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UK election – victory for English Nationalism under the banner of Brexit

By Johanna Ross | December 13, 2019

Overnight the electoral map of the UK has changed significantly. Scotland is once again bathed in a sea of yellow, as England has been shrouded in blue. With the Scottish National Party obtaining 45% of the vote north of the border, and the Conservatives only 25% it is clear not only is there no mandate for Brexit in Scotland, but as leader Nicola Sturgeon has said, there is now very much a mandate for holding a second referendum on Scottish Independence.

England, on the other hand has put its support resoundingly behind Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his mantra of ‘Get Brexit Done’. With a remarkable 364 seats, as opposed to Labour’s 203 – its worst performance since 1935 – he proclaimed that a ‘political earthquake’ had occurred and that he would end all the squabbling of the last few years he would take the country out of the EU ‘no ifs and no buts’. This was a message that appealed to the majority, clearly sickened by the deadlock of Brexit. Despite the radical spending programme proposed by the Labour party, this election ended up being, as it was promoted, all about Brexit.

And this takes us to the broader context of what is in fact happening in the UK. Indeed, it’s important to see this election in the wider European political landscape. This was not just a Conservative party win, but a victory for nationalism. Not just Scottish Nationalism, but English Nationalism under the banner of Brexit, and Welsh and Irish Nationalism. For the first time ever, Northern Ireland elected more Nationalist MPs than Unionist, in what was also, like Scotland, an anti-Brexit vote, which will spur on more talk of Irish reunification. Welsh Nationalist party Plaid Cymru also held on to its four seats in Wales.

So while it may be portrayed as a landslide victory for the Conservatives, this election more than ever has shown up the cracks forming in the Union. Scottish Nationalism appears to be on an irreversible path to independence, with the question now being not if there will be a referendum on independence, but when. The strong Remain vote up north has only boosted the case for leaving the UK, as Scotland places more importance on being part of Europe, than being part of Britain. England, for its part, has clearly put more emphasis on being out of Europe, than it has on retaining the Union.

Indeed, looking at the western world in general, the popularity of nationalist and right-wing parties is undisputedly on the rise. The AfD in Germany, the National Front in France or Vox in Spain – these parties are all gaining popularity, just as Trump has in the US. And together with Johnson’s Conservatism, they all have something in common, that ‘populist’ appeal that really gets its message across. For regardless of their party leaders’ sins (Boris Johnson has been repeatedly been lambasted as a liar, racist, and misogynist), they have not been enough to deter voters, for whom clearly the nation state is what matters most.

There’s no doubt that Brexit has been a shock for the EU. Arguably Britain had always been a hesitant member, refusing to join the Euro, or join the Schengen zone (which allows borderless travel between states); it never quite developed that European mindset. But the Brexit vote took EU politicians by surprise, sending shockwaves across a Union already under pressure from Eurosceptic parties. They will no doubt breathe a sigh of relief in Brussels that the Brexit stalemate will now be broken with Boris Johnson’s parliamentary majority – finally a deal can be passed – but the reality that one of their major players finally leaving must be making them nervous.

Boris Johnson put faith in the people, and the gamble paid off. But whether he appreciates the real seismic consequences of this ‘political earthquake’ is another question. For cracks are not only emerging between Britain and Europe, but across the United Kingdom itself. It’s the price to be paid for Brexit.

Johanna Ross is a journalist based in Edinburgh, Scotland.

December 13, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , , , , | 2 Comments

Breast cancer cases near Welsh nuclear plant 5 times higher than expected – academic

RT | June 10, 2015

Breast cancer rates are five times higher than expected near a defunct nuclear power plant in Wales, according to a study by environmental scientist Dr Chris Busby.

The power plant in Trawsfynydd, which has not been in use since 1993 but is yet to be decommissioned, relied on a nearby lake to operate its cooling system.

It’s alleged that contaminated water was returned to the same body of water.

