Tuesday, 21 June 2016


Not long now before we know

There is a national Referendum to be held in the United Kingdom in a couple of days' time The question is simple. Does the country wish to leave the European Union, or stay? A simple majority will decide this question, one way or the other.

All sort of issues around this question have been discussed over the last few weeks, of varying degrees of relevance. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Conductive Education has not featured in the national discussion, whether as a topic or as a contributor.

Doubtless, however. many involved with Conductive Education, in all sorts of capacities, will have turned their minds or even their efforts to the implications that leaving or staying may have for the status quo that has evolved over the years in which the UK and Hungary have been fellow members of the EU.

There has doubtless been considerable, sensible thought and discussion, with even specific contingency arrangements examined, by those who wish to be prudent about what the accountants call 'sensitivities', but none of this has strayed into the public domain.

Free movement of labour

'Europe', however defined, has played little substantive role in Conductive Education in the the United Kingdom over the years. Correspondingly, the UK has played little substantive role in CE in Europe. In general terms, therefore, a leave or a stay result will have little to effect either way – except in one respect: the labour supply.

It remains a fact, despite all the hard work to establish and even maintain a few, small conductor-training courses outside Hungary over the years, that the overwhelming source of conductors worldwide has remained the Pető Institute (since recently the Pető College). Whatever happens in the rest of the world, the employment of Hungarian conductors in the UK has been vastly facilitated by the EU's principle of the free movement of labour.

The rest of the world, may not be directly affected by the result of this week's referendum in the UK.

If the UK votes on Thursday to leave ('Brexit')

There will be a breathing space when necessary legal arrangements are put into law both in the UK and in the EU. The long-term results will be that Hungarians in the UK will become like other non-EU foreigners, and their employment in the UK will be subject to whatever new arrangements this country maintains or creates for dealing with foreigners (economic migrants, refugees, aliens, whatever) who wish to live and work here.

In some ways of course, this will be similar in general terms to how things were before the UK and Hungary both joined the EU. Some of those who worked in CE in the UK at that time will recall making the case to the Home Office to obtain work permits for Hungarian conductors. I do not recall whether in those days any work-permit applications were refused (I could be wrong on this) but I do remember that this all  involved a tiresome bureaucratic procedure that took time and raised uncertainties, made the employment of conductors inflexible, and created operational problems that were not needed.

And be aware, the UK's immigration system can be as obdurate as anybody's.

Just one more thing from those not-so-distant days, it was not only the immigration service, its regulations and procedures that one had once to contend with. Not a lot of people know this now but even in the latter days of the Cold War Hungarian conductors coming to this country were liable to security checks. What might these people from the Iron Curtain with their unfamiliar jobs be up to over here! Again. I never heard of anyone's being kept out for this reason, then I wouldn't, would I?

But naaah, that was then and this is now. Conductors from Hungary hardly come from a country that is politically suspect now, do they? But Western intelligence services and others are increasingly concerned at having rather taken their eyes of the far-right ball, and Hungary has a good share of dodgy right-wing organisations, including two important political parties, association with which could arouse suspicion. Never mind formal affiliations, perhaps conductors who have shared some rather extreme illiberal views on Facebook and other social media might like to think of purging their online records if their future intentions include coming to the UK (they might consider cleaning their online record in this respect anyway...!)

The only other 'leave' effect for CE that comes immediately to mind is that maybe Brits would  be less eligible for Euro-jollies.

If the UK votes to stay...

...then everything can continue to bumble along, in CE as throughout society, if that is what happens in the economy as a whole.

If, if, if...

And the bigger picture?

Maybe Mr Sörös's recent prognostications will be proved right:


In this case the UK's leaving would have noticeable economic consequence, sufficient in the worse case to rock CE boats so hard as to sink some financially marginal organisations, not just at home but even across Europe and beyond.

That, he says, we should begin to know soon, beginning on (Black?) Friday, the end of this week.

Meanwhile, KBO...

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