Wednesday, 23 January 2013


So, if Cameron wins the next election, we shall have a referendum to establish whether we stay in Europe or flounce off on our own.  The new terms that Cameron wants to negotiate will probably keep a free market open for businesses and bankers, but will opt us out of the sort of EU rules that protect us common working plebs, but I don’t suppose we’ll have a chance to vote on whether we want the old or new terms.
But a referendum about staying in the EU might turn out to be pointless anyway, because we shall already have had the referendum on Scotland’s independence by then.  The president of the European Commission suggests  that if Scotland votes to go it alone, it will not automatically be a member of the EU, but will have to apply for membership as a brand new country.  If that does happen, surely the same will apply to whatever is left of the former U.K, because England isn’t a member of the EU in its own right either.  Nor is Wales.  Northern Ireland is a possible, perhaps, because the country that is a member of the EU is “The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland,’ so at least it gets a mention.  But Great Britain came into existence when the two former kingdoms of Scotland and England (which included Wales) were united in 1706.  If Scotland drops out, Great Britain will no longer exist, so neither will the U.K.  What we’ll be needing will be a referendum to decide whether we should apply to be allowed in to the EU.  And the EU might say no.  In fact, if I were them, I would.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Bang Bang

A woman likes guns.  She likes shooting them and she believes she’s going to need them to keep the world at bay, so she collects them, because she has a constitutional right to own them.  Her son takes them, kills her, several teachers and 20 primary school children.  If a boy is disturbed, inclined to suicide or violent outbursts, even if only for a brief drunken or confused moment in an otherwise sane and balanced life, the ready availability of guns makes a very nasty outcome depressingly inevitable.  The gun lobby in the USA responded to the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, by suggesting that the obvious solution is to have armed guards in schools.  Of course, the solution is more guns.
After the Dunblane massacre in Scotland, the British response was to make the private ownership of handguns illegal.  I like to think that the Firearms (Amendment) Acts of 1997 were not so much a piece of criminal legislation as a constitutional statement: We, the People, abjure any right to carry instruments that are designed purely for the purpose of harming other human beings.  It is impossible, as a Brit, to make any sense at all of people who believe that the constitutional right to own, carry, and shoot firearms provides a vital bulwark against the threat of tyranny.  Most sane people understand that the best bulwark against tyranny is the ballot, not the bullet.  Most sane people see that the stockpiling of guns by weirdo militias is an invitation to tyranny, not a bulwark against it.  Most sane people see that one person’s right to carry guns destroys everyone else’s right not to have to. Listening to the gun lobby’s response to the Newtown massacre, and hearing of the impossibility of anti-gun legislation in the USA, I begin to wonder if we occupy the same planet. 
And then a couple of unarmed members of staff in a school in California bravely talk a disturbed gunman out of carrying out another massacre and I think maybe there is hope for the sanity of the human race.