May 11, 2015

The Great British Balkanisation

Posted in Irish Independent · 56 comments ·
Share 

Ronnie Quinn is a big, broad shouldered man, with a great story. Not only is he a hurling fanatic and president of the Hurling Club of Argentina, he was – as a bilingual Irish Argentinean conscript in the Argentine army – the “unofficial” translator for the Argentinean surrender to the British army at the end of the Malvinas/Falklands war. He has written an excellent book about his war experiences.

The hurling club was actually founded in 1922 by Irish immigrants. Amazingly, in the 1930s there were lots of clubs here with names like Wanderers, La Plata Gaels, Saint Patrick’s Mercedes, Fahy Boys, St Paul’s, Irish Argentines, New Lads, Santos Lugares and Club Nacional.

The game almost died out in the following decades – replaced by hockey and rugby – but as a result of hard work by the likes of Ronnie, it is now growing again, so much so that earlier this week I met a young Waterford farmer, John Kelly, farming in Uruguay, who regularly comes over to Buenos Aires with his “sticks”. He told me that because the Argentineans are so good at hockey, that they are master ground hurlers and could give anyone in Ireland a run for their money.

This was proved in the recent GAA World games in Abu Dhabi where Argentina beat South Africa, Middle East and Galicia (twice) to win the cup for teams without Irish-born players.

What was remarkable is that they only took up the sport a couple of months previous to the competition, when invited to the tournament. All of the players are based at one club, Ronnie’s Hurling Club. To come up against the likes of Galicia, which has had 8-10 club teams on the go for a long time, and beat them, is exceptional.

We are sitting talking about the resurgence of the GAA in Argentina and the results of the British election. This is the odd thing about Argentina; despite the war and the on-going rivalry in football, the people are concerned about what is going on in Britain and the results of the UK elections are front-page news here.

The potential break-up of the UK isn’t just academic here in Argentina, there is still the Falklands to think about and the Argentinians genuinely believe the islands are theirs and it is only a matter of time before they get them back. The fact that there may well be lots of oil under the Falklands, obviously keeps the issue live.

But what is going to happen now to the UK?

The only logical conclusion that one can draw from the election is that the process of creating federal Britain is the only option – and even this mightn’t be sufficient. Welcome to the Balkanisation of Britain.
The two big nations, the Serbs and the Croats of the UK – the English and Scots – are now politically on polar opposite paths.

Scotland is governed by an anti-British, pro-European party that wants to break from London, while England is governed by an anti-European, pro-British party that wants to break from Europe.

At the moment the Scots have lots of seats and no power and this will obviously amplify their feeling of impotence being ruled by English Conservatives who have absolutely no legitimacy in Scotland. This lack of power over their own affairs will further strengthen their desire for another referendum. The longer they have all the seats and no power, the more they can consolidate.

Because they are pro-European an English referendum on EU membership will further inflame Scottish passions.
However, David Cameron is a Eurosceptic and so too is his party. The majority of English people are also Eurosceptic and the notion that Labour is pro-European is not particularly convincing. The history of the Labour party with regards to Europe is a complicated one. Only Tony Blair could be described as being a committed European, in favour of closer and closer ties to the EU. He is so politically toxic now, that any link of the Blair years will be enough to make the new Labour leader take flight. The British Left have never been convinced by the EU, and as a result, I am not too sure that it will campaign vigorously for Europe if it implies allying itself with British big business to do so.

It is also easy to forget that the first past the post system sends out strange messages about the underlying strength of certain movements. Take Ukip for example. Although the party got only one seat, an enormous 3.9 million voted for Ukip. That’s bigger than the entire population of Wales! They all want out of the EU.
The question therefore is whether Cameron wants to save the union which means staying with Europe and bribing the Scots with federalism? Or whether he wants to lead Britain out of Europe and in so doing, making the Conservatives the permanent party of government in England?

He might just go for the latter. He is committed to the referendum now, so everything is in play.
Let’s imagine that the referendum is held and won by the anti-European side. This would trigger an interesting chain of events. The SNP wedded to independence would be forced to go for a new referendum. Otherwise the Scots’ choice is to be ruled for perpetuity by Little Englanders.

I am sure Cameron would go for some federal solution where the Scots have hugely devolved powers and almost everything bar their own army. But the resurgent English might not wear that, after all what’s in it for England to continue bankrolling a sulking Scotland?

It is not hard to see the whole thing getting very messy.

Where does all this leave us? Economically a political upheaval in the UK will have a clear commercial effect on us. The UK is still by far our biggest trading partner. Over 30 per cent of all our imports come from the UK. What would happen to sterling during this period? Would it weaken? Probably, driving down the cost of imports but making it more difficult for Irish exporters to the UK – our 2nd biggest export market. Would there be capital flight out of or into the new truncated UK? My sense is that capital would flow in, because the UK would market itself as a freewheeling trading nation – a big Singapore – off the coast of Europe.
Politically, what would the breakaway for Scotland mean for Northern Ireland? Could it remain within a truncated union indefinitely? If Scotland goes, where does it end?

It has a funny ring to it doesn’t it. Imagine the truncated United Kingdom of England, Wales, Northern Ireland, and . . . Las Malvinas.

Stranger things have happened – like the revival of hurling in Buenos Aires!


  1. Danny

    I’d say the SNP are more anti-English than anti-British and the conservatives are not anti-European, they are anti-EU. There is a big difference. It should also be noted that the clean sweep by the SNP was achieved with only 50% of the vote.

