Europhobia

I am grateful to my friend Neil for encouraging me to write more often.
My problem at the moment is not lack of things to write about, on the contrary: there is just too much to choose from.
So I’m going to roll my sleeves up and plunge in with our old friend, the EU.
My local MP (and electoral rival) Steve Baker was one of the rebels on the recent EU Referendum vote. This prompted an outpouring of support on the comments pages of our local newspaper. At least two commenters were sufficiently impressed that they pledged to join UKIP! I’m not sure that Steve would have wanted that!
Nick Clegg has recently said that Eurosceptics should be ‘careful what they wish for’ and he is right. Our economy is deeply intertwined with that of our EU neighbours, and it would continue to be so even if we withdrew. As it is, we find ourselves in the ‘outer circle’ of EU members.
The Euro crisis has been a field day for the ‘I told you so’ brigade, and not without justification. However the EU crisis is a direct result of Eurozone members failing to follow their own rules on borrowing, and not as a result of any flaw in the concept.
Before we gloat, we should take a look at the performance of Sterling since the Euro came into being. On Euro day one you would have needed 67p to purchase a Euro. Today it is 87p. That is a fairly serious depreciation when you consider how troubled the Euro is today, because we have performed significantly worse! The question we should be asking our politicians is ‘why has our economy performed so poorly compared to the Eurozone?’
The Referendum that was debated was never a serious contender. Firstly, it offered a third ‘renegotiate’ option which was far to vague to be put to the people in a referendum. You can only hold a referendum with clearly defined options. Where on earth would a win for ‘renegotiate’ have left us? Secondly, you don’t redesign your kitchen while your house is subsiding. No-one should underestimate the doldrums our economy finds itself in. As always, I believe that unemployment is the number one barometer for any economy. Unemployment is a scourge on people’s lives, and it continues to rise. That should be our primary focus. Changing the terms of our engagement with the EU would be a massive gamble – and it’s not one to contemplate at a time like this.
Frankly, I think the majority of the Tory rebels were more concerned with popularity in their constituencies than any wider principle. If they really feel that way, maybe they should defect to UKIP?

Steve Jobs

Like millions of others, I was awakened this morning by the alarm on my iPhone.

I stumble downstairs and fumble with the coffee machine – and as always launch the BBC News app to see what’s going on.

Therefore I like countless others learned of Steve Jobs’ untimely passing on one of the iconic devices that he was responsible for. It seems fitting.

I am a self confessed technology fan. I have always loved the latest gadget. Apple products polarise opinions, but you cannot deny their importance. The iPhone embodies technology for non-geeks.

Like so many of Jobs’  brain children, it is a high tech product. It’s computing power is way above that on the Apollo spacecraft. But somehow, it is so user friendly that you almost instictively know how to use it. It seemlessy integrates itsself into my life so that I cannot remember what is was like not to have my emails, news, weather, map (which knows where I am), text messages – not to mention my entire record collection in my pocket wherever I go.

Other products can do all this. But Steve’s products are so easy to use that they don’t even come with a manual. Perhaps that is what distinguishes a good gadget from a great one.

In recent years, competitors have been reduced to shameless imitation and playing catchup. the shops are full of  iPhone and iPad lookalikes. Imitation is indeed the sincerest form of flattery.

The man may have left us – but his legacy will be all around us for years to come. He had a reputation for being a difficult man to work for. A perfectionist who constantly sent products back to his engineers until he was satisfied. But there is no doubt that his vision for what products could and should be set the standard for others to follow.

The extraordinary talent of Steve Jobs was that he made the connected world more accessible to us all. I think his legacy will be very long.