"If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or your arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen."

Monday, 31 January 2011

The Traitorous British

Governments that is.  Lying, thieving, manipulative bunch of ne'er-do-wells.  Never to be trusted.

A Foreign Office minister sent Libyan officials detailed legal advice on how to use Abdelbaset al-Megrahi’s cancer diagnosis to ensure he was released from a Scottish prison on compassionate grounds.

The Duke of York is also said to have played a behind-the-scenes role in encouraging the terrorist’s release.

The Libyans closely followed the advice which led to the controversial release of Megrahi – who was convicted of the murder of 270 passengers on Pan Am Flight 103 – within months of the Foreign Office’s secret intervention.
Lying, cheating, self-serving and self-regarding scumbags - and they call it political diplomacy.



From the same newspaper - we're being taken for fools. Why don't we just roll over for all dictators of oil-rich countries - oh, sorry, we already do.  Shameful.

UPDATE:   Cold, callous and brutal

The Slow Creep

No, not Ed Miliband but something equally insidious.  Following last year's Strategic Defence & Security Review and the slashing of the Defence budget it emerged that preliminary soundings had already been made about increasing co-operation and joint ventures with the French.  Anyone who knows the continental mindset will have known that it was unlikely to stop there and so it's proved.  France is pushing for Germany to join the club and create a trilateral axis of military co-operation under, yet independent of, the EU's umbrella..
French defence minister Alain Juppe is reported to have said that he is "determined to do everything possible to advance in this direction".

In early January, French attache Rear Admiral Charles-Edouard de Coriolis said: "There is a strong French-German relationship, there is a strong French-UK relationship, what is missing now is a strong German-UK relationship.
"
 Fox and Cameron will be attending a meeting in Munich this week to discuss the options with French and German counterparts.

Source

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Sunday Reflection

Sunday Round-up

It's a bit of a mish-mash this week - and very late!

EU 2100: Infinity & Beyond
"EU needs a life-time horizon to reinvent itself,reshape humans and heal societal and institutional structures in which they operate. The objective would be to make the world a better place to live and work. Accordingly, a EU 2100 Strategy is being proposed, serving as gateway between two worlds: one in which every nation is given a place, and the other, in which each nation creates its own, within a globalized, cooperative and friendly environment. The passage from domination and exercise of force to global governance, the force of arguments and principles, is smooth and deliberate."

"...“empowering people” is a coin with two faces. The ugly one has been exposed by the Swiss, in a misdirected burst of electoral pique, banning the construction of new minarets...Enhanced information and empowerment of the populations could generate positive emulations, provided that detrimental cultural heritage is filtered."
From the European Institute of Romania, one of a vast network of European think-tanks (which includes The Federal Trust for Education & Research), which receives backing and financial support from the European Commission.  (Note that the thoughts on the EU 2100 project is online at the EC website, ec.europa.eu).

More interesting EU think tank .pdfs HERE

CEPOL accounts 'now in order'  (European police training college based at Bramshill).
Sarkozy wants EU to regulate commodities markets  "Sarkozy has a three-pronged agenda for France's G20 presidency, including tackling volatility in commodity prices, exploring changes to the world monetary system and reforming global economic governance."
America pokes its nose in  ",,,speaking in parliament on Tuesday, Susman signalled that Washington wants a clearer British commitment to remain in the EU, saying "I want to stress that the UK needs to remain in the EU.  "The US does not want to see Britain's role in the EU diminished in any way.  The message I want to convey today is that we want to see a stronger EU, but also a stronger British participation within the EU. "

In other news:

Latest on Egypt's Jasmine Revolution
Robert Fisk in Cairo
Thousands escape jail, including Muslim militants
Looters steal mummies
*****
Two and a half years for a life
Commons security pass for iEngage extremist sympathiser sparks MPs walk-out
Lord Ahmed blames first-cousin marriages for Muslim rape/drugs gangs
Thief Chaytor fast-tracked to open prison
Birbalsingh under attack
British judges over-protecting human rights of criminals
The unacceptable face of student radicalism
Third of English unis ready to charge max. £9k pa
Another think-tank tells us what to eat
Back-door water rationing 
Insurance premiums, sex and pensions
Reform of police gives victims right to sue
'Fragile' Clegg  needs lots of rest - packs up early
In defence of Keys & Gray - Hitchens has it right
UK arms dealers charged  by US
Afghanistan re-building in chaos
Former Army Intelligence Officer lacked intelligence
 'No to AV' funding sparks row
The three main parties plan for 2015
American Kraft boss again refuses to attend MPs' inquiry

Friday, 28 January 2011

Friday Post

Perhaps we should count ourselves lucky in the UK (in fact, I think that's our problem - we look around the world and tell ourselves that it could be worse!)

Here's something from Fascist Soup that I came across earlier in the week.
"Lawmakers in at least two states are looking to pull the plug on texting pedestrians and iPod-obsessed runners, claiming their diverted attention borders on disaster...The proposal in Arkansas would ban pedestrians from wearing headphones in both ears while on, parallel or adjacent to a street, road, intersection or highway."

Do go and have a look - it's another example of how much our governments love us and want to keep us safe and I'm surprised our own govt hasn't taken it up by now.

Things should be back to normal here in a day or so - this bug is lasting much longer than I expected.  :-(

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Just For The Record

Something's spreading faster than a WHO swine flu pandemic so I'm just posting these videos by way of keeping a record.

Algeria


Lebanon


Tunisia


Yemen


Egypt


Albania


Information on one video says:

"As a result, your video has been blocked in these locations:
Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bermuda, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, British Indian Ocean Territory, British Virgin Islands, Brunei, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Cayman Islands, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Congo - Democratic Republic of, Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Cote d'Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas), Faroe Islands, Finland, French Guiana, French Polynesia, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Gibraltar, Greece, Greenland, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Holy See (Vatican City State), Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kiribati, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macao, Macedonia, Madagascar, Malawi, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Marshall Islands, Martinique, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mayotte, Micronesia - Federated States of, Moldova, Monaco, Mongolia, Montserrat, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nauru, Nepal, Netherlands Antilles, New Caledonia, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Niue, North Korea, Northern Mariana Islands, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Palau, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Reunion, Romania, Rwanda, Saint Helena, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, San Marino, Sao Tome and Principe, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Turks and Caicos Islands, Tuvalu, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Vietnam, Wallis and Futuna, West Bank, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe."

