Archive for the ‘Chairman »s blog’ Category

BCiP Speaker Lunch – Conservatism by Alexander Boot

mardi, janvier 3rd, 2023

Meeting of 10th December, 2022

Annotated Note on Exchanges with Guest Speaker Alexander Boot (AB)

Introduction by Evelyne Joslain (EJ)

EJ had arranged for AB to speak to BCiP at this meeting and introduced AB.

AB had been a lecturer at institutions in EN and US – as well as at a university in Moscow in the days of the SU.

AB has written a book on neo-conservatism.

EJ marvelled that she had at last found some one with views more conservative than her own!

AB Address

Why is Conservatism not Doing So Well?

AB posits that conservatism is engaged in a rear-guard action never able to effectively change the direction of travel.[1]

Definition of conservatism

The classic distinction between uppercase “C” (relating to the Conservative Party) and lowercase “C” (relating to conservative political, philosophical etc principles) – conservatism was recalled.

AB is lowercase – thus belonging to the “real conservatives” as he put it.

But one must ask:  what does one want to conserve?

Politics before JC

AB argued that pre-JC eg in Ancient Greece politics was [for engaged citizens] all-encompassing, standing well ahead of family and private affairs in importance.  Indeed family life could be reduced to that of a “breeding farm for the polis” – in his words.[2]

Politics after JC

Christianity “changed everything” – giving rise to new values and organisational principles in society.[3]

Thus arose a new “Western” model of society in which much more emphasis was placed on family, personal salvation, the private sphere more generally.

Political structures began to assume characteristics reminiscent of the family.[4]

According to AB a conservative would consider his personal beliefs to take priority over his political ones.[5]

Why Did Politics Become Dominant Again?

With the development of “modern man” and the disruption caused by the French Revolution society shifted again:  the “organic” Christian ordering of society was replaced by the “modern state” – a sort of techno-structure far removed from concern for individual virtue, salvation and family – and bent on an ”efficient” ordering of society.

Cf the Evolution of the State in England

Because English political history represents such an extraordinarily lengthy continuum – extending back well beyond the arrival of the Normans – it is not really possible to pinpoint the time of coming into existence of an “English state”.[6]

Cf the Tendency of the Modern State to Become ever more “Absolute”

The modern state tends towards centralisation and to limit localism.

An interesting comparison is between Louis XIV and a French president or British PM today:  the latter in many respects has more power (most of the time ie excluding extraordinary situations where no stable majority exists in parliament) and fewer constraints than the former.

Cf Development and Increasing Power of Supranational and/or Judicial or Quasi- or Pseudo-judicial[7] Bodies

The UE, the ECHR, the International Criminal Court etc extend the trend towards more centralisation of power at an ever-increasing distance from the citizen.  This, among other things, has contributed to distrust among citizens of political structures including those of their own individual countries.

Problems of Centralisation

In addition to alienation of citizens comes the putting off of potential participants in the political process – given that the same has become less effective in dealing with real problems because of being constrained by so many supranational norms, media campaigns, pressures groups etc.

Further, the Christian foundations of Western societies have been ground down and gradually expelled.

Today a triumph of ideology has supplanted strong personally held convictions, according to AB.

The best conservatives can do is to retard the process.

Questions:  What About Political Cycles, Pushback etc?

Several questions turned around the idea that AB was too pessimistic in abandoning all hope of a meaningful comeback of conservative principles and practice.

As to the marginalisation of Christianity it was pointed out that there have been quite a number of spectacular cycles which have seen Christianity fall into apparent terminal decline (eg in the 5th century, after the French Revolution, after Vatican II) only to make astonishing comebacks (cf Gregory the Great – pope in the late 6th Century; the development of monasticism in the high Middle Ages; the extraordinary dynamism of Catholicism in France (and elsewhere) in the 19th Century after the travails of the Revolution and under Napoleon and subsequently; the rejuvenation under Pope John Paul II). 

Similar “returns to good fortune” can be found elsewhere eg the revival of Jewish spirituality in the latter 20th Century following a period in the 19th and 20th century when secularism in the Jewish community posed a challenge to the Jewish faith and even identity; the British monarchy has also known spectacular ups and downs over the last two centuries eg George IV was hugely unpopular -yet the monarchy flourished in the Victorian Age.

