Monday 26 September 2016

The millionaire who made a fortune out of Brexit

Just watched BBC-2’s Brexit; A Very British Coup. The duplicity of the Brexiters is clear to see.

The Tories, like Gove, Johnson and Fox, are under orders to have nothing to do with what their party supposedly sees as Nigel Farage’s irresponsible and incendiary campaign. But in fact, they are in touch with him the whole time, and when a story starts running that if Boris gets to be PM, he’ll offer the UKIP leader a seat in his cabinet, the blonde bombshell does nothing to deny it.

As for Labour Brexiter Gisela Stuart, she says she considers Farage so loathsome, she will never share a platform with him. But when it becomes clear that his anti-immigrant approach can save the Leave campaign, she, er, shares a platform with him.

Another Brexit campaigner is the hedge fund boss, Crispin Odey. The Leave vote sent the pound plummeting – bad news for the rest of us because it cut the value of our homes, savings, pensions, wages etc by 10 per cent or more. But it was good news for Mr Odey. He made £200 million out of sterling’s collapse. Another example of how Brexit was a blow for the rich elite against ordinary people.

But perhaps the most revealing moment in the programme was when disgraced former defence secretary, now leading Brexiter, Liam Fox was asked what would happen after a Leave vote. It was plain he neither knew nor cared. And doesn’t it show?

Sunday 18 September 2016

Brexit: a lesson from literature

Another book I read on my holidays was Snow by the Turkish Nobel prize winning novelist, Orhan Pamuk. 

Published in 2004, it tells the story of a coup in the city of Kars, mounted by a demagogic but rather past-it actor. Pamuk writes about how local people support him because they believe he will stop immigrants coming in, working for low wages and stealing their jobs.

A lot of folk in Kars are disappointed with life, and different people have different views of the land of milk and honey that will follow the coup. Some think it will end immigration, others that the unlicensed slaughter of animals will be stopped; others still that corrupt politicians and business people will be called to account.

They do not understand that those mounting the coup do not have the slightest interest in these things, and just want to stop political parties they dislike from winning an upcoming election. In the end, the coup fails.

* Fact. Leading Brexiter Boris Johnson used to campaign unsuccessfully for Turkey to be admitted to the EU. Then he discovered he was anti-EU, and started to say it would be a very bad thing for Turkey to be let in, claiming this was about to happen, even though he knew it wasn't.

Saturday 17 September 2016

Brexitwatch: Hinkley Point: 'take control' means lose control cont'd

I forecast a month ago ( that post-Brexit, Thresea May would find she had no option but to continue with Hinkley Point in spite of fears about national security and the colossal electricity price it will bring:

'Another foreign-owned enterprise is Hinkley Point nuclear power station. It looks as though Theresa May would dearly love to cancel it because of the eye-watering price for electricity it commits us to paying, but, the Chinese are major investors, and they have made it clear that if it does not go ahead, they will be severely displeased.

As the Brexiters’ ‘plan’ involves us cosying up to people like the Chinese to replace the trading partners in Europe we are turning our back on, it will be interesting to see how much ‘control’ they dare exercise over Hinkley Point.' 

And now that we have spat in the face of our European allies, Ms May did indeed decide we dare not upset the Chinese. Here's the story:

* A review of my book Flood: Nature and Culture that I have just found -

Friday 16 September 2016

Tristan da Cunha - the volcano that emptied an island

On holiday, I read HervĂ© Bazin’s Les bienheureux de la desolation (which appeared in English as Tristan) – his novel about the volcanic eruption on the island of Tristan da Cunha, a remote British overseas territory in the South Atlantic, in 1961 and its aftermath.

It tells of how a violent eruption of Queen Mary’s Peak at the centre of the island forced the entire population of 264 to flee to the UK.

There was a strong collective spirit on Tristan, with a belief that no one should raise himself up above anyone else, but life was hard, and the British authorities thought that once the islanders experienced the greater comforts of life in England, they would want to stay.

In fact, many rejected what they saw as the materialism and emptiness of modern British life, and when the government held a ballot a couple of years later, the islanders voted 148 to 5 to return. Most of them did.

They adopted some of the new things they had seen in England, but live television did not arrive until 2001, and there is still no mobile phone coverage. Tristan’s population has barely grown, now standing at 266.

Bazin’s book appeared in 1970, and is seen by some as a comment on the misgivings about ‘progress’ which had helped to foment the French riots of 1968.