With English subtitles.
Tuesday, 15 July 2014
Thursday, 26 June 2014
BBC News - The 'flaws' of French democracy: Is France a democracy? Most people would assume there is a straightforward answer - "Yes". After all, France has free and fair elections. However, there is more to a truly democratic society than elections alone, writes Simon Baptist of The Economist Intelligence Unit.
Saturday, 21 June 2014
The Summer of Discontent - David Cameron would like to think of Scotland’s referendum as a little local difficulty. Perhaps that’s why the mainstream media stay so quiet about the widespread discontent now simmering across Europe as our continent awakes to new possibilities. Catalans are ignoring Madrid’s refusal to allow them a vote on independence. Basques are thinking along the same lines. Venetians have already voted for independence from Rome, in an unofficial poll, and are now agitating for the right to hold a real one. Plaid Cymru’s leader has recently renewed the call for Welsh independence, proclaiming that ‘independence is normal’.
Mebyon Kernow has published a consultation document on establishing a National Assembly of Cornwall. (Labour continues to brief against the idea.) In Northumbria, a plethora of groups is staking a variety of territorial claims, with the regional political party model increasingly pulling ahead of the old mantra of ‘working within the Labour Party’, the ‘big red thumb’ under which so many live, that has so clearly failed to deliver. The Wessex Regionalists, encouraged by the official flying of Wessex flags on St Ealdhelm’s Day, are beginning to draft proposals to put to the electorate in 2015. Even the BBC is clumsily beginning to explore the deeper England of the future.
In many ways, across many countries, this is looking to be the hour. And in France, the stakes could not be higher, with a new regional map about to be imposed, one a lot worse in many areas than the current one and consequently already leading to vigorous action against the Paris regime. The best that can be said about it is that it could actually have been worse still. Relief? Well, no – revolutions often kick off when expectations that events are finally moving in the right direction are cruelly dashed, revealing how real reform has never even been on the agenda. The one thing leading Parisian politicians all seem to agree upon is that there must not be a region that covers Brittany, the whole of Brittany and nothing but Brittany, whatever the Bretons think.
Brittany is a kind of Scotland. Each has a Treaty of Union with its larger neighbour, the one in 1532, the other in 1707. Although both were the result of bribes and duress, these treaties guaranteed the continued existence of certain historic national institutions and the freedom of local folk to make at least some of their own decisions. The concessions won by Scotland have grown to the point where it may even put the Union behind it.
Brittany has fared much, much worse. French revolutionaries ignored the treaty and, abolishing the Breton institutions, launched two centuries of systematic persecution that has never fully abated. In 1941, the collaborationist Vichy regime redrew the regional map of France. Brittany, traditionally five départements, was reduced to four, with the ancient ducal capital of Nantes attached to an artificial ‘Loire Country’ region, where it remains to this day. The Paris technocracy won’t be budged from the view that a single region with two large cities – Nantes and Rennes – just won’t work. Try it and see then. You know, like Edinburgh and Glasgow, Cardiff and Swansea, Bristol and Southampton. No. That’s too empirical by far.
François Mitterrand of the Parti Socialiste came to power in 1981 pledged to decentralise power. There were bold changes. Elected regional councils, and the abolition of tutelage, the system whereby local decisions could be blocked or reversed by the departmental Prefect acting as guardian of the centralist interest. But the boundaries of the regions remained unchanged.
Now another ‘socialist’ President, François Hollande, has grasped the nettle. France’s 22 regions are to be reduced to 14. ‘Socialism’, one would think, is about society. And society is made up of communities, intermediate powers between the centre and the individual that need to be cherished. Not so for Hollande, ever true to the Jacobin ideal that the job of the State is to nip community in the bud, in the name of the one true community – itself. So the claims of Basques, Catalans and Savoyards to separate regional status continue to be ignored. Those of Alsatians, long recognised, are to be overturned. Small but distinctive regions like Auvergne, Limousin and Picardy are likewise to be abolished. In the one piece of good news, if the reforms do happen, the two half-Normandies are (as we predicted) to be re-united at last. The result will be a single region with two large cities, Caen and Rouen. Yet by a stroke of the same pen, Brittany is to remain partitioned.
