Technological difficulties have limited the Commentaries I have sent in the last 10 days. These originated from the take-over of the organisation managing the distribution of my emails by an organisation which then showed itself incapable of distributing them as before. That takeover organisation did not consult or inform me first and I am now reviewing the takeover.
The period during which the new organisation has been operating has witnessed some important events both here and overseas. This Commentary draws attention to some of the implications of two – Brexit and Turnbull’s Dinner with Muslim Leaders. The Brexit result has particular implications for the forthcoming Australian election.
Brexit – Immigration and Government Intervention
David Cameron has been British PM since May 2010 and won a second term in May 2015 with an all Conservative government (his first government was a Coalition with the Liberal Democrats). That second term was won with a much larger majority (331-232) than predicted by polls, probably because the polls under-estimated the (then) unpopular proposals by Labour Leader Millibrand (now replaced by the extremist Corbyn!). An independent inquiry into the polling suggested that the polling methods resulted in conservative voters being under-represented. The 72.7% who voted on the EU referendum exceeded the proportion in the May 2015 election (66.4%) and the 1975 European referendum’s 64.62%. Reports indicate that those who voted to leave appear to have comprised a high proportion of lower-middle income groups.
After resisting pressure from within the Conservative Party to review the EU relationship, Cameron was forced to agree to an EU referendum in 2013 “to settle this European question in British politics” once and for all. While prior to the referendum Cameron had tried to persuade the EU to reduce its decision-making powers in regard to British services and immigration, he obtained only minor “concessions”. Cameron then led the debate for staying by using what has seemed to be an increasingly exaggerated prediction of economic damage (and even an increased risk of war) if the UK left. Most other world leaders (sic) also used exaggerated adverse predictions in support of Britain staying. There seems little doubt that this resulted in a larger leave vote from those dissatisfied with government interventions.
Since the outcome of the referendum the alarmist views previously expressed by Cameron and other socialist inclined leaders appear to have been moderated. Cameron himself has been “caught” in that he has (surprisingly in my view) announced he will continue to be PM for a period and has thus been forced to acknowledge that Britain’s economy is strong and could operate well while outside the EU. While financial markets have experienced substantial falls in both equities and currencies, these may largely reflect the unwinding of positions taken on the expectation of a stay result. The UK share market, for example, fell sharply on Friday but actually rose by about 2% over the week ended Friday.
As to the advocates for leaving, Boris Johnson has been an MP only since 2015 (he was previously Lord Mayor of London) but has been one of the leaders of the argument for leaving the EU. He is popularly seen as a successor to Cameron when the latter resigns in September/October at the time of the next Conservative Party Conference but does not appear to have wide support within the Conservative Party. Johnson did however put considerable emphasis on the issue which has received only limited attention here, namely the level of immigration into the UK and the inability of the British government to control immigration of residents of European countries. Johnson expressed support for what he described as the Australian points system for immigration and was strongly supported by Justice Minister Gove and Nigel Farage, the leader of the UK Independence Party who had probably the greatest influence (he only has a seat in the European Parliament). Labour leader Corbyn supported Cameron and failed to address the immigration issue.
These articles by Terry McCrann and Greg Sheridan express strong support for the leave decision. Note Sheridan’s comment that the leave decision “is purely a rejection of the EU, and the gross interference of its regulations, the insanity of its economic model and all the crises the EU creates”. I have commented before on the absurdity of the common exchange rate (not applying to the UK) amongst countries which are able to run different budgetary and industrial relations policies – a recipe for creating individual countries which lose their competitiveness but cannot reduce their exchange rate. McCrann argues that “a Britain … outside the utterly dysfunctional EU” will be a more desirable place to own a property and suggests that “there is no catastrophic implosion that flows from the vote event” as happened in the wake of Lehman in 2008. He refers to the revolt of “very clever wrong-thinking stupid (sic) people” as having “the potential to roll back hopefully the great Global Warming Scam/Stupidity/Insanity”.
Whether decisions based on dissatisfaction with governments will in fact follow in other policy areas must be doubted given that there is no sign yet that existing world leaders will change policies to any marked extent. This includes the leaders of most European countries. Those leaders will, however, face pressure to hold their own referenda on EU membership, most notably in France and Holland. There will also be an important change in the President of the US. Trump has expressed support for the leave EU decision (Obama supported the stay) and a Clinton President would face a potentially different national and international environment. As a UK academic at London University described the leave vote, “I think the referendum has exposed, but not created, a crisis in our representative system and that crisis I think has been building for some time, but last night it erupted”.
As to Australia, we expressed concern in the 1970s at the UK decision to join the European unification move and the potential for adverse trade effects. That has in fact occurred but we have been able to develop alternative markets. At the same time our relations with the UK have much diminished, with very few visits by British PMs (too busy on EU issues!). Turnbull supported a stay result for the same reason that other world leaders did: he was doubtless advised that it was the right thing to do. He has failed to make full use of the importance of the immigration issue or take advantage of Johnson’s support of the Australian policy and has not used the excessive interventionism of the EU to indicate that the Coalition seeks to reduce that in Australia. His response that the EU vote result emphasises “the importance of a stable, majority Coalition government to withstand global headwinds and challenges” also adds nothing to the potential for the UK to benefit and Australia to do so too. For example, the possibility that an “independent” UK will insist on equal treatment of Australian wine with European. Nor does his repetition of “my economic plan for jobs” and growth add anything of substance.
Interpreting the Muslim Religion
I have previously praised the improvement in Turnbull’s assessment that the age of terrorism is “overwhelmingly inspired by radical Islamist ideology”. But he has accompanied that with a plea to avoid tagging all Muslims or their religions with the crimes of “a tiny terrorist minority”. Moreover, as indicated in this article by The Australian’s Cameron Stewart, the totally false claim by ASIO chief Duncan Lewis remains extant ie his absurd rejection of any connection between Islamic extremism and the Muslim religion still stands.
The reality is that a significant proportion of Muslims support jihadism and a number attended the dinner at Kirribilli House arranged by Turnbull. It appears that at least three of those invited to the dinner had previously expressed support of the death penalty for “offences” under sharia law. Since the dinner The Australian has also revealed that the Islamic leaders who were invited included recipients of government grants of $10 mn in the past year to promote “social cohesion”. Another revelation is that an Islamic Centre in Sydney hosted a gay-hate preacher who had toured Florida before the Orlando massacre and who told the Centre that homosexuals should be got rid of. The Centre was headed by an Iranian Sheik who was deported as a spy but is still listed as head.
The attached article draws attention to similar problems overseas, including the (failed) attempt by the FBI to censor the remarks of the Orlando killer so as to avoid referring to his allegiance to Islamic State. It also refers to Obama’s refusal to use the word “Islamic” when describing the killer’s terrorist act. Even the US Attorney General initially went down the same path. It is little wonder that Trump criticised the US Administration and that Clinton felt it necessary to acknowledge that ISIS at least “inspired” the terrorist act. Perhaps this will result in an improvement in US Government policies and language after the Presidential elections.
Note also that the long (still continuing) Coroner’s hearings on the Monis killings in Lindt Café appears to have revealed that NSW police need to improve their understanding of the behaviour of Islamists (as well as their strategies in handling them). And that Monis “can still be mentally unstable and have been an Islamic terrorist”.
What seems clear is that the Federal and State governments need a major review of their handling of the potential threat from Islam and the extent of jihadism.