Those who have long believed that David Cameron is a PR man whose politics are driven by managerialist opportunism, not principle, will be unsurprised by the latest u-turn announced yesterday.Cameron is a spineless fraud. What took you so long to work it out Benedict?
What’s more interesting though is the pattern of these tactical compromises that is becoming the leitmotif of Mr Cameron’s administration. The issues on which he has trimmed are piling up: school sports, free milk, the Lisbon treaty, repatriation of EU powers, mandatory sentences for knife crime, reversing the hunt ban, packing the ‘22 Committee are the ones that come to mind. Some of it might be put down to the exigencies of Coalition. But others suggest a hair-trigger response to bad headlines: anything that might disrupte the Coalition or undermine puiblic support is to be avoided: go around obstacles, don’t crash against them. Where Tony Blair had no reverse gear, and Lady T was not for turning, Mr Cameron has a full gearbox and power steering that allow him to execute swerves and three point turns.
Monday, 27 December 2010
Friday, 24 December 2010
Monday, 20 December 2010
I'm puzzled. Surely Monbiot et al should be happy that winters are getting colder because it helps mitigate dangerous runaway global warming that they warned of, or are they just disappointed that a catastrophe hasn't happened because they can't say; "I told you so"?
Saturday, 18 December 2010
I never expected this blog to change the world, thinking that of course would be plain daft, nor did I particularly wish it to be as successful as the shamelessly self-prompting Iain Dale (now deceased - the blog that is - and of no great loss).
Blogging for me was a way of helping to instill self-discipline in my research thus improving my knowledge of the EU, by virtue of submitting it to public scrutiny. Yet therein lies a contradiction. In order to fight a battle, you need to know your enemy. But I don't want to know my enemy. Learning more about the EU is not only deadly deadly dull but I hate it with every sinew of my being. I just want the whole thing to magically uplift and plonk itself into the Bermuda Triangle.
And it's not just the EU. That the Tories, and especially Cameron, are europhiles is of no surprise. But only 6 and half months have gone since the election and the integration pace is unprecedented - there's another 4 years or so at least of this. I feel I'm doomed to repeat myself ad infinitum. Despite the wonderfully versatile nature of the English language there are really only so many ways that you can call Cameron a fucking liar.
Then I see this and this:
The Government has published a new set of principles which it wants to govern the relationship between new EU laws and UK law. It wants to reduce the degree to which EU Directives are changed and tailored for the UK.Basically in order to become an MP you only have to answer two questions:
"The key to the new measures will be the principle of copying out the text of European directives directly into UK law," said a statement from the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). "The direct ‘copy out’ principle will mean that British interpretations of European law are not unfairly restricting British companies."
"This move will bring an end to the charge of 'gold-plating'," said Business Secretary Vince Cable. "The way we implement our EU obligations must foster, not hinder, UK growth by helping British businesses compete with their European neighbours."
- Do you know what an EU Directive is?
- Do you know what Ctrl + C and Ctrl + V means?
I shouldn't even be writing this blog post tonight; I should be at a Christmas meal. That's now been canceled because of the snow, I'm snowed in completely and the roads near me haven't been gritted in two days so subsequently they are dangerously icy, and to top it off I couldn't even watch live football. Not that inconvenient facts about the weather stops the Telegraph. The travel chaos made pages 1, 4 & 5 yet on page 24 we get a full page spread on how to reduce carbon emissions in transport to save the planet from global warming (can't find online):
Transport...it's the heart of economic activity yet the more we use it the more carbon emissions are pumped into the atmosphere. With technology and more thoughtful planning we could make fewer journeys in a greener Britain...etc etc.Kenneth Williams, in his final words summed it up; "Oh what's the bloody point". However then I read this post by The Filthy Engineer which articulates wonderfully what I'm thinking and that in itself cheers me up albeit in a depressing way.
SIR – Learning that most passwords are easy to crack (report, December 15) made me realise that the two years of Army National Service I spent in Singapore and Malaya in the 1950s were not wasted.
