Medical cover - a can of worms revealed 10/10/2019
FROM GARRY S
This week, those of you living here with medical cover via an S1 received the “Letter” telling you that at this time, there is no reciprocal agreement with the UK and France. Health care will be covered by the UK for 6 months - deal or no deal, the EHIC card however will cease to cover anyone on the 31st October if there is a no deal!
For myself and my wife, the biggest problem is not knowing!
(NB - To add to the confusion:- elsewhere, the French government have promised us two years cover if there is no deal… Data Officer)
“The French government has already passed a law that guarantees health cover for Brits in France for two years in the event of a no-deal Brexit. Although that decree is dependent on Britain providing reciprocal treatment to French in the UK.” (Source : The Local)
Now, I have been guilty of the “burying your head in the sand” syndrome. I have been married twice in France, I am not on an S1 I am RSI/RAM but have never taken my previous wife off my health care, my current wife is on an S1 so I know I needed to do something, but to be honest although I can speak French quite well, I do have trouble reading and writing French so have been putting this off.
This week, I have had to do something about this because after ringing our insurance company Allianz, following receiving the letter about my wife losing her health care, I asked how much would it cost for her health care on insurance. I was told that people under 65 could get insurance making up the two-thirds over and above what we get from our carte Vitale but anyone over 65 (my wife is 71) could not get cover that would also cover pre-existing ailments. I asked if they knew anyone who may be able to help?
I was given the contact of a business who specialises in UK citizens living in France. I rang explained my problem and was told the fee would be £50 pounds/60 euros an hour. I asked to go ahead.
Surprisingly, I had two completed French forms to sign, plus a comprehensive letter for my self and my wife to sign with all the documents I needed to send - which my Mayor certified, plus I had several email conversations and telephone calls.
The bill was 60 euros. I will let you know how things transpire. In the meantime, here is their website: but please remember the adage “Buyer Beware”. So far…. they have my recommendation: www.yourfrenchmatters.com
So don’t be a Garry - it’s really time to get your acts together on this!
I will be back next week looking at what will happen after we really know if or if there is going to be a deal or no deal (or will we? - Data Officer).
Also I am going to give my opinion on weather we should vote tactically or not - of course, this may well differ from everyone else’s opinion, but that is part of the luxury of me having this newsblog!
I just hope you all are now registered if you are able to vote, Up here in the North, I have encouraged 4 people to register who had not registered to vote since moving here. If not, there is still time: follow this link from our front page:https://www.libdemsinfrance.org/
Note from Data Officer. The situation is that the S1 cover will probably be ending from the UK either in 6 month after Brexit day or after two years (see above). This was provided here through your Carte Vitale, normally through CPAM. However, if this comes about, you will need to register under the state PUMA scheme (for whcih there may well be a charge) I will post reference on our website and in Newsletters when all is clear(er).
The abuse of the housing right-to-buy 01/10/2019
FROM GARRY S
So now we're at an 11 - nil loss for BoJo (only 3 more than Man City scored against Watford *) and following his enforced return from his weekend break in the big Apple to return to Parliament, he followed the lead of Geoffrey Cox QC PC MP who said that Parliament was “dead” had “no moral right to sit” etc. It was in that vein that Johnson continued and in fact descended beyond that into his “Humbug” comment in reply to a plea to moderate langauge. I believe parliament should reframe in their language. Bearing in mind that in my opinion, the Prime Minister also lied to MY Queen, all I can say is:
“Off to the Tower with him!"
I thank Jeremy Corbyn in helping me square the circle about now being a dual National (British and Irish); My British side a monarchist and my Irish a republican. Showing similar duality and inconsistency, Corbyn seems to be able to be a Jack of all views but certainly not a master of his party.
Brian gave us insightful comments on his attendance at the Liberal Democrat Autumn conference in Bournemouth in last week’s News blog,
I agree entirely with his point about about the housing crisis. The “Right to buy” scheme in my opinion was a disgraceful Tory law. The fact that people could buy a house they had paid rent in over years at a discount in its self is difficult to argue against, however the way it was brought in, is.:-
The first problem was that council receipts from the sale of houses could not be reinvested in building new council properties. Then there was the abuse by some people who used their right to buy, I say this because I have personal examples of this happening whilst in business
Before I moved to France I had a business in the UK asan Independent Financial Adviser (IFA) and as part of that role I arranged Mortgages for people. Sometimes these nortgages involved a right-to-On one particualr occasion, the mortgage went through with out any problem and all seemed initally fine. However within what I recall as a year or two, the owner asked if I could help with a further advance of mortgage money for a new kitchen and new windows. All seemed above board, since they had estimates and invoices and so on for the work. The lenders were content and the extra mortgage payments 'were not a problem'.
