Monday, April 22, 2019

Why the Brexit debate has taken on such a hate-filled rhetoric.

I have been following the debate on Brexit with mounting dismay and concern in  recent days.

Last week I made a contribution to a FaceBook page posted by the European Parliament. encouraging EU citizens in the UK to register to vote if they wanted to vote in the forthcoming EU elections. I posted a mild supporting statement because I want the EU Parliament to encourage men and women of good faith and best intentions to become EU Parliamentarians. I want them to put a spoke in the wheel of the emergent neo-Nazis and extreme right-wing radicals that are being increasingly thrown up in Europe, and whose hate-filled views and septic memes are poisoning the well of debate.

Recall, I said the EU parliament.

If the UK gets to vote in this election, I do not imagine that anyone elected to sit in the EU Parliament will be members for very long, much as I would like them to be. I fear that the UK will be dragged out of the EU by the swivel-eyed anti-EU nutters who increasingly populate our debates in Parliament and on social media.

The page suddenly became the target for an attack from the denizens of extremist opinion and angry, irrational rhetoric, the like of which I have never before experienced. It was as if every flag-waving, tattooed, pit-bull owning, motor-cycle riding, and every other form of uninformed right-wing political fantasist decided to air their lack of logic, their factual ignorance about the EU, and, yes, let's admit it, their downright visceral hatred of Brussels and everything that spells European Union.

It was a truly horrible experience. I don't mind personal attacks, I just ignore them. If ignorant and uneducated "...graduates from the school of hard knocks and the university of life...", (which a lot of them proudly claim to be, parading their uneducated ignorance like a badge of honour) want to bad mouth me for expressing my views, well, so be it. They simply make themselves look ridiculous and ill-informed for anyone with a modicum of intelligence to identify. But the levels of sheer hatred and vituperation that some of these Neanderthals voiced was truly awful, and did not bode well for the safe future of this country or of Europe. 

Most of them appeared to parrot the same memes of support for that charlatan, Nigel Farage and his new Brexit Party. None of them appear to have realised that the new entity is a private vehicle for Farage and his galere, over which he has absolute control, and over which he has absolutely no intention of allowing hoi polloi to exercise any control. I wish them joy of the worm, Farage will soon disabuse them of any sense of honour or dignity if he gets his way.

I am far more concerned with the level of hatred and vileness more generally which is flooding into public life and debate presently. Where is this level of rhetoric coming from, who is generating this 'Dad's Army' level of swivel-eyed and misplaced Imperialistic nonsense?

Some of the blame has to be laid at the door of some of our more egocentric MP's. Men like Jacob Rees-Smugg, parading his deliberately mal-manipulated logic, or Mark Francois with his war-like rhetoric, identifying the fact that despite being too young for WWII, he wants to start WWIII so he can get a walk-on part.

Most recently, Nicky Morgan, M.P, a sensible, logical and caring woman, has accused veteran Euro-hater and antediluvian roadblock to progress, Sir William Cash for fuelling violence with a 'vain and bitter' article. This is a very important allegation, because it identifies how the ignorant and the uninformed can be encouraged to engage in vile imprecations, incited by the rabid mouthings and the hysterical language employed by a senior MP, albeit one who has revelled in his anti-Europeanism for many years.

Senior Eurosceptic Cash has been accused of fuelling violence against politicians after he accused Theresa May of "abject surrender" and "capitulation" to the EU. Just reading this use of language, one could be forgiven for believing that Cash and his flag-waving band of false patriots believe we are at war with our colleagues and friends inside Europe. No wonder the Little Englanders and the loony-tune Brexiteer tendency feel empowered to parade their ignorance, and vile hatreds. 

Former cabinet minister Nicky Morgan generously said Sir Bill's words were "not helpful" while former Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt accused the veteran MP, a senior member of the European Research Group of anti-EU Tories, of a publishing "a vain and bitter article".

Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, the house magazine of Euro-haters and the headbanger-brigade membership, Sir Bill compounded the wartime memes and the adoption of his Captain Mainwaring persona when he said this was an "abject surrender" and accused the prime minister of "capitulation" and "appeasement".

His comments were strongly condemned by pro-EU Tories.

Ms Morgan, a former education secretary, told BBC Radio 4's Today: "I understand that Sir Bill Cash has written an article in which there are all sorts of phrases about betrayal and capitulation and all the rest of it.

"As my colleague Alistair Burt has pointed out, this kind of language is not helpful. It's not the kind of language that our councillors or frankly any normal people would use."

Nicky Morgan, who has previously received death threats, said she saw a link between the type of comments made by Sir Bill and violence directed against MPs. I say its influence extends even further and influences public debate more generally. Her answers are instructive because they point up the connection between these silly and juvenile remarks by someone who should know better, and the kind of pure nastiness being spouted by supporters of the new Brexit Party.

Asked if she believed there was a connection, she said: "I do. I think it's been shown that the language that MPs or campaigners, mainly in favour of Brexit, are using is stoking up other people, often who are sitting at home watching all this stuff and it gets them really, really angry and fired up and then they say things that they would never say face to face."

She added: "Language is important and the One Nation group of MPs that I am co-chairing has said very clearly that we should all think about the language that we are using in these debates. We need to remember that politics is about much more than Brexit."

Mr Burt, who resigned as a Foreign Office minister last month in order to vote against the government on Brexit, wrote to Sir Bill on Twitter: "A vain and bitter article focused on your prime minister, with your opinions expressed in words such as mendacity, surrender, betrayal, appeasement, bended knee...Does it ever cross your mind what you're contributing to?"

I am afraid that Cash and his satraps know precisely what they are doing. These are dog-whistle words, and he and his  Ton-Ton Macoutes know that they play well with the narrow-minded and blinkered false patriots who are now flooding to support the Faragista circus of clowns and wibbly-wobbly men.

