Archive for June, 2016


To say that I am disappointed doesn’t even come close.
Friday 24th the Brexit result was announced.

Later that day in Huntingdon disgusting anti-police cards were left on the door steps of homes.

On Sunday 26th Racist graffiti was sprayed all over the Polish Cultural Centre in Hammersmith London.

I thought there would be a backlash, I thought the mindless ‘BRI’ISH fugs’ would commence a campaign of hate and violence against those perceived as ‘incomers’. I am surprised at the speed with which the fascists acted. I wonder how many of the Polish families who have been subjected to such vile behaviour are related to or children of Polish war heroes. Poles who flew alongside the RAF during the battle of Britain.

I am disgusted and ashamed.


On the 8th May 1945 the war in Europe came to an end. VJ day was celebrated in August of that year. I have no first-hand knowledge of these events not being born until 1957. I was born three years after rationing ended in Britain although the effects of the war continued well into the 80’s so far as the dairy industry were concerned.Britain joined the European Community in 1973. At the time I was living at home with my parents and brother. We were a small family, living in a small home. Times were tough, there was little money to support the family even though both of my parents worked hard. But I felt loved and safe and cared for.

My memories of life, pre 1973, are smoky coal fires, a coke hot water boiler, the winter of 1962-63, shortages of everything, dark days, even in milder winters scraping ice from the inside of my bedroom window. Grey men in grey clothing happy but poor. Support from neighbours, even for the old and cantankerous Mrs White who lived next door.

Produce was scarce, fruit and veg poor quality unless it was home grown. Cheap cuts like Oxtail from the butcher. Local shops of questionable cleanliness selling bread, greengrocery, butchery and sweets. Sweets, but not as they would be recognised today.

Things did not improve overnight. But slowly, incrementally, my family’s lot improved. Wages rose, the family became better off. There was more to eat both in quantity and variety. Little luxuries became affordable. We were able to buy a car to go with the van my father used for work, we even got a telephone. We all learned to answer the telephone, ‘Horsham 61618’. As a family we had entered the modern era.

By 1975, the time of the referendum, I was a soldier. I was serving in Germany as part of the occupying British Army of the Rhine. I felt no animosity from our German cousins. I also served in Belgium and France with trips to Holland. Nothing from the population but friendly intercourse. Convivial sharing of food, wine, stories. Things seemed, to me at least, to be normal. Normal that is except for the ever present threat of annihilation from the Communist Block, which really meant the Soviet Union. We all lived under this threat. Some people chose to ignore what the potential was, this was not an option for me and my comrades.

When I returned home after my discharge, things were so much improved in these United Kingdoms. I accept that I am a soft Southerner. I have no links to t’North save by Marriage. I have no knowledge of the hardships of pit life, working in cotton mills, hill farming and the like. I do have experience of factory working, building work, small holding and small business life. It is true that our close connection caused ‘issues’. Increased paperwork blamed by the UK government on Europe. The disappearance of bent cucumbers and bananas. But life was good.

From a personal point of view, there was increased opportunity for me, if I was prepared to work I could be what I wanted to be. My father always saw this as a betrayal of his way of life I think. Certainly when I was born, when I left school, there could have been no thought of university. No thought of a gap year. No thought of travel. No thought of any kind of trade except building. There was no social mobility. I felt like Ronnie Corbett in the famous TW3 sketch with Ronnie Barker and John Cleese. Stuck in a rut. The only difference being I was not satisfied to accept my lot.

I have seen my parents and friends standard of living grow. Friends from school who stayed in trade, seized their opportunities and live a fulfilling life of a higher standard than any of us had any right to hope for. There were some who fell by the wayside. I met the brother of a boy I was at school with. ‘Paddy’ was always a person I shied away from. However, from living in the poorest part of town, coming from a troubled family, in his late 20’s he had done well for himself. Sadly Cancer took him but even weeks before his death he was fulfilling his stand up bookings. I saw him in an Indian restaurant he was joking and a pleasure to spend time with.

Paddy’s brother, that I was at school with, was a painter and decorator. He was less well off than Paddy, he made money but drank it away. My point is that people do have choices. Those people from my past that I remain in contact with have largely seized their opportunities. They have made a good life and have a standard of living that could not have been dreamed of in 1970. Some fell by the wayside but they were handicapped, not by their upbringing or their neighbours but by their own deficiencies.