However, the reality was that they received the money but after some time, it became apparent that the work was never done; the people did not keep up their repayments and eventaully were repossessed. However because they had a young family, they were then rehoused in another council house in their region on the south coast of Kent. Now that is abuse!
* As a Millwall supporter I should not really comment on Football scores!
Revoke is a start - Boldness is needed in more areas from us -Commentary 26/09/2019
FROM Brian E.
As I strolled along the cliff path in Bournemouth last week, a wave of nostalgia washed gently round me. The resort was a favourite holiday destination for my family in the 1950s, and for the first time since then I rode the little funicular cabin up the cliffs from the beach in the late summer sun. Roaming the Conference Centre with a smudgy self-portrait round my neck was a tad Proustian too, recalling the twice-yearly ordeals in the Palais des Congrès in Cannes which became part of my professional life many decades later. The difference this time was that I was free to dip in and out as I pleased, and I must confess I did not feel obliged to remain glued to all the minutiae of conference business.
The debate on Article 50 was, however, an unmissable event. I have been convinced for some time that a bold statement to Revoke is the best way forward for us, and said as much in a recent piece for LibDem Voice.
Some speakers gave voice to Gary’s concerns (see last week) about how the policy would play in Leave parts of the country, and it’s true it could risk sounding high-handed in contrast to a second referendum. The caveat, that we would only go straight to Revoke if we win the next election with a parliamentary majority, seems to me to satisfy the question of democratic legitimacy. The downside (as has already transpired), is that it becomes a more complicated sell in interviews, if only because spokespeople are forced to admit that we would need, frankly, a less-than-feasible electoral triumph to be in that position.
Nevertheless, in the end my card went up as part of the large majority which carried the motion. Politically it gives Jo Swinson a clear, simple message, distinct from the other parties and a sincere expression of the overwhelming Lib Dem view. Predictably the usual suspects immediately tried to decry it as undemocratic but that’s easy to refute, and the clarity of her position has already given Jo some valuable media cut-through in the aftermath of the conference.
Never mind the small stuff…
In my last contribution I called for the conference agenda to feature bold statements on the big issues facing the country. The Article 50 motion certainly did that, but otherwise the rest of the agenda was underwhelming.
Social housing has always been an issue of particular concern to me: in my lifetime I have seen the post war stock of well-built, decently-planned council houses decimated by right-to-buy, with no meaningful commitment by successive governments to replace, let alone augment, the number of homes available for social rent.
How disappointing then, that the only Conference motion relating to housing was a move to repeal part of the 1988/2004 Housing Act. Of course it’s true that there is a crisis in private rented housing, but the real scandal concerns the least well-off. It is a national disgrace that the most vulnerable in our society are condemned to live insecurely in insanitary, sub-standard dwellings, and the social costs in terms of mental and physical health, education and financial security are incalculable.
The start of Conference - are YOU A “Revoker”?- NEWS BLOG 15/09/2019
FROM GarRY S.
I start this week's piece with what has gone on at the start of the LibDem conference. A big thanks to those from our French Local Party who were there on our behalf, it's good to know we have representation there, fighting our corner. I look forward to reading Brian’s piece next week, which I believe may cover some of his experience of the Conference.
Here’s a link to all the motion that will have been debated - and I have no doubt that the outcome of these will be loaded up onto the LIbDem site before long. https://www.libdems.org.uk/conference-autumn-19-motions
“I don’t think, from my experience in Labour, that it will recover. Some people say it will take time to get back. I don’t think it will recover at all. I’m glad to be out. My values didn’t change, but the party I joined has become a shell of what it was.” (Quote from Luciana Berger on crossing the floor to LibDems from Labour)
Although I was not able to attend the Conference, I was able to watch the BBC Parliament channel. The debate I was most interested in watching was on the vote to “Revoke Article 50” if we get into power at the next election.
My thoughts in advance of the debate were that this was not a good idea. I believe in the second referendum above all else and found mysefl in agreement with the argument from an attendee from Sunderland. This person argued that a “Revoke article 50” commitment may be OK in liberal London but may not be good for other parts of the Country.
I started out fully understanding that argument: but when another speaker reminded us of the 6,000,000 people who signed the revoke article 50 petition (of which myself and my wife were two) and after listening to the whole debate, I concluded that it was right for this rule to be passed. As Winston Churchill once said “Those who never change their minds never change anything” .
Harking back to the beginning of the week, last Monday I had spent all day watching Parliament on the TV (much to my wife’s dismay). It was the last day of Parliament sitting before it was suspended for 5 weeks. I saw John Bercow give his resignation speech. I have to tell you I had to use several tissues while MPs from all parties were commending him on how he had kept Parliament a free democracy. I list him now as my joint favourite Tory MP - along with Ken Clarke.
Tom Watson said we should have a second referendum before we have a general election, he said that Labour should unambiguously and unequivocally should campaign for remain. However Jeremy Corbyn said there should be an election and Labour would get a better deal from the EU and put it to the people. Sir Keir Starmer said that in any deal that was put on the table he would vote for remain.
