Sunday, December 30, 2018

Thoughts from Heald Green, England: 30.12.18

Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable.
- Christopher Howse: A Pilgrim in Spain. 

If you've arrived here because of an interest in Galicia or Pontevedra, see my web page here. Garish but informative.

Spain
  • Visiting Spain in 2019? Here's 15 things you shouldn't do there.
  • Meanwhile, if you actually live there, here's a few superstitions to keep in mind for the year. And beyond.
  • If you live in Madrid, this might not what you want to read. My elder daughter will be glad her barrio isn't included, despite being very lively.
  • And if - like me -  you're a Brit resident in Spain, this will make for encouraging reading.
  • Intriguing news of the sort of grant many of us would like to receive but probably never would
The EU/Brexit
  • Richard North and Christopher Booker are authors of a fascinating 2005 book - The Great Deception - about the origins of the EU and the long-standing, unchanging ambitions of its founding fathers. Committed Brexiteers, they were - like most of us – taken aback by the 2016 referendum result and have spent the last two and a half years despairing at and railing against the immense ignorance and even greater stupidity of Conservative politicians, particularly the right-wing Hard Brexiteers. Click here for their overview of the current chaos. It seems laughable now, but their hope was for a flexible exit – the Flexcit – over many years - one which reflected the complexities of the situation and the intricate ties built up over 40 years. They regard a Hard Brexit as madness and see Mrs May's deal as leaving the UK worse off than as a member of the EU. Perhaps, like me, they even think the whole shooting match should be stopped in its tracks and the status quo ante restored. In so far as it could be. Defeat has been well and truly snatched from the jaws of victory. Which some say was the plan of the British and European Establishments all along. After they'd recovered from the enormous shock of the vote.
  • If interested, the full Booker article is below.
  • I've just discovered there's a 2016 EU Referendum edition of The Great Deception. 88% of the 104 reviews are 5-Star. And another 9% are 4-Star.
  • As one reviewer puts it: Remain supporters would do well to read this book and reconsider their own beliefs in the light of hard evidence about the duplicity and real intentions of the EU.
THE USA 2019
  • Here's a forecast from an (American) commentator I respect: Donald Trump will not be impeached. That would be too slow and allow too much scope for partisan exhibitionism. The Republicans are going to have to deal with this problem themselves, or risk being discredited for a generation. [My view for a long time now. I still don't rule out assassination commissioned by party leaders . . . .]. Trump’s removal from power – if not necessarily from office – is now becoming more urgent than was anticipated when the whole Mueller investigation thing was initiated. Proving actual collusion with Russia during the election campaign now looks like an indulgently leisurely pursuit. The last grown-ups are leaving the room. The infant in the White House has been left on his own to play with the toys – untroubled by his ignorance of military strategy, the consequences of global trade wars, or the monetary policies of the Federal Bank. Many American voters might be parochial enough not to be concerned about isolationist withdrawal – even from Nato – but they are remarkably sophisticated about the value of their investments. Ordinary people in the United States participate in the stock market and are keenly aware of the relationship between the health of their pension funds and the state of the Dow Jones. Because the “little people” buy shares, too, there is not such a clear popular distinction between Wall Street and the “real economy” of Main Street. When the markets fall, everybody panics. This is the real reason Trump has shut down the federal government – and blamed the Democrats for refusing to provide the funds for his border wall. (Wait a minute – wasn’t Mexico going to pay for that?) He needed a distraction from the bad news on the stock market, and the departure of his last general over the snap decision to withdraw from Syria. This is all beginning to look desperate and uncoordinated. Someone – or most probably several people – will have to move in and put an end to it. But it won’t be by a Democrat impeachment process. As I say, that would be much too plodding and ponderous.
Finally . . . 
  • My younger daughter is in her 30s and is the mother of 2 young kids. She has clearly learnt a lot over the years but, astonishingly, has yet to master the simple light switch. But, hey, it's her electricity bill now. So, who am I to care, as a mere (but hard-working) guest?
© [David] Colin Davies

THE ARTICLE

Europe’s ‘great deception’ fooled our politicians for decades. Next up, the great disappointment: Christopher Booker.

