Friday, June 19, 2015

lighting and reflection test, turned out not too bad

Med Crisis, UK Prime Minister David Cameron says he wants EU reform; it is now time to establish an EU border force of civil and military authorities to combat illegal trafficking of people, EU plans to hold people for 18 months in detention camps before sending them back to home countries, but more needs to be done

Dear All

It cannot have escaped your notice that the borders of the EU aren’t secure; the problem in the Med, bares testimony to that fact. This is a problem that has been exploited by People from Africa are trafficking across the sea illegally, the people aren’t asylum seekers; they are economic migrants involved in a criminal enterprise.

Much has been talked about regarding the humanitarian efforts to save these people, and that is a duty that member states of the EU have been doing at the present moment. However, more needs to be said and addressed regarding arresting them for return to Africa.

Now, the EU commissioner for migration is making plans for the migrants to put in detention camps, but it is clear that a stronger military or multi national border force is needed in the Med. Any ship out the territorial waters of its home nation heading towards the EU should be stopped and searched.    

At present leaked plans suggest that migrants pouring into Europe could be detained in camps for 18 months, normally these people are held for six months, the 18 month detention is said been suggested for ‘non-cooperation’. Once 18 months has elapsed the idea is that the migrants are send home.

David Cameron says political leaders must ‘break the link’ that enables someone to get on a boat in Africa, claim asylum then ‘spend the rest of their lives’ in Europe. Britain is a key destination for migrants.

In places like France at the Channel ports, migrants set up camps as they wait to try and stow away for their attempts to smuggle themselves into Britain. This matter is a running for both the French and British Governments. Now, officers from the National Crime Agency in Britain will join a new ‘intelligence fusion cell’ based in Sicily to help root out the human traffickers.

This should be part of a wider plan of activities in the Med, there needs to be an EU border force which should combine elements of the civil and military authorities developed. Although such a force would met resistance, the sovereign government of an area the force would operate would retain command and control. 

EU commissioner for migration, Dimitris Avramapoulous said:

“To ensure that the illegal migrants will be repatriated effectively they should be detained as a legitimate measure of last resort to avoid the escape of illegal immigrants”.

He added:

“Where there is a reasonable probability of repatriation the prospects of repatriation should not be ruined by a premature end to detention”. As well as the problem in the Med, Hungary also has experienced the problems of illegals passing through it territory as they head west towards the Channel ports. They have vowed to erect a 13ft-high fence along its border with Serbia to stop immigrants entering the EU. The barrier when completed will be 100-miles long. When such measures are being proposed you know that authorities are dealing with a serious crisis which must be sorted, but this isn’t just a Hungarian or Italian problem, this affects the whole of the EU. It should therefore be dealt with as an EU matter, command the same disciplined approach as any other aspect of law enforcement.

Hungarian foreign minister Peter Szijjarto said that Hungary ‘could not wait any longer’ for a solution to the migration crisis. The EU is desperately in need of reform, it would be better if EU Commissioners and MEPs were more pro active in coming up with solutions, illegal migration isn’t just someone ‘hopping over the fence’, it is a matter of national and economic security. It is said that through the Balkans alone 130,000 illegal migrants are expected to pass through by the end of 2015, the trend is increasing.

Mr Szijjarto said plans added:

“Immigration is one of the most serious problems facing the European Union today.”

He is of course absolutely right, the problem in politics is that instead of being concerned by the illegal nature of the criminal enterprise, people use the ‘race card’ to label political opponents as part of their internal domestic power plays to seek public office or advantage.

I have to say that I don’t think having George Osborne’s input into this matter is helpful as Chancellor of the Exchequer, it would be better if this matter was dealt with by the British Foreign Secretary.

If you take David Cameron’s word when he said:

“We need a comprehensive approach … that goes after the criminal gangs, a comprehensive approach where we work with “intelligence fusion cells” in Sicily, where we will be putting people and resources into that.”

Then we need to establish an EU border force rather than some piecemeal approach of sending a few people here and there, placing a ship in the Med, we shouldn’t be responding to a particular problem at a particular time, the overall picture is important.

And that isn’t what is being addressed.

