Friday 28 February 2014

Farage Standing Down?

From the International Business Times:
Nigel Farage dramatically raised the stakes in Ukip's quest for political power by vowing to resign as leader if his party fails to get any seats in the 2015 general election.
Farage made the pledge on the day he told the anti-EU party's spring conference: "This is our moment.
After speaking in Torquay of "ruthless targeting" to win seats at the general election, Farage put his own future on the line.
"I said in my speech we could get several MPs, or a good number of MPs, in Westminster in 2015 provided, and I made it absolutely clear, that would not happen unless we clear this hurdle effectively on May 22 [the local and European elections this year].
"I stand by that. This is the election Ukip has waited 20 years for."
When asked if he would stand down in the event of the party not returning any MPs to the House, he said: "I would have thought so, good lord yes. I would be out the door before you could say Jack Robinson."


The Telegraph reports:
Motorists were left shocked at the sight of a rotting giant whale being driven along a busy dual carriageway.
The huge corpse was covered by a tarpaulin and strapped onto the rear of a flat-bed truck with part of it overhanging the back.
But the sight and smell of it travelling along the A2 towards Canterbury on a weekday afternoon left some drivers choking at the wheel.
 Interestingly it is revealed:
Mark Stephens, 41, took these photographs of the whale as he drove home from work.
Yep...a motorist was so shocked by a "rotting whale" he took photos while still driving - which looking by the angle and perspective of the photo confirms his assertions.

Thus essentially he is admitting - publically - he drove without due care and attention

Thursday 27 February 2014

Bob Hope And No Hope...

Those of a tennis persuasion will recognise the above illustration of a tennis court but will also notice instantly an unusual difference – one court is significantly bigger than the other.

Sometimes, though rarely, tennis matches have been played on courts like this, especially during the so-called “battle of the sexes” – notably a match between Martina Navratilova and  Jimmy Connors in 1992. Women's champion Navratilova was allowed to hit into the doubles court while men's champion Conners was not (albeit the doubles alley was slightly smaller than a normal doubles court).

Such changes to the rules to benefit one competitor over another clearly make any competitive match a mockery of the sport and thus cannot be taken seriously.

And this leads me neatly onto the Tories and the EU...

As Merkel visits London to meet Cameron, we have to endure more fatuous bollocks:
British Prime Minister David Cameron meets Angela Merkel, leader of the European Union's most powerful state, in London on Thursday looking to gauge his chances of marshalling broader EU backing for his plans for reform of the bloc.
As Richard North notes: "What will escape most commentators is the rather obvious fact that the EU currently boasts 28 members and that, in order to initiate the treaty revision procedure under Article 48 of the TEU – necessary for any meaningful reform – a simple majority is needed, i.e., 15 member states...and even then "any changes proposed could be vetoed by any one member state, either at the signature or (in effect) the ratification stage".

It does get really tedious keep hearing the Tories trying to treat our EU membership as an "A La Carte" menu. One would assume the name “Single Market” might give the game away – a single market can only operate with a single set of rules. But…no…apparently not.

The Tories seem to think that other EU member states will allow us flexibility which as a consquence will give the UK a competitive advantage - that, in short, the view other EU member states will show eagerness to agree to let the UK to use a smaller tennis court this side of the net. The moment the EU concedes to different countries playing by different rules is the moment it collapses. Such demands for reform really is beyond naivety.

With EU reform the Tories have got two hopes...we're run by children - it's about time they grew up.

Saturday 22 February 2014


For longer than I should have, I've neglected updating some aspects of my blog on the right. In view of that, on my blogroll, I have now added some more blog links and removed a few more other defunct ones. If I have missed anyone out then let me know and I'll endeavour to add it.

I have also substantially added to the EU quotes section. Interestingly, and rather ironically, most of the quotes I cite come from those who support the EU project. Many europhiles bitterly complain about the UK press ignoring or distorting aspects of the EU, for example:
Miss Reding attacked what she described as Britain’s “yellow press” for peddling “misinformation” about immigration.
She said: “Often the problems between Britain and the EU more in theory than practice. There is ideological noise and misinformation from the yellow press.
I completely agree about the misinformation point. However the trouble with the likes of Reding et al, is they think "misinformation" clouds judgement of their "brilliant" project; a project that is so wonderful that if only the UK papers told the truth we would all learn to love it. They fail to understand that the pro-EU UK newspapers don't print the truth precisely because they know themselves if they did we would be out quicker than you could say "Brexit".

