Welcome to the Rudloe and environs website.
Here you will find news, articles and photos of an area that straddles the Cotswold Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in north-west Wiltshire.
Contributions in the form of articles or photos are welcome. Even those with completely contrary views to mine!
Thanks to the website builder 1&1 and Rob Brown for the original idea.
Rudloescene now, in January 2014, has a sister, academic rather than anarchic, website about Box history here: http://www.boxpeopleandplaces.co.uk/
It contains thoroughly professional, well-researched articles about Box and its people.
Contact rudloescene through the 'Contact' page.
Brexit? No, Remain!
When it comes to constitutional amendments, the United States requires a two-thirds majority in both houses of Congress followed by ratification by three-quarters of the state legislatures. But our then prime minister, autocratically, decided that the immense constitutional issue of our EU membership should be delegated to the people in a simple remain/leave referendum, with no precautionary measure. Not only was there no need for such a referendum in the first place but with no precaution in place, a majority of one would have been enough to trigger the process of leaving the EU. Quite ridiculous. And now, with the experience of the last 30 months and with changes in the demographic and, perhaps, changes in attitude, another vote could well go with remain. But either way, this is no way to run a railroad (as someone once said) never mind a country.
The mantra contrived by the leave cabal was ‘Take Back Control’ but our governments have relinquished control of our land, of our built environment, of our infrastructure and of our industries over many years. Do we have control over our infrastructure (see Infrastructure below)? Do we have control of our utilities (see Utilities below)? Do we have control over who may buy and control significant chunks of our cities and land (see Cities and Land below)? Do we have control of our companies (see ‘British’ companies below)? Do we have control of our railways (see Railway engineering and operations below)? Do we have control over our car industry (see Car industry below)? Do we have control of our football clubs (see Football clubs below). Do we have control over levels of immigration (see following paragraphs)?
Few people would doubt that worries about immigration were central to the referendum leave vote and this canard is still heard now (in January 2019) in statements and debates on and about Brexit. If we were truly concerned about this then shouldn’t we have had a referendum on non-EU immigration which comprises two-thirds of the total (a broad-brush figure is that of the 300,000 annual total, 200,000 are non-EU). So why do we continue to perpetuate this pretence? The reason that we cannot have such a debate is that, for the most part, non-EU immigrants are either ‘people of colour’ or black and a plebiscite would be viewed as (that much-feared term) ‘racist’. This word arrests the rational debate which should be taking place.
But control of immigration, whether EU or non-EU, has always been within our governments’ remit. ‘We’ (along with Ireland and Sweden) decided to open our jobs market to the Accession nations (Poland, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia) in 2004 thus initiating an unprecedented influx from these nations. Having said that, workers from these countries have made and are making a significant contribution to, for example, the cafe and restaurant scene in Bath and elsewhere. Eddie (Slovenia), Emma (Slovakia) and other Slovenes, Slovaks and a Lithuanian may be found speaking perfect English and providing good service at Kingsmead Kitchen; similarly Slavo (Slovakia) at Thoughtful Bread. There are many others from these nations at, for example, Rosario’s, Cafe Rouge, Bistro Pierre and Aqua adding to the already vibrant Italian, French and Spanish restaurant scene.
Locally, Wadswick (farm and country store) has had a Slovakian couple and a Lithuanian couple working at the farm and store for many years. The fine dry stone walling in and around the complex was undertaken by the ‘vyras’ from Lithuania. At Wadswick Green we find Bianca and her manager (both from Romania) in the Greenhouse restaurant. Bianca speaks English and French as well as Romanian of course and hails from Timisoara which is destined to be the European Capital of Culture in 2021. Timisoara was, apparently, the first city in mainland Europe to be illuminated by electric light (the things you learn in cross-cultural conversations!).
The much-used slogan ‘Take back control’ implies that we have to be out of Europe to control immigration but our governments have simply failed to use any of the methods by which immigration could have been controlled. Other EU countries implement biometric and residence checks in order to control ‘freedom of movement’. In Belgium, for example, after three months any EU migrant must either have a job or a realistic chance of one, be a dependent of a family member who does, or have funds to support themselves, along with sickness insurance. But we have never bothered to get EU residents to register their presence nor have we asked welfare claimants their nationality nor had any system for requiring EU migrants to take out health insurance.
As Jenni Russell, in a London Times article, has said: “For a country that is so resentful about migration, we have been astonishingly careless about measuring or managing it. We didn’t know who was here for two decades, because our governments removed exit checks in the 1990s. We then had no idea who was staying on.” How ironic then that the very Home Secretary who could have implemented such controls failed to do so and should now, as Prime Minister, pontificate about ‘Taking control of our borders’. In 2013, Theresa May’s Home Office admitted it gave all EU citizens unfettered free movement rights and had no way of collecting data on EU welfare claims.
But not only that, the UK and Ireland opted out of the EU Schengen agreement on open borders so, unlike the rest of the EU, we have always had physical exit and entry checks. But what was the point of opting out of this agreement if our border checks were ineffective with no systems in place to keep tabs on immigrants? We may as well have signed up to Schengen and would then have had access to the Schengen Information System which is used to find information about individuals and entities for the purposes of national security, border control and law enforcement.
