Monday, October 31, 2011

Amateurs at work

Rather predictably, we see the Speccytwats getting excited about Ian Milne's pamphlet on leaving the European Union – available from Civitas at a price I am not prepared to pay.

What Milne cares to reveal in The Spectator, however, does not fill one with confidence, as he sketches out his ideas of an exit, thereby displaying a less than complete understanding of the legal and practical issues that would arise from our withdrawal.

A clue as to his rather superficial grasp comes with his offhand declaration that, on "Independence Day", two years after the EU has been notified of our intention to leave, the UK "will cease involvement in all other EU policy areas", which includes "fishing".

Just taking that one issue, it would be a quite remarkable thing if within the space of two short years, the internal legal issues between Scotland, Northern Ireland and even Wales could be resolved, allowing even the foundations of a UK fishing policy to be developed.

There would be even less confidence in our ability to secure all the bilateral agreements with the EU, and states such as Norway, Iceland and the Faroes, needed to replace the standing provisions of the CFP, to enable us then to being devising and implementing the technical issues required of a fisheries policy.

And this is not the half of it. In passing, Milne states that, with immediate effect (from the day we declare our intention to leave), only British Courts will interpret and apply EU law. Conflicting rulings of the ECJ and British courts arising during the next twenty-four months will be determined by the usual international dispute settlement procedures, he says.

As far as fishing goes, that would effectively leave our seas open to the depredations of EU and foreign fleets. With our fisheries protection resource cut to the bone, we have no capability to enforce our own fisheries regime – not that we would have one – and would have no practical means of exercising jurisdiction over non-national shipping, having ceased to recognise the ECJ.

Of course, what would apply to fishing would apply, in spades, to the management of our skies, and airline traffic, which is currently subject to EU law. It would affect our merchant shipping and all matters relating, to our trucks and cars going abroad, and much else.

Our leaving would also affect British pensioners resident in the EU, our reciprocal health arrangements, our passport and visa arrangements, mobile phone "roaming" arrangements, the postal system and conventional telecommunications … as well as radio and television broadcasting.

In short, what Milne – and so many others – manifestly fail to understand are the implications of the EU being much more than a trading agreement, even though they complain that this is the case. EU law and administration systems have infiltrated the very core of UK governance, to the extent that removal will be akin to extracting a malignant and invasive cancer from a human patient.

The problem here is that, with nearly forty years of economic and political integration, disengagement will take far longer than the two years Milne suggests, and be far more complex than anyone appreciates.

Even then, much of the law would continue to apply, it having been agreed through regional bodies such as UNECE, and global bodies such as the OIE – of which Milne seems unaware. The first task we face, therefore, is attempting to understand what we will have to deal with. And here, we are not even past first base.


I think we knew this

Now the telly is doing the story, the MSM gets interested, confirming the introspective nature of the animal. A bailiff at Rossendales, a debt collection firm that works for almost 150 councils, repeatedly broke the guidelines covering bailiffs, goes the story – thus missing the key issue. This is not a matter of "guidelines". The bailiffs are breaking the law - the headline should read "illegal practices".

John Boast, senior bailiff, for Rossendales, we are told, broke several "guidelines", while supposedly "training" an undercover reporter. Although bailiffs are not supposed to approach people at anti-social times, Mr Boast said that he often visited houses at night and on Sundays.

If a debtor is not at home, the bailiff leaves a letter with the time and date of the visit. Debtors are charged £24.50 for the first visit and £18 for the second and are supposed to be given the opportunity of clearing the debt immediately. "If you' re delivering a letter early, you don' t knock", said Mr Boast.

And that is the "phantom visit fraud" which Booker covered over a month ago, and which we first reported on 9 September. Yet the weak as ditch water report on covert filming in ITV1's Exposure: Bailiffs, which airs tonight, only says that the details, "raise concern about regulation". That is the MSM for you.

Meanwhile, Bradford Council, having carried out a "level 2" complaint investigation, have decided that I "have provided insufficient evidence to indicate any impropriety from either the Council or indeed its agent Jacobs", and are refusing to take any further action.

Not only that, their Customer Relations Officer, Mr Mushtaq Ahmed tells me: "I found no evidence of impropriety in the bailiff’s dealings with you. I have therefore not upheld your complaint". He is so "confident" that "the Councils actions caused you no injustice" that he is refusing to entertain any further correspondence.

"You are now questioning the Councils impartiality", he sniffs, then declaring that "there is no further merit in the Council continuing to correspond with you regarding this matter. Please consider this as the Councils final response".

West Yorkshire Police, however, do not appear to have finished with the matter. Further irregularities have been found – which Bradford still chooses to ignore – and a police inspector has been allocated to the case. Had the media been on the ball, it would have been following the same line. But, as we have found to our cost, the MSM doesn't do serious news any more.

If you want real news and analysis on such matters, go to the blogs.


The road to war

In his latest article, Ambrose makes the points that we all could have made, but chooses the analogy of a couple locked in a loveless marriage. Then he, Autonomous Mind, Zerohedge and The Daily Mail - twice - make the point about the increasing propensity to violence.

We are then reminded of Merkel's warning that euro failure threatens a thousand plagues. "No one should think that another half-century of peace and prosperity is assured," she said. But she has the matter backwards, Ambrose says. "The euro itself has become an engine of destruction and cross-border rancour. Europe will not be happy again until this misguided experiment is shut down".

The tragedy, though, is that Merkel – knowing only the propaganda version of European Union history - does not realise that the experiment had failed before it had even started. The birth of what is now the EU is put in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War but, as we know, the intellectual genesis – at the hands of Jean Monnet and Arthur Salter – was established in the 1920s, in the aftermath of the First World War.

As a construct intended to prevent a European War, it was therefore intended to prevent the Second World War. It failed the moment Hitler came to power yet, despite that failure, in the post-Hitlerian wreckage of Europe, Monnet dusted off the same plans and applied them to preventing a war that was never going to happen.

