Open Letter to Lead Brexit Negotiators

Stephen Barclay MP and Geoffrey Cox QC MP

Also available as a PDF

Dear Sirs,

My name is Julian Glassford and I am a British multi-disciplinary researcher, and occasional political commentator, originally trained in economics and the social sciences. I am also one of those few who foretold of the Brexit linked crises that are now unfolding – around the time of the publication of the Phase 1 UK/EU Withdrawal Agreement report in 2017; alas, none of the news platforms I approached with the referenced (demonstrably) prophetic cautionary analysis could be persuaded to publish back then – and here we are now, at this interminable impasse, perhaps as a (partial) consequence.

I write today not to look back but to look forward, however. There is a way out: a compromise we can strike with the EU, and one that stands a chance of passing both UK and EU parliaments. That is, if we demonstrate a little creative flexibility, and really “stay the course” as we reach the final furlong.

I put it to you that the surest way to turn things around is to swiftly assume the following unwaveringly firm negotiating position if, as seems likely, the Prime Minister’s current draft deal does not gain parliamentary approval and is not ratified. This does rest on calling the EU’s bluff regarding reported immovability on the backstop but is achievable, in my humble estimation, and also the most politically and economically viable and sustainable posture to adopt, in the present circumstances:

HM Government should insist that, in withdrawing from the EU treaties, the United Kingdom shall maintain the right to quit the ‘single customs territory’ (Irish backstop) on a unilateral basis, albeit subject to a reasonable notice period. This provision should be guaranteed and binding on the EU at law, e.g. stipulated in the final draft Withdrawal Agreement or, if not, then in a concomitant co-signed text of comparable legal standing. It should entail a minimum notice period of not more than two years, which would essentially give it equivalence to the right the UK otherwise enjoys to withdraw from the customs union under Article 50.

Suffice to say, it is widely felt that the government cannot legitimately surrender the said right to withdraw under Article 50 only to sign up to a pact that may see the country locked into (subservient) EU institutional quasi-membership, or material alignment, for any longer than is the case under existing arrangements, and never mind indefinitely.

Your EU27 counterparts – if perhaps not certain intransigent bigwigs in Brussels – should by now fully appreciate why the above-indicated accommodation must surely be considered necessary. As such, I expect you will be able to persuade (a qualified majority of) your European colleagues to agree to it, in the interests of ensuring that we leave in an orderly fashion i.e. with a deal – and one that truly honours the single greatest democratic mandate in British history.

Thank you for your time and attention.

Yours sincerely,

Julian A. Gordon Glassford

Healthy Relationships: The Three C's

Balanced relationships are founded on care and compassion and hence a function of these three key elementary psychological behavioural ingredients:

Communication | If we don't communicate, how can we expect to understand/be understood? Most relationship problems relate to this area

Cooperation | Given satisfactory levels of communication, it is important to make reasonable efforts to mutually satisfy expressed needs

Compromise | Life, and love, are about 'the give and take', and it costs little, in essence, to make reasonable accommodations for the ones we love

EU deal is no steal

May’s rushed renegotiation was both tactical masterstroke & strategic suicide

The “Brexit breakthrough” triumphantly announced before Christmas is, on closer inspection, not nearly as fitting a compromise as many initially had it. Indeed, as some were heard to observe at the time, when counter-posed parties both appear to herald a great victory you can be sure that all is not quite as it seems.

Close to the 11th hour, the preliminary agreement placated fractious EU leaders, calmed the nerves of a manifestly “weak and wobbly” British Prime Minister, and finally provided the media and markets with something to spin in a positive way. Shame, then, that far from achieving clarity and consensus, Phase 1 talks have muddied the water and increased the likelihood of the process getting bogged down and grinding to a halt.

Yes, the joint UK-EU report skilfully sidestepped various sticking points, and ensured progress to Phase 2 of the Brexit negotiations, but sadly doesn’t bear scrutiny in cold light of day. In fact, it establishes essentially unworkable/incompatible commitments and principles that “must be upheld in all circumstances” and yet will need to be rapidly revisited or a constitutional crisis can be expected to follow.

Firstly, in continuing to grant newly arriving EU citizens various rights in the UK up until we formally withdraw, the parties have established a firm incentive for further waves of European migrants to head over before the drawbridge is pulled up in 2019. The inclusion of (future) family members in the extensions to this provision unfortunately only enhances this potentiality. Suffice to say, this is certainly not what the majority of Britons polled voted for during the EU referendum.

