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.
I am now going to also take a break for Easter (just like the MPs!). I’ll be back taking notes on my wedding anniversary the 23rd of April, have a good Easter.
That was the “Noes Have It” Week that Was 29th March 2019
from our intrepid “Garry of the North”
(” The Ayes 286 - The Noes 344 - The Noes have it, The Noes have it.” - Bercow)
What a week that was, the Maybot winging it and flying by her pants. I wonder if she related to the captain of Monday’s BA flight from London City to Dusseldorf which took off at 7.30am. However, many on their weekly commute must have being rather confused to hear: “Welcome to Edinburgh” on landing!
After realising the mistake the captain, asked with a show of hands if they would like to go to Dusseldorf after all! Bad enough, but thenthe toilets got blocked! I am sure he is related somehow to our PM.
I have had one incident like this, having got on the Dieppe - Newhaven ferry, I was somewhat bemused to wake up in Portsmouth!
Although the vote today does leave a no-deal on the table, had the vote had gone through, there would then not been a chance of revoking article 50 - or more important to me, a referendum on Brexit. I for one was very pleased. There is talk though that the Maybot might try to bring yet another vote back next week. At this news I was not very pleased!
There is another big week to come - will she finally go?
She will have to be pushed, I don’t think there is any way she will just walk. Do we even think this is a good idea? Opinions are sharply divided on this, at the present time. By the way, May still hasn’t apologised for her extraordinary comment to the nation last week blaming all MPs rather than herself for the impasse.
A couple more comments struck me. Firstly, at one point Liam Fox had said that by the time the UK left in an orderly way, 43 independent trade deals would have been done. Well, as it happens, up to date, he says there have been 8…. although not all of them have been signed, in fact have any?
Newsnight last Thursday was very interesting. Jacob William Rees-Mogg had always said that he would not support the May deal.
He now apologised to his supporters, saying he would now support it - as long as the DUP did - because although he did not like to deal, he thought it was better than the idea that there could be a “No Brexit”.
Well, the DUP did not support the May deal, but he still did - now there goes another principled Conservative MP!
Funnier that that was a journalist quoting a cabinet member who, when asked how it was going was quoted verbatim:- “Fuck knows, I’m past caring, it’s like the living dead in there”. This was - without the F word - repeated in parliament today.
Finally - the “Votes For Life” Bill was due to be debated - again - in Parliament.
However, it was deliberately “talked out” by Conservative MP Philip Davies. What a travesty of democracy!
This is YOUR VOTE they are playing with! Sign the petition to get it brought back - yet again - into the arena.
LibDems in France are fighting for both “Votes for Life “ (promised much and never delivered by the government) and to get overseas representation for all of us.
It is currently our prime target and we are working in close alliance with appropriate LibDem MPs and Lords on the matter.
Help us keep up the pressure!
That was the Bizarre Week that Was 20th March 2019
from our intrepid “Garry of the North”
Firstly, what is going on in the World? So much aggression, New Zealand & Holland have seen both religion and far-right hatred, what is this World coming to?
Now we have Theresa May playing into the hands of extremists, blaming our MPs for the impasse. What an arrogant, petulant response to her first (oh no, wait a moment… her second vote on her “plan” leave the EU).
That wonderful person John Bercow (my new hero) told Parliament that you cannot bring the same vote back in one parliamentary session as the petulant woman would wish. More like the behaviour of a spoilt single child - well, she is a single child…
I can’t help by be reminded of what Andrea Leadsom said during the leadership campaign:- she appeared to suggest in an interview that she believed that having children was an advantage for a prime minister as it meant he or she had a stake in the future. She later apologised.
I remember my MP Sir Peter Bottomley, (who is now renowned with others as wanting to restrict European Nations in the UK to having fair social rights). See his voting here:
When I last spoke to this man, he told me he was on the beach with his grandchildren. All I can say to him, following his attitudes: “Why are you not looking after your grandchildren’s future?”
Much though it pains me to agree with this MP - with whom I do not seem to have any common ground overall - I must agree with another of his comments that “ignorance & apathy” are the main problem in politics today. That and the ridiculous voting system in the UK, I would add.
Today had a personable leading reporter come to report on myself and my wife on the problems we have in France regarding the BREXIT debate from the “La Voix de Nord”. Watch this space once it is published!
Now for a couple of more responses from my email roundabout:
“Last year I attended a meeting where Peter Bottomley was in attendance. The Public Meeting was held to discuss the proposed changes to the A27 which is a major thoroughfare in East and West Sussex.
When local residents were expressing their views against the proposed scheme, in my opinion, he was dismissive and was unwilling to listen to their arguments.
Garry Spencer is very keen for PB to listen to his valid concerns regarding Brexit. However, the political situation in the UK is at an all time low. Politicians are set against each other and our Prime Minister is unwilling and left it too late to engage in any meaningful cross party discourse. Even the PM acknowledges ‘We are in crisis’.
In light of this, Garry Spencer and other ex - pats are unable to look towards their elected MP for any meaningful support and guidance.
Within the rhetoric of Brexit, British citizens, whichever view of Brexit they have, are not being heard and they will remain in limbo until 29th March or beyond.”
My comments on the your MP,( Peter Bottomley) saga:-
1. "honours the result of the referendum" - there is not only no need to do so - it was advisory and, in line with the way British democracy works, *only* David Cameron's government was committed to do so. He could not commit future governments (even of the same party) to follow his (mistaken) lead.
2. Bottomley is a typical leaver - he cannot come up with *one* substantive reason why leaving the EU will make life in the UK better for most people, Not surprising as there isn't one.
3. He cannot give you answers on the subjects that are most important to you - e.g., how healthcare will be provided to UK emigrants (like us) after any kind of Brexit. The WA contains some information but it's in no way complete - and a "no deal" Brexit leaves many of us with little alternative but to return to the UK as paupers, en masse. I can just see how social services and the NHS will be able to cope with that. It isn't, as some have said, that everyone will do that but it would only take, say 10% of us in France - about 100k - to cause havoc, especially when added to those from the other EU countries.
4. In short, he has given no substantive answer to anything and one has to wonder what his interest in Brexit actually is, apart from obeying the orders of Maybot.”
“What an absolute mess.
I think that we are left with 3 choices.
1. Leave with no deal, but parliament have already voted against a no deal, so therefore this is no longer an option (thank goodness),
2. Vote for Mays Deal, but this contains the possibility of a no deal, so this is no longer an option,
Therefore the only option parliament can vote for is:-
Revoke article 50.
Should we all be signing the petition and emailing our MP's to ensure that they vote for this option? “ - Judith
That was the Week that Was 12th March 2019 - and updated since once or twice - from Garry, who spent his week in a Brexit action frenzy emailing MPS - as we all needed to.
14/03/2019: David Steel and Margaret Thatcher have both been criticised today, in David’s case not giving details of Cyril Smith’s admittance to David of his now-proved inappropriate behaviour and David in turn not informing the police. In respect of Margaret Thatcher, she was advised not to give Jimmy Saville a knighthood because of his promiscuity. Both are now proved to be have been wrong in their assessments and today he faces suspension from the Liberal Democrat Party.
This week for me has been a real nightmare, I have written to my MP a few times, he has responded, however he would appear not to favour “'Johnny Foreigner” and a friend who was on my email list sent me this link:
Which shows how he voted against EU peoples rights, I am very disappointed in this, my MP. It seems he is a man with no concern for anyone much beyond his own well-being
Yesterday I booked our twice yearly trip to Tesco’s to Ashford on Eurotunnel, living only an hour and a half from the tunnel. Few would have thought before our original EU membership that we would pop over to get our bread, sausages and bacon so easily and on a regular basis - how things may change!
I was talking to the young booking clerk and talking about Brexit problems. She told me she was a French National, her mum was French and her dad had been English but not married to her mum. However, being born in 1998, she was not automaticity allowed to have UK citizenship and would have to pay over £2,000 for a citizen’s test which had to taken in London.
She has been brought up in Kent, went there to school there and has always lived there except for 6 months in Lille where some of her family live. To all intent and effect she is British but, now, with Brexit?
Britain, you really do look after your own - depending on your definition of the word of course……!
“Christine Jardine” from LibDem head office wrote by email to all members earlier in the week :
"We need to persuade more MPs and get a critical mass of people who are blocking the deal tomorrow - and the best way to do that is to make sure that MPs know how the country wants them to vote.
Will you contact an MP for us today?”
So I spring into action (as I hope you all did too, it only took a minute or two - you could even use their predesigned template)
Sir Peter Bottomley is my MP, though I only have 3 more years to be able to vote because of the UK’s current Voting Laws - NB blowing the Tory dust off the proposed Votes for Life legislation and put into action is one of LibDem France’s top aims
Dear Sir Peter,
As you know, I have asked for help as your Northern France constituent , you have now asked for my address through your assistant following our previous correspondence and telephone call, I have supplied at your request both address and telephone details.
However, you have not responded. I am somewhat disappointed, I am not going to attach your first responses to my first email as you apologised to me, however, I am disappointed that you have not responded to my last request following your demand for my address and telephone details which I sent you.
Sir Peter - What advice can you give me as your constituent living in Northern France, how I can continue in the same way that I do now after Brexit? A “SIMPLES” question as your leader says!
I am fed up with you politicians talking the talk but not walking the walk!
Enough is enough, please look after us who need help as I do as your constituent.
I am as in the past copying in around 100 people, plus the “Independent Group” and of course us Libdems. www.libdemsinfrance.org
(and now it is shared with a good deal more people….Data Officer )
I hope to look forward to a response at last, please!
Please believe me Sir Peter, I will not go a way!
With kind regards, Garry R Spencer (Your Northern France constituent)
Update: This received a flurry of emails from supporters (and nothing to date from Sir Peter). For a bit of a change fomr constant Brexit and parliamentary shenanigans, here are some of the responses I received:-
No doubt too busy dealing with Brexit issues to, er, deal with Brexit issues.
Well your letter bought a smile to my face. Love your final sentence. He is getting paid to represent you and rightly so, you are chasing him. Keep up your fight.
The next few days should prove interesting- Theresa May and the vote she will no doubt postpone again. “
”Hello again! Well said and nicely written.”
“Go Gary !!!! I wish you luck.....
As the Union Rep at my college - we are in dispute with Scottish Govt over NO pay increase in three years... WE have all been writing to our MSPs asking for support and some reply "stock statement" supporting the govt, some just ignore, and some very few take the time to respond properly.... WE pay their wages……..”
”Well said my man Garry, this whole situation is untenable to all.
Our so-called politicians have no interest in what their people need. Being the greedy selfish Tory B------s that they are, they are only interested in feathering their own nests. To hell with the peasants.
And while all this Brexit debacle has been going on, our wonderful government has slipped in a bill unnoticed to move the concessionary bus pass application age to coincide with state pension age. No longer at 60. Oh those wonderful people.
I do get the impression however that your MP has no interest whatsoever in you lot in France.
As a 'Knight of the Realm' he probably thinks now that you are just another 'Johnny Foreigner' who should bow down to his 'superior'. Happy days what!
It's good to have a Monday morning rant - Un lundi matin diatribe peut-être en française?”