Let us always remember the words of Dr Johnson when he succinctly observed that (False) patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel. How many of these new Brexit party supporters will turn out to be simply misinformed and mistaken or downright scoundrels, only time and Brexit will tell!

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Armistice Day 2018

I have watched the service from the Cenotaph and I have also seen the various ceremonies taking place around Europe.

I have watched while old enemies have engaged in services of reconciliation and have held out the hands of peace to each other.

I have listened to the words of solace and heard the songs of peace, and if there is one thing I take from all these images and sounds it is the huge importance of the concept of European harmony and integration.

The concept of Europe has kept us safe and secure since 1945 and it will continue to operate as a bastion of hope and understanding for many years to come.

I take no note of the idiot cynics who argue that it is not Europe but NATO which has held back the tide of new wars. NATO is mostly a creature of the USA, and we all know, particularly under the regime of the orange-stained golfing buffoon who presently sits in the White House, what that means. I ignore the mad Little Englanders who in their insecurity as British people, feel they must insult and confront every other race ,religion and creed which seeks to make a home in the British Isles. 

After over 40 years of EU membership, I thought we might have come to terms with our European status. We have played an important role in Europe, and we have only been besmirched and let down by the crazies in UKIP who cannot see the EU as being anything other than a corrupting influence, draining our British identity, and who feel the need to insult every other European politician, because it makes them feel big and important, which they surely are not.

I have news for the Faragistas and the loony-tunes  racist Ukippers. Being proud members of the EU hasn't made any Frenchmen less French. The Germans have not felt any less German in their status, it is just that they have worn their European identity like a second coat, identifying its ambitions whie revelling in their own identities.

Watching Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron holding each other's arms today, resting their heads in symbolic peace on each other's shoulders has made me realise even more how important the European continuum is and why we British must, even more than before, continue to make common cause with our European friends and relations.

Those who know my work and writing know that I am an unreformed European. I believe in a Federal Europe, a common tax-base, a European armed service (if that is what is wanted), a European Intelligence service, and a common cause in information sharing and intelligence gathering and dissemination. I want to enhance Europe, I want to enlarge its remit, I want to make more common cause with its police agencies, its political thinkers and its philosophical leaders/

In the Press yesterday, an important piece in the Guardian lambasted the British approach to Europe, particularly in the way in which we are behaving like poltroons in our negotiating position. In a scathing critique, the author state;

"...It is often unclear if the UK is trying harder to hoodwink the EU or itself. Ministers have repeatedly called for things they must know to be impossible. Davis promised that a trade deal would be ready to sign next March; May insisted free movement in its current form would end during the transition period; and now Raab declares that he can unilaterally terminate a backstop that both sides agreed will last “unless and until another solution is found”. In sacrificing trust, we have also sacrificed credibility. After two long years, the government not only appears duplicitous, but demonstrably out of its depth.
Brexit’s slow unravelling was both predictable and avoidable. Officials frequently remark that if they had trusted the UK’s motives and competence, they would have afforded the government more leeway. But instead of building bridges, the UK quickly burned them. The EU now suspects the government will do everything it can to wriggle out of the backstop, and is determined to thwart Britain’s faithlessness with a watertight withdrawal treaty. If, in the final weeks, the EU is holding our feet to the fire, it’s because we have shown it that it must..."
Our politicians have sought to hoodwink us, and behaved with such duplicitous mendacity that they are no longer to be given any consideration. They cannot be trusted, they are consummate liars and they have relinquished any right to support or belief. They have wasted every important opportunity to negotiate a decent outcome of the Brexit nausea. 
We must hold out for a permanent solution to this madness, so that we can finally put this insanity to rest and finally and for ever manifest our commitment to a lasting European status and membership, the centenary acknowledgements of the end of the Great War and the lasting peace and prosperity that our European membership has delivered, demand no less.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Why David Davis and his Tory mates make such piss-poor negotiators in the Brexit affairs.

An old merchant was lying on his death-bed, and he called his only son to his side.

"Son" he said, " I am going to teach you the most important thing I have ever known in life. When a man comes to you to do business he wants to screw you for as much as he can. You, in turn don't want to pay any more than you absolutely need to. You ask him his price. He says 'Ten'. He means Eight, so he wants Six, so its worth Four, so you bid him Two..."

The other night on 'Question Time', you know that dreadfully slanted and biased, pro-Right-Wing Tory soapbox, usually packed with UKIPpers and other swivel-eyed Brexiteers, Nadim Zahawi, Tory M.P and well-known rent-a-quote opined on the way in which the Brexit affair should be being negotiated. He prayed in aid, so he said, his years of negotiating as a businessman, and in so doing he, like so many other Tories displayed his total ignorance of the true nature of the Brexit discussions.

Tory businessmen always seem to think that life is a simple process of doing deals, and that their commercial expertise fits them well for negotiating the UK exit policy. Their uni-linear minds only think one way and they believe that by holding their cards close to their chest and bullying the other side by threats of walking away from the negotiating table, that this will somehow bring the deal home, advantageously to them.

David Davis maintains this line in commercial tarradiddle all the time. Ask him why we cannot be shown the contents of the so-called 50 secret dossiers (which in truth I do not believe exist) and he says we mustn't display our negotiating hand. Ask him about the price for our divorce bills and he says that if we disclosed that figure, then the Europeans would only ask for more. And so it goes.

When we come to dissect the UK approach to the Brexit negotiations, we quickly come to the glaring conclusion that we don't have any real proposals to make at all, and we are just simply waiting for the EU team to lay their hand on the table, so we can find out what they want us to stump up, and then hope to finesse our way round it.

