‘I believe the Union is over-democratised.’ Herman van Rumpuy EU President from 2009 to 2014 (quoted by Perry Anderson in ‘The European Coup’ London Review of Books, 17 December 2020)
I was fourteen at the time when on 3 February 1960, Prime Minister and old Etonian Harold Macmillan made his wind of change speech to South Africa’s parliament during his African tour. That day he said: ‘The wind of change is blowing through this continent and, whether we like it or not, this growth of national consciousness is a political fact’. To many the speech is remembered as firing the starting gun to speed up the decolonisation of the British Empire in Africa, a rush for the exit you might say, whilst seeking to minimise Soviet influences on these emerging nations. But it was also an attack on South Africa’s system of apartheid which was only swept away some thirty years later. I did not realise at the time that this was the precursor to a long courtship with the then European Economic Community (EEC) which as we all know ended in an acrimonious divorce.
Continue reading Europe, a road crash that was decades in the making
I don’t know how many extensions there have been during the government’s protracted negotiations with the EU to achieve (or not) a trade deal. The talks started at the beginning of March 2020 and yesterday after it appeared that a ‘no deal’ was likely, a joint statement by the parties announced that there would be a further extension, “to go the extra mile” but with no cut-off date this time (although there is the real date of 31 December 2020 –but they could ‘stop the clock’ I suppose). Wind back to September when Prime Minister Boris Johnson proposed a deadline of 15 October for a free-trade deal with the European Union. If missed, both sides should, he said, “accept that and move on”.
Continue reading When you want to know the future don’t ask Liam Fox (amongst others)
While the government is still deciding on whether to decriminalise non-payment of the television licence fee, following a public consultation earlier this year, the very future of the TV licence fee hangs in the balance. Although safe until the next BBC Charter Review in 2027, when the way the BBC is governed and funded is decided, government ministers are reported as saying they are “open minded” about how to fund the BBC from then onwards.
Continue reading Does the TV licence have a future – lessons from Sweden?