Sunday, December 28

The Power and the Properganda

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Christopher Booker is in an optimistic mood today in his column, declaring that, "2008 was the year man-made global warming was disproved".
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To support his thesis, he points out that all over the world, temperatures have been dropping in a way wholly unpredicted by all those computer models which have been used as the main drivers of the scare. He thus tells us that last winter, as temperatures plummeted, many parts of the world had snowfalls on a scale not seen for decades. This winter, with the whole of Canada and half the US under snow, looks likely to be even worse. After several years flatlining, global temperatures have dropped sharply enough to cancel out much of their net rise in the 20th century.
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Secondly, 2008 was the year when any pretence that there was a "scientific consensus" in favour of man-made global warming collapsed. At long last, as in the Manhattan Declaration last March, hundreds of proper scientists, including many of the world's most eminent climate experts, have been rallying to pour scorn on that "consensus" which was only a politically engineered artefact, based on ever more blatantly manipulated data and computer models programmed to produce no more than convenient fictions.
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Thirdly, as banks collapsed and the global economy plunged into its worst recession for decades, harsh reality at last began to break in on those self-deluding dreams which have for so long possessed almost every politician in the western world. As we saw in this month's Poznan conference, when 10,000 politicians, officials and "environmentalists" gathered to plan next year's "son of Kyoto" treaty in Copenhagen, panicking politicians are waking up to the fact that the world can no longer afford all those quixotic schemes for "combating climate change" with which they were so happy to indulge themselves in more comfortable times.
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Making the point is a piece in The Times - business section headed, “Blackout fear as UK power plants face axe.”The story is interesting because it tells us that the effects of the EU's Large Combustion Plant Directive is going to be more damaging than predicted. The nub is that, when power plant operators made their decisions to opt out of the directive and thus close down a number of coal plants by 2015 rather than pay the exorbitant sums needed to conform with the directive, it was assumed that these plants would only be used for peak generation, working on limited hours.
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Because of the recent price distortions in the energy market, however, these plants have been working more or less full time, providing base load electricity and thus becoming worn out faster than anticipated. With major refits being economically unviable, given the limited lives of the plant, many will now have to close down early.
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The first of them, Scottish Power's 1.2GW plant at Cockenzie, which generates enough power for 1m homes, will close as early as September 2010 based on current rates of electricity production. The "energy crunch" is thus predicted to hit us by 2013 rather than 2015, as we lose some 7.6GW of electricity – ten percent of the UK's total capacity.The seriousness of this issue is such that it is this, rather than their fatuous obsession with "climate change", on which our policy-makers should be concentrating, to say nothing of the anticipated shortfalls in crop yields that will come as a result of the extended bad weather.
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Unfortunately, therefore, while Booker is undoubtedly right – the miasma of "global warming" having now lost whatever credibility it ever hand, the dark shadow of obsession still afflicts our ruling classes and they are not even beginning to budge.
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One suspects it will take catastrophic failures in our own electricity supply system, and famine on a global scale before reality percolates the dismal thinking of our politicians.
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The Sunday Quote

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''By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.''

Confucius (551 BC - 479 BC)

