Sunday, 31 May 2009
More on MPs' pensions: £60m so far
The Sunday Telegraph: Lords Committee backs King's call for more BoE power
More MPs' expenses revealed
The Mail on Sunday: Patient safety on a knife-edge, surgeons not being properly trained, waiting lists going up again and even hospitals closing
Tiananmen Square: 20 years on
Spain lays claim to Gibraltar - again
US shock jock sues Jacqui Smith
The Observer: Union leaders back PR & Purnell calls for state funding of Parties
The Financial Times: Risks to Northern Rock spotted in 2004
The Sunday Express: D-Day fallout: "We may have beaten the Nazis, but Mr Brown has proved to be the enemy within.”
Pravda: American descent into Marxism is happening with breath taking speed
Saturday, 30 May 2009
Tomorrow's Sunday Telegraph has an ICM poll which shows that for the first time in 22 years Labour has polled lower than the LibDems when voters were asked who they would vote for in a General Election. Cons 40%; LibDem 25%; Labour 22% - Others 13%.
Good, I hope it's true and not a one-off - perhaps we're not drowning after all. Goodbye Labour, the party of international socialists, marxists and those who give 'sordid prostitutes' a bad name. And just wait until this comes to wider attention.
Goodbye you nasty b*stards - please don't write.
But still he lay moaning:
I was much further out than you thought
And not waving but drowning.
Poor chap, he always loved larking
And now he's dead
It must have been too cold for him his heart gave way,
Oh, no no no, it was too cold always
(Still the dead one lay moaning)
I was much too far out all my life
And not waving but drowning.
Stevie Smith, 1902-1971
However, it has emerged that senior Cabinet allies are urging him to deliver a “game-changing” reshuffle in the aftermath of next week’s local and European elections. One Cabinet minister said last night: “We have to be looking at reshaping the whole Government and not just a simple reshuffle of the Cabinet that rarely means anything to the wider public.”
The expenses scandal has brought constitutional reform back to the top of the political agenda. It is understood that a sizeable number of the Cabinet – possibly as many as half – favour a new voting system, with the single transferable vote form of proportional representation very popular.
No, the expenses scandal hasn't brought constitutional reform back to the top of the political agenda: Labour Ministers are doing it, as a way of retaining some semblance of power. It's also untrue that a Cabinet reshuffle is of little interest to the public: this scandal has re-invigorated interest in politics and we want to know exactly who's going where and why. Our Constitution worked fine until the Executive chose to ride rough-shod over it and arrogate Royal Prerogatives to itself - that's why we want bye-elections and a General Election at the soonest possible moment.
As an aside, where is the Crown? The Monarch still retains the power, despite 1642, to call Brown to the Palace, tell him to step down and then appoint Cameron as PM on the proviso that he calls a GE immediately; it could all be done within one week. Why is she not acting? "Dark forces", indeed.
Not a Happy Bunny: HM in 2006:
"I came into politics because I wanted to change the world. I love this country and, like most British people, I’m proud of the way that we decide things democratically... revelations have made me furious because it seems some people have been serving themselves and not the public. So I’m determined to do whatever it takes to clean up politics. I’ve moved quickly ... Above all, we need changes that will allow Sun readers to better hold us to account as we focus on the big issues that matter to their lives — saving their jobs and houses from the impact of the downturn, investing in good public services and cracking down on crime. Those are your priorities and my priorities, and this Government’s focus as we build Britain’s future."
The full article is here: A lame duck quacks and below is a sample of the readers' comments:
"WHAT`S IMPORTANT IS THAT THEY PAY IT BACK MATE - AND ARE SEEN TO PAY IT BACK - AND WE DON`T WANT TO HEAR ANY MORE OF YOUR BULL !
"Whenever this guy opens his mouth it sounds so hollow. ...he should start by cleaning up the labour party as they seem to treat the people of this country with contempt.
"'I came into politics because I wanted to change the world' - he has changed England thats fo sho
"If you are proud of the way that we decide things democratically, then give us a vote on the Lisbon Treaty you liar.
"Do you think the British people are so ignorant? Do you really expect us to swallow that rubbish you regurgitated in your article? ... You've done enough damage and it's time for you to step down. You can do one last honorable deed; call an election now!
"He wants to change the world? Well he certainly has changed Britain into a disgusting corrupt dictatorship,he loves this country? Imagine if he hated it,he is a vile lying Traitor the worse British Prime Minister of all time.
"NO-one is listening any more B-Ruin. Just like you weren't listening to the cry from the British people for a referendum before you sold us down river to that EU-seless, bloodsucking, money grabbing bunch of megalomaniacs in Brussels. Show a sense of shame and get out NOW!
etc etc At the moment there isn't a single sympathetic comment and I doubt things will improve as the day wears on.