Jordan, Morocco and Saudi Arabia aren't immune.

EU Bill: 4th Day

The relevant pages from Hansard..
From 14.30 - approx 19.10 (Warning: autoplay is on)

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Soros Adds His Voice


George Soros has added his voice to those querying the coalition's plan for economic recovery. Soros is the man who made billions betting against sterling in the early 90s.

If I were a conspiracy theorist I'd say that this pronouncement, following that of Mervyn King's this morning and 'Sir' Richard Lambert's yesterday, are an attempt to confuse and distract. (Lambert is a former member of the Monetary Policy Committee under Blair who left to become DG of the CBI and was recently knighted on the recommendation of this coalition government in the New Year's Honours List - for services to business).

I think we're being talked down to accept the worst possible scenario: pandemics, food shortages, water shortages - we've already got used to job shortages and money shortages. And if fear doesn't work then perhaps guilt will.

PMQs: Summary + Videos

The economy and growth figures were at the forefront again today.  The House was noisy, no doubt encouraged by Cameron & Miliband who both seemed to shout at each other more than usual.  Miliband accused Cameron of 'cutting too far and too fast' with the deficit reduction and used the word  'arrogance' again.  He also referenced the PM's judgement in an aside about Andy Coulson..

For his part, Cameron took a couple of swipes at the appointment of Ed Balls as Shadow Chancellor but overall there was none of the frustration or tetchiness seen in previous weeks.  I may have missed some innuendo (as well as the first planted question), because I'm full of cold and very grumpy, but that was the overall impression I had.  The videos later will throw more light on it.

The most interesting thing I think I heard was Cameron's response to DUP Westminster Leader, Nigel Dodds, that Gerry Adams has resigned his seat to become Crown Steward and Bailiff of the Manor of Northstead.  Weird times and strange days.

Did your MP speak?
Jacob Rees-Mogg, Con, NE Somerset;  Ian Mearns, Lab, Gateshead;  Alok Sharma, Con,  Reading West;  Gregory Campbell, DUP, East Londonderry;   David Crausby, Lab, Bolton North East;  Elizabeth Truss, Con, SW Norfolk;  Graeme Morrice, Lab,  Livingston;   Donald Foster,  LibDem, Bath;    Nigel Dodds, DUP Westminster Leader;  Karen Lumley, Con, Redditch;  Tom Watson, Lab, West Bromwich East;  James Clappison, Con, Hertsmere;  Ian Davidson, Lab Co-op, Glasgow South West; Chris Hopkins, Con, Keighley;  Keith Vaz, Lab, Leicester East;  Nigel Adams, Con, Selby & Ainsty;  Stella Creasy, Lab Co-op, Walthamstow;  Jesse Norman, Con, Hereford & South Hereford;  Alun Michael, Lab Co-op, Cardiff South & Penarch;  Paul Maynard, Con, Blackpool North & Cleveleys;  Sheila Gilmour, Lab, Edinburgh East;   Richard Graham, Con, Gloucestershire.

Topics:
Invoked Lady Thatcher on economy;  jobs/deficit;  three union officials paid by local council;  CPI/RPI effect on petrol prices/fuel duty stabiliser;  Nuffield Foundation report/maths teaching;  plight of one constituent with Hepatitis C;  DLA/care homes;  Parliamentary money to Sinn Fein members;  OFSTED report on Worcestershire schools;  ex-investigators now on payroll of News Int'l;  Holocaust Memorial Day & Holocaust Education Trust;  youth unemployment;  reclamation of VAT by healthcare charities/hospices;  bilateral links between Britain & Bangladesh;  living with autism;  loan sharks;  inquiry into cost of PFI deals;  bankers' bonuses;  world heritage status for Blackpool;  following Ireland economically;  apprenticeships.

Followed by a response from William Hague to an Urgent Question put down by Denis McShane.about BBC World Service Cuts.

Videos to follow.

Nigel Dodds - Cameron


The joke's on Blinky:


Alok Sharma - Cameron


In full:

With thanks to LiarPoliticians for the videos.

UPDATE: There seems to be some confusion about Gerry Adams. The following is from Hansard:

Thomas Docherty (Dunfermline and West Fife) (Lab): On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. You will recall that at lunchtime the Prime Minister indicated that the hon. Member for Belfast West (Mr Adams) had accepted an office of the Crown. However, it is our understanding from press reports coming out of Belfast that Sinn Fein are denying this. Clearly, this is a matter that will continue to trouble the House for some time. Has the Speaker’s Office received notification from the Government that Mr Adams has indeed accepted a paid office of the Crown?

Madam Deputy Speaker (Dawn Primarolo): I have no knowledge of the matter. If and when the Speaker receives notification from the Treasury, he will cause it to be included in the Votes and Proceedings of the House. That is as much as I can do to help the hon. Gentleman on his point of order.

Mr Nigel Dodds (Belfast North) (DUP): Further to that point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I understand that a Member must apply for an office of profit. If there is any departure from that procedure, may we have a statement to the House? Will the Speaker inform the House of any departure from the accepted conventions, traditions and procedures of the House so that we are clear about the circumstances in which such a bizarre resignation is happening?

Madam Deputy Speaker: Although I appreciate that the hon. Gentleman has a great interest in the matter and that other Members may well have the same interest, it is not a point of order for me or for Mr. Speaker. If notification is received, the Speaker would place it in the Votes and Proceedings of the House. That is as much as I can help the hon. Gentleman with the matter.

Reminder: PMQs

Links to Live Parliament and Guido's live chat, both from twelve o'clock.

The Daily Politics on BBC iPlayer from 11.30am.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Happy Burns Night!

