Sunday 28 March 2010

Still Quiet On The Western Front

Sorry, blogging still quiet, I've had a very busy week for one reason or another, so blogging has taken a back seat. I hope to resume in anger this week, especially now that the official election campaign is not far away.

The picture on the left is my car - only 3 weeks old - after some knobhead idiot in a red mark III Golf decided on Saturday that he would ram me (well my wife - she was driving) off the dual carriageway because we happened to be in the way of him trying to undertake someone else. I'm still trying to trace him.

All credit to airbags and the 'all-new Astra' safety measures that we walked away with nothing more than a couple of bruises.

In the meantime I would like to refer you to this post by Mark Wadsworth, via Witterings from Witney of yet another EU impact on our lives, in this case regarding the clocks changing, which hitherto I was unaware of:
As I have pointed out in a detailed comment on Mr Ellwood's article, this is a matter of EU law - Directive 2000/84/EC - which cannot be changed unilaterally by the UK government.

The UK government does not have the freedom to do what Mr Ellwood wants, which is to move clocks forward by one hour for the whole of the year, unless it also moves them forward by an additional hour for the agreed period of summer time:

"Article 1: For the purposes of this Directive "summer-time period" shall mean the period of the year during which clocks are put forward by 60 minutes compared with the rest of the year."

The concluding passages of my comment may seem harsh, but I'm fed up to the back teeth with UK politicians, especially Tory politicians, abusing their positions of trust by deliberately pulling the wool over the eyes of the public about the EU:

"If Mr Ellwood is unaware that this matter which so greatly exercises him is subject to existing EU law, which cannot be changed unilaterally by the UK, then he's unfit to be a government minister. On the other hand, if he is aware of the EU law but he deliberately chooses not draw the attention of readers to its existence, then he is unfit to be an MP, let alone a government minister."

I stand by that.
Is there nothing we can do on our own anymore?

Wednesday 24 March 2010

Thursday 18 March 2010

It's Oh So Quiet

My blog will be rather quiet now for a few days, I'm attending the UKIP Spring conference tomorrow in Milton Keynes which will see the unveiling of the UKIP's election campaign, then I will be helping out Nigel in Buckingham on Saturday with a mass canvass, and then I'm due to attend a hustings meeting on Saturday evening.

Sunday will be taken up with D.I.Y to prepare my bathroom for the new one, ordered my wife, being delivered on Monday (she clearly thought I didn't have enough to do) and in all that I miss my first home game of the season.

Wednesday 17 March 2010

The Digital Economy Bill

The controversial Digital Economy Bill has now passed the House of Lords and is now likely to become part of the Parliamentary 'wash up' process before dissolution of Parliament:
The Digital Economy Bill is now expected to be rushed through the Commons before the general election.

The bill, put forward by Business Secretary Lord Mandelson, has been welcomed by the music industry because it includes plans to suspend the internet accounts of people who persistently download material illegally.
The draconian copyright bill which is warmly welcomed by the music industry was proposed not long after Lord Mandelson had dined with record exec David "You're so vain" Geffen - a coincidence I'm sure.

The problem is, as I blogged here, the bill is likely to be in breach of EU law. The provision to cut off internet access without a fair trial could run foul of the EU Telecoms Reform which contains this:
With regard to any measures of Member States taken on their Internet access (e.g. to fight child pornography or other illegal activities), citizens in the EU are entitled to a prior fair and impartial procedure, including the right to be heard, and they have a right to an effective and timely judicial review.
However, the bill may also run into further problems because there's also another possible breach as well. The bill contains this (my emphasis):
124A Obligation to notify subscribers of copyright infringement reports
(1) This section applies if it appears to a copyright owner that—

(a) a subscriber to an internet access service has infringed the
owner’s copyright by means of the service; or

(b) a subscriber to an internet access service has allowed another
person to use the service, and that other person has infringed
the owner’s copyright by means of the service.

