Sunday, February 27

How much ?

The Better Regulation think tank has put the cost of existing regulation to industry at £100 billion a year.

The Institute of Directors have estimated the future cost of full membership of the EU, inc unfunded pension liabilities at £168 Billion.
The problem wifh expressing points using vast sums of money is that most people can not comprehend the sums involved.

A writer in a CIB recent article commented:

£1 billion provides the capital to build a hospital and if the balance is invested will provide the running costs for ever!

Now that is what most peolple will understand.

Big Brother Cometh

by Dr Richard North

In the Sunday Times today is a story that has being doing the rounds, this one headed: "Europe wants a black-box speed spy in every car"
According to The Times, "black box recorders" could be installed in all new cars under an EU ruling. The "aircraft-style equipment" would also act as a tracker, using global positioning satellites to record the location and route of a vehicle and to tell how fast a driver is going and whether seatbelts are being worn.
Typically, this is being presented as a safety measures, the Times also reporting that "data recovered from the boxes could give investigators important clues on how accidents are caused".
We are told that the EU commission has asked the police forces of member states to look at whether the technology could improve road safety.Then, if as expected, the police give their backing, manufacturers would be required to install black boxes in all new cars by 2009. All very nicey-nicey this is, and you can bet the police – or more particularly the "road safety" partnerships – will be highly enthusiastic.
As the technology allows speed to be monitored, and is linked with positioning data, the facility will exist to issue speed tickets from information generated by the car electronics, without any external apparatus such as speed cameras.Furthermore, there have been some suggestions that the system could be linked to in-car computer diagnostic systems which already exist in many cars, to monitor exhaust emissions, with penalty tickets being issued automatically to drivers of cars which fail to meet emission standards – even though they may be unaware of the problem.
Few people are aware of quite how far this technology has already developed, and quite how enthusiastic the regulators are about its applications. Some indication can be gained from the EU commission site on “Intelligent transport systems”, where ideas such as "electronic fee charging" are rehearsed.Furthermore, since much of this technology relies on satellite positioning data, this the use of such systems in the regulatory context has the potential to provide a considerable revenue stream, underwriting the EU’s Galileo project, with otherwise is difficult to justify financially (other than through the spin-off in arms sales).This is not only an EU problem as the National Transportation Safety Board in America is also highly enthusiastic about such systems, all of which goes to show that the bureaucracies of the world have a great deal in common.Unsurprisingly, British motoring groups fear the technology could be used by government to introduce a national congestion charge or to keep tabs on people’s movements and therein lies the greatest danger.
Give governments power (any governments) and it is only a matter of time before they abuse it. Here technology is creating a worrisome scenario where, in the future, every time you climb in your car, "big brother" will be looking over your shoulder.

The Sunday Quote

''Conservatives do not believe that the political struggle is the next important thing in life ..... The simplest of them prefer fox-hunting - the wisest religion.''

Lord Hailsham (1907-2001) The Case for Conservatism - 1947.

At a photocall when Lady Thatcher said to Lord Hailsham 'You should be on my right' the Conservative statesmen replied,
''That would be difficult''.

Friday, February 25

A question of Scrutiny

by Dr. Richard North
In the House of Commons debating chamber, television cameras often show ranks of empty benches, even during quite important debates, inviting comment that MPs are not bothering to take part in the parliamentary process.
Some of that is true, notwithstanding that MPs have televisions in their offices with a direct feed to the Chamber, so they can follow debates while also carrying out other work.But behind the scenes there are also the parliamentary committees, many unsung, unheard and almost completely ignored by the media.
Three such as the European Standing Committees, known respectively - with unusual simplicity and logic - as Euro A, B, and C.These committees form the vital function of questioning ministers over forthcoming EU legislation, prior to their approving it in Brussels through the Council, and (in theory at least) giving those ministers a negotiating mandate which they are supposed to take into account when it comes to voting.
The committees themselves are at the tail end of the scrutiny process, with the legislation first being looked at by the European Scrutiny Committee, which decided whether any of the draft legislation coming through from Brussels is "politically significant".Proposals which are considered so are marked down for "scrutiny reserve" - which, in theory, means that they cannot be approved by ministers until they have been debated by the House - and referred to one or other of the Euro committees for debate.
Thus, it came to pass that yesterday "Euro A" met to consider two draft EU regulations, together aimed at establishing a "legal base" for the financing of the "reformed" Common Agricultural Policy. But what effectively amounted to a total farce - a hollow charade even - started some 24 hours before the debate for it is only then that the committee papers were passed to the MPs who would attend.
MPs were sent the regulations, which themselves amounted to 104 pages, with explanatory notes, in a package of background papers which amounted in total to over 400 pages (448, to be precise).There followed a frenetic reading and study session yet, such is the complexity of the subject, and the uncertainties surrounding it, that even this package was not enough.
Much of the information needed, on which to pass judgement, simply is not known.In the questioning and debate, which can be read on the Hansard site, two speakers pointed up the nature of the problem.Firstly, Owen Paterson, Conservative MP for North Shropshire, and one of the shadow agriculture and fisheries team, noted that it was "most unsatisfactory" trying to discuss something "about which we do not know the details".He added, rather poignantly that: "It is rather like trying to grasp a greased piglet in the dark," a comment that drew some amused responses, not least a question as to whether Paterson was speaking from personal experience. (No said Paterson, he only did it in daylight.)
Then Andrew George, the Lib Dem Agriculture spokesman, noting the complexity, recorded that he had tried to discuss the issues but there were, he said, few who are capable of seeing the whole picture, adding: "The last one I met who got their head completely around the issues involved is more likely to need institutional care as a result of the struggle that they experienced."This was brought out in the evidence from the European Landowners Organisation (ELO), cited by Owen Paterson in his speech, that organisation stating:The problems and needs of Europe's rural areas differ enormously... This must mean that the balance of measures selected as appropriate to each region is also bound to differ enormously.
Then, getting to the crux of the problem, the ELO pointed out:We have no evidence to suggest that the Commission is better at prioritising and effective policy management at EU level than the Member States and Regions are at their level. Setting the priorities, quantified objectives, and indicators at EU level will turn out to either be a practical impossibility if done at the right level of detail, or it risks being meaninglessly general if set at a broad level for which comparable data exist for every region.

