Thursday, 31 May 2012

"Greece Won't Leave The Euro?"

From the same chap who thought VAT was a Thatcher invention, we now have this
(hi Mum!) I'm going to stake what little credibility I have here: I don't think Greece will leave the euro. Not now and probably not ever.
I'm saying nufink...*

*Can I have a job writing for the Telegraph being paid to talk bollocks...?

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Fixed Parliaments?

With the Lib Dems enthusiasm for fixed parliaments (click to enlarge)

Nick Clegg: "Fixed term parliaments will have a profound effect" - Mon, 13 Sep 2010

“Establishing parliaments of fixed-terms is a straightforward, but fundamental, change in our politics. It is a simple constitutional innovation, but one that will have a profound effect.”

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has pledged the introduction of a five year fixed term parliaments will have a “profound effect” and lead to greater stability in the political system.
One wonders whether they think it's still a good idea now. As the saying goes; be careful what you wish for:

David Cameron's former communications chief, Andy Coulson, has been detained on suspicion of committing perjury during the trial of former MSP Tommy Sheridan.
The 44-year-old was detained in London this morning by officers from Strathclyde Police.
Mr Coulson gave evidence in December 2010 at Sheridan's perjury trial at the High Court in Glasgow.

The Streisand Effect

The superb Witterings from Witney has got himself into a little local difficulty over what appears to be a dispute on comments made on a 3 year old blog piece.

Despite the hugely flattering legal comments to WfW that his blog is read by a 'large world wide target audience' one wonders who would have noticed the comments otherwise on a blog piece that was written years ago, on his old blog. Well we have now...

Good luck WfW

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

The Great Pasty Man

Reminiscent of the villain StayPuft who bumbles about destroying stuff ad hoc in the film Ghostbusters: Ken Clarke - the Great Pasty Man...

Ken Clarke (the archetypical old Tory) decides... that a referendum is not only "silly" but that the interest of our membership of the EU is only the view of:
a few extreme nationalist politicians
This, of course, is not the view of an outsider but a cabinet member who was invited into Cameron's front bench team in 2009, and still the disillusioned voted for them in 2010. "Know a man by his friends" and then some...

And today Osborne has apparently retreated on the VAT on pasties and static homes. Naturally he has done no such thing as Bloggers4 UKIP point's out:
The pasty tax was to add 20% VAT to hot pastry products such as pasties and sausage rolls and the caravan tax was to apply 20% VAT to static caravans.  The "climb down" will see 20% VAT applied to pasties if they're served out of the oven and 5% VAT added to static caravans. Less than two months ago there was no pasty tax and no caravan tax, now we're going to have a pasty tax and caravan tax and this is being called a u-turn. 
What a surprise that the great retreat is a fudge. Yet in difficult times Ken Clarke says:
....the Coalition like all other western European governments would struggle to be re-elected if a vote was taken now. 
Perhaps he should note that the coalition wasn't elected in the first place - 2010 was a hung parliament, there's certainly no mandate for the current Government. But hey let's just bumble about, destroying stuff,  taking no notice of the electorate and carry on regardless.

The villainous Staypuft indeed - who still wants us to join the Euro - albeit fed with copious pasties.

Speed Cameras

Even though the trigger point was always reduced to catch more motorists;
“When you put a camera in, the number of speeders always reduces. Suddenly there’s no money coming in, so they drop the trigger speed from 38mph to 35mph to pay the bills,” says Reynolds. “What good did that do but alienate the public?”
And as soon as the Newbury by-pass opened, the speed limit was dropped from 40 down to 30mph on the incoming A4 - consistently used by commuter traffic - with very little notice. The Police knew they would catch lots of motorists one Monday morning because at the time, they choose a pub (pictured below) along the A4 for their speed trap, a pub which was noted for having a very large car park - so conveniently there was plenty of room to pull over copious motorists going to work early on a Monday morning:

...and Swindon is an experiment in proving they don't' work:
A Wiltshire town that decided to get rid of its speed cameras has the safest roads in Britain, a report has revealed.
...we now have this...

Still, it's about road safety don't cha you know?

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Being A Member Of A Club

One of the increasingly insidious 'benefits' of EU membership is a desire, largely because of a disconnect between the people and their government, to argue that the government should break the law, particularly where the EU (or the ECHR) legislates in areas we don't agree with.

Often comments on websites or when campaigning in elections consist usually of the following; "Why don't we do what the French do?", "why don't we tell the EU to get stuffed" or "other countries ignore the EU why not us?".

While such sentiments are understandable, they overlook a universal truth. Democracy is, or should be based on the rule of law, - the EU is part of our law and government - so we have a duty to comply.

