Conservative Policy Forum (CPF) - Values (3/3)

octobre 17th, 2017

Our consolidated response to the Conservative Party Policy Forum questionnaire on “Values” can be found below:

Name of Constituency: Conservatives Abroad
Name of CPF Group: British Conservatives in Paris
Name of CPF Coordinator: Paul Thomson
Number of attendees: 8
Contact details for response:
Paul Thomson
BCiP Vice Chairman & CPF Secretary
Date of meeting: 29th September 2017

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Question 1: Compile a list of up to a dozen values that your group considers to be Conservative values – the distinctive and enduring core priorities that we should draw on in navigating the challenges of our age.
• Favouring reform over revolution • For representative parliamentary democracy
• For the rule of law and for a law-abiding & orderly society • For community
• For the notion of human stewardship (a responsibility which brings with it obligations & an ennobling endowment) • For the dignity of the human person – associated with a sense of tolerance for differences
• Patriotism – love of “nation” (though not in an ethnic sense) and country • Acceptance of the fallibility of humans
• Appreciation for tradition(s) – respect for the past at the same time as openness to the future • For the “conservatism of the working man”
• For pragmatism • For “aspiration”, freedom & a healthy individualism

Question 2: A short summary (up to 40 words) of what you understand by:
a. Modern Conservatism
We did not attempt to define these terms
b. Compassionate Conservatism
Idem
c. One Nation Conservatism
Idem
d. Blue Collar Conservatism
Idem
Having defined each of the phrases, on a scale of 0 to 10, to what extent do each of them resonate with your group’s ideas of Conservativism?
Comment: there was no unitary group view on any of the four items. Specific scores are instead indicated.
Modern Conservatism 0 1X1 2 3X1 4X2 5X2 6 7 8 9 10X2
Compassionate Conservatism 0 1X1 2X1 3X4 4 5 6 7 8 9 10X2
One Nation Conservatism 0 1X2 2 3 4X1 5X2 6 7 8 9 10X2
Blue Collar Conservatism 0 1X1 2 3X1 4X3 5 6 7 8X1 9 10X2

Question 3a: In what areas of life, our communities and the country would you say discrimination, division and the need for real equality [Comment: we agreed this was not the proper concept – instead fairness should be considered] still persists? Rank the areas that you have identified according to how great a cause for concern you think they are.
• (In no particular ranking:)
- Education is too plutocratic (cf desirability of supporting grammar schools or finding some (better?) equivalent
- Foreign languages should be compulsory to a much greater degree – to enable those from a less highly educated/cultivated background to be less disadvantaged compared to those exposed to foreign cultures/languages because of family influence
- Young people need to be given a better overall “deal” going into adult life: the combination of high housing prices, high student debt and low wage growth is crippling – consider (a) lower tuition fees (university), (b) material increase in housing supply, (c) otherwise employing tools to reduce the cost of housing for the younger generation


Question 3b: To what extent do you think it is the responsibility of the Government, of businesses, of charities, of families, of individuals and of other institutions in society to tackle entrenched disadvantage and to promote equality in these areas?
• Not covered due to shortage of time
• • •

Question 4: What Conservative principles do you think should guide the Government’s approach to reforms in each of the following areas? - Idem
• Brexit negotiations

• Social reform

• Political reform

Other Comments (if any)

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

Conservative Policy Forum (CPF) - Values (2/3)

octobre 2nd, 2017

Considering the post-Brexit era Erika Angelidi, the Conservatives Abroad Representative in Greece, has provided us with the second part of her input for the Conservative Policy Forum (CPF) on Values.

“In my opinion, Conservative values are values without which one could not talk of civilization, history or society, as they encompass traditional values and institutions. To these values belongs memory as is safeguarded by history. Historical memory and the traditional values are kept alive by the Conservatives.

The British, as a people, acknowledge the value of history and custom and ensure that novelty is weld upon these. This is a trait and a wisdom that is scarce in the modern world.

Another traditional moral value that Conservatism speaks for is courageousness. This is linked with the virtue of bravely addressing difficulties and not succumbing. Churchill is said to have stated the following: “Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities because it is the quality that guarantees all others”.

The Conservatives also believe in freedom and justice, without which a just society is nonexistent. It is one of the basic pillars of deeply democratic countries in the world. I am reassured of the fact that the Conservative values will play the most significant role in world history in the future as well.”

Erika Angelidi,
the Conservatives Abroad Representative Greece
Athens

Conservative Policy Forum (CPF) - Values (1/3)

septembre 27th, 2017

Considering the post-Brexit era Erika Angelidi, the Conservatives Abroad Representative in Greece, has provided us with the following input for our Conservative Policy Forum (CPF) discussion meeting on the 29th September. The rest of her text on the CPF’s subject of “Conservative Values” is expected in the next few days:

“Our first priority is and should remain the well-being of the British people and the permanence of the influence and radiance of British culture.

My suggestion is therefore the following: that the afflicted groups of the population such as the homeless or those in a weaker financial state must be supported, so that we may all, as a body, enter the post-Brexit era.

I would like to suggest that local communities express more of their own voice and everyone be urged to partake as an active citizen. If citizens were to express their demands and solutions on a local level periodically (every 2-3 months), and these were documented and forwarded to the parliamentary members concerned, this goal would be attained. This would be an efficient instrument in aiding the growth of local communities as well as improving their living conditions.

Another sector that could be ameliorated is education, which is the “bread of life”. A means to its improvement is for teachers to work voluntarily and offer supporting classes, especially for the needier groups of the population.

We live in times where a new future arises and we need to critically reflect on ways to ameliorate our existing situation, as we are called to make history in the post-Brexit era.”

Erika Angelidi
Conservatives Abroad Representative Greece
Athens

Keeping the Bridges Open (Conservative Group for Europe).

septembre 25th, 2017

The Conservative Group for Europe have published a policy options paper: “Keeping the Bridges Open”, written by Joe Egerton, a specialist in regulation. He was a research assistant to The Rt Hon Maurice Macmillan MP, he has been a Conservative parliamentary and county council candidate and has his own consultancy business. Advising the Conservatives under a Labour government he became an expert on how determined back bench MPs can force governments to abandon legislation.

The paper is a detailed and indeed lengthy analysis of problems arising from Brexit and the extent to which the negotiation of a transitional period can help to resolve them. Within it there are some very important issues that I (Robin Baker) had certainly not appreciated before reading it. The purpose of this summary is therefore to bring them to the attention of a wider audience.

The paper’s argument is that there is no possibility of a smooth transition taking place in March 2019 to a world in which the UK is no longer part of the European Economic Area. (The EEA comprises the current 28 EU member states plus Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein who are EFTA member states; they largely participate in the European single market.) Even moving from the EU to the EEA in so short a time is highly problematic – over half the EU body of law, the acquis, would cease to apply overnight, including the EURATOM treaty and its associated international agreements.

The problems that arise from that are the following. The paper argues that a White Paper concerning their resolution is essential.

The Henry VIII clauses

These clauses in the Withdrawal Bill permit ministers to change the law of England without the assent of the House of Commons. They also allow the government to change the law of Scotland, but do not alter the Scottish Parliament’s power to enact primary legislation, that could lead to constitutional conflict. Dominic Grieve has described these proposals as making it “an extraordinary monstrosity of a Bill.”

Ministers claim that they are necessary because the changes needed to incorporate European Law into British law are too complicated to be considered by parliament in the time available. This could be avoided by having a long transition period to give time for the changes to be considered fully by the British legislative bodies.

Northern Ireland
The problem of the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic after Brexit appear almost intractable. The Government has published “a position paper” on Northern Ireland and Ireland that emphasises the importance of the “interim period”

Legal Certainty
Many business and individual contracts will continue post Brexit. Continuing legal certainty on their operation and mechanisms for resolving disputes is essential so that judgments and decisions by arbitrators can be enforced. Clarity as to how decisions of the European Court of Justice are to be regarded by British judges after Brexit is essential and Parliament must legislate clearly and unambiguously.