Instead, the date set should be the day that it became clear that we had voted to leave the EU (UK Independence Day, June 24th 2016). Failing that, at a push, the date it became clear that the process was going to happen as it formerly got underway i.e. the day we served notice of our intention to withdraw under Article 50 (March 29th 2017). No matter how the establishment media spin it, caving in to EU demands to shift that date well into the future could only ever be seen as a sell-out.

Immediately upon leaving we will have restored autonomy over immigration policy and should, therefore, be free to determine who retains rights of residency on our overcrowded isles. Naturally this ought to entail recognising, respecting, and protecting the life choices made, in good faith, by UK and EU citizens under prevailing political conditions. That is, up to the point at which it became clear that the UK would be leaving, and not beyond it.

Secondly, the UK’s guarantee to avoid a hard border in Northern Ireland is described as being an “overarching requirement”, giving effect to the belief that it is of primary importance e.g. over and above fulfilling the will of the people in respect of the referendum. Northern Irish freedom of movement appears now to have primacy over the collective constitutional destiny of the whole of the UK and can be used to put the brakes on Brexit. To say that such a glaringly democratically deficient proviso is unsatisfactory is an understatement.

Still worse, more specifically the government has committed to maintaining “full alignment” with the single market and Customs Union insofar as this is considered relevant to certain Irish and Northern Irish interests. This surprise undertaking is wide open to interpretation and, again, related obstacles to a meaningful break with the EU could well be insurmountable.

These commitments also appear to nullify a scenario in which we leave the Internal Market but retain truly independent access thereto (subject to negotiation). Hence, they tie our negotiators’ hands behind their backs at the critical next stage of talks, placing us firmly in “bad deal”-by-default territory. They also betray the spirit of the leave vote e.g. to #TakeControl of borders and trade policy, as well as fee monies, our laws, and legal system. We did not vote to leave the EU only to remain wedged half inside a small corner of it and arbitrarily “aligned” with its diktat, let alone to pay for the privilege!

Finally, the European Commission gaining the right to “intervene” (read: interfere) in cases before UK courts is not at all in keeping with the popular mandate either; nor too, our commitment to continue contributing (tens of £billions) to the EU annual budget, plus backing (very major) EU financial liabilities, way beyond the date of withdrawal (up to 2021).

In summary, in attempting to mitigate against the prospect of a ‘hard Brexit’ e.g. liable to prove inflammatory on the island of Ireland, paradoxically the deal effectively militates against a ‘soft Brexit’, enhancing the prospect of the UK bombing out as a whole. That is, if the PM’s firm affirmation that “no deal is better than a bad deal” is to be believed. Regrettably, the compulsory and yet apparently contradictory nature of key commitments in the report will surely be its undoing, and probably also that of at least one political leader, if not an entire government.

Still, out of the embers a phoenix may yet rise and, as self-congratulatory officials keep reminding us, “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed”. We must hope that a rebooted British cabinet will act swiftly, and ideally discretely, to correct this apparently self-defeating act of capitulation on two flanks. Our leaders must be responsible enough to unite and get on with the serious business of preparing for a prospective clean break (while there’s still time); canny enough to have spotted the growing desperation on display among senior EU officials in early December; and brave enough to call their bluff the next time they try to run rings round us.

10 Qualities of the Strong-minded

  1. Stay in touch with your emotions
  2. Problem solve and be pragmatic
  3. Strive to fulfil your purpose
  4. Practice realistic optimism
  5. Practice self-compassion
  6. Seek to be your best self
  7. Set healthy boundaries
  8. Communicate candidly
  9. Manage time wisely
  10. Monitor progress

Electromagnetic Fields (EMFs) and Radiation (RF EMR) vs. Western infertility epidemic

Mass infertility: a sign of the times?

Dramatic decline in male fertility may be a product of modernity

As published on the health and wellness ideas and information portal: Natural Blaze

Modern living can be a real drag, particularly if you’re a sperm cell it seems. In July came news of the publication of a scientific review that appeared to confirm the suspicions of many a soothsayer down the ages. Verily, the seed of human existence looks to be drying up.
According to study authors at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, sperm counts and concentration figures in the West have halved since the early 70s, and continue to fall at an alarming rate. Might the baron dystopia of intergenerational fruitlessness, foretold by many a cackling witch down the ages, indeed be just around the corner?

As the news broke, Edinburgh University’s Professor Richard Sharpe was on hand to reassure us that “the end of humanity is not approaching”. Alas, those of the Sir David Attenborough (“we are a plague on earth”) school, quick to cheer the report, may have been a little premature in rejoicing. A substantially depopulated planet may not, in fact, be right around the corner and mankind’s fate is far from sealed.