Arguing for our politicians to essentially break the law leads us down a very slippery slope indeed ("I wanted our government to tell the EU to go do one - great - but now it's locked me up for 18 months without a trial, that's not fair")

Instead the answer is actually pretty straight forward - don't belong to the club. Belonging to any club is always simple, whether it's the EU, the WI jam making society or the East India Club:
  1. Accept and abide by the rules.

  2. Disagree with rules so change them from within.

  3. Or leave
So when it comes to our membership of the EU:
  1. Acceptance is the desire of our political class but they can't cope with being honest about the rules. So they lie. Instead they should put up or shut up.

  2. Changing the rules is never going to happen and is virtually impossible, despite Tory lightweights trying to pretend otherwise.

  3. So in the event of disagreeing with the EU (ECHR) and complaining about rules you can't change then that only leaves one option. Number 3.
 Which leads me neatly onto blogger Crash, Bang and Wallace:
So the European Court of Human Rights has once more trampled over our sovereign right to set our own laws – this time ruling to outlaw the extremely popular ban on convicts being able to vote.
Plenty of people would be delighted if the British Government simply ignored the ruling, and refused to pay any fines it might levy as a result. However, if the Government is really keen to ensure we obey the rule of law – even absurd Strasbourg law – then there is another solution.
Why not do as the ECHR asks, and abolish our blanket ban by allowing some prisoners to vote – but only those convicted of one very specific and very obscure crime which is unlikely to be committed and even more unlikely to be prosecuted?
A good example would be the offence of “Impersonating a Chelsea Pensioner” – a historic crime for which no-one is currently in jail. We would technically be ticking the box for Strasbourg, while in reality thumbing our nose at them.
If they can act ridiculously to thwart our intentions, then surely we can do the same in return.
 Or there's another solution...leave. When will people grow up?

What Isn't Said

The Spectator has an interview with Nigel Farage, on a subject that I commented on a previous post. However note another article in the same magazine and bear in mind the following quote taken from it when reading the post in full...
James Forsyth also provides an insight into his interview with Nigel Farage — who was keener to go the pub than eat — and his offer to run joint UKIP-Tory candidates at the next general election.

Engineering Flowchart

As someone who has just discovered the merits of WD40 for removing lots of blu-tack off a wall, I like this

hattip: Oh What Now


Aware as I am that my patience levels are less than normal at the moment, as I'm still currently still trying to move house and also to find a new job (what is it with house moving that brings out the tosser in people?)

I've tended to pull my punches on this blog where UKIP's failings are concerned, largely out of respect for the copious numbers of members who spend a lot of money and time fighting for a cause they rightly feel passionately about. But the above headline merely tempts me to comment that allowing my membership to elapse in recent months may not have been such a bad thing after all. What on earth does such an offer achieve? Not only is a referendum tactical suicide, but the Tories can never be trusted on any question on Europe and why attach yourself - limpet style - to a party that is destined to lose the next election anyway?

Thus it appears despite a lot of chatter not much has changed, and certainly for the foreseeable future UKIP ain't going to do much changing.

So I've amused myself by uploading BBC's Robert Peston's 'Great Euro Crash' video aired last week, which can be viewed in the side bar, before the BBC whisk it away never to be seen again. In the meantime I take comfort in the words of Mr Bennet;
"...don’t despair, it’ll pass; and no doubt more quickly than it should.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

EU Employment Law

Snuck into PMQs today is Cameron briefly mentioning "EU regulations" regarding employment law (along with the misuse of the term 'less' instead of 'fewer') about 2mins in:

Unsurprisingly though the rest of PMQ's between Cameron and Milliband is a fake dust up over laws they no longer have control over.

Still at least the whole charade keeps some (paid) people happy.

Wakey Wakey

From Tory MP Zac Goldsmith:

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Cameron's Europe Problems Just Increased

From the Telegraph (my emphasis):
The European Court of Human Rights upheld a previous ruling that a blanket ban on inmates being able to vote was unlawful.
However, the court signalled that the UK government could decide which prisoners should be enfranchised, meaning serious offenders such as murderers and rapists could be excluded.
Judges may even be handed discretion to decide which criminals are allowed the vote. The Government now has six months to comply with the ruling or face a raft of challenges and huge legal costs. 
I'm liking the way unaccountable ECHR judges are helping us to decide our own law. At this point I feel it's worth repeating a quote made in 1977 from former Labour MP Tony Benn in his diaries:
...I was a member of the first British Government in history to be informed that it was behaving illegally by a court whose ruling you could not alter by changing the law in the House of Commons. It was a turning point...

