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#Corbyn: Why he is just so bad for Labour



Jeremy-Corbyn-009EU Reporter welcomes UKIP MEP for the North East Jonathan Arnott, with his strident thoughts on the progress (or otherwise) of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

On the night of 6 January, I was sitting on a train back from London to my constituency; an appropriate day, perhaps, for me to have an epiphany. Reading an article on the excellent fivethirtyeight blog, Nate Silver cut through to the core of why mainstream right-wingers in America have proved unable to find a means of attacking Donald Trump that resonates: "Trump is such a target-rich environment that it’s a bit like an airplane spewing out chaff. Becomes hard to know what you’re really aiming for."

That's it! Exchange the word 'Trump' for 'Corbyn' in the above quote, and you'll see what I've been battling with on a daily basis since Corbyn became leader.  Everywhere we look, there's a target.  Do I attack Corbyn for his failure to control the Labour Parliamentary party? For his personal conduct over national anthems and suchlike?  For his links to unsavoury organizations? For his utter naïveté as summed up by reading aloud the directions on the autocue? Nothing wrong with naïveté so long as you're not auditioning for the job of Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.  Do I attack him for such an appalling choice of shadow cabinet: a farming minister who wants to make eating meat socially unacceptable, a unilateralist and deeply unpatriotic defence secretary, a shadow chancellor whose opportunity to put Cameron under the grill turned into opprobrium for himself as he quoted Mao's Little Red Book? Maybe I should look at his past views on IRA terrorism, or the views of his closest advisers? Or closer to home, the apparent sacking of a shadow minister who said that terrorists are responsible for their actions? This paragraph is getting longer and longer, spiralling out of control as one unmissable point after another springs to mind.

The convicted arsonist appointed to the top team in the Lords...and there I go again.  I can't help myself. Corbyn is SO bad that selecting material to attack him isn't easy. A scattergun approach doesn't work.  The best political approach is usually to focus on one thing, almost to the exclusion of all else.  But with Corbyn it is the totality that is the problem.  How can you convey all of the above in a soundbite? A fog descends; uncertainty creeps in. Which of the many problems with Corbyn do I highlight? Others will take a different view to me; there's so much to go at that it's uncoordinated and patchy. If Corbyn had only done half as much wrong he might perversely be even more vulnerable.

There it is again; now I have the urge, for the sake of completeness, to add Corbyn's 'newer, kinder form of the politics' to the list - which has been drowned in a torrent of abuse. From McDonnell's deeply unpleasant remarks about my party, to Labour MPs blocking each other on Twitter.  Whilst writing this article, I’ve noticed his denigrating remarks about teachers, suggesting that they just ‘have to stay one chapter ahead of the class in the textbook’.  An abundance of ill-conceived quotes should make Trump easy to attack too. But how do you convey that message to the general public, if you're an establishment right-winger stuck in the Washington DC clique?  Just as they're gearing up to attack Trump over his comments about women, allegations about his personal life arise. Then there's comments about Mexican immigrants and rape, an appalling attitude to Ebola, comments about Muslims and so on.  The target keeps moving.

Both Corbyn and Trump deservedly generate negative headlines.  Die-hard supporters elevate 'their man' simultaneously to the level of a saint, and the role of a martyr being crucified by the evil media.  Yet the media is merely doing its job.  Neither has had a career in frontline politics.  A strange thing to say perhaps about Corbyn, who's been a politician for decades. But Corbyn hasn't engaged with the establishment of the Labour Party in that time.  He has been a campaigner for various niche causes, railing against the establishment on matters of his own conscience.

It's commendable enough in a way, but it doesn't train you for the pitfalls of leadership.  Corbyn and Trump are both feeling their way through the intricate maze of high-level politics for the first time.  They both make rookie mistakes; they both inevitably generate more negative headlines than they would even for their somewhat eccentric views.  The negative headlines they attract aren't some kind of media conspiracy, but a byproduct of them not fully understanding the level of politics they're operating at.

