Who pissed on the parade?

Non-stop rain, an imprisoned cow and a Cameron that's actually in power

Dear Auntie Marina,

Ever since the Tories won the local election, it's done nothing but
rain. This certainly wasn't mentioned on their election leaflets. I
preferred your weather. Is this something I can refer to the Electoral
Complaints Commission?

Yours,
That bloke up the hill, Whitehawk, Brighton

In October 2006 at the annual Conservative Party Conference David Cameron laid out his fair weather policies. He said: "We can only become the party of the centre ground by renouncing rain and the causes of rain."

At a dry indoor location the spliffing toff continued: "It is no long possible for a socially responsible, moderate, modern party to hanker for the old days of rain. More sunshine, less rain is what the modern world is about."

Dave added: "Being for sun and against rain is what the modern Conservative party is about. That is after all why I voted to send our troops to Iraq. More sunshine and less rain is what the modern world is about."

So yes, I think you have an excellent case against the Tories who, once again, have proved what a prize bunch of showers they truly are. They say one thing to get elected, but once in office lose no sleep over raining on the electorate’s parade. Let’s go get ‘em boy! You mop, I’ll squeeze.

Dear Marina

Like this is sooooooo unfair. Jail is no place for a lady of my impekable (sic) social cred. The judge simply failed to understand their has to be one rule for us and one for them otherwise why would night clubs have VIP lounges? With your excellent campaigning skills I have to overlook your humble beginnings to beg of you help get me out this hell hole.

Paris Hilton, Century Reginal Detention Fasillity, LA, California

My dear girl, have you any idea how many lives are destroyed and families torn apart through grief because cows like you drive while drunk? You are extremely lucky, young lady, to have pulled off the biggest PR coup of your 'career' without killing anybody - including yourself.

Apparently a photo of you in jail "finding Jesus in a foetal position with a half-eaten bologna sandwich" would be worth $200,000 - more than double that "if you can see the tears". I assume this refers to you, not Jesus.

In your position I would hold out for a close-up lesbo gang bang sex sequence captured on a mobile phone. Got to be worth a cool million at least. More if it’s you leading the assault and you’re clever with online advertising.

You could use your time in jail to improve your woefully inadequate literacy skills thus standing you in good stead for the inevitable book deals on your release. But you’re probably better off concentrating on smuggling in a mobile phone. Get back in touch if you need a ghost writer. In the meantime, learn a lesson girlfriend!

Dear Marina

It’s not easy having Dave as a brother. Even at Eton he was cooler, braver and more popular. I would never have dared do some of the things he’s gotten away with. But now I’ve showed him. Future prime minister he may be. But I’m the chair, the treasurer, the secretary and the clerk of Peasemore Parish Council. Can I at long last feel equal?

Alex C, Peasemore

Parish meetings must be fascinating. How parishioners must smile, as you open up a debate with yourself and fastidiously minute your every word. But who notes your apologies when you’re away in Notters advising Dave? And why a secretary and a clerk?

Such challenges for modern Britain are mirrored – or should that be smoke and mirrored – on my own local town council. Dave certainly didn’t allow a shortage of candidates here to get in the way of his boast of fielding more candidates than rival parties.

I have this image from the count in my head that won’t go away: a cluster of suits sporting blue rosettes, each bearing a white elephant pissing green pee into the wind. I think that’s what they were. There was so much jostling and hand shaking with weird finger moves – not to mention the appalling number of Tory votes piling up at the count - it was all most confusing for me.

But I digress. Basically the Tories won 36 places out of 39. Sounds good. Yet when you go through the names you realise there are only 24 actual Tories. They doubled up and in three cases tripled up as candidates. We now have Tory representatives from outside the area, sitting on two town councils, the district council and in two cases are the county councillors as well. That’s two men holding eight positions of office between them. One would have to ask: is our multi-layered local government system now crap on every level?

With your wildly superior and privileged background I will assume you are supremely able to cope on behalf of the people of Peasemore.

But here in Telscombe Town – well, if you like brick-a-brac and tat come along to our meetings and browse. There’s no shortage of white elephants.

Marina Pepper is a former glamour model turned journalist, author, eco-campaigner and Lib Dem politician. A councillor and former Parliamentary candidate, she lives near Brighton with her two children.
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The Brexit Beartraps, #2: Could dropping out of the open skies agreement cancel your holiday?

Flying to Europe is about to get a lot more difficult.

So what is it this time, eh? Brexit is going to wipe out every banana planet on the entire planet? Brexit will get the Last Night of the Proms cancelled? Brexit will bring about World War Three?

To be honest, I think we’re pretty well covered already on that last score, but no, this week it’s nothing so terrifying. It’s just that Brexit might get your holiday cancelled.

What are you blithering about now?

Well, only if you want to holiday in Europe, I suppose. If you’re going to Blackpool you’ll be fine. Or Pakistan, according to some people...

You’re making this up.

I’m honestly not, though we can’t entirely rule out the possibility somebody is. Last month Michael O’Leary, the Ryanair boss who attracts headlines the way certain other things attract flies, warned that, “There is a real prospect... that there are going to be no flights between the UK and Europe for a period of weeks, months beyond March 2019... We will be cancelling people’s holidays for summer of 2019.”