Who else sent emails to MPs? If you have examples, why not share them with us? Send to email@example.com
News update blog 3rd March 2019
from "Garry of the North":-
I write my news item mainly because of Brexit which affects us so much, but I have decided to “Look on the bright side of life” to start off with this week.
I need to remind us - especially if we are feeling down about events back in the “Homeland” - of the wonderful benefits of our life here in the wonderful Country.
I have the privilege of being elected to my village’s “Committee de Fete”. My wife and I are the only Brits (foreigners) who live here, although there are two other British families who have 2nd homes. We are both integrated well within our community.
Yesterday we had our “Carnaval”, the first fete of the year our village has.Our local paper will carry the story.
Why not also send in reports of local events from your villages/towns and share with the world (well, the world who comes to our website) how wonderful it is for you living in this great country? (Send to firstname.lastname@example.org)
So, now back to the negative news! Apparently in the event of a “no deal”, the government have given the contract to deliver pharmaceuticals to the same company who were responsible for delivering and keeping the flow of chicken to KFC, That scenatrio ended up in the closure of several stores who ran out of chicken! Bodes well??
MP Alberto Costa, a member of government said that EU citizens and UK citizens should have had secure rights at the beginning in 2016 and that it is quite wrong that it is only now being discussed with just a few weeks to go. That good MP was asked to resign from his government post the morning the “Maybot” led party decided to accept his motion. Bodes well??
Oh yes, after the debacle of the assigning a company with “no ships” to run supplies of essentials in the case of a no deal, the government have now agreed to stop a legal action by Eurotunnel. They will pay them 33 million pounds of tax payers’ money to stop their action. It seems they were not asked to tender, how short-sighted this government is.
Then there is the worry of Pakistan and India - an area that was devised by the British Empire, are we learning our lesson?
Brexit & the Yanks! In a document the USA demand we accept their food standards. Huh! America for a free trade deal, chlorinated chicken, hormone-fed beef? Bodes well?? It is- as it always has been - America first and sod the rest!
News update blog 26th February 2019
from "Garry of the North":-
Let’s start with the 7 initial Labour MP’s leaving their party to set up as now a group of Independents, “The Independent Group” (TIG).
Chuka Umunna, Luciana Berger, Mike Gapes, Chris Leslie, Angela Smith, Ann Coffey, Gavin Shuker in the first wave. The next day Joan Ryan joined together with Anna Soubry, Sarah Wollaston and Heidi Allen from the Tory left to join the new Independent group, all saying they are the new “Centrist Grouping” which will enable us Libdems to support their initiative, which is nothing like the SDP split from Labour in the 80’s which I went through as a Liberal! One could argue they could support the LibDem initiave which has been there all along……but still….any port in a storm.
This is the LibDem take on this, according to the latest Wikipedia entry:
“On 18 February 2019 before the breakaway Vince Cable, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, said that his party would "work with them in some form" but that his party would not be "subsumed" by them. Following the breakaway, Scottish Liberal Democrats leader Willie Rennie said: "This is a damning condemnation of what Labour has become and a compelling positive case for change." On 19 February Cable later added that he has "offered a hand of friendship to the new Independent Group" and sees "the way forward as a collaborative arrangement, a confederation of groups who have a lot in common".On 20 February Cable also suggested that the Liberal Democrats will not put up candidates against members of the Independent Group at future elections. On 21 February former LibDem leader Tim Farron said in a radio interview that it was "entirely possible" that the two groups could merge to form a new centrist political party. On 23 February Cable contacted members of The Independent Group to seek support for his idea to propose a parliamentary motion for a second Brexit referendum.”
It is obvious to me that a coalition between the two, which should mean co-operation each with the other and actively supporting In a coalition would be a good idea, a very good idea.
Last week, I saw on France24 that Calais was looking forward to the UK leaving the EU, what a boost to an economy in Pas the Calais with restaurants, hotels gearing up for the the UK being classified as a 3rd Country which should bring an economic bonus of the “Booze Cruise” returning and a boom to my region, there is always a silver lining!
Andrea Leadsom once suggested that being a mother made her a better candidate for prime minister in the Conservative leadership campaign. It was one of the reasons for her downfall in her election for her party leadership campaign. However it would appear that May has little if any emotion in the way she has been treating the people who are going to be affected living in the UK as EU Nationals or for us UK Nationals in mainland Europe. So did Andrea have a point after all - would she have shown any more empathy? Probably not…
Well this week my dog, Sultern, had to have an eye taken out. She looks like a cyborg, but I love her in the same way as my child, in the same way as my other two dogs and two cats. They are all like my children. I certainly have affection and emotion about them. It seems I care so much more about them than Theresa May does about her own Country and its people in the end.
Lastly, what was the Maybot “SIMPLE’s” responses to questions today in parliament? There is only one simple person in parliament in my opinion today, I would ask for your responses on a post card please to this question, “who is the simple’s”?
News update blog 17th February 2019
from "Garry of the North":-
Well, wow what a couple of weeks have gone by since my last piece!
Firstly what a great day for English rugby supporters last Sunday, England 44 / France 8! Oh my, what joy! I have recounted to many of my French friends how woeful France were: - my best friend told my that France were now 10th in the World, I said was that the 3rd World?!
I have to say I had torn loyalties the week before when England beat Ireland.
I have always have a problem with this particular fixture as I am half English and half Irish - which brings me neatly on to what is happening with people applying for Irish Nationality - as I am.
A good friend of mine is the UK and Ireland CEO of one of the top hundred companies in the world. He came over with his wife for a few glasses of wine today. He told me he spoke to the Irish ambassador iin London a little while ago, mentioning he was applying for dual nationality.
My friend then asked if there had been a great increase of applications for Irish nationality since the Brexit vote. The ambassador told him there had been an increase of about 40% from the UK. On being told further that I was applying from France, he informed him that applications from Europe had increased by 90%! He added, as I have been told by the Irish embassy in Paris, that applications that have been accepted will take between 6 to 12 months to get approval. Mine finally went in completed in October.
Next to Donald Tusk with his “What a special place in hell looks like for those Brexitiers without even a sketch of a plan how to carry it safely.” The stick Donald Tusk got from the UK press was a disgrace to my mind. Do they not remember when “our blimp” Boris Johnson compared the EU negotiators to “Nazis”?
France recalled her ambassador from Italy because of “unprecedented” verbal attacks. Well, the right wing talking to the yellow vests trying to convert them to their right wing mantra.
Here in France, we are on our 15th week of yellow vest protests.
There has been a 54% increase in knife crimes in the UK over the last 5 years of those ages between the age of 10 and 19, what a disgrace on the Tory government’s policing policy - cut, cut, cut.
I agreed when I heard the leader of the SNP in parliament (Ian Blackford) call Theresa May a liar when she said she had “fully costed”! her Brexit deal. I am convinced he is right.
My quote of the week comes from a placard from a child protesting about climate change which said “I’ve seen smarter cabinets in IKEA”.
We are not far away from Brexit day, but it appears from Oliver Robbins the “MayBot’s” chief negotiator was over heard by an ITV reporter as saying “If they don’t vote for the deal, then the extension is a long one”. Which means Brexit is not going away very soon. Remember, too, that this is only the Withdrawal Agreement!
Lastly, I have been doing my little bit writing to my MP here is a piece of my correspondence to Sir Peter Bottomley (Worthing West) and I would encourage you to write to your MP if you are still able to:
“What our representatives in parliament are doing over Brexit is a disgrace, also, what is worse for many UK citizens living in Europe is the fact that after 15 years we lose all parliamentary representation, this is not right as if I were a French national living in the UK I would always have French representation.”
“I copy in my friend David as I saw when he responded to me, he copied Sir Peter. David is a British National who no longer has representation, this is farcical. I only have 3 or 4 more years of representation left.
“What the Conservative government did, in arranging a referendum over a binary in/out vote without any clue, forethought or consideration of the ramification, is disgraceful and as for continual “kicking the can down the road” with only 6 weeks to go is a mind-blowing disaster.
“Living in France is not cheap, but the option of having to return to a country whose health care seems substandard to what I am used to (no fault of its gallant employees); knife crime rampant; food banks in most areas; unacceptable homelessness; lack of decent policing and so many more problems that I do not face in Northern France fills myself and my wife with dread.
”I look forward to my questions being answered by Sir Peter. I look forward to an early response.”
News update blog 3rd February 2019
from "Garry of the North":-
So Theresa May got her plan “B” through which looked just like plan “A”. There was a phrase being bandied around of an "Alternative Arrangement" which was never specified to anybody plus the “Unicorn” demand that the back stop on the island of Ireland be removed from the withdrawal agreement.
I hear that some on the Right say that a peoples (2nd referendum) vote is also a “Unicorn”. Not so - at least a people's vote is possible!
Talking of the Right, a day after the plan B vote took place, the TV channel France24 reported the problems France is having are escalating, some feeling that France will be the EU's "New Italy". Some in power in Italy are calling for Macron to go and calling for Le Penn to step up to the mark, somewhat worrying as up here in Pas de Calais most people did vote for her in the past!
Last year the UK government applauded with much fanfare Nissan’s intention to build their new XTRAIL in the Sunderland plant. Today it has been confirmed it will be building that new car in Japan.
Under Margaret Thatcher, Nissan was enticed to set up shop it the beleaguered North East. One of the main reasons, apart of financial incentives, was that Britain was their gateway to Europe. So what now?
Gibraltar has by now been classified as a colony by the EU although the UK believe it is a part of the UK and this is before any trade negotiations start to take place! Spain could hold out on any in an attempt to get more power over the disputed rock. (However, note that Britain itself called Gibraltar a "Crown Colony" itself until earlier in the 21st century when it decided to change the name to a British Overseas Territory - there was no change of status, merely a name change - Data Officer)
Again, a snap election is being talked about in June if a Brexit withdrawal deal happens, so make sure if you are eligible, please register to vote in the constituency you came from, you can vote up to 15 years after leaving the UK (and LibDems in France continue to press for Votes For life to be initiated as promised)
News update blog 22nd January 2019
from "Garry of the North":-
Last Tuesday saw the “Supreme leader” dramatically lost her vote by a massive 230 votes. The defeated leader then agreed to come back with plan B within 3 sitting days.
On Wednesday, a quote from German industry said (after the vote) that: “A horrible ending was preferable to an unending horror”. That particular person would prefer the UK exit now and get it over with.
As Robert Peston said on his show last Wednesday, although the supreme leader had not asked anyone for dialogue on Brexit for almost 3 years, she was now all of a sudden asking for Cross Party input!
She wanted to talk to all. Corbyn would only talk to her if she agreed if “No Deal” was taken off the table and as we know the PM has only one view which was reiterated. Most of the opposition parties who spoke to her said later that she listened but took no advice!
She came back on Monday with her “Plan B” which appears to be plan A.
So, no-deal creeps a little closer which will be disastrous but what is upsetting me more is Jezza still holding back from declaring he is in favour of a 2nd referendum despite an apparent 80% pf his party members who want it.
May rowed back from the anounced charge for “Settled Status” for EU nationals living in the UK. This she did on the day of its launch… this is a supreme leader who “knows her mind”?!
I am not looking forward to the potential loss of 83% of freight ferries being able to run for a period of between 3 and 6 months after a no-deal.
