In praise of big tech & social media as they help the traveller.

Google Maps, Google Translate, Twitter, Facebook, Viber, WhatsApp, Wikipedia, YouTube have been invaluable for international travellers & workers though I still love hard copy atlases, road maps, dictionaries & encyclopaedias. It is fashionable to slag off apps & corporations but

This is a tweet I meant to write at the end of working in Chernihiv region, northern Ukraine for two months in Spring 2019, the apps of big corporations, the internet (& Wikipedia) made travel, work & volunteering abroad much easier in the last years

Slagging off Facebook & Google, Microsoft & other tech giants is sometimes fair but it is unfair not to welcome & applaud the great help they also are for so many people – Skype too (other products are available). PS I sometimes use CDs even as well, I was a late adopter

Published first as a Twitter thread, 8:46 PM · Sep 2, 2021·

The post spurred by my replying to this Ian Bancroft tweet


Ian Bancroft

My reply – I totally agree, seeing this problem quite often. Google Maps is incredibly useful but pretty inaccurate in south Serbia and not great in North Macedonia, with no ability to correct actual road content. Some predates route of E-75. I use Michelin maps on desktop alternatively.
8:29 PM · Sep 2, 2021


Some descriptions of June in south Serbia.

Cows coming home at tea time or dusk with their cowherds, goatherds tending to goats by the side of the road or in fields, often with the cows. The cows are giant – much bigger (one third bigger I think) than I see in North West England. Unlike in May I haven’t yet seen the flocks of sheep grazing and moving around the fields, tended by their cheerful relaxed shepherds. Perhaps, having returned just a few days ago, I haven’t been on the roads where the sheep are – though often they are grazing even on the outskirts of the small and larger towns in south central Serbia and Kosovo. Perhaps they have moved to cooler spots than the valley floor. Small bright red field poppies by the sides of the roads and streams. The plastic pollution along and in all the streams now covered up by lush new green growth or washed away on its way to pollute elsewhere. Swallows darting around in the air or gliding gracefully, super fast outside my high balcony or near skimming my head on the walkway to our office, where they nest in the concrete roof space. Geraniums (as us unbotanical call them) giving colour on most balconies, window boxes, and lofts and front paths, carnations, primulas and other pretty bedding plants in municipal displays and planters, gardens, some adopted beds (by shopkeepers or residents) that looked shabby or abandoned in winter and autumn now providing extra colour. Still the strings of dried peppers hang on balconies, in loft space and eaves. There are roses and even water loving hydrangeas like in England. Earlier there were snow drops. In May there were plenty and daffodils in the gardens and wild primulas in the wooded hillsides. The oak trees were not out then but suddenly came alive. Colourful beehives are found on the hillsides, in family plots, and along the edge of fields. Road side signs in remote Medvedja, or even along the autoput to Belgrade advertise domestic rakija and med (honey). The heady scent from Lime trees drifts on the air.

Storks, large (tubby even) and tall, stalking around the fields dotted, one here, one or two there, or at dusk in their nests on telegraph poles, electricity pylons, or on chimneys and rooves. Two stalks in a nest, sitting or standing, their young they were tending in May no longer sitting with them. No, three storks in a nest, the third looks grown but slightly smaller, these are the young I saw newly born months ago. One on a roof nearby, majestic. The swallows and the sparrows compete. But little birds buzz around the storks without any complaint.

The vines growing (with roses at the row ends for pollination, very pretty), the plum trees growing (to make plum brandy – slivocic [shlivovits/z or shlivovitsa] or rakija, all incorrectly translated here as brandy but there are different types for each fruit and Serbian and Albanian people have their favourite), men forking up bales of hay in the tea time heat onto tractors laden with hay. Bales or heaps in the fields, sometimes in the Serbian villages traditional conical haystacks. Corn drying in open wire or wooden holders. New corn plants shooting up in the fields. Courgettes and cabbages. Vines are grown even in yards in the towns. Chickens run around and noisy but harmless stray dogs coexist without problem – as clueless as the chickens for wandering out into the roads, and competing with the cats to scavenge in bins. Looking at a bleak wall or run down frontage just peer through the doorway, gate or cracks and you usually see a beautiful yard, courtyard or garden. And if you like vintage Yugoslav era tractors this is the place to come. They look fine, classic working venerable machines. Every greengrocers, small shop and market or informal street seller’s pitch is piled with colourful fresh produce.

