Liverpool Voted Remain – Due to Lack of Sun?

How did Liverpool vote compared to other cities on the EU referendum? – The Liverpool Echo has an interesting report.

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How did Liverpool vote compared to other cities on the EU referendum? – Liverpool Echo

I have mentioned before the appalling influence of the right wing British press on public opinion. Here is some proof:

As you can see the whole of the Liverpool region voted 58,2%  to remain although according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation referendum analysis they should have come out on the Leave side due to their socio-economic make-up. Why did they vote so differently from the rest of the UK?

There is only one possible explanation – ever since the Hillsborough disaster 28 years ago the SUN newspaper has been boycotted in Liverpool….
I think that is quite conclusive!

The people have spoken in the referendum, but the puppeteers pulled their strings!

Read the statistics in the Liverpool Echo here: http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/how-liverpool-vote-compared-cities-11521041.amp

Shooting the Messenger

Exports row masks corporate governance issues

Liam Fox, the British secretary of state for international trade appointed by Prime Minister Theresa May to lead post-Brexit trade negotiations along with Boris Johnson and David Davis, put his finger squarely – but not fairly – on the biggest headache Britain has had for years last week.

In comments to the right-wing Conservative Way Forward group, he referred to the anaemic export performance of Britain’s major companies, calling their bosses ‘fat’ and ‘lazy’, and claiming they would rather play golf than open up new markets with new products. The Times, which first published the comments, accompanied an opinion piece with the headline, ‘Don’t shoot the clumsy messenger‘.

The comments prompted an expected backlash from business leaders, but the facts themselves are evident. Former Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne’s ‘march of the manufacturers’ and the goal he set of doubling exports to £1tn by 2020 look further away than ever – exports of £510.3bn in 2015 were below 2014’s figure of £511.7bn.

Will Brexit make a difference? Sterling’s approximate 10% devaluation since 23 June has prompted hopes of a boost to UK exports. But while there may be anecdotal evidence to suggest this has already happened, the decline will have only a limited effect if sterling’s 25% fall in 2008-09 has any lessons for today.

British managers are not lazier than their German counterparts. But in many ways they have a much harder – if not impossible – job. They do not spend their time on golf courses these days, but rather use it to present quarterly return figures in such a way that they satisfy shareholders and/or optimise their profit- and often share price-related bonuses.

Many of the best British companies sit on large cash piles. They do not spend them on product development or opening up export markets in the Far East, for fear of an adverse reaction affecting their share price. They prefer to ‘return cash to shareholders’ through share buy-backs or look for mergers and acquisitions, rather than growing their companies organically. If all else fails, they can ‘bring the company into play’ and sell it at a premium.

The Anglo-Saxon corporate governance model puts British businesses at a disadvantage compared with their European and Asian competitors. More than 85% of German businesses – the famous Mittelstand – are not quoted on the stock market. Managers can afford to think and act long-term without fear of a takeover, being dismissed or losing out on remuneration.

Chief executives of listed companies are shielded by their supervisory boards, which include worker and frequently customer representation. This acts as a practical defence against takeovers and over-adventurous board directors, and is a useful tool for communicating with workers.

May – like Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, a scientist by training – appears to have a better handle on the root causes of the UK’s export malaise than Fox, a medical doctor with no business experience. She fired a first salvo in the right direction shortly before taking office by suggesting worker participation on company boards, as well as an overhaul of the UK company takeover code and remuneration practices in British boardrooms. It is ironic that, just as the UK turns its back on Europe, its prime minister wants it to adopt a more continental-looking business model.

Changing the UK’s shareholder value model will not be easy. Tony Blair talked in 1995 about the stakeholder economy model, similar to Germany’s social market economy or ‘Rhineland capitalism’, and was very quickly stopped in his tracks. Let’s hope May’s attempts to address the root causes of the problem, rather than its symptoms, are more successful.

British Have Been Fed Misinformation by the Rightwing Press for Years

I don’t think the British people per se are anti-Europe but they have been fed misinformation for years by the puppet masters of the rightwing British press, which has such a huge circulation advantage over the liberal press. To make out that they are doing this for the working class people of Britain is the con of the century.

This letter was published in the Financial Times on June 22nd 2016, the day before the EU referendum. It was a response to a Martin Wolf article on the previous day, and ran alongside ‘Fleet Street’s European bite remains sharp’ by John Gapper – see below and click to read the full item. 

Sir,

As a German who has lived and worked happily in the UK for more than 40 years, I can only underline Martin Wolf’s arguments for staying in (“Why I believe Britain belongs in Europe”, June 21). Two small additional comments, however.

The Brexit supporters constantly mention that Britain can easily stand alone, being the fifth largest and fastest-growing economy among the Group of Eight countries.

First, as David Smith, the fiercely independent economics editor of The Sunday Times has pointed out, Britain is by purchase power parity (PPP) the 10th largest; and as for gross domestic product growth, the much maligned eurozone grew by 0.7 per cent in the first quarter of 2016 against 0.3 per cent in the UK and is forecast to be ahead over the full year. Naturally, David Cameron can’t mention this fact, as he would be accused of talking the country down.

My second point is that I don’t think the British people per se are anti-Europe but they have been fed misinformation for years by the puppet masters of the rightwing British press, which has such a huge circulation advantage over the liberal press. To make out that they are doing this for the working class people of Britain is the con of the century. I only hope that enough people will see through this and that the famous British common sense will prevail.

Bob Bischof
London SW1, UK
Vice-President, German British Chamber of Industry & Commerce; Chairman, German British Forum

Read with:

Fleet Street's European bite remains sharp

Why Brexit is So Likely

As a German I would definitely like Britain to remain in the EU – with my English hat on it is, however a bit less clear cut.

This is based on the transcript for a speech given at the Kapitalmarkt Forum of Commerzbank AG in Hamburg, October 2015. Lesen Sie diese auf Deutsch

There are a number of reasons why the British people may prefer an exit in the forthcoming in/out referendum. These are quite apart from any economic arguments that have been put forward and which may point to staying in.

Firstly this island paradise is already overpopulated and has too much foreign influence – in most British eyes. Immigration from Commonwealth countries in Asia, Africa and the Caribbean started decades ago, is still strong and the integration process in many peoples’ eyes has not gone well.

The new immigrants from Europe were welcomed to start with – Polish plumbers were much in demand during the big housing boom prior to the recession. Instead of using the permissible EU quota system, Labour decided to let all in who wanted to come. During the recession when unemployment was high and afterwards, when wages remained depressed, politicians like Farage and others took advantage to blame Britain’s membership in the EU. The fact that Europe went through a terrible time made their argument even stronger. The Merkel invitation to all refugees from Muslim populated countries into Europe is possibly the final straw in the debate about immigration.

Whilst Germany may be able to cope and eventually integrate these people and bolster its workforce, the rest of Europe is struggling with it. And so is Britain. One big reason is that Britain has never had and probably will never have an infrastructure to cope with large scale immigration. No identity cards, no border controls on exit are just two examples. Students come on a six months visa and stay for twenty years; nobody knows how many are living in Britain. This is one of the main reasons why Britain has become the preferred immigration country – apart from the fact that the whole world speaks some broken English and that seemingly unlimited numbers of unskilled jobs are available in the service sector.

Secondly, structures and regulations are quite alien to the British and they do not care for them.

It’s a cultural thing; it starts with the language: a grammar with more exceptions to rules than rules themselves. Easy to learn, but very difficult to perfect. One also prefers to express oneself vaguely rather than clearly, as the anthropologist Kate Fox describes beautifully in her book Watching the English.

Very interesting” usually means “boring” or “rubbish“. “You must come for dinner” means you never hear again. Speaking your mind is – particularly if it comes from a German – called blunt, or in your face, or worse. Proper English is not only a living and constantly evolving language, it is also an important domain for the true Brits.

My friend Prof Thomas Kielinger, correspondent for Die Welt, has showcased this splendidly in his book “Crossroads and Roundabouts” – everything is constantly in flux.  The Germans like regulation; they stand patiently at a road crossing and wait for green to cross the street – whether there are cars coming or not. But in the UK, self-reliance and self-regulation is more important than rule by the authorities.

Labour flexibility is the name of the game in the world of business in Britain, and employment laws don’t fit easily into an adversarial culture. For Germans with their more consensual model they are the norm.

Another huge difference – Britain sports “case law” whilst the Continent has written law – another non-fit and quite alien.

So it’s not surprising that that there is so much opposition to the huge amount of regulation coming out of Brussels, lots of it of course unnecessary.

Thirdly, the press in the UK is mostly Eurosceptic, and their owners are probably frightened of all the possible rules and regulations that might come their way one day. For them the debate has started in earnest and their influence on the referendum should not be underestimated.

And finally, the Exit Supporters have simpler messages:

  • We want our country back from those unelected and overpaid bureaucrats in Brussels
  • Being outside the Eurozone, Britain will have little influence and will be a second grade player forever
  • In language, history and politics, the UK is closer to the USA than to Europe – and when it matters, has to follow America.
  • The Europeans sell more to us than we to them – it’s all to their advantage
  • You can’t trust the Europeans – least of all the French and the Germans, who are suspect, as they want to rule Europe again
  • The City contributes more to GDP than manufacturing and Brussels wants to break or undermine its supremacy in Europe.

As a German I would definitely like Britain to remain in the EU – with my English hat on it is, however a bit less clear cut.

The more EU or German politicians try to help the UK to remain in the EU, the more it appears to the Eurosceptics that the Europeans are doing it for their own advantage. A real conundrum. It will require very finely tuned political handling to find the right tone here. Sentimentality is neither suitable nor wanted. The Anglos always were from Mars and the Europeans more often from Venus (even the Germans nowadays – to everyone’s confusion).

Will Britain exit? The Scots were very close to leaving and to creating a social democratic country. They have promised that if the UK overall votes “out” and the Scots vote “in” then there will be another referendum in Scotland, and the Scots may well leave the UK. There could be some tactical voting here!

Much depends on how Europe portrays itself until voting day. If the Eurozone develops on a positive trend economically, as it appears to be doing at the moment, that will take some of the wind out of the sails of the no campaigners; if not – and if the immigration problem gets worse, which is more likely, then I feel that many Brits will want to shut off the tunnel for good.

BB/January 2016