This means places such as universities, libraries, and small businesses, like coffee shops that offer free Wi-Fi hotspots, would effectively be held responsible for the actions of customers that use its networks, even if it was password-protected. They would become responsible for customers' alleged copyright infringement.

But this may break EU law as well, specifically EU Directive 2000/31/EC, which gives network providers immunity from liability for the actions of their users even if they are ignorant of those actions. Article 14 of the Directive states:

1. Where an information society service is provided that consists of the storage of information provided by a recipient of the service, Member States shall ensure that the service provider is not liable for the information stored at the request of a recipient of the service, on condition that:

(a) the provider does not have actual knowledge of illegal activity or information and, as regards claims for damages, is not aware of facts or circumstances from which the illegal activity or information is apparent; or

(b) the provider, upon obtaining such knowledge or awareness, acts expeditiously to remove or to disable access to the information.

and Article 15 makes clear that there's no general obligation to monitor:

1. Member States shall not impose a general obligation on providers, when providing the services covered by Articles 12, 13 and 14, to monitor the information which they transmit or store, nor a general obligation actively to seek facts or circumstances indicating illegal activity.

So there's scope that the bill might be challenged should it pass. A potential mess.

It's all rather dispiriting. An unelected Lord, with form on being less than candid, proposes laws which rides roughshod over civil liberties, directly benefiting those that had lunch with him, but which might then conflict with other laws passed by a foreign government entirely unaccountable to the people.

With just over 7 weeks to an election you have to wonder where the voters are in all this.

Monday 15 March 2010

EU Membership (Referendum) Bill Update

The second reading of Carswell's bill failed to happen on Friday and no new date has been named. As a consequence it has now been dropped and will make no further progress.

Get Paid £24,000 To Do Nothing But Eat

This from the Daily Mail:

A company is advertising for a rather lazy individual just like the TV slob - to do nothing and eat more.

It wants a worker with a big appetite who is happy to eat 400 extra calories every day - to test the fat-binding properties of a weight loss product.

The position is open to men and women and the successful applicant will have their calorific intake and weight closely monitored by medics.

Sunday 14 March 2010

Tea And Biscuits

I'm a bit late to this, but I've just spotted this fine article by Jeremy Clarkson in last weeks Times regarding the madness of legislating because of the actions of a minority. There is however one paragraph I take issue with (my emphasis):
In other words, the normality of dog ownership will be skewed. Instead of spending your free time with your pooches, throwing balls or tickling them under the chin, you will be forced to provide tea and biscuits for someone from the department of dogs while he inspects your cupboard under the stairs for evidence that they’ve eaten the cleaning lady.
Not entirely true. Some years ago I had a visit from the Vatman and, while he rummaged through all my files, I offered him a cup of tea. He refused. "I can't accept because it could be construed as bribery" he said. Seriously. I'm not making that up. I wish I were.

Saturday 13 March 2010

Nothing Changes

In 1913 Emily Davison fought and died for the right of universal suffrage. Here's what was said at the time after she died under a horse campaigning for women's right to vote (my emphasis through out):
The story of a brilliant career, marred with an ignominious death as its conclusion, was unfolded in the little red-brick police court at Epsom yesterday during the inquest on Miss Emily Wilding Davison, the Suffragette who stopped the King's horse during the Derby.

The pathetic loneliness to which Miss Davison's career of militancy had brought her was illustrated by the evidence of a police sergeant named Frank Bunn. Describing his efforts to render assistance to the unconscious woman as she lay on the course after the accident, he said:-
" I called out among the crowd, ' Does any one know this woman?' But there was no reply."


A verdict of "Death by Misadventure" was returned after Captain H. Jocelyn Davison, Miss Davison's half-brother, had given evidence showing how his sister's great attainments and brilliant record had withered like Dead Sea fruit under the malignant influence of militancy...

An Epsom doctor described the death as having been due to a fracture of the base of the skull, and in summing up the coroner said:-
"It is exceedingly sad - so it seems to me - that an educated lady should sacrifice her life in such a way".

