Summary of Talk by our Guest Speaker Hervé Rigolot of the Mouvement Conservateur in France.

novembre 19th, 2021

Paul Thomson, BCiP President, has prepared his summary below of the talk given by our guest speaker Hervé Rigolot of the Mouvement conservateur in France, at our « getting together again » dinner event on the 17th November, 2021 after a long, virus-induced absence.

Retrouvailles chez Les Noces de Jeannette à Paris, le 17 novembre 2021

Conférence de l’invité d’honneur M. Hervé RIGOLOT

du Mouvement conservateur (« MC. »)[1]

Après un long hiatus dû aux perturbations Covid British Conservatives in Paris (« BCiP ») a tenu une soirée fort chaleureuse et éclairante sous le charme d’un endroit féerique, à proximité de l’Opéra-Comique dans le 2° arrondissement de Paris, où nous nous sommes (enfin) retrouvés, à savoir le restaurant Les Noces de Jeannette.

Après quelques mots de M. Raf PITTMAN, de la part de Conservatives Abroad, Jeremy STUBBS, le charismatique Président et animateur en chef de BCiP, a introduit M. RIGOLOT (« HR »), en vantant les qualités d’intelligence et de hauteur de vue de notre invité : en effet, nous n’allions pas être déçus.

L’objet de son intervention : la présentation de MC. ; et quelques réflexions « trans-manchiennes » sur les liens, et différences, entre les versions de conservatisme rencontrées respectivement des deux côtés de ce cour d’eau bien connu pour sa tendance à isoler le Continent.

Conservatisme manquant en France.   Contrairement au monde anglo-saxon ou à l’Allemagne, selon HR la France serait dépourvue d’un conservatisme politique (et pensé) bien établi sur l’échiquier politique et dans le monde des idées politique.  HR attribue cet état de fait aux divisions remontant aux séquelles immédiates de la Révolution française, et jamais durablement dépassées depuis : avec d’une part une tendance légitimiste, royaliste et à la recherche d’une restauration ; d’autre part une tendance dite souvent « bonapartiste » – plus autoritaire et axée sur la personne du « grand leader », mélangeant éléments conservateurs et modernistes ; et enfin une mouvance libérale (souvent associée au régime de Louis-Philippe (1830-1848) – avec la devise célèbre de M. GUIZOT : « Enrichissez-vous »).  Ces trois courants répugnent le plus souvent à faire cause commune, chacun se refermant dans un « splendide isolement » malheureusement assez stérile.  Un conservatisme constructif à la manière d’Edmond Burke, de Benjamin Disraeli voire d’Otto von Bismarck peine à prendre forme ou, s’il pointe le nez un moment (cf. le gaullisme originel) à se consolider.

Conservatisme enraciné dans le monde anglo-saxon.   En revanche, dans le monde anglo-saxon il en va autrement :  le conservatisme est une force politique et dans le monde des idées à la fois enracinée et dynamique – capable d’accompagner voire orienter (pour le bien du pays) les mouvements de la société voire de la science, de l’industrie du commerce etc.  HR fait référence à différentes figures – allant de George Orwell (avec sa notion de « common decency ») jusqu’à Roger Scruton, qui souligna l’importance de la culture et de la beauté dans la création et le maintien d’une société humainement accomplie – après avoir rappelé la différence fondamentale entre la « Glorious Revolution » de 1688, qui visa la remise en selle et la sauvegarde de droits et vertus très anciens dans la vie de la polis anglais ; par opposition à la Révolution française qui se faisait fort de repartir d’une feuille blanche (la fameuse « tabulas rasa ») avec pour corollaire la destruction tout simplement de l’existant.

Un pont entre continuité, respect de la personne humaine et réformes au profit des moins favorisés : la doctrine sociale de l’Eglise.   L’encyclique Rerum Novarum de Léon XIII[2] dirigea résolument la sollicitude de l’Eglise vers la question sociale – le drame de la pauvreté, du déracinement, de l’ensauvagement même– de larges couches de la population suite au mouvements d’industrialisation, de développement des villes et d’un prolétariat urbain, tout au long du 19° s.  Cette doctrine, développée amplement par la suite, permit l’émergence d’idées de réforme plongeant leurs racines dans le bon vieux sol chrétien de l’Europe.  Une réconciliation entre défenseurs d’un ordre ancien et pourfendeurs de réformes humainement nécessaire devient possible.

MC. : de la protestation ciblée à l’ambition politique large.   HR nous a raconté les débuts de MC. Remontant à l’époque de la contestation du projet de loi en France autorisant le mariage homosexuel. 

Même si ce combat a été perdu, la mobilisation assez massive et déterminé des opposants au projet a permis de prendre conscience justement de l’existence au sein de la société française d’une partie de celle-ci qui osait proclamer son désaccord avec des changement « sociétaux » jugés nocifs, voire constituant une véritable régression. 

Un groupe appelé Sens commun a été bientôt établi qui visait à organiser ces voix et à leur permettre d’intervenir dans les débats et les joutes politico-idéologiques. 

Toutes sortes d’attaques en bonne et due forme ne pouvaient manquer de surgir pour essayer de tuer dans l’œuf une telle dissidence.  Mais Sens commun a poursuivi son chemin, même après la déconvenue vécue avec le torpillage médiatique/judiciaire de la candidature à la présidence de la République de François Fillon. 

Depuis lors MC. a été créée, dans la prolongation de Sens commun, mais avec une ambition plus générale : donner forme à une pensée conservatrice à la fois enracinée et réformatrice (en vue d’une véritable amélioration des conditions de vie et d’épanouissement des citoyens – et de la société toute entière) – et porter cette pensée dans l’arène politique.

Mélanger religion et politique ?   Parmi les questions posées à la suite de la conférence : ne convient-il pas, notamment en France, d’éviter de rattacher un mouvement politique (car c’est bien ainsi que MC. semble se considérer désormais) à une religion, quelle qu’elle soit ?