My quote of the week comes from Stephen Kinnock, who on Wednesday said that “Labour have had more positions over Brexit than the Kamasutra”.
Another curious incident was totally unrelated to the current UK political shenanigans. There was a mixture of pomp and oddity when Robert Mugabe's coffin after his death was returned to Zimbabwe, draped with flags but also with what appeared to be this way up "this way up" arrows on his coffin.
My last "smile of the week" came from Emily Thornberry on the Peston show, who, while talking about the government's adviser called him a “Pound shop Rasputin” .
We need some smiles to get us through the turmoil - and I look forward to the good plans that will be coming out of the LibDem conference.
What a Momentous week that was - NEWS BLOG 08/09/2019
FROM Brian E
Momentous is an over-used word, but it is justified to describe the events of last week in Parliament. For one thing, after years of stasis and false dawns, an unlikely alliance of opposition parties finally established a majority for a bill to prevent the Tory Brexiteers engineering a No Deal exit from the EU. Like many, I’m sure, I was glued to the TV as the debate unfolded. MPs spoke with commitment and passion, and not before time appeared to be aware of the immense implications of their decisions. The PM and his party seemed caught in the headlights, falling back on their tired rhetoric of surrender and betrayal.
For me, the conduct of the campaign was particularly impressive. The options were weighed and well understood, the tactical steps intelligently planned, and above all, narrow party interests were skilfully managed to ensure that the line held. The result was a victory for grown-up consensual politics, which, ironically perhaps, is one thing mainland Europe is often very good at.
Tories… History will judge you harshly
There is work still to be done, since in this day and age it seems measures may be necessary to ensure that a Conservative Prime Minister does not find a way to elude the legal will of Parliament – as I write, there is talk of MPs, including some sacked Tories, taking court action against the PM to force him to obey the law.
At one point last week ‘former’ Tory Nicholas Soames accused his fellow Etonian of trashing Britain’s reputation on the world stage, but of course he should admit that the blame spreads much wider than that. Cameron’s myopic and disastrous decision to call the referendum, and the unexpected result, were followed by Theresa May’s incompetent stewardship of the country, the Brexit process, and her own party. Parliament sleepwalked through the process, and so we find ourselves in the current mess, as democracy fights for its life against the unscrupulous and opportunist Johnson.
By the way, I do not subscribe to the current fashion for blaming everything on Dominic Cummings. Politics is riddled with misfit would-be Svengalis and cartoon attack dogs – Johnson chose his for a reason, but the decisions are Johnson’s, and the buck stops with him alone.
Referenda… Not Another One!
I called Cameron’s decision disastrous, and not only because of the lazy and inept way the question was framed, and the inadequate, deceitful process which followed. In my view referenda are an abomination in a representative democracy and the latest one has lavishly illustrated the shortcomings, most importantly the ease with which they can be hijacked for extreme ends. There will be those who affect a weary exasperation with the prospect of both an imminent General Election and a second referendum. I have no time for this – as Lib Dems well know, even under a disgracefully unfair electoral system, every chance to cast a vote is infinitely precious. And as for the Brexiteers’ trope that another Peoples’ Vote would be an affront to democracy, I say a ‘once in a lifetime vote’ is not democracy – it looks much more like fascism.
I’m off to Conference next week, so there should be no shortage of fascinating stuff to report. A member called David Becket recently wrote an appeal for the agenda to be revitalised, giving room for clear, bold statements on the big issues of the day. I must say I agree entirely. As David said, the eyes of the country are on us, thanks to the chaos in the two largest parties, and, I would add, as a result of Jo Swinson’s remarkable cut-through in these turbulent times. Sadly, I read the agenda with mounting dismay. As it stands we risk playing to all the worst stereotypes – preoccupation with worthy pet issues and a void where the strategic visions should be. Education; housing; the economy – for everyone’s sake, give us some big ideas to vote for. With the other parties in disarray, we miss this chance at our peril.
Glued to our parliamentary seats in our lounges … NEWS BLOG 01/09/2019
From Garry S
This is the first time I have written since Jo Swinston won the leadership race. Congratulations to her - I have to admit I voted for Ed, however, that was not the first time I have voted in a Liberal/Libdem leadership election for the runner up. In 1988 I voted for Alan Beith when Paddy Ashdown won, in hindsight, I may have been wrong that time, what a great leader Paddy turned out to be.
Our Country’s ‘great leader’ went to Berlin and Paris last week, I had a response from friends and colleagues at a meeting we had last Monday in my garden (committee de fete etc) who to a person were incredulous about Boris Johnson putting his feet on the table when he met Macron. There were nine of them and I believe none of them are happy with Macron but could not believe the arrogance of Johnson. Well done Boris, you are not helping Anglo-French relations one iota for Brits living in France. I am a bit of an exception because everyone here knows I now have Irish citizenship!
