My Log 518 June 28 2016
Perfidious Albion in full view as it manoeuvres to take the good and reject what it doesn’t like: brilliant article by Dutch journalist welcomes the Brexit
Well, here we are, bereft under the blizzard of political change that has overcome that part of the world we had become accustomed to thinking of as stable. Donald Trump, a megalomaniac millionaire apparently without a serious political thought in his head, is contending to become United States President. And Boris Johnson, recently described, with a fair degree of accuracy, as “a clown”, is apparently in line to become Britain’s next Prime Minister. Will wonders never cease?
It now appears that the campaign to have Britain leave the European Union was mendacious in the extreme. But that does not appear to have been the main reason for this surprising decision.
An excellent article published in the last few days in The Guardian by a man who last month completed a 340 mile walk from Liverpool to London, said that after what he had seen en route, the result of the referendum did not surprise him at all. He said that the political policies of Margaret Thatcher had virtually wiped out most of the towns he passed through, whose main streets remain boarded up, shattered and destroyed, the only enterprise having shifted to giant box stores on the peripheries of what once were thriving English towns. Everyone he asked how they would vote told him, “Out.” And the invariable reason was “immigration.” These people, chronically out of work, complained that foreigners had come among them, willing and able to take lower pay to do the jobs they themselves once held. It was as simple as that.
This reporter was apparently the son of a man who had followed the same route as part of a 1981 march of miners in protest against Thatcher’s policies, which eventually closed not only the mines, but also much of the industry that supported them.
What seems to be the sad result of the referendum is that the Brexit side was not led by a socially-conscious group of reformers with a plan to change these worst aspects of British decline, but by an air-headed group, the worst of the British Tories (and believe me, they can be bad!) who apparently have no plan for future reform in any direction. This suggests that Britain’s future could be parlous.
I heard Alex Salmond, past leader of the Scottish National Party, in an illuminating discussion with the rivetting RT interviewer Sophie Shevardnadze, claim that the only British politician who was keeping her head, not making extravagant promises, and appeared to have a clear path to the future was Nicola Sturgeon, who has already put into play the mechanism for a Scottish referendum to support the overwhelming support given by the Scots to remaining within Europe. Thus the very real possibility for the destruction of the United Kingdom already is looming on the horizon.
On a more cheerful note is an article in today’s Guardian --- I don’t want anyone to get the impression that I any longer regard The Guardian as a really responsible newspaper, not after the recent scandalous bias in their coverage of the US candidacy of Bernie Sanders, or their root-and-branch propaganda for the Remain solution to the British referendum, but they still do print the odd informative article --- an article written by Joris Luyendijk, a thoughtful and experienced Dutch journalist who has lived and work across much of the world, to the effect that the Brexit is a wonderful piece of news for Europe.
His reasoning for this must make hard reading for any Englishman who is proud of his country. For the way Luyendijk sees it, Britain has never wanted to be a full member of the European Union, has always insisted on exceptions, and even the Remain side agued that continued membership would be the best way to ensure that all this foolish nonsense about creating a Europe of shared sovereignty could be nipped in the bud and brought to a halt. Thus, Luyendijk argues, a European Union that drastically needs to be reformed along democratic lines, would forever be denied that opportunity if Britain were present, ready, able and willing to veto any changes that did not suit them.
He does not mince words in his argument:
“For decades British governments have played a double game: getting all the benefits of EU membership while opting out of its burdens, in the meantime undermining and even blackmailing the club from within. All of this is now over….. Had Remain won the referendum, the EU would have become hostage to British sabotage. Future British prime ministers would veto any fundamental change involving the transfer of sovereignty, arguing, correctly, that their people had voted only for the current set-up of the EU. Britain would continue to demand ever more opt-outs and concessions – playing to the fantasy that membership is a British favour to the rest of Europe. The British press and Europhobe politicians would go on portraying the EU in the most lurid, mendacious and derisory terms, making us look terrible in the eyes of Americans and English-speaking Asians, Africans and Russians.
“As the referendum debate has shown, the country has not come to terms with its own global irrelevance – hence its refusal to pool sovereignty. It continues to believe that as a sovereign nation it can get everything it had as an EU member, and more. When Europe’s democrats talk about ‘EU reform’ they mean putting arrangements in place to make Europe’s pooling of sovereignty democratic. Britons mean the rollback of that very pooling of sovereignty. For this reason, Britain’s membership would have hit a wall sooner or later.”
Although Ludendijk does not mention him, this brings to mind Yanis Varoufakis, who quit the Syriza party in Greece rather than surrender to the blackmail of the European money powers, and formed his oddly-named DiEM25 movement to bring about “radical democracy” in Europe, working, he insists, from within Europe. Ludendijk seems to share this view of the future, one which he says should be much easier to bring about if only Britain would withdraw from the community. It is not without interest to remark that various actors in Europe so distrust British honesty that one official said he would be surprised if Article 50 that has to be activated by any nation wishing to withdraw, will ever be activated.
Already the European leaders are warning Britain against what seem to be their nefarious tricks, their wish for endless delays. No negotiation can be a matter for cherry-picking, says Mrs. Merkel, with Britain getting what is favorable and rejecting what is unfavorable. Similarly the European leaders have unhesitatingly rejected the idea floated by Boris Johnson that Britain might become an associate member while rejecting the free movement of people, one of the four pillars of he EU value-system. Norway is an associate member, but that is a status granted only on condition that they accept the free movement of EU citizens into their country.
Clearly these coming years are going to be full of interest as Europe, founded as a bulwark against the internecine warfare that has dogged the continent since time immemorial, struggles to create a functioning, democratic and successful nation able to exist and compete with any nation on earth.
They seem to be fully aware already of the reputation and dangers posed by perfidious Albion. I was working as a journalist in London when Harold Macmillan’s government first applied to join the EEC, and as a guy who had never lived anywhere but in what was once the British Empire, then became the British Commonwealth, and then morphed into simply the Commonwealth, I was staggered at the naked effrontery of perfidious Albion, ready to cast aside as if by magic, all those countries that had supported its wars for generations with tens of thousands of butchered young men, and all because they suddenly realized they could make more money by trading within Europe than in the Commonwealth.
These are going to be very interesting times.