All eyes are on the cross-party “Resistance” in parliament doing their job and stopping this would-be despot in her headlong dash to turn the UK into a 3rd world state.
Lastly it was refreshing to see pundit and money guru Martin Lewis on Politics Life. A Tory MP repeatedly would not answer a “yes or no” question, causing Martin to throw his hands up with all his papers in despair. adding that no government spokesperson ever seems to give any straight answers to questions.
That was the week that was 14th January 2019
from "Garry of the North":-
It was a terrible scene on Monday. Anna Soubry was harassed in a despicable manner outside parliament by right wing “Fascists” (a quote from the Speaker). What also came out was that Nigel Farage is often treated in the same manner. I have no affinity with Mr Farage in any way. I do not like his politics. However, I do think he has a right to speak his mind which I have never found deplorable, I just do not agree with him. I do agree he too should not be treated by the far-left in the same way that the far-right subjected Anna to.
It was good that “James Goddard” was arrested yesterday regarding Anna and is now on bail.
On Tuesday - much to my wife’s disdain, I watched the full day’s finance bill debate!! Which ended up with a very interesting defeat for the government 303 to 296. That now gives parliament control - not the government (executive) - over finances if there were intended to be a no-deal exit. In effect this should help to stop a no-deal Brexit.
On Wednesday, the Speaker allowed the Dominic Greaves motion and vote to take place. It was passed which means that the Maybot, if she loses her vote on Tuesday, which is looking very likely at present, will only have three sitting days (rather than 21) to come back to Parliament with her plan B!
I channel hop during the week around shows like “Sunday Politics” and my quote of the week comes from the Northern Ireland broadcast today. Whilst talking about the government and Brexit, the commentator said the government are trying to be all things to all men, quoting Dr Dolittle and “the push- me pull-you”.
Next Tuesday (assuming the vote actually goes ahead this time, I think it will) there is talk of a 200 defeat for the government. Time will tell.
Next week will define Brexit. If May loses Labour will then, I believe, put a motion of no-confidence which they will in turn lose. I think this will mean they eventually follow the Labour membership of whom 80% want a no Brexit or a 2nd referendum, so I am keeping my fingers crossed.
That was the week that was 7th January 2019
from "Garry of the North":-
Christmas is over, the New Year has began! During the last PMQ of the Old Year, we hadthe furore over the Corbyn “Stupid woman” comment about Teressa May. I was watching it live and in my humble opinion that was what he mumbled under his breath - good on him. I believe she was stupid to bring the Commons to a pantomime performance:- “Yes he did; No he didn’t”. She may not be stupid in the sense of her academic ability, but she is incompetent in all areas regarding a lot of what she had achieved. We had the “Windrush” harsh environment for refugees as one example when she was home Secretary, now the Brexit débacle. Others have complained that he said “Stupid woman”, rather than “Stupid person” .
It is quite funny, I have thought of one business that will flourish after Brexit, that is duty free goods on sale at airports and the booze cruises between Dover and Calais - always assuming the people don’t mind hanging around for ages at Customs Control. No wonder the Government is looking at arranging extra shipping between channel ports. Must be because of the threatened influx of older generation Tory supporters blocking up ferry terminals trying to get cheap booze andfags! More on the ferry problems later.
We stumbled into 2019 with 100,000 revellers watching the fireworks in London (population over 8 million); 300,000 in Paris population (2,206,488); and Sydney 1,500,000 population around 5,500,000 - not a bad turn out! The Aussies even got the year wrong on the Sydney Harbour bridge which proclaimed “Happy New Year 2018”. Oops.
Going back to the Government plans for a “No Brexit” . They have, apparently without consultation or tendering, offered three companies (“fully compliant - having been through due diligence”) ferry companies contracts to help the anticipated freight backlog that WILL accrue in this scenario. One of the companies - “Seaborne Freight” - who at this time have no ships - say they have agreements with Ramsgate and Ostend. However, both ports say that have nothing finalised and signed, Ramsgate added that it will not in anyway be ready for a “roll on roll off” operation anytime soon, certainly not by March 2019. This company has been offered 14 Million pounds for their contract, what is the May Bot playing at? Why is she trying to make us all look like fools?
Tomorrow the playground reopens, apparently there will be a meaningful vote the week of the 14th Jan, fingers crossed, I for one am looking forward to tomorrow. Life is not dull in politics!
Lastly, I believe it is only right that I write at my disappointment that former Libdem Eastbourne MP Stephen Lloyd resigned the Libdem whip last month stating he would not vote with our party against May’s Brexit deal. He is now representing his constituents as an Independent MP. It is sad to report this but I feel for those who did not know, you should also be aware, this puts us to 11 Libdem MPs.
That was the week that was 10th December - 17th December 2018
from "Garry of the North":-
This is going to be a very short news update this week, it has been like “Groundhog Day” with regard to Brexit! As we now know, the vote on the Withdrawal Agreement didn’t happen in the end, although May said it would, right up until the morning when the MPs had assembled. It has been reported since that she had no intention a week before that!
Next there was a no confidence vote on her as 48 Tory MPs sent in letters asking for her demise. She won but by a much lower victory than had been anticipated. She said she would not stand as leader at the next election. The final voting was 200 continuing confidence in her while117 (many more than the 48 who asked) voted “No Confidence”. That was after two Ex Tory MP’s who had lost the whip were given it back and one of them is still under police investigation!
My quote of the week comes from an actor in the film “Battle of Britain”. Acting as the ambassador of Switzerland, he said in the film “We are not ready, we are playing for time and it’s running out” . Now we all know the few in that saved the UK, but we must remember if it wasn’t for both European and Commonwealth pilots we would have lost, the reality is that by far the greatest non-UK fighter pilots were Polish.
“Nebula” The word from which ‘nebulous’ originates: Astronomy - Gaseous Mass; Medicine: a clouded spot on the cornea causing defective vision . Now that fits very well……
I left this short update until after the debate following May’s return from Brussels where she did not get any concessions. She was reportedly accused of being unprepared and unprofessional - let alone the alleged “nebulous” remark from Juncker. I had to look up what this meant. Synonyms of nebulousness are given as: ambiguity, ambiguousness, darkness, equivocalness, equivocation, inscrutability, inscrutableness, murkiness, mysteriousness, nebulosity, obliqueness, obliquity, obscurity, opacity, opaqueness
Today in her statement to Parliament, May said the meaningful vote would now not take place until the week of the 14th - 21st January - which would appear to be trying to force the vote to go the way she wants, or No Deal (which does not, as a surprising number of people appear to think, mean that things go back to how they were!) I think she will be very lucky to come out of this in one piece.
She appeared to be acting like a spoiled, petulant single child trying to get her way. I’d choose a term other than Nebulous for her…
(Postscript from Data Officer. And now we have Corbyn tabling a vote of No confidence too - Theresa May walked out on his announcement…watch this space…)
That was the week that was 3rd December - 9th December 2018
from "Garry of the North":-
I was going to leave this weeks piece until Tuesday after “that” vote but although most of this week has been focused on the government’s proposed deal, which at the moment looks unlikely being voted for, As there is a chance the vote will not take place, I thought I would put a few words together regarding what has happened this week
Firstly I will report on the Yellow vest protests which took place again this weekend. Although Macron has had to row back on his green tax increase on fuel for 6 months, this is the 4th week that protesters were out in force yet again in Paris causing mayhem. The movement which started off on non-party lines has now been accused of being over taken by left and right extremists who appear to have come together in an alliance of anarchy. This has seen 1,000 people being arrested so far.
Now back to Brexit. Last Tuesday saw a very sweet vote (Strawberry fields forever) - 3 in fact that the government lost - which will allow MP’s to all decide on the future of Brexit if the vote fails on Tuesday.
Tomorrow the European Court of Justice will give a definitive ruling if the UK can unilaterally stop/halt article 50, if they agree it means a no deal can be stopped before 11pm on the 29th March 2019.
Most of us want a new vote on Brexit. This idea is gaining ground within Parliament. However, there is another deal being talked about - the so called Norway option. This means being in the EEA “European Economic Area” along with Lichtenstein and Iceland all three of whom are members of the “European Free Trade Association” . Along with Switzerland, all four nations will have a veto. The option is looking unlikely as there is talk of the “Disruptive Nature” of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland!
That was the week that was 22nd November - 2nd December 2018
from "Garry of the North":-
The final agreement on the withdrawal from the EU:- if the UK breaks any of the 291 rules covering Northern Ireland the “Back Stop” (May’s red line) comes into effect.
The length of time before the law comes in to reduce the amount you can gamble has been reversed, thank goodness, there are still estimated to be 50,000 children under 16 addicted to gambling with an additional worrying number heading towards having a gambling addiction. By the way, do you know you pay no tax on gambling wins in the UK ? Seemingly one reason for this is because if HMRC tax wins they must give allowance for losses…this, to me, is a strange argument…why must they? (Gambling winnings in France are taxed. Casino winnings that exceed €1,500 are taxed at a rate of 12% and must be declared as income)
One person in every 200 are sleeping rough or are in temporary accommodation.
Russia and the Ukraine are heading for conflict with Russia flexing its muscles by capturing three Ukraine war ships in what the UN says are international waters.
The east of Europe looks increasingly volatile. I have had some experience with Russian and Estonian workers working in this part of France. The Russian Estonians had Estonian ID cards but would - or could - not take Estonian citizenship. (Amongst requirements for becoming naturalised in Estonia, one must speak the language) They chose to speak only Russian, watched Russian TV and considered themselves Russian. The Estonians on the other hand always spoke Estonian and held Estonian passports. In 2010, only around 84% of Estonian residents are classified as Estonian citizens, others have very few voting rights (Ha! That sound sounds familiar - have you, as a Brit abroad - registered to vote yet??)
I visited my Estonian friends a few years ago to see the problems for myself. In Tallinn the capital the population is split 50/50 between those who identify as Russian and those Estonian. It’s a volatile area.
Back to Brexit - a couple of things that came out this week that will affect us living in France, now the UK EU deal is on the table. When asked if those of us on State pensions would have the payments rise in the same manner as today - in line with UK residents, but not the British diaspora in some non-EU areas Theresa May said it was up for debate”. She could not confirm our pension payments would continue to rise once the UK was out of the EU. Also, we will not be able to vote in local elections as was are now. Further loss of income and of rights are on our horizon. These outcomes are outrageous! We all chose to live here because of the rules and regulations that applied to our situation at the time we settled, now likely to be snatched away under our noses.
Lastly, we have seen over the last couple of weeks the yellow jacket demonstrations in Paris, we in the North have also seen then at most roundabouts, however these have been delays of no more that 10 minutes, it would be interesting to know how others in the different parts of our Country have been affected?
(Note from Data Officer - my travel back from the Uk to west Brittany was disrupted quite substantially, as my ferry was diverted from St Malo to Caen and delayed en route courtesy of the gilets jaunes action - or the “Jilly Johns” as a friend of mine calls them).
That was the week that was 12th - 21st November 2018
from "Garry of the North":-
What a strange few days, Ministers resigning, former resigned ministers returning . No-one really knows what is going on, let alone Theresa May!
