Brexit Referendum

We are now on the run-up to the Brexit Referendum. Those who know me will know my position:
The European Coal & Steel Commission was set up in 1957 to do two things. To stop Germany invading France every generation, as they had done since 1870. And to enable any citizen of any member country to buy as much of whatever they wanted in the country that sold it cheapest without paying extra duty for bringing it home. Job one: resounding success. Job two: utter failure. Insofar as there should be any political union or common home or foreign policy, this should be led by Britain, who have a 1,000 year track record of getting it right, rather than (say) Germany or Belgium who tend to slip into tyrannies if you take their reins off.
David Cameron’s position is that, however much he believes that the UK will do better staying in than getting out, if the EU will not reform then leaving it would indeed be in our country’s best interests. But politicians notoriously shift their position to put themselves in the best light. Has the Prime Minister committed himself to anything concrete that we can quantify as an uncrossable red line?
I believe that he has: and those red lines are laid out in his letter to Donald Tusk, President of the European Council. Here they are:

  • “There should be no discrimination and no disadvantage for any business on the basis of the currency of their country”
  • “Any changes the Eurozone decides to make…must be voluntary for non-Euro countries, never compulsory”
  • “Taxpayers in non-Euro countries should never be financially liable for operations to support the Eurozone as a currency”
  • “And any issues that affect all Member States must be discussed and decided by all Member States”
  • “…the burden from existing regulation is still too high…cut the total burden on business.”
  • “…end Britain’s obligation to work towards an ‘ever closer union’ as set out in the Treaty.”
  • “National Security is – and must remain – the sole responsibility of Member States…”
  • “when new countries are admitted to the EU in the future, free movement will not apply to those new members…”
  • “…people coming to Britain from the EU must live here and contribute for for years before they qualify for in-work benefits or social housing.”

These nine points seem to me clear-cut and testable. If the EU flatly refuses to comply with any one of them, then David Cameron must be honour-bound to tell the British people that he recommends we leave the EU. And we need to hold him to this.

Here is the full text of David Cameron’s letter

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/475679/Donald_Tusk_letter.pdf

And here is Donald Tusk’s unavoidably ambiguous reply

http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2015/12/07-tusk-letter-to-28ms-on-uk/

Let battle commence!

David Cameron is Inspired by My Speech (Allegedly)

On Sunday 18th October I asked a written question of the President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews. He gave a written response, to which I replied from the floor in clarification:

My Question: How would it damage British Jewry to concentrate exclusively on working with Muslim groups and individuals who are not anti-Zionist – maybe Ahmadiyya, Sufis and Ismailis, – together with (say) DCLG, Eric Pickles and Quilliam, to encourage a peaceful, integrated, British kind of Islam to empower neutral, tolerant Muslims?

Answer from the President: The Board has a policy of co-operating with a variety of Muslim groups both to foster good relations between the communities and to work on issues of mutual interest – for example shechitah and brit milah. While we may not agree on all matters, it is far better to engage the Muslim communities rather than refuse to talk to anyone who does not agree with all of our views on Israel.

My response from the floor: Mr President, when I said we should work exclusively with Muslim groups and individuals who are not anti-Zionist, I wasn’t suggesting we reject approaches from such groups.
No, what I meant was that we shouldn’t be forever running after self-styled Muslim ‘community leaders’ in the name of inter-faith.
A century ago Colonel Albert Goldsmid, founder of our wonderful Jewish Lads and Girls Brigade, enjoined our immigrant forefathers to “iron out the ghetto bend”. No more should we be ‘trembling Israelites’.
We should have the confidence to know that, as fully integrated, contributing citizens of this country, our Brit Milah is first class surgery and our Shechita minimizes animal suffering. We can help our Muslim fellow-citizens improve their practices if they ask us: but under no circumstances should we ‘check the privilege’ so hard-won by our forebears.
There are nearly 3 million Muslims in Britain: don’t tell me that there aren’t a few tens, even hundreds of thousands who are happy to live & let live, and are only stopped from expressing themselves by fear of opposition or worse from the majority leaders.
I see no reason we can’t unapologetically cultivate those minority groups and voices within the ummah that are neutral or tolerant towards Israel.

I think David Cameron must have heard me. This piece by him appeared in ‘The Times’ the following day:

Times Articles Inspired by My BoD Speech (2)

If there is any doubt, here is the text of an e-mail I wrote to a number of my right-thinking fellow Deputies on 4th October, which I later condensed into my question:

Dear Friends,

I thought I’d just fly a kite in the run-up to the next BoD meeting.

Have any of you, like me, been frustrated and irritated by our communal leadership’s predilection for endlessly running after Muslim ‘community leaders’ in this country in the name of inter-faith?

It seems that the more they condemn Israel and become entrenched in their opposition to it as a Jewish state, the more our leaders tie themselves in knots and bend over backwards to try to appease them.

They emphasise our shared commitment to ritual male circumcision and religious slaughter, as if that somehow outweighs the standard Muslim narrative of ‘Death to Israel’.

How about a different approach?

Instead of making up to the MCB and the self-styled mainstream majority spokesmen for British Muslims, why don’t we cultivate those minority groups and voices within the ummah that are neutral or tolerant towards Israel?