Yours sincerely

George Laird

The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Greece crisis: Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipiras came to power on a wave of Greek discontent of how the previous government refused to standby the people, now, Tsipiras is playing a ‘cat and mouse’ game which benefits no one, Greece needs to default and reset their economy, it’s too late for 'compromise' as proposed by United States

Dear All

The people of Greece have gone through some pretty hard times, more than they should have endured as a member of the EU. They faced what was savage austerity year in, year out, this led to the Greek people getting rid of their government.

It has to be said that the previous government was paralysed by indecision and made bad choices. The rest of the EU stood back and watched as Greek assets were sold off as part of the arrangements to get financial loans to keep the country solvent.

This should have never been allowed to happen.

One story I came across related how Greek pensioners were looking for food in bins. This isn’t the European dream of how the EU should operate. The Euro, although a decent idea on the drawing in a generalised concept was a nightmare in practical operation, the Euro works well if countries are doing well. In times of trouble, it is an anchor round the neck of a country helping pull it under.

The Greeks went to the polls because they had enough of the previous government, so in came a new lot, who were going to stand up for Greece. They were going to fix the problems and set the country back on the road to recovery. That promise came a cropper rather quickly, under the government of Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipiras.

Tspiras has played a really bad political game with other European countries, something which suits no one. At one stage we had the ridiculous spectacle of the Greek Prime Minister waffling on about damages he says is owed to the Greeks from World War 2 when the German Army invade the country.

Part of the Greek problem is that country’s economy could compete with the German powerhouse. Germany has a good mixed economy and decent manufacturing base producing high quality products like cars etc.

So, the Greeks are in limbo, Greek negotiations have failed again as Athens calls for 'realism' from its creditors. In two weeks, the country has to ante up and made a crucial IMF payment; rather then get their affairs in order, we are seeing a rather long winded drawn out play being enacted. To try and appear as a victim of sorts, Tsipiras is calling on European institutions to be realistic in their demands.

Realistic means, we don’t have the money, we can’t or won’t do cuts and we want talks which are meaningless in order to look like there is a dialogue happening when there is actually nothing. Talks between Athens and its creditors collapsed at the weekend, and looking at the passed record, it is likely they will collapse again, leaving the country at heightened risk of a default.

Once Greece does do a default, it would also have to put in place measures to bring back the Greek currency and then do an abrupt exit from the Eurozone. Although the lenders do have legitimate concerns, their position on demanding new cuts in pensions is simply untenable for the Greek Prime Minister to do. In fact, this would lead to crisis upon crisis and a lurch towards more extreme parties.
When you continually strip a people of their sovereignty, dignity and nationhood, you can expect at some point a backlash.

Tsipras says:

‘We will await patiently until the institutions accede to realism.’

This is a sign of a bad leader.

He added:

‘We are shouldering the dignity of our people, as well as the hopes of the people of Europe. We cannot ignore this responsibility. This is not a matter of ideological stubbornness. This is about democracy.’

You may have heard of the word ‘troika’, Max Keiser uses it a lot in his RT programme, the Keiser Report, a mix of political and financial news co host by his wife Stacy. The show is quite good as it gets in some very interesting people such as Reggie Middleton, Jim Rickards and Steve Keen. The ‘troika’ is the Washington-based IMF, the European Commission and the European Central Bank. You could make the case for Commission and the ECB being involved but not the IMF.

Greece owes a lot of money, it missed a £216million repayment and it rather looks like other deadlines in future will be missed. Germany’s EU commissioner Guenther Oettinger said an emergency plan should be worked out as Greece risks to fall into a state of emergency. He added ‘energy supplies, pay for police officials, medical supplies, and pharmaceutical products and much more’ needed to be ensured.

Tsipras is right when he says that years of cuts have only made Greece’s situation worse by shrinking the economy, making it harder to pay off debt. If he follows the demands of the ‘troika’, the Greek people will be permanently trapped in austerity. When you are in a hole, the rule of thumb is to stop digging, in Greece’s case, it is stop paying.

Belgian Finance Minister Johan Van Overtveldt said the euro zone's credibility would be damaged if agreements with Greece were changed, so is face saving more important than preventing people suffering?

Jens Weidmann, the head of Germany's central bank, said:

‘Time is running out for Greece. The willingness to do a deal and act is lacking.’