Some business leaders in Northern Ireland think the back stop deal is the best option for NI, Arlene Foster (DUP) appears to disagree! Now, I heard this Wednesday Andrew Neil (Politics live) say that so many people do not understand what politicians are talking about these days. “Back stop, No deal” are examples - in fact many think a “No Deal” means remaining in the EU! Good Grief!
These are not unintelligent people, just those who do not follow what is really going on. Remember the £350,000,000 for the NHS every week following Brexit?
Last Sunday, five bridges were blocked in London in a day of protest. “Extinction Rebellion” co ordinated the action and more protests are planned concerning the climate, Still, these are nothing like the protests against Macron and the high fuel prices we are presently experiencing here in France.
Some chemists in the UK are being accused of illegally self-controlled drugs over the counter without prescriptions like tamasapaz. (Data Officer cannot resist adding here - a self-controlled drug? What’s one look like in a raging temper! Ha! Ha!)
The CBI said that a majority of their business members support the May-bot’s Brexit initiative. However: 90% of CBI member business’ do NOT export to Europe. That is not representative of 90% of business in the UK. Funny how one can make figures say what one wants them to say! We’ve seen rather a lot of that in the past couple of years from all sides!
Before Brexit started, Briton had a brand that was working and successful - not now.
Late on Monday night, I watched a debate in parliament by the SNP about how terrible it was for people coming into the UK today. I know many debates I watch have few members there, Still, what I was very surprised to see was that not ONE Labour MP was present.
This next new item does not directly affect us, as we are luckily living in France, but NHS missed all of its targets over the whole 12 months in the UK! NHS England is looking at changing its targets! Ridiculous situation.
Over the last two weeks most - including Jeremy Corbyn - have been saying that is Parliament did not vote for the May-Bot’s deal, and May was heard to say it could be no deal or no Brexit, so we have hope at last.
May shocked everyone by referring to EU citizens “jumping the queue” in Britain, as it they had been cheating in some way! There has understandably been a furore about that since.
What is a scandal apart from the stockpiling of foods & medicines is the fact that the UK Government in peace time has a contingent to mobilise the army in the event of a no deal
Also, a statistic out says that more than 25% of people living in the UK today are living in poverty. Where is all this going to end?
France, Holland and Denmark have reservations about the UK withdrawal agreement - primarily to do about fishing rights around the UK. Spain has concerns about Gibraltar following Brexit. Watch this space!
That was the week that was 1st - 11th November 2018
from "Garry of the North":-
Writing this on Sunday, I have just returned from our village’s monument where local children all read out a piece thanking those who died for them 100 years ago. The children also sang the Marseilles with pride and passion. I have to say, I was as proud of them as their parents must have been.
Back on Politics and other news, HMRC (the “tax man”) said that the difference between what people do pay in tax and what they should pay is the biggest ever, I look forward to the Singapore low tax haven after Brexit!
Tracey Crouch earned a lot of respect by resigning from government on principle. The reason was because the government have capitulated with the gambling lobby to change the date that fixed odds betting was meant to be reduced - from £100 pounds to £2 pounds - in April 2019. However in the recent budget it was announced that it was going to be delayed by 6 months to November. Clearly this will further harm those addicted to gambling and surely force more misery that could be stopped. I applaud you Tracey - who said that 2 people a day commit suicide because of gambling debts.
Last week saw the legalisation for some medicinal use of cannabis. About time too! after looking into all the research, the Libdems have been calling for this for a long time - see their Manifesto
Another sad statistic to come out this week is that 100,000 people have lost their jobs in the UK over the last 3 years. Many more to come if there is not a deal over Brexit which is, worryingly, looking mopre and more likely.
An increase of 56% of UK kids are being excluded from schools since 2014 of which 80% are ending up in gangs, caught up in crime and anti-social behaviour. I thought it was good that Sadiq Khan the Mayor of London is pragmatic. He knows there cannot be a quick fix. He is looking at Scotland at what they have done and has said it will take time to turn this around, up to 10 years.
Channel 4 conducted the largest survey on Brexit since the 2016 vote. The survey results, revealed during the show, showed that if a #PeoplesVote #FinalSay was to take place now it would be 56% remain as opposed to 46% leave. Of further interest was that 63% agreed there should be free movement, 20% disagreed and 17% didn’t know.
Sunderland which polled at 39% remain and 61% leave in the referendum of 2016 returned 49% remain and 51% leave in the poll.
The governement is still not to be moved on the matter though, and neither is Jeremy Corbyn on behalf of the Labour Party. That Labour “Remain” voters do not appear to be leaving that party in droves is one of the great mysteries of our time!
Arron Banks took some stick and his insurance business and Leave.EU have been fined £153,000 over a data protection breach. Us LibDems were also brought into the spotlight by being accused of selling personal data to the tune of £100,000 pounds to “Britain Stronger in Europe”. At first when I heard this, my wife and I found this very concerning. However looking into it, the party has strongly denied the accusation and stated they shared electoral register data supplied by councils (as many do) and certainly not private membership information. I am content at this explanation.
I used to be one of those people you see wearing a rosette at polling stations - taking people’s voting numbers to help with getting the vote out. In all the years I did this, we Liberals, in the constituents I helped, never had a date base - we just took the numbers!
Over the last couple of days, Macron met May and also Macron met Merkel. The difference between the ambiance of the two meetings were like chalk and cheese! May also met the Belgian PM. They left in different cars in a convoy and two police out-riders had an accident. The Belgian PM got out of his car to check on the police man to see if they were OK. May did not get out of her car… did she lock her doors as well?!
Lastly, Macron’s great grandfather was British and fought for Britain in the WW1 trenches.
That was the week that was 24th - 30th October
from "Garry of the North":-
Monday’s Budget report first…
Watching the Budget took me back to the 2001 Budget. I was the pundit for the Sussex Argus at the time - quite funny really looking back.
Nostalgia over - back to 2018! Before the Budget, Laura Kuenssberg on BBC’s Politics Live, said “Next year, will we have the same Chancellor or Prime Minister?" Indeed...
Another pundit on the show said last year was the “Annus Horribllis” for the High Street.
The Chancellor started his budget by saying that the last time the Budget was on a Monday was in 1962. Well, that is putting the clocks back over 10 years before the UK joined what is now the EU. The Conservatives really do hark on about the “good old days” and really do need to catch up!
He also said: “Austerity is coming to an end”. Last week, the May Bot said “Austerity IS at an end” . So where are we - is Austerity over, soon to be over or maybe not over at all? Well, I can tell you it is certainly not over for us over here thanks to the sterling to euro exchange rate which eroded by more than 15% since the Referendum.
There is money being put aside for the NHS. Over the next 10 years, there are new plans for the mental health crisis and there are plans for greatly increasing staff numbers. Hang on a minute - where are all these staff coming from? They cannot get enough staff NOW, prospective employees are scared of making any commitment that goes beyond B-Day next March. Are they going to train the whole of the population of the Isle of Wight?
There were lots of promises for money going to defence, mental heath within the military and welcome funding for the air ambulance service.
Not to mention 420 million pounds to help with pot holes and bridge repairs.
The Government will abolish any new PFI’s (Private Finance initiatives). I hate it when you only get initials!
It is a bit rich from the Tories now - the Labour Party have been banging on about this for quite some time and a bit late for the contractors and people working for businesses like Carillion. They were building UK’s infrastructure but went bust, leaving not only the sub-contractors out of pocket, but also the UK tax payer with unfinished Hospitals and other projects.
Mr Hammond also said that “The change of the high street is irreversible” . That's positive, I must say!
But before the Budget Speech ...
So near, but yet so far. It was reported that 46 Conservative MPs sent letters to the Chairman of the 1922 committee to ask for a vote of no confidence in their leader. It was only two sort of the number needed.Do you think she's got the hint yet?
The home secretary has apologised to immigrants for the scandal that demanded DNA tests for British citizenship. Caroline Noakes (Immigration MInister) apparently knew of this in February, but in May she said she had only known about it "for a couple of working days" and therefore had not had time to look into it...Clearly she hadn't worked many days between February and May then....
Fifty of the 165 Debenham stores are to close, leading to large job losses. The low-end stores like Lidl, Aldi & Primark plus the high-end like Harrods are all doing well. It's those in the middle getting hit.
“Sir” Philip Green was outed by Lord Peter Hain under Paramilitary privilege where it would appear that “Mr Green” apparently took out an injunction against the Telegraph from publishing details of his inappropriate behaviour concerning females and non-white Britons. Well done my Lord for exposing this!
Should it turn out to be true, maybe we can strip the "Sir" from Philip Green's title? It seems he was happy to do so himself.
John McDonnell had a few scabs on his head & nose. Channel 4 News asked if he had been in a fisty, he said (My quote of the week): "Coming home from parliament, I got off the bus and it was dark and I fell over because someone had fly-tipped at the top of my road.”
More than one million incidents of fly-tipping were dealt with by councils in England in 2016-17, the fourth year in a row that the number of incidents had increased. Looks like his council hadn't got round to dealing with this lot though - take a torch next time Mr McDonnell!
If, as anticipated, the Chancellor in the Budget next Monday heralds money for roads, we must thank the last Chancellor for it. It was George Osborne who promised this initiative.
Lastly, Andrew Neil on “This Week” said that FaceBook will now be known as “Clegg Book” following Nick’s controversial acceptance of a new job.
That was the week that was 17th - 23rd October
from "Garry of the North":-
This week’s Brexit rollercoaster has only been heading one way, downwards. The UK will still have to pay back the 39 Billion pounds in the event of no deal. This is one rollercoaster that, for sure, has not passed its safety checks!
John Major said that Britain will be worse off with a no deal Brexit and that staying in the single market and customs union is the only deal that would get through parliament.
At the EU summit everyone had been committed to an agreement over Brexit by October 2018. What went wrong? In fact the Italian Premier said, “No news from May, no next summit date”. Meanwhile May was reporting “good progress”. Something somewhere does not add up!
My first quote of the week came from Lithuania: Xavier Bettel, who, realising progress was grinding to a halt, said: “I am able to come back as often as we need to come to find a solution but I am not here to come to have a cup of coffee and shortbread.”
Peston on Wednesday evening “Is Theresa May a Boadicea? What happened to Boadicea” (Boadicea was known as Buddug in Welsh) I think I prefer the Welsh pronunciation in reference to our PM (you can hear it at https://forvo.com/word/buddug/)
John McDonnell said that the Brexit minister is now known as “Rabb C Brexit”
May left Brussels on Thursday with only an offer of a Brexistention although she said it would only last a matter of months after December 2020. Additionally, it could cost an extra ten billion pounds needed to be sent to the EU with no rebate. Good deal Theresa!
A poll in Italy, back in May 2018, that says only 44% of Italians want to stay in the EU. Nonetheless, that marked a turnaround from the previous October when 48% percent were negative. Nevertheless, clearly, the EU bloc cannot allow the UK to have their cake and eat it, since they must prevent potential further fragmentation.
The despicable actions of Saudi Arabia who, it appears, sanctioned the killing of an exiled Saudi journalist and the slow reactions from the UK has also hit the news. Could it be the 4.7 Billion pounds of armed sales the UK sell to that Kingdom have something to do with it? I do believe one thing, I believe, begrudgingly that even Jeremy Corbyn would have responded in a better way if he was PM.