This week has all been about Boris Trump’s discussion to ask the Queen to allow him to suspend parliament, there will be three attempts in the courts of Scotland, Northern Ireland amd England this week to over turn his debacle of justice (and he’s a person unelected by the people, but by a vote of 92,153 Tory members). Incidentally, 61% of all Tory members are reported to have said they would dump Scotland (the Union) to get Brexit (source: Mock the week 27/08/2019 - my favourite news channel!).
My quote of the week comes from Neil Coyle - MP for Bermondsey and Old Southwark (where I was born. When asked on Sky news what he thought about the PM’s decision to suspend parliament said “Boris is a DICK”. You can’t speak plainer than that…
I really look forward to sitting in my chair next week watching the TV from Tuesday, it could be do or die for us all! Plan for the worst, fight for the best.
(Brian E and Garry S are now writing alternate weeks with each other - other volunteer bloggers are welcome - send in to firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to find out about this)
BRIAN’S GETTING HOT UNDER THE COLLAR… News Blog 25/08/2019
It must be Revoke - It’s too late for anything else….
When Jo Swinson meets Jeremy Corbyn and other leaders next week, she will have the chance to put forward the only message worth delivering – Article 50, as I wrote last week, must be revoked before the Brexit deadline.
Forget about the sticking plaster of avoiding No Deal, the country urgently needs a solution which removes the enduring tyranny of an artificial deadline created largely by the ineptitude of the May administration.
Corbyn’s talks could be the most significant step so far, but if they fail, time pressure remains Johnson’s strongest ally, pushing the country towards an irrevocable outcome which only the most extreme of leavers really want. If no one cuts through the tangle of narrow self-interest and conflicting agendas which has bedevilled every previous proposal, the danger is that these talks too will dissolve into disaccord, recrimination and failure.
MPs have wasted far too much time bogged down in concocted compromises, parliamentary manoeuvring and procedural sleight of hand, when what is needed is a radical re-set, opening doors instead of closing them. There may just be time for all the factions to unite, but it must be around revoking Article 50, the only way out which makes moral and political sense.
Shouting at the TV – How dare you decide the will of the people?
I find myself in the grip of growing fury when the likes of Jacob Rees-Mogg and Marc Francois get away time and again with the facile assertion that a second referendum would be somehow less democratic than the first, self-righteously declaring it a betrayal of the will of the people. At heart they don’t care at all about respecting the will of the people – if they did, they would welcome confirmation of it. They are just petrified that their ideological project, squeezed through on a false prospectus, really doesn’t reflect the majority view.
As a news addict, I consume a great deal of political coverage, but I have never seen them confronted in a clear and hard-hitting way by journalists or, I’m afraid to say, even by our own leaders. I did hear the former Labour advisor Ayesha Hazarika, speaking on a recent ‘Any Questions’, accuse the ERG of ‘fetishizing’ the 2016 result, but her remark was just an anguished interjection, and all but drowned out by the presenter introducing the next question. For those in the bubble, and I include LibDem insiders in this, it could be that calling out such nonsense sounds like a statement of the blindingly obvious. Out in the world, the question is central to the debate, and the hypocrisy must be exposed, loud and clear.
Thanks – for nothing…
In common with a number of contributors to this site, I forced myself through the various administrative hoops necessary to obtain my Titre de Séjour. When the little plastic token of legitimacy finally arrived,my Europhile heart was warmed by the legend ‘Séjour permanent’. However, on closer inspection I saw that it also said ‘Citoyen UE/EEE/Suisse’. Nonplussed, I did a bit of research and sure enough, it seems that as soon as Britain leaves the EU, the card is no longer valid. Like a tiny bureaucratic chocolate teapot, the thing looks pretty, but becomes useless at the very moment it is required.
*Small crumb of comfort. When Christina, LibDems in France Data Officer received her Titre de Sejour, she was told it should mean anything ele that had to be applied for eventually would mean “less documentation would be asked to be produced” as the titre de sejour would negate some of the need….
WELCOME to the first of our new newsbloggers - Brian Edmonds.
SO, let’s get cracking! Here’s Brian’s 15/08/2019 take on the present politics:
Politics – Where do you want me to start…?
What a momentous time to begin to write about British politics – how could I resist the invitation to give Garry some respite and, I hope, spark some debate? There is presently something of a summer lull; much posturing by all sides, but little action likely until Parliament reconvenes. By way of introduction, I’ll start with a quick run round the issues that exercise me most….
Europe – What have they done with my dreams?
I have felt profoundly European since I first travelled here in the sixties. Like most LibDems in France, I’d guess, the European project has been part of my political consciousness all my adult life.
