14 January 2018

Framing Brexit

The Remain narrative failure..

I can hardly believe this is my first blog post about brexit. Maybe it's always felt too big a subject with so much that needs saying. Possibly it's because so many fantastic people are already saying much of what I would, and saying it better. Maybe it's that I spend too much time on Twitter (@Untidy_mind) arguing about it. But, there is one aspect I don't see much comment on that really needs saying.

It's this: the Remain campaign is widely criticised for having let the other side control the narrative (amongst other failures). So why are campaigners still doing this?

The fight to try and change direction from that set in June 2016 continues to make the same mistake.

Remain campaigners continue to boost the Leave narratives.

This post looks at one example of this - the financial settlement. My next post will look at the idea of another referendum.

When the government announced it had reached an agreement on the financial issue, there was a lot of noise from Remain campaigners. Did they point out that common sense had prevailed? Some did, but not many. Did they point out how this should have been settled ages ago and only wasn't because of delusions of the Brexit cheerleaders? Again, some did but it wasn't the over-riding message.

No, the most common refrains we heard were "we were told Brexit would make us richer, but it is now costing us billions" and "the UK has caved in to EU demands. So much for they need us more than we need them!".

Why was this wrong?

"Brexit is now costing us money." The leavers have always claimed that the EU cost us a lot and wasn't worth it. This was always a load of crap. Why then would we feed the narrative of the EU being an unecessary cost - even when we try to leave?

"We caved in to their demands." The other Leave narrative was a warped portrayal of sovereignty, of being bullied and told what to do by the EU (rather than participating in it's decisions as an influential member). I really don't think I need to point out how the 'caving in to demands' response feeds in to this narrative.

The worst thing about all this is that is that the response just doesn't match reality. So how should we have responded? 

What narratives do we want to create?

This agreement is a massive "well, about time." The delusion and lack of understanding of the hardline Brexiter's (who have led team Brexit) were the only reason why we hadn't.

Leave's leaders need to be discredited - and it shouldn't be that hard to do! On this issue it starts by challenging the flawed narrative of an exit 'bill'. There is no 'bill' to leave, and this is what the brexit headbangers never understood - they were stuck in a victim mentality of their own creation. 

A cost to leave was never being discussed, that our media has continued to call it this and failed to explain what was, is a huge failure of journalism. The discussion was about what happens with the existing funding agreements that the UK had already signed up to.

This is about money that was always committed to EU projects, whether we leave or not. It is not due because we are leaving. The reason this agreement was inevitable is because the UK is not a crackpot country that refuses to follow through with its commitments, not because the UK is at the mercy of a bullying EU.  We made commitments to our partners, and breaking them would damage our reputation internationally. Brexit is damaging this enough already.
Leavers who argued for no financial agreement should be mercilessly criticised for trying to destroy our international reputation. No matter what your politics, nearly everyone sees the UK as (or wants the UK to be) a mature, responsible member of the international community.

The damage being done to our global reputation by Brexit and it's leaders is real and must be our message.

So, there is no playground bully demand from the EU for money to 'get out'. There never was. But, more importantly this is not a competition between UK and EU negotiators. They are (or should) be looking for the least worst way of the UK leaving. That is how the EU negotiators, diplomats and member state leaders constantly describe it. There may be a time, if we become a third country, where we will be competitors and not partners, but that is all down to the UK and our choices.

We must highlight how these negotiations are all about damage limitation. There is no positive outcome for anyone.

The idea that the EU 'got it's way' is wrong. We all lose from this. The agreement is the least worst option for both the UK and EU. We agreed to continue making the financial contributions we have already agreed to. We will also continue to benefit from the programs that this money funds. We make the agreed payments, we play by the already agreed rules (which are themselves a benefit to business), and continue to realise the value of our investment. The agreement is about continuing a positive decision we made: it needn't be the last time we do so.

Remainers should have used this as an opportunity to highlight the value of our EU contributions.

And, that is the point. Our EU payments were always a valuable investment. This was a chance to show that our collaboration with EU partners is beneficial. The EU and the UK agreed to continue, for a bit longer, it's mutually beneficial arrangements; we could choose not to end them at all.

