Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Orwellian world of the gutter press


Theresa May's Brexit speech confirmed the suspicion that after six tedious months of waiting for a Tory Brexit negotiating strategy, the best they could actually come up with was the ridiculous threat that they'll turn Britain into a vast bargain basement corporate tax haven if the EU don't cave into their demands for preferential treatment just for sectors of the UK economy with sufficient financial clout to bribe/coerce the Tories into actually representing their interests (the financial sector and the vehicle manufacturing sector were specifically named in the speech).

The European reaction to this display of Tory foot-stamping was unenthusiastic to say the least. 
El PaĆ­s in Spain furiously described Theresa May's speech as promoting "shameful xenophobic nationalism", while the German paper Die Welt took the more light-hearted approach of ridiculing her posturing as representing "Little Britain". 
The EU's lead negotiator Guy Verhofstadt pointed out that
the British public would actually be the ones to suffer if the Tories follow through on their threat to turn the UK into a huge corporate tax haven, eradicating the vestiges of the social security system to pay for it.

He also pointed out that making preemptive threats before the negotiations have even officially begun is a
"counterproductive negotiating tactic".

Boris Johnson (who Theresa May somehow saw fit to appoint as Britain's top diplomat!) was obviously perturbed at the icy continental reaction to Theresa May's threat-based negotiating strategy, so he blabbered out another one of his utterly tasteless Nazi analogies, because apparently if you can't win people over to your way of thinking with ridiculous threats, the next step is to sling insults at them!

It really is like having a team of stroppy six year olds in charge of negotiating our nation's future relationship with our 27 former European allies.
Instead of actually pointing out any of the dishonesty, delusions or downright contradictory rubbish, the mainstream media fawned all over Theresa May's woeful Brexit speech, but after seeing the public failing to join in their universal acclaim for such a transparently woeful speech the gutter press actually stepped up their already utterly ludicrous rhetoric the next day.

The Express ran a front page whining that the EU are a load of bullies, and the S*n even attempted to con their readers into believing that Theresa May's "give our major corporations special favours or we'll turn ourselves into a corporate tax haven" threats are a plan to "rip up the privileges of the elite"!

What an Orwellian world readers of the right-wing gutter press must inhabit if they're gullible enough to actually believe that the ones making threats and lobbing insults are the poor down-trodden victims of bullying, and an absurd "give us our ridiculous corporate wishlist or we're becoming a tax haven" negotiating stance from Theresa May (the leader of the party of wealth and privilege don't forget) is an anti-establishment revolution to be celebrated and supported by the poor and ordinary!

The bullies are the victims and the party of the establishment are the anti-establishment revolution!

Millions of people actually read these utterly ridiculous right-wing propaganda rags.

Millions of people!


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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Laura Kuenssberg Fake News controversy


The BBC Trust have admitted that their political editor Laura Kuenssberg created fake news when she misrepresented Jeremy Corbyn's position on shoot-to-kill.

The BBC Trust ruling concluded that Kuenssberg's report was "not duly accurate" because it presented "an answer Mr Corbyn had given to a question about shoot-to-kill as though it were his answer to a question he had not in fact been asked".

The original complaint against Kuenssberg alleged that her sneaky decision to splice a clip of Jeremy Corbyn talking about shoot-to-kill with a question he wasn't even asked was designed to cause "maximum political damage".

Kuenssberg is well known for letting her anti-Corbyn bias interfere with the supposed journalistic impartiality of BBC news reporters, famously orchestrating the resignation of a Labour Party cabinet member live on TV in order to damage Jeremy Corbyn's leadership as much as possible before a Prime Minister's Questions appearance in January 2016.

The role of BBC journalists should be to present the news, not to manufacture the news, nor to just make it up as they go along. Still, despite the evidence that she concocted a fake news hit on Jeremy Corbyn, Kuenssberg looks safe in her job as BBC political editor publicly funded Tory mouthpiece.