The good the EU has done is profound, and often taken for granted, but I have watched with increasing anger as my youthful idealism has been betrayed. The growth of the power of the Commission, and the appropriation of its influence by a class of self-serving, self-aggrandizing Eurocrats fills me with despair.
Eager to assume the demeanour of world statesmen, yet with no direct mandate from anyone, they are devoid of answers when confronted with the real problems – the Eurozone crisis; the migrant and refugee crisis; the scandalous levels of fraud and waste – that face us now as Europeans.
There is no inconsistency in my mind between support for the European vision and a deep dissatisfaction with the people entrusted with its care.
Brexit – The worst possible answer to some very good questions
The understanding that you can be profoundly angry with the EU, yet still believe it’s in our best interests to remain, is a position rarely given much exposure in today’s polarised Britain. Among the terrible weaknesses of the Remain campaign was the fact that its advocates never found a convincing way to sell such a seriously defective product. Of course, there was also the fact that its leader and principal spokesman was the Conservative Prime Minister, a self-satisfied and divisive figure whose backside many disaffected citizens considered ripe for a good kicking. But above all, to focus only on the negatives of leaving was never a winning strategy.
Parliament – Time for our MPs to start acting with honour
As the stalemate and confusion at Westminster continues, it is clear to me that the overwhelming majority of our MPs have shamefully betrayed the trust of the British people. To troop through the lobbies in support of the flawed concept of the original referendum, then of article 50, without responding to the full implications of those decisions, is in my view a clear dereliction of duty. Whether out of misplaced loyalty, self-interest, inability to think outside the Westminster box, or simple inertia, they have made a series of terrible mistakes. There is undoubtedly a powerful argument for a second referendum, but first our MPs must act honourably, revoke Article 50 before it’s too late, and reset the whole process.
The LibDems – Work in progress?
The party is clearly still struggling to recover from the 2015 collapse, with many parts of the organisation operating on a shoestring. The communications operation in particular seems chaotic to me, often ill-judged and amateurish in tone and presentation. ‘Bollocks to Brexit’… really? Importantly, Social Media may seem like the future, but the party should remember that there is more to discourse than Facebook and Twitter.
Our Leader – Fresh air and a clear head
I re-joined the LibDems this year partly because I wanted to vote for Jo Swinson. Now I’m sure we made the right choice. Labour’s proposal to lead an interim government is risible on so many levels, but it offered Jo her first real political opportunity, and she seized it joyfully. Incisive, articulate and appropriately provocative, she stepped right up and put Corbyn in his place, while the usual culprits are slithering and manoeuvring. Dominic Grieve, for example, is always lauded as an honourable man, but to suggest his flirtation with Corbyn is anything more than a ruse to unsettle Johnson is laughable. Jo’s views on Corbyn’s abilities were on record – it would be unthinkable to endorse him as leader, and the backlash just shows that the other main parties see her as a real threat. The possibility of Clarke or Harman as an interim PM is credible, and she is the one talking to them. If the LibDems can pull this off in the next few months the credit to Jo will be enormous. She can afford to be modest now – her time will come.
We are still looking for other bloggers/news followers who can help us out with these weekly pieces for variety of tone and style. If you are interested in this voluntary role - please email to email@example.com
Garry has been absent from this page for a while - now he's back with a vengeance!
We are looking for other bloggers/news followers who can help us out with these weekly pieces for variety of tone and style. If you are interested in this voluntary role - please email to firstname.lastname@example.org
I have had a little enforced holiday, the moderator was concerned that my comments about Blimpy Boris may impede him being taken to court for inaccuracies, like when he said he would lie in front of the bulldozers at Heathrow if there was a 2nd runway, I said I was sure he would because he lied in front of that bus!
Following my request for help writing this weekly Blog, it seems nobody stepped forward to help put their mark on it - why?
Ok, I will carry on, I will also ask people outside our French Libdem community to contribute through our moderator email@example.com. The more views the merrier -(we reserve the right to edit)
We now have two Tory’s promising to leave on the 31st October, (sadly they mean leave the EU and not their posts) with no deal if they can’t get a deal. It's such a worry for us living in France.All the more reason to become a member of the Liberal Democrats if you are not already. We need a strong opposition and we have not seen much evidence of that from the stumbling Labour Party, staggering from one internal crisis to another.
Anyhow, to another matter: Recently I got my surprise present. I received confirmation that I am now an Irish citizen, FECK BREXIT!
This un-nerved my wife. She asked if I would stay if she had to leave. Of course not! If she has to leave, we go together, but now we would find a home in Ireland, not the UK.. Éire go bráth! Vive la France!
Yes, I am still angry. Why should we be put in this position? We came to to the EU under clearly defined rights, only to find them possibly torn away overnight.
Also, as a new Irish citizen, I can now ask why is it the Northern Ireland Assembly had no representation since the breakdown of trust brought down the Assembly and Executive on 26 January 2017, my birthday! (more about that here). Yet those members who do not look after their electorate still get paid, another disgrace! Let us hope that Northern Ireland gets their act together.
