Faded Symbol

Today saw the chance rediscovery of a Europe car sticker bought in 1992. For some reason it never got used. And by now it might be rare enough to attract a few bids from die hard Europhiles on eBay.

Europe1992Sticker1Looking back, over the intervening twenty six years, the changes have been major. Events have gradually eroded the hopes of a peaceful, sun-lit, golden future. And these earlier ideals have been replaced with the growing realisation that we are merely taxation sources funding power hungry politicians who are pushing their project to create a European super state. A state without national allegiances in perpetual, worldwide competition with other super-powers – and with themselves in control. A state where democracy is called populism and where populism is bad. A state where disagreement and opposition is renamed euro-scepticism and that is even worse than populism.

So was the 2016 vote to leave the EU just a moment of mass hysteria based upon fake news and false promises?  I can only speak for myself but I know that this was definitely not the case when my vote was cast. Rather it was the result of watching those hidden agendas gradually emerge along with more and more directives seeking to gain control of every aspect of our lives. If our politicians fail to deliver the platform for a sound, independent and peaceful future as we leave the EU then we will all be the losers – irrespective of how we voted in 2016.

You Don’t Have Mail

For those of us that have been using e-mail since the 1990’s the prospect of changing a key e-mail address has very little appeal. With decades of accumulated messages, contacts and web site logins any changeover can easily become major task.

man58_160So this month’s announcement that the Tesco.Net service will be closing in June has triggered the need for wholesale changes by everyone still using their service. And, in our particular case, the loss of Tesco.net is the third time that our e-mail provider has closed down; with first Talk21 (British Telecom) and then Beeb.net (BBC) forcing us to look elsewhere for our e-mail.

Back in 2008 the BBC said that Beeb.net just didn’t fit with its core values anymore – i.e. flogging off licence-fee funded content to the rest of the world. And in the case of Tesco the closure of the service seems a minor consideration amongst all their other corporate cut-backs of recent years.

So for those Grandads with ISP contracts that include e-mail services the only problem should the effort needed to make all the changes. But for those wanting to have an e-mail address that is not tied to sticking with their broadband provider the choice is rather limited. The obvious front runner is the Google Gmail service – almost a given if you are also an Android user. But some viable alternatives are Yahoo mail, Microsoft’s Outlook mail or Apple’s iCloud mail. However all of these services are based in the USA so if you want something more local – in either Britain or the EU – then you need to look elsewhere.

One option from a company with a good track record is the GMX free mail service provided by Grandad’s  German Internet service provider; 1and1. But which ever solution you go for you have until 27-Jun-2018 to complete the move. And don’t forget to check if anyone in your contacts list is still using Tesco.net – since it seems that not everyone with an account has been told of the closure!

Whitehall – Nul Points

For our partners in the EU passports are often classified as items of national security. So France, Germany, Italy and others only allow them to be produced within their respective countries – even though this goes against the principles of the common market and aim of a unified Europe.

AccountDoctor160However Whitehall has taken the view that any company operating within the EU can bid to produce UK passports – on the premise that this will produce best deal for UK tax payers and because we have to follow EU rules.

So when the winning bidder was revealed as being overseas the public servants – and senior politicians – could simply say that they were disappointed but were only following the rules. A mantra that we have all heard before. However in this particular case the backlash was much more than normal. A reaction that can be attributed to not only the personal importance – and cost – of UK passports but also to the high profile given by the Government to the switch to blue covers as we leave the EU.

At the time of the blue cover announcement the UK was mocked by the Eurocrats – and now they are laughing even more as the symbol of UK separation has to be produced for us by the EU.

So did De La Rue put in a high bid in the hope that Whitehall would favour a UK company? Did Gemalto put in a low bid to make a political point? Did the bid evaluators include potential consequential costs to the Treasury – such as UK staff becoming redundant? Will Gemalto now set-up passport production in the UK? Was the contract for just enough passports to meet demand until the UK could accept non-EU bids? If not – why not? Some reports say the new contract is for ten years – did no one even think about the wider market that will open up from 2021? And the most obvious – why are passports not considered to be a key part of our national security?

Overall the awarding of this passport contract has, at best, naively followed the rules but the lack of political and commercial awareness shown by the public service is staggering … Unless, of course, it was designed to make the UK politicians in power look stupid!