An Economic, Moral and Practical Case For Lower Taxes

david-cameron-pic-getty-images-924849032I have visited many conferences and listened to many great speakers over the years, inspirational, evangelical and passionate. Great public speakers draw you in, hold your attention and leave you wanting to embrace their story.

People who are truly passionate about their subject are a delight to listen to, however, long gone are the days when the PM could talk off the cuff on any subject. A modern leader is a puppet of the media managers and script writers.

A party campaign manager would have a fit if his charge spoke off script so these days the great leaders have got very good at reading their prepared speeches and making them sound like their own.

In the early days I would have allowed myself to be drawn in. Like a moth to the light bulb I would open my mind and allow the mesmerizing words to mould me like putty. The euphoric feeling of inclusion, of being a part of the speakers plans, of the uplifting, wholesome, convincing, compelling… ok stop right there! Then I started to listen.

When you actually listen, separate the phrases, analyse the meaning, the contradictions, the precise language used, you realise that more often than not the words are playing on your greed and vanity and are in fact hollow and meaningless.

Since I am a sceptic and like to understand, I have stopped listening and now I read the transcripts. This morning I read David Camerons electioneering speech in Hampshire where he said;

  • …there is an “economic, moral and practical” case for lower taxes.

As part of his central election pledges on taxation the above statement sounds great, he went on to say “This is not just a vague promise,” he said. “We have a record”.

Early in my sales career I learned that if you told people what they wanted to hear they would place the order. In those formative years I discovered the dangers of promising more than I could deliver. I learned that to build a long-lasting mutually profitable relationship I had to learn how to manage expectation, how to offer a promise for those things I could deliver and how to say no when I knew I could not deliver.

Camerons Statement

…there is an “economic, moral and practical” case for lower taxes, is a very clever use of words, It plays on the aspirations of the electorate, it plays on greed and vulnerability. And while it does all this it promises nothing. It’s a “jam tomorrow” statement. If I took that statement to my sales manager he would kick me round the car park and tell me to come back when I had a real sale. By the way, a real sale is nothing untill the money is in the bank.

Cameron can make as many statements of aspiration as he likes, in reality none are going to be actioned before a general election and when the election is compleat, even if he does win, he will only have to say the landscape has changed and he can bin all his promises.

Remember, the tory party seek power to protect the wealth of the rich. The promises they make are only made to buy your vote as your vote brings them power and with power they can protect their wealth.

The Strange Story of Hoovers and the AK47

It has been a strange and disturbing few weeks in the world but between the lines there is a story sometimes amusing and at the same time disturbing. This is a story that highlights the extreme cultural differences between middle aged English Man and middle aged American Man.

140822dysonhoover_0Mild mannered, middle class, BMW and power washer owning suburban English man reacted badly to the following headline; EU ban on high-power vacuum cleaners comes into force, hitting five of the seven best-rated products.

The EU directive is tied up in the member countries commitment to clean up our environment and although the headline is shocking it hides the true message. Manufacturers have to design better, more efficient products. A bit like changes in the rules for Formula 1 cars mean they dont use massive petrol guzzling V8 engines. Natural evolution and great design has evolved the small, ultra high revving frugal but ultimately powerful engines that carry the cars round the tracks of the world at amazing speed. Vacuum cleaners need to go the same way. This change in the law will force manufacturers to make fester, leaner and more efficient cleaners.

Unashamedly riotous and provocative headlines prompted a veritable rush on the shops to buy the last remaining stocks of high powered vacuum cleaners, rumor has it that the 2,200 watt Miele s8330 is selling for more on ebay now than you could buy them in the shops a month ago, I should have stocked up!

140718104131-kalashnikov-620xaWhile this story played out in England the middle aged American man was suffering an equally terrible, but much more disturbing loss as UN sanctions placed on Russia began to bite. Intended or not by Obama and his administration the ban on imports of some Russian goods came to a head when Americans realized their beloved AK47 assault rifle was made in Russia and was now a victim of the war in Ukraine. It was announced that there will be no more imports of Russian made arms to America [the hypocrisy of this will become apparent soon] and so a rush began on the gun shops of every American town as the last of these iconic machine guns was snapped up.

And now for the hypocrisy. While America has used sanctions to ban the import of Russian made weapons the Europeans have continued to supply Russia with weapons ranging from hand guns to war ships.