    However, we are certainly set for interesting times and hopefully the UK/EU “renegotiations” will lead to a stronger EU for all.

    • woodsey

      That’s sensible, Danny. The idea that Britain will walk away from its biggest trading partner is as farcical as the nonsense surrounding Scottish independence. In the end, money talks and peoples’ natural greed listens. Any changes to the Lisbon Treaty will have to be put to all of the EU and the Conservatives know how long that takes. 2017? Possibly 2022 … if ever?!

  2. If proportional representation was introduced in the UK, UKIP wouldn’t do as well as people might think from them getting 4 million votes this time around – apart from possibly the first time a proportional representation-based election was held.

    After people became more used to such a system, they’d begin giving second preferences to the Greens, Independents, Plaid Cymru etc. – once they realized they had made a mistake in electing any UKIP nutters in the first place. Having said all that, I don’t think proportional representation will ever be introduced in (what remains of) the UK.

    I didn’t mention the SNP as a second prefence because Scotland is on its way out of the Union. It’s absolutely ridiculous that the SNP won almost every seat in Scotland and now 56 MPs are on flights this morning to London – a place they don’t even want to go – a place that has no interest in them and a place where they have no power despite having a huge mandate from the majority of the people in their part of the island.

    As posters on here might know, I’m not a great nationalist but I do believe that people should have control over the regions they live in, no matter what flag it flies under. However, the Scottish want independence and they are going to get it. Best of luck to them because London doesn’t care about them. In fact, in refrence to federality – the North of England should follow the Scottish philosopy (set up a ‘Northern Party’?) because London doesn’t care about the North either. A Northern Party would be the death of the Labour Party. As I commented on here a few times – what clown ever told Ed Miliband he was a ‘leader’? Haha what a joke.

    • kinsele2

      Don’t fully understand your logic here, wasn’t there a referendum offering independence less than a year ago where the Scottish said pretty emphatically No? How do you take this to mean they want independence. Looks to me they voted to remain in the UK, with stronger self-governance which they think the SNP likeliest to achieve.

      Interesting as to where do you stop with referendums, there was one last year but we won’t take that result as valid so lets have another one. Curious to know who drives this, and if the result had of been Yes would there have been any talk of another one so soon.

      And if the next one returns also No, is there immediately talk of another one because someone thinks really “the Scottish want independence” and it’s just a matter of time. Will the EU referendum take the same course too.

      Seems to be a real crisis in the UK as to what exactly it is today.

      • I didn’t give a timeline and I wouldn’t suggest having another one now. In fact I wouldn’t suggest anything to the Scottish people – it’s none of my business. But if you want me to speculate I’d say they be gone from the UK in ten years from now but probably not five. Five years of impotence in Westminster while life goes on in Scotland should ‘do for them’.

        You are right about a a crisis in the UK which is why change is needed. The North needs to push for its rights as well.

        • Yes I also meant to comment on the use of the word ‘emphatically’. No logic there then.

          • kinsele2

            I meant pretty emphatically compared to what the result was expected to be based on the polls leading up to it, the gap was larger than expected. Fair point though, and to clarify if I was voting I would likely have been on the yes side.

            My point really is though how do you go about governing something like this. There may be a second referendum and it may well be a yes result. Equally then there might be another one 5 years on from that when there may be a second no result.

            So where does something like that end? For any kind of stability you would imagine after a yes vote a line would have to be drawn, but then does that treat the no side fairly?

          • It’s highly unlikely there would be a clamour for another referendum AFTER a Yes vote. But if the Scots make such a bad job of running themselves then someone might bring it up and if there’s enough support for it then sure, why not? – that’s democracy after all isn’t it? It sounds unlikely though – every now and then you get people in Ireland saying ‘we shouldn’t have left the UK, we should join back’ – not going to happen though is it? The point is people are usually better when they have self-determination. It’s not like a massive fence is going to be erected on the Scottish – English border – relations would (should) still be friendly, cooperative and mutually benefical. That’s not exactly the case right now.

      • Antaine

        Emphatically voted No? What was it 90-10%? I recall it being 55-45% and this after a sustained campaign of lies from all the Establishment Parties of the UK.
        I wonder what the result would be now?

    • bluegalway

      If the UK had PR then UKIP would have about 80 MPs, the Greens about 20 and the LibDems about 40 MPs. The Tories would still be the biggest party.
      Interestingly, the SNP would have about 28 MPs – only half of its current level, with the rest of the 31 MPs divided between Labour, the LibDems and the Tories. It owuld much more accurately – and fairly – represent the make-up of the Scottish electorate.
      You can’t harp on about how unfair the FPP electoral system is one minute, and then say the SNP are carrying forward the whole of Scotland the next.
      As for UKIP, its most significant achievement was its silver medal count: the party came second in 120 seats, both Labour (44) and Tory (76). The party can now campaign as the most viable local opposition in those seats, looking to win over a broader coalition of voters. angry with the government.
      And if UKIP are ‘nutters’, then what does that make Canada and Australia, which both have the same immigration policies that UKIP are proposing?

      • As mentioned, people’s voting patterns would not stay the same were proportional representation to be introduced in the UK. Translating the recent election voting percentages directly to number of seats that ‘would’ have been won is illustrative but not a true reflection of how many ‘actual’ seats UKIP or any other party would probably win under proportional representation. Note, I said ‘probably’ because unless you can observe a parallel universe where PR exist in the UK, then there’s no way of knowing, without actually doing it.

