Friday 30 September 2011

The Game Is Up

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard in the Telegraph writes that the German 'yes' vote yesterday, itself a foregone conclusion and irrelevant to solving the immediate Euro crisis, has actually a greater significance. Like the German Constitutional Court a couple of weeks ago, it's a 'yes' to this bailout but a 'no' to any further integration:
The furious debate over the erosion of German fiscal sovereignty and democracy – as well as the escalating costs of the EU rescue machinery – has made it absolutely clear that the Bundestag will not prop up the ruins of monetary union for much longer.
The Germans, the paymasters, have reached their limit of EU integration and this is profoundly significant.
As Bundestag president Norbert Lammert said yesterday, lawmakers had a nasty feeling that they had been "bounced" into backing far-reaching demands. This can never be allowed to happen again. He warned too that Germany's legislature would not give up its fiscal sovereignty to any EU body.

In a sense, the Bundestag vote was much like the ruling by the Constitutional Court earlier this month...what mattered was the Court’s implicit warning that Germany had reached the outer boundaries of EU integration, that German democracy is under threat, and its explicit warning that the Bundestag’s fiscal powers could not be alienated to Brussels.

Germans have begun to sense that the preservation of their own democracy and rule of law is in conflict with demands from Europe.
All of which means that Jean Monnet's dream of a Europe with no nation states and no democracy is all over. When confronted head on with the choice of full integration with the EU or sovereignty and democracy, the people will inevitability choose the latter - nation states, territory, a sense of belonging are essential to human nature.

Monnet himself knew this, which is why he adopted a process known as 'engrenage' or 'gearing' to facilitate political integration. By moving towards 'ever closer union' using what are essentially salami tactics Monnet hoped to achieve his goal without people noticing, until the very last minute. Then he hoped that we would all wake up under a fully-fledged union and say; 'hey I like this new world order'. Deluded yes but his political project came very close to being realised.

And this is why the Euro crisis has been so significant; it has torpedoed completely the engrenage method.

Like everything else in the EU, the Euro was a trojan horse for 'more Europe' - a political project despite Peter Oborne's assertions to the contrary. In a currency union you need to start with politics and end with economics. A currency union needs; one government, one chancellor, one budget, one economic policy and fiscal transfers from richer parts of the union to subsidise other less rich parts. A classic example of a largely successful economic union is the UK for these very reasons.

The EU however put the cart before the horse - it had one currency but 17 different budgets, economic policies and governments - and deliberately so. Knowing they wouldn't get away political union first - because the pesky voters might get in the way, they hoped that the Euro's flaws would facilitate it via the back door. They hoped that the Euro faced regular little 'problems' due to its inherent faults which then could be met with 'more Europe is the solution'. And step by step it would reach its ultimate goal.

Unfortunately (for them) the current problems are so big that the engrenage method is woefully inadequate, instead countries are being asked to make one giant leap to full integration (the only workable solution) missing out all the little steps in-between. And one of the most important countries in the EU has just said nein in response.

It's all over - "the train that is fortunately moving too fast for anyone to stop it" has been stopped. The fallout, the legacy, the problems will all remain with us for a long time yet, but the irresistible force of the EU has reached an immovable object, now it must begin its slow decline.

With deep irony the Germans have saved the rest of Europe from tyranny.


It's conference season so we have another initiative, this time Eric Pickles proposing to reward councils financially who return back to weekly collections:
Town halls are to be shamed into bringing back weekly bin collections, it was revealed yesterday.

In a victory for householders, ministers unveiled a £250million fund to restore them.
Laughably, Pickles then says this:
‘Labour’s solution was to bully councils into fortnightly collections. My view is this goes beyond bins – it’s about a question of trust between politicians and the public.
A question of trust? If Pickles really meant that he would have said something like this instead:
Because of the EU landfill Directive and its subsequent targets to reduce landfill, councils have altered their waste collections accordingly. In order to return back to weekly collections the Government will pay the councils' EU fines if their exceed their landfill allocation (currently £150 per tonne over). Don't ask me where this money will come from, I don't know.
Effectively this coalition government has increased our contribution to EU by £250m. Meanwhile, 1000 Royal Navy personnel will be made redundant today.

Thursday 29 September 2011

Labour Conference

Is it me, or does the end of the Labour conference resemble a bizarre hippy funeral. Both Red Flag and Jerusalem were sung less than gusto:

This is how Jerusalem should be sung:

Another Plastic

Boris Johnson uses his 'lovable buffoon' routine well, even to the point of pretending that he can't play football properly. But it's an act that cleverly disguises a burning ambition to get to the top of the greasy political poll. He's not to be underestimated in that sense - a mistake that Ken Livingstone made to his cost over the London Mayor elections.

So as a Tory we can expect the usual Tory Eurosceptic nonsense to appeal to the grass roots and indeed Boris doesn't disappoint:
"In those days, the column appeared on Thursdays. On Wednesday afternoons he would typically seek inspiration by visiting his Westminster staff in the annexe room, where he would play a game to find the best idea. On occasion this would descend into a competition to suggest the theme most likely to produce catastrophic consequences for his career. One of Boris’s favourites was: ‘Why David Cameron is a complete c**t’ – indeed, he was so enthused, he even started to compose an introduction beginning: ‘One thing that has become apparent to me in my years of Parliamentary service is that David Cameron is a complete c**t’. Another time, it was, ‘Why I believe in a European superstate’."
And here's Boris rambling on about the Lisbon Treaty and the need for a referendum.

From the way he talked during the fun and games, it was clear that Boris preferred the views and company of those inhabiting the more pro-European and left-leaning reaches of Toryism rather than the ones at the opposite end of the spectrum. ‘Boris and I got on because we have similar dislike of most members of the Conservative party,’ explains Chris Cook – one of David Willetts’ aides, also based in the annexe room. ‘He’s clearly not on the right wing, but actually quite Europhile in Tory terms. He liked to come into our office to gossipand bitch about the right-wingers, particularly Liam Fox, or indeed anyone else he thought had screwed up the party that week.’
The Tory injection moulding process continues unabated.

No Surprises

In news as unexpected as seeing bears heading towards the nearest wooded area clutching newspapers, the German parliament has backed the expansion of the European bail-out fund, in an apparent 'crucial' vote this morning.

This is the same package that was discussed in July - it's only taken a couple of months. Meanwhile the Eurozone crisis has moved on, The vote is irrelevant.

Italy has paid a record Euro-era high for bonds, the Greeks are still revolting, oh and Spain is still in trouble.

More Than One Idiot Last Night

You can tell the Euro is in deep trouble when it leads the BBC news headlines for days on end - which it has done. Newsnight last night covered the crisis extensively, but much is being made of Peter Oborne's contribution where, among other things, his persistent use of the word 'idiot' to an EU apparatchik led to the chap walking off.

Richard North is not impressed with Oborne's performance and I agree completely. Fair enough about calling the EU man an idiot - given the devastation this crisis will cause I'd be tempted to use much stronger terms - but Oborne's no eurosceptic. He's claiming the victory won by others.

