Posts Tagged ‘British politics’

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.

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

Mardi, 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

Memoires of a Life Long Eurosceptic - Gillian Bardinet

Mardi, janvier 31st, 2017

Very instructive and thought provoking as a contribution to the debate that should have taken place before the Referendum but could do well to help shape the final form of Brexit, here are the thoughts of former BCiP member Gillian Bardinet, who confesses herself a romantic historian, starting with the signing of the original treaty which took the UK into the then European Economic Community (EEC):

“Qu’allait-il faire dans cette galère?”
This was my question on January 22nd 1972 when the Conservative P.M. Edward Heath signed the treaty that took Britain into the EEC the European Economic Community, then more often called “The Common Market.”

What was the United Kingdom thinking of? Had no-one in government read the speeches of Europe’s founding father Jean Monnet? In his speeches his determination to create a single European country was explicit. “ Europe has never existed; one must genuinely create Europe.” And how was this to be done?

“Nothing is lasting without institutions” he said. Had no-one among British politicians understood that Robert Schuman’s Coal and Steel pact with Germany was a clear move towards that same goal?

Who had taken notice of the Cassandra warnings issued by the respected Oxford historian, A.J.P. Taylor who had written, 3 years earlier, “Politicians of all parties, seek to turn Great Britain into a purely European Country”?

How many people fully understood this? In January 1972, the answer, one must conclude, was very few.

By June 1975 the numbers had swollen: doubts, even fears were emerging. There was a call for Harold Wilsons’s Labour government to renegotiate the terms of British entry: these calls were as futile and fruitless as those which heralded David Cameron’s doomed quest for reform of the E.U. in 2016. Faced with this situation, the preferred answer, to assuage doubts and fears, was to call a referendum posing the bald question.

“Yes or No to continued membership of the E.E.C.” The popular arguments on both sides were marginally, only marginally, more succinct and better formulated than those of June 2016.

However, within Wilson’s Cabinet were a number of ambitious intellectual sophisticates, notably Roy Jenkins, and the core statement of Her Majesty’s government was one of clever dupery and deception. “The government has established that there is no agreement in the Community on what European unity means beyond a general aspiration to closer co-operation. The government’s view, which is shared by other member states, is that closer co-operation is desirable and must be pursued in a pragmatic way, but there is no support elsewhere in the Community for moves towards a centralized Federal State.”

Before the British referendum, the Belgian Prime Minister, Leo Tindemans had been asked to prepare a report on the possibility of European Union, and Willy Brandt, then Chancellor of Germany, clearly and consistently stated his desire for ultimate political union!

Nonetheless, there was no mention in the official British core statement of a European country or state with all the accompanying paraphernalia of bureaucracy. Emphasis, throughout the country was placed on the benefits of membership of a Common Market.

While this phrase may not have excited French idealists and ambitious continental Europhiles it did appeal to the British voters. From car boot sales to the Antiques Road Show, they do enjoy buying and selling, as Napoleon himself had disparagingly noted! But, they are far less enamoured of creating institutions and above all, of writing constitutions which perforce, reflect the political and intellectual climate of the time, and as seen so clearly in the U.S.A., require frequent amendments and High Court judgements.

As Theresa May so rightly pointed out in her recent speech on Jan. 17th 2017 “ the principle of Parliamentary sovereignty is the basis of our unwritten constitutional settlement”. She also noted that “ the public expect to be able to hold their governments to account very directly, and as a result, supranational institutions as strong as those created by the European Union sit very uneasily in relation to our political history and way of life”.

However, in the summer of 1975, with a resounding “Yes” to the Common Market, Britain was securely anchored to the emerging European state.

The state? SPQR – The Senate and the People of Rome – a new Roman Republic, a new American Republic? Whichever or whatever, as Jean Monnet himself had declared “nothing can exist without institutions”. And what is a state if not a collection of institutions? The task of creating a European state was one which thrilled disciples of Jean Monnet and the founding fathers. Naturally, they looked back to the ideas of the European Enlightenment, the great period which preceded and profoundly influenced both the French Revolution and the birth of the U.S.A.

Yes, there would be a European state, but would it be a truly federal state as often declared by the Europhiles, or rather, a centralized, unitary state whose nature might disturb if too openly and suddenly revealed? The word “federal” is applied to the systems of government in Germany, in Canada and in the U.S.A. But definitions of the word may vary, and abuse of it is not infrequent. Thomas Jefferson’s comments in 1810 are of great interest to those who seek to understand, and even define, the character of the nascent European state.

“ I have ever been opposed “ he wrote, “to the party so falsely called federalists, because I believe them desirous of introducing into our government, authorities ………. independent of the national will: these always consume the public contributions and oppress the people with labour and poverty. “A federal state is defined as one which marks a clear definition between central and state authority”.

Thomas Jefferson rightly feared a unitary centralized state. One of the great unanswered questions concerning the European Union is precisely this: Are the heirs of Jean Monnet seeking to entrench a unitary state? Perhaps.

Monnet himself has been accused of being “occult” or deliberately misleading in order to achieve his aims. No doubt, as both a sophisticated political scientist and an experienced negotiator, he was, but so too, were other great & successful diplomats, whose aim, like that of Jean Monnet, was the protection and nurture of their own countries: one may think back to the protracted & devious marriage negotiations which Elizabeth 1st conducted with her various suitors in order to gain time and wait for the others to declare their hands and with luck make mistakes.

I confess, I am a romantic historian, and like some others, I love to refer back to 1588, 1815 or even, on some dark days to the Witenagemot, the tragic death of Harold at Hastings and the coming of taxation with William Duke of Normany and the Domesday Book!

But, we romantic historians are in a minority among the Leavers of 2016. Less romantic Leavers, include those like Bill Cash, John Redwood and Bernard Jenkin who for years, have seen the threat to British Parliamentary Sovereignty posed by membership of the E.U.

