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A Former UKIP Branch Chairman Backs REMAIN

Cards on the table. Many moons ago I was a member of Young Independence and established the

Bolton Branch of UKIP. I was a member when UKIP was in favour of a flat tax, slashing the size and

scope of government and was at least pretending to be libertarian. I left when I saw the writing on the

wall; that UKIP was turning in a 1960’s Labour tribute band of social conservatism and big

government paternalism (my two least favourite things).

I was and still am anti EU. I think it’s officious, bureaucratic, inefficient, meddlesome, nannying,

bloated and expensive. But guess what – so are all governments. Long before the EU we were bribed

and coerced by unelected faceless British civil servants, so I don’t buy the argument that Brexit would

result in some miraculous purging of pedantic officialdom.

But that’s not my main reason for opting

for Remain, rather history, the economy, and British values seem to point that way.

Brexit advocates seem to want to fight the tide of history. The story of humanity’s political entities has

been one, dare I say it, of ever closer union – groups of gathers came together to form small tribes,

which came together to form communities, which in turn grouped together to become towns, which

became cities, which united to become small kingdoms, which in finally came together to form the

nation states we know today. Europe is now trying to forge the next step – that of bringing nation

states into something larger. Being the first attempt it seems new and scary, just as there would have

been those in the kingdoms of Mercia and Wessex who resisted this new-fangled ‘England’, with its

distant rulers and burdensome taxes and laws. It’s going to happen, so we can try and influence that

as it’s evolves, or we can re-join in a few decades time as a junior member on much worse terms than

we have now.

By far my biggest concern is that of the economy. Markets can deal with democracies and dictators,

they can handle with Tories or Labour, but what they don’t like is instability and uncertainty, and Brexit

negotiations are uncertainty incarnate. Nobody knows how long negotiations will take. Nobody has

any idea as to what sort of deal we’ll get. Nobody knows what EU rules we’ll have to abide by and

which we’ll be able to ignore. Nobody knows if we’ll repeal existing EU legislation and if so how much.

All this is an anathema to business deciding where to sink investment. The best and brightest of the

world flock to Britain because their skills and talents have an unrivalled platform and outlets through

our links to Europe, the Commonwealth and North America. Brexit and the subsequent reservations

about visas and free movement would throw this into doubt.

“But it’s in the EU’s interests to give Britain a good deal, we do too much trade for them to jeopardise

it”. This message has been the crux of the Leave camps economic case, but it’s tragically naive for it

rests on the assumption that EU leaders act rationally. They don’t. The history of the EU is one of

making political decisions that go against economic sense. The Euro, the madness of monetary union

without fiscal union, was a political project, not economic. The CAP is a political settlement that runs

against all but the most projectionist economic rationale.

If Britain opted to leave left the EU Brussels

would have to make an example of us. Negotiations would be tortuous, dragged out for years with

every line of the settlement debated and revised and amended purely out of spite. Just look at

Greece. Every sensible economist pleaded for some form of debt write-off, but no. Greece had to be

made an example of, especially after the defiance of the anti-austerity referendum. The vanity and

pride of those behind ‘The Project’ cannot be over stated, and EU chiefs really will go out of their way

to cause an independent Britain as much trauma as possible if it meant deterring other would be

separatists.

This is partly why the EU needs Britain. An EU without Britain would mean all the worst aspects of the

bureaucracy would be let loose, with little or no restraint. Those members who tend to side with us,

like the Nordic nations, would find themselves without a large ally, and would be cowed and bullied

into meek compliance. A Britain-less EU would also be a more insular, inward looking beast.

During

the 1990s it was Britain that led to the push to see the ten Eastern European states of the former

Warsaw Pact brought into the EU, much to the annoyance of the French who argued attention should

be focused on deepening integration among the existing members. But Britain triumphed, correctly

insisting that without EU membership anchoring these new democracies to the West, they’d succumb

to a gradual economic, then political slide back into the Russian orbit. And this is the rule rather than

the exception – for Britain gets its way a lot in Europe, especially on the big issues. The very fact the

EU is a free trade area is largely down to us. The European Court of Human Rights, though not part

of the EU, was created almost at the British behest. That we don’t have an EU Army is down to Britain

thwarting the idea every time it rears its head.

