Archive for the 'Europe' Category
He’s back –that strutting Russian officer, with his bullying sidekicks, last seen in Budapest in 1956, is now in Ukraine and doing exactly the same. Of course, as in Hungary, he would claim that he has been “invited” in to defend the country against Fascist mobs but it’s all lies. He’s there because Ukrainians have dared to aspire to glance westward rather than remain a supplicant of Moscow.
In 1956 realpolitik dictated that we stood by as the Russian tanks moved into Hungary to crush the uprising – but we did have the good grace to weep for those brave freedom fighters as they were imprisoned and tortured and executed by the grim legions of Soviet terror. Indeed, throughout the west those tears were followed by a sense of shame and guilt that we just watched as they drowned.
But in 2014 there are few tears and little, if any, sense of shame. The liberal left is mute, as always in the face of Russian aggression, incensed, no doubt that the Ukrainian protestors should dare to go around toppling statues of Lenin. But what is far worse is the attitude on the right. “Russian sphere of interest” is the current weasel phrase. Until a couple of decades ago Ukraine had been a colony of the Russian Empire for centuries, we hear from many “conservatives”, so what else should they expect if they annoy Moscow. It’s like getting an axe buried in your head in the East End in 1960 because you had a few beers too many and started badmouthing the Krays – you deserved it because you were STUPID….
Or, if “armed men” are swaggering around Crimea pulling down Ukrainian flags well isn’t that the same as what happened in Kiev?
Actually – no. Power didn’t shift in Kiev because the demonstrators, armed to the teeth with assault weapons, stormed into parliament and arrested President Viktor Yanukovych and his ministers. There was violence and there were bullets and scores of people killed and wounded. But the shootings were ordered by Yanukovych and the violence instigated by his security apparatus – and when the bullets failed to intimidate the crowds his authority just melted away just as it did in Petrograd in 1917 and Tehran in 1979. The government disintegrated and the police disappeared from the streets.
There was no putsch – just a power vacuum that the anti Yanukovych elements began to fill.
Still the myth of an armed insurrection has grown legs, conveniently reinforced by the Russians with references to gangsters, neo Nazis and anti-Semites. Standard agitprop in the best soviet mould, naturally and total bullshit. But the essence of the tragedy is not Putin’s lies – as a former KGB hack it came with his mother’s milk.
The most shocking aspect of the whole affair is how so many on the right are gloating over Putin’s actions. He has become, with his anti gay and anti Islamic rhetoric the antithesis to the gelded softness of the western elite. He rides a horse, Obama rides a golf cart. He hunts animals, Cameron strokes them. He vows vengeance against Islamic terrorists, the BBC worries about Islamophobia.
Our emasculated, feminised and over sentimental me-me-me society makes many of us uneasy. But a corrupt self serving regime led by a posturing bully like Putin who feeds on grievance is no substitute for the rule of law.
Realpolitik once again demands that there is little we can do to protect Ukraine from Putin’s bullying. But for crying out loud don’t bolster the man’s ego by gleefully supporting Russia’s right to strut imperiously into anywhere that once fell under the writ of tsar or commissar.
You would have thought that we had learned that lesson with that other gangster in in 1938.
Do you still believe David Cameron – or do you, like me, suspect a con?
Maybe this Polish politician has let the cat out of the bag and the European political elite has been given the inside story.
Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski:Nick Clegg told me this afternoon it was extremely unlikely Britain would vote to leave EU #newsnight
— BBC Newsnight (@BBCNewsnight) May 29, 2013
They really think we are stupid. They believe their own agitprop that the the surge of support for UKIP is just a nine day wonder, a brief blip of protest that will disappear as the spin merchants and their media pimps attempt to switch the narrative. Tory Chairman Grant Shapps, we are told, has written a letter to local activists. William Hague might soon be wheeled out to assure the doubtful that all is well. Samantha Cameron should make herself available to secure the female vote.
They hold us in contempt – but they are rattled. Keep up the pressure and we can beat them.
‘It would be nice sometimes when you go into a British hotel if the receptionist was British. ‘We need to give our young people to have the skills and the opportunities to get those jobs. ‘There is a hotel in my constituency quite often it’s not been able to employ locally, it has ended up employing people from Estonia and Latvia, often people from Estonia and Latvia have so much get up and go they’ve got up and gone.’
That’s not only true about hotels around Bryant’s Welsh constituency – hotels and pubs around West Sussex and Surrey are often staffed by Estonians and other East Europeans. But it’s not about low wages as some of the comments at the DM piece have opined. The key is in Bryant’s last few words
“people from Estonia and Latvia have so much get up and go”
Fact is Estonians and other East Europeans are not afraid of hard work and are also cheerful and helpful whereas some Brits…….
Sorry, Mr Bryant, I’d rather be served by an Estonian barmaid any day……
h/t for barmaid here…
The Pseudo “Revolutionary” Who Wants To Dance On Thatcher’s Grave – What Would Erika Have Said If She Was Still Alive?
