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Sunday, 23 April 2017

Employees should have the right to be just very good in their job, without having to show further ambitions and they should get a better payment for it too.

My youngest son Roger is a 9-year old powerhouse at chess: he is extremely ambitious, a genuine fighter from the trenches of the game and always hungry for more training and more information about the noble game of chess. And perhaps most important: he somewhat lacks the power of self-relativization.

This capacity for self-relativization is a capacity which would make him a more easy human being to live with, but would probably hamper him in his possibilities to become a professional sportsman in chess. Although a world or even European championship in chess will probably not be achieveable for him, he is nevertheless definitely striving for it and he is very much willing to walk the extra mile for his goals regarding chess. No limits, no boundaries…

His older brother Edmond, a very adorable person who is perhaps somewhat softer and more empathic than his little brother, also likes to play chess and in his own right he is very good at it. However, in comparison with his younger brother his own achievements pale.  

As this is amateur sports and not real life in which both would have to live from their hobby, this is not a very big problem. “As long as they have fun while doing it”, is in our family (and in many other families) the creed guiding us in the way that we look at the sportive achievements of our children.

However, when it comes to common labour and especially the middle-class jobs for higher educated and trained personnel, it seems that this way of thinking is not viable anymore. Many companies in challenging fields of labour, like the financial and commercial services industry or the manufacturing industry and the government demand nothing less than absolutely first class achievements from their personnel: all day every day!

Job vacancy descriptions – even for the simplest jobs – nowadays show lines like:
  • Ample ambition to grow both as a worker and a person;
  • A genuine passion for their work;
  • An agile attitude, enabling applicants to adapt to constant change and to achieve continuous improvement;
  • No ‘nine to five mentality’, but a ‘getting the job done’ attitude: during working time and when the situation requires it beyond;
  • Ambitions for life long learning to stay ahead of the game;
  • To be up or be out; 

And to make things worse for the modern-day workers, there is always Damocles’ sword, represented by at one hand the still enormous influx of cheap labour from Eastern and Southern Europe or India and on the other hand the ubiquitously mounting automation and robotization of their daily work and jobs. These circumstances combined put their job and in fact their sheer future on the line.

If such workers are not good enough or cannot live with the pace of modern businesses, they are doomed to lose their job and sole source of income to either the cheaper workers from abroad or to the computers and robots of modern day life. This circumstance turns a normal daily job in a kind of top sports achievement with fierce competition, a lot of pressure and enormous challenges on a daily basis.

And as professional sports require a “killer” mentality to become the best in the game at the expense of the competition, it goes without saying that for every “winner” there are countless losers who simply aren’t good enough to fix the job and win the medals.

However, in normal jobs it is often much better when people cooperate intensively and when they trust and help each other fully in order to make the company as a whole benefit from the fruits of their labour. Where the topsports mentality leads to successes for a few persons, the rest feels victimized by it and loses confidence in their own abilities and in their mutual goals and dreams that drive the company as a whole. This could be devastating for the success of this company.

And there is more. Where the winners of the company – the executive board and the upper management levels of the company – celebrate their own achievements with extremely high and ever rising remunerations in a so-called remuneration race with other CEO’s and leading managers all around the globe, the salaries and wages of the normal workers remain at a very stable level. As a matter of fact, in many cases their annual payment rises are close to nought [when adjusted for inflation – EL].

For older workers (i.e. well above fifty) there is nowadays even the looming danger of ‘demotion’, in which they get an easier job (i.e. less requiring), but against a lower annual payment. It is not really a pretty prospect when you have three children in high school or at the university, when a substantial part of your paycheck may vanish in thin air, due to a lower remuneration.

The future for lower and middle class workers became more and more uncertain in general, as fixed jobs with lay off-protection became a luxury good, exclusively reserved for the higher echelons within the company. And former ‘lifetime’ jobs have been replaced for the uncertainty of an existence as either freelancer (i.e. ZZP’er in The Netherlands) or as a worker with only temporary contracts or zero hour contracts for a substantial number of  years in a row. The latter is now especially true for younger workers below their mid thirties, but also older workers, who were so unfortunate to lose their fixed job, have to deal with this situation more and more often.

And the labour unions – earlier strongholds of workers’ rights, fair remuneration and labour protection – are standing more and more offside in the labour negotiations as a consequence of the changing mentality among workers and employers. This is mainly caused by the union’s excessive focus on their ageing, 50+ member base and – on top of that – the changing labour contracts leaving less room for union membership. This led to a perfect catch 22-situation in which the youngsters didn’t feel represented by the unions anymore and as a consequence refused to become members of these labour unions.