        • PS. I never ‘harped on’ about FPP being unfair. What IS definitely unfair is Scotland being ruled from London and having to send MPs to there.

          • Danny

            The UK is ‘ruled’ from London. Scotland is part of the UK – what is unfair about that. The chance of full independence was rejected.

            A Scottish parliament has been established and it does seem that they will gain extra powers under the new tory government. Wales and N.I. have similar set ups.

    • “Nutters” is the type of description given by people who have no understanding to those they do not understand.

      UKIP makes perfect sense to me Adam. Devolution is the name of the game for survival and serenity.

      All require there own currency free of the central banks. Without removal of the money controllers all other maneuvers are fruitless and futile. Money is a universal utility and should be owned by no one.

      Bitcoin backed by gold may be the answer.
      You Can Now Pay Your Bills in Gold with Bitgold
      Almost everyone agrees that gold is valuable. Yet few have access to it, or can use it as money.

      Bitgold, a new gold storage and transfer service, wants to change that. It’s a secure mobile payment service that enables users to pay their bills in gold.

      It’s too early to say whether it will be a game-changer. But Louis James applauds their ambition.”"

      http://www.caseyresearch.com/articles/countries-are-stockpiling-gold-to-prepare-for-the-death-of-fiat-money

      Meanwhile all governments lie through clenched teeth

      “”Seymour Hersh won the Pulitzer Prize for exposing the My Lai massacre in Vietnam, and broke the Abu Ghraib story. He just broke what looks like an even bigger story.

      Hersh says that the Obama administration lied about Osama Bin Laden’s death. He claims that Pakistan had been holding Bin Laden as a prisoner since 2006, and that the Pakistani government choreographed Bin Laden’s killing. NBC News reports they’ve been pursuing similar leads.

      Hersh concludes: “High-level lying nevertheless remains the modus operandi of US policy, along with secret prisons, drone attacks, Special Forces night raids, bypassing the chain of command, and cutting out those who might say no.”

      • “Nutters” is the type of description given by people who have no understanding to those they do not understand.

        You got me Tony – I don’t understand it, you’re right. Your logic in that sentence has prevailed over all.

      • Why gold by the founders of Bitgold

        “As we advance the digital age of global cooperation, individuals and communities increasingly require globally recognizable and reliable mediums for savings and trade. BitGold’s mission is to provide global access to gold for secure savings and transactions, making an extraordinary element useful and empowering again.

        Technology and progress are essentially a history of experiments with elements, and of experiments in cooperation.

        At BitGold we believe that cooperation under a unit of elemental-measurement promotes a more equitable distribution of wealth and opportunity, and aligns prosperity within the natural limits of our planet. In an age of rapid change and limited opportunities for secure savings, we contend that elemental gold can empower individuals and foster cooperation.

        By reexamining the elemental properties of gold, it becomes clear that gold provides a globally neutral, natural unit of account in relation to all other elements required by humans. The scientific properties of gold in our natural and human systems reconciled independently over thousands of years. We ask you to consider an alternative view of gold’s usefulness, one absent the emotive politics of money, fear and greed.

        Elements, Oxygen, Time

        Everything known to exist in the universe, on this planet, and even life itself can be broken down to 92 naturally-occurring elements, the basic building blocks of everything.

        The elements, or combinations of elements (compounds) most desired by humans become known as natural resources, or natural resource commodities. All industry on planet earth, from farming to manufacturing to technology is based on the consumption of these resources; agricultural, fishing and forestry products, hydrocarbon energy sources, and metals.

        Oxygen is the third most abundant element and enables life, but also reacts with many of the compounds we require, eventually destroying these resources through cycles. Over time, oxygen causes nearly every commodity to rot, tarnish, rust, or oxidize, establishing an expiration date or finite life for most of the things we consume.

        The finite life of most compounds means that we cannot save what we need to survive beyond a limited period of time.

        Gold – The Rarest, Immortal Commodity

        Of the 92 naturally occurring elements, eight are known as the “noble metals”. The elemental particles making up these eight elements are organized in a manner that makes them unreactive with air, or “immortal” as pure elements. Put differently, the oxygen, carbon dioxide, and gases that make up our air have no tarnishing effect on these elements through the life cycles of humans.

        Of the eight noble metals, only four became broadly employed as commodities: gold, silver, platinum, and palladium. Of the four, gold is the rarest on earth and visually discernible due to its color and purity.

        In day to day life gold is rarely preferred over other basic elements or immediately necessary commodities. Grains are more useful as food, energy sources for heat and transport, industrial metals for shelter, tools, and to distribute electricity and data.

        None of these daily commodities last over long periods of time in their most useful form however; they are costly to store, costly to transport, or costly to reconfigure if they can be repurposed.

        These perishable compounds and commodities do not last throughout the life of an individual either; a younger, physically able person cannot save the essential commodity surpluses for later and less able years.

        Therefore, the storage and movement of the basic elements we need requires cooperation, and gold has been an important part of this cooperation throughout history. We’ll explain how, but first we need to know a little about its cost and value.

        Opportunity cost and gold

        Because gold is substantially rarer than the elements and compounds we need to survive, producing gold requires humans to forego production of the more immediately necessary or desired elements or resources.

        As an example of this opportunity cost, humans dig up a ton of average copper-containing rock, and spend all the labor and energy required to break it down, we are able to extract 5,000 grams of copper. For this same effort we would only get 1 gram of gold from a ton of average gold-containing rock.

        Compared to our food and energy resources, we have to exhaust a lot more of these other resources in order to produce gold, all depending on the relative abundance of elements.