This is Romany Blythe, the drama teacher who encouraged everyone to piss on Margaret Thatcher’s grave. Note her mock heroic stance in this picture. Like all these ersatz revolutionaries she is a poseur, pretending to be a freedom fighter in a world of comfort and tolerance. The red flag with the soviet hammer and sickle is a fashion statement.
This is, or was, Erika. She was a young student who was a real revolutionary. She and thousands of other brave Hungarians came out onto the streets of Budapest in 1956 to demonstrate against the communists who ran the puppet regime that governed Hungary on behalf of the Russian Soviet Union. She holds a gun because the regime’s secret police tried to break the demonstrations. When the Russian Red Army, flying the hammer and sickle flag carried by Romany Blythe, moved in to crush the uprising, Erika and her friends fought against their tanks with rifles, sub machine guns and petrol bombs.
The Red Army’s hammer and sickle was triumphant and a new puppet communist regime brought back the secret police, the execution blocks and the prison camps. Erika was dead, killed in the last hours of the fighting while trying to help her wounded comrades. The dead hand of communist dictatorship gripped Hungary and the rest of Eastern Europe once again.
Western governments accepted the iron grip of Communism in Eastern Europe and Russia as a fact of life to be accommodated. Many voices in western academic and cultural circles, being of a Marxist bent, celebrated it.
Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan were the first western leaders to publicly denounce those communist regimes as evil and oppressive and, by implication, illegitimate. At a time when internal stresses and strains were beginning to distort the social and economic fabric of these tyrannies the impact of external condemnation from such influential voices were important factors in causing the red regimes to implode.
And in October 1989, 33 years after the uprising, Hungary became a free multi party democracy. How sad that Erika could not have been in the crowds celebrating that moment but, no doubt ,her spirit, and those of all those other courageous freedom fighters who died with her, was smiling down from above.
What would Erika have made of Romany Blythe’s theatrical posturing and ghoulish disrespect of Margaret Thatcher?
Not much, I suspect.
Probably with as much contempt as Lech Walesa and those of his Solidarity comrades who had welcomed her to Gdansk in 1988 when it was still under communist rule.
Those on the Left who still probably regard Thatcher as a hate-figure, have either forgotten the history of the Cold War or possibly never understood that Communism meant the virtual enslavement of millions of people in the East European countries, who loathed its ideology as much as Margaret Thatcher herself. It is simply not possible to imagine Thatcher visiting Russia in the 1930s, like certain Left-wing useful idiots from Britain, and being taken in by Stalin’s propaganda machine. Ordinary East Europeans took a different view of her to her critics in this country. For them she symbolised opposition to Communism; indeed she was given a tumultuous welcome by the shipyard workers in Gdansk when she visited them. She wept at the sight. The shipyard workers would have been puzzled to learn of the refusal of Oxford University, her old alma mater and one of the most prestigious universities in the world, to give her an honorary degree.
Amen to that, say I – and I am sure the spirit of Erika would agree….
So the Cypriots have given Angela Merkel and the EU the finger – instead they have turned to Putin’s Russia
Cyprus turned to Russia for help on Tuesday night after the country’s parliament overwhelmingly rejected a tax on the deposits of bank savers.
Despite warnings from the EU not to touch the Russians with a barge pole Cyprus is looking for help from the KGB men who now rule Russia and have been using Cyprus as a “helpful” venue for
laundering investing their hard earned “profits”
It could be seen as a smart negotiating ploy – calling the EU bluff. I would imagine there might even be a bit of panic in Brussels because if just one Eurozone member decides to go it alone politicians in Athens, Rome and Madrid will start having second thoughts and the whole Euro farce might start to unravel.
Prepare to add another notch for UKIP…
Claims of bribes, kickbacks and false accounting at Italy’s oldest bank, Monte dei Paschi (MPS) based in Tuscany – a bank closely associated with the left wing Democratic Party which hoped to win next month’s elections on a pro EU “save the Eurozone” ticket. Indeed until a few days ago it was run by a leading socialist, Giuseppe Mussari
Moreover questions are now being asked about the head of the European Central Bank, Mario Draghi, who was in charge of the Bank of Italy in 2010 back when regulators went through the MPS books and claimed it was all kosher. Draghi is supposed to be the big cheese who will control the revamped Eurozone via the ECB so this brings into question his powers of judgement.
MPS is closely linked with liberal/left elite of Tuscany, the Italian equivalent of the high minds of WaPo/NYT in the US and Guardian/BBC in the UK so Berlusconi (loathed by the left) and other Italian politicians suspicious of EU schemes to prop up the Eurozone are rubbing their hands with glee.
Bribery, corruption and lies from the Italian left? Nothing new in that……
There is a time in politics as well as in all things when one must eat one’s words (or some of them) and give credit where it is due. David Cameron’s speech was a good one, carefully crafted to bring out some home truths without sneering at our European partners as a bunch of Johnny Foreigners smelling of garlic and trying to seduce our women and steal our silver. By offering a straightforward in/out referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU in 2017 on the basis of a negotiated repatriation of certain powers he made a bold, and honest, commitment. There are none of the familiar weasel word which politicians conventionally use when making public promises – “almost certainly”, “certain circumstances”, subject to these conditions”.