You could say that the labour unions managed to squander their worker’s confidence and goodwill, as many younger workers now think that they don’t need them anymore and the unions are useless for their own labour situation. These workers are probably wrong, but it is quite understandable why they think so.

The waning popularity of the unions is exploited by the employers’ organizations, who seemingly take their chances to humiliate the unions during the (typical Dutch) general negotiations (i.e. ‘the polderoverleg’), in which the union’s and employers’ demands (including the government as large employer) for the coming years are negotiated.

The following snippets come from the Dutch newspaper Trouw:

The labour unions reacted furiously. That there were a lot of hurt feelings from the past, became clear in the reaction of FNV [i.e. largest Dutch labour union- EL] chairman Han Busker: “Now they do it again. First they continue with shifting all risks to their workers and making uncertain labour the standard modus operandi. After that the attack started against lay off-protection. And now they kick the can down the road with respect to the mutually made agreements from the Social Agreement (i.e. the Dutch society-wide general agreement between employers, workers and the government) of 2015. This is pure unwillingnesss. This is aiming for prolonged uncertainty”.

And CNV [second largest labour union - EL] chairman Maurice Limmen was also enraged: “Employers are busy with demolishing the polder. We had ironclad agreements with these employers that we would repair the unemployment benefit [for older workers – EL]. What are deals with employers worth now?! We had some concrete arrangements to start from. But now the employers are frustrating these deals. This is not how it works. Older employees and workers really deserve this security. When things continue like this, it makes no sense to continue the negotiations regarding the other urgent problems on the Dutch labour market.”

This news message is symptomatic for the waning influence of the labour unions and the abuse of this circumstance by the employer’s organizations, but also for the unhealthy focus of the labour unions on the older workers, as their almost exclusive grassroots. The younger workers feel not represented anymore by the labour unions, but by waving their union membership they make sure that they indeed are not represented by the labour unions anymore.  This is a very unhealthy situation.

Perhaps all these deteriorating circumstances form a good way to activate the top sports mentality and ‘killer approach’ among the workers, but in the end it will prove to be bad for the workers AND the companies themselves: I am actually quite certain about that.

The labour market as ‘survival of the fittest’ seems to be the favorite dream of many ambitious companies and management consultancy firms. The ‘World of LinkedIn, McKinsey, Goldman Sachs, PWC and the Boston Consulting Group’ focuses solely on these “top sporters” and successful company sharks with skyhigh ambitions and no patience for less fortunate workers and in fact stimulates them in their “erratic” behaviour.

According to me, this leads to ubiquitous distrust and envy among workers and it rewards a ‘dog eat dog’ behaviour between people, who should in fact all be fighting for the same just cause, but often fail to do so, as they consider it not to be in their own interests.

I consider that counterproductive...

Not everybody is fit to be a ‘top sporter’ in his labour achievements and nobody should be forced to behave like one, unless it is his ultimate desire to become one. Perhaps in the end those companies are most successful that give their workers the security they need and the chance to be themselves and to improve themselves in a slow evolutionary way that feels natural and safe for them.

These are companies where doing the best you can is good enough, as long as you fit in the team and make the company as a whole better. No sports team can exist without the ‘water carriers’ who simply do their job well and require little attention and only the slightest compliment from their coaches.

And no company can either... For instance rowing on the Thames with only captains, helmsmen and lone rangers in the team and no ordinary rowers and teamplayers is no guarantee for success. To the contrary… And football teams with only stars and primadonna’s bring seldomly the success that their coaches and fans aim at.

I would advocate companies where good workers have the chance to excel in their jobs and just be good (or excellent) at it, without needing to have ambitions to reach higher and higher annually. When these workers want to grow, they should have all the chances, but if they don’t want to and they like their own job most, why should they always feel the obligation to grow?!

Even though that might seem counterproductive and even a catalyst for stagnation and (worse) decline of the company, it might be the contrary: happy and motivated workers will probably produce more and better products than unmotivated and scared workers, who constantly worry about their personal growth and their chances of being fired at the spot.

And there is more: please be so smart to pay workers for the increased productivity that they achieved in their hard hours of labour. In a country as The Netherlands, the wage development is nowhere near the productivity rise during the last fifteen years, as the following table shows. In this table I compared the general productivity increase in The Netherlands with the wage increase during the last 15 years.