        For this reason gold as an element remains cost-proportional to all other basic resources over time, even if all short term values fluctuate depending on local conditions or immediate needs.

        Finding value in a unique element

        Because it requires substantial effort to produce gold, and that we forego alternate uses of near term energy, labor and food to produce it, there must be important uses for it.

        Relative usefulness is defined by the laws of physics, not subjective economics, and gold’s properties and usefulness are significant. Gold doesn’t decay or tarnish in our atmosphere, it conducts energy over long periods of time without breaking down, its density and malleability enable very small amounts of gold to be extremely useful in thin layers or small spaces, and its noble metal properties mean that it doesn’t react with most other elements, meaning that it’s purity, luster and radiance are effortlessly maintained through millennia.

        These elemental properties define gold’s usefulness as a commodity, a commodity whose cost will always remain proportional to the cost of other elements due to the earth’s relative endowment.

        These are the properties we found most useful during our experiments with the elements, but we learned an even greater use in our experiments with cooperation.

        Finding value in an element that transcends time with little cost or effort

        Cooperation and sharing enable us to produce more for everyone than we could ever achieve individually. Over time this cooperation is essential, otherwise young and old would have no way to survive; there is no way to produce for yourself when young, and no way store essential commodities for an old age. This is the basis of the formation of community.

        The development of cooperation and trust requires a system of accounting for each community’s production. It is wasteful, if not impossible, to bring all perishable goods to one place at one time for trade, and with no ability to redistribute or save a surplus.

        The function of community through sharing therefore requires one of two systems: 1- a complex system of remembering debts and favors, or 2- (preferably) a lasting-intermediate commodity that can be exchanged over and over with very little cost, to be possessed in the interim of exchanges of the essential, immediately useful, but quickly decaying commodities.

        Over thousands of years of experiments, civilizations consistently resolved that gold was the most useful element to possess and trade as an accepted form of value.

        Gold’s elemental properties afford this usefulness, as gold only needs to be produced once but is extremely efficient over time, it can be exchanged perpetually with very little cost compared to the cooperative value it brings.

        Gold was first a natural resource desired for its elemental properties and usefulness, but one that eventually achieved the more important role of enabling widespread cooperation.

        Gold is an elemental unit of account and elemental store of value; in the past, present and future

        Gold’s value as an elemental unit of account and store of value is both scientific and natural, as opposed to economic.

        Interestingly, gold’s ascension occurred before civilizations had the advanced scientific knowledge of its elemental properties. Humans productively optimized their experiments in cooperation by using gold as the basis for measuring value.

        While systems of money and debt come and go, gold will always remain an extraordinary element

        Gold’s relationship to other natural resources is bound by the limits of our shared planet. All industry originates in natural systems, and any cooperative economic system should hold a unit of account anchored in these natural systems. Gold provides a pure, elemental measurement.

        As we advance the digital age of global cooperation, individuals and communities will increasingly require globally relevant, globally accepted intermediate-commodities for savings and trade.

        At BitGold, we advance cooperation among diverse communities by providing global access to gold; easily acquired, securely stored, global payments.”

        It puts the oldest form of money in existence into the hand of technology and enables people to bypass the banking system with universally owned money.

        Perfect!!! No central bankers need apply.

  3. Colm MacDonncha

    I remember teaching Irish at Conradh na Gaeilge to a chap called Santiago Boland from Buenos Aires…he has a restaurant in the city that specialises in Irish themed food using Argentinian Beef.He was over in Ireland checking out on his ancestors who he believed had come from the Limerick area. I’ve put Buenos Aires on our ‘must visit’ list when the kids are a little older….enjoying your posts from the River Plate.

  4. From the article above:

    “About the only piece of commentary from the election campaign that felt truly prescient last night was Paul Mason’s analysis of the fragmentation of the UK into three distinct political geographies”

    Three new tribes of voters will dominate this election:

    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/mar/29/three-new-tribes-of-voters-will-dominate-this-election

    • cooldude

      Here is a piece of analysis of the reelection of David Cameron you might enjoy Adam. http://chrisspivey.org/whose-first/

    • Deco

      There is a certain amount of truth there. Three different business models.

      Advice to the Scots – it you want to run a Scandinavian system of provision, don’t run the state system like is happening currently in Dublin 2. Ireland’s oversized, state with an obsession with new levies for new quangos is not the way to go. You will need to have the consent of the governed.

      The Irish PAYE system, with large amounts of money going to speculators holding Anglo Bonds, and the media refusing to name the speculators because some of them are buying media advertising space, will simply NOT work.

      Scandi-Scotland needs to go the entire Danish approach to running the state. Not the Irish approach (FAS, the CRC, never ending recycling programs of RTE “stars” etc..).

  5. Pat Flannery

    David writes: “The UK is still by far our biggest trading partner. Over 30 per cent of all our imports come from the UK.”

    That should read “through” not “from” the UK.

    When (not if) England leaves the EU hopefully much of the products that now come “through” the UK will come directly to Ireland from their various countries of origin. Perhaps the Irish will start growing some “huevos” (to use an Argentinian expression) and tell product suppliers around the world that the Irish Republic is not part of the UK and needs its own agency distributor.

    Now every product distributor in the UK gets an agency for Ireland as well as the UK and Irish writers like David McWilliams treat deliveries “through” those distributors as “from” the UK.

    Whatever about Irish writers shame on Irish businessmen for allowing English businessmen to act as middlemen between Ireland and the rest of the world. But we could start with the Irish writers who keep misleading Irish businessmen with false statistics like “Over 30 per cent of all our imports come from the UK.”

