Posts Tagged ‘Brexit’

Brexit – One Year On

Sunday, January 31st, 2021

Celebrating Brexit in Parliament Square

A year ago there were people celebrating that we were about to leave Europe. Some of them are probably still celebrating now, though we’ve yet to see any of the many advantages that were promised, and have had to come to grips with a few of the downsides.

People had come from across Britain to celebrate

Of course the virus has rather taken our minds off Europe, and while the date of 31st January 2020 had political significance, the transition period and apparently endless bickering over a trade agreement meant that effectively we only left on Christmas Eve – and with an agreement that, thanks to the ridiculous negotiating strategy of our government who seemed to expect that Europe would somehow cave in if we kept shouting at them in English that we would leave without a deal, was considerably less favourable than was on offer earlier in the process.

It’s been a year in which the sheer incompetence and greed of the Conservatives in handling the virus emergency – and in particular the handing out of contracts to their unsuitable and unqualified friends and donors and a dogmatic attitude towards local government and their efforts over previous years to move the NHS towards privatisation has led to many tens of thousands of avoidable deaths. In particular the near-total failure of a national system of tracking and tracing and a poorly implemented phone-based system seemed deliberately designed to increase transmission, perhaps in line with the government’s initial espousal of developing herd based immunity. This would have required a very high percentage of the population to have become infected, and given what was known at the time about the likely death rate, would have resulted in around 400,000 early deaths. Some in government apparently saw that as a bonus, as these would largely have been among the elderly and unproductive, hugely reducing the payments of pensions and other benefits and, post-covid, the costs of what remained of the NHS.

EU Supergirl’ Madeleina Kay – Forever Europe

But back on 31st January a year ago, Covid was not much on our minds (I began to get warnings I should isolate though contacts with those scientists advising the authorities a couple of weeks later – and it took another month after that for the government to react.) But Europe very much was, and as well as those celebrating there were others mourning our loss and celebrating “the 47 years we were in the EU and all we contributed and the positive influence it has on our country.”

A man shouts insults

The deliberately met several hours before the pro-Brexit celebrations were due to start avoid any clashes as they marched from Downing St to the offices of the European Commission in Smith Square, but despite this triumphant extreme-right Brexiteers came to Downing St to shout insults, calling the EU supporters traitors and telling them they were not British, bad losers and more. After police had managed to separate the more aggressive of them moving them to the centre of Whitehall they then attempted to burn an EU flag. The flag refused to burn, though it melted a little in the parts that were heated and the flames came almost entirely from an aerosol spray and some paper fliers.

Marchers celebrate our 47 years as part of Europe

The march went ahead, with just a few jeers as it passed through Parliament Square. At Europe House the European Commission staff came out to welcome them and were given flowers and there was a short speech expressing thanks for what the EU has done for our country and hoping that one day we will rejoin Europe.

European Commission staff meet the march outside Europe House

I went home then not wanting to join in the celebrations that were shortly to take place in Parliament Square. As I wrote at the time:

I’d had enough of Brexit. We will have to live with its consequences for some years and I’m not looking forward to it. Times are likely to be tough for the poor, the disabled, the sick and for workers generally,
including most of those who voted for it and were celebrating in Parliament Square. The wealthy will of course gain – not least by avoiding the clamp down on tax evasion which the EU is now beginning.

My London Diary, Jan 31 2020

À bientôt EU, see you soon
Extremist Brexiteers Behaving Badly
Brexiteers celebrate leaving the EU


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


Inauguration Day

Wednesday, January 20th, 2021

Trafalgar Square, 20/1/2017

Four years ago, on 20 Jan 2017, London was protesting against another inauguration, that of Donald Trump. Commenting on those protesting outside the US Embassy – still then in Grosvenor Square I wrote:

All were appalled at the thought of a president who is a climate change denier, has a long history of racist and Islamophobic outbursts, has boasted of sexually assaulting women and has downplayed the severity of sexual violence.

Crowds protest Trump’s Inauguration

The four years that followed have confirmed most of our worst fears and in some ways gone further than we imagined, for example with disastrous polices in the Middle East and in particular over Israel and Palestine.

There will not be significant protests in London today, and even if police were not enforcing Covid restrictions particularly rigorously against protests I don’t think there would have been. We may not have any particularly high hopes for Biden and Harris, but at least they are almost certain to be better than Trump.