Net wage development vs productivity growth 2001-2015
Data courtesy of Statline (powered by the
Central Bureau of Statistics:
Click to enlarge
When one does not take the inflation into consideration, he could think that the wages increased much more than the productivity in The Netherlands. However, when the inflation (i.e. based upon the consumer price index) is taken into consideration, the total net wage increase between 2001 and 2015 was little more than 2.5%, against a productivity increase of 15.5%. This shows the substantial void between what employees produce and for what they are paid nowadays.

Due to wage restraint and job flexibilization, the wages of lower and middle  class workers have virtually stood still during the last fifteen years, while their productivity and thus the profits of their employers grew steady, by in average 1% per year.

Therefore it is time to pay the workers their share of this productivity increase, instead of focusing on shareholder value alone or on new and more modern computer systems and even robots to totally replace these employees within a few years. This should be a reward for their loyalty and for their will to give the best of themselves on a daily basis.

Motivated workers can still work wonders in a company, while computers and robots are very complex and therefore are often extremely hard to implement in an existing working situation. One could say that computers are in fact not always the best solution, in spite of the current state of technology.

And those top sporters among your personnel?! They are always extremely hard to keep within your company and their loyalty lies often with the person that pays the highest paycheck. There is no guarantee that it always will be you and your company...

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Does the Euro survive the ignorance and superficiality of the European populist politicians, but even more the moderate goverment leaders and politicians who increasingly follow in their footsteps?

Suddenly the odds for the survival of the European Union seem considerably higher in 2017 than during the catastrophic year 2016, in which the future for the European Union was very bleak indeed.

2016 was the year of the Syrian and African refugee crisis, in which the usual solidarity and good relations between the European countries came under fierce pressure. Many European countries, not lying in the front line of refugee arrivals like Spain, Greece and Italy do, refused to accept their fair share from the influx of refugees numbers. This left especially Italy and Greece in problems, as they were stuck with large numbers of desperate refugees, with nowhere to go and nowhere to hide.

It was also the year in which the authoritarian voices of Viktor Orbán (Prime Minister of Hungary) and Jarosław Kaczyński (leader Law and Justice Party of Poland) sounded more shrill than ever in their battle against the free press and other vital ingredients of a democratic structure. Already this behaviour led to steadily mounting animosity within the European Union

On top of that, 2016 was the year in which the Dutch referendum about the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement ended in a blatant loss for the pro-agreement government of Dutch PM Mark Rutte. This forced PM Rutte to kick the can down the road with respect to the Association Agreement and play a game of hide and seek with the people from the anti-agreement coalition.

These people demanded an immediate withdrawal from the whole agreement by The Netherlands – including the trade parts of it that were outside the scope of the Dutch government. This was a demand that PM Mark Rutte could never meet, without causing enormous commotion in Europe and everybody and their sister knew that.

And last, but not least, 2016 was the year of the British referendum about their membership of the European Union. A referendum, that had been dreaded and cursed in advance by most continental politicians and that left many British citizens and almost all European leaders in shock and awe, when the British population voted in majority in favour of a Brexit, thus making the British exit from the EU inevitable.

This referendum made an immediate end to the political career of British PM David Cameron – as I accurately predicted a few days before the referendum took place  and it showed that the Brexit camp did not even have the slighest hint of a plan, when they would indeed win the referendum. The ideological leader of the Brexit camp Nigel Farage (UKIP’s ) left the British ravage for others to clean up and PM Theresa May – who was in fact against the Brexit herself – was appointed as ‘volunteer’ to clean up the mess, which she did in a very decisive and even reckless way.

At these very moments it seemed that the European Union was ‘a dead man walking’. The union, of which the raison d’etre and usefulness had never been in doubt in the previous 50-odd years of its existence, came under heavy crossfire from the populist movements everywhere in Europe, as well as from the middle-of-the-road politicians. These moderate politicians closely followed in the populists' footsteps in order to not lose their own grassroots to them, leading to an ubiquitous movement in more populist directions.

Except from the influx of African and Middle-Eastern refugees for which nobody seemed to have compassion, solidarity and understanding anymore, the main targets of these relentless attacks against the European Union by both the right- and leftwing populists and the moderate rightwing politicians were the open borders (i.e. ‘Schengen’) and… the Euro.

The mantras of these politicians were: the borders must be closed again, to stop the dangerous influx of refugees, as this creates havoc in the open and rich societies of Europe.

