A little common sense goes a long way.
Margaret Thatcher would never have allowed the huge metal cage and gates that keep the people out of Downing Street. That says all you need to know about the pygmy prime ministers who followed her but were too small to tread in her footsteps.
On return from Vietnam in the autumn of 1971 the FCO put me in Western European Department working for my previous boss in Saigon, Kenneth James. With a very clever and warm hearted colleague, who put up with my cigars, we worked for Kelvin White, who was charged with relations with the Holy See, Switzerland and Ireland. By this time Kelvin was the most over-worked First Secretary in the office. My job was liaising with the MOD on Northern Ireland. Kenneth told me that across the road the FCO was known as the ‘enemy’ and the Irish prime minister as Union Jack. John Peck, our ambassador in Dublin, was called Green Mantle. There was indeed a problem. Within a month four of us became a brand new department led by the unflappable Kelvin. My job took me to Northern Ireland and the border. Fortunately I had friends in the Parachute Regiment serving in Northern Ireland who welcomed me whenever I went over there. We had very good cooperation with the Republic and the border at first was still largely open. The hardening came later and proved very unpopular.
Yet throughout the troubles we had very close relations with the government in Dublin and all the usual cooperation went on normally - the joint tax office to give but one example. If there was rivalry, it was friendly; for example, competition for inward investment was fierce.
Therefore I can understand Mr Varadkar's anxiety to stop the neighbours introducing more attractive conditions for investment, but either his confidence is misplaced or there is collusion by British officials. No sooner has he met with Mrs May than he's demanding that we stay in the Single Market. It's all a bit too obvious.
During this time I became very friendly with Chris Mockler from the Conservative Research Department and his American wife, Lucy. I still followed the advice of my boss, the late Sir Kenneth James – Ken never voted which kept his advice to Ministers impartial. Chris and Lucy thought I should think about a career change.
The Conservative Party deputy-chairman, Sir Michael Fraser, invited me for a drink at the Carlton Club. He had turned down Burgess and Maclean for the Research Department as they were probably communist agents, long before they ran to Moscow.
We got on well and I was eventually sent for by the Selection Panel.
At this time Ted Heath was Prime Minister and insisted the country should join the Common Market. I wasn’t convinced and said as much to the half-dozen MPs on the panel. Despite my enthusiasm for the Commonwealth – I’d served in London, Lahore and Nicosia before Saigon – they decided that I would make a good candidate.
As I was leaving the room the senior man from Central Office slid alongside and hissed, ‘ Do understand that we in Central Office will never select you for any seat where you have the remotest chance of winning.’
Both main parties have been selecting candidates for the House of Commons this way ever since those far off days in the early nineteen seventies.
For the second time in less than two generations a Conservative Prime Minister has sacrificed tens of thousands of people who earn a living at sea or else by supporting our fishermen and seamen. Their latest betrayer has over forty years of evidence, so knew exactly what she was doing. She has no children so is quite content for yours and mine to eat fish possibly contaminated with plastic from waters far from our own Exclusive Economic Zone under the UN Law of the Sea Convention.
As a boy I learned to sail with the fishermen of Burghead and later spent a summer on a trawler out of Grimsby. Cod, Haddock and plaice straight out of the sea taste wonderful. For thirty years we lived in Sedlescombe, a Sussex village not far from Hastings. We always bought our fish from the beach. My wife used to treat the local children and the fishermen are wonderful at raising money for good causes. These people are the salt of the earth, not only the sea.
Few of the people we know in Sussex will vote Tory at the next General Election. Hastings looks back with nostalgia to Michael Foster ( Labour ) who was the best MP since Ken Warren ( Conservative.) What did we do to get Wardle, Barker and Rudd? Two of them Home Office, the government’s tip. That’s only two constituencies. Mrs May has beached our party. It’s making its last gasps before she and her cronies run for cover in the Lords.
The British establishment are as rotten as they were in May 1940.
We need to modernise the way our country is governed.
If you harbour ambitions for a political career, please read on…….
A MESSAGE FOR YOUNG BREXITEERS
Not too often, but definitely sometimes, older people have almost a duty to pass on what they’ve learnt especially when events occur that are remarkably similar to others that took place before most people alive were born. Well, I hate to tell you, I’ve reached that seniority and want to pass on a few things that may prove useful. Now for the good news! My brain still works, it’s well oiled daily – and my body plays tennis most days in summer and skis almost as much in winter. So don’t worry, I’m not gaga. ( I have witnesses! ) My memory goes back to German night raids on London, long before Doodlebugs and V 1 rockets. I remember tanks on the village green before D Day which nowadays I realise were part of Patton’s fake army. With my brother I watched the aerial armada flying to Arnhem throughout the whole of a sunny Sunday morning in September 1944. I well remember VE day and the first evening all the street lamps came on, the atomic bomb and VJ day, the first day of the NHS, Atlee and Churchill as Prime Ministers. As a young man I knew Field Marshal Montgomery and Lord Louis Mountbatten. Johnnie Frost who held the Arnhem Bridge in September 1944 was my first Brigadier. I knew six prime ministers and had the honour to be friends with two VCs and one GC. That’s just to give you an idea of one’s perspective at my age, now let’s turn the clock forward through the swinging sixties – and they did – to the worst pair of post war governments before the ones this century.
Harold Wilson won the 1975 referendum when nearly 17.4 million voted to join the Common Market and 8.4 million of us voted to stay out. The turnout was 64.62% and the Scots were the least enthusiastic with the Outer Hebrides and Shetlands both voting no.
The nation that voted was bewildered and scared. One felt the jitters in the very air. Britain was still running a wartime economy even though rationing had ended in 1954 and the last National Servicemen left the Army in 1963. I had trained some of them. All manner of industries were owned by the government from railways to airlines, coal mines to telephones, gas to water. The government even made cars through owning British Leyland. Today it’s in the same business as high street banks. There had been civil disorder in Northern Ireland for nearly five years. In 1971 the ancient coinage had been replaced by a decimal currency but with the smallest unit five times larger. Logic warned that this increased the speed at which inflation could rise. Ted Heath pushed Common Market membership through Parliament with the support of Labour MPs, turning our backs on the strategy that had made us the first global super power, our allies of the Commonwealth and five-hundred years of history. The trade unions were strong, they and Heath soon clashed. Heath took on the coal miners and lost. The country ran out of electricity, industry began working only three days a week. Whitehall pushed pens by candlelight. People began to wonder if the United Kingdom was no longer governable. Ted Heath had many good qualities and great personal courage was one of them, but he brought many needless troubles on his own head and was voted out in March 1974. I well remember the jolly crowd in Downing Street watching his furniture being loaded into a large van and a wag shouting,’ And don’t forget the bloody pianer’, Mate.’
Harold Wilson was hardly through the door of Number Ten before the inflation anticipated from joining the Common Market, hit like an Atlantic gale. Inflation soared from 10% to 27% within months. After two years Harold Wilson stepped down and Jim Callaghan took over with Denis Healy as Chancellor. By March 1976 we had become the first major industrial country to seek a loan from the IMF. I recall taking urgent telegrams through a blizzard to Gordon Richardson, Governor of the Bank of England, who was haggling in Basel. Britain survived thanks to an act of God called North Sea Oil. As Jim Callaghan advised me six years afterwards,’ If someone makes a mess, Adrian, and Denis made one with whole economy, make them sweep up. Eventually Denis became quite a good sweeper upper.’
In the end it took a woman to sort out the country. She was determined and sometimes ruthless, she made mistakes, but she modernised this country and made it the dynamic place it is today. She fought the union barons and she won. She changed the archaic employment laws concerning industrial action. She left a legacy of bitterness in mining regions but the country was simply heading for irrevocable decline and bankruptcy. There were horrendous innocent casualties, particularly in manufacturing – I remember walking through the machine tool maker, Alfred Herbert’s workshops in Coventry in 1986 and thinking I might have been in the hangars of an empty aircraft carrier facing the scrap yard. The work force of 12,000 had been reduced to 1200 mostly making robots, nearly 11,000 highly skilled men victims of poor investment compounded by raising interest rates to 17%. Long afterwards I discussed this hardship with Geoffrey Howe, who was Chancellor at the time. He deeply regretted the harshness and wished they could have used milder measures. None-the-less, you have to have lived through these epic times to understand how far we have come since. We are no longer the shaken and creaking nation of the early 1970s. The big bang ended the City as a cosy club for a small number of people and turned the square mile plus into the planet’s centre for finance. Our manufacturing is modern but needs to double its share of the economy. This transformation is thanks to Margaret Thatcher although you won’t hear many on the left of politics admit as much, including the CBI and the Civil Service. As for the hyper-regulated EU, she told Jacques Delors, the President of the EC Commission in those days, we have not thrown off the shackles of the state only to have them imposed at a supra-national level. I can hear her now.
She respected the Cabinet and true collective responsibility. Ministers ran their departments; all were responsible for the government’s overall results. Above all Margaret Thatcher was honest. That was remarkable. She was also a hands-on Prime Minister blessed with an incredible memory who found her Cabinet slow to catch on and often slower to catch up. None since have matched her ability to retain detail, all who follow struggle to cope with the bee hive machine she left as her legacy.
WHAT THE SUMS TELL US
Harold Wilson promoted an image of himself as the man in the pub’ with a pint and pipe, the dustbins behind Number Ten told another story: they were full of empty champagne bottles and cigar butts. Despite his rather duplicitous propaganda machine in 1975 very few people voted to join a united European super-state. They voted to join the Common Market because they believed the government’s fairy stories that it was our sole option in steep decline. That was before Margaret Thatcher came along. Forty-one years later a majority of us voted to leave a European super-state in 2016. Four decades of membership had reversed public opinion and put leave voters in the lead by a million and a half after a 72.21% turnout. Ironically, this time, the Scots were the keener on staying. More votes were cast for leaving the EU than have supported any party at an election during my lifetime, starting with Clement Atlee’s Labour landslide in 1945 even though the turnout was higher – and almost matched by Winston Churchill in 1951.
Since the referendum, after thirty months of shameless, hostile meddling by the EU, whatever makes so many British politicians and officials believe the long established trend of voters towards a slow but steady rejection of the EU and all its works is in reverse? Had an individual nation’s diplomatic mission behaved as the EU Representative has - and still does every day - by now most of its staff would have been declared persona non grata. I find it hard to draw any distinction between the EU Commission Representative and the various Russian diplomatic and trade missions. Indeed, the EU Commission lavishly funds all manner of British public bodies to steer opinion their way in this country. The CBI, the RUSI, to name only two. Only the very rich around London and the Scottish Nationalists have spoken in favour of rejoining the EU. Threats from the European Union sound ferocious yet phoney and while that’s laughable, the supporting chorus from the British government and various institutions is nauseating, starting with the Prime Minister and her choir of remainer doom watchers. My conclusion is that all these ‘opinion formers’ suffer from mass brain washing. Certainly they seem to have very little knowledge of today’s rapidly changing and dangerous Europe.
Since the referendum in 2016 the track record of Parliament is appalling – most MPs in all four main parties spend much of their time trying to block the people’s referendum vote. Only the Scottish Nationalists and the Liberals can claim a mandate from their voters for those tactics. Many MPs appear to believe that we’re still living in the seventeenth century and that most voters don’t know how to read and write. This in an age where children can read the news on their mobile phones, anytime, anywhere. That’s made worse by the largely remain supporting Tory MPs of the Heath party rump crowning an odd woman as an unlikely Prime Minister. Mrs May is either in need of some form of therapy by people wearing white coats, completely out of her depth or slavishly following the strategy of Angela Merkel. Maybe she’s a combination of all three and a crafty liar. Whatever she says in public always turns into the complete opposite done behind your back. She has allowed her officials to turn the United Kingdom into the colony of a Continental power by handing away individual civil rights that go back to Magna Carta. She forgets that we pay for this daily nonsense with our taxes. A fuse is lit and unless it’s stamped out, she has set Britain and Europe on the path to war, just as Neville Chamberlain did eighty years ago.
That sounds absurd. However, I have a sometimes frightening habit of making accurate strategic forecasts. I wrote a novel about Korea called The Tiger Pit back in 1992. Everything forecast by the story – famine and atomic weapons - happened during the past few years. I would also risk an opinion that one must distinguish between German ambition for a supra-national state which goes back to August 1944 and the French ambitions which belong to the aftermath of the First World War. Since the referendum Brexit has been under sustained attack from both countries. Fortunately there are peaceful ways to deal with strategic tunnel vision.
Keep in mind that the German empress still calls the shots. Mrs May’s instructions from Frau Merkel appear to urge that she must negotiate a bad deal, so atrocious that it’s worse than remaining in the EU. In parallel a fifth column of useful idiots; the Heath and Blair parties’ rumps plus the Lib Dems and Scottish Nationalists, officials in the Cabinet Office, Treasury and FCO; are set to work drumming up another referendum, the EU’s tried and tested method of crushing opposing forces – us, the voters. The fact that we pay for all this seems not to have inflicted a single dent on Mrs May’s Teflon skin as she brazenly spouts the complete opposite of the facts in the House of Commons. The CBI and similar institutions are placed on the EU Commission payroll although they have little impact. Anyone who has been on the CBI Council knows that since years it has spoken only for large multi-nationals and a handful of very large trade associations. I suggest that it’s long past time that these people are made to respect the same principles as the rest of us.
Frau Merkel sees Brexit as a huge threat. Should we succeed and escape Germany’s gravity, other countries may follow. The EU must counter attack with an obedient and subversive establishment in Britain which now includes the Scottish Nationalists. The Germans will welcome anyone who helps shore up their control over our industry combined with demands for our market and our fishing grounds. The background bird songs are multiple threats - immigration and customs delays, no flights and so forth, project fear on huge greasy sausages with dollops of onions. All of which angers the long suffering British voters. My advice to the European Research Group MPs is simple. Let the opinion polls sack Mrs May. Former UKIP voters are deserting her in tens of thousands every day. There is more important work to be done and in the House of Commons. The best way to break up this counter attack by the German led EU is for Parliament to throw out their withdrawal agreement when their messenger, Mrs May, lays it before the House of Commons.
Probably Mrs May would have been happier as a civil servant; her original choice of career was the Bank of England. She obviously prefers working with a few favourite officials rather than publicly leading the government as Chairman of the Cabinet. She also encourages officials to ignore the jungle laws although at their peril, not hers. A wiser official would have seen danger, resisted temptation, realised that sometimes officials have to decline flattery. When an official knows that he is being used to go behind the elected Cabinet’s back, he should politely decline. I say that from personal experience. Officials are there to support their Ministers, not undermine them. Sir Humphrey should stick to TV comedy. Officials like Robbins can cost you and me large amounts of money. It’s not so long since Tony Blair tried to make the tax payers cough up for all political parties, institutionalise the grip of their cronies on public life and the public purse, such was the national switch off from politics driven by New Labour and EU rule from Berlin. One thing is for sure, Brexit has given ordinary voters a new lease of political life. Let’s keep it that way.
When officials spot a leadership vacuum as large as the present one, whether imaginary or managed from Germany, their knee-jerk reaction is to move in and take over. That’s really Olly’s worst blunder. He stepped forward when he should have stepped back. He may not have worked out the hidden plot, the reasons why Mrs May was happy to cheat the voters, but he must have realised that the Prime Minister was ready to deceive a weak Cabinet as often as she possibly could – and that by doing so, she was cheating the voters. Forget Olly, to me, that makes her unfit for public office; one can’t believe a word she utters because one can’t trust her. She stands up in Parliament and says things which are obviously not true. As with the people in the FCO charged with Brexit strategy, Olly’s probably yet another devout believer in the European project. If he hadn’t been, almost certainly, he would have failed the civil service selection board. When that kind of penetration not only happens but right under their noses, Ministers are duty bound to cleanse the temple. So far, they have failed badly.
Perhaps they don’t realise the FCO closely resembles a discreet religious order with surprising influence on the daily lives of ordinary people. What do these people do all day? Olly has no background in this order, no initiation and training either. That made Olly an easy target for Merkel’s team. The FCO high priests – who are very likeable and honest people, most probably his personal friends ( some mine as well ) no doubt tell Olly that his boss, who seems to have no views on anything, should not abandon the European project. Despite all the evidence to the contrary, most recently from Angela Merkel calling for a European Army and the French finance minister calling for declaration of a European empire, still they have faith, believe the goddess Europa will return to a looser confederation of national states rather than create a new super state. They see only what the doctrine allows. Europe will reform. No-one asks what happens if the European Army concentrates on internal security? Instead, when this empire happens, argue the FCO high priests, Britain could find itself at grave disadvantage outside this formidable continental power. The establishment said that about Adolf Hitler. All the Prime Minister has to do is kid the voters that they’ve escaped from the EU while leaving the country with enough footholds so that our departure never actually happens. Not Switzerland or Norway but Hotel California.
‘ F**k the f*****g IRA, they’re in the f*****g queue, this mornin’ - I’d like to shoot the f****r marself.’
Tough and likeable, a Metropolitan Police Personal Protection Officer from Glasgow, talking about his charge, Tom King, Northern Ireland Secretary, on a visit to South Korea.
Sometimes the people have been known to blow their fuse. Stay in at night Mrs May.
STUMBLING TOWARDS REVOLUTION
Now this is not Brexit. Not even the beginning of Brexit. Though, if we fight only a fraction as hard as did our forefathers, at least it’s the end of the beginning of Brexit. Fight we must. We are threatened daily by our elected government. Their timid and foolish, thoroughly dishonest approach to Brexit is backed by an alliance of the rump of Ted Heath’s party with the rump of Tony Blair’s supported by the Civil Service. Baying from sidelines is the rump of Militant. Voters are losing patience with politicians and ultimately must take action. This is our country, nobody else’s. We pay for this charade of democracy. I have the utmost respect for Robert Armstrong and Robin Butler but the monkeys do matter when the Prime Minister is evasive and when pushed, a compulsive liar, moreover programmed rather than inclined to go behind the backs of her Cabinet and the voters. It doesn’t say much for the present Cabinet Secretary or for her Cabinet that she’s got away with this slippery strategy for so long. She should have been removed months ago. That she has not is to their shame and also the fault of all those MPs who form the stale rump of Ted Heath’s party. I was of the opposite political view, much of the time, but not all, to Tony Benn, but greatly enjoyed his company at a Labour Party Conference and respected his wisdom and downright honesty. Tony was sound as granite on constitutional matters and a good man to have on your side. Ideas and beliefs, hopes and dreams, carry people through the storms of life, not career management.
The Prime Minister boxed herself into a corner by selecting her Home Office prodigy to lead the trickiest diplomatic negotiation since Henry VIII split from Rome. Certainly similar raw emotions are aroused by those who believe in the European project and those of us who think it’s just another German attempt at European hegemony. Mrs May - and Macron – ought to have read Der Spiegel a year ago. Perhaps Macron did. Frau Merkel has been following the strategy leaked to the magazine. Not every German is a fan of Mutti – another huge diplomatic error by Mrs May, who had plenty of people who could have formed a much stronger team – starting with Ivan Rogers. Why isn’t he leading a shadow EU team acting out the parts of Selmayr and Barnier with someone else playing Merkel? At least such gaming might have forced her to understand that the Irish border problem is a man-made mirage that doesn’t exist. Barnier’s job is to make sure a Withdrawal Agreement grabs the money while the trade deal never happens. Selmayr’s task is to keep control of the largest satellite of the German economic sun. It’s all about money, Geldt, l’argent. And that’s all explained in Vorausshau 2040 – if you can’t read German, just read my articles on the Veterans for Britain and Briefings for Brexit websites. Watch a video of Angela Merkel at the European Parliament is all that Mrs May needs do. She claims that Britain deserves a better deal than WTO terms yet they offer a far better deal than the terms she crawled for in Brussels.
One begins to wonder if Frau M has something over Mrs M from her past. After all, the Stasi trained their student informers. Suffice it to say that Angela Merkel has released forces in Germany that we have not seen since the nineteen thirties. Germans my age are worried. They remember what happens when ordinary people feel ignored, when their opinions don’t count, their votes suddenly are worthless. On this hundredth year since that railway coach conference where Germany surrendered its fleet to the Royal Navy and withdrew from France– the Kaiser had stepped down hours before and his Army was busy deserting – perhaps we should reflect on whether we should defend Europe from itself a third time.
Let’s go by what their leaders say. Petit Macron threatens that Europe must defend itself against the USA when Donald Trump merely asked Europe to pay its fair share towards NATO. German senior officers argue that by demanding two per cent of gnp on defence and twenty per cent of that on new equipment, the Americans demand that Europe buys US equipment. There’s no evidence. Europe must buy European equipment. Nobody stopped them but according to Der Spiegel, they didn’t buy a thing. Who will control this European Army? The European Parliament will set guidelines. Really? Germany controls the European Parliament with French support and Germany wants control of Europe’s economy and armed forces before striking deal with Russia over gas as a prelude to a new relationship that excludes the USA and ourselves. To me that says we need the NATO alliance with the USA more than ever - plus some tactical nuclear weapons to deter Russia from any other blackmail deals. I have doubts about some other NATO allies, but they are not sitting astride the North German Plain and that debate is for another moment.
Yet what do we see – one example is enough. We need many more fishery patrol ships ( Mrs May would sell out the fisherman but she’ll be gone soon. ) Down in Devonshire because there are no orders for new ships for the Royal Navy or any other task, Appledore’s shipyard will close and hundreds of skilled people lose their jobs. The sooner Mrs May’s government is neutered then flung into the street, the better.
WHY THE HURRY?
As the clock ticks, Mrs May finds herself trapped in an ever shrinking box. She deliberately neglected to make any preparations for a clean Brexit because Frau Merkel believes this will force the Conservative Party in Parliament to vote for her ( and May’s under orders ) version of BRINO - ohne vorteilen – without advantages, one that makes easy a Labour Party application to rejoin the EU on punitive terms starting with abandoning the Pound for the German Euro. This ambition reveals another fundamental flaw in the Merkel plan. British voters regard all politicians as habitual liars. Another referendum would result in a significantly larger vote to leave. Already the EU is no longer the same as in 2016. Those of us who live here see the evidence daily. Frau Merkel and Macron make a song and dance about a European Army. Two years ago remain campaigners in Britain described this idea as fantasy. Merkel has trained May like a communist performing sealion – she still thinks that if you spout disinformation long enough people believe. In the British Isles that doesn’t work. At this eleventh hour British MPs would do better to ignore Mrs May’s blathering and allow that communications with Europe through France will be difficult and at times impossible. Macron doesn’t have to do anything. French fishermen will blockade Calais for their own protests, never mind customs, immigration and the immigrants from the jungle. It’s long past the hour to start improving the North Kent and Suffolk ports, the roads and railways to the Channel ports and the Channel Tunnel, not to mention expand Customs and Immigration staffs. This failure sits in the lap of the Chancellor. However, personally I’m not sad, after forty years Kent will rid itself of twenty-thousand trucks a day poisoning the county. In future any trade will go by train and ship from three or four ports and probably to Belgium and Holland.
Alternative suppliers, not just markets, are required urgently. Where is the electronic version of the seventeenth century Royal Exchange? A focal point where one can buy products or components, made in Britain or friendly trading countries, rather than buy from the EU. Such a focal point would make life much less difficult for all sized companies. We have the Department of International Trade but need an effective trade minister. We need a twin department for sourcing imports. Maybe we should call it the import substitution exchange? Instead we have a Prime Minister and government backed by a rump Parliament who mostly are trying to stay in the EU and only now making modest preparations for leaving – with or without agreement. Those hundreds of pending statutory instruments say all you need to know about Mrs May and her useless cabal of a cabinet. They are all to blame but Mrs May knows that she will carry the can for this failure, there’s no chance any longer to kick this one down the road.
Because the Prime Minister cannot think outside her cosy establishment box, she does not see the consequences of her trail of blunders, nor the next blunders just up the road. As she is blind also to spectacular opportunities, she stumbles past or throws them away. Brexit opens the chance to sack the rotten establishment, put the multi-nationals in their place, transform our economy and let it run free. We are on the brink of another industrial revolution. Already we see the price of her caution and indecisiveness. What else could a James Dyson do when Mrs May and her Chancellor want to keep us tied to the EU apron strings through their rule book? How long does it take the German automotive engineering lobby to find safety reasons to ban Dyson electric cars from the EU customs union? Very quickly Dyson wouldn’t be allowed to sell his electric cars in the country where they are designed. Far better to part company with the EU and set free all our human energy and imagination to roam wherever native genius leads. Dyson has just won a court case over vacuum cleaners but it took him five years. Why should he go through that again? When Britain’s economy overtakes Germany no-one in Ireland will give a tinker’s cuss about back-stops. North and South will grow happily alongside each other as good neighbours.
As things stand at the moment, Mrs May has placed our country on the brink of a watershed constitutional crisis, risking the resumption of violence in Ireland, perhaps dwarfed by violence on the mainland that has nothing to do with Ireland but everything to do with her government. Nor should Mrs May and her Heath rump Tories assume that the police will have the same loyalty as they did for Margaret Thatcher. This time the police may side with the people. Mrs May is rather like Angela Merkel, that other vicar’s daughter who has not a clue about the forces she has unleashed by pushing decent people until their patience snaps. I fear for the Palace of Westminster and suspect British voters will not bother to repair Parliament if someone puts a match to it. Why throw good money after bad? Let’s face it, after a series of scandals over money, the Speaker is in the middle of the latest over bullying and sex. And now we must add yet another scandal - our elected representatives open contempt for the votes of the electorate. What happens next? Civil disorder or a Tory wipe out? For we the voters have lost our trust in representative democracy. I can’t remember any previous time when voters held their MPs in such contempt.
Fortunately there is a civilised and peaceful solution. If one includes don’t knows, there are now perhaps as many as twenty million voters looking for a competent party we can trust. Even though Mrs May will disappear shortly, the present Tory Party has a structural fault that needs urgent design change and rebuilding. The Conservative Party used to have a huge membership and the Young Conservatives were a popular social club where young people met and some even married. As we see from Mrs May’s approach to Brexit, typified by the welcome her surrender to the EU met from the CBI, her version of the party is an establishment EU fan club funded by a few wealthy donors. In return she obligingly delivers what they demand. ( Which we now know the CBI staff don’t believe in for a second.) All this has nothing in common with democracy. The Conservatives need to take drastic steps to throw out this ghastly crew or the party will be slaughtered at the next General Election. And I mean slaughtered, reduced to less than a hundred seats. On the slippery slope to extinction, within a decade, possibly less.
David Cameron tried to buy us off with internet smoke and mirrors. Enough signatures on a petition will earn a debate in Parliament. The voters all know this is worthless. A debate does what the current Prime Minister does every day, kicks another can down the road. Although the voting system has been reformed over the last two centuries and the House of Lords reformed before the First World War, there has been precious little reform of the House of Commons apart from creating the Select Committees. I think it’s long past time the people took charge and reformed the way we govern ourselves. May I propose a simple reform - that significant powers are removed from Parliament and henceforth, all important choices made by the people.
