Tuesday, 31 August 2010

It's Nowt To Do With Cuts

The Sun is reporting this morning:
BRITAIN and France are preparing to reveal unprecedented plans to share the use of their aircraft carriers in a controversial step to maintain military power in an era of cost-cutting.

David Cameron and President Sarkozy are expected to outline the proposal in a November summit, which will lead to British and French flagships working together and protecting the interests of both countries.
Leaving aside the political implications such a move would have for the coalition, this story (if true) would merely be a continuation of what has been happening for years.

The EU has long sought a common defence strategy ever since Monnet's proposals in 1950 for the European Defence Community, and this desire for a 'European Army' has continued apace since the Maastricht treaty.

Agreements on Anglo-French naval co-operation were signed in 1996, the army 1997 and the air force in 1998. In 1996 Tory defence minister Michael Protilio agreed with his fellow defence ministers to set up the Western European Armaments Organisation under the Western European Union (a defence agreement now defunct due to Lisbon) to work for closer co-operation on EU defence procurement.

Tony Blair went even further in St Marlo in 1998 when he offered up the British Armed forces on a plate to be a key part of a New European Defence force, which would act outside of NATO:
Saint Malo was the site of an Anglo-French summit which lead to a significant agreement regarding European defence policy. British Prime Minister Tony Blair and French President Jacques Chirac stated that "the [European] Union must have the capacity for autonomous action, backed up by credible military forces, the means to decide to use them, and a readiness to do so, in order to respond to international crises".
Geoff Hoon then signed a 'framework agreement' in 2000, which outlined the guidelines on how to harmonise the the military requirements and have a common command structure. All of this was leading to a common European Defence Agency which was established in 2004.

It was precisely because of this integration that the MoD disbanded or merged 19 historic regiments, so that new 8000 man brigades could be set up in order to fit in with ERRF requirements.

Even the two replacement carriers for the Navy already under construction, at a cost of £5.2billion, are being partially built by the French firm; Thales, who are building an identical one for the French navy. Again requirements of the ERRF.

As ever though none of this gets mention, and so cuts becomes a convenient cover for the Europhile Tories coalition.

Monday, 30 August 2010

A Bit Late To The Party

When I read Iain Dale's latest post last night on the fact that he's just noticed the failings of the European Arrest Warrant, I honestly couldn't face writing another blog post about him, especially with such 'observational' gems such these:
I haven't had a strong view on the European Arrest Warrant up to now. Until today. I could see its value in bringing trans-border criminals to justice more speedily, even if my gut instinct was to feel that it was yet another chink in the armour of sovereign British justice.
and (my emphasis):
Theresa May has recently extended the powers of the EAW by signing up to the European Investigation Order. I hope she understood what she was doing.
And if Theresa May is the woman I think she is, she will pick up the phone to her Greek counterpart tomorrow morning and ask him to put right this apparent massive injustice.

Go on Theresa. You know you want to.

Thankfully The Devil's Knife has responded in his typically robust manner and very well worth a read it is too.

Update: It appears there's a dispute over whether Dan Hannan and other Tories voted for or against the EAW in the EU Parliament. DK cites Trixy as saying yes they did, whilst Dan Hannan left a comment here claiming that he didn't. I've left a comment on DK saying:

DK: The vote was taken on Feb 6th 2002 as shown here ... and the voting record is here. 412 voted in favour and 122 against. Records show that Hannan voted against the Arrest Warrant. Hope that helps.

Although it does appear that the Tories did vote against a "habeas corpus" safeguard amendment as reported by the Telegraph.

Speeding Data 'Misleading'

I meant to blog on this last week when it appeared on my local news, but forgot. Obo has jogged my memory.

On 1st August all speed cameras in Oxfordshire were turned off, well technically they were turned off over a period of a few days - prosecutions stopped on 1st August. So some of them still worked. I'm waiting for the first case of the council chancing their arm with an August prosecution. Anyway it didn't take long for some safer roads campaigners to start bleating:
Last week, Thames Valley Safer Roads Partnership said a roadside camera on the A44 in Woodstock had seen an 18.3 per cent increase in speed offences since the switch-off compared to the average number caught this year.

At the same time a radar inside a second camera in Watlington Road, Cowley, registered an 88 per cent rise in offences when compared with figures in 2008 and 2009.
Speeding offences up eh? What about traffic accidents, casualties, deaths? Are they up? Thames Valley Safer Roads Partnership seem strangely silent on that one. But even these figures are not all they seem:
The partnership said the figures for 2010 were not available, as the camera had been switched off due to roadworks.

When the Oxford Mail requested 2008-9 data for the Woodstock camera – to make an equal comparison to the Watlington Road camera – the partnership said the figures were not readily to hand.

Now, the Oxford Mail having obtained the information, the figures actually show speed offences fell by four per cent when comparing the figures since the switch-off to offences in 2008-9.
So it takes a FOI request to prove they're misleading. But they insist:

...there was no deliberate attempt to mislead the public about the figures.

“I don’t think there’s anything we have done that is disgraceful or lies and damn lies.

“As we have always maintained, these remain limited data sets and there is a great deal more study that will need to be undertaken to determine what the increased risk at decommissioned camera sites is.”

Yes of course, which is why August isn't over yet but you couldn't wait to issue that 'shock horror' rise of 18%. Compare that to the pro-camera argument, that 11 months was too early to tell when Swindon didn't show any rise after a year of switching them off.

A New EU Resource

The Albion Alliance, the cross-party referendum campaign to put country before party, have just launched a new EU resource website. This collates all the latest Directives, Regulations and other information from EU institutions into one place. It's the first website (as far as I am aware) that has managed to do this so it should make trawling through all the recent EU information a little easier.

More features and information are likely to be added soon, but the website can be found here.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

DeJa Vu

Iain Dale, nearly a week late:
Mr Civil Libertarian just left this comment on my Facebook page...

"You know, the 111 number was a part of Labour's manifesto. See HERE.

This isn't a new idea from the coalition. It's Labour's idea. So why are they campaigning against it? Ah, of course, because it's not them actually doing

I hate party politics so damn much."
Er yes as I pointed out here, and in the comments on Dizzy's post last Monday. Eureferendum is right it's the power of prestige principle - not what is said but who says it. It's not an ego thing for me, more frustration - I couldn't careless about links for statistical reasons but clearly most bloggers in Dale's eyes are not important enough to be listened to even when they have a point.

Noticeable in Dale's post is the absence of a reference to the EU element - I wonder how long that will take, when the 111 number goes national and incorporates the 116 117 number?

Quote Of The Day

From Grahnlaw regarding the recent eurobarometer:
The view of European integration and the European Union in the UK is not bleak – it is tainted uniquely black.

Should the UK government (Pharaoh) listen to what the voters (Moses) have to say in “Go Down Moses”?

Namely: Let my people go.

Withdrawal or secession in Eurospeak.

Presumptions From Medway

Oh dear, it seems that the negative reaction to the 'ciggy busters' stunt has incurred the misguided ire of Labour blogger Tristan Osborne:
'Ciggy Busting' attracts right wing wrath.
As well they might, the actions of the students and teacher are potentially illegal. He continues - linking to me twice, as the token UKIP view:
The 'ciggy busting' campaign run by Hundred of Hoo students last week to highlight the health risks surrounding smoking, is being savagely attacked by the right wing blogosphere, and on sites closely associated with the Libertarian and UKIP political vantage.