Here's a (metaphorical) glass of Macallan to our friends across the border:


Burns Night in Scotland

Lord Taylor: Guilty

The thieving Peer has been found guilty on six charges of false accounting and he'll be sentenced at some future, un-named date.  In the meantime he's been released on unconditional bail (!)  There are currently no processes in place to expel convicts from the Lords but before the GE Cameron did talk about reviewing the regulations  (no sign yet) so Taylor will be free to take up his seat and perks when he's released (assuming he is given a jail term, which isn't necessarily a given).

HERE

More Defence Cuts

The sheer incompetence of it all beggars belief.  The MoD has 'discovered' a £1.6bn shortfall in next year's budget and is planning further cuts on top of those already announced last October.

On the table:

70 Tornado GR4s
12 Chinooks
Reaper and Predator UAVs
FRES Scout project
Type 23 Frigate or RFA tanker/supply ship
Further reduction in Army personnel

The rest of this sorry tale is HERE

Just to remind us all who's primarily responsible for this pigs' mess of a financial fiasco, here's a pic of the man who was Chancellor of the Exchequer from 1997-2007 and PM for three years:


UPDATE: PFI deals like THESE don't help.

• RAF Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft: The largest private finance project. The taxpayer will be paying around £10.5 billion for 14 Airbus A330 troop transport/tanker jets with a capital value of only about £1 billion, though the deal also includes maintenance. The aircraft will not be able to fly into any war zone

• Army – Colchester Garrison: This £540 million PFI deal, to provide new military accommodation for the Parachute Regiment and others, lasts until 2039. But ownership of the land and buildings has been transferred to the Robert McAlpine-led PFI consortium until 2154, bringing allegations that the MoD has “sold off the family silver”.

EU Bill: 24 Jan 2011

Yesterday's debate was surprisingly tetchy in places, the rebel Conservative MPs in particular seem to be frustrated at having to repeat the same anti-EU points time and time again to people who simply dismiss them out of hand and won't listen.   It didn't really get going for an hour or so because time was taken up referring to the past - the he said/she said blame game - which wasn't relevant.  When debate did begin there were some very good speeches that centred mostly around the areas where referenda could apply (eg fiscal union, further enlargement, CAP, procedural changes etc) and under what circumstances (eg whether they would apply even in areas where the UK had an opt-out so was unlikely to be immediately directly affected).

There was a great deal of talk from both sides about the usefulness of such a Bill in the light of a Parliament not being able to bind its successors but no-one took that to its logical conclusion and asked if it wouldn't  be simpler to just repeal the ECA 1972.   Quite a few MPs also dismissed public concern about the role of the EU saying that the matter was seldom raised by constituents.

As well as the usual suspects of Cash, Jenkin, Clappison, Rees-Mogg, Mitchell et al, Claire Perry, Gisela Stuart and Anne Main also put in strong performances.  Stephen Dorrell didn't do himself any favours.

Here's an excerpt from Bill Cash's speech which alludes to an upcoming Treaty of Fiscal Union:
"I want to give an example that deals explicitly with a matter of immense importance that is coming up in the lift. In fact, it is not merely in the lift; the lift has come up and the doors are opening. Monsieur Fillon, the French Prime Minister, came over to see the Prime Minister specifically about this issue, and I have here the exclusive interview in The Times with Monsieur Fillon. I also had the opportunity to meet the French Minister for Europe and discuss the matter with him personally and privately.
There is no doubt about what they want or what they intend, which is effectively a twin-track treaty, which is a treaty entered into between us and the rest of the European Union-that is, with all 27 member states, in
24 Jan 2011 : Column 59
order to legitimise it within the framework of the treaty arrangements-so that, on the one hand, they get their treaty, and, within that treaty, an arrangement specifically designed to exclude the United Kingdom, even though we would be gravely affected by it. It would apply only to those other member states.

Clause 4(4) refers to

    "the making of any provision that applies only to member States other than the United Kingdom".
They look like innocuous words, but what do they actually mean? That exemption condition-in other words, no referendum, to put it bluntly and simply-means that there would be no opportunity for a referendum if the other member states agreed to go down that route. They may well do that, despite all the protestations to the contrary, some of which were rather subtly indicated by the Prime Minister in his press conference, albeit without excluding the idea of any such treaty; rather, it was merely on the supposition that that might not affect us as much as we believe, or as I believe the British people would believe if they saw it in black and white. What do those provisions include? In particular, they include arrangements of that kind relating to fiscal, political, social and employment measures, not to mention other matters that would affect the relationship between us and the rest of the European Union. A massive juggernaut would be created, through a form of extremely enhanced co-operation between those member states, that would have an enormous impact on the United Kingdom."
Labour amendment 85 (essentially that if a referendum is approved in the House of Commons but refused in the House of Lords, the HoL ruling would stand) was rightly defeated (imagine the constitutional mess that would make): Ayes 220, Noes 329.
Conservative amendment 11 (that a ministerial decision on referenda should have subsequent parliamentary approval) was also defeated:  Ayes 239, Noes 310.
Labour amendment proposing a new, additional committee was defeated without a lobby vote.

There was no time for Peter Bone's amendment about triggering an in/out referendum but the debate continues today.

The four-page transcript in Hansard is well worth reading.



PS It's also worth noting that at the time of writing I couldn't find any reference in the press to the debate although I did find THIS in ConHome about the defeat of Clappison's amendment. I wonder how many people actually know what's going on?

Monday, 24 January 2011

A Selection Of Quotes

The debate on the European Union Bill continues this afternoon (HERE @ 3.30pm)  and Peter Bone, (Con, Wellingborough) is tabling an amendment in an effort to ensure an in/out referendum is automatically triggered in the event that "a referendum is triggered under the EU Bill due to a proposed transfer of competency; and the British people vote against such a transfer of power."

It all seems highly unlikely and has about as much prospect of passing as did Bill Cash's proposed amendments.  If Cameron truly believed in 'Big Society' and de-centralising power from Westminster to the people via his Localism Bill, he wouldn't whip his MPs to follow the Party line but would let them vote freely according to their consciences and their constituents' wishes.

