Now is the time to write to your MP to influence Brexit

The political landscape is a changeable place at present. If you want the UK to Remain in the EU, now is the time to write to your MP about it. If you put your case convincingly enough, then it is quite possible to make a difference by writing to your MP. Anything that can remind politicians to put their duty above their party has to be a good thing. Be polite, do your research on your MPs position and don’t accept ‘no’ for an answer. If you don’t know who your MP is, then find out here by typing in your postcode: Who is my MP?


Seeking ideas for new anti-Brexit campaigns

The lack of solidity from May etc continues to shock. This blog and my tweets are intended to provide a starting point for those unhappy with Brexit to find groups who are rallying supporters or organising protests or campaigns.

I am now seeking ideas for new campaigns. These might involve online actions and campaigns, or real life. I might be able to garner support, or offer it. If you have specific ideas for anti-Brexit and pro-common sense campaigns, please get in contact touch and I would be happy to discuss it.

Ahead of the triggering of A50, there are a lot of unhappy people at present…if you need  proof, just watch the ITV coverage of last Saturday’s anti-Brexit march and count those 120k+ angry, but polite, people. I am in that footage somewhere!

There are other places to look to see support too. If you didn’t watch Question Time last night it was (for once) quite evenly managed and at least mentioned many of the important angles.

The pendulum has swung as far right as we are getting to let it!

The triggering of A50 might now be inevitable, but now the fight begins…for instance you can make a difference online immediately. Pick a battle and win it.

No sign of unity from May yet

Despite her long speech today, in which she did mention the word ‘tolerance’ at least once, most of the emphasis was on appeasing those who blame immigrants for everything. In fact, May’s main point revolved around Freedom of Movement effectively being cited as the reason for the referendum ‘s result to Leave the EU.

I agree. It was the main reason, although many I have spoken with on Twitter have assured me otherwise: ‘I own a business’, or ‘I am a economic theorist’ or some other reason. The thing is, either Theresa May doesn’t believe you, or you were accidentally hood-w8nked into believing that for most Leave voters, the referendum in June was really about hatred and selfishness rather than purity of an economic type.

Today, May tried to convince us of many things, some of which she clearly didn’t believe herself (head down, minimal eye contact) but she did not attempt to convince those filled with racism and hatred that they should instead unify towards their cousins. Instead, it is the cousins and those who voted for tolerance who should unify and stop arguing with the elite.

And the reason? Simple: May clearly needs the racist vote. She needs it to provide her party with seats and to provide herself with a mandate to do the things the right-wingers tell her to do. But anyone looking at her during the speech today could tell she was flustered. She was not comfortable (well, who would be), but there were times when she seemed terrified. She also needed a spruce after seemingly coming out of hiding from a nearby bush. Surely someone in the cabinet must have had access to a hairbrush (don’t ask Boris), or perhaps May was just emphasising that if she could manage not having access to things she needed, then so could we little people. 

So what made her uncomfortable? I think the racism and the change to UKIP-style rhetoric bothers her. I think this is a chink in her sub-standard Iron Lady outfits, and I think her continuing and undaunting inability to denounce the racism and hatred which has been prevalent since the June referendum will be her downfall.

May has been hiding in that bush for 7 months, and all she has to show for it is a speech full of platitudes to Brexiteers and aneven more crumpled demeanour than she had before.

It’s just a matter of time.

Making a difference – join a pro-Remain group

If you feel strongly that the UK will not benefit from leaving the EU, then why not join a pro-Remain group?

Find like-minded individuals with ideas and suggestions on how to make a difference.

Here is a list for starters:

Britain for Europe is an alliance of local, regional and national groups, all sharing the same aim of staying in the EU. Get involved! The long list of groups can be found here.

European Movement has a focus on getting involved, with campaigns, events in your area, and the all-important Mythbusters section. The Fight Isn’t Over!

InFacts is a journalist-based group dedicated to making the best of post-referendum Britain. The group fights against a destructive Brexit with up-to-date news and comment, articles, a great MythBusters section, and animation too.

Scientists for EU is a campaign group dedicated to keeping the UK in the EU. Science is increasingly international, so it is madness to isolate our scientific community?

Got any suggestions? Get in contact via Twitter.

Making a difference (part2) in Twitter

Twitter often gets the news before the news channels, and sometimes straight from the horse’s mouth.

I favour the approach of trying to engage with brexiters, including those who are racists. This approach isn’t without problems,

Whether you are new to Twitter or not, if you like getting your current affairs info without spin or you want to get quick interpretations from other people in the know, then Twitter is where you should be (it is also possible to find every concievable interpretation of any particular news item, so do remember to bring your own brain with you).

Finding people to Follow. It’s easy to Follow people and fill up your feed with rubbish. If you have been on Twitter for years, then you will have built up a list of interesting people to Follow, but one of the main problems (I think) with Twitter is that it isn’t quick to find an initial good-quality list of people to follow on Twitter for an accurate feed of information on a particular topic without being over-run by random tweets.

Your own Follow list will undoutedly get fine-tuned over time, but these lists can be useful for long-term Twitterers too in order to avoid the ‘echo chamber’ effect. Either way, getting a new list of people to follow can be a real boost for an otherwise dull feed (or to dive into a new interest or issue…hence this post of course).

