Wednesday, 20 July 2016

The Bridges of Battambang

Nestled at the corner of Tonle Sap Lake, Battambang is a Cambodian town in resurgence. Poised between the Thai border, now seeing rail connections into Poipet after the destruction of the Khmer Rouge years, and equidistant to Siem Reap, and the wonders of Angkor Wat, or the capital Phnom Penh. The latter now, as of this month, with the first scheduled rail-link to the coast and port at Sihanoukvile in 30 years.

And amidst the rice basket and forests of Battambang Province is Battambang Town itself rippled by the River Sankhae and its four bridges. The Old Stone Bridge leading to the Governor’s Palace of 1905 built by the previous Thai administration, before French colonial rule took over until 1947 and Cambodian independence. The modern New Iron Bridge linking the river promenades and exercise areas to the hotel and restaurant areas. The Park Bridge through to the Russian market and commercial banks. And the New Stone Bridge to the modern hospital and river ferry to Phnom Penh.

A town now teeming with vitality, with potential listing as a UNESCO Heritage Town and recognised as a hub of the Performing Arts. A resurgence of arts built on the era of chanteuses such as Ros Serey Sothea, the Golden Voice, resonant of Edith Piaf, and Sinn Sisamouth and Pan Ron from the 1960’s heyday blending of traditional Khmer music and electric guitars.

All lost in the Khmer Rouge torture chambers such as S21 Tuol Sleng, a nondescript high school in Phnom Penh and thousands of work camps in the countryside as cities such as Phnom Penh and Battambang were emptied. The UK’s Trade Minister and Creative Industries expert, David Puttnam’s movie The Killing Fields detailing the story of journalist Dith Pran, played by doctor Haing S. Ngor, the first untrained actor to win an Oscar.

The American journalist Sydney Schanberg who worked with Dith Pran and won the Pulitzer prize for reporting on Cambodia for the New York Times, dying earlier this month.

Some of the main rural reservoirs and graves of the medieval wasteland of mud and skulls of the Khmer Rouge regime depicted in the movie are around Battambang.
And beyond the bridges and graves of Battambang, the necklace of 1,000 year old Khmer temples, such as Baset Temple with its pond that never dries, even in the hot season, and Wat Ek Phnom with its 11th century friezes of the Churning of the Ocean of Milk, that extend along The Royal Road to Angkor and on into Thailand’s Isaan region.

Such major tourist attractions are breathing life back into Battambang, along with the Creative Industries to the fore are the Phare Performing Arts Institute and circus, now internationally renowned. A somersault from the days when over 90% of artists and monks and doctors and journalists were routinely executed in the drive back to Year Zero, and the Killing Caves of Phnom Sampean with its breathaking views over the province.

Now Battmabang is peppered with graphic design studios, art galleries, a clutch of Khmer and Thai restaurants, social enterprise cafes, artist collectives, and art deco cinemas. And a wealth of visual and creative arts colleges, and universities pulling through a new generation of students.

And a wealth of returning emigres such as Princess Soma Norodom – a Princess Diana figure revitalising the reinstituted Cambodian Royal Family with work on landmines, fashion and textiles and film.

And backing onto the Governor’s palace, and now disused art deco Battambang railway station, is the Bamboo Railway the last vestige of Khmer railways, now a tourist attraction of tank wheels and a bamboo platform, with its shrunken feeder lines into the fields for rice and bricks freight.

But, with the main railway being rebuilt, and the wealth of arts, surely the real bridges of Battambang should be not iron and stone but the flesh and blood of human capital - with greater links between Cambodia and UK?

A dynamic and active British Embassy under Ambassador Bill Longhurst has rejuvenated the UK’s political and diplomatic and administrative links beyond Phnom Penh to towns such as Battambang. Arts and Science links are fostered in depth with the Women in Science series of STEM books of Deputy Ambassador Bryony Mathew (highlighting UK excellence in engineering for railways and trams and tubes/metro), and a tripling of Chevening student scholarships between UK and Cambodian universities.

And a fizzing arts scene is crying out for UK showcases of Ballet and Khon dance at the Royal Albert Hall and Barbican again. Khon Dance is a good-natured Thai and Khmer balletic rivalry for the UN Cultural Heritage status. While Thailand’s Queen Sirikit Textile Museum, OTOP programmes and Bangkok’s futuristic Skytrains, are testament to Thai skill in preserving arts and crafts, and potential with Cambodia, to showcase such priceless fashion designs and silk-weaving expertise that is ripe for the fashion houses of Europe as well as Asia.

Sports Diplomacy too has come on apace with both the Leicester City Premiership win of the Thai-owned club a spur for more than ad-hoc club visits to Thailand by Arsenal and Chelsea and ManU.

And England too, given former England manager Roy Hodgson’s time as a player for not one but 5 Kent clubs from Ebbsfleet to Ashford, must sound the whistle, with the full heft of the FA, to kickoff cohesive sports programmes into Cambodia, Laos and the rest of ASEAN.

The roar of the Thundercastles of Buriram just over the border, winners of the Thai Foootball League’s first ever hat-trick of titles, and Invincibles in never being beaten during a full season must be an ideal lever to ASEAN-wide sports training programmes and exhibition matches and exchanges.

Britain’s excellence in sports whether football, golf, cycling, athletics and the Olympics – both playing and managing, as well as Sports Industries, should be the ideal footprint for Stadium Tours of the Kop and Wembley and cultural exchanges.

Khmer tourists won’t initially rival the record-breaking 1M inbound UK tourists to Thailand, or indeed Thailand’s 30M visitors. But the Kingdom of Cambodia’s 4M tourists will certainly grow as will the 4M Vietnam tourist trade and 4M Myanmar tourism.

While Thai inbound tourists to UK are already the 3rd highest spenders after the Chinese and Arabian gulf states – and c.8k Thai students in UK against only 17k Malaysia students and 89k Chinese students creating the basis for deeper university links as well as sporting events.

Twin town programmes are under-nourished in Cambodia with Battambang suffering from the rather non-descript links of Stockton in California or Germany. Potential that could be grasped in East Kent with Canterbury and its cathedral or Dover and its epitome of Englishness the White Cliffs of Dover or the Arts and Tourism shift of Ramsgate, plus the existing French and Belgian and Danish links. And Kent’s 4 universities, 400 schools – 40 in Thanet alone – and dozens of language schools and sixth form colleges.

There is time. The Sankhae still flows smooth and silent through the centre of Battambang.

Past the bustle of the market. The evening breeze rustling though bolts of silk as the market closes and balcony shutters are thrown open, whispering down through the trees from the far Highlands of Vietnam.

A Golden Voice of Khundrum melodies competing with Vietnamese tunes and the lilting refrain of the song Pleiku you are so lovely that sadly no longer rings true.

The Sankhae flows past Restaurant street, Pub Street and the collection of glinting trophies from the coffee championships of Cambodia routinely won by the baristas of Battambang, and past Gallery Street.

Past the Time to Think arts installation on a riverboat by artist Khchao Touch.

Two fishermen waist-deep in the current of lotus flowers waiting for the occasional catfish.

The air thick with the scent of malaria coils and incense and steamed rice and dumplings.

The Sankhae flows on past the parade of monks in their orange robes in the still morning air, past the twilight glow of the evening joggers and petanque players, as the moon comes out and shines on the Bridges of Battambang.

Time for Change

* Sincerity article: Thai Foreign Minister, Khun Surin Pitsuwan and Thai-UK trade:

* Sincerity article: Soda Wars go pop

* Surin Charity: Malaria a brief thought:

* Sincerity article on Coca-Cola:

* 21st century Britain agenda article:

* No Tobacco Day Smoking Sincerity article:

* EK Remedial points 2016:

* EK strategy 2016:

* Time for a Free Economy article:

* Surin restaurant review: top Thai restaurant in Kent:

- Surin Thai restaurant the best Thai restaurant in Kent and one of only 45 of any cuisine in Kent according to KM:

Tim's Titbits:

* nice to see "Lord Fraud" Hannigfield having his fake expenses claims court case overturned by Parliament - and where is Lord "Grabafee" Grabiner and the fraudsters of One Essex Court? Silence only reigns now for GlickQC and the Ali Bongo barrister Guy Hollingworth and their fraudulent firm.

* a parking kerfuffle in Ramsgate with the PCSO's not quite sure about parking on the prom or BBQ's - silly me, of course you should park on the prom and pedestrian zone... the TDC litter chaps doing a good job of picking up the mess, and TDC's parking wardens now active on seafront and town centre parking.

* Kent Police seem to have gone off in a huff and retreated into the police stations or their IT isn't working - no sign of PCC improvments for The Boy Scott running what appears ot be another police department staffed by cops rather than credible scrutiny on behalf of the publc. Mind you the lawyers running the consultaion on the Nemo/National Grid pylons have gone off in a huff too with only silence not explanations. Some consultation - barely better than leaving the documents in the council basement for a day with a days notice before rubberstamping them approved.

* Speaking of which it seems the 2 Stolen Valour elections are on: announced on Friday and nominsations close...this Friday. For an election in 3 weeks or so. After 2 weeks of delay and 9 months without councillors. Another weak Kent election designed to reduce public involvement. The Election Commission specifies 19 working days for candidates nominations. Too difficult for TDC it seems along with the previous elections frauds. Useless. Simply refuse to stand or vote. We're already at some of the lowest-ever turnouts of 20% or less.

* an East Kent Supercouncil in the offing which is not bad as long as it's not mere rebadging. Many of the councils have failed to promote and protect East Kent and are over-stuffed and over-paid. A review of existing staffing and salaries etc would be useful as a basepoint.

* excellent news to see Ramsgate marina's historic Slipways announced as a refurb to a working port rather than a twee tourism building - the good folks of Hornby and the latter need support for elsewhere in the town.

* Terrible news with Live Animal Exports resuming with the SS Joline junkship - and large cargo/tanker ships berthed off Margate and its Blue Flag beaches rather than tied up in port.

* Disappointing to hear too of unnecesarily tighter immigration controls on Thai chefs into UK - dampening down the burgeoning Thai cuisine and restaurant scene in UK (UK's 3rd most popular cuisine). Time too for KORA the Kent Oriental Restaurant Association.

More later:

* Trident
* PM and Cabinet and Corbyn
* Thor mercury: Flint arrests and prosecutions underway
* Infratil directors of Wellington NZ's worst airport
* Shan heroin and Colombia cocaine
* South Sudan UK evacuation
* Jordan refugee camps
* Dreamland going bust?
* the foolish 750 houses for Manston initial plans given mega-developments at Ebbsfleet New Town and ThamesGateway2050, the latter with Lord Hezza oversight


Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Gooooaaalllll for UK Sports Diplomacy, Thailand and ASEAN?

The British Summer may not be ideal, but it’s been a scorching few weeks of sport in Britain. In fact we seem to have entered a Golden Era for UK Sport - and Thailand and ASEAN.

(Perhaps it's best, albeit unusual in the conference season and the MalaysiaRail event, for me to be quartered here in UK given the rains in Thailand). First off the sports grid though there’s Andy Murray winning the Wimbledon Men’s Final so officially becoming a Brit rather than a Scot.

Something seems to have been put in the tea at Wimbledon, presumably nothing stronger than an extra sugar lump given the recent scandals in athletics and cycling, with Britain’s Heather Watson winning the Mixed Doubles. And Britain’s Gordon Reid becoming the first Wheelchair Tennis Men’s Singles Champion. Plus the World Cup of Tennis, the Davis Cup, underway with the UK defending the trophy against Serbia this week.