In A Pickle

In further evidence that Cameron, (and the Telegraph) would rather get themselves in an (Eric) Pickle than admit who really runs our country is the farce over the Beecroft report on employment reform. This is (another) EU occupied field which means such reforms were always nonsense as Richard North demonstrates:
In its usual self-important way, the Failygraph ponderously announces that "a document leaked to The Daily Telegraph shows that three proposals in the controversial Beecroft report were removed after being submitted to No10 before it was sent to the Business Department". 

Well, in this exclusive report we can reveal that the website has not leaked to the contents of Council Directive 2010/18/EU (above). Despite this, we can now reveal from looking at the website that it was approved in principle by the Council on 2 December 2009 (top) - Mr Brown's administration, I believe.

We can also exclusively reveal that we have looked at lots and lots of websites and, from documents seen by on those websites, we can reveal that employment law is an EU competence. Furthermore, we can reveal that, with this directive, parental leave (which includes provisions for flexible working) becomes an occupied field. 
Richard's sarcasm on the oxymoron that are the words 'Telegraph' and 'learned' in the same sentence is wonderful. Revealing it is too that the both Cameron and the Telegraph would rather look ridiculous and take the hit than admit the truth.

An Observation

Exhibit A

Foreign Secretary William Hague has called on bosses to stop "complaining" about the economy and work harder..
Mr Hague said: "There's only one growth strategy: work hard." He said the UK needed to "reorientate" itself, when it came to exports, towards expanding economies such as India, Thailand and Indonesia.
Exhibit B

The complaints that David Cameron looks too comfortable in his job are utterly mystifying. Would you rather have the workaholic Gordon Brown? Or some awkward, uncomfortable Ed Miliband figure? Or another of those driven, bullied-at-school types who are so much more common in politics than in the general population? Does anyone seriously imagine that Cameron would be a better PM if he didn't make time for evenings with his wife?

"The Euro Has Been A Massive Success..."

"Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened." - Winston Churchill argues Ken Daly, husband of former Tory MEP Margaret Daly in the Euro crisis discussion on BBC's Sunday Politics (West) show below:

One can only wonder what would constitute a failure - the bar must be set pretty high. But blinded by ideology, Mr Daly will cling onto his beloved project 'till the bitter end. And one imagines that when it all collapses he will be in a rocking chair somewhere, bitterly lamenting to anyone in earshot, that there was nothing wrong with the EU it was just implemented wrong.

The discussion, which begins circa 2:20 minutes in, also features Tory 'Eurosceptic' David Heathcoat-Amory - who currently has a book out titled; "Confessions of a Eurosceptic". Bearing this in mind it's interesting that despite being prompted numerous times by the presenter, not once does he explicitly argue for us to leave the EU completely. Instead he concentrates on Euro membership and its failings.

The argument to actually leave was made by Labour's former MP David Drew, who is also vice Chairman of football club Forest Green Rovers, (a club which banned burgers and other meat products last year at their ground). David Drew does correctly identify the disconnect between the people and politics because of the "power draining away to Brussels".

But Drew aside, the whole discussion had the air of arguments that haven't moved on in 20 years - riddled as it was with EU cliches. Note the constant references from the BBC presenter of "banging on about Europe" - I lost count of how many times this was mentioned, or that it is an 'obsession'. Spot also the irony as the BBC presenter says (with some feeling) that no-one cares about the EU - this during a programme on the issue because of the Eurozone crisis which is dominating the news.

As is usual, events are moving faster than politicians can keep up with them, as the Eurozone, and possibly the EU itself, balances precariously on the precipice of disaster, our MPs are faffing about over whether to promise some kind of referendum or not. They are so far behind the curve that not even binoculars are enough for them to see it.
This does mean however, there is one instance where we can emulate EU strategy - the beneficial crisis. As our MPs naval gaze and the Eurocrisis continues, we can use it as an opportunity to leap into the void and show a way forward. July 14th hopefully will produce the beginnings of that way forward.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

A Handy Stick?

Will Self is the living embodiment of a pompous arrogant elite and darling of the BBC, who thinks that using lots of big words makes him an intellectual above us mortals:
...the European Union represented one of the few examples in human history of the political classes of several nations acting selflessly and sensibly.

For myself, I had always been an enthusiastic pro-European and an unashamed believer in a federal European state. Like many English people of my tastes and proclivities, I rather fancied myself propping up zinc bars, sipping pastis and listening to the musical chink-clank of petanque.
I viewed an increasingly united Europe as a necessary counterweight to US world hegemony and Russian idiocy, while also being a handy cosmopolitan stick with which to beat the backs of uptight Little Englanders.

But times and opinions change: the continent's sixty year double-thinking reverie has turned the European dream into something of a nightmare: the quadriga's remaining obstinately faced to the East has resulted in an unfeasible extension of the EU in that direction also, while the attempt to reconcile national sovereignty with a single European economy has resulted in a bloated bureaucracy full of the wind of its own democratic deficit.

