Monday, October 14, 2013

British authorities nearly banned new £5 note with Churchill on it in case it upset the Germans...and officials worried about Jane Austen 'private life'

Bank of England bosses thought twice about putting Sir Winston Churchill on the new £5 note – because they didn’t want to upset the Germans.

Officials warned Sir Mervyn King, then Governor of the Bank of  England, that Churchill’s wartime record might make him highly controversial, documents obtained by The Mail on Sunday show.

The same officials also insisted on carrying out a background check on Jane Austen, the prim spinster author of Pride And Prejudice who will appear on the £10 note from 2017, to reassure themselves there were ‘no issues in her private life’.

Previously classified documents, obtained under freedom of information laws, shed light on the hitherto secret process of how the Bank of England decides which historic figures are honoured.

In a memo dated April 11, 2012, Sir Mervyn was advised Churchill will be a popular choice because of his ‘broad name recognition’ and the public’s ‘very affectionate view’ of him as a wartime leader. But officials also warned him that ‘the recentness of World War II is a living memory for many here and on the Continent’.

The rest of the comments, which relate to Britain’s relationship with its former wartime enemies, have been redacted from the files. A source at the Bank last night said: ‘Public bodies are obliged to redact any material which might impact on Britain’s international relations with another country, and this is what has happened here.’

Andrew Roberts, Churchill’s biographer, said: ‘The comments redacted would have been about irritating the Germans. I don’t think a German or Japanese tourist would be in the slightest bit put off by the fact there is Churchill on a £5 note and he is the man who flattened Dresden and Hiroshima.

‘They appreciate he’s the greatest Englishman who ever lived so you put him on the currency. It’s surprising this hasn’t happened earlier.’

Officials also warned Sir Mervyn of Churchill’s ‘disastrous’ decision to return Britain to the gold standard in the 1920s. Churchill’s critics at the time claimed the move, with the backing of the Bank of England, produced the mass unemployment, deflation and industrial strife of the late 1920s and early 1930s.

Bank staff who conducted ‘considerable research’ into Churchill’s role in the debacle noted: ‘If academics do pick up on the move to the gold standard it is likely they will refer to the role of the Bank and Churchill’s own criticism of the Bank.’

Austen was considered in 1984 but ruled out because there was ‘a lack of suitable art work’. The fact no new art work has come to light since will lead to concerns she was ruled out because she was a woman. Officials also said ‘name recognition’ for the novelist – whose works are often GCSE set texts – had increased significantly thanks to film and television adaptations.

The papers note the writer’s ‘high-brow, middle-brow and mass appeal’; and confirm ‘they have found no issues in her private life’.

The interest in Austen’s private life may strike some as odd given fellow writer Charles Dickens, who appeared on the £10 note from 1992 to 2003, had at least one mistress.

Maureen Stiller, of the Jane Austen Society, said: ‘I love the fact they went to the trouble of checking her private life. But there is absolutely no controversy there.’

Churchill will appear on the £5 note from 2016. A Bank spokesman said: ‘We have taken great care to ensure men and women chosen are admired by the British public.’


'Sweden's integration debate skewed by political correctness'

The fear of being labelled "politically incorrect" keeps Sweden's main political parties from engaging in an honest debate about integration, and plays into the hands of the far-right (anti-immigration "Sweden Democrats"), argues contributor Ruben Brunsveld.

On August 19th, local politician and human rights activist Robert Hannah came out of the closet in dramatic fashion by publishing an article in the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper with the headline "From now on I will be myself".

The article made waves as it was not only a personal story about his decision to come out as a homosexual, but also a public denouncement of the honour culture still prevalent in some parts of the Assyrian immigrant culture in which he was raised.

Since then, the waves have become stronger as both support for and the attacks on Hannah have grown in intensity. His article exposed Sweden's sensitive nerve of political correctness for what it really is: a self-imposed strait jacket.

Since he went public and shared his experiences as a gay man living under the moral oppression of the Assyrian honour culture, it seems the strongest criticism he has faced has come from within the ranks of Sweden's left-wing progressives. He has been accused of feeding xenophobia, abusing rhetorical techniques to "win a debate" and of using his own personal experiences as scientifically unsound evidence for making generic statements about immigrants. In short he has been accused of playing straight into the hands of the extreme right.

Ironically enough, this almost Pavlovian reaction by the politically correct establishment is reminiscent of a mantra employed by former US President George W. Bush which later became known as the Bush Doctrine: you're either with us or against us.

It denies the reality that the world of immigration and integration is not black and white but one with at least 50 shades of grey. Worse than that, it prevents an open and honest debate about the challenges of integration. These challenges are not only about honour violence, women's rights, and individual freedoms. They also include language training, housing, and social integration, just to name a few. And the solution cannot be one; they must be many, taking into account the vast array of talents, skills, and backgrounds of immigrants of all different kinds.