My eight-digit Army number was burned on my brain and makes an ideal password which is impossible to break.
Thanks John, we all now know that your password is 8 digits long and contains no letters (upper case or otherwise), that makes the task much easier (10 seconds apparently is all it takes). We also know your name, where you live, that you were in the Army, where you were and when. That can help us find out your password via other methods.
Impossible to break? I beg to differ.
Friday, 17 December 2010
Baroness Thatcher may be the ultimate symbol of the Conservative Party, but it seems that she has sympathies with UKIP. Before the general election, she had lunch with Lord Pearson and they discussed the problems that Pearson, then UKIP’s leader, was having in keeping the support of activists.If this is the case then Alex's final paragraph is spot-on:
She advised him to hire Viscount Monckton, a former Telegraph journalist, who she said had done a brilliant job for her in the Number 10 Policy Unit.
...there’s a question [the Tories] should be asking themselves. If even Margaret Thatcher, the longest-serving Conservative PM of the 20th century, now thinks that UKIP is worth helping, aren’t the Tories getting something seriously wrong?Quite.
Thursday, 16 December 2010
Despite the press speculation, the judgment isn't a significant departure from current Irish law. It has ruled that abortion access must be made easier in life-threatening situations, an extension to existing law in Ireland - which was the result of the 'X' case, however the ECHR has not ruled that abortion must be widely available in other circumstances. So technically Ireland is not required to legalise abortion but will probably be under pressure to adopt a more flexible position in subsequent attitudes.
The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that Irish abortion laws violated the rights of one of three women who sought terminations in Britain.
The woman, who was in remission for a rare form of cancer, feared it might return as a result of her pregnancy.
This still leaves a couple of issues. Can Ireland implement the ECHR's judgment without breaching the anti abortion condition of the constitution; the eighth amendment? If it does breach this, it would trigger a referendum. Even the Court acknowledges the implementation will be difficult to implement:
As to the burden which implementation of Article 40.3.3 would impose on the State, the Court accepts that this would be a sensitive and complex task. However, while it is not for this Court to indicate the most appropriate means for the State to comply with its positive obligations (Marckx v. Belgium judgment, § 58; Airey v. Ireland judgment, § 26; and B. v. France, § 63, all cited above), the Court notes that legislation in many Contracting States has specified the conditions governing access to a lawful abortion and put in place various implementing procedural and institutional procedures (Tysiąc v. Poland judgment, § 123). Equally, implementation could not be considered to involve significant detriment to the Irish public since it would amount to rendering effective a right already accorded, after referendum, by Article 40.3.3 of the Constitution.Given the current circumstances, should a referendum be triggered it's hard to imagine that the Irish will do anything other than reject further perceived erosion of their sovereignty, thus putting the nation on a collision course with the ECHR. Certainly at the very least Brian Cowen's 'clarification' on abortion, in order to secure a 'yes' in the second vote on Lisbon, looks a very empty one indeed. Can his already record low support in the polls get any lower?
But there was a more potential and fundamental far-reaching outcome of this judgment. Has the ECHR just effectively by-passed the domestic courts, thus breaching its mandate? Article 35/1 of the Convention of the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms requires that all possible domestic remedies be exhausted before the ECHR has jurisdiction:
The women in question; A,B & C, did not exhaust 'domestic remedies' and this formed part of the Irish Government's defence.
Article 35 – Admissibility criteria
- The Court may only deal with the matter after all domestic remedies have been exhausted, according to the generally recognised rules of international law, and within a period of six months from the date on which the final decision was taken.
In the Court's response to this defence, it's important to note that there is a difference between C’s claim and that made by A&B. C’s complaint was that her situation was allowed under the Irish constitution but no suitable domestic remedy was available to her - there was a lack of legislation that allowed her to have her abortion case to be assessed properly despite being entitled to. Her ability to exhaust domestic remedies was limited, therefore the court ruled accordingly:
154. The third applicant feared her pregnancy constituted a risk to her life and complained under Article 8 about the lack of legislation implementing the constitutional right to an abortion in the case of such a risk. She argued that she therefore had no effective procedure by which to establish her qualification for a lawful abortion in Ireland and that she should not be required to litigate to do so.