Mrs May has negotiated a bloodless Norman conquest where Britain is ruled from the Continent for the first time since the Battle of Hastings – which took place two miles west of our Sussex home. I remember sending Boris Johnson into the night to drive across the battlefield on his way back to London. Four-hundred-and-eighty miles south-east of Calais another form of government has been working like clockwork for well over eight-hundred years.
POWER TO THE PEOPLE, THEY HAVE MORE COURAGE THAN THEIR LEADERS
I have lived in Switzerland twice, from 1974-1978 as a diplomat at the British Embassy where I covered politics and economics, and for the last ten years as a private person. The Swiss have governed themselves through practical forms of direct democracy since the thirteenth century. They used the guilds as a simple form of parliament in the cities and mass votes at open air meetings in the countryside. The latter survive to this day in the two small cantons of Appenzel. Only Napoleon tried to force a constitution on the Swiss, which they rejected, for it offered nothing they hadn’t already. Eventually the Swiss wrote their own confederal constitution in 1848 although during a time when the Radical Party was so strong that it inflicted an early form of political correctness tyranny on the Swiss people. There are remarkable similarities with the modern European Union and New Labour. Imagine a hundred years with New Labour running everything and you have the Radical tyranny.
The Swiss broke the Radicals’ dictatorship by introducing the concept of a popular vote. Anyone who could gather enough signatures in their support was entitled to have a popular vote on a particular question or cause. This step ended the era when the Federal Council of seven ministers could prevent a referendum on grounds of ‘national security’, private or party interest. Over the years this revolutionary instrument has become much more refined and several political careers built on a local or national campaign. Today nearly all major decisions are taken by popular vote – foreign treaties, defence, overseas aid, raising or lowering taxes, immigration and legal questions, moral and medical questions.
A further safeguard was added to avoid the smaller communities in the countryside always being out-voted by the five big cities – the double yes. This requires not only that the winner gains the largest number of individual votes but also a majority of cantons. When the last vote was held on EU membership back in 1993 the popular vote was very close but those opposed to EU membership won two thirds of the cantons – a political landslide in Swiss terms. The margin against closer association with the EU has increased with every popular vote since – until the government withdrew their letter of application for membership two years ago after a vote in Parliament.
Now let’s look at the Swiss rule through British political eyeballs. A glance on Wikipedia at the British 2016 referendum results for voting areas shows this rule provides an essential safety net for small communities such as those engaged with fishing and farming, also specialised industries. Under the Swiss rule small remote communities cannot be swept aside by the big cities and big money.
Suppose the numbers of voting areas won had counted towards the final result of our June 2016 referendum. The score would show that out of 382 voting areas ( one was Gibraltar ) 119 voted to remain, including all 32 areas in Scotland. No less than 263 voted to leave. A map on Wikipedia shows England and Wales and a large portion of Northern Ireland almost entirely blue save for London plus the M40 and M11 corridors. Far from a narrow victory this was a greater political landslide than the Swiss vote in 1993.
This message is for all Brexit supporters. First, think priorities. Vote only for Brexit supporting candidates in constituencies that voted to leave. Better still, select only Brexit supporting candidates for both main parties. The Swiss would not have negotiated with Brussels until they had sorted out their own position with the Scottish and Irish cantons. The EU daily try to undermine our union but some area votes in Scotland were close, particularly where they have a fishing fleet. Only when they had agreed a strategy would the Swiss have triggered Article 50 on the understanding that all cantons were ready to walk away without an agreement with the EU if necessary. The inevitable EU blackmail – give us your fishing grounds or we won’t do a trade deal – would have been stuffed down their throats by solid wall of mental Swiss halberds and cross-bows.
Nowadays in Switzerland, direct democracy takes place at three levels – Confederation, canton and local government. Swiss are citizens of one or more of their three thousand local communities, not the country. My wife, children and grandchildren are citizens of Luzern and Naeffels in Glarus where a thousand years ago an ancestor built a castle. Let’s just say that a Swiss has enviable control over all three layers of government and thus his or her life. Parliament in Switzerland would have to seek the approval of the people before spending billions on their stately building. For example, I would rather spend £ 6.5 billions on the Armed Forces who do much more for our nation than our politicians. Others might wish to invest in medicine, education or filling all those potholes that daily remind of our bankers. Long ago the Swiss concluded that the best people do not go in for politics. Wisely, they decided to remove all important decisions from their political leaders - and make these themselves.
During 1993 the EU launched their first version of Project Fear against Swiss voters. The result – failure - spoke volumes yet the EU still meddles nearly thirty years later and despite the Federal Parliament withdrawing their application to join. Eurocrats try every trick, desperate to hoodwink the Swiss. Their latest ploy is that the ECJ should arbitrate all trade disputes between both parties. The real purpose is to lure Switzerland into rule by the ECJ. The other day at our tennis club in the country just south of Bern, I asked some friends what they thought. Most are farmers, ex-professional sportsmen, businessmen, some all three. Our membership ranges from a former Swiss soccer goalie to ice-hockey forwards, and even a former British Olympic Attaché.
‘ Money,’ they insist without the slightest delay. ‘ You’re leaving although the Germans are convinced they’ll beat you, make you stay in and pay more, because they’ve done it to all the others. Merkel’s finished but the rest of the Germans are still greedy. Now they’re after our money as a fall back or a bonus. Give them a chance and they’ll steal every Swiss frank that exists.’
Frau Merkel made it abundantly clear that she is retiring from politics. Perhaps she wants to become an empress? Her spell as CDU party leader ends in December. The party must elect a new leader. There is a strong possibility that the coalition partners of the CDU may withdraw from the government and join the ranks of the opposition. This would almost certainly bring about an election. Frau Merkel would no longer hold the post of Chancellor. The Germans running the EU such as Selmayr would no longer have a patron and a more reasonable team might replace them, but we don’t know for sure, though it’s clear as day that Britain should not sign up to any kind of withdrawal agreement with the EU this side of the 30 March 2019.
‘ We are, and I hadn't understood the full extent of this, but if you look at the UK and how we trade in goods we are particularly reliant on the Dover-Calais crossing.’
Dominic Raab, Brexit Secretary, tells all you need to know about the sorry state of the workshop of the world. When I was ten years old Britain had a ten per cent surplus in manufactures. The sooner were out of the EU and repairing the damage, the better.
FOR YOUNGER EYES
There are similarities between Mrs May and Ted Heath although his reputation was less for surrender than stubborn refusal to shift from barren ground combined with bruising frankness.
All the House of Commons has to do is vote down any Withdrawal Agreement that Mrs May draws up with the EU. There’s nothing difficult to understand. Even for the ERG members who failed miserably yet again over the legal advice vote. Just throw it out anything she proposes. On the 30 March 2019 the UK will leave the EU without any agreements, in other words without being tied down by an international treaty under the Vienna Convention. There will be no back stop with Ireland, our surrounding seas under our control, no obligations to the EU and no more meddling by them. We can do whatever we wish and many countries want to trade with Britain on more open terms. I have to spell things out with italics in case any slow souls such as our prime minister read these words.
Geoffrey Cox’s statement to Parliament simply confirmed how Mrs May has been Angela Merkel’s Trojan Horse. A wiser man would have let Mrs May defend herself and told the whole truth to Parliament. Instead, he offered obfuscation.
The Heath and Blairite rumps want to stop all this happening through a deal with the EU brokered by officials but done with Mrs May’s encouragement; should she fail, they would try to do this with their people’s vote. Many Brexiteers are opposed to another vote. They say reasonably that we had our peoples’ vote in 2016. For reasons explained below, I would not object to a referendum - providing this took place under Swiss rules; namely, that the number of voting areas won also counts towards the overall result, not just the total number of individual votes cast.
Labour, the Liberals and Scottish Nationalists are remain parties. The Tory Party at the ballot box consists of about seventy per cent leave voters but in Parliament its MPs are eighty per cent remain. That’s who Conservative Central Office has been selecting for the past forty odd years. This is the parliamentary party that crowned Mrs May as leader and Prime Minister. Her Chancellor is a remain supporter as is her informal deputy. After several leaver resignations, her government ministers are now ninety per cent remain. They want to stay in the EU and support her cheating us. They will vote for whatever sell-out she and her remain Cabinet propose and every member of her Cabinet shares the blame for this choice.
The number of leaver MPs is not enough to demand her removal, indeed after she scraped through that vote of confidence they show no sign of demanding her removal by pressuring the Cabinet. So let us assume the worst case, that our remain Rump Parliament refuses to stop Mrs May signing away our political and economic freedom through a ludicrous withdrawal agreement from the EU. The latest blackmail – it was only a question of time – is to demand our fishing grounds in exchange for solving the mirage Irish border problem and even more cash for granting access to the customs union so they can carry on with their £ 100 billions annual trade surplus.
We have no representation in Parliament, so how do we ensure that a real Brexit happens? A General Election risks a repeat of Ted Heath’s defeat back in 1974.
If you’re a Labour voter who wants to leave the EU that will only help you providing your local candidate is a leave supporter. There should be a pact among all leave MPs that regardless of party, they will all vote together on Brexit matters. That would require close partnership in Parliament. It could be done but would require a Conservative Party with almost a clean sweep of faces, eighty per cent leavers rather than the present number the other way round.
THE PEOPLES’ VOTE
My conclusion is that only the people, you and me, have the power to defeat this kind of extortion and blackmail from the politically correct classes, for example, by most of us voting it down with a second referendum in favour of Brexit. That could act as the precedent for referendums on other matters. We must take away many powers and decisions from Parliament which no longer governs in our interest. Parliament is openly hostile towards the majority of voters. In any other country the people would arm themselves take to the streets. Look at France. The people may yet do that in the United Kingdom –a kingdom united most of all against our Parliament.
The country voted in 2016 to leave the EU. Mrs May has negotiated that we have to stay in the EU on far worse terms and with no influence, effectively as a colony of Germany. She is the first prime minister to my knowledge who has instructed civil servants to go behind the backs of ministers and MPs, the first who in effect has taken orders from a foreign head of state, though she’s not the first who lied to the voters. Not for a second should we as voters, regard ourselves bound by any agreement or treaty signed by Mrs May’s government or voted through by Parliament. Actually, we can learn from Donald Trump, declare any such treaty as treacherous therefore invalid, forced on us through duplicity and plain downright liars. Our argument is simple – don’t waste your time signing a treaty on those lines Mrs May, because we’re going tear it up and take away from Parliament all power to sign treaties and give it to ourselves.
Meddling in Ireland by the EU combined with a very naïve government in Dublin places the latter in breach of the Belfast Agreement. The EU is not mentioned in the Belfast Agreement and therefore has no locus standi. Any agreement signed with the EU is invalid. We will tear it up along with anything else Mrs May’s government has signed. We will encourage the Irish people to quit the EU.
The EU seems to think that international law only applies to others, not themselves. Mrs May’s deal with the EU goes against the UN Convention on Human Rights. The British people have the right to prosecute all involved and that includes all those involved from every state that is a member of the EU. The British people will recommend to the Commonwealth and the United States the expulsion from the United Nations of all the member states of the EU.
Ulster loyalists have already warned officials in Dublin that the EU is stoking the ashes of the Troubles. If violence starts again, don’t expect to see anyone from the EU or the Dublin government on the scene – they will run for their lives. The Dublin Government assumes that London will clear up the mess like last time. That could prove a mistake.
Sensible people need to stop this stupidity before it goes any further. Undermining the peace process, because it is a process not a finished work, is naïve and irresponsible. There will be no hard border on the British side. A new Cabinet needs someone effective as Northern Ireland Secretary who will build trust with the border communities including former IRA members. The border does not require any solution, other than telling the EU to mind its own business.
As for the future of NATO, according to the German Army strategy plan, Vorausshau 2040, the alliance is breaking up. Hence the Merkel-Macron love-ins about a European Army and the line that I have heard from German officers – that the Americans are telling NATO countries to spend 2% of gnp on defence so they buy US made equipment, rather than European made. How the European Parliament will decide future deployments of the European armed forces, not Washington. Britain’s armed forces should have nothing to do with this hostile plan against the Americans and the Commonwealth based on cloud number nine imperial nonsense. Actually, we should discourage the EU member states from increasing their defence budgets, withdraw our forces from the Continent and sit down with the Americans, our Commonwealth friends, Norway, the Japanese and friendly Latin Americans and create a new alliance based on the ocean trading democracies. How about a new SEATO – Sea Treaty Organisation?
ARE THE NEW TORIES A REPLACEMENT FOR UKIP?
Recent history suggests it’s wiser to take over an existing party than start a new one. In 1951 the Conservative Party had nearly three million members compared with one million for Labour and a quarter of a million Liberals. During the nineteen sixties and seventies Conservative Party membership fell sharply though steadied at over one million. Labour membership declined as well but much, much less. Liberal membership also declined. Margaret Thatcher reversed the decline of Conservative membership. Numbers rose to reach one point two millions. Her ousting by an EU supporters’ coup caused membership to halve within eighteen months. Today it is a tenth of the size it was when Margaret Thatcher led the party. That’s the price paid for Tories more loyal to Europe than their own country. Mrs May is no Margaret Thatcher. She has no opinions to love or hate. She cannot give a straight answer to a simple question. Somehow the party must restore its huge following and the low cost membership scheme of Momentum is a good model. It’s very successful and Tories can learn from Momentum. Why not a young Tory revival? Why not aim to attract the young UKIP vote as well as the older? If the Tories become the sane and serious Brexit party this will prove a winning strategy. My first brush with UKIP was when a Range Rover roared up our drive scaring our cats and near missing, Charlie, our forty-three kilos ( six and a half stone to my generation ) German shepherd. A rather plump and full of himself character squeezed out of his car and asked for money. I smiled kindly and explained that we already had one bombastic prat as the local Tory MP and couldn’t see the point of exchanging him for another. Our visitor was a lawyer by trade and asked what on earth I did for a living.
Diplomat, I replied.
There’s a job and an opportunity waiting for Nigel Farage. As a former young official of the Commonwealth Relations Office my heart warms when I see all those ministers with their family roots in the Commonwealth who have resigned from the government. You’re living evidence that Brexit isn’t just an obsession of old people, whatever the colour of our skins we all believe in freedom. For most people outside its walls the EU is a racist commercial and political fortress. Let’s forget them and look forward.
SECOND TO NONE
I have worked with prime ministers, presidents, ministers and their officials in countries all over the planet, from Pakistan to Cyprus, South Vietnam to Switzerland, Canada to South Korea, Jamaica to the USA. I’ve worked with governments, business, industry and the media all over the planet. I have endless comparisons to draw upon. My impression is that there is no shortage of potential candidates for Parliament and able party organisers from all the brilliant young people who have been running the Brexit campaign for the last three years. The performance of the ERG over their vote of confidence campaign and over the legal advice vote shows the need for slick organisation against the limpets of the establishment. Two hundred MPs voted to keep Mrs May. You young people would have voted her out. That means that probably half their seats are vulnerable. So why don’t you all get together and organise a national movement and take over the Conservative Party? I reckon you’d get rid of Mrs May and her remain cronies without much of a fight and I know that you would do a far better job of Brexit and its aftermath. Seventy per cent of Conservative voters would be delighted to see you take charge. Mrs May is losing the UKIP vote by tens of thousands every day. You would attract most of the UKIP vote without importing those whom you would rather not have on board. Yes, you would have to set up a shadow Central Office, but you have all the working parts already. You have a huge advantage over the rump of the Heath party because you’re all used to working with each other in a loose, free-ranging way that always produces the best results. Besides, that’s how political campaigning is done in the age of quantum physics. You may have only weeks or as much as four years to build a new version of the Tory Party around the network that you run every day.
You would need at least three national media outlets plus as many provincial newspapers as possible willing to run a campaign to raise at least twenty million signatures demanding a clean Brexit. This does three jobs; rallies the voters around a clear aim, tells Mrs May and the present Tory Party that they’re heading for extinction, tells Labour leavers and UKIP supporters who is really on their side, tells Parliament to get on and organise leaving the EU with no withdrawal agreements.
Let us suppose Tories supporters switch and join a shadow party managed by Brexit supporters with an elected shadow party leader who actually supports Brexit. This leader must become highly visible rather than waiting in the wings. He/She needs to be backed by a shadow party with more members than the Heath rump party and with potential Parliamentary candidates for every seat.
Some local associations will adopt the shadow candidate and cut adrift the present incumbent. All local associations should be polled independent of their MP or present candidate as to whether they support Mrs May’s deal. Quite likely most do not. This will finish Mrs May’s fabrication that the voters support her surrender/withdrawal agreement.
The shadow party leader should make clear that if he or she became Prime Minister the withdrawal agreement negotiations with the EU would cease or any treaty immediately scrapped. Brussels will threaten blue murder. Henry the Eighth was threatened with far worse by the Pope, but he survived and so shall we.
The country voted to leave the EU in June 2016 but the intention to leave with no deal could be put to a popular vote, a referendum run the same way as in Switzerland. A double yes majority would be required of the winner and the voting areas kept exactly as in 2016 making sure we compare apples with apples.
The voters could be asked whether they wish to implement Mrs May’s or any other agreement with the EU – Chequers, Norway, Canada, Blair for EU president, whatever else is being shoved down our throats - or leave the EU without an agreement and trade on WTO rules? Tick one box only! A second question might ask whether they would like the government to hold further negotiations with the EU while trading under WTO rules? The vote papers should explain that all trading nations use WTO rules including the EU. The decision is whether to seek more favourable terms with the EU or would an international treaty relationship with the EU prove more trouble than it’s worth? In my view it’s endless trouble. Starting with our Prime Minister, all the people involved with negotiating our withdrawal from the EU, whatever country they come from, appear so dishonest that we should have nothing to do with any of them. Our government manpower should stop wasting effort and concentrate on future trade with the rest of the world. A clean departure with no deal is by far the safest.
Moreover, serious new risks arise with prolonged EU membership because of the political ambitions of Germany and its control of the EU’s economies. Please see my four articles posted on Veterans for Britain and one blog with a report posted on Briefings for Brexit. Last night the blog had over 3,500 visitors, so there is interest among voters.
A further article soon follows on Germany.
Those who voted to leave in 2016 should know that providing they go out and vote, they will win again, most likely by a larger majority. Possession of this knowledge will give leaver voters confidence in the ground rules and thereby encourage them to vote. The enemy of Brexit, apathy, is the faithful friend of Mrs May, her Remain MPs and the EU Commission. Mrs May is so corny that to kow tow in Brussels she wears a dress the colour of the EU flag. All you need to know, says my wife with Swiss scepticism about all politicians!
The people need to give a message to remain voters in this country, the EU Commission, whoever takes Merkel’s place, and the wider World. A lot of countries want to do business with Britain. No deal chaos with the EU is another mirage and will be very soon forgotten.
Drawing from my experience as a diplomat in countries with somewhat unsavoury politicians, one keeps in mind that Mrs May doesn’t want a second referendum probably because Frau Merkel doesn’t want one either. After all, Mrs May has ensured that we must orbit the German Sun, why risk the British holding up Vorausshau 2040? Angela’s simply being a good German girl and following the book of instructions - just like the goggled baron in Those Daring Young Men in their Flying Machines.
PARLIAMENT IS THE ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE
We all pay six-figure sums for each member of our rump Parliament. The majority of MPs form the rumps of Ted Heath’s Tories, Tony Blair’s New Labour, Nick Clegg’s Lib Dems’ and the rump of Salmond’s Scottish Nationalists. All fight yesterday’s battles. Europe is fast becoming a new German empire built around a tariff fortress. On the rest of the planet all economies are changing and each day this change becomes faster. This year British exports have grown by 4% which is remarkable for a mature economy. The growth comes not from devaluation but from new small and medium sized companies offering new products to everywhere outside the EU. Within a decade our trade with the EU will be about a quarter of our global trade, probably less, of vastly increased exports.
Yet, once again, Parliament wants to pass the parcel to us, the voters. Why should we trust Parliament to respect the result of another referendum? They've never respected our vote in 2016. They only gobble a result when it supports rejoining the EU. Suppose that we vote again to leave with a much larger majority. For argument’s sake let’s say a high turnout with 65-70% for leaving. The rump Parliament will just carry on doing their utmost to block our leaving. The vote of confidence in Mrs May provides the latest evidence. Two-hundred MPs support a knee-jerk liar. Only the support from every Labour MP with a constituency that voted leave would help the 117 MPs who have no confidence in Mrs May cross the finishing line and make sure leave we at last the EU. There is a way for such a Conservative and Labour coalition to make Brexit happen. Do not fear giving power to the people when they have more courage and common sense than their leaders. Build from their solid foundations.
Five hundred miles south-east of Calais there is a splendid example of this type of vote which has been working successfully for the last eight-hundred years.
HOW LEAVERS CAN WIN THE PEOPLES' VOTE
I have lived in Switzerland twice, from 1974-1978 as a diplomat at the British Embassy where I covered politics and economics, and for the last ten years as a private person. The Swiss have governed themselves through forms of direct democracy since the thirteenth century. They used the guilds as a simple form of parliament in the cities and mass votes at open air meetings in the countryside. The latter survive to this day in the two small cantons of Appenzell. Only Napoleon tried to force a constitution on the Swiss, which they rejected, for it offered nothing they hadn’t already. Eventually the Swiss wrote their own confederal constitution in 1848 although during a time when the Radical Party was so strong that it inflicted an early form of political correctness on the Swiss people. There are remarkable similarities with the modern European Union and New Labour. Imagine a hundred years with New Labour running everything and you have the Radical tyranny.
The Swiss broke the Radicals’ dictatorship by introducing a modern version of the old mass vote. It’s called the popular vote. Anyone who can gather enough signatures in their support is entitled to have a popular vote on a particular question or cause. This step ended an era when the Federal Council of seven ministers could prevent a referendum on grounds of national security, often private or party interest. Over the years this revolutionary instrument has become much more refined and several political careers built on local or national campaigns. Today many major decisions are taken by popular vote – foreign treaties, defence, overseas aid, raising or lowering taxes, immigration and legal questions, moral and medical questions.
A further safeguard had to be added to avoid the smaller communities in the countryside always being out-voted by the five big cities – the double yes. This requires not only that the winner gains the largest number of individual votes but also a majority of the twenty-six cantons and half-cantons. When the last vote was held on EU membership back in 1993 the popular vote was very close but those opposed to EU membership won two thirds of the cantons – a political landslide in Swiss terms. The margin against closer association with the EU has increased with every popular vote since – until only two years ago, following a vote in Parliament, the government withdrew their 1992 letter of application for EU membership.
Now let’s look at the Swiss double yes rule through British political eyeballs. A glance on Wikipedia at the British 2016 referendum results for voting areas shows this rule provides an essential safety net for small communities such as those engaged with fishing and farming, also specialised industries. Under the Swiss double yes rule small remote communities cannot be swept aside by the big cities or big money.
Suppose the numbers of voting areas won also had counted towards the final result of our June 2016 referendum. The score shows that out of 382 voting areas ( one was Gibraltar ) 119 voted to remain, including all 32 areas in Scotland. No less than 263 voted to leave. A map on Wikipedia shows England and Wales and a large portion of Northern Ireland almost entirely leavers’ blue save for London plus the M40 and M11 corridors. Far from a narrow victory this was a greater political landslide than the Swiss vote in 1993.
The EU daily try to undermine our union but some area votes in Scotland were close, particularly where they have a fishing fleet. Only when they had agreed a strategy would the Swiss have triggered Article 50 on the understanding that all cantons were ready to walk away without an agreement with the EU if necessary. The inevitable EU blackmail – give us your fishing grounds or we won’t do a deal on trade – would have been stuffed down their throats by solid wall of mental Swiss halberds and cross-bows.
Nowadays in Switzerland, direct democracy takes place at three levels – Confederation, canton and local government. Swiss are not citizens of their country but of one or more of their three thousand local communes. My wife, children and grandchildren are citizens of Luzern and also Naeffels in Glarus where a thousand years ago an ancestor built a castle. Let’s just say that a Swiss has enviable control over all three layers of government and thus his or her life. Parliament in Switzerland would have to seek the approval of the people before spending billions on their stately building. For example, I would rather spend £ 6.5 billions on the Armed Forces who do much more for our nation than our politicians. Others might wish to invest in medicine, education or filling all those potholes that daily remind of our bankers. Long ago the Swiss concluded that the best people do not go in for politics. Wisely, they decided to remove all important decisions from their political leaders - and make these themselves. Of course the Swiss can suffer daft Federal Councillors but their freedom to do harm is greatly restricted by the peoples’ power of decision. Mrs May’s is not.
During 1993 the EU launched their first version of Project Fear against Swiss voters. The result – failure - spoke volumes yet nearly thirty years later, despite the Federal Parliament withdrawing their application to join, the EU still meddles. Eurocrats try every trick, desperate to hoodwink the Swiss voters. Their latest ploy is that the ECJ should arbitrate all trade disputes between both parties. The real purpose is to lure Switzerland into rule by the ECJ. The other day at our tennis club in the country just south of Bern, I asked some friends what they thought. Most are farmers, ex-professional sportsmen, businessmen, some all three. Our membership ranges from a former Swiss soccer goalie to ice-hockey forwards, and even a former British Olympic Attaché.
‘ Money,’ they insist without the slightest delay. ‘ You voted leave but the Germans are convinced they’ll beat you, make you stay and pay more, because they’ve done it to all the others. Merkel’s finished but pro-EU Germans are still greedy. They’re after our banking industry. Give them a chance and they’ll steal every Swiss frank that exists.’
When asked what the British should do, the answer is instant. ‘ Why in God’s will do you leave important decisions to a few hundred out of work lawyers who don’t know how to run a business? Getting out of the EU is going to effect every business so let everyone vote. You’ll get a much more sensible answer. Swiss vote to run our own lives – and that includes our businesses.’
All agreed on another matter, ‘ Our Lower House members take good care to keep in with their local party associations. They know who chooses the candidates, whose votes put them in Parliament.’
Furthermore, my fellow players, male and female stressed, ‘ Angela Merkel has made it abundantly clear that she’s retiring from politics. She said so on TV. Her spell as CDU party leader ended this month. Her under-study is their new leader. There’s a possibility that coalition partners of the CDU may withdraw from the government and join the ranks of the opposition. This would almost certainly bring about an election. Merkel might no longer hold the post of Chancellor. The Germans running the EU might no longer have the same patron. Another team might replace them. We don’t know at this moment, though it’s clear as day that Britain should not sign up to any kind of withdrawal agreement with the EU this side of the day you are legally out.’
They have a lot more experience of fighting referendums than anyone in the United Kingdom. Their message is simple. ‘ If the EU wants another referendum, the people’s condition is that it’s run with the Swiss double yes. Second, make sure that both sides have to present their arguments - have these checked for honesty and accuracy by a neutral committee - then send both arguments to every person entitled to vote. We do that here over a simple matter like a footpath or whether we should have an air force. And let your local associations recruit all party members, really take back control.’
DANCING TO THE MUSIC OF MERKEL
He who defends everything, defends nothing.