Anyone who pays attention will know that the BBC have previous form at chopping and changing the sequence of video clips in order to create highly misleading narratives. The most famous example being the reversal of the footage from the Orgreave miners' protest to make it look like the miners attacked the police, when the reality was that mounted police launched a brutal and unprovoked attack on the miners. Luckily for the BBC the Tories decided not to hold a public inquiry into Orgreave, meaning that the BBC's dodgy conduct on that day wasn't brought back into focus.

Attention-paying members of the public will also be well aware of the academic studies proving a systemic mainstream media propaganda campaign against Jeremy Corbyn that's so extreme that one investigation found that only 11% of all newspaper articles about him presented his actual political views without alteration!

When most of the print media is owned by a small clique of savagely right-wing tax-dodging billionaires, and supposedly impartial BBC journalists like Laura Kuenssberg get off scot-free after inventing fake news controversies, it's pretty obvious that the propaganda war is going to continue, however there are some things we can do about it.
  • If fake news producers are allowed to keep their jobs even after getting caught out we need to take all mainstream media stories with a massive pinch of salt. Mainstream media is obviously not all fake news, but we need to engage our critical thinking skills whenever we encounter mainstream media stories because of the possibility that they are.
  • Look for reliable alternative media sources and, if you appreciate the content they provide, consider making small donations to help keep them going .
  • Boycott appalling hard-right propaganda rags like the Daily Mail, S*n and Express. Don't just avoid buying their newspapers, avoid sharing or otherwise publicising their links on social media.
  • If you want to enhance a comment about a particular issue with a link, consider finding an alternative media article rather than linking to the mainstream press. If you can't find an independent source, try rewarding the least savagely right-wing mainstream media sources with the free publicity (Channel 4 News, Independent, Mirror, Huffington Post, Guardian).
 Another Angry Voice  is a "Pay As You Feel" website. You can have access to all of my work for free, or you can choose to make a small donation to help me keep writing. The choice is entirely yours.




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How to turn an utterly woeful speech into a brilliant one


Theresa May's January 2017 Brexit speech was absolutely woeful stuff. We've been waiting for six damned months for the Tories to cobble together a Brexit negotiating stance, and after all that time the best they could come up with is: "Give in to our ridiculous demands to 'have our cake and eat it' or we'll turn our entire country into a bargain basement corporate tax haven and then you'll be sorry!".

It's remarkable that after six months all they've managed to come up with is a load of fantastical nonsense about cherry-picking Single Market access for corporations with the financial muscle to bribe or coerce the Tory party into defending their interests, and a load of ridiculous threats against our 27 former EU allies if they don't just cave in and give Theresa May what she wants!


The extraordinary thing is that loads of people are celebrating this embarrassing new low point in the history of British diplomacy as if it's some kind of incredible triumph!

Aside from revealing her inept threat-based negotiation tactics, Theresa May's long-awaited Brexit speech was dishonest, delusional and full of inherently contradictory nonsense.

Anyone with basic comprehension skills must surely have been able to spot how terribly flawed it was, but right-wingers actually lauded her for it. The front pages of the mainstream press cast her as if she's 'Thatcher reincarnated' sticking one to the 'nasty foreigners' on behalf of the 'plucky Brits', and I even saw one guy claiming that this useless hotch-potch of a speech was the best thing since Winston Churchill (a man who would surely be turning in his grave at such an inept orator leading the Tory party and announcing her plan to scrap the European Human Rights that he worked so hard to establish)!


This obviously isn't the first time the mainstream press have framed an absolutely woeful speech as if it's the best piece of oratory in years. Just before the 2014 Scottish independence referendum Gordon Brown gave a ludicrous anti-independence speech that started out by implying that all Scottish independence voters are not real people and deteriorated rapidly from there. Seeing the right-wing press, who had routinely savaged him for years, suddenly start heaping praise on the man for delivering "the speech of his life" was extremely telling.

It really doesn't matter how incredibly poor the actual content of the speech, nor even who is making it, if the theme aligns with interests of the tax-dodging billionaire press barons who own most of our media, then it's framed as having been absolutely brilliant. If it doesn't align with media moguls' interests then it's either ignored or it's lambasted, no matter how well crafted it actually is.