A Subject of Cost

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A visit to The Daily Telegraph website reveals that each member of the House of Lords now costs us nearly half a million pounds a year, the total costs of running the "most exclusive club in London" now reaching £305 million in the last financial year. In 2002-2003, the total cost was £110 million.
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From the current inflated sum, direct expenses paid to peers top £18 million, with some 17 peers claiming £60,000 each in "tax-free perks". They include Britain's most expensive lordship, Labour's Baron Brett of Lydd in Kent, a former trade union leader, whose expenses totalled £66,197. He registered an address in Cumbria as his main home. Lord Kinnock, the former Labour Party leader and EU commissioner, submitted claims totalling nearly £22,000 after being made a peer in November 2007.
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The Daily Mail runs a similar story, but focuses more on the individual gravy-train riders, attracting over 200 comments on its website – all of them hostile to the peers as far as I can see. Needless to say, by far the greater number of their Lordships with their snouts firmly in the trough are Labour peers.Where their Lordships – and the Commons – seem to have been highly productive, however, is in creating new offences, The Telegraph running a story which tells us that the government has been creating an imprisonable offence once every four days over the past ten years.
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Strictly speaking, it is not the government as Parliament – the House of Commons and Lords combined - must approve any measure that introduces an imprisonable offence. Of course, it is a long time since that Parliament took any interest in such matters and, the record shows us why.
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With the members of both Houses now more interested in lining their pockets than doing their jobs – debates on MPs' expenses being among the best attended – it is easy to see that they have little time to attend to the liberties of the Queen's subjects.
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What this really does reinforce, though, is how far our ruling classes have become detached from any sense of reality. If they had they slightest grip, they would not be milking the system but, given that there seems to be little connection between them and the real world, they are quite happy to justify their increased takings.
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It cannot last. It never does. The tumbrels will eventually roll. But, for the time being, we have to suffer "their noble parasites" – as they preside over the wreckage of what was once a proud and useful institution.
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Friday, December 26

Boxing Day Quote

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''We should take care not to make the intellect our god; it has, of course, powerful muscles, but no personality. ''

Albert Einstein (1879-1955)
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Thursday, December 25

A Christmas Ramble




I have always quite liked Scrooge before he went all wet and sissy and started buying turkeys that were too big to roast in time. (I mean when did the Cratchits actually get round to eating that bird?)

Several things have always struck me as interesting about that book, apart from the stunning writing. One is that it is a very fine example of Dickens's usual inability to understand that wealth is created by people who work. He really hated the idea of people being employed. They are always miserable and the bosses are either complete slave-drivers or they do not require their subordinates to do anything at all. Clearly in those days HR management was less well developed but our Victoria forefathers (and mothers) created an economic wealth that was the bedrock of the 20th century advances that we have all enjoyed.

Secondly, it seems that in the far more religious Victorian age Christmas day was not silent with everything that could be, closed. You could buy a turkey and you could get it roasted at the local bakery, though there is some talk in the novel of the kill-joys wanting to close down the latter. Well, they have succeeded.

Thirdly, one cannot help wondering why Bob Cratchit doesn't get a better job or stop having children or both. The truth is that he is no more responsible than Mr Micawber and considerably less entertaining. A bit of self empowerment would perhaps help!

Anyway much can be forgiven a writer who can start a novel with the words "Marley was dead. Dead as a doornail."Well, there we are. I have done my share of bah-humbugging, well almost!
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Next year will be difficult for many a point that was highlighted by nany newspapers yesterday, on the front page of The Daily Telegraph, they reminded us ''Recession will be worse than forecast''.
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That the economic resession will be deep and long is very certain though I had to control my temper when further I read: ''Experts at the Royal Bank of Scotland said more than 400,000 jobs could be lost the first three months of 2009''. That indeed would be the worst rise in unemployment over a quarter since 1980. Those same experts who now only retain their highly (over) paid jobs at the expense of the British taxpayer were unable or unwilling to announce in advance that the actions of their greedy incompetent bosses would contribute in a large part to the economic recession that will continue to cause misery on many of their customers.

Those corporate clowns (so called experts and executive bankers) at the RBS/Nat West Group who are typical of so many corporate employees that are apart of the economic ills of the western world. Nothing short of a spell of working in the reality end of business (small business) as soon as possible in the new year will introduce them to the reality of the business world.
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It goes without saying that Christmas is supposed to be the time of peace and goodwill to all people (though corpoarte clowns must be an exception) even if the divorce rate soars after the holiday.

Christmas is also supposed to be a time of reflection, and a break from the more worldly things - even if more people are expected to log on today for on-line shopping than attend a religious ceremony.

It is also a day off for many, although for too many it is just one day in a period of enforced idleness, with many companies extending their breaks for a month in order to cut costs and stock inventories, necessitated by the recession.

