Hotel California

November 10, 2017

Welcome to the Hotel California.  Such a lovely place, Such a lovely face.

Plenty of room at the Hotel California.  Any time of the year, You can find it here.

They livin’ it up at the Hotel California.  What a nice surprise, Bring your alibis.

And she said, “We are all just prisoners here, of our own device”.

“Relax”, said the night man, “We are programmed to receive.

You can check-out any time you like, but you can never leave”.

In 1977 the Eagles composed and recorded their most famous hit.  The above abridged lyrics were written in a drug fuelled community with their original meaning a bit hazy.  It is now generally accepted they related to growing up and living in the LA hedonistic culture; and about trying to escape that life-style.

Now, substitute the European Union for California with the Hotel being the Brussels European Quarter buildings.  The lyrics then represent the generic mind-set and views of the Project Europe leaders and politicians.  The European Economic Community, the European Community and now the European Union was presented and promoted as the best thing since sliced-bread was invented.  People across Europe were sold the idea that it was a lovely place of economic prosperity, with a lovely face of peace and harmony.  Expansion of the EU boundaries was pushed at a speed when countries were not really ready for the shock of joining.  After all there was plenty of room and space with the freedom to move at will.  People outside Europe were given the impression that the EU was a land of milk and honey; and they would be welcomed there at any time.  You can fool all of the people some of the time.  With time and experience, scepticism grows.  The picture was not as rosy as painted by the politicians, but they had their excuses and alibis ready.

They were living it up in Brussels and enjoying all the privileges of office.  Their alibi was the importance of the European Project of ever closer integration.  On the rare occasions that people were given a vote on the state of progress they sent strong signals of discontent.  Danes, Dutch, French, Irish and then British voters objected.  The Danes and Irish were made to vote again.  The Dutch and French were ignored and bypassed.  The British said enough is enough.  In general elections across Europe the vote for pro-EU parties has declined, as the vote for pro-reformers has increased.  The Project leaders are hanging on by their finger tips.  After all, they argue, no one except the English want to leave and they will change their minds when they realise how bad it will be.  In the UK there are Quislings and the fifth-column working hard to reverse the result of the Referendum vote, and this encourages the European Commission to draw out the exit process so that the English can change their minds.

They are welcomed with open arms by Michel Barnier in Brussels.  In Ireland, former Taoiseach, John Bruton suggests the transition period should be for six years, during which time the UK would still be under the control of the EU.  Simon Coveney, the current Irish Foreign Minister, suggests it should be a period of four or five years and even after that Northern Ireland must keep to EU rules forever – otherwise he will veto any Brexit agreement.  In Germany the Council of Advisers suggests the UK be kept in the EU until the end of the current EU budget period that runs to December 2020.  True to this conspiracy, there are vocal groups in the UK still fully committed to the EU even though saying they respect the Referendum result.  You can fool some of the people all of the time.

She, who must be obeyed, is Merkel; the night man is Macron.  No matter what they say, judge them by their actions.  They cosy up with May for photo opportunities at European Council meetings in Brussels, but they are uncompromising with their demand that the UK must pay-up before trade can be discussed.  Merkel in particular has hampered genuine attempts to reform the EU.  Cameron’s aim to extract reforms for the purpose of winning the Referendum was treated with contempt.  No matter how positively he dressed up his achievement of spurious reform the voters new the kings new clothes were invisible.  Rejection was inevitable and since then the scales have fallen from more eyes.  You cannot fool all the people all of the time.

Brexit is the most important foreign policy issue facing the UK.  Even more important is the effect that the negotiations will have on our future relations with the EU.  If the public perception is that the UK has been bullied and treated unfairly attitudes will harden against the EU and dictate the extent to which our political leaders can support cordial relations in the future.  For example, the public will be resistant to the deployment of UK armed forces in defence of countries that have been vindictive.  European history is littered with examples of political elites making grand decisions and the ‘great powers’ redrawing boundaries, resulting in ordinary people and whole populations being moved liked pawns and financial burdens imposed.  What is happening now is on a par with the Congress of Vienna, the Franco-Prussian War settlement, the Treaty of Versailles with the French imposition of punitive terms on Germany in response to the harsh terms imposed on them previously, and Munich in 1939 when the four powers decided the future of smaller countries.  This cycle of tit-for-tat was supposed to have been broken after WW2 when Germany gained forbearance of its debts.  This seems to be lost on Merkel, but is remembered in Greece and Poland.  Macron should also remember that the French position after WW1 sowed the seeds for the next war.  Their obsession with making the UK pay for Brexit will have consequences.

We need to be considering what the EU will be like in 2025?  We may have checked-out, but if we are still subject to their Rule and thereby the European Court of Justice, we will never leave.  If they are domineering, we could find ourselves – like the Russian Federation – identifying the EU as the greatest threat to our national security.

