Nicola Vincent-Abnett

Nicola Vincent-Abnett
Out of Tune book 2 edited by Jonathan Maberry, Lara Croft and the Blade of Gwynnever, and Crises and Conflicts edited by Ian Whates

Saturday, 2 July 2016

Public Humiliation

I’ve been writing a lot of political blogs recently… No surprise there, I guess. I am going to try to mix it up a bit from time to time; I don’t want to become boring… That won’t stop me having a good snark, though.

I’ve got a FaceBook page; I’ve had it for several years. FaceBook’s fine; plenty of us have it.

I do have certain preferences when it comes to this particular brand of social media, though. My page is open to all, completely public, no secrets. I occasionally post a status update, and I advertise this blog on that page. So far, so ordinary.

I do not post negative comments or private information on my FaceBook page; the first would just make me look like a whiner, and the second isn’t appropriate. I don’t intimately know many, probably most, of the people who have friended me over the years. If I want to talk about something privately, I do it in private. If I want to whine or moan about something, I do it to the husband and one or two other people who are close to me.

I perfectly understand why people share the details of their lives through social media, but it’s just not my thing.

I rarely, almost never, plant posts on other people’s FaceBook pages, unless it is the husband’s or the dort’s. I’m not very keen on people posting to my FaceBook page, as their opinions and mine might not necessarily line up. My FaceBook page is a representation of me, not them, and shouldn’t reflect anyone’s thoughts, but mine. However, if someone does post something, I generally leave it where it is.

I have no problem with other people tagging me into a post, and I certainly have no problems collecting likes and comments or liking and commenting on others’ pages. You might want to read my blog post about ‘digging it’.

My newsfeed doesn’t tend to be terribly interesting. There is rarely anything on it that is very out of the ordinary. There is a lot of stuff on it that is more-or-less meaningless to me, trite or banal.

This is not an indictment. People can post whatever they please on their own FaceBook pages; I can always scroll past anything on my newsfeed that doesn’t take my fancy. All those pictures with adages attached are a case in point. I also tend to hit the ‘don’t show me button’ on anything that’s just horrible. Yes, I know that my vegetarian and vegan friends are fighting a worthy cause when they attack animal cruelty, but I’m aware and responsible on this subject, and I really don't want to see pictures of actual animal cruelty. If they’re intended to upset, they’re working.

Lately, I’ve seen rather a lot of videos on my FaceBook newsfeed, short clips, generally of people making fools of themselves, or of each other.

I don’t find this stuff funny, although I know a lot of people do. They can watch them, if they like.

But, over the past few weeks, I have begun to notice a trend in these embarrassment videos. In particular, I regularly see videos posted by Brad Holmes and shared… mostly by men.

I don’t like the videos, or others like them, so when I’d had my fill of them appearing on my feed, I strolled over to Brad Holmes’s FaceBook page and had a look at some of them.

The format is generally consistent. Brad is off camera, presumably filming, and he asks his on-camera girlfriend a question or begins a conversation with her. The intention of these films is to set the girlfriend up as an idiot, and Brad clearly takes great pleasure in this, mocking her and laughing openly when she says something that might be considered naive or foolish.

Whether these videos are set up, or whether the girlfriend’s responses are entirely natural doesn’t matter. The films are misogynistic. They beg a number of questions:

Why is Brad dating the girlfriend if she’s so uncommonly stupid?
If it’s because she’s also beautiful that only goes to show how shallow he must be.

Why is Brad sharing his girlfriend’s foolishness with the World?

If it’s because she’s foolish, then he’s clearly a nasty piece of work. No decent person exploits the naively foolish. Shouldn’t we nurture people we care about, love them and even teach them? Mockery is cheap.

If Brad is so contemptuous of his girlfriend that he’s eager to expose her weaknesses, what kind of a man is he? And what kind of a relationship do these two have?

Oh yes, I forgot, he’s a man whose only criterion for choosing a mate seems to be that she is beautiful.

Contempt is never a good basis for a relationship. When it creeps in, the relationship is lost.