These three are all Conservative MP’s, but there have been and still are Labour MP’s who share their fears. The most eloquent of these is without doubt, the member for Birmingham Edgbaston, Gisela Stuart. Born into a Catholic family in West Germany she had all the natural, one might almost say genetic characteristics of an ardent Europhile, but life in the Westminster Parliament & Chairmanship of a Committee looking into the relationship of Britain with the E.U. led her to consider that her adopted country should remain outside the burgeoning Eurostate.

Could she already and clearly discern the outlines of a unitary Eurostate whose features would be totally at odds with those of the U.K.? Yes, for Gisela Stuart’s strong links to two of the most important features of the Eurostate enabled her to do so. Firstly, and for many surprisingly, there is the influence of the Catholic Church. It was the former Taoisearch, Garret Fitzgerald, who opened my own eyes to this during a casual after dinner conversation in an Oxford College: in answer to my question posed more out of politeness than desire for information – “Why do you think the English are so reluctant to embrace Europe, while the Irish are happy with it?”

He replied immediately and emphatically – “450 years of divorce from Holy, Mother Church.” An interesting reply, and one which led to more investigation of the subject.

The blue flag and the 12 gold stars are one is reliably told, symbols of the Virgin Mary, and of love, harmony and peace. Yes, but the Catholic Church has also been synonymous for more than Garret Fitzgerald’s 450 years with obedience, authoritarianism and hierarchical societies. Both Konrad Adenauer and Charles de Gaulle were unswerving Catholics, when the first foundations of the quasi-mystical, overtly political Franco-German treaty was signed in 1963. Since then, its tenets have been adopted in schools, universities and most aspects of civil society in both countries. It is an article of faith.

At the end of what I had considered to be a successful year’s teaching of the political and economic significance of the E.U. my French students gave me a signed post card of the cathedral at Strasbourg and on it was written – “Thank you for an exhilarating year – but Europe is also this.” And this they believed without question.

The history of Britain, at its best has been one of flexibility, not uniformity; of questioning and reappraisal, of opposition to dogmatism.

Secondly, Gisela Stuart is a socialist and I am a life long Eurosceptic because naturally I am deeply worried by many aspects of Euro Socialism which feature of the move to political unity only became open and virtually unchallenged from 1985 with the arrival of Jacques Delors in Brussels. Previously he had been French finance minister from 1981-1984 under the premiership of Pierre Mauroy an old fashioned Socialist party activist who was appointed to this post by the newly elected President of the Republic François Mitterrand. Red Rose in hand, Mitterrand who liked to be compared to Leon Blum, pledged dramatically to bring in Socialism of the 1936 Popular Front variety. For 2 years, no efforts were spared to nationalize, to bring wages up and working hours down, with retirement up to 10 years earlier than anywhere else in Europe. Wealth was to be taxed and redistributed by the central power, the omnipresent state. To many outside the sphere of French Socialism, this experiment seemed to combine the egalitarian zeal of the Jacobins with the disregard for economic reality of the romantic socialists of the 1930’s.

Jaques Delors, a former banker, was passionately interested in labour law and rose thanks to union activity. A practising Catholic, he was revered by fellow left-wing Catholics who had helped to elect Mitterrand in 1981. Delors was a committed socialist planner and when Mitterrand’s Blum like experiment failed in France in 1983, Delors dispatched to Brussels, was delighted: far from any sense of failure, he whole-heartedly embraced the challenge of establishing socialism, under the guise of social democracy throughout Europe. There would be no re-appraisal of things past; in Europe “les acquis” however outdated and unfit for purpose were and still are, sacrosanct.

Meanwhile, across the Channel, where neither Heath nor Wilson had prevailed against “the robber barons of the system” – the trades unions who had virtually held the country hostage, Margaret Thatcher was creating the conditions in which the British people could create jobs and wealth and recover their self-esteem.

Despite the fact that a clash of opinions between Delors and Thatcher looked inevitable, this was not initially a period of Euroscepticism , but rather one of Euro optimism with British MEP’s representing their own constituencies, holding surgeries, maintaining close contact with the electorate. Such people as Henry Plumb MEP for the Cotswolds, and Diana Elles in the Thames Valley to mention two whom I met and admired personally, were having an impact on the debates within the European Parliament. Margaret Thatcher herself was to declare “ We British are as much heirs to the legacy of European culture as any other nation”.

But, when Jacques Delors addressed the T.U.C. Congress in Bournemouth, ostensibly inviting the members to join with their European brothers under European Law, the gloves were off. Was Europe really to encroach on national territory in this way and to this extent? The immediate result was Margaret Thatcher’s Bruges speech in Sept 1988 in which she notably declared, ”We have not successfully rolled back the frontiers of the state in Britain only to see them re-imposed at a European level with a European super-state exercising a new dominance from Brussels”. Definitions of the state clearly differed and the fear expressed by the British P.M. was exacerbated by the fact that as she said, “decisions will be taken by an appointed bureaucracy.” Where did this leave the era of the local British MEP in his cosy constituency office, talking to his electors about the impact of European projects on British agriculture or industry?

Interestingly, Margaret Thatcher also mentioned Europe’s Christian legacy “with its recognition of the unique and spiritual nature of the individual”. To many this might seem to be a definition of Protestant man and woman, with “ clear beliefs in personal liberty.” Would it be unfair to see in this part of her speech, a natural reference to the Reformation as opposed to the enforced uniformity and obedience of the Roman Catholic world?

Two visions of what was still at that time the European Community, not yet the Union: two visions which would lead to acrimony across Europe, splits within the British Conservative party and ultimately to Brexit. January 24th 2017 The British Supreme Court has ruled in favour of a Parliamentary vote on the triggering of article 50. Many “Leavers” are dismayed by this decision, but surely it should be seen as the restoration of sovereignty to the elected chamber, to the elected and accountable representatives of the people. The role of the over-mighty, unelected House of Lords will no doubt come in for some close scrutiny of its own!

