Posts Tagged ‘Frankfurt am Main’

EU Tells Tweezer Unwelcome Fact, So Bojo Spout Nonsense as Distraction

January 20, 2018

More spin and misdirection from the Tories. Yesterday, Mike put up a piece commenting on Bojo’s bizarre utterance about building a channel bridge. He doesn’t like the Chunnel, you see, and thought that a bridge would be much better. This drew down a barrage of criticism from everyone, who had any connection or knew anything about the shipping industry. 500 ships go through the straights of Dover daily, and so the construction of the bridge, if not the structure itself, would cause massive disruption to international shipping. This was pointed out by one of the shipping associations.

The idea’s a complete non-starter.

But as Mike points out, it looks like a clever piece of misdirection on the Tories’ part. Tweezer had been told earlier that day by the EU that Brexit would mean the financial sector leaving London. This is absolutely true. The EU financial regulatory body has packed up and moved to Paris, another international financial organisation has sought pastures new overseas, and Frankfurt ‘Manhattan’ Am Main is doing its level best to encourage financial houses to relocate there.

But the Tories, and Blairite Labour, are handsomely support by the financial sector, and govern on their behalf. One Tory industrialist, who actually came from manufacturing, has said that he couldn’t get Thatcher to understand that a strong pound damaged British exports abroad. And under Blair we were told that British manufacturing was finished, and we shall concentrate on getting jobs and supporting the financial and service sectors. Deanne Julius, who was given a high-ranking post at the Bank of England after working in various American banks, actually said that we should concentrate on servicing American industry. Which shows you which way the Americans think the ‘Special Relationship’ goes.

Bojo is known for uttering nonsense, and saying things that are stupid and controversial. It seems the Tories have weaponised this. And so when the EU told Tweezer the unwelcome news, which would upset her backers in the financial sector, someone it seems prodded Bojo to make a stupid comment. Thus the bilge about a Channel Bridge, which got everyone talking about that, rather than the boring, but very real threat, that the City of London was going to be decimated by Brexit.

And I expect that as more unpleasant news comes out about the effects of Brexit, we can expect more stupidity from Bojo to take the heat away from his party, and the mistress he barely supports.

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Daily Heil Rejoices as Priti Patel Joins the Brexit Campaign

February 9, 2016

Mike at Vox Political yesterday posted a piece about the Daily Mail’s piece yesterday raving at Priti Patel’s decision to tell David Cameron that she would fight ‘tooth and nail’ for Britain to leave the EU. He then points out, with suitable meme, just how nasty Patel is.

Patel was one of the authors of the vile Tory screed, Britannia Unchained, which castigated British workers for being the laziest in Europe. She and the others argued that if Britain wanted to compete in the global market, then we had to adopt the work ethic of the Developing World. British workers should work longer hours, for less. The Heil’s article claimed she learned the value of hard work from her parents, ethnic Gujaratis from Uganda, who were forced to leave by Idi Amin. Allowed into Britain with the other Ugandan Asian exiles, her father set up a string of 17 newsagents.

Patel is, however, a classic case of Tory hypocrisy, an example of the ‘Do what I say, not what I do’ mentality that runs through the Tory party like writing in a stick of rock. Her own record voting in parliament is decidedly lacklustre. She has only been present in debates just over 81 per cent of the time, far beyond the 95 per cent + attendance many of the others manage. This probably won’t dismay her followers or the Tory spin doctors, who will argue no doubt that she works terribly hard for her constituents, or some such.

The Daily Heil, for its part, has heaped praise on her ever since she first appeared on the national Tory scene in the 1990s. Then it ran admiring articles on her titled ‘As Priti as a Picture’, and praised her for showing that the Tories were including ethnic minorities, and that the Blacks and Asians in the Tories were far better than their embittered counterparts nursing their racial grievances in Labour. This is also very much the Heil’s view of the advantages she brings to the Brexit campaign: she is supposedly disproving that the campaign is overwhelmingly pale and male.

Actually, I’ve no doubt that most of the people in the Brexit campaign, like those in UKIP, are voting for Britain to leave Europe, because they somehow believe it will stop immigrants, and especially non-Whites like Patel and her parents, entering Britain. They’re wrong. The Angry Yorkshireman and Mike have repeatedly stated that Britain’s acceptance of asylum seekers is governed by the International Convention on the Refugee, not by Europe, which only stipulates that Europeans must be free to move between countries.

The reason Patel, and Tories like her, are backing the Brexit campaign, is not because they’re hostile to immigration, although that’s no doubt a factor. What really angers them about the EU is the Social Charter that grants certain rights to European workers. Quite apart from the EU convention on human rights, which Cameron would dearly love to scrap and replace with a much weaker ‘Bill of British Rights’. They’re motivated by the authoritarian desire to keep the workforce cowed and oppressed by a powerful surveillance state, which gives its full force to the employers and the propertied class.