Yesterday evening I made a point of watching Britain's Got Talent (!yes, I know!) and had the misfortune to witness a precocious ten-year old on the verge of a tantrum. Perhaps in the future she will be a good singer but at the moment she isn't, she's a fragile and spoilt little girl with an annoying vibrato. I think children on a show like this just perpetuate and encourage the 'I wannabe a sleb' culture and a lower-age limit should be mooted - say, sixteen and above only.
Income Tax, Council Tax, Corporation Tax, Inheritance Tax, National Insurance contributions, VAT, Capital Gains Tax, Road Tax and myriad small stealth taxes. You can barely raise two fingers to the establishment nowadays without being taxed for the privilege, and if you're late with your tax return, expect to be treated like a criminal, hounded and fined until you've paid your dues to HMRC.
The MPs' tax-free expenses debacle has made one thing clear: taxation takes us for muppets. That government has been awash with taxation monies is evident from the their expenses claims; there's obviously such a surplus in the pot many of them have been lining their pockets with it. They take all, promise all and give little in return except propaganda, authoritarianism and the mechanisms for control. It's taxpayers' money they place on ads designed to scare, buy & install CCTV, build databases, give to fake charities and quangos lobbying for changes in law that we didn't ask for.
I think it's time to take a leaf out of the MPs' book. Until they sort themselves out, until those who warrant it are subject to a police investigation, until the immoral and intellectually dishonest have the Party Whip withdrawn, until we get bye-elections and a General Election, explore loopholes and expense allowances yourself; question the next rise in your Council Tax - is your local authority performing to your satisfaction? - and think about the anomaly that is the BBC licence fee: should it still be partly funded by taxation (a substantial amount already comes from the EU).
Friday, 29 May 2009
I've been meaning to post a link to this post since Wednesday so it's a bit late. 'The Editor' has done all the leg-work and collated all the information about Brown and his Cabinet Ministers' expenses. Why are they being let off so lightly? When we have backbench MPs pilloried for organic horse manure and chocolate santas why are these government ministers, who arguably have more to be ashamed of, not getting the press coverage they deserve?
The Daily Politics
According to the latest poll on attitudes to the EU a growing number of voters are sceptical. Older people are more eurosceptic than youngsters as are, unsurprisingly, Conservative voters. Support for greater integration has dropped, from one in three to one in five. Those who favour full European integration comprise only 5% of the total, down from 10% in 1995. Over the same period support for loosening Britain’s ties to the EU has risen from 36% to 51%, and those who want Britain to withdraw from it have almost doubled, from 12% to 21%.
The Times has an informative article, here, about British MEPs employing family members as researchers and secretaries and almost two thirds of them recently voted against a new rule that the think-tank Open Europe said would have opened up claims to scrutiny for the first time. Not much changes.
According to the Guardian fifty-two Labour MPs are lining up to sit in the House of Lords after the next General Election. If they're shown to be among the scam-artists and con-men recently uncovered in the expenses scandal it will be a travesty of justice. Rats in ermine. Not only that but those shamed MPs who brazen it out until the GE instead of standing down now will cost taxpayers an extra £1.5m, not to mention their gold-plated pensions. Pensions expert Tom McPhail, of Hargreaves Lansdown, said: "The scheme is unsustainably generous. It exists in a different world to the 28 million working taxpayers." Full story here.
Thursday, 28 May 2009
To find out why Portugal is so ready to embrace the EU, check out their history; how long ago did they have a revolution? And Spain? The ex-Soviet satellites? Italy seems to have one every eighteen months fhs. But Britain? I thought Britain had had it's revolutions. It seems, for us, that a greater one is to come. It's a sad day to think we have to go through it yet again.
"You are only half right, Cymro. To write good English is the prerogative of the Irish over the centuries. But to screw about with the language and make it do things that you didn’t think it had it in it, remains the exclusive preserve of Englishmen such as Shakespeare and Blake (to mention two without blood on their hands) - until Roger’s Profanosaurus demonstrated the facility was culturally endemic. Finnegans Wake for instance is essentially simple obfuscation, whereas something like “fair is foul, and foul is fair” contains layers of subtlety, quite apart from it being put into the mouths of the witches and not the other characters in the play (sic)."
I think I may have to introduce another tagline since 'Humour' doesn't do it justice. Or, I could introduce it as a regular blog feature; what do you think?
Over the weeks, I've added to my blog list & useful links sections in the sidebar. The latest addition to the blog roll is Ungereord, if only because I can see exactly where he/she is coming from; where he/she's going is a different matter and not for me to address. It's quite esoteric and posts are few and far between, apparently only for highlights and festivals, but if you like insight into not-quite-lost English/anglo-saxon traditions, it's for you.
