THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain

Posts categorized "Brexit 2016" Feed

Of Brexit and Divorce

I spent most of my career working in Continental Europe. This is not a "some of my best friends are Jewish" thing (which they are by the way) but most of my best friends are Continental Europeans. As the farcical Brexit "negotiations" continue, my personal Facebook page is therefore full of their whingeing, sniping and moralising about Britain's supposed "rejection" of Europe. Perhaps it's as well I have retired as a lawyer because my advocacy skills and negotiating experience are not good enough to persuade them that is NOT what is happening.

Only this morning, for example, one of my German friends wrote the following

Hmmm, folks when I look back at my divorce, it was not easy and I could not terminate my contract and run away, just to get the state of freedom (I have taken over responsibility during the time of marriage and felt to take care of it). In addition, how to explain such behavior (give notice and wait until the term of notice expired to get freedom and feel not any longer responsible for the everything I did together with my partner in the past) .... maybe somebody of you can help me how to explain this to my kids?

The "divorce" analogy keeps coming up in the Brexit debate but it could not be more false. The British people were persuaded to confirm Britain's entry into the "Common Market" (as the EEC was routinely described at the time) on the basis that it would have economic benefits. It was not a marriage. It was a "trade agreement" (that much misunderstood term which socialists and other statists seem to think means "an agreement authorising trade" whereas in truth – since trade is a basic human activity that needs no permission – means "an agreement to reduce government interference with trade"). The EEC as it was at the time was routinely spoken of as "the Common Market" and it takes very little research to find the press coverage, speeches and pamphlets of that era promising that it was nothing more than that. Here for example is an extract from the official government leaflet distributed before the 1975 referendum;

Remember: All the other countries in the Market [my emphasis] today enjoy, like us, democratically elected Governments answerable to their own Parliaments and their own voters. They do not want to weaken their Parliaments any more than we would."

Fact No. 3. The British Parliament in Westminster retains the final right to repeal the Act which took us into the Market on January 1, 1973. Thus our continued membership will depend on the continuing assent of Parliament.

"Fact No. 3" remains true as a simple matter of British constitutional law. Parliament is sovereign. It can do anything it damn well pleases (alas in many ways, but hurrah in this one). This is why I have said before that our Article 50 notice, observance of the two year exit period and participation in the farcical "negotiation" (which Juncker is trying to turn into a ritual humiliation to deter others thinking of leaving) is pure politeness. I think we should go through these motions because we have an interest in promoting the myth of "International Law." It's a myth very largely of our devising and is a  useful diplomatic construct to avoid conflict in future. However, if I were leading the negotiation on the British side, I would be watching like a hawk for a gaffe by Juncker and his team that would allow me to walk out without further ado. I have enough confidence in the abilities of our Civil Service (if not our politicians) to hope that is what the person actually leading the negotiation is doing. 

To return to my German friend's emotional plea on Facebook, I am astonished that a citizen of the greatest industrial power on Earth; a wealthy nation with a strong economy and vibrant culture would think of his country in such an odd way as to compare it to a spurned wife.  To me it seems frankly degrading but then "victimhood" is now in many ways the highest aspiration of modern Westerners. Perhaps this is Germany's Rachel Dolezal moment in which it sheds its unloved identity as a privileged white nation with a history of racist aggression and joins an "oppressed minority" in favour of which one must now positively discriminate?

If you insist on thinking of it as a marriage, then let's at least perfect the analogy. Britain was a reluctant bride. We didn't find the other member states attractive and were very reluctant to get in bed with them, but we wanted the financial benefits that the relationship promised to bring. Whereas my German friend seems to see the 27 as a spurned family to be supported by the errant, unfaithful husband, we see ourselves as a disappointed gold-digger who has been ****ed long enough by this ugly old brute and wants out.