But times and opinions change? In other words, not that Mr Self will ever admit to it, he got it spectacularly wrong.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Will It? Or Won't It?

It would seem that the Euro is going through another of its periodic epileptic fits again, where much chatter resides on alleged major developments:
The European Union is working on an emergency Greek exit plan as the break-up of the euro looms, a senior Brussels official has revealed. 
That the euro cannot continue in its current form is pretty obvious - I just wish they would get on with it. So while we tire of the seemingly never-ending circus of crisis, it is inevitable that at some point a breakup or exit must come to pass - the tricky bit is gauging when.

So it's tempting, as it's a Friday - which is a good time to announce bad economic news or fundamental economic changes ahead of the weekend to prepare for Monday morning - to take this report seriously:
(Reuters) - De La Rue (DLAR.L) has drawn up contingency plans to print drachma banknotes should Greece exit the euro and approach the British money printer, an industry source told Reuters on Friday.
 However, according to Business Insider:
Is Greece Already Stepping Back From The Ledge?
A couple of new polls have the conservative New Democracy party leading, and a report in Ekathimerini suggests that New Democracy is shoring up its coalition.

The Greeks want change, but they don't want to leave the Euro, and if it looks like SYRIZA's leader Alexis Tsipras is overplaying his hand, and risking a GREXIT, then he may get punished.
In short no-one knows. Yes the Euro's flawed, and yes it will breakup but when is another question. My guess is Greece will still be in the Euro this time next week.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Quote Of The Day

From the Telegraph:
"One of [Cameron's] senior advisers says the PM spends “a crazy, scary amount of time playing Fruit Ninja on his iPad"
How reassuring...

Taxing (Part 2)

Perhaps in light of my comment on his piece (I don't know) Political Scrapbook has now amended his contentious Vodafone post so that any reference to tax evasion has now been quietly removed.

The piece is still inaccurate though, as various comments point out. It wasn't even tax avoidance; the Indian tax office had applied the tax retrospectively on a Vodafone deal and it was outside their jurisdiction to do so - a move that was found to be illegal according to the country's Supreme Court. So I'm not sure how abiding by a country's law amounts to a scandal.

Interestingly PS is up for awards - political blogger of the year. With such loose use of the facts and still be up for awards one can only assume next stop then is writing for the Daily Telegraph.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

My Big Fat EU Government

A spluttering Eric Pickles who struggles to give straight answers on red tape and growth:

hattip: Calling England


This from the prominent left wing blog Political Scrapbook:

(PS emphasis)
Vodafone’s top lawyer in India has quit after being tangled up in a four-year long tax evasion scandal. The row has seen the Indian government bullied by its biggest foreign corporate investor — but officials are not giving up on extracting $2.6bn from the company.
One suspects that Political Scrapbook needs to learn the difference between tax avoidance and tax evasion, or perhaps the loose interchange of the terms in the same article is deliberate...?

Tactical Suicide

In the Mail is more Westminister chatter of an impending EU referendum, this time from Ed Balls. Balls again confirms, as I noted here, that any talk of a referendum is solely based on partisan selfish political calculations rather than the national interest, neatly summarised by the arrogance of Hague:
However, [William Hague] declares that a referendum now on leaving the EU is the “wrong question at the wrong time
Wrong time for whom? And who is he to say when it's wrong?