Hague:  Feb 08
"It is clear that, quite apart from the question of a referendum, the story of this Treaty is of a government to government stitch up, with only a charade of parliamentary involvement, let alone public consent.  This disconnection between governors and governed is worsened by an arrogant failure to listen. Every poll has shown that not only do people want the referendum they were promised but a majority would use it to reject the Treaty. Polls go up and down but where there is such consistency it would be wise for politicians to pay attention."

Sept 08
"Our position rests on the basic truth that in a democracy, lasting political institutions cannot be built without popular consent.  If in the end this treaty is ratified by all 27 nations of the EU, then clearly it would lack democratic legitimacy here in Britain, political integration would have gone too far, and we would set out at that point the consequences of that and how we would intend to proceed."

June 09
"The way the Labour Government has handled the Lisbon Treaty has widened the EU’s profound problem of its democratic deficit. Their breach of promise and failure to consult the British people either in a general election or a referendum means that the Treaty lacks democratic legitimacy in this country. Those are points a future Conservative Government would indeed have to address. "

Perhaps it's time for Hague to follow his own advice
"My approach has been to get to the point where I could take or leave politics. When I don’t think I am being any use any more, I will go off and write that next book."

Cameron: Nov 09
"Never again should it be possible for a British government to transfer power to the EU without the say of the British people.  If we win the next election, we will amend the European Communities Act 1972 to prohibit, by law, the transfer of power to the EU without a referendum.  And that will cover not just any future treaties like Lisbon, but any future attempt to take Britain into the euro.

We will give the British people a referendum lock to which only they should hold the key – a commitment very similar to that in Ireland.  This is a major constitutional development.  But I believe it is now the only way to reassure the British people that powers cannot be given away without their explicit approval in a referendum.  It is not politicians’ power to give away – it belongs to the people."

I think they should all go boil their heads - not very constructive advice but certainly heart-felt.

UPDATE:  'Our' Minister for Europe, europhile David Lidington, has written an  article for Conservative Home that extols the benefits of the EU Bill.  The article itself is a load of Party-line, self-exculpatory tosh and a quick look through the fifty or so comments reveals not one supporter.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Sunday Reflection

Sunday Round-up

Who's been a busy boy?  Close Protection Officer had affair with Johnson's wife AND his constituency secretary.
Doing a Gordon Brown    Cowen clings on for dear life - resigns as leader of Fianna Fail but remains as Taoiseach.
Lord Strathclyde has been playing away from home   The most startling revelation is Strathclyde's full name:  Thomas Galloway Dunlop du Roy de Blicquy Galbraith.
Brown asks Met to investigate.  He thinks his phone was hacked.
More tabloids implicated in phone hacking  Calls for further police investigations  over fears phone hacking was widespread practice.
One political diary I would buy   Coulson kept a record.
Salmond plans 'raid' on BBC licence fees  Cash needed to fund Scottish Digital Network.
Stagflation rears its head  Stagnating growth & rising prices mean we're caught between a rock and a hard place.
GMO is the way forward  UK Chief Scientist and govt adviser warns the world faces "a perfect storm" of issues that could lead to widespread food shortages and public unrest over the next few decades.
RE should be part of core curriculum  Church protests at omission saying compulsory RE will fight islamaphobia.
Facing Portuguese jail for criticising lawyer  An English woman who complained to legal regulatory body is charged sith criminal defamation.  "She has been charged ... under Article 180-1 and 184 of the Portuguese Criminal Code, which allows for more severe sentences where the alleged defamation is against certain public officials or lawyers."
Big Five banks make £24bn profit  City to pay out £7bn in bonuses as Ed Balls pushes for another bankers' bonus tax of £3.5bn.
'Don't privatise our woodlands'  Coalition under fire over plans to sell off English forests.
The cost of delving into our private lives Govt spends £30m on surveys to find out if we're all equal.
The disappearance of weekly bin collectionsr  More councils switch to fortnightly collections despite Eric Pickles.
Still troughing  MPs use 2nd home allowance to circumvent new rules.
Undercover sex: a policeman's perk  "Sex was a tool to help officers blend in, the officer claimed, and was widely used as a technique to glean intelligence. His comments contradict claims last week from the Association of Chief Police Officers that operatives were absolutely forbidden to sleep with activists."
BBC left-wing bias 'in their DNA'  Peter Sissons has written a book.
First hideously white, now hideously middle-class  BBC controller says programming doesn't cater for blue collar workers.
Govt could invoke 1839 law against strikers  "Section 54 of the Metropolitan Act 1839 and Section 28 of the Town Police Clauses Act 1847, which make wilful obstruction of a thoroughfare an offence"

In brief:
Osborne in the soup over ski-ing holiday
Thousands say goodbye to the Ark Royal
A good deed never goes unpunished
Tunisian  police join protesters
South Sudan votes to secede
My disappointment of the week

Saturday, 22 January 2011

What Has Europe Done... ...?

It's time for another whedfu because the little cogs at the EU never stop turning:

Under the Lisbon Treaty, the EU can now meddle in sport so expect upcoming proposals about the "societal, economic and organisational dimensions of sport." I wonder how many reams those proposals will run to and how many pen-pushers will be employed collating the information. UEFA, under Michel Platini, seem particularly keen for the EU to be on-side.

Finance:  You've probably heard about this already - reaching consensus on increasing the eurozone bail-out fund and another, "more stringent", stress test for banks.
HERE is an excellent article on what that entails.
Peter Oborne of the Telegraph also has something to say.
Portugal asks for a bail-out but PM says they're not begging.
Germany is reported to want non-AAA countries to contribute to the bail-out fund.
(Hello, Ireland. You had it right the first time when you voted against the Lisbon Treaty.  Tell me how it makes economic sense for you to need a bail-out but then pay a proportion of that bail-out back to the EU so it can be distributed to other countries in need of a bail-out.)

