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The Myths of the Referendum

The Myths of the Referendum

There are many legitimate arguments on both sides of the referendum divide. Brussels and its bureaucrats have been removed and disinterested in the real working and living populations of not just the UK but throughout Europe. This is now giving rise to a worrying move to the ultra-right-wing. Brussels bureaucrats along with many of the key national governments have not been listening and this is allowing the gap between the wealthy and the poor to increase  and I now include the middle classes in the poor. With the rising costs of food utilities and housing the middle classes are now under substantial pressure. The outcry from a referendum that I believe should never of happened could prove to be one of the greatest protest votes in history. Unfortunately,  this referendum could become an economic disaster if politicians continue in their current vein .. I have little doubt that the UK will find a way to survive possibly as a smaller economy providing its politicians get tough and really believe in a direction.

The problem I have with this referendum is that as one man one vote, one company one vote the final word has been left to the man on the street. It was like loading a gun to fire at a target no one could see. The ruling classes did little to explain the direction to fire in. Consequently, most voters voted on the basis of misunderstanding. In a previous blog I pointed out why I believe the immigration issue was a red herring, as it is estimated that between 1995 and 2011  migrants made a positive contribution of more than £4 billion ($6.4 billion) to Britain, compared with an overall negative contribution of £591 billion for native Britons. Between 2001 and 2011, the net fiscal contribution of recent arrivals from the eastern European countries that have joined the EU since 2004 has amounted to almost £5 billion. Even during the worst years of the financial crisis, in 2007-11, they made a net contribution of almost £2 billion to British public finances. Migrants from other European countries chipped in £8.6 billion. Research by Christian Dustmann of University College London and Tommaso Frattini of the University of Milan 

I have heard many incorrect assumptions made on reasons for voting Brexit from bringing back democracy to non-elected MEPs in Brussels. Democracy does not exist here or elsewhere the only thing that matters is does your country have a workable government that protects the people and increases their wealth.  The UK like most counties is run by an establishment not all elected. MEPs are elected every 5 years.  

The United Kingdom’s component of the 2014 European Parliament election was held on Thursday 22 May 2014, coinciding with the 2014 local elections in England and Northern Ireland. Given the subsequent Leave vote in the 23 June 2016 referendum, it is likely that this will be the last time the UK participates in a European Parliament election.

Most of the results of the election were announced on Sunday 25 May, after voting closed throughout the 28 member states of the European Union. In total, 73 Members of the European Parliament were elected from the United Kingdom using proportional representationEnglandScotland and Wales use a closed-list party list system of PR (with the D’Hondt method), while Northern Ireland used the single transferable vote (STV).

The UK Independence Party (UKIP) came top of the poll – the first time a political party other than the Labour Party or Conservative Party has won the popular vote in a British election since the 1906 general election. It is also the first time a party other than the Labour and Conservatives won the largest number of seats in a national election since the December 1910 general election.

The Conservatives, the party at the time in governing coalition with the Liberal Democrats, were pushed into third place for the first time in a European Parliament election, the same position as Labour in the previous 2009 European Parliament election. It was also the first time since 1984 that the largest opposition party failed to win the European Parliament election.

Figures released in December 2014 showed that the Conservatives and UKIP each spent £2.96m on the campaign, the Liberal Democrats £1.5 million and the Labour party approximately £1m.

Unfortunately, few people take any notice of European elections and this election happened with only a 34% turnout. I am only pointing this out and as many will demonstrate to me there is much wrong with this system. However, where is the will to make it work.

The plunge has now been taken and will come down to a rather ineffective so called political elite to negotiate the best divorce possible. There are going to be many problems the first is the hope that an EEA (European Economic Area) deal similar to Norway’s can be negotiated. The European Economic Area (EEA) is the area in which the Agreement on the EEA provides for the free movement of persons, goods, services and capital within the internal market of the European Union (EU). Norway’s deal includes the acceptance of open borders. As this election was fought and won on immigration this will not be an acceptable compromise for the UK people.

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Image by Shane Aurousseau

It has also been muted that banks and financial groups should wait before moving, as a new Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MFID) is about to be launched. Markets in Financial Instruments Directive 2004/39/EC (known as “MiFID”) as subsequently amended is a European Union law that provides harmonized regulation for investment services across the 31 member states of the European Economic Area (the 28 EU member states plus Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein). The directive’s main objectives are to increase competition and consumer protection in investment services. As of the effective date, 1 November 2007, it replaced the Investment Services Directive (ISD). My understanding and correct me if I am wrong is that a state must have a EEA agreement in place to be part of MFID.  Referendum

MIFID is very important to London  and the UK to be able to participate in such an agreement.

However, a more important issue is the clearing of Euro denominated business. It is already the European Central Bank’s view that euro-denominated business worth hundreds of billions of euros would be better executed – or “cleared” – on the continent. This is the reason for HSBCs indication that it may move a 1000 jobs to Paris others could follow. This could potentially be a major loss for the city. Some say up to 70,000 jobs could go. These are real issues that the average voter has no knowledge of. Without the city the economy will shrink and this will have a major effect on the lifestyles of the average voter.

Other myths that we need to stop and take count of, firstly Britain is not a member of the Schengen agreement so why can’t border controls be put in place now. This points more to UK government political failure than an EU issue an an underfunded border service.

Of course we all Know about the misrepresentation of the £350 million figure closer to £110 million. A case that the advertising standards committee won’t even look at. Now it is being admitted that the money won’t be available until exit in 2 years + and by then there could be a new government in place with other pressing problems, they may not want to use that money for the NHS. Unfortunately, the British public continue to get stitched up by the political class in Brussels and the UK.

