Monday, 30 December 2013


...the EU does precisely what it says on the tin
Lord Wolfson warns European Union has become 'hungry for power'
I mean it's utterly shocking isn't it? It's amazing how suddenly everyone (well more accurately those in the media) is waking up to the fact the EU has covered up this “power grab” secret for almost like 55 years. Or gosh, perhaps they haven't...
"And I confirm, as announced last year, the intention to present, before the European elections, further ideas on the future of our Union and how best to consolidate and deepen the community method and community approach in the longer term. That way, they can be subject to a real European debate. They will set out the principles and orientations that are necessary for a true political union."
In terms of hiding stuff in plain sight this is ridiculous.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Merry Christmas

I would like to wish all my readers a happy Christmas and a wonderful New Year. Many thanks to everyone who has read and commented on my blog in the past year. It's very much appreciated. Normal service will be resumed in the New Year.

Rather than a jolly (or not so jolly) Christmas song I thought this might be more appropriate for the year ahead, have a good one...

Monday, 16 December 2013

Junction 8/9

I fear with this post I may expose myself to accusations of geekisim. Yet despite that, being a regular commuter on the M4 motorway (which runs from London to South Wales), I’ve always been slightly puzzled by the unusually numbered junction 8/9 for Maidenhead. It’s the only junction on the entire UK motorway network that is dual numbered and there appeared to be no obvious reason why.

Minded to find out I discover that the reason lies in initial construction of the motorway in the 1960s.  At that time, the M4 construction started from London and was built out towards the west. The original plan was to construct it around the southern side of Maidenhead and then curve it to the west of Maidenhead with the intention of sweeping north of Reading. Maidenhead itself was to be junction 8 and the junction with the A4, west of Maidenhead was to be 9 (shown below).

However at this point they stopped building it because the planners discovered a problem; they correctly identified that sending the motorway to the north of Reading would send it north of the River Thames. This posed a significant problem because the vast majority of Reading lies south of the river. Thus this would very likely place an unsustainable strain on the two poxy river crossings in the centre of Reading itself. The two river crossings would be overwhelmed by all of the traffic from the south trying to access the motorway.

So they changed the plans, and in 1971 sent the motorway south of Reading instead. This though meant that the final stretch of the M4 that had been constructed in the 1960s to the west of Maidenhead was now redundant, so it was renumbered as the A404(M). Junction 9 then became superfluous due to the re-route – J10 was already allocated to Reading so to keep number consistency and as not to confuse drivers the original J8 was renumbered as J8/9.

As one can see from the map above the original route of the M4 motorway is now marked the A404(M) going northwards off junction 8/9; a motorway until it becomes a simple dual carriageway after junction 9(B) – the original junction 9.

All in all an idiosyncratic quirk - if that's not a tautology.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Radio Silence

I've just noticed that I've been blogging now for just over four years. Blimey, it only seems like yesterday since I started.

However this is really a post to inform my readers that blogging is likely to be rather light until the new year for a number of reasons, the usual busy run up to Christmas and also that I'm helping Richard North with research regarding the Brexit submssion to the IEA, a submission which appears to be coming along nicely. Thus a period of radio silence is likely to ensure here in the interim and I thank readers for their patience.

On the Brexit I note Openingly Lying Europe had their "war games" yesterday noticeably though they have failed to be shortlisted for the IEA prize - if they entered at all. The Spectator reports:
John Bruton, the former Irish Taoiseach and EU ambassador to the US who was playing the part of the European Commission, was explicit that the British could not be allowed too good a deal for fear that this would encourage others member states to walk away.
While Mats Persson says:
The UK may have activated Article 50 of the EU treaties, triggering a two year period in which to negotiate a successor agreement which could take the form of a free trade deal. Remember, contrary to what some may believe, just like renegotiation, this too will require the approval of EU partners. For example, what terms could be secured for UK goods and services exporters into the EU?
Weasel words they all are, implying heavily that UK will be screwed over to prevent them from leaving. Yet Article 50 makes it very clear that:
"The Treaties shall cease to apply to the State in question from the date of entry into force of the withdrawal agreement or, failing that, two years after the notification."
If the terms are onerous we refuse to agree...simple as. Treaties cease to apply after 2 years regardless. The EU will be desperate to make our exit as smooth as possible - they have a fragile Eurozone to prop up so there is absolutely no way they would provoke a fight with a very important trading partner, to do so would be to bring the Eurozone and the EU project crashing around its ears.

However radio silence there may be on this blog but the fight still continues, albeit quietly for the time being.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

An Internal Dilemma?

