Category Archives: Europe

Still at it, after all this time

You can understand 27 European leaders being at loggerheads over Britain’s terms for leaving the European Union. They’ve all got their own agendas, so they couldn’t agree.

But Britain’s Tory party?

Come on … surely they can have a party line, and stick to it.

But no. They’re still arguing among themselves over what kind of Britain they want to see outside the European Union, after years of doing so. In the last few days alone they’ve been at it again. This time, the Chancellor seems to have put his foot in it. Poor man.

Who’d be a politician, eh? You’re damned if you say one thing and damned if you say another. You’re compromising yourself at all times.

I wouldn’t do it.

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Why doesn’t he shut up

It’s only days ago that Tony Blair was interviewed in The Guardian by Decca Aitkenhead, when that paper devoted a whole page to the pair of them.

What a waste of space!

He had nothing to say, other than that we should all follow our consciences. He contends that we have been bamboozled into Brexit by a government – or by the Tories if you follow his line of thought – who have no time for anything else. Not the housing crisis. Nor the poverty gap. Or the north south divide. Nor dealing with the Grenfell Tower disaster.

How obvious is all that!

The Tories have devoted no time at all to anything other than badly handling our leaving the EU, and most of the press has colluded with them in talking about it. As a result, we all think that that is all that matters.

What piffle! It’s enough that no one says that, once we leave the EU, almost everyone will be saying: “We never had it so good.” The rightwing newspapers will be crying into their cups, because when we have to deal as an independent nation with France, or Germany or the Poles, Spaniards, Portuguese or Italians, we shall get no more special treatment than if we were Ugandans or Indians. Indeed, we may get less, because we have no natural resources to trade with.

Tony Blair may have been Prime Minister, but that doesn’t give him the right to believe it’s he and he alone that occupies the moral high ground.

Why doesn’t he slink away and shut up, like any good ex-Prime Minister should?

But then, Ms Aitkenhead wouldn’t have anyone to interview.

 

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What are they up to now?

It seems not a day goes by when the British government manages to put its foot in it.

Only the other day they demonstrated how inept they are by disagreeing amongst themselves on how much it will costs Britain to leave the EU.

On top of that, they seem to think they can do what they like and no one else will pay any attention. Don’t they realise that the EU has 27 other members, all of whom have to agree with each other before anything is passed into law?

‘Arrogance’, some call it. To me, it smacks of sheer incompetence born of the idea that no one knows best expect aunty. And she doesn’t even know what day it is!

The sooner we are over all this, the better it will be. Then we shall be able to live with whatever character Britain has when it is past this muddle and confusion.

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John Harris is right

You probably realise by now that I’m a Guardian reader. And you may have guessed that I like various of their columnists.

On Friday, September 8, one of them, John Harris, wrote a piece that’s almost beyond fault. It echoes some of what I said in my last blog; about we British are no longer willing to do the menial jobs done for us by so-called ‘immigrant labour’. How sad! Yet, how true.

And how prescient of Harris to conclude that, as he put it, “frozen into the brickwork of those newly built houses in Peterborough is a whole host of stuff – hard work, persistence, ambition, stoicism – that has played a huge role in keeping an increasingly fragile country in business”.

Would that anyone in charge today recognises this!

 

 

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Do the politicians know anything?

The more I see and hear of it, the more I’m inclined to agree with my friend in Kingston-upon-Thames, Surrey.

He believes Brexit (or Britain leaving the EU, to give the process its real term, not it’s media-driven nickname) is far too complex to be left to mere politicians.

All they seem to do is shout at each other from positions of emotional weakness, and listen to what they want to hear.

Tattered Jack

Take the leavers, for example. Last year, before we were asked to vote “In” or “Out”, they told us that £350 million pounds a day was being spent on the EU which they would spend on the NHS. Where’s that money today? And where’s the talk of how it will be spent when we do leave? As leave we surely will.