My own immediate family, all working class people, born into a time of social stagnation, were released by the opportunities created by this country within a broader Europe. I have witnessed the breakdown of rigid social order which I admit began in the sixties, but was assisted greatly by the introduction of a more European way of thinking. Both of my children are successful in different ways. I am proud of my son, he chose not to indulge in further education and has made a good life for himself. My daughter is an academic, she is able to make her own choices. I honestly believe without the influence of Europe she would not be able to live the life she does.

I have always thought of myself as English first and European second. I have revelled in the company of a variety of people from a number of backgrounds. The cross pollination of ideas and beliefs is stimulating and enriching. My friend Salim said to me the day after the referendum, that he was scared. He said that our country is the only country where people are free to practice their own beliefs, religion and are able to express their sexuality without fear. He wondered if this would change.

I too have concerns. Concerns that this country may descend once more to the xenophobic land of the late sixties early seventies. Gangs of WASP’s rampaging the streets fighting anybody they thought might not be pure bred English. That in itself is an oxymoron. We are all out of Africa, by way of the Middle East and Europe.

I have always felt at home in Belgium and Germany. As this country plummets toward isolation my thoughts turn to whether a small flat in Berlin might be a nice place to spend my latter years. A little place in Brugge perhaps, or Dieppe or Lake Garda.

 

 


Apparently witnesses are not always treated well. Here in the UK they can be kept hanging on for months then receive a call at the last minute to inform them that they must be and such a court in a few hours time to give evidence. 

I have been reading an article about a witness in Uganda. There have been a spate of murders in Uganda. The victims are all Muslim clerics. A witness agreed to give evidence. He was beaten and castrated in an effort to persuade him that giving evidence was not a good idea. 

I do not know how difficult it is to persuade witnesses to come forward in Uganda, but I am guessing it is probably harder than in the UK. 

Apparently the Police had removed some of the 31 suspects from the jail in order to force them to give evidence against each other in the trial. In response the Judge has ordered that no suspects should be taken from the jail and if Police or other agents want to speak to the suspects their lawyers would have to be present.

I can see that in the circumstances the lawyers will probably earn their fees.

The final final word.

Posted: June 20, 2016 in Uncategorized

Yes, it is the flip flop referendum. I have previously written about the paucity of information. About my confusion. I am not alone, Benjamin Zepphaniah appears to share my concern.

I see today’s BBC carries reports that a lot of former Brexit’s are now remains. The ‘big names’ include Sir Richard Branson. Apparently he has long been a supporter of Brexit but now, at the 11th hour, feels that he remembers the difficulties of trade pre EU.

‘I am very fearful that if Britain loses the market of 500 million people that it will be catastrophic for Britain’

As a very astute business man how can it have taken this long for him to work it out?

It is my belief that the U turn of those named by auntie BEEB shows how impossible it is to tell truth from lies and that the Pros and Cons have no clue but are reacting with instinct.

Leaders of industry are looking for what is best, perhaps, for those industries, they do not look holistically at the country and the benefits and detriments as a whole.

I am sitting thinking

Posted: June 20, 2016 in Uncategorized

Father’s Day has been and gone. A celebration of the male of the species, another invention of our cousins across the pond. As a child I remember picking flowers for my Mother on Mothering Sunday. I have no early recollection of a Fathers Day. Dad was just expected to get on and ‘do’ and be glad he could.

I am altogether unclear why Fathers Day exists. Generally speaking men expect praise for each and every little thing they do for the family. Mothers on the other hand do more for no praise. The guilt felt by the the male of the species brimmed over, I guess, and meant that on one day of the year the ‘The Little Woman’ could be heaped with praise, then just get on with it for the rest of the year.