At least the US seems certain to re-engage with climate change – although probably still intent on keeping the US as the world’s largest polluter and allowing US companies to plunder the world for resources. And though it’s good to have a slightly saner finger close to that nuclear button it seems unlikely that the US will stop supporting corrupt fiefdoms in the Middle East and elsewhere and desist from supporting coups against popular governments that attempt to regain control over their own resources in South America and elsewhere.

Though I do hope for some positive surprises in the first hundred days, and there have certainly been rumours of some. Perhaps we will see the cancellation of some of the more environmentally damaging projects given the go-ahead by Trump. Almost certainly there will be fewer racist rants and tweets and there could even be some real progress on civil rights.

But while we may have some hopes for the United States of America, the future for our United Kingdom remains depressing. Suffering under the burden of Brexit and Covid, with a government that continually proves itself both corrupt and inept and an opposition which is ineffectual and sycophantic – and currently outclassed, outgunned and outplayed by a young footballer.

And that ‘United’ is less and less than ever appropriate; Brexit divided the country, and most of us now realise it was a terrible mistake – even increasingly more of the 34% who voted for it. It has created a border between the mainland and Northern Ireland and exacerbated the gap between England and Scotland. Even Wales seems more distant, though it has protected our relationships with those tax havens that make us possibly the most corrupt country in the world.

There is one small glimmer of hope, apart from the vaccinations that may just eventually allow us to gain some accommodation if not exactly control over Covid. Last Sunday saw the inauguration of the Project for Peace and Justice, founded by Jeremy Corbyn, an international campaign which describes itself as “a hub for discussion and action, building solidarity and hope for a more decent world.”

F**k Trump
Crowds protest Trump’s Inauguration


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


Human Rights Day

Thursday, December 10th, 2020

Today, 10th December is UN Human Rights Day. I think the 10th December 2016 may have set a personal record in that I covered seven events, although one was only a fleeting meeting with a Rhino as I passed through Parliament Square. But five were human rights protests.

My work began in Old Palace Yard, in front of the House of Lords and around the rather ugly statue of George V. On 10th December 1948 the UN General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and since then the day has been celebrated in countries around the world as Human Rights Day.

The UK was one of the countries that played a large part in both the establishment of the UN, whose first General Assembly was held in the early months of 1946 just a few hundred yards away in Methodist Central Hall, and in the UDHR, which “proclaims the inalienable rights which everyone is entitled to as a human being”.

But our current government finds some of its provisions inconvenient and one of the driving forces of Brexit is that it will provide the opportunity to weaken compliance with the UDHR, threatening our human rights including workers rights to paid holidays, maternity leave and fair treatment at work, disability rights and the right to freedom from discrimination.

Supporters of the UK remaining in Europe were protesting in silent chains in towns and cities across the country and several hundred had come to do so in the centre of London. I didn’t find it easy to produce interesting pictures of what was a rather static event.
Silent Chain for Europe


As I walked across the front of Parliament towards Westminster tube station I came across two people in rather impressive rhinoceros costumes who were being photographed in front of the House of Commons, and paused briefly to take a couple of pictures.

What rather surprised me was the almost total lack of interest in them shown by the many tourists walking past. After all it isn’t every day you pass two rhinos on the street.
Save the Rhino


People from various campaigns had come to Broadcasting House to protest and hand in a letter about the BBC’s failure to report on political prisoners held unjustly in jails around the world. They accuse the BBC of an institutional policy of ignoring such cases, including a hundred Irish Republican prisoners, former Black Panther Mumia Abu Jamal held on Death Row in the USA for over 30 years, many Palestinians held in Israeli jails, the victims of Erdogan’s purge in Turkey, the many hanged in Iran and other cases of illegal imprisonment around the world.
BBC censors prison struggles


From the BBC I made my way north to Mornington Crescent, where I met one of the four groups of Santacon; the north London group had met up in Camden and were coming down into Central London and soon stopped in a small park.

