This was a mental arithmetic question me and my 13 year old son raced to solve. No calculator, no Google allowed.
He beat me and by a very healthy margin at that. As he gleefully danced around I sulked and rapidly changed the subject.
So numbers, they are important things, if they didn’t exist I wouldn’t have a job and most of the things we take for granted probably wouldn’t exist, including the internet I would imagine.
The European elections threw up some strange and some would say worrying results in the last week or so. A number of euro sceptic and populous groups ranging from Greece’s Golden Dawn to the French National front and of course our very own UKIP all took more seats than anticipated.
And of course the press are all over it.
But is it really as troubling as the papers make out? Looking at the numbers I would suggest not. Of the 751 seats up for grabs, the conventional pro-European parties won 467. Another 100 were taken by the greens (who are ultra pro Europe) and the UK’s Conservative party who really don’t know if they are or they aren’t.
This left 140 seats to be divvied up amongst the real anti-Europe parties – or less than 20%.
Given that UKIP consider the French National front racist and will not work with them and both parties consider the Golden Dawn crew as fascists its very unlikely we will be seeing some form of coalition of anti-European parties anytime soon.
So no, the elections won’t make a blind bit of difference, at least not from a legislation perspective and I doubt the EU will be crumbling any time soon.
Personally though, I don’t think the shockwaves, real or otherwise, coming from these elections are a such a bad thing.
It’s given Nigel Farage more airtime on the telly which can only be good and I also think the debate it has started is a healthy one.
Immigration: good or bad?
Well firstly I live in Switzerland, a country whose immigration policies seem to have been modelled on that of North Korea. So I am just not as exposed to the hordes of funny foreigners invading my neighbourhood as some other European countries might be.
That said I do think immigration is a good thing.
The economic outlook for Britain is healthy. I read somewhere that by 2022 the UK will overtake Germany as the economic power house of Europe. With an aging population, a huge public sector and a crumbling NHS how will it reach these dizzy heights?
Immigration that’s how.
The overwhelming majority of immigrants to any country go there for economic reasons, ie. they want to work. And when you work you pay tax and the companies who employ these workers also pay tax (unless you are Starbucks of course). It’s a very simple equation, if the jobs are created in the UK, the UK needs immigration otherwise the jobs will emigrate along with the tax…
So in my book immigration is good.
The headlines might scream about an army of thieving gypsies invading London but at a macro level this is just false. Britain has far from the most immigrants (6.6% of total population). Germany for example has nearly 9%. We are more than some and less than others.
In short we are nothing special and certainly not unique. Nor are we the most attractive country to run to and live off the benefits. No, the immigration into the UK is normal and I would argue not unwelcome. But then again, I don’t live there.
Until recently UKIPs membership has had an odd demographic. It was heavily weighted towards the baby boomers which generally means they are older. This is the demographic in society who reminisce about a Britain long since gone. A simpler Britain. When foreigners were just people who served you drinks on holiday, spoke funny and couldn’t make a proper cup of tea. An old fashioned Britain of train journeys to the seaside and near to full employment.
But lets not forget this was also a Britain where Saville & Co could do what they liked with impunity and a business sector which was forced to its knees by power crazed unions.
But I can see the appeal of Mr Farage.
When compared to the other party leaders he’s a breath of fresh air. He speaks his mind, likes beer and isn’t afraid of offending someone – hes an everyman. As much as I support conservative ideals, I see nothing of myself in David Cameron, he’s just a toff and a bit of a tit. Ed Milliband is the same but with the added hilarity of a Lego-man haircut.
I also don’t believe UKIP are racist as some would like to think. They are clearly not. In fact they have gone to extraordinary lengths to distance themselves from perceived racist comments and statements.
UKIP aren’t racist but what concerns me is their anti-Europe, anti-immigration stance will create and foster xenophobia. Building walls, restricting movement of ethnic groups of people and creating an inward looking insular society breeds such things.
Switzerland is not a xenophobic country per se but a large proportion of the population could be deemed to be so by any normal measurement. The success of the SVP party is testament to this.
The mainstream parties should thus take heed.
Even if the number of seats won’t change anything fundamental there is clearly a groundswell of support across Europe for such parties. They need to sit up and listen because if they don’t we might find someone like Nigel Farage in charge of our country.
Or even worse Marine Le Pen just across the channel.
And then we’re really in the shit.