Wake up at the back there! Here are relevant snippets but the full timeline is here. I've left the commentary as it is because it's quite quaint in a New European sort of way.
"08.02.08 France has approved the new EU treaty, drawing a line under the shock ’No’ vote of almost three years ago when French voters rejected the original EU constitution.
01.04.08: The Polish parliament’s lower house approved the Treaty following an agreement with the conservative opposition for the adoption of a parliamentary resolution that would contain references to Poland’s sovereignty in the face of EU legislation. But, the Polish president has refused to sign off on the treaty unless Ireland overturns its No.
10.04.08: Slovakia has become the ninth country to ratify the new EU Treaty as deputies approved the text by a margin of 103 votes to five - after settling a dispute over a controversial media bill that had dragged on for months
23.05.08: Germany ratified the Treaty. But the German constitutional court verdict is expected in early 2009.
12.06.08: Irish have rejected EU Lisbon treaty: No vote won 53.4 per cent of vote with an average turnout of around 54 per cent. In a first public statement minutes after the Lisbon Treaty referendum results, Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen said that the verdict must be respected, but was unclear on whether he would rule out a second referendum on the document. The European Commission has called for ratification of the Lisbon Treaty to continue, despite a negative result of the referendum in Ireland. In a joint statement, France and Germany also said the process should continue. What is not clear is how the eight EU member states that have not yet ratified the Treaty will proceed, and what, if any, measures will be taken to broker a compromise with the Irish. On 16 June, EU Foreign Affairs Ministers will explore possibilities to go forward. Ahead of the summit of EU heads of state and government on 19-20 July, the Foreign Ministers have been entrusted by their governments with the task of trying to come up with a face-saving formula to keep ambitious plans outlined in an 89-page 18-month programme for the French, Czech and Swedish presidencies afloat. Lately, the Irish government informed that it is seriously considering the possibility of moving a second referendum on the EU’s Lisbon Treaty forward from October to June to coincide with this year’s European elections.
19.06.08: the British parliament has ratified the Lisbon Treaty.
25.11.08: the Czech Republic’s Constitutional Court has cleared the way for the country’s Parliament to ratify the Lisbon Treaty. On 18 February, the Czech Republic took the first step toward ratification of the EU’s new set of institutional rules when the Lower House of Parliament passed the EU Treaty (125 deputies voted in favour and 61 against). On 6 May, the Czech Senate gave its green light on the Treaty. However, the President Vaclav Klaus must also sign the document for ratification to be completed. But he reiterated his opposition to the document and warned that it would face further political and even legal challenges."
The latest from the Czech Republic
The latest from Germany. However, even if Germany's court throws out the case, a second complaint is pending which could further delay ratification
In Ireland: Support grows
Poland: So far as I can make out President Kaczynski is still refusing to ratify
And, from EuroNews, Barroso video on Czech Republic & Ireland
What's missing is the fact that many provisions dependent on the full implementation of the Lisbon Treaty have already gone ahead. This started way before I began this blog so I'll try to find sources again and post them.
So, where does David Cameron and the Conservative Party stand in all this? Until he states unequivocally, one way or another, your guess is as good as mine.
... is like this at the moment with such a choice of topics, hence the late posting.
You'd think that with Parliament in recess at the moment it would be fairly quiet but there's still no let-up in the expenses furore (in fact public anger seems to be strengthening); quangos are still taking money for PR and admin staff which should rightly go to frontline services; the BNP are getting more press coverage than ever; the Bank of England wants more control. On top of all that, David Cameron has dipped his little toe in the waters of a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty and I'm still mulling it over:
"...a progressive reform agenda demands that we redistribute power from the EU to Britain, and from judges to the people. We will therefore hold a referendum on the Lisbon treaty; pass a law requiring a referendum to approve any further transfers of power to the EU; negotiate the return of powers, and require far more detailed scrutiny in parliament of EU legislation, regulation and spending. And we will introduce a British bill of rights to strengthen our liberties, spell out the extent and limit of rights more clearly, and ensure proper democratic accountability over the creation of any new rights."
You can't get much clearer than: "We will hold a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty." Or can you? The Conservative website remains unchanged on policy Cameron has previously said that if there is a GE in the UK before Ireland votes 'yes' in their 2nd referendum later this year the Conservative Party will offer a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty to the British people. He went on to say that if Ireland had already ratified the treaty before the next Conservative govt "we will not let matters rest." It's hardly transparent is it? He could have said that we will have a referendum regardless of which way the Irish vote; all three Parties promised a referendum in their Party Election Manifestos - only the Conservatives are still promising one in some form and the LibDems and Labour have actively denied one.
