Bring on the Big Guns if you must …

It’s been a while since I last posted, not because there hasn’t been anything that I wished to comment on, if anything, there has been too much. However, I can’t remember a time when either, the news has been less depressing  or the political discourse less one-dimensional. I couldn’t even be bothered to comment further on the trials and tribulations of the Labour Party. However, I probably upset, unintentionally, Jeremy Corbyn when in response to yet another of his email messages asking what question I wanted him to ask at his next Parliamentary Question Time [PMQ], I suggested that he start asking his own bloody questions. There’s plenty to go at with this lot and it’s the job of the opposition to rattle the government’s cage, not to read out letters from people who may or may not exist! I wanted to write something but frankly, I became sick of hearing the same old shit. The Parliamentary Labour Party sniping at each other like a party of  badly behaved children who weren’t getting their own way for once. David Cameron telling us [yes, telling us!] how we would be putting ourselves and our country at risk if we dared to differentiate from the pathways that he and his masters have laid for us. You may wonder who I mean by “his masters” and to be fair to Dave, he is neither the first, nor, will he be the last leader of the Conservatives to dance so energetically to the music of The Establishment. [Should anyone need to know more about this elite group then I suggest you obtain a copy of Owen Young’s excellent book,  The Establishment : And how they get away with it published by Penguin]

The late Margaret Thatcher, on the other hand, was never keen to dance to anyone’s tune and had she possessed one single ounce of humility, would have made an excellent leader of the Liberal Party. However, it wasn’t to be and in the end, despite all of her achievements as Prime Minister [PM] [ depending on your point of view] The Establishment got rid of her. Cameron isn’t a Thatcherite though, he knows full well that those days are past and what matters most is to stay firmly on the side of The Establishment. So, not surprisingly, the PM is warning us against;  voting to leave the European Union [ EU ], collaborating with Russia in an attempt to bring peace to the Middle East, or, not renewing our nuclear deterrent, Trident. To do any of these things would, according to the PM, be a betrayal of everything that is good and decent about our country. Voting to leave the EU would throw millions of workers onto the scrap heap, push up the price of food so that even more decent hard-working families would have to queue at the Food-banks to get their tins of tuna and packets of dried pasta. And not renewing Trident would leave us open to an all-out attack from Russia who, we suspect, have long coveted our country.  Not content with owning our football clubs, most of London and the Stock Exchange – the Soviets want our pubs, charity shops and off-licences as well.

I’m not sure what my own position on the EU is at this moment in time. However, I am naturally inclined towards going against the advice of an extremely right-wing PM who threatens us with “his” perception of an EU free Britain without explaining what the benefits of remaining in the EU actually are. Could he explain, for example, why some goods are much cheaper in the rest of Europe than they are in the UK? However, there is a consensus amongst several independent researchers that we would be better off if we did leave the EU. Civitas, a prominent supporter of the Leave campaign argues that rather than being weakened by leaving the EU,  Britain could in fact, thrive. I’m not sure exactly what “thriving” means in relation to the general public but I suspect, after talking with owners of small to medium size enterprises [SMEs], that they are more frustrated by Europe than expedited by it. The one thing that all critics of the EU agree on is that the community is now totally different to what was originally envisaged and no longer serving its’ intended purpose. Furthermore, there are countries in the EU that shouldn’t be members and so on.  My own concern over the EU is the immense power that certain members have and Germany in particular. I was unhappy with the treatment doled out to Greece recently, a country that I am familiar with and very fond of. However, to understand how the Greeks got themselves into the mess which resulted in Germany forcing their government into an impossible situation, you only have to look back twenty years to when Greece adopted the Euro. I remember well, the local business owners on the Greek islands where my family holidayed, being very much against giving up their own currency in favour of the Euro. However, what government listens to the “little people”, the ones who pay the taxes?

