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A Suffolk sortie

The Sage of Kettering and I have been on another trip, not to some distant, warm, European setting, but a distinctly chilly Suffolk on a bright early Spring day. Here is my account of our trip to an oft-overlooked corner of England and a dip into the past, focusing on the damage done by the iconoclasts. I am indebted beyond measure to the wonderful Suffolk churches site for inspiration on what to see, and links to pictures.

The first stop was a quick look at a proper windmill, unfortunately under repair, the Post Mill at Saxtead. So much more attractive than the hideous electric-powered windmills that clutter the landscape, sucking up subsidies and slowing down the wind.


Next stop, the focus of our trip, Framlingham Castle, a series of towers with no inner keep, but it does contain an old Poorhouse. Noted as the place where Mary Tudor was when she was proclaimed Queen after the tumult of Edward VI’s death, and she then went on to make her mark with an unwise marriage and her trademark of barbecuing Bishops.

The walls of the castle are impressively high, with an excellent ditch.


Around the towers, there are Tudor chimneys, allowing some local heating.

The castle does not have a keep inside it, it is just a wall with a series of towers. The space inside was used to build a poorhouse.

And in the Poorhouse is a local museum, with a fine collection of curious, including this tribute to General Pershing and his Crusaders.

The Sage decided to try out the headgear, it might be useful with canvassing with local elections coming up.


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“If Britain leaves Europe, we will become a renegade without economic power”

I just wanted to share this chance-found five year old Observer editorial because it is so gloriously apocalyptic: “If Britain leaves Europe, we will become a renegade without economic power”

Conservative Eurosceptics will be delighted. For them, membership of the EU has contributed to Britain’s protracted depression. Echoing the defeated Tea Party in the United States, they offer Britain a prospectus of becoming like Hong Kong. Minimal protections in the workplace; the chance to develop ourselves as a tax haven;

Sounds great! Alas, not all my countrymen share this inspiring vision of our post-Brexit future, but at least we’re out.

to become Europe’s economic and political renegade, imagining that the EU will be perfectly happy to accept unfair and unregulated competition. To believe this as the route to economic salvation is fanciful indeed.

Instead, it will be a disaster at every level. Britain’s mass car industry will head to low-cost countries that have remained in the EU. Much other manufacturing will follow; Airbus production will migrate to Germany and France. Already, there is massive damage. It was partly because Germany now anticipates Britain leaving the EU that Berlin vetoed BAe’s deal with the defence giant EADS. It did not want Europe’s defence industry to be concentrated in a non-EU member. The financial services industry will be regulated on terms set in Brussels and be powerless to resist. British farmers, who have prospered under the Common Agricultural Policy, will find they become dependent on whatever mean-spirited British system of farm support that replaces it. Farms will survive by industrial farming, devastating the beloved English countryside.

Tax avoidance and evasion will reach crippling levels as our economy becomes increasingly wholly owned by foreign multinationals that make tax avoidance in Britain central to their business strategy. No Eurosceptic ever complains about the selling of Britain to foreigners, a much greater constraint on our sovereignty than Brussels. Our fiscal and monetary policy will shadow that of the European authorities for fear of an attack on sterling if we do not.

We will be become subcontractor to the world with zero economic sovereignty, a bits-and-pieces economy offering low-paid, transient work to a public unprotected by any kind of social contract because of the disappearance of our tax base.

The best in Britain know this – most in the leadership teams of our main political parties including the Tory party, directors in our top companies, our cultural leaders, our trade union leaders, our universities and some of our public intellectuals. Yet collectively they are silent, bullied and cowed by the overwhelming media might of the Eurosceptics and losing heart because of the single currency crisis. Yet the EU is putting in place mechanisms for the euro’s survival and even its prospering – a rescue and bail-out mechanism, a banking union, closer fiscal co-ordination and more political collaboration. The EU, the euro and the single currency will be here in a decade’s time – our continent’s instruments for managing globalisation and the challenges of the 21st century. We can be the renegade at the margins or playing our part in one of the great projects of our time. Those who believe in Europe need to start speaking out – and urgently.