So the answer to the question of how to make a woeful speech into a great one is easy: All the hacks who work for the billionaire press barons have to do in order to re-frame a load of woeful cobblers as a brilliant piece of oratory is to tell people that it was brilliant. So many of us these days are completely unwilling/unable to question what we read that blatantly obvious lies easily end up as "common sense" truths, and utterly pathetic speeches become incomparably great ones.

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Woman in clown costume issues ridiculous ultimatum


I don't usually write tabloid style headlines for my articles, but given the extraordinary state of the mainstream media front pages this morning I feel more than justified in making an exception for today.

It's not just the usual offenders spewing right-wing jingoistic nonsense either, because the supposedly left-wing Mirror even got in on this "tough-talking Theresa socking it to the Europeans" gibberish. 

Just take a look at the state of the delusional jingoistic drivel that millions of people will see on newspaper stands all over the country, and all over Europe too.

Theresa May's long-awaited Brexit speech would have been woeful enough under ordinary circumstances, full of dishonestydelusion and blatantly self-contradictory nonsense as it was, but given the fact that it's apparently taken the Tories six months of scheming to come up with this vacuous drivel, it should have been universally lambasted. 

Instead of being pelted with rotten tomatoes Theresa May is actually being lauded by the mainstream media as if her ludicrous posturing represents some kind of triumph for the plucky-Brits, rather than a truly embarrassing moment in the history of British diplomacy and terrifying forewarning of the savagely right-wing, isolationist and grotesquely unequal hard-right dystopia Theresa May and the Tories have been plotting for us all along.

Is the long-awaited Tory negotiating strategy really just to crudely threaten our 27 former European allies into giving us the deal Theresa May and the hard-right fringe of the Tory party want?

Just consider what Theresa May's tax haven threat actually implies. Who will be the people who will suffer the most if Theresa May and Philip Hammond set about turning the UK into a bargain basement corporate tax haven economy where stuff like human rights and the vestiges of the social security system are swept away in a fit of hard-right jingoism?

Will it be the European technocrats that the right-wing press have conditioned a sizable percentage of the UK public into hating? Of course it won't.

The real victims will be the British people who will see their rights, freedoms, public services, wages and living conditions eroded away in order to re-engineer the UK economy to favour the corporations and the super-rich even more than it already does.


Theresa May isn't holding a gun to her own head demanding a cushy deal for her corporate mates from the EU. Of course she isn't. She's holding a gun to the heads of millions of ordinary British plebs. 

"Give us what we want or millions of British plebs will suffer and die" she's shrieking at the EU, and instead of reacting in horror, that after all of these months of waiting, that this ludicrous nonsense is all the Tories have got to show for their supposed negotiating strategy, the mainstream media are actually showering her in praise and making out she's putting up a heroic fight!

Why should the EU technocrats give a damn about the fate of the British public, especially after 37% of us just stuck two fingers up at them in June 2016 in order to entrust our future to the hard-right fringe of the Tory party?

Most alarmingly of all, there will be millions of delirious plebs out there punching the air with delight over all these mainstream media caricatures of a clown-suited Theresa May standing up to the nasty foreigners, that they've completely failed to even understand that the gun is pointing at their temple.

They won't even understand that if the EU don't cave in to Theresa May's ludicrous ultimatum (which they obviously won't), it's going to be them, and their families, and their communities who will end up suffering the appalling consequences of living in a savagely right-wing Tory corporate dystopia, not the EU technocrats.


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Theresa May's partial free trade fantasy


Beside the outright lie about the conduct of the EU referendum debate, the threat to turn the UK into a bargain basement corporate tax haven if she doesn't get her way and the numerous self-contradictory statements, Theresa May's Brexit speech contained something else that the mainstream media chose not to focus much attention on.

After explaining that her radical interpretation of Brexit means that she thinks she's got a mandate to drag the United Kingdom out of the Single Market, Theresa May went on to propose a new free-trade agreement between the UK and the EU. Part of this fantasy deal apparently includes negotiating tariff-free Single Market access for the financial services sector and other major corporations such as the motor industry.

