Sunday, 31 October 2010

The End Of The FCO?

Since the Tories won in May (sorry the Coalition) EU integration is continuing at such a pace it's getting increasingly more difficult to keep up. Peter Oborne in today's Telegraph has this email regarding the implications of the Spending Review for the future of British diplomacy:

Peter, following the Spending Review, Foreign Office funding by 2014-2015 (GBP 1.3 billion) will be exactly half the amount envisaged for the nascent European External Action Service (which will have risen to Euro 3 billion by then, or GBP 2.6 billion).

This will reflect a fundamental shift in UK diplomatic influence and activity.

Civil servants and diplomats follow the money. It is one of the reasons why historically in Brussels the best quality civil servants and diplomats tend to come from Ireland and other smaller states – because the EU budgets far exceed their own home country’s ministry budgets. That was never the case for the larger countries in the EU, until now.

A young diplomat from the UK joining up in 2015 will be faced with option of joining the UK diplomatic corps or an EU corps with twice the funding. Which will the most ambitious opt for?

This revolution in UK diplomacy is taking place against a backdrop of a Foreign Office already thrown into internal confusion by David Cameron.

He has this year paved the way for a commercial-first policy for diplomats, saying that UK diplomacy should henceforth focus on trade interests. This is all very well, but it goes against the FO tradition of a mixed training and corps in which diplomats moved between trade and political appointments.

He also caused consternation by moving a non-career diplomat – Simon Fraser – to become the permanent secretary for the diplomatic corps as of July this year. Fraser was at the department of business before that. It was the first time a non-diplomatic background civil servant had got the job.

Interestingly before 2009 Fraser was on secondment to Brussels for four years where he was Peter Mandelson’s trade spokesman. He is a europhile. That will probably not give the FO much confidence as moves into a demographically weak position vis a vis its new European rival corps!

None of it a surprise. The Tories simply can't give this country away fast enough.

The Greatest Prime Minister Since Gordon Brown...

A good spot by Witterings from Witney of this marvellously acerbic article by Gerald Warner in the Scotsman:
"REJOICE! Rejoice! It is Dave's South Georgia moment. The greatest prime minister since Gordon Brown has won a stupendous victory over the European Union - in his own words, a "significant prize" - by restricting the increase in the EU budget to a paltry 2.9 per cent. Makes you proud to be British. Gawd bless yer, Mr Cameron, you're a toff! They don't like it up 'em… This latest British "victory" bears some uncomfortable resemblance to such historic triumphs as the Charge of the Light Brigade and the three previous Afghan Wars."

"Six months into his premiership, the EU wide boys have already taken the measure of Dave as a hollow man, full of wind and what's-it. It is a pity a larger proportion of the British electorate did not share that insight."

"Last week Dave described himself as a Eurosceptic. With Eurosceptics like that, who needs Ken Clarke?"
Ouch!

Stephen Fry

Now there's something I thought I would never see, Stephen Fry upsetting feminists. It looks like in response on twitter, that Fry has had a hissy fit.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Hostage To Fortune

Cameron's going to regret this:



My wife knows how he feels, before she went out this evening she got a 'guarantee' from me that I wouldn't have more than 2.9 cans of Stella, sadly I got carried away, I've ignored her and had far more (maybe 6). Oh there's trouble ahead but hey what can she do now?

Update: This is an extract from a Cameron email from 30th April 2010:
With trust in politics at an all time low and people tired of politicians breaking their promises, this contract couldn't be clearer...

...And I can understand why: the years of broken promises, the expenses scandal, the feeling that politicians have become too remote from the people - they've all taken their toll. That's why I'm making this contract with you.

For too long, you've been lied to by politicians saying they can sort out all your problems. But it doesn't work like that. Real change is not just about what the government does. Real change only comes when we understand that we are all in this together; that we all have a responsibility to help make our country better.

Ugly

Personally I've no problem about Harriet's ugly politics, if she wants to personally insult another person then that's the price of living in a free country - even if it does understandably upset other people. Though the more unhappy the Lib Dems are, the better in my view.

My objection is that she is the woman who introduced this nonsense (my emphasis):
An Act to make provision to require Ministers of the Crown and others when making strategic decisions about the exercise of their functions to have regard to the desirability of reducing socio-economic inequalities; to reform and harmonise equality law and restate the greater part of the enactments relating to discrimination and harassment related to certain personal characteristics...
Yet again one rule for them...

It's interesting to note with how little grace that Labour have taken to opposition.

10 Years?

This article in the Economist highlights the difficulties Angela Merkell had about amending the Lisbon treaty at the recent European Council meeting. Merkell is worried, with good reason, that the current challenge in the German Constitutional Court to the Greek bailout may prove successful, however other countries are worried (i.e. Cameron) of the problems that changing the treaty would unleash:

Viviane Reding, the European Commission’s vice-president, spoke for many national leaders when she declared yesterday: “Look back at what had to happen with the Lisbon treaty. We needed ten years to bring that treaty into being. So for heaven's sake, I think it would be irresponsible, and I say that again, if we were to reopen the Pandora's box.”

Now do you spot anything odd about that quote? The Lisbon Treaty negotiations didn't start until June 2007 - that's only 3 years ago. Now, for a coincidence, the EU Commission's university; the European University in Florence just so happened in 2000 to produce a draft report of an EU 'Constitution' in the same year as we had these quotes:

"The Charter of Fundamental Rights should be seen as the central element of a process culminating in the European Union's adoption of a constitution. " — Resolution of the European Parliament, Agence Europe, 16th March 2000

"There is good reason to accept this text as the basis for an eventual European constitution." — German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder , The Irish Times, 16th October 2000

And there was me thinking that the Lisbon Treaty was different because Labour said so:

Secondly, we do not propose to have a referendum on the reform treaty precisely because it is not a constitution.
Update: The Final Redoubt 'celebrates' the upcoming anniversary of the Czech Republic's capitulation on Lisbon.

Friday, 29 October 2010

Is This Man Stupid?

Here (my emphasis throughout):
Amid criticism from some within his own party that he should have pressed for a budget freeze, or a cut, Mr Cameron insisted he had made "a real difference" by putting the 2011 budget on the agenda and persuading other states to reject the "crazy" 5.9% rise - which he said was now "dead". While he had wanted a freeze, he said had been "looking down the barrel of a potential 6% increase" and his aim had been to stop it adding: "We have succeeded quite spectacularly, we put together a big alliance to stop that juggernaut of 6% in its tracks."
"Succeeded quite spectacularly?" Excuse me while I find a tissue to wipe the copious laughter tears from my eyes:
But asked if he could guarantee that the budget would not rise by more than 2.9%, Mr Cameron said: "I am sure they [EU leaders] are good for their word." A spokesman for EU budget commissioner Janusz Lewandowski said the final rise was still uncertain.
Ouch ouch my sides are hurting. And:
Last week Mr Cameron said he was calling for "a cash freeze in the size of the EU budget for 2011". But on Thursday his officials briefed that he had accepted a freeze was not possible.
Oh dear:

Martin Schulz, the German leader of Europe's Social Democrat MEPs, the parliament’s second biggest bloc, said Mr Cameron’s promise was “nonsense” and the Prime Minister was “setting himself up for a fall”.