HR clarifia qu’il chercha simplement à nous expliquer que des idées ou inspirations portées dans la sphère politique pouvait provenir d’idées chrétiennes.  Il n’a jamais prétendu que MC. puisât ses inspirations exclusivement à des sources chrétiennes.  Il en convint sans hésitation– et c’est une évidence ! – qu’il ne s’agit pas de prôner un régime politique confessionnel voire clérical !

Une pénurie d’offre dans la vie politique française.   Un autre membre de l’assistance interrogea HR sur sa compréhension du phénomène alarmant de l’abstentionnisme.  Pour y répondre notre invité a rappelé – pour le déplorer – les obstacles institutionnels qui se sont établies, renforcées et accumulés ayant pour conséquence d’entraver l’action des responsables politiques de la France.[3] 

Du coup le champs des possibles se rétrécit.  En caricaturant : l’offre politique se réduit à des nuances toutes plus ou moins conformistes d’une doxa que l’on ne saurait remettre en question ; et les électeurs se demandent pourquoi se fatiguer à aller voter – puisque sur les grandes questions c’est Bruxelles, Luxembourg, Francfort ou Strasbourg qui décident – en se moquant d’ailleurs assez franchement des velléités de rébellion des légions de non-initiés, non-éclairés et non-admis (dans le cercle des décideurs). 

Cette évolution bien réelle est préoccupante au plus haut point : ce sont les fondements mêmes de la démocratie libérale et de la souveraineté des états qui sont ainsi de plus en plus compromis.

Le temps politique : un horizon de trente ans ?   Clairement rejetant tout déterminisme dans le monde politique comme celui des idées, HR nous explique que d’une part il ne faut pas s’attendre à réaliser des changements majeurs dans le logiciel politique d’une pays ou d’une société du jour au lendemain – un horizon de trente ans devrait plutôt être envisagé pour bien ajuster une stratégie à faire évoluer les choses dans le temps. 

Ce qui ne vaut nullement licence à traîner, s’endormir ou partir s’installer sur la plage – en attendant paresseusement que cela se passe et se fasse. 

Au contraire : sans une volonté pérenne d’agir et d’aboutir, l’Histoire risque fort de nous laisser sur le bord du chemin.

PT


[1] www.mouvementconservateur.fr

[2] De 1891

[3] Le même phénomène se retrouve au R.U/ et dans d‘autres pays occidentaux.  Le gouvernement de Boris Johnson essaie d’y fixer quelques limites (par ex. en ce qui concerne les tendances interventionnistes des tribunaux – cf. la décision du tribunal de dernière instance en Angleterre rongeant les privilèges de l’exécutif par exemple en matière de prorogation du Parlement).

Operational Psychology and China – a view from France.

octobre 18th, 2021

The Strategic Research Institute of the Military School (IRSEM), which was founded in 2009 in Paris, issued a report on ‘Chinese Influence Operations’ (P. Charon, J-B Jeangène, 2021). Concerning this Chinese influence in France it’s overwhelming and worrying, particularly the threats to security and the economy which should concern the political elite.

I fully agree with Michael D. Matthews, a high-ranked US officer and psychologist, teaching Military Psychology at West Point, and with what he wrote in his book (2020) ‘Head Strong. How Psychology is Revolutionizing war’: ‘(…) the very success of military operations in the twenty-first century depends more than ever before on psychology’.

Also as a former French Naval Officer and Psychologist I discovered that Military Psychology and Political Psychology go hand-in-hand; it is called ‘Operational Psychology’.

Political Psychology is mainly driven by collective representations deeply grounded in an ‘basic personality’ (H. Deutch) as a norm to assess our own personality or other’s as westerners or easterners for instance. This feeling of belonging is also reinforced by familial, cultural, religious, ideological and historical representations of the motherland. The Operational Psychology may be aimed at using these representations to facilitate collective trust or on the contrary collective distress by the means of all necessary psychological knowledge.

However this viewpoint is still a controversial topic between civilian psychologists and military ones in our democracies. According to the American Psychological Association psychological knowledge should be used only for the benefit of human beings. It is self-evident in peacetime.

It is less relevant currently with China which plays out internationally the ‘game of Go’ as we’ll see.

Although traditionally the French culture in the military is reluctant to consider operational psychology as armed force, the IRSEM report seems to take into account this practice of psychology in modern warfare. Previously the psychological context of military operations (psychological strength and weakness of the target population as well as those of military personal involved in it) was seldom assessed as information of first value.

Moreover officially there is no task force dedicated exclusively to war psychology with ‘spin doctors’ (even the ‘Scientific committee’ for the sanitary crisis management has no shrink!) .

However ‘here we go again’ (Afghanistan, Mali and now…….Taïwan).

While I feel comfortable with the U.K’s envisioning of the geo-strategic horizon for 2030- 2050, based on the rise of continental power–blocs and their political influence (BRIC’s), especially in the Indo-Pacific zone or in Africa, I feel uneasy about the E.U. and French attitudes. Indeed, while the Royal Navy is already manoeuvring in the Indo-Pacific zone and Taïwan is ready for a confrontation due to Chinese intimidations, nothing significant seems to be moving in my country apart from some mixed- messaging as described below.

Indeed Matthew Strong wrote in Taiwan News (2021/10/13) “French Defense Minister Florence Parly acknowledged on Tuesday (October 12) that the country had sent a naval signals intelligence vessel into the Taiwan Strait.

Although Florence Parly did not reveal details on the timing of the ship’s voyage, the 3,600-ton Dupuy de Lomé was sighted in Guam in August and left Japan on October 1, according to a Naval News report.

She pointed out that the recent increase in the number of Chinese planes violating the Taiwan Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) has caused an increase in tensions that could have serious consequences. According to Florence Parly, the mission of the French ship should be understood as an expression of support for international law and freedom of navigation.”

Unfortunately, psychologically speaking, the ‘mixed-messaging’ is the worst strategy of communication because it conveys a conflict avoidance attitude and therefore a potential surrender.

