Tuesday 30 November 2010

Democracy, EU Style

I've blogged about the European Citizen's Initiative before, Bloggers4UKIP has a good piece here on how it works (or doesn't) in practice:
So what do I do? I need to save up enough money to finance a multinational petition covering at least three EU countries with at least 300,000 (yes, three-hundred-thousand) signatures.

And that's not even half way there. The European Commission then decides whether the interests of those 300,000 people from a minimum of three EU countries is worth their time or own interests shutting it down immediately, or giving it the thumbs up for phase two. Phase two can't be that big a deal can it? After all we've convinced 300,000 people from more than 3 EU countries to sign a petition and then we've convinced the EU Commission that all 300,000 people's interests are worthy of their attention. So what more?

After the thumbs up, we need a total of 700,000 more signatures from a minimum of a total of nine EU countries. Oh and that's not the only thing. You know those signatures I've been banging on about? I slipped up. I need to go back to those 1 million people and convince them to also give me their national identification number, in the form of their social security numbers or passport numbers.

Not only that, due to data protection laws I have to also invest in security measures to protect the information of over 1 million people with a minimum of 7 million pieces of information. The costs of all of this would be a minimum of half a million pounds. That's assuming I get the bare minimum of requirements fulfilled.

And even after following all that successfully, it's still not enough. The EU then turns round and says it still doesn't count:

The entry into force of the EU's new citizens' initiative (ECI) - a petition procedure under the Lisbon Treaty allowing European citizens to demand action in a particular area - is likely to be welcomed by a legal battle between Greenpeace and the EU institutions.

A legal battle? Why? After all...

The environmental NGO has successfully collected the required 1 million signatories in a petition calling on the EU to ban GMOs...

Job done surely?
...but officials from both the European Commission and the European Parliament say the move is premature.
"We've always said that we take their opinion very seriously but it's not an ECI as the legislation is not yet in place," [said] Michael Mann, the commission's administration spokesman.
So what about those one million signatures already collected?
"Strictly speaking, they would have to do it all over again," he added.

It's almost like they're making the process as difficult as possible. Surely that's unthinkable? Still, at least more taxpayers money will get wasted spent in the meantime:

A European Parliament official concurred. "We may end up going to court on this," the contact said.

Burn The EU Flag

To mark a year since the Lisbon Treaty passed, there will be a burning of the EU flag tomorrow on College Green - starts at 10:00. Think I might pop along to that.

Monday 29 November 2010

The New Dictator Of Ireland

Barely has the signature ink dried on Ireland's bailout agreement and this unelected tosser aka the EU Commissioner for Economic Affairs, Olli Rehn has waded in with his orders:
"The EU Commissioner for Economic Affairs, Olli Rehn, has said that it would not be advisable for any new government in Ireland to attempt to renegotiate either the interest rate on the EU/IMF loan or the use of the National Pension Reserve Fund in repairing the banking sector."
It won't be advisable to any new Government which has an elected mandate? So if the majority of the Irish vote to default, then tough? Why not do away with elections altogether then Mr Rehn?
In an interview with RTÉ News, Commissioner Rehn said it did not want to involve himself in democratic politics in Ireland.
Of course not, democratic politics is an alien concept to you, much better to remain above it all, directing operations but out of the grasp of accountability.
He said he 'fully understood' the frustration and anger of the Irish people about the banking sector, which he said had made big mistakes in the past.
Ahhh 'fully understood'? How sympathetic, however...
'...we have to move on and the essential thing is to complete the repair, implying both the restructuring and downsizing of the banking system,' he said.
In other words, the people, their jobs, their lives, their concerns are irrelevant.

Mr Rehn said he did not see any tensions or reservations in other member states approving the loan. 'I trust there is the same sense of responsibility and solidarity both for Ireland and Europe as a whole,' he stated.
Not from where I'm standing there isn't. If Mr Rehn comes anywhere near this country with such statements then he's going to promptly receive an oversized, ticking, Jiffy bag with the letters ACME stamped on it.

UK Will Bail Out Portugal

Osborne confirms, what we already knew, in the Commons today (my emphasis in the text):
Mr Tobias Ellwood (Bournemouth East) (Con): What will happen if another eurozone country requires a bail-out? Will Britain’s involvement be kept to a minimum?

Mr Osborne: I say this about any future action that we may or may not have to take. On the bilateral loan, I said last week that there were some very specific—I stress the words “very specific”—circumstances that would lead us to support Ireland because of the interconnectedness of our economies. I also said that the European financial stability mechanism, the EU fund, was something that the previous Government had signed up to, and that the UK could not block its use because it operated under qualified majority voting.
...and Spain and Italy and Belgium.

Can we leave yet please?

Out Of The EU In 6 Minutes

From Captain Ranty. Readers of my blog may recognise some of the quotes:

Another Day, Another Opt In

From Open Europe, quoting the paywalled Sunday Times:

UK likely to opt in to EU cross-border traffic fines

The EU is to agree on a new directive on Thursday, which would enforce cross-border road traffic penalties in Europe, the Sunday Times reports. Under new rules, British motorists could face six-figure fines if they are captured exceeding the speed limit in other EU countries. Sources close to negotiations have said that the new proposal, for which the UK has an opt-out, is expected to be endorsed by UK officials.
Oh and Cameron's happiness index nonsense is somewhat similar to other proposals (my emphasis):
David Cameron has said “From April next year we will start measuring our progress as a country not just by how our economy is growing, but by how our lives are improving, not just by our standard of living, but by our quality of life. … We’ll continue to measure GDP as we’ve always done, but it is high time we admitted that, taken on its own, GDP is an incomplete way of measuring a country’s progress.” The PM asked the Office for National Statistics to develop subjective measures. It seems that potential indicators will include health, levels of education, inequalities in income and the environment. David Cameron’s ideas seem overwhelmingly similar to proposals by the European Commission on measuring GDP.