And that is the crux of the problem. With 25 nations now in the CAP, the system of agricultural payments and the regulations controlling them are now so complex that they are virtually beyond the capability of the human mind to comprehend them.

None of the MPs present understood them fully and, throughout the questioning, the minister, Alun Michael, was floundering, unable to give answers to even the basic questions.But, after two hours of questioning and debate, a motion was put asking the members to "take note" of the regulations and approve the government's line.
The question went to division and, with its in-built government majority, the committee voted the motion through. The deed was done, the minister got his mandate and no one was any the wiser.
That is parliamentary scrutiny of EU legislation !

Thursday, February 24


''Please can we have no more complaints about the pauses in Tony Blair's speeches. They are the best parts.''

Recent letter to the Daily Telegraph

Sunday, February 20


This blog is about very British Subjects.
We guarantee to be:
controversial, entertaining and occasionally humorous

Mission Impossible

According to the fragrant Margot Wallstrom commissioner for truth and reconcilliation, '' The UK is full of hate ........''

If they are relying on this particular commissioner for their information, however, people are going to remain ignorant – which is perhaps what advocates of the EU really want.
The fair commissioner, who is responsible for pushing through the controversial European constitution, has likened her task to "dressing Frankenstein's monster".These, apparently, are her first public remarks about a job that will keep her busy for the next 18 months. She told a press conference in Brussels that the British would prove particularly sceptical.
"The UK is filled with hatred towards the EU institutions," she said. "But I consider this 'mission irresistible', not 'mission impossible'."
Extracted from '' The UK is full of hate '' by Dr Richard North

These Green and Pleasant Isles

A week-end essay, a ramble around a theme.

The world, I recently read, is divided into 193 sovereign nations; 61 dependent areas and 6 disputed territories. The definition of a 'sovereign nation' is a controversial issue. If because of the UK's membership of the EU the question arises, is our country indeed still fully, or partly, sovereign. This is a hotly argued topic which is often confused by the misuse of terms and the accusations of 'myths'.

What is the name of our nation ?

Great Britain, the United Kingdom and the British Isles do not mean the same thing, but the two former are included in the latter. The United Kingdom consists of Great Britain - the main Island made up of England, Scotland and Wales - and Northern Ireland (Ulster) while the British Isles also includes Ireland and the Channel Islands as well as the Isle of Man.The Untied Kingdom was established on 1 January 1801.

The Channel Isles which consists of Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney, and Sark enjoy a somewhat complex constitutional status with the Crown. The islands known as Bailiwicks are not a part of the UK, they have their own parliaments known as 'The States' and a Governor appointed by the Crown. The channel islanders constitutional status dates back to William the Conqueror who as Duke of Normandy ruled over the Islands off, what is now the French coast.

The Isle of Man, in the North Sea has a similar status to that of the Channel Islands. Neither the Channel Islands nor the Isle of Man are member states of the EU, though because of the close practical links with the UK British Subjects in the Islands are effected by the 1,000 pages of the all expanding 'access communautaire' that plagues Her Majesty's loyal subjects in the UK.

The population of the United Kingdom according to the census of 2001 is 60,094,648 and is currently growing at the annual rate of 0.21 per cent per annum. The census is inaccurate by at least one since I returned my census questionnaire marked 'nil return' because I was unhappy about the invasion of my privacy. The warnings that I would be prosecuted unfortunately came to nothing, perhaps the civil servants are still considering my arguments regarding the breach of my human rights and a closer argued clause in the Bill of Rights of 1689.

Whilst, still just about, on the subject of names 'Europe' (named after a Phoenician princess, Europa, who was according to Greek legend - abducted by Zeus, a 'father of the gods') one must not get confused with the European Union (EU). The EU, that most audacious political project of modern times: the plan to unite the nations and people of Europe under a single centralised government should not be confused with Europe, the geographical continent.

So where does all this take us ? The dear reader of this blog may well ask, all I can offer is knowledge is beneficial. I sometimes over concern my self at the lack of basic knowledge of British Subjects. I read recently in The Independent that according to a recent servey 11 percent of the population believe that Adolph Hitler never existed and 9 per cent believe that neither did Winston Churchill. Depressing !

To the 12.1 million British Subjects that currently have access to the Internet from home I trust that a few of you have found this site and more than one has got to the end of this posting.

The 'week-end essay' will be a regular feature of this blog. Guest columnists most welcome.


Marks and Spencer recently confirmed that aproximatly 45 bras and 60 pairs of knickers are sold in their retail stores every minute during opening hours in the British Isles.

This fact begs one question and one statement:

Why are knickers 'pairs' whilst bras are not ?

Since M & S is underperforming on the 'High Street' then clearly thongs can only get better !


The French Are Revolting - Again.