I was recently in hospital and all I heard from the staff were comments about the lack of funds (£350 million a day, anyone?). I heard, too, how the NHS would not work if it were not for the cleaners, caterers, health care assistants, nurses and doctors – almost all the staff you would ever meet – who were born outside the British Isles but who chose to work in this country, because there is no work for them in their native land. Most of them do not know what they’ll do if they are told they must leave. “None of the local people want to do this job” was what I heard over and over again. Watch the television if you don’t believe me.

I first heard a remark like this from a pea-packer, years ago. Interviewed on television somewhere near Boston, Lincs, she said she would gladly give up work to care for a small child she and her Polish husband had had in the UK, but “everyone who’s British who’s interviewed says ‘no’ to the job”.

Does no one want to bend their back? Do the politicians think that all they need to show us is their posturing?

David Davis, for example, looks like a fairground busker who must’ve thought you believed him when he put it about that you would “See the bearded lady!” Was he referring to Mrs May? Where is said hirsute female? Perhaps more accurately, he looks like a sharp-suited shyster who has asked us to invest in a multi-million pound enterprise, knowing all along that the enterprise isn’t worth much more than sixpence of anybody’s money.

Would you buy a secondhand car from him? I know I wouldn’t. Neither should you.

As for Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, he very nearly blew it completely when he implied that Europe could “whistle” for Britain’s due payments.

The opposition is no better. They seem to have too many of their own axes to grind.

So why not leave it all to the bureaucrats? They have nothing to lose by sticking to the facts. The politicians have everything to lose by trying to suggest that we are all like them: no matter which flag they salute.

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Cometh the hour, cometh the man

Clem Attlee

Attlee by Karsh

Several generations ago, Clement Attlee was the man. As common as muck, or so the Tories thought. Today it looks like Jeremy Corbyn is the name on everybody’s lips. As common as muck, or so many think.

Immediately after the Second World War, Attlee was elected as Prime Minister.

Who knows, but that Corbyn might be elected by the public, as Leader of the Labour Party and thus Prime Minister, immediately after the War of the Tories?

It certainly looks as if history will repeat itself.

 

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At last, it’s all over. For now.

I’ve been waiting a long time to write that headline, or something like it. The recently held, unnecessary, ego-driven election to determine who runs the UK seems to have gone on forever; like some kind of degenerative, wasting illness that has to be endured.

Over the last few weeks, we’ve heard politicians speaking (or in some cases, barking) about almost everything, but we haven’t heard any of the detail we want to hear. For example, there’s been virtually no mention of the kind of country we can expect to be living in. None at all. At least, none that I can relate to.

Instead, we’ve heard only that we can expect ‘strong and stable leadership’ from an administration led by The Maybot, Theresa May, (what a joke that empty mantra seems now, after so many climb-downs on her part!) or one that’s ‘for the many not the few’ from ‘Jezza’ Jeremy Corbyn (at least that one sounds plausible, even though it seems to have been invented by a marketing guru).

It’s still a great shame we were not offered a No Confidence space on the ballot paper. For all that the turnout was encouraging to those that would clutch at any straw blowing in the wind, that’s where a great many Xs would’ve ended up.

After all, do we really want a government lead by a woman who looks and sounds as if she is the product of a machine? One that was made on the home counties production line, with all the small-mindedness that that implies? Do we really want to be governed by a person who, at the outset, looked like a young middle-aged woman dreaming of past glories and future triumphs but, by the end, looked like an old middle-aged woman, broken and sad, contemplating her own mortality?

Do we want a government led by a person who was once described by Ken Clarke as “bloody difficult”? By someone who refuses to debate matters on tv? By someone who tells us that ‘strong leadership’ will be needed in the now-stalled negotiations with the European Union, when we must know (unless we are all ostriches) that She Who Tells Us will not be at the negotiating table herself (just as she wasn’t in the tv debate), but that a person with the mindset of a man like David Davis, who describes Brexit as “the defining issue of our age”, will lead the team? Or might it be a member of the DUP?

Or do we want a government led by a person who, at the outset, looked like a broken old milddle-aged man not knowing what to do with retirement but now looks like a young middle-aged man rejuvenated by the thought that the even younger civil servants will do most of the heavy work, and that there are equally pressing issues, other than the dreary one of  leaving the EU, that have to be attended to?