In my opinion, Greece is actually two nations, the highly populated mainland which is largely an administrative sector and the more sparsely populated islands that rely almost entirely on tourism. It wouldn’t be too far off the mark for me to suggest that the inhabitants of Greece’s many islands work harder for their incomes than those living on the mainland. Those people running the tavernas, small hotels, tourist excursions, car hire firms, gift shops etc. are the equivalent of our own SME owners and like them, they work extremely hard to support their families and co-workers. We’ve been taking our Summer breaks in Greece every year for the past twenty-five years and have enjoyed each and every one of them thanks to both the wonderful climate and the local people. I don’t mind at all, paying the same price for a pint of beer in say, Corfu, as I would do at home however, it seems that most people expect to pay much less which is probably why they prefer to holiday in countries like Turkey, Croatia and Tunisia.  I’ve visited the latter and loved it but not enough to want to revisit time and time again. Greece, on the other hand, suits us perfectly. The people have a genuine affection for the “Brits”. You can even pop into a Marks and Spencer if you run out of underwear or if your wife decides that she needs another swimming costume!  However, the Greek economy, since joining the Euro-zone, has performed badly for two reasons, the first being an over-investment in local government jobs and offices funded by generous loans from the EU and secondly, a falling off in the number of visitors to the islands. It’s a catch 22 and unfortunately, Greece has been forced into accepting an austerity programme that will only make their situation worse.

In recent years I have noticed an increase in the number of Russian families taking their holidays in Greece but as much as I hate to sound critical of any race,  they haven’t exactly won over the local people with their charm. I suspect that the problem may be that they [ the Russians] believe that the only way to win over friends in the West is to flash wads of cash, Loadsamoney style, in the faces of any westerners they meet. It is an understandable mistake, after all it seems to work a treat in London however, it doesn’t work so well in the more socialist or Christian societies elsewhere. Perhaps, the Russian families making their first trips to the Greek Islands are just expressing their happiness at being able to travel outside of the Soviet Union? A few years back, whilst in Corfu, I met a Russian holiday maker who gave me a book entitled  It’s a different way of life  written by the journalist Nikolai Yefimov. It is a brief but interesting account of life in Russia before Perestroika and packed full of what I suspect is blatent propaganda although, it may not be. Take this claim as an example, Hubert Humphrey, a former US Vice-President, admitted that after examining the school systems in the United States and the Soviet Union, it became perfectly obvious that millions of Russian children had opportunities for education and intellectual development which only a few in the United States enjoyed. And this one, The Soviet people’s attitude towards foreigners is also friendly. Feelings of haughtiness, arrogance and superiority over other peoples are alien to us: we do not regard other peoples with hostility or prejudices.

There are so many claims in this book that without visiting Russia, you would never know how objective Yefimov had been when he wrote it. However, a very good friend of mine visited Russia on an educational exchange in 2006 and found the people he met to be extremely warm and welcoming, the State schools he visited to be outstanding, their pupils eager to learn and just like the chap I met in Corfu, very likeable.  There are also many examples throughout the book which show the positive effects that Socialism can bestow on the democratic State. Many of these examples have already been adopted by the governments of several EU members including France, Germany, Denmark and Sweden but not Britain. Personally, I blame The Establishment for the poor relationship Britain has with Russia although, it was not always so. Prior to the Bolshevik revolution [1917] when Russia was ruled by an elite, just as it was in Britain, their elite and ours were the best of friends. However, the birth of Russia’s Communist State brought an end to that friendship or to be more accurate, any relationship it once had with Britain’s ruling elite. The Conservatives were and remain still, highly critical of anything that Russia does and they alone, have rendered the term Socialist to become synonymous with the term, Communist. The British establishment’s relationship with North America has exacerbated this situation which is difficult to understand considering that the “New World” was created by immigrants from all over the world including Russia and has never had a monarchy. However, regardless of the facts, the Americans fear the threat posed by Russia more than any other and yet, they are happy to deal with China, another powerful Communist state?

The supposed threat posed by Russia’s Armed forces [ the most powerful in the world ] has created a huge financial problem for Britain in the form of our Nuclear Deterrent, the Trident missile, which is currently up for renewal at a cost of several hundred billion pounds over its’ lifetime. However, should the red button ever be pushed and let’s face it, that remains a real possibility, then the actual cost will be a lot less [ sick joke ]. The Conservative government obviously, want to go ahead and renew Trident. The money could be better spent on much needed hospitals and social housing but that’s not going to keep us in America’s good books and as far as health care is concerned, why not just hand our hospitals over to the Yanks? However, the Americans don’t do social housing because that’s what Communists/Socialists do and no matter how many times a left of centre, Democrat is elected President, the Senate will remain in the control of the Conservative Right. I can’t help feeling that it suits America for Britain to have it’s own nuclear deterrent not because it keeps Britain safe but because it makes them feel safer. After all, the Americans actually believe that a future nuclear conflict can be contained within Europe! Obviously, there is something about nuclear weapons that they don’t fully understand.

