Saturday, 31 March 2012

It Took Its Time...

...But the Sun gets it:

CHANCELLOR George Osborne was yesterday accused of crumbling to euro judges by enforcing the hated Pasty Tax.

A European Court of Justice ruling meant he was under pressure to either slap VAT on all hot takeaway food or axe the duty completely.

In the case, a German won a bid to carry on selling grilled sausages without charging VAT.
Last night the Treasury admitted they had taken account of a number of court cases. Some Tory bigwigs reckon Mr Osborne will do a U-turn — a call made by The Sun's Who VAT All the Pies? campaign.

A Big Fix

Patrick O'Flynn in the Express today writes that:
 "Downing Street has finally awoken to the danger of losing support to UKIP – one poll this week had UKIP on seven per cent to the Conservative 33 per cent, with Labour way ahead on 43 per cent.
“Cameron’s chief pollster Andrew Cooper has realised, after a decade of advising there should be no talk about Europe or immigration, that these issues are important to voters after all and especially to potential Tory voters,” says the source. 
Despite Cameron's wishes to the contrary the issue of Europe is not going away, particularly regarding the Conservative party. So Cameron is trying to find a way to dodge pressure to leave the EU and to do that he's apparently planning a rigged referendum:
...let me assure you that slightly under the surface big things are happening. I was this week reliably informed that David Cameron is very seriously thinking about pledging to hold a EU referendum, either on the day of the next election or soon after it.
...the bad news is that he does not wish to hold the referendum the Daily Express and so many of its readers have been crusading for since November 2010. You see, Mr Cameron does not envisage anything so vul- gar as a straight question about whether Britain should stay in the EU or leave. Such a stark choice would, after all, mean him having to implement faithfully the result.

Instead he is mulling over holding an “indicative” referendum in which the people of Britain get to tell him their preferred “direction of travel” on matters European then leave him to sort out the details on their behalf.
In other words we would get the inevitable "repatriating powers question" which would win the vote and be phrased in such a way that allows 'cast-iron' to carry on as normal. And, displaying further contempt for the electorate and the seriousness of the issue, Cameron intends to hold the referendum on or around polling day in order to maximise the Tory votes. A mechanism therefore merely to prop up Cameron's position -  everything about it will be rigged for his benefit, the question, the timing, and the funds.

But there is hope, 3 years is a very long time, and Cameron is not a very good politician - so there's plenty more cock-ups to go yet particularly with Europe (if he's still PM). When he pretends to be Eurosceptic a la 'veto' it has a tendency to go backfire spectacularly. So if he opens that Pandora's box it has the potential to go all horribly wrong (for him).

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Benefits Of The EU?

The saga of 'PastyGate' rumbles on. Despite the VAT's origins in Brussels, what's intriguing (and not entirely surprising) has been the Tory response or lack of to damaging headlines.

A tax on food obviously resonates deeply, particularly after a budget that reduced the top rate of tax from 50p to 45p (my emphasis):
"This is basically a tax on the working man of Britain," she says, "and on the many elderly and unemployed people who come by here for a pasty every lunchtime.
"My hot pasties would go up by 50p from £2.75: for some people, that will make a big difference. I'm planning to put a sign up in the window: 'Hot for the rich, and cold for the poor.'"
But only a couple of years ago Cameron was desperate, as opposition leader, to 'decontaminate' the Tory brand: no issue was too cuddly to avoid and, acutely aware of his Eton background, he was eager to play down any thoughts that the Tories are for the rich - as his awkward interview with Andrew Marr in 2009 demonstrated.

Yet here we are with a tax which will hit the working man the hardest, and from Cameron et al there's silence. Osborne could have tried covering it up by saying it was all Brussels' fault - "we'll fight them on the beaches etc" even though we all know in reality it would be empty rhetoric as it so often is.

But no, instead they're prepared to take the electoral polling hit, prepared to scupper their next electoral chances and prepared to recontaminate the 'brand' (and once that sticks it ain't going anywhere). In short preparing to destroy their own party just for the sake of appeasing our EU masters.

All of which demonstrates very clearly who the EU benefits, and it certainly ain't us.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

An Uphill Battle

It's long been my view that a referendum on EU membership is far from a foregone conclusion and will probably put back the cause for years.