Frederick the Great
BEWARE THE HUN IN THAT RISING SUN
Not far south of Cambridge lies the Imperial War Museum at Duxford Airfield where 19 Squadron, equipped with a single Spitfire 1 assembled on the 4 August 1938. More Spitfires were delivered at the rate of one a week until the squadron reached full strength and this repeated with 66 Squadron sharing the airfield. Within eighteen months both squadrons fought for their lives over southern England. Last second wake-ups are still a bad habit of modern British governments. More later on. Eighty years and a world war plus a cold war later, almost hidden among the splendid collection of aircraft in the American Hangar, stands a large block of concrete plastered with graffiti that once formed a chunk of the Berlin Wall.
A very wise and close German friend, himself once a night fighter pilot, later one of his country’s leading industrialists, described the destruction of the wall as the night, ‘ The Russian mother could no longer feed her child, so she left the baby on our door step, but twenty years earlier than we expected.’ We hear the echoes of that time in the recent election where throughout the east of the country votes surged for Alternative for Deutschland.
There is an increasingly visible difference between the old Western Germany of the Cold War whose leaders were groomed at places like Wilton Park and the new united Germany of this century. During spring 1945 East Germans simply exchanged one tyranny for another. Ten years later, when she was three months old, Angela Merkel’s father emigrated from the democratic west to Stalinist East Germany; he was appointed pastor of a country church in Brandenburg. As a child she would have had to join Communist organisations to gain access to better schools, youth activities and eventually university. She was not alone. All girls and boys had to swear some form of allegiance to Marxist ideology and the state if they were to advance in life. Browsing the Internet one comes across the young Merkel’s photograph on her ID card as a Stasi informer. Talking to close German friends one sympathises with their worry that reunited Germany has absorbed mind-sets infected with traces of the old Prussian over-confidence and inflexibility, the tunnel vision that led them into two seismic defeats, followed by partition in the first half of the last century.
At the time, Margaret Thatcher, Britain’s Prime Minister, expressed concern – shared by Francois Mitterrand and Mikhail Gorbachev - that Germany once more might become too large and too dominant. The record of that famous seminar at Cambridge during those months before unification is remarkably prophetic. Germans rewarded themselves the credit for unification, rather than thank Gorbachev who actually deserved their praise. Helmut Kohl already flexed his elbows in the EC. Nor did he recognise the Oder-Niesse line as the frontier of a united Germany. Margaret Thatcher was much criticised by the usual liberal chorus, including her own FCO advisers, but over the last quarter century events have proved her judgement not just sound but spot on.
Margaret Thatcher went so far as to claim that she liked Germany so much she wanted to keep two of them. Though she was never alone in worrying that a united Germany needed its political and military ambitions constrained within an international structure. Fortunately one existed – NATO – but in 1990 they recognised that one could only forecast the foreseeable future. So let’s try to put a finger on the moment Germany began to change.
I first visited Germany in 1960 when the British Army of the Rhine was larger than today’s entire British Army. In those days the Royal Engineers had a former SS barracks as their base in Osnabruck. The officers mess dining room was like a huge college chapel. On arrival, at lunch, I remarked that the SS officers did themselves rather well only to be told that this had been the WOs and Sergeant’s Mess, the officers all lived in flats with their mistresses in beautiful down town Osnabruck. One soon learned the locals hated soldiers. Not because we were Brits. In spring 1945 the German Army wanted to surrender, the SS did not. Consequently the Canadians’ artillery flattened the town.
Turn the clock forward thirty-five years. During that time I watched Germany change for the better, often from close quarters. I spent over four years at the embassy in Switzerland and grew to know beautiful southern Germany. While Chief Executive of an industry association I spent more time in Germany than any other EU country, mainly for export trade shows, though also for agreeing standards where the Germans were much better organised than anyone else including our DTI. It was quicker and simpler for me to go and see my German opposite number – a very likeable, wise and skilled operator - and agree a common solution then let Eric tell Brussels what they should announce to the whole industry across Europe. Our DTI was tasked with Heseltine’s pointless intervention schemes for controlling perfectly well managed industries. Our main concern in Britain was that John Major looked as though he was going restart the recession that had only just ended by shadowing the Deutschmark as a member of the ERM. Not long before before I had met the President of the Bundesbank who assured me the whole idea was flawed.
We all know what happened. Michael Heseltine and John Major never mention Black Wednesday when they’re threatening plague and disaster after we escape the gravitational clutch of the most out of control Continental power since the night the wall came down.
During the middle nineties I recall another good friend - business chief of the Frankfurt Messe ( trade fair ) - remarking one day how things were pretty good in Germany though only because so many countries in the world were now prosperous enough to buy German products. Gazing at the fat cat bankers entertaining their mistresses at the Schloss Kronberg on a Friday lunchtime before they went home for the weekend, he added that Germans must never forget that simple fact of good fortune and always trade fairly and honestly. Gerhardt was a former Luftwaffe helicopter pilot and we shared a similar outlook on the world. His assistant was one of Eric’s daughters. All were the kind of people you want by your side at a party or when in big trouble. So what happened?
DON’T BLAME THE FRENCH – JUST FOR ONCE
The creation of the Single Market started a process which reunification accelerated. Germany controlled Single Market
standards from day one thanks to Herr Bangemann’s long tenure as the Commissioner, but contrary to my friend’s hopes,
blocked others’ new technology, eventually destroyed industries in fellow member states. Portugal used to have thriving
industries for electrical appliances and shoes. You could buy them from London to Lausanne. Now they have mass youth
Phil Radford recently wrote an analysis for Brexit Central that shows how after the last twenty years the Single Market had left average annual export growth flat to the EU but rising at almost 8% with the rest of the world. This applies to everything from cars to food. The EU had made the UK a captive market for its exports of goods. The story was just the same for services although with slightly different figures. There has been the scandal over German manufacturers fiddling emission tests on an industrial scale – this has inflicted serious collateral damage on the British car industry, which now suffers from punitive new EU emissions rules for diesels while the EU hands bribes to multi-nationals so their plants move from the UK to Eastern Europe. They won’t survive long in a single market that’s already ruled that in twenty years time all diesels will be banned – unless, of course, they bend the rules in another back room deal.
Throughout this saga of dishonesty the British government has been taken for a ride at every bend in the road. HMG decided to encourage cleaner hybrid diesels mostly through tax breaks. German rivals could see their market share shrinking, rather than invest in cleaner engines they put much less money into a way of cheating during emissions tests. They were caught but such is the German influence in the EU that everyone suffers. British customers are not offered any compensation, German customers are fully compensated. Another back alley deal by Mrs May’s Cabinet? One that eventually leads to the bribes offered to Nissan if the company would not only stay on Teesside but invest in a diesel engine car which the EU already had declared illegal after 2040? All this is done behind the backs of the ordinary voters. We always end up paying. We have to stop such abuse of our taxes.
As though these were not enough woes, after declaring their intention to stay in Britain, Honda suddenly announce that after thirty years they’re closing their plant in Swindon, their only plant in Europe. Back in the eighties the Koreans told me that their first investment, on Teesside by Samsung, was because we were behind the fortress walls – inside the single market. Since the EU trade deal with Japan this no longer applies. Honda and any other Japanese company can avoid all the expensive regulations and social costs of business inside the EU and make their cars in Japan. They can even make the cars with a work force that manages and services AI robots and computers that do not need approval from Germany’s competing industry. Honda is merely being straight and we should learn from them. Surely it’s long past time we restored the industrial base with British owned companies.
What Mark Carney aptly describes as reliance on the kindness of strangers - has been routine practise since years. City fat cats sold our machine tool industry as property deals and our car industry bit by bit to overseas investors. If the plant at Swindon was British owned and the government pro-British, alternative markets might be found for a while but ultimately the management would just strip out all the machinery and install a modern production line for electric vehicles. A fully British management would fight to keep their company – just like Honda is doing by building the next generation of plants in Japan. Maybe in Britain entirely the wrong people are making decisions. How about forming a core team from the students at Cambridge and Imperial College? Crowd fund them to create new companies to exploit the second industrial revolution. They’re doing it already around Cambridge with a high tech industry turnover of £ 14 billions last year. The other day on Briefings for Brexit Professor Ashoka Modi explained that the German car industry has to work its way through a generational change and he wasn’t entirely sure it could.
What can only be described as a plague of dishonesty invades both politics and business. And it’s taken a rapid turn for the worse since the Tory Party let Theresa May loose in Downing Street. This utterly incompetent Prime Minister regards cheating the voters as a routine part of her job. Our votes no longer count, so why vote? Results are no longer respected. Tory Party membership was over a million when Margaret Thatcher was leader. Today it’s barely a tenth of that number. The party is financed by business fat cats and that’s who she’s negotiating for – not the voters. I’m not the least surprised that Tony Blair, George Osborne, Peter Mandelson, Michael Heseltine, George Soros are the staunchest believers in the EU empire. Tony still hopes to become president. The very rich gain the most from our commercial and political rape – hail President Blair. And they’re why representative democracy is stone dead in Britain, only MPs don’t know it yet. They should be replaced with the kind of direct democracy that the Swiss have enjoyed for eight-hundred years at both local and national politics.
Right now, however, foreign powers are more welcome to interfere in our national life than the electorate’s opinions, providing they pay enough bribes among the establishment. Multi-national business takes their employees for granted and encouraged by Mrs May and no less than four former Prime Ministers, threatens them politically, preaching that employers go anywhere it’s cheaper. As during the nineteen-thirties and the rise of the dictators, one begins to wonder where else such squalid politics are happening. After living next door in Switzerland for a decade, where more and more German products replace local ones, where whole management teams cross the border and take over banks, businesses and even hospitals, and swiftly bust some of the best companies such as Swissair, one’s perspective gradually alters. Soon the Maastricht and Lisbon Treaties become less steps on the way to closer integration of the European Union than yard sticks of Germany’s relentless, growing economic and political power.
Early in November 2017 the weekly magazine Der Spiegel published an outline of the German Army’s latest planning paper Vorausshau 2040 - Strategic Perspective 2040. Ever since this article in Der Spiegel there has been mostly radio silence from Berlin. From just reading the leaks in Der Spiegel one realises that the new German strategy plan is a watershed. Not since the Second World War has the German Army contemplated a future without belonging to the NATO command structure. Not every German likes this idea. One of the worries about unification was could Germany gain military and political power through the EU where the Kaiser and Hitler failed through war. Parts of the report most likely are contributions from diplomats and officials and I would not rule out significant input from Germans employed at the EU Commission in Brussels. Some of the forecasts are astute, indeed already have come to pass. The author, Katrin Suder, has worked for McKinsey. Her study’s core message is that Europe cannot rely on the Americans any longer. I don’t agree. For the British, having the Americans involved with Europe’s defence has kept the peace for more than seventy years and still does even with Donald Trump’s bizarre White House.
The paper’s central worry is that a break up of the European Union could bring about the collapse of the economies surrounding Germany and kill off these valuable export markets. The consequent unemployment could lead to civil disorder, even another Weimar crisis. One assumption is that the European Union started to break up during 2008 when the Lisbon Treaty did away with each member country’s veto and replaced it with majority votes. Another assumption suggests that NATO started breaking up during 2014 when member countries were asked to work towards spending 2% of their gnp on defence and 20% of that on new equipment. German officers have suggested to me that President Trump made these demands to force their government to buy American equipment. Der Spiegel observed that long before Donald Trump arrived on the scene, Germany fell well short of both targets every year.
The Army planners are convinced that Germany must look after its own security. An obvious start is to concentrate on binding together the inner core of Euro Zone countries, economically, politically and militarily. An outer ring of satellite economies, which includes us Britons, must be kept within the political and economic orbit of the Euro Zone and its political and economic sun, Germany. The scale of Germany’s reliance on these satellite markets is best measured by the lengths to which the German government goes to disguise the size of the country’s huge annual trade surplus – somewhere around 340 billion Euros according to the economists Professor Heiner Flassbeck and Friedericke Spieker in their recent report – helped enormously by the existence of the Euro as a currency inside which hides a very under-valued Deutschmark. According to Heiner Flassbeck one can reasonably argue that German workers pay for this huge surplus through a lower standard of living than if their money floated at its real worth.
Control of markets and money, in my view, becomes essential for managing this export machine as it sucks the life from once thriving industries in almost thirty satellite countries. One prospect still makes them nervous – a successful Brexit. And this explains why the ‘ European Union ’ is so desperate to keep us aligned – controlled by Germany for as long as possible into the future. What is harder to fathom is why on earth the expensively educated British establishment are so desperate to go along with this straight forward colonisation of their country – ours I might add – the second largest economy in Europe. Are they just cowards, frightened of standing on their own two feet, scared of ordinary people having an equal say over our lives? We’re hearing arguments about who should vote that were out of date three-hundred years ago when we had a civil war. Are they worried about having to pay people decent wages? As one German politician put it very well the other day, Brexit is the equivalent of the nineteen smallest EU countries all leaving together.
As a warning to others Mrs May suffers humiliation twice a week in places all over Europe and even as far away as the Gulf of Aquaba. What would Lawrence of Arabia make of this odd woman who believes it’s the Prime Minister’s duty to be thrown like a Christian to the lions by a drunken dwarf twice a week? I’ve a shrewd idea what that staunch Methodist Margaret Thatcher would have thought! Besides, all this international humiliation also serves as a smoke screen for Angela Merkel to give Mrs May the next orders. The recent mad dash to the bottom right corner of the Mediterranean produced another complete U turn from Mrs May, this time over Article 50 and the 29 March. No wonder EU ambassadors keep telling me they know that Brexit will never happen so long as Mrs May is Prime Minister and they accept that they must do enough to keep her in power. She’s their most valuable not so secret asset in London.
The nearest I can get to treaties similar to Mrs May’s Withdrawal Agreement drawn up by Robbins and Selmayr are the Soviet Union’s punitive deals with Finland and Eastern Europe or the German Government-General of Poland and the Reich District Land of the Warta River which contained the Posnan Industrial Zones. Mrs May and Phillip Hammond and Parliament want British leavers held in the EU labour camps against our will – while we all voted to join Schindler’s List.
Angela Merkel enjoys a double bonus from this pantomime. She proves that modern British politicians are as spineless as the French, Dutch, Greeks and Irish. Her message for Europe and the wider world - Germany rules Europe because Germans get things done. We stand up to the Anglo-Saxons. You’re much better off with us in charge. As regards British politicians, Frau Merkel has a point. Our Prime Minister has been Merkel’s puppet since she was crowned by the Tories. How about us? Millions of Labour voters are realising what most Tory voters already know. Other than to win seats and cushy jobs at an election, our votes might as well go in a wastepaper basket. Parliament has slyly over-ruled our referendum vote. Parliament believes they are above the people. Parliament ignores our existence between general elections. Parliament is asking for a seismic lesson. Are our establishment ready to face surgical violence on behalf of the voters and quite possibly neutral police and armed forces? Moreover, once again, have the Germans read our leaders right and us wrong?
THE POLISH QUESTION
According to Der Spiegel, ironically, the Army report speculates that one day the Poles and Baltic states might throw in their lot with Russia. One does come across naive Polish diplomats convinced that Angela Merkel saves them from Putin’s Russia. Others are less convinced, German politics has thrown up a movement to restore their 1945 frontiers. The planners also worry that the Hungarians and the Balkans might do the same in protest against a European Union run by Germany and France. Keep in mind, as an old friend and onetime very senior German intelligence official – right hand man of General Gehlen - explained to me one evening over supper at our home, that our membership of the European Union made Franco-German rule more acceptable for the rest. Realistically that was German rule and although some Germans think it’s their turn, not a sufficiently good reason, I observed reasonably, for us British to stay after millions of us including my wife and I had just voted to leave. Membership of the EU had done exactly the amount of damage to our manufacturing and export industries, shipping and trade with the Commonwealth that we had warned about before our MPs voted to join the Common Market. For over forty years France has been subsidised at our expense. Indeed, one could argue that the present situation in Poland and the amount of British money that ends up in Poland suggests the reverse of the planners’ fears is happening. Whether it’s through buying gas or investing in Baltic pipelines and Siberian car factories, Germany seems the country with the closest economic relationship with Russia. Witness the latest row with France even when President Macron’s latest plan for Europe is straight out of Vorausshau 2040. Are all Eastern Europeans ready to hand over their protection from Russia to Putin’s telephone friend, Angela Merkel?
Over the last two years but particularly since the German election there have been enough signals about the future of Europe. Angela Merkel has successfully completed a management takeover of the European Union. Today she controls Europe’s economies, its money, its politics and has installed her own management team at the EU Commission with a German as top man in the European Parliament. Her final task is to replace NATO. Once done she is free of the Atlantic Alliance and Anglo-Saxon interference, the road open to national destiny, perhaps even some form of Eurasian super power. As Viktor Kotoshkin of the Soviet Union Olympic Committee stressed before the 1988 summer Olympics in Seoul, every one thinks Russia picks its team from two-hundred million people. In fact, the real Russians number about seventy-millions – and that’s just before the wall came down. Mrs May and remain supporters of all parties appear to have recognised none of these seismic tremors. Either they don’t realise what it is happening to Europe right under their noses or they support Germany’s ambitions and genuinely believe we should become a colony of this new German empire. Maybe they are just run of the mill appeasers. For most of Parliament, our choice as voters has little influence, indeed largely doesn’t count – so let me warn our establishment that becoming a German colony is not what the people voted for in the 2016 referendum.
My own forecast for this continent is gradual disengagement from NATO by the European Union countries led by Germany until eventually that leads to a Russo-German pact draped with a European Union flag. Negotiating such a pact may take longer than Angela Merkel’s long farewell to the Chancellorship. German political leaders may genuinely believe that under their management the new European Union super state ought to be able to pull off a diplomatic coup that brings peace to Eastern Europe including the Baltic and Balkan satellite economies, moreover, a peace deal that removes all threats from Russia. Such a deal could safeguard Germany’s considerable investments in Russia, above all cost far less than another Cold War arms race, or God forbid, another European war. The latter fear makes it much easier to sell a gambler’s pact to uneasy German voters. We should not forget that the democratic deficit in Europe began when the German Parliament voted through the Euro without giving the German people a chance to insist on keeping their Deutschmarks. Which everyone agrees they would have preferred. That profoundly influences German politics to this day.
Putin, of course, wants to split NATO and part of any deal will include a demand that the European Union lifts all sanctions. As part of a new ‘ peace dividend ’ almost inevitably our last few troops would swap Sennelager for Salisbury Plain. The Americans would also be asked to depart from the soil of the European Union. An obvious and tempting price for this would be that Russia gives back the Kalingrad enclave and Germany regains Konigsberg and whatever is left of the Masurian Lakes in that portion of East Prussia. This might prove a master stroke but it could also be the match that lights the gunpowder. Don’t forget that it’s an armed movement in Germany that wants to restore the old frontiers. After the Moscow, Yalta and Potsdam conferences, in 1945 Silesia was taken by Stalin as part of Poland by way of compensation for half the country falling under Russian control. Are we going to see another ruthless Polish partition less than a century after the last one? As Digby Jones has pointed out, while we focus on smoothing trade in goods and services, the Germans and the European Union seek political gains for which they are prepared to make economic sacrifices. May I suggest that other sacrifices might arise for which they have made no allowance – despite thinking they have. Lifting sanctions is the high value card and it’s held by Angela Merkel as she pursues rapprochement with Putin. He’s not an easy neighbour and any deal with him will be tricky to police. Along the Russian marches some countries worry, they could pay a steep price for diplomatic and defence incompetence in Brussels – or should I say Berlin - as Ukraine has already.
Where might the EU deploy its new military power? Remember, Mrs May has agreed that the Queen’s young men and women in uniform could take orders from the EU command structure. Who would give those orders? When I asked a friend in the German Army, a senior officer though still young enough to serve at the sharp end, he said that the European Parliament would provide guidelines and that was good enough for him. What if they sent you to carry out internal security duties on the streets of Catalonia? He wasn’t worried as long as the political process was legal. Now that’s an honest answer but I’m not sure that taking orders from the European Parliament fits everyone’s view in Britain of taking back control. My friend and Mrs May are quite comfortable taking orders from Berlin via a post box in Strasbourg. Most of my friends who wear the Queen’s uniform would not be happy with such a back of an envelope arrangement. Do Mrs May, her Cabinet colleagues and their officials, fully understand the enormity of the risks they play with – or are they all sworn members of a German stroke EU lunatic cult? One begins to wonder whether we need an EU army, though one of shrinks wearing white coats with mobile padded cells.
THE STRUGGLE FOR EUROPE – STILL WORTH BOTHERING?
Where does all this leave the British people? Behind our backs and those of her Cabinet – Mrs May pledged that we would become part of whatever military machine the Germans hope will police Europe. ( I wasn’t asked, were you? I don’t remember this idea in any party manifesto during the last general election. ) Where does her pledge leave our membership of NATO? Effectively, officials are scheming on behalf of the Prime Minister to place the Queen’s armed forces under a foreign power. I would have thought possibly all are liable for criminal proceedings. There’s an attitude in Whitehall these days that the Law doesn’t apply to politicians and officials. They should count the number who recently served, indeed are currently serving prison terms. Where does this also leave our most vital alliance – the Five Eyes intelligence partnership with the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand? This alliance is infinitely more important than NATO.
The latter defended Europe for over seventy years but now is undergoing dismantlement by German planners flying an EU flag. We know from the German managed EU Commission’s haggling over Brexit that the other twenty-seven states are indifferent or openly hostile towards us, towards the United States and indeed towards the very concept the Commonwealth countries stand for. Never forget that East Germany under the Communists kept the cult of the master race alive for another forty-four years through its drugs and steroids programmes for young Olympic athletes. Look at the Olympic medal tables for a country of seventeen millions. Many comparatively young people still suffer from the effects of those programmes to this day. Only when the wall came down was the industrial scale cheating exposed at the clinics and test centres. And it could easily happen again. For my taste the European Union is a racial project founded on the idea of a European master race. We shouldn’t touch it with a bargepole.
Strategic access to the Baltic states and Poland need complete re-thinks and might have to come not through Scandinavia but across the Balkans and Ukraine where there is strategic depth. Angela Merkel poked her nose into the Belfast Agreement – after an invitation from Theresa May – and this leads to all kinds of political risks beyond the imagination of the clowns running Westminster, Brussels and Berlin. The EU was not mentioned in the Good Friday Agreement for very sensible reasons. Whoever agreed to its involvement with Brexit is an idiot. There is no border problem. It’s a mirage. During the worst of the troubles I knew the border country well. It was my job. Free movement of people has existed since the Common Travel Area was agreed in 1923. I understand the worries of people over family essentials such as the school run. Let me just say that I drive through the Swiss frontier with the EU in many places. At most there is no customs post. Everything is cleared electronically. Yet the EU – all twenty-seven – lie without blinking that the technology doesn’t exist when thousands of their truckers use it every day and Switzerland as a rat run. The EU demands an old fashioned paper system for Ireland as though electronics don’t exist. It’s simply a way of hobbling trade between north and south. Mrs May is so dumb that she accepted the orders to promote this nonsense – she can’t blame Olly even if it’s his idea; she’s the organ grinder, he’s her monkey. Make the EU Commission ( Dublin should also refuse ) put up their own customs posts then we can watch hundreds of TV crews invade from New York and wind up North America against bullying Krauts pushing around gallant little Ireland.
France and later Germany habitually use Catholic Ireland and Catholic parts of Scotland as back doors to attack England. Apart the Boyne there’s the Old Pretender and Bonnie Prince Charlie, the Kaiser supplied the guns for the Easter Rising, Hitler used the Republic as a base for spies, without much success either. Suppose – as Ivor Rogers quite rightly warned in The Times the other weekend – this Franco-German axis of hostility span out of control. Let’s say there’s a confrontation between the Police Force of Northern Ireland and German troops/EU border police on special political support duties for Dublin’s current highly Anglophobic administration. Not possible? Easily possible while the EU insist on an old fashioned nineteen-seventies border across Ireland. One incident could trigger a shooting war. Britain was able to patrol Ulster for thirty years because the Rhine Army provided a huge reserve of manpower. This allowed great restraint on the whole. As mentioned earlier, the entire British Army is barely the size of BAOR in the sixties and seventies. Maybe the EU wants to see a full scale war employing the latest high tech firepower? Well I don’t. We don’t need this kind of horror situation which only feeds the egos of today’s political pygmies.
Despite wasting over forty years as EU members, we have the potential to build a new global safety net through our closest friendships. With the United States and Commonwealth, we can create a wonderfully flexible alliance of all races and religions as equal partners, holding similar ambitions and principles with legal systems plucked from the same tree. NATO was a sturdy shield but sadly the German Army paper is right, the alliance is past its shelf-life. The countries defended by NATO for so many years, given democracy by Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, simply resent their liberators today. Just as there’s no future in such a one-sided deal with the EU, there’s no future in any other form of alliance with the EU countries, least of all one that’s military.
We should dismantle NATO. We should also drastically shrink our commercial and financial exposure to an increasingly volatile and politically hostile Europe. Switzerland, Norway and Portugal are the only countries where we can trust the governments. If the City fat cats make less money, my heart bleeds; I’m more concerned about what their gambles might cost future generations. Thanks to RBS we taxpayers coughed up nearly fifty billion pounds in bail outs for Irish banks. And that parting of the ways includes high risk exposure from the Galileo Satellite System and any other EU defence programmes. Galileo is intended as a rival to the American’s GPS and our participation would provide the EU with the means to make our armed impotent in this age of precision weapons, robots and AI. There’s a high risk of hacking which could make us very unpopular with our Five Eyes partners. Let’s stick with our real friends with whom we won two world wars and a few smaller ones as well. Five Eyes plus is the future. Let’s form an alliance of blue ocean free trading democracies. How about SEATO?
When Elizabeth the First sent envoys to his court in Delhi, the Moghal Emperor Akhbar already raked in the equivalent of £ 17 millions annually, more taxes than George the Third would collect two hundred years later.
The largest economy on the planet was China with 30% of global GNP. Second largest was India with about 25% and third came Europe with about 23% of global GNP. The largest European economy was France. The Pope had given Brazil to Portugal and all the rest of South and Central America to Spain – the latter combined looting with genocide, destroyed the existing civilisations. Vast amounts of looted precious stones, gold and silver brought inflation to Europe. North America’s economy was hunter gatherers with some agriculture.
By the year 1700 the Indian economy was overtaking China and the Emperor Aurangzeb collected taxes worth £100 millions – more than all the nations of Europe combined.
By 1800 the annual tax income of India was collected by the East India Company – over £ 110 millions a year – and helped pay for Britain to defeat Napoleon.
During this century China may become the largest economy in the World – for the first time since the Seven Years War over 250 years ago, the largest economy on the planet will no longer be a democracy, instead once again an imperial state ruled by a single political party, effectively by an aristocracy.
