How many readers know where the Spine of Europe is? Recently I asked an Irish political philosophy post-graduate, who promptly identified the founding countries of the Iron and Steel Community. Geo- politically, he was completely mistaken, and essentially this could have been the same reply from any UK university student; especially those studying PPE. Where and how people are educated matters.
So, for the latter's benefit: The Spine of Europe is an ancient European concept that goes back to Charlemagne and comprises, the peoples and nations, within the current borders and states, of Spain, France, Germany, Poland and Russia. Simply stated, for Europe to have an enduring lasting peace these nations of, so-called States, need to be united politically and economically. It is a Europe from the Atlantic to the Urals thing.
Eventually the peoples of our four nations shall come to appreciate that this union is in their own interests, even the vast majority of the currently hoodwinked English people. The problem is that for 500 years the policy of the John Milton Brigade has been to keep The Spine of Europe apart through the application of Divide and Rule, via conflict and war, not trade. It was and is an imperial thing, bordering still on the colonial methods of conquest and domination and overlordship.
The Founding Fathers of the Treaty of Rome knew this fact very well. Hence they adopted the Carrot and Stick generational approach of ever closer union of its peoples. The Roman Empire has gone, as has the British Empire. That ended with Suez. Neither will be coming back. However much our Italian and English neighbours fantasize about it - Empire 2.0, indeed! But a new one is arising, as José Manuel Barroso said: ”Europe is an empire. A non-imperial one, it must be said. But still, an empire.” when commenting on the Treaty of Lisbon. An empire being slowly and patiently and painfully constructed to maintain peace and prosperity in Europe. An non-imperial empire built on the Rule of Law and setting out now to complete an Energy Union, a Security Union, a Capital Markets Union, a Banking Union and a Digital Single Market, all by 2025, as Juncker's State of the Union Address scoped out. The prospect of this reality is anathema to the JMB. This address, on the 13th September, was the day the new Data Protection Bill was placed before Parliament, and a new EU framework for Investment Screening was proposed. Consider here the disposal of MIPS to Tallwood VC in the US to permit Imagination's sale to Canyon Bridge of China. The JMB won't want either incorporated into UK Law. Nor welcome the prospect of a European Cybersecutity agency.
Recall what Margret Thatcher had to say in her much maligned and deliberately distorted Bruges Speech of 20th September 1988: “And let me be quite clear. Britain does not dream of some cosy, isolated existence on the fringes of the European Community. Our destiny is in Europe, as part of the Community. …... The European Community is a practical means by which Europe can ensure the future prosperity and security of its people in a world in which there are many other powerful nations and groups of nations. We Europeans cannot afford to waste our energies on internal disputes or arcane institutional debates. They are no substitute for effective action. Europe has to be ready both to contribute in full measure to its own security and to compete commercially and industrially in a world in which success goes to the countries which encourage individual initiative and enterprise, rather than those which attempt to diminish them” But how does one define success? Her “destiny” aspect is usually suppressed in the media but note the “Europe has to be ready to contribute in full measure to its own security” aspect. “Full measure” has geo-political meaning and connotations, alas, that latter phrase was her very real undoing. It emanates from Lincoln's “last full measure of devotion” in his Gettysburg Address. In the Tory Party civil war she knew it would be incendiary. Thatcher, as I have written before, always referred to the JMB as “The Enemy Within”. Which was why they engineered her downfall and orchestrated and scapegoated the pro-European element in the Tory party for her demise. In their false pride the pro-Europeans naively claimed the credit. And that is not a revisionist view of recent history because we are still living through it's consequences. It is also why I take the time to read and absorb speech's and the signals being sent, not what the media report was said or their interpretation and spin. Free speech and freedom of association are the enemy of the JMB. Thus, I believe, Margaret Thatcher would be horrified at the prospect of their Cubanisation of the UK. There shall be nothing “cosy” about it.
