Comments: Year ending

It's hardly indicative of the rest of the world, but all my friends in India have wished me a happy Christmas and posted pictures of their Christmas trees. So I daresay Father Christmas visited them, though only one is Christian - and hardly anyone I know in this country is, yet he cheerily came to them too.

I can't quite run with 'Happy' either, for 2019. But maybe. And we will, I'm sure, have happy moments. There's still love and friendship, anyway. All the best to you and your lovely man.

Posted by Z on 31 December, 2018 at 9:43 PM

And a happy new year to you BW (and Mr BW).

“...the amount the UK has to pay the EU for the pleasure of leaving its ever closening alliance.” This amount is actually zero. The amount to which I think you refer is to honour our existing commitments to the EU, made before the curious decision to leave. Of course, we are already paying a price to leave – rather heavier than most seem to imagine – in terms of our forthcoming lack of participation in European Union organizations of which many will not have heard of or care about, legal, scientific, etc.

“...single-entity Europe” - I would suggest that Europe is nowhere near a single entity. The United Nations lists 44 countries in Europe, with vastly varying cultures and governance. Incidentally Eurovision is a product of the European Broadcasting Union (comprising 72 members in 56 countries, and 34 associate members from a further 20 countries) which is headquartered in Switzerland.

I have also seen online confusion (not on your blog, I would hasten to add) between the Council of Europe (47 member states) of which the European Court of Human Rights is a part; and the Council of the European Union (28 member states) of which the European Court of Justice is a part. So much confusion, in fact, that it is not surprising that no-one seems to understand why anyone else voted the way they did in the referendum, and our elected representatives seem even more than usual to be looking after their own backs rather than the interests (or even wishes) of their constituents.

Now I must stop – I have to go and set up a ferry company, and time is short!

Posted by Tim W on 1 January, 2019 at 10:10 AM

Oh Tim, we will agree to disagree on this subject of course, but...

"The amount to which I think you refer is to honour our existing commitments to the EU

Except that we are getting nothing back for that forward contribution. This is *exactly* what I meant when I said has anyone seen any credible info on how the figures were derived.

And what about our share of the buildings and other 'assets' etc that 'the EU' own? Remembering that there were only 6 coutries in the EU originally, and only 9 after we were eventually allowed to join in 1973, so let's do some properly weighted sums.

Of course Eurovision isn't the EU. But the way the other countries gang up with their friends and cast their votes for them (with no reference to quality of product) exemplifies the way the otehr 27 have treated the UK in recent times.

The other 27 EU countries don't want us to leave. And it's not because they love anything about us other than our money and the things it gives them access to.

*If* the UK live (and I think it is a huge *if* now) then it won't be long before other countries do too. Some of the smaller recent-joiners can see all that they will be losing if that happens and so of course are supporting their own corner and self-interest.

The EU is a huge foreign aid project now, rapidly becoming a single entity, and not at all what it was all about at the outset.

The desire for ever-closer fiscal unity and a common EU army being just the most obvious manifestations. The Euro started trading 20 years ago today; that Gordon Brown stopped us going into that mechanism (https://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/comment/jeremy-warner/9109500/Five-tests-that-saved-Britain-from-the-fate-of-economic-oblivion.html) (IMO the only useful thing he ever did) was the beginning of the end for our ability to be fully integrated, and to benefit as much from the Union as most of the other 27.

*If* we leave (see above), in a few years time, people will wonder what all the fuss now was about. History tells me that.

There is absolutely no reason at all why the UK cannot continue to co-operate in scientific projects etc, just as it does with many other countries in the world. Farmers and fishermen of our aquaintance still support leaving and can see ways around the initial issues that will arise. Others could usefully follow their example.

The media have done a great job at scaremongering.

Things have been very very badly handled (due partly to young inexperienced civil servants in the 'Department for Exiting the European Union' - no-one wanted to be posted there, and many refused or resigned to avoid it... the average age of all those in that department is around 30: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/brexit-officials-whitehall-department-no-deal-civil-servants-uk-eu-a8519361.html).

And, talking of self-interest, of those I know who are hugely pro-, every single one of them has a close family member who was not born in the UK.

It's really not going to be the disaster that those who don't want it to happen predict. Really.

Posted by Blue Witch on 1 January, 2019 at 11:10 AM

As you say, we'll have to agree to differ. But I would point out that I don't have any close relatives (or even any at all that I know of) not born in the UK.
Now, back to the ferry company. I've got as far as designing a logo now, so almost ready for business!

Posted by Tim W on 1 January, 2019 at 11:19 AM

I've just bought up a street of cheap houses in Ramsgate for when your ferry company can't deliver Tim. Just off to list them on Airbnb. Rooms will start at £250 a night.
*rubs Witchy hands with glee*

Joking aside, I have an aquaintance who has a house in Margate that she has been unable to sell who is delighted.

Self interest, yay.

Posted by Blue Witch on 1 January, 2019 at 11:27 AM

Happy New Year BW to you and your husband!

Posted by delcatto on 1 January, 2019 at 12:51 PM

My, I can see how this Brexit thing can be rather contentious. We hear nary a word over here, but the way it sounds that may change in the coming months. Good luck.

But still, Happy New Year to you and Mr BW!

Posted by Scoakat on 1 January, 2019 at 4:46 PM

Happy noo year, to you and all.

as far as "And yet many people continue to clamour to come here, by any means possible. Why?" the underlying answer that dare not speak its name is that the UK is (AFAIK) unique in Europe in that no identification is required in day to day life or for access to most facilities. That's something that has always been patently in our gift to change, and that attractiveness will not change post Brexit.

