SCOTCH NUMPTY PARTY  XMAS NOVELTIES 2016

Single Party State Monopoly

A boardgame  for four or more players.

The object of the game is to capture all the MSP seats.

Weighted dice ensure SNP always win

 

Wee Pretendy Parliament   Kit

When assembled  looks to the casual glance  like a  real parliament  with powers to tax  and spend

WARNING Complaints that the tax functions do not work are being investigated

 

Independence Challenge!

Virtual reality site in which players attempt to be build an  independent Scotland

Fiendishly difficult but great  for lovers of fantasy

 

Brexit Cube

Intriguing puzzle which requires the player to remain part of the EU whilst staying in the UK after Brexit

See how quickly you can make it fit together

 

Nicola Sturgeon Doll

Whines incessantly when activated

Has a store of  hilarious Catch Phrases such as

“Scotland pays its way”; “Scotland would be richer after independence” and “Scotland wants to become independent by being a member of the  EU”

Uncannily lifelike

Powered by four AA batteries.

 

Guess the oil tax revenue sweepstake

Players  write down  what they think will be the oil  tax revenue will be in  twelve months’   time

Hours of innocent  fun

WARNING SNP supporters with bad hearts are advised not to play

 

Model  Hospital

Comes complete with plastic figures representing patients, doctors and nurses

WARNING: Due to problems with the finance  and the suppliers there are very few doctors and nurses  but huge numbers of  patients

Just like the real thing

 

Make your own school exam Grade inflation kit

Too  few children  are passing exams?  No problem. Our grade inflation kit will soon put that right..

Just drop the pass mark and  hey presto!  the problem vanishes

 

National Police Jigsaw

The jigsaw contains pieces which represent  all the police forces in Scotland that existed until recently. When completed the jigsaw design shows just one national force.

WARNING: ensure the jigsaw is kept in a safe place when finished or it will fall  apart.

 

Independence Referendum Roundabout

Toy roundabout with  a selection of  figures representing  the various parties in Scotland

Once set in motion it continues indefinitely

Made of the finest plastic

 

Saltire T-Shirts

Show  where your heart lies with a T-Shirt emblazoned at front and back with the Saltire

Made in all sizes

Buy one for the bairns

Become one of Nicola’s Blue and White Shirts

 

STOCK CLEARANCE

North Sea Oil Money Tree

A popular game with Independence supporters  for many years  but now rather old hat.

 

Alex Salmond  Jock-in-a Box

A one-time Xmas favourite  which has fallen out of favour.

Still amuses small children as he pops up with his catchphrase whine

 

HURRY HURRY HURRY WHILE THE SCOTCH NUMPTY PARTY LASTS

 

 

 

 

Posted in Devolution, Nationhood | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Killing two political birds with one stone

Resolving the UK’s unfinished devolution and the Irish border  questions

Robert Henderson

Brexit provides a wonderful opportunity to  deal simultaneously with  two major political difficulties.  These  are  the  unbalanced devolution arrangements  in the UK and   what is to be done  about the

Relationship   between  the Republic of Ireland (RoI)  and the UK after Brexit.  Both  problems  could be solved by the RoI leaving the EU at the same time as the  UK and forming a federation with the UK.

The unfinished business of  UK  devolution

Three of the four home countries – Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland  – have  each been granted elected assemblies or parliaments . From these are formed devolved governments which administer increasingly significant powers such as the control of policing, education and the NHS.  The  personnel of the devolved governments and assemblies/parliaments  have by their words and actions made it clear that  do not think of the national interest of the UK but  of what is best for  their  particular home country.

The fourth home country England has neither an assembly nor a government and consequently no body of politicians to speak for England and to look after her interests.   A procedure to have only  MPs sitting for  English seats  voting on English only legislation  (English votes for English laws or EVEL for short)  began a trial in 2015,  but  it  has few teeth because  it is difficult to disentangle what is English only  legislation, not least  because  MPs  for seats outside of England argue  that any Bill dealing solely with English matters has financial implications for the rest of the UK and , consequently, is not an England only Bill. Nor does EVEL allow English MPs to initiate English only legislation. Most importantly  England , unlike Scotland,  Wales and Northern Ireland, is left without any national political representatives   to concentrate on purely English domestic matters.

  The House of Lords review of its first year  in operation makes EVEL’s  limitations clear:

The EVEL procedures introduced by the Government address, to some extent, the West Lothian Question. They provide a double-veto, meaning that legislation or provisions in bills affecting only England (or in some cases, England and Wales, or England and Wales and Northern Ireland), can only be passed by the House of Commons with the support of both a majority of MPs overall, and of MPs from the nations directly affected by the legislation.

Yet English MPs’ ability to enact and amend legislation does not mirror their capacity, under EVEL, to resist legislative changes. The capacity of English MPs to pursue a distinct legislative agenda for England in respect of matters that are devolved elsewhere does not equate to the broader capacity of devolved legislatures to pursue a distinct agenda on matters that are devolved to them

Not content with denying England a parliament and government of her own the UK government  has made strenuous efforts to Balkanise England by forcing elected mayors on cities and  the devolution of considerable  powers  to local authority areas built around cities  with Manchester in the vanguard of this development.   The ostensible  idea of this Balkanisation is to pretend that an English parliament and government is not necessary because devolution is being delivered on a regional basis to England: its covert intention is to ensure that  England cannot act as a political entity in its own right and have its representatives  asking  awkward questions such as why are Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland  receiving so much more  per capita from the  Treasury each year than England receives.( The latest figures are: Scotland £10,536 per person,  Northern Ireland, £10,983  per person,  Wales £9,996  per person, England  £8,816 per person).

To balance the devolution settlement in the UK England needs a parliament and a government, not just to give her parity  with the other home countries, but to prevent the Balkanisation of England.  This could be done simply and without great expense by  returning   the Westminster Parliament to what it was originally, the English Parliament.   It could also function as the federal Parliament when that was required  to convene .  Hence, no new  parliament building would be required. Members of the Federal Parliament would be the elected representatives of the devolved assemblies of the four Home Countries and what is now the RoI.

The Republic of Ireland

Should the RoI decide to remain as a member of the EU she risks a hard border this  would  potentially mean an end to the free movement between the UK and the RoI and   the RoI having to deal with EU imposed tariffs on imports from the UK and UK reciprocal tariffs on goods exported by the RoI to the UK. It is important to understand that a “hard” border would  not just be that between the RoI and Northern Ireland,  but between the RoI and the whole of the UK.

The land border between the RoI and Northern Ireland   creates  two potential  dangers for the UK.   It could operate as a back door for illegal  immigrants to enter  the UK  and promote  the smuggling of goods.   At present the  UK government is attempting to foist onto the British public a nonsense which says that there  will be no need of a  “hard” border between  the RoI and Northern Ireland to prevent illegal immigration. Two lines of argument are employed to justify this.  First, that   it can be controlled by greater technological surveillance and   stricter  checks on employers, foreign benefit claimants  and landlords. Second, it is claimed that  the  fact that the UK is no longer an EU member   will mean  that the UK will be much less attractive to  people in the EU as a place to migrate to because they will not be able to get jobs or benefits.

