The Galloway Motor Car

The “Galloway”

The header photo is that of a Galloway motor car made either at their Tongland or Dumfries works, and the lady standing by it is Miss Dorothée Pullinger who was an engineer and was instrumental in designing the car and running the factory. The Tongland factory survives, but I do not know what it actually makes now, while the Dumfries factory, which also survives and is visible for miles, is a sad wreck. Old mills and factories elsewhere have been re purposed in various ways and it is a shame that nothing has been done about this piece of Dumfries’ history.

Entrance to Arrol Johnstone factory 1914-18
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Ursula von der Leyen sets it all out . . .

Ursula von der Layen
Ursula von der Layen

Speech : 11 February 2020, Strasbourg
Speech by President von der Leyen in the Plenary of the European Parliament at the debate on the Commission’s proposal for a mandate for the negotiation of a new partnership with the United Kingdom

Thank you, Mr President,

Honourable Members,

It is just two weeks ago that we bid farewell to our British friends by singing ‘Auld Lang Syne’. And I think it was the most emotional, a very powerful moment in this Parliament. A moment to celebrate the good old times and I thank you very much for the grace and the kindness of this gesture, this was extraordinary.

Since then, we set our sights on the future of our relations with the United Kingdom. And we will enter these negotiations with the highest ambition. Because good old friends like the UK and us should not settle for anything less than this. Prime Minister Johnson said in Greenwich, earlier this month, that the United Kingdom will be ‘a global champion of free trade’. Frankly, this is music to our ears. Because in a moment when the rules-based trade system is so challenged, we need our partners to join us in making the system fairer and stronger.

And this is what we Europeans have always fought for over the years. A trade system that is open on one side and that is fair on the other side. Because what do free trade agreements do? Free trade agreements must replace uncertainty with a sound set of rules. They create new markets for small and medium enterprises. Free trade agreements must benefit the people. And this is the rationale that is behind our trade agreements, for instance with Canada and Japan.

They are not just increasing our bilateral exchanges of goods, services, people and ideas. They do that too, but not only. They also raise standards on a broad range of issues, from labour rights to the environment. This is what makes us proud of them. Ask our Japanese friends or ask our Canadian friends. They are glad that we have joined forces to put fairness into our globalised economic system. They are glad that they could join forces with the European Union because frankly, in today’s world, size does matter. And we have a Single Market of 440 million people! What I just described, this is the ambition we have for our free trade agreement with the United Kingdom.

And when we agreed the Political Declaration with the United Kingdom, we ambitioned a zero tariffs and a zero quotas trade relation for all goods. Something we have never ever before offered to anybody else. A new model of trade, a unique ambition in terms of access to the Single Market. But of course, this would require corresponding guarantees on fair competition and the protection of social, environmental and consumer standards. In short: This is plain and simply the level playing field.

We are ready to discuss on all different models of trade agreement. But all these models, whatever you chose, have one thing in common: They all come not only with rights but also with obligations for both sides. For example, if we take the Canada model – and this is a model the Prime Minister Johnson referred to – of course, our deal with Canada eliminates tariffs on a wide set of goods, but not on all. And of course, our deal with Canada eliminates most quotas, but certainly not all. For instance, there are still quotas on beef and sweetcorn. And of course: We still have our standards that have to be respected.

And honestly, I was a little bit surprised to hear the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom speak about the Australian model. Australia, without any doubt, is a strong and a like-minded partner. But the European Union does not have a trade agreement with Australia. We are currently trading on WTO terms. And if this is the British choice, we are fine with that – without any question. But in fact, we are just in the moment where we are agreeing with Australia that we must end this situation, and we work on a trade deal with them. Of course, the UK can decide to settle for less. But I personally believe that we should be way more ambitious. And the Prime Minister’s speech in Greenwich is an encouraging starting point.

He recalled everything the UK has achieved in terms of social protection, climate action and competition rules. And I commend the UK for all of that. Indeed, it is not the time to lower social protection or to be lukewarm on climate action. And it is not the time to decrease in terms of competition rules. I have heard ambition in Boris Johnson’s speech. Ambition on minimum wages and parental payments. And he has an ally in me, what that is concerned. I have heard ambition on cutting carbon emissions. Ambition on guaranteeing that our firms are competing in full fairness. This is what we also want. Let us formally agree on these objectives.