Presumably the on-camera girlfriend is a consenting participant in these videos.

That rather depends on how you view consent. Most people would require good reasons or considerable persuasion to make a fool of themselves in public and to be mocked for it by their loved one. So, what are Brad’s excuses for posting these videos? How does he convince the girlfriend that it’s a good idea?

Because it’s funny?

Well, as far as I’m concerned the videos aren’t funny; they’re painful and misogynistic.

Because it’s work?

Do something a bit more worthwhile with your life, Brad.

Because they’re popular?

Yes, popular among other nasty, misogynistic men. All the time Brad’s FaceBook page has large numbers of followers and all the time his videos receive tens of thousands of likes, Brad’s ego is being massaged and his nasty little practices are being justified.

Because he tells the girlfriend he loves her anyway?

How many nasty, abusive men have told their partners they love them after abusing them mentally, physically or psychologically.

That’s right… All of them.
I couldn't stand the idea of advertising Brad Holmes
by using his picture here...
Instead, this is me and the dort, two tough, independent,
feminist women.

The worst of all this isn’t that Brad makes the videos or that the girlfriend allows it. The worst of all this is the popularity of the finished product.

As of right now, Brad Holmes’s FaceBook page has almost 1.2 million followers, and his girlfriend videos regularly rack up around 100,000 likes each.

Brad Holmes has pranked his girlfriend into believing he’s going to propose, he’s shaved off her eyebrow while she was sleeping, he’s pretended he’s leaving her for someone else, and he’s rubbed chilli into her tampons.

Brad Holmes isn’t funny, he’s abusive… And there are plenty of men who find this funny. Some have even jumped on the bandwagon and begun to share their girlfriends’ less sparkling moments with the World.

Brad Holmes and men like him are one of the reasons I’m a feminist. In our house, there’s a word we use to describe men like this. 

It’s not a good out-loud word.

Friday, 1 July 2016

The EU Referendum part v: The Conservative Leadership Challenge

With the full line-up for the Conservative leadership challenge announced, you knew I was going to have something to say about it, didn’t you?
More thoughts, still from one woman
photo by James K Barnett

To begin with, it would appear that the Conservatives are going with the Leave vote, at least the Leavers seem to have more confidence than the Remainers when it comes to standing for leadership of the Conservative party, and, by extension, for Prime Minister.

I’m not going to discuss the issue that in a Democratic country we’re going to end up with a PM that a relatively small minority of people voted into office.

Teresa May is the only one of the five candidates who campaigned in the Remain camp. Theoretically, she has a strong following, but with four Leave campaigners running against her, this could be an interesting contest.

The five contenders are:
Teresa May
Michael Gove
Liam Fox
Andrea Leadsom
and Stephen Crabb.

First, I’d like to say that it’s gratifying to have two women on this list. Women should make up a bigger percentage of parliament than they have in the past, and this could be a move in that direction, regardless of whether I personally agree with their political affiliations. There are currently 191 women MPs of the 650 who sit in the House of Commons, a little more than 1 in 4. 

Labour does rather better than the Conservatives when it comes to gender. There are 99 women MPs on the Labour benches and 130 men. On the Conservative side, there are 68 women and 263 men.

Around forty percent of Labour MPs are women, the same ratio as the conservative leadership competition. Only twenty percent of Conservative MPs are women.

These numbers are interesting for several reasons. They show distinct differences in the two parties. As a ratio, there are twice as many women Labour MPs as there are women Conservative MPs. I don’t know why this is, but I’m prepared to raise some questions.

Do women lean more to the left? Are they more likely to be liberal and or socialist than are men?
Is the Labour party, by its nature more inclusive at the upper levels?
If so, is the Conservative party more male centric at the upper levels?
Do Conservative ideals and policies tend to discriminate against women?

Back to the Leadership contest. I’ll say again, four of the five candidates were Leave campaigners. This might suggest that the Conservative party is leaning to the right.

The histories of the candidates are very interesting.