It is how Jacob Benjamin understands the situation (« French naval activity in the South China Sea on the rise », July 7, 2021): « While it is undeniable that France was active in the South China Sea in the first half of 2021, it is important not to « exaggerate » these naval operations. First, naval trips do not really stop China or anyone else from expansionism in the South China Sea, although they do show renewed determination and strategic interest in the water body. Second, a country’s navy can be used primarily as a means of strengthening relations with friendly powers in the region like Indonesia. Third, the Chinese state has been relatively silent on the French crossings of 2021, especially in relation to Beijing’s sharp reactions to US FONOPs. France, like most Western countries, has mixed messages about China. Is there a trend of increasing French naval activity in the South China Sea? Yes, but it is important not to overestimate this evolution’.

Meanwhile China is determined in its use of operational psychology as an armed force to deter or eliminate whoever is a hurdle for its hegemony. This is why I present a sample of both (i) a relevant analysis on China as a master of psychological warfare and (ii) the illustration of the French military attempt to stop underestimating psychological processes at work in the modern war.

A small but useful extract from the IRSEM report (‘III- Psychological Warfare, in ‘Chinese Influence Operations, p. 47), has been translated by me into English below. It’s short but summarises ‘Operational Psychology’ as the constant mix between psychology and war, as well as including a description of China’s current influence, viewed through the lens of French specialists (and their thinking mode). The whole document of 646 pages is available on open access on the web.

III- Psychological warfare (IRSEM, 2021, Chinese Influence Operations, pp 47):

 ‘Psychological warfare is used to demoralize enemy forces, to dissuade them, make them doubt, even terrorize them in order to undermine their capacity and their will to fight.

It is used to break the bond of trust between rulers and ruled, disrupt the decision-making process of the enemy country. In other words, it is used to defeat his enemy without even having to fight him.

Strictly speaking, psychological warfare is used more in wartime than in peacetime, unlike public opinion war which is constantly implemented, whatever the level of tension.

A work published by the APL distinguishes four types of psychological warfare:  » coercion « (威慑), which seeks to force the other to adopt a certain behaviour; «  the mystification ”(欺 2 诈), which confuses and misleads; « The division » (离间) in exploiting all the potential loopholes and dissensions within the enemy country and paralyzes the decision-making process, breaks the motivation of the resistance and the confidence of the people; and finally, « defense » (防护) to guarantee the morale of its own troops, when they are the target.

All these actions carried out against the ethnic Uyghur minority in China and abroad by the Chinese Communist regime are an example of psychological war as well as chemical one (but also a physical one), which might mainly correspond to the coercive type presented above.

Random arrests, mass internment, forced labour, digital tracing, frequent checks, forced sinization, “re-education” of children, destruction of places of worship, harassment, sedentarization

… ……the Uyghurs, a Turkish-speaking ethnic group predominantly Muslim, are the subject of violent repression, in the name of the fight against religious extremism. It is estimated that three million Uyghurs are now interned. Women undergo forced sterilization, and other “measures intended to prevent births within the group” which are part of the acts constituting a crime of genocide. The prisoners would also be victims of organ harvesting (as Beijing openly did on its death row inmates until 2015) used to fuel a vast traffic in « halal » organs destined to Gulf countries. There are many given evidences that prove that the Uyghurs are terrorized, feared that their slightest word or gesture could be used against them, do not dare to address and speak to strangers, do not know if they will ever be able to see their missing loved ones again.

Their fear of central power follows them beyond Chinese borders, even when some of them manage to flee to another country. This psychological warfare aims to force the Uyghurs to adopt the behaviour that the central power wants: to be submitted to it.

This example reminds us that the « Three Wars » are not addressed only by external threats: any threat to the Party, whether internal or external, must also be annihilated.

Another example: actions taken by Beijing to paralyze enemy decision-making power during the Sino-Indian confrontation on the Doklam plateau in the summer of 2017 is also an illustration of different types of psychological warfare presented above.

The Party-State has not hesitated to utter threats such as: « The conflict will escalate if India does not withdraw its troops”….“Indian provocations will trigger an open conflict”….“ The countdown has started ”, in particular via its media, the Global Times.

This newspaper also claimed that the Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj lied to the Parliament when she claimed that India enjoyed the support of the international community.

China did not limit itself to mere words in an attempt to intimidate its adversary: videos showing Chinese military exercises in Tibet, not far from the border with India, were broadcast; military equipment and logistics material have been moved near the conflict line, thus suggesting a possible escalation of hostilities; and memories of Chinese victory in the 1962 Sino-Indian conflict were revived to demoralize the fighters. The role that this psychological warfare campaign played in resolving the conflict remains uncertain and difficult to measure.

There is also a third example of psychological warfare instrumentalising the exercises of the Chinese military in the Taiwan case’.

Conclusion:

Nowadays there is no more a clear dividing line between wartime and peacetime. ‘Hybridization’ (Jean-François Gayraud, 2017) is the new concept to define our modern warfare (info war, terrorism, PMCs, …).

It is a cognitive distortion to believe that the nuclear threat deters potential enemies. The new target is the citizen’s mind with thoughts, emotions and behaviours. The goal is to win before any kind of armed confrontation and shape the targeted ‘public opinion’ to accept the defeat or to wrongly think that predatory behaviour is a kind of friendship.

Trust in our values, representatives and institutions is the main asset of democracy but also the central target of psychological war because commitment, competence, caring and predictability are hard to put together at the same time.

It is commonly accepted that when we are dealing with uncertainty and risk (Psychology of Risk, G.M. Breakwell, 2014), personality, motivation and communication are key elements in building trust and make resilience effective.

Conversely, operational psychology sometimes is aimed at putting people in a stressful situation by manipulating (1) the perception of risks (psychological framing) and (2) their feelings and emotions which are linked to them (psychological distress).

The “Asch effect” is a well-known phenomenon in social psychology based on cognitive dissonance: people have less and less confidence in their own perceptions. Prof. Cialdini studied the ‘social proof’ phenomenon which is a confirmation of it at a wider scale.

