In Limbo

Imagine you lived in a place for years, had made it your home, raised a family, worked there, paid your taxes only to then be told you are worth no more than a bargaining chip in a political game? This is the world we inhabit in our so-called Great Britain at the moment. I was touched personally at the stories of EU citizens who face continued uncertainty over their future if we decide to leave the European Union. These have been compiled into a wonderful book by Elena Remigi with the help of Véronique Martin and Tim Sykes called In Limbo – Brexit testimonies from EU citizens in the UK. In Limbo tells the human tales of the ground floor impact of our heartless strategies to use our EU citizens as human shields. Heartbreaking insights from people who have been so badly let down by our so-called Government that works for all. I feel ashamed to be called British in the knowledge that our European friends are being used as in this way just to prop up an internal political party squabble.

You might be thinking … “but didn’t Theresa May offer our EU citizens security just the other week?”  On the surface it might look like that.  Look again :

  1. The current “settled status” on offer basically reduces rights of people who have lived, worked and paid taxes in the UK.
  2. EU citizens are not necessarily allowed to stay in the UK if they are married to a British citizen. Just imagine how you would feel if your Government told you that?
  3. Some people say things like “We didn’t mean YOU when we voted to leave.” So who DID you mean when you voted Leave? How do you decide that I can stay but my neighbour can’t?
  4. People also say “Why did not not get citizenship?” Because you need Permanent Residency first, it costs a fortune and many people are happy being an EU citizen.

On a personal level, Brexit has divided my family after I walked out of my own house at a Sunday tea, when my brother in law told me to “get over the referendum”, claiming that there were 2 million rapists waiting to come to the UK from Berlin. He had clearly been brainwashed by our populist media. We have not seen them since … and this division is not going away, despite the nonsense protestations of our political leaders. I was also punched in my local area soon after the referendum so one does not even have to be an EU citizen to face xenophobia from Leave voters. Below are two extracts from In Limbo.

I cried at the dentist’s today. My dentist is lovely and my teeth are OK. I don’t cry easily and it really took me by surprise. But he asked me kindly how I had been since our last appointment six months ago and I told him what Brexit has meant to me and my husband. After thirty years of life in this country and twenty seven years married to a British citizen, I am not entitled to Permanent Residency. This is because I’ve never had the Comprehensive Health Insurance (CSI), illegal according to EU standards, which is only now being imposed as a necessity. I told him about feeling betrayed, let down and abused by the government who did not do the humane and moral thing by us and our families. And who also betrayed and let down the Brits in relationships/marriages with EU citizens as well as the Brits living in the EU, who are now reduced, as we are, to mere bargaining chips. Then suddenly, in the silence of his room, with his kind and bemused eyes on me, lying on the chair as on a psychiatrist’s sofa, I heard my voice break and tears started rolling down my face. I felt mortified but it made me realise the amount of stress and sadness I have been carrying inside for the past eight months. I know that, sadly, my fellow EU citizens here feel exactly the same.

V., France

As an Englishman living in Germany and denied a vote, my perspective is different to that of the Europeans in the UK, but we share similarities all the same. It’s only since I’ve been abroad (and particularly since the dreadful vote of June 23rd) that I have come to fully appreciate just how I was subject to the drip, drip, drip brainwashing as a child and growing up in England. We were the British, victors of WW2 and by default better than everyone else. It was the Great Escape and the Dambusters every holiday on TV. I even read war comics like Victor and Commando where the Germans were the square-jawed aliens uttering robotic sayings like “Achtung, Achtung” and “Surrender, Englischer Schweinhund!” Everything we did had to be slightly different – drive on the left, imperial weights and measures, even ‘Jeux Sans Frontières’ on TV couldn’t be translated literally (it had to be called ‘It’s a Knockout!’ – which made no sense at all). ‘The Continent’ was somewhere away across the water, full of people who were inherently inferior somehow, even if it wasn’t expressed directly in those terms. Somehow, I managed to ditch most of this nonsense baggage I’d been saddled with. Marrying a German and experiencing other Europeans first-hand has taught me the truth of the situation. Empire days are long gone. We need Europe. Forty years of progress are now being thrown away. My sister and my best friend in the UK voted Leave. I don’t recognise the country anymore and don’t want to be associated with it now. I hate what this ridiculous Referendum has done to my country and my relationship with people who are close to me. I truly believe that future generations will condemn this period in our history in the same way that we now look back at the madness of the First World War.

