There's been a lot of talk in the news about Brexit recently and you've probably heard a lot of words like 'backstop' and 'Chequers' – but what does it all mean? Here's one of RTÉ's political experts @RTENewsPaulC to explain. pic.twitter.com/93etaS2HO4
I noted that in Mrs May’s Christmas message to us lesser beings (painful to watch as she tries to emote), she wanted to remind us that this is a Christian country.
She said: “Let us take pride in our Christian heritage and the confidence it gives us to ensure that in Britain you can practice your faith free from question or fear”.
She is, of course, the English/female version of the Gordon Brown “son of the manse”, the “vicar’s daughter”
I managed to avoid the Queen’s Christmas message (well done. Tris) but I’d lay a pound to a penny that she reminded us that in her long reign she has always tried to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. After all, she tells us that every year.
And we all know that the real power in the country is held by an unelected Christian fundamentalist, who apparently believes that the world was created by God 6,000 years ago and that he laboured for 6 days doing it, and took the seventh day off. And you mustn’t call her a dinosaur because there never was such a thing!
And yet these three women, strong advocates of Christianity, oversee a country where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.
It’s a mean cruel little place in which a woman who is going to marry into the royal family can spend £55,000 on a dress for a photoshoot, parliament can spend tens of billions on doing up its own buildings, Buckingham Palace gets extra money for repairs… and at the same time doctors are prescribing food to patients who are ill because of malnutrition and we see the return of Victorian poverty illnesses like rickets.
And that’s BEFORE we leave the EU, which now all but a few predict will be an economic disaster for Britain at least for the foreseeable future.
The following came from readers comments in the article above. Just how inhuman do you have to be to put this kind of regime into operation?
Examples of Benefit Sanctions
“One case where the claimant’s wife went into premature labour and had to go to hospital. This caused the claimant to miss an appointment. No leeway given”
“It’s Christmas Day and you don’t fill in your job search evidence form to show that you’ve looked for all the new jobs that are advertised on Christmas Day. You are sanctioned. Merry Christmas”
“You apply for three jobs one week and three jobs the following Sunday and Monday. Because the jobcentre week starts on a Tuesday it treats this as applying for six jobs in one week and none the following week. You are sanctioned for 13 weeks for failing to apply for three jobs each week”
“A London man missed his Jobcentre appointments for two weeks because he was in hospital after being hit by a car. He was sanctioned”
“You’ve been unemployed for seven months and are forced onto a workfare scheme in a shop miles away, but can’t afford to travel. You offer to work in a nearer branch but are refused and get sanctioned for not attending your placement”
“You are a mum of two and are five minutes late for your jobcentre appointment. You show the advisor the clock on your phone, which is running late. You are sanctioned for a month”
“A man with heart problems who was on Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) had a heart attack during a work capability assessment. He was then sanctioned for failing to complete the assessment”
“A man who had gotten a job that was scheduled to begin in two weeks’time was sanctioned for not looking for work as he waited for the role to start”
“Army veteran Stephen Taylor, 60, whose Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) was stopped after he sold poppies in memory of fallen soldiers”
“A man had to miss his regular appointment at the job centre to attend his father’s funeral. He was sanctioned even though he told DWP staff in advance”
“Ceri Padley, 26, had her benefits sanctioned after she missed an appointment at the jobcentre – because she was at a job interview”
“A man got sanctioned for missing his slot to sign on – as he was attending a work programme interview. He was then sanctioned as he could not afford to travel for his job search”
“Mother-of-three Angie Godwin, 27, said her benefits were sanctioned after she applied for a role jobcentre staff said was beyond her”
“Sofya Harrison was sanctioned for attending a job interview and moving her signing-on to another day”
“Michael, 54, had his benefits sanctioned for four months for failing to undertake a week’s work experience at a charity shop. The charity shop had told him they didn’t want him there”
“Terry Eaton, 58, was sanctioned because he didn’t have the bus fare he needed to attend an appointment with the jobcentre”.
Added to this they removed £30 a week from the sickest people, they are in the throes of rolling out a system for benefits (Universal Credit) that does not work (still!) but not in Cabinet ministers’ constituencies, and amongst a list of other miserable mean minded policies aimed at saving money at all costs, most of the people of Grenfell Tower (the building that burned down because the richest council in England couldn’t be bothered putting proper insulation on it because it was populated by poor people, and for whom there was recently a big service in London, with bigwigs including Charles and William and the Maybot herself), are still homeless, and May laughed off the notion of child homelessness on the basis that kids weren’t actually sleeping on the cold streets in the open air…as many adults are. All fur coats and no knickers!
