Tagged: Britain

On The British Monarchy

An intelligent and interesting appraisal of the British Royal family and their possible future. From an American who knows a lot of stuff!

toritto

As a Brooklyn born kid who grew up in Coney Island I know little about royalty other than what I read in the papers.  Class differences are so important that no one is really permitted to talk about them freely.

In my corporate career I have never met royalty, but I have met nobles.

When I was about 30 years old I was part of a small team examining the books of the Rothschild Intercontinental Bank in London, which my employer (Don’t leave home without it!)  was considering, and eventually did purchase.  The portfolio consisted of a smattering of sovereign credits which is what one would expect of a Rothschild bank.

It was headed up at the time by one Ralph Thomas George Stonor Lord Camoys,  just a few years older than I, who later served as Lord Chamberlain of Great Britain from 1998 – 2000.  The Lord Camoys traced…

View original post 1,361 more words

‘Stepping Back’: Nice work if you can get it

You can’t have failed to notice that there has been some big news surrounding some of our Royal parasites today.

Prince Harry and his American wife, collectively known as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, have announced their intention to ‘step back’ from royal duties. They intend to split their time between a new life in North America, and some time back in the UK. (Presumably when the weather is nice.)

Speculation has been rife. Meghan has been upset by newspapers making unkind remarks about her clothing, apparently. Harry is only sixth in line to the throne, so pending an unprecedented royal disaster, he will never live to be a king. Harry has a rift with his brother William, about royal ‘directions’ he should be taking. There are lots of quotes from the couple of course, all intended to back up their reasons for leaving this country.

Meghan, 38, said she was told “you shouldn’t do it because the British tabloids will destroy your life”.

In an ITV documentary, she admitted motherhood was a “struggle” due to intense interest from newspapers.

Prince Harry also responded to reports of a rift between him and his brother William, Duke of Cambridge, by saying they were on “different paths”.

The duke, 35, said he and Prince William have “good days” and “bad days”.

He added: “We are brothers. We will always be brothers.

“We are certainly on different paths at the moment but I will always be there for him as I know he will always be there for me.

They are set to launch a new charity, apparently, and there are more rumours that Meghan intends to return to a career in acting.

“This geographic balance will enable us to raise our son with an appreciation for the royal tradition into which he was born, while also providing our family with the space to focus on the next chapter, including the launch of our new charitable entity.” (Harry)

The prince intends to give up the portion of his income provided by the UK taxpayers, but seems happy enough to continue to receive the annual small fortune bestowed on him by his father, drawn from revenues on the Duchy of Cornwall. (So, still ‘our’ money then.)

The couple has been quoted as saying that they feel more welcome in North America, as in the US, and Canada, than they do in Britain.

However, they do intend to keep hold of the free house they were given, Frogmore Cottage on the Windsor Park Estate of the Queen. Considering the UK taxpayer forked out £2.5 million to ‘refurbish the cottage to their taste’ just last year, that’s very kind of them, I am sure you will agree. Nice to have somewhere to pop back to, when Harry fancies a trip home.

I hope they leave soon, and never come back. Let’s see how well they do earning a living when they are not being paid by the state. Oh, I forgot, Prince Charles will still be handing over wads of cash to make sure they can buy groceries.

And my message to the couple is simple. Take the rest of them with you when you go.
Build a Royal Theme Park in America, and walk around waving at the crowds.
You have had enough practice.

Backlash Politics

So the Conservatives win again, with a bigger majority.

This despite having a leader who almost nobody likes, and policies that nobody really wants.
Unless they are very rich of course.

And despite promises by the opposition to make the NHS secure, nationalise transport and utilities, and give out free broadband.

All too easy to blame it all on Jeremy Corbyn. Supposedly, the public just don’t like him, and his leadership cost Labour the election, as well as losing many historically-held seats.
That’s not really the case though, we all know that.

The election was only ever about one thing, and that was Britain leaving the EU.

Since the summer of 2016, Leave voters have been derided for being racist, stupid, uninformed, misinformed, duped, and many other things, including apparently all being overweight. Not one of them was ever given the credit for understanding what they were voting for, because they were considered to be unintelligent, incapable of reason, and unable to comprehend anything. The Labour Party was taken over by people insisting on remaining in the EU, as was the Liberal Democrat Party. During the recent campaign, many Labour candidates (including the one where I live) openly stated that they would fight to cancel Article 50, and stay in Europe as a member of the EU.

The Liberal Democrat leader made staying in Europe the main feature of her party’s policies and platform. She lost her seat, and has resigned as leader.