The Commission has pointed out that GDP and unemployment figures are published on a timely basis but not environmental and social data. They will therefore endeavour to produce environmental and social data more rapidly. The Commission wants to put in place a more accurate reporting on distribution and inequalities in order to allow a better definition of policies on social and economic cohesion.
Obviously in practice the EU 'happiness index' survey will go something like this:
  • EU: "Are you happy?"
  • Me: "No".
  • EU: "Wrong answer, try again".
Update: The Telegraph is spinning the opt-in as "Britain is set to block EU moves to allow speeding fines to be imposed across international borders."

But when you look at the money quote, it's a liiittle bit different. The Tory Government agrees in principle it just has concerns with some of the logistics:
"While I support greater cooperation between member states over the issue of road safety, we feel there is still more work to be done on these proposals to address a number of important issues," said Mike Penning, the road safety minister.
So that's a yes we'll be opting in then

The Longest Ransom Note In History

The Irish bailout unsurprisingly isn't working to calm Euro fears, and the details are making the Irish distinctly unhappy:

This is not a rescue plan. It is the longest ransom note in history: do what we tell you and you may, in time, get your country back.

The extent of the abandonment of Irish national interests is clear from three aspects of the deal.

The interest rate, at almost 6 per cent, is viciously extortionate.

The National Pension Reserve Fund, which is all we’ve got left for strategic investment to rebuild our economy, is to handed over – in a brazen example of “demanding money with menaces” – to failed banks.

The disastrous banking strategy is to be continued: “an intensification of the measures already adopted by the Government” is the Government’s own phrase. And a savage attack on low-paid workers, in the form of a huge reduction in the minimum wage, is to be written into a binding agreement.

Would the Irish people, if asked, vote for any of these measures as decent solutions to our very real dilemmas? That the answer is so obviously “no” tells us the brutal truth: Irish democracy has been abandoned by a zombie government.

No, Irish democracy was abandoned by its very own people who agreed to further EU integration.

Sunday 28 November 2010

Statements Of The Bleeding Obvious

Sure Wikileaks' release of secret documents is embarrassing for America diplomatically but are any of the details (so far) not what we'd already guessed at?
  • US diplomats spy on people?

  • America doesn't like Kim Jong-ill of North Korea very much.

  • Shock horror French President Nicholas Sarkozy is "thin skinned" (and short).

  • There are concerns about Iran's nuclear programme. And the other countries in the middle east are nervous. Really?

  • Cameron is a 'lightweight'.

  • Gordon Brown is 'deranged' (I wondered why he lost the election).

  • The Afghan government is corrupt (that allegation shocked me the most I have to say).

  • There are links between the Russian government and the Russian mafia. Blimey next the USA will be telling us that the Russian tea making capabilities are lethal.

  • The UK armed forces lost in Iraq and is losing in Afghanistan. Yep we already know.

  • Inappropriate remarks by a member of the British Royal family about a UK law enforcement agency and a foreign country. Inappropriate remarks? By a member of the Royal Family? Nope I can't think of a suspect either.

  • The Chinese hack stuff.

  • 'Saint O'bama' doesn't like the UK.
...and so on.

Saturday 27 November 2010

Don't Mention The EU (again)

Minimum pricing for alcohol has raised its ugly head again:
Supermarkets are to be banned from selling wine, beer and spirits below a national "minimum price" under plans to be unveiled by ministers.
Only one paragraph in the Telegraph article hints at the problem:
Overall, their plans will be hard to introduce because they will run up against existing competition laws which ban unfair discrimination against firms which can supply goods at the lowest cost.
I wonder why. It's perfectly clear that this article is deliberately ignoring the EU issue, despite it being pointed out. It's time to do 'a Liverpool' to all the MSM.

In Two Minds

On the one hand this article annoys me:
The European Union's ruling on giving British prisoners the vote is a blatant breach of our sovereignty.
It was an institution of the Council of Europe ruling, not the EU, but on the other hand any anti-EU publicity is good, however confusing, especially given that other devastating EU policies get ignored.

However that the Telegraph makes such a basic error says a lot about its journalism.

Angry And Neglected

The Daily Mail has an article by Tim Montgomerie on how a substantial section of the electorate are ANTI; Angry, Neglected, Traditionalist and concerned about Immigration. I'll leave commenting on this to the superb observations of Witterings From Witney, suffice to say this part was rather revealing (my emphasis):

Ed Miliband encountered this angry class of mainstream political deserter on ­Thursday when he sat down with some Tesco shopworkers in Dudley in the West Midlands.

They were working hard to make ends meet and they hated the way that their taxes were abused by people on ­welfare, people who could work but don’t.

The Labour leader looked shocked and uncomfortable at such conservative views from people he probably regarded as core Labour voters.

Why was the Labour leader shocked? The only way he could be shocked is if he doesn't hear such views very often. Which says rather a lot about the bubble he resides in and the lack of contact with real people he has.

If he did his job properly as an elected member of Parliament, these views would not have come as a surprise to him at all.

The Withdrawal Method

The Daily Express continues today in fine form with its crusade to leave the EU, however there's one article I would query:
BRITAIN could quit the European Union virtually overnight to herald a new era of independence and freedom, campaigners declared yesterday.
Quoting Douglas Carswell:
They poured scorn on Britain is now so tied in, departure is impossible. Tory MP Douglas Carswell said: “It would be relatively straightforward. The idea it would be a hugely complex process is just not true.”
New rules attempting to stop nations quitting the EU were introduced three years ago under the controversial Lisbon Treaty. A new two-year departure process was introduced in a bid to discourage any bolt for the exit door as support for the union sank across Europe.

...once the parliamentary procedure was complete, EU bosses could do little to stand in Britain’s way.
The Express article makes it seem as if it's a simple case of repealing the 1972 European Communities Act. Before Lisbon that was true, however the ratification of Lisbon changes that position significantly. It's no longer that easy and here's why.

Countries exiting international organizations are covered by the Vienna Convention on the Law on Treaties. Article 56(1) states (my emphasis):
1. A treaty which contains no provision regarding its termination and which does not provide for denunciation or withdrawal is not subject to denunciation or withdrawal unless:
a) it is established that the parties intended to admit the possibility of denunciation or withdrawal; or
b) a right of denunciation or withdrawal may be implied by the nature of the treaty.
So if there's no specific provision for exit then members states can be free to leave by terminating the treaty, and as no EU treaties have had any such provision before Lisbon, then previously we could have simply repealed the ECA and it's bye bye EU.