As a Eurosceptic, I salute this decision. I trust that now we shall have the debate we should have had during the referendum campaign. I trust that we shall have talk of government by consent, that we shall talk of the need to have laws which are accepted because, debated and not arbitrarily imposed from above and beyond. I trust that now we shall pay more heed to those in poorer areas who, unfashionably, by voting “Leave” were seeking the comfort of a land in which social trust engenders, as it has done for centuries, a society of stability and serenity. Fear and incomprehension gave rise to too much emotion in the pre-referendum days. There is no need, no justification to hold a second referendum, falling into the Euro mode of voting and voting again until the answer suits the Euro citadel in Brussels.

To those who voted “Remain” perhaps thinking wistfully of the delights of Umbria, Courcheval or the Dordogne, may I say, that in very many ways I believe it is Great Britain which has shown itself to be the land of liberty, equality and fraternity, the land which, as with the agrarian and industrial revolutions, is in the vanguard. Time now to make the very best of the freedom & responsibility which Brexit has delivered.

Gillian Bardinet
Former Member, BCiP.

End of Year Message on Brexit from Erika Angelidi

Samedi, décembre 10th, 2016

In an end of year message Erika Angelidi, the Conservatives Abroad Representative in Greece, looks forwards positively to developments in the UK’s negotiations with the EU:

Without a doubt, the Year that will soon be left behind brought with it numerous important events, some even stirring as the municipal elections and the referendum!

We all await for new developments regarding the negotiations of the UK with the EU. It is most certain that in the upcoming year the air will clear around the relations of the UK and the EU, especially by the entry into force of Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which provides for the withdrawal of a member state from the EU.

We wish for fruitful negotiations in all areas, matters such as the freedom of movement of people and goods and the funding of the education and healthcare system(s) being of paramount importance.

Erika Angelidi
Conservatives Abroad Representative Greece,
Athens

Diplomacy must change to going up with the Sound of the Trump!

Mercredi, novembre 23rd, 2016

I never thought that I would say this, but I have to admit that Donald Trump has now convinced me. The present conventions of diplomacy are wrong and must be changed.

Which country is the more affected by the choice of an ambassador, the host country or the country sending the ambassador. The question clearly answers itself. The host country has to put up with his presence; the country he represents merely gets rid of him. Therefore, from now, it must be the host country who decides whom the ambassador shall be.

So, if President-elect Trump wants Nigel Farage, he should have him; subject only to another country where his presence would be more appropriate, I have in mind North Korea, having the right of pre-emption. Think of the benefits this system could offer. Perhaps we could persuade Zimbabwe to demand Boris Johnson, or outer Mongolia David Davis. A left-wing English friend of mine says that Britain should claim Bernie Saunders as its American ambassador, my personal view is that most British, or perhaps I should say most British men, would prefer Scarlett Johansson. Of course the British would ask for Carlo Bruni from France, even if that meant them having to put up with Sarko coming with her. That would save money, as she could represent both France and Italy à la fois.

Inevitably there would be some minor disadvantages; the UK would have to make it clear that neither of the Middleton sisters are permitted to reside outside Britain, and can anyone think of three famous Belgians whom other countries could seek? But such difficulties are made to be overcome. As someone has not quite said, the sound of the trump means the sound of the trump.

Robin Baker
BCiP Member

The EU Referendum Decision

Samedi, octobre 22nd, 2016

In her opening speech to the Conservative Party Conference this month, the Prime Minister said: “Even now, some politicians – democratically-elected politicians – say that the referendum isn’t valid. … But come on. The referendum result was clear. It was legitimate.”

Well I think that the referendum was neither valid nor legitimate, and am going to use this blog to say why.

There are many reasons. One is that when a referendum is held, the Government decides the question on the ballot paper but the voters decide which question they will use the referendum to answer. Theresa May knows that, indeed she has emphasised it. She used her second speech at the Party Conference to tell us: “For the referendum was not just a vote to withdraw from the EU. It was about something broader – something that the European Union had come to represent. It was about a sense – deep, profound and let’s face it often justified – that many people have today that the world works well for a privileged few, but not for them.”

Prime Minister, I believe that you were absolutely right in saying that. But you cannot have it both ways. Either the result of the vote was clear, or it resulted from something broader than the question on the ballot paper. It cannot be both. I would like to know how many of those who voted Leave, did so because this deep profound sense cited by the Prime Minister and not because they really wanted Brexit. Could it have been one tenth of them? Could it have been more than a tenth? These questions are important: had only 4% of those who voted Leave done so because of that deep profound sense and would have voted Remain otherwise, then there was no majority among the electorate for Brexit. No, Mrs May, based on what you told us at the Conference, there is no way that the result can be thought of as clear.

But there is more. I have been following election campaigns since the late 1950s, and I have never seen such a dishonest campaign. It was not just the barefaced lie about saving £350 million per week to spend on the Health Service, there was much more, including the Brexit campaign claim that the European Commission is an unelected bureaucracy and that MEPs have no power to control it.

In fact the Commission is elected by the European Council, all of whose members are from governments elected by citizens of member states, i.e. an indirect election process similar to that used for the French Senate. But it is more democratic than the elections for the French Senate because the Council is obliged to reflect the political balance of the MEPs who have just been elected to the European Parliament. Also, the Commission cannot take office until it has been approved by the Parliament and it can be dismissed by the Parliament.

Let me pose the Brexiteers two questions: which is the more democratic, the European Commission or the British House of Lords, and when did you last complain about the latter?

However for me, and I must confess that as an expatriate I am biased in this respect, the worst feature of the referendum was the fact that expatriates of more than 15 years standing were denied the vote. The Conservative Party had promised expatriates votes for life and the Government had over a year to prepare and table legislation to correct this injustice. Alternatively, the referendum could have been delayed until they were ready. The new minister, Chris Skidmore, was appointed Parliamentary Secretary at the Cabinet Office on 17 July 2016. His Policy Statement announcing details of the intended Votes for Life Bill was made at the Conservatives Abroad conference on 6 October, i.e. less than three months later. This timing can only mean either that Skidmore achieved within less than three months what it was impossible to do between the general election on 7th May 2015 and the referendum on 23rd June 2016, or that the paper was already prepared and ready before his appointment, i.e. before the referendum, but not released. Either way I now have no doubt that the failure to table the Votes for Life Bill prior to the referendum was deliberate in order to help the Brexit side win.