Recall also that it was Churchill who had to face down the fascist tendency both in England and the rest of Europe. Just as Merkel shall now have to so do once again but this time by peaceful and democratic means. It shall always be thus, for all nations have their fascist element. Merkel, thankfully, is more than capable. But is May up to it? Alas it was Jane Austin who wrote that “Irony is a truth warped in a contradiction”. Hence why Statesmen (or Stateswoman) are acknowledged as such because they put the interests of their people and nation above that of The State and their own personal interest.
Everything is being played out according to The Treaty of Lisbon, resurrected from the much maligned European Constitution by Merkel in 2006/7, which encompasses both tactical approaches. As Valery Giscard d'Estaing (the former French President and president of the Convention on the Future of Europe, which drafted the “Constitution for the people of Europe”, in 2002-2003, brought to a standstill by the No Vote Referendums in France and Holland) stated in an open letter on the 27th October 2007 : “lift the lid and look in the toolbox: all the same innovative and effective tools are there, just as they were carefully crafted by the European Convention: a stable Presidency; a streamlined Commission; a Parliament with genuine legislative rights; a Foreign Minister, even if he [she] has been given another inadequate title; decisions taken by a double majority of governments and citizens; and the most advanced charter of fundamental rights in the world. When men and women with sweeping ambitions for Europe decide to make use of this treaty, they will be able to rekindle from the ashes of today the flame of a United Europe.”
So, shall Merkel and Macron succeed where both Napoleon and Hitler failed? We shall soon know if they have the tools to so do. The Treaty of Lisbon is actually legally the same as the Constitution as Valery Giscard d'Estaing outlined in his open letter, was eventually signed into law in December 2007, by David Miliband as Foreign Secretary because Brown lacked the political courage. With the European Union, everything is hidden in plain sight, thus the game of political intrigue is played according to the Rule of Law laid down in the Treaties. Thus, the Brexiteer's can shout and rage as much as they like (it's a freewill thing) because the European Treaties are all constructed to give each of the 28 member states their say but at the end of the day the process is still being conducted under both the letter and the spirit of the Treaty of Lisbon. To which on the 23rd June 2007, Tony Blair gave his consent, at a closed meeting (like UK Cabinet's) of the Council of Ministers, in Brussels, by agreeing the substance of the Treaty of Lisbon. The next day, the 24th of June 2007, Blair resigned as Prime Minister. On the 23rd June 2016, David Cameron gave the British people a vote in a Referendum, The next day the 24th of June 2016, Cameron announced his intention to resign as Prime Minister. Yes, there was no coincidence on the date chosen for the Referendum. Note, as an aside, on the day Blair resigned he was appointed Representative to the Quartet, comprising the UN,US,EU and Russia, his tenure ended on the 27th May 2015. This chorography has relevance for Brexit and the Conventional Force in Europe Treaty which ended the Cold War, which endured from 19th November 1990 until the 11th March 2015, with a hiatus in April 2007. Significantly this now represents an opportunity for an EU special relationship to be formed with Russia once the UK departs. This will need to be established in the context of NATO's Article 5 and the EU's Article 43. How is Russia to be brought into the European fold given their withdrawal from the CFE Treaty? Answer: the same way as Theresa May set out in her Florence Speech through application of Article 8. The problem is that Article 8 was inserted at d'Estaing's instance to address Russia not the UK. What is Article 8 you ask? I have appended Article 8, 49 and 50 for readers to digest for yourselves. Note that Article 49 is the preferred mechanism of return for The City even to sustaining the loss of Sterling.
The current European peace has indeed been built on the Iron and Steel based infrastructure, as anyone at Tata and ThyssenKrupp shall argue, but the future shall be built on the Internet and AI and the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Look beyond the duplicitous propaganda and lies peddled by certain UK government ministers and you shall discover that the UK is not very well placed to go it alone in a globalized world of technical standards and supply chains. Even within the Digital Single Market. Consider why Theresa May has to appeal to the UN for support in seeking leverage over the global technology companies. And why she shall fail. The technical themes to be on the look out for are Data Sovereignty, especially in the EU dimension, and Cyber Sovereignty, especially in the China dimension, with Net Neutrality, especially in the US, all coalescing into either an Open or Closed Internet. Currently there are over 700 separate LTE networks which interface into this global network of networks. But how shall satellite networks be incorporated both tactically and strategically?