Christmas is not what it once was. From a celebration of new beginnings – perhaps – it has become nothing more than a temporary cessation of hostilities, since in many ways that is how the business world has become, hostile.

Christmas is a time when 'the enemy' has taken some days off. However, there is a good precedent for that, as pictured above, with the 1914 unofficial truce in the trenches. Basically, what that amounted to was a day off from trying to kill each other. For that reason alone, it would be nice to have 365 Christmas days in each year – or even for just one year – when humanity collectively decided to take a break from killing or even excessivly aggressive attitudes.

To those who risk their lives on our behalf ever day , the Men and Women of Her Majesty's Armed Forces Forces as well as the Civilian Servives they deserve at least one thought from us today. Today is the anniversary of that day when, 94 years ago, their predecessors spontaneously decided they should take a break from conflict in the bleak trenches of northern France.
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A very Merry Christmas to all our readers, may your God and if it is possible also your loved ones be with you.
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Peter Troy
Sedegefield
County Durham


Peter Troy is Chairman of Peter Troy The Publicist Ltd. www.the-publicist.co.uk

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Wednesday, December 24

A Christmas Game

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For those who would like to engage in a good Christmas game there is a posting on the Conservative History Journal blog that takes up an idea first proposed on the New Culture Forum: a list of fifty historical dates that everyone must learn because of their importance. Some suggestions are up already and Very British Subject readers might like to contribute to the discussion, in between eating turkey and playing with new presents.
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Sunday, December 21

The Sunday Quote


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''If you have an important point to make, don't try to be subtle or clever. Use a pile driver. Hit the point once. Then come back and hit it again. Then hit it a third time with a tremendous whack.''

Sir Winston Churchill, FRS, OM. PC

(30 November 1874 – 24 January 1965)
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British Withdrawal from Iraq