He said: “The negotiations have barely begun - it is not for Mr Cameron to announce their conclusion.”

He added: “The figures he is talking about bear little relation to reality. He is setting himself up for a fall.

A diplomat from one of EU countries that signed Mr Cameron’s letter predicted that the final deal would be larger than promised. “It will be very difficult to keep at 2.9 per cent with what the parliament is saying,” said the diplomat.

And a European Commission official stressed that Mr Cameron’s guarantee “doesn’t change anything” because legally binding “conciliation” talks continue until Nov 11.

In office but not in power, eh, Mr Cameron?

Coming Up Short

The first big 'confrontation' with Europe and Cameron has come up short. Desperate to follow the Tory golden rules; talk tough first and afterward claim a victory, Cameron can't even do that properly. Spinning the last 2 days as anything other than bad for the British taxpayer is going to be nigh on impossible.

Cameron has been given a very public 'two-fingered get stuffed' statement by the EU over taxpayer's money. As Autonomous Mind wonderfully puts it:
Cast Iron Dave resorts to begging
The Tory mantra 'in Europe not ruled by Europe' has just been exposed in a very public way for the fallacy that it is. There's no disguising that now, and clearly his party is not happy:
I for one am not amused by the EU's staggering claims for more money.

David Cameron needs to know he is pushing many of us beyond the breaking point of loyalty if he caves into the EU on this or the treaty requests from the Germans.
But loyalty to the party not to the country will still prevail. It always does.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

The Tories Are Not Happy (The Told You So Edition)

From Autonomous Mind (hattip EU Referendum)

With each passing day David Cameron’s deceit becomes more evident and further vindicates my decision to resign as a councillor and leave the Conservative Party.

Cameron is an unprincipled and self serving politician of the worst kind. Those Conservatives who hoped when in office he would reveal himself to be a Eurosceptic have had their delusions shattered.

The simple truth is if you want the UK to be a sovereign nation that determines its own laws and regulations and is governed by elected representatives we can remove from office, then do not vote Conservative.

And from ConHome (my emphasis):

But, in reality, it appears that when Labour said our Eurosceptic promises were all hot air, they were right; that when Heseltine said that in government every Conservative Prime Minister is Europhile, he was right; that when UKIP said Conservatives were not to be trusted on Europe, they were right; that when I and others said that the Conservative Party had changed, and that Cameron and Hague were genuinely convicted Eurosceptics who understood what must be done and would not let us down, we were wrong.

There will be consequences.

Bollocks. No there won't. The Tories will do what they always do, bend over, pick up the soap and mutter under their breath; 'please make sure it doesn't hurt too much'.

Former blogger Daniel_1979 (I guess it's the same chap) has a great comment on Norman Tebbit's Telegraph article:
The Tory Party is a Pro-EU party; it has had ample chances to demonstrate otherwise in Governments prior and in coalition more recently.

EU-Sceptic Tories have for years talked about reforming the EU and staying in the party to keep it honest; what more is needed as proof that it will never happen?

I keep reading of EU-Sceptic Tories raising complaints about the Tory led Coalitions actions on the EU. The horse has bolted and the Tory Party helped lock the stable door. What are the EU sceptic Tories doing from within party that has tangible benefit to the getting out of the EU cause? Good and hard working people but I see no evidence that it is helping the UK get out of the EU nor securing any referendum, let alone the one that was promised.

EU Sceptic Tories have help keep EU Sceptic voters in the Tory fold, the Tory party sells out on the EU, and we all get screwed again.

I of course agree with your post, but these events are what I and many other ex-Tories knew would happen, that's why we didn't vote Tory and why the Tories failed to get a majority. The Tory party is historically a great one, but unfortunately a dying one for it is abandoning its members and pursuing its own agenda.
Quite.

Update: Budget 'capped'. That's all right then. Here we go:


And now the Daily Mail is running with it:
Despite demands the runaway bill be reined in, No10 has acknowledged it is powerless to prevent the budget soaring by at least 2.9 per cent - equivalent to an extra £429million from the UK - after failing to gain support from other EU members.
You can only pretend for so long that you run your own country when you don't.

An Increase Is Still An Increase

The EU is dominating the news this morning and that is, as Michael White points out, bad for Cameron:
Watch out! Europe is back on the front pages. That's always a sign of trouble ahead – just what the coalition could do without, because it's a dividing line between the Conservatives and their Lib Dem civil partners...The PM now realises it is too late to prevent an increase in the EU's central budget – welcome to the real world
So much for Cameron's pledge of no bust up with Europe. The problem is that technicalities like this can glossed over but the budget increase is about something we can all understand; money. The anger in newspapers' comments is palpable, although much of it ill-informed, and not always a good barometer, there's no disguising the criticism. Even my wife, who's not politically interested, expressed her disgust this morning at the possible increase (expletives deleted).

Cameron will probably think that negotiating a reduction down to 2.9% or even 2% will be an achievement, but the problem is that unless Cameron can freeze or cut the budget then a rise is still a rise even if it was only 0.1%. And as Richard North points out Cameron is utterly powerless to even achieve that because it's the EU Parliament that will have the final say.

Our powerlessness will be exposed for all to see and at a time of deep anger with public sector 'cuts', a rise in our contribution to the EU is only going to help the eurosceptic camp.

Our exit has just got ever closer.

Round-Up

Blimey, we're being inundated by EU news today. The budget in particular is dominating the newspapers and even BBC Breakfast led with Cameron and the budget this morning (though in part that was an opportunity to rehearse the old Tories are split agenda).

Summary of the budget row so far is; the EU parliament thought of a figure they wanted as an increase, then doubled it. Tories condemn it as unacceptable, at a time of domestic cuts. Cameron plays the tough 'best deal for Britain' card, will probably negotiate the budget down to circa 2.9% by agreeing to treaty changes without a promised referendum. Then Chamberlain Cameron will claim a victory. In reality far more will be given away than was won, as Witterings From Witney spots here. It's all well worn Tory rhetoric, though the tone of the coverage suggests the 'victory for Britain' bit might not being going as well as hoped.

The Telegraph editorial has this corker:
At this week's EU summit, our most instinctively Eurosceptic Prime Minister for 20 years faces a tricky set of challenges.
Hilarious. Cameron is euroscpetic in the same way that I'm a professional footballer (and no that's not me). The comments underneath don't seem convinced either.