Put a striker who's played his whole career at Conference level into the Premier League, and he'll be found out. Maybe not on natural ability but on fitness, on tactical understanding, positioning and all the things that make one league far more professional than the other.  It takes time and dedicated training for the aspiring footballer to avoid such errors.

Likewise, Corbyn and Trump need to surround themselves with wiser heads, steeped in experience of the mechanics of government.  But they don't; Corbyn appointed Seumas Milne.  And yet, once in a blue moon, a Conference side will spring a major upset in the FA Cup, knocking out a Premier League side along the way.  That doesn't mean they're going to win.  Likewise, Corbyn and Trump will have the occasional success.  Corbyn won the Labour leadership.  Trump might get the Republican nomination.  Neither though is capable of winning a General Election.  The final parallel? Corbyn fans and Trump fans will both hate this article. Each consider the other’s man to be an incoherent buffoon.


EU-Ukraine relations come under the spotlight



The EU and U.S are doing a lot for Ukraine on the issue of reforms, not only to economic reforms but reform of the justice system, writes Martin Banks.

Over the past six years, as part of legal reforms, Ukraine has developed and adopted amendments to its constitution, adopting about a dozen laws. 

 The new Supreme Court, the Higher Anti-Corruption Court were created, the qualification assessment of judges and other processes have started, all designed to have a positive impact on the judicial system and the fight against corruption. The EU was actively involved in all these reforms.

The result, though, has not yet met expectations. In 2019, an opinion poll by the Razumkov Centre for the Council of Europe Office in Ukraine showed 46% believe that the judicial reform has “not yet begun at all” and that 43% have a negative attitude towards a judicial reform.

Corruption in Ukraine continues to thrive, and the judicial system has become even more ineffective than before. At the same time, some Ukrainian politicians are actively using the topic of judicial reform for their own interests. In particular, former President Petro Poroshenko used the topic of judicial reform to gain control over the courts. And he succeeded with only a few judges daring to make decisions against Poroshenko's will. 

As a result, the number of experienced judges who have left the system has increased since 2014. Some Ukrainian courts have no judges left at all and the courts have suspended their work, making it difficult or impossible for citizens to access justice at all. 

As of early 2020, the shortage of judicial personnel in the courts was almost 30%. This affects the quality of court proceedings and the timing of consideration of cases. Suspects stay in pretrial detention centers for an inordinate time, cases accumulate, and the dynamics of justice slow down, leading to social tensions.

Almost everybody agrees that the implemented reforms proved to be totally ineffective but why is this happening? Why have all efforts been in vain? The question was to be discussed at an international conference "Dialogue about justice - 2" in Kiev, but the event was badly disrupted.

EU policy makers and civil servants cancelled their participation in the conference, when they learned the day before that the panel consisted of some people with a “dubious” reputation.

Even those who decided to take part faced with problems. Immediately after it started, an anonymous message was received about the mining of the Parkovyi ECC building, where the conference participants were gathered. 

 All those present had to leave the premises and wait outside for an hour while police checked the building.

 Why did someone try to disrupt the conference? The Ukrainian edition of "Vzglyad” said the conference tried to “disrupt” organizations and structures that focus on Poroshenko.

Journalists talked to a representative of one such organization engaged in promoting judicial reform in Ukraine who said that in Ukraine only certain NGOs have the right to contact with Europeans on the topic of judicial and other reforms.

Ukraine, he said, has formed a "caste" of reformers who do not allow anyone else to discuss reforms without their permission and it is these who determine who in Ukraine is "dubious", that is, who EU representatives have no right to communicate. 

One of the conference participants was a well-known Ukrainian lawyer, Rostislav Popovich who noted it was the second such high-level discussion on judicial reform - the first one was held last year in the European Parliament. He wrote on his Facebook page:“The Kiev event was attended by people's deputies, judges of higher courts, leading lawyers, MEPs and specialists from Europe, the U.S and Israel. The composition was representative and the topics discussed were topical. But it was very difficult to hold it in Kiev - not because of the coronavirus, but because the conference was disrupted by people who wrote letters to MEPs, demanding that they refuse to participate, speaking of 'odious' participants. 

