Archive for the 'Marf Cartoons' Category

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When we are over the line, Brexit happens, then what?

Monday, August 12th, 2019


Cartoon from Marf

Dramatic changes which might or might not have been planned for

One of the (perhaps inevitable) side-effects of the focus on the day when Brexit is going to, finally, happen is a sense that this is a project that just needs getting over the line for it to be largely concluded. The government will have done what the voters ordered. Boris will have delivered. Hooray! We can all move on, cast our eyes westward and concentrate on the wonderful new FTA to be imposed by our new best friend in the White House. (More expensive medicines and GM food: how wonderful!) And we will be free! It will all be gloriously exciting and all those frightful Remoaners with their Project Fears and predictions of Armageddon will be proved wrong.
Of course, there is concern that maybe in the first few days there will be teething problems: some traffic in Kent, a bit of nervousness on the financial markets, confusion over haulier permits and one or two aggrieved sheep farmers in some hills far away. French fishermen may make a nuisance of themselves, barricading ports and the like, but then they always do. The Irish will be annoyed but aren’t they always. And that border will remain open as promised. What was all the fuss about? And in any case there is time for steps to be taken to prevent these little hiccoughs happening; money can always be used to sweeten any difficulties. It will be like Y2K or the introduction of the euro: beforehand there were countless predictions of disaster but in the end all went smoothly. Or so the government will be hoping and planning for. It will certainly do everything possible to ensure that the first few days following Brexit are not about stories of lorry drivers trapped for hours, medicines being turned away at the border, empty supermarket shelves and cancelled flights. Those assuming dreadful problems assailing a government holed up in its COBRA redoubt while the papers are full of tales of woe may find themselves disappointed. There will be enough smug “We told you so’s” from relieved Ministers to fill any number of Brexit special editions.

But even making this heroic assumption, the very fact of viewing Brexit like a Y2K shows a level of worrying self-delusion. Once the Y2K issues were resolved (and there was an immense amount of planning and hard work in the years – not months or weeks or even the 82 days prior – to ensure that nothing happened) life went on as before. That was the point of the contingency planning: to ensure that there would be no change. This is emphatically not the case with Brexit.

This is not something to be got over the line and then moved on from. Life will not continue as before. Indeed, that’s the whole point of Brexit. Overnight, Britain will go from being a member of the EU to being a Third Country as far as the EU is concerned for all purposes: legal, regulatory, financial, tax, trade, everything. And as for non-EU countries, it will go from a country benefiting from its membership of the EU to one outside all existing agreements (save for the very few which have been rolled over on exactly the same terms). It’s not at all clear that the full import of what this means has been widely understood let alone fully prepared for.

Most businesses, organisations, individuals will have to live and operate in a significantly different environment. If the EU’s tentacles reached into every aspect of British life – as Brexiteers claim and use as their justification for why Britain should leave – then it follows that the effects of removing those tentacles will be equally far-reaching, and in ways which cannot all be foreseen, let alone planned for or mitigated or avoided. The consequences of a No Deal departure will exist and be much more acute than they would otherwise have been: a more complicated tax regime for companies with operations in more than one European country, non-tariff barriers where there were none before, export tariffs for exporters, business affected by import tariffs (whether in increased costs or competition undercutting businesses here), a different immigration system, exclusion from legal and regulatory systems in a wide range of sectors, data sharing, security systems, very different customs arrangements, different laws, different travel, employment and secondment rules and so on. The effects of these changes will not occur on one day only: they will have an impact every single day from 1 November onwards. Planning for and managing them will have a cost, in many cases, a very significant one.  That planning and management will have to be done on the basis of not knowing what will replace the current arrangements. Even the limited agreements with the EU are short-term and entirely within their gift. And that is without the unknown unknowns.

Brexit is not a one-off event: it is a very significant change to the way Britain’s economy and society has operated for the last few decades. Doing so without any transitional agreement on the basis of, at the very best, three years’ and, more realistically, a few months’ planning is a quite extraordinary undertaking for any advanced Western country to take. The focus all seems to be on getting it over the line not on what happens afterwards, a conspicuously short-term approach even for a political class that can normally only think as far ahead as the next election. A No Deal Brexit is not a race to a finish line but the start of a marathon in an unknown country without a map.