Then aside from the budget, the Telegraph has this:

MEPs last week voted for rules that would extend maternity leave to 20 weeks on full pay and introduce a compulsory, fully-paid fortnight off for new fathers. Conservative MEPS voted against the plan, which the Government has promised to oppose.

In a letter to The Daily Telegraph today, business groups representing thousands of British firms urge the Prime Minister to fight the introduction of the rules, which they say would cost Britain £2.5 billion and stop them hiring new staff.

And then this (hattip England Expects)*

The EU has been accused of trying to "hijack" Remembrance Sunday with a £4.7 million plan to put euro-branded commemorative plaques marking "European integration" on war cemeteries and memorials.

MEPs approved plans for "European Heritage Label" to mark sites with "a symbolic European value" that "have played a key role in the history and/or the building of EU".

Given the EU flag already defaces our castles, so it's no surprise they want to move onto war memorials. Apparently you'll be able to send in designs:
The plaques, to be designed by an open competition next year, aim "to strengthen European citizens' sense of belonging to the EU".
Somehow I don't think my entries will win. Then there's two stories which don't mention the EU but are affected by our membership:

Maternity leave, paternity leave, health and safety, PAYE, sex discrimination, ageism, flexible working, parental leave, tougher employment tribunals, a new Equalities Act.

It’s amazing that Britain has any entrepreneurs left at all, given the mountain of red tape that businessmen must cope with — and that’s before they can get on with creating jobs.

And:

Highly skilled migrants have been told to expect much tougher restrictions on coming to the UK without a job offer after Home Office research showed many recent arrivals have ended up in unskilled jobs in Britain.

The report showed that as many as three out of 10 people who were given so-called “Tier 1” visas, which are awarded to high flyers from outside the European Union, ended up doing menial jobs such as shop assistants, security guards and supermarket cashiers.

I'm sure there's more I've missed. Meanwhile here's Douglas Carswell on last night's BBC Newsnight (23 mins in):

*Update: The Telegraph story has drawn an angry response by the EU:
You claim that the EU wants to ‘hijack’ Remembrance Sunday with a plan to put euro-branded commemorative plaques marking “European integration” on war cemeteries and memorials in the UK (27 October). This is nonsense and a serious distortion of the facts, which were explained in some detail to your correspondent.

Under our proposal, which was backed by the European Parliament this week, it will be up to national governments to nominate sites for the award, if they want to. The sites might include places of remembrance. An independent expert panel will assess the nominations it receives from national governments and decide which of them merits the heritage label.

If the panel receives no nominations from the UK, no sites in the UK would display the European Heritage Label.

The EU cannot unilaterally impose the heritage label on anyone.

Though the Telegraph didn't actually say the EU has hijacked Remembrance Sunday, it said; 'The EU has been accused' which might be true if a reporter popped into the nearest pub and ask someone at random what they thought of the proposals.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Cameron's EU Cluelessness Continues

At PMQs today, Labour eurosceptic Kate Hoey asked this question:
The Prime Minister must realise that the British public are facing cuts in services and in their livelihoods. They do not want to see a single penny more given to the EU. In fact, they would like to see brought back some of the money that was given away, unfortunately, by our Prime Minister. Will this Prime Minister please ensure that when he goes into battle for our money, he does not—as happens to many leaders when they are involved in that bloated bureaucracy—roll over? Will he promise that if the EU demands that money, we will just say, “Sorry, we’re not paying”?
To which Cameron replied (my emphasis):
As ever, the hon. Lady talks a good deal of sense...it pains me to say this to the hon. Lady, but we would be assisted if Labour MEPs did not keep voting for higher budgets, which is exactly what they did this week.
But that doesn't appear to be true, a quick look at the voting record here shows that Labour MEPs voted against the entire budget (Labour MEPs are part of the S&D grouping).

Does the man have a clue what he's doing?

Push Me Pull You

You know Cameron's 'don't-mention-Europe' stance is in trouble when even the BBC political editor gets it.

Desperate not to mention the EU issue, and hope it goes away, Cameron is finding out that it doesn't - it comes back for more and more. As I blogged back in June:
Much as the Tories want the EU to go away it won't. We cannot continue much longer with a 'half in and half out' policy. It's either one or the other; a decision made by a referendum. There are so many more issues about to erupt during this parliament that the 'ostrich-non-bust-up-with-Europe' strategy simply won't work. Either they grasp the nettle or it will be done for them.
Desperate to wriggle out of his promise of a referendum on the Lisbon treaty, Cameron gave all sorts of assurances on a 'referendum lock' to appease certain aspects of his party and a large proportion of his grassroots support. But as is becoming clear the coalition, particularly the Tories, are showing a pattern where attention to detail is not a strong point. Thus this 'lock' promise (yet to see the light of day as a bill) is coming back to bite. As Nick Robinson writes:
The problem is that when the prime minister calls Chancellor Merkel and President Sarkozy and President Van Rompuy today he'll be reminded that France and Germany don't want to stand still - they never do. They believe that Europe's institutions need strengthening...
Like a shark that has to keep on swimming to stay alive so the EU has to keep on integrating for the same reason. It is its raison d'etre. However, as is becoming clear, questions regarding the EU in the UK are becoming more frequent, causing awkwardness for our europhile PM:
...when the PM answers questions today or in the tearooms afterwards, he'll be told by his backbenchers that they too don't want the EU to stand still. They want its budget cut and its powers reduced.
So what will Cast-Iron do:
He'll advise his fellow leaders to find ways to strengthen the eurozone without a treaty change which will lead to demands for a referendum here and an unpredictable parliamentary vote. Or, if they insist on a new treaty, he'll insist that it doesn't give Brussels fresh powers over British policy...Thus he will seek to convince all parts of his coalition - within Parliament and beyond it - that Britain is not moving closer to, or further from, the heart of Europe.
In other words, as per Carswell's 5 rules, Cameron will attempt to 'fudge it'. But the more the EU asks - and gets - the less wriggle room there is and the less successful the' staying still and pretending' strategy becomes. Of that Robinson is no doubt:

The moral of the story is, however, that it is only in fairy stories that nothing changes year in,year out. One day the push-me-pull-you will have to go one way or the other and, when he does, there'll be trouble.

We need to grasp the EU membership nettle now, we need a referendum.

Quote Of The Day

This Tweet from EU federalist Jon Worth:

Democratic organisation? Democratic? Hahahahahahahahahahahaha!

Carswell Rules

Yesterday I linked to Douglas Carswell's 5 rules on how a referendum on a new EU treaty for economic governance will be broken.

Well lo and behold up pops Mr Redwood who does the decent thing today by fulfilling at least 3 of the rules in this relatively short post, finishing with:
It will be a good test of the UK government’s negotiating skills, and a chance for them to show how determined they are in wishing to cut back on central controls and high spending budgets in Brussels.
And rule number 5 was:
5. Anyhow, look how tough we've been, getting Europe to mug us for a little less with a slightly reduced budget increase!
It's beyond parody.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

The Tories Are Nazis?