BACK TO THE FUTURE
This century resembles the beginning of the eighteenth. No longer do only three powers compete for control of the world’s resources. New players step onto the global stage. Some will struggle more than others to become wealthy and influential countries. Although natural wealth is a huge blessing, often its benefits are squandered through poor political and commercial management and worst of all, institutional corruption.
Britain has a gift of reinventing itself and that gives our country enormous human energy. Our economic size compared with China - and soon India - looks remarkably similar to that period four hundred years ago. Let’s reinvent ourselves as a significantly stronger player in this modern new world. Britain became the first super-power by breaking away from Europe and its variety of mafias. When the Pope gave Latin America to Portugal and Spain, we became Protestants and pirates, captured strategic islands in the West Indies and founded colonies on the North American continent. We established trading stations on both coasts of India. Eventually we became rich and powerful enough to keep the balance of power on the European continent for two hundred and fifty years.
Let’s resume the blue ocean strategy that made us so successful. I know from my own life the incredible dynamism of the Far Eastern lands and the fantastic opportunities for exporters with good products of any shape or form, manufactures or services. Africa and Latin America are going to catch up because they are resource rich with few people. Both are pillaged by China and Russia whose regimes prop up several revolting dictators who sell out their countries to hang onto power. Our friends in the Commonwealth are opening up for business, not shutting out competition like Europe. They want free trade, not charity labelled international aid. Countries want to join the Commonwealth and nowadays ones that were never part of the British Empire. We’re not alone in wanting to leave the European Union. Our voters actually had the bravery to vote out. I was proud of my fellow leavers. All was not lost of the old Britain at the start of the twenty-first century.
Ultimately far more significant than European parish-pump politics, our planet crosses the threshold of another industrial revolution. Driven by quantum physics, powered by electricity, and who knows, one day maybe to a great extent by gravity. Medicine advances into realms where what once lay beyond the imagination are normal treatments. At such a moment, why on earth would anyone with half a brain hand over the power to decide technical and safety and moral standards in the British Isles to a competing and commercially hostile foreign power, moreover to Angela Merkel’s new regulations mad empire? We know from the new German economic plan where clashes are bound to arise over standards – just look at the list of future national champions. Electric cars and vehicles, motors and batteries, 3D manufactures, AI, medical equipment and on it goes, listing all the fields where Britain on its own already enjoys successes which the German EU wants to stop through hostile regulation of standards. They even regulate against vacuum cleaners to gain commercial advantage. They would trip over themselves to ban British electric cars, block all our fresh ideas for services and manufacturing. They already ban gm crops that have been proven safe and robust for years. The armies of Eurocrats are thorough, rigid and managed by a German zealot. The growth of Britain’s economy has been largely down to the seventy-thousand new small and medium sized businesses created over the last two years. Yet in Mrs May’s government the minister responsible for small businesses changed three times during one year. Mrs May listens only to corporate fat cats and multi-nationals who give her party money.
And why restrict ourselves to only white Europeans as the people with ideas and skills and creative imagination? There are three times as many Indians as Europeans for a start. The people of Singapore are so creative and clever that over the last fifty years they’ve overtaken the EU’s standard of living. The Koreans are near doing the same. Anyone who has lived in Vietnam knows what tough and wily and incredibly clever people live between the Annamite mountain spine and the South China Sea. These are our partners of the future. Forty years ago we had trading links with Africa, Latin America and the Far East and a large merchant navy sailing to all these places. We should rebuild this trading web around the globe and the shipping and airlines web that carried the trade. Let’s have a new naval alliance with Japan a hundred years after ending the previous one – an act that partly led to Pearl Harbour. Let’s revive naval and trading alliances with Latin America – one of Nelson’s band of brothers, Admiral Cochrane, helped bring liberty to South America. Somebody has to fight for free trade; somebody has to counter the old fashioned cartels of the EU, Russia and China. No wonder megalomaniacs in Berlin, Moscow and Beijing dream of a Eurasian empire that bosses around everyone else. Our country gains not the slightest advantage from signing up for a bit role anchored off the Eurasian empire. We do have a rare chance to completely reinvent our islands yet stay true to our long and proud story as champions for freedom in word and deed.
Consider the full screen picture. The planet is going through startling change. Global warming is an invitation for countries to help each other or the absolute opposite, not least among the countries of the Commonwealth and we should set the benchmark for the power of friendship. China has its eyes on the spring waters of Asia’s great rivers – from the Indus to the Mekong. Three Commonwealth countries are very uneasy. As for free trade, Africa could supply all manner of foods, but processed, so the local people earn the value added prices that provide jobs. That’s how Britain fed itself before the First World War. Sea, land and air transport will become electric and solar powered, artificial intelligence take over all sorts of manufacturing and service industries – artificial intelligence will follow the pattern set by every invention from the steam engine to mobile phones and create far more jobs than it replaces. Beyond the tariff and regulation walls of fortress Europe, all this is happening and without a soul having to persuade German industry barons and Eurocrats like a latter day Academy of Sciences under the French monarchy to allow new ideas to prosper. Britain drove the first industrial revolution because of a fluke of nature and which ensured the City ruled commerce, not the King. We should resume this successful formula born simply from the geography of Saxon London. Joining the Common Market destroyed all the democratic advantages hard won during the thousand years since the Norman Conquest. Only our easy relationship with the Monarchy survived the EU but for how long? Who on earth wants President Blair rather than the Queen?
DEEP BLUE SEAS
One of the Foreign Office’s opening moves in 1963 was strategic – merging with the Commonwealth Relations Office. At a stroke they destroyed the Commonwealth’s champion in Whitehall, removed the focal point for opposing the FO’s plan to merge with France and Germany and turn our backs on our kith and kin overseas, our closest allies in two world wars and five-hundred years of history.
It was a survival move. The Foreign Office had championed appeasement of Nazi Germany and thought the Munich Agreement would bring peace. It brought war a year later. In the summer of 1940 the whole card house blew up in the FO’s face. Britain had only Bern, Lisbon, Madrid and Stockholm as embassies in Europe for our spies. Churchill invented SOE and put one the sharpest brains in the Labour Party in charge – Hugh Dalton – with orders to set Europe ablaze. After the war MI 6 and the FO swiftly killed off SOE as the forerunner of killing off the special relationships all across the Commonwealth. SOE held all the skills we would need to fight the low intensity wars of the second half of the twentieth century. The Commonwealth Relations Office had a clear mission and the cream of the pre-war graduates from the Colonial Office, Dominions Office and India Office running its headquarters, missions and the aid budget. However, the FO could foresee itself marginalised within a decade and that was more important than their country. Seventy years later we should start Brexit with a strategic counter move – revive the Commonwealth Relations Office, put it in charge of our international development aid budget, give it a pivotal voice in the trade relations with Commonwealth countries.
The planet is divided between the countries that believe in freedom of thought, new ideas, free trade and all those that don’t. We are one of the former and the great democracies are far ahead of their rivals because we enjoy freedom of thought, word and deed. This and God’s gift of our geography is why our alliance with the United States commands the world’s oceans. Our economies are wealthy because we speak, think and trade freely. Pretty well all the countries of the world want to trade with us, even our political opposites, but most of all our friends. Atiku Abubakar, when running for President of Nigeria, hoped Brexit will lead the way for real free trade between Britain and the countries of Africa. EU tariffs are over 350% on some Nigerian farm products and raw materials. No wonder the German sun desperately fights from behind its screen of EU planets to keep us out of the EU yet have control of our economy and trade as though we were still behind the EU fortress wall. They don’t like us, they don’t want us in the new EU empire, but they do need control of our markets and above all want our money.
Russia can make itself a nuisance at sea and in the air but only on land has the power to cause real trouble. Were the US Navy given the green light to clear the Russians out of Syria with no holds barred, they would do the job in a single night. Russia wants to take advantage of global warming by opening the Arctic north-east passage as a shorter route to the Far East. They are turning their side of these thawing waters into a military zone and the Canadians may find rather more takers for the North-West Passage along their shores. China, however, makes no secret of wanting to challenge the US Navy for command of the Pacific Ocean and its rim, has done for over a decade. One wonders if some time ahead we face a Eurasian axis with the German ruled EU, Russia and China against the rest of the planet. China also has a plan and they even picked a date out of thin air – 2037 – when they will challenge the US Navy. ( Thanks for the advance warning Ping! ) Stealing coral islands from their neighbours is an attempt to control the main east west trade route through the South China Sea. If you like, it’s the Spanish Main of this century. Iran is their ally only because it sits alongside the main choke point for the oil trade. At some point although not necessarily 2037, there will be a clash and the democracies had better be ready at both sea lanes. Mind, we have tough potential allies, not least the Vietnamese, who are wily and full of surprises. All the main streets of old Saigon are still named after Vietnamese leaders who beat the Chinese Emperors.
Let’s take a closer look at Europe. For a start how would SEATO protect its Scandinavian and Baltic allies should Germany’s EU opt for de facto neutrality through a treaty with Russia? NATO plans for assisting Norway become more important and likewise the forces trained to do that without warning. I refer to the Royal Marines and their specialist fleet of ships designed for amphibious warfare. Our naval and air power needs doubling or tripling as a matter of urgency. French fishermen playing bumper boats in the Channel are amateur league players compared to Russia’s navy and air force. Remain supporters such as the CBI proclaim that Britain outside the EU is insignificant. That’s the viewpoint of an innocent civilian. Rebuild the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force to their strength during the early 1960s and you’ll be agreeably surprised who wants to keep in with us. In my office cupboard in those was a list of all the RAF’s nuclear targets in China. It was long. Other allied countries will have to decide whether they want to throw in their lot with the new German led super state or become SEATO members. Sweden and Finland may conclude that an understanding with SEATO is enough but the Baltic countries and Poland might well opt to go with SEATO. There is a plausible theory that SEATO and the Scandinavian neutrals should copy the Irish and keep out of squabbles between the EU and Russia. However, that won’t work if the EU is aligned with Russia and China as an imperial Eurasian bloc. Don’t rule it out. Mrs May and the Rump Parliament only see remain as the EU was before 2016. Quite a few Real Europeans discuss this Eurasia idea as a serious option. Remember, this was Hitler’s and Hirohito’s strategy.
Moreover, the present situation is not a barometer. There is no alternative EU/German command structure at the moment. Countries may still belong to both NATO and the EU though probably not for much longer. Alternatively the EU/Germany can prolong the charade where their defence forces claim to be loyal members of NATO. That could make serious problems for the British government. In the event of a disagreement between the Americans and EU/Germany, whose side are we on? Already we see friction with the USA over trade with Iran after the former pulled out of the nuclear treaty because the latter was cheating. I would choose a new SEATO alliance every time. Greece and the Balkan countries face similar impossible choices. I have no doubt that Martin Selmayr’s EU Commission will protest that the EU supports NATO but to quote Mandy Rice-Davies – ‘ He would say that, wouldn’t he.’
One sees how the British Isles, a much stronger Royal Navy and Royal Air force, not to mention a space programme become ever more important. Brexit will demand that we invest properly in our diplomats and armed forces. The Royal Navy will need three times as many surface ships, submarines and aircraft. A truly global Britain must have the capacity to send at least two or three naval task forces to distant places at the same time. We have invested £6 billions in two aircraft carriers able to carry £ 500 millions worth of stealth strike fighters each. Mrs May and her Chancellor and one presumes her Cabinet are too stupid to invest another £ 10 billions building the surface ships and submarines to protect both carriers at the same time though in different places. Yet all of them are perfectly happy to pay Brussels £ 39 billions for absolutely nothing. This kind of idiocy is why I support introducing the Swiss double yes form of direct democracy for all important national decisions. Anyone on the street has more common sense than all the members of our Parliament put together.
NAVIES AND NERDS
The reliability of our advanced technology becomes equally vital. We can no longer tolerate the pig-headed fudges by ignorant politicians that our Servicemen and women put up with at the moment. We will need professionals making the choices, not charlatans. Science races into new realms. Artificial intelligence soon will allow robots to deliver supplies to forward units in the combat zone. Anti-submarine and mine warfare will use swarms of robot surface and submersible vessels to search and hunt for submarine weapons and mines – the latter may become small arsenals of mini-torpedoes. The Royal Marines are looking into the possibility of supplying commandos ashore by load carrying robot amphibious vessels – torpedoes with tracks - or aerial cargo robots. Strike aircraft may soon launch cruise missiles that carry and independently control multiple weapon pay loads. Air defence fighters may launch clouds of smaller robot fighters armed with air-to-air weapons. The possibilities for launching and supplying airborne and airmobile forces over huge distances become mind-boggling. I wrote for the RUSI Journal about these advances in the 1980s. One highly respected Chief of the Defence Staff dismissed my ideas as Boys Own. Now many of the ideas are standard equipment so imagine what may be normal in 2060! Certainly today I would suggest that Britain should follow America’s example and develop mini-nuclear weapons rather than rely on the threat of wiping out whole ancient globally loved cities. I also strongly suggest reading Ghost Fleet by PW Singer and August Cole if you want an educated guess regarding the flavour of future ultra high tech’ warfare after a second Pearl Harbour. Surprise, surprise, China is the bad guy.
Galileo is the EU/German rival to the American GPS. Both are global positioning systems, how your satnav works in the car. The EU/Germany want Britain to help pay for Galileo but announced that they would exclude us – as no longer EU members – from the secure/military communications provided by this global positioning system. After reading Der Spiegel’s report on Vorasshau 2040 excluding the British from any EU secure military capabilities becomes absolutely logical. What about protecting ourselves from cyber attack by the EU or the usual suspects? According to the media nearly all the components and software for the secure systems on board the satellites for Galileo are made in Surrey. Given a pro-British rather than pro-EU puppet government in London, we would have designed and built an independent UK secure positioning and communications system years ago. As well as restoring our national intelligence gathering capacity to the first rank, a UK system would provide some useful redundancy for the American GPS. Mrs May has let it be known that £92 millions will be invested in a feasibility study for a British version of GPS. This does not fill me with much confidence. Mrs May’s claims tend to vanish into thin air – from Lancaster House to Chequers seems par for the course. Frankly, I regard the announcement as a rather transparent bluff aimed to deceive British voters, given that her officials are still trying to lock the Queen’s Armed Forces into the new EU/German empire run by Angela Merkel.
Meanwhile in the real world the US armed forces and the British constantly upgrade their technology to ensure they can carry out military operations together. GPS allows ships, aircraft, tanks and any other vehicles to keep track of their exact position all the time. According to The Times the USAF alone has 31 satellites dedicated to its GPS requirements. GPS allows a small drone to spot a moving ground target and direct missiles, mortar bombs, even artillery rounds or bombs onto that target. Only the tiniest variation from true bearings could render the entire GPS system useless and our forces defenceless by removing their ability to hit targets at any range save with direct fire weapons. Once out of the American’s GPS we become reliant on a system run by increasingly hostile countries, where we are not welcome and who could unplug our armed forces any time they chose. This is not good budget discipline but plain dumb. Only an ostrich flock with their heads in the sand or a generation of home grown Quislings could contemplate such a stupid choice. The voters need to know because the voters need this stopped.
That’s not the only risk. A hacker will try to embed a virus but only activate it when the bug can do maximum damage. This is merely one danger that could result from a successful cyber attack. Rival powers try to hack into GPS on an industrial scale. Galileo will face multiple threats. NSA and GCHQ work as a team to eliminate such threats, identify and block intruders, remove viruses that have infiltrated. This allied ability is based on exceptional knowledge, refined skills plus the best technology in existence, above all total trust. NSA and GCHQ keep each other informed to ensure mutual cyber security and reduce vulnerabilities. Our signals intelligence alliance with the United States began during a world war. You can't build up that level of trust overnight; moreover its start point was one of the greatest political friendships of history.
That is not the state of our affairs with Galileo’s management. When we formed a team with the Commonwealth and the Americans we were fighting most of the countries who don’t want us as full partners in Galileo. We are never going to have the necessary total trust with a group of countries that to this day remain openly hostile towards us – ask a scallop fisherman from Devon - and we shouldn’t even try. It’s that simple. HMG shouldn’t touch Galileo with a giant construction crane. There is too much risk involved for our own cyber security and therefore the security of our Five Eyes allies. The gold medal for a Russian or Chinese hacker team would be gaining access to GPS and Five Eyes via the British use of Galileo. ( I once tried a German security programme after using Nortons and soon switched back to the latter.) The EU might not inform GCHQ let alone NSA if somebody hacked into Galileo. Within hours of such a breach we could be asked, politely, by the Americans to quit Galileo or the Five Eyes intelligence alliance, the most effective in the world. The other four eyes don’t want the risk of contamination from Galileo. Nobody trusts Angela Merkel’s new German ruled EU - in fairness I should add, including quite a large number of my German friends.
TIME TO SACK MRS MAY
I wrote this way back in the spring and look where we are.
Our prime minister told a meeting of her MPs that she had to create some form of border across Ireland otherwise the EU would be forced to defend the integrity of the Single Market. In case she's not aware, she is the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. If the EU wants a border with customs posts across Ireland, they can pay for it, build and police it. When somebody smashes their cameras and customs posts, as inevitably will happen, that's their problem, not ours. Mrs May and her officials for some blinkered reason think it's the job of the Northern Ireland Police to force a customs regime down the throats of the Irish on both sides of the border. Moreover, all done on behalf of the EU empire - otherwise known as Germany - and its page boy, France.
North and South, the Irish don't want a border. Nor do we mainland Brits want one between us and the Irish, not on the land, nor on the sea. For once we are in complete agreement with Sinn Fein. Why then does our Prime Minister persist that she has to install one instead of telling the EU they can build one themselves? Although if I was you, Angela Merkel, I wouldn't start from here. Any form of border is intensely unpopular. Only cattle smugglers and VAT dodgers have a good word for the border. Twas' always so. The North American media will fly across the Atlantic in huge flocks. The villain of the story is the one who wants the border. Let the EU build one on their side. The good guy will be the one whose border is open for every man, woman and child, dog and cat, cow and horse, sheep and donkey on the island to wander across when and where they please.
There is no commercial or political advantage for Great Britain and Northern Ireland in a border with the Irish Republic. Already there are different kinds of money, different taxes, different laws and there are cameras either side for checking commercial vehicles. Much of the road traffic is taking goods from EU Ireland by ferry, road across Britain then by another ferry to the Continent - where it is checked again before delivery somewhere within the EU. The Eurocrats claim that non-EU standard goods might slip into the Single Market. We could say that China will dump steel on the waterfront at Cork. It's politically driven, complete nonsense.
According to FactsforPeace some £50 billions of the Northern Ireland economy is domestic, £ 15 billions is sent to the mainland, £ 4 billions to the Irish Republic, £ 3 billions to the rest of the EU and £ 5 billions to the rest of the world. Trade with the Republic and EU is being used for political ends out of all proportion to its economic significance and impact. A relationship that works is being distorted by irresponsible politicians and officials. How come the current exceptionally anti-British government in Dublin feel they can push their luck to the point of provoking violence? Violence that very few people living either side of the border ever want to see again. Partly the EU is using Ireland as a pawn to try and stop Brexit; Merkel et al really believe that the majority of the Conservatives plus the Blairite Labour MPs will vote down Brexit. Merkel was brought up in Communist East Germany and still doesn't fully understand what makes old democracies tick. She doesn't understand the Swiss who have been a group of democracies for eight hundred years. Almost certainly the EU are playing with fire because civil servants and diplomats in London, who want to stay in the EU, are encouraging and even orchestrating the EU's campaign which regards the Irish as expendable. They are exceeding their duties - which I deplore - because they know their weak Prime Minister wants to crawl back to the EU as much as themselves.
Irish voters should wake up. The EU negotiators are fraudsters. They deride a modern electronic customs clearance system as a ' magical solution ' that's completely impossible to install in less than sixty-five years and yet the whole EU uses of one every day on the frontiers of Switzerland. Every morning 135,000 people come in from France to work in Geneva alone while another 650,000 people cross into Switzerland from France, Germany, Austria and Italy. Every day 350,000 cars and 20,000 heavy trucks come into Switzerland from the EU. Every day hundreds of trains and planes cross into Switzerland from the EU. The Swiss built a new tunnel and railway under the Alps to speed up this freight traffic as it crosses their country. Swiss tax payers including my wife and I coughed up billions. You can read my articles about this system on Briefings for Brexit and The Red Cell websites. Switzerland's electronic customs system clears nearly thirty million consignments each year. They are the crossroads of Europe.
Added to this EU dishonesty, our own Parliament plots and schemes against the people's vote to leave the EU. We can no longer trust our Parliament to represent our views. So we have to do something about Parliament as well. More detail on this further below.
Within a decade conventional customs borders will no longer exist. They won't cope with delivery by flying robots, driverless cars, orders via 3 D printers. Everything will be electronic and free trade will be the norm. Medieval customs fortresses - Zollverein - such as the EU, approach extinction. This is bad news for Germany. The EU and the Euro - inside which hides a 30% devalued Deutschmark - allows Germany to exploit most other EU economies as captive export markets. They do this by controlling EU standards for everything from beds to bulldozers. The German Army strategic plan 2040 was leaked to Der Spiegel last November. Germany believes that both the EU and NATO are breaking up, therefore they must look after themselves. For the first time since 1945 the Germans are making plans to operate outside NATO command and their diplomats hope to make a pact with Russia camouflaged with an EU flag. Meanwhile the Eurozone economies must be kept together as a bloc of important export markets and the others - including both the UK and Ireland - kept in close orbit as satellites of the German economic sun. Not everyone will go along with this plan, their neighbours should expect trouble. Those who read the Veterans for Britain website may remember that months ago I forecast that Angela Merkel would make the kind of approach to Putin that has taken place at Sochi.
We have no interest in prolonging the German stranglehold on most of Europe's economies. Nor has Ireland. Within a decade the Eurozone may indeed fall apart and take much of the EU with it. So why on earth reopen old wounds in Ireland for the sake of scheming Eurocrats and foolish politicians who don't care a scrap about the border or peace other than whatever they can milk from either for German commercial advantage? The Good Friday Agreement involved the Dublin Parliament altering the Irish constitution and removing its claim to the Six Counties. The Northern Irish matched this with a promise that if ever a majority wanted a united Ireland, expressed through democratic and peaceful means, they would not stand in their way.
Personally, having spent three years of my life dealing with the Troubles, the border in particular, from 1971 to 1974, I don't take kindly to French and Germans poking their noses into matters that are none of their business. The Americans brokered the Belfast Agreement. There is a long history of Continental rulers using Ireland as a way to attack England. This is simply the latest version.
Already Brexit stimulates our economy. What's going to happen when we're out and free of the EU and its German slanted book of rules. We have the potential to create an economy the size of Japan anchored off the Continent. That's why the EU are attacking us through Ireland.
Mind, listen to former IRA gunmen, and you discover they don't like the EU any more than we do. The Irish may even decide to join us one day. But not with the present government where weak leadership acts as Angela Merkel's messengers.
Why does our Prime Minister ignore all these blindingly obvious signals? Why can't she give a straight answer when media interviewers ask her if she is in favour of leaving the EU? I can only conclude it's because she is a rigid supporter of Remain. By declining to come clean, she is cheating the voters as much as any other politician. She wants to sabotage our Brexit vote, she wants her party to admire how she fooled the ' stupid and uneducated ' voters and kept us all in the ghastly EU. Beware, Mrs May; some of us may be uneducated, none of us are stupid. No doubt, Mrs May feels confident that she'll be very popular with her fellow MPs; after all, she has a party who are mostly Remain supporters. She doesn't seem to care that voters will despise her along with most MPs. She simply doesn't understand any better than Angela Merkel that retribution will come to the House of Commons as it will to the House of Lords. The voters have acquired a taste for voting on big decisions. We are not going to give it up. We're hooked.
If you happen to be a Conservative MP and you have any common sense, get smart, recognise that your party is ahead in the polls only because it claims to support the real version of Brexit. If Mrs May cheats the voters, believe me, they'll switch. They'll vote Labour. Because they know that the only way Jeremy Corbin and his Marxist chums can nationalise chunks of the economy - is by leaving the EU. If you're an ordinary voter, earning ordinary wages, you don't care what the CBI fat cats say, you don't care if Corbin takes over their businesses. I don’t either and I was once a member of CBI Council but I know how more often than not their horizons stretch no further than their own businesses. All ordinary voters are now aware that the Tories, even when led by a vicar's daughter, have no qualms about cheating the voters.
Think about that before you support anything this summer.
Massive betrayal of the voters’ trust will bring about a watershed, a seismic shift of the tectonic plates of our history, so great that only Charles the First’s attempt to arrest the five members matches it for importance. Some us intend to encourage a movement that will sweep away the present system of representative government. Yes, people may stand as MPs, but they won’t have ultimate power. We’ll take that away from them. We the people will make the big choices through referendums. We will copy the Swiss who have been governing themselves this way for the last eight-hundred years.
At least she's out of the closet now, a Trojan Horse for all to see, the leading Remainer, our Prime Minister who speaks with forked tongue. You have to hand it to the EU negotiators but we simple souls, the British voters, don't have to go along with their scheming, nor Westminster's and Whitehall's. We don’t want another general election. We can vote to change the powers of Parliament instead. At this moment we want the Brexit for which we voted. Not our dull, penny-pinching Chancelllor’s – who dislikes the Armed Forces so much that he never provides them with enough money to do the things the government agreed to pay for. We have the only Tory Prime Minister in history with a victim complex, also no imagination and a tick that makes her sprawl face down whenever she meets a Continental. Sack her now, Tory Party, and find someone who believes in Britain.
We reached this far because we took a decision away from Parliament. We should copy the Swiss, expand the use of referendums and from now onwards, make all the important choices ourselves.
HOW TO DRAW TEETH
‘ My dear boy, Marble Arch – cradle of democracy.’
Zulfikar Ali Bhutto to the author in Lahore 1964
The referendum in June two years ago was bound to bring out the worst in some people. David Cameron probably thought that with the government’s machine at his finger tips the vote would prove a walkover. If so, he was more ignorant of his fellow countrymen and women than I thought. As the going became tougher, panic spread, the campaign style of the government and its allies became desperate – nine million pounds alone wasted on leaflets to every household, threats of punishment budgets and even the President of the United States dragged in to threaten the voters with what soon became labelled ‘ Project Fear.’ They are not the first government to try and browbeat the people into appeasement and surrender to a foreign power, nor the last. What all these governments have in common is contempt for the voters. One still hears Members of Parliament declaring that their constituents are not sufficiently well educated to understand the impact of the referendum question, civilised debate is beyond them. Obviously these people don’t mix much with their voters. The latter have the common sense not to make rash judgements based on ignorance and then confess this stupidity to the wider world. Remain campaigners accuse the Leavers of cheating, mostly over money; some young people have been investigated and cleared three times over the same accusations. I regard this as simply a way of distracting the voters from the real questions while conveniently wasting the time of political opponents. Money has talked, nowhere more so than in the lawyers’ chambers and the Courts. Many voters would like to know who is paying for all this time wasting through legal attrition and also why the Electoral Commission has not challenged the government’s campaign – which spent many millions at our expense as taxpayers and as they lost, squandered for saving their own political skins and faces.