As always, if in doubt smear anyone wishing democratic accountability. So how would Labour view the Albion Alliance which tries to campaign for better democracy, which is especially relevant in these post-expenses times? The Albion Alliance campaign states:

1. To address the democratic deficit in the current political system by ensuring that MPs place country before political party.

2. To ensure that MPs agree to actively sponsor, promote and support, a Bill in Parliament that allows a referendum of the British People on membership of the European Union.

Now what is wrong with that? Especially considering that most of our laws are passed in Brussels by a government we can neither vote for or against. Even the Labour Against the Odds video, used at the last conference, championed democracy by stating (wrongly) that; "when they told us women didn't deserve the vote, we fought and won".

Peter Hain it seems now disagrees:

…the aims of the extreme right-wing “Albion Alliance”, a dubious organisation whose Chief organiser, John Higham, has posted on his own blog this highly offensive diatribe against Muslims.

Wanting democracy is now 'extreme right-wing'. Nothing changes, our elected representatives always hate democracy.

And if you can't win the argument, according to Hain you smear.

hattip: Corrugated Soundbite

Friday 12 March 2010

There's Too Many Brits... top EU jobs, so says German MEP Elmar Brok in this short clip regarding the usual EU chaos and conflict unity in deciding the make up and purpose of the European External Action Service (some of the clip is not in English):

EU Membership (Referendum) Bill 2nd Reading

The 2nd reading of Douglas Carswell's bill on the UK's membership of the EU is today. Lets hope it is given enough time.

Thursday 11 March 2010

Google Street View

Nearly all of the UK is now available in Google Street View as of today. My house is at least 8 months out of date, it shows a tree which has now been removed. Still, at least the hedge has just been cut in the photo so it looks smarter than it usually does.

Labour’s Biggest Flaw Is Trust (Or The Lack Of It)

Aside from Iraq, the legacy of this Labour Government will be its relentless attacks on our civil liberties via a bloated encroaching state, which continuously seeks out new and novel ways to interfere in, and legislate, every aspect of the our lives.

A product of Labour’s (and the EU’s) mentality that the state knows best, and individuals, if left to their own devices, cannot be trusted to make anything other than selfish ‘wrong’ decisions. In short we have to be saved from ourselves.

This has manifested itself by the introduction of performance targets, regulating professionals such as, nurses, teachers, social workers, to within an inch of their lives, ID cards, the ContactPoint database, and even telling parents how best to bring up their children - to name but a few.

The Spectator today highlights another example of this lack of trust (my emphasis):
The winner of the education debate on Newsnight was a woman called Lesley from Yorkshire. Her local school is being closed and so she, along with other parents, want to set one up themselves. Her case for why she should be allowed to do this left Ed Balls floundering, wittering on about he sympathised but she needed to get agreement from various bureaucracies. If parents like Lesley get more time on TV, people will begin to understand how transformative the Tory policy of letting parents and teachers set up their own state funded schools will be.
Education appears to one of the few (only?) Tory policies that show genuine promise, by giving parents the right to create and run their own schools. This is all anathema to Ed Balls of course; he can’t even trust parents to educate their own children at home. The message from Labour is clear; the people can’t be trusted to make the right decisions, so don't empower them.

However, two relatively minor events occurred on the internet this week that shows that Labour are wrong not to do so.

The first case is of Nick Hogan, who was jailed for non-payment of fines which bankrupted him, originally imposed for a breaching the smoking ban. Thanks to efforts of bloggers Anna Raccoon and Old Holborn, enough cash was raised to secure his release.

I donated to the cause, because I viewed (probably like so many others who donated) both the sentence, and the smoking laws themselves, to be draconian and unfair. Nick received 6 months whereas a thief, with a string of convictions, gets 4 months for stealing poppy tin collections.