On the 23rd July, just a month ago, the Guardian reported “UK arms export licenses for Russia still in place despite claims of embargo”

More than 200 licences to sell British weapons to Russia, including missile-launching equipment, are still in place despite David Cameron’s claim in the Commons on Monday that the government had imposed an absolute arms embargo against the country, according to a report by a cross-party group of MPs released on Wednesday.

A large number of British weapons and military components which the MPs say are still approved for Russia are contained in a hard-hitting report by four Commons committees scrutinising arms export controls.

Existing arms export licences for Russia cover equipment for launching and controlling missiles, components for military helicopters and surface-launched rockets, small arms ammunition, sniper rifles, body armour, and military communications equipment, the committee says. They also include licences for night sights for weapons, components for operating military aircraft in confined spaces, and surface-to-surface missiles.

The French also have two battle ships on their way to Russia, the orders were not cancelled as that would make 1,000 French men and women unemployed.

Like I said, a strange and disturbing few weeks in the world.

Pedophiles And The Growth Of Isis

isis in iraq5Mr Cameron today constructed a sentence with references to both pedophiles and the growth of Isis and used it to justify the implementation of laws that are intended to replace an EU directives that was considered to infringe human rights. And he did it for your protection?

The European Court struck down an EU directive in April requiring phone and internet companies to retain communications data on the grounds that it infringed human rights.

On July 10th 2014 the government argued Emergency legislation was needed, because service providers were being threatened with legal action by campaigners if they did not start destroying data [in compliance with the European Court ruling] , some of which could prove vital to criminal investigations and court cases according to the government.

Accordingly Mr Cameron said: “We face real and credible threats to our security from serious and organised crime, from the activity of pedophiles, from the collapse of Syria, the growth of Isis in Iraq and al Shabab in East Africa.

“I am simply not prepared to be a prime minister who has to address the people after a terrorist incident and explain that I could have done more to prevent it.”

He added: “I want to be very clear that we are not introducing new powers or capabilities – that is not for this Parliament.

“This is about restoring two vital measures ensuring that our law enforcement and intelligence agencies maintain the right tools to keep us all safe.” [The very ones the European Court struck down in April]

In return for agreeing to back the legislation, Labour and the Lib Dems highlighted new moves to “increase transparency and oversight”, including:

  • The creation of a new Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board to scrutinise the impact of the law on privacy and civil liberties
  • Annual government transparency reports on how these powers are used
  • The appointment of a senior former diplomat to lead discussions with the US government and internet firms to establish a new international agreement for sharing data between legal jurisdictions
  • A restriction on the number of public bodies, including Royal Mail, able to ask for communications data under the controversial Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA)
  • Termination clause ensuring these powers expire at the end of 2016
  • A wider review of the powers needed by government during the next parliament

Mr Cameron stressed that the data being retained does not include the content of messages and phone calls – just when and who the companies’ customers called, texted and emailed.

But the emergency Data Retention and Investigation Powers Bill would also “clarify” the law on bugging of suspects’ phones by the police and security services, when the home secretary issues a warrant, after concerns service providers were turning down requests.

“Some companies are already saying they can no longer work with us unless UK law is clarified immediately,” said Mr Cameron.

“Sometimes in the dangerous world in which we live we need our security services to listen to someone’s phone and read their emails to identify and disrupt a terrorist plot.”

Well hang on Mr Cameron, did not you just stress that the data being retained does not include the content of messages and phone calls – just when and who the companies’ customers called, texted and emailed? Which is it Mr Cameron?

Council Elections 2014, Nigel Farage and all that.

local-european-elections-votingUKIP leader Nigel Farage has said his party will be “serious players” at the 2015 general election, in with a chance of securing representation in the House of Commons for the first time.

If that is not a big enough wake up call to the 64% of the voting age British population who did not vote yesterday I dont know what is. I would have to assume if we reach the next general election and two thirds of the population decide not to vote then we know one of two things, either they are happy with whatever the minority decide or they simply dont care.

I presume this 35 million or so people think their vote is not going to change anything but with the rise of UKIP there is a real chance the country will change, for the worse, if we do not get voting.

To be fair, at general elections the voting age population turnout is usually in the high 60%’s but even then that leaves 15 million people who chose not to vote.

The result of an additional 15 million people voting will depend on what propaganda they have been exposed to and what they want out of their vote but I am going to assume that those 15 million people will need something significant to stir them from their comfortable apathy and perhaps the threat of a world ruled by Nigel Farage will be enough.