In this week's Spectator there is a review by William Cook of a book called The Shortest History of Germany by James Hawes, which seems to go some way to explaining why Germans and Brits see Brexit so differently.  I have bought it and will be reading it but here's a passage quoted in the review;

…the solutions nations seek are shaped by past experience, and in this respect Germany and Britain could scarcely be less alike. Germans have been familiar with federal institutions ever since Charlemagne. Germany has only been a nation since 1871 and its experience of nationalism was a disaster. History has taught the British that we’re best off one step removed from Europe, whereas it has taught the Germans that they’re far better off as part of a supranational superstate. Really it’s a wonder that we agree about anything at all…

I have failed so far to persuade my Continental friends but I shall persist in explaining that we have not rejected Europe. We have not fallen out of love. We are not a heartless brute of a faithless husband casting one German wife and 26 children out into the cold to starve. We are their friend and want to remain so. We have done them much good in the past and will do them more. We will buy their Audis and their Camemberts just as we always have and will holiday in France and make pathetic schoolboy attempts at their language for their amusement while they relieve us of our money. Our rejection is not even of the "Common Market" as it was sold to us (though we have to leave it because they have tied it together with the rest of the plan) but of the federal dream (to them) and nightmare (to us) of a United States of Europe.


Of happiness and hope

I am in the middle of what seems to be a month long celebration of my 60th birthday. I am jollier than I would have expected, having eyed this approaching milestone with dread. Of course I SHOULD be jolly. I am a privileged Westerner, living a life he never dreamed with a loving family and affectionate friends. But I have political reasons too.

The fall of the Berlin Wall was the key political event of my life. Like most of us, I had never dared to hope Communism would fail in such a clear and comprehensive fashion. I moved to Eastern Europe in 1992 and, as a specialist lawyer, helped my real estate clients build on its ruins. The transformation we helped the people of the region achieve was spectacular. If we compare living standards in Poland when I moved there in 1992 with today only a fool or knave could deny the powerful virtues of capitalism. The transformation is greater than even an enthusiastic free marketeer like me would have predicted. 

I lived in that optimistic environment for twenty years - never really understanding how naive Fukyama's analysis of "the end of history" had been. Back in the West, however, our Marxist academics regrouped. They began to focus even more on "cultural Marxism"; on fomenting other social conflicts to create a perceived need for a controlling elite at the helm of a powerful state. I firmly believe that such a state has always been their one true goal. It enables them to live high on the hog in the parasitical, hypocritical idleness that Marx himself achieved as he sponged off his naive bourgeois friend Engels, rogered his servant girl and bilked his creditors. All else has always been bullshit.

Screen Shot 2017-03-30 at 08.59.32

I gradually realised that the true outcome of the Cold War might be as this cartoon cleverly presents it. Out of that dark realisation this blog was born. Essentially a solution-oriented, problem-solving, optimistic person, I told myself it was better to light a candle than curse the darkness and spent a serious chunk of my life arguing whenever I could against our fifth columnists in academia. In the last year, the academic Berlin Wall has begun to crumble too. I wish I could claim that we had won the political argument but I think something far more fundamental is going on. There is a shift as profound as when the Labour Party replaced the Liberal Party in mainstream British politics and King Edward VII told his mother that "we are all socialists now". 

I suspect the Left's first real strategic error was its bizarre embrace of Islam. You don't need a degree in politics to notice that Muslims are socially-conservative, anti-feminist to the point of misogyny and - in the cultural Marxist jargon - "homophobic". Leftists in academia, contemptuously ignorant of religion, seemed to view them as just more poor immigrants to vote reliably for the continual expansion of the state. They arrogantly bent their own logic to welcome a clearly anti-progressive force into their ranks. The error might not have been obvious in their ivory towers, but it was pretty clear on the streets of Luton and Bradford. The credibility of leftist academics began to crumble. 

Other errors too numerous to mention followed as the academic bubble drifted further from reality. Most decent, practical people could not be bothered (who has the time if you have actual work to do?) to contest their ideas, but the perception grew that - however many black friends you had - you were going to be called racist. That however much you loved your mum and treated your lady friends with respect, you were sexist. That however little you gave a damn about what your homosexual friends and colleagues got up to in private that you were homophobic. And that pointing out the threat Muslim immigrants presented to Western values made you islamophobic. It became clear that the names you were called were just part of an academic game. They had nothing to do with truth.

As the fifth column's influence intruded even into popular culture, people who lived in the real Coronation Streets and Albert Squares noticed that their on-screen equivalents were becoming preachy purveyors of condescending agitprop. I had long stopped watching the BBC's news and current affairs output because I could not stand the primary school teacher tone it adopted. The same tone was now to be found from Emmerdale to Gallifrey. 

