Sunday, March 03, 2013

Es Una Cosa Muy Seria

"Es una cosa muy seria," a  Spanish Civil War quote from the famous war photographer, Robert Capa, which seems entirely appropriate in the current political circumstances here in Thanet.

On a personal level, I'm as shocked and surprised as anyone else but would caution readers to be wary of extrapolating the actions of a single individual to the business of the Council in general. A great deal of water has flowed under the political bridge and many changes have taken place in the time since Sandy Ezekiel was leader of the Thanet Conservatives and the Council. I would hope that processes would now be robust and transparent enough to prevent any future potential for self-interest compromising the business of local government.

From my point of view, we all learn important lessons about personal conduct as councillors and we move-on, much the wiser for it. There's still a great deal left to think about and so, for now, I'll leave my comment at that and write about something else, which isn't plastered across our local blogosphere this weekend.

Credit to Louise Oldfield who did a fantastic job keeping everyone up to date with objective, minute-by minute events of the trial in Maidstone by Twitter.

Net Receipts vs Contributions Member States 2009 -2010
I had lunch with our MEP, Richard Ashworth this weekend; an annual catch-up with events and politics in Europe and it's interesting how the argument for membership has changed in the light of UKIP's rising influence and David Cameron's most recent speech on renegotiating our own place in this grand but increasingly dysfunctional and rather broke European family.

The most telling statistics can be seen in the first image and reveals those EU nations which are net beneficiaries (net contributions vs receipts) of subsidies and in contrast, those who pay all the bills.

To avoid you reaching for your reading glasses, the slide somewhat resembles the UK income tax graph, as I pointed out to Richard. One the right hand side you have the northern European states and Italy (with its big manufacturing economy) and on the left, everyone else, like Poland, Greece, Ireland Spain, and Belgium, rather like an army of Big Issue salesman outside the EU headquarters in Strasbourg.

UK Primary Trading Partners 2012

It's that graph which reveals the unsustainability of the European project as it presently exists in the worst recession since the 1930's and why Germany and the UK, at the far right of the chart, are so deeply worried by the direction of so many European economies as the present statistics are rather worse than the chart, which is now three years out of date.

There's another interesting chart as well. That's the UK's 'Primary trading partners.' What I find most riveting here is the figure for China, which makes-up a quarter of the world's population and the world's fastest growing economy.

Only 2% of our trade exports flow towards Beijing and Shanghai. This tells us something very important indeed. That as a nation, we no longer manufacture those goods that an emerging superpower like China actually needs. In fact, in contrast with thirty years ago, we hardly manufacture anything at all and many of our traditional world-class trademarks and brands, like Rolls Royce, are now owned by someone else.

These charts and several others I have in my briefing pack tell us, without contradiction, that the world has changed very quickly between the last decade of the 20th century and the first decade of the 21st century. Our own place in influencing the direction of Europe is important but the continent itself is increasingly in danger of becoming a political irrelevance on the world stage. With our own debts still building at £500 million each month, membership on existing terms, of a broke and fragmented European super-state, is looking unattractive while we give thanks for the blessing of control over our own fragile-looking currency.

To put it frankly, none of us can avoid the alarming facts about our future inside or outside of Europe and I recommend reading this article from the magazine, Money Week, which makes a series of unnerving predictions about the remainder of this decade.


Simon Moores said...

Rick.. Please take your conspiracy theories of the last century somewhere else. Nobody is interested and nobody cares apart from you.

Anonymous said...

Sadly Councillor Ezekiel's demise is only one of a list of Thanet councillors who have ended up in court, and been found guilty.
Do you have anything to say about Councillor Driver's Blog which published a document on 2nd March apparently listing various conversations with Ezekial and others re SFP etc. You say that time has moved on and lessons have been learned, but Pleasurama and SFP continue to fester on and needs to be resolved. Was Ezekiel an isolated case, or the tip of a very large iceberg?

Anonymous said...

Even Rick's conspiracy theories are more believable than your "shock and surprise" Simon!

Simon Moores said...

I'm completely unaware of the source of Cllr Driver's latest revelation and can't comment on its authenticity. I believe that much if not all of the detail on Plasurama is now in the public domain and should any irregularity exist outside of speculation across the blogs, I'm sure the Council's monitoring officer would be swift to take action.

Simon Moores said...

I'm going to end comments on this entry as I can see that my time is going to be taken-up by many of the usual suspects who are quite busy elsewhere.