While Wales ended 58 years in the football wilderness by reaching the semi-finals in UEFA Euro 2016. England of course lost to Iceland, at best avoiding the traditional British football route of losing to Germany on penalties.

Northern Ireland and Eire played well and so are both officially sort of British, with Eire even gaining a medal from the Parisian Mayor for sportsmanship - a triumph of the footballing minnows for once.

While England Manager, Kent’s Roy Hodgson – a player for not one but 5 Kent teams(!) from Ebbsfleet to Ashford to Tonbridge resigned to make way for new Lions. Only Mark Clattenburg was left waving a small England flag in refereeing the Euro Final.

While the Iceland defeat was awful, Hodgson's record as England manager was better than most in recent years and undoubtedly should be commemorated, on a street sign or stadium, in the Ebbslfeet New Town – the Khon Kaen of Kent if you will - part of the Thames Gateway mega-development.

Even the Tour de France, that iconic French sport, rivalled only by petanque, saw Britain develop its unheralded cycling expertise despite Bradley Wiggins Olympic Gold and Tour de France win in 2012. This weekend saw Brits gaining 3 of the 4 prized jerseys: Chris Froome, race leader in yellow, Adam Yates, white for best young rider and Mark Cavendish in green this season for points. With a reigning champion in Chris Froome, and Mark Cavendish now within a lycra seam of Belgium’s great Eddy Merckx for the most stage wins UK Cycling is surging.

This week also sees the Pakistan vs England Men's Test Match at Lords, and if England football went to Iceland then Heather Knight, Captain of England Women's Cricket has gone to Waitrose for an energy drink or two, already beating Pakistan last month in the One Day International, then the whole Series and then the T20 series.

And the British Grand Prix at Silverstone saw a Lewis Hamilton win, narrowly ahead of the Dutch boy racer, 18 year old Max Verstappen, for the Red Bull team.

It’s apt that Red Bull, Thailand’s energy drink is amongst several key Thai brands for UK sports – the Premier League commencing in the next few weeks with King Power’s Leicester City defending the title.

And Everton sponsored by Chang as part of its Asia strategy, with NEC and Kejiang previously. And even the mighty Liverpool fending off a takeover by Chinese art billionaire Liu Yiqian, China’s 47th richest man. He's no doubt excited that Liverpool’s first home game against the Siamese Foxes in September will attract 54,000 fans. A game that will be the highest attendance at Anfield in 40 years, and part of the stadium building programme of adding an extra 5,000 seats.

Hi-Energy UK and Thailand Sports Diplomacy Beyond A Political Football:

As a UK MP candidate with an emphasis on Thailand and ASEAN, shouldn’t the tsunami of support for English football in Asia – especially Thailand, be more effectively reflected in UK policy?

Politicians often rather desperately tap into football for support – remember PM David Cameron professing support for West Ham Villa? Or was it Aston Ham? I’m no huge sports fan (is Kenny Dalglish still playing?) preferring to play them – well, Swimming or Crazy Golf anyway - than watch them, although I do find event football matches on the big screen strangely meditative and relaxing.

Leaving the glitter of trophies and roar of the crowd aside for a moment, Sports Science is a huge UK growth industry in itself whether STEM, nutrition (Andy Murray feasting on an Asian diet of fish and rice and a whole melon and berry smoothies before the Final), or DNA analysis or injury treatment, and a burgeoning part of the conflux of Sports Business and Sports Medicine that filters through into the NHS. Unfortunately sports doping is still vital for pharma labs given the recent Russian Athletics or Tennis or Cycling scandals, and ever-expanding plethora of strange substances. While Rio 2016 has been affected by the wider problems of pandemics with Zika causing Jason Day, World Golf No.1 and several others to pull out of those Games.

And the Tech Sports arena is already increasing and showing a clean pair of heels, whether goal-line or baseline rulings, virtual advertising hoardings and graphics or the Digital Squash Screen a real-life Wii for training and fun. As with Dodgeball a new sport in the making, especially as Squash was notoriously difficult to televise and develop as a spectator sport.

Sports Diplomacy Shoots and Scores for UK and Thailand:

And with my advertising hat on, aren’t both UK plc and Thailand plc failing to maximise the business opportunities of sports together? Sure there are football display matches in Bangkok from Chelsea or England or the mighty Gunners. But all rather ad-hoc, and driven by the demands of the Premiership rather than a systemic programme of sports for better UK-Thai relations.

Thailand is after all one of the top 5 UK Growth Markets for the future - along with other football-mad Asia-Pacific nations such as Vietnam and Mexico and Chile and Argentina. And British Football-mad at that.

The eye-popping number of Premier League football shirts in Thailand though is astonishing, whether tuk-tuk or taxi drivers or the street fashion of food vendors, university students or school kids. Lord Green, the Chairman of HSBC and a UK Trade Minister on a trip to Thailand and ASEAN expressed his astonishment on the prevalence of UK football and fashion.

Indeed the astonishing thing about say Thailand taking UK football so completely to its heart (by comparison try finding a LaLiga or Bundesliga match) is every bar or shopping mall or train plasma screen showing the latest UK matches day or night. And not just the big boys of St James’ Park or The Toffee Men etc, but the whole spectrum of The Great British Beautiful Game whether Charlton Athletic or Ipswich Town or Stoke City – teams you’d struggle to follow in UK never mind thousands of miles away in Asia. (Only joking Charlton!).

And the passion for UK football is as strong in Cambodia and Laos and Vietnam - DaNang for example the site of huge UK investment in universities and tech colleges and fortunately the VLeague team doing well as runners up.

The popularity of Soccer in Asia is borne out in detailed research. For example, Hakuhodo research for Panasonic detailed sports in the 10 main Asian cities from Delhi to Tokyo, both to play and watch.

Soccer was the No.1 sport to watch with only Manila citing Basketball instead and Taipei Baseball. Delhi opted for Cricket as the No.1 Sport, but that was closely followed by Soccer.

Badminton, Tennis - even before the UK surge at Wimbledon - and Volleyball all featured highly. And in participating sports, Soccer, Swimming and Cycling all featured in every city.

Strangely Taipei was the only city not to feature Soccer at all, with Jogging being the main Sport in the other cities. Perhaps one for detailed UK Sports Diplomacy efforts. And the research quibbled over whether Bowling was a sport rather than a hobby but didn’t pass the same critical eye over Motorsports which also featured. Neither Snooker nor Takraw nor Martial Arts featured despite being almost ubiquitous in Asia.

While participating in Sports, had Bangkok as the only city at No.1 for Football, and Walking and Jogging being the main sport in every city with Taipei and Seoul opting for hiking.

Swimming, Badminton and Cycling were all heavily participated in, with Delhi choosing Cricket as it’s second most active sport after walking.

Interestingly, watching Figure Skating featured highly in Tokyo, Taipei and Seoul but nowhere else. While sadly, only in Tokyo and Seoul were all 5 main participatory sports undertaken solo. Not even a robot for company.

While, if Bangkok can enjoy tropical heat and several indoor ice rinks it’s absurd that East Kent is unable to provide such leisure facilities. You'd think Torvill and Dean never existed.

Friends and family in Thailand smile and joke about the chaotic state of UK politics after the Brexit silliness, comparing the BKK Shutdown and Thailand upheavals previously with the pro-EU marches in Piccadilly. In the short-term of Brexit, the only benefit so far is better value from the pound sterling for Thai tourists. Perhaps another flood of UK football scarves and shirts on Bangkok’s streets when they fly back? With 54,250 used Wimbledon tennis balls being sold off for £3 each but ending up on Ebay for £20 each that demonstrates at a stroke the value of Sports Memorabilia industries.

If the UK Foreign Office is on something of a back foot in explaining the disastrous Brexit result, and a 25% budget cut between 2010 and 2015, then Sir Simon Fraser the previous FCO head mandarin, interviewed by The Sunday Times last week, has rightly called for greater opportunities in balancing the mix of aid, defence and diplomacy. He cites diplomacy as both cheap and effective. In aid the UK is already a world-leader and even FCO benefits from its own specific $600M DFID budget plus extra Cultural Diplomacy funds from the British Council and BBC.

To lose dominance in the English language and culture such as Sports would be a spectacular mishap, what's the phrase, akin to coming out to bat to find your own team has smashed the wicket, given not just the current Great Summer of Sport, but that Britain invented Football, Cricket, Golf, Rugby and so on.

The NATO 2% defence budget rather than 0.7% aid, increasingly looks excessive given that the rest of the EU27 struggles to reach c.1.3%, and the excessive costs of new F35 jets (£100M each: the cost of about 3,000 Surin Schools and educations for c.150K schoolkids and c.15K teaching jobs), over 500 Jackal armoured cars something of a kneejerk response to the Snatch Landrover Mobile Coffins MOD scandal of Iraq2 and the Chilcot report, and rushed vote on multi-billion Trident submarines amidst the political wreckage of Brexit.

ASEAN and Sports and Kent:

It’s a wider debate relevant in East Asia too with the dangers of both excessive arms spending and a naval arms race around the Paracels and Spratlys, now ruled against China by PCA in The Hague, rather than vaccines or Haiyan aid. Strangely both China and Thailand investing in Ukrainain kit of aircraft carriers and tanks, given Ukraine is the only European nation and military losing territory at the moment. Brexit aside.

Andy Murray cheered onto victory by Murray Mound replacing Henman Hill sported a No More Malaria logo on his sports shirt, which raises an interesting issue around sports sponsorship by NGO’s in Asia-Pacific as with UNICEF and Barcelona.

UK has also seen a surge in sports after the hat-trick of Olympic Games with London 2012 perhaps the best-ever organised Olympics and a benchmark for Rio in just 4 weeks. And is it so outrageous that the Arts Medals that featured in the Olympics until the second London Games of 1948 could be revived? Especially with so few of the professional golfers interested in bothering to attend the Olympics?

The ASEAN Games and Phuket Asian Beach Games recently demonstrated to me both the power of Thailand’s organisation of sports, range of display sports, and Muay Thai martial arts in Phuket for farangs – and surely Sintu, Sakorn and Samut and could be further developed as UK-Thailand Youth Sports mascots?

While Takraw, not so dissimilar to Keepy-Uppy, could introduce Thai sports to UK along with other niche sports such as Urban Golf from Hoxton to Haiphong. And certainly stimulate broadcast rights in UK for ASEAN games and sports such as Takraw.

It's interesting that the current ASEM Summit in Mongolia doesn't include Sports Diplomacy in any substantial or meaningful way.

Sports Diplomacy shouldn't be a fluffy nice-to-have: various research programmes in UK eg Cardiff University cite the often difficult ways to measure economic benefits of sport – except for the feel-good factor. The boost in morale from your team winning is reflected in the buzz of the workplace and classroom, and the surge online or the High Street for souvenir scarves and booklets as well as the next matches tickets. It's not just the 15M that can watch on television, a game such as England v. Iceland but the knock-on effect of newspaper headlines, news reports and math pundits and workplace chat that can boost morale.

Kent Police have been active on research and innovation programmes, with football and the increase in domestic violence (unfortunately a 10% uplift from England losing) and reducing racism and hate crime from Englands’s previous unsavoury reputation for hooliganism.

As well as research on drugs such as Afghan and Shan heroin given Frontline Kent status as the nexus between London, Amsterdam and Paris. And with Kent's Folkestone and Maidstone Ghurkas rotating back through Kabul and the worsening security situation. Again innovative sports and work programmes such as Doitung are crucial in such areas - the UK recording in Glasgow this week its largest ever drug haul of 3 tonnes of cocaine worth £500M and Kent just a few months ago the largest ever gun haul of over 30 machine guns.