155. In those circumstances, the Court considers that the question of the need for the third applicant to exhaust judicial remedies is inextricably linked, and therefore should be joined, to the merits of her complaint under Article 8 of the Convention (Tysiąc v. Poland, no. 5410/03 (dec.) 7 February 2006).
4. The Court’s conclusion
156. Accordingly, the Court dismisses the Government’s objection on grounds of a failure to exhaust domestic remedies as regards the first and second applicants and joins this objection to the merits of the third applicant’s complaint under Article 8 of the Convention.
Conversely A&B were bringing a case that was not permitted under the Irish constitution. And it's clear from the judgment that the ECHR considered that any domestic remedies would have been next to pointless which is why they also considered their cases - again the ability to exhaust 'domestic remedies' was very limited:
147. However, the Court does not consider that it has been demonstrated that such an action would have had any prospect of success, going against, as it would, the history, text and judicial interpretation of Article 40.3.3 of the Constitution.Thus the view that domestic remedies were virtually non-existent permitted the ECHR to rule on these cases, allowing them to bypass domestic courts.
The Court's rulings though have essentially upheld the Irish constitution. It did not condemn abortion and in the case of A&B it appears to have tried to strike a balance between women's rights and the wishes of the Irish people:
The Court considers it reasonable to find that each applicant felt the weight of a considerable stigma prior to, during and after their abortions: they travelled abroad to do something which, on the Government’s own submissions, went against the profound moral values of the majority of the Irish people.However the Court ruled that C's case was a failure of the state to legislate properly under her right of the constitution:*
‘The Court considers that the uncertainty generated by the lack of legislative implementation of Article 40.3.3, and more particularly by the lack of effective and accessible procedures to establish a right to an abortion under that provision, has resulted in a striking discordance between the theoretical right to a lawful abortion in Ireland on grounds of a relevant risk to a woman’s life and the reality of its practical implementation‘In my view the ECHR has pulled off quite a deft trick here (if cynically you think courts judge in political terms not legal ones); subtlety changing Ireland's abortion laws without breaching legally its mandate.
Though I doubt any appreciation of the slight trick of the hand will be enough to pacify Ireland, as anti-Europe emotions are still running high; the reaction is likely to be altogether different.
*It's worth noting here, that I think a conflict arises here between the ECHR's (and EU state's) 'positive obligations' and Ireland's common law based 'classical obligations'.
The European Court of Human Rights is due to rule on whether the Irish Republic's anti-abortion laws violate women's human rights.
The case was brought to the Strasbourg-based court by three Irish women who say their health was put at risk by having to travel abroad for abortions.
The ruling could have all sorts of significant implications and the gravity of the decision is reflected by the decision of the court to issue its ruling at a public sitting rather than by a written statement.
We will know shorty whether Ireland will face another attack on its sovereignty.
Tuesday, 14 December 2010
Now clear? Where have you been for the last 5 years? Wakey wakey:
David Cameron’s true position on Europe is now clear – he’s an integrationist.
His administration has written to the European Commission asking it to invoke a provision in the Lisbon Treaty called “enhanced cooperation”. This allow groups of EU countries to push forward with speedier integration, without every member taking part, and the Government wants to use it to create a single European patent system.Well what a surprise, the Tories love more integration, we already know that:
Currently, member states have their own patent offices. These work together as members of a non-EU body, the European Patent Organisation, which helps companies gain patents across 40 countries.
Of course, the European Commission believes that this is terrible – and, with the British Government’s support, wants to grab control of patents. It claims that the status quo hurts European companies because it burdens them with higher costs than those faced by their Japanese and American rivals. But, like so many integrationist arguments, this is feeble.