The government of Romania versus the Adamescu family

Last Wednesday, I attended a meeting at the Frontline Club, which is near Paddington Station in west London. The meeting was devoted to the memory of the great Romanian businessman and freedom-championing newspaper owner Dan Adamescu, and the danger now facing Dan’s son Alexander Adamescu. Some friends of mine are also Friends of Alexander Adamescu, and this is me trying to help them.

Encouraged by the organisers, I took photos at that meeting, photos of very variable quality, because of my woeful inexperience in what for me were very imperfect lighting conditions. But, I hope that the best of them may be of some use to the cause, and assist Alexander Adamescu’s friends in stirring up more media attention.

The cause being that Dan Adamescu was, just over one year ago, imprisoned to death, so to speak, by the government of Romania, and that the government of Romania has for some time now been trying to do something similar to Dan’s son Alexander, after he complained what was being done to his father.

Here is a picture of the big picture of the late Dan Adamescu that presided over the meeting, beneath which sat Alexander Adamescu, who spoke at the meeting:

As you can see, I did a bit of photomanipulation there, to make it clearer what Alexander Adamescu looks like.

Alexander Adamescu now lives in London with his wife (who also spoke most eloquently about Dan Adamescu) and young family. But the government of Romania wants the British government to hand Alexander over to them, so that they can inflict upon him the same sort of parody of justice that they inflicted upon his father. Their instrument of choice to accomplish this is the European Arrest Warrant.

→ Continue reading: The government of Romania versus the Adamescu family

The Parable of the Man of Many New Words

The teacher told the crowd a parable. In a village in the old South in the year 1866, there were several men who had owned slaves, and fought for the confederacy, and been forced to free their slaves, all of them unwillingly, some bitterly so. And there was also in that village a man who had repented of slavery and freed his slaves many, many years before, and had fought for the union, and so returned to that village with their authority and commanded the freeing of all the others’ slaves. And there came to that village a man of many new words. And he said to the man who had freed his slaves long before, “You deplorable sinner. You have owned slaves, therefore you are vile, and you have used force upon these others, therefore you are vile, so you must wear sackcloth and ashes and cringe before these others; and though you repent thus all your days, which I shall make as short as I can, yet you will never be cleansed, you will never be forgiven.” (Except that the man of many new words said this with his many new words, not as I have told it to you.) And he said to the other men, “You have been terribly wronged by that deplorable man. You have no power therefore you can do no wrong and he has used power over you – wrongfully, since he in his past has done evil, and I tell you he still does evil this day and every day. Therefore you must hate him with all your heart and all your mind and all your strength.” (Except that this too he said using his many new words, not as I have told it to you.)

Afterwards, the disciples asked the teacher to explain the parable. He told them the men who fought for the confederacy represented the non-European cultures of the world, all of whom had at times been much enslaved and at other times had done much enslaving, and had sold and bought and owned those they themselves enslaved, and also others. The man who fought for the union represented the English-speaking culture that long ago had been much enslaved, and later had themselves bought and sold and owned slaves (more than some, fewer than others), and then had repented of slavery and made it rare in the world. The man of many new words was the attitude that praises all the cultures that were forced to free their slaves, especially those that were most bitterly unwilling to do so, and hates the only one that freed them by choice.

The disciples asked the teacher why he had not spoken this plainly to the crowd. “If I had done that”, he said, “the men of many new words would have interrupted me before my first sentence was done – and if I had then rebuked them roundly, they would have arrested me for hate speech. (Also, they would have pretended to see a likeness in me to Donald Trump!) But because it is their absurdity to see the ex-confederates in that village as like their enemies, not like their proteges, they did not notice my meaning.”

“But”, replied the disciples, “they’re still not noticing – and they’re still inventing new words.”

The miracle of 1918

Early in 1918 the Earl of Derby, War Minister, bet David Lloyd George, Prime Minister, 100 cigars to 100 cigarettes that the war would be over within the year. Lloyd George eagerly accepted.

He had good reason to. The Allies’ prospects did not look good. Russia was in chaos. Italy had suffered defeat at Caporetto. France had only just recovered from the Nivelle Offensive and the subsequent mutinies. America appeared to be doing little. Only Britain had an effective army in the field and while it had prevented the Germans from launching an all-out attack on the weakened French there was no decisive or significant victory it could point to.