However, Lisbon is different because it does have a provision for exit via Article 50:
1. Any Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements.
2. A Member State which decides to withdraw shall notify the European Council of its intention. In the light of the guidelines provided by the European Council, the Union shall negotiate and conclude an agreement with that State, setting out the arrangements for its withdrawal, taking account of the framework for its future relationship with the Union. That agreement shall be negotiated in accordance with Article 218(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. It shall be concluded on behalf of the Union by the Council, acting by a qualified majority, after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament.
3. The Treaties shall cease to apply to the State in question from the date of entry into force of the withdrawal agreement or, failing that, two years after the notification referred to in paragraph 2, unless the European Council, in agreement with the Member State concerned, unanimously decides to extend this period.
4. For the purposes of paragraphs 2 and 3, the member of the European Council or of the Council representing the withdrawing Member State shall not participate in the discussions of the European Council or Council or in decisions concerning it.
A qualified majority shall be defined in accordance with Article 238(3)(b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
5. If a State which has withdrawn from the Union asks to rejoin, its request shall be subject to the procedure referred to in Article 49.
Therefore it's covered by Article 54 of the Vienna Convention on the Law on Treaties (my emphasis):
The termination of a treaty or the withdrawal of a party may take place:
(a) in conformity with the provisions of the treaty; or
(b) at any time by consent of all the parties after consultation with the other contracting States.
We are bound therefore by international law to follow the method laid out in Lisbon. Either by negotiating our exit with the agreement of the other 26 member states (unlikely) or failing that enduring a 2 year 'cooling-off' period during which, as Lisbon Treaty Article 50(4) above makes clear, we would have no participation in EU affairs at all although still technically a member state. The EU, could then during that period (out of spite) pass all sorts of financial, and other, penalties on us.

Our exit is likely to be costly and painful. We were stitched up by the French, twice over, on the way in and undoubtedly we will be stitched up on the way out.

Friday 26 November 2010

The "Euro Is Doomed"

So rightly argues Nigel on last night's Question Time. He, unusually compared to previous appearances, got a warm round of applause for his answer - that doesn't happen often with 'BBC loaded' QT audiences:

Yes You Do, No We Don't,

Portugal is now entering the first step of being bailed-out by denying that it needs one:

Portugal insisted this morning that it was under no pressure from its European Union partners to accept a multimillion euro bailout that could prevent the crisis in the eurozone spreading to its neighbour Spain.

After Financial Times Deutschland reported eurozone nations and the European Central Bank were urging Portugal to follow Ireland and capitulate to financial aid, the office of the Portuguese prime minister José Sócrates said it was "totally false" that the country was under such pressure.

Which has done nothing to lessen the markets fears:

LONDON (Dow Jones)--Denials by the Portuguese and Spanish governments that Portugal is under pressure to seek financial aid failed to prevent another sell-off in both countries' sovereign bonds Friday.

The yield premium that investors demand to hold 10-year Portuguese sovereign bonds rather than German bunds rose 12 basis points to 444 basis points, according to Tradeweb.

Spain's 10-year bund spread rose 15 basis points to a fresh euro-era record high of 267 basis points.

The contagion is gathering momentum and spreading:
"[Talk of Portugal being forced to accept aid] all looks like papering over the cracks and will not lead to any confidence in the single currency," Citigroup said in a note. "It seems that factors are lining up now to conspire against the euro. No amount of jawboning from various officials will lessen the chance of contagion spreading."
One wonders how long the EU can keep putting off the inevitable.

Update: Spain are doing the denying bit now:

MADRID (Reuters) - Spain flatly ruled out needing a bailout and said results of extra health checks on its ailing savings banks would be published next spring, as its government and central bank stepped up efforts to calm uneasy investors.

Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said there was "absolutely" no chance Spain would need to seek outside help to manage its finances..

That's "flatly ruled out"...and..."absolutely no chance".

Thursday 25 November 2010

Quote Of The Day

Douglas Carswell MP, agrees with Dr Richard North:
"Sooner or later we'll reach the tipping point."

Madam, Not Even God Could Sink This Ship!

Klaus Regling, chief of the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF), told the German newspaper Bild, when asked if the euro zone could break apart:
"It is inconceivable that the euro fails,"
Glug glug glug


Glug glug glug.

Better Off Out

So says today's Express:

THE Daily Express today becomes the first national newspaper to call for Britain to leave the European Union.

From this day forth our energies will be directed to furthering the cause of those who believe Britain is Better Off Out.

The famous and symbolic Crusader who adorns our masthead will become the figurehead of the struggle to repatriate British sovereignty from a political project that has comprehensively failed.

hattip: All Seeing Eye

Update: I've purchased a paper copy, it took ages as all the newsagents near me had sold out of the Express (but not the other papers). Now I've not bought a paper copy of the Express for a very long time, so this maybe normal thus I'm reluctant to read too much into this but it appears encouraging. Anyway you can sign a petition here or print off further vouchers from here.

Wednesday 24 November 2010

Losing The plot

From EuReferendum, the Independent reports:

[French] President Nicolas Sarkozy was yesterday accused of calling French journalists "paedophiles" in a furious off-the-record exchange at the Nato summit in Lisbon last week.

One wonders, as Sarkozy is so short, he feels threatened?

The Real World

Apparently some wealthy middle class young chaps are today having a ball:
Police are blocking in thousands of student protesters in central London, after a wave of protests against higher tuition fees and university cuts.
But when even the BBC website leads with this, then you know there are more important things going on in the world:

"Loss Of Sovereignty"

From the American PBS Newshour:

The Game Is Up

Nigel gives it both barrels:

(I always like the fact Nigel is introduced with the words 'freedom and democracy'. How the other members must hate hearing that phrase).

hattip: Oh What Now!

The EU. What's In It For Me?

From Muffled Vociferation, my attention is drawn to this new EU website promising:
A No-Nonsense Guide for UK Citizens to what the European Union Delivers.
I think we've already worked that out for ourselves, thanks.

