Monday, 31 October 2011

Greece Calls A Referendum

On top of soaring unsustainable Italian bond yields today, we also have the Prime Minister of Greece, George Papandreou, announcing a referendum on the new EU aid package:

"We trust citizens, we believe in their judgement, we believe in their decision," he told ruling socialist party lawmakers.

Nearly 60 percent of Greeks view Thursday's EU summit agreement on a new 130 billion euro bailout package as negative or probably negative, a survey showed on Saturday.

Ha ha cats and pigeons spring to mind. The markets will likely go mad tomorrow. Also adds extra pressure onto Cameron regarding a referendum - this EU issue is not going away is it 'call me Dave'?

Tory MP Changes Vote For A Tenner

Politicalbetting picks up on this story from yesterday's Mail:
One Eurosceptic Tory had an unusual reason for abstaining in the vote on an EU referendum: he didn’t want to lose a bet.

Convinced that the rebellion would fizzle out, he had made a wager with a fellow sceptic that fewer than 60 Tories would vote against the Government.

The deal was that, for every rebel over the magic number, he would have to pay his colleague £10 and vice versa. When he walked down to the division lobbies last Monday night, he was taken aback by how many Tory MPs were defying the whips. He calculated that he must be a couple of hundred quid down and decided to abstain.

‘I was buggered if I was going to give him another tenner,’ he joked.

But the two sides in the debate had no idea what his motivations were for not voting. They both desperately tried to cajole him into supporting them as he sat on the Commons’ green leather benches during the division. Even the Chancellor, George Osborne, got in on the act, pushing him to back the Government.

This MP’s behaviour adds a whole new meaning to the phrase 'taking a gamble on Britain's future'.
I'm not sure what to make of this. There's a couple of lines that suggest he was mischievously joking to the journalist, or perhaps he was got at by the whips and so used a flippant story as cover for his lack of bottle. Or maybe it is indeed true, that he changed his vote, on a subject of national importance, to minimise his betting loses - to save 10 pounds.

If true it means a Tory MP was prepared to sell this country's future for a tenner.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Another Warning

In this weekend's papers the Euro crisis rumbles on despite Cameron's attempts to try to change the narrative. Cameron wants to leave the EU issue alone, but the EU is not going to leave him alone any time soon. Christopher Booker writes that "the project is slowly heading for very messy and prolonged disintegration" and it won't do that quietly. Far from it.

So while Cameron and his merry band of Europlastics prattle on about 'repatriation of powers'; a complete non-starter as the ever excellent Richard North points out, the Euro crisis continues to pull the EU down a gurgling plug hole. And the consequences of a chaotic, yet increasingly inevitable, breakup will not be good as this piece by Liam Halligan in the Telegraph argues. Liam is unconvinced by the latest 'extend and pretend' bailout package:
Far from making the situation clearer, allowing investors to make considered assessments, this latest announcement made Western Europe's grotesque debt crisis even more acute, sowing further infectious spores of confusion.

By late Thursday...and certainly on Friday, the warning signs were there. Global bond markets, by character more sober and smarter than the excitable equity guys, were voting against the deal. This is alarming. For it is only by selling more bonds that the eurozone's deeply indebted governments can roll-over their enormous liabilities and keep the show on the road.
And then comes the warning, that we are heading towards significant and serious civil unrest at the least:
Let's be clear – if global bond markets stop lending to a number of large Western economies, we are in the realms of unpaid state wages and pensions, transport chaos and closures of schools and hospitals – sparking the prospect of serious civil unrest. Forgive my intemperate tone, but these are the dangers we face. And I'm afraid the only rational response to Thursday's announcement is that the probability of such undesirable outcomes has just been increased.
Liam rightly argues that the only practical solution to the crisis is an orderly breakup of the Euro, but that ain't gonna happen (my emphasis):
The eurocrats, of course, lack the guts to trim back monetary union to a more manageable size. Too much face would be lost. So "euroquake" fears, once viewed as outlandish, are gaining pace. Despite Thursday's deal, and all the reassurances of a "durable solution", the Italian government on Friday paid 6.06pc for 10-year money, up from just 5.86pc a month ago and a euro-era high. Such borrowing costs are disastrous, given that Rome must roll-over €300bn of its €1,900bn debt in 2012 alone. A default by Italy...would make Lehman look like a picnic.
Gulp! In truth there's little in the piece that isn't anything that this, and many other blogs, haven't said for months if not years. But at least some sections of the MSM are starting to wake up, though almost certainly it's too little, too late.

Update: Just seen that Autonomous Mind has a piece on the make up of the next European War; between the politicians and the people. Warnings are coming in thick and fast.

Friday, 28 October 2011

It Didn't Even Last 2 Days

The latest EU 'deal', which agreed basically nothing, has succumbed to the law of diminishing returns. Designed to reassure the markets, it has failed to even last 2 days. Italy's bonds are still rising to dangerous levels - in short the markets are unconvinced by the EU package.

In a masterpiece of understatement, Annalisa Piazza, a fixed-income strategist at Newedge Group in London said:
“All in all, today’s [Italian bond] auction was not very satisfying,”
Then in a further twist:
A new obstacle to solving Europe's debt problems - already!

Germany's constitutional court has suspended the right of a small parliamentary committee to approve urgent actions required by the eurozone bail-out fund.

The court said it will investiagte whether using the small committee to decide EFSF matters infringed the rights of other politicians.

The nine-member group was set up to get decisions passed more quickly - however there is growing anger among German politicians and voters that they are being dragged into bailing out other nations with little or no consultation.

Reuters reports that the court's suspension of the smalll committee means the EFSF won't be able to start buying bonds in the secondary market because purchases must be agreed in secret, and the full German parliament can't meet in secret.

That leaves the ECB carrying the responsibility for buying Spanish and Italian bonds for a bit longer...

Oh and Portugal's buggered as well:
Monetary contraction in Portugal has intensified at an alarming pace and is mimicking the pattern seen in Greece before its economy spiralled out of control, raising concerns that the EU summit deal may soon washed over by fast-moving events.
Oh and Belgium:
Belgium’s economic expansion stalled in the third quarter as European leaders struggled to contain a worsening debt crisis amid signs the region is heading toward a recession.
And so on...

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Talk Is Cheap

“As I grow older, I pay less attention to what men say. I just watch what they do.” Andrew Carnegie.
From the Mail:

This is the same chap who voted against a referendum, voted to throw more of our money away at the Eurozone, voted for EU scrutiny of our budget and voted to approve of the Lisbon Treaty.

