The Decline of France – by Monique Riccardi-Cubitt

juin 12th, 2018

France 3 TV Channel is about to release on June 13th a film BRIGITTE MACRON, UN ROMAN FRANÇAIS. It is yet another version of the nauseatingly slushy presidential saga, a tale of the seduction of an under-age pupil by a teacher his mother’s age, a woman without qualms nor ethics, who subjected her own husband to a crushing humiliation, and admits having brought suffering to her children in order to follow with impunity the ambitious plans she projected on a youngster enslaved to her will.

This latest version of a countlessly retold story during the past year and a half,  is aiming to whitewash her reputation and  exonerate her of all guilt since she supposedly acted ‘par amour’ notwithstanding the offence committed in the eyes of the law.  In so doing  it is meant to appeal to the heart of French citizens now that the presidential rate of popularity is plunging  in the opinion polls. Even Macron’s early supporters are denouncing the evil of effects of his social and economic policies, and of the accelerated rhythm of senselessly destructive reforms, dangerously disrupting the country.  It is the worse possible example of the French system of double standards, and a particularly potent symbol of its decadence and corruption.

LA FRANCE UN DÉCLIN J’ACCUSE

Monique Riccardi-Cubitt (Countess)
BCiP Member

 

 

A By-Election of Importance in Lewisham East – by Peter Huggins

juin 5th, 2018

The 2nd. of March was cold and there had been fresh snowfall. A train with a dozen carriages crawled painfully along the icy tracks in the early evening, each carriage packed with commuters hoping to get home to their dormitories after a day’s toil ending with a difficult trek to the station in a blizzard. Between two stations, the train shuddered and stopped. It did not move for four hours. The passengers were jammed together in intense discomfort. There was no thought of sustenance or a hot drink. Staying upright and surviving was all that could be hoped for. There were no toilets on the train. Movement was anyway virtually impossible for the patient passengers in the packed carriages. At last a mutiny began and passengers disobeyed the instructions of the railway staff to stay put. They opened the emergency doors, streamed out of the train and began to plod through the snow to the nearest station. Trains here are powered from a third rail at ground level. The railway staff were forced to turn this off for fear that a passenger might be electrocuted. The passengers plodded on, their town shoes sodden with the freezing snow. They painfully made their way home, on foot or by bus, where busses were running. The mutiny was uncomfortable but successful.
Public opinion was strongly in favour of the mutineers, not those running the antiquated railway. Where was this train? Was it perhaps the infamous slow train from Minsk to Smolensk? In fact it was the even more infamous North Kent line from London Bridge to Chatham, one of the world’s oldest and least reliable tracks. The train was stranded between Lewisham and Blackheath in South East London in the heart of a constituency about to lose its popular MP, the Labour remainer Heidi Alexander, who had been offered a deputy mayor (transport) job with the Labour ‘remain’ Mayor of London. Commuters to Blackheath and beyond were about to be given a channel for their protests about the railway, Brexit, knife crime and much else in a by-election provoked by Heidi Alexander’s departure.

Voters in the Lewisham East constituency do not have much sense of identity about their arbitrarily drawn up collection of wards. They do have a strong sense of identity with South East London.

On the North, the constituency is bounded by wonderful Greenwich Park with the Royal Observatory, the Naval Museum (Henry VIII’s palace), the ex-RN college, the Seamens’ Hospital and views across the Thames to Canary Wharf, St. Paul’s and beyond. On the East, the A2 leads over Shooters Hill to Kent. This is the Roman road to the coast and Chaucer’s pilgrims’ road to Canterbury£. It makes a straight line through Dickens country with Woolwich, the Royal Artillery and Military Academy on the North along the Thames. Here, in hulks on the river, convicts were assembled for transportation to Australia, sometimes working in Woolwich Arsenal during their wait. On the South of the constituency are the prosperous stockbroker Tudor suburbs of Bromley and Chislehurst. This is the country of Orpington Man, not a cousin of Neanderthal but a phenomenon of the 1960s when the Liberal party had one of its perennial recoveries from extinction. On the West are Camberwell and Deptford, old dockland country now gentrified on the river side. On this fringe of the constituency is the home of Millwall football club. (Song:’ Nobody likes us, we don’t care’.) Its somewhat bellicose supporters easily become agitated, particularly during matches with local rivals Charlton, Crystal Palace and West Ham. Further inland is genteel Dulwich. Like Blackheath, this is a chunk of Hampstead in South London.

The constituency is mixed socially and economically but mostly without extreme wealth or poverty. Lewisham East has rather more people in good jobs than the national average and higher levels of education. The Blackheath ward is prosperous and popular with city workers, civil servants, journalists and academics. A couple of generations ago it was ‘Separate Tables’ territory where retired colonels treated themselves to rock cakes behind the lace curtains of joyless teashops. Now it bustles with boutiques, exotic restaurants, prosperous estate agents and a renowned concert hall. In Blackheath and elsewhere in the constituency, voters worry about the Brexit effect on their jobs. Whether merchant bank high-fliers or Bob Cratchit pen-pushers, as they stand patiently during their interminable train journey from the City, they read in the Evening Standard of yet another Brexit-fearing finance house moving jobs to Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Paris or Dublin. These are people with much spleen to vent and much concern to express in the by-election.

Lewisham East and contiguous constituencies have a venerable political past with local MPs who included Gladstone, Morrison, Callaghan and Rosie Barnes, the Labour schismatic who won Greenwich from Labour and held it for the Social Democrats/LibDems for a dozen years. This is an area of moderate radicalism, unlike Woolwich to the East where there were traditionally many more Daily Worker readers and fellow travellers.