And especially the euro was “the most dangerous and crazy experiment” in their views, as:
  • It started without a proper financial, economic and monetary union, which all are necessary as a foundation for a sound financial system;
  • There was generally a Europe of two speeds, with the “frugal, conscious and successful” countries in the North of Europe (according to politicians in a.o Germany and The Netherlands) and the “wasteful, inconsiderate and backwarded countries” in the South (according to the same politicians in these two countries);
  • Countries like Greece and Italy should never have been allowed in the Eurozone in the first place, as they were financially and economically unstable and they ‘had lied about their financial and economic situation’ by rigging their national statistics and national, financial reporting;

Summarizing, at the end of 2016 things seemed very dire for the European Union, with populism on the rise – also among moderate politicians – and the EU under general crossfire from right- and leftwing politicians, for the alleged mistakes that it made in past and present.

And with general elections soon to be held in The Netherlands (Party for Freedom (PVV) – Geert Wilders), France (Front National – Marine le Pen) and Germany (AfD – Frauke Petri), it seemed that the situation could only turn more awkward for the EU.

But look now in the first half of 2017: even though Geert Wilders of PVV has gained five more seats in parliament, it wasn’t by far the landslide increase in seats that everybody thought he would gain, according to earlier polls.

And in France, the social-democrat candidate for the presidency Emmanuel Macron seems a trustworthy and undisputed opponent for the anti-EU stance of Marine Le Pen.

Instead of protests against the European Union and the Euro, there is a growing number of protests in favour of the EU and the Euro, as many people now consider what they have and how valuable it is.

On top of that, everybody can nowadays see the ‘ultralarge-scale sociological experiment’ that is the Brexit; everybody can see how the British government is struggling to bring it to a good end. And how clueless the victors of this referendum were, when they had won it.

Perhaps is 2017 indeed the year of the turning point in populism. As many people have seen that he European populists are masters in asking the right (or wrong) questions, but utterly fail in addressing these questions in a structural, legal and acceptable way. And populists are also extremely poor in binding a nation together in a way that everybody can have a decent life in peace and prosperity.

In order for populists to be successful, there must be groups available to suffer for them: the scapegoats, on which anything being wrong in society can be blamed. This blame game is only successful when everybody (i.e. nearly the total lower and middle classes) is suffering from difficult economic circumstances, which can be blamed on these groups under fire. 

Now that the economy is reluctantly, but steadily improving and joblessness is finally dropping, the feeding ground for populism is slowly disappearing. So perhaps, the worst in populism might indeed lie behind us. But that does not automatically apply to the Euro currency yet.

Due to the Eurozone’s inadequate strategy of kicking the can down the road with regards to especially Greece and Italy – temporary taking away the effects of the euro crisis without really solving the causes for the euro crisis itself – the confidence in the Euro, as the currency of choice for the European Union, is still at a low.

The debt level of Greece is nearly infinite until this day and the country is still in a very dire situation, without easy solutions. Instead of taking away the debt itself through a (partial) bail-out, the debt is rolled over to the future with yet again new loans, that will be as always very hard to pay back. In this way, the dire situation can last forever, as the tax collection in Greece, as well as the economic outlook for the country is still close to a disaster. And so the debt level of Greece remains a huge millstone for the future of the Eurozone and real solutions are still very hard to find.

And also Italy has still many rivers to cross before the country will be totally healthy, from a economic and financial point of view. In Italy there is always the difficult North-South situation with the rich and successful Northern provinces, against the poor and backwarded Southern provinces (‘according to many Italians, Africa starts directly under Rome’). On top of that there is the top-heavy political system and the still widespread corruption and extremely powerful organized crime that makes any change for the better very difficult in Italy.

Even though the economic situation in Spain and Portugal, and also in France, is slowly improving, the challenges ahead for the Euro as a unity currency are still enormous.

What does not help at such a moment is when the chairman of the Eurogroup, the rectilinear, ‘Calvinist’ swashbuckler Jeroen Dijsselbloem, states in an interview that the Southern European countries ‘have spent their emergency help money on "drinks and women" and now come begging for more’. This was not only a blatant lie, but leads to enormous anger in the Southern European countries, while diminishing the confidence in the Euro in the Northern European countries.

As this is the biggest danger for the Euro as a unity currency: the ignorance and superficiality (and sometimes sheer stupidity) of not only the populist politicians, but also the formerly moderate politicians, who all seem to do their best to weaken the position of the Euro, instead of reinforcing it.

It is not surprising that every now and then the same story comes around again that ‘Greece and Italy should be kicked out of the Eurozone’. This story is especially popular among more moderate politicians, as the populist politicians state that they and their countries want to leave the Eurozone themselves and return to their classic currencies.