In desperation I have reverted to the BEEB to try and glean ‘unbiased’ information about the impending referendum. Here is what I found in the BBC Reality Check, this is by no means all.
I also apologise for the lack of pictures, they wouldn’t copy over for me.
How would a Brexit affect Gibraltar?
The question: Colin asks BBC Radio 4’s PM programme “If the UK were to leave the EU, how would Gibraltar be affected?”
Reality Check verdict: If the UK leaves the EU, so does Gibraltar. Gibraltar cannot reapply to join the EU on its own without being recognised as a sovereign state.
(I think I had probably worked this one out for myself!)
How did EU population of UK grow after 2004?
Two of the three million EU nationals living in the UK have arrived in the decade after 2004, the year that the Czech Republic, Estonia, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia joined the EU.
Well, that will be the statistics then.
What have ratings agencies said about Brexit?
The question: P.M. asks BBC Radio 4’s PM programme: “Have any of the credit rating agencies (eg Moody’s), expressed a view on what effect a Brexit vote would have on our credit rating?”
Reality Check verdict: Standard and Poor’s have said it would probably lower the UK’s long-term credit rating. Fitch said it would review the UK’s credit rating but did not now anticipate a downgrade in the immediate aftermath. Moody’s said a vote to leave could lead to a negative outlook due to greater uncertainty and a weaker economy.
So the experts think there will be some negative impact, unspecified
Can MEPs block David Cameron’s EU deal?

The claim: The European Parliament could block the implementation of the UK deal for the European Union which Prime Minister David Cameron agreed in February 2016. 
Reality Check verdict: MEPs will not get a say on the deal as a whole. They could, in theory, delay or even block the amendments to two regulations which are required to implement part of the deal, but this is unlikely to happen.
This is important, …. Or not.
The question: Julian asks BBC Radio 4’s PM programme “How much has/will the referendum cost?”
Reality Check verdict: The estimated cost of the referendum is £142.4m, according to the written statement to Parliament by the Cabinet Office.
A drop in the ocean, money well spent
The question: Steven asks BBC Radio 4’s PM programme: “In the event of a Brexit, how will this affect the various programmes and therefore the jobs which are currently part-financed by money which the UK receives from the European Social Fund and the European Regional Development Fund?”
Reality Check verdict: Leaving the EU could leave certain sectors vulnerable but Leave campaigners say an exit from the EU would allow funds to be redirected into local projects. A post-Brexit government would need to decide which projects to continue funding.
So if we believe the leave campaign they will spend lots of money on ‘the people’. Do we trust our politicians? 
Remain Claim
Would Brexit mean £18bn of welfare cuts and tax rises?
The claim: The UK leaving the European Union would mean families being hit by £18bn in welfare cuts and tax rises.
Reality Check verdict: This figure is derived from a worst case scenario in an economic model. There are many assumptions that must be accepted to reach it. If you believe that leaving the EU would cut economic growth then it is likely that would mean austerity having to be deeper or longer if the deficit is to be eradicated, although it is impossible to say for sure by how much or how long.
So, we don’t know but there will be a down side.
The claim: Prime Minister David Cameron says as a result of his negotiations in Brussels earlier this year – which has not come into effect yet but will if the UK votes to stay in the European Union – EU citizens who come to the UK but fail to find work will have to leave after six months.  
Reality Check verdict: Existing EU rules allow states to deport citizens from other EU countries if they have become a burden on the welfare system of the state. UK law suggests this occurs after six months of unsuccessfully looking for work, but it is not clear how many people have been removed from the UK on this basis. The UK will have no additional powers in this area as a result of David Cameron’s EU deal in February.  
So actually no difference in or out, it is our decision to enforce or not.
The claim: Chancellor George Osborne said during a “town hall” speech to JP Morgan’s hub in Bournemouth: “Our analysis shows that in the services sector alone 400,000 jobs could be at risk.” 
Reality Check verdict: The 400,000 figure is an extrapolation from the Treasury’s analysis of the effects of Brexit published last week, which is based on an economic model. Whether you believe its outcomes depends on whether you trust its assumptions. 
Is it possible to trust any economic model of any kind, I don’r recall a single model being right in recent history.
Does the world invest £880 a second in the UK?
The claim: Our membership of the EU means the rest of world invests £880 a second in the UK and creates 10 new jobs an hour.
Reality Check verdict: The UK’s EU membership is not the only reason why foreign companies invest here.
Therefore Mr Milliband is selective with his version of the truth, is anyone surprised?
LEAVE Claim
The claim: Douglas Carswell, the UKIP MP and Leave campaigner said on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme “If we were to leave the EU we would start from the position of tariff-free unrestricted trade and we could certainly build on that and improve on that”.
Reality Check verdict: How a new deal would look remains one of the biggest questions over a vote to leave the EU. The UK’s current tariff-free, unrestricted trade deal with the EU would remain in place for at least the first two years of negotiations. No non-EU countries have negotiated tariff-free unrestricted trade with the EU without contributing to the EU budget and allowing unlimited EU migration.
So the full quote is ‘… for two years.’ My money would be on a hike immediately afterwards.
The claim: The Vote Leave campaign is claiming that “UK taxpayers will keep paying for the huge bills caused by the euro crisis” and that “these bills will only increase”.
Reality Check verdict: The UK will not pay for future eurozone bailouts. This has already been agreed by EU leaders. In addition, the UK-EU deal from February, which will be implemented if the UK votes to stay in the EU, reinforces this and states that the UK would be reimbursed if the general EU budget is used for the cost of the eurozone crisis.
How surprised should we be that the outs would also be economical with the truth, to be kind.
The claim: Britain’s contribution to the EU will have to increase because the EU is “living beyond its means” and the European Parliament has asked for more money to spend on dealing with the migrant crisis. The UK will also be liable for additional payments to bail out eurozone countries.
Reality Check verdict: The UK has a veto on the overall size of the EU budget and it’s already been agreed that non-eurozone countries won’t have to pay for future eurozone bailouts.
Oh dear Boris, did you forget this little detail. Of course I entirely accept that the EU position may change and Britain may be deprived of its veto. So again, at the moment we are OK, in the future who knows?
Has the UK been a relatively unsuccessful exporter to EU?
The claim: Since 1992, 27 other countries have been more successful at exporting goods to the single market than the UK has. 
Reality Check verdict: In terms of volumes of sales, the UK has done much better. If success is measured by the percentage increase in the amount exported then he is right. 
Well, well, well, three holes in the ground. So in any given situation statistics can be used to prove anything. Like Climate change is not upon us, or it is. I am bankrupt, or I’m not. Black is white and politicians live in a constant state of grey.
Do I trust the Remain campaign, no.
Do I trust the Leave Train, No.
Would I like impartial factual advice rather than the demonstrable trash, yes.

