Transatlantic pre-election news straddle: the government? against whom?


Well, it’s the final stretch now: three days till the election. The long-form analysis pieces are following thick and fast, the tit for tat continues, and most sensible people have stopped even trying to talk about it. I will just refer you to Andrew Sullivan – the erstwhile indefatigable blogger of The Daily Dish – who has surfaced at this crucial juncture with a truly brilliant article.

Meanwhile, Standing Rock, North Dakota is turning into a pivotal place and time in American history, as a fracking company tries to build a pipeline under the Missouri River on land that belongs to the Sioux nation under treaty. The militarised police are arresting, detaining, assigning numbers to, shooting with rubber bullets, beating, strip-searching and otherwise molesting the protesters (or  ‘protectors’: quite right too). The Dakota Access Pipeline is a $378bn to project to move a daily 470,000 barrels  of fracked crude oil across four states. It will go under the Missouri River (and I think at one point the Mississippi?), with a high risk of contaminating the water supply. A water supply that serves 18 million people, as well as the grain belt of America. Read more here.

Hillary Clinton’s statement was anodyne to say the least. Even Obama, who has been called on to intervene by people ranging from Bernie Sanders to Hollywood names to my mother, has done nothing. I’m sure he can’t. his hands are tied. Terrible promises have been made and there is £3.7bn tied up in it ($1 million of which belongs to the other presidential candidate, Trump). Obama’s inaction in itself – because you just know he would love to, you know he knows it is wrong – tells you how the issue is systemic, it is much bigger than any one politician (so do please vote for Hillary if you have a vote).

Standing Rock is the flashpoint. It’s getting a lot of attention on Facebook – because American friends share it and then we over here share it on for non-USA friends – and it’s had coverage in the Guardian,  but I think in the US Edition. But looking for info the other day, I had to look on Facebook, not on the UK media. But it will have repercussions internationally. An intractable conflict with enormous principles at stake.

This is going on in the same month when Elon Musk launched these new solar roof tiles, and a longer lasting battery to store solar power in the home. And Theresa May and her cronies declared Fracking Ahoy! in the UK. We are concentrating on the wrong things. Water really is life; as the sign at Standing Rock says, we really can live without oil – and we can’t live without water. There is plentiful evidence that fracking causes massive, uncontainable problems. What happens at Standing Rock will make a difference to all of us

Meanwhile, friends in America are asking what news we’re getting here… well, you know how I keep saying that the election is an international issue? We have plenty of disastrous stuff going on right here in Great Britain, and it is also internationally important. I wish you’d all take heed, BEFORE Tuesday. The moral is, forget the protest votes. They amount to voting for – and for the worst choice.

After the EU referendum, which Cameron only called because he had been pandering to the far right for votes, and promised them a referendum – and after he resigned and Theresa May took over as the UK’s unelected prime minister – May started saying (as well as ‘fracking ahoy’) ‘Brexit means Brexit’ (whatever that means), and saying it would definitely go ahead, and promising to call a ‘hard Brexit’ in a few months. Unilaterally. Because of 17m votes in a country of 65m people.

Now the High Court of the land has ruled that this is unconstitutional and that any such act – triggering Article 50 – must be debated and voted on in Parliament. By our elected representatives. That the government cannot just do things willy-nilly with no discussion.

But the unelected prime minister is not taking no for an answer, because Brexit means Brexit, dammit. The government is sending lots of hard-man-sounding messages to the President of the EU, Juncker. But Juncker is over the whole thing. There is no respect there at all. The UK government, hard right and losing the respect of its peers, is becoming persona non grata at the kind of talks that actually do decide the fate of the world, and is beginning to show signs of a bunker mentality.

The conservative papers have come out backing the government, in opposition to the court, which has merely used its legal expertise (but ‘experts’, right, who needs those) to examine the legal implications based on laws assed by… oh yes, the government. The Daily Mail has positioned itself along frankly Orwellian lines. The People, the People! Protect yourself from these lawyers. (This is a paper that supported Hitler, incidentally, back before the war.)

So the Prime Minister is now going to appeal the decision in the Supreme Court, on the grounds that she said she would do whatever she chose about Brexit, and so she insists she must. Or, to put it another way, the government is going to take recourse to the rule of law in order to break the rule of law.I’m not sure that’s a precedent we really want to set. Because it was a parliamentary act that stipulated the need for further parliamentary act to invoke Article 50. They must have had a reason for that.

Here is a good roundup of the situation.


Yes, Virginia, we really are all in it together.

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