WEDNESDAY 6TH FEB 2019 – There are many different victims of Brexit

A lovely day weather-wise today with some sunshine and dry. We had a good number of people present with lots of comings and goings as some could stay only a couple of hours.

I had a feeling that something may happen later today as there were lots of covert yellow-bellies around – it looked like the Orcs were gathering for a purpose.

Apparently we had a little problem with a stolen placard yesterday but it was a little older lady who looked rather troubled and so they only took her picture and did not report it.

We learned that there were some strange gatherings of right-wing factions plotting to take advantage of any chaos on a no-deal situation in a house near Parliament – an unholy alliance of the far-right, and it seems that there are many of these small far-right groups coalescing into larger more powerful organisations.

We are in for a fight for our democracy in the near future so be vigilant in your local areas.

There is also a new group that has arrived in the UK that is targeting young people called Turning Point which unfortunately is also an existing charity that does great work with young homeless people. I just hope they sue for copyright of the name.

This group has already been endorsed by the ERG members such as Priti Patel and Rees-Mogg and has links to several Alt-Right groups in USA – an American export we can do without along with hormone injected beef and chlorinated chicken.

We had a new supporter, a health worker from Eastbourne, and she told me that she has her father living in Sweden and she was now worried about going between UK and Sweden. She does not know how she could support him if he became ill?

Her parents came to the UK from Norway and she was born in the UK and holds a British passport so does not feel directly threatened with her residency.

She works in a medical field and so can work elsewhere if she wishes, especially as there are so many vacancies now in health services.

Another one of our interesting visitors originally came from Leeds and was a young and articulate Black woman who had a keen sense of politics. It was refreshing to meet such an enthusiastic and knowledgeable young woman.

She was most concerned about the rise of racism and xenophobia with Brexit and the continuing injustice of immigration and deportations, such as the flight to Jamaica that took place today for allegedly ‘criminal foreigners’, many of whom came to this country as young children.

Sajid Javid has stood up in Parliament yesterday, when answering an emergency question from David Lammy, about the obvious miscarriage of justice and lack of proper consideration of human rights.

Some of these so-called ‘serious criminals’ have ‘serious convictions’ of driving offences and one of them is an army veteran with two tours of Afghanistan and suffered from PTSD before he committed a violent crime. If these people had been white such a deportation would not even have been considered, as many of them had been living and working in the country for decades.

People who have served their sentences and paid the price for their crimes shouldn’t be doubly punished by being deported to a country they know nothing about and where they are going to be targeted by criminals there.

It is a desperate turn of events for the UK to be seen to be behaving in such a racist way after the Windrush scandal.

The young Black woman also joked that she now knows what her mum was talking about when she faced racism in the UK during the 1960s and 1970s – a lesson she could have done without.

I described my many experiences with the BNP and National Front in the past with black families being targeted and harassed in their own homes. We sincerely hoped that the UK will not return to those dark days where people felt unsafe to walk the streets just because of the colour of their skins.

I encouraged her to come along on 14th Feb for the forthcoming ‘meaningful vote’ on May’s plan which we hope will take place as there were rumours this ‘can’ may be kicked down the road once again.

She said that she would come next week, hopefully with some young friends.

We had a few familiar faces go by with Dominic Grieve and Lord Adonis wishing us well. We also spotted Michael Fabricant – that rather eccentric right-wing MP who is a figure of fun even to his Tory colleagues with his rather bad wig making him look like a poor man’s Boris.

We reflected on the MPs who have come out to talk to us and the kind Lords who came out with warm mince pies for us in early December last year. One supporter reported that a Labour woman MP came to talk and told us that she had received death threats about her Remain position and now she says that she cannot say what she really thinks any more.

It is such a terrible indictment of our Parliamentary democracy when our elected representatives cannot say what they really think for fear of personal attack. It made me think of the unforeseen and long-lasting consequences we are suffering and will continue to suffer for many years to come.

We have become more brutal and atavistic in our our everyday discourse and politics, which should set the standards for debate, has been reduced to an unedifying display of a series of self-serving power grabs by a bunch of amoral MPs.

