An election approaches in Britain.

The US looks back at its own choices.

Politics and opinions fill papers and posts and ears, some articulate, others mere slogans and gritted teeth. No matter, voters make up their own minds and are entitled to their own perspective.

Regardless of where they live.

A disturbing grumble popped up this week via various sources.

  1. “You don’t live here so shut up.”
  2. “Expats think they are so superior.”
  3. “Why should people living abroad tell us what to do?”

I have a view on every one of these questions, as a tax-paying, voluntary National Insurance contributor, with some family members dependent on the NHS/Social Services and an emotional investment in the country of my birth.

But this is not about me.

Nor is it about the bias peddled by the media.

I want to know why some of the most articulate and passionate perspectives on America I’ve read come from people living in Europe. British foreign and domestic policy is subjected to the sharpest analysis from intelligent minds in Romania, Sweden, Canada, Germany and Scotland.

So here are a few questions:

  1. If someone no longer lives in her/his home country, does that negate that person’s opinion on domestic politics?
  2. Is political opinion the exclusive domain of those who live under its effects?
  3. Should a person committed to living in another country apply for voting rights there and leave the homeland to itself?
  4. Do expatriates have stronger views on how a government might improve having seen other more/less effective examples?
  5. What kind of parallels are there between immigrants and emigrants? Why is there a resentment of both incomers and outgoers?

I’m really curious to hear your thoughts.

Next week, I’ll be back to boring you about my books.





Tomorrow, the UK votes on whether to leave the European Union. A non-resident for over ten years, perhaps I should keep my trap shut. Or… not.

I live in Switzerland, I read and listen to a broad range of opinion and I care deeply about my continent. And I’m voting to stay.

I believe in unity and how collective power achieves more than the individual. That’s why I think Britain should stick with the EU and effect change from within. My arguments, please note, are based on the positives (well, ok, the last one is arguable). But fear-mongering paranoia merchants should be discounted from the first time they mention ‘The War’.


Reasons to Vote Stay


Diplomacy, negotiation and compromise will never make for dramatic Hollywood fodder. It’s hard work and often pretty tedious. However, sitting around a table beats bombing each other into the ground.

“The EU has helped secure peace among previously warring western European nations. It helped to consolidate democracy in Spain, Portugal, Greece and former Soviet bloc countries and helped preserve peace in the Balkans since the end of the Balkans War. With the UN it now plays a leading role in conflict prevention, peacekeeping and democracy building.” ProEuropa

Power on the International Stage

The heft of the EU is far for influential than a bunch of disparate states. The collective might and unified will of 28 countries can withstand attempts to destabilise and divide its members.

“Post-Brexit, Britain would find it harder to keep close foreign-policy and security links with the EU, not least because it would no longer be in the room. There is a broader geopolitical point, too. Partly because its foreign-policy role has grown, the EU has become a key piece of the West’s defence and security architecture. Brexit would weaken the EU—and so the West.” The Economist

Power against Corporate Might

Britain’s submission to big business has been thus far held in check by European directives. Tax avoidance, minimum wages, working conditions in adherence to Human Rights Laws can only be battled by a unified power.

“Multinationals are becoming ever more devious in trying to control our lives…just look at all the fines the likes of Microsoft, Google, banks and others have had to pay out to the EU and others. This can only be effectively done if these organisations are policed and controlled by larger organisations such as the EU. Britain on its own will find it hard to fight its corner in the face of ever more powerful multinational organisations.” SayYesToEurope


Freedom of Movement

This means in and out and is NOT the same as immigration. Our doctors, your granny’s flat in Marbella and the ebb and flow of an international workforce which supports the country’s services. “These are the rights that, reciprocally across countries, allow people to send their children abroad to study, shop internationally with consumer protection, buy houses in sunnier climes, retire and collect pensions, get emergency medical treatment, marry and have normal family life and social benefits with a foreign European spouse, and countless other shorter and longer term cross-border mobilities.” London School of Economics

Media muscle

This quote from Anthony Hilton in the Evening Standard will suffice.

I once asked Rupert Murdoch why he was so opposed to the European Union. ‘That’s easy,’ he replied. ‘When I go into Downing Street they do what I say; when I go to Brussels they take no notice.’

Self-interested A-holes

Boris, Farage and Trump support Brexit. Need I say more? DonaldDick


And finally here’s The Clash, just because they’re The Clash.