In so doing, our people forget that it is we, the UK, who are asking to leave the EU, we are the ones conducting the proposals for our case to be given a fantastically beneficial deal, but without belonging to the club or making any meaningful contribution, and that therefore it is for us to lay out our suggestions and ideas, and convince the EU team that we have a good case for them to answer.

But no, like a rabid dog in a manger, and on the basis that this is super-effective negotiating expertise, we have hidden our hands and refused to make serious proposals, so much so that it is increasingly infuriating the EU team, who feel that they are being required to negotiate blindly.

And what we are seeing are the usual predictable tactics of the British businessman in a commercial deal, waiting to see who will blink first.

But this isn't a commercial sale agreement, and there are significant differences between the two concepts.

First of all, the EU side doesn't want us (in principle) to leave at all. They would far prefer us to stay as members. So they don't come to the table with any desire to win or lose. If we want to go, well they won't try to stop us, they can't, so no sweeteners there are possible, but they won't lift  a finger to help us. So there is no need for them to be accommodating and move towards making our decisions any easier. This is what so many whining, ugly Brit 'Leavers' don't seem to comprehend. Davis and his team keep moaning on about why the EU  are not being more flexible and coming round to discussing a new trading agreement, but why should they? They don't need to, they already have a superb trading agreement with us, and nothing they put in its place will be any better, and for them it will be a loss-making deal, so what possible motivation do they have for having any discussions at all about a new trading deal?

Davis grizzles on about the EU needing to start talks about Trade, but until such time as we have answered their outstanding questions about the management of our legal commitments to them, what motivation do they have to believe that we will keep our word?

So, secondly, before we can leave, we have to settle all our debts. These are legally-binding agreements we have already made as members in full and good standing, and upon which the EU has already made commercial and financial forward commitments. Those will have to be paid.

How much are they? Well we should be able to calculate them to within the odd million or two because we will know how much we have committed to, and this really shouldn't be a difficult decision or process.

Theresa 'No Mates' made a derisory first proffer at the Florence meeting, but it was so transparently stupid and unrealistic that no-one in Brussels was going to take her seriously. It was the political equivalent of bidding 'Two'! Everyone present knew that, no-one was fooled, no-one was impressed and all it did was reinforce the image of Britain being a nation of skinflints who would renege on the deal at the end!

More difficult will be the decision about the Irish border, but some sensible and workmanlike discussions with the Irish Prime Minister should be capable of coming to a general agreement in principle, upon which we could leave the civil servants on both sides of the divide to finalise the small print in detail, after all, it's what they are good at. The Eire Government needs to be kept firmly on-side because we don't want them vetoing any final deal that might eventually be put on the table.

The future of EU citizens in the UK and the other way round should be the work of 5 minutes discussion. How long does it take to say 'everything will remain exactly as it was for those citizens on either side  of the Channel who were in situ as of (date to be agreed)"? As this is still an issue about EU status, it is natural that the relevant Court of Arbitration should be the European Court. Even David Davis is now willing to agree that issue in certain cases.

I know I have perhaps (over) simplified these points somewhat, but not a lot. But Theresa No Mates and David Davis have turned these discussions into a 5 ring circus and they are still dragging their feet, making this country look vacillatory and stupid.

If we had decent sensible commercial calculations based on logic, fact and bounded by law, then armed with these  figures we could begin to have sensible talks with Brussels.

We have lost sight of our end-game in all this. David Davis is so keen to keep on trying to pretend that he has got bigger 'cojones' than his opposite numbers. he keeps on bidding 'Two', and is then surprised when M.Barnier tells him to 'fuck off' , or whatever the equivalent phrases is in educated French ('Va te faire foutre). when in fact he needs a totally different strategy altogether.

You see, Davis is already well and truly hoist by his own petard.

The EU know we want to leave, and our stupid politicians keep telling the world we are leaving. They now even know the date on which we are going (maybe we could tell them the time as well and leave them in no doubt whatsoever!

This is the negotiating equivalent of going into a deal meeting and saying to the other side that if we don't have the deal we want by 4.00pm we have to leave. If the other side doesn't want to deal and is in no hurry to agree, then we can go whistle up our kilts for any deal at all.

This is so stupid I find it incredible that it was ever mentioned, but of course we started the clock ticking when we exercised Article 50. We didn't need to do that, it was a futile gesture, but it was done to keep the Brexiteers, the Little Englanders and above all the new 'bastards' in the Right-Wing Tory ranks happy, but from that moment, trying to negotiate this deal in the same way as buying a factory or a hotel chain was deeply flawed.

If we really wanted to come out of this mess with any semblance of credibility, we should first of all have to have started off by finding a way to morally commit the EU into wanting to do a deal with us. The EU prides itself on being on the moral high ground and they would not want the world to view them as morally corrupt.

If I were negotiating this deal, I would have kept away from the exercise of Article 50 until such time as I had all the best possible answers to the burning questions that I knew the EU would ask, money, Irish question and EU citizens rights. I would have made sure I had the best possible views on the divorce bill, crunched by accountants, lawyers, academics, main businessmen, CBI etc, etc, and then, and only then, when I had both a best case scenario and a worst case scenario, with which I could live with dignity, would I have started negotiations.

Within the first week I would have informed Brussels, formally and in writing what my proffer was to settle the divorce bill, and I would have made it clear that the amount payable would be settled on the last day of the Article 50 process, but conditional upon and when and only when, we had a commercial deal that suited both sides.

If they wanted to haggle, well I would know how far my worst case scenario could extend, but I would have made it clear that the deal was not intended to be open to too much negotiation. If they then started to haggle needlessly, then I would know they were not serious and I could hold out on the tabled offer. As time slipped by, the Europeans would have found themselves under such pressure from member states to settle that a settlement would have followed, of that I am certain. Once that had been achieved, they would have had nothing more to hold out for and the rest would eventually have become achievable. Perhaps not in every detail, but to a very large extent.

