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Friday, 2 November 2012

Wrapped up in a Union Jack

On Wednesday, David Cameron received a bit of a beasting at the hands of a group of rebel Tory MPs.
Our Dave is scheduled to attend an EU budget conference in the not-too-distant future. The stance he had leaked in advance of the upcoming  budget negotiations was that he intended to be tough but proactive;  demanding any rise in the budget be restricted to a real terms increase, and promising to exercise the UK's veto if the Eurocrats insisted on sticking to their proposed six or seven per cent increase.
Making common cause with the Labour Opposition, the Tory rebels, on the other hand, insisted that the only change to the EU budget should be in a downward direction.  Not unreasonably, they opined that the Eurocrats should endure the same pain and austerity that most of Europe has been living through for the last couple of years.
Much to the horror of the Government, the rebels and their cohorts won the day. The reaction of the Parliamentary Press corps tells you much about what is wrong with this country and its politics;and more particularly the traditionally supine attitude our political elites adopt in any negotiations with Europe.
Far from hailing the no vote as a triumph for Parliamentary democracy, they almost universally characterised it as a defeat for the Prime Minister. Instead of celebrating the supremacy of Parliament, they wrung their collective, little hands, with worry at the reaction of Frau Merkel and her cohorts and placemen. Apparently, they were correct. Our beloved Fuhrerin has let it be known that she is deeply unhappy at the prospect of any veto - parliamentary democracy notwithstanding - and will not look kindly on our Dave if any more vetoes are thrown into the ring. You can almost hear the scrabbling sound as our leader and his advisors attempt to retain the moral high ground bestowed by the Parliamentary vote, even as they rapidly retreat to the familiar territory of fudge and compromise. 
There they will be greeted with open arms by Nick Clegg. Sensing that the national mood has swung emphatically against the EU, but not quite able yet to admit just how deeply the loathing has penetrated the national psyche, Clegg has described the move to renegotiate our position and reclaim powers from the EU as "a false promise wrapped in a Union Jack". 
In Clegg's worldview, we are safe only as long as we cling to Frau Merkel's apron strings.  If we insist on reclaiming important elements of our sovereignty, we could face the ultimate sanction; expulsion from the European Union.  
For Clegg, and indeed for most Europhiles, Great Britain is a small, slightly worn and grubby island anchored off the west coast of Europe whose only chance of future prosperity and influence comes from remaining part of Greater Europe. Our departure from the EU would be the first step onto the national equivalent of the Liverpool Care Pathway. Starved of the nourishment provided by the communal teat we would eventually wither on the vine and simply  fade away.  In the scenario most frequently used to frighten the children, we would be banned from trade agreements, ignored by the great supranational companies that drive world trade and our people, goods and services would be ostracised and ignored. 
Naturally, companies like VAG, Ford, BASF  would be only  too happy to obey Merkel, Baroso or whoever and withdraw from one of the world's major developed markets, one that represents billions of dollars in  revenue to them. Equally, the rest of the world would also sit on its hands. No American, Canadian, Australian, South African, Indian, Japanese, Chinese, Russian or Brazilian would rush to fill the void and their corporate pockets should such an unlikely scenario be played out. Members of the Commonwealth, which with 54 countries and 2 billion inhabitants, is getting on for three times the size of the EU, would also be bound to ignore what is still the mother country for most of them. That, by the way, is the same Commonwealth with a current growth rate of around 7% GDP annually compared with the EU's less than stellar zero per cent.
So, if Frau Merkel and the rest decide that they really don't want us to contribute billions to their club any more, we can happily go our own way knowing that we have a ready-made market waiting for us. A market whose citizens, for the most part, speak our language, whose legal and administrative systems are a mirror of our own and whose undoubted good will is confirmed by their electing to join and remain within the Commonwealth sixty years after we first began the process of dismantling the old British Empire.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Defence merger - conspiracy or coincidence?

Should Britain allow its Defence Industries to be foreign-owned?
It's a question that, not so long ago, would have elicited a  robust response involving two fingers accompanied by two words, the second of which would have been OFF.
That was in the days before successive governments sat back as key utilities such as water and power slipped into foreign ownership. Currently, UK utilities are owned by Australian, US French and German companies to name just a few.  
Is this important? After all, the conventional wisdom is that  the only way for Great Britain to "punch above its weight" ( has their ever been a more fatuous and patronising expression, by the way?) is to accept and embrace foreign ownership as an inevitable result of Globalisation; which, as we are all constantly told, is never less than a force for good and a sovereign boon to Mankind.
Hmmmm. EDF (Electricite de France)is one of our largest energy suppliers. Its majority shareholder is, and will always be, the French Government. If you believe that is not significant try comparing EDF electricity prices in France and Great Britain. Alternatively, look what happened to gas prices here, compared to Germany, when the Russians threatened to turn off the taps a couple of years ago. 
History demonstrates that once British companies are foreign-owned, whether through takeover or - the preferred term - merger, and the owners are forced to cut jobs or investment because of a fall-off in demand, they invariably choose to make them  somewhere other than their home market. 
Which brings us, albeit circuitously, to the proposed merger of Bae and the Franco-Germa-Iberian company  EADS, perhaps better known as Airbus. 
There has been plenty of Press reaction to this proposed tie-up, most of it split along the usual partisan lines. Generally-speaking, the anti EU Mail, Telegraph and Express were against the idea while the Europhile Independent and the Guardian were, equally predictably, not so against it. No surprises there. 
Just before news of this proposed merger ( we get 40% and they get 60% but, somehow, this still constitutes a merger?) broke and dominated the headlines, slightly less ink was expended reporting a meeting of many of the EU's leading and lesser lights at which one of the topics discussed was, Taddah!!!, the future of the European Defence Industry and, ancillary to this, the development of a fully-fledged EU Army which would become the main beneficiary of the output of said European Defence Industry. Both of these developments, by the way, would also underpin the rapid growth of the EU Foreign Office ( for want of a better expression) under Baroness Ashton which is rapidly usurping or challenging UK embassies in key parts of the world. And, as Manuel Barosso, the totally un-elected President of the bits of the EU that Van Rompuy doesn't lay claim to be President of, said, it would accelerate the whole process of Federal integration which every body - except the British , Dutch, German, Swedish, Greek and Czech electorates - is gagging to see happen as soon as possible. 
Now, back to the original question: is the fact that this Conference on this topic was rapidly followed by the Bae/EADS merger proposal a coincidence? 
If not, is it simply the next step in the propaganda process whereby politicians and officials seek to convince the British public that integration into Greater Europe is so inevitable that it is pointless thinking of trying to succeed in the great big world without the security and comfort of the EU blanket wrapped around us?