Thus do we have Merkel trapped in a false paradigm, desperately trying to hold together a construct that was designed to avert an historic war that it could never have stopped – and did not. And not only was it irrelevant to that task, it has now become the very source of instability that the Frau so desperately seeks to avoid, making her efforts hopelessly counter-productive.

We should learn our history, they say, for fear of repeating it. But when history becomes propaganda and we learn the wrong history, the repeat comes upon us without us appreciating it for what it is. Sadly, then as now, that "repeat" is the road to war – albeit of peoples rather than armies. That much will be different, not that that is any consolation.


Sunday, October 30, 2011

The gospel according to St Huhne

At each stage, Huhne and his co-authors write, 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.

If we join the euro, they wrote, "we shall over time achieve higher living standards . This is because we shall be full members of a huge single market, which can achieve the economies of scale and competitive excellence that a single currency has made possible in the US. From our greater wealth we shall be able to pay for the better hospitals, schools, houses and railways that we all aspire to".

"If we want the standard of hospitals, schools and railways that exists on the Continent, we have to join the euro. Otherwise we risk growing more slowly than the rest of Europe, which is precisely what happened when we refused to join the Common Market after the Second World War".

And this is the man to whom we should listen on energy?


Contradiction in terms

Nick de Bois, Tory MP for Enfield North, said, according to The Observer: "I hope we have learned at least one thing from last week, that there is a growing need for and acceptance of the case for repatriation of powers from Europe".

The proposition is quite obviously absurd. Any idea that Tory MPs could actually learn anything is beyond the bounds of possibility.


The writing on the wall

The US media is full of reports of a "freak" snow storm pounding Mid-Atlantic and Northeast states, dumping over two feet of snow in some places. It left a trail of havoc behind it, two million people without power and at least three dead. Even as WUWT was forecasting earliest snow for NYC, since the American Civil War, Governors were declaring states of emergency in New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts and parts of New York.

CNN offered an entertaining report, citing Alban Ajro of Watertown, Connecticut. As the impenetrable snow swirled around him, he informed viewers: "It's like a blizzard - you can't see far at all". Thus does the real world intrude on a tedious spat over the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperatures project team (BEST) report, which purported to claim – as so many have done before it – that the science is settled.

But, with Mother Nature taking a hand – and making far more powerful statements – the debate over climate change is taking on a cliquish aspect. The various camps are now engaging in arguments which seem to have similarities with the disputes over angel demographics and pin dancing.

Far more significant, perhaps, is that the politicians are losing faith, evidenced by this leaked report, which suggests that the FIT for solar panels may be more than halved, following in the wake of Germany, which has done likewise. Considering that, in February last year, the Tories were pushing to increase the then government's micro-generation quota from 1.6 to a massive 15 percent - at huge cost - this is a considerable climbdown.

By the end of this winter – if it lives up to current billing – the climate change debate in the UK will be dead in the water, and politically dead as well. Simply, as the economy declines, there is no slack in the system to finance a climate scare. How long it will take then for local authorities to fire their sustainability co-ordinators and climate-change officers is another matter, but when that starts happening, we will know it is over. Nevertheless, the writing is already on the wall.


It was always going to be

It helps, just occasionally, to stand back from the breathless reporting of events and remind ourselves that the euro – and ultimately the EU – was always going to fail. And that is what Booker does in his column this week, and if he is blowing our own trumpet.

We thus concluded, when we published The Great Deception, that two things would ultimately bring about the disintegration of the “project”. The first was the most reckless of all the moves it devised to weld the member states together: imposing on them a single currency without any of the preconditions to make it workable, above all a single economic government with the power to tax and to transfer vast resources from richer countries to poorer.

The project's other fatal flaw was what even its supporters came to call its “democratic deficit”. The more powerful the new system became, the more it alienated those in whose name it was erected, as they came to see how the direction of their lives had been handed to a remote and mysterious government over which they had no control.

Whatever the prattling of idle – and often ignorant – hack, therefore, the one clear lesson of recent events, and the total insolubility of the crisis engulfing the euro, is that the project is slowly heading for very messy and prolonged disintegration.

Everyone involved, it seems, is trapped, concludes Booker. The only way Britain will leave the EU is when it falls apart, around us and everyone else. Which is what it has, finally, begun to do.


Saturday, October 29, 2011

Who do you think you are kidding?

Whitehall officials, we are told by the Failygraph, are urgently reviewing every aspect of Britain's membership of the European Union to support The Boy's promises "to bring back powers from Brussels". The Daily Wail runs its own version of that story (headline illustrated), the two papers, with others, thus building up a head of steam for something that cannot happen, and therefore isn't going to happen.

Why currently there is such emphasis on seeking to achieve the impossible is something of a mystery, leading to speculation as to whether The Boy and his acolytes really know what they are doing. But, of all the attendant issues, that is possibly the easiest to resolve. Almost certainly, they do not.

Going back only a little way, one will recall that the Tory mantra, by which all problems EU were going to be resolved, was the famous "handbag". A putative Tory leader was going to go to Brussels and with one wave this fabulous instrument, the "colleagues" were going to quail before its power and grant us our every wish.

Wearily and repeatedly, it was left to the likes of us to point out that the changes ostensibly desired by the Tory rank-and-file were not possible without treaty changes. They require an intergovernmental conference (IGC) - which is not within the power of the British to convene - and then unanimity on the proposed changes, which must be ratified by every member state.

To date, these have been the hurdles which have rendered inert the magical properties of the handbag. This potency issue, however, seems to have percolated into the dim consciousness of the Tory collective, to the extent that The Boy is now talking about exploiting the need of the "colleagues" to hold an IGC in order to push through the treaty changes needed for the management of the eurozone.

Theory has it that, once the IGC is declared, the UK can introduce on the agenda its own requirements – amounting to substantive treaty changes which will repatriate powers. With the eurozone members needing our approval for their changes, we can then barter – their approval of our amendments in exchange for our approval of theirs.

Unfortunately, this Janet & John appreciation is somewhat at variance with the political realities of the European Union. Specifically, they lack any knowledge of the history of the Union, they are unaware of the "Craxi doctrine" which emerged from the 1985 Milan European Council, where Thatcher was ambushed, with the "colleagues" agreeing to an IGC against her will (Craxi and Thatch pictured above).