But the 2007 Grand Depart in London and Kent,just the first UK stages of the Tour De France, resulted in £80M in direct spend of food, tickets, souvenirs, hotels etc. As well as £15M in indirect spend, 2,000 FTE jobs, and Transport for London estimates over 2.85M spectators travelling to the event. That's just one not particularly well promoted event for a rather neglected sport so far in UK.

But even where the economic benefits can be variable: an increase in sports tourists balanced by those staying away from the crowds, or not interested in sports there's a groundswell of sports participation. Britain's greatest sports after all are Swimming and Angling – here in Kent seafishing being a key niche. And from the first years of the Disabled Games, there’s been a rapid growth in the Paralympic Games and now the Invictus Games for wounded troops.

In Kent, the 2012 Olympics on Kent's doorstep and the super-fast HS1 hispeed rail saw something of a political scandal with few if any legacy benefits such as stadia or events for the millions of pounds in promotion – the Grand Depart cycle race now lost to the Tour De Yorkshire, and as an official Tour de France stage too.

That's still something of a body-blow to Kent given its numerous sports stars: Dame Kelly Holmes, winning two Athletics golds in the 2004 Olympics, Sarah Ayton OBE winning gold in in the 2004 and 2008 Olympics for Sailing, Sean King the 2012 water polo ace, and Georgina Harland winning bronze for Pentathlon in 2004.

Women’s sports in general in UK have blossomed with Women Football and Women Cycling ready to give Thailand’s Volleyball and Badminton and Golf expertise a run for their money.

While, UK Athletics even without star names like Mo Farah or Jessica Ennis-Hill gained their biggest haul of medals in the European championships for 58 years at the weekend in Amsterdam. And the Ruby Europe Sevens also triumphed over France to win gold.

Sports Diplomacy on your Bike?

And as The Open begins at Troon, obviously there are massive opportunities for Golf in both UK and Thailand, with the extensive greens in Kent of over 100 courses, Prince Andrew recently hosting World Bank CEO Jim Yong Kim at the Royal St Georges Sandwich course, apt for the Kent Cuisine Coast, previously trod by icons such as Tiger Woods and Ian Fleming's James Bond and Goldfinger.

The London Marathon, and easier Park Run, attract record crowds and the Guinness World record for c.$60M in fundraising: as does RunBKK or the quirkier sports such as the very British Brompton Cycling races with UK Embassy support.

While England’s football youth under Gareth Southgate for U21 are woefully neglected for their skills eg Ruben Loftus-Cheek stymied at Chelsea but victorious in the U21’s at Toulon in May - the first time in 22 years. With 50% youth unemployment in much of Europe and at least 20% in UK, the superstars of the future, and sports industries of the future, are already lacing their boots and need support beyond mere flying the flag.

The Brexit debate has sparked a review of England’s consistently poor performance in major football events and foreign players in the Premier League: 35% home nation players in 2014-15 compared to 58% in Spain 56% in France and 48% in Germany. As with UK film and television quotas, as France already has in place, there’s a sensible debate to be had on the balance of internationalism and encouraging home-grown talent.

It's a debate as viable for Thai cycling champions such as Khun Jutathip Maneephan or English footballers, with mega-teams such as Real Madrid now having to pay back millions in EU State Aid as an unfair advantage.

And if football is such an open goal for UK-Thai relations then where are the Thai teams on tour in UK? Shouldn’t the roar of The Thundercastles echo through Wembley or Old Trafford? Shouldn’t Insee Police United feature in display matches or a tussle with Cambodian Tigers or Can Tho or Champa FC, if not a regular Great British ASEAN Football League?

And shouldn’t the influx of Thai tourists face more organised Stadium Tours to the cathedrals of football in their trips to Britain?

Thailand’s upsurge in cycling in recent years – almost unthinkable on Vietnam’s dangerous main road(s) – again needs a UK-ASEAN Tournament, with Cycling UK or the Sports Council, whether along the new Chaopraya promenade or under-developed Yodpiman heritage walk, or around Thailand’s provinces as is beginning with Nan a dedicated cycling town and routes for Tourism Thailand Thainess.

Sports Diplomacy and Sports Tourism are still something of an undiscovered gem for both UK and Thailand, and could easily be ramped up and I’d suggest a focus on: Football, Cycling, Beach (volleyball, swimming, beach soccer and cricket, beach polo), Cricket and Niche (Golf, Paralympics, Invictus, Womens, even Kent's Pickleball and Petanque experts)as core UK sports.

Indeed is it so impossible that the BBC and Thai television and radio channels couldn’t organise a joint venture on Sports, Tourism and Culture as well as exchanges of Free-to-Air channels? Especially given the innovative BBC White Paper reforms this month, led by another ASEAN Trade Minister Lord Puttnam of The Killing Fields movie fame – filmed on location in Hua Hin and Phuket. A Sydney Schanberg media event could also be a fitting memorial to the NY Times reporter who died recently but broke the news of the Pol Pot regime.

Besides the BBC, Channel Four has dived into the Paralympics but often failed to tackle its remit for innovation through sports in recent years – Sumo or Kabbadi or American Football are a distant memory in terms of previous efforts and investment, and confined to the subs bench now.

Sports has never been more important with the UNFAO 2016 Global Nutrition report highlighting malnutrition in terms of obesity that now affects one in three people with resulting increases in cancer and diabetes. And obesity has trebled in the last 30 years - the Measuring Up report by the Medical Royal Colleges describes Britain as the Fat Man of Europe with one in four adults obese. And it’s interesting that the top 5 includes those nations that did well in Euro2016: Ireland, Spain, Portugal and Germany. Not so much beach-body-ready or match-ready as sofa-ready.

Certainly sugar and salt and fat taxes, product reformulations and promotion bans are key, but so is regular exercise at school and university and even work. Japan’s exercise culture in factories look less risible now.
Barclays and its Digital Eagles helped popularise Walking Football for the elderly with the first national tournament in November and afficionados such as Geoff Hurst from the 1966 World Cup team still going strong.

Sports Diplomacy after a Fashion:

If London and Bangkok’s traffic has improved beyond waliking pace in in recent years with the Chaopraya Prom plans, or futuristic Skytrain and dynamic SRT expansion of the trains and metro, now with the Orange and Purple lines and bus links in just over a decade – surely UK expertise in the bus (an everlasting London icon with the British Bobby for good reason) could help improve transport in Thailand whether to and from the sports stadiums or just getting to work?

Holland or Denmark may well be world leaders in cycling out of the Velodrome, but a British bus whether with a clean and green Rolls Royce engine or not is something to see and experience - not just on the traditional open-top double-decker bus tour for FA Cup winners or Leicester City earlier this year. Disabled access is paramount and I had to double-take recently at a bus that is pneumatically lowered at bus stops to allow elderly and disabled passenger on and off more easily while raising to navigate potholes or puddles for a smoother ride during the English Summer monsoon.

While Active Sports Diplomacy could highlight key issues in Thailand, whether that’s Road Safety and Cycling or Football and Fashion or Swimming and Water safety all of which must be relevant for sports brands too. Obviously Student Games and UK University scholarships too, beyond the usual faces of Chula and Thammasat, and across Kasetsart, SPU, Webster, Silpakorn, UTCC, Sri Nakharin Wirot University and Mahidol Business School.

The UK Football Association or UK Athletics have massive and deep grassroots sports programmes far beyond just the glitz and glamour of a Beckham or Man Utd eg the innovative goalkeeper schools from Arsenal, or schools programme with Show Racism the Red Card or Kick It Out supported by Ipswich and Leicester amongst many teams or Schools Cricket across Surrey and Kent.

Sailing is clearly a Sports shoo-in for Asia and UK cooperation whether from the Hainan developments after Beijing 2008, and series of local events around Phuket and Pattaya, whether yachts or kayaks or powerboats all relevant for links with Cowes.

And with China declaring football a National Strategic Issue for their 2030 Plan it would be as short-sighted as the Specsavers County Cricket Championships for UK and Thailand to neglect their existing strengths and potential in football.

While Sports Fashion (is athleisure really a word now?)is a political issue in UK at the moment with Sports Direct and other retailers shown the yellow card on minimum pay and working conditions in warehouses in UK, and the textiles supply chain abroad in Myanmar, Vietnam and Cambodia.

Sports Fashion is crucial for the UK economy with Central Saint Martin’s arts and Fashion School or London College of Fashion, new Artsopolis Stratford, and retail giants such as Lord Rose of Arcadia and Marks and Spencer punching above their weight.

Fashion is a £28BN economic benefit to UK and employs 880,000 people, and can instantly marshal 500 heavyweight (or stick-thin) designers (that already clothe Asia and litter Bangkok’s innovative malls such as Paragon, MBK and Ploenchit) such as Paul Smith, Burberry, Alexander McQueen - and Kent’s Vivienne Westwood and Karen Millen.

And the British Fashion Council and Creative Industries Council pulling foreign designers together in UK eg Portugal’s Marques Almeida. All ripe for collaborations with ASEAN organisations such as the dynamic LCFS Hanoi Fashion College, an innovative partnership with Northumbria University, just as Kasetsart and Newcastle University are steaming ahead into the 21st century on ASEANRail and HS2 and HS3 cooperation over the next decade, with ideally ScotEireRail.

While Stella McCartney must be putting the half-time band through their paces for the 50th anniversary of Sgt Pepper next year, and helping UK Fashion balance the conflicting trends of vertical integration: sheep to shop if you will, or the armada of outsourcing opportunities for fashion and sportswear from Bangladesh to Battambang for Nike and Adidas and Fred Perry, the Andy Murray of his day in Sports and Fashion.

And a cohesive UK-Thai Sports Diplomacy programme, could be a huge economic boost to both Thailand (70% Foreign Direct Investment in Thailand down) and UK (35% of Thai investment in UK down) that could surge with the likes of Bangkok Bank - just one London office for such a financial giant?

Or SCB or True or Tourism Thailand or SCG, (Red Bull’s already doing rather well in UK’s supermarkets and shops), and NL brands such as Campina and Dutch Mill, lending corporate weight to sports activity – especially in entering the UK market with both UK ad Thai trade support. And undoubtedly into the EU as Brexit drifts away with new UK political leadership.

UK and Thailand already have c.$8BN in joint trade, and UK invests c.$15BN in Thailand fro standing start, so Sports Diplomacy and the new Golden Era of Great British Sport is just warming up before the kickoff.

Tim Garbutt is a UK MP candidate with an emphasis on Thailand and ASEAN links, and director of Surin Village School charity, and Sincerity Advertising.



• Tim Howes the legal beagle at TDC seems determined to keep silent and cash his pay cheque despite the Cayman Islands and BVI scandals contaminating Kent's governance

• Clarendon School selling off sports fields with a new consultation on the rates seems to belie all the above points on sport and obesity etc

• Silence too from Berry, Button and Sproates and senior management at TDC and KCC on the faked/removed Manston monitors and Thor mercury discharge

* Silence from Wellington airport in NZ with the same Infratil directors of Fitzgerald etc as Manston, Prestwick etc - Wellington now Asia's most dangerous airport?