Thursday, 11 August 2011

Multi-culturalism

Here we go again.
As the flames begin to die down, the chancers and political opportunists are emerging from the woodwork.
Following the example of Ken Livingstone, Mad Hattie Harman was on the telly last nigh explaining why thousands of young hooligans - some barely out of nappies - forsook the ersatz violence of their GameBoys and PlayStations for the real world excitement of rioting and disorder.
According to Miss Harman, it was their way of articulating anger at the rise in University Tuition fees and the cancellation of the Educational Maintenance Allowance which has been used since 2004 to encourage (or bribe) some 16-18 yearolds to stay in school. Oh, and don't let us forget the wicked Tory cuts while we are at it.
Right, Hattie.
Most of those who took to the streets go to school only when they need to keep out of the rain or establish an alibi. The concept of anyone willingly subjecting themselves to an additional three to four years of academic toil, let alone being prepared to pay for the privilege, would be totally alien to them.
To be fair, that their lawlessness could have been prompted by the Wicked Tory Cuts, might filter into their consciousness - or be suggested by a sharp defence lawyer - when they are having to excuse their activities in front of a magistrate. I doubt suppose it figured much in their thinking at the precise moment that they were legging it down Tottenham High Road clutching a 42" plasma screen TV.
No doubt, there is need for a huge debate in the country about how we educate our children, what disciplinary powers we give teachers and what rights ordinary citizens have to step in when confronted by lawlessness.
But, all of this will be so much hot air until we confront the main elephant in the drawing room, Multiculturalism.
Over the last two decades, but particularly during the 13 years of Blair/Brown, this country, for reasons best known to a small but powerful elite, set out to recast itself as a multicultural society.
Not only did we allow people to flock here in their millions but, unlike other large centres of immigration such as The US or Australia, we also encouraged them to import and nurture their own traditions and customs, frequently at the expense of the indigenous version. To make them feel as comfortable as possible, we even gave up teaching anything about our own history or traditions in school.
Nowhere has this been more apparent than in England in general and the south of England in particlular. Large pockets of our capital city have now become ghettoised, with the encouragement and approval of the previous government. Ghetto is such an ugly and emotionally-charged word, of course, that we are encouraged not to use it. Instead, people have desperately cast around for other descriptions; the favourite being the much cosier and less-threatening, Community.
Populated for the most part by people linked by family or geographical ties, these communities are self-contained and self-sustaining. However, since they are defined by the majority ethnic grouping or religion, they also tend to be exclusive, and in some cases, reclusive. They do not welcome outsiders into their midst.
Thus, when threatened by the rioters, Sikhs in Southall, Muslims in Birmingham and Turkish shopkeepers in Tottenham were able to mobilise resistance very rapidly. Armed with sticks, swords and knives they made a very public show of being prepared to protect their neighbourhoods and their businesses against all comers. The media reaction to this display of togetherness was one of unreserved approval and admiration.
Christine Odone in the the Telegraph, for instance, has written admiringly of their fierce commitment to their neighbourhoods and questioned why there wasn't the same degree of defiance and organisation in white communities.
Perhaps, she should look no further than Enfield for the answer. Here, white people did decide to band together for the same purpose, to protect their streets, businesses and homes. But, the official response to this display of community spirit has been markedly different. Where there was what appeared to be tacit approval of the stand taken by the Turks, the Sikhs an Muslim groups -tellingly, there were no calls for them to lay down their weapons and trust the duly appointed authorities to defend them - the same is not true in Enfield.
The problem seems to be that the residents marshalling their forces in that particular borough are predominantly white and number amongst them several men sporting closely cropped hair and tattoos. There has been no implied or tacit approval of their self-defence initiative. On the contrary, the man currently dubbed Britain's most senior policeman, Acting Met Police Commissioner, Tim Godwin, appears to belive that they have added a "violent racial element" to an already fraught situation.
Adding a violent racial element? What on earth does he think has been going on in London these last few days? A peaceful, mulitcultural picnic?
When black youths are texting each other to target Turkish and Asian-owned businesses, forcing their owners to arm themselves and stand guard, he doesn't think that is violent or racially-inspired?
While the Sikhs and Turks have been treated as local heroes, their white British counterparts have been dubbed "vigilantes", another word carrying a lot of emotional baggage, conjuring up visions of lynch mobs exacting their own brand of summary justice.
Commissioner Godwin has warned the "vigilantes" that the Met Police will crack down on them as hard as it does on the actual looters and rioters, if they try to take the law into their own hands. The irony of this double-standard - let alone its implicit racism - has obviously failed to penetrate Godwin's thick, helmeted head.
What this situation has demonstrated is the need for colour-blind policing on our streets, where victims and crminals alike are dealt with according to the severity of the crime. That is why the statue of Justice topping the Old Bailey is blind-folded. Because Justice must always be impartial.