In England, NHS trusts are cancelling non-emergency operations as their health service falls apart for lack of money, staff and someone to manage it. Schools in some areas are washing kids’ clothes and taking parents to food banks or feeding them in breakfast clubs, while at the same time begging for money for books from richer parents. Prisons in England are in many cases privatised. The staffing levels are ridiculously low and the population ridiculously high. Violence is rife and riots are frequent.
I could go on, through other areas of public life: ships that are letting in water and that were built to carry aircraft we haven’t bought, Cabinet ministers falling like ninepins because they lie to the prime minister… the lowest pensions in the developed world to show how little we care about our elderly population (unless they are royal or lords) and the total mess that is Brexit deteriorating by the day…but by now you’re getting bored.
So that is the Britain which hails blue passports as a major achievement.
That’s the Queen’s idea of a Christian society.
That’s Mrs May’s idea of Christian government.
I’m not a Christian, but I was forced as a schoolboy to go to daily Christian services at school in England and made to do two lessons a week of Bible Study, so I know a few things about the basic principles of Christianity after all these years.
Either our teachers were lying, or the people who oversee this mess, Liz, Arlene and the Maybot don’t even begin to resemble Christians.
I’m sure you will all be a relieved as I am that the BritNat government has announced that, upon the day that the UK leaves the European Union, a proper Blue passport will incrementally replace the fake burgundy one that we have been obliged to tolerate for the last 30 years.
A variety of guests were invited to appear on Radio Four’s Today programme to gush about this momentous event in the history of our “proud island nation”.
All of them were bubbling with excitement. It was as if it were the government’s Christmas gift to its grateful and adoring populace
Nigel Farage tweeted, “Happy Brexmas”, as joy unbounded overtook him despite his impoverished condition.
I think people may be a little disappointed though when they finally get their new passports because, even if you take back control, in today’s world you have to fit in with international standards (on this occasion set in Montréal, Québec, Canada by a UN authority). There’s not much point in having a passport that cannot be read by immigration officials anywhere else in the world.
So it is unlikely that the stiff cover with the cut-out space for a handwritten name will survive. The new proud Tory Blue passport will have to comply with UN requirements, no matter how important and superior Britain thinks itself to be.
In short, it is likely that the new passport will look the same as the old passport, except it will be blue and it will not have “European Union” anywhere on it.
It’s a little sad that so much fuss is being made over the colour.
And, there was nothing to stop the Brits having a blue passport whilst a member of the EU. Croatia seems to manage perfectly well!
The fact that it was an EU passport conferred a few privileges on its holders. You could, for example, when outside the union, make use of any of the diplomatic services of any of the countries of the union. So, if you had a problem in Mauritania, Peru or Cambodia, you could pitch up at the French embassy/consulate, or the Hungarian embassy/consulate, and they would have the same obligation to render assistance as the British embassy/consulate.
Mostly, of course, the red passport used to mean we could move relatively seamlessly though over 30 countries in Europe. Now we will have to queue at borders. If the purpose of the document is to ensure smooth passage between countries, the new passport will certainly be failing there!
I think, though, that the saddest thing I heard this morning was someone say that having a red passport was a mark of shame on the UK.
I’d suggest that people dying of cold on streets, letters arriving telling people they are fit to work on the day that they die, waiting in hospital corridors for 36 hours for treatment, the lowest pension/salary ratio in the developed world, the most expensive transport in Europe, homeless children, schools begging parents for money, well over a million food bank users, the return of rickets…. might be considered rather more of a shame than a piddling passport colour.
Ironies: It’s not clear that the new “iconic” British passport will actually be made in Britain. According to two separate articles in the Daily Diana, they may be made in France or Germany. What horror!
So, old Tess addressed the United Nations General Assembly today and almost no one showed up. There were obviously doing stovies and corned beef in the canteen, or something!
Yesterday President Macron drew a far larger crowd and, of course, the place was full to bursting when Coco the Clown appeared doing his Rocket Man act. But then everyone loves a comic as top of the bill.
OK, no one else, except maybe Putin or Xi is going to draw a crowd like that. I’m not sure what they were expecting… maybe a mix between Miss World and The Apprentice, but they came along to hear what he had to say, because however mad he is, he is the POTUS and however ridiculous his statements, what he says counts for something.
It is a mark of how unimportant Britain is that President Mahmoud Abas of Palestine got a bigger crowd than Mayhem. Simply no one is interested in what Britain thinks.
I know May has made a big thing of this speech she is giving in Florence (why Florence… taking advantage of the free travel while she’s still got a job?) on Friday. I’m just wondering if anyone will turn up!
