On Wednesday, Parliament will vote on whether to close the Dubs scheme, which allows unaccompanied child refugees to enter Britain. When established, this scheme was supposed to take in 3,000 kids; it’s done less than a tenth of that, and closing it now would be shameful.
I just wrote a brief letter to my MP to that effect:
You might legitimately ask why I am whining on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on about Donald Trump, when he is president of a country that is not even in the same continent as mine.
One perfectly cromulent answer would be that America’s economic and military power means that whatever it does has implications for every country; and that is true. But for me the issue is much deeper than that.
The real issue is that genuinely, deeply love America, and I hate to see it abused.
My cousin Sue has been a Labour member for thirty years, and is deeply enough involved in the party and its campaigning to have given speeches at the annual conference and appeared as a disability advocate on the BBC.
In the wake of Labour’s three-line whip mandating MPs to vote for Theresa May’s hard-Brexit bill irrespective of whether any of their amendments were accepted (they weren’t), Sue tweeted “There’s only ever 1 question for me. Is today the day I let stupid idiot humans beat an ideal?”. At which point I went off on one and posted a series of tweets in response. I reproduce them below, lightly edited.
WARNING. This will be boring to many people, and infuriating to others. It surely exposes my political naivety. Yes, a case can be made that I should just get over it. Don’t read on if you don’t want to. Continue reading
I live in the United Kingdom, a parliamentary democracy. Let’s recap where we are right now:
- We stand on the brink of the greatest constitutional change in living memory.
- Leading the charge is a Prime Minister who has never won a general election.
- In fact she has never even won a leadership election of her own party, having won by default when her opponent dropped out.
- We are proceeding on the basis of a whitepaper that was thrown together literally overnight and than contains no meaningful analysis.
- Debate has been squeezed into hours, compared with weeks for the much less important Maastricht treaty.
- MPs for the devolved Scottish and Welsh assemblies have been allowed almost no time to speak (though Mark Harper took a full hour).
- The supine opposition party has pledged, before even knowing which amendments if any are to be accepted, to vote for the bill.
- Oh, and the policy that May is forcing through is one that she does not believe in, but has adopted from Nigel Farage –a man who has stood for Parliament seven times, and lost every time. But he gets to dictate policy.
This doesn’t feel like a democracy at all. It feels like a dictatorship, and one totally unprecendented in my lifetime.
With perfect timing, frequent commenter Robin Jubber has just asserted that “Whatever mental disorder Trump suffers from … it’s not psychopathy”. Is he right?
The Washington Post conducted a dispassionate assessment of whether Trump is a fascist. It scored him 26 out of a possible 44 — a hair under 60% — and concluded “He is semi-fascist: more fascist than any successful American politician yet, and the most dangerous threat to pluralist democracy in this country in more than a century, but — thank our stars — an amateurish imitation of the real thing.”
Can we do the same thing in assessing whether he is a psychopath?
A few commenters recently have expressed some surprise or dismay that I have been so very negative about the Trump regime. Sorry, folks: I never set out to write a political blog, but Trump is without question the biggest problem facing the world. I can’t ignore it.
But I do want to make one thing quite clear: my fear and loathing of Trump is not a partisan issue. It’s not because he is a Republican and most Americans I know are Democrats; it’s not because he’s on the right and I lean towards the left. It’s because he is a dangerous, delusional psychopath with no understanding of how government, diplomacy or anything else works; and because is too arrogant to make up for this ignorance by consulting experts.
Having lost all faith in both the Tory government and the Labour excuse for the opposition, I have officially joined the Liberal Democrats. Yes, they only have nine seats in Parliament. So be it. Whether they can turn that around or not, I would rather go down fighting on the side of the good guys than follow an opposition that has allowed its European policy to be dictated by UKIP.
Wish us luck.
(My thanks to Andrew Hickey and Richard Flowers, who have both helped me understand how Parliament works and what the Liberal Democrats are about. And who both, incidentally, write interesting things about Doctor Who.)