Oborne wrote in April this year:
For the past 20 years, the Conservatives have been the only major Eurosceptic party in Britain.
Anyone who thinks that is an idiot. Oborne continues in the same article:
It is already safe to say that Ed Miliband’s Labour Party is considerably more Eurosceptic than at any time since that Delors speech in 1988.
Anyone who thinks that is an idiot. This from the Evening Standard two days ago:
Ed Miliband today came under pressure to back a referendum on Britain's EU membership as a way to split the coalition government...[but] sources close to Mr Miliband said that a referendum was not a "realistic prospect".
Then Oborne writes:
This meant [Tory Eurosceptics] felt so isolated that they were afraid to speak out – the main reason why David Cameron has gone out of his way to close down Europe as a subject of debate.
Close down the debate? Yep with the help of Oborne. As proved nearly a month later when we get this from Oborne:
David Cameron has the makings of a truly great prime minister. Many of those in No 10 end up as essentially irrelevant figures, but a small few attain genuinely heroic status, says Peter Oborne...So the ambition of the Cameron Government is beyond praise. If it achieves half of what it has set out to do, it will come to be seen as one of the great reforming governments of all time. Personally, too, the Prime Minister is setting about his mission with grace and charm...
"Ambition beyond praise...?" Anyone who thinks that is an idiot. Oborne is praising the same government who has integrated into the EU faster than previous one. Not my words...

This is a Conservative-led government. The Conservative Party's policy, clearly set out in our 2010 Manifesto, was to start repatriating key powers from Brussels. Instead we are transferring new powers to the EU faster that the previous Labour administration did. Eurosceptic Conservatives -- who form the majority of the Party's rank and file -- are entitled to be appalled by the Coalition's EU policies.
Oborne is part of the problem, as Richard rightly points out:

Peter Oborne - who kept EU issues out of the media, and played along with Cameron who sought to suppress discussion on the EU.
Oborne, like many Tories, do not advocate EU withdrawal but are instead using the Euro crisis to pretend that they are Eurosceptics. He is a classic Europlastic - an idiot. The only small comfort is when everything goes up in flames, he'll be the first to melt.

Tuesday 27 September 2011


Former Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Ed Miliband, used part of his conference speech to bash the energy companies for their prices. This would be the same idiot who wanted to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by the middle of this century and whose policies have directly led to energy price rises.

However in proof that God has a sense of humour, Miliband's speech suffered from a power cut - meaning all the live feeds went down:
Ed Miliband's landmark speech to the Labour conference was dealt a massive blow today when the live link went down just five minutes into his address to the nation.

After a two-minute opening during which he rattled off five jokes, the Labour leader declared he was going to 'get down to business' - but almost immediately the screens went blank, and those watching the BBC and Sky were cut off from the speech.
Oh the irony.

A Euro Summary

Stock markets are up today so far, on rumours that the EU might at last do something and that the Germans have met up with the Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou to give him a bit of a telling off. Cue lots of grandiose statements as a result of the meeting. But what has changed? In a word; nothing:
  • Greece is still bankrupt.

  • Eurozone leaders are still pretending it isn't.

  • Some other Eurozone countries are bankrupt.

  • Eurozone leaders are still pretending they aren't.

  • The usual 'we have a grand solution' before an EU meeting turns out to be more of the same, with no changes since July's agreement.

  • Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou claims that Greece will rise again with help of his European 'partners'.

  • EU leaders are split on how to deal with the crisis.

  • The solution of fiscal union cannot get pass various Eurozone governments.

  • The EU response to a rapidly moving crisis is being conducted (as always) at the speed of a valium-taking tortoise.
Anyway in the midst of all this economic gloom, one TBF tip*, buy shares in Fuller's brewery. Because when the Euro goes pear-shaped (and despite all the problems it will cause) I will be doing my damnedest to improve their share price by consuming industrial quantities of my favourite ale for days, in way of celebration.

The information contained on this blog post is for information purposes only. The Boiling Frog does not hold himself as providing any legal, financial or other advice and does not offer any advice regarding the nature, potential value or suitability of any particular flawed currencies or investments.

Remember shares can go down as well as plummet.

Monday 26 September 2011

BBC Hears The Truth

And do they not like it - listen to the shock of BBC presenters, they really can't comprehend what they're hearing:


I didn't watch Ed Balls' much trailed speech at the Labour conference - I haven't watched any of them so far as I can't be bothered in truth - and with good reason, as epitomised by one of Balls' proposals to get the economy going, which according to the BBC, is:
Immediate one-year cut in VAT to 5% on home improvements, repairs and maintenance
VAT is of course an EU tax, so any changes are subject to approval by our Brussels masters, and lo and behold a quick check shows that this policy was announced in 2009 with EU approval:

The UK is to be given the option to charge VAT on home maintenance and repairs at a reduced rate of 5%, after a ruling by European Union finance chiefs.

The ruling paves the way for the UK government to ease the tax burden on a construction industry badly hit by the recession – allowing architects, builders and surveyors to carry out private refurbishments for a cheaper rate.

Yesterday's decision by the EU Economic and Financial Affairs Council to allow member states to lower VAT on renovation and repair of private dwellings from 17.5% to 5% comes after months of campaigning by trade bodies and MPs.

A 5% VAT rate on home improvements was one of the main points of the Get Britain Building manifesto set up by a coalition of MPs and trade bodies last month. It has also been the focus of a long-running campaign led by the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).

Sigh, plus ça change, etc etc

Everything Starts With An E

From the superb Cranmer, a post on the continuing decline of the Conservative Party, as demonstrated by the list of suggested topics to discuss at the Tory conference next week:
It appears that MPs are being encouraged to discuss fashion at next week’s party conference. Yes, that’s right, fashion. It’s a topic recommended by CCHQ in which ‘delegates might like to take an interest’.
And the subject that has not been suggested? Go on guess it begins with E:
Paul Goodman at ConservativeHome notes that suggested topics for debate do not include the European Union. You see, the last thing CCHQ wants is for delegates (not representatives?) to ‘bang on’ about Europe. Good grief, no
The markets are in turmoil, the IMF is running out of money, Greece is set to default, French banks are in real trouble, there's a real possibility that the Euro could collapse before the Tory conference even starts, setting off god knows what consequences, but the subject suggested for discussion

As a line in the song asks: "what planet are you on?" Indeed.

Quote Of The Day

"At each stage the opponents of the euro have forecast disasters which have in fact never happened and which always looked most unlikely...the Euro-sceptics constantly underestimated the competence of the Europeans and their ability to organise things properly."
From the 2002 paper, Why Britain Should Join The Euro, where one of authors was a certain Chris Huhne.

Sunday 25 September 2011

Yes In A Way It's Our Fault?

One of my favourite Paul Merton lines on the quiz show Have I Got News For You was during the famous episode when host Angus Deayton was getting a thoroughly deserved kicking over tabloid exploits concerning his private life the previous Sunday.

Deayton started complaining about the treatment he was getting from the two captains which prompted Merton to quip sarcastically:
"yes in a way it's our fault isn't it?"

And it's with this in mind I read Chris Bryant's article in the Independent on Sunday, desperately trying to blame eurosceptics for the Euro shambles:
Can't you just hear the eurosceptics cackling? They've been salivating away like Pavlov's dogs at every twist of the eurozone's recent travails. They've even formed a new group in Parliament where they are busy practising framing the words "I told you so" like debutantes learning to pout, while they hope against hope that they are witnessing the twitching corpse of the European Union.
Eurosceptics howled down the idea of enforced EU audits, of course. If France and Germany had abided by the Stability and Growth Pact and if the European Commission or the Council of Ministers had been given powers to intervene when the pact was being flouted, then Europe might have avoided the shared misery and uncertainty of today. But oh no, proud national autonomy meant that we campaigned for the weakest possible set of rules.
Yes, because in a way it's our fault isn't it?