In view of the by-election, the most important characteristic of Lewisham East is the position of its voters on Brexit. This is ‘remain’ country, even more than the rest of London. About two thirds of the constituents voted ‘remain’. A friend in the constituency was recently witness to a heated political discussion in a local pub. A contributor referred to Jeremy Corbyn as a Marxist freak and Boris Johnson as a château bottled charlatan to general approval and amusement. This is not easy territory for the Conservative or Labour party leaderships.

The Labour majority of Heidi Alexander in the General Election was strong at over two thirds of the vote. The candidacy for her vacancy was fought hard and sometimes acrimoniously by two Corbynite Momentum and Unite candidates and a strong ‘remainer’, Janet Daby, committed to the Single Market and Customs Union. She won the candidacy by a large margin and got the ex post endorsement of Corbyn. All three candidates were ladies from ‘minority ethnic groups’, as required by the Corbynite pc doctrine. The LibDem candidate, Lucy Salek, was installed with little competition and backed with a visit from Vince Cable including photoshots at Millwall football ground. The Conservative candidate, Ross Archer, got 23% of the vote at the General Election and is well known in the constituency. He is a respected local party worker who has so far taken a consensual line on Brexit issues.

Especially with her ‘remain’ credentials, it would be surprising if the Labour candidate were to do badly in the contest. Ross Archer, on the other hand, is likely to be strongly contested for second place by the LibDem Lucy Salek. The UKIP candidate got less than 2% of the vote at the General election and is likely to fare even worse this time. There is a plethora of minor party candidates including the inevitable Monster Raving Loony Party which will give voters plenty of choice and some entertainment. The results of the election are likely to draw a flood of analysis and comment because this is a constituency strongly representative of the whole of London and the Home Counties. The election campaign takes place during the brief lull before the Lords amendments to the Brexit Bill come back to the Commons.

An election is worth many opinion polls and June 14th will be a milestone on the long march which began with the Brexit Referendum. The ‘People Have Spoken’ phase is receding and Parliament is back in control and centre stage. Ross Archer has a daunting job. He has to navigate a minefield of difficult issues. To succeed in obtaining the respectable vote which the Conservatives badly need, he has to explain, justify, reassure and cajole on many complex issues. A minimum list would include falling house prices, fragile commuter train services, knife crime, the inadequate police budget, the NHS staffing crisis, the continuing squeeze on real incomes and the Byzantine problems surrounding Lewisham town council attempts to take over and redevelop the Millwall football ground with a shadowy offshore financier.

I join with the Conservatives of South East London in wishing Ross Archer courage, good luck and success in a key contest.

Peter Huggins

The Author, BCiP member Peter Huggins, has deep roots in South East London. He was born in Greenwich, went to Primary school in Woolwich and grammar school in Blackheath. Before moving to work in Paris, Peter and his wife Christa lived in Blackheath on the fringe of Greenwich Park.

Brexit: Speaker Dinner with Neil Carmichael – 31st May, 2018

juin 5th, 2018

With feelings on Brexit mixed within the British Conservatives in Paris, we followed on from Conservative MEP David Campbell Bannerman’s presentation last year of the case for « leave », with another speaker at our dinner on the 31st May, 2018 in Neil Carmichael, former MP for Stroud (2010 – 2017).

Neil spoke trenchantly in defence of the case for the UK to « remain » within the EU, which he admitted required reform but was not to be blamed for all the problems facing the UK. The country now faced the prospect of becoming poorer and less influential outside this major trading bloc, having prospered during the +40 years or so of EU membership. It was time now for Parliament, which had always maintained its sovereignty on behalf of the British people during this period of membership, to reassert its authority on the final outcome.

On the sensitive question of uncontrolled immigration which had been of concern for many leave voters, immigration from outside the EU had always exceeded that from within the EU over the +40 years or so of EU membership, despite the British government always retaining control of its own immigration policy.

Taking an example from international trade, the Chinese ambassador had been perplexed when told that the UK would now be able to trade more with China after leaving the EU, when to his knowledge Germany an existing EU member was already selling 3 – 4 times as much

On geo-political relations, all US presidents (apart from the current one) had been comfortable having the UK within the EU as a useful and influential channel for communication.

The Marxist Roots of the European Union

mai 15th, 2018

The inauguration by European Commission President J-C Juncker in Trieste on the 5th May, 2018 of a statue of Karl Marx, commemorating the 200th anniversary of his birth, has BCiP member Evelyne Joslain exploring the actual influence and contribution of Marxism on the construction of the European Union in her article below.

LES RACINES MAUVAISES DE L’UNION EUROPEENNE__ Evelyne JOSLAIN, 13.V.2018

L’actualité offre des faits éclairants aux plus malvoyants.

Le 5 mai, JC Juncker a non seulement inauguré une statue de 5 m, cadeau de la Chine communiste à la ville de Trieste pour le 200e anniversaire de Karl Marx, mais s’est fendu d’un discours qui ne laisse plus aucun doute sur l’idéologie inacceptable de l’Union douanière qu’il préside. Il a déclaré, faussement, « qu’il n’y avait aucun rapport entre la philosophie pure de Marx et les millions de morts et désastres » survenus partout où cette « philosophie » avait été appliquée à la lettre.

