Politics and tennis

Regular readers of this blog may have noticed a lack of reference to current affairs lately. This is partly because the intricacies of Brexit negotiation and government meltdown are too confusing for a simple person to follow; and partly because current affairs are currently almost too depressing to write about. However, this past week, I did post a little comment on Facebook, in which I weighed into a major debate of our time: namely, whether a tie-break should be introduced in the fifth set of major tennis tournaments, possibly at 12 games all, in order that the likes of Kevin Anderson can play at his best two days after a gruelling semi-final.

I commented: “My twopennorth: 1. Please remember that these marathons are very rare; 2. They occur because people are unable to break each other’s serve, which is something champions should expect to be able to do; 3. I like the suggestion that after 6 – all (or 12-all or whatever) you lose the “right” to one bad serve per point. Also who else thought a disproportionate amount of the final was taken up by watching Djokovic bounce his ball?”

I think it’s safe to say the All England Club will not be calling me in for consultation.

However, posting the above may have whetted my appetite for social media controversy, for I woke up a few days ago wanting to post daringly about Brexit, and the question of a second referendum.

I was honing the finer points of my proposed post when I realised what I was thinking, which was roughly as follows:

“Facebook is not just about contacting my friends and promoting my books. It’s also about getting my views, or my holiday snaps, or the cute video of my pet OUT THERE. The world is waiting for my online opinion! If I share my wisdom, and it’s wise or witty enough, it will GO VIRAL. Questions will be asked in Parliament, government policy will change. I will improve the world, with a few taps on my PC.”

No, really, Wallace, get a grip.

The egoism and stupidity of the above view is terrifying, but which of us Facebook and Twitter users hasn’t occasionally succumbed to it? (Only me, then. Right.)

Of course this isn’t a purely modern phenomenon. I also send emails to newspapers. And campaigns to bring about change by means of letters/petitions etc do succeed. Amnesty International was founded on just such a technique. But these are campaigns, organised collective hard work, not just a casual brilliant or unbrilliant thought thrown onto the net.

So I’m not going to go direct to Facebook with my doubtless unoriginal take on the referendum. I’m going to put it up on a blog on which others can comment – (and maybe copy to FB from there.)

So, ahem, cough, are you listening at the back?

Some people say we should have another referendum. Others say that this amounts to a sinister and undemocratic disregarding of the will of the British people. Which, if you’re a Brexit fan and believe that the establishment was largely pro-Remain, is an understandable perspective, if maybe a bit paranoid.

But surely wrong. I am old enough to remember 1974, when we had two general elections in one year. Was this a disregarding of the electorate’s will? Harold Wilson just wanted a bigger majority, and he got one. It’s allowed, because the electorate is allowed to change its mind.

More seriously, there was a narrow vote in the referendum in favour of an ill-defined concept of leaving the EU. Let’s not go into the overconfident negligence of the Remain campaign, or the undoubted dishonesty of (parts of) the Leave campaign.

The fact remains that nobody voted for the mess we are now in.

Following the will of the people, the government has spent two years honourably, incompetently and unsuccessfully attempting to work out how to disentangle the UK from the EU. No one has even come close to solving the conundrum of the Irish border. It’s plain that hard and soft Brexiteers are irreconcilable.

In these circumstances, a re-run of the referendum seems plain common sense to me.

But because such a re-run would be suggesting a major change to the status quo (which is Brexit), any alteration should need more than 50% approval, say 60%, or even a requirement that a certain minimum percentage of the electorate actually bothers to vote.

Which of course should have been the case last time. It’s easy to be wise after the event.

Love from the PPI Blogger

  • Stephen Sheridan

    21st July 2018 at 12:28 am Reply

    Well done for putting your view across and being fair to both sides of the Brexit debate. It is quite interesting how angry the debate has made both sides and deprived many of the ability to see people who disagree with them as equals. I do think social media and the willingness for people to demonise each other has had a terrible impact. The biggest problem is the referendum theoretically instructed a parliament and civil service to deliver something the vast majority of them oppose. The election ought to have made it more clear but fudged it even more since both the major parties had manifestos to deliver Brexit, but were deliberately vague about how, since the majority of their MPs oppose it.

    The only way Brexit could be done would be if one of the two major parties had a majority of MPs who really supported it, but neither do. Due to the way UK politics works it is also almost impossible to establish a new party with any chance of getting elected to Westminster. The existing parties sit there like zombies blocking the way. UKIP was a one issue party who at the height of its power couldn’t work out if it was old Tory mainstream or traditionalist working class Labour. It also self-destructed rapidly as new parties tend to follow the old Monty Python Judean People’s Front v People’s Front of Judea (Q: “Whatever happened to the Popular Front of Judea?” A: “He’s over there – Splitter!”). UKIP even managed to get the hilarious “I’ll see you outside”/”I never touched him” incident among its MEPs.

