Thursday, 30 June 2016

The Real Reasons for Brexit

There has been a lot of doom and gloom about Brexit, but I for one don't love our European neighbours any the less as a result and I've yet to meet anyone who does.

I prefer to see Brexit as the biggest blow to the banking and oil dynasties who really run the world and apparently want first, a European superstate, and then a world government - concepts I personally am far more uncomfortable with than the turmoil and tough times (for a while) of leaving EU - a wasteful and inefficient behemoth if ever there was one.

A friend has just sent me a link to the Kalergi plan. If you take out the word 'genocide' and assorted paranoia, it makes interesting reading. Not that immigration per se is the problem for most people. It is mass immigration, unplanned, unconsulted, and without the infrastructure to support it without turning various communities upside down and making them question their own identity that has caused the anger. Along with tax exiles, corporations and the super rich dodging their taxes, MPs fiddling their expenses, housing shortages, NHS pressures, Gulf Wars, Philip Green asset stripping BHS, bedroom tax. the fall of the steel industry, homelessness and all the other blows the working class in particular feel they have been subjected to without anyone noticing or caring. And even though not all of these are the EU's fault - this was Britain's big opportunity to register a protest vote - for better or worse - and they took it.

Notwithstanding, why shouldn't they be angry about imported workers who are prepared to live in garden sheds or 4 to a front room for the privilege of working in a central London coffee chain outlet and at being undercut in the labour market generally? For many natives (and I count established or second generation immigrants in the term 'natives') wages have been effectively frozen for the last ten years as the cost of living continues to rise inexorably. And that is if they have been lucky enough to keep their jobs. We are constantly being told Britain is a WEALTHY country, but the reality is Britain is only a wealthy country for the top 5% of those who live in it, not for most of the rest. When open borders were first proposed by Tony Blair back in 1997, it was estimated only 13,000 people would move to UK per year. That figure turned out to be nearer 300,000 per year. Meaning 180,000 new houses need to be built per year to keep up with the immigrant population alone, let alone the home market. This places towns and cities under the most enormous pressure from development and many are in the process of being over-developed beyond all recognition. Heritage in particular has never been more at risk. Separately to this overseas buyers - generally from the far east - are snapping up just about everything built in city centres off-plan as an investment (developers prefer selling off-plan in order to get their money back quicker). Many such buyers never live in them and some won't ever visit them either. They are simply gold bars in the sky, there to accumulate ever more wealth. However despite not serving local housing need, such developments are still counted towards each council's 'housing target.'

My Hindu newsagent was over the moon at the Brexit vote and gleefully started telling me how many other countries are planning to exit too. He is not the only established immigrant I know who could be construed as 'racist' by the PC brigade. But ultimately labels like this are just an excuse not to listen to people's concerns (valid or otherwise), an excuse to shut down all constructive debate and this is what leads to the enormous anger building. David Cameron has been proven not only to be a poor gambler with this Referendum (a professional gambler would never risk what they weren't willing to lose) but wildly out of touch with huge swathes of the electorate and their experiences of modern Britain and anger at being ignored and hammered by their government on all fronts. This also explains Corbyn's popularity against all odds - many working class people feel they have a chance of being listened to by him, rightly or wrongly.

But to end on a more positive note, Britain once ruled the world. Why should it be so impossible for it to rule itself? Especially now we have the opportunity to do so minus the slavery, child labour, sexism, racism and other undesirable traits of our forbears. I just hope we can recover both our independent spirit and our ability to roll up our sleeves and get on with things. As for controlling our borders, every country should have this right without being branded 'racist', That does not mean they don't let anyone in, just that they have proper procedures in place for doing so which strikes some kind of a balance between those emigrating and those immigrating in order that resources are not overstretched and wanted criminals and t.e.r.r.o.r.i.s.t.s not allowed in. Mind you, it took my Canadian friend and former colleague TEN years to be allowed into UK, despite having proved himself charming, polite, articulate, well-dressed and hard working, not to mention an Anglophile of the first order who knows more about this country than I do, so the powers that be had no hesitation in being unreasonable to him, a citizen from a Commonwealth country, for goodness' sake!

An alternative future scenario might be that enough European countries pull out of EU to cause its total collapse in order that something better can rise up from the ashes which truly represents our interests and listens to our needs.

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Italy - where beauty and heritage are treasured.

A recent trip to Italy (these are only a fraction of the images I took) brought home to me how much we have lost of Britain that was special. Yes, the Italians have ugly towns and cities too, but by and large they don't touch their heritage and build the ugly stuff on the outside of their historic centres or in new places altogether. Rather than bulldozing their narrow, often-mediaeval streets for modern convenience, they have adapted their lives to suit, whilst still installing all the mod cons anyone could possibly need. Scooters and small cars abound. The majority of parking in city centres is UNDER the beautiful buildings and not exposed in open or multi-storey concrete monoliths. Supermarkets and retail parks have not yet stolen the place of city centres. Nor has internet shopping. The Italians have smart phones but they prefer real life. Cafe/bar culture looms large and while it is not unusual to see a customer with a glass of wine in their hand at 10am, we didn't see a single drunk person all week, drinking being regarded as an accompaniment to life and often interspersed with rounds of coffee. There is no race to the bottle bottom to get drunk first or fashion for binge drinking in the Italian culture. Talking and passing the time of day and cultivating personal roots is what matters.

Children often play late at night in town squares on their bicycles. No one seems to mind and they are not overly noisy. Relaxed as their upbringing may be, they are expected to respect their neighbours and elders, and they do. With the exception of surprisingly copious amounts of graffiti in various corners and white knuckle moped rides around the narrow streets and hairpin bends, that is.

To return to heritage, whether it is simply reluctance to adopt corporate ideas of 'progress' or mafia rule that has resulted in so many well-preserved historic streets, it has paid off. The tourists LOVE it and spend lots of money - particularly Americans - who have waited decades for the dot of retirement to flock to the country in their droves. 'Doing Italy' is top of their bucket list according to the many we met, and they have never had sufficient holiday to do it while working (the US being mean with its paid leave). The locals exhibit great nostalgia for their towns and cities too and revel in their cultural identity. Another stark reminder of how civic pride and a sense of place and identity is now seldom seen in the towns and cities of Britain, albeit still a feature of smaller conurbations.