This shows either a shocking  naivety or cynicism of a high order. The idea that people would not be able to gain employment simply because they are EU citizens ignores the fact that many illegal migrants from outside the European Economic Area  (EEA)  already do this.   Moreover, even  immigrants here legally have an incentive to work in the black market  because they  can avoid tax.

As for not paying benefits, how  would the authorities distinguish between the millions from the EU already in the UK who are almost certain to have the right to remain, and any new EU migrants?  It would be nigh on impossible.  It is remarkably easy to get a National Insurance number issued  in the UK and even if employers had stricter duties placed upon them not to employ EU citizens without a work permit or visa, there are plenty of employers who would be willing to employ those they knew were illegal because they are cheaper and more easily controlled and sacked  than British workers or theillegal  employer (this is a common thing with gangmasters)  is an immigrant  and makes a point of only employing  other immigrants from his or her  own country.  Once employed and with a National Insurance number they could claim in work benefits readily enough and probably out of work benefits too  because there is not the massive resources of manpower which would be  required to do the necessary checks on whether they  were eligible.

Whatever is said now there could not  in practice  be an open border  with the UK.   Even if  in the immediate  post-Brexit  period there  continued the present agreement between the UK and the RoI of free movement,  and this is what Theresa May is proposing, huge numbers of immigrants to the UK coming via the the RoI would create uproar amongst a British public who felt cheated that a hard border between the RoI and Northern Ireland would have to be created.

But even without the migrant question the idea that no “hard” border will be necessary  could be sunk if the EU or the UK imposes tariffs or quotas  on goods.  The ex-EU Commissioner Peter Sutherland has  pointed this out forcefully:

“We have been told by a number of Conservative Party spokespeople that Britain will leave the common customs area of the EU.

“If this is true, the customs union, which relates to sharing a common external tariff of the EU, will have to be maintained by all other EU countries with the UK following its withdrawal. Goods will have to be checked at borders.”

While the RoI Foreign Secretary Charlie Flanagan has said a hard Brexit would be unworkable for Ireland.

The RoI would  have the worry that if they remained in the EU they could find themselves suddenly saddled with tariffs. If a genuine Brexit is achieved by the UK then it is possible that either the EU will place tariffs or quotas on UK goods  and the UK responds in kind or that this will happen because no agreement can be reached and the UK leaves the EU and trades under WTO rules.  This would be more than an inconvenience for the RoI because she has  very substantial economic ties to the  UK.

All these difficulties with devolution and the RoI border  would dissolve  with the creation of  a truly federal state comprised of  England,  Scotland, Wales Northern Ireland and what is now  the RoI. Such a federation would need to have  full home rule. The issues which would be left to the federal level would be important but few:  defence, foreign affairs,  control of coastal waters, customs, management of the currency  and  immigration.  This would not mean  that the policy areas reserved to the constituent countries’ parliaments  would not be brought to the federal level  without   the agreement of  the constituent countries. Large infrastructure projects such as roads and railways  covering two or more devolved jurisdictions would be a good example of the type of issue  which might be dealt with at the federal level.

Such a federation would have a good start for  England, Scotland,  Wales are all undisputed territories with no border disputes or awkward enclaves stuck in the middle of another  nation’s  territory.  The Irish  situation is more complicated,  but if the entirety of Ireland was in the new federation that would probably take much of the sting  which is left out of  the sectarian divide .  Moreover, the RoI  and Northern Ireland would still each have a separate identity and a devolved  political  class and institutions directly responsible to their respective populations.  One of the reasons for the great stability  of Great Britain (that is, England, Scotland and Wales) over the  centuries is the fact that each nation had its own territory.  That would continue under the federation I propose.

Why would the RoI join such a federation?

Why would the RoI wish to give up her independence?   They reality is that while she is part of the EU the RoI is not independent. To begin withshe  has no control of her currency  because the RoI  is part of the Eurozone. To that can be added the huge amount of control through EU regulations and directives., interferences  with national sovereignty  which a small state such as the RoI has little influence over because of the EU’s  qualified majority voting. Moreover,    the way the EU is going member states are likely to have less and less national autonomy as the federalist project proceeds.   (An alternative plausible and damaging scenario is that the EU collapses  within the next ten years , most probably through the other states wanting to follow the UK’s example and leave the EU or simply because the Euro crashes.  This would leave the RoI on her own.  )

For a long time the RoI benefitted greatly from being a net beneficiary  with more money coming to the RoI than the RoI sent to Brussels.  That is changing rapidly.  The  net payment the ROI receives from the EU no  longer huge in relation to the size of her economy  (GDP  €214.623 billion in 2015). The ROI’s  financial delings  with the EU in 2015 were:

Total EU spending in Ireland: € 2.009 billion

Total EU spending as % of Irish gross national income (GNI): 1.10 %

Total Irish contribution to the EU budget: € 1.558 billion

Irish contribution to the EU budget as % of its GNI: 0.86 %

It is probable that within the next few years the RoI will become a regular net contributor to the EU budget.

As for RoI  exports , those to  the EU have   declined by over the past year while  RoI exports to countries outside the EU grew.

Set against a  background of declining monetary benefit, weakening exports to the EU  and  increasing uncertainty  as to where the EU is going the  considerable advantages  the RoI would gain in addition to  removing the problems  a  border  between the RoI and Northern Ireland  create  begin to look decidedly attractive.

The RoI would be part of a political unit which was a significant military power,  was a permanent member of the UN Security Council and held high positions in powerful international bodies such as the IMF and the World Bank.

The fact that the RoI is part of the Eurozone  need not be a great  problem,   because  the RoI  could immediately switch to the Pound Sterling as their currency.  This would  entail  far less upheaval than the RoI would experience if they remained in the EU and had to either leave the Euro of their own accord because it was too damaging or simply  find themselves without a currency because the Euro had collapsed.

Nonetheless I can see what an emotional wrench such a course would be  for any country which thinks of itself as a sovereign state.  That this is largely a sham whilst the RoI is within the EU  (the same applies to the UK until Brexit is achieved) is neither here nor there  if people think of a country as sovereign. Moreover, Ireland as a whole has a long and fraught history with the British mainland. Nonetheless , the RoI would have full control of her domestic matters and would actually have more control in many areas because there is so much that the EU now controls which would be left to each part of the federation.