Individual bloggers have been writing letters to the Police and Council to attack school pupils for trying to highlight a real and remaining health problem which blights parts of Medway.
No, Tristan, the blogosphere weren't attacking school pupils for trying to improve people's health. They are criticising this particular campaign because it was, and still is, legally dubious. Don't take my word for it, here's the words of one of the participants:
“I was scared about doing something so crazy on the street - I mean you can get arrested."
But to him the finer point of legality is irrelevant - to condemn this stunt in anyway must mean you support smoking and the repeal of the ban. So by using the complaints as an excuse to deploy a straw man of leviathanic proportions he tries to reinforce his self-righteous views on smoking and the smoking ban, including this astonishingly puerile comment:
The Libertarian argument that someone has the right to smoke in a confined public space, where it can harm others is mad, just as the argument that someone has the right to rape, hit or harm someone else by violence.
Aside from the fact that smoking is a legal activity and the others aren't, a point again overlooked (he's not very good at technicalities is he?) I don't think he fully appreciates what he is actually saying. By linking smokers to rapists he is arguing that rape and passive smoking are similar crimes which means the logical extension of that is the impact on the victims must be the same also. In effect he is telling a rape victim; "I know how you feel because I suffered from passive smoking once".

He continues:
Perhaps those Libertarian and UKIP individuals should reflect on their own environment before passing comments on our hard working young people who are trying to highlight the harm to health of smoking to our community.
Perhaps Mr Osborne should stop passing off assumptions. Either he hasn't been bothered to read my blog in detail or he has ignored the inconvenient parts which don't fit in with his view. I've made it clear on this blog that I'm a non-smoker, disagree with my wife doing so and support anyone's right to campaign within the law. I've never made any comment on the smoking ban either for or against. But to him this point is irrelevant, just mere inconvenient detail. Criticism of this particular stunt according to the simple uncomplicated world of Tristan Osborne must automatically mean we criticise all anti smoking campaigns per se.

He concludes:
Right wing bloggers calling for a relaxing of the smoking ban have it totally wrong.
As I pointed out earlier I haven't made any such assertions. No matter, the 'ciggy busters' get his full support:
Smoking Kills. Passive Smoking Kills. Well done our young people.
So buoyed by his own sense of moral superiority, legality is unimportant, and the law is just an a la carte menu where he can pick and choose which bits of it he doesn't agree with; he argues it's not right to hit someone but then endorses just that view if it's against smokers. Ends justifies the means even if illegal you see.

Interestingly he's been selected to stand in Luton & Wayfield for the local elections in 2011. I wonder what potential voters will think when they discover that he apparently supports the incitement of theft, mugging, assault, steaming and happy slapping?

hattip:Corrugated Soundbite

Friday, 27 August 2010

Medway Council (Sort Of) Update

As yet no response to my complaint; they have a 5 day target which expires today, so I have the escalation procedure primed and ready to go. So while we're waiting here's another gem about Medway Council courtesy of former councilor John Ward:
Today, [Councillor David Craggs] has resigned!

The reason for the resignation is given in a statement from Mr Craggs in YourMedway, which has just appeared while I was writing this post:

"People will know that I have served as a volunteer special constable on behalf of the people of Kent for the past 17 years, a role that I have held with pride. In the hope that I could expand my community service I stood as a councillor for Medway.

I did not believe there was any conflict between these roles and was unaware that police regulations prevent anyone from holding political office whilst also serving the police."
Like John Ward I wasn't aware that Special Constables were "politically restricted". However he later highlights this below (my emphasis):
... since this story broke on Conservative Home, it has become clear that other councillors and even MPs have been allowed to be Special Constables at the same time, as HERE and HERE. I suspect the reason the Kent Police Authority's policy has been left unclear is to allow for politically-motivated manipulation. I could be wrong; but I do wonder whether the same would have happened if (say) a Labour or Green candidate had been in exactly the same situation...
Medway Council and Kent Police are not very good are they?

Update: John Ward has further information on his blog with a press release, from which this extract comes from:
Kent Police were incorrect, and arguably unlawful. They had even threatened disciplinary action against David Craggs. Because the statutory �Notice of vacancy‘ has now been issued, acting upon David Craggs resignation letter, the electoral cycle is started and cannot be retracted, despite the resignation now clearly being unnecessary, based on wrong advice and arguably extracted under duress.

This means that another election may need to be held, because Kent Police got the law wrong. The situation is virtually unbelievable. Kent Police must bear full responsibility for this situation, and for the extra costs to be borne by the council, candidates and political parties. No explanation or apology has been forthcoming.
His conclusion is:
Yes, this was almost certainly a case of political manipulation, as the timing and other details show sufficiently clearly that a jury would very probably come to that conclusion.
The terms 'Medway', 'cosh' and 'under' come to mind.

Bully Boy Tactics

EU cautions Iceland over 'mackerel war'

The European Union has warned Iceland that a quarrel over fishing rights in the north-east Atlantic will hinder the country's chances of becoming a member state.
Ohh scary, the EU really does have a high degree of self-importance. One small problem with this threat, it appears that Iceland's application amounts to nothing more than a game of 'cherry knocker'.

Support For EU Plunges

In news that probably should be under the same category as, a bear was spotted heading towards a forest clutching a newspaper, confidence in the EU has dropped to record lows in most countries, according to a Eurobarometer published yesterday.

Fewer than half of Europe's citizens think that their country has benefited from EU membership, the lowest in seven-years and trust in EU institutions has dropped to 42 percent.

The report does make clear that that its survey (conducted in May) was taken just after turbulence in Eurozone and before any measures had yet to filter through. So understandably unemployment was the top concern, the EU's response was viewed negatively and the majority thought the crisis will get worse.

When asked what EU is associated with; – the top three were free travel, the euro and peace - although this was closely followed by "waste of money.
Only 19% think the EU stands for democracy, coming in 9th place. Guess which country came bottom in its trust of the EU? (click to enlarge)

Yep, the UK by quite some distance.

New In Or Out Referendum Campaign?

Via the Talking Clock, I notice this response from Dan Hannan at the Telegraph to one of his readers:
"If I and others set up a cross-party campaign for an In-or-Out referendum... do you promise to join?"
The operative word here, of course, is 'if', but it does seem to suggest that there maybe plans afoot. I would, naturally, join in an instant and more besides.

Update: I wonder if this new website, campaigning for a referendum, has any relevance to Dan Hannan's comments? hattip: eurogoblin

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Ah But It's Different

Europhile GrahnLaw has made this comment on Eurogoblin:
They [UKIP] gave me the impression of a bunch of schoolboy pranksters with a case of beer and portraits of Hitler on the mantlepiece [sic]"
Isn't it revealing that Nosemonkey, Grahnlaw et al can sanctimoniously condemn the 'lack of facts' in their view, regarding criticism of the EU by cheap comments such as "decent into madness / idiocy / ranting" and "I'm surprised they haven't mentioned the EUSSR yet" but then are guilty of the same crime they accuse others of - as demonstrated in the quote above.

