Tuesday, 28 February 2017

European Outlook # 39 March 2017

The Housing Crisis

                                  Harold Macmillan

There was a time when it was possible to buy a house. Wages were in line with inflation, mortgages were reasonable and available, and house prices were relatively stable. None of those conditions apply today. The average house in London costs more than ten times the average annual salary. Mortgages are strictly rationed by banks that were hit by the last crash, and building is restrained by planning permission and a skilled labour shortage.
Social housing provided by housing associations and local authorities is in very short supply. The Tories started selling council houses under Margaret Thatcher in the hope of turning Britain into a property-owning democracy. This diminished the housing stock and the population boom has taken care of the remainder.
It’s still possible to buy or rent a house, or even to get a council house, if you are prepared to live in an area of high unemployment. But if you want to live in London, Manchester or any area where work is available you will be extremely fortunate to find a house.
Theresa May's government has issued a White Paper on housing  but the right wing hijackers of the Tory Party are ideologically opposed to state housing. They believe that the homeless deserve their fate, and they regard social housing as a form of Communism. 
Various schemes have been tried including fixed-interest mortgages, part ownership, and rent controls but the real answer to the problem is simply to build a lot more houses. Of course, this would drive down house prices which might not suit those house owners who like to boast about how much their property is worth.

We need to change the culture of ever increasing property values that has taken root.  Our children and grandchildren deserve roofs over their heads. They are not socially inadequate because they haven’t got half a million pounds to spend. And they would not be a burden on the state if they were paying affordable rents to registered landlords.

Immigration has certainly aggravated the situation but we must deal with the problem as it is instead of being negative about it. The people living in this country need to be housed. Some future government might do something about immigration but that doesn't help us now.

Harold Macmillan was a 'One Nation' Tory who was housing minister in Winston Churchill's post-war government. He built 240,000 houses in 1951-52, 301,000 houses in 1952-53, and 318,000 houses in 1953-54. In those grim days we were desperately short of money, men and materials but he still succeeded. It can be done and it must be done.

Voters' Intentions

The June 2016 referendum in the UK was supposed to be about our membership of the European Union but people voted for all sorts of reasons. One man said that he was sick of being dictated to by London - not Brussels but London. Many people voted to get rid of foreigners, and  a Yorkshireman said that he voted Leave to get the coal mines reopened.

American voters who elected Donald Trump were just as confused by a billionaire property developer who presents himself as a man of the people.

An angry man said that he was voting for the National Front. When he was told that there are no candidates in a referendum he said: "Then I will vote Labour."

One man told me before the referendum that he was voting Leave to get rid of the euro. I told him that we didn't use the euro but I don't think that he believed me.

Nearly everyone that I spoke to voted Leave to stop immigration but hardly any of them knew that half of our immigrants come from the Commonwealth. A West Indian woman told me that she had every right to be here because she was a subject of Queen Elizabeth and had worked in the National Health Service for twenty years. She was voting Leave because "The country is full up."

Literacy tests for voters were introduced in the Southern United States in the 1890s and abolished by the Voting Rights Act of 1965. They were considered to be unfair to the blacks but many poor whites were also disenfranchised.

White-ruled Rhodesia had voting rights based on property ownership that were designed to exclude Africans but they too discriminated against poor whites.

In Britain, where almost everybody can vote, UK Political Info gives the state of the parties is as follows:
Conservatives 42%
Labour 27%
Lib Dem 10%
Ukip 12%
Other 10%
Parliamentary democracy has been replaced by an elected Tory dictatorship.

Trooping the Colour - GL Nicol
Reprinted from The European, May 1958

We sailed on New Year's Day from Southampton. An elderly major-general in a British warm waved from the quayside. The band on deck played a patriotic medley. We were sailing, one entire battalion, to Port Sudan. With us were a few Sandhurst RASC officers, newly-commissioned and rather far down the pass-out list. Our battalion had come from Germany and we were very conscious of our 'scheme' fitness. Hell, Nigel the bar closes at eleven. It did. We could only stand with empty glasses and watch a girl  in a sailor's cap dance the old year out.

Khartoum. Anyway no more 'schemes.' You are going out there to show the flag, we have been told. Guard-mounting, cricket and garden parties. Nicely proconsular and plenty of girls. The CO realised that it would be 'cushy,' so we trained for any and every eventuality. Rifle exercises, unarmed combat, IA's on the Bren and concealment films. In the Bay of Biscay we saw strangely lyrical War Office films shot on Salisbury Plain. Kill or be killed. Tense faces and the traffic moving along a main road to London. By Gibraltar desert warfare seemed as far away. I saw a book, Imperial Policing, on the adjutant's deck-chair.

I shared a cabin with four others. It was very small and stuffy. My bunk was under the port-hole and the climb-up was particularly difficult in a heavy sea. Bill, Pat, Nigel; all good second-lieutenant names. Almost straight from school, we were very conscious of officer status, with monogrammed coat-hangers and snap-shots of 'nice' girls in our wallets. Our batmen would come in about six o'clock in the evening and polish brasses and boots, squatting on the floor. Sometimes we played cards with them, cigarettes dangling from the corners of our mouths, like professional gamblers. You rock ape, one of them always said, if I missed a trick.