From my balcony looking across town I see the green low hills to the east (running north and south and inland to bigger hills towards North Macedonia and Bulgaria) and from the block stairwell on the other side there are the near low green lush hills to the west. Running south I can the highway that goes past the southernmost town of Presevo (sounds like Preshevo; or Presheve to Albanians) and on to Skopje, Thessalonica or Athens (or north to Belgrade). I wait to see if we will get the thunderstorms, as last year June and August were months for thunderstorms. Unexpectedly to me. Despite the heat there has been only one so far. Since writing that line a couple more but not the drama and deluges of last year yet. June was warn, last June and July hot. Such a change since the last thunderstorms in an unusually cold and wet mid May. In April there was sun and rain like in Britain, and snow, but 1 March and 1 November had been warm enough to sit on the balcony. Mid February there was heavy snow. People say the weather in Britain is changeable.

Now in the heat it is quiet but in the evening, with almost no Corona cases and most restrictions now officially lifted (previously largely ignored) many diaspora and those studying or working away have returned and the towns are crowded, outside and inside the bars and cafes. In the bigger town of Vranje, people stroll the old Corso in the evening, like the passeggiata or paseo, while the pedestrian ‘squares’ of Presevo and street in my town are thronging. Small kids race round in electric cars without fear of (your) life or limb. The daytime peace in Bujanovac (if not market day – or the shattering noise of Roma motorised agricultural equipment) broken by the tooting horns of processions of cars for the traditional wedding cavalcade. The lively exotic sounding skilled Roma musicians are a feature of all weddings – brass band music is a Roma speciality. But brass, and saxophone and clarinets and accordion seem to feature in traditional Balkan music whether it is described as Serbian, Albanian or Roma. Who would have thought that the traditional music of the ‘Western Balkans’ sounds so much like ‘eastern’ enthused trad jazz. And then, with Hollywood style glitz are the High School pupils showing off gorgeous fashionable modern dresses and brat pack / rat pack sharp suits and shirts for their High School prom night at the end of a very unusual school year. The Macedonian (Albanian) ice cream sellers doing a roaring trade at night, and people strolling in the smaller and bigger towns, often visiting the traditional Montenegrin dessert shops (or a hereditary business of people originally from Prizren in Kosovo or from North Macedonia also).

Since writing the above I saw just one flock of sheep in the cooler evening near the village of Turija. And three storks on a nest perhaps feeding younger ones. And a second flock of sheep in the evening on the higher land on the southern western edge of the bigger town of Vranje. And the diaspora have returned in huge numbers from Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Belgium, Sweden, Italy and France. It has become a busy Summer. As I drive, walk or cycle around the towns and villages of the region, noticeable as I’m speaking English and don’t speak any languages of the region, (probably the only British resident, and only one from Liverpool) most people talk to me in German and are disappointed when I can’t speak to them. They are almost invariably welcoming and friendly nonetheless. By coincidence one British family do live in Gjilan / Gnjilane 30 miles away. The coffee shops and kafanas (taverns), restaurants and café bars and bars (and even nightclubs in Presevo) are buzzing and packed in the morning, evening and night. The cars and excessive traffic I will write about another time. Bang on cue, a wedding cavalcade goes past, a Roma wedding. And a peel of thunder rolls in over the hills. And an Albanian wedding cavalcade. And the rain has come. The second rain in two days. The rain has really come. It won’t dampen the spirits but is a welcome relief perhaps after a baking hot July.

Kiron Reid came to Serbia in June 2020 to work in south Serbia, next to North Macedonia. He lives in the small town of Bujanovac (sounds like Booyanovats), which is populated by Albanian, Serbian and Roma residents.

Notes observing May to July 2021. 27 June, 2 July, 18 July 2021.

With thanks to my friend Liam, who asked me to write (in May last year and afterwards) on my experience in Serbia. This post first appeared on Liam’s ecclectic & personal blog (published from Manchester, UK), ‘Falling leaves – anthropological musings‘ on 28 July this year. Published as ‘Notes from South Serbia by K’ 28 July 2021.