I'm no fan of the Tories as regular readers will know but look at this from Penny Red (my emphasis):
This currently puts me in a far better position than most of London, given that the Tories have just imposed a Final Solution on the urban poor.
Yep, I can see the gas chambers being built already, we're in the midst of the holocaust.

Apparently Penny Red is highly rated as a writer; to me she's just a very angry delusional young woman who reads lots of Marxist books but has fuck all idea how the real world works.

Behind The Times


I don't read the Times anymore since it went behind a 'paywall', however it looks like today that paywall has been removed. Is this Murdoch admitting that he got his strategy wrong?

Update: Woodsy42 in the comments alerts me that the paywall appears to be up and running again. That didn't last long.

How To Silence A Country...

...with just 2 people (my emphasis):

Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson caused offence when he described a car as "speciale needs" - a play on its proper name, Ferrari F430 Speciale.

Media regulator Ofcom investigated after receiving two complaints.

That's right, just 2 bloody complaints - out of an audience of millions:

Ofcom ruled that "the comments made by Jeremy Clarkson in this instance were capable of causing offence."

It went on: "While obviously intended as a joke and not aimed directly at an individual with learning difficulties, the comment could easily be understood as ridiculing people in society with a particular physical disability or learning difficulty."

So? When has offending people been a reason to curb free speech? It was even post-watershed. Anyway here's the offending episode (relevant comments 3.10 mins in):

What are you going to do about that Ofcom?

Update: I know the video's the 'wrong' way round, it looks like someone has uploaded it wrong. To try to get round it I've downloaded it off youtube onto my pc but as yet I still can't 'right' it. Perhaps that's another thing Ofcom may get offended about.

More Cast Iron Promises Go AWOL

Exhibit A:

As I blogged here, the Tory 'promise' of a cap on non-EU immigration is under threat. Eurogoblin rightly points out that the Free Trade Agreement with India requires unanimity in the Council - in effect we have a veto*. But it's clear that the Tories, not wanting to be isolated in Europe, are looking to drop their election promise, not exercise our veto and we are being softened up for the eventual announcement:
David Cameron has hinted that the coalition's controversial proposals for capping non-EU immigration may be watered down.
Perpetually unable to keep his word, should Cameron's wife be getting worried?

Personally I don't agree with an arbitrary cap, but it has come about, ironically because we don't fully control our own borders. The key to a successful immigration policy is enough flexibility to respond to economic circumstances and also to voter concerns. Immigration was the number one issue at the last election.

So faced with relentless complaints by the electorate yet impotent to control immigration from the EU , successive governments have responded in the only way possible - ever more draconian measures on the only area we have control over - non-EU citizens in order to look like they were doing something. But not only is the cap hugely damaging to British business it creates the wholly unfair situation where Commonwealth countries who have regularly provided soldiers to protect our nation have far fewer rights to enter our country, than, say, those from Estonia.

However what Cameron may found out soon enough, while he's showing contempt for voters, is that a weak economy combined with job losses, public sector cuts and uncontrolled immigration makes for a very toxic mix.

Exhibit B:

A post by Douglas Carswell on how another referendum promise will broken:
Now there could well be a new EU treaty, without any referendum - despite what we were promised.
Prepare for the government spin, which will likely say:
1. This new agreement involving France and Germany etc is not really a new treaty.

2. It doesn't involve giving the EU new powers in new areas. Just transfers in existing areas. And when we promised a referendum on any further transfer of new powers, we meant in new transfers of power within new areas. Obviously.

3. Besides, this is not a significant transfer of power. We were careful to say there'd be a referendum only when there were significant transfers. And we don't think this is significant. So there.

4. This new thingy, which isn't really a treaty, doesn't involve us, as we're not in the Euro. Despite what the small print might say.

5. Anyhow, look how tough we've been, getting Europe to mug us for a little less with a slightly reduced budget increase!

By Friday, there's a fair chance you'll have been fed variants of all five of the above....
Indeed Cameron will follow in Labour's footsteps in wriggling out of a commitment on a technicality (i.e. the rejected Constitution abolished previous EU treaties, but Lisbon reformed them; same outcome but different treaty etc).

It's like an election has never happened.

*Update: EuroGoblin is partly right. FTAs can be 'mixed' agreements (include political stuff) and therefore it would require unanimity by member states - in effect creating a veto. This is what happened with South Korea and Columbia. However the EU in general has exclusive competence on FTAs under Lisbon article 188c (formally 133) so any agreement would be subjected to QMV which means no veto for the UK, therefore Cameron could do little about it.

I'm not sure whether 'India' is a mixed agreement. Will update if I find out.

Eurogoblin in the comments confirms that India is a mixed agreement, therefore Cameron has a veto.

Monday, 25 October 2010

It Was A Good Day*

Labour MP Kerry McCarthy this morning on Twitter:


Exceptionally good mood today? Whoops:

The Labour frontbencher Kerry McCarthy has been given a police caution after illegally revealing election results on Twitter.

The Bristol East MP, who was installed as the party's "Twitter tsar" by the former leader Gordon Brown, used the social networking site to give details of postal votes in April.

She boasted to thousands of followers that an early batch showed Labour receiving far more support in her constituency than the Conservatives or the Liberal Democrats – providing figures to back up her claim.

But after a string of replies pointing out that it was against the law to disclose general election results before the final 6 May count, McCarthy removed the post, admitting she had been "thoughtless".

Section 66 of the 1983 Representation of the People Act forbids "any statement relating to the way in which voters have voted at the election" before polls close.

Ms Twitter tsar has been cautioned due to 'Twitter electoral fraud' resulting in a 'criminal record':

A simple caution is not a criminal conviction, but it will be recorded on the police database. It may be used in court as evidence of bad character, or as part of an anti-social behaviour order (ASBO) application.

The record will remain on the police database along with photographs, fingerprints and any other evidence taken.
Priceless.

*Ice Cube

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Your Mother Can't Be With You Anymore

Sunny Hundal from Liberal Conspiracy posts a clip from Paul O'Grady with this headline:

Only one problem, it was Bambi's mum that was shot not Bambi.

When In A Hole...

...stop digging. Nadine Dorries, lying Tory MP has this gem on her blog, defending herself against the torrent of justified criticism (my emphasis):
I would also like to state that every word written on my blog is absolutely true.
This from the same woman who wrote this to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards:
My blog is 70% fiction and 30% fact...I rely heavily on poetic licence and frequently replace one place name/event/fact with another.
So is she lying to her constituents or lying to the Commissioner?