It was an action-packed late afternoon with a Chinese bride, covert yellow-bellies, a Spanish politician, an Irish Anti-Brexit Superhero, the Ode to Joy and a lot of taxis.

The bride was part of a Chinese wedding party who decided to take their wedding photos on the steps of the monument. The bride looked beautiful, but we had a sudden deluge of covert yellow-bellies (without yellow vests) and they were obviously gathering for a purpose, but it was not apparent to us right up to the time I left.

They popped a few EU balloons, threatened to damage placards and generally acted like naughty schoolboys in the playground. So, we gave them no attention, but unfortunately couldn’t give them detention in a room located far away.

It seems that there were some old favourites in amongst the yellow-bellies and I suggested that we should produce a card with all their faces on it to allow us to pass the time by playing ‘Spot the Nazi’ Bingo. Not sure this particular board game will catch on outside of our group though.

We had our strangest anti-Brexit supporter to date, hailing from Cork in Ireland. It transpired that he was quite a sweet-natured man though he had rather unusual method of wearing his boxer shorts over his trousers, super hero style, with ‘No Brexit’ written on them.

Brexit really is pants, perhaps?

We also had an interesting visitor from Spain who came to us from observing debate in the House of Commons and he told us that he was a member of the European People’s Party, which has links with the UK Tory Party.

He said he was over in the UK to launch a new initiative in Europe to call for a second referendum on Brexit and he was talking to Conservatives about this. He asked if he could interview us about why we felt that there should be a People’s Vote, our views on freedom of movement and EU citizen rights. He seemed quite enthusiastic about his campaign and we can only hope that he is right.

We had a wonderful rendition of the Ode to Joy by the Musicians for Free Movement group too. It is great to have these musical interludes and it not only lifts spirits but also attracts more attention from the public – so keep coming, our musical friends.

A rather doleful passer-by stopped to tell us that he had voted Leave but now regrets his decision, as he felt that he was not given the full facts. He told us that he has a friend who moved to Spain and now his continued presence over there is being threatened by Brexit.

His friend is worried about his health care as he gets older and feels that he may have to return to the UK. We also informed him of the likelihood, in a no-deal scenario, that his friend’s pension would be frozen at the date of Brexit. He was further traumatised by this new information. Many older UK citizens people living in Europe will be forced to return home only to further test the resources of the health services here.

We went on to discuss the general impact of Brexit on the NHS as many EU staff have now left the UK leaving a lot of unfilled posts. As we were reducing the poor man to a gibbering wreck, we gave him information about the website ‘Remainer Now’, where he could discuss his feelings with others that had undergone a similar Damascene conversion.

There are many different victims of Brexit.

Towards the end of my stay at the demo there was a cavalcade of taxi cabs which drew up and then just stopped in the middle of the road blocking all flow of traffic.

One of our supporters went to ask what the protest was about and she was told that it was to ensure that we left the EU, but she had just asked the wrong cab driver. It was apparently about the banning of taxis from certain streets in Central London as part of an initiative to improve safety and air quality. It did not enamour the black cab drivers to us when Dash yelled ‘I always use Uber myself’.

We distracted him from this line of thinking by talking about the covert yellow-bellies but he just made a cryptic comment that when he dies his gravestone will have on it the following:

‘Worn down by NNFA’, which he translated as standing for Neo-Nazi Fucking Arseholes’, on which response we bid him farewell until tomorrow. Dash does have a nice turn of phrase sometimes…

May the force be with you – College Green – Wednesday 16th and Thursday 17th January 2019

WED 16TH & THURSDAY 17TH JAN – Very late report! Was not there very much on THURSDAY as I spent most of the day in a Police station giving a statement about an incident involving a far-right disruptor, but cannot give details here at present.

However, Treuwaz seems to have covered THURSDAY sufficiently with Bob Geldof’s positive comment, and the only thing to add was that Dave had spent the day ‘trying to be normal’ so Simon and I commented that this was going to be an uphill struggle.