For research purposes I'm currently having a read through Hansard regarding the passing of the Lisbon Treaty. As a result I came across this question by Labour MP Gisela Stuart during the debate:
The right hon. Gentleman is a genuinely committed European, and I believe that he would like to take the people with him in his vision of Europe. Does he not think that a referendum would provide a much better opportunity to extol the benefits of, and to make the case for, the European Union, rather than blackmailing people by simply asking, "In or out?"?
Malcolm Bruce Lib Dem MP responded: 
No. Perhaps I should not be surprised by the way in which the hon. Lady’s relationship with, and attitude to, Europe has changed because of her experience of the negotiating process. 
This refers to a pamphlet by Gisela Stuart titled; The Making Of Europe’s Constitution which was heavily critical of the process involved drafting the original EU Constitution - which then became the Lisbon Treaty.

It’s worth reading if only for the chapter on page 23 called, Consensus? What Consensus? The architect of the original draft Valéry Giscard d'Estaing told Alojs Peterle, ’the invitee’ from Slovenia, that “his vote did not count” when he had a casting vote that would affect the consensus.

Malcolm Bruce continues (my emphasis):
I would have thought, however, that she would understand that if the United Kingdom decided now, in the present circumstances, to hold a referendum on the Lisbon treaty, and if we failed to ratify the treaty as a result, we would be faced with an internal dilemma, in that two thirds of Parliament would have voted one way, while the people would have voted the other way. That would be a domestic problem, as the right hon. and learned Member for Rushcliffe has articulated.
In a properly functioning democracy of course it would not be 'an internal dilemma'; the people have voted no and that is it. Not to Mr Bruce though, the people voting differently to MPs in Parliament - who are supposed to represent those very people - presents a problem. Not only that he continues:
Also, we would certainly have created a degree of resentment among our European colleagues for having held up a difficult process at a crucial moment. I think that the hon. Lady knows perfectly well that those would be the consequences of such a decision.
Oh dear what a shame we upset our European colleagues. We can't have democracy getting in the way of that. In light of this 'dilemma' he of course knows best:
I am articulating my party’s view, which is that after 35 years, it is appropriate to say to people, “The European Union has been modified by treaties. This is actually a good reforming treaty, which will leave it in better shape than most of the previous ones—certainly Nice and Amsterdam—did,” and to ask them, “Will you vote for Britain to be in Europe, but as a package, on the understanding that that is with the Lisbon treaty?” The Lisbon treaty is not optional. We cannot be in Europe and not ratify the Lisbon treaty.
Not much illustrates our broken democracy more than this arrogant shower.

Friday, 6 December 2013

Nelson Mandela

Whatever one's opinions on the man, it was inevitable when Mandela died the news would be saturated with wall-to-wall coverage, particularly by the BBC, to the exclusion of everything else.

And so it has proved and for that reason I have largely avoided reading the news today, although undoubtedly some bad news has been “buried”. I can’t bear to read of nauseating tributes by celebrities, by “devastated” people on Twitter who have never met him and by politicians jumping on a bandwagon as demonstrated by Gordon Brown who, without any self awareness, claimed Mandela taught him courage. At times like this I’m almost ashamed to admit I agree with Rod Liddle.

However the purpose of this post is to award the most shameless, self-publicity seeking, crass tribute of the day to…Sepp Blatter, President of FIFA.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Tories Dying On Their Knees?

In the Telegraph today we have Brogan warning that the Tory party is in danger of dying on its knees:
Ministers are becoming more pessimistic, devoting an increasing amount of time – quite naturally – to considering which way they would jump in a post-election leadership contest that grows ever more likely. Even more fearful are those in marginal seats, some of whom have already thrown in the towel and are planning for life after defeat.
It's astute of him to eventually notice I guess given that it has been a process in place since the early '90s. But thankfully we have the paid Daily Telegraph's Deputy Editor to point out the obvious.

The Tories of course have never won an outright election victory since the passing of the Maastricht Treaty in 1992. That combined with the ERM crisis precipitated a collapse in membership and donations from which they have never recovered. Even under Cameron's leadership membership numbers has officially halved - the true figure strongly rumoured to be below the 100,000 mark.