Watching the results coming in it is interesting to note the alliance has lost seats while every one else has made gains, nothing of any surprise in that but why have UKIP acquired some of those seats?

Simply they have played on the anti EU vote belonging to many of the older voters, mainly people who were born around WWII, who grew up in the years before we entered the EU and who for some reason I can not understand, and they can not explain to me, resent being part of Europe.

I have asked; over the last few years I have asked many people who have expressed an opinion on the EU why they are against it. In general the answers fall clearly on their perceived problems of open borders, financial or work based immigration and “foreigners”.

I note that most UKIP voters also have a bumper sticker declaring their wish to retain the Pound and that they have a fear of any young people or non white people.

I feel sorry for them for although they might gain small victories they are fighting a loosing battle. As they get older their numbers will diminish and their influence will boil away to nothing.

Should We Be Arming Russia?

If financial sanctions against a few dozen individuals don’t prevent Russia from invading Europe the officials meeting in Brussels today to discuss sanctions may be advised to consider the content of this interview;

[The following clipped from here]

445BDF31-9F60-4F67-A0BD-76245FC059B2_mw1024_n_sDefense analyst Tomas Jermalavicius, writing recently in the ” EU Observer,” called on EU states to halt arms sales to Moscow if they are serious about punishing Russia over its intervention in Crimea.

RFE/RL’s Farangis Najibullah asked Jermalavicius — a research fellow at the International Center for Defense Studies, a Tallinn-based think tank — if it’s realistic to expect EU countries to give up weapons deals he estimates are worth billions of dollars.

RFE/RL: What kind of military equipment and military technologies are EU countries currently selling to Russia?

Jermalavicius: The obvious thing is they’re not selling something which adds to firepower of Russian armed forces. But there are technologies, which you may call “enablers” — enablers in projecting military power, enablers in terms of increasing the maneuverability, and improving command and control of the armed forces.

An example is the Mistral amphibious assault ship that France is building for the Russian Navy. Two are currently being built, and [there are] two other options, which might be built in Russia later on. Examples also include a German brigade-level staff [training] simulation system, which allows the brigade-level staff to train themselves in command-and-control procedures, which also enhances greatly the military capability of a military unit. So, in that sense there are many projects ongoing, which allowed the Russian armed forces to modernize itself [militarily] and increase its capability.

RFE/RL: Why do you suggest that any EU arms deals with Russia should be suspended as part of a sanctions regime against Moscow over the Crimea crisis?

Jermalavicius: The key point here is that as we see now Russia is using its military force for purposes which violate international law, which create regional instability and conflicts around the perimeter of the Russian Federation. And in that regard we shouldn’t do anything which [can] enhance the military strength and power of the Russian Federation.

Defense analyst Tomas JermalaviciusDefense analyst Tomas Jermalavicius

A simple point, and I understand that in earlier times Europeans viewed Russia as a partner, but I think we should stop seeing Russia as a partner. NATO and the EU should stop seeing [Russia] as a partner in military affairs and security affairs. It’s a country which is a troublemaker, and troublemakers should not be rewarded with military contracts.

We don’t sell arms and military equipment to China. The EU has an arms-trade embargo [to China], and there were discussions about lifting it, and I’m not sure where they stand now. But China — compared to Russia — has not invaded a neighboring country. It has not seized parts of the territories of neighboring countries, but still we do not sell to China any military equipment because we see it as a potential geopolitical rival not only to ourselves but also to the United States — our key ally in the trans-Atlantic alliance. But we sell to Russia, which is completely illogical.

RFE/RL: How realistic is to expect EU countries that have arms deals with Russia to give up lucrative contracts that boost their economies and allow them to keep their defense industries afloat?

Jermalavicius: I have serious doubts not only about the military exports and military relationships but also the trade relationships. I mean, there are many business circles who have invested in Russia, or have businesses in Russia or trade with Russia, and the question of…financial sanctions, targeted trade sanctions, might be very difficult to push through, [and] I’m not even talking about the military ones.

There are encouraging signs and signals. [French] President [Francoise] Hollande has recently mentioned that a third round of sanctions, if it comes to that, [involving] military cooperation would be on the table. And we might see a suspension, at least, or those [military] contracts being put on hold for a while.

