Category Archives: Politics
Playout date: 31 May 2007
People don’t put little pieces of plastic into the sea deliberately, but it gets their anyway, and gets mixed up with the planktons and ending up in the food chain, reducing the photosynthesis of sea algae, etc, and they never biodegrade.
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Here’s a thought. The EU moghuls want the UK to pay a €60b Brexit bill. That would be about €2000 per working UK citizen. Some people don’t want to pay that and want a hard Brexit, some are happy for us to pay and hopefully enjoy the benefits of market freedoms in the future.
Why does this have to be a one size fits all approach? Would it not be better (I know this is an alien concept to the EU and politicians/lawmakers in general, but…) to democratise it? Let those British people who want to have a permanent set of personal rights in the EU as they do now pay for an additional ID card like a superpassport (could be the prototype of a real EU passport) at €2000 per head or €5000 for a couple and their dependent children, with subsequent top up payments of say a quarter of the entry sum annually (collected say every four years) and the same for EU nationals wishing to work in the UK. Likewise companies wishing to import or export goods and services under the four freedoms would pay based on their employee numbers not having the card. If all their employees including subbies had the card then the company could trade up to a certain volume per head of employee based on what appears normal in databases like Amadeus. If they wanted to import unusual amounts for the size of the workforce in their sector then even if all their workforce are paid up Europeans they could make top-up payments for higher export and again that would work in both directions.
Then people, and private companies, can actually decide to be European or not. Their contributions would among other things fund their own representation as a constituency of UK Europeans in the European Government at all levels and they would also vote for their representatives. EU nation states citizens wishing to do border and tariff-free trade in the UK and buying the card in that direction could also vote for their own MP in the UK parliament, their own representation even in the House of Lords and representation at other levels of government as relevant to them. If living in the UK, they would remain entitled to vote in local elections.
In other words, the EU as far as the UK is concerned and vice versa would be an individual driven, opt-in system with complete respect for the individual and whether they identify as European or not.
If it works then it could after some years become a blueprint for further EU expansion or for those nations in the EU today potentially, for all we know as most are afraid to have a referendum, against the will of the majority of their people.
The UK voted in the Referendum by a very narrow margin the leave the EU. But it is not as simple as that. The process of leaving begins when the UK writes formally to the EU, specifically commencing the process set out in Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. The Referendum is technically not binding on Parliament, the overwhelming majority of MPs preferring Britain to stay in the EU. The Prime Minister, Mr Cameron, has said he will step down for a new leader of the Conservative Party to be appointed, sometime in the Autumn, and he will not invoke Article 50, believing that this should be done by the new Prime Minister.
The leader of the “Out” side, Mr Johnson has said that he believes that the EU and the UK will retain access to each other’s markets. Mr Johnson adds that “Immigration was not the main issue in the Referendum” and a spokesman for Mrs Merkel has already commented that access to the EU Market for the UK is perfectly possible if the UK pays a contribution to the costs of the market in a similar way to Norway. Incidentally, this model also involves, for all practical purposes, free movement of people. Then what is going to change I hear you ask, and my opinion is “Not very much” The UK and the EU will continue to be effectively a free trade area, there will be movement of people and the UK will contribute to the costs. Read the rest of this entry
One of them is a primitive primate from a little visited location which brandishes an extended third finger to the world, as it peers out of bulbous yellow eyes and the other is the Aye aye. So are Daubentonia madagascariensis and the leader of the Scottish Nationalists in any way related? I think we should be told.
Regular readers of this blog will, I hope, excuse me for canvassing the opinions of people over the age of 59 and just from the UK, but this is a little piece of research just to guage an idea I had. I will not say what the idea is now but I will later, I just don’t want to colour the results. Please share this with as many people 59 or over from the UK as you can.
Thanks for taking part with an honest answer and please let as many people who had the chance to vote in that Referendum know, then the results will be meaningful.
As far as I know there is no way for your answer to be identified with you unless you comment, which you are welcome as always to do. Certainly I can’t do it, so please answer with confidence.
Now that the World Cup has kicked off in Brazil, football is in the air all over the world, and with it, our minds are distracted from the hum-drum routine of ordinary life into the never-failing topic of corruption.
Once again there is investigation into corruption and even money laundering in football in various parts of the world. Today someone commented that football is the fifth largest channel of illegal money in the world. I do not know how they know that or where that ranking is made or how it was made, but it certainly seems to underline the conception that sport is not always healthy, also underlined this week by comedy icon Rik Mayall collapsing and dying of a heart attack after a run. I thought people ran to avoid heart attacks, not bring them on? And here he is, only six years my senior and, unlike me, in perfectly reasonable shape. I think I shall stick to walking.
Yesterday Polish media announced an investigation into the finances of former President Kwasniewski – apparently he also seems to be “considerably richer than yow” as either Shakespeare or Harry Enfield put it, I can’t remember which – they would like to know whence the abundance that hath become his portion is come.
This made me think that there should be an investigation made not only at the close of a person who holds public office but also at the beginning – an audit of their personal wealth and that of their families. Doing one at the beginning tells people to mind their Ps and Qs while serving the people on public money. This also avoids the chance that they can say that they had these investments all along.
There should be a standard work programme approved by the public affairs committee and the national chamber of auditors, or chambers where as in the UK there is more than one. The statement of personal wealth should be drawn up and signed off by the auditor stating what kinds of investigations they made in order to produce this statement and if anything in the list of procedures was not possible to do then their report should state so and give the reasons. The work would be carried out by people who have audit licences who have been screened for political neutrality, and the choice of Firm should be agreed by the public affairs committee.
