There is a clear sense that our Government and its closest political ally are attempting to ignore the concerns of many ‘ordinary’ people who are feeling disturbed and helpless when it comes to changing our society. These people are not just frustrated, but they have been lied to and promises made by the Governments have been broken in blunt ways.
The decision by the UK Government to ignore every one of the proposed amendments tabled over the Article 50 decision displays a complete disregard for the will and concerns not just of a few hundred MPs or even the Millions of people who voted to Remain in the EU, but also the larger number of those who voted to Leave. The amendment by Chuka Umunna on Tuesday to ask the Government to carry out “an assessment on the impact of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU on the department [of Health]’s responsibilities, and laid a copy of the assessment before Parliament.” was not unreasonable bearing in mind the extent to which the promise to spend £350M a week on the NHS once we had left was pivotal in the Leave campaign. Nevertheless that amendment was defeated soundly by the Government including Boris Johnson and Liam Fox and a handful of Labour MPs including Gisela Stuart. I recall Michael Gove arguing on Radio 4 a few days before the vote that if we voted to leave on Thursday 23rd June that by Friday 24th the process of leaving would be underway. Yet here we are over seven months later when he is fully aware that not a single part of that commitment had been met. His response to the amendment on Tuesday was “I am speaking tonight because I oppose every single one of the new clauses and amendments in front of us because they seek to frustrate the democratic will of the people.” Yet the Umunna amendment sought to clarify the validity of the promise that Michael Gove, Fox, Johnson and Stuary had made regarding the NHS. Why has that assessment not yet been carried out while we wait for Article 5o to be enacted. It could easily have been carried out in the last seven months without a single additional delay to any part of the process.
Then there is the decision taken by the Government to adopt the proposal by Alf Dubs to secure the lives of some 3,000 unaccompanied minors whose had ended up in Northern France, attempting to enter the UK having left Syria and other places where wars are being fought. This agreement and the influence of Lord Dubs on the Government has clearly ended as they have closed the scheme with only 10% of the total number of children having been rescued. The picture of Theresa May above celebrating the life and work of Nicholas Winton seems deeply hypocritical bearing in mind that Lord Dubs was one of the children rescued by Nicholas Winton as part of the Kinder Transport scheme. If Mrs May cannot see the irony of this she is wholly out of touch with reality.
Across the Atlantic a similar approach is being adopted by the new President who is claiming that no one has been in touch with him regarding the oil pipeline in Dakota which is about to cut across land that belongs to native Americans. The work was halted by Obama because of objections. The reason no one has been in touch with the White House through its comments line in recent weeks is as this link explains, that the President has closed the White House comments line down! However in the USA a group of activists have sought to find a new way of getting their voices heard. They have launched a website called White House Inc. which offers visitors access to a database of businesses that belong to the President who as yet has not ended his association with them. Instead of getting frustrated with the White House Comments Line, visitors are given the number at random of one of the businesses so that they can complain to one of Trumps businesses.
Clearly there is no direct comparison for us in the UK. Our Government is a Parliamentary system and our MPs don’t all have outside business interests which could be used as leverage. However the lack of commitment to what we have been promised and voted for by people like Michael Gove does cry out for some form of creative and effective response.