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General Sir Mike Jackson has written today in The Sunday Telegraph about the impending departure of British forces from Iraq, telling us that the withdrawal "represents a most significant achievement after what will have been a very difficult and challenging six years."He thus tells us that Britain’s Armed Forces "will leave Iraq with heads held high" and that they "should be proud of their efforts".
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That is fair enough, applied on an individual and unit level, where the courage, tenacity, skill, dedication – and suffering – of our troops (and airmen and sailors) is to be applauded, unreservedly. They did what they could, and many did more than we had any right to expect of them.
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However, we – and they – should not run away with the idea that the campaign was a success. At best, we could describe it as an "heroic failure". Our armed forces were under-resourced, undermanned and ill-equipped from the very start, given a job that they could not hope to achieve; thus, predictably – but with no reflection on those at the cutting edge – they failed.In the end, after abandoning the outer provinces, with their ignominious retreat from al Ahamrah, forced on them by the pitifully inadequate resources allocated to the Maysan Battle Groups – they were driven out of all but one of their bases in Basra, until they were hunkered down in the former Basra airport, out of the game.
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It took Iraqi troops, with the support of the US – including its massive air power – to recover Basra from the Mahdi Army and it was not until June that they did likewise with al Amarah.
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The new Iraqi government, "expectations of immediate economic improvement were understandably but unrealistically high" according to the General. Their frustration at not seeing this realised quickly turned to anger with the Coalition forces thus this volatile situation was "much exacerbated by the security vacuum created by Washington's appalling decisions to disband the Iraqi security forces and to de-Baathify the public administration to a very low level; the latter marginalised the very people who were best placed to help."These decisions, asserts General Jackson, "may well have doubled the time it has taken to get to where we are now."
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Then there was the Iranian backing for Shi'a "militants", which was a further difficult complication. And there was also "the lack of a coherent reconstruction plan and the failure in Coalition capitals to understand fully the complexity of the situation."
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All this may be true, and no one will disagree that the Americans made some appalling mistakes. But so did the British. Immediately after the invasion, they failed to recognise that a Shi'a insurgency was building up round them, initially attributing attacks to Saddam loyalists and the remnants of his forces.
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Instead of taking on the militias, they gave ground to them, made deals with them, and then eventually handed southern Iraq to them on a plate.Much of that was entirely the responsibility of the politicians, and Tony Blair in particular, who lacked the courage, in the face of the growing unpopularity of the war, to commit the resources and the men to do the job properly. Instead, his "spin" machine went into high gear, painting a wholly false picture of a "success" that was belied by the fact that the security situation was getting worse, and worse and worse.
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Writes Jackson, "the campaign became a long haul – we had to have the strategic endurance to see it through." But we didn’t. We did not have the "strategic endurance" nor the political endurance, nor the political will. So it was fudged.
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Thus, while the Americans may have made all the mistakes in the book, they learned from their experiences, adapted and then prevailed. Despite the courage and dedication at the cutting face, the high command failed to adapt, failed to meld the Army into an effective counter-insurgency force, and failed ultimately to provide the leadership that the Army needed.Genaral Jackson writes of "the announcement that Britain is largely to close down its military role in Iraq by May 31, 2009," not acknowledging that the date is not one of our choice. It has been set not by Mr Brown, but the Iraqis. The reality is they have kicked us out.
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Even then, that date might not be the final word. When Gordon Brown so confidently announced it last week, he forgot to tell the world that this was a provisional agreement, subject to ratification by the Iraqi parliament. Without its agreement, our mandate ceases at midnight on 31 December, after which we are required to leave.
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But the Iraqi parliament has not agreed. Yesterday, it threw out the draft law which would have permitted the extension of our stay to 31 May – by a massive 80 votes to 68.Another vote is due next week but there is a strong caucus in the parliament which want to see the back of the British. Not least is Nasser al-Issawi, an MP loyal to Muqtada Sadr. He has hailed the rejection of the draft as a "great national achievement", and said he hoped the foreign troops would be forced to leave when the UN mandate ends.
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If the parliament finally rejects the law, it will be up to Nouri Maliki to save our blushes by exercising his executive powers and signing individual agreements directly with each of the foreign states with troops remaining, giving them – and us - a legal basis to remain. This would be a messy solution, but rather appropriate for a messy war; lest we forget the facts.
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Monday, December 15

A Bizarre Confrontation

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Imagine that a Franco-German MEP, invited to meet the Queen at Buckingham Palace, plonked down in front of her an EU "ring of stars" flag, insisting that she hoist it over the palace alongside the Royal Standard, and then proceeded to address her in a deliberately insulting way. The British people, if news of the incident leaked out, might not be too pleased.
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On Sunday in his column, Christopher Booker picks up on a bizarre confrontation in Hradcany Castle which confirms the inablilty of the Euro-elite to accept anyone else's opinions.
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Sunday, December 14

Inquest: Jean Charles de Menezes

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The Front Page of yesterday's Daily Mail thunders: ''Stockwell Jury dams police cover-up'' under a picture of Jean Charles de Menezes, the young Brazilian Electrian who was killed by ''Police'' (possibly SAS) armed officers over three years ago.

All the UK national newspapers and other news services comment in detail on the verdict of the killing which took place on 22 July 2005.

The Jurors returned an open verdict which was the most strongly critical option available to them after the judge instructed them that there was insufficient evidence to rule that Mr De Menezes was unlawfully killed.

In effect the ''Police'' who killed Jean Charles DeMenezes in front of a train carriage of passengers that day were effectively called liars by the Inquest Jury. Furthermore, in response to specific questions put to the Jury by Sir Michael Wright a High Court Judge acting as Coroner in this case, the jurors responded by rejecting almost out of hand the official version of events provided by the Metropolitan Police. This is clearly a huge embracement particularly (and crucially) that the excuses by the Police that they were under extreme pressure on the day of the shooting was not accepted as valid.

