Mathew’s Musings – commentary on this week’s news

No s***, Brexit

This week, two significant individuals have told various truths about the impending catastrophe that is Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union and have both faced ridicule and scorn for daring to do so.
Firstly Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England, expressed the statement of the obvious that uncertainty due to Brexit is already having a negative effect on the UK’s economy.

Well, no s*** Sherlock.

The growth forecast has been revised down and the pound has fallen.

Consumer confidence has also taken a hit.

This comes as no surprise at all to those of us who knew that those saying breezily that ‘nothing has changed’ since the poll last June, were heading for a very big wake up call.

And all this is before we’ve actually left the EU.

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair is right to refer to Brexit as a massive act of ‘self-harm.’
Then, on this very day, the new Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar called Brexit ‘the challenge of this generation.’

Visiting Northern Ireland, the Fine Gael politician said ‘every single aspect of life in (the province) could be affected by Brexit,’ and pointedly stated that those in the UK Tory Government who want a hard Brexit have had fourteen months to come up with a plan and have palpably failed to do so.

He indicated that more moderate forces must now do so.

For making these demonstrably sensible and straightforward statements both Carney and Varadkar have faced criticism and mockery from the Brexit-backing keyboard warriors, who believe any criticism of our withdrawal and the way the British Government is dealing with it is tantamount to treason.

In fact, we need more people of substance to be raising these and other concerns.

We’re currently perilously close to a cliff-edge, from which the landing if we fall off it is likely to be harder economically, culturally, socially and emotionally than anything we’ve faced as a nation in decades.

As Vince Cable rightly says, we need an ‘exit from Brexit.’

And we need it now!

Mental Health

We’re fortunate in our party to have the leading advocate for better Mental Health provision, services and parity of any political party, in our Health Spokesperson and former Care Minister Norman Lamb.

It’s devastating to see this current Tory-only government rolling back on the funding commitments made for Mental Health during the Coalition years.

It’s yet another reminder, whatever the criticism some of us have of those years, of the difference having Liberal Democrat Ministers in place made on a range of policy areas.

Though no longer in Ministerial office, Norman Lamb continues to be a powerful champion for genuine parity between mental and physical health.

As we’ve heard so powerfully attested to this week, at present all too many people suffering with mental ill health-and especially children and young people-are being let down by a government which talks the talk on Mental Health but fails, time and again, to walk the walk.

Thank goodness we have Norman and grassroots advocates like my friend Lee Dargue, to hold their feet to the fire.

War and peace

On Sunday, I took myself off to the cinema in Hinckley to see ‘Dunkirk.’

A deeply powerful and arresting film, it portrays the Dunkirk evacuation in the Second World War.

A reminder of the sacrifices of so many of what was, arguably, the bravest generation.

I’m as near to being a pacifist without actually being one, if that makes sense.

I believe armed combat must be the absolute last resort and all diplomatic efforts must be exhausted before conflict is entered in to.

But, sometimes, as in the 1940s, there is no other alternative.

I, like millions of others, am eternally grateful to my late grandparents’ generation for the sacrifices they made, to save us all from tyranny.

It is now our job to ensure the peaceful inheritance they granted us is not squandered.

* Mathew Hulbert is Vice Chair of Bosworth Constituency Lib Dems and a former Councillor.

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13 Comments

  • nigel hunter 4th Aug '17 - 11:51pm

    Hard Brexit to the Brexiteers is accomplished by doing NOTHING (or the very minimum) so that they can then just walk away into the Sunset (a UK that then has to start from scratch in a new world) bearing in mind that they will be least affected due to the money they have in the bank.
    Of course there is also the possibility that they have not a clue how to get out of the mess that they have got us into and hope others will sort it out for them.What is next in the story?
    The judge with the mentally ill young woman has damned the present situation.They searched for a bed and found one.However the search should have been unnecessary with an institution ready for this person. Equally is the support not only for this case but for others available 24/7 WITHOUT any drawbacks?

  • I think that the most upsetting thing I have read lately, is that the aged people(I am one) have said that they dont care if Brexit harms our country..just leave

  • Peter Hirst 5th Aug '17 - 10:23am

    I suspect there is no satisfactory solution to the Irish dimension of Brexit. It may be that some compromise is achieved that has implications beyond our exit. I find the issue quite scary especially with the Northern Ireland politicians becoming entrenched. What we need is flexibility, something that previous experience does not give me huge optimism of. Surely the default position is a physical barrier between north and south, something no-one wants. Is it a big enough obstacle to derail the whole project? Perhaps the people of Ireland should decide.