At the extreme end of the spectrum of reverse psychology, there is the « learned feeling of helplessness » (Prof. Seligman): people give up fighting or surviving.

This is what the Chinese influence operations highlight and it’s time to be aware of this strategy of psychological grip. The time has come to think out of the box.

Serge Giammertini (PhD)

Member

British Conservatives in Paris (BCiP)

NET ZERO BY 2050: A ROAD MAP FOR THE GLOBAL ENERGY SECTOR:

mai 27th, 2021

The Hydrogen Challenge – by Rodney Harper, British Conservatives in Paris

At the UK government’s request, as host for the UN Climate Change COP 26 conference in November 2021, a 224 page study has been prepared by the International Energy Agency (IEA), targeting net zero CO2 emissions & a 1.5 °C global temperature rise by 2050. This article positions the application of “green” hydrogen in the challenging energy transition to “net zero” outlined below.

KEY MILESTONES FROM STUDY  

  • 2021: No new coal plants, oil or gas fields
  • 2025: No new fossil fuel boilers
  • 2030: New buildings zero-carbon ready; 60% electric car sales; large scale-up of solar & wind
  • 2035: 100% electric car sales; 100% net-zero emissions electricity (advanced economies)
  • 2040: 50% existing buildings retrofitted; net-zero electricity emissions globally; phase-out coal & oil plants
  • 2045: 50% of heating by heat pumps
  • 2050: 90% heavy industry low-emissions; over 85% buildings zero-carbon

ENERGY WORLD IN 2050

By 2050, 90% of energy generation will be from renewable sources (mature solar & wind 70%), with around 10% nuclear generation and solar power the single largest source of energy. The remaining 20% includes other energy sources such as Hydrogen & Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) with Carbon Capture & Storage (CCS), new technologies still requiring proven economies of scale.

THE HYDROGEN CHALLENGE

Current production from natural gas is mainly “grey” hydrogen and the cheapest (excluding carbon costs), with China the largest producer & user. Cleaner hydrogen energy is called “blue” (“grey” plus CCS) & the most expensive “green” (via electrolysis & renewables), with water waste only.  There is a need for electrolysis economies of scale and hydrogen gas storage under pressure in heavy duty tanks, but ammonia is a stable, zero carbon, hydrogen carrier in liquid form. Hydrogen storage can act as a “battery” for intermittent & seasonal sources of energy but Hydrogen under pressure also infiltrates metal pipelines/gas distribution networks, the latter allowing only some 5 – 6% hydrogen blending in current infrastructure without upgrading. Gas turbines would require +30% blending for economies of scale.

UK GOVERNMENT POSITION

Currently some 75% of UK public hydrogen investment has been in industrial decarbonisation using “blue” hydrogen (and CCS), with a scaling-up transition to lower cost production of “low carbon hydrogen” (both “blue” & “green”) foreseen.  A pilot “green hydrogen” project is the Humber industrial cluster with a 100 Megawatt electrolyser powered by the 1.4 Gigawatt, Hornsea off-shore wind farm. For the proposed replacement of fossil fuel boilers for home heating from 2025 (IEA target) by e.g. “hydrogen ready” boilers, the government has pressure from environmentalists saying that electric heat pumps will be a better option for most homes. More densely populated Europe will likely have less space for renewable energy installations, suggesting future imports of “green” energy from cheaper sources with plenty of space and sunshine e.g. the Middle East, Africa, Australia, USA…..

Must Labour lose?

mai 20th, 2021

by Matt Goodwin

A version of this essay appeared in the Sunday Times

Labour’s humiliation at the recent by-election in Hartlepool is a powerful reminder of a simple point: there is no guarantee that a political party will live for ever.

Reduced to its lowest number of seats since 1935, plagued by infighting and now losing one cherished heartland after another, the strange death of the Labour Party is unfolding before our eyes.D o not let anybody tell you that Hartlepool does not matter, that it is “only” a by-election in the middle of a pandemic. The last time a Conservative was elected in this area, Cliff Richard topped the charts with Living DollBen-Hur was in the cinema, Winston Churchill was still alive and Tony Blair was six. The Conservatives not only captured the seat after being in power for more than a decade but did so with the sharpest increase in the vote for any incumbent government at a by-election in Britain’s postwar history. Hartlepool is now the 55th seat that the Conservatives have taken directly from Labour in the past two years, 51 of which voted for Brexit.

The questions that now face Labour have been summarised by one senior figure, who told Times Radio’s Tom Newton Dunn: “To be honest, the party is so f***ed it’s not really a question of what leader. It’s more existential. What’s the point of the Labour Party?” Increasingly, the idea of Labour winning the next election looks implausible while theoretically the entire rationale for the party appears to be slipping away.

For Sir Keir Starmer to win the next election he will need about 125 seats, eclipsing the swings that Clement Attlee and Blair achieved in 1945 and 1997. Labour needs to be 12 points clear in the polls, surging through England. Today, it is 10 points behind and losing England.This would leave Britain with the longest period of Conservative dominance since the early 1800s, before the onset of mass democracy, and cement the party’s reputation as the most electorally successful party in the Western world.

Ever since the successful rollout of the Covid-19 vaccination programme Labour has slumped in the polls and Starmer’s personal ratings leave much to be desired. After everything — coronavirus, Cummingsgate, cronyism, wallpaper — if you ask people who they think would be the best prime minister, Starmer trails Boris Johnson by an astonishing 15 points. Only this week, his approval rating slumped to the lowest since he became leader while Johnson still holds a 15-point lead among the working class.Yet leadership is only a small part of the story. Starmer, like Jeremy Corbyn before him, is the latest victim of a much deeper realignment of British politics, which is also unfolding across many Western democracies. Hartlepool is merely the latest episode in a much longer story in the restructuring of politics that is leaving Labour on the wrong side of change, staring into the abyss.