This website is firmly in the "we haven't got our message across" camp, the default position of every deeply unpopular government who's unable to comprehend why. Labour were masters of this before the last election.

The website even has it's own EU Myths page. Pro EU loving types simply adore these, as if dispelling a few silly tabloid articles somehow justifies its existence. It doesn't.

Funnily enough, that the EU is a fundamentally corrupt, undemocratic, self-serving bureaucracy which won't take 'no' for an answer doesn't appear under EU Myths. I wonder why?

Update: Reading the myths, they don't even give an original source as to where the story came from. And quite often, as I posted here they are result of assuming a paper has said something which it hasn't.

A Waste Of Time

This question from Lords Hansard:
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will encourage or require the installation of closed circuit television cameras in abattoirs.
I'll be honest and admit that my first response to reading this was; why? Are they trying to catch which pig is nicking the biscuits? Anyway it's to do with animal welfare so not an ignoble cause. The subsequent debate trundles along for a few minutes arguing pros and cons until we get the real answer:
My Lords, we have no power to insist that every abattoir should have CCTV, and that will be made even clearer when the latest EU regulation, Regulation 1099/2009, comes into effect.
That's right. The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley) is admitting that the Government has "no power".

What's the point of Parliament again?

Tuesday 23 November 2010

Irish Daily Star Front Page

They're not very happy are they?

EU: Democratic Elections Are Irresponsible

Because those pesky voters will get in the way:

EUROPEAN OFFICIALS have warned that any collapse of the Coalition before an EU-IMF rescue deal was struck would be “very irresponsible”.

As the Greens signalled their exit from Government in January and anxiety about contagion risk from Ireland’s crisis weighed on the euro, a source familiar with the position of European negotiators said it was their clear understanding with the Irish authorities that the Government would be able to pass the 2011 budget next month.

Shocking, I mean the voters might get a say on how their Government has acted or on the budget. Of course this is utterly disgraceful. EU commissioner Olli Rehn has also waded in:
It is essential that Ireland will pass the budget in the timeline foreseen and certainly sooner rather than later because every day that is lost increases uncertainty. Let's adopt the budget, let's get it out of the way, and let's move on.
Let's get it out the way? Let's move on? Rather like the Lisbon Treaty? Piss off you unelected tosser.

One Year On

My blog has been going for a year, today. A big thank you to everyone who has read and commented on my posts.

Irish Times Front Page


Monday 22 November 2010

No Democratic Mandate?

"People have no democratic mandate to change that" (40 seconds in):

Tough! The Irish have had their democratic mandate, they voted, via referendum, yes to:

  • Third Amendment (8 June 1972): Permitted the state to join the European Communities.

  • Tenth Amendment (22 June 1987): Permitted the state to ratify the Single European Act.

  • Eleventh Amendment (16 July 1992): Permitted the state to ratify the Maastricht Treaty.

  • Eighteenth Amendment (3 June 1998): Allowed the state to ratify the Amsterdam Treaty.

  • Twenty-sixth Amendment (7 November 2002): Allowed the state to ratify the Nice Treaty.

  • Twenty-eighth Amendment (15 October 2009): Allowed the state to ratify the Treaty of Lisbon.
That's more of a say than I've had.

The End?

When the Guardian write articles like this, you know the Euro is in biiiiiig trouble:
The Irish people expected to pay in austerity cuts for their banks' sins have another option. Reject the ECB and IMF, ditch the euro”
And the Aussies have noticed:
EUROPE'S single-currency trial is looking more and more like an error.

AS Europe's money men bail out Ireland to the tune of about E80 billion ($110bn), the next key question concerns the European Union's failing currency: can it survive in its present form?
The simple answer? No
But Ireland's woes threaten not only the euro - the grandest of the EU's grand projects - but the EU itself. The kind of rhetoric normally reserved for hardened Eurosceptics has found its way to the heart of the European mainstream and its seat of power in Brussels,
Good. And the Irish bail-out saga is not quite going to plan either:
The latest is that Ireland's government is on the brink of collapse. The Green party, a junior partner in the current Irish coalition, called for a General Election. The prospect of an election is likely to undo the short-lived stability the markets demonstrated on this morning, we are told.
hattip for Guardian article: Douglas Carswell

In Denial...

...and a liar. Ken Clarke in 2002:
"We [the UK] should join [the euro] as soon as the economic conditions are right"
Ken Clarke yesterday (circa 19mins in):
"I never advocated joining the exchange rate...(spot the backtrack moment)"
The desperation to engage reverse gear is a joy to behold as the Tory Europhiles' precious project goes tits up.

And as a Brucie bonus here's an Independent article from 2002.


...amidst the Irish bail-out news, Portugal's ten-year bonds are still increasing this morning:

Tick-tock, tick-tock

Quote Of The Day

Another disillusioned Tory? From Donal Blaney:

Friday 19 November 2010

Next Stop Portugal

John Redwood has a good post today on why the Euro was always doomed:
...there isn’t one interest rate that is right for Manchester and Marseilles, nor is there one exchange rate that is right for Lisbon and London. “You cannot have a single economic policy without a single budget”. “There will be endless disagreements about how much European government should spend and where.” “The poorer and richer regions are different. The poorer ones will lose out”. “There is no single political system to take decisions and explain them to electors”.
Unfortunately the EU will cling onto their sacred currency for as long as practically possible, regardless of the economic consequences, but it's obvious where this is all going to end up.

Ireland will be bailed-out despite the reluctance of Irish politicians, such as Ireland's Minister for European Affairs, Dick Roche, to use that term; the pretence is all but over bar the bluffing. All we wait for now is details of the price that Ireland will have to pay for the money. Taoiseach Brian Cowen claims that Ireland's sovereignty is unaffected (was he Heath in another life?), the reality is a little different.

So the situation will return to 'normal' and plenty of spin that the Euro will have been saved. But not quite. Any relief would be short-lived as the focus will then turn to the next-weakest peripheral nation; Portugal, Italy and particularly Spain. And when this happens it's game over for the Euro.