‘Take back control of our borders’ has been adopted as a watchword (or watch-phrase) by the Leave camp but it is founded on a lie.
The following paragraphs suggest that successive British governments have relinquished control of the country over many years. The ‘Take back control’ mantra is simply a fabrication which, surprisingly (or perhaps not), so many people have fallen for.
One of the biggest, current infrastructure projects in the UK is Hinkley C. This is using Chinese finance and French nuclear engineering expertise (see Utilities below). Heathrow Airport and Gatwick, Bristol, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Belfast airports are under the control of, principally, foreign investors (Ferrovial (Spain) 25%, Qatar Holding 20%, Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec 13%, Government of Singapore Investment Corporation 11%). What happened to our ‘gold mine’, the North Sea oil revenues? Norway, which shared the North Sea oil bonanza, has established a trillion dollar sovereign wealth fund from its share - whatever happened to our money? Take back control? Our governments have handed over control to foreign companies and their shareholders and have squandered the returns on our assets.
The French and Germans would find it unconscionable that their water supplies were controlled by foreign companies but our governments have been happy to hand over such control. Here in Wiltshire, Wessex Water is a Malaysian company. Eleven other water companies including Thames Water, Bristol Water, South East Water and Yorkshire Water are foreign-owned. Of the Big Six energy suppliers, four (SSE, npower, ScottishPower and E.ON) are foreign-owned.
Electricite de France (EDF) is the majority owner of the UK's eight existing nuclear power stations (and the future Hinkley C) and generates around one fifth of the UK's energy. The 'minor' owner is the China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN). Toshiba has pulled out of a deal to build the Moorside nuclear power station in Cumbria; this cuts proposed nuclear plants from six to five (Wylfa, Oldbury etc) - these to be built by Hitachi/EDF. The Government has acceded to demands from Hitachi/EDF to invest £5 billion in the Wylfa (Anglesey) project and to underwrite a potential £20 billion cost overrun.
As part of the deal to underwrite the reactors at Hinkley and Sizewell, CGN has obtained the right to build their own Hualong One reactor at Bradwell in Essex. A west Cumbrian (Conservative) MP recently visited China asking CGN to 'rescue' Moorside.
Take back control? Our governments have handed over control to foreign companies and their shareholders.
Cities and Land
In the heart of the City, Paternoster Square, adjacent to St Paul’s, can trace its origins to medieval Paternoster Row, where the clergy of St Paul’s once walked holding their rosary beads and reciting the ‘Paternoster’, or Lord’s Prayer. Paternoster Square is now owned by the Mitsubishi Corporation.
A 14th April 2016 Times article included the following 'One hundred thousand properties in London have been bought through secret offshore companies. They include almost all the homes in Kensington Palace Gardens, Britain’s most expensive street, and 64 of the 76 apartments in One Hyde Park, London’s most expensive new development. The land owned by these companies across the UK covers an area three times the size of Greater London. Until 2013 these purchases even escaped the stamp duty that ordinary people had to pay. These anonymous buyers include friends of Bashar al-Assad, and an associate of a former Kazakh secret police chief accused of murder'. Criminal and laundered (principally foreign, non-European) money has poured into the London market, forcing prices up in every area, and snatching houses away from the people who live and work there. The movement of the white British is often characterised as white flight - the indigenous population forced out of their neighbourhoods by foreign money. According to census data, the capital's white British population fell by 620,000 between 2001 and 2011. Take back control? Our governments have handed over control to foreign buyers (many of whom are criminal and/or corrupt).
A tiny elite (e.g. Lord Barnard, the Duke of Westminster, the Sheik of Dubai etc) owns England’s grouse moors and this elite has a vast impact on England’s ecology. Burning old-growth heather has been shown to dry out and degrade peat soils. This ‘swaling’ as it is called, releases millions of tonnes of soil carbon, adding to global warming while reducing the resilience of uplands to the impacts of climate change. Swaling reduces the peat moors to a moon-like landscape. Desiccated bogs mean worse wildfires when it’s hot, like the blaze on Saddleworth Moor in 2017, and more flooding when it rains, like the flash floods that washed off Walshaw Moor in winter 2015 deluging Hebden Bridge in Yorkshire. Huge tracts of land have been trashed and communities flooded for the sake of an aristocratic bloodsport made popular in Victorian times.
So the flood-struck community of Hebden Bridge decided to fight back (and take control) by complaining to the European Commission that the owner of Walshaw Moor was breaching European directives by damaging the supposedly protected blanket bog on his grouse moor. The EC launched legal proceedings against the UK government for allowing (this tiny elite of) landowners across the English uplands to degrade the environment. So here we see why the current government wishes to ‘take back control’ from the European justice systems – it is, amongst other things, to protect their friends, the rich landowners.
And at the outset of David Cameron’s second term, the Government proposed to privatise the Land Registry. Imagine that! Not just land and property being in foreign hands but the organisation that registers it also (potentially)!