I found it a little disappointing – as I wrote then,

“this year the event did seem rather more organised and tame, lacking some of the anarchic charm and chaos that brought much of London’s traffic to a halt in previous years – or perhaps I just took these pictures earlier in the day before the Christmas spirits, wine and beer had really kicked in. “

London Santacon 2016

I think police had leaned rather heavily on the organisers and insisted that they move off the streets into areas such as this for much of the event. I didn’t stay with the Santas long because there were other Human Rights Day events to photograph.


I took the tube back to Westminster where I found Balochs protesting opposite Downing St, calling on Theresa May to speak up for the Baloch people and their freedom against the Pakistan regime which they claim has a policy of genocide against the Baloch people and has killed thousands of Baloch activists and abducted more than 25,000 of them.

They say those abducted are tortured and then killed, with their bodies being dumped in deserted areas. Balochistan was an autonomous kingdom on the border of Pakistan and Iran, and was merged with Pakistan in 1948, the year after Pakistan was created. Since then there have been various Baloch separatist movements which have been brutally repressed by both Pakistan and Iran.
Balochs UN Human Rights Day protest.


I’d come to Whitehall to report on the Guantanamo Justice Campaign protest on UN Human Rights Day opposite Downing St calling for an end to torture, the closure of Guantanamo and an end to British complicity in torture.

It wasn’t a well attended protest probably because there had been relatively little publicity, but also reflecting the problem of keeping up interest in long running issues such as this which no longer attract much if any attention from our news media. They will argue that it is no longer news, but that is only because they choose not to cover it, instead filling pages and programmes with empty speculation and inconsequential affairs of insignificant so-called celebrities rather than matters of importance.
Human Rights Day call close Guantanamo


Another issue which has slipped almost completely off the news agenda is the plight of the Yazidi women and girls targeted and captured by ISIS (Da’esh) in Iraq. According to UN reports, more than 5000 Yazidis had been murdered and 5-7,000 abducted. Over 3,400 are believed to be still held, the women subjected to physical and sexual violence, including systematic rape and sex slavery.

The visit to the UK by UN goodwill ambassador Nadia Murad Basee Taha for 16 days of action prompted little or no news coverage.
Save Yazidi women and girls


More about all these events and more pictures on My London Diary.

Save Yazidi women and girls
Human Rights Day call close Guantanamo
Balochs UN Human Rights Day protest
London Santacon 2016
BBC censors prison struggles
Save the Rhino
Silent Chain for Europe


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


A People’s Vote

Thursday, May 21st, 2020

Around a million people came to the start of a march from Hyde Park last October to call for a referendum on the Brexit deal negotiated by Boris Johnson. Although when we held the referendum in 2016 a small majority won the vote to leave Europe, by the time it had actually become clear what this would really mean many had changed their minds.

But we had a government driven by a small group of people determined we should leave whatever, and whose whole existence was predicated on getting Brexit done and prepared to lie and lie again to do so. Some at least of them stood to make millions or billions out of leaving, and others feared that European legislation might soon force them to pay the large amounts of tax they are avoiding.

Facing them was an opposition which was divided over Europe and with a large group of MPs and officers whose main aim wasn’t to provide meaningful opposition to the government but to undermine and replace their leader. Their activities had already lost enough seats in the 2017 election to deny Labour a chance of leading a government and they were hell-bent on making sure of a disastrous result in the next which was expected before long and took place in December.

The Lib-Dems had shot themselves in the foot in July’s leadership election and that left only the 35 SNP members and the Green Party’s Caroline Lucas as an effective opposition.

So while this huge protest was an outpouring of feeling representing a large proportion of the public who feel that now we knew more about what Brexit we should be asked to make an informed choice on whether to leave Europe, it stood little or no chance of success.

Although it is now clear that staying in the EU is far better than any deal that Johnson can negotiate – and that the Tories will do their utmost to reach a ‘no deal’ exit – nothing short of the kind of huge-scale popular revolt that would bring the government down can stop it. The people I was photographing on the streets of London were certainly not the kind of popular mob that would need, and it is difficult in these times to see how that could be achieved – except perhaps by a government ban on Strictly, that Bake Off and the Archers.

More pictures at March for a People’s Vote.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


Trafalgar Square protests

Saturday, April 4th, 2020
Ian Hodson, BFAWU President

Back on Saturday 12th October there were two protests taking place in Trafalgar Square and it was raining. One was by trade unionists supporting Extinction Rebellion and the school climate strikers, and there was a powerful speech from Ian Hodson, National President of the Baker’s Union BFAWU.  His union is one of the older and smaller unions in the TUC, founded in 1847 in Manchester though it has changed its name a couple of times.