That Deal (2)

Again, according Zerohedge, the EU's numbers don't add up (this is where the July bailout deal fell apart). The proposed 50% haircut on Greek debt (which hasn't even been agreed yet) is not even 50% but only 28%. Here's his post in full (his emphasis):

Just the math, something Europe is unable to do:

  • Greece has €350 billion in total debt including about €70 billion in Troika "post-petition" loans; these are untouched.
  • Of the €280 billion, roughly €75 billion is held by the ECB: this, like the Troika loans, will be untouched.
  • This leaves just ~€200 billion in actual debt to undergo a haircut.
  • Apply a 50% haircut to this debt (ignoring the fact that of this about €35 billion is held by Greek pension funds, and once the realization that Greek pensions have been cut in half dawns upon the population, the result will be the biggest riots ever seen in Athens yet).
  • Total debt to be cut: just about €100 billion.
  • Hence, of the total €350 billion, just €100 billion is eliminated, most of it used to backstop and service Greek pension and retirement obligations
  • €250, or the residual, of €350, the original, means 72%, or a 28% haircut.
  • Greek GDP was €230 billion on December 31, 2010 and declining fast.
  • And that is how a 50% haircut is "cut" almost in half
But no worries, shares are all up strongly this morning, so everything must be rosy in the garden.

That Deal

When the EU announces a deal as substantial, vital and ambitious, you know it means precisely the opposite. And so it proves with the latest outcome of the crisis talks. One of the big' measures apparently is that private banks holding Greek debt accept a 50% loss. However the key passage, number 12, states (my emphasis throughout):
The Private Sector Involvement (PSI) has a vital role in establishing the sustainability of the Greek debt. Therefore we welcome the current discussion between Greece and its private investors to find a solution for a deeper PSI. Together with an ambitious reform programme for the Greek economy, the PSI should secure the decline of the Greek debt to GDP ratio with an objective of reaching 120% by 2020. To this end we invite Greece, private investors and all parties concerned to develop a voluntary bond exchange with a nominal discount of 50% on notional Greek debt held by private investors. The Euro zone Member States would contribute to the PSI package up to 30 bn euro. On that basis, the official sector stands ready to provide additional programme financing of up to 100 bn euro until 2014, including the required recapitalisation of Greek banks. The new programme should be agreed by the end of 2011 and the exchange of bonds should be implemented at the beginning of 2012. We call on the IMF to continue to contribute to the financing of the new Greek programme.
Words like; "We welcome", "we invite", "voluntary". 'In other words they've agreed bugger all. Talks are ongoing and the details haven't yet been agreed upon (if they ever will).

Nevermind the markets naturally will be initially happy, then how long before it all unravels again?

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Thank You Germany

I've just got back, so I'm trawling through today's events regarding the Euro crisis - I hope to expand on this later. It's difficult, amongst the noise, to come to any immediate conclusions but it seems that the farce of non agreement continues.

One piece worth reading is this by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard in the Telegraph, in which he argues that we should be grateful to the Germans. I concur completely, it is with deep irony that the Germans are the only ones in Europe that are prepared to prevent the rest of us suffering from tyranny. As Monday demonstrates, given half the chance our MPs in Westminster would hand over our country, sovereignty, cheque book and democracy, lock stock and barrel to the EU if they thought they could get away with it:

Die Linke (Left) leader Gregor Gysi was electrifying. "It is the arrogance of power," he began, and never let go.

"Every week you come up with a different story about this crisis."

"We were told there would be no leverage and you have reversed everything in a matter of weeks. Now we learn that the 20pc loss will fall entirely on taxpayers. They alone will pay. That is the decision you are taking."

Green leader Jürgen Trittin rebuked Dr Merkel for hiding the true implications of EFSF leverage, particularly the plan to insure the first 20pc of losses on Club Med bonds.

"Why are you shying away from telling the people the truth? You must tell people what this leverage means. You must explain to them what the risk is, and why it is necessary. But you wriggled out of it."

"You came here three weeks ago and said there would be no leverage. This is the sort of thing that unnerves people."

And so it went on, raw red-blooded democracy.

This afternoon, after a jolly at the cinema I took my wife to the John Radcliffe hospital in Oxford for her regular consultation with her neurologist. After the usual discussions about her health, we got onto Monday's vote as part of small talk while she went to be scanned. "I've just joined the TA" he says without prompting. I ask him why. "because very soon I want to be on the right end of a gun". This was the view of a consultant Doctor, in the NHS. Worrying times.

Quote Of The Day

Confirmation that many Tories are Europlastics and have no interest in getting us out of the EU:

One 2010 rebel confessed the vote was about more than Europe. The MP said:

“I’m actually not particularly anti-European. If there was a referendum tomorrow, I’d vote to stay in. Supporting the motion was partly about keeping faith with the people who sent me here and partly about taking a swing at No 10.”

Update: Just seen WfW has posted on the same thing.

Quite Mad

As predicted by anyone who is 'barking mad' it would seem that today's crucial EU meeting, which apparently would solve all the EU's problems' will end with nothing resolved at all. Actually they can't even do the fudge bit right - it's collapsing in chaos. The Telegraph reports:
...leaders last night appeared to be little closer to settling their long-standing differences on those issues.
That firmly comes under the category of no shit Sherlock. But don't worry chaps, we have another meeting this weekend. So that's now a meeting about a meeting about a meeting. I think. I've lost count.

All of which is highly reassuring when, the Italian Government is close to collapse, Italian bond spreads are once again approaching the danger levels of 6%, Portugal is entering Greece territory, Greece is about to default, French banks are on the verge of collapsing and we're about to thrown more good money after bad. At least EU leaders still can find some time to indulge in a spot of personal recriminations. Following on from Berlusconi's insult, Sarkozy has waded in too:
"...she is on a diet and then helps herself to a second helping of cheese"
That would be the 6"4, adonis, David Beckham lookalike that is Sarkozy. (As an aside has anyone else noticed the similarity between Sarkozy and Lumiere the candlestick in Beauty and the Beast?)

I take 'great comfort' that our economic future lies in the hands of such well qualified and talented leaders. As Isambard Kingdom Brunel once said:
"I endeavour to comprehend the present extraordinary state of railway matters when everyone around seems mad. Stark staring wildly mad. The only sane course for a sane man is to get out and keep quiet."
And I intend to do that, keep quiet, well for a couple of hours at least. Didier Reynders, the Belgian finance minister's left the EU gathering on Sunday early to see the new Tintin film and I'm about to do the same this morning - the film opens today at my local cinema. I'll stick a review up later, that is if, while I watch a Belgian save the world, the Euro doesn't collapse in the meantime.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

The Morning After...

I went on a jolly to London yesterday, to partake in a mass lobby of Parliament regarding the Referendum vote. Although, as I've previous mentioned I wasn't really interested in the debate itself - the vote was always a foregone conclusion - I thought it important to help contribute to the numbers outside. To try to show that this was an issue people do care about. It was also great to meet up with fellow bloggers Mark Wadsworth and Witterings from Witney, and to meet The Talking Clock and Katabasis.and later in the evening Helen from Your Freedom and Ours at the Bruges Group debate.

Personally I thought the turnout for the lobby was rather good although it wasn't quite as large as the one for the mass lobby on the Lisbon Treaty in 2008, which is to be expected considering the short notice and that it was a Monday. However it still took over 2 hours to get in.