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Save the Royal Navy

September 30, 2017

There is nothing wrong with the armed forces that an injection of sustained funding cannot cure.  While some sectors of the public services have been protected over the last seven years – if in monetary terms rather than real terms – the Defence budget has not been deemed important enough to warrant the same treatment.  This is fundamentally unfair because that budget has been the subject of sustained cuts for more than twenty-one years.  Politicians like to term this as the peace dividend.  With the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of Communism, together with the breakup of the USSR, we were told that ‘peace had broken out’ and the money could be better spent.  Come 2010, and the start of public spending cuts, no account was taken of the previous cuts to the Defence budget.  The Treasury would counter that the MoD capital spending plans were too ambitious and had not been properly costed and budgeted for, resulting in the fabled black-hole that was swallowing taxes intended for the forces basic current spending.  Someday, someone with inside knowledge will write a book revealing the real facts.

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Gibraltar 2

September 27, 2017

Gibraltar’s 50th Anniversary National Day was an outstanding success, with the video message from Prime Minister Theresa May being warmly received.  Viewed objectively it fell well short of what was required.  This was a one and only event, at a crucial time when the future direction of the British Overseas Territory is uncertain.  In the previous post we set out the first five points of action that we asked the PM to initiate.  The two points relating to the Royal Family visiting Gibraltar still need to be demonstrated.  On three of those points she has failed to deliver and so we can judge with some accuracy what the real level of committment there is from the Office of the PM and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.  It does not look good.  She failed to attend in person and as far as it is possible to ascertain she has never visited the Rock.  No matter how detailed the briefings she receives, they cannot match seeing at first hand what the problems are and hearing directly from Gibraltarians what their experiences are; be it delays when crossing the border of up to five hours or being harassed by Spanish State vessels when they are fishing in their own British Gibraltar Territorial Waters.

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Gibraltar

September 12, 2017

The strategic importance of Gibraltar does not require any explanation.  In July the Ministry of Defence announced it is to spend £2 million upgrading its maritime monitoring facility overlooking the Strait of Gibraltar.  Sitting high above Europa Point the facility keeps an eye on 60,000 ships entering or leaving the Mediterranean or crossing between Africa and Europe.  It plays a crucial role detecting any suspicious activity in British Gibraltar Territorial Waters and logs all unlawful incursions by Spanish state vessels, as well as detecting the shipping of narcotics into Europe and combating the nefarious illegal transport of drugs and tobacco.  Windmill Hill Signal Station, with its panoramic view, keeps an eye on traffic visually, over the radio and electronically.  It feeds information back to the UK and its allies about all these activities and military movements.

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Royal Navy 3

September 10, 2017

The UK Government has finally announced its response to the independent report, prepared by Sir John Parker last year, that outlined proposals for a National Shipbuilding Strategy for the Royal Navy.  They have accepted Sir John’s recommendations for a renaissance in British shipbuilding and the way naval ships are procured by the Ministry of Defence.  The aim is to “make the UK’s maritime industry more competitive, grow the RN fleet by the 2030s, export ships overseas, and boost innovation, skills, jobs and productivity across the UK.”  The Defence Secretary, Sir Michael Fallon, declared – “the new approach will lead to more cutting-edge ships for the growing RN that will be designed to maximise exports and be attractive to navies around the world” …… “backed up by a commitment to spend billions on new ships, our plans will help boost jobs, skills, and growth in shipyards and the supply chain across the UK”.  The MoD is committed to new ships through its rising budget and £178 billion equipment plan.  At the core of this proposed renaissance is the plan to build five new light frigates [Type 31e] using a modular system of blocks manufactured at various locations and then assembled centrally at a location still to be decided.  The cost of each ship is capped at £250 million and the design has still to be settled.  This should be news for rejoicing, but there is much to criticise and much for the opposition parties to scrutinize.  They still seem to be asleep, no doubt preoccupied with plotting to derail Brexit.  So here goes, a CDP response.

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Security and Stability 2

August 12, 2017

In relation to the European Union, and the Hope and Vision for it, which we had but remains unfulfilled; our departure from the EU raises issues about what our future relationship will be, especially as there seems no desire by the core members of the EU and the Eurozone to reform their institutions.  Our two areas of concern are the future of Gibraltar and the continuance of the special relationship with the Republic of Ireland through the British + Irish Council and the Common Travel Area.  The threats arise from the EU failing to recognise the special status of Ireland  by virtue of the Republic being a member of the CTA and of the EU.

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The British Royal Navy 2

August 8, 2017

The current situation faced by the RN is reminiscent to that when King William III ascended the throne; neglected and underfunded.  His ambition was to rebuild the Navy to a position of pre-eminence; his problem was the lack of funds.  His solution was to borrow the money and thereby created the Bank of England and the National Debt, which are still with us.  It has been mooted that our current Debt is the equivalent of the cost of all the wars fought since.  There was a consequence arising from the building programme, the oak forests of Britain and Ireland were laid waste.  The construction of ships was a massive enterprise that stimulated the economy and did lead to the industrial revolution.  Britannia really did rule the waves as the RN won control of the seas.  Control of the seas resulted in control of the world and the British Empire.  Our modern desires for the RN are less ambitious and relatively less costly.  We merely want to save the RN.

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