Lessons from History

A time of war and a time for peace – These words, made famous by the Byrds in their 7-single: “Turn! Turn! Turn!” came straight from Ecclesiastes 3:8, but are remarkable similar to Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” 3:17(1) which says: He who knows when he can fight and when he cannot will be victorious.

Sun Tzu wrote this during the Warring States period of Chinese history (403BC-221BC) which ended up with the creation of the earliest Civilization State known to man. We have had our fighting, now is the time for peace. The European Union is Churchill’s unfinished business; indeed, he was one of the first to call for the creation of a ‘United States of Europe’ (given in his speech to the University of Zürich in 1946). – But, how does China look 2,200 years later? They have gone through periods of world exploration & trade, invasion, isolationism, imperialism, communism and back to world trade with astronomic growth; but they still stayed together. They have one language, one army, one currency, one identity – but still have no free trade agreement (between their provinces). They are still extremely sensitive about managing separatism and dissent, just think of: Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, Tibet & the Dalai Lama, Ai Weiwei, the Hui & Uyghur. – The “project” of unifying Europe is not a short-term project. We can expect setbacks and disillusionment during the first 10 or 100 years of peace; we must look to the next 1,000 or 10,000 years. Think of General Patton setting the course of history for the next 1,000 years; or the Japanese cry of banzai – “may your dynasty reign for 10,000 years”. These are the long-term visionaries.

The Pound, the Pfund and the Livra – These are various names for Europe’s first single currency set-up by Charlemagne of the Holy Roman Empire in the 8’th Century; except, in England, King Offa set-up a parallel but equivalent system. The Pound (Value) was made up of 120 silver dinars minted by the Caliphate of Baghdad and stacked as a tower; The Pound (Mass) was defined by the weight of this tower. (A dinar was therefore worth two pennies.) – The symbol £ or the abbreviation lb remind us of the common European standard; and the 12 sides of the new coin remind us of its Islamic roots. – Punishment for clipping (the medieval equivalent of quantitative easing) was amputation of the right hand; more rigorous enforcement by the English may well be why the Pound sterling is more valuable than say the Lira is today. We cannot say that anyone is more supportive than England of a common European currency. – However, it is worth remembering that it is thanks to sharia law and the Caliphate of Baghdad that we’ve got to where we are today.

The Napoleonic Wars – Europe’s history is full of inevitable twists and turns, because the continent is criss-crossed by rivers and mountains that thwart communication, prevent integration and sometimes helped or often hindered trade and military action. (Even late-starter America has surged ahead of us with the help of its Great Plains, Great Lakes and navigable Mississippi.) – But one story is interesting: During the early 19’th Century when Mercantilism and the Guilds (protectionism) where all the rage; Napoleon set-up the Continental System of European protectionism; partly in response to the rise of England as a great sea power; effectively trying to blockade British trade with Europe. He brought Russia into the Continental System by getting them to sign the Treaty of Tilsit. – St. Petersburg society was not impressed; many of whom where Anglophiles, and avid readers of Adam Smith and his new theories of free-trade. The Tilsit Treaty had a devastating effect on Russia, which depended on Britain for trade. Merchants found themselves in abject poverty and the value of the ruble collapsed. – Eventually, Russia broke ranks by allowing “neutral” (British) Ships to use their ports for Export purposes (nobody questioned what they were carrying on the inbound journey). Ignoring the Tilsit Treaty contributed to the French invasion of Russia in 1812, Russian retaliation, the occupation of Paris and the subsequent demise of Napoleon. – Wellington survived Waterloo and spent the next four decades putting a British “spin” on events; but it’s interesting to remember the struggle between protectionism and free trade that lay at the heart of the Napoleonic Wars.