On the subject of Ireland, if you came across this map of countries which have already ratified the Lisbon Treaty, you could be forgiven for thinking that they and they alone were impeding European advancemment. In fact, Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic have not yet fully ratified. I'll post a list later. My head's spinning again!
Wednesday, 27 May 2009
Apparently the 65th anniversary of the Normandy D-Day landings is a French-American occasion with no room for British, Canadian or other Commonwealth representation. Instead of the dignified occasion it should be it will be a hollow flash-bulb-popping photo-fest Sarkozy/Obama media circus.
A French government source said: 'There were never any plans to invite members of the British Royal Family, although an invitation has been extended to Gordon Brown after he said he wanted to come. He will, of course, be concentrating on the British commemorations, away from the American beaches, as is appropriate. This is very much a Franco-American occasion.'
France's equivalent of BBC1 plans blanket coverage in a day-long programme called 'Barack Obama On The Invasion Beaches'. Publicity for it makes no mention of British or Canadian troops.Someone should remind Brown (who effectively invited himself), Sarkozy and the rest of the EU that the Queen is our Head of State and represents the country but no doubt they prefer to be seen in the glow of Obama's limelight. Someone should also remind the French that 22,000 British & Commonwealth troops are buried in Normandy.
Tuesday, 26 May 2009
This is an essential truth, whether from the right or left of the political spectrum, but now I'm going to spoil it all by saying: Who pays for the deer's food? Who cleans out the cat's litter tray? And don't get me started on that rabbit...
Vegetarians can unite here
Jack Straw welcomed David Cameron's speech on political reform, saying it was a contribution to an important debate. But he raised question marks over some of the proposals, insisting the detail needed to be carefully examined.
"Overall I welcome Mr Cameron's contribution to what is an important debate and one that the Prime Minister was talking about a few days ago," he said.
The recognition that radical change was needed to catch up with the "information age" was significant, but some of the proposals raised issues, he said.
"For example, school selection - how do you overcome the fundamental problem that some schools are more popular than others?" he said.
He was also cautious about the possibility of fixed term Parliaments, saying it was an idea that had been around for a long time and pointing out that William Hague had only given the proposal guarded support.
"It has to be looked at carefully. But it is not something that is going to resolve the problem that we face with the trust of the British people."
Condescending, slippery, ex-NUS, Marxist tw*t.
(pinched from Politics Home) (apart from the last sentence, obviously).
Q. When is a debate not a debate?
A. When it's a 'People's Debate' organised by The Ministry of Justice.
Jack Straw should be let nowhere near a written Bill of Rights: The Ministry of Justice gateway
The 68-page pdf: Rights & Responsibilities: developing our constitutional framework
Any Green Paper on a Bill of Rights which summons the spirit of Rousseau in its opening chapter doesn't get my vote because:
"Rousseau was one of the first modern writers to seriously attack the institution of private property, and therefore is considered a forebear of modern socialism and Communism. Rousseau also questioned the assumption that the will of the majority is always correct. He argued that the goal of government should be to secure freedom, equality, and justice for all within the state, regardless of the will of the majority."
Welcome to the Labour Party's mentor for 21st Century Britain. However, Rousseau did get something right: "Politics and morality should not be separated. When a state fails to act in a moral fashion, it ceases to function in the proper manner and ceases to exert genuine authority over the individual.".
I'm sure governments of all colours have worked their own agendas through the ages but none have been so blatant as the Labour governments since 1997. They lie, cheat, obfuscate and deny, even when shown the evidence. There is barely an ounce of integrity to be found in their ranks; they don't know the meaning of the words honour or truth and our current state is where their leadership has led us by example and intent. It isn't all their fault of course; we could have questioned and refused to follow earlier, but better now than not at all.
This 'Toynbee-ism' of doing with the hand what the mouth denies has been a familiar trait common to politicians: look at Ted Heath's Conservative government and the EEC 'trading group' of 1973.
My conspiracy-theorist alter ego kicks in with this: The papers are quite clear; he [Norman Reddaway] set about building up an organisation to produce these lies and disinformation and fed them out to the public, spending large sums of taxpayers’ money to do so. First he organised weekly ‘breakfast meetings’ at the Connaught Hotel in London with MPs, civil servants, the Director Generals of the BBC and ITV, Heads of every national newspaper (except the Socialist Worker) as far as I can see and the plan, to remove as much anti-EEC feeling from the media as possible and replace it with only positive reports on the EEC. Those reporters exhibiting anti-EEC tendencies were to be sidelined, even dismissed and those who were positive given all the airtime necessary. At the end of the operation the German Embassy acclaimed: ‘both television and radio, despite rules of impartiality, were contributing importantly and favourably.’ Namaste.
