European Athletics Council to Wipe World Records from the History Books @JDE66 @paulajradcliffe @ColinJackson @Steve_Backley #IAAF #Athletics

In 1995, I won the gold medal for the long jump at Borough Sports. This is the big, yearly, borough-wide sports competition with children competing from all local schools. 1995 also saw Jonathan Edwards break the 60 foot barrier in the triple jump. His leap has still not been bested. Edwards was my idol.

As a ten year old, and I say this with no exaggeration at all, that single hop, skip, jump has become one of the fundamental formative moments of my whole childhood and life. A golden memory, a moment where I was forever touched by the magic of sport and the heights that humans can climb.

Yet now, the European Athletics Council have suggested wiping all world records from before 2005. This would rub Edwards’ moment of magic out — as it would many other magnificent achievements, such as Mike Powell’s 1991 long jump world record which has also stood the test of time.

As Edwards has said, he always knew his record would go one day — he just didn’t expect it would be to administrators!

There are many things wrong with this policy. They have all been expertly articulated by many great athletes such as Colin Jackson, Steve Backley, Paula Radcliffe, and Jonathan Edwards: all legendary British athletes who will lose their records due to pen pushers. There’s no point rehashing their arguments — but to say that this proposal, whilst of noble intention, is wrong-headed and will harm the sport in the end.

But on a personal note, I feel like I’m being robbed of precious childhood memories. Athletics was a rare joy in my life, and those golden moments have shaped me. None more so than that magical hop, skip, and jump in Stockholm — something I’d write off as legend, if I hadn’t seen it for myself.

© 2017 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2011/04/14/article-1376790-0080CA3F1000044C-149_468x305.jpg

 

London Terror Attack 22/03/2017 #WeAreNotAfraid

London has always been attacked by terrorists. We know that. But this never has, nor ever will, stop us leading our lives freely. I can say hand-on-heart: WE ARE NOT AFRAID.

© 2017 Bryan A. J. Parry

The SNP are Opportunistic Scum @theSNP @NicolaSturgeon #IndyRef2

… the SNP and Scotland are not the same thing …

I am a unionist … but I am a democrat above all else … if Scotland wanted to leave the UK, then it is undeniably right that they should leave … Yet now demonstrably is not the time for another referendum.

I’ve lost all respect for the Scottish National Party. They are acting like opportunistic, hateful scum. None-the-less, I still 100% respect the idea of Scottish Independence; let’s not conflate the SNP and Scotland, as if they were the same thing, even though Sturgeon and her motley crew keep trying to blur the distinction.

I want to be clear about something.

Yes, I am a unionist and believe that the four nations of the UK are better off together. However, I am a democrat above all else. And even though it would break my heart, if Scotland wanted to leave the UK, then it is undeniably right that they should leave, although I would bid them adieu with a tear and a friendly handshake. See my posts about the 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum for more about my views.

But now demonstrably is not the time for another referendum. SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon talks about the “democratic outrage” of not being allowed to hold another independence reference by 2018-2019. But I think the only outrage is her behaviour and that of other SNP top brass.

Let’s get real.

  1. The official logic of a 2018-2019 Scottish Referendum is that Scotland will remain in the EU if it leaves the UK before the UK leaves the EU. However, this “logic” is horseshit and has been repeatedly shot down by everyone in the EU. The United Kingdom has membership of the EU, and Scotland would not inherit the UK’s membership. Therefore, Scotland would have to reapply to join the EU even if it seceded from the UK but the rest of the UK remained in!
  2. Scotland knew that there would be an EU referendum and therefore knew that if it voted to remain in the UK, there would be the very real possibility that that would mean leaving the EU. Therefore, material circumstances haven’t changed in quite the way the SNP claim.
  3. It is plainly absurd for any Scottish Independence Referendum to be held before (1) we had left the EU, and (2) before the dust had settled. The SNP said this referendum was once in a lifetime; what, the lifetime of a gerbil? Wait for the UK to leave, and for the dust to settle, and then the Westminster government should be totally open to a new referendum.
  4. I wonder, though, if the SNP would be pressing for a second referendum in 2018-2019 if Scotland had voted to leave the UK… you know, just to make sure — after all, Brexit means circumstances have changed…
  5. The UK got opt-outs, and Sweden et al joined way back when. Any new member of the EU would have to adopt the Euro. Sorry, but that’s a fact. An “independent” Scotland in the EU would also be in the Euro.
  6. I still cannot grasp the fundamental logic of the SNP position, in any case: being 8% of the population of the UK, with 9% of the seats in the Commons, and one of four member states, is worse than what would be 1% of the population of the EU, with around 1.6% of the seats, and one of 28 member states…!!? This smacks of serious anti-English bias in the SNP leadership (not amongst members, though, who are mostly just patriotic Scots, not English-haters).

