Mark Mardell asks “Did we need an EU army after all?” (TNE #283). It is now blindingly obvious that the EU must step up to the plate and take responsibility for its own collective security, being less reliant, if even at all, on Nato.
The common-sense approach would be to form an EU security council and start there with the divestment of responsibility and power.
Our world consists of interwoven economic blocks, of which the EU is one of the largest. Whether certain political opportunists like it or not, the UK IS anchored to the EU in every sense – economically, geographically, and politically.
The absence of an EU army is no doubt a fact Putin delights in.
An EU army remains a step too far: Firstly several EU members are neutral, and secondly, no one will accept their troops fighting under a commander-in-chief who is not under their own political command. Having said that, a military coordination group similar to the Nato secretariat, reporting to the EU Council, for those countries who wish to participate would be valuable. Andrew Ferry Via Facebook It’s interesting that their idiocy wasn’t confined to economic and cultural illiteracy – the armchair WW2 Brexit warriors didn’t have a clue about our defence needs either. Recovering “sovereignty” is looking hollower & more pointless by the hour…
Bad, not mad
Re: Dr Robert Kramer’s article “The End Of Putin” (TNE #283). In the outstanding cold war drama series The Americans (2013-18), Keri Russell’s beautiful-but-callous KGB agent, Elizabeth Jennings, murders an innocent elderly American woman. As the old lady dies she asks true believer Russell why she’s killing her. Russell replies without irony, “to make the world a better place”. The old woman suggests, “that’s what evil people always say when they do evil things”.
Unlike Elizabeth Jennings, Putin, like all dictators, believes in nothing. He’s a cold war nostalgist forever stuck in 1989-91. There’s a great anecdote in Peter Pomerantsev’s book Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible: His mother in Kyiv as a schoolgirl encounters a KGB agent. The agent mentions the hostility he received from Czechoslovakians – “Russians go home!” – during the Soviet crushing of the Prague Spring in 1968. “You mean they weren’t happy to see you?” she asks. Pomerantsev writes, “He looked at her like she was an idiot.”
Anyone who truly believes – as some media commentators do – that Putin thought Russian-speaking Ukrainians would greet his troops with flowers is naive. He’s evil but not stupid.
TNE is one of the few media outlets to have always had the measure of Putin. “The Real Beast From the East” cover is a very pertinent classic.
What a perceptive, and worrying, article John Kampfner’s “Will the West betray Ukraine?” (TNE #283) was. I fear that the scenario he outlines is very close.
As the cost of living crisis grows in Britain, how long before the pro-Russian voices now telling us we must scrap sensible climate targets in order to save money start pushing for a settlement that will allow Zelensky to stay in office, Putin to save face by achieving his objectives in Donbas and Russian fuel pipelines to be turned back on?
I think we can all guess who will be leading that particular charge…
My great fear is that Ukraine will peter out on the front pages or people will become immune to it. It’s a horrible prospect, but something else will come along – another catastrophe – to relegate it to the back pages. We can’t let this happen.
Re: “The crisis in Ukraine won’t save Boris Johnson” (TNE #283). Unfortunately, it already has.
His party won’t ditch him because there is no one better, and the bizarre voting tendencies of the biggest country in the UK may even return him at the next election.
Wishful thinking from James Ball. Johnson will plead that Covid and Ukraine haven’t given him the bandwidth to get Brexit right, and enough people will believe him.
Johnson’s government’s response to refugees alone will ensure he’s remembered for all the wrong things, number one of which is lying.
Like so many others, I find it shameful to see the Home Office being so inept at offering visas to this country for fleeing Ukrainians. As the people needing care and hospitality are overwhelmingly women, children and the elderly it seems mendacious to cite threats of Russian infiltrators and terrorists as a reason for making their admission to the UK so unbelievably difficult.
I have been following a story in the news of a 12-year old girl and her grandmother desperately trying to reach safety and was delighted to hear they are now on their way to Warsaw and even more pleased that they intend to go on to Ireland. Why would any Ukrainian, without family connections here, choose to come to our isolated country with its hostile Home Office, when they can live anywhere they choose within the EU?
Bere Regis, Dorset
The current Ukrainian disaster only amplifies the need to be at the centre of European decision-making and influence, and the ongoing folly of Brexit.