They Were Warned

Richard North has often blogged about the coming reckoning in language that upsets his more sensitive readers; in short that if the current political situation continues to deteriorate then the people will rise up and slaughter the politicians:
But we must not talk of killing these people ... to do so could be construed as an arrestable offence - and it upsets some of our more sensitive readers. We, the little people, should instead smile and be grateful that we have such towering figures looking after our interests, for such a pittance. You know it makes sense.
Yet in the Daily Telegraph (by a BBC reporter no less), titled The Greek tragedy: no money, no hope, the Greeks are openingly talking about just such actions as their day-to-day situation becomes ever more desperate:

"Some days we only buy the basics and a few days lately we were not able to buy even those. We have to count our cents to decide between buying bread, milk or butter," says Mary.

"Some days are better, but some are difficult. We don't buy clothes any more. People don't go out. There is simply no money around out there."

And it's what's happening in living rooms like Mary's that presents the bigger danger to the future of Greece reports the Telegraph. People in Greece are switching off: from politics, from the mass media, from social life:

"We would like to see the politicians executed," says Maria, not smiling as she delivers the joke. "Most people are saying this: politicians deserve capital punishment – at the Greek equivalent of Traitors' Gate. It would be a nice time for politicians to be heroes, to stand up and defend the people. But they're not."

"We can't watch the television news any more," says Dmitris, shaking his head. "...Perhaps it's fortunate that we've had to cancel our cable TV subscription. I don't trust the media any more: I get all my news from the internet."

Greece is collapsing and it's rapidly reaching a toxic combination of no work, soaring crime, shortages of food and medicine and an angry population with nothing to lose:
As a result Greek politicians have started to worry about something called "anomie" – a pervasive listlessness, low-level social conflict and the erosion of bonds between the country's citizens and the state.

You can read it in the figures: suicides have soared by 40 per cent in a year. Thefts and break-ins almost doubled between 2007 and 2009. Hostility to migrants – their arrival ignored during the good times after entry into the EU and the euro – has become widespread and unconcealed.

At the doors of small charities, queues of single men – ranging from Iraqis to Somalis to Nepalese – form in the early morning to receive free food or medical treatment. Now, to their intense anger, some Greeks are being forced to join these queues: 39 per cent of the country's under 24s are unemployed.

Despite the unsustainable situation in Greece due to previous bailout measures, the EU, in order to save their faces, want to impose even more austerity onto the Greek people. The consequences of which have very gloomy parallels:
What's been obvious, each time, is the ordinariness of the people involved – bank clerks, interior designers, even a concert pianist once, their faces painted with alkaline liquid against the sting of the gas.

But it is this seething anger of those who have never been on a demo that is really frightening - because we have no model for what happens if the middle class of a developed country simply switches off from politics and gives up hope.

Not since the 1930s, anyway.

All of which has been entirely predictable; removing sovereignty, creating an artificial currency and removing people's ability to throw out incompetent governments via the ballot box always leaves only one option.

They were warned, they chose to ignore those warnings. Now they must suffer the consequences.

Thursday 22 September 2011

Turning The Tables

Julian Assange, him of Wikileaks fame, has criticised a UK publisher of...erm... leaking draft copies of his autobiography without approval. No, really:
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has accused a UK publisher of a breach of contract for releasing drafts of his autobiography without his approval.

Mr Assange said in a statement: "The events surrounding its unauthorised publication by Canongate are not about freedom of information.

"They are about old-fashioned opportunism and duplicity - screwing people over to make a buck."

He said Canongate had acted in breach of contract and personal assurances that the draft would not be released without his permission.

It's hard not to laugh.

Keep Calm And Carry On

UKK41 picks up on the story that the Keep Calm and Carry On poster, produced by the British government in 1939, has been granted an EU Community Trade Mark meaning only one company can use it:

When ‘KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON’ was used by the British Government in 1939, Britain was facing a possible invasion. Today, we are seeing the long arm of Europe encroaching on our national heritage again.

The EU has granted an EU Community Trade Mark to ‘KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON’ meaning that only one company may use the slogan for clothing, mugs, posters and other memorabilia. This could potentially put many companies out of business.

UKK41 is absolutely astounded and I concur.

*bangs head against table*

Tuesday 20 September 2011

Slovenia Government Set To Collapse

Just to add a little more spice into the Eurozone crisis it appears that the Slovenian Government is set to collapse this evening:
Sept. 20 (Bloomberg) -- Slovenia's government will probably fall at a confidence vote today, plunging the first post- communist euro-region member into turmoil as it struggles to control public spending amid Europe's sovereign-debt crisis.
It doesn't rain, it pours...

Update: The Slovenian Government has fallen - it's lost the confidence vote:
The political deadlock could jeopardize Slovenia's contribution to the European rescue fund for other debt-strapped eurozone nations.

No, No, No!

Sadly I'm not referring to Thatcher's most famous Parliamentary moment but Nick Clegg's response on this morning's BBC Today programme when questioned over the Euro.

I linked to it in an earlier post, but only now have I've had a chance to listen again properly. It's in fact a wonderful example of weapons-grade weasel words. My earlier thoughts that he claimed no-one predicted the Euro crisis are slightly incorrect. That's the impression Clegg wants to give however he specifically argues that no-one predicted that the current budget rules, particularly by France, would be flouted. A different assertion altogether.

When pressed by Justin Webb that 'Tory Eurosceptics' predicted a crisis Clegg goes into a 'no no no' moment and says:
"That is complete nonsense, people criticise the Euro for wholly different reasons they didn't predict that the Stability and Growth Pact and the rules enshrined in that... would have been so summarily ignored"
By concentrating on such a narrow aspect of the Euro crisis, and ignoring wider concerns expressed at the time, Clegg is trying to maintain that he's been right all along if only everyone abided by the rules... or to put it another way it's a desperate attempt at trying to get out of a 'told you so' moment.

Meanwhile, due to the crisis, the Greeks have resorted to eating from bins*:
Today Greeks are also looking through bins. Many of them are looking for things to sell, but others are searching for food.

For 25 years, Iranian born Samat Eftehar has owned a tavern in Exarchia. "It is still a lively little neighbourhood. I have known most of the people here for years. Some of them who were already on low salaries have had their wages cut. They are decent people, and now they are forced to eat from bins," he says.

Giorgos Arabatzoglou works as a street cleaner for Penteli district in the north of Athens: "Even in this well-off suburb, people are going through the bins, especially on market days. And it’s on the increase,” he says. “We are always finding torn bin liners, so we think more people are rooting: not just in the supermarket bins, but also outside souvlaki shops. Recently, I saw the extraordinary spectacle of a well-dressed young woman, rooting through a pile of expired yogurts trying to find the one with the most recent date."
I doubt somehow that multi-millionaire Clegg gives a damn - his Euro ideology is more important.

*hattip: Muffled Vociferation


Tory Nadine Dorries is one of those MPs who's so thick that even the other MPs have noticed, so it is of no surprised that she is getting all excited over Mark Pritchard's article yesterday in the Daily Telegraph. She blogs:
I am very definitely one of those calling for a referendum as backbench MP and secretary of the 1922 committee Mark Pritchard has done in today’s Daily Telegraph.

