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"[The Tory] Parliamentary majority was slashed from a healthy 100 to a - by comparison - fairly feebly twenty. If the truth be told, John Major and the rest of us were relieved to achieve even that result. It was a workable majority, or so the PM thought. The debates on the Maastricht Treaty would prove otherwise. With a majority of 100 a rebellion would have been futile. But with twenty, a group of determined backbenchers can change government policies. The government can no longer allow itself the luxury of doing just as it likes"
Teresa Gorman MP, "The Bastards".In news that has seemingly come out of the 'blue', Douglas Carswell has defected to UKIP. In some ways this is not really surprising. His political views have increasingly been at odds with the party he represents. It maybe more a factor that the party has left him not that he has left the party. As we remember he is one of the few Tory MPs to vote against EU measures.
“What is it we now want, guys? We’re going to face a reckoning with the electorate in just over a year’s time. We’re two points behind the Labour Party. We can do this – we really can do this. If we lack discipline, we’re going to have five or six appalling years in opposition to dwell on it”The Spectator concludes as a result of the interview:
Here’s a sneak preview of what was supposed to be a debate about the wisdom of rebelling – but ended up being Carswell explaining why he believes his colleagues should now stop defying the government, and support the PM.And this was the same man who in 2012 that claimed (my emphasis):
One of the reasons I backed David Cameron to be party leader early on in his leadership campaign was because I wanted to see a different kind of Conservatism. I still do – and I’d vote for him to deliver it if there was a leadership contest tomorrow.Even though there is obvious evidence that Cameron is not...
...a secret patriot waiting for the chance to rip off his expensive tailoring and reveal his inner Thatcher. He is exactly what he looks like, an unprincipled chancer with limited skills in public relations".So with this in mind we have a couple of observations or more accurately a number of questions regarding Carswell's motives.
Thus the EU is in a mess, Cameron has been shown up publicly that he cannot deliver on reform or influence and he almost certainly cannot recommend an "in" vote in 2017. Add to that his general incompetence and it's difficult to envisage a better framework for the 'outers' to win a referendum. The chances of winning a referendum has improved significantly.Understandably there is much scepticism of Cameron's promises given the "cast iron" one over Lisbon - which turned out to be one of Cameron's greatest mistakes and which more than likely cost him the 2010 election.
Last night I was selected by local party members to stand as UKIP's Thanet South candidate for the upcoming general election.
Farage calls 'Carswell's' move "brave" but we wonder whether that for Farage himself this is a "be careful what you wish for" moment. Another question is where does this leave Daniel Hannan, who co-authored the Plan. Hannan seems reluctant to make the same jump.With recent polling showing that UKIP can win the Thanet South seat in May, I look forward to the forthcoming campaign where we can set out a positive vision, for a free and independent Britain outside of the EU.
I only spent just over 5 minutes with David Cameron as I did not wish to give him the opportunity of providing a short verbal response, wishing him to commit himself to a written response. Skimming through, he repeated that he had vetoed a treaty and cut the budget; although he made no mention of negating any bailout. The section on Norway appeared to ‘stop him in his tracks’...
It may sound like off-the-wall leftiness, but there are clear and convincing arguments for a nationalised mobile phone network.Owen Jones' always seems to be of the ilk of; "if we can see it, nationalise it". However despite the arguments for and against nationalising the mobile phone network, what the silly little boy doesn't seem to realise is it is not possible while we remain members of the European Union. Strange we might think when we note that EU competence over mobile phones was laid bare by his own newspaper a month ago:
The cost of using your smartphone to surf the internet while you travel in Europe will be halved as the EU introduces a new cap on roaming charges.And this is no surprise given that telecommunications has been a competence since the Maastricht Treaty (Article 129 b, page 31, my emphasis):
From 1 July the chance of suffering "bill shock" when you return from a break in more than 40 countries has been reduced, after European leaders slashed the amount that mobile phone operators can charge for data downloads, and also made big cuts to the caps on texts and phone calls.
1. To help achieve the objectives referred to in Articles 7a and 130a and to enable citizens of the Union, economic operators and regional and local communities to derive full benefit from the setting up of an area without internal frontiers, the Community shall contribute to the establishment and development of trans-European networks in the areas of transport, telecommunications and energy infrastructures.Consequences which as an example resulted in this. And how the EU views competition within the telecommunications sector can be found with great clarity when the European Commission reviews mergers between rival mobile phone operators. In September 2013, the European Commission cleared Vodafone’s acquisition of Kabel Deutschland, the German cable operator (my emphasis):
The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of Kabel Deutschland Holding AG, a German cable operator, by Vodafone Group Plc. of the United Kingdom.And in April 2013 the European Commission reviewed Liberty Global’s acquisition of UK cable operator Virgin Media concluding (my emphasis):
The Commission's investigation confirmed that the activities of the merging parties were mainly complementary. While Kabel Deutschland primarily offers cable TV, fixed line telephony and Internet access services, Vodafone's core business consists of mobile telephony services.