Tonight (as I wrote this) Boris and Jeremy went head to head. Well done Jeremy for standing up against that racist, philanderer and truth-denier aka the present President of the United States who has described our Ambassador in Washington in these terms:
“The wacky Ambassador that the UK foisted upon the United States is not someone we are thrilled with, a very stupid guy”
And now, thanks to the leak of the confidential diplomat’s memo, our ambassador, liked and well-thought of elsewhere, felt forced to fall on his sword and resign. Another good man gone. The only saving grace is that the appalling behaviour of Trump makes the worst of our politicians looks positively normal in comparison.
So much goes on every day, it’s hard to keep pace. I am going to put this out to all visiting the libdemsinfrance website and also to my personal contacts, many of whom have been involved with my rants for many years. Come on - why not get involved? I know not all of you are pro-remain, or to that matter LibDem supporters. However, here’s a platform - give your views on what is going on. From my perspective, although this is a LibDem platform, most views are valid - although LibDems in France always reserve the right to moderate.
Over to you! - Speak your mind! Send in to firstname.lastname@example.org, clearing stating it is a piece for potential publication.
What a couple of weeks that was - to 26th May 2019
from Garry (it’s the anniverary of this blog today - happy anniversary, Garry!)
Last week we had the unbelievable disgrace of yet again coming last at the Eurovision song contest. We lost 5 points from our last place 16 points to 11 points with Michael Rice’s - "Bigger Than Us” song.
He blamed Brexit, probably quite rightly (us Brits used to know how to win friends and influence people - that seems to have vanished) - but as your intrepid news blogger (and Eurovision watcher) I have to report on our past exploits. Here are the British highlights in Eurovision, which appears to have started 2 years before I was born:
Nul points 1 2003
Theresa May has now tearfully given in her resignation. I saw it live and I have to say was sad to see her so sad and then I thought this is a stupid reaction! The way she has put our Country through what she has over the last 3 years has been a disgrace, why should we feel sorry for her?
She did not show any particalar regard for us, leaving us in France fearing for our lives, the miserable person. Her blood-red lines have meant that the UK could not leave with an agreement that was promised by the leavers. Thw whol thing is must impossible (though I am not sad about that part) .
We now have a leader competition within the Tories to give us another “Great Leader”. This may wwll be a staunch leaver who wants to drive for a “no deal Brexit” after the 31st October. Now this would be a worry, as I’m sure you’ll agree. However, by galvanising politicians to stop this outcome, we may well end up with a further “confirmatory” referendum (ever noticed that says confirm-a-Tory - I think I’ll stop using the expression!) or a General Election, a new election is when everybody has a right to change their minds?
Talking of Elections, the European Elections have just taken place.
My wife and I voted in our old UK voting regions. Because we are also able to vote here in France, I had to pop down to tell my Mayor that. Because we had voted in the UK , we were not in law able to also vote in France and we didn’t want the Mayor to think we were letting the side down by not voting.
Didn’t we do well! I went to bed at 3am, after seeing that we had achieved 20% of the vote, second behind “FFF” and his ex-UKIP duty-dodgers.
Sixteen - YES 16 Libdem MEPs! Only 15 more than in 2014! It must be because last time I voted in France, this time in the UK.
I want to personally thank all those who helped in my own constituency in the UK of Worthing - to those I emailed to ask for help who did, thank you. To the rest - maybe you’ll add your weight the next time?
Also well done the Greens, 7 MEPs. All in all, though the percentages were still too close for comfort, more votes were cast for remain parties than votes for the leave parties, bring on the 2nd referendum! Let’s keep up the fight and widen that gap - there is no time to lose!
That was a ground hog week that was! - 13th May 2019
from our intrepid “Garry of the North”
Last week we had the “launch” of the European election campaigns from our politicians.
Thursday on the daily politics show, after Labour launched their election manifesto, nobody was available from them to answer questions or give comment; then there was a Conservative MP, who had no manifesto to comment or answer questions on; then there was the new Change UK which has no logo; then - lastly and sadly not least - the Brexit party, who will not be launching any manifesto until after the European elections!
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I give credit to the Greens who have launched their - but the strongest Remain party, us LibDems - really are the only party that has a parliamentary track record in recent years and is not a one issue party but has also always been clear about the belief that we need a 2nd referendum 3 years after the first advisory referendum.
Which of us, hand on heart, can say we knew what leaving the EU would involve or lead to? Many of us had fears and concerns, many others stuck to the belief that all the projections of chaos were lies - but now, here we are, billions down the drain and knowing much more (though we haven’t even got to the point of leaving yet) what is likely to be entailed in reality.