Rather disconcertingly, however, the professor added: “we have no idea about what is the cause of the condition” and “we cannot remedy it”. Knowledge of male fertility problems does remain patchy on the whole; but this is not to say we have no clue as to what’s going on, far from it. Whilst some in the field may still be firing blanks, others feel that they have already reached satisfactory conclusions.

There exists a significant, growing body of robust research we may look to for signs of credible causes. In truth, one doesn’t have to be a reproductive health expert to fathom, then, what may at least partially underlie the recent decline in male fertility.

Whatever select specialists may be willing to venture, on the record, about what they know, or how convincing they find the existing evidence, the picture that emerges from the literature is pretty clear. Contrary to the dismissive pronouncements of certain on-message establishment figures (who shan’t be named), in reality we are unlikely to have to wait another generation to be in a position to pinpoint some of the main culprits. Better still, the prime suspect is close at hand, and we have it in our grasp to do something about it.

As it happens, the elephant in the room is actually in your pocket. That’s right guys, we’ve more than likely done this to ourselves. Irradiating intimate areas with radiofrequency (or ‘wireless’) transmission devices – like mobile phones, tablets, and laptops – has been repeatedly shown to be bad news for delicate reproductive cells and anatomy. Turns out microwaving your balls may be harmful. Who’d have known?

According to Dr. Joel Moskowitz of the University of California, Berkeley, “we have considerable evidence that cell phone radiation damages sperm and is associated with male infertility”. The Director of the Center for Family and Community Health at Berkley’s School of Public Health has further cautioned in recent months that it appears female fertility may also be adversely affected.

The link is consistent with the observation that Western men are the only major demographic group known to have experienced such a stark transformation. Of course, this could well be a function of other shifting cultural phenomena but it’s becoming increasingly difficult to discount the possibility that early adoption of wireless consumer tech has played a role. Any which way you look at it, growing male infertility in the West is plausibly the very definition of a ‘modern disease’.

Besides recent replicated study findings linking radiofrequency radiation (RFR) exposure to impaired male fertility, scientists have known for decades that even relatively low power intensity microwaves can disturb finely tuned, sensitive biological systems in sometimes subtle and insidious ways.

This is not, however, to say that RFR represents the primary determinant of the emergent fertility crisis, or indeed that biomedical science is close to having the precise role of any lifestyle-linked risk factor all sewn up.

Clearly, there remains plenty of further investigative research to be done in this most sensitive of areas, and a number of other contemporary thematics must also be borne in mind. These include a role for: stress, diet, body weight, temperature of the testes, and both voluntary behavioural and involuntary environmental exposure to endocrine disruptors (e.g. pharmaceuticals, drugs, alcohol, and other chemical pollutants).

For many, the jury’s still out on the effects of RFR, but few by now can deny the rationale for a precautionary approach, in view of the emerging evidence. If we act now, both as individuals and as a society, then countless couples may be spared the ordeal of having to pursue invasive, by no means guaranteed, and increasingly restricted assisted reproductive treatments in the future. All that’s required is that we’re willing to accept the mother of all inconvenient truths: that the gizmos and gadgets we’re all glued to may not just prove a barrier to truly living life in the present but also get in the way of life (rather less figuratively) going forward.

Publication News: ME/CFS Biomedical Science Article

Thank you

A huge thank you to all who helped support and inform my integrative health research concerning Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) over the past 5 years. This work culminated in the publication of the following Frontiers in Integrative Physiology journal article last month:

The Neuroinflammatory Etiopathology of ME/CFS

Web: https://doi.org/10.3389/fphys.2017.00088
Pubmed: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5314655
PDF: http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fphys.2017.00088/pdf

Thanks also to

Professors | Olle Johansson, Garth Nicolson, Peter Rowe
Doctors | Alan Hakim, Richard Horowitz, Joel Moskowitz
ME/CFS organisations | Action for ME, CMRC, ME Association, Solve ME/CFS Initiative
Other organisations | AAEM, Chronic Pain Ireland, EMF Analysis, Radiation Research Trust

Pills Pills Pills: Over-Medicating, Depression, and Heart Ache

It's not every day that integrative health practitioners, independent of industry interests, are vindicated in urging the application of the precautionary principle by mainstream health research, but today is just such a day!

1. A large scale epidemiological study has revealed that the birth control pill* is associated with a doubling of the risk of depressive mental health problems

2. Another study illustrates one of a number of nascent harms associated with long-term administration of pain medication (in this case ibuprofen**)

* Caused long-lasting hypertensive dysautonomia and a series of highly painful and disruptive ovarian cysts, in the experience of a friend of mine

** Responsible for abdominal inflammation/convulsions in my case (and known to irritate the gut)

Metabolic Biomarkers for ME/CFS: A New Test?