  6. coldblow

    I don’t think Cameron or the other Conservative leaders want to leave the EU. In fact, I’d be amazed if they did. Before the election, when it seemed impossible for them to ever regain power with an overall majority there seemed to be strong hints (eg from ex Minister Portillo) that they would be happy to see Scotland leave the union as that would help their electoral chances. Now Cameron is stuck with a referendum he never thought he’d have to fight, seeing as he never anticipated an outright majority, so he could promise the stars without having to deliver. Now he has to ensure that it is won for the EU. That really shouldn’t be too difficult. And if disaster strikes and the people reject Europe there will be another one (and another one) until they change their minds. Then, and only then, will it be put to bed for the next generation. But it won’t come to that as Dave is good at wriggling out of things. I don’t think there are that many ‘Little Englanders’ out there and I’d guess that their number is inflated, just like the number of supposedly ‘obese’.

    It isn’t just the Balkanization of Britain but of the whole of Europe, although Germany and France won’t go down this path themselves. What was that sign I used to read driving west along the Galway road, after crossing the Shannon. Welcome to Ireland West. What the hell is that? I used to ask myself (and anyone else in the car). I think it is one of these European regions and has about as much a rooted sense of place and history as the French départements (which I understand were deliberately laid out for that very reason).

    I think the EU has been a disaster for Ireland. What are the benefits of membership supposed to be again?

  7. mogrady14

    Ordinary English people really hate the EU. This is why they elected the Conservatives as Cameron promised a referendum on EU membership. Ordinary English people don’t trust foreign organisations making their laws or controlling their border/boundaries.

    • Deco

      So do ordinary Greeks, ordinary Spaniards, ordinary Irish, ordinary French, ordinary Dutch, ordinary Danes, etc…

      I don’t trust unaccountable organizations whether it is in Dublin or Brussels or Frankfurt.

      The EU has become accountable to lobbyists, and insiders.

      Cameron is correct to ask serious questions. Muppets like FF-FG-ILP have complete faith in whatever dumb idea comes from Brussels. And then when the Brits or the Germans ask Brussels to change, and a change is implemented, their are in favour of that also.

      Ever get the sense that we are led meekly and submissively by three (useless) home ruler parties where we once had one ?

      • “Muppets like FF-FG-ILP have complete faith in whatever dumb idea comes from Brussels. And then when the Brits or the Germans ask Brussels to change, and a change is implemented, their are in favour of that also”

        Dead right Deco – and absolutely spineless and shameful.

  8. Deco

    US author Chris Hedges wrote a book with a title concerning – how the (US) right went nuts, and the (US) became useless.

    That half explains what has occurred before the UK general election. The British Labour Party have become useless. The SNP figured this out in the Gordon Brown years, and achieved their victory now.

    The British Labour Party has became a collection of tired patronizing clichés that nobody in the BLP believes in, below a superficial level. They are a lobbying group for unions. They are better at attacking their opponents with all sorts of prepared lines, but when asked what they will do when in power, it becomes auction politics.

    Even the Lib Dems have more direction. The TUC wanted a puppet to run the BLP, and they found Red Ed. The problem was that Red Ed never really believed half if it himself. He is a career politician.

  9. Deco

    For Ireland, the result is a relief.

    The adults are still in control in Westminster. Ireland’s main long term interest, is that Britain tackle’s it’s chronic debt problem. And the Tories were the only party that promised to do what was necessary to fix Britain’s finances.

    For Ireland the worst possible result would be an amateur in charge in Westminster, and rival trying to suck over IT investment from Ireland telling him what to do. The odd thing about the SNP’s brand of socialism is that it could well be cheaper than the BLP version, even if the promises sound bigger. If they run the state system properly. The BLP have zero intention of running the state system efficiently. Too many party members are interested in preventing that from happening.

    Brussels has completely lost the plot. In fact Brussels left the road and went wayward shortly after the Treaty of Maastricht.

    Britain is about to start an economy drive. Certain sections of the British establishment are about to go on a diet.

    The main question – can Cameron fix Britain before the next financial crisis ?

    He is starting the job from day 1. He has not a moment to lose.

    Meanwhile next door, as we square up to a general election, within 12 months, followed by a realignment within FF-FG-ILP, we can be certain that there will be no such economy drive here. The institutional state and it’s largesse is uninterruptible. FG are far more corrupt than the Cons-dot-org-dot-uk. FF is worse led than the BLP. And the ILP is even far more arrogant than the Lib Dems.

    In Ireland, the lethargy will continue, until they go to Frankfurt looking for another bailout.

    Britain has made an intellectual decision that it cannot afford the BLP road to either socialism or capitalism. The SNP approach will work if the state is made efficient. The Cons approach demands that the state be made more efficient. In Ireland, we are still deluding ourselves with the size and generosity of the state.

    • DB4545

      Deco

      You can’t fake sincerity. People have an acute ability to suss you out. I asked a cousin who’d describe himself as a Londoner which way he’d vote. He said normally Labour but this time UKip. The reason? “I’m not voting for a bloke who looks like a Paki, hadn’t got enough pride in his own background to refuse a bacon sarnie and done his own brother up like a kipper, I just don’t trust the facking man”. Racist? Possibly but it’s the unvarnished truth.It’s the old story we want people to believe we’re JFK but when we act in our own perceived interest we behave like Richard Nixon. People are more than capable of telling pollsters want they want to hear and then sowing it into them at the ballot box.