The Labour Party, I regret to say, are also keen to renew Trident despite the party, historically, being opposed to nuclear weapons. Anyone remember the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament [CND]?  The late Tony Benn was a prominent member of  CND as was the late Michael Foot and the current Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn. The first Labour Party leader to win three general elections for the party, Harold Wilson, may not have been a socialist [ he was a Liberal but this didn’t stop MI5 from suspecting him of being a Soviet spy! ] however, both he and his Defence Secretary, Dennis Healey, wanted Unilateral Nuclear Disarmament but regrettably, both ideals appear to have been abandoned by the current Labour Party. Ironically, Wilson was PM at a time when the possibility of a nuclear conflict and Britain’s concerns over the Common Market [EU] agreement signed by the late Edward Heath [Cons PM 70-74] were often raised. The Labour PM effectively managed to keep Britain safe from Soviet missiles but failed to achieve much when the Common Market agreement was redrafted in 1975. The political situation in Britain during the late seventies over-shadowed any further concerns we had with the EU and it wasn’t until The Tories returned to government with Margaret Thatcher as PM that Euro bashing regained it’s position as the nation’s favourite pastime.

An opinion poll in 1988 revealed that eighty per cent [80%] wanted a non-nuclear Europe, seventy five percent [75%] saw no threat coming from the Soviet Union and most people saw the USA as a greater threat to peace than Russia. I wonder how the results would look if the same poll was carried out today? In less than twenty years, I suspect that the feelings of the general public would be very different although, I cannot think why that should be. The media, owned as it is by The Establishment and two decades of both Tory-lite and Tory governments will not have helped our relationship with socialist Russia. The City may be happy to look after its’ money but it is never going to invite it to lunch. Were we to have a Labour government would things be different? Socialist values, which have very much in common with Christian values , should give an indication as to which direction a socialist PM is likely to head. However, those values alone cannot dictate what will work best in each and every situation as it arises. In other words, regardless of how committed to the Socialist ideology the political party is, any decisions it takes must be determined by applying simple rules such as the law of mathematics, to stubborn and irresistible facts [ according to the late Denis Healey ]. We have seen good examples of this pragmatic approach work with Labour Governments in the past, those led by the aforementioned Harold Wilson and later on with Tony Blair. However, it remains to be seen whether another leader of the Labour Party will ever enter Number 10 again. If Labour fail to win office again, it won’t be because Socialism is out of favour although its’ demise has been celebrated a thousand times, it will be down to the simple fact that the party is deeply divided and people won’t vote for that.

I am finally reaching the end of this post, almost three hours since I started and I cannot honestly say that I feel any better for getting these thoughts down on paper, so to speak.. I set out with the intention of expressing my views on the EU, the renewal of Trident and the resurgence of Western hostilities towards Russia. However, when I read back through this blog, I feel that it is more about the search for truth in a society governed by lies.  It is not only our government that is being economical with the truth, the  media only presents one side of the story when everyone knows that there are always two sides to any story. Even the BBC which we have always believed to be an independent voice has moved into the right-hand lane and looks set to remain there. However, in my search for truth I have reached the following conclusions; Our hard-won democracy is a sham. Our economy is fuelled by the exploitation of low-paid workers who probably never vote whilst traditional tradespeople earn six figure salaries and vote Conservative. [ Karl Marx was wrong all along! ] Our opposition parties are irrelevant. We now live in a One-party State just like our “friends” in China and our “enemies” in Russia do. All of our relationships with the rest of the world are under scrutiny. No one knows what the future holds apart from suspecting that things are likely to get much worse before they get any better. The Labour Party are siding with the “Stay in Europe” campaigners and have brought out their big gun, Gordon Brown, to bolster their position however, they are all over the place with everything else. This entire sorry state of affairs reminds me of something that I learnt as a politics student which was that, the only legitimate role for government is to Inform, Enable and Protect its’ citizens. My lecturer at the time said, that if governments only did these three things and nothing else then we would still have the best government in the world. As it is, we are a long way from this ideal and there is very little chance of things changing.

 

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About hovisb

Retired socialworker specialising in substance misuse and mental health (Dual Diagnosis). Previously worked in management. Enjoys culture, especially music, literature and art. Animal lover.
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