Juncker a salué « la contribution » et « l’influence » de Marx dans la construction européenne (sic!) et exalté son « inspiration créatrice », intimant par là que l’UE avait besoin de davantage de philosophie marxiste pour toujours plus de « justice sociale ». Il a soigneusement occulté les rapports de Marx avec l’anarchiste Bakounine et tant d’autres vérités qui dérangent, comme son anti-sémitisme et sa haine de toute religion.

Pour ceux qui croient que ce type de discours est l’apanage du pape François et que la France ne sortira du socialisme qu’en passant par l’UE, voilà qui devrait faire réfléchir.

Marx, idole de Juncker, était lui-même « mauvais », c’est à dire malsain, hypocrite et finalement inhumain. Comme les révolutionnaires français de la Terreur, qu’il admirait, et comme la plupart de ses futurs adeptes et « idiots utiles », des « intellectuels » de l’Ecole de Francfort, puis Sartre et Cie jusqu’aux néo-marxistes qui pontifient aujourd’hui, il était fils de cette bourgeoisie qu’il exécrait et avait eu accès à un enseignement supérieur pour en faire le pire usage: détruire un système existant (la propriété privée et le capitalisme) afin d’instaurer la dictature d’un prolétariat qui n’en demandait pas tant, prétexte en fait pour la dictature étatiste d’une oligarchie sur les peuples.

Marx s’est trompé sur tout. Sa théorie économique a échoué partout, laissant des champs de ruines. Ses idées sociétales également, son « déterminisme historique » étant voué, comme tous les déterminismes, à être brisé par les faits. Après les duretés des débuts, le capitalisme s’est révélé la plus grande force de progrès social que l’humanité ait connue. Les lieutenants de l’idéologie marxiste version dure ont laissé des noms dont la seule évocation fait froid dans le dos: Lénine, Staline, Pol Pot, les Kim coréens, Castro, Chavez, Maduro…mais ceux de la version édulcorée, Alliende, Peron…,tout en échouant lamentablement, ont laissé une trace « romantique » indue.

Il faut un procès du communisme et du marxisme, comme il y eut Nüremberg contre le nazisme.

Et justement, dans les archives du National Sozialismus d’Hitler trouvées en 1945, les Alliés ont découvert des documents provenant du conseiller économique Funk qui détaillent le maître-plan du Führer, plan qui incluait « une intégration économique de l’Europe et la création d’une Europe fédérale », elle même fondée sur la conviction de…nul autre que Lénine! « Que la fédération était la solution transitoire pour parvenir à une union complète de toutes les nations ».

Le mondialisme est une idée socialo-marxiste.

A l’entrée du Parlement Européen, une plaque avertit le visiteur que « La souveraineté nationale est la source des maux les plus criants de notre époque et que le seul remède final à ce mal, c’est une union fédérale des peuples ».

« Remède final »? Cela fait écho à « la solution radicale » de Marx et à « la solution finale » d’Hitler. Troublant.

Ainsi, l’UE n’est pas que le produit des élucubrations cyniques d’un Jean Monnet: elle est le dernier avatar d’une idéologie révolutionnaire, totalitaire, criminelle, génocidaire. Elle parle des maux du passé alors qu’elle compile toutes les théories issues du marxisme qui ont amené tant de malheurs.

Juncker, qui devrait porter un bonnet à grelots, assume ces racines mauvaises tout en refusant d’en reconnaître la malignité.

Le « marxisme culturel » qui sévit en Occident aujourd’hui est l’unique réussite de Marx. IL anime tous les mouvements de gauche, quels que soient les noms trompeurs qu’ils se donnent (travailliste, socialiste, démocrate, progressiste, liberal-démocrate, social-démocrate…), des bobos inconscients jusqu’à l’ultra-gauche internationale ultra violente, hyper motivée et subventionnée.

Bien sûr, l’UE n’a ni camps ni victimes physiques. Mais elle est ouvertement autoritaire et s’adonne à un capitalisme dévoyé: capitalisme de copinage qui ne profite qu’aux gros intérêts avant de devenir un capitalisme d’Etat à la chinoise. Elle broie les peuples, elle oppresse les classes moyennes, elle a déjà instauré sa dictature en ce qui concerne l’écologisme et la mise au pas des médias.

Et comme Marx, l’UE se trompe sur tout.

Le marché de dupes signé avec l’Iran (dont Trump vient de la sauver bien malgré elle) et le discours marxiste de Juncker devraient guider le choix des électeurs au prochain scrutin.

Evelyne Joslain

BCiP Member

PESCO vs NATO: The European Military-Industrial Complex

avril 17th, 2018

BCiP member Evelyne Joslain compares the EU’s proposed  « Permanent Structural Cooperation » (PESCO) concept for an integrated European Defence Force with the proven security of NATO backed by American power.

PESCO contre OTAN: LE COMPLEXE MILITARO-INDUSTRIEL EUROPEEN__ Evelyne Joslain, le 11 avril 2018

Le verdict de John Bolton sur l’UE, en 2016, était le suivant: « L’UE est aux prises avec d’énormes problèmes__financiers, migratoires, sécuritaires et autres, dont une monnaie en difficulté et aucun contrôle sur les crypto-monnaies qui se développent. L’Amérique voulait une Europe forte, or, l’UE est un ensemble moindre dans cette structure artificielle que n’était l’Europe avec la somme de ses nations libres ».

Espérons que Bolton réussira, sans le dire, ce que Ted Malloch, initialement considéré comme éventuel ambassadeur américain à l’UE, s’était vanté imprudemment de vouloir faire à cette monstrueuse structure supranationale: donner une impulsion calculée pour son implosion qui est de toute façon inévitable, comme l’était celle de l’URSS.