“Why such a strange reaction? It was because the conference wasn't held by them and they didn't select the participants. They did not want to allow Europeans to learn the truth about the real situation in the country and about those 'reforms' that have been implemented here.”

He believes that in Ukraine there are people “parasitizing on the problems of the judicial system and many other problems.”

According to Popovich, they “monopolize” the right to speak on behalf of the country with Europe and other Western partners."These people, as a rule, do not understand the topic, do not understand the real situation and promote "reforms" that fail one after another and only make the situation worse. At the same time, activists do not bear any responsibility for the result. Moreover, for them, worse is better. As long as there are problems in the country, these people receive grants to fight these problems.”

He argues that the EU communicates in Ukraine exclusively with a small group of people who call themselves civil society - mostly activists, funded by grants from the EU and international organizations. They purport to represent all Ukrainian people and are often the ones with whom European politicians often come into contact to discuss reforms.

In reality, says the lawyer, these activists “represent no one - they have neither support nor even respect among Ukrainians, and are often accused of corruption themselves”.

It was, he states at the insistence of those pushing for judicial reform that those who work directly in the judicial system were “eliminated” - judges, lawyers and lawyers. He says this is an abnormal situation for any country and one reason why the reforms failed.

It is quite understandable why few people in Europe seem to have a good understanding of what is happening in Ukraine, on reason why Europeans involved in promoting certain models of unworkable judicial reform worsen the situation.

Europe should maintain contacts not only with professional activists, but also with a wider range of people in Ukraine to be able to form an objective picture of what is happening in the country. That would ensure the reforms really benefit Ukraine.Ukrainians have already shown that they are against external management by Russia. But now they say that Ukraine has fallen under the external control of the West and Ukrainian people will not accept such a situation.

This could have dramatic consequences and some politicians are already calling for a rejection of European integration with such appeals gaining support among voters.

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Huawei ban spurs new competition for Ericsson and Nokia



The crackdown on China’s largest technology company has given startups such as Altiostar Networks Inc. and new entrants including Qualcomm Inc. a rare opportunity to grab a slice of the $35 billion the telecom industry spends each year on this crucial part of mobile phone networks.

“This could break up that tech vendor lock-in that’s been around for decades,” said Andre Fuetsch, chief technology officer of network services at AT&T Inc., the third largest U.S. wireless carrier. “It’s about how do you create a much more competitive, innovative ecosystem.”

Technology gets political

Position on including equipment from China’s Huawei in 5G mobile networks, as of 15 July, 2020

Source: Bloomberg

Base stations are the heart of cellular networks, powering millions of antennas that perch on cell towers and city rooftops all over the world. Until recently, these boxes were a proprietary combination of processors and software that had to be purchased all at once. Huawei, Ericsson and Nokia account for three quarters of this market, which is worth as much as $35 billion a year, according to researcher Dell’Oro Group.

Open radio access network, or O-RAN, changes this by creating an open standard for base station design and ensuring all the software and components work well together -- no matter who is supplying the ingredients.

This is a potentially radical shift. When telecom giants such as AT&T and China Mobile Ltd. want to expand their network they usually have to call their existing supplier and order more of the same because a box from Nokia won’t work with one from Ericsson. The new technology lets wireless carriers mix and match more easily.

The initiative also means that new suppliers can succeed by focusing on one or two components, or a single piece of software, rather than spending lots of time and money building a whole base station from the ground up.

O-RAN gear has been used sparingly since an industry alliance was formed to promote the technology in 2018. But when the U.S. toughened its stance against Huawei last year and encouraged other countries to crack down, interest in O-RAN adoption increased. The Chinese tech giant is a low-cost provider. Now it’s unavailable in some markets, carriers are more willing to look at alternative suppliers embracing the more flexible O-RAN approach.

“Increased geopolitical uncertainty is helping them to get an invite to the table they would not normally have had,” Dell’Oro Group analyst Stefan Pongratz said. “Multiple vendors, not just in Europe but across the world, are basically reassessing their exposure to Huawei.”