On Saturday, and estimated 700,000 people from the four corners of the UK and beyond marched in London demanding a “Peoples Vote”. What an uplifting sight that was! But now the hard work must continue, there is no time to sit on our laurels, congratulating ourselves. My quote of the week comes from Amanda Platell on the Andrew Marr show. She referred to a placard at the #PeoplesVoteMarch on which was written “NEXT WEEK THE CLOCKS GO BACK AN HOUR: NEXT YEAR THE CLOCKS GO BACK 45 YEARS”. My sentiments entirely.
Also, Amanda who has her ear to the ground in Parliament said she truly believed that there was a 50/50 chance that Theresa May will NOT be the UK’s Prime Minister by the end of next week. This is not necessarily a good thing….
That was the week that was 7th - 16th October
from "Garry of the North":-
The state of crime was prominent at the beginning of the week, with statistics such as: Out of the 438,000 reported robberies last year, only three per cent were successfully solved. Naturally, the lack of officers is being blamed.
“Screening out” (a term used to mean cases not being investigated) is being used all over the UK. For example, West Yorkshire police are screening out 56% of all crimes. In other words more than half of all crimes will not be investigated.
West Yorkshire is by no means alone - Sussex has a 50% rate of screening out and Bedfordshire has 56%.
Since 2010 there are 22,000 fewer police officers in the country.
If a shoplifter steals under £200 worth of goods, they will not face court! Some say that vigilante justice could be just around the corner in the UK. What a ludicrous - and dangerous - situation.
Along with private schooling and private healthcare, private security is also becoming main stream.
James Hamilton-Paterson was promoting his new book about the de-industrialisation in the UK on Sky News. He told us that at the end of the 2nd World war, 53% of all World shipping was built in the UK - Sadly, this is far from the case now. During his interview, James came up with my chosen quote of the week: concerning the negotiations over Brexit - “The government have an IQ of mildew”.
Kent goes from the “Garden of England” to the “Carpark of England"
The Brexit car park started to take shape during the week although the local Tory MP Mr Tom Tugendhat seems to have had no idea it was happening! He criticised Chris Grayling, apparently on assurances that a contingency should not be needed after Brexit.
Now we find out work has begun on “Operation Brock” work has already started on Kent’s M20. There will likely be further closures ahead. It has also been revealed that the Government are planning to use the 10-mile stretch of the M26 between the M25 and M20, which is around 65 miles from Dover as another area to park lorries.
Rod McKenzie of the Road Haulage Association said “Imagine spending 15 hours parked up on a motorway with no lavatory or washing facilities - the mind boggles”. Portaloo manufacturers could make a mint!
That was the week that was 1st - 6th October
from "Garry of the North":-
Firstly, I have found it so sad to see the devastation the tsunami has caused in the Philippines, 1700 people so far found dead and it looks like that number will rise by another 5000 who are missing. It took me back to Boxing Day in 2004.
I was on holiday on Penang in Malaysia and was due to go to Phuket two days later. Although we were very lucky as 34 people died about half a mile along the beach we were staying on, watching that wave come in was one of the most frightening things I have very seen. My heart goes out to the people affected - almost all the survivors with no insurance to help rebuild their lives and this combined with a very poor economy.
Back in the UK, the austerity that has been going on for ten years started because of the banking crisis - mainly due to the reckless investment strategy of RBS that the UK tax payer had to bale out.
We have had the party conferences and it was telling that the Labour Party - who were claiming the Conservative party had caused the problem - were in fact the party who let the banks behave the way they did and agreed the bale-out in 2008!
At the Conservative party conference the Boris took to the stage. The thing that came out of his speech was that as he is doing such a good job at dividing his party. It seems he is doing a wonderful job for us who want a 2nd vote - thank you Boris!
Anna Soubry said on the Peston show on Wednesday evening that pro-remainers at the conference were not allowed to hold a meeting in the conference centre (so much for Free Speech!) However Boris was allowed to lunch a leadership campaign. The two politicians on the show, Anna and Stella Creasy (Labour) both want a Peoples vote with “remain” on the voting slip.
Aaron Banks - UKIP’s past principle banker - hopes to now join the Conservative party and is promoting Boris by paying for his FaceBook promotion. How far to the right are they swerving?
I did not think that much of Theresa May's speech. To say she was proud to be the first PM to visit Kenya in 30 years when Macron has been courting African Countries ever since he has been leader to help the French economy did nothing to impress me of her overseas diplomatic skills.
The Tory app for the conference (which had no password) allowed for personal details of most at the conference to be shared. So much for GDPR! What great promise for the technology needed for the Tory's suggested option for the Irish border problem! Here come more chaos, methinks!
DUP deputy leader Nigel Dobbs said that the problem with the back-stop agreement was for the NI assembly to agree on. Just one problem Mr Dobbs! Although being paid, the assembly members have not been sitting for 2 years!
My quote of the week comes from Milton Jones (Mock the week) talking about the proposed Festival of Britain after Brexit, said “Everyone living in tents and sharing showers. It’s a festival, it’s a festival!”
That was the week that was 24th - 30th September
from "Garry of the North":-
HIV & Hepatitis C has been in the headlines this week with the opening of an inquiry for those who were infected because of contaminated blood products. These came from the USA where people are paid to give blood, (such as prison inmates), due to a shortage in the UK. This started in the 1970s and continued through the 80s and 90s. Why has it taken so long? 3,000 affected people have died during this period. Over 30,000 have been infected - why has it taken so long for this inquiry to start?
These people have also had to take the stigma that was certainly around in the 80s and 90s. It was brought home again to me when I watched “Philadelphia” this week.
I hope this inquiry will hold accountable those unelected civil servants and government members who knew about it and did nothing.
Another thing I found really upsetting this week was that it has come to light that on the 16th May 1996, John Major (then PM), sent a letter saying that people who were infected with HIV/Hep C - through blood given by the NHS - should apply to the lottery fund for treatment! Before I heard this, I never had a problem with him, that has changed in my mind now.
I used to give blood in the 70s, 80s and 90s. I recall I was only given a cup of tea and a couple of biscuits. Well, I have never drunk tea so maybe more should have been encouraged to donate by offering a slightly wider choice?!
BREXIT!!! (for sure, a week cannot go by at the moment without this cropping up!)
At the start of the week, it was said there could be a people’s vote at the Labour conference with an option to say in the EU. Well that was Sunday. Then, on Monday, it was declared a people’s vote would rule out that option. Then Keir Starmer stood up and categorically said there would be an option to stay within the EU on any vote. Thank you Keir! Jeremy Corbyn confirmed he would stand by the will of the Labour members who are 90% in favour of a 2nd vote on Brexit (thoughn on what terms…). We will see… the Liberal Democrats have been consistent in their pro-Europe messages all the way through this mess, the Labour Party….well, I rest my case…
A no-deal Brexit would likely mean problems with flights to and from Europe, which could include extra costs. Buses, coaches, boats of course, will also have difficulties. Then there could be the need to visit a vet 4 months before you intend to travel between the UK and EU with animals. These negotiations are unraveling like a very bad cat’s cradle!
To look on the bright side - there could be a bonanza in discounted holidays if you book for next April and beyond, but “Buyer Beware”!
One positive for the world this week.
The original Blimp, Donald Trump, got laughed at during his speech at the UN when he said he was running the most successful administration in US history!
That was the week that was 17th - 23rd September
from "Garry of the North":-
This week has been mainly about Brexit. I have heard talk from some, saying: “We were OK before we joined in 1975”. What a load of tosh! We were trying to join for years.
Charles De Gaulle vetoed the UK’s application before we were finally let in, I remember. It was the year I left school at 16, I was paying tax, could join the army and even get married but could not vote! Two years later at 18 I would have been able to vote, just as those who were 16 during the referendum would now be able to vote in a 2nd referendum and these are the people who would be affected by the vote more than other groups.
Teresa May, on Tuesday, tried to deflect Brexit by announcing an extra 2 Billion pounds for social housing for 2021/2022! One slight problem, it is possible she will not be Prime Minister next month let alone 3 or 4 years, so this can only be seen as a smoke screen.
On Thursday, the BBC reported that the Chequers’ Brexit deal (my quote of the week) “Was in tatters and was unraveling like an over-baked Battenberg cake”
May now wants the EU to come up with an answer to Brexit! Unbelievable! This is the woman who invoked article 50 without a plan. She has some cheek, the EU didn’t ask the UK to leave!
She has told the EU 27 that it is “My deal or no deal” so we are at an impasse again. She also said if there was a no deal, EU nationals will be secure, nothing about us ex-pats, looks like we are being forgotten by her.
Jeremy Hunt has asked for calm.
David Davis, Kate Hoey and the Farage were together on a platform in Bolton, the 3 less-than-wise monkeys.
Emmanuel Macron said “People on the leaver side were liars”.
Things seem to be looking up on some fronts - 86% of Labour members want a 2nd referendum. Their leaders have said they will listen to their members at conference and said they will support a people vote if the members asked for it. (But - watch for the terms of any referendum they suggest following Unite’s Len McCluskey saying Brexit referendum should only offer ‘Deal or No deal’ choice. It’s beginning to sound like a television show…in the UK edition broadcast on 7 December 2009, a contestant named Corinne opened her box to reveal (and thus win) 1p, having turned down first an offer of £88,000 and then an offer to swap boxes, which would have given her the top £250,000 prize. )
That was the week that was 10th - 16th September
from "Garry of the North":-
A quote for the start of the week came from the BBC’s Mock the Week last Sunday evening when a panellist commented: “If the Conservatives were a family, they would have a social worker by now”.
Peter Mandelson on Monday said: “The 29th March leave date must be extended”
Chris Bryant Labour Rhondda said in a commons debate and is my quote of the week when he said “How can you take back control of your borders when you do not have border controls?”
Rotterdam is the largest port in Europe. An example was given on how tomatoes from Holland coming through the port take 12 hours from being picked to being put on the shelves in British supermarkets. A no-deal Brexit would likely add an extra 5 hours! Multiply that up across all goods!
Sir Ralf Speth, CEO of Jaguar Land Rover said that a hard Brexit would lead to a loss of tens of thousands of jobs in the UK and one consequence for him could lead to a move out of the UK. At present, many staff are likely to move to a three-day week.
Another problem with a no-deal Brexit could mean British drivers using their UK licences could need to get an International licence to drive over here on the continent - there is therefore even a chance you will need one to drive between the North & South of Ireland! I am pleased I have a French one.
The French foreign minister said that trains and planes could be going nowhere if there was a no-deal.
Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England, this week stated that house prices in the UK could fall by a third under a no-deal. That could be the only good thing to come out of a no-deal! However, I believe that a fall in house prices would be more of a consequence of over inflated prices, as seen in the past several times. When house prices are inflated, you get a boom or bust bubble. I feel it is time for house prices in the UK to fall and my feelings are that it will happen even if the UK stays in the EU.
Mark also said that a hard Brexit could cause the same financial crisis the UK had in 2008.
Today, we have had Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, call for a 2nd vote on Brexit, more and more people of influence are coming to the conclusion that a 2nd or "Peoples vote" is the only way forward.
That was the week that was 3rd September - 9th September
from "Garry of the North":-
Well, we are now back in full flow, our Blip, the Boris said that the Maybot’s “Chequers” agreement was two-thirds of “Diddly Squat”. His body mass index is certainly “Squat” but more than “Diddly”.
