Europe is to EU as European is to ?Europan?

I always make the point that the EU and Europe are not same thing, and how I love Europe, but hate the EU. You can disagree with me on whether the EU is something hateworthy or something praiseworthy, but you cannot disagree with me on this pedantic linguistic point, that the European Union, a political project consisting of many European nations, is not the same thing as Europe, a geographical and cultural area. 

Okay, fine, we can distinguish between “the EU” and “Europe”. But what of the adjective? For both it is “European”. This is clearly a defect of the language. And I think this lies at the root of some of the misunderstandings around Brexit as we confusingly mix the terms for these two concepts. Think of the term “Eurosceptic”; this doesn’t mean sceptical of Europe (or even of the euro), but of the EU.

I think we need to distinguish an adjective referring to the EU versus the usual one, “European”, which refers to the cultural-geographic area (namely, the continent itself). Why? Or else we could end up with an “American”-type situation again where English lacks a word like “United Statesian”, which many languages have (e.g. Spanish “estadounidense”).

I suggest “European” (of Europe, for the cultural-geographic area, that is, the continent itself) and “Europan” or “Europian” (of the EU). These words derived from “Europa”. They should be stressed on the second syllable. I sometimes use “E.U.pean” to make the distinction I am making clearer, but I don’t think that that is a good, long-term, non-derisory word.

I prefer “Europan” as it has a more distinct pronunciation to “European” than does “Europian”.

After thought

Incidentally, I’ve long since thought that one day, we will have EU citizens who are not citizens of their own country + the EU (which is what happens now), but citizens only of the EU if they so choose. Look how many British people wished to keep their “European”, i.e., Europan, citizenship after Brexit; it’s not possible as the EU citizenship hinges on your national citizenship. But I don’t see this situation continuing. This makes my Europan/Europian word all the more needed.

© 2020 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/b/b7/Flag_of_Europe.svg/1200px-Flag_of_Europe.svg.png

 

© Bre-entry #Brexit #Rejoin #FBPE

The UK has finally left the European Union after more than three and a half years of chaos. Whether you agree with Brexit or not, I think we can all agree that it’s good to resolve the issue and move on.

Apart from the additional two year transition period, 2020-2021, that is.

And apart from the people already campaigning for the UK to rejoin.

So this looks like an issue we’ve never be rid of.

With that in mind, “Brexit” means “the British exit from the EU”; I hereby copyright “Bre-entry” and “Brentry”: British (re-)entry into the EU.

© 2020 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image http://capreform.eu/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Brexit.jpg

 

I’ve Gone Viral on Twitter

 

I’ve gone viral on Twitter. Well, maybe not viral, but as near as viral as I’ve ever gone. Let’s say I got a minor case of the shits if not a full virus. One of my tweets has garnered 539 comments, 1458 retweets, and 3054 likes. This is far more than I’ve ever “achieved” before. It was actually a bit of a thrill seeing the likes tot up in real time, I won’t lie. It was quite a rush; now I get why some people chase likes and retweets like dirty twitterwhores.

Funnily enough, whilst I stand by my comment in the tweet, it’s weird how so many of my (don’t laugh) witty tweets or pithy yet deeply analytical and interesting tweets do not gain traction, but for some reason this one did. Don’t understand it, but I hope I go viral again soon.

[Note: this was back in May, but I’ve had an enforced absence from blogging since then, hence the delay]

© 2019 Bryan A. J. Parry

House of Commons Reform Proposal: Very Short Summary #ElectoralReform #HouseOfCommonsReform #HoCReform

I’ve been writing an essay on possible electoral reform in the UK, but it’s turning into a mini-book. So I’m just going to post up the very short summary of my main conclusions and proposals.

My proposal for how to reform the House of Commons:

  1. Decrease the number of constituencies from 650 to 600.
  2. Ensure all constituencies are almost identical in size so as to make all votes roughly equal (currently, the smallest has 21,769 electors and the largest 110,697).
  3. Following the Jenkins Commission’s Report 1998 (JCR 1998), introduce two kinds of MP; those chosen from single member parliamentary constituencies (like now), and those chosen proportionally from multi-member regional constituencies. This is what happens currently for elections to the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Assembly, and the London Assembly.
  4. Following the JCR 1998, only 15-20% of MPs to be multimember; so, 480:120 or 500:100, single member constituency MPs to multimember constituency MPs. This is as opposed to the devolved legislatures which have around 40-45% of members drawn from the multimember regional constituencies.
  5. Very approximately, the country should be divided into around a dozen multimember regional constituencies; this ensures a high level of proportionately, but not so much that politics becomes destabilised.
    1. This could be on similar lines to how Members for the European Parliament are currently elected from the UK so that the constituencies do not all have an equal number of MPs. The benefit is that natural geographic or cultural regions can be treated as constituencies regardless of size, e.g., Northern Ireland.
    2. Alternatively, this could be done as in Wales and Scotland where the regions all elect the same number of members. The disadvantage of this is that either traditional boundaries would have to be disregarded, or some constituencies would have more MPs than their populations would proportionately require.
  6. In the single member constituencies, MPs to be elected on the same basis as the London mayor, on the Supplementary Vote system; voters pick a first and second choice, if no candidate receive more than 50% of first choice votes, then all but the leading two candidates are eliminated and all second choice votes are redistributed to determine the winner.

