn, those on the ‘left’ had a proud track record of combining any concerns about the ‘capitalist club’ with convictions about national sovereignty and democratic accountability.

Back in 1975, opposition to EEC membership from those described as ‘right wing’ broadly took the view that the loss of national and Parliamentary sovereignty was of far more importance than the alleged economic benefits of staying in.

Inevitably, the heavy propaganda and scaremongering worked and the ‘Yes’ side won the 1975 referendum with 67% of the vote. But in the years that followed, it was the Labour Party who were the most Eurosceptic. By 1983, the party had shifted firmly to the ‘left’ under the leadership of Foot, and in that year’s general election manifesto included a firm commitment to withdraw Britain from the EEC without a referendum.

Following Labour’s crushing defeat in 1983, calls for withdrawal became fainter and the party’s position on the issue of EEC membership became less clear during the early years of Neil Kinnock’s leadership, with the matter only meriting three vague sentences in the often-muddled manifesto of 1987. Meanwhile, Margaret Thatcher signed the Single European Act in 1987, which paved the way for the EEC to evolve into the European Union in the years that followed.

Therefore, right up until the late 1980s, the bulk of euroscepticism came from the Labour Party and the Tory back benches, with the Thatcher government being firmly in favour of continued membership.

Jacques Delors 1988
Jacques Delors in 1988

The turning point came in September 1988 when the then-President of the European Commission, Jacques Delors, gave a speech to the Trade Unions Congress in Bournemouth where he promised that the Commission would be a force to require governments to introduce pro-labour legislation.

A little under two weeks later, Mrs Thatcher retaliated in her famous Bruges speech, in which she said that she had not rolled back the frontiers of the state only for them to be re-imposed by a Brussels superstate.

This speech changed the terms of the EEC debate in Britain completely. The Labour Party now saw the project as socialist and as a way of reversing Thatcherism. In 1989, Labour underwent a policy review which resulted in a strong commitment towards the EEC.

From then on, the Conservative Party was deeply divided. For the final two years of her time as Prime Minister, Mrs Thatcher became increasingly sceptical, believing that the EEC was trying to introduce socialism through the back door, while the splits on the issue within Cabinet were to prove poisonous and deeply damaging not only to her authority, but also to that of her successor, John Major into the 1990s, as well as to every Conservative leader in the years since, a fact David Cameron is regularly being reminded of.

The Labour front bench has remained largely pro-EU in the years since 1989, and although there have been splits on the specifics such as membership of the euro, support for the EU project has remained strong.

That is not to say that there haven’t been a significant number of voices on the Labour back benches who remained strongly opposed to EU membership. Tony Benn, who remained a Labour MP until 2001, maintained the view that the principles of Parliamentary sovereignty and democratic accountability were of more importance than working people being ‘given’ rights by a foreign, unelected power, while also maintaining that the EU would prevent a Labour government from implementing what he considered to be important socialist policies, such as nationalising large sections of industry. Others on the ‘hard left’ including militant trade unionist Arthur Scargill, leader of his own Socialist Labour Party share this view.

Tony Benn 2005
Tony Benn continued to be a committed Eurosceptic

In 2005, Tony Benn reflected: “You have to make your case – and sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. But in the sense that Margaret Thatcher has now come round to my view, Rupert Murdoch has now come round to my view, it wasn’t unsuccessful, was it?”

Anti-EU voices on the Labour back benches have by no means been confined to the ‘hard left’ with Kate Hoey and Frank Field, associated with the ‘right’ of the party, campaigning loudly for a ‘Leave’ vote in 2015, in line with long-held principles of theirs.

At ‘grassroots’ level, the split in the Labour Party is far deeper. Many Labour supporters who would be defined as urban, inner-city working class support Brexit on grounds of being sympathetic to some or all of Tony Benn’s arguments, combined with concerns about the impact mass immigration is having upon them in terms of the suppression of wages, housing and community cohesion. Labour supporters who wish to remain are typically middle class intellectuals who work in the public sector.

So what of the modern Conservative Party? The ‘grassroots’ are overwhelmingly Eurosceptic. Many of those who supported membership in 1975 on economic grounds will be supporting Brexit in 2016 due to issues of loss of sovereignty, overregulation and lack of border controls.

The Parliamentary party is as divided now as it was the day Margaret Thatcher left Downing St for the last time. The cracks have been papered over for periods, but they’ve never really gone away. So far, 23 Cabinet Ministers say they’ll campaign for Remain, and seven for leave. The Tory back benches appear to be split roughly fifty-fifty.

The only historical consistency since the 1970s is that the front bench of the governing party of the day has been supportive of continuing membership. Beyond that, both main parties and their supporters across Britain have always been divided.

Brexit is a cause supported by people from all walks of life, and from many different parts of the political spectrum.