Monthly Archives: Chwefror 2015

Independence: Egypt

We had to wait nearly a century and a half before the next country broke free of the iron grasp of the British Empire.

The nationalist sentiment in Egypt is described as having been “limited to the educated elite” prior to the outbreak of the First World War. But Britain having poured masses of foreign troops into Egypt during that legalised mass murder, while also conscripting 1.5 million Egyptians into the Labour Corps, mobilised pro-independence sentiment throughout all classes in the population.

In 1919 a mass movement for full independence became mobilised at a grass-roots level using civil disobedience, and emissaries requesting independence and international recognition were promptly arrested and exiled in Malta. Killings followed, with villages and railways destroyed by British vengeance. Demonstrations and strikes across Egypt became an almost daily occurrence until normal life ‘ground to a halt’.

The British decided to have an enquiry into the causes of the disorder, and two years later, in 1921, the report recommended the end of the Egyptian Protectorate (some Protection!). London issued a unilateral declaration of Egyptian independence in 1922, although the following matters were still reserved to the British:

  • Security of communications of the British Empire in Egypt
  • Defence of Egypt against foreign aggression
  • Protection of foreign interests in Egypt
  • Sudan

In the years leading up to the insurrection, it’s easy to see why dissatisfaction would have fomented amongst the elite. Government expenditure in Egypt never got above 10% of GDP until the onset of the war; over the corresponding period, government expenditure in the UK was seldom below 20% of GDP, and up to 40% of GDP.

Statistics on GDP before 1950 – for many countries – is patchy. But one source at the University of Groningen estimates that in 1913, per capita GDP in Egypt was $902 (using 1990 US dollars). That makes it $1,190 in US dollars from the year 2000.

GDP per capita in the UK in 1913 in US dollars from 1990 was $224.6 billion/41.3 million people = $5,438, or $7,160 in US dollars (2000).

So 10 years before independence, Egypt’s per capita GDP was just 1190/7160 = 17% of the UK’s. And I called the USA ‘piss-poor’!

Once again, let’s put it into the context of today’s GDP. We already know that the UK’s GDP per capita in 2013 was $42,423. Egypt’s would be $1,850*, which would put it between Ghana and Nicaragua, in 143rd spot in the world rankings.

But where do we find Egypt in 2013? The GDP of this country that was left smashed and brutalised by the British occupation has managed to haul itself up to 127th in the world rankings, with per capita GDP of $3,110 – a full 68% improvement on where Egypt might be expected to be.

So independence for Egypt has resulted in a 68% increase in GDP relative to where it was at the end of the British occupation. Hardly a ringing endorsement of the benevolence of the Governments of His/Her Britannic Majesty.

Date of independence GDP at that date ($ 2013) GDP in 2013 ($) Independence ‘bonus’
USA 1783 1,110 53,392 +301%
Egypt 1913 1,190 3,110 +68%


* The University of Groningen estimates that GDP per capita in Egypt was $649 in 1870, twelve years before the British occupation in 1882. At independence in 1923, per capita GDP was approximately $905 (all in 1990 dollars). So per capita GDP over the period of occupation grew at around $4.83 per annum. If we assume the same growth rate under a British occupation extending to 2013, we would get an additional $434.7, for a total of $1,334.7 in 1990 dollars, or $1,850 in 2013 dollars.

1 Sylw

Filed under Independence, Westminster

Plaid or Green? A Constituency Guide

I’m not going to tackle the merits of Plaid’s stance on the Greens and vice versa. Suffice to say that some voters will be torn between two party with solid left-wing, anti-austerity, pro-democracy ideals.

This post then is simply to provide a guide. If you want to back an anti-austerity party, based on the turnout for each party in the 2010 UK election, then this is who you should vote for to have the biggest impact:

So there we have it. Out of 40 constituencies in Wales, the anti-austerity progressive voters should plump for Plaid in 40 of them.

Are things as simplistic as this? Of course not. There are many factors other than past performance that will sway us one way or the other. Syniadau helpfully provides his analysis here.

I’ve thought long over this section of the post. But it’s worth posting, if only to get a definitive response from Green Party chiefs. Because, with thanks to WelshNotBritish for highlighting it, my attention was recently brought to a rather stunning confession (if true) from the Wales Green Party.

stunning confession

If that’s the attitude of the Wales Green Party then it’s worrying for a number of reasons.

Firstly, it suggests that the Wales Green Party believes the Welsh language and culture to be ‘regional’. That means they consider Wales to be a region – presumably of England and Wales – not a country. That puts the Wales Green Party to the right of most political parties in the UK, including UKIP.

Secondly, it indicates that they couldn’t give a monkeys about the Welsh language. In fact, their interest in the Welsh language is clearly displayed for all to see. Just click on the ‘Cymraeg’ tab at the top of the Wales Green Party website to see just how much content is in Welsh. To save you the trouble, I can tell you. The entire ‘news’ section is in English. Then there’s one subtitled English language party political broadcast from the European elections, a 3-page manifesto for the 2014 European elections plus 2-page flyer, and a rather more comprehensive manifesto for the 2012 National Assembly elections.

Thirdly, that the Wales Green Party considers irrelevant all the time, effort and money that committed individuals across Wales expend on securing a thriving future for the language. That’s because it’s not one of the things “we really must get right”.

Fourth, that a ‘democracy that works for everyone’ clearly doesn’t include the Welsh language. Which begs the question: how can democracy work for everyone if non-English languages don’t form a part of it ‘for the future’?

Progressive? Left-leaning? If that’s the opinion of the Greens in Wales then you don’t need to know any more detail.

Of course, the Wales Green Party doesn’t exist as a separate entity from the EnglandAndWales entity. And you can imagine just how prominent Wales is in the eyes of the party top brass. Or you can see for yourselves by putting ‘Wales’ into the search engine on the website. Why search engine? Because Wales doesn’t feature anywhere on the home page, other than being described as a ‘sister party’. Which is bizarre, since the Green Party is the Green Party of England and Wales. How can a sister party be a miniscule sub-section of the same organisation? Now that gives a bad name to sorority!

This recent exchange on Twitter might clarify things:

Derw Cymru

According to the Wales Green Party, it is “as independent from the England and Wales Green Party as Wales is from England”. That would be “not independent at all”, then.

You might be confused by all this. Me too.

Until the Green Party can sort out its internal mess and get to grips with its colonial attitude to Wales it’s not going to pull many votes – or members – from the indigenous population. Its apparently 19th Century approach to the Welsh language is horrendously out of kilter with the polling that indicates, time after time, that the people of Wales – bilingual or not – are hugely supportive of it.

So for the sake of completeness, if you’re a progressive left-leaning voter there really is just one party in it.

Rho sylw

Filed under Democracy, Greens, Plaid Cymru, UKIP, Westminster