There are nearly 3 million Muslims in Britain: don’t tell me that there aren’t a few tens, even hundreds of thousands who are happy to live & let live, and are only stopped from expressing themselves by fear of opposition or worse from the majority leaders.

How difficult would it be for us to work with (say) DCLG, Eric Pickles and the Quilliam Foundation to empower these neutral voices at the expense of the Islamists?

I’m thinking in terms of Ahmadiyya, Sufis and Ismailis; many of you will know others.

Or am I on to a total loser here?

Beaten Slave Time Ends!

Don’t forget, at 02:00 on Sunday 25th October, Beaten Slave Time ends and God’s Mellow Time begins. BST was invented in 1907 by an evil slave-driver called William Willett. He always awoke at dawn, feeling bright and full of beans, as do all vile swine, and straight away started hatching plots to further oppress his wretched wage-slaves, bitterly regretting that serfdom had been abolished. One morning he was riding out at dawn – no servile labour for him! – and became enraged at seeing the shuttered windows behind which his employees were sleeping, possibly having enjoyed social activities or even – horror! – sexual intercourse with their spouse the night before. How dare they sleep when there was enough light in the sky for them to start making him more money!
So he published a pamphlet “The Waste of Daylight”, pushing for the clocks to be put back in the summer.
Fortunately his father the Devil haled him off to a suitably early grave in 1915 at the age of 58, so he was deprived of seeing his perverted scheme being written into English law the following year. Let us hope he is roasting for all eternity, having his foreskin constantly punched by a red-hot time clock!

Trains from the East

I’ve been looking at those trains passing through Hungary, carrying refugees from further east, and seeing the Hungarian police offer them food and water, which they throw on the ground in contempt. And I’m reminded of other trains travelling the same route, 72 years ago, also en route to a place that in those days was in Germany. Those passengers, when the train stopped at a station, offered gold and jewellery for the privilege of a mug of water. But this was denied them. They arrived in a Germany, all right, but there were no lines of happy faces carrying placards saying ‘Welcome’. Just soldiers, dogs and whips. And a chimney.

Why Antisemitism?

The way the world is at the moment, now is as good a time as any to try out my theory of why anti-Semitism exists and persists.
Leaving aside Bible stories, hatred of Jews has been recorded in history at least from the 3rd century BCE. Jews have been hated for killing Christ and giving rise to Christianity; for being alien and for trying to blend in; for being rich and being poor; for being dirty and for washing too much; for being capitalists and being communists; for leaving Israel for Europe and for leaving Europe for Israel.
WTF?
I believe that the main reason that hatred for Jews has thrived for so long is that the story of the Jewish people is a standing counter-example to the narrative of both Western civilisation and the two faiths that could be called heresies of Judaism.
The success of the Jewish people shows that you need neither Socrates nor Cicero nor Jesus nor Muhammad nor Marx in order to lead a rich and fulfilled life. In particular, Christianity, Islam and Communism are universalist faiths: each say, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” The Jewish people, and Judaism, shows that there’s another way, just as good. And the authorities, from Hadrian to Khamenei, see that as an existential threat.
And because, while Christianity, Islam and Communism are desperate to convert everybody, Judaism puts up barriers to conversion and only accepts the sincere, this drives them mad: because they don’t understand how we can be so weak, so few, and yet so indestructible.
And it also drives Christians & Muslims mad that, while they live in fear of God, every Jew has a personal relationship with Him. Even when He gets angry with us, it’s just dear old Dad losing His rag: we are confident that He loves us, and His wrath will blow over after a bit. They are in awe of God: but we’re His best mate. We see Him on his day off, and go out for a drink with Him. The Tanach and Mishnah are full of stories of us having blazing rows with Him, but He just laughs it off.
No wonder they want to kill us.

Must Read

I’ve just finished reading ‘Guns, Germs & Steel’ by Jared Diamond. There are some books – and here I’m talking only about non-fiction – that, after you’ve read them, you see life from a completely fresh perspective. Nothing seems quite the same again: the book has raised you to the next level. This is one such book.
In the same category I would put:

‘The Open Society and Its Enemies’ by Karl Popper
‘The Ancestor’s Tale’ by Richard Dawkins
‘The Holocaust’ by Martin Gilbert
‘The Whisperers’ by Orlando Figes
‘The Human Touch’ by Michael Frayn
‘Playpower’ by Richard Neville

What are your non-fiction choices?

Robert Conquest (1917 – 2015)

Robert Conquest has just died, in his 99th year. He was most famous as the man who saw through Stalin’s Emperor’s New Clothes with ‘The Great Terror: Stalin’s Purge of the Thirties’ (1968) (which, when the truth became widely known after the fall of Communism in 1991, his friend Kingsley Amis said should be re-issued as ‘I Told You So, You Fucking Fools’); but I remember him as one of the earliest scholarly supporters of SF, writing with Amis ‘New Maps of Hell’ (1960) and the ‘Spectrum’ anthologies. Unlike many, he lived long enough to be proven right: both about the murderousness of Stalin and the literary worth of SF. May his dear soul be bound up in the bonds of life eternal.