Stay tuned for a developing show that will run and run…
Act One: The preamble….opening shortly
Act One: The preamble….opening shortly
The UK should be in no rush to trigger article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. There is nothing to gain and much to lose.
Once we formally tell the EU the UK is leaving then the two year clock is ticking. Once that happens our negotiating power is seriously compromised. In extremis the EU Commission could just sit on its hands and do nothing, refusing even to speak.
The EU is already pushing the UK to trigger article 50, wanting to get the whole thing over quickly and before any head of steam builds up in other countries for a Frexit, Nexit or Grexit. That should tell us something.
And we don’t need civil servants negotiating our exit. And certainly not the same civil servants who negotiated and advised Cameron on the pathetic changes (sic) he came back with last February. Let’s ensure we have hard nosed commercially savvy hard ball negotiators from the private sector. Individuals who are used to doing deals and staring down the barrel. The UK Foreign Office, whilst extremely competent in diplomacy elsewhere around the globe should not be anywhere near these negotiations when they are triggered. They are and have been congenitally wedded to the EU and their natural mindset will be all wrong.
The Commission have apparently been told by Juncker there must be no informal discussions before the UK starts the Article 50 clock, and that is certainly Merkel’s view. Mind you that hasn’t stopped Mrs Salmond planning to drop into the Berlaymont tomorrow to further her cause.
But two can play the say nothing game. There’s a case for letting the EU wait. Let’s see what happens. By leaving we’ve effectively killed off any chance of the EU developing its own EU Defence Force and its ridiculous aim of seeking autonomy from NATO. And with only France left to represent the EUs views at the UN Security Council its representation has been cut by 50%. Let’s see what happens when we put forward informal proposals that as a quid pro quo for access to the single market without tariffs we’re prepared to be involved with the EU in some yet to be formed associated member club to assist in these grand ideals.
Now there’s a thought. Back in fact 86 years to Churchill’s 1930 statement about us being, “With Europe, but not of it. We are linked but not combined. We are interested and associated but not absorbed.” To which is often added his words in a blazing row with General de Gaulle on the eve of D Day in 1944, “If Britain must choose between Europe and the open sea, she must always choose the open sea.”
I have been appalled at some of the language and bile that’s been pouring out of the twitterati and elsewhere. One thing it is not is British as I have always understood the meaning of that term. I’m upset that many young people are blaming their parent’s post war generation on the sole grounds that we don’t have as long to live and be as affected by the result as they will, and as if we too don’t have the same concerns for the future of our grandchildren and genuinely believe we are better off out, just as much as they believe we would be better off in.
I was particularly incensed by the article by Giles Coren in the UK’s Times on Saturday. (see below). I shudder to think what his celebrated and genuinely funny and decent father would have thought. It’s so full of bile and hate that I was astounded and expected better from him. I thought I’d see what he was writing on the twittersphere and just couldn’t believe the foul language, and equally surprising were many similar comments full of hatred from his followers. Metropolitan London are quick to cry hate crime elsewhere. They need to seriously look at the motes in their own eyes and be careful the boys in blue don’t start calling.
The Giles Coren Article. Times UK – Saturday 25 June 2016
I had lunch with my mother on Wednesday and as our starters were being cleared away she turned to me and said, “So, Giles, how are you going to vote tomorrow?”
And I replied, “why?” because I sniffed a trap. I’m not saying my mother loves a lunchtime broigus, it’s just that she doesn’t usually ask a question unless she already has a strong opinion of her own fired up and ready to go.
On this, I was guessing she was for Brexit. My mother was (and remains) a great admirer of Margaret Thatcher, almost always votes Conservative, has an abhorrence of bureaucracy and red tape thanks to 40 years working in the NHS (and owning a house in France) and voted to leave the EEC in 1975.
And so her answer astonished me.
“I’m asking because whatever you vote, I’ll vote,” she said. “After all, I’m going to be dead soon so it doesn’t matter what I think. I won’t be affected.”