Michael Gove was Oxford educated and a journalist before standing as an MP. He stood next to Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage as a vociferous Leave campaigner. But here’s the contradiction: Michael Gove was raised in Scotland by Socialists… Yes, you read that right. He also began his education at a state school before winning a scholarship to Robert Gordon’s College. I suspect he’s been trying to play with the big boys ever since.

Gove is possibly the highest profile politician of the five with the general public, but he might also be the least popular. This is the man that teachers despise because of his time at the Education office; and doctors and nurses aren’t far behind, given his support of privatising the NHS. He’s also in favour of capital punishment, and was implicated in the expenses scandal.

Gove does have a reasonable record on domestic issues. He opposed the 2006 act to introduce identity cards and called Section 28 a nonsense. This appears to be more because he isn’t interested in this kind of politics than because he is invested in the issues.

And, of course, Gove was a journalist, married to a journalist, which might be how he came to run in the leadership contest at all. Gove’s wife, Sarah Vine leaked an e-mail concerning Boris Johnson’s incompetence, and the rest is history.

Gove is a Christian, a faith he shares with Stephen Crabb.

I wrote about Crabb a couple of days ago, but I’ll copy and paste that information here to complete the line-up

Stephen Crabb was born in Scotland and was raised by his mother, on benefits, living in a council house in Wales. He went to Bristol University as an undergraduate and got his degree before student loans were imposed in 1998. His entire young life was funded by the tax payer. Crabb’s estranged father drew the invalidity benefit for the longterm sick, going back to as early as 1972. For all sensible purposes he was on disability benefits.

I wonder what Crabb’s life would be like had he been born in 2003 and not 1973. He doesn’t seem to question that.

Stephen Crabb’s voting record makes for interesting reading. In March of this year, Crabb voted in favour of cutting disability benefits… Yes, you read that right.

At the Welsh office, Crabb brokered a deal with the treasury to compensate Welsh industries for rising energy costs.

Crabb is a Christian, and he’s married to a French woman. I guess if things get really bad, at least his kids are entitled to dual nationality.

I have no problems with Crabb’s religious beliefs. I do have a problem with his association with Christian Action Research and Education, a Christian, right-wing lobbying group. This group lobbied in support of Section 28, prohibiting sex education, in particular teaching about homosexuality. Some of CARE’s pregnancy centres have also come under scrutiny for misinformation concerning abortion. The organisation has a record of being anti-abortion, anti-LGBTQ and anti-prostitution. Crabb’s association with CARE goes back to his internship with the organisation during the 1990s.

Liam Fox… What hasn’t been said about Liam Fox?

Liam Fox screwed more money out of expenses than any other member of the shadow cabinet. He had to pay the money back. He also had to resign as Secretary of State for Defence after a scandal involving a lobbyist, access to the MOD and official foreign visits. Fox voted against gay marriage and is anti-abortion; he is also in favour of abolishing ring-fenced funding for the NHS. Liam Fox believes strongly in the special relationship between the UK and the USA, so, presumably, he’ll be more than happy to snuggle up to Trump if and when the time comes.

Enough said.

Andrea Leadsom was a banker… You really couldn’t make this stuff up. 

Leadsom will (legally) avoid her children paying inheritance tax, and uses off-shore banking arrangements, despite George Osborne suggesting that might not be a good idea… Because she’s clever that way. She also uses the Virgin Islands for some of her financial dealings, presumably because it’s a tax haven. And why should she pay tax like the rest of us? Well, obviously she shouldn’t, because she understands and can exploit the loopholes in the system. Not for nothing, she had a job at the Treasury.

As for her voting record, Leadsom abstained from the vote on gay marriage, and opposes wind farms and European renewable energy targets, despite serving as the Minister of State for Energy at the Department of Energy and Climate Change.

And so we come to Theresa May (sometimes Teresa… Who knows?).

Theresa May has worked with four different leaders of the Conservative Party. Under Cameron, she was Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities.

May was Oxford educated, after attending mostly state schools, with a spell at a Catholic independent school. She is the daughter of a clergyman. And, like Leadsom, May had a career in banking and the financial sector before becoming an MP in 1997, after two failed attempts.