Just when I thought we were all going to drown in cultural Marxist condescension however, the dam broke. Despite being told precisely what to think by an united elite singing the same, well-rehearsed tune and utterly confident of success, the British people found their voice. On the day of the Brexit referendum they raised their traditional battle cry of "bollocks to the lot of you!" Even better than that moment has been the torrent of condescension that has followed, laying bare the contempt in which our would-be masters hold us. Cheated of the cushy "jobs" and lavish funding for policy-based evidence making "research" the EU had provided, they could not conceal their impotent rage. It has been delicious.

As has the aftermath of the election of President Trump in the USA where similar forces are at play. I have concerns about the current POTUS's grasp of economics and wouldn't like him hanging around my daughters (but ditto JFK and Bill Clinton and we all survived them). Trump is no libertarian and is politically as far from me as Clinton. However he seems strong on the defence of the West and - even better - has made noises about defunding academia. If he achieves the latter he may, for all his vulgarity, prove to be the King Jan III Sobieski of our day. 

Even more encouragingly, just as when I was at university in the Seventies, the key voices in public discourse are not now from the Left. Rather they are such delightful people as the dangerous faggot, Milo Yiannopoulos, the factual feminist Christina Hoff Sommers and my current favourite, the softly spoken Canadian Professor Jordan Peterson. The ever more authoritarian attempts to suppress dissent in academia have put feminist icon Germaine Greer on the "no platform" list and made apparent to even a casual observer how dangerously far political correctness has gone and just how sneeringly arrogant and condescendingly  authoritarian its proponents are.

So I am politically happy not because anyone I approve of holds political office anywhere, but because I have hope for the future. The ideologues who failed in their overt parasitism in Eastern Europe and China are failing in their covert version in the West and for the same reason. Their ideas conflict with reality.

The chess game in the cartoon is not over yet. I shall be following the next moves with gleeful anticipation.

Brexit: it's just not about the law

 A lot of time is being wasted on discussion of the decision this week in the Queens Bench division of the High Court. I have reviewed some of my learned friends' arguments as to why the decision was wrong and they may have a point. I remain supremely indifferent. I am not waiting with bated breath for the decision of the Supreme Court and neither should you, dear reader.

Breathe. Relax. All will be well.

Here is the simple political fact of the matter. Whatever his or her personal views, every Conservative Member of Parliament was elected on the following manifesto pledge:

It will be a fundamental principle of a future Conservative Government that membership of the European Union depends on the consent of the British people – and in recent years that consent has worn wafer-thin. That’s why, after the election, we will negotiate a new settlement for Britain in Europe, and then ask the British people whether they want to stay in the EU on this reformed basis or leave. David Cameron has committed that he will only lead a government that offers an in-out referendum. We will hold that in-out referendum before the end of 2017 and respect the outcome.

The resulting Conservative government has honoured that pledge, except for the last three words. Sadly David Cameron failed to honour his own personal pledge to remain in office, serve Article 50 notice the next day and deliver the chosen outcome. The irritation which unites for the first time the British people and the EU leadership is his fault.

Theresa May has a clear mandate and is entitled to call any vote she needs on a three line whip. She has the Parliamentary majority to do it. Most Conservative MPs who supported Remain are indicating that they will honour the People's choice. I believe most Labour MPs whose constituents voted Leave will also. It would be political suicide else.

The Liberal Democrats seem intent upon political suicide. So be it. That Party's continued dishonest existence besmirches the name of liberalism and the memory of the fine men and women who voted for it (as I would have done) when it was a true liberal party.  They have threatened to block Brexit in the House of Lords. Excellent! That will lead inevitably to the demise of that (now it has been messed up by Blair's "reforms") vile and corrupt institution.

When I gave up political blogging, I was on the verge of despair. The hostile-to-economic-reality views of the ruling statist élite seemed to be beyond all challenge. We were locked into an ever tightening treaty relationship with states even more inclined to authoritarianism than our own.  The unbearable arrogance of the European élite was symbolised by the regular sneering use of the word "populism". Brexit gave me back my optimism and my belief in the institution of Parliamentary government in my country. 