Busby’s investigation claims 90 percent of those living in areas downwind of the plant have been tested.

The report, published in the Jacobs Journal of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, says: “Trawsfynydd is a ‘dirty’ nuclear power station. As it has carbon dioxide gas-cooled graphite block reactors, its releases to air are higher than most other types of nuclear reactor.

“In addition, all the liquid releases are discharged to the lake, where they have accumulated to the lake body sediment,” the investigation claims.

“Results show very clearly that the downwind population has suffered because of these exposures.”

“This is most clear in breast cancer in younger women below 60, where the rates were almost five times the expected.”

“Additionally we see a doubling of risk in those who ate fish from Trawsfynydd Lake, which supports the conclusion that it is mainly a nuclear power station effect that is being seen.”

Busby, who has acted as an adviser to the Green Party, has been the subject of controversy in the past.

In 2011, his claims there was a leukemia cluster in North Wales were met with opposition from other prominent environmental activists, including the [pro-nuclear energy] Guardian writer George Monbiot.

In a piece for the paper published in 2011, Monbiot wrote that Busby’s claims “were the result of some astonishing statistical mistakes.”

He claimed an assessment of Busby’s findings – which were not peer-reviewed – found that Busby has counted Welsh leukemia incidences twice and overestimated the number of child leukemia cases by 90 percent.

Public Health Wales is currently investigating, in co-operation with local health teams, whether or not such a cluster exists around Traswfynydd.

June 11, 2015 Posted by | Environmentalism, Nuclear Power | , , , | Leave a comment

The UK Nuclear Nightmare – An Awakening

By Jim McCluskey | Dissident Voice | February 6, 2015

At last the Armageddon nightmare which is the existence of nuclear arsenals is exploding into the  UK’s political consciousness. At last the magical word ‘deterrent’ which is supposed to automatically kill dissent is being examined and unmasked as the delusion by which the paranoid silence that still small voice, the voice which says it is a crime against humanity to prepare to incinerate a large part of the world’s population and risk triggering a global nuclear war.

It started with the Scottish Independence movement and now the abhorrence of these vile instruments of genocide is manifesting in Wales. In England the reckless imperial posture in the Westminster bubble has not yet been overthrown.  Both Conservatives and Labour want a like-for-like replacement when the existing nuclear fleet ends its working life in the late 2020s, while the Liberal Democrats want to downsize to three submarines! But more and more of the public have other ideas. They want a world ban as has been achieved for the other weapons of mass destruction, chemical and biological.

Scotland

On September 18th, 2014 the Scottish people voted on whether to remain as part of the United Kingdom of Britain. The prospect of Scotland going its own way caused a panic among the power elites of Westminster. A prime driving force in Scotland was the people’s loathing of nuclear weapons and their anger at having the Westminster government’s nuclear submarines dumped in the river Clyde near Glasgow. The Scottish government  has pledged to remove and permanently ban nuclear weapons from Scottish territory within the first term of an independent parliament.

The Ministry of Defence had no backup plan and removing the submarines to England would be a financial and logistical nightmare. Even if it were possible to move them to the estuary of the Mersey, Tyne or Wear it seems unlikely that the local English people would greet them with open arms. The prospect of the Scottish people ridding themselves of this ‘Sword of Damocles’1 caused panic in other establishment quarters besides the political. Vice-Admiral McAnally, a former commandant of the Royal College of Defence Studies, said there is “every possibility” Britain could be forced into unilateral nuclear disarmament. Good! The UK would then be honouring its commitment under the Nuclear Non-proliferation treaty and become an example to the nuclear states of the world. Although the Admiral did not see it this way!

On this occasion the majority of the people of Scotland decided not to split with England. However, since then the membership of the Scottish National Party has massively increased. The matter of a split with England will be back. There is a limit to what people will tolerate, and it is intolerable that the Scottish people have these foul instruments of Armageddon dumped in their territory by a fearful and deluded elite in Westminster.