On the level of voting behaviour one can also see voter rejection of extreme and noxious political programmes (eg “defund the police” – now apparently abandoned by the Democratic Party the latter having been “mugged by reality” since the heyday of “BLM”).

[1] Cf questions section below.

[2] PT :  social structures in Sparta in particular corresponded to this model.

[3] PT :  change in fact was gradual eg it took literally several centuries for the Church to persuade the Frankish nobility to abandon polygamy – even after their nominal conversion.

[4] The reference seems to be to family-based dynasties and to the development of the nation as some sort of extension of the family (as argued by Hazony) (cf mediaeval notions of bonds of loyalty, service, protection knitting together different social/hierarchical groups – sometimes assuming quite an elaborate form as in the Holy Roman Empire).  The Hobbesian or post French Revolution model of the Leviathan or Jacobine nation state citoyen – a counter-model discussed below – came later.

[5] This was not challenged during the Q&A session at the end of the meeting, but if one thinks of figures such as Winston Churchill, Charles de Gaulle, Otto von Bismarck, Lord Salisbury (late Victorian PM) etc one might consider this opposition to be rather abstact.

[6] AB seemed to be of the view that the English polity has preserved at least some of the traits and the modus operandi of an organic political organisation – something contributed to even today by the Common Law system of precedent, organic evolution driven by “realities on the ground” in society, trade etc. as well as by ancient overarching principles (cf Candian Supreme Court decision on the Reference on Quebec sovereignty recalling that fundamental principles in the Common Law reach back to basic beliefs about the ordering of English society developed many centuries previously and carried over through the Common Law to other Common Law countries).

[7] Inasmuch as some such bodies are or become highly politicised.

The Party

lundi, octobre 24th, 2022

Had in 2015 some imaginative TV drama writer pitched to a network producer the idea of a new political drama called ‘The Party,’ with plot lines similar to those which real British politics has been following these last few years, they’d have been shown the door for it being too ridiculous.

Or, had the producer had the courage to give it a go, after the first few seasons of gripping drama along the Brexit lines, with viewing figures through the roof, this current season 7 would see viewing figures falling off a cliff. The public would be quite simply saying that the show had descended into an unbelievable farce.

The newly elected PM, Beth Druss’s tenure in the top role would have barely lasted two Sunday omnibus episodes. Now her predecessor Harris Jackson, the loveable rogue fired in disgrace at the end of the season 6 is plotting a surprise comeback:  promising yet again to ‘get the job done!’

Only this time he needs to face down his old partner and now arch enemy, the sleek Dishi  Punak, who is pitching his case as the only one competent enough to save the country from economic disaster, despite having been categorically rejected in the election one month earlier.

Like the falling imaginary viewing figures, it seems that the latest real life opinion polls have helped push the current Conservative Party into an absolute panicked frenzy; with an ever-aghast public looking on in amazement, bewilderment, and down-right disgust.

And as the real-life farce continues, it is starting to seem ever so plausible that by the end of this week the Conservative Party members will have had a new leader thrust upon them. This  the man that they categorically rejected less than two months prior.

Leading up to this latest sensation, it was also feasible that the members would have had a choice being either former PM Boris Johnson and former Chancellor, and defeated leadership candidate from the last election, Rishi Sunak.

Neither Boris Johnson nor Rishi Sunak should replace Liz Truss as PM, plain and simple.

Firstly, Boris Johnson. The public at large no longer appreciate him. They see him as a two-faced liar. He’s misled parliament, received police fines for breaking his own lockdown rules and after a succession of further missteps and bad falls, was rightly booted out on his ears (although he technically resigned.)

How he could believe the public would so quickly forgive him for those errors is frankly beyond comprehension. It borders on delusion. He has no moral authority to govern. The Conservative Party is in the business of winning elections, and with Boris back in charge they simply would not.

Seemingly oblivious to this, if we are to believe what we read  he nevertheless was able to gather the 100 nominations from MPs required to stand in the election. However, as the cold light of day dawned upon him he realised that keeping the fragile Conservative Party coalition together was impossible. Resignations and floor crossings were already being threatened should he return. So in these crazy political times that he would have found  himself without a majority to govern with, even potentially not enough MPs wanting to be in government with him.