Over the last couple of days has further confirmed that view. Two stories have agitated the MSM to a great degree reflecting popular anger, however they are stories which also do not acknowledge the dead hand of Brussels that lies behind them. A trait that is very common.

Firstly there has been much consternation over the dramatic increase in Royal Mail stamps. But what's not mentioned is that many of the recent problems of the Royal Mail, including the dramatic rise in the cost of stamps, stem largely from EU Postal Directives - a point that was made here and expressed very clearly by a Government review of the postal services in 2008. See here, page 19 onwards. However in the MSM? Not an 'EU mention' at the time.

And secondly there's also George Osborne's extension of VAT for all hot food as per his recent budget. Now VAT is, as Autonomous Mind rightly says, an EU Tax:
This concerns the proposal in Gideon Osborne’s coagulation budget to impose VAT on hot take-out food.  Anyone with a modicum of knowledge about the governance of this country will know Value Added Tax is a European Union matter and that member states must impose a VAT rate – currently with a minimum standard rate of 15%.
VAT is one of the most obvious and long-standing EU interferences in our life. Therefore any major changes will almost certainly have the dead hand of Brussels behind it. And so it proves as Richard North demonstrates:
And there gripped the cold, mindless jaws of the VAT Sixth Directive, of which the ECJ had so cruelly reminded us. To their horror, HMRC have confronted their worst nightmare. If the fish fryers are selling hot food rather than services, and have to charge VAT on it, so does everybody else who sells hot food.

That is what the Sixth Directive says: you can't charge different rates of VAT on the same goods. If a member state charges VAT on some hot take-away foods, it must charge the same rate of VAT on all hot take-away foods. They must, therefore, all be charged at zero rate or the standard (higher) rate. And, of course, Georgie opted for the higher rate, taking in the (hot) puddings and pies.
The acknowledgement from the MSM? Er...nowt, nothing. Now, I've often wondered whether large scale omission of EU matters in our country by our MSM is due to laziness and ignorance or a deliberate 'conspiracy of silence'. A Twitter exchange today with Daniel Knowles from the Daily Telegraph suggests the former.

Daniel Knowles has blogged about the recent VAT changes, couching his piece in the classic, and politically self-comforting style, of Tories are rich and toffs:
This morning, the Conservatives have no such luck; for raising tax on Greggs Cornish pasties, George Osborne is described as a "modern Marie Antoinette". In its leader column, the newspaper says that "unlike Sun readers", he and his Cabinet colleagues, "don't worry how to pay for food, rent or petrol. If they ever have done, they certainly can't remember how it feels now". For a moment, I thought I was reading the Daily Mirror, or at least a Dan Hodges blog post.
Daniel misses the point of course, it's not the love of being a toff that is the reason but the Tory love of the EU that has led to this change. A point I mentioned to him on Twitter with revealing responses. Firstly we had the usual "No one cares about this because of the EU":

As I've pointed out before people do care about the EU because it affects the majority of the top ten issues that they care most about. But then Daniel is not even "sure this is an EU issue at all". FFS, call yourself a journalist? No of course VAT isn't, not at all. Then we get this:

Apparently the Sun doesn't mention the EU so that's all ok then? Because the Sun is the Oracle when it comes to all matters EU. But then...we get to the final flurry:

Let's remind ourselves that the self-proclaimed "Assistant Comment Editor at who writes about politics and economics" thinks Thatcher introduced VAT for ideological reasons. Oh dear, oh dear. I had moments of doubt whether he was taking the piss or being serious. But I've not a reply since when I highlighted his mistake.

And if that's bad enough then there's today's Daily Express. In 2010 the Daily Express ran with this front page below:

The Daily Express is the only British paper to openly advocate complete withdrawal, whilst the Daily Mail and the Telegraph still want in. Yet today's front Daily Express looks like this:

Despite two EU open goals, the Daily Express in the print edition does not mention the EU once regarding the price of stamps, nor (scanned here) on page 2 in relation to VAT on 'hot foods'

The Express has editorials on both matters:
SINCE the advent of the internet making the nationwide delivery of ordinary post pay its way has become more challenging.
Many fewer letters are sent these days so economies of scale are less effective than they once were.