But I’m not very optimistic. Seeing where things are, and where they are heading — the defense industry in Europe, which is quite fragmented needs contracts, needs money, needs cash, and the European customers cannot provide that because of declining defense budgets. They are looking for customers outside Europe and Russia, apparently, has been quite a good customer to them.

RFE/RL: If they indeed suspend arms transfers to Russia, to what extent would it restrict Russia’s military capabilities?

Jermalavicius: Russians have set out to modernize their armed forces, and they have a very ambitious program which is quite costly. And in certain regards, of course, as we can see the economic situation of the Russian Federation is not the best. Its federal budget will be running a higher and higher deficit, especially if oil prices decline. In that sense the whole modernization program will be put in question.

However, we have to [realize] that with the transfer of arms and technology, and cooperation in the military and technical spheres, we not only enhance their military capability, we also transfer the know-how, or knowledge — an example being the Mistral ships. If those are built in Russia, that would be a boost to the Russian shipbuilding industry, which has lost its competence in managing such complex, large projects, and in that regard, if that knowledge transfer doesn’t take place, that would certainly slow down the modernization program in the Russian armed forces.”

RFE/RL: What message would you hope to send by halting arms sales?

Jermalavicius: If we impose sanctions, whatever the impact is — minor or not minor — I think that morally it’s wrong to participate in improving the military of a country which is behaving the way it is. Both domestically in terms of repression of human rights — which is going on now and increasing — and now externally, in foreign policy. It’s morally just not right and probably also strategically very short-sighted.

The Crimea Referendum or; How To March Across Europe

UKRAINE-RUSSIA-POLITICS-UNREST-CRIMEA-TROOPSAs I write this the Crimea Referendum is taking place 1,460 miles to the east of me. A vote proposed at gun point only ten days ago.

I am speechless at the lack of decisive action taken by the UN, Europe or the US. The Ukraine have been left to fend for themselves while the powers who were supposed to protect their sovereignty have done nothing except make woolly threats.

While those that could help have done nothing Russia has continued its occupation of Crimea, Ukrainians have continued to die and the world has been distracted by the missing Malaysian 777 flight MH370.

I have one laptop permanently open on the news tickers looking for new reports coming out of Ukraine, Crimea or Russia but there is noting. I was planning on writing about how the referendum was just a distraction while Russia massed it troops but if it was they didn’t need it. No one is paying any attention. The ostrich politics practised here is something I thought only the UK government played but when it comes to the troubles in Ukraine it seems the whole world is just hoping if they ignore it , it might go away.

The problem is, it wont go away. Ignoring the problem or talking sanctions will simply have all parties involve retreating into ‘cold war’ politics while in Ukraine they will have real war with guns, bullets, bombs, tanks and many, many dead.

Real war and death. Just days ago I speculated that should the UN do nothing to prevent it Russia would continue to march across Ukraine as soon as they felt Crimea was secure, it is perfectly logical.

“How to march across Europe”

  1. Occupy a soft, friendly target [Crimea] to test the resolve of the enemy.
  2. Occupy the surrounding ‘buffer’ countries [Ukraine] to protect your new citizens.
  3. If stage 1 and 2 were completed with little or no resistance then continue across Europe.

As I write this stage one is complete and stage two has begun.

Cameron’s speech on March 12th

This is the full transcript of UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s speech on March 12th, 2014, to Israel’s parliament, the Knesset.

“Shalom le-coolam [Hello everyone]

“Mr President, Prime Minister, Mr Speaker, Members of the Knesset, ladies and gentlemen. It is a great honour to address this historic Parliament – for sixty-five years the heart of the State of Israel and a beacon of democracy to the region – and to the world.

“When I was last here in Jerusalem, I came as Leader of the Opposition and I remember being quite bemused as I sat listening to Israeli politicians telling me all about the challenges of coalition politics. They told me about building a coalition, keeping it together, balancing the demands of different parties, sorting out the disputes and I just didn’t understand this strange system of government. But after nearly four years as Prime Minister of my own coalition all I can say is: ach-shav ani mevin [now I get it].

“What I have always understood is the extraordinary journey of the Jewish people. Thousands of years of history in this holy land. Thousands of years of persecution. And even today, some people despicably questioning your right to exist. My Jewish ancestry is relatively limited but I do feel just some sense of connection. From the lexicon of my great, great grandfather Emile Levita, a Jewish man who came from Germany to Britain 150 years ago to the story of my forefather Elijah Levita who wrote what is thought to have been the first ever Yiddish novel.

