Sunday, December 31

Big Brother (and Sister)

On the website of Hazel Blears, Labour MP for Salford, the "Chair" of the Labour Party, and Minister without Portfolio, at the Cabinet Office is an item of concern.
It is worrying that so far, 22% of those being asked, are telling the Labour party ''Chair'' that they don't mind carrying an ID card. Perhaps they'll mind more when they're landed with a swingeing fine (after an introductory period) each time they're caught not carrying it.
Another nice little earner for HM Treasury, all in the intrests of anti-terrorism of course.

The Sunday Quote

"I have striven not to laugh at human actions, not to weep at them, nor to hate them, but to understand them."

Baruch Spinoza - (1632- 1677)
Tractatus Politicus 1, iv (translated from the Latin)

New Years Revolution

Peter Troy, Editor

The European Union (EU) at the end of this year is as dominant a factor in our affairs; interfering, controlling telling us what is best for us, as it was at the beginning.

If this Blog were to have one new years resolution it would be to be more effective in communicating the damage that the E U does to the wellbeing of not only the United Kingdom and Europe but indeed the Western World.

It will take not resolutions but a revolution in peoples thinking to change the dominant influence of the EU.

A salient example was when a top EU official, yesterday issued a statement on behalf of the EU the denouncing the execution of Saddam Hussein as a "barbaric" act that could create an undeserved martyr. The EU official speaks not in the name of the British people, nor in the name of the peoples of Europe. Neither he nor his colleagues were elected by us and we, the people did not appoint or authorize these self appointed officials to speak in our name. Nor in the name of the former citizens of Halabja, now deceased, and the hundreds of thousands of others victims of the former dictator of Iraq lying in mass graves.

Yet the 'EU effect' deepens. At midnight tonight, with the dawn of the New Year, Romania and Bulgaria join the European Union, bringing it to 27 members. But that means more than them joining a cosy little club which many want us to believe. It means that Romanians and Bulgarians have the right to enter our country. They do not, as yet, have a right to work here – unless they are self-employed – but who is checking?
It also means (a little understood fact that) the Romanian and Bulgarian governments become part of our government. Both member states will supply officials, high and low, to the EU commission, which makes decisions on how we in the United Kingdom are required to run our affairs. Their ministers join the Council of Ministers, which decides which laws are adopted, and their heads of government become members of the European Council – and decide on "European" political strategy. For that privilege, we also pay several more billions into the kitty. The simple fact is that Romania and Bulgaria are now a part of our government, giving their officials the right to decide on the laws that affect all of us.

Thus is how we are told what to think and do. Such remoteness of governance is the stuff of revolutions not resolutions.

For further viewing -please click the Reuters link below

Tommy Atkins

Posted is here is a serious piece.
British soldiers, are suffering from neglect, our neglect, the neglect of our government, our opposition and, most of all, of our media. No wonder they feel unappreciated. No wonder recruitment and retention is problem for the British Army.
When the media tell us how important our soldiers are, and how much they care, we shall remember. Kipling had it so right.

Saturday, December 30

Saddam Hussein Hanged

A truly evil man was this morning hanged by his own countrymen with a delicious sense of justice inside one of his former torture centres.

Three years after he was hauled from a hole in the ground by pursuing U.S. forces, Saddam Hussein was hanged at 03.00 hrs GMT Saturday under a sentence imposed by an Iraqi court, al-Hurra TV, al-Arabiya and Sky News TV have reportrd early this morning.
The deposed president was found guilty of the killing of 148 members of the Shiite population in the town of Dujail after militants tried to assassinate him there in 1982, during Iraq's war with Shiite Iran. Sadam Hussein was also responsable for the murder of tens if not hundreds of thousands of his fellow countrymen during 20 years as the despotic ruler of Iraq.
The official witnesses to his execution gathered on Friday in Baghdad's fortified Green Zone in final preparation for his hanging, as state television broadcast footage of his regime's atrocities.
The Pentagon said that U.S. forces, always on high alert in Iraq (as indeed are British) were braced for any upsurge in violence from Sunni insurgents loyal to Saddam.

An Iraqi court upheld Saddam's death sentence on Tuesday for the killing of 148 people who were detained and tortured after the attempt on his life.

Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki said in statements released on Friday that those who opposed the execution of Saddam were insulting the honor of his victims. His office said that he made the remarks in a meeting with families of people who died during Saddam's 23 year rule.

"Our respect for human rights requires us to execute him, and there will be no review or delay in carrying out the sentence," al-Maliki said.

In his Friday sermon, a mosque preacher in the Shiite holy city of Najaf called Saddam's execution "God's gift to Iraqis."

Earlier reports said al-Maliki feared fueling religious tensions if Saddam were executed during Eid al-Adha, a Muslim holiday that starts at sundown Saturday.

An execution during Eid carries great symbolism. The feast marks the sacrifice the prophet Abra.
The British Government's anouncements following the execution have concentrated on the fact that the decision was that of the independent Government of Iraq. An interesting comment at this juncture is that the United Kingdom is not independent of the European Union and thus cannot impose (or carry out) a death sentence on any of its evil criminals.

Friday, December 29

The End of Week Quote

A quote from John Blundell in a Heritage Lecture, 22 December 2006:
It is not even clear how many E.U. regulations there are! When pressed on the matter, a British minister said that “as far as the government has been able to verify” the number of sets of regulations enacted between 1973 and 2002 as a result of E.U. membership was 101,811. But Britain, like other applicants, was obliged to adopt the acquis communautaire – the existing body of E.U.regulations and directives – on entry. The total number of sets of regulations to which British citizens are subject as the result of E.U. membership may be inexcess of 200,000, with an average 2,500 new sets of regulations being added each year.