The beauty of this model is that we the UK could not have been accused  of being vacillatory nor unwilling to deal, and we would have been seen as being strong and purposeful (I deliberately avoided the word 'stable').

As it is, we are now royally fucked because we have told so many lies and have beaten around the bush for so long that the EU does not believe us.

Getting this deal done in principle should have been achievable within a couple of weeks, following this model. This would not mean that all the details which still needed to be ironed out would have been completed, but that will be the case now, in any event, and we haven't even reached a workable deal yet, and show no signs of so doing.

My point is that the Tory Government and its dinosaur-like members have always been difficult about our European membership. To these men and women who are so keen to see us crash out and burn, they have always hated Europe. They are the direct descendants of John Major's 'Bastards' from the Maastricht negotiations. Any sign of being willing to work hand in glove with Europe is seen as a sign of masculine political weakness, so our negotiators have to grind the EU noses in the dirt, kicking them in the balls all the while, screaming all the while' '...There, take that you dirty foreigner and let that be a lesson to you..." 

They just don't seem to realise that the people they are really hurting are the rest of us Brits who don't want to leave the EU, who want to stay and work within the best commercial arrangement we have had in this country in my lifetime, and of which we could have been the de facto leader, if they did but have the sense to see.

We must continue to stand up to them, call out their lies, and stick out for an outcome which still leaves us full members of the EU. A majority of people canvassed in the country now think that leaving the EU will be an expensive mistake and there is still much time to go. Never mind the 'will of the people', this was another lie based upon fraud, falsehoods and deceits, and manufactured by a small coterie of wealthy men who want to damage the traditional Parliamentary democracy in this country.

We are all Europeans now, it's time for the Little Englanders and the swivel-eyed Brexiteers to grow up.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

The Little Englanders now intend to blackmail the EU.

Ian Duncan Smith and his fellow Brexiteer loonies are now showing signs of real desperation.

Part of Theresa 'No Mates' difficulties in negotiating the exit from the EU is the number of competing voices she is forced to listen to, all giving her conflicting advice. Being the vacillatory dodderer she is, she is incapable of ignoring those, like the Tory dinosaurs, Duncan Smith, Gove, Bo-Jo, Redwood, Rees-Smug, et al, and she ends up being torn every which way but loose.

In the Saturday Telegraph of 11th November 2017, Bo-Jo Hairdo is to be heard pontificating again on the size of the divorce settlement. Anxious not to be seen to be being openly contemptuous of the feeble leader, Bo-Jo's words are dressed up as being those of his 'allies' or his 'friends' although, 'as every fool know', these are drips of pure venom straight from the Bo-Jo's fangs.

Britain, we are instructed, in the siren tones usually adopted by our useless Foreign Secretary, must not cave in to EU demands for a bigger Brexit divorce bill.

These bullying requirements come at the time when Theresa 'No Mates' is preparing to increase the UK's offer to the EU, after her initial proffer was considered to be insufficient. The EU, so the Torygraph advises us, wants at least €60 billion.

This is where it begins to get interesting, so follow closely.

The talk of the figure in the region of €60 billion has been in the public domain for quite a few months now, it is no stranger. It reflects a round figure of what the UK would owe to the EU in terms of its financial commitments, already agreed to, and to which the EU is committed in terms of future liabilities. We are not talking about some spurious sum of money which the EU wishes to prize out of the UK's fingers, but a financial commitment, freely undertaken as part of our continuing EU membership.

Bo-Jo Hairdo, the bumbling Foreign Secretary who always allows his loose mouth to rule his judgement wants the UK to 'hold its nerve' ahead of the December summit. What does this  piece of schoolboy doggerel advice mean in these circumstances? After all, at Eton they speak of little else when the wall game is underway.

One of Bo-Jo's army of allies (sic) opines; '...You don't pay your bill at a restaurant halfway through: you pay at the end. That's sensible business...' (Clearly a Bullingdon Club member)!

Well, maybe, but at least in a restaurant the owner knows what your bill is likely to be and he doesn't expect you to pay until the end.

Taken together, we are now able to begin to construe the real motive behind these posturings, which is that the Little Englanders are hoping to blackmail the EU in doing a better deal for the UK over the free trade agreement we have repeatedly been promised we are going to get out of the EU. They are now getting desperate because they are finally seeing that the EU ain't gonna give them any better free trade terms when we leave, and why should they. 

This has been the big lie all along, and one which has been repeatedly parroted by all the slack-jawed Little Englanders and the swivel-eyed Brexiteers. I mean, even the vast majority of the rump of dumb 'Leavers' who want so desperately to believe they will be better off outside the EU, will have some difficulty in reconciling this triumph of hope over experience, when they realise that there is no free trade agreement waiting for us with the 27 other member states who have stayed loyal.

Why would or should there be? You don't stick two fingers up to the club, tell them repeatedly what a bunch of inefficient useless tossers they are, and then walk away with all the financial benefits you had before, and get them for nothing.

I never believed that piece of lunacy from the start and I don't believe it now.

Well, returning to the blackmail argument, the Brexiteers now realise that they have to start getting rough with Brussels, if they don't show more signs of being willing to compromise over the free trade deal. Up to now, M.Barnier and his team have stuck closely to the script of expecting the UK to finalise their commitment to their side of the leaving bargain. David Davis has dragged his feet and obfuscated, claiming he cannot show his hand, and praying in aid a host of what I now suspect are illusory files and dossiers, all of which tactics have been designed to buy him time.Time to try and put pressure on the EU in the fear that the UK will not pay our full and legally-committed share of the bill as outlined above.

There is some bizarre belief among the swivel eyed and the slack jawed that the EU is absolutely bowel-looseningly desperate for our money, and that more threats of non-payment and pressure will cause them to cave in.

