Words

December 12, 2017

Words are important, they are what people live by.  “I keep my word” or “My word is my bond” are hallmarks of someone who can be trusted, usually a person who is honest and has integrity.  They say what they think and mean what they say.  They are becoming a rare breed, but they still exist.  In everyday situations promises are kept.  When promises are broken so are reputations that can never be repaired.   Politicians are not noted examples of the breed.  In Parliament their speech is protected by privilege, but they can be held to account because they are recorded in Hansard.

Intergovernmental and diplomatic promises are recorded in writing, which have defined status.  The recent EU-UK negotiations have reached a milestone {or is it a kilometre stone} and as this is not defined in the agreement it enables politicians to dispute the point – you say mile, I say kilometre.  But then, they are disputing everything about the agreement.  The Irish say it is binding, but the British do not agree.  In Ireland it is called the EU-UK agreement, but in Britain it is called the UK-EU agreement.  With those levels of difference it is no wonder that it cannot be agreed what has been agreed.  Well it is the year of the rooster and they are strutting the farmyard giving forth with their opinions and interpretations.  Next year everything will calm down in the year of the dog.

Its only words.  So we can look to the Bee Gees, who fifty years ago recorded and released Words that was written by Barry Gibb who sang it as a solo.  His brother, Robin, claimed the song reflected a mood and was written after an argument.  The arguments were absolutely about nothing, they were just words.  That is what the song is about.  Words can make you happy or words can make you sad.

The lyrics are eminently suited to being performed by four people as counter refrains.  So here goes:-

Michel Barnier – Smile an everlasting smile, a smile can bring you near to me.  Don’t ever let me find you gone, cause that would bring a tear to me.”

Theresa May – “This world has lost its glory, lets start a brand new story, now my love.  Right now, there’ll be no other time and I can show you how, my love.”

Leo Varadkar – “Talk in everlasting words, and dedicate them all to me.  And I will give you all my life, I’m here if you should call to me.”

David Davis – “You think that I don’t even mean, a single word I say.  Its only words, and words are all I have, to take your heart away.”

It might be a good idea to get songwriters to draft agreements and treaties.

In the next post we will look at Article 46, what was said and what it means.  Simple.

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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.

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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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