From the Bill of Rights, 1689
"No Foreign Prince, Person, Prelate, State, or Potentate, hath or ought to have any Jurisdiction, Power, Pre eminence, or Authority Ecclesiastical or Spiritual within this Realm... Any amendments after the 23rd October 1689 are void and not lawful, and this bill is for all time."
Is this still law today or has it been sneaked out through the back door? Many people think Blair did away with the Treason Act 1795 but, in fact, he found he couldn't - he could only mitigate the death sentence for High Treason. The Act is still in force. I'd like to think that since our Bill of Rights is pre-eminent, it's also still in force even though 'they' tell us it isn't and we need a progressive, post-modern, post-democracy updated version.
I've said it before but I think it bears repeating: there will be no honeymoon period for Cameron's government. The eyes of the electorate are opened and we're watching. As George Dubya nearly said: If you fool me, I can't get fooled again. And my God, have the British people been fooled.
I titled this post 'Two for the price of one' but since everything is inter-dependent you get more:
- The current debate in the press and amongst politicos about Proportional Representation in the electoral system is also connected. We're the only country in the EU to employ FPTP - and we can't have that, can we?
- History teaching declines in schools - well it would, wouldn't it? There is no history pre-EU and post-EU is just one happy, unified contented people - all 500million of us.
- Finance & economics I've mentioned before: Frankfurt is the preferred centre for EU financial services, not London.
- Devolution & Regionalisation: We have a devolved, yet subsidised, Scottish Parliament, Welsh & Northern Ireland Assemblies; we have England broken up into nine regions without any specific representation at all.
Alternatively, you can join Old Holborn at 9am on Monday, 1st June:
Monday, 25 May 2009
Since 2005 the government has known that about 700,000 people have overpaid their Council Tax; not only have they done nothing to correct the situation but they also conspired to cover it up.
"New documents have shown that more than 700,000 households may have been overcharged to the tune of tens of millions ... they tried to keep it secret because coming clean would have embarrassed the Government and reduced its tax take from homeowners. A Treasury spokesman did not dispute that the mistake could have cost tens of millions of pounds, but said passages in the documents had been blacked out because they referred to 'ongoing policy issues'."
Unfortunately for them, the redacted sections could still be seen. I suppose we should be thankful this government is such a shambolic waste of space otherwise the details may never have come to light.
Read about the lying, thieving b*stards here
Oh, and you can apply to be re-banded for the future but don't hold your breath hoping for a rebate: they don't give rebates.
Sunday, 24 May 2009
Best news of the week: 325 expected to go
The world enjoys the ridicule
Jonah Brown backs Bercow for Speaker
The Bad: Government bypasses Parliament in DNA vote
Britain -v- Spain, Bout 2,356
Now it's the House of Lords expenses scam
The bill for climate change
The Weird: Braille driving tests
Orderly queues & max of 2 drinks in pubs
No lamb say govt 'advisers' in bid to combat climate change
Who's been sleeping in my bed, Daddy Blair?
Animals have a sense of morality
The Wonderful: Jenson on pole for Monaco
In line for Cannes Film awards
Saturday, 23 May 2009
"A Tory couple at the centre of the MP expenses scandal have put up a relative rent-free in their taxpayer-funded mansion, the News of the World can reveal.
Julie Kirkbride and Andrew Mackay were able to live for free because the taxpayer was picking up the tab for an exclusive apartment in a stately home in Bromsgrove and a flat in a Westminster townhouse. Tomorrow's News of the World reveals Ian Kirkbride - Julie's brother - is also living in the country apartment and registered a business there."
The News of The World will be publishing full details tomorrow. After the heckling Mackay received from his constituents this morning he's already announced he will not stand at the next GE; Cameron should now deselect Kirkbride.
After "Mad Nad's" blog was taken down this morning speculation has been rife as to who's behind it. It's understood that it was her questioning of the motives of the Daily Telegraph's owners (the Barclay Brothers) in publishing MPs expenses that caused the problems. The latest rumour now is that the Barclay Brothers are preparing to sue her. If you haven't yet caught up with it all here's the Google cache of Nadine's blog
The best commentary, together with updates, is at Dizzy Thinks
Overall, more than 3,000 new criminal offences have been created by Labour – 1,000 of them punishable by imprisonment.
Here are just a few of the things you could do before 1997 but can't now – many of them forced on us by EU directives, though the government agreed them.
