Author Archives: Bernard Aris

Dutch support for a Millicent Fawcett Statue in Parliament Square

For Dutch Social Liberals, being a party activist and being a feminist have always been strongly (90%) overlapping aspects of our social behavior and social activism. Whereas Dutch Social Democracy until 1934 neglected the women’s emancipation struggle because the emancipation of all proletarians came first, we are proud that from the beginning, Dutch social-liberal parties (Radikale Bond/RB, 1892-1901, VDB, 1901-’46, D66) have always had feminist spokespersons in their parliamentary parties. Aletta Jacobs, our most famous late 19th century feminist, was a RB founder/activist, and it was a VDB bill which gave Dutch women the vote. And the 1966 founders of D66 were strongly involved in the Second Feminist Wave (raising male consciousness about issues like equal pay, equal family law rights, childcare and family planning), and proudly conscious of the RB and VDB feminist tradition.

And British feminists, Millicent Garrett Fawcett (and her sister, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson) in particular, played an indispensable role in getting that Dutch feminist tradition going.

In 1870-’76 a young Dutch liberal, Victor Gerritsen, lived in London where he immersed himself in the Radical and Liberal scene around John Stuart Mill and the Garrett sisters. In those years (thanks to permission by liberal prime minister Thorbecke), Aletta Jacobs was able to study medicine including her Ph. D. promotion. On his return here, Gerritsen heard about this, and that Jacobs wanted to study medical practices in London. Gerritsen wrote her, giving her useful contact addresses, and telling about the advent of British female medical doctors (this proved the start of their love- and later marriage relationship).

According to the authoritative biography of Jacobs, she visited London in March-September 1879. Via the brothers George and Charles Robert Drysdale (women’s doctors and pioneers in Neo-Malthusianism) she met Elizabeth Garrett (Britain’s first female doctor meeting the first Dutch one), and worked with her in the London Medical School of Women, New Hospital for Women, and in Garrett’s “St. Mary’s Dispensary” aimed at mothers and children. Via Elizabeth, Jacobs also met Millicent Garrett and her husband, the Cambridge economist/suffragist Henry Fawcett (their mutual supportive, loving relationship was to be copied by Jacobs and Gerritsen), who were more involved in the women’s voting right movement. Gerritsen already subscribed to the suffragist “Englishwomen’s Review”, and had his British friends send him new Liberal, feminist and radical publications; when the Dutch feminist movement got started in the 1880’s, his substantial library was used by everybody in Dutch social liberalism and feminism.

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Trump’s equivocating over Charlottesville Nazis embarrasses May and hurts new US Dutch Ambassador

It was interesting to read the free daily “Worldview” newsletter put out by the Washington Post yesterday.

Talking about the unprecedented spectacle of an American President equivocating about how evil heavily armed, swastikas and KKK regalia-wearing racists and neo-Nazis are, the WP draws our attention to how these scary shenanigans embarrass the foreign allies and friends of the USA, especially those who (out of national interests, seldom out of personal sympathy) so far tried to get into Trump’s “good allies” book. The WP takes Theresa May as its case in point in this aspect.

They remind us of the spectacle of May visiting Trump’s White House in January, holding his hand and trumpeting that the “Special Relationship” was well and continuing.

The WP thinks this show of support was a contributing factor when May, a wooden campaigner anyway, held her snap election in June, losing her majority and seeing her ministers returned with lesser majorities. Trump surely didn’t help, attacking London Mayor Sadiq Khan.

The WP only quotes May seeing “no equivalence between those who propound fascist views and those who oppose them”, saying she didn’t mention Trump by name, and her then going on about Big Ben being silenced. WP concludes she is still too cautious to explicitly condemn Trump, contrasting her overall treatment of Trump with the more distance-keeping approach of Merkel and Macron. The WP mentions Tory criticism of Trump from for example minister Sajid Javid MP.