Of course it's feeble but Tories still want to integrate further. Even Open Europe admits it wants to remain in the EU:
Mats finally admitted that Open Europe does not want the UK to leave the EU
And in summary, Alex Singleton states the obvious:
...What David Cameron’s administration is supporting is yet another poorly-conceived act of European integration – and one which would remove patents from democratic control and place them at the mercy of Brussels legislators and the lobbyists who take them for lunch. David Cameron’s support is unforgivable, and this provides another reminder that, on Europe, the current lot of Tories cannot be trusted.Of course the Tories can't be trusted but their supporters will still continue to do precisely that, i.e trust them. Oh what is to be done?
Sunday, 12 December 2010
A German man has failed in an attempt to circumvent the EU ban on 100 watt incandescent lightbulbs by rebranding the product as Heatballs.
An EU wide ban on the importation and sale of the powerful bulbs was imposed last year on environmental grounds.
Customs will now seize and destroy 40,000 bulbs imported by Siegfried Rotthäuser must be destroyed.
Mr Rotthäuser had advertised the lightbulbs as a source of heat and the components of a resistance art project.
Nevermind, not only does it create a black market (more money) but being British there's a wonderful loophole to get around the EU ban. As a result I have a garage stuffed full of pallets containing light bulbs should anyone wish to buy any.
Thanks EU, you're helping to pay my mortgage.
...and how do we ensure that someone elected predominantly by voters in rural areas gives due weight to the issues affecting inner-city Bristol? How do we stop them pandering to populism? I have real concerns that we’ll end up electing a demagogue or worse. After all, the track record on elected mayors isn’t great…"The record on elected mayors isn't great". Wonderful arrogance, the wishes of the electorate aren't up to Kerry's standard. That's the funny thing about democracy you might not get the result you like. If there's a danger of electing a demagogue (i.e. someone you don't agree with) perhaps we should abolish democracy altogether? Oh wait Kerry, you've done a good job of acheiving that already. And every one of her objections, highlighted above, could be used against electing MPs. After all the track record in elected Members of Parliament isn't so great either.
Ms McCarthy's real agenda is contained in the phrase 'pandering to populism'. A euphemism to smear those who have to live with genuine problems but whose ideas regarding practical solutions are at odds with hers. Critics of populism essentially argue that if you allow all the hoi polloi to have a say; "then...well... they come up with the most inappropriate ideas - they need to be told the 'right' direction to go in". Another way of looking at the proposals of elected Police Commissioners is that they will be more receptive to the wishes of the public because of the power of the ballot box, rather than the top-down out-of-touch priorities imposed by Government.
And as a victim of crime on a number of occasions it's pretty clear to me (and I suspect many others) where Police priorities really lie. Been burgled? Don't bother ringing in unless you need to claim on insurance. The response you will get when you report it is (and I received on 3 separate occasions); "Look, we can't be arsed to visit, so here's your URN for insurance purposes, now sod off." I wonder if Ms McCarthy considers that to be due weight given to the issues affecting certain people?
Have a disabled wife? In a wheelchair? She parks in one of Tesco's disabled parking bays, clearly displaying a blue badge. She then gets verbally abused by a middle aged man who thinks she isn't 'crippled enough' and subsequently physically threatens "to knock her head off". Big lump of a husband (me) returns from putting trolley back, intervenes to protect said wife. Guess who the Police issued a Section 5 to because it was easier to process. Go on you'll never guess.
It's long overdue that the state starts responding to the wishes of the people they serve. That's what Ms McCarthy is really scared of.
Saturday, 11 December 2010
The main three parties are all on the same page when it comes to the major issues. Whether it is EU membership, climate change, taxation and public spending, defence, or any number of issues, the only disagreements are matters of nuance rather than substance. The wishes of the people are simply ignored until it is time to publish a tissue of lies masquerading as manifestos before the electoral charade every 4-5 years. Once the election is over, it is business as usual and the disconnect from the public is re-established.Democracy is a contract; in order for the state to expect me to obey its laws, then I should have a say in how those laws are made (via the ballot box), and also the opportunity to voice my opinions publicly. By signing up to an unaccountable bureaucracy (EU) the state has breached its side of the contract and effectively disenfranchised us.