There is also the greater question of what  the world will  be like in ten or twenty years.  Western Europe including the British Isles has enjoyed a remarkably long period of peace. That may  well not last. The threat may not come from European powers but new superpowers such as China and India.   This is not fanciful. There are approximately 7 billion people in the world at present  of whom at a most generous estimate only one billion live in the West.  It is overly sanguine to imagine that  such huge blocks of humanity  living outside the West will remain  forever without expansionist tendencies, tendencies  which could extend to Europe or even North America.  China in particular is engaged in quasi-empire building throughout the developing world.  In addition, there are strong signs that the world is casting globalisation aside with protectionist sympathies growing.   That makes the RoI’s substantial trade with the UK potentially even more important than it is now for we are likely to enter a world in which countries look to their own advantage. . Finally, there is the still largely ignored by politicians threat  of catastrophic unemployment which is almost certain to come in the next decade or two  from  the huge advances in robotics and Artificial Intelligence which will allow most existing jobs and,  most importantly,  most  new jobs which arise, to be done without human involvement .

In such an uncertain  world being part of a serious military, diplomatic and economic power could be much to the RoI’s  4.5 million population’s  advantage

Posted in Devolution, Immigration, Nationhood, World influence | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

The attempted  murder of Brexit

Robert Henderson

The remainers  are intent on murdering Brexit through the political equivalent of death by a thousand cuts.  Delay is their great   ally  and  there are plenty of individuals – politicians, mediafolk, academics, lobbyists, pressure groups, businessmen and much of the rest of the  amorphous mass of the Great and the Good   – who willing to play the role of Quislings in the service of the EU.

The decision by the High Court that the government cannot activate Article 50 to begin the process of the UK leaving the EU without  first getting Parliament’s approval  is as shameless a pierce of politically motivated judicial activism as you  could find.  It has potentially created  the type of constitutional clash which civil wars are fought over.

The Government has decided to appeal against the judgement. Permission has been given to bypass the Court of appeal  and go straight to the Supreme Court. The case should  be held on 5th December, but the judgement will  probably not be given until the New Year.    The Supreme Court has also given Scotland and Wales the right to intervene at the appeal hearing. This will broaden the matter to include the role,  if any,  of the devolved assemblies.  A case brought in Northern Ireland at their High Court  over Article 50 has already been dismissed as non-justiciable.

Senior English judges pushing their own political  agenda? Consider this. The three judges  involved  were Lord  Thomas of Cwmgiedd ( Lord Chief Justice ), Sir Terence Etherton (Master of the Rolls)  and Lord  Justice Sales .  There is nothing in Etherton’s  past to say what his stance of the EU would be, but the other two definitely have question marks over their impartiality.

Thomas was a founding member of the  European Law Institute, whose mission statement is  the ‘enhancement of European legal integration’ . He has  also served as  President of the European Network of Councils for the Judiciary.  It is reasonable to conclude that he is in favour of the UK’s membership of the EU.

Sales worked  in the chambers  headed  by the  erstwhile Lord Chancellor Lord Irvine of Lairg and is a friend of Tony Blair for whose government  he worked as First Treasury Counsel .  As Blair  and his government were firmly in the EU camp and Blair has recently been vociferous in denouncing the  vote for Brexit it is reasonable to suppose  Sales  sympathies [probably also lay with the remain side.

But even without relying on  pro-EU evidence it is a fair bet that any senior member of the judiciary is likely to be a Europhile and emotionally opposed to Brexit  because they come from a set of  people for whom Europhilia is the norm.  Moreover, is it really possible for anyone to be truly impartial when adjudicating on such a nakedly  political matter?

After the High Court Judgement it was widely thought that the passing of a  Bill permitting the activating of  Article 50 would  be sufficient to meet  the Court’ s judgment that Parliament must agree to the triggering  of Article 50.  That would have been difficult enough bearing in mind the preponderance of remainers in both Houses of Parliament. But the position has become more fraught. Astonishingly, one of the judges scheduled to hear the Supreme Court appeal, Lady Justice Hale, has publicly pronounced that  “Another question is whether it would be enough for a simple act of parliament to authorise the government to give notice, or whether it would have to be a comprehensive replacement of the 1972 act…” If  the Supreme Cou,rt agrees with her the delay could be interminable.  Whether what Hales has said would  technically rule her out from hearing the Supreme Court appeal is not clear because she could argue she is merely putting forward a legal point to be considered, but it is an extraordinary thing for  any judge, let alone one of the most senior in England, to comment on a case which is to come before them.  It certainly adds to the suspicion that the higher judiciary is deliberately trying to block Brexit or at least prepare the ground for remainer politicians to manoeuvre for  conditions which will tie the government’ s hands to be conceded by the government, the majority of whom are also natural remainers.

Not a simple matter of law

The  London High Court judgement stressed that  the decision had  been made  simply as a matter of law and the court took no position on the desirability of otherwise of  the UK leaving the EU. But what did the judgement achieve in practical terms?  It said that  Article 50 could not be activated without Parliament voting on the matter,  possibly by a  motion, but most probably by voting on a Bill.  But if it was simply a matter of voting  on the Article 50 activation what would be the purpose of such a procedure  after  the question of leaving or remaining  had already been decided  by the voters?  It would be an empty act.

The answer  is all too obvious. The judgement meant  it would not simply be a question of Article 50 being given Parliamentary sanction. MPs and the Lords potentially would be able to delay the any Bill for a considerable period of time and  by placing amendments to  the Bill. If it was a motion the Commons could simply vote it down.

The Government  has a  small Commons majority, and could probably count on a handful of MPs from other parties to vote with them on this issue,  but the House has a substantial majority of those who wish the UK to remain in the EU. There are 650 MPs in the House of Commons. Of those probably two thirds, including many Tory MPs,  are remainers. Hence, numerically, in theory it would be very easy to  defeat any Bill the government puts forward to activate Article 50. However, it is dubious whether many remainer MPs would want to be in such naked and  direct conflict with the voters who voted to leave by simply rejecting a Bill or a motion which did nothing more than authorise the activation of Article 50. Instead they will try to engineer a situation whereby  they will authorise the activation of Article 50 but only if  the government accepts that they will  negotiate within limits set by Parliament. The most probable limitation  would be that any agreement with the EU must include the UK’s continuing  membership of the single market. It  is wildly improbable that the EU would agree to that without insisting on free movement of labour,  the UK continuing to pay their annual “fee” and the UK being bound by the regulations which attach themselves to the single market and subject to the European Court of Justice or a  surrogate  such as that which performs the same function for EFTA countries .  In short, this would  require the UK to sign up to all that  voters rejected in the referendum and the country would remain within the EU in all but name.

All of this means that  High Court verdict was not a simple procedural matter but a legal  direction which very obviously  had effects which challenged the  viability of the vote to leave.  The issue  which the High Court should have addressed is  what would Parliament  have to examine before Article 50 was activated?  The question on the ballot paper was this:

‘Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?’