- Smoke in a pub or on a railway platform in the open air in the middle of the countryside, or at a covered bus stop, or in your own car if it is used for work, or in your own home if it is used as an office where outsiders may come.
- Own a horse, donkey or Shetland pony without possessing a passport carrying a picture of the animal.
- Ride with a pack of hounds in pursuit of a fox or stag.
- Play the piano in a pub without an entertainment licence.
- Stage more than 12 events a year at, eg, a school or church hall at which alcohol may be served without a full licence.
- Set off a firework after midnight or be in possession of a firework if aged under 18 at any time other than the period around Bonfire Night and New Year's Eve.
- Own a pistol for any purpose, including sport target practice.
- Stage a protest of any sort, even if alone, within 1km of the Palace of Westminster, without the authority of the Metropolitan Police Commissioner.
- Fish in the River Esk without authorisation.
- Enter the hull of the Titanic without permission from the Secretary of State.
- Import potatoes into England "which a person knows to be or has reasonable cause to suspect to be Polish potatoes".
- Obstruct the work of the Children's Commissioner for Wales.
- Drink alcohol on a London Underground train or bus.
- Keep a car on your own driveway without tax, even if it not being used, without filling in a form.
- Sell a grey squirrel (though you can kill one).
"Stand ye calm and resolute,
Like a forest close and mute,
With folded arms and looks which are
Weapons of unvanquished war ...
Rise like Lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number -
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you -
Ye are many - they are few."
Ex-SAS Major John Wick: "As a former military man, I have been in some tricky situations. I served in both the Parachute Regiment and the Special Air Service and have worked as a military and security adviser overseas... As a man who served Queen and country ... I feel proud to have played my part in what the Telegraph rightly describes as “a very British revolution”
Last week The Sunday Times also had this:
"Yesterday The Wall Street Journal, which is owned by News Corporation, parent company of The Sunday Times, also named Henry Gewanter, an American public relations expert who works in London. Gewanter is a friend of Wick and was brought in because of his experience in dealing with newspapers. He declined to comment yesterday."
Surely an example of Anglo-American co-operation at its finest.
Friday, 22 May 2009
An interesting article over at The Taxpayers' Alliance: Poll shows the extent of British discontent with the EU:
69% want the British Government to start breaking EU rules. 78% of Conservative voters support EU rule-breaking.
By 57% to 37% Britons favour unilateral repatriation of powers if the EU refused to give us permission to do so.
75% of people believe that any decision to give more powers to the EU must always be put to a referendum, while only 23% believe such decisions should be taken by MPs.
Membership of the Euro (which would have greatly handicapped our economic recovery) is rejected by 75% to 23%. Even 58% of Liberal Democrats oppose membership.
67% agree that the economic crisis demonstrates the need for Britain to take back control of trade and economic policies.
"We can't contemplate a general election while it would be a referendum on Parliament or our record..."
When has a General Election ever been anything else but the people delivering their verdict on a government?
From an article about the unveiling of yet another of Brown's 5-year plans for the nation: here. I have just one thing to say:
Sir Alan Beith, the first MP to put his name forward for the post of Speaker, claimed £117,000 in second home allowances while his wife, Baroness Maddock, claimed £60,000 Lords expenses for staying at the same address. Sir Alan is a Liberal Democrat MP.
John Bercow, a Tory candidate for the Speaker’s chair, faces questions over his expenses claims after he “flipped” his second home from his constituency to a £540,000 flat in London and claimed the maximum possible allowances.
Article on this and other MPs' expenses HERE
Thursday, 21 May 2009
More transparency: the Court of Appeal has refused a banning order which would have prevented Private Eye publishing details of disciplinary findings against Michael Napier of Irwin Mitchell.
The ruling clears the way for thousands of other cases each year against solicitors and barristers to be publicised, as well as findings by the legal ombudsmen who act as a last “court” of appeal.
It seems more UK banks may have to be nationalised. The IMF re-assessed the UK's position after a week-long visit and says more public money should be given to the banks to aid their recovery and avoid 'zombie' banks. The assessment follows a similar warning from Bank of England Governor Mervyn King last week They also disagreed with the Chancellor's claim that 'it will all be over by Christmas'. As it is, the taxpayer would lose £17.5bn if RBS and Lloyds Group were sold today.
Wednesday, 20 May 2009
Pic courtesy of Anoneumouse
I'm still not convinced it's a good thing to knock down Parliament. Yes, Speaker Martin was promoted in line with the Peter Principle; yes, Gordon Brown is hapless; yes, our Executive comprises ex-marxist students and feminists; yes, government backbenchers have been supine (as, equally, have Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition).
What's so wrong with the British electorate continuing to be the independent regulators they are now via elections? If anything, we want more elections and referenda (particularly for those big issues which weren't in any Party's election manifesto).