* Silence from Ann Gloag billionaire and Stagecoach founder from the missing fines/monitors from Manston under her ownership

• Lord Grabiner of the notorious One Essex Court barristers of GLickQC/Hollingworth etc castigated in the FT as "Lord Grabafee" over the Philip Green/Chappell BHS £500M pensions scandal/fraud

* Sincerity article: Thai Foreign Minister, Khun Surin Pitsuwan and Thai-UK trade:

* Sincerity article: Soda Wars go pop

* Surin Charity: Malaria a brief thought:

* Sincerity article on Coca-Cola:

* 21st century Britain agenda article:

* No Tobacco Day Smoking Sincerity article:

* EK Remedial points 2016:

* EK strategy 2016:

* Time for a Free Economy article:

* Surin restaurant review: top Thai restaurant in Kent:

- Surin Thai restaurant the best Thai restaurant in Kent and one of only 45 of any cuisine in Kent according to KM:

* The Bridges of Battambang to follow

Monday, 4 July 2016

2016 The Summer of Refugees and Common Ground?

Certainly the Summer exodus of refugees that we’ve seen in Europe in recent years has subsided. Yet the UNHCR confirms a world on the move with refugees reaching 65M up from 59M last year.

Chatting with advertising friends, there’s a real need for agencies to deliver on the UNSDG30 goals and Common Ground themes and sub-themes such as refugees or consumption and cities. Food brands may well smack their lips at being involved with healthy eating or Fairtrade coffee, but refugees are to some extent the unwanted guests at the feast.

Rolex for example are unlikely to support refugee programmes when there’s yacht sponsorships to be had – especially with Denmark now introducing a jewellery tax on refugees to allow them to bring in only £1,000 in cash or jewellery and the rest confiscated. A surprising move by a nation with a great tradition of liberalism and support - but not unlike the Germany of the 1930’s and Jewish exodus after Kristallnacht.

Almost 50% of refugees are from hell-holes such as Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia. And almost all the population of Syria is now in massive refugee camps in Turkey and Jordan. While the collapse of Libya will continue, and the resulting c.3k refugee deaths in the Mediterranean.

In East Kent we’ve seen concerns over the expansion of the Calais Jungle to 5,000 refugees and the possibility of any Brexit leading France to relocate the UK border and refugee camp in Dover. While the political unrest in Sudan and Eritrea has resulted in Abdul Haround from Sudan, now freed in Canterbury. He escaped the Calais Jungle, walking the 31 miles through the Channel Tunnel to reach sanctuary from the Janjaweed and ISIS terror blighting East Africa.

While KCC has rightly raised concerns over looking after an extra 300 refugee children, and how those are sensibly allocated around the county and the rest of UK, given the almost total collapse of Kent social services in recent years and shocking mismanagement over Kent’s 900 vulnerable children.

While in Asia, a new wave of boat people is underway with the Rohingya fleeing unrest in Bangladesh as we’ve seen with yet more ISIS suicide attacks at the weekend, and Myanmar, by heading to Thailand and Malaysia and the dangers of trafficking and even proto-death camps.

While the new Aung San regime has opened talks with Thailand on the longer-established refugee camps on the Shan state border with its toxic mix of ethnic cleansing and heroin. Indeed both Afghanistan and Shan state in Myanmar provide almost all the heroin that washes up on Britain’s streets.

And the boat people of Indonesia and Papua New Guinea heading for Australia are cause for concern with Manus Island used as a detention camp for refugees to be held in limbo for years as part of the Pacific Solution that attracted more concern than the Australian points system Brexit debates.

While a new EU-RUSI campaign seeks to stem the cocaine flow from Latin America into Europe via West Africa and narco-states such as Guinea via airports such as Ostend, Manston and Lydd.

The Americas are providing one small glimmer of hope with the 28 year civil war in Colombia reaching a ceasefire this week between FARC rebels and the government likely to lead to greater peace and prosperity and a clampdown on cocaine farms and smuggling to Europe.

Much of Latin America though is facing not so much a refugee crisis as internal migration from cities that are hotter than any warzone through gang and drugs violence - most evident in Mexico and El Salvador. While Brazil’s safety precautions for the Rio Olympics in the next few weeks have reached fever pitch with 238 shootings this year by the police in the city to clamp down on guns and drugs.

As the political unrest continues in UK it’s worth noting that Boris’ 3 German watercannon tanks have turned up in a Kent warehouse in Gravesend run by the Met Police before being sent to the scrapyard with his political career. Both the likely new Tory leader Theresa May and London Mayor Sadiq Khan highlighting the rather foolish approach to riot vehicles only deployed previously in Northern Ireland.

Remainers in the EU like me may want to become official eRomanians with your own Romanian-EU identity card and Romanian helper, with the fun website.

Tim Garbuttescu has a ring to it – and certainly in East Kent with Canterbury and Kent University and Canterbury Christchurch University the largest Romanian populations outside of Bucharest. And there's the importance of economic migrants from Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Slovakia and of course Poland for the shops and restaurants and cafes and hospitals and farms.

While Germany is considering offering German citizenship to UK citizens already living in the EU. No doubt Farage hastily resigning to take advantage of the offer to continue on the EU gravy train before Brexit completely derails.

Certainly refugees and economic migrants must question being in UK, not just as the first nation to consider withdrawing from EU, with race hate crime rising by 5x as reported by NPCC and Kent Police. As indeed must the economic and lifestyle migrants of the UK in the Costa del Sol and Paris and Berlin and Rome.

Yet 65M citizens on the move across the world can be considered both horrifying and yet resolvable. Add in too the 62M children not in school (over two-thirds of them girls). One of the major successes of UNMDG - version 1 of the UNSDG30 if you will - was attaining, in only 15 years, 90% of children in primary school.
Obviously they won’t all stay in school and there’s an issue of high school and university provision. But 90% in schools is as astonishing a success as polio eradication by Rotary in the last 30 years, or a Woman on Mars by 2030.

The problem of teaching remains for 715M who cannot read and write and the c.20M or so children in refugee camps who have had their educations disrupted if not destroyed by upheaval in the trek through the desert from Syria or Somalia or Afghanistan. Or the death-defying boat trips from Libya or Bangladesh or Myanmar.
And 65M refugees, I the world, about the population of UK, is comparatively few compared to the disasters that created Oxfam and UNHCR with the destruction of almost all of Europe after WW2 and millions of Europeans made refugees.

Refugees now more than ever need Common Ground.

The advertising industry has stepped forward with a superb in initiative, but where is the Common Ground by other industries? Why aren’t the soda giants of Pepsi and Coke pulling together? Why aren’t the car giants of VW and Ford and Nissan pulling together? And so on. Every industry should have a Common Ground programme for UNDG30 beyond their own specific corporate and brand activity.

Most shameful of all - where is the public sector Common Ground initiative? Not one UK public sector organisation has even pledged to support UNSDG30.

Not one.

And Britain and East Kent facing the Brexit crisis, now more than ever, need Common Ground.

Time for Change

* Sincerity article: Thai Foreign Minister, Khun Surin Pitsuwan and Thai-UK trade:

* Sincerity article: Soda Wars go pop

* Surin Charity: Malaria a brief thought:

* Sincerity article on Coca-Cola:

* 21st century Britain agenda article:

* No Tobacco Day Smoking Sincerity article:

* EK Remedial points 2016:

* EK strategy 2016:

* Time for a Free Economy article:

* Surin restaurant review: top Thai restaurant in Kent:

- Surin Thai restaurant the best Thai restaurant in Kent and one of only 45 of any cuisine in Kent according to KM:

* The Bridges of Battambang to follow

Tim’s tidbits

1. Good to see the good folks of Waitrose in Ramsgate supporting East Kent-Benelux with not just the rather splendid Panasonic batteries display but also Alpro yoghurt on an extraordinary trial price of just £1. Most of the large yoghurts costing at least £1.29. With Panasonic batteries based in Belgium it’s worth East Kent’s schools and hosptals tweaking their procurement roster on batteries. And if you’re buying batteries yourself to tune up your radio for the tennis or cricket then Panasonic are as good as any, and better than most. While with Belgium’s Alpro yoghurt for a quid how can you go wrong? It’s worth a try (and Alpro milk) and if you don't like it then don’t buy it again. But certainly Waitrose are to be congratulated on helping boost the EK economy over the longer-term and they need to know in terms of product ordering and display which brands the Great British East Kent public are getting behind to support.

2. While in terms of cricket, Waitrose support for the England cricket team is both a good fit and ideal for the Sports Diplomacy programme especially with India to boost UK exports.

3. Football unfortunately has gone to Iceland and lost. More later.

4. The Dreamland murk continues with TDC after 6 months having the information dragged out from them (well some of it) of the £900k court fine paid to Sands Hotel etc by TDC. Why? And Cllr Driver has raised questions over the whole £30M public tax bill for Dreamland and strange £600k Cayman Islands loan. I too am a huge supporter of Dreamland and want it to work – and it will – but what a ramshackle way of going about it by TDC/KCC.

5. The Pav on hold due to asbestos and concerns over Wetherspoons. Just one of the worst UK companies not for its Brexit stance but outrageous use of zero hours contracts like Sports Direct.

6. Sports Direct now expressing an interest in BHS with the pension scandal propped up by Chairman Lord “grabbin” Grabiner, the scoundrel of the Bar, and the feeble LIBOR review for the Bank of England. He declared no crimes - yet today 3 of the bankers are jailed. So much for that legal beagle. Rather we need more LIBOR bankers and lawyers and barristers like Grabiner's colleagues Hollingworth and Glick QC jailed.

7. Lucky Iron Fish: the more I see of this innovative Canadian product for malnutrition and iron deficiencies it’s perfect for Cambodia and other countries. A thing of genius. Perfect for Benelux-EK too, and the good folks of Unilever in Rotterdam. Keep it tea with a free LuckyIronFish donated to Cambodia for every 1,000 boxes of teabags sold? Probably a food brand would be better but you get the gist of it.

8. Kent's Cuisine Coast expands too with Niddy Thai Noodles launching in Harbour St, Ramsgate just near Surin Thai restaurant, Saffron Indian restaurant and Kyoto Sushi. Thoroughly recommended. Lend your support if you can and don't fancy an Alpro yoghurt.

Time for Change

Monday, 27 June 2016

Brexit. A brittle Britain and Kent, and Common Ground

What a mess. An utter and utter mess.

A few days into Brexit and it couldn’t be much worse if you tried could it?

A 52:48 voting split so close as to be an irrelevance. I say that as a Remainer – and if the vote had gone the other way. The narrowness of the vote means nothing has been decided: many people like the EU and many people don’t.

While the turnout was high at c.70% but that still leaves a third of the nation(s) who haven’t expressed an opinion.

So rather than a 50:50 split we have a 30:30:30 split – and a split that hasn’t changed significantly in almost 6 months of campaigning - if not since the2013 promise of referendum. Certainly the vote wasn’t on the weak as water February 2016 reforms – can you remember those, I can’t.

The people and parties have spoken – and said not very much at all.

The vote also creates Generation Split with the elderly voting against the EU and the young overwhelmingly in favour of it. Research I’ve seen suggests that age 43 is the crossover point.

While the referendum (for either vote) was deeply flawed in not having the Vote16 group as did the Scottish independence referendum –and will certainly be a voting age change in future.

Even without the EU vote we have the UK disintegrating with fundamental differences in Scotland such as tuition fees and dynamic leaders as Sturgeon and Salmond likely to create a tartan version of the Laos Project as Britain’s Battery (as well as education, STEM and agricultural trade) with an emphasis on renewable wind and wave technology.

Speaking of tartan, the new wave of export-led Scottish designers such as can only enrich an autonomous or independent Scotland.
Even I would suggest, Scotland develops Eire links of its own – Celtic Tigers if you will - with a Glasgow-Belfast-Dublin-Cork bridge and hispeed rail speeding up freight. The Institution of Engineers estimated 30% of UK HGV’s are travelling empty - and gridlocked in the Southern ports around Southampton, delaying trade to Scotland and Ireland.