Letter of thanks to people on my first year in Serbia.

A letter of thanks to people for the warm welcome during my first year in Serbia.

Dear friends,

One year ago, and 6 weeks, in June, I came to Serbia to take up the position as head of the OSCE office in Bujanovac. I am writing this note to thank people for their warm welcome. From the border guard when I arrived at Belgrade airport on 5 June 2020, and when I came to Bujanovac on 10 June, nearly everyone I’ve met has been friendly and welcoming. In Bujanovac, Preševo and Medvedja, and elsewhere.

Because I came from the UK, in between the first waves of Corona, I have been here for most of the time throughout this strange year. It has meant it was slow for me to meet people officially and though I have met very many people over my first year there are still others that I have not met yet.

As the only British person, the only person from England, maybe the only foreigner, in Bujanovac and the other municipalities I am pleased that many people stop me to chat. Serbian, Roma and Albanian residents. Including those who are surprised to see me when I am cycling or driving or walking round the towns and villages. I regret there is no train or bus between Bujanovac and Preševo as I prefer to use public transport at home.

As I speak only English (I have a few words of Serbian and less Albanian) I must apologise that I cannot to talk to you in your own language(s) – or German which nearly everyone seems to speak. Even my local tailor is multilingual in several languages. South Serbia is very different to my home of Liverpool – especially the food and weather – but it is a nice place and people are friendly. The Albanian coffee is especially strong, the tea is strange or terrible (except the Russian or Turkish tea), the beer is certainly not like traditional British beer (nor are the fish & chips), and it’s a crying shame there are plenty of Chinese businesses but no Chinese food south of Niš. And no traditional British food like curry 😊.There is a lot of politics here (like in my home city), people all know more about football than me, waitresses and barmen alike, the traffic is crazy, and I hate the dumping and plastic waste and refuse that people strew around the beautiful countryside. The street sweepers in Bujanovac do a great job in all weathers – I see them. I always remind people that the positives are much better than the negatives. I am privileged to work with a great team here in your region and country.

With best wishes,

Kiron (the British guy / Liverpool Irish guy).

PS Though our weather in Liverpool is rather mild, I am enjoying this nice rain 😉.

First published on my Facebook account, 18 July.

A Burns Night whisky opening in Serbia.

Sixteen years after Peter Facey and Alex Runswick, of Unlock Democracy campaign group got me invited to a British Embassy Sofia, Burns Night party sponsored by Chivas Regal, I’ve finally been grown up enough to buy my own bottle. I’ve Two in fact, one on offer before New Year in Sainsbury’s in Liverpool and one on offer (good but not as good) in IDEA supermarket in Bujanovac, Serbia (geographically not that far from Sofia, mind the mountains). In fact the other Maxi supermarket had a better offer, but having finally spent my Nectar points on buying the bottle at home (Frances and I had a glass together over Zoom) I just managed to earn some supermarket loyalty card points here as well buy buying whisky. Leek & potato soup, brown bread and butter. Here’s to Rabbie Burns. I still probably prefer the Famous Grouse as a Scotch blend (I don’t have any decent Irish here) but Chivas Regal was very generous that night, and the Croat lads with us on the political workshop took care of the spare bottles. So I should contribute something back to sales.

The Burns Night traditions being promoted by UK Embassies around the World is one of the nice things that they do 🙂. Plus I have a book with great pictures and eccentric text on the North Coast of Scotland 500 route to read by an Englishman and a Welshman, Court & Jones. (Josh Court & Vernon W Jones, married to Macedonian wifes in nearby Skopje).

Lightly edited Facebook post from Bujanovac, south Serbia. 25 January. Additional explanation –

The reason a group of British Liberal Democrat and other political activists, and young(ish) political activists from across SE Europe were in Sofia was for a series of workshops on political policy making organised by Unlock Democracy and partners. The lavish Burns Night party was simply a coincidental highlight, the discussions on inclusive policy making was a great antitode to stereotypes meeting brilliant activists who wanted to make their countries better – from Bulgaria, Croatia, Serbia and Macedonia. The British South East Europe forum was sponsored by the British Council.