I know that not all my fellow citizens are classical liberals. I know that many are wrongly hostile to economic globalisation.  Some sadly are even a little bigoted and reluctant to import the best talent as well as the best goods and services. Saddest of all many of them —  despite all the historical lessons of the last century that was almost entirely given over to worldwide experimenting with its ideas — are still mired in the intellectual bogs of the historical backwaters of socialism.  This, despite clear evidence that humanity has never had a greater enemy than Karl Marx.

Britain will no more be a paradise after Brexit than it ever was before.  But the fellow citizens who disagree with me will be within reach of my arguments. They will share the same language, culture and historical background. Sometimes they will win when they should not and bad things will happen. I will sigh and accept that so long as I have belief that our democracy works and therefore hope that their errors may be peacefully corrected. 

I am a Hayekian liberal and no Tory. I joined the Conservative Party when Margaret Thatcher led it and as a student politician was one of the first people to call himself a Thatcherite. I left that Party the day it betrayed her and have never missed the company of the snobs, fogies, and economic illiterates who make up the bulk of its members. I have now however rejoined it with the specific intention of doing what I can to hold it to its pledges.

I anticipate no difficulty. Theresa May is an unpleasant authoritarian, but she is no fool politically. She will deliver a good, hard Brexit as long as we are all vigilant. Better yet all the anti democratic sneering of the Remainers in the process will laser the political cataracts from the eyes of the essentially sensible British people. They have been led in the dark for too long by the leftist establishment and its toadies in the Guardian and BBC. A new age dawns, if we keep our heads when all around are losing theirs and blaming us.

Bring it on!

Of Judges, Politicians, Crown Prerogative and Article 50

My RSS feed makes interesting — and amusing — reading this morning. Both in the mainstream media and the blogosphere, there are many interesting and strident opinions on yesterday's judgement in the Queens Bench Division of the High Court. Most of them are wrong. 

Britain's Constitution is famously "unwritten"  but can be summarised in three words; Parliament is sovereign.  The reassertion of that Constitution was, for many, what the Leave campaign was about. Many Leavers believed Parliament was not sovereign for so long as the UK remained a member of the EU. I was always relaxed on that point because Parliament could not (without actually dissolving itself and the UK) lose the power to leave. It was certainly wrong to have delegated many of its powers to Brussels via the European treaties but it could rescind that at any time.

When Parliament legislated to grant us a referendum, it began the process of leaving.  The government promised it would act on our decision.  But it was always going to be Parliament that would carry out those actions. I am therefore not shocked by or concerned about the High Court's decision.  That so many journalists and bloggers are concerned rather amuses me.

I wish this was a legal or a constitutional problem to be resolved by the judiciary. I have far more faith in our judges than our politicians. But it isn't. It is, and always was, a political problem.

In this, as in so many other ways the (to be polite) "special" breed of people who are attracted to power over their fellow men have a different point of view (and self interest) to the people they seek to rule. All over the western world this conflict-of-interest is leading to a tension in our democracies.  A tension between the "élite", the demos and "populists" seeking (depending on your point of view) either to bring the élite to heel or to become a new élite. In Britain there has never been any popular support for European political union, only for freer trade. So our tension came to a head over Brexit. In America it's coming to a head over globalism. In France, it's more about a war to defend the magnificent French culture from the perceived threat of immigration. In Hungary and Poland — though they have no immigrants to speak of — it's about culture too.

This does not mean that I am complacent about our political problem. It is very real. Those politicians who would like to keep their season ticket on the EU gravy train will do everything they dare to thwart the people's will.  It is too soon for the Leave campaign to fold its tents and beat its swords into ploughshares.  Yesterday at my hairdressers in Westminster, some Mandarin or other in the neighbouring booth was predicting to his barber that the court's decision would now be turned to political advantage by calling a General Election. That would become the "real referendum" and sanity would be restored.  No-one could then say that the people had been cheated, because nothing is more democratic than a General Election. Right?

The judges were very clear that they were not opining on the question of whether we should leave the EU or not. The judgement was about the precise scope of "Crown prerogative".

"The sole question in this case is whether, as a matter of the constitutional law of the United Kingdom, the Crown — acting through the executive government of the day — is entitled to use its prerogative powers to give notice under Article 50..."

