Revenge is a dish best served with reason and humanity.

Revenge is a dish best served with reason and humanity.

In his response to the terrible acts of terror perpetrated in Paris the French President, Francois Hollande promised that France would be “pitiless” in its response to terrorism and seek a “merciless’ revenge on the barbarians of Islamic State group.” I can understand this emotion. Watching the events unfold on the worlds media who could not feel a sense of outrage and anger towards those who had cut short the lives of so many innocent people. We feel this because we are human, and this feeling is a perfectly normal and predictable response. We do not however extend, or even attempt to understand, how this human response is generated by our own actions. When on the 29th September 130 people were slaughtered at a wedding ceremony in Yemen by the Saudi-led coalition, with weapons supplied by the West, how should their relatives and friends feel, never mind the ordinary citizens of Yemen? Do they now have the justification for merciless and pitiless revenge on the perpetrators of those killings? When the drones targeting al-Qaida leader Ayman Zawahiri, unleashed their payloads over a village in Pakistan called Damadola, killing 76 children and 29 adults, while missing their intended target, have they not also induced the human response of wanting revenge. The victims of ‘collateral damage’ in Afghanistan, Iraq and now Syria number in their tens of thousands. Each one the potential source for the human desire of retribution. Twitter is full of people, from all sides, who have never directly been affected by these events, calling for reciprocal acts of violence regardless of the consequences to other innocent people. I in no way mean to give a justification to the people who committed the atrocities in Paris, but neither do I believe that if we in our quest for vengeance kill other innocent people, even if unintentionally, it will do anything other than make the likelihood of further attacks more probable. The solution to defeating Islamic State is to prevent the flow of people associating with their cause. We do this by behaving within the realms of international law, working within the United Nations, maintaining and not eroding the human rights that we currently enjoy, and by treating all the victims of Islamic fundamentalism with the same sense of empathy and concern, not just those who live in the West. We will never defeat IS without the Islamic majority feeling that the West treats all members of the human race with equal humanity. At the moment there is a clear value difference given to the lives of victims of terror in the West and the lives of the collaterally damaged in the East. And for all those who will scream that it is the Islamic fundamentalists who are the greatest sinners, I whole heartedly agree, but just because they murder with impunity doesn’t mean we should.

Don’t be scared of Jeremy Corbyn.

We operate within an economic system devised by those who benefit from it most. New Labour believed that you could only win elections in the UK if you worked with this system and try to ameliorate its worse excesses. But the system is wrong. For the first time since WWII children are likely to be worse off than their parents, wages have stagnated, the domestic economy is driven by personal debt, and war and inequality have created a refugee crisis the like of which we have never seen. We need to change the system. Jeremy Corbyn has had the courage to face up to this reality. Change is natural, necessary, and how societies work. Small c conservatives may resist this change but sooner or later change will happen. It always does. I hope Jeremy Corbyn is the man who can begin this process.

I have a dirty secret.

I have a dirty secret

I have a dirty little secret. I want to share it with you. I know it’s not how most people think these days but… I love the EU. I don’t just mean Europe – the physical entity, with its fine wine, multitudinous cheeses and balmy weather – no, I mean the EU, The European Union, the institution. There I said it, I feel a lot better now. I don’t know what Nigel Farage will think of me. I am 50 years old, white, British and working class. He will have assumed that UKIP would be my natural home. He’ll probably think I’ve let him down, but I can’t help it, I love the EU. I like the idea, the concept. Nation States coming together and working out how best to co-operate and share the glorious privilege that being born on the continent of Europe bestows.

The EU has changed the way we think and the way we live. It has crept up on us so we haven’t really noticed. It is only when you look back the changes become apparent. I’ll give you an example: No working class man or woman in the 1970’s ever came home, poured them selves a large glass of red wine, plated up a generous portion of aubergine pasta bake and settled down in front of the TV. It didn’t happen. Not like now. In countless homes men and women are nightly drinking themselves into a satisfying stupor on £4.99 bottles of Cote du Rhone, unable to focus on the subtitles of the latest Scandinavian drama.

We have become more knowledgeable, more articulate and more experienced about the food and culture of Europe. When I was a child I considered a slice of pizza to be an exotic foreign delicacy. Like most families we survived on a strict diet of meat and two veg every day. The exception of course being Friday, when we’d crack open a box of fish fingers. Today the range of food available and our expectations of food have become much more in tune with the rest of the continent. We want it to be good.

So how did we get here?

In 1973 Britain joined what was then the European Economic Community (or Common Market). In 1975 we had a referendum to decide whether it was a good idea or not, and a whopping 67% majority thought that it was. To start with it just seemed to be just about farming and fishing quotas. In the 1980’s Margaret Thatcher got very cross about it but then integrated us even further. Somewhere a Cheese Mountain and a wine lake appeared, but on the whole I for one didn’t pay it a great deal of attention. No doubt the EEC was changing our lives, but the pace of change was like a snail without a shell, sluggish.

