France, Gilets Jaunes, Macron

Guest post by @john_lichfield: Understanding the #GiletsJaunes

This week I have opted to feature a guest post. Though it is not on the topic of Brexit, it does look at another recent phenomenon: the Gilets Jaunes.

I am deeply grateful to the renowned Paris based, UK journalist, John Lichfield, (formerly senior journalist with UK Independent) for allowing me to reproduce here the text of the talk he gave at our most recent BEERG Network Meeting in Brussels. It is about the Gilets Jaunes and what this movement means in a wider political context. I think it worthwhile sharing his insights as widely as possible.”

The talk was part of a discussion session entitled: Breaking Bad: Thoughts on Social Media, Gilets Jaunes and Unstructured Protest Movements: 

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Speaking on Thursday January 31st 2019, John Lichfield said:

I’m here to explain the Gilets Jaunes. It might be easier to explain black holes. I’ll do my best. But there is no simple explanation of the Gilets Jaunes, no monolithic, single-minded movement, no leadership structure, no single, accepted programme of demands. That’s what makes them fascinating. And baffling. And worrying. I will give you a brief narrative of the story so far. Then I will offer some clues on how to understand the movement. And what may happen next.

Are the Gilets Jaunes just another example of the French being French? Is it all Macron’s fault? Or Putin’s fault? Or is it an internet phenomenon – Facebook populism – which could have happened anywhere? What are the similarities with other populist movements in the social media age, Brexit, Maga-Trump, Five Star? Is it a movement remotely piloted by the far right? Or far left? Who is responsible for the violence? What does it all tell us about the fragility of democratic institutions, and all institutions, in an age when the old channels of authority and opinion-forming have broken down? Political parties, trades unions, newspapers, TV and radio news, even the Church.

FIRST, A BRIEF NARRATIVE: Continue reading

Brexit, Data Protection, Data transfers, GDPR, Macron, Parody

“Talking to the Board”: A #Brexit Fable

This blog was written on February 3rd 2018.

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From the hotel window he could see across the roofs of Fisherman’s Wharf to Alcatraz, with the Golden Gate Bridge off in the background. Images that evoked The Rock and Bullitt or, for those with longer memories, the TV series The Streets of San Francisco, with Karl Malden and a very young Michael Douglas.

But James “Jim” Johnson wasn’t there to engage in remembrances of movies past or to admire the view. As the UK Executive Director of 4Zero, one of the US’s leading transnationals in the IT space, he was there to pitch to a board committee on a new $500m+ project, with around 1,200 jobs, to be located in Europe, developing state of the art computer security systems, vital for governments and businesses at a time when terrorist and state-backed cyber guerrilla war campaigns were the stuff of daily life.

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Brexit, British Government, Macron, Negotiating, Theresa May, UK Labour Party

#Macron says: “Be My Guest” while UK’s two main parties are gripped by #Brexit cakism

This piece was written on January 19th 2018.

_99662678_selfieWith just three words, “Be my Guest”, French President, Emmanuel Macron, on a visit to the UK this week, made it clear that the EU would not bend or break its rules to accommodate the UK in any post-Brexit deal.

“In” means in, and that means abiding by the EU’s rules. “Out” means out. And the choice was the UK’s to make. No doubt, a wry smile crossed the face of the spirit of General De Gaulle, wherever he may be.

As the Europeans see it, Brexit isn’t difficult or complicated. In fact, it is fairly straightforward. It is UK politics that are difficult and that are making Brexit hard for the UK.

We believe that the EU see Brexit as follows:

1.       Following a vote on June 23, 2016, some nine months later, in March 2017, the UK wrote to the European Union saying that it would be leaving the EU at midnight on March 29th, 2019. Continue reading