The International Writers Magazine - April 05
The Year of the Rat
always brings change - it seems.
to be a surge of democracy going on right now. Not only is the UK
undergoing national elections with possible upsets, Europe is preparing
for referendums on the proposed new constitution and of course in
Italy, once again they are searching for a new government as Berlusconi
quits. Can he form another government without an election? We shall
As President Chirac has discovered, the mood for closer integration in
Europe has passed, almost as the bigger it gets, the 500 million or so
in this new Europe want less control from Brussels (and de factor France),
not more. As satellite countries race to join the club and get a finger
in the slush funds, the established members' populations grow more cynical
about the whole thing and especially the politicians that run it. The
Club is 25 strong now and we could be 30 by 2009, with or without Turkey.
This is Empire building without war, but I can't help feeling that some
of these new members may not be so clubbable and everything might just
end in tears. Already we have political parties in the UK (UKIP and Veritas)
campaigning for the UK to leave Europe altogether. One hopes they don't
get votes but there are a lot of small minded 'little englanders' out
there who just won't be happy until the Channel Tunnel is filled with
water and we are all reduced to drinking Dandelion and Burdock instead
of 'foreign' wine.
reported this month by our Spanish correspondent, Spain is lurching
further and further left, Portugal has already done so and one wonders
if either country can afford to do this. A year ago the Spanish
economy was leaping ahead but after the Madrid bombing and the change
of governments, everything has turned sour and now Spain is in danger
of breaking up into little feudal 'kingdoms' with all the layers
of patronage and corruption that will follow. Some 300,000 Brits
have homes in Spain and Portugal. I wonder how safe that 'investment'
will be in the future.
Here in the
UK the bookies are giving the socialist Labour party 1.20 on odds of winning
the next election and returning lame duck Blair as Prime Minister. If
you are looking for a surprise, the UK could deliver it. Blair is unpopular,
the Iraq war is deeply unpopular and his role in lying about WMD. On top
of which the UK economy is turning off, so to speak, never mind Rover
and MG biting the dust along with 20,000 associated jobs, major retail
stores are going into liquidation (Index being the latest) and
sales are permanent on the High Street. (Rumours are rife about Jaguar
being given the chop with the year by Ford if thiongs don't improve).
People are so obsessed with the value of their homes they haven't noticed
that every day now some company or another is laying people off. The Conservatives
should be using this as a stick to beat Labour with but they don't seem
to have noticed this either. Meanwhile the Liberal Democrats (who cannot
win) are promising the gullible (my students in particular amongst them)
that they will abolish University fees and build paradise on earth (mostly
by taxing the rich). The trouble is the rich can leave and will, for friendlier
places to live and work and the only way Universities can be free is if
they reduced the number of places available at them and raise taxes.
There is no perfect
political party. No perfect solutions, but it would be nice to think
that a party that has so consistently lied and spun and generally destroyed
moral values as much as Blair's government will be voted out of office.
My hunch is that many Labour voters will sit on their hands, many young
people will vote Liberal Democrat (if they vote at all) and the Tories
will get out their votes in sufficient numbers to make a difference
and we could have a narrow win for the Tories or a hung parliament.
Let's hope so. Yes I put my money where my mouth is on this and I shall
either weep or shout for joy on May 6th.
Er... Weep - loudly 05.06.05 Sigh
in Canada Paul Martin might call an election in June. He has discovered
that he is unloved and that Chretien's legacy of sleaze has tainted
the Liberals so much the extreme right Tory party looks like they can
get in. Stephen Harper has battled hard to build a united right and
it looks like he will be rewarded. The sad part of this is that it will
speed up the Americanization of Canada and the complete surrender to
Bush's paranoia. No doubt they will suddenly be converted the 'Star
Wars' boondoggle, and other Homeland terror methods. Let's see if the
Liberals can rally at the last. Meanwhile back in BC can Premiere Campbell
beat of the challenge from the NDP (Canadian Socialists) . Let's hope
so. Going back to the strike bound BC of yesteryear wouldn't be nice
On the horizon we
can see China suddenly becoming belligerent about Japan ( will the second
world war never go away). Protest movements will not be contained and
this tiny rumble could get out of hand. One can understand that China
is practicing the age old distraction method as they try to put a lid
on explosive economic growth, but things have a habit of going wrong
and this Chinese government is being provocative in the extreme of late,
threatening Taiwan and now Japan. Could this lead to a regional war?
Are they testing to see if the USA will come to either's aide in time
of war? For some time now some pundits have been saying that China will
want to flex it's muscles in the region as it becomes economic top dog.
No one quite predicted it would happen now, but we could be seeing the
first plays in a regional conflict. Remember both are competing for
the same world supply of raw materials and oil. This 'test' could get
nasty. Watch that space. Could it go global? Let's see if any Japanese
pundits clue us into that. And do we feel sorry for Japan, the nation
that promises to kill off the worlds remaining whales to increase their
sexual prowess? I think not. For now the Chinese are content with the
Japanese PM's repeated apology but for how long?
Well, we do live
in interesting times. This month it is 60 years since the West discovered
the horrors of Belsen and other concentration camp crimes. The consequences
of the Second World War probably don't go away for some time yet. We
also remember the slaughter in Gallipoli - 90 years ago this week. It's
sixty years since we had a world war. Perhaps we are just waiting for
the last people who remember them both to die beforfe we start another.
Maybe that's why it's slowly being deleted from our children's history
books... Those that cannot remember -fight the battles all over again.
Sam North April
month in Hackwriters:
Retail Therapy, Travel to Guatamala,Buenos Airies,Remagen revisited,Tuscany,
Paris 19th Arrondissement even Stonehenge and Bogota. Remember Charlie
Brown. Discover why men wear rings and there's fiction from Bali, Morocco,
even the life of a Cricket, and the loneliness of a guitar solo. James
Campion on the Brain Dead and meanwhile reviews on new musicals in London
notably The Far Pavillions, and old favourites such as A Tree
in Brooklyn and Touching the Void. The Great Beyond is now
at Chapter 13 and there's more First Chapters too. 10,000 readers a
week drop by Hackwriters not bad for a little magazine. More to come...
We at Hacks are self supporting and if you want
to support us, buy Sam's book - All the funds from the sale of the book
go back into the site. See below.
If you are looking
for a good read Sam North's new book Diamonds - The
Rush of '72 is available now.
$19.95 from Amazon.com in the USA or on special offer from the publishers
direct - see box below.
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