We can trigger an upward dynamic competition that would benefit both the United Kingdom and the European Union. To our British friends I say: It is in our mutual interest. And most importantly – it would be consistent with the values we share. Values of openness, values of fairness and values of social justice and free enterprise. These are not only values for good old times. These are values to stay.

Thank you very much for your attention. I just wanted to inform you that the Task Force is ready to start the negotiations. We are all set.

Thanks a lot.

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To the Church at Philippi . . . but of universal application . . .

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“Get Brexit done”, the mind-clouding magic dust which has blinded reason and diminished our children’s prospects . . .

Apologies for another copy and paste job, but some of the writing inspired by Brexit is worth saving, I think. This by Ian McEwan from “The Guardian” – 1 February 2020.

Brexit, the most pointless, masochistic ambition in our country’s history, is done
Ian McEwan
The magic dust of populism has blinded reason, and damage and diminishment lie ahead

It’s done. A triumph of dogged negotiation by May then, briefly, Johnson, has fulfilled the most pointless, masochistic ambition ever dreamed of in the history of these islands. The rest of the world, presidents Putin and Trump excepted, have watched on in astonishment and dismay. A majority voted in December for parties which supported a second referendum. But those parties failed lamentably to make common cause. We must pack up our tents, perhaps to the sound of church bells, and hope to begin the 15-year trudge, back towards some semblance of where we were yesterday with our multiple trade deals, security, health and scientific co-operation and a thousand other useful arrangements.

The only certainty is that we’ll be asking ourselves questions for a very long time. Set aside for a moment Vote Leave’s lies, dodgy funding, Russian involvement or the toothless Electoral Commission. Consider instead the magic dust. How did a matter of such momentous constitutional, economic and cultural consequence come to be settled by a first-past-the-post vote and not by a super-majority? A parliamentary paper (see Briefing 07212) at the time of the 2015 Referendum Act hinted at the reason: because the referendum was merely advisory. It “enables the electorate to voice an opinion”. How did “advisory” morph into “binding”? By that blinding dust thrown in our eyes from right and left by populist hands.

We endured a numbing complicity between government and opposition. The door out of Europe was held open by Corbyn for Johnson to walk through. In this case, if you travelled far enough to the left, you met and embraced the right coming the other way.

What did we learn in our blindness? That those not flourishing within the status quo had no good reason to vote for it; that our prolonged parliamentary chaos derived from an ill-posed yes-no question to which there were a score of answers; that the long-evolved ecology of the EU has profoundly shaped the flora of our nation’s landscape and to rip these plants out will be brutal; that what was once called a hard Brexit became soft by contrast with the threatened no-deal that even now persists; that any mode of departure, by the government’s own estimate, will shrink the economy; that we have a gift for multiple and bitter division – young against old, cities against the country, graduates against early school-leavers, Scotland and Northern Ireland against England and Wales; that all past, present and future international trade deals or treaties are a compromise with sovereignty, as is our signature on the Paris accords, or our membership of Nato, and that therefore “Take Back Control” was the emptiest, most cynical promise of this sorry season.

We surprised ourselves. Only a few years ago, asked to list the nation’s ills – wealth gap, ailing NHS, north-south imbalance, crime, terrorism, austerity, housing crisis etc – most of us would not have thought to include our membership of the EU. How happy we were in 2012, in the afterglow of our successful Olympics. We weren’t thinking then of Brussels. It was, in Guy Verhofstadt’s famous term, a “cat-fight” within the Tory party that got us going. Those cats had been fighting each other for decades. When they dragged us in and urged us to take sides, we had a collective nervous breakdown; then sufficient numbers wanted the distress to go away and “get Brexit done”. Repeated ad nauseam by the prime minister it almost seemed impolite to ask why.

In the early days of the referendum campaign we learned that “on the doorstep” it was all about migration; but we also learned that it was the UK’s decision, not the EU’s, to allow unlimited migration from the accession countries before the permitted seven years were up; it was the UK’s choice to allow EU migrants to stay more than six months without a job; it was the UK that successfully campaigned to enlarge the EU eastwards; it is the UK, not the EU, that lets non-EU migration continue (and why not?) as EU migration declines. We also learned that the UK, not the EU, opted for our maroon rather than patriotic blue passports. Though, as I look, my old passports seem almost black.