(The question was  suggested by the Electoral Commission (EC)  and accepted by the Government after the EC had judged the government’s question biased in favour of remain. )

What was asked of the voter was beautifully simple:  do you want to remain part of the EU or do you want to leave the EU?.  To leave an organisation means precisely that, you cease to have either the benefits or duties which membership brings.  There is no I’ve left  the club and won’t be paying my subscription any more, but I still expect to be able to come into the members bar and use the squash courts.  Hence, there is no point in Parliament having a vote on Article 50 because the referendum has already decided that the UK will leave.  There is no hard and soft Brexit, just Brexit.

By coming down in favour of Parliament voting on the activation of Article 50 the judges went against both the wishes of the voters and what was necessary.  Whether they did so out of bias is a matter for their consciences, but it is a fact that by acting as they did it opened  a door  for the   remainers to cause delay and confusion in the hope of either getting  something that is called Brexit in name but not in fact  or of the UK eventually remaining in the EU after a second referendum.

The prerogative

The  High Court found that the 1972 European Communities Act meant that the prerogative could not be used to activate Article 50.  But as so often with legal judgements legal minds disagree,. Here is David Feldman is Rouse Ball Professor of English Law, University of Cambridge, giving a contrary opinion to that of the High Court:

The question in Miller was therefore, at root, whether the terms of the European Communities Act 1972 by necessary implication excluded the use of the Royal Prerogative to initiate a process which might, or in the view of the parties would, lead to the removal of EU rights from the domestic legal systems.  The Court thought that the relevant constitutional principles meant that the onus was on the Secretary of State to show statutory authority for initiating the Article 50 process.  I have argued that this was mistaken, and that there is no constitutional or interpretative principle which requires the 1972 Act to be read as excluding this prerogative power.  The implications to be drawn from the Act are, at best, equivocal.  In my submission, the foreign affairs prerogative is not excluded by statute, and requires no special statutory support for its use.  Initially I thought that my view was self-evidently correct.  The judgment of the Divisional Court shows that it is a matter on which informed opinions can differ….

It is also seems that  the government made remarkably  little effort to argue the case against justiciability of the High Court  action  (something which was successfully done in the Northern Irish High Court case)  – the BBC reported that “It was quickly established on both sides that the issue was justiciable”  and failed completely to base their defence of the action on the basis of popular sovereignty.  The government  also shot themselves in the foot by admitting that the activation of Article 50 would result in the loss of  some individual rights.  This moved the  triggering of Article 50 from being a simple procedure to something with the potential to trespass on statutes and hence beyond the power of the prerogative.  The attorney-general Jeremy Wright faced strong criticism from some Tory MPs for what they saw as ineptitude in the presentation of the government’s defence.

The logic of referenda

Whatever the status of the prerogative there is  also the  logical implications

of  holding a referendum .  Parliament voted overwhelmingly for the Act  (316 for  to 53 against ) which authorised a  referendum on EU membership.  There was no question of it only being advisory because  the Act which sanctioned the referendum contained  no such a clause and  politicians during the campaign did not say it was only advisory.

Apart from the fact that there is no mention of it being only advisory in the Act which legalised the referendum , there was plenty of evidence to establish beyond doubt that the  intention of the government was to treat it as a vote binding on the government.  The then  Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond opened  the second reading debate on the Referendum Bill on 9 June 2015 by stating:

“This is a simple, but vital, piece of legislation. It has one clear purpose: to deliver on our promise to give the British people the final say on our EU membership in an in/out referendum by the end of 2017.”

He followed it up with this:

“Few subjects ignite as much passion in the House or indeed in the country as our membership of the European Union. The debate in the run-up to the referendum will be hard fought on both sides of the argument. But whether we favour Britain being in or out, we surely should all be able to agree on the simple principle that the decision about our membership should be taken by the British people, not by Whitehall bureaucrats, certainly not by Brussels Eurocrats; not even by Government Ministers or parliamentarians in this Chamber. The decision must be for the common sense of the British people. That is what we pledged, and that is what we have a mandate to deliver. For too long, the people of Britain have been denied their say. For too long, powers have been handed to Brussels over their heads. For too long, their voice on Europe has not been heard. This Bill puts that right. It delivers the simple in/out referendum that we promised, and I commend it to the House.”

The government reiterated the intention  and status of the referendum when they  sent  a leaflet  to every   household in the United Kingdom

The page entitled  “A once in a generation decision”  ran:

“The referendum on Thursday 23rd June is your chance to decide if we should remain in the European Union.”

 And

“This is your decision.  The Government will implement what you decide.”

All that being so, logically Parliament surrendered its power to make decisions about leaving the EU after the referendum Act was passed.

Finally, the claim that Parliament is at present  sovereign is clearly a nonsense because Parliament will remain subordinate to the EU and UK law subordinate  to that of the EU until the UK has left the EU.  The use of the prerogative is necessary to once again make Parliament sovereign.

The danger of betrayal by the government

An all too  plausible scenario is that there will be months of Parliamentary debate of one sort or another, perhaps taking the country well  into  the New Year with Article 50 still not activated.   At some  point Theresa May  says  well there has to be compromise and  agrees to attach limits to the negotiation her government cam undertake.  These will almost certainly include membership of the single market.

Why is that plausible?  Because May is a remainer  as are most of her cabinet. Three of the four great offices  of state  are filled with remainers – PM (May), Chancellor (Hammond) , Hone Secretary (Rudd) – while the fourth, the Foreign Secretary (Johnson) is a shameless careerist who could turn remainer at the drop of  a hat if he thought that would improve his prospects of becoming PM.   Such an outcome might well suit a majority of the Cabinet.

Already there are  the ominous signs  that despite the vote to leave  attempts  are being made to stitch theUuK back into the EU.   the UK has opted to go back into Europol and Boris Johnson is seeking to  retain the UK as the host for the European Capital of Culture in 2023. The danger is that this type of piecemeal tying of the UK back into the EU may  continue  without adequate protest because the ordinary British voter may understandably not be aware of the significance of  each individual hook which re-attaches the UK to Brussels.

It is true that two of  the three ministers who have  formal responsibility for the detailed  management of Brexit  ,  Liam Fox and  David Davies  ( Boris Johnson is the third)  – do have strong Brexit credentials but they are second rank ministers.  Obvious choices  of  rock-steady Brexiteers to be involved at secretary of state level such as  Bill Cash and  John Redwood  have been left out of the of the  government.

There is also almost blanket support amongst opposition parties for a resistance to leaving the EUI. On the Labour side Corbyn has already announced that a commitment to maintaining the UK’s access to the single market is the price for Labour’s support for the Activation of Article 50. (This after saying on 24 June that it should be triggered immediately)  In addition, a senior  Labour MP  Hilary Benn  (a remainer)  is chairing the Select Committee for Exiting the EU . Although he has said he will  not  try to block  the activation of Article 50,  he will still have a good deal of power to influence matters.