Initially, with the combination of a predicted barrage and tanks Cambrai had looked like a stunning success. But when the Germans counter-attacked the Allies ended up with less territory than they had started with. It looked like a stalemate.

At home, although the U-boat campaign had failed to bring Britain to her knees its impact was being felt. While only sugar was rationed, there was a whole panoply of other restrictions such as price controls, bans on hoarding, standard loaves and standard meals. There were sporadic shortages of such essentials as potatoes and matches.

About the only bright spot was the Middle East where both Jerusalem and Baghdad were in British hands.

As if things weren’t bad enough already, Lloyd George made his own, unique contribution. Convinced that the Western Front was a stalemate he kept troops back at home. He then agreed that the British army should take over more of the line from the French. So, the British army was being asked to do more with less at a time when the enemy was being re-inforced with divisions from the East.

And yet, Lloyd George would still lose his bet. Spanish influenza might have had something to do with it.

The Times 17 January 1918 p6. Notice that bearers had to register with a retailer. Why? one wonders.

The Netherlands and the oil crisis

I have a dim memory of a TV news report on how the 1973 oil crisis was affecting Holland. I can’t remember the specifics but it was something along the lines that the crisis was much worse in Holland than elsewhere. At some later date I got the idea that the Dutch had been selling arms to the Israelis and the Arab oil embargo introduced after the Yom Kippur War was much more strictly enforced on Holland than elsewhere.

As I got older (I was very young in 1973) this made less and less sense. How, I thought, do you control what happens to oil you’ve sold once it has been put on a ship?

For some reason this week I was reminded of this dim and distant memory and decided to do some duckduckgoing. I discovered that someone has written a book on the subject. This is what the rubric says:

The Netherlands played a remarkable role during the October War and the oil crisis of 1973. In secret, the Dutch government sent a substantial amount of ammunition and spare parts to Israel. The Dutch supported Israel also politically. Within the EC they vetoed a more pro-Arab policy. The Arab oil producing countries punished The Netherlands by imposing an oil embargo. The embargo against the Netherlands was intimidating. The Netherlands was dependent on Arab oil. The embargo seemed to threaten the Dutch position in the international oil sector. The government introduced several measures to reduce oil consumption. However, within two months it became clear that oil continued to arrive in Rotterdam. There was in fact no oil shortage in the Netherlands.

Oh.

Some hippies on a road on a “car-free” Sunday in Holland, made “car-free” because the government was worried about oil supplies.

Would you have convicted?

I present a couple of cases from a century ago where there is little doubt about the guilt of the accused.

In the first a soldier finds out that his wife is having an affair while he is away. He shoots her dead.

In the second a soldier suffers shell shock and it sent home. He acts in an erratic and frequently violent manner. His wife kills their son and attempts to kill their daughter and herself.

In both cases the jury returns a verdict of “not guilty”.

Mongolia, the EU’s blacklisted tax haven

It has been quite a grim century for Mongolia, many decades under the Soviet yoke after the ‘Mad Baron’ von Ungern-Sternberg managed to take over in the chaos after WW1, and write his own grim chapter, and still its capital is called ‘Red Hero’, but despite that name, Mongolia has got itself into the EU’s bad books, not by human rights abuses, but by a lack of them as a tax haven.

To determine whether a country is a “non-cooperative jurisdiction” the EU index measures the transparency of its tax regime, tax rates and whether the tax system encourages multinationals to unfairly shift profits to low tax regimes to avoid higher duties in other states. In particular these include tax systems that offer incentives such as 0% corporate tax to foreign companies.

The scoundrels, the shame of it, not taxing someone!

EU members have been left to decide what action to take against the offenders. Ministers ruled out imposing a withholding tax on transactions to tax havens as well as other financial sanctions.

OK, how about undercutting or matching them for starters? That would, actually, hurt them.

For some reason, the ‘charity’ Oxfam thinks it is entitled to chip in.

The UK-based charity Oxfam last week published its own list of 35 countries that it said should be blacklisted.

