Today’s meeting started at 1030 a.m. with Chairman Richard Wright advising of three apologies. As it was Shrove Tuesday Chairman Richard had two anecdotes about pancakes, the second story highlighting the alleged growth properties that a diet of pancakes can give.
Secretary Neil Ramshaw gave the first call for the April 28th A.G.M. advising of the three vacancies that need to be filled namely Vice Chairman, Second Vice Chairman and particularly Programme Secretary.
Today saw popular returning Speaker Mr David Davies bring his talk ” The Awkward Neighbours: Britain’s Relationship with Europe Since 1945″. This proved to be a fascinating and well structured potted history of the major events and personalities that imprinted that time period starting with the Yalta Conference in 1945. David outlined the position that Great Britain, Europe, the U.S.A. and Russia were facing post World War II and some of the key decisions taken by the “Big Three”, Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin. These included the division of Germany, creation of the United Nations and the need to rebuild France and give it a position on the U.N. Security Council. Britain’s powers were on the wane exhausted financially and economically by World War II. We heard about Jean Monnet, Father of the European Union; the Congress of Europe in 1948 which led to the Council of Europe, the European Court of Human Rights and the European Court of Justice. Ernest Bevin’s pivotal role as Foreign Secretary was discussed and the 1948/49 Berlin Airlift recalled. The Marshall Aid Plan of 1948–52 was covered and its impact and costs. N.A.T.O’s formation in 1949 and its aims were scrutinised. The Schuman Plan of 1950 saw the genesis of the European Coal and Steel Community–the E.E.C. forerunner.
Other key events mentioned were the Korean War 1950/53; Great Britain going nuclear in 1952 and the volatility of Stalin’s successor Krushchev. Britain’s torturous progress from staying out of Europe initially, to wanting to join in the 1960’s and being twice vetoed by De Gaulle, to eventually entry in 1973, led by Heath, and subsequent referendums in 1975 and 2016 received an airing with similar unresolved arguments being propounded by both sides over a sixty year period. Analysis of G.P.D’s, Defence Costs and their impacts were mentioned by David and the various Treaties that federalised the European Community e.g. 1988 Treaty of Bruges.
Up to date issues such as European Budgets and the ongoing Refugee Crisis explained some of the current tensions being experienced on the continent.
An interested and engaged audience had obviously enjoyed the morning which, for many, reflected the period of their own lifetime and questions were taken at the talk’s conclusion.
The Vote of Thanks on behalf of the thirty five attendees was given by Vice Chairman Peter Wilson.
NEIL RAMSHAW SECRETARY.