Time to turn out

Lord McConnell

Today in Tokyo I will deliver a speech to the British Chamber of Commerce in Japan. Business leaders here have questions about the future of the UK.

And this matters. UK exports to Japan are just under £10 billion; Japanese investment in the UK is the highest in the EU; and 1300 Japanese firms employ 140,000 people in Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland. A new EU/Japan trade deal could grow this even more.

All weekend, the UK/Japan 21st Century Group has been grappling with the challenges facing our two countries. And a strong theme from Japanese participants was concerned about political instability in Scotland and the UK. Investors want stable integrated markets in the UK and Europe.

In September we face a huge decision about Scotland’s future and our relationship with the others who share these islands. However, that daily debate is overshadowing another important vote.

Later this week, Europeans vote for Members of the European Parliament 2014-2019. That Parliament will agree budgets, hold EU institutions to account and pass laws affecting us all. But around 200 of the new MEPs could be from parties like UKIP determined to break up European co-operation.

In Japan and elsewhere, companies and leaders are horrified that the UK might leave the EU. It would reduce the attraction of the UK for investment, and it would remove our influence from the rest of the continent.

In the big challenges of our age – economic, environmental, security – sensible leaders and commentators recognise that sharing sovereignty and co-operating are essential to influence and shape the world we live in.

In Southeast Asia and Africa, countries look to the EU model for neighbourhood peace, for economic integration, and for environmental protection.

Are there things about the EU that need to change? You bet there are! Is managing 28 states into an effective Union easy? Of course it is not. But over the past 60 years, the EU balance sheet shows stable peace and economic growth.

Now voters in the UK, Holland, France and other states might risk all this by backing the racism and prejudice of UKIP and their pals.

Scots I meet around the world do not want us to become more insular. They believe we are at our best when we engage, building open and integrated economies, and making our contribution in the UK and EU.

Leaders across Europe must stand up to this nonsense.  And I hope Scots and our friends around the world will speak out about the importance of the EU to us and to others.

Low turnout in the UK and elsewhere could allow these extreme parties to create havoc. So I hope decent people will vote on Thursday. Don’t leave it to others, vote for parties that will use the European Parliament to scrutinise, legislate and spend in the interests of people, and not just wreck it for partisan, prejudiced reasons. It is time to turn out.

Lord Jack McConnell was First Minister of Scotland 2001-2007 and is a Board Member of the UK/Japan 21st Century Group.

8 comments for “Time to turn out

  1. maude elwes
    20/05/2014 at 11:16 am

    Japan is not part of the EU, as written in the opening thread. It is a trading partner Europe is presently in negotiations with in order to try and lift import duty of goods sent to Japan from Europe. It is covered by the US-EU trade agreement.


    However, what is not being openly reported is, trade with Japan is wrapped up in trade with the USA as the US controls Japan. It does this under the guise of military protectionism. That, however is a front as was recently revealed on the Larry King Show.


    However the nub of all this is, why are we not the producers of most of what we import? Why has our manufacturing base been given away to countries that produce goods made for us at third world pay levels. if we resumed the making of our own user items our people would not be on the benefit treadmill would they? zero hour jobs are not a substitute for full time well paid employment. And don’t play the old game of the cost to produce in Europe is too high. That is nonsense, It would level out and the balance would return if it wasn’t tinkered with this way. Why don’t you tell it like it is. Our jobs were given away to third world countries on the proviso our citizens who needed those jobs would be supported by the benefits system. That deal has been reneged on.

    The US-EU trade agreement is a further negotiation in wage slavery for our citizens. And you know it.


    And what the other side are saying.


    So, the visit to Japan appears to be more in line with the US-EU trade agreement that will further impoverish the average man in the street.

  2. MilesJSD
    21/05/2014 at 4:09 am

    maude elwes et al, “Japan is not a member of the EU” [(‘) therefore should not be a Problem/Conflict-Solving/Resolving participant ?]

    Neither is China, but will very greatly ‘decide’ how EU, and UK [and vitally the USA Economy/Dollar/world-‘policing-power’] are to ‘fare’ in the immeiate as well as longest-term Future


    • maude elwes
      21/05/2014 at 9:09 am


      When I wrote that I was correcting what was written in the opening thread. Re-read.

      And, Japan, as I wrote above, once again, is a poodle of the yanks, as is the UK. They are both the equivalent of Hawaii. A state that was unable to vote on whether it wanted its leadership to be usurped by the US government, just as Japan and us have not. You may want to look into Alaska, Puerto Rico, Guam, Samoa, Virgin Islands and so on.