An independent, outside regulator?
The country is in the middle of constitutional ructions not seen since Henry VIII. Vote!
Deja vu with the sombre naming of another dead soldier: today it was 21yr-old Marine Jason Mackie who died in Afghanistan this week. It was followed by the increasingly common spectacle of half an hour of vaudeville. It really is pitifully sad. Plenty of stuttering, stabbing fingers and tractor stats from Brown; time taken up by planted questions and irrelevant questions (questions about foreign countries rightly belong in Foreign & Commonwealth Office Questions).
Cameron's six questions dove-tailed to demanding a GE. Clegg paid tribute to Martin "for the dignified way in which he made his statement yesterday," (Clegg was the first leader of any Party to publicly call for Martin to step down). His questions were lost in the barracking and Martin made a joke at his expense. After two good weeks, Clegg lost this one.
Clever exchange: when Cameron invited and Brown walked in:
Cameron, "This morning the PM said that a GE would cause 'chaos' - what did he mean by that?"
Brown: "What would cause chaos is if a Conservative govt were elected & caused public spending cuts."
Cameron: "So now we have it, the first admission that he thinks he's going to lose."
For the record, I have doubts about Cameron - the jury is still out on him and his 'Red Tories' - but Brown is painfully ineffectual, answers every direct question at PMQs tangentially and has been an unmitigated disaster for our country.
Overall: Cameron seemed frustrated; Tory back-benchers in buoyant mood; Labour back-benchers quiet; Labour front-bench morose; Clegg reverted to being a LibDem. Brown? Well, what can I say? Who will rid us of this turbulent PM?
UPDATE: The Coffee House
The Daily Politics Live Chat at 11.30am & PMQs from 12.00noon Brit-time and there's a link in the right sidebar to Live Parliament on the internet.
UPDATE: Live Chat cancelled
Ongoing wildcat strikes at UK energy plants.
A truthful politican: Vote for me and I'll rip you off
America has it's own problems with the FoI Act
And finally, my favourite:
A Saudi inventor is having trouble getting his GPS cyanide implant patented. "... to remotely kill the wearer without muss or fuss if authorities deemed he'd become a public threat."
As politicians attempted to rebuild their shattered reputations, they said it was no coincidence the expenses system began to spiral out of control shortly after the introduction of the first widescreen LCD TV with Dolby digital surround sound.
Veteran Labour backbencher Sir Gerald Kauffman, said: "Cynical manufacturers are making these exquisite televisions as expensive as they possibly can, knowing full well that it simply makes them even more attractive to vulnerable MPs."
More at The Daily Mash
Tuesday, 19 May 2009
It didn't take long for the whining to start, did it?
"The media hounded him out; he's a scapegoat; MPs blame him for their own actions; it's class warfare". No, No, No and No.
Never has there been such a misbegotten Speaker who has overseen such a catastrophic deterioration in the standards of the House of Commons and for that reason he and his resignation statement made Constitutional History today.
Let's remind ourselves of some of the other reasons Speaker Michael Martin's position became untenable:
(Click to enlarge) Martin's Parliamentary epitaph, in his own words: "I didn't come into politics not to take what is owed to me."
A few names have been tossed around the ring already: Sir George Young, Frank Field, Jon Bercow (wtf?), Sir Alan Beith, and Ladbroke's has already opened a book on the betting - but here's a letter from an unexpected applicant who seems to have all the basic credentials plus a few unexpected qualities.
Timing brought forward to 2.10pm - for link to live Parliament see a post below or in the sidebar.
UPDATE: For such an historic event (the first since 1695) the Speaker simply announced a date - 21st June - no comments, no explanation, just the date. With Parliament being in recess for a week before 21 June that gives about four weeks for other candidates to step forward (surreptitiously, of course). Ann Widdecombe's name has been mentioned as an interim Speaker until a GE, if necessary. There'll be a vote (in secret for the first time) for a new Speaker on Mon 22nd June and a by-election in his constituency (Glasgow North East) 'probably some time in July'.
"I always feel the House is at its best when it is united. In order that unity can be retained I have decided I will relinquish the office of Speaker on Sunday 21 June. This will allow the House to proceed to elect a new Speaker on Monday 22 June. That is all I have to say on this matter."