It succeeded. The majority for Brexit in the referendum was 1.27 million votes. The Government has estimated that there are 2.2 million British expatriates in the EU. T he total number of expatriates who voted in the referendum was 253,111. If we assume that 200,000 of those voters were in the EU, then that means that 2,000,000 expatriates in the EU could not or did not vote. Of course I do not know how many of them are of voting age but, had they been enfranchised, 82% of them voted remain and all the rest for Brexit, then Remain would have had the majority. If the expatriates that I know in France are anything like representative, then 90% would have voted Remain. Of course this does not take into account the votes of expatriates living outside the EU. We can get an idea of how they would probably have voted by looking at the socio-economic analyses of referendum voters. People most likely to have voted Remain were educated to degree level and in socio-economic group AB. People most likely to have voted Leave had more limited education and/or were in socio-economic groups C2 or DE. That makes it appear that a majority of expatriates even living outside the EU would have voted for remain.

The above shows why I am convinced that, had the promised Votes for Life Bill been enacted in time to apply to the referendum, then the Remain side would have won. So it is not true to say, as Minsters are fond of doing, that the British people voted to leave the EU. The British electorate voted for Brexit with the composition of the electoral roll cooked to bring about that result.

Theresa May also said at the Party Conference: “We will invoke Article 50 no later than the end of March next year. It is not up to the House of Commons to invoke Article 50, and it is not up to the House of Lords. It is up to the Government to trigger Article 50 and the Government alone. …. We will soon put before Parliament a Great Repeal Bill, which will remove from the statute book – once and for all – the European Communities Act. This historic Bill – which will be included in the next Queen’s Speech – will mean that the 1972 Act, the legislation that gives direct effect to all EU law in Britain, will no longer apply from the date upon which we formally leave the European Union.”

To understand what she wants to achieve we need to look at Article 50. It provides that the member state concerned must leave the EU “from the date of entry into force of the withdrawal agreement or, failing that, two years after the notification referred to in paragraph 2, unless the European Council, in agreement with the Member State concerned, unanimously decides to extend this period”. So, once notification under Article 50 is given, we are out of the EU unless every single one of the other 27 member states agrees otherwise and does so without imposing conditions that would be unacceptable to the UK. Voting on the proposed Great Repeal Bill would give Parliament no power at all over the decision. With Article 50 triggered, were Parliament to reject the Great Repeal Bill we would still be out of the EU, but we would remain subject to the European Treaties and to EU law. A nonsensical position. Yes, if we leave the EU then such a Bill is necessary but, in terms of giving any power to Parliament, it is quite simply a con. Leaving the EU will take away rights from British citizens given to them by the European Communities Act in 1972. That cannot be done by a simple decision of the Government, it must require a decision taken by Parliament.

I strongly hope that the present legal case to give Parliament the right to decide on triggering Article 50 will succeed. If it does, I hope that BCiP members will use the above to try to persuade parliamentarians to reject all pressure on them to respect the referendum result and maintain the British constitutional principle that it is Parliament that is sovereign and that Parliament should decide in accordance with its members’ views as to what is best for our country.

Robin Baker
BCiP Member

Brexit Negotiations - Erika Angelidi

Vendredi, octobre 7th, 2016

In our guest blog posting below Erika Angelidi, the Conservatives Abroad Representative in Greece, continues her reflections on Brexit:

It is certain that in this week’s Conservative Party Conference, many questions were addressed and now the big issue is the process of the negotiations between the UK and the EU. I hope that next year in the Conference, everyone will be satisfied with the continuing negotiations!

I would like to thank from the bottom of my heart, the British Conservatives in Paris, as they give me the opportunity to express my personal views in various matters.

Erika Angelidi
Conservative Abroad Representative Greece,
Athens

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

Great Britain and Europe: The EU Referendum Opportunity

Lundi, juin 20th, 2016

Following her hard-hitting political and historical review “Ship of Fools”, BCiP member Monique Riccardi-Cubitt traces the relationship between Great Britain and Europe when addressing as an opportunity the currently hot topic of the EU Referendum vote on 23rd June, 2016.

GREAT BRITAIN AND EUROPE.
THE BREXIT REFERENDUM : AN OPPORTUNITY FOR REASSESSMENT AND A NEW DIRECTION.

…If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.

The verses of John Donne, the 17th century metaphysical poet, seem particularly relevant at this time of uncertainty in the face of the forthcoming British referendum on the continued membership of Britain to the European community, the so called Brexit. The United Kingdom is indeed a promontory in Europe, a privileged look-out post from which to see further and higher on European issues.

Its membership was by no means an easy process. Historically Britain feared any continental alliance with possible imperial ambitions. Its own Empire was slowly disintegrating, but the bonds of loyalty to the Crown, and trade within the Commonwealth, remained as strong as ever. Britain, the first globalized nation, was opened to the world and did not share France and Germany’s heavy moral burden of the Second World War’s negative inheritance, although it had played a decisive role in the final Allied victory.

Churchill, was awarded in 1955 the International Prix Charlemagne of Aachen for his action toward the unification of Europe after the Grand Congress of Europe he had instigated in 1948 in The Hague, which led to the creation of the Council of Europe in 1949, and the Rome Treaty in 1957 on the Common Market, effectively creating the European Community of the Six : France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, ‘ …to establish the foundations of a ceaselessly closer union between European people.’ He had formulated his vision in a Speech to the academic youth given in 1946 at the University of Zurich ‘There is a remedy which … would in a few years make all Europe … free and … happy. It is to re-create the European family, or as much of it as we can, and to provide it with a structure under which it can dwell in peace, in safety and in freedom. We must build a kind of United States of Europe. The structure of the United States of Europe, if well and truly built, will be such as to make the material strength of a single state less important.. If at first all the States of Europe are not willing or able to join the Union, we must nevertheless proceed to assemble and combine those who will and those who can.’