The Conservatives made almost no mention of Britain’s housing crisis, our failing mental health provisions, or child poverty.

They didn’t even have the guts to present themselves as a team. The Supreme Leader was the only one we were asked to think about.

And now we are stuck with that thought; with her. For another five years, or for as long as it takes for her to change her mind – yet again.

Those of us who can’t abide the woman will – like my late mother who used to turn off the telly every time Mrs Thatcher hove in view – have to bear her as we bore Mrs T and survived. I guess we’ll survive Mrs M.

But will she be remembered? Margaret Thatcher

Now that the election is all over, we can only hope that she will disappear into obscurity.

I doubt there’s much hope of that. We all still recall ‘That Woman’. But Mrs May is likely to be remembered as The One That Got Away. For now.

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Choice or debate

Nearly six months now and I – like so many others – remain frustrated.

Why? Because no-one has yet resolved whether we’re In or Out of the European Union. If we’re In, what role do we have? And, if we’re Out, how will we live with the rest of the world?

On the In hand, we could look forward to being part of an admittedly flawed grouping of vaguely like-minded states. Growth would be slow, but it would at least be collective. Squabbling in the group would continue, but ultimately all arguments must end, and they usually do.

On the Out hand, we don’t know what to look forward to. Will our place in the world have changed that much? Will we, the UK, be a small trading nation having to make our way in the world much as Portugal might’ve done before it became part of the European Union?

The prospects are very confusing.

And they’re not made any the less so by the seeming inability of anyone anywhere to tell us what’s going on.

I know the UK voted on June 23 to Leave, but we still Remain. But in what guise?

It seems to me that we should have had an informed debate about the future of the UK before we were asked to vote, with everyone from all walks of life being asked to contribute to the discussion. That way we would have known what we were being asked to vote on. Instead, all we heard was people arguing about what kind of Europe – and thus, by extension, what kind of world – we would be living in, without considering whether or not we wanted to be In or Out of it.

As it was, no one really debated or discussed the relative merits of the European Union before we were asked whether or not we wanted to Remain in it or Leave it. They seemed to shout at one another, brandishing facts which have since proved unsustainable. It’s only now, after we have made an ill-informed decision, that Europe’s pros and cons are being fully aired. And it’s too late. We have decided. Leave is what we shall do, whether we like it or not.

The next few years are going to be regretful, that’s for sure.

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Sipping tea, but not talking turkey

It’s over three months since a slim majority of the British people voted to leave the European Union.

Yet nothing has happened.

Instead, we sit at the edge of the ice pool, sipping tea while the representatives of some 30 countries mill around, debating with each other, sometimes shouting and all looking for a theme to unite them.

If we’re not careful, the ice will break, we shall all sink, and that will be the end of the European project.

It’s a frightening thought, even sitting on the edge.

We really ought to get on to dry land. But, at the moment, we don’t know what that land is like and how we will fare in it. We could easily be a forgotten people who made their way onto the land by accident.

We have to know what kind of country Britain wants to be, post European Union membership, before we can offer anything useful to those who are already on dry land.

It’s time, therefore, to make our minds up; for those who would be in charge to take responsibility for being in charge.

 

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We still don’t know

Back in August I was worried we didn’t know what was going to happen to us, now that we’ve voted to leave the European Union.

Today, I still don’t know.

Like a lot of other people, I’m in the dark about what our relationship with Europe will be like. Will we be in the free trade zone, or out of it? Will just anyone be allowed to come into the UK from Europe, or will they have to prove they’re wanted? Will we have to pay to travel outside the UK?

There are so many unanswered questions, it’s as if we’re being deliberately blind-sided.

True, it would help to know who we are dealing with. So we’d better wait until after the Germans have decided on their future. Likewise the French. And anyone else who’s got an election coming up.

But should we wait until after the Americans have decided on their president? That would mean waiting until late November, at the earliest.

It seems a long way off. But then, Europe seemed a long way off at one time. It was a foreign place, the other side of a stretch of water. Now it’s only a tunnel away and we (us Brits) are part of it.

At least, I think we are.

I’d like to know, one way or the other.

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