Robert Naviaux et al. have published new evidence of metabolite abnormalities somewhat specific to ME/CFS, indicating that we may soon have a - to date, lacking, and much needed - diagnostic biomarker for the disease vs. the laborious existing objective diagnostic: VO2 max repeat exercise tests

Consistent with my own integrative pathophysiological research/guidance, their data suggest that the condition centres on a common (maladaptive) systemic response to trauma (of varying kinds), rather than differential presentation of an illness stemming from a particular stressor

The aberration profile itself is said to resemble hibernation activity, arguably tantamount to organismic survival behaviour i.e. autonomic responses to systemic physiological threats such as malnutrition, dehydration, and hypoxia. Again, this conception is consistent with my review of the contemporary literature

Related article: The Economist

Bouncing Back from a Break-up / Moving On from a Relationship

Engage emotionally | Let yourself grieve the loss of the partner/relationship. This is only natural vs. unnatural to repress it

Acceptance | If it's ended then it's likely because you are not 'supposed to be together' e.g. at least one of you isn't right for the other

Forgive and forget | Not always possible but almost always healthy to use the experience as an opportunity to show dignity/humanity

No contact rule | Depending on the nature of breakup, it's often a good idea to give them/yourself some space, for a while at least

Out of sight, out of mind | Depending on how emotionally vulnerable/insecure one is, it can be helpful to remove all traces of one's ex

Watch out for manipulation | Human nature being as it is, it's rare for young people to make a totally clean break. Don't get sucked into games

Avoid revenge mentality | Apart from anything else this is a total waste of energy and you risk losing the moral high ground if things get petty

Listen to your gut | Also listen to reason e.g. consider patterns of behaviour over time, rather than just salient events/your own insecurities

Staying friends | See above comments - few can hack it but in certain circumstances it can actually be healthy/helpful to stay on friendly terms

Be around people | Also busy yourself, and do reach out to dependable friends and family who can support you as you bounce back

Time heals all | What seems like the end of the world one week can be just a drop in the ocean the next. Life goes on

Avoid alcohol/substance abuse | This is unlikely to bring you either physical or psychological stability, which is just what you need!

Explore new connections | When you're ready (not if you're still full of angst/in a beta or 'victim complex' mindset)

UK Sugar Tax

A new levy is set to come into force in the UK in 2018 on ‘soft drinks' that are not pure fruit or milk-based and contain concentrations of sugar >5g/100ml e.g. fizzy/carbonated drinks in particular

The policy announcement comes in response to related interventions by senior health care professionals/public figures, and is pitched at helping to combat major, life threatening public health issues linked to sugar consumption e.g. obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer's

Improving child health and vitality is the primary objective of the initiative and, in England, proceeds from the tax are to be invested in increasing sporting participation at primary schools

Laudable as the aims may be, unfortunately the paternalistic measure has come in for a lot of criticism, for example concerning the fact that:

UK Plastic Bag Levy

This is a subject close to my heart as someone who cares a great deal about the environment, and has studied the economics of the environment and centred his undergraduate Economics degree dissertation on the topic of Green Behaviour and Behavioural Change'

My sense is that whilst the policy may initially strike many Englishmen as being somewhat of a paternalistic nuisance, and the levy may seem relatively insignificant in pecuniary terms, this policy is the right move; the effect has been generally positive in terms of normative and behavioural change in the rest of the UK - where levies have already been introduced (e.g. 72% reduction in plastic bag usage in Wales in the past 4 years) thanks, presumably, to both direct (financial disincentive) and indirect (market signalling, nudge) effects

What I would like to see is the levy imposed across the spectrum (not just to larger retailers) and increased (from 5p to perhaps 10p/20p), and at least a proportion of it go to environmental causes e.g. green behaviour change initiatives in particular. I would also like to see action taken Europe-wide, and in TROTW - in time, as the problem of plastic pollution e.g. of the oceans, is of course - like so many of the environmental challenges we face today - a global one

ME/CFS and The Location Effect

ME/CFS is a neurological disorder that appears to have become increasingly prevalent in the West over recent generations and is associated with idiopathic neural sensitivity. Increasingly, patients report sensitivities to atmospheric pollutants vs. an improvement in their health when they move to certain (relatively remote, and damp/fungi free) coastal, arid, or high altitude locations: ‘The Location Effect'. Perrin Technique also suggests that ME/CFS often involves a degree of lymphatic drainage dysfunction, which has ramifications for effective toxin clearance from the body - a problem that can be addressed by way of manual lymphatic drainage