He was echoing a concept born after the Napoleonic Wars. Napoleon, exiled on St. Helena, had himself formulated the dream, which his megalomaniac thirst for personal glory had prevented him achieving : ‘Europe thus divided into nationalities freely formed and free internally, peace between States would have become easier: the United States of Europe would become a possibility.’ But Pax Napoleonica never shone over the world as had done Pax Romana. Yet in Europe, torn by recurring wars and revolutions, this pacifist and humanist ideal found ardent advocates throughout the 19th century. In 1831 Wojciech Jastrzębowski, the Polish naturalist, pionneer of ergonomics, had exposed his vision of a European international organization in a pamphlet : About the everlasting peace between the nations.

This concept was also Giuseppe Mazzini’s, like Napoleon a Genoese born under French rule, a politician and journalist. He was a fervent advocate of patriotism in his political action for the creation of an Italian state, as much as a fervent believer in a unified Europe. In 1834 he founded in Switzerland the Giovine Europe ( Young Europe), a visionary international movement. Its fondamental precept of national liberty denounced and opposed the dictates of the 1815 Congress of Vienna, by which the dominion of a few great European powers, namely Russia, Britain, Prussia and Austria, oppressed smaller nations. In his hope and action for a freely associated Republican league of European nations, where common interests would be shared and be regulated by a central federal assembly, Mazzini the revolutionary was called the prophet of Europe.

This prophetic vision found a bard in Victor Hugo, the French politician, poet, novelist and artist, who declared in 1849 at the Paris International Peace Congress : ‘A day shall come when all of you nations of the Continent : France, Russia, Italy, England, Germany, will fuse tightly together in a higher entity without losing your own intrisic qualities and your own glorious individuality, and you will form a European brotherhood… A day shall come when we shall see … the United States of America and the United States of Europe face to face, reaching out for each other across the seas…A day shall come when they will not be any battle fields left other than markets opening to trade and minds opening to ideas…In the twentieth century it shall be called Europe, then transfigured it shall be called Mankind.’ Hugo’s vision was one of universal peace : Europe, including Britain, the motherland of European democracy, where like Mazzini he had lived in exile, would be the leading example and guiding light.

Little could he foresee the 1870 Franco-Prussian war, which he lived in besieged Paris, and the ensuing 20th century Franco-German conflicts, the two devasting World Wars, which would set the whole world ablaze, radically altering it. After the defeat of Sedan and the fall of the Second Empire, in 1871 the French National Assembly had called for a United States of Europe, and in 1929, after the horrors of the First World War, Aristide Briand, the French Prime Minister, Nobel Peace Prize winner in 1926, called for a European Federation at the League of Nations, a vision of Europe also shared by Trotsky before the Russian Revolution. In it the torch of universal peace still shone. Churchill, having foreseen early the danger of Hitler’s rise, and of Nazi Germany’s agressive expansionnist strategy seeking to impose its hegemony worldwide, became its main bearer. He declared at The Hague European Congress in 1948 : ‘We must endeavour by patience and faithful service to prepare for the day when there will be an effective world government resting on the main groupings of mankind.’

Europe’s destiny was to show the way, and England was to play a major part in it. In 1948, at a Conservative Meeting at Llandudno, Churchill outlined Britain’s unique position at the hub of ‘ three majestic circles’ the ‘Empire and Commonwealth’, ‘the English speaking world’ and a ‘United Europe’. These three circles were for him ‘co-existent’ and ‘ linked together’ in a truly globalized vision : ‘We are the only country which has a great part in every one of them. We stand, in fact, at the very point of junction, and here in this Island at the centre of the seaways and perhaps of the airways also, we have the opportunity of joining them all together.’ In May 1947 at a meeting in the Albert Hall of the United Europe Movement, which he had founded and chaired, he spoke of ‘… the idea of a United Europe in which our country will play a decisive part…’ Britain and France would be ‘ … founder-partners in this movement’, and ‘… Britain will have to play her full part as a member of the European family.’

His resolve over the matter was such that, after the German invasion of France in May 1940, supported by his Party and Cabinet, he had announced in June 1940 the Declaration of Union between Great Britain and France, ‘ The two governments declare that France and Great Britain shall no longer be two nations, but one Franco-British Union… Every citizen of France will enjoy immediately citizenship of Great Britain; every British subject will become a citizen of France.’ An Anglo-French stamp featuring King George VI and French President Albert Lebrun was conceived to commemorate the union.
george-vi-and-albert-lebrun
The rise of Marshall Pétain and the creation of the collaborationnist Vichy government in occupied France, brought this plan to an abrupt end. It is in this context of a France divided onto itself between Collaborateurs and Résistants, the latter themselves divided into Gaullists and Communists, that the much used, and misused, rebuff of Churchill to De Gaulle on the eve of the 1944 Normandy landings, must be understood : ‘ If Britain must choose between Europe and the open sea, she must always choose the open sea. Every time I have to decide between you and Roosevelt, I will always choose Roosevelt.’

De Gaulle did not share Churchill’s lofty vision of a unified Europe as a premise for universal world peace. He held a French traditonalist view of Germany, and for him the settlement of the centuries-old rivalry and conflict between, as he said : ‘Les Gaulois et les Germains’, (The Gauls and the Teutons ), was the main motivation : ‘Europe, it’s France and Germany’. In this he did not share either his French compatriots Jean Monnet and Robert Schuman’s opinions and active involvement in the realization of European unity. Jean Monnet had declared in 1950 : ‘ The prosperity of our European community is inextricably linked to the development of international exchange. Our Community shall thus contribute to the solving of the world’s free exchange problems.’ He resumed his humanist ideal in stating : ‘We do not form a coalition with the various States, but their people.’ It was at the antipodes of De Gaulle’s beliefs who violently denounced Monnet and Schuman’s initiatives in the face of the rising Cold War towards a common Western European economic, political and military policy supported by the United Sates, with the creation in 1952 of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), a consultative assembly of 78 to neutralize any future return of the Franco-German rivalry, the signing of the Rome Treaty and the paving of the way for Britain’s entry. Schuman, then Prime Minister, had declared in 1949 : ‘Wihout Britain there can be no Europe.’