Friday, 22 October 2010

UKIP Leadership

UKIP was featured on today's BBC Daily Politics with a quick profile of the four leadership candidates here (I received my ballot papers a couple of days ago and have already voted):

Liar


In news that is about as surprising as spotting a bear heading towards the nearest woods clutching a newspaper, Tory MP Nadine Dorries is a self confessed liar:
A high-profile Tory MP was accused by a sleaze watchdog of misleading her constituents yesterday after she admitted her popular blog is ‘70 per cent fiction’.
She admitted this as a 'defence' to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards investigation into her second homes allowances. This is an extract from Dorries' letter to the Commission:
My blog is 70% fiction and 30% fact. It is written as a tool to enable my constituents to know me better and to reassure them of my commitment to Mid Bedfordshire. I rely heavily on poetic licence and frequently replace one place name/event/fact with another.
So this is an elected representative who openly admits that she doesn't tell her constituents the whole truth. Charming, don't they deserve better than this? And this is far from the first time that Dorries has brought herself into disrepute:
There are plenty more reasons aside from those listed above that Nadine Dorries shouldn't be an MP. She is a perfect example of why parliamentary reform is urgently needed and why MPs should subjected to more accountability to the electorate.

If she had any kind of dignity she would resign - she won't - and I don't hold my breath that Cameron will do anything. Maybe because Dorries is the perfect metaphor for his party.

Bosman

Blackpool manager, Ian Holloway in his characteristically forthright manner has criticised the state of football and in particular the current Rooney saga at Manchester United:
"I've got big problems with the people running football. They are so wrong it's frightening," Holloway said. I think the game is in trouble..."
Well yes, hard to argue with that, so what does Mr Holloway think the football authorities have got so wrong:
"...you cannot have the Bosman ruling they've got at the moment."
Er...Mr Holloway, the Bosman ruling has nowt to do with football authorities, it was an EU ruling in 1995 regarding freedom of movement for workers. The football authorities can do precisely... nothing about it while we remain a member state - not that the BBC mention this.

As an aside one of the ironies of the ruling, was that Jean-Marc Bosman who brought the case, missed out on the subsequent gravy train that was unleashed, something that he openly admitted in an interview some years ago left him feeling 'bitter' and 'resentful'. My heart bleeds.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Barroso Thinks He's Been Elected

Nigel Farage rightly takes the EU to task for its proposals for direct taxation, however during his speech he prompted the ire from an indignant EU Commission President:
I usually do not intervene, but there is a point of order that I want to make. It is not the first time that Mr Farage, addressing to myself says ‘you have not been elected’. certainly I have not been elected by you, but I have been elected by this parliament. I have been elected in a secret vote by this parliament, and you belong to this parliament.” Barroso said,

“I consider it, always saying that myself or the Commission have not been elected is a lack of respect to the Commission and to the parliament to which you belong.”
I'm not sure what is more amusing about the interjection; that Barroso somehow thinks he's accountable to the people, or that telling off Mr Farage like a naughty school boy is going to make a blind bit of difference or that Barroso should be respected just because he said so. Arrogance is simply not a sufficient enough word to describe the likes of Barroso.

The toy throwing President can found towards end of the video here:



hattip: The Talking Clock

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Direct EU Taxes?

Direct taxation has long been the desire of the EU, despite its political ramifications, which it readily acknowledges:
"EU bureaucrats, already braced for a massive backlash, have advised officials to avoid using the word “tax” because it would be “politically explosive”.
Too right it would be politically explosive. However yesterday the EU Commission still sought to continue to made its case for EU direct taxation, in relation to the budget negotiations for 2014-2020:

To this end, the Commission enumerates, in a non-exhaustive list, the following options for own resources that could be discussed:

  • taxation of the financial sector,

  • EU revenues from auctioning under the Emissions Trading System,

  • a EU charge related to air transport,

  • a EU value added tax,

  • a EU energy tax

  • a EU corporate income tax.

In a technical annex to the Communication, the advantages and disadvantages of each are listed. Most importantly, the future blend of own resources would be a replacement not an addition to the financing of the budget.

I suspect there's an element of sabre rattling here (the first one already seems to have been ruled out). The EU wants a 6% budget increase despite the budget cuts in the member states and is facing resistance. Putting forward proposals for direct taxation, which will be unpopular, looks like very much like a negotiating position for the budgetary increase discussions next year. The UK and Germany have indicated strongly that any form of direct taxation will be vetoed (although with the Cameron's Tories you can never be sure). So let the horse trading begin.

Suffice to say that should such a situation occur, and we all know the EU will return again and again with such demands ad infinitum, then a significant and important line would have been crossed. No longer would my campaign only take on the form of blogging, standing in elections, etc, but a willingness to avoid such taxes (however difficult that proves to be) whatever the consequences.

Update: There's a petition against direct EU taxation here:

Nor Shall My Sword Sleep In My Hand:

The final results of my little poll last week on England's national anthem was as follows

  • God Save The Queen 14%
  • Land Of Hope And Glory 25%
  • I Vow To Thee My Country 8%
  • Jerusalem 42%
  • Ode To Joy 1%
  • Other 4%

Many thanks to all those who took part, we have a clear winner in the marvelous Jerusalem. I'm not sure how some England football players would get on with the words - Wayne Rooney singing; 'And did the Countenance Divine' anyone?

Anyway here's a rousing rendition of the winner from Last Night of the Proms, enjoy:

Monday, 18 October 2010

Getting Your Message Across

One of the immortal phrases of politics that signals the end of a dying Government or institution is: "We failed to get our message across".

With better propaganda they rather arrogantly hope they can improve the poll ratings (their message is worth more than the voters'), but in reality what it actually means is the message has got across very loud and clear - and the voters don't like what they see or hear.

This was a common theme in the dying days of Labour, for example:
1305 Geoff Hoon tells the BBC that Labour is "simply not" getting its message across and that the letter is designed to unite the party behind a leader. He says matters have to be "resolved" ahead of the election.
And Matthew Parris had a great response to this Labour disillusion here in 2008:
On Thursday the voters told Labour to - well, let us say “push off”. By their votes and abstentions they indicated that they don't like the Government any more. They said they've gone off the new Prime Minister in a big way. They didn't mention anything about being ready to change their minds and I don't for a moment believe they are disposed to.

It's over. There was nothing constructive in the voters' message. These elections were not an invitation to change. They were a big two-fingered salute, a raspberry, a pressing of the de-trousered national buttocks to the window of the polling station. The voters are bored, tired, disillusioned and out of love.
Well it seems that the EU is going down the same deluded road:
"the European institutions have learned nothing from the thundering 'Nos' in the [French and Dutch] referendums. Current theory in Brussels is that they haven't explained their work enough. Europe's citizens don't understand what it is all about, according to the European elite."
No, we have received the EU message loud and clear and we don't like it. Can we leave now please?

hattip: Open Europe.

Not Enough Brits...