The Royal Mail also has to cope with private competitors plundering the lucrative business despatch market, so the scope for subsidising letter delivery from other very profitable activities is also limited.

And yet the one thing that will hasten its decline is round after round of massive rises in the price of stamps. There is still a lot Royal Mail can do to become more efficient but it doesn’t even seem to want to try.

Not everyone is able to access the wonders of email and almost everyone does, on occasion, need to use the post.

That the organisation that ushered in the Penny Black should now be anticipating the £1 first class stamp suggests it has lost the plot.
THE revelation that Chancellor George Osborne cannot remember the last time he ate a hot pasty offers a rare political opportunity for Labour.
Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls would be fully justified in making some fact-finding trips to hot food takeaways.

Although by the looks of things he probably already has.

So the so-called Eurosceptic "we want out" Daily Express, even in their editorials, cannot bring themselves to mention the EU on issues which clearly agitate their readers. With EU friends like this who needs enemies?

Absolutely hopeless.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Safest Roads In Britain...?

...are... *drum roll* Swindon, which scrapped its fixed speed cameras nearly 3 years ago:
A Wiltshire town that decided to get rid of its speed cameras has the safest roads in Britain, a report has revealed.

Swindon, which scrapped its speed cameras in July 2009 to save on council costs and trial other traffic calming measures, has just two accidents per thousand registered vehicles on its roads - the lowest rate in the UK. The town became the first English local authority to decommission fixed cameras, although it decided to maintain mobile cameras used by police.

Swindon saw little change to the number of accidents after the cameras were scrapped, with no fatalities in the six months following their removal. 
Despite the scaremongering at the time and accusations by MPs of council leaders "playing politics with lives" the reality is that speed cameras have had little effect. But then they were never about road safety

Monday, 26 March 2012

EU - The Real Local Issue

hattip: Oh What Now!

The Real Thugs

Above is a picture of my view yesterday from my seat in the shithole more popularly known as Wembley, at the JPT final. A second visit hasn't changed my views of the place, particularly as it took over 20 minutes at half time to queue for the Gents' toilet, in a stadium less than half full, and far longer than it did in the old Wembley. Still that's £798 million worth of progress for you:
Football games were held on the pitch and visitors tested the 2,618 toilets - more than any other venue in the world.
On the right of the picture above is an example of copious blue coated so-called stewards that walk about the place 'keeping order'. Generally in football stadia stewards tend to have two kinds of colours - yellow and orange (Orange ones are the important ones apparently). However blue was a new colour - to me -  and on the back were the words; 'Response Team'. So not stewards then. Their attitude was no different though. By keep walking in front of the supporters, so obstructing our view, they were politely asked to stop - after all Wembley tickets are not cheap. The response was robustly unhelpful along the lines of; "tough we'll kick you out if you don't like it".

And previously despite the day passing off very peacefully, with warm weather and friendly banter between opposing fans sharing the same pubs, 'England's law and order' decided that wasn't acceptable, and so confiscated cans of beer from numerous fans outside the stadium (including from myself) and tipped it away down the drain, much to the delight of female police on horses.

One can only come to the conclusion that authorities are being deliberately provocative.


On many levels the 'cash for Cameron' scandal is rather predictable tedium, particularly when it excites the likes of John 'more chips than a McCain factory' Prescott. Much excitement in the Westminster Village ensures as one party criticises another while pretending they're squeaky clean themselves. Meanwhile the rest of us simply shrug our shoulders and sigh with very good reason "they're all the same".

However, it does allow us to indulge in a little schadenfreude as Cameron lurches from one crisis to another in just under a week. It's not just the toxicity of the scandal but that it personalises Cameron himself, not helpful when Labour has soared in the polls post-budget.

Laughably Number 10 is concerned because they consider Cameron as the Tories' greatest electoral asset:
This is one reason why No.10 will be particularly eager to dilute this story. They have always regarded Cameron as perhaps their best electoral asset. If he is tarnished, goes the thinking, then so are the Tories' electoral chances.
This will be the same Cameron that led the Tories to a massive 100 seat majority...oh wait.  It wasn't just any old election either. Labour were hugely unpopular, the Prime Minister was clearly unfit for office and there was a very strong 'anyone but Brown' vote. As open goals go...and Cameron's Tories fluffed it - big time.