Harmonisation of the Intelligence Agencies is also on the cards. The so-called 'Budapest Club' has been meeting secretly at various European locations since 2007 and has grown in influence. Which EU Commissioner is responsible for security? Step forward no-mark Cathy 'street fighter' Ashton and her External Action  & Security Service. "In terms of threats to climate security, cultural security [the black market in antiques], economic security, water security, food security, health security, like pandemics - if we're not sharing information, we're done for."

Cathy fails to convince the Iranians   “This is not the conclusion I had hoped for,” Ashton said after talks broke off today.

The EU held a "Butterfly Europe" workshop recently which looked at Facebook, Twitter and other 'social media networks'. So, as well as Citzalia, all we lucky people will be able to interact with our MEPs and Commissioners 24/7.

What we've all waited to hear: another speech from ex-maoist Barroso "To those who made those comments, and I am amazed with those comments, against European solidarity, trying to deepen the cleavages between rich and poor, I ask them – where were you when Europe was financing your farmers after the war to feed your own people? Where were you, when Europe was financing your infrastructures for development and competitiveness of you countries? Where were you when Europe provided the internal market for selling your services and your products? Where were you when Europe was the basis for the prosperity and the growth of your countries after the war?"

(I wasn't aware 'Europe' had financed any farmers or fed people after the war. I thought 'Europe' was  bailed out by the $44.3 billion Marshall Plan aka the European Recovery Programme).

Merkel denies plans to return to the  deutchsmark.  Merkel also denied a split in the eurozone between fiscally prudent northern countries, such as her own, and the debt-stricken south, where Portugal is seen as most at risk after debt bailouts for Greece and Ireland last year.  "Not with me. For Germany, this is a definite 'No'. And relations in Europe are not that black and white in any case."

I've found the British Bulldog - he's migrated to Spain.   "This is not a conflict between smokers and non-smokers, but between those who are for the bureaucratic regulation of social life and those who are for tolerance and liberty."

A lost cause "Today's Le Monde features a new survey carried out by French Institute IFOP on behalf of a German and a French think-tank. It gives an answer that Sarko - and a big chunk of the EU elite - probably don't want to hear. According to the poll, only 18% of Germans think that their country should consider France its "privileged partner". On their part, only 31% of French think Germany should be considered the same."

Halal food:    "By bowing to Muslim pressure groups ...  and dropping the halal labelling requirement, the EU is effectively establishing Sharia law as normative for Europe's meat industry. The halal controversy, in which Muslim lobby groups are seeking to impose the requirements of Islam, not just on their own people, but also on the rest of society, illustrates how the rise of Islam is influencing the daily lives of hundreds of millions of non-Muslim Europeans."

Steve Baker, (Conservative MP for Wycombe) explains the European Citizens' Initiative  "By the time you read this, I will have voted (if the House divides) to "take note" of European Union Document No. 8399/10 and Addendum relating to the draft European Citizen's Initiative Regulation.  Still with me? It's thrilling stuff."

Also from Conservative Home: cogent reasoning about the European Arrest Warrant 

I could go on and on but I think that's enough for today -  I've just read THIS article advising Estonia, which joined the euro-zone on Jan 1st this year and has little national debt, to borrow from the ECB.  I daresay it makes financial sense but, to coin a phrase, they'd just be heaping up their own funeral pyre.

In brief:
ECHR asylum rulings  Signing up to the ECHR is a pre-condition to joining the EU.  Belgium is rather peeved.,, as is Greece.
Not what Beveridge had in mind: The EU NHS
Schadenfreude: Sarkozy embarrassed himself in Alsace
Belgium says oyi mins nen mins 'oui' mins ...
Russia says nietski to German dioxins.
EU says f/o to Icelandic mackerel

And, finally, don't fill in your census forms:
"Eurostat has also announced initial proposals for a European Census Hub by which member states could ‘pull’ the 2011 Census data specified in the Implementing Regulation. The difficulty of achieving common specifications and applying comparable statistical disclosure control methodologies across the 27 member states has been recognized as a major obstacle. Italy and Ireland have offered to take part in the pilot phase of the project by offering to make a sample of their latest census data available. Further countries have been invited to participate to this pilot phase, and ONS has agreed to prepare a submission to Eurostat setting out its own current thinking on the possibilities for similar domestic access to 2011 Census outputs."
  • Place of usual residence
  • Size of locality of usual residence (urban/rural)
  • Sex
  • Age
  • Marital status
  • Economic activity status
  • Occupation
  • Industry
  • Employment status
  • Workplace
  • Educational attainment
  • Country of birth
  • Country of citizenship
  • Ever resided abroad and year of entry into country
  • Place of usual residence 1 year before census
  • Relationship within household
  • Status within household
  • Status within family
  • Type of housing arrangement
  • Tenure status of household
  • Type of household
  • Size of household
  • Type of family
  • Size of family
  • Type of living quarters
  • Type of ownership
  • Location of living quarters
  • Occupancy status
  • Floor space/Number of rooms
  • Density standard of accommodation
  • Housing amenities (water supply, toilet facilities, bathing facilities, type of heating)
  • Type of dwelling
  • Period of construction
I wonder what happened to the question about Religion?  I should have known better than to ask - it's HERE, together with all the other questions.  Haven't we come a long way since the Domesday Book?

Chin up - this is what the EP will be debating next week:



How I miss Grumpy Old Twat.

Friday, 21 January 2011

Another Resignation

This time it's Andy Coulson, Cameron's chief of spin.

I wonder what will be leading the BBC News - Blair's evidence at the Chilcot Inquiry or NotW phone-tapping and Coulson?

Coulson's resignation statement and Cameron's reported reaction is HERE

Judge For Yourselves: Iranium

With thanks to Blazing Cat Fur  for this:

"Free online pass for the first 50,000 applications  -  Iranium: The Movie

See for yourselves what caused one complaint from the Iranian Embassy in Canada to shut down  the Toronto theatre where the film was scheduled to be shown.  In a surprising display of cojones, which we in Gt.Britain aren't used to, the Canadian govt has now ordered the theatre owners to show the film.