In short, the Scots are a nation and not a county of England — as Alex Salmond absurdly recently claimed is the opinion of those against doing IndyRef2 in the SNP’s timeframe of 2018-2019. And thus, they have absolutely the moral right to another referendum. Luckily, the UK government is more enlightened than, say, the Spanish government, and we’re happy to give a binding referendum to Scotland. But this timeframe of 2018-2019 is absurd. It is political opportunism. Let’s wait until the next parliament. If there is wide enough support for another referendum, then let’s crack on with Indy Ref 2!

© 2017 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from https://s.yimg.com/uu/api/res/1.2/JMGMGAzWY2_0pSOjbb.xWA–/aD0xMTUyO3c9MjA0ODtzbT0xO2FwcGlkPXl0YWNoeW9u/http://media.zenfs.com/en_uk/News/skynews/472583032-1-2048×1152-20160625-011514-005.jpg

Elected House of Lords? @electoralreform #electoralreform #lordsreform #sortition

The Electoral Reform Society and others claim that we need an elected upper house in order to be fully democratic. But I say that they have confused democracy with vote-ocracy.

Today’s papers are full of a periodic favourite: how the House of Lords needs to be reformed. Reports of one peer who left a taxi waiting whilst he went inside just to sign in for his £300 daily expenses only to then nip off again in his taxi (!) have (re)surfaced. The Electoral Reform Society, who I largely agree with and support, have called for an elected House of Lords.

But I disagree.

The House of Lords is a total mess. No doubt. Packed with cronies, those with conflicts of interest (taking EU pensions whilst voting on whether we should leave the EU!), and lazy sods who turn up for their dole. The place is an anachronism. And it’s a great pity that Labour could not finish the reform job they started in 1997; if they had prepared for government a bit more, maybe they would have.

But electing members of the Lords is not the solution. In fact, it would make things worse.

Why replicate the elected Commons? Why have yet more elected careerist politicians?

The Electoral Reform Society and others claim that we need an elected upper house in order to be fully democratic. But I say that they have confused democracy with vote-ocracy.

If not an elected Lords, then what?

The Lords is supposed to be a politically neutral, disinterested, body of wise counsellors, who have no vested interests, who are not career politicians, and who act as a sober check on any possible elected dictatorship of the Commons. But how to get such a House?

Clearly, elections corrupt the system and invariably lead to politicising. Not merely my words and thoughts, those of the founding fathers of the US. The ancient Athenians and Romans knew this, too, which is why leading figures were selected by sortition (out of a hat, as it were, like jurors are nowadays) and were limited to a single one-year term.

Thus, there are intricacies involved in reform, but I put forward the following as a sound basis.

  1. There should be far fewer Lords than there are MPs in the Commons. But currently there are 805 Lords and 650 MPs. I propose to cut the number of Lords to around half the number of MPs, let’s say around 300.
  2. Lords should not be elected (barring e.g. the Bishops), and should either serve life terms, very long one-off terms, or very short terms. Perhaps all three depending.
  3. Lords must forsake any political allegiance or conflicting interests as the Speaker of the Commons does.
  4. Around half or more (two-thirds? three-quarters?) of the Lords will be chosen by sortition (like jury duty) from a pool of eligible persons who have not opted out, representing equally the leading minds in all key disciplines such as science, technology, business, the arts, philanthropy, and so on. Such individuals should serve long single-terms/lifelong terms.
  5. Most of the left-over minority of the Lords should be chosen by nomination by the political parties in proportion to the seats they have in the Commons and for a single term, perhaps the length of the next parliament, no party in the Commons having fewer than one appointee in the Lord. For example, if 100 seats were to be made available this way, the Conservatives would nominate around 51 members, Labour around 36, the SNP around 8, the LibDems, UKIP, Greens and so on 1 each, all based on their current seats in the Commons.
  6. There should be an even smaller number (around half of the nominees) who are selected by sortition from the public at large, after having met various qualifications, and who should serve single one-year terms.
  7. The 26 Lords Spiritual should keep their seats.
  8. The 90 hereditary peers should keep their seats until they all die. Their seats will not be handed on. Eventually, there will be no hereditary peers left.

This sort of thing seems like a reasonable compromise which would achieve what we want of the Lords — and most importantly, doesn’t confuse vote-ocracy with democracy.

