Renew's very own James Bryan asks: can we get some more experts in here?
Westminster is full of the lousiest pack of blowhards that one could possibly conceive of.
How is it possible, that in a country where there are people working on nanotechnology and data science problems that were completely infeasible ten years ago, we have ended up with these morons in power? This dislike of experts just doesn’t make sense. When you want to make a computer program, you bring in computer programmers, when you want to build a rocket you bring in rocket scientists, when you want to build a quantum computer you consult quantum physicists.
You call in the experts required. And you listen, and you examine, and you cross-compare, and you figure out a way of handling the situation. Before it becomes a ridiculous waste of both time and money.
21st century problems require 21st century solutions.
And if we are going to get anything done we are going to need expertise, carefully applied and thoroughly researched.
No more to traditional politics, the old gods are dead. Let's get some people into politics who can actually get stuff done.
If we're going to live peacefully together as a society going forward in a turbulent and confusing world full of computers and cars and neural networks, then we are going to need the best people for the job.
Less petty squabbling between the major parties.
And plenty of different choices in individual constituencies - but all thoroughly vetted, with at least a few examples of large scale projects they have successfully pulled off.
There really is no replacement for doing your research, but if we all recognise that society is something that is built every single day by amazing people doing incredible feats of science and engineering, as long as we can stay humble in the face of the great powers that we have come to wield, maybe we can create a better future for everyone.
I humbly submit that while I may not personally be anything close to brilliant enough to understand half of what these people are saying, they are describing real things which we are building right now. In a spirit of mutual cooperation and figuring out what the hell is going on, I invite every single expert to start discussing politics like their life depends on it. It probably does.
You know who I think should be our MPs?
Experts in every field; regular people, navigating through our system; teachers; students; parents. Representatives of all areas of society. The future is not going to be built by these out of touch career politicians who still think that economic theory hasn’t progressed beyond the days when politicians talking like characters from Yes Minister was the standard.
Fuck these guys, these guys suck, let’s get some new people please.
Renew's James Bryan airs his frustrations with the current political climate.
We choose representatives to make decisions of national importance, that is the core principle on which our democracy is built. There is a certain level of trust that comes with this level of power, and it has often been the case that politicians have abused that trust.
Taking away the ability of our elected representatives to create policy for five weeks during one of the most politically tumultous times in living memory is at best cynical political manoeuvring and at worst the sort of archaic abuse of power that one would expect of a medieval monarch.
It is certainly not the kind of sensible decision making that one would expect from a logically minded parliamentarian attempting to secure the best possible future for this country.
There is a certain irony in someone who has found themselves in the highest possible position in this country through luck attempting to overrule those who derive their power from an actual mandate.
Whether one believes that the UK should leave the European Union or not, whether one falls on the liberal or conservative side of the ideological spectrum, this is a matter of the political future of the United Kingdom. We, the people, voted for our representatives, and having our Prime Minister take that away is the mark of either a misinformed idiot on a power trip, or a malicious bastard attempting to push through a personal agenda at the expense of this entire country’s future.
Reject the lies, reject the cynical political manoeuvring and don’t let party politics get in the way of securing the best possible future for everyone.
If Mr Johnson disagrees with his fellow MPs then he should argue a coherent position, not shut them out.
No single person has all the answers.
The Royal Prerogative has forced the Prime Minister to go back to the people. That’s a good thing, says Renew supporter John Nucciarone.
British parliamentary democracy maintains, in essence, a balance of power.
As the country changed over the centuries, the balance of power between the monarch, Lords, and Commons did too. In the 1900s, majority governments became the norm, with the executive not only becoming more powerful but also with a higher degree of concentration in the Prime Minister’s office and his special advisors. The checks and balances reserved to not only the Commons but also the Lords and Her Majesty increased in importance. But, as the Commons and Lords are driven by partisan politics, Her Majesty’s powers cannot be re-characterised as only ceremonial by the very people she is meant to provide a check and balance against. Her powers must remain relevant. In the 21st century, they belong to the people.
An unconstitutional prorogation?