Cela serait un secours providentiel par l’extérieur car il est évident que les Euro-forcenés au gouvernail de cette nef des fous deviennent de plus en plus irrationnels et sont déjà surpuissants, vouant à l’échec toute révolte intérieure.

Un des écueils vers lesquels ils nous mènent, leur dernière marotte, lancée en novembre 2017,  c’est un nouveau « club » appelé PESCO (Permanent Structural Cooperation), c’est à dire une force de défense intégrée, (premier pas vers une armée supranationale avec son QG et un ministre) fondée par le Fond de Défense Européen, censée assurer aux 27 une « égalité de sécurité » (sic!). Ce qui est en complète contradiction avec « la libre circulation des personnes et des marchandises »…

Une fois encore, on est en pleine utopie impériale égalitaire.

Les Anglais, qui eux sortent du cauchemar intégrationniste, ont sur la question des vues très sobres. Conscients que  la sécurité de l’Europe est due à la présence de l’OTAN depuis 70 ans, ils ont le bon sens de concentrer leurs contributions militaires vers la seule alliance qui ait fait ses preuves, qui est en train de se renforcer à l’Est et pour laquelle quelques changements salutaires sont en discussion, comme le largage possible de la Turquie…

L’idée d’une défense européenne a elle aussi 70 ans et reste une vieille mauvaise idée car on ne peut qu’être sceptique sur son hypothétique réalisation. Mais les Euro-forcenés, toujours les mêmes (le « couple franco-allemand », Juncker et Cie), ont trouvé de nouveaux arguments de vente: « la sécurité sera renforcée, les faiblesses de l’Europe seront plus facilement repérées, la défense sera moins chère et l’Allemagne, stimulée par la France, va redevenir une vraie puissance militaire »…

Tout cela serait drôle si c’était sans conséquences.

Or, en novembre dernier, si 23 pays ont signé pour leur adhésion, ce que l’inénarrable Federica Mogherini juge  » historique »,  il s’avère que le fonds de plusieurs milliards d’euros requis pour soutenir le pacte n’est toujours pas réuni; que les pays de l’EU déjà réticents, la plupart défaillants, à payer la quote-part de 2% de leur PNB à l’OTAN, envisagent de gaspiller leurs maigres allocations au militaire sur ce projet alors même qu’ils vont être privés de 12 milliards d’euros par an du fait du départ des Britanniques; que des conflits de financement sont donc à prévoir entre OTAN et PESCO; que les activités concrètes de PESCO, qui serait opérationnel en 2025 avec pas moins de 17 « projets militaires »(!), ne sont pas clairement définies (on soupçonne des missions humanitaires, style ONU) et que les capacités militaires actuelles de la quasi-totalité des pays de l’UE sont risibles au regard de telles ambitions.

Par exemple, les trois corps d’armée allemands, la Bundeswehr, la Deutsche Marine, la Luftwaffe connaissent aujourd’hui des carences en matériel et en personnel qui les rendent impropres à une défense collective, malgré toutes les rumeurs de « remilitarisation du pays ». L’état militaire mental en est encore plus éloigné. En 1944, Patton disait des Allemands: « Il faut leur reconnaître une chose: ce sont des guerriers ». Il avait raison mais cela n’est plus vrai. Les Allemands ont été dénaturés par la culpabilité.

Qui pourrait croire qu’avec leur nouvelle mentalité pacifiste, les Allemands (l’un des deux pseudo-piliers du PESCO), se mobiliseraient pour les pays baltes, la Pologne, l’Italie, la Grèce?

Bref, beaucoup de grandiloquentes et vagues déclarations et seulement deux certitudes: une nouvelle bureaucratie, donc des impôts supplémentaires (puisqu’il ne serait pas question d’alléger les états-providence européens pour autant) et l’affirmation d’un orgueil aussi mal placé que dangereux à se désengager de notre unique protection fiable. Les récentes frappes en Syrie démontrent que, hors de leur propre sol, les Européens ne sont militairement crédibles qu’alliés à la force de frappe américaine.

Certains, par anti-américanisme pur, rêvent d’un « bloc continental » qui tournerait le dos à la « thalassocratie atlantique » (comme si nous Français n’avions pas toute légitimité géopolitique à en être !) et envisageraient même des accords militaires futurs entre PESCO et des voisins comme la Turquie et la Russie.

On peut craindre le pire.

Mais à l’évidence, derrière la publicité pour le projet actuel, se profilent des intérêts politiques et industriels qui n’ont pas grand chose à voir avec la sécurité de 500 millions d’Européens.

Russia and Salisbury – Why did Putin really do it?

avril 10th, 2018

Former BCiP member Robin Baker poses the question of the real motivation behind the attempted assassination in Salisbury: 

The attempted assassination in Salisbury of Sergei and Yulia Skripal, presumably on the orders of President Putin, is hardly surprising. Both Russian and Soviet autocrats have regarded the right to have their opponents killed off as one of the perquisites of their office since Tsarist times. Stalin had Trotsky, then living in Mexico, murdered in 1940. Few will have forgotten the assassination of Georgi Markov by a poison tipped umbrella in London in 1978 or the killing of Alexander Litvinenko by poisoning with radioactive polonium-210 in 2006. The number of deaths in the UK in recent years that can be attributed to Russian agents is thought to be as many as 14.