Systems and Physical Infrastructure
Our current trade and border systems were designed for the EU systems. If these were to cease to apply in March 2019 many of them would be incapable of coping with WTO requirements. The problem is not simply one of updating IT systems (complex and costly though that is) but of adding infrastructure and physical resources. This may require complete new facilities – for example, the cliffs behind the Port of Dover limit the space for lorries and indeed other vehicles. Creating new IT and physical systems would be neither easy nor quick even if we knew what was going to be required, but we do not and will not until agreement is reached with the EU on a number of areas. So, as yet, we cannot even state the system requirements. Big systems are notoriously costly and prone to failure; the Government’s record of managing the introduction of complex new IT systems in a hurry does not inspire confidence. The National Audit Office has doubts as to whether HMRC’s new customs system (designed only to meet the limited needs under EU membership) will be fully functional by 2019. We cannot risk an exit from the EU before we have put in place and tested systems to allow trade to continue to flow.

The Service Sector
Although a strong exporter, the UK service sector is frequently unable to export a service in the way in which a manufacturer exports products because the Single Market in services is not complete in the way it is for goods. A service company will often have either to invest in an establishment in each member state where it seeks to operate or enter into an arrangement with a company that is already established. This makes the service sector highly dependent on the ability of individuals to work in the different individual member states.

That means that any agreement that limits free movement of workers will not in practice permit free movement of services. The service sector generally is highly vulnerable to any restriction on free movement of people. This is especially true of the internet based sector.

As long as the UK remains in the EU or the relevant part of the EEA Agreement applies: the UK will continue to export these services without too much difficulty. Withdrawal from both would pose very serious problems. The service sector is very much at risk – and the sector that is the most dynamic is most at risk – unless there is a long Transition Agreement.

Impact on the City
There is worrying evidence that the Brexit vote has hit employment in the City. It is estimated that despite modest improvement after the election, the year to June 2017 saw a 23% year-on-year decrease in jobs available and a 49% year-on-year decrease in professionals seeking jobs. Unlike an assembly plant, human beings can decide to up sticks and move, in most cases having notice periods of one or three months.

An Open University survey of 400 British based firms has identified a loss of high earning (and high tax paying) EU professionals creating a skills gap costing British businesses £2bn a year. There is also wide disillusion among Millennials (those who reached young adulthood early in this century) who are now entering experienced or mid-level positions, making them a central focus of hiring across the financial services sector. They are integral to the future of the British workforce. We’ve already alienated countless EU nationals, we cannot afford to alienate a generation of creative and ambitious Britons too. Action must be taken to prevent a further brain drain of talent out of London. The Chancellor of the Exchequer is reported to have warned the Prime Minister that companies will start to implement contingency plans for a hard Brexit if they are not given reassurance in the next few months. He would be unfit for his great office were he not to have told the Prime Minister this uncomfortable fact.

Transitional arrangements giving individuals and companies confidence that nothing much will change as a result of the UK leaving the EU should do something to limit the decline in investment in both physical and human capital that is currently taking place, and reduce the outflow of skilled EU citizens.

EURATOM
International transfer of nuclear material, technology and know-how must be strictly controlled. This is achieved by the Nuclear Cooperation Agreement (“NCA”) between states that have domestic legislation prohibiting nuclear trade with entities in other states with which there is no NCA. One of EURATOM’s functions is to act as an “umbrella” organisation for its member states so the NCA between the USA and EURATOM allows nuclear trade between the USA and all EURATOM’s members.

The Government have given notice of its intention to leave both the EU and EURATOM. This will require the UK to negotiate a number of new NCAs, which is complex and time consuming. It will mean a new regulatory structure, approved, after inspection, by the International Atomic Energy Authority. Only after that can the UK negotiate an NCA with another state. Apart from the prodigious cost and diversion of resources that this will involve, there is a real timing problem.

Nuclear generation in the UK relies on the USA for imported fuel, nuclear technology and knowhow. If the UK leaves EURATOM an NCA with the USA will have to be put in place. A proper and transparent planning process for leaving EURATOM should have detailed the possible risks and in particular an assessment of the possibility of denial of fuel (fissile material) or components for the UK’s reactors, currently producing around one sixth of the UK’s electricity. Such an assessment should have included an analysis of potential loss of output and plans to deal with it. The Nuclear Paper seems to take for granted that the UK will obtain NCAs before the UK leaves EURATOM, presumably on the day it leaves the EU.

The worst case scenario of a loss of capacity causing a widespread failure of the grid may be highly improbable. But there is no detailed objective assessment of the risks. One needs to be made quickly and subjected to proper scrutiny because, if there are significant risks to generating capacity from leaving EURATOM, then these may be mitigated by transitional arrangements.

Nuclear Medicine
Imported radioisotopes, which have short half-lives and so cannot be stored, are used extensively for diagnostic scans and cancer treatment. Widespread concern has been expressed, e.g. by the Royal College of Radiologists, over continued access if the UK leaves EURATOM. The Government have stated that as these products are not fissile nuclear material they are not subject to international nuclear safeguards. However it is unclear what will happen if other EU member states interpret their obligations differently and decline to supply. If the UK rejects the ECJ for resolving such a dispute, what alternative is there? The risk is that people are going to die. The Commons’ Health Committee should demand the evidence on which the Government’s statement was based and also ask the Royal College of Radiologists and the Euratom Supply Agency to give their evidence.

Nuclear Research and Development
Leaving EURATOM will terminate the UK’s participation in 3 international research projects involving many countries from outside Europe and including two important nuclear fusion projects. There is a clear risk of the UK, with a very substantial physics and engineering base, being excluded from what may prove exceptionally important research projects creating important opportunities for industry and employment.

EU Agreements with Third Parties (“ASSOCIATION AGREEMENTS”)
There are more than 20 agreements between the EU (or EU and the member states) and third party states. Except in cases where the UK is a contracting party to the agreement in its own right, on leaving the EU the UK’s participation and the benefits from them will cease unless the UK has negotiated a new agreement to replicate the benefits.

The WTO
The UK is a member of the World Trade Organisation both in its own right and as an EU member state but all WTO arrangements have been collectively negotiated by the EU. Thus the EU has single quotas (which permit it to export a defined quantity of the goods in question that incur lower tariffs than those that would otherwise apply); when the UK leaves the EU new quotas for the UK will have to established and that will raise the issue of a reduction in the EU quota – a process referred to as “carving out”. Because the WTO proceeds by consensus, this could cause problems. For example Poland would be able unilaterally to veto a UK agreement under WTO rules unless its demands for extra permits for Polish citizens were met. Sorting out WTO arrangements could be a protracted process. Transitional arrangements may well be essential while this is done.

Open Skies Agreement
Under the Open Skies Agreement any airline of an EU member state can fly between anywhere in the EU and anywhere in the USA. A new agreement involving the UK will have to be negotiated but this may well be less favourable. The Sun newspaper has leaked a report warning of a drop of 41% in passenger numbers between March 2018 and March 2019 if no agreement is put in place.

Banking
The Prudential Regulation Authority, part of the Bank of England, has warned that UK banks’ ability to lend might be constricted since contractual arrangements underpinning long term financial arrangements will cease to be effective after Brexit. That will substantially weaken UK banks’ balance sheets, giving the choice between reversing the progress on strengthening the banking system since 2007, creating major risks for the economy and taxpayers, re-capitalising the banks or banks reducing or even stopping lending.

Conclusion

At this moment there is an opportunity for the UK and EU27 to enter into a Transition Agreement. Whether that is based on the EEA Agreement or an extension of the two-year period under Article 50 is less important than both sides signing up to a binding Agreement that avoids dislocation in March 2019.

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The above only covers a minor portion of the subjects covered in the original paper (the whole paper can be downloaded from the publications section of the Conservative Group for Europe website). It was, of course, written before the Prime Minister’s speech in Florence in which she accepted the principle of a Transition Period. So at least some progress has been made, albeit without the detailed information that the subject deserves.