 Wales

It was rumoured that the Westminster nuclear government will get themselves off the hook by moving their arsenal from Scotland to Wales. They got a rude awakening. Speaking the day after the world marked 70 years since the end of the holocaust, a senior peer in the Welsh Plaid Cymru government, Lord Wigley, declared that the Welsh government would be ‘tremendously opposed’ to shifting Westminster’s nuclear arsenal from Faslane in Scotland to Pembrokeshire in Wales. In an effort to emphasise the horror of what was being proposed, he compared the effects of a Trident submarine to those of a Nazi death camp. When it was suggested that the move would have the benefit of bringing jobs to Wales he pointed out that “No doubt there were many jobs provided at Auschwitz’ but ‘..you have to consider the nature of the work and not just that a job exists.” Quite so.  There are 5000 people employed at the UK’s Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston. Surely they would be happier building machines for sustainable energy than for Armageddon. He was unequivocal about the Welsh position saying, “We believe that Trident shouldn’t be renewed and we most certainly don’t want that renewal to happen in …Wales’.

England

A vast number of citizens in England as well as in Scotland and Wales want no truck with threatening the world with genocidal weapons if our ‘vital interests’ are threatened. And in England, too, many are organising to ensure that finally sanity will prevail.

The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) and Action AWE organised the knitting of a seven miles long peace scarf which was first stretched between Aldermaston and Burghfield, the government’s two nuclear weapons-building factories then used to wrap the Ministry of Defense building in London.

In spite of the vast resistance to spending 100 billion pounds of citizens money on the instruments of Armageddon, the House of Commons (containing the purported ‘Representatives of the people’), on January 20th, 2015, in its Pied Piper, follow the leader,  whip-obeying habit, voted 364 to 37 to obey their power elite bosses and replace the UK government’s nuclear arsenal (250 MPs, including the Labour leader Mr Milliband, abstained).

Trident renewal will be a big issue at the forthcoming election in May. Citizens are sick of being told there is not enough money for the National Health Service, schools, decent housing, and social services when the Westminster  bubble is spending 36 billion pounds a year on the arms services, building billion pound aircraft carries and already spending billions of the 100 billion they will spend for Trident in spite of the fact that the final go-ahead is not to be given till 2016. At the same time The Bulletin of Atomic Scientist has just moved the hands of the ‘doomsday clock’ to 3 minutes to midnight. Only three minutes left of 24 hours to step back from the nuclear brink.

The Churches

On July 7th, 2014, the World Council of Churches issued a ‘Statement towards a Nuclear-Free World’. Included in the statement are the following paragraphs:

Nuclear weapons cannot … be reconciled with real peace. They inflict unspeakable suffering with blast, heat and radiation…. Their power is indiscriminate ….As long as nuclear weapons exist, they pose a threat to humanity.

Nuclear strategy… demands an unequivocal commitment to use the weapons and nuclear history is rife with accidents, miscalculations and near-disasters…. even one nuclear detonation would overwhelm the emergency services of any country in the world. The only way to ensure that nuclear weapons are never used again is to eliminate the weapons themselves.

The pope sent a message to a recent conference in Vienna, attended by more than 150 governments. The purpose of the conference was to advance public understanding of what is now called the “catastrophic humanitarian consequences” of any use of the 16,300 nuclear weapons possessed by nine countries. Pope Francis declared: “Nuclear deterrence and the threat of mutually assured destruction cannot be the basis for an ethics of fraternity and peaceful coexistence.” He called for a worldwide dialogue, “to ensure that nuclear weapons are banned once and for all to the benefit of our common home.”

The pope’s stand was supported by a remarkable Vatican document, “Nuclear Disarmament: Time for Abolition”.