At the time, the rules for convening an IGC dictated that there should be consensus amongst member states, but what Craxi established was that, in the case of dispute, this meant simple majority voting by the leaders of the member states.

What has since emerged also, honed and refined during the shenanigans over the EU constitution and the Lisbon treaty, is that the agenda is also determined by "consensus", with the EU commission holding the pen. Thus, whether the UK would even be able to put her demands on the agenda would be a matter for the rest of the "colleagues".

Now, given that any forthcoming IGC will be convened to deal with the needs of the 17 eurozone members, which comprise the majority of the 27 states, it is unlikely that they will want the distraction of The Boy's political demands. Thus, the likelihood is that these will not even get onto the agenda. They will be blocked by a majority vote of the eurozone members, if need be.

This, of course, will leave The Boy stranded, with but one option – then to veto the conclusions of the IGC, blocking any new treaty. That would make him about as popular as an Israeli ambassador at a Hamas convention. Cameron would have to decide whether to incur the wrath of the entire collective, or cave in. And we know exactly what the result would be.

Thus, whatever the political motivation of The Boy is pursuing the current line – and we'll explore that in another post - it is not going to happen. As always, the only real options are two-fold: all in, or all out. Repatriation is not an option … not through negotiation, anyway. It is smoke and mirrors, not political reality.

As to who The Boy is kidding, probably the first and main person is himself - aided and abetted by the witless media which, like The Independent, bleats "euroscepticism", but has no idea what it means. The term "fool's paradise" comes to mind.


Not in a million years

A huge increase in state funding of political parties, worth up to £100m over a five-year parliament, is being proposed by a government-commissioned inquiry.

Says The Guardian, the funding, which would be shared out according to the number of votes each party receives in a general election, would be presented as a way of compensating them for a huge loss of income as a result of introducing new caps on individual donations to parties.

And the answer is a most emphatic No! These parasites do not represent me, they do not get my votes and I owe them nothing. I do not agree with them, their values, their aims or even their claims to be entitled to exist. If they cannot survive unaided (and that includes the money they already get), they should perish.

The bubble-dwellers have no mandate to take our money for their political parties. They may have the power to do it, but it would still be theft … and another nail in their collective coffins.


Friday, October 28, 2011

Be afraid


Compounding their anti-democratic behaviour last month, Bradford MDC has now "reviewed" its own decision not to supply me with information under the Freedom of Information Act and gone even further, effectively banning me from asking any questions about Council Tax.

This is via Dani Mistry, Bradford's "Freedom Of Information & Strategic Support Officer". Noting my assertion that:

The subject matter of the questions addresses allegations of illegality” and possible fraud undertaken by officers of Bradford MDC, the purpose of which is to ascertain whether actions taken by officers are lawful and legal, with a view to making that information public …

Mistry "decides" that:

On balance, I have taken the view that these FoI form part of obsessive behaviour in proving the Council has acted illegally as you have asked the Council the same questions four times within the stage one and two complaints and again you asked the same question to the police and Councillors.

I am then told that, "having visited/emailed the police, Councillors, complaints officers and received the same information i.e. the Council did not act illegally linked to sending requests without waiting for replies and I have therefore concluded that the questions themselves were of little importance to you and so of no value".

Poor little Mistry has thus got rather confused. He (or she?) has elided the issue of unlawful behaviour of the bailiffs (about which I have complained) with the issue of potentially illegal actions by the Council in overcharging for Council Tax summonses and liability orders, to which the FOI requests mainly refer.

Bradford MDC, therefore, has got itself in rather a pickle, making a fundamental mistake in confusing two separate lines of inquiry. I have not received any information from anyone about the illegality of councillors in respect of charges. Bradford is thereby refusing to answer FOI requests on grounds that simply do not apply.

Further, Mistry having concluded that my requests were vexatious, then informs me (with execrable grammar) that "Bradford Council will not respond to any further requests from you that relates to council tax collection and bailiffs".

With more FOI requests on charges having come in (with many to process), the update (above), with now 30 local authorities, perhaps illustrates why Bradford is so sensitive.

We are now close to a ten percent sample (albeit not properly randomised), which still has the council on the top of the league, sending out twice as many summonses as the national average, and pulling in cash at twice the national rate (measured as average per household – the basis of the "Greed Index").

Interestingly, in the top five, there are three West Yorkshire councils, which might suggest a certain amount of collusion. The span of charges alone, however, would seem to rule out any idea that all councils are recovering "costs reasonable incurred", and are treating this as a money-making opportunity.

The response of Bradford, of course, makes life a little more complicated, as we are now going to have to complain to the Information Commissioner. That is going to have to wait until I get back from the menders, but I have already checked with the office – I have six months to submit a complaint.

The council though is still scary. We have people here who, if they actually understand the meanings of the words "democracy" or "accountability", are doing their best to ensure that neither apply on their patch.


Nothing has changed

Having yesterday morning written a quick piece on the so-called "deal" stitched up by the "colleagues" and then switched off completely while I finished the book index, it came as something of a shock to come back twelve hours later to find the same item topping the news agenda

In fact, the only thing that is different is that I've finished the index – nearly 2,300 lines and only twelve short of 10,000 words. No wonder it takes so long – a complex piece of writing which, even if it was narrative text, would probably have taken a couple of weeks.

At least, though, that is real – which is more than one can say for the colleagues' endeavours. Peter Speigel of the Financial Times, notes with accuracy if stunning lack of originality, that the devil in the details … and the data.

He, like many, observes that the most important things were not what was in the agreement, but what was left out. It could, he writes, be days or weeks before the details that underpin the entire package are finally ironed out.

"More than we had expected … has been left to be finalised and detailed over the next month", says Malcolm Barr of JPMorgan. "There is plenty of room to doubt whether each of the key aspects of the package will deliver".

Mary Ellen Synon dismisses the whole deal as designed to fail, and Heffer puts it down as smoke and mirrors. Bruno's piece is equally dismissive. The supposed trillion euro bail-out "is in danger of unravelling" after Germany's central bank warned that the rescue measure was too dependent on the high-risk deals that caused the economic crisis, he writes.

