Election 2019: Spend, Spend, Spend! Is There a Tomorrow?

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Ever since 2008, when the bottom fell out of the financial markets, we have been living in one of the longest economic downturns ever.

The economies of the ‘western world’ have been largely propped up by printing money and cutting back on services – AUSTERITY! Yes, it was the mantra.

That’s why, as in the UK for example, there’s a manifestation of potholes in the roads which never seem to get repaired.

So why now, in this election, has austerity suddenly been cancelled? Even the Tories, often the champions of cut backs, have promised to spend billions on the NHS and put up the minimum wage above £10 an hour. Conservatives?

Don’t believe it

Naturally, from the evidence of the past, we have to treat each manifesto promise with extreme caution. However, the government of any complexion is promising to spend like there’s no tomorrow – and thereby borrow – billions and more billions to add to the already catastrophic levels of debt….. when there is little or no sign of an economic upturn.

It has been argued that large government spending schemes, like improving the infrastructure, can actually kick start the economy and create many jobs. This may be so, but if so why has it taken so long for this to happen?

Over the previous decade we have all taken hits and cut backs, the medicine of austerity, whilst the economy has been essentially bumping along the bottom, only to be told now that even the Conservatives have ‘seen the light’ and we can spend ourselves out of the doldrums.

The cynic in me says I should not believe a word of it.

copyright Francis Barker 2019

Brexit Precedents No.4 – The End of the Hundred Years War between England and France

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On July 17 1453, the same year that Constantinople and the Byzantine Empire fell, England and English influence was effectively kicked out of France for good following the decisive Battle of Castillon.

It was another example of the see-saw, in-out relationship the island of Great Britain (in this case the major part of it called England) has had with the continent for a long time.

Ever since 1066, when William of Normandy conquered England and became its king, there had been strong ties to France. However, when Normandy was lost in 1204 during the reign of King John, successive English kings had hankered for its return; they were after all directly descended from the conqueror.

English invasion and victory

By the late 1330s King Edward III, who was himself largely of French ancestry, was in a position to invade France following a dispute about the long held English territory of Gascony in SW France.

In June 1340 Edward III won a decisive naval victory against the French at the Battle of Sluys, which marked the beginning of the so called Hundred Years War. By the end of the decade, following even more crushing victories at the Battles of Crecy and Poitiers, Edward was in control of large parts of France and even had the French king John II as a prisoner.

Then the so called ‘Black Death’ intervened in 1348/9. The treaty of Bretigny was eventually signed in 1360, leaving England in full charge of an expanded area in SW France. This marked the end of the first phase of the war, an often punctuated stalemate lasting fifty years, which saw France regain the upper hand diplomatically and make incursions into English territory.

The English conquest of France

Then in 1415, just two years after ascending the English throne, King Henry V re-ignited the conflict with his invasion of France. Following an unlikely victory at Agincourt that October, Henry went on, over the next couple of years, to re-conquer Normandy and push on from there to take large areas of northern France to add to those in the SW. Henry had become the undisputed master of France and heir to the French throne, once Charles VI had died. Unfortunately for Henry he was to die six weeks before Charles, leaving the throne of both England and France to his year old son, Henry VI in 1422.

Although the English held on to many of their French possessions for another generation, the loss of Burgundian support and the weakness of character of Henry VI, ensured their eventual defeat and removal from France and the continent of Europe, leaving only little Calais an English possession until 1558.

Out of Europe once again

So England and Great Britain had exited militarily and politically once again, though the monarchs of England would retain their claim on the French throne for several centuries after the defeat. England became more insular after this point, and following the disastrous Wars of the Roses which occurred immediately after the loss of France, the country became more obviously a nation with a nationalistic outlook.

The underrated King Edward IV, one of the Yorkist kings of England, attained enough stability in his kingdom to successfully invade France once more in 1475. However, he was in turn bought off by the French king Louis XI with a huge ‘bribe’ in the Treaty of Picquigny and returned home with his army.

Only the spiritual and ecclesiastical links remained across Europe and Great Britain, the power of the Roman Catholic Church. But even this, as it turned out, was not sacrosanct – but that’s another story in the list of this island’s fractious in-out relationship with Europe.

copyright Francis Barker 2019

 

Brexit Precedents No.2 – 410 AD, Roman Emperor Honorius tells Britons to Look After Themselves

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The period of Roman rule of Britain is quite clearly defined. Although Julius Caesar had attempted invasion twice a century before, it was the Emperor Claudius who successfully invaded Britain in 43 AD, marking the beginning of the province of Britannia, which, interestingly, did not permanently include what we now call Scotland.

The provincial borders came to be defined by Hadrian’s Wall in the north, created in the early 2nd century AD, and then quite fleetingly by the Antonine Wall in the Scottish midlands.

Boudicca had attempted to destroy the Roman power in the land with her rebellion of 60 – 61AD, but it ultimately failed, although it was a clear sign that Britons were not so easily assimilated into the empire, nor keen on the notion of being ruled by a distant dictator.

A crumbling empire in the west

By the late 4th century, however, several legions had already been withdrawn, leaving the province more open to attack from the Picts to the north and by Germanic raiders, the Anglo Saxons, along the eastern and southern seaboard.

By 410 AD the situation had got so serious that British leaders requested help from the then Roman emperor Honorius. However, due to his ongoing struggles nearer home in Italy and the western empire in general, trying to repulse invasions by other Germanic tribes, he sent his ‘Rescript of Honorius’ back to the Britons, basically telling them that they had to look after themselves, because he was in no position to do so.

Although subsequent Roman leaders probably wanted to re-establish proper links to this far flung province, they never did because the empire in the west was slowly falling apart, finally ending in 476 AD.

So Britain, or at least most of it, had been under Roman rule for over 350 years, a significant time. Now it was cast adrift and largely at the mercy of invasions from the east and north.

The beginnings of England

The Romano British warlords, ‘King’ Arthur quite likely being one of them, did their best to defend the country. However, gradually, as more Angles, Saxons and Jutes (and others) who had been living to the north of the empire, settled over the next two centuries, the foundations of the country we now call England began to take hold, in the form of petty kingdoms ruled by Germanic warlord aristocrats.

Of course, we can’t compare this history too much to what is happening now. For one thing, the Romans left Britain, whereas today’s Brexit is the other way round, Britain leaving the EU, allegedly. And then there’s the duration factor too. For example, the United Kingdom has only been in the Common Market/European Economic Union/European Union since January 1 1973 – not 350 years.

Britain may leave the EU but Romans abandoned Britain

And of course, the Roman takeover was largely hostile, whereas Britain’s deferring of powers to the EU has been granted peaceably, albeit foolishly according to a growing number of British patriots.

Nevertheless, it is an interesting comparison and another example of the island of Great Britain being a part of Europe but always likely to be either less well thought of by central Europeans, abandoned, forgotten, or even seeking to go its own way, looking beyond with an independent spirit.

One can imagine the uneasy feeling of the people of Britain 1600 years ago, knowing that the protection they had known for so long had been withdrawn.

Do those who want to remain in the EU today feel the same? And do Brexiteers, like some of the populace back at the end of Roman Britain, feel more of a sense of opportunity, the chance to create something freer?

copyright Francis Barker 2019

Poem: The Victory of Halloween

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The spirits have driven out the saints:
The eve overshadows the main event.
The dead and their cohorts come out once more,
to frolic and to taunt, to dare you to deny
that the old world of the one God is gone.

copyright Francis Barker 2019

Brexit Precedents: No 1

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Whatever did Britons (and others) do for news stories before Brexit?

When this long running political and parliamentary shenanigans is finally sorted (if) – will we actually, in some strange way – miss it?

Now that ‘the can has been kicked down the road’ once more, as they say, there is still no end in sight, not even with a ‘flextension’, where the United Kingdom could leave at any time before January 31 2020. But don’t hold your breath, expect the unexpected might be a good statement to keep in mind.

The whole issue of Brexit reminded me of the people of Great Britain’s long running in/out relationship with the continent of Europe, not merely historically, politically and economically, but geographically.

When the ice sheets melted at the end of the last ice age, roughly 10 to 11000 years ago, what is now the island of Great Britain was, for a time, connected to the continent by an ever diminishing land bridge, which eventually disappeared.

It would appear this separation was wholly and permanently defining for the people of Great Britain, wherever they came from, and remains so right up until the present day. Britain is part of Europe, yet it is clearly a very distinct part of it, symbolised by its island status and the fractured relationship it has had, and still has, with Europe’s varying political institutions.

In the next piece I will look at other examples of ‘Brexit’ from the past.

copyright Francis Barker 2019

Astrology Musings: Brexit – A Done Deal?

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When PM Johnson and EU President both tweeted at 10:35 am this morning, claiming they had secured a deal in the interests of both sides, I couldn’t resist having a look at the chart of that time set for Brussels.

Fascinatingly, a well aspected Mercury planet of communication was found exactly conjunct the ascending degree (AC) in Scorpio. A very apt time to make a communication or statement in the sign of secrecy (which has been a characteristic of  these talks), especially considering all the cloak and dagger machinations that have been going on for days, if not weeks.

Mercury is ruler of the 11th and 8th houses, hinting at more positivity in regard to aims, legislation and further financial arrangements. Jupiter in its own sign in the 2nd house too, encourages economic growth through free trade deals (Sagittarius).

Continuing Combustion

However, I also note that Uranus, planet of disruption and change is in the 7th house (using whole signs) of deals, treaties, diplomacy – not a good sign and may indicate the continuing combustible nature of these protracted negotiations, where the PM is trying to keep all sides on board, a nigh on impossible task.

Financial arrangements are also going to continue to be very volatile, especially in regard to settlements (Taurus is the major money sign). Uranus is also in difficult aspect to Venus in the first house, Taurus’ ruler, a further indication of fallouts about money and security.

Only a quick look and few insights but clearly this is far from over – but I guess we already knew that.

copyright Leofwine Tanner 2019

*If you would like your own personal astrology report please contact me at leoftanner@gmail.com

Haiku: Faith

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Once it moved mountains
Right now we can’t build a thing
Sure sign of the times

copyright Francis Barker 2019