    The effective blockage on new parties forming creates a very dangerous impasse as the electorate will start to feel as if they don’t have any real choice and they will either stop voting or find a another way to vent their frustration. Ideally both Tories and Labour would split:
    – The remaining New Labourites combining with many Tories and the LibDems to start a new social democratic party.
    -The Berxiteer Tories form their party, possibly absorbing UKIP activists.that then leaves
    -Corbyn Labour remains

    I think the conclusion is a referendum can only work if the major parties in parliament are uniformly on one side or the other – that didn’t happen last time and it wouldn’t happen a second time. Then there is the issue what question do you put? One ludicrous Tory MP suggested 3 options: accept whatever deal is agreed, pull out with no deal or stay in. She didn’t explain how a 3 way question could get a viable result. If the question is either accept the rubbish deal the government has negotiated or stay in, then Leave supporters will say they were cheated of the no deal option. Then what happens with the result of that two option referendum? If the result is still leave, then the process won’t have improved at all; if the result is to remain then a new mythology will grow up among leavers about the great “bullying and betrayal”.

    One thing that is manifestly clear is that our MPs are neither clever enough, competent enough or even interested enough (given the number if them with other business interests or obsessed by their own greed and lusts) to run the country, but those who are capable wouldn’t want to be an MP, because of the way it destroys your private life. I fear that our institutions as a nation have shown themselves unable to cope and if they can’t find solutions quickly then something terrible might happen. And with perfect timing even the building of the Palace of Westminster is literally falling apart. Now the power of prayer is needed more than ever.

    In another irony I don’t see much hope for the EU surviving more than a decade as regardless of the UK, it has three widely divergent blocks that I cannot see reconciling: the Germanic North/France (politically liberal, but fiscally hard conservative) who run the institutions on Franco-German lines; the Med block who went into the Euro at too high a rate and are now stuck in debt slavery with their youth suffering mass unemployment and emigration (now populist of right and left); and finally the Visegrad block of countries mainly previously behind the Iron Curtain (now strongly nationalist with “traditional” values/ and populist. Funny how trying to bring people together in co-operation can often have the reverse effect.

    Still perhaps I am being too pessimistic. Maybe everyone will start being nice to each other and find clever ways of solving these problems and broad sunlit uplands of goodwill and charity await us. 🙂

  • Judith Leader

    21st July 2018 at 7:26 pm Reply

    No tie break in the finals, and abolish penalty shoot out.

    Brexit should never have been 50/50 if at all but at the least 60/40. It was not only based on lies (I am shocked), but Jeremy Corbyn was a leave, which is why to quote Hilary Benn, it was such a lack lustre event (it cost him his job and what with that his anti-antisemitism and his dictator views, it is time he went) that labour voters did not know how to vote. However you might feel that was pathetic as surely you can make your own mind up and the same applies to the Tories (there is a great deal of Islamophobia within the party, and by that I mean MP’s), if you believe Boris Johnson, who could easily be competing with Corbyn as next PM, then you will believe anyone. So do we have another referendum I think so, the reason I think so is because I don’t think people realised the reality of the situation. Whether we should have had it in the first place is not only another question but also history.

  • Stephen Sheridan

    21st July 2018 at 11:39 pm Reply

    You make good points Judith, but if you have a second referendum what question do you put to avoid the pitfalls I outlined? For the voters in the North West their view is what do they have to lose? If you are in a position where you see no hope of prosperity for your children, it makes little difference if the argument is “you will do worse economically”. I spoke with a lot of construction workers from the North over the 5 years before the referendum and their view was definitely that they wanted out even if there was a downturn, simply because they saw a brighter longer term future if there was less competition from other EU workers. It is the same reason Trump got elected and I suspect will get re-elected.
    I wouldn’t worry about BJ (appropriate initials!) – he has no chance of becoming a potential PM or even Tory leader – his philandering ways will stack the decks against him and he is proven to be a man whose convictions are driven mainly by his personal ambitions. Actually he is quite a useful model for an unprincipled Ragaris politician.
    On the other front I am genuinely filled with despair to see the way the Labour Party is using weasel words to try to hide its grotesque permissiveness on anti-semitism and they will not shift from this, just as Labour party representatives, who have made overtly racist or misogynistic comments have simply been forgiven. Corbyn has convictions but they are the ones that will bring us to disaster as they have elsewhere in history and geography and my family in Poland explained to me in the Eighties.

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