However the attempt on the lives of the Skrypals has a unique and disturbing feature: it was carried out in a way that posed grave risks to other members of the local community, in fact by smearing the deadly nerve agent over the front door handle of Sergei Skripal’s house. Theresa May had come under much criticism over her reaction as Home Secretary for having tried to block investigations into the facts of the Litvinenko case on the grounds that they could endanger Anglo-Russian relations. It would seem that the method used on this occasion could have been designed to provoke a harsh reaction from the May government.

If it were so designed it was brilliantly successful, as was the reaction itself. May’s achievement not only through the steps taken by the British Government’s but in generating similar actions from friendly states, has been outstanding. Even Boris Johnson has been widely praised for his success as Foreign Secretary, something unprecedented in the life of this government. So Theresa May’s position as Prime Minister has been significantly strengthened. How does that impact on Putin?

Putin does not like the European Union. Russia does not wish to join nor would it be permitted to do so, the Russians see the post Warsaw pact adhesion of former allies to both NATO and to the EU as surrounding them and that they regard as a threat. So Putin perceives it as in his interest for the EU to be damaged.

The United Kingdom leaving the EU will certainly damage both the UK and the EU itself. This is now generally expected to happen. However it remains dependent on Theresa May winning the necessary parliamentary votes. That the Government is not confident of winning votes on Brexit in the House of Commons is shown by the fact that they have been avoiding them after their defeat by Dominic Grieve’s amendment to the Brexit Bill. That amendment means that MP’s will now have the right to vote on approving or rejecting the final terms of the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union. Should they vote to reject them the Government still cannot leave the EU without parliamentary approval, so MPs would vote to approve leaving without a deal. It is far from certain that the Commons would support such an outcome.

Theresa May’s weak position has previously encouraged Conservative MPs to vote against her. The strengthening of her position following the Salisbury attack may well make that less probable.

The question in my mind is whether that is what Putin wanted all along?

Robin Baker

Brexit and Transition – a view from France.

avril 4th, 2018

BREXIT ET TRANSITION – a view from France by BCiP member Evelyne Joslain, le 31 mars 2018:

Le 29 mars, le Ministre du Brexit, David Davis, a publié un article dans Brexit Central pour rappeler à ses compatriotes les progrès accomplis dans les négociations et pour faire le point: « Dans un an d’aujourd’hui, après des décennies d’adhésion, des années de
consternation et des mois d’âpres négociations, nous quitterons enfin l’EU et ce jour-là restera dans l’histoire ».

S’il est indéniable que les négociations ont pris beaucoup de retard du fait des blocages multiples dus à l’esprit de revanche mesquin des Eurocrates, les Brexiteurs ont tout de même bien avancé depuis le déclenchement de l’Article 50 et Theresa May, malgré ses
faiblesses et ses contradictions, a fait preuve d’un certain courage dans la tempête et d’une ténacité surprenante, comme si elle était dopée par les attaques de tous bords.

Le Projet de Retrait de l’UE est passé au Parlement malgré les Euro-nostalgiques fielleux et frileux. Début 2018, la « note de départ » à payer a en fin été fixée: 37.1 milliards de Livres Sterling payables sur…45 ans. Car si cette union douanière (aux droits de douanes très élevés du reste !) affiche entrée libre, la sortie, elle, ne l’est pas.

La priorité était de régler le coté humain afin de rassurer les citoyens directement concernés dans leur vie personnelle et pour désamorcer les tensions : le sort des expatriés anglais dans l’EU est désormais résolu tout comme celui des membres de l’Union vivant au Royaume Uni, dont 3 millions de Français exiles fiscalement à Londres et qui ne reviendront jamais. Les statuts de résidence sont inchangés et c’est une immense victoire d’avoir obtenu cela.

Enfin, le fameux accord marchand entre l’Angleterre libérée et l’UE, si épineux en raison des services financiers à inclure, est en bonne voie. Rappelons que le slogan des Brexiteurs ces derniers mois était: « pas d’accord, pas d’argent ». Au cas où l’impasse n’aurait pu être brisée, les Britanniques étaient déterminés à claquer la porte et à rejoindre l’OMC. Ce qu’ils pourraient encore faire en cas de coup bas imprévu car « rien n’est acquis tant que rien n’est définitivement établi ».

Reste en souffrance la question de la frontière irlandaise: les prétentions de l’UE à vouloir garder l’Irlande du Nord dans le Marché Unique et dans l’Union Douanière ne prévaudront jamais car c’est là une chose qui ferait éclater le royaume jusque-là uni, ce  « qu’aucun  Premier Ministre britannique ne pourrait accepter », a sèchement rétorqué May. Aussi l’obstacle est-il reculé à la toute fin du processus de sortie, ce qui est plus logique puisque l’on ne connaitra les détails de l’accord marchand UK_UE qu’en fin de parcours.

Enfin, a été conclu un accord pour une période de transition (Transition Deal) et là aussi les Brexiteurs marquent des points même si les plus pressés y voient un retard inutile vers le but ultime qui est de retrouver leur souveraineté pleine et entière à se gouverner
soi-même, leur système juridique ancestral, la liberté d’avoir sa propre politique étrangère et de commercer avec qui l’on veut. Ce qui n’empêche nullement le royaume d’être toujours une nation de la vieille Europe et de continuer une collaboration consentie dans certains domaines.

