Sunday, 5 February 2017

French and German elections

It has been a challenge trying to digest and interpret all that has been said by the various groups since the Brexit result. There have been a lot of angry and frustrated people voicing their concerns.

There are die-hard Remainers, just as there are die-hard Brexiteers! I have confidence in Theresa May to navigate along the right path. In fact it was her sole speech in support of a remain result on the referendum that actually started me thinking of voting to remain. She will pay attention to the detail. I think she is the right person at the right time to lead the UK at the moment.

I have come back to my blog after a relatively long time away. How interesting to see that the readers who have accessed the blog in the last month come from France and Germany. Their national elections will shape the future of the EU, and influence dramatically how the Brexit negotiations develop over the next two years. I wish them well! I hope democracy delivers the right result. There needs to be a high turnout by the majority of the population; with engagement in the election process.

Back soon.... interested spectator!

Sunday, 4 December 2016

For the Record

As my blog has shown, I have constantly grappled with using my vote to Remain.

The EU has a flawed agenda. It makes bad decisions. There is a democratic deficit and no means of providing a system of checks and balances to help it navigate along a path that respects the needs of the general population for which it must serve. 

The Euro is failing huge swathes of the younger generations with high unemployment. I was made redundant at the time when John Major was trying to remain in the ERM, the precursor to the Euro. So I relate to the plight of the younger generations.

The Euro is flawed because you cannot have the German and southern European economies  operating with the same currency. There is just a straight mismatch. Perhaps the best solution is for Germany to leave the Euro, rather than the others such as Greece.

And Schengen, so flawed too, in fact it is nolonger really in existence for Austria and Hungary.

The EU has to reform, and perhaps the pending German and French General Elections might just shake the 5 Presidents into change.

However, I have come to recognise that leaving the EU is also not necessarily the correct thing to do. It is perhaps best encapsulated by a French commentator on the British Referendum who said he did not understand why the British wanted to leave the EU. Why, when we benefit from the best of the EU, and have successfully kept away from the worst of the EU.

This is rather an interesting perspective.

I have decided to vote to remain.

The renegade in me still wants to vote to leave. However, whether we are in or out of the EU, we will always be inextricably linked to Europe, and our well-being, both economic and political, will always be affected by the EU. So why not stick at it and try to effect change for the better.

Perhaps this whole Referendum will give the UK a means to shift the agenda onto issues that are the  right ones. 

So although I am not a huge advocate of the EU, I have moved towards being a Reformist.

Back soon.....

......your decided Reformist.

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

The Remain Rationale

I Since my last post I have been watching a lot on videos, mainly on the BBC iplayer App but the below website may help find them

I must say I listened to Teresa May's one all the way through and it was the first time I genuinely realised I was considering voting remain.

I was also passed this You Tube one by a family member. It has John Major explaining his Remain Rationale

The problem I have with John Major was that back in the days of the ERM he was a firm advocate of joining the pre-cursor to the Euro, the Exchange Rate Mechanism. He spent £3.5 billion 25 years ago trying to stay in. I suppose that just went straight onto the debt pile that is still sitting there with an interest interest charge. How does that compare to a year long recession if we leave? It was that recession where I lost my job and went to work in France, as described in an earlier blog last year.

And the only mention from John Major was that the decision to launch the Euro was a made too early, and was a mistake. It was wonderful how he omitted to mention the ERM and the mistakes he made.

It is not what a  politician says, it is what a politician does not say that is interesting.

Again though, it was a useful video to watch and thought provoking.

If I vote to remain it will be with absolute anger because it will just send the wrong message to the EU institutions, that there is no need to change. No need to fix the issues within the Euro area and fix the unemployment rates. They are trying but they have created the Euro which is just a dreadful straight jacket - a bad decision.

What other bad decisions will they make in the next 25 years?

I suppose the heart of the matter is that whether we are in the EU or out we will still be affected by their decisions. So why not stay in and keep trying at reforms. Not easy with 11 % of voting rights and everyone still advocating both enlargement and ever-closer union. Its the agenda that is wrong, not the need to work together in Europe. How on earth can you have a common currency with such a varied range of GDPs per capita. Madness!

Has David Cameron's renegotiation really created a buffer to isolate us from the financial costs that are likely in the future.

