Author Archives: Bernard Aris

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).

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The narrow-mindedness of Theresa May as prime minister in a transforming world

While watching the Theresa May profile by Tory and newspaper “sketch” writer Matthew Parris on BBC Newsnight on the eve of the General Election  I was alarmed by hearing various people interviewed by Parris repeating objections to May’s breath of knowledge and policy interest I had earlier encountered in the Economist editorial and Bagehot column about her.

In his column in The Economist of 27th May,  Bagehot writes that in the social care U-turn fiasco, two worrying trends in May’s approach of being (prime) minister and politician came together with an aspect of her policy interests and knowledge.

Firstly, he says it is an “established impression” that May knows “precious little about business and economics”, and doesn’t mind that omission, doesn’t try to remedy it.  In the Economist editorial endorsing not the Tories or Labour but us Lib Dems  the paper also mentions her ignoring the economic aspect (“starving the economy of the skills it needs to prosper”) of a purely numbers-based restriction of immigration.

In the Newsnight profile, the point about economics was brought forward both by her former Cabinet colleague Nick Clegg, and by baroness Camilla Cavendish, ex-McKinsey consultant and prominent journalist with The Times before being in Camerons No. 10 Policy unit (2015-‘6). Clegg said he was struck by her lack of interest in economic aspects of for example immigration policy, while obsessing about immigration numbers. Vince Cable, former business secretary, made the same point  in this campaign, criticizing May’s cavalier pushing of a hard Brexit in spite of the thousands of jobs in London in branches of companies whose HQ is on the EU continent.

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How the Dutch embed anti-radicalisation efforts in stronger local “joined-up” government and co-operation

Radicalisation amongst young muslims often starts with exclusion from job opportunities, dropping out of school and/or sliding into petty crime and youth vandalism. Many famous jihadis started out as drinking, partying and stealing adolescents and youths; to be turned around abruptly like many converted “sinners” in many religions. It is also connected to growing up in problematic families (from which orthodox or jihadi Islam seems to offer a refuge; certainties their own family fails to offer).

And intelligence about who is at risk of such radicalization trajectories always starts with good, steady community policing; in Tim Farron’s words: with “information being passed on”, and building up “knowledge about who’s who, and who needs to be kept under surveillance”. Cutting police numbers outside the “terrorism specialists” as May claims to have done, means cutting more into ordinary community policing.

The Netherlands also has had native jihadis killing people on the street (for example the 2004 killing of muslim-mocking polemicist and filmmaker Theo van Gogh.  The jihadist propaganda from the Belgian/Flemish “Sharia4Belgium/Sharia4Holland”-sect spilled over into Dutch public debates, inviting Anjem Choudari to a 2011 press conference.

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Our Liberal “Internationalism”, born in a period of party fragmentation, is now our uniting and unique selling point

When you consult books about Liberal and Liberal Democrat party history about the birth of our “Internationalism”, European “Federalism” and our thesis that stand-alone nationstates (and “narrow nationalism”) become more and more obsolete, you discover a surprising fact.

According to Michael Steed’s chapter “Liberal Tradition” in Don MacIver’s bundle “The Liberal Democrats” (from 1996), it was in the comprehensive policy survey “The Liberal Way” of 1934, that we stated that in future, “narrow nationalist” parties everywhere would face parties, the Liberals firmly among them, supporting the growing, factual interdependence as best policy basis. Philip Kerr, marquis of Lothian, said (1935): “the only final remedy for war is a federation of nations”. But personal guilt about having himself written the War Damages clause in the Versailles Treaty made Kerr become an  advocate of appeasement to Germany, a Liberal dissident, until the Munich Agreement.

Both Chris Cook’s history of the Liberals in 1900-’76, and Robert  Ingham & Duncan Brack’s authoritative bundle “Peace Reform & Liberation” (PRL; 2001) tell that this  “interdependence  makes collectivism better policy”-idea was formulated in a phase of disintegration of the Liberal party (the split about the 1931 National Government; desertions to the National Liberals and Labour; loss of seats).  

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Social Liberals: winning against Populism because we have “street force”

First of all, on behalf of the tens of thousands D66 party members (over 25.000; and we’re gaining members every week for the past year,  our heartfelt congratulations to the Lib Dems on passing the 100.000 members threshold. And you’re not done yet, I know.