In my view the judgement is correct and changes nothing.  The nonsense being written about "activist judges" and "shyster lawyers" is a waste of bandwidth.  Dangerously, it is also a useful smokescreen for the people that we should fear. The people we must always fear; politicians. Specifically in this case those dodging and diving to find a safe political way to subvert the referendum result. And Teresa May, whose Brexit bona fides are still in doubt and for whom the pointless appeal against this decision provides an illusion that she is valiantly championing the people's will.

Translated into General Election terms, constituency by constituency, the electorates of some two thirds of MPs voted Leave. So for once we can take comfort in the fact that mostly only wicked, self-serving people are attracted to the parasitical life of political power. Few MPs, however much they may regret the loss of lucrative Kinnockish opportunities in Brussels when their political careers end in inevitable failure, have the ethical fortitude to stand by principles when their seat is at stake.

The political battles continue but the war will be won. So please leave the nice judges alone and turn the white heat of your righteous wrath towards the Palace of Westminster again.


Am I alone in seeing in this a golden opportunity for Britain post-Brexit?

Apple faces €1bn bill for Irish tax loophole

Apple has conducted itself in Ireland in full compliance with Irish tax law. The so-called "loophole" (aka lawful structuring) was not something devious used deceptively but was well known to — and accepted by — the Irish tax authorities. The Irish government agrees that Apple has done nothing wrong and is embarrassed at being put into this invidious position.

The EU Commission — probably at the behest of the leaders of core EU "boss states" envious of the high-tech jobs Ireland's well-educated, English-speaking young workers are enjoying. — has argued, and the European Court has now decided, that the arrangements were illegal "state aid" and the Apple should pay up to €13bn in taxes neither it, its legal advisers nor the Irish tax authorities think is due. As an Irish politician has already commented, "they want us to tax Apple here on money made elsewhere".

There is no doubt that Apple, Inc. acted in good faith. Its shareholders (probably including you, gentle reader, if you have a pension plan, life assurance policy or other investment as few portfolios lack some holdings of the world's largest company) have every right to be furious at the EU's attempt to rewrite the laws in retrospect to their detriment.

Theresa May's government should make it clear that it will replicate whatever attractive arrangements Ireland had been offering in return for the relocation of Apple's European operations here. Under longstanding arrangements that predate EU free movement, Apple's existing Irish employees are able to move here without restriction and even vote in our elections. They will be most welcome.

Outside the statist, near fascist mindset of the EU, there is nothing to stop Britain abolishing corporation tax (a pointless tax anyway as the burden of it — as a company is a mere legal fiction — always falls in truth on its employees, shareholders or customers). Then watch all the great companies of Europe as well as the Americas move here to be based in a place with the rule of law, the greatest reservoir of international legal, accountancy and other expertise in the world, no retrospective legislation and with the world's financial centre at hand.

With the extra taxes earned not from stupid corporation tax but from the income tax of the new British companies' employees etc., the government could pay for the infrastructure and educational improvements required to make sure the country and the new corporate arrivals reap the long term benefits of their short term decision.

Revealed: Cameron’s honours for cronies

Revealed: Cameron’s honours for cronies | News | The Times & The Sunday Times.

Remember all those business folk who spoke out so strongly for the "Remain" campaign; predicting economic collapse in the wake of their threatened withdrawal of investment? Remember how they retreated from their threats when the result was for "Leave?"  
I said at the time that the fix was in and that all would be revealed in Cameron's first post-referendum honours list. The list is not yet official because the Civil Service is making ethical objections but the leaked names already tell the shameful story. 
The British people have been called everything but good for their decision in the referendum. We have been accused of ignorance and contempt for our betters; the "experts" who told us so clearly what to think. But we were smarter than our political "masters" thought us to be. We saw through them at last. 
There is no "honour" involved in this Resignation Honours List. It is mainly useful as a list of people never to be trusted. Pity them if you can for they sold their souls for nothing. An over mighty state is a well of corruption because nothing funded by force can be pure. 

Reawakening Europe, but to what?

Reawakening Europe by Joschka Fischer - Project Syndicate.