These are the arguments of the British bully, the playground swaggerer, the playing fields of Eton adherent, and it is not true!

But still they promote it. In the same piece from the Saturday Reactograph, it is reported thus;

"...Tory Eurosceptics have warned the Brexit Divorce bill is 'critical' and that the UK cannot afford to give any more ground. Ian Duncan Smith, Tory M.P and former Conservative leader" (although not the brightest bulb in the box) "...told the Daily Telegraph...; "   '...They think we blinked in Florence and now they believe we will blink again. We must not blink...'.

'...The one big hand we have is money. They are desperate. If we give away that we give away any chance of getting a good free trade agreement. The two get decided at the same time...'

'...The money is critical, we cannot give any more ground on this. Tory Eurosceptics are getting really unnerved by this. It is stretching them to breaking...'

Well, there it is, the Tory Dad's Army of Eurohaters is in a panic mode and believes, in their monocular way, that the only thing they have left is to try and blackmail the EU by threatening them that the talks will break down.

What they don't get is that there is no downside to the EU if this were to happen. True they will lose out on a voluntary payment from the UK, but then they can probably pursue at least some of that through the Courts, while the implications would play havoc with the UK reputation.

So, come on Davis. Grow up and man up, and sit down with the EU team and make a sensible binding financial proffer which they can live with. Stop farting around thinking you can finesse a better deal out of them by threatening them, Michel Barnier knows what kind of man you are, he probably knows how much you drink and he knows exactly how far you will go before you roll over. Take the wind out of his sails, make an economically sensible offer and put it in writing. Stop listening to Bo-Jo and the other Euromadmen and make up your own mind.

Then, when you finally fuck up, you will have no-one to blame but yourself,

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Brexit campaigners! - Don’t be fooled by Bo-Jo, the contemporary Don Quixote.

Those who advocate voting ‘Out’ of the EU, so often damage their cause beyond measure by their ignorant and ill-tempered demeanour on social networks. The intemperate language they adopt, the abuse they hurl at EU supporters, the defensive arguments they promote, all demonstrate an absence of a fuller understanding of the wider issues, and portray many of these otherwise probably genuine people as a bunch of swivel-eyed fantasists. 

However, in so many cases, they are ill-advised and factually bereft, because they are very badly influenced by people like Boris Johnson and other contemporary political EU-deniers, who use the wider referendum campaign as an opportunity to disseminate a wide range of self-serving lies, deceits, fantasies and half-digested theories, masquerading as fully-formed policy, but whose motives are entirely selfish and do not bear even the scantest searching review.

One has only to observe the posturings of people like Boris Johnson, Jacob Rees-Mogg, William Cash, Liam Fox et al, to appreciate the degree of personal self interest given to these protestations. The first recognition is that they are all wealthy men, whose own financial interests are unlikely to be deeply undermined by their desertion of the EU cause. 

They have other agendas, in Johnson’s case, he is so desperate to become the next Tory Prime Minister, that he will do anything, espouse any cause, adopt any policy, if he believes it will ingratiate him with the Tory rump of mean-minded, mealy-mouthed, selfish and bigoted supporters of the right-wing ‘Little Englander’ tendency..

Nick Cohen, writing in the Guardian excoriates Bo-Jo and calls him a liar and a con-man. He says;

“...If countries get the politicians they deserve, the possibility of a Johnson premiership suggests that the British are now a nation of charlatans. No one who has studied him thinks he is telling the truth when he says he believes that it is in our best interests to leave the European Union. The reason why he must deceive reveals Johnson’s low character as clearly as his casual mendacity...”

Later Cohen points out Bo-Jo’s other shortcomings, identifying that; 

“...Any man with a functioning sense of shame would have worried about his long record of supporting the EU. As late as February, Johnson was saying that leaving would embroil

 “...the government for several years in a fiddly process of negotiating new arrangements, so diverting energy from the real problems of this country...”. And so it would. Elsewhere he acknowledged that we would not get free trade without accepting EU regulation and immigration...” 

I have adopted the image of Don Quixote for Bo-Jo, as a means of illustrating his tendency to see enemies where none exist, but which nonetheless, permits him to imagine them to serve his own ends. Cervantes describes how Quixote tilts at windmills which he imagines are giants.

“...Just then they came in sight of thirty or forty windmills that rise from that plain. And no sooner did Don Quixote see them that he said to his squire, "Fortune is guiding our affairs better than we ourselves could have wished. Do you see over yonder, friend Sancho, thirty or forty hulking giants? I intend to do battle with them and slay them. With their spoils we shall begin to be rich for this is a righteous war and the removal of so foul a brood from off the face of the earth is a service God will bless."

"What giants?" asked Sancho Panza.

"Those you see over there," replied his master, "with their long arms. Some of them have arms well nigh two leagues in length."

John Major had a word for these kind of people, coined in his nightmare moment during the debate on the Maastricht Treaty, he called them ‘bastards’, and he was right.

These people are happy to take everything out of the Union which they think will profit the themselves, but they do not want to part with one brass razoo, or make one penny contribution which they perceive might be of any benefit to any other EU citizens. That is why the debate so often polarises around the amount of money we pay to Brussels as our contribution, but never seems to recognise the amount we get back from the EU in wider benefits. 

The debate is all about ‘us’, it is rarely if ever about ‘all of us’. It is a discussion centred in the narrowest self-interest and a refusal to consider the wider benefit of other people in Europe with whom we must co-exist, co-operate and correspond if we anticipate a beneficial future, and it is an argument arrayed by a group of people who seem to know the cost of everything, but the value of nothing.

This state of mind flows over into discussions of wider policy and distorts the ambitions of those who want to leave.

