Monday, January 14, 2019

Today's Letter to MP about Brexit

Today's letter to my MP about Brexit


John Penrose MP
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA

Many thanks for your very full and thoughtful letter of 7th January.

The Brexit decision is extremely difficult, but I hope we can agree on one point: a “No Deal” Brexit is clearly against the national interest. I hope you can commit unambiguously to speak against a No Deal at every opportunity. Also, the No Deal option should not appear on any “second” (actually, third) referendum.

You mention the “Neverendum” argument that is often rolled out in the media. This argument is hypothetical. If the result was indeed a narrow margin in the order of 52:48 for Remain, then, yes, uncertainty and division would continue, but after two years of incessant media information about the impact of leaving, with or without a deal, the present polls indicate that the result will be a more substantial decision in favour of remaining. As an aside, a better proposition would be Remain and Reform, because the EU does clearly need to undergo substantial changes.

In the absence of No Deal, the referendum can be binary, between the negotiated deal and remain and reform, so the problem you mention of the uncertainty implicit in a three-way decision disappears.

I note the practical difficulties connected with organising a referendum in good time, but we can be confident that a way can be found, especially if constitutionally things get increasingly chaotic in the coming days and weeks. Time is indeed short, but it is probable that Article 50 is going to be delayed whatever happens, so time is not an issue. The referendum campaign does not have to be as long as it was in 2016. We have been listening ad nauseam to arguments for and against Brexit for three years now. The last thing we need is more debate. One A4 sheet of concise summarisation of the points for and against is all we need, and say, a two week notice of when the election will be held.

I do not agree that the opinion polls on the People’s Vote intentions are flaky. If you look here you will see a remarkably consistent increase in the Remain majority since the 2016 referendum; as of 11 January 2019, it stands at Remain 53.6%, Leave 46.4%. We all know that polls can get it wrong, but this is a poll of polls, covering many thousands of responses.

If the People’s Vote did confirm that voters did wish to leave, even by the same tiny margin as in 2016, then we would all have to accept the decision and resign ourselves to our fate. On the other hand, we can be confident that the vote will show that a better informed electorate will vote to remain (and reform) by a margin substantially greater than 52/48.

You mention the oft-deployed media arguments about people resenting their decision being nobbled by metropolitan elites who think people have made the wrong decision and so forth. I do thank you for refraining from using the disgraceful argument that Mr Farage might be out on the streets with his rifle if he does not get his way (despite his having said that a 52/48 result would be “unfinished business”). This kind of pandering to the threat of violence is not worthy of our democracy. People speak often of the 17m who voted Leave, but never mention the 16m who voted remain. We are not violent, but if the result of Brexit is more austerity, you may see a great deal of non-violent direct action from frustrated young Remainers.

The fact is that, as Mrs May’s QC put it, the 2016 referendum was“blemished” by:

1. Lies on a Bus
2. A sustained imbalance of media coverage against the EU and commentary in favour of Leave (I will spare you the details of this, unless you request them)
3. Gross overspending by the Vote Leave campaign that was in breach of electoral law
4. Questionable £8.4m donation to Leave.EU by Arron Banks possibly originating in Russia
5. Theresa May blocking request by MI6 to investigate Arron Banks before referendum
6. Breach by Vote Leave and BeLeave of the 3-day suspension of campaigning after the politically motivated murder of your fellow MP, Jo Cox
7. A billion targeted and illegally financed Facebook Leave advertisements in the last few days of the campaign. (Facebook adverts were seen by 20 million people),
8. Millions of British expats were denied the vote.

The 2016 referendum was deeply flawed. This decision is going to affect the economic well-being, international standing and influence of our nation for many decades – maybe forever. Cabinet makers and tailors have an excellent maxim that is relevant to this situation. They say: “Measure twice, cut once”. It is very clear indeed that we should in this case measure twice before cutting.

We need a People’s Vote on the final deal.

Thank you.

Kind regards

Richard Lawson

Saturday, January 12, 2019


Two diametrically opposed political movements signal that politics is in an extremely delicate state  in 2019. 

In France we have had the sometimes violent Gilets Jaunes demonstrations, partly caused by rising fuel prices, and in the UK* we are seeing the beginning of the  Extinction Rebellion  which calls on Government to take action which entails, among other things, a rise in fuel prices.

How do we square this circle? How do we reduce our CO2 emissions without making life harder for those who are struggling to make ends meet as things stand?