Most of the rest of the Commons is also opposed to leaving the EU. The LibDems  have said their manifesto at the next election  will contain a promise to rejoin the EU if the UK has already left before the election.  The SNP and the Welsh Nationalists are  both intent on either the UK remaining in the EU or having   some form of special arrangement  for Scotland  and Wales to  remain in the EU or some other close relationship

But the Supreme Court case is not the only attempt using the law to delay and confuse the move towards Brexit. The Crown Prosecution Service stands poised to enter the Brexit fray,  viz:.

‘Alison Saunders, the director of public prosecutions, is considering a complaint of “undue influence” on the referendum by the Vote Leave and Leave.EU campaigns.

‘The complaint centres around a claim that £350million per week could be spent on the NHS if Britain left the EU and a leaflet which read “Turkey is joining the EU”, along with assertions that “Britain has no border controls whilst in the EU”.

It is truly extraordinary that those with power within our justice system are so pantingly anxious to get themselves involved.  This complaint was not made by the police as is the  normal way for a prosecution to be laid before the CPS  but directly to Steadman who made the decision to consider the complaint on her own authority.

There are the irritatingly predictable suggestions from the media that “Theresa May will call a general election”. This is no longer in her power. The Fixed Term Parliaments Act schedules the next election for 2020.  Unless May would be willing to make something a vote of no confidence in her government and contrive to lose the vote, an earlier election would  requires two thirds of the House of Commons to vote for it.  That is 417 members out of 650.  The Government would need all its MPs plus another 90 or so from other parties to vote for a dissolution of Parliament, something very unlikely because the Labour Party is in disarray and the SNP would gain nothing by having another election. There would also probably be quite a few Tory MPs who would be reluctant to risk losing their seatsl with only 18 months of the Parliament gone.

What does this solid mass of resentful remainers  mean for UKip and, indeed, every  person who voted to leave on 23rd June?  It means  that the government must be harried all the way till the time until   Brexit in fact as well as name is achieved . It means that opposition parties must be left in no doubt that if they attempt to thwart  Brexit this will have dire electoral consequences for them. It means that every individual MP with a  constituency which voted to leave should tremble in their boots  at the  thought that if they  attempt to delay the activation of Article 50 their constituents will eject them at the next General Election.

 

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EU Referendum – England voted 53.37% to leave

England voted 53.37% to leave and 46.63% to remain

How do is the figure derived?

 

Total vote 33,551,983

Comprised of

Leave:     17,410,742 (51.9%)

Remain:  16,141,241 (48.1%)

 

Scot Leave:              1,018,322

NI    Leave:                 349,442

Wales Leave:              854,572

Celts Leave  Total    2,222,336

 

Scot Remain:               1,661,191

NI  Remain                     440,707

Wales Remain:              772,347

Celts  Remain Total    2,874,145

 

Subtract the Celts totals for Leave and  Remain  from the overall Leave and Remain votes, viz:

England Leave:    17,410,742 – 2,222,336 = 15,188,406 = 87.23% of the leave vote

England Remain: 16,141,241 –  2,874,145 =13,267,096 =  82.19% of the remain vote

Total England vote 28,455,502

 

Finally calculate the percentage of the   total Leave and Remain figures the English vote constitutes.

This is  gives  53.37% to Leave and 46.63% to  Remain

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Brexit: The threat from  the Remainers…and how to refute and defeat them

Robert Henderson

The anti-democratic behaviour of the remainers over the EU referendum vote  is not a surprise but the brazenness and crudity of their attempts  is still shocking  and deeply  worrying  because  a majority of those with power and public influence   in the UK – politicians, academics, mediafolk or the hodge podge of those working for think tanks and charities – are remainers at heart.   That applies to the people at the very head of the government for  none of the holders of the four great offices of state  is a sincere Brexiteer.  We have a  PM (Theresa May) , Chancellor (Philip Hammond)  and Home Secretary(Amber Rudd) who are by temperament,  conviction and public statement  Europhiles and a foreign Secretary (Boris Johnson)  who is a slippery careerist liable to change his position back to remainer anytime he thinks it will benefit him.  In addition,  Theresa May is the worst sort of remainer, namely, a cowardly one, whose taste for duplicity was shown during the Referendum  campaign when she  wanted to have her  political cake and eat it by saying she was for remaining in the EU whilst doing precious little campaigning for a remain vote.

It is true that  May has appointed two ministers( David Davies and Liam Fox )who are solid supporters of Brexit to oversee the day-to-day progress of Brexit,  but they   could well turn out to be window dressing to enable May to allay the  suspicions  of those who want Brexit that she is working towards arranging a deal with the EU for the UK  to remain stitched into the fabric of the EU. Once  Article 50 is triggered May could decide to dump them or adopt such a seriously  obstructive stance  to prompt them to resign.  Once Article 50  goes live that  gives her two years breathing space to subvert the aims of Brexit and provides ample opportunity to claim that concessions  on things such as  free movement  or paying a fee for access to the single market will have to be made.   We already have hints of this in the priming of the media  with stories about how all existing EU immigrants to the UK  – all 3,.6 million of them – will be allowed to stay.

UKip’s immediate purpose

The potential grip the remainers have on the Brexit process means that is essential  for  May and Co  to be  kept under the tightest scrutiny until the  UK is out of  the EU .  That is Ukip’s  immediate purpose.  To this end everything possible should be done to try to  persuade Nigel Farage to stay on until Brexit is secured.

The Government must be pressed whenever it fails to commit itself to these lines in the sand:  no   free movement  or any other restriction by the EU on the UK’s ability to control her borders;    an end to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice over the UK;  no payment by the UK of money to the EU  for any reason and an end to the European Arrest Warrant . In addition, whenever, politicians, especially those on the government side,  try to water down the idea of Brexit through vague and ambiguous wording,  this should be made a matter of public comment and record.   Those who seek to subvert  the will of the British people should be forced to  live in a mental world in which they know that any attempt to deliver less than the Brexit promised by the referendum question will be exposed for what it is, profoundly anti-democratic behaviour which  not so long ago would have been called treason.

Lines in the sand

The idea that lines in the sand make for a weak bargaining position does not stand up. Giving away your hand before negotiating is only weakness if  one side of a negotiation gives up important ground before negotiations begin.  David Cameron did that with his “negotiation” with the EU  before the referendum.  Cameron  not only failed to have any lines in the sand he signalled his weakness by not asking for a radical deal on free movement. The lines in the sand listed above are signs of strength which say this is what we cannot concede. Such a stance would either drive the rest of the EU to decide that the best thing would be to get the UK out of the EU as quickly as possible  by rapidly  agreeing to a reasonable  deal  or prompt  the rest of the EU hierarchy  to show their true colours of being  utterly hostile to the UK . This should force the UK government to see the only way forward is to simply leave and trade under WTO rules as John Redwood amongst others has advocated.