Also had long chat with a Police Officer from South East Asia about thermal underwear, which was most illuminating about how the police cuts have resulted in officers on the street freezing their arses off in the cold weather. Prepare for next week!

So much quieter on WEDNESDAY after a tumultuous day Tuesday. On the way to Old Palace Yard, we spied a lone Leaver with his Union Jack and I recognised him from the day before when he was shouting ‘traitors’ at us. He had positioned himself right in front of Churchill’s statue and I was tempted to talk to him (but resisted) to inform him of Churchill’s view of closer ties with Europe just after WW2 when peace and stability was so crucial for rebuilding Europe. Churchill was always attracted to the idea of a ‘United States of Europe’ which goes further than any current push for closer union. He was a staunch proponent of a united Europe.

He said about sovereignty:

‘We are prepared to consider and, if convinced, to accept the abrogation of national sovereignty, provided that we are satisfied with the conditions and the safeguards… national sovereignty is not inviolable, and it may be resolutely diminished for the sake of all men in all the lands finding their way home together.’

Yet, Brexiteers are still trying to claim that Churchill would have voted Leave. Go figure.

It was a very peaceful day with few of us and fewer Leavers with none in our sight and only a handful outside the House of Commons.

Several of them were holding ‘Go WTO’ placards and we discussed how much they really knew about the consequences of WTO rules on our economy?

There are many serious negative effects for the UK of trading on WTO terms alone. It is clear that this is a ‘third league’ approach to trade that does not cover any issues around non-tariff barriers and standards of goods.

According to an ex-head of WTO, the ‘first league’ is an internal market, the ‘second league’ is a free trade agreement, with WTO being the worst option as it has set tariffs with little representation or say by its constituent members.

Even if we lowered tariffs to zero, firstly we would have to extend that same level to all countries under WTO rules and secondly we would flood the country with cheap imports which would have a disastrous impact on areas of our trade, particularly farming and car manufacturing both of which would be devastated.

Moreover, over 26 countries currently in WTO have strongly objected to the UK trying to rollover of current EU trade deals and the quotas agreed through the EU. It is estimated that it will take decades before our trade recovers from this hit. So much for the unicorn ‘managed no-deal’ which should have died along with the Maybot’s Plan A.

Had a great discussion with a supporter from South Wales who knew a lot about the Rhondda Valley and about how Wales voted Leave overall, especially the more deprived areas.

I had worked in social work in this area in the 1980’s so I know the region well.

He felt that the tide has turned now and that more people would vote remain, especially as there has been much more work done to inform people of how much EU funding has gone into Welsh infrastructure and that Wales gets far more cash benefits from the EU than they put in. People had voted Leave as they felt that they were inexorably sinking into poverty, unfairly treated, being ignored and not being listened to.

I went down to the Green and saw that the Jesus ‘Repent’ man had decided that the most heinous sinners were the politicians being interviewed and he was shouting at them ‘Jesus loves you’ and ‘He will forgive you’, which is just as well as no-one else will.

We had a few oddballs going past today such as rather strange young man who approached talking into his phone and trying to engage in ‘a little bit controversial’ discussion.

He had obviously seen Goddard on some video and was basically aping him, but he came across as a rather manic Adrian Mole with his exaggerated hubris only to have his pretensions dashed.

This was followed by an older man who barely paused for breath and was delighted to find a captive audience and so we were treated to a kaleidoscopic view of history which was hard to make sense of what he was saying.

He covered the history of several European countries and ended his thesis by concluding that Europe always seeks a ‘despotic leader’ and was authoritarian – so look out for the new Charlemagne in the upcoming European elections!

We also had a more positive passer-by when a person who voted Leave told us that he is now a firm Remainer, as he had believed the negative propaganda about the EU, and had since found out a lot more about all the positive things that have been achieved in the UK through the EU.

He now bitterly regrets his decision in 2016 and we pointed him towards the ‘Remainer Now’ initiative. Hang on to these people, they are the gold of the next People’s Vote Campaign if we can better understand what changed their minds.