Theresa May is the only one of the five leadership candidates to have campaigned for Remain in the EU Referendum, and the only one of the five to support equal marriage rights. She is a Christian and a regular church-goer.

May is, of course, by no means infallible, but she might be the least of all evils.

This is going to be an interesting contest. With Boris Johnson out of the mix, it might be even tougher to call than it was with him in it.

We speculated today that Gove is standing in Johnson’s place to ensure that Theresa May is elected.

But, I wonder what the mood of the Conservative Party actually is. They must be pretty confused. Do they lead? Or do they follow? Do they listen to whatever consciences they might still have? Or do they follow the lead of public opinion? And, if so, is public opinion readable or reliable?

On the issue of leaving the EU, I suspect that public opinion is neither readable nor reliable.

We have been living with centrist politics for a while now, probably since the Blairites came to power, and certainly with the rise to power of Nick Clegg (well, almost rise). The EU Referendum is nothing if not polarising.

Of course 52% of the population are not racist… Perish the thought. However, racists might now be tempted to believe that 52% of the population agrees with their political views. If the Conservatives elect anyone but Theresa May as leader, this could push them to the right.

Here’s the problem though. If we accept that racists are in the minority, and if we accept that the Welsh and Cornish tend to be big Labour supporters, moving to the right won’t do the Conservatives any favours in the long run.

We have no way to know what machinations are going on behind the scenes among the Conservative power players. If they expect Theresa May to win, then has she been set up as a seat-warmer to gauge public opinion? And if that’s the case, and it’s shown that the UK isn’t, in fact, in favour of leaving the EU, how long will it be before Boris Johnson is disavowing Brexit in order to make another bid for the leadership.

I don’t know. Much of this is way beyond my capacity to comprehend.

David Cameron opened a can, and there are worms everywhere.

There are a couple of very interesting scenarios to think about, though. If Theresa May becomes PM and Hillary Clinton wins the Presidential election in the USA, the three most powerful political posts in the World will all be held by women. I'm including Angela Merkel as the third. This could make for interesting times.

If Michael Gove becomes Prime Minister and Scotland decides, by referendum, to leave the UK, then our Scottish born PM will be an immigrant worker... I wonder how the 52% will like them apples.

I am European.

Thursday, 30 June 2016

An Adventure in Bread Baking

Getting off the EU Referendum topic for today. I'm sure you're all a little tired of my thought-wonderings on that subject.

If we need anything, we need bread. It’s been around for thousands of years, and all cultures bake some kind of bread. I’ve never met a bread I didn’t like.

I’ve been making bread, on and off, for all of my adult life. Every so often I lapse, and I buy bread, good bread. It’s never quite the same as baking my own though.

Cheap bread is dull, depressing and not nearly nutritious enough.

I like to watch documentaries, so I watched Cooked recently, on Netflix. I can highly recommend it, and it’s what got me serious about my own bread baking again.

I’ve always used commercial yeast to bake my own bread, but this program gave me an epiphany, and I decided that I was going to grow my own yeast in the form of a sourdough starter or barm.

There are a lot of starter recipes out there, and some of them are quite complicated to make, and to keep alive. Spurred on by my epiphany, I decided to go for the very simplest starter recipe. It consists of equal parts, by weight, of flour and water. 

The resulting starter works, and it’s resilient.

Using the same basic principles, I began to make bread from the simplest recipe I could find. There are three basic ingredients: my starter, flour and water. The only other things that go into the bread are a little salt and sugar.

Try reading the ingredients in a bought loaf of bread; there could be as many as three dozen of them.

I didn’t expect much from my first loaf of bread. I was new at this kind of bread baking, and so much can go wrong.

Nothing much went wrong.

The most important thing was that the flavour was great, from loaf one. OK, so my first loaves were a little dense, but the crust was there and I hadn’t tasted a better loaf of bread in a while, including my own homemade loaves.

I was a convert.