These are my last words on this topic.

EU response

Posted: June 10, 2016 in Uncategorized

Forty-one years ago, as a fresh faced innocent, too young to have the vote but old enough to die for Queen and country, I stood guard at a Polling Station. The vote entitled residents of a German town duly came to cast their vote in the referendum. My first brush with politics.

I was of course aware of the furore of the times, who could not be. I remember the cries of those older citizens about the change in currency, (1972 I think) what will happen when we no longer have twelve pence to a shilling, twenty shillings to a pound. Race horses bought and sold in guineas, will they be devalued. Decimalisation, no more furlongs, the twenty five yard line gone, to be replaced by a twenty two. Bananas not straight enough, potatoes too knobbly, sausages with insufficient meat.

The winter of discontent, huddled freezing in a house with no heating, no light, no hot water.

The French, in the guise of the war ‘hero’ De Gaulle, the old enemy, blocking the path of Britain’s entry to the Common Market. A man at the end of his prowess still trying to make his outdated mark in a modernising world. Clinging to dreams of French Elan and Empire. In the opposing corner an organ playing sailor of equal vintage, a match made in heaven?
The 1975 vote was, I note (thank you Roughseas), a 2-1 victory for the ‘remain’ supporters. I assume that the working man had not suffered so much at the hands of the early days of this European venture to ensure a no vote. Much the same as now.
Sitting in my own little patch of this green and pleasant land I think of the changes that I hear people complain about. Top of the agenda is migration. My town is ‘awash’ with Jonny foreigner. There are lots of students on summer trips, should they be barred? There are a large number of people who, for ease of reference I will call East European, no slight intended. On the whole, I find these people pleasant, hard-working people. It is true that this particular porker is in a safe and secure job, but the East Europeans I see do not seem to be taking jobs from other people. They are setting up their own small businesses. Of course there are builders the traditional haven of the incomer. I have no personal knowledge of their wages or working conditions. I can only assume that as they are here as of right they are entitled to minimum wage or whatever it is called these days. They are as entitled to complain as any other person so artificially depressed wages?
I do have experience of men being brought to this country to work in car washes, low pay and exploitation follow. Are they depriving your average WASP male of employ? The flip side is that people are, in this sense, trafficked from the UK to other EU countries to work. They are kept in poor housing and the pay is less than it ought to be. Yes, this does really happen but without publicity.
Of course illegals should not be here but that is for the Border Agency, not Europe, to resolve.