The Labour Party was built for organised labour, for a politics that was based neatly on “left” versus “right”, where people’s class loyalties did much of the heavy lifting. But even then, it struggled to connect with a country that remains instinctively conservative. Only three Labour leaders have won majorities at elections and only one was born in the past 100 years. Take away Tony Blair and Labour has not won a solid majority for more than half a century.This is why, in the 1960s, one unknown academic — Frank Parkin — suggested that the real puzzle in British politics was not why one third of the working-class consistently voted Conservative but why so many people voted for socialism, which was fundamentally at odds with Britain’s conservative roots. The only Labour leader in recent history to buck the trend was the only one who accepted and worked with this basic reality: Blair, who also shed Labour’s socialist clothes. And so its election record over the past 40 years, as Peter Mandelson pointed out last week, reads: lose, lose, lose, lose, Blair, Blair, Blair, lose, lose, lose, lose.

Today, Labour’s disconnection from the wider country is being amplified by a new fault line separating “cosmopolitans” and “traditionalists”, which has little to do with class and much more to do with people’s age, level of education and also their geography: it is values that are now doing the heavy lifting.Cosmopolitans are the young, university-educated, middle-class Londoners and university-towners who think that Brexit is disastrous, support rising diversity, are passionate advocates for Black Lives Matter and other worthy causes and lean toward feeling ashamed, rather than proud, of Britain’s history. Traditionalists are older, working-class, lack degrees, live in small towns and industrial heartlands and want to see a far more robust defence of the nation, its history and culture.

This rift is giving rise to things that we have simply never seen before in British politics. Just look at the last election: 77 per cent of 18 to 24-year-old “zoomers” voted for socially liberal parties while two thirds of the older baby boomers voted for pro-Brexit parties. Johnson had a 30-point lead among people who left school after their GCSEs, while had only graduates been allowed to vote then Corbyn would currently be prime minister.The Conservatives are more popular than Labour among people on low incomes while Labour is more popular among people on high incomes. The right is no longer the party of the rich and the left is no longer the party of the poor.

This shift has thrown Labour into chaos, not only because it has cut across the old left-right split but because the party spent the past 20 years investing in only one side of the culture divide. Cosmopolitans flooded Labour’s parliamentary party and membership.The much larger group of left-leaning traditionalists in the Labour tent, people who lean left on the economy but right on culture, were pushed aside. New Labour walked into the casino of British politics and pushed all of its chips behind middle-class graduates. It paid off in the short-term but set the stage for the revolts of the past decade: populism, Brexit, Johnson, Hartlepool. All of them were driven primarily by workers, non-graduates and hacked-off traditionalists.“Labour have taken people in Hartlepool for granted too long,” said the new Conservative MP Jill Mortimer last week, the first woman ever to be elected as MP for this town. “I heard this time and time again on the doorstep. ”There is no easy way out. As I explained to demoralised Labour MPs after the 2019 election, they are haemorrhaging blue-collar votes in the small towns and industrial heartlands to apathy or a Conservatism that leans left on the economy and right on culture, and liberal graduates and professionals to the Greens and Liberal Democrats.

Many Labour insiders have feared this nightmare scenario ever since the 2019 elections to the European parliament, when Labour was battered by the Liberal Democrats on one side and the Brexit Party on the other. The party, pushed on by Starmer, made the fatal mistake of falling in behind a second referendum and prioritising Remainia over Brexit Country. And by standing as Remainer in Hartlepool they showed they have still not grasped the lesson.

For the past year, Starmer and his advisers thought they could sidestep this deeper shift by downplaying Brexit and talking up the economy, competence and Tory sleaze. But Hartlepool has blown a big hole in the strategy. Johnson, the Old Etonian and Oxford graduate, is the beneficiary of the realignment, tapping into the “C2” skilled workers — factory workers, mechanics, plumbers and the “Greggs Guys” — who desperately want to believe in Britain and not be told on a daily basis they are ignorant racists.

The quietly impressive performance by the Greens this week is a big hint that we may well be heading in the same direction as our European neighbours, such as Germany, where cosmopolitan parties are eclipsing the old centre-left. Fast-forward ten years and I’d not be surprised to see the Greens or Lib Dems as a much bigger force, rallying zoomer graduates, middle-class professionals and city-dwellers in the face of a Labour Party that looks bewildered and lost.This is why some argue that Labour should cut the cord with blue-collar Britain now, rip off the plaster and turn instead to the emerging “Blue Wall”, more than 40 seats that are filled with millennial and zoomer graduates becoming more liberal over time and trending away from the Conservatives.

But while this strategy might be viable in 20 years, it would be a fatal mistake today. There are nowhere near enough of these seats to compensate for Labour’s losses in northern England. The reality is that Labour is stacking votes in places where it does not need them, such as London, while losing votes where it desperately does, such as Hartlepool. Here is one statistic that every Labour activist should keep in their heads: of the 44 most vulnerable Labour seats today, 39 are outside of London and the south. These are what I call the “Red Wall 2.0” seats and there is no route back to power for Labour that does not run through them and England, where Labour has still not won the popular vote since 2001.

The fall of Hartlepool, made possible by Brexit Party voters decamping to Johnson, suggests that at least another two dozen blue-collar seats could also fall to the Conservatives at the next election, such as Yvette Cooper’s Normanton, Pontefract & Castleford, where her majority has been slashed from nearly 15,000 votes in 2017 to barely 1,000 today, or Dan Jarvis’s Barnsley Central, where his majority has crashed from over 15,000 to barely above 3,500.To hold them, Starmer needs the modern-day equivalent of Blair’s “Tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime”, a message that can cut through with traditionalists while not alienating cosmopolitans.

Yet spend five minutes on Twitter, where Labour’s “woke” progressives deride such moves as “racism”, and it becomes clear why Starmer is in a fundamentally different position from Blair. As Labour’s organisation has veered left, the flexibility that it needs to meet the existential challenge has diminished.There are simply no easy answers for a Labour Party that was formed in a world defined overwhelmingly by economics and class, but which now finds itself in a world that is shaped far more by culture and values, leaving many voters like those in Hartlepool asking the same question: what’s the point of the Labour Party?