If Cameron is the Tories' greatest asset, it speaks volumes for the quality of the rest of them.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Another Fine Mess

From the Sky twitter feed, above is apparently the front page of the Daily Mail tomorrow.

I've often railed on this blog about the lack of acknowledgement of the EU in this policy (and many others) and the churnalism of press releases. Slowly but surely though, whether it's through persistent comments online pointing it out I don't know, but the MSM are now reluctantly acknowledging the tentacles of Brussels. However never did I expect a front page headline like that in the Daily Mail after so long in denial.

Whether the headline stays like that after the first edition goes out I know not, particularly when a panicking number 10 starts making frantic phone calls.

Highly amusing though is the original story was obviously an attempt to distract the media from the continuing fallout of the budget. And now the 'bury bad news' item is coming back bite Cameron. If he stands up to the EU to appear Eurosceptic, he'll be supporting an unpopular policy. Yet if he caves in he looks weak in the face of the EU and his Government's policy is dramatically highlighted as being in complete disarray.

He really hasn't got a clue - what's the opposite of the Midas touch?

How Convenient?

I predicted about 2 months, but the minimum alcohol price story has reared its head after only just a month. So why so soon?

On a separate note, George Osbourne and the coalition have taken quite a kicking over the budget, particularly the so-called granny-tax:
The full extent of George Osborne’s stealth tax raid on pensioners was laid bare yesterday.

Around 700,000 people turning 65 next year will be hit the hardest – losing £323 annually with the end of age-related income allowances.

In all, the ‘granny tax’ will take £3.5billion from the pockets of more than 4.4million pensioners. Senior Tories have denounced it privately as the Chancellor’s biggest blunder.
So how convenient then that a perpetually announced policy that never materialises makes the headlines this morning.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

A Waste Of A Vote?

The following letter appeared in my local paper in the last week:
Sir, After Liberal Democrat Evan Harris’s third term in office as MP for Oxford West and Abingdon, a few of us felt that it was time to get an MP who would challenge their party occasionally and vote by their conscience and their constituents’ best interests and not toe the party line.
I am afraid to point out to those who made the same mistake as I did that his Conservative successor Nicola Blackwood has followed the line of so many before and voted to keep her party happy and not her constituents.

On February 22, the following motion was put before Parliament: “That this House calls on the Government to respect the ruling by the Information Commissioner and to publish the risk register associated with the Health and Social Care Bill in order to ensure that it informs public and parliamentary debate”.
The motion was put before MPs because the Information Commissioner thought that it was in the public interest for people to know what the Conservatives were trying to do with the Health and Social Care Bill. Nicola Blackwood voted against it.
So she is saying that the public should not know the facts about this Bill, which will affect every person in her constituency. How condescending. This seems too stupid and hard to believe, doesn’t it?

Since June 2010, she has never voted against her party once.If we wanted her to vote the party line, we would have asked for that. In fact, I have sent her letters saying that the only reason I voted for her was to bring a bit of youth into Parliament, who would vote for her constituents and follow logic. Some things never change and this waste of a vote will be out at the next election.
While I share some of his sentiments, there's depressing sense of naivety about them, which adds to the problem of our broken (and lack of) democracy.

It was pretty obvious from the outset that Ms Blackwood would toe the party line; she was on the Tory A-list, the constituency is next door to her boss's and at under 30 years old she has a greasy pole to climb first. Not even the fact that the constituency is a marginal is enough to concentrate her mind to put her constituencies wishes first, as demonstrated in the letter above.

Yet despite the letter writer's exasperation at a 'wasted vote' he takes comfort in the knowledge that; "...this waste of a vote will be out at the next election" - the implication being that he will partake in the election to vote against Ms Blackwood. But what's the point, who would she be replaced by? Dr Evan Harris probably and then the whole silly charade continues all over again.

The problem is that it's not Ms Blackwood that needs replacing but, as Richard North illustrates, the whole damn rotten system.

How Appropiate

The new Team GB kit for the Olympics has been unveiled and the main talking point is that the Union flag is all blue - eliminating red from the design.