Pendant la transition, point capital car il répond aux revendications libertariennes du mouvement, les Brexiteurs ont obtenu le droit de pouvoir négocier les futurs traités marchands avec le reste du monde. En revanche, ils ont échoué à supprimer la Politique Pêchière Commune, l’équivalent sur mer de la PAC honnie, et l’industrie de la pêche, qui a beaucoup contribué à la victoire du 23 juin 2016, se sent à juste titre trahie. Toutefois, la transition est strictement limitée à 21 mois après le 29 mars 2019, ce qui place le jour de la libération totale des Anglais, et de leurs pêcheurs, au 29 décembre 2020.

De plus, l’attaque de Salisbury a ranimé un sentiment de sympathie appréciable envers nos amis anglais. De savoir qu’ils sont à mi-parcours et qu’ils tiennent le bon bout devrait faire passer la pilule de la transition. Qu’est-ce que 21 mois de plus dans le temps long d’une nation?

De plus, pour les aider à ronger leur frein, ils peuvent comparer leur sort au nôtre. Eux descendent de la galère tandis que nous, nous ramons enchainés, à cadence infernale, vers des écueils évidents mais que les élites aux commandes ne voient pas, ivres de leur vanité et aveuglées par une utopie qui est à contre-courant de l’histoire.

Or, l’Histoire n’est jamais charitable envers ceux qui cherchent à lui barrer la route…

Best Wishes for Easter from Erika Angelidi

avril 2nd, 2018

“This is Erika Angelidi, the Representative of the Conservatives Abroad in Greece.
I wish to all Happy Easter! May Peace and Joy be in your hearts!”

Thank you Erika. Our best wishes for Easter to you in return from British Conservatives in Paris, together with our thanks to you for your thoughtful contributions to our blog.

 

 

The Conservative Party and Young People in 2018

mars 23rd, 2018

The Problem of Commitment to the Conservative Party

A personal view by BCiP Member Peter Huggins:

The CPF paper and covering note* set out the scale of the problem and the background to it in a clear and coherent manner. However, the nature of the problem needs further clarification.

The CPF paper speaks of two thirds of young people ‘supporting Labour’ at the last general election. This reflects the proportion of young people voting Labour. To speak of ‘support’ in this context is misleading. Authoritative and broadly based  survey results demonstrate unequivocally that young people voted Labour for two main reasons unrelated to left-wing ideology:

  1. They found the degree of Europhobia of the Labour party less alien than the more radical Tory version, or at least that of vocal groups in the party;
  2. The Labour party promised them relief from the financial burdens of higher education, especially university education

On point 1), survey results have showed that young people were particularly influenced by the expected worsening of job and career prospects through Brexit. They were also influenced by wider social and cultural considerations. To a young Londoner, Vilnius or Budapest or Coimbra are less remote than Dundee or Scunthorpe were to an older generation. Young Britons do not have a strong feeling of identity distinct from that of the Rest of Europe. To them, most of the rhetoric of the Brexiteers is simply anachronistic. When I was young and my parents spoke of the Boar War, it sounded almost like something from the Old Testament. Many young people appear to locate Brexit arguments similarly far away from their own interests and concerns.

*Reference is to the documentation for the Conservative Policy Forum of 22nd February 2018 and the BCiP response to which is the subject of the previous article on this blog.

Young people in a slightly older age group had other reasons not to vote Conservative. For example, they linked Conservative policies to the lack of affordable housing and to commuting costs which many were aware to be by far the highest in Europe.

Point 2) is very straightforward. If promised free university tuition by one party and tuition financed by massive personal debt by the other, rational self-interest implies choice of the former.

To those  in yet older groups and with wider political and economic interests, the choice was something like that suggested by Heseltine: – five years in the salt mines with Jeremy Corbyn or a life sentence with Boris Johnson in cloud cuckoo land.

There follows an obvious  answer to the central CPF question: ‘What should the Conservatives be doing in policy terms to help restore the confidence of young voters?’ The answer is obvious but its proposal at a Conservative conference would be distasteful heresy. The overwhelming majority of young people are staunch remainers who are not optimistic about the party changing its Brexit course.. Some might be won over by concessions on university fees but the majority will vote for other parties unless the Conservative party changes heart on Europe. For the moment, it seems more attracted to the Brideshead Revisited world of Jacob Rees-Mogg. The party can take consolation from the fact that 95% of the  95+ age group of Conservative voters doubtless share the views of Rees-Mogg. (Jacob, of course, not his very sensible father who ran The Times so successfully.) In doing so, it risks ignoring the fact that only one in five or so young people voted Conservative at the last general election. If the party really wants to win back the young, it must honestly and competently produce arguments and policies to convince them that Conservatism corresponds better to their aspirations than the Labour and LibDem alternatives. The job will be particularly difficult in coming months because of the May local elections. These will be dominated by pro-remain London  with its enlightened, moderate and popular mayor. Skill will be needed to present a convincing Conservative message against the pragmatic and plausible Labour message for London already in place. This message is quite distinct from the ‘loony left’ message of the national Labour leadership.Extraordinarily, the sympathy of the CBI and the City may favour Labour rather than the Conservatives in the May elections

Education, Training and Employment

Finding an under 30 Conservative voter is rather like sighting a Dartford warbler, a rare event worthy of excited reports negating with relief the assumption of extinction. A major factor in the alarming decline of the young Tory  species is that of concern about education, training and employment. At this time of the year, the annual cycle of company recruitment to graduate traineeships starts to get under way. When times are good, this is a season for optimism and celebration as graduates begin to reap the benefits of their studies and move confidently into a new and exciting phase in their lives. First reports on 2018 suggest that UK companies will be recruiting 10/20% fewer graduate trainees this year because of Brexit uncertainties. This is a depressing situation for those in their last year at university but also an alarming indicator about the way UK-based companies see the future. Many have already announced plans to be less UK-based in the future or even to move their HQ from Britain. There is ample evidence for this in reports from the CBI and other employers’ organisations. The City is especially pessimistic. Somewhat more anecdotal evidence suggests that there is a similar trend in apprenticeships, an area anyway long-neglected in the UK compared to Germany, Austria the NL, Scandinavia, Switzerland and other top-end OECD countries.

