Brexit Day

If ever I wondered what being on the receiving end of nervous smugness was like, today I can wonder no more. Some exponents of the Leave campaign on Twitter have today furiously denied the fact that the UK needs the EU more than the EU needs the UK because of the EU having more deficit. I guess we’ll find out what nonsense that is shortly.

The next pro-Brexit lie to contend with is that the triggering of Article 50 is irrevocable. Hopefully there are some who in the next 2 years can disabuse all of this misconception.

Some simple arguments against the UK’s unrestricted arms trade

Moral point: If we regard economic gain as only as good as the good it can do people, then economic gain (especially for an industry that enjoys significant tax favours) cannot be used to justify support for human rights abusers. Doubly so, when the support is so direct as to be one step back from providing British soldiers to actually do the repressing.

Pragmatic point 1: it’s naive to arm unstable (any dictatorship is unstable) regimes with reasonably advanced weapon systems. You never know when they may be turned on you. (Yes, yes I know we’re not sending state-of-the-art tech, but we’re considerably hardening an unstable potentially hostile military).

Pragmatic point 2: arming a repressive regime does your image no good with the repressed citizens. Again, it is unknown, but likely that at some stage their favourable view of us would be useful. Having fresh memories of fighting oppressors armed with British weapons (oppressive regimes don’t always bother to change the markings on planes and tanks, and records have a habit of leaking) won’t make them like us.

Zero-hours contracts, criminality and incoherence

I’d like to correct a bit of clumsy language I perpetrated this morning on the train, kept deliberately terse so I could post it to both Facebook and Twitter. Here’s what I wrote:

I think I’d rather be a criminal than take on a zero-hour contract, or spend life in a temp job. More self-respect.¬†http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/aug/06/david-cameron-britain-dockers-line-up-back

I re-read it just now, and it looked like I’d meant that I think people on zero-hours contracts or temporary contracts had no self-respect. That definitely wasn’t what I meant. I was very upset by what I’d read in this article, and wanted to convey the idea that I think I’d feel happier as a criminal than as someone working on one of these contracts because at least a criminal is accorded the recognition of having locks used, and guards employed against him. Zero-hour contracts appear to be the modern equivalent of serfdom, and so, are strong messages by society that the signatory of such a contract is regarded as next to worthless.

This is a horrifying notion – the idea that a fellow citizen can be denied the rights of civilization: health care, a pension, self-sufficiency – simply because he or she is not lucky enough to be a member of the plutocracy or to have skills sufficiently rare in this overpopulated time that there is a significant demand for them.