Scotland voted IN and is already seeking an independence referendum again after barely a year – so as to remain in the EU. Silence on whether Brexit would mean border controls at Hadrians Wall again.

While Northern Ireland, the only UK region with a land border with the EU and Eire, (unless you count Kent and its Euroregion as well as Calais Jungle/Chunnel) is raising the prospect of a reunification referendum with Eire. In the anniversary year of the Easter Rising that led to Irish independence, and the years ahead of the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 that created peace from the Troubles, perhaps that’s fitting.

Those Brits with Irish and Scottish heritage, such as myself, might well be considering an Eire or Scottish passport and citizenship to retain access to the EU along with close and friendly relations with our family of nations.

Britain’s expats in the EU are already questioning the value of freedom to work, travel, live, study and do business from Brexit. For example, will the E111 free healthcare abroad be revoked as with other non-EU nations?

Spain – mired in a similar electoral quandary - with another election in 6 months, no doubt keen to prop up 50% youth unemployment and Med refugees costs, with savings on the 1M Brit expat healthcare, and already moving to urge reunification with Gibraltar and considering tighter border control again rather than say an open Gibraltar and road-rail bridges and links to Morocco and the rest of North Africa as part of the Med Partnership raised by Sarkozy.

Certainly Brexit has resolved the question of the economic value of the EU to UK:

• the worst one day fall in the pound in 30 years
• a stock market crash in France and Italy
• Britain plc downgraded to negative credit ratings for investment
• main banks such as HSBC suffering a 30% fall in shares
• the Bank of England rushing to implement a £250BN(!) emergency fund – handy to know there’s money to prop up the banks again as Britain, and possibly Europe, slides into a deeper recession or at the very least continued recession

Politically, though, the Brexit has turned into a farce.

Within minutes of the Pyrrhic announcement Brexit began to unravel:

• the resignation of PM Cameron - with Europe claiming yet another Tory PM scalp
• Boris and Gove declaring victory but looking as if they’d lost – and the horrifying prospect of explaining there is no plan for Brexit. Nothing.
• astonishing infighting within Labour with the sacking of Hilary Benn Shadow foreign secretary and wave upon wave of c.20 shadow cabinet resignations ahead of a vote of no confidence in Corbyn
• the Greens facing a leadership election anyway with the quiet resignation of Bennett a few weeks ago
• Libdems invisible in the campaign and already shrunken to just 8 MP’s
• questions over the continued existence of UKIP after Brexit – and the new Chair dispute unresolved

While the UKIP-led Brexit platform unravelled within minutes: no £350M of funds to the NHS – indeed funds to the EU may well continue as before in a Single Market arrangement, Hannan MEP confirming immigration won’t be reversed and unlikely to be slowed or halted, Farage changing his mind that he’s lost and now won again and that there’s likely to be a recession but it’s OK, and Carswell, holding his nose at having to deal with Farage, confirming that with 13% of the vote in the last election UKIP is unlikely to have much influence in a new election.

While if that wasn’t enough, within a weekend calls for a 2nd referendum (originally created by Leave when they thought they’d lost) gathered almost 3M votes to Remain.

Britain in week 1 of Brexit looks divided and incompetently governed. Moving from First World to Third World: tipping from the 5th largest economy to the 6th largest in days, with a weaker economy, losing the trust of major corporations such as Nissan and Hitachi for investment. HSBC already preparing to relocate 1,000 workers on the Euro markets to Paris or Frankfurt. And the Tata Steel deal for Wales placed on hold and so on.

While the Chancellor has disappeared and likely to be involved in the caretaker cabinet reshuffle with delays if not paralysis on any new budget, decisions on Heathrow 3rd runway, Northern Powerhouse, HS2/3 and even Operation Stack.

For, in Kent, Brexit follows much the same pattern as the rest of the UK. The percentage of pensioners voting is slightly higher but to be expected in a retirement region already stagnating, and the vote for Remain is higher around the 60% mark. But still the same massive Generation Split with the younger generations (the future of Kent after all) wanting to remain.

While the absence of a Brexit Plan and new PM and new general election (gone are the days of UK PM’s being appointed by the party and simply continuing) will deepen and extend any recession and affect key industries such as tourism. Why would European tourists want to risk visiting a destabilised UK and Kent and possibly currency and ATM problems? UK expats are already seeing one pound to one euro exchange rates and Greek ATM controls on sterling for UK tourists.
The Calais Jungle could well be moved to Dover. Why would France want to cooperate with a non-EU nation, that's the whole point of the EU cooperation agreements?

Although a UK recession may well reduce immigration - and increase emigration.

Kent would face calls such as the absurd situation in Cornwall where a Leave vote instantly leads to the county council calling for more UK funds to replace the lost EU funds! Cornwall, as with Kent and Newcastle and Liverpool and Hull being one of the regions that has consistently befitted from EU funds – whether that’s the Sea2Sea ferries or Channel Tunnel or more local projects such as Thames Crossing or Paramount or Thames Gateway.

Those EU funding taps will be turned off.

While UKIP-Kent at KCC, TDC or RTC has hardly achieved anything in the last 5 years. Not even it's own manifesto on Manston, let alone improving regeneration and securing UK or EU funds. Nothing.

The analogy with UKIP-UK is clear as with the NHS £350M claims: lots of hyperbole to won an election and then brazen backtracking if not rot and decline and inaction.

Even Crossrail in London benefitted from a £1BN EU loan of the sort that’s important for cross-Europe transport links whether the autobahns to Moscow or Istanbul or hispeed rail or airport overhaul and safety.

Kent Police may well want to consider the purchase of an armoured car already – less as a command and control vehicle than riot control - for what could well be a long, hot, summer of discontent and confusion through to a new Tory Leader by the Tory conference in October. And simultaneous Labour and Green leadership elections. And then a new general election in late 2016 or early 2017.

Certainly Kent's universities and languages and schools would be bracing for the decline in international students - why wouldn't say Scottish universities scoop up more candidates?

Undoubtedly rejecting the EU referendum (the vote isn’t binding or law without Parliament’s approval) so to remain in the EU will be a key policy of many if not most of the political parties. Even a Brexit policy is likely to be fluff and facesaving quibbles meaning no real change in UK membership of the EU.
There’s even an argument, given rather silly calls for London independence, that East Kent despite being a hotbed of UKIP support would eventually seek an autonomous arrangement as a part of Europe’s only cross-border county.

Certainly that’s no more absurd than claims of Gibraltar or the Falklands as British territory or the jerrymandered sectarian fudge of the truncated Six Counties of Ulster.

Brexit has exposed the value of Europe to many people, the danger of losing the close political, diplomatic and economic and cultural ties. And Generation Split with younger people wanting to remain in Europe.

The damage is already incalculable with weeks and months if not years of delay and incompetence to be revealed.

The USA and John Kerry are already signalling support for the Special Relationship…with Germany. Why wouldn’t USA focus on Europe’s largest economy, the political and trade links, and in the heart of Europe and the EU?

They even speak good English.

While with Operation Anakonda16 and Rapid Trident (and the USA bases and troops for Europe and Africa in Germany) from the Channel ports to the Ukraine and Crimean borders is a US-EU focus, prior to Russian and Turkish accession to the EU.

Brexit Britain looks brittle and confused, even before Article 50 is invoked, in comparison as EU27 and USA concentrates on a united Europe with Bosnia and Serbia and Albania.

After a year of Corbyn nothing has been done and I was astonished at how few of the Shadow Cabinet I actually knew.

Certainly wiser and more capable heads are needed such as May and Fox, or Benn (who didn't then stand against Corbyn for Leader), Hodge, Onwurah, Blackman-Woods and Creasy, and Lucas and the aforementioned Sturgeon and Salmond and Robertson could be surer hands on the tiller than the sinking hulk left by Boris and Gove and Corbyn and Farage.

While a revitalised Cameron focus from the Lords on trade could help stop some of the damage that will ripple outwards for years.

Trending on Twitter is the hashtag #whathavewedone and you might well ask.

Time for Garbutt KCC leader 2017 and MP 2020 – or is that 2016 or 2017?

What an utter, utter mess.

Time for Change.

* Sincerity article: Soda Wars go pop

* Surin Charity: Malaria a brief thought:

* Sincerity article on Coca-Cola:

* 21st century Britain agenda article:

* No Tobacco Day Smoking Sincerity article:

* EK Remedial points 2016:

* EK strategy 2016:

* Time for a Free Economy article:

* Surin restaurant review: top Thai restaurant in Kent:

- Surin Thai restaurant the best Thai restaurant in Kent and one of only 45 of any cuisine in Kent according to KM:

* The Bridges of Battambang to follow

Tim’s titbits:

• Who should pop up last week in the BHS pension scandal with Philip Green and Chappell…Lord Grabiner of Britain’s most corrupt barristers One Essex Court with Glick QC and Hollingworth. Grabiner it seems was Chair of BHS (appointed by his brother the CEO – you couldn’t make this up could you) although didn’t turn up for many of the Board meetings when the pensions black hole was created. Frank Field referred to his diminishing reputation while Private Eye described him as “a boiled old sausage” for the previous LIBOR scandal he led for the Bank of England while the Financial Times described him as “Lord Grabafee”. More later, but as Vince Cable stated, what an advertisement for British business – and now the rather rancid High court these scoundrels make.

• Common Ground: a superb initiative by advertising supremo Martin Sorrell and Climate/Presidential expert Al Gore with Ban Ki-Moon the outgoing UN Secretary-general for the 6 main advertising groups to take on the UNSDG30 goals with broad themes:
o WPP: Gender (quite an easy one both strategically and creatively for agencies of the scale and skill of WPP – whether the Norway 40% role, or a Woman on Mars by 2030 under the UN flag or FGM/Child Marriage)
o Havas- Climate
o IPG - Water
o Omnicom – Education
o Dentsu - Health
o Publicis – Food (waste/source/share)
o And a cluster of other issues for other agencies such as Refugees and Immigration and Isolation/Separation
• I’ve already raised Surin School Charity with Omnicom as ideal for case study and promotion
• And, without, unravelling all the UNSDG30 goals and c.170 sub-goals, certainly goals 8-12 are omitted so far but ideal for agency consideration, whether Sincerity or not, in terms of consumption, sustainable economies and cities etc
• Common Ground is a massive initiative that the ad agencies – with their clients - are leading on and need your support over the next 15 years: more later
• While, as I’ve written before, there are some major gaps in the UNDG30 goals: Space, War and more effort needed on killers such as tobacco: 5M deaths every year and Cancer: 8M deaths every year and 39M blind people globally. Issues I’ve highlighted with Discovery Science Park and all 130 University Chairs for Cancer, Cataracts, DNA etc required

• A really superb effort though by WPP and the main ad agencies: more later but look out for dynamic brands in UK supermarkets near you such as Lucky Iron Fish in Cambodia and Unilever’s Lifebuoy soap and handwashing in Ethiopia

• Interesting research on #STEM that physics is boys’ 4th most favourite subject and 19th for girls, while 46% of UK schools don’t send any girls to study physics (never mind brain surgeons or rocket scientists) – a massive failure for education and pharma #STEM

Time for Change

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

RapeNation. RapeKent. What a fucking disgrace.

114 rapes reported in 2015 in Thanet.

3 convictions.

What a fucking disgrace.

A detection rate of around 2.5%.

What a fucking disgrace.

One Rape Crisis Maidstone, c.2 hours’ drive away.

What a fucking disgrace.