Thursday 18 November 2010

Quote Of The Day

From the UKIP e-newsletter I received today, regarding UKIP’s intention to stand at the Northern Ireland Assembly elections next year:
Northern Ireland is particularly anti-European Union (having a much greater proportion of small businesses and fishing/farming areas than the mainland). It never ceases to amaze me how the Northern Ireland media actually reports on EU issues: if the European Union is bringing in a new Regulation/Directive that affects people, the media says so!

What a contrast to the mainland UK, where the media regularly do what they can to hide the EU dimension to any story. It was also a breath of fresh air to see just how fairly we were treated by the Northern Ireland media.

Bill Cash The Europhile?

Oh dear. These Tories are proving to be a bit of a let down aren't they?

Bill Cash MP is a let-down. In the 1990s, he was a hero of Eurosceptics: a leading Tory critic of the Maastrict Treaty who founded the European Foundation to attack the excesses of the European Project and the endless demands for ever closer union.

Now he’s no better than a Europhile.

Ouch, but it's worth remembering that the so-called 'hero of the Eurosceptics' never got his whip withdrawn unlike other Tories:
...his views haven’t changed – but the political debate has. In the 1990s, it was seen as loony to oppose EU membership, so it was perfectly normal for critics of the EU to argue merely for an “open Europe” and against “Brussels bureaucrats”. Nowadays, EU withdrawal has become a mainstream view and even the integrationists rail against Brussels’ waste.
In other words it's taken nearly 20 years for the Tories to catch up and work it out for themselves:
In the conservative movement, it is no longer just the older Tory rank-and-file who want to leave the EU. Tim Montgomerie of ConservativeHome wants to leave. Wonks such as the 20-something Tom Clougherty, executive director of the Adam Smith Institute, hang out at the Better Off Out group’s drink receptions, and David Green, of Civitas, has published reports calling for withdrawal. Moreover, rising stars among Tory politicians, such as Philip Davies MP, Philip Hollobone MP, Douglas Carswell MP and Dan Hannan MEP are openly in favour of resigning EU membership.

And they still won't do anything about it.

Yet Mr Cash has steadfastedly chosen not to join them, still apparently believing that Britain is better off in the European Union. In the politics of the 2010s, doesn’t that count as pro-European?

Rather like David "out is not in Britain's interests" Cameron.

The Unpatriotic BBC

The head of England's 2018 World Cup bid criticises the BBC as unpatriotic regarding a planned documentary on FIFA corruption a week before the vote on the next hosts of 2018:
"I'm incredibly disappointed with the timing of what the BBC seem to be proposing with Panorama, to do it the week before the vote - I don't think think it's patriotic."
He has a point. It's a truth universally acknowledged that FIFA is fundamentally corrupt, we don't need yet another documentary to tell us that. The only real surprise regarding the latest allegations is that they didn't involve Jack Warner.

What are they going to do next? Panorama exclusively reveals that the Queen is a woman?

Of course FIFA should be held to account, but showing the investigation a week before a crucial vote. What do the BBC hope to achieve? The timing will do maximum damage to England's bid, perhaps that's what the BBC wants?

Wednesday 17 November 2010

Run! Or...Er...Maybe Not

A number of bloggers have picked up on this advice to MPs if attacked:
MPs and their staff will be ordered to flee for their lives in the event of a Mumbai-style terrorist attack on Parliament, according to security advice.
But we know already that MPs won't even do this, instead they react like the proverbial rabbit caught in headlights:
A major review of security is under way after condoms full of purple flour were thrown at Tony Blair as he faced MPs in the House of Commons.

Government sources admitted that the politicians did not know what to do and expressed surprise that people were let out of the chamber.

The source said the MPs' response "did not go the way we expected". The attack would have been "incredibly serious" if the dyed flour had been anthrax or ricin.
It'll be like shooting fish in a barrel.

A Democracy Crisis

...is facing the Eurozone. So says Iain Martin in the Wall Street Journal:
Accelerated by the crisis, a new model of government without direct accountability to voters is being constructed. And the democratic consequences have been given very little thought other than by a hardened band of opponents.

In reality, the political end of the European project is now being completed, having been parked because it was too difficult a subject when the common currency was founded.

So Ireland is not just "linked" to another currency—its independence is no more than notional. In return for its bailout it will lose control over its corporate tax rates, if not this time, then a little further down the line. There will be extraordinary oversight not just of budgets but all manner of other aspects of euro-zone countries' economies. That goes well beyond a pooling of sovereignty. If it walks like a government, and it talks like a government, then it probably is a government.
Pooling or sharing sovereignty has always been a nonsense idea. There's no such thing. It's akin to saying you're 'only a little pregnant'. You're either sovereign or you're not. Iain then asks the obvious question:
But what happens when enough voters, in what might be called a nation state, inside the euro zone, one day soon decide that they want to change their government? I don't mean reshuffle their political elite, drilled by the bond markets and common currency orthodoxy, but vote to really head off in a new direction right or left, a direction that requires an independent economic policy. Perhaps such voters in countries including Ireland will always be relaxed when they discover the option has been permanently removed by the ECB and EU. But what happens if they are not so relaxed?
What happens indeed? The inevitable:
Skepticism about the European project leads to nationalism and extremism, said Mr. Van Rompuy last week. It is equally possible that designing a new form of government that does not have democracy at its heart will anger voters and provide an opening for extremists.

Tuesday 16 November 2010

Fantastic News

A Royal Wedding.

That means my wife will be occupied for the next six months or so. Ah peace.


European finance ministers are meeting today in Brussels searching for a solution to the eurozone's latest crisis - aka how can we bully Ireland into accepting a bail-out. Though as EuReferendum points out:
Confusion, ill-will, acrimony and even panic seem to be dominating proceedings, and for once we seem to have the "colleagues" thrashing around with very little idea of what to do and how to manage the situation. There is a whiff of the euroslime having lost control.
Let's hope so, I don't have time to post my own thoughts at the moment, so here's a small round-up:
  • Autonomous Mind on the nasty bullying of Ireland.

  • The Tap on the reasons for Ireland's refusal (though, as Ireland have had their democratic say over Europe many times, they deserve what they get).

  • Brussels blog thinks this crisis is just what Merkel wants, but it's come sooner than expected.

  • Jeremy Warner in the Telegraph warns that Britain won't be immune from the Euro crisis.