There is no precedent for such a rupture, outside perhaps the shift to a wartime economy. Possibly the nearest was Czechoslovakia’s division in two in 1993. That was relatively peaceful – certainly by contrast with the bloodier break-ups following the collapse of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia – and without too much dislocation. Why was this? Well, the two countries entered into mutual negotiations, agreed financial compensation, agreed to honour existing treaties, shared a currency for a bit and allowed free movement between their countries. And then they joined the EU. Oh, the irony!

Instead, Britain is relying on…..well, what exactly?

CycleFree




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A Marf cartoon for the day Corbyn’s LAB dropped to a polling low

Thursday, July 4th, 2019

This Marf cartoon first appeared in the Jewish Chronicle.



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The real driver behind Johnson’s CON MP campaign has been Gavin Williamson, not Lynton Crosby

Saturday, June 15th, 2019

Marf cartoon first appeared after Williamson was sacked

A guest slot by The Kitchen Cabinet

There are some events that seem unimportant and innocuous at the time but which have far reaching consequences on the longer-term. Historically, the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand in 1914 is the biggest example, an event which, at first, attracted little attention but which set off World War I. Another, far less known, is the financial scandals of President Hindenburg’s son, Oskar, which many believe was a major factor in changing Hindenburg’s mind about appointing Hitler as Chancellor of Germany in 1933. We may have our own version right now, not as dramatic (hopefully) in its consequences, but an event that arguably may have changed fundamentally the dynamics of UK politics for good. That event was Theresa May’s sacking of the ex-fireplace salesman extraordinaire and Defence Secretary, Gavin Williamson.

Many have ascribed Boris Johnson’s approaching coronation to the skills of Lyndon Crosby. But I would argue that it is Gavin Williamson who has done far more to being about the approach of PM Johnson as his effective campaign manager.

Williamson’s supposed gaffes as Defence Secretary are well known. However, that overlooks his time as Chief Whip, where he was incredibly effective, brokering the DUP-CON pact and ensuring that the Government kept on track. One wonders whether we would have had all the drama with the Withdrawal Agreement if Williamson had remained Chief Whip.

In the campaign for Johnson’s leadership, I would argue that it is Williamson who has won it for BJ and he has again come into his own. It is easy in hindsight to think that Johnson’s route to power was inevitable. But that is not the case. We all know from the comments on this site that Johnson was seen by most (but not all) as embodying the typical perennial pattern of favourites for the next Conservative leader falling at the fence. Few judged he could make the leap. His character was untrustworthy and he would not have the discipline for a campaign. Many of his colleagues disliked him intensely.

Moreover, Johnson’s position as the chief cheerleader for Brexit wasn’t secure. It is easy to mock their campaigns now but both Dominic Raab and Esther McVey could have provided serious competition for that block. Both had been building up their leadership campaigns for months post-their resignations and burnishing their credentials, Raab by constant public appearances, McVey by embedding herself more at the grassroots level. Both had policies that went beyond Brexit to a more overriding vision that would appeal to members – Raab with low taxation, McVey with blue-collar conservatism. Both thought they had the numbers to progress further (Raab has but McVey thought she had at least 20, including Liam Fox who signed the papers for Boris Johnson). Both had good reason to think in a campaign where many candidates would come from the pro-Remain wing that the ERG would decide that they needed to swing behind a pro-Brexit candidate to get the latter into the second round where they would probably win the membership contest and that Johnson wouldn’t be trusted.

Yet that hasn’t happened. Williamson would have realised that getting the support of the main ERG MPs was vital. As long as Johnson could get to the second round and his opponents were the likes of Gove and Hunt, he was most likely in with the membership.

I would argue that what he did phenomenally well was gain the support of this block. Having Rees Mogg, Francois and Baker quickly come out for Johnson effectively demolished any hopes of Johnson being out-Brexited. Meanwhile, his marshalling of MPs for Boris, pointing out that it is better to be on the side of the winner if you wanted a job, has been phenomenal. MPs who publicly stated their disbelief of a PM BoJo have fallen into line. As a result, we now have the situation where, unless BoJo blows up, he will be our next PM.