Clearly then as the conditions for a referendum will be rigged then one should be avoided at all costs - we will lose - for reasons which are illustrated by a commentator on Richard North's blog which I reproduce here:
  • It’s unnecessary
    We went into the EEC in 1973 without a referendum, so we should come out without one (none of the party manifestos at the 1970 general election promised entry).
  • It won’t go the way you might think
    Not long before the 1975 referendum on continued EEC membership, opinion polls showed – as they do now – that people were 2-1 in favour of leaving. But when it came down to it only 21 per cent of the electorate voted to leave and, out of all those who actually voted, over 66 per cent voted to stay in. The result today would be the same and we'd again be cemented into the EU for the foreseeable future.
  • You cannot hope to win without at least some mainstream political support
    In 1975, Harold Wilson, the PM, and Margaret Thatcher, the new Tory leader, as well as the four surviving Tory ex-PMs campaigned for us to stay in. All party leaders would do so again today.
  • Unlike in 1975, no one in Cabinet supports withdrawal
    Before that vote, several Cabinet ministers campaigned for Britain to be independent – and it still didn’t help. Today, none of them would.
  • And you won’t get support from much of the press
    On the day of the 1975 poll, one newspaper’s headline warned of the aftermath of voting to leave the EEC: “A day in the life of Siege Britain: no coffee, wine, beans or bananas till further notice.” Perhaps surprisingly, that was the Daily Mail. It hasn’t changed its tune as much as you might hope. Its leader column on 14 March 2011 said: “The Mail doesn’t support a wholesale withdrawal from the EU.” Nor does the Telegraph. Only the much less influential Express does. If you can’t count on the Mail, your campaign is missing a key ally, one that would be as important as any of the three oldest parties – and none of those is on your side.
  • … or the BBC
    Do you trust “Auntie” to cover both sides of the debate equally and fairly on all three of its media platforms?
  • Big business would support the other side
    It long ago understood that it needs the EU’s permission for various activities and it also twigged that it can more easily absorb all the absurd regulations, which destroy smaller rivals. The electronics firm Intel, for example, gave hundreds of thousands of euros to the Irish “yes to Lisbon” campaign. Ryanair even flew an EU commissioner around the republic to campaign before the vote. After the 1975 referendum – when the yes side outspent the no side nine times over, as it would today – the yes side’s treasurer said: “Money rolled in. The banks and the big industrial companies put in very large sums of money.” They would do so again.
  • Propaganda from the EU would be torrential
    In the unlikely event of a vote, the EU would pump out one-sided bumf. Buckets of shiny pamphlets from Commission president Mr Barroso would spill through everyone’s door. A 16-page “information” supplement prepared by the Commission accompanied every Irish newspaper five days before the country’s 2009 Lisbon poll. (It had been funded by the very people it sought to influence and the EU was anyway acting illegally. Then under the Nice Treaty, the EU was a child of its signatory nations and it could not tell them or their peoples what to do regarding international treaties. It was illegal pester power, but the EU is above rules.)

    Recently, MEPs voted to grant themselves the “right to participate in such campaigns as long as the subject of the referendum has a direct link with issues concerning the European Union”. So people might also receive communications from the president of the European Parliament as well as hundreds of MEPs.

    Perhaps even the EU’s (and your) overall president, Herman Van Rompuy, might send you one of his haikus urging you to do the right thing.

    When voters have been lied to by people and organisations that they fund – the BBC, the European Commission, hordes of rent-seeking MEPs, the Church (an unholy number of bishops in the House of Lords voted for Lisbon), Her Majesty’s Government and Loyal Opposition, their newspaper, famous charities – no one should be surprised when the impressionable opt for EU membership. It’s happened before.
  • If the Lib Dems have ever offered it, you should be suspicious of it
    Between 2007 and 2009, the Lib Dems were touting an in-out referendum. Nick Clegg even walked out of the Commons when the Speaker wouldn’t grant him one. But when Labour MP Ian Davidson proposed a two-question referendum – one on Lisbon, the other in-out – Clegg realised that his bluff had been called and whipped his MPs to abstain. He calculated that people would probably vote to remain in the EU out of fear – but certainly would not endorse Lisbon, which he, a former Commission official and MEP, wanted to be passed.

    Later, the House of Lords rejected a proposal for an in-out vote tabled by Ukip’s Lord Pearson. The Lib Dem peers abstained. They said that they did not want to “give succour” to eurosceptics and that they wanted an in-out referendum only from a “pro-European stance”. 
  • If pro-EU MPs such as Keith Vaz want it, you should be suspicious of it
    The ferociously europhile former “Europe” minister, who was once suspended from the Commons, supports an in-out referendum.
  • Referendums tend to reinforce the status quo and so people vote to carry on as they are
    People opt for the known over the unknown, “to keep a-hold of nurse/ for fear of finding something worse” in Belloc’s poem. The result in 1975 declared that we should remain in the EEC. It was a “passive” vote; the country was not voting to join – nor, unfortunately, to leave – which would have been an “active” vote. The Danish no to Maastricht in 1992, the Irish no to Nice in 2001, the Danish and Swedish no to adopting the euro, the French and Dutch no to the Constitution in 2005, and the Irish no to Lisbon were votes against change. A vote on UK membership would probably result in yet another vote against change, as in 1975 (and in 2011 regarding AV).
  • Even if Britain voted out, it might be made to vote again
    Remember the countries that were forced to go back to the polling booth after their bouts of false consciousness: Denmark (1993 for Maastricht) and Ireland (2002 for Nice; 2009 for Lisbon)? Can you be certain that you wouldn’t be made to vote again until you came up with the right answer?
  • The turkeys will not let us vote for Christmas
    For us to get a referendum, our MPs would first have to vote to give us one, as they did in 1975 (and for the AV vote). If they’re prepared to do that, they might as well vote to repeal the European Communities Act; they know that that’s the wish of most of those calling for a poll. But they won’t do either. David Cameron has often said he wouldn’t introduce the legislation necessary to activate a poll. On that you can trust him.
  • The good news: there is a kind of referendum coming up
    You can vote to leave the EU. There will soon be a general election (long before there’s ever a referendum). If you want to leave the EU, don’t vote for anyone who wants to keep you in. If over half the MPs elected want the UK to be free, we will be free.