The time for all backbench Tory MPs to start pushing for a referendum is now. Not at conference where such meetings will be tolerated, but back in Westminster when Parliament resumes and conference is forgotten. Westminster is the kitchen and we backbenchers will have to turn up the heat to get what we want.
Pushing for a referendum? Hmm so let's have a look her voting record on EU matters now her party is in Government:
  1. She voted to approve of the Lisbon Treaty:
    Nadine Dorries MP, Mid Bedfordshire voted to establish the European Union External Action Service.
  2. She approved that the EU should have economic governance over the UK:
    Nadine Dorries MP, Mid Bedfordshire voted to approve the Government's position that any sanctions proposed by the EU in relation to economic governance do not apply to the UK.
  3. And voted to approve UK bailouts of Eurozone countries:
    Nadine Dorries MP, Mid Bedfordshire voted to dilute proposed opposition to EU bailouts of countries in financial trouble.
Does she really think we're all taken in by her nonsense? Apparently so. Talking of thick MPs, Clegg today claims no-one predicted the Euro crisis (circa 12 mins in).

Meanwhile the Euro turmoil continues with the imminent default of Greece, a surprising downgrade of Italy's credit rating and the China State Bank halting FX swaps with UBS and big 3 French banks.

Monday 19 September 2011

A Monday Morning Joke

From the Telegraph regarding the Euro debt crisis:
How many European leaders does it take to change a lightbulb? There's nothing wrong with the lightbulb.
(Obviously though it's not an incandescent one)

Confusion In The Ranks

My first reaction, on reading a call by the Tory 1922 committee on a referendum on Europe in today's Telegraph, was one of world weary 'here we go again' boredom:
We're fed up with Europe, so give us a vote
It naturally smacks of; 'it's conference season so we need to shore up our Tory eurosceptic vote'. But on re-reading the article it appears also to reveal rampant confusion in Tory ranks on what to do with the 'EU question', a question that has been made more urgent by the Euro crisis.

Unlike other Tory eurosceptic claims Mark Pritchard - secretary of the 1922 committee - goes further than many of his Tory colleagues:
Those who suggest the Lisbon Treaty should be ripped up and replaced with a new EU constitution, or that the eurozone's move towards "fiscal union" provides a major opportunity for Britain to re-negotiate her relationship with Europe, are well-meaning; but these measures would only change things at the margins and do little to arrest the EU's democratic illegitimacy.
That passage in essence is an acknowledgement that re-negotiating our 'relationship' is a pointless exercise. Quite right too. However it's pretty strong stuff coming from a Tory - and it goes against the recent claims of the new 'growing group of Tory so-called Eurosceptics led by George EUstice:

Although Monday's meeting is open to all Conservatives, the initiative is being driven by MPs elected for the first time in 2010.

They are regarded as being more eurosceptic than their predecessors and keener to take back powers from Brussels, initially focusing or social and employment legislation, rather than just resisting further economic and political integration.

One of the group's leaders, George Eustice, David Cameron's former press secretary, said it would promote a "sensible discussion about how we can radically overhaul the EU and make it fit for purpose in the 21st Century".

Then, quite amazingly after ruling out "re-negotiating her relationship" Pritchard then contradicts himself quite blatantly (my emphasis):
That is why the Coalition should agree to a referendum on Europe asking whether Britain should be part of a political union or of the trade-only relationship we thought we had signed up to.

The referendum should be held next year, and a successful "No to political union" result would immediately strengthen the Prime Minister's negotiating hand in Brussels to commence serious and meaningful negotiations with our partners on Britain's new relationship. The process of returning political sovereignty to Westminster would then take place over the proceeding two years.
Er? Erm? Make your mind up. Then Pritchard argues that should this not work, as it won't, an in or out referendum must be put forward in 2015:
But, if Brussels refused to repatriate specified powers within a designated 24-month period, then a second referendum – this time an "in or out" vote – would be triggered in 2015 and held on the day of the next general election. This stepping-stone approach would give voters, the British Government and Brussels Eurocrats an action list and a timetable. Having been served notice by the British people, Brussels would need to act. If specified powers were not returned within the defined timetable,
Unwittingly or otherwise, Pritchard is actually advocating an 'in or out' referendum - an exit by timetable. His proposals of re-negotiation will fail, as he acknowledges, so the logical outcome by his reckoning, is a referendum ultimately on our membership - the "nuclear option".

Clearly mixed messages are now emanating from the Tory party as again Pritchard contradicts other so-called eurosceptic Tories;

Mr Eustice, a former UKIP election candidate and anti-euro campaigner, said "now was not the time to be calling for referendums".

A lack of strategy coherence born out of a desire to remain EU members but a desperate pretence otherwise. Increasingly they're looking like schizophrenics who keep forgetting to take their Fluphenazine medication.

And we know Pritchard is not serious, nor are many of his colleagues, about following through with the nuclear option (the only real bargaining chip the UK has in negotiations) and we know this because of one revealing line:
Brussels would have only themselves to blame if Britons voted to leave the EU.
See what he did there? He would blame someone else for our exit. If someone achieves something they genuinely strive for and believe in, they don't blame others, they would want to take the credit.

Update: Just seen this from the Telegraph's Will Heaven:

That's the trouble though, isn't it? The 1922 committee promises brave rebellion to the public, but in Parliament pro-Cameron, pro-Europe "realpolitik" is the order of the day.

Sunday 18 September 2011

A Symbol For Europe?

From the European Commission's Economic and Financial Affairs website regarding the Euro symbol (my emphasis):
Inspiration for the € symbol itself came from the Greek epsilon (Є) – a reference to the cradle of European civilisation – and the first letter of the word Europe, crossed by two parallel lines to ‘certify’ the stability of the euro.

Full Circle

After spotting this story in the Mail, courtesy of The Talking Clock about supposedly growing support at Westminster for leaving the EU, I was going to do a piece on it. That was until Mrs TBF reminded me our hedge needed cutting this morning (a job I hate). That done I spot that EUReferendum does the necessary business - concluding rightly that the Mail story is 'all over the shop'.

However there's a more thought-provoking piece in today's Irish Independent, headlined revolution time, it rails against the impotency of the Dali:

As the country suffers its worst economic crisis our national parliament has never been more impotent. The old Dail is a bad memory while the new one fills me with little hope.

Truth be told, it's been finished for a long time, made redundant by the actions of our politicians. The day Chopra and Rehn came in was the day power was lost. Right now Finance Minister Michael Noonan is working on a Budget to please our IMF-EU masters. Think about it. Every significant economic decision is being taken thousands of miles away from the Dail.

It's a piece that needs to be read in full and has much resonance with our own country. And as Autonomous Mind highlights, the key part is this:

We are in the worst crisis in our history and our parliament is impotent.

Is there any hope for democracy? Yes. While the Dail may be dead a new parliament is emerging. It is to be found in ordinary people, community and support groups who come together to discuss a way forward. A second wave is already there though social networks.

Ironically the original blueprint for the European Union - the deliberate curbing of European democracy - was devised by an English civil servant; Arthur Salter. His ideas were outlined in his pamphlet titled The United States of Europe published in 1931. And nearly 60 years later the invention of another Englishman will be the destruction of it:

Saturday 17 September 2011

In Or Out?

As anyone who's spent time arguing against the EU knows, it can be a lonely old business. Aside from the difficulties of putting across the insidious and devious nature of it, one can expect regularly the 'traditional' insults of; racist, 'little Englander' and xenophobic in response. Though apparently this doesn't apply when France, Ireland, Norway, Sweden or Denmark reject, in referenda, further EU integration.