There is much that is historically unjust about the British state, but very little of that injustice derives from the EU. Brussels didn’t insist that we neglect the post-industrial towns of the Midlands and the north; or demand that we let wages stagnate, or permit multimillion handouts to the CEOs of failing companies, or prefer shareholder value over the social good, or run our health service, social care and Sure Start into the ground, close 600 police stations and let the fabric of our state schools decay.

It was the task of the Brexit campaign to persuade the electorate otherwise. In the referendum they succeeded with 37%, enough to transform our collective fate for a generation at least. To cause sufficient numbers to believe that the source of all their grievances is some hostile outside element is the oldest trick in the populist handbook. As Trotsky was for Stalin, as the USA is for the mullahs of Iran and Gülen is for Erdoğan, so Brussels has served its turn.

Hedge fund owners, plutocrat donors to the cause, Etonians and newspaper proprietors cast themselves as enemies of the elite. More magic dust. The claim that the Northern Ireland issue has been settled is a dangerous pretence. We have witnessed reasoned argument’s fall from grace. The Brexit impulse had strong elements of blood-and-soil, with hints of Empire nostalgia. Such spooky longings floated high above mere facts.

We acquired an argot. “Article 50”, “frictionless trade”, “just in time”, “the backstop” – how they tripped off the tongue. We learned to respect an “invisible border”. Before it all began, only a very few knew the difference between the customs union and the single market. Three years on, not much has changed. A survey last year showed that quite a lot of us thought that “crashing out” was the same as remaining. If only.

The Brexit leadership and the leader of the opposition were always in a hurry to start article 50’s two-year stopwatch. They feared that leave voters might change their minds, that those who didn’t vote last time were 2:1 for remaining, and that young voters coming on to the rolls would be mostly pro-EU. The Brexiter generals reasonably feared a second referendum.

At least, we can all agree that we will be a bit poorer. As one of my school teachers used to say, if a thing is really worth doing, it’s worth doing badly. Theresa May could never bring herself to say that Brexit would make us better off. She wouldn’t even tell us if she would vote to leave in a second referendum. We should credit her honesty. By contrast, Boris Johnson, laying his post-Brexit vision before parliament, promised he would narrow the UK’s wealth and opportunity gap between north and south, and make it the home of cutting-edge battery technology. He forgot to mention that the EU never stood in the way of either project.

Redefining our new trade relations with the EU will preoccupy us for years. As for the US position, take a long walk in the American midwest and you’ll go a month across a monoculture desert and not see a wildflower. To compete, our own agriculture would have to welcome the hormone hypodermic. Our farmers will need to divest of inefficient hedgerows, boundary trees and three-metre field margins – museum pieces all. When it was in trade talks with the EU, the US wouldn’t contemplate higher standards of husbandry, food standards and environmental protection, even though they would have granted access to half a billion consumers. American farming corporations will not be changing their ways for a nation of a mere 65 million. If we want a deal, it is we who must downgrade.

We sense damage and diminishment ahead. In a dangerous world crowded with loud-mouthed “strongmen”, the EU was our best hope for an open, tolerant, free and peaceful community of nations. Those hopes are already threatened as populist movements have swept across Europe. Our withdrawal will weaken resistance to the xenophobic tendency. The lesson of our nation’s history these past centuries is plain: turmoil in continental Europe will draw us into bloody conflicts. Nationalism is rarely a project for peace. Nor does it care to counter climate change. It prefers to let tropical forests and the Australian bush burn.

Take a road trip from Greece to Sweden, from Portugal to Hungary. Leave your passport behind. What a rich, teeming bundle of civilisations – in food, manners, architecture, language, and each nation state profoundly and proudly different from its neighbours. No evidence of being under the boot-heel of Brussels. Nothing here of continental USA’s dreary commercial sameness. Summon everything you’ve learned of the ruinous, desperate state of Europe in 1945, then contemplate a stupendous economic, political and cultural achievement: peace, open borders, relative prosperity, and the encouragement of individual rights, tolerance and freedom of expression. Until Friday this was where our grown-up children went at will to live and work.

