The prospect of Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage receiving a knighthood in the UK’s New Year Honours list has been met with a mixture of delight and dismay in equal measure on social media.
According to the UK government’s website, the annual list “recognises the achievements and service of extraordinary people” across the country. One lucky recipient of such an honor could be Farage, who is rumored to be in line for a knighthood, primarily for his long-running campaign to see Britain leave the European Union.
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The thought of such a prestigious accolade for the 55-year-old politician has, perhaps quite predictably, caused ructions on social media. An avalanche of comical memes and gifs have been tweeted by his allies and detractors.
Many of Farage’s supporters have come out to praise his contribution to the Brexit debate with some suggesting that the UK would “still be waiting for a [EU] referendum” without him.
Yes Yes Yes, Marvelous. Arise Sir Nigel.😉🇬🇧🇬🇧🇬🇧👍 pic.twitter.com/ADp3K1BUam
— dave (@NorthBankDave1) December 23, 2019
Stand Up Sir Nigel Farage #NigelFarage . He has selflessly fought for British Democracy for over 25 years. #SirNigelFarage pic.twitter.com/pqeLuIwOLh
— Ken Shakesby (@ken_shakesby) December 23, 2019
A number of his critics appeared dumbfounded that such a title for the arch Brexiteer could even be contemplated. One person tweeted that if he is knighted then she’ll be having her “own Brexit and leaving the UK!!!”
— Tracy O’Shea (@TracymOshea) December 23, 2019
How is that even a question? He has achieved nothing! pic.twitter.com/cSVm54LDj9
— Lauren Rose 🌹 (@RedLeftie) December 23, 2019
The New Year Honours list consists of knights and dames, appointments to the Order of the British Empire, and gallantry awards to servicemen and women, and civilians. Individuals are nominated by UK government departments and members of the public with the Queen informally approving the list.
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The Niger delta is burning. The oil companies plumbing the river basin of its black gold have found an ingenious way of dealing with the natural gas they consider a waste by-product of the extraction process. Capturing the gas would be costly, inefficient – so instead, they flare it off. Across the delta, towers of flame burn day and night, some of them stretching ten storeys into the sky.
Gas flaring was officially banned in Nigeria in 1984 – but still, two million people live within four kilometres of a flare site, at risk of the cancers, neurological, reproductive and respiratory problems linked to the pollutants released into the air. The soil is hotter, and crop yields have dwindled; “You plant, and before you know it, everything is dead”. When the rains come, they are black. Oil spills spew from the pipelines of Shell and ENI, the biggest operators in the area. Shell has reported 17.5 million litres lost since 2011; Amnesty International say that’s likely a hefty underestimate. The spills have poisoned drinking water, and destroyed the livelihoods of the fishermen who once combed the delta.
We are over the brink. People have already lost their lives to hurricanes and bush fires and flooding, to toxins and crop failures – all disasters rooted in fossil-fuel dependent extractive capitalism, bankrolled by a deregulated financial sector. People continue to lose their lives. Global temperatures soar, and a monstrous future slouches towards us from the ecocidal imaginations of the handful of humans directly invested in a doctrine of global annihilation. Now, the death drive built into the heart of our economy reveals itself in ever more undeniable terms; the skull is showing through the skin.
Scientists at ExxonMobil confirmed the truth of climate change in the 1980s, at the very latest. Since then, Exxon and its fellow fossil fuel companies have spent decades sponsoring climate change denial and blocking efforts to legislate against apocalypse. Under their auspices, newspapers and broadcasters and politicians revelled in a vicious subterfuge disguised as pious gnosticism; asking how we can know for sure that climate change is caused by human activity. In recent years, this strategy has buckled under the weight of public outrage and scientific proof.
The science is clear: only an ambitious, rapid overhaul of the fundaments of our economy gives us hope of survival. And that hope is tantalisingly within our grasp. We have the technology, and we have the financial capacity; all that’s missing is the political will to give those solutions heft, muscle and cold hard cash.