I liked Sofia and courtesy of my University returned the next year to do some academic research, and then using the Macedonian contact travelled on to Skopje, my first visit to a country where I later worked as an election observer, and now could almost see from my balcony as I am working only thirty kilometres north of the North Macedonia border.

New job working in Serbia.

On 6 June as travel restrictions were at that time eased I travelled to Belgrade to start a new job in Serbia, working for the international organisation the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe. This is what I am doing.

Municipal Co-ordinator at OSCE Mission to Serbia, covering the Municipalities of Presevo, Bujanovac and Medvedja in south Serbia, working with a team of local OSCE staff from a permanent office in Bujanovac. An international civil servant managing OSCE work in the field and liaising between local authorities, national bodies and the international community supportive of work in the south of Serbia. I am the seventh post holder building on a long track record of working with a wide range of local people and organisations to fulfil the shared values of stability, peace and democracy through practical work that aims to make a lasting difference.

(Wording of last sentence taken in part from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe website).

“The OSCE is a forum for political dialogue on a wide range of security issues and a platform for joint action to improve the lives of individuals and communities. The organization uses a comprehensive approach to security that encompasses the politico-military, economic and environmental, and human dimensions. Through this approach, and with its inclusive membership, the OSCE helps bridge differences and build trust between states by co-operating on conflict prevention, crisis management and post-conflict rehabilitation.”

The OSCE has 57 participating States in North America, Europe and Asia.

OSCE Mission to Serbia

“To help Serbia build strong, independent and effective democratic institutions, the Mission works with government institutions, civil society and the media.”
“The Mission to Serbia is an OSCE field operation based in the country’s capital Belgrade, with an office in Bujanovac in southern Serbia and a training centre in Novi Pazar in south-western Serbia. It is led by Ambassador Andrea Orizio of Italy and has a staff of 23 international and 104 local personnel.”

For completeness. Activity on social media, Facebook, Twitter, and my own website, is for personal or sometimes professional interest, including expressing my own personal political views, & does not imply a political statement on issues in Serbia or the Western Balkans on behalf of any organisation.

Capturing the Focke-Wulf factory.

Some Coronavirus time & VE Day 75 reading, shared previously with a few military history enthusiast friends. Originlly shared with Dr. Jon Clarkson and Bruce Hubbard, and radio producer friend Ashley Byrne.

Securing the Focke-Wulf factory.

Frances’s grandfather, Francis Carl Willmott, known as Billy, was always puzzled as to why he was mentioned in Dispatches for securing a telephone exchange near the end of the war, and promoted from Lieutentant to Captain Willmott.

Frances’ father wrote up his Dad’s wartime reminiscences in 2000. Recently he found that a German historian compiled more information about this action which sheds light on how it was a small strategic move. It’s quite a good story that you might like. I’ve attached a copy. 9 pages (6 text and 3 pictures). In a nutshell, Lt Willmott, his Sergeant, Cameron, driver / batman, Reed, and a Polish officer were attached from Signals to an RAF unit to secure the Focke-Wulf headquarters at Bad Eilsen which the RAF were to use as their HQ in Germany. Ahead of the British advance, but told the area was clear of German troops, it seems the small convoy went right in between two towns on the River Weser where the Americans were engaged in fierce fighting against stiff resistance. The plant they were to take control of was the Focke-Wulf design HQ, and the spurt caught the chief engineer, Kurt Tank, as well as securing the telephone exchange. The funny story about the Sgt and his Sten gun going off, is added to by a footnote in the pamphlet that is missed out in the attached extract and update. Footnote 34, added below.

Peter Tatchell’s campaigning anti-Nazi work gets a surprising mention at the end of the story.

The original 52 page pamphlet is here:

Though not in booklet form that might be more accessible. It’s a lengthy webpage. There is a rugby connection. At Catterick, Willmott found that his bunkmate was the tamous Welsh international rugby player, Haydn Tanner. Tanner features several times in the anecdotes, including giving Francis his nickname Billie. (I thought it was Billy and after some noted footballer of the time).