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Cable, not Corbyn, is right on Venezuela

The most famous example is in the 1960’s: the Cuba of Fidel Castro turned dictatorial after he let the Soviet Union take over training domestic policing and his secret service (in exchange for buying up his sugar an most of Cuban cigars; see Tad Szulcs biography of Fidel).

But also in the 1980’s the regime of Robert Mugabe over Zimbabwe appeared to start out in 1980 as a better alternative to South African Apartheid, but there the instant imposition and eternal prolongation of the State of Emergency, the role of the North Korean (guaranteed Stalinist) military training mission, their Zimbabwean Fifth Brigade pupils and their Gukurahundi 1983-7 offensive  suppressing Nkomo’s democratic opposition, disillusioned many supporters very fast. When in 1987 the presidency got real executive powers and Nkomo’s party was absorbed in Mugabe’s regime, things turned sour “for keeps”, resulting in misrule, murderous peasant evictions, clobbering opposition leaders to a pulp, and hyperinflation.

The 1979 Sandinista revolt in Nicaragua under Daniel Ortega kept on the democratic, progressive path during the 1980’s, but after losing the 1990’s election Ortega forced social democratic party veterans like Ernesto Cardenal and novelist Sergio Ramírez out, becoming  more autocratic. Ortega and his clique in 1990 kept the nationalized enterprises as their property, and after returning to government in 2006, Ortega was illegally re-elected president in 2011. Ortega, having fought the Roman Catholic hierarchy up to 1990, co-operated with the orthodox wing of that church (archbishop Obando) after returning to government in 2006, banning abortion in all circumstances (his main campaign issue and that of the “liberals”. Human Rights Watch since reported that bleeding pregnant women don’t get treated for fear of breaking that ban, and the Health Ministry ignores complaints about pre- and postnatal care.

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Trump Inc. fleeces US Government to keep nuclear button in-house

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In a move unheard of in any democratic country regarding its head of state (both personal and as an institution) and his/her official trappings, the Trump government has:

1. moved the presidential bodyguard local co-ordination centre out of Trump tower to a trailer on the New York sidewalk, 50 floors below, and
2. made the presidential military staff, keepers of the famous “football” containing the infamous nuclear button, accept an extortionate lease price to keep it located inside Trump Tower.

At least, that is what the Washington Post has discovered.

In US politics, it is quite usual that the essential entourage of a president, as president and commander-in-chief, has premises on all locations and in all buildings a president resides in or which he (when will it be a she?) owns. With the Kennedy’s and George Bush senior these included their family summer residences in Massachusetts and Maine.

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Brexiteers Bearing Broken Promises should not underestimate the iceberg threatening their Titanic

I know British media and voters are less used to coupling the behavior of European Parliament grandees and domestic, Westminster Parliamentary Parties but it is high time they did.

At least the Dutch media pay close attention to how the group(s) of MEP(s) from each Dutch political party behave and vote in Brussels and Strasbourg. If they diverge from the line their national parliamentarians behave and vote (or the other way around), a big stink can follow, embarrassing national party leaders. In France the link is even stronger. Their MPs from the Assemblee and even national party leaders like Marine Le Pen sit in the European Parliament as well, and thus are obliged to vote similarly in both assemblies.

So it was very unwise, uninformed, very egocentric (in short: very Brexiteerish) for the May government to pooh-pooh the opinion piece by a number of prominent MEP’s in The Guardian last week. In it, they warn that between 67 and 77% of MEP’s would block any Brexit overall deal if EU citizens in the UK continue to be pestered  by Home Office shenanigans, and if the UK maintains the unsettled “settled” status that  EU Brexit Negotiator Barnier complaints can be scrapped at will by any British parliament after Brexit.

As I quoted in my earlier post, this uncertainty is helping to sour EU expats’ views of Britain, its government,  encouraged by the attitude of the ever so moderate, always respectful British tabloids of “Up Y**** Delors” fame .