Rise of despotic powers – The rise and fall of the German Third Reich can be divided into three phases: 1) Winning the populist vote in July 1932 on a Nationalist anti-Marxist ticket; 2) consolidating power with the Enabling Act 23 March 1933 which gave the chancellor the right to enact laws without consulting parliament or even limited by the constitution; 3) leaving the world community, in October 1933 Germany withdrew from the League of Nations – eventually democracy could only be restored by external forces. – The rise and fall of South Africa’s Apartheid government can be divided into three phases: 1) Winning the populist vote in June 1948 on a Nationalist and anti-Integration ticket; 2) consolidating power with the Senate Act No 53 which effectively packed the senate with political appointees; 3) leaving the world community, on 31 May 1961 South Africa withdrew from the British Commonwealth in order to become a Republic – eventually democracy could only be restored by external pressure. – What is happening in Britain today: 1) UKIP won the populist vote in the European Parliament on 22 May 2014 on a Nationalist and anti-EU ticket; 2) consolidation of power with the House of Lords Act 1999 excluded hereditary peers, making room for even more political appointees; 3) on 27 March 2017 Theresa May signed the Article 50 notification letter that we would leave the European Union? The amazing thing is that in all cases, a large section of the voting population believed that their government was doing the right thing. Where will this all end?

History is strange and can too easily be interpreted superficially and with an inevitable bias. Why has Europe tried so hard to unite and failed every time? And what is different this time? –

  1. Firstly, everyone must have access to the sea no matter what (we are fortunate in this regard and may not understand others predicament): Russia to the Black Sea; Northern Europe and the Nordic countries through the Greenland-Iceland-UK Gap (which NATO was set-up to deny); the Black Sea countries through the Bosphorus & Dardanelles (deniable by Turkey); the Mediterranean countries through Gibraltar (deniable by the UK); and all through Suez (snatched by Egypt); Brussels is a Sea Port; and even Switzerland has a Navy. We’re in a scrum with our hands at each others throats.
  2. Secondly, everyone needs to be able to be self-sufficient: as an agricultural society, we used to have all we needed, but since we have industrialized, we discover that there are always certain things that we need and that we don’t have. (Russia has no lead, Germany has no nickel, France has no tea, the Low Countries have no mountains, etc.) But working together our chances of survival are better. This translates into things like Food Security, Environment Protection, Climate Change and Population Control; which are best tackled as Europe-wide problems with Europe-wide solutions.
  3. Thirdly, the world is very different now to how it was in the past: our coal mines are exhausted, North Sea oil is coming to an end; we are no longer an Empire with a captive market; we have a tunnel across the Channel and a tunnel through the Alps; we have superb air travel and an integrated railway network right across Europe. We have instant communication by broadcast media, telephone and the internet. Even language barriers are crumbling with increased education and automated translation tools. This stronger infrastructure also gives us improved stability, not only currency stability but also in supply and demand of all sorts of commodities, though we still have a long way to go to reap the full benefits. Stronger communications can also give us better government.
  4. Fourthly, we are living in the age of the Civilization State (the Nation State will soon be as dead as the City State became with the industrial revolution). Great Empires like China, the USA, India, Russia and the Arab world will increasingly be able to push us around. On our own, we’ll be blown about like a reed in the wind; only by standing together with Europe will we be able to maintain our own true identity.
  5. Fifthly is the “threat” of Globalization: issues like Internet Protection (child porn, snuff movies & Jihad recruitment), Tax Evasion (by multi-nationals) and International Crime & Terrorism are far too big for any one country to tackle on its own, but by co-operation across Europe, we stand a far better chance. On the other hand, if you are interested in the “opportunities” of Globalization, notice how the big Technology Companies are all based in California or China. A Unicorn is a company with an IPO of over $1 Billion; how many Unicorns do we have in the UK? Many manufacturing companies are already giving the UK a miss, because it is too small an entity on its own.

With the capabilities of niche products, “Big Data” and extreme industrial leverage businesses are looking towards markets in excess of 100 million; with its 750 million consumers, Europe is just about interesting for industry. However, Adam Smith and the concepts of free-trade are being seriously questioned as we start to experience the limits of growth. We need new economic solutions for a new world future; it’s a common problem, and working within Europe can help.

Timetable leading up to the General Election

  • 3 May at 00:01 – Parliament will be dissolved; any business such as open petitions will be closed prematurely.
  • 4 May at 22:00 – Voting for Kent County Council closes.
  • 11 May at 16:00 – Deadline for nomination as a candidate.
  • 22 May – Last chance to register to vote. You may register on-line by using https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote – this applies to people resident abroad as well. Special conditions apply to Crown Servants, British Council Employees, the Armed Services, Northern Ireland and Welsh speakers; but all may be accessed from this page.
  • 8 June – General Election. All votes, including postal votes must be received by 22:00.