If we look to our Spanish and French social-liberal, pro-EU sister parties, Ciudadános and Macrons movement “En Marche”, they too are booking spectacular results in gaining members, and getting members active on the street. According to the French Wikipedia and the Economist, En Marche (EM) claimed 88.000 members in October 2016, and  250.000 now.  The Economist reports about EM-activists canvassing the British way in Strassbourg streets (and elsewhere).

That is the big difference I noticed in the Dutch European elections (2014) and our recent General Elections (March 2017):

  • whereas D66 activists were visible on the (high) streets and at train station entrances handing out leaflets months before (and until) election day,
  • other progressive parties (PvdA/Labour, GreenLeft, and old-style Socialists\SP) were strangely absent, where they dominated the scene until about ten years ago,
  • the center-right parties (VVD/NatLibs and CDA/Christian Democrats) and PVV never were very active in that way.

D66 has also started canvassing the British way in “friendly” neighbourhoods, talking to people on the doorstep; but we seldom hear that from other Dutch parties. Only PvdA/Labour appears to do that, and the Socialists/SP say they do it.

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Our Spanish sister-party Ciudadános is using “Community Politics” to build up support

 

Two weekends ago (from Friday March 31st to Sunday April 2nd) a group of D66 party members from The Hague, with council leader Robert van Asten and national Foreign Secretary Tjeerd Dierckxsens from the party executive, visited our brand-new Spanish sister party Ciudadános in Madrid, where their constituency party received us. They turned out to be very similar to your average D66/LibDem man or woman.

Spain was the first European country ever where a small progressive majority of  anti-Napoleon politicians convening in Cádiz (protected by Wellingtons expeditionary force) promulgated a truly liberal Constitution in 1812; but when the Bourbon king returned from French captivity in 1814 he canceled all that and restored absolutist rule. Liberal rule was temporarily restored in 1820-1823, and later on for longer periods of time during the 19th century. But Conservatism (working hand in glove with the Catholic Church and the monarchy) and Socialism (starting in 1870-1900) proved stronger than the small, urban, liberal minority. Liberalism disappeared from Spanish politics in the 20th century, especially because of the polarization culminating in the Civil War (1936-9) and Franco’s dictatorship (1939-’75).

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D66 leader makes waves taking a stand against anti-gay violence

D66, the party that initiated a global wave of legalizing gay marriage, made itself the emblem of a day-long Dutch media craze that even extended to Dutch diplomats in London and at the UN in New York, as the Huffington Post reported.

It all started when two Dutch gay men, walking home hand in hand from their pub over the (in)famous bridge at Arnhem, were accosted by a group of youths (some of them around 14 years old), with one having four front teeth knocked out.

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Brexit could starve the NHS and British arts & culture from European input

I’m pretty sure that British media have carried many interviews with EU citizens living and working in the UK about their thoughts about Brexit (and especially a “hard”, complete Brexit), and about whether they want to stay or leave now that Brexit seems inevitable.

I want to point to one case: the Dutch/Finnish modern musician Juha van’t Zelfde, who from 2014 was artistic director of the multimedia cultural center “Lighthouse” in Brighton. Because the outlooks of him and his girlfriend point to two terrains where the Brexit votes (referendum & parliament), the reactions in British society, …

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Compare the Dutch Government’s attitude to Trump’s travel ban to Theresa May’s

On Wednesday, February 1st, people from D66, myself included, attended   a medium-sized (2.500 people for an event organized in 3 days) demonstration in The Hague about Trumps policies (immigration ban; Muslims; Disabled; Women) and style of politics and government. This being an election campaign season, it was also attended by party leaders of PvdA (Labour), D66 (Dutch LibDems) and the Greens; and NGO’s like Amnesty and Oxfam NOVIB (=Dutch branch Oxfam) sent speakers. So far nothing remarkable.

But it was exceptional that the PvdA party leader, Asscher, is also vice prime minister and minister on Immigrants Integration, and that the PvdA minister on Education and Emancipation (including LGTB and disabled) filled the PvdA speakers slot.

I started following Dutch politics in gymnasium (Dutch type of Grammar school) around 1970; this was the second time in that era that Dutch Cabinet ministers attended demonstrations against policies of foreign governments.

The first time was when PvdA prime minister Joop den Uyl (leading a mostly progressive coalition that included D66) spoke on a demonstration against the garroting of Basque ETA activists by the Spanish Franco (fascist) government in 1974.

