Posts Tagged ‘Ajouter un mot-clef’

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

Vendredi, 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.

Brexit and Science - Erika Angelidi

Mardi, septembre 13th, 2016

In our guest blog posting below Erika Angelidi, the Conservatives Abroad Representative in Greece, expresses her thoughts about Brexit as a physics graduate:

The UK is a pioneer in science. Everyone who has studied physics and other sciences in the UK has received a great education and has acquired important skills.

Please, therefore, allow me to offer some thoughts on the matter of UK’s exit from the EU, as we anxiously wait to see how the negotiations between the UK and the EU evolve and what the post exit period will bring.

In the fields of science and research, the concern has been voiced that with the exit of the country from the EU, the funding for science will cease. This will inevitably influence the scientific research in the country. This naturally leads to further concern and needs to be answered as clearly and as soon as possibly.

It is a wish of all physicists and the entire scientific community, as well as society as a whole, that a satisfactory solution will be found in the matter of funding and research in order to secure this important area.

In my view, research is quite simply necessary for life.

Erika Angelidi,
Conservatives Abroad Representative Greece,
Athens

The Politics of Identity & the Election of Sadiq Khan as Mayor of London

Samedi, mai 7th, 2016

Laetitia Strauch-Bonart who has prevously worked as a researcher for a French think tank, currently lives in London where she is writing a PhD in history on conservative thinkers and morale questions after 1945.

Her balanced article below from Le Figaro.fr on the election of Sadiq Khan as the first Muslim Mayor of London, also addresses how the focus on the religious identity of Mr Khan reduced the debate to the politics of identity, where origin and association counted for more than actual policies.

Ce que révèle l’élection de Sadiq Khan à la mairie de Londres

A United EU Can Address Shared Problems

Jeudi, décembre 17th, 2015

Our guest blog post today is from Erika Angelidi, the Conservatives Abroad Representative in Greece.

“Only a united European Union may successfully address its shared problems”.
I begin with this phrase as I believe that this thought is no less than the cornerstone in debating and solving all of the οld continent’s issues…

During the last months a relatively new issue has arisen: it is the massive illegal entry of paperless immigrants from Syria (and other countries currently at war in the Middle East) into the EU mostly through the Greek borders. Unfortunately, along with people stricken by such great misfortune, there has been an inflow of criminal elements, as has been recently proven. The gist of addressing this problem lies in the decisive help stemming from common EU efforts regarding the safeguarding and adequate patrolling of the Greek sea borders. One may not forget that the Greek borders are the European Union’s borders to the East.

Due to the current financial situation, it may be noted that Greece has not adequate means to deal with such a massive phenomenon by safeguarding its borders. In addition to this, the problem also lies in creating data bases with the incoming immigrants, their origin and goal country in order to capture the true dimensions of the existing situation. To this end, and to being able to monitor fake passports or other legal documents, high-tech equipment and special training is required. Another idea that has been presented is to offer motivation to those contemplating immigration, either in their own countries or even other, financially robust Arabic countries, where the adaptation would be much quicker and efficient due to the common culture, religion, language and customs.

This is an issue that will be on top of the European agenda for a long time to come. Politicians need to make appropriate and correct long-term decisions in order to establish a somewhat lost sentiment of security and peace with regards to the average citizen. At the same time, decent and sanitary life conditions ought to be secured for immigrants in the receiving countries. Lastly, it is to be noted that we ought not to forget that the nature of this issue is political and economical and that for answers and solutions we must go to its very root…. (to be continued)

Erika Angelidi

Conservatives Abroad Representative, Greece

The Corbyn Phenomenon

Mercredi, septembre 9th, 2015

New research from YouGov Profiles suggests that supporters of Jeremy Corbyn for Labour leader are united by personality and attitude as much as their policy positions:

There has been a lot of confusion about where exactly Jeremy Corbyn’s support is coming from. Depending on which newspaper you read, his supporters are depicted as one of old-fashioned socialists following union orders, affluent Islington drawing-room liberals, excitable young social media types, or even Tories in disguise.

