Keir Starmer’s Speech Today

This speech reminds us that English democracy is not gone, that there are moral people still around, and that we need to get the current Tory government out of power and go back to having leadership worthy of respect.

When you are at events you listen to speech after speech, and they meld into each other. Occasionally you hear speeches that stand out and are worth sharing. This is one of them. It reflects values that have recently been lost in several countries. We need to revert to good moral values. Pandemics are a marathon, not a sprint.

An emotional BREXIT

An emotional BREXIT

The More I think about BREXIT and the more I think that those of us, like me, who see themselves as British Europeans the more the BREXIT referendum is painful. BREXIT is painful for us because we are born in one country but we are nationals of at least two or three nations. We cannot call ourselves British because we went to uni but not school so we have not picked up that culture. We visited family on holidays but we are not locals. I believe that a high percentage of my generation went to uni in England probably worked at least temporarily before leaving again.

As Europe based brits we remember when we were thinking about which universities we would go to and we thought about whether we would have home fees / Europe fees or international fees. At the time the difference was from 1000 GBP to more than 7000 GBP, excluding all other costs. That does shape whether you go to university as well as when. As an EU citizen living in Switzerland I always have the frustration of counting as an EU rather than British citizen and if I am really unlucky because of the current mood of politicians then I end up on international fees. In theory that is no longer an issue.

Another aspect that I rarely see discussed in BREXIT discussions is that of emigrating from the UK to find jobs. In the post I shared a few days ago I had seen that several industries that were in Northern England migrated to France, Germany and other EU countries. In theory those who say they lost their jobs could migrate to continue doing the job that they enjoy. the European Union provides people with the opportunity to study, work and more with great freedom. The only challenge is to learn the local language. In Switzerland we see that Brits and other English speakers spend twenty years in the country without becoming fluent.

At this moment in time we can travel from any country in Europe to any other country in Europe without a second thought. I really appreciate this freedom. My friendships and activities revolve around spending time with emigrants. I could use the word expat but it does not feel like an accurate portrayal of our identity. I was brought up in the international community where everyone is a migrant so see ourselves as citizens of the world. In this sense at least the International Baccalaureate has achieved its goal.

BREXIT is a direct attack on the identity that friends, colleagues, family and fellow citizens of the world have. We can see endless opportunities as long as we are willing to travel, as long as we are willing to re-skill and as long as we are willing to adapt to new situations. The remain campaign and Pro-European movements are looking forwards rather than backwards. We are enthusiastic about the future rather than nostalgic about the past. BREXIT aims to destroy something that has been built over decades rather than weeks or months. The European Union is organised. Verhofstadt and others still believe passionately in the European Union and the benefit that it can bring to Europeans and those they deal with. We need to listen to such people. They have a vision for the future, they have an action plan. We should collaborate with them to turn it into a reality that we can all benefit from.

The European Union is about a continental rather than national identity. It is about a set of universal values of equality, education, open mindedness and more. We need to keep that ambition alive and make it thrive. In a healthy media environment it makes sense for the whole of society to want what is best for everyone.


Great Britain and the Fourth Estate

When I think of Great Britain I think of the BBC and I think of the Natural History Units. I also think of radio programs like In Our Time, From Our Own Correspondent and Hard Talk. I also think of BBC World and the quality of their news coverage. I mention these current affairs programs because I believe that the British provide quality content. They also inform, educate and entertain us. That is their purpose.

In a healthy media environment the media should inform and educate their audiences. They should provide us with the facts and context for everything they write about. They should provide us with neutral and unbiased information. Radio and Television broadcasters were held to this standard until recently. With Video on demand services increasing in number and with the number of channels made available through satellite broadcasting and digital audio broadcasting opinion has found its way on air. This made it easier for satellite and television broadcasting to share opinions rather than facts.

“I think people in this country,” declared Vote Leave’s Michael Gove, “have had enough of experts.” His fellow Brexiteers were quick to back him up. “There is only one expert that matters,” said Labour MP Gisela Stuart, also of Vote Leave, “and that’s you, the voter.” Nigel Farage, the leader of Ukip, suggested that many independent experts were actually in the pay of the Government or the EU. All three reminded voters of occasions when “the so-called experts” had made mistakes.

source: Michael Gove’s guide to Britain’s greatest enemy… the experts

The role of journalists and the Fourth Estate is to understand the questions that people are asking and to understand what information people need. In the case of BREXIT for example if the campaign focuses on Migration then the fourth estate should provide facts and information about migration. It should look at the push and pull factors. It should also look at the goals that the European Union has set itself and how those goals can either help reduce or encourage migration.

Newspapers and politicians should never say “I think that people in this country have had enough of experts”. The raison d’être of the Fourth estate, of newspapers, current affairs broadcasts and expert opinions is to provide people with facts so that when they go to vote they have all the facts.