Many people in the UK could be relatively unaware of what is happening in Catalonia given that the BBC seems determined to give it as little coverage as possible. I had the car radio on the way home tonight and the ‘PM’ show on Radio 4 had sent a reporter off to India to find out about how some company there is making saris just like Mother Theresa wore (you know, the nun, not the prime ministerial joke). In the time I was listening not a word was said about democracy being trampled under a jackboot in a European country.
The take over of the government of Catalonia by the Spanish seems to be of little import to Britain, deserving of even less coverage than the daily killing of kids in Yemen (ya know, using British bombs).
Munguin just wanted to say that we support the Catalonians wholeheartedly as they have done for us. We wish them well in these dreadful times and we find their spirit and courage to be inspiring. We really hope they get their vote out in the referendum without violence and that Spain will come to its senses and accept that being a democratic country means that you have to allow democracy.
In the long term, you cannot hold on to something that does not wish to be held.
It’s always brought a smile to my face when British Prime Minister after British Prime Minister has trotted around the world in a self-important manner spouting off about democracy.
Surely, Britain is one of the least truly democratic countries in the West, I thought.
After all, we have an unelected head of state whom we were always told was ceremonial and had no powers at all. It turns out that in truth not only does she and her immediate family have immense influence, she and her eldest son, have real powers which they use to have laws changed.
They also have the use of the Privy Council, which can make declarations in the name of Her Majesty. These are the law with no scrutiny allowed.
Next, the government can use Statutory Instruments, also known as SIs, a form of legislation which allows the provisions of an Act of Parliament to be subsequently brought into force or altered without Parliament having to pass a new Act. They are also referred to as secondary, delegated or subordinate legislation.
Then there is the House of Lords, the second largest legislative chamber in the world (after the National People’s Congress of China… a country of 1.4 billion people). It comprises firstly of 90 hereditary peers, self-selected by the Earls, Viscounts, Marquesses, and Dukes (which we still have in this bastion of democracy). The rest of us are excluded from voting on who these people should be (and once elected by their peers they can remain there until death). Only other hereditary aristocrats have a vote.
A further two hereditaries sit as of right, because of positions they historically hold in the royal household. (It’s already beginning to sound like something dreamt up for an 18th-century comic opera, isn’t it?)
Next in this massive house, are archbishops and bishops of the established church of the state religion. Listen to that: state religion! Finally, there is a rag bag of who knows how many ex-ministers and failed politicians, rich people who have given money to one of the three main parties… and a few oddballs the reason for whose presence can only be wondered at.
Then there is the supposedly democratic part of governance. The Commons, elected by a ridiculous first past the post system which can give an absolute majority on a vote of around 35%, and in which two-thirds of the seats never change hands. And this all underpinned by a party whipping system designed to keep most MPs very firmly on message.
Under this prime minister, we have seen some rather odd and disturbing developments which further undermine the feeble democracy that we have.
Ironically they have come about in the wake of Brexit, which was supposed to return power to parliament from supposedly undemocratic EU institutions, like the council of ministers (comprising of elected ministers from the member states) or the European parliament, elected on a proportional representation system.
The first happened when our ridiculously inept prime minister called a general election to prove that she was strong and stable, expecting to win a thumping majority, and in fact lost the small majority she had inherited from David Cameron. Looking more than a little ridiculous she reached out to someone even more ridiculous: the ex-First Minister of Northern Ireland and leader of the DUP, currently under investigation for the mishandling of a large sum of public money, Arlene Foster.
The DUP agreed to use its 10 members to back the prime minister in certain matters (because of EVEL, Irish MPs cannot vote on any legislation that is England only) in return for £1.5 billion. Pretty much a bribe, using public money…our money!
Next, May decided to “fix” the committee system so that, despite not having a majority in parliament, the Tories would have a majority of members on every important committee in parliament. (Somewhat ridiculously they have more members than any other party on the Scottish Affairs Committee)
Finally, May has brought in and had passed in the Commons, a Bill that will give ministers the right to alter the law without any reference to parliament. The powers have been nick-named Henry VIII powers, after England’s most authoritarian monarch, but many commentators feel that they resemble much more closely The Enabling Act (1933), which allowed Hitler to bypass the Reichstag and rule by ministerial (his) power.
It is a dangerous road to take, and as I said, all the more ironic because, apart from xenophobia, it seems to me that the biggest cries from the popular press were that Britishlaws should be made exclusively by Britishrepresentatives in a British fashion in Britain, mindful of Great British values (whatever they are). And of course that we keep being told that we MUST respect the British people who voted for Brexit.