The student disorder of recent weeks has brought this subject to the fore. Regretably these protests were not about matters of real substance, such as our democracy, our liberty and our sovereignty. They were about a misplaced sense of entitlement and a wish to continue indulging their choices at the expense of taxpayers. The behaviour was therefore unjustified. The students positioned their protest ‘against the rich’ and the ‘establishment’. They spectacularly missed the point that they should be protesting in a targeted manner against the political class and the ruling elite. Their protest did not warrant or justify the violence we witnessed.
However I can now envisage violence being justified as a means to an end – not in order to demand money from the government, but rather demanding the restoration of democracy and representative governance. Not violence to attack the police, law and order. But rather to remove those in the ruling class who abuse the law for their own ends and subvert our country, handing it over to foreign control from underneath us without mandate or permission.
The rules of the game have changed. By making it impossible for us to remove the political clones from power through democratic elections and select a genuine alternative the political class has left the population with no option but to engage in civil disobedience and possibly direct action in order to ensure the our wishes are respected and the country is run in our interests.
As Autonomous Mind points out when this happens direct action regrettably becomes the only realistic option.
Now just over a week since the open and honest voting procedure took place we learn that Barcelona has a new shirt sponsor. Barcelona are famous for never having a shirt sponsor, the shirts remaining unsoiled by corporate logos (though they have recently paid to support the UNICEF cause). Something which the fans were rightly proud of.
That has all changed as Barcelona have signed up to biggest shirt sponsorship deal in history, worth £125 million. And the new sponsor? The Qatar Foundation. Surely a coincidence?
Thursday, 9 December 2010
As an aside, for such a pro-climate change party it's interesting that they used the same music as a famous ending of Top Gear's tribute to the car. Marvellous.
hattip for the video: all seeing eye
MORE than 100,000 people have signed up to the Daily Express’s crusade for Britain to quit the European Union, it can be revealed today.I'm not sure by the last line whether it means all newspapers or just in the Express's history, but either way it's good news and a sure sign that the Express has successfully tapped into people's concerns which hitherto have long been ignored.
The newspaper has received a deluge of our special crusade coupons calling on David Cameron’s Government to organise an orderly withdrawal from the EU.
Support has hit six figures in just over a week since the historic crusade was launched. It is on course to become the fastest growing campaign in newspaper history.
Wednesday, 8 December 2010
Personally I'm rather pleased that it won't work. I don't want a referendum on every single transfer of power to the EU - what a waste of time (and money) - I just want the one referendum; 'in or out'.
A strong and successful referendum lock would have made the 'out' cause that much harder. It will allow the Tories to argue that they were genuine eurosceptics shown by the fact that regular referendums were held, it won't negate all of the previous EU competencies that have been agreed so our real government would still reside in Brussels regardless.
Having a weak referendum lock will ensure that integration will continue apace, which means the 'out' cause not only becomes easier all the time to argue for but that exit gets ever closer. By introducing such a weak bill, Cameron has unwittingly helped in our cause. More integration means a quicker exit.
In other words we need a Queen sacrifice to force checkmate.
Monday, 6 December 2010
"Would you like some stamps?" inquires young girl behind till.
"No Thanks" I reply.
Then the young girl spots the much larger card with the words 'to my wife' emblazoned across the front:
"This one is a large letter size, you'll need a large-size stamp. Would you like to buy one?"*
" Er no, the card's for my wife and I live with her, unsurprisingly" I reply.
*Large letter sizes? Yep that'll be the EU
Thursday, 2 December 2010
Meanwhile here's a cracking post by Autonomous Mind, who blogs, about the recent debacle of Sepp Fatter et al and England's failed World cup bid, far better than I.