BREXIT on one side of the Atlantic, and the rise of Trump on the other, show that the fourth estate has failed. It has failed to keep people informed and grounded in reality and it has failed to keep emotion out of the debate. The politics of emotion are being exploited and this is having a negative impact on how countries are run. Alastair Campbell spoke of this when live on ABC news Australia.

To illustrate the challenge faced by modern politicians watch how Obama has to pause and think as he responds to the question.

Newspapers such as The Sun, The Daily Mail and other newspapers can publish anything they want and people will believe it. The Sun said twice that the Queen endorsed Brexit and twice they were shown to be lying. In a post-fact media landscape the lies are easy to spread but very difficult to negate.

London, Ireland and Scotland were not subjected to the same propaganda machine and their vote reflects this. They voted Remain because they understood the implications of BREXIT and the benefits of Remain. Their familiarity with the topic made Remain so easy to justify that certain people said of my generation that we “should not take what we have for granted”. I would encourage the opposite, that a dismantling of the EU should be unthinkable.

The Fourth estate has failed to do its job and the British people will now suffer the consequences for months and years to come. The rest of Europe and the United States should do everything they can to encourage people to keep up to current affairs so that facts guide their decisions rather than rumours and emotions.


Thoughts on British European Identity

For several weeks or even months I was afraid that the EU Referendum, BREXIT, would result in a bad outcome. On Thursday the British people went to vote. On Thursday night I was watching. When I saw Gibraltar vote to stay in the EU I relaxed enough to manage sleep. On Friday Morning British people around the world woke up to the news that our nation had voted to leave the European Union. Some people were shocked and never expected it to happen. I was terrified that it would.

For months before Brexit I commented via the social media that I was tired of seeing so many anti-European stories. When I read about refugees I said that the story should focus on the push factors rather than shame European nations. When we read about Calais and refugees I kept commenting that we should read about how it is the British that are blocking the refugees from coming, not the French oppressing these people. I was so tired of the Anglo-Saxon Anti-European stance, both from America and the United Kingdom that I moved towards reading French language news sources, just to change perspective. It worked.

From Friday to Sunday I spent hours reading article after article to keep up with current affairs. I looked at online conversations. In articles and in social media comments I kept seeing the word democratic used. Brexiters were using that word to tell “Remainers” to just accept the democratic decision by the British people. If the EU referendum had been democratic I would stay quiet. Two aspects make me think that this was an undemocratic process.

British Europeans were not allowed to vote unless they were registered to vote in a General election and as long as they had lived in England within the last fifteen years. As I lived in England for five years but between General Elections I did not register to vote. As a result of this I was not allowed to vote, as a European Brit, in the EU referendum. We are at least hundreds of thousands of disenfranchised EU brits. Wouldn’t it make sense for British Europeans to have a say in this, as they have seen the benefits and challenges of being British in Europe?

O is for Opinion
: Expert opinion, to be exact, which was actively mocked and worse by Leave, and turned out to be largely worthless as a vote-shifter. 2016 has been a bad year for punditry on both sides of the Atlantic — commentators were wrong about Brexit, just as they were largely wrong about Trump. We can expect a barrage of economic experts deployed in any snap election too, with just as little tangible effect on the vote. The question with ‘post-fact’ politics, which Johnson will deploy again and again and again as he runs for Prime Minister , isn’t just how to fight it — it’s what happens if and when the experts turn out to be right about the devastating economic consequences of leaving the EU. (See S is for Stab In The Back).


During the weekend we saw mentions that we live in a “post-fact” world. The case for Great Britain to leave the EU was made through emotional arguments rather than based on facts. We saw that “people are tired of experts”. Every person in favour of Remain has been called names over the last three or four days. When we discussed Brexit and presented facts they were ignored or dismissed. How do you argue with people who have chosen to “believe” rather than “prove with evidence”? You can’t. To them we were scare mongers.

By Sunday at least two or three campaign promises by the BREXIT camp were abandoned as unfeasible.


What makes BREXIT so frightening is that 52 percent of the British people who voted in the EU referendum voted for a policy with no concrete action plan. When people campaign for something as drastic as BREXIT you would expect them to have a plan. You would expect them to be jubilant and to say “Here’s our action plan and here is our timetable”. What we got instead were rumours and more opinions.

We are the easyjet Generation. Many of us remember when every European country had its own currency, many of us also remember when borders were guarded and passports were required. Many of us remember traveling to a number of European countries. For many of us asking “Where are you from” meant “Which country are you from”. In this context I really struggle to see how people could be in favour of BREXIT. It goes against logic to have borders once again. What about university studies. What about scientific research, what about cross cultural productions, what about business. What about travel, friendship, and relationships?

I would expect a society living in the information age to look for facts rather than feel good rumours. I would expect a society in the Information age to be harder to trick and indoctrinate. The opposite seems to be true.  I feel sad and sorry for the 48 percent who voted Remain. I hope that the government does what it can to bring their lives back to normal as soon as possible.