I didn't get to see my Tory MP, and to no surprise he voted against the motion. Interestingly during the Lisbon Treaty debate, he couldn't have been more helpful. He promptly answered my correspondence, he gave me his mobile number and when I was queuing he came out to meet me and enabled me to jump the queue to get in. Since I met him at the General Election count last year, standing as a UKIP candidate (in a neighbouring constituency), he has been less helpful. Letters and emails go unanswered and he didn't even meet me in the lobby yesterday - though my chances of meeting him were slightly better than Wittering from Witney's were on speaking to his MP.

But not all is in vain. There are some positive outcomes. By dividing his party so comprehensively Cameron will go down in history as another Tory leader who couldn't win an election. Cameron's greatest asset last year was Gordon Brown. The Tories benefited from the 'anyone but Gordon vote' (and still they couldn't win), in 2015, if the coalition lasts that long, that won't be a factor. A divided party, Europe, the economy, no Gordon Brown...say goodbye to any chances of winning in 2015 Cameron.

Also, the rebellion appears to be larger than expected, Cameron has 'lost' a large part of his party, which makes for interesting times when further votes on Europe are coming down the track. Senior Tory figures are denying that it is a humiliation which of course means that it is (*crunches popcorn*), and at least now even the most dim-witted amongst Tory members now have it in black and white that 'wait 'till Dave gets in' was an illusion all along.

One question got answered though. We're often told of the 'benefits' of EU membership in vague terms - good for Britain, national interest etc. If nothing else yesterday's vote answers that question unequivocally. That the three main parties in Parliament shows such contempt for the electorate, and that successive Tory leaders are prepared to destroy their own party first, tells us all we need to know on who actually benefits out of our membership of the EU.

Sunday, 23 October 2011


Via The Talking Clock, I link to Peter Hitchens in the Daily Mail who highlights a rather sinister, though not surprising, development that Tory MPs who are opposed to the EU have to disguise their identity when talking to BBC radio 4:
Two Tory MPs are so scared of David Cameron’s pro-EU thought police that they have hidden their identities when giving radio interviews on the subject.

One said that wanting to leave the EU was ‘the love that dare not speak its name’. The other attacked Mr Cameron’s broken pledge for a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. Both knew that the Tory whips would destroy them if their names became known.

So their words were spoken by actors, as if they were dissidents in some foreign dictatorship.
The broadcast can be heard here.

The Penny Starts To Drop...

From Iain "Just wait 'till Dave gets in" Dale's Diary 2009:
Frankly, those who start spitting about voting UKIP can bugger off and do just that if it makes them feel better. They may get a momentary warm glow of satisfaction, but what they could end up with is another five years of Gordon Brown.

Think on that, if you're one of those people. And then think about the word 'self-indulgent'.

Meanwhile, the rest of us will get on with trying to support a party leader who is trying his best to rescue the country from the Euro-mess created by the present lot.
Some people seem to have forgotten that it was Gordon Brown who reneged on his manifesto pledge for a referendum, not David Cameron. Cameron could never deliver on it if he wasn't in government. Brown was and didn't. That should tell you all you need to know.
If there's one positive aspect of tomorrow's pointless referendum 'debate' is that the notion of any kind of Euroscepticism from the Tories has been dynamited completed out of the water...and then some. As Autonomous Mind argues:
Before people can set about fixing something they have to understand exactly what is broken. At this time not enough people realise what is broken. This Parliamentary debate and the furore surrounding it will help more people on that journey of understanding. No matter what the outcome of the debate itself, the charade that brought it about will bring about some positive benefits.
So it's somewhat amusing, as a consequence, to see a change of tone from Dale:
Earlier today I tweeted...
"Can anyone identify a single EU power this government has repatriated so far? Taps fingers waiting..."
Nope I can't either, he continues:
Needless to say, a good few hours later I am still waiting. And that is partly why Conservative MPs are so annoyed by the government’s stance on the EU Referendum vote. If David Cameron had set out to ratchet up the heat in advance of this debate he couldn’t have done a better job. It is an object lesson in how not to handle his party.
The whole piece is worth reading in full, if only for the entertainment value, and he concludes (my emphasis):
And if he doesn’t deliver at that point? Well, many will have to ask themselves some very searching questions. And one will be, am I in the right party?
It's happening oh so slowly but if even the great Tory sage Dale is having doubts then Cameron and the Tory party is in a little bit of trouble.

And, it doesn't stop there; on the same 'mega' blog is this piece from Tory MP Adrian Hilton again worth reading in full, his conclusions are as follows (my emphasis):
But she is quite wrong to insist that she exercises her own judgement on these matters: she is a mere delegate of Brussels, and by refusing the British people a referendum on this fundamental constitutional issue, she helps to shield the EU government from the wrath of the electorate. In due course, civil society will learn to ignore the law and EU institutions, and will turn, instead, to civil disobedience; for other than capitulation, this is increasingly the EU citizen’s only option.
You've read that right, a Tory MP is warning of dire consequences of not listening to the people. They've been warned (again).

Saturday, 22 October 2011

I'm Barking Mad

Apparently according to some nondescript leader of the Labour Party:
"But the idea that we have more chance of getting our way and seeing our values spread by being outside the EU is barking, quite frankly."
I'm actually quite hurt...well, on reflection, maybe not.

Friday, 21 October 2011

FT Deutschland Is Priced In D-Marks

As England Expects says wow:

Popcorn Time

If nothing else, at least the Tory party provides a degree of entertainment. The continuing saga of the referendum vote on Monday has caused the Tories to go into one of their usual navel gazing EU meltdowns; 'shambolic', 'mismanagement', 'chaotic', have been some of the words used to describe Number 10's responses to a backbench rebellion.

It also represents a damning indictment of how low our Parliament has sunk, that it has no further use than as an entertainment circus as its powers have been outsourced abroad. The debate in Westminster over the EU has not moved on, it's the same old arguments, the same excuses and the same rhetoric - none of it has changed since the early '90s.

As such I've long given up that our exit from the EU will come from Westminster at all, as Richard North says it has written itself out of the script. I've always been rather proud that not once, since I was first eligible to vote - in the Newbury by-election 1993 - have I ever voted for any of the 3 main parties. They don't represent me, and installing a 3-line whip on a petition by the public just shows the contempt with which they hold us in.

So I take no real interest in the 'debate' on Monday; it will change nothing as MPs dust off 20 year old speeches. However Westminster may not have moved on but the world has, particularly through public opinion but crucially the Euro crisis. It won't be MPs or the Tories that affect our membership of the EU but the Germans. Next week is crucial for our future in Europe, but not because of events on Monday but because of events on Wednesday.

So in the meantime I will take great delight in the Tories imploding once again over Europe; as the ultimate proponents of "oh what a web we weave..." they fully deserve it.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Things Are Really Bad

Contrary to my previous post, it seems, unexpectedly, that the EU is not even going to try to fudge Sunday's meeting - they instead have postponed any announcement until a second meeting next Wednesday. Blimey that means the crisis must be very serious!

Bruno Waterfield from the Telegraph tweets:

I feel for them I really do.