...working for the EU. That's the BBC view here, an article which clearly argues that Britain's problems with the EU stem in part from not enough Brits working for it. Well they would say that wouldn't they? It begins:

A starting salary of £45,000 plus a relocation bonus of £7,200. A pension worth up to 70% of your final salary and 24 days of leave plus "travel" days. Oh, and a job for life .

All this, and more, is up for grabs if you manage to pass the entrance exams to work for the European Union.

A final salary pension scheme? What's that? A job for life? What's one of those? Nice work if you can get it, which is precisely why it's so popular:
So it is little wonder that in excess of 50,000 eager young Europeans attempt the process known as the Concours every year.

They compete for a mere 320 places and so are, it is argued, the Praetorian guard of European civil servants

But there's a 'problem':

However, while the UK has about 12% of the EU's population, it provides only 5% of the EU's staff.

Now some might say cynically so what? But:

...for Britain's ambassador to the EU, Kim Darroch, this misses the point.

"Brits working in the EU are not working for the British government, they are working for the European Union," he says.

"But what they bring is an understanding of British culture and of the importance in the UK of enterprise and of the British common law system. It's a reality that when you're working with a commission official, if you have a common background, then the relationship is different."

This subtle impact is acknowledged by the few Brits who have actually made it through the exams.

I love the inherent contradiction in the first 2 paragraphs that a British official who has gone 'native' and whose loyalty would be to the EU, would be able to 'fight' Britain's corner albeit subtlety. So why, asks the BBC stroking its jaw in contemplation, are there so few Brits (my emphasis):

...he points to the "negative impression" many have about the EU.

"We all hear the stories about the gravy train; the fat cats; the straight bananas, the bent cucumbers,"

Oh those pesky negative views. And a wonderful lack of irony by the BBC regarding fat cats given the first paragraph of this article. Of course there may actually be other reasons that the EU is unpopular aside from bent cucumbers, and not just by the UK (translated via Google):
Employers in Germany have called on the European Parliament to vote against an extension of maternity leave to 20 weeks at full pay. The plans would lead to higher costs for businesses and could also worsen the employment opportunities of women.
So anyway we are all agreed that we need more Brits at the top table because:
...It is simply a more elegant way of doing business...you work with a bright bunch of people and you make policy that affects peoples' lives."
More elegant because the messy democratic way of doing things doesn't intrude. The coalition unsurprisingly agree:

But the British government is tired of hearing stories like Nick's.

It has already re-started a programme called the European Fast Stream to prepare British candidates for taking the exams.

The event in London on Monday, with Mr Clegg and Mr Hague, is part of the ongoing project of trying to raise the profile of the EU as an employer.

That there is, of course, another solution naturally doesn't get a mention.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Percentage Of Laws From The EU?

It's an old argument; how many laws originate from the EU? Daniel Hannan says 85%, UKIP say 75%, Cameron says half, Labour MPs; Tom Harris, Kerry McCarthy, and Caroline Flint often misleadingly use this House of Commons report to cite 9.1%, as does Left Foot Forward (the report appears to be no longer to be available but it was based on statutory instruments only, so the figure is almost certainly higher in total).

However it's an argument that has won the (misguided) europhile blogger Nosemonkey an award for this marvelous post on the percentage issue. Congratulations to him. The truth is, as he argues, that no-one really knows for sure, but he points me to this recent research paper here. I haven't read it yet mainly due to the consumption of copious quantities of beer - trying to negate the effects of the ridiculous manner of my team losing in the last minute today 5-4.

Suffice to say, for me, the percentage issue is, and always has been, a red herring (rather like the europhiles' obsession with so-called myths).

Any figure is merely an artificial arbitrary line. The argument becomes reduced to one where a certain percentage must mean the EU is good whereas another percentage must mean it's bad. Where to draw the line; 3.1415926535%, 9.1%, 10.7%, 20.8%, 50.346792%, 90.999%?

Quite simply it matters not. The EU is more insidious than the odd food regulation or 'myth' - the point is that 100% of our laws should be made by a democratically elected parliament, and 0% made by an fundamentally undemocratic and corrupt institution.

What Change?

David Cameron often criticised Labour for leaking major policies to the press before announcing them to Parliament first. Osborne is due to announce the long-awaited Comprehensive Spending Review to Parliament on Wednesday, so imagine my surprise, when watching BBC news today after a day's campaigning, at seeing these headlines:
The BBC understands that the health budget is safe from cuts.
And:
The BBC understands that the overseas development budget is untouched.
And:
The BBC learns that the schools budget is safe from cuts.
And:
The BBC learns that the defence budget will be reduced by 8% down from original the 10% treasury proposals after 'hero' Cameron intervenes.
Clearly Cameron will be incandescent with rage at the BBC's persistent and expectational investigative journalism and will announce an inquiry asap.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Harmonising Conditions Of Entry For Non-EU Seasonal Workers

Lord McNally gave this Statement in Lords yesterday regarding the EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council, I thought I would highlight this section (emphasis mine):
The interior session began with the Commission introducing two legal migration proposals: (i) a directive establishing the conditions of entry and residence of third country nationals entering the EU through an intra-company transfer and (ii) a directive on the conditions of entry and residence of third country nationals for the purposes of seasonal employment. The directives were intended to respond to labour market needs, boost EU competitiveness and tackle illegal immigration. Neither directive created a right to admission. The presidency stated that negotiations would continue in working groups on both directives to find solutions to member states' concerns. The UK will decide whether to opt into the proposals by 15 October.
Both of these proposals harmonise the conditions of entry and residence for certain non-EU nationals and also harmonise the procedures for issuing the required permits. These proposals are based on Article 79(2) of the Lisbon Treaty.

The UK has an opt out from the Area of freedom, security and justice, regarding non-EU illegal and legal immigration. So it has until today to decide whether to opt in. I've not yet seen a statement by Damian Green but it will be interesting to see if we do opt in or not. Should we choose to then we would be subjected to enforcement powers by the ECJ and the EU Commission.

Place your bets here.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Quiet Blogging

I'm helping the local UKIP candidate with leafleting over the next couple days in a Council by-election, so blogging likely to be slow.

BBC World Service: European Investigation Order and Arrest Warrant

From Big Brother Watch:

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

A Team Of Carswells

Douglas Carswell demonstrates again why he's a man of principle who has a desire to try to (as best he can*) take his role of backbencher seriously:

“How dare you keep us late this evening, Carswell!” demanded an old-school front-bench colleague.

My crime?

Together with thirty four other Conservative MPs – including many from the 2010 intake - I’ve tabled a motion suggesting that the government might not like to increase our EU budget contribution by almost £2 Billion. Under government proposals, the UK’s net transfer to EU institutions is set to rise from £6.4 Billion to £8.3 Billion, or almost 30 percent.

With the government poised to cut spending on public services, how can that be right? It means we’d be cutting UK public services, and then spending a large chunk of the “savings” on Eurocrats.