However with the impending collapse of the Euro, everyone is now becoming a Eurosceptic as Christopher Booker points out in tomorrow's Telegraph:

No one expressed this more vividly last week than Max Hastings, in a two-page “recantation”, headed “Sorry, I was wrong”. Having always been a fervent “pro-European”, he proclaimed, he now saw the EU as “a disaster which is blighting every aspect of British life”. The euro folly, crippling regulations, uncontrolled immigration – he chucked everything in to show how the EU has become a monster threatening catastrophe “unless its terms and powers are drastically recast”. And yet (as I recall from the days when I worked for him, and he could scarcely conceal his contempt for my criticisms of the EU), Sir Max has never grasped the real nature of this mighty project or the vision behind it, which is finally colliding with reality.

Yet, as Booker points out, they all miss the point (or are too thick to understand) - they're arguing for powers to be returned rather than confronting the only realistic viable option on the table; that we need to exit. To ask the EU to be reformed or to be more democratic is a bit like asking a wheel to be less round. It completely undermines its raison d'etre:

No sentence in Hastings’s piece was more poignant than his observation that “in its early decades the Common Market was a benign institution, set up to liberalise trade”. He still cannot grasp that the Common Market was only ever intended as a first step towards the ultimate goal, the embryo of everything the EU has since become, – a vast overblown system of government reaching into almost every area of our lives, and symbolised above all by its hubristic desire for its own single currency.

The question therefore has only ever been simply one of 'in or out'. There is no halfway measure and never will be. And while MPs and those in the MSM carrying on bleating otherwise, life (and the collapse of the EU) will carry on without them.

Past Its Sell-By Date

Sometimes the utter tedium of blogging about the EU is overwhelming it makes one want to stop, especially as the same stuff comes up relentlessly. One can only admire Richard North's stamina to keep going year after year.

One such subject reared its ugly heard earlier this week, which I was alerted to by Going Fast, Getting Nowhere:
There's a whole lot of hoo-hah going on at the moment about the supposedly confusing sell-by, display-by, best before and use-by dates.
Apparently a Minister (Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman) wants to end sell-by dates on food:

"We want to end the food labelling confusion and make it clear once and for all when food is good and safe to eat," she said.

A rehash of a non-story - here's the same story from last year. In reality what we have here is another media storm in a tea cup, a day of headlines and a government that actually hasn't done anything - it cannot force companies to stop using sell-by dates. The clue in the BBC report is here:

Compliance with the new guidance is not required by law, although Defra says businesses are legally bound to label food with either a use-by or best-before date.

But don't expect the BBC to tell you how we are legally bound though, despite their report linking to the relevant document which makes it clear as early as page 4:

These guidance notes should be read in conjunction with the legislation itself (Directive 2000/13/EC)...

and page 5

This guidance does not over ride specific European Union or national provisions that require the use of a particular date mark for specific foodstuffs. For example, the date marking of eggs is controlled by the EU's Egg Marketing Standards Regulation (which require marking with a ‘best before’ date), and pre-packed fresh poultry meat is required to bear a ‘use by’ date under the terms of the EU's Regulations on marketing for poultry.

and page 6

The key piece of EU legislation for date marking of food is Directive 2000/13/EC of the European Parliament and the Council on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to the labelling, presentation and advertising of foodstuffs (“the Directive”). The Directive is implemented in Great Britain by the Food Labelling Regulations 1996
As Chilled Food Association Director Kaarin Goodburn puts it:
"Only the EU can legislate on labelling and this guidance changes nothing."
The problem it's not that people are too stupid to read food labels but that they are too stupid to realise who our real government is.

Friday 16 September 2011

Belgium To Form A Government...

In an absolutely wonderful example of irony, as the EU and the Euro begins collapsing, I see via Your Freedom And Ours that Belgium is to form a Government after having gone 459 days without one:
The Belgian coalition are close to finalising a deal to form a government having gone 459 days without one.

Politicians made the breakthrough today and a look set to form an administration, ending a paralysis which began after a general election in June last year.
There's more ironies in that story than I care to cope with.

Another Euro Crisis, Another Meeting

European finance ministers are meeting in Poland today for a two day meeting along with US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to try to 'solve' the Euro collapse, something that they seem incapable of doing.

The options in reality are stark, which Merkell has not made clear to the German taxpayers, either Germany accepts full fiscal union including fiscal transfers of their money to other countries, and giving up its sovereignty all of which is unpalatable to the Germans, or there has to be an orderly breakup of the Eurozone which is equally unthinkable to other EU leaders.

Once again I'm sure that some fudged so-called solution will be thrashed out, but time is running out fast; that the world banks are coming to the rescue by pumping dollars into the market is a clear indication that something is very wrong. A 'major event' is due. Some real hard decisions have to be made. Ed Balls MP on Wednesday's BBC Newnight (circa 22 mins in) didn't even give the Euro weeks to survive in its current form.

The Euro looks set therefore to crash in chaos, and historically chaotic currency collapses lead to war, a sentiment echoed by economic advisor George Magnus on the same programme.

Maybe it's slightly overblown but the complacency of our media of the possible consequences of the eurozone problems, and collapse, is starting to feel like that sunny care-free Bank Holiday Monday on 3rd August 1914.

Thursday 15 September 2011

And Now The End Is Near...

Hurry up chaps, put the poor thing out of its misery.

Quote Of The Day

We can always rely on Silvio Berlusconi to amuse us whilst we wait for the collapse of the Eurozone:
"Angela Merkel is unfuckable lard-arse"
European harmony carrying on as normal then

Wednesday 14 September 2011

Euro: Even The BBC is Stunned

I've just watched the 6:00 pm news this evening on BBC1 and eventually at 6:20 they've reported on the Euro crisis. But what was significant was the voice the BBC used to give opposition to Barroso's remarks (to 'balance' the coverage); it was not a Tory nor a Labour nor a Lib Dem spokesman but Nigel Farage's speech in the EU Parliament.

I'm genuinely speechless. The game is surely up

Deja Vu

Regular readers of TBF may recognise this Lego picture from today's Telegraph live account of the current Euro crisis (click to enlarge):

I posted that Lego diagram last Sunday. Latest news? Paid journalists vs unpaid bloggers = no contest.

The End?

I've always been reluctant to call time on the Euro, the capacity of the EU elite to do whatever is necessary to save the project should never be underestimated. However there does seem an air of acceptance of its fate and subsequently there's panic and posturing to pass the blame for its inevitable collapse.

China and the US are urging the EU leaders to sort the mess out, seemingly preparing to pass the buck to Europe for any fallout as a result of a Euro crash:
Reflecting the anger of Americans who are blaming Europe for the current economic turmoil, the President called for eurozone leaders to show global markets they are taking responsibility for the crisis.
Merkel is shifting the blame onto Greece for failing to get its house in order and EU Commission Barroso has waded into the mix:
European Commission (EC) President José Manuel Barroso left the door open for eurobonds on Wednesday, as he delivered a stark assessment of the eurozone described as “the most serious challenge of a generation”.
Barroso must know that, despite approving the current bail-out of Greece, the German Constitutional Court has specifically outlawed, in its recent judgement, eurobonds in the future as highlighted here:
While the German constitutional court may have approved bailouts last week, anyone who says this was good news for the eurozone did not read the fine print in that 29-page document.

That's the opinion of Wolfgang Munchau, a longtime FT editor who writes a weekly column on the affairs of the European Union.