The label below this post leads to other postings that were posted on this blog at various stages in this sad story and cover most of the details, there is little point in chewing over all the depressing aspects of this case again. The string of intelligence and communication blunders which led to Mr de Menezes being wrongly idnentified as the terrorist suspect Hussain Osman - on the bases of a grainey photograph on a gym membership card were rightly condemned at the Inquest.
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The obvious sobering key facts are now well established, the Police operational plans 'Cratos' failed, key officers on the day failed and the cover-up after the event by various Police officers (thankfully) also failed.
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It is difficult not to conclude that much of the shambles on that fateful day was not down to Cressida Dick, the officer in charge of the ill-fated operation, who has since curiously been promoted. Miss Dick and her senior colleagues left the officers who unloaded the fatel shots in an impossible position, equiping them only with garbled messages and seriously bungled intelligemce.
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While the plight of the firearms officers on the day deserves considerable sympathy, it is a matter of grave concern and indeed a damning indictment of the police's fallen standing in our society- that the jury did not belive their account of events.
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If the option of returning an unlawful killing verdict had been open to the Jury, there is a good chance that it would have done so, someting that the de Menezes family will be challenging in the Courts. The conclusions drawn by the jury in the £8 million, three month long trial have quite rightly huge implications for the future operational mangement of Policing in the UK.

It has also to be said specifically that the poor performance of many senior officers of the 'Met' during and since the killing is a matter of considerable public concern. Those senior officers are paid vast amounts of tax payers money to be wise before the event and not after it; quite simply it is their duty to perform to acceptable standards. It is not acceptable that they give poorly preprepared crassly insulting statements about ''lessons learnt.'' to journalists in the wake of official reports and court cases.

When business people grossly fail in their work they suffer the consequences of humiliation, loss of income almost certainly their job and frequently bankruptcy. It is a reflection of the institutionaly corrupt public sector that when senior public servants seriously fail that they are increasingly getting away with making statements saying sorry we will get it right next time. We the public must demand far greater accountability. The inevitable consequence of not demanding that accountability of our very well remunerated and expensively trained public servants is quite simple, the terrorists will win and the public will continue to suffer.
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Global Cooling

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One can be excused for wondering if all this information (or misinformation) about global warming is reality. This year as most of us are aware has been the coldest start to December since 1976.

Since 1 December, the meteorological start to the season, the average UK temperature has been only 35.1F (1.7C), well below the long-term 1971-2000 average of 40.5F (4.7C) for the first 10 days of the month.

It is the coldest start to December since 1976, when the average was 33.4F (0.8C). With Arctic and continental winds have dominated the weather since mid November, bringing colder conditions than normal.

On 3 December the temperature dropped to 9.1F (-12.7C) at Tulloch Bridge near Fort William in the Scottish Highlands and Tyndrum in Central Tayside, while Copley in County Durham received more than eight inches (21cm) of snow the next day.

While forecasters consider the first day of December as the start of winter, many people consider the season to start on the winter solstice, which this year falls on 21 December, next Sunday.

Nick Grahame, the Met Office's chief forecaster, said that did not signal a change in the pattern of weather, with colder air set to return early next week. He said: "The start of the weekend will bring a spell of wet and windy weather as milder Atlantic air attempts to push across the country. However, colder air looks set to win the battle again which means that frost and ice will become hazards with the risk of snow in many places".
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Well, not good outlook for the supporters of global warming!
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The Sunday Quote

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''Government's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases. If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidise it.''

