Bristling Brock speaks out...

 

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The testy and emotive argument against Boeing in the US as it is revealed to have significantly encouraged their Commerce Department to levy a huge 219% import tariff on Bombardier airliners is nothing more than usual American practise.  Certainly, it is unreasonable, protectionist and naive in outlook - but that is the American way, their knee jerk reaction to foreign competition and even relationships with foreign nations.

We frequently hear from our politicians about the 'special relationship' we enjoy with the US.  This is nothing but bunkum.  There never has been a relationship with the US that has been anything but exploitative and without a dollar sign somewhere in the equation.  The fact that many Americans started their existence as Europeans, and particularly British, that we speak a similar (but far from identical) language, that we share some (but by no means that many) values is not the basis of any special relationship.  Since WW2 when the Americans 'graciously' allowed us to lease warships and materiel from them when things looked grim over here was not an act of generosity or even support - it was a business deal.  That materiel was no gift, it had a cost and if you're a baby-boomer from that post-war era you'll remember that our national debt on war bonds was only ever paid-off as recently as the last decade.  The Marshall Plan aid that followed WW2 was no different - there was an expected pay-back in both cash and political terms.  Again, it was a business deal.

Yet somehow, our politicians over the years have envisioned some sort of connection to the Americans that is truly based upon a false premise.  It would be churlish to say that when we were in dire need their war materiel was not gladly accepted - events may well have turned out differently had that supply line (irrespective of cost) not been there.  So, yes, thank you for that.  But the raw fact remains that our relationship with America has for a century now been very one-sided - we give, they take.  Now I'm not anti-American, far from it, and there's much in America that I rejoice over but when we hear Theresa May wittering on about the special relationship, it is irritating in the extreme to see us almost begging for some twinkle of recognition amongst the crowd.  Have we lost all dignity, pride and belief in our nation ?  I sincerely hope not - but there is an uphill battle to be fought on this topic.  But, if nothing else, understand this, Mrs May - the Americans think squat-diddly about what you think this special relationship engenders, for they believe in business, political advantage and, increasingly under Trumpism, protectionism.  There is no preferential agenda as far as they are concerned and we show ourselves up to be weak, fawning and disrespected in their eyes if we continue to roll over and pander to their rulings.  With Bombardier, be tough.  Tell Boeing that we don't want their Apache helicopters or F-35's, tell our airlines - yes, tell them, not ask ! - to buy anything but an American product and let the message to America be clear.  Two can play at any game.

Now some will see that as petty, no more than a little squabble, cutting off our nose to spite our face.  In truth there is much more at stake in this now global world of mixed commercial and political interest.  As we hopefully leave the EU (sometime !) then we will be in a world market where that fawning weakness of purpose and intent will be our undoing.  We need to be strong, purposeful and with a reputation that shows us we are are prepared to walk away from a bad deal (remember that for Brexit discussions as well, Mrs May) and, despite short term pain, go elsewhere to do our business.  America is not the be-all-and-end-all market and partner that 'special relationship' brings to mind - that relationship is no more than a figment of imagination.  Let's gird our loins as a new, proud nation and make our way - with or without America.

Just briefly a view of the Labour Party conference goings on.   Mr Corbyn has unquestionably come into his own this last few months and it looks clear that he now has raised his popularity amongst the faithful to an all-time high.  Listening to his plans it is easy to fall into a state of agreement upon his social agenda - on the face of it it all looks wonderfully grand.  Yet the cynic in me asks 'How is all this to be affordable ?'  The capital expenditure required to bring his social and national agenda together is truly enormous, irrespective of whether it's a good thing or not.  It would require borrowing on an equally huge scale, more debt, more long-term pay-back, etc, etc.  There's much in Mr Corbyn's vision that I go along with, but the practicalities are rearing their head and I fear that if he were to win at the next election there might well be a host of disappointed followers once those practicalities became real hurdles.  Perhaps a touch more pragmatism, Mr Corbyn ?