“But more importantly I have learnt to understand something of Jewish values and character and I have grown to appreciate the extraordinary contribution of the Jewish people to my country and to the world. That sense of understanding has shaped my determination to remember the past, my commitment to Israel in the present and my hopes for Israel’s future.

“And I would like to say something about each of these today.

“First, remembering the past.

“One of the most moving experiences I have had as Prime Minister came in January this year, when I held a reception in Downing Street for 50 Survivors of the Sho’ah. I met some of the most inspiring people and heard some of the most incredible stories.

“People like Harry Spiro who couldn’t understand why his mother pushed him out of her house and off to the factory, when she was actually saving his life.

“Gena Turgel, who witnessed her brother being shot by the Nazis and lost another brother and two sisters before she was eventually liberated from Bergen-Belsen and went on to marry the British soldier who freed her.

“And Ben Helfgott who endured three years in a ghetto, two labour camps and three concentration camps to make it to England where he was reunited with one of his sisters, the only other member of his family to survive. Ben went on to represent Britain as a weightlifter in two Olympics set up a society for Holocaust survivors and was honoured in Poland for his reconciliation work between Poles and Jews. And I am delighted that Ben has come with me here today.

“All of the survivors have made such an incredible contribution to Britain.

“And one of the things so many of them have done – and which never ceases to amaze me – is to go into our schools and share their testimony first hand.

“It is hard to imagine the sheer strength of humanity it must take to do that.

“To relive time and again the one thing that frankly many of us in their position would do almost anything just to try and somehow forget.

“But they do it because they share an urgent sense of mission that their story must never be forgotten.

“I share that mission too.

“And I am determined that long after they are gone and long after we are all gone their memory will be as strong and vibrant as it is today.

“As a father, I will never forget last year visiting the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin with my children and for the first time trying to explain to them quite what had happened.

“I want every child in Britain to learn about the Holocaust and to understand just how vital it is to fight discrimination and prejudice in our world.

“It is vital that we do all we can with our international partners to preserve the site at Auschwitz, which I will be visiting later this year.

“But we need to do more.

“That is why I have set up the Holocaust Commission in Britain. A number of the Commissioners are here with Ben and me today and as we visit Yad Vashem together later today, our pledge to Ben will be that Britain will never forget what he and his fellow survivors have taught us.

“We will preserve the memory of that generation for every generation to come.

“But remembering the past goes far beyond that horrific suffering of a generation.

“It is about remembering the long and rightful search of a people for a nation. And the right for the Jewish people to live a peaceful and prosperous life in Israel.

“From the early pioneers, the men and women of the Palestine Exploration Fund, who saw the Jewish history in this land and the possibilities for the future to the Balfour Declaration – the moment when the State of Israel went from a dream to a plan Britain has played a proud and vital role in helping to secure Israel as a homeland for the Jewish people.

“And just as important as the history, is the partnership we are building between our countries today.

“That begins with our commitment to Israel’s security. On my last visit here I took a helicopter ride heading north over Israel.

“Looking right to the Jordan River and left to the Mediterranean Sea, I really appreciated for the first time just how narrow and vulnerable this land is.

“A vulnerability that has already seen 38 missiles from Gaza this year alone.

“A vulnerability that just this week has seen the interception of the Klos C ship – yet another despicable attempt by the Iranians to smuggle more long-range rockets into Gaza. A vulnerability that has too often seen nearby Palestinian schools being named in honour of suicide bombers.

“It gave me a renewed understanding of what it must be like to be afraid in your own home.

“So let me say to you very clearly: with me, you have a British Prime Minister whose belief in Israel is unbreakable and whose commitment to Israel’s security will always be rock solid.

“I understand the concern of Israelis who have seen land that Israel has pulled out of, becoming a base for terrorist attacks. And I will always stand up for the right of Israel to defend its citizens. A right enshrined in international law, in natural justice and fundamental morality, and in decades of common endeavour between Israel and her allies.

“When I was in Opposition I spoke out when – because of the law on universal jurisdiction – senior Israelis could not safely come to my country, without fear of ideologically motivated court cases and legal stunts. When I became Prime Minister I legislated to change it.

“My country is open to you. And you are welcome to visit anytime.

“When I saw the threat that Hezbollah represented to Israel and beyond I forged a Europe-wide consensus to proscribe its military wing, a key step in the fight against this enemy on your borders.

