Brexit: A Samoan perspective
In a recent conversation with a business colleague who lives and breaths the air of corporate London, he spoke with characteristically English - confidence of life and the future in the island.
He is from an island race which has had an incredible history of survival; and not long ago, this island state ruled half of the world.
The British Empire is our connection with these island folks, affectionately referred to as the Poms, the Scots, the Irish and the Welsh. Remember John William the missionary who brought the Christian faith to Samoa. And the great man, Robert Louis Stevenson.
Then there were the British settlers and their descendants together with their German, French, Dutch, Swedish peers made many meaningful contributions to the modernisation of this country.
Many of us would remember waking up from a night sleep to the distinct sound of the BBC world news on Radio 2AP.
Our British connection remains intact in spite of Brexit: the management of Inter-governmental relations continues through the exercise of the Geneva Convention in bi-lateral diplomacy; technical, economic, political, spiritual ties in the Commonwealth; and our sporting rivalries in Rugby Union, stand out in sports.
I lived and worked in Brussels, Belgium for over three years; and at the time, the collapse of the Soviet Union ushered in radical changes in official attitudes and behaviours of the European peoples.
It was a watershed development that distilled the turbulent, deadly and chaotic past developments that were carried out by participants in the ideological contest between Communism and Capitalism.
In the cold war period, the said ideological confrontation was the focus of the West and East Relations: peace, stability, trade, economic cooperation to name a few and these disciplines head- lined all kinds of diplomatic, political, economic initatives, the latter is exemplified by developmental programs funded from bilateral and multi-lateral sources in these camps. The agendas for the Defence and the Security Communities were shaped by military exercises and maneuvers of the West vs East: these were responses to the challenges of a bi-polar world dominated by the presence of nuclear weapons in their arsenals.
At the time, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher supported by her Cabinet and the Conservative Party introduced a system of political thought that in action allowed government grants and technical support to middle level businesses with capital of £250,000-£5,000,000 to grow. These enterprises were in the thousands and with their success come government revenue through tax plus the creation of new jobs.
The centre-piece of Prime Minister Thatcher government’s reforms lies in the mainstreaming of Free Market economics and family values in policy; and the rejection of state-ownership of public enterprise.
With the art of diplomacy, the government of PM Margaret Thatcher collaborated with the Administration of President Ronald Reagan of the United States in advocating the spread of free market economies around the world.
The theories of the Austrian economist Fredrich Hayeks and the American economist Milton Freidman provide the intellectual muscles for the governments of Thatcher and Reagan.
One activity, known as the privatisation program designed to win over governments to market economies was accepted in Western Samoa under the Vaai-Tupua Tamasese Coalition and the Tofilau-Tuilaepa HRRP administrations. The Samoan government sold its shares in the Bank of Western Samoa; Vailima Brewery and other companies.
The flow of official and private capital among nations in particular the wealth of the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) and the Oil producing countries were widely reported in the Press. FRG invested millions of DM in US government bonds.
Later FRG withdrew its investment after the collapse of the Berlin Wall.
The financial Institutions in London were developing a strong presence in capital markets.
The Chinese are now the no 1 investor in the US government bonds; and the billion of dollars from the Saudi and other Arab countries increase the flow of private and official capital in the global economy.
Socialism was the political doctrine for Labour in the UK. Industrial actions and unrest characterised the pre Thatcherism era. Decades before, the UK Government under Prime Minister Wilson went through trying times to get IMF intervention in the British economy but now Thatcherism brought promise and new confidence in British industries coupled by the existence of a new pool of entrepreneurs to grow the economy.
Against that background, the question: Is Brexit a historical offshoot of Thatcherism? Or is there a connection in these epic developments based on old fashioned nationalism?
Thatcherism gave rise to the triumph of ideas of family values and freedom to take ownership of destiny over the ideas in support of a central planning bureaucracy for governmental activities. The Brexit supporters have wanted an end to central planning and remote control by the European Community of things British.
Like the occurrences in Thatcherism, Brexit demonstrates a people’s desire for independence to shape their destiny.
The latter is well supported by the spoils of yester years. The market places for British goods were discovered in the days of the Empire.
On the world scene, the UK businesses were operating in all regions of the globe. Great Britain had business interests in countries that front the Malaca Strait in Asia. The British Empire never sets in Asia where it counts. The same could be said in the middle east.
On the capital markets, the situation created by Brexit is cushioned by the structures and experiences bequeathed from the days of Thatcherism.
The Bank of England and other business houses for instance are powerhouses in the world capital markets. Moreover, with Brexit the unique role of the Monarch as Head of State of the United Kingdom guarantee the protection of British interests and nationhood in the global community.