That Eurosceptics keep quoting statements made by those in favour of the EU project should inform them of what a cataclysmic misjudgement that is. When critics embrace your comments as demonstrating exactly what Eurosceptics find unbearable about the whole damn project, then you know that you have kicked the ball firmly into your own net. 

Tuesday 18 February 2014

At Last, One's Got Through

For those who watch the BBC's Have I Got News For You programme will be familiar with the "Missing Words Round", where newspaper headlines are displayed with certain words blanked out. Contestants have to guess the missing word.

So in that spirit let’s have a game of TBF’s “Missing Words Round”. From the paragraphs that follow try to guess the missing words in the BBC website headline above…and no cheating.

The BBC reports that:
“a grassroots initiative” [sic] to protect the quality of Europe's drinking water and stop it being privatised has got on to the agenda of EU lawmakers in Brussels”. It is the first European Citizens' Initiative (ECI) to reach that stage, the European Commission says.
Ah our old friend the European Citizens' Initiative which was an 'innovation' of the Lisbon Treaty, and is laughably aimed at increasing democracy in the EU. So in the spirit of democracy I’ll produce a quick guide here on how to follow the procedure to “encourage” the EU Commission to legislate on matters that concerns EU citizens (my emphasis throughout):
  • First you need find out if the initiative or idea is an EU Commission competence and that the proposed initiative is not manifestly contrary to the EU values as set out in Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union. If not it immediately fails.

  • Then a citizens' initiative has to be proposed by a citizens' committee composed of at least 7 EU citizens old enough to vote in European Parliament elections and living in at least 7 different member states. The committee must designate from among its members a representative and a substitute to speak and act on their behalf. These will be the contact persons who will liaise between the committee and the Commission throughout the procedure.

  • Then before organisers can start collecting statements of support from citizens, they have to request the registration of their proposed initiative on this website. This includes providing personal details of the 7 required committee members (full names, postal addresses, nationalities and dates of birth), indicating specifically the representative and his/her substitute as well as their e-mail addresses and telephone numbers. And documents that prove the full names, postal addresses, nationalities and dates of birth of each of the 7 members of the citizens’ committee.
I hope you’re keeping up at the back…(and I have simplified this procedure somewhat).
  • At the time of registration and throughout the procedure, organisers must provide up-to-date information on all sources of support and funding worth more than €500 per year and per sponsor.

  • Organisers who wish to collect statements of support online must build an online collection system, accessible through their website, to ensure that data complies with EU data protection legislation.
Phew! Now we got that far, we can get going and collect some signatures:
  • As soon as the registration of the proposed initiative has been confirmed, organisers can start collecting statements of support from citizens. They have 12 months to collect the required number of statements of support (1 million overall including a minimum number in at least 7 member states – see Minimum number of signatories per member state).

  • Don't forget in order to collect statements of support, organisers have to use specific forms which comply with the models for the statement of support form set out in Annex III of the Regulation on the citizens' initiative, and which include all required information regarding the proposed initiative.
One the signature process is over, we then need a certification to prove the number of valid statements:
  • Once organisers have collected the necessary statements of support, they must ask the competent national authorities in each member state where they have collected statements of support to certify the number of valid statements of support collected for that country. 
This must happen within 3 months. If we complete these hurdles (and there a number of others as well) we can submit the initiative. In a further 3 months following the submission of the initiative:
  • Commission representatives will meet the organisers so they can explain in detail the issues raised in their initiative.

  • the organisers will have the opportunity to present their initiative at a public hearing in the European Parliament.