Twenty years ago, less than a fifth of the UK stock market was foreign-owned; by 2016, the proportion had risen to 53% (ONS stats). For the first time in history, UK plc is majority‑owned by foreigners. British Steel? Now Tata (Indian). Westland Helicopers? Now Leonardo (Italian). Pilkington’s Glass? Now NSG Group (Japanese). Cadbury’s? Now Mondelez (American). And so on and so on – and for the car and railway industries see the separate sections below. Take back control? Our governments have handed over control to foreign companies and their shareholders.
(In France, the loss of a Cadbury would be out of the question. Widespread state holdings in vital utilities act as a brake on proposed takeovers. The French have consistently resisted pressure to allow foreign energy companies to compete freely in their domestic market. They argue that it is in the national interest to prevent key technologies falling into foreign hands. Spain has worked hard to ensure that the country's energy companies remain Spanish. Germany believes that strength at home is the first step to success abroad. In Japan, selling a company over the heads of management is unthinkable. And in the United States, regulations exist to protect strategic assets. Given the resistance by other nations to overseas takeovers, why has Britain sold and is it continuing to sell the family silver?).
The automotive industry is a vital part of the UK economy accounting for more than £82 billion turnover and £20.2 billion value added. With some 186,000 people employed directly in manufacturing and in excess of 856,000 across the wider automotive industry, it accounts for 12.0% of total UK export of goods and invests £3.65 billion each year in automotive R&D.
Volume car manufacturers with a major presence in the UK include Honda, Nissan and Toyota (all Japanese of course) and Vauxhall which is a subsidiary of Opel which, in turn, is a subsidiary of the French automotive company Groupe PSA. Jaguar Land Rover is owned by Tata, an Indian company, and Mini is owned by BMW.
Of the smaller-volume manufacturers, Bentley is owned by the Volkswagen Group, Rolls Royce is owned by BMW and, on the lorry front, Leyland is owned by Paccar of the USA.
Take back control? Our governments have handed over control to foreign companies and their shareholders.
Railway engineering and operations
The backbone of our rail services, forty years after their introduction into service, is still the InterCity 125 HST designed and built at the British Railways works at Derby and Crewe. Forty-five-year-old British Railways trains are still running on our wonderful, privatised railway. So what happened to British Railways engineering? It was privatised in 1989 and sold to ASEA Brown Boveri which merged with Daimler Benz in 1996 to form ADtranz which was itself taken over by the Canadian engineering company Bombardier in 2001. Companies now providing engines and trains for our railways include Vossloh (German), Siemens (German), Alstom (French), Fiat/Bombardier (Canadian/German), CAF (Spanish) and EMD (American).
Track maintenance trains are operated by German company DB Schenker and French company Colas Rail. Freightliner, our principal freight company, is owned by the American company Genesee & Wyoming. You may have seen much upgrade activity on the London to Bristol line over the past years (until the money ran out) with the main contractor being German company Hochtief.
Now to UK train operating companies themselves ... Greater Anglia, Scotrail and West Midlands Trains are operated by Abellio which is owned by the Dutch (nationalised) company Nederlandse Spoorwegen; Arriva, Chiltern Railways, Cross Country, Grand Central and Northern are operated by (nationalised) German company Deutsche Bahn; c2c is operated by Italian (nationalised) company Trenitalia, Tfl is operated by Hong Kong entity MTR Corporation, Transport for Wales is operated by a Spanish/Canadian collaboration (Ferrovial/Keolis). Even our royal train is operated by Deutsche Bahn.
We continue to hear the drivel ‘Nationalisation is fine for other countries but it does not suit the UK’ but here we see continental, nationalised companies running, and taking profits from, our railway system. Take back control? Our governments have handed over control to foreign companies and their shareholders.
Thirteen of the twenty Premier League clubs, thirteen of the twenty-four Championship clubs and eight of the twenty-four League One clubs are either wholly- or majority-owned by foreigners. Would ‘taking back control’ be proposed for the people’s game?
The veneer of civilised society is unnervingly thin. In recent history we have the example of Yugoslavia where populist slogans used by Milosevic and repeated in press headlines resulted in conflicts which saw 140,000 deaths. The populist slogans used by Trump have incited country cousins against the supposed metropolitan elite (of which he is, of course, one); and here in Britain we now have slogans which fuel division: “Strong Serbia, Strong Yugoslavia”, “Make America Great Again”, “Lock Her Up”, “We’re Gonna Build a Wall”, “Brexit means Brexit”, “Take Back Control”, “£350 million Sent to the EU Every Week”.
Now, in Bosnia-Herzogovina (the seat of a large part of the Yugoslavian conflicts), peace is maintained through the European Union Force (EUFOR) Bosnia and Herzegovina (now called Operation Althea and a successor to NATO’s SFOR and IFOR) which oversees the military implementation of the Dayton Agreement. EUFOR is one of eighteen European Union military and police operations in Europe, the Mediterranean and Africa which seek to maintain stability and that thin veneer of civilisation.
Two international rogues, Trump and Putin, are hell bent on destabilising the civilised world and to this end support the UK’s exit from the EU. I hope against hope that we are able to frustrate their wish and remain in the EU. Taking back control, as evidenced above, is a nonsense.