I would say that depends on what kind of a ‘deal’ Herr Weidmann, thinks is on offer, it rather looks like demands instead of negotiations. The fact that talks collapsed in less than an hour shows there is no common ground. This problem also highlights another concern, EU enlargement and access to the Euro without proper checks, Greece joined the Euro even although it should have been excluded based on it finances which some say were ‘cooked’ to meet the criteria.

The best thing for Greece but not the EU is a default, a lot of talk in European Capitals of late regarding the reform agenda, pushed along by David Cameron, who has his own domestic troubles, mostly sitting behind him on the back benches of the Commons. The Euro needs to be part of the reform agenda, and also a convention or commission for a new European Union with a view to capping membership for a minimum of two decades.

Other issues which should be placed on the agenda is the internal EU immigration policy and creation of a multi national EU border force, with nations seconding military vessels to deal with the illegal migration in the Med area.

The Greek tragedy currently playing out at the moment benefits no one, the ‘troika’ is being unreasonable especially in their demands to the Greek government to cut pensions. Tsipras doesn’t need to wait till ‘institutions accede to realism’, he needs to pull Greece out now or he won’t have a country worth saving.

Yours sincerely

George Laird

The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

George Galloway enters race to become London mayor, to gain some publicity, he predicts Scotland will back independence within five years, although he gets a lot of points spot on, his analysis of Scottish people is off

Dear All

During the Scottish independence referendum, the Spectator magazine put on a debate, featuring among the guests was George Galloway.

His speech was the best speech by far from anyone on either side of the political divide. It had all the things that the Nationalist speakers lacked, spirited defence, sense of history and importantly, wit, as always being delivered by Galloway’s exceptional oratory skills.

It is certainly worth a read but it is also worth listening to, that way you can get full impact of what he was conveying.

Galloway lost his seat at the General election; he was previously MP for Bradford West. Now, he has set his sights on becoming London Mayor. If anything, the people of London will have one good speaker to listen to, even if you aren’t signed up to his politics.

George Galloway has predicted Scotland will back independence within five years.

It won’t, the reason why it won’t, is like comedy, timing, David Cameron will not allow a second referendum during his term of office, and no political campaign in its true sense can go ahead without a section 30 order from Westminster.

George Galloway says the tide had turned "irrevocably" from Labour toward the SNP. It has to be said that the Labour Party ran an exceptional bad campaign, at 14 weeks out from the vote, I was surprised at the rudderless direction. At 10 weeks out, I wrote ‘fucking it all up’ on the blog, this was because instead of honing in on the serious issues, the Labour campaign was knee deep in doing ‘tat’.

Who starts a political campaign off on fitba, having scrapped the bottom of the barrel, their campaign went down further; this is a surprise when you think how slick the Labour Party had been in the Blair years.

During the BT campaign, I decided to observe the BT staff do an event without taking part, this was to satisfy my curiosity. The event was listed as canvassing in the Govan Ward, the start time was billed as 1.30 pm, five minutes passed and the team of 5 student types hadn’t moved, ten minutes and still they stood there, after allowing 17 minutes to pass, they eventually decided to start, no one else had turned up.

Nearly 100 minutes of work time was wasted.

At another event listed as leafleting, the person in charge turned up with no leaflets and decided that the group should do canvassing; however, they also didn’t bring canvassing packs.

This person is in the Labour Party so I am led to believe. 

Now that the good times have ended, the Labour Party has to change, they will now have to work for every single vote, a sliver lining in their defeat is that the public did the party a favour, they got rid of deadwood which the Labour Party should have done years ago.

2016 is rather looking like the ‘cull’ will be continuing, something which Labour should bare in mind is that prior to the 2012 Council election in Glasgow, the party did do a ‘cull’. This incidentally saved the party from losing at that election, and there had been more than enough ammo to bury the party at that point.

‘Culls’ work, however you have to know what it is you need to cull in the first place, 20 people got the chop as they were seen to be a liability to the party, I didn’t agree with all the selections made or the way the Labour Party had gone about it.

As to Scottish leadership frontrunner Kezia Dugdale, he refers to her as "this woman who is running" and added she "would not be at the races" if Labour had any big political figures left.

Ken Macintosh has also commented on Kezia Dugdale lack of political experience, Labour doesn’t need a touchy empathy minded politician to lead it; it needs someone who will sort out the mess of two decades of decline, some exceptional hard questions need to be addressed. People need to justify their existence especially if time, energy and resources have been put into getting them elected to public office. Some people need to be gotten rid of and some others need to be pushed upwards.