Here's what she said:
"We do not seek membership of the Single Market. Instead we seek the greatest possible access to it through a new Free Trade Agreement.
That Agreement may take in elements of current Single Market arrangements in certain areas - on the export of cars and lorries for example, or the freedom to provide financial services across national borders - as it makes no sense to start again from scratch when Britain and the remaining Member States have adhered to the same rules for so many years."
Essentially what Theresa May is saying is that if the industry has the financial power to either donate vast sums to the Tory party (like the financial services sector) or to hold the UK government to ransom by threatening to up sticks and relocate their factories into the single market zone (the car industry) then Theresa May and her Brexiteers are going to try to negotiate special Single Market access for them. But if, on the other hand, your business doesn't have such financial might (small and medium sized businesses, start ups, independent traders ...) screw you! You're probably going to end up paying tariffs if your business involves importing or exporting goods, materials or services from/to EU countries. 

Even the justification for this haphazard approach is absolutely ridiculous. If Theresa May admits that it makes no sense to tear up the rules for the financial services sector or major corporations like the motor industry, how on earth does it make sense to force Britain's small and medium sized businesses to "start again from scratch"?

The idea of negotiating Single Market access just for powerful corporations with the financial might to either bribe or coerce the Tories into defending their interests, whilst leaving the rest of the economy to suffer the threat of import and export tariffs is utterly appalling. It's yet another example of the Tory party deliberately re-engineering the economy in favour of the largest corporations at the expense of other sectors of the economy.

The idea of Theresa May exempting the bankers and corporate fat cats from the economic self-harm of quitting the Single Market should be appalling to all but the most rabidly right-wing of British people, but it seems unlikely that it will actually ever actually play out that way because the EU are highly unlikely to allow the Tory party to set about picking and choosing which sectors of the British economy get to retain access to the Single Market.

The problem of course is that if the EU say no to this Tory effort to cherry-pick the benefits of Single Market access for favoured sectors of the economy, Theresa May and the Chancellor Philip Hammond have made it pretty damned clear that their alternative plan is to turn the UK into a savagely right-wing corporate tax haven, and point the finger of blame at the "nasty, horrible, evil foreigners at the EU" while they're doing it.

Some of us warned about this kind of outcome all along. As many flaws as the EU has, leaving the exit process in the hands of the fanatical right-wing of the Tory party is absolutely certain to be worse.

Unless something is done to stop Theresa May's madness, the UK is either going to end up as a deeply divided country where only those with sufficient wealth to bribe or coerce the Tory party get to benefit from Single Market access, or even worse, we end up as some kind of isolated and almost universally despised bargain basement tax haven economy intent on stealing the wealth of other countries rather than actually generating our own.


I wonder if this kind of hard-right Tory fanaticism is what most Brexiters had in mind when they decided to vote for Brexit and essentially sign a blank contract with the Tory party to just make it up as they go along?

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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Theresa May just told an enormous lie about the EU referendum campaign


Not only was Theresa May's Brexit speech rammed full of inherently contradictory nonsense, she also told a glaring outright lie to the British public.