The former, as well as the latter isn’t going to happen… at all! Forget it! Don’t even think about it!

The operation to reintroduce the old currencies in (some of) the Eurozone countries is the same, extremely expensive operation as the introduction of the euro between 1995 and 2002. And it will be equally difficult. 

One could think about all kinds of ‘paper drachmes’ and ‘paper lires’ for Greece and Italy, but the bottomline is that countries leaving the Eurozone would lead to economic havoc and ubiquitous uncertainty everywhere in Europe, with the extremely entangled financial and economic system that we have nowadays. 

There is absolutely no way to prevent that from happening!

We – the united people of Europe, represented by our own elected politicians and representatives – chose to introduce the Euro. Whether we like it or not, the Euro is here to stay and will never go away anymore, unless an economic cataclysm happens, like a war or a widespread and long depression in Europe.

You might ask: "Is the euro flawed?!" Yes, it undoubtedly is!

"Should the euro perhaps have started under different conditions?!" Perhaps, yes!

"But is there a better alternative available?!" No, there is not, in my humble opinion!

Every politician in Europe should accept that the Euro is here to stay and that replacing it for another currency is a nearly impossible challenge and - on top of that - a very dangerous one, from a political and economical point of view.

What politicians should do in order to save the Euro, is just stopping with weakening its position to begin with and instead looking for ways to improve it in its current, flawed, but yet unchangeable form. 

Just like the partners in an average marriage, the Euro is far from perfect, but just like the same partners, the Eurozone countries should try to make the best of it. That is what the European leaders should also try to do: make the best of it and lead it through the current, difficult crisis; hopefully towards a better and more prosperous future. That is in the interest of every European!

And of course the politicians should try to reinforce its foundations, by slowly, but surely working towards the monetary, financial and economic union as the best way to make the euro a more balanced currency. 

However, at this moment it will still be very hard to achieve that, under the still quite anti-EU stance of large groups in European society. Nevertheless, the leading politicians should hold on to this paramount strategy, as the best warranty for a more successful future. 

Like Bryan Ferry of Roxy Music sang in the Seventies: “Let’s stick together!”

Monday, 3 April 2017

Gibraltar and the domestic gains of old-fashioned, post-colonial sabre-rattling against a ‘vicious enemy’

I visited Gibraltar once in my life – in 1996 – during a fortnightly group roundtrip in a minivan in Spain. This roundtrip led us through the magnificent Spanish province of Andalucia and one day we visited indeed the most British part of Europe, located east of Dover.

I remember the beautiful view on the top of the mountain, the funny and energetic berber monkeys, the wonderful weather and the horrible British food – Shepherd’s Pie with overcooked carrots and greenpeas drowned in gravy –  which I suspect until this day gave our whole group a food poisoning that lasted for a minimum of two days for the lucky ones and among others much, much longer. But, to be frank, it could also be a fish dish in Spain itself, that caused our group’s discomfort.

And of course I remember how utterly British Gibraltar was, as a kind of open air museum crafted after the picture-perfect, proverbially British city that didn’t exist in reality. With red telephone booths, pubs, souvenir shops, restaurants featuring British ‘cuisine’ and other typically British paraphernalia for both tourists and anglophiles.

Now, twenty-odd years later, the same peninsula of Gibraltar is the subject of heavy, vocal sabre-rattling by both the Spaniards and the Britons.

Hardly the British government and diplomats delivered their Article 50-letter, effectuating the Brexit as a process, or the Spanish government smuggled a Gibraltar paragraph in the EU draft agreement that was the starting point for the orderly Brexit negotiations. The New York Times described the matter in the following snippets:

After it became clear Friday that the union’s remaining leaders might give Spain an effective veto over whether any deal applied to Gibraltar — a British territory long the subject of an acrimonious sovereignty dispute between London and Madrid — lawmakers in Britain and Gibraltar responded with defiance and concern.

Gibraltar’s chief minister, Fabian Picardo, made his anger clear on Friday, calling Spain’s tactic “disgraceful” and “predatory.” He said in a statement about the insertion of language on Gibraltar into the European Union’s draft guidelines for negotiating a British withdrawal: “This unnecessary, unjustified and unacceptable discriminatory proposed singling out of Gibraltar and its people was the predictable machination of Spain.”

In Gibraltar, which has a clear frontier with Spain, the fear is different. It is that once Britain is outside the European Union, which guarantees free movement of people, Spain could demand concessions or make the border with Gibraltar harder to cross, effectively isolating the territory.