The BFAWU is a union that still fights actively for its members and isn’t afraid to take on large organisations, including McDonald’s, Burger King, and KFC in its campaign to unionise and improve pay and conditions for fast food workers.

The rain came on rather more heavily, and I kept my cameras in my camera bag or under my coat, and took rather fewer pictures than I would otherwise. Working in wet conditions is still rather a pain, even though some cameras and some lenses are ‘weatherproof’ this doesn’t really keep them going in the rain.

The 3million organisation representing the three million EU citizens who were living in the UK had come prepared, wearing blue and yellow plastic rain capes with a sticker on them also in the colours of the EU flag and the message ‘I am not a bargaining chip’.

They had come to protest at the broken promise made by the Vote Leave campaign, which had clearly stated that EU Citizens currently living in the UK would “automatically be granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK” in the event of Brexit. Instead we have a complex scheme of applications, with many who have applied for leave to remain having their applications rejected. Some who have lived here for over 50 years, and have children who are UK citizens may face deportation.

Together they tore up copies of the promise, though the light had dropped and the pictures I took on a longer lens were rather blurred by their motion – I hadn’t got my camera set to a high enough ISO.

I still can’t decide which is the best way to work with my digital cameras when lighting conditions are likely to change. The different cameras I use – and on this occasion it was an Olympus OMD M5 II and a Fuji XT-1 – have slightly differing implementation of auto-ISO, which would seem to be a good answer, but in practice can mean that you are too often working at full aperture.

Probably the answer is to work in manual mode, setting both aperture and shutter speed when using auto-ISO, but it is then very easy to find that either you have reached your maximum ISO set and the camera then underexposes everything, or, even worse, you are at the minimum ISO in your range and all your images are overexposed with burnt out highlights.

More on both protests:

Brexit unfair for EU citizens
Trade Unionists join the Rebellion


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


Jan 2020 – My London Diary

Saturday, February 8th, 2020

My London Diary for January 2020 is now complete. The month ended on a sad note as we left the European Union, something we just have to try and make the best of, at least for the moment. Rather than the fight over whether or not to leave we will now be fighting against some of its more dangerous and oppressive consequences, and perhaps we will see greater national unity in some of those struggles as Brexiteers too find out what Brexit really means.

I’m still trying to cut down on the new work that I do, and to cope with my huge archive of images on film. On Facebook I’m currently uploading a picture a day from those black and white images I took in 1984, while on Flickr I’ve posted albums of pictures from 1977 to 1982. Since I last used film around 2005 there is quite a long way to go. I’m chosing a little more carefully which events to cover and realising I can’t do everything.

Jan 2020

À bientôt EU, see you soon
Extremist Brexiteers Behaving Badly
British National (Overseas) Passports

Brexiteers celebrate leaving the EU
Cargill, worst company in the World
Twickenham walk

March against fascism in India
Zimbabwe Embassy weekly protest
Rally Against Fascism in India
Resisting State Violence – Brazil to India

Brumadinho mine disaster vigil
Regent’s Canal panoramas
Ugandans at UK-Africa Investment Summit
Egyptians at UK-Africa Investment Summit

Against war crimes in Idlib
Earth Strike Oxford St rolling protest
‘Stay Put’ Sewol silent protest
Support for Anti-regime Protests in Iran
Release the Russia Report

Fight Inequality Global Protest
No War on Iran rally

No War on Iran march
Act over Australian Bushfires
Justice for Cyprus Gang Rape Victim
No War With Iran

London Images


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.


Students for democracy

Thursday, February 6th, 2020

After a lengthy rally in a packed Whitehall, so full that police asked the organisers to tell people at the end only to move out in the direction of Trafalgar Square to avoid the danger of people being crushed as the Parliament Street end was so packed, Youth Strike for Climate and other mainly young protesters decided it was time for some more direct action.

It had been a long rally, with speaker after speaker, and the crowd in front of the stage was so packed that I was unable to move through it as I usually do during the more tedious of the speeches. There were some good speeches, and some well-known speakers, but I now find standing in one place for a long time makes my legs start to itch and throb, inflaming my varicose eczema.