 And it’s not just our friends and allies in Europe that want us to stay. The Commonwealth nations, to

whom Brexiteers point as an alternative trading bloc to the EU, want us to remain. Our closest ally,

the United States, wants us to stay. Both recognise that our membership of the EU is the unique

bridge that binds the Anglosphere and the continent of Europe together. Our place in the EU reminds

Brussels that there’s a world outside Fortress Europe and that globalisation is an opportunity, not a

threat.

It’s no coincidence that the only world leader who supports Brexit is Vladmir Putin, a man

itching to divide and weaken a united West that’s hemmed in and punished his geopolitical trolling.

I get the frustration with the EU, I really do. I too hear the siren song of Brexit, the temptation to stick

two fingers up at Brussels and reclaim sovereignty. But every year nation states get less and less

relevant. True sovereignty hasn’t existed for any state since the Second World War. If we took the

Norwegian option we’d still have to follow EU rules, but we’d have no say in how they’re made.

Leaving would be to ignore the pleads of our oldest friends. Brexit would be an economic roll of the

dice that really don’t need. Much like the Scottish Nationalists, the economic case for Brexit rests on

hopeful scenarios and keeping our fingers crossed – I’m sorry but the world’s sixth largest economy is

too important to gamble on a wing and a prayer.

The perfect is the enemy of the good. The EU machine is infuriating, but Britain, the West, and the

world is a better place through our membership.

A guest contribution by Lee T Jenkins

The Unions: They don’t speak for everyone.

Got this in an e-mail from an academic buddy – his view of the Lecturer’s union striking.

I am an academic at a leading UK university. Obtaining an academic position is not an easy thing to do and I have worked towards it, pretty much non-stop, since I left school. You will probably need a First Class degree to get onto a funded PhD course. Assuming your doctorate goes well, you need to find a postdoctoral position. There are probably four times as many new PhDs as there are postdoctoral opportunities, all being sought by highly-motivated, breathtakingly intelligent young people who have just obtained their degree. The competition is intense beyond belief.

If you get your postdoctoral position, it will probably be for a term of one to five years, during which time you have to build a publication record that makes you worthy of an academic position. With short postdocs, you might need to re-enter that competitive job market to get a second contract. You need to build enough experience – maybe three or five years’ worth – to be in a position to apply for an academic position, but not too much. Someone who doesn’t manage to get an academic position after six or eight years is at a huge disadvantage compared to the bright young things on the up.

The academic positions are, one again, about one-quarter as plentiful as the postdocs reaching maturity, and even if you get one, it will likely be fixed term. Use this term wisely – by bringing in a lot of funding, for example – and you just might obtain a permanent one.

The rewards though, are immense. I get to work on the thing which is most important to me in the whole world. I get to travel the world. I get to leave work at 2pm if I feel like it, even though I never do. The freedom is there.

I get to make, with my own mortal hand, things that will change the future of science. This, to me, is the most incredible thing that I could ever be allowed to do. These objects are going to be paid for by taxpayers – productive people who work hard only to have a slice of the fruits of their labour hived off and given to me. I am humbled by the trust put in me to use this money as wisely as I possibly can, to advance human knowledge, and I remember the thirty-odd hugely talented PhDs to whom I have, personally, denied the opportunity.

Today, I got an email calling on me to strike. It said that I should consider this hard-won chance-of-a-lifetime to be, well, a job. A job, like in Marks and Spencer’s. That I should consider a few hundred pounds, extracted from people who have had to actually work to fund my dreams, to be worth more than this chance of a lifetime. That I should spit on the thirty poor sods that didn’t get this chance by refusing to use it to its fullest possible extent, and on the people whose jobs went to the wall to pay for the taxes I spend. Somehow withholding marking of students’ papers and delaying their careers, the better to line my own pocket with other people’s money, is portrayed as a virtuous deed.

I am, quite literally, open-mouthed in disbelief. These people have, like me, been given the chance of a lifetime and they are prepared to waste other people’s money, to waste other people’s time, over a few percent on their investments. I can imagine more selfish acts, but not many. These, by the way, will be the same people who rail about the evils of the bankers. Say what you like about the bankers, they didn’t blackmail anyone to get to where they are today. Good luck to them.

So, when you see the lecturer’s unions on strike next week, remember that they don’t speak for all of us. Some of us have work to do.

A view from an academic, who wishes to remain anonymous, but I can confirm is working on stuff, that when he tells me about it, I’m awed at how cool it is. Think about stuff your 8-year old self wishes you did for a living, and that’s what he does for a living.