Robin Baker

Brexit Negotiations & Public Opinion - Erika Angelidi

juillet 27th, 2017

Erika Angelidi, the Conservatives Abroad Representative in Greece, sends her warm summer wishes and, for every reader of this blog, to “have a good vacation!”, while also sharing the following thoughts on the Brexit negotiations:

“First thing after the upcoming August vacations, we’ll all put our minds together to the great issue of the [Brexit] negotiations between Great Britain and the EU. I personally hold the opinion that public opinion will play a large role (as expressed through polls) in their development.

It is not to be doubted that there will be rough patches as the discussion moves further; yet at such times optimism is most crucial! There will be crossroads but with unity and proper strategizing, difficulties will be overcome.

And thus we wait to see the course of events and the result of all discussions…”

Erika Angelidi
Conservatives Abroad Representative Greece
Athens

Life in Greece today

mai 17th, 2017

Erika Angelidi, the Conservatives Abroad Representative in Greece, presents her own views on life for the Greek people today, as a new page opens below on the continuing Greek debt saga:

On the 22nd of May, 2017 a new page in the ongoing development of the Greek debt issue will be written. The Institutions are to present a Compliance Report to the Eurogroup. The new “Agreement” reads terms such as further cuts in salaries and pensions, more taxes, legalisation of collective dismissals, the abolition of Sunday as the day of rest and last, but not least, the privatisation of principal public sector companies.

Please, allow me to present my own views of life in Greece under 3 Memoranda.

As the Institutions and Governments pushed forward with more lay-offs, taxes, severed pensions and salaries, life changed dramatically as one may expect in times of crisis. Purchasing power that would fuel the national market and innovation plunged and with it living quality for large masses.

Furthermore, the neediest members of the Greek society have been marginalised and the healthcare system, which is public, experiencing serious problems with shortage in staff, and material.

In addition, sacrifices were made by the Greek people in promise of better days and for the common good. Yet, as the austerity deepens who is to tell why these days have never come over for many years now. What has gone amiss?

The market will move, I believe, with a reduction of taxes on taxes, investments in sectors that are unique opportunities in this country. This will see the market move upwards.

I wish to plead from the bottom of my heart that viable solutions will be given for the national debt. Even more, that policies will be proposed that will see beyond numbers to the human souls, who live with the conditions as have come to be. Great solutions stem from brave attempts to betterment as global history teaches us!

May solutions be found that this Country vastly rich in culture, history, and human warmth see better and brighter days!”

Erika Angelidi
Conservatives Abroad Representative Greece,
Athens

Brexit and My “Pelican Boat” Woodcut Print - Raf. Pittman

avril 25th, 2017

As presented by BCiP member and artist Raf. Pittman at our AGM on the 19th April, here is the unabridged story of “Pelican Boat”, his personal account of the creation of the original woodcut print from Lima via Havana to the press in Paddington:

This time last year (April 2016) was a very different political scenario when campaigning had not yet started and when Brexit was largely associated with UKIP, a political deviation in terms of party and following from the “Voters’ Parties and Leaders (1967 )” by Jean Blondel , a text for politics students like myself.

By June 23rd and the referendum we were “out” - the cryptic text I received from a friend in London as I sat on a bench with my iPhone on La Rampa, the main highway in Havana where you can receive wifi with an official prepaid internet coupon.

Shock. My whole career since reading European Studies at Bristol University was about the new world order, a united Europe where I learned the skills of foreign trade, was trained in London, Hamburg and Paris for British multinationals , in a world of peace and harmony for which my father had served in the Armed Forces 1939 to 1945; an England that had welcomed my mother as a Basque teenage evacuee from Nazi Germany aggression.

I was truly saddened that those British voters who voted for the leave campaign had not sufficient understanding of the issues (there was no meaningful and coherent plan policy and analysis), that were to change the course of our history by taking us out of the European Union, and annoyed with David Cameron for wanting to consolidate his position (also maybe giving into the perceived UKIP threat) by offering the electorate a referendum. Worse was to follow with squabbling Tories vying for the leadership when the PM resigned, although sense appeared with the election of Theresa May to replace him, seen as a safe pair of hands at the helm.

This last week in June was my last week in Cuba where I had been working on a print that I had developed in January 2016 from my crayon drawing of pelicans on a boat anchored off the coast of Ica a desert region in south Peru. The flimsy piece of plywood I brought with me to Cuba (wood is in short supply) took shape from a monoprint I made earlier in Cienfuegos , central Cuba, at a society for artists. Then via bus train and ferry I reached the experimental artists workshop in Havana where I had booked myself in for a second fortnight the first being in 2014.

This was the first time I had seriously attempted a woodcut print and news of Brexit added to my ennui, with the project ending up in a mixed media print/ monoprint, the sort of art for which I am known at the Taller Grafica Experimental . The wood cut print per se was clearly still unfinished although we had taken some 20 prints from the ancient press to be used for future mixed media work. Within a few days I had packed half my plywood and donated the other half to my very able colleagues and was back at Heathrow but still with a wedge of dodgy prints.

Again within days I was at an art facility near Paddington and bingo!! Pelican Boat was born as a fully fledged woodcut print. It seemed both myself and Brexit had come out triumphant after a battering maritime journey full of metaphors: uncharted waters, ill-prepared , beleaguered. And yet like Sir Francis Drake’s original vanguard “The Pelican” , renamed “The Golden Hind”, there was suddenly promise in this bold confident venture with global vision reminiscent of Drake’s voyage to the New World, and also in my print that had a purpose and meaning now in carrying the spirit of Britain and Brexit.

Raf. Pittman

Lies & Deceits, Postures & Imposture or The Decline of the Western Political Class.

mars 24th, 2017

If throughout human history the manipulation of information and desinformation has always been used as a political weapon, the deceitful manipulation of public opinion as an acknowledged legitimate system is recent. It is the inheritance of the policies of the Bush government in the United States and of Blair’s in the United Kingdom. In 2003 both were said to act on a divinely inspired mission to get rid of a dictator and to forcibly impose democracy on a sovereign state in the Middle East in order to justify its violation and armed invasion, with the ensuing catastrophic results for the country and the region. Bush and Blair have opened a Pandora box that has not ceased since to let loose its monstruous emanations on the Western political scene.

Its poisonous breath has corrupted the Western political leaders. In sympathetic mimetism, they have taken on the postures and techniques of the two Anglosaxons leaders in the use of brazen lies, the manipulation of public opinion through fear and appeal to the lower instincts, the abdication of the public good in favour of their own personal interests, the total absence of moral and ethical principles in the implicit, or explicit, claim of a divinely appointed right to ignore them, to the benefit of their own plans and convictions.

The communication techniques of the British spin doctors, such as Alastair Campbell, who confessed cynically having sexed-up the Iraki dossier to force Parliament into war, has created a precedent. The same meticulous manipulation of public opinion for months spreading lies and false promises, honing up a sustained rethoric in acting on ancestral fears and the lowest of passions, whipping up xenophobic hatred, has allowed Nigel Farage and his UKIP party to push through the Brexit in the June 2016 referendum. Farage like David Cameron, the initiator of this referendum, has since resigned from his party and left politics, assuming none of the catastrophic results of his 17 years personal campaigning against the European Union as a European member of Parlement. The ensuing chaos left behind is beyond belief, it puts into jeopardy the very fate of democracy and of the European Union. Can a referendum be lawful when its premices are deliberately distorted through the use of propaganda and millions spent on lies, concealment of reality, media hype, manipulation of public opinion? Is such a vote valid when the voters are deliberately blinded and unable to assess the actual consequences of their vote ? The United Kingdom has wakened up too late to the fraud and crude imposture that has blinded the country and divided it as it was over the Irak war. It now seems that Tony Blair, this conjurer of deceit and political maneuvring, who earns astronomical sums in preaching his inflammatory gospel, has the impudence of contesting a Brexit won through his own spin methods. No doubt he sees there a way to regain power : he enjoys the distinct honour of being the most hated Prime Minister in Britain.