To a certain extent, it also offers fixed line telephony and Internet access, as well as IPTV. The Commission found that in markets where the parties' activities overlap, the increase in market share resulting from the proposed transaction is insignificant and will therefore not appreciably alter competition.
The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of UK cable operator Virgin Media Inc., registered in the US, by the US-based company Liberty Global, Inc.And in contrast in 2012, the European Commission fined Telefónica and Portugal Telecom €79 million when a provision represented an agreement not to compete with each other in their respective home markets of Spain and Portugal.
The transaction, with a value of €17.2 billion, would bring together the second largest Pay TV operator in the UK (Virgin Media) and the largest cable operator in Europe (Liberty Global).
The Commission's investigation confirmed that the transaction would not raise competition concerns, in particular because the parties operate cable networks in different Member States and because of the merged entity's limited market position in the wholesale of TV channels in the UK and Ireland.
About 1,000 earybird [sic] spectators gathered to watch the fall of Didcot power station, which has stood in Oxfordshire for more than 40 years.Yet the 1,000 'earlybird' figures put forward by the Express were contradicted by the Daily Mail, the Independent and the Guardian which reported identically:
Hundreds of locals are thought to have defied the guidance issued by power company RWE npower to stay away from the site and watch the demolition via a webcam livestream.Given that the power station can be seen for miles around, the figures reported spectators gathering to view the demolition are undoubtedly completely wrong. The area where I chose to watch the spectacle was standing room only - filling up from midnight onwards five hours before the actual event.
The Court of Appeal ruled in March that demolition projects previously excluded from the need for planning permission will require environmental impact assessment (EIA) where they are likely to have significant effects on the environment. The practical implications of the decision are far - reaching. The decision was based on 1999 EIA Regulations which have been superseded (on 24 August 2011) by new Regulations. But the same principles will apply, since the new Regulations make few changes.The 1999 EIA Regulations are naturally subject to EU law as per this Statuary Instrument (my emphasis):
The Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions, as respects England, and the Secretary of State for Wales, as respects Wales, being designated(1) Ministers for the purposes of section 2(2) of the European Communities Act 1972(2) in relation to measures relating to the requirement for an assessment of the impact on the environment of projects likely to have significant effects on the environment, in exercise of the powers conferred by that section and section 71A of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990(3) and of all other powers enabling them in that behalf, and having taken into account the selection criteria in Annex III to Council Directive 85/337/EEC(4) as amended by Council Directive 97/11/EC(5) hereby make the following Regulation.RWE npower has called this "Deconstruction of Didcot A" a process which it has "handed over to the appointed demolition contractors, Coleman and Company". Naturally "deconstruction" of a power station is a very complex process, and much of it has already undergone "deconstruction" as detailed by the RWE website. An example is this Daily Mail article from November 2013:
Traffic came to a standstill for the biggest load ever transported on Britain's roads - a power station transformer weighing an earth-shattering 640 tonnes.
The giant transformer, a vital component used to transmit energy at power stations, and specialised transporter vehicle combined are heavier than a space shuttle.
The enormous vehicle is 100m long and 5m wide and took up two lanes of the motorway while it crawled to its final destination at just 4mph. Such an epic undertaking has never before been attempted in the UK and took a team of six heavy haulage experts nine months to plan, as well a team of 20 accompanying the vehicle as it inches its way along the road.
It began its slow journey from Didcot power station in Oxfordshire on Friday and caused 13-mile long tailbacks when it wound its way along the M4 on Saturday.Demolition of the cooling towers themselves were apparently due to happen in January earlier this year but had been delayed as the train loop around parts of the power station was until recently being used as temporary sidings (trains are now being moved to Banbury) while the Great Western Railway from London to Bristol undergoes electrification, a track which passes right next to Didcot A.
Some of us have lived with the towers on our doorsteps for the last 40 years. Demolishing them whilst it is dark robs us of our chance to say a final goodbye. We are stakeholders in this project, yet our voice has been ignored.Another example of such objections regarding the timing of demolition is illustrated by chief executive of South Oxfordshire District Council (SODC) David Buckle (my emphasis):
On behalf of my two councils I am writing to say how disappointed we were to hear that RWEnpower’s contractors are planning to blow up the first 3 cooling towers at Didcot Power Station between 03:00 and 05:00 on Sunday 27 July.