During this Ukrainian horror, we are witnessing Putin steadily rolling back the few remaining democratic rights in Russia as he sees his power base steadily shrinking. Ironically, the same is happening here in a quieter, more subtle way. The Tories are quietly chipping away at the unprotected unwritten UK constitution – with attempts at opposition voter suppression through the need for voter ID at elections, unwarranted restrictions on the right to public protest that have existed for generations, government control over the until-now independent Electoral Commission and the introduction of first past the post voting for mayoral and Police and Crime Commissioner elections.
This unfair voting system (which we only share with the Belarusian dictatorship within Europe) has the great electoral advantage to the government that it effectively splits the opposition vote, and has let the Tories divide and rule over many decades.
I would suggest we need to be at the front and centre of Europe for military, trade and political reasons and require a modern proportional voting system to support that position.
RE: “Erdoğan’s dilemma” (TNE #283). Turkey’s money, the lira, is declining in value at about 20% a year because Erdoğan is a terrible money manager. Russia’s rouble is worthless, so Russian tourism is dead for now. Turkey can grow its own food. It is a very fertile country. That just leaves fuel and they are racing to install renewables. I’ve seen them myself. However, it will take time for this to be completed. But with a little help, Turkey can survive.
No way back
Re: “A Tory split would open the door to rejoining the EU” (Letters, TNE #283). l don’t think there will be an appetite for Rejoin at the next election, even amongst Remainers. The best available option will be to go into the single market or to achieve some alignment with the single market in order to remove non-tariff barriers. Paul Carroll Via Facebook Fancy another five years of Brexit argument? I know I don’t. But I do believe that a government whose word could be trusted could do a lot to restore frictionless trade, because that is in the EU’s interests as well as ours. And relations generally could be made a lot more cooperative.
My vote has gone to the Lib Dems and will stay there until Labour becomes a pro-EU party. I can’t see why anyone who cares about EU membership would continue to vote Labour.
What a defeatist article by Jonty Bloom (“Starmer and the T-Rex in the room”, TNE #282)! He recognises he has been conned, but seems to say, “what a pity, I’ll just have to put it behind me”. I too feel we were conned, but I want to see the con-men in jail!
Bloom does not realise the Tory party has already disappeared – it is the Brexit or Vote Leave party, masquerading as respectable. The tide is turning for PR. I do not wish to wait 50 years in “an old people’s home for fading nations”.
Carnival time Tanit Koch’s excellent account of Cologne Karneval (TNE #283) is also an excellent example of Lokalpatriotismus. “Nowhere else in Germany is Karneval celebrated as excessively,” may be true in media terms, but in other Catholic areas Fasching and Fastnacht are just as important. Tanit does not mention Weiberfastnacht, the day when women are dominant in the streets, reportedly cutting off men’s ties. In Konstanz, on the German side of the Swiss border, I was once surrounded by a group of women on Weiberfastnacht. They smothered me with kisses and smeared my face with lipstick.
Cologne Karneval indeed has a big “business volume”; as a BBC producer I recall the huge size of the Gürzenich, a meeting place of many of Cologne’s Karneval societies; there, the president of one of them told me: “When one Karneval is finished, we immediately start planning the next.”
The Cologne police officer responsible for Karneval said that more than 2,000 policemen were needed; by the end of Karneval, over 500 no longer had their hats.
I saw Tim Walker’s Bloody Difficult Women (“Bloody marvellous”, TNE #283) on Sunday at the Riverside. Absolutely stunning! A creative tour de force. Compelling, amusing, frightening. Recommended!
The eagle-eyed visiting Richmond, North Yorkshire in the past week or so may have been puzzled to see banners prominently located on the main routes into the town centre promoting its restaurants and shops. The EU logo appears in the bottom right-hand corner of each banner with the words “European Union European Regional Development Fund”.
I confess I wasn’t aware Richmond had either remained in the EU or had rejoined. Could it be that our MP, who also happens to be the chancellor, arch-Brexiteer Rishi Sunak, has seen the error of his ways and by stealth has managed to get Richmond to rejoin?
As a stalwart Remainer I am delighted to learn this news. Surely his next step must be to get the rest of the UK back into the EU. If he succeeds, I may even be tempted to give him my full support in his efforts to replace our lamentable prime minister.
Emeritus Professor David Hunter
Richmond, North Yorkshire