My thumbs are pricking again: Labour MP Sir Stuart Bell, a member of the ruling House of Commons Commission has said that reforms approved at the cabinet meeting earlier today - to put independent regulators in charge of the Commons - meant the role of the Speaker would change. "There will no longer be a Speaker who is in charge as chief executive of the House of Commons. He will be procedural and ceremonial - so when we do look for a new Speaker it will have to take that into account." Full article here
Everything is being downgraded and authority is being stripped from our traditional democratic processes - and, by extension, from us. The whole country is morphing into a damned theme park. I just can't help wondering how the EU fits into all this. Cameron's Conservatives are calling for fewer MPs in Parliament, locally elected Chief Constables and devolving more power to local authorities, which on paper seems good, but I sense a growing and permanent power vacuum where our Parliamentary representatives should be. What better 'outside regulator' of our MPs than an EU body? Keep an eye out for the European Parliamentary Regulatory Agency.
UPDATE: "The second report by the Intelligence and Security Committee into the bombings, in which 52 people died and 1,000 were injured, describes the finding as "astounding" and records that Mohammed Siddique Khan, the terrorist ringleader, crossed the radar of police and MI5 on at least nine occasions. But at no time was he properly traced and identified and neither he nor his key lieutenant, Shazad Tanweer, were ever categorised as "essential" targets." Times article here
(Source: LBC Radio)
UPDATE: Martin will make his resignation statement in the HoC this afternoon at 2.30pm. You can watch it live on the internet HERE
For a succinct explanation of the roots of our corrupted democracy you could do worse than check out THIS from Richard North.
[Using Statutory Instruments and Orders in Council] "...the government has progressively been able to by-pass Parliament as a legislature, turning the Houses into little more than faded rubber stamps... fixing the expenses system is going to have no effect whatsoever. Even purging the current Parliament and replacing it with a brand new, squeaky-clean cast of actors would not make the slightest bit of difference. Parliament has been broken for decades and fiddling with the petty cash system is not going to mend it."
“The purpose of government is to secure and protect the God-given inalienable natural rights of the people. For their part, the people must obey the laws of their rulers. Thus, a sort of contract exists between the rulers and the ruled. But, if a government persecutes its people over an extended period, the people have the right to resist that government, alter or abolish it, and create a new political system.”
According to John Locke (1632-1704) legitimate political power derives solely from the consent of the the people to entrust their "lives, liberties, and possessions" to the oversight of a government as a whole, as expressed through its legislative body. Locke asserted that the most likely cause of any revolution would be abuse of power by government itself: when it unduly interferes with the interests of the people, they are bound to protect themselves by withdrawing their consent. When mistakes are made only rebellion holds any hope of the restoration of fundamental rights and, moreover, since the existence of civil order depends upon the people's consent, only they can judge whether or not such circumstances have actually occurred. In Locke's view the possibility of revolution is a permanent feature of any properly-formed civil society.
It seems a shame to let the words of this great empiricist philosopher fall into dis-use so please check out this protest which is being arranged on Saturday, 23rd May via Old Holborn; it's a kettle, drum and saucepan affair.
Right... back to my cream cakes ...
Monday, 18 May 2009
Last month I asked Can the defence of the Realm possibly be worse? "From September this year we will have the grand total of eight fighter jets on standby to defend Britain's skies at any one time until, by govt estimates, 2011."
The answer appears to be a resounding, "Yes," because today we learn we have just nine Royal Navy ships along with a "motley collection" of police and coastguard boats guard a shoreline more than 7,000 miles long. Britain is at risk of 'sea-borne attack'
Ye Gods and little fishes! Eight fighter jets and nine RN ships to defend these islands; it's just as well we've got the Army here... oops!
How the hell can anything possibly be cut from the Defence Budget?
We must all accept blame and to the extent that I have contributed to the situation I am profoundly sorry. Now each and every member including myself must work hard to regain your trust as a matter of urgency and within 48 hours I am calling the Prime Minister and party leaders including the minority parties to meet with me and other members of the House of Commons commission also present will be the right Honorable member for Islwyn.
Leader of all parties have made announcements on what should be done some of the proposals are very similar to those put to the House on 3 July last year by the Members Estimates Committee, which I chair and copies of which are lodged in the vote office
I want discussion to centre on the additional costs allowance and all those mattters as have cause the greatest controversy and most anger with the public
I include in that early publication of the additional costs allowance, office costs and travel material, while we await the work of Committee on Standards in Public Life we must search for agreement so that the Leader of the House can bring forward resolutions to give an opportunity for the House to deal with the immediate situation. In the meantime i do urge all hononable members not to submit claims for approval.
Last week I had a most productive meeting with Sir Christopher Kelly who explained to me his hope to bring reasoned proposals in the autumn.
While we await the outcome of his work it is imperative that we continue to improve our accounts and practice in the interm and get in place measures that work and are seen to be working and I say again we all bear a heavy responsible for the terrible damage to the reputation of this House we must do everything we possible can to regain the trust and confidence of the people."