Now, culprit companies are suddenly flouting their green credentials to shore up their position as custodians of the future. Shell Oil has made a big song and dance about its investments in green technology. Goldman Sachs has funded research into how to make cities “resilient to climate change”. These are little more than attempts to seduce and cajole worried publics and skittish investors. Still these companies hoard over-valued assets, continue ploughing resources into carbon-heavy industries, show no signs of leaving enough fossil fuels in the ground to avoid the breakdown of the climate, the potential collapse of civilisation and the extinction of life on earth. Negotiators were banned from mentioning climate change in recent UK-US trade talks. the UK government has subsidised the fossil fuel industry to the tune of 10bn in a decade, and its legislators continue to take its lobby money in return. They defend their right to starve out and flood and burn chunks of human existence – and make money doing it.
We are being held hostage by a cabal of ruthless ideologues whose only loyalty is to a doctrine of global death. Their success thrives on silence, isolation, manipulation, denial. They are united in their opposition to reality, in their determination to hunt down or hound out real alternatives that threaten their mortal stranglehold on power. All other doctrines are heresy, and their preachers envoys of a sinister delusion. They are unique guardians of a dark and dazzling reality.
If this took place among a handful of hippies beckoning oblivion from the heat haze of a california desert we would call it is: a death cult. Instead, it is orchestrated from sumptuous glass towers, from the velvet inner chambers of parliament – so we call it business as usual.
To these science-backed suggestions that economic alternatives are possible – even urgent, necessary, beautiful – they react with vitriol and incredulity. Saving the world may sound appealing, but it clashes intolerably with the cultish diktat: ‘There Is No Alternative”. Partisans of the Green New Deal like Alexandra Ocasio Cortez are dismissed at best as well-meaning dreamers or childish hysterics, and, at worst, nightmarish envoys of backdoor totalitarianism. Indeed, grassroots activists have been murdered for organising against big polluters. The political allegiances are clear: Defending life is foolish. Annihilation is inevitable. We have only to accept it graciously, to walk into its arms.
Rightwing politicians barter casually about the difference between a decarbonisation target of 2030, 2045, 2050, 2060 as a matter of messaging and electoral success. As though that difference were not cashed out in millions of deaths. Such differences slide off the sunny, addled mind of the cultist, for whom life and death are indistinguishable.
A chosen few will be spared; the golden ones who walk in the light. As the asset-stripping and plundering continues apace, so the market for luxury disaster insurance packages has grown, with companies offering high-tech flood defences, private firefighters, private security to guard against mobs of looters. Theirs is a gilded world where disaster can never truly happen to them – because it never truly has. That no insurance policy in the world will provide them with breathable air or sustainable agriculture is a matter for the others, the ghosts, the un-living, those whose existence never really registered. Us.
Broadcasters tried to haul Boris Johnson before the court of the living on Thursday night for the climate change debate, to account for Conservative policy proposals which present a 50% risk of tipping the world into irreversible, runaway climate breakdown, to account for his fossil fuel backers. He responded by threatening them with censure and legal action. Cult leaders can tolerate no scrutiny of their fragile world picture, no challenge to their power.
We can break the stranglehold, and commit the death cultists to the bleak annals of history where they belong. It is time to choose only those who have chosen life.
Eleanor Penny is a writer and a regular contributor to Novara Media.
As the ongoing debate on the Hate Bill speech before the Nigeria Senate continues, the United Nations and the United Kingdom have added their voice in opposition against the inclusion of the death penalty in the proposed legislation.
The Prohibition of Hate Speech Bill, according to its sponsor, Senator Sabi Abdullahi, the Senate Deputy Chief Whip, proposes that any person who violates the law shall be liable to life imprisonment and where the act causes any loss of life, the person shall be punished with death by hanging.
But the UN and the UK insisted that the bill may act as a conduit to prevent Nigerians to exercise their right to free expression as guaranteed in the 1999 constitution (as amended).
Olusola Macaulay, spokesman of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in Nigeria, said the introduction of the bill is not the most exigent matter for the National Assembly currently. He stated that public enlightenment on the dangers of hate speech is what should be communicated to Nigerians.
“I’m not sure what the government needs now is a bill or an idea to shut down people or prevent people from being able to express themselves or express their freedom of thought or information. What I think the government should do more is to enlighten the people,” he said in an interview with the Punch on Thursday.
“Every human being has the right to life and you cannot cut off people’s lives just because someone has expressed his opinion. Nobody is saying hate speech is good.
“Hate speech and fake news have been there from time immemorial and it is barbaric to say now that we want to hang people because they expressed their feelings or what they had in mind. So, censoring people or limiting people from participating in politics might not be the correct thing. As I said, the best thing to do is to educate the people.”