Oh sorry I forgot, that's different.

The German Constitutional Court Restricts Its Own Powers

Back in January this year I wrote about the German age discrimination case of Seda Kücükdeveci, the outcome of which appeared to be a declaration of war by the ECJ on Germany's Constitutional Court's self proclaimed powers over the Lisbon Treaty. At the time I noted:
What's interesting to note is that this is a direct challenge to the German Constitutional Court's self proclaimed supremacy, that it established in a ruling before Germany's ratification of the Lisbon Treaty:

“The peoples of the member-states are the holders of the constituent power. The Basic Law does not permit the special bodies of the legislative, executive and judicial power to dispose of the essential elements of the constitution.”

By ruling that, essentially, directives can have a horizontal effect - they can be relied upon in a suit between citizens - the ECJ has issued a challenge by directly using the anti-discrimination directive in an employer-employee relationship, thus by-passing German industrial law.

It will be interesting to see the Constitutional Court's response.
Kücükdeveci was essentially a Mangold part 2 (this time it's personal) case. Mangold was a notorious case in 2005 which the ECJ ruled that German law was 'inapplicable':

The plaintiff in the so-called Mangold case had a temporary work contract with an auto supplier. The arrangement was based on a government law allowing employers to give only temporary work to people over 52 years of age.

The EU court ruled that the law, proposed as part of a general package to free up the country's labour market, was age discriminatory and should not be enforced. This in turn led the national court to say the plaintiff was within his rights to ask for a permanent contract.

The employer then took the matter to the constitutional court saying that the EU court had overstepped its powers by ruling on short-term contracts as protection against anti-age discrimination was not part of EU primary law but had been handed down in a directive, which member states have some leeway in implementing.

Quite simply there has been a sort of legal arms race between the German court and the ECJ over EU primary law. And according to the judgment reported by today's EUObserver it looks as if the Germans have backed down for the sake of EU unity:
Germany's constitutional court has laid down the ground rules for controlling decisions by the EU top's court, an area that had been left unclear after a controversial 2009 ruling by Germany's highest judges on the Lisbon Treaty, the EU's new rule book.

Thursday's pronouncement backed by seven of the eight judges not only avoids a direct conflict with the EU's Luxembourg court but also appears to strengthen it. Germany's court stated that EU decisions may only be checked if European institutions seriously overstep their powers.
As a headline in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung says: "Karlruhe (the court) restricts its own powers."
The ECJ is trying to expand the scope of EU law and establishing its primacy via Directives so that they are directly applicable. It now appears they won't meet much resistance (my emphasis):

One judge, Herbert Landau, disputed the decision reached by his colleagues, whom he accused of abandoning the Lisbon Treaty consensus. He said the ECJ decision on age discrimination was clearly overstepping its powers and said his colleagues did not take into account the creeping transfer of powers to the EU.

German President Roman Herzog, who has been critical of the direction of the EU court's rulings in the past, has previously written that the Mangold case would set the tone for future relations between the ECJ and national courts.

It's currently developing its jurisprudence in the area of age discrimination and it's hard to see how the German Constitutional Court will now challenge the Kücükdeveci verdict.

The only question left is what area will be next for the ECJ?

Mugabe Is Dying

Apparently Mr Mugabe is fighting a losing battle against cancer, I wouldn't normally comment in these circumstances apart from offering normal human sympathies, but in this case I make an exception. It just goes to show no matter how powerful you become by virtue of evil means, mere mortality gets you in the end.

An interesting thought is, what will John Sentamu, Archbishop of York do should Mugabe die soon? He infamously cut up his dog collar on the Andrew Marr show in protest at Mugabe remaining in power, leaving the Scottish presenter rather speechless at the time:

So the important question is how long will Sentamu leave it after Mugabe's death until he puts his collar back on. The balance, as a Christian, between respect and protest will be very fine indeed.

hattip: A Very British Dude

Euro Bailout Woes

The Euro crisis hasn't gone away as the Tap has noted here:
We've heard all the spin about the bank stress tests, and how the Euro will be protected, for example. But in the same space of time that this has been happening, the movement between the Euro and the Swiss Franc has been telling a very different story. You needed 1.50 Swiss Francs to buy one Euro six months ago. Today you need just over 1.30. It seems that the real money is not listening to the assurances that the Euro will survive, but getting out as fast as it can, to Switzerland or Tokyo.
A situation not helped by more and more cracks in EU unity regarding a bailout for Greece. First it was Slovakia in early August:
Slovakia’s parliament rejected the nation’s participation in a loan for Greece, ending the European Union’s unity in handling the sovereign-debt crisis.

The funds were to be part of a package designed to help Greece avoid default. Euro-are governments in May agreed to provide 80 billion euros of loans, with an additional 30 billion euros from the International Monetary Fund, in return for a Greek pledge to cut its budget deficit. Slovakia’s decision won’t prevent Greece from drawing on the loan, the EU said.
And now it appears that the Czech Republic has waded in and ruled out their help for Greece. Prime Minster Petr Necas tells the Austrian newspaper Kurier - although not providing many details (translated from Google):
Q What is the position of the Czech Republic plan to rescue Greece from the?

A We take the rescue plan note does not intend to go with the Greece-help. For the Czech Republic, the current delegation of financial powers from national level to the EU one not to be exceeded as crossing a line.

Q As you can see the position of the Czech Republic in the EU on enlargement?

A The Czech Republic is a responsible member of the European Union. We are proponents of budget discipline and the consistent enforcement of the Stability and Growth Pact. We are clearly in favour of its future expansion: Croatia and other countries in the region, also to Turkey or Iceland - each country, the interest in EU membership and has met the conditions should be given the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of the single market; that I consider the main advantage of the EU.
And he rules out Czech accession to the Euro:
Q Is the Czech Republic's accession to the euro zone is already in sight, and when?

A This raises the question of whether the euro zone after the problems they

is experiencing at all is able to absorb new members, even if they meet the Maastricht criteria, I will not call for an appointment do so.
German economist Professor Wilhelm Hankel put it:
"Germany and the few other still economically stable countries in the Eurozone are sinking money into a barrel without a bottom."
And already some are pressing the retreat button.

EU Gains Speaking Rights At UN

According to EurActiv (my emphasis):
European Council and Commission representatives yesterday (24 August) confirmed reports that the United Nations is to grant the EU the right to speak at the body's General Assembly ahead of its 64th session, which starts on 15 September in New York.

Thus far, the EU has only had observer status at the UN. With the Lisbon Treaty, however...the EU's position at the UN appears to urgently require an upgrade.

According to Polish daily Rzeczpospolita, EU members France and the UK, who would hate to lose their influence in the UN Security Council, were initially reluctant to accept the idea. Ultimately, they have agreed to a compromise under which the head of EU diplomacy, Catherine Ashton, will have the right to speak on the EU's behalf in the General Assembly but not in the Security Council.