© 2017 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from ichef.bbci.co.uk/news/624/cpsprodpb/CE9F/production/_87559825_standing-lords.jpg

The Electoral College #NotMyPresident

electoralcollege2016_svg

So Donald Trump is the new President of the United States of America. I am not happy at all. Don’t get me wrong! I didn’t support Hilary Clinton either. What a choice(!) One Twitter user likened it to having to choose between which STD you want.

I’m actually British. But I’ve followed every US election since I was 16 years old (the 2000 election). Something weird is going on, though, and I know I’m not the only one who this has been happening to…

HOW I WOULD HAVE VOTED
2016

Clinton vs. Trump. I choose… neither!

But my favourite candidate in the primaries was RAND PAUL, REPUBLICAN, even though I had some misgivings. I would have voted for him over Clinton. HOWEVER, my second favourite candidate from the primaries: BERNIE SANDERS, DEMOCRAT. I would’ve voted for him over Trump or Clinton.

So, I’m a Republican, or a Democrat, but 100% would vote for neither Clinton or Trump. WTH?

2012
Obama vs. Romney. 100% OBAMA. I’m not actually a big fan of his, even though he’s dreamy and hawt. Romney was simply a sociopathic scumbag zealot. For example, I’ll never forget when a man in a wheelchair asked Romney why medical marijuana should be illegal even though it literally was the only thing making his life bearable, and Romney’s facial expressions and dismissiveness just spoke a 1000 words to his character.

But my favourite candidate in the primaries was, once again, a REPUBLICAN, RON PAUL.

2008
Obama vs. McCain (and Palin). I mean, WTF? Remember McCain and Palin and how we thought that was a parody? Wow. So yeah, OBAMA all the way for me!

But again, weirdly, for the third election on the trot, my favourite candidate overall was a REPUBLICAN, RON PAUL.

2004
Bush vs. Kerry. Not a fan of Kerry, but this was definitely lesser of two evils. 100% KERRY!

SO…. WOULD I BE A DEMOCRAT OR A REPUBLICAN IF I WAS AMERICAN?
Well, in the four elections that I could have voted in if I was an American, out of the two candidates we ended up with, I would have voted:

Democrats 3 – 0 Republicans (1 spoiled ballot)

Yet if you could vote for any of the candidates in the primaries, I would have voted:

Democrats 1 – 3 Republicans

So…. that makes me a Republocrat? How effed up is that??

REPUBLOCRATS
I always use the term “Republocrats” to disparagingly describe the American System. Bluntly, if I was a yank, I would always vote Libertarian if I had the option. Which isn’t a surprise considering my favourite candidates have been Ron Paul 2008 (former Libertarian presidential candidate), erm, Ron Paul 2012 model, and, errrrr, Rand Paul 2016 (son of Ron Paul, former Libertarian presidential candidate).

REFORM?
Considering the Prez can’t get anything done unless the houses agree. And considering the presidential race is totally absurd: I mean, depending on which way we slice it, I’m either a Republican or a Democrat! I’m not the only one. Why not just have the President, and the President alone, elected by nationwide popular vote?

Upsides to this idea:

  1. It would encourage people to vote the way they really want, knowing their vote will count, instead of voting tactically to contract the clap instead of the pox.
  2. It would allow “third party” candidates and independents to stand a real chance and to help shape the national debate.
  3. It would encourage people who didn’t get their party’s nomination, but who are massively popular, to stand as independents.
  4. Al Gore would have won in 2000! And that argument alone clinches it, I think. [Clinton would also have beat Trump on this basis]

© 2016 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electoral_College_(United_States)#/media/File:ElectoralCollege2016.svg By Gage – 2012 Electoral College map, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=35172210

Donald Bigly Trump

Donald Trump

Today Trump said: Hillary wants to raise taxes big league.

Trump needs to stop saying blah blah blah BIG LEAGUE. Because I keep hearing it as “BIGLY”. Which is weird. And I thought the phrase was “Major League”, anyway, like Dubya’s “Major League Asshole“. Luckily, after tomorrow I won’t need to hear it ever again. Unless… :-O That’s what’s really at stake in this election. Oh yeah, and Trump’s weird hand gestures, and Clinton’s incessant smiling, head bobble, and pointing and waving. The issues that really count.

© 2016 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from http://i.huffpost.com/gen/3176536/images/o-DONALD-TRUMP-facebook.jpg

EU Referendum: You Can NEVER Leave Us! (Summary) @THATGINAMILLER #RESPECTTHERESULT #BREXIT

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Just in case my article-cum-essay was too much to read, here is the long and short of it.

  • The High Court says we cannot leave the EU without a vote in Parliament.
  • The overwhelming majority of MPs are against us leaving the EU.
  • Therefore, they will block, delay, or water down the terms of our leaving, e.g., we will have to keep open borders “freedom of movement” and paying our dues.
  • The result: either we won’t leave at all, or will leave in name only but not in effect.