In order to help cast some light on what is really driving the Corbyn phenomenon, we’ve taken a look at YouGov’s detailed profile data of a group of 3,735 eligible voters in the Labour leadership election. We’ve broken it down to see if we can unpick what holds Corbyn’s supporters together as a group – and what distinguishes them from supporters of his rivals.

THE SELECTORATE
The first thing to remember is that the relatively few people eligible to vote in the Labour leadership election – 400,000 odd until a few weeks ago, now more like 600,000 – are not remotely representative of the rest of the country. In most respects, there is more that unites the supporters of the four candidates than divides them: as a group they are much more political, more left wing and more partisan than the country at large.

labours-selectorate

Our sampling for the different supporter groups took place in the first week of August, about a week before registration closed and the ballot papers went out. We know from the Labour Party that as many as 200,000 additional members joined in that final week, around half last-minute union sign-ups and the other half divided between new £3 members and new full members. We don’t have data on the makeup of these latest groups, but there is no evidence that they follow a different pattern to the pre-existing majority - and any individual tranche would have to be wildly different in order to affect the larger picture.

DEMOGRAPHICS
When you start looking into the demographics of the supporters of the four leaders, clear differences start to emerge. In terms of income and social grade, the order is Kendall > Cooper > Burnham > Corbyn from higher up to lower down the scale; and in terms of how active they are on social media, Corbyn’s supporters are far ahead of the other three candidates. Interestingly, a supporter of Corbyn is almost twice as likely to have voted Liberal Democrat in 2010 as supporters of the other candidates.

The combination of factors suggests that Corbyn supporters comprise a coalition of traditional ‘old Labour’ members and a more mobile protest vote.

supporter-demographics

POLITICAL OUTLOOK
Politically speaking, the distinction is more clear cut: compared to the other candidates Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters are much more likely to see themselves as actively ‘left wing’ rather than simply ‘left of centre’.

how-left-wing

Corbyn supporters take a much more unanimous line on issues concerning the size of the state such as nationalisation of the railways and healthcare. In many cases, majorities of the other candidates’ supporters also support the same policy positions but express them with less conviction and are less uncompromising in how they would like them to be implemented.

More specifically, Corbyn supporters are nearly twice as likely to be opposed to RAF participation in airstrikes against Islamic State, and feel negative towards the royal family as an institution.

supporters-issues1

Most of Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters (51%) agree with the statement that “the United States is the greatest single threat to world peace”, compared to just 36% of Andy Burnham’s supporters, 18% of Yvette Cooper’s supporters and 15% of Liz Kendall’s. The continuing influence of the Iraq War as an issue is palpable in these numbers.

OUTLOOK AND PERSONALITY
Most intriguing of all however are the differences between the candidates’ supporters in terms of personality and general outlook. This is long-term profile data that was collected over time, not in the context of the Labour leadership race or even politics. It suggests something important about Jeremy Corbyn’s mixed appeal.

outlook-and-personality

Each of those four general life attitudes is significantly more likely to be found among Corbyn supporters than supporters of the other three candidates. At first, the loose positivity of being a ‘dreamer’ seems to clash with the almost militant-sounding statements that the ‘world is controlled by a secretive elite’ and ‘I don’t like being told what to do.’ But in the context of a perceived political elite who have defined a permissible ‘centre ground’ and who reject as extremist any ideas outside it, it makes perfect sense. It’s not necessarily about specific policies - they are intuitively more attracted to non-conformist alternatives and Jeremy Corbyn appeals to their broader world view.

mental-strengths

What’s more, when asked to identify their own strengths and weaknesses, Corbyn supporters self-identify as much stronger in verbal intelligence and imagination than for example Yvette Cooper’s supporters, who score themselves higher than average on mathematical intelligence and processing speed. Put simply, this group is not going to be ‘reasoned with’ - they are looking to be inspired.

Elections are always about change, and this is a group who are particularly keen for something different. The fact Jeremy Corbyn has been so dismissed by the establishment has helped him to acquire the enviable mantle of the ‘change candidate’. In specific policy terms, it is true that Corbynites are on the fringe rather than the mainstream; but in terms of mood and personality, they represent a longing for an alternative that has an appeal far beyond the Left of the Labour Party.