Actually, it never really ravelled, which is the real problem. In fact, the package can't deliver. We have indeed been treated to another phantasmagorical session of smoke and mirrors. Ambrose explains why, but it all boils down to a single issue. The structure of the single currency is fatally flawed. It doesn't matter how good the wax job (not very) – the car hasn't any wheels. It isn't going anywhere.

So, as before, despite the meaningless froth on the markets which has excited The Independent, nothing has changed, other than my index. There is no solution, as this website avers. It is arguing that we are now in for a bout of hyperinflation, offering the picture we have published here. I would tend to agree – that is the destination. The only thing we do not have yet is the timetable.


Thursday, October 27, 2011


"Europe’s macroeconomic position can only recover, and the sovereign debt crisis can only be addressed, through underlying economic growth and we do not see the European Union creating the conditions for that - in fact quite the opposite."
Someone finally got it right.


A deal?

Eurozone leaders, we are told by diverse sources, have reached a deal which "they hope" will mark a turning point in the debt crisis. After what are termed "tense talks", they have agreed that banks holding Greek debt (including pension funds) will take 50 percent losses on their holdings. They (the "leaders") will also boost the rescue fund to €1 trillion.

Nothing, of course, is quite what it seems. The idea is to reduce overall Greece's national debt, but debt held by the IMF and ECB is supposedly untouchable. This means that the bank "haircut" (i.e., default on bank debt) will have a limited effect, and may be quite insufficient to make significant reductions in the overall debt. Further, the "rescue fund" isn't exactly a fund - more of a guarantee that if bailout funds go belly-up, they will be covered ... from sources not exactly specified, under terms not yet revealed.

Helpfully, Reuters is offering a stress test calculator, to enable you to work out how"the Target core Tier 1 capital ratio and sovereign haircut levels affect the amount of capital banks need to pass the stress test". The response, of course, is that if you need a dictionary, calculator or a technical glossary to work out what they are saying, they're hiding something.

On reflection, even if you think you understand it, they're still hiding something ... like: "This is no 'comprehensive deal'. The numbers are too small, the timelines too long and the details too thin on the ground". Brussels fudge, anyone?


End game

UPDATE: The euro fell as investors awaited details that will not be forthcoming until next month ... says Reuters. Bruno Waterfield tells us: "No news of pressers here. Deeply boring and depressing - hoping to see a paper draft soon. I can give a nerdy update on the EFSF - but I feel like weeping with the tedium as I write".

Gisela Stuart says: Nothing in life is inevitable – indeed, when consensus breaks out, as it did over the single currency, the only thing that is certain is that they're all wrong (climate change anyone?).

You just can't expand on that, and would be foolhardy to try. So I'm going to keep this post running on top, as we chart the decline and fall. Perversely, the "colleagues" can't even decide whether they are a farce or a tragedy, and end up being both. When there is something more to say, that is actually worth saying - instead of the torrent of extruded verbal material (EVM) - then I'll say it. Meanwhile, the forum link gives some useful insights.

UPDATE: Statement by heads of state: "Measures for restoring confidence in the banking sector are urgently needed and are necessary in the context of strengthening prudential control of the EU banking sector". You don't say.

UPDATE: It is now official - SPIVs rule the EU. The bail-out fund will be used to partly insure debt, and to attract private and international public investors through a "special investment vehicle" or SPIV. Yet, we know that already.

UPDATE: The lack of an agreement with bondholders on the size of their Greek "writedown" - as they are now calling it - is making the euro rescue plan almost impossible to finalise. This, says the FT, "complicates" the final leg of the deal, recapitalising European banks, which need the beefed-up fund as a backstop. Talks are, therefore, expected to continue beyond today ... are we shocked?

And the leaders of the EU member states which are not in the euro, including Britain, have left the meeting, leaving eurozone members to do the biz. The Boy can have a swift fag behind the bicycle shed, while the "colleagues" spend our money.

UPDATE: George Papandreou, the Greek premier, in Brussels, says: "the Greek people are making superhuman efforts to put our house in order" – they expect European leaders to recognise that and reciprocate. "Now is the time for the European leadership collectively to end the uncertainty, end the crisis, turn the page and make sure we make a big step forward into a better future and prosperity for our peoples in Europe." he adds.

UPDATE: And "if the euro fails, Europe fails", says Merkel. ... er ... I think we knew that. Then: European leaders should agree to a deal that will result in a write-down of half of Greece's huge national debt, she told the German Parliament. There we have it ... after all the rhetoric about no Greek default, Merkel is actively advancing default as a way out of the mess. Denials in this business are just tools of the trade. You believe these people at your peril.

UPDATE: "Markets rise after Bundestag approves use of bailout fund as a form of insurance against other loans to tackle the eurozone debt crisis and stresses Germany will pay no more than the €211bn agreed". The Boy says "contagion must not be allowed to spread". And he is going to stop it how? Meanwhile, John Monks thinks (and I use that word loosely) we should join the euro.

UPDATE: Ambrose with "raw politics". Europe's debt crisis has taken a deeply political turn as parliamentary battles rock Italy and Greece and once again cause simmering dissent in Germany, vastly complicating the search for a workable solution, his piece goes.

Britain was facing a new multi-billion-pound bill to prop up the euro last night as the single currency teetered on the brink of collapse, says The Daily Mail. It is not the end. It is not the beginning of the end. But it may well be the end of the beginning. There is no way back.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Behind the curve

The sentiment is fine, except that, once again, the MSM cannot cope with the fact that none of these are or ever will be eurosceptics. They are politicians – and Tory politicians at that.

The supreme irony of Monday's debate, the Mail continues, "is that it was called in answer to a mass public petition … In the event, the e-petition gimmick served only to highlight and deepen the yawning democratic deficit between the rulers and the ruled".

But no, it wasn't an e-petition. The paper can't even get that right, so when it comes to "nuances" like the nature of euroscepticism, it is unsurprising that the papers are nowhere to be seen.

