A reminder of why the European Union exists…

The house that Edek built – and the secret suitcase kept inside

Edek was a Jewish Pole who survived World War II, in a remarkable journey made by many Poles of his generation – those who survived Stalin and Hitler and made it out of Poland, never to return. This was the Polish diaspora, though I have to admit that many Poles of the day, and even this day, shared antisemitism with the Nazis. I don’t forgive or forget that.

Hilltop in Italy, 1944

Edek ended up in Britain, through Iraq and Italy in that war, and built a new life here as an immigrant, as did my parents, his contemporaries, though they didn’t draw or paint as well. Check out the BBC link for more examples of his art found in that suitcase. Astounding.

And yet Tory Brexiteers hold immigrants up as examples of why Britain needs to leave Europe – they just aren’t British enough. Immigrants have made Britain what it is today, Tories notwithstanding. Doesn’t matter whether they come from Poland, some other European country, or countries in Asia and Africa. Doesn’t matter if they are refugees.

They have made Britain what is is and should all be welcome here, because if Britain doesn’t stand as a beacon of hope, what’s the point?

Edward Herzbaum/Hartry's wartime identity documents

What I find additionally poignant is that Edek felt it necessary, when naturalised as a British citizen, to change his name from Herzbaum to Hartry, concealing his Jewish ancestry. The article above doesn’t expand on why he felt he needed to do that, but I think we can reasonably surmise he didn’t feel safe in Britain with a Jewish monicker. Not much has changed there.

And May makes another compromise… weaker and wobblier?

Brexit deadline: Theresa May to avoid another embarrassing defeat with last-gasp compromise over departure date

The planned date and time – 11pm on 29 March 2019 – would still be on the face of the Bill, as the Prime Minister pledged in a blaze of publicity last month.

However, MPs would be given the “power to amend the definition of ‘exit day’” at a later date, providing the potential for the UK to ask the EU to extend the Article 50 negotiations if necessary.

There is a certain satisfaction to be derived in seeing a government humbled by the House of Commons. Usually the whip is in the government’s hands, but unusually brave Tory MPs turned it around.

Roy Moore won’t concede…

Donald Trump says Roy Moore should concede, three days after he lost in Alabama

President Donald Trump has called on Roy Moore to admit defeat and concede after voters in Alabama chose to elect Democrat Doug Jones to the United States Senate on Tuesday.

Mr Moore has thus far refused to concede, instead indicating that he is waiting for direction from God.

Odd… I thought these Republican fascists believed Trump was god?

Well, if he’s waiting for god, I guess we’ll never get to hear a concession speech from one of the nastiest living examples of the human species.

As for Trump, he’s not much better, but I will say one thing for him, he hasn’t an ideological bone in his body. He doesn’t believe anything the Republicans or evangelical Christians believe in. The only thing he believes in in his own fortune and well-being – his reputation having been destroyed beyond all repair –  and will do and say anything true or false to improve that. The only thing one needs to ask when Trump announces a policy or opinion, is, what’s in it for Trump? Is it going to hurt him or help him.

Tory rebels say why they reject May’s attempt to steamroller Parliament

Tory rebels explain why they defied the Government: ‘We had to make clear [that] hard Brexiteers are not running the country’

“I find it very odd that people are extrapolating so much out of it.”

As it stood before last night, Ms May had promised Parliament a say of sorts over the final deal she agrees in Brussels.

But it would have been a “take it or leave it” vote, with ministers retaining so-called “Henry VIII” powers to enact any deal without first gaining Parliament’s permission – something set out in Clause 9 of the EU (Withdrawal) Bill.

Now, Parliament’s decision to adopt the rebel amendment seven to the bill means the terms of any Brexit deal must first be approved with a full Act of Parliament – effectively allowing MPs to rewrite parts of the deal before any of it is implemented by Ms May.

