Saturday, 12 May 2018

A History Lesson: Did the UK join the EEC for the wrong reasons?

Giving all the fuss about Brexit, you may have wondered why did the UK join the EEC in 1973 and did the UK achieve the goals it set itself?

The reasons can be traced back to a study made by the Macmillan Government in 1959. The "Future Policy Study" was a long range study of UK overseas policy during the decade to come (1960 to 1970). It revealed amongst other things that the then French President, General De Gaulle, regarded the Treaty of Rome, which created the European Economic Community in 1957 (the EEC, the forerunner of the EU) as a purely commercial treaty, which De Gaulle admitted he would not have signed, if he had been French president at the time.

The Britsh prime minister Harold Macmillan still wanted the UK to be a world player. However, the summit meeting in May 1959 between the four "great" powers of the time (USA, USSR, UK and France) had failed to achieve any positive outcome, because of the shooting down of an American U2 spy plane over Russia earlier that month. It was at a time when the UK was losing its Empire and Macmillan realised that on its own, the UK could no longer be the "World player" that it had been. The study suggested that the UK had two possible routes, either to help develop the emerging economies of the Commonwealth or to throw in its lot with the EEC.

As historian Peter Hennessy wrote in his book "Having it so good: Britain in the Fifties" , "EUROPE, for the British was not a shining collective goal in itself, but a means of sustaining BRITISH power." As the French philosopher Raymond Aron put it in 1962, "those for whom Europe is to be a fatherland cannot avoid recognising that in British eyes (except for a small minority) it will never be anything but a means for something else".

The main reason for joining the EEC then, was to sustain Britain's powers in international affairs. Indeed the reports suggested that the UK expected to become the lead player in the EEC, if it joined. Hennessy described UK "wishful thinking" in not believing what the Treaty of Rome said about ever closer union in its opening paragraphs on the grounds that only French "mystics" could subscribe to it.

However the report acknowledged that joining the EEC might be unpopular. " It is to be expected that , if we were to join the Six (the original six countries of the EEC) there would be considerable opposition from some sections of public opinion.."

In a conclusion that Hennessy describes as "chilling", the 1959 report declared " This opposition would require careful handling; intensive RE-EDUCATION would be needed..."

This re-education started before 1973, when the UK joined the EEC and continues to this day. However, the UK never did achieve the dominance over the EEC that was its original goal. That honour now clearly lies with Germany. Indeed the Maastricht Treaty in 1992, then the Amsterdam, Nice and then Lisbon treaties increasingly took power away from Westminster and gave it to Brussels. The UK went from being a net exporter to the EEC to having a massive trade deficit with the EU (£82bn in 2016).

Notes to the 1959 report also concluded that the UK " should consider full membership, but seek special terms to meet our fundamental interests and those of the Commonwealth." Edward Heath, who took the UK into the EEC, failed to achieve any special terms and the UK has continued to fail to negotiate any meaningful "special terms" even when the EU was faced with Brexit (as David Cameron discovered).

The time has come to recognise that the UK failed in its original objectives and that the EU juggernaut will continue towards its goal of "ever closer" union until a United States of Europe is achieved or the EU implodes as its nation states collapse.

It may or may not be too late for plan B, to develop economic ties with Commonwealth countries. But it is time to recognise that the massive private and public debt (more than doubled since 2010 under Tory "austerity" to over £2 trillion) that the UK has amassed by being part of the EU must be addressed. As the 1959 report predicted:

"Whether we join the Six or not, we shall have to reduce the proportion of our output devoted to consumption and increase the proportion which is invested or exported."

We have ignored this advice in the forty five years since we joined the EEC, which has left the UK in massive debt. Now is the time to reverse that situation, exacerbated by the urgent need to reduce consumption in order to reduce the risk of global warming. We need to stop pretending we are a global power and instead put the needs of the British people and the country first.

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

An Opinion on the House of Lords and Brexit by Leslie Rowe


Brexit is a wonderful opportunity, a catalyst if you will, for change. The day after the EU referendum, I presented the GreenLeaves (the Green campaign for Brexit) nine point plan for change.
See below (in 2016) and pined to top of https://www.facebook.com/greenleaves2016/

One of these points was the plan to abolish the House of Lords and replace it with a directly elected chamber, representative of the regions of the UK.

Never more starkly does the need to abolish this chamber of privilege present itself than now. Blithely their Lordships ignore the democratic wish of the people and vote again and again to try to reverse the vote for Brexit.