Our Parliament has proved itself shallow and inadequate, a real challenge beyond them. Most members of both chambers supported remaining in the European Union, including the Prime Minister; that’s who the party officials selected over the last forty-five years. After an interview with the Conservative Party Chairman, in those days Sir Michael Fraser, I was welcomed by the MPs on the selection board for new candidates in 1973. The election was at least a year away. I made no secret during the interview that I was utterly against joining the Common Market. The MPs thanked me for speaking my mind. I was a refreshing change from most people they interviewed. The man on the board from the Central Office sidled up to me afterwards and told me that his office would make sure the party never offered me a seat where I might win.
Today about seventy MPs in the Conservative Party and a smaller number in the Labour Party support leaving the European Union with a clean Brexit. Had Mrs May won a large majority last year another hundred Remainers on the government benches would have given her a comfortable majority over the Leavers in her own party, never mind Labour or any others. Forget Putin’s bots and the young, their parents are the ones who are street wise. Older voters are the only people who remember Britain before EU membership. They also smelt a dirty deal in the wind - over the property legacies for their children - and decided to pull the rug from under her feet. The Prime Minister and the mass of MPs of all parties belong to the 48% who voted Remain, barely ninety MPs represent the 52% who won the referendum by voting to leave. The bulk of MPs ( nearly 90% ) of no less than five parties want to stay in the European Union while only a minority ( just over 12% ) of MPs in two parties plus all the MPs in a sixth party want to leave. Parliament does not reflect the people’s will and this Parliament is openly hostile towards the people's will.
Mrs. May’s transition and customs deals are straight out of the FCO/Treasury joint scheming department manual – in a nutshell, staying in the Customs Union until the next general election so that Labour take the blame for applying to rejoin the European Union on supplicant terms. Ministers who are thinking of resigning in protest should bear in mind that according to the media, the fast stream of the Home Civil Service and the FCO are running a betting book on your departure. That implies your departure is part of their plan. They don’t want to leave Auntie Brussels’ skirts. Deep down they know they’re not up to life in the fast lane. They feel threatened, ply the gullible Mrs May with threats of disaster once the umbilical cord is severed.
We have yet to hear anyone in either chamber of Parliament point out that the European Union of June 2016 is no more and already the European Union of 2018 significantly changed. Instead we suffer depressing 1970s era sermons on how any form of national advance and success is beyond the population of these islands. Some of us heard this doom and gloom forty years ago – and admired the way Margaret Thatcher swept aside its high priests. These days the Conservative, Labour, Liberal and Scottish Nationalist benches are packed with MPs recruited for their worship of the great nanny, the goddess Europa. Labour’s benches are mostly the rump of New Labour and it appears they would rather cheat the British voters than stand up for themselves within their own party. They prefer to depend instead on the European Union Commission as their most fail-safe means of blocking the path to state control and Marxism advocated by their party leaders. None-the less, for most of a party to hide behind the skirts of unelected foreign officials is hardly cool Britannia.
They’re almost as bad as the old pensioned diplomats preaching despair and surrender in the House of Lords. I’m an old pensioned diplomat who preaches the opposite though at my expense! After the last fortnight the voters should abolish the place. A shame but it can’t go on defying the conventions that allowed the place to survive so long. Filling it with Liberals was another stroke of Cameron genius. What drives these people? Why is this cabaret so crucial for our foreign policy and defence forces? One needs to know a little history. A charming space in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is the Durbar Court, once part of the India Office, famed for hosting the Sultan of Turkey at a bash’ where you could eat anything that wasn’t made from gold. Nearby is the Locarno Suite, three rooms where the treaty of that name was signed in 1925. This settlement of frontiers and interests on the Continent was repudiated by Hitler when he occupied the Rhineland in March 1936.
THE ROOTS ARE APPEASEMENT
During the early nineteen-twenties the Foreign Office preached disarmament and promoted the League of Nations, during the nineteen-thirties appeasement of the dictators. Eventually this naivety led to the Munich Agreement of 1938 between Hitler and Chamberlain. Fortunately, other people in Britain, including Winston Churchill, had given warnings for five years and the country started to rearm. The FO was still preaching appeasement when Poland was invaded on the 1 September 1939. There followed a phoney war until April 1940 when Norway and Denmark were invaded. Chamberlain eventually was forced to resign after the debate on disaster in Norway. This took place on the 10 May 1940, the day after Holland was invaded, the day Belgium and France were invaded. Luxembourg allowed itself to provide the Germans with their start-line. A month later the FO argued for a negotiated settlement while thanks to the Royal Navy and RAF, the BEF minus nearly all its equipment *escaped from the port and sands of Dunkirk. Churchill, strengthened against his own party by the support of Atlee, Greenwood and Bevan, gave his answer in those famous words that began, ‘We shall fight…’ The following spring Hitler invaded Yugoslavia and Greece then Russia. That December the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbour and proceeded to grab Hong Kong, Indo-China, Malaya and Singapore, the Dutch East Indies and countless Pacific islands.
The FO strategy ever since 1919 had vanished in several huge puffs of smoke. The only embassies left in Europe were Lisbon, Madrid, Bern and Stockholm. The only one in the Far East was Chunking. The secret service lost its networks apart from Iberia and Latin America while being betrayed to Stalin by its own quite senior officers. Churchill’s solution to all this disaster was to take one of the cleverest people in the Labour Party, Hugh Dalton, and put him in charge of what became known as the Ministry of Economic Warfare – a double meaning given that its main weapon was SOE, Special Operations Executive, with orders to set Europe ablaze. And they did – by building up intelligence gathering networks and armed resistance groups all over Europe and eventually the Far East as well.
After the war, the Foreign Office very quickly disbanded SOE which the mandarins regarded as a threat to their own influence. This short-sighted act of self-preservation was a strategic blunder. The Kremlin gained the most. SOE was probably the ideal core force around which to forge a variety of weapons for all the clandestine wars that Britain would fight – from Malaya to Afghanistan and Syria. The next Foreign Office blunder was the Suez Operation in 1956. Eisenhower called a halt to Eden’s invasion with the French of the Suez Canal Zone. For the Foreign Office mandarins Europe became a life support system just across the Channel. But what to do about that huge Commonwealth power base just across the courtyard in Whitehall? Hence the merger that cleared the way for the next massive strategic blunder - joining the Common Market. These days it is difficult to picture the world of Britain before Margaret Thatcher unless you survived the experience. The miners strikes, the hospital strikes, the piles of rubbish climbing higher, inflation at 27% a year and the doom watchers in charge of almost everything. The country really seemed finished - unless you knew and understood ordinary working people. Margaret Thatcher did, she was one of them and proud. Many of the officials and diplomats who worked for her had not a clue what made their ordinary fellow countrymen and women tick. Many had never mixed with ordinary people. National Service had ended nearly twenty years before. Now I fear this same generation look desperate enough to preside over another historic wrong turn simply to survive as the controllers of Britain’s destiny. What is the alternative they fear so much that they would rather their fellow Britons became political, economic and military vassals of the German sun?
Pipers of the Khyber Rifles
Pakistan's Army proudly blends tradition from the British Raj with the clothes of the North West Frontier. We may find their generals' reluctance to sort out the Afghan Taliban a source of frustration - but there's a lot we can relearn from the Pakistan Army and the Frontier Corps.
A picture is worth a thousand words. The pipers mix tartan with traditional salwar kameez, long shirts and loose trousers and the famous sandals - you can walk all day over any country in chaplis, what's more a locally made pair lasts forever.
Anyone who has ever had the privilege of living among these men and their families knows that faith, courage, loyalty, pride with modesty, decency, kindness and warmth are qualities they enjoy in abundance. That's only the first lesson but it's the most important.
THE QUEEN'S GLOBAL GARDEN
Had there still been a Commonwealth Relations Office in the early 1970s opposition to joining the Common Market would have had a focal point in London. Forty odd years ago those of us who foresaw disaster none-the-less accepted the result and did our best to make it work. Today the European Union blatantly meddles in our political life. The German sun wants all the European economies under its control. How dare the British yet again deny the sun its destiny? Yet only two years after British voters defied project fear our economy ridicules the high priests of remain. We are like a ship that has sailed on the wrong compass bearing for nearly fifty years. Turn the ship onto the true bearing with the wind behind her and almost without effort, she picks up speed. To make sure we stay on course it’s time we take the C out of FCO. Let’s resurrect what the mandarins suffocated. Let’s revive the Commonwealth Office and merge the International Aid Office including its budget into this new Department of State. As in the 1960s serving diplomats should be allowed to volunteer for the new service or opt to stay in the Foreign Office. The old argument was that the CRO had to be gobbled up by the FO because otherwise we had two foreign policies. We have two now. The CRO was gobbled up partly because of a propaganda campaign that the Commonwealth depended on British political enthusiasm. There was indeed an assumption across the courtyard in the Foreign Office that the other member countries weren’t interested in talking to each other. Remove us and the Commonwealth soon would wither away. What utter nonsense. I would even go as far as racist nonsense. When I served in Jamaica nearly thirty years later the chairman of the Jamaica Telephone Company told me that the highest volumes of phone calls off the island were with Atlanta, Toronto and London. When the history of the last sixty years is written I think the robust health of the Commonwealth through millions of warm personal relationships will prove the Queen’s greatest victory.
Much as I enjoyed working in foreign countries as well as the Commonwealth, indeed with some very likeable colleagues, reluctantly I have reached the conclusion that the Foreign Office is simply not interested in the Commonwealth which it regards as a backwater yet threat to its influence. All responsibility for our relations and trade with the Commonwealth should be taken away from FO. By establishing a new Commonwealth Office we may once more focus our diplomatic and economic effort on our family of nations who are destined to enjoy increasing influence around the whole planet. While we veered off up a European cul de sac the Commonwealth countries shrugged off their disbelief and kept on going. And it was disbelief – I served in four on three continents and they all said the same. Just imagine if the hundreds of billions we paid over nearly fifty years to support wealthy farmers in the prosperous countries of Europe had instead been spent on the poor farmers in the poorer countries of the Commonwealth. Just imagine if our market had been open to finished food products – sugar, coffee, chocolate to name only three. We could have paid Jamaica’s debts with the money we give to Poland every year. At long last we have another chance to finish the job.
Our defence forces should be strengthened as a matter of urgency to support this effort. The obvious core is the Five Eyes Intelligence family. Other than NATO we should have no formal ties with the European Union’s new defence structure. We should discourage any move that duplicates or weakens NATO. My own hunch is that the German sun wants to make a pact with Russia and thereby distance the European Union from NATO which they regard as an Anglo-Saxon club. Many of my German friends are not fans of Russian Mutti but they may be out-voted. Our effort should focus on rebuilding our defence industries, shipbuilding, shipping, aircraft, space and advanced technology.
‘ One of the Federal Counsellors told us that voting for membership of the EEA customs zone was like signing up for the training programme for membership of the European Union.
As the people voted not to join the club, there was no need to do the training.’
Swiss lawyer Hans Brunner talking about the 1993 referendum.
ENOUGH IS ENOUGH
There won’t be a revolution – that’s not British – but, as both houses of Parliament wish to ignore our democratic votes, two can play that game. We could just as easily decide not to accept the result of a General Election. Let me warn our politicians - stop playing with the matches, otherwise you’ve chosen the road to political chaos. We voters don’t want to take that road. There won’t be any warning before we slam on the brakes and turn round. The bond of trust between voters and Parliament is broken. I am sure that I’m not alone in regarding Mrs May as the latest version of a Trojan Horse in harness to her officials with Europhile MPs watching her back while the Opposition would betray themselves to get elected. Only the People’s Assembly of China has more members than the House of Lords. One sees how the newer life peers are ignorant of the rules of Parliament as they never fought an election let alone served in the House of Commons. Former senior diplomats are lecturing the nation’s industries on where and how to export and yet themselves have never run a business.
There are two roads that avoid a civil switch-off. We have Cabinet government in Britain, not a president. Those seventy Leaver MPs should have it out the Prime Minister and if needs, remove her, form a new Cabinet, and make the Civil Service get a move on as well. To take a military analogy, on the 4 June 1940 Winston Churchill wrote a minute proposing that 5000 paratroops should be trained. On the 13 July 1940 the first jumps took place at the new Central Landing School at Ringway. On the 10 February 1941 the first operation took place with a small force dropped on Sicily. The following February a company parachuted onto the French coast and stole the new German radar. That November a battalion operation took place in North Africa in tandem with the Americans. In July 1943 two full divisions, British and American landed on Sicily. In other words, this country went from not a single airborne soldier to around 11,000 going into battle in the most complex form of land warfare ever seen. So please, Mrs May and Remain ministers and officials, don’t insult my intelligence by claiming that you can’t make a computer system work in a matter of years – because I’d give the job to the students at Cambridge and Imperial College and see how long they take.
We can’t set this country up for another great era – yet at the same time, kow tow to Brussels, Berlin or anyone else. That also means walking away from the trade talks with the European Union, any defence alliance other than NATO and our Five Eyes partners and telling the European Union where to put their transition period. Seventy per cent of Conservative voters and a large share of Labour voters want to leave the European Union. Wales as a country wants to leave the European Union. Most Ulster Unionists want to leave the European Union. Of course they want a recognised border with the Republic. Forty per cent of Scots want to leave the European Union. According to a fascinating article in the Irish Independent even former IRA gunmen would rather have close economic ties with us than the European Union. Only a few defeatist Tories, aging New Labour, the Liberals, Scottish Nationalists, officials and diplomats want to rejoin the European Union.
Mind, it’s an ill wind that doesn’t bring any good to someone. The referendum has. Remember when the politicians had the insolence to try and make us voters fund their parties through our taxes? Since the referendum, as a country we have suddenly gone from apathy to all becoming politicians. That deserves encouragement in this age of the Internet. Which brings me to the best way to avoid political apathy - perhaps it is time for another peaceful revolution. Do you trust our Parliament to have responsibility for important let alone vital decisions? Their latest buck pass is no less than sixteen hundred official enquiries costing millions - all to avoid any politician having to make a decision. They only asked the voters to decide whether or not to stay in the European Union because they didn’t want the responsibility themselves – their usual crutch the polls didn’t provide a large enough comfort zone. Now they won’t accept the answer that we gave them. We can’t place our nation’s future in the hands of overgrown school children. Why do many voters want the final say on any trade treaty with the European Union? Simply because we don’t trust our politicians of any party to land a good deal. All we see are surrender after surrender. The Prime Minister seems incapable of giving a straight answer to a simple question over Brexit. She is reputed deliberate and cautious over decisions but if pursued to its ultimate extent that becomes dithering or worse, fickle. The leader of the Opposition is a flag in the wind but even he’s realised that staying in the Custom’s Union will block the left fork in the road. David Cameron tried to fob off the voters with debates in Parliament about matters where a large number of voters register their interest. What’s the point of that when we know that afterwards nothing will happen?
May I offer a proposal? The Swiss long ago took away all important decisions from their politicians. They know that people who are any good at something don’t become politicians. Not all the methods and customs of the Swiss will suit British voters but more direct democracy will. I’m not a fan of proportional representation but straight forward votes on whether to raise or lower taxes, local and national choices such as pollution standards and international treaties would blend easily into our politics. Although that will require presenting all sides of the argument in the professional way it’s done in Switzerland rather than the shoddy propaganda we’ve been presented with so far.
The Swiss evolved the way they govern themselves over eight-hundred years. Villages, towns, cities and the equivalent of counties, all govern themselves. Matters such as foreign policy and defence are devolved from the cantons to the confederation but the people still make the important choices. The Swiss system would give the authority to our counties, not the four countries of the United Kingdom, because disagreement at national level is divisive whereas agreement or disagreement at county level is a binding experience. There is also a system known as the double yes whereby the popular vote is not enough, there must be a majority of cantons as well. This stops the smaller though far more numerous country and mountain communities from being ruled by a few big cities. They also have a procedure whereby an individual voter or group of voters can drum up one-hundred-thousand signatures and have a proposal put to a local, cantonal or national vote. This stops a coalition or single party from having a veto over public opinion and stems from the nineteenth century when the Radicals ( liberals ) did exactly that.
Modern politicians in Britain tend to follow along the wake of the opinion polls. The difference in Switzerland is that the federal government or cantons and communes must hold votes on a number of matters and a voter also can demand a vote on a particular matter or cause. Some politicians build their careers on this simple right. This is possible because the Swiss are wise enough from experience to respect the results of popular votes, no matter how close. After a very narrow vote in 1993 against membership of the EEA – although the cantons individually voted against by a wide margin - support for joining the European Union steadily dwindled in each vote connected with the original question although two practical questions about freedom of movement were passed – with caveats – until on the 16 June 2016 the Federal Parliament voted to withdraw the country’s letter requesting that negotiations begin over membership. The letter had been sent on the 20 May 1992.
I hope this living example of direct democracy will serve as both catalyst and template for fellow voters in Britain. I believe we should organise a campaign for the people to take away quite a number of powers from Parliament and decide important matters ourselves. I feel confident that the Queen would recognise that this was simply the people desiring to modify their relationship with Parliament. Our relationship with the Monarch and indeed, the Law, would stay the same. Let’s have a vote on establishing a new Commonwealth Office. Let’s have a vote on the size, strength and purpose of the Armed Forces. There is no intention to reduce the government’s freedom of action in an emergency. The Prime Minister and Cabinet must have the right to ensure that our Armed Forces keep the advantage of surprise. What I would like to see are national votes to make sure the country is fully prepared, properly defended, adequately represented, ready to resume a future free of the European Union’s political and economic interference. For a start we should decide the division of money we give away as international aid as opposed to backing our cash starved armed forces and hollowed out diplomatic service. Our sailors and airmen were put at grave risk during the recent Syrian operation – because the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force went into action with about a quarter of the ships, weapons and aircraft they required. What is the point of spending a billion pounds on a destroyer and then failing to arm her fully? We will find out if the voters are happy to rely on barely enough nuclear weapons to deter Putin and no credible conventional defence to speak of. Are the voters aware that the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force are a quarter of the size needed for their protection and safety, that our battalion on the Estonian/Russian border are described by former soldiers as ‘ tethered goats ’ with no air defence.
I would be interested to know whether the voters support City bankers or our fishermen and shipping industry? We can decide this by asking the voters whether upon Brexit day we should resume control of our Exclusive Economic Zone with a new licensing system for the fishing fleet or bargain these away to obtain advantages for the City bankers? Brexit will revive our old sea trading routes. Let’s vote on whether the government should encourage shipbuilding and a modern merchant fleet – rather than hand the French, Dutch and Germans yet another market. Perhaps we should have a peoples’ vote on the Brexit deal but not quite as Tony Blair and chums envisage with rejoining the European Union as its ultimate purpose. I suggest that we should ask the voters whether they want to pay any money at all to the European Union coffers – or do we continue to prop up Germany’s satellite export markets ( their description in Vorausshau 2040 ) whether or not the European Union attempts to hamper our exports through hidden trade barriers. I’m confident that the ordinary voters of Britain will show a lot more common sense than their politicians - not hard – just as the voters do in Switzerland, time after time.
*From the history pages on my website.
Catastrophe during May 1940. Across the Channel in France over 350,000 British and French troops are rescued off the sands at Dunkirk from the tanks of the encircling German army. Though the British have lost 68,000 killed and leave behind all their tanks, guns, trucks, vast reserves of ammunition and spare parts and stores - more than 600 tanks, nearly 2500 guns including all their heavy artillery, some 84,500 vehicles including over 20,000 motorbikes, some 77,000 tons of ammunition, over 416,000 tons of stores and 165,000 tons of petrol. As Winston Churchill told the House of Commons - wars are not won by evacuations.
A British/French expeditionary force escapes from Norway though again only through abandoning all its equipment and losing an aircraft carrier, HMS Glorious, sunk by German battlecruisers. Particularly sad is the loss of most of the pilots who with great skill had flown their Hurricane fighters onto the Glorious to bring their aircraft home.
Meanwhile the victorious Germans swing west towards Paris driving before their tanks the remnants of the French Army and the remaining British formations on the Continent. The French surrender in late June. After headlong retreat to the western ports the last British troops escape though, once more, must abandon much their equipment though save a surprising amount including guns, vehicles and even a few tanks apart from their personal weapons. None-the-less, of the 700 tanks sent to France over previous months only 25 are brought back across the Channel. Britain's army has suffered its greatest defeat.
The Royal Air Force has lost almost 1000 aircraft during only a few weeks fighting. Terrible losses were suffered trying to destroy the bridges over the canal at Maastricht to stop the German advance west. Between the 10 May and the end of the Dunkirk evacuation the RAF has lost no less than 432 Hurricanes and Spitfires. Some 40 destroyers have been sunk or severely damaged as a result of the Royal Navy's epic rescue of the Army from the Dunkirk beaches and French ports.
Winston Churchill, who had been Prime Minister only a few weeks, warned the nation, ' The Battle of France is over, the Battle of Britain is about to begin.'
Always think outside the box for the most effective strategic team. Modern conflicts are no place for hide bound conservatives.
When asked by the House of Commons Select Committee on Public Administration, the first UK National Security Adviser couldn't explain what is meant by strategy, offering instead that of course he understood strategy - there was a box on his annual report that had to be ticked!
THE NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER IS A HALF BAKED IDEA
Until the outbreak of the Second World War an ad hoc organisation, the Committee of Imperial Defence, planned strategy and was also responsible for research projects. The committee had been founded in 1902 by Arthur Balfour, then Prime Minister, to replace the Cabinet’s defence committee which only met in times of crisis. The new committee’s main task was to decide strategy for the Royal Navy and the Army following the ‘ peace dividend ’ after the Boer War.
No arrangements were made for the committee to formally pass on its conclusions to those with the authority and the means to turn them into action. This gap soon became obvious and a secretariat was added, led by Sir George Clarke. Far from simply acting as a message service, Clarke expected to develop policy and make it happen. Balfour’s Government fell in 1906. With the two armed services determined to control their own futures, Clarke's plans ran aground, and with no support from the incoming Prime Minister, he resigned in 1907.
The secretariat carried on, largely as a forum on lesser matters between those service members who wanted to speak to each other, and with the civil servants. Strategy was left to the individual services. For example, after Britain decided not to join the Triple Alliance, the Foreign Office and the Army handled the early talks about Anglo-French military co-operation.
Then in 1908 a young captain in the Royal Marines Artillery with experience of intelligence work was appointed Naval Assistant Secretary to the Committee; his name was Maurice Hankey. He became Secretary to the Committee in 1912 and he would hold that position for the next twenty-six years. Hankey became Secretary of the War Council during the Great War and Cabinet Secretary from 1916. He held all three jobs together. This gave him enormous influence – Hankey was the person who made sure that Winston Churchill when First Lord of the Admiralty, heard about the work of a lowly Royal Engineers major, Ernest Swinton, who was building a tracked vehicle to break through the German trenches on the Western Front. The Army were not interested. Churchill was, immediately. A land ship committee was formed. After all, the navy were paying.
By 1914 the Committee was beginning to act as the defence planners for the whole British Empire, consequently providing advice to the Dominions – Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and India. Hankey carried on with this role into the 1920s. Effectively, his committee was the peacetime defence planning system, one which only provided advice; formal authority remained with Ministers and the service chiefs, which helped ensure the Committee's acceptability to Whitehall and the Dominions, the India Office and the Colonial Office. Chaired by the Prime Minister, its members were Cabinet ministers, the heads of the military services, and civil servants; the Prime Ministers of the Dominions were de facto members of the Committee in peacetime as well. Hankey added Clerk of the Privy Council to his portfolio in 1923!
A sub-committee was added in 1936 called the Joint Intelligence Committee and its chairman was Ralph Stevenson, a diplomat who had served on the Western Front as an officer with the Rifle Brigade. During the Second World War the JIC was to become the main body dealing with intelligence and today is housed in the Cabinet Office. The Imperial Defence Committee was wound up following the outbreak of the Second World War largely because Winston Churchill wanted to keep plenty of elbow room when fighting a global war that had begun with disaster after disaster.
My point in describing all this (courtesy of Wikipedia in some places) is that Maurice Hankey only landed the job because he was a serving Royal Marine officer. He turned out to be a brilliant civil servant with a remarkable mind and incredible stamina. Nowadays some say that he never understood the strength of the tide that would bring the Labour Party to power in 1924 because he was rooted in the Victorian era. Who wouldn’t have been in those days? Just as many of my own generation have our roots in the Churchill era. One has to have lived through great events to understand their gravitational pull on the human soul.
Let us take this argument a step further. My generation saw the end of National Service, prolonged because of the Korean War. As a young officer in the Royal Engineers I trained some of the last conscripts. Most of my seniors were veterans of the Second World War, Malaya, Korea and the Near East including Suez. In the Airborne we still had many veterans of the big parachute and glider landings. Our brigadier was Johnny Frost who captured the Arnhem Bridge that bears his name today. The same was true of the old Commonwealth Relations Office and the Foreign Office. My first head of department was George Price, a sapper general who as a colonel had served on General Ismay’s staff in Number Ten throughout much of the war. George was the most intelligent person I ever worked for and had worked direct to Churchill for five years. George was the nearest person to another Maurice Hankey, he retired in the mid- sixties. A wartime photo of him as a young Lt. Colonel hangs on the wall of the Cabinet Office War Rooms. My line manager, John Champion, had been one of the original desert rats. My next boss, the High Commissioner in Pakistan, Morris James, had commanded a Royal Marine Commando and my line boss in Lahore an artillery battery in Normandy. The Trade Commissioner had flown a Hurricane and been badly burnt during a crash landing. Next came Cyprus where our high commissioner was David Hunt who had served on Field Marshal Alexander’s staff – he wrote Harold MacMillan’s Wind of Change speech about Africa and in 1977 won BBC Mastermind at the age of 64 and won again as Mastermind of Mastermind ten years later. Vietnam followed where Murray Maclehose was our ambassador, later a very popular Governor of Hong Kong. Murray had trained Chinese guerrillas to fight the Japanese. His successor in Saigon, John Moreton, as a gunner, had won an MC at the Battle of Kohima. Our defence attaché was John Waddy, whom most airborne officers will know from the Arnhem pilgrimage. After Vietnam I helped create a new department for the Irish troubles and liaised with the MOD for three years. Our head of department was a former paratrooper who soon put me to work on committees to thwart bombers and various other desperadoes. In Switzerland our ambassador, John Wraight, had fought in the Desert. I arrived single and left with a wife and son. When we arrived in Canada the High Commissioner was John Ford, who had won an MC as a battery commander in Normandy. His successor was John Wilson, Lord Moran, son of Winston Churchill’s doctor. As an ordinary seaman he had been in the aircraft lookout of HMS Belfast on the night of Boxing Day 1943 when the battleship HMS Duke of York sank the German battlecruiser Scharnhorst in what became known as the Battle of the North Cape. When this generation retired the Foreign and Commonwealth Office became a lesser place to work and I took the advice given quite independently both by John Ford and Lord Moran: I left.
