Sunday, 27 April 2014

Now There Is Beautiful....

My love of Wales, and all things Welsh (especially the rugby), is well known. And so what a pleasure to hit the road this morning and head for Snowdonia. Sunday lunch in Bala, where I picked up a Welsh rugby shirt for George, coffee in Dolgellau, and dinner in Borth with the most charming company.

Back to work tomorrow....

Well Done Nuneaton Town FC!!

And well done to Lewis Moult, who managed to score a hat-trick, in Nuneaton's 3-1 victory over Dartford in the final game of the season.

I was lucky to be able to enjoy the game along with Nikki Sinclaire MEP, who sponsored the match, and the rest of the team. It was my first visit to the ground, and a very entertaining afternoon we had.

Bloody marvelous!

Friday, 11 April 2014

I've a feeling we're not in Kansas....

I went for a stroll after lunch today, as is my habit.

I am so glad that I am not in Brussels this week. George is up on the glacier taking ski lessons - he does not ski, so much as hurtle. He does not do that going from side to side thing as he heads down the slopes, he just heads straight down at top speed, and finds sticks cumbersome.

I don't like skiing, I am not all that keen on snow anymore, to be honest. It is nice to look at, but you wouldn't want it in your boots. And so I am spending my time walking in the Tyrolean mountains, and very nice it is too.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

I'm With Tebbit On This One!

With Norman Tebbit at the House of Lords, 2002

"There's always the possibility that a member of the Real IRA will be so outraged by Mr McGuinness bowing to the Queen that they might shoot him in the back for it. We can but hope." 

Lord Tebbit has received quite some criticism today for this comment. Let me just put on record my absolute support for him. No qualifications. No justification. Absolute support for this great Englishman.

I remember meeting with him in the House of Lords, where I was interviewing him for an ex-services newspaper. A nicer, and more gentle man you could never meet. 

We are both ex-RAF, and I was delighted to learn that he had flown the Gloster Javelin. I had done some ground training on the Javelin, a beautiful looking aircraft, but with an alarming tendency to burst into flames around the undercarriage legs on engine start-up.  Hence the big asbestos gloves we were given...

Totally unnecessary training, as the Javelin was taken out of service many years before my time, but like God, the Royal Air Force moves in mysterious ways.

But I digress....

Norman Tebbitt has very strong thoughts about the cowardly scum that came close to murdering him in cold blood, and who inflicted grievous injuries on his beloved wife. I understand, and share, his thoughts.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Vote Farage - Get Putin!

I referred in my last post to a comment from a journalist about Nigel Farage "tossing off" on the Kremlin sponsored 'news' channel RT.

How interesting it was to see, following his most recent debate with Nick Clegg, the following report on RT.

On the day when 'pro-Russian' forces tear down the Ukrainian flag in the Ukrainian city of Donetsk, I think my point is now well made - useful idiot indeed!

With Putin taking us to the brink in possibly the biggest crisis since Cuba in 1962, perhaps it is time to bring back Defence Regulation 18B?

Incidentally, for the benefit of the swivel-eyed loons, Ukraine has never applied for EU membership. The EU has never offered Ukraine membership.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

An Unexpected Change Of Direction....

With Former President Viktor Yushchenko
A lot of my spare time and energy is spent on my support for the Ukrainian people, who are going through worrying times. The removal of the despicable Yanukovych puppet-regime was always going to have dire repercussions. Corrupt regimes always struggle until the last, as they try to cover their tracks and get away with as much as they can. Yanukovych was actually quite lucky to get away with his life: more than 100 Ukrainian civilians who faced the security forces in the final days of the regime were not so lucky.

Nobody is in any doubt as to who pulled Yanukovych's strings. The Kremlin is very adept at pulling strings.

But to the surprise of many, a new apologist for Russia has emerged. And it all began during the LBC debate between Nigel Farage and Nick Clegg.


The Kremlin is hostile to the concept of renewable energy.
The Kremlin's Trojan Horses in the EU oppose individually and collectively any proposal on energy policy - unbundling, for example -  as they are opposed to any common energy policy.
The Kremlin did not want either the proposed constitution or the Lisbon Treaty.
It was the Kremlin that first issued the infamous statement saying that "The EU has blood on its hands".

And Nigel Farage's policies are....? The first three are justifiable, of course, from the UKIP perspective, but the last one?

A Brussels journalist recently commented to me that Farage can be seen "tossing off on RT most weeks". RT, a Kremlin backed media platform has shown its true colours during the recent crisis, leading to at least two presenters criticising the station's policy live on air. Some amongst us are old enough to remember Наши кино - 'our cinema' - a Soviet era propaganda tv channel (actually, the last time I was in Belarus, it was still broadcasting there!) RT has become the modern equivilent of this, and will interview any western politician who will be critical to camera of his or her own country. ("Useful idiots" was the phrase that Stalin used.)

Farage says that he "respects" Putin.  "The way he played the whole Syria thing. Brilliant." he is reported as saying. Putin has, of course, been choreographing events in Syria for some time, as Russia seeks to pursue a Middle East policy symmetrical to that of the US. Bashar Al-Assad has been pleased to host a strong Russian presence in Syria, as this limits the military options potentially available to Israel. This is the regime, of course, that used chemical weapons against its own civilian population. Putin's intervention following the atrocity was to suggest that actually the regime was not to blame, but that 'rebels' may have been responsible.

On July 5th 2006, the Russian State Duma passed a law - actually a set of amendments to existing legislation - known as 153-FZ. I won't bore you all with the details, but one passage leapt out at me straight away. "The special assignment units of the Federal Security Service bodies may be used, by a decision of the of President of the Russian Federation, against the terrorists and (or) their bases located beyong the territory of the Russian Federation, in order to destroy a threat to the security of the Russian Federation." Within 153-FZ 'extremists' are considered to be 'terrorists'. The definition of such people is broadened within the legislation to include anybody making "libellous statements" about the president or his regime. Note the words "may be used, by a decision of the of President..."

In November 2006, Alexander Litvinenko, a British citizen, was murdered in London. The British authorities have stated they have sufficient evidence to secure the conviction of Andrei Lugovoi, a former officer of the KGB's 9th Directorate. This was the organisation tasked with protecting senior government officials. Note again the words "may be used, by a decision of the of President..."

This is the man whose foreign policy Nigel Farage admires so much. This surprises me very much, based on my knowledge of him, and on conversations I may have had with him in the past.

But interestingly, it is not just the UKIP leader who is spouting pro-Kremlin rhetoric. Russia has been courting the western far-right, and parties such as Jobbick and Golden Dawn are increasingly going in the same direction. Marine Le Pen is also no stranger to Moscow - her party wants the replace NATO and the EU with a group of independent nations - including Russia! Putin is using the far-right now in exactly the way his Soviet predecessors used the far-left. To justify his actions, and to support his intentions.

Incidentally, I happen to agree with the argument that says that the EU's approach to Ukraine is flawed, and has been since 2004. The failure of the Orange Revolution came about for a number of reasons, but whereas Putin feared being rembered as the man who lost Ukraine, that title instead went to Barosso. Now we see the results. But it is for the Ukrainian people to decide, through democratic means, their future. Western Ukrainians see themselves as European, and they now seek to assert that identity. However, in the context of the early 21st century, and with the demise of the Westphalian Order, it is hard to see how that desire can be fulfilled at this time other than by EU membership. Of course the EU will welcome them with open arms, but I think a little caution on all sides might be wise here.