“I have led the fight against anti-Semitism and extremism in Britain.

“We’ve removed over 26 thousand pieces of illegal terrorist content from the internet worked with the police and with universities to stop extremists spreading their divisive messages on our university campuses and we’ve excluded more foreign preachers of hate on the basis of our strategy for preventing extremism than ever before.

“We said no to Zakir Naik. We said no to Yusuf Qaradawi. And we said no to Dieudonne M’bala M’bala whose abhorrent displays of anti-Semitism have no place in a tolerant and inclusive Britain.

“I’ve stood up to protect Jewish practices too. The Jewish community has been an absolute exemplar in integrating into British life in every way but integration doesn’t mean that you have to give up things that you hold very dear in your religion.

“When people challenged kosher Shechita. I have defended it. I fought as a back-bench Member of Parliament against the last attempt to do something to change this. And there’s no way I’m allowing that to change now I’m Prime Minister. On my watch Shechita is safe in the UK.

“I am proud to be pursuing the strongest and deepest possible relationship between our two countries.

“From our trade – which has doubled in a decade and is now worth £5 billion a year to the world leading partnerships between our scientists, academics and hi-tech specialists.

“Britain and Israel share a commitment to driving the growth of high-tech start-ups. In Britain we’ve introduced huge tax breaks on early stage investment and special visas for entrepreneurs and in just three and a half years we have grown our Tech City in East London from 200 digital companies more than 1300 today.

“Israel is the start-up nation – with the second highest density of start-ups outside of Silicon Valley anywhere in the world. As the inspirational President Peres has put it: Israel has gone from oranges to Apple. There are now more than 60 multinational companies with research and development facilities in Israel.

“Israel’s technology is protecting British and NATO troops in Afghanistan. It is providing Britain’s National Health Service with one in six of its prescription medicines through Teva and it has produced the world’s first commercially available upright walking technology which enabled a British paraplegic woman to walk the 2012 London Marathon. And together British and Israeli technical expertise can achieve so much more.

“From our scientists working on stem cell cures for some of the worst diseases on the planet to our hi-tech specialists who are making a reality of the UK/Israel Tech Hub – the first of its kind in the world I hope this visit can lay the foundation for even more collaboration and even more business between our countries.

“And to those who do not share my ambition who want to boycott Israel I have a clear message. Britain opposes boycotts. Whether it’s trade unions campaigning for the exclusion of Israelis or universities trying to stifle academic exchange Israel’s place as a homeland for the Jewish people will never rest on hollow resolutions passed by amateur politicians.

“It is founded in the spirit and strength of your people. It is founded in international law. It is founded in the resolve of all of your allies to protect an international system that was forged in our darkest days, to put right historic wrongs. It is founded in the achievements of your economy and your democracy – a country pledged to be fair and equal to all its citizens whether Jewish, Muslim, Christian Arab or Druze.

“It is your destiny. Delegitimising the State of Israel is wrong.It’s abhorrent.

“And together we will defeat it.

“Let me turn to my hope for Israel’s future. We all yearn for a lasting and secure peace between Israel and its neighbours.

“Britain fully supports the great work that American Secretary of State John Kerry has been leading. And we believe that in Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas you have leaders who want peace too.

“We back the compromises needed – including the halt to settlement activity and an end to Palestinian incitement too.

“And we recognise the difficult and courageous decisions both sides are taking not least with Prime Minister Nethanyahu’s decision to release terrorist prisoners, with all the anguish that can bring for affected families.

“But people come to this Parliament from all over the world and talk about maps and population numbers and processes and deadlines. They tell you how to run your peace process. I will not do that. You know I want peace and a two state solution.
You don’t need lectures from me about how to get there.

“What I want to say is something different. What I want to say is this:

“Imagine what this land would be like if a two state solution was actually achieved.

“Think of all the aspects of life that would change.

“Israel’s relationships with the world. Its security its long-term prosperity and the quality of life for all its people.

“On Israel’s relationships, imagine, as John Kerry put it: “mutual recognition of the nation state of the Palestinian people and the nation state of the Jewish people”

“Let’s be clear what that means.

“An end to the outrageous lectures on human rights that Israel receives at the United Nations from the likes of Iran and North Korea.