In Or Out - Lib Dem Style

From England Expects:

From Norman Smith BBC News Channel chief political correspondent, today:
All three major parties now imposing three line whips on their MPs to vote against EU referendum motion on what's a "backbench debate"


Amid reports that Gaddafi has been killed this is the joint statement by European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and EU Commission President José Manuel Barroso*:
The reported death of Muammar Gaddafi marks the end of an era of despotism and repression from which the Libyan people have suffered for too long. Today Libya can turn a page in its history and embrace a new democratic future. We call on the National Transitional Council to pursue a broad based reconciliation process which reaches out to all Libyans and enables a democratic, peaceful and transparent transition in the country.
I also wonder what Tony Blair has to say?

*hattip: Ironies Too

A Disaster?

I've noted before on this blog about the perils of an 'in or out' referendum. It won't be the foregone conclusion that some expect. Not least because all of the media, with the exception of the Daily Express, all support our continued membership. The discussion will be skewered accordingly.

Much melodramatic language will be used, such as the oft used line that it would be an 'economic disaster' for the UK if we left as most of our trade is with the EU.

The above picture, however, exposes the deception behind that argument. It's a picture of Douglas, the capital of the Isle of Man. Though the Isle of Man is a Crown Dependency, it is largely responsible for its own internal legislation and tax matters. Crucially it is not a member of the EU and it lies outside the European Economic Area as defined by the Lisbon Treaty (Article 355):
this Treaty shall apply to the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man only to the extent necessary to ensure the implementation of the arrangements for those islands set out in the Treaty concerning the accession of new Member States to the European Economic Community and to the European Atomic Energy Community signed on 22 January 1972.
In short, under the UK's accession treaty 1972, the Isle of Man can freely trade goods without non-EU tariffs, but it maintains its own control on virtually everything else.

So the obvious question is, how come a small island in the Irish sea with a population of around 76,500 can happily govern itself whilst successfully trading with the EU whilst not being a member but the UK cannot?

Don't Panic

One slightly amusing side effect of the referendum debate is watching Cameron, yet again, display his woeful lack of abilities as a Prime Minister and the ill-disguised panic in Number 10 as the 'voters have spoken - the bastards'.

James Delingpole thinks he's worse than Ted Heath. Ouch! Analysis that surely comes under the category of 'harsh but true'. The Mail also reports signs of panic and compares Cameron to Major - its conclusions are withering:
It is scarcely conceivable that the Prime Minister is turning next week's vote into a John Majoresque trial of strength with his Eurosceptic MPs. Let's be clear about the terms of next week's debate: the outcome will have absolutely no impact on Government policy, and with Labour and the Lib Dems expected to oppose the idea of an 'in-out' EU referendum (or at least, in Labour's case, abstain), it seems all but impossible that the motion could in any case be carried. The vote may well turn into a John Majoresque trial of strength with Eurosceptic MPs

The talk in Government circles tonight is of a compromise amendment that could allow the frontbenches and the rebels to unite. Perhaps that is achievable. But if he presses ahead with a three-line whip, Mr Cameron risks up to half a dozen resignations by ministerial aides, the biggest rebellion of the Parliament and a potentially irreversible rift with large sections of his party.

The Prime Minister should have shrugged his shoulders, told all those on the Government payroll to take the afternoon off and headed Down Under, where he could have watched as 50 or so Tory MPs backed a referendum to no effect whatsoever. Whoever advised him to do otherwise should be taken out and shot. Mr Cameron may have made one of the worst decisions of his premiership.
In order to 'detoxify' the Tory brand, Cameron always wanted to park the EU issue. So how's that going, Cameron?

Still, with impending economic crisis looming, aren't we relieved that we have such a talented person in place as our Prime Minister?

Meanwhile In The Real World...

As the Tories continue to faff about on a meaningless referendum debate due to be held on Monday, the Euro crisis continues unabated. All eyes are on Sunday's meeting as the EU tries to thrash out a deal to save the Euro. The markets expect something big, but it's clear that intractable problems exist between France and Germany:
The talks are deadlocked, reflecting a deep rift between Euroland's two great powers. The French fear the EU's €440bn EFSF rescue fund will not be enough to shore up monetary union without mobilising the might of the European Central Bank as lender of last resort. It is a view shared by UBS, Citigroup, RBS and the US Treasury.

Paris has grave doubts about Mrs Merkel's demand for larger "haircuts" – perhaps 50pc – for Greek bondholders. Such a move risks triggering default, crystallising crippling losses for French banks and courting "Lehman-style" contagion.

Mr Sarkozy's task is made harder by bail-out fatigue and mounting euroscepticism in the Bundestag.
It's hard to see any kind of concrete proposals being announced on Sunday, certainly not any that will get passed the 17 Eurozone national parliaments - it took nearly 3 months to get July's relatively proposals to get approved.

Instead, it is likely that Sunday will follow a well trodden weary pattern, a big announcement that later doesn't hold up to scrutiny on the details. Yet in the law of diminishing returns, the time between an EU 'solution' to the Euro crisis and it being picked apart gets shorter and shorter. One wonders how long Sunday's proposals will fool the markets, not long I suspect; it could fall apart as soon as Monday morning.

Yet any failure to grapple with the crisis will have grave consequences, as Sarkozy himself acknowledges:
"If there isn't a solution by Sunday, everything is going to collapse,"
It's quite possible, and with deep irony, that as Cameron and his merry band of Europlastics debate the finer points of repatriating powers back from Brussels on Monday, the whole damn thing is collapsing around their ears.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Ever Get The Feeling You've Been Cheated?

Apparently Parliament will debate the issue of a EU referendum next week. There's nothing I can add apart from agree with the sentiments of Witterings from Witney, Your Freedom and Ours and EUReferendum.

In truth I couldn't give a stuff about the vote, the whole charade is meaningless; Labour will vote against, Lib Dems - despite their manifesto promise...
Liberal Democrats have argued for a referendum on whether Britain stays in or leaves the EU. We are the only party confident enough to put the pro-European case to the British people on the big issue facing us – and let the people decide
...will vote against and so will the Tories, on a whip. The vote is not even binding on the government who have made it clear many times that they won't hold one. Yet to avoid embarrassment in case of breakdown of party discipline, due to the campaign building up a head of steam, Cameron has been brought forward the vote to Monday - nothing to do with the fact that plans for a mass lobby of Parliament, similar to the Lisbon Treaty, were in preparation. Oh no.

However in the meantime expect the usual Tory nonsense:
So expect Cameron to use the intervening days to craft a position on Europe that will sway his backbenchers; a position that speaks of repatriating powers, and perhaps of a potential referendum in the next parliament, given certain conditions.
One wonders what the 'wait 'till Dave gets in' brigade now thinks? As Johnny Rotten once said; "ever get the feeling you've been cheated?"