  • Charlemagne's notebook on what the possible rescue package could be like.

  • CityWire on Ireland bowing to the EU's bullying and accepting help for its banks.

  • Financial Times on how attempting to save the Euro is futile and that its death roes are remarkably similar to the failed attempts stave off sterling devaluation during the 1960s
Oh, and the EU budget negotiations have collapsed as well.

Monday 15 November 2010


From tonight's Mansion house speech:
Cameron will hail... a "strong and active" membership of the European Union.
Tomorrow's front pages:

Sunday 14 November 2010


I had lunch today with a long-standing mate who I haven't seen for quite some time. Now, he works in the Met as a Detective Sergeant and quite often tells me stories about his experiences in work that are of the; 'you couldn't make it up' variety, pretty much along the lines of Inspector Gadget. Anyway I thought I would pass on this little story he told me today.

He's currently investigating a fatal stabbing in London which occurred in broad daylight. Naturally the road in question was covered by CCTV. So as part of routine inquires, tapes made at the relevant date and time were requested. However there was a problem...

Upon reviewing the tapes they could identify the victim, and the start of a fight with another man, but instead of zooming in to make identification clearer, the civilian camera operator zoomed away to a different part of the road.


Because he/she had noticed a car driving illegally in a bus lane on that road and they wanted to record the details, because that was the local council's priority. When the camera zoomed back to the fight the victim was lying on the ground having already been stabbed and the assailant had run off. As a consequence of the operator's actions the CCTV footage has proved useless at identifying the perpetrator.

And there was me thinking that CCTV "is one of the ways we keep people safe and make people feel safer in our communities"

Saturday 13 November 2010

Who Runs This Country?

Liberal Democrat MP David Laws:
Pretty soon people will be asking 'who the hell is running this country.
His question is spot on, but he's not referring to the EU is he?

Irish Bailout

Another bailout within the Eurozone now looks very likely:

The Republic of Ireland is in preliminary talks with EU officials for financial support, the BBC has learned.

It is now no longer a matter of whether but when the Irish government formally approaches the European Financial Stability Fund (EFSF) for a bailout, correspondents say.

The euro is fundamentally flawed, so can we get the collapse of the euro out of the way asap. We all know the euro currency can't continue in its current format. How many jobs, or how much economic devastation does it take before reality sinks in?

Friday 12 November 2010

The Tories Should Stop Whinging

Tory HQ damage to cost tens of thousands:
Prime minister David Cameron criticised the violence: “People who assault police officers or who smash windows or who break property are breaking the law and yes, those people I hope… will be prosecuted. They should be,” he said.
Look at the damage done to their last Headquarters, it was far worse:

There is rich symbolism in the fact that the former Conservative Central Office in Smith Square, Westminster, is to be renamed "Europe House", as the new London headquarters of the European Commission (currently tucked away in an obscure alley up the road).

Thursday 11 November 2010

European Union Bill

Was presented for its first reading today, second reading is tomorrow which seems remarkably quick as Tory MP Bill Cash highlights:
On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. I raised earlier with the Leader of the House my Committee’s concerns at the extremely short time between the presentation of the European Union Bill and its Second Reading. The Bill deals with matters of enormous constitutional importance and it would be appropriate, within the terms of reference of my Committee, to guarantee that we are given adequate time to consider it. I would be grateful, Mr Deputy Speaker, if you would be kind enough to take that point on board for the purposes of ensuring that, within the Standing Orders, my Committee has appropriate time to deal with the Bill.
Surely Cameron's Tories are not trying to rush through hopelessly inadequate legislation to prevent proper scrutiny. Surely not?

Update: Odd, despite yesterday's Hansard stating this:
Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time tomorrow, and to be printed (Bill 106) with explanatory notes
(Bill 106-
EN ).
...it doesn't appear on today's Order Paper, and Parliament's progress site states that the date of the second reading is yet to be announced. Though the printed Bill can be found here.

Bill Cash is still not happy (his emphasis):

Bill Cash announced that the Commons European Scrutiny Committee would be holding an inquiry into the Bill, which would be the “fullest into the issues, including the sovereignty of Parliament, that has ever taken place.” Bill Cash has only been given four months to conduct the inquiry, which he described as “wholly inadequate.”

Open Europe

For the first time in years I've been unable to attend an Open Europe event due to it being over-subscribed. The email I received is as follows:
We have had a very high response to this event, & consequently are fully booked at present. However, I will add your details to our reserve list
It's probably unwise to read too much into this, but I wonder if this is another example of not only Europe not going away but the issue gaining momentum.

Van Rompuy Approves Of Cameron's Euroscepticism

Which tells you all you need to know, as that 'Berlin speech' saga rumbles on:

Clarifying the remarks, a spokesman for Mr Van Rompuy, stressed that he was not talking about Mr Cameron's brand of Euroscepticism but about those people who want to leave the EU.

"It is nothing to do with what Mr Cameron thinks. It is a point that Britain or other countries are not able to survive on their own. I am sure Mr Cameron would agree with that," he said.

So what is Van Rompuy scared of?

Mr Van Rompuy and other senior EU officials are concerned about the spread of populist Eurosceptic groups, such as Ukip, beyond Britain to Germany and the Netherlands.

Van Rompuy is concerned about me? How touching. Whoop we've got them on the run chaps. When he speaks of fear it's not ours he's talking about but his own - the fear that the EU will fail.

I'll leave the final word to Farage:

"This man is an overpaid catastrophe who wants to abolish our nation. Nation states will not disappear because they are the expression of peoples' will. The EU is swimming against the tide of history. The number of nation states in the world is increasing all the time."

hattip: Mark Wadsworth

Labour MEP Loses Marbles

From Mary Honeyball MEP:
The EU leads the Way on Democracy
In case you misread that (and I don't blame you if you did) I'll quote it again:
The EU leads the Way on Democracy
She ends her post:

The Citizens’ Initiative* is a way forward allowing people not only a say but a concrete means of bringing about change. It’s good for all of us and a real example to our national parliamentarians.

I'm genuinely lost for words.

*I've blogged about the Citizen's Initiative a few times, needless to say that democratic is the last that it is.

