You would have to be a machine or completely heartless not to be moved by the photo of the drowned little boy, Aylan, lying on a beach and a couple of people have asked me what I think about the horrendous situation taking place in the Middle East and in Europe.
Petitions are springing up like daisies asking Cameron and the Government to open our borders and take in thousands of these unfortunate people. So far, although being a weak prime minister he will probably do a U turn, Cameron is resisting and spouting on about how our Navy is in the Mediterranean to save people from the sea and how our foreign aid is helping in the middle east and north Africa. Quite true of course but picking people up and dumping them in Italy doesn’t seem at all neighbourly.
It’s perfectly natural, if you’re anything like a decent human being, to want to take them all in, to provide the means of a life free from fear of death, mutilation or rape, to build a life in a reasonably democratic country like ours (UK). It is, though, I feel, also essential for not only any refugees that we take in but for ourselves and the future of our nation that we stand back a little and consider the implications before we act in haste only to regret later.
Many of the people pouring into Europe are not refugees or asylum seekers but economic migrants seeking employment such as those risking life or limb climbing under lorries at Calais and this is understandable. The UK already has huge numbers of non EU immigrants from the Middle East, Africa and the Indian Sub-continent. Many have integrated, built businesses and contribute to the economic wealth of the nation; many have not.
Differing cultures add to and benefit us all add to our enjoyment and increase understanding between peoples but only up to a point, a tipping point. There are towns here already that are culturally non British, where the once indigenous Briton now feels uncomfortable at best or unwelcome to say the least. Mosques are springing up replacing the Christian based communities. Admittedly I’m an atheist and would like a fully secular society but in the meantime I would like to hear church bells not an Imam crying out a call to prayer from a minaret.
The distressing scenes being played out emanating from Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria and Libya are in part at least caused by Blair, Bush and Cameron and so we do bear most of the blame and with it some responsibility for the result. There has been a suggestion that each council in the land could take in one refugee family which would mean 10,000 asylum seekers allowed in and I think this would be a good and fair idea particularly as being spread out they would hopefully integrate rather than grouping together and forming little enclaves of their past. I feel this is the maximum we could assimilate particularly as immigration seems to be almost out of control with over a quarter of a million being added to our population each year.
As well as this Europe (EU) needs to get a grip and provide refugee centres in the inwardly affected countries then send back without delay any economic migrants. The UN and EU countries must pressure the middle eastern governments to take in these desperate people, after all they have similar religions and way of life as well as climate. It should be remembered that the UK is more crowded than India. The USA has vast areas of land so why should it too not take in refugees given that it bears huge responsibility for much of the mess in this world?
It’s almost unbelievable I know but the Government (DEFRA) is actually proposing to allow an increase in the numbers of chickens in battery farms per square metre. They are already so tightly packed that their legs collapse, their lungs give out and their hearts fail. It is already a disgusting 17 birds per square metre and the proposal is to add two more.
The government excuse is that we will come inline with EU regulations. This is no excuse at all and DEFRA should obviously be demanding an improved EU standard. As a result of a previous campaign to improve the lot of chickens,, sales of free range birds have increased by 42% which shows that the British people have compassion and the Government should have the same.
In the post today I received my Poll Card for the forthcoming European and local council elections. I don’t usually bother to read all the guff on the back but being a bit bored I suppose, this time I did. It included the following instruction. “Show the presiding officer the number and other unique identifying mark on the back of the ballot paper…….”
I rang the Local Returning Officer and asked him if this ‘number and unique mark’ could in theory be used to identify how I voted. Well, apparently it can but only if I were suspected of Treason! It seems that the master copy of numbers & marks are sealed and kept for six months following an election and were it found that a ballot paper had for example treasonous remarks on the back of it then a judge could order the unsealing of the master copy in order to identify the author of this treason.
Now being a Republican this is a bit unnerving as I just might not be able to help myself and as the Local Returning Officer pointed the penalty for treason is still hanging.
I recently wrote to my (Lib/Dem) MP to clarify their position on support for selling off part of the Post Office and Royal Mail.
We can agree that the Post Office needs a cash injection to maintain and improve what is actually a brilliant service but according to my MP it is likely to against EU law for the Government to supply this finance which leaves selling off a part of it the only viable option.
If this is indeed the case (I have written to my MEP for confirmation) there is something seriously wrong with a law that denies supporting an efficient national service while at the same time allowing huge sums to be given to bail out private banks.