Blair: Iraq Inquiry

I think the Guardian has the best and most detailed coverage of Blair's appearance before the Chilcot Inquiry this morning. As with his last appearance, Blair slimied into the QEII Conference Centre under cover of darkness in an attempt to avoid protesters.

Live stream with video

If you prefer to watch it without the slight delay just click the link to the Iraq Inquiry in the right sidebar for a direct feed.

Back To The Future

So, amid claims of affairs and dodgy dealings, Ed Balls, the man who clung on to his Morley & Outwood seat in the 2010 GE by only 1,121 votes, gets his dream job after all.

"You either learn the lessons of history or you repeat the mistakes," says our new Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer. Well, he should know:

From 2006 when he was the loyal right-hand man to Gordon Brown and Economic Secretary to the Treasury:
"Today our system of light-touch and risk-based regulation is regularly cited - alongside the City’s internationalism and the skills of those who work here - as one of our chief attractions. It has provided us with a huge competitive advantage and is regarded as the best in the world...

We have resisted pressure for heavy-handed responses to US corporate scandals. Four years ago, the WorldCom accounting scandal broke in the US. The calls from Parliament and commentators were for a regulatory crackdown. And we could have sought easy headlines. Instead, we responded with a measured, proportionate response. We were initially critised for that, but the alternative approach, as the Americans have found with Sarbanes-Oxley, would have been wrong for Britiain."
He's also the man who, together with Yvette Cooper, wife and Shadow Home Secretary, flipped homes three times in order to claIm additional expenses and allowances.

Balls is a walking disaster and I can't wait for more interviews like these:

2007:


2008:


2009:


Pre-GE 2010:


Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

More 'Financial Corrections' For UK

That's fines to you and me.  Apparently we haven't been handling EU funds properly, particularly in the farming sector, so the EU is threatening to impose a further fine of £601m on top of £398m already levied against us.
The National Audit Office figures were contained in a report Britain's use of EU funds.
Auditor general Amyas Morse said of the 2008/9 accounts that there was "a number of significant accounting and other issues" which the Government needed to address.
 HERE

Malmo & Ottawa: Under Attack Again

The video clip isn't from Afghanistan, it's Malmo in Sweden where they're having ongoing problems with a disaffected minority:



Canada is also having its problems.  Please visit Vlad Tepes for more details and updates on both stories.

PMQs: Summary + Videos


It was slightly livelier this week. Miliband gave a mixed bag performance - sometimes assertive but sometimes wheedling and weak as milk-sop. Cameron seemed exasperated and more animated than last week. Content might have been lacking but he left his backbenchers shouting for more.  They're easily pleased these days.

Miliband split his questions into two groups of three: employment and the NHS. He led on the increase in employment and the closure of the government's back to work programme. Cameron responded that long-term structural youth unemployment was concerning [leading to a later question about the National Youth Service - a Labour initiative continued by the coalition] but 'overall the claimant count is down, vacancies are up, and growth has been revised upwards.'

Miliband asked how NHS reforms will affect waiting times and accused Cameron of arrogance by going against the advice of doctors and nurses and reeled off another list of broken promises.  By return, Cameron  taunted him about "the same old feeble pre-scripted lines that must sound fantastic in the bathroom mirror."  Still not much to write home about this week.  Miliband may as well not be there for all the good it does.

Did Your MP Speak?
Andrew George, LibDem, St Ives; Jane Ellison, Con, Battersea; Chris Bryant, Lab, Rhondda; Julian Brazier, Con, Canterbury; David Simpson, DUP, Upper Bann; Jake Berry, Con, Rossendale & Darwen; Bob Russell, LibDem, Colchester; Tony Lloyd, Lab, Manchester Central; Sir Peter Tapsell, Con, Louth & Horncastle; Helen Goodman, Lab, Bishop Auckland; Anne Main, Con, St Albans; Grahame M Morris, Lab, Easington; Damian Collins, Con, Folkestone & Hythe; Lindsay Roy, Lab, Glenrothes; Louise Bagshaw, Con, Corby; Tom Clark, Lab, Coatbridge, Chryston & Bellshill; Lee Scott, Con, Ilford North; Naomi Long, Alliance, Belfast East; Tony Baldry, Con, Banbury; Nick Smith, Lab, Blaenau Gwent; Gordon Birtwhistle, LibDem, Burnley; Tom Blenkinsop, Lab, Middlesborough South & East Cleveland; John Whittingdale, Con, Maldon; Clive Efford, Lab, Eltham.

Topics raised:
Privatisation/modernisation of the NHS; education in Battersea; leaked figures showing extent of police cuts in South Wales; reform of social security system; fuel smuggling/rural rebate for petrol in N.Ireland; Labour's record on education; abolition of DLA as it has affected one particular Colchester constituent; NHS waiting lists in inner cities & health inequalities; seeking confirmation that no more powers will be handed to the EU; bureacracy in the NHS; shake-up of Network Rail; private donations to Tory Party & NHS reforms; blocking of emails between Blair & Bush at the Chilcot Inquiry; cuts to EMA; top-down housing policy; the situation in Sudan & humanitarian aid; NHS/PCTs - promotion for failure; security in N.Ireland; filibustering in the Lords re AV referendum debate; fuel duty in Wales; lack of local input into hospital closures; credit unions and loan sharks; planning for on-shore wind farms and the Localism Bill; proscription of Pakistani Taliban vis-a-vis Hizb'ut Tahrir.

Videos to follow. Meanwhile, have a laugh at this:


H/t: LiarPoliticians

Cameron - Bryant re Policing in Wales


Cameron - Miliband

MegaSpliffster

In full:


Hansard

Reminder: PMQs & Live Chat


 Links to Live Parliament and Guido's live chat, both from twelve o'clock.

The Daily Politics on BBC iPlayer from 11.30am.

Off topic, there was a good programme yesterday evening now available on iPlayer: Britain's Banks: Too big to save?

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Sir Humphrey Has The Last Word

Things That Have Made Me Eggy...