Sweden is rightfully proud to see itself as a role model in the EU when it comes to immigration and asylum policies, as proven by its recent decision to grant permanent residency to all Syrian asylum seekers. But if Sweden wants to avoid falling into the Dutch-Danish trap of a political backlash by the extreme right, the country's pundits, papers, and politicians must shed their blanket of political correctness and acknowledge that a high number of non-western immigrants also brings with it the increased potential for cultural clashes.

It is not Hannah who plays into the hands of the far-right, it is the fear among the main political parties of being labelled "politically incorrect".

Integration and immigration will be one of the main political issues in the coming decades. Yet in Social Democrat leader Stefan Löfven's "vision article" published recently in DN, it was painfully absent.

Meanwhile, the government of Prime Minister Reinfeldt seems more focused on the macro-economy, giving the impression that the leadership of the Moderate Party considers "growth" a goal in itself instead of an instrument to achieve well-being.

By consciously avoiding the topic of "immigration and integration", the main political parties are directly guilty of contributing to feelings of socio-economic insecurity amongst a part of the electorate. If they want to know why the far-right and anti-immigration Sweden Democrats reached an all-time high of 12 percent in a recent opinion poll, they don't need to hire a consultant, they need to look in the mirror.

The main political parties' failure to come up with a comprehensive integration agenda that addresses not only the need for immigration but also the challenges that come with it gives those who are unhappy in the current socio-economic climate only one alternative.

Hannah's courageous article has opened the door for an honest debate on integration. Let's hope that in this upcoming year of elections (European Parliament in May, Sweden's Riksdag in September) Sweden's political leaders have the courage to follow him through it.


Large scale of European immigration to Britain

More than 600,000 unemployed European Union migrants are living in Britain at a cost of £1.5 billion to the NHS alone, according to an EU report.

The authoritative study, obtained by The Sunday Telegraph, shows the number of jobless European migrants coming to Britain has risen dramatically in the past five years, intensifying demands for the Government to renegotiate EU membership.

Opponents of the EU seized on the figures to suggest Britain could not afford to allow European migrants to come here at will while continuing to provide a universal benefits system.

The 291-page report, to be published this week by the European commissioner in charge of employment and welfare, discloses:

 *  The number of “non-active” EU migrants in Britain has risen by 42 per cent between 2006 and 2012;

 *  611,779 “non-active” EU migrants were living in Britain last year, up from 431,687 just six years ago. The total is equivalent to the population of Glasgow;

 *  The number of EU migrants coming to Britain without a job increased by 73 per cent in the three years to 2011;

 *  The current annual cost to the NHS of “non-active” EU migrants is estimated at £1.5 billion (€1.8 billion);

 *  In contrast, the estimated cost to France’s health system of “non-active” EU migrants is a fraction of that to the NHS, at just £3.4 million.

The report was written for Brussels and ordered by Laszlo Andor, the socialist commissioner in charge of employment and social inclusion.

The Sunday Telegraph can disclose that he is to bring a court case to make it easier for European migrants to claim benefits in Britain.

He will challenge a scheme that makes certain benefits available only to migrants from the EU who are “economically active” and is intended to make Britain less attractive to so-called benefit tourists.

But the EU-sponsored legal case would overturn this scheme, a move the Department for Work and Pensions said would make Britain more attractive to people wanting to live off the state.

Meanwhile, a court case last week detailed how a gang of Czech benefit fraudsters stood to make £1 million in bogus claims for child tax credits and child benefit, emphasising that benefit tourism can also include fraud on a vast scale.

Eurosceptic MPs said last night that the study and court case showed that Britain had to tighten up its borders and introduce stronger controls on welfare handouts.

The Government currently has no idea how much of Britain’s welfare budget, including unemployment benefits, is given to EU citizens because a claimant’s nationality is not recorded in the system.

Douglas Carswell, the Conservative backbench Euro-sceptic MP, said yesterday: “It is extraordinary how the European project has debased and debauched the original, noble idea of the welfare state.  “These figures show that the wave of benefit migrants has become a tsunami of economic refugees fleeing the eurozone crisis to try to find jobs here.  “We cannot both continue the free-at-the-point-of-use welfare state and benefits system and allow Europeans to flee the eurozone and come here.  “It is decision time. I would rather we quit Europe and had our own system of social protection.”

The details of the report are the first concrete assessment of the impact of mass migration on Britain and other countries from predominantly eastern European countries including Poland, Lithuania, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

The report studied the numbers of unemployed EU citizens coming to Britain looking for work, showing that the number coming without jobs has risen by 73 per cent in three years.

The report suggests that: “Between 2006 and 2012 there has been a steady increase of 42 per cent in the number of non-active EU migrants in the UK. While between 2005 and 2006 the growth of non-active EU migrants in the UK stagnated, since 2006 it has been steadily rising.

“A particularly high increase can be noticed between 2009 and 2011. The number of job-seeking EU migrants increased by 73 per cent between 2008 and 2011, while the total EU migrant population (active and non-active) increased by only 28 per cent.”

The report also shows the extraordinary burden on the NHS, concluding it is equivalent to more than one per cent of the total NHS budget of £1.5 billion.  The NHS is under financial pressure because although it is excluded from government austerity measures, demands on it are outstripping the growth in its budget.

Only Italy, of the major countries, came close to such a burden on its health care system, with a bill of £620 million, the report finds.

Open Europe, the think tank, said evidence from the study — described as a fact-finding analysis — suggested Britain was counting the cost of an EU migrant boom.  The rise suggests that many EU citizens have been coming to Britain as a result of economic difficulties, especially in eastern Europe and Mediterranean countries such as Greece and Portugal.

Although the report details the cost to the Government in stark terms, it comes with a conclusion that there is “little evidence” that EU citizens came to Britain to collect state benefits – and the practice known as “benefit tourism” was largely a myth.

The study states “the vast majority of migrants move to find (or take up) employment”. The report concludes that “the budgetary impact” of claims by “non-active” EU migrants “on national welfare budgets is very low” and adds: “The same is true for costs associated with the take-up of health care by this group.”

Open Europe said the report was misleading — “possibly wilfully” — in its conclusions and in apparently ignoring the evidence its authors had gathered.

Mr Andor, who commissioned the report, is to use the conclusions that migration is mostly for work as part of a landmark European Court case he is bringing against the Government.  Mr Andor has accused Britain of discriminating against EU citizens by restricting their ability to claim state benefits through a “right to reside” test introduced in 2004 to stem the flow of claimants from the new Eastern European member states. The test does not apply to UK citizens. 

Mr Andor plans to lodge a legal action with the European Court of Justice. If successful, it would outlaw the “right to reside” test. This would open Britain’s benefits system to tens of thousands of extra EU citizens at an estimated cost of £150 million — although the figure could be far higher.  Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, has suggested the figure might be as high as £2 billion.

Experts point out that while most EU migrants may move between countries to look for jobs the British system makes it easier than most other countries’ to claim benefits.  This is because British benefits are based on means-testing rather than on the recipient having made previous national insurance contributions.

European law says all EU citizens in a member country must have the same rights, so it is illegal to stop migrants from the rest of the EU claiming the same as British citizens. Similarly, NHS facilities are not dependent on paying any form of health insurance, as they are free at the point of access.

Conversely, the law means British people who move to countries such as France which only pay benefits to people who have contributed in the past cannot receive benefits and are likely to face severe restrictions on health care.

Stephen Booth, research director at Open Europe, said: “The European Commission is, wilfully or otherwise, presenting this whole issue misleadingly. It is the European Commission that is attempting to move the goalposts by taking the UK to court over the existing safeguards that ensure the UK’s welfare system is not abused.  “If the commission gets its way, the UK’s rules for gaining access to benefits will be relaxed substantially.”

The Department for Work and Pensions said last night it would resist attempts by the EU to weaken its “right to reside” tests. A spokesman said a new, streamlined universal benefits system would make it more difficult to abuse.

The spokesman said: “We have strict rules in place to protect the integrity of the British benefits system and make sure it is not abused.  “We are also going further by strengthening the habitual residence test and time-limiting how long some migrants can claim benefits.”

The commission has accused the Government of failing to provide proof of the extent — or even existence — of “benefits tourism”.
A submission to the report’s authors by the Government said it did not keep statistics on the nationalities of benefits claimants.


IRS/White House Collusion in the War on Religion

It is outrageous enough that the IRS and The White House were working in tandem so that the IRS shared confidential taxpayer information with the president and/or his aides. What makes the law-breaking doubly contemptible is that the information was shared in the context of a lawsuit against the despicable, unconstitutional ObamaCare abortifacient/contraceptive mandate:

[Top ObamaCare official Sarah Hall] Ingram attempted to counsel the White House on a lawsuit from religious organizations opposing Obamacare’s contraception mandate. Email exchanges involving Ingram and White House officials — including White House health policy advisor Ellen Montz and deputy assistant to the president for health policy Jeanne Lambrew — contained confidential taxpayer information, according to Oversight.

This news is significant, as more incontrovertible evidence that there was collusion between the IRS and The White House -- in this context, designed to help President Obama and his administration combat the furor elicited by the mandate.

What's more, note that the confidential taxpayer information came in the context of the lawsuit from religious organizations. It seems the administration was trying to get the upper hand in the litigation involving them. And that the confidential information was, presumably, that of such (a) group(s) just highlights the Obama administration's adversarial stance toward religion, especially Catholicism. Look at the other evidence of administration indifference (or worse) to faith:

Preventing a priest from conducting Mass voluntarily;

Analogizing religious education to segregation;

Allowing Plan B to be offered over-the-counter to girls of all ages;

The President's offensive behavior at Georgetown;

The President's penchant for leaving the "Creator" out of the Declaration of Independence;

The administration's threat to court-martial Christians in the military who discuss their faith.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here


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