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

Opinion: One further lesson from the FDP

germany-flag

A lot of people have focussed on the FDP’s failure to surpass the 5% hurdle to gain representation in the German Bundestag, following elections this weekend. While a quirk, there is another way the FDP could have maintained representation in the German Parliament.

This is the first time since 1949, when the new German constitution came into force that the FDP have not held seats in the German Bundestag. Since 1949, the party has only been out of office in five sessions out of 17, the least of any other party – effectively anchoring German politics to their version of the ‘centre ground’.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 6 Comments

5 reasons not to assume the FDP wipeout in the German elections will happen here in the UK

fdp germany logoAn amazing result for Angela Merkel, increasing her vote and almost winning an absolute majority for the conservative CDU in her third election. A dire one for the liberal FDP, eliminated from the German Bundestag after failing to cross the 5% popular vote threshold – from 93 seats to 0 in one go. Ouch.

Part of the fun of elections in foreign countries is cherry-picking the bits of confirmation bias that suit our own weltenschaung. “Liberal party wiped out after coalition with centre-right party, eh – you just wait til …

Posted in Europe / International | Also tagged , , , , and | 58 Comments

Opinion: Lords reform – how Labour could learn from the Germans

Labour clears the way. So says the century-old Labour campaign poster depicting working men smashing down the door to the House of Lords. Oh dear. Given the opportunity earlier this month to live up to that proud boast they sided instead with rebel, anti-reform Conservatives and together succeeded in forcing the Government to abandon a vote on its proposed timetable for the bill.

Without the timetable, those who, for whatever bizarre reason, don’t believe that the governed should elect those who govern them could talk until the cows come home, ensuring the reform bill is killed off.

Labour could easily have sided with the Government. The …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , , and | 14 Comments

Spain turns to the right – but are the voters rejecting ‘the left’ or incumbents?

As the polls had predicted, Spain has a new government: Rajoy’s right-wing Partido Popular (PP) defeated Zapatero’s left-of-centre Partido Socialista Obrero Español (PSOE). The only surprise was the large margin of victory, 16%, the worst defeat for Spain’s socialists in their electoral history.

So yet another right-wing government takes power in a European nation. On the face of it, it seems almost perverse that at a time when confidence in the deregulated capitalist system associated with the right is at its lowest ebb that those parties which champion it are winning elections. As I noted here on LibDemVoice back in …

Posted in Europe / International and News | Also tagged , , , , and | 9 Comments

Opinion: we must learn lessons from German Greens

It is interesting to note last weekend’s election results from Germany in the context of Nick Clegg and David Laws’ attempts to turn the Liberal Democrats into an economic liberal party. There is an economic liberal party in Germany – it’s called the Free Democratic Party (FDP). On Sunday in state elections in Baden-Württemberg and in Rhineland-Palatinate they got trounced. In the former poll they barely made it into the state parliament with 5.3% of the vote; in the latter they didn’t cross the 5% threshold and are no longer represented.

One thing that has changed in …

Posted in Europe / International and Op-eds | 34 Comments

Nick Clegg declares “Ich bin ein Berliner”

Well, sort of. Here’s the AFP report:

BERLIN — Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has already made history with his meteoric political career and on Thursday he notched up another feat: speaking German to the Germans.

“I find the famous Berlin fresh air very refreshing,” the Liberal Democrat leader told reporters in fluent German after talks with Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle in Berlin, before talking up the importance of bilateral relations.

But perhaps to the relief of Clegg’s notoriously monolingual compatriots — he speaks five tongues — he was not completely at ease with the grammatical minefield that is the German language,

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 23 Comments

Opinion: Deutschland über Europa? And why the UK should care

Since the World Cup of 1966 there has been a number of occasions for the British to hear the first lines of the former German national anthem: “Deutschland über alles. Über alles in der Welt” (“Germany above all, above all in the world”). Should a new line been added in the wake of the recent Greek crisis, and in the wait for the next one? Then it would go as “German above Europe”.

As the third major country in the EU, with France and Germany, the UK opinion and leaders should pay heed, even if this distracts a bit from home …

Posted in Europe / International and Op-eds | Also tagged | 18 Comments

Opinion: Another Greek tragedy? Time for Europhiles to admit the dream is over

In case you wouldn’t have noticed, another crisis has come on top of the big one.

