Archive | May, 2005

The referendum

31 May

And so France rejected the constitution, and the Dutch are but days away from firing another salvo into the European Dream. So much for taking their chances?

How soon we forget the past. The EU rose from the ashes of World War II, a dream of a future where Europeans no longer spilled each others blood over petty squabbles.

Those squabbles unlike the EU constitution are alive and well. Squabbles over jobs should not be taken lightly, but the threat to French, British, and Dutch jobs are not migrants from Lithuania or even Turkey but from outsourcing to Thailand, Malaysia, and India. Europe is un-competitive and other increasingly market friendly regions are benefiting.

Much like the Britain of the seventies Europe has become bogged down with a unionised social structure unfit for today’s global, boarderless, evolving world. Too expensive to compete and too militant to change.

I would never lionise Thatcher who crushed as many jobs as she created, but the benefits of liberalising the markets are still being felt by Gordon Brown. Much like Thatcher’s time; the current economic bubble in the UK is financed by an unsustainable boom in house prices, however Britain is still far better placed for the new global economy than Europe en masse. The argument that the constitution would implement anglo-saxon market reforms by the backdoor should be lauded not criticised.

The global economy is a fierce uncompromising environment where cultures, histories, and national agendas are immaterial. Europe needs to deconstruct the social albatross it has saddled itself with, ready to exploit its rich diversity and tariff free national boundaries.

Europe is devoid of many of the primary resources that manufacturing hungrily consumes, so Europe needs to provide added value to products, and exploit the worlds growing hunger for technology and design. A knowledge based economy can thrive within Europe but we must work towards making this happen. Starting with a world leading educational standard that puts European students in a prime position within the global workforce.

Many on the right will argue against the further integration. They will argue that Europe offers little and wants to to control and exploit Britain. However the French non has given Britain the chance to take charge of the European Project. With France and the Netherlands slamming the brakes on reform and Germany in economic turmoil; Britain emboldened with the EU presidency can take the wheel and direct the immediate future of Europe.

Britain needs a strong integrated Europe if it is to consolidate its privileged global standing. There is no place for a country with limited resources and a deluded view of its own superiority. Our empire is the past and now we have the opportunity to be at one with a new union, a union for a new age.

All great civilisations have one defining characteristic, their ultimate demise. Those who argue that emerging powers do not threaten the United States’ grip on world power are delusional and bathe in their own sense of misguided immortality. China and India will challenge Americas dominance, and America will again rely on its alliances with the EU and Japan. We must provide an alternative structure to the exploitative labour markets of the globalised Asia. But we must realise that we have become too un-competitive, and we must sacrifice much of what we hold dear to ensure we have a workable future.

European standards of basic human rights and democratic freedoms are not shared by the emerging economies of Malaysia, Indonesia, India and China. We can only protect our standards by ensuring that they can be financed. We must protect ourselves, not through backward nationalistic protectionism, but through organic Dawinism. The fittest survive.

And so while Schroder and Chirac are resigned to history as the abject failures they most certainly are, we must look to a new anglo-saxon future of financial excellence and relaxed labour controls. A future where our taxes are spent on creating an environment where business flourishes, and enterprise is nursed not still-born.

I want to be an active part of this future do you?

“miracolo di Istanbul”

25 May

As crushing defeats go, this was way beyond anyone’s expectations. You have to feel a little for AC Milan as they crash out of the European Champions Cup final on penalties.

Few would argue that Milan has not looked every bit champions throughout the tournament (with the possible exception of the PSV tie), and with Shevchenko and Crespo up front they have probably the most fearsome attacking line-up.

AC Milan started the game as if they had an inherent right to walk away with the trophy. 3-0 up and cruising to victory the Italian outfit went in at halftime with one hand on the cup.

No one outside of the Liverpool team knows what Rafael Benitez said to his team but they emerged from the tunnel with the desire and belief that they could peg back this devastating first half result. And when Gerard – taking the game by the scruff of the neck – scored with an outstanding header, few would have predicted the continued resurgence. As Vladimir Smicer scored with a firm drive from outside of the box the thoughts of “maybe, just maybe” began to germinate in the minds of the Liverpool and Milan fans alike.

Italian sides, and Milan in particular, are supposed to be the experts at closing out games. Uncompromising defenders such as Nesta, Stam, and Maldini are seasoned man-markers capable of keeping the competitions best forwards quiet. However it was the dynamic Liverpool midfield that exposed the aging defence finding space to pick their shots. Baros and Cisse worked hard to hold up the ball allowing Gerard and Smicer to move into space.

Alonso’s penalty – initially saved by Dida – was poked in for the equaliser and Liverpool had achieved the incredible. The 35,000 Liverpool fans erupted.

Milan did look the better side for the remainder of the game creating real chances as Liverpool eased off the gas, concentrating on not falling behind. As the extra time came and went, this epic battle was to be decided by penalties.

From Serginho’s miss on the first penalty the tide was against the Italians, so often beaten in these pressurised conclusions. Dida an expert at penalties was unable to match Dudek’s exploits as the Pole carried the Red’s to the title.

Few will forget this great European night, when against all odds the underdog came through as victor. But there is a greater lesson to have learned from this tie, the excellent manner and spirit in which the game had been played and supported.