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Dutch UK correspondents warn that the mood among EU expats has really soured

 

In his Sky interview on Sunday (quoted by Caron Lindsay in her earlier post), Sir Vince Cable warned that the Wimbledon tournament is hit by a serious strawberry crisis. British strawberry fields will (forever?) remain unattended because the people (EU workers) needed to pick the fruit have scampered home, afraid of the uncertainties of staying in the UK where both May and Corbyn keep pursuing a hard Brexit, never mind May’s sweet-talking at the recent Brussels summit (which was roundly dismissed, if not disbelieved by Juncker, Tusk and German prime minister Merkel).

In the Dutch liberal quality newspaper NRC Handelsblad of Saturday 1st July, the anthropologist and journalist Joris Luyendijk (famous for his Guardian blogs and international bestseller “Swimming with sharks” about the worrying ways of thinking and operating in the City of London banking sector) gives an assessment of the mood among well-educated, professional EU citizens that should alarm any Briton who wants the British economy to flourish.

And in the biggest Dutch daily, de Telegraaf of 23d June, Dutch expat and former Telegraaf UK correspondent Arnoud Breitbarth (now working in the British musical industry) voices frustration (“we’re treated like second class citizens from the moment the Brexit Referendum was announced”) and despair at possibly having to leave the UK where they’ve lived for decades.

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May’s Brexit setup denies remaining EU states what she wants to recover for Britain: sovereignty over their nation(als)

As the Brexiteers slogan “take back control” clearly shows, the taking back of government control not only over your own territory, but also over the whole of your population, nation, (in short: “national sovereignty”)  is a central plank in the whole, over-ambitious and under-estimated, undertaking that is Brexit.

But in Theresa May’s proposed treatment of EU citizens in the UK, she in two ways denies the governments of the continental states who, very sensibly, choose to remain in the EU (and, conversely, some British citizens) what she herself wants to “take back from Brussels’ clutches”: national sovereignty.

She does that first by insisting that the fate of EU inhabitants of the UK will exclusively be decided by British courts (and authorities), and that London will (negotiating with  Brussels) co-decide the cutoff date of the 5 year term you need to get a “settled status” in the UK.

And, because she and Brussels agree that it will be a mirror image operation, the fate of UK citizens in continental EU states is thus left to their respective national courts. Well, the courts in Poland and Hungary are being transformed into the servants of regimes that have heavy prejudices against fundamental West European and British values like the Trias Politica of separate powers, liberal democratic values, western education (George Soros’s university) and women’s rights (work beside family life, abortion). The less agents, carriers of western ideals and freedoms living in Poland and Hungary, the better, is the way Orban and Kaczyński think about guarding what they call the sacred “National Identity” of their “embattled” nations. See the way they marginalized liberal opposition amongst their own citizens, and how Kaczynski’s people humiliated Tusk (and Orban the professors/students of Soros).

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 37 Comments
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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarMark Platt 25th Sep - 4:34am
    Besides the concerns already listed against Uber for me there is also an additional issue, unconsidered thus far. In London, the combination of 'instant deliveries',...
  • User AvatarMark Platt 25th Sep - 4:31am
    What an over the top hyperbolic headline, and what a poorly researched article. The coup de grace of course is the charge of illiberalism, usually...
  • User AvatarRoland 25th Sep - 12:44am
    @David Raw & Nonconformistradical - I see you are missing the substantive point, not to say that your queries aren't valid, just that you seem...
  • User AvatarTony Greaves 24th Sep - 11:44pm
    Good stuff, Mark. Public transport in London is unbelievably good. I know, I use it for part of the week for part of the year....
  • User AvatarKatharine Pindar 24th Sep - 11:41pm
    Martin, how could Britain remain in the Single Market and the Customs Union without accepting the four freedoms? And how stay in the Customs Union...
  • User AvatarNonconformistradical 24th Sep - 11:06pm
    @Roland I don't believe 'being British' - or adhering to the teachings of Christ - has anything to do with it. It's possible to 'do...