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Churchill inspires D66 fightback against Trumpism and Farage’s people-expulsing “Hard Brexit”

This past week, both the Guardian and the Sun  had articles about the deputy ALDE liberal group leader Sophie in’t Veld  in the European Parliament getting involved in the mistreatment of ordinary EU citizens, living and working in the UK and being married to Britons, by the May government and its over-enthusiastic Brexiteer ministers. Both newspapers only failed to mention which party Mrs In’t Veld belongs to: none other than D66, the social-liberal inheritors of the pre-War VDB.

As one of three parties at the origins of Dutch abortion legislation (very similar to David Steel’s brilliant Liberal inheritance on that point in Britain), D66 fully supports the initiative by our Trade & Development minister Mrs Ploumen to try to compensate family planning advice and abortion services in the Third World, scrapped by Mr. Trump and his Christian-fundamentalist Vice President Pence. We’ll support continuing that compensatory policy in the next Dutch coalition government formed in the coming summer.

People who know about the career of Winston Churchill will be outraged by the fact that president Trump, who cosies up to jingoist-Russian, NATO-threatening and EU-subverting president Putin, put up a bust of Churchill in his Oval Office. You only have to look up Churchill’s Wikipedia item to see that from 1934 onwards (Hitler walking out of the League of Nations and abandoning his Versailles restrictions), Churchill sought and got data about German re-armament (Luftwaffe) and harried the appeasing Tory governments to re-arm Britain. An enormous contrast; Trump is behaving more like the self-seeking, protectionist European governments, not paying attention to foreign policy, which proved such easy pickings for Hitler and (in Poland and the Baltic) Stalin.

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Washington Women’s March contributing to the new Liberator song book?

 

In 1969 in the middle of a US countryside pasture they organized a small music festival called Woodstock. The organizers (having lined up the “fine fleur” of the pop music in those days) counted on 200,000 visitors max. As the later song about that legendary festival attests, it were much more: “By the time we got to Woodstock, we were half a million strong”.

The same thing happened with the Women’s March on Washington, as older demonstrators noted. Dutch television news, in an overview of ‘Women’s March’ -demonstrations in American cities, even showed a massive demonstration in a city (not the capital) in the Mormon state of Utah; that must have shocked some conservative Republicans!

Another fact: this demo in Washington, with around 500,000 demonstrators, was larger than any Vietnam demonstration in the unruly ’60s (1965-1974). Vietnam vet and ex-Foreign Secretary John Kerry attended the Washington March. And while bully orator Donald Trump wriggled out from military service altogether to avoid being sent to Vietnam, John Kerry volunteered…

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May’s “Hard Brexit” causes tensions in previously strong UK-Dutch relationship

Despite all the sugar-coating in her speech, the “Hard Brexit” announced by prime minister May didn’t go down well with Dutch businesses, many of whom have done business with Britain for decades.

The combination of the threats uttered alongside the Hard Brexit option, and a series of recent stories in Dutch newspapers about extradition letters being sent to Dutch housewives by Tory immigration ministers, seriously changed the way many UK-loving Dutch think about being in Britain, and British policy attitudes.

That point was today brought home to me, when I met a friend whose family had been visiting the Lake District every summer for decades. He told me that he didn’t feel as welcome in England as he used to, seeing the way the May government is treating our mixed-married compatriots who also love Britain. He pointed out that May’s “walk away” threat puts British-Dutch couples in complete limbo. 

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I agree with Nick: “EU must fear havoc from both sides now”

I was surprised when the BBC in its TV news bulletins yesterday (Monday 16th of January) interviewed our Nick Clegg by way of reaction to the infamous Trump interview by Gove and Bild Zeitung. Nick said that Britons and Europeans need to realize that from Trumps Inauguration, Europa has two big powers’ presidents who wish the EU to disintegrate; his words were “who wish the EU ill”.

In a previous posting, I enumerated how Socialist parties in the UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain have withered away; and how leaders of such parties like Corbyn and the Dutch …

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Trying (too hard) to curb EU free movement: A symptom of the EU-wide social democracy meltdown

Just as I was reading Nick Tyrone’s blog about Corbyn betraying the EU freedom of movement but wanting to have the EU cake nonetheless, another recently-elected Labour leader came on Dutch public radio. Note the date: Tuesday, January 10th, 2017.