Who are these people who feel that their wishes outweigh the 17.4 million UK citizens who voted for Brexit? Take for instance Baroness Ludford, the author of the motion to keep the EU charter of fundamental rights enshrined in UK law and one of the one hundred or so unelected Lib Dem peers (far more than the twelve members in the House of Commons).

I knew Sarah Ludford when I was chair of the Liberal European Action Group and she was vice-chair. She was made a peer even before she was given a top slot on the Lib Dem European Parliament list. Like so many others whose backsides polish the red benches, I have absolutely no idea why she was given a seat in the House of Lords.

One of the many reasons why I eventually abandoned the Lib Dems and joined the Green Party, was because, in my opinion, the Lib Dems were about who you know, not what you know. (Clearly I am not a Party animal, having changed my mind on the EU and am now in disagreement with the Green Party leadership over Brexit).

Ms Ludford continues to turn a blind eye to inconvenient truths. Such as that the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights is a political tool (set up to bind the EU closer as part of the Lisbon treaty), not a judicial one. The European Court of Justice is very selective in what it decides to prosecute and no action is taken if it is politically inconvenient for the EU establishment.

For instance, the EU is itself contravening several Articles of the European Charter of Fundamental Rights by supporting the Spanish government’s actions against supporters of Catalan independence. Similarly the EU is in direct contravention of the Charter in their disregard for the basic rights of the Greek people including the right to trade union representation.

In both examples and many more the EU is directly contravening:
Article 1: The Right to Human Dignity
Article 6: The Right to Liberty or Security of Person
Article 11: Freedom of Expression and Information
Article 12: Freedom of Assembly and Association
Article 21 Non-discrimination (on political or any other opinion)
Article 54: Prohibition of Abuse of Rights

These rights are being denied in Catalonia and Greece. When Catalans want to exercise their right in a democratic vote, the Spanish government calls it treason and sends in police thugs to beat up Catalans and repress their legitimate right to freedom of expression. Why has the European Charter of Fundamental Rights not been implemented?

Because the EU institutions, including the Court of Justice, allow politics to overrule legal protections. In Greece the legitimate Syriza Government and the wishes of the Greek people were overruled by an EU body with no legal standing (the Eurogroup). As Yanis Varoufakis says in his book "Adults in the Room" "..democracy had indeed died the moment when the Eurogroup acquired the authority to dictate economic policy to member states without anything resembling federal democratic sovereignty (pg237)."

We need a UK Charter of Fundamental Rights, administered by impartial UK courts, not the politically motivated European Court of Justice, which would have the power to overrule the democratic wishes of the British people, just as the EU has done in Catalonia, in Greece, Cyprus, Portugal and many other EU vassal states.

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

TORIES USING BREXIT NEGOTIATIONS TO CLING ON TO POWER

The so-called agreement announced yesterday (19/3/18) proves just one thing. The Tory government has yet again kicked the can down the road on the Brexit negotiations. They should be dealing with the difficult issues first, not last, to avoid wasting time making agreements that can never be implemented. Many people realised months ago that this Tory Government is incapable of negotiating a fair Brexit deal and are spinning it out just to remain in power for a few months more. They know that admission of failure is likely to trigger an immediate general election, especially as they will lose the support of the DUP over the Irish border.

The big issues the Tories are not able to deal with and have therefore postponed:

1. The Irish border: there is no way that you can have a soft border with the Irish Republic unless Northern Ireland effectively remains part of the Single Market and the Customs Union. Green Leaves recognised this from the start and have been calling for an Irish re-unification referendum since before the 2016 EU referendum. The only other alternative is to move the customs border to between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, a situation totally unacceptable to the DUP and Ulster Unionists. A referendum vote to re-unite with the republic is the only way that that Unionist veto can be over-ruled.

2. Fishing: under Article 125 of the agreement, the UK will not be taking back control of our fisheries when we leave the EU – something which the Government had previously promised. I predict every MP representing fishing communities will agree that we must have absolute control of our waters and fish from the end of March 2019 and anything less is totally unacceptable. As this must be put to a vote, there is no way that this will pass in the House of Commons.

3. The EU is suggesting that the EU Court of Justice should decide on any impasse between the UK and the EU. For instance if there was no agreement on Northern Ireland, the EU’s draft protocol for a ‘fallback’ option to resolve the Irish border would take precedence, which would see Northern Ireland remain in the EU Customs Union and aligned with much of the Single Market after Brexit. Again unacceptable to the DUP.