In former Labour strongholds that had voted to leave the EU, Labour was defeated by a swing to the Right that was unprecedented in those communities.

This is the backlash. The revenge of those people deprived of democracy after voting Leave in the referendum in 2016, and winning that vote. Ever since, they have had to sit and watch as politicians and organisations attempted to overturn that vote, and unravel the whole democratic process we thought we lived by.

So now we have this government. One run by the rich, for the rich, and nobody knows how bad it will get over the next five years. This country may well have a increasingly right-wing Conservative government for the rest of my life.

Is anyone surprised? I’m not.

Gunboat Diplomacy

The BBC has just reported the arrival of a British warship in Ukraine. A government defence minister has been shown driving a Ukrainian navy patrol boat, and speaking to relatives of the sailors recently detained by the Russian navy. He has said that the presence of our warship is to send a ‘message’ to the Russian government, and to show British support for the Ukrainian position in this dispute. My response is simple. Why?

The turbulent history of this now-sovereign nation is the subject of record. Part of Russia until the 1917 revolution, they attempted to create an independent country outside of the control of the Soviet Union, and failed. It was broken up, with parts under the control of Poland, The Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia, and Romania. After the German invasion in WW2, many Ukrainians welcomed the occupying Nazis. They fought alongside them, acted as guards in concentration camps, and carried out recorded massacres of civilians, including the deaths of 100,000 Poles in Volhynia. Following the defeat of the Germans, some supporters remained active as ‘partisans’ until as late as 1950.

Eventually, Ukraine was granted the right to be a self-governing part of the Soviet Union, retaining its language, and becoming represented in the United nations. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Ukraine sought complete independence, which it achieved in 1991. Since 2000, politics in that country have become more focused on being part of Europe, and also featured a right-wing bias, with some people openly supporting and espousing ‘Nazi-style’ ideas and policies. In 2014, Russia annexed Crimea, supposedly due to the overwhelming support of the people in that region. This created an international incident that continues to this day, with both sides at loggerheads over historical claims to Crimea. There has been open warfare in the Donbass region, and ongoing incidents between the two countries, with the most recent being the seizure of two Ukrainian navy vessels by the Russians.

This is all very involved, and no doubt tragic for those involved. But it is not our business. It is not up to us to support a country with a dubious government, and a recent history of supporting Extreme Right ideals. No more is it our business to issue warnings or ‘messages’ to Russia, especially when we are in no position to ever back up those feeble threats. There was a time when the appearance of a British Gunboat on a foreign shore would signal an intent. That intent, rightly or wrongly, would have been backed up by the biggest navy in the world at the time, and a huge colonial war machine that was feared by every nation on Earth. But that time has gone, and has not existed since the 1950s. And if such things have to be used at all, there are many other places where it might have more effect, or be of more use. This cynical support of Ukraine is packed with ulterior motives, none of which are remotely to do with any real concern over the fate of some sailors, or the future of Crimea.

It is high time that Britain realised that the sun has long set on our former Empire. We have enough problems to deal with at home, instead of sabre-rattling to show support of a country that may not even deserve it. As a country, we need to get over ourselves, and face facts. It isn’t 1910 anymore, and someone in the Ministry of Defence needs to check the date on a calendar.

Brexit: The new Civil War

It seems my country is being consumed by the debate over the referendum result. Friends are falling out, families are divided, and the polarisation of opinion has rarely been seen in my lifetime. This is more than falling out over a vote. Much more than ‘agreeing to disagree’ about a point of view. There is a bitterness behind it all; a burning resentment, often bordering on hatred.

The sides have been chosen, the lines drawn in so many sands, and nobody will be shaken from their beliefs. Not since 1642 has this country felt such division, though this time the weapons are words, rather than swords and guns. There was a vote, and 48% of those who voted did not get the result they wanted, or perhaps more accurately, expected. Ever since, through the mainstream media, in parliament, on blogs, and in any way that they can, that 48% (and those who didn’t even bother to vote) have been trying to overturn the referendum. Meanwhile, they have stalled it, protested against it in the streets, and campaigned against it in every single way possible.
That is their right of course, in a democratic society that provided the referendum they lost.

But what if it had gone the other way, the way they wanted? Would these Remain advocates have tolerated such vociferous opposition from those who had voted to Leave, but lost? I suggest not.