De Gaulle expounded his views on the Common Market as directed by ‘ a common commission which would, of course, be composed not of people like Jean Monnet, a supranational stateless man, but with qualified civil servants.’ Thus the European Parliament, which started as the consultative Common Assembly of the European Coal and Steel Community with 78 appointed parliamentarians drawn from the member states national parliaments, with no legislative mandates, has now grown over the years into an overblown structure of byzantine complexity, where discordant voices are heard, powerfuls lobbies exercise pressions on commissions, where there is no vision for the future, no guiding master plan and true common policy. The splitting of the Parliament between Brussels and Strasbourg, to comply with France’s unreasonable demands, is not only a gross waste of time, of ressources and energy, but constitutes an obvious impediment for the efficient functionning of the structure, which amounts to a near sabotage of the Founding Fathers of the European Union’s dream and ideals. France has a heavy responsibility in the floundering of the institution, having imposed upon it its ancestral nationalist interests without thought of the future common good, its cumbersome administration, and its fastidious bureaucracy which calls to mind Aesop’s fable of The Dog and its Reflection. La Fontaine took up its moral in his own fable:

We all are deceived in this world.
One can see so many madmen
Running after the shadow of a prey,
That one cannot count them all.

De Gaulle staunchly opposed Britain’s entry in the Common Market, and twice vetoed its membership in 1961 and 1967, on the same grounds which, one must say, had made Churchill doubt about the good of it for Britain, as he told the House of Commons in 1950 ie : Britain’s position, ‘at the centre of the British Empire and Commonwealth’, and, ‘ our fraternal association with the United States of America.’ But he went on ‘ We are prepared to consider and, if convinced, to accept the abrogation of national sovereignty, provided that we are satisfied with the conditions and the safeguards… national sovereignty is not inviolable, and it may be resolutely diminished for the sake of all men in all the lands finding their way home together.’ Britain’s former Prime Minister Edward Heath, who successfully negotiated the United Kingdom’s entry in the European Community on January 1st 1973, who had known and worked with Churchill, wrote in an article in the Guardian in 1996 : ‘… I am sure Churchill would now favour a policy that enabled Britain to be at the heart of the European Union… Churchill would be the first to realise that in the world today, where an isolated Britain would be dwarfed by five great powers, the United States, Russia, China, Japan and the European Union, Britain’s full participation in the European Union is vital, both for Britain and the rest of the world.’

In his seminal speech at the Congress of Europe in 1948, Churchill had called for a European Charter and a Court of Human Rights. France, the European nation which had issued in 1789 the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, directly inspired by the 1776 American Declaration of Independance, ‘ All men are born equal’, with the right to ‘ Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness’, conceived by President Jefferson of English ancestry, was not at the vanguard of this visionary humanist initiative. It had to face its own demons which have haunted the French for centuries. Without going back to the northern Crusade against the southern Cathars, the fight between the Armagnacs and the Burgundians, the Wars of religions, French history is the story of an endlessly violent internal fight beween conflicting values and factions, interspersed with intermittent periods of remission. It is a country forever divided onto itself, and the shadow of a national psychosis has grown heavy over the centuries, in particular since, in more recent times, for all its claims to rationalism in the ‘Age of Enlightenment’, it has never adequately dealt with and exorcized the moral trauma of the 1789 Revolution : its regicide and the horrors of civil war perpetrated during the ensuing Terror. Bonaparte did manage to bring back some stability and prosperity for a while during the Consulate and First Empire, but at the price of endless wars which devastated Europe and did not create permanent political cohesion internally. Throughout the 19th century the pendulum swang between Monarchists and Republicans, between the radicalised socialist revolutionary urban society and the traditionally conservative Catholic large population of rural France. The situation exploded with the 1871 Paris socialist Commune, which ruled over the city for 3 months, its repression during the ‘ Bloody Week’, and the formation of the Third Republic by Thiers.

Usually united in the face of common ennemy, it was not the case in 1940, and after the Second World War, it was the noxious inheritance of the Vichy government and Collaboration that France had to face up to and deal with. It was by no means an easy task, even Alsatian-born Schuman, one of the Founding Fathers of Europe had at one time participated in the Vichy government, to be reinstated in political life by De Gaulle in 1945. It was of course a matter of degree of involvement and circumstances. Thus Maurice Papon, the former Bordeaux police prefect, who, under the Nazi occupation had sent French Jews to death camps, became a Gaullist after the war and held important official posts. He played a key role during the Algerian war, using torture against prisoners and ordering the 1961 Paris massacre of the FNL demonstrators whose bodies were thrown in the Seine in unknown number. De Gaulle, who had been called to the presidency to deal with the Algerian crisis in the hope of retaining this French colony, awarded him the Légion d’Honneur that same year. It was not until 1998 that Papon was caught up by his bloody past, he was then put on trial and condemned for crimes against humanity. Mitterand, who as President abolish the death penalty in France in 1981, had sentenced 45 Algerian members of the FNL to the guillotine in 1956-57 as Minister of Justice during the Algerian war. Mitterand also came under strong suspicions of collaboration in the 1980’s and 90’s for his involvement with the Vichy goverment and his close friendship with René Bousquet, the former Vichy chief of police who sent thousand of French Jews to their death. Among other misdeeds he was responsible, for the infamous 1942 Vel’ d’Hiv’ roundup. He was assassinated in 1993 before his trial for crimes against humanity had started.

