Alternative Reality

A correspondent in the East Anglian Daily Times recently suggested that the outgoing head of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, might have made a better Prime Minister than Boris Johnston.
A reasonable statement you might think, except that Carney has never submitted himself to a General Election, and I doubt that the electorate would take to an economist as the head of their Government.
A better comparison might be if Johnson had lost and Corbyn had come into power. Would it have been like the times when Corbyn was causing Haringey to be one of the least efficient of London boroughs without any ambitions to make life better for the majority of its residents?
So, whilst the correspondent may dream of an alternative reality, I’ll stick with my current situation where my life may not be perfect but it is far better than it would have been had Boris had lost his election.

A version of this blog posting was first published in the EADT

Deep Secrets

Let me declare an interest. I first met Willie (and Ann) Salmond in Uganda in September 1990. We interacted on and off through to 2003 when I left Uganda for the last time. Among other things Willie Salmond was the country director for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation’s program in Uganda. He is also a Presbyterian minister, has three grown daughters and is resident n Newport CT.
Willie’s foundation in Uganda was one of our target customers when I was with Standard Chartered Bank and we secured his banking business by knocking fifteen days off the time taken to get monies from his US headquarters to Kampala.
We even collaborated on the viability of small sunflower farms to enable aids sufferers to achieve a modest level of financial independence.
So, it was with much pleasure that following an Amazon recommendation I read Willie’s latest book “Deep Secrets” which takes place in Connecticut, Washington and Uganda. It is a very enjoyable and informing read. The story is grounded in today’s reality of Covid, Al Quaeda and Aids. It is also about the strong bonds of family, forgiveness and resolute purpose.
As always, I read it first for narrative and local authenticity. I am now rereading it again for deeper insights as to characterisation of the key players from Central Bank governors to the “shamba” cultivator.
Even after seventeen years I can still recognise the people, their strengths and abilities to rise above misfortune.
If you take nothing else from this book, you should remember two things. First the daily prayer “Lord, please surprise me”. Second, that Arabica coffee from the Mt Elgon region of Uganda is first class and is the only coffee I know which becomes sweeter and more flavourful as it oxidises on becoming cooler.
I wholly recommend this book for an entertaining and worthwhile read.

Resetting the Clock

In November a correspondent of the East Anglian Daily Times suggested that we should improve our negotiating skills and apply to rejoin the EU.
This pie in the sky thinking has still not disappeared and presupposes that the EU would reset the clock to 2016 before we had the referendum.
Our negotiating position since the referendum has been consistently undermined by the Remainers and their Quisling-like supporters in the Labour and Liberal Democratic parties. Both parties undertook to recognise the results of the referendum. Subsequently, the Lib Dems announced that they would not recognise the result at all. Labour in the form of their Shadow Foreign Secretary (Emily Thornberry) announcing that they would renegotiate the Brexit agreement and campaign against its acceptance.
What the two parties should have done is to recognise the people’s wishes and work towards the best possible outcome instead of continually trying to denigrate our country and reinvigorate project fear.
This is why the EU felt that it could offer us a deal worse than they have with Japan.
And what if we did rejoin the EU?
Sterling would be subsumed into the Euro at a disadvantageous exchange rate. Our economy would become as sclerotic as theirs (unemployment in France pre Covid was over 8% ), our agriculture would be disadvantaged through the Common Agricultural Policy and we would doubtless be required to make a massive contribution the EU structural deficits and recovery funds.
From Day One after the referendum, we have appeared weak because of the noise coming from those who think they know better.
Now is the time to get behind our Government and show the EU that all parties support the wishes of the people and that we should be treated as the independent sovereign country with appropriate and friendly relations with our neighbours.
A version of this blog was published in letter form in the EADT

Not Just the Fish

One of the responses to my letter to the EADT and my posting here (Ils Sont Nos Poissons) tried to wave away the fish argument in the Brexit negotiations saying that the number of employed in the industry was less than those employed by the Arcadia (Top Shop etc) Group of companies.
It’s not just the fish. Admittedly, there are larger parts of our economy under threat, but the fish are merely the outward sign of a much more important issue.
No country can claim that it is “sovereign” if it doesn’t control its coastal waters.
We were in this situation in the ninth century when King Arthur was beset by the Danes. Again in 1066 when we were invaded by the Norwegian armies of Harald Hardrada and Tostig. Later in 1066 we lost control of our waters for the last time for over a thousand years when William of Normandy landed. And, we all know how that ended.
We have been paying the equivalent of Danegeld to Brussels for far too long and it’s time we took back control not only of our waters but our institutions and our economy.
That’s why the fish matter!