“An end to the ridiculous situation where last year the United Nations General Assembly passed three times as many resolutions on Israel as on Syria, Iran and North Korea put

“No more excuses for the 32 countries in the United Nations who refuse to recognise Israel.

“And for the Arab League, how many of those States today yearn for a different relationship with Israel – which the peace agreement would enable them to deliver?

“Think of the capitals in the Arab world where Israelis could travel, do business, and build a future.

“Imagine Israel – like any other democratic nation – finally treated fairly and normally by all.

“On security, imagine a peace deal that would leave Israel more secure, not less secure.

“Not a temporary deal, broken by Hamas firing rockets at you or Iranian proxies smuggling weapons through the Jordan Valley.

“But a proper lasting peace that allows a strong moderate Palestinian government to end the fears of a failed state on Israel’s border.

“A deal that means an end of all claims – and an end of all conflict.

“Israelis and Palestinians no longer each other’s enemy, but actually working together to maintain security against those who would seek to harm us all.

“On prosperity, the possibilities of peace are extraordinary.

“This is a region where demographics are demanding 40 million jobs in the next decade, to keep pace with the rising expectations of young people.

“A region where the thirst for higher education today will need to be met with the jobs of tomorrow.

“So imagine the engine of Israel’s economy fully unleashed to work in the region – and to meet the needs that are common to all.

“How to make the best use of land and technology to feed a rising population?

“How to harness water resources so precious to all?

“Imagine Israel’s technology working hand in glove with those making strides with renewables – securing the future needs of their peoples for a time when their economies can no longer rely on carbon.

“Imagine the agreements ready to be signed off with every major trading bloc in the world.

“Committees deliberating not on what products to stop from Israel – but on what products they can bring in.

“Imagine too how this new future would feel.

“Because this isn’t just about security and prosperity – as important as those are.

“This is about justice for two peoples.

“Dignity for the Jewish people and yes, dignity for the Palestinian people too.

“Generations of Jewish and Palestinian children for once growing up in hope not fear.

“Israel is a nation where around every corner there is a memorial and a reminder of those who fought to create a modern Israel from the human tragedies of the past.

“But those sacrifices were not just to build a State that was physically secure.

“They were to build a state that would fulfil its rightful moral position in a region where security, dignity and mutual respect would be the new watchwords.

“For Israelis, a life free from the everyday fear of terror.

“For the Palestinians, finally, the chance to live autonomously in a state of their own.

“Imagine if you could look your children and grandchildren in the eye and know that your hope could become their reality.

“These are the dividends of peace that I long for in Israel.

“And I will do everything I can do help bring them about.

“At the same time, we must be constantly vigiland about the wiuder challenges in the region.

“These are challenges we all face.

“The threat of a nuclear-armed Iran and perhaps the greatest challenge of all, the poisonous ideology of Islamist extremism.

“And to people who try to say that Israel is the cause of these problems. I say that fundamentally misunderstands what these problems are about.

“Take Iran. Israel is not the cause of the shadow that Iran casts over the world. There is no rule that says if Israel and the Palestinians make peace, Iran is somehow going to dismantle its despotic regime or abandon its nuclear intentions.

“That can only be done through sustained international pressure. I share your deep scepticism and great concern about Iran. I am not starry eyed about the new regime. A nuclear armed Iran is a threat to the whole world – not just to Israel and with Israel and all our allies, Britain will ensure that is never allowed to happen.

“Similarly, while of course, extremism feeds on conflict in the Middle East and elsewhere Israel is not the cause of the poisonous ideology that fuels terrorism across the region and across the world.

“We must be clear what we mean by this term – the poisonous ideology of Islamist extremism – and distinguish it from Islam. Islam is a religion observed peacefully and devoutly by over a billion people.

“Islamist extremism is a warped and barbaric ideology that ties to set our societies against each other by radicalising young Muslims all across the world.

“At its furthest end are those who back terrorism to promote their ultimate goal: an entire Islamist realm. Governed by an interpretation of Sharia.

“Move along the spectrum and you find people who may reject violence, but who accept various parts of the extremist world view, including real hostility towards Israel and the West, towards our democracy and liberal values.

“They provide succour fort the men and women of violence – and we must confront and challenge them too.

“That is what Britain’s approach to anti-extremism is all about.

“No country knows more about the threat of terror justified by this grim Islamist mind-set than you do here in Israel.

“But we too have paid our own prices on the streets of London, elsewhere in the country and around the world.