      The British and the English in particular are ruthless with politicians. Churchill led the British through a World War and was promptly booted out of office. The British Labour party have become a brand for the metropolitan middle class run by an elite for an elite(remind you of anyone). The Labour brand is seen as favouring specific ethnic groups, Political correctness and “right on” causes. All jolly nice but that cuts no ice with white van man. Career politicians read PPE at Oxford or Cambridge and parachute into a safe seat. People are fed up with it. The white working class and lower middle class feel abandoned. In Scotland a large percentage of that vote went to the SNP and in England 4 million of those votes went to UKiP. That’s a large voting bloc and it can’t be ignored.

      I work as a piano player in a whorehouse. It wasn’t advertised with that description when I originally applied for the position. In fact it took me a while to realise that what’s the role required. It can lead to some unusual conversations with some interesting characters in and out of working hours. One such character might be described as a retired consultant in the “security” industry in the North. I understand he may have since diversified his portfolio into oil futures. His words were ” I hope the Brits pull out of the EU before England goes up in flames because mark my words it will” . I hope David Cameron has the good sense to propose something radical like federation. We don’t need Kosovo or Serbia on our doorstep.

      DB

      • Any chance of a group discount in your workplace for the lads on the blog DB? And the girls too – if they are interested. We could have our next meet up in there.

        • DB4545

          Adam Byrne

          Nothing would give me greater pleasure. I’m sure you’d have hours of fun and it may give you unorthodox insights into the human condition. Unfortunately I am only a lowly piano player and the management although great pianists themselves take a very dim view of that kind of thing.

          DB

          • Haha ‘unorthodox insights’ – you’re talking to me as if I’ve never seen the inside of one of those places! Dear God I have sinned, hahaha.

          • The most interesting converstaion on this site in a while gentlemen!!

            D

          • Haha if you ever want a tour of East European or Caribbean brothels, I’m your man David – for the purposes of economics of course.

          • Amazing what some people take pride in and others think interesting, all in the name of economics. Shows the worth of being an economist. Same for politicians too. A sad state we are in.

          • Vive la différence Tony – the world would be a terrible boring place if all 7 billion of us were goldbugs and it wouldn’t suit your purposes either.

          • The description goldbug is similar to nutter.
            Pejorative.

          • As is ‘perfect sense’ (doesn’t exist) my old pal Tony.

            You won’t catch me out on semantics, but I’ll leave it at that.

          • Enjoy the week Adam.

            I’m going for a great sailing race on the weekend. The 42 mile Around Salt Spring annual event. Great scenery day and night. Over 100 boats. It will take anything from 8 hours to 25 (did not finish is after that) depending on wind, tide, current etc.)

            It takes the mind off all else and is a complete diversion.

            When I revert to normal on Monday the world could be a changed place and all will have occurred without any help from me.

        • DB4545

          Adam Byrne

          Moving swiftly on Adam the main point I was trying to make is that the UK is moving towards tribal politics in a way probably not seen since the English civil war. Tribal politics is the result of fear. There’s no point in pontificating about the politics of hope when people start voting on the basis of tribal identity or possible loss of that identity as happened in the North. That’s what’s happened in the UK election and David Cameron’s tactful remarks to the SNP is a recognition of this. With 4 million votes what happens when UkiP polishes up its act to become as wily as the Scots and morphs into the English National Party?

          Labour is undergoing a leadership challenge and one of the main contenders is the MP Mr. Chuka Umunna the shadow business secretary. He’s one of the most telegenic affable intelligent operators in British politics. Regardless of his colour if his name was Dave Smith he’d be in with a shout. If the Labour party believes that someone with that name can lead Labour to a general election victory in this new tribalism they are frankly delusional. Jan Smuts has a better chance of leading the Boers to victory in the next South African election.

          Dominic Lawson spoke wrote about the shy Tory voter being the deciding factor in winning the election. I think it was a succinct way of expressing this effective marshalling of tribalism. I suspect those shy Tory voters include a significant numbers of white low and middle income voters who voted tactically within the constraints of the UK first past the post system. David has written extensively on decklanders and the pope’s children. What about Enoch Powell’s grandchildren? This could get real ugly real fast.

          DB

      • coldblow

        DB

        About the piano playing – I assumed you were talking metaphorically.

        • DB4545

          Coldblow

          About the piano playing I was absolutely talking metaphorically. It’s understandable that given the dry subject matter of politics some people may have lost the run of themselves. I do however provide professional services for people engaged in that particular career path from time to time.

          I should take this opportunity to apologize to anyone engaged in that esteemed profession who may have felt my remarks were in any way disparaging to their art and industry.They’re a hard working and industrious group undervalued by the public and I believe provide a vital public service. They’d saved countless lives, peoples sanity and I’m lead to believe many marriages often at great personal cost. That’s certainly more than you can say about most mere politicians. There is however some alignment between both professions but the latter group are much more mercenary.

          I think it’s a clear example of a profession that that has served the public diligently at all price points despite attempts by government to interfere in the market. It think it demonstrates that no government can truly legislate for some aspects of human nature and people will always use the assets available to them as they see fit. I can only refer you to the great conductor Sir Thomas Beecham. He became irritated with a young female cellist who was playing out of key. “Madam” he said “You have an instrument between your legs capable of giving pleasure to thousands and all you can do is scratch it”.

