Gavin Maclure's Musings

My take on politics locally, nationally and internationally


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Please Scotland Vote No

Scotland makes Great Britain

Scotland makes Great Britain

I won’t be able to persuade the hard-core separatists. You know the ones: those you’ve seen on the news in recent days who swarm like moths to the lights of the TV cameras and wave their Yes posters and Saltires like it was the Nuremburg rally all over again. It’s funny how the Left always shout ‘racist!’ to any opposing view on immigration or Europe but don’t find it offensive in the slightest to demonise an entire race of English people. But I can’t say I’m surprised.

Anyway, this post is a plea to the mainstream Scot whom I love dearly, those you don’t see making fools of themselves on national TV, the silent majority going about their business. You are part of me. I have Scottish roots through both my mother’s and father’s side of our family. The clue is probably in my surname! Please don’t leave us tomorrow.

When polling stations open at 7am on Thursday, the voters of Scotland are going to be asked a question of magnificent proportions. If Alex Salmond’s separatists get their way then the most successful union in history will be gone – forever. And we will all be poorer for it: our economies will take a nosedive and our position on the world stage will be diminished. The answer can’t be changed in our children’s or grandchildren’s lifetimes – no one will be asked your question again for at least 100 years and probably 300 years. Since 1707, Scotland and England have joined together through thick and thin:  we have together developed one of the most successful economies on Earth with Scotland freely selling more to the rest of the UK than every other country in the world combined; and our forbearers have contributed their lives, along with our Welsh and Northern Ireland comrades in two world wars, defeating Hitler’s fascism in 1945. We are Great Britain because of Scotland. Please keep us Great for another 300 years.

I know you must be sick of the politicians popping up on your TV screens – I know I am. So I end my message to you with the words of the journalist Tim Stanley who has still summed up best why we in the rest of the UK so desperately want you to Vote No tomorrow and stay with us.


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As even Nick Clegg says, it is “flamingly obvious” Britain is a Christian country

David Cameron visits the Church of the Nativity in the West Bank town of Bethlehem in March this year

David Cameron visits the Church of the Nativity in the West Bank town of Bethlehem in March this year

The Prime Minister just before Easter dared to state the United Kingdom was a Christian country and the backlash from the atheists and secularists was immediate and lengthy, culminating in the arch-Atheist, Deputy Prime Minister and leader of the Yellow Peril Liberal Democrats, Nick Clegg, calling for the disestablishment of the Church of England.

All very predictable. But the large numbers of people in the UK stating they consider themselves Christians (59% at the last UK Census in 2012) and even a momentary glance outside of our personal lives into the civic world of Great Britain suggests the atheists and secularists are wrong. Even Nick Clegg had to admit earlier in the week it was “flamingly obvious” the country is founded on Christian values.

Former Arch-Leftist Bishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams popped up today to announce Britain was “post-Christian”, which followed earlier in the week current Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby stating the country was not a Christian country – judging by the numbers in the pews. The Church of England really is a funny institution: they are either so divided to the extent they might as well consider tabling a motion in Synod stating believing in God is optional or their high command is going out of its way to describe its irrelevance entirely. Oh dear oh dear.

It is clear why we focus on the Church of England when it comes to judging the popularity of Christianity: it is the Established Church and our Head of State is the Defender of The Faith. But let’s not be blinkered. Pop down to a Roman Catholic Church on a Sunday in any reasonably populated area (any ordinary provincial town will do) and the pews are overflowing. Join the faithful on an Easter service (e.g. Good Friday) and it is literally standing room only.

David Cameron knew what he was doing by igniting this debate. I do not doubt his sincerity when he describes moments where the “healing power” of faith has affected his life. But he didn’t become Prime Minister by not understanding what to say and when to say it. He knows he needs to win back his base before the General Election and knows policies like gay marriage haven’t helped. So he has calculated it’s time to ramp up the Christian and religious rhetoric. This is good as it reminds us we are, despite the best efforts of the Anglican Church, still a Christian country with all the values and tolerance which comes with that. The atheists and secularists who wrote to the Daily Telegraph denouncing the PM’s article in Church Times accused Mr Cameron of “fostering division”. Really? We are a Christian country, which welcomes and tolerates all faiths and none. I’d say by emphasising that he was doing quite the opposite.