    It’s tempting – for reasons of tribalism or because “the others haven’t got a chance” – to vote for the three oldest parties. But doing so means that the most important questions – the economy, the health service, immigration, our energy supply, how we treat the environment and how we trade with the developing world – will more and more be answered by people in Belgium whom one cannot elect or eject. A vote for any of the "Big 3" is ultimately a vote to disenfranchise oneself, even if it feels seemingly rational to vote to remove the villain of the day (Major/Brown/Cameron etc).
Nor will exit make us any better governed on its own - it's far too gone for that. We need a movement.

Climbing Down On EU Bank Rules

We're so lucky to have a Eurosceptic Tory government led by Dave:

(Reuters) - Isolated in Europe, Britain has little choice but to back down on its demand for changes to draft EU banking rules it had called idiotic.

European Union Chancellors meeting on Tuesday will seek to agree rules on the capital that banks across the 27-member bloc must raise in order to cover their risks, a measure designed to avoid another financial crisis.
"Britain is now left standing alone and its reluctance to compromise has only served to strengthen the resolve of others to accept this deal," said one EU diplomat.
Despite being unable to win all the concessions it wants, there are signs Britain is ready to back down, according to another diplomat familiar with Britain's position.

Monday, 14 May 2012

That Cameron Project

Above is a clip from the BBC Programme; This Week, which was broadcast last week. The discussion relates to the disgusting grooming case regarding vulnerable young girls in Rochdale which has been widely acknowledged as having a racist motive:

Tory MP Louise Mensch, who takes part in the discussion is a fully paid-up member of the Cameron project, so it is with some amusement to see her discomfort in the clip above (watch her stroppy crossed-arms stance half way through - or even Alan Johnson's discomfort as Louise speaks) as she tries to hold the 'Tory political correct' argument line in the face of the onslaught by Will Self, Alan Johnson and Charles Kennedy.

Clearly Cameron and "Louise (I'm looking forward to climbing the greasy pole) Mensch" have got themselves on the wrong side of public opinion regarding crime and immigration as I noted here. But not that stops Cameron et al....they're far more worried about what the Guardian says than anyone else.

Still, the sight of a Tory being attacked from the right by essentially Labour figures is rather surreal, to say the least.

Sunday, 13 May 2012


While the rest of the Europe grapples with devastating austerity and the Eurozone crisis, one of the EU's most senior IT and Telecoms Eurocrats; Robert Madelin, had more pressing issues on his mind early last Friday morning.

Which single malt whiskey should he have?

Oban or Dalwhinnie? Decisions...

hattip: Berlaymonster

Friday, 11 May 2012

No Longer Free

I wanted to think Cranmer was on a wind up when I read his piece here. But no. In an almost rational-defying move by the Advertising Standards Authority it is investigating Cranmer for carrying an ad on his blog on behalf of the Coalition for Marriage, which I reproduce above. Apparently complaints have been made that it is 'offensive and homophobic'. 
Apparently there have been a number of complaints about one of the advertisements His Grace carried on behalf of the Coalition for Marriage. He has been sent all manner of official papers, formal documentation and threatening notices which demand answers to sundry questions by a certain deadline. He is instructed by the ‘Investigations Executive’ of this inquisition to keep all this confidential.

Since His Grace does not dwell in Iran, North Korea, Soviet Russia, Communist China or Nazi Germany, but occupies a place in the cyber-ether suspended somewhere between purgatory and paradise, he is minded to ignore that request. Who do these people think they are?
Quite. I'm not sure how Cranmer will reply to the investigation, I would be tempted to give the 'Arkell v. Pressdram (1971)' response.

Good luck to His Grace. And if anything it has at least convinced me that I need to move this blog away from a UK domain urgently - a move I've been mulling over for a little while.

Is An EU Referendum On The Cards...?

What has become noticeable recently is the marked increase in 'chatter' in the Westminister village that one or all of the bigger parties are set to offer a referendum, of sorts, on our EU membership. In large part it would appear that the threat of UKIP, particularly to the Tories, is prompting much of the momentum towards political calculations of offering a plebiscite on the 'European question'.