In an attempt to justify her decision to drag the UK out of the Single Market she made the extraordinary revisionist claim that Brexiters had campaigned on a platform of quitting the single market all along. Here's exactly what she said:
"Both sides in the referendum campaign made it clear that a vote to leave the EU would be a vote to leave the Single Market." [source]
Here are a few reminders of what numerous Brexiters were actually saying before the EU referendum debate in order to hoodwink people into voting Leave.
"Only a madman would actually leave the market" - Owen Paterson, Tory Vote Leave campaigner
"Absolutely nobody is talking about threatening our place in the single market" - Daniel Hannan, Tory Vote Leave campaigner
"There's a free trade zone from Iceland to the Russian border and Britain will still be part of it after we vote leave." - Chris Grayling, Tory Brexit campaigner and current member of Theresa May's own cabinet!
"There is no question about it, Britain will still have access to the single market after we vote leave" - Matthew Elliot, chief executive of the Vote Leave campaign
"Britain will stay in the single market whatever happens" - Pete North, pro-Brexit blogger
Aside from numerous direct Brexiter claims that Britain should remain part of the single market, there were also a load of Brexiter claims that Britain should follow the Norway/Switzerland model, of existing outside the EU but having access to the Single Market. Here are some examples:
"Increasingly, the Norway option looks the best for the UK" - Arron Banks, Leave.EU founder and massive UKIP bankroller
"Wouldn’t it be terrible if we were really like Norway and Switzerland? Really? They’re rich. They’re happy. They’re self-governing" - Nigel Farage, Leave.EU campaigner and UKIP leader at the time
Norway, Switzerland, all of these countries have complete free trade with the EU, and by the way, I can't help noticing that they're doing pretty well." Daniel Hannan, Tory Vote Leave campaigner
Of course there were always Brexit extremists who consistently argued the case that Britain should commit economic self-harm by quitting the Single Market, but Theresa May's attempt to claim that all leave campaigners "made it clear that a vote to leave the EU would be a vote to leave the Single Market" is an absolutely transparent lie.

Still. If anything at all has been proven by Brexit, it's that Brexit supporters are generally more than happy to be repeatedly and egregiously lied to.


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Theresa May and the importance of preparing for every eventuality


Theresa May's long-anticipated January 17th Brexit speech was so rammed full of inherently contradictory nonsense it's difficult to know where to start.

Do we start with the bit where she claimed to be putting the Union "at the heart of everything we do" whilst simultaneously urinating all over Nicola Sturgeon's most important red line by announcing that the Tory party are going to try to drag Scotland out of the Single Market against their will? Surely such a dictatorial move is grounds for a second Scottish independence referendum?

Consider all her guff about how she wants "free trade with European markets""tariff-free trade with Europe""cross-border trade" whilst announcing her intention to drag the UK out of the largest free trade zone on earth, and quit the customs union to boot!

How about the bit where she claimed that she wants the UK to be "a magnet for international talent" whilst announcing her determination to drive countless skilled migrants away from the UK as part of an anti-immigration drive designed to appease Ukippers and the hard-right of the Tory party?

Then there's the bit about wanting to be "a good friend and neighbour to Europe" which was immediately followed up with a load of threats about the UK turning itself into a giant tax haven in order to steal wealth away from Europe if the EU don't give in to her ludicrous demands!

Probably the most ridiculously self-contradictory thing of all though was her assertion that the Tories must set about drawing up plans to turn the UK into a savagely right-wing tax haven economy because "It is right that the Government should prepare for every eventuality".

To assert such a thing in a speech that has taken the Tory party over six months to come up with because they didn't bother to even consider the possibility that David Cameron might actually lose his reckless EU referendum gamble is quite extraordinary.

The only bloody reason she's making this speech so long after the vote to Leave is that the government she was part of (Home Secretary is one of the major offices of state) not only failed to "prepare for every eventuality", but actually completely failed to prepare for one of the outcomes in a binary choice with just two possible outcomes!

And now she's got the absolute brass neck to lecture the public, and the rest of Europe, about the importance of preparing for every eventuality!

If this Tory Brexit shambles wasn't going to have such appalling consequences for millions of people, it really would be laughable.



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Monday, January 16, 2017

Has Philip Hammond given away the Tory Brexit strategy?


Philip Hammond's bizarre comments about Brexit to the German newspaper Welt am Sonntag have been interpreted by many as threats against the EU, but in my view they're actually a bit of a give-away about what the long-anticipated Tory "Brexit strategy" is eventually going to be.

For over six months after the EU referendum result came in Theresa May and the Tories have kept their Brexit strategy carefully hidden behind a wall of meaningless platitudes like "Brexit means Brexit" and "red, white and blue Brexit", but Hammond's comments give a very strong indication of what the actual Tory play is going to be.

The six months of strategic vacuum from the Tories has left people with little choice but to speculate about what kind of negotiating strategy the Tories are going to adopt. Will they press the economic self-destruct button by aiming for "hard Brexit"? Or will they enrage the significant Tory bigot demographic with a "soft Brexit" agreement to keep Freedom of Movement in return for access to the Single Market?