The tragedy is that so many people still believe the MSM has something to offer (even if the number diminishes by the day). Take "europlastic", for instance. You will find nearly 2,000 recent mentions on the blogs – in the MSM, there are none

Political society is splitting two ways – those who read the blogs, and the little lambs who suck the pap.


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Lucky Libya

Quentin Letts makes the obvious point that the Libyans can now choose their own rulers – but we can't. What he doesn't say is that, in order to reach their happy state, the Libyans had to resort to murder. MPs might take note.


Read it and weep

"I plan to support democracy and the British people by voting against the motion."
Graham Stuart MP


Business as usual

Y'know, there are some positives to consider from this whole escapade. We now know precisely what value e-petitions have... (0) and we now know how much regard our MP's have for our views... (0).

We now know how low the Tories can stoop (if we didn't already) and we can finally, and categorically, demonstrate to all the Conservative Party members, who aren't permanently strung out on crack, that William Hague and David Cameron are about as euroskeptic as José Manuel Barroso.

We now know the shape of the stitch up any referendum would be and we now know how determined our masters are to prevent us from having any kind of say, even when the odds are potentially in their favour. So as an intelligence gathering exercise you could say it was worthwhile, if only to add to the already bulging dossier of evidence we have up to press, that the Tories are scum-sucking reptiles.

As to the rebels, we shall not take them off our "shit list". If the ones who voted against were doing anything more than posturing, they would have used their power and collectively resigned, bringing down the government. If we are to believe it was such a matter of principle that is. They have the power to wield any time they choose. They did not, and nor do they, because ultimately their cushy little earners come first.

Yeah, we got a resignation from a non-entity whose career was going nowhere. When I see someone resign who has a job worth losing, I might be in some way impressed. Essentially what we have seen is the same stonewalling and feathering of nests we have always seen. Daniel Hannan is a great example of how to milk the "anti" campaign for all that it's worth. A vote the wrong way secures a few headlines and gets you off the UKIP target list. Marginal MP's in marginal constituencies have a vested interest in appeasing their locals for that reason. Difficult to say whether it's more boring than depressing.

We could of course tell them directly what we think but the Malicious Communications Act prevents us saying that which should be said and collectively us Norths have seen more of the inside of police cells than we care to again. So yes, business as usual. Move along... nothing to see here.

Given that the whole euroskpetic movement has been an abject failure, it is surely time to change tack. The game has changed. Before it was a rotten system imposed on a functioning country. That is no longer the case. It is now all one system, one entity, rotten through to the core. This isn't just a revolt against the EU now, it's a revolt against the political class in general and any authority it attempts to impose on us.

In that cause you can join us by getting those FOI requests in and we attack that money tree. The white collar looters are still roaming free. They have created enough red tape for us to hang them with it. Take the fight to the enemy you can reach and let the scumset write themselves out of the script permanently.


The day democracy died

This was nearly the best possible outcome for a ridiculous exercise, the origin of which most of the MPs in the chamber seem to have misunderstood. There were some good speeches, many well-meant, but much dross.

In the end, though, MPs voted 483 to 111 against giving voters a referendum on the EU. Much was heard during the debate about the "political élite", but that élite decided the electorate could not be trusted. They knew best. What little pretence we had of there being a functional democracy crashed and burned.

A referendum could well have been a disaster for the eurosceptic cause, although the MPs were not even prepared to take a marginal risk – not even willing put the case to the test which, with a rigged vote, was almost certain to bring victory to the euroslime. Instead, the majority chose to put party whips before the people they claim to represent.

Possibly, about 80 Tory MPs rebelled. The MSM will almost certainly make a big deal about the Tory "rebellion", but who cares? Parliament as an institution has spoken - and that is what matters.

Whether we agreed with the idea of a referendum (and we did not) is immaterial. The majority of people - whether misguided or not - wanted one. Parliament said "no" - the MP collective raised two fingers to the nation. The only thing left to us is to return the compliment.

MPs really are stupid people if they think there are going to be no repercussions. The brighter ones probably realise. The rest will have to find out.


Monday, October 24, 2011

Not quite

"When your neighbour's house is on fire, your first impulse should be to help them put out the flames, not least to protect your own house"
David Cameron.

Well no. As a rule, when the whole house is on fire, engulfed in flames, you round up your vinyl collection, grab the cat and get the hell out of there.

On top of their game?

A number of MPs in the EU Referendum debate refer to it coming about as a result of the e-petition reaching the 100,000 level. Included in that number have been The Boy, Kate Hoey, Zac Goldsmith, Mark "the mouth" Pritchard, Douglas Carswell and Martin Vickers.

But, as The Guardian helpfully points out, the debate is happening because the backbench business committee, which was set up after the general election to allocate time for backbench debates, decided to grant David Nuttall's request for one.

Nuttall's case was supported by the fact that more than 100,000 had signed an old-fashioned paper petition submitted to Downing Street. But his application had nothing to do with the new e-petition procedure. The only e-petition, sponsored by The Daily Express has attracted only 36,994 signatures.

It might be a small point but you would think that MPs – at the heart of Westminster – would actually know such things. And if we can't rely on them to get such details right, how can we rely on them to understand – or articulate – the complex arguments relating to membership of the EU?

In fact, we cannot. Jimmy Hood opened the case against the motion by saying that many of the arguments, which he had heard so often, had scarcely changed. And indeed they haven't. It is as if time has stood still – on both sides.

Should we have actually had a referendum campaign, the British public would have switched off in their droves long before the vote. These people simply have not developed, have not moved on. They call themselves our representatives, but nothing in this debate gives us any confidence that they are capable of representing us.

Switch on – listen to the dross … switch off. MPs are no longer part of the debate. Any change is going to happen without them - in spite of them.


Not enough

"Forty-nine per cent of voters would vote to get Britain out of Europe, as against just forty percent who prefer to stay in", says a Guardian/ICM poll - a nine-point lead. Yet, in July of this year, the Daily Mail was reporting a "huge lead" of 50 to 33 percent of the public wanting to leave the EU – a 17-point lead.