Leave voters like myself are made to feel as if we are simply stupid, or much worse. Insults flow thick and fast.
We are racist.
We are xenophobes,
We are uneducated.
We are not politically aware.
We are not ‘travellers’.
We are overweight. (Yes, one study looked at average weight)
We live in places where foreigners are hated.
We are not urbane.
We have no sophistication.
We have no world view.
We are all Right-Wing supporters, little better than Nazis.
We yearn for Empire, so are imperialists at heart.

Even those who don’t insult us directly do so by default.
We were duped.
We were fooled.
We are mere pawns of big business.
We are sheep for the use of capitalists.
We didn’t understand the implications.
We couldn’t comprehend those big words.
It was our poor education that made us vote the ‘wrong way’.
We took too much notice of propaganda.
We believed everything we were told.
We couldn’t be expected to be bright enough to have made up our own minds.

The latest cry is that ‘Its not too late”. Well, for those of us who voted to Leave, it is too late. We voted to Leave, and that’s what we should be doing. If the referendum is overturned, it will be too late for the democratic process we supposedly live by, that’s for sure.

Of course, the Remain voters contained a higher percentage of university graduates. They were all free-thinkers, many of them urbane city-dwellers with the ‘correct attitude’. They are mulitculturalists at heart; well read, well travelled, and up to date on world events. They are the intelligentsia of this nation, the keepers of morals, and the libertarian ideals. The best of the best, undoubtedly.

But it is unlikely that 48% of the population here fit those criteria. Any more than the other 52% are what they are constantly accused of being. They lost that vote, and it is unlikely that they will ever forgive the people who voted the other way. The bitterness is tangible now, and set to last for a generation, or longer.

This new civil war is not over. It has a long way to go yet.

Mosul: Behind the headlines

When you look at news reports of the fighting in Mosul, it is easy to overlook some of the basic facts about this huge city. Until recently, it had a population of almost 1.9 million people, and is the second largest city in Iraq after Baghdad. This makes it almost twice the size of Birmingham, England’s second largest city, and more than three times larger than Boston, in the USA.

Just imagine if those well-known cities were under occupation by a well-organised army of religious fundamentalists, and being attacked by forces from their own country helped by the US or a foreign power, as well as being bombed by British and American aircraft. Think how difficult it would be to deal with the potential for causing civilian casualties, or choosing which of the people you encounter is friend or foe. The maze of streets, the apartment blocks, rooftops, factories, industrial areas, and large airports. A major river, numerous bridges, shopping areas, markets, schools, hospitals, religious buildings, and administrative offices. Every wall or fence a potential hiding place. Every rooftop or balcony a spot for a sniper, and the ability for the enemy to hide in plain sight among crowds of distressed non-combatants.

For almost three years, this city has been a battleground between warring factions; international interventionists, and government troops. If you live in a city, or have ever lived in one, then you can only try to imagine what this must be like, as I do. Even allowing for the large numbers who have fled Mosul, it is estimated that more than 750,000 civilians remain there, possibly 1 million. That is still much larger than the population of Boston, and countless other western cities. By comparison, the largest city close to where I live is Norwich. This is the biggest city in the whole county, and covers a substantial area, including many suburbs, and an international airport. I cannot imagine fighting on the same scale happening there, yet the population is only 133,000.

Another fact overlooked, is that many of the residents remaining in Mosul actually welcomed the forces of Islamic State as liberators. They had previously suffered religious persecution from Iraqi government troops and sectarian militias, and were happy to have the intervention by the fundamentalists. Many joined them willingly, and some still fight alongside them to this day. Of course for many others, living under IS was unacceptable, as they were cruelly treated for many reasons, including religious ones. But as parts of the city are recaptured by the Iraqi army, their foreign allies, the police units, and the ‘Golden Brigade’, many civilians have been arrested, detained without trial as suspected members of IS. Many others now live in fear of reprisals by the army and militia units, as the old enmities between Sunni and Shia Muslims resurface in the ‘liberated’ areas of the city.

Naturally, I am no supporter of Islamic State. This horrible organisation has no place in the modern world. But we need to look behind the news reports, the five-minutes of combat footage, and the talking heads interviews, and to be aware that replacing one form of terror with another might well be what we are helping to achieve. Not only in Iraq, but in Syria too.

Guest post: An American’s view

I was very pleased to receive this guest post from Ed Westen in America. It is always good to hear some opinions from the other side of the Atlantic. Especially when they are well-informed, and from the heart.