French revolt as 'British invasion' drives up property prices
By Kim Willsher in Paris.
Breton villages protested yesterday against an "invasion" of Britons blamed for pushing up property prices and forcing out locals.Around 100 people took to the streets of Bourbriac and called on all "proud French natives" to express their anger at "colonisation".
They demanded more low-cost housing, criticised estate agents for "market speculation" and set fireto piles of property magazines.The protest was part of a growing backlash against the increasing number of Britons moving to rural France.
It came six months after hostility to settlers erupted with "Brits out" and "Anglais integres, oui. Colons, non!" [Integrated English, yes. Colonisers, no!] slogans daubed on walls in the village near the Armor coast.Bourbriac is now home to about 700 Britons, 100 Germans and Dutch, among a French population of 1,200.Maiwenne Salomon, one of the protest organisers, said the demonstration was not racist or xenophobic.
"Our problem is not with the British in general, it's with the people who arrive here, who don't speak French, who don't mix, don't take part in the life of the community and who create Anglo-Saxon ghettos where they keep them selves tothemselves," she said.
"It's been complete madness over the last few years with foreigners, particularly the Anglo-Saxons, arriving in incredible numbers."The result of this has been that property prices have rocketed in the whole of Britanny and Bretons themselves can't find anywhere to live, whether it's to rent or to buy."She said that the cost of buying a home had risen by up to 600 per cent.
Still talking in francs, rather than euros, Mrs Salomon, added: "You used to be able to buy a small house which needed some work on it for around 50,000 francs [£5,000]. Now it's impossible to find anything - even if it needs completely renovating - for less than 300,000."This has had a knock-on effect on properties for rent. Even if you could find somewhere, the monthly rent is far too high for most ordinary families to pay.
"I've got friends living in caravans because they can't afford to live anywhere else."Flysheets advertising the demonstration, distributed by a Breton nationalist organisation calling itself the Trégor-Golelo Group demanded an end to property speculation. "Housing for Bretons, not for settlers," it proclaimed.
"Those of us in the most precarious situation - the young, the badly paid - are suffering the worst.
We know that this explosion in the property market is linked to two factors. Firstly there is the massive arrival of the rich and well-to-do from England, France and elsewhere.
"Secondly we are well aware that the estate agents and solicitors are doing everything to persuade us to sell up and they continue to advertise across the Channel to keep filling their pockets."The organisation called for a series of measures, one of them that local authorities should exercise their right to buy properties at a fixed price and resell them to locals. Its criticism was not confined to foreigners and it called for measures to stop "our compatriots selling our country for profit".
"We have to make them aware of the social consequences of what they are doing when they sell at mind-blowing prices to those who neither live nor work here."
A census last year showed that about 100,000 Britons live in France. This figure does not include children or those owning holiday homes.

Telegraph Group Limited. Via DY Distribution.

ID Cards - Party Political

From the Editor's desk.
The government has spent public money on opinion poll research to help sell its unpopular ID cards to reluctant voters long before the scheme was passed by parliament.
Taxpayer-funded pollsters actually argued with their interviewees in an attempt to persuade them that ID cards were a good idea, as well as offering the government some very handy properganda points with which to win over voters.
The surveys ''objectives'', and modus operandi uncovered by Lib Dem home affairs spokesman Mark Oaten MP, were to investigate ''motivations and barriers to acceptance of identity/entitlement cards and ideas about how they can most effectivly be presented to the public in any future publicity campaign''.
Civil Service guidelines clearly state that polls should not be used for any party political purposes. As the surveys were conducted before Parliament voted on ID cards, the research was clearly party political.
I shall support Mark Oaten on this issue at write a letter to my MP.
As in my previous communications to The Rt Hon. Member for Sedgfield I shall offer to discuss my point in the Dun Cow over a pint of traditional real ale. However, since I am not a head of State my offer is likely to receive the same response as my previous requests, that being of no reply !
Anyway, must dash, I am off to the hunt meet at the village green, tally ho.

Shhhh It's Open Government

The Government's information and nationality directive has issued instructions to staff on how they will be affected by the freedom of information act, which came into force in January this year.

The instructions, circulated on the Home Offices internal 'intanet' system are proceded by a dire warning to civil servents.

'' Staff should on no account disclose any parts of this (document) to any one out side of a goverment department.''


The Myth of Troy

Cassandra was the beautiful daughter of the King of Troy, Priam.
She had been given the power to fortell the future by the god Apollo. However, Apollo who had chosen to instruct this fair mortal woman also wanted to win her affections. Casandra accepted Apollo as a teacher but was less than keen on him as a lover.
Apollo was upset and like male mortals he took rejection badly. He used his powers as a god to punish Cassandra by making everone who heard her true predictions belive that they were hearing lies.
Thus, in spite of Casandra's warnings about the fall of Troy, the Trojans ignored her and made the fateful mistake of accepting the gift of the infamous Wooden Horse from their Greek enemies.

Young Persons Competition

What does it mean to be a British Subject ?
Young people (up to the age of 22) are invited to submit a 500 -1000 words on 'what it means to be a British Subject'. The entry that is deemed by the panel of Judges (which will consist of The Editor and one other 'pressed' person) deemed to be the most in keeping with the style of this blog will win an unusual yet exciting prize - a flight over (some of) Her Majesty's Realm in a light Aircraft.
The Judges' decision will be final. The closing date is 12 noon, 28 February 2005. Pieces should be submitted by email as attachments to
Further details, if required, please send an email to the address above.
No resposablity can be accepted for anything,
this blog is a compensation free zone.

The Sunday Quote

''A committee is a group of people who keep minutes, waste hours, and create a cull-de-sac down which ideas are lured and then quietly strangled''

Milton Berle (1908-2002) Comment in The New Statesman 1973.

My reaction to the well known comment by that prolific commentator of human behaviour, Anonymous, that camels are horses designed by a committee is that it is unfair to camels.
I learnt to respect camels (often referred to as ships of the desert) during my days travelling in North Africa. Camels, the true aristocrats of the desert are above being designed - clearly they naturally evolved by supreme self determination.