Are Oxfam’s shops taxed (or business-rated) in the same way as their commercial neighbours? Can they explain how sanctions (so useful against South Africa under Apartheid) improve the lot of the poor? Since sanctions harm, the corollary is that free trade doesn’t, and yet… But I digress.

Let’s hope that Mongolia shows the same defiance before its accusers as the Baron von Ungern-Sternberg did when facing a People’s Court, from ‘Setting the East Ablaze’ by Peter Hopkirk.

‘Showing no signs of fear at the fate awaiting him, the baron challenged the right of a ‘people’s court’ to try him. He told his Bolshevik accusers: ‘For a thousand years Ungerns have given other people orders. We have never taken orders from anyone. I refuse to accept the authority of the working class’.

Then they shot him.

The full blacklist is:

The 17 blacklisted territories are:
American Samoa, Bahrain, Barbados, Grenada, Guam, South Korea, Macau, The Marshall Islands,Mongolia, Namibia, Palau, Panama, Saint Lucia, Samoa, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates.

and conceding the point that taxes create poverty:

The EU made exceptions for countries faced with natural disasters such as hurricanes, and put the process temporarily on hold.

Better late than never

The Times 26 November 1917

Reminder: The US declared war on 6 April 1917.

Early Day Motion 392

From Hansard:

Early Day Motion 392

JOHN PILGER AND KOSOVO

Session: 2004-05
Date tabled: 14.12.2004
Primary sponsor: Smith, Llew
Sponsors:

That this House welcomes John Pilger’s column for the New Statesman issue of 13th December, reminding readers of the devastating human cost of the so-termed ‘humanitarian’ invasion of Kosovo, led by NATO and the United States in the Spring of 1999, without any sanction of the United Nations Security Council; congratulates John Pilger on his expose of the fraudulent justifications for intervening in a ‘genocide’ that never really existed in Kosovo; recalls President Clinton’s Secretary of Defense William Cohen claimed, entirely without foundation, that ‘we’ve now seen about 100,000 military-aged [Albanian] men missing…..they may have been murdered’ and that David Scheffer, the US ambassador-at-large for war crimes, announced with equal inaccuracy that as many as ‘225,000 ethnic Albanian men aged between 14 and 59’ may have been killed; recalls that the leader of a Spanish forensic team sent to Kosovo returned home, complaining angrily that he and his colleagues had become part of ‘a semantic pirouette by the war propaganda machines, because we did not find one mass grave’; further recalls that one year later, the International War Crimes Tribunal, a body de facto set up by NATO, announced that the final count of bodies found in Kosovo’s ‘mass graves’ was 2,788; believes the pollution impact of the bombing of Kosovo is still emerging, including the impact of the use of depleted uranium munitions; and calls on the Government to provide full assistance in the clean up of Kosovo.

(Emphasis added.)

Signatures include:

Name: Corbyn, Jeremy. Party: Labour Party. Constituency: Islington North. Date Signed: 15.12.2004.

Name: McDonnell, John. Party: Labour Party. Constituency: Hayes & Harlington. Date Signed:
15.12.2004.

From yesterday’s Guardian:

Ratko Mladić convicted of war crimes and genocide at UN tribunal

The former Bosnian Serb commander Ratko Mladić, nicknamed the ‘butcher of Bosnia’, has been sentenced to life imprisonment after being convicted of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

More than 20 years after the Srebrenica massacre, Mladic was found guilty at the United Nations-backed international criminal tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague of 10 offences involving extermination, murder and persecution of civilian populations.

Edit: In the comments Jacob asks, “I was wondering what the massacre perpetrated by a Bosnian Serb in Bosnia had to do with Kosovo…” Fair point; in my efforts to make a Drudge-style snarky juxtaposition I failed to make the link clear. Given that we are talking about mass murders rather than day-to-day political point-scoring, I should have done so.

The link is that Mladic’s war crimes in Bosnia were part of the Yugoslav War(s), in which Slobodan Milosevic played a notorious role, which included egging on the Bosnian Serbs as well as his own crimes in Kosovo. The British Hard Left turned a blind eye to it all.