The UK constitution is a political constitution, and its conventions have a political dimension to them. That would include Her Majesty’s powers including her right to grant prorogation. The power to deny or grant it rests with her and is neither political or a convention. It is her legal right. The convention that she follows the advice of her PM is only that - a convention. The political aspect comes in when she uses her judgement as to whether to follow the advice or not.
The only way one could argue Her Majesty granting prorogation (and perhaps the advice given by the PM) is unconstitutional is if it eliminates an option MPs would otherwise have had, meaning the Queen is no longer seen as being a check and balance on Parliament, but rather a threat to the Commons.
And then you have to answer the question: did Her Majesty, in granting the prorogation, eliminate the possibility of stopping a no-deal Brexit by legislative means or reducing the amount of days available for a new government to be formed?
A court would also likely take into account the possibility of a No-Confidence Vote being held before the Queen’s Speech has been eliminated. It should then note that the Opposition was unlikely to call for one during the period before prorogation and has been playing tennis with both the government and itself on this issue for over two years.
It is important to note that a court would need to rule that the advice given by the PM and Her Majesty’s decision to grant the prorogation was illegal, as to do otherwise would reduce Her Majesty’s role to that of a figurehead, throwing the rest of the UK constitution into a spin and putting us on the road becoming a Republic. This is not something within the court’s jurisdiction and powers.
More than a pretty crown
Under the guise of not politicising the Queen, a process has started where the Queen is seen as only as a figurehead with no subjective element in her decisionmaking process. This could not be more wrong or unconstitutional.
This reasoning or interpretation of the constitution would enable a PM to request a prorogation beyond 31st October, or linger on after losing a non-confidence vote and another government is ready to be formed. The Queen may rely on her PM to convey an accurate picture of the political landscape, but the final decision still rests with her. For this reason, her advisors at the Palace must be independent of the Prime Minster’s Office.
Her Majesty likely granted this prorogation as a result of thinking that, should the House of Commons wish to finally make itself heard, it can - either by bringing down the government or passing legislation preventing a no-deal Brexit.
Perhaps she is asking them to get on with it if that is what is necessary or desired. Either way, have no doubt that the Queen’s legal powers, including her power to dismiss a PM (after the Commons has acted) now have our Prime Minister considering an election to avoid a No-Confidence vote and the possibility of having to leave Downing Street so soon.
In this piece, Renew member Paul Gerken compares Boris Johnson's proroguing of Parliament to Jafar's control and exploitation of the genie's powers in Aladdin.
As much as our new overlords will try to convince you otherwise: this isn’t normal. As much as our unwritten constitution can’t define the proroguing of Parliament as illegal, it shouldn’t mean that we understand it as a correct resolution to our Brexit crisis. It isn’t.
What Alexander “Boris” Johnson is doing, as an unelected Prime Minister with no mandate, is wielding the monarch’s power in a way usually vested only in those who have been voted for by the majority of the population. Yet within a matter of days of being honoured with these privileges, he has taken those powers and stretched our political fabric to the point of breaking.
He has not acted like a guardian of our institutions and traditions, but a wanton destroyer. This ain’t right; this ain’t OK.
The power of the Prime Minister is eyed enviously by many western democratic leaders. The freedom to act comes from being able to execute many things in the name of the Queen, who still holds ultimate authority. But, like many commentators state, the idea that the Queen will suddenly begin to exercise these powers herself and go against the will of the Prime Minister is for the birds. The Monarch’s power is like the genie in Aladdin; in the hands of the good it can be a force for great success. In the hands of Jafar? Well, all shit breaks loose and the kingdom lies in rubble.
And see how scheming, duplicitous, machiavellian Jafar has got his hands on our genie.
Ladies and gents, if you think BoJo is only going to pull this stunt once, I think you’ll be in for a surprise. Once someone tastes power, they don’t give it up easily. Especially not someone who has committed more backstabbings to get power than those in the entirety of Game of Thrones.
This man, this caricature, has been rewarded at every turn for his deceit and treachery. It was he who turned on his leader and supported leave, just to take down David Cameron. It was he who quit the cabinet, just so he could manoeuvre against Theresa May. And yet his star has continued to rise. He has now retired parliament to push through his own agenda and it’s so far, so good. So why should he change? With every outrageous act, he becomes emboldened.
