Musings, Politics

A Peculiarly English Crisis

Every few years the people of this mighty island known as the British Isles have an identity crisis. The Scots want out, the Welsh want in and the English are completely befuddled as to their ancestry. The Celts were here first but as I understand it then came the continentals – Normans, Anglo-Saxons, Vikings, Romans i.e. virtually everyone from continental Europe. This is the ancestry the English deplore because, “We have a special relationship with America”. Our renegade political reprobates otherwise known as the Tories (the Republicans of the realm) will rather Britain go its own way, a Colossus bestriding the planet. These behemoths of paleolithic-era thoughtfulness are still  holding court in 1945. We have just won the war (with our comrades the Soviet Union and the US) and we sit on the UN security council. Germany doesn’t. Ha, ha!

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So who needs basket case Europe? Aren’t they those meddlesome continentals who can’t organise a Tea Party in Boston but want to define a sausage in several hundred pages of inane regulation? Every  Tory Prime Minister carries this cross: what then to do with the elephant next door. It’s big and we can’t deport it Down Under. “Ditch it”, cry the croaking faithful. And so we get David Camern, who kind of tries but can’t quite do it. Instead he plans a “whittled down” role for Britain whatever that means – that’s his vision. From a man who is short vision, that’s pretty bold.

I expect the next PM to reverse course. We are the 2nd or 3rd largest economy in Europe. 50% of our trade (providing the foreign exchange we need to import all the things we love to buy and that our businesses need) is with Europe. One key attraction of London as a financial centre is that it’s in Europe and inside the European Union. London provides a shield for companies who want to be in Europe but would rather comply with English than French or German law. America’s identity is turning increasingly Hispanic and America’s priority now is China. What planet are these Tories on? Yes, reform the bloated EU bureaucracy and let’s work together to change their ridiculous policy making but a whittled down role for Britain is pure fantasy. That’s like a bird wanting nothing more to do with the sky because it rained on it.

Musings, Politics

Adrian Beecroft: Deft or Daft?

It’s frightening and sickening that in today’s Britain, you can pass brown envelopes stuffed with money to the ruling Conservative Party, and you automatically earn the right to make government policy. Yes, just like Mohammed, you can emerge from self-imposed hibernation, brandishing your own holy book of rules. And like Big Mo, we are all impressed upon to comply.

The band of young, privileged, merry and utterly visionless, not to say brainless, men and women who rock the party in our Cabinet leave me speechless. For all Obama’s (alleged) faults, at least the man thinks and deliberates. Everything is considered from every angle. But in Britain, we have Cameron – a most unimpressive man at best. He has and has had nothing of import or interest to say. Most of his utterances of late are geared towards poking his nose in the Euro crisis and annoying the French and Germans even as his party wants to be at the heart of Europe or is it to break free from Europe. I’m confused. Given a chance they would all sail west to America. They don’t seem to realise that America now has bigger fish elsewhere to attend to.

If the news is to be believed, it seems the British government as constituted by the Tories have delegated employment policy to their party donor, Adrian Beecroft; and his grand idea: give bosses the right to sack anyone if, when and how they like. Apparently sacking people creates jobs. Huh? And if you point out the obvious contradiction or the potential for massive abuses of power, he calls you a “socialist”.  What a prick.

First of all, something as important as employment policy should never be handed over to a single individual, let alone a party donor. Secondly, there’s nothing wrong with our bosses present ability to fire us: 1m of us have been fired since the economic crisis began. In a country with only 60m people that’s a large number. And lastly, we the British people do not want to go back to servitude of the Dickensian kind. Germany, afterall, with all its tough pro-employee laws is both richer and more productive than we are. The ability to fire workers at will is neither a necessary or sufficient condition for economic success. Who will tell the brainwashed Tory party?

Musings, Politics

Britain: stuck in the wrong gear

It’s a ruinous policy to run a country on public opinion. To take power, yes, but not to run the country. As much as I believe in this thing we call democracy, I have come sadly, to see that the public is just too ill-equipped, too ill-educated, too ill-informed and, to speak frankly, too lazy to make the effort to understand any issue that requires more than two minutes of soundbites. We are a yeah but, yeah but, it’s like, it’s like, quick fix generation.

Throughout history the public were constantly fobbed off with games, free or subsidized bread, myths of gods and terrible retribution, mindless superstitions and the promise of jam tomorrow. Many of us are wont to think they were idiots who attended the old roman games pitching elephants against each other or lion against man or those who shouted jubilantly in the Nazi parades. It couldn’t happen here. Not now. Certainly, in all societies it’s been a surreptitious official policy to invent nationalistic jingoism or religious bogeymen to keep people cowed, tamed and obedient. There have been many revolutions for good democracies and freedom from rule by an entrenched elite but for one good reason they end in failure. In the one recent experiment to change society and put power in the hands of the people (communism), it didn’t take long for the same public to hand power to a tyrant and then also actively take part in obliterating anyone who did not agree with them. That experiment burned brightly for decades and then, like Icarus, crashed spectacularly. The good reason I think the public can’t be relied upon is as I’ve said before: too ill-equipped, too ill-educated ….

Europe has often led the way in wresting power from autocrats – Greek democracy, the Roman republic after overthrowing the Tarquins, the English Magna Carta, the French revolution – but after the illustrious achievements of our forebears (strictly, theirs for mine were in Africa but hey I’m a European now) what do we have? A 21st century version of the old Roman empire. Twentyfourseven television with 99% sports and/or crap and/or babble that counts as news, children who can’t add, adults who can’t spell, serious newspapers in death throes, and a public enchanted with a fantasy world of making a million, living large and lazily on the beach with a glass of champagne. This is in a time where we, in the West, face the biggest challenge to our collective economic future since the Depression.

This brings me neatly to the current European crisis. So here we are, trying to solve Europe’s problems and rather than Britain extending the hand of friendship and working together as best it can, what does our Prime Minister the uber privileged dunce from Oxford, David Cameron, do? He stands on a soap box and parrots selfishly about how everything the other Europeans do must be in Britain’s interest. Our way or the highway. OK, how are the French and the Germans and everyone else over there to take this fait accompli? Lying down? Fuck you they might say. We Brits have been fooled to think that our “special relationship” with America and the “special status” of the City of London will be the deux ex machina that rescues our ship. Well then, the public rabble are about to get their faces wiped off the shit that’s been blinding their eyes. Shit like this:

And this is from a Member of Parliament. It’s no wonder Brits are backing the Prime Minister in opinion polls. Too many people simply watch too many Battle of Britain re-runs on telly. We don’t take crap from Germany. We give it. While we were expected to forge a new Europe with the French and the Germans, instead, we have chosen to poke them in the eye.

It’s so damn exasperating sometimes.