I am ever grateful to them both for sparing me from the sheer professional frustration of a further decade of diplomacy for anyone who has worn a uniform let alone survived large scale combat. This destruction of our armed forces started with Denis Healy, halted with Jim Callaghan, started again with John Nott, reversed after the Falklands, started again with Tony Blair and blithely went into top gear with David Cameron and Mrs May. Right now young people who volunteer to serve their country are treated – as one general recently described – as tethered goats. Our battalion in Estonia has no means of air defence against drones let alone strike fighters. This is not simply a government that shirks its responsibility to keep our defences strong but one that fails miserably a moral test. They should all hang their heads in shame. Personally, I would tether 800 peers and MPs along the Russian frontier with Estonia.
Our diplomats are very good at providing the secretariat for the JIC and have run the organisation since it started. The JIC collates and assesses intelligence then distributes it to the customers. It does not give orders. The National Security Committee on the other hand has an executive role that sometimes can involve life or death for those carrying out its proposals. As a result a major problem with putting across difficult truths in London is that the advice given to our political leaders comes from diplomats who are military virgins serving as national security advisors. So far we have suffered four diplomats and the state of our Armed Forces is shocking. On the pages of the 2010 Defence Revue the government claimed that there was no possibility of state on state war for at least a decade. Obviously the authors didn’t read history very often. Modern diplomats are wholly unqualified to make such judgements – they have no military experience let alone of major warfare. All young officers in the Armed Forces start life at their individual Service College before university or specialist course. I did mine at the Royal School of Military Engineering. As they gain experience most officers will attend year long courses at Staff College, Joint Services Staff College, and those destined for higher rank will spend a year at the Royal College of Defence Studies or an overseas equivalent. The FCO has no structured training programme that an officer in the Armed Forces would recognise as such. Nor would the Department of State where attendance at Service Colleges and sabbaticals are regarded as par for the course. Serving as a diplomat in a war zone is not the same as wearing a uniform, obeying military discipline and expectations, perhaps exposed to daily close quarter combat, surviving mass incoming mortar or artillery rounds. Most diplomats could not begin to imagine what it’s like being an officer responsible for the lives of many trusting young men and women, some experiencing the shock of combat for their very first time. After days of taking casualties even the most seasoned troops take a deep breath when about to go back into action. I would even maintain that it’s rather comfortable for our politicians to hide behind an ‘innocent’ diplomat and thus avoid awkward questions themselves. Moreover, as officials from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office they are rivals for the money pot, thus not above the scrum fighting for a share of a shrinking pot.
In fairness, one must point out that while nearly everyone serving in the British Armed Forces has experience of small unit combat, not a soul has experienced high command in hot war. The last people to carry the nation’s future on their shoulders were Rear-Admiral Sandy Woodward and Major-General Jeremy Moore during the South Atlantic War. When the liberation force took Port Stanley, Julian Thompson commanded almost as many commandos and paras’ with his brigade as the average fighting strength of the British force in Afghanistan. Only senior American officers have experienced allied high command – both William Westmoreland and Creighton Abrams commanded some half-million Americans in Vietnam and Creighton Abrams effectively also commanded about a million South Vietnamese, Norman Schwarzkopf about seven-hundred thousand Americans out of a million in the first Gulf War, Tommy Franks some two-hundred-thousand Americans out of three-hundred thousand in the Iraq War and David Petraeus about the same number counting the Afghans in their stubborn war. The British contribution to both Gulf Wars was a division plus with naval and air support but the top American carried the burden and both Prime Ministers failed to influence the planning. Neither one had any military knowledge let alone combat experience.
President Harry Truman created the original post with the National Security Act of 1947. This was the measure that separated the US Air Force from the US Army, brought into being the Department of Defence, and the Central Intelligence Agency. From the start the American committee worked at the highest level with the President in the chair, with members of his cabinet, the service and intelligence chiefs around the table. This should not be confused with the National Security Agency founded in 1952 for signals intelligence.
I swiftly came to the conclusion that in this country the post of national security adviser does more harm than good. The job is for a Minister – Gordon Brown came closest to right approach when he appointed Lord Alan West as Security Minister. As the former First Sea Lord, Alan West was exactly the kind of person required for one of the most responsible jobs in the government. There are potential candidates among the current younger Ministers and Select Committee Members but none have any experience of higher command. One possible candidate is a minister who is a reserve officer in the WRNS but one suspects that she’s happy at DFID where she has only just started. Maybe each former Chief of the Defence Staff could take over this task on retirement until replaced by his own successor. Otherwise another senior officer, for example, is the Director of Defence Intelligence. The post should not be filled by former heads of SIS, MI5 or GCHQ because that blurs the sensitive constitutional separation of the intelligence gatherers from the executive – no more dodgy dossiers and so forth.
The present situation is dangerously inadequate. Heaven help us if the Prime Minister had to decide whether or not to use nuclear weapons. Our conventional forces are about a quarter of the size and strength they actually require to keep our islands safe. That invites gamblers. Operations against the Syrian regime and its allies were far more risky than the public realise. A single Astute class submarine played a lethal game of cat and mouse with at least two Russian Kilo class submarines supported by surface ships and patrol aircraft. The Astute had to rely on the US Navy for its supporting patrol aircraft and surface ships. One new Daring class destroyer joined the American task force though fired no strike missiles because to save money the means to do so had never been fitted. Had she been armed with surface to surface missiles, even better rail guns, she could have intimidated the Russian surface ships and probably destroyed all the chemical weapons sites on her own. Rail guns are British technology purchased by the United States and probably stolen by China. Why spend a billion pounds on a superb warship and then fail to arm her properly? The Royal Air Force announced that its Tornado strike aircraft would retire only to need them a week later for Syria.
Naive prime ministers and chancellors swallowed the nonsense they were given as advice - that no war between states was likely for a decade - and cheerfully sabotaged our armed forces. The last time our plans were based on a ten year rule led to the Second World War. My generation learnt about this stupidity at home and school. We remember Atlee’s massive rearmament following the Korean War. Today lack of conventional defences leads to over-reliance on a nuclear threat. That’s an invitation for a dictator to call our nuclear bluff with conventional and cyber attack. The Royal Navy wisely read the storm warning ten years ago and chose to save their core skills. Two full-sized aircraft carriers armed with stealth aircraft, submarine nuclear deterrent force, nuclear attack submarine force, anti-aircraft cruisers called destroyers, general warfare frigates, a modern amphibious support fleet, minesweepers and patrol vessels. These cores exist but that’s all they are - the numbers are the bare minimum and most vessels are inadequately armed. The other two services took the same stony road. Fortunately for the RAF their founder, Hugh Trenchard, showed them what to do in the 1920’s. Trenchard found his fleet of fighting aircraft cut to the bone so he built the foundations of an air force – an apprentice school, a cadet school, a staff college. When the danger became so great that action finally had to be taken, the RAF was able to swiftly expand. None-the-less, we could have been defeated in 1940 or the following year. Nearly eighty years later the good news is that with the kind of money we paid the European Union or give away as overseas aid, all three Services could recover surprisingly fast. This is urgent - yet not the least important as the Cabinet appear to have been advised.
As mentioned above, the FCO used to be able to provide well qualified candidates but it’s become obvious that it can’t any longer. The senior diplomats who had combat experience from global war are all long gone. My generation of ex-service people left with them. While the diplomats are perfectly able to deal with intelligence matters, our intelligence services are not part of the Armed Forces, nor are the police. When dealing with National Security in its full sense, I think we are asking our modern diplomats to perform a task way beyond their ability and experience. We’re expecting something they just can’t deliver. One only has to watch the performance of today’s FCO provided national security advisers before the House of Commons Select Committee on Defence to realise that the appointees at best simply do not understood what ultimately is the government’s job – namely our survival as a free country – and consequently flounder like well-meaning carpet salesmen offering cheap wall-to-wall hemp to people who want to buy Afghan wool carpets weathered on a house roof for twenty years.
They seem totally unaware that the inconceivable is what usually happens. There is a long history in the FCO of resenting the armed forces, particularly the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force, both heavily dependent on equipment and therefore not cheap. I well remember the odd mutters among the diplomats in Ottawa during the South Atlantic War when Lord Moran and I were putting our British arguments on TV and radio and the visiting Lord Jim Callaghan went on TV with us as well. If the FCO needs more money – and it does – the Foreign Secretary should say so. Cyber security is vital – but ultimately only because it supports hardware, ships, aircraft, missiles, drones, satellites. You won’t win any battles without cyber security but you won’t win any without sufficient fighting forces either. Nor will you if you don’t design, launch, control and defend your own satellites.
And then along came the Syria debate and I thought, now be fair, give them another chance, maybe they’ll rise to the occasion as they did when the Falklands were invaded? And to be fair, the Prime Minister did very well until about two hours into the debate she gave a reply that revealed her foolish gullibility when listening to her advisers. But let’s start at the beginning. Why avoid a debate, why not take a vote? A debate with a vote about going to war is fine so long as they all vote no – because our young people in uniform would no longer be expected to go into action against a by now, fully alert enemy. A debate with a yes is both immoral and disloyal and any force commander should refuse to send his loyal young people into action. Surprise is vital. So is time. Time for the enemy to hide their poison gas. Time for the Syrians to move their warplanes inside Auntie Putin’s shelters. Time for Russian attack submarines, surface ships and patrol aircraft to pin down the whereabouts of our lone submarine because our defensive preparations may reveal that one is present, somewhere closer than they otherwise might have realised. Time for hostile SAM batteries to ready their cyber and electronic counter-measures, move their radar onto higher ground. Time to clean up the scene of the crime. Time for the leadership to hide in bunkers. And so on….though I didn’t expect anything from the Labour front bench I did expect the back bench would rise to the occasion. I wasn’t disappointed. For me, Mike Gapes made one of the best interventions, because he couldn’t listen to nonsense and just let it pass without challenge.
Barely a handful of speakers realised the huge risk – even in alliance with the United States – taken when launching air attacks on Russia’s Levant colony. Our sailors and airmen were put at grave risk during the recent Syrian operation. The Royal Navy and Royal Air Force went into action with about a third of the ships, weapons and aircraft they required for the mission. What is the point of spending a billion pounds on a superb destroyer then failing to arm her fully? Our lone submarine had to rely on the Americans for any kind of surface and air protection. What did the Cabinet think they were going to do if our lone submarine had been sunk by one of the two Russian Kilo class submarines, according to the media hunting her under sea? What did the Cabinet think they were going to do if, in self-defence, our Astute class submarine had sunk one or both those hunting Russian submarines? In all-out war you sink both and eliminate the threat altogether. How were they going to protect RAF Akrotiri on Cyprus from air and missile attack, our infantry battalion who have been likened to tethered goats from the multiple threats they face on the Estonian border with Russia? Rely on the Americans with their hot-line to the Russians? I suspect they had not a clue other than ask for help from the Americans. A few thoughtful Conservative members asked the Prime Minister whether she would spend more on defence. One of these members was rewarded with a teacher’s smile and mini-lecture about how the grown-ups knew there were other aspects of defence that were more important than conventional hardware. Tell that to your America allies, my dear lady, and the Chinese! But don’t insult the intelligence of our Servicemen and women, nor my generation’s. Like one Labour MP, my childhood started with the London Blitz and progressed through Doodlebugs to V2 rockets. We’d worked out the value of military hardware before we could read. She confirmed my worst fears and as a matter of urgency the national security adviser should either be axed or forthwith, become a job for a minister who has at least served in the Armed Forces.
On a shelf in my library is a book I bought as a schoolboy in 1954 telling the story of the phoney war and the blitzkrieg that followed in spring 1940 – it’s called Keep their Memory Green.
A strategic booster rocket called Brexit is changing the way we look at the world. Once again our armed forces have been neglected and abused for twenty years. Another Louis Mountbatten would be fighting the Treasury and Prime Minister for much greater funds – daring them to risk their own heads by his dismissal. Courage is also required to do the job properly, not just cunning and career survival. Ideally for the job, experience of major combat is a must. We need to stand off from Europe and once more start thinking like an island nation and global trading power. Instead the government line put out by the National Security Advisers for their elusive boss, the Prime Minister, is that there is not enough money for adequate armed forces and we must rely on the Americans or else our European neighbours for support. This is nonsense. Already the Germans admit through press leaks that they will distance themselves from NATO – which they believe is breaking up - and seek a pact with Russia. They also believe the European Union is breaking up and simultaneously released that opinion via Der Spiegel. We should rely on the Five Eyes intelligence partners and the rump of NATO for the foundations of our future global alliance but we need adequate sea, land, air and space forces for independent operations. Judging from the national security advice offered so far, we’re not going to get some badly needed, far sighted analysis unless our approach to strategy fundamentally changes.
HMS Queen Elizabeth and the USS George Bush
‘ I humbly confess I am neither a diplomatist nor a politician. I thank God I am neither. The former are senile, and the latter are liars.’
Admiral Sir Jackie Fisher in a letter to King Edward VII
WHO PAYS THE PIPER?
I was released from the colours in October 1962 after serving as an officer in the Royal Engineers. That summer I did three things that kept me in touch with our Armed Forces for the rest of my life – I joined the British Parachute Club which pioneered sport parachuting in Britain, I joined the Royal United Services Institute and I applied to join the Civil Service – the last one put me in the Commonwealth Relations Office where the Head of the Defence Department was retired sapper general, George Price. Without doubt George was the most intelligent person I ever worked for and when he retired, George was kind enough to say that he’d been particularly lucky with his staff!
The RUSI also has been lucky with its staff and this good fortune continues today. After fifty-six years of membership I have reasonably good perspective - and a task for them. Over the last ten or so years, for my taste, as an institution the RUSI has strayed off course and made itself an academic forum rather than a club for spawning imaginative ideas where young officers’ voices are heard alongside their seniors – as intended by its founder in 1831. Twenty-six years later the Duke of Wellington founded another club, the old St James’s for diplomats with exactly the same purpose. One suspects that it was never Wellington’s ambition that either one should become a mouth piece for anyone’s establishment.
Nowadays, obviously much smaller armed forces and modern law and order challenges mean the institute has to explore a wider world. Generating income becomes harder when you no longer have a large number of young officers as your pool of potential members. Why not open membership wider and welcome senior non-commissioned officers? Surely that would throw the net much further in the best direction and restore the armed forces atmosphere. One ‘suspects’ there are more police officers among the membership these days. Of course, one must throw the net much wider for sources of money, otherwise inevitably the donor who pays the most, soon will call the tune and even if they don’t, no-one will believe a word. According to the list on the website just one organisation supports the RUSI with over a million pounds a year, dwarfing all other donors and most of them by many fold: the European Union Commission provides at least a quarter of the institute’s income but as we don’t know how much over a million pounds, this share could be larger, possibly much larger. Suspicions of bias are inevitable when permanent staff members also write for other organisations which are more political. Even more so when the institute welcomes the Brussels assistant to an Italian Communist who lectures our members about the wonders of the new European Union armed forces to Little Britain.
In fairness, the Europeans were a lot more helpful than the Leader of the Opposition when we dealt with Putin. But why didn’t we just kick out a hundred plus Russian embassy staff and close Russia Today ourselves?
What’s the task for the RUSI? For a start, launch a recruiting drive - among all ranks from petty officer and sergeant onwards, all sized companies and overseas governments to replace this income from the EC Commission as a matter of urgency. Even better, surpass it handsomely. Fortunately the institute has a very good membership team for this kind of marketing campaign. Again, just look at the list of smaller sponsors on the website. Otherwise there is a danger that the RUSI no longer reflects the Duke’s vision.
Right up to the 1980s of two dozen members on the RUSI Council only eight were civilians and two of them spoke for the universities, the others for their ministries and industry. Today we have the opposite. Barely a handful of former officers are involved with an RUSI Council packed with civilians, many retired from government jobs. They are eminent souls but the name of the institute says all you need to know – The Royal United Services Institute. Sometimes papers issued by the institute read as though written by the Treasury, Cabinet Office, FCO or all three. Therefore, may I also urge that some blue water between the RUSI and ‘Whitehall group think’ would go a long way to liven up an institute now in the capable hands of a lady from America. Let’s hear opinions from serving officers - and why not NCOs as well? When Jenny Shaw commissioned my articles for the Journal years ago – written while serving as a diplomat but about airborne forces, airmobile and armoured warfare, indeed strategy - the FCO tried to block their publication. My article ‘ challenged the concepts on which the 1975/1975 Defence Review had been based.’ Damn’ right! True to the duke’s legacy, Jenny ignored their objections. She had the support of two D Day veterans – General Tony Younger who as a major on the 6 June 1944 commanded 26 Squadron RE with its AVREs for clearing mines and booby traps, filling moats and blasting pill boxes until wounded; Rear-Admiral Teddy Gueritz who as a Commander waded ashore as a beach master and directed the landings under fire for nineteen days until wounded. Tony was the Director of the RUSI and Teddy the Deputy-Director. At the same time Christopher Foxley-Norris, who flew in the Battle of Britain, was not only Vice-President of the RUSI but Chairman of the Battle of Britain Fighter Pilots Association and also President of Leonard Cheshire’s Foundation; they had met at RAF Hullavington when learning to fly. I count myself extremely lucky and honoured to have known all four of them as friends.
There is nothing fundamentally wrong with using the RUSI to promote the government’s policy. Sometimes that’s good for the institute such as giving a platform for an American President or another international figure. There are also plenty of when times it’s not a good idea. Papers about defence that swallow the previous prime minister’s disastrous cuts don’t help a new Secretary of State for Defence when he goes into battle with the Treasury for more money. This is all the more urgent after the recent naval and air operations against the Syrian regime. A single Astute class submarine played potentially lethal game of cat and mouse with at least two Russian submarines supported by surface ships and patrol aircraft. The Astute had to rely on the US Navy for her supporting patrol aircraft and surface ship. One new Daring class destroyer joined the American task force though fired no strike missiles because the means to do so had not been fitted to save money. Had she been armed with surface to surface missiles, even better rail guns, she could have intimidated the Russian surface ships and probably destroyed all the chemical weapons sites on her own. Rail guns are British technology purchased by the United States and lifted by China.
For my taste the RUSI has been rather timid for over a decade about the state of our Armed Forces which are a quarter of the size actually required for our peoples’ safety. General Nick Carter recently spoke from a foreign policy brief describing a Europe that no longer exists, just as those Buzz feed leaks on the economic impact of Brexit probably started from on calculations made for Project Fear which have been ridiculed by real life. Readers may find four essays on this website worth a look – they discuss the German Army’s forecast of the future European Union – European Union or yet another Empire and then compare them with Mister Junker’s post election twittering to Putin and the running state of the German armed forces. Again, all reported in thorough detail by Der Spiegel. I am glad that David Petraeus is Honorary Vice-President - but he must feel lonely at times.
Even just a little more input from members who wear uniform would avoid obvious howlers.
This is from a paper for the RUSI on defence and security co-operation with France after Brexit, written by a former diplomat who probably didn’t realise his words could be read two ways…the bold italics are mine.
‘ The successful development of a Combined Joint Expeditionary Force gives Britain and France a highly trained pool of forces capable of a wide range of missions up to high-intensity combat. To keep up the momentum of the initiative, it will be important to find an opportunity to employ the capability.’
No-one who has been shot at while wearing uniform would make the above suggestion. The crystal simple chain of command in the Armed forces relies on trust – that includes confidence your superior officers will not allow their political bosses to risk your life and your limbs unless the threats to our country are so dangerous that there is no other choice. This is the kind of trust in their young platoon leader that gives his surviving soldiers the guts to follow him back into combat after heavy losses. The sentence above in bold print raises two fingers at the moral compass my generation obeyed and guarded as young officers. Parents lend the Armed Services their sons and daughters, often still in their teens – I was commissioned aged nineteen – they would be horrified if they thought their offspring might be gambled at mortal risk just to score diplomatic cookie points for some nameless foreign suits. So would the wives, children and nowadays husbands of our young people in uniform. One suspects the French officer corps would agree with these sentiments.
Nor do I think it exactly sensible for the same paper to present Donald Trump’s threats about Article V of the NATO treaty as any more than easing his blood pressure while trying to drag some Euros out of the all too comfortable Germans whose leader may strike a deal with Putin behind our backs. Again, read my pieces on Germany and NATO starting with Wood and Trees for an explanation of why I regard this kind of political stirring as unhelpful to our county’s best interests and frankly, childish. As for teaming up with the French for nuclear deterrence, read The Silent Deep by Peter Hennessy and James Jinks who describe in considerable detail how the US Navy and Royal Navy submarine services operate near enough as one.
I’ve said this before – you cannot ask a diplomat with no military experience to make the kind of choices that confront a national security adviser. Such grave responsibility should be carried on the shoulders of a minister, preferably one who has served in the Armed Forces. Anyone reading this who has retired recently, your country needs you!
Over the last three decades British diplomats including two recent ambassadors to Washington have preached that the special relationship is a myth. They wouldn't have clue - you need to have worn a uniform to judge.
‘ It is fashionable in English politics to discredit the opinion of people on the spot. They are supposed to be excited and prejudiced, to be unable to take the judicial and comprehensive views which can, it is believed, be adopted only in an atmosphere of ignorant indifference.’
Lieutenant Winston S Churchill 4th Hussars for The Daily Telegraph
Shumshuk 21 September 1897
A CHAT WITH THE SWISS CUSTOMS
We hear far too much about the impossibility of solving the problem of the border between the north and south of Ireland.
One of our neighbours is a senior officer in the Swiss Customs. He is on the team that negotiates the free trade agreement with China and has many years experience including the aftermath of the December 1992 referendum on EEA membership. Rejecting EEA membership was not a major problem because they simply resumed normal service. The Schengen Agreement has meant more work. Freedom of movement is not an open door for the EU to push the people they don’t particularly want over the Swiss frontier. Here one sees the strong cantonal influence. Both the Zurich Cantonal Police and their colleagues in the Bern Cantonal Police are responsible for border controls in their own cantons. This includes two airports. As our neighbour puts it, ‘ We offered to do it as we have that responsibility pretty well everywhere else but they both emphatically refused our suggestion. Only they were going to say who could come into their cantons.’
Switzerland constantly modernises its systems for clearing consignments. These are now completely electronic and these days the customs are recruiting IT people and accountants. They are urged to regard themselves as a helpful service to business and industry. Less than one per cent of road freight is controlled and such controls are carried out well away from the border. Random controls are sometimes carried out at small border crossings but the vast majority are at the usual place of delivery. Large to medium sized companies have a system whereby they can file electronic clearance forms for the whole month. There is no system for small traders because they are rarely checked and then only randomly. Containers already controlled at Rotterdam, for example, rarely require another check in Switzerland. Much of the freight passes through Switzerland on its way from one EU country to another.
There are Customs offices all over the country. These days small border posts are closed at night but clearance forms are available and invoices sent within two days. The deterrent against people taking a chance and driving past the Customs is random checks – if caught the fine makes the booze taste less good and besides, most people are honest. Random checks are often the result of tip offs or specific information.
Air freight requires more care because the cargoes are world wide and often valuable.
The largest amount of freight entering Switzerland for import or transit comes by rail. This varies from rolled steel joists to cars to containers. The Customs established focal points to deal with this traffic. A good example is the focal point at Aarau, roughly equidistant from Bern, Basel and Zurich. Trains deliver cars to a customs and auto trader centre alongside the Basel autobahn junction on the Bern, Zurich autobahn. An electronic clearance system makes focal points very attractive and business and industry find them very convenient. From the point of view of the Swiss Customs a good rail system makes possible an integrated transport system for most freight. Combine this with an electronic clearance system and the whole structure becomes very efficient. They have found that customs revenue rises every year.
Switzerland has free ports where goods can be held and viewed, art and precious stones for example, including goods sent for valuation. This system is popular with art dealers and duty is only paid when an item is sold and imported. The French Finance Minister was invited to visit the Freeport in Geneva and departed much happier than when he arrived! Fintech is a new area and the Swiss are conscious of the anxiety of their neighbours about tax evasion. Bringing large amounts of cash over the frontier is now illegal and a new limit is ten-thousand francs in cash. However, suitcases of money are very old fashioned. They have very good cooperation with the German Customs service.
We discussed the Channel Ports and the Northern Ireland border. There should not be any problems at either was his conclusion. The only people who could cause problems are the French and Irish Republic governments. He suspected that the customs officers on both sides of the Channel and those working either side of the north/south border in Ireland have no other interest save smooth cooperation. In the case of Ireland, North and South, there were already VAT and currency differences and veterinary checks. A way of avoiding needless delays is to establish focal points and make some of them free ports. I mentioned that the Tees community in North-East of England was all for doing this to encourage industry and shipping. Maybe Belfast Loch ought to become a free port and freight go straight there as a major focal point and delivery centre. For ordinary people there has been a Common Travel Area since the early 1920s and that simply continues after Brexit.
Our tea time chat ended with a request – when we take down the signs at ports and airports for EU passenger arrivals please could we leave a special lane for the Swiss…why not indeed!
WOOD AND TREES
General Sir Nick Carter, Chief of the General Staff, recently gave a lecture at the RUSI about the urgent need for the Army to modernise. This good news was long overdue. I liked his emphasis on leadership training for dispersal tactics and a more structured approach to signals and cyber warfare. None-the-less, the British Army never fought in Vietnam and remains about fifty years out of date when it comes to tactical organisation for airmobile warfare. Sir Nick also mentioned how the Russians were designing two man crew tanks as though this idea was brand new – back in the early 1980s I wrote an article for the RUSI Journal that described AAI Corporation’s new two man tank which could add or strip off armour like a knight of old. AAI were based in Baltimore but the tank was under test out at the Carlisle proving grounds. The design, HSVT ( L ) was intended to provide air-portable tanks for the Rapid Deployment Force. The Army ( US ) surprise, surprise, the Managing Director of AAI, Ivan Barr told me and an American friend, wanted a commander in charge of the two crew! So they designed one with enough room, although inevitably this tank was slightly heavier. While the US Marine Corps showed interest, the Army decided to stick with their new big beast called the Abrams.
I watched the lecture from Switzerland – an excellent improvement for members who are not based near London – thus was not able to raise a hand for a question. The direst threats described by the general were from Russia, on land towards the eastern marches of the European Union, by sea and air towards these islands. The general’s main words on the European Union concerned the wisdom of completing the final pull out of all British troops from Germany. He thinks not. And some 4,000 British troops will remain in North Germany based around Paderborn and Sennelager, home of the 20th Armoured Brigade. At first sight this looks common sense – unless, of course, you’ve read edition 45 of the weekly magazine Der Spiegel which came out on the 4 November last year. It doesn’t sound as though they read Der Spiegel in the Cabinet Office or the Ministry of Defence. Surely the British Embassy in Berlin takes a copy although they may draw other conclusions from the article – Denken auf Vorrat – Thinking about the future emergency larder is the closest way of saying it in English. Perhaps budget cuts forced the embassy to cancel their subscription. I’m sure some kind soul would have passed them a copy. Unlike politicians and officials in London, those of us who live on the Continent can watch pretty well every TV station and listen to every radio station from Portugal to Poland.
