Wednesday, May 08, 2019

If I were a Rich Man - Update


If I were a rich man,

diddle diddle diddle diddle diddle diddle diddle dum

All day long I'd lobby my MPs
If I were a wealthy man.

I wouldn't have to work hard.
I would offshore all my money in an overseas account
All that tax-free rolling in for me,
If I were a wealthy man.

I'd buy a mansion house with rooms by the dozen
Right in the centre of the town
And lend it out to the Minister's cousin
To make sure he doesn't let me down
There would be one long queue of MPs coming up,
And one even longer going down,
And some sitting round doing nothing, just for show.

I'd pay MPs to ask useful questions
For the Press to see and hear.
They will parrot anything I ask them
Now I have the PMs ear

I wouldn't mind a peerage
diddle diddle diddle diddle diddle diddle diddle dum
Maybe even Royalty for marriage
Once you've got the cash it comes.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Universal Spring

Great to our tiny distant Earth
Which spells out slender spirals in her wake
Our Sun,  Alpha and Omega of life,

Is just a speck within the whirl
Of stars that make the Milky Way
A faint white smear seen through polluted sky

And Milky Way becomes a speck in turn
In the vast matrix of the full array
Of Power that is the Universe

Whose pulses interweave with life
Buried in soil, asleep, waiting the day
That trickles heat into the soft dark earth

And when the cycle turns to certain warmth
Then all the injured forests feel the lengthening day
Reach out their leaves towards the healing Sun

And we, though in our busyness we lose the truth
Yet still the Spring will help us find our way.
The Great moves simply to assist the birth
Of knowledge that could sustain our life.


© Richard Lawson
April 22, 2019

(This set out to be a villanelle, but didn't quite get there.)

Friday, April 12, 2019

Twitter and the cost of Brexit so far

My life is complete today* because I have had 2,300 retweets of a comment I made yesterday after listening to John Humphrys "interviewing" (= having a chat with) David Davis MP on the Today programme. 

2,300 RTs meant that it had been seen by some 236,000 people, 8.5000 had engaged with it in some way. 160 people had commented on it. This level of agreement (and nearly all comments were in agreement) shows a large reservoir of dissatisfaction with Brexit and its cost, with the Today Programme's coverage of Brexit, and their weakness for interviewing David Davis (who is a mate, it seems of Humphrys), and with the BBC. 

 The £66 Billion figure came from an audit by Standard & Poor, who calculate that Brexit has shaved around 3% off the GDP. 

Another £4 Billion comes from making the country ready for NoDeal, and another £1 Billion was the payoff to the DUP (which didn't work, though nobody seems to mention this). 

 So Brexit has actually cost us £71 Billion so far.

As a check, Goldman Sachs reckon that the country loses £600 Million a week because of Brexit preparations. That's £30 Billion a year, £90 Billion over 3 years, with more to come. 

So the figures from the two accounting megastars are about £20 Billion adrift, but let's not fuss over trifles. 

Speaking of trifles, several people mentioned Chris Grayling, but his contribution to Brexit costs, mainly for engaging that freight company with no ships, but this was a modest £33 Million. However, he has, over his illustrious political career, lost a magnificent £2.7 Billion (yes, Billion) through various little slips

Cybnics say we are turning into a banana republic, but that is an outrageous slur. We will never be a banana republic. We are, and will always be, a Banana Monarchy. God Save the Queen. 

 *not really

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Answering the Governments response on the huge ePetition calling for Revoke Article 50

The 5.8 million people who signed the ePetition requesting Government to Revoke Article 50  have received an answer. This is my answer to their response. Feel free to copy and send it to your MP (amended as you see fit) asking the MP to send it on to Stephen Barclay.

To Stephen Barclay MP
Secretary of State
for Exiting the European Union
9 Downing Street
Dear Mr Barclay
I have received your response to the ePetition calling on the Government to Revoke Article 50, and I wish to answer the points on which you base your rejection of our petition.