NOTE: Our sampling for the different supporter groups took place in the first week of August, about a week before registration closed and the ballot papers went out. We know from the Labour Party that as many as 200,000 additional members joined in that final week, around half last-minute union sign-ups and the other half divided between new £3 members and new full members. We don’t have data on the makeup of these latest groups, but any individual tranche would have to be wildly different from in order to affect the overall picture.

Why I’m pro-European…..by Robin Baker

Lundi, juillet 27th, 2015

……….and will vote Yes to the UK’s EU membership.

The most important reason why I am pro-Europe is peace. I lived, albeit as a very small child, through the Second World War and although I had no understanding of the war at that time, I could to some extent understand its horrors fairly early thereafter and well remember what we had to endure in the post-war recovery period. The move to a united Europe started with the Schuman declaration in May 1950 when the French Foreign Minister called for the creation of a Coal and Steel Community saying:

« Le rassemblement des nations européennes exige que l’opposition séculaire de la France et de l’Allemagne soit éliminée : l’action entreprise doit toucher au premier chef la France et l’Allemagne.

Dans ce but, le gouvernement français propose de porter immédiatement l’action sur un point limité mais décisif :

“Le gouvernement français propose de placer l’ensemble de la production franco- allemande de charbon et d’acier sous une Haute Autorité commune, dans une organisation ouverte à la participation des autres pays d’Europe.” La mise en commun des productions de charbon et d’acier assurera immédiatement l’établissement de bases communes de développement économique, première étape de la Fédération européenne, et changera le destin de ces régions longtemps vouées à la fabrication des armes de guerre dont elles ont été les plus constantes victimes.

La solidarité de production (de charbon et d’acier) qui sera ainsi nouée manifestera que toute guerre entre la France et l’Allemagne devient non seulement impensable, mais matériellement impossible. »

English Version:

“The coming together of the nations of Europe requires the elimination of the age-old opposition of France and Germany. Any action taken must in the first place concern these two countries.

With this aim in view, the French Government proposes that action be taken immediately on one limited but decisive point.

It proposes that Franco-German production of coal and steel as a whole be placed under a common High Authority, within the framework of an organization open to the participation of the other countries of Europe. The pooling of coal and steel production should immediately provide for the setting up of common foundations for economic development as a first step in the federation of Europe, and will change the destinies of those regions which have long been devoted to the manufacture of munitions of war, of which they have been the most constant victims.

The solidarity in production thus established will make it plain that any war between France and Germany becomes not merely unthinkable, but materially impossible.”

Clearly the key to his proposal was stopping any further conflict between France and Germany after the disastrous wars of 1870, 1914 and 1939. This was achieved while, at the same time, permitting the reindustrialisation of Germany which France’s history gave it so much reason to fear. And it was that which lead to the enormous improvement in the economic lot of the participants. Schuman was right, war did become impossible and this first European institution developed into the EU of today. Britain got it totally wrong, the Foreign Secretary of the time (Herbert Morrison) saying that we could not join the proposed Coal and Steel Community because “the Durham miners wouldn’t wear it.” Unfortunately when the Conservatives came to power, we still refused to join because of Anthony Eden’s belief that Britain’s future lay with its Empire. Of course today some people say that the avoidance of war is no longer relevant, war would remain impossible even were the EU to be dissolved. I would agree with them if they could tell me when they predicted that there would be war between the armies of Russia and Ukraine when the Soviet Union broke up. I see serious risks of instability in Europe that could arise were there to be no longer an EU: look at Hungary, look at the internal problems of Italy and Spain, look at the potential conflicts that could arise over the wave of migration from Africa. So I believe the Schuman argument remains valid and I want my country to be part of this.