Within  the general  scrutiny there is the  task of rigorously  rebutting the  particular claims of the remainers as to why the referendum should not be accepted.  This can be readily done by sticking to the facts and following the logic of what a referendum implies for Parliament.   Let me demonstrate.

The lie at the heart of the remainers argument

Contrary to what the  remainers are now  claiming voters knew precisely what they were voting for. The clue is in the ballot paper question (which was put forward by the Electoral Commission) :

“Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?”

The ballot question  did not ask should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or seek  another status such as that of Norway or Switzerland.  It did not say that there should be another referendum on whatever terms are agreed.  There is no equivocation whatsoever; the choice  was  out or in.   If the UK had  left the EU the day  after the vote and  traded under WTO rules or even simply  declared UDI either behaviour would have been in accord with the referendum question.

In addition, the European Union Referendum Act makes no provision for a second  referendum on the terms of withdrawal.  There is good reason for this, the question on the ballot paper was crystal clear: leave means leave.

The electors did not understand

The idea that those who voted to leave were largely   ignorant and poorly educated white working class  people who did not  know any better is absurd.   I can vouch from my own experience of talking to many people from a workingclass background that they had absolutely no difficulty in understanding what the vote was about, namely, regaining sovereignty, being masters in our own house, controlling our own affairs, saying who should be allowed to come into this country – these are ideas which are, for the politically correct, all too well understood by electors in general.

But  let us for the sake of argument allow that it was  the  less educated  who disproportionately voted for   Leave.  Would that have been a bad thing?  In 1984 Orwell put these words into the head of Winston Smith: “If there is hope it lies with the proles.” The reason for that was the proles had not been seriously infected by the doctrines of  IngSoc, the only political party in Britain in 1984. So it is with the  Britain today. The white working class  has  not been seriously infected with the totalitarian  creed that is political correctness.  They have a deep well of unforced unselfconscious patriotism and readily understand that mass immigration is invasion and  membership of any international political  body results in the theft of sovereignty which allows  a quisling political class to deform democracy.  In reality they were  the type of people most suited to vote leave for they were the people who experienced most directly the effects of mass immigration from  Europe, the lowered wages, the creation of a cruel housing shortage, the transformation of the areas in which they lived  caused by large immigrant inflows..

The claim that the referendum vote was narrowly won  

The overall vote on a 73% turnout  was Remain 16,141,241 Leave: 17,410,742. That gave a leave  majority of  1,269,501. In percentage terms 51.90 voted to Leave and 48.1 to stay. England voted by nearly 54% to leave.  It was a decisive if not utterly overwhelming victory.  Had such a result been for remaining you may be sure  the remainers would be calling it a comprehensive result.  Indeed,  had there been a very narrow vote to  remain can anyone doubt from their behaviour since the result  that the remainers would be saying “one vote more is enough? “

On the legal front it should be noted that there is  no stipulation in the  European Union Referendum Act that either  a certain  percentage of all qualified electors or a certain percentage of those voting  must vote to  leave to activate a  Brexit .

The referendum was only advisory

Perhaps the most popular fraudulent claim by remainers  is that the referendum was only  advisory. Nothing in the European Union  Referendum Act states that it is simply advisory. The only arguments  which could be put forward to support the  claim  are (1)  to claim that the absence of a clause placing Parliament under an obligation to act on the result should be taken to mean that it was only advisory or (2) that  Parliament is the final font of authority in the UK and, consequently, any referendum is automatically only advisory unless it is made clear in an Act of Parliament authorising a referendum that Parliament  and the government must act on the result of the referendum. The word Jesuitical comes to mind.

These arguments if taken seriously  would mean that anything which is not specifically  sanctioned or banned in the European Union Referendum Act  can be read into the Act.  This goes against English law in  which things that are not specifically banned or made compulsory are taken to be legal.   In European systems of law what one may legally do has to be stated. It is the difference between negative and positive  law. As the European Union Referendum Act  is English law the absence of a clause stating the referendum was merely advisory  means it is  binding on Parliament  and the government.

It is also true that during the referendum campaign  none of the official  leave and remain campaign groups made any play with the idea that the referendum was only advisory.

The claim that the prerogative should  not be used to trigger Article 50 or sanction  the terms of leaving  the EU

The referendum was a manifesto commitment of the Conservatives in the general election of 2015. Parliament voted for the  European Union  Referendum Act  in 2015 by 316 for and 53 against.

Once the holding of a referendum has been agreed by Parliament  the rules of the game change for Parliament.  Unless provision is made in the Act authorising a referendum for it to be only advisory or  a clause inserted stating that Parliament shall vote on what action should be taken after the outcome of the referendum,   MPs and Lords cannot claim that it is Parliament’s role to vote on the outcome of the referendum .  The holding of a referendum whose outcome is not   just advisory trumps the authority of Parliament because  if  it did not the reason for the referendum would vanish.

There is also amply  precedent for the use of the prerogative by  UK governments  in connection with treaties relating to what is now the EU. The UK’s admission to what was then the European Economic Community in 1973 was done without a referendum through the use of the prerogative by Edward Heath  and every  treaty emanating from what is now the European Union has also not been presented to Parliament for their approval but given legal status by the use of the prerogative.

The position on who makes the decision on the renegotiation terms is also straightforward: it is a treaty matter  and the negotiation of and acceptance of treaties are a  prerogative power. End of story. Parliament does not have to come into it, although either House could pass motions asking the government to take note of whatever those wanting the new relationship with the EU to be less than Brexit .

The practical consequences of  May’ schedule for leaving the EU

If Theresa May’s schedule for leaving the EU is followed the UK will have had 33 months of remaining in the EU subject to all the rules, regulations and obligations which existed on 23rd  June plus any new EU laws passed between the 23Rd June and March 2019.   During those 33 months the UK will be suffering  this:

  1. Be paying its contributions to the EU in full. The net amount (the sum  the UK does not get back from their gross  contribution)  for 33 months would be around £24 billion.   Moreover, the money that is returned to the UK by  the EU in the 33 months (££12 billion approx.)  has to be spent not as the British government decides but as the EU decrees.
  2. Have to allow citizens of the European Economic Area  to continue to  freely enter and work in the UK.   Half a million or even a million new EU immigrants could plausibly come in before the UK formally leaves because of reports suggesting that an amnesty for all EEA citizens will apply at the point where the UK finally leaves.
  3. Be forced to put any new EU directives into law  unless  it is one of the rare instances where a national veto still applies.

4 Be expected to enforce any existing EU laws including things such as the European Arrest Warrant.

  1. Still be liable to be taken before the European Court of Justice.

5 Be unable to make any bilateral trade treaties  or any other form of  treaty which conflicts with treaties  made by the EU.