My intention was to point up how tawdry EDM 392, and by extension the whole business of soft-pedalling the crimes in former Yugoslavia, looks now in the light of yesterday’s conviction of Mladic.

Under socialism, the crows will not fly away

In the comments to my earlier post about the West Indies Federation, Bruce relayed something his schoolteacher once told him:

Question to the class:

There are ten crows sitting on a wire.

You shoot one. (This was back when guns, shooters and shooting had not been totally criminalized by the ruling-class sociopaths).

How many are left?

Nine?

That would be the answer expected from most kids.

Correct answer?

NONE!

Crows, unlike most of the lamestream media, academics and politicians, are NOT STUPID.

To which Niall Kilmartin replied:

Bruce (November 23, 2017 at 8:11 am), there is a socialist version of your ‘crows’ story.

At one of the glumly festive parties Stalin used to inflict on his politburo cronies, he told the story of how, while he was in exile in Siberia under Tsarism, he was out skiing and saw several crows perched on a branch. He shot a couple then skied back for more ammunition, returned and shot the rest. After he left the room, Beria said, “He’s lying” (understandably the others were cautious in responding, fearing a provocation). Conquest, in his biography of Stalin, charitably suggests the story may have been just a Siberian version of the old US Western “tall tale’, told for entertainment as a whopper not intended to be believed. It has also been suggested that the crows’ feet were frozen to the branch and Stalin for once in his life was telling the truth.

Whatever the truth of it, the moral is clear: under socialism, the crows will not fly away.

Far be it for me to say that our Shadow Chancellor is taking tips from Stalin, but that line did remind me of what I heard him saying on an audio clip posted last week by Guido Fawkes:

McDonnell now sure there won’t be a run on the pound.

John McDonnell has changed his tune from Labour conference […] Now he insists “there’s never going to be a run on the pound” and “of course” he isn’t planning capital controls if it happens. Only a few years ago McDonnell used to openly threaten the City with capital controls if they opposed his policies.

“One from ten leaves nought”

In writing this post I do not attempt to draw any particular moral, merely to share an episode of history I found out about by chance which has some incongruous parallels with the present day.

Quoting the Wikipedia article on the West Indies Federation:

Three member states were proposed as hosts for the capital city of the federation: Jamaica, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago. Earlier in the federal negotiations the general opinion had been that the capital should be one of the smaller islands so that the capital would be in a neutral position to the larger territories and it would be able to inject some buoyancy into one of the (then) poorer economies.

The West Indies Federation had an unusually weak federal structure. For instance, its provinces were not contained in a single customs union. Thus, each province functioned as a separate economy, complete with tariffs, largely because the smaller provinces were afraid of being overwhelmed by the large islands’ economies. Also, complete freedom of movement within the Federation was not implemented, as the larger provinces were worried about mass migration from the smaller islands. In this sense, the current European Union can be said to have implemented a more unified economic space than the West Indian attempt.

Nor could the federal government take its component states to task. The initial federal budget was quite small, limiting the federal government’s ability to use its financial largesse as a carrot. It was dependent upon grants from the United Kingdom and from its member states. The provincial budgets of Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago were both larger than the federal budget. This led to repeated requests for those states to provide greater financing to the federal government. These requests were not well received, as Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago together already contributed 85 percent of the federal revenue, in roughly equal portions.

For many Jamaicans it appeared that the Federation would then just hamper their development and movement towards independence.

As a result, the Bustamante-led Jamaica Labour Party (the local component of the West Indian DLP) successfully forced Manley to hold a referendum in September 1961 on political secession from the Federation. It passed, with 54% of the vote, despite the opposition of Manley, the province’s Chief Minister at the time.

On January 14, 1962, the People’s National Movement (the Williams-led Trinidad component of the WIFLP) passed a resolution rejecting any further involvement with the Federation. Williams himself stated that “one from ten leaves nought”—in other words, without Jamaica, no Federation was possible. Trinidad and Tobago became independent on August 31, 1962.

Without Trinidad and Jamaica, the remaining “Little Eight” attempted to salvage some form of a West Indian Federation, this time centred on Barbados. However, these negotiations ultimately proved fruitless. Without its two largest states, the Federation was doomed to financial insolvency.