I donated despite that I have no idea who Old Holborn is, have never properly met him (I saw him in a pub once at a bloggers' meeting) and know nothing about him. I only had his word that my money would help with Nick's release. The campaign had no regulations, no red tape, no control by politicians, just a desire by a relatively small number of aggrieved people to try to do the right thing and help someone they've never met.

The second, is a lesser known but no less significant case of Lennon Woods. Lennon, a Leeds United fan, is a little lad of 5 and has endured a torrid year with his health. Diagnosed with adrenoleukodystrophy, he has undergone chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant. Leeds' fans have generously raised enough money so he can be the mascot at his first ever game. It so happens that this will be against the team I support. Within minutes of someone linking to this on our forum, suggestions were made for a whip-round to help make his day special. A couple of days later, with the bare minimum of organisation, a couple of emails and a payment process based entirely on trust over the internet, enough money has raised to buy the brave little lad a framed signed shirt, with some left over for a donation to charity.

People with their own money, own choices, making things happen and doing the right things, without the state's help. That's why Labour is wrong; Whitehall doesn’t fix society, people do. All you have to do is trust them.

Wednesday 10 March 2010

The Budget

Brown has just announced the Budget for March 24th. Which rules out an election before 22nd April:

Possible Election Dates:
  • 22 April 2010 (Dissolution Friday 26 March)

  • 29 April 2010 (Dissolution Tuesday 6 April)

  • 6 May 2010 (Dissolution Monday 12 April)

  • 3 June 2010 (Dissolution Monday 10 May)

Vote Tory, Get Brussels

Further evidence in today's Financial Times that the Tories will be just as enthusiastic about the EU project as they always have been. I'm not going to dwell on this too much, suffice to say these passages speak for themselves regarding how little will change should the Tories win:
William Hague said on Tuesday that the Conservatives had made “a strategic decision” not to pick a fight with Europe if they won the election, insisting that a Tory government would be “highly active and activist in European affairs from day one”.
Mr Hague said he wanted the new EU external action service to succeed and would deploy top British diplomats to Brussels to make it work. He said Europe needed to speak with a strong single voice on the Balkans, energy security and dealings with Russia.
Despite concerns that the External Action Service could replace the FCO, is uncosted and unaccountable Hague wants it to speak with a strong voice. And (my emphasis):
Mr Hague said that a Tory government would try to repatriate powers in employment and social law and fundamental civil rights from Brussels, if other EU member states insisted on a treaty change.
'Tries' and 'ifs'. Well that has me convinced. And:
But the former Tory leader warned that there were limits to his tolerance of EU integration and suggested that future battles lie ahead over defence and any proposals to create a European Monetary Fund.
Limits eh? Reassuring to know that current EU integration hasn't yet reached the limits of Hague's tolerance. I wonder where the marker is? At what point will he say no?

Tuesday 9 March 2010

UK Warned Over Voting Rights

The 1078th Committee of Ministers meeting took place last week and one of the issues under consideration was the ongoing saga with voting rights for prisoners.

The Committee of Ministers released their decision yesterday strongly urging the UK to allow prisoners to vote at the general election.

The deputies

  • reiterated their serious concern that a failure to implement the court's judgment before the general election and the increasing number of persons potentially affected by the restriction could result in similar violations affecting a significant category of persons, giving rise to a substantial risk of repetitive applications to the European Court; and
  • strongly urged the authorities to rapidly adopt measures, of even an interim nature, to ensure the execution of the court's judgment before the forthcoming general election.

Ultimately, though, there is little more the Council of Europe can do, apart from kick us out which is very unlikely and as I suggested here the forthcoming election will not be invalid or illegal.

The Committee will reconvene in June:
6. decided to resume consideration of this item at their 1086th meeting (June 2010) (DH) in the light of further information to be provided by the authorities on general measures.
June would coincide nicely with the emergency budget that is likely to occur should the Tories win the election in May, the perfect day to give in when we're all pre-occupied by the mess the economy is in.

hattip: witterings from witney

Pot, Kettle and Black

According to kathimerini:
Authorities in Kosovo must crack down on government corruption, including pushing “tainted” officials from positions of power, in order to progress toward EU integration and lure investment, the bloc’s top envoy said.

