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Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Brexit and The Dreyfus Syndrome - By Patrick Brigham


At the turn of the 20th Century, much of France was in turmoil. In 1894, Captain Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish French army officer, had been found guilty of treason, and sentenced to life imprisonment, on the notorious Devils Island. A well known story, which revealed rampant Anti-Semitism within both the ranks of the French army, and generally within French society, it was cause to divide whole families.


Those for and against Dreyfus were often at loggerheads, as they took sides within their own family groups, and French society was split down the middle. Often provoking violence, and inevitably causing public angst, in the end Dreyfus was exonerated of all charges in 1906, and continued to serve in the French army, retiring with the rank of Colonel. But what has this got to do with Brexit?


Before the referendum, Great Britain was a fairly homogeneous country, although divided by the haves and have nots, most families followed traditional party lines. Especially the Tory shopkeepers and the professions, who would rather cut their ears off, than to take any political side roads, and vote against their tribal customs. Because, Brexit was not just a political choice as such, but more a question of ageism.

Whilst cotton top politicians espoused the wonders of leaving the EU, most of the younger generation disagreed with them. Described as promoting a better future for the UK and for future generations – by which time the majority of the Brexiteers would be dead in any case – the young people; who they claimed they represented, heartily disagreed with them.


Although the referendum in its initial stages encouraged lively debate, many families became split down the middle, as the frequently unreliable, and wildly inaccurate rhetoric was bandied about. When the referendum was complete, and the 4% leave margin established, these family arguments continued. Especially during the most recent General Election, when the Tory mandate was finally declared. Because, despite May’s promise for a fairer society, there was little real evidence to support this proclamation, even in the Queens Speech.

Young people are not fools, quite the opposite, and with eons of political and economic information on the web, in the recent election, they very cleverly made up their own minds about how caring Mrs Mays team really was. Having practically lost the election, and with the Tory party in disarray, very few British youngsters believed that the tedious mantra, “The best possible deal,” meant anything at all.

And they are not the only ones who think that Mays team are a bunch of losers, because so do the Scottish Nationalists, UKIP, and New Labour – granted not all for the same reasons – and in particular, the European Union itself. But, why does this divide continue when we are told it is all so final? Well, you will have had to have gone to the Glastonbuty Festival 2017, to find out.


Is it that there are too many immigrants in the UK picking strawberries? No, it is about well educated EU professionals, taking skilled UK jobs, because there is no other commercial choice. In most of the EU, education at all levels, is free. So, is it any wonder that British youngsters view the student loan system as obnoxious, and unnecessary? How would you like to be lumbered with a 50,000 GBP debt, for the rest of your life – on top of a mortgage that is – and why on earth would any government wish that on today's eighteen year olds?

Any eighteen year old student, fortunate enough to be studying Economics and Politics, will tell you that both subjects are not an exact science. Clearly a matter of fact at the present time, and as Dreyfus was once pilloried by French society with families divided by prejudice, so the pendulum swings on the subject of Brexit, towards the middle ground and amicable consensus.

Will the neo-colonialists and traditionalists accept a compromise, or will they hark back to the 18th century and Great Britain's place in the world? And, will they stop telling everybody what is good for them, when it is clearly not! Will we see a change of direction, when the present team retires, and a new political group emerges from the scorched remains of David Camerons famous referendum, or can we rely on good old British common sense to find a way?

Saturday, 17 June 2017

A New Beginning for Brexit? - By Patrick Brigham


Emmanuel Macron President of France

France is not famous for having tall presidents – with the exception of General De Gaulle that is – but in terms of height, Emmanuel Macron certainly towers over the last three, particularly in popularity. As the result of beating Marin Du Pen by some two thirds majority, in the recent election, considering that he did so with an independent mandate, might well underline Europes fear of right wing extremism as well as its past oscillation, between the right and the left. By securing the middle ground, perhaps we are now seeing a Blairite reawakening in European politics?

By ignoring the boring and stale views of traditional political parties, stigma infested clich├ęs, rampant popularism, bewildering and unworkable manifestos – presently being banded around by British politicians – is it any wonder that the EU itself, is now looking for a new view on Europe? Seeming to ally himself with free thinking politico’s, as well as good old common sense, perhaps we can now look to Macron, France and Germany, for some new ideas in the future?


It is hard to imagine the UK; now looking across the Atlantic at its oft declared special relationship, seeking any new ideas from the US, since the Trump camp is now exclusively backing a closed economy, and which it can easily afford to do. Britain, on the other hand, might have big ideas about the wonders of Brexit and the Commonwealth, but it simply cannot exist without a strong position in Europe. That cannot be described as a win win situation, because, on the contrary, Mays – getting a good deal for the UK – can never be as good as the one it already has. Macron stated his position some months before the French election, indicating that he will not allow the British Government an easy Brexit passage, and he shows no signs of changing his views.

As an Englishman abroad, I find it easy to discern the difference between internal British propaganda, and the views of Europe, despite a dogged attempt by the British news media to bang the drum of nationalism. Because, that is how Brexit is now conceived in the UK press. The churlishness and deceit of the right wing press – discounting the 48% of voters who chose to remain in the EU – and the rotten means they used to sway the miniscule 2% of the British population in voting leave, defies all definitions of honesty and integrity.

Waffling Trump in Action

And now – if you have been unwise enough to admit voting to remain – certain groups will, unbelievably, brand you as a traitor. Well, George Orwell had this situation summed up in in his book 1984, and to some extent in Animal Farm! In the new era of ‘Alternative Facts,’ must we commend politicians for their bare faced lies? Is that all Donald Trump has done for the world?

According to the Observer newspaper, on the 25th January last – ‘People were already comparing the Trump era to George Orwell’s famed dystopian novel 1984, but all it took was one comment from Kellyanne Conway to send the books flying off the shelves. In the wake of her use of the phrase “alternative facts” to refer to White House press secretary Sean Spicer’s comments about Donald Trump’s inauguration attracting “the largest audience ever,” the book surged to #6 on Amazon’s Bestseller list, reached #2 Tuesday night and took the #1 spot by Wednesday morning.’
President Macron and First Lady Briggite Macron

There is a certain air of superiority in Europe, which I admire greatly. They do not fall for the vulgar and brash, or the bone crunching handshakes of Donald Trump, nor do they appreciate the fool he has made of himself, at the G7 Conference?

I suppose internally, the US either doesn’t see, or understand the amused contempt Europe has for America’s new jackass president. But then again, neither does Trump have much time for Europe. Why? Because he does not understand it, nor could he care less about it. Displaying a degree of ignorance, unprecedented in modern times, he reflects the post WW2 view of US servicemen in the UK, that – ‘They are overpaid, and over here!’