Monday, October 24, 2016

Calais - shame on an incompetent, lazy British Government

The situation at Calais, and before that at Sangatte, is a shame on the British Government and the British people, and to a lesser extent to the French Government.

British Government foreign policy is often (if not always) based on a crude behavioral psychology which aims to apply negative reinforcement (punishment in common parlance) to unwanted behavior. 

The shameful situation at Calais is an example of the punitive approach, as is the failure to honour promises to help children in Calais. It is a neglectful, lazy and anti-humanitarian stance. It is also irrational, because for the punitive approach to work, the UK Government should supply information to people in sending countries stating that they are putting themselves at risk by taking the journey, a 1% risk of drowning, of frustration and virtual imprisonment at places like the Jungle, and that it seems that half the British people and 3/4 of the British Press is now anti-immigrant. 

That at least would be the truth, and would be informing would-be migrants of what they are letting themselves in for. Without this information, the suffering caused by the behavioural policy has no impact on the motivation of the next wave of migrants.

The laziness and incompetence of the Government is shown by the fact that there has been no real effort to "process" Jungle inmates: they are only now taking responsibility for children, and beginning to question and filter people.

The policy has been to render migrants at Calais non-people, with no rights, no future, no use, no humanity. They just exist, to be abused by anyone who wishes: police, right wing commentators, criminals, paedophiles. They are in limbo. 

Humanity says : take them in, children first. Establish their claims to asylum. Tell them they are entering a country where homophobia, child marriage, and FGM is illegal. If necessary, do intensive vetting to screen out covert terrorists. 

Above all, address the causes of migration, that is, war, poverty, human rights abuses and environmental degradation at the highest level and with real political will.

That is how a real, fit for purpose Government should approach the Calais problem, 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Unemployment is a recruiting sergeant for Daesh

Earlier this year, a defector from Daesh (ISIS) produced a database of Daesh recruits in the year 2013-4.

Typically, they are young (mean age 27), single, relatively well-educated, with average understanding of Islam - and *unemployed*. 19% had significant experience of unemployment, and in Arab countries, no employment means no prospects - and therefore no wife. To be unemployed is to be without hope, and therefore it is a fairly easy step from there to joining Daesh, with its promise of a different life as a soldier of the victorious Caliphate.

Also, Daesh is having a recruitment drive in Bosnia, where unemployment is high.

This is not saying that unemployment causes terrorism. But it looks as if it is one factor in people's decision to join Daesh, and therefore politicians should look again at unemployment, not just as an unfortunate side effect of the market economy, but as a dangerous and unacceptable insult to all people of working age,HVDC especially young people. Politicians should understand that there is much good work to be done, and find ways of making sure that unemployed people are helped to do that work. The task in the Middle East must be to capture solar energy and turn it into usable electricity, erect HVDC lines to distribute the energy, to harvest every drop of rain that falls on a roof, to grow food and recycle waste. And that's just for starters.

Green Wage Subsidy is a simple way of turning unemployment into good work.

Unemployment is bad for people, bad for communities, bad for peace and bad for the planet.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

13 reasons that the Brexit vote is not the Democratic Will of the People

Yesterday Sterling fell to a 168-year low as Parliament was trying to discuss Brexit.
Brexiters repeat their mantra: it is the Democratic Will of the People.
Brexit is not the Will of the People; it is just a deeply flawed advisory referendum.
Here are the flaws:

  1. The referendum result was designed to be based on a simple majority. If 17,000,001 had voted for Brexit, and 16,999,999 had voted to Remain, Theresa May would still be running round in circles shouting "Brexit means Brexit".

    The fact is that to change the constitution of the local tennis club or any other group, it is normal to demand a supermajority, as for instance, 67% against 33%.
  2. 17.4 million voted for Brexit, but 16.1 million voted to Remain. The majority was therefore 1.3 million votes. 1,269,501 to be exact, out of an electorate of 46,499,537. That is 2.7% of the electorate. 2.7% is hardly the Will of the People. It is more like the Will of 2.7% of the People.
  3. Before the election, Farage said that a 48/52 result would be "unfinished business" in his view. Not one broadcaster or journalists has raised this with him after the election.
  4. The Brexit vote was won on the basis of lies such as "£350 million a week for the NHS". These lies set a precedent for undermining the accuracy of information in future elections, which in itself undermines democracy. Promises about freedom of movement and fish quotas by the Leave campaign were also abandoned after the referendum
  5. In the 2015 General election, the Green Party of England and Wales got 1,157,613 votes - pretty much the same as the Referendum majority.
    The 1m Green voters were rewarded with 1 (one) MP.
    The 1m Leave voters were rewarded with the biggest plunge into constitutional and economic unknowns in UK history.
    All votes are equal, but some votes are more equal than others, it seems.
  6. 1.2 million Brits living in the EU were denied a chance to vote in the Referendum. If they had been given a voice, the chances are that the margin would have been even more slender, because many of them are dismayed by the result.
  7. 1.5 million 16-17 year olds were denied a vote, unlike the Scottish Referendum
  8. The terms of the Brexit deal were not known. We have a right to vote on the terms
  9. Strict spending limits were spent on campaigning groups, but none on the 5 anti-EU billionaires who own 3/4 of the news readership, who were able to benefit for £millions of free advertorial space
  10. 40% of voters knew nothing about EU democracy
  11. Revisions of referendum decisions when the results and implication are known have a long series of precedents going back to ancient Greece
  12. The referendum was stated to be advisory, but is now being treated as mandatory by Brexiters
  13. 6% of Leave voters now regret their decision to vote Leave. (Scroll down to th eheading Regrets? we've had a few)

[points 7-12 are sourced from the excellent Donnachad McCarthy's equally excellent book]

Still, never mind - it may never happen: