UK’s most critical decision

UK’s most critical decision

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644167228943474e2c606758ddb0d5a4Open Discussions/ Gulf Cultural Club

UK’s most critical decision

Stephen Bell*

Mohammad Iqbal Asaria CBE**

Allen Newport***

James Thring****



On 23rd June UK has to decide whether it will remain within the European Union or opt out. This is the biggest decision in recent decades and will have profound impact on the European alliance. Both camps are engaged in relentless efforts to convince the people to vote on their side. Both sides of the Atlantic are awaiting the outcome of the decision by the British people which will have ramifications on immigration, economy, international influence, human rights and cultural integration of the continent. It is an opportunity to participate in the debate which affect the lives of those living on the British isles.

Wednesday, 11th May 2016

Chairman: There is a lot of debate about this issue. There was a recent article which stated that the European Union was a CIA project. Whether this is another conspiracy theory or whether 644167228943474e2c606758ddb0d5a4there is some truth in this is a fascinating thought in itself.

 Stephen Bell: I would like to thank the  Gulf Cultural Club. It is always a privilege to speak to you.  Are we speaking in favour of a vote to remain a member of the EU? I don’t think that the issue of whether to stay in the European Union is the decisive question facing Britain today.  I think that the decisive issue is the defence of the living standards of the population and the struggle against austerity. At the moment we have the really key debate which is what is the alternative to the Conservatives austerity debate which is hampering economic growth.

You may have noticed that manufacturing is going back to recession and reducing the real income of the majority of the population. Alongside this there are cuts in social services and welfare provisions which are inflicting misery upon the  most vulnerable sections of our society. So in my view, inside or outside the EU, we will need to struggle for alternative economic policies to those being pursued by the government.

That’s it. The referendum is upon us and we have to address this question. From the start I think the decision to held the referendum was a manoeuvre by Cameron. It was a way of unifying the  Conservative party before the general election. The tory party is full of people who are nostalgic for the British Empire and who cannot accept the decline of British imperialism.

These are the people who believe that you just have to have some sort of resurgence of national identity and the world will be deeply impressed. By Cameron’s manoeuvre saying that he would call a referendum after re negotiations of Britain’s treaty obligations allowed him to say to both wings of the Conservatives: those in favour and those against, that if they supported him they both have a chance of winning their policy later on.

The first thing to register is that the negotiations which Cameron conducted have not changed anything  fundamentally in  terms of new obligations for Britain or new exclusions for Britain from the EU. Instead we have seen Cameron concentrating on issues such as excluding some new EU migrants from in work benefits.

Despite the obvious spitefulness  and pettiness of this it is not actually going to affect a lot of people. The denial of in work benefits for a few years affects a small number of families. The introduction of the national living wage will lift the number of families out of welfare qualifications anyway.

So we have seen a great deal of rhetoric for very little achievement. It was always a manoeuvre to get him through the election. There is no change on the fundamental issues such as the nature of the single market or the free movement of labour or anything of substance.

As a socialist I approach this from the point of view of whether leaving or staying benefits working people in our society. A withdrawal would worsen the position of working people in this country80647a8357de217b799cfd9e098093bf and not improve it. There are a number of reasons for this.

First of all trade with the EU is very large. Forty seven percent  of our trade last year was with other EU countries. Withdrawal would lead to a disruption of this. We have to be realistic. Both trading parties have an interest in maintaining that trade and they would find a way to restore it. There would be some dislocation. It would not be lost, it would be disrupted.


However on the issue of inward investment there would be a genuine loss. A great deal of inward investment into Britain comes from outside the UK and its premised on the fact that the UK is a member of the EU and therefore  if you are investing in Britain, you have access to the EU market without tariff. So withdrawal would lead to a considerable loss of investment and inevitably  this would have some impact on jobs.


The restrictions on migration and immigration generally from withdrawal would be very serious indeed. First of all I think that it is important to register that the migration of labour and the free movement of labour has been very helpful for this country and for the economy. EU migrants have contributed £20billion to the UK economy between 2001 and 2011. That is according to the University of London report.


The automatic right of EU citizens to enter Britain and vice versa would hitch. On top of this the most racist and xenophobic forces in British society : those in UKIP and the far right in the Torries would be hugely encouraged by the withdrawal and they would set the agenda on these questions for some time to come.


There is also a very specific impact in terms of the impact on Ireland where under the peace process and the Good Friday agreement there is a very free movement between north and south in Ireland. The suggestion that new border controls would now operate between the north and the south would have a very disastrous effect on the peace process in Ireland. There is an extremely hostile view from most Irish people regarding withdrawal because of this.


There would  also be  a reduction in trade union and human rights under a number of protective legislations which currently exist. The EU working time directive provides protection to EU workers on the length of their working week. This week the TUC provided a report indicating a million workers could be forced to work more than 48 hours a week if Britain was excluded from this 7099ad93a980037c5ccfba28c106dcedprovision.


On top of that there would be a loss of co-operation on issues like environmental protection and the struggle against climate change. I have not gone into a great deal of detail but I think the economic and political case is in favour of remaining.


I would now like to review the EU’s relationship with the Middle East and North Africa and the Gulf. I think the EU  policy on these questions tends to be more progressive than that of the  Foreign and Commonwealth Office. I think that if Britain withdraws, US policy goals will figure even more strongly than they do in the UK’s foreign policy.


If you look  at the EU’s foreign policy towards the Middle East and North Africa you will see that it has two main objectives: firstly through the EU neighbourhood policy to encourage support for political and economic reform in each country which has a relationship with the EU.


Secondly through the Union of the Mediterranean to promote regional co-operation. So currently under the EU neighbourhood policy it is organising Operation Sophie which claims to have saved 13,000 lives in rescue operations of migrants in the Mediterranean. The same policy is also promoting, with the UN, peace talks and a ceasefire for Yemen and finally promoting a new government in Libya with support by humanitarian and other not so  humanitarian means.


Currently under the Union of the Mediterranean which is also called the Barcelona process the EU initiatives include work on common efforts to depolute the Mediterranean, joint programmes on national disasters, the joint promotion of alternative energy programmes and support for small and medium size enterprises. Alongside these major objectives of the EU policy there are a number diplomatic initiatives. The EU is part of the quartet along with the US, Russia and the UN in promoting negotiations on Palestine and Israel. The EU has extensive relations with the GCC. The GCC is the EU’s fifth largest export market with 97 billion in 2014. The EU is the biggest trading partner with the GCC- 152 billion in trade flows in Europe. And there is co-operation with the GCC on issues of clean energy, security, education, scientific research etc etc


Along side these the EU has a series of bilateral relations with Iran, Iraq and Yemen. On Iran the EU made significant contributions in the negotiations on the joint comprehensive plan of action 957c4f176d2b5dd54505eb88ca667321and the lifting of sanctions against Iran from January 16 this year. On Iraq they have a specific partnership and co-operation agreement which  mirrors the fact that there  16.2 are billion euros of trade with the EU being the second biggest trade partner of Iraq after the US. There are various humanitarian programmes  – up to 106 million euros offered in 2015 for internally displaced persons, refugees from Syria and so on.


On Yemen there is a co-operation agreement. In the past there has been  a 300 million euro programme on food and security, there is assistance at the moment with  a new development programme and there is very extensive trade.

I accept that some of these policies and programmes are ambiguous and their value for the people of the Middle East and the Gulf is questionable and debatable. I think that is true of a great deal of EU  policy in both its internal and external relations. But my point is that the extent of these relations  should be a factor in that consideration of issues and the EU referendum. I prefer to see British citizens exercising pressure through EU institutions and upon the  British government on these programmes rather than completely cutting ourselves off.


So in summary the EU has many strengths and many weaknesses. At this point in time for the benefit of working people in this country and for the benefit of our international relations  I believe the thing the thing to do is to vote to remain and to struggle for those issues which I believe are of fundamental importance.


Allen Newport: My criticism of the international banking system is not strictly speaking an EU matter. The bigger the organisation is the more difficult it is to get anything done and that comes under a matter for sovereignty and the ability to make any impact whatsoever on this labyrinthine organisation which is more or less impenetrable for most people. Judging by David Cameron’s inability to negotiate anything of substance it would appear that it is fairly difficult for him also.


It would seem that once decisions have been made within the EU nothing much can be changed without a great deal of difficulty. These rules are made in secret. In fact the whole EU agenda has been a secret agenda. It is part of the post war  agreement and it is part of the America sphere. The main argument is that if we do not remain we will be pushed around and our money will be taken away. Nothing has been proven in respect of this. Maybe there will be some costs and benefits. It is an immensely complex issue. I don’t feel I am able to work it all out. There are people who have detailed opinions, good luck to them.  They have obviously devoted a great  deal of time to it.


Historically as I said before the EU has been a secretive organisation. It was put together by people behind the scenes and implemented in a covert kind of way and then people are presented with 863d36e528a4bb01baf23d715f3173f5it as a fait accompli. There is very little discussion of the issues before they come to the fore and then usually they are pushed through with a kind of propaganda device where people are persuaded by the use of platitudes and clichés and threats and inducements and all sorts. None of  these have a lot to do with what actually goes on.


A very good example of this is the fisheries industry. It was one of the first casualties of this monster. Our fisheries industry was destroyed, basically by overfishing and then quotas and then throwing back dead fish and all the rest of it. We all know about some of the grotesque distortions of common sense which have occurred there. We have basically got nothing from that agreement. We were supposed to have access to Norwegian waters but then the Norwegians decided they did not want to have anything to do with it and it was a farce.


There have been many farces of this kind because when you are dealing with something as complex as 22 nations trying to agree on anything you are liable to get this kind of thing occurring especially when you don’t know what is going on behind the scenes. I know you don’t know what is going on behind the scenes in Westminster either but its a bigger more complex same kind of situation. Its more of the same but bigger and more complex and more difficult to access. It is more or less the same thing that everybody has got.


One of the things we have got is a corrupt financial system where money is produced out of nothing. It leads to boom and bust situations. Last time in 2008 we were presented with an enormous bill to bail out the positions of speculators. Nothing was changed and we are in for another massive collapse in the financial system. What will happen then I don’t know but there will be all sorts of things and the smaller man, the man at the bottom, will be paying for it – not the plutocratic international banking club.


The other big issue is of course migration and the loss of control over borders. It is not true that working people benefit from migration at all. This is not racist because many working people in this country  now are not of European descent and they will not be benefitting from mass migration.


Migration lowers wages and increases costs. Just look at the situation now where working people cannot afford to live anywhere near London and that is where the jobs are. At about the same time 99b57856e2c839e2093003b464752ee6of course people who are in  need  – this peculiar idea from each according to his ability to each according to his needs – seems to have taken root somehow  with the equality mongers who seem to think that equality is some kind of new religion. They will be accommodated according to their need. Those who actually support the economy, support the funds that go to the people who live on other people, have to commute for miles on crowded trains and exhaust themselves.


This kind of situation cannot continue and we are going to have some sort of systematic collapse if this continues and if  common sense and traditional ways of doing things are eroded by what is a false religion. And that is what the EU is all about in the end. It is more of the same, it is monothlic, it is much more powerful and  any idea that we have that we can somehow reverse some of the unfortunate modern trends will be even further from being a possibility.


A few points on specifics. It has just been announced that the Americans and the EU have been in contact secretly to co-ordinate their regulatory frameworks into the TTIP agreements which appear to be some kind of agreement whereby the corporatists have the right to sue European governments if they don’t behave in the way that suits them.


There is another one which  has recently been announced. Whistle blowers can now be prosecuted for exposing the things that corporations do  as part of a copyright law. I don’t suppose anybody knew anything like this was on the agenda because once again it is something that happens behind the scenes. It all happens behind the scenes and then we are presented with it and we have to comply.


I am not in a position to enumerate  the number of things that have been destroyed in this way. The number of small firms that have gone out of business. I can give you a small example, a trivial 41d4375b287d8749166a639619707d8aexample perhaps. That is the elderflower champagne company. It used to sell a soft drink which was called Elderflower Champagne. They were bought through the courts for calling it champagne. They went bust and there was no need for this. There was no consideration for that small company and that is the kind of  thing that happens when you have a body the size of Europe with the power of Europe who are able to  pursue their agendas through the courts and crush smaller people.


Again the issue of migration. It is again not a matter of racism to realise that a continually rising population is not good for people. It is said that it raises GDP. Of course it does.  GDP is a  peculiar metric that has some very strange characteristics. If I go to a bank and borrow money then buy some Chinese goods and in a couple of years I throw them on the landfill that increases GDP. GDP is a measure of so-called economic activity. It is not a measure of priority for ordinary people.


We have noticed that since 2008 and the economic collapse the vast majority of  new money has flown to the very tinnest top of the global population while ordinary people are actually suffering devolution and this is a situation that is liable to continue. That is where the power is. It is basically  a financial power structure where those at the top benefit most, a lot more than they did in the past when the aristocracy was seen as being  unjust and oppressive. Well this is far more oppressive. It is a global aristocracy, it is secret and it is more powerful than the previous one and it does not take very much account of the people at all.


The control of the people’s minds through the press and media is more or less total. They can get us to believe whatever they like. They get us to believe that the gross undermining of ordinary people’s assumptions and ways of being is perfectly okay and the basis of some kind of social principles like equality and multiculturalism.


Multiculturalism is a peculiar idea that people of very diverse races and backgrounds, cultures and religions can all live together and there will not be the inevitable friction which will lead to conflict and a more oppressive state and the organics of government.


Incidently I am not criticising immigrants for this as they are not responsible for it. They are simply responding to inducements that are being given by the European governments. The people 9cd15e0d088642e48dc1a683d3bc276c who are drowning in the Mediterranean are doing so because they are being offered inducements to do so. If you can make the journey and risk your life and that of your children which you need because that gives you points to get the goodies. If you can make that journey and take that risk then you will be rewarded.


Western governments, that does not just mean the EU but they must bear some of the responsibility, are busy making the Middle East an intolerable inferno and a place of great suffering. It is an absolute disgrace. It is not going to improve by us staying in the EU or us leaving the EU but it does mean that we can influence any decisions Europe does make because once again it is a massive organisation and it is very remote.


Iqbal Assaria: I would like to take a much more forensic view of what is at stake at here. If we go back to the end of WW2 we see that in the two wars Europe had lost about 40 million people.  Both sides, Britain, Germany and  France were all on their knees economically. There was no victory. Everybody was devastated and exhausted. In that situation the United States took a very strategic decision. If we inject sufficient resources into rebuilding Europe and Japan eventually these markets will benefit us. It is a very long term vision.


With that in view apart from their own resources they also established what is now known as the World Bank but it was actually established as the International Bank for the  Reconstruction and Development of  Europe and Japan. Later on other countries joined it. It is from that date that we see the beginning of American investment. The  USA was spared the ravages of the world wars  and it had everything going for it.  They inherited what we could not mend. They did not abuse that for a long time. They did a lot of strategic planning and then Europe became their biggest market.


There are other issues here which we are not really able to integrate into the narrative which is the Cold War and rise of communism. Here again the USA provided a security umbrella to Europe from the rising power of the Soviet Union at that time. Sometimes a long term vision can create sustainable gains for us.


The second thing to understand is that as a country we are not a poor country. We are in the top five wealthiest countries in the world. So we cannot claim poverty to say that we cannot do anything. We are one of the wealthiest countries and we have to see beyond our very short term gains.


The idea of Europe obviously originated in the desire to avoid any further wars in Europe. We had seen the cost of the wars and we found  things that were not acceptable. The idea was that if we have economic transfers between countries at different levels of economic development, eventually, over a period of time many of them will converge and therefore provide vast markets for the goods and services which we make.


Almost 50 percent of our trade now is with Europe and I suspect that about a quarter of that is with the new countries of Europe rather than the established European countries like France and Germany. More and more trade will come in that way.  So if we are at the moment making a net contribution to Europe (which I don’t think we are) but even if we are it is only  building our long term gain. Just like the Americans if you think ahead you we see that this is building our future.


The next thing to think about is that although we are complaining about other EU citizens coming to work and live here we must remember that we are essentially an aging society. If you look at 8eec5d9fea930f7e15c10d980d31592athe demographics of the United Kingdom you will see that on the one hand we have a falling birth rate and on the other hand we have a population which is living longer than ever. Every ten years we are adding a couple of years to longevity.  For women insurance companies calculate the annuity assuming that the average woman will live to 90+ and the average man will live to 87 or 88.


On the other hand the model we have developed now which is not part of the European problem but it our problem  is that we have a totally unfunded pensions system which means that  the contributions of the young and able workers go straight into financing the pensions and benefits of retired people. If you have a fall in the number of young people working and a rise in the number of people working longer you can see that the sums do not add up and we have a problem.


We are trying to fiddle around with that by saying we are going to increase the retirement age to 68 and 70 – how far can you go? You can’t push everyone to work to 75. It is not possible. The only way is to find  a new quota of young  people to work and contribute to the national insurance contributions or which ever way they do it.


And this where the immigration if you look at it in purely economic terms is positive because it does  give us a break. Unfortunately the numbers required for that to work perfectly are to large for our society to absorb. I calculated about ten years ago the numbers for Europe. I came to the conclusion that Europe as a whole – the EU’s 26  countries as it is today will  require an additional  45 million people to immigrate to  bring that balance. The United Kingdom will require about five million. Clearly these numbers are difficult to digest. But if you look at the cold reality of economics that is what you need to live comfortably. Otherwise you have an aging population which will find it difficult to fund itself and we will have increasing acrimony and discomfort.


However that is not something which is going to be settled either by remaining in Europe or going out of Europe. This is the function of the changing nature of our economy. At the heart of it is austerity and at the heart of austerity is the nature of finance capital.


Some of you may have been lucky to read the work of Thomas Picketing. His book is called Capital in the 21st Century which was a best seller last year. Can anybody  imagine that a 700 page economics book becomes a best seller? It must have stuck a cord. What he is saying is that finance capital has finally delivered a system which has inverted the amount of profits going to labour and that going to capital.


In stable times you had a situation where 60 percent   or two thirds goes to labour and one third goes to capital. Now the last two-thirds are going to capital and one third is going to labour. Therefore the share of labour is going down. And this is clearly creating instability. Those of you who are working as professionals, teachers etc will clearly see that for example in the last ten years your salaries have hardly changed.


So effectively you are poorer by 30percent and you are suddenly unable to afford things which you used to take for granted. Most people try to bridge that gap by borrowing. That  is why there is an increasing consumer debt which is unsustainable. There is a limit  to how far you can go and there could be a crash of that structure at any time which will make the problem worse and not better. This is the problem.


This has  nothing to do with Europe. In fact Europe has been trying to reign back finance capital. It is the city of London which has been pushing for the freedom of finance capital. So if we go out it will become worse in this aspect. This is one thing.


The next thing is that across Europe – and we must remember that one of the most honourable social organisations of modern times is the social welfare state. This is a typical European invention. Most countries in Europe have one variant or another and that is why Europe was able to sustain and grow. Again because of the pressure from finance capital the social welfare state has come under pressure. Taxation levels are being brought down. You have seen the recent Panama files that wealth is being used without taxing. We have seen big corporations here paying no tax so the  tax base eroded and the state cannot support that level of activity. That is again contributing to a perverse kind of adversity.


If you go out of Europe the tendency  in Britain is going to be even worse than it is today. The European peer pressure is enough to keep us there. We are in between the United States and Europe but we could go much more towards the United  States where 20 – 25 percent of the people have no safety net at all.


In terms of trade and agriculture clearly we have a big relationship with Europe – nearly half of our trade plus. Our agriculture is fully supported by subsidy payments  from the European Union. So the common agricultural policy supports most farms. And if we are not careful of this we could lose a lot of our farms. They could go out of business if they don’t get this kind of  subsidies. We also have a large number of subsidies for keeping our green spaces green for the people who maintain them and so on. These are all European initiatives. They are not British initiatives.

On trade there is also another aspect which is very specific and that is that with the single market you have free access to the whole market and more. You have something which we call a passporting regulation. If you have a financial product, or anything else, you can market that product across Europe without additional provision from any European state. This means you have a Europe wide market for your product. If you have the ability and the vision  it is something that it is possible to capitalise on in a big way.


So all these things we need to put into one basket and see where we are. A lot of multinational: Chinese and Japanese companies have based their European operations in the United Kingdom with the understanding that that is the base from which the whole of Europe will be serviced. That is why our car industry is bigger  and growing and our other industries are also growing. If we got out of the single market we will reach an understanding but nobody is going to give free entry into their space unless you offer reciprocity. That is another thing which needs bearing in mind.


Finally there is one thing which I have not seen being mentioned  anywhere. We know that on the global scene the balance of economic power between the east and the west is shifting. The share of global trade and the statistics from India and China are rising and will rise. Eventually this will lead to a demand for a change in the balance of power in the national institutions. So whether it is voting rights for the IMF or the World Bank we will have to fight our corner.


Just think of the UN Security Council. At the moment two EU members are permanent members of the security council: France and the United Kingdom. If you go out of the EU then this debate is coming which says that we need to give India a seat as a permanent member. Will they throw out the EU or will they throw out the United Kingdom. It is a no brainer. We will be out of the top table before we know it.


So if you add  all these things you can see that there is a overwhelming case for us to say we want to remain in but we want to make a difference to how the EU bureaucracy and structure works. Up to now we have not applied ourselves seriously to that business. Not many of us know French. Every Frenchman knows English, every German knows English. When we go to the continent we find it very easy to communicate, when they come here we struggle. When we go to these huge EU meetings there are translations in 26 languages and you get lost. We need to speak some key languages and to understand their cultures.


So if we take it seriously we can make a difference because we have a lot of experience, we have depth, we have institutions which can contribute and we have a culture which can really show Europe some good things.


The last thing is that we have seen in the recent crisis on refugees from Syria and from north Africa that all the borders of Europe are really volatile. If we do not invest collectively as Europe in those countries and make those countries viable and offer jobs to their people which they feel are reasonable we will be swamped: not because we allow immigration from Europe but because people will just find ways to come across the sea.


Dr James Thring: I will make some comments on my main concern which is peace and war, particularly Britain’s and Europe’s wars in the Middle East and so I am concerned about the effect of leaving or staying in Europe from that point of view.


My main piece of evidence comes from a meeting that is going to be held tomorrow in a place near Euston. It is held by  Europal. They have commissioned a document called The Israel Lobby and the European Union which basically describes how the Israeli lobby has not only gripped the United Kingdom and America by the throat and got it to wage wars against Islam. It is doing the same thing in Europe in a big way.


I agree with the speaker who said that Europe is possibly a CIA plot. I don’t know if that is actually true but it is certainly true that  Henry Kissinger said about 30 or 40 years ago when I want to call Europe who do I call? This is before Europe was clearly established the way it is. The chief war monger in the world wanted one person to talk to and persuade rather than persuade all the other countries.


If he wants that I question it. In other words lets make it difficult for the war mongers and let  us stay as independent as we can. Let us keep the decision making as close to our personal interests which are good neighbours, and peace – peace whether they are our friends or not. We do not want to encourage wars we do not want to destroy other peoples countries, we do not want to take their land and frankly we do not want them coming there saying you  have destroyed our country now we want a piece of yours.


It is a bit of an unfair characterisation of what is happening in Syria now but I think that is the truth. We have damaged and virtually destroyed Iraq. The Sunni people from Iraq were actually marched out by the American administrator Paul Bremmer in 2014 because he said they are not to have any official positions.  There were four million of them. At least 800,000 went to Syria. It is quite possible that they wanted to get back to their homes and country having established an Islamic caliphate as a way of getting some kind of force together so they can exert some pressure against the Israeli hegemony in the area.


My second major document in this debate is the new strategy for securing the realm or a clean break written by Richard Pearle and  Paul Wolfowtiz and  endorsed by Netanyahu and a number of the well known neo cons in 1996. That was then translated by the neo cons in America to an American document called rebuilding America’s defences and it did not specify but this  guy specified that  Syria and five other Muslim countries would have to be militarily occupied because they present a threat basically to Israel.


It was then translated to mean that this would be a threat to the West. In 2000 when they published the American document  called  the Rebuilding of American defences on page 50 it says that the American public will  never accept this strategy unless we have a major catastrophic incident such as new Pearl Harbour. A year later  came 9/11.


My general fear is that we will be more susceptible to that takeover because it will be a much bigger more remote organisation than it is at the moment. We still have a chance of changing that.


* Stephen Bell is National Treasurer for the Stop the War Coalition and Campaigns Officer for the Palestine Solidarity Campaign. He is a member of the Labour Party.


**Mohammad Iqbal Asaria is special advisor to the Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain on business and economic affairs and a tutor on the MCB’s leadership development programme. In the late 1980s, he was the editor-in-chief of Afkar, a ground-breaking news and analysis journal published in London. Iqbal’s current interests are in Islamic and Moral Finance. He was awarded the CBE in the 2005 Queen’s Honours List for services to international development.


***Allen Newport is a political commentator who is critical of the international finance system. He is a Muslim convert and a Sufi of the Naqshabandi Haqqani Tariqa. He is also a traditionalist and political monarchist, on the right of the political spectrum. He holds critical views on the international banking system which, he considers, is the chief source of the evils of the world.


****James ThringJames Thring is a retired architect-planner concerned about the Middle East since Israel’s 1967 War. He designed the first Cambridge Autonomous House in 1971 with a view to helping people isolated from public services, as in Palestine, and applied the technology to a plan for Saharan Libya in 1975. He also helped plan S.E. England and prepared scenarios for UK financial futures at the Department of the Environment. He advised companies like BA, BT and British Gas on likelihoods of future scenarios using Battelle’s risk analysis model. In 1980 he was a Committee Member of Architects for Peace, seconded to Professions for World Disarmanent & Development where he created Planning for Peace and was then deputed to the World Constitution & Parliament Association where he applied his scenario modelling. After initiating the Ministry of Peace to unite the anti-war lobbies he co-founded Legal Action Against War to prosecute Blair et al. for War Crimes against Iraq. Whilst visiting Iraq and Palestine he compiled ‘Crimes against the Palestinians’ and wrote ‘Peace with Iraq’ to counter the ‘dodgy dossier’ and gave it to every MP in 2002. When Israel threatened to attack Iran in 2006 and 2012 he published ‘Peace with Iran’ but the launch in the House of Lords with Lord Ahmed was sabotaged by the Israeli lobby. He continues to lobby for diplomatic, peaceful solutions to conflicts mostly in the Middle East, gives opinions to tv and radio channels and writes to Ministers, influential figures and the media.


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