Although the mounting emotions about Gibraltar are perhaps understandable with both the Spain and British views and background in mind, the Spanish action – to make the negotiations with the UK an effective hostage of the future British plans for Gibraltar – was not so sensible from a political point of view. Especially as Spain itself has two exclaves – Ceuta and Melilla – on Moroccon soil; two exclaves which Spain is not likely to abandon soon.

On top of that, the situation around Gibraltar never stopped both the Spaniards and Britons from actively working together for 40 years within the European Union and its predecessors. And it also never stopped the British elderly from spending their finest years in Spanish holiday resorts and second houses, at the same time that their youngsters spent their holiday money in Spanish discotheques and pubs, while drinking (much too much) Spanish beer, wine and cocktails.

So the question is valid “what the fuzz is all about”?!

And while the Spanish action was already quite erratic to these eyes, the British reaction – especially represented by former minister and current Tory official Lord Michael Howard, as well as a few warmongering British newspapers – was straightforwardly bananas, as the following snippets from the Guardian show:

Theresa May would be prepared to go to war to protect Gibraltar as Margaret Thatcher once did for the Falklands, former Conservative leader Michael Howard has suggested, in comments that were immediately criticised as inflammatory.

Lord Howard’s suggestion that the prime minister would be ready to follow in the footsteps of her predecessor 35 years ago came alongside a government pledge to protect the sovereignty of Britain’s overseas territory.

Downing Street said May had called Fabian Picardo, the chief minister of Gibraltar, on Sunday morning to say the UK remained “steadfastly committed to our support for Gibraltar, its people and its economy”.

Sir Michael Fallon, the defence secretary, also used robust language. “We’re going to look after Gibraltar. Gibraltar is going to be protected all the way because the sovereignty cannot be changed without the agreement of the people of Gibraltar ,” he said.

The highly provocative picture of a British aircraft 
carrier at full steam in the British Telegraph newspaper
Picture courtesy of
Click to enlarge
And the Telegraph put things in overdrive, with a picture of a British war vessel and the following bragging lines about the British military strenght in a possible war with Spain:

Britain's Royal Navy is substantially weaker than it was during the Falklands War but could still "cripple" Spain, military experts have said.

Rear-Adml Chris Parry, a former director of operational capability at the Ministry of Defence,  has called on the Government to "appropriately" invest in Britain's military capacity if it wants to "talk big" over Gibraltar.

It came as a former Tory leader suggested that Theresa May would go to war with Spain to defend the sovereignty of the peninsular just as Margaret Thatcher did with the Falklands.

Prime Minister Theresa May of the United Kingdom quickly downplayed the situation in the media, reputedly by “laughing off the Spain war talk”, but the tone was definitely set.

As this incident shows, a toxic combination of aggrieved pride and an inferiority complex, as well as unhealthy nationalism and an uncertain future under influence of arguably the biggest and most uncertain, economic step in recent British history, could quickly lead to mounting anger and dangerous envy among the British population. And this by itself could lead to irreversible steps on the path towards war: hence the Falklands war, with its massive bloodshed and skyrocketing emotions about a few dry and almost deserted islands in the South Atlantic Ocean.

By focusing on a mutual enemy – Spain in this case – the British officials can distract the attention from the mounting political and economic uncertainty and the quite unfavourable outlook, emerging from the inconsiderate, to these eyes even reckless Brexit that the United Kingdom entered into.

The promise of a war against a ‘vicious enemy’, who threatens a country’s social, economic and political interests, is a catalyst for exploding nationalism and national pride. It will probably lead to a population that stands behind the government as one man, more than willing to chew through a dozen economic, sour apples on behalf of the greater good and the national interests being at stake. That is the reason that I am not absolutely sure that the situation between the United Kingdom and Spain will not escalate further, before coming to a timely end (or not).

Is the current British escalation strategy a dangerous strategy? It is very dangerous!
Is it effective? Oh yes, it is very effective for domestic purposes, as it overcomes political differences within the population and leads to ‘one people united against the enemy’!
And might the British government – perhaps with Lord Howard as a straw man – have deliberately (ab)used this Gibraltar crisis as a powerful weapon of government mass deception and nationalist demagoguery?! 

Well, to answer that question I gladly turn to what Sir Francis Urquhart, the main political vilain from the (far superior) British ‘House of Cards’, would have stated in this situation: “You might very well think that! I could not possibly comment!”