  • the Commission will adopt a formal response spelling out what action it will propose in response to the citizens' initiative, if any, and the reasons for doing or not doing so.
The Commission is not obliged to propose legislation as a result of an initiative, and the first ever petition to fulfil all the previous criteria didn't count. No wonder that when looking the website we can see clearly that in a population of 500 million, there aren't many petitions. The only ones that exist are as follows:
  • 7 open
  • 7 closed (failed)
  • 6 withdrawn
  • 5 failed due to lack of support
  • and just 1 that has successfully been submitted to the Commission
After all that, did anyone guess the missing words? To delay not a moment longer, the answer is:

And just in case there is any doubt where the BBC's sentiments lie, further down the article states this:
European Citizens' Initiative: Direct democracy tool launched in April 2012
How the BBC has come to this conclusion is a wonderment to behold. Particularly as Switzerland, via (proper) Direct Democracy, recently backed a proposal to bring back strict quotas for immigration from EU countries. And now they are paying the price of the EU’s disappointment.

Sunday 16 February 2014

That New Treaty

As Witterings From Witney observes we were privileged this morning to have "a member of our real government give up his time to share his thoughts" as Barroso appeared on Andrew Marr (interview starts 44:13). As expected Marr gave him a rather easy ride, though he acknowledged that reform of the EU involved Treaty change.

But to Barroso’s credit, in stark contrast to our own politicians, he did not hide the real intent of the EU (the full transcript of his interview can be found here). Barroso made clear that Cameron’s wish to renegotiate the freedom of movement, was not possible as it infringes on the four fundamental freedoms (my emphasis throughout):
We have to make a clear distinction. One thing is freedom of movement, I don’t think it is possible to renegotiate. It’s a fundamental principle of the internal market. We have an internal market based on the freedom of movement- of goods, of services, of capital and of people -so the British people, British companies have unrestricted access to the internal market.
So I don’t ...
So that’s not up for grabs, okay.

I don’t think it’s possible…
Barroso then notes that reforming EU treaties is “very difficult”:
That’s what I think David Cameron is expecting. Now I have to be very honest. The reforms of the treaties are extremely difficult in the European Union because they require unanimity. So any point that Britain wants to make for a reform of the treaty requires the other twenty - seven countries …they are sovereign countries as well, to accept
Crucially though, while the rest of the UK media is remaining silent, Barroso offered up more substantial confirmation that a new Treaty is on its way:
I think sooner or later [deeper fiscal union] will be unavoidable to have reforms for deeper integration for the Euro area. And by the way it’s not only the pro-Europeans. The markets are demanding that, and in fact we have been moving in that direction in respect of the current treaty.
I cannot say a single European government ... but increased governance. Yes certainly because at the end - and we have learned this through the financial crisis - at the end the solidity, the credibility of a currency depends on the solidity of the institutional or political construction behind it.
Are you speaking for Europe or not in effect. But that kind of change would require a presumably a new treaty?
It just seems to me that what David Cameron is saying he wants, which is a much looser European Union, is not what’s going to happen, and he’s going to be confronted with this deeper Europe.
What I think it’s important to have in mind is the following. I don’t see a fundamental contradiction between deepening the Euro area - that is certainly desirable - and having some flexibility for the European Union provided the general framework is kept as it is. For instance, we have already now countries that are the Euro, countries who are not in Euro. We have the Schengen where Britain is not a member and we have, for instance, some opt - outs for justice and home affairs. So it is possible, if there is wisdom on all sides and if it’s a constructive discussion, to come to some arrangement. 
Barroso lays it out clearly that a two tier EU is now on the cards - with no "fundamental contradiction". The EU is going for deeper integration leaving non-Euro members behind. In other words the "flexibility" will be the associate membership option of the new Treaty.

Saturday 15 February 2014

Political Crapbook

As I've noted before Political Crapbook is a most deceptive blogger. You really need to keep an eye on him by taking regular screenprints - so often does he very silently change his posts and headlines after being corrected on the comments. And he is at deception again - accusing UKIP and the Tories of refusing to back flood prevention in the EU Parliament:
While David Cameron and Nigel Farage were falling over themselves (almost literally) for a good photo op in the south west this week, perhaps they should have told the good people of the Somerset Levels that both their parties refused to back flood prevention in a European Parliament vote. Farage didn’t even bother turning up.

Tory and UKIP groups abstained on a 2012 motion on the implementation of EU water legislation designed to tackle the “rise in the frequency and intensity of floods” with “adaptation and mitigation policies”. The vote emphasised “the importance of risk prevention, mitigation and response strategies to prevent water-related extreme phenomena”.
This is a classic deceptive trick used by europhiles to beat around the head those who oppose EU membership. The EU Parliament does not work like the UK Parliament so how parties vote must be treated with a great degree of caution. But those who support EU membership never make that clear.