The science of global warming is clear, but the politics of dealing with global warming is anything but clear. 

Electoral politics as currently practiced, involves using the media to persuade the maximum number of your natural supporters that they are going to be better off financially over then next four years if they vote for your party.

Electoral politics does not work for the Green Party. 
First, we are substantially excluded from the national media. The amount of column inches and airtime we are granted falls far short of the 2-3% of the vote that we receive during general elections. 
Second, we are not offering voters more money over the next four years. We are just offering them, together with their children and grandchildren, a safer, more sustainable quality of life. 

I have found in past electoral campaigns that most voters are not interested at all in the quality of life that their grandchildren might or might not experience.

So how exactly are we going to persuade people to take an interest in a sustainable future?

The only way I can see is by pump priming. To prime a pump, you have to give it a bit of water first, so that it will actually be able to do its pumping water thing. In political terms, if you want to get people out of their cars and into more efficient forms of (public)  transport, we have to make public transport cheaper than car travel first of all. When they have seen the point, and jumped aboard the cheaper, cleaner, more frequent and more flexible public transport, only then can we start applying the carbon tax. 

Likewise, when peoples' homes are thoroughly insulated through the efforts of the Green New Deal, then we can apply the Carbon Tax to home heating.

When people have experienced the pleasures of a society that is in full employment, through the Green Wage Subsidy, then they will understand the necessity and rightness of the cyclical economy.

* and six other countries

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Could confusion based on Noel Edmonds' Deal or No Deal sink Britain as a world power?

Yet another letter to my MP

Dear John Penrose,

It is increasingly clear that it will be necessary to hold a second referendum on Brexit in order to extract the nation from the impasse that has developed.

I  ask you to make very sure that the words "No Deal" do not appear in the referendum voting form. Not just because No Deal would be an ill-considered and reckless course of action, but also because many voters are  confused about what No Deal means. In the well-known Noel Edmonds TV show, No Deal means that things play on and the contestant hopes to gain more money. It is possible that this idea will influence a significant number of voters. There is evidence for this in a recent YouGov poll, where the percentage preferences in a second referendum, excluding Don't Knows, are as follows:

If choice is Remain v May’s deal: Remain wins 62-38.

If choice is Remain v No-Deal: Remain wins 57-43

In a 3-way choice:
Remain 54
leaving with No Deal 28
leaving with May’s deal 18

Anecdotal also suggests that misunderstanding about what No Deal means is common.

It is clear from this that while there is a robust preference for Remain, No Deal wins over the negotiated option. People do not appreciate the danger of No Deal. Maybe they are following the maxim "No Deal is better than a Bad Deal". Whatever the reason, if  No Deal appears on the voting slip, we could make a wrong decision that would impact on the future stability of our nation on the basis of a sorry misunderstanding.

I hope this helps

Yours sincerely,

Monday, November 26, 2018

#TakeYourSeat poem

COP24 is an international  gathering coming up in Katowice, Poland, on December 2-14 to discuss the nations' progress towards implementing the Paris Agreement to limit world temperature gain to 1.5C.

David Attenborough is going to represent the voice of the people.
He has asked people on social media to use the hashtag #TakeYourSeat to advise him of people's feelings about global warming.

I made this poem for him:


Dear David Attenborough,

It’s gotta be fun
While we learn how the Sun
Can supply all our need
And we learn how to feed
On veg that’s delicious
As well as nutritious.

It’s gonna be fun
When we talk
While we walk
(even run)
To good work
That we all love to do.
Because, just like you
Green means a good deal
And that’s how we feel,
With constructive employment.
We all get enjoyment
When we find the solution
Means less air pollution.
It’s gonna be fun.

So – no fuss
On the bus,
No pain on the train.
We will all like our bikes.
We will not huff and puff
As we downsize our stuff.
We’ll feel fantastic
When we get rid of plastic
We will feel really good
As we walk in the wood
We’ll stop feeling bitter
As our children get fitter,
We will feel that much wealthier
When our children get healthier
one by one.

It’s gonna be fun.

So don’t make it a chore
In COP24.
Don’t be imperious
Or even dead serious
When you speak to the leaders

(Not even the bleeders
Who say it’s a hoax -
They’re nothing but jokes).

You don’t have to tell them their system is crappy -
You just have to say  
“Let The People Be Happy”.

Richard Lawson
Churchill 24/11/2018