Donald Trump has done the same in the United States, using lies, insults, mediatic one-upmanship, inflammatory speeches and financial power allied to a blatant and deliberate vulgarity of manners, with the same calamitous results : a divided country cut from the rest of the world through isolationism, social, racist and xenophobic hatred expressed in verbal and physical violence spreading like a plague all over the nation. In the Neetherlands, Geert Wilders, the ally of the French extremist Marine Le Pen, advocates the ‘shock of civilisations’ of George Bush, whipping up religious hatred against Islam, and nationalist hatred against Europe. Marine Le Pen is becoming more and more legitimate on the more and more chaotic and unstable French political scene. Her party, the Front National, is based on the worse of France : xenophobia, chauvinism, opportunism under the guise of hypocrisy, physical and verbal violence. Its nationalism is anchored in the ignorance and denial of the rich and varied roots of this ‘France profonde’ it claims to be the sole representative. The Front National is the voice of a shrunk, narrow-minded France, turned back onto itself in a suicidal rejection of the others, of their human value, of the intrinsic richness of their diversity. Le Pen puts herself above Republican laws and institutions, judging ‘ ‘immoral and illegal’ all attempts from the Law to stop her excesses ; she claims that she is been victimized by the system. In fact, among others, she is guilty of corruption and embezzlement of public funds in a case of fictitious employment at the European Parliament of one of her assistants, but refuses to appear in front of the juges.

Nicolas Sarkozy, Tony Blair’s clone, had acted in the same manner throughout his career. He whipped up racial hatred in his infamous Grenoble speech against the Gypsies in 2010, opened pointless and pernicious debates on national identity, openly insulted French citizens calling them ‘ scum’ who should be ‘got rid of with a Kärcher’. When need be he invokes the Republican principles of past illustrious French personalities, while scorning them when it suits him. His attitude towards the Law is just as perverse and ambiguous : all attempts to call him to account provoke indignant protestations and accusations of victimization and persecution against him. Whereas he uses the legal system with ruthless efficiency against his opponents, even in his own party, to discredit them and eliminate all opposition that could threaten his position and his power. He does not act as a responsible and rational politician, with the good of his country at heart, but as the boss of a mafia type gang using methods associated with delinquants. To make a public declaration of his wish to see Dominique de Villepin – a colleague and fellow member of the same party- ‘hanging from a butcher’s hook’ is unworthy of the presidential function, and an unacceptable example of verbal violence.
With the implausible Clearstream affair, in which Sarkozy had targeted and persecuted Villepin, he has effectively eliminated him from the French political scene. To any clear-headed and enlightened observer the whole affair was a vast deception destined not only to discredit a statesman superior to him in every way, but mostly to create a smoke screen and divert public attention from his own illegal activities. In particular the unlawful Libyan financing of his presidential campaign in 2007, for which Gaddafi and other protagonists paid with their lives. And as is stated by a parlementary attaché at the Senate, in the field of communication : ‘ Everbody knows that Sarkozy has abank account abroad, but it is not in Luxembourg…’

His malevolence towards an opponent who threatens him through his achievements, his moral, intellectual and political international stature, knows no limits. According to some commentators, in 2006 he had already encouraged and supported the demonstration against the Contrat Première Embauche (CPE) First Job Contract, proposed by Dominique de Villepin to reduce unemployment. In 2012 Sarkozy systematically undermined and sabotaged de Villepin’s presidential campaign, to which I participated, see my website: http://www.monique-riccardi-cubitt.com/ 9. Political engagement. Day by day he stole away the supporters of République Solidaire, he isolated his opponent whose movement became, in the contemptuous words of Xavier Bertrand, Sarkozy’s spokesman in the 2007 campaign, ‘République solitaire, Solitary Republique’, and eventually forced him to give up his candidacy. Dominique de Villepin once more showed himself superior morally and intellectually in rising above Sarkozy’s violent attacks and his own personnal and political prejudices. He pursued his own peace mission at the service of France and of his ideals, see his last volume, Mémoire de Paix pour temps de Guerre. Ed. Grasset, 2016 : ‘Throughout the whole of my life I have endeavoured to put the peace process at the heart of my action… The moment has come to get down to the peace process, to open our eyes to the wounds of the world and to create the tools necessary to build a new order, more just and more stable…I am convinced that France has a role to play in this new world, if it renews with its vocation to initiate, to mediate, to promote a dialogue, if it is loyal to its message and to its history.’ He has magnanimously forgiven to Sarkozy, and following his pacifist and diplomatic ideals, he offered his mediation in Tunisia in 2011 to try to prevent the armed intervention in Libya. Which did not fit with Sarkozy’s designs and interests. In emulation of Blair in 2003, and prompted by the ill-advised action of publicity-seeking Bernard-Henri Lévy, he blatantly lied on the Libyan situation in order to secure Britain and the United States’ support, with the approval of the United Nations.

The report of a House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee’s enquiry published 14th Septembre 2016 questions the legitimity of the armed intervention in Libya. It claims that : ‘…Despite his rhetoric, the proposition that Muammar Gaddafi would have ordered the massacre of civilians in Benghazi was not supported by the available evidence… the immediate threat to civilians was being publicly overstated’ to serve French interests in North Africa. The main purpose was to have access to Libyan oil resources, and more particularly to serve Sarkozy’s own political interests in gaining in prestige. He also wanted the international community’s approval to get rid of a generous sponsor who had became an embarassing witness to eliminate. In 2008 France had sold 168 million euros worth of weapons to Libya, in 2011 it spent 300 millions euros to fight Gaddafi’s regime with terrible losses in human lives. The allied intervention destabilized the whole region and created a vacuum filled by the forces of the Islamic State, Daech, forcing the population to migrate towards Italy and eventually to the North of Europe. Dominique de Villepin had predicted in 2011 : ‘ To win a war is one thing, to win peace is much more difficult… It is going to take many efforts from France’s diplomacy …a wealth of savoir-faire to prevent this Libyan revolution to turn back against those who helped them yesterday’. Against the ensuing terrorist attacks on French soil, his position stated in September 2014 on French national TV France 2, in the programme Ce soir ou jamais, remains the same : ‘We cannot win the war against terrorism because terrorism is an invisible hand, all the time in mutation, changeable and opportunist. It requires a capacity of thinking an action well beyond military action. One must be able to use cunningly the powers of the mind and all peaceful means available to desintegrate the forces that congregate around those terrorist forces.’ He adds : ‘ All we know of this type of war since Afghanistan has led to failure… We need a political strategy, a political vision and a capacity to think our action beyond the use of bombs… We must become aware that this Islamic State, Daech, we have created it ourselves for the largest part from war to war…There is a vicious cercle in which we have locked ourselves up. It is not only ineffective, but it is dangerous because this region in the Middle East is shaken by crisis, by wounds. It is in a profund crisis of modernization.’ His words reflect the long-standing French diplomatic tradition. It is one of France’s past glories : French was the diplomatic language by excellence until the Second World War. It stood not only for a culture but for a civilisation. Thus Philippe-Joseph Salazar sees it in his essay Blabla République. Au verbe, citoyens ! Ed. Lemieux, 2017. Rethoric or the oratorical art and science to convince in Aristotle’s manner, is also the art of the beautiful speech of Quintillien, the Roman orator. This art of debating with form and substance has become in the modern world ‘a speech technology’, a political speech devoid of its essential meaning, where slogans and trivialities stand for action for the elite in power. The citizens themselves are baffled by this constant verbiage and unable to express their own legitimate needs and aspirations. Salazar adds : ‘ Since the Third Republic there is no longer a moral authority in France’.