Thursday, December 28

The 38th President of the USA

Nixon leaves the White House -8 August 1974

The death was announced yesterday of Gerald Ford, the 38th President of the United States.
Until now there were two things one always remembered about Ford; one is that he was the only President who had not been elected either to the presidency or the vice-presidency and the other is LBJ's comment about him. There are two versions of the latter, both indicating LBJ's low opinion of Ford's intelligence. Either he said that Ford was so dumb he could not walk and chew gum at the same time or, and this is much more likely, that he could not fart and chew gum at the same time.
Now we have a third piece of information: as of last month he was the longest living American President. All of which is a little unfair on a decent, upright, reasonably able man who did the best he could in difficult circumstances.
Becoming Vice-President after Spiro Agnew's resignation in October 1973, Gerald Ford took over as President when Nixon decided not to face probable impeachment and resigned in August 1974.
Taking over after Watergate, Ford did a creditable job of moving the country back more or less onto a steady course, though the hysteria generated by Nixon has survived and poisoned American politics to this day.
And that is about all one can say in Ford’s favour. Gerald Ford is still remembered with a good deal of personal respect, it is difficult to understand the mawkishness of the blog entry on Hot Air and the comments on it. A good man does not a good president make.
His appointment of the ultra left Nelson Rockefeller as Vice-President was a disaster. The economy under him continued to lurch between inflation and recession with the government trying to counter the problems caused by OPEC-raised oil prices by ever more taxes and controls.
When it came to foreign policy, Ford was definitely of the "let us be nice to the Soviets and maybe they will be nice to us" persuasion (though one could never doubt his patriotism). Of course, neither the Soviets nor the Chinese had the slightest intention of tickling the West's tummy if it rolled over. A swift kick where it hurts most was the usual response.
SALT talks resulted in the Soviets constructing SS20s in Eastern Europe. On the other hand, the Helsinki Accords, intended to be another surrender to the Communist world view, unexpectedly proved to be a useful weapon against oppression in that world and, consequently, aided its destabilization.
Helsinki Watch strengthened the dissident movement in the oppressed countries by making the plight of individuals who had courageously stood up for basic rights and liberties public in the West and giving politicians like Reagan and Thatcher weapons in their fight. Its successor, Human Rights Watch, is a considerably less useful organization.
Above all, however, Ford’s presidency is linked to the most appalling event in the West’s fight against Communism: the betrayal of South Vietnam and Cambodia. In 1974 the American troops began evacuating from South-East Asia. The Thieu regime was given strong promises of military aid if it continued the fight. The aid did not materialize.
North Vietnam, having effectively lost the war previously, now overran South Vietnam and at the end of April, 1975 Saigon fell. The "realists" and the media, which had induced the "Vietnam war" hysteria, had triumphed. Vietnam and Cambodia entered years of totalitarian oppression and genocide, while in the rest of the world the West and its ideas of freedom and democracy seemed in retreat.
To be fair to Ford, his narrow defeat by Jimmy Carter in 1976 turned out to be an even bigger disaster. Now there is a man about whom one might say many things but one will suffice: the worst and least successful president in the history of the United States. Furthermore, unlike Carter, Ford retreated into private life and did not spend his time pretending to re-fight old battles, this time being victorious. In other words, he did not spend his time passing ignorant judgement about his successors' policies. Carter's obituaries are unlikely to be as respectful as Ford's.

Prsident Ford's family, August 1974

Sunday, December 24

The Sunday (Christmas) Quote

''I stopped beliving in Santa Claus when I was six. Mother took me to see him in a department store and he asked me for my autograph.''

Shirley Temple

A Good News Story

From Christopher Booker's notebook comes a story of victory over petty officialdom

Just in time for Christmas has come a miraculous twist to one of the saddest stories reported by in my column in 2006. In July I revealed a bizarre ruling by the Environment Agency that threatened to close down Intercare, a charity that collects medicines surplus to British requirements and sends them to a networkof 100 clinics in some of the poorest parts of Africa.

The drugs were all carefully screened by a volunteer team of doctors, nurses andpharmacists to ensure they were still in perfect condition, and were only sent in response to the specific needs of trained medical staff in Africa, where they were hugely appreciated, helping to treat more than a million patients.

A British Government Environment Agency official, however, decided that, under EU rules, these medicines were "waste" and had to be sent to landfill. They even threatened Intercare, run from Leicester by Dr Margaret Macdonald, with prosecution.

When I told this extraordinary story it was followed elsewhere in the media.Those in charge of the agency were sufficiently embarrassed to send a more senior official to investigate. So positively did he approach his task, as a joyful Dr Macdonald was able to tell me last week, that not only can Intercare continue its good work, but it will soon be licensed to receive drugs from any GP, hospital, nursing home or NHS trust in the country.

Collecting will begin again in January, and even private individuals cancontribute through their GP.

Anyone wishing to contribute can make contact through, oremail, or ring 0116 269 5925 in office hours.I am pleased to say that, on the day the good news came through, as I took aband of carol singers round our Somerset village, my generous neighbours wereable to lead the way by raising £164.
A happy Christmas to Dr Macdonald and all who work for this admirable charity.
Christoper Booker
The above is confermation that one should never give up when one is right; petty officials (Managers) are often the enemy of progress, mostly because they have no greater vision. Ed.

Saturday, December 23

Merry Christmas

A Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
to our many readers across the world.
(terms and conditions apply)

During the year there has been some adverse comment (we are pleased no note) on the contents of some of the postings on this glourious blog. For the avoidance of any doubt (and as we are mindful of the vast number of regulations that apply in these cirumstances) this blog's best wishes are given with no obligation, implied or implicit, for an environmentally-conscious socially-responsible, low-stress, non-addictive, gender-neutral celebration of the winter solstice (in the northern hemisphere) holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of ones choice, or indeed secular practices, with respect for the regions/secular persuasions and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all.

In addition, please also accept this blog's very British best wishes for a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2007 but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make this, Her Majesty's Realm, great and without regard to the race, creed, colour, age, physical ability, religious faith or sexual orientation of the wishees.

This wish is limited to the customary and usual good tidings for a period of one year, or until the issuance of a subsequent holiday greetings, whichever comes first.

“Holiday” is not intended to, nor shall it be considered, limited to the usual Christian celebrations or observances, or to such activities of any organised or ad hoc religious community, group, individual or belief (or lack thereof).

This greeting is subject to clarification or withdrawal and is revocable at the sole discretion of the wisher at any time, for any reason or for no reason at all. The greeting is freely transferable with no alteration to the original greeting. This greeting implies no promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the wishes for the wishee her/himself or others, or responsibility for the consequences which may arise from the implementation or non-implementation of any wishes.