Ronald Reagan - 40th US President (1911-2004).
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Saturday, December 13

The Voice of the People

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The Daily Telegraph tells us to today that our MPs are about to take the longest Christmas break for more than 10 years. It will start next Thursday when the MPs pack their bags and return to their constituencies, not coming back until 12 January.
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Quite rightly, Tory Diary expresses some dismay but since parliament has become so marginalised that it has little to do. The MPs might just as well go home, for all the good they can do in Westminster.
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Some MPs themselves are unhappy with the situation, and we are told that the long break has "renewed accusations that politicians are out of touch with the working lives of ordinary Britons". But this is not merely a question being "out of touch". Parliament is these days regreatably impotent. What it says and does now is of very little importance and the fact that MPs can be summarily packed off home tells you all you need to know.
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The trouble is that our Parliament does have a purpose. It is (or should be) in effect, the voice of the people, its debates articulating their concerns. Thus, if parliament is silenced, the people are deprived of a voice.
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As can be seen in currently in Greece, when that happens, people go elsewhere to express their views. While MPs enjoy their break, therefore, they may care to reflect that it is more fundamental – it is a quite serious break between themselves and the people.
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Friday, December 12

Misinformation in the Newspapers

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One significant difference between this recession and the last (and the ones preceding it) is the way newspapers are being hit – mostly through a devastating fall in the amount of advertising, although there are many other factors.
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Quietly, the big titles are downsizing, reducing the number of journalists they employ. Then, with the burgeoning number of pages and supplements they have to offer, plus podcasts, TV clips and the rest, journalists are actually being asked to do more and more, giving them less time to devote to research and real in-depth reporting.
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An important side-effect of this is that, increasingly, the news is not generated by newspapers but by the various agencies. Much of the copy is now simply a "cut and paste" job, with a few tweaks, the less honest of the papers then simply adding their journos' names to the final result.Where this gets important is that a very few news agencies (and then a very few journalists within those agencies) are essentially controlling the print (and indeed much of the rest of the electronic) media. Through this means, one sees insidious distortions and simplifications which completely change the context of the political debate. Thus, like water flowing through the cracks in the dam, they percolate everywhere, finding their way into thousands of print and online journals, influencing the way people think about the world.
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By way of example, today we have today a comment by Declan Ganley and Jens-Peter Bonde on the scandalous behaviour of the Irish government, in forcing through another referendum on the constitutional Lisbon treaty. As to what is put to the Irish people, "Not one word or legal obligation will be changed," they say. "The same content will simply be put in a new envelope, just as Valery Giscard d'Estaing said about the change from the Constitution to the Lisbon."
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Then we have AP briefly reporting on the same issue, under the heading, "EU: Ireland will vote again on treaty next year". This will be repeated a thousand-fold across the world, to be read by millions.The distortions are well evident, but only to those who know. It tells us: "France, which holds the EU presidency, says Ireland would hold a second vote in return for changes in the treaty." Then, of course, we get the bog-standard formula for describing the treaty: "The document is meant to streamline EU decision-making and boost its role on the world stage…".As the Ganley – Bonde duo rightly point out – the best the Irish can get is a few meaningless "declarations" which have no legal effect. There will be no changes to the treaty … there cannot be. But this is not what AP is projecting. Its idle simplifications are a complete distortion. They project something which is quite simply not true.
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As for the intent to "streamline EU decision-making …" etc., one could write an essay on how wrong that is. But the canards survive, because they are convenient, mindless formulae for the agencies to churn out in their bid to supply the endless pap to fill the pages of the world's media.
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At the receiving end, you have production-line journalism, concerned only with filling in spaces – not one whit of sentient thought between copying out the agency text and pasting it onto the virgin page. Worse still, this process is not a deliberate attempt to deceive. But that makes it all the more dangerous.
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Media bias, in this context, has never been more real and more dangerous, but the source is not in the offices of the media so much as the agencies which supply them; the drip of misinformation is endangering the political process.
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Monday, December 8

Financial Crises

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Europe's financial crisis has hardly begun. The loss of $500 billion by Europe's banks into the US Sub-prime fiasco is only the starter as far as the full picture is concerned. Europe's banks have also been shovelling out loans into the hands of dubious borrowers for a decade or more and impecunious third word regimes. Now the downturn has struck, the chickens are finally coming home to roost. The biggest share of third world loans, it should be noted, are held with European banks. Read more posted on The Tap Blog
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Sunday, December 7