Of course, I had to work on the texture.

I tend to the methodical, so, to begin with, I followed the same simple bread recipe and began to alter only proofing times. The texture of my loaves improved a little, depending on proofing times, but the results weren’t consistent. It would appear that atmospherics, including heat and dampness (yes, my bread did less well in wet weather) were having an effect. 

I optimised proofing as much as I could, and then moved on to kneading techniques. I’m a kneader, I have the strength and the patience for kneading. I like it; it’s a soothing activity. Kneading more didn’t have the desired effect. Putting the dough hook on the mixer and kneading mechanically didn’t improve results either.

I had read a little about bread baking by this point, so I changed tack. I started to leave the dough alone, resting and stretching it. It went against the grain to begin with, I’d been kneading, and kneading well, for years, with good results on the breads I’d made with commercial yeasts. I persisted with the resting and stretching method, unconvinced.

The texture of my loaves began to improve.

I thought I’d optimised my proofing times and conditions, but, having made the dough late in the day one day, I was left with no option but to refrigerate the dough overnight to bake it in the morning.

This accident, and I do love a happy accident, was a turning point. Finally, the texture of my loaves was getting closer to what I wanted it to be.
After the accident,
but before I adjusted baking temps and times

But, one final adjustment was still open to me. With the kneading and proofing pretty well sorted out, I could still choose how exactly to bake my bread.

As I may have mentioned, I’d done some reading on the subject of baking bread from starters, and cooking times and temperatures varied wildly, depending on who was writing about bread.

Initially, I followed the consensus, and baked my bread fairly hot and fairly fast. The texture wasn't bad, the crust was nice, and, most importantly the flavour was very good. My loaves were a little darker than I wanted them to be to look as appetising as possible, though. So, I played with oven temperatures and baking times, and began splitting the bake. Hot and fast to begin with and then cooler and longer for the remainder of the bake.

I made my starter three or four months ago, and it’s still going strong… There’s nothing quite like the smell of a good bread starter. I started making bread with my starter when it was about ten days old, and I’ve been making it regularly ever since.

I haven’t made a loaf that didn’t taste good or couldn’t be eaten for any reason.

In the past week, I’ve begun to make bread that I’m happy with on all fronts. Although, I do plan to keep working on it until it's as good as it could possibly be.

It’s a wonderful thing to do. Everyone should be able to proudly proclaim I made that once in a while. We all eat bread, we all have access to flour and water, and, with a little patience, baking bread is a very straightforward process.

100g organic bread flour - I’ve got two starters underway, one made with white flour and one made with rye flour. Both are good.
100g distilled, luke warm water - I pour off excess water from the kettle and allow it to cool. It’s perfectly possible to use ordinary tap water, but I intend to keep my starters indefinitely and don’t want fluoride, chlorine and other added chemicals in my mix.

Mix the ingredients in a jar and leave on the kitchen counter, loosely covered. Then, keep an eye on the starter. In anything from two hours to two days, the yeast will grow in the mixture, releasing bubbles and swelling the mixture.

Add more flour and water every day or every other day for at least five days (or ten days). You might find you have an excess of starter. Divide it and dispose of half of it, or pass it on to another baker, and keep feeding with flour and water. After a week or so, the starter should be ready to bake with. This makes quite a thin mixture, like a batter, and it smells lovely; it’s a kind of beery smell. I refrigerate my starter on days when I’m not baking, and feed it on days when I am.

500g organic bread flour. I use white or a mixture with wholemeal, rye or spelt.
300g my starter
250g water
2 tsps salt
2 stsps sugar

Put all of the ingredients in a glass bowl and mix well until the dough forms a ball. I do this with a large, silicon spatular. Cover with a damp cloth and leave for half an hour. Mix the dough every half hour, using the spatula to stretch and fold the dough.

This doesn’t appear to be critical. Sometimes, by necessity, the dough sits for an hour before I manage to get back to it. Repeat this process up to half a dozen times. Then, divide the dough and form into loaves. I use bread baskets lined with cotton and floured to proof my loaves, but you could simply leave the dough in bowls. The bottom of the loaf should be facing up.

