Sunday, December 13, 2020

Trying to understand Brexit

Finally, I may have got to the bottom of Brexit, thanks to an analysis by New Statesman International Editor Jeremy Cliffe – see quote below from the interesting analysis in his recent New Statesman World Review newsletter.

Under Jacques Delors, Commission president in the then European Economic Community, the European single market was founded with a clear social vocation. “What would become of us if we didn’t have a minimum harmonisation of social rules?” the French socialist argued in the European Parliament in 1985: "What do we already see? Some member states, some companies who try to steal an advantage over their competitors, at the cost of what we have to call a social retreat.” The Delors social agenda, crystallised in the Social Chapter of the Maastricht Treaty concluded in 1992, was the wedge that would over time push the British Tories away from the European project. But it would also become one of the EU’s calling cards: the union as the credible guarantor of a social model that would not be possible were individual countries to pursue it on their own in a globalising world.

Jeremy Cliffe's related New Statesman article can be found here. Note reference to Soziale Marktwirtschaft, which I keep mentioning as a key difference between Germany and the more rampant capitalism in Britain.

On a related note, I had forgotten that Roy Jenkins was President of the European Commission (interesting / helpful Wikipedia page here). Andrew Adonis, in one of his recent New European pieces, ranked Roy Jenkins as the fourth most important political shaper of modern Britain – see PDF 'printout' here and online version here. I suppose one can safely assume that Mr Jenkins is spinning in his grave.

Meanwhile, as Chris Grey says in his Brexit Blog, "the swirl of rumours, counter-rumours, predictions, counter-predictions, and rune-reading that has characterised the last few months is intensifying and will continue to do so". And: "it serves little analytical purpose, as well as being psychologically debilitating, to try to follow each twist and turn at the moment".

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Perfectly imperfect

Supermarket companies can be problematic in many ways when they become too big and powerful – see Tescopoly campaign, for example.

On the other hand, credit is due when they "do the right thing", as exemplified by Tesco's "Perfectly imperfect" apples – see product labels below – which they sell as part of their apparent commitment to reduce food waste, and at a very reasonable price.

Classic case of: "what's not to like?"

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Monday, December 12, 2016

Monday, December 05, 2016

Dean's cookies policy

Can you see the funny side of Dean's cookies policy note?

Monday, November 21, 2016

Corah site

Prompted by the Leicester Civic Society Chairman's page in the November issue of Leicester Citizen (see extract below), two LCS members had a look round the area over the weekend and took some photos – see online album here.

One major cause for concern is the Corah site. It is a gigantic ‘black hole’ siting between Burleys Way and Abbey Park. On one side is the new Charter Street Stadium, with a proposed footbridge into the park; on the other the Waterside redevelopment area, though this too is not without its problems. Corah’s is a great part of Leicester’s great history as a manufacturing colossus. It is however a vast wreck, currently plagued by repeated attacks of arson. Given its layout and position it should be a thriving, almost self-contained urban village, making a major contribution to city centre housing stock and the city centre economy. But it is not. It is a sad truth that until something is done about Corah the economic miracle being wrought elsewhere in this great city of ours will remain marred.

Archway to nowhere! Leicester’s historic Corah
Factory, threatened by arson, awaits restoration
and renewal.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Bethink yourselves

Image "borrowed" from A. Christoyannopoulos' Conversation article

In a recent article at The Conversation, Alexandre Christoyannopoulos suggests four things you can do to make a difference, if you think the world is in a mess:

1. Be a reflective "producer" (this is about one's work choices)
2. Be an ethical consumer
3. Be an active citizen
4. Be a principled person

In conclusion, the author refers to Tolstoy, who wanted us to “bethink ourselves”. It turns out that Tolstoy's essay with the title Bethink Yourselves was written against the background of the Russo-Japanese War and contains this noteworthy statement (not least in the context of Remembrance):
Strange as this may seem, the surest and most certain deliverance for men from all their self-inflicted calamities, even the most dreadful of them – war – is attainable not by any external general measures but by that simple appeal to the consciousness of each individual man which was presented by Jesus nineteen hundred years ago: that every man should bethink himself and ask himself who he is, why he lives, and what he should and should not do.
The word "bethink" is interesting from a linguistic perspective. The Oxford English Dictionary confirms the "suspicion" that it is etymologically related to the German word "bedenken". It seems a shame that it is "obsolete". Perhaps it will make a comeback.