Thus, sentiment has dropped eight points in three months. And, as we pointed out in July, a poll in 1974 gave a lead of 18 points for withdrawal – 50 percent as against 32 percent. But, when the actual referendum came in 1975, 67.2 percent voted to stay in, while those voting to leave had fallen to 32.8 percent.

The Boy, meanwhile, has argued that the British people prefer to stay within the EU. He may not be wrong , but how odd it is when he doesn't want to take the risk of finding out – even though the odds are possibly in his favour.


They just don't get it

Here we have the luvvies from The Independent, joined by the Failygraph fools, describing Hague as "strongly eurosceptic". Not only is the "bubble" a real phenomenon, we see here how the bubble-dwellers use a different language. Some of the words are the same, but they have completely different meanings.

"I've argued for more referendums than almost anybody else, I've argued against the euro more comprehensively than almost anybody else," says Hague. But this is a man strongly in favour of our continued membership of the EU, and author of the fatuous slogan "in Europe but not ruled by Europe".

But, in 1999, Steve Richards, then chief political commentator for The Independent wrote in The New Statesman: "The Conservatives are playing games with the political implications of Britain's membership of the EU depending on their latest opinion poll findings …".

Then and now, that is what they are doing. Whatever the rhetoric, William Hague is genuinely committed to membership of the EU, and has been consistently so, even in May 1999 arguing:
The British people believe that Britain's place lies firmly within the European Union, but that we should work to make it the right kind of European Union. This should be a European Union which does less but does it better …
The underlying commitment to membership destroys any claim to being a eurosceptic. Yet, after more than a decade of fudge, Hague retains his media reputation. Thus is the language perverted and the arguments totally distorted. How can there be a dialogue when we cannot even agree on the meaning of words?


The privileges of power

Sarkozy bluntly told Cameron: "You have lost a good opportunity to shut up." He added: "We are sick of you criticising us and telling us what to do. You say you hate the euro and now you want to interfere in our meetings".

And in so doing, a Frenchman has done what at least ten million Englishmen would have loved to have done – to tell the Great Leader to shut up. How is it that the Kermits get all the fun?


Sunday, October 23, 2011

Poisoning the well

Warner awakes, with this: "On Europe, as on most other issues, you could not put a cigarette paper between the main parties. The new politics is no longer a contest between rival party ideologies but between the political class and the public it despises".

What he is describing, of course, is the "above the line" phenomenon that we wrote about at the beginning of this month. It is fascinating to see that different people, entirely independently, are coming to the same conclusion.

And, talking of conclusions, Autonomous Mind looks at the forthcoming referendum debate and concludes that the renegotiation option is poisoning the well – behaviour common to retreating armies. (unashamedly, I have borrowed his pic).

Typical of the genre is Bernard Jenkin in the Failygraph, yet another MP bleating about the government taking back power from Brussels. Whether intentional or not, he and the likes of George Eustice will ensure that the debate goes nowhere. By Wednesday, the issue will be yesterday's news, parked, and forgotten ... which was perhaps the intention all along.

Unsurprisingly, d'Ancona notes that Eustice – once Cameron's press secretary – "has earned the discreet gratitude of No 10" for his handling of the issue and is now the one rebel who's still got a good chance of promotion. Poisoning wells, therefore, has its reward. Expect Eustice to be a PPS within six months and a junior minister before the end of The Boy's reign. He has served his master well.


This England of ours

There is no dispute over the basic facts of this first story. The police admit them. Essentially, four constables attended a private address, ostensibly to remove a 14-year-old girl from her own mother, asserting that she was in danger of "significant harm".

When the girl did not want to go with the police, they restrained her, handcuffed her, and then forcibly removed her. They then charged her with "assault" - interviewing her without a parent or guardian present, in contravention of the rules – and locked her in a cell for 12 hours.

This is England, our England – one of windmills, bobbies on bicycles, rank bloody stupidity, indifference and state violence. If I thought armed revolution was the answer, I'd be advocating it. But we're going to have to play it a bit more canny than that.

However, if there are any happy souls out there who don't think we have a problem, I really would like to share the substances they are on – just for the next week or so.


Still think you would win?

A Mail on Sunday poll tells you all you need to know. A straight "in-out" gives a ten-point majority to the "no" camp, while the fantasy option of a renegotiation gets the majority of 18 points. The staying in "on current terms" gets a massive 45 percent majority against. However, those polled are not asked what their intentions would be if they were told that renegotiation is not an option.

If this was for real, you can be assured that it would be taken as a decisive vote against EU withdrawal. It isn't for real though, but if Cameron or his successor were forced into a poll, you can bet it would be rigged in a similar fashion, to get the "right" answer.

This is not that difficult to work out, and those who are so ardently pushing for a referendum need to think very, very hard about whose interests they are serving in so doing. Our masters are not going to play it straight, which means the referendum campaigners are walking into another trap.


Saturday, October 22, 2011


Autonomous Mind brings us up-do-date with the latest instalment of europlastics' playtime. Witterings from Witney offers a serious contribution, bolstered by TBF and Raedwald.

Also having a serious go is Helen, over on Your Freedom and Ours. Perhaps Eustice should have looked at the fate of his namesake, taken from this 1940s cartoon in the Daily Mirror. It really is quite remarkable how this creature lives up to his alter ego.

The MSM, of course, just doesn't get it, with the Failygraph letting Charles Moore loose on the subject. He follows the herd, arguing for a free vote on the EU referendum, he and his commenters unable to appreciate that this is classic displacement activity and a crass waste of time and money, in terms of achieving anything positive.

The only advantages of the whole episode are that it further embarrasses The Boy, and shows Hague up for the europhile that we always said he was.

In a sense, though, Hague is right about one thing – that the debate on Monday is a distraction, but not for the reasons stated. The real reason why it is such a waste of time is that, even if the debate were successful in terms of achieving a referendum, the outcome would not result in our leaving the EU.

As set out, with its three options including a "renegotiation" clause, the message would be so confused as to allow virtually any interpretation. A simple "in-out" referendum is not on offer, and were it to happen, I remain convinced that the outcome would be difficult to predict.