Ah, the good old compromise, which means the creeping influence of the EU can continue unabated via further demands in the future, until it replaces the Foreign and Commonwealth Office altogether. Oh and it will cost us another £8 million for the privilege:
BARONESS Ashton is poised to set up her new European Union diplomatic corps in palatial Brussels offices costing taxpayers more than £8million a year, it emerged last night.

EU officials were understood to be in advanced talks over leasing several floors of the gleaming Triangle building.

The top floor has already been earmarked as an office for Baroness Ashton, the Labour peer appointed to the new post of EU foreign affairs supremo last year.
Still, Lisbon was only a tidying up exercise, wasn't it?


As Fraser Nelson reveals in the Spectator one of the first of Labour's landmines, laid before the election, is primed to go off:

"Has Mark Hoban just become the first victim of the New Labour landmines? He was asked on the Today Programme whether the Treasury had conducted a formal study assessing the impact of the cuts on ethnic minorities. Hoban was speechless - as well you might be. But the assessment, he was told, is required under Harriet Harman's Equalities Act. Has it been carried out? He avoided the question and was asked it again. And so it continued, a la Paxman v Howard.

When Labour retreated, it sewed several landmines in the political territory it was about to cede. One of them was Harman's Equalities Act, which - as Pete blogged a while ago - mandates government "to consider how decisions might help to reduce inequalities associated with socio-economic disadvantage".

Of course if Cameron had any kind of backbone he would have abolished most of these acts the moment he came to office, but didn't - obviously too worried that repealing an 'Equality Act would've undermine the new 'cuddly' Tory image.

Fraser makes another salient point in this rather revealing passage:
In this way, Labour transferred power from parliament (where it was about to lose power) to the courts (where the lefty judiciary reign supreme). Their calculation was that if they did this quietly enough, and in technicalities, the Cameroons would not wise up to it because of their aversion to detail. Cameron should have repealed the Equalities Act instantly.
Aversion to detail? Great! That is going to be so helpful when they start dealing with the complexities of the EU.

The Mail reports today that a challenge to the budget may be about to start:

The Coalition is facing legal action against its Budget from an equality watchdog after analysts found it hammered the poor.

The Equalities and Human Rights Commission said it was considering whether to take the Treasury to court.

The quango said it feared Chancellor George Osborne had not investigated the impact of his Budget on vulnerable groups – such as women, the elderly, the disabled and ethnic minorities – as legally required.

The Treasury is also facing legal action from women’s rights group the Fawcett Society, which says ministers took no account of the Budget's effect on women.

Unelected Quangos are now gearing up to challenge the sovereignty of Parliament in the courts. Tom Harris is still bleating (in some ways understandably) about the inefficiencies of the IPSA, but in truth he and all the others might as well stick a great big sign outside the House of Commons saying: "Closed, until further notice".

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Ciggy Busters Update

Not for me yet unfortuantely, 2 days left to respond to my letter, but Freedom-2-Choose has this:
I received an amazing phone call about half an hour ago from a gentleman by the name of Jim. Now 'Jim' is a reporter working for the Medway newsgroup, I assume the Medway Messenger (?) I was amazed because he had phoned to enquire why we were so angry about the 'Ciggy Busters' article & video-he wanted our side of the story.

Sorry, I'll repeat that for the benefit of the dazed & bewildered...


I informed him very politely that all smokers would find it offensive for the simple reason that it was portraying smokers as 'fair game' for any type of vigilante abuse. (Oh!) It was sending out the message that we agreed with 'wolf packs', ie gangs of kids, marauding the streets taking any chance to intimidate people not of their liking/persuasion. (Oh!)

I then explained that this would not be tolerated if it was aimed at gays, muslims or the disabled. (No. Well of course not Phil)
Then why can a minority faction, smokers, be subject to random attacks when gays, muslims & the disabled are obviously exempted? (Well they are...[pause]...I see...yes...hmm)...

Safe to say 'Jim' is now a lot wiser as to smokers temperament, reasoning & feelings so I think the article will be a fair reflection of what was said this afternoon. He seemed mortified at the thought of a smoker objecting to such treatment and 'smacking' one of these idiot youths 'in the mouth'. He did not answer when I asked what HE thought the police would do in such a circumstance?
Which is a bit different to Kent Police's reply

It's Only A Cat

It seems that the world continues to seek blood letting revenge for the woman who dumped a cat in a wheelie bin. She is now receiving death threats, has her house surrounded by vigilantes and is now being facing the draconian wrath of the RSPCA.

At first I assumed that she was caught by CCTV in the street, but if you look at the photo of the owner's house closely you will see, not one, but three cameras. So the question no-one seems to be asking in the furore is why does the owner feel the need to cover his house with cameras in the first place?

We really haven't got our priorities right.

Greece Is Not Leaving The Euro

Well not yet anyway. It appears that last night there was speculation that an announcement could be made regarding problems in the Euro, stemming from this tweet from Channel 4's Economics Editor. So much so that he later had to clarify:
Blimey. News is domestic UK, nowt to do with Greece... There's just an embargo to respect.
The 'significant' news was in fact the groundbreaking revelations that George Osbourne's budget would hit the poorest families hardest.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Oh How Superior...

...are we?
European affairs are still the domain of a minority of well-informed and alert people, who understand the interdependence and interaction between politics and issues at EU level and national level. Attitudes are passive and they change slowly.

Then there are the flat-earthers who actively keep digging deeper trenches, exemplified by EUReferendum.
With arrogance like that Grahnlaw could almost be a rugby fan.


The BBC reports:
David Cameron has said he is a "very proud dad" after his wife Samantha gave birth to a girl, their fourth child.

The baby - weighing 6lb 1oz - was delivered by caesarean section while the family was on holiday in Cornwall.

Mr Cameron said the new arrival was "absolutely thrilling" and added that the couple had yet to decide on a name.
I would like to add my congratulations. However this is a comment on the Daily Mail site:
I wish she'd lost it. I can't stand these people!
- Hasib, London, England, 24/8/2010 16:41
Aside from the absolute disgusting nature of this comment, it should be noted that this has passed Daily Mail moderation. So why therefore is it so difficult to get other comments pass, that either criticise their articles for the lack of accuracy or that omit the involvement of the EU?

Carswell Is Not Happy

No disrespect from me to Douglas Carswell but Obnoxio The Clown has a pertinent example of how one MP is effectively impotent.


I'm not a fan of cats I admit, but that doesn't mean I endorse cruel treatment of them, however Iain Dale's post here is ridiculous (my emphasis):
I don't know how many of you have seen the CCTV footage on Sky of a woman putting a cat in a wheelie bin, where it stayed for 15 hours until released by the owner of the wheelie bin.

I'm not normally in favour of capital punishment, but for her I'd make an exception.

I have never understood how anyone can be deliberately cruel to animals. I hope this woman is soon identified and that she is then subjected to the full force of the law. Or the tabloid newspaper treatment. Whichever is worse.
Aside from the fact that Iain is having trouble getting the facts right recently, is he seriously suggesting that the woman in question should be executed but not him, him or him?

But as always it seems a case of; 'aren't cats' cute' despite that they kill an estimated 92 million animals a year and are not native to this country?