People who voted to leave were not stupid, they just did not want to hear - or were not told - what leaving would mean and I believe many feel a little embarrassed because they were told a lie and believed it and they do not want to lose face.
In fact, isn’t this what the PM herself is doing? Not wanting to lose face - “I have made a decision and I’m damn well going to stick with it regardless?” And the further down that path she goes, the less and less likely she is to back off, just like hard core Leavers (or Remainers, come to that).
The one piece of news this week that I felt disgusted about came from a person who comes from where I did - Bermondsey in South East London. He is an avid supporter of my football team, Millwall, and Danny Baker’s unbelievable tweet with a photo about the lovely couple that are our Harry and Megan was a disgrace. Well done to the BBC for sacking him. What a complete idiot. I hope his career is finished. It would have been nice for Millwall FC to have made a comment as he is synonymous with my club. Makes a change these days to be praising the BBC, though.
Lastly, the Times rich list was produced on Sunday. Unfortunately I missed out but what has changed over quite a few years is the inclusion of billionaires with the millionaires which used to top the list. The difference is immense - apparent, to count to a million would take you 12 days, to count to a billion would take you 31 years - how can anyone accumulate money so fast? Here’s a link for interest.
I directly asked friends and family to help in Worthing for the Euro elections. 3 out of 4 of the people I asked, wrote back to say yes, I forwarded all on to the local LibDem party in Worthing. Not one person was negative about supporting them.
This is a direct way that each and everyone of us can help. Ask your friends and family if they can do the same thing in their constituencies - not much time left! If anyone needs to contact their local LibDems to offer help, but don’t know how - our Data Officer, Christina, can help you. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Could do with more weeks like that! …That was the Week That Was…. 5th May 2019
from our intrepid “Garry of the North”
The two major parties have been writing us off for so long, it’s great to be able to show them what we’re made of at last! Wow, what a week for us Liberal Democrats,
There was a lot of weird comment around though - the other parties saying it was a protest vote as people wanted the government to “get on with Brexit”! What? Vote for the strongest Remain party because you want to get on with Brexit? Some people really do have warped logic - or should that be no logic at all?
To me the fantastic local results show that the UK does not really want to leave the EU - and that the Liberal Democrats are really good in local politics too.
So it looks like we will be having a European election on the 23rd of this month (since confirmed - Data Officer) but there is an opposition and that is the “frog-faced” leader of the new Brexit party. We need to fight his brand of politics. He is the first on the Brexit party list who wants to be elected in his party’s South East England constituency. Why can’t even the most rampant Brexit supporters see - all he smells is the money he’ll get from his seat should he win it - what a hypocrite! He is just out to take everyone for a ride at their expense.
It was a strange week for me also. The Local elections were going on in England and Northern Ireland. During the evening of the election, I suddenly thought - what can I do to help?
I can still vote in for the European and any General elections, (Worthing West). I sent a quick email to the libDems in that constituency to ask if there was any way I could help in the upcoming European elections.
I also sent at the same time an email to Hazel Thorpe, who stood for us at the last two parliamentary elections. Both she and the local LibDems responded. Hazel asked if I could encourage friends and family from my old area to just do a small thing - like distributing European leaflets to their roads? A great idea!
So I have written to friends from Worthing asking them to do this if they could, together with details of how they could go about it and copied in the newly to be elected Mayor of Worthing, Hazel Thorpe (17th May) - which I am very pleased to hear. During the last general election we were in contact because I was not sent my voting form in time. I got it a few days before the count and the only way for me to get it back in time was to pay almost 50€!
I remember standing at the counter at our local post office ringing my wife to ask her what I should do - go with my head or my heart - as I knew Hazel had little chance of winning. My wonderful wife said, ”Garry, go with your heart!” I spent the money and my heart was glad. Still the final footnote is - I have to thank Worthing BC for in the end they admitted that they were wrong and paid the money back to me. Perseverance pays off and not just in politics!
So this week, I am asking if you can all do the same as I. Contact people you know and ask if they can help in anyway they can. All the local LibDem parties and branches will be so pleased.
Lastly, I want to congratulate Hazel Thorpe as a LibDem being elected and on the 17th May to be elected as Mayor of Worthing. Worthing has 3 German twinned towns and only one French, so I have also proposed we should have a Worthing (population 100,000 +) twinning with Monchel sur Canche (population 90).
If you don’t ask, you don’t get!
(Data Officer here - Euro Election Postal Voting Papers have already been received by many of us on 7th May. If you have not got yours - contact your local authority and enquire - don’t leave it to chance - it is your right to be able to vote and they must help enable it)
Easter Eggs, Fuel and Political Persuasion …That was the Week That Was…. 28th April 2019
from our intrepid “Garry of the North”
Easter has been and gone. Last Sunday, we in the North were basking in 29 degrees C, today 8 degrees!