James Forsyth in the Spectator argues that one from the Tories is now almost certain, primarily because (my summary):
  1. ...Boris Johnson’s decision while campaigning last month to sign up to the campaign for an in/out referendum on EU membership could be a key moment in the history of the Conservative party. The real significance of Boris’s signature might come when he runs for the leadership, as he surely will at some point in the future. No rival could afford to give Boris the head start that he would have as the only candidate promising a referendum would give him. A commitment to give the public a vote on Europe will be the minimum price of admission for the next leadership contest.
  2. The Tory leadership is acutely aware that, after five years of compromises, it will need something in the next manifesto to fire up the base. Tory MPs in marginal seats complain that their pool of canvassers has been drained, and that, without action, the party risks a limited presence on the ground in these constituencies in 2015. A referendum on Europe is the obvious answer. It is one the leadership seems set to embrace. The popularity of Cameron’s EU veto [sic] made his circle realise how much of a political asset Euroscepticism could be, if used in the right way

  3. There is also concern in No.10 that if the Tories don’t offer the public a vote, Labour will.
  4. The Tory leadership’s worry is not that Ukip will win seats in 2015, but that the votes it claims in crucial marginals could make the difference between the Tories winning or losing
So in short it will be a wheeze to shoot Boris' fox prior to a potential leadership contest, to shore up the Tory vote, worries that Labour will get there first, and to protect Tory backbenchers from UKIP.

Labour also have good partisan reasons to be tempted by calling for an in or out referendum: it would outmaneuver Cameron on a subject he wishes to avoid, no doubt it would also split the Tory party and such a referendum promise would provide a poll boost. The latter consideration is being taken seriously as Patrick O'Flynn of the Express notes:
All the party leaderships are getting jumpier every week about whether one will secure a poll gain by breaking ranks and offering an EU ref
Notice, however, what's missing? Any pretence that this has anything to do with the national interest. Instead it's merely naked tactical positioning and political self-interest. Which doesn't bode well, to say the least, that a referendum when it happens will be based on anything other than very loaded dice in the establishment's favour. This is apparently from the Tories who wish to have a third 'renegotiation' option:
My understanding is that, at the moment, the favoured option is to propose renegotiation, followed by a referendum on the new arrangements within 18 months. During the campaign, the Tories would argue for staying in if new terms could be agreed but leaving if the rest of Europe refused to play ball. 
In other words they're going to fix it in their favour. We've been here before with Harold Wilson in 1975 on the then EEC prior to the last referendum:
"I believe that our renegotiation objectives have been substantially though not completely achieved"
We should be governed on our terms not theirs and we can only do this by power not by trust or hope - by them being servants not masters. The forthcoming Old Swan meeting is more important than ever.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

How Appropriate...

Today is the Queen's speech, on the same day as Europe Day - a coincidence I'm sure. Anyway to celebrate Europe Day, EU Council President Van Rompuy will take your questions.

Update: Just seen, Richard North compares the different issues being proposed between the UK Parliament and the EU one.

Picture nicked from Douglas Carswell 

Weak, Weak, Weak

The Mail has an exclusive interview today with Cameron where he wails that the Lib Dems are holding him back from things he would like to do:
Mr Cameron singled out human rights law, reform of workplace rights and support for marriage as areas where Tory principles are being held in check but urged senior MPs growing tired of coalition not to ‘waste’ the next three years.
And so continues the running theme that beneath that Cameron veneer is a real Tory waiting to emerge if only events didn't conspire against him. If only the Lisbon Treaty wasn't passed before the election he wouldn't have had 'to let matters lie there', if only he had won the election, he could have thrown off the 'cuddly Tory' coat and reveal his inner Thatcher, if only he wasn't 'forced' into a coalition with the Lib Dems, he could have done all those things he wants to do but can't. If only... The joke's wearing a little thin.

However it wasn't the Lib Dems that forced Cameron to detoxify the Tory brand which included aspirations of being the greenest government ever and to stop banging on about Europe. Nor was it them that meant Cameron reneged on a cast iron referendum promise, nor putting a 3-line whip on a petition for an in/out referendum, nor for Cameron to break his party's long-standing commitment to pull Britain out of the EU's Common Fisheries Policy in 2006, nor trying to 'bury the Right' by ditching Tory policies faster than the Lib Dems could list them in 2010.

But apparently he wants us to believe that it's now those pesky Lib Dems - who lost 5 seats in 2010, who only make up 16% of the coalition and who are rather reluctant for an immediate General Election - that are tying poor old Dave's hands. Perhaps Dave thinks 'tail wagging the dog' headlines will make him look Prime Ministerial and statesman-like. It doesn't, it just makes him look weak, shallow and unprincipled - a fitting and accurate epitaph to his Premiership.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Douglas "Judas Goat" Carswell

Carswell writes on his blog
One of the reasons I backed David Cameron to be party leader early on in his leadership campaign was because I wanted to see a different kind of Conservatism. I still do – and I’d vote for him to deliver it if there was a leadership contest tomorrow.
Even though Cameron is not:
...a secret patriot waiting for the chance to rip off his expensive tailoring and reveal his inner Thatcher. He is exactly what he looks like, an unprincipled chancer with limited skills in public relations".


