Author Archives: Tom Arms

Observations of an Ex Pat: Brexit goes nuclear

The EU is worried about losing their American nuclear umbrella.

The UK is worried about losing their European market and their seat at the European top table.

Britain has nuclear weapons. The EU has markets. Is there a fit?

If so, the result could be a tectonic strategic shift with far-reaching political repercussions.

My sources say there is enough of a fit for Prime Minister Theresa May to be thinking of offering to extend the British deterrent to EU countries in return for Brexit concessions.  This is most likely to be in cooperation with the French.

The reaction of the strategic eggheads ranges from “not incredible” to “logical,” to “totally unrealistic” and then “utterly crass” with a lot of “no comments” thrown in for good measure.

No comment was what the British Ministry of Defence said. No reply was all I could elicit from The Foreign Office and Downing Street. But The Department  for  Exiting the European Union, was more forthcoming. It referred me to Mrs May’s 18 January  Brexit strategy speech in which she said: 

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 9 Comments

Observations of an ex pat: Trump lost on Wednesday

I am not talking about the court ruling on version two of his travel ban. Neither am I talking about the mounting incredulity over his wiretapping claims and tax returns.

I am talking about an event that took place 3,843 miles away from the White House on the other side of the Atlantic– the Dutch general election.

Trump’s man was  Geert Wilders. The anti-EU, anti-immigration, racist leader of the Netherlands’ Freedom Party  who has bounced in and out of the Dutch courts on hate crime charges.

There was never any question of Wilders winning a majority in parliament and forming the next Dutch government. Their proportional representation  system makes that a virtual impossibility for any political party.

However, Wilders’ Freedom Party was tipped to win more seats than any other Dutch party. He failed, miserably. And he failed with 80 percent voter turnout—up 5.5 percent from the 2012 elections.

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 10 Comments

Don’t get mad, get even: Join the Lib Dems

Just received an email from Tim Farron.

“Incredible news , “he reported, “moments ago, our membership reached 85,002.”

I wrote back: “Not enough.”

We are still in fourth place. Labour stands at 515,000. The conservatives are 150,000 and the SNP is 120,000.

The United Kingdom is a tribal nation and its politics reflect the tribes that divide it.

The Liberal Democrats are a unifying force. That is one of the main reasons I joined it. But to succeed it must break the tribal lock that has bedevilled British politics for nearly 200 years.

The only way to be certain of success is to have MORE members than any other political party. It sounds like a tall order. It is. But it is a necessary one.

Posted in News | Tagged and | 19 Comments

Observations of an Expat: The Brexit elephant

 

There was a massive elephant in the British House of Commons on Wednesday. It was rampaging back and forth across the chamber, overturning tables, loudly trumpeting and waving his trunk from side to side.

Its name was Brexit.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Phillip Hammond did his level best to ignore the distinctly unfriendly pachyderm. In fact, he did not utter the B-word once during his 45-minute budget speech.  But the Brexit elephant was as plain to see as the chancellor’s traditional red box.

Growth forecasts for 2017, said the Chancellor, have been upgraded from 1.4 to 2 percent.  Employment forecasts are rosy, and predictions for government borrowing are down, down, down. The pound remains at rock bottom levels against the dollar, but the economy has not fallen off the cliff as some pro-European campaigners said it would do on the 24th of June.

But then Britain is still in the phoney war period. Article 50 has not been invoked. Details of the government’s negotiating position remain shrouded in mystery. Details of the European Commission negotiating position are a total enigma.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 3 Comments

Observations of an ex pat: Guns, butter and bridges

Donald Trump’s economic policy can best be described as guns, butter and bridges.

At the moment the United States ratio between its public debt and what it earns as a country every year is 104.7 percent.  That means the government owes 4.7 percent more than the country earns.

If America was a business– or a private household—the bank manager would be strongly advising Uncle Sam to earn more money and/or cut expenses or file for bankruptcy.

Now, Donald Trump wants to increase defence spending by ten percent, maintain welfare spending, spend trillions on improving American infrastructure and cut taxes.