“So we share your resolve top overcome this evil. And I believe that like our closest allies, Britain and Israel have the history, the values, capability and – yes – the historic responsibility to take this on.

“We need a response that is tough, intelligent and patient.

“Tough – in that it demands a strong security response. Whether that’s military action to go after the terrorists, or international co-operation on intelligence and counter-terrorism.

“To make sure that the Taleban don’t take over Afghanistan. To support AMISOM against Al-Shabab in Somalia. To support the government in Libya to build new and effective security forces. To support the people of Mali, together with their neighbours and our French allies to prevent a new terrorist haven developing on our doorstep and yes, it requires a tough, strong security response to defeat the Al Qaeda linked extremists in Pakistan, in Syria, in Sinai – and wherever else they are found.

“But second, alongside a tough security response must be an intelligent political response. We know that Al Qaeda franchises thrive where there is political instability and weak or dysfunctional political institutions.

“So we must match a strong security response with a political approach that addresses these issues.

“That means supporting the building blocks of democracy – the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary, the rights of minorities, free media and association and a proper place in society for the army.

“I’m a Conservative. I don’t believe in dropping these things from a great height. Every country must make its own way. But we should never forget those values that are at the heart of our own progress.

“And that means supporting the evolution of effective and accountable government and backing people in their search for a job and a voice.

“Third, we must be patient and resolute. We are in the middle of a generational struggle against a poisonous ideology which is an extreme distortion of the Islamic faith – and which holds that terror and mass murder are not only acceptable but necessary.

“I am convinced we will be fighting Islamic extremism for the rest of my political lifetime.

“We must tackle this poisonous thinking at home and abroad and resist the ideologues’ attempts to divide the world into a clash of civilisations.

“The underlying conflicts and grievances that are exploited by terrorists are in many cases long-standing and deep.

“And the building blocks of democracy, which are a big part of the solution, take time to put in place.

“But this tough, intelligent and patient approach is the best way to defeat terrorism and ensure our own security.

“And we must – and will – pursue it with an iron resolve.

“Later this week you will celebrate Purim.

“You will recall the time when the Jewish people were under threat of extermination in ancient Persia.

“And you will experience a day of joy in memory of the way the Jewish people were saved and freedom was delivered.

“All of us here long for the day that the Jewish people can be free and safe in their homeland.

“I know the challenges in getting there are great. But far greater is the friendship I bring from Britain – and the strength of our collective resolve.

“So as I stand here with you and look to the future, my message to you today is simply this: we’ll be with you every step of the way.

“Anachnu Beyachad [We are with you].”

What Russian Troops?

The strength of denial. Lt Gen. Michael Flynn said today the US knew the Russians were preparing to ‘occupy’ the Crimea at least a week before they made their first move. A week after they did what the US knew they would do there are thousands of troops in the Crimea and yet the Russians deny they are theirs.

Now I am trying not to be cynical here but if I was Putin and I knew an armed force had invaded the country I kept my Navy in I would be doing something about it. The denial that the un-marked troops are Russian is just a ploy that enables the Russian negotiators and Putin to brush off any questions about them. They don’t have to answer the awkward questions about why they are there, what they intend doing or when.

Meanwhile all eyes are on Crimea, Russia is mustering the real invasion force and testing their systems a few miles to the east and calling it a routine exercise.

Now I am not privy to any secrets, no one has phoned me with a scoop. I just read the news [carefully] and report my feelings. Should someone call the UN and let them know or do you think they are aware of this? If they are aware of what is happening then I only have one question;

Is upholding the remit of the UN less important than the money that can be made [or lost] from a war in Crimea?


No win – win possible in Crimea

As the news streams in from multiple sources all over the Ukraine, Russia, the US, Britain, Europe I can not help but feel despair.

The Ukraine is a buffer country with significant strategic significance to the East and the West, clearly if it wasn’t they would not be taking any notice of what was going on, like they are ignoring Venezuela.

Vested interests, massive financial deals and energy infrastructure will bias the decisions of the few who can have influence over the events to come while the lives of the 88 who died in Kiev are forgotten.

I do not expect to see war break out, I do not expect many more people will die in this upheaval. I do expect a political solution where the Russians set up a puppet government in Crimea and Europe and the Western allies pour financial support, UN peace keepers and a puppet government in to Ukraine.

I do expect it to paper over the problems for about five years, then all hell will break loose.