More importantly, there is a huge number of people who see in withdrawal from the EU the answer to all our problems, and are thus focusing all their political energies on it. Some argue more credibly, that leaving the EU is a necessary precursor to resolving our structural problems.

I used to think that way, but have latterly come to the conclusion that leaving the EU would in fact make very little difference to the way we are governed. In or out of the EU, I see our political élites behaving in exactly the same way.

And given that, in so many areas, we go further than EU requirements, I do not see any great bonfire of regulation attendant on our departure from the EU. Nor indeed are there any great savings to be had. Would agricultural subsidies actually stop because we left the EU?

The problem, therefore, is not the EU but our political élites. Change the fundamentals of our political structures and bring them under control and a necessary consequence of those changes would be our leaving the EU. Without those changes, leaving the EU would simply present us with a version of Animal Farm … man quits, the pigs take over.

But rather than address the fundamental issues of how we are governed, and work towards taking the next steps in the long road towards a democracy that we still have not achieved, too many believe that well-motivated activity is a substitute for thinking and planning.

Actually, though, we have been there before. During the War, there was a resurgence of political activism, with Socialism being the great hope for the masses. Voting for Labour in 1945, however, merely replaced capitalist bosses with union bosses.

It took Thatch to weaken the power of the unions, but the result was not a great sweep towards democratisation. Into the vacuum of power that the departure of the unions created, the corporates moved in – including many of the unions which had reinvented themselves – leaving us no better off.

I really do not want a repeat situation. We do not want to labour long and hard to oust our masters, only to have a fresh set take their place, with very little fundamental having changed. The changes we need must be readied and largely in place, while we get rid of Farmer Jones, or all we end up with is another Napoleon.


That's a success then?

The Times has returned to circulation growth for the first time in nearly a decade, claims its editor James Harding. "We have signed up more than 110,000 people who buy the digital editions of The Times every day and, as a result, the number of people buying The Times in print and on screen is up three percent year-on-year", he says.

The consequence – or so it would seem - is that around 100 jobs will go from The Times newspaper, amounting to one in seven staff. The Sunday Times will lose up to 20 permanent staff and a third of all casuals, expected to add up to 50 to 100 job losses in total.

Actually, the big problem for Murdoch's News Corporation is a 25 percent rise in the price of newsprint, a fall in advertising and slow progress in attracting new advertising revenues to the iPad editions of the papers.

But at the heart of newsprint "crisis" is not only the soaring energy prices affecting everybody but the huge surge in the cost of newsprint as Chinese and Indian newspaper consumption has mushroomed. Thus, something has to go, and the industry is consuming its children. As prices go up, the very people who generate the content are being chopped – the deal for the consumer being less value for higher prices.

Somehow, this does not immediately grab one as the most successful of business models.


The limits of green

Offer a car at three times the price of a normal run-around, with the acceleration of a one-legged squirrel and the range of an inebriated slug, and what do you get?

Well, despite the government offering £5,000 of our money to every idiot who is prepared to buy one (excluding the corporates who are using other people's money), you end up selling just 308 models during the third quarter of the year. Just 465 electric vehicles were registered in the first quarter, and the number more than halved to 215 in the second.

Earlier, it was understood that around three quarters were bought by businesses, and if that figure holds up, it means that less than 250 private individuals have actually been stupid enough to part with money.

The real stupidity, therefore, has been on the part of the Cleggerons, who have allocated £400 million for this madcap project, covering not only car subsidies but a network of charging points.

With a national car fleet of 28 million vehicles, though, it is going to take just a little bit of time to replace it with electric vehicles … at this rate, more than 20,000 years – assuming none are scrapped of written off in the interim.

This has not stopped Boris the Buffoon planning to spend about £60 million of Londoners' money on a network of at least 1,300 public charging points across London by 2013. This man is seriously expecting London to have 100,000 electric vehicles "as soon as possible", although even a hundred years would be wildly optimistic.

Nor is it entirely a question of money. Just 85 electric vehicles were purchased in Belgium in the first half of 2011, despite the available €10,907 (£9,496) subsidy.

Over the same period, a mere 850 EVs found homes in Norway, as most buyers ignored a hefty €17,524 (£15,256) incentive. And 238 cars were bought in Denmark where the government tempts buyers with an incredible €20,588 (£17,924) in grants and subsidies.

What this shows up all too plainly is that there are real limits to the commitment to the green agenda, when it comes to expecting people to cough up their own money. You can thus see why the Greens are so keen on compulsion. People may support the madness in principle, but they are not prepared to pay for it.


Friday, October 21, 2011

Now read this

A contribution from Lord Willoughby de Broke, via Helen. I'm going to be a little light on the blogging – only two or three short posts a day for a while. I really have to finish the index of the book, and it is proving harder and taking longer than anticipated.

I'm also up against a personal deadline now … a visit to the menders has been booked for the 6th November at the Nuffield Hospital in Leeds, and they open me up the next day, following which there may actually be a short break in blogging. Lots to do between then and now, but one is also gripped by a sort of end of term feeling. Yeah, it will pass.

My publishers, incidentally, have finalised the dust-jacket design (above - click to enlarge) – I’m really pleased with it. The book is now scheduled for publication in the Spring. It'll be something to look forward to, if I ever get that index finished.


Shades of '38?

For sure, we do not have Fascist dictatorships astride Europe (yet), or the gathering storm of war, but there is a sense of the old order breaking down. While the Tories piffle away with their half-witted referendum motion, great events are shaping up, the nature of which we know not, but have every reason to fear.

But in change, there is opportunity. As political tectonic plates move, we need to look beyond the current superficialities and decide whether we are going to attempt to shape events, or be shaped by them. History is in the making here, and history will be our judge.


Dead dictator trumps "Europe"

Even though he was shot down like a dog after he had been captured, the BBC nevertheless managed, rather decorously, to report that Gaddafi had "died" today.

There will be no tears shed for him, except perhaps the oil and gas companies which had signed lucrative contracts with his regime. Now we wait to see what the rebels do, and who they favour with their contracts.