1.      We will honour the result of the 2016 referendum
The 2016 referendum was deeply flawed.
1.      It was poorly designed – the Swiss, who are expert at referendums, since they have about four of them a year, have criticised the 2016 referendum as poorly designed. Neither was the formulation of the question clear enough, nor had all possible consequences, risks and strategies in the event of a yes or no outcome been discussed beforehand in a thorough manner by scientists and politicians.” – Kaspar Villiger.
2.      The conclusion was based on a simple majority, not a super majority. Constitutional changes should be based on a supermajority. I am aware that it was felt at the time that a super majority would “bake in” the remain option. In view of the trouble that exiting has brought, with Government at a virtual standstill for nearly three years, and a nation deeply divided, this would have been no bad thing.
3.      Victory was based on Lies on a Bus. There is no need to expand this point this further.
4.      There was a huge imbalance of newsprint articles in favour of Leave - Loughborough university calculates that the weighted content was 82% in favour of Leave. This in imbalance undermines democracy.
5.      There was bias in the chosen electorate, with the young and 3 million expatriates being unable to vote.
6.      Foreign money, of unknown origin, channelled via the DUP, put pro-Leave propaganda onto the Metro paper in London a few days before the election.
7.      Cambridge Analytica broke election rules, and played a significant part in the Leave victory.
8.       Swansea University with University of California research finds 150,000 Russian accounts used the #Brexit hashtag.
9.      City University found an army of 13,500 bot Twitter accounts that issued 65,000 mainly pro-leave tweets in the 4 weeks prior to the June 15 vote. They disappeared soon after the vote.
10. first admitted, and then denied, using bots. If the admission is true that calls into question the use of robots in political campaigning. If we accept the denial, the question arises - to whom did the bots belong?
11.  The Electoral Commission found that Aaron Banks broke electoral funding rules.
There are many other details that could be included, but the evidence here is quite enough to show that the design and execution of the 2016 referendum process does not deserve any respect. Therefore its result cannot be respected – although the act citizens in taking part in a democratic process does of course always deserve respect.

2.      Government will “work to deliver an exit which benefits everyone, whether they voted to Leave or to Remain”.
This is an impossible claim. First, it is very clear that the views of the 16.1 million who voted Remain play no part in planning, and indeed our existence is denied in the constantly description of the 2016 vote that you have just repeated. (see below)
Second, exit from the EU cannot benefit any ordinary citizen, since all options across the whole range will make the whole nation poorer, as is demonstrated by Treasury assessments.

3.      “Revoking Article 50…would undermine both our democracy and the trust that millions of voters have placed in Government”.
It is true that democracy is weak in the UK. Distrust in politicians is at a low ebb due to many factors that include the MP expenses scandal, the non-representational nature of our voting systems that means that the vast majority of votes cast have no effect, the antique nature of dress and processes in Westminster, the unelected House of Lords and much else, including the bias of the press towards the Right. Trust in Government is very low already. Carrying on with Brexit, which will be to the advantage of a few canny investors, but to the disbenefit of the majority of ordinary people is hardly going to improve trust in Government.
Admission that Government has made a mistake in calling for the referendum and the way in which it was subsequently handled, followed by many radical reforms of our political system, is needed to begin to restore trust in Government.

4.      It was promised “that the outcome of the referendum would be implemented”.
The referendum was advisory. The promise in the leaflet has no legal status, and is not the first unachievable political promise to go unfulfilled.

5.      17.4 million people voted to leave the European Union, providing the biggest democratic mandate for any course of action ever directed at UK Government.

This 17.4 million figure is used over and over again by politicians in the public arena, and it utterly discounts the 16.1 million who voted to stay. This is dishonest and unacceptable. The majority in the 2016 referendum was 1.3 million – about 2.4% of the electorate, certainly not sufficient to cause enormous economic and political disruption and damage to the nation.

6.      2017 General Election where over 80% of those who voted, voted for parties, including the Opposition, who committed in their manifestos to upholding the result of the referendum.
This argument has no merit. A ruling by the Law Lord, Lord Denning in 1981 said that a manifesto issued by a political party in order to get votes was not to be regarded as gospel. 'Many electors did not vote for the manifesto, they voted for the party.  When a party was returned to power it should consider what it was best to do, and what was practical and fair.'

In conclusion, the huge petition, which stands at 5.8 million at the time of writing, has received a response from the Department for Exiting the EU which is highly questionable. Taken as a whole, it is clear that the debate over whether to leave the EU been divisive and a waste of political time when there are so many important issues such as inequality and climate change to be addressed. It is also clear that Brexit of any kind is not to the benefit of the British nation.
We urge the Government not to persist with a flawed course of action simply because a lot of time has been wasted on it. Pease think again and agree to revoke Article 50.