Managing your Follows efficiently by using Lists and other methods can become important if you have a lot of Follows, or if you don’t want to Follow everyone for ever, as will avoiding the pitfalls and idiots.

AntiBrexit contacts aren’t always easy to find, so see my post on Follow Recommendations for Twitter where you can find some starter lists.

Anti-troll tips. Another, bigger, problem with Twitter, is the existence of the legendary Trolls. Trolls are an unfortunate reality of Twitter, especially if you are engaging in political discussions. It is clear that some people think that freedom of speech means ‘freedom to annoy and abuse’, but there are ways to deal (or cope) with most situations. With a bit of practice, Trolls can often be dealt with or reported or turned away.

For serious issues, you should contact Twitter directly, but here are some tips for getting rid of trolls or minimising their impact:

  • Consider carefully what personal information you display on Twitter. As well as some inspirational and informative people, there are also some troubled and manipulative people on Twitter. If you are engaging in political discussion about Brexit, then you will get abuse. Unless you are seeking attention or a personal visit, do not put information such as addresses, phone numbers, place of birth, birthdate online. If you choose to use your real name, be aware that in the current political climate there are a lot of zealots about.
  • Report the user. This should be your first consideration if the level of abuse/insults is troubling. If you are receiving direct abuse or harassment, do not delay. You can find the Twitter support page here:
  • Report specific Tweets.
  • Block a user.
  • Temporarily Block. If you block someone, you then can’t see what they’re posting, and sometimes it is better to know. If you can bear peeking, try unblocking them after several hours (or days).
  • Mute. You can just stop seeing someone’s posts – they can still see yours. As with Blocking, you can choose to Mute someone for a few hours or a few days if you think they’ll calm down and engage in future conversations.
  • Adding a troll to an (insultingly named) twitter list sometimes annoys them enough for them to block you. Handy.
  • Remember that Twitter isn’t a safe place for kids.This is a bit of an aside, but in my opinion, if your child is trying to convince you that Twitter is safe, don’t believe them.

Making a difference (part 3) – Current polls, petitions and surveys

Here are some more things you can do to make a difference.

There are always some opinion polls, surveys, petitions etc to sign, and here is a list of current suggested polls in which you might be interested, along with their closing dates:

Leveson Enquiry (#Leveson2, closing date 10/01/2017, 5pm) 
If you think the press needs stronger regulation, then consider signing this. Led by the legendary @hackedoff , this is a continuation of the Leveson Enquiry about the phone hacking scandal, mainly involving News International.

The guidance on the @hackedoff site gives a template suggesting responses, which include this explanatory note:

This consultation is no substitute for Leveson’s 15-month inquiry which concluded, after receiving evidence from hundreds of expert witnesses, that that there should be new costs rules to incentivise publishers to join a recognised regulator.

Parliament enacted section 40 on the basis that it would be commenced, not that commencement was discretionary.

On the contrary, the Government promised the public and Parliament many times that the incentives in the cross-party agreement would be delivered.

Victims of press abuse need access to justice to take action against those newspapers who have not accepted Leveson style approved regulation. S.40 delivers that.

It is clear that many newspapers will not sign up to independent regulation without powerful incentives.’



There aren’t many heroes left

2016 has been a rubbish year, particularly for the deaths of many people who were classed (by many) as heroes.

Almost everyone in the UK is likely to regard at least one of the following people as a hero: Muhammad Ali, Gene Wilder, David Bowie, Leonard Cohen, John Glenn, Prince, George Michael, Ronnie Corbett, Carrie Fisher, Terry Wogan, Victoria Wood, Alan Rickman.

There are fewer heroes at the end of 2016 than there were at the start, and even fewer of the real heroes (some of whom also appear in the list above) who fought in World War II. Veterans of WWI and WWII are the real heroes, as they fought for what we have, and for what we so easily give away.

In 2017, we will be looking for new heroes for a new age. And they will need to replace the divisive anti-heroes who have come to the fore during 2016.

Man of the people

I’m not going to mention him by name here, but let’s just call him ‘Voldemorte’ (for the Harry Potter fans among you, that should be sufficient).

I’ve never liked establishment figures masquerading as being ‘of the people’, and I resent the implication that someone represents me, when they do not – you might have noticed that by my current profile image too.

I’ve never liked self-important, self-appointed, self-serving politicians, the BNP, unfairness, smugness, rich people who claim expenses, blind-subservience, Piers Morgan or Ferrero Rocher either. Imagine my disdain when someone containing features of all of those things becomes convinced that he is some sort of deity. Imagine also that he demands unerring reverence too, and speaks in terms which suggests that many of the good things and good people in the world are ignored, and that I am told by this man and his supporters that racists, homophobes and bigots are in fact ‘right’.

They are not ‘right’. He is not ‘right’. They are right-wing extremists and not fit for ministerial office. Thankfully, Voldemorte has never been an MP, and never will be (I’m cheering up now). Voldemorte is an MEP, but not a useful or well-respected one, and he’s not even the self-appointed leader of anything at present (I’m really cheering up now).

He is not a ‘Man of the People’, he is (to quote Will Self) a ‘grubby little opportunist’ and one day the forelock-tugging of his followers will turn to disbelief that he has caused them such financial hardship and a lessening in protection via the removal of workplace regulations.

I suspect he’ll get drunker than usual and throw himself into his moat one moonlit night.