On 11th March 2016, Bo-Jo, when talking about EU trade options, opined; “...What I think we should do is strike a new free trade deal, along the lines of what Canada has just achieved...”

However, within days, on 23rd March 2016, having realised that the Canadian model had significant drawbacks, the great windmill charger was saying; “...I don’t want to imitate the Canadian deal...”

Well, what is it Boris, make your mind up, man. Your legions of supporters are hanging on your every word!

What politicians of this type forget is that their intemperate mouthings become perceived ‘words of wisdom’ to a certain kind of voter, and those who espouse the ‘Let’s all leave now’ brand of political chicanery, take these words at face value. And in so doing, they are very badly served.

Johnson and his fellow travellers should realise, (indeed I suspect that they know only too well) that by creating a set of misguided expectations and raising a number of false flags among the intellectually challenged, they will create a distorted political agenda, which will be seized upon, and used as justification for even louder demands for leaving the EU.

Take such concepts as ‘securing our borders’, or ‘retaining our own sovereignty’! 

Do those who parrot these hackneyed old mantras truly believe that any meaningful changes will be generated by clinging to these worn-out shibboleths? Sir Richard Dearlove, former head of MI6, albeit 17 years ago, has said that by being out of the EU we would have greater control over our ability to deport criminals. 

What utter tosh, only last week the Home Office was forced to admit, in a report from MPs on the Committee of Public Accounts, who said there had been a "complete failure" by the Home Office to deal with the problem of removing foreign criminals from this country. This has got nothing to do with the EU, it is our own home grown failure to deal with the problem through lack of staff and political incompetence and it is about to get worse as the Government withdraws even further funding from the Borders Agency.

Politicians who continue to use these phrases, perpetuating these untruths, as a means of dragging in support from the uncertain and the insecure, are laying the groundwork for future disappointment and disillusion, but why should they care, as long as they get their own way?

And that is the major problem. Our whole debate on the EU Referendum is badly distorted and ill-informed. There is great disagreement over even the smallest issues, we cannot discuss our future inside or outside the EU because of the polarised attitudes of the Brexit promoters who form opinions and deliver judgements based upon no knowledge, information, facts or logic. They can do no less, because they have no evidence on which to act or judge, so everything they postulate must be the worst form of hypothesis, or worse, prejudice, inflamed and inflated by the intemperate words of the mendacious politicians who seek to use the voters to do their dirty work for them in the hope that they will deliver a result which while it may be of end-use to the politicos, will serve no useful purpose for the individual voter in the longer run..

Those of us who keenly promote the EU status-quo do so because we know what we get from our membership. We have got 40 years of experience to work on and we can recite the benefits that accrue to us through our membership. We have facts, and knowledge, the Brexiteers have an empty vacuum, and in that unpopulated space, confusion is inevitably generated.

Through all this uncertainty and doubt, this huge confusion exists in the minds of many hundreds of thousands of people. Every night the news programmes are crammed with commentators debating and disagreeing. The politicians slink around the studios, pushing their competing agendas, more and more conflicting statements are made, the tv pundits float more and more misleading assertions as a means of promoting ‘edgy’ debate, and the public are left even more confused than ever.

This doubt is not just felt in the UK, it is also felt, most keenly, in the EU. There is almost universal unwillingness among our other fellow EU members to see the UK leave the Union, but at the same time, there is significant dissatisfaction and frustration at the British Brexit posturing over their future membership status.

In the last week I wrote an opinion piece in which I pointed out that it was not surprising that at a time of significant upheaval, when ordinary people’s minds were being distracted by this hugely unnecessary disagreement over our EU membership, and that the communities of the EU more generally were being conflicted by these debates, that ISIS terrorists should choose to ‘seize the time’ and engage in a series of ‘Situationist’ style outrages and attacks.

Terrorists are arch masters at exploiting insecurity and indecision. Their actions are not necessarily intended to have any specific pre-programmed outcome, they will, in many cases, conduct operations simply to amplify instability, to take advantage of any perceived lacuna in security, to exploit any weakness or agitate any form of distraction in the body politic.

It is done with the primary aim of asserting their autonomy, of demonstrating their ability to hit at any place and at any time. In a way, terrorism of this type is defined as ‘theatre’, designed to send a series of messages and to sow the seeds of confusion, doubt and uncertainty, and these latest outrages in Paris and Brussels have certainly succeeded in achieving those ends. 

I have no qualm in asserting that the level of disinformation and political chicanery which has been practised by unscrupulous politicians who have deliberately manipulated the mind-sets of hundreds of thousands of British citizens, has had a direct knock-on effect in rendering a level of instability and uncertainty to thrive and this has led directly to a situation where we are placed at greater risk because of the likelihood of terrorists seeking to exploit the unsettled situation created by these unscrupulous politicians, around an issue which is of such importance to so all of us.

The Referendum offered by David Cameron is completely unnecessary, and has merely been introduced as a feeble exercise by an uncertain politician in a futile attempt to get his right-wing rump of backbenchers off his case. It has backfired spectacularly and we are now faced with a period of huge instability, insecurity and uncertainty, pending the outcome.
The end result will be to generate even more silliness.

It is in circumstances such as these that our politicians must realise that their casual words cannot be sprayed around indiscriminately. They influence people, and in a febrile atmosphere, where there is very little information or evidence on which to make an informed decision about leaving the EU, they owe a greater duty of care to choose their words with caution, and not unnecessarily arouse false expectations.

Listening to so many of these commentators talking about the UK status in Europe after Brexit. I get the overriding impression of a man deciding to divorce his wife, all the while congratulating himself that he will not have to pay her any more housekeeping money, which he will be able to spend on himself. 