“Your REDFLAGFLYING post today, “Trump and May and Corbyn,” got me to thinking, especially your last question: “Or is Democracy only good when you get what you want?” In the US, we say that our Constitution exists to protect the minority (read: those out of power) while working the will of the majority. In the UK, you enshrine minority protection with the concept, actualized, of “a loyal opposition.” The whole idea is that policy changes should neither disenfranchise those who lost an election nor make it impossible for them to gain power the next time. So, there are limits on the power of the majority. Under the US Constitution there are limits as to what the majority (winner in the last election) can do in policy area, vague and ill-defined limits, but limits none-the-less. I should think completely privatizing medicine and health care in the UK would breach one of those policy limits; but cutting away at it might be possible. In the US, overt discrimination would breach a limit; but imposing, say, voter registration requirements blacks and other minorities might find difficult to meet may, in some carefully worded laws, pass successfully given the right composition on the courts.

It turns out that neither of us live in a democracy. Rather we live in “moneyarchies.” Those with the money pick candidates for office. The rest of us pick from the choices the moneyed elite present to us. Those with money are on the Right. That is they are a conservative force in our societies. Their control over elections, media and commerce (especially jobs for the rest of us) gives them almost complete control over policy. A large segment of our populations, for reasons of class, race, simply being “rich wannabees” or having been brainwashed by what they are allowed to see, becomes their voter support.

However, make no mistake about it, even the candidates the moneyed class offers us on the Left will largely do the bidding of the moneyed elites. The moneyed elite is not a uniform oligarchy. No, it is divided by the same quest for power over each other as they have for power over us. Think of their conflicts as similar to the Wars of The Roses—a lot of foot soldier causalities, and very few royals hurt.

Strangely, the moneyed classes do not quite understand the nature or source of their wealth. By that I mean they do not know how money is created. They do not know that the more people active in their capitalist markets, the more wealth is actually available to them. They do not know their insistence on dominating politics with their choices of candidates to offer us retards the growth of their and our wealth.

Public policy in your and my countries is based on a tug of war involving what will be funded and who will pay. It is largely viewed as a zero-sum game. Take from one group to pay for something for another. What very few see, is that largely it is the rich taking from the rest of society. If the Right wins, one group of rich people get policy preference. If the Left wins another group of rich people get a slightly different set of policy preferences. This state of affairs will continue as long as private money dictates who the candidate for public office are. AND, as long as money is created by funneling it through the rich. Make financing public elections with private money illegal and democratize the creation of money and you not only change the rules of the game, you will change the policy outcomes.”

Ed Westen, 2017.

You can read more about Ed’s ideas here.
https://democratizemoney.wordpress.com/
And his entertaining daily blog, including fiction and photographs, is here.
https://deartedandjody.wordpress.com/blog/

The Paris attacks, and the refugees

I have spent a long time over the last few days, watching the rolling news coverage of the tragic events in Paris. As more details emerge about the victims, and those responsible, the news media here has latched on to one thing in particular.

One of the attackers had only recently arrived in France. He travelled through Greece and Serbia during October as part of the large number of people fleeing from the war in Syria, seeking refuge in Europe. News reporters and respected political commentators are now seizing on this, and asking the obvious question. How many others are claiming to be refugees, when their intentions are to carry out attacks in Europe?

The British Home Secretary was asked this very question on the BBC this morning. She was quick to calm any fears about those arriving in the UK, as she was sure that they had been vetted sufficiently by the UNHCR. That is hardly the point though. It was always a possibility that some militants would arrive under the cover of being refugees, and this is virtually impossible to stop. Once in Europe, they could team up with those born here, or already living here, and carry out their plans. For that matter, they could arrive posing as affluent tourists or businessmen, on scheduled airlines, or by train. Anyone determined and fanatical enough to want to do these things is always going to find a way to get into Europe.

The damage they have done to their victims is now a matter of record, and will forever be reviled. But what of the damage done to the innocent refugees, people mostly of the same religion, seeking shelter in a far-off European capital? They will now have to live under suspicion, suffering the backlash from nationals of those countries who will no longer trust them, and may even attack them in some idea of revenge. Right-wing parties and political extremists will enjoy renewed support; and the closing of borders, as well as the removal of previous travel agreements and concessions does not bode well for those refugees still hoping to find peace, and a new life.

All over, bar the shouting.

Well the 2015 election is almost at a close. My worst fears have been realised. Another five years of smug Conservative rule, detrimental to the NHS, the youth of Britain, and the lot of the ordinary working person. The Liberals have paid the price for accepting to be in coalition with the Tories. They have lost almost all their seats, and their leader has resigned. As a political force in this country, they have ceased to exist.