Decisions had been contested and argued and tackles had occasionally been hard and high, but the game never veered into hostility, even as Liverpool were in danger of being humiliated in this melting pot stadium.

This game represented a new Europe of inclusiveness, healthy competition, and respect. Significantly played in Istanbul where Turkey is vying for EU entry, the players of all nationalities proved how Europe could be the focus of the world.

European leaders could learn by the never say die performance of Liverpool, as they look to turn around Europe’s poor economic performance. Difficult choices and great sacrifices will have to be made to turn around the expensive and inefficient European Union.

France will have to give up love affair with the CAP, Germany will have to reform and deal with the Eurozones unhelpful interest rates, and Britain will have to realise that it cannot continue to enjoy its isolated economic bliss at the expense of the early single-currency adopters. Only by working together and pooling our resources can Europe hope to compete with the Super-Economies of the US and East Asia. As Liverpool showed last night we should be resourceful, determined, and be prepared to take our chances.

United we stand, divided we fall.

http://www.gazzetta.it/Calcio/Squadra/Milan/primopiano/2005/maggio/26inglesi.sht

Liverpool….an example to Europe

25 May

The basis of my argument was the challenges that Europe has to face in the immediate future and beyond. The decisions the birthplace of democracy must make if it is to survive in the new world.

This is no longer a world of nations and boarders.

When Rumsfeld spoke of Old Europe he was right. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the development of societies such as India the world is changing. No longer can developed Western democracies rely on their sophistication to support their expensive social states, no longer can their citizens under perform.

Over the last two decades the world changed gear. And Europe? She stalled.

We have been excluded from the changes in the global economy, squandering our privileged position with internal squabbles and foolishly entertaining expensive dreams of a European Utopia, a Utopia of high productivity and social provisions.

The European project became sidelined; as the constituent countries of Europe were busy building their social infrastructure they allowed ethical concerns to stifle their productivity. As we saw with the Lisbon Strategy; Europe had to catch up, to catch up fast. But Europe is devoid of the one thing it needs, the one thing Liverpool had last night: Leadership.

Liverpool had indeed too become sidelined and uncompetitive. Enforced exile from the European stage had led to a divide between its performances and those of the continent’s best. Liverpool was un-fancied and weak going into the tournament, a has-been that was more of a joke than a threat.

Liverpool had to work hard to get to the final; it had to be uncompromising and rarely attractive. Liverpool played to its strengths and stifled its competitors, fighting on Liverpool’s terms. Rafa Benitez knew that the Milan game was all but lost, but he did not allow his players to admit defeat. They emerged resilient, determined, and energised.

AC Milan expected to comfortably see the game out, to coast to their next European Cup. Liverpool took Milan by surprise and asked questions to which they had no answers. Gerard’s belief and the attitude of players such as Jamie Carragher ensured that Liverpool had a chance, and they took their chances.

Europe is 3-0 down. Europe’s economies are being strangled by an inconsistent, myopic, and counter-productive leadership that bickers among itself while other economies – streamlined and lithe – race ahead. Europe is struggling to unite and decide on its direction, a continent obsessed with its glorious past, unable to face up to the difficult challenges ahead.

What Europe needs is the next generation of Leaders. Leaders ready to challenge the status quo, prepared to look abroad and reform at home. Leaders prepared to destroy in order to rebuild.

The constitution will go someway to unite Europe, and the economic mechanisms within the agreement will make the Union more competitive. The accord will go someway to give Europe a single united voice. Maybe then we will forget our cultural differences and complexities, and face up to the fact that social provisions have to be financed.

Maybe then Europe can compete a la Liverpool.

The BBC

23 May

This is the first post for Tygerland so I would expect the number of visitors to the site to be between 0 and me; however I refuse to be down beat as everyone has to start somewhere.

 

The BBC strike

Of course we should all support worker representation.  We should stand shoulder to shoulder with the downtrodden, we should provide hot soup from a flask, we should never and repeat never cross the picket line.

 

Of course the BBC continued broadcasting with a selection of re-runs and bulletins provided by a few scabby hacks.  However what if you actually agree that the BBC should trim the fat?  The BBC grew by 6,000 employees under Greg Dyke and now appears bloated and inefficient.  As the BBC exhales a huge sigh of relief following its renewed Royal Charter the government’s terms and conditions are beginning to show.  Mark Thompson of course is the fall guy, the new Director General, who yesterday stated that the strike was “a price worth paying” to facilitate the major reforms that make up his brief.

 

I agree.  Greater efficiency is needed within the BBC if it’s to have any future as a public corporation.  Commercial broadcasters such as Talk Sport have long criticised Auntie’s resources; remarking that while they employ 2-3 (presenter included) in a radio studio, the BBC employs 10-15.  Supporters of the BBC should welcome this reform that will take the bread from the table of its critics.  If the BBC can save £355m that could be reinvested in programming, us TV licence payers should rejoice.

 

Of course there will be 4,000 victims of the purges and for them we must spare a thought.  But there has never been a better time to be a journalist, as new media continues to spring up around the country.  Many outlets will snap up the skilled journalists and the technicians will find work in the ever-increasing sphere of digital TV.  Experience will count for everything for the redundant, and nowhere better to gain experience than the BBC.