Peter Troy

The Christmas Repeal

The European Communities Act 1972 is on the BBC's Today Programme's Short List for Acts of Parliament that the public would like to see abolished.The repeal of the Act would in effect mean that the UK would leave the EU (three cheers for that).

Readers can either can either vote for free here:

or by telephoning 0901 5221004 (calls cost 15p from a UK land line).

Voting is open now and closes on New Year's Eve - the result will be announced on New Year's Day.

Please make the effort to vote after all we only want our country back.

That Institutionally Stupid Commisioner

It is quite difficult to work out which is more scary – that the capital's police are led by a man who has no understanding of history, or a man who is so stupid that he hasn't the sense to keep his mouth closed when he doesn't know what he is talking about.
Dr Helen Szamuely asks : Who will rid us of this talkative plod?

Plod Blair, Sir Ian of that Ilk, has been opining again. Specifically he was giving another interview on BBC Radio 4. Having waffled his way through the Forest Gate episode (of which we still don't know the whole truth) and asserted his belief (which we share) that he will be cleared over the Menezes shooting, he went into what one can only describe as hyper mode about a potential al-Quaeda threat:

''Christmas is a period when that might happen. We have no specific intelligence to do (with) that. It is a far graver threat in terms of civilians than either the Cold War or the Second World War. It's a much graver threat than that posed by Irish Republican terrorism.''
Does this man know any history at all?
While it is reasonable to say that the present terrorist threat is different from that posed by the IRA for several decades, it is actually not worth saying. Everyone has made that point and we have all acccepted it. The only problem, is why are people like Plod Blair and his various minions of differing ranks are looking at the IRA? Why not look at the international terrorism of the seventies? They will find quite a number of parallels there.
But hey, that would be reading history and that is something our senior plods do not do.The idea of equating the Second World War and the Cold War in terms of civilian casualties in Britain is so daft as to defy explanation. Apart from a few ex-KGB agents and pesky emigres, all murdered by the Soviet secret service or their henchmen in, say, Bulgaria, there were no civilian casualties in the Cold War.
When we look at the Second World War, the picture is starkly different. It has been calculated that the blitz and the V1/V2 attacks between them killed around 60,000 in London and wounded many more. They were almost all civilians. When we add the horrific attacks on Coventry, Plymouth, Bristol, Liverpool, Glasgow and other more casual ones like the Baedeker raids, we must assume that the death toll was probably 100,000 and more. The destruction of property was stupendous.
Is Plod Blair telling us that a putative al-Quaeda attack for which he has no specific intelligence (that's nothing to go by) will be worse? Or is he simply so ignorant of the history of his own country that he says the first thing that comes into his head?

Friday, December 22

Cruel Quotas

The latest fisheries resolution came out of Brussels early this morning.

The cruelty comes because it is the time at which the crucial decisions on quotas for the coming year are made, under the EUs Common Fisheries Policy – a policy which is not only morally but also technically wrong – invariably bringing woe to hard-pressed fishermen, just at a time when everyone else is preparing for the Christmas festivities

Each year this ritual, held in the the killing fields of the Brussels council chamber, where they participate in the slow, inexorable execution of the British fishing industry.

All of us lose, the whole nation, as we see an industry which could be worth £3 billion plus ground into oblivion, currently worth about half a billion and declining each year.

It says something that the agriculture minister of Cyprus has a say in the management of British waters, but the ultimate farce, or insult if you prefer, is Joe Borg, fisheries commissioner, the man in charge of British fishing - he is from Malta

There is plenty of coverage on the internet – Google News has nearly 200 reports – from which this is a representative sample,
here, here and here.

As the
man from Scotland says, "it's another nail in the coffin", while Ross Finnie twitters - as he always does, every year – "I think it's the best deal there was available." If the EU Commision stripped his stripped his shirt and underpants from him as he walked out of the Council chamber he would still say the same.

Of all the comments the one to highlight comes from the
BBC website, citing Dr Bryce Beukers-Stewart, Fisheries Policy Officer for the Marine Conservation Society, who makes the point that It is astounding that the EU continues to persist with this doomed approach to fisheries management.

These marginal adjustments to the quotas for cod around the UK have been going on for at least the last 20 years, but the fish stocks themselves are going down much faster. This is hardly surprising, as the quotas still allow for at least 60 percent of the fish to be removed each year - what chance does that give for recovery?

What is needed, he says, is a much more creative and proactive approach to improving the selectivity of fishing gear and practices to reduce the bycatch of unwanted or under-fire species such as cod.

There was actually
such an approach proposed by the Conservative Party, which was gathering strength until the current leader junked the policy.

So is there a light at the end of the tunnel ? Yes it is a huge express train, with the letters “EU” emblazoned on it front, bearing down on us. There is no hope for the British fishing industry, no hope at all.

The picture above says it all: as the sun sets on the industry, the "Single European Fish" is now that much closer to reality.

Photos: (Approprioatly) from the Council of the European Communities -will be attached as soon as blogger allows.

Thursday, December 21

The End of Week Quote

Martin Bell
''I was on the base when Tony Blair arrived for his fourth and last pre-Christmas visit to the troops. More than half of his entourage of 13, apart from bodyguards, were spin doctors or press managers of one sort or another. For a travelling press corps of 20 reporters, that was an extraordinarily high proportion of sheep dogs to sheep. Downing Street got what it wanted - an heroic photo op against a background of troops, tanks and a helicopter. The reporters had to take it at face value, because face value was all there was time for.''

Jornalist and former independent MP Martin Bell writing from Basra in the Guardian's
Comment is Free blog.

As Martin Bell details in his piece, what was taken at face value was quite wrong. It is a matter of regret that the main media have not, as yet, reported the actual situation and plans for the future in Basra. Well presumably they will not want to admit that they have been over influenced by Downing Street's press managers!

To whom it may concern

The UK Independence Party (UKIP) recently issued the following communication:
'' As a point of information UKIP recently sent blanket mailshots to all Councillors throughout the Country asking them to consider joining UKIP.
If UKIP Councillors have been written to they need not apply to join as they already have joined. If however any BNP or similar unsuitable souls apply to join UKIP they will be refused. ''
No junk mail from UKIP then during the festive season !

Wednesday, December 20

Sark Embraces Democracy

Sark, one of the smallest of the inhabited Channel Islands (off the northern coast of France) voted this year to end 450 years of feudalism in favour of directly elected local politicians.