Does it make any sense, other than in the terms of continuing Parisian supremacy? Of course not. But any questioning of the new arrangements is to be suppressed. The new law will make it impossible for a département to choose to change the region in which it is placed. You will have the identity that Paris decides that you will have. Having your own, real identity is a threat to the unity of France and that would never do. Why is that, when a France divided, along traditional lines, would be so much more pleasant and interesting than the dull conformity of a united one? It’s a French thing, the wholly irrational foundation of the supposedly rational Republic, as indivisible as the Holy Trinity. There are questions you just don’t ask because the mental capacity on the other side just isn’t there. Those in the UK who remember Labour’s regional White Paper from 2002, Your Region, Your (Lack of) Choice will find all this refusal to engage in debate irritatingly familiar.
Hollande already has a good deal of Breton fare on his plate, put there by the Bonnets Rouges – ‘the Red Caps’ – a movement recalling a 17th century tax revolt with constitutional issues thrown in. Like all successful reform movements, the new Bonnets Rouges cross class lines, combining traditional autonomist thinking with the aspirations of a new generation of entrepreneurs for whom a more distinctive Brittany is just part of the real world of 21st century economics. It’s a point we’ve often made about Wessex – that we simply have to get our act together as a region for marketing purposes, building a ‘brand’ with a reputation for quality and reliability. Otherwise we shall have Labour’s alternative thrust upon us – our cities, with their hinterlands, set against each other within a British/English framework that allows London to tax the fruits of our efforts and then give us back what we beg for nicely.
France proclaims its values, supposedly universal, to be liberty, equality and fraternity. It honours none of these because in every case they are applied in a partisan way by a State that cannot understand why it, as the judge of them, should be bound by them too, even to its own disadvantage. There is no liberty for conquered nations, their once treaty-assured rights trampled underfoot. There is equality for those who think, speak and act French and an unconscious, sneering hatred for those who demand to be different. There is fraternity only in the sense that Big Brother is watching you and legislating you out of existence.
Is the French Republic sustainable on such terms, in a broader Europe that is keen to appear just and civilised, two things that France is not? Its ruling class, stuck in the 18th century, remain in denial about the new Europe now emerging around and below them. Happy to embrace as their national anthem a bloodthirsty and dishonest hymn of racial hatred, while treating attacks on the communities that form the building blocks of the French State as normal, reasonable behaviour. Those who believe these psychopaths are ready for the chop deserve the support of freedom-seekers everywhere. Why abolish regions to save money when you think how much could be saved just by devolving 99% of the central State? France, one and indivisible; the sovereignty of the Crown-in-Parliament. Call it what you will, centralism is a common enemy. So bring on the real revolution: the sooner France has proper regions with recognisable names and boundaries, and proper, regionally-rooted powers, the sooner Wessex and other English regions can point to their example.
Taken form the Wessex Regionalists blog.
Tuesday, 3 June 2014
However, the debate is not over. Apart from numerous negative economic side effects the move will act to undermine the growth of Breton-medium education in Loire Atlantique.
Breton leader Christian Troadec said: "This is a new blow to the reunification of Brittany.. political courage would have been, under the land reform, to have an immediate end to this separation decided by the Vichy regime and Marshal Petain. Nantes in Brittany... has been claimed and reaffirmed by the Bretons in the five departments at every visit, every survey!
"The future of Britain has again been decided by technocrats in an office in Paris... Paris has once again butchered Brittany.. With 5 departments, we would have counted more than 4.5 million people and could talk to other European states or countries like Scotland, Catalonia, the German landers ... Our economic development capacity would have seen a tenfold increase. Our jobs and our standard of living too."
To help oppose the move and to support reunification please write asap to Mr Hollande: http://www.elysee.fr/ecrire-au-president-de-la-republique/
You can sign the petition on the Bretagne Réunie website here: http://www.bretagne-reunie.org/soutenir/signez-la-charte/
Equally you can contact the collective 44=BZH and ask how you can help: http://44breizh.com/
Wednesday, 28 May 2014
In Breizh (Brittany) with three separate election lists for Breton parties (Christian Guyonvarc’h, heading the open list made up of Union Démocratique Bretonne (Unvaniezh Demokratel Breizh) (UDB) non/members of the party; Christian Troadec heading the joint Parti Breton, Mouvement Breton et Progrès, Alliance Federalist Bretonne, Breizh Europa list and the Breizhistance/Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste list), the share of the vote was good overall, but no MEP was elected from any of the lists.