In the prevailing cacophony some voices still sounds true, such as Villepin’s own. But they are quickly stiffled and deliberately discredited, as says Claude Angeli in an interview with Mediapart on the 12th February 2017, incidentally quoting the former French Prime Minister on war and terrorism. The ex-editor of the satirical weekly, Le Canard enchaîné, talks about his recent book Les plaisirs du journalisme, Ed. Fayard, where he denounces : ‘ a mediocre epoch’, ‘a sluggish society’, where ‘ plain truth is been discredited’. In reference to the financial scandals and the corruption of the political class that have beset France for some months, speaking about the former socialist Cahuzac, and of the Right-wing presidential candidate, François Fillon, he adds grimly : ‘ I think that I have more respect for genuine thieves…’ It is difficult to understand how the French Right-wing can still support a candidate whose legitimacy was based on ethics and moral integrity ( Tweet 18th September 2016. To govern a country, I am convinced that one must be above reproach. I want to bring forward the principle of examplarity for the President and the ministers.) After years of nepotism and embezzlement of public funds kept secret, Fillon has several times lied to the nation he pretends represent. He has played Tartuffe to great acclaim, discrediting the very religion he invokes, his heart on his lips, and his hand on his heart : ‘I am a Christian !’ . Like Sarkozy he plays the victim, speaks of media persecution, condemns the Law and the press, denouncing in the same breath his own party by asking them ‘ to make their own examination of conscience’.

The very structure of the French political system is brought into disrepute, according to Mediapart ‘The Assemblée Nationale (French Parliament) has remunerated 52 wives, 28 sons et 32 daughters of members of Parliament in 2014’. France may have abolished the Ancien Régime but not its privileges : some are more equal than others. But no one wants to change this system of nepotism and favouritism, too many profit by it : the unscrupulous, not to say the crooked, politicians and civil servants. As for those, like de Villepin, who do not enter in these fiddles and rackets, his integrity is being discredited in vain attempts to prove that he has in some ways benefited from the Libyan financing of Sarkozy’s campaign. Which in the circumstances described above is highly implausible. So a so-called ‘ficticious employment’ for a Saudi firm is invented whereby a report in January 2009 apparently used some notes from a previous lecture. This is just an example of intellectual property when an author, or a lecturer, uses already researched material in a new service or performance, and is remunerated as such at the given rate by the contracting party. It is the same for a Tintin album bought at the aution sale of his library by a friend. An item put at auction has no intrinsic value other than that of the offer, as I have witnessed in London at Christie’s and Sotheby’s. Whether it be Elton John’s diamanté glasses, Marilyn Monroe’s underwear, or the huge tartan underpant John Brown, the faithful servant, and some say perhaps lover, of Queen Victoria, wore under his kilt. And I can therefore now answer the intriguing question : What do the Scots wear under their kilts ? other than the lemon yellow and pale pink Marks & Spencer pants I have observed at the Scottish Highlands Games during the tossing of the caber ! The value given to an item depends on its provenance and is reflected in the covetousness of the buyers who, through the aution process, bring the price up. If one wants to discredit the integrity of someone honest, all means are used to cast doubt on his or her reputation. It would then confirm public opinion in its conviction : ‘They are all rotten !’ and encourage the ones who are truly so to carry on their rackets and cover-ups.

It would also justify the need for new blood, a so-called maverick, out of the system, who wrote a book on his political intentions entitled Révolution. Emmanuel Macron’s political programme is anything but revolutionary. In fact his movement with the slogan En Marche, using the initials of his name, is walking backwards. His economic plan is inspired by the neo-liberalism of the 80’s et 90’s of Thatcher and Reagan, then of the Clinton’s and Blair’s era. According to economists this system is damaging to society, and it is denounced even by the IMF. Macron is supported in his campaign by the merchant banks from which he draws his wealth and expertise, and by the large multinational companies. Like Trump in the States he wants to give back to the banks all the privileges they enjoyed before the 2008 subprimes crisis, notwithstanding the devastating consequences on the middle class worldwide, and the resulting human tragedies. His stand over l’Europe is far from being innovatory, he only takes on the instructions of the Council of Europe. He brings no answer to the radical rethinking and restructuring of a 60 years old institution required by the present crisis caused by the rising of so-called populist movements that have triggered off the Brexit. Lasting solutions have to be found to the humanitarian crisis bred by terrorism in the Middle East with a resulting incrontrollable emigration. Economic and environmental crisis due to the diminishing of natural resources over-exploited by the very multinational businesses who finance him must be talen into account, as well as the global warming of the climate and the rise in economic and political power of new nations such as China and India.

Fillon serves the High Mass if hypocrisy and invites Molière to the political scene, playing Tartuffe and M. Jourdain. His Pater familias image as a paragon of virtue and morality, a gentleman farmer with Landed Gentry ideals in his provincial manor house where his wife’s horses frolic around, is forever shattered. He has become Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme, The middle-class aristocrat whose bright plumage conceals a venal and grasping soul, with the mean and petty spirit of a small provincial bigwig who, as in one of Balzac’ novel, has made it good in the capital through crooked means. In refusing to acknowledge his donwnfall, he has taken hostage the country and his own party, to further his own interests and ambitions. In any other country he would have had to resign and leave his place as presidential candidate to the second candidate, Alain Juppé. It is the logical outcome in such a case, as Dominique de Villepin pointed out. But the crazed obstination of Fillon has played in favour of Sarkozy, who cunningly went on supporting him, thus preventing the second candidate to take on the party candidacy. With malicious forethought he has put his own henchmen into place to pave the way for his eternal return.

As for Macron he officiates as the high priest of a narcissic cult at the service of Mammon, with for vestal virgin a mother goddess who plays Pygmalion : ‘We need young French people who want to become milliardaires’ . He is the guru at the head of a sect, manipulating the adepts and sending them into trance with the brainwashing methods and collective hysteria used by American companies to motivate their employees at the end of the 20th century. His lieutenants, brainwashed young people, are conditioned to react to the meeting planner’s SMS orders, and clap or shout theur approval at the given moment. Their reward is an all-night party paid by the party in a local nightclub. They are bribed to belong to what is made to appear as an exclusive club, a group of chosen few adepts with its own language, an incomprehensible franglais jargon taken from the business world. ‘I know the grammar of business’ says Macron, it is obvious in his political stance, a market research to build his programme, as much as in his way of conducting meetings. On December 10th 2016 in Paris at the Porte de Versailles, he got carried away by his messianic zeal and yelled at the end of his speech: ‘ What I want is that wherever you go you are going to carry it, because it is our project. Vive la République, vive la France’. His astonishing stance recalls Leonardo di Caprio’s performance in the film The wolf of Wall Street, brainwashing his traders at the New York Stock Exchange in the 80’s : ‘I want you to deal with problems by becoming rich, we are going to be f…telephone terrorists…’ The verbal violence, the collective hysteria are those of the American evangelist meetings where considerable financial and media hype are used to attract, brainwash and psychologically manipulate the adepts. The Macron sysrem has the same hypnotic effect on the pyblic and the media It is an imposture on a large scale supported by a powerful financial apparatus and dubious éminences grises, such as Alain Minc, who was a long-standing adviser to Sarkozy.

Macron is in no way the little creative genius he believes himself to be, and the media hype presents. The little Mozart of the Élysée, after 3 years musical studies at the Conservatoire, ( Mozart himself has not done as much !) has still to give us his version of The M agic Flute. His Papageno is more like the Pied Piper, the definition of which states: 1. A person who offers others strong yet delusive enticements, 2. One, such as a leader, who makes irresponsible promises. In both cases the ineluctable end leads to death and destruction, the hidden symbol of the flutist.

This Mr. Macron clad in a variegated political plumage is a bird of sinister omen. In fact there is around his couple a strange and disquieting aura of fakery and artificiality. It would be easy to describe this malaise in Freudian terms : the Oedipus complex is far too obvious. Macron has effectively eliminated and killed the father figure in getting married to his teacher, of the age of his parents, and taking on the banking profession of her former husband, whose family he stole in settling in his nest like a cuckoo. He shows no loyalty toward the men who have helped him on his way to power, such as François Hollande : symbolically he kills him in standing as a presidential candidate (Sarkozy did the same with Pasqua and President Chirac). It is a very bad example of ruthless betrayal, of a total lack of principles and ethics given to the youth he pretends to lead. However Jung suggests a subtler profile : the Peter Pan syndrome. It stands for the emotionally immature man, the eternal narcissic teenager, suffering from contradictory emotions with an impredictable beahaviour and incontrollable urges, Sarkozy is one example as is Donald Trump. In fact there is a strange correlation between the political couple formed by Donald Trump and his daughter Ivanka ‘The woman Donald Trump cherishes most’ according to Newsmax, who is also his adviser, and the Macron couple. The Trump couple in their father/daughter relationship seems to be the verso of the Macrons (wife-mother/son). Even to the disturbing physical similarity between Trump et Brigitte Macron’s artificial image going back to the 80’s : same shock of blonde hair crowning a permanent orange tan.