The full timetable as supplied by the Electoral Commission is here:-

Event Working days before poll (deadline if not midnight) Date (deadline if not midnight)
Dissolution of Parliament 25 days Wednesday 3 May
Receipt of writ 24 days Thursday 4 May
Publication of notice of election Not later than 22 days (4pm) Not later than 4pm on Monday 8 May
Delivery of nomination papers From the day after the publication of the notice of election until the sixth day after the date of dissolution Between 10am and 4pm on any working day after publication of notice of election until 4pm on Thursday 11 May
Deadline for delivery of nomination papers 19 days (4pm) 4pm on Thursday 11 May
Deadline for withdrawals of nomination 19 days (4pm) 4pm on Thursday 11 May
Making objections to nomination papers

 

(except for objections on the grounds that an individual candidate may be disqualified under the Representation of the People Act 1981 – see Commission guidance)

On 19 days (10am to 5pm), subject to the following:

 

Between 10 am – 12 noon objections can be made to all delivered nominations

 

Between 12 noon and 5pm objections can only be made to nominations delivered after 4pm, 20 days before the poll

 

 

 

 

Between 10am and 12 noon on Thursday 11 May objections can be made to all delivered nominations

 

Between 12 noon and 5pm on Thursday 11 May objections can only be made to nominations delivered after 4pm on Wednesday 10 May

Deadline for the notification of appointment of election agent 19 days (4pm) 4pm on Thursday 11 May
Publication of statement of persons nominated, including notice of poll and situation of polling stations If no objections: on 19 days (at 5pm)

 

If objection(s) are made: Not before objection(s) are disposed of but not later than 18 days (4pm)

If no objections: at 5pm on Thursday 11 May

 

Objection(s) made: not before objection(s) are disposed of but not later than 4pm on Friday 12 May

Publication of first interim election notice of alteration On 19 days

 

Thursday 11 May
Deadline for receiving applications for registration 12 days Monday 22 May
Deadline for receiving new postal vote and postal proxy applications, and for changes to existing postal or proxy votes 11 days (5pm) 5pm on Tuesday 23 May
Deadline for receiving new applications to vote by proxy (not postal proxy or emergency proxies) 6 days (5pm) 5pm on Wednesday 31 May
Publication of second interim election notice of alteration Between 18 days and 6 days Between Friday 12 May and Wednesday 31 May (inclusive)
Publication of final election notice of alteration 5 days Thursday 1 June
Deadline for notification of appointment  of polling and counting agents 5 days Thursday 1 June
First date that electors can apply for a replacement for lost postal votes 4 days Friday 2 June
Deadline for notification of appointment of sub agents 2 days Tuesday 6 June
Polling day

 

0 (7am to 10pm) 7am to 10pm on Thursday 8 June
Last time for re-issue of spoilt or lost postal votes 0 (5pm) 5pm on Thursday 8 June
Deadline for emergency proxy applications 0 (5pm) 5pm on Thursday 8 June
Last time to alter the register due to clerical error or court appeal 0 (9pm) 9pm on Thursday 8 June
After the declaration of result
Event Deadline Date
Delivery of return as to election expenses Within 35 calendar days after the date the election result is declared If result declared on Thursday 8 June: by Thursday 13 July

 

If result declared on Friday 9 June: by Friday 14 July

Deadline for sending postal vote identifier rejection notices Within the period of three months beginning with the date of the poll By Thursday 7 September 2017
Deadline for spending returns of political parties and non party campaigners who spend less than £250,000 Within three months of the election 8 September 2017
Deadline for spending returns of political parties and non party campaigners who spend more than £250,000 Within six months of the election 8 December 2017

It’s NOT Dover & Out!

The fact that Article 50 was submitted this week does not mean it’s “Dover & Out” as a headline from The Sun stated. The submission of Article 50 is just a formal notification of the UK’s intention to withdraw from the EU, and while the government had to seek parliamentary approval via a Bill with royal assent to submit the declaration, it does not need anyone’s permission to change its mind.

Article 50 symbolizes nothing more than the beginning of the Brexit negotiations, of what will likely be a long and painful, but ultimately unsuccessful attempt of trying to extract the UK from the European Union. It will not succeed because the challenges are too complex at too many levels and because the cost are too high.

