Last night I cried for my Country

Once upon a time this building represented the best side of the UK. A country rooted in democracy, the rule of law and strong political and governmental institutions. Alas they now represent a bunch of mediocre, law breaking charlatans.

Last night I tuned in to the ‘Last Night of the Proms’ as I do most years. It’s a bit of tradition with flag waving and old established tunes which evoke a past which was by no means glorious but which was substantial.

I like ‘Jerusalem’ although I have no religious faith. I love those last two lines:

‘And we shall build Jerusalem,

In England’s Green and Pleasant Land’

I suppose that’s what I have been trying to do all my life. Build a Country where we can all share the fruits of our wealth and live happy contented lives in clean green neighbourhoods with a decent home and a decent job.

More contentiously, I love singing ‘Land of Hope and Glory. I always put the emphasis on the word Hope rather than Glory. When I sing the Line, ‘Wider still and wider, may thy bounds be set’ I have a very different viewpoint than the right-wing numpties have given recently. Remember them, they are the ones that were passionately against all possibilities of the song being banned but then made clear the only line they remembered was the first one.

I have always believed that the UK, as an advanced and relatively wealthy liberal democracy, could do much to improve the World. Giving .07% of is GDP was part of this but every bit as important is the way we could help emerging democracies to respect democracy; to have strong political and governmental institution; to avoid corruption and to support the rule of law.

As someone who travelled the World for 10 years representing the UK at the highest level in global local government politics, I knew that I was always listened to not because I’m a brilliant orator (although I am he says modestly!!!) but because people knew that I represented those values.

Over the 50+ years that I have been an active politician I have always felt that there was a common thread of decency in most of the politicians for all Parties that I have met and worked with. They too wanted to raise standards for all, they too believed in democracy and the rule of law. They had a different way of doing it than the one that I espoused but we wanted many of the same things. Regrettably, I believe that no longer.

I think that we have a Government composed of mediocre thieves, chancers and law breakers who ultimately do not believe in democracy and do not believe in a better life for all the people of this Country.

These thoughts have been some time in building up so that they are not new. They came to a head last night because the thoughts that I have had crystallised after a terrible and amazing week in British Politics. We no have a Government whose members are prepared to stand up in Parliament and in the media and be quite clear that they intend to pursue a Parliamentary Bill that means that we as a Country will break the law.

In a way it’s hardly surprising. In the heart of the lockdown the Government’s Machiavelli in Chief, the loathsome Cummings, clearly broke the law as did two Cabinet Ministers. It is now clear that he Leave Campaign used Russian money and influence to get the Leave vote that Russia wanted. It is clear that the Tory Party gets large amounts of offshore money slightly sanitised by being given by vaguely British residents or companies.

But this is a whole new order of magnitude. This Government passed a Withdrawal Agreement in Parliament after this Government had agreed that Withdrawal Agreement with the European Union and all its 27 Countries. It is now backtracking on its own agreement and in doing so ensures that there will be no trade agreement with the EU and that we will have to trade on onerous high tariff rates of duties and a bureaucratic system of monitoring trade and Customs.

The cost of this will be high in the short term as the cost of almost everything that we import will rise as will the cost of running the system. In the long-term the cost will be even higher. Forget high politics. If someone breaks their word with you how keen are you on continuing to do business with them? Of course, you aren’t as keen. Even if you do business with them you create higher barriers and more onerous conditions because of the lack of trust.

What’s true for individuals is also true for Countries. Who will want to trade with a Country whose word they cannot trust? Don’t be fooled by the agreement reached last week with Japan. It is a fraction of the deal that we already have with Japan as part of the EU.

The USA, who the Government have been desperate to sign up to a new Trade Agreement, has already made clear that they will no do so because of the threats to the island of Ireland.

Leaving the EU was always going to be costly. Already 50,000 more people are being recruited to enable the borders which we have deliberately recreated to function.  That costs money. New tariffs mean higher prices for basics from energy to food. Leaving without an agreement will be even more costly.

That’s why we won’t deliver ‘Jerusalem’. There’ll be no new money for schools or hospitals, wages will come down in real terms, the houses we desperately need won’t get built because there will be no money to do the things that need doing.

So, what are you going to do about the situation?  Are you going to be part of the Twitterati or the Facebookites who will fulminate mightily on social media, raise countless surveys and petitions and feel better? Or are you going to organise and defeat these dreadful people. They are many ways that you can do this but one way must be to consider joining and working with a Party that fights to replace the existing Government. If you want to join the Lib Dems you can do so here But there are other Parties who must work together and there are other organisations who engage in the political process.

Now is the time for all good men (and women!) to come to the aid of the Country. Don’t get mad, get even!

About richardkemp

Leader of the Liberal Democrats in Liverpool. Deputy Chair and Lib Dem Spokesperson on the LGA Community Wellbeing Board. Married to the lovely Cllr Erica Kemp CBE with three children and four grandchildren.
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1 Response to Last night I cried for my Country

  1. bob says:

    Crying bitter tears at the rejection of the eu. 0.7% of GDP is unaffordable at the moment and for many years to come. Aid should only be given in the event of disasters and nothing more. Whilst we have ex-service personel on the streets and with mental health issues we should not be sending laoned money out of the UK.

    Tarrifs cut both ways not just one, but you missed that bit out and as a net importer from the eu to the tune of £120 bn per annum they eu states will pay far more than we do.

    remember your party was rejuected on the premise of Swinson’s words about the eu.

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