The noise is deafening, there's so much upset about the politics of the moment. David Cameron's attempts to reform Housing Benefit have, along with the hope of doing the right thing at the EU budget talks, formed a manic duet; and that's this week. Last week the big noise was the proposed Immigration Cap. Alas for the coalition all of these topics are rooted in EU related problems. This is so annoying as the EU was supposed to be a 'done and dusted subject'. It was supposed to go away and leave them to get on on with receiving the adulation of a grateful public happy with the outcomes of their constant efforts on the nation's behalf. These three things: Housing Benefit (HB), the EU budget (EUb) and the Immigration Cap (IC) are related and not just by their decibels and date.
The relationship is based on immigration, economics and welfare and 'fairness'. It will take a while for the heat generated by the HB proposals to turn into light. But even at this early stage common sense tells us that the present way of dealing with HB is unsustainable. Change had to come because we could not economically afford to continue with the current system. While common feeling suggests that when the spotlight falls on the high level levels of immigration into our cities, especially London, this too is not sustainable.
What to make of Angela Merkel and her comments on modern Germany? See the response from the Guardian and the Telegraph. This is a rather complicated situation with several powerful ingredients. There is Merkel herself, the symbol of a united Germany. The multiculturalism of which she was speaking can be seen as either a race or religion based concept, or perhaps both. Then there is the economic aspect behind her comments, modern Germany, the EU and the collapse of world markets that are giving Germany the jitters. In other words it's something for everyone, something to latch onto or to reject. Always a darling of the liberal/left Merkel will have upset many of her fans. Much as the liberal/left have created Obamamania, they have drooled over Merkel. Born behind the Iron Curtain and now the leader of the largest country in the EU. Thus assumed to be the de facto champion of the EU and a woman.
Can you remember the Celtic tiger? This now extinct animal once roamed the financial world unchallenged by any predator. So what happened, what did it eat and why did it die? Well first a quick look backwards. The romantics would have you believe that Ireland has always lived under the yoke of the British. And if you are looking for a nation of romantics then look no further than the Irish. Also, if hyperbole could be exported then the whole Irish population would be fabulously wealthy. Put the two together and you get the foundation of the ongoing theme 'Brits bad, Irish good'. Using this as a platform, umpteen novels and plays have been written and, ironically, some have made the authors rich.
We could call this the proximity theory - as for example Russian and Finland, yes the latter has a right to complain but in the case of the UK and Ireland it is, I think you will agree, a bit different. Here it's a mixed bag, advantages and disadvantages. Has there been a tradition of Finns going to work in Russia? I think not. Likewise did the rouble ever support the markka? Whoops! Showing off again! The markka predates the euro in Finland. The fact is, life was hard in post WW2 Ireland but then so it was in most of Europe and for roughly the same reasons.
It's been wall-to-wall Clegg, as for the LibDems, their time has come. But Nick Clegg and his party should be careful. Not so long ago Peter Mandelson dominated the media. In this case the exposure for Mandy did not always benefit Labour, as a result many in the Labour Party became resentful. He never did anything for the greater good and the party faithful knew it.Tony Blair may have insisted that his party "learn to love" Mandy, but to no avail and now they are both loathed by the party faithful and country alike. It's the LibDem conference in Liverpool but this explains only some of the publicity for Clegg. For the man and his party are being given the long hard look; are there problems ahead? Probably yes.
Does our PM need help and advice with his PR? It is a well know fact that before leading this nation to the sunny uplands David Cameron worked in public relations. Mind you that was a long time ago, has he lost his touch? The question arises as the PM and his deputy have jointly written to the cabinet before it goes off on its summer break - "Dear colleague".... it starts. It's the letter a boss sends to his 'team', designed to both thank and buck-them-up. There's plenty to rake over but one line sticks out -
Our government’s purpose is to make two major shifts in our political and national life: The first is a radical redistribution of power from government to communities and people, to reverse decades of over-centralisation.