The Judge, not unreasonably points out that while this may be true, he’s going to award the wife a similar sum for maintenance, which the man must pay, if he wants to see his children “What’s more”, says the judge, you must stay on your side of the fence and if you want to go to your wife’s house to see your children, you will have to get special permission in writing to be allowed in before you go. However, if strangers and friends of your wife want to come to your house, you will still have to answer the door and spend time and effort deciding if they can come in, which will take time and cost you more money.

The man says; “...Well, I will be financially worse off by getting this divorce, I will gain no benefit...”

“...Yes...” says the judge. Perhaps you should have thought of that before you started this nonsense in the first place. 

Perhaps those who are campaigning so hard for the rest of us to leave our responsibilities in the EU, should first consider the words of the poet John Donne when he wrote in 1624;
“...No man is an Island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the Continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friends or of thine own were; any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee...”     John Donne, Meditation XVII

The politicians are doing none of us any good service by their weasel words and their fantasies. They are causing great dissension, and they do not have the best interests of UK plc in mind!

Let us debate the EU issue with all the powers at our disposal, but let us do so armed with facts, with informed views and with logic. Let us do so above all, with good grace, and with good manners.

If you are unable to adopt these simple requirements, please do not bother to engage on this site, I respect your right to hold your views, but I don’t have to read them on my own web page. If you want to be abusive, rude and intemperate, then go and do it on another page of your own.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

We must ensure that the facts about our EU membership are described fairly.

“...I hold there is no sin but ignorance...”  Christopher Marlowe

This EU Referendum campaign is being marked out by the extraordinarily high level of lies, distortions and untruths being peddled by the agents of BREXIT, and these are having a deleterious effect upon the minds of those who are ignorant of the facts and short of proper information on which to make up their minds.

This is one of the major concerns of those, like me, who oppose the use of referenda to determine democratic policy, because too many voters are insufficiently provided for with necessary information, and instead, tend to be influenced by those mendacious politicians who campaign to appeal to their prejudices and inflame their ignorance.

As a result, we are in some danger of the Referendum being sidelined by apathy as many voters decide it is all too much trouble to vote on the day because they simply don’t have enough information on which to make an informed judgement.

It is in the interest of the BREXIT promoters to maintain this state of affairs. They themselves cannot say what life will be like if the UK is forced out of the EU, because they don’t know. They are instead calling for the British voters to make a huge leap in the dark, but because they do not have any facts on which to base their arguments, they are forced back on appeals to the voters’ prejudices, while making sure not to enlighten their ignorance.

Then, having manipulated various polls to meet their own ambitions, they then publish these analyses as empirical evidence. 

But in virtually every example, the answers are based entirely upon ignorance, prejudice and fear. One thing certainly becomes obvious and that is the British middle-aged xenophobic prejudice against foreigners. Foreign migrants suddenly become the butt of virtually any hysterical prejudice that masquerades as fact.

As an illustration, a poll of 5,828 over 50s, albeit published in that well-known, intellectually honest, pro-European comic, the Daily Express, reports that 65 per cent of people who responded, want Britain to ‘throw off’ Brussels. 

This is a classic finding. It is highly doubtful whether those responding negatively had sufficient knowledge of facts to come to such a decision, but it is entirely sure that their answers were solicited through the use of emotionally-charged statements which were predicated by falsehoods.

As an example, and ostensibly damningly for the Remain campaign, a third of those who backed staying in the EU in 1975 now allegedly want to change their vote and quit. 

Do we know why they want to leave? We are not told! But many people to whom I have put this question have said back then, they thought they were merely joining a Common Market for goods and services in 1975. And that is what indeed, they did join.

But then the respondents will pull out the usual shibboleths which they have heard used by people like Nigel Farage and Jacob Rees-Mogg, and which sound quite clever if they were true, which maintains they did not vote for ever closer union with Europe.

Well, I must have been one of the very few voters who in 1975 actually went and read the Treaty of Rome, first published in 1957, before I made my mark on the ballot paper?. Those who did read this document would have quickly observed the statement made in a short clause in the EU's founding document, wherein the signatories pledged to work towards “an ever closer union”.

If you were one of those who voted in the 1975 Referendum without having read the Treaty of Rome, then you only have yourselves to blame, because the full realisation of the EU was there for all to see, and if you voted without knowing the facts, or appreciating their meaning, then you were as ignorant then as you probably are now.

So, I thought it would be a good idea to look at the results of this survey, and then see if I could throw any genuine and honest light on the concerns, to establish whether they were based on logic or prejudice and ignorance.

The survey by ‘’ has shown that the biggest concern is immigration and the lack of control on Britain's borders, with 93 per cent giving it as a major reason to leave the EU while 74 per cent are worried about the drain on welfare from foreign migrants. 

Well, first of all, what does ‘control of our borders’ mean?

You see, this is another one of those highly emotive statements closely allied to the wholly mistaken one about the loss of our sovereignty!

Loosely translated, it means the right to determine who can enter Britain freely and legally and who must be denied such access! But put like that, it loses all its xenophobic appeal.

So who comes to the UK?

In the 12 months to September 2015:

617,000 people arrived in the UK. This is up 0.3 per cent on the previous year, but 294,000 left at the same time.

257,000, or 42 per cent, arrived from the European Union. This figure is up 4 per cent on the year.

130,000, or 21 per cent, arrived from the 'EU15' group of countries: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Sweden. This figure is up 5 per cent on the previous year.

69,000, or 11 per cent, came from the 'EU8' group of countries: Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia. This figure fell on the year by 9 per cent.

55,000, or 9 per cent, came from Bulgaria and Romania. This was up 38 per cent on the year.

The remaining 2,00 (0.3 per cent) came from Malta, Cyprus and Croatia. This figure was down by 60 per cent on the previous year.

Every single one of those people has a legal right to come here under the free movement of people principle in the EU charter, so why do we worry so much about them? This figure is not even worth discussing as they have the same rights to come here as any other EU citizen, so why the panic?