This is not a man who will later turn around and believe in a genuine parliamentary democracy when the choppy waters of Brexit are cleared. He will do this again and again, unless he is stopped now.
Those that support him should be losing sleep for shame. Rudd, Javid, Hancock and the rest are the squawking parrots to this egomaniac Jafar. The best they can and should do is fly away, whilst Parliament returns to enact its vengeance. And Parliament must unite without equivocation nor hesitation and bring down this man. Once gone, we need to write our constitution to ensure this never happens again.
The genie must be placed firmly back in the bottle.
Renew's Brogan Meaney explains why a no-deal Brexit would be far from patriotic.
The leaked Operation Yellowhammer documents have increased speculation—if it were at all possible—around the fallout from a no-deal Brexit.
Much has been discussed about the source of the leak—a ‘whodunnit’ style witch hunt targeting this so-called unpatriotic attempt to disrupt Brexit. But should we instead be focusing on the document’s contents—what no-deal Brexit scenarios have the government been brewing?
Remainers’ rigid focus on the facts, the statistics and the bitter economic realities of a no-deal Brexit has been our undoing. The reality is daily life won’t really alter for the majority of people, at least not immediately: the average punter won’t observe the limitations caused by food scarcity on supermarket supply-chains, or notice increases in price, or witness the disruption at our ports. Perhaps they won’t even feel the effects of medicine shortages. And this emphasises the ‘Project Fear’ narrative. Without the stark contrast of a pre and post-Brexit Britain, all our facts and statistics, regardless of their ultimate truth, can be viewed as mere scaremongering.
Yet the long-term effects of a no-deal Brexit will be disastrous. The damage to British wealth and national pride will be felt, but gradually. Make no mistake—Brexit will cause a decline in the power of our economy until our superpower status is all but a fond memory.
In light of this, Remainers have failed to present an argument, or a narrative, as emotive and strong as Vote Leave’s. Our obsession with the facts has merely encouraged those with their fingers in their ears to dig them in deeper.
Patriotism and national pride are messages at the forefront of Vote Leave, and have made their way into the no-deal argument. They are concepts that have been stolen and redefined by the government and prominent Leavers to outline their argument and legitimise their rhetoric of ‘leave means leave’. Shouts of: Britain is strong and stable; Britain will survive a no-deal Brexit; The EU needs us more than we need the EU, resonate with many Leave voters. But Brexit, especially the looming specter of a no-deal Brexit, is wholly unpatriotic. We’re poised to throw ourselves off a cliff with no means of return because of a misguided belief in what a no-deal Brexit means for Britain, and for Britain’s place internationally. We’re at a point where it’s considered unpatriotic, and undemocratic, even, to question the authority of the government to leave the EU without a deal, and the wider decision to leave the EU.
But it’s not unpatriotic. What is unpatriotic is to blindly leave our largest trading bloc, irreversibly damaging our economy, because of a referendum result three years ago that was heavily influenced by a campaign based on lies, and from which the terms have completely altered. What is undemocratic is to wholly ignore calls for another referendum, whilst simultaneously suppressing those voices speaking out against Brexit.
Further, no-deal doesn’t mean no-deal ever. It means no-deal, for now. Eventually, we’d have to negotiate with the EU. We’ll crawl back with our tail between our legs, and be forced to pay the billions of pounds we owe in unpaid fees. What misguided conception of national pride has glorified this scenario? Where is the national pride in reducing the reach of our economy? A strong economy needs trade agreements across our globalised world. To limit our trading options does not make us stronger, in fact it does quite the opposite. It will force us into years of trade negotiations with the EU—the Canadian EU trade deal took seven years, whilst Switzerland has been in permanent negotiations with the EU since 1972—and further bureaucratic practises, exactly what Brexit is against.
No-deal is a contradiction. It will perpetuate all the problems it claims to stop. A no-deal will cripple us within a world of superpower economies. A country desperately seeking any deal post-Brexit is not strong, but weak. And it’s not only un-British to promote something so detrimental to our country and its place in the world, but irresponsible, too.
