Bristling Brock speaks out...


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So, the proposed Withdrawal Agreement proposed by the Johnson government has been, yet again, pushed further down the ever extending timetable of the Brexit saga.

Those who would Remain in this tale of fevered dispute are, presumably, very pleased that the vote against the government favoured their position of never ending delay ultimately leading to the revocation of Article 50 and a resumption of full EU membership.  Those that would Leave are most likely chewing bricks and spitting frustration and disbelief that the prospect of an immediate solution to ‘leaving’ (albeit one that was by no means ideal) has yet again been sabotaged by parliamentary technicalities and a House of Commons with an extremely self-centred focus.

The very fact that there is such a fight going on over Brexit is testimony to the polar extremes to which British communities have gravitated.  Bitterness, frustration, anger and incredulity mingle with the perceived notions of which course of action is better for Britain - in or out.  The fact that the 2016 referendum result still stands in law has become irrelevant as parliament has displayed an egregious capacity for flexing legal interpretations and instituting laws of its own which inhibit the means to bring the Brexit tale to some sort of conclusion.  That law is being flouted so openly shouldn’t really surprise us, for we see it all around us every day with a broadening disrespect for adherence to common law in both our communities and in parliament.  One persons law has become ‘floutable’ by just about anyone who wishes to disregard it.  In short, the integrity and absolute pre-eminence of law and abidance to it has diminished progressively across the country.  So if Parliament twists and turns the laws of the land to suit vested interest arguments, again, there should be no surprise.  It has, after all, always gone on - we just haven’t been that bothered about it until Brexit came along.

And what of the Johnson proposed agreement ?  It was markedly better than the product that Theresa May came up with but it still fell short of fulfilling everyone’s expectations.  And therein lies the problem.  Such an agreement could never address every single concern from the corners of the nation, every doubt, every niggle, every angled and technical demand.  Even Aristotle would have failed to achieve that.  What it could have been was a method to bring Brexit to a conclusion in a way that gave the country latitude to adjust to life outside of the EU with the beginnings of trade deals being brokered around the world whilst enabling business, industry and communities time to realign themselves in keeping with the frameworks of the agreement.  It would have been a gate opener for business that could have defined their operating positions clearly and enabled decisions on adjustment, investment and productivity to be taken.  It would have been the means by which the aching tooth of the population could have been extracted, a finality to the endless squabbling, acrimony and nastiness that has crept into our very souls, an end to the uncertainty and an end to the media frenzy that has pervaded everyone’s life for the last three and a half years.  This might sound glib, but we should not underestimate the psychological advantage of removing the Brexit albatross from around Britain’s neck and clearing the pathway for moving on.  Moving on wholly on British terms was never going to happen and it is naive to imagine the EU will bend over backwards even more to accommodate the bizarre and expectation all demands of the Labour Party and others.  To leave and secure battle space for future negotiations (on trade and other bilateral areas of interest) was the very essence of the Johnson proposal.  It would have been the way to get the job done, clear enough to start meaningful trade talks and, most significantly, reenergise the country with a mission that everyone had an interest in making it succeed.  Again, in short, we have blown a key opportunity in trouncing Johnson’s proposal.  We should be collectively ashamed that it’s delay and frustration has been allowed to happen.

But, of course, let us not forget that parliament wants to thwart Brexit lock, stock and barrel.  The Labour Party want to kill it, the LibDems want to kill it, the SNP want to kill it, the Greens want to kill it and doubtless the DUP and most of Ireland wants to kill it.  Yet who is it with all these death wishes toward Brexit ? None other than our erstwhile politicians and parliamentarians, that corrupted and disconnected bunch of non-qualified representatives that the wholly antiquated and unrealistic first past the post voting system permits to enter the Commons.   That we have allowed such people to be in charge of this process is unforgivable.  If you were the CEO of a big company making decisive judgements on a course of action, would you seriously allow people like our MP’s anywhere near the boardroom ?  Of course you wouldn’t.  But Party loyalties, career opportunities and vested interest pervade the very stones of Parliament.  And look what a dogs dinner they are making of Brexit, not least in their total disregard of the referendum result.