... in the past two days.

More money, please
Balls' Academy Balls
More food scares
Avoid London during the 2012 Olympics
Banning Segways
What's the difference between 'swearing' and 'affirming'?
Lone woman saves man
And let's not forget this:
Libraries are only for the middle class, which has disappeared from the DM.  (Try googling it).

It's time we woke up to what's going on around us.  Defend what's right, condemn what's wrong.  And don't give me any nonsense about right and wrong being subjective - we all have a moral code not to hurt each other, to help each other as we wish and to bugger the government of the day.

Btw, have you heard the latest?  Frankie Boyle has been engaged to host next year's Golden Globe Awards.  Tramadol Nights Goes to Hollywood.  Can't wait.

Oh Dear!

I wish more people read papers other than the DM or the Guardian; I wish more people read blogs than watched Newsnight/News at Ten or whatever it's called these days.  I wish people weren't so partisan.  'Tribal' seems to be the msm's mot de jour.*

No-one can get the full facts from an insular reading of just one newspaper or one tv news channel yet, surprisingly, many people do read and watch a variety of msm but receive the same message as those who only read from one source . I wonder why? It couldn't possibly be because, to paraphrase, "they're all in it together", could it?

Everyone with a pc can 'google' these days - I prefer ixquick because they don't record your ISP, not that I'm sure it does me any good - so see if you can find out for how long the BBC, as an example, has been taking EEC/EU money. You might have to trawl back many decades. Once you've found that out, ask yourself why the BBC rarely mentions the EU in relation to any government's policies. Ask yourself why there seems to be no strategic change between one government and the next; question 'authority' and just say 'No' seem to be the order of the day.

Since I came back to England I don't have as much time to devote to the blog as I'd like - I'm dealing with 'authority' with a capital 'A'. Apparently I don't exist, which would be fine with me except I'd like access to my bank account.  NatWest, despite three branch visits, two letters and five phone calls, still post statements and pin numbers to Spain.

On a tangent, getting registered with a local GP is also rather fraught. The one closest to me has been rated 'lousy' so I went to a better-rated one a street away only to be told it was too problematical without my NI number, oh, and btw, you're too ill to register here. Now, I really don't give a f*ck* about getting registered with a GP - what happens, happens, and what comes, goes. It's the bureacracy of it that sends my blood pressure up to the rafters.. Perhaps I was lucky - I only had to fill in three forms for each GP asking the most intimate details.

I await this year's census (which I hear will be the last) with a mixed sense of mischief, pleasure and evil-doing. Last time I was a Jedi but I'm thinking that this time I'll throw a huge spanner in the works and I'll just be English, White, Christian.

* pemf **
** pemf - please excuse my french

The Shame Of Sir Humphrey

Even a Sir Humphrey would be appalled at being caught with his trousers down in public so what's happened to current head of the Civil Service, Sir Gus O'Donnell?  Perhaps it's a question of holier than thou or, more probably, mightier than thou.

His refusal to release documents to the Chilcot Inquiry demonstrates exactly how futile these very expensive Public Inquiries are.  They have no authority save that the government gives them and, for the most part, they aren't impartial either.

For as long as I can remember, it hasn't been the public calling for 'public inquiries', it's been government, Opposition or some sort of union or quango - no doubt all hoping for a well-paid  role and time to get their books in order.  Governments rarely call Inquiries into events the public think warrant them - Sir David Kelly may be an honourable exception but look where that's got us - nowhere at vast expense.

Sir Gus O'Donnell, as the Head of the Civil Service, is a time-served placeman.  He's no friend of transparency, no friend of the unvarnished truth and no friend of the people of this country.  I wonder how much the msm will pay for an exclusive on O'Donnell's diaries?  He's no Mr Pooter, that's for sure.

Ultimately, we can only judge the venture into Iraq on the knowledge in the public domain and on that basis alone, Blair has much to answer for.

Sir Gus isn't always so reticent.  See what he said about his relationship with Brown.

Full story HERE

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Post Of The Week

For shock value alone, this map from Olly at You've been Cromwelled qualifies:

Public Sector Employees in Great Britain



Yes, we all know that public sector employment is out of control but this fiery map should still send a shiver up the backs of everyone who cares about this country and the changes that have taken place since 1997.  It's bloody unforgiveable.  Public sector workers/Town Hall jobsworths should do the decent thing, sift out the dross amongst themselves and fall on their swords - it's no good cutting essential frontline services when the public know that there are so many needless jobs in state hands that must go.  And it's no good unions blaming the current 'Tory-led' (yes, we have noticed the directive from above) coalition or whingeing about strike action either - the state must be slashed.  No ifs, no buts.  They could make a very good start by sacking all those who've been on Common Purpose courses, but I suppose that's a dream too far.  Maybe a withholding of Council Tax?

WHEDFU

Conflict of interest not resolved.  With all the hoo-hah we have in Britain about our Westminster representatives cultivating a business contacts for  when they leave politics you can't expect the monolithic EU to fare any better in setting their own rules.  Ex-Commissioners, a la Marrakesh Mandy, are 'entitled' (there's that word again) to three years' worth of transitionary payments at 40-65% of their salaries.  This averages roughly 10,000 euros per month and continues even after they've found a 'new' career.

Andreasen  is only surprised that Engwirda's 'revelations' about corrupt practice in the ECA didn't come sooner.

ALDE (federalist & green) are trying to change the venue of the EU-African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Joint Parliamentary Assembly from Budapest to Brussels because of objections to Hungary's new & oppressive media laws.

ALDE are also making waves about direct taxation  to fund the EU.  Their argument is that it's better to tax the people directly rather than have to go through national parliaments.  Guy Verhofstadt said: "It is not only for financial reasons but also for democratic reasons, as it would give European citizens the opportunity to directly control European policies,"  adding that establishing a direct link between taxpayers and EU expenditure would improve trust and accountability.  Excuse me while I lmao.