If selected, my motion could mean MPs having to debate the EU budget contribution until 10pm. By staying on a couple of hours extra, MPs could save £2 billion – or £15,833,000 per minute. Or enough to fund half a dozen nurses or police officers each second. Worth hanging around in the tea rooms for a little longer, surely?

We often hear people talk about the “new politics”. Well here it is. MPs doing their job holding government to account for how it spends our money.

Again and again Carswell appreciates why he is elected, he openly admits that he would rather sacrifice a ministerial career in order to hold the executive to account.

To paraphrase a famous Liverpool song; "We all dream of a team of Carswells", Politics would be much better for it.

*Note: It's worth pointing out that through no fault of his own Carswell's hands are tied, the UK has no veto over EU budget increases, the MEPs are likely to vote for it. But they may back down if there is a direct EU tax, though it won't be called that:

One thing is clear however, says Mr Lamassoure. "It must not be called a 'European tax'. Once you mix the words 'Europe' and 'tax' in the same sentence it becomes explosive."

Voting On Smoking Ban In Pubs

Voting is currently taking place (12:54) on Tory MP David Nuttall's Ten Minute Rule Motion on smoking in pubs. Given the difference in the level of noise for Noes against Ayes, I think it will be defeated, but we shall soon see.

Update: Ayes 86 Noes 141. Defeated

MARRied TV Star

I wonder who this could be:

A married TV star who won a court order to hush up an affair has discovered the ‘love child’ he thought he had fathered is not his after all.

The man, a journalist and household name, learnt the startling truth following a DNA test, it was reported yesterday.

The dramatic twist comes after he spent years trying to keep details of his affair and the child a secret...

...speculation grew over the identity of the child’s real father.

One name in the frame is a former Labour minister said to have forged a close working relationship with the writer.

It's all a bit seedy.

Update: Guido Fawkes tweets this:
So presumably the injunction against naming the father no longer applies to Andy Marr?

All You Can Eat

Labour MP Kerry McCarthy has blogged here on the trials and tribulations of being vegan, (she also doesn't like celery or fennel either apparently - however I suspect there are many in the world that don't have the luxury of being that fussy) and then she links to a flour power campaign by Greenpeace which I think has something to do with 'eating meat causes global warming' or some such nonsense.

Anyway, amusingly, below the vegan ramblings of Ms McCarthy is an advert which I screen captured here:

Whoops.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

England's National Anthem

I'm currently watching the football, and the singing of 'God Save The Queen', whilst earlier England sung the WI hymn Jerusalem in the Commonwealth Games and became intrigued enough (because I'm too lazy to blog about anything else tonight) to do a fun online poll as to what England's national anthem should be.

Vote in the right hand column.

Tory Wants Internet Censorship

This written question from Hansard (my emphasis):

(Tory) Mr Amess To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills pursuant to the answer of 6 September 2010, Official Report, column 371W, on internet regulation, if he will bring forward legislative proposals to require internet providers to divulge the contact details of persons who leave derogatory or insulting comments about others on internet sites; what recent representations he has received on this issue; and if he will make a statement.

The reply:
(Tory) Mr Vaizey The Government are not proposing to bring forward legislative proposals that would require internet service providers (ISPs) to reveal the contact details of persons who might have left derogatory or insulting remarks about others on internet sites.

My MP does sometimes do something right then. The original question is here:

Mr Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills if he will bring forward proposals to require internet providers to identify individuals who leave derogatory or insulting comments about others on internet sites; under what legislation the internet in the United Kingdom is regulated; what changes are proposed; and if he will make a statement. [12226]

Mr Vaizey: United Kingdom law, including the laws of defamation and libel, does not differentiate between the online and offline environment. What is unlawful offline is unlawful online. Citizens who believe they have suffered derogatory or insulting comments online are able to take civil action to seek redress...

And surprise surprise it has an EU element:

...The Government have issued a Call for Evidence on the European Data Protection Directive and the Data Protection Act 1998 to ensure that there are safeguards for people's personal data. The Call for Evidence, which closes on 6 October 2010, will enable interested parties to inform the Government as to the adequacy of the current data protection laws. The information will then be assessed and used to inform the United Kingdom's... position in negotiations on a new EU instrument for data protection. These are expected to commence in 2011.

Mr Amess is a tosspot, and if you want to leave an insulting comment about him here feel free, anonymously if you like.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Smoke Free Europe?

In an interview to the German paper Die Welt, the EU health commissioner John Dalli has announced his intentions to intensify the campaign against smoking across the EU (via Google Translate, my emphasis):
The European Union will next year intensify the smoking laws. "Will be the target of new legislation on tobacco products, smoking, making in all EU countries less attractive and less harmful," said the European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Affairs, John Dalli, 62, WELT ONLINE. "We must strengthen our efforts in the fight against smoking. The ideal is a smoke-free Europe, "the conservative politician from Malta.

The Commissioner proposes "a significant reduction of toxic and addictive ingredients in cigarettes, like nicotine" in front. He also think about it, cigarettes make it even harder to access, they may be issued by not more visible in a store. He praised the ban on the sale of cigarettes in Britain's supermarkets in 2011 as "exemplary." The Commissioner further said: "Even changes in cigarette packaging are desirable: the more uniform and bland, the cigarette packaging, the better. The cigarette should eventually look so simple that they are not tempted to buy. "Could also appear deterrent warning pictures and detailed information on harmful ingredients on the packaging.

Dalli, who in his own country first finance and then was Minister of Social Affairs, also calls for the consistent enforcement of smoke-free environments. A "complete ban on smoking in all public spaces, transport and the workplace is necessary. Exceptions for corner bars and beer tents I do not think makes sense, because this is not just about the health of visitors, but also the employees." The economic arguments that would temporarily run as a reason for exemptions for smoking in the field were not convincing . "It can not be that the economic benefit is more important than the health of people," said Dalli.
In short the anti-smoking measures by the UK is likely to be enforced in an update of the Tobacco Products Directive, rendering any smokers' campaigns in this country redundant; effectively disenfranchising them.

The EU's public consultation on updating the Directive can be found here, and you can make your feelings known to the Commissioner here.

We've Got 'Em Rattled

From Andrew Marr:
"Most citizen journalism strikes me as nothing to do with journalism at all. A lot of bloggers seem to be socially inadequate, pimpled, single, slightly seedy, bald, cauliflower-nosed, young men sitting in their mother's basements and ranting. They are very angry people. OK – the country is full of very angry people. Many of us are angry people at times. Some of us are angry and drunk. But the so-called citizen journalism is the spewings and rantings of very drunk people late at night."
This from the renowned Brad Pitt look-a-like Andrew Marr who once used a super-injunction to prevent the press from revealing his affair.