Saturday, February 19


This blog is about very British Subjects.
We guarantee to be:
controversial, entertaining and occasionally humorous

Living in a Buble

by Dr Helen Szamuely

The egregious Mark Leonard is at it again. He is about to publish a new pamphlet, co-authored with Andrew Small and Martin Rose. Entitled Public Diplomacy in the ‘Age of Schisms’, it is due out in March but I have received a prepublication blurb for it. I cannot resist sharing it with our readers:

“The damage done to Britain's world image by the Iraq war and the emergence of new global schisms necessitates a new strategy for British public diplomacy, according to the pamphlet authors. [sic] They argue that Britain must rethink the way it communicates with international publics to prevent a gap emerging between its own perception of itself as a principled power committed to multilateralism and how other nations view it.
Fascinating. These people should get out more. (And learn about the possessive case.)
Exactly, why do they think that Britain’s participation in the liberation of Iraq and contribution to the first democratic election in that country’s history should have harmed her image?
What might seriously harm that image would be getting enmeshed in the EU’s common foreign policy, which consists of being extremely chummy with Fidel Castro and lifting the arms embargo on China, not to mention the never-ending and laughable one-sided negotiations with the Mullahs of Iran.
Then there is the communication with international publics. What on earth are they? Do they mean the international great and the good, NGOs, media and tranzis? Then why don’t they say so? How can you have an international public?
A public exists within a certain social and political structure and in a very large part of the world it does not exist at all, since the structures of many states militate against that.There is, of course, a public emerging in the Middle East, largely thanks to various actions by the coalition led by the United States, in which Britain has taken a strong and active part.That is principled activity. Being committed to multilateralism is supporting the corrupt and self-serving international and transnational bureaucracy of such wonderfully principled organizations as the United Nations, now embroiled in numerous scandals or the NGOs, whose collective behaviour after the tsunami has called their very existence into question.
I do not suppose Mr Leonard is interested in my advice but if he were, I should tell him to get out more. Living in a bubble is bad for one’s mental faculties.
Dr Helen Szamuely is co-editor of 'eu referendum'.

From the Farm

Recent letter to 'The Journal' from the Editor of this Blog.

This week is the fourth anniversary of the Foot and Mouth crises that caused so much devastation to rural Britain. A full public enquuary so ernestly demanded by many newspapers and pressure groups was not granted by the government. Thus much of the mismanagemrnt of the crises remains unexposed.

Even before the epidemic, with its ghastly images of waste and destruction British agriculture was (and remains) a dying industry. Farming has struggled under the onslaught of successive crises -the effects of the Common Agricultural Policy and its bureaucratic demands; food scares from salmonella to BSE ; the spread of intensive farming and the concentration of buying power in the hands of the retail giants.- the British Agricultural industry is on its knees.

There is a breath of life left in the corps of British Farming but only if clear and successful policies covering land management, subsidies, and government controls are formulated.

More meaningful decisions concerning the countryside should be taken at local level, only then will our Agricultural Industry stand a chance of full recovery.

Friday, February 18

Fox Hunting

A comment from Josephine White.
If the hunting ban was genuinely motivated by a love of animals, I might have had some sympathy. Gracious, no-one approves of cruelty to animals. But the Bill was purely class driven. In a toss up between a few dead foxes and the right of Rural England to selfdetermination, Rural England wins hands down. The anti-hunt campaigners do not know what they've done. Whilst they mayhave muzzled the hunting dogs, they may well have unleashed the far nastierdogs of civil war. Remember that poem about the Saxon and his plough?
The Countryside will not forget this... Ever!
Indeed, Ed.

Thursday, February 17

Totaly Rejected in 'Totality'

The UK's largest member business organisation with over 185,000 members, which last year recruited 32,683 new members, confirms in it's annual report that lobbying for business issues continues to be an increasingly competitive activity. In a glossy Annual Report published for the AGM next month the Federation's Policy Chairman, on page 6 states:

''We have a long established policy of retaining the pound in the UK and following a debate at the National Conference last March. on the EU Constitution, the Policy Committee and the then National Council { both of the FSB, ed } have adopted a position of calling on the UK Government not to implement the Constitution for the UK. This was very much driven by business reasons rather than the totality of the Constitution.''

A motion at the FSB's 2004 conference calling on the government not to sign the constitutional treaty was carried by 104,178 to 5310 { branch delegates carry block votes based upon branch membership} The massive 95 percent victory was a true reflection of the attitude of the nations small business community.

The editor of this blog spoke in support of the motion saying:

'' If the EU Constitution is ratified it will signal, in effect, the end of the United Kingdom as a self governing nation''.

As this blog will continue to point out the totality of the constitution, for business and for reasons of good governance 'The Treaty Establishing A Constitution For Europe'' is a threat to the future prosperity of British Subjects.

Of course it is the totality of the EU Constitution which is the threat to the future prosperity of our nation, as any one who has read and understood it's 560 pages (including annexes and protocols) should confirm.

Wednesday, February 16

Dedicated Accounts

Lloyds TSB is apparently launching an 'Islamic current account' to help cater for the banking needs of Britain's two million Muslims. The bank state that it is the first step towards offering a dedicated range of Islamic financial services to Muslims.

This blogg is very keen to see that all sections of the community are adequately catered for in all aspects of life and that no groups are disadvantaged.

The question is in what way are Muslim's banking needs different from other members of our community? Is there a need for other religious groups to have dedicated financial products? How would a member of an other religion be accommodated if he or she applied for an Islamic account ?
We are genuinely interested in the implications of Lloyds TSB's marketing decision and look forward to more 'dedicated' bank accounts particularly one for would be entrepreneurs with no money or capital.

Of Councils and Confussion

The European Council

The Prime Minister is concerned about so called 'urban myths' regarding the European Union (EU). The real problem is not so much 'myths' but an ongoing misunderstanding of the institutions of the EU.

Misunderstandings are actually understandable since the descriptions and definitions of the EU's principle segments all have confusing and similar titles. Since the EU is a fundamental, arguably the most fundamental, part of the governance of the UK an appreciation of the structures - however confusing - is essential to all but those that prefer to remain blissfully unaware, which actually does have advantages but it is not a desirable condition.

This is the first of a series of weekly briefs, this communication looks at The European Council
- not to be confused with other European segments of a similar name.

To explain:

The European Council was informally established in 1970 as an institution of the then EEC, but it did not become formally recognised until the Maastricht Treaty - Title I Article D, whence it became a formal institution of the European Union. Its tasks, as set out in the Treaty, are "to provide the Union with the necessary impetus for its development" and to "define the general political guidelines thereof".
The European Council must be distinguished from the Council of the European Union - otherwise known as "the Council", and is of course entirely separate from The Council of Europe, the latter of which is not a segment of the European Union and is separate from the EU, even though it established the now familiar EU flag and adopted Beethoven's coral sympathy which is now the anthem of the EU. As they say in the East End of London both were 'alf inched' by The Council of the European Union. I suppose that should be half 10 centimetres but it would not rhyme (nor reason).