Returning here to Negroponte, who in 1995, wrote: “Some people worry about the social divide between the information-rich and the information-poor, the haves and the have-nots , The First and the Third Worlds. But the real cultural divide is going to be generational.....Early in the next millennium your right and left cuff links or earrings may communicate with each other by low-orbiting satellites and have more power than your present PC........ Mass media will be redefined by systems for transmitting and receiving personalised information and entertainment. Schools will change to become more like museums and playgrounds for children to assemble ideas and socialize with other children all over the world.... As we interconnect ourselves, many of the values of a nation state will give way to those of both larger and smaller electronic communities. We will socialize in digital neighbourhoods in which physical space will be irrelevant and time will play a different role. Twenty years from now, when you look out a window what you see may be five thousand miles and six time zones away. When you watch an hour of television, it may have been delivered to your home in less than a second. Reading about Patagonia can include the sensory experience of going there. A book by William Buckley can be a conservation with him”. (Being Digital p 6). Globalization of transnational Social Networks are already with us. Governments are scrambling to either push back by trying to put the genie back in the bottle or just play catch-up. Again it is a power and control thing. AR is on its way, but what are the consequences going to be? I shall skip over the mass media and educational aspect for a later in-depth Blog bringing Negroponte up to date. Furthermore it is to Craig Mundi, Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen we should look to assess what the“values of a nation state giving way” means.
However, this generational divide is primarily the root cause between Brexiteer grandparents and their grandchildren who fail to see the value in or appreciate their traditions (or prejudices?). Tragically the old truism “Identity is forged in opposition” applies. It was Simone Weil (who greatly influenced the European Founding Fathers especially Maurice Schumann who read the prayer's at her funeral) who gave an account of this, in her 1943, “The Need for Roots” subtitled “prelude towards a declaration of duties towards mankind”. De Gaulle thought Simone a madwoman and it is largely because of his failure to absorb her concept of “Uprootedness” that underpins most of the as yet to be corrected aspects of the Treat of Lisbon. That shall come. It is Weil's “Uprootedness”, the disconnection with the past and the loss of community, foreseen by Simone that is being exploited by Brexiteers today. Simone gave some guidelines solutions that are as yet to be enacted. Simone also foresaw how “journalism becomes indistinguishable from organised lying” when people don't have the time to establish for themselves truth from fake news. Simone's diagnosis and remedy could be a good staring point for Levison II. We shall shortly see if the new DCMS Select Committee encompass these aspects in their resumed “Fake News” Inquiry. Also with Karen Bradley appearing before the new DCMS Select Committee on the 11th October to discuss her new Code of Conduct. Hopefully, we shall see if the topic of OFCOM's loss of influence via the RSPG with a new chair up for selection at the Plenary 21st November meeting. Shall Philip Marnick's follow William Webb and take to the world stage as per 5G World in London?
Theresa May said in her Florence speech: “And we will do all this as a sovereign nation in which the British people are in control. Their decision to leave the institution of the European Union was an expression of that desire - a statement about how they want their democracy to work. They want more direct control of decisions that affect their daily lives; and that means those decisions being made in Britain by people directly accountable to them. The strength of feeling that the British people have about this need for control and the direct accountability of their politicians is one reason why, throughout its membership, the United Kingdom has never totally felt at home being in the European Union.”. Utter nonsense, this, “strength of feeling” is an older generational cultural matter, due to loss of Empire, having survived both the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the Cold War yet still fostering old deeply felt grievances, unable to let go. Our younger Digital Generation do feel at home as citizens of the EU and the world. The family relationship and community issues that intimately effect their lives, are matters in essence beyond their politicians control. It is a yearning for something else and not ultimately a reaction against the propaganda and lies fed to them over sixty years. They won the war's of their generation but lost the economic peace and now risk a generational fracture. Some don't care others do at this loss of respect from their grandchildren.