Best wishes,
Matt Goodwin
Twitter – Website – Speaking
Copyright © *2019* *Matthew Goodwin*, All rights reserved.

“And be a nation again” – an independent Scotland is now inevitable.

mai 9th, 2021

As a Scot who grew up and spent much of his adult life in England and as a former British diplomat who has worked on European Community affairs, I read with great interest the two articles by Richard Pooley and Stoker about the merits or otherwise of a possible Scottish Independence.

By Michael Carberry

https://www.only-connect.co.uk/post/and-be-a-nation-again-an-independent-scotland-is-now-inevitable

Brexit limps on.

avril 24th, 2021

An April 23rd, 2021 « Brexit & Beyond » blog posting by Chris Grey , Emeritus Professor of Organization Studies at Royal Holloway, University of London.

https://chrisgreybrexitblog.blogspot.com/2021/04/limping-on.html?fbclid=IwAR1P9AoEA0wQqIXtlANXMIqXNR3BFdi7KpnjrQxV_kqhtl85ChRiRzmRrfs

HOMAGE TO PRINCE PHILIP, DUKE OF EDINBURGH, PRINCE OF GREECE AND DENMARK – by BCiP member Monique Riccardi-Cubitt

avril 19th, 2021

In the words of the Poet Laureate Simon Armitage’s in his ElegyThe Patriarchs :

The weather in the window this morning is snow,

unseasonal singular flakes,  

a slow winter’s final shiver.

On such an occasion to presume to eulogise one man

is to pipe up for a whole generation.

Husbands to duty

But for now a cold April’s closing moment…

On the 9th of  April  2021, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Prince of Greece and Denmark, Queen Elizabeth II’s consort for 73 years, drew his last breath aged 99 years old.

 Prince Phiiip, Duke of Edinburgh, 1964, The National Portrait Gallery

 A door was closing on Europe and England’s past, as one of the most famous witness and protagonist of the twentieth century’s turbulent and tormented history had gone, a cycle was ending. It was poignantly brought to bear this Saturday 17th of April 2021, at the St George’s Chapel at  Windsor Castle, when the small and frail black-clad figure of the Queen walked out alone of the funeral ceremony, having laid to rest her Beloved husband, with whom she had shared all of her reign, leaving a letter on his coffin signed Lilibeth.

This man was a born leader, strong in mind and body, made to rule, Prince Philip, wrote his teacher and mentor  Kurt Hahn, will make his mark in any profession where he will have to prove himself in a trial of strength,  a Royal Prince of Greece and Denmark who chose for the love of a woman to remain in her shadow and to serve both his Queen and her country, which became his.

He was born in a privileged world still steeped in the 19th century, yet his world was shattered as a babe, and when his family was made exiled and destitute, after a loving infancy he knew solitude and poverty. His life circumstances taught him early self-reliance, and it was reinforced by his Spartan  upbringing under the guidance of the  educational pioneer Kurt Hahn at Schule Schloss Salem in southern Germany, then at Gordonstoun in Scotland, where Hahn as a Jew had to flee from the Nazis.

Prince Philip was a stoic, Mens sana in corpore sano, which he expressed in a speech in 1958 in Ghana : The essence of freedom, is discipline and self-control.  Princess Elizabeth’s accession to the throne in 1952 meant the end of all his personal ambitions as a naval commanding officer in Malta.  He would have to let go of his first love, the sea: It is an extraordinary master or mistress, it has such extraordinary moods, and of the privacy of his married life. From then onwards his life would be public, at the service of the Queen   and of England. By Royal Warrant he would have precedence after the Queen in all occasions, but no constitutional role.

At first he threw himself in a very active social life. His task as Prince Consort was not an easy one, his foreign origins, half German from his mother, his lack of fortune, his strong virile personality used to command, clashed in the hushed, privileged atmosphere of the English Court. His aura was that of a dashing adventurer not of a subservient cautious courtier. His equerry recalled: Philip was constantly being squashed, snubbed, ticked off, rapped over the knuckles… I felt Philip did not have any friends or helpers.  Yet he learnt to channel his creative energies in the defence of the principles inherent to his nature and enforced by his education, with honour and steadfastness, never looking back : There’s never been ‘if only » except perhaps that I regret not having been able to continue a career in the navy. His philosophy of life was thus resumed: The ability we have as humans to make our own moral and ethical decisions.

Beside his constant presence at the Queen’s side in her official engagements, state visits and world tours, spurred on by a high moral sense, he dedicated his life to causes close to his heart. His concern for the welfare of young people led in 1956 to the creation of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, on the educational lines of his own mentor Kurt Hahn: community service, teamwork, responsibility and respect for the individual. He explained it to the BBC: If you can get young people to succeed in any area of activity that sensation of success will spread over into a lot of others. It encapsulated all his own beliefs and life experience in allowing young people the world over to involve themselves physically, mentally and emotionally in a range of outdoor activities designed to promote a sense of self-reliance, developed team work and respect for nature.  Over six millions 15 to 25 years old, some disabled, benefited from it over the years.

He was himself a great sportsman: he sailed, learnt to fly, swam and rowed, rode horses and drove carriages, he was President of the International Equestrian Federation, played polo, cricket and squash. He developed hundred of projects and patronages in relation to the education of youth, sports and the outdoors. He had a relationship to nature as a country born responsible gentleman farmer, fishing, shooting and stalking with a sense of preservation. He expressed it on the BBC: I think it’s marvellous we have such a fantastic variety of life on this planet, all interdependent, I think also that if we humans have the power of life or death – or extinction or survival – we ought to exercise it with some sort of moral sense. Why make something extinct if you don’t have to? And he became the World Wildlife Fund’s first President.