Pieter Feith, EU special representative to Kosovo and top international envoy overseeing its independence, said yesterday that Pristina could not progress toward the European Union without closer relations with its neighbors or a robust fight against crime.

“There is another misconception... that you can come closer to the European Union without combating and eradicating the evil of organized crime and corruption,” he told Reuters. “When I am talking about combating corruption and organized crime, in my concept this means very serious incisive steps, and includes also that personalities who are tainted, who are being investigated, should not be part of the inner circle of power.”

This will be the same EU whose accounts have not been signed off for 15 years in a row? Kosovo should fit right in.

Friday 5 March 2010

Lisbon Treaty Referendum

Today is the 2nd reading of Nigel Dodds' Lisbon Treaty (Referendum) Private Members' Bill.

Update: Bill has been dropped and will make no further progress.

Wednesday 3 March 2010


Unlike previous elections, the issue of immigration in this one will be more potent; it came second in the list of voters' concerns by a Ipsos MORI poll in November last year and reared its head in a very public way in the summer.

Despite the obvious electoral advantages of tackling this issue head-on, the main parties have been very reluctant to do anything other than put forward token gestures. Tim Montgomerie from Conservative Home urges, in the Guardian, for the Tories to talk about it more:
First, Labour is already campaigning on the issue and at the highest level of the party. Cabinet ministers including Gordon Brown's right-hand man, Ed Balls, are distributing surveys in their constituencies entitled Let's talk about immigration. The Guardian's Polly Toynbee – and not for the first time – used her column in to note the negative impact of large-scale immigration on lower-income workers. She wrote that the last decade had seen "the greatest inward migration the country has ever known" and admitted that it had been "unplanned, unwilled and only slightly controlled".

Tory candidates tell me that immigration is a bigger issue on the doorsteps now than when Howard campaigned on it five years ago. That's entirely predictable. Hundreds of thousands of more immigrants have arrived since 2005.

This was picked up by the Spectator:
Talk to a Tory candidate and they will say there’s only one issue that gets cut-through on the doorsteps. And, so, all parties seem to be adopting a “shout it locally, say nothing nationally” approach to immigration. But in these tough economic times, the issue is bound to have more traction than it did five years ago.
The reluctance to discuss immigration is in some ways understandable, it's very easy to get the tone of the message wrong. Labour have used the cry of racism effectively to shut down any debate about it in the past. But there's also another reason; to discuss immigration properly is to discuss Britain's relationship with the EU - an issue the main parties' are desperate to avoid more than anything else.

The principle of free movement of persons is locked into EU law via various treaties and directives, such as Directive 2004/38/EC and Article 45 of the Lisbon Treaty. Yet time and time again this indisputable fact gets overlooked, not just in the two publications highlighted above but in many newspapers and blogs, despite the comments fields nearly always pointing it out.

Take Tim Montgomerie as an example, it isn't until the fifth paragraph near the end that he even mentions the EU (my emphasis):
Third, I'm not asking the Tories to adopt new immigration policies but to deploy the ones they already have. The Conservative party already has credible plans to give the border police more powers. It supports a cap on inflows from outside the EU, although has yet to define that cap. It supports the Australian-based points system for work permits.
That's it, mentioned in passing. Nothing more. It's just dishonest.

Lets be clear, there is already a points-based system for immigration but this only applies to non-EU applications, including those from Commonwealth countries who have fought for our country. There has already been a clampdown on student visas, and it's perfectly possible to cap immigration from outside the EU. However our membership of the EU means that we can't restrict the movements of citizens from the other 26 EU countries. There's nothing we can do to prevent the strain on the lower end of the wage scale, which are increasingly being filled by immigrants from within the EU.