On Becoming a Writer…

Guest post By LB Mara.

“The Dawn Herald” is available on Kindle! At last! After five years of writing, rewriting, hair-tearing, nailbiting, absurd hope and crushing disappointment, “The Dawn Herald” is finished. Five years of carefully crafting submission letters and blurbs; formatting text, cold-calling, networking, hoping and praying. Five years of ‘it’s not for us, though it’s very well written’ and my favourite *ever* response to a pitch that took six hours to write: ‘no thanks’. Five years of not having my work read; of having it returned crumpled and coffee-stained, ripped by too-tight rubber bands, of drawers full of rejection slips. Five years of near-hope as I have the book accepted, only to discover that the publishing house is an out-and-out scam; five years of ‘waiting for my life to start’ (a sentiment shared by writers and enneagram lovers, particularly Number 4s). And five years of rejecting the self-publishing option due to the all-pervasive snobbery surrounding it: if you ‘do it yourself’, you’re not quite good enough/pandering to your own vanity/doomed to literary failure/won’t be taken seriously. I’ve come to view the last sentiments as absolute rubbish.
The traditional publishing model is dying. Going the same way as vinyl and 8 tracks. Bookshops are becoming coffee shops lined with books. Digital media isn’t the way forward: it’s the status quo. While there will always be a place for the tangible book as opposed to its virtual cousin – the sumptuous coffee-table art book, the delectable cookbook, the weighty law tome, the lavishly illustrated children’s book – people are becoming accustomed to carrying their literature with them in the form of bytes rather than print. It means that you can read what you like, when you like, without a literary snob squinting at the spine of the book you’re reading and raising a derisive eyebrow. Accountants can read Harry Potter on the Tube; High Court judges can dive into the murky world of chick lit and Aga Sagas without being rumbled. Digital media is a great leveller, entirely democratic. It’s available to all. Everyone can educate or entertain themselves wherever they happen to be for a few pounds. Access to literature is not a closed shop any more (excuse the pun). And today’s writers are finding it equally freeing.
The typical publishing model means that a writer is tied into a contract for x-number of years with a whole host of caveats concerning what they can and can’t do with their own work. They may have unknowingly sold the rights to their story in a particular format, which means they can’t reissue their work in a different format, have it illustrated independently, or distribute it as they wish. If they’re not careful, their characters may end up in cereal packets or as a Ready Meal toy or, in a case that incensed book lovers and nostalgia hounds the world round, Paddington Bear in an advertising campaign for Marmite. They have to fork over a hefty 70% of their royalties to the publishing house; advances are drying up; and there’s no guarantee that their book won’t be edited until it’s unrecognisable, marketed in a way they find inappropriate, or illustrated in a way they hate.
Publishing to Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple et al turns the publishing model on its head. You keep 70% of the profit. You choose your own artwork – I’ve used the best illustrators out there: Andy English, who is creating three exquisite woodcuts (one for each part of the novel) and Abi Daker who has produced a delicious map and a series of watercolours to illustrate the whole.You can amend your book whenever you wish, market it freely, and control what happens to it. So, although self-publishing is in one sense an absolute leap in the dark – I feel rather like a mother sending her child off on the first day of school and hoping said child doesn’t get kicked or dumped in the litter bin. What if no-one likes it? – it’s an awful lot more freeing. I know that I am the creator of my own success; the amount of effort I put into marketing The Dawn Herald will be commensurate with the number of people aware of it. Isn’t it a hundred times more satisfying to know that you have earnt the proceeds of your hard labour? As Dale Carnegie said: ‘The harder I work, the luckier I get.’

Guest Post from Bendy Girl

If you’ve ever wondered why I hate bureaucracy, this post by BendyGirl, cross-posted from her blog Benefit Scrounging Scum illustrates what happens when the Broken NHS bureaucracy and the even more broken Welfare state bureaucracy collide: People who are desperately trying to do the right thing fall into inconvenient boxes, and don’t get what they need.