‘In the realm of the blind, the one-eyed are kings’ , according to the defination of the Robert Dictionary of French phrases and expressions ed. 2017 :
‘Even a person of mediocre quality appears to be outstanding in the midst of people without discernment’, an apt description for Macron. He would lead France to disaster, tranforming it in a vast tourists’ Disneyland where large publicity panels would disfigure the countryside and promote consumerism as in Las Vegas (This Macron project was vetoed against by the Hollande government). On can also expect the French countryside to be devastated by the extraction of oil shale. And this French culture he says does not exist: ‘ There is no such thing as French culture’ he declared in London the 4th February 2017, would be diluted, distorted into an ersatz of American culture dominated by money. Far from being a trend-setter, the man himself is an ersatz : he says all and its contrary, adopting a particular posture according to the circumstances in Sarkozy’s manner. In Algeria, he described colonisation as ‘crimes against humanity’ and in emulation of the Général de Gaulle during the Algerian war, he ended his speech by the historical words ‘Je vous ai compris ! I have understood you !’. Carrying on this patriotic note, he quoted in his Lyon speech the words of the French poet René Char, engaged in the Résistance, from his work Les feuillets d’Hypnos : ‘On that day I fiercely loved my companions, well beyond self-sacrifice’. For a technocrat without empathy towards others, a man without any sense of collective history and memory, it is no longer theatrical trickery, it is a a shameful melodramatic fraud, indecent in its cheap sham.

Once more in London, on February 21th, and no doubt aiming to flatter his hosts, he reiterated the absence of ‘French culture’, adding that he had never seen ‘French art’. Which is most surprising considering that he has worked for the Rothschild bank. He seemed to have remained totally ignorant of the fact that the British branch of the Rothschild possess in Buckinghamshire one of the msot important collection in the British Isles of the French decorative arts of the 18th century and of paintings from the 17the and 18th century, with the Wallace Collection in Londres. Waddesdon Manor was built beween 1874 and 1889 in the style of the Loire châteaux by a French architect, art historian and collector, Hippolyte Destailleur. The British are enlightened art lovers and collectors and have always been keen on French art, which they have collected avidly. Furthermore French art has had an important influence on the development of British art since the arrival of Huguenot artists and craftsmen in the 17th century after the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes. The two famous British auction houses, Christie’s et Sotheby’s have gained their renown and wealth through the French royal and aristocratic sales following the Revolution. M. Macron is an ignorant and uncivilized philistine, despite the supposedly ‘incredible culture’ of his wife. Smug and vain, he is showing off and strut his stuff, echoing Chérie Blair’s ill-meaning ignorant words during the campaign for the 2012 Olympic Games : ‘And what has Paris got to do with culture ?’. André Malraux created the very concept of a French national culture in 1959, with the Ministry of Cultural Affairs which he headed until 1969. He thus included culture in the social and economic modernisation projects of the De Gaulle government. France’s initiative set an example and has had a worldwide following ever since.

The level of mediocrity of the French presidential candidates makes one shudder for the country’s future. And if one can assess the moral stature of a man by his attitude towards women in general and his wife in particuluar, neither Fillon nor Macron show signs of practising the chivalry and courtesy usually described as French traits. Already Sarkozy treated his wife like a trophy, exhibiting her charms to public applause like a vulgar animal on the market-place. To defend himself and keep his candidacy Fillon has pushed his wife to lies and perjury after her past public statements of having never worked for him. As for Macron, when challenged about an interview in the magazine Paris Match, he accused his wife of ‘blunder and foolishness’. The couple has since given three more interviews to the magazine, of which Mrs. Macron has declared to be ‘very satisfied of the photographs !’ . Her husband does not seem to be overly concerned by her feelings. In his Lyon speech, with a smug, self-satisfied look on his face, he thought it fit to tell a bizarre story about the marital infidelity of the Princess de Ligne, a particularly indelicate act in the presence of his wife 24 years older, who looked very uneasy. Macron is not only a ham actor, he is a cad. His lack of consideration for others, and personal and professional ethics are reflected in his performance as a minister. He neglected his ministerial duties while Minister of Finances to spend his time and the ministry budget creating his own party. In short he is no different in his lack of principles and integrity than Sarkozy or Fillon. He lied to the country in concealing the complete privatisation of Toulouse airport in the 2015 sale to a Chinese investor, when the French authorities : the State, the region, the town were supposed to retain their shares. In any other democracy other than France, he should have had to resign. He is also responsible for the sale of the railway factory Alstom in Belfort. This factory, dating back to the 19th century and creator of the TGV, will stop its activities in 2018 following the sale organized byMacron to the American group General Electric, blocked by the precedent Finance Minister, Arnaud Montebourg, 450 workers and as many subcontrators will lose their jobs. Macron is selling off France’s family jewels to the highest bidders who become thus indebted to him for the future. He does not act for the benefit of the country, but for his own interests.

His wife says of him : ‘He thinks he is Joan of Arc… he comes from another planet’. He seems to be on a divine mission : in Lyon, his hand on his heart in the American manner like Fillon to emphazise the sincerity of his feelings, eyes shut, he sings La Marseillaise. It is an embarassingly ham perfomance worthy of Hollywood. He and his wife are living in the slushy dreamland of a TV soap series they have both created, which is daily recounted by the media : the world of the Wizard of Oz. One expects to see them in technicolor, leaving hand in hand for a new rosy dawn, hopping along like Judy Garland on the tune of Somewhere over the rainbow, in company of the brainless Scarecrow. This was the very role played at school by the 16 years old Macron in the play directed by his French teacher who is now his wife. Video to be viewed on YouTube : Macron fait l’épouvantail.

MONIQUE RICCARDI-CUBITT
BCiP Member
Paris, 15th March 2017

NB. Monique Riccardi-Cubitt is working on an essay on the decline of French prestige and culture.

NATO: A Trusty Shield and Friend under Threat by Peter Huggins

février 23rd, 2017

Since Russia in the later years of the post Cold War period has become increasingly bellicose and especially since the Russian incursions in the Ukraine, NATO has been facing severe challenges. The situation has been aggravated by several powerful factors, including the resurgent EU bid for a military function and status. Britain’s loss of say in EU defence issues with Brexit, the erosion of democracy in Turkey, and the advent of President Trump with his iconoclastic attitude to European and North Atlantic defence .All these factors are threatening an institution that has served Europe well, protecting the existence of independent European countries since the signing of the North Atlantic Treaty in 1949 and the creation of SHAPE in 1951. Among its achievements, NATO has to its credit the attrition of the military power of the Soviet Union, a main factor in the demise of that bloc, and, when the Soviet Union disintegrated, facilitating the re-integration of East Germany , and the Central European and Baltic countries in the democratic community.

From the outset,Britain has played an important role in NATO. It was the British Prime Minister, Clement Atlee, and Foreign Secretary, Ernest Bevin, who took the key initiative with the US in launching the North Atlantic Treaty signed in April 1949. Since then, British support of NATO has been steadfast. For those of us living on the Continent outside of the re-assuring insular security of the British Isles, the importance of NATO, and its present problems and tasks, emerges in particularly sharp focus.. The Munich Security Conference of February 2017 provided an incentive to re-consider Britain’s position within NATO and present threats to the security of the democratic world.