A writing retreat – leave the daily grind behind, spend your days learning and discussing with fellow writers, soak up the scenery and let your imagination out to play.

Here’s a collection of some superb writing events happening in beautiful locations. All offer expert writing tuition, an opportunity to cast off responsibility and a guaranteed creative shot in the arm.


A Chapter Away (Gascony, France) Courses available June and July

Do you wish you could escape from your everyday life to write?
A Chapter Away is a great place to start, or to continue, your incredible journey as a writer. Whether your ambition is to leave a private MEMOIR for your family, to bring together an anthology of POETRY for a loved one, or to publish a NOVEL for millions of readers the world over to discover, our courses offer you ‘time out’ and the expertise to set you on the right path, with the help of other writers, poets, publishers and literary agents.


Photo by JJ Marsh

WriteCon16 (Zürich, Switzerland) – 21 May

WriteCon16 is all about making it happen. Hands-on and practical. Whichever event you choose, you’ll walk away with concrete, tailored advice from the experts. Right in the heart of the city so while your head is buzzing with ideas, you can explore the sights or simply sit by the lake and stare at the mountains.

  • How to Publish a Book, with Jessica Bell
  • How to Market a Book, with Helen Lewis
Photo by Libby O'Loghlin

Photo by Libby O’Loghlin

TLC Adventures (Andalucia, Spain) 10-16 September

TLC Literary Adventures offers an environment where inspiration and improvisation meet, in the company of some of our best-known writers. You will have access to world-class teaching, get a chance to work, read, listen, learn and relax in a stunning setting which will open the mind and senses.

Ty Newydd (Wales, UK) Courses available year round

 Specialises in residential creative writing courses. Every week a new group of individuals spend time together under the tutelage of professional writers, taking part in workshops and one-to-one tutorials, enjoying readings and basking in the inspirational setting of Tŷ Newydd. Participants also help in the kitchen, where home-made meals are prepared with local ingredients.

summer retreats ty newydd richard outram

Photo by Richard Outram

L’Atelier Writers (Villeferry, France). 5-10 June

A fantastic experience of sublime French food, camaraderie, craft, and inspirational productivity. The space provides privacy for writing and also comfortable common areas with verandas, gardens, libraries, and a reserved meeting space for L’ATELIER workshops, meals, editing consultations, and seminars. Full room and board is included, but access to a kitchenette allows guests even more flexibility.

Venice Writing Retreat (Venice, Italy) 12-15 September

With Roz Morris and Words of a Feather, this course is for committed writers who want to hone their self-editing skills, breathe life into an abandoned manuscript, assess a first draft, give a book a professional MOT before approaching agents/self-publishing and enjoy the delights of Venice.

Photo by think rorbot

Photo by think rorbot

La Poterie Writers (Loire Valley, France) 23-30 June

The best of “retreat”& “workshop”: rigorous group discussion of your manuscript, sessions on writing craft & publishing, ample daily solitude, one-on-one conferences, local excursions, and gourmet meals — all in an inspiring setting.

Skyros Writing Holidays (Skyros, Greece) Courses available all summer

If you’re a creative and active person, in Skyros you’ll have the opportunity to explore your talents, learn something new, expand the range of your interests and bask in the joys and pleasures of it. Holiday activities and courses are always pleasant and enjoyable, fun to attend. If you prefer, of course, you can just relax, unwind, share a drink with like-minded people and enjoy nature at its best.

The Skyros holiday resorts are community-based. The community – informal, friendly and relaxed – thrives on diversity but it also brings people together in a way daily life rarely does. Enjoy the freedom to be who you really are.


Photo by JJ Marsh

Writing at the Castle (SW France) 2-8 July

Principally for writers of fiction who have a manuscript in preparation or completed and would like to benefit from workshops and one-to-one support towards publication.  It is an opportunity to connect with other writers, get practical insights, tips and contacts and learn new skills. We will also cover the process of selecting, commissioning and publishing manuscripts through the traditional literary agent/publisher route and through self-publishing.

Write Time Retreats (Switzerland) 21-27 May

  • 6 nights’ accommodation in the Hornberg Hotel
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner (including vegetarian options, drinks not included)
  • Full use of the hotel facilities, including seminar rooms, swimming pool and saunas
  • 5 Creative writing workshops (including a workshop with guest writer)
  • 5 Editorial meetings
  • 5 Literary Salons
  • 45 minute, one-to-one, personalized consultation with tutor
swiss view

Photo by JD Lewis