Lets not collude in the fictitious narrative of the bullying EU.

We must avoid feeding the Brexit monster . 

14 April 2017


So looking through old emails I found a copy of this, which I sent to my then employer about their decision to ask us all to participate in a an MBTI test as part of a team-building exercise.

Having read about, and discussed this with people in the past, and come to the conclusion it is a load of old rubbish, I was naturally slightly disappointed, and disinclined to participate.

I thought my response was interesting enough to share here with people, so here it is.
Note. The company name has obviously been removed - but they were very understanding of my position - though no doubt felt I was making a big fuss about nothing and went ahead anyway - without me of course. Also, the last sentence is meant as an ironic joke... just in case you thought I was being hypocritical. 

7 March 2017

Dubbed up

I've given my MP a hard time previously for how she has voted in parliament and her explanations after the fact. (here, and here). So it's nice to be able to applaud her.

5 March 2017

Inhumane shield

screamed the news (and screaming is usually the right adjective for the news these days) after the House of Lords voted for an amendment to the government's article 50 bill. But was it really?

23 February 2017

Lording it up

The Lords are at it again - sticking their unelected noses in to the business of the Commons. How dare they oppose the elected chamber. Well, so those who support Brexit-at-any-cost will tell us - ironically most of which are the same bunch who had no interest in, or actively opposed, changing the unelected nature of the Lords.

But this isn't going to be a Bexit post. Nope, there's so much that could be said but I'll leave that for another day. No, what's bothered me here is the number of people who have yet again come out of the woodwork to talk about the importance of the House of Lords as a 'place of expertise' who's role is to scrutinise and amend government policy, but to leave the job of challenging government policy to the elected House of Commons. Both of these assertions bother me, but for reasons which are not necessarily the ones often mooted.

10 February 2017

Heidi shambles - a follow up

So following my last post about Rt. Hon. Heidi Allen's rather poor (IMO) response to concerned constituents, the Article 50 bill and her intentions towards it things have moved on and we now know how the Commons reacted. So where do we stand in relation to what I had said before?

7 February 2017

An open response to my MP, Heidi Allen

My MP, the Rt. Hon. Heidi Allen, recently posted this response to herviews on the vote for Article 50 (she voted for it) and begin the process of leaving the EU. This is a standard response she has been sending out to anyone asking her about her position on Brexit and A50 - and I have to say, one I find woefully lacking and rather confused.

12 July 2016

General Election logic - the Bad and the Good

So Theresa May has won the leadership contest with support from just a tiny tiny minority of the British public - specifically those who are Conservative MP's. Like all good believers in democracy I should by all rights be outraged that she will now become our new Prime Minister on such a flimsy election process (if you can even call surviving just a few rounds of political 'it's a knockout' an election process). Like many I should be crying that it is undemocratic, that she has 'No Mandate' to be PM!

But I won't be. For a very good reason.

19 June 2016

Looking in the mirror

As so many people have already said the murder of Jo Cox is above all a deep tragedy for her family and friends. I can't (and selfishly, glad I can't) know how awful it must be for them, how much this will affect their lives (especially her young children who will now grow up without her), and they have my deepest sympathies. I hope above all they can find space within the media storm to come to terms with what has happened in their own way.

But I am not counted in that number (from all accounts of who she was, to my significant loss) and it would be dishonest of me to say I feel deeply her loss. I am therefore surprised by how personal her murder has felt, something I can only attribute to the fact that it feels like an attack on my own values. These are the only aspects which I feel any legitimate right to comment on. This is going to be a bit rambly and unstructured. But maybe that's fitting.

24 October 2015

Stitching up our democracy

You may have missed it, but the Tory's just broke democracy for England, and stuck two fingers up to the idea that the devolved nations can play a real part in deciding the future of the UK union they belong to.

The West Lothian problem, the situation where legislation that affects only England can be voted on in parliament by Scottish, Welsh and N.Irish MP's (whose constituencies are unaffected by such decisions due to having devolved parliaments), is a rather unsightly crack in our democratic framework.