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Send in the Army

Catastrophe: The River Thames has burst its banks

Catastrophe: The River Thames has burst its banks

If there’s some flooding in a far flung archipelago, the do-gooders in the left-wing quangos are out of the blocks quicker than you can say “Show me the money!” with the Disaster Emergency Committee buying up air-time on the beeb and commercial channels  and the Ministry of Defence dispatching a frigate to help the desperate people.

If the same thing happens back in Blighty, the Government doesn’t lift a finger for weeks, and when the water is almost at the gates of Downing Street there is hardly a flurry of action, relying instead on local people to co-ordinate the actions their tax pounds have already paid for.

This reality was brought into stark focus this morning when Defence Secretary (sans army) headed to the Thames Valley to show he “understands the concerns” of ordinary Britons whose houses and local streets are under water. Watch below Philip Hammond being berated live on Sky News by a local resident when Mr Hammond tells her he has 1600 troops on “stand-by”. She goes through the list of civic authority actions the council isn’t doing, the Environment Agency isn’t doing, the Police aren’t doing – and, therefore, the lady and her neighbours have had to take on themselves, including directing the traffic.

What on earth is going on? It’s as if Government has collapsed. We clearly have the resources, if they are not helping flood victims in the Far East. Do we, the ordinary public, need to push the politicians out of the way and commandeer them ourselves?

Great Britain is the sixth richest country on Earth but we can’t even manage to build a complete wall of sandbags.


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UK PM blocks Romanians and Bulgarians from claiming benefits (well, for 3 months)

EU Reform: UK Prime Minister David Cameron

EU Reform: UK Prime Minister David Cameron

Firstly, apologies for the recent drought in posts.

David Cameron today, most likely prompted by his Aussie political strategist Lynton Crosby, announced today tougher controls over access to our welfare system by Romanians and Bulgarians (and anyone else wanting to emigrate to Great Britain).

At the end of this year, the transitional controls which have prevented free movement by Romanians and Bulgarians through the EU since their accession in 2007 will come to an end. From 1st January 2014, it will be legal for any Romanian or Bulgarian to come to the UK, whether they have a job or not.

The Prime Minister told the Financial Times:

“On January 1, the people of Romania and Bulgaria will have the same right to work in the UK as other EU citizens. I know many people are deeply concerned about the impact that could have on our country. I share those concerns.”

He added:

“We are changing the rules so that no one can come to this country and expect to get out of work benefits immediately; we will not pay them for the first three months. If after three months an EU national needs benefits – we will no longer pay these indefinitely. They will only be able to claim for a maximum of six months unless they can prove they have a genuine prospect of employment.”

This sparked an angry response from EU Employment Commissioner Laszlo Andor who told the Today programme – the BBC’s flagship breakfast news radio programme – Mr Cameron risked “presenting the UK as a kind of nasty country in the European Union”. Cue cries of joy in Downing Street: the EU had just very helpfully boosted the Conservative Party’s message that it is getting tough on EU dominance over our sovereignty.

David Cameron also told the FT:

“The EU of today is very different from the EU of 30 years ago. We need to face the fact that free movement has become a trigger for vast population movements caused by huge disparities in income.”

The PM said he wanted the EU to reform the concept of free movement across the continent adding:

“And we need to do the same with welfare. For example, free movement should not be about exporting child benefit – I want to work with our European partners to address this.”

Mr Cameron then told the British people:

“The EU needs to change if it is to regain the trust of its peoples. I look forward to working with other countries who also want reform – and to putting the choice about our future in Europe in a referendum. If I am prime minister after the next election, the British people will have their say.”

And this is where it all falls apart. The problem is, because of his stupid policies on gay marriage, a softly-softly approach to welfare reform which still allows people to take home £26,000 tax free in benefits, and no action on immigration, Dave won’t be in a position to offer an EU referendum, as he will lose the General Election.


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Putin takes a pop at the UK

cameron putin

It is being reported across the mainstream media that in the small hours this morning Russian President Putin’s spokesman called Britain a “small island”.

WTF! Let me explain to Mr Putin what Great Britain actually is. It is the world’s 9th largest island by territory; the UK is the 6th largest economy in the world. Russia is 8th.