So we turn now to Rishi Sunak. For many, the man responsible for Boris Johnson’s downfall. How arrogant can one man be that he can believe that only he can be the one to unite the Conservative Party, unite the country and solve its problems when, only one month earlier, he lost against Liz Truss in the last leadership election? It’s incomprehensible.

Rishi lost for two reasons. Firstly, Liz Truss offered solutions to the current economic malaise that Rishi did not. Truss’ error was in going too far and much too fast. Rishi’s policies lack appeal. Plainly, the membership do not want him. He is a numbers man. And members fail to see a difference between him and Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer.

After 13 years of Conservative rule, it would seem that we are on the cusp of austerity 2.0 in totally different economic circumstances, and there is no broad appeal for this across the country. So, plainly, if Rishi’s policies lack appeal with the Conservative Party members, they certainly would not wash with the broader public.

Secondly, seen as instrumental in Boris Johnson’s downfall, many Party members just won’t vote for him. ‘He who wields the knife can never wear the crown.’ Whilst a cliché, this acts as a guide to our instinct, relating to propriety and loyalty. Rishi is therefore forever tainted and should never become number one as a result.

Now having stood and lost too, he will forever lack legitimacy.

Regardless of this, it seems that Conservative MPs are now prepared to install their man despite the wishes of their membership; an act that looks bluntly like a coup. It shows total disregard and borderline contempt for the decision of the grass root members; those who pay their fees, canvass, deliver leaflets and give up their spare time helping get those MPs elected. It is, for many of them, the most anti-democratic action possible.

In what may seem a false equivalency, some members are drawing comparisons between this act and the parliamentarian shenanigans post the Brexit referendum. Others wonder how far the Party is prepared to go to ignore a democratic choice. This seems like an act of total self destruction.

What is a Conservative Party meant for if it can’t stand for the democratic principle, if it can’t believe in small state and low taxes, and if it can’t trust in its citizens?

As this blog is penned, there is still an outside chance that Penny Mordant can get to 100 nominations and force an election, but as the clock ticks and the seconds pass the odds are getting longer.

So as the probable anointment of Rishi Sunak approaches, with it comes the possibility of a Conservative Party wipe-out in the next election.

They don’t seem to have grasped that the public want more than balancing the books. They clearly haven’t been listening since 2016 and Brexit.

And whilst most conservatives believe in the natural  order of things, that come the next election in 2024 the Conservatives would have been in power for 14 years and it would be time for a change –  the British public deserve so much better than the current Labour Party offer.

This the Party whose Leader offered a second Brexit referendum after promising a renegotiation of the Withdrawal Agreement and promising to campaign against its own accord.

This the Party that would have had Britain join the European Medicine Agencies vaccination program, thus prolonging covid lockdowns.

This the Party that wanted to lockdown the UK for longer and more often than Boris Johnson’s governments, thus increasing public anguish and deepening public debt as a result.

This the Party that’s not able to distinguish between a man having a penis and a woman having a vagina.

This the Party whose leaders deemed it appropriate to kneel for Black Lives Matter, a political movement whose manifesto included defunding the police and ending the nuclear family.

This the Party that claims national pride yet has to print out the lyrics to the national anthem for it to be sung at their Party conference. Yet, this is the Party currently streets ahead of the Conservative Party in the opinion polls.

The Conservative Party should be ashamed of themselves. MPs would do well to consider all of this and do the wise thing – back someone else for leader than Rishi Sunak.

However, these are crazy times. I am not holding my breath.

Andrew Crawford


British Conservatives in Paris (BCiP)

Elections Act 2022

vendredi, avril 29th, 2022

The Elections Bill has just received Royal Assent and so it has become the Elections Act 2022. Among other things it removes the 15-year rule for overseas voters, so we should soon all be able to register to vote in UK national elections.

It has been a very long haul, but now we have got there!

Votes for Life receives Royal Assent | Conservatives Abroad

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

vendredi, 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.



[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.

lundi, 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’.


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)


British Conservatives in Paris (BCiP)

What a Biden Presidency could mean for the Special Relationship

mercredi, novembre 4th, 2020

If the opinion polls are to be believed, November 3rd should bring about a landslide victory for Vice-President Joe Biden, sweeping him to power and removing President Trump after just one term in the White House.