Labour MP, Kerry McCarthy tried the cute argument initially this time last year when Wilbur in Bristol was eaten by Squash the python:
Chris, don't you have any empathy at all with the cat's owners? I think it's remarkably callous of you to feel able to post something like this when it's obvious the owners are incredibly upset by what happened. I now regret alerting them to the fact that I've blogged about it, as I am sure these responses will just cause them further distress. And cat food only consists of the bits no-one else would eat anyway; that's why you never get bits of pig in catfood, because they're aren't any leftovers - you can eat 'all but the squeak' as they say.
After an overwhelming response of; "good, tough!", Kerry changed tact and try to argue that it wasn't about cats but that snakes shouldn't be pets, even though statistically:
No-one…ever…in the UK has ever been killed by a python despite that some escape or are abandoned each year. Compared to attacks by dogs, they are one of the safest pets to have.
Basically if you want to commit murder and get away with it wear a cute cat mask. Iain Dale and Kerry McCarthy will more than likely support you.

The Ticking Time Bomb

In the 1980's, retired policeman, Rodney Whitchelo, was once asked in a pub whether there was any such thing as a perfect crime, in particular fraud. No, was the reply, because sooner or later people get greedy.

At the time he said this, Whitchelo was already committing his own 'perfect' crime. He was extorting money out of Heinz by contaminating their baby food in supermarkets. What was different about this extortion was that Whitchelo had solved the massive weakness in ransom demand crimes; the risk of being caught to the perpetrator during the exchange of money. He hit upon the simple yet effective idea of setting up false bank accounts and demanding that the money be paid in to them. This allowed him to access it from thousands of cash point machines all over the country. The police simply didn't have the resources to monitor every cash-point all the time, so Whitchelo was able to withdraw money out almost at will and became impossible to catch.

However, Whitchelo was eventually caught because he failed to follow his own advice. He got greedy and so made mistakes.

And it is this greed factor that will undermine the EU. In some ways the concept of the EU is a work of genius; the perfect crime (yes you did read that right). It mostly solves the problem of running a country without legitimacy while avoiding the flak which can result as a consequence of its decisions. As Mark Leonard in 2005 put it:
Europe's power is easy to miss. Like an 'invisible hand', it operates through the shell of traditional political structures. The British House of Commons, British law courts, and British civil servants are still here, but they have all become agents of the European Union implementing European law. This is no accident. By creating common standards that are implemented through national institutions, Europe can take over countries without necessarily becoming a target for hostility.
Exactly, via Directives the EU can change copious elements of a country and get away with it. If the EU were to stop the integration process now and be content with their lot then its survival would be ensured. It is the Directives that make it so hard to fight, you have to continually argue; 'ah yes but that's because of the EU element'. As I'm sure others have experienced it soon gets you a reputation of being an EU obsessive and a bit of a bore.

In truth most people, although irritated by our membership, are not interested in the finer detail of EU regulation (I can't stand it). And hyperactive headlines like this one in the Daily Mail regarding eggs (although false) is not going to encourage change or force people onto the streets.

However the EU's Achilles heel is the greed factor. Transferring sovereign powers to the unaccountable bureaucracy only leads to a lust from them for more and more. An unquenchable thirst that they try to fulfill by a desire that the EU must keep on integrating. With greed comes mistakes. Instead of staying behind the scenes the EU now can't help but put itself in a position of exposing its power openly. An example of this danger for the EU is this report in the Express today:
PATIENTS’ lives have been put at risk by EU rules banning safety tests for foreign nurses working in Britain, experts claimed yesterday.

Thousands of nurses from eastern Europe and other parts of the EU can now work in the UK without language and competency checks because tests discriminate against them, Brussels warned.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) had insisted that foreigners prove they have worked at least 450 hours in the last three years or undergo a refresher course.

But the organisation that regulates nursing in Britain has been forced to drop the rules after pressure from the European Commission and the Department of Health claiming it was breaking EU law on the “freedom of movement”.
Now, no-one is going to kick up much of a fuss about E numbers or bin collections but they will when decisions are made that directly affect their health, and the health of their families, especially when it can been seen as having a direct correlation with the EU. And that's the key. No longer can some decisions be 'disguised'.

This is not the only example, the European Arrest Warrant for instance is another. Again they are unable to hide themselves behind the safety of national institutions. There's far more to come: the EU just can't help themselves and they won't stop. The EU want a fully fledged army, a police force, a secret police, a foreign minister, a President (partly) and all the other trappings of an undemocratic country.

In essence the EU's founding father Monnet was too clever by half, he fatally underestimated the laws of human nature; when you create a system where the unaccountable in control feel comfortable, when they feel safe, then it becomes natural that they greedily want more power and abuse the power they've got. And eventually there's only ever one outcome.

It's now a numbers game, all that is needed is the critical mass of disgruntled protesters and when that happens our relationship with the EU will be game over.

It's inevitable.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Because Inviting People To Consume Drink And Food Is So difficult

The widely mocked instructions on how to hold a party by David Miliband has gone a bit viral in 'Silly Season'.

So sorry I couldn't resist:

hattip: guido fawkes

Cameron Sell Out

Ironies Too alerts me to this particular passage in this European Council report (page 6) from June:
16. The European Council agrees that Member States should introduce systems of levies and taxes on financial institutions to ensure fair burden-sharing and to set incentives to contain systemic risk.1

Such levies or taxes should be part of a credible resolution framework. Further work is urgently required on their main features and issues of level playing field and cumulative impacts of various regulatory measures should be carefully assessed. The European Council invites the Council and the Commission to take this work forward and report back in October 2010.
And the footnote at the bottom of the page?
1 The Czech Republic reserves its right not to introduce these measures.
Despite the desperate "thou doth protest too much" claims of Tories that this is all UKIP's fault, it's clear that Cameron can't sign up to EU measures fast enough, and he was voted in as leader by the...er...Tory Party.

They are not signing up to these measures under duress, but willingly and without a whimper. The Tory sceptics could say and do something but they choose not too. Not even a protest.

Power before principles. The perfect coalition then!


The BBC reports this morning that trials of a new non-medical number are being launched in the North East:

Trials of a three-digit telephone number for those needing non-emergency medical care in England have been launched in the North East.

NHS County Durham and Darlington Primary Care Trusts are to pilot the free 111 number, to act as an alternative to 999, followed by Nottingham, Lincolnshire and Luton.

Although initially a trial it seems clear that there's an intention for it to replace the current system NHS Direct:

The government service will not initially replace NHS Direct, but may do so in the longer term if successful.

If so, it will be available nationwide.

The BBC goes through the obligatory pros and cons of the new system, including this salient point:
...we are concerned this new phone number means the public have to make life or death decisions about whether their situation is a medical emergency.

"We welcome the pilots and would like them to raise awareness and educate the public on when to call 111 or 999."