Add in a few yellow stars and it would be perfect and wholly appropriate.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Left To Rot

I've touched on the scandal of the European Arrest Warrant before, and so it's reared it's ugly head again (my emphasis):
 A man facing extradition to Portugal to stand trial for a crime he was acquitted of nearly two decades ago said today his life has been 'turned upside-down'.

Photographer Graham Mitchell, 49, said he had been left 'terrified' by the prospect of being sent abroad to face charges he thought he had been cleared of.

Mr Mitchell was earlier this month arrested on a European arrest warrant to face charges of the attempted murder of a German tourist on the Algarve in 1994.

But Mr Mitchell and his friend, Warren Tozer, were in 1995 cleared of the attack on Andre Jorling, who was left paralysed from the waist down after falling from a 12ft sea wall.

British police acting on the arrest warrant issued by Portuguese authorities arrested Mr Mitchell at his home in Canterbury, Kent, on March 6.

British Police are effectively being ordered to arrest British citizens based on no evidence and on a double jeopardy case 18 years after the alleged crime was committed. Not only that they can’t even get the charges right.

The scandal of the EAW was instigated by Lib Dem MEP Sir Graham Watson MEP:
Yet again Sir Graham Watson MEP cannot resist telling the world that he is the man responsible for guiding the ill conceived and flawed European Arrest warrant through the European Parliament.

Indeed Sir Graham seems to be proud of his part in bringing about this legislation even though his enthusiasm is shared by very few others.

The European Arrest Warrant overrides centuries of British judicial tradition.
And has subsequently been supported by Nick Clegg:

Nick Clegg has argued that the European Arrest Warrant - a cross-border crime-fighting agreement heavily criticised by many Conservatives - "is indispensable" to the UK.

The deputy prime minister said co-operation was the "only means" of tackling drugs, smuggling and gangs.
It is also a situation supported by our judiciary, and, despite the fake protestations to the contrary, by our MSM by virtue of their support of EU membership.

We're being left to rot.

"What A Pathetic Legislature We Are"

Chris Bryant Labour MP tweets the following:

A sentiment that applies on so many levels.

It's also worth noting that Mr Bryant has voted "very strongly" for more EU integration.

Friday, 16 March 2012

A Very Gallant Gentleman

100 years ago today Captain Oates sacrificed himself to try to save his friends, with his last immortal words - the ultimate example of English understatement:
"I am just going outside and may be some time"

Thursday, 15 March 2012

The Many Not The Few

A week ago I purchased Dr Richard North's new book on the Battle of Britain which is a tribute to the 'many'. I reproduce my Amazon review here:
As Napoleon once noted: "history is a set of lies agreed upon". Historical events are often portrayed in nice neat categories with a large dose of `good old days' nostalgia chucked on top.

The reality much more often than not turns out to be very different. And so it proves with Dr North's superb very readable book here. The Battle of Britain conjures up evocative images of long hot days, soaring Spitfires and the bravery of the few repelling an anticipated German invasion. The truth though is somewhat more complicated and as a consequence far more fascinating. With rigorous research and analytical clarity this book redresses the balance away from the myth and towards the `many' who all played their part in the war; the RN, the Army, the Merchant Navy and notably the civilian population.

One of the main themes throughout the book is that the civilian population was in fact fighting a war on two fronts - against the Germans and against their own Government and Establishment. Many of the criticisms at the time would not look out of place today, the London centric newspapers (ignoring the rest of the UK, like Hull, which was being bombed relentlessly) an incompetent Government, the authoritarian nature and pettiness of Magistrates as over-the-top punishments were handed out for `dubious' non-offences, the reluctance to provide decent public shelters and the refusal to allow the use of Underground stations as refuge until the people took matters into their own hands.

This book is less a criticism of the `few' narrative, more a tribute to the millions of unsung heroes without whom we would have lost. It's also a reminder that the real enemy then (as is now) is in fact our own Government.

A very worthy addition to any bookshelf.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012


From Benedict Brogan at the Daily Telegraph:
To the Prime Minister’s mind, when the voters delivered an inconclusive result in 2010, they expressed a desire to see less politics, not more. What they wanted was for politicians to put country before party and to devote themselves to solving the nation’s problems, not to compete to score points off each other. Mr Cameron has a clear sense that his duty is to stay clear of politics as much as he reasonably can.
Whatever drugs Mr Brogan's on, I'll have some too...