Refrigerate overnight.

In the morning, take out of the fridge and bring back to room temperature for two or three hours (less in hot weather).

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees C and leave your baking sheet or baking stone in the oven to come up to temperature. Turn the loaves onto the baking sheet/stone and slash the tops of the loaves. Place a bain marie in the bottom of the oven. 

Cook for 20 mins. Turn the oven down to 180 degrees C and cook for a further 40 minutes.

I’m going to experiment more with this style of bread baking, but this is what works for me, right now, as a beginner.

Have a go. I can’t believe I’ll ever fall out of love with this process.

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

The EU Referendum part iv: Leadership Challenges

Jeremy Corbyn has decided not to resign.

Well… Good for him.

Jeremy Corbyn is a Socialist and the labour party faithful knew it when they elected him leader ten months ago.

At the last general election, a great many New Labour Blairites were standing for the Labour party. Many were elected.

It’s a contradiction, of course, and one that clearly needs to be addressed. 

In the wake of the no-confidence vote, and the debacle with Hillary Benn that ended in his resignation, the shadow cabinet fell apart. I guess that was no surprise, either, and I guess it was no surprise to Jeremy Corbyn.

Corbyn stood tall and shuffled his cabinet to include the most diverse mix ever seen in a cabinet, shadow or otherwise. The cabinet is more socialist than it was, and, by extension, closer to what the labour party faithful might want and expect… Let’s not forget they voted for a socialist leader only very recently.

A great many pundits are suggesting that Jeremy Corbyn has come out of the EU Referendum looking bad. I’m tempted to think the opposite.

We are all in a state of dudgeon over the lies that were told to us by Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage ahead of the referendum. Does anyone remember what Corbyn said and did?

I remember.

Corbyn has always had doubts about the EU, but they’re based on his Socialist ideals, and they have been consistent.

Corbyn decided not to stand next to David Cameron during the Remain campaign. He has never agreed with the Prime Minister on any of the leading issues. The two have very little in common. Why would we expect Jeremy Corbyn to stand beside the Conservative PM in front of the public and his labour party faithful on this issue? Why would we expect Jeremy Corbyn to stand next to Cameron in order to make a man he fundamentally disagrees with look good. I wouldn’t do it, and I think it only suggests that Corbyn is a man of principle… That he is, for want of a better word, honest.

New Labour was, for all intents and purposes based around capitalist, neoliberal ideals. Thatcher even claimed that Blair and New Labour were her greatest legacies. Corbyn has always bucked that trend and he bucks it still. I admire the man’s consistency over what has been a long career in politics, and which has included grassroots movements that have not always been popular.

To thine own self be true is not a bad adage for anyone to live by. In the UK, in the twenty-first century it seems that very few politicians live up to this ideal; I suspect Jeremy Corbyn might be one of them.

Nevertheless, it looks as if Jeremy Corbyn will face a leadership challenge.

The Conservatives are also in disarray. Appeasing the Eurosceptics might have got Cameron elected leader in the first instance, but it seems to have played out badly for him, and for the party in the long run.

Boris Johnson, Teresa May, Stephen Crabb, Nicky Morgan and possibly one or two others will throw their hats into the leadership election ring. Teresa May is the strongest of the Remain candidates, but Nicky Morgan campaigned most fiercely to stay in Europe. Boris Johnson was the poster boy for Brexit, but Stephen Crabb was also a Leaver.

Talking of Stephen Crabb, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions… It’s worth taking a look at his history, personal and political.

Stephen Crabb was born in Scotland and was raised by his mother, on benefits, living in a council house in Wales. He went to Bristol University as an undergraduate and got his degree before student loans were imposed in 1998. His entire young life was funded by the tax payer. Crabb’s estranged father drew the invalidity benefit for the longterm sick, going back to as early as 1972. For all sensible purposes he was on disability benefits.

I have no problem with that. I want to look after those least able to take care of themselves, whether that’s short term or indefinitely.