Bower, UK citizen living in Germany

Elena will be present at the No 10 Vigil this Friday 7th July if you would like to meet her and talk with her about the book. I continue to fight for a Better Britain in a Stronger Europe and I hope that these people will get the justice they deserve. Find In Limbo on Amazon as a paperback and Kindle book. Check out the In Limbo Facebook page. As for me, the way forward can be summarised in 6 words starting with a B:

We finish with some punchy satire that sums up the illusions of some people about EU citizens living in the DisUnited Kingdom from 4N Boyz:

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Peter Cook leads Human Dynamics and The Academy of Rock. He also leads the musical direction of the No 10 Vigil, designed to Stop Brexit Dead.  Find out more about his plans finish the job at Break Brexit Before Brexit Breaks Britain.

Breadline Britain: Vince Cable, Economics and Rock’n’Roll

I had the good fortune to meet The Rt. Hon. Vince Cable, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills the other week, where we discussed economics (but no sex or Rock’n’Roll 🙂 )  The recent public sector strikes and the general mood of the nation reminded me of Jimmy Sommerville’s 1980’s classic “Breadline Britain”, hence the title of this blog:

During the meeting I discussed the thoughts of Evan Davis on the economy with Mr Cable.  I had met Evan a few weeks before, where he pointed out that the UK needs to create some new engines of growth in areas that other countries would (a) find hard to copy and (b) would give the UK export potential.  Vince broadly agreed with my suggestion that we don’t need a ‘nation of more tanning rooms and burger bars’, which largely consume wealth and have no export potential.  Of course, a shrinkage in the low value service sector and / or the public sector is deeply unpopular, but it does rather seem an inevitable consequence of some sound economic analysis.  We’ll see what happens now that we live in a rock’n’roll economy …

Cable but no Wireless - Vince Cable Rocks the Institute of Directors

We also discussed the slimming down of red tape in business.  I was delighted to present Vince with a copy of ‘Punk Rock People Management’, which I described as “perhaps the shortest white paper on simplifying business ever written”.  Being known for his unusually straightforward views, Vince was amused by the idea of being able to read a chapter in less time that it would take to pogo to a Sex Pistols song on Strictly Come Dancing.

So, it was a great meeting in the wonderful setting of Leeds Castle.  What an absolute coup for the Institute of Directors, who hosted the event.  All kudos to them for doing this.

What to finish this post with?  Well since a friend mixed Vince Cable up with Vince Clarke of Erasure, I guess we should go with one of their fine Essex based economical synth pop pieces – perhaps a call to some politicians who have lost Mr  Cable’s connection with ordinary people – “A Little Respect”:

To get your FREE copy of Punk Rock People Management or book a masterclass – either give Vince Cable a call or get in touch via the Punk Rock People Management webpage

Don’t cry for me Argentina – Should leaders be allowed to rock out?

Introducing Argentina’s soon to be Rock’n’Roll Vice President.  Amado Boudou rides a Harley-Davidson and relaxes by jamming with rock stars.  He also follows in a long line of Rock’n’Roll leaders – Junichiro Koizumi, Japan’s reformist President and heavy metal addict, Tony Blair, Ted Heath, Bill Clinton, David Blunkett and so on.

Bill blowin' his business horn

So, why am I writing about Mr Boudou?  It seems that his lifestyle has become the focus of debate concerning his competence to handle the country’s economic affairs.  This is encapsulated in the comment “We want a minister, not a guitar player”

I find this bizarre.  Some people delight in picking out minor aspects of someone’s lifestyle and generalise that it adversely affects their competence to do their chosen job.  I’m wondering if a similar reaction would have occurred if the media had pointed out that Winston Churchill suffered from depression?  This is not confined to politicians.  Some years ago a senior HR colleague working for the Police confided in me for some career advice.  In his spare time he ran a disco and his boss had told him to stop running it if he wanted to get on.  Why is this stuff so threatening to those in authority?