But the Leave Campaign is frankly not stepping up to it, with respect to the detail on the structures that would be put in place. There are mechanisms as highlighted in my earlier blogs on Flexit and Brexit, last summer. I think they have just decided to take the hit on winning the argument over the economy. A win to the Remainers, then, it would seem.

Back soon

....the Undecided Voter.

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Should it be a vote from the heart or with the head?

I have come to the conclusion that there is no right or wrong answer to the question on how to vote on the 23rd of June.

We will all have to vote in line with our beliefs.

A vote to remain.

If I vote to remain, that is saying yes to the UK staying in a "reformed" EU. But is it reformed? It is not fundamentally changed in the spirit of David Cameron's Bloomberg speech.

So it is sending a message to the EU that the UK wants to stay in the EU without  the need for reform. It can carry on with its plans for ever closer union for those countries in the Euro. And for Britain what does that mean? We stay in the club, but we can no longer influence it, only continue to try and distance ourselves from some of the worst aspects of the EU. But we would still be constrained and unable to be free to develop our trade with other parts of the world, independently from the EU.

In addition, a part of the deal struck by Cameron, we lose the power to influence how the Euro zone develops. We will be unable to veto how they develop.

As a little aside, I have always considered it odd that under David Cameron we have been committed to 1% of GDP to help develop third world countries.  Having worked in Africa for the last 10 years, I have come to realise that it would be far better if we helped them to develop through trade, rather than through charity. But that can't be achieved because the EU is a closed block and the French would not like to open up exposure of their agricultural sector to foreign competition, a sector that could most benefit the wider population in Africa, since mineral extraction only benefits a very narrow section of the population in these countries.

I mention this aside as it plays on my mind. They say we would lose influence in the world if we left the EU. But as with my little aside, we can't influence the world in the right ways. i.e. let African countries develop by trading more easily with us. I just can't get out of mind the issue that I see the EU focuses on the wrong things. It arrives at the wrong decisions. It is not influenced sufficiently strongly by its populations. It is influenced by big business because they have easy and ready access to them. 

Aside from the Euro and the Schengen issues which I regard as flawed decisions, another one is pollution. The French and German car makers lobbied strongly to ensure that EU legislation promoted the wider use of Diesel engines as a means of reducing CO2 emissions, but they collectively ignored th impact to health of Nitrous oxide emissions. The decision is now shown to be flawed with the dangerous levels of pollution in major cities such as Paris and London.

A vote to remain in an organisation that is flawed and shows no inclination towards reform, is quite a dangerous signal to send.

A Vote to Leave

A very difficult one really! It will lead to a period of uncertainty and I can well imagine such a divorce would be acrimonious. And to be complete, it would take 10 years. So what benefit would there be of leaving? There would have to be a collective jolt to the whole economy to ensure that the negatives from leaving were adequately compensated across each section of the economy. 

How many countries use their investment s in the UK economy as a bridge into the EU single market area.

Can we adequately compensate for the change in relationship with the EU that would follow.

The advocates for a vote to leave are not helping the debate really by not being explicit and consistent as to how these issues would be addressed.

Perhaps it is better to stay. Perhaps the Euro will self destruct in the near term. Perhaps the people's of France or Germany will vote in ways that fundamentally change the EU agenda.

Perhaps it is better to stay and encourage the UK government to influence the EU to change.

I know my "perhaps" are a hopeless cop out. The referendum is here to let the people decide on an issue that the politicians have been unable to work through.

We all have to vote with our heads and hearts on the 23rd June.

We have to send a collective signal to politicians in this country and others, but also to the unelected bureaucrats in the EU, that represents the will of the British people.

Not an easy one. But I do think my thoughts are beginning to crystallise.

My heart says a vote to leave is required as I reject the EU as a dangerously undemocratic project that is not necessary. David Cameron's renegotiation of the UKs relationship with the EU shows that they see no need to reform and are not interested in allowing the UK to have control of issues such as immigration that the EU regards  as fundamental in the development of the EU. In my opinion it is necessary to have a Union of Nation States working together to resolve issues where cooperation is required. And this would require some loss of Sovereignty, which I accept.

My head sees David Cameron's negotiation for a reformed relationship with the EU as the best he could achieve in the circumstances. I am concerned that the Euro zone will develop in ways that negatively impact the UK without allowing it the flexibility to adjust and adapt because of the constraints imposed on us by the rules of the EU.

My head also sees that a vote to leave will have a negative impact on the UK economy, certainly in the short term.