This morning a Nordic trade bloc has been muted this could be a very viable solution for the British even keeping Scotland and Northern Ireland as part of the Union and solving the problem of a corrupt and disjointed Brussels. Such a bloc could have the strength to force deals out of the EU; especially with the EU falling trade figures; while being free to negotiate internationally.

Shane Aurousseau

http://www.kiamafoto.com

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Pelicans and Galahs

Working-together

Pelicans and Galahs these may seem strange creatures to use in the context that I’m about to write about; however In Aussie speak a pelican or a galah is a synonym for stupidity especially related to an action; ‘you pelican’ or ‘what a bunch of galahs’.  Not totally fair on those exquisite creatures but what in this world is fair. Especially when it comes to the myopic views of our leaders who govern by vested interest many of a personal nature. I don’t presume to be a great expert on the Middle East, however I have spent sometime there on business and I would like to share some views.

Although an Australian with a trained photographic and creative background  having held positions in major advertising agencies as a creative director including the then largest Young and Rubicam working on accounts such as Time Magazine, Time Life books, Michelin, Yamaha, Camel Cigarettes and later financial accounts such as Fidelity, Midland Bank, Royal Life, Eagle Star Insurance and others;  by way of the creative world I drifted for a time into the financial sphere including eventually running and representing hedge funds. Some of the companies that I worked with during my time in the City of London were many of the most successful in the industry including a stint forming SECAVs in Luxembourg for the then second largest UK insurance company Norwich Union, SECAVs were  a form of open-ended fund used mainly by the French, SECAFs being closed ended. I was IMRO(Investment Management Regulatory Organization)  registered, now defunct a bit like me.  The largest unit trust industry is in France but of course Luxembourg was then offshore  using French fund structures. The position with Norwich union gave me the status of a General Manager in a  mutual insurance company this equated to a director’s position. It was through producing creative work for city institutions that I learnt a great deal about how the financial world works.

During this period of my life I became an advisor on product development to the largest of the islamic banking groups Dallah Al-Baraka of Saudi Arabia. I was involved in the creation of a joint venture company between Dallah Al-Baraka and the Johor Bahru corporation of Malaysia locating the joint venture in Bahrain.  I was included in their strategy in order to marry western fund ideas into the Islamic system.

My work in the Middle East brought me in contact with such institutions as ADIA(Abu Dhabi Investment Authority) and its associate ADIC plus many of the private departments of the Shaikhs including the private department of the then Life President of the Emirates Sheikh Zayed Al Nahyan. I spent a considerable time working   throughout the middle East including in Kuwait with the massive fund run by the Kuwait government under the KIO(Kuwait Investment Office). I made many Arab friends and found them to be one of the most hospitable of people.

However as a westerner having worked with Sharia committees made up of scholars who were not banking or financial people but religious academics and judges, I found that there are enormous differences in interpretation and implementation, it is these anomalies that have caused much misunderstanding between people. Couple this misunderstanding in the Islamic world with the total lack of understanding in the western world and the vested oil interests of the West and you have a formula for disaster. The history of the west in the Middle East has been one of planning only for the financial gains driven by oil. Not only has there been no respect for the differences of interpretation in the Islamic world but there was also no respect for tribal borders. Many borders were created on a divide and rule basis or on the premise of who was the strongest and who could be purchased the easiest and give added control to oil rich regions. Although not really an oil issue  both Palestine and Israel have been caught up in this border or land manipulation. I believe strongly that both these groups should exist in their own states within their own borders. There is no doubt that the Palestinians have had a raw deal all people should have the right to exist. There is also not doubt that the Arab world could have assisted in the correction of this issue.

For centuries Arabs and Jews lived in harmony. During the medieval periods of the crusades the secular thinkers where in educated Islam. When the West was living in mud and cold castles cities such as Constantinople and Cordoba Spain(the two largest of Islamic cities) had street lighting – Islam was the educated world.  Saladin rebuilt the Christian churches and synagogues and protected them following the fall of Jerusalem around 1187.    At sometime a halt must be called to revenge, revenge creates more revenge and then the story is  never ending  destroying the future for subsequent generations.

The US is becoming more and more oil self sufficient and of course the large deposits of shale now being discovered in North America are adding to this independence. As the US pulls  away from the Middle East the violence may intensify. Much of this violence will be about the realigning  of borders back to their more legitimate pre-western involvement days, real tribal boundaries. The issues in the Middle East are much more than Sunni and Shia an easy Western simplification. The realigning of boarders is not a bad thing as smaller autonomous actor states are much more manageable than large continental groups. In most major countries there is considerable autonomy given to cities and individual states. The real problem is how do they live together with understanding and acceptance of differing ideas and opinions.  To quote one of my uncles a successful academic who said ‘ variety is the spice of life’. It is difference that creates progress. Religion and lateral thinking should not be used as an excuse for hate and gain. The great prophets and thinkers would be horrified by much of our interpretation.

We can’t keep looking back and blaming  the crusades, holocaust and  remember the Russians lost 20 million people during WWII and the same again under Stalin. These debacles must be guides to help us construct a better future not a route to hatred. The next issue will be relating any relative DNA  extension of Alexander the Great to  some form of criminal activity that took place in 340 BC. Mind you I should not have mentioned this as once the legal fraternity gets hold of it dollar signs will appear and blame could be apportioned. Somewhere without the necessity to apologise we need to say enough is enough.

Because I believe in everything and nothing some have called me an atheist but how can you follow that doctrine atheism is an absolute  and a close relative of fundamentalism,  it means you know, agnostic is a much calmer interpretation.  In the greater galactic scheme of things we are all small fry and much of our nonsense is irrelevant and damaging to our development as a successful species. Unfortunately many of our leaders are intellectual minnows,  Pelicans and Galahs stuck in the muddy banks of dogma.