As the media were invited to the lecture at the RUSI the traditional question and answer session afterwards was on the record. (By custom it’s normally off.) One questioner pointed out that not once had China been mentioned. Sir Nick replied that China was not an immediate threat – personally, I would have qualified that with ‘yet’ because otherwise his answer rather brushes aside the growing challenge from China to our freedom of passage at sea and how rebuilding our deterrence at sea and in the air after such deliberate politically driven damage takes years, not months. Nobody challenged the absurd situation where more than forty years after the Vietnam War the British Army still relies on the RAF for its troop-lifting helicopters. During the Vietnam War both the 1st Air Cavalry Division and the 101st Airborne Division each had 450 helicopters on the TO&E. Yet the biggest surprise was that nobody raised Vorausshau 2040 – the German Army’s recent paper, Strategic Perspective 2040 - which last November somebody leaked to Der Spiegel.
The leaked paper was reported at the time by the British media and found its way to the middle pages of at least three broadsheets. None pointed out the implications or else they didn’t realise what they were reading. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is rather like a religious order whose monastery occupies the south side of Downing Street. Doctrine is strictly policed. Only true believers in the European Union have been allowed into the order for over half a century after seizing the rival order of Commonwealth believers with a Papal bull from the north side of Downing Street. Heresy is rare and always stamped out. The Foreign Office took over the Commonwealth Relations Office – who controlled most of the aid budget - during 1968 but the merger had been under way for nearly four years. The Foreign Office had supported appeasement right up to May 1940 when Hitler occupied France after defeating Poland, Denmark, Norway, Holland and Belgium. Italy, Hungary and Romania were allied to Hitler. The following spring Hitler seized Yugoslavia and Greece and by June had invaded Russia. Five months later Japan attacked Pearl Harbour. Britain’s pre-war foreign policy had vanished in several puffs of smoke. Churchill’s answer was to take one of the cleverest people in the Labour Party, Hugh Dalton, and put him in charge of what became known as SOE, Special Operations Executive, with orders to set Europe ablaze. And they did – by building up intelligence gathering networks and armed resistance groups all over Europe.
After the war, the Foreign Office and Secret Service very quickly disbanded SOE which both regarded as a threat to their own influence. This short-sighted act of self-preservation by both organisations was a strategic blunder. SOE was the ideal force for all the clandestine wars that Britain would fight – from Malaya to Afghanistan. The next Foreign Office blunder was the Suez Operation in 1956 when Eisenhower called a halt to Eden’s invasion of the Suez Canal Zone with the French, not to mention the Israelis. For the Foreign Office mandarins the European Union became a life support system just across the Channel. But what to do about that huge Commonwealth power base just across the courtyard in Whitehall? Hence the merger that cleared the way for the next massive strategic blunder - joining the Common Market. Now I fear they look desperate enough to preside over another historic wrong turn.
The Prime Minister and others have made clear that they think the European Union will strike a reasonable bargain over trade and this goal is helped by proclaiming that our Armed Forces remain ready to defend Europe. I think this is to completely misunderstand what has been going on inside the European Union since the 23 June 2016. The two largest economies in the European Union are less than an hour up the road from where I’m typing. The French are more obvious in Geneva but up here on the Bernese side of the Roesti Graben you find that Germans pop out of the snow. A quarter of the population in Switzerland are not Swiss which leaves six million real Swiss such as my wife and family. Just up the road are eighty-three million Germans with an education system that produces more doctors, scientists, researchers, engineers, and academics than jobs for them. We have many good doctors and dentists from Germany but there are ten times as many people in the British Isles. Here any Swiss will tell you, they’re everywhere. The main newspaper is owned by a German paper. Swissair went bust and Lufthansa bought its cheap Swiss rival. They bring whole teams to the hospitals and the same is happening in the universities and the arts. Some academics bring their politics with them. The professor of Second World War History, a German, at Bern University would not sponsor a lecture I gave about Winston Churchill as a young man, because it might be divisive. Fortunately the Professor of English, who is British, was happy to give his support – after all, the young cavalry officer grew up to become a Nobel Prize Winner for literature. Let me simply add that with all the pressure on Switzerland to give up its tradition of direct democracy, rightly or wrongly, many people here believe that ultimately is coming from Berlin although Brussels demands the bribes and delivers the threats.
As for ourselves, there is more than enough evidence in the public domain to conclude that the European Union is not interested in our Armed Forces but very keen to keep our import market open and the pound hose squirting money. They’re equally anxious to keep us trussed up a huge fishing net of regulations and standards negotiated over decades to give German industry the power to ban often better rival products from the European Union. Should we slip past the open mouth of this net trap, they fear our islands could turn into a nightmare neighbour with the economic power of another Japan.
Don’t take my word for it – read Der Spiegel and judge for yourselves.
Watch this space.......
THE STRUGGLE FROM EUROPE
With apologies to the late Chester Wilmot
Whoever holds Berlin, holds Germany.
Whoever holds Germany, holds Europe.
Ever since the article in Der Spiegel there has been radio silence from Berlin. The report is probably quite lengthy but from just reading the leaks in Der Spiegel one realises that the new German strategy plan is a watershed. Not since the Second World War has the German Army contemplated a future without belonging to the NATO command structure though not every German will like this idea. Parts of the report are most likely contributions from diplomats and officials, which is illuminating in itself. Some of the forecasts are astute, indeed already have come to pass. The author, Katrin Suder, has worked for McKinsey. Her study’s core message is that Europe cannot rely on the Americans any longer. I don’t agree. For us Brits, having the Americans involved with Europe’s defence has kept the peace for seventy-two years and still does even with Donald watching TV for hours and tweeting all day long.
The paper’s central worry is that a break up of the European Union could bring about the collapse of the economies surrounding Germany and kill off these valuable export markets. The consequent unemployment could lead to civil disorder, even another Weimar crisis. One assumption is that the European Union started to break up during 2008. This is when the Lisbon Treaty did away with each member country’s veto and replaced it with majority votes. Another assumption suggests that NATO started breaking up during 2014. This was the year when member countries were asked to work towards spending 2% of their gnp on defence and 20% of that on new equipment. Germany falls well short of both targets each year.
Now an observer from space might be forgiven for concluding that the high-handed introduction of the Euro – when the German Parliament decided over the heads of the people, who were not given a vote – followed by the present similarly high-handed push for a European Union super-state complete with its own military just might have something to do with both these break up scares. Add on Sigmar Gabriel and Martin Schultz calling for a United States of Europe built around Germany and the Euro and you have the whole picture bar a few details. Martin Schultz openly contemplates expelling the Poles and Hungarians and possibly others who won’t adopt the Euro nor always toe the line. Angela Merkel’s recent speech at Davos sounded a barely coded message urging the European Union members to shed their cocoon and become a united states of Europe. We have a breathing space after the car-crash coalition when Martin Schultz was thrown into the road but it’s going to be a very short one.
The Army planners are convinced that Germany must look after its own security. An obvious start is to concentrate on binding together the inner core of Euro Zone countries, economically, politically and militarily. An outer ring of satellite economies, which includes us Brits, must be kept within the political and economic orbit of the Euro Zone and its political and economic sun, Germany. The scale of Germany’s reliance on these satellite markets is best measured by the lengths to which the German government goes to disguise the size of the country’s huge annual trade surplus – somewhere around 340 billion Euros according to Professor Heiner Flassbeck and Friedericke Spieker in their recent report – helped enormously by the existence of the Euro as a currency inside which hides a very under-valued Deutschmark. According to Heiner Flassbeck one can reasonably argue that German workers pay for this huge surplus through a lower standard of living than if their money floated at its real worth. Control of markets and money, in my view, becomes essential for managing this export machine as it sucks the life from once thriving industries in almost thirty satellite countries.
One perceives a defensive logic behind the European Union’s crushing of the bid for independence from Catalonia and the gaoling of their elected government; likewise the disapproval of protest in Austria, Hungary and Poland over invasions of Arab refugees from Greece to avoid that county’s economic collapse; deep offence when the Poles want to clean up the way their judges appoint each other which they say hasn’t changed since Communist times. These squabbles also shine a torch on the style of recent European Union negotiating tactics over Brexit – namely, blatant interference in our politics on a scale that makes the FSB look like walk on extras; conjuring up fantasy problems only to make impossible demands such as splitting Northern Ireland from Great Britain; combining these with demands for absurd sums of money; meddling in our affairs by hiding behind has-been politicians like Tony Blair and Nick Clegg; veto even the softest trade deal offer and combine this with demands for a second referendum; threats of sanctions against us and anyone who wants to enter a free trade agreement with us after Brexit.
While I fully respect those who wanted to remain, we voted to leave, and now a brain washed fifth column seems hard at work in London, mostly within the circuit of the M 25, but regardless of the wishes of the millions of others who live in that foreign country that starts about thirty miles in any direction from Charing Cross. All talk of divorce payments, lousy trade deals or threats of trade sanctions, demands for second votes, for European Union defence with European Union armed forces, indeed all speeches by the likes of Angela Merkel, Martin Schultz and Sigmar Gabriel should be swallowed carefully and digested from the viewpoint of the German Army’s Strategic Perspective 2040.
Why the rush? We couldn’t influence the European Union’s regime des petits copains nor its ultimate choice of destination during the last fifty years. One needs only look what happened to David Cameron when he tried to persuade the European Union to become less rigid. Angela Merkel showed him the door. Our membership simply provided a sea anchor that slowed down those small though relentless moves away from NATO towards a unified state with its own chain of command and military forces. Dragging out the negotiations on Brexit allows the European Union to prolong the period when we pay although Britain cannot attend let alone influence European Union political summits. All talk of wanting us to stay – swallowed whole by devoted remainers – is just a means to keep the British money hydrant open so that our taxes continue supporting Germany’s satellite export markets. And perhaps extend a little solace for the liberal minded lovers abandoned by the fickle European Union empress across the water. There seems no other plausible explanation for the total incapability of politicians and officials in Whitehall to see what is right under their noses. Reality is not hidden, it’s in full view. The European Union is sprinting towards a finish line set out by the German umpires seventy-four years ago. One prospect still makes them nervous. Brexit success. That’s why the European Union is so desperate to keep us aligned – controlled by them for as long as possible into the future.
Leaving aside the political dichotomy over our future as a global power, commercially there are sound reasons for splitting from the European Union. Technologies that have not been invented are going utterly change the way we work and do business. To make the most of these wonders requires mental agility and our language – after eight thousand years of immigrants – allows this by default. The European Union is run by people who think in French and German, both precise and logical languages, beautiful to talk and read, yet somehow far more rigid when steering the brain than English. Like the Chinese and Vietnamese, we have simplified our grammar, albeit in different ways, just as six-hundred years ago King Sejong of Korea invented a new alphabet to replace Chinese characters - we all have more in common with each other when it comes to logic and mental processes than with our neighbours across the Channel. Believe me, once we are finally out, making simpler more flexible rules, on a clear day we will offer a highly visible alternative to the latest version of a single continental super state, our white cliffs marching along the skyline a mere twenty-one miles from Calais.
As for the other large neighbours, deciding to deploy Baroness Ashton and her European Union action force diplomats as their public face the Germans rashly brushed aside Britain, the USA and Russia, treaty guarantors of Ukraine’s integrity following the dismantling of the latter’s nuclear arsenal – itself one of the truly great achievements following the collapse of the Soviet Union. As a consequence, their attempt to lure Ukraine into the German orbit as a new satellite export market turned sour through misreading Putin. To their surprise, he invaded. They were caught out a second time by America’s reaction. The price for the European Union’s miscalculations was lives lost and ruined as Putin invaded Eastern Ukraine then the Crimea. Russian suspicion and bungling led them to shoot down a civil airliner. Nor is the danger over but Putin’s ground forces although modernised, cannot sustain a hot operation for longer than a matter of weeks. Perhaps Angela Merkel, educated in the communist system of East Germany and a confident Russian speaker, over-estimated her influence on Putin. After all, she has a former German Chancellor deeply involved with a key Russian company, moreover the one who ran for election with the most anti-American campaign in modern German politics. The way for dodging NATO sanctions on Russia was to build a gas pipeline along the Baltic Sea bed from Russia to Germany.
One should not overlook the impact of childhood and education in East Germany. There is an increasingly visible difference between the old Western Germany of the Cold War and the new united Germany today. During spring 1945 East Germans simply exchanged one tyranny for another. Ten years later when she was three months old, Angela Merkel’s father emigrated from the west to Stalinist East Germany; he was appointed pastor of a country church in Brandenburg. She had to join Communist organisations to gain access to better schools, youth activities and eventually university. She was not alone. All girls and boys had to swear some form of allegiance to Marxist ideology and the state if they were to advance in life. But this means the reunited Germany of today has absorbed mind-sets infected with traces of the old Prussian over-confidence and inflexibility, the tunnel vision that led them into two seismic defeats, followed by partition in the first half of the last century.
After the unconditional surrender in 1945 the victorious allies sent many potential opinion formers on re-education courses at places like Wilton Park in Sussex run by the Foreign Office. No such programme was created for former East Germans in 1989 when – as a very close German friend put it, ‘ The Russian mother could no longer feed her child, so she left the baby on our door step, but twenty years earlier than we expected.’ One sees the echoes of that time in the recent election throughout the east of the country where votes surged for Alternative for Deutschland. They look upon themselves as well meaning but are more dangerous than they realise for reasons that are not their fault. Angela Merkel became involved with the democratic movement only shortly before the first reunification election. We have a friend who was a student with Angela Merkel. She says that on the night the Berlin Wall came down, rather than join the celebrations, Angela spent the evening at a coffee house with fellow students discussing a physics problem set by their tutor and that required answers by next morning.
He who defends everything, defends nothing
Frederick the Great
A EUROPEAN UNION OR YET ANOTHER EMPIRE?
According to Der Spiegel, ironically, the Army report speculates that one day the Poles and Baltic states might throw in their lot with Russia. The planners also worry that the Hungarians and the Balkans might do the same in protest against a European Union run by Germany and France. Keep in mind, as an old friend and onetime very senior German intelligence official explained to me one evening over supper at our home, that our membership of the European Union made Franco-German rule more acceptable for the rest. That was not a sufficiently good reason, I observed reasonably, for us British to stay and, besides, millions of us including my wife and I had voted to leave. Yet one could argue that the present situation in Poland suggests the reverse of the planners' fears is happening. Whether it’s through buying gas or investing in Baltic pipelines and Siberian car factories, Germany seems the country with the closest economic relationship with Russia. During his lecture, General Carter mentioned the importance of reducing our dependency on Russia for energy. Far from diplomatic flirting with the Russian bear, Poland and the Baltic states appear glad to have NATO troops and supersonic fighters based in their countries while some in neutral Sweden even think of moving closer to NATO. As for the former Balkan Soviet satellites, RAF Typhoon fighters are based in Romania on rotation and last spring HMS Daring joined exercises in the Black Sea. Though only token deployments, they are welcomed. Are the Eastern Europeans ready to hand over their protection from Russia to Putin’s telephone friend, Angela Merkel?
After reading Der Spiegel and then comparing its report with the reactions of German friends, then comparing the speeches of Sigmar Gabriel and Martin Schultz, Angela Merkel’s speech at Davos, one spots a pattern. Many ordinary Germans are concerned because they know that our departure from the European Union opens a window of opportunity for Merkel and her allies. She declared recently that they must have the courage to finish the business. German friends recognise that the British never had much influence within the European Union other than perhaps to delay the inevitable. Yet they are not at ease, don’t know how they can turn the ship around, confess they envy the British who had the courage to say no thanks, we’re leaving, now, before it’s too late.
Over the last eighteen months but particularly since the German election there have been plenty of signals about the future of the Europe. My own forecast is to expect a gradual disengagement from NATO by the European Union countries led by Germany until eventually that leads to a Russo-German pact draped with a European Union banner. Negotiating such a pact may take longer than Angela Merkel’s latest Chancellorship – if that lasts through this spring. German political leaders may genuinely believe that under their management the new European Union super state ought to be able to pull off a diplomatic coup that brings peace to Eastern Europe including the Baltic and Balkan satellite economies, moreover, a peace deal that removes all threats from Russia. Such a deal could safeguard Germany’s considerable investments in Russia, above all cost far less than another Cold War arms race, or God forbid, another European war. The latter fear makes it much easier to sell a pact to uneasy German voters. Putin, of course, wants to split NATO and part of any deal will include a demand that the European Union lifts all sanctions. As part of a new ‘ peace dividend ’ almost inevitably our troops would swap Paderborn for Salisbury Plain. The Americans would also be asked to depart from the soil of the European Union. The obvious price for this would be that Russia gives back the Kalingrad enclave and Germany regains Konigsberg and whatever is left of the Masurian Lakes in that portion of East Prussia. This might prove a master stroke but it could also be the match that lights the gunpowder. As Digby Jones pointed out the other day, while we focus on smoothing trade in goods and services, the Germans and the European Union seek political gains for which they are prepared to make economic sacrifices. May I suggest that there might be other sacrifices for which they have made no allowance – despite thinking they have.
Lifting sanctions is the high value card and it’s held by Angela Merkel as she pursues rapprochement with Putin. He’s not an easy neighbour and any deal with him will be tricky to police. Along the Russian marches some countries worry, they could pay a steep price for diplomatic and defence incompetence in Brussels - as has Ukraine already. There’s also the danger of tensions to come as remarked by General Sir Nick Carter in his lecture – Estonia, Georgia and Moldavia, Poles, the other Baltics and Balkans, any one of them could be next. As history goes they’ve only just emerged from fifty years of tyranny and still the Russian’s meddle, even in tiny states far away from their frontier like the northern half of Macedonia. Personally I rather doubt that ordinary people throughout the former Warsaw Pact countries would trust their first violent occupiers to save them from the second ones. Poles know reality. From the mass graves in Katyn Forest to the Warsaw Pact maps in Polish for the invasion and occupation of Britain that are on sale in London – the Poles were going to occupy us for the Russians – they have seen what happens when you have no friends within reach. Some of the more privileged have swallowed the European Union lexicon. I have been lectured by the wife of a Polish ambassador that Angela Merkel saves Poland from Russia, that the British like the Swiss have no experience of war. I asked the lady if she knew that my country declared war on the Germans three days after hers was invaded by them on the 1 September 1939. She looked puzzled.
Listening to Sigmar Gabriel one pictures a Continent where the only independent democracy is Switzerland, a target because of its independent law, independent politics, independent trade and independent Swiss Franc. Stealing the Swissie would pay for countless European Union junkets. Since then we have had the Merkel speech in Davos hinting at a European Union foreign policy as a counter to the protectionists – the United States, us and the Commonwealth, and many others – blandly ignoring that she spoke for the largest Zollverein on the planet. Given the latest exposure of the German trade surplus I found her remarks about trade protection plain hypocrisy; but what she said obliquely about Russia ( rather than Donald Trump ) was very revealing, ‘ Since the Roman Empire and the Chinese Wall, we know that simple isolation does not help in securing borders and a good cooperation with neighbours is needed.’ Merkel went on to explain that this includes deals with neighbours such as the European Union-Turkey migration deal that she brokered. Expect further diplomacy towards better relations with Moscow and perhaps eventually leading to that camouflaged pact. Because, should the European Union have its way, all the other ancient states – including our islands if the fully brainwashed remainers have their way as well – would become satellites, controlled through Brussels, but European Union branch plants of the German economic and political sun.
All staff officers have four qualities – intelligence, stupidity, industriousness and laziness. If an officer is intelligent and industrious, he will do quite well. If an officer is intelligent and lazy, he will do the best. If an officer is stupid and lazy, he can do no harm; but if an officer is stupid and industrious, remove him immediately.
A PLACE AS THE SUN
Already we stray into the realms of historical root causes and their unanticipated consequences, what Mervyn King describes as random uncertainties. What do I mean by this? Even with the best intentions human beings make mistakes that later seem obvious. When dealing with the embryo Channel Tunnel – and I took part in the very first exploratory meeting in London with John Ure and Nicko Henderson – very early on it was decided that HMG would be its own security adviser. We thought of every possibility – from rabid rats crawling through the tunnel to the tanks of Group Soviet Forces Germany. It never occurred to anyone that refugees from Afghanistan and Africa would become the biggest security problem at the French end of the tunnel. The origins of the European Union are fascinating and the seeds of the imperial urge but this historical path goes back a long way and is another story. Whether she intended to or not, Angela Merkel is setting up a European Union empire with control over twenty-seven satellite economies and the desire to become a military power. Quite a few people living next door in Switzerland ask themselves, ‘ Haven’t we seen this twice before?’ Nor are they impressed by a creeping lack of democracy in the European Union and its hostility to the political foundation stones of their country in particular. Swiss friends are wary because such a pact with Russia will leave Britain and Norway as the only real NATO members on this side of the Atlantic - unless the Danes, all three Baltic states, the Poles and Hungarians, Czechs and Slovaks, Romanians and Bulgarians prefer to stick with us and the neutrals become worried enough to seek a formal pact with the alliance.
My immediate concern is how senior ministers and their officials in London quite happily advocate placing the Queen’s armed forces under the control of a group of equally mediocre foreign politicians who are steadily falling under the spell of this vision for a new imperial power. This is a strange world for my generation when the blindingly obvious seems beyond the brains of people who had a lot of money spent on their educations. One wonders if they are simpletons, suffering from tunnel vision, worse than lemmings or just plain daft? Such an obviously stupid move would have swift and seismic impacts on all our closest alliances and probably destroy our relations with the United States and the Commonwealth. Perhaps that’s what some politicians and senior officials want? They’re supposed to be reasonably intelligent, so maybe they’re just warped. For a variety of peculiar grudges, plenty of them have been taught at university to loathe America and Britain’s history yet for even weirder reasons to adore the seedy European Union. Let them all come clean along with their fellow travelling Ministers and defend their positions before the voting public. If their Ministers didn’t know what’s happening, they’re not fit for public office. If senior officials recommended the idea, we should follow the sound advice of Clausewitz.
Nor is Donald Trump a reason for a new European Union pact with Russia, he’ll be gone in three years. Putin may not. What we are witnessing – thankfully from our side of the Channel – in my opinion is the latest reflection of a struggle to dominate the Continent that goes back to a secret meeting on the 10 August 1944 at the Maison Rouge Hotel in Strasbourg. This meeting ultimately leads more than seventy years later to the choice before Britons on the 23 June 2016 – and we chose survival and our future as a free country. Our people decided to govern themselves rather than decline as a satellite export market for the German Sun of the European Union. That was our seismic moment – the spirit of Britain was not only alive but kicking. At last after fifty years of defeatist appeasement by politicians and senior officials, the people rebelled peacefully. We are on the way to becoming a great nation once more. Across the Channel, on the other hand, the French seem ready to collaborate a second time, oblige their paymasters, welcomed at the top table simply to soften the elbows of imperial rule from Brussels for Berlin.
An early test will be whether the eventual Berlin/Brussels management decides to take Putin’s side against the Americans and the rump of NATO including ourselves and lift European Union sanctions from Russia. This move would help Putin restore a poorly performing Russian economy. Russian manufacturing relies considerably on the 21% increase in the annual budget for defence, much of it spent on warships, warplanes, missiles and weapons. Well worth taking the time to read the very detailed assessment by Edward Hunter-Christie, Defence Economist at NATO, published by the RUSI that shows how Russia would have little difficulty sustaining this level of expenditure. Public spending was an enviable 36.3% of GDP in Russia during 2015 but the government may not wish to draw or borrow from the Reserve Fund and possible alternatives are to raise taxes or the retirement age. Probably neither will happen until the forthcoming election has been fixed and done. On the brighter side, Russian grain exports rose, thus compensating Siberia in particular for lower exports of raw materials. Russia may have learned to live with sanctions after grabbing Crimea, but they have an impact and will continue to hamper growth. All the more reason for Russia to encourage a German driven European Union to distance itself from the American led NATO. On top of all these troubles Russia has a stagnant population and third world statistics for health and well-being. Some 20 million of its 143 million people live below the poverty line. These problems are potentially the most serious and most urgent but remain underestimated and un-tackled.
Where does Mrs May and her largely remain Cabinet suppose they would stand? Deciding is their job, not General Nick Carter’s. Who advises the Cabinet? Senior officials who are for want of any other description, military virgins. Remember that unlike British politicians and officials, I am not pretending that the European Union is an earthly paradise, but simply reflecting on what was leaked to Der Spiegel, Germany’s equivalent of Time or Newsweek. Would Britain’s leader object to a new Berlin-Moscow pact? Would she side with the United States? Or would her officials persuade her to kow tow towards the European Union capital. Even if she supported the Americans, one doubts if anyone in Berlin or Brussels would give a rodent’s backside.
Ardent remain fans don’t seem the least concerned by the idea that the UK would no longer exist as an independent country, become a province of a new imperial European Union. Our pound gobbled by the Euro Zone’s bottomless pit. Our armed forces part of the European Union super state’s border force – exactly as proposed by some mysterious person speaking for the Treasury, Cabinet, FCO or all three in an article in The Times the other day. The last remnants of our global power scuttled a hundred years after the navy and the little boats saved our Army and many French soldiers from Dunkirk while RAF fighters won the air battle over the beaches. Both services saved our Army and our country but what a national disgrace. The present generation of astonishingly worthless politicians outnumbers the sensible ones by roughly ten to one – they want to inflict a final, complete and irremediable defeat on the British people better than could any enemy. This time not a shot will have been fired. Do we really have to go through another global humiliation before the penny drops, must we wait until a furious voting public start stringing up politicians and officials from lamp posts?
Were we to follow the remain agenda, we would immediately disqualify ourselves from membership of the Five Eyes intelligence group and bring to an end five-hundred years of shared history with the Commonwealth. You have to be obsessed with the European Union dream to even consider such lunatic acts of self-harm. Common sense suggests we should do the complete opposite. We should start turning the Five Eyes into the foundation stones of a new global alliance. We should have a plan to support the Baltic states and Poland through Scandinavia. By that stage the neutrals may well include the European Union, because eventually Europe could consist of two groups of neutrals living as uneasy neighbours with Russia and each other. That tends to suggest that our Army needs to modernise but not as an information technology version of the old armour heavy Rhine Army. We need an Army that is highly airmobile including its armour for deep penetration. We will need more, not less Airborne and Royal Marine Commandos who can arrive fast, hit hard, and swiftly vanish into the night. Our national strategy should focus on global sea power and air power. My hunch is that with a large spoonful of luck, we have until 2030 not 2039 to rebuild this nation, restore its self-belief, and dare I warn, rearm properly, particularly at sea and in the air. We should stop borrowing billions to give them away. We need to spend more money on our defence, a lot more money. Some of us lived through this nightmare the first time, in real life.
I’m not convinced that the average German will sign up for this high risk plan without asking a great many questions. As another German friend remarked dryly, ‘ Not everyone is a fan of Mutti. Now you’re on the way out, she’s in a hurry. That’s why she wanted to make sure you would leave by giving Cameron nothing. She wants to force through these proposed changes on the remaining member states – at least half a dozen of them don’t like her ideas. One of those half-dozen countries may turn out to be Germany.’