My second reason is the impact of Europe on material prosperity. In the period up to the UK joining the EEC in 1973 our economic growth rate was significantly less than the EEC’s. My strong impression at the time was that this gap was reduced to an important extent thereafter. But the position is complicated to assess. North Sea oil production started in the UK sector in 1975 and that clearly had an impact, although there was also oil and gas production in other EEC countries. There are two articles about this I think worth quoting. One was in the Economist’s Free Exchange column that quoted a study of the impact on GDP of EU membership using a comparison of member and non-member states’ data. That reckoned that the UK GDP was over 20% higher than it would have been had we not been in the EU. The second is a research paper by the House of Commons Library that studied the economic benefits of EU membership. That points out that it is impossible to give a definitive figure because it involves estimating what would have happened had we not been a member. It does summarise a number of studies that have tried to answer this question and shows the range of different conclusions as follows:

uk-net-benefits-of-eu2

As can be seen, the estimates range from UKIP’s conclusion that membership costs us 5% of GDP to that of the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills which estimates a gain of 6% of GDP p.a. The only one of these studies that I have read is the UKIP one, from which I concluded that their estimates were absolutely absurd; of course the study is readily available on-line.

But it does seem to me to be simple common sense that being a member of a major trading block with a population of over 500 million and GDP exceeding that of the USA, is of very substantial benefit. The EU takes 50% of UK exports (Nigel Farage claims that it is only 40% but that is not correct). Were we to leave, we might remain a member of the European Economic Area so still benefit from free trade with the EU but that would require us to accept all European trade regulations without any say in their development. Norway does that and it is called a fax democracy, because the EU Commission sends them a fax saying what new laws their Parliament must pass in relation to new rules, and they duly pass them. If we were outside that Economic Area, we would face the common external tariff on the half of our exports now going to other EU members. As an example, that would mean a 10% tariff on British motor vehicle exports to other EU countries, which amounted to £17 billion in 2013.

I would like to comment on some of the arguments currently used against EU membership. Nigel Farage is keen on saying that 75% of UK legislation is made in Europe. Daniel Hannan MEP has said that it is 84%. Again there is an excellent House of Commons Library research paper on that subject. That raises the interesting question as to how does one go about calculating a proportion of legislation, but finally concludes that:

“It is possible to estimate the proportion of national laws based on EU laws. In the UK, estimates suggest that over the twelve-year period from 1997 to 2009, 6.8% of primary legislation (Statutes) and 14.1% of secondary legislation (Statutory Instruments) had a role in implementing EU obligations, although the degree of involvement varied from passing reference to explicit implementation. Sectoral studies suggest that the agriculture forms the highest area of EU influence and defence the lowest. The British Government estimates that around 50% of UK legislation with a significant economic impact originates from EU legislation.”

Much of these laws related to the construction of the Single European Market, but little European law is now arising from that so the impact of Europe on UK legislation is falling.

The fact that agriculture is a high proportion is important, as a lot of EU legislation on agriculture relates to farming olives and tobacco, which does not impact on the UK.

Another much used argument is that of bureaucracy. Of course the EU is a bureaucracy; it is run by human beings. But while the number of civil servants employed by the UK Government is 479,000 (out of the 4.4 million total in the public sector costing 23% of total government expenditure) and in France, civil servants number 2 million; the Commission only has 30,000 employees, i.e. three quarters of the staff employed by the City of Paris. What is remarkable is that this is achieved despite the fact that the EU has to work in 23 official languages and provide for interpretation between them, which obviously increases staff numbers. But, despite that, it spends only about 6% of its budget on staff, administration and building maintenance.

Is often said that, when we joined the EEC in 1973, we were told that we were joining a free trade area. This, of course, is rubbish, we were already in a free trade area (EFTA) before we joined the EEC and we left it because it did not work. It did not work because it did not prevent non-tariff barriers to trade. The EEC, and now the EU, works because non-tariff barriers to trade are prohibited. They can only be prohibited by having a central authority that sets regulations to stop such barriers (a recent regulation struck down German internal market rules that effectively prevent British manufacturers selling chocolate in Germany). That this was made clear before we joined is shown by a few examples appended.

There are many positive reasons for EU membership, for example:

1. We are part of a group of countries with a common cultural and historical heritage co-operating together for the greater benefit of all.

2. Co-operation within the EU covers areas where action by individual nations within the limits of their national boundaries would be at best ineffective and at worst meaningless. An obvious example is environmental protection. Competition policy applied across the EU is another example giving wide benefits.

3. Because of the Common Agricultural Policy, we are part of an economic block that is self sufficient in food. That important to me as I remember the rationing in WWII and the post-war period.