What could this mean for the ‘Special Relationship?’

If the mainstream media are to be believed, removing Trump from the oval office will strip Prime Minister Johnson of a natural ally across the pond; all but destroying a potential free trade agreement between the US and the UK once the Withdrawal Agreement ends later this year.

President Trump has been outspoken in his support for the UK and ‘Brexit,’ whereas Biden and the Democrats have a very pro-EU agenda. Indeed, Joe Biden as a catholic is very proud of his Irish ancestry. 

Boris Johnson’s recent move to amend the Withdrawal Agreement did not go down well with Biden and the Democrats. Biden himself cited the Good Friday agreement in his tweet on the subject and Nancy Pelosi stated that there was ‘no chance of the House passing a trade deal if the Good Friday Agreement was undermined!’

It is therefore feasible that a Biden administration would be openly hostile to Britain regarding Brexit and less willing to help Britain flourish once it leaves the EU. Indeed, a new trade negotiator would be appointed, and this process could delay UK/US talks by months.

The UK Ambassador to the US, Sir Christopher Meyer, stated that Prime Minister Johnson’s actions regarding the Withdrawal Agreement were, ‘profoundly clumsy and stupid. It immediately ignited the Irish American lobby in Washington, which is second in power to the pro-Israeli lobby.’ Furthermore, ‘…The Democrats think Boris (Johnson) is a pea from the same pod as Trump!’

As such, in the eyes of many Democrats, the British version of Trump is as poisonous as Trump himself.

It would be unfair to say that Trump and Johnson have always seen eye to eye. There have areas of foreign policy disagreement between the two administrations concerning the Iran Nuclear Deal, the UK reluctance to sideline Huawei in the creation of Britain’s 5G network, as well as disagreements concerning the Paris climate change agreement.

Furthermore, many Democrats believe Britain lacks any global clout when it comes to tackling challenges such as China and Russia.

All of this negative rhetoric would make it seem that a Biden Presidency is not what the British government would prefer. 

However, Biden is not anti-Britain as many would have you believe. He backed Britain over the Falkland Islands, when President Reagan did not. His heritage is not solely Irish either. His father’s family come from Sussex.

Additionally, what has not been considered so much by mainstream analysis is firstly Britain’s support and respect for NATO. Whilst President Trump had to create waves amongst fellow NATO members who he felt were not pulling their weight when it came to respecting their NATO commitments, the US has always had a natural and powerful military ally in the United Kingdom. 

Finally, the UK is the single largest investor in the United States, with British companies having invested $560 billion in the US, accounting for 15% of all foreign direct investment, and the US is the largest investor into the UK.

With all this taken into account, it is likely that US/UK relationships will remain pretty much unchanged as a consequence of a Biden election win, resembling perhaps previous UK/US relationships when there was a Democrat administration.

However, with 24 hours to go, there is still all to play for and it is not over for President Trump just yet. Could we be waking up on November 4th to another shock? Well, 2020 has been a peculiar year, so don’t bet against it just yet.

Andrew Crawford. 2nd November 2020.

Source material:




The Black Lives Matter Movement & Racism

vendredi, juin 12th, 2020

The death of black male George Floyd on May 25th at the hands of a white male police officer, Derek Chauvin, in the United States has led to worldwide protests about police brutality and apparent systemic racism against Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic groups (BAME) in Western civilization.

This is because, of course, as the Left would tell you, in the US they have ‘White Supremist’ Donald Trump as their president and in Britain the fault lies with ‘Mr Brexit’ and ‘Chief Gammon’ himself, Boris Johnson and his army of little Englanders – the Conservatives who are in power.

All of this despite the fact that Mr Chauvin has been arrested and charged with second and third-degree murder.

Consequently however, it seems that all white people are guilty of unconscious bias against the BAME community; a result of their ingrained ‘white privilege.’

This simplistic narrative has, of course, been dreamt up by an ever delusional Left that still hasn’t learned how to console itself over Brexit, and Donald Trump’s and Boris Johnson’s election victories. It further demonstrates an ever-increasing chasm between their neo-Marxist ideology and the people they purport to represent. In fact the whole #BlackLivesMatter movement is making idiots out of many people.

The Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer, and his deputy took to their knee in solidarity with the #BlackLivesMatter movement, tweeting “We kneel with those opposing anti-Black racism.” Why kneel? We used to stand up to injustice and cruelty and stand alongside people in our battles.

We’ve also seen white people being chained up like slaves whilst wearing “So sorry” T-shirts and being marched through the streets by black people on some sort of slave parade. Additionally, graffiti was sprayed on to Winston Churchill’s statue in London, claiming ‘Churchill was a racist’; the London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, even tweeted, ‘The sad truth is that much of our wealth was derived from the slave trade…’

All of this completely ignoring the history of the slave trade, and the fact that it was in the Christian West that slavery was first outlawed.

It is fair to say, though, that racism does exist in western civilization. However, it simply is not systemic and it is not always directed from the white majority towards the non-white minority. It is a far more complex issue.

Sadly, we still have antisemitism, and there has been an increase in Sinophobia as a result of Covid-19. There is also very clear anti-white racism.

Yes, in the ever gracious virtue signaling of the Left, they can’t see the irony of their own creed. For it is the Left that promotes the terms ‘white supremacy’ and ‘white privilege’, fundamentally highlighting that it is being white that is the problem.

This is racism, plain and simple.

Furthermore, last year the term ‘gammon’ was used to describe white, middle-aged men. So now not only are the Left racist, they are ageist as well.

If this is inclusion, please allow me to be excused.

On occasion it’s important to try to understand this lunacy; to see if it stands up to scrutiny and logic.

What is ‘white privilege’ one may ask? Is it a privilege to be born in white skin as opposed to non-white? Does being white mean that one can access the labour market more easily? Given the anti-discrimination laws in the UK, these arguments defy logic.

One further argument goes that being white means that one hasn’t had to cope with regular racial harassment or had to overcome additional challenges in society. Therefore, as a white person, one can’t sympathize with these kinds of difficulties a non-white person has had to grapple with and overcome.

However, saying that a white person can’t empathise with the issues of a non-white person is like saying they can’t be human. It’s no different than saying Sadiq Khan couldn’t empathise with Steve Jobs when he was dying of cancer. Or a Prime Minister couldn’t empathise with a school teacher. Or a Human Rights lawyer couldn’t empathise with a drugs dealer.

Coupled with this is the negative effect the rhetoric could have on non-white people, discouraging them from believing that they can achieve great things if they set their mind to it and work hard. Why would they want to try, if they are taught from a young age that the cards are systemically stacked against them? Despite the fact that this ignores the numerous occasions when black people, or people of any race for that matter, have come from a poor background in the western world and made a success of their lives.

No. The ideas of ‘while privilege’ and ‘white supremacy’ are a leftwing mantra slightly adapted from terminology employed by Karl Marx who basically portrayed bourgeois bosses as slave keepers over workers. The new terminology has been deliberately constructed to create the same divisions in society with a supposedly utopian vision of the future as its goal.

Society is not always fair. We are taught this from a young age and all religions teach it in a similar way. But society is not fundamentally cruel even though modern mantras portray it as such. The slogans of ‘white supremacy’ and ‘white privilege’ spread envy and hate. History taught us where this ends at least twice in the last century with the Nazi concentration camps and the Soviet gulags.

If we stopped this identity politics and had real deep and meaningful conversations about the problems our society face we would go a long way towards finding greater harmony in an often difficult world.

The statue of former British prime minister Winston Churchill is seen defaced, with the words (Churchill) « was a racist » written on it’s base in Parliament Square, central London after a demonstration outside the US Embassy, on June 7, 2020, organised to show solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died after a police officer knelt on his neck in Minneapolis. – Taking a knee, banging drums and ignoring social distancing measures, outraged protesters from Sydney to London on Saturday kicked off a weekend of global rallies against racism and police brutality. (Photo by ISABEL INFANTES / AFP)

Andrew Crawford

The Stationers’ Company – more on the role of tradition and ceremony, plus the ‘wicked bible’ and copyright.