In defence of his hobby, Amado Boudou has pointed out that “Rock helps me communicate directly with the people because rock doesn’t lie, and people are fed up with lying politicians”.  Unfortunately, he is right.  If I had to choose between a cold analyst and a competent economist with a soul, I know which one I would choose as a leader.  The people who lead need to brilliant technicians of their chosen disciplines, plus they need to have humility and soul to engage their followers.  It’s a theme I explore in the book ‘Sex, Leadership and Rock’n’Roll’.

Leadership with Soul and Attitude

So, should we allow Amado Boudou to keep his hobby?  Post your thoughts on why leaders should or should not be allowed to have a life or a hobby.

The title of the post reminds me of Madonna’s take on politics from the film Evita.  Any excuse for a bit of Madge!

Can rappers save us from macro-economic ruin?

I was struck by a fascinating piece of video that digests 200 years of economic history through the power of rap music. Now, words like John Maynard Keynes, Schumpeter, fiscal control and the economic theory of the firm are not part of the normal rapper’s lexicon, so I was intrigued. Check the video out:

Lest we forget, here are the main arguments: John Maynard Keynes is the economist responsible for the currently popular belief in the western world that we should intervene to find our way out of economic recessions and depressions. His thinking has been at the centre of banking bail outs and the use of quantitative easing as a mechanism for recovery.

The Austrian, Friedrich August Hayek argued for classical liberalism and free market capitalism. In other words, markets should be freed to find their own level, using the price mechanism as a means of spontaneous organisation. Keynes was not keen on Hayek’s idea that self organisation and a more organic approach could replace an interventionist outlook with strong planning.  And so the economics pendulum swings.

Joseph Schumpeter argued that Keynes’s ideas expressed “the attitude of a decaying civilisation”. He saw Keynes’s approach as short-termist and unable to consider the economic problems of other nations. In a global village, it is certainly true that we are at the mercy of other economies’ troubles. Does that however mean we should lay down and pretend to be dead when boom turns to bust? This was predicted as early as 1974 by pop art group 10 CC with their stern warning ‘Wall Street Shuffle’:

So, who can we trust to lead us into a new world economy? If seems that, if you laid all the academic economists in the world end to end, they would not reach a conclusion. More of the same is likely to lead us into a debt fuelled prison. Is it time to mix macro-economics with a bit of sociology, courtesy of the rappers and systemic mappers?

Women, money, devil worship and bohemia

An unusual request came in recently from the Local Government Information Unit – they have asked us to run an event for Chief Executives on how to save money without costing the earth.  I have done a few jobs for Public Services over the years but never been asked to help civil servants do uncivilised things to themselves, such as making cuts.  Clearly, we will not be using guitars for this one and it is the realm of our serious day job at Human Dynamics.  I am aware from personal experience that Public Services can sometimes find it hard to make the joined up cuts that actually help them deliver services more effectively, preferring to make ‘easier’ cuts that look good on paper, but which damage efficiency and effectiveness overall.  One Council I know has recently sacked a load of receptionists.  Seems OK?  Unfortunately, it now takes people 15 minutes to get into the building with the huge impact on wasted time etc.

Anyway, on a less serious note, I have been asked to launch The Business Women’s Network in a few locations in the coming months.  Somewhat strangely, they have asked me to speak on ‘Sex, Love, Relationships and Rock’n’Roll’.  I would have thought that they would be much more clued up on business relationships than us men.  Anyway, we’ll see.

Finally, I had a day in the studio with Bernie Torme the other day – Bernie is a lovely chap with a fantastic high end studio in a beautiful location in Kent.  He has played with Ozzy Osbourne, the prince of darkness and Ian Gillan of Deep Purple.  Bernie is available as part of our Musical Experiences portfolio and we shared many interesting stories about the bizarre business of Rock’n’Roll.

And finally, showcasing a great young talent – The amazing Sam Laming, who plays a range of medieval instruments and famously offers a rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody on the Ukelele.  We will be incorporating Sam in our Musical Experience events in castles, dungeons and Holiday Inns around the world in the coming months.