It will fail because the negotiations will bring reality to the table – the reality that we are living in an inter-connected world of shared rules, and that leaving the EU means giving up control, not to the EU but to the mercenary rules of the WTO which will prevent the EU and UK from reaching a good deal no matter how much goodwill there is on both sides.

The problems brought up by the negotiations and the Great Repeal Bill will also expose the reality that Britain’s EU membership fee goes to agencies and projects that are very important to the country. In the past few weeks we have seen that leaving EURATOM and EUROPOL will create problems that may be impossible to resolve no matter how much money is thrown at them, and they were never discussed prior to the referendum. How can leaving a nuclear safety treaty and stopping anti-terrorism cooperation mean taking back control?

Ultimately Brexit will fail is because there will come a point when the people have had enough. As prices rise and truths are revealed, more and more people are coming together to oppose the destructive forces of Brexit and celebrate the European part of their identity. In all counties across the UK, local pro-European groups are forming themselves to assert their views. In Kent alone, there are over 15. The pro-European voices of this country are waking up and will remoan for a long as is necessary to remain within the EU.

March for Europe

March 25th is the 60th Anniversary of the Treaty of Rome, and is being celebrated throughout Europe. For us in the UK, political circumstances mean that the celebrations with be joint with political protest against Brexit and how the government is handling it.

Saturday, March 25th:

March for Europe Demonstrations

March 25th is the 60th Anniversary of the Treaty of Rome, and is being celebrated throughout Europe. For us in the UK, political circumstances mean that the celebrations with be joint with political protest against Brexit and how the government is handling it.

Many different organisations are joining this march, as well as thousands of individuals who are not affiliated to anyone,  but each have their own reason for joining, because we all have so much to lose. Whether you care most about Freedom of Movement, the Single Market, environmental protection or one of the many other benefits that EU membership gives us, this is the time to stand up and be counted.

 

Schedule: Sat, March 25th, 2017:

  • 9-10 a.m. – Depart West Kent (wherever you live – see below)
  • 11 a.m.     –  Meet at south end of Park Lane
  • 2 p.m.        – End of march, speeches

 

While SSTIE is not involved in the organisation of this event, we support this event and we encourage our members and others to join.

A number of us will be traveling by train where we will be joining with members of Tonbridge and Malling for Europe and Tunbridge Wells For Europe. If you would like to travel with other people from the local area, then please let us know using the contact form, or simply come to meet us for one of the following trains:

(9.10 – Meet at Tunbridge Wells)

TrAIN 1

9.44 – Depart Tonbridge (meet at 9.25)

9.53 – Depart Sevenoaks

10.04 – Depart Orpington

10.37 – Arrive in Victoria

Train  2

9.51  – Depart Borough Green & Wrotham (meet at 9.30)

10.00 – Depart Otford (meet at 9.45)

10.09 – Depart Swanley (Platform 3 / meet on train / 3rd carriage)

10.41 – Arrive in Victoria

 

10.45 a.m. – Assemble outside WHSmiths in Victoria/ walk to Park Lane

 

March for Europe Route

 

SSTIE on the Streets of Sevenoaks

On Saturday 11 March 2017, members of the group Sevenoaks & Swanley Together in Europe (SSTIE) took to the streets of Sevenoaks as part of Open Britain’s National Day of Action. They handed out leaflets encouraging people to write to their MP about getting the best possible Brexit outcome for Britain.

Open Britain’s Day of Action in Sevenoaks on 11th March 2017

On Saturday 11 March 2017, members of the group Sevenoaks & Swanley Together in  Europe (SSTIE) took to the streets of Sevenoaks as part of Open Britain’s National Day of Action. They handed out leaflets encouraging people to write to their MP about getting the best possible Brexit outcome for Britain.

The response was overwhelmingly positive, and the group signed up a couple of new members for Open Britain. Photos were tweeted by SSTIE secretary Heather Styles, who also prepared a press release for the local papers.

“We had a successful day on Saturday” said SSTIE Coordinator, Peter Kinsler, “I was very interested to find a number of young people really concerned by the outcome of the referendum and where it is all going. It seems clear to me that we need to target seriously places which young adults frequent to give them the chance to sign up and be involved in what could be a political process covering a number of years. They are the ones who are going to be  affected by Brexit and we need to get them on board as fast as possible.”