This series of proposals taken together introduces some proportionality, but not to the point that it destabilises politics (that is, permanent coalitions and collapsing governments). It encourages people to vote for who they really want, as they know their vote really counts in the multimember regional constituencies, and that they can vote for who they want in the single member constituencies without wholly ruining it for the second favourite candidate. Currently, people will often vote Labour to keep out the Tory, or vice versa, when they really want to vote Green (for example). Under this proposed system, they could confidently vote Green in the multimember regional constituency, and then either Labour in the single member constituency or Green first choice and Labour second choice. It also makes it more likely that the MP in the single member constituency will command 50% or more of the electorate.

The only possible downside is that it introduces two kinds of MP. But I say we already have two kinds of MP: we have those in the Government who are thus in the Executive branch of Government, and back benchers who are not in the Government and are thus not part of the Executive. In other words, the MPs who run the country + look after their constituents, and MPs who only look after their constituents. Indeed, the Speaker of the House could himself be considered an altogether different, third type of MP in the current set up.

I hope to publish a more detailed analysis and investigation into reform of the House of Commons soon.

© 2018 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from https://culturalwednesday.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/House-of-Commons-1024×681.jpg

“But Brexit ISN’T ‘The Will of the People’!” #Brexit #BRINO #WillOfThePeople @Anna_Soubry @StevenEdginton @WestmonsterUK

Anna Soubry, the Conservative MP who stood for election on a 2017 Manifesto which committed to delivering Brexit and who herself in 2017 said “you can’t vote for a Referendum & then renege on delivering the result because you don’t like the result”, has famously reneged. She has done nothing in the last year but attempt to overturn the decision to leave the European Union, most recently voting against her own Government’s position on the recent Customs and Trade Bills by trying to tie the UK into a Customs Union with the EU.

How times change…

But by now, all politics junkies know she’s unprincipled (although I’m not sure to what extent the general public is aware of the extent of her unprincipledness). What has piqued my interest, however, is that now she’s talking absolute rubbish on Twitter, again. Specifically, she’s parroting the oft-repeated, in-vogue line that, actually, the vote to leave the EU wasn’t the will of the people after all! Why? Because whilst it is true that more than half of those who voted did indeed vote to Leave, many people did not vote at all. Some 27.79% of the eligible electorate didn’t bother to vote, in fact. This means that, of the total electorate eligible to vote in the EU Referendum, 34.74% voted for Remain, and only 37.47% voted for Leave — considerably less than 50%!!

Soubry fails logic

However, this is a completely bogus argument. There is always a huge percentage of the electorate who don’t vote. Indeed, as one Twitter user (@AlastairJT) has helpfully pointed out to Ms. Soubry, she herself was elected in 2017 on less than 50% of the electorate; the turn out in her constituency of Broxtowe was 75.0%, of which she achieved 46.8%, giving her a grand total of 35.1% of the electorate — a lower percentage than voted for Brexit.

But actually, the issue is even larger than that. More people voted for Brexit (17.4 million) than for anything else in British history. Moreover, and this is the master stroke I feel, you have to go back to the General Election of 1959 to see the winning party earn a higher percentage of the total electorate than the 37.5% who voted for Brexit. 1959! When Britain was a virtual two party state. And indeed, you have to go back to the 1931 General Election before a party achieved a higher percentage of the turn out than Leave achieved — and that was because the Liberal Party had imploded and split four ways.

If the vote to leave the EU wasn’t “the will of the people”, then nothing is…

As they say in football, “you can only beat the teams that are put in front of you”. That more than a quarter of the population stayed at home does in no way invalidate the result of the EU referendum. If the benchmark for a vote to qualify as the “will of the people” and be so enacted is more than half of the total electorate voting one way, then no General Election since 1959 has been “the will of the people”, and nor was the election of Anna Soubry herself. If the vote to leave the EU wasn’t “the will of the people”, then nothing is.

© 2018 Bryan A. J. Parry

Brexit Betrayal: Back From The Brink? #Brexit #BrexitBetrayal #MayMustGo #BRINO

Theresa May’s Chequers plan has been thoroughly amended by Parliament and has been firmly rejected by the EU. Although it’s likely the unamended version would also have been rejected as the Chequers plan tries to separate the four EU freedoms: the free movement of goods, capital, services, and people. This is a red line for the EU and they have consistently opposed any such cherry-picking from day one.