Referring to p. 38 of the original pamphlet and bottom of page 2 of the attached.
34. The Small Arms Training Pamphlet No.22 (1942), devoted to the Sten Machine Carbine as it was officially known, includes the following advice:
“If the working parts are forward [i.e. the weapon is cocked, ready to fire] with a full or partially full magazine in the magazine housing, a smart jerk may cause a round to be fired.”

Peter Tatchell’s article about tracing evil Buchenwald Concentration camp doctor Carl Vaernet is here:
Wikipedia explains to me that KZ means Concentration camp: Das Konzentrationslager Buchenwald (KZ Buchenwald).

Capt FC Willmott Bad Eilsen 8.4.1945.docx (1694 downloads )

75 years after World War Two ended and Britain lets its WW2 heritage fall into ruins.

Pill box by Garston Docks
Can you see it?
View of site of pillbox1
Can you see the pill box?
view of site of pillbox 2
Pill box by Garston Docks
A pill box at Allerton, south Liverpool.
Spring pill box. Not conserved it seems or explained but not derelict either.
A pill box at Allerton, south Liverpool. Google verson
Google improved this image and I quite like it.

VE Day is an appropriate day to come back to this. Last month I saw on Facebook pictures of a WW2 gun battery on the edge of Bristol I had never seen before. A spot I lived quite near, and have driven past many times but until the pictures of the derelict battery, next to the BT Tower, were posted by my friend, the former MP Stephen Williams, I’d never heard of it. I made my usual comment to a friend that in Britain our World War Two heritage is neglected but there is an appalling romanticism about World War 1.

I entirely agreed with a comment by a James Davies. These should be restored and used for education and to explain about history.

Our country had a whole appalling World War 1 nostalgia fest, much romanticising war, but our actual visible, existing World War 2 everyday heritage is almost totally ignored. I think this and am angry every time I see a pill box or gun emplacement (various posts on my website). They are very occasionally preserved, usually neglected, totally forgotten and often left decaying and crumbling. It is shocking that as the last men and women who remember the Second World War die that this built history will also be lost. It is lazy to always blame the authorities but in this case heritage and local authorities seem to not be bothered.

Here are a couple of photos of pill boxes local to me, in Allerton and along the River Mersey at Garston Docks by Cressington Park, to add to the others I’ve noted.

On a different note, I am not a Royalist, but am neither pro or anti the British Royal Family in Britain. The Queen is good for tourism and members of the family do much good public work. I like many of Charles’ political views and his campaigning on ecology. William and Kate are nice and I love cheeky Harry and have come to be a fan of Harry and Meghan. She’s pretty cool. I respect the Queen because of her experience and actions during the War, and I have to say I thought her Coranavirus crisis broadcast was almost spot on perfect. Just the right content, tone and mood for the nation. Her broadcast today, which I saw excerpts from on the BBC News, was again really good. I’ve never listened to a Queen’s speech but now twice in a few weeks I’ve been impressed and appreciated listening to Queen Elizabeth. (A good Irish name after all, the name of my Irish grandmother and my big sister).

Big money in US politics, Harry & Meghan, War footing to tackle Coronavirus, & a good musical.

Thoughts from early and mid-March 2020, written up later in the month. Posted 30 April 2020.

Including: The most controversial opinion of the Year – CATS is a Good movie and a decent musical.

A little more detail in the attached Word document.


Big money in US politics

The most educational thing about Michael Bloomberg quitting the race to be Democratic nominee for US President is the obscene amounts of money spent.
$500 million. Big money and guns are dual cancers in American politics. As I always say in Ukraine, imagine if those rich business people spent the money doing public works. Though it’s not like Russia using a whole state apparatus to do bad.

In solidarity with Harry & Meghan.

On January 9 I wrote: Watching ITV news at Ten, & reading the Daily Telegraph, the ‘Royal experts’ interviewed about Prince Harry & Meghan are a horrible nasty bunch of people, with maybe one exception. Only on a level with the Cabinet & current crop of Tory Farage MPs


Meghan & Harry I sympathise with though they’ve not been tactful with other members of the family. The establishment and right wing press has turned on them in nasty fashion, certainly the Daily Telegraph and the ‘Royal correspondents’ of TV and newspapers


Looking at the Daily Telegraph this morning what nasty horrible people attacking Harry. While on the ITV documentary last night, Sun photographer Arthur Edwards is such a nasty entitled embittered old man, & Sun editor Dan Wootton the smarmiest scumbag that you could invent.