The situation in 2017 is unfavourable. For the first time in its history, the role and future of NATO has been called into question by the President of the USA. He has exchanged reassuring words with the British PM but confidence in the long-term commitment of the US to NATO has been undermined and President Trump is a long way from determining clearly what will now be the strategy of the US as leader of NATO. His policy on NATO is unpredictable and what he says about NATO often seems arbitrary and even incoherent. At the same time, mainly with a view to expand EU Commission and Parliament activities into new areas, arguably for the sake of EU expansion anywhere regardless of purpose or utility, EU leaders are attempting to build military structures to replace or compete with NATO structures. This process is being accelerated and encouraged by Brexit because the UK had been until now the anchor of EU countries within NATO. At the same time, the EU Commission , although keen to become a player in the military sphere, is not encouraging its members to spend more on defence. On the contrary, perhaps, because Mr. Juncker forcefully rejected the US plea at the Munich Security Conference that EU countries should meet their NATO 2% of GDP defence spending commitment. He argued that EU countries were doing much in development aid and the like which absolved them from their expenditure NATO commitments. This is damaging for all EU and NATO countries but particularly dangerous in a German election year. It suggests collusion and support of the Commission with the SPD in its election campaign. The SPD Foreign Minister in the German government and Juncker’s mutual support friend in the EU, the SPD Chancellor candidate Schulz, has echoed and amplified Juncker’s dangerous message while Chancellor Merkel and her Defence Minister, Ursula van der Leyen, have responded positively to the US plea for greater respect of the 2% commitment.

Russia, in the meantime, is expanding its military budget rapidly, regardless of the crushing poverty of much of its population. In Georgia, the Caucasas, Syria and elsewhere, it is achieving its military and political objectives. In the Ukraine, Russian forces posing as indigenous Russian speaking patriots are consolidating and expanding their positions. Although exact numbers are difficult to obtain, there is ample evidence of the presence in the Eastern Ukraine and the Crimea of huge numbers of Russian tanks, armoured vehicles, artillery, rocket launchers and aircraft The expansion of the Russian fleet in the Black Sea and Mediterranean area is also clearly apparent. EU and NATO support for the Ukraine has been lukewarm and ineffective. Further expansion by Russia might meet only token resistence. In the meantime, Russian minorities in the Baltic countries are being ‘stirred up’ to an extent that Putin could justify intervention to ‘protect’ them. NATO forces in the area are being expanded, particularly by Germany and Poland. While welcome, the numbers involved are unlikely to impress Russian strategists Overall, Russia is making huge investments in its nuclear arsenal, high-tech air defences, already massive armoured strength, submarines and other warships. It is testing the NATO shield with frequent ‘buzzing’ and incursions, continuously probing to test what it can do with impunity. On the IT front, there is strong evidence of Russian meddling in the French presidential election and the German Bundestag election. More generally, Russia is rapidly building its capacity for cyber warfare. This involves the whole gamut of cyber weapons. Cyberthefts of confidential government files attributed to Russia have been reported in many countries including the Ukraine, Germany and the USA. Use of cyberweapons and malware against government and power supply systems has been reported from the Ukraine. A former Russian intelligence officer has described mechanisms used for Russian disinformation and disguised propaganda in the US.

The weakening of NATO in Europe is also being aggravated by the strong development of extreme nationalist political movements in Europe. Unthinkable some years ago, the Front National is now a strong and well-established force in France. Similar movements are thriving in Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark and elsewhere, some of them distinctly friendly towards Russia and indifferent to the fate of the Ukraine and the Baltic States. Britain’s own UKIP has one foot in this club. Paradoxically, these ‘right wing’ movements are often sympathetic to Russia. As at the time of the Ribbentrop/Molotov Pact, a common loathing of ‘decadent bourgeois capitalism’ is a unifying factor between forces of the extreme left and right.

Britain can claim to make one of the strongest contributions to NATO of any EU country It is one of only four countries of 28 meeting their NATO budgetary commitments. (Another is Greece, an economy held on life-support by its creditors, which spends huge amounts defending itself against Turkey, a NATO partner.) In fact, the British record on defence is unimpressive, qualitatively if not quantitatively. Successive strategic defence reviews have accurately diagnosed the growing proliferation of security threats to Britain and her allies. Governments have responded perversely by imposing an arbitrary limit to defence spending. It was approached from the wrong end in that they opted for, not what was needed to do the job, but what seemed the plausible minimum. Threats to British security and interests have increased dramatically but the defence budget has been severely constrained. The peace dividend has long since proven to be a chimera. New threats emerge constantly from rogue states, terrorism, territory grabbing and piracy, all often backed by sophisticated weapons. . Britain is unable to respond effectively to these threats. Russia’s aggression in the Ukraine, for example, constitutes almost a carbon copy of the Nazi takeover of the Sudetenland but it has drawn little more than raised eyebrows from Britain which has preferred to remain on the sidelines and witness France and Germany coming away from meetings with Russia about the Ukraine clutching re-assuring pieces of paper.. Meanwhile, ex-German Chancellor Schroeder actively promotes the increasing dominance of the European gas market by Gasprom, an economic and political arm of the Russian government, notably by promoting the gas pipeline from Russia to Germany via the Baltic, avoiding Poland at great cost.

In several recent dangerous situations , the British government could have sent a clear diplomatic and military message if it had possessed the army, air force and particularly, naval forces available for speedy movement to the danger zone. Compared to a continental country such as Germany or Poland, there is an obvious and natural naval vocation for Britain. Moreover, naval forces are needed because of their ability to deploy vessels flexibly in international waters without diplomatic clearances. If they were available, naval response groups could provide the ability to operate aircraft in locations chosen by the government ,virtually British islands mobile in the high seas with major control and command potential. As of now, Britain has neither the carriers nor the aircraft. The scarce resources available should at least to be used efficiently and effectively in naval task groups held in a permanent state of readiness for rapid response . In particular, aircraft carriers and their supporting frigates, destroyers and submarines, have been neglected to an extent completely incompatible with Britain’s pretensions to act as a naval power.

More generally, however, with naval, land and air forces, Britain and its European allies should build on the success of NATO which has held the line since soon after the Soviet takeovers of the then democratic countries, Czechoslovakia and Hungary in the late 1940s, the blockade of Berlin and the salvation in the 1950s of countries such as France and Italy which seemed ripe for Communist coups d’Etat.

Within the British military budget, there is much evidence that limited resources are being used badly. Drones ordered twelve years ago are not yet available for frontline service, tanks do not fit into the transport aircraft intended to carry them and the much-vaunted Type 45 destroyers are so noisy that they are easily detectable by Russian submarines at great distance. They also have defective diesel generators which will take many years to replace. The Type 26 frigates have had to be re-designed to provide landing for SAS helicopters. The one aircraft carrier appears to have no suitable aircraft to carry. Britain now has fewer front line troops than Poland. (Top marks to the Poles!) More generally, the MoD has a firmly established tradition of downgrading, tinkering with obsolete technology and inefficient extension systems.

NATO is now some 66 years old and has many achievements to its credit. In spite of EU Commission claims, most serious historians attribute the ‘Cold War Peace’ and the eventual crumbling of the Iron Curtain to NATO, not the EU. Indeed, a key EU member and important but volatile military power, France, withdrew from the military organisation of NATO from 1966 to 2009, and weakened NATO politically by ‘playing footsie with the Kremlin’.

While NATO was never able to compete with the Soviet Union/Russia in terms of men and tanks, the technical superiority of the US, including the nuclear shield, were overriding factors. NATO did a good job, ask the Poles, the Lithuanians, the Latvians, the Estonians. They will tell you that NATO is more important to them than the EU, in spite of the lavish subsidies..

While Putin and Trump are, in their very different ways, an existential threat to NATO, a real immediate danger in Europe comes from the EU Commission and Parliament. For political, super state aspirational reasons implausible players such as Mogherini and Juncker, aspire to an EU military command in Brussels/ Strasburg which would arrogate to itself powers siphoned off from the NATO military and political organisations. Among the principles of William of Ockham, there is one of profound banality but great importance, ‘entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem’, that is, you should not create entities of any kind unless they do a job that was not being done before. An EU military command would be less efficient and a worse use of resources than a body within NATO looking after European interests. Moreover, it would risk discouraging the military and political commitment of the US, and encouraging President Trump to downgrade the US NATO commitment which dwarfs anything available from EU countries. From the viewpoint of France , for example, that might perhaps appear politically desirable. Other EU countries should beware. We need NATO to guarantee our existence. We should beware of the EU using new defence arrangements as a building block for a European super state.