I’m talking about former Amsterdam alderman and present Dutch minister of Social Affairs, the ambitious lawyer Lodewijk Asscher of the “Partij van de Arbeid”/PvdA, literally: “Labour Party”.

In the 1980s, when Labour under Michael Foot was going through its “Militant Tendency” phase, the then PvdA leaders, ex-prime minister (1973-’77) Den Uyl and coming prime minister (1994-2002) Wim Kok deplored that leftist populism and leftist political correctness gone wild. So both criticised it: British Labour, come to your senses.

Not today.

In the Dutch campaign that just got started for the General Election on 15th March, Mr. Asscher, who just two weeks ago won a party leadership contest, just said that he counted on “European Leftist support” (PvdA jargon: from fellow Labour and social democratic parties) to pursue his top-profile policy: curbing free movement of labour through the EU. When the radio presenter quoted a phrase Gordon Brown grew to regret: “Jobs for our labourers first”, Mr. Asscher readily agreed. And who does he expect to get support from?

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Farage’s legacy and continental populist laws put EU expats in UK in impossible quandary

 

With Farage’s legacy (Britain leaving an EU it never loved) and Trump’s victory in the US (appointing Putin’s friends on key White House and ministerial positions), the world is getting back to the “each for his own, beggar-thy-neighbour”-politics that were such a stunning success in bringing wealth to everybody in the 1930’s.

What the possible success in upcoming European elections of populist parties (many already being sponsored by Putin) will mean to European expats living in the UK (often being married to a British citizen) is becoming clear with the cases of a Dutch engineer/housewife and a German aerospace executive who both received orders from the UK home office to leave the country forthwith, as reported by The Guardian.

In the case of the Dutch woman, who was unjustly rejected in her application for British citizenship, an earlier Dutch political success by convicted racist populist Geert Wilders has aggravated the significance of applying for British citizenship; and will do so in the case of all Dutch inhabitants of the UK. (I wouldn’t be surprised if they are in their thousands).

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Dutch “Liberal” VVD cosying up to the Tories and distancing itself from “European” Liberals

vvdIn the past week, attentive British citizens could see a clear divide opening up between the two Dutch ALDE member parties, the EU-enthusiasts and Social Liberals (in Beveridge’s tradition) D66, and the populist (see the enduring stature of prominent ex-leaders like Hans Wiegel) VVD.

On Monday, a short furore erupted in the British tabloid media over conversation notes gleaned from the writing pad of a Tory political assistant coming out of Downing Street 10 (or 9: the Brexit Department). She was the assistant of Tory party vice-chairman (International) Mark Field, and she and Field were accompanying foreign visitors who obviously had had a meeting about Brexit. The notes appeared to suggest that the Tory Brexit strategy is as Boris Johnson sometime brags: “have your cake and eat it”. Nobody asked or mentioned who those foreigners were: the leader, Mr. Halbe Zijlstra, and Foreign Affairs spokesman, Mr. Han ten Broeke, of the VVD parliamentary party.

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The “Ambassador Farage” episode: Brexiteers, be careful what you wish for!

The episode where president-elect Donald Trump twittered that he’d like to get his goodpal Nigel Farage as British ambassador to the US, was a stern lesson to the pro-Brexit-camp in British politics – be careful what you wish for; if you get it, it may turn out to be a nightmare.

The following summary of this episode and the start of Trump’s Transition is mainly based on Dutch newspaper articles: Telegraaf, Financieel Dagblad, Volkskrant, of the past two weeks.

It all started with Mr Farage, being the undisputed first foreign politician to be invited to Trump’s Transition HQ.

Shortly afterwards, in a talkshow on Londons LBC Radio, Mr. Farage said that what president Trump needed was “a good eurosceptic ambassador” in Brussels for the EU and European NATO partners, and he would like to get that job. Another guest on the show, Labour MP Chuka Ummuna, expressed his horror at that idea, to which Farage replied “anything that will diminish or destroy the EU; I don’t care how we do it.”

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Dutch D66 starts fightback against Trumpish Populism

In the aftermath of the Trump victory in the American elections, D66, the direct Dutch equivalent of the Lib Dems, has started a fightback both against the rising, fact-free and people-insulting populism personified by Trump, and against the appeasement-like reaction of the Dutch government on Trumps election.