The report should be held by a politically independent committee and compared to the one made after the person comes to the end of his or her office and then again 5 years later. Accumulations of wealth should be reconciled to declared sources.
All bank accounts of these public figures should be declared and unusually large expenditures or outgoing gifts should also be investigated as well as the ‘as at’ financial position. It should be an offence for a person who falls under the law to own a bank account anywhere in the world which is not declared to the auditor.
This should apply first to the heads of state. Royalty who did not choose to have their role and simply are born into it should be exempt, although they might opt in voluntarily in some countries. After the heads of state then through the cabinet, all MPs, all senior civil servants, judges, and members of committees and panels whose work determines the expenditure of public monies. Including the panels of bit sporting events who determine who is going to host football or other sporting tournaments and how the money that pours into them is going to be spent.
If this became law around the world in all the different jurisdictions that there are, we might finally get to a situation where decisions are in the hands of people who are basically honest or at least have no motivation to give vent to their dishonest tendencies.
Enjoy the games.
The above link shows an initiative by the UK government. However well-intentioned the aims might be, and however good it may do, and I hope it will, nevertheless whoever decided what to call it needs to be given a special edition framed gold-leaf P45 form (that’s a “pink slip”, by the way, for the benefit of my American readers, which my stats say are in the majority, and who are always welcome).
“Emerging Europe” and “Visehrad Four” was the term applied to these four countries way back in the end of the last century while these countries were the focus of attention, we didn’t know much about them other than that they were neighbours and that they emerged from behind the Iron Curtain at about the same time. In the mind of most Westerners Poland and its southern neighbours were expected to be quite similar and the major differences in culture between them which stretch back into the very different histories of these two areas over hundreds of years before the period of Soviet hegemony. Everyone had in their family people who knew life before, people were mentally prepared to spring back, and that is exactly what they did, with year after year of growth outstripping Western Europe and most of the rest of the world over a 20 year period, with legislative reforms and international consultation enabling unprecedented transfer of administrative know-how. These countries also had the advantage of computerising to a much more advanced level immediately than we had – their offices were not littered with massive green or amber screen monitors, most business people went straight onto Windows with its Word and Excel and cannot even remember the MS-DOS antecedents we struggled with and the hardware and software we clung too even when it was superseded in order not to waste the earlier IT investments.
The countries we are talking about avoided many of the errors made by a number of Western countries, problems now very apparent in the banking systems, education and health systems of western countries, problems with housing, transport, etc which are not so problematic in the more easterly countries.
On top of that these are countries which, apart from a very short period of forty years which is now 25 years over, were in the central current of European culture and thought, and had been for hundreds of years. When Luther nailed his 99 theses to the wall and they were being discussed days later in Oxford University, he did it in what was to become the German Democratic Republic, a country which, but for the existence of a larger brother constitutionally committed to reuniting with it, would also today be in the group you are calling ‘Emerging Europe”. If I mention the list of literary, musical, philosophical, artistic and other gems of this region the list (or should that be “liszt”?) would be very long indeed. These are not cultures which are only now emerging as Europe. You might call them rediscovered Europe, but emerging? Scarcely.
Furthermore, if we are going to continue to use the “Emerging Europe” label for successful, thriving European Union member states all fo which are in Schengen (unlike the UK) and one of which uses the Euro already (unlike the UK) and whose remaining currencies except for the HUF of late have proven to be just about as buoyant as the GBP for the last dozen or so years or better ( – take the Polish zloty for instance. 10 years ago precisely a pound would buy you 7.24 PLN. Today it will but you only 5.06 PLN. It has lost about 30% over those ten years against the zloty. Incomparison to the zloty, I’m afraid our currency looks like a soft currency against the zloty. Fact. Sorry, but fact) then what term are we going to use for countries which remain outside the EU, which continually have GDPs per head lower than 10,000 USD, which continually seem unable to introduce the reforms required in the Acquis Communautaire?
Let’s maybe have a poll as what what we can call those countries, if the likes of Poland or the Czech Republic is called “Emerging Europe”:
In summary, please for goodness sake stop referring to Central European EU members as “Emerging Europe”! The term is dated, was patronising even when it was current, and just makes the British look out of touch when it is used by us, and in my experience more often than not only serves to offend the people from the Region, although, being highly cultured and European, they are usually able not to show it.
So I thought I’d show it for them.
The problem in my view is that some white folk who learned about all the evil stuff that, for example, the British ruling class did around the world until we all gradually woke up to the fact that it was not sustainable, they think that the onus is on them to redress the balance in some way.
On that basis, I should be getting reparations from the Third World at the rate of one Mango a month in perpetuity plus the occasional sexual favour from one of those black ladies you see on all the music videos, which I will pass on anyway in the interests of my family and my soul. But anyway that’s nothing to what I’m owed by the Queen of Denmark for excesses perpetrated during the Viking invasions.
So in short, even though I can say that it was shameful it’s not MY shame that the British, for example, tried to make China a drug addicted slave colony and then smuggled out their tea plants to mass plantations in India and decided we didn’t need the Chinese so much any more, at least we gave back Hong Kong honorably. Certain others didn’t give back Vladivostok, ceded at the same Peking Convention, because they are not leveraged by the same soft conscience that seems to weigh us down. But it’s not MY shame that “we” had a past with China that isn’t glorious but it isn’t MY cost that “we” gave back Hong Kong (I didn’t own any of it anyway) and it isn’t MY pride that “we” gave it back – nobody asked for my opinion about it, they just did it on my behalf and on the behalves (?) of another 58 million entirely unconsulted British people.