On one hand, you have to admire the EU negotiators; from the very beginning, they knew what they wanted, they knew what their red lines were, and they’ve stuck to this. Unlike our lily-livered Prime Minister who herself admits her position has “evolved”, the EU have stuck firmly to their principles. On the other hand, it is increasingly clear to everybody that the EU are simply unwilling to negotiate anything other than continued British membership of the EU in all but name only. Therefore, it is clear that there is literally now no point continuing the negotiations as they are. To think otherwise is to be delusional.

Therefore, we have to reset our minds and pursue one of two options.

One, lay down an offer and tell the EU to take it or we walk without a deal and go to WTO terms.

Two, we take the offer that the EU already made us in March: a regular EU-UK trade deal. Donald Tusk, the EU Council head, said that a free trade deal is the only possible model for EU-UK relations, that we cannot have a “pick and mix” approach to the European single market, and that we could continue to cooperate on security amongst a slew of other issues. Japan just signed a trade deal with the EU itself, and with no loss of sovereignty. Let’s chuck May’s Brexit In Name Only (“BRINO”) con job, and have a free trade deal with the EU. And if the EU aren’t willing to offer us a trade deal which we view as acceptable by the 29th March 2019, it is already clear that negotiating with them is a waste of time: WTO here we come! But this wouldn’t be a “cliff edge” or “crashing out”, as most mainstream news outlets and pro-Remain politicians style it; it would be complete freedom and independence — the very things we voted for on the 23rd June 2016.

© 2018 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from http://cdn.images.express.co.uk/img/dynamic/1/590x/Theresa-May-and-money-around-city-of-London-721875.jpg

Brexit Betrayal: On The Brink #Brexit #BrexitBetrayal #MayMustGo #BRINO

We are on the brink of the greatest exercise of democracy in the history of our nation, the vote to leave the European Union taken on 23rd June 2016, being overturned. More people voted for Brexit than for anything in British history ever. Yet Prime Minister Theresa May has set forth proposals in her White Paper which experts agree will make Brexit happen in name only; indeed, we will have to follow almost all of the same rules as being in the EU forevermore with no real ability to take back control of our laws, our money, our bordersthe very basis of the campaign to leave. To make this worse, her proposals go against all the red lines which she has repeatedly and so eloquently argued for in her landmark speeches.

The extent of May’s treachery and scheming is quite breath-taking and extensive, but here is a very brief summary: she secretly planned for this Brexit In Name Only (BRINO) for a year working to undermine her own publicly stated policy and red lines; she has determinedly undermined her colleagues especially the (now former) Brexit Secretary David Davis; she has threatened her MPs and the public with no Brexit at all if her new plans aren’t followed; she has conceded everything to the EU at all stages with nothing in return; she cleared her new plan with German Chancellor Angela Merkel before showing it to her Cabinet and has subsequently said that the plan cannot be changed as Merkel has already approved it.

Even staunchly loyal MPs, such as Jacob Rees-Mogg, are now openly in revolt. It is clear that May has doubled down on her new plan and will not yield. Therefore, the only solution is to remove her as Conservative Party leader. But how would this work?

  1. First, 15% of the Parliamentary Party (that’s 48 Tory MPs) would have to submit a letter of no confidence to the Chairman of the 1922 Committee, Graham Brady.
  2. If this occurs, a secret ballot will take place where Tory MPs will either support or oppose Theresa May’s leadership; she only needs to get a simple majority of MPs voting in support. This would be 159 MPs (if all Tory MPs vote).
  3. If she wins, she is untouchable for a year, and Brexit is finished.
  4. If she loses, a new leadership election is held in which she cannot stand.
  5. All candidates are voted on by the Tory MPs, the lowest ranked candidate being eliminated round-by-round until only two candidates remain; these two candidates will be put to the party membership to determine who will be next Conservative Party leader.

However, the quandary that pro-Brexit Tory MPs, and pro-Remain Tories who realise that May is electoral poison, find themselves in is this: do they really have the support the oust May? Very possibly, but perhaps probably not; after all, only a minority of Tory MPs are pro-Brexit, and pro-Remain Tories are likelier to wait until after this Remain-in-all-but-name deal is signed off on and then stick the knife in. In which case, all is lost. Therefore, some Tories wish to wait until after the Parliamentary Summer recess as they feel a vote against May is more likely to succeed then. Why? Because the EU will by then have, so it is claimed, rejected May’s proposals, thereby strengthening resolve against her.

For those who want Brexit to happen, indeed, for those who care about democracy at all (the idea that the people have power, a vote is held, and then the outcome of the vote is carried out), it is imperative that the intransigent May is removed from office. However, short of her death, the only way for this to happen is in a vote of no confidence, a vote she is perhaps likely to win. Our only hope is that a peculiar alliance of Tory careerism, principled Brexiteers, and Labour MPs helping to vote down May’s proposals, will effectively combine to save Brexit. That would be an occurrence as rare and miraculous as the vote to leave the European Union itself.