We've clearly lost because of media reports. A Panorama investigation 3 days before? It was obviously deliberately timed as such as to destroy our bid. I can see copious champagne bottles entering Broadcasting House now.
Update: At least we won't have to use the abomination that is Stadium: MK.
In truth much of what is said could apply to any of the main political parties and to arguments such as; leaving the EU, controlling mass immigration and climate change. It's well worth a read in full, but here's a couple of extracts:
But there is an arrogance at the heart of our politics that is going to make it difficult to really understand why we lost. It is an arrogance that says that we alone own morality and that we alone want the best for people. It says that our instincts and our motives alone are pure. It’s an arrogance that belittles others’ fears and concerns as “isms” whilst raising ours as righteous. We then mistakenly define ourselves as being distinctive from our opponents because we are morally superior rather than because we have different diagnoses and solutions. It is lazy, wrong and politically dangerous.If you think that I am being harsh, just think about what we say about our opponents. We assume that they are all in it for themselves, that they are indifferent to the suffering of others. In fact, that they are quite happy to induce more suffering if it suits their malign ends. What we don’t think is that they may want the same things as us, but just have a different approach. Instead, we cast high-minded aspersions on their morality and humanity.
But does it matter? Well, yes, I think that it does. Because our arrogance has the effect of stopping us listening. In fact, it is worse than that: we think that we are listening when many voters know that we are not. If we are honest, all too often we do believe that our version of the world is not just better than anyone else’s, but also more moral and in fact just plain right. It makes us believe that if people don’t agree with us then they are either less moral or need educating. Possibly both. It is how we dismiss the opinion polls which show people being concerned about things that we would rather they weren’t, like immigration and welfare abuse.The irony being I doubt many of the political class will take much notice of the salient points within this piece because of their...well...arrogance.
So now you know.
"Winters will get milder with climate change, however scientists have said that they will actually start off getting colder as the melting Arctic ice takes effect".
*Update: I should make it clear that the above statement was made by a spokesperson for The Weather Club (Yes, yes the irony) but the assertions went completely unchallenged and the two BBC presenters nodded approvingly.
Wednesday, 1 December 2010
This one from Grove & Wantage:
Ok UKIP came last, but look at the 'official council' pie chart...
...all the parties' are named except UKIP with is labeled as 'other' despite no 'other' party standing.
And this is even worse:
The Green party is named with 9.29% but UKIP with 12.52% is just dismissed as 'other'.
This is an official council website. It's an undemocratic disgrace.
Update: There's plenty more examples.
Asked by Lord Pearson of Rannoch:
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Howell of Guildford to Lord Tebbit on 10 November (WA 80), what areas of United Kingdom national sovereignty have been transferred to European Union competence since 1972 under (a) majority voting, and (b) unanimity, in the Council of Ministers; and what areas remain under the sole control of Parliament.[HL4192](My emphasis below):
So there it is in black and white, Conservative Lord Howell of Guildford admits that Parliament could say no but doesn't. We can remove ourselves from EU competences, and EU governance, (though now slightly more difficult) if only our MPs knew what a spine looks like.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): No areas of competence have been transferred from the UK to the EU under majority voting or unanimity in the Council of Ministers. The limits of EU competence are clearly set out in the EU treaties, and only an amendment of the EU treaties can transfer any competence to or from the EU.
Parliament is sovereign; and EU law has effect in the UK because-and solely because-Parliament wills that it should. The EU Bill currently before Parliament includes a clause which seeks to place on a statutory footing this common-law principle.
The pilot of the plane which crashed with UKIP leader Nigel Farage on board has been charged with threatening to kill him in a separate incident.Wow.
Justin Adams, 45, from Faringdon, Oxford, appeared before magistrates in the city on Tuesday charged with two counts of making threats to kill.
It is believed the second count Mr Adams faces relates to the threatening of an aviation official.