Amber Rudd said on the new “Politics Live” morning BBC show that “Politics has become more toxic because of social media. Momentum have made it worse”
Emily Thornbury was asked in that same show if she thought there would be a 2nd vote on Brexit . She commented Labour would not rule out anything, but would prefer a general election.
Philip Rycroft who is the permanent secretary to the department for exiting the EU said that the PM - our very own “Maybot” - was in charge of the UK’s exit of the EU negotiations, but when asked when people/business might know if a NO DEAL in the negotiations was likely” said: “between September 2018 and March 2019”!
Then we had the case of Steve and “Air” Park. Air (the name she is known as) is from Thailand. She came to the UK and married her partner Steve 4 years ago. However, her 6 year visa has run out. The UK government now have refused her a new visa and appear to have told the couple (both of whom were working) that the solution is they can just move to Thailand. Never mind Brexit - this sums up what a caring Country the UK is!
Both Joan Ryan, North London and Gavin Shuker have had votes of no confidence from their local Labour constuency parties. This brings me on to Thursday:
Our Sir Vince has come up with an initiative about the centre ground in politics. Also today, Tony Blair said it was a time to chance the centre ground. I have a lot of time for Tony Blair. I remember singing “Things will only get better” in my lounge on the morning after his election win in 1997,
I believe us Libdems can be the only party to lead this initiative. I remember how in March 1981 the SDP formed and entered into an informal alliance with us Liberals. On the 16th June 1981, this arrangement was formalised into an alliance, with both parties agreeing to stand down in each others favour. Between 1981 and 1983, the parties together won seats in by-elections in:
Croydon North West (Bill Pitt Liberal)
Crosby (Shirley Williams SDP)
Glasgow Hillhead (Roy Jenkins SDP)
Bermonsey (Simon Hughes Liberal)
In the 1983 election, the alliance won 25.4% of the vote, the Labour Party 27.6%, very close.
In 1988 the two parties became one. It was not an easy time for some of us Liberals, the SDP appeared to me at that time to be the more aggressive or should I say assertive. However,there has been a lot of water under the bridge since then - now we are one happy family - and I think we could adapt again to become the leading centre left party fit for the 21st century.
That was the week that was 27th August - 2nd September
from "Garry of the North":-
Crime starts this week’s update. It appears crime is rising in the UK. The old police station I knew in Worthing (biggest town in West Sussex) which was always open, closed years ago. The new smaller one is open between 9am and 8pm, although closed on a Sunday and Bank holidays! It is good to know the UK police know when crime happens!
A driving factor for this crime increae must be the lower numbers of police on the streets in the UK.
Here in our local town, 2 miles from our village, with its population of 2,500 people, the authorities are refurbishing all the officers' housing, I really feel safer here in the North of France than I would in the South Coast in England. What has gone wrong in the UK?
Is it all about low tax and low services? It makes you wonder and thank our luck we are here in France.
You can find out more about the Liberal Democrat plan for addressing the rise in crime here: https://www.libdems.org.uk/rights
The “MayBot” was in Africa (clearly not auditioning for “Strictly Come Dancing!") trying to drum up business post Brexit.
Macron had visited all of the three she dropped in on many times before the “MayBot” did - does that mean you cannot make your own deals while in the EU? Please someone tell the Brits!
Incidentally, Kenya was pleased to see a British PM arrive for the first time after several decades - that should bode well!
Scallop wars broke out off the coast of Normandy. Two sides to this:- agreed conservation or greed? Whatever the legal stance, take your own view, I’m a Francophile.
Many UK trawler businesses have sold their fish quota to the Spanish fleet, which could mean after a hard Brexit the UK could face another Spanish Armada - this time who will win?
My quote of the week comes from Kevin Maguire during his Sky newspaper review on Wednesday. Talking about Brexit, he said: “13 miles of portaloos down the M20 after 29th March next year" - was that on the side of that bus”?
This week Panasonic said it is planning to move its HQ to the continent - another loss for the UK. However, on the same day as this was announced, Liz Truss, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, was visiting “Signature Flat Breads” to talk to them about the benefits of Brexit. They have about 900 employees of whom 500 are non-UK Europeans - that bodes well too!
That was the week that was 19th August - 26th August
from "Garry of the North":-
It is so pleasing to see an end to the silly season. My wife had told me to “get a life” because there was very little to report on for the previous four weeks. Politics is a large part of my life, so I have got it back now!
During this week, I contacted my MP, Sir Peter Bottomley (as my UK constituency is Worthing West). In an email, I told him how Brexit is affecting British citizens here in France – and of course all over the rest of Europe. Surprisingly, he replied almost immediately though the correspondence between us was a little confused (it was pretty late at night!)
The following day we spoke on the phone. He was very pleasant, saying that it did not matter what political view one had which led me to use, as my quote of the week:-“Ignorance and apathy are the problems today”
He has also offered to give us a comment or two under the “Brexit vote – two years on”. I look forward to receiving it.
Other LibDems up here in the North have also contacted their MPs, I urge you all who can to do the same. Make a noise!
7 months until “Brexit Day”. 8 weeks only until our Government is meant to give the EU details of their Brexit proposals for a negotiated exit deal, which will be good for the UK and Europe. Don’t hold your breath!
The UK have finally given some advice, a “White Paper” about a third of issues so far on what the likely out come of a no-deal Brexit will be, what problems we all may have and what advice you need to help you cope. The EU have been putting in place their own “no-deal papers” for over a year – why is the UK government so apparently incompetent? (answers on a postcard please!)
One odd highlight: sperm donations from Denmark are under threat. The UK relies on these for IVF treatment. This one should help keep the Brexiters happy – it’ll keep the population down!
There was a lot that Dominic Raab said that was very worrying, but I don’t want keep raking over what problems a no-deal will mean to us, we know most of them by heart now.
However, I know many of you have been deeply depressed since the Brexit vote which has caused some to need professional medical help - all I can do is tell you, LibDems are fighting back - even more so in France! Talk from Raab about not losing your BLT sandwich is quite disingenuous and derogatory to people’s intelligence.
In other news, Australia is now on its 6th PM in 8 years, maybe we should take their lead!
Those of you on the Libdem email list would have received details of a really exciting initiative from the executive here in France. Us few in our group in Northern France have been putting these flyers. Every business we approached has put them up:- Vets, supermarkets, Bakers, chemists, bars/restaurants. Please do what YOU can, because “DOING NOTHING IS NOT AN OPTION”:- Otherwise, in Raab’s last briefing white paper, we may be advised - as for nuclear war, “Stand up, open your legs, bend down and kiss your backside goodbye”.
That was the fortnight that was 6th August - 20th August
That was the Week that was* from "Garry of the North":-
This silly/holiday season has started with the “Boris” - talking about Muslims wearing letterboxes, he has brought “Trumpification” into British politics. Also he was reported as the “worst” foreign secretary in history! Yet he is baying to get into number 10. Dominic Grieves said Boris was not a fit and proper person to lead the Country and added he would leave the Tories if the "Blimp" was elected leader. An argument goes that BOris is deliberately "UKIPifying" his party deliberatly with such inflammatory remarks. We are also seeing the spectre of "entryism" - a deliberate policy to build the hard right in the Tory party.
A sad fact is that in a poll, the Country was split 50/50 on his remarks and is quite thought-provoking. ( Curious fact from Data Officer - did you know that "YouGov" who conduct so many polls are nothing at all to do with the government?)
The “Corbyn”. In 2014 he, as a backbencher went to Tunisia allegedly to lay a wreath in support of the Palestinians who were killed following their barbaric attack on the Israeli Olympians in 1972. I remember that atrocity.
So we now appear to have the Tories as anti-Muslims, and the Socialists as anti-Jews.
I am so pleased at least us Liberals can remember a Great British scandal, thank you to that late great leader, Jeremy Thorpe, we can never be accused of racism in any way! We are Open, Tolerant and United.
Our own strong "Cable" has been out and about encouraging the #PeoplesVote - see our August Newsletter.
So, the Pope is visiting Ireland next week - all of the DUP MP’s who have been invited to meet him have declined! I am in no way religious, however what a snub to a great man and leader of the Catholic faith. The Irish problem looks like it will not go away and I have applied for Irish Nationality!
Lastly, I know the hierarchy in our Libdems in France are planning an initiative for “Exit Brexit”. I hope you will all embrace this, as I will and do what we all can: - “Doing nothing is not an option”. Again - see our August Newsletter!
That was the fortnight that was 29th July - 5th August
That was the Week that was* from "Garry of the North":-
This is the week in the year our MPs have their extended holiday, (cut 5 days short!), 5 hour delays on euro-tunnel, flight cancellations - all allegedly due to the wrong type of sun!
Arron Banks who gave millions of pounds to the Brexit campaign, although no one knows where that money came from, has been accused of lying about the diamonds he said were found in his diamond mines and also about his links to Russia and their influence in the Brexit vote.
The Royal Welsh Agricultural show took place this week. Wales voted overall to leave the EU yet has 90% of its food presently sold in the EU. Watch out for bonanza deals on Welsh lamb on the UK supermarket shelves after March next year - it may be the closest UK citizens get to a Brexit dividend!
Good news for Wales: Geraint Thomas won the Tour de France! Who needs football?
Who needs to win the World cup!
A sad fact this week showed that there are 33,000 working homeless people this year in the UK. These are people who work in the UK but have nowhere to live, many that are housed in hostels have to leave by 8am in the morning and cannot return until 7pm in the evening. What a terrible indictment of 2018 British society. the percentage of people living in temporary accommodation has risen by 73% in three years.
Living in France but coming from Sussex, I am sad to hear about those commuters who need to travel to London to work each day. 23% of passengers who arrive in London during peak times have to stand these days.
MP’s have called for greater power for the electoral commission because there is evidence that voters have been manipulated by on-line campaigns (many of us were hardly surprised by this news!)
Dominic Cummings, the “Vote Leave” chief ("£350,000,000 a week for the NHS")who has refused to give evidence in the past to MPs, called it “Fake News”!
A good story this week for me:- Both Kate Hoey and Frank Fields have lost the confidence of their own constituency party over their pro-Brexit stance/ They are facing moves to be deselected.
What is happening with the weather? Heat, sun, clear blue sky and brown grass. I live near the English Channel not the Med!
Quite funny, Jeremy Hunt, said in his visit to China that his wife was Japanese. It turns out his wife is in fact Chinese after all! And this is from the UK's foreign secretary!
Brexit continues: Farm owners were asking, when only 0.6% of people in the UK who work in agriculture are British, how the farms will be able to continue post Brexit?
Life in Northern Ireland: Peter Robinson, unionist and ex-DUP said that there could be a border poll, he also said that there could be a united Ireland!
Insulin providers who supply 1,000,000 UK users, are starting to stockpile 4-6 weeks supply in case of a no-deal Brexit.
Dover has one-sixth of all UK trade passing through. The local district council say they have no provision for a "no deal"!
Interest rates have gone up in the UK from 0.5% to 0.75%! There is talk of house prices falling, mortgages payments spiralling! I remember 15% mortgage rates under Norman Lamont. I feel the younger people of today really have no idea what can happen! I believe, as has happened in the past, UK house prices could plummet as mortgages effectively dry up.