The problem with this hard vs soft debate is the fundamental assumption that the Tories have actually been working on a negotiating strategy with the EU, rather than devising a propaganda narrative to convince the British public to accept a savagely right-wing interpretation of Brexit.

Take this quote from Philip Hammond:
"If we have no access to the European market, if we are closed off, if Britain were to leave the European Union without an agreement on market access, then we could suffer from economic damage at least in the short-term ... “In this case, we could be forced to change our economic model and we will have to change our model to regain competitiveness."
Essentially what he is saying is that if the EU doesn't cave in to the Tories impossible demands to retain access to the Single Market whilst scrapping the right to free movement, then the Tories are going to set about trashing the remaining vestiges of the European social democratic model in the UK (universal healthcare, free education, the social security system, legal aid, workers' rights ...) in order to turn the UK into the world's biggest tax haven.

It's bitterly cynical, but the propaganda narrative the Tories seem to be trying to set is a pretty smart one. The hard-right fringe of the Tory party have always hated the socialist NHS , workers' rights and the idea of providing a social safety net to alleviate poverty and suffering. They want a ruthless right-wing dystopia where the rich are freed from all social and economic constraints whilst the poor and vulnerable are left to fend for themselves or die. They know that they can't push this savagely right-wing agenda as a choice, so they're going to try to dress it up as an unfortunate necessity that has been forced on us by the nasty foreigners.

It looks like the Tories have no honest intention of negotiating with the EU whatever. What they'll do is table an impossible proposition, then attempt to frame the debate so that the EU are the bad guys for dismissing the impossible proposition, rather than the Tories being the bad guys for tabling what they knew to be an impossible proposition with the intention of destroying the negotiations before they even got started.

The likely propaganda narrative will be that the evil EU is going to cruelly "close off" Britain, leaving the brave and defiant Tory party to take "the only possible action" of reducing corporation tax to pretty much zero and wrecking what's left of our public services.

"We don't want to do this" they'll protest as they gleefully trash the post-war legacy "but the evil EU made us do it". And disappointingly millions of people will buy into the story that the UK has to take a massive lurch into fanatical right-wing territory, not because that's what the Tories always actually wanted, but because the nasty, awful, horrible, evil EU made them do it.

The beauty of this propaganda strategy is that it feeds into the self-pitying victim complex mentality that Nigel Farage and the Ukippers have fostered as a national characteristic, and which worked such a treat in convincing people that things like the EU and immigration are to blame for the appalling consequences of four decades of hard-right Thatcherite economic dogma.


If millions of people were gullible enough to buy into the austerity con (that the burden of the economic crisis should fall on poor and ordinary people rather than the super-wealthy bankers who actually caused it with their utterly reckless deregulated gambling), then it seems pretty damned likely that there will be plenty enough idiots to buy into the ridiculous self-pitying idea that Britain has to turn into a fanatically right-wing Tory dystopia of a tax haven economy because the nasty EU made us do it.

The Tories and the right-wing press will frame the whole thing as a story of plucky down-trodden Brits doing what's necessary to stand up to the nasty European bullies, and millions of people will actually celebrate the ruination of what's left of their public services, the annihilation of their workers' rights, the removal of their individual liberties, and the massive reductions in corporation tax and regulation.

They'll actually celebrate it like some kind of magnificent victory for plucky little Britain rather than a deliberate hard-right assault on their wages, public services and standards of living obscured behind a thin veil of self-pity and xenophobia!

It looks an awful lot like the strategy the Tories have been working on isn't one of how to form a post-Brexit co-operation with the rest of the EU, but actually a plan to convince a significant enough portion of the British public that there's no alternative to their wet dream of turning the UK into a savagely right-wing tax haven in order that they don't end up losing their grip on political power in the process of enacting such an atrocious scheme.


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The blank contract con


In order to figure out if you're gullible enough to fall for the blank contract con you first need to imagine that you're dealing with a person with a very shady reputation. A used car salesman, a tabloid journalist or a politician. 