Economic problems + Mass Immigration + Removal of people's democracy = A move to extremist parties:
A neo-Nazi party who advocate forcing immigrants into work camps and planting landmines along the border are today savouring unprecedented political success in Greece.

Golden Dawn party will enter parliament with 7 per cent of the vote after the electorate shunned the main parties who they blame for plunging the nation into austerity.

The obscure extreme-right group are one of the biggest winners in a poll which has plunged Greece into a fresh political crisis.
As UKK41 says it's depressing. It's also inevitable:
Asked if he worries about that prospect, Thomas Nikolaou, an unemployed mathematics professor, who until now backed Pasok, said: 
“This trick didn’t work now and it won’t work in the future. I voted for (the extreme right) Golden Dawn (party). I lost my job, I can’t feed my family and I have nothing else to lose. The only power I have is my vote and I will give it again to those who say no to this madness. 
“All I can think of is revenge against the politicians who destroyed my life and millions of others.”
So it's with deep irony that by trying to eliminate the nation state and democracy the EU will encourage precisely the very situtation it wanted to prevent.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Cameron's Great Plan

According to the Telegraph, Cameron is planning a fightback after less than impressive local results. It's called a 'Battle Plan' we're assured:
The Prime Minister will produce a series of measures that he hopes will give “red meat” to Conservative backbenchers, who are calling for action to appeal to their core voters after poor local election results.
And the measures via the Queen's speech apparently include:
  1. Make firing underperforming employees easier in an attempt to free up the labour market and create jobs.

    (Already been announced 2011)
  2. Extend flexible working to anyone with a job, in an attempt to overcome Tory unpopularity among women, which analysts warn could be a serious threat at the next election.

    (Already been announced 2011)

  3. Clamp down on crime with a new “British FBI”, tougher anti-social behaviour measures and community sentences.

    (Already been announced 2010)
  4. Not include a Bill on HS2, which is hugely unpopular with backbenchers. Nor will it contain measures to allow private universities, which had risked a damaging rift with the Liberal Democrat.

    Hmm unpopular with backbenchers? Or try here instead.

  5. Avoid legislation to set a minimum level of foreign aid spending, a plan that has been derided by rebellious backbenchers.

    (We've been here before)
The man's a deceitful, incompetent and hopeless tosser.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Quote Of The Day

Courtesy of Witterings From Witney:
It is sad that the situation presently exists whereby, we know [politicians are] lying, they know we know they’re lying, but they keep lying to us, and we keep pretending to believe them, because no system of democracy can last on such a basis – as history has demonstrated many times.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

All That's Wrong

Louise Mensch, aka another clueless Tory, has condemned "misogynistic" bullying by internet twitter trolls. And rushing to her defence is Donata Huggins from the Daily Telegragh who argues (my emphasis):
Agree or disagree with her, it is her job to appear on television and argue her case. It seems, however, that some people on Twitter do not agree. it isn't, Mrs Mensch's job is to hold the Government to account via Parliament, a 'job' she doesn't excel in.

Plain Packaging For Political Parties

As the 'excitement' intensifies for tomorrows local elections, I like this from BearWatch:

Can we also hide them from view as well?

Tuesday, 1 May 2012


Above is a screen print of latest Telegraph article regarding European Human Rights judges:
European human rights judges have blocked more than 900 attempts by Britain to deport foreign criminals and terror suspects in recent years. 

Official figures show that the European Court of Human Rights has thwarted more planned deportations by Britain than any other country.

The controversial “Rule 39” procedure was recently used by judges in Strasbourg to prevent Abu Qatada, the extremist cleric, being sent back to Jordan in case evidence obtained under torture was used against him.

It has also been used by Somali criminals and failed Tamil asylum seekers to remain in the country.  The new figures disclosed in Parliament have renewed calls for the Government to pull out of the court and so ensure that British court rulings are upheld.
It would help the Telegraph's case though, or indeed its diminishing credibility, if they showed the right building as the picture. The one in the picture above is the Strasbourg-based EU parliament - the tag underneath incorrectly says it's the "European Court of Human Rights building in Strasbourg". However the ECHR is not a part of the EU and the building, instead, looks something like this:

Which ironically is the icon at the top of the report the Telegraph links to (just to give them a clue). No wonder the MSM support membership of the EU when they can't get the basics right...


It maybe me but I'm not reading this website in quite the way they intended.