The cooling towers are of huge significance to Didcot and the wider area for many local residents they have lived with them all their lives. Whilst the vast majority will be pleased to see them go they would also like to witness the event and your timing will make this very difficult.
We would like to suggest that you look at pushing the demolition time back to 06:00. I think that many people would see this as a reasonable compromise; it is still early enough to avoid significant disruption to road and rail services but is late enough for local families to get up and watch this once in a lifetime special event.It's probably worth noting at this point that David Buckle's grasp of details and due process on such matters is rather undermined by his previous actions regarding cocking-up elections as a returning officer:
OFFICIALS had no idea until after elections in southern Oxfordshire that thousands of people didn’t get their voting papers, the returning officer has said.Funnily enough he didn't lose his job despite admitting responsibility stopped with him:
More than 2,250 polling cards were not printed and 2,035 postal votes were not delivered for May’s council elections in South Oxfordshire and the Vale of White Horse district, an independent report revealed.
"...I was a little naive and I’ve learned lessons for the future...Mr Buckle said the buck stopped at him and said more checks would be done in the future to make sure Royal Mail received the expected number of cards"But no matter David Buckle's sentiments regarding the timing of the demolition are echoed by the local Tory MP Ed Vaizey:
"...I believe that it will be much better, and much safer, if they can do so in an organised way a little later, perhaps around 6am."Interestingly the words "I believe" betray "lazy" Vaizey's impotence - the only realistic option available to him is to jump on the bandwagon of Facebook campaigns in an attempt to make it seem he is being active. Peter Hitchens in the Daily Mail puts forward a slightly cynical motive for the timing:
I wonder why the electricity company npower wants to demolish the mighty cooling towers of Didcot ‘A’ power station in the middle of the night, between 3am and 5am on Sunday, July 27.
Didcot ‘A’ has been shut to satisfy EU rules against coal-fired power stations, themselves driven by unproven fantasies about man-made global warming. Even if this were true, it would be futile. As Didcot falls, China will no doubt be opening two or three coal-powered stations.Hitchens clearly implies that the early morning timing is a policy by RWE NPower to try to reduce the symbolism of EU-inspired insane energy policies. Yet RWE NPower have made no attempt to disguise this as noted in a previous post RWE sent out a letter to all residents of Didcot and surrounding areas specifically mentioning the EU right from the outset:
The company says the pre-dawn demolition is to ensure ‘safety’ and ‘minimal disruption’. But could they be influenced by the fact that film of the levelling of a perfectly viable power station might become a lasting symbol of our insane energy policies – the deliberate, dogma-driven destruction of scarce generating capacity just as we face a severe risk of power cuts?
This is because we were required to limit the lifespan of the power station under the Large Combustion Plant Directive - an EU law aimed at reducing emissions across Europe.In addition, destroying an iconic landmark in the middle of the Oxfordshire countryside which can be seen for miles and miles around, as pictured below, can hardly be done discreetly and will be filmed regardless. Someone is going to notice missing cooling towers whatever time it is destroyed:
Thousands of people turned up to watch the planned demolition of the Tinsley Cooling Towers in Sheffield at 3am on Sunday 24th August 2008.Yet:
A section of the north tower remained pointing into the sky. Two hours passed while the Highways Agency and the owners of the towers - energy company E.On - debated what to do.Given the unpredictability of explosions it's not unreasonably that a window of opportunity is necessary to account for unforeseen problems.
They'd been camping out since teatime. Some had portable gas stoves, some brought their young children tucked up in duvets in the back of their cars - all were there to watch the demolition of the Tinsley Towers.So the choice is clear if we want to see the Didcot towers fall, we either get up or stay up. In truth getting up at 3am on Sunday morning is not really that difficult or inconvenient.
As it does on such occasions, the juvenile media is going into gushing overdrive at the "launch" of the Queen Elizebeth II in Rosyth, the latest in the saga of Britain's aircraft carrier programme, set to deliver one operational platform with no aircraft to fly until 2020.Naturally any acknowledgement of EU involvement goes entirely unmentioned:
...but then one recalls that the main purpose of our carrier is to fulfil our commitments to the European Rapid Reaction Force (ERRF). It is considered to be a shared resource, as part of the 2010 Headline Goal
...when you delegate your foreign policy to a supranational entity, as in the EU, and then gauge your defence requirements to servicing that posture, it was always on the cards that we would end up with an unbalance defence capability, fielding equipment that had no role in projecting our own national interests.One could suspect a conspiracy of silence regarding the EU but then when the BBC refers to the Royal Navy's new aircraft carrier as a "boat" we can't help come to the conclusion that many of today's journalists are just simply thick muppets:
...the BBC risked the wrath of some of the British navy's most senior officers after describing HMS Queen Elizabeth, which will be official named by the Queen today, as a "boat".My father-in-law who was part of the last crew on HMS Belfast before it was decommissioned would be in deep despair at the lack accuracy by the BBC regarding "boats" and "ships".