Put into this context, it is easy to see that France’s involvement with the European Community has never been from the beginning an easy and straigtforward one, but tinged with ambivalence and overshadowed by the spectres of the past. It is also easy to understand Churchill’s sometime wavering and reservations about joining the European Union. Yet Britain’s membership can be seen, in some respects, as bringing an outer necessary balancing element in the European union between the two major protagonists, France and Germany. This precious independent voice must be preserved, even if it becomes at times dissonant. This is the case with the present referendum which emphasizes many of the deficiencies of a nearly 60 years’s old institution, which has grown in a fairly haphardly manner, assuming an overblown dimension, with redundant features. The whole structure of the European Community needs to be reassessed in the light of the realities of a changed world : globalization, immigration, financial crisis, the threat to the environment of an over-industrialized world, the threat to European and world peace of growing radicalized extremist groups whether terrorists or right-wing populists, the rise of Daesh in the Middle East. Britain’s call for a referendum can act as a gad-fly, a necessary evil, to trigger off a salutary reassessment of Europe’s state and status, and redefine its aims, its role and position, within its own frontiers and in the world at large.

It is time also to take stock of European’s policies on solidarity and humanitarian issues, as well as protection and defense of its frontiers. The richer Northern countries cannot expect the poorer ones such as Greece, Spain and Italy, to have to deal alone with the surge of migrants leaving their own countries spurred on either by wars, as in the Near and Middle East, or economic disasters, as in Africa. They are often the results of Western interventionnism in their inner politics, or over-exploitation of their natural ressourses to profit large international groups.

Since many voices are being heard speaking of ‘European Christian roots and values’, these various people or groups would do well to remember that ‘Caritas’ is a cardinal Christian virtue. It is neither ‘condescending’, as had said Margaret Thatcher when asked about compassion, nor is it gratuitous charity. It encompasses the concepts of fraternal brotherhood and solidarity, it is a basic value, which the Founding Fathers of Europe advocated, for all men, whatever their race, their creed, their religion. They were Christian Democrats and their vision was meant to bring peace, harmony and prosperity to all, in accordance with the recognition and respect of the dignity of man in his spiritual dimension, for all men and all religions, a religious pluralism as recognized by the Belgian Jesuit Jacques Dupuis. All men are equal is a basic Christian tenet. Man as a spritual being enjoys a fondamental right, and this right is unalienable. It depends in no way of the State and must be recognized and acknowledged. And all men are linked in the working for the common good of all.

This equality between men has little to do with the radical socialism which erupted in France in the 19th century. Whereas Karl Marx, who had lived in the Commune in Paris in 1871 and written a book about it, saw in it a source of inspiration as ‘the dictatorship of the proletariat…, the withering away of the state…, the glorious harbinger of a new society’ Mazzini, ‘the prophet of Europe’ condemned its excesses, denounced the Socialist and Communist materialism and ‘class struggle’, advocating instead ‘class collaboration’. He also denounced the evils of rationalism and atheism, rejecting the revolutionary concept of intrinsic ‘Rights’ owed to men as a source of individualism, for those of human ‘Duties’ whereas one earn one’s ‘Rights’ through virtuous living, contributing to society through hard work and self-sacrifice, which allows for man’s spiritual dimension to grow in tolerance, altruism and humanity, and thus brings peace and harmony between men and nations.

Mazzini’s Jansenist inspired ethics are similar to those of the Christian Democrats. They are also close to those of Thatcher’s own Methodist upbringing, with its emphasis on the importance of a virtuous life, education and hard work. However she may well have quoted Francis of Assisi when moving in at 10 Downing Street, but the Raegan type neo-liberalism she introduced to Britain, which Tony Blair, her ‘best follower’ in her own words, also pursued, is responsible for the worldwide grip of over- powerful financial international bodies, which precipitated the 2008 financial crisis. Untold misery has resulted for millions all over the world. Its effects must be taken into account in some of Britain’s present ills, which do not all come from the inadequacies of the European Union. In an equitable society economy and capitalism should be put at the service of all men, for their benefit and well-being. The majority of men should not be slaves to the system for the greed and profit of the few. The respect of others would then go together with the respect of their environment, and nature would be preserved as a common inheritance to be protected and husbanded in the care and awareness of the natural ressources made available, to ensure a sustainable development. This is also a Christian Democrat notion. As is the decentralisation of the State’s administrative powers to percolate down to the various social groupings, allowing for a better respect of individual liberties, including religious ones, and the free teaching of the various religions, with obvious implications for Europe.

The present situation in Europe hardly reflects this earlier ideal, when in France, for example, under the pretext of laïcité, which should be tolerance of all religions, but is repression of all forms of religious symbols for the sake of secularisation and Socialist atheism, there is a constant vociferous debate over the wearing of the veil for Muslim women. Britain who can boast in London the first Muslim mayor of a European capital city, brings a pacifying note to the widespread European clamour of racial and religious discrimination. The United Kingdom in its ancestral institutions, the Common Law set by the Norman William the Conqueror, the Magna Carta, the Parliament, its monarch anointed according to the ancient French coronation ceremony, the traditions and people inherited from its former Empire and Commonwealth, enjoys a historic continuity, right to the survival of earlier Saxon’s features. It is the source of Britain’s inner sense of pride and security enabling the nation to face, and to survive, the vagaries of life and the passing of time. Is it necessary to recall that England’s mottoes are in French, Dieu et mon Droit, and Honni soit qui mal y pense ?

France, with England the oldest European nation, is sadly divorced from a large part of its historical past, and forever shaken by social commotions in an endlessly feverish search for the new, unable to build on foundations made shaky through its own self-destructive tendencies. The last two presidencies are a sad testimony to France’s decline at all levels, nationally and internationally. The governing of the country has just become an empty two-dimensional media show, exercised with neither true authority, nor vision and direction. The country is rapidly sinking into social chaos. Violence in conflicts between various groups and the police is on the rise. Democratic rights and basic liberties are eroded in the name of security by an authoritarian anti-demoncratic socialist government seeking to conceal its inherent incompetence and incoherence in assuming a would-be reassuring posture which is an imposture. The two international events held in Paris, the COP21 for the climate and the recent Palestine summit, are just a pathetic example of France’s incapacity of influencing international affairs through its own contradictions and idiosyncracies.