Breizh shares its European parliamentary constituency with areas of West France, outside of its traditional territory.
Already talk can be heard of a Breton democratic front for the regional elections to come.
Wednesday, 14 May 2014
Whilst in Cornwall we won't have the chance of voting for a Cornish party in the forthcoming EU elections, in Brittany - also buried in a much larger European constituency - things are quite different.
Three lists are running that can be classified as autonomist or independentist.
The first is from MK's sister party, the Union Démocratique Bretonne. The open list, headed by regional councillor Christian Guyonvarc'h, includes personalities from outside the UDB's membership. Their slogan is: "I vote Brittany for a social Europe".
Next we have Nous te ferons L'Europe. This list includes the Parti Breton, Mouvement Bretagne et Progrès, Alliance Federalist Bretonne, Breizh Europa, and is spearheaded by Christian Troadec of Bonnets Rouge fame.
Last, but by no means least, we have Breizhistance - indépendence et socialisme - and Frances Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste forming a list on the radical left. They are campaigning for a 'Europe of peoples and workers'.
With the redrawing of Frances regional map on the table pro-Breton parties will need to make a big impact in all forthcoming elections, which leads me to wonder if 3 separate lists will not dilute the vote and confuse people. Who will I vote for? Well Breizistance seem to have a blind spot when it comes to the existence of the Cornish question and that's not for want of reminding them.
Thursday, 1 May 2014
Kan Etrebroadel al Labourerien
War sav! tud daonet deus an douar !
kent mervel gant an naon, war sav
Ar skiant a gomz hag a lavar
Reiñ an diwezhañ taol-chav !
Ret eo teuler ae bed-kozh d'an traoñ
Mevelien paour war-sav, atav !
Greomp evit mad dezhi he c'haoñ
Bezomp mestr lec'h bezaň esklav !
An emgann diwerzhañ zo
Holl war sav hag arc'hoazh
Na vo er bed met ur vro
Da vihan ha da vraz
Etrezomp na n'eus salver ebet,
Na pab, na doue, na den all !
Ha deomp hon unan a vo ret
Ober amañ ar gwir ingal
A-benn harzh laeron bras da noazout
Derc'hel ar spered en e blom
C'hwezomp hon c'hovel pe 'vefomp boud
Ha dav d'an houarn keit m'eo tomm !
Ar stad a zo fall, pep lezenn kamm
An deog a wad ar paour-kaez den
Deverioù d'ar re vras n'eus foeltr tamm
Gwirioù ar paour-kaez zo ven
Awalc'h eo dindan vestr kastiañ
Al lealded c'houlenn traoù all
Dindani vefomp holl memes tra
Gant deverioù droejoù ingal.
Ken hudur en kreiz o brazoni
war an holl labour
Deus graet biskoazh nemet ransoniñ
Laerezh poan ar micherour
Rag en prez kloz an dud didalvez
Kement vez krouet vez teuzet
Goulennomp vo rentet hep dale
D'ar bobl kaez ar pezh zo dleet !
Holl micherourien ha kouerijen
Memproù a labour er bed-mañ
Ar bed-mañ zo d'al labourerien
An dud didalvez diwarnañ
Deus hon c'hwezenn gwelit int lard mat
Na pa deufe ur seurt brini
Un deiz ar bed paour-mañ da guitaat
An heol zalc'ho da lugerniñ.
Garzh ebet ken kreiz-entre pep bro
An holl dud breudeur war ar bed
Ar brezeloù diot er blotoù
Dav d'ar re vraz c'hoazh mar bez ret
Evite na n'afomp biken ken
A-vilieroù d'en em drailhañ
War sav pa 'mañ ar skiant o ren
Deomp vo ret terriñ pe blegañ.
Laket en brezoneg gant Marcel Hamon
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