And so, like I said in my article just days after the EU referendum, we will never meaningfully leave the EU!

So yes, we’ve been had again folks. The EU and its supporters simply will not let you quit. And just as voodoo pharmacology has it, once you’ve taken a hit of that sweet, sweet EU pipe, it’s hard to want to quit it anyway; that’s why the people will find it hard to summon the will to vote for freedom in the case of a second referendum

Let me sign off with this quote from Jean-Claude Juncker, EC President, on the 2005 French vote on the EU Constitution:

If it’s a Yes, we will say ‘On we go’, and if it’s a No, we will say, ‘We Continue’

© 2016 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from https://static.independent.co.uk/s3fs-public/styles/article_large/public/thumbnails

EU Referendum: You Can NEVER Leave Us! @thatginamiller #RespectTheResult #Brexit

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Just like a victim of vampirism, once bitten by the seductive bloodsucker that is the European Union, it seems you are left forever changed, unable to leave the sanguivorous circle and enter daylight again. I am of course referring to the ruling by the British High Court that the British Government cannot just go ahead, trigger Article 50, and make the UK leave the EU. Rather, the justices have decided that Parliament must vote. This is despite the fact that the British people have already voted to leave the EU! This decision therefore leaves Brexit very much hanging in the balance.

The motley crew who brought this case before the High Court have said that the referendum was only “advisory”, whereas others in the past have been binding. Therefore, their argument was that it is unconstitutional for the Government to simply have us leave the EU without a vote in Parliament. However, this view is complete tosh. Due to the famed Parliamentary Sovereignty that self-professedly underpins the campaigners’ case, erm, Parliament is sovereign. Therefore, all popular votes are advisory, not just this one. That includes General Elections: the parliamentarian who thinks they have the best ability to form a government, which is generally the leader of the party winning the most seats in the Commons, seeks an audience with the Monarch and asks to form a government. The Queen is merely advised; she doesn’t have to accept any of it.

Now you might scoff and say I’m being a bit far-fetched. But I’m not at all. The principle is exactly the same. Any and all votes are “advisory”. Trying to paint only this referendum as merely advisory is dishonest and misses the point. But the real point is that the people made their decision with the understanding that it would be “respected”, that is implemented, and therefore it’s not fair to try and slip out of it with this legal trickery. Thus, to make the will of the people come into effect, the Government desires to use the Royal Prerogative to force it through (as MPs are overwhelmingly against Brexit and so may block it and because the people have authorised the Government to do this); much like an “executive order” in the United States. Thereby giving effect to the will of the people by using executive powers ultimately derived from the crown (aka Her Maj)– the theoretical source of all sovereignty in our system. Y’see, “Parliament” isn’t the same as “The House of Commons”. The Commons voted for the referendum, presumably to delegate its responsibilities in this regard directly to the people; after all, the MPs in the Commons are only there because we delegated day-to-day running of the nation to them. The power of MPs derives from our consent.

But you know what, that is only my interpretation. I’m not a lawyer.   The High Court judges are more expert than me. And perhaps they’ll be proven right. The Government is appealing to the Supreme Court, which may of course back the High Court. It may equally overturn the High Court’s decision. So we shall we see whether lay political activists like me are right, or whether it is the top legal minds of the High Court. But bear in mind that the High Court in Northern Ireland only last week backed the Government’s position!

Yet all this bleating about the “unconstitutionality” of the Government taking us out of the EU, in accordance with the wishes of the British people as expressed in the 23rd of June referendum, really makes me laugh. After all, when since was any of the EU project constitutional? For example, how was the Maastricht Treaty (1993) constitutional when it made me the citizen of a foreign state, the EU!? Imagine if it had made us citizens of Russia, China, or even a sensible country like Canada; everyone would see how unconstitutional that is. I mean, it violates one of the most fundamental parts of our constitution, which MPs and the Monarch are sworn to uphold, The Bill of Rights (1688), by giving us, yes, all the privileges and rights of EU citizenship, but all the responsibilities, current and future, as well. Indeed, one could argue that the whole edifice of the EU violates the constitution, particularly given that we never consented to any of it. Oh wait, “I” consented in 1975… when my Mum was 17 years old and I was minus nine. Yeah… But more on this in an upcoming post.

And I doe declare That noe Forreigne Prince Person Prelate, State or Potentate hath or ought to have any Jurisdiction Power Superiority Preeminence or Authoritie Ecclesiasticall or Spirituall within this Realme Soe helpe me God.