The EU often "bundles" favourable and non-favourable votes together - particularly when it comes to the budget and it wants to pass contentious measures. Such tactics become a trap.

The 2012 motion is a classic example. To vote in favour of flood prevention in this motion is to agree with giving more powers to the EU (for example page 6):
5. Reiterates its position that the Commission must submit draft legislation, similar to the directive on floods, which encourages the adoption of an EU policy on water shortages, droughts and adapting to climate change;
So the dilemma for the likes of UKIP is either to vote for more flood prevention and therefore as consequence more EU integration, or vote against further EU integration and therefore against flood prevention. A clear no-win situation for a "Eurosceptic party".

Then we note what is being refered to is merely just a motion - an "own initiative report"  (click to enlarge):

A motion or report, as regular readers will know, means diddly squat. Reports that go before MEPs for possible adoption lies well outside the EU legislative procedure - EU laws are instigated by the Commission not by the EU Parliament. Thus it is not part of the EU lawmaking process. It is a non-legislative report and is non-binding. It is equivalent to an Early Day Motion (commonly known as Parliamentary graffiti) in a Westminster Hall debate. In short a complete waste of time.

Such nuances seem to by-pass Political Crapbook. I guess none of this should really be important except that he has been up for awards, and is clearly taken seriously as demonstrated by the fact that the Tory party has been in touch with him to partially correct matters and that Roger Helmer MEP has commented on his blog.

I wonder what blogging awards Political Crapbook was up for? Not telling the truth?

A Man Without A Plan

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Whether Scotland later this year agrees to go it alone or to remain part of the UK is of course a matter for them. What is interesting though about the campaign is how it it reveals with great clarity the problems with winning a referendum on removing a country from a union - changing the status quo. There are lessons in abundance that can be learned from the Scottish experience when considering the removal of the UK from another (albeit different type of) union - that of the EU.

The arguments of whether the Scottish people should run their own affairs democratically has been deliberately reduced down to mainly economic arguments by the Unionists; the Westminster village has closed ranks by taking advantage of the SNP's lack of preparation with regard to currency and undermining the independence case by opposing a currency union.
The three main Westminster parties are to declare that whoever forms the next UK government will not enter a currency union with an independent Scotland.
And FUD regarding Scottish exit has been in full flow:
Finance experts, academics and business leaders have raised fears that independence would destroy the economy, hit investment and force companies to migrate to England.
Words like "disaster" and "destroy" sound very familiar and is a foretaste of what we can expect come an EU referendum. Removing a country from a union needs an effective exit plan - in short a man with a plan - to negate the inherent fear factor. But as I've noted here and here, such a coherent strategy has been sorely lacking with the SNP and it is very likely to cost Salmond, and those supporting Scottish independence, the referendum.
As recent polling shows the independence vote is trailing significantly:
  • Support for independence is 29%
  • Support for remaining in the Union is 42%
  • Don't knows 29%
Support for remaining part of the UK leads by a big margin, add into that the "status quo effect" inherent in any referendum and the fear factor on the "don't knows" and the campaign for Scottish independence looks doomed. Paddy Power's current odds are 2/11 against independence and 10/3 for. It would take a brave man to bet on Scottish independence.

With the referendum getting ever closer we can expect a ramping up of the same scare-mongering tactics. One such example is the Spectator this week where Alistair Daring exposes the weak links in Salmond's case:
Alex Salmond is now a man without a plan. He is offering Scots a future of uncertainty and instability. Threats of a debt default leaving Scotland and Scots with a bad credit rating. No idea which currency we would be transitioning to.