An island people just across the sea, free spirits with global influence, their own money, a strong economy and powerful armed forces, won’t be ignored by anyone on the planet. Such a nation gives a great deal of reassurance to small countries anywhere on the planet. Many belong to the Commonwealth or are trading partners. Perhaps we should add France to that list needing moral support as Macron launches his tapestry diplomacy.
At present, by disarming at sea, just as John Nott invited the Argentines to invade the Falklands, we are inviting Russia ( and China ) to take further risks. The first thing Stalin did after the Nazi-Soviet Pact was to occupy the Baltic States and the second was invading Finland. Thankfully, not all Germans regard it as clever to dismantle NATO. As for our recent leadership, Tony Blair was out of his depth and still doesn’t realise his limitations. David Cameron even repeated the mistakes of the 1920s. ( Don’t people read any longer?) Margaret Thatcher learnt the hard way but she always listened and consequently rarely repeated mistakes. The last Prime Minister with a warm relationship with an American President and sound personal knowledge of the Armed Forces, began rebuilding the navy - Jim Callaghan, who had served in the Royal Navy. One morning during spring 1982 in an Ottawa hotel, he told me about the previous Argentine invasion scare. As I rose to take my leave, he said, ‘ Like to do me a favour, Adrian. When you’re on the phone to Downing Street this morning, remind the lady who ordered all those ships she’s sending south.’
Wer die Wahl, hat die Qual
Who has the choice, has the pain.
Old Swiss proverb
We should also learn from the Swiss. They will tell you that everyone knows the best people don’t go in for politics. Long ago they took away all serious decisions from their politicians. You cannot raise or lower taxes here without a referendum. You cannot agree a foreign treaty either without a referendum. That one saved the Swiss from joining the European Union. Also, the Swiss have votes which require a majority of cantons in favour as well as winning the national popular vote. Perhaps in this electronic age, we could just pull down the Houses of Parliament and save ourselves the repair bills. Most of its inmates don’t represent the wishes of their voters anyway. Churchill in his memoirs describes how when a great cause is put before the people all manner of surprising things happen, another lesson from Dunkirk and that first darkest hour. Ignore our failed or frustrated politicians, those wannabe’ diplomats in the media. Let’s copy the Swiss and decide the big things ourselves. That’s the real lesson from the 23 June 2016.
When asked by the House of Commons Select Committee on Public Administration, the first UK National Security Adviser couldn't explain what is meant by strategy, offering instead that of course he understood strategy - there was a box on his annual report that had to be ticked!
THE GERMAN QUESTION
Whoever holds Berlin, holds Germany.
Whoever holds Germany, holds Europe.
A HOLD UP
At the moment for all practical purposes Angela Merkel still calls the shots for Europe although perhaps for not much longer. I suspect the chain of command goes through the EC Commission via Martin Selmayr to Jean-Claude Junker as flak jacket, but also through other politicians, officials and focal points such as the European Parliament. Frau Merkel may yet retire injured, but such is the dread of another election, more likely she will struggle through for another term. Even if she doesn’t, the EC negotiating tactics will not change. Nor will those of Mrs May, at heart a remainer as nowadays is her Chancellor and most of the people around her. My impression is that she’s trying to stay just enough locked into the EC to make a humbling re-entry possible. The remain hope is that Corbin will form a government and they can blame him for grovelling back into the EC with no rebate and membership of the Euro. I found Tony Blair’s fake leaked note to Alistair Campbell courtesy of Austin Mitchell lays out a plausible New Labour approach and conveys all my suspicions about Tony’s low opinion of the voters, including most of those who voted for him. What a shame it was just a wonderful bit of satire! As for Mrs May’s approach, the Conservative Party already rehearse for their starring role in Death Wish Two. We the tax payers are being asked to hand over £ 40 to £ 50 billions for effectively staying in the EC until 2021 with all the red tape but denied anything in return such as passports for our service industries. We thought that was what all this money is for? The EC also want us to keep all their rules and regulations long into the future. Bye bye 21st century competitive economy. People living in the British Isles may be forgiven for wondering what Parliament is for – it certainly doesn’t take much notice of the voters.
Nor should one place too much weight on demands from the CBI. Some twenty years ago as a member of its Council along with 399 other representatives of industry and business, I filled out an opinion poll with lots of questions over whether or not we should join the Euro. (I voted never.) Towards the tail end of this quiz one question went something like, ‘ Do you think the UK will join the Euro at some time in the future?’ This actually meant, ‘ Do you think that one day enough people in British industry will be daft enough to give up control over our nation’s money? ’ Most reasonable people know that with enough silly people gathered in one place, anything is possible, thus instead of ‘ over my dead body ’ the rational answer becomes ‘ possible but not for the foreseeable future’ when allowing for all circumstances. That does not mean you want it to happen. Headlines inevitably declared, ‘ CBI poll reveals that most industry and business chiefs expect Britain eventually will join the Euro. ’
Not all Europe’s politicians and big business leaders are fans of the British people although they all like our money. Most can’t wait for us to leave the EC but they have two major problems: they don’t want to cancel the bribes planned for their own voters within the current EC budget nor dig deep into their own pockets. While they can’t wait for our departure, they fear our becoming a powerful rival just across the narrow seas and potentially with the economic power of another Japan.
The hold up divorce bill serves at least four purposes. The British must cover a share of the budget as though still EC members and for a further five years at the least, thereby indirectly forcing us to invest in the very EC economies that are our direct competitors. At the same time this ensures that we cannot invest that money in our own economy. Forget about our squabbling Parliament obsessed with gender warfare, we tax payers should rebel. A third purpose is that Britain’s tax payers hand over enough money to fill the 67 billion Euro black hole in the EC pension fund. Fourth is to arrange that our payments to the EC never stop with the aim of making Brexit pointless. This raises a few questions.
C’elui qui paie qui demand
Louis Quatorze mais npas Monsieur Barnier
Why should we pay for access to the EEA and Single market when other countries such as America, Japan and China don’t pay and would not pay to trade with Europe? Furthermore, this demand for money before any business deal resembles a form of trade warfare. Should it be dealt with as such, regardless of the under-lying intention? We have resisted following the Poles by sending Berlin a bill for many trillions to cover our costs during and after World Wars One and Two. On the other hand the Poles might yet create a precedent! Or should we instead go for people power and launch a media campaign, urge people to buy British and Commonwealth (welcoming the Americans as honorary members) or from other friendly countries rather than from the increasingly greedy EC member states. The easiest way to ensure success would be to abolish import duties for goods and services other than those imported from the EC. Bear in mind, however, that many Germans did not vote for Angela Merkel, nor agree with her tunnel vision approach to negotiations. She would lose any follow up election so strives to avoid one. Though I don’t think much would change either way - and further down will explain why I draw that conclusion.
Any so-called divorce bill will be paid by you and me, the voters and tax payers, nobody else. We are told by Mrs May that we should fork out huge sums as bribes on behalf of the City of London and big business. Does this actually make sense? As one shrewd member of the public recently remarked, it’s like going to a restaurant and being asked to pay the bill before they’ll show you the menu. He should take over the exit talks.
I sometimes wonder if Mrs May and her Cabinet are simpletons. According to the Chancellor we spend more money on debt servicing than on the Police and Armed Forces combined. That’s a revealing glimpse of his priorities for a start. However, when one adds the cost of the financial crisis and banks’ life rafts, some half a trillion pounds or more was added to the national debt. The bankers and financial wizards bear responsibility for about half the cost of debt servicing. I am all for removing the upper limits on City bonuses after Brexit. I would tax them to make the bankers and financial wheeler dealers pay the divorce bribe on their own behalf. Nobody else other than the EC is going to benefit directly from this monster robbery.
Germany and France keep much of our manufacturing out of the EC and have done for years. It all goes back to when Herr Bangemann was the EC Commissioner for standards for almost a decade, he knew the worth of making your own national standards the ones for the whole Single Market. Since the negotiations began, Monsieur Barnier has not hidden his ambition to keep our goods and services out of the EC. After Brexit, whether or not it’s worthwhile to open a production line for EC standards, becomes a purely commercial decision. Would the sales volume and cash flow make the work and investment, the running costs worthwhile? Meanwhile, handing over ridiculous sums for nothing in return will mean real shortages of money for much more important things – our defence, our health, our infra-structure, education and research. Personally I would rather see £ 60 billions spent on restoring the Royal Navy to viable strength or else for laying down a modern fibre optic and truly national telephone system capable of delivering one gigabyte a second broadband – as the South Koreans have done to lay the foundations for their smart economy. Better still, do both.
Wer die Wahl, hat die Qual
Who has the choice, has the pain. One must ask who will benefit most from our reluctant largesse as tax payers? The third largest exporter in the world, most of whose exports go to the surrounding EU countries is the real winner. Their trade surplus with us is surpassed only by China’s and by a comparative whisker. Yes, Germany, whose federal government enjoyed a budget surplus of 27 billion Euros last year while the country earned a trade surplus eleven times larger. Gravity theories do apply to land powers but have little value for sea powers.
One fully understands ordinary Germans’ dislike of paying for other peoples’ rash spending. Don’t we all. We do exactly that for the Scots, Irish and Welsh, but it’s the price for enjoying one of the oldest and most successful political and currency unions in the World. However, there’s no sensible reason why millions of British tax payers should prop up Germany’s core export markets on the Continent. Absurdly, we have been propping them up for over forty years, paid nearly a half a trillion pounds to subsidise French farmers, deserted regional airports in Spain, all sorts of schemes on the Continent. Just think what that money could have done for our people. Angela Merkel knows perfectly well that demands for larger contributions from the remaining 27 members will simply strengthen those who oppose the new Berlin-Brussels-Paris axis. She also knows her own voters don’t want to pay any more as bribes to weaken the impact of the growing Euro sceptic movements throughout the other twenty-six member states. The Alternative for Deutschland movement in her own backyard is why she struggled to form a government and dare not risk another election. They took her previous majority of seats in the national parliament. British voters should demand Mrs May tells us precisely what she has offered. Meanwhile we should bin this bill for modern Danegeld.
Lifting sanctions is the high value card and it’s held by Angela Merkel as she pursues rapprochement with Putin. He’s not an easy neighbour and any deal with be tricky to police. Along the Russian marches some countries may pay a steep price. Ukraine has already. There’s a threat of more to come – Estonia, Georgia and Moldavia. Poles, Baltics and Balkans know they could be next – as history goes they’ve only just emerged from fifty years of tyranny and still the Russian’s meddle, even in tiny states far away from their frontier like Macedonia. I rather doubt that ordinary people throughout the former Warsaw Pact countries trust their first violent occupiers to save them from the second ones. Poles know reality. Warsaw Pact maps in Polish for the invasion and occupation of Britain are on sale in London – the Poles were going to occupy us for the Russians - and to give an idea of the current official EC lexicon, I have been lectured by the wife of a Polish ambassador that Angela Merkel saves Poland from Russia. More astonishing, young German speaking Irish are employed by the EC Commission to persuade the Swiss that it’s a fine thing to be dependent on a bigger country – so much for Sinn Fein.
BRITANNIA AND THE BEAR
Where do we stand with Russia at the moment? I’m old enough to have known veterans of the epic battles of the Russian convoys. Most of the tanks that saved Moscow from the Germans were made in Britain, delivered by our Merchant Navy, and they didn’t hear much in the way of thanks. After the war no medal was awarded for the Arctic convoy battles. Back in the 1970s my job at the embassy in Bern often took me to Zurich. Phil, our chief security guard in the Consulate-General in Zurich ( yes, we had one in those days and another in Basel ) used to recall the horrors. Phil had been in HMS Mayflower, a corvette, and had been sunk. Phil had been pulled out of the freezing water just in time – a man lasted only minutes in the Arctic Ocean. Ashore in Murmansk he learnt some Russian from the locals. This came in useful years later. One afternoon Phil asked me if I minded walking to the Zurich main station. Not at all, I said. It was a gorgeous winter afternoon. Phil explained that on this day every week he took the mail to Solze where he and Peter, the driver, always had tea there. Phil did the interpreting as Solze didn’t speak much English. One of my greatest regrets is that I didn’t go with them - I was one of his greatest fans – for very Wednesday afternoon Phil and Peter did what the world’s journalists would have given their right arms for. Solze, of course, was Alexander Solzhenitsyn.
The last time the Russian security state was dealt with firmly was by Ted Heath’s government. Today Russia’s secret agencies are allowed open season on the British Isles. There have been murders where suspicion fell on their intelligence services. They run a TV news channel as well as a more modern twin of Tass. Successive governments have done nothing. We have been through all this hassle when Harold Wilson was Prime Minister. Then he lost an election. Alec Douglas Hume became Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary. In 1971 a Russian defector told us in detail all about the sabotage reconnaissance work of the Russian Embassy and Consular staff in Britain. They were touring all over the country picking targets. We expelled 90 diplomats and refused readmission to 15 more – 105 in total. Life became much easier for MI5 and Special Branch. And in those days we did not have Muslim terrorists as well as Irish. I would suggest to Mrs May that rather than more vague words far better a cull of all Russian diplomatic and media activity. I don’t think 20% is enough this time. I would suggest that all Russians with intelligence traces are expelled. That may remove 40% or 50% of the Russian officials and media people resident in the country. If we leave any, they’ll know why. So let’s get rid of the lot and make them start all over again. Give MI5 and the Police a breather. Such a cull will cripple their fake news campaigns because they won’t have people on the ground monitoring our politics and finding ways to meddle with our public opinion. To anyone who thinks this harsh, I say that in 1971 the Russians did retaliate, by expelling 6 British diplomats. I accept that Russia’s propaganda warfare has little impact on British votes at elections and referendums. Personally, I didn’t need any help from Vladimir Putin. I never had a vote in the Harold Wilson referendum because I was overseas as a diplomat. I waited forty-one years to vote leave.
There seems little likelihood of the Russians throwing off the burden of their president and all the costs that come with such regimes. Putin is running for election again in 2018 despite hitting retirement age – but as an oligarch’s fixer once protested to a friend of mine, ‘ Retire! Make business in Russia, nobody retire other than in wooden box.’
THIN GREY, KHAKI AND SKY BLUE LINES
Our armed forces will have the greatest strategic impact when our contribution is largely naval although sometimes with strong air power and specialist land forces. At present we have the core but not much more. The navy urgently needs double or triple its numbers of surface ships and submarines; I do not mean cheapo’ corvettes rather powerful warships that can defend a carrier group against ballistic missiles. Ships and submarines armed with all kinds of robot weapons for defence and attack. Corvettes designed for export are better suited for protecting our waters and fishing grounds around the British Isles and Overseas Territories.
Joining the F 35 project was a smart move that places our aerospace industry among the global leaders and we should build on this collaboration with the Americans. Obstacles with security and commercial secrecy are not impossible to overcome. Several industries have escaped terminal decline because of the F 35 programme but we need to design and build a home grown new generation multi-purpose fighter. Whether it is manned or flown by AI depends on research but without such a project we will lose the ability to make our own fighters. We urgently need a national space programme. All the more important as the European Space Agency countries turn their backs on us, so will Europe’s aircraft industry slowly although I suspect the next aircraft the Germans build will have been designed in France. I strongly urge that our F 35s have the full data-transfer suite that allows them to pass tactical information to fourth generation aircraft such as Typhoons. Although ships, aircraft and UAVs are astronomically expensive, if we want to stay a global player, there’s only one way forward. Invest in the latest technology, stay ahead of the pack. Start to think like a global power.
The Army is going through a tough period. Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and David Cameron sent small and weakly armed forces into impossible situations in distant places. The results were near defeats and certainly no real success. Theresa May continues this kamikaze tradition by sending an armoured infantry battalion to Estonia without any air defence to provide what one distinguished general could only describe as a tethered goat. There is no way of extracting them other than threatening tactical nukes. Our political leaders need to stop listening to diplomats and others with no combat experience. You don’t gamble with loyal young peoples’ lives. Why don’t we tether eight-hundred politicians along the Estonian border with Russia? And they wonder why the three services are short of recruits. I think we need to have another referendum, on defence and international aid. The Prime Minister and her Cabinet are collectively shirking their duty to keep us all safe with strong armed forces.
The Army’s equipment has been neglected so long that its own Brexit moment has arrived. My advice is sit down with a blank sheet of paper, draw up new ways of reaching the battlefield and fighting hot wars, then work out a strategy that the other two services can fully support. I have few suggestions but they might help. An army is manpower intensive and a professional one pay expensive. Design an army with a professional core that has much larger volunteer reserves. The British Army is fifty years out of date. Take over all troop carrying helicopters from the RAF. The two airmobile divisions in Vietnam had four-hundred-and fifty helicopters each. Make 16 Air Assault Brigade the template for small airmobile divisions. Helicopters are expensive. Design an aircraft similar to a crop sprayer bred from a Pilatus Porter for close support off short runways. When you run out of fresh ideas, read some of my old articles for the RUSI about airborne, airmobile and armoured warfare then have a look at Ivan Barr’s design for a 17 tons tank that was fully air-portable and very fast once on the ground. Apply technology such as drones and AI to all forms of support fire including AAA and SAMs. Don’t buy another over heavy tank or APC, invent a new way for infantry to move around the battlefield. Take cyber warfare seriously but don’t let some *remf in the Cabinet Office tell you it’s more important than your fighting skills. Let the Germans, Poles and Ukrainians look after their frontiers with Russia, the dangerous threats to us will come from the air and sea.
This is the sort of outside the box thinking the National Security Adviser should be doing, supporting the Armed Services and intelligence agencies, supporting HM Diplomatic Service, not fighting them on behalf of some *remf in the Treasury.
A LITTLE HISTORY GIVES SHARPER PERSPECTIVE
In late August 1963 the Beetles were topping the record charts. I joined the Commonwealth Relations Office, on a Monday. On Wednesday I was rewarded with a pay rise for my birthday. ( We did that sort of thing in those days.) By Friday I had become part of the new Her Majesty's Diplomatic Service also known as the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Our PUS became the Permanent Under Secretary of the new Service but everyone concluded we were victims of a hostile take over by the Foreign Office.
Eight months earlier General de Gaulle had pronounced his ' Non ' regarding Britain's joining the original EC. This was another major blow for a strategic plan designed by the Foreign Office. Their record was pretty awful. Almost until the last moment, the FO had pursued a policy of appeasement with Hitler and the other dictators, a policy which led to the occupation of most of Europe and the loss of allies, markets, money, not to mention huge diplomatic and intelligence networks built up over five-hundred years. Churchill himself took over strategic foreign policy and nurtured the special relationship until Pearl Harbour enabled Roosevelt to cast aside isolation and lead the allied war effort. Next came the Suez Crisis where Eisenhower demanded that Britain and France cease their military action against Egypt. Caught like startled rabbits against a background of industrial strife and aging industrial plant the FO concluded that only membership of the new Common Market of European countries would force Britain's industry and unions to join the modern world. Never mind the belief in our country and the brains of its youth that led Winston Churchill to found a new college bearing his name at Cambridge and devoted to the sciences. The FO preached a strategy of tail between the legs retreat from our history as a world power. They believed their duty was to manage inevitable decline.
The CRO as it was known for short, steered our diplomatic relations with the Commonwealth, not only the great dominions of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and finally India and Pakistan, many other newly independent nations but also all those countries which had not yet become independent. Our job was to keep our relationships close with the all the countries which had recently belonged to the British Empire. Since the war Britain's foreign policy had been dominated by three main themes - economic recovery from the cost of the war, massive rearmament including nuclear weapons since the Korean War, bringing our former colonies to independence with parliamentary democracies and independent judiciaries backed by a targeted aid budget. The Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan, set the tone with his famous ' wind of change ' speech to the Parliament in Cape Town about Africa as nation after nation peacefully became self-governing. Our task was far from easy but the potentially spectacular rewards were worth the struggle. Our opponents were defeatist British politicians and diplomats, Soviet Russia and Communist China, the worst of British banking and industry, corrupt politicians and officials in the newly independent countries - and in that order. On the other hand, we were led by people who knew well the people and leaders of the countries where they served and our own leaders were uniquely experienced men and women. Straight from the Army and placed in the defence and intelligence department, my own boss was George Price, a retired Royal Engineers general who as a colonel had been the assistant to General Pug Ismay, Winston Churchill's Military Assistant throughout World War Two. George and Louis Mountbatten, Chief of the Defence Staff, had been friends for nearly twenty-five years. We young people had a sense of mission, that what we did counted, there was no doubt that we were changing the world for the better for the peoples of our former colonies and by doing so, helping nearly fifty new UN members to belong among the democracies.
The FO take over was justified by accusing the CRO of running a separate foreign policy. The lexicon soon became that the Commonwealth had turned its back on Britain and were importing manufactured goods from our rivals in America, Japan and Europe - no mention was made that perhaps the unreliability of British industry at that time had something to do with seeking alternative suppliers. During the 1950s we ran a surplus on manufactured goods worth 10% of GNP. That advantage was lost to the recovering industries of Europe and Japan through poor management coupled with poor labour relations and poor road infrastructure. The railways were extensive and reliable for freight - until Dr Beeching closed down all the small branch lines that allowed parcels to arrive within hours by train. Britain's first motorway was only completed in 1968.
A year later de Gaulle said ' non ' again. Five years later Prime Minister Ted Heath managed to join the Common Market but Harold Wilson took much of the credit. Heath had lost an election after sheer industrial chaos. None of them expected that within five years a woman would lead the Conservative Party, win the election, go on to win two more and drag the British economy into the modern age. They were all too wet as Margaret Thatcher would occasionally let slip.
LIFE AFTER LIBERATION - LEARN FROM THE SWISS
Forget arrangements on the lines of the one the Swiss negotiated. The original agreement drawn up by Paul Jolles in 1972 was very good but Paul was one of the outstanding diplomats of the 1970s from any country. Paul also negotiated our exit from EFTA. Switzerland went on to negotiate a series of bilateral agreements with the EC member states of that time. Some 64% of Swiss trade is with the modern EC. About one third of Swiss trade is with Germany alone thus some kind of arrangement is important. Today the Swiss are constantly nagged by the EC Commission and threatened with dire consequences if they don't fall into line with EC rules on trade, taxes, refugees, you name it, in force within the Single Market by implementing rulings from the European Court of Justice. Most of the Swiss regard this idea as creeping colonisation by the EC. Today the EC Commission has a fan club among Switzerland's left of centre politicians and some of the senior diplomats and officials while most Swiss want to keep their direct democracy which allows even EC regulations to be questioned.
Swiss friends tell us that they were so worried about direction in which the EC was heading, becoming more rigid by the day, indeed almost totalitarian, that when they heard the news that we had voted for Brexit, they threw parties to celebrate.
Brexit will electrify the British people. Sudden release from the dead weight of the EC albatross around our necks will unleash all sorts of imaginative and inventive forces. We might even rediscover our old sense of community. Once again we can make our own rules. I would like to see a space industry strategy and a rejuvenation of shipping and shipbuilding through lower taxes and ultra modern designs and technology.
There is no point voting to leave the EU only to let Brussels sneak in through the back door. We should make a clean break. Let's stick to WTO rules and treat the EC as a single market from day one. Just as we do the United States. Should the EC seek tariff free trade with us, that's fine so long as there is no question of payments to the EC budget nor accepting EU regulations in our economy. Obviously any tariffs would apply throughout the Single Market and become reciprocal. Most WTO tariffs are low single figures but some products, luxury cars for example, face around 10% duty. Imports of cars alone would earn the Treasury several billions a year.
For a UK global diplomatic and export plan........an island lives and prospers on sea power.........just click the ships
With lower taxes on shipping the Merchant Navy grows - as owners recognise the increasing risks at sea and return to the red duster.
Photo Royal Navy
A GREAT DAY FOR THE ROYAL NAVY
The Queen with the Duke of Edinburgh, Lord High Admiral, and Admiral Sir George Zambellas, admiring the Royal Navy's latest aircraft carrier - HMS Queen Elizabeth - up in Rosyth on the 4 July.
The previous Queen Elizabeth was also a trail blazer, built as a fast oil-fired battleship armed with eight fifteen inch guns, she set a new benchmark for big gun ships and was to serve in two world wars. During the first with the Grand Fleet as Admiral Beatty's flag ship and during the second in the Mediterranean and Far East.
The new HMS Queen Elizabeth weighs in at 72,100 short tons - 65,000 imperial tons - and will carry an air strike group with stealth fighters able to reach targets hundreds of miles away. Her sister ship, HMS Prince of Wales, will take her place in the huge assembly dock now the Queen Elizabeth has taken to the water for her sea trials.
' How big did you say? '
' The one bearing your name is the larger one, Maam.'
The Queen concentrates as the bottle of Islay single malt hits grey steel.
Alongside the new carrier is HMS Illustrious, last of the ' through deck cruisers ' known by the navy as ' see through carriers ' which kept alive carrier jet fighter operations with the Sea Harrier jump jets. Otherwise, John Nott's suicidal naval cuts would have reduced the Royal Navy to a third rate naval power. Harrier carriers made possible liberation of the Falkland Islands.
The jet fighter on the ski ramp of HMS Elizabeth is a mock up but gives a very clear idea of the size of the flight deck. The Royal Navy will fight to ensure that both new aircraft carriers join the fleet. I feel confident the RN and its many staunch fans will win that fight. Everyone who thinks we should have a much stronger navy needs to make their voice heard. This is a job for a single massive public voice. The coming political battle will involve public pressure to double the number of destroyers, frigates and submarines. Ideally the Royal Navy could find plenty of work for a third new carrier and a four-fold increase in surface ships and submarines but let's take things a step at a time. First the British public have to be educated that they live on an island that's becoming as over-crowded as Japan.
Then compare the size of their navy with ours.
All the same, truly, a great day for the Royal Navy ( not to mention Gordon Brown ) and all the ship yard workers, the thousands of skilled people who delivered her on time for the Queen.
COMMONWEALTH'S GRANDMAMA INVITES EUROPE'S MUTTI TO TEA
DAVE AND ANGE
Oh dear, Mutti has bitten another partner but this time the victim survived. Dave had an easy decision but he made heavy weather of it - as usual. There was a landslide election victory staring him in the face. The Tories and UKIP had 35% and 10-15% of the vote together. The only negotiation with the EC that made sense was British exit. That would given the ' conservative vote ' a boost up to 55% of the voters, possibly 60% with the prospect of freedom from the EC shackles around our commercial ankles.
Dave bungled his negotiations with Mutti, called a referendum so we could decide, then threatened us voters with project fear, roping in everyone from Tony Blair to the American President.
He lost and now Theresa May is trying to keep us in the EC by pretending she's making a mess of leaving.
Far from facing ruin, freed from Europe's sheet anchor, Britain's economy will grow much faster. We should become a another Japan anchored off the Continent.
The price is worth paying - much larger armed forces, particularly the Royal Navy, and restoration of the FCO to its former strength.
Forget our useless politicians.
Let's get started.
Start buying British.