Monday, 17 October 2011

The Bleeding Obvious

I'm fully aware that I'm in danger of keep repeating myself, but the lack of any concrete proposals to resolve the Euro crisis one way or another means every day appears to be ground-hog day. Again this weekend there were reports of a €2 trillion rescue bid, a report that seemed strangely familiar from one in mid -September. Again there's disagreement between the Germans and the French on a resolution - and the Germans are back-peddling on anticipation of an agreement during next weekend's crisis meeting:

Spokesman Steffen Seibert said a "package" of measures would be agreed upon at the EU summit in Brussels this coming Sunday.

"But nevertheless, the chancellor reminds [everyone] that the dreams that are emerging again, that on Monday everything will be resolved and everything will be over will again not be fulfilled," Seibert said.

Yet the markets are acting (again) like they anticipate an agreement, despite experience to the contrary as the BBC's Robert Peston observes:
Something slightly odd is going on.

Markets are behaving as though European governments will definitely agree a rescue package for the eurozone next weekend and that the rescue package will sort all Europe's financial and economic woes.

But, by contrast, when I talk to ministers, regulators, bankers and investors they all say - which is a statement of the obvious - two things: that such a rescue cannot be taken for granted; and (perhaps more importantly) that whatever is agreed will not solve the eurozone's fundamental problem.
What's noticeable is that the tone of language used to describe the crisis is getting darker, Peston talks of possible Armageddon:
To state the bloomingly, bleedingly obvious, a domino effect of collapsing banks, triggered by their inability to borrow because of creditors' fears that the banks could not withstand sovereign defaults, would be the kind of Armageddon that would obviously be better averted.
Even the hugely Euro- sympathetic Independent talks of possible meltdown and the return of a Great Depression:

The rush to unwind would create massive doubts over the health of individual institutions, leading to a drying-up of credit. Lending would collapse, bankruptcies would soar and co-ordination among European policymakers would be nigh-on impossible to achieve. We would face financial anarchy on a scale big enough to throw Europe – and much of the rest of the world – into another Great Depression.

So we need a solution. And it's a solution that must accept collective responsibility. The north may want to blame the south but that is the wrong strategy. In the event of a euro meltdown, the northern creditors would suffer as much as anyone else. Berlin and Paris will now have to take political risks to come up with a solution. But it's better to take political risks – including a sharing of the burden between creditors and debtors – than to face monumental economic failure.

The concerns of a lack of solution is echoed by a fine piece in the Telegraph, in which Liam Halligan rightly concludes that there are only, in essence, two options:

There really are only two coherent endgames, the first being that the euroland moves rapidly towards a fiscal union, the eurocrats’ dream. The prospects of that being successful are zero. Anyone who thinks otherwise knows nothing about European history and even less about contemporary politics.
The only other durable scenario is...

...that the euro, in as orderly fashion as possible, is broken up. That, in my view, is the “something” now required, before this grotesque monetary experiment causes not just economic stagnation, or even a global financial meltdown, but fully-blown human conflict.
Both of these options for different reasons are unpalatable; the first is particularly to the Germans and the second is to the EU. So what is happening is a game of trying to 'magic' a third solution which doesn't exist. Cue another round of weak proposals, superficial announcements, market turmoil and the lack of any coherent strategy. But time is running out fast.

We're sleep walking into a chaotic collapse of a major currency - the results of which will cause social and politician outcomes that don't even bear thinking about.

The solutions are obvious, and the results of failure to implement solutions are obvious. I make no apologies for continually trying to point them out. I do not want another "fully-blown human conflict" on the European continent.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Blue Badge Rebellion

As Richard North superbly illustrates, one of the Achilles' heels in how our country is governed is the way our local councils are funded - remove their revenue stream and effectively we put them over a barrel :
That people are reaching the limits of tolerance is illustrated by events in Wiltshire where a downturn in car park income has triggered the classic (and economically illiterate) response from the local council. It has put up charges to make up its income shortfall, the effect of which – according to local traders – has driven business away.

Such is the level of protest here that the council leader has not ruled out a U-turn at a full council meeting on 8 November, again illustrating how, when expressed at a local level, people power can have an effect.
Like all councils, the ones in the county where I live - Oxfordshire - are having to find significant savings. Funnily enough it comes as no surprise that any savings won't come from salary reductions or other costs (my emphasis):
We are an equal opportunities employer and we offer generous holidays, training and development opportunities, a final salary pension scheme and a wide range of family friendly policies and working patterns.
I lost my final salary pension scheme (like may others in the private sector) over 5 years ago. Nevermind, despite the desperate economic situation the public sector tries to continue as normal. Instead any savings will come from services:

LIBRARY users have expressed scepticism that the service in many Oxfordshire communities can be saved from closure by using volunteers.

They claim the plans revealed by the county council last week could mean Oxfordshire will be robbed of a modern library service.

As usual it's the vulnerable that are picked on first. This is made explicit by numerous councils attempting, among other measures, to introduce parking charges on disabled drivers:
A SUPPORT worker has called on Cherwell District Council to reverse its controversial decision to charge disabled blue badge holders to park.
My local council, in Oxfordshire, has put forward similar proposals this week.

This is a rather mean-spirited policy, which has been adopted by numerous other councils. However in the race to increase the revenue stream whilst trying to maintain the expenditure this is where the economically illiteracy comes in. The council won't make any more money from this and here's an example why.

Mrs TBF is partially disabled and as such is a frequent wheelchair user - she is unable to walk more than a few yards. As a consequence she is a blue badge holder which means she is entitled to, obviously, use disabled parking spaces. However also under the blue badge scheme this condition applies (my emphasis):
Badge holders may park on single or double yellow lines for up to three hours but in general not where there are restrictions on loading or unloading – indicated by yellow kerb dashes and/or signs on plates. (You may wish to check whether a particular local authority has chosen to exempt Blue Badge holders from this restriction.)
So fine, charge disabled drivers for parking spaces, they'll just legitimately park on yellow lines - free of charge - instead and much more besides.

Friday, 14 October 2011

On The Rack

It's nearly 2 years since I started this blog and in truth I never thought I'd last this long. Many times I've had moments like the superb Calling England and thought of quitting. But for one reason or another here I still am.

When I started I took the view that I wouldn't have many 'rules' and those that I did have I would make up as I went along. My basic rules, which I've largely stuck to, include; try to link to as many independent blogs as I can, always 'hattip' when appropriate and above all never link to Guido Fawkes - he doesn't even appear on my blogroll.

I have a number of reasons for not linking to Guido. Despite all his protestations of trying to bring down MPs, and being a libertarian, and so forth he's actually part of the system. He has no intention of changing a system that his blog depends upon - in effect he has become a useful safety valve for them. As a result his head is far up the MSM's rectum and this was much in evidence during the Damien McBride affair. When the emails were leaked to Guido, he didn't have the courage to publish them on his own blog, despite it being hosted abroad as he is fond of telling us, instead he gave them to the MSM - the Sunday Times and News of the World. So apart from receiving some emails and passing them onto newspapers I'm not sure what Guido's 'very important' role was?