Labour have also been punished. They elected a leader who had no personality, no leadership skills, and failed to connect with anyone, even his own party’s most ardent supporters. Writing off the surge of nationalism in Scotland has all but wiped that party off the map there, and many of the highest placed and most experienced Labour members have lost their seats. The few gains they did make were not enough to leave them in credible opposition, which will now depend on reluctant alliances with former ‘enemies’, and still not muster enough votes to force any defeats.

Scotland has spoken. Despite not taking the opportunity for complete independence in the recent referendum, the Scottish people have voted overwhelmingly for nationalism, by returning all but three members as representatives of the Scottish National Party. This country is now divided politically, if not by physical borders. UKIP failed to capitalise on their supposed popularity. By concentrating on a single issue, immigration and fear of foreigners, they lost their way. Even their leader failed to win a place in parliament, and resigned accordingly.

Miliband has also resigned as Labour leader. This is a prime example of too little, too late. He should never have been there in the first place, and Labour deserve the ignominy of defeat for ever thinking he could win them an election. Socialism in any form is now almost non-existent in this country. The defeated parties will move further to the Right, in the hope of attracting support, and the voters seem to have already moved there. The much-lauded youth vote failed to make any difference whatsoever, despite some increases in turnout.

Not only has Cameron won, he has managed to force the resignation of the three leaders of the main opposition parties on the same day. No wonder he is looking very pleased with himself. He has a working majority, and no credible opposition to have to worry about.

I now have to continue to live in another Right-Wing European country, run by the men in suits, for the benefit of international financiers, multi-national companies, the rich, and the aristocracy. Is Cuba accepting migrants, I wonder?

Another cuckoo in the nest

On an average day in the UK, approximately 2000 babies are born. I had to look that up, and it’s a lot more than I would have guessed. So yesterday, those 2000 babies entered this world unnoticed, except by their immediate family, and attendant medical staff. This is how it is every day, and how it should be. There was an exception though. A member of the Royal Family gave birth to her second child. A one-day old baby who is now currently fifth in line to the throne of Great Britain. If you watched any news at all, or read a newspaper, or perhaps an Internet news feed, you couldn’t have missed this event. The BBC, funded by the public with licence fee payment, sent a team of reporters and camera crews to report on the event, live from the pavement outside the hospital. They stood for hours, speculating on the child’s gender, what name it might be given, and how well the mother would recover. Then they repeated the coverage once again, as soon as the baby emerged with its parents.

They also interviewed the crowds outside, some of whom had been waiting there for fourteen days, camped on the pavement, using the toilet facilities and snack bars in the main hospital building. FOURTEEN DAYS! Their loyalty and devotion was suitably rewarded, when they were presented with cakes and pastries, courtesy of the proud parents. They gushed in interviews with reporters, gasped in wonder at the new arrival, and swooned with delight when the family group emerged. I don’t recognise these people as being from the same country as me. Living in the place where I live, and having experienced life in modern Britain, as I have. When the sole purpose of their lives is to wait outside a building for the birth of a member of the Royal Family, I start to think that there is a lot more wrong with this country than I ever believed possible.

Specialist Royal commentators were wheeled in by the media, to give their privileged insights into everything, from how much rest the mother will need, to how soon the grandparents will leave it before visiting. They made a great deal of how ‘ordinary’ this couple is. ‘Just like any other young couple, proud parents’, said one. Except that hardly any other couples have the protection of personal armed bodyguards around the clock. They don’t get to collect their baby in a car that costs £75,000 – and not get a parking ticket – before deciding whether to return to their luxury home on a private estate in Central London, or instead choose their other luxury home, on a private estate in Norfolk. The proud father will soon be flying a helicopter for the East of England Air Ambulance, so it made sense to go to Norfolk. Of course it did.

Just the kind of decision made by every ordinary Dad whose baby was born yesterday.

When I was younger, this appalling sycophancy and downright lying made me angry, and I was full of hate for these parasitic royals. People said it was not ‘their fault’, and that they ‘didn’t ask for the job’. So what stops them walking away, having some self-respect, and living that ‘normal life’ that all their supporters claim that they live? Let them sort out childcare when they are both at work, struggle to save the deposit on a two-bedroom house in the suburbs, and worry about job cuts, redundancies, and no-hours contracts, like so many of the parents of the other 1999 children born on Saturday. Now I am old, I don’t have the energy to hate anymore. I just feel drained by it all.

Perhaps adoration of the royals is an escape. A fantasy of belonging that allows you to forget the humdrum, and makes you feel a part of something that is a centuries-old sham. I don’t know, because I have never felt it. All I see is another snout in the trough, someone else for the public to finance; one more cuckoo in an ever-growing nest.