May correctly concludes that people need the certainty that they can get rid of one government and replace it by another. That is the only democratic control on offer. With the EU this shall come about with the harmonisation of the 27 election cycles and the Power of Recall. Let me be clear, in any form of representative democracy, the only control people have is over the election, not the selection, of their parliamentary representative. To the best of my knowledge that has yet to be taken away, even by a Henry VIII Power. I shall skip over May's oblique reference to One Nation Conservatism, for after 300 years it has still not materialised - as I wrote in a previous Blog.
Brutally put, if British PM's lose the argument in The Council of Ministers, they need to accept and get over it and look to their MEP's to redress their being in a minority of one. Here, once again, May is peddling the deception that the EU is not democratically accountable. It is the democratically elected Presidents, Prime Ministers and MEP's which May is deliberately misrepresenting as being under the control of the Civil Servants at the Commission. British Ministers don't write legislative bills that are put before Parliament, their Civil Servants do. If any British citizen believes that our process is transparent then they are either in denial or simply deluding themselves, just as the mass media has deluded the British people for over 40 years about the true role of these EU Commissioners. We are now witnessing the chickens coming home to roost. One UK solution would be to put Departmental Permanent Secretaries (Sir Humphreys) in front of the media on a daily basis. Then see how the public reacts. But the public never know what to make of the agencies such as OFCOM's. Why?
Alas it is human nature not to accept responsibility or the blame for their own ignorance and mistakes. Instead, as usual, the people shall look to scapegoat their leaders. But May is too astute to fall into the scapegoat trap. Nor will she do a Cameron and walk away. Cameron called her “The Submarine”, but he never really comprehended her political philosophy. Instead, May should be seen for the Spirit of Hegelian Authoritarianism she exhibited and fostered at the Home Office (needed to begin to make it fit for purpose?) which was contrary to the Liberal Conservatism exhibited by Cameron. But is May a Liberal Authoritarian at heart? Shall this Hegelian spirit be needed to confront and face down the JMB?
What technological means shall be necessary and who shall exercise the levers of power? May stated the following in her Florence Speech: “European Economic Area membership would mean the UK having to adopt at home - automatically and in their entirety - new EU rules. Rules over which, in future, we will have little influence and no vote. Such a loss of democratic control could not work for the British people. I fear it would inevitably lead to friction and then a damaging re-opening of the nature of our relationship in the near future: the very last thing that anyone on either side of the Channel wants.” That statement on one level is a plea for help and on another level a plea for mercy from her fellow EU politicians. All the more surprising given her authoritarianism. Here, what May euphemistically refers to as “friction”, in security speak, refers to civil disobedience and unrest, i.e. riots and civil war. Who among the JMB does she suspect shall stoke this friction?
Consequently is the Surveillance State under her (and Amber Rudd's) control, up to policing it? Is the new Investigatory Powers legislation fit for purpose? The answer to the latter question is emphatically: no. Even given the riots under Cameron and May's watch that was not the driving purpose of the IP Law. At least, that is my reading of it. So, May should be careful not to scapegoat and alienate these global - free trading - technology companies with her two hour response time - she may need their good offices and cooperation for the survival of her government. I would advise her to adopt the non-confrontational approach Taylor Swift took with Apple but I suspect May does not know who Taylor is. Thus May needs to pick her fights with more care. Due process cannot be denied.
I suspect two forthcoming events shall decide both her fate and that of England.