In an editorial published yesterday, he points out that the constitutional court virtually ruled out permanent mechanisms like the European Stability Mechanism (the would-be successor to the EFSF) and the economic authority necessary to back up eurobonds because they would impinge upon the sovereignty of the German state. An expansion of the EFSF is only legal because it is temporary.

Panic and preparation for the blame game appears to be in full swing The end is clearly on the cards - it's all over, please get on with it.

Selling Me Stuff

Here at TBF Towers we're in need of new fascia boards and guttering around our house, which means running the gauntlet of salesman, builders and quotes. I tend to follow three common sense rules of thumb; get more than one quote, go on recommendations (in this case from neighbours) and, probably most importantly, try to get a firm / builder who resides locally (houses burn). These principles have held TBF in relatively good stead over the years.

I have a fair idea of price and what I'd like, so the last thing I need or want is the 'classic salesman spiel'. In truth it's relatively easy to sell to the Boiling Frog - be polite, reasonably friendly, straightforward about your product, give a no-nonsense quote and above all be honest (Hard as it is for salesman to adhere to the last quality, it does actually work).

Unfortunately my first quote last night was of the classic spiel variety - he ticked off every trick in the book. Only he was much worse. So here's how not to sell to TBF as demonstrated so vividly last night:
  1. Turn up 15 minutes late - that really isn't a good sign.

  2. Walk into my house without taking your shoes off or even asking. A small detail but it's rude and it's amazing how many people do this. I have clean carpets and I'd like them to stay that way thanks.

  3. Before asking what the requirements are (for example round or square drainpipes?) start by asking about our budget - that's none of your business. Clearly, as we're considering such a project, we have worked out for ourselves already if we have enough money.

  4. Use my non-committal on the previous point to start talking about the 'benefits' of a so-called Lifestyle Account. Oh here we go, he's trying to sell me finance, I bet we're going to go into the 'finance is cheaper than cash' territory. And sure enough he does. This is of course bollocks. Finance, credit or however you dress it up is not cheaper than cash up front - either he's lying or it's a con.

    (At this point I should stress that only reason this chap was still in my house was because he had a large ego and so was more than happy to show off regarding his knowledge on fascia board matters. Now, as I'm not an expert, I used the time to prime him on technical issues which will come in useful during subsequent quotes.)

  5. When quizzed on how finance is cheaper than cash, do not go into a patronising made-up speech about how it is possible because of the credit crunch and bank problems which means they are desperate to lend to you....blah blah blah.

  6. Ignore Mrs TBF after she asks a question by looking at me when you answer. This is a really common one - car salesmen are notoriously bad at this. When Mrs TBF asks about 0-60 time, bhp, top speed questions about a car she's buying, it is her that wants to know not me. Try talking to her then.

  7. Try to get us to watch a 10 minute dvd on your company's happy customers doing cartwheels because your products have transformed their lives. If I want to see a pointless promotional video or Power-point slide show, I'll go to work, thanks.

  8. Make gay or 'pikey' jokes; it isn't very professional.

  9. Push forward lots of bewildering promotional offers that end in the word 'subsidy'. Naturally they are only available if we sign up today. I remind him, as I have already on numerous times, that we won't be making a decision straight away. I have never done that and never will, and if he thinks I'm going to make a decision without chatting extensively to Mrs TBF first then he's an idiot.

  10. Start talking about the EU to me in a condescending manner as you fill out the quote form, because EU rules meant all your company's documentation had to be reprinted. Now, I don't expect him to know that I write a blog on such matters, but surely the rather large conference bag on my floor, with a UKIP logo emblazoned across it, might be a bit of a clue. Apparently not.

  11. When finishing the quote (without the promotional offers) ask how much do we think it is. Another 'trick', I'm not falling for it and my answer is always the same in such circumstances - "too much". After he realises he won't get the answer he wants he shows the quote - £11,684. Now I'm expecting to pay around the £2,500 - £3000 mark based on talking to my neighbours who live in similar houses so it is ...erm...a little excessive. I ask how much the promotional offers would reduce that by and I only get an answer of 'substantially'. Given that I'm prepared to spend a few thousand it's not unreasonable to expect a more specific answer. but no, none is forthcoming. Still, I thank him for the quote knowing what is coming next, and lo and behold...

  12. Then phone your manager who you claim is very busy and that you're lucky to be able to get hold of him. After a few monosyllabic exchanges then claim that just for us you've managed to reduce the quote to just under £4,500 if we sign today. Do salesman still do this stuff? Apparently so. Again I remind him, as I have umpteen times, we won't make a decision instantly.

  13. Be obviously pissed off because you haven't made a sale and make it clear you can't wait to leave our house immediately. Only not as quickly as you would like because you've got to put your shoes back on which I made you take off at the beginning.
Needless to say Zenith Staybrite won't be getting my business.

Tuesday 13 September 2011


And priorities:
“We’re getting close to a full-blown banking crisis in Europe,”
"September is likely to be a defining month for the euro area’s destiny," wrote Julian Callow, chief European economist at Barclays Capital.

Strategists at JP Morgan, for their part, have pointed to ‘a growing sense that the crisis is reaching a climax’, saying that the ‘endgame on EMU [European Monetary Union] is approaching fast.'
But no fear our MP's are on the case:
Another, or possibly the same, unnamed 'senior Tory' source said (£):
“It has been really difficult to get MPs to focus on the big issues when all they want to know about is whether they’ll still have a seat. Some of the usual rebels could suddenly find themselves in trouble when they are looking to the party for a new seat or a place in the Lords.”
And that's it in a nutshell: no real concern about representation of the people or the disregard of natural geographical County boundaries, just a concern for their own skins.

Summit Wrong

I've had a twitter exchange today with Bruno Waterfield, Daily Telegraph Brussels correspondent, who tweeted that there is to be an EU 'summit' on the 17th and 18th October to deal with the Eurozone crisis. It is actually a European Council meeting - Bruno falls for the classic error of assuming that it is the same as international summits. They aren't (And it's not the first time he's made a similar mistake).

His tweet was as follows:

In response to my tweet pulling him up on the error, he said this:

The journalistic laziness is something to behold, in essence - "we call 'em summits 'cos it's all a bit complicated to call them by their proper name and function".

It is not, of course, bureaucratic jargon to call the European Council by its correct name; there is a fundamental difference between it and a summit - and to make light of it, as Bruno has done, is either to woefully misunderstand the project or set out to deliberately deceive.

A summit in essence is a gathering of sovereign heads of states or governments who have a jolly for a couple of days trying to thrash out a deal over some issue or other. However their first duty and responsibility is doing the best in their own national interests.

Conversely the European Council is different. It is an institution of the EU. Originally founded in 1974, it was formally recognised in the Nice Treaty (Article 4) and became a fully-fledged EU institution under the Lisbon Treaty. It is, therefore, not a summit but an official part of the EU - essentially the cabinet of the EU government. Unlike a summit, as soon as Cameron attends the European Council he no longer is head of the UK's government but becomes merely a 'representative of the UK region'. He has to put, legally, the interests of the Union first even above those of his own country.