That’s over, and for now the force is with English nationalism. Its champion is Johnson’s Vote Leave cabinet whose monument will forever be a special kind of smirk, perfected back in the days of the old Soviet Union. I’m lying, you know I’m lying and I know that you know and I don’t give a damn. As in, “The five-week prorogation of parliament has nothing to do with Brexit.” Michael Gove and Jacob Rees-Mogg were masters of the mocking grin. The supreme court’s inconvenient judgment that this prorogation was illegal clearly still rankles. Recently, the ex-home secretary Michael Howard was set on to murmur against the judges. Extending political control over an independent judiciary would be consonant with the Johnson-Cummings project. Victor Orbán of Hungary lights the way.

The remainers held out for a kinder sort of world, but we were always the herbivores in this debate, with our enormous, good-natured and derided marches – “a hate-filled crowd”, the Sun; “an elite”, the Daily Telegraph. If 16 million remainers are an elite, then we may rejoice that the UK is a model of meritocracy.

We were, in truth, the left-behinds. By the grace of Corbyn and his grim lieutenants, we had no effective voice in parliament. On her first day as prime minister, Theresa May promised outside No 10 that she would govern for us all. Instead, she threw half the country to the dogs to appease her party’s right wing. Initially, Boris Johnson’s elevation was decided by a tiny, ageing constituency, the majority of whose members told pollsters that they wished Donald Trump ruled Britain and that they longed for the return of hanging. In similar spirit, Johnson found fresh depths of populist vulgarity when he spoke last June of pitchforking the EU incubus off the nation’s back. He has realised his dream.

As for the outer extremes, the occasional milkshake aside, we never violently assaulted a Brexiter in the street; we only rarely inclined to sending anonymous death and rape threats such as came so abundantly the way of Gina Miller, Anna Soubry and many female MPs. However, the antisemitic emails from within the Labour party were a disgrace. So too was the bullying mob jeering outside the Rees-Mogg home. But we remainers did not slyly exhort our compatriots to riot in the event of a second referendum going against us. Nearly two-thirds of the electorate did not vote to leave; most of business and the trade unions, agriculture, science, finance and the arts were against the Brexit project; three-quarters of MPs voted to remain. But our representatives ignored the evident public interest and shrank behind party cabals and “the people have spoken” – that bleak Soviet locution – followed by “get Brexit done”, the mind-clouding magic dust which has blinded reason and diminished our children’s prospects.

© 2020 Guardian News & Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.

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An Open Letter from the Council of the European Union . . .

The logo of the Council of the European Union

An open letter from the Council of the European Union, which I thought worth preserving. Our Eurosceptic press and TV will not publish it or refer to it, thus once again denying to the public information expressly intended for its use. This is what “control” actually looks like in practice . . .

European Council Press release 31 January 2020 08:00
“A new dawn for Europe” – Op-ed article by Presidents Charles Michel, David Sassoli and Ursula von der Leyen

As the night draws in this evening, the sun will set on more than 45 years of the United Kingdom’s membership of the European Union. For us, as Presidents of the three main EU institutions, today will inevitably be a day of reflection and mixed emotions – as it will for so many people.

Our thoughts are with all of those who have helped to make the European Union what it is today. Those who are concerned about their future or disappointed to see the UK leave. Those British members of our institutions who helped shape policies that made lives better for millions of Europeans. We will think of the UK and its people, their creativity, ingenuity, culture, and traditions, that have been a vital part of our Union’s tapestry.

These emotions reflect our fondness for the United Kingdom – something which goes far beyond membership of our Union. We have always deeply regretted the UK’s decision to leave but we have always fully respected it, too. The agreement we reached is fair for both sides and ensures that millions of EU and UK citizens will continue to have their rights protected in the place they call home.

At the same time, we need to look to the future and build a new partnership between enduring friends. Together, our three institutions will do everything in their power to make it a success. We are ready to be ambitious.

How close that partnership will be depends on decisions that are still to be taken. Because every choice has a consequence. Without the free movement of people, there can be no free movement of capital, goods and services. Without a level playing field on environment, labour, taxation and state aid, there cannot be the highest quality access to the single market. Without being a member, you cannot retain the benefits of membership.

Over the next weeks, months and years we will have to loosen some of the threads carefully stitched together between the EU and the UK over five decades. And as we do so, we will have to work hard to weave together a new way forward as allies, partners and friends.