Confused, don't worry, so are a lot of journalists who often get it wrong. So dear British Subject, one can be forgiven for being both confused and apathetic.As regards its formal role in treaty making, the European Council has no competence (i.e., power). It's sole role is to convene an Inter Governmental Conference (IGC), which it can do by a majority decision which is the formal body which negotiates the treaties such as Maastricht , Niece and Amsterdam, the details of which impact on all 'citizens' of Europe.
What is further confusing is that the European Council and the IGC have the same membership - heads of states and governments. The difference is that, constituted as the European Council, they represent the collective will of the European Union (in theory at least) while as an IGC they represent the interests of their member states. That's important and my dear reader may wish to re-read that point.The European Council has no formal powers to impose its decisions on member states, and its decisions are not "judicable" under the European Court of Justice. It certainly cannot make or amend treaties, and cannot impose a treaty - or any of its provisions - on any party to an IGC.

Blissful ignorance may still remain an option, this is understandable. However, since the EU is apart of the governance of the UK ones conclusions as to the desirability or otherwise of the status quo are better made with an understanding of who and how we are governed, as confusing as all it may be.

Next Wednesday we will look at the European Court of Justice, not to be confused with the European Court of Human Rights.

The following week the subject will be the EU Parliament or is it an Assembly ?

Tuesday, February 15

ID Card Legislation

ID Card Bill clears the House of Commons.

The ID Card Bill has, in an amended form, has cleared the entire procedure and gone to the House of Lords, where we hope, their lordships will examine it a little more carefully than our elected representatives have done.
The final vote after the Third Reading was: 224 for with 64 against. Sharp-eyed readers will have noted that adds up to 288 votes. This means that 368 MPs could not be bothered to vote one way or another on something as profoundly serious as the introduction of an ID card in the United Kingdom.They were about to rise for their half-term hols but that is not precisely an excuse. Unless, of course, they are hoping that the House of Lords and the tight legislative timetable caused by the forthcoming elections will save them from their own ignominy.

Extracted from:

Sunday, February 13

Allergies Vaccine

Many millions of People ( including the editor of this Blog) could be freed from the misery of allergies following ground-breaking research by Scottish scientists.

The Aberdeen based researchers have developed a vaccine that for potentially life threatening conditions ranging from asthma to nut allergy and including hayfever and foil alergy and many other allergies that cause misery to large numbers of people in the western World.

Dr Mark Vickers and his team at the Aberdeen University's Institute of Medical Science have discovered a way of fooling the body's immune system into ignoring particles that can cause allergies.

The break through is a significant step forward in medical science and will provide a meaningful improvement to people with intolerance to allergens such as nuts, pollen and wheat.

One can only hope that the EU Commission do not legislate to prevent this cure being made available which clearly is going to be good for my fellow hayfevor sufferers. I jest not neither do I promote a myth.

The Guinness advertising slogan ''Guinness is good for you'' is about to be outlawed in a regulation currently going through the 'system' in the European Parliament. What is the connection, well I am reliably informed that the 'Guinness Research Foundation' was a principle sponsor of the research program at Aberdeen University.

As one researcher, microbiologist and 'senior' eurosceptic will confirm there is no known cure to the allergy that infects so many 'eurofiles' other than a regular dose of understanding.

Of Sage and Armadillos

Labour's six pledges, announced at The Sage conference centre, in Gateshead this week-end are designed to promote a ''feel good factor''.
The Sage known locally as 'The armadillo' because of the distinctive shape of the building - in contrast to the performance of Labour's senior politicians who all performed very predictably this week-end.
There were no specifics and no detail. No numbers of Police to be recruited and no details of how hospital waiting lists are to be cut.
The Election co-ordinator, North East MP Alan Milburn, denied that the pledges were vague pointing out to Chris Lloyd the political edited of The Northern Echo that each pledge was backed up a set of concrete commitments drawn from departmental five -year plans.
What is both interesting and inevitable is that the issue of EU membership, or any obvious reference has been airbrushed out off the agenda.
The theme to Labour's campaign is in effect that people will all feel better with another four years under a Labour government.
Mr Blair may well not as he repeated many times at the 'Spring conference' be ''taking victory for granted'', however what the PM can take for granted that the Conservative Leader is short on quality advise. Saturday's documentary on Michael Howard provided ample evidence of the fundermental flaw in the Tory campaign; a lack of fresh ideas.
Police were left looking very red faced when a 'Fathers 4 Justice' campaigner broke through the vast Police security cordon and climbed onto the top of the Tyne Bridge. For pure cheek the 'Fathers 4 Justice' deserve the prize of the soudbite of the week-end their spokesman said:
'' The Police spent £3m on security and it took a man in a £30 fancy dress costume to breach it''.
Oh well, it can only get better - simply because it can not possibly get much worse.

Prize Quote Competition

The first correct answer posted on the comments page will win a book by the author.

Who wrote:

''The nice thing about quotes is that they give us a nodding acquaintance with the originator which is often socialy impressive.''

Competition closes when the correct answer is posted. The Judge is the editor of this Blog whos decision is final, so there !

