Saturday, July 16, 2016

Why France?

I've noticed that some people have asked why France should have suffered more terrorist attacks than other European countries and the UK recently. The young man who killed so many people in Nice was from a Tunisian family. The Charlie Hebdo and Bataclan Concert Hall killers were of Algerian descent. France has a large number of Muslims whose families originated in its north African colonies of Algeria and Tunisia. Many are descended from immigrants who were originally welcomed, who've worked in low paid jobs and raised several generations. Yet they're still not well integrated. Many live in socially deprived areas, in poor housing, and suffer discrimination and prejudice. Even those who've gone to university and succeeded in the professions will tell stories of discrimination, like black people here and in the US. Young French Muslim men are more likely to be either unemployed or in poorly paid jobs than other French citizens. We don't know much about the Nice killer so far, but home-grown terrorism is more likely when there is a pool of resentful, dissatisfied, under-employed young men, many with a record of petty crime, and some with severe psychological problems. Daesh might inspire them to kill, but it's unlikely that their motives will be wholly religious. France has a problem, and it's been brewing for a long time. There are very few who'll resort to murderous acts, but it doesn't take many.

Click here to learn about French Muslims in an enlightening account by Al Jazeera.

Click here to hear how the Danes have a different approach to dealing with vulnerable young Muslims.

Sunday, July 03, 2016

Letter to my MP about the referendum

Dear Mr Cartlidge,

It's ten days since the catastrophe and I'm still filled with a mixture of anger and disbelief, like someone who's come home to find a bunch of moronic teenagers have had a party in my house and totally wrecked it. But if that were the case, it could be fixed. I'm not sure that the post-referendum mess will be.

None of this was necessary. Mr Cameron wanted to appease the anti-EU section of your party, so he said we could have a referendum. It was a party political decision and not in the public interest. He must have thought that he'd get a Remain win to settle the matter, once and for all. Having lost the gamble, he's washed his hands of the whole affair and left the ambitious leaders-in-waiting to fight amongst themselves, while those of us who aren't Conservatives can only look on in despair.

I signed the No.10 petition calling on the result to be set aside. The referendum was won by a slim margin with a mixture of fraud, bare-faced lies, and an appeal to the most prejudiced sections of society. Leave campaigners, mainly Messrs Johnson, Gove and Farage, based their campaign on claims that were untrue, and that have been shown to be untrue. The first two were mainly motivated by personal ambition while Farage is simply the most ignorant, racist egomaniac to disgrace the UK in the European Parliament, where he rarely attended debates or committees except to insult other members. The rubbish press, mainly the Daily Mail (which lauded Hitler in the 1930s), the Express and the Sun, repeated these lies and elaborated on them with more inflammatory nonsense. I asked a friend who planned to vote Leave why she would do so and she repeated verbatim the £350 million a week to the EU and massive Greek influx claims, among others. She was one of many ill-informed voters who determined the outcome.

Considering the low turnout in the European elections and the fact that hardly anyone could name their MEP, no one should have been surprised at the general level of ignorance about the EU. The issue was and is complex, yet there was little attempt, even on the Remain side, to inform. Sloganising back and forth was as far as it got. Our membership should never have been decided by a referendum that had no more validity than the throw of a dice. Mr Cameron gambled away our future, but mainly the future of our young people. At 71, it won't affect me much but it will affect them.

I have no confidence in any of our senior politic leaders at this time, of any party. In fact, I think that party politics and the first past the post system are anachronisms. It's time to overhaul the system, though I can't see any of those who've gained power attempting to do so; they're all too busy putting their own interests before national interests. And when I say "national", I mean British interests, before the kingdom is divided.

Since the referendum result is meant to provide guidance to the legislature, there appear to be grounds to reject it. The result wasn't decided by fair means. I urge you to support any attempt to challenge a move to invoke Article 50 and to expose the fraudulent claims of the Leave campaign.

If you haven't already done so, I urge you to watch what Professor Michael Dougan of Liverpool University (an expert in EU law) has to say about the referendum, which was won through "dishonesty on an industrial scale". You might also like to familiarise yourself with an EU document, The Code of Good Practice on Referendums (a PDF), if you haven't read it.

To paraphrase Princess Leia's message to Obi-Wan Kenobi, you and your fellow MPs are our only hope. Please demonstrate that Parliament is capable of taking decisive action to avoid a disastrous and irreversible decision. The European Union is far from perfect, but it can be improved. For so many reasons, we're better off in than out.

Yours sincerely,
Margaret Nelson

Note: Mr Cartlidge was on the Remain side.