Cash to pay for this will come from increased revenues from a stimulated economy, revised trade and defence deals with other countries, cuts in environmental programmes, the diplomatic corps and foreign aid.

Can he do it? Well let’s take a quick look.

Improve Infrastructure– America has plenty of roads, bridges, railways, ports and airports. It just needs to maintain what it has—but that will cost plenty. The American Society of Civil Engineers reckons that $3.6 trillion needs to be spent by 2020 just to maintain existing infrastructure.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 2 Comments

Observations of an ex pat: Alliance 101

The Western Alliance is in disarray.

Americans are sick of picking up the tab for protecting a rich Europe from a communist threat which no longer exists. Europe is terrified at being abruptly left in the lurch facing a corrupt, authoritarian Russian threat which has replaced the communist one.

In the meantime, Britain, the traditional number two in the Western Alliance, voted Brexit and pulled the rug out from under the EU–the political and economic arm of the alliance’s European end.

It is time for a refresher course in the Western, or Transatlantic, Alliance. It is time for a re-examination of the purpose of the alliance. So here goes, Alliance 101.

Franklin Roosevelt had a vision of a post-war world run through a United Nations headed by World War Two allies—America, Britain, China and Russia. France was a reluctant afterthought.

Each of the “great powers” was given a permanent seat in the newly-formed UN Security Council. With the seat came implied responsibility for a slice of the world—America was the Western Hemisphere; Britain (with French help) Western Europe, Africa and the Middle East; Russia Eastern Europe and Central Asia and China the Far East.
Unfortunately the dream was nothing more than that. A Britain prostate from two world wars still had to organise a peaceful retreat from empire. The French were in a mess. The Chinese were in a bigger mess and faced a civil war. Only the Russians and Americans emerged better off.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 8 Comments

Observations of an Ex-Pat: Mind the gap

Mind the Gap. Three very familiar monosyllabic words for anyone who has travelled on the London Underground.

The taped announcement is a warning to beware of the potentially dangerous space between the railway carriages and the platform.

But it has a political meaning too. Any political novice will also tell you to mind the gap. Look for the space that isn’t being filled by the other parties and plug it—fast.

Well, at the moment there is a yawning chasm as the traditional parties race to head off  threats from the right and left, leaving a vacuum in the centre—the traditional winning ground.

But have the divisions that currently afflict Western societies become so acute that the centre ground is now politically unviable? We will find out—or at least be presented with a good indication— at the end of April and then again in May.

That is when the French elect their president. And it is looking increasingly as if the battle will be between the far right Marine Le Pen and her National Front Party and Emmanuel Macron’s  newly-formed En Marche  (English translation:Forward).

A few weeks ago the political landscape looked completely different. The two top contenders were Marine Le Pen and Francois Fillon. Macron and the Socialist candidate Benoit Hamon were also-rans.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 5 Comments
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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarDavid Evans 30th Mar - 7:13pm
    @Bayo Ogunrotifa - Nice joke. Keep on saying it and you will come to believe it's always someone else's fault.
  • User AvatarGlenn 30th Mar - 6:41pm
    David Raw, Harping on about the Battle bus is just a desperate bid to reduce Remain failures to one minor advert. It's like me claiming...
  • User AvatarZachary Barker 30th Mar - 6:41pm
    "Is it really in Britain’s interest to be part of NATO?" Yes, no question. It is undoubtedly in our best interests to remain in an...
  • User AvatarDavid Raw 30th Mar - 6:37pm
    @ Glenn You're still dodging the point that if politicians take notice of the papers, their subsequent actions down the food chain do affect people....
  • User AvatarDavid Raw 30th Mar - 6:27pm
    A statute of Henry V111 ? The King of England ? I don't seem to recall that particular liberal gentleman being King of Scotland or...
  • User AvatarGlenn 30th Mar - 6:22pm
    The Sun wot won. is self aggrandisement. Just because someone says they're a huge force doesn't mean they are. Loads of people used to read...