The Channel Islands are 'out with' the United Kingdom (and the EU), are Crown Dependencies with theirs own legislative assemblies, the inhabitants are indeed very British and very Loyal to the Crown (it all dates back to King William I of England, Duke of Normandy in 1066 and all that), yet the islanders have (it is all a tad complicated) to comply with the European Convention on Human Rights.

For over four centuries Sark has been governed by the law-making body, the Chief Please which comprised of 40 landowners directly descended from the 40 Jersey (the largest of the Channel Islands) families who were settled in the Island following the expulsion of a ramshacakeled collection of French temporary occupants in 1533, by the powerful DeCarteret family from St Ouens, in the west of Jersey. Each family was granted a piece of land with a small section of coast on condition they maintained a cannon on their land - and presumably fired it in the general direction of any intending invaders or pirates.

The coastal cannons have long since gone but the feudal system of government has, up to now, remained.

In March this year the Islanders agreed to change (actually, they had no choice) its centuries old system of government which dated back to Queen Elizabeth I, who granted the ruling 'Seignior' a 'fief' on the tiny island.

A ballot outlined two options. In the first, the Chief Pleas would be made up entirely of 28 elected deputies. The second option was for 28 seats but with the body being made up of 12 elected deputies, eight elected tenants and eight additional members.

Well now, the residents of Sark were keen on simple democracy. Of the 419 returned ballots, 234 opted for the first option and 184 for the second. The turnout was an amazing 90 per cent.

So it came to pass that the legislation was sent to the Privy Council for approval. It was then granted Royal Assent and is now law. In the Spring of next year the islanders will elect 28 new politicians and another of our ''dear Channel Islands'' will enjoy universal suffrage.
One wonders if the Islanders of Sark will soon have the highest ratio of voters to politicians in the world, some 450:28 - equelivant to one politician to every six voters. As a consequence one could suspect that the future political scene in Sark will be less tranquil than the past 450 years. Thus is how they will now be governed.

Tuesday, December 19

Per Tea Pot Ad Astra

An RAF Nimrod

We are grateful to a former Royal Air Force Officer who has advised us that despite drastic cuts in recent years, sandards in the Service are being maitained. Apparently the crew of an RAF Nimrod resently used a teapot to block a hole in their aircraft. A mid-air mechanical fault forced the fight crew to improvise when a hatch door from which sonar buoys are thrown during search and rescue missions fail to shut properly.

A press statement confirmed that the crew's safety had not been compromised but made no reference to the quality of tea employed on operations; one assumes it was Earl Grey. When asked for a reaction the former Flight Lieutenant commented (whilst pruning his beloved roses) ''I trust they took up china cups and saucers there are somethings that can not be substituted''


An RAF Tea Pot and Milk Jug

Enlargement Matters

Bruno Waterford The Daily Telegraph Brussels correspondent reports today that more than half of Britons are opposed to EU enlargement after the latest round of expansion triggered a massive influx of migrant workers, according to a new poll.
The European Commission's Eurobarometer shows that for the first time a majority of the British people, 51 per cent, is against the EU's eastwards expansion. The number of opponents has jumped by nine points over the last six months. Only 36per cent now support enlargement and 13 per cent are undecided.
It is hardly surprising that EU Commission officials blame public alarm over immigration as 437,000 migrants flocked to Britain after Eastern European countries such as Poland joined the EU in May 2004. Initial British government estimates had put the total of expected migrants at only 13,000. Only 36 per cent of Britons were against enlargement in the autumn 2004, according to surveys held at the time.
The editor of this blog commented on the BBC in July 2004 that the governments had no idea of the number of immigrants entering the EU and thus could not predict what numbers would arrive from Eastern Europe in the next few years. Along with other commentators making the same point he was derided as alarmist and racist by 'little Europeans'. Both comments were vigorously denied both at the time and subsequently.
Britain was forced to impose restrictions on workers from Bulgaria and Romania, when both countries join the EU on 1 January. Though 'self employed' workers will not face (as we understand the rules) restrictions on entry, despite asking the question to the Government as to how self employed workers will be controlled, we are still none the wiser (probably because we did not get a reply).
Perhaps the Federation of Small Businesses may want to take up the issue - which will be an interesting exercise since it has a policy of not replying to the editor of this Blog's questions. However they may, possibly, respond to each other's communications - two negatives making a positive as it were.
Anyway, much to the dismay of our EU masters the UK Government's restrictions on Bulgarians and Rumanians, is in contradiction to the 'open borders' ethos. Thus the UK is being accused of not entering into the sprit of 'the (EU) project'.

The EU enlargement issue has very much damaged the EU in the eyes of the British people, with opposition to membership up three points and negative perceptions of Brussels rising seven points, reports The Daily Telegraph today.

The reaction to all this from Her Majesty's Government (and supported in effect by the Loyal Opposition), will undoubtedly be to spend vast sums of British taxpayers money on 're-educating' the British people. Thus is how we are now governed.

Monday, December 18

Unforgivable and Inexcusable

"To send soldiers into a combat zone without the appropriate basic equipment is, in my view, unforgivable and inexcusable and represents a breach of trust that the soldiers have in those in Government."
Oxfordshire Assistant Deputy Coroner, Andrew Walker today, speaking about the death of Sgt Steve Roberts and the failure of the MoD to supply him with body armour. In the days of honour someone would have resigned over the '' breach of trust'' but sadly there is no honour in Government circles in todays 'target orientated', corporate management speak ministries.
The danger now is that the media and (opposition) politicians will focus on this one issue - which has actually been sorted. All troops in combat areas have been issued, at last, with high-tech body armour.
There are many more fundamental shortages, from armoured vehicles, to thermal imagers and counter-mortar equipment - to say nothing of helicopters and amoured transport vehicles.
It is time that all Members of Parliament and commentators start doing their jobs and demand this equipment, instead of just using British troops as a source of cheap copy or stage dressing for their own publicity?
The under equipped British armed forces are paying in blood for the failings of their political masters. Whilst this situation is nothing new that is no good reason why it should continue.
Please read "Reflected glory" by Dr Richard North here.

