Not All News is Bad

This week’s local government elections in Babergh and Mid-Suffolk are not all bad news. Katherine Grandon was re-elected with only two votes less than 2015 but this time with a much reduced turnout.
Katherine ran as an Independent after quite surprisingly having found herself unadopted for a ward which she had loyally served for eight years as their Councillor.
So, definitely a case of rejoicing and champagne all round.
John Hinton was once a senior member of Babergh’s higher echelons until he fell out with the Council’s future direction. He also stood as an Independent and was resoundingly re-elected.
Elsewhere the Conservatives in East Cornard swept their board with three seats defeating two prominent Labour councillors.
The results for Babergh are not all milk and honey. The Conservatives have dropped from being the majority party to being merely the largest. Some decent people are no longer on the Council, but as always, some people will be gladly missed and hopefully soon forgotten.
It’s easy to blame Brexit for changes in fortune, but local personality and local loyalties also played a part. My friends who got re-elected understood that you must get out the votes if you want to be elected. Others, who rely upon the tides to lift them up, often find themselves beached when the tides go out.

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.

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.

Retreat from Glory

Last week I blogged on the echoes from the 1930’s and the German position after the Versailles and Locarno treaties and the U.K. position and the E.U. at the present time.
The blog was based on the book Retreat from Glory by R.M. Bruce Lockhart.
The Retreat from Glory can be applied in the ironic sense to the EU as it negotiates Brexit. Here I am indebted to Guido Fawkes for the  chart.
Well, faced with €12 billion walking out of the door who would not be petulant.
What’s more interesting is that France with an economy and population comparable to ours makes a net contribution less than half of ours.
Why does Italy pay make a net contribution and Greece makes a net withdrawal?
There’s a Ph.D. project in the making as to the relationship of contributions to GNP, who comes out best and why.
But looking to the future there are two questions to be asked: What will we do with the money we no longer pay to Brussels and What will the EU do to fill the hole?

Flogging will continue …

Trogir – Oculus (Lust)

I have just finished reading “Retreat from Glory” by R.H. Bruce Lockhart.
It covers the period of his life from 1918 to 1932. Lockhart first achieved fame as British Vice Consul in Moscow in 1912 and is irretrievably connected with Sidney Reilly the “Ace of Spies”.
The book rambles a fair bit with details of trout fishing in far flung bournes and sight seeing.
Split he describes as a beautiful port and Diocletian as the first man to discover the peaceful solitude of this enchanting (Dalmatian) coast.
Trogir (he writes)  is another unspoilt relic of old Venice with the most glorious Venetian square hedged by a loggia, a magnificent cathedral, a palazzo and an old town hall. The dirt and the smell were over powering…
But the real gems in the book are the insights and conversations he has with politicians throughout Eastern Europe  in the aftermath of the Versailles Treaty and the determination of the French to ensure that Germany would never rise again to threaten them.
Lockhart recounts a converation with Gustav Stresemann the German politician and statesman who served as Chancellor in 1923 and Foreign Minister 1923–1929. He quotes Stresemann in 1929 as saying “… It is five years since we signed (the Treaty of) Locarno. If you had given me one concession, I could have carried my people. I could still do it today. But you have given nothing and the trifling concessions which you have made have always come too late.” Fast forward nearly ninety years and you could exchange the Locarno Treaty for the Lisbon Treaty, Stresemann’s position for that of David Cameron and the Allied Powers for that of the European Union. Nothing has been learned by the French, Germans and Luxembourgers  in fostering joint well being and instead they have entrenched the view that Britain  is better off out of a Europe whose motifs seem to include “Floggings will continue until morale improves”.

Who Do They Think They are Kidding?

There are many reasons and theories why people voted for Brexit.
One of my theories is that a significant contributor to the zeitgeist was the 2016 British war comedy film “Dad’s Army”. The film was based on the BBC television sitcom Dad’s Army. It was set in 1944.
The story sees Catherine Zeta-Jones play an elegant journalist, who is sent to Walmington-on-Sea to report on the British South Coast defences. All’s well that ends well with Catherine Zeta-Jones being unmasked as a spy and the Walmington-on-Sea Home Guard platoon being triumphant over the German might.
Unlike the sitcom the film opens with the German military high command looking at a map of Great Britain and asking themselves who these people think they are resisting the German invasion plans.
The film immediately reverts to the familiar animated sequence of swastika-headed arrows approaching Britain and then comes the show’s theme tune, “Who do you think you are kidding, Mr Hitler?”

“Who do you think you are kidding, Mr Hitler If you think we’re on the run?
We are the boys who will stop your little game!
We are the boys who will make you think again!
‘Cause, who do you think you are kidding Mr Hitler If you think old England’s done?”

Change the name in the first and penultimate lines to Jean-Claude Juncker and all becomes clear (or does it – only time will tell)
Dad’s Army episodes and extracts can be found on Youtube.

You Could Not Make it Up – Giving Professionals a Bad Name!

Texperthe new Bank of England deputy governor Charlotte Hogg has warned that Brexit remains a risk to the UK economy, saying it poses the “most significant challenge” to monetary policymakers and could have “upside or downside” effects.
Well, No Sh*t Sherlock!
There’s a blinding glimpse of the obvious!
Note the “Upside or downside” – no Mr In-between, no upside and downside, not a little bit of both just to keep everyone happy but a full a polarity choice.
Meanwhile Ms Hogg, who has not held a policymaking position with the Bank of England before but who has run the operations side of the Bank since 2013, claimed that not being an expert was an advantage. Andrew Tyrie, Tory chairman of the House of Commons Treasury Select Committee, said: “You haven’t got that [policy] experience.” Ms Hogg replied: “I don’t and I think that’s a plus.”
Meanwhile I shall keep my eyes open for the next Bank of England Sits-Vac advertisement –you never know when a lack of expertise will be a real qualification.