The West Kentification of KCC by Leader Carter. No wonder Maidstone has appalling traffic jams - all the public sector offices are there. A basic failure that the Whitehall out of Whitehall programme is overcoming nationally with Salford Media City etc.

East Kent funds it and West Kent gets it. Whether it’s roads or schools or hospitals or bumf jobs. What have our elderly kippers such as Latchford and Heales and Shonk achieved except Cancer Victim coverups at Manston and Thor?

442 rapes in East Kent in 2015 – and 65 still being investigated over a year later.

What a fucking disgrace.

100,000 rapes in RapeNation UK last year – the highest ever.

What a fucking disgrace.

A national detection rate of 5% - unchanged in almost 30 years.

What a fucking disgrace.

The Broadstairs rape lawyer writing to a victim to call her a liar…then their client admits in court they raped her after all. Who is that lawyer and law firm?
DCI Max “Minimum” Davidson of Kent Sex Crime Division says rape is a very difficult crime to solve. Gosh. Well I never. You don’t say. And water is wet.
You don’t need to go to Hendon, or get Paul “Marlon” Brandon’s PredPol Cops back from Vegas to give their crystal balls a rub, to work that one out.
Appalling rape statistics. Who is running Kent Police? Chief Pughsley or Peter Sutcliffe?

What a fucking disgrace.

And what is The Boy Police Commissioner Matthew Scott doing in his first few weeks? We have gun-nuts in Orlando with USA’s worst massacre given the loose gun controls, and now the first killing of an MP, since the IRA in 1990, with another gun-nut, and Kent awash with machineguns in the UK’s largest hauls.
Yet The Boy PCC is crumbling to the gun lobby in handing over £39,000…to speed up issuing gun licences rather than ensuring tighter controls and that all Kent’s population have rapid access to a Rape Crisis Centre near them.

What a fucking disgrace.

The same with Mental Health units and Orphan/OAP Care Homes and Homeless hostels. Een hospitals that aren’t filthy would be a start.
The Boy PCC needs to raise his game if that’s the best he can do, swanning in as a Tory MP teaboy rather than making sure the police perform.
And it would be interesting to detail the number of cop-on-cop incidents ie the police suing each other on the public dime and time? Whether it’s tripping over the kerb or stung by bumblebees or words of advice shifting them onto non-jobs for the pension?

When I stood as PCC before refusing to support the Kent corruption of Infratil and TDC monitors and Thor mercury contamination, the gun lobby was the main vociferous lobbying voice. The Boy PCC is kow-towing to them already.

Kent Police aren’t corrupt, like many of Kent’s councils and politicians, with being involved in the Infratil and Thor crimes – but they’ re stood on the sidelines preferring inaction.

And with Hillsboro (2 S.Yorks Chiefs resigning in a day – one being investigated by Kent Police), Deepcut-Surrey Police and now Orgreave and Birmingham Six retrials it’s hardly a good year for policing. Never mind the Goldfinger shotgun-heart attack or CementMixerDrowning or Manston-Ostend IranAir and gunrunning/drugs flights, or Essex Police affiliated with Kent through the Serious Crime Squad.

Will Kent Police be cooking up a Hillsboroesque story about the Infratil and TDC monitors and cancer victims caused by Berry and Button and Sproates?
Maybe drunk Scousers removed the pollution monitors and faked the data for years?

Maybe helping TDC and legal beagle Howes to shred the evidence?

Maybe investing in some wipe-clean Met notebooks to fix the Thor pollution data too?

Maybe Beggs QC for Surrey Police at Deepcut could be funded on the rates with support from crooked barristers and lawyers like Hollingworth and Glick QC at One Essex Court and Palmer Biggs and Downs Law?

Maybe some tame or best mate judges such as Lord Grabiner QC of One Essex Court could dismiss these crimes all as stuff and nonsense?
But for £300M budget a year and 6,000 cops and clerks (and more with the CPS and Courts), maybe the Kent Police Rape Cops should be back handing out parking tickets or picking up litter, if a 5% detection rate is the best they can do.

Certainly Special Branch could be doing more than putting elected councillors on a mysterious Domestic Extremist Database or wiretapping MP’s such as Caroline Lucas. What are the Burberry Boys of Special Branch doing? Follow councillors back from the town hall or MP’s from parliament?

They’d be better off following the Kent Police Rape Cops and see what they’re doing.

The sooner this Domestic Extremist Database is revealed the better, and Kent Police and Special Branch’s role in it. Which councillors and MP’s knew of it and saw it?

That’s a lot of Burberry overcoats and The Sex Cops trailing after elected councillors and shagging demonstrators.

And 1:1 cops and clerks is an outrageously high backoffice skew, ripe for Kent, Surrey, Sussex mergers to reduce the 43 forces. And another 43 Fire Office-Police mergers needed given only 400 UK fire deaths a year (a dozen or so in Kent and South East?).

We already have an ineffective desk-bound Coastguard wasting budget on expensive offices and pretty uniforms on the rates - and calling out the charitable RNLI to do the work.
While FOI Finchy and Million dollar Millington’s fancy fire station garage instead of a swimming pool is absurd waste.

The Courts granting a year’s extension (and at least 3 years in prosecuting Steve Uncles of the English Democrats for the previous election(!) and voterigging scandal) after last year’s Tory election fraud with LocalCraig (and him a Chatham magistrate as well as an MP) etc bussing in rent-a-crowd supporters from Central Office due to inaction suggests a police force and Courts asleep at the wheel – or rather scared to put their senior pensions in harm’s way.

While 5% is unbelievably feeble - even worse than random or fitup – almost as if they’re trying to let rapists wander free.

What will it take to get an arrest? A rapist wandering into a police station with his pants round his ankles, and wiping his cock on The Desk Sergeant’s shirt-tails?

So many tasers and trousers and cars and helicopters and pensions and forensic kits and guns and salaries and bodycameras yet so few rapists arrested.

RapeNation. RapeKent. A fucking disgrace.

Time for Carter to Go.

Garbutt for KCC Leader 2017
Time for Change

* Sincerity article: Soda Wars go pop

* Surin Charity: Malaria a brief thought:

* Sincerity article on Coca-Cola:

* 21st century Britain agenda article:

* No Tobacco Day Smoking Sincerity article:

* EK Remedial points 2016:

* EK strategy 2016:

* Time for a Free Economy article:

* Surin restaurant review: top Thai restaurant in Kent:

- Surin Thai restaurant the best Thai restaurant in Kent and one of only 45 of any cuisine in Kent according to KM:

* The Bridges of Battambang to follow

1. Broken Kent Elections #1: at last a reply from Nadeem Aziz the Dover Council CEO and PCC Returning officer some 6 weeks (and with a £60k fee remember for what mot would describe as a basic election task of a council CEO) after raising the issue of henry Bolton the leaky borders UKIPper illegally standing as a serving civil servant and why Fergus’ forms were rejected for not being hand-delivered(!). It only took the Electoral Commission and OESCE observers to raise it too…

2. Broken Kent Elections #2: the increasingly slippery and incompetent Tim Howes legal beagle at TDC making up excuses for using in the EU referendum illegal letterheads – as specified by the Electoral Commission. A basic lack of competence that only P45 reform can resolve…

3. Broken Kent Election #3: no news as yet from the TDC Election Clerk (as point 2) on why the TDC/RTC election forms were only notified an hour before the deadline(!)

4. Breaking news: Broken Election #3.1 – my spies tell me there is after all a separate RTC election with a handwritten(!) notice of 9th June and deadline of 24th June for 21st July election (via Madeline Homer Returning Officer at TDC again). Who knew? And why only 2 weeks’ notice for candidates yet then 4 weeks before the election? Surely it should be the other way round – and detailed on the RTC and TDC websites? A medieval muddle and shambles. At least we know the TDC and RTC (and KCC) elections are separate not just a tool for doublehatters to crowd out democracy. The public should refuse to vote for any doublehatter. Indeed, any candidate without a written manifesto.

5. Broken Election #4: no news from TDC CEO and Returning Officer Madeline Homer on why/how non-national elections ballot boxes are stored overnight without being counted? Maybe it’s not important.

6. Quite frankly we need OESCE election observers in Kent given these feeble performances – maybe from another Third World nation like Chad?

7. Too corrupt Kent councils: OLAF EU fraud silence, White Finger Scandal Silence, Sands Hotel Dreamland court cases silence, 100SE Rd garden grabbing silence – why haven’t councillors insisted all these details are released? They’re all funded by the taxpayer so why should they be hidden. If they’re court cases then the documents need to be checked the council isn’t making things up…I doubt the councillors have even seen or approved any of these cases. Or even the accounts and salaries and pensions and expenses…

8. Remain is the only sensible choice in the Brexit debate with over 90% of economists, businesses, banks, Bank of England, organisations such as IMF etc all citing Britain being worse off with Leave. But especially feeble of George Osborne in Kent to cite Operation Stack being cancelled if Britain leaves. Is that it? Supposedly no impact on science or university research and exchanges? Or on Kent’s language schools and tourism industries?

9. While the Out arguments on immigration are laughable racism. UK expats in EU are almost the same as EU immigrants at c.2-3M. I was surprised there’s only c.50k EU bureaucrats – about the same as at KCC. While its desperation to be PC rather than Racist, to suggest that Jamaican or Indian rocket scientists are being banned from Britain from because of an EU priority. Where are the hordes of Jamaican rocket scientists when you need them? As feeble as the scare tactic of every Romanian or Bulgarian and now Turk moving to UK. Much of UKIP such as TDC’s NegroRoz or GolliwogBertie would want them all banned anyway. And City trader Farage all too willing to divert from quibbles on the Euro to descend to racist depravity with hatred of HIV patients previously and now the Breaking Point poster of Syrian refugees. Rightly condemned by politicians of all sides and even the Archbishop of Canterbury – with Farage sidelined throughout the Brexit debates. Vote IN – and for massive EU reform ie Sarajevo Shift to support and fund prosperity in the Balkans, and end wasteful symbolism such as the Strasbourg Shuffle. Or don’t bother – the debates have been weak and the result will be within a percentage point or two, so no great victory either way, and rather ho-hum after almost 6 months of nothing much.

10. Rather it’s the end of Boris as a mainstream politician, and no doubt we’ll have resignation countdowns from Farage and Cameron for successors. Probably Corbyn too in a few months. The 2015 election and now EU Referendum has shown the weakness of the current crop of UK politicians. Probably only John Major and Michael Gove have had anything approaching a competent election.

11. Astonishing research by former Cllr Driver on the Parkway-Manston railstation, bizarrely still being discussed at KCC some 2 years after Manston closed? What must the conversation be each month when that appears again on the agenda given there is no airport? Where is the £17M on the Parkway being spent? Tea and talking shop biscuits for bureaucrats? Abysmal County Planning as usual nothing more than vanity projects involving pouring cement.

12. Dismal too that former RoboCop now RoboGob Mallon and SHP Stone Hill Park is trundling along – again with the Gloag missing fines and contamination information and aquifer protection, and half-empty/nonpharma jobs at Discovery Park. An idiotic New Town overbuild project worthy of KCC Leader Carter’s last days... before the May 2017 KCC election. And all the more appalling that the next-door Thanet Earth greenhouses are the second-worst light polluter in UK(!) narrowly pipped to that unwanted prize by Tata Rotherham steelworks(!). They don’t have blackout blinds at Thanet Earth? And interesting from aerial photos, they seem to have dug into the (polluted) drinking water aquifer for reservoirs for their tomatos…

13. On talking shops: astonishing that the Commonwealth hasn’t already specified the end of the death penalty in Commonwealth for all crimes, and for gay and disabled rights in Africa and FGM Female Genital Mutilation mainly in East Africa and modern slavery/trafficking. Why are the Commonwealth and African Union dragging their heels? These are minimal problems now to be swept away along with the half-dozen Last Dictators of Africa and Central Asia – and UK and EU sanctions and DFID aid should be leading the way and with a tax havens ban in UK overseas colonies.