Granted we have been bigger. When the Conservatives left office in 1997, we were the 4th largest economy on Earth after Japan, Germany and the US but Labour screwed that up. And need I mention Margaret Thatcher and the Cold War.

Hmm. 


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Disgraceful behaviour from UK politicians lets Assad off the hook

Syrian children lay dead after being gassed in Damascus

Syrian children lay dead after being gassed in Damascus

MPs cheered last night when the Government was defeated in the House of Commons. What have we become when the cockpit of our nation brays from the green benches as children are gassed and burned in Syria by a brutal dictator who has no respect for international norms or decency? As Ipswich MP Ben Gummer said yesterday in the House, Hitler had not even used chemical weapons in the second world. The implication is Assad is worse than Hitler and Great Britain says it’s got nothing to do with us.

I am depressed and angry by the behaviour of the 285 MPs who voted against what was a watered down motion approving military action to stop the agonising deaths of children in Syria’s cities, which explicitly said would not take place immediately leaving the UN inspectors to complete their work and for the UN security council to debate the grave situation again.

The long dark shadow of Iraq has made our parliamentarians impotent. In one fell swoop, they have diminished our standing in the world, they have damaged the special relationship with the United States – a partnership which adds great value to upholding international law and has saved the globe from great evil three times in the last century. Chemical weapons have been banned by the Geneva Convention for nearly ninety years. Even Saddam Hussein used them only once. Assad has used them 14 times in the last year. Whilst the glorified social workers which now seem to make up the majority of the UK parliament acted like armchair Generals, Assad seemed so convinced the West would do nothing he yesterday dropped an incendiary bomb with what seemed to contain napalm on a school playground burning children, men and women to death. But the so called “will of the people” in Britain decided that’s quite ok.

Parliamentary democracy is the least worst system there is as Winston Churchill once said but it is not a panacea. If politicians never led and just followed, we’d have public hanging brought back to entertain the masses. David Cameron made a literally fatal political calculation – haunted by Iraq – by taking his call for action against Assad into a mess of a parliament full of feuding factions in all parties with a Coalition of Conservatives and Liberal Democrats at its helm. A sixth-form politics student could see how this would end up. And the irony is the Prime Minister didn’t legally need to seek a vote in the House of Commons. He has the power under Royal Prerogative to initiate military action to protect Britain’s interests, let alone to stop the slaughter of infants in their beds. But he chose to blink and humiliated Britain on the world stage as a result.

As former Liberal Democrat leader and soldier Lord Ashdown said this morning: “What is the point of having armed forces?” During the twentieth century, Britain stood tall, punched way above its weight against tyranny and the defence of freedom. After tonight’s vote, I feel we have become a different country, one that reflects our geographical size rather than the great influence we once had on the world stage. We can no longer use our extensive military force within the international system to protect crimes against humanity. Instead of looking out to the world which I keenly advocate (one of the reasons why we should pull out of the EU, which has shown itself to be completely toothless on Syria) we have become an isolationist. This has a serious geopolitical impact. We have become as bad as Russia and China have behaved during the last two years of the Syria civil war.

One politician from last night who deserves our greatest wrath is not David Cameron but Labour leader Ed Miliband. He chose to score political points at the expense of children being wracked by nerve agents in their homes. Miliband is a political opportunist of the worst kind and I hope to God this pygmy never becomes Prime Minister.

The current Prime Minister is not much better when it comes to making the right political choices. He has spent the last eight years as leader of the Tory Party distancing himself from his backbenchers and grass root activists, which has implicitly given approval to his former Eton chums to abuse ordinary Conservative Party members. Is it therefore any wonder he can’t rely on his Party’s support when the going gets tough? His backbenchers don’t trust him, never mind follow his lead. The whips are so frightened of the Tory rebels they obviously had no idea the Government was about to be defeated. It’s a dog’s breakfast which isn’t going to get any better as we head towards the 2015 General Election and the disintegration of the Coalition shortly beforehand.

I don’t feel the need to call for David Cameron’s resignation as some readers might expect as there is no alternative. The Prime Minister’s resignation would lead to a General Election and the likely result would be a Labour-Liberal Democrat Coalition. Then we really would be finished.


