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Member since April 26, 2016
Many thanks Caroline --
One point of at least partial agreement. You write that, "before the vote, very few people kicked up a fuss about having it. Cameron, Corbyn, and Sturgeon presumably thought the British people would vote to remain, so they allowed it to go ahead."
course, many people did kick up a fuss. Many pro-Remain politicians
and experts signaled loudly and clearly the dangers of populist
adventurism at the polling stations, given the incalculable consequences
of Brexit. You're right of course that party leaders ignored those
warnings, though certainly not motivated by the country's best
interests. Cameron wanted to unify the Tory Party and Sturgeon was only
ever eying independence. As for Corbyn, would he even know how to
manage the budget of your local Frisbee team?
-- only partial agreement on your view about a second referendum.
First, from a legal standpoint, let's be clear. There is absolutely no
way any government can foreclose future legislation simply by tossing
around brochures with the inscription "This is your last chance,
folks!". Indeed what is even meant by "generation"? Does the present
"generation" end, say, at 4:36 am on Christmas 2028? Or 5:28 pm on St
George's Day 2043? Only in British politics could so many people take such a
gesture to be anything more than empty rhetoric. If final and
definitive law could be made simply by the government in power passing
around leaflets -- phrased in such open-ended terms -- Her Majesty's Stationery Office would be busy indeed. There is no such thing as irreversible legislation, except maybe in North Korea.
if your real point is about PR, namely, that the public would simply
resent it -- "Keep voting until you deliver the result we want" -- then,
yes, that's a plausible and a weighty objection. I'm tempted to
propose a Referendum About Having Another Referendum, simply to punish everyone for their stupidity.
You and I do probably agree, then, on the most important point. Ultimately, this all remains in Parliament's hands, including what I believe could be a wholly compelling and wholly dignified withdrawal of the Article 50 declaration. That's why I continue to insist on the democratic illegitimacy of the referendum. That point needs to be repeated as often as necessary, so that if Parliament does face an overriding case against exiting, then perhaps it can change course with greater confidence of the electorate.
Yours with trust eternal in the forces of boringly sober moderation,
Jo, the point you made about raising awareness and action on political and public level is an interesting one. However, I am of the view that there is enough awareness about energy poverty, but perhaps majority of the concerned people choose to ignore it. Different initiatives have been set up at national, regional and international level but the problem of energy poverty keeps escalating mostly because it is the poor people who are largely affected especially those in rural areas.
The challenge of energy poverty is actually a complex one considering the fact that we have to address the issues of accessibility, reliability and affordability. Efforts to address the issue of accessibility and perhaps reliability can be envisaged regionally through the development of regional power grids and establishment of regional power pools- but there is still a big challenge with regard to the issue of affordability given the fact that majority of the people in rural areas will not afford modern energy like electricity since most of them rely on less than 3 dollars a day. So, even if modern energy is accessible and reliable, if the majority of people mostly in rural areas can not afford it, then they will opt for cheap energy such as biomass fuel-and this will definitely escalate deforestation (and of course climate change comes into play here)
I would suggest that the global community especially those international organisations such as UN and World Bank, take some steps to address the challenge differently. There is a need to re-define the problem of energy poverty and all the strategies that have been used previously, because clearly the challenge of energy poverty keeps escalating in Sub-Saharan Africa despite all the efforts and initiatives we have been seeing globally. The global community also tends to duplicate initiatives instead of discussing how the challenge can be tackled differently.
We definitely must raise the awareness and action on political and public level. Compared to environmental problems like global warming and ozone depletion, the social dimension of energy poverty is even more visible. This might help to stress the urgency of the matter.
Regarding Russia's drive to end the sanctions and at the same time claiming that they have no effect, it is clear Russia is caught up in its own propaganda. If the sanctions have no effect then who cares? Yet they do have an effect, and quite a big one.
According to data, more than half of Russia's population is now living below Russia's official poverty level and the economy is in very bad shape. The environment around Putin is angry because they accumulated billions and now they can't spend. The circle is becoming smaller and smaller, as a result of which Putin's paranoia is increasing by the day. Yet the message is that the sanctions have no effect. He could not say otherwise: to acknowledge would mean to acknowledge defeat.
One thing to keep in mind though is the particular Russian trait of survivalism: even under the most dire circumstances they are able to continue, survive, accept and swallow. So in that sense, the sanctions did not bring the country to its knees, for sure. But from a political and moral point of view, giving them up would be the worst possible scenario and would expand the life-span of Putin's regime considerably. Patience is the key here, but patience is what most Western European politicians don't have.
I think one of the big problems is that Putin c.s. are very effectively using Soviet propaganda methods by creating the impression that Russia is encircled with enemies ("fascists") and has the right to defend itself. By doing so it denies a number of very fundamental issues that are too complex for a wider public that wants simple answers.
First of all, it was the USSR that helped build the German army in the 1920s; it was the USSR that concluded the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact with Nazi-Germany; the republics that suffered most from the Nazi invasion were Belarus and Ukraine, not Russia. And then a sad fact is that Russia currently has the largest fascist movement on the European continent, has a government and leader that is quite fascist in its ways of operating and is currently the biggest threat to world peace. So I think a prolongation of sections is logical, but knowing Western politicians I also know they won't maintain this forever and Putin is just counting on this.
As soon as Trump is in power the whole political constellation in the world is going to shift, and with the US gone (e.g. because Trump will be bogged down by scandals at home) Europe will have a hard time standing up to a dictator who has no norms or values whatsoever - has, as Simon Baron-Cohen puts it, no or negative empathy.
As regards lifting visa requirements for Russians, there is no political will to achieve this result.
I think there will be a majority of votes in the EP for visa liberalisation for Ukrainian and Georgian citizens. Regretfully, most inhabitants of these countries will not be able to visit Europe for purely financial reasons. It is not enough to facilitate the visa regime - the living standards in Georgia and Ukraine shall be made high enough to permit ordinary people to travel in Europe.