Parish Notice

Blogger Governmentitus is back - at a new home. Well worth following.

Another Broken Promise

In his own inimitable style, Witterings from Witney sticks one up David Cameron. As he rightly points out Cameron has broken more promises than you can shake a stick at. He argues:
Some may say that it is unfair accusing David Cameron of breaking promises and that is, to a certain extent, true as all politicians break promises they make - one has only to look at the record of the last government. But Cameron is the 'politician du jour', he is the Prime Minister, he is the one talking about keeping promises - but he lies or, in parliamentary terms, he is being economical with the actualité. But then, aren't all politicians?
What's more damning though is more and more Cameron is being compared to Ted Heath. That's not a legacy I would be proud of if I were leader of the Tory party, but it's one that Cameron thoroughly deserves.

Well Chuffed?

If you're going to get a tattoo done as a tribute to your own football team, as pictured above,
Bit sore at the minute but well chuffed... least get the year that your club was founded right
Founded 4 September 1867

License To Be Free

For quite a while now I've not wanted to pay the BBC license fee. For reasons that are undoubtedly obvious to my readers, it's biased, unaccountable, and hits the poorest the most:
Yesterday in Hastings, a young single mother was tried for the same offence as mine. She had a baby in a pushchair, and I agreed with the clerk to let her case go first, so that she could get out in time to fetch her other children out of school. I can see no justice and no humour in a situation where people like her are punished, so that people like Ross can get his £6 million. 
I've long not wanted to pay it, I hardly watch much TV anyway, and as Witterings from Witney illustrates the BBC is no different to the rest of the MSM who can't get enough of constant daily nanny-style 'watch what you eat bollocks:
A diet high in red meat can shorten life expectancy, according to researchers at Harvard Medical School.
Despite the contradictions in an earlier article:
Iron is essential for our bodies to function properly, so it's vital to ensure you have an adequate intake from your diet.

The most concentrated dietary sources of iron are red meat and offal such as liver. Smaller amounts of iron are also present in chicken and fish. 
It often amuses me that the defence of the license fee is that it enables the BBC to produce quality programmes that would not otherwise be made. While the point about quality is debatable, it goes without saying that good television will always attract subscribers, if the quality is so good then why does it need the law to force people to pay for it?

Anyway the deterrent for me has never been the law nor the intimidation but Mrs TBF who, understandably, was reluctant to start an avoidable fight with authority.

But due to the purchase of a new Idiot's Lantern, and the imminent move to a new property that legal obstacle no longer exists - to Mrs TBF's satisfaction. I have now become a non BBC license payer.

Good riddance.

Friday, 9 March 2012


Apologies for the lack of posts recently - I am in the process of changing TBF towers. Meanwhile here's a spoof of the legendary computer game - Goldeneye 007 on the Nintendo 64, based on the James Bond film of the same name.

As anyone who's played it will appreciate, it's spot on in its satire.

Friday, 2 March 2012

Please Sir Can I Have Some More?

That we don't really run our own country as members of the EU is hardly a secret, nor particularly a conspiracy but a fact that is hidden out in the open - with bells and whistles on. Instead the subject of the EU is treated by the MSM and MPs rather like Voldemort from Harry Potter - he who cannot be named - it's better to avoid the subject because it's a little too inconvenient to tackle the truth and fight the problem.

Nothing illustrates this better today than Cameron in the Telegraph, first he was ignored:

And then he was 'heard':

Ah bless, poor Dave whinges that the EU ignored him and they had to reassure him that no they really did listen to him - and then told him to go do one (as the Treaty he supposedly 'vetoed' was signed anyway)

And so in a single day the whole concept of 'UK influence in the EU' and 'in Europe not been ruled by it' is comprehensively torpedoed below the waterline - the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland reduced to begging on his knees - please sir can I have some powers back? Yet still the MSM nor the Tories will see it - the impotency of our own country there in plain sight.

But, apparently we have more important matters to attend to like whether Cameron rode a horse or not. I note the horse in question has died and (probably) been sent off to a glue factory. I would suggest the same fate should befall Cameron, but given his history on promises the subsequent adhesive qualities probably won't come up to standard.