SSTIE is currently looking to recruit new members. Further information about how to get involved in SSTIE’s activities and how to apply for membership is available on the SSTIE website.

Photo of SSTIE members
Members of SSTIE outside the post office in Sevenoaks

Operation Stack after Brexit

What will happen to Operation Stack if Britain leaves both the Tax and Customs Union?

Whatever one’s views of Brexit are, it is undeniable that a reintroduction of customs and tax checks will result in much longer delays at the ports, and it is hard to see how this could be managed without impact on the roads of Kent.

The port of Dover and the Channel Tunnel see an average of at least 10,000 trucks per day, and the people of Kent are well aware of what can happen when this flow is interrupted by adverse weather or striking dock workers: The lack of geographical space in Dover and Ashford means that lorries have nowhere to park, and with such a volume of trucks there simply is no feasible alternative to turning large sections of the M2 and M20 motorways into temporary parking lots.

But how far will it go? Fears that Operation Stack could extend up the M20 as far as the M25 junctions at Swanley or Sevenoaks may seem far fetched, but on closer analysis they are not in the realm of the impossible.

As most recently seen during the strike by French dockyard workers in the summer of 2015, Operation Stack can extend over 30 miles as far as Maidstone, and there is little reason to think this marks the ultimate limit of how long it could become.

While it probably is extremely unlikely that it would extend as much as an extra 20 miles up the M20 to reach Swanley, it is just as unlikely that there would be no impact at all. A more realistic estimate would probably sit somewhere between these figures – taking us a further 5 miles up to Leybourne, or 10 miles as far as the M26 Junction at Wrotham.

Increased Frequency as the bigger Problem

While these are estimates based on what are currently extreme scenarios, there is another dimension to this debate that is far more important – rather than looking at how long the queues for Operation Stack could become, we should asking how often we will have to deal with it.

The answer to this is – much more often. The increasing frequency of Operation Stack is much more assured than its increasing length in distance.

A reintroduction of customs at the ports will cause delays no matter what the weather, so what are now seeing as extreme scenarios will become regular occurrences in future. The time it takes to inspect each vehicle being loaded onto a ferry or the train is simply too long to avoid doing so without causing long queues at customs controls. It is a problem that has long been recognised – and was long resolved – by the creation of the EU Customs Union.

Recommended Further reading: For more information on this subject, please see this report from the Road Haulage Association.

Open Britain’s Day of Action in Sevenoaks

SATURDAY, March 11th, 2017

Sevenoaks and Swanley together in Europe (SSTIE) will be supporting Open Britain’s Day of Action on March 11th. Come and join us to find out what it’s all about.

Time: 10.30-12.30

Where: meet outside Post Office, London Road, Sevenoaks, TN13 1AA

 

The Challenges for the Great Repeal Bill – New Commons Briefing Paper

Disentangling the UK from over 40 years EU legislation is a huge task that will take years to complete. To overcome this problem, the government is drafting the “Great Repeal Bill”, which will try to simply convert EU laws into domestic legislation, before asking parliament to repeal the 1972 European Communities Act.

Simple as it sounds, there are some tricky legal issues that need to be taken into account. These are descried in a new briefing paper for the House of Commons, a summary of which can be found on the parliament website, as well as a link to the full report (pdf file).

Summary: http://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/CBP-7793

 

Petition to EU Parliament under Art 227

Urge the EU to require a stronger mandate for Brexit from the UK Government

In contrast to the undemocratic image of the EU portrayed by referendum campaigners, it is a little known fact that every single citizen of the European Union can directly petition the European Parliament and be heard. There is no minimum signatory requirement and every petition will be responded to.

In light of Articles 10, 11 and 50 of the Treaty On European Union, and in accordance with Article 227 of the Treaty On The Functioning of The European Union, the undersigned hereby request that the Union requires the United Kingdom government to conduct a more rigorous domestic consultation, consisting of a second referendum, a parliamentary vote, or similar, before any application for withdrawal from the Union is entertained.

To read more or sign the petition please visit change.org:

https://www.change.org/p/eu-petition-urge-the-eu-to-require-a-stronger-mandate-for-brexit-from-the-uk-government