Ils sont nos poissons

It would appear that the French are still not happy with just controlling their half of the English Channel or La Manche, they want all the fish in the sea.
But Macron is no Charles de Gaulle and Boris is no Edward Heath.
On the 21st October we celebrated Trafalgar Day to commemorate the fact that 215 years ago we defeated the French and resolved once and for all who should rule the waves around Great Britain. Macron is no Napoleon either, despite his bluster.
They are our territorial waters and the French should look elsewhere.
Why are my Bremainer counterparts not supporting Macron? If the deal on offer is that good, they should be vocally supporting it and inviting French trawlers to station themselves in Dover or Douvres as they would rename it.
As always, Britain’s difficulties are seen to be France’s opportunities. But, this time around it’s not a case of “No, No Nanette” but “Absolument Non! Mr le President”
A version of this article was published in letter form in the East Anglian Daily Times on October 23rd


Clown Aid

The Government is proposing a temporary cut in overseas aid. It should be seen not as a problem caused by our Covid difficulties but as an opportunity to reconsider our aid priorities. Aid should perhaps be focussed on poverty relief, education, governance and sustainability.
The current system is fraught with waste and abuse.
It is reported that the EU have been ‘acting like clowns’ after splurging £23million of overseas aid on more than 400 circus related acts. The British contribution to these bread and circuses was £3million.
The money was spent between 2014 and 2019.
The circus grants included £182,000 teaching tightrope-walking in Belgium, Ireland and Romania. Two troupes in Palestine got £138,000 in 2016 to help “foster unity and diversity”. Another in Ethiopia got £280,000 the same year, using some for a new big top.
Britain’s circuses received £721,000 which may have been for touring overseas rather than U.K. based education and entertainment.
The revelations have prompted circus jokes such as from German MEP Nicolaus Fest: “Many of my colleagues act like clowns, but I never thought they would actually fund the circus”.
“Taxpayers deserve better than to have their hard-earned money squandered on such extravagant comedy.”
And that is the tragedy. It cannot be too difficult for better uses to be found for the monies – either as aid promoting self-sufficiency or as benefits in our own territories where we have asylum seekers and our own people who need to be levelled up.

Pinocchio Effect

Most of us learned from the adventures of Pinocchio not to utter falsehoods, because if we did, our actions would betray us and  we would be found out lickety split
Whilst we are all aware of the dangers of untruths, many people decide to chance their luck and see what they can get away with.
Hence my interest in the East Anglia Daily Times of the 16th which contained a letter from Mr. John Bailey of Stanton who indicated that the U.K. does not have a single trade deal in place for when we leave the EU.
As I was pleased to point out in today’s EADT, we signed a trade deal with Japan earlier this month and there are 23 other trade deals signed.
So what prompted Mr Bailey to go forward with his Bremainer falsehood.
I would like to think that it was just ignorance and a feeling of being hard done by.  I suspect, though, that it is from the Bremainer bubble for whom nothing about Brexit can be good and any assertion, truthful or otherwise denigrating Brexit is welcomed.
Whatever the origins of Mr Bailey’s opinion, we would all do well to remember what happened to Pinocchio when crossing the line between truth and otherwise.
The exchange of correspondence is attached.

Important News You May Have Missed

I have been very quiet on the blogging front. Not because I have nothing to say, but because I have been overwhelmed with the news coming out of Westminster, Washington and North Carolina politics.
This week has seen a lack of progress in the Brexit process. One cabinet minister has resigned (been sacked). There are local government elections in England on Thursday and there is a fear that Brexit frustration will flow into the voting patterns and that very many hard working councillors will be swept away by a possibly ungrateful electorate.
The Mueller Report has been delivered, summarized and published in a redacted format. The Attorney General has appeared before the Senate and as we speak he is resisting appearing before the House of Representatives.
Meanwhile in the real world in East London football, West Ham beat Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 on April 27th. and Leyton Orient have returned to the English Football League having achieved promotion from their non league status.
So, all in all, it’s a great time for East London football and long may the teams prosper.

The Call of the Dinner Plate

There’s always room for a good political joke. I heard this (disparaging) remark about a politician I admire and thought it worthwhile repeating for cleverness and appropriateness for using against someone else.
“…spends his time trawling through the calendars of each village and town council to see when their next village fete or open day is so that he can fill his face at the trough. I’ve never known a man turn up to so many free lunches. He’d attend the opening of a letter if there was a sandwich in it for him!”

1944 And All That

My brother and I tend to meet up two or three times a year to have a decent lunch and catch up on the events in our lives and those of our nearest and dearest.
Recently we lunched at the Royal Oak in Stambridge, Essex. We were discussing family history and wondered whether our parents would have been proud of us had they not died over seventy years ago. Our conclusion was that they would have been proud of us – particularly as we were enjoying hors d’oeuvres of pigeon’s breast with black pudding accompanied by a French Cabernet Sauvignon.
This conversation came back to me when I came across the attached photograph of West Ham Bus Garage in the aftermath of its bombing on 30th July 1944.Which was the same evening that a stray (!) bomb hit our house causing my brother and me (who were in a Morrison Shelter) to become orphans.
You do not have to be a fan of Dad’s Army to reflect on what would have happened had Great Britain lost the war. We would have become a colony of the Third Reich and our assets and resources would have been transferred to the centre on an ongoing basis – since the purpose of colonies is to produce wealth for the centre and not absorb the resources of the empire.
Flash forward seventy odd years and what do we have? We have assets and resources being transferred from Great Britain to the centre (now in Brussels) on an ongoing basis with very little influence on how they are managed and spent.
All of a sudden I see Brexit in a different light.