Renew's Brogan Meaney questions the necessity of Caroline Lucas's call for an all-female cabinet.
On Sunday, the Green Party’s very own Caroline Lucas called for an all-female cabinet, sending letters to an all-white group of female leaders across the country. The lack of diversity is apparent, but how helpful is this suggestion of an all women’s cabinet in solving the problems caused by Brexit?
As a woman, any all-female call to arms is appealing. We’re women and we can do anything. And I mean anything. We literally create people. Yet, I’m struggling to see what Caroline Lucas expects to gain from this suggestion, nor how she considers this to be a group of ‘national unity’.
In the era of the struggling Suffragettes, this would have been a radical suggestion. Perhaps it remains one in some circles. But within today’s society, the fight for societal equality cannot be fought bywhite women alone. And Lucas’s dismissal of ethnic and cultural diversity removes any radicality of the suggestion. Powerful and successful women, already prominent figures in politics, ready to save a broken Britain.
All women in politics are faced with difficulties every day. A prime example: when UKIP candidate Carl Benjamin commented, “I wouldn’t even rape her”, about Labour’s Jess Phillips, which caused Phillips to be verbally assaulted in the street and attacked online by Twitter bots and angry men. This comment was made solely because she’s a woman. However, these inequalities are made worse for women of colour. Politics is a professional realm that sometimes resembles a gentlemen’s club, and the scales have been skewed for a long time in mens’ favour. But, to level the playing field, is the suggestion of an all-female cabinet a viable solution?
Simply, no. It would erect further walls and boundaries between social groups. By doing this, we take steps backwards. To actually progress as a species we need to be inclusive of everyone. This means practising equality, despite historical inequalities.
Some would argue that an all-female cabinet could do a better job than Johnson’s government. But the mediocrity of our political system right now should not be used as the standard for future political figures and groups. And just because Lucas’s suggestion might be a step-up from our current government does not mean it’s a step-up for women’s rights in society.
Creating further non-diverse groups to challenge pre-existing inequalities does not reduce them. It merely produces more.
Lucas herself has apologised for the lack of diversity she presented, but her mistake emphasises the importance of getting your language right. We must ensure our actions, and the words we use to express and describe these actions, benefit us all, and actively work to reduce inequalities. Lucas’s all-female alliance does not.
Deputy Leader James Clarke breaks down Renew's approach to a potential general election in the autumn.
We are hurtling towards a climactic moment in UK politics and all interested parties, groups and individuals need to get prepared in short order.
Renew was formed in 2017 by passionate individuals who saw the need for renewal and reform and abandoned their old parties to join us. There have been more ups and downs than we could ever have anticipated, but we arrive in late 2019 in great shape and ready to campaign.
It is also true that we are supported almost exclusively by remainers and 'bregretters', so it is clear that Renew must do everything it can to harness the remain vote and to prevent a harmful Brexit majority in parliament following an autumn election.
In the last two years, we have recruited and trained scores of high-quality candidates and activists: people from outside politics who have become energized by the desire to help steer the UK away from a crisis. For us, the result of the 2016 EU referendum was a symptom of deeper issues, including the failed two-party political system. We think that the solution should include a new party that bridges the gap between career politicians and an increasingly disenchanted electorate.
This autumn election, if it proceeds, is not the election we were planning towards, but we must still participate and contribute to any movement that seeks to bring progressives, grassroots groups and remain parties together.
Renew emphatically supports the project to build a remain alliance, designed to give pro-European parties the best chance of winning seats, we confirm that we are prepared to stand our candidates aside in key constituencies to fight alongside the Liberal Democrats, Green Party, Plaid Cymru and others.
We stood aside in Brecon to help deliver a Conservative seat to the Lib Dems, we joined forces with Change UK in the European elections and we worked with Lib Dems and Greens to select a ‘unity remain’ candidate in Peterborough. We have a track record of cooperation and innovative thinking.