Early on a biographer wrote: He believes he has a creative mission, to present the monarchy as a dynamic, involved and responsive institution that will address itself to some of the problems of contemporary British society. His 60 or 80 speeches a year were thoroughly researched – his library counted over 13,000 volumes – and showed the wide spectrum of his interests, science and industry included, he was the patron of the Industrial Society, now the Work Foundation.  He was a visionary with encyclopaedic knowledge ahead of his time, denouncing in 1982 the greedy and senseless exploitation of naturea hotly-debated issue directly attributable to the development of industry… the build-up of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, or greenhouse effect. He also foresaw the dangers of the white heat of the technological revolution, and the dangers of consumerism with its noxious effects on human spirit and integrity: ..;it is much more important that the human spirit should not be stifled by easy living, emphasizing the moral aspect of life, with the importance of the individual as the guiding principle of our society.

If he could on occasion be cutting and abrupt, certainly not suffering fools gladly, his sharpness was that of an acute observer with a wicked sense of humour, such as the British enjoy. He displayed it in 1957 on their first  Royal visit to Paris in perfect French – he had lived in France, and the Queen had been taught French with her sister Margaret by a Belgian aristocratic governess, Lady de Bellaigue – the Royal Family are great Francophiles. He talked about the French being grenouilles according to the British, but added that he would not say what the French called the British!   He was a very handsome man of considerable charisma endowed with great charm. He loved beautiful elegant women and enjoyed their company, having being surrounded by four loving older sisters as a child, even if deprived of his mother’s presence through her mental illness. He became the centre of the Royal family around which all revolved, a patriarch, my rock, would say the Queen, seeking to bring peace and harmony between all. During her painful divorce with Prince Charles, he tried to help Princess Diana as was later revealed in their exchange of correspondence.

And I owe to the Duke of Edinburgh the great privilege of being one of the very few women who have been allowed in the famously exclusive men only White’s Club in St. James’s in London. Prince Philip was a member, as was my husband, and on the occasion of Prince Charles and Lady Diana’s wedding, the Duke had it opened for the first time in its history to members’ wives, at a reception on the eve of the wedding.  The second time I would see him was years later at an exhibition at the Royal College of Arts in South Kensington, when I could sense his eyes following me around the room…

Prince Philip’s ‘The Queen at Breakfast’ (1965). — Courtesy of the Royal Collection Trust.

The Queen at Breakfast, Windsor Castle, 1965, now in Her Majesty’s private rooms in Sandringham

Highly gifted and multifaceted, Prince Philip’s sensibility and creativity found expression in collecting works of art, developing his own photographs, but also as a designer and an artist.  He received tuition in oil painting from Edward Seago, a self-taught artist, and exhibited some of his works, among which many landscapes, as well as a famous 1965 intimate depiction of The Queen at Breakfast, Windsor Castle,  now in Her Majesty’s private rooms in Sandringham.

Prince Philip had a natural self-deprecatory style, another British trait, to make light of his position and achievements, put his public at ease and make it laugh, which is the hallmark of the British Royal Family’s simplicity and its utmost courtesy. He said with great sincerity and humility to the BBC what could sum up the exceptional life of this exceptional man: I’ve just done what I think was my best, I can’t suddenly change my whole way of doing things, I can’t change my interests or the way I react to things. That’s just my style.

He was one of the last Knights of Honour and Chivalric Duty, bearers of a European tradition that England seems to have preserved better than other countries. Much of it is of French origin and shows the strong historical and cultural links between the two countries. Such as the Order of the Garter’s motto, Honni soit qui mal y pense, or the sacred ritual of the Royal Coronation ceremony harking back to Charlemagne’s own coronation as Holy Roman Emperor and perpetuated by the French Kings in Reims Cathedral. And even the national anthem, God save the King, sung since 1745, comes from a hymn composed by Lully on words by the Duchess of Brinon to celebrate Louis XV’s return to health. It was sung by the Demoiselles de Saint-Cyr on the King’s visit :

Grand Dieu sauvez le Roy!

Grand Dieu vengez le Roy!

Vive le Roy

Qu’à jamais glorieux,

Louis victorieux

Voyez ses ennemis

Toujours soumis!

This motet by Jean-Baptiste Lully, was translated in latin Domine salvum fac Regem, and became the French royal hymn until 1792. It survives exalted in England to celebrate the British Royal family in its continuity Prince Philip has been one of its most eminent members, embodying in his long life the enduring virtues of altruism and dedicated service to a nation democratically governed by Consent.

Monique Riccardi-Cubitt

Paris, April 18th 2021

https://blogs.mediapart.fr/monique-riccardi-cubitt/blog/180421/hommage-prince-philip-duke-edinburgh-prince-greece-and-denmark

Global Britons: Understanding the unique British communities in Brussels and Washington DC

avril 15th, 2021

This Foreign Policy Centre report focuses on two unusual but strategically important British communities overseas. It builds on the findings of 252 survey responses, interviews, a focus group and research to give a detailed summary of who the British communities in Brussels and Washington DC are, what their needs are and how the UK Government can better support them and other Britons around the world.

Keir Starmer – One Year In

avril 9th, 2021

By Matthew J.Goodwin <m.j.goodwin@kent.ac.uk>

Fri, 9 Apr at 09:00, 2021

[Some of this draws on recent talks at the Council on Foreign Relations, UK In a Changing Europe, Withers LLP and Atticus Communications.]

There are some leaders of the opposition who you always knew, in your heart of hearts, would never become Prime Minister. Michael Foot, William Hague and Iain Duncan Smith are the more obvious examples. Keir Starmer might soon be another.
 
Starmer, in his defence, inherited a sinking ship. He was handed the lowest number of Labour seats since 1935, a bitterly divided party and a Labour brand that even today remains thoroughly discredited among a large swathe of the country. Many of these problems had been building for decades.
 
Labour’s fracture with the working class, its loss of credibility on crunch issues like the economy and growing dependency on social liberals who tend to congregate in the big cities and university towns where Labour no longer needs votes have all been a long time coming. This is why any recovery — if such a recovery is even possible — will be generational rather than cyclical. 
 