As we move on from enjoying our last pre-Brexit Christmas to thoughts of the year ahead, only one prediction can be made with absolute confidence: that the national mood next Christmas may not be quite so merry. One of my most significant moments in the 27 years I have spent seriously reporting for The Telegraph on the EU and its impact on British life, was a book I co-authored in 2005 with my friend Richard North. It was called The Great Deception and it brought to light the true origins of the EU, as well as many long-hidden details of its history. What we found in the process of writing it led us to one unavoidable conclusion: the argument that one day we would have to leave the EU.

I mention it now because some aspects of our research have particular relevance to where we find ourselves today. The first is that, to a much greater extent than is generally realised, the “European project” has only ever had one real agenda underpinning everything it does. This is a desire to integrate the countries of Europe so closely under a new system of government centralised in Brussels that it would be extremely difficult for any country to leave it. The original “great deception”, deliberately devised back in the mid-Fifties, was to pretend that the purpose of the European project was to set up an internal free trade area, a “common market” established behind a protectionist tariff wall. But this was only ever intended to be the first step towards the true goal – welding all of the countries involved together into full political union, in other words a “United States of Europe”. This is why, after 46 years of ever closer union, there is now scarcely a single aspect of our national life which is not in some way governed by the EU. There is hardly any branch of economic activity which is not only now dependent on EU law but which has not become enmeshed with that of our EU partners. What I have also long been struck by is how little the British have ever really understood the full extent of this entanglement.

That is why, even before the referendum, Richard and I were pointing out that to disengage ourselves from the EU with minimal damage would require fully informed judgment as well as political leadership of the highest order. Our nation’s real aim, which would have been entirely possible, should have been to liberate ourselves completely from all the political structures of the EU, while retaining access to the single market which, through our exports, today provides around one pound in every eight we earn as a nation. But when Theresa May also chose to exclude us from the wider European Economic Area, which includes other countries outside the EU such as Norway and Iceland, she did so without any real understanding of its implications. That is why, the moment she made that fateful choice, we warned that this would put at risk whole sectors of our economy which rely on integration with the EU to function successfully: from our manufacture of cars, chemicals and pharmaceuticals to our role as the EU’s financial centre; from the rights of our airports to operate and our airliners to fly, to the combination of the Dover-Calais ferry service and the Channel Tunnel, absolutely essential when imports from the EU make up 30 per cent of the food we eat.

Only belatedly have our politicians woken up to some of these dangers, such as the impossibility of finding a rational solution to the Irish border problem. Others have scarcely been recognised at all, including the fact that most of our dealings with the world outside the EU are conducted under the terms set by EU trade deals, from which we will be excluded the moment we leave. 

All along we have been treated to one make-believe non-solution after another, such as the nonsensical idea that it would somehow be perfectly workable for us to walk out without any deal at all. So we are left with a choice between that crazily suicidal option, and a deal imposed by the EU, which will leave us  immeasurably worse off than we are now. 

The real tragedy is that, if only our politicians had really understood what we were up against, virtually all of this catastrophic shambles could have been avoided. 

That is a lesson we shall only learn once we have left, which is why next Christmas our national mood will be very different from what it is today.

1 comment:

Sierra said...

The leaves are starting to fall from the Brexit money-tree - wonder whose on the board?

https://www.bbc.com/news/business-46714984

"Concerns have been raised over the readiness of a British firm contracted by the government to run extra ferries in the event of a no-deal Brexit. Seaborne Freight was awarded a £13.8m contract this week to run a freight service between Ramsgate and Ostend. The firm has never run a ferry service and a local councillor said it would be impossible to launch before Brexit."