There are always voices saying “don’t ask the difficult questions.”
But it’s essential for Europe – and for Britain – that we do because there are three major challenges confronting us today.
First, the problems in the Eurozone are driving fundamental change in Europe.
Second, there is a crisis of European competitiveness, as other nations across the world soar ahead. And third, there is a gap between the EU and its citizens which has grown dramatically in recent years. And which represents a lack of democratic accountability and consent that is – yes – felt particularly acutely in Britain.
For once it was Cameron as Thatcher, not Cameron as Blair.
It‘s a canny move. It might well have for the moment shot the UKIP fox, which had been threatening to bite at Tory heels – though I suspect that puttting a bet on predicting Nigel Farage’s political demise would not be the wisest of moves.Indeed one could argue that Cameron’s offer has been forced on him by the impact of Farage And UKIP. However Dave has left Labour in complete disarray. As for the Liberal Democrats, who in 2007 were supporting a referendum, they are busily backpedalling, calling the idea unhelpful.
This must be sweet music to Tory ears – those champions of the “people” Clegg and Milliband boxing themselves into a corner and saying actually we, the great and the good, not the public, should decide these matters.
The fact that political has beens like Mandelson, Clarke and Heseltine are against a referendum is clearly a badge of honour considering that all three were once fervent advocates of joining the Euro. Add the French and President Obama to the mix and it must be drinks all round.
The only voice that matters in all this is the one that emanates from Berlin and Cameron must be pleased that Angela Merkel is not going negative on the idea of having a second look at the power relationship between the EU and member states.
Maybe, just maybe, Dave might have a bit of backbone after all……
Heard this one? “An American, a German and a banker were in the EU bar and told a Brit he couldn’t leave….”
Well, just when the great and the good were hoping that UKIP might be losing momentum because Dave was going to make His Great Speech about having a vote on renegotiating that EU directive on turnips rather than a straightforward in/out referendum the genie jumps out of the lamp and grants Nigel Farage and his party three golden opportunities.
The speech is still some way off but already dire warnings have been issued by “business leaders” (bankers – yeah, they have proven to be so upright honest and businesslike) – CBI (aka big global corporations) – and assorted suits. “We will lose out on exports to the EU” they cry. Excuse me? Presumably EU countries buy our stuff because it meets their needs, not out of charity for the UK.
Then some smooth US State Department poobah says that President Obama wants us to stay in the EU as a bagman for the USA since the French and the Germans, who actually run the EU, have never been fond of America. Also, of course, Obama and his henchmen are still wedded and glued to that old 1950s shibboleth of regional superstates – after all they are working hard to undermine the powers of the individual US states and upgrade federal power (Obamacare, Stimulus, gun control etc). A Washington/Brussels Axis would be so much easier to manage with no pesky politicians upsetting the apple carts – just the bureaucrats and diplomats codifying and making deals in cosy conferences.
Then, of course, the entry of the ultimate cartoon character, the German..
Gunther Krichbaum, chairman of Germany’s European affairs committee and acting as Angela Merkel’s ventriloquist’s dummy, used a visit to Britain to condemn Dave’s referendum tactics. “Ve distrust allowing ze voters to have any say in ze way ze EU is run. Ve know vot ze people vant much better than zey do und ve vill not be blackmailed into renegotiating ze EU Turnip Directive” (well he didn’t actually say that but it sums up the gist of his blathering)
With the carpet being pulled away from under Dave’s feet his Master Plan (kick in/out into the long grass by waffling on about renegotiation) is already looking like last weekend’s pizza. Several of the Tory government’s big guns have noticed UKIP snapping at their heels in recent polls and are leaning towards a referendum on in/out rather than one on a cobbled together list of renegotiated powers.
Which is why Nigel Farage’s UKIP has been given this good fairy gift. A banker, an American and a German telling us that we shouldn’t even have a referendum on our relationship with the EU? That will make most of us even more determined to demand one – because, oddly enough, what is good for global banks, Barack Obama and Angela Merkel does not always align with what is good for Britain.
Hey, folks – President Obama and his team do not like all this stuff happening in Britain about the rise of UKIP and growing support for the UK getting the hell out of the EU.
They don’t like the Eurosceptic signals being given out by a David Cameron who is very worried that many conservative voters outside the Notting Hill metro elite bubble are abandoning his party and shifting to UKIP.
“It is important to state very clearly that a strong UK in a strong Europe is in America’s national interest,” said a senior US administration official. “We recognise national states but see the EU as a force multiplier.”
Well, Mr President, surprisingly enough we feel that serving America’s interests is not the primary function of any UK government. We would dearly love to have a government whose lodestar was always putting the interests of the British people at the top of it’s agenda
Funny isn’t it that an American administration which has consistently failed to pay due regard to our shared political and cultural traditions should be putting pressure on us to stay in the EU for the sake of the USA.
The EU is a bloated bureaucratic monstrosity, inefficient and corrupt
Maybe that’s why Obama loves it so much….after all he did cut his political teeth in Chicago….