4. As citizens of the European Union we entitled to move freely, to live and to be employed anywhere within the Union. Also we can hold and transfer funds freely within the Union.

5. There are positive impacts in other areas which most people, including the press, never consider. An example is higher education in the UK which benefits from the EU providing a common economic space within which talent can move freely. The EU enlarges our nation’s research base. Over 80% of the UK’s internationally co-authored papers are written with EU partners. The UK secures over €6 billion of EU research, development and innovation funding; the University of Kent calculates that every €1 of such funding increases the added value to industry by €13.

6. Importantly for me, citizens of the European Union living in a member state other than their own, are protected against discrimination against them by their own government in relation to social benefits. For example, British state pensioners living outside the EU have their pensions frozen, despite having paid the same contribution as those living in the UK whose pensions are increased to allow for inflation. Pensions of Britons resident in the EU cannot be frozen.

Robin Baker
BCiP member

Apendix

What we were told about joining the EEC

Edward Heath

House of Commons Debate in August 1966.

The Community is so much more than a market … the phrase “Common Market” underestimates and undervalues the Community, and, for this reason, tends to mislead those who have to deal with it.’…. Those who say that the British people must realise what is involved in this are absolutely right. There is a pooling of sovereignty. Member countries of the Community have deliberately undertaken to achieve their objectives, and, because they believe that the objectives are worth that degree of surrender of sovereignty, they have done it quite deliber¬ately … When we surrender some sovereignty, we shall have a share in the sovereignty of the Community as a whole, and of other members of it. It is not just, as is sometimes thought, an abandonment of sovereignty to other countries; it is a sharing of other people’s sovereignty as well as a pooling of our own.

9th May 1967, “There can be no doubt that the logical conclusion in a common market is to move over de facto or de jure to a common currency.

As Prime Minster 10 June 1971: “We have said that as members of the enlarged Community we would play our full part in the progress towards economic and monetary union.”

Also in June 1971 the Foreign Secretary (Sir Alec Douglas-Home) said; “On two counts I am in full agreement with the opponents of our entry into Europe. The first is that our application is a step of the outmost political significance, and the second is that there is a danger of its political importance being overlooked in the public debate on the economic issues.”

Third reading debate on EEC entry 13th July, 1972, Sir Geoffrey Howe (Attorney-General):

“The concept of a common system of Community law, uniformly expressed, operating and enforced throughout the Community, is integral to the community system. If this country became a Member of the European Communities it would be accepting Community Law….The constitutional innovation would lie in the acceptance in advance as part of the law of the United Kingdom of provisions to be made in the future by instruments issued by Community institutions. … It is open to right hon. and hon. Members opposite to declare that they have changed their minds and that the concept of a uniform system of Community law is no longer acceptable to them. However, it is simply not open to them to suggest that this concept is an optional extra to the basic treaties which they once accepted.”

And, of course, the opponents of EEC entry also made the position clear, e.g. Peter Shore in the same debate: “The area over which under the treaties European institutions will be able to make our future law is largely undefined, and is certain to grow. It already includes not only a general capacity to make laws but now a substantial capacity to raise taxes. Indeed, for the first time since the Stuarts we are to be taxed without the consent of Parliament. What is so deeply unacceptable is that we have no right to repeal, to change, to amend the laws to which we are about to become subject—no right, that is, unless we breach the treaty itself. That is the dilemma with which we are faced. So what it comes to is this: the Bill will create, from the moment it takes effect, a large “no-go” area for British democracy, an area in which Community jurisdiction will apply and Community laws will have to be obeyed. That is the truth of the matter.”

France24 Debate: UK Elections - Main Parties’ Support Eroding

Mardi, avril 7th, 2015

View this France24.com debate on a “Divided Britain” - UK Elections: Support for the Main Parties Eroding - and involving Jeremy Stubbs, Chairman of British Conservatives in Paris, Evan O’Connell, Vice-Chair Labour Party in France, Melissa Bell a France 24 journalist and John Curtice, Professor of Politics at Strathclyde University.

http://m.france24.com/en/20150406-the-debate-UK-elex-partone/

Scottish Referendum - A Message from Sir Roger Gale MP

Mercredi, septembre 10th, 2014

Good morning

Folks in far-flung places and those closer to home,

If you have family or friends or contacts who are eligible to vote in Scotland next week would you be kind enough to impress upon them the importance of the “No” vote to maintain the Union.