Brexit will never reach a conclusion without brave and possibly painful choices being taken.  Regrettably, with our Parliament, there is little chance of wise, brave and selfless decisions being made - only those that suit the Party Politic.


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Well, the Queen’s Speech has now been delivered.  Some argue that it’s a political campaign bit of propaganda whilst others see it as a catalogue of decisive and powerful initiatives designed to transform Britain at economic, social and industrial levels.  Whilst the Queen herself has to keep something of a dead-pan tone to her speech delivery in situations like this, behind the narrative is something we haven’t seen in British politics since Mrs Thatcher stalked Downing Street - and that is passion, verve and expectation.  And whilst Bristling Brock holds no torch for any current political group in this country, it is refreshing, even uplifting to hear the Prime Minister speak with gusto, conviction and a sense of pride in what is being proposed.  There is no evidence anywhere else in our rusty and corrupted parliamentary system that throws up any individual, from any political party, that is able to speak with the same passions, beliefs and values.  I’ll give the PM full marks on that exam paper.

Now it is equally the case that much of the speech content is unlikely to reach the statute book.  By a mixture of parliamentary arithmetic and an almost feral desire amongst the Opposition parties to vote against anything the PM puts before parliament, much of this potential legislation will be blasted by our arcane parliamentary system and its equally arcane members.  But that should not deter the rest of us from holding the vision of a glass half full rather than one half empty.  The months and even years ahead will undoubtedly be problematic in many areas - it has ever been thus long before Brexit was ever mooted - yet if we approach our future with gloom and doom in our minds then that will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.  If we have belief in our national capacity to overcome difficulties and turn them into opportunities then we will at least be approaching the future positively and with an attitude that is constructive rather than destructive.  It is difficult, nonetheless, when surrounded by doomsayers and negative opposition politicians who endlessly bleat on about disaster.  Disaster will come to those who wish it.  Where is the pride in our national ability, where is the confidence in a future that can be made to succeed, where is the calibre of political leadership that this country’s Opposition needs, where are the genuine, sincere and passionate souls, who may hold different views to those of the government, but can recognise the moment when cheap political point scoring in a chamber of errant juveniles is not the way forward ?  They are nowhere to be seen on the Opposition benches for sure.  There lies the tragedy of our politics - the wrong people in the wrong place in the wrong moment in time.  The time to rid parliament of these so called politicians is long overdue.

President Trump is an extraordinary character.  He certainly courts controversy, and his literary capacities sound like the outbursts of an Ayatollah rather than that of the so called leader of the free world.  Those of rational mind and considered thought will likely never quite understand the train of thinking that goes on beneath that hair lacquered straw thatch but what is a constant in his utterances is his commitment to the ’America First’ ethos.  Whether that is behind his decision to withdraw from the Syrian conflict and let the bandit Erdogan have his unfettered way with the Kurds we will likely never know.  We must presume that there may be a reason why this sudden and death dealing decision has been made - for the greater good ?  Frankly, it is hard to recognise the greater good in America at this time, after all, they are pursuing ‘America First’ and to hell with the rest of the world.  On a certain level if that is the policy then there is some sort of weird logic to it, but nobody believes it really.

The Scots are rebelling - again !  If we believe Nicola Sturdylegs then Scotland is now emphatically in favour of independence and needs to disconnect itself from the perfidious machinations of the rest of the United Kingdom.  Good luck with that.  It would be interesting to see how many in England would breath a sigh of relief were they to ‘go’ and it would be interesting also to see how many saw the Union as being something that has a clear role for the future.  Change is afoot whether we like it or not, and holding on to a Union such as we have for historical and traditional reasons is great for the historically minded (including Bristling Brock) but may not be so great for the future well being of the nation states it embraces.  Maybe we should have a referendum upon that ?  BB suspects that will never happen....just a wild thought !