4. But the big issue: not even mentioned by the UK Tory negotiating team, is the massive trade deficit that the UK has with the EU and the unsustainability of this ever expanding trade to the world's environment. The UK must develop self sufficiency after Brexit; learn to live within its means if it is not to become bankrupt, both financially and environmentally. Financially its trade is in a worse situation than the likes of Greece, which has been crippled by austerity. Environmentally, we are still learning just what a horrific disaster 100 years of plastics have been and we know that drastic action to vastly reduce our consumption is needed now. Not in three years, ten years or fifty years. We should be campaigning for Brexit be the catalyst for action on the environment NOW!

Monday, 12 March 2018

Remain supporter condemns EU interference in elections

It is a shame that so main "Remain" supporters like Vince Cable resort to personal abuse when describing "Leave" voters. It's as if they know that they own arguments often lack veracity, so they similarly make up reasons why the majority of UK voters in the EU referendum opted for Brexit.

For myself, there were a number of reasons why I voted for Brexit, including the lack of sustainability of the EU economic model and the undermining by the EU Commission of European democracy. In particular their (I believe illegal) interference in the election of Governments in EU member states and the outcomes of EU referenda.

A classic example is described by ardent "Remain" supporter, former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis in his recent book, "Adults in the Room". He describes how the European Central Bank (elected by no one) deliberately tried to affect the outcome of the Greek general election in 2015.

Varoufakis says "..the ECB had just announced that in the near future it would stop accepting the IOUs issued by banks and backed by the governments of bailed out countries as collateral for further loans. In other words, a vital component of the smoke and mirrors machinery (set up by the ECB, EU and IMF to mask Greece's insolvency in 2010 and stop them leaving the Euro) used by Greece's four largest banks to ensure their day to day liquidity would be removed. The date on which the new policy became effective set alarm bells ringing in my head: March 2015 - the month the president of Greece's term expired, when new elections were likely to be held and in all probability Syriza would form a government."

"The ECB was creating the conditions necessary to close down the (Greek) banks without any warning or reason just as Syriza was taking over."
(Yanis Varoufakis "Adults in the Room" page 84).

Coming from such an ardent "Remain" supporter, this criticism is striking and nor is interference by the EU an isolated case. There are literally hundreds of examples, including new "technocratic" governments put in place to replace democratically elected governments who refused to toe the (unelected) EU Commission line. Further examples can be found not just in Greece, but also in Portugal, Ireland, Spain, Italy and Cyprus to name but a few. The bullying attitude of the EU now displayed in the so called negotiations on Brexit with May's weak Tory Government is, therefore, par for the course. Let's hope it won't be too long before the UK can walk away from this corrupt institution and that other countries will see the light and follow suit.

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

A CALL TO ARMS 2018

(A poem copyright Leslie A Rowe 18th January 2018)

I am the man that fell at Hastings,
Whose heart was pierced at Bannockburn.
Who was cut down at Agincourt
Even as I let my arrow fly.
The King he wooed his Kate
As MY lips were eaten by the crows.

At Marston Moor I did fall;
At Worcester was I trampled underfoot.
I drowned off Trafalgar
And lost my life at Waterloo.
At the Somme and at Passchendaele,
You will find my broken body
Left behind at Dunkirk
My corpse floats on the waters of Normandy.

I am the common man
Who has laid down his life
For his country, so many times.
And yet, and yet
What has this country done for me?
A country ruled by the generals
Who sat upon the hill, as
I shed my life below.
A country sold to the very foe
From whom I died defending.
A country now run by the selfish and the greedy.
Our country represented by thieves and usurpers.
Our voice ignored, our wishes spurned.

Once only in our lifetime has our voice been heard.
Above the clamour of the chattering classes.
But once again the wicked and the charlatans
Bend the rules to their own favour and
Cloud the issues with prattle and fakery.

Rise up; rise up, my fellow country folk.
'Tis time to cast off this yoke
Of subservience to those in power
And call this our finest hour
When we, once more, take up the sword
Bend our bows and fight
To declare our right
To rule our country and distain
Those who would take it from us again.
Yes, take back control
Take back our right
To stand up tall against the might
Of those who would claim
Their right to rule over me.