  • Christopher Haigh 5th Aug '17 - 11:36am

    @bobsayer, older people may be finding it difficult to come to terms with the societal, technological and economic driven liberalisation of the UK since the 1950’s and 60’s. The EU is probably the scapegoat for their angst.

  • Richard Underhill 5th Aug '17 - 12:41pm

    Mr Varadkar needs to be careful, as his predecessors have been, because of the size of the Irish economy: its biggest trading partner is the UK. West Germany was able to afford to pick up the smaller economy of East Germany, but the Republic of Ireland has tended to say that they do not want to pick up the bill for Northern Ireland. (South Korea does not want to pick up a bill for North Korea, even if there were savings in planned defence spending). Asking the UK to continue to pay for Northern Ireland for (how many?) years is likely to create a refusal.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leo_Varadkar
    It follows that there is now a logical link between the stalled devolution agenda and the Brexit negotiations. Theresa May is on holiday.

  • Sue Sutherland 5th Aug '17 - 1:17pm

    Bob and Chris, I’m of the baby boomer generation and I voted Remain as did lots of others. Please don’t let us fall into the trap of saying all baby boomers voted Brexit and don’t care about the economy or jobs for their family as some of the headlines have done. It was around 60% of those over 65 who actually voted Brexit who gave that horrifying response to the survey, not all of us at all, in fact a minority. Even so, I can’t understand that reaction at all.
    Another issue is that Dunkirk is regarded as an all white battle. It wasn’t. There were soldiers from the French and British empires who took part as well. Paddy Ashdown’s father was ordered to abandon his Indian troops but ignored it and brought them back. Let’s make sure we set the record straight for all minorities.

  • The old Brexiteers seem to think any pain will be felt by the young. They couldn’t be more wrong the young can move and with them gone who pays the pensions and looks after the old; be rather a shock to them when that fact becomes clear, many sad pandas there will be.

  • Like Sue, I am a golden oldie who voted remain – and I care about the future probably much more than some of the right wing young fogeys (some of whom are in this party)..

    Please don’t let’s start up some sort of age war………. it’s more of an English problem –
    looking at the result in Scotland. It’s also a reflection about how alienated so many in the North of England feel about the effect right wing free market economics has had on their communities over the last thirty eight years.

  • Alan Depauw 6th Aug '17 - 10:07am

    It is not just the government that has a cavalier approach to the Irish issue. Check out this comment about Leo Varadkar from Kate Hoey, interviewed by the Ulster News Letter:
    http://www.newsletter.co.uk/news/irish-pm-should-help-uk-on-brexit-says-hoey-1-8089203
    (quoted in yesterday’s Financial Times)

    “I would like to see him being the person sticking up for the United Kingdom in their negotiations with the EU.”

    The attitude expressed towards Ireland is shocking. Kate Hoey seems to believe the Republic should behave as some sort of supplicant or dependent adjunct to the UK. Has she returned to the historic Unionism of her roots, so disparaging as it was of its southern neighbour? How dare she demand its Taoiseach to stick up for the United Kingdom instead of for the interests of his nation which he and his people have determined, as is their sovereign right, lie with the EU?

    Yet this may well express the view of many who voted for Brexit and of many government ministers. They just do not care about the consequences for Ireland of the UK leaving the single market. Fortunately, the EU does.

  • Andrew Fitton 6th Aug '17 - 12:08pm

    In my experience experts holding senior positions of responsibility have those positions because they have knowledge and integrity in spades. I have always found those who attack the experts disappointing, especially if the attack is caused by the expert being at odds with the views of the attacker. An economic expert such as Mark Carney setting out points of concern should be cause to reflect, not cause to attack.

  • Ian Sanderson (RM3) 5th Aug ’17 – 5:48pm: The only party in Northern Ireland that’s for Brexit is the DUP,…

    …and from (beyond) the other end of the political spectrum Republican Sinn Féin…

    ‘British EU Referendum result weakens old and new imperialisms’ [June 2016]:
    https://republicansinnfein.org/2016/06/24/british-eu-referendum-result-weakens-old-and-new-imperialisms/

    We are proud of our record of consistently opposing the construction of a militarised and undemocratic Superstate in every referenda held in the 26 Counties since the original referendum on membership of the EEC in 1972. This is the only position that Irish Republicans can hold if we are serious about creating an independent Ireland based on the principles of the 1916 Proclamation. There is no point in removing the shackles of British imperialism only to replace them with the political and economic imperialism of the EU.

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