At Last

From today's Order Paper it looks like the Sovereignty Bill (Referendum Lock) gets its first reading:

[No debate]
Secretary William Hague

Bill to make provision about treaties relating to the European Union and decisions made under them, including provision implementing the Protocol signed at Brussels on 23 June 2010 amending the Protocol (No. 36) on transitional provisions annexed to the Treaty on European Union, to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and to the Treaty establishing the European Atomic Energy Community; and to make provision about the means by which directly applicable or directly effective European Union law has effect in the United Kingdom.

Quote Of The Day

From the marvelous Mary Ellen Synon on Van Rompuy's 'Nation State is a lie' speech:
But last night in Berlin, Van Rompuy showed what he really is. And that is, a dangerous, cynical man who intends that all of Europe should be turned into a vast version of Belgium, an invented country called Europe where the loyal feelings and patriotism of the ancient nations are suppressed -- all replaced with a European nationalism.
Van Rompuy is also deluded; you cannot impose an artificial construct or government on a people against their will without consequences. It always fails, usually like this.

We Will Remember Them.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

Wednesday 10 November 2010

UK Budget Now Under EU Scrunity

Douglas Carswell et al lost their vote tonight (surprise surprise) to reject EU scrutiny of the UK budget via point 34:
The House divided: Ayes 296, Noes 40.
Mr Hoban, who put forward the original motion in support of a Treaty change, argues:

I have listened carefully to hon. Members’ concerns tonight, and I want to state yet again that the proposals from the Van Rompuy taskforce strengthen an existing framework, crucially without encroaching on fiscal and economic sovereignty. There is much more work to be done on this, but let me assure my right hon. and hon. Friends that the Government are committed to securing the best outcome from the proposals, to defending Britain’s interests and to protecting this Parliament’s right to set and scrutinise our fiscal policy. Anything less would not be acceptable.

I shall deal with some of the issues that have been raised in the debate. Does the fact that the EU, along with other organisations, undertakes surveillance mean that we will be subject to sanctions? No, it does not. Does the measure mean that we will need to follow any of the recommendations made? No. Will we have to present our Budget to Europe before we present it to this House? No. Will we have to give the EU information that has not been presented to this House first? No. Will the provision of information erode our sovereignty? No. Perhaps more importantly, will any powers over our Budget be transferred from Westminster to Brussels? Again, no. I hope that I have been clear and explicit on those points, and it is for those reasons that I ask Members to support the motion tonight.

Point 34 says this:

"a new legal framework .... applying to all EU Member States".
What Mr Hoban says is not technically inaccurate...at the moment, but it will be. Point 34 lays the foundation for further encroachment in the future. That's how the EU works. I'm not called the Boiling Frog for nothing.

New And Improved?

The Telegrah website may have had a visual revamp but it still churns out the same old ignorant nonsense:
We are sovereign, but no longer independent.
Well we're either one or the other we can't be both. It's like saying I'm a little pregnant.
....are we any longer an independent, sovereign country?
Er contradiction with your headline:
To the extent that we have transferred decision-making powers to supranational bodies such as the EU and Nato, the answer to that question must be no.
The Telegraph doesn't even know the difference between a supranational and intergovernmental organisation. Here's a clue - NATO is an intergovernmental organisation not a supranational one. No wonder the Tories get it so wrong.

The Telegraph's praise of the Tories policy continues (my emphasis):
Yet none of the major developments in Europe since 1972 – the Single European Act, the Maastricht Treaty and, most recently, the Lisbon Treaty – has been forced on the country: they were debated and voted on by Parliament.

The Single European Act was passed within six days with very few MPs in attendance - starting on a Thursday because most MPs would be eager to go home for the weekend. After 3 sessions of the committee stage, the Tory government abruptly curtailed any further discussion by passing a 'guillotine' motion. Peter Tapsell MP reflected later; "We didn't give it the attention we should have done".

The Maastricht Treaty was only passed eventually, because John Major called a vote of confidence on it against the wishes of the House who had effectively voted the Treaty down. Every tactic was used, short of physical violence, against Tory MPs.

The Lisbon Treaty passed despite promises by the overwhelming number of MPs for a referendum.

Some Parliamentary debate. Then:
Once they became law, the primacy of the EU’s jurisdiction was asserted – even if the results were not always foreseen, or welcome.
EU law is supreme, yep:
None the less, in a succession of rulings over the years, the courts have asserted that Parliament does remain sovereign. If it passed an Act to rescind or repudiate any provision of the Treaty of Rome, the British statute would prevail.
Did the Telegraph actually read its own paragraph above regarding EU law and being supreme? And then there's the Lisbon Treaty which negates Parliamentary sovereignty to rescind EU treaties:
In order to remove any doubt that this is so, and to prevent judges concluding that a new legal order has evolved, the Government is today publishing a Bill that encapsulates the sovereignty of Parliament in statute.
We don't need one, parliament is either sovereign or it's not, and since Lisbon it's not otherwise Cameron could repeal the Lisbon treaty via an act of Parliament which he can't - by his own admission:
The increased use of referendums is itself a diminution of parliamentary sovereignty;
As opposed to EU membership which of course is not a diminution of parliamentary sovereignty is it? The Telegraph concludes:
On Armistice Day of all days, some might consider that a betrayal of those who fought for Britain to remain an independent country. But in truth, that pass was sold long ago.
We'll just give up then? Eh?

How long...

...before, as the students are rioting and are damaging private property at will, will someone put footage on youtube whinging that the Police have over-reacted?


Anarchy is fun, fun, fun. Oh whoops maybe not:

Then unsurprisingly:

Read more here. This protesting nonsense appears to be more intimidating and difficult than first thought. They should think themselves lucky they're not football fans - the police would never have so much patience.

U-Turn If You Want To

Some students are on a jolly demonstration 'beer induced riot 'cos it's fun' today campaigning against tuition fees. Now as a former student I have some sympathy with their plight but the arguments for or against the coalition's proposals, and the national debt, is not the point of this post.