Another passer-by sparked a discussion about Jeremy Corbyn and how he has handled the whole sorry Brexit process. His ridiculous push for a General Election, which he would almost certainly lose, and his cynical fence-sitting which should give him plenty of splinters in rather sensitive areas.

We all agreed that Labour must come out unequivocally for a People’s Vote whatever happens and that Article 50 needs to be extended or revoked immediately – amendment soon please !

We had a long relaxed chat with the two lovely Police Liaison Officers that regularly patrol our area. We talked about free speech and legitimate protest which the Officer thought was fine unless people engage in blocking roads or abusive behaviour.

She recounted how, at Hyde Park, Speaker’s Corner had changed and that it was like dealing with a bunch of 5 year olds.

We could only agree with her and sympathise with their plight at having to constantly sort out disputes about who should stand in a particular part of the pavement.

I did make the point that their job was so important in protecting free speech and democracy. The thuggish behaviour of a few people, wishing to bully and harass, was a real threat to our democratic process in this country and it was only going to get worse soon unless clear boundaries are set through policing.

Public disorder is on the increase and it is being driven by far-right activists; politicians and police have to review how they respond to this challenge.

Great to have this dialogue with the Police and we are so lucky to generally have a decent bunch of people in the Force with very few going over to the Dark Side.

People being arrested on Tuesday was at least a step forward through more proactive policing though it is a fine line for the Police in terms of civil liberties.

We had our last conversation about how Leavers were hankering for the Great Britain of old, before it joined the EU.

Apart from the overt racism I mentioned in my last report, there were endless strikes in the 1970’s resulting in shortages and power cuts, the three-day working week, bins not being collected, we had the troubles in Northern Ireland, which had spilled over into the rest of Britain with frequent bombings and deaths.

We were called the ‘sick of man of Europe’ (a term that was originally used about the Ottoman Empire in 1916) and we had very poor economic performance compared to other European countries.

We have done extremely well out of EU membership which people seem to ignore.

As one supporter put it from something she has heard – ‘When you are on the edge of a cliff be careful about taking a step forward’ – which sums up well where we are at now with Parliament. Take care and may the Force be with you.

A Day in the Life of an Anti-Brexit protestor – College Green Wed 09/01/19

WEDNESDAY 9TH DEC – Seems like yesterday in the ‘sunlit uplands’ was just a respite as we descended into the depths of Mordor with the return of the yellow-vested Orcs, but more of that later.

We did also have one Evil Hobbit, who managed an early insult towards Raenim, calling her a ‘Nazi’ – rather bizarre as a you could not meet a more mild mannered and polite woman.

This verbal, vertically challenged woman was the one that had tried to burn little EU flags in an earlier demo and nearly set herself on fire. She is quite religious and often quotes the Bible, particularly the passages that say that the UK does not belong in the EU – extremely good prediction for such an ancient text.

We refrained from asking to see her feet to confirm our Hobbit theory.

Raenim was not bothered as she has worked with teenagers excluded from from school and so she says she has a very thick skin and a high tolerance level for personal abuse. I could sympathise having been involved in social work for over 40 years and it seems being a peaceful demonstrator is sadly now another activity where you have to put up with abuse.

The Leavers have a new wheeze with a small cart on pram wheels with loads of notices such as ‘Save Our Sovereignty’, a drum and a Liberty Bell which they were constantly ringing while banging the drum. This caused so much racket that Lord Roberts appeared mainly to complain about the noise. He did a quick TV interview and went back in.

We thought that this weird vehicle would be what we are left with to bring goods into the country after Brexit! I wonder if they know that the original Liberty Bell was completely cracked and could not be mended, not a good symbol for the UK after Brexit I feel.

It wasn’t long before there were more Yellow-bellies there and the first very noisy and offensive man started repeatedly shouting ‘Out Means Out’ which appears to be a truism that you don’t need a dictionary for.

It went through my mind that if he was in Yorkshire they would hear this as ‘Anything means Anything’ which is logically more accurate. In any case we added ‘Chaos’ on his second ‘Out’ which seemed to shut him up a bit.