Macaulay disclosed that a UNESCO advocacy group, Media and Information Literacy Coalition, would soon meet with the National Assembly over the proposed legislation.
He also hinted that the UN would lobby the Federal Government on the legislation.
“We are trying to pay an advocacy visit to the government and do some lobbying. There is a coalition working already, it was formed with the support of UNESCO.
“They are working to meet with the National Assembly to express their mind and possibly advise the government to have a different narrative to the issue of hate speech and fake news,” he said.
On its part, the British government said while it unequivocally condemns hate speech, the inclusion of the death penalty in the proposed bill would stifle Nigerians from freely expressing themselves.
In a statement signed by Chris Ogunmodede, Senior Press and Public Affairs Officer, British High Commission, Abuja, the UK government said it supports the right of individuals to express their opinions peacefully in a an open society.
The statement read: “The UK government is following discussions around the proposed Prohibition of Hate Speech bill closely.
“We take a strong stand against hate speech, which can incite violence and damage community relationships within society. We also strongly support the right of individuals to express opinions and peacefully challenge authority as an essential part of a free and open society.
“The UK strongly opposes the inclusion of the death penalty in any piece of legislation, as a matter of principle.”
The Scottish government has, meanwhile, asked for further funding to cope with a possible no-deal Brexit.
The UK government said money would be available where Scotland faces disproportionate costs.
In his television interview, Mr Leonard called for Labour to say its preference was to remain in the European Union.
“We recognise there are parts of the UK – and the overall result was to leave,” he said.
“But I do think that we need clarity in our position.
“So you would expect me to be arguing, as I am, that means we need to be clearer in our position going into any public vote.”
Mr Leonard added: “The Scottish Labour party took a decision frankly in the wake of the European party election results that we needed to be much clearer, that we needed much greater clarity about the position that we were taking.
“For that reason the Scottish executive of the Labour party backed my proposal that we call for an affirmative vote that any deal should go back to the public; secondly, that on that vote there should be a remain option; and thirdly, that we would campaign unambiguously for remain.”
His comments came as the Scottish government said more money would be needed if the UK crashed out of the EU without a deal.
It has requested £52m from a contingency fund to prepare for a no-deal Brexit.
Money from the EU Exit Operational Contingency Fund has been made available ahead of Britain’s departure from the European Union on 31 October.
Finance Secretary Derek Mackay reiterated the Scottish government’s opposition to any form of Brexit.
He also asked that additional costs associated with it are met including those beyond the end of next month.
Mr Mackay said: “The UK government now seems to be actively pursuing a ‘no-deal’ outcome which is utterly unacceptable and must be avoided at all costs.
“We have requested £52m from the UK government’s fund to help us prepare for a ‘no-deal’ outcome.
“This is the minimum requirement for operational activity but the real costs of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit will massively outweigh these and further funding will be required.”
He also said leaving the EU was not Scotland’s choice and called for any related costs to be covered by the UK government.
Mr Mackay added: “The Scottish government should not have to cut spending on public services to fund Brexit preparations.
“As a responsible government, we are already taking steps to protect jobs and our economy from a ‘no-deal’ Brexit and we will set out those plans to parliament shortly but we are facing additional and disproportionate costs to mitigate the impact of such an outcome.
“We will continue make the case for staying in the EU and will stand firm against efforts to take us out against our will.”
The request includes funding to support the effect of no-deal on rural communities, increased demand on Marine Scotland and Police Scotland activities, additional communication to EU citizens in the country, and poverty mitigation measures.
‘Supporting a deal’
A Scottish Conservatives spokesman said: “In 2016, the UK electorate voted to leave the EU.
“Only the Scottish Conservatives have worked to prevent no-deal by supporting a deal.
“The SNP were given £92m for our councils to prepare for Brexit.
“Yet there is no evidence Scottish local authorities have received anything at all.”
It comes after Scotland’s chief economist on Friday predicted a potential £2bn loss of investment because of Brexit.
Forecasts up to April 2020 in the Scottish government’s quarterly State of the Economy Report show £500m of investment could be wiped out if uncertainty continues with the figure rising by the end of the year.
A spokeswoman for the UK government said: “We have allocated the Scottish government nearly £140m in funding for EU exit preparation.
“We will consider the Scottish government’s further bid under the £1bn Operational Contingency Fund in the usual way.”