coffee-splashNothing starts a Saturday morning better than a cup of coffee (decaf for me) a slice of home made carrot cake and  a chat with good friends!

So this Morning was superb as far s I was concerned.

My long suffering wife Shona is the current Chairman of the Harlow Conservative Ladies Committee, and they organise lots of social and fundraising events.

This morning they organised a Coffee and Chat morning followed by some door knocking and leaflet delivery.

It always amazes me the diversity of Harlow Conservatives and this shows in the conversation from the obvious about our MP Robert Halfon and his fight against the illegal encampments plaguing Harlow at the moment to the Formula One Championship to Strictly come Dancing. Believe it or not people interested in Politics really can be normal!

KnockoutLast night we held a fundraising dinner for our superb MP Robert Halfon.

Joining us were Eric Pickles and his lovely wife and Frank Bruno.

Frank spoke very openly and honestly about his struggles with mental health issues  and how he now keeps his body and mind fit.

Eric covered a wide range of topics including how he is changing planning law to deal with travellers – something the whole audience was very interested in!

Rob gave a barnstorming speech, covering the campaigns he has successfully led around petrol duty and hospital parking fees and showed just what a great MP he has become with some insightful thoughts about the state of the country.

My wife won (in my view)the best prize of the night in the raffle:gloves


“We’ve been here four trips around the sun. Done some things we’re proud of, things we’re less pleased about… It may be time for us to take our own temperature; an internal inventory… What’s done. What’s undone. What’s done that we’d like to undo or do over.”

With apologies for playing with Leo’s words….Will Cameron be brave enough to “leave it all out on the field”?

The always erudite Peter Ould suggests that Russia has already lost  in the Ukraine and is simply now making the best of a bad hand.

I am not sure that I agree with Peter’s analysis.

Peter suggests “Even if Russia annexes the Crimea and the Don Basin, the response of the rest of the Ukraine will be to closely ally with the West.” I don’t think that will be the response of the rest of the Ukraine – it may be the response of the West of the Ukraine, but let’s look (before the recent troubles) at the result of the 2010 election. Russian supporting Yanukovych show a lot of support in the East of the Ukraine, not just in the Crimea, and we know this is due to ethnic and linguistic factors.

Russia is holding out for either a short term civil war spliting the country in two, providing the buffer that Putin wants and needs, and if not then Russia will play the long game by trying to have Ukraine federalised as a solution to the crisis with a Pro Russian puppet in play in the East.

Regardless of the wider outcome it looks like Russia has already managed to annex the Crimea, providing security to it’s Black Sea fleet at Sevastopol, which as one of Peter’s readers points out is the Russians only warm water port.

Hardly a loss just yet. There is a lot more to play for in the Ukraine than just crumbs Peter.

The effective occupation of the Crimea by Russia has this morning been hailed as one of the most dangerous moments of the 21st century and follows an all too well historically established route.

For EU countries this should not just be about defending a far-off small country on NATO’s Eastern Border.

This is the middle game period in an already well developed Russian strategy to regain territory that the Russian people and importantly President Putin believes are Russian by right, historically linguistically and culturally.

To look at the build up to Crimea is to see a disturbing similarity eighty years before.

Since 2008, the Georgian government has lost control of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, both effectively annexed by Russia.

Though they are still unrecognised as separate countries by almost all of the world, the two territories have effectively become Russian.

The international community’s response?

UN talks to try to resolve the dispute have got nowhere and Russian appeasement has been rife in case of retaliation by Gazprom, the Russian State owned Gas company, for whom most of Europe depend for a large amount of their Gas supplies .

Given that the international community has done nothing to stop Russia, now Crimea has effectively been annexed and still the international community is relying on “harsh words” diplomacy, leaving the fledgling, democratically elected, Ukrainian government to sabre rattle on their own.

Let’s look back 80 years at another country that believed it’s People historically,  linguistically and culturally extended beyond their own borders.


In 1935 a majority of Germanic population allowed Germany to take back control of the Saar.

Then in 1936 in violation of an international treaty the Germans re-militarized the Rhineland.

During the period they were arming and providing military aid to Franco in Spain, then in 1938 with the Anschluss Austria became a part of Germany.

The Germans, not being stopped by the international community with anything other than words, only continued demanding first the Sudetenland and then eventually taking the whole of  Czechoslovakia.

Only with the invasion and annexation of Poland in 1939 were other countries finally willing to act.

What will be Poland this time round….?

Can we afford to wait and find out?