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Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Immigration (again), UKIP, 2 Funerals and a Royal Family

I have been fascinated to study the evolution of what today we call the United Kingdom. Our island was first inhabited by people who crossed over from the European mainland when we were still attached to it. Until about 10,000 years ago the mainland was still joined to Ireland, Denmark and the Netherlands. The Romans invaded in 50 BC and brought relative civilisation to this land, leaving written records for the first time. They departed rapidly in 410 AD (trouble at home) and we then saw major invasions that included rape pillage and marriage by Celts, Angles (East Anglia), Saxons (Sussex), Vikings and various smaller groups like the Picts. We descended into the dark ages with no records and life must have been worse than grim for most until the Middle Ages. My main observation is that we are all the product of immigration whether ancient or recent. Immigration has shaped our country and made it great. While I am no advocate of opening the floodgates, controlled immigration today will make our country better and not worse. Recent immigrants make less use of the NHS, take less (about 50% less) in benefits and pay more in taxes per head than the remainder of the population.

UKIP got about 25% of the vote in the recent local elections in England. I am sure a significant part of it is a protest vote, almost inevitable in such hard economic times. People are hurting and they want a better life. But what would Britain under UKIP look like? No more wind farms, repeal of the anti-smoking legislation, withdrawal from the EU (where 50% of our exports go), no more immigration, no gay marriage, etc. In fact, back to Britain in the 1950s! How about that? Unfortunately Herr Farage comes across as a nice share a pint with me regular sort of common sense bloke. Very dangerous given the disaster his policies would wreak on the UK in the modern world. Let’s hope the three main parties between them can convince voters that UKIP is as ugly as I fear it is.
Nigel Farage 

Two people I was very fond of died in April. The first was Margaret Thatcher. She was my local MP where I was brought up in Finchley and was well known locally. I was a teenager in the 1970s and Britain was broken and known as ‘The sick man of Europe’. Everyone was striking all the time, the quality of our goods was shoddy at best, I remember piles of rubbish in the streets, the 3 day week when my mother had to cook dinner for us on a calor gas stove (no electricity) by candlelight. The unions brought their members out on strike regularly on a show of hands (no secret ballot but plenty of intimidation) and anyone who wanted to work during a strike had to cross dangerous picket lines, was called a scab and was often threatened. As a teenager I realised this was not a nice place to be. Something had to change or Britain would end up far worse than countries like Greece today. Well it was Thatcher who made those changes. She had the balls to do it while many others did not. She has been fairly (Poll Tax) and unfairly (closure of the mines) blamed for many things but I can assure you that she put the Great back into Britain. Imagine this: when she came to power in 1979, she sent her Trade Secretary (Cecil Parkinson) to the Soviet Union to encourage them to buy British. Well his soviet counterpart would not even receive him as the quality of British product was considered so poor even the Soviets would not buy! If we hadn’t had Thatcher, the UK would be a third rate has-been nation today.

The second was Barbara Tischler. Barbara was a dear colleague and friend at Grass Roots. She worked with all of our overseas colleagues and helped organise many of the international events we had. Barbara was insanely popular; nobody ever had a bad word to say about her. Barbara was German and loved the British sense of humour. She had lived in the UK for decades. Unfortunately she collapsed last autumn with a very serious illness that resulted from smoking and although she came back to work and we thought she had recovered this evidently was not the case. We will all remember her very fondly and I expect there to be a huge turnout to her funeral this week.

The Royal Family are regularly accused of costing the nation more than they are worth. Well it seems that in purely economic terms this is not true. They are paid £40m per annum by the taxpayer. This is estimated to rise to around £150m once you factor in security and other costs paid out of the public purse. However their estates bring in between £150m - £240m (depending upon which estimate you believe) easily covering their costs. And when you add in the receipts of tourism (the Royal Family are one of the biggest reasons for drawing tourists here) there is no doubt that they are a good money-spinner for UK plc. So I don’t think it is time to chop off their heads any time soon.

“Bad is the world, and all will come to nought
When such ill dealing must be seen in thought. “

William Shakespeare; Richard III

In modern English: The world is a bad place, if you can't speak what you know.

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