We’re now announcing Renew candidates throughout the UK in anticipation of an Autumn election to signal our willingness to be part of this exciting new approach to politics. All of our candidates have pledged to support a 'remain alliance' candidate in each constituency, whether they are a Renew candidate or the representative of another remain-supporting party. Whatever happens, we will fight to prevent the Conservatives forcing through a damaging no-deal Brexit on October 31st.
With tensions in the country running so high, not everyone will agree with our approach, but we didn’t build Renew to stumble at the first obstacle: we have always strived to be the right people, doing the right things for the right reasons. If that means stepping forward as a candidate, or stepping back to support another, we will do our part.
In a single-issue general election, Renew must play its part and provide a platform for all of those people who want not only to protect the UK from crisis, but also advocate for the kind of reform and renewal required to prevent the next crisis.
Renew member Paul Gerken comments on the fantastical fantasy of 'just believing' in a no deal Brexit.
Did you know that JM Barrie, author of Peter Pan, had to add ‘fairy dust’ as a requirement for the children’s capacity to fly in his novels, due to an uproar from parents? Apparently, up and down the country, children were repeatedly hospitalised after throwing themselves off the edge of their beds, believing all they needed to fly were ‘wonderful thoughts’.
And so, to a no-deal Brexit, a distinct lack of fairy dust, and yet a world of wonderful thoughts - for some at least. For others, we’re already at the point of being at the foot of the bed, several hairline fractures deep and requiring medical attention. Brexiteers, on the contrary, stand perched at the foot of the bed, arms spreadeagled and are thinking… well, what are they thinking?
Ah yes! Trade deals. Yummy scrummy trade deals. They’re going to be so bigly and great and it’s all going to be fine.
Except, obviously, it isn’t. For some, the golden egg of Brexit was akin to a 51st state relationship with the US. We would be hugged tight to the “good ‘ol” (inverted commas required) US of A, and something like… loads of money… would suddenly come our way. Apparently all we would need to do is eat some dodgy chicken, (believe), and everything would be fine. Further details not required.
Spanners in the works come in the form of Congress saying that they absolutely will not entertain a trade deal if the UK jeopardises the Good Friday agreement. Just to join the dots, that means if we leave without a deal, there is certainly no deal with the US around the corner.
Crumbs. Rocks and hard places suddenly getting a little more rockier and a little more harder.
Just believe. Just… deep breath… believe.
Couldn’t we do loads of deals with all those poor countries that will be rich countries one day? Look at their growth rates! Those percentages are much bigger than stupid Belgium. Think about it; we’ll sell them all of our financial service things that they barely know they need yet, and we’re going to be minted! F*ck the fairy dust - I. AM. FLYING!
The trouble, I guess, is that ‘just believing’ in fact involves the very real spending of our money. Alexander Boris Johnson has agreed to spend £2.1 billion on no-deal Brexit planning. To clarify, that isn’t money being spent to protect our economy, jobs and services, its money that we’re - and I’ll use a term from Alex Johnson himself here - ‘spaffing up the wall’ just to try to make the EU believe we’re crazy enough to leave so that… the whole Ireland issue just disappears? I don’t know anymore. I’ve lost the logic, but I guess that’s where we just carry on believing.
Britain is lost at sea with little hope of being rescued, says Renew's Gwen Jones.
Politics is getting noisier. It’s unfashionable nowadays for politicians not to provide an immediate response to events, whether it be glittering praise or seething condemnation. The new politics is loud, brazen and frankly outrageous, and the stately reservation of yesterday seems almost entirely obsolete.
It’s hardly surprising then, that in this kind of climate, silence is confounding. When big things happen, it’s not often that we’re met with...nothing. So when it comes to diplomacy, perhaps we shouldn’t underestimate the immense power of silence. Exhibit A; the response, or glaring lack thereof, from the EU to the UK’s seizure of an Iranian Oil Tanker in the Mediterranean earlier this month.
In light of intelligence that the ship was carrying oil bound for Syria, Gibraltar’s Chief Minister Fabian Picado had seized the tanker aided by the British Royal Marines. The grounds for this, he said, lay with EU sanctions against the Syrian government. According to the British, the 2.1 million barrels of oil onboard the vessel could have been used to power military forces operating alongside Russia in the Hama region of Syria.