How Huawei landed at the centre of global tech tussle: QuickTake

Open standard base stations will generate sales of about $5 billion in the next five years, more than originally predicted, according to Dell’Oro.

Ericsson questions the performance and cost-efficiency of current O-RAN offerings. But the telecom companies, who decide where the money is spent, aren’t being shy about telling incumbent providers to get on board or risk being left behind.

“We’ve been candid with them: This is the architecture that the operator community is pursuing,” said Adam Koeppe, who oversees technology strategy, architecture and planning at Verizon Communications Inc., the biggest U.S. wireless carrier.

The list of companies vying to fill the gap left by Huawei is a mixture of some of the oldest names in technology and newcomers. Qualcomm, Intel Corp.Hewlett Packard EnterpriseDell Technologies Inc.Cisco Systems Inc.Fujitsu Ltd. and NEC Corp. are offering various parts of the new base station technology. Startups such as Altiostar, Airspan Networks and Mavenir Systems are trying to carve out niches, too.

O-RAN proponents point to the success of Rakuten Inc., a Japanese e-commerce provider that has used the technology to break into mobile phone services. The company began 4G wireless service in April and is upgrading to 5G now, using O-RAN suppliers including NEC, Qualcomm, Intel, Altiostar and Airspan. Rakuten said using this more open approach has cut capital expenditure by 40% and reduced operating costs 30%.

Dish Network Corp. is building a 5G wireless network in the U.S. with help from Altiostar. New projects like this are great, but the real opportunity is with operators that are shifting their existing networks to O-RAN, according to Thierry Maupilé, Altiostar’s executive vice president of strategy and product management. The Tewksbury, Massachusetts-based company has raised more than $300 million from investors such as Rakuten, Qualcomm and Cisco.

Why 5G mobile is arriving with a subplot of espionage: QuickTake

O-RAN is part of a broader push to make all kinds of computer networks more flexible and easy to control. By standardizing hardware and using more software in centralized data centers, companies can run networks more cheaply, while fixing and upgrading them more easily. 5G will need this flexibility to work well.

For AT&T, the new approach has already started to help. The company has introduced Samsung equipment based on O-RAN in areas where it had previously been limited to Ericsson gear, AT&T’s Fuetsch said.

Nokia expects to have a full range of O-RAN offerings available in 2021. Some of the final standards aren’t yet set and they need to be completed and tested which will take time, according to Sandro Tavares, global head of marketing.

“O-RAN is supported by more than 20 major operators around the world, so it is pretty clear that there is a strong push for it to happen,” he said. “This is a big move for our industry, and it is clear for the main players that we should not be cutting corners in this process.”

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Ireland tightens Dublin COVID-19 restrictions as cases surge




The Irish government on Friday (18 September) announced strict new COVID-19 restrictions for the capital Dublin, banning indoor restaurant dining and advising against all non-essential travel, after a surge in cases in recent days. Ireland, which was one of the slowest countries in Europe to emerge from lockdown, has seen average daily case numbers roughly double in the past two weeks and significant increases in those being treated for the virus in hospitals, writes Conor Humphries.

“Here in the capital, despite people’s best efforts over recent weeks, we are in a very dangerous place,” Prime Minister Micheal Martin said in a televised address to the country, announcing the restrictions.

“Without further urgent and decisive action, there is a very real threat that Dublin could return to the worst days of this crisis.” The measures, which include a ban on indoor events, will last for three weeks, he said. Ireland had the 17th highest COVID-19 infection rate out of 31 European countries monitored by the European Centre for Disease Control on Friday, with 57.4 cases per 100,000 people in the past 14 days.

The government reported three deaths from the virus on Friday, bringing the total toll to 1,792. Countries across Europe, including Britain, Greece and Denmark, on Friday announced new restrictions to curb surging coronavirus infections in some of their largest cities. Ireland on Thursday tightened its COVID-19 travel restrictions by imposing quarantines on travellers from major holiday markets Italy and Greece.

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