So when the Youth Strike moved off, I was more than happy to follow them, though I did hope they would not move too far. There were other groups that marched as well as those I was with, some going into the West End, but fortunately these marchers went to a rather more convenient place for my journey home.

As they marched up Whitehall, police appeared to be forming a cordon across the top of the street, and they turned right down Whitehall Place, then continuing up Craven Street to The Strand. Police made no further effort to stop them, with just a few officers marching with them as they made their way onto Waterloo Bridge and sat down, blocking the south-bound carriageway.

They began their own rally there, and there were several short speeches, but the lure of Waterloo Station just a short distance further on soon proved too great, and I left to go home. As I walked off the bridge, several vans full of police arrived and were doubtless about to attempt to re-open the bridge to traffic, but I’d had enough.

More pictures Students March to Defend Democracy.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.


Democracy under threat

Wednesday, February 5th, 2020

Democracy in this country is certainly not perfect, but what we have is the result of hundreds of years of history, of the fight for power between the monarchy and a parliament which has long represented the interests of the rich and powerful. An early victory along the road came with Magna Carta, when the barons who had spent the night just a few hundred yards from where I now live, forced King John to sign a document that outlined some basic freedoms and the principle that the monarch was subject to the laws of the land.

It wasn’t a document that did a great deal for the peasants or the serfs, though two years later another charter by Henry III did restore some of the rights of free men which had been appropriated following the Norman invasion.

Despite the rise in the twentieth century of the Labour movement, our democracy remains one that largely protects and serves the interests of the rich and powerful. And although theoretically we are all equal under the law, in practice this has never been the case. And although the constraints and enforcements are generally more subtle than in most countries we are still a feudal country in many ways, with power still residing in the ownership of land, including huge areas by the descendants of those Runnymede barons, as well as the ownership of media. And occasionally the monarchy and its agents still bites – as Dr David Kelly’s staged suicide shows.

Much of the more recent amelioration in areas such as worker’s rights has of course come from our membership of Europe, driven by countries which had the sense to behead their royalty or lost them in wars. There is a huge irony in the continual parroting by some working class Brexiteers that Brexit is “taking our country back“. It is – but giving it back to the rich.

Boris Johnson’s government is a part of this process of restoring control to wealthy elites, taking power away from Parliament. The government tried to close down debate on leaving Europe without a deal by simply shutting down Parliament. Eventually the Supreme Court decided that the move was illegal. Now that the Tories have a large majority it seems certain that the powers of the court will be limited to prevent such legal scrutiny occuring again. And already parliament is having its powers to debate any new trade agreements removed.

Although ‘Boris’ cultivates the image of a clown, it’s wrong to think he is one, or indeed that he is really in charge, rather than just a figure-head being allowed to perform by others with far more serous designs. And while some posters featuring the monarchy were amusing, the suggest that they carry that we would somehow be better off if the monarchy was more powerful is misguided. We may well be heading to become an unconstitutional ‘Banana State’ but we would be better fighting for a people’s republic.

More pictures: Defend democracy, Stop the Coup.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.


Brexit

Saturday, February 1st, 2020
June 2016

I suppose I should say something about Brexit. It’s a topic I’ve tried hard to avoid since the referendum. It’s a disaster we’ll just have to live with, at least until the nation comes to its senses and demands we rejoin Europe. Or perhaps that the whole world situation changes in ways that make the whole debate irrelevant.

Not that I’m a big fan of the European institutions, but we have gained enormously from our membership of the EU in so many ways, while managing to negotiate extremely favourable terms – which we won’t be able to regain when we re-apply. And the EU will have changed in many different ways during our absence without us having been able to have our say.

Nov 2018

According to the Free-Find search on My London Diary there are 31 references to Brexit on the site, between June 2016 and Jan 2020. It probably isn’t entirely accurate and may ‘double count’ some occurrences, but it gives a fairly good idea of how much I’ve photographed related stories. The pictures here are a fairly random selection of the many I’ve taken in that three and a half years.

I did cover the large anti-Brexit protests that took place in London, but many times as I’ve wandered through Westminster to other events I’ve come across Steven Bray and his SODEM protests, just occasionally stopping to take photographs.