If you find yourself in a dark and dangerous place and you need to find your way to safety, there is usually more than one route. Once you have set out on one of the possible paths, however, that's easy to forget. History consists of looking back at the one path that was chosen as if that choice had been inevitable.
Yes, the "European Project" was conceived as a way out of the dark historical place in which European fascism had thrived. Other paths could have been chosen. There was more than one way to the sunlit uplands of peace, prosperity and freedom. This is human history we are talking about, not a fantasy novel. Mount Doom is not around the next corner and even if it were – looking at his own dark and violent political history – Fischer is more Gollum than Frodo. If not actually an Orc.
Even if we believe Europe chose the most promising course in the beginning, that's doesn't mean that all its choices since have been correct. Still less that all its future choices must be. It's important not to be blind to the fact that there are other dark, scary places we might stumble into if we always navigate looking over our shoulders. Fischer reminds me of Sir Cloudesley Shovell, the British Admiral who – legend has it – led his fleet onto the rocks after hanging the humble sailor who had dared to warn him of his navigational error.
I tire of the implication that those of us who voted for Brexit are mindless nationalists hostile to European cooperation. We were only hostile to Britain's participation in a particular set of flawed, corrupt institutions. Institutions that have attracted to their service some of the least impressive specimens humanity can muster; people who would need a charisma transplant to rise to the inspirational level of a damp dishcloth. 
The supreme proof of the mediocrity of the apparatus of the Soviet Union was the rise of Stalin. The supreme proof of the mediocrity of the apparatus of the European Union is the rise of Neil Kinnock.
One proof of the European Union's flawed nature is that it engenders no loyalty in anyone but such mediocrities as Kinnock and Juncker. Even the poorest, weakest, least historically and culturally-significant European nation (and we don't have to agree for this purpose which one holds that heavily-contested title) engenders more affection in its people than this sterile, corrupt and self-serving body.
As Joschka Fischer, that living monument to political judgement , himself admits;
the “Remain” side often sounded like accountants. The bloodless bean counters didn’t stand a chance
Surely, if the EU had any moral value, someone somewhere whose personal wealth did not depend upon working for it, would love it? Not favour it like a bloodless bean counter, but actually love it? I spent most of my working life on mainland Europe and never met such a person. Not even amongst the sneering people who deride the democratic choice of the British people and take pride in denying such choice to their own citizens.
The best the "bloodless bean counters" could say was "Yes, we know it's rubbish but let's stay in so we can fix it". Even Mr Fischer, whose blood is febrile enough to have been heated by some of the most contemptible and violent notions in the history of politics, can't manage to speak warmly of the EU he excoriates us for deciding to leave; 
Differences over strategy and tactics between the key members of the currency union, especially Germany and France, and between the eurozone’s northern and southern members, simply run too deep. Everyone is aware of what needs to be done: find a new compromise within the currency union between the stubborn German-led focus on austerity and the Mediterranean countries’ need for increased spending to restore growth and boost competitiveness. But Europe’s political leaders seem to lack the courage to pursue this.
Which is why this article resorts to the old, tired, pathetic smear against its opponents. Support our shambolism or be seen as closet Nazis.
If Brexit and Trump are, as Comrade Fischer alleges, part of a pattern it has far less to do with nationalism and far more to do with their supporters' common aversion to being smeared. If the smug contemptuous elite Fischer represents would like to start winning some political arguments, maybe it should consider listening to, rather than denigrating, the European demos.

A gentle suggestion for Ms Sturgeon

I am all for the Acts of Union as long as they are practised consensually. If Ms Sturgeon really wants Scotland out of the UK but in the EU, we can help. At the time of the Scottish referendum, the EU Commission legal advisers confirmed that, had Scotland left the UK, it would have also left the EU as the UK is the Member State. Just as when the DDR (East Germany) merged with West Germany, it became part of a Member State and therefore the EU. So why don't England, Wales and (if it wishes) Northern Ireland now leave the UK? The Remaining UK (aka Scotland) can then ignore the referendum and continue as a Member State. Job done? You can thank me in whisky ma'am. A lifetime supply of Talisker please.

Reflections on Brexit

The smug élites squirm still but I have no doubt the deed will be done. Their talk of buyer's remorse irritates. It is as untrue as everything else these congenital liars have said in the course of the campaign and has the same taint of condescension. Yet nothing can quash my delight. I have not smiled so much for so long in decades.