This is basically a call for May to respect the involvement of Parliament in British politics. After all, if the Tory junta wants to reserve Henry VIII powers to itself, why do we bother electing a parliament at all? Why not just declare Oor Theresa dictatatrix for life? Maybe she could ask Vladimir Putin for pointers.

And for those who say Parliament is not normally required to approve treaties negotiated by the British government, I’d reply that this is a very special case, precisely because of the massive rewriting of British law that it involves, and the government’s attempt to exclude Parliament from the process of modifying British law. Brexit is an unprecedented situation, and should not be left to Tory ministers I wouldn’t trust to run a piss-up in a brewery.

May bites the dust

Brexit: Theresa May defeated in critical vote on key EU withdrawal law

The Government has been defeated by Conservative rebels and Labour MPs in a critical vote on its key piece of Brexit legislation.

MPs amended her EU Withdrawal Bill against Theresa May‘s will, so guaranteeing Parliament a “meaningful” vote on any Brexit deal she agrees with Brussels.

Ms May’s whips applied heavy pressure on Conservative rebels who remained defiant in the Commons throughout the day and in the end the Government was defeated by 309 votes to 305, a margin of  just four votes.

Justice Minister Dominic Raab also sought to pick rebels off with concessions he offered from the Commons floor, but not enough backed down for Ms May to avoid her first defeat over the legislation.

The setback is a major blow to Ms May’ political authority, underlining how fragile her parliamentary majority is and also signalling that those who disagree with her Brexit plans are ready cross a line in opposing their own leader.

Parliament doesn’t trust May. Well, why would they? She’s incompetent, therefore not trustworthy. I don’t trust May, Davis, Johnson, Gove, or any of the other Tory twits further than I can throw them. In Boris’s case, not far at all.

May needs to learn that it is not she who governs as a dictator. It’s Parliament acting for a democracy. She’s a very slow learner, another reason she shouldn’t be prime minister.

Jeremy Corbyn is loving it!

From The Independent live blog:

Jeremy Corbyn says the vote means parliament is taking back control: “This defeat is a humiliating loss of authority for the government on the eve of the European Council meeting.

“Labour has made the case since the referendum for a meaningful vote in Parliament on the terms of Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union.

“Theresa May has resisted democratic accountability. Her refusal to listen means she will now have to accept Parliament taking back control.”

I must admit I take Corbyn with a pinch of salt. I agree with some criticisms of capitalism he makes, some of his political proposals for a Labour government such as re-nationalisation of key parts of Britain’s infrastructure. But there is still the whiff of Communism in him, and we know that failed.

Labour policy on Brexit is a huge unknown territory. He has as many splits in his own party as the evil Tories.

However, when he accuses May of resisting democratic oversight of her government, he’s nailed it accurately. She is totally incompetent, and her only success has been in uniting views on left and right about her incompetence.

Oh dear, Nigel Farage is upset by the Commons vote

The Independent live blog reports him tweeting:

My contempt for career politicians knows no bounds.

Well, considering he’s an MEP and a career politician, I can see his point. He is contemptible.

But tonight’s heroes are the handful of Tory MPs with some backbone to stand against an intransigent government determined to compel Brexit at any price, and contemptuous of the final authority of Parliament.

The incompetent May has been brought to heel. Democracy breathes again.

Whoa! There are civilised Republican voters in Alabama? Who knew?

Roy Moore’s defeat is the biggest sign of hope for Americans wanting to stop Trump

Alabamans very narrowly voted to elect Roy Moore’s Democrat opponent Doug Jones in an unexpected upset. There’s been no indication up till now that right-wing Christian evangelicals are particularly turned off by substantial accusations of sexual predation – they still massively support Trump despite the evidence of many women against him. But not enough to elect Moore, despite The Donald’s belated support.

Given that many Christian evangelicals, perhaps even most, are the sworn enemies of almost everything good and decent, this is a surprising result.

Donald took it in the teeth, claimed he didn’t think Moore would win – and maybe support from The Donald was also a factor in this remarkable vote in the most conservative state in the Union – but it’s made governance much more difficult for him. And rightly so.