By contrast if Scots want to know the benefit of remaining in the UK, they need only reach into their pockets and pull out a pound coin. We have one of the most trusted, secure currencies in the world. We have the financial back up of being part of one of the biggest economies in the world. The pound means more jobs, smaller mortgage repayments, cheaper credit card bills and lower prices in the supermarket. Why would we gamble that for an unknown currency?
And so on...
Of course this isn’t the first part of their White Paper that has fallen apart. A few days ago Scotland’s accountants were damning in their assessment that there was no plan for paying pensions. The SNP’s own expert group admitted there was no plan for paying benefits. This is too big a decision to make without having a real plan.
Salmond has been criticised for the lack of preparation as 62% of Scots in a poll last year think the SNP's case is "not very convincing":
According to the survey for the pro-union Better Together group, 62 per cent of people said the SNP case was either “not very convincing” or “not convincing at all”. Twenty-four per cent of the doubters voted SNP in the last Holyrood election.
Thus as the SNP demonstrate having a referendum and being ill-prepared, leaves any independence campaign woefully exposed.

Be careful what you wish for...

Wednesday 12 February 2014

Brexit: And In It Goes

Nearly four months after being shortlisted for the Brexit prize by the IEA - covering the actual process of withdrawing from the EU and the post-exit position of the UK globally - Richard North's submission has now gone in today in anticipation of tonight's midnight deadline.

With 17 papers shortlisted in the prize they will hopefully provide a quality and genuine debate on the best way to exit the anti-democratic monstrosity that we are members of - a debate that has been severely lacking in other, sometimes surprising, quarters.

With the submissions still anonymous and now under judges' consideration I'm reluctant to give away too many details publically (having read it) which may give an indication who wrote it and thus maybe affect the outcome.

Just to be shortlisted was an achievement in itself but given the massive prodigious, mostly unseen, efforts by Richard over the last months the submission should walk away with the prize on merit alone. It could have very easily been over 100,000 words - given the complexity of EU exit - way above the 20,000 word limit.

Despite the merits of Richard’s paper, the outcome of the prize is too difficult to call. Especially given that exit from the EU is primarily a political problem, and process, not an economic one – a point that encouragingly some of the judges appreciate. Yet to produce a paper that argues that the economic consequences must be neutral potentially goes against the economic bias of IEA as a whole, especially given the economic arguments of NExit endorsed by judge Roger Bootle.

The paradox is the IEA remit was on the basis that the referendum had already been won, but the “Norway option” is there largely to help win the referendum in the first place by negating the fear of exit on economic grounds.

Yet the Norway (EEA) and the Swiss current arrangements are essentially a fudge. The EEA has among other problems a veto - a 'temporary' solution that tried to reassure the Norwegians on the merits of entering the Single Market while really trying to "bounce" them into full membership of the EU.

The Swiss agreements have similar intent but with the recent referendum on immigration, the Swiss model of bilateral agreements is set to unravel - especially given the guillotine clause which exists between the EU and Switzerland. Both Switzerland and the EU consider the arrangement very unsatisfactory.

What then is clear is if the UK exit and adopt the Norway model, it can be only temporary. Yet the UK's exit will be of such magnitude, with the addition of regaining our position at the "top table" of international organisations (without the EU to represent us), the UK can as a result play an important role in re-ordering the European post-war settlement. Britain would have the ability to take an active role in shaping the European landscape. We need not resort ourselves to a passive role.

Thus the submission offers a very positive outlook for the UK's role in the world. One hopes it wins.

Monday 10 February 2014

Are UKIP The New Judas Goats?

I have been in two minds whether to publish this post or not. While it may not always be apparent on this blog, I tend to pull my punches when it comes to criticism of UKIP.  And I do so out of deference to the many hard working UKIP volunteers on the ground (of which I have also been one of them). They are the unsung heroes of the cause- the backbone of the party.

On the other hand there is also the consideration that some issues within UKIP need to be addressed – the issues that fundamentally, and possibly fatally, undermine the very same hard work by volunteers. It saddens me and frustrates me greatly.

I rejoined UKIP just over a year ago – albeit reluctantly - trying to help out with the impending local elections in May 2013. My membership now over a year old expired last month and I have taken the reluctant decision to let it lapse without renewing it.

The final straw for me I guess was Farage’s recent description of the 2010 manifesto as “drivel”:
"Malcolm Pearson, who was leader at the time, was picked up in interviews for not knowing the manifesto.