Soon though, the turbo boosters were fired up. In 1991, in a small town in the Netherlands called Maastricht, a plot was hatched. The Common Market/EEC was cast aside and replaced by the shiny new European Union. We were now citizens of Europe. Didn’t we rejoice? No, not really. But this time there were noticeable changes. We could now go and live anywhere where we wanted, for as long as we wanted, and listen to as much Euro pop as our ears could tolerate. We take that for granted now. It’s easy to forget that until 1975 three of our current favourite holiday home destinations: Spain, Portugal and Greece, were fascist dictatorships; where drinking Sambuca from the navel of a sunburnt receptionist from Stoke could have led to a night in the cells, an enthusiastic interrogation and a warning to leave immediately never to return. This new freedom also spawned several new genres of television.  We could now watch people on several channels; buying houses in Europe; selling houses in Europe; and perhaps most excitingly of all building houses in Europe. We could also now watch young adults on holidaying in Europe from the comfort of our own living rooms. At one point I actually thought it was a legal requirement that any group of teenagers travelling to the Mediterranean, had to be accompanied by a camera crew to film their every drink, vomit and sexual encounter; for the purposes of insurance I assumed.

I like the practical things the EU has given us: The Working Time Directive. Who could not like that? We now have in law some very nice rules. We have the right to a minimum number of holidays each year. We have the right to rest breaks, and at least 11 hours off in any 24. It prevents excessive night work and ensures you get at least one day off after a weeks work. It also provides for the right to work no more than 48 hours per week: if you choose. Who can argue that those are bad things? (I can think of quite a few actually).

I like the Human Rights Act. It simply put the European Convention on Human Rights into UK law. A convention that was written mostly by us, in the 1950’s, and supported by no less of a humanitarian than Winton Churchill. Who doesn’t like Human Rights? (Yes I know, it’s them again)

I want my son to continue to have the option of being able to work and live anywhere in Europe. Its easy to forget how privileged that makes us. It is a luxury that thousands of people outside of Europe annually risk, and lose, their lives trying to attain.

That brings me to another confession. I like immigration. I like people coming here, spending their money, building up our economy and contributing to the growth and development of this wonderful country.

The love I have of the EU doesn’t make me love Britain any less; in fact the opposite is true. I love Britain even more. I love how it has changed. I feel British and I feel European. The two are not mutually exclusive. Countries need to grow and adapt. If not, they wither away, and become like a UKIP/Tory conference speech: hollow, backward looking, and a little bit mean.

If you love the EU, please share this blog. If you don’t… well lets face it, if you don’t you certainly won’t have read this far.

Who is Aubrey Bailey, Fleet, Hants?


Earlier this year in June I decided it was about time I entered the modern world and joined the online conversation via social media. I began by signing up to twitter. I also, for the first time, left a comment on some one else’s blog. The blog in question belonged to Craig Murray ( )  the former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan (which I highly recommend) who wrote an entry called, ‘Deadly Fiasco’, about the present problems in Iraq. I had been mulling over the same subject and had written a short piece that I think highlighted the complexity of the situation. I was delighted when my comment received a few complimentary comments of its own. Thinking I was now on a roll I created a jpg with my explanatory piece and tweeted it. I then sat back and waited for the world to marvel. The world of course failed to marvel in any way what so ever – having less than twenty twitter friends probably didn’t help. I have since then become a sporadic twitterer, a member of Facebook and up until today a blogger in waiting.

I was some what surprised a few months later when I received a tweet that contained a picture of a letter sent to the Daily Mail in September by Aubrey Bailey, Fleet, Hants, which apart from the first and last lines is a direct copy of my work. To make matters worse it had been retweeted nearly four times more than mine the original. The child in me was now slightly annoyed. Later I received a copy of it from a friend on Facebook. I decided to investigate further, a quick google search and there it was all over the place. OK not all over, but more places than my twenty friends, which I might add is now past thirty. Below is a sample.–lkdXgHvQrg

Letter to Daily Mail gives excellent explanation of war with Isis

“Are you confused about what’s going on in the Middle East? Let me explain.

By Aubrey Bailey, Fleets, Hants

It had even gone global:

Some one had even translated it. My inner child was by now well and truly throwing his rattle out of the pram. ‘It’s me, me, I wrote that’, but there was no one to hear.

So thank you Aubrey Bailey you have finally given me the motivation to start my blog, if only to put it on record, it was me, I wrote that. What probably hurts most though was the fact it was published in the Daily Mail. Oh well, good luck to you Aubrey, no hard feelings.




Clear as Mud