14. Terrific the Space buzz around Tim Peake’s mission – and well done to the East Kent schools involved in Space #STEM research and Space foods/seeds. Superb as UK seeks to develop its Space Industries such as Space Junk clearance, weather satellites and Space Ladder. How astonishing that over 60 years of satellites still hasn’t yet girdled the Sun and every planet with dozens of sensors?

15. The P53 genome causes most (about 50%) cancers and tumours – where is the NHS DNA rollout, cyberknives in hospitals (I’ve written on this before, but also detailed now in The Sunday Times with the Imperial College Hamlyn Centre), and globally coordinated research programme to fix this, and thus most of the 8M cancer deaths a year? When are these RoboDocs and iKnives rolled out to NHS hospitals rather than noodling around forever on research?

16. Surely soda/sugar manufacturers would speed up introduction of diet sodas (about 50% of the market already) if the half-dozen supermarkets eg Tesco etc that make up 90% of the food sales market in UK specified it as a SKU/shelf stocking policy? All sodas should be the diet versions within a year. The taste differences are minimal and diabetes/obesity benefits massive. And the supermarkets could easily draw up and publicise and label a list of their highest fat etc products for public review? It would take a matter of moments. Breakfast cereals and health bars seem notorious for hidden sugar. Just as the pressure is on for the UK supermarkets to be the first to end tobacco sales as did Walgreens in USA. One for the good folks at Waitrose? While schools and vending machines in sports centres and hospitals should only stock diet soda.

17. The good folks at Venomtech at Discovery Park could be developing #STEM vaccines for 40k deaths from Rabies in India as well as supplies for UK hospitals. One too for the good folks at Rotary and Lions (still a horrifying 39M blind globally for lack of specs and cataract expertise/vaccines) after the massive success of polio vaccination. 2015 the first year ever for polio-free Africa. And only Pakistan and Afghanistan left with a few dozen polio cases.

18. Just as the good folks at Panasonic, as part of the Kent-Benelux Strategy, could be developing P53 genome technology in bathroom mirrors and electric toothbrushes, or toilets and sinks and handheld devices.

19. Cambodia Rail: PhnomPenh-Sihanoukville route to the coast/port now open and I understand work commencing on an HCMC route although I have no details as yet. 2 years for links through to Bangkok? And then the Kwai-Yangon link again?

20. Riots in Papua New Guinea over calls for more democracy and prosperity. And calls for an EU-ASEAN trade focus, and defence overhaul, given the EU HQ in BKK and the first US-ASEAN Summit in April with a tech focus from Microsoft etc. Another reason why Brexit would create a diminished and underperforming Little England.

21. Astonishing statistics on the debate over a Hong Kong handover of the Falklands: only 570 children under 15 (and only 144 people in all of West Falkland) – I’m no demographics expert but surely this is both massively unsustainable, and likely to lead to problems of inbreeding and incest that plagued the Pitcairns?

22. Bizarre an RNLI quad bike driving up and down Ramsgate Blue Flag beach: noisy and dangerous and pointless, and part of the syndrome of beach and prom becoming roads and carparks: reg no. WG63 HCL and NippersNook W445 YSB – best to clamp then and tow them away.

23. Similarly with Pleasurama best to tear the wall down: it will never be built and it’s just an eyesore while the Pavilion and Wetherspoons (notorious for Tesco-style chain pubs and zero hours contracts) is mere rigged sales as with the Slipways and Dreamland. Same Old Corrupt and Coverup TDC under Wells and Shonk and Homer. Weren’t they meant to be a breath of fresh air and new broom rather than the same stale pensioners letting East Kent stagnate and rot?

Time for Change

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Queen's 90th. Time for Royal Reform in UK.

Tim Garbutt, KCC Leader 2017 and MP2020 candidate said:

"The Queen's 90th Birthday today marks the end of era.

With Queen Elizabeth as one of the world's longest-reigning monarchs, beaten only by the King of Thailand now in his 70th Anniversary of reign, it's time to reflect on Royal reform.

Clearly the sycophantic delight in the Queen walking and talking and breathing harks back to a medieval Britain that ended in 1649 and 1688, if not earlier with Magna Carta, rather than the 21st century.

It's time for 21st century Royal reforms:

* end the Military Oath to the Royals for an Oath to Parliament and Public - the Royals have no roles except ceremony ie the Queen-in-Parliament. The military reports to Parliament.

* end the last Hereditary Lords: how absurd that the only Lords election as it becomes a Senate since 1999's reforms is for the last 92 Hereditary Lords to elect their replacement as they die off

* end the Empire designation in medals and all Royal titles eg Baron etc - Prince Charles has already called for this. Britain has no Empire, and hasn't for decades, except tax havens and fragments of colonies such as the Falklands and Gibraltar

* reduce the Civil List to 5 Royals (and reduce the hundreds of butlers and courtiers on the rates) as in Spain and open all royal palaces/houses eg Sandringham to the National Trust and public

* end Royal sinecures such as the Lords Lieutenants and 70(!) Deputies tripping over each other in each of the counties - ceremonial bloat along with the Council Chairmen etc

* replace the Royal Dieu et mon droit crest etc, in public buildings with Union Jack and Parliamentary portcullis

Britain's Royals have minimal, if any roles, in a modern nation - while Commonwealth, and charitable and tourism functions such as Princess Diana and landmines or Prince Charles and Climate Change, and faces on coins and stamps, are useful but not essential as most nations have found.

And the Royals funded from Kent's public purse have no practical function on say Infratil corporate manslaughter at Manston or Thor mercury cancer victim contamination, or even fraudulent Kent elections and crooked barristers and lawyer and judges such as Lord Grabiner and One Essex Court or Dungeness and Belgian nuclear contamination. Their subjects have no role except funding waving and patting corgis.

While the variances now on UK law whether Scottish votes at 16, free tuition fees or Caribbean Commonwealth death penalties or even the continuation of the Union Jack for the Scottish saltire make a mockery of the Royals as a uniting institution.

Perhaps Scandinavian bicycling Royals are nearer the mark for a modern nation.

A Royal rubberstamp to perpetuate themselves is an irrelevance in 21st century Britain.

Time for Royal reform."

Time for Change.


* Sincerity article: Soda Wars go pop

* Surin Charity: Malaria a brief thought:

* Sincerity article on Coca-Cola:

* 21st century Britain agenda article:

* No Tobacco Day Smoking Sincerity article:

* EK Remedial points 2016:

* EK strategy 2016:

* Time for a Free Economy article:

* Surin restaurant review: top Thai restaurant in Kent:

- Surin Thai restaurant the best Thai restaurant in Kent and one of only 45 of any cuisine in Kent according to KM:

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

An EU Army – again? And Kent Corrupt elections.

One of the more interesting scare tactics to emerge in the last month from the Brexit debate was the fear of an EU Army. Strangely both sides, Remain and Out, rushed to deny such a thing, and they‘d be against it anyway even if it did exist. No doubt amidst fears of British Tommies being goosestepped around by the Hun.

Or wave after wave of Eurocrats in tanks landing at the White Cliffs of Dover to take over completely. Perhaps only presaged by a scouting force of Albanians at Dymchurch.

But, such silliness aside (and isn't the debate dull, and Boris increasingly ludicrous with his silly gags?), an EU Army not only exists already, but has done for decades - if not for centuries.

An EU Franco-German Brigade of 5,000 troops exists in Strasbourg, although admittedly that’s largely for ceremonial symbolism and show. But rather that, than another hundred years of the tribalism, with France and Germany at each other’s throats. That's what a fledgling European Union was designed to prevent with a Coal and Steel Union after the carnage of both World War 1 and 2 that destroyed most of Europe and North Africa.

Perhaps now a Solar and Wave Union would be more relevant, with even Saudi Arabia’s 2030 plan downplaying oil for the likes of Desertec solar. Even oil-rich Norway moving to electric cars only by 2025.

Yet with the EU Army, there’s also the EU BattleGroups with 18 Brigades each of 1,500 troops from at least two EU nations in rotation every 6 months – including British troops serving as of 2005, 2008 and 2010.

And the British Commander at one point was David Leakey now Black Rod in Parliament so an EU Army can hardly be a surprise to any UK politician.

The current 6 month tour of duty for the EU BattleGroups is the Visegrad Group of Hungary, Czech, Slovak and Ukraine. And then for the rest of 2016 there’s the Central Group of Germany, Czech, Belgium, Eire, Luxembourg and Croatia.

And yes, you read two of those nations correctly: Croatia the most recent EU member already taking part in its military functions. As is Ukraine although not yet an EU member – and nonEU members such as Norway and Turkey also take part in the Groups as does Macedonia. The latter, as with Ukraine not even a NATO member yet.

And the EU Army also has the EuroForce of c.2-4,000 troops deployed since 2002 in Macedonia, Congo, Chad and Central African Republic.

And all that is without the rather arcane distinction of whether NATO forces in action, without a USA or even Canadian component, are an EU force. Certainly USA troop and bases cutbacks in Europe and the new US Central Command for Africa are designed to encourage Europe to take on more of its defence and planning.

There’s even a EUGendarmerie force, since 2006, of c.3,000 riot police/troops from at least 5 nations – handy for the collapse of Greece, Spain and Southern Italy after both the Recession and Refugee failures.

And there‘s the EU Navy, primarily coordinating individual nation’s ships, for the Mediterranean now and Somalia before that. An EU Airforce seems the only main element missing, albeit with ship-borne helicopters filling that role and NATO again.

Indeed the only EU nations that don’t take part in the EU Army at all are Denmark and Malta, although both are in NATO.

With Germany seeking to end its conscription of troops as wasteful and pointless, there’s an argument that Europe requires only the 3,000 BattleGroup troops and Riot gendarmerie for internal security, and the EuroForce for MENA deployment. The question then being why is Europe funding an extra 1M troops in its various militaries to sit in barracks with little to do beyond Europe, and nothing to do in Europe?

Brexit would raise the prospect of the UK having no oversight of an EU Army – and bearing a fuller cost for the UK's own military. The Cold War peace dividend took decades, if all to occur, while recent NATO claims of requiring 2% of GDP looks weak if even Germany is around the 1.3% mark and seeking to reduce its costs.

NATO specifying NATO'as tax-take is of course fraught with difficulties...

And it certainly raises questions why UK is already paying 2.5% of GDP for the UK military.

And even predating the formation of NATO in 1949 (and some years before a fully-fledged EU) is the WEU Western European Union formed from 1948 and comprised of 7 nations including UK. The WEU as an EU Army in effect came into being before the EU itself.

And the WEU lasted from until in 2011 when it was subsumed into the new EU Security Policy. And it certainly was active in 1999 for the only use of military force in Europe over Kosovo.

So as you can see an EU Army (and one of several components) not only exists but has done for decades and has been deployed in Europe mainly for training and abroad for peacekeeping.

While EU peacekeeping forces are active as both a police and military function in Somalia and Sudan along with UN peacekeeping troops – now augmented by UK troops for the first time in decade.

It may well be post-Putin, given the Georgia and Ukraine conflicts and Baltic threats, that Russia joins the EU (as well as Turkey and Ukraine) but certainly not impossible, and again likely to require another wave of disarmament in Europe.