Congratulations And All That

This Blog offers congratulations on the forthcomming nuptials of H.R.H. Charles, The Prince of Wales and Mrs Camilla Parker Bowles.
The only regret of the editor of Very British Subjects is the dominance of irritating soap opera comments in the majority of the British and indeed also the international press since the announcement from Clarence House on Thursday dominated the press when other more serious issues were a foot!
Whilst the EU Constitutional Treaty Bill was granted a second reading in The House of Commons the majority of hacks, some of whom should know better, were commenting on a non existant 'crisis' brought about by a Royal Wedding in April.
If, however, there is to be sensible debate on who is to be our future head of State I will introduce, for I hope a quality discussion, a return to the system of an elected head of state elected that is from a candidate list drawn from the ruling Royal Family. This was the system before the invasion (thats the Norman in 1066) it was very successful and could sit easerly within the Parliamentary democracy still operating (just about) in the UK.
The ancient assembly was called a 'Moot' ( from which a moot point is derived) and those that could cast a vote were called Jarl's ( early Earls). The anglo-saxon (unelected) assembly's decision was confirmed by public acclimation at a Coronation (i) - which remains a fundermental element in the crowning of British monarchs to this day.
This perhaps, very British of compromises, would introduce an element of democracy into the selection of our Head of State without any of the unpopular and more extreme elements of republicanism.
So, dear reader, if, you are still with me, if there is to be a sensible debate on the future of the monarchy in our septered isle - let it contain 'moot points' and a debate on a return to anglo-saxon traditions blended with ancient British systems rather than those corrupted by French (sorry Norman and Bretton) occupying forces in the eleventh centry.
As Mr. Read (ii) often said , discuss quietly.


i) At the Corination of William I - The Conquerer - on Christmas day 1066 in Westminster Abbey the people were enthusiastic about the Norman Duke being crowned King of England, principally on practical grounds since the English Army had been desimated near Hastings a few months previously and further resistance against what was then the effective military force in western Europe would have been ill advised.

In the English traditional manner the people 'acclaimed' William as King by shouting support at the apointed time in the ceremony, the occupying Norman soldiers took the shout as a threat (from contempory accounts it was deafening) and promptly burnt the nearby wooden buildings to the ground and massacered many loyal subjects, in order to 'subdue the rebellion'. Public enquries had not yet been invented but had one been granted the outcome would have been put down to a misunderstanding in communications from which 'lessons had been learnt'. Sometimes one simply can't win.
ii) Mr John Read was my Latin and History Master at my Prep School, Manor House, Hanwell London W7 in the 1960's. Mr Read could not of been any thing other that a Prep School Master, a classic Mr Chips - his teachings remain frimly implanted in my mind. My early History mentor sadly died in July 1970 a few weeks after the election of the Heath government, at Mr Read's funeral I commented to my former headmaster ''well Sir, at least he saw a return of a Conservative Government.''
I, of course never heard an expleaitve uttered from this most gentlemen of gentlemen but had he lived to have witnessed the passing into law of the most treasonable act of deception, The Eropean Communities Act of 1972 I suspect I would have heard some very anglo-saxon terms prefixinng 'discuss, quietly'. Indeed !
Peter Troy, Editor of 'Very British Subjects'.

Imperial - Better by Miles

We have noticed an alarming increase in the number of metric road signs erected by local authorites accross HM's Realm in recent years. This is merication by stelth; not only is it underhand and unsafe it is also illegal.
The 1994 regulations, that govern road distance signs, are indeed current and clear - they specifically state that the only units to be used in signs indicating distances on roads to which the public have access are miles, yards, feet and inches.
This blog will eagerly take up any illegal metric sign (literaly if needed) that are reported to us.
This blog is an action blog, boldly to go where no other blog has been before in defence of very British Subjects, from all geograpical locations, ethnic groups and all socia-economic clasification (what ever that means). We are unashamed suporters of the UK's Condtitutional Monarchy. We defend absolutly the right to fee speech (including erofiles and republicans). We have a positive policy on infinatives which we never knowingly split. - Ed.

The Sunday Quote

''As far as I can see you have used every cliché except 'God is Love' and 'please adjust your dress before leaving'. ''

Churchill on a long winded report from Eden reported, in 'Life' 9 December 1940.

One could make the same comments on Tony Blair's 'Six Pledges' announced for the General Election at The Sage Gateshead on Friday. Ed.

Saturday, February 12

Six Vague Pledges

Prime Minister Tony Blair has laid his cards on the table, in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, by unveiling Labour's six pledges for a general election. The six 'pledges' have been attacked in the North East Press for being too ''vague''.

The Labour Party spring conference is bring held at The Sage in Gatshead - a modern conference centre attended by some 3,000 delegates.

This blog will take a close look at Lobour's pledges over the next few says, particularly the Government's ID Cards legislation.

Bookmakers Wiliam Hill anouced today that they have stopped taking bets on the result of a 5 May election commenting that it is a certainty that Labour will win. My requast to lay a bet on the outcome of the EU Constitutional referendum was declined since the 'book' was not yet open.

More during the week-end ....................... Ed.

Friday, February 11

Swan Song or Dead Duck

by Dr Richard North

He must be quackers, but what do you expect of Denis MacShame who, hot foot from the Commons where he has been debating the European Union Bill, arrived in Swansea yesterday to unveil Britain's EU presidency logo.
And what is it to be? An animated flock of swans flying in a V-shape formation on an EU's blue background with the words "UK Presidency of the EU 2005" in yellow.
Costing £10,000 to design, by the summer it will adorn everything from stationery, paper weights, ties, cuff links and umbrellas and should become synonymous with the UK presidency.Said the egregious MacShame, "The design concept is swans in flight. They fly in a beautiful V-formation but they always change their leader, and that is very like Europe," adding that the image of the swans, and the team work and leadership it represented, was a metaphor which set out the UK vision for Europe.
How prescient was Keats, observing how "oft have you seen a swan superbly frowning", and frowning they must be at their images to be used for such a tawdry purpose.And while we're into metaphors, MacShame had better hope there is no wandering Parsifal abroad, "with bows and arrows fashioned with his own hands", to shoot at the flocks of birds.
Otherwise, the logo will be a dead duck, symbolising the swan song of the project.And is it relevant, we wonder, to recall that, in Wagner's opera, Parsifal was a German?

Wednesday, February 9

The Voice of North

Dr North on Radio 4 this morning.

Why we must say no.

Richard North said:

The case for the "no" sideThis constitutional treaty is part of an ongoing process – it is just one more step in a project aimed at creating a government of Europe, devised by the political élites, without the informed assent of their peoples.
Completion will mean the end of us as a self-governing country. Britain will be relegated to the status of a county council, subordinate to a central government in Brussels.