On May 2010, The Church of England Ethical Investment Advisory Group, published its Defence investment policy. Its recommendations included that national investing bodies should exclude from their investments:

Any company involved in the production or supply of indiscriminate weaponry (defined as nuclear weapons, anti-personnel mines, cluster munitions, chemical weapons or biological weapons),..

Any company involved in the production, processing, supply or storage of weapons-grade nuclear fissile materials, with no turnover threshold to be applied.

In September 2014, Baptists Together, the Methodist Church and the United Reformed Church, reiterated their call for the abolition of Trident.

The Quakers have always opposed Trident. They urge citizens to persuade the government to abandon the replacement of Trident and promote a nuclear weapons-free UK.

The Quaker position was made clear at their Meeting for Sufferings, 1955, “Quaker faith and practice” as follows:

We believe that no one has the right to use [nuclear] weapons in his defence or to ask another person to use them on his behalf. To rely on the possession of nuclear weapons as a deterrent is faithless; to use them is a sin.

The Way Ahead

As ever more citizens wake up to the way they are disempowered by the present power elite system the more they will realise that our democracy needs to be, and can be, updated from 19th century thinking to 21st century possibilities. We vote about every four years and thereafter we are in the hands of a small group of individuals for the decisions which govern our life. With modern technology every citizen could be given an electronic vote on every important issue and decision. This is the way forward. The software has already been developed (See Democracy OS). It only remains for citizens to ensure it is adopted. Democracy means rule by the people. With each citizen given the opportunity to vote on each vital issue democracy will truly have arrived.

In the meantime to rid ourselves of this curse, each of us can work alone by lobbying government and helping to inform the public, join one of the very many open membership organisations like the Campaign Against Nuclear Weapons (CND), or express our support for such think tanks as The British American Security Information Council (BASIC) whose primary aim is identifying opportunities for all states to take credible, stabilizing steps towards sustainable nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.

Do not be discouraged by the power of vested interests and governments with their own agenda. The American anthropologist Margaret Mead famously declared:

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.

President JF Kennedy declared “Today, every inhabitant of this planet must contemplate the day when this planet may no longer be habitable. Every man, woman and child lives under a nuclear sword of Damocles…’

~

Jim McCluskey is the author of The Nuclear Threat.

February 7, 2015 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | 1 Comment

Protestors mobilise for week-long protest against NATO summit in Wales

Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament | August 29, 2014

As world leaders prepare to attend the NATO Summit in Newport next week, campaigners are mobilising for a week of protest and debate to challenge this ‘interventionist, expansionist, military club.’

A mass demonstration against NATO will take place in Newport tomorrow (Saturday 30 August), while a Counter-Summit will be held on Sunday 31 August at Cardiff County Hall, and on Monday 1 September in Newport.

CND General Secretary Kate Hudson said:

‘Far from promoting security, NATO is a destabilising global force. Its war of aggression in Afghanistan has killed tens of thousands and left that country fragmented: the ripples of which are being felt across the region.

‘Through its insatiable expansion into eastern Europe, capitalising on the vacuum left following the collapse of the USSR, NATO has contributed to heightening tensions around Russia and Ukraine, and risks provoking a new Cold War.

‘As a nuclear alliance which has repeatedly rejected a “No First Use” policy – as well as adopting an offensive posture for “out of area” operations, NATO has shown itself for what it is: an interventionist, expansionist, military club which favours threats over diplomacy.

‘We don’t want US/NATO nukes on European soil. We don’t want its wars of aggression. And we’re here to challenge this aggressive alliance which makes all of us less safe. Tens of millions around the world want peace, justice and an end to NATO.’

Events

Sat 30 Aug: Demonstration and rally in Newport

Sun 31 Aug: Counter-Summit in Cardiff

Mon 1 Sep: Counter-Summit in Newport

Wed 3 Sep – Fri 5 Sep: Various actions and protests

For full details of events see: www.cnduk.org/natosummit

August 29, 2014 Posted by | Militarism, Solidarity and Activism | , , | Leave a comment