He also fails to appreciate that we are no longer a self-governing nation. As an example he began a campaign to bring back capital punishment. Whilst an important debate with strong views on both sides, this is a policy that we are unable to re-introduce if desired whilst remaining members of the Council of Europe and the EU. However, despite this small detail being pointed out to him several times, he simply refused (or failed) to acknowledge the 'elephant in the room'. A pattern of behaviour that replicates the MSM.

Above all, my main objection is that he hardly ever links to other bloggers outside the Westminster circle of Conservative Home, Ian Dale and the usual suspects. So it is with some irony that we see this post - titled "Dead Tree Press Missing Click Tricks" from him yesterday (I'm not linking to it):
...newspapers like to pretend they are the font of all knowledge and will rarely acknowledge other sources. Guido is used to being referred to by newspapers as a mysterious unnamed gossip website whenever we are leading on some scandal the papers are too timid to touch.
Maybe that's true however...

In the case of our friendly commercial rivals at the Mail and the Telegraph we can only presume they don’t get it. In the last month for every reader referred to this blog by the Mail, Guido sent them 14 readers, for every reader sent by the Telegraph website, Guido sent them 12 readers. This asymmetry is counter-productive, Guido suspects they still have the print mindset, where a paper is held by the reader and holds onto the reader from cover to cover. Online the readers know the next story is really just a click away, anywhere and everywhere.

All the research suggests that linking-out doesn’t just give readers a better service, in increasing the utility to the reader websites get more traffic when they press the back-key to return, you don’t lose many. The Spectator is the biggest referrer to Guido followed by ConservativeHome, we in turn send them a fair chunk of traffic in return. Linking works in our mutual interests.

A demonstration of truly astonishing lack of self-awareness. He has become infected as a result of being in the 'Westminster Bubble' with his own self-importance.

It's the reason why, to me, that his blog often feels like reading about the internal squabblings of the Pylon Appreciation Society whilst he ignores the looming energy crisis.

No Surprises

It didn't take long for Cameron's much vaunted so-called 'referendum-lock' to be called into action and guess what, we won't get a referendum:

A Government statement to MPs yesterday made clear that no national poll will be held in Britain over plans for a £380billion emergency fund designed to support Greece and other debt-laden eurozone nations.

Some MPs believe the establishment of the European Financial Stability Mechanism, which requires changes to the EU constitution, should trigger a vote in the UK under the Coalition’s so-called “referendum lock” law.

But Tory Europe Minister David Lidington said the proposals did not need to be ratified by a referendum in Britain because only nations in the euro currency system were affected.

Cameron's referendum lock proposal was always bollocks, now we can see it in action. One wonders how long it will be before the Tory party wake up.

Update: Just seen via Witterings from Witney that Douglas Carswell is similarly unimpressed

Thursday, 13 October 2011


In August I received, out of the blue, the following letter dated 4th (scanned in, click to enlarge) from Oxfordshire County Council:

And the back of the letter...

In summary the key quotes are:
It has come to our attention...that the above light [side of my house] is being obstructed by a shrub, which may be growing on your property and overhanging the highway boundary ...under the Highways Act 1980, and for the safety of the public, we have to maintain full operation of street lights and this includes unobstructed illumination of the highway. is the owner's responsibility to maintain vegetation to meet this requirement.
Guess what's coming next?
Please notify me within the next 14 days....whether you will be able to carry out this pruning work...
If you are unable to, or we do not receive a reply within the next 14 days, we will arrange for the work to be carried out by our Contractor and may seek to recover the cost from you.
Seek to recover costs? Unfortunately - for Oxfordshire Council - the tree / shrub does not reside on my land, according to my deeds, so I sent the following email clarifying that in response (click to enlarge):

Since my email; arguing that the tree / shrub does not grow on my property I've had no further response from the council. And this is the tree / shrub, in question, over 2 months later (taken today) - still uncut:

Funny how - when they thought it grew on my land - it was urgent and contrary to the Highways Act 1980 and I was given 14 days to sort it out or else I'd incur charges. But when it turns out to be their that's a bit different.

Hmm I sense a FOI request in the making.


A word that has up to now only applied to the mounting Euro crisis, is more and more being used to describe the growing political EU disobedience, It's becoming pretty clear that the EU political class is running scared. As an example here's the Guardian on the Slovakian 'no' (my emphasis):
As the dust settled after Slovakia's rejection of the euro bailout, politicians all over Europe were trying to figure out how a tiny party with just 22 MPs and only 300 members had managed to put such a spanner in the works – a feat that had eluded far bigger eurosceptic parties in the other 16 eurozone countries.

The soon-to-be-ex-prime minister, Iveta Radicova, was in no doubt that it was the fringe Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) party, a member of her own ruling coalition, that had sabotaged the bill and caused the government to collapse. In an ill-tempered press conference following Tuesday night's vote, she railed at the "irresponsible" and "populist" politics of the SaS, which she said had failed to realise that "we are a small and export-oriented economy, and we need partners around us".
Slovakia will undoubtedly pass the bailout measure eventually, as predicted, but what is significant is one by one democratic EU countries, such as; Finland, Germany and Slovakia are starting to say no to Europe:
Slovakia’s cry of defiance has not been entirely pointless. Richard Sulik – the speaker of parliament – has caught a mood of popular disgust that goes far beyond his own country.
The flawed EU 'not even God can sink this' ship has hit the democratic iceberg.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Roger Helmer Resigns

'Europlastic' Tory MEP Roger Helmer has announced his resignation from the European Parliament, the reasons he gives are:
But it would be disingenuous to deny that my decision is dictated in part by my increasing disillusion with the attitudes of the Conservative Party. I am finding it ever more difficult to defend the policies of the Coalition, not only on my key issues of Europe, and of climate and energy, but on a range of other matters besides.
I think a congratulations and a special mention to the dogged efforts of Autonomous Mind is in order here, who, in no small part, has consistently made Roger's contradictory position more and more difficult to defend.

One would like to think that Roger at last has found some principles, but then we're reminded that he's nearly 70, he's been an MEP for over 12 years (for a party whose enthusiasm for the EU is obvious) and he now has a nice EU pension to look forward to, to ease the pain of 'retirement'.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Quote Of The Day

Slovakian Parliamentary Speaker and SaS leader Richard Sulík:
“I’d rather be a pariah in Brussels than have to feel ashamed in front of my own children,”

Don't Look Down!

As expected, Greece has missed its targets:
In the fiscal area, the government has achieved a major reduction in the deficit since the start of the program despite a deep recession. However, the achievement of the fiscal target for 2011 is no longer within reach, partly because of a further drop in GDP, but also because of slippages in the implementation of some of the agreed measures.
...but despite previous claims to the contrary, surprise surprise Greece will still get the next tranche of 8bn euros:

The EU, IMF and European Central Bank say Greece is now likely to get 8bn euros (£7bn; $11bn) more bailout cash.

It came as they said Greece's fiscal target for 2011 was not achievable.

"Once the Eurogroup and the IMF's executive board have approved the conclusions of the fifth review, the next tranche of 8bn euros will become available, most likely, in early November," a statement said.