Once the largest and most important agricultural European country, France is also the Community’s highest consumer of chemical fertilizers polluting land, water and air. It is now selling vast expanses of prime agricultural land to the Chinese, who inundate the European market with its products, often filled with harmful chemicals, at vast production of CO2 during the journey. The Chinese are also colonizing the urban French landscape in buying all the small local cafés and brasseries, the French themselves cannot afford to run any longer for all the intricacies and pettiness of its bureaucracy. It is left to Angela Merkel to denounce the Chinese agressive commercial methods and the unfair dumping of steel on the European market. The French extensive waterways network remains largely unused for freight transport, the lorries’s fuel consumption continue to pollute the air with CO2, for fear of another strike and social unrest. If Sarkozy is once more elected, the mining for shale gas shall destroy an ancient land harmoniously fashioned by the hand of men over thousands of years, and pollute forever the ground water.

France’s position in the Middle East has been totally discredited by Sarkozy’s erratic governement and its perverse and corrupt relationship with Libya and Syria. Holland’s government held a summit on international policy over Palestine, yet it penalizes French people who stand for the economic boycott of Israeli products to stop the spread of Jewish settlements in Arab-owned land in Palestine. France’s guilt over the Jewish persecution during the Second World War still exercises a powerful hold on its home and foreign policy, and does not allow for any objectivity and constancy in its attitude towards the region’s political situation. Despite its former mandates and colonies in Arab-speaking countries, France has never had the equivalent of the British Middle East Centre of Arabic Studies, (MECAS), created after the war by Sir Bertram Thomas in Jerusalem to form an elite Arabist corps at the Foreign Office. The French Intelligence Services do not even have Arab-speaking agents to track and detect potential terrorists on their own territory, and have to employ outside bilingual translators for the job.

Mazzini had advocated the following of thought by action, denouncing intellectualism, and rationalizing for its own sake, a French fault to excess now reflected in the European Union’s management and administration. With the overmediatization of all human actions, it is rarely thought that is now concerned, but rather words. It seems that words are beeing issued without prior rational and reasonable thinking, under emotional impulse and on the spur of the moment, with no sincerity nor convictions. If not meant to deliberately confuse in the perverse disinformation game of political propaganda. With France’s sorry weakened state on home ground, in Europe and abroad, Britain must stand for steadfastness and determination, and give the Community a new direction. It must endeavour to reform the European Union for the better, on the strength of its unique position. It is to be hoped that it shall not relinquish its privileged status with the issue of the referendum, and let the opportunity pass by. Europe would be the poorer for it, and its future, and that of the world, made bleaker.

What more to add but to quote Shakespeare’s verses ? The words of the Plantagenet English king, Edward II, born in Bordeaux, depicted on the Wilton Dyptich kneeling at the Court of the Virgin in the company of the English royal saints Edward the Confessor and Edmund the Martyr, bearing on this mantle his royal badge, a white hart. They come to me every time, when eschewing the speed and modernity of the Eurostar, I choose to see the white cliffs of Dover loom over the watery silver grey horizon, slowly coming nearer as the ferry sails across the Channel, my heart overwhelmed with emotion, my throat tightening and tears rising to my eyes. I learnt them as a teenager, when I studied Shakespeare. Aged 10 years old, I had the prescience while reading Sir Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskerville and Dickens’s David Copperfield, that to live in the modern world I had to be an anglophile. Indeed, I have lived inside Churchill ‘three majestic circles’ the ‘Empire and Commonwealth’, ‘the English speaking world’ and a ‘United Europe’ . My life has been, and still is, the richer, the fuller and the better for it.

…This royal throne of kings, this sceptred isle,
This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
This other Eden, demi-paradise,
This fortress built by Nature for herself
Against infection and the hand of war,
This happy breed of men, this little world,
This precious stone set in the silver sea,
Which serves it in the office of a wall
Or as a moat defensive to a house,
Against the envy of less happier lands,…
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England.

MONIQUE RICCARDI-CUBITT
Paris, June 18th 2016

Brexit as viewed by our Representative in Greece

Mercredi, mai 11th, 2016

In our guest blog posting below by Erika Angelidi, the Conservatives Abroad Representative in Greece, her latest contribution continues her previous discussion of the critical issue of Brexit or not for the United Kingdom (Great Britain: EU or Brexit?):

It is now the final stretch before the referendum, which will take place very soon. Every British citizen by now ought to have formed in his or her opinion as to the country’s best interest. Public opinion surveys are so far inconclusive: neither the “yes” nor the “no” seems to be clearly ahead. Everything now depends upon the communication strategy and capabilities of the Brexit supporters and their opponents.

Being of the opinion that GB should stay within the EU, I offer the following suggestions:
1. Through the television, radio and papers, the advantages of GB remaining in the EU should be explained thoroughly and in the most analytical way possible, so that what doubt remains may be dispelled.
2. Concrete and convincing examples of consequences of a Brexit on the life of the average citizen need to be presented.
3. The dangers underlying a Brexit should be underlined.

It is to be noted that by the Agreement that the Prime Minister concluded shortly ago, GB’s interests within the EU have been fully secured. I personally view this as a most compelling factor to vote against a Brexit.

The following issues need to be of concern for each British voter:
1. Is it a risk worth taking, the isolation of GB? The loss of a primary role on the international political scene?
2. Or that of the devaluation of Sterling?
3. Would GB weather the loss of EU investments on research, education and health?
4. Would GB be able to handle a skyrocketing unemployment rate?

If the answer to all these is “no”, then voting against the Brexit seems the only sensible option.

Erika Angelidi,
Conservatives Abroad Representative Greece,
Athens