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So far Bart Hulley has created 414 blog entries.

It’s not too late to move to France

By | 2017-06-27T16:35:02+00:00 June 27th, 2017|Brexit|

Having successfully submitted my dossier for French naturalisation I am somewhat ambivalent to the proposals put forward by the British Government in round one of the UK's Brexit negotiations, not least because, provided my application to become French is approved, they will have precisely no affect on me nor my immediate family. I do have a great deal of empathy though for those living abroad, in the UK or in the EU, for whom the nonsense document published yesterday is supposed to safeguard "the position of EU citizens living in the UK and UK nationals living in the EU." - a document that reads like a C-grade high school Social Science project. Frankly, if anyone wanted clarity on the coming arrangements for citizens they need only to refer to section 33 which, as I am sure you will agree, couldn't be more vague: "The ability of EU citizens arriving after the specified date subsequently to obtain further or indefinite permission to stay will depend on the rules in place at the time at which they apply. These will be [...]

France Insoumise or the other (national) front

By | 2017-05-09T13:32:05+00:00 May 9th, 2017|Life in France|

If you are to believe the enthused youth electorate, the party lead by Jean-Luc Melenchon, know today as France Insoumise - or previously as the Front de Gauche (The Left-wing National Front) - are going to be the main opposition in the National Assembly come the elections in June. This belief despite their main man only gaining enough support to come forth in the Presidential elections and currently having only 10 representatives in the assembly. It seems that they are banking on a surge of support from disenfranchised voters following the collapse of France's two traditional political forces - The Socialist Party and The Republicans - and a belief that Macron only won by default (and not through policy). However, such gung-ho optimism should be pared back given a quick reading of their manifesto - which will make worrying reading for anyone with more than two pennies to rub together. Here's what they are currently posting as their "10 emblematic proposals" (I have translated from their very enigmatic French): A referendum to define the 6th Republic A new right [...]

Ni-Ni, Nazi or Banker?

By | 2017-05-02T07:40:58+00:00 May 2nd, 2017|Life in France|

Some might say that the French election has taken a turn for the worse this past week, though the truth is this has little to do with the candidates. It is more a case of the French electorate taking a turn for the worse. In my ten plus years in France never have I been so aware of the stupidity of your average French citizen. Alas, I knew this day would come. One of the factors driving me away from the United Kingdom was this same realisation - that your average British voter has about as much between his or her ears as a cockroach when it comes to politics. Only now, having mastered the French language and made an effort to understand French law and politics, do I realise that the population of France are about as clued-up as child of six when it comes to understanding how a country functions. Having integrated myself into French society I now have the unfortunate occasion to see acquaintances post their support for Le Pen on their Facebook time lines. I [...]

One week to go

By | 2017-04-16T20:25:19+00:00 April 16th, 2017|Life in France|

So we're a mere 7 days away from decision time. So, even though I have yet to qualify as a member of the electorate, I thought I would give you a quick biased run down of the 11 candidates hoping to become France's premier. Nathalie Arthaud Party: Communist Fight Club Day Job: Economics teacher Crazy rating: 5/5 (An economics teacher representing the communists? Seriously?!) Policy highlights: Plans to outlaw redundancy and let the workers have a say in the running of their employer's business. Free money for poor people. The end of capitalism, etc. Electability: 0/5 Philippe Poutou Party: The Anti-capitalists Day Job: Factory Hand Crazy rating: 5/5 Policy highlights: Overthrow capitalism through revolution and all that sort of thing... Electability: 0/5 Jean-Luc Mélenchon Party: The Super-Socialists for a Rebellious France Day Job: Politician Crazy rating: 4/5 (Former bog-standard socialist turned ultra-socialist) Policy highlights: Create constitutional chaos by forming the 6th Republic through a referendum. Ditch EU, Euro and Nato. Tax the rich so heavily they'll want to leave France. Electability: 3/5 (surprisingly popular with young voters looking to [...]

Unhappy article 50 day

By | 2017-03-28T10:11:48+00:00 March 29th, 2017|Brexit|

So today's the day when Mrs May formally announces the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU. It seems the time is right then to make a few predictions about the way things will go over the next few weeks and months as the negotiations commence and unfold: Value of sterling (£) The markets and money men seem to react most when there are nasty surprises. Given that article 50 has been a long time coming, I doubt whether today will see much of a change in the value of the pound. Indeed, it may even strengthen against the Dollar and Euro as teenage hedge-fund algorithm writers are most likely focussed on the political uncertainty of the coming European elections in France, Germany and Italy. However, the outlook for both Germany and France is positive for the pro-European parties so I'd expect the Euro to strengthen in May and then again in October. It is only the Italian elections in 2018 that are likely to provide any volatility - and even then the populists are unlikely to win [...]

