Tag Archives: germany

Baroness Shas Sheehan writes…Moral leadership needed on refugee crisis

This refugee crisis is the biggest movement of people since WWII. It needs visionary people with big thinking to get to grips with it, because make no bones about it, it will need to be tackled and a head in the sand attitude will not make it go away. So, it is a  proud day when the leader of our party, Tim Farron, makes it a centrepiece of his keynote speech at conference and receives a standing ovation for it.

Politics is the art of the possible – but only when we have the leaders to make the possible happen.

The only western leader with the cojones to step up to the plate has been Angela Merkel. But she has been let down by other European leaders – not least our own Prime Minister, hiding behind the skirts of dysfunctional Dublin III regulations.

A little prodding behind Murdoch press headlines shows that last weekend’s elections in Germany, in spite of a spike in the far right vote, were far from a disaster for the pro-refugee German leader.

Britain and France make much of the “pull factors” – that making conditions just that little bit more humane will be a magnet. What utter rubbish. As though people flee their lovely homes, their lives, their careers, with only what they can carry – just to get the next phone upgrade. 

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 2 Comments

Farron: We must not pull up the drawbridge because of the Cologne attacks.

Reports of crimes and sexual assaults in Cologne on New Year’s Eve have now topped 500.

Tim Farron has said that this incident should not lead to us pulling up the drawbridge. It’s hard to see, though, how much further we could pull up our drawbridge. It’s practically wedged shut already.

Tim said:

I condemn in the strongest possible terms the sex attacks in Cologne on New Year’s Eve.

But we also must not pander to those who say pull up the drawbridge to some of the most desperate people in the world.

The values that cause us to embrace those fleeing war are the same values that refuse to tolerate this kind of violence against women. We believe such crimes should be prosecuted with the full force of the law, regardless of whether they are refugees or not.

Posted in News | Also tagged , , and | 57 Comments

Refugees – A small town in Germany

Germany refugees 3Budapest, Vienna, Munich – the newspaper and television pictures show a story of refugees fleeing from the civil war in Syria and other countries, looking for a place to stay, to keep their families safe, and most of all to survive. Images of their reception in Austria and Bavaria – most notably at Munich railway station – have been seen worldwide. Helped by thousands of volunteers and the German authorities, most of the asylum seekers have found shelter.

What does it and will it mean for Germany? And for the smaller towns and villages spread throughout the country? I live in a small town just to the East of Munich. It’s on the main railway line between Salzburg and Munich and the past week has seen both local trains and InterCity trains coming through the station packed with refugees.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 16 Comments

Opinion: Historia est Magistra Vitae: no Grexit, no Greece

The last few days showed the EU as a very resilient organisation: the Bundestag had just approved the Greek bailout, after Finland, France and Austria. But it also showed EU stretched to the breaking point: there is no Grexit but there is no Greece either.

Let us step back and look at the recent past from the future perspective through the prism of the UK. 100 years hence the history of the UK could read like this:

At the beginning of the 21st century the UK was the only state able to offer an alternative to the Franco-German concept of unified Europe. But, rather than introducing UK’s own concept based on liberal values, individual independence and social liberal policies, the UK spent its energy on questioning the EU concept (so called ‘opting out’) and fighting in-between themselves under the then Conservative leader Cameron. This meant that the UK was not offering any viable alternative and completely lost its direction. With the diminishing role of the USA, the Anglo-Saxon governance model, so prevalent during 19th and 20th centuries ceased to play any meaningful role as ‘the bureaucratic super-state’ took on an ever increasing role.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 6 Comments

Opinion: Has the EU just come of age?

It sounds a daft question, given the number of articles critical of the solution to the Greece crisis which have been appearing in my Facebook and Twitter feeds, but things are not always what they seem. Looking at unconscious processes in organisations, the things that people act out without naming tend to be the really important ones

My sense is that we might just have tipped into the space where the EU functions like a truly federal entity — albeit with a deep faith in subsidiarity — and the griping is the griping one has when a government makes a difficult decision, not when it is seen as illigitimate.

What first sent my mind in this direction was the Greek referendum. Far from being an “in/out” referendum, this was one that assumed Greece was inevitably part of the EU, woven in so tightly that this bizarre stunt could not cause them to leave. The “no” vote was strong, but so was the desire to remain in the Eurozone and the EU. For Alexis Tsipras to have made such a fuss about democracy, and then ignore the referendum could seem bizarre, but it makes more sense if I compare it with the antics of a 1970s-style shop steward garnering the support of the workers as a negotiating tactic, or the rebellions of Liverpool City Council at the height of the Militant Tendency. In both cases, quite extreme behaviour is possible because people assume an underlying unity — the shop steward does not want their members to lose their jobs, and Liverpool was not going to cease to be part of the UK. As with Greece in the EU, the strong behaviour is possible because they feel they belong.

Posted in Europe / International and Op-eds | Also tagged and | 39 Comments

LibLink: Edward McMillan Scott – The embarrassing link between Cameron and Germany’s anti-Islamic movement

Writing on Politics.co.uk, former MEP Edward McMillan-Scott highlights a potential cause of tension at today’s meeting in London between the Prime Minister and the German Chancellor:

When Angela Merkel meets David Cameron in London today, one topic could cause embarrassment to both leaders: Cameron’s association with the German anti-Islamist movement, Pegida (Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West), which was condemned at the New Year by the German chancellor.

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged , and | 7 Comments

Opinion: Nicht Schadenfreude, sondern Selbstverteidigung*

germany-flagThe exit of the Free Democrats from the German Parliament for the first time since World War II is not just an unforeseen consequence of the spectacular success of Angela Merkel.  It is a significant setback for European Liberalism, even if our German counterparts have for a generation been outriders on the right of the Liberal spectrum.

Some detailed polling shows the significant movement of votes from the FDP to the Christian Democrats .  One significant difference to note here is that the UK Conservatives are notably more right-wing on the economy and environment than their German counterparts in particular, but broadly more liberal on social issues; this has arguably helped shunt the FDP into a cul-de-sac where they are seen as uncomfortably close to some business interests.  The trouble for them, though, is threefold: they:

Posted in News | Also tagged | 11 Comments
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