Turkey whines about accession. Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu said the current stalemate in accession talks shows "a lack of vision on the part of the EU." The impasse is mainly due to Cyprus, an EU member split in half by Turkey in 1974. Germany and France are also opposed to Turkey's full membership, preferring a "privileged partnership" instead.  I'd like to know Cameron's thinking behind his push for Turkey's accession.

Van Rompuy belittles Argentina & the Ukraine   More strong terminology - 'vigilantes' - is being used to defend the euro-zone.  The worse they make bankers appear (and they hardly need any help in this) the more stringent regulations the EU can bring in.  The new laws won't only affect bankers though - last year I blogged about taxation on all currency transactions within the 27-zone EU.  (Even I'm calling us a 'zone' now - how bad is that).

Excuse me as I clear my throat.  *Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov*.  Ah! That's better.  Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov has had talks with EC Commissioner Barroso and indicated that Turkmenistan would like to become 'an energy partner' of the EU
[Berdymukhamedov] said the most attractive project was a pipeline along the bottom of the Caspian Sea, though tankers transporting compressed natural gas across the sea are also an option. "Partnership with Europe in the gas sphere is a priority," [Berdymukhamedov] said.

"We support your public declaration of intention to build a pipeline." Barroso said... "We are ready to work together so that Turkmenistan becomes an important participant in the Southern Corridor."
Azerbaijan also promises gas via the Nabucco Project, aka the Southern Corridor.  "The southern corridor project includes several pipeline projects. In addition to Nabucco, which entails the building of a new gas conduit through Anatolia, the ITGI, White Stream and TAP pipeline projects are also bidding to bring Caspian gas to western markets. "

Well done Tony Blair & his like-minded colleagues for having the foresight to invest in the region's oil infrastructure.

Poland & Russia are at odds again following the plane crash in April last year in which Polish president Lech Kaczynski and 95 other top-level Polish officials died.
Russia's Interstate Aviation Committee published its findings on Wednesday, causing shock in Poland, after it put all blame on Polish pilots and said a half-drunk Polish general, Andrzej Blasik, made matters worse by trespassing in the cockpit and bullying the airmen to land in bad weather.
Poland is pushing for an international tribunal.

Hungarian carpet prompts EU bickering  The installation of the carpet, to mark the beginning of the Hungarian rotating presidency, demonstrates that some European and Eastern European countries can't put the past behind them.  An 1848 map of Greater Hungary depicted in the carpet triggered the row.  "One MEP said the map showed Budapest's "intention to overcome the Treaty of Trianon" in 1920, when Hungary lost two-thirds of its territory."

We've probably all seen  THIS, the EU's visitors' centre, being over budget and over-time.  Galileo has the same ongoing problems.

     

Sunday Reflection

Sunday Round-up

6 more MPs to be investigated "...the allegations have been made by a Labour MP, who represents a northern constituency, who passed details of alleged wrongdoing to police because he believes he was unfairly singled out for investigation over his own allowances."
An interview with Stuart Wheeler "Before the election, everyone said Cameron can't come out as being too Eurosceptic. They all said: 'Just you see what he does when he comes to power.' Well, he's there now, and he's made no efforts whatsoever to curb the influence of the EU. He has given up, and it's disastrous for our country." (A bit of a hatchet job by the Indie).
Cameron "reduced rebel MP to tears" A confused and denied story from the DM. "Cameron was effing and blinding at Chris and several others. Chris took it badly. We thought he was going to defect to the Government – then he joined the rebels. The talk in the tea room was that he was more worried about upsetting his dad."
Cameron intervenes in MPs' pay rise "Some MPs claimed they have lost up to £20,000 with the expenses crackdown and previous pay pledges that were never fulfilled. One Labour backbencher said: ‘This is an outrage. I am not being lectured by millionaire David Cameron on what I earn and many hard-working colleagues will feel the same.’
Private sector ready to take over some public service provision "The reality is that the government is skint," said Paul Barnsley, national officer with the PCS Union, which represents many public sector workers. "The private sector can offer what the government can't at the moment, which is hard cash."
Overseas aid spent on coffee mornings and salsa dancing in the UK to 'raise awareness of poverty'. "Trade unions, charities, schools and churches can apply for the money - but any organisation that receives it must agree to spend it all in Britain, and is specifically barred from sending any abroad. The initiative is being funded even though the Conservatives attacked such UK-based "awareness" spending when they were in opposition and said it would end as soon as they came to power."
Swiss whistleblower hands over tax evasion info to Wikileaks. "British and American individuals and companies are among the offshore clients whose details will be contained on CDs presented to WikiLeaks at the Frontline Club in London. Those involved include, Elmer tells the Observer, "approximately 40 politicians".
Blair at the Chilcot Inquiry "Members of the five-strong Chilcot inquiry have grave doubts over the truthfulness of statements the former prime minister made to them last January and in his memoirs, published last autumn."
Yarl's Wood Immigration Centre is in the spotlight again as Jamaican mother is held without charge for a year.
Police cars axed in petrol crisis  "Nearly half Britain’s forces have already reduced their fleets of vehicles and bigger cuts are coming as climbing oil prices, and duty rises and the VAT rise force up petrol bills."
Swine flu causes hospital chaos "Dozens of NHS units have cancelled surgery and clinics for outpatients. At least 10 major centres issued “black alerts” — the highest emergency warning — meaning they were at breaking point, forcing patients to be sent elsewhere."
Undercover police units "The NPOIU is deemed so discreet that police will not even confirm the location of its base or the identity of its head, although sources say it can be found within Scotland Yard. Yet it is not part of the Met. In fact, Kennedy's handlers are wholly unaccountable. Acpo, the lead body on domestic extremism, is a private company, incorporated in 1997. It is subcontracted by Whitehall to operate the policing responsibilities of the government's "anti-extremism" strategy and can, for instance, ignore freedom of information requests."
An undercover policeman's story

Susannah York, RIP
4 Englishmen and The An-tiki
The spread of Sudden Oak Death

The rise of Marine le Pen
Obama scraps Arizona/Mexico fence
Berlusconi & the 14 prostitutes
Hedge funds bet against China
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