      Time to have let a little free thinking into the mix.


  3. Howell of Trent Valley
    21/05/2014 at 5:22 pm

    Japan, as I wrote above, once again, is a poodle of the yanks, as is the UK. They are both the equivalent of Hawaii.


    the employment of that many people by the Japanese in the UK is really only a technicality of “royalties” in that they own the name of the business and consequently take 2-3% of the profit, again due to the prevailing economic conditions which prevailed in the 1970-80s.

    The excellent, and brilliant workmanship/craftsmanship of Sturmey Archer for example is unchanged merely because it has now been called “Shimano” for a good many years now.
    The Japanese are still getting their rake off, a small price to pay
    for the continung international economic balances of those years.

    There are a number of examples of such fine British businesses and workmanship, now with Japanese names that Kung Fu and Tai Kwondo are quite unnecessary, unless they are the marque names of cars.

    • maude elwes
      22/05/2014 at 12:49 pm


      I feel you find it hard to follow a gist sometimes, GH. The Japanese are beholden to and controlled by the whims of the US government.

      And I can tell you the Japanese people don’t like it one bit. They have, for many years, disliked Americans intensely. So would you if they dropped two horrific bombs on your countries head. Think that is going to be something that will leave them after awhile? If yes, think again. Deep seated hatred continues. And having to kowtow to the perpetrators does not bring warm sentiments.

      I have a Japanese relative who visits her family two or three times a year and nothing there has changed. Except her sister and her little boy, who lived not too far from Fukushima are now very, very sick and she cries all the time wanting to be there with them.

      And this Time article link will show how they are subjugated still.


      And the nerve of it. War crime has never ever been as dastardly as this one.


      And now we read the US is forcing Japan into more nuclear chaos.


      Obviously once is not enough.

  4. Howell of Trent Valley
    22/05/2014 at 3:57 pm

    “Deep seated hatred continues ”
    The politics of hate eh?

    I am sorry your relatives are sick. There are probably some mighty sick ones from the recent Japanese nuclear disaster too. It makes one wonder about the wisdom of nuclear capacity in high earthquake zones, like Iran, who are so keen on it, at the moment.

    Perhaps Maude would be happy to do without electricity next winter to atone for the invention of nuclear power?

    In some very certain senses we are indeed “In it together”
    and the risk of nuclear contamination from a nuclear accident
    is always there for us all.

    Whilst I keep warm in winter and do my best to economize, I also hope that better methods are always to be found to ensure nuclear safety throughout the world. There is an international association dedicated to it, whose acronym I forget.

    We do live in PH68. (whether that is Post Hiroshima or the Power of Hydrogen, I know not)

    PH,( Power of Hydrogen) test is basic to the soil value in every back garden, and has nothing to do with fallout.

    I hope that helps.

  5. P.Selvaratnam
    28/05/2014 at 1:13 pm

    ‘Low Turnout in the UK and elsewhere”:

    Albert Einstein said the thinking that created a problem is not enough to solve it. Problems are mounting and we are unable to solve them:

    ”The increasing short-termism of modern politics needs to be overcome with serious and urgent reform to address key challenges facing humanity. …. The Commission analyses the issues, examines the lessons from past successes and failures, proposes a set of principles to overcome deep political and cultural divides, and provides practical recommendations for action on critical challenges” – NOW FOR THE LONG TERM – The report of the Oxford Martin Commission for Future Generations, October 2013, http://www.oxfordmartin.ox.ac.uk/downloads/commission/Oxford_Martin_Now_for_the_Long_Term.pdf

    How can we propagate this idea please?

  6. Howell of Trent Valley
    29/05/2014 at 2:20 pm

    Albert Einstein said the thinking that created a problem is not enough to solve it. Problems are mounting and we are unable to solve them:Many areas of mathematics began with the study of real world problems before the underlying rules and concepts were identified and defined as abstract structures.

    “The Commission analyses the issues, examines the lessons from past successes and failures, proposes a set of principles to overcome deep political and cultural divides, and provides practical recommendations for action on critical challenges –”

    Are you saying that there are underlying POLITICAL rules and concepts to be identified and defined as abstract structures?

    Selvaratnam place too much faith in politics as a science if that is so. FPTP(First past the post) democracy is certainly overused and should be discarded in the modern city-states.

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