Meanwhile, in a parallel universe, we have this from 2009:
How can victims of crime get assistance in the EU? Who should EU citizens call if they need non-urgent medical help or advice? New helplines like these should be available soon throughout the EU thanks to a decision taken by the European Commission today. It reserves two new "116" numbers for services of social value. The helpline numbers 116 006 and 116 117 will be reserved for victims of crime and for citizens calling non-emergency medical services across the EU.
Well well. It's no surprise really as telecommunications is an EU competency, for example, there's the EU emergency number 112, 116 123 diverts to the Samaritans, and this Directive led to the abolition of 192 directory inquiries. The press release continues:
Today's Decision requires EU countries to make sure that the two new numbers can be assigned by national telecoms regulators from 15 April 2010. It will be up to the relevant national organisations to apply for the numbers and put them into operation.
And guess what Ofcom's doing:
1.1 This document provides the necessary information for service providers who are interested in applying for the allocation and right to use the UK version of the Harmonised European 116117 number to provide a ‘Non-emergency medical on-call service’.

1.2 The document sets out the two stage selection process, the related activities and timelines. It also provides, in Annex 2, the specific questions to be answered and submitted to Ofcom by 1 October 2010 as part of Stage One of the process in applying for the 116117 number.
Despite that the EU states only the reservation of 116 117 is compulsory not the service:
The Decision obliges EU countries to make "116 numbers" available, but does not oblige them to assign the numbers to a service provider or ensure provision of the services.
What a fine example of gold plating; not only is it made to look, from the BBC report, as if it's an initiative of the Government to try to improve the service, but it's only voluntary and we implement it anyway. At the moment dialing 116 117 comes up unobtainable for me, I wonder how long it will be before it diverts to 111?

It's enough to make anyone want to dial 116 123.

Update: Dizzy Thinks has commented on this proposal blaming the coalition but Ofcom put forward this idea back in July last year (I can't find the original document yet):

UK regulator Ofcom has proposed allocating the number 111 for non-emergency medical advice, arguing that no-one can remember the number for NHS Direct.
And again guess what:
There is some argument that 116117 would make a better alternative: it's been proposed by Germany and is currently in the process of being ratified for unification across Europe.
In the same way for example that EU number 116 111 diverts to Childline, 116 117 is likely to be diverted to 111.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Medway Council

The endorsement by Medway Council of the conduct of these students has annoyed me to the extent that I've decided to write to them via their complaints procedure. The full text of my email is as follows:
Dear Sirs,

I am writing to you to express my concerns regarding Medway Council’s apparent endorsement of potentially illegal activity by some students from The Hundred of Hoo School based in Rochester.

Some students have formed an anti-smoking campaign group who call themselves ‘CiggyBusters’ which, as this article makes clear, involves running through the streets removing cigarettes from members of the public while filming them and the subsequent video has been put on the internet. The organizers, and the teacher, appeared to have confirmed that some members of the public were targeted at random.

As I’m sure you are acutely aware, removing items from people without consent constitutes a criminal act (in this case more than one). Therefore it should be of great concern to Medway Council, that one its employees: Tobacco Control Strategic Coordinator, Rachael Noxon, not only condones this behaviour, but is actively promoting it, as seen by her website and her Twitter feed.

In addition I’m sure you are aware, encouraging criminal activity is also a serious offence; it’s incitement. It contravenes sections 44, 45 & 46 of the Serious Crime Act 2007 (even if the criminal activity featured in the video on the internet is ‘simulated’)

As a non-smoker, I support the involvement of anyone involved in campaigns by means of methods such as; leaflets, T-shirts & posters etc, but the conduct of these students clearly oversteps the mark both morally and legally. It does not take a lot of imagine to appreciate the distress a vulnerable person may feel when approached by gang of young people shouting and taking items from them.

Another ‘campaign’ is planned for September, again with the full endorsement and encouragement of a Medway Council employee.

I trust you will investigate Rachael Noxon’s conduct in this case with the utmost urgency and I look forward to your prompt response.

Yours faithfully
Let's see how they like them apples.

One wonders how long it will be before smokers have to wear yellow stars. Certainly if I had produced a video showing people ripping veils off Muslim women, even if stage-managed, as a protest about Burqas, I would have a visit from Mr Plod very quickly.

It looks like however the students in question are trying to back-track rapidly as they frantically try to remove their names and videos from various websites (the wonders of Google cache). The hostile reaction seems to be scaring them. Good.

Update: I have an auto mail reply confirming they've received it. They have a target of 5 working days to respond.

European Arrest Warrant

Witterings From Witney has a spot-on post regarding this report in the Telegraph today:
The number of people in Britain seized under the controversial "no-evidence-needed" European Arrest Warrant rose by more than 50 per cent last year, figures obtained by The Sunday Telegraph show.

David Blunkett, the former home secretary who introduced the European warrants, admitted he had been "insufficiently sensitive" about how they could be "overused". David Davis, his former Tory shadow, last night called for a "review and reform" of the extradition system.
As Witherings rightly points out:
1. David Blunkett did not 'introduce' the European warrants, the EU did and all Blunkett did was 'administer' their introduction.

2. How David Davis believes that calling for a 'review and reform' can be implemented (which is implied can be done by Westminster) I would love to know.

3. The statement from the Home Office spokesman is likewise misleading as the Government cannot 'review' the UK's extradition arrangements anymore than I can.
The Telegraph concludes with:
A Home Office spokesman said: “The Government is committed to reviewing the UK’s extradition arrangements.”
That's a 'nothing will change anytime soon' comment then

One wonders how long it will be before the 'spacesuit wearing' Theresa May makes a similar "insufficiently sensitive" confession about the European Investigation Order.

Friday, 20 August 2010

There Are Crocodiles

The coalition is considering plans to withdraw benefits to those that refuse treatment for their addictions:
People dependent on drugs and alcohol who refuse treatment could have their welfare benefits withdrawn under plans being considered by the Home Office.

The idea is in a consultation paper on the government's drug strategy for England, Wales and Scotland.

The proposals also suggest that addicts on benefits should not be required to seek work while receiving treatment.
And why not? Why should an illegal activity (at the moment) be propped up with taxpayer's money? It's not free money? Like smoking, my view is, if you want to take copious amounts of drugs, carry on, and like everything else in life accept the possible consequences of making a choice.

Personally I largely err on the liberalisation of drugs side of the fence; what people do to their own bodies is up to them. And the experience of Portugal seems to suggest that decriminalistion has led to positive results from a social point of view:
In the face of a growing number of deaths and cases of HIV linked to drug abuse, the Portuguese government in 2001 tried a new tack to get a handle on the problem—it decriminalized the use and possession of heroin, cocaine, marijuana, LSD and other illicit street drugs.

The theory: focusing on treatment and prevention instead of jailing users would decrease the number of deaths and infections.Five years later, the number of deaths from street drug overdoses dropped from around 400 to 290 annually, and the number of new HIV cases caused by using dirty needles to inject heroin, cocaine and other illegal substances plummeted from nearly 1,400 in 2000 to about 400 in 2006, according to a report released recently by the Cato Institute, a Washington, D.C, libertarian think tank.
This announcement has led to quite a heated debate on BBC's; 'have your say'. The majority of the comments appear to be in favour of some kind of liberalisation of the laws as well. This is not acceptable to some experts though:
Some experts have suggested that withdrawing benefits could lead addicts into crime and prostitution.
Er well tough.

This last episode from the wonderful children's series, Press Gang, of the early '90s sums up my view on having too much sympathy with drug addicts:

Life should be about choices, not so-called 'sympathetic' authoritarian experts.