This point is illustrated by Article 9 of the Lisbon Treaty (page 18) which formalises the European Council as an official institution and under this article the following paragraph makes the priorities of the members of the Council clear:
1. The Commission shall promote the general interest of the Union and take appropriate initiatives to that end. It shall ensure the application of the Treaties, and of measures adopted by the institutions pursuant to them. It shall oversee the application of Union law under the control of the Court of Justice of the European Union. It shall execute the budget and manage programmes. It shall exercise coordinating, executive and management functions, as laid down in the Treaties. With the exception of the common foreign and security policy, and other cases provided for in the Treaties, it shall ensure the Union's external representation. It shall initiate the Union's annual and multiannual programming with a view to achieving interinstitutional agreements.
In short, the heads of states and governments of EU members, who attend the European Council, cease to represent their own member state interests. They instead become part of a tier of the EU government, thus bound by its laws and obliged to further the aims and objectives of the EU.

Bruno of the Telegraph epitomises all that's wrong with the MSM and gives a wonderful example of the deep reluctance of our '4th estate' of acknowledging the true nature of how this country is now run.

Monday 12 September 2011

Another Day, Another Euro Crisis

Everywhere you look this morning there's bad economic news, a combination of Vicker's report this morning but more predictably the growing Eurozone problems.

Germany appears to be laying the ground for a Greek default and exit. German finance minister Philipp Rösler said Greek bankruptcy was "no longer a taboo" a view shared by Merkel. Christian Lindner, general secretary of Chancellor Angela Merkel's junior FDP coalition partner, said Greece's departure from the eurozone "could not be ruled out". Views that would have been unthinkable a couple months ago are now being openingly expressed. Germany's patience therefore appears to have run out.

The Greek bailout is also in chaos with the EU refusing further funds unless there's firm action on the deficit, including disturbingly:
Germany’s EU commissioner Günther Oettinger said Europe should send blue helmets to take control of Greek tax collection and liquidate state assets.
The Greek chaos, and the apparent acceptance of German of a Greek default, has wrecked havoc on French Banks who are highly exposed to Greek debt. Shares in the big three - Société Générale, Credit Agricole and BNP Paribas - all suffered double-digit losses. There are also rumours that Moody's is going to downgrade French banks due to their Greek exposure

Italian, French Spanish and German bonds are at all new records while the money is going to safe havens like gold which is at new record high in Euros.

Global stock markets are down. Oh, and the Euro has plummeted.


A little gem from the Iceland and the European Union blog, particularly the last two sentences:
A delegation of MEPs from the European Parliament visited Iceland on September 7-9 meeting with government ministers, leading people from labour unions and employers and from organisations for and against membership of the European Union. After meeting with the MEPs the leader of the Icelandic no movement, Ásmundur Einar Daðason who also is a member of the Icelandic Parliament, wrote on his Facebook page yesterday:

"Just came from a meeting with members of the European Parliament who are staying in the country. They wanted to meet leading people from the no and yes movements. They seemed very surprised at the great opposition to an Icelandic EU membership. This meeting confirmed what many people have argued that the leaders of the government are not giving the correct picture of the situation of this matter in Iceland."
Sounds familiar.

Sunday 11 September 2011

Euro Crisis Explained Using Lego

Whilst another tumultuous week awaits the Eurozone, I thought I would pass the time by reproducing this ever so helpful guide on the Euro crisis using Lego (click to enlarge):

  1. The toreador in a floppy hat, and the F1 driver with his helmet, represent Spain, Italy and the rest of the Euro Periphery.

  2. The three men with helmets, shields, and medieval weaponry represent the CDU, CSU and FDP parties in Germany.

  3. The blue-and-white sailor boy is Finland. Obvs.

  4. The woman with an oversized carrot and her friend in overalls with a shovel represent the Social Democrats and Greens.

  5. Wotan represents the Bundesbank.

  6. The piggy bank is the IMF.

  7. The grey-haired Banque chap is the ECB.

  8. The chap in the red bib is Poland.

  9. The artists are France.

  10. The angry chef, the sweeper with a broom, the airline pilot, and the rest of the motley crew at bottom left, represent EU taxpayers in Core countries.

  11. The storm troopers are the EU Commission and Euro Group Finance Ministers, chaired by Jose Manuel Barroso and Jean- Claude Juncker.

  12. The monocled banker and his assistant are EU bondholders and shareholders.

Saturday 10 September 2011

Irony And Thick Socialists

The Boiling Frog has returned from UKIP's conference and hopes to do a write up (of sorts) as soon as. In the meantime this has tickled me - apparently socialist idiots Chumbawamba have objected to the use of their most well known song played to introduce Nigel Farage on stage yesterday:
Former singer Alice Nutter, quickly took to the offensive. "If ever there was gross misuse of a band's music this is it," she said...I would like it to go on record that we do not support either Nigel Farrage or Ukip. In fact we would go further and say...his party is mainly made up of bigots and its policies are racist."
Alice Nutter (aptly named) considers me a bigot despite having never met me. Amazing the irony - accusing others of bigotry based on your own prejudices and assumptions. Talking of irony it's worth pointing out that they are also self-confessed anarchists who then want to take legal action:
"It's beyond the pale and if they use it again we will consider legal action."
Anyway as UKIP's usage of the song annoys them so much I'll post it here, as a member of UKIP

Edit: Just spotted that Bloggers4UKIP has made a similar point yesterday.

Thursday 8 September 2011


Apologies, but the simmering saucepan containing the Boiling Frog will be quiet for a couple of days as I attend a jolly in a certain seaside resort.

Back To School For Merkel

Courtesy of the Purple Scorpian I spot this 'breathtakingly stupid' remark from Merkel:
"History has shown that countries with a common currency never wage war against one another, and that is why the euro is far more than just a currency. If the euro fails, Europe fails. It must not fail, and will not fail,"
Purple Scorpion does the business of frisking this here. Merkel's comments can also be dismissed with one simple word: Yugoslavia.

Wednesday 7 September 2011

No Surprise

As expected the German Constitutional Court has thrown out the challenges to eurozone financial rescue packages, but Merkel's and the Eurozone's problems are far from over.

Tuesday 6 September 2011

On The Rack

Says it all really: the lying PM, the lying Media, the corrupt MP, the incompetent Policeman

No Changes For A Decade?

October 2007:
After signing Britain up to the controversial [Lisbon Treaty, Gordon Brown] said he had persuaded EU leaders there should be no more "institutional change" for at least another decade.
September 2011 (my emphasis):

On Tuesday, German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble called for the second time in a week for changes to the treaties.

“Strengthening the eurozone's architecture ... may need profound treaty changes,” he wrote in an opinion piece for the Financial Times.

According to populist daily Bild, the finance minister made the argument for a major shift in fiscal policy-making powers to Brussels, a move that would almost certainly necessitate a fresh opening of the treaties holding the bloc together.

This must be done, he said, “even though we know how difficult a treaty change will be.”

Low Fat Spread

I want to tell a (slightly fictional) story...

Once upon a time I went a bit mad and decided to improve my health. I wanted to change from 'unhealthy' butter to something which I thought was a little more appropriate. My eye was caught by bright, colourful packaging that announced 'Gold Low Fat' spread. The 'low' part was emphasised so clearly that this seemed a good healthy option. After buying however, being slightly cynical, I studied the small print - the nutritional information - and to my horror discovered that it contained 38% fat (within the EU limit of 41% - in order to advertise it as low fat) and that a lot of that fat content was of the very unhealthy kind: hydrogenated vegetable fat.