He’s just trying to block Brexit, the bloody saboteur.

Well, yes, he’s been quite explicit about that, and says we should just ignore the referendum result. Honestly, he’s so Remainiac he makes me look like Dan Hannan.

But he’s not wrong that there are issues: please fasten your seatbelt, and brace yourself for some turbulence.

Not so long ago, aviation was a very national sort of a business: many of the big airports were owned by nation states, and the airline industry was dominated by the state-backed national flag carriers (British Airways, Air France and so on). Since governments set airline regulations too, that meant those airlines were given all sorts of competitive advantages in their own country, and pretty much everyone faced barriers to entry in others. 

The EU changed all that. Since 1994, the European Single Aviation Market (ESAM) has allowed free movement of people and cargo; established common rules over safety, security, the environment and so on; and ensured fair competition between European airlines. It also means that an AOC – an Air Operator Certificate, the bit of paper an airline needs to fly – from any European country would be enough to operate in all of them. 

Do we really need all these acronyms?

No, alas, we need more of them. There’s also ECAA, the European Common Aviation Area – that’s the area ESAM covers; basically, ESAM is the aviation bit of the single market, and ECAA the aviation bit of the European Economic Area, or EEA. Then there’s ESAA, the European Aviation Safety Agency, which regulates, well, you can probably guess what it regulates to be honest.

All this may sound a bit dry-

It is.

-it is a bit dry, yes. But it’s also the thing that made it much easier to travel around Europe. It made the European aviation industry much more competitive, which is where the whole cheap flights thing came from.

In a speech last December, Andrew Haines, the boss of Britain’s Civil Aviation Authority said that, since 2000, the number of destinations served from UK airports has doubled; since 1993, fares have dropped by a third. Which is brilliant.

Brexit, though, means we’re probably going to have to pull out of these arrangements.

Stop talking Britain down.

Don’t tell me, tell Brexit secretary David Davis. To monitor and enforce all these international agreements, you need an international court system. That’s the European Court of Justice, which ministers have repeatedly made clear that we’re leaving.

So: last March, when Davis was asked by a select committee whether the open skies system would persist, he replied: “One would presume that would not apply to us” – although he promised he’d fight for a successor, which is very reassuring. 

We can always holiday elsewhere. 

Perhaps you can – O’Leary also claimed (I’m still not making this up) that a senior Brexit minister had told him that lost European airline traffic could be made up for through a bilateral agreement with Pakistan. Which seems a bit optimistic to me, but what do I know.

Intercontinental flights are still likely to be more difficult, though. Since 2007, flights between Europe and the US have operated under a separate open skies agreement, and leaving the EU means we’re we’re about to fall out of that, too.  

Surely we’ll just revert to whatever rules there were before.

Apparently not. Airlines for America – a trade body for... well, you can probably guess that, too – has pointed out that, if we do, there are no historic rules to fall back on: there’s no aviation equivalent of the WTO.

The claim that flights are going to just stop is definitely a worst case scenario: in practice, we can probably negotiate a bunch of new agreements. But we’re already negotiating a lot of other things, and we’re on a deadline, so we’re tight for time.

In fact, we’re really tight for time. Airlines for America has also argued that – because so many tickets are sold a year or more in advance – airlines really need a new deal in place by March 2018, if they’re to have faith they can keep flying. So it’s asking for aviation to be prioritised in negotiations.

The only problem is, we can’t negotiate anything else until the EU decides we’ve made enough progress on the divorce bill and the rights of EU nationals. And the clock’s ticking.

This is just remoaning. Brexit will set us free.

A little bit, maybe. CAA’s Haines has also said he believes “talk of significant retrenchment is very much over-stated, and Brexit offers potential opportunities in other areas”. Falling out of Europe means falling out of European ownership rules, so itcould bring foreign capital into the UK aviation industry (assuming anyone still wants to invest, of course). It would also mean more flexibility on “slot rules”, by which airports have to hand out landing times, and which are I gather a source of some contention at the moment.

But Haines also pointed out that the UK has been one of the most influential contributors to European aviation regulations: leaving the European system will mean we lose that influence. And let’s not forget that it was European law that gave passengers the right to redress when things go wrong: if you’ve ever had a refund after long delays, you’ve got the EU to thank.

So: the planes may not stop flying. But the UK will have less influence over the future of aviation; passengers might have fewer consumer rights; and while it’s not clear that Brexit will mean vastly fewer flights, it’s hard to see how it will mean more, so between that and the slide in sterling, prices are likely to rise, too.

It’s not that Brexit is inevitably going to mean disaster. It’s just that it’ll take a lot of effort for very little obvious reward. Which is becoming something of a theme.

Still, we’ll be free of those bureaucrats at the ECJ, won’t be?

This’ll be a great comfort when we’re all holidaying in Grimsby.

Jonn Elledge edits the New Statesman's sister site CityMetric, and writes for the NS about subjects including politics, history and Brexit. You can find him on Twitter or Facebook.