Business reporter Justin Rowlatt was swiftly correctly by Admiral Lord West, the former First Sea Lord, who phoned the programme to point out the slip - prompting a speedy correction.
[Britons] believe Mr Juncker’s victory has probably killed off Mr Cameron’s hopes of persuading people to vote to stay in the EU by grabbing back powers from Brussels before a referendum.Had Cameron had his way and the European Council blocked Juncker, it would have greatly enhanced his 'reform rhetoric' and his claims of infleunce within the EU. This particularly so when coupled with his untrue claim that he vetoed a Treaty. But with Cameron so publicly humiliated by the EU, his ambition to reform the EU, as Christopher Booker observes, is the casualty of the vote. Any claim that Cameron could somehow negotiate a new relationship for Britain with the EU, then lead a " yes" campaign for us to remain a member, lies in ruins.
What is even clearer, however, is that Friday’s debacle has left the EU itself in an even sorrier state than Mr Cameron. It was the Prime Minister who was, forlornly, trying to uphold the rules of that same treaty, by insisting that it is not the right of the European Parliament to nominate a candidate for the presidency. And we are now left with the astonishing spectacle of his colleagues having landed themselves with a man who many of them privately agree is hopelessly unfitted for such a taxing job: a chain-smoking boozer, a bad-tempered loner who hates paperwork...Normally initial candidates for the EU top jobs don't end up in the position...the rule of thumb being if you don't want the job put yourself forward. Initial candidates are used as stalking horses which then allows a compromise candidate to emerge - in line with the EU's desire for consensus.
"I will consider everyone's interests and sensitivities. Even if our unity is our strength, our diversity remains our wealth. Every country should emerge victorious from negotiations. A negotiation that ends with a defeated party is never a good negotiation."What a stark contrast with nomination of Juncker now, there's certainly no consensus, a major member state has been insulted and the EU has chosen an initial candidate against form. And as Richard North argues they did so by breaking Article 17 (7) of the Lisbon Treaty:
In reality, though, the Council would not, by preference, have nominated Juncker. In accepting the Parliament's nomination, they have ceded the power to the Parliament.
That, in my view, breaches the rules at two levels. The Council has not fulfilled its duty, in making the nomination. Secondly, it has allowed another institution to take over its power.
The treaty is very specific in splitting the two functions - nomination on the one hand, and approval on the other. If the intention had been for the Parliament to take over the entire process, it would have said so.
To cede the power entirely to the Parliament is a clear break of the treaty.Thus the EU is in a mess, Cameron has been shown up publicly that he cannot deliver on reform or influence and he almost certainly cannot recommend an "in" vote in 2017. Add to that his general incompetence and it's difficult to envisage a better framework for the 'outers' to win a referendum. The chances of winning a referendum has improved significantly.
When England were blown away by the fast, intelligent, ruthless movement of Germany in Bloemfontein at the last World Cup four years ago, this newspaper carried a “10-point plan to save the face of English football following shame in South Africa”. Only three of the points have been achieved, leaving little surprise that England continue to lag behind more sophisticated footballing nations.And one of his solutions that was not adopted?
The issue of quotas, suggested in Point Eight of “Six plus five adds up”, focused on the influx of foreigners into the Premier League and the blocking of the pathway for younger English players, an issue at the heart of Greg Dyke’s FA commission.It seems to have escaped the 'award winning' Mr Winter's attention that such quotas, even if they worked, are against EU law. And nor is this an obscure EU ruling. Instead it is one of the most well known infamous moments in English football history - the Bosman ruling. And not just Bosman but also ECJ judgements regarding Dona, Kolpak and Simutenkov.
...the Premier League has become much more than just the United Kingdom’s most popular regular sporting competition. It has also become an important economic agent, with a significant impact on employment, GDP and national and local economies. A number of related industries have benefited from the Premier League’s strength, including broadcasting, marketing and other communications industries, and the travel, tourism and hospitality industries. Premier League Clubs have become the social focus of many urban communities and are often the most prominent symbol of their cities in the UK and around the world.Thus if we are to win a referendum, reassurance needs to be made that the world's most watched league is not adversely affected.
The economic success of the Premier League generates significant taxation revenues for national and local government, giving the Government and local authorities a direct interest in the continued economic health of our competition. It is therefore important to bear in mind that, in considering the impact of the EU on sport, the relevant policies include employment, the internal market, economic development, trade, judicial and legal services, social inclusion, and regional policy as well as sport itself.