NATO has been doing a good job for some 66 years but that is of little importance for those who wish to use defence as a means to expand the operations of the EU to new areas gradually covering all the responsibilities of the nation state regardless of mandate or efficiency. Brussels sees the control of armed forces as essential to its aim of creating a United States of Europe. The European Parliament on 24 November 2015 even endorsed a report recommending that the Security Council seats of Britain and France should be abolished and replaced by one for the European Union.. The call for a European army is political, not based on efficiency or the basic necessity for European countries to ensure their own survival. Against the background of Trump’s unpredictable policies, Britain should use all its powers of persuasion and diplomacy to ensure the cohesion and strengthening of NATO. It should also play a much more convincing operational role by increasing its defence budget and, above all, ensuring that its military capabilities are modern and fully efficient. Britain has a solid military and diplomatic tradition. It should be providing a model to other European countries. Such policies and actions would provide desperately needed encouragement to Britain’s friends and allies in Europe, helping to restore Europe as a paragon of freedom and democracy in a world where these precious qualities are under threat.

Until 2011, the UK and both EU and non-EU countries had an excellent fall-back mechanism for European cooperation on defence and foreign policies in the shape of the West European Union. It was prematurely deemed to be superfluous, largely because of the continuing UK integration in to the EU at that time. The WEU survives in its inter-parliamentary European Security and Defence Association which regains importance as Brexit takes effect. It deserves urgent support from the UK.

During her speech to the Republican Party in Philadelphia last month, Prime Minister May said of Britain’s commitment to its NATO and EU allies ‘we cannot stand idly by when the threat is real and it is in our own interests to intervene’. Whatever individual positions on Brexit, which has sorely divided the Conservative Party, the PM’s position on NATO and defence is surely one that the whole of the Party should endorse wholeheartedly. The erosion of the free territories of Europe cannot be ignored nor sacrificed to the vainglory of EU empire building.

Peter Huggins
BCiP Member

In publishing this article Peter Huggins also wishes to acknowledge the considerable help received from his RN Association friends in Paris, notably Captain Colin Cameron, RN, former Head of the WEU Secretariat, and his Coder Special Baltic/GCHQ friends with whom he has kept close contact after some sixty years. Sir Roger Carrick, of that group, was particularly helpful on the political side of the draft. Robin Baker also helped but we agreed to differ on matters EU.

Why I am no longer a member of BCiP - Robin Baker

février 7th, 2017

No-one who knows me will be in any doubt as to how difficult and painful it was for me to decide to leave the Conservative Party, after having been a member since 1958. That decision can be explained very simply, I can no longer vote Conservative in general elections in the UK, so how can I remain a Party member? But I need to explain this change in my voting intentions.

I voted for David Cameron in the election for Party Leader at the end of 2005. I had heard his speech at the Party Conference a little earlier at which I had represented British Conservatives in Paris. It was brilliant. Cameron gave me the impression that, as Leader, he might well be able to end the period of Labour rule that Britain had been enduring since 1997.

Of course he did win the election and become Prime Minister, initially of a coalition government. As Prime Minister he had many important achievements that benefited the country. However he also had one failing which led to his downfall: that was his willingness to sacrifice the long term interest for short term political advantage.

This was shown firstly in his promise, if elected leader, to withdraw Conservative MEPs from the European People’s Party in the European Parliament. He did so in order to ensure that he would be one of the top two candidates in the vote by MPs, and thus be part of the choice to be made by the Party membership. That was, in fact, unnecessary; in the final vote by MPs Cameron came comfortably top with 90 votes, i.e. 45% of the total, thanks to most MPs who voted for Clarke in the first round switching to Cameron in the second. It is not possible to think that any MP who had initially voted for Clarke, then decided to vote for Cameron because of the promise to withdraw from the EPP.

Before Cameron implemented this promise he was given a clear warning; the parties in the EPP, e.g. the then UMP in France and the CDU in Germany, are the Conservative Party’s natural allies and form the largest political grouping of MEPs. Everyone needs friends. Cameron was warned that, when he needed powerful friends within the EU, he would not have them if he were outside the EPP. He neglected that warning. Of course it is impossible to know how his attempts at renegotiation would have progressed had the Conservatives still been in the EPP, but I think it probable that the outcome would have been sufficiently different to have affected the referendum result.

His second sacrifice of long term interest for short term political advantage was his inclusion in the 2015 election manifesto of a commitment to “a straight in-out referendum on our membership of the European Union by the end of 2017”. He did succeed in winning an overall parliamentary majority for the Conservative Party. Of course we cannot know the extent to which this commitment affected the election result but one thing is clear, had he not made it he would still be Prime Minister today.

It was a very bad decision. It is why we are now faced with the disaster of Brexit. Also we do not take policy decisions by referendum in the UK for very good reasons. In a referendum, despite the actual question on the ballot paper, no-one really knows what question the voters have decided to use the referendum to answer. More importantly, the UK is a parliamentary democracy. Governments are formed by the party that wins a majority in the House of Commons and that government is accountable for its performance firstly to the Commons and secondly to the country at the next election. If a government is required by a referendum to follow a policy that they oppose, and let us not forget that Theresa May voted Remain, then how can that government be accountable for what results? So the Government’s insistence that the Commons must respect the referendum result regardless of how they see the country’s vital interests, is overturning a political system which has served Britain well for centuries. Further, it is engendering a popular clamour for more decisions to be taken by referenda, which could be the end of British parliamentary democracy.

Now we have the Prime Mister’s speech of 17th January which justified her position using arguments that are intellectually dishonest. Here are two examples:

1. So we will take back control of our laws and bring an end to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in Britain. Memberships of the Single Market would mean complying with the EU’s rules and regulations. We will pursue a bold and ambitious Free Trade Agreement with the European Union. If we agree a bold and ambitious free trade agreement with the EU, although it is unlikely that they would have any interest in such a negotiation, the new free trade area will need rules and an enforcement authority to prevent the erection of non-tariff barriers to trade. Without that it could not work as non-tariff barriers can be very effective in protecting national commercial interests from other countries’ imports. So why do we have to leave the Single European Market and spend probably years negotiating a new trade agreement that will not enhance UK sovereignty in any way? In the more probable eventuality that we do not achieve such an agreement with the European Union, we will fall back on our membership of the World Trade Organisation. But the WTO has its own rules which members are obliged to follow, for which the British Parliament did not vote and which it cannot change. WTO also has dispute procedures which members are required to accept. So if our trade is undertaken under WTO procedures we will still be subject to the jurisdiction of the WTO. What is the difference?

2. So we will get control of the number of people coming to Britain from the EU. Brexit must mean control of the number of people who come to Britain from Europe. And that is what we will deliver. As Home Secretary Theresa May was the Secretary of State responsible for the control of immigration from non-EU countries. She was charged with significantly reducing it. This she totally failed to deliver. That failure had nothing to do with EU rules on free movement, she was just unable to achieve it. So her promise to control the number of immigrants from the EU, which even post Brexit will be more difficult than controlling non-EU immigration because of pressure from their potential employers, needs backing by her telling us what she is going to do to achieve that that she failed to do for non-EU immigration as Home Secretary.

I have a further worry. Nationalism as an evil creed; it has been the cause of countless wars. It has shown its ability to gain power by pseudo-democratic means, as it did in German in 1933. It is now growing in strength in the USA, where it will probably lead to an international trade war that will repeat the mistakes that helped lead to the Great Depression of 1929; it is strong enough in Britain to have led to the referendum result and the subsequent increase in hate crime; it is growing in France and in Holland. It must be fought under all circumstances. We now see a British Conservative government pursuing policies that have been engendered by nationalism.

So this explains why I can no longer vote for the Conservative Party and so why I have to leave BCiP. That is my personal decision; most of my friends take a different view. I am not seeking to change their minds, to an extent I envy them. However I do not see their choice as being open to me.

Robin Baker
Former BCiP Member