I wonder what Crabb’s life would be like had he been born in 2003 and not 1973. He doesn’t seem to question that.

Stephen Crabb’s voting record makes for interesting reading. In March of this year, Crabb voted in favour of cutting disability benefits… Yes, you read that right.

At the Welsh office, Crabb brokered a deal with the treasury to compensate Welsh industries for rising energy costs.

Crabb is a Christian, and he’s married to a French woman. I guess if things get really bad, at least his kids are entitled to dual nationality.

I have no problems with Crabb’s religious beliefs. I do have a problem with his association with Christian Action Research and Education, a Christian, right-wing lobbying group. This group lobbied in support of Section 28, prohibiting sex education, in particular teaching about homosexuality. Some of CARE’s pregnancy centres have also come under scrutiny for misinformation concerning abortion. The organisation has a record of being anti-abortion, anti-LGBTQ and anti-prostitution. Crabb’s association with CARE goes back to his internship with the organisation during the 1990s.

Crabb is a mass of contradictions, but he continues to hold considerable power in the Conservative party and in government. He could be our next Prime Minister. Perish the thought.

The most likely candidates in a Labour Party leadership election are Angela Eagle and Tom Watson, and, of course, Corbyn himself.

Angela Eagle is Oxford educated with a degree in Politics, Philosophy and Education, and she’s be in parliament since 1992. She worked with both Brown and, significantly, Blair. Eagle and Corbyn are fairly distant political cousins. Eagle has toed the party line for the most part, but she voted with the Government on the issues of Syrian Airstrikes in 2015, clearly in opposition to Corbyn and her party. Eagle was however, a campaigner in the Remain camp.

Tom Watson was also in favour of remaining in Europe, saying, "I believe the UK should stay in the EU because our continued membership is vital for exports, jobs and the future of the manufacturing industry in our region.” He’s also in favour of an immigration fund to support those communities with the highest numbers of immigrants.

Only three Labour members campaigned to leave the EU, they included Kate Hoey, born and raised in Northern Ireland, and a stalwart of the Blair administration; Graham Stringer, elected to his safe seat in 1997, and the first MP to call for Gordon Brown’s resignation; and Kelvin Hopkins, who has worked his entire career with the trade unions. Hopkins was one of thirty-six MPs to nominate Corbyn to the leadership, but he is widely known as a rebel within the party. Kate Hoey and Graham Stringer have one other thing in common; they were among only ten Labour MPs to vote for the Raab Amendment, the inclusion of a clause in the immigration bill to allow for immigrants to be deported if they are sentenced to a year in prison for any crime.

It is unlikely that any of the three Eurosceptics on the Labour benches will contest the leadership.

The Conservatives in the House of Commons seem pretty well divided down the middle on the subject of the EU Referendum, while the Labour Party has only three outliers in favour of leaving the EU. That suggests to me that the Conservative Party is significantly more divided than is the Labour Party. And let’s not forget that one of the most vociferous supporters of Brexit is Nigel Farage of the United Kingdom Independence party. Of course, he has made his living in Europe as an MEP for the south-east since 1999. When his job no longer exists, (and I wonder why he wanted the job in the first place. Could it be because he didn’t win any of the five UK elections he fought to be an MP?), I imagine that Farage will return to the Conservative Party, which he left in 1992. As a young conservative, Farage was a follower of Enoch Powell. And if you haven’t read the Rivers of Blood speech, you really should; it’s a great eye-opener on this issue.
Thinking the thoughts of just one woman
Photo by James K Barnett

So… I’ve been rambling on for several hundred words, and I see that I’ve failed to make a coherent point… Perhaps that’s understandable, though. The political situation we’ve been forced into is complicated, to some incomprehensible. It’s tough to draw conclusions, but perhaps one way to do that, is to do some research, to learn who we’re dealing with and why.

I look for constancy, consistency and honesty in a leader, and to broadly agree with their philosophies. Take some time to have a look around at the kinds of people we are electing to power, and you might find yourself thinking again.

I am European.