  1. Be paying in work and out of work benefits to many EEA citizens in the UK.
  2. Be funding the children of EEA citizens in the UK through the provision of school places and healthcare.
  3. Be accepting citizens from the EEA for free NHS treatment.
  4. Be funding students from the EEA through subsidized fees and  student loans
  5. Be unable to give preference to UK companies when putting public contracts out  to tender.

The great enemy of  a true Brexit is time.

The remainers can, like Mr Micawber,  wait for something to turn up  and unlike Mr Micawber they  have every reason to believe that something might  indeed save them in the two years provided by Article 50; perhaps another  world depression or simply the UK being economically  destabilised by the uncertainty of the long  delay.  That being so, what   we need is an end to equivocation by those controlling the Brexit process and the fastest possible removal of the UK from the EU.

Could a really  quick exit be achieved legally?  That is debatable purely in  terms of international law. It is true that   The Vienna Convention on Treaties  in  Article  62 allows for the voiding of a treaty in a matter of months if there is a “fundamental change of circumstances” but that does not apply where the change of circumstances has been caused by the country wishing to leave.

But in the end leaving the EU is a political not a legal matter because international law is really no law at all for there is no way of enforcing it if  powerful states do not abide by the rules. The EU itself routinely ignores  the terms of its treaties , most notably  those which control the behaviour of  the countries  within the Eurozone. Moreover,  the fact that the EU have provided a mechanism to depart   in Article 50 shows that flawed as that means of leaving  is,  the EU acknowledges that a member state may leave.  The UK is s not the position that the Confederacy found themselves in in mid 19th century USA where there was no legal route out.

The  matter comes down to this,  do you  honestly believe that the EU would wish to be seriously at odds  with a  country with the sixth  largest economy in the world ,  a massive trade deficit with the EU, a country which  is a permanent  member of the UN Security Council and which  holds major positions on most of the important international organisations such as the IMF.    Moreover,  at the purely  practical level the UK is a partner in cross border European enterprises such as Airbus and  the consortium producing the Eurofighter.

All that being so, surely the odds are  that  if the UK plays hardball and  sticks to its Brexit guns the EU will, after a good deal of huffing and puffing,  let the UK  go on reasonable terms.    Truth to tell, the real danger comes from those in Britain in positions of power and influence who covertly or overtly wish to sabotage Brexit.

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The 2016 County Championship goes down to the last day.

Robert Henderson

To Lords for the  fourth day of the Middlesex vs Yorkshire match to decide where the  County Championship went  with both these counties and Somerset all starting day as possible winners.,

The crowd grew throughout the day. The Grandstand, the lower tier of Compton Stand and the unfinished Warner stand were closed,   but the rest for the ground open for spectators.  By the end of the match the crowd must have been at least 10,000 and could well have been a few thousand more because the open stands and the pavilion were all heavily tenanted – Lords has a capacity of 28,000. The most heartening thing about the crowd was the large number of  people under the age of thirty.

Until lunch the game proceeded as a contest with Gubbins and Malan clearing the deficit and giving Middlesex a small lead. Only one wicket fell in the session, although Malan was dropped in the fifties. The first 40 minutes or so after Lunch produced less than 20 runs. All rather mystifying. Had Middlesex pressed the accelerator during that time and continued to press it for another hour or so they would have been able to set Yorkshire a reachable  but demanding total without any connivance between the sides. Instead  there was a  nasty bout of  joke bowling to set a target of 240 in 40 overs. Frankly, this left something of a bad taste in the mouth and Somerset have reason to feel aggrieved.

Notwithstanding the bad taste it left  it was interesting to see how intentional very poor and very slow bowling often produces wickets when a slog is on even where   professional batsmen are involved.  The scoring rate certain accelerated rapidly but three Middlesex wickets of competent batsmen went in a handful of overs.  Nonetheless it was an unedifying spectacle.

240 runs in 40 overs might sound highly gettable these days, but there is a huge difference between chasing such a total in a limited overs format where bowlers can only bowl 8 overs (in a 40 over match) and fielding restrictions exist and chasing 240 at six and over  in a first class match where no such restrictions  exist. Middlesex used just four bowlers – Finn, Murtagh, Roland-Jones and Rayner – an attack which be an improvement on  a number of Tests sides today.  (I have long been an advocate of removing the restriction on the number of overs a bowler can bowl in 50 over cricket because it makes for a much more natural game).

The Middlesex captain Franklin kept a fine balance between attack and containment. He  had two slips for the first 19 overs and kept one slip afterwards until the end of the match. He set a field which was one or two slips, a third man, a deep backward square leg and a ring of fielders in front of the wicket on both sides of the pitch  no more than 35 yards from the bat.  This worked  splendidly because batsmen had to worry about drives edging to the slips and even when they middled  drives they  very often   resulted in a dot ball or at most a single.

David Willey,  promoted to number 3, showed the difference between coming in in an ODI or T20 and smacking bowlers around and batting against a field with close catchers and bowlers allowed to bowl as many overs as they want. He left after 21 balls having scored only 11 despite a good deal very energetic attempted strokeplay.   He simply lacked the technique to force  the game against good bowlers  bowling with close catchers.

The one Yorkshire batsman who managed to come to terms with the demands of the run chase was Tim Bresnan. Wonder of wonders, he still has an absolutely orthodox stance, a great rarity these days when most players have adopted stances which involve one or more of these horrors: squatting, leaning forward, waving the bats around, holding  the bat high in the air and  standing nearly upright.  As a consequence he looked the most complete and secure player of any batsman on either side. Not only did he have an orthodox stance he made the highest Yorkshire score (55) playing entirely orthodox strokes yet had  by far the highest rate of scoring in the innings.

The Middlesex bowlers simply refused to let t Yorkshire get away. Roland-Jones bowled as he always does when I have seen him  (and I have seen him bowl dozens of times) at a lively pace and, most importantly, there were very few balls which the batsmen could leave.  That England have never given him a chance is bewildering.

At the end of the game – which Roland-Jones completed with a hat-trick spread over two overs – I felt that Yorkshire should in fairness to Somerset have tried to shut up shop for a draw when they were seven wickets down needing over sixty off six overs and with no batsman of any stature or indeed real hitting power left. They could have had no rational expectation of reaching the total and wickets 8 and 9 went to wild heaves. The 10th wicket – that of Sidebottom – was simply him being beaten by a ball too good for him.

Despite it being the fourth day the pitch was benign. Had the match been played out normally it would have been a draw. That would have made six draws from the seven CC games Middlesex have played at Lords this year. That is all down to placid pitches. Not good for the game

The County Championship has been a great advert for first class cricket this year and it makes the ECB’s seeming determination to greatly reduce its place in the English cricket calendar all the more infuriating.   No one in a powerful position within the ECB seems to value the Championship for itself.. The day after Middlesex had won the 2016 Championship the ECB’s director of cricket, the ex-England captain Andrew Strauss gave an interview to Radio 5 in which he described the value of County Cricket as being little if any more than a means of producing England cricketers.  This ignores the great history behind county cricket and the fact  that much very attractive and often gripping cricket is being played in the four-day game.  There is good reason to believe that the Championship  could really thrive if an attempt was made to promote it, something which has never been done with any intensity or for most of the time at all.   My detailed ideas for promoting the Championship  can be found here.