Consultation is not the solution

Left, John Walker, Policy Chairman of the FSB with Peter Troy.
The Federation of Small Businesses gets it wrong
Independent (of any political party) Member of the European Parliment (MEP) Ashley Mote contributed to a recent 'debate' in the Parliment recently. Using all of his allocated 90-seconds during the so-called debate on 'enterprise and growth' and with less than a dozen members in the chamber, which seats 732, the MEP for South East England said:
Madam President, I wonder how many people in this Chamber have had an idea for a new business, raised the money themselves at their own risk and successfully run that business for 20 more years and generated jobs and wealth. I see that not a hand goes up, and yet here we have a Commission talking about authorising entrepreneurs and about level playing fields – which is the most fundamental contradiction of the word ‘entrepreneur’ you could possibly imagine. The whole point about entrepreneurship is creating something that nobody has ever thought of before.
There sits the Commissioner talking about criminalising the use of imperial measurements on exports from the UK after 2009. As a consequence of that, the manufacturers of tyres, bicycles, clothing, medical equipment, dairy products, frozen foods, specialist papers, domestic appliances, hand tools, computer components and oil and gas components will all suffer every single one of them. One of them in my constituency will be faced with going out of business because there is no way he will be able to sell his components to the oil and gas industry in the United States. They are not going to pull their drill up thousands of feet just to check a measurement – no way! He will either become a criminal to stay in business or he will go out of business.
Years ago I walked into the office of one of the biggest industrialists in the United States and behind him was a notice that said: ‘If you are not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem, so get out of the way!’ That is a message I commend to this House. (ends)

Ectracted from the official records of the European Parlament - 30.11.2006 Ashley Mote (NI).

The day after Mr Mote's comments the representitave of the UK 's small business community, the Federation of Small Businesses issued a news release curiously titled ''
Business hails MEPs’ support for small firms'':

The Federation of Small Businesses has welcomed the European Parliament’s adoption of a report calling for greater engagement with small businesses at the local level.

The report adopted by the European Parliament calls for improvements to the existing network of offices, known as Euro Info Centres (EICs), set up to consult small businesses at local level on EU decision making.

EICs also offer advice to small businesses on accessing the internal market and organize panels of small businesses to advise the European Commission on new regulations and policy proposals.

The obvious comment to the FSB management is to demand that they listen to the representitives of their members rather than waste time and money in pointless consultaion and lobbying. The FSB members previously at two Annual Confrences -1995 and 2001 - voted to Support leaving the European Union. Clearly the FSB has become as undemocratic as the EU - hence the reason the FSB (on policy issues) is now a part of the problem on the solution - it is simply not listening to its own members.
In fact on the specific issue of the EU those that decide policy in the Federation have a few not very un-democratic policies of their own; that of not replying to members letters and sending at least one active member 'to coventry' for daring to question their stance with those that hinder the growth of free enterprise. All very curious really, untill one undersatand that the Federation has been, in the main, hi-jacked by placators and government collaborators.

Sunday, December 17

Warning - the lights will soon go out.

Booker's column in The Sunday Telegraph is this week is back to its current size and makes interesting reading.
The feature item, headed, "National grid will totter in the prevailing wind" takes head on the increasingly dangerous group psychosis of "wind energy", pointing out the perils of relying on this intrusive provision.
Various recent reports, have highlighted one aspect of what, within a few years, will be the most serious crisis confronting Britain. Few people realise just how precarious the supply of power upon which our society depends will become – even before 2014, by which time we will have closed down the nuclear and coal-fired power stations that now generate 47 per cent of our electricity. Two reports by the Renewable Energy Foundation (REF) spell out the extraordinary risk we run through our government's obsessive desire to make us, within a few years, more than 15 percent reliant on wind power.
The real import of the reports has generally been missed. It is shocking that it should be left to a small charity to reveal for the first time, using official Ofgen figures, the details of how much each of the 1,950 wind turbines in Britain actually generates. Not a single onshore turbine in mainland Britain would be economically viable without the vast hidden subsidy we all pay through our electricity bills (in effect doubling its cost).
Because wind is intermittent, turbines only generate, on average, 28 per cent of their capacity. (One built by Renewable Energy Systems on the M25 at Kings Langley produces barely 8 per cent).The real message of the REF reports, however, is, first, that wind is so unreliable that we would have to build up to a dozen new conventional power stations just to provide backup for all the intended turbines when the wind is not blowing; and, second, that the more we depend on the unpredictable wind, the more this will destabilise the grid, threatening its breakdown. A point that was confirmed by another recent report, from UCTE, Europe's principal grid authority, on the power failure that blacked out much of western Europe on November 4.
A significant factor in that collapse of the grid was the growing difficulty of accommodating Germany's dependence on 18,000 turbines for 6 per cent of its power.Yet our own Government (supported by the EU) is locked into the idea that, by 2015, 15 per cent of our electricity must come from renewable sources, mostly windfarms (which currently supply only 0.5 per cent). No proper planning has been done to take into account the problems this will create for the national grid. For example, much of the electricity will be generated by nearly 7,000 turbines in Scotland – without any system in place to transfer the surplus to England where it would be needed.
All this is only part of the much wider crisis looming as we face the prospect of losing, by 2015, that 47 per cent of our current supply provided by nuclear and coal. According to Alistair Darling, who has assumed prime responsibility for energy policy, we shall then be 80 per cent dependent on gas, half of it imported from Norway. This will make us, supposedly, less dependent than most of our fellow Europeans on politically sensitive supplies from Russia.
If Mr Darling enquired of the Norwegians, he would learn that they are not so foolish as to wish to sell off their own reserves. In fact most of what they sell us will be piped into Norway from Russia anyway.
So dilatory has our Government been in its belated conversion to nuclear that, even if we were to order new reactors from France (which derives 80 per cent of its electricity from nuclear), they would not be ready in time to fill the huge gap that will open up from 2010 onwards. Senior power industry figures are already warning privately that, from that time on, Britain's power supplies cannot be guaranteed.
Additionaly we now, we have the European Commission, in the guise of energy commissioner Andris Piebalgs, calling for Brussels to assume control over all the EU's energy supplies.
In the Lords last Wednesday, a junior minister, Baroness Royall, appeared to be giving our Government's support to this idea. Stand by, in short, for the day not far off when our computers, supermarkets and much else get regularly blacked out by the shutting off of power.
Not a happy prospect; and we are not alone in our reservations.
All this this is yet another area where future historians will have cause to wonder when they write an account of this age. They will chart how peoples who were massively dependent on electricity to sustain their very civilisation were so careless of providing for its continuation that they chose mass suicide rather than regeneration.
Interestingly, in the context of the much discussed Blair legacy, when we consider prime minister Ted Heath’s legacy, apart from taking us into the Common Market, he is best remembered for the three-day week and the power cuts that went with it. What comes round goes round. Blair’s real legacy will be the increasingly severe power cuts that we will start to suffer in just a few years. By then, however, we will have another Prime Minister and it will, no doubt, be the then current incumbent who will suffer the approbation.
In anticipation of the failure of our supplies, though, it would be best now to start thinking of buying a small generator to keep essential equipment supplied. Perhaps, in honour of the man who made this all necessary, we should think of a new nickname for this equipment - the word "Blair" seems so appropriate - perhaps it is what Tony Blair ment when on the brink of political success ten years ago he promised ''power to the People ''.
It can of course only get worse -much worse.