"Of course he didn't - it was 486 pages of excessive detail. Eighteen months ago I said I want the whole lot taken down, we reject the whole thing...
"I didn't read it. It was drivel. It was 486 pages of drivel...It was a nonsense. We have put that behind us and moved onto a professional footing."
This would be the same "drivel" manifesto that Farage and Lord Pearson signed and approved of:
Mr Farage signed the foreword to the 2010 manifesto as the "chief party spokesman," along with Lord Pearson and Mr Campbell Bannerman.
The clue here though is David Campbell Bannerman, the man who drew up the 2010 document, and then later defected back to the Tories.

As a consequence under intense questioning from BBC's Andrew Neil, Farage decided to make a personal dig at Campbell Bannerman by dismissing the manifesto in derogatory terms. For the sake of the party he could have instead played a straight bat and simply argued that UKIP had moved on from 2010. But the personal dig was evidently more important – further evidence that UKIP is Nigel Farage’s plaything.

Nothing demonstrates Farage's priorities more clearly than when he is prepared to effective dismiss for personal gain, not only the work of those who spent their time drawing up the manifesto, but the hundreds of UKIP volunteers (in the main) who stood in 2010 in front of hustings meetings, and knocked on doors, defending that manifesto.

Only now are they to be told that Nigel thinks it was all "drivel" despite him approving it at the time and standing at the last election on its promises. Well thanks a lot Nigel... for knowingly sending out hard-working volunteers to the electorate with nothing more than “drivel” to defend themselves. His comments are quite a smack in the face to UKIP members from the “Dear Leader”.

With no surprise the fallout from Farage's comments has already happened, UKIP supporters' arguments are now easily dismissed by using their leader's remarks, as Dr Eric Edmond observed:
Click on link to call Clegg to see how the Lib Dems are profiting from Farage's stupidity. The relevant call is about 10 minutes into the tape. Clegg was able to brush off a UKIP supporter by simply refering him to Farage's denouncing of the 2010 manifesto and decent honest hard working UKIP members.

All that hard work undone by one interview. And, as to the next manifesto for 2015, how do we know that this one won't be "drivel" as well? It's certain that Farage will be asked whether the next manfesto is "drivel"; questions will be asked as to its content in those terms.

Then reflecting on the running theme throughout UKIP's history we have another example of "falling out with Nigel", by Nigel's drinking partner Godfrey Bloom no less: Godfrey Bloom has hit out at Nigel Farage for scrapping Ukip's 2010 manifesto, saying the party has adopted a "no-policy policy":
In a strongly-worded warning to his former colleagues, the independent MEP said the party was turning into a "don't-frighten-the-horses, all-things-to-all-men, pale blue party. The current lurch to the no-policy policy will damage Ukip in 2015,"
Nigel seems to have developed an unhealthy habit of "falling out" with people; UKIP's history is littered with many many examples. Thus Bloom's comments resonate. Though it's worth noting that Bloom was quite happy to take the shilling while on board the EU gravy train without complaint and many of his troubles have been brought upon himself by himself.

We have evidence of UKIP's "no-policy policy" when we come to the recent flooding, particularly in the Somerset Levels which has dominated the headlines. As Richard North and Booker have demonstrated there is a very significant EU dimension to the Somerset floodings. This is a complete open goal for UKIP if ever there was one regarding how our country is run - low hanging fruit in plain sight.

It's a chance for Farage and UKIP to lead the media debate, a chance to fully expose normally secret EU laws, a chance to reveal the damage EU laws are having on our country when flooding has and will dominate the headlines for weeks. But no, Farage chooses not to despite being informed of the details. Instead the leader of the UK's most prominent Eurosceptic party has this to say (via Autonomous Mind):
I don’t know the truth to the extent the Environment Agency is now bound by European Union rules and laws, I just don’t know, which is why we need to have a public inquiry.
That is an astonishingly pathetic response. Where's the detail? Where's the research?

What is clear is that UKIP - by its leader's actions - is removing itself from the EU debate. The question is why? We are reminded of Dan Hannan who indulges in convoluted intellectual gymnastics to pretend he supports exit from the EU but acknowledges as a consequence inadvertently that his priority is power which comes via his membership of his party.

In light of Farage's deep reluctance to highlight the EU's involvement in the current flooding crisis, does one conclude he doesn’t want to upset the establishment after all? Is he a Judas goat - not really wanting EU exit because it would not mean being a member of this or does he really want to become a member of this.