July 2016

Rather less frequently I’ve met Brexiteers, and taken photographs. At times they have been rowdy and obnoxious and I occasionally felt personally threatened. I also photographed them behaving in extremely threatening ways towards Bray and also to Anna Soubry – which resulted in probably the only sales to newspapers of my Brexit-related pictures.

Dec 2018

Brexit of course was not really about Brexit. For many of those who voted leave it was a protest vote about feeling neglected by government and powerless. Fears about immigration obviously played a part – though more so in areas with relatively few immigrants than in cosmopolitan London. A feeling that those in Westminster didn’t understand what was happening outside and didn’t much care – which remains undoubtedly true. A disillusion with the state of politics, enlarged by the war on Iraq and the 2008 crash. For those who drove the leave campaign a desire to keep their tax havens and weaken human rights and laws which protect workers and thus restrict profits.

Jan 2019

Since it’s largely this latter group who will be leading our negotiations with Europe and with the rest of the world I think we who aren’t in the top percent or so of the most wealthy are in for a pretty raw deal over the next few years. I’m fortunate enough, though certainly not rich to be reasonably financially insulated against their worst, but I fear for the poor, the disabled, the sick, the homeless, refugees, asylum seekers…

Of course leaving is now a done deal, and there is little that can be done other than hope that our negotiations are carried on rather more sensibly than seems likely. The arguments over Brexit have been a tremendous distraction over the past three years from so many other important issues which perhaps can now be fought.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

Remainers march

Wednesday, December 18th, 2019

Back in July there still was hope that we might be able to avoid the huge mistake of Brexit, and thousands came to march in support of staying in Europe. And while the recent election makes it almost certain we will leave – and leave on terms that will be very damaging to the country, I still suspect that in a few years time we will be begging Europe to let us back in, or at least to come to some much closer arrangement than is likely to result from negotiations by the current government.

Like the referendum, the election campaign was marked by an enormous amount of misinformation and lies, mainly from the Conservative Party; First Draft checked out the ads from both parties on Facebook from Dec1 to Dec 4, and, according to Full Fact, ” found that a majority of the Conservative ads during this period included or linked to claims that Full Fact has questioned“. First Draft give a figure: ” 88% (5,952) of the most widely promoted ads featured claims about the NHS, income tax cuts, and the Labour Party which had already been labelled misleading by Full Fact.

Labour put out far fewer FB ads during this time and for technical reasons the first report by Full Fact missed any misleading claims in them; later they updated the figure to say that of their 104 ads during the same period only 6.7% contained or linked to misleading data.

The Brexit referendum was similarly marked by deliberate misleading by the ‘Leave’ campaign, including the figure on the side of their bus. But perhaps even more importantly we were told that leaving Europe would be a simple process, and the public were given the impression that once they had voted it would all be over within a few months.

But the politicians are only a part of the story, and the huge misinformation campaign of both referendum and election is largely driven by the media, both newspapers and broadcasting. The Sun has previously boasted of having determined the results of UK elections, and certainly it and the other newspapers, mainly owned by a handful of billionaires, have played a vital role. Most of the broadcast media, with the exception of the BBC are also similarly controlled.

The BBC is a special case, and has long been under attack by both the left and right in politics for failing to be impartial. Unfortunately this doesn’t imply that it is getting the balance right, as the two sides attack it for very different reasons. Many Tories have long wanted to close it down largely because it is a public service and as such not making money for them and their friends, but at the same time have been very effective in getting members of a highly conservative establishment into positions of power within it. Labour have seen in taking up the anti-Labour views of the press and collaborating with the opposition to Jeremy Corbyn, conspiring with some Labour MPs opposed to him and even inventing fake news to discredit him and the party.

What we are left in now is a real mess. A country which would now almost certainly vote to remain being taken out of the EU, on the basis of a promise made by a former Prime Minister over a non-binding referendum. A referendum result that had it been binding would almost certainly have been challenged and rendered invalid in the courts. Scotland looking increasingly likely to break away and rejoin the EU after we have left. A border in the Irish Sea that makes the reunification of Ireland seem much closer (perhaps the only positive outcome of the whole sad business.) And a country that is going to become much poorer and more unequal. But most important of all will be the failure to take action over the climate crisis.

No to Boris, Yes to Europe