Last week further illustrated the impotency of the UK Government to tackle immigration or to control it's own borders. There were two important judgments by the European Court of Justice last week on the issue of free movement of persons and of residence which affect the UK.

In both judgments the ECJ ruled that a child of a migrant worker has a right of residence in the UK under EU law when they are the primary carers of children in education in the UK, even if they could not support themselves without state benefits.

In the case of C-310/08 Ibrahim:

Ms Ibrahim is a Somali national married to a Danish citizen, Mr Yusuf. Mr Yusuf arrived in the United Kingdom in the autumn of 2002 and worked there from October 2002 to May 2003. From June 2003 to March 2004 he claimed incapacity benefit.

After being declared fit to work at the end of that period, he left the United Kingdom, before returning there in December 2006. It is common ground that, between ceasing work and leaving the United Kingdom, Mr Yusuf ceased to be a ‘qualified person’ within the meaning of regulation 6 of the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2006. On his return to the United Kingdom, he did not recover the status of a ‘qualified person’ with a right of residence under European Union law.

Ms Ibrahim arrived in the United Kingdom with the permission of the immigration authorities in February 2003 in order to join her husband.

The couple have four children, of Danish nationality, aged from one to nine. The three oldest arrived in the United Kingdom with their mother and the fourth child was born in the United Kingdom. The two eldest have attended State schools since arriving in the United Kingdom.

After her husband left the United Kingdom in 2004, Ms Ibrahim separated from him. She was never self-sufficient. She does not work and depends entirely on social assistance to cover her living expenses and housing costs. She does not have comprehensive sickness insurance cover and relies on the National Health Service.
The ECJ ruled:
In circumstances such as those of the main proceedings, the children of a national of a Member State who works or has worked in the host Member State and the parent who is their primary carer can claim a right of residence in the latter State on the sole basis of Article 12 of Regulation (EEC) No 1612/68 of the Council of 15 October 1968 on freedom of movement for workers within the Community, as amended by Council Regulation (EEC) No 2434/92 of 27 July 1992, without such a right being conditional on their having sufficient resources and comprehensive sickness insurance cover in that State.
In the case of C-480/08 Teixeira:
Ms Teixeira, a Portuguese national, arrived in the United Kingdom in 1989 with her husband, also a Portuguese national, and worked there from 1989 to 1991. Their daughter Patricia was born there on 2 June 1991. Ms Teixeira and her husband were subsequently divorced, but they both remained in the United Kingdom.

After 1991 Ms Teixeira had intermittent periods of work in the United Kingdom. She was not working when Patricia started to go to school in the United Kingdom, but she worked for various periods during her daughter’s education. Her last employment in the United Kingdom was in early 2005.

On 13 June 2006 a court ordered that Patricia should live with her father, but could have as much contact with her mother as she wished. In November 2006 Patricia enrolled on a childcare course at the Vauxhall Learning Centre in Lambeth. In March 2007 Patricia went to live with her mother.

On 11 April 2007 Ms Teixeira applied for housing assistance for homeless persons under Part VII of the Housing Act 1996. She based her claim to a right of residence in the United Kingdom in particular on Article 12 of Regulation No 1612/68, as interpreted by the Court in Case C‑413/99 Baumbast and R [2002] ECR I‑7091.

The assessment officer of the London Borough of Lambeth considered that Ms Teixeira was not eligible for housing assistance, and therefore rejected her application.
The ECJ ruled:
1. A national of a Member State who was employed in another Member State in which his or her child is in education can, in circumstances such as those of the main proceedings, claim, in the capacity of primary carer for that child, a right of residence in the host Member State on the sole basis of Article 12 of Regulation (EEC) No 1612/68 of the Council of 15 October 1968 on freedom of movement for workers within the Community, as amended by Council Regulation (EEC) No 2434/92 of 27 July 1992, without being required to satisfy the conditions laid down in Directive 2004/38/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2004 on the right of citizens of the Union and their family members to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States amending Regulation No 1612/68 and repealing Directives 64/221/EEC, 68/360/EEC, 72/194/EEC, 73/148/EEC, 75/34/EEC, 75/35/EEC, 90/364/EEC, 90/365/EEC and 93/96/EEC.