13/01 I’ve been reading discussions about the controversial decision by Prince Harry and his wife Meghan to be less prominent members of the British Royal Family and spend more time in Canada. I am not pro or anti the monarchy, it is largely symbolic and good for tourism. I support Harry and Meghan in this because so much of our tabloid and right wing press that I hate are being nasty about them. [They also do much good campaigning and charity work.]


On the Sussexs. I find these titles hard to remember. Critics are sneering about the idea they will make money out of their title, I am sceptical but think it could be done well.


It will be good for the Commonwealth if Prince Harry and Meghan spend more time in Canada, while also returning to Britain and visiting other countries privately and in their public work. This will complement the great work that Prince William and Princess Kate, and Prince Charles do.


War footing to tackle Coronavirus.

20 March.  Finally the Government is moving on to a war footing, heard [Health Minister] Matt Hancock say something like that on radio just before. I’d come round to that just after the budget at the start of the week I think. That a total War footing like in World War 2 or World War 1 is needed to deal with the scale of this problem and the challenge to our society.


Doing things differently continuing afterwards. I agree with this point from my friend Johnny Santer:

I hope this wakes people up to the fact that the global system is broken beyond repair. The death-throes of late-stage capitalism. We need to regroup, rethink and put planet & people first. …

it highlights that IF we left everything to market forces etc the collapse of society would be a matter of weeks away. A major “reset” / rethink button has been pushed I hope and good things are to come as a result of introspection & global reflection.” 19 March 2020.


Another, a better, way of doing things is possible. The best of the response to this crisis has demonstrated that. Regardless of nationality, ideology, religion, race or age the virus targets everyone and we all need to work together.



10/01 Brexit is for me still a political, economic, philosophical and metaphysical disaster. What will happen no one knows.


People have this panic buying all wrong. It isn’t household goods & tins to buy. Is it only me? I’m obsessively buying Easter Eggs and beer on offer :-).

Half in jest only …

People have this panic buying all wrong. It isn’t household goods & tins to buy at the moment, it’s beer and chocolate. There are great offers on chocolate and beer. I can’t say I’m panic buying chocolate, but I am impulsively buying Easter Eggs on offer, & need to stay out of the Home Bargains, discount stores, garages etc. so as not to overdo chocolate and biscuits. Certainly before lock down there was no shortage of beer in the shops here and some great offers. Brewers & retailers need a boost with St Patrick’s party and many others cancelled. My plan later last week was then this week to see if can buy takeaway beer to help pubs and breweries, and food to help restaurants. I’m not sure how much that is still possible, some places still doing collection / delivery. I feel bad buying supermarket beer now. But I’ve been buying from supermarkets large & small, small shops, local shops, a brewery direct (Llangollen as we were there), the products of European, global, national traditional and some smaller producers, including stocks of alcohol free beer and wine. I even bought the on offer Corona in our local big ASDA. I thought the misunderstood Mexican brewery / giant conglomerates, could do with some support. Plus it was on offer, I don’t even particularly like Corona but will have some to celebrate in the garden when this is over :-).


[Mexican beer Brewed in the UK of course], like the Cobra – better for the environment perhaps and unlike most international brands of ‘Greek’ and ‘Ukrainian’ beer they don’t here claim they are British beers.

Points from: Campaign Against the Arms Trade email 24 March

Arms to ventilators?

Rolls Royce, which produces military aircraft engines, and aerospace companies like Airbus which profits from the sale of fighter jets to Saudi Arabia, have been called on by the UK government to help produce ventillators – showing change can come when the political will is there. The case for moving our engineering skills from industries that take lives to ones that save them has never been stronger.


Rethinking ‘security’

We can also see more than ever that our security is not advanced by wars, or by spending billions on nuclear weapons systems and aircraft carriers, but by building fairer societies that support the most vulnerable, and by investing in our public services.