As for the Britannia Unchained author’s argument that Britons should work harder, that’s actually the complete opposite of what happened and what should be happening. As workers in the Developed World were told to work longer hours, so were their counterparts and competitors in the Developing World, until they’re just about working round the block. If we genuinely want to give workers in the Developing World a proper break and a decent standard of living, we could actually begin by cutting hours here.

And there have also been strong criticisms about the admiring verbiage surrounding the Asian work ethic and the long hours British Asians put in running the family business. I’ve read pieces recently on the web – though unfortunately I can’t remember where – which stated that this was actually racist. Asians should benefit from the same attitude to work as the rest of the British population. After all, the argument read, would you want to spend 11 hours + a day – and I think that was an underestimation of the horrendously long hours these people put in – behind a desk in a corner shop, still serving customers at all hours of the day and night?

And besides, the argument that the British are lazy is incorrect. It wasn’t that long ago that the Daily Heil and the rest of the Tory rags were telling us all that the French were horrendously lazy. As were the supposedly ruthlessly efficient Germans. And as for the Greeks, they’ve been subjected to a tirade of abuse for being supposedly a nation of lazy welfare scroungers who’ve brought the current economic collapse of their nation on themselves. In fact, when one German financial house moved part of its business to London from Manhattan am Main, as the Germans were styling Frankfurt, the Mail reported that the German staff were all making jokes about the English working themselves to death. So much for British people being lazy. Except when it serves Tory propaganda.

And there’s the whole issue of why British workers should work so hard, if it won’t benefit them. It hasn’t, after all, benefited workers in India. They’ve seen their wages fall massively, while the upper classes and castes have seen their pay massively escalate. Just like it has over here. The nouveaux riche of Delhi are literally living the champagne lifestyle, while hundreds of millions of their countrymen effectively live on starvation wages. The situation is so bad in the poorest states, that it’s bred a Maoist rebellion – the Naxites. What are they up in arms against? People like Priti Patel.

Patel and her fellows have nothing to offer British workers, who will only suffer if Britain does leave Europe.

Mike’s article on her and the Brexit campaign is at: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/02/08/priti-patel-poster-girl-for-brexit-that-should-add-millions-of-votes-to-the-stay-campaign/

Was Wissen Sie von England, Die Nur England Kennen?

November 21, 2013

This is my schoolboy German for ‘What do they know of England, who only England know?’

One of the major problems facing this country is the British refusal and apparently inability to learn other people’s languages. Having a second language can be immensely personally enriching, as it gives you a greater access to nations and cultures beyond your own. British visitors to the Continent, for example, can be pleasantly surprised and delighted by the way their stumbling attempts to speak the language of the country they’re visiting is appreciated by its people. Even if what you’re trying to say is halting and stumbling, the people you’re saying it to generally appreciate you’re making the effort, rather than arrogantly assuming that everyone speaks English. There have also been concerns for a long time that British industry is being held back by our collective reluctance to learn other tongues. Industrialists have long pointed out that if we want to sell our products to other nations, we have to persuade them to buy British in their own languages. And unfortunately, too few of us are studying another tongue.

This problem was being earnestly debated on breakfast television Tuesday or Wednesday morning. The Beeb were talking about the personal and professional advantages of speaking foreign tongues. One of their guests in this matter was a gentleman, one of those veritable ‘Briareus of tongues’, who could speak very many of them. In this case, the man could speak about eleven fluently. This is rather less than the eighteenth century Italian cardinal, who had mastered fifty, and who was therefore given the above nickname. Unfortunately, despite such multi-lingual experts as the Beeb’s guest a day or so ago, few people are following their example.

And it does shows, especially in some of the ideologues of the Right, who argue we should be following the employment practices of other nations, like the authors of Britannia Unchained. This bunch denounced British workers as lazy, and urged that the nation’s workforce copy those of the powerhouses of the developing world like China and India in working 19th century hours for miserable pay in the kind of conditions described and denounced by Charles Dickens and the other 19th century reformers. They are also doing the workers of the Developing World no service with their book either. Just as Britain and the rest of the Developed World has increased hours, so the working hours in India, China and the other developing nations have been massively extended. It’s a vicious circle, which seems to profit no-one except the multinational business elite now exploiting workers across the globe.

Of course, the author’s of Britannia Unchained seem unaware of this. If they are aware, they certainly don’t want you to be. And they also appear to be stunningly ignorant of business cultures much nearer home, like Germany.