From BBC commentator Justin Webb. There's so many errors in this tweet it's difficult to know where to start. Not bad when the maximum characters allowed is only 140.

Talking of the BBC, oops:

BBC television presenter Ray Gosling is to be charged with wasting police time after claiming on air that he smothered his terminally ill lover.

The Crown Prosecution Service said Mr Gosling, 71, of Nottingham, should be charged over claims he made to BBC Breakfast's Bill Turnbull in February.

The summons alleges that he "caused wasteful employment of the police by knowingly making to Bill Turnbull a false report tending to show that an offence had been committed. Contrary to sec 5 (2) of the Criminal Law Act 1967".
hattip for the tweet: Biased BBC

Labour's In The Red

They're about to go bankrupt, according to Prescott in today's Guardian:

The Labour party stands on the verge of bankruptcy. We are more than £20m in debt, facing a long-term decline in membership and a crisis in funding.

We are only kept alive by the Herculean work of party staff and volunteers, trade union contributions, high value donations and the goodwill of the Co-op bank.

Going bankrupt? Good. More proof that Labour couldn't identify a healthy balance sheet even if it whacked them over their heads repeatedly.

The article is clearly a pitch by Prescott to be the party's treasurer, but the ultimate outcome of these financial difficulties must be that the Labour party will remain in the union's iron grip more and more. In policy terms it'll be like New Labour never happened. Amusingly Prescott partly blames Brown for the party's financial mess it finds itself in:

We need to strengthen the role of treasurer – not only to hold the leadership to account in unnecessarily spending money we don't have, but also to make sure we have the campaign capacity to deliver.

For example, the so-called "election that never was", in 2007, cost the party £1.5m in preparation costs which could have been spent on funding the disastrous 2009 European and local elections, for which Labour ran no real campaign.

This would be the same man who attempted to defend Brown with this in 2008:

To ACLB who talked about the "Tory sea", "rearranging deckchairs" and "getting a new captain", I always find it interesting when people use maritime analogies when they talk about leadership.

But it wasn't the captain that sank the Titanic - a ship they claimed was unsinkable - it was the iceberg. The best way to avoid disaster is to manage your way around the problem.

And speaking as someone who's served on a ship and in a leadership, the best person to steer us through is a captain with the experience to navigate through these stormy financial global seas.

For me, it's all about setting the right course. That's why I've always favoured policy over personality and why I believe Gordon's the right captain.

And who voted for him to be PM despite having worked with him for years.

A-Level Girls

The annual bun fight of; 'A-Levels have got easier / oh no they haven't because students' work harder' bores me silly. It happened when I took them nearly 20 years ago and nothing's changed since. So generally I have no comment to make.

However I thought I would highlight this rather sneering article by Political Scrapbook:

In a few hours tomorrow’s front pages will be released. Scrapbook will wager a penny to a pound that, like every year following A-Level results, the attractive young girls won’t be confined to page 3. And it’s not just the red tops that are at it. As this transgression from The Guardian illustrates, the so-called quality newspapers will tantalise their middle-aged readership when it thinks teacher isn’t looking (all in the interests of quality journalism, of course).

Papers show pretty girls on the front page shocker. Blimey how disgraceful! Although it's not such a problem as having to share a hall with said pretty girls and trying not to be distracted when taking exams.

A few women of my acquaintance hate football but take a surprising interest in any of my FourFourTwo magazines which show pictures of David Beckham or Jose Mourinho (which it does very frequently, hmm I wonder why?)

I wonder if Political Scrapbook would be just as sneering then. Probably not, because that's different isn't it?

Quote Of The Day

From Mary Ellen Synon:
The more traitorous a Tory is surrendering British sovereignty to the EU, the more he prospers under the Cameron Tories.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

First They Came For....

I don't smoke, unfortunately my wife does (despite me advising her not to, but hey ho her choice) however activities like this only encourage me to take up the activity in defiance:

Sadly the only astonishing thing about this, is not that it happened, but that someone (i.e. a victim) didn't respond in a ...erm...more robust manner.

hattip: Corrugated Soundbite

The Weakest Link

A contestant on today's episode has just been asked; "which of the following is a palindrome, a kayak or a canoe? The contestant answers with canoe.

Oh dear.

Tick Tock

Apparently this week has marked the milestone that was the Coalition's first 100 days in power.

My thoughts have been pretty evident on the Coalition from previous posts; in summary it has been more of the same. Yes there have been substantial cuts, but these would have to be made anyway (despite Labour's apparent denials) and a couple of other welcome changes. EU policy of course has not only remained the same but voluntarily gone much much further - as expected.

However what really has struck me, and amused me in equal measure, in the last 100 days is the hemorrhaging of support for the Liberal Democrats. They are dropping in the polls at an alarming rate, were hammered in the Bilston North Ward council by-election in Wolverhampton, where they were behind UKIP, and appear to be losing members to Labour in significant numbers. The Independent recently highlighted that:

ComRes found that more than one third of people who supported the Liberal Democrats at the election have abandoned the party. It has held on to 63 per cent of its voters, compared with the 92 per cent of Labour voters and 94 per cent of Conservatives who have remained loyal. The proportion of 18- to 24-year-olds supporting the Liberal Democrats has dropped in each polls since the election and now stands at 26 per cent.

This fall is alarming for the party as surging support among young adults during the election campaign accounted for much of its rise.

So despite the 'pals' act' of Cameron and Clegg, 100 days is too early to celebrate the long term success (or failure) of the unity of the coalition, although it didn't stop Iain Dale trying:
When the Coalition was formed back in May, the cynics said it wouldn't last. The media have spent the last three months vainly searching for signs of splits and laying bets as to who might be the first Cabinet Minister to resign. Every minute mistake was analysed to the 'n'th degree. Every prime ministerial comment was rated on a 'gaffe-ometer'.
This is the first time the Lib Dems have been in power for nearly a century, so they are unlikely to knife their leader so soon. The trappings of power is still a novelty to them. Wait until the cuts kick in and the novelty wears off. Tick tock. Already there are unhappy Lib Dem MPs jockeying for position for when the collapse happens.

In the meantime I take great delight in the fact that Lib Dem voters feel conned:
Alex Kear, 32, the chairman of the Liberal Democrat branch in Worcester, said he had quit the party and joined the Green Party because he regarded the coalition as an "unforgivable sin".

He said: "I have stuck with the Liberal Democrats my entire life but now, I'm afraid, I can't do it when they have betrayed me and betrayed my confidence."

Miss Langdon, 43, who runs a recycling company, said:"I had done leaflet drops and donated money [for the election] but I feel now I have been conned. I might as well have been campaigning for the Tories because the Lib Dems are now propping up their government."
[Long-standing Lib Dem member Rodney Smith] is particularly disillusioned by his party leader. "Nick Clegg has entered into a coalition with a party that has a commitment to unfairness and inequality deeply ingrained within its DNA,"
The Lib Dems duplicitous? Now who would have thought that? As the old cliche goes, any party which has the words; 'Liberal' and/or 'Democrat' in it usually turns out to be comprehensively neither.

Bless their little cotton socks.

Lies, Damn Lies...