Total immigration to Britain in the year to the end of September was 617,000 - off set by emigration of 294,000 people – making a total of 323,000 staying here..

In the detail of its analysis, the Office of National Statistics said the total level of EU immigration was largely unchanged - but did note a 'statistically significant' rise in the number of Bulgarian and Romanian migrants of 15,000 to a total of 55,000.

Of these, 28,000 had a firm job to go to while 45,000 of the group were in Britain for work-related reasons. 

So, what about Non-EU immigrants?

Well, the total of non-EU immigrants amounted to a paltry 66,000.

A large percentage of such immigrants are here on short-term student visas.

Student visas is essentially the big statistic here and this is the only area in which the government have been able to make a difference, and The Home Office has implemented stricter entrance criteria and other limitations to the student visa system since early in 2011, as part of a pledge to reduce net migration to less than 100,000. 

The government won’t cap the number of foreign students, because that would cause trouble for the higher education sector, but it does want to tighten the system by which universities are certified to admit them. 

All these foreign students are paying the top rate of fees for their education and get no state help in costs or expenses. They represent a real level of financial benefit to UK plc, and many want to come back to the UK to undertake important post-graduate research which in turn finds its way in many cases into the EU business sector.

The most important immigrant requirement is identified in the medical sector, particularly in finding sufficient trained doctors and nurses to help staff the NHS. Every single voter in the forthcoming Referendum needs to factor in that any medical treatment he or she receives in the future, will almost inevitably be provided by the reviled foreigner. The UK relies on these people to maintain her NHS staffing levels.

Up to 3,000 doctors have been hired from overseas by the NHS in the past year, as the service battles to tackle staff shortages that medical professionals say are serious and growing.

They came from at least 27 countries, including India, Poland, Australia and Greece – but also even Iraq, Syria and Sudan – according to 32 of the 160 hospital trusts in England who responded to requests from the Guardian for details of their recruitment.

Dr David Rosser, medical director of University hospitals Birmingham, one of England’s biggest trusts, said: “The NHS doesn’t have the number of doctors it needs. The shortage is real. We aren’t training enough doctors in this country, and so we are dependent on foreign-trained doctors. 

Painting a picture of how wide the NHS is having to cast its net for doctors and other clinical staff, the research shows that:

• University hospitals NHS foundation trust in Southampton recruited the highest number of foreign doctors – 113 in the last year.

• The service is struggling to find enough doctors to work in particular medical specialities, including A&E, radiology, ophthalmology and general medicine.

• The 23 foreign medics hired by the University hospitals Bristol trust included six Greeks, three Pakistanis, two Hungarians, two Romanians, two Sri Lankans and one born in Sudan with British nationality.

• Five of England’s 10 regional NHS ambulance services are also pursuing new recruits abroad. More than 100 of the 200 paramedics the London Ambulance Service is hiring before the end of March will be from Australia and New Zealand. 

• NHS trusts in England said they had hired just over 1,000 nurses from overseas, with experts warning that hospitals were competing with each other for overseas talent.

Overall figures from the General Medical Council show that the number of foreign-trained doctors on its register rose by 2,957 between 31 December 2013 and 6 January 2015. They made up two-fifths – 39.4% – of the 7,500 year-on-year increase in the overall number of doctors, which rose to 267,150. Of the 267,150 doctors of all types registered with the GMC on 6 January, 97,915 (36.6%) were foreign-trained, including 34,120 (41.2%) specialists. 

When our British Xenophobes are recuperating from their hip replacement operation, they won’t care one jot about the nationality of the man or woman providing their highly expert care!

As for the second element of the irrational fear of immigrants, their drain on the welfare system? Well, contrary to popular belief, most non-EU migrants can't claim benefits. They can use the NHS (with a surcharge) and schools (depending on residence), but they have no access to JSA, disability allowance, tax credits, or housing benefit. 

EU migrants can claim certain benefits, but a major report by University College London demonstrates that such immigrants who arrived after EU enlargement in 2004, and who have at least one year of residence – and are therefore legally eligible to claim benefits – are about 60% less likely than natives to receive state benefits or tax credits, or to live in social housing.

Comparing the net fiscal contribution of these immigrants with that of individuals born in the UK, in each fiscal year since enlargement in 2004, the immigrants made a positive contribution to public finance.

In the fiscal year, 2008/09, immigrants paid 37% more in direct or indirect taxes than was spent on public goods and services which they received. This is even more remarkable because the UK has been running a budget deficit over the last few years. 

The study also shows that on average, immigrant workers have a better educational background than UK-born workers, but receive lower wages - especially in the period immediately after coming to the UK. Despite this disparity, these immigrants are net contributors to the public finances.

The main reason for this is that they have a higher rate of labour force participation (increasing the number of fiscal contributors), and make less use of benefits and public services.

For example, in 2008/09, immigrants represented 0.91% of the total UK population, but contributed 0.96% of total tax receipts and accounted for only 0.6% of total expenditures.

The author of the study says: “Our research contributes important facts to the debate on the costs and benefits of EU immigration. It shows that these immigrants are far less likely to live in social housing or to claim benefits. We were surprised about the large net fiscal contribution made by these immigrants, given their relatively low wage position in the UK labour market.” 

Not only are these people demonstrably not a drain on welfare benefits, they are net contributors to the UK economy. 

I suggest that taken as a whole, these researched figures overwhelmingly demonstrate that any fears of immigration that the over-50s in the UK manifest, are wholly over-amplified, and are simply inflated by xenophobic fears aggravated by the inflamed rhetoric of people like Nigel Farage, Iain Duncan Smith and other Right-wing politicians whose best interests lie in spouting lies, untruths and distortions about immigrants and the EU right to free movement! 

Go figure!