Mark Carney, Bank of England chief, said a no-deal Brexit - which is still possible - would be a terrible outcome for the UK, but UK banks were making contingency plans so people would still be able to access money! Meanwhile, on Twitter, some Brexiters were calling this part of "Project Fear".
The soap opera continues - trouble is - this is Real Life.
17th July - 23rd July 2018
That was the Week that was* from "Garry of the North":-
Writing this on Sunday and after it appears there was nearly a general election called last week, I would urge all those who are eligible (left the UK under 15 years ago) to ensure they register to vote and renewed their "Overseas Registration" please...https://www.gov.uk/voting-when-abroad will tell you about it and also give the links to get registered.
If you have not heard from your own local UK constituency that you have been registered to vote after an application or renewal - please ring them and check if you are on the Electoral Register - many, many applications were reported as "lost" before! We cannot afford to be complacent!
At the beginning of the week, “vote leave” (£350,000,000 extra a week for the NHS) were found guilty by the electoral commission and referred to the police, fined £61,000 for over spending half a million pounds on their campaign. Those responsible are now arguing about this. However, they were asked five times to answer questions but never did!
Our blimp Boris did his speech and there was only one thing he said that I understood - apparently the UK now has more overseas missions than any other country, we now overtake France (who needs to win a World cup then?).
Theresa May went in front of the liaison committee, which is made up of the chairs of all committees. She said that there would be a reciprocal agreement between the UK and EU on collecting tariffs (which has since been “discounted” by Michel Barnier).
Bill Cash asked if the white paper was shown to Angela Merkel before she showed it to MPs? Mrs May answered the question in her normal decisive way, so who really knows?
The “common rule book” for trade - which the white paper said the UK would abide to, is arbitrated over by the ECJ (I thought that was a "red line"?).
Ireland was still seen as the UK’s biggest problem in relation to Brexit - if there is no agreement the UK will fall out of the EU with no deal at the end of March next year.
Ian Paisley looks like he will be suspended for 30 sitting days in parliament for accepting 2 luxury holidays in Sri Lanka, paid for from their government, in return for asking the UK government for preferential treatment for Sri Lanka. Does that mean we can get 10% of the tax-payers money back from NI that Mrs May offered for the support of the DUP?
On Wednesday, the Taoiseach in Ireland said they are recurring an extra 1000 custom & veterinary officers needed for airports and seaports.
It has been agreed by the government that arrangements about aircraft flying after the UK leaves would have been sorted out by this summer. However, this has now been put back. Lillian Greenwood, chair of the transport committee, asked Mrs May what people (who were now enjoying their overseas holidays) should do about booking next year’s holidays as of yet here is no agreement with either the EU or the USA?
My quote of the week comes from Lillian who said “Book your flight at your own risk”.
My 2nd quote ot the week, (I could not resist sharing this illuminating comment) was on C4’s Last Leg on Friday. Guest Anna Soubry, when asked what she thought of Trump said:- “He is a dick-head”. Quite a succinct summing-up?
9th July - 16th July 2018
That was the Week that was* from "Garry of the North":-
Firstly, I hope you all had a great 14th July, one of the best traditions in our adoptive country! Here in my little village we had a great day, fishing, BBQ, drinking, playing games, all in the heat of the Pas de Calais (yes, really - it was hot, hot, hot)! Over half of our village turned out - could be because everything was free!
What a week in politics, plus the Trump Blimp flew high...
Our Sir Vince started the week by saying that “Trump is not a friend of our Country, he should be treated in the same way Putin would be”
On Monday, that other blimp, Boris Johnson was due to chair a summit of the six Western Balkan states who wish to join the EU. As we now know Boris was not letting anyone know what he was doing and was trying to write his resignation letter before the PM told the commons of his departure (see waffle section link above for Boris's lie in his resignation letter)
The two-day Balkan summit was very successful and there were thanks from the Prince of Wales who held a dinner for all at the end.
Trump arrives in the UK.
In an interview in the Sun he laid in to the PM, saying that she did not take his advice (which turned out just to be “sue the EU”)... He also said the Boris would be a great, really great, really really great PM ... He also demeaned Sadiq Khan by implying he was the reason for the terror attacks last year!
I want to use a Boris word about what that US Fat “man” said but I have more respect for myself. He should look at the appalling lack of gun control in his own country (that has led to so many child deaths in USA schools) before he has the nerve to criticise the Mayor of London. I think Sadiq has been doing a wonderful job.
Quote of the week comes from Dara O’Briain from Mock the Week. This occurred after the white paper was released - which was sent to the press 3 hours before our MPs saw it.
Dara said that the UK’s opening gambit was more like being in the EU than it was before:-
“After we finish our negotiations when we leave the EU, we will all be speaking French!” Suits me...
Lastly, well done France winning the world cup, at least the English have a better goal keeper (in my opinion).
2nd July - 8th July 2018
That was the Week that was* from "Garry of the North":-
STOP PRESS: Since this: resignations from David Davies, Boris Johnson, two others.... losing count!Must be breaking all kinds of government records!
The week I was expecting is all to be about what was going to happen on Friday, a meeting with the unruly cabinet - a "meeting of minds" - more like a "clash of wills" probably!
However, the news then appeared that there were some shenanigans regarding the funding for the Brexiters during the referendum in 2016. Rumours and blame had been flying around for some time in Social Media and in the papers,
So: - “Vote Leave” (350,000,000 a week for the NHS) have been accused of cheating? What a surprise?! They had been giving money to “Be Leave”.
It is illegal for two campaign groups to coordinate a joint campaign under electoral law. Let's hope there is proof and those who knew are brought to book.
Esther McVey, the work & pensions secretary told the commons that “universal credit” should be rolled out more quickly. Yet the Independent Audit Office - in fact in an open letter - said the opposite on two accounts, McVey was forced to reply on Wednesday and give an explanation in the commons, it turned to be a bit of a non-apology!
In normal times, a minister who appears to lie to the Commons would have to resign, although this is a cabinet with Boris Johnson in it! These are not normal times...
Land Rover again, like other major manufacturers, said that a bad brexit could mean 40,000 jobs directly under threat together with a further 160,000 indirectly.
I have been looking at the Irish backstop in great detail, I have put mine in place by applying and paying the fee for Irish citizenship through my grand-parents last Wednesday, rather that sending all the paperwork off in the post, I will go in person to the Embassy in Paris on Tuesday.
Friday happened!! France won the football! Also the government had their all-day breakfast meeting. Theresa May calling it a triumph and that there was now “Collective Responsibility” within the Government & everyone was behind the “white paper” which will be published next week.
Boris (never able to shake that schoolboy behaviour ...) said that the deal was like a turd that the spin doctors were polishing. Dear, oh dear! How low do our MPs have to sink...
Quote of the Week:
On the Andrew Marr show (where most of the talk was about the deal that Theresa May was proposing Andrew said, “We now have a leader we can trust in, thank you...Gareth Southgate”.
25th June - 1st July 2018
That was the Week that was* from "Garry of the North":-
Airbus & BMW started the week by stating that if there was not going to be a good deal in the upcoming Brexit talks for business they will have no option but to take most of their infrastructure & jobs to mainland Europe, to which our foreign secretary Boris Johnson reportedly said “F*** Business! What a great negotiating stance, some could say Trump-like!
Car investment in the UK is reportedly now down by 47%. Is Boris concerned, it would appear not interested.
Liz Truss got in a little trouble with her party for saying that her colleagues should be honest about tax rises needed for their demands for extra spending, also a “wood-burning Gove” could be seen as a lot of hot air.
It has come to light after 10 years that the UK government could have been compliant in the USA’s torture treatment of their assumed enemies. An investigation to what the UK knew and did is being called for.
Macron, here in France, is to bring back National Service of a one month duration for 16 year olds. Living in the North, which has the highest youth unemployment in the Country, I think this is a good & brave idea.
Channel 4’s "The last leg" were talking about Boris, joking about his trip to Afghanistan, saying what would Boris put first his morals or his job - no contest!
My quote of the week comes from that show when Adam Hills said “I believe Boris will lie in front of the bulldozers, he did lie in front of that bus!”
Writing this after France won that great game against Argentina yesterday, we still have two flags hanging from our veranda. I am hoping the cross of St George will still be there next Sunday, at least we haven’t run out of CO2!
23rd June 2018 - Anti-Brexit March - Enjoy! It was not tens of thousands, it was over one hundred thousand and some estimates are 500,000! Keep up the pressure!
18th June - 24th June 2018
That was the Week that was* from "Garry of the North":-
Donald Trump started the week saying “The USA will not become a migrant camp” after splitting families & keeping young children in cages with only tin foil to keep them warm near to the Mexican boarder.
The PM promised an extra 20 million pounds a year for the NHS in real terms by 2023, how would it be paid? Supposedly from “the Brexit windfall” following the UK leaving the EU and for any shortfall from taxation. The office of budget responsibility said that there will be no extra money after Brexit.
But as we know, since the referendum, tax receipts have fallen by 300 million a week partly as a result of poor productivity and a weaker falling currency and as this promise from the PM has not been costed, so it looks as if - if this promise is going to be met - it must come from tax rises.
We Libdems are the only party to have costed a health care tax, looks like the other parties will have to take our lead!
The Tories are talking about a 3.4% rise in funding, but the Institute of Fiscal Studies says it needs to be at least 5%.
The debate about legalising cannabis came to the fore after young Billy Caldwell returned to the UK following treatment for his chronic epilepsy from the world’s second largest paediatric hospital in Toronto. At his return, he had his cannabis-based medication confiscated, necessitating Billy's readmission to hospital in the UK. Fortunately his medicine has now been returned to him, it does seem strange to me that a cannabis-based medicine would be banned when Opium-based treatments are readily available.
26 countries around the world use this medicine and Australia is aiming to be the world leader in cannabis health care.
We LibDems have had a common-sense approach to legalising cannabis in certain conditions for some time...
Brexit was again centre stage this week with the Tory so-called rebels led by Dominic Grieve threatening to help get a “meaningful vote” on the outcome of the Brexit deal, he as before did not go through with his threats, I was pleased to see my favourite "Libdem on the Tory benches", Ken Clarke, stick by his morals and vote against his party.
11th June - 17th June 2018
That was the Week that was* from "Garry of the North":-
This week started with the 45-minute private summit between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un to save the World in Singapore, which followed their 12-second hand shake.
The North Koreans have never kept to their agreements in the past and following Trump’s change of mind on the plane following the G7 summit last week, I’m not that sure the world is a safer place now!
My quote of the week comes from PMQs, following the Labour leader talking about the division in the Conservative party, the PM said of Labour (who are distributing leaflets to their members on how to deselect their own MPs ) “That is division”.
Also, Ian Blackford (the leader of the SNP party in Westminster) refused to sit down, having demanded longer than the 15 minutes that was given to discuss devolved power following Brexit. He quoted it as a “power grab” , was told to leave the chamber and was followed out by all the other SNP MPs. This meant Libdems took over their rightful place as the 3rd largest party in parliament!