2. The right of residence in the host Member State of the parent who is the primary carer of a child exercising the right to pursue his or her education in accordance with Article 12 of Regulation No 1612/68 is not conditional on that parent having sufficient resources not to become a burden on the social assistance system of that Member State during the period of residence and having comprehensive sickness insurance cover there.

3. The right of residence in the host Member State of the parent who is the primary carer for a child of a migrant worker, where that child is in education in that State, is not conditional on one of the child’s parents having worked as a migrant worker in that Member State on the date on which the child started in education.

4. The right of residence in the host Member State of the parent who is the primary carer for a child of a migrant worker, where that child is in education in that State, ends when the child reaches the age of majority, unless the child continues to need the presence and care of that parent in order to be able to pursue and complete his or her education.
Further proof that any discussion about immigration without discussing the UK's relationship with the EU is not an honest one.

Olympic Tickets

BBC Breakfast this morning had quite a substantial piece on the difficulties likely to be faced by those in the UK wanting tickets for the Olympics.

I wasn't expecting much more than a report on the usual suspects; corporate sponsors, members of the IOC and families of the athletes. But no, the BBC decided to mention the elephant in the room - EU law - and not just in passing either, but in some detail with... wait for it ...a rather sceptical tone (by BBC standards).

Repeatedly the reporter asked UK Olympic officials if Estonians would have the same chance as those that lived in London and asked whether it's fair that we can't have preferential allocation when the UK taypayer is footing the bill.

With this coming so soon after the publication of a report on BBC cuts, it's tempting to think that this about-turn by the BBC suggests there must be an imminent General Election due, where the Tories may have a chance of winning. But that surely can't be the reason.

I think I need to lie down.

Tuesday 2 March 2010

Prospective Parliamentary Candidate

That's me; now made official at a PPC meeting on Saturday. Campaigning now starts in earnest. As expected Brown didn't call an election yesterday for 25th March, and from a slightly selfish point of view I'm rather relieved- it gives me more time to prepare.

After the formalities and a run through UKIP's election campaign timetable, a special guest speaker turned up and began by saying:
"I don't mean to be rude but..."
No prizes for guessing who it was.

It's Nigel's disciplinary hearing today at 1pm for his 'outburst' at the unelected Van Rompuy, for which Nigel expects to be suspended for a week.

Nigel's comments have caused outrage in the usual quarters but interestingly Nigel himself has said that the response on the doorsteps in Buckingham have been largely positive, and those that weren't so positive were very unlikely to vote UKIP anyway. This chimes with my much more limited experience so far - there's a lot of anger and disillusionment with all the main parties.

A perfect illustration of this, is this Times article, brought to my attention by 13th Spitfire:

This newspaper did not want a leader of the European Council either. But no, Mr Farage, you do not speak for the majority of the British people. They would not dream of being so pathetically rude and neither do they relish being represented by the political equivalent of Alan Partridge.

Aside from the fact Farage is elected so does speak for his 2.5 million voters, the comments beg to differ with editorial (my emphasis):

He certainly speaks for me. Perhaps not in quite the way I'd like him too, but since no-one ever got to express an opinion over Van Rumpy, Ashton etc. then he and Hannan are the only people who can speak for us. The EU is a ludicrous, self-perpetuating, bloated farce and I am heartily sick of it. Well done Farage for at least having the cojones to stand up.

And anyone who saw him speaking will have seen the sycophantic Schulz crawling up to Van Rompuy, talking of trampling on the dignity of the house. What about the dignity of democracy, that has been well and truly trampled to death.

Update: Farage has bank clarks the world over.

Update II: Farage has twittered:
Senetence [sic] passed, letter from Parliament President: Maximum allowable fine 2,980 euros. Free speech is expensive in Brussels