The Bill of Rights (1688)

But anyway, NONE OF THIS SORRY SITUATION IS A SURPRISE TO ME. Just after the referendum, I said that the MO of the European Union is to ignore the wishes of the people. I said that I think Brexit will never happen. By hook or crook, the political elites try and make nations go along with it. They’ve done it again and again and again and again.

Either Parliament will water down Brexit so as to be fairly meaningless, e.g., still signed up to the freedom of movement, paying into the EU, and so on. This of course leaves the door open to easily becoming “full” members again in a decade or so.

Or Parliament will delay and delay until the momentum and political will fizzles out. And so neither “soft” nor “hard” Brexit occur.

And/or there will be a second vote, if need be. And second votes are always won by the EU (and there have been quite a few; check it out!). Why?

  1. The people who never usually vote, the silent majority who come out and say “NO MORE!” to the EU, tend to go back to being even more disillusioned than ever and not voting second time round.
  2. Those who do normally vote are so demoralised that many don’t vote in the second vote, and most of the others who do vote have no campaigning zeal left, so disheartened are they.
  3. The momentum is with the EU, and the anti-EU side is on the ropes.
  4. Increased time, money, and propaganda helps sway a few more people.

Indeed, polls are already beginning to suggest that “Brexit” might narrowly lose a second referendum.

We don’t know how this will pan out. But I’ll just leave you with this quote from Jean-Claude Juncker, EC President, on the 2005 French vote on the EU Constitution:

If it’s a Yes, we will say ‘On we go’, and if it’s a No, we will say, ‘We Continue’

© 2016 Bryan A. J. Parry

Text of the 1688 Bill of Rights: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/aep/WillandMarSess2/1/2/introduction

featured image from https://static.independent.co.uk/s3fs-public/styles/article_large/public/thumbnails 

2nd Presidential Debate #PresidentialDebate #KarlBecker #Debate @HillaryClinton @realDonaldTrump

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Here are some brief thoughts on the second presidential debate (I don’t want to wax lyrical, as this would turn into an essay!).

  1. Trump was much stronger than in the first debate; Clinton was much weaker (I’m not going to call them “Donald” and “Hilary”; they’re not my friends). Things were close enough that both sides could (and have) claimed a win. My feeling: Clinton just edged it due to the occasional odd moment out of Trump’s mouth, even though Trump’s best moments were probably slightly better than Clinton’s.
  2. Trump came out with some bizarrely inept statements. For example, CLICK HERE TO READ THE REST OF THE POST

The EU’s Democratic Deficit #brexit #changebritain @LeaveEUOfficial

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Tim Farron, leader of the Liberal Democrats, has said that the oft-repeated claim that the EU is undemocratic is actually a lie. His view: we elect members to a European Parliament on a proportional basis, something we don’t even do in the UK, so how can the EU have any democratic deficit?

But in fact, his reasonable-sounding claim is not true. Being a smart man, Tim Farron must know this. Therefore, it looks like he must be lying.

But why is his view not true?

The EU’s democratic deficit has two majors points.

1. The numbers don’t add up. The UK gets 79 MEPS to represent the 65 or so million people of the UK. That’s one MEP per population the size of Birmingham, more-or-less. Whereas in the UK House of Commons, we have 600 or so MPs (the number has changed over the years) to represent the same number of people. Clearly, one elected representative per hundred thousand is more repesentative than one per million. Therefore, the EU parliament is less representative.

1b. The numbers really don’t add up. Remember that those 79 MEPs make up around 9% of the seats in the EU parliament. Therefore, even if all UK MEPs agreed that something was in the best interests of the UK, which is nigh-on impossible, they would still be in a 91-9 minority. Clearly, therefore, the people of the UK do not have control over their own affairs within the EU. The lack of a cogent European demos makes this point relevant not just now, but for the foreseeable future.

2. How are decisions made? Look at the chart at the top of this article. The European Parliament isn’t the prime mover within the EU, anyway. The Parliament oversees the Commission, but it is the unelected cabal-like European Commission which puts forward legislation, initiates policy packages, and imposes fines on national governments (p.45, The European Union: a very short introduction, 3rd edition, John Pinder and Simon Usherwood, 2013, OUP). The Commission is known as the “watchdog of the Treaty (p.44) and the “motor” of the community (p.45) for a reason.

Therefore, whilst there is an argument to be had that the House of Commons should move to a proportional basis (and, indeed, there a good arguments against this, too), this is not key to the issue at hand. The EU is, and by its very nature will remain, incapable of the representative democracy which it aspires to. It has a serious, inbuilt democratic deficit it cannot make up for.

© 2016 Bryan A. J. Parry