          DB

          • Thanks for a good belly laugh. Have a great day

          • DB4545

            Tony Brogan

            Thanks Tony. I’ve read your sailing exploits with envy. The few times I’ve been out sea fishing the swell makes me turn as green as the cannibals that David described in his previous article and I hasten to add my flesh eating is restricted to medium rare T-bone steak. Enjoy your day.

            DB

  10. Deco

    Here is a snippet that you might find telling, with regards to the Irish in Britain.

    The new Transport Secretary is called Patrick McLoughlin.

    And you can be sure he is there on merit, to do a serious job, in a serious manner unlike that muppet who failed to win a seat in a by-election for FG despite a fortune of corporate money, and corporate media backing.

    Once the Irish were employed in the business of digging canals. Later railways. Later motorways. And no doubt helping out in the construction of urban transport systems like the tube. Irish concrete is even used in the Crossrail project.

    Then there were all the Irish who got involved in the motor industry in the West Midlands. With part of Coventry, having a Little Cork.

    And of course, in recent years, Willie Walsh leading BA. And Michael O’Leary running Ryanair.

    Well, now it seems that an Irishman has made it to the top – running British transport.

    We wish him the very best of luck, and hope that he does a first rate job. He has a very important task ahead of him, as he does his best to make Britain more efficient.

  11. Grzegorz Kolodziej

    Bluegalway is asking: “and if UKiP are ‘nutters’, then what does that make Canada and Australia, which both have the same immigration policies that UKiP are proposing”, I can answer: nothing. These are reasonable immigration policies; certainly more reasonable than those that Europe has (we will give every asylum seeker an asylum, but we will not allow them to work – as a result Europe is attracting that kind of immigrants from Africa who are coming to live here with four wives rather than to work and some of them are plotting a Muslim version of the Night of the Long Knives).

    But at the same time everything, because the whole question misses the point.

    I do not live in Australia, Canada or the UK (quite a few people on this blog do, so their perspective is different – I lived in the UK myself, so I can understand where they are coming from) – I live in Ireland and I am concerned with the problem whether UKiP is good for Ireland, not for the UK.

    Starting with Australia and Canada, these are countries big enough and independent enough to have their own independent foreign policies and to be driven by a domestic demand. On the top of that you cannot compare NAFTA with the EU as a political environment – Canada was never asked to bail out US banks. Australia is driven by a huge investment from China (this will backfire when China’s property bubble collapses) and has a strong army, while Ireland’s defence plan is that the English or the Germans will protect its shores if the Russians attack. Not only that, but there are many people in Ireland who are protesting against the nuclear energy from Britain because they are proud that Ireland is neutral, military weak and the third most import-dependent country in the EU after Malta and Cyprus when it comes to energy supply – in other words they are proud that anyone can cut its supply lines or occupy it and it will only take one day to so. Maybe I am in a small minority, but I think Ireland should have a strong army, powerful allies with nukes, have its budget red in the Dail before it is red in Bundestag and be able to operate its airports and buses in a smidgen-of-snow conditions. Besides people with no criminal or mental illness records should be allowed to buy guns in Ireland (huge deterring factor for the likes of terrorists, Russian mafia and the most extreme loyalists) while at the moment this privilege is reserved for drug dealers and the RA.

    A for penny, B for a pound – so supposing we want to introduce in Ireland Australian immigration policies. Very well, then we must leave the EU. I take it you had been informed about four freedoms in the EU. Maybe that is an idea we should discuss on this blog, but I am not sure if all people here realise that this is the consequence of the Australian-style immigration debate.

    Here is a puzzle for you – if Ireland and England were to leave the EU and Scotland were to stay in the EU, then those who support Irish independence from our masters in Berlin must be against the Scottish National Party as they are drifting the other way round.

    The subject of independent Scotland and its implications on the Northern Irish question will be a recurring theme within the next decade. There is nothing strategic to be heard about it from our politicians who can only think in terms of 4 year election cycles and those politicians who claim they think in terms of a great vision of a united Ireland – like Sinn Fein – cannot offer any clear answers as to how the united Ireland should deal with 900,000 angry Orangemen and what her foreign allies should be.

    It is remarkable that more people want to be out of the EU in Britain than the population of Wales, but what I think is even more remarkable and what David’s article totally glosses over is the fact that more Irish Catholics in the North want to stay in the UK than the English people in England want them to stay. No, I did not lose the plot – according to a recent poll, 52pc of Northern Ireland’s Catholics wish to remain in the UK and only 33pc of them wish to have a united Ireland, while 48pc of English people want to keep Northern Ireland in the union. So never mind the Balkanisation of Britain, we might live to see the Balkanisation of the island of Ireland and we have neither plan nor resources to prevent it.

    I would not be surprised if the vast majority of that 33pc were UKiP voters. In an interview for Polish TV Nigel Farage named countries who he thought England can form a coalition when she leaves the EU: Sweden, Denmark, Finland and the Netherlands. It is telling that he did not mention Ireland. I have noticed that there are quite a few UKiP supporters on this blog. I myself think that most of UKiP’s criticism towards the way Europe is run is well justified (albeit a bit hypocritical – i.e. Mr. Farage talked a lot about British fishermen losing on EU policies but he was absent at the meetings when he could really do something about it) and that we need more Mr. Farage and other eurosceptics in the EU Parliament (such as an eccentric Polish MEP Korwin-Mikke, who is so eurosceptic that even Farage was not eurosceptic enough to form a coalition with him even though it was only because of his support that he could form his fraction in the EU Parliament or Marie Le Pen, who could freshen up the political establishment in France which does not differ on any important point since they all belong to the same lodge of Grand Orient – although I am still waiting for her to come up with any economic program that makes sense). We need them to control the deluge of overregulation in Europe and to control the Byzantine corruption in the EU Commission (when one of their auditors found out about money they had stolen, they sacked the auditor).