The senior officers had wives and children, as well as luggage. For them it was very much a matter of servants, verandahs with sun-blinds and dinner parties. A country for them was measured entirely, by the condition of its service accommodation. Off duty we were on Christian name terms with some of the senior officers. Thirsty, Pat? What you having? In the bar most of the conversation was about Germany, or someone putting up a black, or a woman, or that hell of a good party when old Henry... Perhaps a major after his fifth whisky would talk about Sicily. Christ... Bloody good show... shit flying everywhere... sergeant what's his name of the MMGs, he'll remember. They had, and it made us respect them, been at the sharp end of things.

Off Malta we had a ship's dance. As far as women were concerned, we were fairly well placed. There was a party of school-teachers going out to Suez. They had north-country accents and wore nylon stockings with thick dark seams. They had been invited by the adjutant, but some preferred the sergeant's 'do.' It was rather heavy Palm Court, the atmosphere. The regimental band played selections from 'Oklahoma' and 'Bless the Bride.' Some of us danced, but most just drank and talked to the CO and his wife. One of the Sandhurst RASC sat playing sedate cards the whole evening with a pimply girl, her mother and two journalists. Later, according to hallowed tradition, the colonel called on the subalterns to perform. Like a group photograph we lined up in front of the scarred piano. We sang a number from an American musical with a loud chorus about 'dames.' One or two were missing on deck . Pat swore he was locked in a bathroom with an Irish girl who had brought her riding habit in her luggage. By about one most people were drunk. The senior officers drifted off to their nuptial bunks. I expect we played rugger among the broken glasses and paper.

Disgorged from the canal, we stopped training. The Red Sea was too hot for anything. The soldiers lay about on their decks in PT shorts. We gave short talks on the Anglo-Egyptian Condominium and the Gezira cotton scheme. Sketch in the background, just a few facts, we were told. In the evening we played deck tennis or quoits on the sun deck. The CO, adjutant and second in command in short white shorts sat sipping lime juice. The stared across the still sea at the jagged backbone of Arabia though tired eyes. It could have been India, again but no, Khartoum was to be a short posting. Those evenings had an almost tireless quality of English middle-class life. Scarcely a breeze; and their wives laid back in deck chairs, their arms limp and eyes closed.

My tour of duty as an orderly officer took me to the hold. Here most of the men slept in hammocks. The sergeant accompanying me wore a red sash and was confidently pleasant. There was a foul smell of stale sweat and heavy cacophonous breathing. The hold itself was almost dark. Suddenly a man swayed towards us. His hair was close cropped, like worn down bristles and his face was thin and tired. I stepped aside to let him pass. Two months later I was to see the same man in a guardroom cell. He was standing by his bed rigidly to attention in denim trousers and a red vest. In the camp bed all his kit was neatly arranged. He had gone absent for a day and was found in a native brothel, hiding in the cupboard. I was glad of the clean night air.

The night before docking at Port Sudan we entertained the ship's officers at a cocktail party. All the conversations were about Khartoum. Speculation nibbled among the cheese biscuits and olives. The soldiers, I suppose, were drinking warm NAAFI beer in their canteen. One or two belching quietly to themselves, and lonely. The five of us were invited by some junior engineer officers to their cabin. It was even smaller than our own, with sickly green walls and a huge revolving fan. Three bottles of whisky and a mountain of cigarette packets on a small table. We drank and sang. One of the engineers got very drunk. He stood up, a whisky in his hand and started on 'Scots wha hae.' He fell across the table scattering cigarettes. His face was pale green. Jolly good chaps, we said, pushing each other hard against the corridor walls.

Port Sudan was very hot. Kites hovered above the quayside. It took us the morning and most of the afternoon to unload. We had changed into khaki drill and strolled among the sweating unloading party and fingered our revolver holsters. Soon the train for Khartoum would pull in, milk-white and glinting in the evening sun. Take your platoons, we were ordered. Over there with the platoon book under his arm stood your sergeant. Across to him you marched, brown boots surfed with white dust. A sharp salute, and a final inspection. Fasten this strap. Haircut in Khartoum. Look to your front, man,

I could smell the sea. Perhaps three days to Khartoum. Lead on corporal, I said.

Breaking Windows

Some people have obsessive views; often about race. Groups like Black Lives Matter see everything from a black point of view, and some whites are just as bad.

The following story illustrates obsession. A mental patient was being examined by a panel of psychiatrists. They asked him what he would do if he was discharged. He replied that he would get hold of a catapult and break all the windows. A year later he was asked the same question and he gave the same answer. But at the third time of asking he said: "I would get a job, get an apartment, and look for a girlfriend. Then I would take her home, get the elastic out of her knickers, make a catapult and break all the windows. Naturally, they discharged him.

Nationalists see everything from a narrow viewpoint. Nigel Farage said that traffic jams are due to immigration. He has since moderated his statements but one suspects that he still wants to break all the windows.