On that glorious Sunday, we got together for the first time in a long time with the inhabitants of the other two British-owned homes. Additionally, we had the annual Easter egg hunt for the Village on the Saturday,
I made sure there was enough beer and wine to go round for all the adults and we band of Brits agreed to meet for lunch out at our “Barrack de Frites” at our fish farm. We met at midday and finished at 5pm. It was a delight to find out that all of us were remainers, though each couple from a different political persuasion.
David (Labour) from London, has a successful business in the City and lives in Waterloo. Before “Brexit” divided tha nation, he was friendly with his MP , Kaye Hoey, but has not spoken to her since! HIs constiotuency had a very high Remain vote.
Mike on the other hand is in Ken Clarke’s constituency, a Conservative. He works for a very large European business and had written to all 17,000 employees in the UK and Northern Ireland expressing his concerns on Brexit in 2016.
We are united in that we are all centrists wanting a 2nd referendum
Getting back to what is happening in the UK, it was disturbing to hear on Monday that there has been an outcry from petrol forecourt owners because the UK police stated they are no longer investigating people driving off without paying at the pumps (even though the owners have CCTV evidence) - if the amount is under £100. The owners are left to pursue these thefts through civil action. I see that as a real disgrace - but with the cuts to police numbers, this must be one of many such cost-cutting exercices for the police service. I wonder how many we get to actually hear of?
Here’s an extract from the LibDem (2017) manifesto on policing:
7.3 Crime and policing
After years of reduction in traditional crime we have seen an increase, particularly in violent crime, since 2015. At the same time police forces are under pressure from reduced funding, with less money available for the community policing we all value. For these reasons Liberal Democrats will:
●● Increase community policing in England and Wales by giving an additional £300 million a year to local police forces to reverse the increase in violent crime, boost community confidence and increase the flow of community intelligence. ●● Maintain, as part of our fight against hard Brexit, cross-border co-operation in combatting serious organised crime, including international fraud and child sexual exploitation, by retaining the European Arrest Warrant, membership of Europol and access to EU information databases.
Next Thursday we have the local elections in England and Northern Ireland, although we in France cannot vote, it will be the first chance for the British people to give their opinion of British politics today. Please encourage all your UK friends and family to vote and use their voice
Vince Cable launched our European election campaign last week:_
He expressed diappointment at the new Change UK party basically refusing co-operation with other “remain” parties/ Still, all I would say is I remember the start of the SDP :- they soon came running although they appeared to have a very arrogant attitude. Will Change UK be the same?
Now for the upcoming hoped for European elections on the 23rd of May.
This you can vote in if you are registered to vote:- I rang my constituency of Worthing West, I was told my voting form would be sent out on the 8th of May (tight timeframe).
I am sure they will send it this time as because at the last election,It cost the Worthing Council tax payer just under 50 Euros to have my vote sent for next day delivery to compensate for a mistake on delivery in the first place. by them. Check you are going to get your form and when by ringing your local electoral office!
Lastly, I would ask those of you like myself who have received a survey request from the LibDems in France committee to fill them in and send them back. Thank
Twiddling our Thumbs…That was the Week That Was
from our intrepid “Garry of the North”
As I write this at just after 10pm on 10th, we are waiting to hear what the EU will or won’t accept. For better or worse, Brexit, as of now is at a stand-still.
So, I’ll start with a bit about my life for the past couple of weeks
Off we went recetnly for our twice-yearly trip to a supermarket in Kent. As you may realise from my nick-name, I live in the North or France, an hour and 20 minutes from the Tunnel. There, the French customs were working to rule. Cars are stopped one at a time, a bollard is put in front, then each in turn was asked to open the boot and the car is swabbed and throughly checked, before being waved through (or taken to one side!). Yet for us - it was the quickest I have ever gone through! And why was that with all those checks? The lady on the British side said she has never seen so few cars since she had worked there! The shape of things to come?
Over the next couple of days, things hotted up in the news:-
“Julian Assange” was arrested this morning. However, since I heard this news when I was staying up very late awaiting EU updates, I was not as alert as I might have been. To my ears, the reporters said “Nigel Farage” had been arrested! That made me sit up and take note! Oh, if only…..
The PM lost again, not getting her requested extension to article 50, but it has been extended to the 31st October 2019. I have a low opinion of Theresa May in many ways, but one thing I have noted is that she does stick to her words on this Deal!
At least for us remainers who want the whole thing stopped, we did not fall out of the EU wham bam crash at the end of the week - but we ar still on the slow burn to Exit at the moment, sad to say. Time will tell.
So, the UK will be fighting the European elections. Please if you have not done so, apply to vote in the UK (if you are not one of the some estimated 780,000 UK Ex-pats who have been in Europe for more than 15 years and cannot vote). It is shameful that some of of those who are able to vote do not apply - you are letting down those who are unable, so please if you have not registered but are able to vote in the UK, to do so by following the Libdem link.