The UK will become a tax haven

By | 2017-01-19T10:01:49+00:00 January 19th, 2017|Brexit|

That was the threat that May gave yesterday in her speech if the UK was forced to walk away from the negotiating table at the Brexit negotiations. Previously I postulated that UK citizens living abroad and EU citizens living in the UK would be used as May's key bargaining chip and, although that may yet come to pass, it seems she has decided that the EU will be more likely to react to a tax haven being set up on the edge of Europe. However, while the right-wing press might be applauding this manoeuvre, it is an empty threat. Why? Because it's going to happen anyway. In fact it's already happening. How many headlines have their been about the sweetheart tax deals and big multinationals not paying their fair share? The legality of it is neither here nor there for the UK government - as long as the super rich remain happy (because they fund the political parties.) Le Monde once described The City of London as Europe's biggest money laundering operation. Outside of the EU's banking regulation The [...]

Show me a motion

By | 2017-01-16T12:57:55+00:00 January 16th, 2017|Life in France|

A little while ago I came across this one-liner on Facebook which I duly shared with my students: Grammar: the difference between knowing your shit and knowing you're shit. I thought this was a neat way to demonstrate to those learning the language of, albeit far removed from, Shakespeare how a simple apostrophe can dramatically change the meaning of something. It also helps demonstrate the flexibility of the noun "shit;" which in literal terms we know signifies excrement but here implies two polar states of enlightenment - first devout knowledge and then half-wittedness. While some might frown on me for teaching the youth of France English swear words it is worth considering how many everyday, anglophonic conversations might contain one of the following uses of the excremental word: To shit on someone from a great height To be full of shit To be in the shit To take someone’s shit To shit or get off the toilet To say "No shit" or "Are you shitting me?" To talk bullshit To talk shit When the shit hits the fan etc. [...]

There is a plan

By | 2016-11-23T10:36:28+00:00 November 23rd, 2016|Brexit|

Despite the accusations of having "no clear plan" for Brexit negotiations I believe there is in fact one and it's crystal clear, albeit conceived in cloud-cuckoo land. I reckon that May, Davies and Johnson will demand that the UK remain in the single market while doing away with freedom of movement. This is what they have implied time and again, and have not changed their tune despite the response from EU leaders. Presumably they are hoping that by sticking to this position throughout the 2 years of negotiations - the EU will eventually cave in and give it to them - as they have on many occasions in the past. However, I can see no reason for the EU to cave in this time. The main bargaining chip in the past has been the threat of the UK's withdrawal from the EU (for all our exceptions and opt-outs we've had as full half-hearted members of the EU club), but that threat can no longer be relied upon to get the EU's negotiators to back down - which means the [...]

Body transformation

By | 2017-01-06T11:16:30+00:00 November 8th, 2016|Life in France|

It's approximately a year ago that I began a new diet and on this first anniversary I thought I'd share the results with you. So if you are fed up to the back teeth with the US election please read on... Some background first: I first put on flab in my mid-teens. My mother put this down to an excessive intake of fizzy drinks (sodas) and soon had me drinking 'diet' varieties; while these didn't make me lose weight one could argue that I didn't get any flabbier. By the time I reached University age I weighed-in at 58 kilos (9st 2lb in old money) and was selected to cox for the rowing team. But despite weighing the same as a super featherweight boxer - my physical appearance looked far from athletic - I was somehow skinny and flabby at the same time. How could this be? I was practising sports six days a week! My high consumption of beer seemed like the obvious culprit. Then I truly began to pile on the pounds when I graduated from University [...]

Be afraid

By | 2017-01-06T11:16:30+00:00 October 6th, 2016|Life in England|

The recent developments in the British Government's stance on Brexit have horrified me. Mrs May's positioning of the conservative party as squarely on the far right - a space that once belonged to UKIP and the BNP - is huge cause for concern. This is happening even though the referendum margin was only 4%, even though the conservatives got a parliamentary majority with only 36% of the vote, even though only 12% of people at the general election thought UKIP were worth listening to and even though Theresa May hasn't been elected by anybody - not even her own party. Yet to the media at large it all seems so perfectly acceptable that they are hardly bothering giving the subject any airtime at all. We should be afraid, very afraid, at the nation's march towards territorial nationalist "populism." - for where will it all end? I predict that the first victim of a Hard Brexit will be the NHS - with hospitals, clinics and health trusts rapidly sold to American firms for a pittance having lost 30% of their [...]