If only every older person in Britain had had the humility to think the same way this week and pass on their vote to a generation more likely to be affected by the result. We’d still be in Europe this morning. We’d be laughing at how ridiculous it was to have had a referendum in the first place and just getting on with our lives.
For make no mistake, it is the old people who did this to us. I assume you have seen the voting breakdown by age? In the 18-24 group it was 64 per cent to Remain and 24 per cent to Leave. In the 25-49 age group it was 45 per cent to 39. Only in the 50-64 bracket does the balance shift, going over to 49 per cent for Leave, as against 35 for Remain. And then among the over-65s it was an astonishing 58 per cent for Leave, against 33 per cent for Remain.
The less time a person had left on earth to live and face up to their decision, in other words, the more likely they were to vote to leave the European Union.
The wrinkly bastards stitched us young ’uns up good and proper on Thursday. From their stair lifts and their Zimmer frames, their electric recliner beds and their walk-in baths, they reached out with their wizened old writing hands to make their wobbly crosses and screwed their children and their children’s children for a thousand generations. (Except my mother — who wants it made clear that she was for Leave anyway.)
I always knew it would turn out this way. From the moment the referendum was called, the polls showed a massive majority for Leave in the over-65 group — bigger than any differential in wage, education, geographical location or political leaning. And it was how I formed my eventual decision to vote Remain. I just knew that I could not vote with the old people. Because old people are always wrong. About everything.
Take global warming, for example. In all opinion surveys that I have seen, belief in anthropogenic global warming declines every year after the age of 25. In other words, the likelihood of a person accepting the truth of global warming is inversely proportional to the likelihood of their being alive to see its disastrous effects. Is it because people become more stupid with age? I wouldn’t presume to say so. Although obviously Nigel Lawson has. But mainly it’s just that they give less and less of a damn what happens to the rest of us as time goes on.
The older people get, the more they think they have earned the right to do and think whatever they damn well please. And this leads to their being wrong. About everything. Not just about elasticated waistbands, brightly coloured outerwear, fluffy little pale blue hairdos, big chunky spectacles, beige trousers, Countdown and young people today. About everything.
Older people care less and less what happens to the rest of us
Take recycling. Old people never recycle anything. They think it’s all mumbo jumbo. And why should they bother? After all, by the time that bottle of milk stout is crushed, melted and made into another bottle of milk stout, they’ll be far too dead to enjoy it. They can’t work the TV, they can’t hear their mobile phone or answer it if they do hear it, they don’t understand the self-checkout at the supermarket or why there aren’t price tags on things anymore …
And then of course there is immigration. A report for the World Bank in 2012 found that, “It is old people everywhere who oppose immigration the most, across the board. In every country for which we have data (except Sweden) older natives disproportionately oppose immigration, regardless of income, education and employment status.”
And that is despite the fact that it is old people who benefit most from immigration, seeing as they no longer compete in the labour market and require, or will soon require, the sort of care that is made cheaper by immigrant labour. But, oh no, old people are against immigration because, well, because they are wrong about everything.
Should they have been allowed to vote in this referendum? I’m not sure that they should have been. A general election, yes. Everyone should get a say on what happens over the next five years. But over the next 50? I don’t think so. Not if you’re not going to be there to face it.
And don’t go telling me that we owe at least a debt of respect to the elderly. Respect for what? Don’t confuse the elderly of today with the elderly of the recent past. This lot did not fight a war (not many of them). They didn’t free us from the yoke of tyranny. They didn’t live in modesty and hardship and hunger so that future generations might thrive. They just enjoyed high employment, good pay, fat benefits, enormous pension privileges, international travel, the birth of pop music and lashings of free sex. We don’t owe them a thing. We should cut them off. Rewrite the franchise to start at 16 and end at 60 and do this thing all over again.
We won’t, of course. So we will be compelled to make our strength of feeling felt in smaller, subtler ways. In fact it is already happening. As early as lunchtime on Friday, Twitter was showing 15,000 retweets of what may come to be the standout mantra for Brexit 2016:
“I’m never giving up my seat on the train for an old person again.”