That is the danger. It we allow this treaty through, there will be another one behind, and another – as many as it takes to get to the destination. Insiders are already saying they want another treaty within a few years. The last commission even produced a detailed report on what it should contain.We have seen this before. And each time a new treaty is agreed, this nation loses more power.

We lose 63 vetoes in this treaty, bringing the total to 200 so far. How many more next time?This referendum, therefore, is the opportunity – perhaps the last opportunity – to stop the process before it is too late. But that won’t mean we leave the EU – far from it. It will simply mean that we have stopped the express train of European integration. It will give us, the people of Europe, time to work out what we really want.

So, unless you want to be on board a runaway train, set to smash into the buffers, now is the time to pull the communication cord. That is why we must say “no” to the constitution.

For a transcript of the relevant parts of the broadcast see:

The Last Deep Mine

Ellington colliery, the last deep mine in the north-east is to close with the loss of more than 300 jobs. This is embarrassing for at least three of the regions MP's Blair, Milburn and Byers - remember him.

When Stephen Byers was a minister at the Department of Trade and Industry he negotiated an expensive funding package to keep the mine going and miners were assured of many more years of work as Ellington had a steady contract to provide coal to the near by Alca aluminium works.

The abrupt decision by UK Coal to shut the colliery has been blamed on ''serious flooding, which local workers claim has been halted and that the pit is very workable.

Ellington has joined the growing list of pit closures. Coal mining is now an industry of the past and Labour's none to distant promises of ''investment in clean coal technology'' has been spun into the history books and replaced with service industries.

One such example of a replacement employer is the leading law firm Plowden which specialises in personal injury and employment law. The firm has relocated its team of 22 barristers and 12 administrative staff from London to the north-east. The reason for the move 'up North' is the is an explosion of litigation for industrial diseases suffered by ex-miners in the region.

It is a funny old world.

A Lesson in History

The Conservative Party Shadow Education Secretary Tim Collins recently called for compulsory history lessons for children upto the age of 16.

This blog agrees. Unless childeren are taught history they will never know what the Tory party was.

Many teachers may not want however to include ancient history, arguing that it has no relevance to childern's lives today !

Businesses Reject The Constitution

The UK business community remains concerned about the effects of the EU Constitution if it were to be ratified by the British people in a referendum expected to be held next year.

Alan Jones the Press Association (PA) Industrial Correspondent reports on the Scotsman web site yesterday that Business Chiefs are still sceptical over the EU constitution.
Most business leaders remain sceptical about the EU Constitution with fewer than one in three prepared to sign up, a new report published yesterday confirmed. The Institute of Directors said a survey of 1,000 of its members revealed that only 25% knew how they would be voting.Director general Miles Templeman said: "The Government faces a major challenge if it is to convince businesses they would be better off with an EU Constitution."

The PA does not report that the country's largest business organisation The Federation of Small Businesses (185.000 members) at its annual conference last year voted by over 80 per cent not recommend ratification of the Constitutional Treaty. Last Autumn the Federation's ruling body agreed, with only two abstentions, to adopt as policy rejection of the EU Constitution. Red tape from Brussels appeared to be a major reason for business scepticism, with almost nine out of 10 of those surveyed expecting regulation to increase under the new Constitution.

What businesses leaders are increasingly being made aware of is that rather than reducing the current burden of detailed regulations and directives emanating from Brussels this burden is likely to increase with the wider powers that could be granted to the EU Commission under the constitution treaty.

As any business practitioner will confirm it is not only the number of regulations that is the problem but the difficulty of amending such regulations when circumstances change. There is no point in lobbying MEPs - they can ask the EU Commission for permission to introduce new or amending legislation but the EU Parliament (really no more than an assembly) can not act through its own initiative. One might just as well 'ask the man in the moon'.

The Cabinet Office based Better Regulation Task Force made much of its 'success' in proposing in the original draft of the constitution (article 1-35) that a 'sunset clause' which would enable regulations to laps after a certain period of time and only be expended after reconsideration. Good news indeed.

However, the 'Sunset clause' was removed from the draft and does not appear in the final Treaty agreed by Mr Blair on 29 October 05. The reason for the removal was on the grounds that the clause ' would be a source of uncertainty and a problem for legal security.'

No wonder British businesses have concern about the centralising approach of the EU Constitution and the obvious likelihood of no let up in the regulatory burden.

More on the EU Constitution later

With thanks to The British Management Data Foundation and The Press Association

Tuesday, February 8

Shrove Tuesday

Hundreds of people today took to the streets in the old market town of Sedfefield, close to where I live, for the annual Shrove Tuesday ball game.
The 1,000 year-old tradition is a quaint old village passtime that is a part of the local heritage.
Clearly the local Police were concerned at possible breaches of the peace. I have not seen as many Police Officers in the town since President Bush called in for lunch in the autumn of 2003.
My observation was of a larege group of yobs well tanked up with larger fighting over a football on the green. Perhaps that was also the sceen 1,000 years ago minus that is the men and women in fluoresent jackets, which look so dammed silly.

Monday, February 7

Up Front Levy

Many of us who live in the counnry will forget the ghastly images of wasre and distruction of the Foot and Mouth desease of four years ago. Dor many businesses the crises is still a reality.

Settlements have been reached with 73 contractors, with savings to Defra totalling £40m.

But the remaining bills - together worth £260m - are still under investigation, with a number of contractors facing court action and Defra hopeful of clawing back a further £17m at least, according to the report by Whitehall spending watchdog the National Audit Office.

The foot-and-mouth outbreak cost the UK a total of more than £3bn, and the Government came under fire for providing excessive compensation to farmers for the culling of six million animals.

The European Commission last year rejected a Defra claim for £960m compensation for the cull, agreeing to pay only £350m because it believed that farmers had been given payouts worth two to three times the true value of their slaughtered livestock.