Convinced nationalists rely on anecdotal evidence, emotional outbursts, and table thumping. One of them told me that the government statistical agency is controlled by the Jews. He said it was a well-known fact. 

Parliamentary democracy functions reasonably well in peacetime so long as different opinions are allowed. But since the referendum the winning 52% have turned nasty and the 48% who voted to remain in Europe are accused of flouting "the will of the people," be they parliamentarians, high court judges, or senior diplomats.

Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu (photo Wikipedia)

At the moment Nigel Farage enjoys popular support but he should remember that another populist, Nicolae Ceausescu, used to address adoring crowds from his balcony until they shot him and his wife on Christmas morning 1989. He endeared himself to the Romanian mob by demanding independence from the Soviet bloc but when their economy collapsed they turned on him.

Searching for Lord Haw Haw – reviewed for Amazon

Colin Holmes has produced another biography of William Joyce, Searching for Lord Haw Haw. I have also read Rebecca Wests 1948 book The Meaning of Treason, Francis Selwyn's 1987 account Hitler's Englishman, and Mary Kenny's splendid 2003 biography Germany Calling. To my mind the Mary Kenny biography is easily the best.
Professor Colin Holmes has written a well-researched and lavishly referenced book but his dislike of William Joyce is obvious. It's easy to dismiss Joyce as a traitor. He was found guilty of treason and sentenced to death but did a British court in 1945 arrive at the right verdict? He certainly assisted the Nazis and shared their views on plutocracy but he never hurt a British person by broadcasting from Germany.
He was born in the United States to Irish parents and was a naturalized German citizen. But he had held a British passport and on the strength of that he was executed. A traitor is someone who hates his country but William Joyce loved Britain. In 1937 he wrote the following prophetic words in National Socialism Now:
"For all of us British people there is a land for which we have played our part, great or humble in the drama of life, a land where  we have had our happy days as well as the sad. We generally forget the spring mornings, with the splendid sun sparkling on the dew in the green fields, the white lanes with their smiling hedges in summer, the rich tint of the leaves in the declining autumn afternoon, the first nip of winter, the English Christmas with our nearest and dearest, the mists on the fens, the gigantic bustle of our great cities, the fire-breathing giants of the night in the Black Country or by South Shields, the long snaky monsters that bring happiness, sorrow, hope or anxiety into Euston or King's Cross , the ocean battering away at the rocks of Devon, the Cockney with his Shoreditch barrow, making fun of every moment in his struggling little life, the broad Mersey restively bringing the challenge of the sea into the heart of Liverpool, the godly majesty of the Highlands, the serene power of the mountains of North Wales, even the rain blending so strangely with the romance of our early days, when as children we played in it - all these things are most often out of our minds, but if it ever happens to us to see the chalk cliffs receding for the last time as the water widens between us and our homeland then the memories will come in a choking flood, and we shall know our land when it is too late.
This is the land for which better than we have died. For it we are asked not to die but to live; it is ours, it belongs to us in every spiritual and sensuous way; it must be ours in every other way, completely and utterly ours, not for some but for all of us. Know this truth, feel it, live it, and the victory shall be ours.
Some there are who will call the sentiment cheap; but it has been again and again redeemed in the blood of heroes, whose spirit the cheap alone can never understand."

Ron Tear a Good and Loyal Patriot - John Bean

Ronald Tear RIP - 1 December 1929 - 4 February 2017

Ron and I were much the same age. He first committed himself to active support for the cause of Nationalism and patriotism in 1959. This was a year after my formation of the National Labour Party.

I was speaking at our open air meeting held every Sunday in Bethnal Green when Ron, who had been standing as a new spectator, offered to sell our paper Combat. A local NLP member  said 'He's over-keen. He might be a spy'. I just felt instinctively that Ron Tear was what he claimed to be and  signed him up as an NLP member. One reason why we had not seen him  before was that he only just left the British Army. This could have been why over the next 25 years he always followed my actions, without debate, in looking for the best methods for raising support for the Patriotic Right.

In 1960 the NLP amalgamated with Colin Jordan's White Defence League to form the British National Party. Ron Tear
supported this, as he did eighteen months later when a majority of members did not want to follow the British Nazi party objective that Jordan was now after.

Ron was one of the most active members of the BNP in the greater London area and again followed the decision in early 1967 to enter into the formation of the National Front - whose initial membership was predominantly BNP. He continued his high activity for another 15 years, which no doubt was a factor in the breakdown of his marriage. It was at the same time that I felt I needed a retirement from the political struggle, which was intended to be temporary.

IN 1999 I published my autobiography of my political life up to then, Many Shades of Black. There were some who thought that this meant I was about to re-enter the arena and challenge my old friend John Tyndall in running the BNP, which in effectiveness had taken over from the ever-splitting National Front. Ron Tear had acted on this rumour and came knocking on my door. 'John', he said, ' If you are aiming to take charge again then count me in.' I did not.

I hope I did not betray his loyalty and his mental and physical courage in achieving the small gains we did make in those years.

Nation Revisited
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