While the North African and Levant nations are likely candidates for EU Accession too as part of the Mediterranean Partnership and as with the Chad and Kony war crimes, a resurgent African Union and EU-ICC must crackdown on the last few dictators such as Bashir, Assad and Obiang and the last few Presidents-for Life in Africa and Central Asia.

And even before WEU it’s worth remembering the very real contribution of the Brexiters main enemy of the moment, the Poles. Not for nothing is Polish the main foreign language in UK now or the recent Polish blood donations amidst the scaremongering of first 19M Romanians or 7M Bulgarians and now 75M Turks – the whole populations for those countries supposedly shifting to Brent or Bradford.

British troops landing at Sword Beach in June 1944 did so under the watchful eye of not one but five Polish Navy warships: ORP Blyskewica, ORP Dragon, ORP Krakowiak, ORP Piorun and ORP Slazak. And alongside the troops of the 1st Polish Armoured Division. Polish troops that would also launch into the air over Arnhem knowing the battle was in danger of being lost.

Those Polish troops carried the same insignia of eagle’s wings on their uniforms as 300 years previously in resisting the Turkish advance on Vienna, that as with D-Day itself formed the basis of modern Europe.

While the troops that relieved the tremendously brave airborne assault on the Merville Battery and Orne Pegasus Bridge were 3 Troop of 6 Commando. A vital task in preventing (as with Kent’s role in Operation Fortitude with General Patton) a tsunami of the 22 divisions of German panzers held in reserve, sweeping down from Calais and across the invasion beaches.

3 Troop were an EU army in microcosm of Belgians, Dutch, Norwegians and Poles again and the X Troop of German Jewish refugees given English names and CofE religious disks in case of capture.

And overhead the Spitfire pilots of Czechoslavakia and Poland - and of course French, American and Canadian soldiers and sailors and pilots. How very different in that June 6th, compared to now, was the perception of a proto-NATO and an European Army Allied to liberation and freedom, not one of fear and hatred.

While a European army of alliances goes back even further, whether in the killing fields of the Somme and French and British and Canadian troops – the latter based in Ramsgate, with the Canadian Red Army Cross hospitals in the converted tourist hotels and secret Richboro Port.

And all across Flanders fields the soldiers and sailors from USA, Japan, Thailand, China, Australia, New Zealand, Russia, Vietnam, Italy, Cambodia, Morocco, India, Senegal and Algeria.

Or further back, there’s the French and British and Turkish alliance for another war in Crimea.

And perhaps the most European Army of all, under the Duke of Wellington, launching from Ramsgate to Spain and Portugal and France, to stand with the Dutch and Germans and Russians to twice defeat Napoleon.

Another June day in 1815 that celebrated a European Army and European unity rather than the petty and divisive nationalism veering into racism of Farage’s Blackshirts that at worst besmirch Kent and Europe. Or at best prove to be a laughable saloon-bar Roderick Spode in French cuffs.

Indeed it’s not so outrageous to argue that an EU Army works best in restraining the USA in acting alone, given the wreckage of Iraq and Afghanistan and Libya and Yemen and Somalia and now Syria.

And perhaps the greatest failing of the Brexit debate is the case not being made for a Stronger Britain in a united Europe – certainly an EU reformed – and one looking out beyond a Fortress Europe and Fear of The Other drawbridge mentality, to unity with Turkey and Russia and the Levant and North African nations.

Time for Change

* Sincerity article: Soda Wars go pop

* Malaria a brief thought:

* Sincerity article on Coca-Cola:

* 21st century Britain agenda article:

* No Tobacco Day Smoking Sincerity article:

* EK Remedial points 2016:

* EK strategy 2016:

* Time for a Free Economy article:

* Surin restaurant review: top Thai restaurant in Kent:

- Surin Thai restaurant the best Thai restaurant in Kent and one of only 45 of any cuisine in Kent according to KM:

• A footnote on the appalling Little Ships remembrance in Ramsgate last week by Our Council of Duffers: interesting article by the Kent Messenger on the Dunkirk movie by Christopher Nolan I’d mentioned as relevant for my EKFOS project: the East Kent Film Office and Studio – why should all Kent film activity be centred on Maidstone Studios and Chatham Dockyard? And certainly with regeneration tanking we need a more diverse economy in East Kent than just tarmacking fields. but beyond that the KM highlighted, I’d forgotten to mention the horrific German war crimes of the Wormhoult barn massacre as well as the Le Paradis executions and Vinkt – British troops as well as Belgian civilians

• Good to see Margate High St having its pedestrian zone enforced by Kent Police: over 20 cars cluttering up the High St and endangering the public. As with Ramsgate pedzone and seafront and prom there’s no excuse (bizarrely the main culprits the TDC binvans and the kiosk owners) and ticketing/fines and then clamps/fines are needed. There’s no excuse I seaside towns

• Deepcut Scandal coroners ruling now issued for Cheryl James (one of 4 murder-suicides what were Surrey police and the Military Police doing, except coverup?)– the Army’s Shame BBC2 documentary - features in my previous manifesto (point 30, page 9 in the A5 version) if you want to doublecheck the details)
• Good to see the Chilcot inquiry report scheduled for publication

• Also 24/7 London tube services this Autumn – a very nice Royal Mint celebratory £1 Tube coin too and terrific plastic banknote designs of Churchill and Turner etc – increasingly I think Kent Orchid flowers should be recognised by the Royal Mint or GPO whether coins or stamps (fab Pink Floyd music stamps)

• Good too to see UK UN Peacekeeping now expanded in Somalia and Sudan. Time too for the UN police as those broken nations move beyond conflict to working together

• Similarly no excuse from TDC on delays to the Mo Leys TDC and RTC election: it seems the civil servants don’t believe in free and fair elections: reminders below for your view- I refuse to stand in this farce of an election a d rampant corruption - details later. All the more abysmal with Roger Gale MP having the brass neck to lecture Africans on their elections.

• My manifesto you can't vote for it: (blog post below) – and good to see Rotary and Lions with their fridge bottles/stickers for emergencies and Specsavers programme for specs to the Third World: 39M people blind and most of it avoidable with either vitamins, specs or cataracts. Where is the NHS and RN programme of hospital ships? I was astonished at an Africa conference that here is no specific programme for African doctors or nurses or those with an interest in Africa to coordinate with hospitals/NGO’s etc

• Dreamland: what a mess. Bust twice in 6 months – after being purchased by TDC taxfunds of £28M or more – who knows with TDC's dodgy figures and reports. Down to TDC’s usual incompetence and dodgy dealings – the same as Pleasurama BVI and Wetherspoons/Pav

• I often raise the issues of malaria nets: bought for $3 retail almost anywhere in the world – so with 600k deaths that would only be about $2M in nets needed – double or treble it if you like. It’s still peanuts when DFDI now has $20BN in funds?

• On that point, Discovery Park needs to focus its STEM work on AMR antibiotics as well as TB or malaria drugs – and East Kent need sot consider jobs beyond the labcoat in malaria net production and Kent University-CCU research programmes

• A Times article that the Dymchurch dinghy of smugglers was previously owned by….Kent Police. You couldn’t make it up could you? Their Princess Alexandra dinghy (a Royal navy-type RIB boat) had £350k spent on it then auctioned off for £100k then eventually bought by the smugglers….

• British Steel bumbling along: Scunthorpe now sold for £1 – a major UK strategic industry that needs better care, especially with the various towns’ reliance on just one industry – and concerning before the proper development of Graphene products

• An interesting Archbishop of Dover message on CofE and Buddhism: only 87 Buddhist temples in UK, an interesting BBCKent report too on Canterbury diocese with over 41% of priests over 60, the most in the CofE

• Bizarre decision of PCC Scott issuing £39k in funds for gun registration with Kent Police. Hardly a priority, with the onion ring or not. When I stood the gun lobby was by far the most vociferous, much as in USA. Yet Scotland now issues a ban/permit even on air rifles

• Silence on:

o 100 Se Rd – the Robert Fidler illegal planning castle now demolished so no excuse for illegal developments
o BVI Pleasurama and clearup
o Manston aquifer and Infratil/gloag-Stagecoach fines
o Howes censorship of councillor emails
o Port fraud police case
o HSE TDC White Finger scandal details
o Toni’s noisy newsagent and Amanda Button ASBO

• Misc points:

o Time for ASEAN expansion of Timor-Leste, Papua New Guinea and Solomons – desperate poverty in geographical and cultural proximity, and only c.8M population in total barely more than Laos or Singapore out of 600M, and no doubt precursors to formal Australia and New Zealand groupings with ASEAN

o Time for UK-Pacific Commonwealth Group too - whether part of G77 or not

o 33 Australian dead in the Vietnam War repatriated to Australia from graves in Malaysia and Singapore with CWG Commonwealth War Graves Commission – I was astonished at the shoddy care of the Long Thanh graves in Vietnam: presumably the Australian MOD (if all all) rather than the invariably excellent CWG

o A US-Vietnam arms treaty now reversing all the sanctions from the 1970’s onwards, and UK typhoon jets rotated to Japan and the new defence treaty given the tension over the Paracels and Spratlys and North Korea

Time for Change

Mega-Transport Projects and ASEAN:

Excellent news:

1. HS1 completed
2. HS2 and HS3 in planning
3. Crossrail completed
4. Crossrail #2 in planning
5. Shanghai-Madrid railway completed: c.10-12 day journey (upgrade to under 7 days)
6. Cambodia rail replacement underway; Poipet and Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville
7. BKK-PP-HCMC: the latter stretch to HCMC never built before WW2 and would link all the main ASEAN capitals through to Yangon(Kwai upgrade via Dawei/Tavoy) and India
8. ASEAN hispeed rail upgrade: all track in place but only single one-way track not double-track and not hispeed rail. Each of the main ASEAN nations is about the size of France
9. Vientiane-Vinh rail in Central Vietnam: links to DaNang port and Vinh as Haiphong #2 given the typhoons and large population of the Red River Delta, and to largest city in Laos and Northern Thailand. And links through to Pacific trade with Philippines and USA etc
10. Indonesia hispeed rail and bridges: 13,000 islands and a G20 nation of 250M and the length of London-Istanbul
11. Philippines: 7,107 islands
12. Australia hispeed rail: Cairns to Adelaide
13. Darwin to Timor-Leste road/rail bridge-tunnel
14. Cape York bridge to Papua New Guinea
15. Shanghai to Vancouver: overland via Baring Strait road/rail tunnel – linking London and New York and Santiago by land
16. Gibraltar road/rail bridge: lining London and Cape Town and Cairo by land
17. Cape Town to Cairo: last road/rail links through Sudan
18. Jeddah Red Sea bridge and Arabian hispeed rail (in progress): Kuwait to Cairo and Basra-Berlin again
19. Bari road/rail bridge: linking Southern Italy and Balkans/Istanbul
20. Space Ladder: Perth or Kazakhstan – link to ISS space station and Mars exploration/colonisation: first woman on Mars by 2030

ASEAN expansion: Timor-Leste, Papua New Guinea and Solomons, c.8M people
ASEAN-Pacific Commonwealth Group:
A. Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Solomons and Fiji
B. Myanmar and Timor-Leste – nb Cambodia previous unsuccessful application
C. Bangladesh, (Bhutan), Nepal, India and Sri Lanka
D. Canada, USA, Mexico, Chile, Nicaragua and Panama

Time for Eire-Scotland road rail: Cork-Dublin-Belfast-Glasgow: far faster freight route than via Southampton?

Time for Change