Far from a quiet affair. And yet there was nothing to be heard from the EU - no statement, no hat-tip, no nod of gratitude. The fact that this stupefying wall of silence comes from one of our closest allies makes this even more astonishing; even more so considering the UK’s actions were taken in the name of the EU’s very own sanctions.
Another flagrant silence came just a few days later when the Iranian government sent retaliative forces to hound an Isle of Man flagged BP supertanker in the Straight of Hormuz. The British were forced to send a warship to the region in order to accompany their commercial fleet, effectively rendering them complicit in the US’s military strategy to protect the international shipping corridor. The EU again said nothing. This time, their silence reflected a frosty condemnation of the UK’s clumsy attempts to entertain American military operations, undermining the EU’s delicate diplomatic endeavours with Tehran.
And yet, the EU was not the only palpable absence. Despite the US’s initial glee at the UK’s seizure of the Iranian Grace I tanker, Iran’s retaliation was met with trifling support. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo offered only the following response: “The responsibility in the first instance falls to the United Kingdom to take care of their ships. The US has a responsibility to do its part.”
The special relationship with Britain’s supposed closest ally after Brexit is also under strain due to events in the Gulf. While the US is seeking its own international naval coalition to protect against Iranian threats to the Hormuz shipping canal, the UK and several European partners are pursuing their own, which, according to Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, reflects the difference in agendas between Europe and the US with regards to Tehran.
In light of the US’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal - to which the UK remains fully committed - there are concerns over whether the US’s ‘maximum pressure’ campaign of belligerent language, hefty sanctions and military force on Iran is at odds with European objectives.
And thus, the UK finds itself between the proverbial rock and a hard place. Firmly, and perhaps irreconcilably, at odds with one (or both) of its closest and most important international allies. While this may seem like a unique set of circumstances, in fact, the Iran crisis is deeply emblematic of the kind of international support the UK can expect from its neighbours after Brexit. If Britain chooses to succumb to the whims of an ever-more contentious US administration, the wedge between Britain and the EU 27 will continue to grow. And yet, close cooperation from the US would be vital in the otherwise crippling context of a hard Brexit.
All this seems a far cry from the ‘Global Britain’ promised during the run-up to the 2016 referendum. Rather, these are the quandaries of an island nation out all on its own.
Renew Regional Coordinator and prospective parliamentary candidate David Burling gives his take on the damage that Brexit could do to our country.
As October 31st looms large in the window of Command Module “Brexit”, a tricky balance needs to be struck by our leaders to ensure that our country re-enters reality safely. We mustn't crash through the atmosphere into eternal inertia, burning up in the heat caused by division and hatred that appeared after the referendum to leave the European Union.
Already we have seen the value of the Pound drop to its lowest level in two years. With economists talking about “parity with the dollar”, there is a real risk that rhetoric designed to reassure the Tory heartlands is going to have real-world impacts on millions of people across the UK.
A weaker Pound means higher import prices, which means higher food & energy prices, which means higher inflation. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation is already highlighting that the current household income squeeze is as negatively felt like the 1992 or 2008 crises. With the potential of GBP dropping in value, the impact on the poorest in society could be devastating.
The rhetoric around Brexit needs to be measured. Our leaders need to show the responsibility of their office by choosing their words carefully. A 'Do or Die' mentality has no place in pragmatic politics and unpicking forty years of integration and mutual cooperation deserves much more respect than is currently offered.
The current administration has been stuck in an ideological tailspin, arrogantly asserting that it can “deliver Brexit” without the skills or the competence to see it through. Our politicians need to come together to form the necessary structures that will progress this project and deal with it as the infrastructural challenge that it is. If revoking Article 50 is the way to facilitate this, then it should be done without delay.
Brexit is not simply about tearing up a treaty; it is a fundamental change in the way the UK does business with the world. This was a message that was lost during the referendum debate and has been absent from political discourse ever since.
For me, I see this chaos continuing under a Johnson or Hunt administration. I feel we are destined to watch this car crash in slow motion for some time to come.
For another Renew take on Brexit, check out this long read.