Even as I earnestly reassure my confused friends from the other side of the Channel that (a) this doesn't mean we hate them, (b) my fellow-citizens are not the near-Nazis the BBC and Guardian would have them believe and (c) the markets will soon confirm my confidence that Britain will be better off without the strangulation of the burgeoning bureaucratic superstate, my cheesy grin says more than my words.

I am coming to realise that Brexit has a special meaning for me. It's natural for a long term expat to have trouble reassimilating when returning home. In 20 years Britain had changed. I returned to a land far stranger to me than the exotic places I had lived and worked. This was compounded by my moving to London, where I had worked and socialised before but never lived full time. And by my socialising, inevitably, with a particularly prosperous portion of the capital's population. These were the people who had done well in the UK I had lived away from. Whatever it had become was fine and dandy with them.

Much as I have loved studying and practising my photography since I gave up full-time work, the tutors and fellow students incline to an arty-farty, lefty Luvvie-ness that excludes me. At times, I have felt like a member of a defeated tribe living politely amongst his conquerors.

So a very literal alienation then; feeling like an alien in my own nation. An alienation I made worse by giving up my blog and its supportive community of like-minded people. I had begun to hold my tongue in company on the assumption that I was so far away from the zeitgeist, so out of touch with modern Britain, that my views would amuse more than persuade. One friend delighted in assembling Guardianisti around his table and then winding me up to shock them; like some imperialist grandee amusing his guests by seating a savage amongst them.

I could only really be myself with my provincial family and visiting friends from the countries I had worked in. This made me feel older than I am and sadder than my optimistic nature inclines me to be. I had begun to think of myself as heading towards life's exit. I was not taking care of my health or diet because I was not thinking of my future.

The referendum campaign raised hopes that I was not alone. Until the very last moment however I believed Remain would win. Dining out on the night of the poll, I told my companion I was distraught at the prospect of defeat and didn't know how I would cope without the hope the campaign had brought.

And then came the result. It turns out my smug, metropolitan friends are the ones out of touch with the zeitgeist. It turns out the greatest number of voters in British history agreed with me on a key issue. It turns out this country is, after all my doubts, where I belong.

I don't know how the result touched you, gentle reader, but for me it was a welcome home.

Thank you, Nigel Farage

UKIP leader Nigel Farage stands down - BBC News.

The nation owes Nigel Farage a debt. He has endured years of abuse on behalf of the majority of British people who never wanted EU political union. We instinctively favour free trade. We recognise that only governments inhibit it. We tend to favour progress towards it, even if only incremental. That was the basis on which we were persuaded to vote for continued membership in 1975. We were offered a common European economic space without tariff or non-tariff legal barriers to trade and we accepted that offer. 

But the offer was a lie. Our leaders lied to us then and they have been lying ever since. The EU was always intended to progress by "ever closer union" to a federal superstate. Most of our establishment both knew and bought into that. To be more precise they were bought into that as the Brussels machine actively sought to make politicians like Mandelson and Kinnock rich in return for switching their loyalty. Betray your voters to us, ran the promise, lie to them and deny the ultimate goal while we move steadily towards it under cover of your disinformation, and when your political career ends in the usual failure, we will see you right. 

For the last 43 years, if you pointed out these truths, the establishment derided and defamed you. You were called a fascist, a bigot, a racist and a fool. You were "fruit cakes", "Little Englanders" and "bastards". All for saying what the British people felt in what was supposed to be a democratic nation. Farage and his people walked through great storms of establishment shit on our behalf. 

He sacrificed his business career to speak as well as he could for the unrepresented majority. He endured slanders and worse. He has made his mistakes, as an honest man in the sewers of professional politics was bound to do and as he freely admits. But he stood up for what he believed in. Without him and his party of "fruit cakes" the establishment would have denied us our voice forever. 

We owe him thanks. When the new reality is finally accepted (and politicians will soon come to realise that they deny it at their peril) I hope the government will acknowledge that on our behalf with a peerage. There is a village near where I grew up in Wales called Hope. I suggest Lord Farage of Hope would be an apt title.