Meanwhile it's not long now until Slovakia agrees to its share of the bailout. The Euro is a wonderfully unique experiment in trying to defy the economic laws of gravity.

Wrong Answer, Vote Again

Slovakia is the last country to approve the July bailout for Greece (yes we're still on that one), the vote is due today.

Despite strong public Slovakian opinion against their contribution to the woefully inadequate bailout fund (even the above Slovakian beer commercial mocks the Greeks), we wearily see their politicians adapt the usual tactics to get the vote passed:
"I announced to my coalition partners that I will tie today's vote on our future in Europe with a confidence vote," Radicova said in a decision that follows deadlocked talks in her four-party coalition on expanding the fund.

"It's unacceptable for a prime minister to allow the isolation of Slovakia," she told reporters after the liberal coalition Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) party insisted it would vote against the crucial euro area deal.

"I'm sorry our coalition partner did not accept an offer of a possible compromise," Radicova said, adding she hoped the changes to strengthen the European Financial Stability Facility could be salvaged with opposition support in a repeat vote.

"It's my great wish to have a successful vote today but if it's not successful, we'll have to hold a repeat vote," said Radicova.
It's the classic; "it's vote of no confidence in the Government, we'll be isolated, we'll vote again if it's the wrong answer" kind of bullying when it comes to EU matters


Lord Hesketh becomes the latest Tory peer to defect to UKIP after becoming disillusioned with Cameron's policy on Europe. According to Patrick O'Flynn "there will be others".

It seems at least some of the Tory party are waking up to the failings of their 'wait 'till Dave gets in' strategy. Better late than never I s'ppose, but they can't say they weren't warned. Cameron was only ever destined to follow the actions of his predecessors - more EU integration, like John Major who still thinks we can have 'a looser kind of Europe'. This from the man who did precisely the opposite. Major's contribution to the Tory party was to instigate its collapse, lead to the birth of UKIP and ensured that the Tories have never been elected since the Maastricht treaty was passed.

Some legacy, and Cameron is continuing in Major's 'fine' footsteps.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Solution To The Euro Crisis? Women Should Shop More

This is Janet Daley in the Telegraph's advice on solving our current economic woes:
So the least mentioned factor in these formulae for growth is the most critical one. It is not the banks, or the corporations, or even the small and medium-sized enterprises so beloved of politicians that can save us from catastrophe – it is us [women].

And for households, read women. The decisions about how much household income is spent on a day-to-day, week-to-week basis – and on what – are overwhelmingly in female hands.

So it is not just Conservative electoral prospects that are damaged by the Government’s inability to connect with women – it is the economic future.
Now, while rather bravely steering off onto a slightly sexiest path, my experience of women shopping is a little different to that described by Janet. It instead goes something like this:
  • Mrs TBF disappears off for the day with friends, 'shopping'. I, meanwhile, have a quiet house to myself.

  • Hours later Mrs TBF returns, looking quite pleased with herself, holding lots of oversized paper bags with cord handles, emblazoned with names on them I don't recognise.
  • So we have the parade - for my benefit, not sure why though - and it consists mostly of shoes. "Aren't they great?" She says.

  • "Wonderful", I reply, "how much?"
  • "Oh they were a real bargain - they were 40% off".

  • "40% off what?" I innocently enquire

  • "But aren't they gorgeous?"

  • "If you say so, but 40% off what?" I innocently enquire (again)

  • "Well they are expensive new"

  • "Right so it's 40% off expensive? How much did you really pay"

  • *cough* "£300, but you went to football last week" She says accusingly.

  • "not for 300 bloody quid I didn't".

  • "Ah it doesn't matter, I put it all on credit card" She concludes.
And this is Janet Daley's answer to the economic crisis - more debt.

Meanwhile the EU has another plan to deal with the Euro crisis, but no details are yet forthcoming - which really means they still don't have a plan. Nevermind, it's nothing that buying a few shoes can't solve.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Bankrupt Greece Buys Tanks

Via Ironies Too, it's being reported that soon-to-default Greece has bought US tanks, 400 of them, at a cost of €3.2m each. Given that Greece is not under threat of invasion, certainly not from the EU (you and whose army) what does it need tanks for? And where did it find €1.3bn from?

It seems a rather sinister move, given that Greece is getting ripe for a coup d'état. Dark days are ahead.

One thought, if Greece falls to a military dictatorship, will the EU kick it out because it fails the 'democracy test'?

Update, Richard North has in the comments kindly added important information:
The report is based on a miss-translation - the original refers to an upgrade of the existing fleet, purchased by the Greeks in a deal negotiated in 2001.

No prices were mentioned in the original report - just letters of intent. The work has not been done, with the options of basic refurbishment and capability enhancement.

This version of the Abrams, with a fuel-hungry gas turbine, would in any event hardly be suitable for civil disorder/coups ... they would run out of fuel mid-morning, just idling in Independence Square.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Beware Of Conkers

While waiting this afternoon for Mrs TBF to have her hair cut, I popped over to the local watering hole: a 16th century inn with low wooden ceiling beams, cobbled paths and uneven floors.

Apparently though, as the copious signs posted around the pub make clear, this is the biggest problem:

When will this country grow up?

Voters' Concerns

One of the most common arguments proposed against an EU referendum (particularly by Tories) is that not enough voters 'care' about it according to opinion polls:
Nick Boles told a fringe event that he would only engage with the issue when it became one of the top five issues of concern to people. Brandon Lewis MP echoed the point at IPPR’s own fringe. Meanwhile, Ben Page from Ipsos-MORI explained that Europe was one of the least important issues for British voters concerning well under 10 per cent of voters.
Leaving aside that the usual top ten issues, particularly immigration, all have an EU element to it, which politicians cover up to absurd levels, there is also another issue which never comes anywhere near the top of voter's concerns either:

Can you guess what it is? Funny how that, in contrast, it gets far more prominence and coverage despite the fact that voters' don't give a shit.


I've just had a bit of an eventful night. At about 5 this morning I performed my first citizen's arrest (sort of) for a crime that was rather bizarre.

Initially I had got out of bed to visit the bathroom. Whilst in there I could hear lots of gravel scraping sounds coming from outside. Thinking that a pesky pigeon was having a bath in my guttering I quietly opened the window, only to see two hooded figures in my neighbour's front garden. They were picking up handfuls of gravel and putting it into a rather large bag that was nearby.

I immediately awoke Mrs TBF (who was not amused) for her to phone Plod and, putting on a dressing gown and trainers, I ventured outside. They didn't see me coming until the last minute where upon they tried to run off. One got away but I managed to trip up the other one and when he fell I promptly sat on him.

Amazingly, the Police response was impressive, two plod cars turned up in under a minute and a half - which is just as well as sitting on a Polish (I think) chap in the middle of the road wearing only a dressing gown at 5 in the morning was getting a tad cold.

Naturally all the commotion and blue flashing lights woke half the street up, who being inquisitive emerged from their homes to see what all the fuss was about, some of whom I never spoken to before - it's one way to meet people I suppose.