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As a complex argument gets batted back and forth it is sometimes salutary to stand back for a while and review what is going on and where the outcome might fall with as objective a pair of eyes as it is possible for most of us mere mortals.

Brexit or no Brexit or, something in the middle with a flabby, loquacious (and largely meaningless) pledge about compromise or concession.  These are the pressing options Britain is facing up to as the clock ticks on toward its prescribed final moment on 31st October.  And the trouble is - naturally - that we are no nearer any consensus on a course of action now than we were three and a half years ago.  The arguments for, against and middle ground go around and around but never quite touch base.   And to add to this connundrum, everyone in the country is having their say in ways that prolong the process to the bitter end.   So, we might ask, what has caused this most extraordinary division of impassioned feeling in Britain ?

Perhaps the simplest answer is a one worder: Referendum.  The idea that on certain, specified matters, the course of a nations future strategy can be or should be determined by a mass public vote appeals to the very roots of a sense of democratic involvement and practise.  After all, don't we British espouse constantly the very freedoms that democracy encompasses ?  So why not have referendums, the retort might be, permitting the people to have their say ?   This is where the problem might begin to occur because as a nation we are extremely diverse in social, economic and political thinking, all of which influence our outlooks and preferences, our values and underpinning belief in ourselves as a nation state.  Let's consider quite what we are - for good or bad - so that we might begin to recognise this immense scope of diversity...

We are a kingdom, with a monarch and a parliamentary system of applying governance.  We have a constitution that is not written down - anywhere - and one that was forged in an era of nation building almost a thousand years ago.  It is imprecise, it is often dictated by historical convention and precedent, and, perhaps above all, it is interpretable with no absolute definitions of objective.  We are a grouping of four quite different national entities - the English, the Scots, the Welsh and the (Northern) Irish - all of whom have historically grown from different external influences which have imbued those nations with quite different national characteristics.  We have a distinct north-south cultural divide exaggerated by economic bias and we have an economic cycle once dominated by industrial manufacturing that is now dominated by a less well prescribed service sector where the transience of employment is a hallmark of new and highly mobile social structures.   The list may easily go on and on, but those above possibly highlight that the very notion of achieving consensus through the mechanics of a public referendum is pretty unlikely.  In short, we are never likely to see a definitive choice in a political referendum.  We will remain divided and we will remain encamped within our own perceptions of the 'tribe' we think we belong to.  It is human nature to wish to belong to something, so posing a huge and life-changing political decision upon such a broad spectrum of our population is almost certainly going to produce opposing camps around all points of the compass.  And it has ! 

A second referendum on Brexit would achieve the same outcomes - division, resistance, hostility, endless discourse and positioning and a fracturing of the political process.  Whilst we have the political and parliamentary systems we have, this is counter-productive and resolves nothing and though some of us might aspire to significant reform of that political machinery we are some way off that becoming a meaningful course that might have solutions to the eternal Brexit issue.   As the saying oes, 'we are where we are'.

How Britain might satisfactorily tackle these current challenges is, of course, the stuff of sleepless nights and deep thinking by those we entrust to lead and govern.  Not everything they do will be to our liking, sometimes they will do stupid things and sometimes they will do the right thing.  They are human like the rest of us with all the same frailties but unless we stand with our government to enable them to push a way forward without daggers being drawn at their backs, the process will not advance and we will default to the wish of the most vocal and organised factions of opposition to Brexit.  And that is not in the spirit or intent of democracy.   Brexit is mainly about our vision of democracy.  It embraces many other collateral feelings alongside, but the root of it lies in our expectations of what democracy delivers to the people.  If Brexit fails - for whatever reason - then we have failed in upholding our interpretation of British democracy and we will all be the worse for it.  Whilst deciding such matters through public referenda is crucially flawed, we do now need to get done what has to be done and learn from this episode of chaos not to repeat it again.  To repeat, 'we are where we are', so let us handle where we are with vigour and purpose and deliver that which was mandated.

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