There is no doubt that Keir Starmer has made a good start. Over the past year, Labour has picked low-hanging fruit, winning back voters repelled by Corbyn. When Starmer took over his party was languishing on 28% and some 22-points behind the Conservatives; today, it is averaging 35% and trails by 8. But more recently this recovery has stalled, as can be seen in the chart below. Amid the successful rollout of the vaccines it is now the Conservatives who are pulling ahead. Of the last 50 polls, Boris Johnson and his party have led in 49.

[Refer Image 1 below]

 How much of Labour’s improvement is down to Starmer also remains unclear. While his supporters point to his strong leadership ratings relative to Corbyn, the fact remains that even today Starmer’s “net satisfaction” score still lags well behind Boris Johnson — while 33% of voters are satisfied with him, 42% are not. And when people are asked who would make the “best Prime Minister”, Boris Johnson still leads comfortably on 37%. His nearest rival is not Starmer but ‘Not Sure’. The Labour leader is trailing in third, ten points adrift from the man who has been in power for a year and is criticised by much of the media on a daily basis.
 
There are, of course, many who argue that Covid-19 dealt Starmer an unlucky hand. But critics might argue that it is precisely during moments of crisis, when the glare of attention is strongest, that leaders are made. It won’t be lost on Starmer’s team that it is precisely at the same time as the entire country has been sat at home, watching the news and paying attention to politics, that Starmer’s ratings have been falling. To put it simply, the more people have seen, the less impressed they have been.
 
Starmerites might respond that his ratings are better than Mr Corbyn’s. This is true but we should remember that Michael Howard’s ratings were better than Iain Duncan Smith’s. Yet In the end, neither saw power. And it appears that the British people can sense that, too. More than half of them told YouGov last week that they simply do not see Keir Starmer as a prime minister in waiting. This is a problem.
 
[Refer Image 2 below]
 

And even if you put the question of leadership to one side, there remains little evidence that Labour is dealing with the deep-rooted structural problems that will make it very impossible for the party to win the next election. To do so would require a swing close to what Tony Blair and New Labour achieved in 1997 – with a leader who is nowhere near as popular as Blair was and a party that is nowhere near as popular as it needs to be outside of London and the university towns. Here is one fact to keep in mind; Labour has not won the popular vote in England since 2001 yet it is in England where the party needs to make up most ground. Today, Labour leads by 16-points in London -which it already controls- but trails the Conservatives by 26-points across the rest of southern England. In other words, Labour is stacking votes where it does not need them while failing to win votes were it desperately needs them. The broader realignment of British politics is reflected in the fact that while Labour’s Sadiq Khan’s will enjoy an easy victory at the London mayoral election next month, Labour will simultaneously struggle to hold its historic blue-collar fiefdom of Hartlepool.
 
This reflects how Britain’s new political geography, the first-past-the-post system and earlier Labour leaders have made life harder than it ought to be for Starmer. Over the past two decades, the Left essentially walked into the casino of British politics and put all of its chips behind social liberals whose support is concentrated in liberal enclaves rather than spread across the country. The cost of this strategy was not only reflected in the collapse of the Red Wall but is also visible in the polls today. Ask the working class who should lead Britain and they give Boris Johnson a 19-point lead. Starmer might win a few more seats around London, but he should remember that there are many more Red Wall seats that could yet fall. The assault on the Red Wall might just be starting.

[Refer Image 3 below]

 This reflects a broader point. At the heart of recent political commentary has rested one big assumption – that once Brexit was over and done with life would return to the traditional “Left versus Right” fault line that governed politics during the twentieth century. We would get back to debating the economic issues that play to Labour’s strengths and that would clear the path for the party to repair its relationship with workers and return to power.

But I was never convinced. For a start, this narrative completely ignores the extent to which the Conservatives have now also leaned left on the economy, variously promising to “level-up” the most regionally imbalanced nation in the industrialised world while moving institutions, civil servants and banks into northern England. This stuff matters -it will give the Conservatives a strong narrative at the next election.

The assumption that we are returning to the old world also underplays the extent to which cultural debates remain prominent in national life — as reflected in our intensifying debates over ‘cancel culture’, freedom of speech, the Royal Family and racism in British society. Boris Johnson is still holding a much more ‘aligned’ electorate than Starmer -while close to 70 per cent of Britain’s Leavers are with the Conservatives only 50 per cent of Remainers are with Labour. Put another way, Labour has still not fixed one of the big problems that ultimately cost it the election in 2019 -its far more fragmented electorate.

These problems are also being reinforced by the cultural isolation of many Labour MPs and activists, who as much research has shown hold a very different outlook on these issues than the average person. They are far more convinced that racism is endemic in British society, are far more focused on tackling historic injustices and are, put simply, far more socially liberal. There is nothing wrong with these views. It is just that they are often very far apart from the worldview of the average person. Every day that progressive activists are in the media screaming about racist Britain is, ultimately, a good day for Boris Johnson. As Ronald Reagan reminded Jimmy Carter, nobody wants to be told over and over again what is wrong with their country and people.
 
Put all of this together and you begin to see why it will be extremely difficult if not impossible for Starmer to chart a path to Number 10 Downing Street. While he might have steadied the ship, many (big) holes remain clearly visible and water is still gushing out – Labour’s broken bond with the working-class, its lack of economic competency in the eyes of voters, the cultural isolation of its MPs from the average voter and radical left activists who are cheered on in seats that Labour already holds but alienate people in seats that Labour actually needs to win. In year two, these are the areas where Starmer will need to act. Unless he does, he might find himself going down in the history books as the Labour Party’s Michael Howard -the man who brought stability but ultimately failed to win power.

Best wishes
Matt Goodwin

Twitter – Website – SpeakingCopyright © *2019* *Matthew Goodwin*, All rights reserved.

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mars 23rd, 2021

Conservative Policy Forum (CPF) – The Union & Constitution : BCiP response

https://www.dropbox.com/s/b254g5syv4v7gpx/CPF%2021-1%20Response%20-%20Response%20of%20BCiP%2021.3.21%20%281%29.pdf?dl=0