Whilst the UK will cease to be an EU member, it will remain part of Europe. Our shared geography, history and ties in so many areas inevitably bind us and make us natural allies. We will continue to work together on foreign affairs, security and defence with a common purpose and shared mutual interests. But we will do it in different ways.

We do not underestimate the task that lies before us but we are confident that with goodwill and determination we can build a lasting, positive and meaningful partnership.

But tomorrow will also mark a new dawn for Europe.

The last few years have brought us closer together – as nations, as institutions and as people. They have reminded us all that the European Union is more than a market or economic power but stands for values that we all share and defend. How much stronger we are when we are together.

This is why the Member States of Europe will continue to join forces and build a common future. In an age of great power competition and turbulent geopolitics, size matters. No country alone can hold back the tide of climate change, find the solutions to the digital future or have a strong voice in the ever-louder cacophony of the world.

But together, the European Union can.

We can because we have the largest internal market in the world. We can because we are the top trading partner for 80 countries. We can because we are a Union of vibrant democracies. We can because our peoples are determined to promote European interests and values on the world stage. We can because EU member states will leverage their considerable, collective economic power in discussions with allies and partners – the United States, Africa, China or India.

All of this gives us a renewed sense of shared purpose. We have a common vision of where we want to go and a commitment to be ambitious on the defining issues of our times. As set out in the European Green Deal, we want to be the first climate neutral continent by 2050, creating new jobs and opportunities for people in the process. We want to take the lead on the next generation of digital technologies and we want a just transition so that we can support the people most affected by change.

We believe only the European Union can do this. But we know we can only do it together: people, nations, institutions. And we, as Presidents of the three institutions, are committed to playing our part.

That work continues as soon as the sun rises tomorrow.

Published in several European media

Open Letter text here . . .

The sentence about which I have grave doubts is this . . .

The agreement we reached is fair for both sides and ensures that millions of EU and UK citizens will continue to have their rights protected in the place they call home.

I think the Johnsonian Government sits very lightly to agreements in to which it has allegedly entered. It is as we were as children when if you were made to promise something you crossed your fingers behind your back. Well nowadays there is no need for the Government to cross its fingers because it must be taken as read that there is no necessary connection between anything they say, and their subsequent actions. The saying is for their target audience. The doing is the expression of their actual policies and beliefs – realpolitik. The notion that they might stick with the terms of this withdrawal agreement is naive in the extreme, and this is where the battles will occur in the coming months as the EU negotiators try to deal with their chicanery. They may conclude that the negotiations are not worth pursuing – which may be indeed the Government’s real intention – or perhaps the intention of Mr. Dominic (Rasputin) Cummings ?

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Amazon – the Great Prime Scandal

After a Titanic – spoiler alert : this could be a slight exaggeration – struggle with from whom we were trying to order some items I was sufficiently cross as to post the following on Facebook, and to send an annotated copy of it to the Computeractive Magazine. I really do feel very strongly that this is a cleverly presented piece of sheer deception and effrontery by Amazon and that there needs to be a united global campaign against it . . .

End of rant – read on . . .

We just placed an order with Amazon. Error. We both sat and went through the payment process page by page and studiously avoided (as we thought – simpletons !) any possibility of falling into the Prime quicksand. We got to a point where we were evidently – and entirely against our will – entangled in a free trial of Prime, so we started all over again and thought once again we had avoided the wretched thing. Wrong ! It became evident that we were ensnared willy nilly. But by sheer dogged bloody mindedness we found out how to cancel the Prime Free Trial (which we never knowingly signed up for). We are apparently stuck in it until 28 February when it will allegedly terminate itself. I think this Prime business of Amazon’s is sneaky, thoroughly immoral, and ought to be stopped.

This is the second time I have been trapped by Prime despite knowing its dangers, and trying to avoid it – and then again finding out how to wriggle out of it, and I’m sick of it. The problem is that for certain things it is difficult to find an alternative supplier because Amazon have effectively established a monopoly. We avoid them like the plague as far as we can, but sometimes we have to venture into their store and hope to get out alive. It’s a bit like the adventures of some Greek hero or heroine in the Greek myths.

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Holocaust Memorial Day . . .