The CPF note on training and education is thorough and comprehensive. In the main,  it provides a good starting point for government policies to help the economy and young people at the same time as restoring confidence in the Conservative party. If  British  industry, commerce and the financial system are to thrive or even survive in the post-Brexit environment, effective training and education are  essential. Furthermore, the UK government also needs  to think in terms of replacing in the British economy the Polish plumbers, Slovak nurses, Italian hotel staff and French IT start-up aces and all the other bright young people  who may be  repelled by Brexit.

While the CPF note is generally competently written, it does seem to deviate from the traditional Conservative free market doctrine in making the prediction of technological trends rather too much a government function and too little a function for the private sector. Perhaps this is related to a certain breakdown of confidence between the party and employers’ associations whose views on economic prospects do not concur with the Brave New World Brexit ideology of many party members.      There is also some influence from the hard Brexit invent your own facts school.

Too much weight in the note is given to trendy mantras about digitalisation and robotisation linked with neo-Luddite warnings about how these developments will destroy jobs without creating new ones.      Beware also techno-bandwagons.  For example, those now pontificating about the need to prepare for all electric car fleets can learn a lesson from the past. The majority of taxis in New York in 1900 were electric and the electric car, not petrol or Diesel, was then expected to dominate in future. In fact, within half a dozen years,  the market for electric cars collapsed for just the reasons that now, without generous government subsidies, it might not survive. Then as now batteries are too heavy, take valuable space, provide only a limited range and require expensive infrastructure with big questions about who pays.

This is not to say that governments should not be thinking about future techno-trends. They should but not without listening to the players in the market and their organisations. And government should let private investors punt their money on expected trends, not risk tax-payers’ cash.

Fortunately there are valuable mines of information on education and apprenticeships  to be exploited by the government and the Conservative party. Inter alia, I would recommend the regular reports that the OECD makes on education and apprenticeships and the very good Oct. 2017 report by the Dep. Of Ed on further education and skills in England.

Possible Conclusions

Rather than prejudging the results of reflections by the party at this stage, I would recommend scrupulous honesty  in approaching the young voter crisis. Boris Johnson campaign bus slogans  alienate rather than convince the young. The struggle to bring young voters back to the Tory fold requires intelligence and dedication. Bombastic and unfounded propaganda is counter-productive

Peter Huggins, BCiP Member

 

 

Training & Skills for a 21st Century Workforce – BCiP’s Conservative Policy Forum (CPF) Response

mars 23rd, 2018
   
CPF Group: British Conservatives in Paris (CPF Group)
CPF Coordinator: Paul Thomson
Email address:  
Number of attendees Student <25s Other <25s 25-40 >40
    2    0    0    8
Date of meeting 22nd February 2018
If you have a Conservative MP, please tick this box to confirm that you have sent a copy of this response to your MP:  
Data Sharing Information: We occasionally like to share CPF comments in a public domain. Please indicate whether you would like any such comments quoted from your Group’s responses to be attributed to your Group, to be anonymous or to remain private:
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1. Whose responsibility should training be: the citizen, schools and universities, the employer, the state, or all of them?   –  ALL OF THEM 

In the Armed Forces when you sign-up all training is paid for in return to several years’ service, but this is not the case in the rest of the public sector. Is this fair? What new contract might we offer our citizens?  –  NOT DISCUSSED

 

2. How might a Conservative Government seek to boost productivity across the UK?  –  PLEASE REFER TO OTHER ANSWERS

 

3. In what ways could the UK build on its world-class reputation for training and expand opportunities for lifelong vocational education and training? Do we need a top-down national skills programme or a bottom-up sectoral or geographical approach?  –  (i) There is too much emphasis on university studies at the expense of technical studies/training.  The Swiss sytem should be noted:  20% go to university; yet the country has one of the most competitive economies in the world (as well as a vibrant democracy).   (ii) Public awareness should be raised as to the export of British engineering services – asserted by a participant to be the largest source of GB exports.   (iii) The disinclination to pursue “STEM” might be countered by different evaluation methods at the secondary level.  Some secondary students may be put off following a STEM area of specialisation on the grounds that it would make it more difficult to obtain a place in a better university.   (iv) More innovative schools like the Paris region one now quite famous called “L’Ecole 42” (founded by Xavier Niel) which uses innovative pedagogical methods to encourage young people (from a variety of backgrounds) to be inventive and development an entrepreneurial bent would be desirable.   (v) More drawing on the successful apprenticeship systems used in Germany, Switzerland & Austria – which ensure a trained young work force corresponding more to employer/market needs and thereby also reducing youth unemployment.  (In France there is also a university level version of the same idea, involving alternating between formal studies and work in for an employer.)   (vi) The quality of the teaching of science in the UK leaves something to be desired:  that likely discourages some young people from embarking on further studies in science.

