Saturday, 5 November 2016

Enemies of the People?

Check out this link and this film

The Donald

It is easy to see why Donald (in my opinion hateful, ignorant, bullying, manipulative, deceptive) Trump has so much support in America. He, like the right-wing press in Britain, presses buttons that tap into the fears of people who have suffered as a result of the current capitalist system, a system which is increasingly widening the gap between haves and have-nots. Trump triggers fear and discontent in disaffected groups. But I am 100% convinced that he will do nothing, if elected, to help the plight of the working classes of America; on the contrary he will continue to be the person he has always been and, as President of the “richest” country on Planet Earth, he will be a very dangerous role model for the future of civilised humanity. This 11-minute link (here) is an effective piece of rhetoric that sums him up, I think, and well worth watching if you have a vote in the forthcoming American election.

The (in my opinion hate-mongering, thuggish) Daily Mail

I wish my own country was immune from the “Donald effect.” Sadly the right-wing press have shown what a pervasive and twisted bunch they can be. History tells us that parliament SHOULD have collective responsibility for major decisions that affect the UK and our standing in the world. I had reconciled myself to being one of the 48% Remainers after “losing” the EU referendum vote on 23rd June 2016 and have waited (patiently) to see what would happen next – and when…. So I waited…. And waited…. Over four months later there is still little clarity and much uncertainty about what will happen. So I welcomed the high court judges ruling that parliament should debate the details prior to triggering Article 50. After all, isn’t that what the Brexit vote was about? Taking back control! We took back control to…. The cabinet? Rather than parliament? Surely what the judges have done is absolutely what the Bexiters voted for…. Brought sovereignty back to the UK parliament….

Delicious Irony and Warning from Recent History

Wouldn’t it be a delicious irony if the Supreme Court rejects the government’s appeal and Theresa May has to go the European Court to appeal? In the meantime, here is an extract from a very recent cross-party interview following up the Chilcot report and the criticisms against Tony Blair for taking the country to war in Iraq:
Laurence Robertson, a Conservative, to Chilcot, Chair of the Enquiry Report: “What is your single most important finding?”
Chilcot: “….it was a failure to exercise collective responsibility for a very big decision.”
It’s worth remembering that the biggest accusation against Tony Blair is that he acted without consulting parliament. It would be a dangerous precedent to allow government to act unilaterally without a robust debate amongst our elected representatives in parliament. All the high court judges have asked for is that Brexit is debated and confirmed by parliament.

(Wilfully) Muddled Media

There are flaws in much of the right-wing press coverage of the high court judges’ ruling:
  • The Daily Telegraph (who should know better) states “This is a political dispute to be settled in parliament, not by judges,” seemingly misunderstanding that that is the whole point of the ruling, that parliament debates the Brexit terms…. 
  • The Daily Express (who is generally hysterical on its best days) compared the judges’ decision to “dark days when Churchill vowed we would fight them on the beaches” – a gross insult to all soldiers who fought in the world wars, I think 
  • The Sun (who I shouldn’t really give blog space but….) complained about one of the judges being a “foreign-born millionaire,” seemingly forgetting that The Sun itself is ruthlessly run by a foreign-born multi-millionaire   
  • But The Daily Mail had the headline that most infuriated me – Enemies of the People because the judges are in fact Friends of the People; their judgement stops authoritarian tyranny and puts elected MPs at the heart of negotiating the terms of Brexit i.e. representatives of ALL the people, not just the self-selected government ministers (chosen by a non-elected Prime Minister) who are all obfuscating what is going to happen, desperately hoping people are too stupid to notice and banking on the (right-wing) Media to inflame false claims.
Take back control into the UK parliament, said the Brexiters – and that’s what the judges have ruled.

Dr Thomas Stockmann

The main inspiration for this blog, though, is that the heinous Daily Mail bastardised and misunderstood the phrase Enemy of the People, made famous by a writer who is my Number Two (after Shakespeare.) If the journalists, copy editors or editors had half a brain they should know that the great Henrik Ibsen’s play An Enemy of the People refers to Stockmann who is an anti-hero in the great tradition of an individual who stands up to the baying mob and speaks truth to power. He exposes the environmental disaster that is about to engulf his town in opposition to the authorities and the moneyed classes. Stockmann is the opposite of an Enemy of the People. A key theme of the play is how the town is manipulated by those in power – just as, I think, the readers are manipulated by these dangerous headlines and just as the Brexiteers are trying to hide their lack of plans in the face of the complicated realities of “taking back control.”
Great hero of mine: Henrik Ibsen