Send me no Kings nor Queens nor false politicians
Spare me from false princes
Hiding their ancestry behind pomp and circumstance.
My life, my country are mine own
To do with as I will.
'Tis time, 'tis time to walk the walk
To talk the talk
And defend our rights as human beings.
Defend our rights to the country
Our forebears fought to free,
But only succeeded in giving
To thee, mine enemy
Your right to bury me.

Leslie Rowe 18/1/2018


Youtube link:

https://youtu.be/CzXucLjD5Mo

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

HANDY HINTS FOR THE NEW YEAR FROM YOUR UNCLE LESLIE

Happy New Year!

Made a New Year resolution yet? Money tight after an expensive Christmas? Well now is the time to resolve to live a bit more frugally in future and preserve just a few more resources to help your pocket and the planet! Here are a few tips from your friendly retired accountant!

When you go shopping make two lists. On the first list put everything you need and on the second list put everything you want. Then throw the second list away!

Go through your "needs" list and decide whether you really need them. For instance, butter in the UK has doubled in price in the last 18 months. Even English butter, so the exchange rate is no excuse. It's time we, as consumers, started wielding our power NOT to consume. So strike things you don't really need from your list or find a cheaper alternative.

Eaten far too much chocolate over Christmas and the kids drunk too many fizzy drinks? The UK government's latest propaganda campaign to distract you from their appalling cock ups is that children should not have sugary snacks of more than 100 calories. Healthy eating is in fact cheaper than unhealthy eating, which you will know if you have ever compared the price of an apple to a chocolate bar.

It's also cheaper to be a vegetarian than an omnivore....

Next: don't buy brands. I know you always buy that coffee made by a multinational company that has just moved its HQ to a tax haven overseas, but do you need to? If you go to a store they will probably have just as good a product marketed under their own brand. For instance, you can get 40 one cup tea bags from Tesco for just 25p (and the bag is not plastic and so therefore biodegradable).

Finally, and by no means least, don't buy the fudge being sold to you by the terrible Tories. Get out of the house and protest at the privatisation of the NHS, the fracking of our countryside or the failure to protect our population from floods and fires. In particular, whether you are in favour of Brexit or in favour of Remain, please get off your backside and protest about the fudge being peddled by May and Co. You know that policy of being in the single market (to ensure no hard border in Ireland) and out of it (as promised by Brexit) at the same time is totally impossible. We either leave the EU entirely or we Remain in the EU: there are no other viable alternatives!

The sooner we get this ridiculous minority Tory Government out of office, the better it will be for all us. So start THE revolution now, forget the shopping and get down to the barricades!

Friday, 22 December 2017

The Establishment talks to the Establishment

Have you noticed how it is always the usual suspects who appear on all the talk shows and write all the newspaper columns?

What the establishment says needs to be treated with such scepticism, as lies and half truths spew out of the TV and radio.

The BBC yesterday in parliament programme reported this week, for instance, that the Liberal Democrat former minister Tom Brake had claimed that the EU referendum result was in part because of Russian cyber terrorism. Then they reported the Tory grandee Edward Leigh saying that this was just sour grapes, because liberals could not accept that the working class rejected the left wing in the EU referendum!

Finally "Yesterday in Parliament" shamelessly reported, that "the UK democracy is the most robust in the world." Robust yes, democratic no. Just look at the makeup of the Houses of Parliament. The Lords full of unelected establishment yes men. The Commons full of brown nosed sycophants, who also owe their position to patronage and an undemocratic electoral system which allows a government to be elected by just one third of the electorate. No surprise that MPs do not reflect the views of the majority in the country on such a fundamental issue as Brexit. No, democracy to Parliament is voting to allow themselves to overturn the will of the people on Brexit if they disagree with the dog's breakfast being served up by this minority government.

There are many such examples touted as truth by the Ministry of Truth, aka the BBC and the mainstream media.
If you believe the establishment, there is no such thing as a left wing supporter of Brexit or a right wing remainer. How often do you see Labour Leave invited onto the talk shows and yet we hear from Tony Blair all the time, despite the fact that he has been out of office for almost ten years. As a member of Green Leaves, the organisation of Green Party supporters who support Brexit, I am not aware that any of our members has ever been invited by the media to comment since the EU referendum. Why are the views of Labour Leave or Green Leaves less relevant than those of Nigel Farage or Tony Blair? More importantly, why are the alternative paths to Brexit they propose not reported?

The establishment continues to have the same agenda that the BBC have had throughout its history. To limit the voices you hear through the establishment media to the people who control the selection of MPs, the appointments to the House of Lords and the rest of the ruling class.