 

4. In what ways does training need to catch up with the changing skill requirements of modern technology? Are there any new and innovative models of training in your area that could be used elsewhere?  –  SEE RESPONSE TO Q3

 

5. How should a Conservative Government deal with possible widening income gaps arising from increased automation?  –  (i) One younger participant:  hands off (ie redistribution not welcomed)!   (ii) An older participant:  moving to ensure minimum income levels possibly including redistribution mechanisms may have justification in certain circumstances.  The government has a responsibility to take care that society does not unravel.   (iii) Cf the “gig economy”.  Some considered this to be a promising avenue for individuals to be active in the economy (though the real-life relative impact on personal financial outcomes – income & wealth levels for example – were not explored).

 

6. What policies should a Conservative Government adopt to balance the need for improved training and productivity in the UK with any desire to reduce our reliance on skilled technical expertise from abroad? How might these be paid for?  –  (i)  GB should “copy” the US in leveraging defence spending to stimulate both research (in companies & at universities/research institutes etc) as well as business development for the GB economy not just in the defence sector but in other sectors where applications of technological advances first achieved in the defence sector could be discovered/developed.   (ii) At the same time cooperation agreements (allowing for sharing of IP, marketing rights etc) with suitable non-GB partners should be encouraged especially where GB is not in a position to “go it alone”.  Defence cooperation arrangements and the broader relationship in this regard with France is a positive example.   (iii) Separate from (i) above:  increases in levels of defence spending could have a positive effect by ratcheting up the leverage benefit stimulus impact to a higher level.

 

Other Comments (if any)

A.    On positioning of the Party and certain of its leading figures:  (i) One young participant:  the party is not considered “cool” by young people:  a handicap.   (ii) A different young participant:  the party needs to stand up for itself – its values as well as its policies – more generally and with more assurance:  this would enhance credibility & appeal including to younger people.   (iii) Re J Rees-Mogg:  the young participants:  JRM has a “serious following” among young people.  He has authenticity; & does not hesitate to stand up for monarchy & British values & culture.  Support for him among young people is not tinged with the irony (or professed irony?) signaled by some young people with respect to Boris Johnson – which did not appear to indicated that BJ was not also genuinely appreciated by younger people.

B.   On CPF Brief 17-4 re Youth (as to which we regrettably missed the 31.12.18 deadline and which, to catch up, was discussed at the same 22.2.18 meeting):   (i) Young Participants:  the Party needs to be more aggressive in going out to find young supporters.  (ii) Idem:  … and to welcoming those who do express interest (some offputting experiences of bad management of the same were described).   (iii) Idem:  … and to be more modern in its modes of communication – using more & better such instruments as SnapChat, Instagram, Twitter etc – more friendly and more efficient.   (iv) More marketing savvy was needed:  cf Corbyn’s “coup” by appearing at Glastonbury – deemed effective politically by the the young participants.   (v) Should the glorious history of the Party be played up?  Views varied.   (vi) Re the economic deck of cards stacked against them (for the young):  (a) The young participants did not seem too fussed by this (perhaps not in the line of fire).  (b) Some of the older ones though thought there were real issues to be addressed; and that if they were not addressed in a substantial way the Party would risk substantial political damage among the younger generation because their “plight” is entirely real (not imagined) & is characterized by a simultaneous accumulation of structural disadvantages that can jeopardise their individual economic development & well-being for their entire lives.  If not all older people deign to take cognizance of this, the vast majority of young people are painfully aware of it and it can colour their view of society & politics in a not insignificant way.   (vii) Selling Brexit to young people?  (a) A young participant:  difficult because ski holidays may become more bothersome to organize – ie if a visa might now be needed.  (b) An older participant:  Brexit is inherently unsellable given the current state of uncertainty.   (viii) Tuition fees etc:  (a) It was pointed out that on the Continent such fees in most universities are nominal – how therefore could one say there is no alternative thereto?  (b) The rate of interest charged on student loans (semble 6.1%) was considered apparently by all to be outrageously – and mind-bogglingly – high (in view of current low market interest rate levels).  (c) On the question of lower tuition fees there was no consensus – with there being apparently support for the status quo, for some drawing back from the same (some fee reductions), & for a return to the pre-Blair levels.   (ix) Cheaper Housing for Young People:  (a) Expansion of housing supply was diversely appreciated as a concept:  (I) some did not want new housing “in their backyard” eg on greenbelt or otherwise vacant land nearby; (II) others though it was indispensable to increase supply by significantly increasing building activity – given the ongoing disequilibrium between supply & demand overall.  (b) Disincentives to absent owner-“occupants”:  several agreed that the market was suffering significantly from the distortions caused by wealthy investors taking up housing to invest/park wealth not otherwise engaged.  The marginal benefit to these people, not necessarily all British citizens, should be compared to the marginal detriment to those completely frozen out of the housing market and/or forced to live at huge distances from their place of work, to spend inordinate amounts of time in public transit etc (and many in this latter group may be British citizens – therefore having a certain call to having their needs taken into account by the political decision-makers).  Several considered that higher taxes on empty housing units would be justified; though all did not necessarily support this idea.  The idea of limiting/strictly regulating purchases by foreigners/non-residents of housing was not discussed, however, due to lack of time.

 

 

 

FEEDBACK ON PAPERS
What do you find useful?  –  The two briefs covered above were considered to be of very good quality by the participants – well organised, presented & articulated. 

 

What you do not find helpful?

 

Do you have any suggestions for how we might improve future briefings?

 

Thank You.  Please return to: CPF.Papers@conservatives.com