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Syria: Mad dog Assad’s barbaric behaviour needs to be punished

Mad dog: Bashar Al-Assad

Mad dog: Bashar al-Assad

It might be the difference between styles of Government but who is leading the West to War: David Cameron or Barack Obama? The UK seems to be doing the running when it comes to putting all the legal ducks in a row before launching the Tomahawks at Damascus from underneath and on the Mediterranean Sea.

It does demonstrate – despite swingeing Defence cuts  – Great Britain still punches above its weight when it comes to military affairs. Of course, there is no doubt the UK could not commit to an attack on Syria without US backing for both military and political reasons but still it will be Great Britain blowing up millions of pounds on Assad’s Command and Control bases along with the US arsenal. French President Francois Hollande is jumping up and down a lot but is he planning on adding to the firepower?

On the issue of legal and political cover, if the debacle over the lies told by Bliar’s Government over the existence of WMD in Iraq had never happened ten years ago, the US (yes, even under Obama) and the UK would have already have intervened to stop Assad killing his own people and may have introduced a no-fly zone for good measure. Because, let’s be frank, enough innocent people have died already in Syria – the images of children crying in pain after being gassed in the middle of night and finding their parents and siblings dead in their beds is – without doubt – against international law. Have a read of the Geneva Protocol – it’s been wrong, funnily enough, to gas your own people for nearly ninety years.

Mad dog dictators who deploy chemical weapons on civilian populations need to be punished. International law allows this (see Geneva Protocol (again) and the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention). Now, when we are talking about Heads of State who are enacting barbaric acts on fellow human beings on a massive scale, we don’t just say “tut tut, don’t do that again” or go and arrest the guy (although that may be how Assad ends up). Civilised countries with sufficient military and political clout have a duty to punish and disable these Heads of State. That means hurting his military power and means of inflicting heinous acts on noncombatants: Command and Control centres, airfields, fuel dumps etc.

Tomorrow there will be a vote in the House of Commons, in all likelihood to seek approval for a military strike on Syria. MPs need to show leadership. This is difficult for them to do, especially for the 2010 intake whom many seem to have come into politics to act as glorified social workers rather than statesmen and women. The Labour Party will no doubt take any political opportunity that comes their way tomorrow – considering the mess they made over Iraq, which indirectly allowed Assad to gas his own people not once but three times in the last few months, nothing would surprise me.

It might be fun for David Cameron to lose his vote but it would be quite appalling to put domestic politics before the lives of Syrian children tomorrow.

Enough is enough. It’s time to put Assad back in his box.


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Margaret Thatcher: My Tribute

Thatcher: A towering figure of the Twentieth Century

Thatcher: A towering figure of the Twentieth Century

Talk to anyone who was living in Britain in the late 1970s and they will tell you this: our country was on the rocks, our European cousins across the channel sniggered we were the “sick man of Europe”, the dead were left unburied during the Winter of Discontent, the trade union barons ran the country enjoying beer and sandwiches in Number 10.

Conservative Margaret Thatcher becomes Prime Minister in 1979

Conservative Margaret Thatcher becomes Prime Minister in 1979

Then came the election of the first female prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, in 1979 and the rot was stopped.

I was born in 1979 and although I do not remember that year I have discussed at length with my father what the UK was like back then, when he was building his career and starting a family, and, in his words, it was “a different world”. By the time Margaret Thatcher left office in 1990, I was starting secondary school and I remember vividly a left-wing teacher bursting into our classroom and gleefully telling his colleague: “She has resigned!”

But by the time she was ousted from office, she had done what she set out to do. Mrs Thatcher took Britain from being a basket case where the previous Labour Government had been forced to call in the IMF into the fourth largest economy on Earth by the time she left Downing Street after eleven years in 1990. Thatcher transformed Britain and no other peacetime prime minister has ever come close to securing such a lasting legacy.

This very day, we only need to look around, and we can see her legacy. Privatisation of our public utility companies brought wealth through shareholdings to millions of people who had never had a stake in a company. I work for one such company – BT – and it is a far better run company for being publicly owned than it ever was as a State-run organisation. Back in the 1970s, owning a car and going abroad on holiday were still a luxury – today, many families have multiple cars and many more go abroad on holiday at least once a year! How do you think this happened? It didn’t magically occur. It was created by the economic reforms Margaret Thatcher, along with her trusted advisors like Keith Joseph and Willie Whitelaw, put in place. Mrs Thatcher unleashed an entrepreneurial revolution, removing regulation to help small businesses start up and thrive. The reforms in the City of London, notably the ‘Big Bang’ of 1986, made London’s financial services industry a rival to Wall Street and overnight brought down barriers to employment in the sector: out went the old-boys’ network, in came the ‘barrow boys’.