No, the point of my post is to laugh. Laugh at their naivety at being taken in by those 'cuddly' Lib Dems, thinking that they would be different from the 'other two':

The National Union of Students is threatening to try to unseat MPs who go back on pre-election pledges to oppose any rise in tuition fees.

It says the Liberal Democrats face an electoral "wipeout" if they break their pledge to vote against higher fees.

The Lib Dems have long targeted the student vote, as Paul Linford writes here:
But Labour's shameless U-turn [on top-up fees] created a huge political opportunity for the Liberal Democrats, which they subsequently sought to exploit to the full in constituencies with large student populations.

Among the seats they targeted in 2005 was Newcastle Central, and it was probably only the personal popularity of the then MP, Jim Cousins, that stopped them winning it.

The Lib Dems were again making the most of the issue during this year's campaign, which they fought on a pledge to abolish the fees in place of a 'graduate tax.'
Now though it is all different:
As one Sheffield student told the BBC's Question Time on Thursday: "Nick Clegg was never out of our student union during the election. Now we can't even get a meeting with him."
And it's not just Clegg who's pusillanimous:
The Business Secretary Vince Cable has pulled out of a planned visit to Oxford University where students were planning a protest.
They're yellow for a reason.

As anyone who follows Lib Dems in Parliament or who has campaigned against them in local elections knows they are the most duplicitous, two faced bastards known to man. (that's why Cameron gets on with them so well) The only principles they understand is that they don't have any.

Still, at least the current students have learnt their Lib Dem 'mistake' early on in their political life.

Update: Clegg is getting a hard time over this at PMQs.

Withdrawal Is The Only Option

A letter in today's Telegraph, from 2 UKIP Lords make the point that the EU "juggernaut" cannot be stopped:

Withdrawal is the only way to avoid the EU juggernaut

SIR – Your call for the European Union juggernaut to be stopped (Leading article, November 8) underestimates the difficulty of doing so.

Not even a comma can be changed in the treaties and no power returned to this country, without the unanimous consent of all 27 member states. There is no prospect of this being achieved, so the only way out remains the door.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch
Lord Stoddart of Swindon
London SW1

The Nation State Is Over

That is the view of this unelected President*
We have together to fight the danger of a new Euro-scepticism. This is no longer the monopoly of a few countries. In every Member State, there are people who believe their country can survive alone in the globalised world. It is more than an illusion: it is a lie! The time of the homogeneous nation-state is over.
How dare all those people believe in their country. I mean really? Van Rompuy knows best! Personally I suspect that Mr Unelected will find out sooner or later that the views of those 'who believe' will be far more superior in numbers than him, and he will need that protection that he relies on.

IanPJ on Politics has a great post on Van Rompuy's views.

*Note: Van Rompuy is not only the President of the European Council but has also recently become de facto President of the Council of the European Union.

EU Economic Coordination

The Lisbon Treaty amendments which apply to all member states comes up for approval in the Commons today.

Apparently up to 50 Tories could vote against the Government. We shall see.

Update: Today's Order Paper has just been published online, with more details on the motion


Well that puts me in my place:

According to a survey, Swindon is Britain’s most ignorant town. In a poll carried out for the BBC TV series QI, the town came an embarrassing last place. Its residents struggled to name the colour of oranges, were confused over the number of legs an octopus has and were unsure when Advent begins.

Though oddly:
Swindon...is also famed for having Britain’s most confusing road junction – consisting of five mini-roundabouts and nicknamed the Magic Roundabout.
So residents in Swindon who are apparently dumb are capable of using a roundabout which everyone else who's more brainy than them finds confusing? Hmm there's a contradiction in there somewhere.

I wonder if this man comes from Swindon?

Tuesday 9 November 2010

Broken Promises

From the Telegraph:
Gordon Brown issued a thinly veiled swipe at Tony Blair today as he hit out at politicians who fail to keep promises to step down from office after two terms.

''People make it clear, as I have, to some of these leaders that if they say something and then are not in a position to deliver it then their authority is affected by that,'' he said.
I sympathise with Brown, I really do. How dare politicians not keep their promises.

Mandatory Nutrition Risk Screening

Proposed in the EU parliament:
Slovenian MEP Alojz Peterle has called for mandatory nutrition risk screening to help tackle the problem of malnutrition.

Speaking in parliament on Tuesday, the centre-right deputy said he plans to launch a resolution calling for pan-European screening for all hospital patients.

He said, "Malnutrition is associated with a whole host of public health concerns and chronic conditions - including obesity, cardiovascular disease, musculoskeletal disorders, some cancers and certain rare diseases.

"All of these place a considerable economic burden on healthcare systems, particularly as society continues to age.

"Malnutrition requires a cross-cutting solution; a good first step would be mandatory nutrition risk screening across Europe, on which I will encourage my colleagues to adopt a parliamentary resolution."

The conference was told that some 20 million EU citizens suffer from malnutrition and the health-related costs of the condition are estimated to be as high as €120bn a year.
Perhaps not doing this might help.

Ted Heath Must Be Laughing In His Grave

Not my words, those are the words of Tory MEP Roger Helmer in the comments of John Redwood's post:
John: You’re absolutely right, as usual. But how on earth do we stop it, when the Tory High Command is more pro-Brussels than even New Labour were? Ted Heath must be laughing in his grave — all he hoped and planned for is coming true.
How earth do you stop it? By joining a proper eurosceptic party. You know you want to.

hattip: The Talking Clock

Monday 8 November 2010

Getting Away With Murder

Laughably John Hirst, him the 'personal crusader for human rights', seems to be ignorant of other's human rights, notably freedom of speech (article 10) - other than, of course, the right to live. He's threatening to sue just about everyone for libel, including Gawain Towler:
John, you cut your landlandy up with an axe. Deal with it, some will not allow you the convienmce that you allow yourself, your manslaughter verdict does not in any way diminish your responsibility in my or many other eyes. To me you are an axe-murderer, and what is more I describe you as such ion converstaions, on line and elsewhere.

So go on, add me to your list of legal targets. Because that email and threat just has to be the most pompus thing I have seen in years.
Hirst's response?

I am putting you on notice to remove the libel against me or face the legal consequences.

Apparently the European Convention on Human Rights only works one way for the likes of John Hirst