Tag Archives: Europe

Plotting At Parliament

FawkesG-1Guy Fawkes is the only one of the 1605 bomb plotters that most people remember; along with the rhyme –

Remember, remember!
The fifth of November,
The Gunpowder treason and plot;
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot!

An event re-enacted in the English bonfire and fireworks tradition that continues to this very day … Even though modern restrictions have stopped having fires in every street along with roasting potatoes in the flames and rock hard plot toffee.

Good News From Europe

Froome, Thomas and Yates

For much of the British public professional cycle racing is a foreign sport. And this is largely true when you consider how many races are held in mainland Europe each year and how few in Britain. So it really is remarkable that all the races that make up the European Grand Tour trilogy have been won this year not just by a British athlete but by three different British athletes.

To put these results into some sort of  perspective the situation in 2011 was that no British cyclist had ever won a Grand Tour. And Grandad was starting to think that it would never happen. Then everything changed as Team Sky got the funding and talent together for a serious attack despite the challenges faced. Now six of the last seven Tours de France have been won by British riders backed by Team Sky. And this year saw Team Sky win the Tour of Italy for the first time and so set-up the chance to take this unique triple victory in 2018.

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.

The Angry Old Men Gang

This gang are apparently shaping the future of the country against the inclinations of its youth – according to guest speaker Ian McEwan at an anti-Brexit conference last week. He reportedly went on to further rubbish oldsters with – By 2019 the country could be in a receptive mood: 2.5 million over-18-year-olds, freshly franchised and mostly remainers; 1.5 million oldsters, mostly Brexiters, freshly in their graves. Charming.

Cunning_Plan_160Now this theory that lost referendum votes – Scotland leaving the UK and the UK remaining in the EU – will be reversed by waiting a few years for a change in the population profile has already been reviewed by impartial analysts and found to be completely false. People are not machines with fixed profiles rather they respond to events and learn from their mistakes.

Now if these views had come from a broad survey of youths they might have been more understandable – even if wrong. But coming from anyone in Ian McEwan’s age group suggests that they have failed to grasp the irony of their own situation. Mr McEwan will be 69 next month; so being eligible for angry old men gang membership himself – along with other old men of the same opinion. Certainly Bob Geldof (65), Ken Clarke (76), Richard Branson (66), Tony Blair (64) and even Alastair Campbell (60 this month) could all join him in any oldster gang. All they need is a suitably clever gang name … suggestions on a postcard to Gina Miller please.

May Day Loan

It’s May and in Europe it’s time for another performance of a major annual event. No, not the Eurovision Song Contest, but negotiating another urgent loan for Greece.

EU_Fool_202As before this equates to a pay day loan to cover the interest on the previous loans. And, as before, it simply increases the total that the nation owes; while putting further austerity pressures on the Greek people. And so state pensions will be cut again; this time by an average of 9%. There will also be more competition in the energy market; so benefiting a few EU corporations and not the Greek people. With few state assets left the Greek government is hoping that the economy will grow enough to see taxes exceed spending by enough to pay the interest bill next year. But even that unlikely event will do nothing to reduce their outstanding debt mountain. The tragedy continues.

So why should the UK be overly concerned? This is an issue for Greece and the Eurozone nations alone … or is it? Well even the casual observer may be able to guess that Greece may simply default – possibly before Britain leaves the EU. A situation where our Eurocrat friends will need to find someone to pass their toxic debt parcel on to. And who may still have that prize mug, Britain, ideally placed to be their captive fool.

So don’t be surprised if that EU bill for Britain’s future commitments gets another massive increase as a result – or just in case it may be needed.

Monopoly Money

For us mere mortals the idea of handling thousands of millions of pounds – or any other currency – is close to fantasy. And there are plenty of stories of how suddenly becoming rich has just been too much for the lucky recipient to handle.

So it is no surprise that those who do handle money on such a grand scale tend to be regarded as people empowered with superior – almost supernatural – powers. But in reality this is never the case. They are just humans who through birth, skill, hard work or sheer luck have got their hands on wealth. And the successful ones have used that wealth to make even more – often through avoiding unnecessary expenses like taxation.

Take Christine Lagarde; currently in her second five year term as managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). A role that seems to operate outside the constraints placed upon the rest of us. For example Lagarde’s summary of the Greek financial crisis in 2012 was that not enough Greeks had paid their taxes. Now this may be true but coming from someone not paying any taxes on an annual salary of $468,000, plus serious expenses, strikes a sour note.  A situation that supports the charge that the elite are granting themselves exemptions from taxation.

Euro_Banker444But personal gain is not the biggest issue involving the big money players. Rather it is how they are managing the millions, billions and trillions of dollars. euros, et al that flow through governments and central banks. And the biggest potential source of problems here is the European Central Bank (ECB); mainly because it directs the EU’s national banks but also because of the huge amounts involved.

The president of the ECB, Mario Draghi, controls and sets policies involving vast amounts of euros; either directly or via the EU’s interest rates. And for many months the ECB has been buying bonds to the tune of 80,000 million euro per month. But buying them by simply creating more euros – a process that used to involve printing bank notes but is now just updating a number in a computer record.

Obviously for anyone other than a central bank this would be fraud on a grand scale. And for anyone to suggest that this is a policy that is bound to fail eventually would mean that they are dismissed as too dumb to understand such high finance.

But simply this monopoly money is being swapped for bonds (more pretend money) issued mainly by big business or national debts. Finding out how much goes to who is not straight forward. However the Corporate Europe Observatory has worked out that some big beneficiaries are corporations like Daimler, BMW, Volkswagen, Shell, Total, Eni (Italian Oil), Repsol, Siemens, Thales and even Ryanair.

Now even if everything in this quantitative easing programme is legal and transparent its only function is to shore-up struggling Eurozone economies with cheap money. And the scale of the money printing is frightening. If we bring the amounts back to  human scale you can see the problem. With roughly 500 million people in Europe the ECB are creating some 160 euro per person per month. Not a lot it seems – but the total is mounting steadily and that is on top of the vast amounts of debt that the EU already has.

But with such vast sums being produced out of thin air and moved across multiple jurisdictions the opportunities for the odd million or two to vanish are all too real ..

End of a Battle

Today officially marks 100 years since the end of the Battle of the Somme. A phase in the First World War that inflicted death or injury on over one million soldiers of all nations. It is hard to say if either side gained anything – or indeed if the battle really did finish on 18 Nov 1916. But the losses were so great and so many families were effected that the date will be remembered for a few more generations at least.

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More centenaries of events will continue to be remembered during two further years – putting into perspective just how long the Great War dragged on and how trivial some of today’s concerns are in comparison. However we still have values that need to be defended and sometimes that defense will lead to a life or death struggle. For no matter how civilised we think we are there will always be nature’s self-preservation instinct waiting just below the surface.