There are two further points from this. The first is Williamson’s role in a Johnson Government. I think he will be the classic power behind the throne type, effectively directing the new Government. I suspect his job will be more DPM / First Secretary of State than in charge of a department, where his skills would be diminished. He may even head to Brussels to head the negotiations with the EU. What it is likely to mean also is that a Johnson Government will be a lot more disciplined and focused than might be expected. And more successful. Expect an agreement with the EU which is the WA rejigged with some phrases and which can be presented as a triumph (I don’t see Williamson pushing for a No Deal and I think his skills will keep Baker et al on board). Expect more classic Conservative policies of low taxation. And, off the back of this, a GE where I would expect the Conservatives to win against a split opposition and a Brexit Party that would have been defanged.

Secondly, it may have turned out that Theresa May’s most lasting legacy may have been to, inadvertently, smooth the path for Johnson as PM. If Williamson hadn’t been sacked, then he may have been tempted to run for the PM job himself when May had stepped down. Even if he hadn’t, the fact he would have been in the Cabinet, would have made it difficult for him to build the links with the Boris camp. However, outside, he could do what he wanted and it was clear he wanted revenge for his sacking. It would be a fitting summary of Theresa May’s reign that she has smoothed the path as her successor a man she would dearly loved to have kept off the throne.

The Kitchen Cabinet



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Marf on the sacking of Gavin Williamson

Wednesday, May 1st, 2019



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From Marf a special cartoon for Gold Cup day

Friday, March 15th, 2019

Great to see Marf once again on the site. The odds were all accurate when Marf did the cartoon.

Mike Smithson




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A year on since Corbyn’s anti-semitic mural row and the issue continues to plague LAB and its leader

Monday, March 11th, 2019

This could cost LAB more than just Jewish votes

It was in March last year that the antisemitic row within LAB gathered media traction following the revelation of his positive response on Facebook in 2012 to what was clearly an anti-semitic mural on the wall of a building in East London. That led amongst other things to demonstrations in Parliament Square against him and the party.

Commenting at the time under the heading “Corbyn’s ‘regret’ over an antisemitic mural doesn’t go remotely far enough” the Guardian columnist Matthew D’Ancona wrote:

“…. why does Corbyn – admirably proactive in tackling other forms of prejudice – seem to squirm and dither when confronted with allegations of antisemitism? As Richard Gold, a party member active in the anti-racist Engage campaign, put it in his submission to Shami Chakrabarti’s inquiry into Labour antisemitism: “[It is] as though being unpleasant to Jews … should be excused or minimised, treated merely as rudeness or bad manners, rather than racist behaviour…

…Antisemitism is on the rise all over the world. According to the Community Security Trust, a record number of antisemitic incidents were reported in the UK last year. Why does this bother Corbyn as little as it seems to? Does he believe in universal rights and equality of worth, or not? The fact that the Labour leader appears to regard allegations of antisemitism as an irritant rather than a fundamental issue says nothing good about him. In this respect, at least, the writing is upon the wall.

In spite of all that has happened since D’Ancona’s observations are as relevant today as they were a year ago.

The hard fact is to the LAB leader this form of racism has the potential to dog him as long he survives in the job. Whenever any issue related to antisemitism comes up his response continues to be closely monitored and highlighted.

His ultra loyal supporters, of course, shout “smear” and blame the media but that has little impact.

If there is an early election, and with TMay’s precarious parliamentary position that is a risk at all times, Corbyn’s less than convincing position on antisemitism looks set to be massive distraction to the LAB campaign and will influence more than just Jewish voters.

  • The Marf cartoon above first appeared in the Jewish Chronicle

    Mike Smithson




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    As 2018 comes to an end Marf’s Cartoon of the year

    Monday, December 31st, 2018

    We’ve not seen a Marf cartoon on PB for some time but this is her end of the year drawing for the Jewish Chronicle. Thanks Marf. It is fun.

    Mike Smithson




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    Marf on the Irish border shambles

    Tuesday, December 5th, 2017