The Sunday Quote

'' A widly-red man never quotes accuratly.... Misquotation is the pride and privilege of the learned.''

Hesketh, Pearson (1887-1964)

Rural Post Offices

Plans were announced last week to close up to 2,500 British rural post offices – causing huge distress amongst campaigners who have been fighting hard to retain the existing network.

Immediately, though, we have seen claims that the closures arise "directly because of a ruling from the European Commission." There seems to be some merit in this argument as,
last February, reports were stating that that EU commissioner Neelie Kroes had given permission to the British government to continue subsidising the network.

The original
Commission document, tells the detailed story. Rather than approve a "deal" – the commission actually concluded that the subsidy paid by the British government to rural post offices did not constitute state aid. Furthermore, the commission stated:

''Even if the measures were deemed to be State aids, they would be compatible with the common market under Article 86 (2) EC in that the mechanisms will be put in place to ensure that the State payments and loans are commensurate to the net cost of the public service and its continued delivery and in that the measures do not affect trade to such an extent as contrary to the Community interests.''
The crucial element here is the specific services being subsidised were regarded as "Services of General Economic Interest" (SGEI), the provision of which did not affect community trade. Also, in making its ruling, the commission seems entirely to have accepted the argument that:

''Local post offices are relied on disproportionately by the most vulnerable in society – the elderly, single parents, the unemployed, disabled people, carers, and those without access to a car or convenient public transport services and this is particularly true in rural and urban underprivileged areas.''
Basically, the three-year period arose only because the British government only asked the commission to consider that timespan. When the British Government Government wanted to continue with the arrangement, the commission readily agreed, hence the Kroes ruling.

Much as we enjoy savaging the European Union, a clinical evaluation of the evidence rather suggests that no blame for the current round of post office closures can be attributed to any of the EU Plans which were announced last week.
In the round, the blame for this debacle looks to be closer to home, and can be laid entirely at the door of the current Labour Government.

Sunday, December 10

The Sunday Quote

'' There are three roads to ruin -women, gambling and technicians. The most pleasant is with women, the quickest is with ganbling, but the surest is with technicians.''

George Ponpidou, Former French President in The Sunday Telegraph, 1968.

A Failure of Opposition

It is not only government that has duties and responsiblities. Mr Cameron as leader of HM Loyal Oposition is also obliged. His duty is to oppose – for which activity the taxpayer gives his Party several million pounds in the form of what is known as "short" money.
The Right Hon. David Cameron MP
is not doing it.
In Dr Richard North's latest post, he argues that one of the results of this is that men will die.
Read it here...

Friday, December 8

The End of Week Quote

"The purpose of process is to achieve an outcome, to achieve the mission; it is not the purpose of process to maintain process. As an example, I recently read of a senior MoD civil servant quoted as saying of an even more senior MoD civil servant that the latter was "not just leading the workstream process, but driving it". I hope he knew what he meant - I'm not sure I do."
General Sir Mike Jackson - Former Chief of the General Staff.
Quoted from his much publisised Dimbleby Lecture – this week. The Lecture was titled 'Defence of the Realm.'
The above quote is a refereshing comment on Management-speak which is spouted by corporate managers and goernment wallers across our realm.
Intrestingly General Jackson was the primary architect of the Army restructuring (the Future Army Structure) – and the abolition of many of the regiments – he was an active and enthusiastic proponent of FRES. See what he had to say about both in his retirement speech posted on 26 July 2006.

Yes Mr President - we know it is bad

Yes, Mr President, we know it is bad - many have been saying so for a long time. Yes, we agree with you Mr Bush when you tell our prime minister, Tony Blair, that "we need a new approach". And yes, we entirely agree with General Sir Mike Jackson (now retired) that it would be "morally wrong" to pull out of Iraq at the moment.
We even agree with General Jackson when he accused the government in his speech of neglecting soldiers and of "asking too much" of the British Armed Forces. But what we also want to know is why it has been left until now? What have our professionals and analysts (and yours Mr Bush being doing all these years and, in particular, what was the professional head of the British Army doing in August 2003?

Click to >

Wednesday, December 6

From the Editor's keyboard

Well now, I have never been a 'column' before, it really is quite satisfying. The first of my irregular pieces in The Journal was published today. The theme ' Many large companies - while making ritual protests - actually welcome regulation.' Comments please to the letters editor of The Journal -
In my View
Peter Troy

Regulation is perhaps the most misunderstood issue in terms of cost, origins and job creation potential.

A case in point is The Think-Tank Open Europe's Report published this week, which finds that the EU's financial service action plan "will cost the UK up to £23.5 billion".

The EU Enterprise Commissioner, Gunter Verheugen complained last month that compliance with the EU Single Market Regulation costs €600 billion a year, the EU Commission itself boasts that that the Single Market benefits the economies of the EU to the tune of €164.5 billion a year.Most often, regulation disproportionately increases the cost of compliance for smaller businesses, while actually favoring larger companies. Often large corporate companies see regulation as a welcome means of driving their smaller, innovative competitors out of business - and a far cheaper way of increasing market share than advertising.
Regulation also tends to make new entry into a given sector much more difficult, as the initial investment and early operating costs are much higher. This again helps established players avoid competition from smaller newcomers.Regulation creates lots of jobs. Britain's ever expanding Army of Inspectors, Enforcement and Compliance Officers. Additionally Consultants who advise businesses rely solely upon regulation. As well as the Unions – they make a small fortune out of training and compliance monitoring, particularly in the field of health and safety and especially Employment Law.