Booker on the Blizzard

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In his column today, Christopher Booker takes on the recently published Turner report, full frontal, under the apposite headline: "Blizzard of mad proposals descends on UK."
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Published last week, the report is the first formal production of the government's Committee on Climate Change, chaired by Lord Turner of Ecchinswell, a committee that was appointed in February to give "expert advice on how the UK can best meet its climate change goals."Its full title is "Building a low-carbon economy – the UK's contribution to tackling climate change", and it is available online as a .PDF document running to 511 pages.
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That Mr Booker is one of the few journalists to deal with it is critical terms is depressing enough but what is uniquely depressing is that he – or anyone else - should have to expend any energy at all in so doing.
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As our friend points out so lucidly, in the limited space he has, the report is a catalogue of the most unremitting tosh, page after page of the most unrealistic, unscientific wishful thinking that does not have the remotest chance of coming to fruition.
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In a sane world, this report would have been killed at birth, long before it got anywhere near the printing presses - and its stock of 75 percent recycled paper. Someone on the lower reaches of government would have taken one look at it and tossed it into the waste-paper bin, then composing a stiff memo to his minister, suggesting that Turner and his committee should be put out to grass. But we are not in a sane world.
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Interestingly, in The Sunday Telegraph today, we have another piece which addresses the "wind power targets" and the claims by the Turner committee that wind power can supply a third of Britain's electricity. These, we are told, "have been condemned as wildly optimistic by leading experts."Actually, they are not "wildly optimistic". They are barking mad, so way beyond any possibility of achievement that their inclusion transcends mere myopia and stupidity and descends into the realms of lunacy. Yet – by government and so many others – they are being taken seriously, as if they were the production of sane, rational human beings.
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The huge problem, though, is that despite the Turner report being a policy document created by blind technocrats, it will be adopted without input from the political classes. There will, for instance, be no debate in parliament on the report and, even if there was, it would be a low-grade, lacklustre affair as the main political parties have bought into the "climate change" miasma and argue only over detail rather than substance.
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So it is that the debate lies outside the realm of formal politics, witnessed by Mr Booker's columns on the issue routinely occupying the top slot on the "most viewed" section of his newspaper.
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The Sunday Quote

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It takes little talent to see clearly what lies under one's nose, a good deal of it to know in which direction to point that organ.

W H Audin (February 1907 – September 1973)
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The right kit

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Without the right kit, our armed forces cannot function effectively, no matter how brave and well-led they might be. Thus, the apparently arcane issue of defence procurement is of vital importance to the well-being and effectiveness of our military. A recent contribution to the debate on procurement is the book "Changing the Dinosaur's Spots" by Bill Kincaid, himself an "insider" who spent 18 years in the MoD, recomended reading.
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Sobering Words

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Charles Moore was rampant in The Daily Telegraph yesterday giving vent to "New Labour'' buried deep in his piece are some sobering words. Of the Speaker, and of Parliament as a whole, he writes:
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Mr Martin does what so many MPs have done in the face of the draining of powers to Europe, Whitehall, the courts and the media. He has settled for bigger offices, more pay, larger expenses and a massive pension - preferring a mess of pottage for himself to the birthright that is ours.It has been saddening in this rumpus to see how little the general public seem to mind the mistreatment of Parliament - saddening, but understandable. We believe less and less that it belongs to us: we are right.
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He is absolutely right when he notes "how little the general public seem to mind the mistreatment of Parliament." Far from universal outrage over the presumed breach of parliamentary privilege, what is clear at the time of the first reports was amusement, observing that most ordinary people rather enjoyed the prospect of an MP's pad being turned over by the Old Bill.

Interestingly, Moore refers not to the "privileges" of MPs and parliament, but to "rights" and it is undoubtedly because MPs as a collective are so heedless of our rights that we care so little for theirs.