Brogan is naturally concerned that the Tories will lose the next election. First up is a variation of the theme "we're not getting our message across":
First, he must make the economic case that, in his words, the job is not done. That is why Mr Osborne struck what must be the right note in an interview on Sunday with Andrew Marr, speaking about the need to reduce both taxes and the cost of government. He believed, he said, in “the affordable state”. That message to the country must be coupled, however, with one to his colleagues. He has to convince his own side that he and David Cameron are worth following from now until polling day
The apparent good news on the economy is not leading to optimisim within the Tory party regarding winning in 2015, which Brogan writes with puzzlement:
Given how well things are going relative to expectations less than a year ago, the pessimism I have encountered in recent days is striking. A number of top-half Cabinet ministers tell me they now expect to lose power in 2015. Middle-rankers mutter the same. It is difficult to find Conservatives willing to say privately that they will still be in power after polling day.
Then what follows is frustration articulated in the form of analysis by Brogan of the reasons why; conflicting, incoherent and confused tactics of the Tory party over economic strategy. Thus he supports a return to the core economic strategy when Osborne delivers his Autumn Statement 2013 on Thursday:
The Chancellor’s aides insist that the dirty work of defusing the Labour threat has been done, and that Thursday will represent a clean return to the core Tory strategy. Now he just has to persuade his own side of that.
In other words, Brogan is using, without explicitly saying it, the old standby of; "it's the economy stupid". This was a phrase coined by Clinton campaign during his successful 1992 presidential campaign against sitting president George H. W. Bush. The problem is it's one of those phrases and subsequent election strategies that is often rolled out lazily but doesn't actually always translate into election wins, particularly in this country.

This fallacy is evident in 1992 when Major won the election against the backdrop of one of the worst recessions of the 20th century. Conversley five years later the Tories lost by a humiliating margin, despite much improvement in the economy - Major campaigned on the theme "Britain's booming, don't let Labour ruin it". When Brown was told of the economic legacy the Tories handed over he allegedly retorted; "what do you want me to do? Send them a thank you card?"

In 2005 as far as Labour was concerned:
..."it was the economy, stupid". By standing shoulder to shoulder with Blair, Brown, the chancellor and heir apparent, helped Labour to a third term by highlighting Labour's economic achievements - low unemployment, low interest rates, decent economic growth.
Yet Labour lost 94 seats, a loss of seats attributed largely to Blair taking us to war in Iraq. And then we come to 2010. The Tories were unable to win despite the dire state of the economy, yet it wasn't the economy and the banking crisis that did Brown in, it was the "election that never was".

Thus it's clear to see that there are many other factors in elections, and party's fortunes than the economy but that doesn't stop Brogan taking comfort in resolving the Tories' lack of a coherent message over economic matters to win in 2015.

Not once does he acknowledge other possible reasons for the Tories' collapse such as; cast iron, gay marriage, humiliation by the Chinese, the veto that never was, failed immigration promises, lies on the Norway option, HS2, a three-line whip imposed on his party against an EU referendum only to change his mind and promise one he cannot deliver on, trying to take us to war in Syria, flip-flopping on green policy, VAT on pasties, the electoral disaster that was the PCC elections, escalating fuel bills - the list is endless, not bad for a party that hasn't even served a full five year term yet.

But cocooned in bubble wrap Brogan is either unwilling to acknowledge or unaware of the fundamental problems. Not that Labour is any better either. A more accurate headline would be "Parliament is dying on its knees?

But then I'm only a humble blogger and Brogan is Deputy Editor of the Telegraph so what do I know?

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Out Of Control

It's not often I read a story that is so shocking I've had to re-read it a couple of times to ensure I'm not imagining it. But Booker's column in the Telegraph today is one of them where he documents another case of abuse of power by social workers.

He writes of a pregnant Italian mother who is bi-polar. Having flown to England to attend a two-week training course she has a panic attack when she couldn’t find the passports for her two daughters. This ends up with her being sectioned under the Mental Health Act. Five weeks later she is forcibly sedated and has her baby removed by caesarean which is taken into care by social workers.

A High Court judge, Mr Justice Mostyn, had given the social workers permission to arrange for a caesarean. She is not allowed to see her baby daughter; her family weren't consulted nor were Italian social workers. In October, another judge, told her that she would be escorted back to Italy without her baby.

It's a damning indictment of the abuse of people's rights by the judiciary and local authority particularly when it comes to 'family courts'. Autonomous Mind notes:
If this story does not underline the brutal nature of ‘public servants’ and ‘court officers’ whose actions demonstrate they are completely out of control and giving themselves authority that is wholly excessive and unjustified, nothing else will.  It is shocking, disturbing, frightening, and it makes me ashamed of my country and the dictatorship it has become.
This abuse of power must be defeated.  Whatever it takes.
Quite. Just out of interest the Executive Director for Family Operations for Essex County Council is Helen Lincoln who incidentally earns £142,000 - just £500 less than the Prime Minister. Her email address is