The French won't like it. The Germans won't either but they are more pragmatic.

Should the UK voters also be pragmatic and accept the flaws in the EU and keep trying to influence the EU to reform.

Has David Cameron successfully isolated the UK from the imminent changes that are coming for the Eurozone? Maybe the Eurozone will develop into the United States of Eurozone with tax harmonisation and Germans won't mind financing the French and Italian government borrowing. All this in the interests of working together for the common good! Ultimately they want an ever closer union so it would have a shared  debt mountain anyway, effectively.

And perhaps this is the beginning of formalising a two tier Europe.

The referendum question is a binary decision but there are so many subsections to each side that are conflicting.

Perhaps the dilemma is best resolved by trying to second guess how the EU will develop in the next ten years and how the Eurozone will develop as well.

Perhaps we should vote based on the the EU being the second tier and the Eurozone being the first tier where "ever closer union" continues to develop, unabated.

What does continue unabated is the dilemma of how to vote.

Back soon, as ever .....

... The undecided voter!

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

The French Connection.

 How interesting to read that the French Economics Minister, Macron, visited London, to encourage French entrepreneurs to return to France. They told him that it was easier to start businesses in the UK than France as it has less bureaucracy. He wanted nothing more than for them to come back to France, as France needs them.

France is often described as "dirigiste". Their government does take a controlling interest in the corporate enterprises in the French econmy. And they do not see the advantages in letting the economy loose and trying to step-back and let people get on with their economic lives.

They have also been instrumental in setting the agenda over the last 60 years for the development of EU. And look at that!

It is reading articles like this one, that really focuses the mind on the Referendum. It is definately not about  the UK going its own way. It is about providing a real catalyst for change in Europe. 

George Osborne recently said leaving the UK would be significant shock to the UK economy. I believe it would also be a significant shock to the EU, that would necessitate change. Reform would have to follow.

Today, Yuncker was saying that perhaps the EU has been getting too involved in issues that could be best resolved by National governments. I wonder if the speech only got air-time in the UK.

He is the co-author of the Five Presidents Report that describes the road map to further integration where full EU democracy could only come after complete integration into a Federal Europe. So I doubt very much he really believes what he says about doing less. 

Perhaps a Leave vote would really be the catalylist for change. David Cameron's position has been watered down from his Bruges speech days where he advoctaed that the EU needed to change fundamentally. The potential changes he has negotiated do not adequately reflect his original stance. They have been watered down in ways that reflect what is wrong with the EU, their real desire for ever closer political union. They do not want the type of changes that we see are needed. 

But then perhaps it is not going to be that catalyst..!

....when has a referendum ever prevented the EU from continuing on its path? So perhaps I should not delude myself...!

After this referendum, after the French and Germans get their National Elections out of the way, the agenda of the EU will revert to further Treaty change to allow them to get on with further political and fiscal integration to get the Euro to function properly as a currency. 

Those treaty changes would include the deal made by David Cameron, and it remains to be seen whether they would be watered down further.

Whether we vote to stay in or leave, we will always be trying minmise the impact of EU / Euro on the UK.

Does it really matter which way we all vote.....?

Has David Cameron's deal really only been a damage limitiation exercise? To allow us to continue in an economic club and prevent the further political union that is required to make the Euro work. Perhaps we should vote to remain on this occassion, and if they try to renege on the deal at the next treaty change, leave then.

Who knows.... Back soon ......

.....the undecided voter.

A Tonic to the Politics of Fear

Well my worst fears, highlighted in one  my earliest blogs, have now materialised with the media reporting on how both sides of the debate are resorting to scare tactics.

So it is always quite pleasing,when I am reading in the press, to come across references to other sources of information, that may deliver some real insight and considered thought.

A letter from a reader in The Times mentioned this document below as a good read. It has a good summary and more detail as required on specific topics.

It is a document published by the UK Parliament.

Happy reading

Back soon .....

.....the undecided voter

Saturday, 9 April 2016

Pro-EU Points of view

I have to be honest and say that although I do try and read widely and look at this Referendum from a pro-EU stance, I find that I either get switched off from continuing to read something, or when I do manage to finish, I just look at the article and see it as very poor quality and bland.

The following site is a case in point. It is written by an Amercian professor of EU Politics. On this occassion, I thought I would engage in some dialogue with him. I was left quite unimpressed, to be honest.