In recent years the Germans have been doing their level best to challenge their image around the world. There has been a flow of steady articles and pieces in the German and foreign press challenging their image as the staunch incarnation of the Prussian virtues of hard-work and efficiency that created the Wirtschaftwunder. Rather than the dour, humourless drones slaving away all hours in the name of ruthless efficiency, the Germans are keen to point out that they do, in fact, enjoy a good joke. A few years ago there were adverts for Berlin, which boasted that it was the place where the art of living was practiced 24 hours a day, complete with a photo of a German rock star strumming out a mighty power chord on his electric guitar. The new Germany, the adverts said, stands for fun.

The punishing labour regimes of the Nazi and Communist dictatorships are similarly an image from the past that the Germans are increasingly challenging. Rather than spending their entire time grafting away at the workplace, German writers and commenters have pointed out that Germany has one of the shortest working weeks, and gives its workers longer holidays than many other countries. I can remember reading a piece by one German journalist in one of the British newspapers, which said that nothing contradicted the image of the hard-working German that the typical modern office in the Bundesrepublik. There, the staff quietly worked in comfort, with the coffee machine bubbling away to itself in a corner. And in such a relaxed, comfortable employment environment, it’s almost inevitable that someone would be going on about how lazy they all were. A few years ago, one of the German magazines ran a feature entitled ‘The German National Hobby: Krankfeiern‘, which I assume means ‘throwing a sickie’. The piece was accompanied by a photo showing an office worker crouched on a desk, surrounded by water, presumably to indicate the way German industry was being drowned by a flood of lazy workers, all skiving off work.

To Anglo-Saxon audiences, the idea that the Germans are all fun-loving with a relaxed attitude to work is almost comically bizarre. It runs directly counter to everything we know, or think we know, about the German character. After all, northern European nations are expected to be sober and hard-working, while it’s the Mediterranean south that’s all about fun and relaxation. It’s like the comment Badvoc made about the difference the Romans and ancient British in the 1980s Channel 4 comedy, Chelmsford 123: ‘We’re not like these hardworking Romans with their roads and efficiency. We have a more relaxed attitude to life. We say ‘manana!’ Yet, believe it or not, this was the German national image before the Prussian kings – one of whom had such a foul temper he was called ‘Die Bose Wetter von Hohenzollern’ took over the country. I was taught at school that in the 17th century the Germans were considered to be the most easy-going people in Europe. That was shattered by the rise of Prussia, the Napoleonic, Franco-Prussian Wars, and World Wars I and II. This has passed, on the Germans are going back to their national image in the 17th century, despite the horrors of the Gradgrinds of German industry.

So how does this new generation of relaxed funsters regard us across the North Sea? Well, as far as the work ethic is concerned, the attitude is now very much reversed, or so it seems. A few years ago a group of German financial workers and banking whizzkids from ‘Manhattan am Main’ were sent off to work in the company’s London branch. They were reported as making jokes about how, in England nothing worked properly. This seems to be pretty much a constant since Britain’s disastrous industrial performance in the 1970s. Unlike the 1970s, when we were the strike-ridden ‘sick man of Europe’, other jokes were about how hard we worked. We had, at least in the opinion of these employees, swapped places with their country as the nation, whose workers slave away driving themselves into the ground at work. Only without the efficiency and product quality.

All this appears to have been excluded from Britannia Unchained. After all, it would undermine their case if they compared us to the Germans, who now know how to combine a strong economy with a reputation for quality products and have a good time. After all, you can’t tell a country of miserable wage-slaves that they’re all skivers and malingers compared to their fun-loving EU counterparts across the Nordsee, regularly clocking with ruthless efficiency at a reasonable hour every day.

Way back in the 1980s Channel 4 briefly held won the rights to broadcast the cricket from the BBC, before they, in turn, were trumped by Murdoch and Sky. Their trailer for the test match season against the West Indies was, in its own small way, a work of art. It opened with pictures of sun-drenched beaches and tropic rainforests, while a female Caribbean face lilted the Kiplingesque lines ‘What do they know of England, who only England know?’ Hence the title of my piece. One of their innovations, I believe, was a female commentator, who had a West Indian accent. They take cricket extremely seriously over that side of the Atlantic. The University of the West Indies in Kingston has a department of Cricket Studies. One of the course’s professors appeared on TV over here a little while ago talking about how the West Indies team’s sporting excellence had boosted the region’s self-image and pride. And the quote used by the advert is still a very, very good question. Kipling himself held some extremely Right-wing views. In the 1920s he formed a group to fight the General Strike. This collapsed when their treasurer ran off with their funds. He wrote the poem with the lines ‘What should they know of England, who only England know?’ in response to riots in the north of England against working conditions there. Nevertheless, the question is a good one, and can be asked of the Right as well as the Left. ‘What do they know of England, who only England know?’ Going by the authors of Britannia Unchained, very little.