Well over a third of fat in a product didn't seem to constitute 'healthy' so feeling deceived I traipsed back to the shop for an explanation. 'It is low fat', the shopkeeper insisted, 'it says so on the packet'. Anyway, as a gesture of goodwill, he replaced it with a new and improved version. Immediately I noticed two changes; the 'low fat' logo on the front of the product had been significantly increased (thus more prominent) and, reading the nutritional information, so had the fat content - this time to 39%. Apart from that the contents had remained the same.

Again I return to the shopkeeper with my concerns - there appeared to be a deliberate and renewed attempt to deceive customers on the nature of the product he was selling. He, by this time, was getting a little cross. But he came up with a newer apparently better alternative - a 'low fat lightweight' spread. Again the packaging had been changed, now it was covered in lots of cute pictures of trees and countryside scenes and the words 'low fat' now adorned most of the box. Inspecting the contents, however, revealed that the fat content had now increased to 40%. I decided to boycott this shop, buy my product elsewhere and in the meantime inform everyone I knew of the misleading nature of the original shop.

Within days I receive an angry letter from said shop accusing me of losing him customers and business and that really he did sell 'low fat' products if only people stopped reading the nutritional labels.

Anyway going off on a tangent Autonomous Mind has a great post on Tory euroscepticism and Roger Helmer MEP's 'strategy' on exiting the EU - basically vote Tory because they are low fat, no really.

Monday 5 September 2011

Watered Down?

Apparently according to the Telegraph:
David Cameron may overrule Vince Cable by diluting controversial new EU employment laws to be introduced next month, The Daily Telegraph can disclose.
Ohhhh goody Cameron is standing up to Europe! Only, no-one really believes that and reading further down the article confirms our cynicism:
The Prime Minister’s office secretly commissioned its own legal advice on the Agency Workers Directive, which concluded that the impact of the new laws could be moderated.
Moderated eh? How?
A well-placed source said: “The advice showed that there are elements of gold-plating of the EU directive that could easily be stripped out. For example, people who set up their own firms and then contract their services to other companies need not be covered. These changes could be done relatively easily through regulations.
Ah right so the UK has added to this Directive, which means Cameron can remove the additions pretend that he's fighting the EU but the original EU law goes ahead as planned anyway? And we are supposed to be grateful?

The hopelessness of stopping the original Directive is subsequently revealed:
Another Downing Street source said that the advice had not provided the “golden bullet” that Mr Cameron had hoped for. “These are very difficult issues, both politically and legally,” the source added.
But no matter:
A Downing Street spokesman said: “We are now looking at every part of employment law as part of the red tape challenge. We want to do everything we can to help employers and drive growth.”
Which in other words means; 'we'll pass the EU Directive as it is, pretend we've stood up to the EU because conference season is just round the corner and we want to look tough on the issue of Europe for the benefit of our stupid members.'

I'm bored.

The Former Mr Large... Angus Deayton once called Nigel Lawson on Have I Got News For You, has apparently called for a tear up of the Lisbon Treaty in today's Times. As the Guardian points out this is the same man who semi officially shadowed the Deutsche Mark because he supported membership of the ERM and whose eventual membership led directly to the recession in the early '90s:
In his assault on the euro, Lawson failed to mention his support for the warm up for the single currency – the European exchange rate mechanism. The former chancellor resigned from the cabinet in 1989 after Margaret Thatcher refused to distance herself from her late economic adviser, Sir Alan Walters, after he described the ERM as "half baked". As I blogged last month, Lawson explained to William Keegan in 2007 why he supported the ERM but not the single currency.
I've only ever (so far) seen my Mum cry twice; once when her mum (my Gran) died and once in 1992 when my Dad was telephoning her constantly to give updates on the interest rates during black / white Wednesday which ultimately led to the UK's exit from the ERM. At those levels of interest rates in the afternoon we were certain to be homeless. I have never forgotten it and will never forgive.

In light of Lawson's comments today Nigel Farage has invited him to join UKIP:

UKIP Leader Nigel Farage is writing to Lord Lawson, Baroness Thatcher's former Chancellor, with an invite to join UKIP after Lawson has called for a fundamental change in the European Treaties and the UK's relationship with the European Union.

So I want to be clear, I don't want the wanker Lawson anywhere near UKIP; if he does join (probably unlikely) then I'm off, membership lapsing - the lot.

Apparently Punching Women In The Face Is Funny

In truth I've never taken much interest in the goings on of either the English Defence League or the United Against Fascists. The Anger of a Quiet Man, though, does a fine job in highlighting the unfair treatment dished out by the media and by the Police against the EDL - a position I sympathise with as a member of another stigmatised group.

And so it's via TAOAQM's blog that I spot this video of so-called anti-fascists celebrating and laughing about a woman being kicked and punched.

Whatever one's political views, those in the video are a disgrace. But I'll bet it'll be ignored by those self-righteous on the left. Scum.

Seatbelt Time

  • In 1931 the pound departed from the Gold Standard in September

  • The UK exited from the ERM in 1992 in September

  • The collapse of Lehmans in 2008 was in September.

  • The run on Northern Rock was in September

  • The 1929 stock market crash occurred in October

  • The crash in 1987 happened in October.
Just saying...

Friday 2 September 2011

Disrupting The Proms

Apparently last night Palestine protesters disrupted the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra's BBC Proms concert at London's Royal Albert Hall. Interestingly during their protest:
"About a dozen protesters in the choir seats stood up with a banner saying Free Palestine and started chanting and singing to the tune of Beethoven's Ode to Joy"
Now I wonder why they chose Ode to Joy?

Thursday 1 September 2011

German Constitutional Court to Be Taken to the European Court of Human Rights

Great spot by Ironies Too:
The case presented by Professor Markus Kerber over the unconstitutionality of the bailouts and other latters now underway in the EU has been bogged down for what seems an age, as reported from time to time on this blog.

Professor Kerber is now ready to take the complaints the the European Court of Humman Rights, presumably over the head of Germany's highest court Read it here.
As noted on this blog a few times the German Constitutional Court is very reluctant to challenge the supremacy of the EU. So with the bailouts being specifically outlawed under Article 125 of the Lisbon Treaty, it has been dragging its feet on the recent complaints of the legality of the Greek bailouts, to avoid making a decision on what looks a clear-cut case. As a consequence of its delaying tactics (aka ostrich in the sand) it is now likely it will be referred to the European Court of Human Rights because such a 'delay' is "an infringement of the constitutional rights to a hearing and statutory judge" (oh the irony):

The plaintiff group Europolis announces that the Constitutional Court of Germany will have to face a judicial review of its proceeding in the case of the financial aid for Greece and the European Financial Stabilisation Mechanism before the European court for human rights. This action seems unavoidable to Europolis after the Constitutional Court of Germany had not admitted the constitutional complaint of June 29th 2011. Europolis regards this negligence as an infringement of the constitutional rights to a hearing and statutory judge.

According to Europolis, the oral proceeding on July 5th 2011 was not in line with the common legal requirements. The Court had clarified that the crucial questions of the economic suitability of the European financial rescue plan would not be under consideration. Also, the alleged voidness [sic] of the loan facility agreements because of infringement of European law as well as the problematic purchase of government bonds by the European Central Bank system had been ignored by the Constitutional Court.

“The refusal to allow the complainants to realise constitutional claims infringes the right of due process and a fair trial guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights. That requires a legal clarification by the European Court of Human Rights” declares Kerber.

Once again the institutions of European governments have been shown that they cannot make the final leap to full fiscal and political union but nor can they own up to the obvious - that the project is not working. Instead we are left with lots of fudge - that simply cannot continue.