It's an unofficial policy of mine to rarely link to these far-left Neanderthals, (I notice the website design has suffered considerably since their designer quit on the eve of the Election) but my attention has been drawn to this line in their reaction of Lord Pearson's resignation:
Despite UKIP fighting nearly every seat in the country, their total vote collapsed by over two million nationally, while the BNP, which only fought half the number of seats, saw its vote percentage increase.
Collapsed? Odd how did they come to that conclusion?
2005 UKIP vote: 605,973
2010 UKIP vote: 920,334
Increasing the total vote by over 314,000 looks a strange collapse to me. Ah but if you compare 2010 with the 2,498,226 that UKIP achieved in the Euro elections last year then it looks rather different. So have these idiots compared like with like.
2009 BNP vote: 943,598
2010 BNP vote: 563,743
On that basis the BNP lost nearly 380,000 votes, hmm not quite the increase they claim, they must have compared theirs with the 2005 election.

So to 'prove' their point they compare UKIP's vote with the EU elections but their own with the 2005 election and all this in an article ridiculing Lord Pearson's honesty.

Desperate stuff.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

The So Called 'Liberal' Party Continues To Leak Members

An arrogant, sanctimonious Liberal commentator jumps ship:

This has probably been the most difficult political decision I’ve made yet. Being an independent lefty was a badge I wore with pride; it gave me the license to criticise and praise any political party without the baggage that comes with affiliation.

The decision to nail my colours to the mast then wasn’t taken lightly.

But eventually, I don’t think it was possible to sit by idly while the Coalition tries to better Thatcher in destroying the welfare state. I wanted to get involved in the fight-back but I also wanted to be part of a political movement that articulated an alternative. And so, the political climate forced my hand.

Nothing like principles eh, Sunny Hundal? Apparently Sunny says:
But joining Labour was not an easy choice. I could not bring myself to vote for Labour in May 2010 because too many of its MPs tried their best to alienate centre-left voters like myself. It wasn’t just Iraq, ID cards, child detention centres, obscene anti-terror laws or the lock-em-up approach to prisons It wasn’t just that a close friend had talked to a seven yr-old from Congo who had been imprisoned for months just for seeking asylum and pursuing an education here.
Not an easy choice? Hmm you were a member of the Lib Dems and have crossed the floor to the Labour party both of whom support this policy (my emphasis):
Catch criminals, sex offenders and terrorists. Our MEPs support greater co-operation between police forces such as the European Arrest Warrant that helps Britain swiftly bring back suspects to face justice in this country rather than wait for the old lengthy extradition procedures.
The same 'Liberal' views that has led to this and this and this.

Not so difficult a choice, or being cynical maybe a decision based on the fact that Lib Dem voting shares have significantly suffered since the election?

Weatherman Apologises For 'Giving The Finger'

The BBC has been forced to apologise to viewers after one its weathermen was caught giving the finger live on air:

Tomasz Schafermaker made the gesture at presenters Simon McCoy and Fiona Armstrong on the BBC News channel.

They said his forecast would be "100% accurate and provide all the detail you could possibly want".

The flustered weather presenter then realised he had been caught on camera and tried to cover up what he was doing by scratching his chin.

A BBC spokesman said: "Tomasz was not aware that he was on air, and whilst the gesture was only shown for a second, it was not acceptable.

"The News Channel presenter live in the studio acknowledged a mistake had been made, and we apologise for any offence caused."

The Polish-born weatherman began presenting on BBC Southeast Today in 2001 before joining the main BBC channels in 2006.

And here's the full footage courtesy of YouTube:

The Red Herring

One of the ongoing debates, for and against, EU membership is regarding the number of laws that originate from the unaccountable unelected law-making factory based in Brussels (mostly).

Those that are more eurosceptic quote higher figures. For example UKIP often cite 75% as the total number of laws (downgraded from an earlier claim of 84% because we're not in the Euro), and other eurosceptic proponents quote similar figures or higher.

The UKIP figure, and subsequent others, was largely based on research by the German Ministry of Justice, which compared the legal acts adopted by the Federal Republic of Germany between 1998 and 2004; with those adopted from the EU in the same period.

This figure, however, has difficulties in that we are comparing one country with a different legal system to another, and that the UK has different opt-outs which Germany does not such as; health, education and defence.

However, even Cameron, in public, admits:
Almost half of all the regulations affecting our businesses come from the EU.
(As it's Cameron, that figure clearly can't be right!)

Today, Open Europe reveals from a report by the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions that (translated from this):
A new report from the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions shows that 60 percent of the decisions taken in an average Swedish local authority, and 50 percent of decisions taken in the country's regions are impacted by the EU. Procurement in the healthcare sector, state aid during sales of land and property, animal welfare inspections and EU subsidy programs are all examples of how the EU affects local and regional decision-making, states the report. The findings in the report are based on decision-making agendas from 30 local authorities, 7 healthcare regions and one region.
So we have different but rather high estimates for the number of EU laws passed. Those (usually) on the left side of the political fence in favour of the EU project quote much lower numbers; for example Left Foot Forward (LFF emphasis):
This is plainly nonsense, both the claim that the Government “have refused to say” the proportion of laws that come from Brussels, and the figure he quotes. The House of Commons Library states that only 9.1 per cent of UK laws stem from the EU.
Tom Harris cites the same statistic (I would quote it, but he has mysteriously removed the blog post since but it was the 9% figure) and so did Caroline Flint on BBC Question Time in May 2009. That would be the former Minister For Europe who admitted she never read the Lisbon Treaty in full (I'll believe her then)

The 9% figure so beloved of the left is not the entire truth either. As I wrote on Left Foot Forwards' website at the time (my emphasis):
That report stated that 9 per cent of all statutory instruments originate in Brussels NOT 9 percent of laws. Obviously Statutory Instruments are not ALL laws, it for example ignores EU Regulations which are directly applicable.

No-one actually knows, reports in different counties give wildly different conclusions. I suspect Hannan’s figure is too high, but your ‘expose’ of 9% is equally misleading.

Besides, the percentage is irrelevant – until an EU Government can be voted in or out by me directly, then the percentage should be 0%.

So the issue is that no-one can quite agree on the actual real figure. Statistics are a politician's best friend because you can prove any argument with them. The Sex Pistols could have named their magnum opus "Never Mind The Statistics" and its meaning would have still remained the same (and saved them a court case).

So wildly differing quotes of statistics and not all of them can be right. But in all honesty the actual figure is irrelevant - a sideshow. Essentially the EU argument goes as follows:
Europhile: "The EU is good for us because only 49.9% of laws are made in Brussels. So we still control our own contry".

Eurosceptic: "The EU is bad for us because over 50.1% of laws are made in Brussels, so it's wrong that the majority of our laws are created elsewhere".

Eurosceptic: "Actually I win the argument even more because I've found an extra EU law down the back of the sofa".
It doesn't matter whatever the figure is, (and everyone agrees that Brussels intrudes on our lives albeit with varying degrees), the facts remain; the percentage will only increase until we leave, and that none of our laws should be made in Brussels.

100% of laws that we have to be abide by should be made by a body subjected to democratic control. In short no law should be imposed on me without an opportunity to remove it via the ballot box.