I see a great deal in the media and on Facebook about Auschwitz, not just today, but all year round. School parties and groups visit and are suitably impressed and their comments reveal that they have been shocked to learn what went on and they say things such as, “It must never happen, or be allowed to happen again”. This is all good. But I never see anything to convey any other impression than that it all happened at Auschwitz. The necessary information that Auschwitz and camps like it were only a few of the camps where such things happened, and that the total number of concentration camps runs into many thousands seldom appears. Nor that the whole process did not just happen in the Second World War but started when the Nazi Party came to power in 1933.

I have never seen any mention, for example, of the programme to eliminate what the Party considered to be defective children which continued despite protests by German citizens and promises to stop by their Government.

It was all much bigger and more extensive, more comprehensive, than is usually mentioned. History does not so much get rewritten, parts of it just quietly drop off the agenda until some brave soul writes a book, or makes a film about it, whereupon it is hailed as a great “discovery” and there are implications that it has all been kept secret for some nefarious reason.


Some years ago, my wife and I visited eastern Germany, almost on the Czech border to see the remains of the camp at Flossenberg. This is where Dietrich Bonhoeffer was hanged in April 1945 for his complicity in the plot to kill Hitler. He was not the only one, but he is the one best known because of his books which are still valued today. The town is in an area where granite is to be found and a granite quarry was part of the reason for ita existence. Having acquired your occupants, Flossenberg had many who were alleged to be homosexuals, but their was a mixture of other prisoners there too. One such was Payne Best who became known because of the Venlo Incident of November 1939, and the idea was to make use of them while you could, so they were worked in the quarry, which was hard physical work, whilst being fed on rations suitable for a sedentary occupation at best. Thus they died without actually needing to be executed a such, but they were cremated as elsewhere and there remains (or did at the time of our visit) a great mound of ashes covered in turf and grassed over. I visited the crematorium and listened to a guide explaining to a group how the gold was extracted from the teeth of the corpses and along with any other gold possessions all collected up, melted down, and then sent across the border to Switzerland to be sold in the world’s gold markets. Which makes you realise that we are all drawn into complicity by our liking for gold for our wedding rings and other articles.

In the museum there were some of the plans drawn up for the builders and others in the consrtuction of the camp which showed the neat rows of wooden huts, lablled on the plans as “Stables”. They also showed us that the camp was originally much bigger than that which is left and we could see that already nice new houses were being built on that part, and I wondered whether their new occupants knew about the history of their plots and their gardens. The main office block of the camp was still standing, a solid stone construction exctly like that we we constantly see repeated of the entrance to Auschwitz and I found it both upsetting and unnerving.

The place where Bonhoeffer and the others were hung was preserved and there was an inscription bearing all their names. I hope it is still there.

I mention all this in an attempt to show that this one, comparatively small camp, was just one of the many built and what a great deal of economic effort was expended by Germany in those years from 1933 onwards in the pursuit of an improved Aryan race.

(I now see that the preservation of the camp as a memory and history has gone ahead a great deal since we were there in the late 1990s – they now have their own website here.)

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Go fly a kite . . .

Masonic Arms, Gatehouse of Fleet, The Bar
Masonic Arms, Gatehouse of Fleet
Cheery and warming stove in the bar.

On the way home from a trip to the Podiatrist in Gatehouse of Fleet, followed by an excellent lunch in the “Masonic Arms” we sat and watched three red kites working the ridge of a field two or three miles north of Ringford. They worked along the ridge going upwind and riding the updraughts, then when they got to the end of heir patrol line they did a turn and skilfully allowed the wind to take them downwind as the turn continued to bring them upwind over the ridge again. In our time of watching each bird made at least one or two swoops down and landed on the grass, but we could not see them once they had done this (just the tops of their heads) so we could not see if they were actually eating anything. The sun was bright behind us, so that their colouring showed up well against the blue sky. A very pleasant five or ten minutes of observation. The photo below is, alas, not one of ours, but comes by courtesy of Google Images.

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One Picture is worth . . .

From “The Economist” by KAL

A very good summary of the last three years – and we haven’t yet hit the ground.

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The Last Post . . .