The first is the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in London in April 2018 and the prospect of losing the Balkan Security Conference by having it taken back under EU control and the further prospect of being excluded from all European security discussions and forums. Consequently shall the JMB bring her down before April 2018? We shall see. Witness the following statement of May in Florence, as with Thatcher it may be her undoing:“Neither is the European Union legally able to conclude an agreement with the UK as an external partner while it is itself still part of the European Union.”. Which gives the lie to David Davis's and the rest of the Brexiteer's constant assertion that “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed”. History shows that nothing is ever settled until it is settled right. Davis now appears to be singing from May's hymn sheet with his “in accordance with our new deep and special partnership” but neither can put the cart before the horse in the good neighbour stakes of Article 8.
Brutally putting this into another context, the British people have no democratic control over the technical specifications of the iPhone or the Internet or 5G or the ITU even. Nor should they have. It is not their democratic right for they are simply not technically competent to form a judgement or impose their will on the global technical community. But they can chose what they buy – if they can afford it. Neither can the PPE elite return for the support of the people for their failure to understand the march of science and technology. Democracy as with beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
To understand where we are at let us return to a metaphor from “The Italian Job” of a bus with the prized gold bullion perilously perched on a cliff and the people balanced at the other end. Can May, like Charlie Crocker, say “Hang on a minute lads, I've got a great idea”? Her great idea is Trust, as she stated: “So it is up to leaders to set the tone. And the tone I want to set is one of partnership and friendship. A tone of trust, the cornerstone of any relationship.” Oh Dear. You cannot trust any politician, that is why constitutional Checks and Balances are an absolutely necessity, and must not to be set aside by Henry VIII powers, and why in the EU the Rule of Law and standards applies.
Witness the following extract from the UK Space Industry Bill accompanying notes:
“DELEGATED POWERS MEMORANDUM BY THE DEPARTMENT FOR TRANSPORT
1. This Memorandum has been prepared for the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee to assist with its scrutiny of the Space Industry Bill (“the Bill”) published on 27 June 2017. The memorandum has been prepared by the Department for Transport (“the Department”) but with substantial input from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. It identifies the provisions of the Bill that confer powers to make delegated legislation and explains in each case why the power has been taken and explains the nature of, and reason for, the procedure selected.
2. The Bill contains 100 individual provisions containing delegated powers, one of which is a Henry VIII power.
3. In the light of this, delegated powers are grouped together as appropriate and schedules are addressed at the same time as the clauses which give effect to them.
4. The Department has considered the use of powers in the Bill as set out below and is satisfied that they are necessary and justified.”
What is this Henry VIII (Divine Right of Kings) Power? Why is it needed? To whom did these departmental commissioners, sorry, permanent secretary's justify it too? Consider the manoeuvrings of SSL with their new NovaSAR, mini spy satellite, system via the new UK agreement with the Australians, forming their own National Space Agency to launch it instead of the US or France. We have been here before with Blue Streak. But how will any Sovereign State react to one of these hovering over their territory? These satellites are not designed for operation with cuff links or earrings.
Now as for Catalonia? The civil servant Commissioners in Brussels can do nought. Instead ,what is known as a “Decision” in the Council of Ministers and a judicious reapportioning of the UK voting rights in the EU Parliament, on UK succession from the EU, is required to form the basis of a solution within the Spine of Europe. Perhaps Catalonia could then aspire to be the California of the EU? Who knows? There are 28 states in the EU but how many nations?In Europe the democratic task is to sort out, by peaceful and economic means, how to bring Russia into the fold through Article 8 forming a special relationship even if this takes another generation. If the two wings of Europe, England or Italy, have to sit it out in the sin-bin of Article 50 to confront their demons that is their choice. There is always the safety net of Article 49 on offer and what will be known as the Catalonia Solution.
The audience for this blog is scientifically and technically literate but our collective failure is not to appreciate the effect of our endeavours have in society. Where to begin to address this oversight? My advice is, first absorb Weil and Negroponte. I may come on to CP Snow and Karl Popper latter.
Finally, The European Statesman, Valery Giscard d'Estaing, who is well versed in Yann Fouere, is an ancestor of Charlemagne. Says it all really.
5th October 2017