If one EU member leaving has such an effect on markets in the EU it rather suggests the EU is not the sort of stable club that is worth belonging to. Vive Brexit.
It was a beautiful sunny day in Kyoto yesterday and the autumnal leaf shades of the trees on the hills and slopes around the various temples were quite magnificent.
These views and the relative tranquility were however marred by the increasing number of people using extending poles attached to their phones in order to take selfies.
Selfies are examples of the ‘look at me’ culture but when these idiots add sticks to their devices they take the meaning of self obsession to a whole new level, in the process seriously hindering and getting in the way of others.
Apart from anything else it’s just rude and another step down the road to a less civilised society. Why can’t these people stick to the time honoured custom of asking a passing stranger if they wouldn’t mind taking a picture. As well as being a socially beneficial act they might just strike up an interesting discussion of mutual benefit.
It was with incredulous astonishment that I read the other day that Manchester Airport had received a best UK Airport of the year award. Clearly the judges have never witnessed the sorts of scenes I saw on November 13, nor apparently similar scenes that I see have been regularly reported since last year.
Arriving at the airport at 07:20 for an 09:35 flight with Lufthansa to Tokyo via Frankfurt on November 13th check in took a mere few minutes and then we encountered what I can only describe as a third world experience. In fact on reflection and with much experience of airports throughout the Indian sub continent something much worse.
We walked the whole length of the check in concourse thinking we’d soon join the end of the queue for security checks. Not so, we were astounded to find that the queue exited the far end of the building, disappeared out of the terminal in a U turn into the external drop off area where it stretched back to the other end of the building across the drop off road and was already a quarter of the way back on a third leg back to the other end of the building. The length must have been 300 yards or more. It took an hour to just get to the first boarding card gate check and then a further 30 minutes to snake through to the security check itself.
We enquired ourselves the reasons and overheard others doing the same. The answers ranged from a straight ‘I don’t know it’s often like this’, to it being due to extra traffic caused by the closure of Blackpool airport (prompting the obvious if Blackpool was so busy why was it closed), and it being due to more people using low cost airlines and self check in.
Not once was there any sort of apology or customer service announcement explaining what was happening. It’s one thing to have a bad customer experience but it’s far worse when those who are in authority make no apologies for it.
Those responsible have serious questions to answer.
Room 101 is the torture room in Orwell’s 1948 novel 1984. It’s also the name of a BBC program in which celebrities tell us which items/people/ideas etc.. that they’d like to put in room 101.
This continuing thread will contain my own candidates for room 101. Starting with…
Men who wear sunglasses pushed back on their forehead.
Fine for ladies, but chaps, please, stop posing.
People who preface every answer to a question they’re asked with ‘so….’ Not entirely sure when this first started but it seems all too prevalent these days.
“I was sat”
People who always get the tense and participle of the verb ‘be’ wrong. No they weren’t physically forced down in their seat, they were ‘sitting’ not ‘sat’. Challenge anyone who says this in the wrong way. Ask them if they’d equally say . “I was swam…”
Mobile phones used in inappropriate places or circumstances
The lack of etiquette really drives me mad, particularly in social situations. How many times do you see a group of people entering a restaurant and the first thing they do is get out their phones and start blipping away. Do they not realise how rude this is. Similarly people who when in direct conversation choose to answer their phone rather than continue a normal conversation. Best demonstrated by the character ‘Tilly’ played by Sally Phillips in the BBC comedy Miranda with her ‘Bear with, bear with’ comment – see here two minutes into the video.
People who deface their bodies with tattoos. Particularly the large scale tribal tattoos which seem so common these days. This one is totally incomprehensible to me. OK I can understand that matelots of a certain age have tattoos of anchors, chains, dragons, ropes and similar, but they at least have the excuse of being away on long voyages with nothing much else to occupy them in foreign ports.