Defra is currently considering the introduction of a levy to ensure that industry shoulders a proportion of the cost of any future animal disease epidemic.
As always, we pay for the failure of politicians and civil servants - but not normally up front.

Sunday, February 6

What is it about Kilroy?

by Dr. Helen Szamuely

The man excites the most extraordinary passions and I cannot quite understand why.

When one looks at the ridiculously personalized attacks in the media one is lost in admiration: how can one man get so many talentless hacks quite so excited?When Robert Kilroy-Silk first announced that he was joining UKIP and standing for the European Parliament, a perfectly sensible friend said to me that it is a bad idea as the British people do not really take to people like him.

Excuse me, I pointed out, but he has run an exceedingly popular TV programme for 17 years. If that is a sign of unpopularity and the British people not liking him then I am the Queen of Sheba. (No comments please about that – I am not.)Is it the fact that the man is successful? There are plenty of successful people around, though not necessarily in politics or, for that matter, journalism. Is it that he refuses to play up to the prevailing trend and never puts on a “cheeky-chappie” persona? Could be.

Is it that he knows his own worth? Well yes, that is a heinous crime in the British media, unless you happen to be a film actor (of either sex) who comes back from Hollywood, tail between legs, to explain that he or she could not cope with tinseltown’s ethos. (More like they didn’t want you, the reader longs to shout, but this rubbish does get written up solemnly.)Or perhaps it is the insouciance with which he stands up and rubbishes the entire media-political establishment, a view with which many people out in the big bad world are in sympathy– something that denizens of that world cannot admit to.Coupled with that is the man’s palpable contempt for the hacks. He, let us recall, was a reasonably successful politician who got out because the Labour Party was being taken over by the Militant Tendency, while many of his colleagues knuckled under.

He became a very successful media personality, journalist and businessman, who was dropped by the BBC because of his opinions. His former colleagues, though, knuckle under. When Kilroy rubbishes the journos before him, he makes it clear that he knows what they are up to as he is one of them himself.

Unspoken behind that comment, pronounced with Mack the Knife-type geniality is another one: but I am successful and you are not or you would not be here.Much of this was obvious at that famous launch that everyone has an opinion about.

As I watched the third party launch of my life in politics, I could not help noting the differences.The biggest of these was the presence of representatives of all the biggies in the media. The place was packed with journalists, photographers, cameramen. Alan Sked, who was rather good with the media could not have managed anything like that.

The post-Sked leadership of UKIP mostly receive publicity when they put their foot in it (vide Godfrey Bloom), with the exception of Nigel Farage and his entirely admirable attack on the new Commissioners’ probity. (Even he managed to get things wrong and has not been capable of moving on to another subject.)

But Kilroy did it.

The launch of his party was covered by every newspaper, every agency, every TV channel. And they hated it. The man was attacking politicians and their lies but all his listeners knew that the media has been complicit in those lies.

The journos had come to the launch to write two stories: one was about Kilroy’s tan, the other about Kilroy getting tough on immigration, that is, somehow, necessarily a racist policy.I shall not comment on the tan – I know nothing about it.

But I did think it was a bit silly to keep harping on about immigration as if it was still a taboo subject. Somebody asked Kilroy whether he could compare himself with Enoch Powell and whether he thought Powell had been a racist.One longed to go up to the little chap or chapess and say: “Powell died some years ago. Get over it.” Kilroy did not put it quite like that but informed the questioner that Veritas intended to look forward and not back. He wondered whether he was going to be compared to Genghis Khan. (Actually, that would not be a bad thing. The man was an extremely successful military and political leader.)

Andrew Gimson of the Daily Telegraph thought the comparison with Powell was perfectly reasonable since both men were talking about immigration. Mr Gimson should get out more.

An awful lot of people are talking about immigration.The subject has become a big topic across the whole of Europe. Politicians in the Netherlands, to mention one country, are grappling with the subject and I doubt that any of them have even heard of Enoch Powell.

Then there was Colm Toîbin of the Times who asked if Kilroy had spoken the truth in his entire career. Coming from a journalist that is quite an interesting question. No, he was told, as a Labour spokesman, Kilroy had had to defend all sorts of daft things, like unilateral disarmament.

Where does all this knock-about stuff leave Veritas?

Its political future is hard to predict, since much depends on circumstances the party and its leader have no control over. For example, what the Conservative Party will do or say in the election campaign.It is, however, undeniably true that the proportion of people in this country who bother to vote is going down.

The reason is clearly not that electors can no longer manage to work out where the polling station is but that they do not think it is worth their while to put a cross on that piece of paper. Much of that stems from a confused and imprecise but, nevertheless, accurate understanding that the people we elect are not the ones who legislate.

The gap between the people and the political elite in this country has not been this wide for a very long time and there probably is place for another party somewhere in there.

The question is what is the party stands for. The notion that you can campaign on something called British values is silly. What are they? Fox-hunting? Fish and chips? Going to bingo? Getting drunk on Fridays and Saturdays? Tending to your garden? Doing DIY? Warm beer and bad food? Ice-cold lager and somewhat better food? Who knows.

The main problem, it seems to me, is the basic notion of “listening to the people”. Of course, politicians ought to have some idea of what it is people want, but forming policies on that basis and nothing else gives you a bar-room manifesto.

Some basic political ideas must be present as well. In fact, that is the problem with the main parties as far as most voters are concerned – they have no ideas and no convictions.If Veritas is to survive and thrive, it must come up with a notion of what sort of country it would like to see.

Yes, we want to get out of the euro-mess. But what do we do afterwards?Without imitating or stealing their clothes, Veritas could look at the newly announced Conservative fisheries policy, that tries to answer that very question.
Then do what the Tories seem unable to do and look at other topics in the same way. Perhaps, a good starting point would be that we want to see a free people in a free country; a people who are self-reliant in a country that takes its place proudly in the world.

Of course, one has to accept that the journos will not write about it. But we, in the blogosphere, shall.
Dr. Helen Szamuely is the co editor of 'EU Referendum'