One person who, doubtless, will be delighted is The Boy. This was shaping up to be "Europe" weekend in the media, and events in Libya will drive it down the agenda, as indeed it has today.

The media, these days, only seems to be able to deal with a single issue at a time and, suddenly, "Europe" isn't it. With Labour and the Lib-Dims whipping the debate, it's going to be a non-event anyway. And, as we approach the dawn of a new epoch, a dead dictator trumps a dead debate.


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Unravelled Green

We said it was a stupid idea at the time, and that the maths did not stand up. Subsequently, on 23 April 2009, as the dying Labour administration embraced the technology and the Tories cried out for more, we observed that this was nothing more that a "cynical and meaningless" ploy to keep the Greenies on board.

So it has come to pass that Longannet, the flagship scheme for carbon capture in the UK, has been junked, despite the availability of £1 billion funding from this moronic administration. And since it is the only remaining project in the running for CCS funding, that makes it about thirty months from inception to total collapse of this absurd policy. God only knows how much money has been wasted on it.

With this though, and many other issues, we begin to see the Green agenda unravelling with increasing speed. Despite the continuing flood of scare stories, they no longer have any heat or political traction. The scare is dying on its feet.

The really interesting thing here are the political implications – at national and EU level. As the agenda slides towards oblivion, The Boy's credibility can only be damaged, even more than it is already. Far from being the husky-hugging greenest government ever, it may well go down as the administration that finally junked the Greens.

At an EU level, though, this is even more interesting. Very early on, the EU commission latched on to Eurobarometer findings that pointed up "environment" as the issue on which approval ratings were highest. The Green agenda, therefore, has been harnessed in the service of European political integration.

It is unlikely, however, that the commission will be sufficiently astute to realise that the bottom has fallen out of the market, and the institutions are not in any case flexible enough to accommodate rapid change. Thus, the impetus for scaling down the agenda is going to come from member states, further weakening the integrationalist pressure.

We have, therefore, a situation where the EU has wrapped itself in a beneficial crisis that is, for its purposes, no longer beneficial – without the means rapidly to extract itself from it. Carbon capture was one of its dreams. It, with the UK government, are looking foolish for promoting the nonsense.

And from here, the only way is down. What should have been an asset is now becoming a liability.


Plumbing new depths

I had intended to do a piece on carbon capture, but that will have to wait until later today. What diverts the attention is a report that the EU referendum debate is to be brought forward to Monday.

The official reason being given is that Hague and The Boy are going to be at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Australia. Hague, we are told, wants to "spearhead the Government fight", so the date has been moved to accommodate him.

Speculation abounds, though, that the move is a bid to prevent the calls for a vote building up a head of steam, a pre-emptive move to prevent head off a Tory backbench rebellion.

However, when you see the tosh being written by Graham Brady - encapsulating the very essence of europlasticism, it is clear that The Boy has got very little to worry about.

I believe, says Brady, that a vote would "give the government an overwhelming mandate to seek the return of vital powers to British control. Equally important, it would send a clear message to the people that when it comes to deciding on our relationship with Europe".

With that, one even begins to suspect that this whole debate is a put-up job – nothing having changed since Thatcher's euro-enthusiast days.

Devil's Kitchen, on the other hand, sees the vote on the motion deciding the intrinsic value – or the lack of it - of our entire system of "representative" democracy.

He is not wrong there. For a long time I have felt that Westminster has written itself out of the script. As it plumbs new depths, this would seem to prove that contention.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Worth less and less

The self-important Jon Worth is giving us the "benefit" of his views on the EU referendum debate, over on Labour List, unwittingly displaying his own ignorance of the organism that he loves so much.

He too falls for the misconception that we somehow have a "relationship" with the EU, failing to understand that the UK is part of the European Union. As we pointed out earlier, we can no more have a relationship with the EU than can Tim Montgomerie have a relationship with his left foot – or vice-versa.

But where Worth especially falls apart is in pontificating about trade with the rest of the EU member states, opining that: "the cars we would export, the services we would sell would still have to abide by EU standards. So the notion that the UK would somehow immediately be set free of EU shackles is fanciful".

What he fails to appreciate – as do many europlastics – is that standards set for motor cars and many other things do not originate from the EU, but from diverse international organisations.

In respect of motor cars, the body of record is UNECE, where the standards are agreed through this intergovernmental body and then processed by the EU using the "dual international quasi-legislation/comitology mechanism". In effect, the EU acts as the middle-man, its bureaucracy translating the international technical agreements (which it cannot change) into detailed, actionable legislation.

To that extent, membership of the EU is an irrelevance. We could, like Norway, buy in the legislative services of the EU, to produce our technical trade legislation, or go it alone and produce our own. The outcome would be largely the same, with the singular and important difference that we would not necessarily have to apply all standards to domestic industries (slaughterhouses come to mind).

In displaying his ignorance, though, Worth points up a difficulty which afflicts both europlastics and euroslime. Neither group really understands how the EU works, or its depth of penetration into the UK body politic. Thus, when it comes to the relative advantages of membership, or quitting, and the mechanics of leaving, both sides are flying blind.

Perhaps one of the biggest problems we have to resolve is the way policy-making over a wide range of issues has been outsourced to Brussels, leaving our civil servants and politicians unused to producing complex legislation. Re-acquiring those skills is going to take time.

All of this, though, adds to the irrelevance of any debate in parliament. We have the blind leading the blind – the ill-informed conversing with the uninformed, the ignorant and the prejudiced. And to add to the unreality, The Boy is going to whip the debate, and all the good little Tories will roll up to obey.

Basically, though, the EU is a lower-order problem which can best be resolved by dealing with the more fundamental problems in our societal structures. Here, I am no more keen on being ruled by Whitehall than I am Brussels but then, living in a "local" authority area of 500,000 souls, I am not keen on being ruled by the corrupt city state down the road either.

Knowing where to start, and where to apply the leverage, is half the battle – and it is unlikely that the answers will be found in Westminster which, increasingly, is worth less and less. As my erstwhile co-editor concludes, we would be better off if the Tories voted down the motion anyway.