Today I deathwalked a longer distance than I’ve been able to manage in 12 months. To say I was jubilant when I arrived home is understating the case, ecstacy would be closer to the truth after a year of injury after injury, hideous Oxycontin withdrawal and many other setbacks, just to get back to a distance I could acheive without as much difficulty 18 months ago is incredible. I’ve only been home half an hour and that sense of excitement has been whipped from underneath me by a phone call from wheelchair services. I’ve written about this dilemma in the past, the rules governing wheelchair provision on the NHS are so surreal Dali would have shaken his head in bewilderment and wandered off to find something not in the ‘too hard to think about’ box.
My Occupational Therapist at the Wheelchair Centre is a lovely lady and excellent OT. She’s known me since I was in nappies and is very saddened by the situation I’m facing, but her hands are tied by the national rules governing wheelchair provision.The rules state that no-one will be supplied a power chair on the NHS which is capable of being used outdoors until they have used a powerchair indoors for a minimum of six months. A rule, which might just possibly seem sensible in abstract to politicians with no understanding of disability or it’s reluctance to be shoehorned into bureaucratic boxes but not to anyone else, particularly not the people falling outside of those boxes and missing out on vital services and equipment. Living in a very small one bedroom flat with standard sized doorways I could maybe just about get a power wheelchair into my home, but it would only be possible because I’m physically so petite. Given that Ehlers Danlos Syndrome affects the entire body, the demands of getting into and out of a powerchair everytime I needed to move to another part of the flat would be equal to, if not worse than the demands of staggering around the flat, I’d just be trading one set of dislocations for another, equally painful and degenerative set. The additional downside of using a wheelchair indoors would of course be a further, rapid deterioration in my overall condition, leading to more dislocations, more pain and more disability. Remaining a part time wheelchair user is optimum for my physical and mental health, the overall cost to the NHS and the benefits bill, but does not fit within the rules of the system.

BendyGirl sitting in her attendant wheelchair

I have an attendant wheelchair, the kind that can only be used if you have someone to push you. It’s great, but means I can’t go anywhere to use it unless I can find someone who’s not busy and is both willing and able to push me around. It’s also difficult socially as typically people walk or wheel side by side, and being in an attendant chair prevents that. I suspect it’s one reason why small children get so fractious in pushchairs, being unable to see or properly speak to the person pushing you is conducive only to tantrums.
I am not entitled to a standard manual wheelchair as the system recognises that it would be dangerous for me to use one. I could attempt to persuade my GP to risk his professional reputation and a future negligence action by getting him to sign me as fit to use a self propelled wheelchair, but he should no more be put in that position than I should be put in the position of having to lie and say I would use a wheelchair full time indoors. If my GP were willing to claim that I’m capable of using a wheelchair I’m very obviously not, then I could obtain an NHS voucher and purchase a power assisted lightweight wheelchair myself, making up the rest of the cost out of my benefits. That is unlikely to happen, partly because my GP wouldn’t deem me fit to use a self propel wheelchair and partly because the kind of lightweight, power assisted wheelchair I would need would be cost prohibitive.
It is possible to use High Rate Mobility Allowance to purchase a powered wheelchair…but not if you’re already using that HRM to fund a car. I am currently not using my HRM for either, it goes into general living/travel expenses as I already had a car, but as I need to change my car to a more accessible vehicle, assuming there are no problems with my DLA reapplication the HRM will be committed fully to a vehicle leaving no money for a wheelchair.
So, once again I’m back at square one. There is absolutely no doubt that an appropriate wheelchair would make it more likely for me to obtain paid work. Access to work is the scheme set up to provide specialist equipment to disabled people to enable them to work. Unfortunately one needs an actual job, or concrete job offer to use access to work, and I have neither. The 8 hours a week I’ll be doing from my sofa on a voluntary basis absolutely won’t count.
I have three options. One; the situation remains as it is now, hopefully improved if BendyBus ever gets it’s act together enough to leave the care of mechanics. Two; I lie. To my GP, to my consultants, to the wheelchair centre and claim I will use a power wheelchair full time indoors for six months so that they eventually consider me for a powerchair which works both outdoors and indoors. Three; I try to navigate the maze of charities and beg for funding, unlikely to be secured as EDS is not important enough a condition to have rich and powerful charitable representation.
The years of not being diagnosed and accused of being a liar have left me with a stubborn determination to cling to the truth at all costs. I am just not willing to put myself in a position where I have to lie to the clinicians caring for me, even if that lie weren’t completely detrimental to all concerned. I don’t have the energy or the mental strength I’d need to go cap in hand to a round of charities, which leaves option one as the only choice.More than three years on…I’m still missing out.