Next imagine that this shady character asks you to put your signature on a blank contract, promising you that they will fill in the terms of the contract later, offering all kinds of spectacular possibilities for the wonderful and beneficial things that they'll fill in on your behalf.

Of course almost everyone would agree that it would take a spectacularly gullible person to put their trust in such a character and stick their signature on an unwritten contract. However the evidence shows that reality is clearly a lot more challenging than this simple thought experiment about dealing with con-men.

In June 2016 17.4 million British people fell for an elaborate version of the blank contract con. During the referendum debate a load of incredibly dodgy and blatantly untrustworthy political chancers (Boris JohnsonMichael GoveNigel FarageIain Duncan SmithNeil "cash for questions" HamiltonGisela StuartJohn RedwoodArron Banksthe disgraced Liam Fox ...) promised all kinds of spectacularly unrealistic inducements to get the British electorate to sign the blank contract of Brexit.

Whatever your political perspective these con-artists had a promise for you: Signing the blank contract meant they could provide £350 million a week to the NHS, send away all the nasty foreigners, save the British steel industry, get rid of tax on domestic fuel bills, combat tax-dodging corporations, put an end to neoliberalism, make fantastical quickfire free trade agreements with the United States and other countries, stay in the single market, quit the single market, put bendy bananas back on the supermarket shelves ...). If the Brexit charlatans thought that there were naive and gullible people out there who could be convinced by it, then they said it, no matter how unrealistic, and no matter how badly it contradicted the other promises being hawked by other Brexit charlatans.

Unlike the Scottish independence referendum there was no white paper, there was no effort to spell out precisely what a leave vote would entail, there was no timetable for withdrawal. The contract was blank and these political snake oil merchants were willing to tell us literally anything to get us to sign it.

"Trust us", they pleaded. "Trust us and we'll give you exactly what you want", and shockingly, 17.4 million people actually trusted the hard right fringe of the Tory party and their UKIP Trojan Horse chums to deliver Brexit!

Within a day of the Brexit vote the con became obvious to anyone paying the remotest attention. The first thing the Brexit charlatans walked away from was the "£350 million a week" for the NHS pledge that was printed on the side of their bus. The rest soon followed.

We've now suffered well over six months of  mind-numbing "Brexit means Brexit" platitudes and secrecy over what the Tories are actually going to write into the pre-signed Brexit contract, and the omens are looking pretty bad. There's obviously no £350 million a week for the NHS, but there are plenty of increasingly fanatical hard-right fantasies that nobody even remotely sane would ever have voted for.

The Tory Chancellor Philip Hammond has threatened to turn the UK into the world's biggest tax haven and scrap the remaining vestiges of the European style social democracy. People signed the blank contract of Brexit for all manner of reasons, but only the tiny barkingly right-wing fringe signed it so that they could see a bonfire of stuff like universal healthcare, free education, the social security system and legal aid in order that Britain could be turned into a vast tax haven economy dedicated to stealing the wealth of other countries instead of producing our own.

Other Tories are salivating at the prospect of scrapping our human rights and replacing them with a set of Tory allowances. Labour rights, the right to privacy, the right to free speech and free assembly, the right to family life, freedom from slavery ... They see the blank Brexit contract as the perfect opportunity to get rid of these pesky impediments to the expansion of their own wealth and power.

The huge problem for the rest of us is that the blank Brexit contract is already signed now, with a bunch of ravingly right-wing Tories free to fill in the details to suit themselves and their dodgy financial backers.

If anyone tries to resist this dangerous Tory lunge to the hard-right then they will simply say that the contract is already signed. If anyone objects to the hard-right lunacy they Tories are going to fill in the pre-signed Brexit contract with, then the Brexit charlatans and the right-wing press will label them "traitors" and shriek about how vital it is that the "democratic mandate" is respected.

The fact that so many British people fell for the Brexit blank contract con means that the Tories now have a terrifying so-called democratic mandate to enact all of their most bonkers hard-right fantasies, and those of us who did our best to warn others that this would happen are left to contemplate the awful consequences.


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