In politics it helps to get noticed, as I wrote above George Galloway has launched his bid to become Mayor of London in 2016. When you launch your bid, some go the way of saying something controversial, George Galloway has went this route; it is if anything what is termed good copy for the press. One of the key issues in his campaign is what he calls greater devolution for the capital. Awhile ago, someone at the LSE wrote an article on the idea of Europe being considered not as member states but as a group of city states. I chuck that in because it is an idea although interesting not practical.

The United Kingdom is at a crossroads, some people want the status quo, others are pushing towards federalism and then there are the Nationalists wanting the break up of the United Kingdom.

Galloway said:

"I think independence is probably nigh. The only way it could have been stopped is if we had got a Labour government last month and if that Labour government had begun to make a difference. But these next five Tory years are going to be very cold, and the SNP leadership seems to have the ball at their feet and know what to do with it.

"So I'd be very surprised if there wasn't another referendum in the course of this next five years, and I'd be very surprised if we managed to repeat the result we got last year. I'd take the same stand that I did last year. But I wouldn't be expecting to win."

People, ordinary people won the Scottish independence referendum, faced with the possibility of the SNP being the government of an independent Scotland, the people said No!

And despite the fake and insincere attempt by the SNP to have unpopular Nicola Sturgeon as a poor man’s Angela Merkel, likeable and popular, the ‘mouthwash isn’t working’.

When the Scottish Parliament was set up in 1999, some of the Labour MPs wanted to become MSPs, Galloway reflects on that by saying:

"Me, [Ian] Davidson, [ Michael] Connarty, Robin Cook and many others were effectively told by the Blairites, 'You're not wanted at Holyrood'. That was a historic mistake."

I would agree that a mistake was made by Labour on that front, however, you can’t re-run history; you can only write the present and reflect on that past. Another interesting observation by him:

"Labour's problems in Scotland began with the dawn of the Blair era and the decision that was made to send a B team to Holyrood”.

I would have to agree with that point, Holyrood was treated like a plaything, if you were really serious about plying your trade in politics, then you really wanted to be at Westminster.

Given a choice between quality of debates, Westminster is still the place to watch, and I don’t mean the mid session of PMQs which is just a show verging on farce, light entertainment for the masses with a bit of humour chucked in for good measure.

Galloway dryly remarked that Labour destroyed its own brand north of the border.

Certainly whoever is elected leader faces a tough and long haul back towards power, Jim Murphy did less than a year, he carried the can for something which wasn’t his fault; that said when in charge you take the responsibility. Jim Murphy watched as Labour had the worst result since 1918, and to make matters worse, it was against truly second rate opposition.

George Galloway does touch on the Labour figures of the past, such as Willie Ross, Donald Dewar, Bruce Millan, Gordon Brown, John Reid, Helen Liddell and Jimmy Allison.

These people did leave their marks in various forms.

But we live in the present, when Labour lost in 2007; the Holyrood group of MSPs did nothing of note for that entire term of the Parliament. Instead of pandering to see if they can copy the Nationalists, Labour needs a leader who has a vision of a fairer Scotland and will deliver it. So many promises were made in the past and not delivered on.

The new leader needs to ban Councillors being employees of MP, MSP and MEPs, also the salary of councillors should be raised to £30,000, and for that members would be expected to be full time, Monday to Friday, nine to five. Obviously the salary issue would depend on attaining power.

A return to old Labour values that built the party is needed but not old Labour practices.

Although, I would agree that George Galloway has made a lot of good points, his final analysis is off, but it makes for an interesting read, George has been away from the Scottish pond so his overview has gaps not knowing the personalities.

And he is standing for public office so it might explain his doom and gloom scenario.

One thing that Kezia Dugdale better click onto rather quickly is that the 15 minutes at FMQs doesn’t equate to 168 hours in a week.

Finally, as to the London Mayor contest, I would say if no one else comes forward, then Labour should run with Tessa Jowell, and for the Tories, I would take a chance on Sol Campbell, mind you, Zac Goldsmith does strike me as someone in need of promotion to junior Minister.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

Monday, June 15, 2015