At the Battle Of Britain dinner in the House last night the point was made that it was at this time of year that so many of our young airmen gave their lives in the defence of the United Kingdom. The break-up of the Union would have disastrous consequences not just for Scotland but for the whole future of what most of us have worked all our lives for and hold dear.

That, of course, will embrace not only domestic but overseas interests as well.

We are making considerable progress over the right of Britons resident overseas to vote (and if you are eligible but have not yet registered please do so) and there are even some glimmerings – although I would not wish to overstate the case – of light on the pensions uprating front. We shall be stronger together.

This is a crucial moment in our Island`s history and we really do need to muster all of the support available.

With very best wishes

Roger - (Sir Roger Gale MP)

https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote

Marginal Constituencies Win Elections

Lundi, février 24th, 2014

Have a browse of the interactive BBC News link below.

It lists the marginal seats which could decide the next UK General Election in May 2015.

“government majorities are made or broken in the relatively small number of marginal seats with small majorities that change hands at elections”.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-25726270

Welfare Benefits - Separating Fact from Fiction

Vendredi, avril 12th, 2013

With the Welfare debate developing as a key policy differentiator between the major political parties, the on-line Guardian newspaper on Saturday 6th April, 2013 carried the interesting article below on the overall benefits system in Britain:
Benefits in Britain: separating the facts from the fiction

For 2011-12 it is estimated that 0.8%, or £1.2bn, of total benefit expenditure was overpaid as a result of fraud. This is far lower than the figures widely believed by the public, as revealed repeatedly in opinion polls. A TUC poll recently revealed that people believe 27% of the welfare budget is claimed fraudulently.

Hard to judge, and hard to generalise. There is a lot of movement in and out of work, so many Job Seekers Allowance claims are very short. More than 80% of claimants never go near the work programme because they aren’t on the benefit for long enough. A lot are off it in under six months. For disability benefits, there are a lot more long-term claimants, of course. In 2012, 18% of working-age households were workless; in only 2% had no one ever worked. More than half of adults in households where no one has ever worked were under 25. So although the proportion of households where no one has ever worked has increased recently, it is likely to be a manifestation of high and rising young adult unemployment.”

This has been followed by an article in the on-line Sun newspaper on Sunday 7th April:
Brits say benefits are too generous. Poll backs Tories’ attack on State handouts.

“SIX out of ten voters think State handouts are far too generous, a poll reveals today.
In a massive vote of confidence for David Cameron’s blitz on benefits, they think the PM is right to CUT them.
Most people believe at least HALF of claimants are not in genuine need and don’t deserve any help.

And they think striving families struggling on low incomes are being squeezed at their expense.
The huge public support for an overhaul of the welfare state is spelled out in a YouGov poll for The Sun.”

Then Alister Heath writing in the on-line City A.M. Monday of 8th April, 2013 sums it all up quite well by bringing together what he terms the HYSTERIA surrounding reform of financial services and welfare in his article:
Facts are vital to the debate on welfare and banking reforms.

“With some caveats, I’m broadly in favour of the coalition’s reforms to the welfare state, and wish the changes went further. Instead of helping the most vulnerable get back on their feet, the present system all too often traps them in poverty; it is also unfair to those who work. But I’m worried about Iain Duncan Smith’s decision to rely on complex computer systems, an area in which governments tend to fail.
What is clear is that the case for a return to personal responsibility should be made without seeking to demonise the vast majority of those on benefits. Nobody should feel the need to exaggerate the present system’s many woes.”

The Conservative party is currently “making the political weather” as they say and leading Labour on the issue of welfare reform. However, with the public generally in favour but apprehensive about the actual impact on individual hardship cases, there’s a need to concentrate on the facts and ensure successful implementation of the new welfare benefits system before the May 2015 General Election.

Public perception of an issue is important in politics but getting it wrong will make it too easy for Labour, very much on the defensive, to respond with e.g. their pantomime “nasty party” label for the Tories and throw away a clear lead with the public on this issue in the opinion polls.