Millions and millions of baby boomers today are living high on the hog because of Margaret Thatcher. I wish I was part of my parent’s generation rather than starting my career in the early noughties whilst Labour were taking a wrecking ball to the British economy once again.

Back in the 1980s, Mrs Thatcher put the power back in the hands of the people and out of the hands of the elite trade union barons who until Maggie came along were quaffing beer and munching on sandwiches with THEIR Labour prime minister in Downing Street. Thatcher crushed the unions who had held an economic gun to the head of Britain for too long and because of parliamentary legislation she passed they will never be able to threaten our country’s economy again.

Falklands: Thatcher repelled aggressors

Falklands: Thatcher repelled aggressors

Margaret Thatcher was not just a political heavyweight domestically but also internationally. When a military junta in Argentina invaded a small British sovereign territory, called the Falkland Islands, 8000 miles away from the UK, which most of the British population had never heard of, Thatcher did not flinch. Instead she ordered the fleet to sail for Port Stanley and, when there was not a large enough troop carrier available to the Ministry of Defence, she commandeered a cruise liner to ferry our troops to the South Atlantic.

We now know Ronald Reagan, through the release of the Thatcher files under the Thirty-Year Rule, did not support her campaign to retake the Falkland Islands and he encouraged her to not “humiliate” the Argentines and to pull back. She refused and two weeks later the Union Jack was flying once again over the Governor’s House in Port Stanley.

Freedom: Thatcher and Reagan together ended the Cold War

Freedom: Thatcher and Reagan together ended the Cold War

Then there was the Soviet Union. Red Star, a USSR propaganda sheet, dubbed her (even before she became Prime Minister) the Iron Lady for her strong will. She detested Socialism and Communism in all their forms. Thatcher saw millions of fellow Europeans trapped behind the Iron Curtain in countries like Hungary, Romania and Poland under oppressive regimes with their economies shattered. Together with Ronald Reagan, who adored her steadfast leadership style, they defeated Communism in Europe and ended the Cold War, allowing tens of millions of people to travel abroad and unleashing their talents into the global economy.

In Hungary, high schools have a dedicated page in their history course books to only one UK prime minister: Margaret Thatcher.

Unlike the British Conservative Party leadership of today, Margaret Thatcher did understand the aspiring class. She was the daughter of a green grocer who worked her way up and, granted, through the love of her husband Denis, his wealth allowed her to leave her trades of Chemistry and the Law to become Conservative Party Leader and then prime minister in 1979. But she never forgot where she came from and instinctively understood people who were thriving and trying to get on. Maggie always knew the price of a pint of milk!

Margaret Thatcher was a major national and international figure, whatever your politics. She ranks alongside Wellington, Palmerston, Gladstone and Churchill. Unlike them she ordered before her death that she did not want her body to lie in State and therefore she will not have a State Funeral but will be afforded a Ceremonial Funeral in St Paul’s Cathedral with full military honours. It will be the same form of funeral as the Queen Mother in 2002. This is entirely fitting for a woman who was one of the greatest world leaders of the Twentieth Century.

As the current Prime Minister David Cameron said on this sad day, Margaret Thatcher “saved” our country. Frankly, she put the Great back in to Great Britain.

May this great lady rest in peace.


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BREAKING: Margaret Thatcher has died

Political giant: Margaret Thatcher has died

Political giant: Margaret Thatcher has died

Britain’s longest serving Prime Minister, first female PM, and the ‘Iron Lady’, as the former Soviet Union dubbed her, has sadly passed away today, aged 87.

Margaret Thatcher will be given a Ceremonial Funeral with military honours at St Paul’s Cathedral, London.

Flags have been lowered to half mast this afternoon in Downing Street.

More to follow, including a tribute to this colossal of world twentieth century politics, who transformed Britain and helped end the Cold War…