Less the words of wisdom from an experienced journalist more the rantings a man who knows his profession is under siege. The cosy consensus of the BBC, Guardian and the rest used to dictating the agenda is being threatened and they don't like it one bit. People can now by-pass the traditional lines of authority on what is or is not news and find out for themselves. Yes many things on the internet are puerile or nasty but the best blogs will always rise to the top. It's called democracy and often it gets a little messy.

And if Marr and his ilk want someone to blame then I suggest they find the nearest mirror. It's the blogosphere that has led on many issues while the MSM has stayed schtum. They have failed in their duty as the 'fourth estate' - nature abhors a vacuum and the blogosphere is filling that vacuum.

hattip: Iain Dale

Saturday, 9 October 2010

"Global Warming Is The Greatest And Most Successful Pseudoscientific Fraud I Have Seen"

From James Delingpole is this resignation letter from Harold Lewis (Emeritus Professor of Physics, University of California). I reproduce it here in full because on the 'wow-o-meter' it's simply off the scale:
Dear Curt:
When I first joined the American Physical Society sixty-seven years ago it was much smaller, much gentler, and as yet uncorrupted by the money flood (a threat against which Dwight Eisenhower warned a half-century ago). Indeed, the choice of physics as a profession was then a guarantor of a life of poverty and abstinence—it was World War II that changed all that. The prospect of worldly gain drove few physicists. As recently as thirty-five years ago, when I chaired the first APS study of a contentious social/scientific issue, The Reactor Safety Study, though there were zealots aplenty on the outside there was no hint of inordinate pressure on us as physicists. We were therefore able to produce what I believe was and is an honest appraisal of the situation at that time. We were further enabled by the presence of an oversight committee consisting of Pief Panofsky, Vicki Weisskopf, and Hans Bethe, all towering physicists beyond reproach. I was proud of what we did in a charged atmosphere. In the end the oversight committee, in its report to the APS President, noted the complete independence in which we did the job, and predicted that the report would be attacked from both sides. What greater tribute could there be?
How different it is now. The giants no longer walk the earth, and the money flood has become the raison d’être of much physics research, the vital sustenance of much more, and it provides the support for untold numbers of professional jobs. For reasons that will soon become clear my former pride at being an APS Fellow all these years has been turned into shame, and I am forced, with no pleasure at all, to offer you my resignation from the Society.
It is of course, the global warming scam, with the (literally) trillions of dollars driving it, that has corrupted so many scientists, and has carried APS before it like a rogue wave. It is the greatest and most successful pseudoscientific fraud I have seen in my long life as a physicist. Anyone who has the faintest doubt that this is so should force himself to read the ClimateGate documents, which lay it bare. (Montford’s book organizes the facts very well.) I don’t believe that any real physicist, nay scientist, can read that stuff without revulsion. I would almost make that revulsion a definition of the word scientist.
So what has the APS, as an organization, done in the face of this challenge? It has accepted the corruption as the norm, and gone along with it. For example:
1. About a year ago a few of us sent an e-mail on the subject to a fraction of the membership. APS ignored the issues, but the then President immediately launched a hostile investigation of where we got the e-mail addresses. In its better days, APS used to encourage discussion of important issues, and indeed the Constitution cites that as its principal purpose. No more. Everything that has been done in the last year has been designed to silence debate
2. The appallingly tendentious APS statement on Climate Change was apparently written in a hurry by a few people over lunch, and is certainly not representative of the talents of APS members as I have long known them. So a few of us petitioned the Council to reconsider it. One of the outstanding marks of (in)distinction in the Statement was the poison word incontrovertible, which describes few items in physics, certainly not this one. In response APS appointed a secret committee that never met, never troubled to speak to any skeptics, yet endorsed the Statement in its entirety. (They did admit that the tone was a bit strong, but amazingly kept the poison word incontrovertible to describe the evidence, a position supported by no one.) In the end, the Council kept the original statement, word for word, but approved a far longer “explanatory” screed, admitting that there were uncertainties, but brushing them aside to give blanket approval to the original. The original Statement, which still stands as the APS position, also contains what I consider pompous and asinine advice to all world governments, as if the APS were master of the universe. It is not, and I am embarrassed that our leaders seem to think it is. This is not fun and games, these are serious matters involving vast fractions of our national substance, and the reputation of the Society as a scientific society is at stake.

3. In the interim the ClimateGate scandal broke into the news, and the machinations of the principal alarmists were revealed to the world. It was a fraud on a scale I have never seen, and I lack the words to describe its enormity. Effect on the APS position: none. None at all. This is not science; other forces are at work.

So a few of us tried to bring science into the act (that is, after all, the alleged and historic purpose of APS), and collected the necessary 200+ signatures to bring to the Council a proposal for a Topical Group on Climate Science, thinking that open discussion of the scientific issues, in the best tradition of physics, would be beneficial to all, and also a contribution to the nation. I might note that it was not easy to collect the signatures, since you denied us the use of the APS membership list. We conformed in every way with the requirements of the APS Constitution, and described in great detail what we had in mind—simply to bring the subject into the open.

5. To our amazement, Constitution be damned, you declined to accept our petition, but instead used your own control of the mailing list to run a poll on the members’ interest in a TG on Climate and the Environment. You did ask the members if they would sign a petition to form a TG on your yet-to-be-defined subject, but provided no petition, and got lots of affirmative responses. (If you had asked about sex you would have gotten more expressions of interest.) There was of course no such petition or proposal, and you have now dropped the Environment part, so the whole matter is moot. (Any lawyer will tell you that you cannot collect signatures on a vague petition, and then fill in whatever you like.) The entire purpose of this exercise was to avoid your constitutional responsibility to take our petition to the Council.

6. As of now you have formed still another secret and stacked committee to organize your own TG, simply ignoring our lawful petition.

APS management has gamed the problem from the beginning, to suppress serious conversation about the merits of the climate change claims. Do you wonder that I have lost confidence in the organization?

I do feel the need to add one note, and this is conjecture, since it is always risky to discuss other people’s motives. This scheming at APS HQ is so bizarre that there cannot be a simple explanation for it. Some have held that the physicists of today are not as smart as they used to be, but I don’t think that is an issue. I think it is the money, exactly what Eisenhower warned about a half-century ago. There are indeed trillions of dollars involved, to say nothing of the fame and glory (and frequent trips to exotic islands) that go with being a member of the club. Your own Physics Department (of which you are chairman) would lose millions a year if the global warming bubble burst. When Penn State absolved Mike Mann of wrongdoing, and the University of East Anglia did the same for Phil Jones, they cannot have been unaware of the financial penalty for doing otherwise. As the old saying goes, you don’t have to be a weatherman to know which way the wind is blowing. Since I am no philosopher, I’m not going to explore at just which point enlightened self-interest crosses the line into corruption, but a careful reading of the ClimateGate releases makes it clear that this is not an academic question.

I want no part of it, so please accept my resignation. APS no longer represents me, but I hope we are still friends.
Hal