The most controversial opinion of the Year – CATS is a Good movie and a decent musical.

Frances and I went to see the CATS screening at the Philharmonic Hall last night. Christmas present for me. It was great, very good. If some odd parts, very thin plot & patchy singing. Mostly very enjoyable. A great cast, though I only recognised five during the show. I recommend going to see it at the cinema if it is still on anywhere near you. Website-consolidated-posts-March-2020.doc (5321 downloads )

Catalan nationalists are wrong but crushing peaceful political dissent is not the answer.

I don’t sympathise with Catalan nationalists at all, and don’t buy all the ‘perfidious Spain’ nonsense. And it’s not Easter 1916. But on the day of the unofficial referendum I thought the heavy handedness (or rather the probably provoked filmed heavy handedness) of the national police would turn people over to the secessionists. Jailing democratically elected political leaders, forcing others into (self-imposed) exile for entirely peaceful political actions is not the way for a confident democratic State to behave. The extreme prison sentences of 14 October imposed on peaceful political leaders are making the same mistake that the British authorities made in Ireland in 1916 – short of killing people – overreacting and alienating the majority who did not sympathise with a minority of extremists or romantic (if violent) nationalists, instead relying on ridicule and horror to undermine the ‘radical’ cause. Though there was an actual war on and armed rebellion at that time, so the British failure to realise they were making a serious tactical error with public opinion was understandable. How the Spanish Supreme Court can think such sentences are justified for peaceful, political illegal acts, is flabbergasting.


Spanish nationalists are as bad as Catalan ones – many nationalists in Catalonia / Catalunya seem motivated only by financial self interest; and taking peace, democracy and quality of life for granted. Spanish nationalists promote intolerance and stifling conformity of thought, ferment nasty petty rivalries and stir hatred with hypocrisy. Their blinkered hatred of Gibraltarians’ self-determination reduces Spanish and Gibraltarian stability and economic prosperity when Spain and Britain, local and regional Spanish authorities and Gibraltar could all work together for the benefit of the whole region. Catalonians stirring secession should look at how disastrous for each statelet the break up of larger units in the last thirty years has been, the pain and suffering – personally, economically and culturally – that has occurred. This is no reason in principle for people not to have self-determination, but it is high high time to stop and be careful what you wish for, and to stop and think you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone. A mistake that a majority of voting British public have made in destroying a key basis of our country’s cultural, economic, security and environmental progress over the last forty years, because they – many of the public – have believed lies, blamed others for their misfortunes, and taken a good life for granted.


Spain and Britain, Catalonia, London and Madrid, Barcelona, Gibraltar, we’re all better when we work cooperatively together in a fair and non-exploitative way. Easier said than done perhaps but remember as people we all get on. Politicians and youth who stir difference and divides should remember that. And judges are sometimes advised to use commonsense and judicial discretion rather than following the letter of an unjust law.

Brexit EU passport insurance and Brexit refugees.

How many British citizens have applied for passports of other EU countries since the Brexit vote and how many have moved to other EU countries?

I asked these questions for this important information last year to the UK Government department responsible for making arrangements for Britain to leave the European Union. In response to my request of 25 August 2018 the Department for Exiting the European Union did not have the information requested.

I have just asked the questions again to see if our highly clueless department care any more now about this disruption, cost and inconvenience to British citizens who will lose their rights as EU citizens, than they did a year ago. I don’t blame the civil servants, I blame the political masters who have given them this thankless task. The following request for information has been submitted via the admirable WhatDoTheyKnow site. Many thanks to them for the public service in assisting open government.

Dear Department for Exiting the European Union,

Please tell me how many British citizens have applied for passports of other EU countries since the Brexit vote and how many have moved to other EU countries?

Further to my request in August last year. Your department presumably is responsible for considering the effect of Britain leaving the EU on British citizens. Last year you said that you did not hold information on UK citizens applying for passports of other European Union countries or moving to other EU countries.

This must be a hugely important side effect of the vote in the referendum. I would like to know now what monitoring is the UK Government doing on this issue and what steps the Department for Exiting the European Union is taking to evaluate this effect on British citizens?

Yours faithfully,

Kiron Reid

20 West Albert Road,