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.

Brexit Thoughts

Brexit CartoonThe results are in and with a 52/48 mixture, obviously not everyone is happy. The result is not all doom and gloom. On the plus side we will no longer paying to the EU more than we get out. We will no longer pay for the layer of bureaucracy in Brussels which has not had signed off audited accounts for over nineteen years. We will no longer pay for our MEPs since we will not need them.
I thought that the letters to the press are a good sign of desperation. In March a cluster of East Anglian council leaders joined forces to publicly back the campaign to remain in the EU. Were they lobbying the Government to bring us more grants and subsidies? Were they asking for more equity in the education funding arrangements? Were they asking for greater infrastructure support?
No, “The EU is, of course, far from perfect. But that is why Britain needs to stay, influencing the single market and protecting our interests.” If that were true why is the UK suffering the bureaucratic nonsense that we have been seeing from Brussels.
I only recognise two District Council leaders among the signatories (Mid-Suffolk leader Derrick Haley, Babergh leader Jennie Jenkins). If they were concerned for their local communities they would do more to move their Councils’ operations to Babergh’s building in Hadleigh. The saving to the communities would be £1,000,000 a year. Instead of which they have sat on their hands for two years ignoring the Consultants’ recommendation and declining to publish the recommendation as promised.
In June the Daily Telegraph published a letter from 165 Conservative District Councillors from all over England urging people to Remain and rubbishing the Brexiteers. Braintree (home to a prominent Brexiteer Pritti Patel M.P.) provided 21 of the signatories and voted 61.1%:38.9% to leave. Babergh provided only two signatories from recently elected members who seem to have little to recommend them apart from getting elected in the first place. Babergh voted 54.1%:45.8% to leave. The Babergh leadership was not in evidence on the June letter, nor was Mid Suffolk’s leadership visible. (Mid Suffolk voted 55.2%:44.8% to leave).
I think I was confirmed in my Brexit views when the Bremainders wheeled out Gordon Brown to support their case. This is the man who sold off just under 400 tons of gold from July 1999 to March 2002, at an average price of about US$275 per ounce, raising approximately US$3.5 billion. Immediately after the sale, gold entered a prolonged bull market and is currently priced at $1,315 per ounce. Why should anyone heed his advice? Currently we are in that dead zone when the battle has just been lost and won.
There are adjustments to be made and to quote Tim Passmore, Police & Crime Commissioner for Suffolk “Those worried about the decision should be understood – and that everyone should work together to try to ensure stability returns to the economic and political system as soon as possible. Now, though, we must all work together to make the decision work. We have to try to ensure community cohesion.”

http://www.edp24.co.uk/news/politics/eight_east_anglian_local_authority_leaders_back_the_european_union_remain_campaign_1_4447574 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/2016/06/11/letters-remain-campaigners-decry-little-englanders–but-they-are/ http://www.eadt.co.uk/news/don_t_feel_guilty_if_you_voted_for_brexit_suffolk_s_police_and_crime_commissioner_tim_passmore_1_4592070