What is not generally understood is that many large companies – while making ritual protests – actually welcome regulation and in fact, much of the technical legislation promulgated by the EU actually originates from such companies.
The reason for this is quite simple. Basically, in crowded and highly competitive markets where there is little scope for expansion, market share can only be gained at the expense of competitors. While the traditional route, through advertising, is expensive and uncertain, the corporates have found that regulation can do a much better – and cheaper job.
The mechanism works because regulation generally has a disproportionate effect on small and medium enterprises so that suitably framed laws can put competitors out of business, leaving their customer base up for grabs. Compared with the costs of advertising, compliance costs tend to be relatively modest and can often be recouped through price increases, making regulation one of the most cost-effective means of increasing market share.

The 200,000 member strong Federation of Small Businesses rightly complains that: -

"Regulation, both its volume and complexity, crime and a poorly skilled workforce are issues that we have raised many times before. It is therefore worrying that they are still the main barriers to growth for small firms. It demonstrates that action taken so far has been inadequate.''
Indeed so but it is easy to put the responsibility for "regulatory reform" directly onto government. Most regulation stems from big business's pressure and lobbying, which desperately needs to be countered by the smaller business community at source.
The people who usually do not benefit from the mass regulation industry are consumers, with costs being driven up and choice being driven out by the lack of competition. But there is often compensation in the form of foreign producers, who either ignore the legislation, or who go through the motions so as to appear to be complying but the people who will never complain are the "consumers" – or at least their representatives.
There is a major industry in consumer representation whose call will always be for more regulation, and always to "protect the consumer". So the merry-go-round goes on. There is actually good businesses in them there regulations (for all but small businesses) which means that no-one is going to take the Open Europe's or for that matter my continuing concerns very seriously.

Letter to our MPs

Dear Ladies and gentlemen, Members of the House of Commons

I note in this week's newspapers that you have so far forgotten the honour that is being a Member of the House of Commons is as to complain, not for the first time, about your remuneration.
Apparently, the basic salary of £60,277 for a back-bencher with an average allowance of £134,000 is insufficient for your individual needs or for the position you seek to occupy in society. That is not reckoning the assured high pension out of public funds at a time when the Chancellor of the Exchequer has ensured that other pension funds get ever lower.
It seems that you feel that your salaries have fallen behind those of people in comparable occupation. Dear me. What comparable occupations would those be? I note that one MP, who had enough shame to want to remain anonymous, has groused that he was earning considerably less than the local GP.
This is not a particularly useful argument. In the first place, GPs pay their staff out of their basic salary. In the second place, GPs are not in “comparable” occupation. General Practitioners work and many of them work very hard. We know what they do. We see them when we are ill, when our children are ill, when our aged and not so aged relatives are ill.
What is it you do, ladies and gentlemen that would justify yet another pay rise? Do you legislate? Well, not in the eighty per cent of the legislation that comes, one way or another from the European Union and is passed on the nod because you do not have the right to reject or amend it. Let’s face it, you do not even bother to read most of it. There is a lot of material there, I agree, but it is you and your equally greedy predecessors, who made sure of this state of affairs.
Let us not forget, ladies and gentlemen, Members of the House of Commons, that a good deal of that legislation does not even pass through Parliament. It arrives in the shape of EU Regulations, which are directly applicable and are put into place by Statutory Instruments, which you know nothing about, or regulations created by quangos such as the Food Standards Agency.

What of the remaining twenty per cent of the legislation? Do you live up to the expectations of the people, whom you are supposed to represent? Do you read the legislative proposals or Green Papers or Bills? Do you realize how badly drafted many of the last are? It would appear not, as those badly drafted Bills wing their way through the House of Commons and it is only when the (unpaid) Members of the House of Lords start scrutinizing them, line by line, clause by clause (something you ought to do, ladies and gentlemen, Members of the House of Commons) that the full shoddiness or horror becomes clear.

It is not unknown for the Government to have to rush scores, even hundreds of amendments at a late stage, say Report, in the House of Lords, having not realized before what a mess the particular piece of legislation was. It is many years since the House of Commons has made any effort to scrutinize legislation with any attention. GPs who carried out their duties the way you do, ladies and gentlemen, would be struck of the Register of Medical Practitioners.

Do you take part in debates, ladies and gentlemen? Not if the evidence of those empty benches is anything to go by.

Do you pay attention to political developments inside and outside the country? Again, the evidence of our senses tells us no. None of you seem to have the first idea about what is happening to this country’s defence; how business operates; the extent to which education has been destroyed; or, for that matter, what it is the people who elected you really care about.

It is well known among us political researchers that briefing MPs is a complete waste of time. They do not bother to read even the simplest and shortest text, unless it consists of a couple of sound-bites that they can produce for a passing journalist or cameraman.

Do you ever attend political seminars of briefings organized by various think-tanks? Nobody has seen a single one of you except on the rare occasion when a leading member of your party gives the talk. Then you strut around, hoping that your zeal will be noticed. But would you, ladies and gentlemen of the Conservative Party, attend a seminar on free markets given by some leading economist at the Institute of Economic Affairs, as Margaret Thatcher used to? Let me know when you intend to. I want to be there.

Ah yes, but there are constituency matters. How many surgeries do you hold, ladies and gentlemen, Members of the House of Commons? If other professionals attended as few meetings as you do, far from getting pay rises, they would be out on their ears.