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The British success at the Rio Olympics should be no surprise

Robert Henderson

UK’s success in the Rio Olympics  where they came second in the medal table (and second in the Paralympics medal count) has resulted in  a monumental gnashing of teeth by  the politically correct ranging from  squealing expressions of distaste  at the success  – the journalist Simon Jenkins excelled himself  by  accusing  the BBC of bringing “Rio close to a British National party awayday” –  and claims that it was all down to “money doping”, an excuse   the totalitarian state  that is China  clutched at as well.

Clearly money is necessary but it is not a sufficient condition for the level of  success that  UK has enjoyed not only at this Olympics but increasingly since the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta when  UK won  fifteen medals with only one being gold.   The  failure of other large wealthy Western countries such as France and Germany to come near to matching British success in Rio and the London Olympics demonstrates  emphatically that money alone will not provide a really healthy bag of medals.   Moreover, countries such as the rising power of  China and Russia with its hangover from the good old bad old days of Soviet state training, gender manipulation  and drug use take the Olympics very seriously yet  failed to outstrip  UK in Rio.

The “money doping” argument has several other weaknesses. When looking at  either the amount of money spent on financing Olympic  competitors or the size of per capita GDP it should  be borne in mind that money has widely differing  purchasing  values in different countries because of the hugely varying cost of living throughout the world. £10,000 in UK may not go very far but £10,000 in a place such India it will be significant sum. It is also true that quite a few Olympic competitors from  poorer countries including China  train in richer countries, often on sporting scholarships or with sponsorship from their government..

Nor is it true that medals are very easy  to win for  richer countries  because there is limited competition. Plenty  of the richer countries compete  and states  which are relatively  poor such as China provide stiff opposition in many events.   In addition, poor countries can provide serious competition by concentrating  their resources on one or two sports, for example,  Jamaica with sprinting and Kenya with distance running.

Of course the numbers of competitors does vary from sport to sport, but that does not mean the medals are easier to win. I doubt whether   the gold medal winner in the triathlon Alastair Brownlee  had to show any less physical endeavour both before and during the Olympics than, for example, distance runners like Mo Farah.  The fact that 54 countries won a gold medal and 78 countries a medal  of some sort is a solid pointer to competition being generally strong.

The spread of medals over the various Olympic disciples is also a pointer to the general strength of  the sporting prowess of a nation. UK won medals  for  Cycling track, Rowing, Athletics, Gymnastics, Equestrian, Sailing, Swimming, Diving, Triathlon, Taekwondo, Canoe slalom, Canoe sprint, Boxing,  Field hockey, Golf, Tennis, Rugby sevens, Trampoline, Shooting, Judo, Badminton, Cycling road.  Gold medals were won in fifteen different sports. This was a wider spread than any other nation.

There is also the number of competitors each country sent  to put into the mix. The UK took one of the larger contingents (366),  but  the USA had the largest team (550), followed by Brazil (464), Germany (420), Australia (418) China (398) and France (393). All but the USA came below UK in the medals list.

If money is only a necessary but not sufficient condition for Olympic success what  else contributed  to UK rise to second place in the RIO medal table?  Wise use of sports funding raised through the British  national  lottery played its part. This has been spread widely (22 separate Olympic disciplines provided British medals at Rio)  but not indiscriminately, with sports which did not cut the mustard finding their funding cut.   Only the USA with medals in 25 different disciplines exceeded the UK’s 22.

Perhaps a more efficient anti-doping regime has also had an effect because UK has a pretty good record  when it comes to drug use  while Russia were not at full strength because of their  institutionalised drugging of athletes and won a third less medals than they did at London in 2012.   However,  even  if all Russian competitors had been allowed to compete  their  effect would probably not have taken second place  from UK because Russia won only 19 gold medals compared to UK’s 27  (so there was a good deal of ground to make up) and any additional competition from a full strength Russian side would have been as likely to impinge on China as on UK.

The roots of  the UK’s success at the RIO Olympics can be found in England where a sporting culture has long been deeply embedded. The ancient nature of this sporting culture can be seen in the creation of a proto Olympics in England, The  Cotswald Games,  in 1612. Many of the most widely played sports and games have their origins in England –  cricket, association  football ,  rugby union, rugby league,  lawn tennis, table tennis – and in the case of many others  England or UK took a leading role in establishing the rules of a sport and putting it on an international level.

It is not only in participation in sport which shows  the UK’s sporting culture.  Spectators turn out in huge numbers to watch both in the UK  and abroad.  Football attendances in England are huge even for the divisions below the Premiership and the England cricket team  effectively carries its own crowd around to such far flung places as  Australia, the West Indies and the Subcontinent.

The UK’s love of sport is also seen vicariously  in the fact that those countries which have their ultimate origins in the British Isles also score high on the sporting front. The USA, Australia, Canada and New Zealand all came in the first twenty in the Rio medals table.

Why did the UK  struggle for medals before the lottery money come along?  It needs to be remembered that competitors were amateurs  before the late 1980s.   The amateur ideal was immensely strong in UK, especially in England.  Shamateurism  did exist in some sports such as cricket and rugby union, but those running Olympic sports in UK were generally very tough on competitors making any money out of their sport. Much of the rest of the world, especially the Soviet Bloc,  were not so fussy and there were many competitors who were in reality full time sports men and women.  When the amateur status was abolished for the Olympics the playing field became if not level much less tilted against countries such as UK.

Then there are drugs. Of course UK is not without its drugs cheats but overall it is one of the cleanest drug free  countries with as rigorous testing regime as any.  In recent times drug testing has become smarter and  World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has been increasingly effective through the  testing for drugs in  urine samples from years ago.  Rather like DNA samples attached to crimes the retention of urine samples give the possibility  of someone being caught long after the offence was committed. The attitude towards state sponsored drug use also hardened. Wada  recommended a  ban of  all Russian competitors  from the Rio Olympic Games. This was not accepted by the Olympic authorities,  but substantial numbers of Russian competitors were barred. It is a foundation on which the stamping out of illegal drug use in sport can build.

What lottery funding has done is release the untapped sporting potential in  UK.  As the funding will continue and the Rio Olympics have shown that the London Olympics was not just a home Olympics flash in the pan there is very reason to believe that  British success at the Olympics  will continue. Other nations will doubtless attempt to up their game but the British have a precious base in the natural sporting culture of the country.  That is not something which can be manufactured either by the propaganda and directed activity of dictatorships like China or  overt attempts at linking sport to patriotism in states which have some real claim to be democratic and free societies.

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