It started not only with the usual statement on the party website by party leader Alexander Pechtold MP, but with D66 publishing small advertisements (with a large party logo) in national Dutch newspapers, in which we stated that the age of staying passive in the face of rising populism had passed, it was time to join a party willing to fight back like D66.

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The internationalist LibDems should represent the expats in the Brexit debate

“Nieuwsuur”, the Dutch equivalent of BBC Newsnight, on Wednesday October 5th had an item about the situation that the tens of thousands of Britons (43,000, according to estimates) living in the Netherlands landed in because of the Brexit. In the capital Amsterdam alone, there are 15.000 British inhabitants; so it was logical that the local “Expat Center” opened an information desk once the result of the referendum became known. The town mayor, Mr. Van der Laan (PvdA/Labour), organized an information evening at which he recommended not to be too hasty in taking decisions about one’s status and/or position. He …

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Corbyn and NATO

 

That an absolute neophyte at serious politics like Donald Trump becomes the first American presidential nominee (from either the Democratic or Republican Party) to question Washingtons NATO article 5 obligation of “Collective Defense” shouldn’t surprise anybody.

But that a sitting Labour party leader fighting to continue in that job, and hoping to win the next general election, does the same is absolutely incredible. And the fact that he did so only a couple of weeks after flip-flopping over EU membership (from a very conditional “Remain” before, to a “get out now” the day after the Referendum)  creates the impression that he thinks the UK can go it alone, without the support, let alone the trust of European partners, on all foreign policy issues.

At the Birmingham hustings for the leadership elections last week, Corbyn said that when Russia threatens to attack or invade any NATO country, he hoped to avoid that by diplomatic means, and that he “doesn’t want to go to war”. But any historian can tell you that diplomacy can only speak softly if you carry a big stick for people who don’t respect any other kind of argument.  To put it in a Marxist metaphor: without the material fundamentals the political superstructure won’t function.

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A D66 gambit puts Wilders at centre of Autumn Brexit barrage

In my LDV contribution in early June I reported that the Dutch CPB (=equivalent of the IFS) warned that every Dutch citizen stood to lose 1.000 euros (by 2030) as a direct consequence of a Brexit.
Now that Brexit has been decided, but article 50 will only be invoked in 2017, a long period of international uncertainty has started. In its “Autumn Estimate”, the same CPB has today (August 9) concluded that Brexit and its uncertainty will hit the Dutch economy and society hard, starting in 2016-7. And we have general elections in March of 2017.

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Post-Farage UKIP and Trump’s Republicans: Populists can derail themselves, too

 

The first seven months of 2016 have seen big, consensus-upsetting scores by populist parties across Europe.

The election in Italy of two women from Beppe Grillo’s “Five Star Movement” to become mayors of Rome and Turin (the present capital and the residence of Italy’s founding Savoy dynasty, respectively) in June; the success of Dutch populists (Wilders’ PVV and the weblog “GeenStijl”) and British populists (UKIP) at two big EU-related national referenda in April and June, and the breakthrough of Germany’s racist “Alternative für Deutschland” (AfD) in three German regional elections (biggest score: 24,3% in Saxony-Anhalt) in March, all were seen as portents of big electoral upsets, threatening established party-political balances of power.

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Pre-testing Party Drugs: concrete steps avoid concrete pills

In the latest British edition of The Economist (July 30th) , there is a report about a useful initiative in the field of (il)legal highs and party drugs like XTC (as we Dutch spell ecstacy). It appears that there is a non-profit organization called The Loop, with a professor Fiona Measham, criminologist at Durham University, amongst its co-directors; she is their spokesperson in the article.

Medical Drugs for Pharmacy Health Shop of MedicineThey’re this year starting to travel around local summer music festivals, offering festival-goers to test their party drugs before they consume them. The result at the “Secret Garden Party” near Cambridge were sobering: stuff sold as “MDMA crystal” was ordinary brown sugar, and hard grey pills were actually made from concrete, the building material. And where XTC really was XTC, some pills were five times as potent as others being tested.

