Tag Archives: Brexit

Polarisation, populism, and pessimism – the causes of Brexit and how to address them

18 May

Next week, Britain goes to the polls to elect its representatives in the European Parliament. It’s an election that shouldn’t really be happening: if all had gone to the Brexiteers’ plan, we’d be out of Europe by now. But Parliament’s understandable failure to unscramble the eggs from the omelette before March 31 means it’s off to the booths we go.

And one of the greatest ironies of the Brexit fiasco is that we’ll be doing it with far more enthusiasm than we ever showed for European elections when we were still fully-subscribed members of the club.

If predictions are correct the Brexit Party, buoyed by the anger of frustrated Brexit supporters from across the party political spectrum, will romp home, taking their seats at a Parliament in which they have no real desire to sit.

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Democracy and its Crisis

9 May

A. C. Grayling at Swindon festival of Literature

A. C. Grayling at Swindon Festival of Literature

A. C. Grayling took a packed and attentive audience right back to Plato when explaining about democracy.

The country was originally controlled by the aristocracy, where the King had absolute power given to him by divine right. Giving power to an ill informed public would result in anarchy and mob rule.

When Charles I was beheaded in 1649, a great change began in the idea of where authority lies and its source. The Levellers wanted the poorest in England to have as much right to a voice as the richest, with each individual (man) able to play a part in having a good enough government.

Over the next 200 years, thinkers such as John Locke and John Mills considered how to ensure a good enough government. i.e. vote someone competent to work on your behalf, listen to the facts and work in the best interests of the country..

However as more people got the vote, political parties emerged with their own agenda. MPs now had to obey the Whip, rebel and the party withdraws support for further re-election and the MPs career would be over. The tight control of the parties results in the institution being manipulated.

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Let’s make a benign UKIP!

11 May

Catherine Mayer © Calyx Picture Agency

MEN! THIS IS FOR YOU!

After the local elections in May 2017, Catherine Mayer hoped to have time to reflect, space to promote her book on women’s equality (Attack of the 50FT Women) and perhaps write the next one, she told us at Swindon Festival of Literature.

But then in April,  a 50FT woman got in the way. Theresa May called a snap election.

As president of the Women’s Equality Party (WEP), a woman PM should please Catherine. And in a way it does. But not when Mrs May talks about girl’s and boy’s jobs on BBC 1’s flagship magazine programme, The One Show. This kind of thing is why Catherine accidentally began WEP.

In 2015, at London’s WOW Festival, Catherine made a ‘rambling’ speech about 9 million women staying away from that year’s general election ballot box, and the achievements of UKIP. Despite returning just one MP – small fry for the 25 per cent share of vote – UKIP were still instrumental in Britain beginning the process of leaving the EU. Despite herself a Remainer – for the equal rights brought about by the EU – she said ‘UKIP taught us important lessons. Popularity can cause seismic change.’

So, she joked, ‘Let’s be a benign UKIP.’ Continue reading

From cuneiform to graffiti – Swindon Festival of Literature has all writing bases covered

16 Mar

As Swindon Festival of Literature inches towards its quarter century, different methods of written communication – from the oldest to the very recent – will be celebrated this year.

Unveiling the 2017 programme at Swindon Library today (Thursday, March 16) festival director Matt Holland mused on how the way we use writing to communicate our thoughts is changing.

“In a digital world where the currency of topical commentary can be successfully and powerfully compressed into 140 characters – definitely a great method of instant communication – the book is still doing remarkably well,” he said. Continue reading