So I apprehended a thief, met some neighbours who I haven't spoken to before and got a free beer from my neighbour out of it. Not a bad night's work.

But it still prompts the question, why gravel?

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

21 Days And Counting

As regular readers will know, TBF is looking forward to the latest Tintin film (released 26th October). Here's the latest trailer:

At least it takes my mind away, temporarily, from thoughts of our broken democracy - as illustrated by Quentin Letts in the Daily Mail on the irrelevance of party conferences.

Speech By T-Shirts...

The kindest comments, apparently, of Cameron's speech today concluded that it was underwhelming:
“He’s got a very bad throat,” one Cabinet minister said to me, to explain why David Cameron had given such an underwhelming speech at the party conference. It started badly, with poor overnight briefing, a hurried re-write and ended with weak delivery to a three-quarters full conference hall.
And this was one of the lines in his speech:
"It's not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog."
Oh dear oh dear, a speech scripted by T-shirts.

Things Can Only Get Much Worse

The Eurozone sits on the edge of collapse with the usual chaotic and rudderless lack of leadership from the EU on how to fix the crisis. The EU first indicated that a European banking rescue, as demanded by the markets, was on the cards and now EU Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn has denied it.

So what have the Tories to say about this looming disaster on our doorstep? Well they're too busy squabbling over the Human rights act, squabbling over a referendum on the EU, effectively admitting that there will be no repatriation of powers (if that were ever possible) and criticising someone else for not holding a referendum.

Then Prime Minister tops it all off by suggesting that the solution to the current crisis is for everyone to pay off their credit cards. As Richard North says, Cameron is not even in this galaxy.

Now the Telegraph writes:
It's now being reported that the Prime Minister won't be telling us all to pay off our credit card bills in his speech at the Tory party conference this afternoon, after the idea got a fairly terrible reception this morning.
Oh FFS! The Eurozone, and possibly the world economy, is on the brink of the abyss, Greece is ripe for a coup d'état and this is the best the Tories can do? It is draw-droppingly pathetic.

We really really deserve much better than this.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Quote Of The Day (part II)

You really can't make this stuff up:

hattip: The Talking Clock twitter.

Quote Of The Day

From Zerohedge twitter:

What a farce.

Fingers In Ears

Pretend you're the EU (yes yes I know). You insist that Greece will meet the terms of its bailout conditions, and confirm that you won't lend any more money to it if it doesn't (from Sept 2011):
BRUSSELS (MNI) - Disbursement of the next tranche of EU-IMF bailout aid for Greece cannot be guaranteed unless Athens meets all the conditions agreed, Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the Eurogroup of EMU finance ministers, said Wednesday.

Greece has made "enormous efforts," Juncker acknowledged, but Greek authorities "must know that they have to respect the objectives defined by the Eurozone."

"The conditionality is of primary importance," he said. Before the next disbursement of loans to Greece in mid-December can be decided, "it is necessary that all the conditions defined by the Eurogroup be respected."

"If this is not the case, it is not guaranteed that the transfer of the next tranche of aid can take place," he added.

Then, whoops, Greece says... er... we can't meet the targets:
Stocks took another hit Monday after Greece admitted it won't meet its deficit reduction targets
So what to do, what to do? Well easy, fudge it and carry on lending:
Eurozone finance ministers gave a clear indication they were preparing to paper over Greece’s failure to hit international lenders’ mandated budget targets for 2011, saying they would now evaluate Athens’ performance based on goals that combine both this year’s and next year’s finances.

The decision came a day after Greek finance minister Evangelos Venizelos acknowledged Athens would miss the 2011 benchmarks, which the European Union and the International Monetary Fund had set as a prerequisite for disbursing an essential €8bn bail-out payment that is already past due.

By combining 2011 with 2012 targets instead, the EU appeared to be preparing to fudge this year’s missed benchmarks, paving the way for the closely watched aid payment, which Athens says it needs in a matter of days or it will run out of cash.
But don't worry:
...senior eurozone officials warned they were likely to extract new concessions for 2013 and 2014 in the coming days before signing off on the new money.
Ah that's all ok then. Meanwhile in reality land, a European bank could be about to break-up, potentially the first casualty of Greek contagion:
BRUSSELS—Dexia SA's shares fell sharply for a second-straight day Tuesday, as Belgian Finance Minister Didier Reynders said the French and Belgium governments may act to help the troubled bank amid signs that it could be split up.

The troubled French-Belgian bank said in a statement after midnight Monday that the bank's large portfolio of legacy assets is hampering it structurally, following a five-hour emergency meeting Monday evening.
How's this EU-free conference going, Cameron?

Monday, 3 October 2011

Small Print Buffoonery

I've just had the obligatory free menu shoved through my door from Domino's - very overpriced for what they are - pizzas. One part of the small print regarding the Tuesday BOGOF deal intrigued me though:

"No coupon required. Please mention coupon when ordering."
Hmm how does that work then?

Sunday, 2 October 2011

It's My Ball, I'm Going Home!

A slightly humorous story for a Sunday evening courtesy of the Bradford Telegraph and Argus:
Eccleshill United were left in limbo as their home clash in Division One with AFC Emley was abandoned in the 88th minute in farcical circumstances.

Emley keeper Mike Clark was trying to run the clock down when he fumbled the ball over his own line under pressure from the Eagles’ Victor Balas.

A goal was awarded to make the score 1-1 despite Clark’s claims that Balas had handled the ball.

He refused to give the ball back to the referee to restart the game, was shown a yellow card and then ran off into the dressing rooms, with the ball, and refused to come back out.

Clark eventually returned to the pitch but still refused to hand over the ball to the officials or team-mates. The referee gave him another yellow card and the requisite red but Clark would not leave the field of play, at which point the referee abandoned the match.

Blah Blah Blah

For a party that has effectively banned discussion of Europe at their conference it's odd that they can't stop planting stories in the press talking about it before the conference even gets going. Patrick O'Flynn of the Daily Express seems to think this is because cabinet ministers are 'bricking it' about grassroots anger.

So in today's Mail on Sunday we get the following to appease the Tory Europlastics.:
A vote on Europe? Needless to say the piece confirms that the opposite will be true. I'm not going to bother to fisk the piece - it's effectively the same
ol' Tory Europlastic policy-by-numbers; a discussion on a referendum, a vote that won't be binding for the government and a government that has insisted that it won't hold an 'in or out' anyway. As confirmed by this piece in the Observer:

Hague's comments have just been verified by Cameron on the Andrew Marr show this morning; who argued against such a referendum by saying that he "knew what the British people wanted and that was to stay in the EU". The arrogance of his assertions are astonishing although come as hardly a surprise.

So the Tory posturing continues. But events have far overtaken their silly little outbursts. A dose of reality which is in today's Times (£):

The possibility of a second banking crisis looms large as France and Belgium battle to save continental lender Dexia and fears grow of a delay to the next bailout payment for Greece.
By the time Parliament gets round to their 'debate', the whole edifice of the Euro, and possibly the EU could've collapsed. The Tories really are irrelevant.