© 2018 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from http://cdn.images.express.co.uk/img/dynamic/1/590x/Theresa-May-and-money-around-city-of-London-721875.jpg

Brexit Voters Are ****ing Stupid! #Brexit

This post is inspired by a Tweet I saw and the countless times I’ve been slagged off by people who voted Remain in the EU Membership Referendum.

I have a Bachelor of Arts with Honours with an award of First Class, two Master of Arts, not to mention my professional qualifications, all from world leading institutions. IQ tests rank me as 98-99 percentile — that qualifies me for Mensa. Oh yeah, and my wife is foreign.

Yep, no doubt about it; I’m a typical stupid, ignorant, racist, thicky dum-dum Brexit voter. Cos only imbecilic racist scumbags voted Brexit, amirite?

© 2018 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from https://i.pinimg.com/736x/eb/8c/37/eb8c37e0ae5b5627d8ca68fda0bb92df.jpg

Neologism: Parchment Contract

So, me and some workmates were talking about older work contracts today and how people on older contracts have much better terms and conditions than people on new contracts. It’s like, it gets progressively worse over the last thirty years. Seems to be common across organisations. Anyway, I said,  ‘Of course so-and-so was entitled to such-and-such a benefit; their contract is so old it’s written on parchment’. And then I was, okay, “parchment contracts”.

So there we are, I offer my nonce word up as a useful new word:

parchment contract n. phr. an older contract with preferential terms and conditions and pay, specifically used in bitter reference to how such contracts are now ancient, long-forgotten, history, and never likely to return.

© 2018 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from http://cbsnews2.cbsistatic.com/hub/i/r/2012/04/06/6c5f91e8-3598-11e3-8ce8-047d7b15b92e/thumbnail/620×350/cee95ca89a1369962377c13e4c749723/contract_signing_000017511189.jpg

Term-time holiday dad loses court battle @tfa4freedom #Libertarianism #NannyState

The UK Supreme Court has decided that parents are not allowed to take their own children on holiday during school term time regardless of the child’s overall attendance, punctuality and attainment rates, or the needs of the family.

This sounds kind of reasonable, right? Surely, we need to protect kids from neglectful parents who harm their children by not giving enough regard to their educational attainment. However, bookings and flights are much more expensive during the school holidays. Many parents simply cannot afford these prices. Therefore, parents will often choose to miss some days of school, opting for a term-time holiday, than have their child miss no school time but perhaps forfeiting a holiday altogether. Yet even with this fine, it will still often be cheaper to take children on holiday out of term. Well, for wealthier parents, that is. What this fine means is that many poorer parents will not be able to have a holiday at all as they are less able to afford to pay the fine or the premium non-term time prices.

This is an outrageous decision. I grew up on a council estate, my parents were literally too poor to afford nappies. The only holiday I ever had from age 0-20 was when when I was 12, and it was paid for by people other than my parents. I never even went on these one-off school trips to places like Wales. I know the stress that no time away, no R & R, can have in a family and on school grades.

Sure, Mr Platt, the parent at the centre of this court case, isn’t trapped on a council estate like I was, but this decision applies to everyone. The decision is morally wrong for two fundamental reasons.

1. If a child’s attendance, punctuality, and attainment are otherwise good — that is, the child is being well cared for by their parents –, this ruling still does not allow parents to manage their children as they see fit. As it has been put today, parents must seek permission from the headmaster. This is a disgraceful decision, incredibly statist, and goes against the longstanding established liberal British and common sense mindset. It’s well-known that regular breaks from work or study yield greater periods of productivity.

2. It has been stated that taking kids out of school hampers the individual kid and their classmates from getting good GCSE graces due to the disruption caused. Well, you know what also hampers good GCSE grades? Tired, stressed, fatigued parents and children who don’t go on holiday or who can only holiday through excessive sacrifice in other areas. Trust me, I know.

It also needs to be said that GCSE attainment is far from the be-all-and-end-all of, well, anything. Lasting bonding time, fond memories, and a stress-free body will stand the child in good stead. That one holiday I took left me with more good memories, love for my family, and a rounded outlook than all the good GCSE grades I ultimately got. GCSEs have got me nowhere; when you’ve got A Levels, undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, that’s what counts.

This case just goes to show that even in our fair, rational, and outstandingly excellent legal system, atrocious decisions are made which affect peoples lives badly.

Note: I wrote this post at the time when this story came out, but I suffered an enforced hiatus from posting. However, whilst Mr. Platt’s story is no longer current, the issue which it refers to is still relevant. Thus, I have decided it’s still very much worth posting.

© 2017-2018 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-39504338