    But the real question is, to quote the article we comment on: “Where does all this leave us? Economically a political upheaval in the UK will have a clear commercial effect on us.”

    It will. AND I AM NOT TOO SURE IRELAND IS PREPARED FOR THEM. First effect will be that England and Wales freed from Brussels will seek to tighten its links with some other powerful countries. This in practice leaves USA or China. David McWilliams seems to be absolutely certain that it is going to be the US, but with all due respect, I think he needs to think again. UK secured a multi-billion pound nuclear investment from China while the US seems to be collapsing both economically and as the world’s policeman. I do not write it with a malicious glee as many people in Ireland would, on the contrary – I have always been very pro-American, like most people from my country (Poland is by far the most pro-American society in Europe with a pro-German government and this goes back in time – Poles were among the first settlers in the US – way before the Irish – and they fought for the US independence – along with the Irish; at the same time Polish pro-Americanism is very naïve inasmuch, unlike the Irish, they are pro-American for free; worse than for free, Poland subsidizes the US industry instead of being subsidized, like Israel).

    But the US is on downward spiral at least since G. W. Bush and having two terms of a lunatic as the US President, it has hidden unemployment bigger than in Ireland (if we do not count those who left Ireland) and 18tn dollar debt which makes it totally dependent on the likes of China. At the same time the US, having spent 5bn dollars on staging various revolutions in Ukraine, is not able to bring any sense of security or prosperity to countries which internal affairs it meddles with.

    So if I said before that China’s property bubble will burst in this decade and bring down half of the country, it will still be in a much better position than the US. First of all, the US is totally dependent on foreign investment while China is pulling the strings. The housing bubble will only collapse the property market in China while the FED bubble will collapse all markets in the US, bringing their army down as well. Someone will have to fill the gap. Who it will be? In my opinion it will be whoever will be able to introduce gold-back currency first, and this will certainly not be the US or Europe.

    So coming back to the Balkanisation of the UK and what would the breakaway for Scotland mean for Northern Ireland. Well, first of all we will end up having a weak and isolated England. Secondly, weak England will give rise to a total German domination in Europe. Thirdly, I agree with David McWilliams that more capital will flow in to deregulated England than flow out – so we will have Europe run from Berlin with the German economy slowing down and the economy of peripheral countries in stagnation. Unless of course China introduces the gold-backed currency, the capital flows out both out of Europe in the UK, the ECB’s bubble will go bust and we will have Germany in stagnation and other countries in depression. Fourthly, we will have defenceless Scotland, so we will see Russian warships preventing Scotland making use of any of their oil which makes me realize how incredibly naive Nicola Sturgeon is that she wants to get rid of the nuclear deterrent (Lenin called those people ‘useful idiots’).

    This has already happened in the Baltic Sea only last week – Russian warships deliberately disrupted the construction of undersea power cables from Klaipeda in Lithuania to Nybro in Sweden that would reduce the energy reliance Baltic states on Moscow. Sweden’s foreign ministry said it was unacceptable and has raised the issue with Russia, but to no avail. This is in keeping with the statement of the Russian official in March that the region will be equipped with Iskander missiles which can reach as far as Berlin.

    So last, but no least – defenceless Scotland (not really independent since they will be totally dependent on Germany and France) and disinterested England will probably mean, in the long run, united but defenceless Ireland, dependent on ECB and FED (how about 17pc interest rates on mortgages if there is a sovereign crisis in the US? How would you fancy Dublin streets littered with property adds advertising repossessed houses for 50,000 euro? I think we may have a problem) and stuck with 900,000 angry loyalists. And do you know what will be the worst bit? Europe, busy with Russian vessels and the US, busy staging revolutions in the Ukraine and supporting apartheid in Israel will not care whether there is a civil war in Ireland and whether there is ten Bloody Sundays every day.

    So to summarize it: I think most of UKiP’s criticism of the EU is justified and I think mass-immigration is a problem. But I also think that leaving outside the parliament more people than a population of Wales may lead to huge tensions in the UK which may tear the country apart and that ultimately, with independent Scotland it will portent even worse tensions in Northern Ireland. Maybe our politicians should publicly debate those issues and spend at least a fraction of time they wasted in RTE harping on their unnecessary referenda (I propose one necessary referendum: a) people of Ireland, how much do you think TDs should be paid and b) would you prefer paying DB drivers 800 euro and pay 2,000 for annual tickets or would you rather pay them 400 euro and pay 365 euro for annual tickets, like in Vienna)?

    • In a word: provocative!

    • DB4545

      Grzegorz Kolodziej

      I’m grateful for your insight and analysis which is of course uniformly excellent.Is there a word for brevity in Polish?

      DB

    • DB4545

      Grzegorz

      I think most people would like to pay 365 Euro a year for an annual ticket and have a decent transport system. You state people are paid 800 Euro here and 400 Euro in Vienna. What’s the cost of housing,food,education,medical insurance etc. in essence what’s the cost of living for people in Vienna? What’s the tax take on that 400 Euro? It’s like comparing wages here with wages in the UK without factoring in that people in the UK have free access to the NHS and pay very little for medication. You’re not comparing like with like.

      DB

  12. http://www.gata.org/node/15337

    Make cash illegal to end boom and bust — and liberty

You must log in to post a comment.
× Hide comments