Since the storm cloud of the 21st Century is now visible on the near horizon, and in view of all the sorrow and farewells expressed in the European Parliament over this last week at the departure of the UK’s MEPs, I post below what may well be the last ever bulletin from the Scottish MEPs we elected recently. The majority of “leave” votes over “remain” votes in the referendum – which was not of itself an executive act – was about 1¼ million people in a population at that time of approximately 64.9 million and with an electorate of 46.5 million. And by the peculiar reasoning which only Governments can produce this majority has been considered to be enough to wrench us out of the European Union and destroy nearly 50 years of patient building. This is what is laughingly known as “Democracy”.

And as a tailpiece, I might add that in the last (say) ten years I have seen and experienced more and better use of the much maligned social media by MEPs than by our useless Westminster specimens who seem either not not know what it is, or to have no intention of communicating with those who elected them whatsoever.

End of rant . . .




Scotland in Europe Update: 17th January 2020

posted on January 17, 2020

This week was our last in Strasbourg (at least for the time being). While it’s been a tough week there were a number of key votes, not least on the European Green Deal where we helped to secure crucial amendments on the role of the European Investment Bank in the Green Deal, and underlined the need for binding national targets for both renewables and energy efficiency. Europe is busy getting on with tackling the issues that matter as we are being dragged out of the door against the people of Scotland’s democratically expressed wishes to remain inside the EU.…

The Parliament also stood up for EU citizens and passed an important opinion on the UK Government’s actions. In particular we are worried about the application-based approach used in the UK EU Settlement Scheme, the absence of physical proof for successful applicants, and its accessibility. The Parliament will continue to play a role in supporting EU 27 nationals after the UK has left the EU, and you can read more about the opinion here:…

And see Christian’s speech here:…

Many of you have expressed interest in ‘associate citizenship’. Unfortunately, whilst this was suggested earlier in the negotiations it has not progressed any further, despite the European Parliament pushing it as far as possible. Tragically – and we wish we had better news – the bottom line is simple: when the UK drags Scotland out of the EU we will no longer be EU citizens.

Looking further into the future, the EU has already started to lay out its position for the future negotiations with the UK. Front and centre of this is going to be the EU’s ‘Level Playing Field’ proposals. These are designed to stop the UK undercutting the EU and will include non-regression clauses on state aid, taxation, labour, environmental and social standards. The detail of these will form the backbone of all the talks for the next year and the question will be simple:

Does Boris value access to EU markets and protecting our existing quality of life? Or would he prefer to put up barriers and set up Singapore-on-Thames?

We fear we know the answer, so we all need to get out and talk to people about Scotland becoming a normal independent country which can rejoin the EU. This is now not just the best future for us all, but the only way to avert Scotland being dragged down with the UK.

If you want to read more about the Parliament’s position on the European Green Deal Investment Plan and Just Transition Mechanism, you can do so here.…

You can read the other EU positions that were released this week. They are a wee bit technical, but the details will define the deal the UK gets.

The Scottish Government has been laying out its position to defend the powers of the Scottish Parliament during the upcoming negotiations. As the First Minister said: “These arrangements aren’t just about who we trade with, they are about how we trade and how we maintain the highest possible standards. We want to minimise trade friction while ensuring consumer, environmental and worker protections are not allowed to suffer.…

The First Minister also chaired a meeting with economy and business leaders, the first of a series of roundtables to discuss the future path of Scotland, and the challenges of Brexit.…

The EU has again emphasised the solidarity that an entire continent has with Ireland.…

A report from Bloomberg Economics estimates the cost of Brexit since the EU referendum result at around £130 billion rising to £200 billion by the end of the year. It is remarkable how the UK government can find the money for this but not for the countless worthwhile services across the UK that they have cut.…

Katy Hayward wrote a good piece in the Guardian on the restoration of the Northern Ireland Assembly…

Le Monde covered the recent independence march in Glasgow.…

The Scottish Farmer has reported that crops will rot without more overseas workers…

The UK’s migration regime negatively affects the lives of transnational couples, according to Clive Sealey (University of Worcester) and Daniel Nehring (East China University of Science and Technology).…

Dr Anna Jerzewska published an important piece on the future of the UK’s customs regime.…

Christian’s speech summed it up the week rather well. “Politics does not stand still. We either go forward, or we go backwards.”…Scotland in Europe Update

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