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The Iraq Fiasco: British & Dutch Social Liberals apply their commitment to Rule of International Law

Ever since Cobden & Bright, British Liberals have been keen supporters of using peaceful means like Arbitration and International Law for the settlements of disputes. When Gladstone brought forward the Ottoman repression of the Bulgarians, criticized the imperialism of Disraeli’s Afghan and Zulu Wars, and launched “6 right principles”, he brought Human Rights and equality of nations into international politics. Many Liberals supported the League of Nations Union and its predecessors.

Dutch Liberalism, especially the Social-Liberal, cosmopolitan kind, has always cherished the International Law tradition of Grotius. Professor Van Vollenhoven in 1910 advocated a World Court …

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Ship-jumping Brexiteers should stay to clear the mess they created

Dutch EU Commissioner Timmermans: For me, the British still belong inside Europe

On the day Nigel Farage abandoned the UKIP ships captaincy, with the UK ship still not negotiating the EU harbour exit to go and “rule the waves” (so all Kippers hope), Dutch top politicians, and official spokesmen from both Dutch liberal parties (The LibDems-like Social Liberals of D66, and the Free Market & automobile-loving Liberals of the VVD) made pronouncements which in effect support what the British Liberal Democrats have said all along since the Brexit Referendum result became clear.

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Johnson and Gove, like Trump, believe in the magical power of the word

 

In a recent analysis  in the Washington Post of why Republican voters keep on supporting Trump and his “macho gone beserk”-rhetoric, the veteran American political analyst E.J. Dionne cited a classic book about Right-Wingers and their rhetoric, what they believe their phrases can accomplish.

The social scientists Seymour Martin Lipset and Earl Raab observed in their classic book from 1970 “The Politics of Unreason/ Right Wing Extremism in America, 1790-1970” that:

Right-wing extremists have always highlighted ‘the magical power of the word’ and the faith that just saying the right thing, believing the right thing, is the substance of victory and remedy.

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Official, authoritative Dutch government calculations: “Every Dutch citizen stand to lose 1000 euros through a Brexit”

 

The morning papers in the Netherlands and NOS (our BBC)  all reported last week on a report of the government’s Centraal Plan Bureau (CPB = Central Planning Office, authoritative since its start in the late 1940’s like your IFS; they seldom are far off the mark in their predictions). I base this piece on articles in De Volkskrant (our Guardian) and Financiele Dagblad (equivalent of the Financial Times) and the NOS news website. It makes for worrisome reading.

The immediate effect of a Brexit is, according to the report, that it will cost 1.2% of GDP by 2030, that is, 575 euro per Dutch citizen. Indirect consequences like loss of innovation because of lower trade can increase that by 65%, to 1000 euro each. The damage will be sector specific; the most seriously affected (around 5% loss) will be

  • the chemical sector (that is for example DSM, and our petrochemical sector near Rotterdam);
  • electronics (Philips, just now specializing in expensive medical technologies);
  • food processing (our emblematic dairy industry: Friesland Foods and our extensive chicken and pork breeding industry; in Brabant province there are more pigs than humans).
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Some consequences of Brexit that we haven’t considered enough

Mario Draghi, the president of the European Central Bank (ECB), has said many times that the ECB has scenarios prepared for any eventuality which might occur after a Brexit.

This week, at a financial summit in Italy, ECB executive member (he’s the Governor of the Bank of France, trained at ENA, France’s elite government luminaries school) Francois Villeroy de Galhau spelled out some more what Draghi meant: if a Brexit causes serious disruption in financial markets (and an overwhelming majority of experts predict just that), the ECB and EMU governments will do all they can to fend off and stop such disruption in its tracks. Mind you: that means EMU will dig in hard, without consideration towards non-members, not to mention people walking out of the EU in a huff. The UK will within days feel what “splendid isolation” from EMU does to the London City, even before the JP Morgan mass transfer of jobs has started. It is not for nothing that Draghi is insisting it would be wiser for Britain to remain in the EU.

Top executives like the CEO of Emirates Airlines, Tim Clark, who has to deal with exchange rates on a daily basis, predicts economic insecurity and a “free-falling Euro” all over Europe in case of a Brexit, which will affect air travel (at the start of the summer holiday season: scarcity of seats; price hikes for tourists). That’s what he told an IATA summit in Ireland on Friday. Such a steep lowering of the Euro will result in ECB hitting the brakes blindly: “Save the EMU/Euro first, and worry about ‘collateral damage’ later”.  No easing out of Europe gradually, like the Brexiteers are dreaming about.

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