For those who understand French, read carefully this article in the March 5 edition of French daily “Le Monde” . A former German finance vice-minister buries the euro as it is now and advises all Southern-Europe economies (including France) to get out of the Eurozone if they don’t clean up their act, behave more like Germany and adopt many unacceptable social measures. Some German backbenchers have suggested these might include selling off some islands (who would buy these? You guess).

That doesn’t yet …

Posted in Europe / International and Op-eds | Also tagged , , , , , , and | 56 Comments

News updates: tax-dodging Germans and Andrew Rosindell

In February I reported on the question facing various governments in Europe: should they buy stolen data which will help identify law breaking tax-dodgers? The German government did this in 2008 and the threat of a repeat was sufficient to cause a mini-sampede of people confessing their sins. Nearly 2,500 Germans have now agreed to pay up. That has not been enough to stop the German government though: it has not only purchased the data but is also now talking about making another purchase of an extra CD containing further Swiss data.

More recently, I also linked to a story …

Posted in News | Also tagged and | Leave a comment

Daily View 2×2: 8 November 2009

It’s Sunday. It’s 7am. It’s time to find out how peanut butter is made. But first, the news.

2 Big Stories

Gordon Brown floats idea of tax on financial transactions

Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s idea of a financial transactions tax has received a lukewarm response from G20 countries.

The proposal, which took delegates by surprise at the meeting in St Andrew’s overshadowed other items on the agenda.

The US said it would “not support” a transaction tax and Canada added it was “not an idea we would look at”.

The Conservatives said that Downing Street had previously “poured cold water on this proposal” and that the Treasury had called it “unworkable”.

Chancellor Alistair Darling said the leaders had agreed the International Monetary Fund should now consider the possibility of introducing an international transactions tax, which would be used to create a fund for bank bailouts. (BBC)

Posted in Daily View | Also tagged , , and | Leave a comment

Daily View 2×2: 28 September 2009

2 Big Stories


Germany elects new centre-right government to be led by Angela Merkel

The Financial Times reports:

Germany is on course for its first centre-right government in 11 years after voters gave chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union and her Free Democratic allies a majority in parliament.

The victory of the conservative-liberal alliance – which had campaigned for tax cuts and a return to nuclear energy, but also social justice and tougher rules for finance – in Sunday’s poll ends four years of awkward co-operation between the CDU and its rival Social Democratic party in a grand coalition. …

Posted in Daily View | Also tagged , , , , , , and | 3 Comments

German elections: the view from the chalk face

If you clicked on this hoping for some in-depth political analysis from a seasoned commentator drawing on the full range of German daily newspapers – then stop reading here. Hardbitten politico I am not; my grasp on the minute-by-minute situation as a time-pressed mother of a toddler with no voting rights (as a UK citizen) is tenuous. Nonetheless, in these pre-election weeks, it would be hard not to pick up on the political vibes in the air and catch some of the excitement; even the discussions round the sandpit in our local park have been touching on party politics in …

Posted in Europe / International and Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 8 Comments
Advert



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarSimon Pike 18th Aug - 8:50am
    On the whole, I like it. It is short (i.e. can be large enough to be visible in photos) and conveys our values. I see...
  • User AvatarHumphrey Hawksley 18th Aug - 8:34am
    It is great there is finally a 'bumper sticker' mission statement. My reservation is that 'demand' underpins an activist role and not the decision-making role...
  • User AvatarJohn Marriott 18th Aug - 8:30am
    For ‘EU sceptic’ read ‘EU pragmatist’. It does help to reread your stuff.
  • User AvatarPeter Martin 18th Aug - 8:28am
    @ Innocent Bystander, "I would have thought that an English person who emigrated to Australia and took Australian citizenship would have the courtesy to support...
  • User AvatarChris Lewcock 18th Aug - 8:21am
    Policies first. Slogans second. Please.
  • User AvatarGeoff English 18th Aug - 8:10am
    Talking of August by-elections and turnouts - the turnout in the Port Talbot by-election , where we failed to field a candidate but the Conservatives...