Whether or not there is a disaster in the offing in the event of Brexit is immaterial, what is significant is that it becomes increasingly clear that we will be worse off in all (?) respects and better off in none.

The challenge, should you wish to accept it, is to articulate one way in which you will benefit from the cessation from the union.


Posted by Ham on 9 January, 2019 at 8:22 AM

It's not all about money and growth Ham.

80% of visits to GPs are for stress-related conditions. Too many people are on zero hour contracts. Many people work 2 or 3 jobs and still don't have enough to live on.

It's got to stop.

It's the small cottage hospital cf the gigantic, paid for by PFI, impersonal hospital.

Things can be different. But not if we stay in the United States of Europe.

Posted by Blue Witch on 9 January, 2019 at 11:11 AM

Absolutely, I agree, although comparative economic output is the easiest concrete measure of benefit that passes through into overall living standards.

But BW, those stress related conditions related to zero hour contracts etc - are you seriously trying to suggest that is a result of European interference? And, that left to our own devices we won't water down the inherent worker protections that exist in most of the European zone (from which we opt out, already) ? PFI is somehow related to European oversight? I can't say I'm overjoyed with so much of the UK social infrastructure being in other European countries' hands, but that tends to be because they are better at the practical running aspects than we are and have longer term investment horizons. Do you see that changing for the better after Brexit? If you do, I think you may be in for a disappointment.

The changes that will be made possible by Brexit all appear to be aligned to the interests of businesses and profits, chlorinated chicken being a prime example, and none that would improve people's lives, I'd be fascinated (truly) to hear otherwise; my challenge still stands.

Just for the record, now we have arrived where we are courtesy of the swine cohabitor, I see no way back and only gloom going forward. On balance I would still prefer to remain in Europe, but I don't think the genie can be put back in the bottle, whatever happens.

Posted by Ham on 9 January, 2019 at 12:20 PM

Does a small hospital work better than a large one?

Does a small school work better than a large one?

Does a small housing development provide a better living environment than a gigantic urban estate/sprawl?

Does a small charity achieve better outcomes for those it targets than a large one?

Yes, I know, define 'better', but, in terms of people's convenience, sense of involvement, sense of control, 'mental health' and sense of 'wellbeing'?

There are correlations between economic/statistical measures, but correlation does not equal causation.

No-one has any idea what will/will not happen after Brexit. But, small is better than big, in my experience.

The problem behind all of this is waste, over-bureaucracy, and people paid huge amounts of money for very little: the differential between 'haves' and 'have nots' is bigger than ever (part of the compound interest/compound pay rises miracle). In my lifetime, I have never felt such huge divisions between people, or felt such despair. Social mobility no longer exists in the way it did in our earlier lives.

Those in 'power' are not bright/experienced/humble enough to see or work out all the problems.

Communism (without the fat cats) must have a lot to recommend it...

I don't think we will now leave the EU, as I've said. But I honestly don't think it will be the disaster the media and politicians are predicting/pushing if we do.

People are very resourceful, *if* they are given the ability to demonstrate it. Back to the small v large distinction I am hypothesising has led to the current feeling of disenfranchisement, and lack of control and accountability felt by many.

We might even get back to manufacturing in this country - people are always happier when they are producing something tangible, that they can see they have contributed to.

Posted by Blue Witch on 9 January, 2019 at 1:01 PM

In answer to your questions, it all depends on how they are run. There is nothing intrinsically wrong about a large hospital, school, housing development. To the contrary, a large hospital may have more and better resources, more efficient processes and better health outcomes for more of its patients. A school may have better capacity to delivery specialised education and the resources to support a wider curriculum, a large housing estate may have better facilities for the larger number of residents.

May, is the operative word, in each case. What happens in practice is the dehumanisation and marginalisation of those who don't quite fit whatever criteria the administration sets. Whatever the failings of the larger entity, those entities are still generally (most likely) better if only in financial efficiency terms which is something, if not everything.

But what has that to do with the Euro bureaucracy? Those tendencies you describe are all home grown and only likely to accelerate in the future, thanks entirely to our own government. Yes, there is a degree of wastefulness in the size and unaccountability of the European edifice, but we're not discussing the merits of that, are we?

Posted by Ham on 9 January, 2019 at 4:40 PM

Meant to add, I understand that there is a deep seated disquiet, and that the general miasma hanging over politics worldwide is symptomatic of this. It is convenient to scapegoat Europe but the root issue (IMO) is the increasing similarity of western democracies to oligarchies and the concentration of wealth and power in the hands of a small self serving minority.

Posted by Ham on 9 January, 2019 at 4:45 PM

Large hospital = EU, will only get larger and less accountable/relevant for individual countries.

Small hospital = potential for UK alone. There is huge potential.

And yes to your 2nd comment above - but it will only get worse the longer the UK continue as part of a huge United States of Europe. There are now too many unaccountable snouts in the EU trough and too many countries and peoples who have nothing in common... except liking handouts from the richer countries. As I said in the post - it should now be considered as foreign aid.

I've been pondering your first comment today - and if you are correct about people wanting to come here as no ID is required to access many things - then I am even more concerned than I was before. And yet we have more proportionally CCTV cameras than any other country. It doesn't all add up.

And we don't need to be immediately better off for leaving to be the better option. Over the past couple of years I have repeatedly said it's necessary to take a 5 and then a 10 year view on the issue.

Time will tell, of course.

Posted by Blue Witch on 9 January, 2019 at 5:58 PM