We are now one day into yet another law that gathers our personal information and yet another step down the road to a police state.
Our ISP’s must now keep a record for at least a year of all our email usage and telephone calls made via the Internet. Land-line calls are already recorded by the way. This is an all EU law and was pushed through largely by the efforts of the UK government deviously under the guise of ‘civil law’ requiring a simple majority vote rather than a ‘policing law’ that would require unanimity of all EU states. Sweden, to it’s credit, has refused to implement this law and Germany is mounting a challenge to it.
More information can be found at The Open Rights Group.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has ordered plans to be drawn up for a nuclear ‘umbrella’ to protect Russia from a potential attack along with more nuclear submarines and a space shield.
So here we go again, embarking on yet another arms race, creating tension, fears and an appalling waste of natural resources that no one can afford. So predictable when at the US behest, all the little countries that were formally part of the Soviet Union clamour to join the EU and NATO with their eyes on the financial inducements on offer. US anti missile missiles are to be based in Poland just west of Russia along with promises of cash and NATO membership to Georgia to the south and so on. No wonder Russia feels increasingly threatened.
Western governments and their media will of course point the finger at Russia and it’s new President but the truth is plain to see for anyone with at least one brain cell.
Freethinkeruk has recently returned from a sailing holiday in The Isles of Scilly (magical place, go if you can) and called into the fishing port of Newlyn on the way back.
There I enjoyed chatting with an aging fisherman who enlightened me on the plight of the British fishing industry. I’m sure most of my readers will be passingly familiar with the rules that restrict the tonnage of fish caught meaning that trawlers and other boats can only go out a limited number of days per year. There are also restrictions on the type of fish that can be landed said to be to conserve stocks. When nets are being pulled along several hundred feet below the surface there is obviously no way to avoid catching ‘restricted’ fish. What happens to these fish when the nets are brought in? They are dumped over the side, dead! Yes, thousands of tonnes of good edible fish thrown into the deep to rot. The fishermen are not even allowed to bring them ashore and give them away. What a disgusting waste.
This old guy also informed me that due to the quotas and the high cost of diesel he went out for eight days recently, that’s eight days and nights tossing about on the ocean in all weathers, and after paying expenses was left with £240. Less than a pound an hour for working in the most dangerous industry of all.
In defiance of the EU, France subsidises diesel costs for it’s fishermen while our government abides by the letter of EU directives and sits on it’s hands as our fishermen go bankrupt and the industry dies. Not until the cost of our ‘fish n chips’ doubles, trebles or more will anyone, it seems, sit up and take notice.
No wonder then that I’m told most fishermen belong to UKIP!
The ‘no’ vote in Eire had barely been announced when Gordon Brown announced that ratification would go ahead in Parliament and the President of the EU Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, said that ratification should continue among the member states. Already the talk is of how to get around the Irish decision or, as before, to re-run the vote in Eire hoping for a ‘yes’ next time.
They, (heads of State) just don’t get it; it is just this lack of democracy in the EU that accounts for a large part of the rejection of both the Treaty and the similar proposed Constitution. The EU citizens who have been allowed to express their wish via the ballot box have said no; that is democracy, live with it, accept it and move on.
The task of a leader is to find ways to take the people where THEY wish to go and NOT to drag the people where the leaders desire to go.
Although all the votes have not yet been counted as I write, it seems certain that the people of Eire have given a ‘NO’ to the EU Treaty. This treaty is all but the same as the proposed Constitution rejected in a vote by France and Holland and on which we in the UK were promised a vote and were then denied.
In many ways I am in favour of the EU, on economic and social co-operation, free trade, unrestricted travel between member states and a more effective combined voice on such matters as Global warming and the environment. Together we are a powerful force in combating human rights abuses and in providing aid when needed in the developing world.
The one big drawback for me is that the EU is in no way democratic. It is argued that I can vote for my MEP and it’s true, I can indeed vote for a representative who has a high salary but virtually no power. Real decisions are taken by the Council of Ministers. I think it was Tony Benn who said something like “I can’t support anyone who I can’t vote out” and that is the trouble with the EU, we can’t vote out those with the power. I am also opposed to Europe increasing it’s military expenditure which is included in the amended treaty.
The Irish have written into their constitution that no major changes can take place without the consent of the people and it is that enshrined piece of democracy that has saved the people of Europe from having this, all but in name, Constitution forced upon them.
Three cheers and a pint of Guinness for every Irish NO voter I say.