Such improvements likely do relate to mitigating exposure of sensitive areas of the central nervous system (CNS) to e.g. (possibly interacting) fungal biological/anthropogenic chemical neuroimmune stimulative (myco)toxins

New name/diagnostic for ME/CFS: SEID

New criteria for Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) were outlined earlier this year, when The Institute of Medicine (IOM) - an independent US health think tank - presented a comprehensive report on the condition, also recommending that it be renamed: Systemic Exertion Intolerance Disease (SEID)

Under the proposed criteria, at least 4 of the following 5 core symptoms (edited for brevity) must apply in order for one to receive a positive diagnosis:

◦ Fatigue + reduction in activity *
Post exertional malaise (PEM)**
Unrefreshing sleep

Cognitive impairment OR
Orthostatic intolerance (OI) ***

* Substantial and persisting for over 6 months, not the result of ongoing excessive exertion, and not substantially alleviated by rest
** A worsening of some symptoms e.g. typically including pain/fatigue, in the 12-48+ hours following exertion
*** Irregularities in blood pressure/heart rate regulation, associated with being upright and stationary, and in the context of low blood volume

This is an interesting, long overdue development in a sensitive/somewhat controversial area (diagnosis/nomenclature) relating to a sensitive/somewhat controversial topic (an ‘invisible illness' about which there has historically been much ‘confusion' in the media/medical profession)

The focus on the objectively demonstrated physiological dysfunction (PEM) that is essentially unique to this condition is welcome, insofar as it helps to underline the fact that it is a very real, and disruptive, disease, and to differentiate it from chronic fatigue more broadly, as well as other illnesses (e.g. depressive/sleep disorders), which may bear similarities to ME/CFS but ought not to be confused with it

Contrarily, it is perhaps unhelpful insofar as it does not explicitly incorporate the core pathology of the disease which is, fairly irrefutably, inflammation of the central nervous system

Link: ME Association Article

Self-worth vs. Self-esteem

Self-esteem is essentially about capacity, whereas self-worth is about value. Self-esteem is, fundamentally, therefore of little use in the absence of self-worth. This is why the pursuit of self-esteem can be premature and yield short-lived, superficial results

Self-love, or an internal recognition of one’s value, should ideally be anchored in an innate sense of oneself as valuable and lovable; it is not enough that it be predicated merely on being ‘good’ at this or that, or ‘favoured’ by this or that individual or group e.g. in recognition of our efforts/abilities in particular areas

We absolutely are, in a moral sense, ostensibly ‘the sum of our actions’; however, whilst this is how we may define our moral identity, this is but one component of our essential being. Stong, sustainable self-worth reflects a deeper/broader knowledge of oneself that may centre on an appreciation of our core psychology, and related values e.g. one’s ‘character’, but is not limited to our conduct or achievements e.g. within the domain of moral behaviour

In focusing too heavily on self-esteem boosting endeavours one can place too much emphasis on building self-acceptance in relation to tokenistic, transient, external factors, indulge vices like pride/egotism, and indeed miss out on opportunities to bolster self-worth through introspection e.g. relating to contemplating upstream processes such as "I am interested in self-improvement, therefore I am an admirable soul"

Every human being out there has value, and all have the capacity to love themselves – we need to rediscover the sort of simple, infantile sense of unconditional love and security that we associate with early years maternal love/support and imprint it in the ‘parental voice’ of our psyches: "I am valuable, I am worthy of love"

Let yourself begin to believe - you were created with unique, intrinsic value!

Link: How To Build Self Worth

Good News for ME!

In it's phase 2 trial in Norway, the anti cancer drug Rituximab appears to have delivered markedly positive outcomes in as many as two thirds of cases. This offers hope both those of us who have the enigmatic, and to-date incurable, neurological condition ME/CFS (aka ‘M.E.', ‘CFS', ‘SEID'). It also further underscores the belief held by researchers such as myself that the condition may be linked to insidious self-harming effects of certain immune agents (B-lymphocytes and their CNS glial equivalents)

Having said all of that, trials elsewhere are not all finding the drug to be terribly effective, particularly once maintenance doses are stopped

Link: ME Association news item

The New Star Begins to Shine

Having created this website almost exactly a year ago I have to admit that I have rather neglected the blog/digital media side of things - having concentrated my attention and energies elsewhere, including contending with a degree of upheaval in my personal life. So, from now on, I intend to redress this imbalance by making a concerted effort to share various (hopefully relatively snappy) insights that benefit both myself and my clients, as well as the odd related anecdote!

Main categories:

Psychology/Relationships
Health & Wellness
Environment
Website
News
Misc