Alistair’s “Random Rambles” (52)

By Kathy Martin…

Written June 2015

Prince Harry, who is now something like 5th in line for the British throne, has said that he had an absolutely spiffing time during his fairly recent military duties in Afghanistan. As such he is now apparently advocating for the return of compulsory “National Service” in Britain.

Super, terrific, great!

However, something seem to have escaped the massive intellect of this gay (in the original sense of the word) young prince. He was a pampered and protected “Royal”, as such while he may have had to endure some, if not many, of the rigours of military life, he would never have been allowed (unlike other military personnel) to go anywhere without a screen of bodyguards. From memory, these bodyguards would have been (politically) more relevant or essential a couple of years ago when he would have been 3rd in line for the throne!

I believe that these bodyguards, whether military or “civilian” police would have cost the British taxpayers a lot of money!

Queen Elizabeth II of United Kingdom

I say this because; in my opinion “granny”, despite being one of the wealthiest women in the world with access to a vast unearned fortune would have dipped her hands into her purse, if Westminster and Whitehall were not prepared to provide the necessary funds!

Oops, I have strayed a bit, and you may have got the impression that I am not a royalist! However, to me, the entitlement for anyone to gain a position in a social or political environment purely by an accident of birth, rather than by ability, is an anathema.

OK, back to the original subject, Prince Harry probably doesn’t realise or appreciate the cost to the taxpayer of having a million or so youths being in the armed forces for a number of months.

Leaving aside, for the moment, the most glaringly obvious, pay, I want to look at other logistics. I presume, that there are tracts of land in the UK that still belong to the Ministry of Defence (MoD), but are there any with barracks or other accommodation that are fit for habitation? Or will such buildings have to be built from scratch, or, presumably at lesser expense, refurbished?

Continuing with logistics, are there sufficient clothing manufacturers in the UK to manufacture millions of uniforms (Dress, daywear and fatigues) for men and (presumably) women? It may, of course, be possible to manufacture or import firearms or Artillery pieces of various sizes, but are there any suitably qualified armourers to look after them?

The above lists/paragraphs are by no means exhaustive, but the BIG question remains, where does the money come from?

I say, Caruthers, I have a brilliant idea!

If we close all hospitals at the weekends, only open them 0900 – 1700 during the week with a half-day closure on Wednesday, we could almost do it!

OK, now to local, well island, news etc.

Regular readers, especially those who read my rambles in the now defunct “Kibkom Times” will know that I have long been sceptical of the likelihood or even the possibility of an acceptable settlement under the misconstrued belief that the Greek and Turkish Cypriots are basically similar peoples who actually WANT to live together at whatever cost!

President Nicos Anastasiades and President Mustafa Akıncı

Last week I was flabbergasted, amazed and astounded at the progress that had been made by “our” President Mustafa Akinci and the Greek Cypriot President, Nicos Anastasiades.

However my faith (or pessimism or realism) in human nature has been restored!

Nicolas Papadopoulos, leader of the Greek Cypriot Diko party, has said that he and his party will oppose any measures that would “downgrade” the Republic (South Cyprus) or “upgrade” the TRNC”!

As far as I can make out, Diko is the third largest party in the Greek Cypriot government and holds the balance of power between the two “main” parties.

I may be very obtuse or over-imaginative, but to me that is tantamount to a judge or magistrate telling an accused, before the start of the court proceedings, that he will be found guilty, irrespective of any evidence proving innocence!

In addition, there is the statement by the head of the Greek Cypriot negotiating team property delegation, Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis. She is reported to have said that the property issue will only be resolved with the return of every Greek Cypriot property. To me that doesn’t sound like a basis for negotiation, more like an ultimatum!

President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

What a week it has been in politics, in various parts of the world!

Firstly, the recent general elections in Turkey have reduced AKP (the ruling/dominant party during the last decade or so) to 40% of seats in parliament. The party founder and current President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, wanted the AKP to gain 60% of seats, so that the Turkish constitution could be changed without debate or opposition in parliament.

Personally, I am very pleased that the AKP didn’t get anywhere near the desired (needed) 60% of seats. This is not because I am against change, but I strongly believe that in any democratic parliament the opposition should be strong enough to force debate and due consideration on any parliamentary matter, especially if it involves something as potentially “permanent” as a change in the constitution. Otherwise the “democratic” government becomes, in effect, a dictatorship.

David Cameron, the British Prime Minister

Meanwhile, back in dear old Blighty the Prime Minister, David Cameron, has decided not to block pay rises for MPs (depending where they are in the pecking order) of between 5 and 10%.

This is at a time when “austerity” and “we are all in this together” are the buzz words in the Treasury.

Really? The “real” people, the workers, are facing either pay freezes or pay rises of 1%!

For the edification of any Member of Parliament reading this, a worker is someone who actually works, gets his (or her) hands dirty, pays taxes from which your pay comes from and, incidentally, votes YOU into parliament!

Come the revolution, brothers and sisters!

Greek Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras

Having mentioned “austerity” above I must say that I am flummoxed that Greece has continued to be financially “afloat” for so long! When the current Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras, was elected to power on 25th January this year on an “anti austerity” political platform, Greece was apparently something like a week away from bankruptcy.

I can’t remember the exact figures or details, but I think that Greece had to pay back something like 3 billion Euros to the ECB (European Central Bank) or maybe it was the IMF (International Monetary Fund) before it received its next tranche of (something like) 5 billion Euros. Something which, about 5 months later, has yet to happen!

I am not a financier, but if “Peter” says to “Paul” that he wants to give “Paul” 5 billion Euros, but only after “Paul” gives “Peter” 3 billion Euros, surely it would make sense for “Peter” to give “Paul” only 2 billion Euros?

OK, I know that there is more to it than that, but my question remains, why, after 5 months has Greece not been forced to pay, get thrown out of the Euro or be declared bankrupt?

Leaving aside the reasons for Greece’s current dire financial situation (inefficient, indeed, ineffective tax collection systems, bloated, over paid civil service etc), if the central bank(s) in Athens had had more control over the Greek currency, rather than the “one size fits all” Euro it is likely that the general population would not have suffered so much when a remedy was applied.

My personal opinion as to why Greece has not had to pay back the amount demanded on time and been obliged to leave the Euro zone, is that it would mean at least two things to the EU politicians and financial whizz kids.

  • Firstly, in the short term, should Greece be forced to return to the Drachma, it would, by default; mean that the current financial structure of Europe and the Euro is flawed.
  • Secondly, in the long term, should Europe keep Greece in the Euro zone, and “give in” to Athens, then Spain, Italy and Portugal will also want easements on their re-payments!

Talk about being caught between the devil and the deep blue (Mediterranean) sea!

Next blog will continue with Alistair’s rambles

These rambles were written by Alistair initially for the “The KibKom Times” then “The KibKom Forum