Do you write the letters to your constituents or is there a hard-working and seriously underpaid secretary who does all that with the help of a not so hard-working but equally underpaid researcher? Unless, of course, the secretary or researcher happens to be your spouse/offspring/other relative.
Who are these people in “comparable occupation” who can get away with as little work and be of as little use as you are? Why do you think that the number of people who can be bothered to vote for you decreases with every election?
Yours sincerly
A Very British Voter
PS I am greatful to Dr Helen Szamuely

Monday, December 4

David Cameron's Gamble

By Christopher Booker
As David Cameron ends his first year as leader of the Opposition, there are clear signs that the greatest gamble in modern British politics has not come off.
The little group of ex-public schoolboys who last year hi-jacked the Conservative Party have seemed to gamble on just one strategy. List everything the Party used to stand for – low taxes, the family, rolling back the power of the state, encouraging business, upholding our defences, curbing criminals, common sense – then go for the opposite.
The essence of the gamble has been the belief that, in wooing the support of Lib Dems, would-be greenies, Guardian readers and the supposed "soft centre", they could take their supposed "core" supporters for granted. But as support for David Cameron falters, all the evidence seems to suggest that those wished-for new recruits to his "Not The Conservative Party" are not forthcoming, while the Party's former natural supporters are left baffled, dismayed and increasingly angry.
All this was neatly symbolised by the recent photo-opportunities staged by the three men now competing for the role of Britain's prime minister. Mr Blair and Mr Brown, aware that defence and national security (not long ago rating 34 percent on a Mori poll) still rank very much higher as voter priorities than "environmental" issues (only 8 percent), flew out to the Iraq and Afghan battle-zones to pose in front of the largest guns they could find. Mr Cameron, at the same time, flew out to the Sudan, in Lord Ashcroft's CO2 emitting private jet, to be pictured cuddling a little refugee child. It was the "Men from Mars" against "the Boy from Venus". "Darfur Dave" did not come well out of the contrast.
The tragedy is that, confronted by the most corrupt, hypocritical, inefficient, illiberal, discredited government inBritish history, what millions of British voters are looking for is an alternative which might put an end to the sleazy, self-regarding sham of the Blair era by displaying some "masculine" firmness: in cutting back on the bloated public sector and the out-of-control bureaucracy which is destroying our health service, education and police; which might encourage enterprise; which might restore democracy to local government; bring back some balance into our public finances; sort out the shambles into which our Armed Forces are sliding; uphold Britain's national interest, as we suffocate under the malfunctioning system of government represented by the European Union.
In other words, what much of the country is crying out for is a party which represents precisely those values which Mr Cameron's Not-The-Conservative Party seems so hellbent on abandoning. As for what he stands for instead, almost the only clear message Darfur Dave seems to have put over to the voters is his sentimental "save the planet" greenery, on which his dotty little gimmicks and practical ignorance have simply made him a laughing stock.
What many voters sadly begin to conclude is that Dave and his cronies seem so hopelessly ill-equipped to take on the serious business of government that, if we have to choose between one gang of PR merchants and another, better stick with the devil we know. Hence the evidence of the latest polls appearing to show that the gamble has failed.
Ever larger become the number of would-be Conservatives sorely tempted to join that 40 percent who already feel so alienated from politics that they just stay sullenly at home. But the Guardian readers are scarcely flocking to replace them. So where does all this leave our country?

Sunday, December 3

The Sunday Quote

'' A statesman who is enamoured of existing evils, as distinguished from the Liberal, who wishes to replace them with others.''

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914). Definition of a Consernative, The Cynic's Wortd Book (1906)

Saturday, December 2

Imperial Weight - How Long

It seems that Her Majesty's Government (or HMG as it is known not so affectionately) has not exactly made up its mind about the use of non-metric measurements becoming illegal from 2010. Of course, that does not really matter since it is not HMG or the UK Parliament that makes the necessary decision.
It is instructive to read the mealy-mouthed responses the noble Minister, Lord Truscott, made last Monday to a Starred Question put down by the amazing Lord Pearson of Rannoch:

My Lords, the use of imperial units alongside metric units is permitted by current legislation until 31 December 2009. The Government think that there is a strong case for extending this permission beyond that date and, perhaps, permanently. We await with interest a consultation paper from the European Commission, which is expected to address this issue.
The rest of the short debate was taken up by a number of noble lords pointing out the stupidity and economic nonsense of making the printing of non-metric measurements a criminal offence. Exactly, what business is it of the government’s (and I do mean the one in Brussels), anyway?
There is also a priceless intervention by Lord Dykes, who seems to think that metric equals progressive, despite the fact that the world’s largest economy across the pond, which is still doing better than any European one, prefers to go on using imperial measurements. But then it is in God not the EU that the USA trusts!

Friday, December 1

More about Less

According to the Local Government International Bureau (LGIB - a very Soviet sounding title but we are told that are all very good eggs, really) the European Commission is threatening to suspend Structural Fund payments to the UK unless it improves its auditing of how the money is spent.
Graham Meadows, the Director General for Regional Policy at the LGIB , has said that "irregularities" have been found in all English regions, including the North East but noteabley not the (beautiful) South West - that's the huge 'Region' consisting of the counties of Devon, Cornwall, Somerset and Gloustershire.
Now we have what we think is a good and very simple idea. If we were to suspend all of our payments of considerably larger sums into the EU coffers (many millions) until such time when the EU's Court of Auditors finally signs off an annual (or any other) budget.
Now that is really very simple. So simple in fact that it is probably missing the point.
Actually there is no such thing as ''European money ''. Yes we know that many people in Government set ups, particularly regional government type bods, in the ever expanding organisations (and their 'quango derivitaves') talk of this wonderfull ''European Funding''. But it is really British Tax payers money paid back to the British people by the EU Commision with huge (and non-negioatable) conditions. Well now, soon it will not even be that good since we will (as we have poined out in Troy's briefs) be paying many millions more and getting back many millions less.
The real reason that there will soon be hardly any EU Structural Funds available is all because of the vast and costly needs of the needs of the eastern European '' Member States''.
The obvious question is: would we not be better off out (of the EU) ? Answers below in the comments box please.

The End of Week Quote

Congratulations to a Very British Commando who despite the threat of a Court-Marshal wrote the letter we post below in today's Daily Telegraph.

Sir - I am a serving Royal Marine Commando who has just returned from a combat outpost in Helmand province, where I will shortly be returning.

I read your report (November 30) concerning Marines' pay with interest.

Cost-cutting measures employed by the MoD on combat operations are increasingly impressive; cheap defective bullets, insufficient helicopters, reduced pay entitlements. I suspect that if I no longer required the use of them, then my organs would also be auctioned on Ebay.

Harry Masters, Birmingham