jeudi, juin 11th, 2020

The Cakes and Ale ceremony is an annual event, a luncheon that takes place at the Stationers’ Hall preceded by a Bidding Prayer and Sermon at St Pauls Cathedral every Shrove Tuesday following the bequest made in 1612 of John Norton, Alderman of London, Master of the Stationers’ Company.  Stationers file out of the Hall after coffee at 10.45, the Master, Clerk and  the Court Assistants first, followed by the Liverymen then the Freemen, for the short walk along Ave Maria Lane, across Paternoster Square under the watchful eye  of  a modern (Elizabeth Frink, 1975) bronze statue with the same title of Paternoster, but also known as shepherd with a flock of sheep, and down the steps to the crypt of the Cathedral, past the tombs of the Duke of Wellington and Admiral Lord ‘Horatio’ Nelson, into the Chapel of St Faith-under St Paul’s. Organ music by William Byrd 1543-1623 welcomes the arriving congregation to commemorate John Norton commencing at 11.15, the Bidding this year given by the Dean of St Paul’s and the Sermon by the Vicar of St Martin-in-the-Fields. At 12.15 the procession emerges from the crypt led by the Court dressed in their livery attracting a crowd of on-lookers and on their return this pious assembly with guests enjoy a buffet lunch with pancakes and cakes for dessert (more wine than ale), preceded as always by  a witty version of grace by the Company’s Clerk, William Alden. The Clerk, rather like a CEO, is responsible for the day to day running of Stationers’ that includes the organising of fundraising including charities, participating in and organising the many committees and renting out the Hall for drinks parties, events, lunches and dinners. Aloft as a central feature of the ceiling is a spread eagle and horn in gold and blue, symbols of St John the Evangelist looking down on the Cakes and Ale party, this symbol often appearing of the Saint as it was the bird which could fly highest therefore closest to heaven. At the southern end of the hall, carved in white and gold on the dark oak of the minstrels gallery, are open tomes of the King James’ Bible, reminding us that it was at Stationers Hall that this sacred work was translated by William Tyndale from Latin and edited and read out loud here by the Translating Committee.

In 1608 the Master of Stationers, Robert Barker who was also the King’s printer and therefore tasked with printing the King James Bible, left out ‘not’ from the seventh commandment, “thou shalt not commit adultery”, was fined £2000 and never recovered his health nor fortune, dying in the debtors prison. Copies of the ‘wicked bible ‘ were seized and burned in the Hall’s courtyard also the former churchyard  of St Martin-within-Ludgate, on the site of which now stands a 200 year old plain tree, renowned for its resilience to London pollution of which there was plenty with the burning of coal fires. It not only survived the decades of smoke from coal burning but also the fire and shrapnel of the Blitz, as did Wren’s St Martin’s church and the Hall. It is said that eleven copies of the wicked bible survived and that the Hoho (Chinese Fenghuang) bird carved out on the fireplace provented the destruction of the Hall.

It was on account of the development of printing to publishing that it was considered necessary to protect society against abuses of the press, and this was enforced by ordinances and Acts of Parliament  that also protected authors and publishers against infringement of their rights. The Licensing Act of 1662 was the successor to the Star Chamber decree of 1637 that forbade the publication of books without a licence and these protectionist clauses suited the trade and the Company with a requirement of a copy of every book to be deposited at Stationers’ Hall. The first law relating to copyright was the Copyright Act of Queen Anne of 1710, where infringements could be brought only for titles which had been entered in the Register of the Stationers Company, hence the term ‘entered at Stationers’ Hall’ is synonymous with copyright. It followed that penalties could be incurred by the printer on those books that were deposited, however canny printers only paid to register when they sought copyright protection, so little revenue for the Stationers. One loophole was only to register the first volume of say a series of 12, whilst learned works from universities were not entered because of the procedure and cost. Best sellers were protected and paid for since they would be more likely to attract piratical publication and contributed considerably to the fortunes of the English Stock, a company set up under James 1 that gave the Company a monopoly over certain types of publications in addition to the powerful printing privileges it had acquired through the 1557 Charter granted by Queen Mary. Shakespeare, Marlowe and others appear in the records.