One more Brexit area that will affect almost every single person in the UK is the use of a sat-nav (commonly known as a GPS). GPS is in fact an American satellite system, so us Europeans have been putting together our own system, known as “Galileo” which is expected to be a vast improvement over GPS.
To date, the UK hs been a very important part of the development which has already put 22 of the 24 satellites in space needed to run the system, with a further 2 as standbys. However, the UK and the other 27 EU nations have not yet come to an agreement for what is going to happen going forward. That means it is unlikely post Brexit that Britain will be allowed to participate. A further loss of jobs would ensue which will have to go to other EU counties.
Lastly, I cannot go without mentioning Lucy Salek’s courageous attempt to take the Labour stronghold of Lewisham East seat which as we know was always goinbg to be a very difficult challenge. All the more impressive then that she changed the Libdem percentage of the vote from 4.4% in 2017 to 24.6%. A heartfelt well done to Lucy!
“The only way is up”
June 15th 2018
Congratulations to Lucy Salek in Lewisham East and the LibDem campaigners who helped to make a big impact on the residents' voting patterns there and moved us up into second place behind Labour and ahead of the Convservative Party. LibDems are a rising storm!
Report from the Front Line - Tipping Point?
Graham Colley reported in LibDem Voice about campaigning in Lewisham East:-
"I spent Saturday afternoon on the doorstep in a former Conservative ward. I can tell you that most began as undecided but were happy to listen and be convinced. Conservatives know they cannot win. They are still unsure that they should turn their backs on their traditional support. Labour voters almost always say that ‘are unsure’.
"After 50 years of doorstep politics I still cannot tell you that we are at that ‘tipping point’. However, when my doorstep canvassing is interrupted by a LibDem deliver and when electors on the street tell us ‘you LibDems are everywhere’, you know you are ’on a roll’.
"It is clear to me that the voters of Lewisham East want to be convinced. They want to defeat Brexit but need to be helped across their line of traditional support.
4th June - 10th June 2018
That was the Week that was* from "Garry of the North":-
On Monday, the commons had the second reading of a cross party bill to ban buying or selling ivory in the UK.
Also on Monday, when David Steel was asked about a story I covered last week about Jeremy Thorpe, he was also asked about the ongoing discussion in Northern Ireland regarding abortion which is a very emotive question.
He replied: “It should be up to the UK government to decide because the NI government has not been governing for almost 18 months”.
It is good to see someone give a straight answer to a straight question.
PMQ’s on Wednesday, the PM as usual would not give any answers to any questions, particularly concerning the release of the white paper on the UK’s proposal to leaving the EU, which was promised in early June.
This is now being delayed until after the 17th/18th June EU summit! So not only will we not know, neither will the EU!
My quote of the week comes from Jeremy Corbyn, when asked by the PM if he would rule out a second referendum on Brexit, his response was “silence”. Only time will tell!
On Friday at the G7 conference, the so-called special relationship between the UK and USA did not appear that special as Trump would only have one-to-one meetings with the French and Canadian leaders.
Macron, who it seems will answer a question said “Donald Trump will not be in power for ever”!
Lastly, I want to wish Lucy Salek good luck in next Thursday’s Lewisham East by-election.
I have a personal interest, having been born just up the road in Bermondsey. My life long football team will be her local football team. We are having a problem with a compulsory purchase order over Millwall FC land. The club chief executive has written to all the main candidates:- Lucy’s answers are quoted below. The only candidate not to answer (as of last Friday) was Labour.
It is clear to see who is most concerned and knowledgeable about local worries and problems...
The answers from Lucy, LibDem parliamentary candidate for Lewisham East:-
1. Do you support the use of a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) over the Millwall land?
No. As I saw when I came to the Den earlier in the campaign the community work that Millwall FC do is powerful. The Liberal Democrats will stand with Millwall in the fight to protect the club from Lewisham Council. I am extremely disappointed that Labour have badly let down the club and community.
2. Do you approve of the sale of council land to private property developers?
The most important thing with any decision is that a council speaks to all stakeholders involved in any project. It is also vital that the council always do what the they can to protect community services. Clearly in the case of Millwall FC, none of these safeguards have been met.
3. Do you agree that Millwall Football Club should be a participant in any development of the land around its stadium?
Millwall should be involved with any development in the land around The Den so that the club can continue to do its vital work for people of all ages in our community.
29th May - 3rd June 2018
That was the Week that was* from "Garry of the North":-
As there was no parliament last week, I was thinking this was going to be a very barren week, on Monday.
Nevertheless. my quote of the week soon came from my baker Emile, (partaking of a small glass when he delivered our bread), said “Did you know about the terrible hailstone storms in the Bordeaux area? There is going to be a shortage of rosé wine!” I thought that would be my main concern for a while.
Then things started to change.
We had a fake death clam in Ukraine, a reporter was allegedly killed by the Russians, but they came back to life the next day!
The NHS, it was reported that the NHS needs a further 7 billion pounds to bring it up to date.
On Thursday, the start of potential trade wars began, the USA imposing a 25% steel & 10% aluminium trade tariff for imported metals, this was followed by talk for the EU imposing tit-for-tat trade tariffs.
There was anger from the UK, the director of UK steel stating: “We have no special relationship with the USA”
The Chief Constable of Northern Ireland is asking for an extra 400 police officers needed, at a cost of tens of millions of pounds, for the border post Brexit, this is being backed by police federation of Northern Ireland.
Lastly, following the revelations of the Labour party’s problems with anti-Semitism & the Conservative anti-Muslim rhetoric, the case concerning the former Liberal leader, Jeremy Thorpe (who sadly passed 4 years ago) has been reopened by the police. Jeremy Thorpe was acquitted in 1979 following an accusation from a former friend, Norman Scott that he (JT) had tried to have him shot.
The assumed hit man, Andrew Newton, who was believed to be dead, has been found alive and well in Surrey. This seems to be the week of the resurrected.
Back in the day, as a “Young Liberal” in Horley Surrey, we had written to Jeremy to ask him to be our President, so this tale has raised many distant memories of those times.
This is all come about because the BBC have over the past 3 weeks been showing a dramatisation of the scandal.
21st - 28th May 2018
That was the Week that was* from "Garry of the North":-
Resignation: Ken Livingstone resigns from the Labour party following his remarks regarding insistence that Adolf Hitler was “supporting Zionism”.
Brexit and Economy: On Tuesday, Mark Carney, Bank of England Governor said that since the Brexit vote in May 2016, each household has been £900 a year worse off.
Also, the economy is £40 Billion smaller since the vote, this also includes the full in sterling.
Quote of the week: Andrew Neil on Wednesday, during his daily politics show following Mark Carney’s statement “40 Billion lost in the economy means £300 million lost every week in tax revenue. What did they say on the side of that bus?!”
Ireland: On Friday, the vote in Ireland to repeal the 8th amendment went yes by 66% to no 33%.
Northern Ireland: are now asking – “Why not us?” The DUP - who stand by these"draconian laws” - are the 10 MP’s that are still propping up our Conservative Government!!
(Note: Views expressed are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of the committee or of the Liberal Democrat Party)
24th May 2018 From the Ipswich Star:
Former Ipswich mayor Inga Lockington has had her application for British citizenship turned down by the Home Office – because officials will not accept that she is a UK resident…
She married Dr Tim Lockington in 1979 and has lived in this country ever since.
She had not applied for UK citizenship until now because as an EU citizen she had the right to live here – and until two years ago Denmark had laws which said she would lose the citizenship of her homeland if she became a naturalised Briton…
The Home Office letter says: “As you have not provided a document certifying permanent residence or a permanent residence card issued by the Home Office, we cannot be satisfied that you were permanently resident in the United Kingdom no the date of your application for naturalisation and it has been refused.”
Mrs Lockington said there was no need for EU citizens to have a permanent residence card.
13th June 2018
POLICE CLOSE HUSTINGS AT LEWISHAM EAST FOLLOWING CONCERN FOR PUBLIC SAFETY
Liberal Democrat candidate Lucy Salek said: "I will always defend the right to peaceful protest but the toxic and threatening atmosphere outside the hustings tonight was totally inappropriate"
Police took the decision to close the hustings held in advance of the Lewisham East by-election amidst the concerns that the demonstrations concerning the Far Right Candidate were causing a potential threat to public safety.
Our LiberalDemocrat candidate (riding high in the polls), continued:-
"If Labour had attended the hustings they could have joined with me in defending our values.
"But instead they stayed away, fanning the flames of intolerance and refusing the people of Lewisham the chance to hear from those who wish to serve."
Women’s Equality Party candidate Mandu Reid said: "The biggest parties should have been standing shoulder-to-shoulder against hate".
A Labour spokesman said: "This has nothing whatsoever to do with the official Labour campaign.”
Paris: 14/05/2018 LibDems in France took part in organising a well-attended Brexit Forum in Paris. A report will be in our next Newsletter (you can subscribe by clicking on the "Take Action" tab). A diverse set of questions were raised with Catherine Bearder MEP and Tom Brake MP.
13th -20th May 2018 That was the week that was!
Harry & Megan married - a wonderful day for them and the crowds. Congratulations to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex
Question time (Thursday) on BBC1 – the question to the panel was “What is your opinion on the USA opening their embassy in Jerusalem”?
Provoking our Quote of the week: Diane Abbott “No other European country has their embassy there”
Euratom: “Should there be a failure to agree a withdrawal agreement by March 2019, the UK would have to operate outside of Euratom and source radioisotopes from outside of this framework.” Brexit briefing 2017
This week it was agreed that the UK have no chance of being ready to meet any of the requirements in this time frame!
The answer to the Irish border question is getting quite bizarre, the Tories are split on two options, which could result in a leadership contest if one is adopted over the other. It seems the EU may not be enthusiastic about agreeing to them either!
23 months since the referendum over Brexit, this week neither the Conservatives & Labour parties are any closer to agreeing what sort of Brexit they want.
The Libdems remain the only one of the "top three" parties to give clear, unambiguous answers
Stay as a member of the EU or at the very least, a final referendum on the outcome of any proposal the Government eventually cobbles together.
News collated by Gary Spencer, LibDem Local Group:- Pas-de-Calais
A former council leader in Hull , a member of the Labour Party for more than 40 years has now cancelled his membersHip. In a leTter to Jeremy Corbyn he stated
"...The fantasy of building socialism in one country is absolutely not worth abandoning our commitment to the most socially progressive social, economic and political experiment humankind has ever engaged in. I am not the sort of member you should be losing but you’re about to lose me".
(The LibDems won 31 seats in Hull duRing the May 2018 Local Elections. On tHe City Council, they increased their share from 17 to 24 seats )
LONDON: 13/05 Theresa May stated she could be trusted to "deliver Brexit" but not without compromise on all sides. In a feature in the Sunday Times, she stated "I will need your help and support to get there and in return, my pledge to you is simple: I will not let you down." (Many of us felt let down by her a long time back...)
PARIS : 12/05/2018 A person was killed in a knife attack which wounded four others in the heart of Paris. The assailant, thought to be a terrorist, was shot dead by police. President Macron emphasised after the attack that France "will not yield an inch to the enemies of freedom.
EUROVISION: 12/05/2018 During the song by the UK entrant, a protestor rushed the stage and grabbed the micophone, shouting out something about the UK media. He was budled away and singer SuRie managed to continue her act.