People do think about their own pocket. If our once Great nation tries to go it alone there are issues. Our economy is based on the financial sector. Our politicians constantly tell us how great ‘The City’ is for the country. What they mean is they have made the financial sector appealing to foreign investment by favourable tax terms. If we do part ways from our European ‘friends’ we are highly likely to see a reduction in foreign interest in The City. Indeed the press (if we can believe what we read) already report specific companies who are looking to re locate in the event of Brexit. If our financial sector is reduced in profitability, what will take its place?

Britain, stronger in Europe. Except … without freedom of movement life was different. There were some Afro Carribean immigrants, ( I remember the late ‘60’s and 70’s skinhead ‘Paki Bashing’, ‘ go back where you came from’ xenophobia) Chinese, Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi immigrants. Do these people count? They were entitled to British Passports. The ‘blame’ lay not in Europe and its ridiculous laws but to this small Island’s Empirical ambition. I do not have the figures but I strongly suspect that the vast majority of migrants in the UK are from countries that were former colonies. Our own bad behaviour is responsible, not European directives.
Another ‘Evil’ of Europe that I hear people complain of is the insidious Human Rights. Again, is the fault with Europe? I can only really comment from personal knowledge on limited aspects of this. I hear the complaint that we have gone soft on crime, offenders are treated with kid gloves. Well, not in France. They have the same base regulation as the UK. Our Parliament enacted the Human Rights Act. Were they over zealous? Is the way we interpret European directives different to the French interpretation? If either of these propositions are accepted then how is it Europe’s fault? In any event can any sane human decry the principle of fair treatment for all?
If this country has no manufacturing base, no heavy industry or natural resources, there will be no cash for the NHS, or anyone else. Perhaps all of the Doctors and Nurses that work in the NHS from ‘foreign’ backgrounds can be deported when we free ourselves from the slavery of Europe, Vets too as it happens. Who then will care for the sick and elderly? There aren’t enough WASP health professionals to fill the posts that would become vacant.
America, will do as it chooses. It always has, it has no need of little us except as an aircraft carrier and pet poodle.
Of course Europe will always trade with Britain, or anyone else prepared to pay the price which will inevitably rise for those outside ‘The Club’. Perhaps instead of German engineering we can buy Chinese, with all that entails. Support for their oppressive draconian regime, lack of quality control ….
Europe, as all things, evolve. I sometimes wonder how much man has evolved really, greed, anger, murder and mayhem. But Europe expands, it becomes different. If it is thought we pay more than our share then surely, once again, that is our fault for failing to negotiate, or renegotiate, a fair portion, both to and from the central coffers.
The reason that no-one is telling the masses what we get from the EU is because it probably has not been quantified or recorded. This would also be our fault. Farming and agriculture receive grants, I believe. There has been support for deprived areas (yes we have those although less than when we were going it alone). There are a multiplicity of grants for all sorts of things, fishing, preservation of tourist attractions. Holiday makers from the near continent appear to me to have increased over recent years judging by the amount of French, German and low country number plates.
Directives may be imposed from Europe but need to be enshrined in UK legislation. If our Mother of Democracy cannot create decently worded legislation protecting workers then there is no hope. It is not so much Europe to blame as the capitalist system in place. The Etonian club who keep their boot firmly on the neck of the working man.
Somewhere, buried in the dark recesses of what passes for a memory, there is a shadowy memory of a time when there were trade unions. They opposed an ‘economic’ decision by the then government. Well actually it wasn’t the government at all, it was a single woman with a dream of being the strongest man in Britain. Thatcher wielded her battle axe like some modern day Amazon smiting the evil Scargill, breaking the unions. They have never really had any power since. Was this driven by Europe? No it was one woman’s personal wet dream. Again not Europe rather our home grown authorities. Bailed Out Bankers, wasn’t that Dave and his mates, again home grown.

With all due respect to Roughseas,(in some ways my mentor) who I am sure is not as old as this porker, 55 million people procreating will increase the population. Working where I do, a place to remain nameless, it can be seen that ‘people’ can breed like rabbits starting as young as 12 and continuing into their 60’s with the aid of science.

Of course there is an effect from migration. I question whether it is disproportionate.