The Yellow-bellies became more restless and frustrated and so upped their insult level by calling us ‘traitors’, ‘paedos’, ‘paid lackeys of the EU’ and the worst one they could come up with was strangely ‘social workers’ (I thought that estate agents were most hated).

They became so loud we had to ‘Jerusalem’ them with a rousing chorus of the whole hymn with the aid of Nicola’s smartphone. An interesting song based on a William Blake’s poem that posits a supposed visit to the UK by Jesus accompanied by Joseph of Arimathea; apparently he went to Glastonbury – I’ve heard of coming early to a Music Festival but that is ridiculous.

We then shouted consider yourselves ‘Jerusalemed’ and amazingly it made them go quiet for at least half an hour. It did start up again so we had to bring out the big gun and gave them a chorus of ‘God Save the Queen’ – mainly for the cameras as they were calling us traitors at the time. It is all about marketing these days.

During all this chaos and noise with the yellow-belly football chants, the Liberty Bell and drum we had Pietho standing on the steps with her little speaker reciting her thoughtful and challenging anti-Brexit poems.

Guess what the Police did, having stood by and watched us getting bawled at, the Leaver Liberty pram clanging away – yes, they told Pietho to turn off her tiny speaker as it violated the Westminster by-laws.

She continued to recite but was straining her voice – I have asked her to send a poem through and will share.

We also had a Chinese couple in their wedding gear come along to shoot some pictures as it seems that a riotous demo is a good backdrop for your wedding photos in China.

The volume level went up a notch when the ‘Jesus man’ appeared (with his speaker) telling us that Brexit cannot save Britain only Jesus can. Optimistically, we felt that this was another heavenly argument to Remain.

Meanwhile, one of the yellow-belly female Orcs was constantly telling us the we were possessed by the Devil and this made us all child abusers. It was an interesting theological hypothesis I thought. This yellow-belly only became quieter when she did a fairly long interview with Portuguese TV. Goodness knows what she said and how she represented us as Britons to this foreign audience? At least her head did not do a 360 degrees.

We had to wonder at one of the incompetent Leavers with his beautifully made placard all shiny and colourful. Unfortunately he had written in bold lettering ‘Brusell Spouts Voted Leave’ instead of ‘Brussels Sprouts’ (photo attached) so he got zero out of two for spelling and nothing for history as they came from Brussels in the 16th Century.

He compounded his accident-prone impression by promptly tripping over the kerb and landing heavily on his placard, he immediately got up and continued on as if nothing happened – we politely averted our eyes but could not help having a little giggle.

I had to leave because of childminding duties, but I know things were hotting up with the arrival of more from the yellow-belly Orc army. Hopefully, it did not result in the Battle of the Two Towers! Please let us know if others can shed light on what the dark forces of Mordor were up to later in the day.

The Brexit bus was still appropriately going in circles around Parliament like some great polluting vulture circling the diseased body politic that is currently our Government.

It seems the politicians are more concerned with archaic Parliamentary procedures rather than making the most important decision for our country since the Second World War.

Our democracy is on life-support at present with freedom of speech and peaceful demonstration under threat from far-right thuggery while our police stand passively watching democracy die.

In ancient Greece, the best people to cure the body politic were thought to be the poets, so the highlight of the day for me was Pietho’s quiet voice reciting her powerful and impassioned poetry.

A Living Thing

Of the countless
The very worst of the lies
Was about the very nature of our democracy
Soundbites and catchphrases have indoctrinated the public
They think “the will of the people” is static
They’ve been fed such falsehood
That a democratic vote could damage democracy
I despair
This wall of rhetoric we must break through is high
It has proved an effective weapon
In this civil information warfare

The truth is simple
Democracy is a living thing
At the mercy of time like you and I
It must always move forward
Evolving with every vote
It is the current
The up to date will of the people
That will always trump that of two years ago

It is the denial of informed consent
That is the intolerable subversion of our democracy
A dagger called Brexit through it’s beating heart