Harpenden December Newsletter

Dear Members

Our December meeting will be a social evening on Thursday15th , at 9 Burywick, hosted by the Lawlors. Apart from minor business this is an opportunity to meet fellow members and share your thoughts and ideas about the state of the world.

Branch AGM in January

At our AGM we will be looking for new officers and delegates to the Constituency Party, to help keep the branch active in future years.

With an expanded membership we are entitled to many more delegates, and we hope that some of you will be interested in finding out more about how the Party works, and the role that you can play. We will also need to select candidates for the County elections in May.

NHS Campaign Day

Many thanks to those who helped on Saturday to highlight the Tory failures to protect the NHS. We had stalls in Hitchin and St Albans, and we have petition forms which you can sign, calling on the government to give the NHS the money it needs.

UNA Meeting with Lord Wood

Several local members attended the UNA meeting addressed by Stephen Wood, the new chair of UNA-UK, Lord Wood was a Labour adviser to Ed Miliband before entering the House of Lords, and is keen to strengthen UK support for the UN as the main force for world peace and development. If you would like a summary of his talk, we can forward it to you.

Eastern Region Conference

The annual conference of Eastern Region at Southend saw a record attendance with many new members present. George Fraser proposed the GMB motion calling for an enquiry into police violence at the Orgreave colliery during the 1984 Miner's Strike. Ed Miliband addressed the conference dinner, and we gave a fond farewell to Richard Howitt, with thanks for his achievements in 22 years as our regional MEP, and a welcome to his successor, Alex Mayer, who will serve until we finally leave the EU.

Enemies of the People

The Daily Mail readers presumably do not know of Ibsen's play in which the 'Enemy of the People' is the doctor who warns about a deadly epidemic. The judges who argue that parliament should have a say in the Brexit negotiations, are only doing their job.

UKIP in St Albans

The recent District by-election in a safe Lib Dem seat saw the UKIP vote drop from over 100 in May to just 15. The new UKIP leader targets Labour voters, but opposes the NHS, denies climate change, and advocates hanging.


Dates For Your Diary

Thursday 15 th December at 8 p.m. Social Branch meeting at 9 Burywick AJ5 2AQ, hosted by David and Gudrun Lawlor. Members and friends welcome.

Thursday 12 th January Branch AGM. Details next time.


Chris Gillen writes:

“The inmates have taken over the asylum”

The origin of the phrase is thought to be a German cult horror film: The Cabinet of Dr Caligari, made in the 1920s. From this obscure beginning it has now entered popular culture to the extent that it could be considered a cliché. But how else could you describe the current political climate?

The citizens of the US have elected as their president, Donald Trump, who, through his very public utterances, is a misogynistic, xenophobic, serial groper and dubious businessman (See Trump University). During his election campaign he promised, inter alia, to build a wall to separate the US from Mexico, deport millions of Mexicans, prohibit Muslims from entering the US, put the resident Muslim community under ‘severe’ surveillance and jail Hillary Clinton. So how did he persuade so many people to vote for him despite these risible statements? A good part of the answer is that Trump is a master of ‘post-truth’ politics.

‘Post-truth’ is a relatively new concept which has been declared by Oxford Dictionaries as its word of the year. They define it as: “Adjective relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than applies to emotional or personal belief.” The perpetrators of post-truth ‘facts’ ignore all rebuttals, no matter how expert the rebutters, and keep repeating their assertions. It was jaw-dropping to an outsider to witness that the more extreme Trump’s statements became, the more adoring his fan base.

Social media also played its part. Facebook was one of the culprits with completely made-up stories putting Hillary in a bad light, transmitted to millions of users.

Post-truth politics were also a factor in the Brexit debate. The leave campaign’s bus proclaiming that the NHS would benefit by £350m per week on exit from the EU was a prime example. Despite this being demonstrably untrue, Boris Johnson repeated the lie on numerous occasions. Johnson is of course a serial liar. He also said that 4m Turks had their bags packed ready the invade UK, despite the fact that Turkey was at the very early stages of joining the EU with very little likelihood of success. (Incidentally, Johnson, in his role as Foreign Secretary, is now lobbying for Turkey’s entry). Part of the post-truth strategy is to denigrate anyone with expert knowledge who dares query their ‘factoids’. Michael Gove was particularly scathing – nobody should listen to experts, he proclaimed. He’s now rowed back a bit by admitting that if he was having brain surgery he would like it to be carried out by a qualified surgeon.

How will it end? How will those millions of people who voted for Trump and Brexit feel when the promises they were given do not happen? Time will tell.

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