Like many I voted, and joined UKIP, because I had no other political home to go to with regard to EU membership. Sadly as an opponent of our membership of the EU, the clear policy of UKIP to now vacate that arena means I no longer really have anyone to vote for at all.

Farage's current actions are a betrayal of the hard working volunteers; they - we - deserve much better.

Saturday 8 February 2014

Alcohol: I Forgot To Remember to Forget

This last week from the BBC:

The new scheme [pretending - because it is against EU law - that there will be minimum pricing], which will be in force before the World Cup, requires retailers to use a complicated formula based on alcohol duty and VAT to calculate a floor price.
Those readers of mine whose memory has not been obliterated by the copious consumption of beer (other beverages are available) will of course remember this from January of 2011 - 3 years ago:
Under plans to be unveiled by the Home Office today retailers will be banned from selling drinks for less than the value of duty and VAT owed on them.
It's enough to turn you to drink...

Monday 3 February 2014

The EU Standard?

In the London Standard today we have a puff piece in support of the European Union; "The European  debate: Do you know your EU rights?

As is clear by the picture below it states the article has been written "in association with the EU"

Biased it undoubtedly is, putting forward arguments in support of membership of the EU in terms of the many “rights” of being an EU citizen. The usual suspects in terms of arguments appear - such as free movement, food labelling and discrimination, despite that the last category is largely dealt with by the non-EU court, the ECHR.

At this point it's worth noting that the London Standard is still partly owned by the supposedly eurosceptic Daily Mail.

In addition the London Standard notes in the same article:
EU regulations also cover environmental concerns...
That we can agree on - it most certainly does especially when it deliberately allows the flooding of the Somerset Levels, introduced by a 2007 Directive and consciously adopted by the Environment Agency in 2008, which then sought to increase the frequency of flooding in the area as Richard North points out:
Unacknowledged by either government, the media or even Chris Smith in his current diatribe, this policy was given legislative force, not by the Westminster parliament but by an EU directive 2007/60/EC of 23 October 2007 on the assessment and management of flood risks.
There, in recital 14, we saw spelled out the requirement that flood risk management plans should focus on prevention, protection and preparedness. But, “with a view to giving rivers more space, they should consider where possible the maintenance and/or restoration of floodplains, as well as measures to prevent and reduce damage to human health, the environment, cultural heritage and economic activity”.
There, writ large, was Defra’s “making space for water” policy and all that was needed for an already Green-dominated Environment Agency to abandon the Somerset Levels.
Richard's article is very much worth reading in full. But interestingly moving on down the article on the Standard we have this (my emphasis)
The debate went digital last month when European Commission vice-president Viviane Reding, the commissioner for justice, fundamental rights and citizenship, reached out to EU citizens in an online dialogue streamed live on YouTube.

Ms Reding says: “The internet connects people around the world. It is thus the perfect place for Europeans to come together, exchange views and debate issues which affect each and every one of us.”

So why is the Commission doing this now? Because Europe is at a crossroads and the coming years will be decisive for the future course of European Union.
It's further evidence that we have yet again ill-disguised EU code in a UK paper for "treaty change". Treaty change that is going to reform the EU for more integration a change that the UK's political establishment has not come to grips with yet or will not publically acknowledge.

The language is self-evident; "at a crossroads" and "the coming years will be decisive". Naturally everything requires "more Europe". Further European integration hidden in plain sight.

The article concludes with the self-confessed Europhile, comedian Marcus Brigstocke (a hero of the BBC):
“I always vote. The EU is the best place to be to ensure we are each given equal opportunities. It’s important to say that we’re not there yet, but being a member has delivered better employee rights, gay and women’s rights and a Human Rights Act which protects us all.”
Of course what Brigstocke doesn't say when he condems those who critise the EU as xenophobic is the biggest right of all is to be able to hold a government to account and that the EU is structured deliberately to prevent such a right. This is a right that the founding father of the EU, Jean Monnet, made perfectly clear should be denied.

It’s always odd that those who condemn those who criticise the EU’s lack of democratic accountability are in fact by default criticising the founding father of their beloved project (Jean Monnet) - a man who wished it to be undemocratic.

Sometimes you can't make it up...