Order and clarity came in 1836 and in 1838 with the international Copyright Act that gave protection to foreign works and British authors published in foreign countries, provided that their works were registered at Stationers’ Hall and one copy sent to the British Museum. The main use of the registry was a means of transferring copyright from author to publisher or publisher to publisher through a simple form of assignment at negligible cost. The proceedings improved after a Commission and the appointment of the Greenhills, London booksellers with a tradition of being Stationers, father George succeeded by son Joseph, a dynasty that lasted from 1797 to 1883. Joseph Greenhill also looked after the purchasing of the wine with an informal team of juniors for ‘blind tastings’ and only he knew which wines were kept and from whom.  His stock last recorded in dozens was, 410 of port, 32 of Madeira, 11 of claret, 15 of Moselle, 110 of sherry and two of champagne. On his demise he was succeeded by a Wine Committee.

In our next edition we shall read about the British tradition for almanacs and astrological predictions that produced annual revenue for the Stationers.

Rafael Pittman

The faux outrage about Sir Keir Starmer’s wealth strikes a new low in British politics.

vendredi, mai 22nd, 2020

The social media fallout and faux outrage this weekend after the revelation in the Mail on Sunday that the leader of the Labour Party, Sir Keir Starmer, owns land valued at around £10million strikes a new low in British politics.

Firstly, it continues to show how low and cheap both the Left and Right in British politics will stoop to score points against each other; but more importantly it demonstrates how the Right, supposedly totally against identity politics, are quite capable of using it when the situation suits them.

The story, in summary, is brief. In 1996 Sir Keir Starmer, whilst working as a human rights lawyer, bought a field behind his parents’ house so that his now late mother could care for rescue donkeys. Once she completely lost her ability to walk she was still able to watch the donkeys from her home. The land is now valued at around £10 million.

The ‘outrage’ generated from this revelation is that supposedly Sir Keir cannot be seen as a man of the people because he has wealth far in excess of the ordinary working person. His London home is also valued at around £1 million.

The British Right have jumped immediately on this bandwagon, trying to show that supposedly the Labour Party has totally lost touch with their original working-class roots; now only standing for the wishes of the middle-class, university educated, Guardian-reading intelligentsia.

All of this, of course, is complete drivel.

It also shows the shortest, most selective memory on record on the Right – that just six short months ago working class people flocked to the ballot boxes in their millions to vote for Eton and Oxford educated, multi-millionaire Boris Johnson.

What this should say to the Right, and Left, is something we have known all along. The British people want to aspire and they want their leaders to harness an environment that will allow them to do that – responsibly, collectively and individually. Margaret Thatcher knew this, as did Tony Blair, as did David Cameron and as does Boris Johnson. Working people do not buy into this grievance led identity politics. It’s distasteful as well as divisive.

The fact that Sir Keir, of humble origins, went to a grammar school; became a Human Rights barrister; the Director of Public Prosecutions; Knighted and now leader of the Labour Party, purchasing land along the way for his disabled mother, is enough to show every person what hard work can achieve in the UK.

What the Right would be better to focus on is what a Sir Keir led Labour Party would do if they were to regain the levers of power. A cursory glance at the pledges he made in the leadership contest show that whilst Sir Keir might identify as ‘soft-left’, the Labour Party clearly is not. As long as this remains the case it would be a catastrophe for the country were they to regain power.

Andrew Crawford.

BCiP Member

“We’ll meet again”: Michael Barker recalls the Victory Parade of 8 June 1946

lundi, mai 11th, 2020

After spending the war with my grandparents in South Wales, we were now based in Sydenham temporarily while my father was building a house in Ashtead in Surrey for his family. He had returned from signals service on the aircraft carrier Indomitable in many oceans around the world. Now resuming his career as a timber broker in the City, he had arranged for my younger brother and me to view the Victory Parade on 8 June 1946 from offices opposite St Paul’s cathedral.

We observed the parade with its cavalcade of the mechanised transport column, smartly marching soldiers and indeed 750 Land Girls.

True, we did not get to join the huge crowds around the Mall, but it was a memorable event nevertheless for a youngster.

Only latterly did I discover that the brave Poles were excluded thanks to a cowardly lefty deference to the Soviets. My RC mother would greet the displaced Poles, unable to return to their homeland, and treat them to tea in John Cobb’s department store.

Also I later discovered, when I led one of my early annual city trips for BCiP to Reims, that it was in Eisenhower’s atmospheric HQ, its walls lined with large scale maps, that he actually received the German surrender on 7 May 1945.