.The most important of ours, of course, is the right to have a legislature which makes our laws and is accountable for them, rather than outsourcing them to Brussels and the legions of anonymous officials in Whitehall and elsewhere.Taking Moore's piece in the round though, we on this blog would not disagree with his condemnation of New Labour. But what is dislikeable about Tory tribalism is the easy fiction that history begins in 1997. It is this that allows all the ills of our society to be laid at Labour's door.The processes by which the authority of parliament has been eroded, however, started long before Labour took office, not least in 1972 when we joined the EEC - under a Conservative administration.

Another giant step in its decline was the ratification of the Maastricht treaty, where John Major rammed through the amendments to the ECA in the teeth of opposition from his own party, a trauma from which the Conservatives have still to recover.But another gigantic step was Baroness Thatcher's ill-conceived reforms of the civil service with introduction of "Next Step" agencies in 1988, and in particular the creation of regional government. These, above all else, broke the link between parliamentary accountability and huge tranches of public administration; that, combined with the increasing resort to Statutory Instruments – which saw its biggest leap forwards in the Major era as a handy mechanism for introducing EU law without the inconvenience and embarrassment of a parliamentary debate - and the scene was set for New Labour, which has continued rather than started the process of decline.

The other neglected issue is the nature of our parliamentary system which is, at its very heart adversarial. The system relies not only on good government but good opposition. The one goes with the other to make a whole.

It is here that we as a nation have been so badly let down. Not only have we had to suffer an uniquely bad government but we have been thus saddled at a time when the opposition has also been weak and ill-directed. The failures we see therefore, are not simply those of the government but of the system as a whole, the lack of robust and effective opposition being a significant contributory factor.Whether or not the situation is recoverable, others can argue but one suspects it has gone too far down the road to destruction.

Certainly, it is going to take a lot more than a debate in Parliament. What will make the difference will be when MPs start to realise that they are in Parliament not to defend their rights but ours.

Frankly it isdifiult to see this happening in the short term and until it does, there will be very little general public sympathy for MPs, even if the Old Bill turns over the whole damn lot of them. It is rather a variation on the theme of "mind over matter". We don't mind, because they don't matter.

Indeed they don't matter to us, because we don't matter to them. In the meantime the ripple effects of corporate banking incompetence ripple through the engine room of the British economy without any real apparent understanding from our elected officials.

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Tuesday, November 25

Only the Ignorati will be impressed

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"Gordon Brown borrowed us into this mess, and now he would like to borrow us out of it. We now know what he means by PSBR (Public Sector Borrowing Requirement). It is the Price of Subsidising Brown's Re-election.

."That is from Bruce Anderson in The Independent responding to Darling's pre-budget report, they don't get much more left wing than The Independent. Yet, this paper gives a right-wing commentator house room when he writes, "Brown is not after economic recovery, he's after votes."The trouble is, Brown may get them.

Mr Darling in his speech yesterday said, "Inflation is forecast to come down sharply, reaching half of one percent by the end of next year." He adds: "Lower commodity prices and lower interest rates, which boost incomes and help business profits, together with the fiscal reaction across the world, will also help."Add to that the cut in VAT, the increase in pensions, Christmas bonus and pension credit, the increase in child benefits, an increase in the child element of the child tax credit and our Mr Darling claims to be helping 15 million people. Taking into account the drop in inflation, those people will be winners and by the time of the 2010 general election they will feel marginally better off.

While others chase the "yoof" vote, as a rule of thumb, pensioners are five times more likely to vote than people of the age 25 and under, giving Brown a tactical advantage, while he passes some of the costs of his bonanza on to people who would not vote for him anyway, or simply will not be voting. By the time his target voters go to the polls, Brown's "luck" may have held out and, despite the prognostications of today, he could pull off an historic fourth term for Labour.

The trouble is that the political commentators are too clever by half. Much of the detail of this pre-budget speech is highly technical and will wash over most people who will neither understand it nor care. And nor have they noticed that Darling, undoubtedly with the approval of Brown, is gradually adding to the burden of "green" taxes.Most, for instance, will have missed his reference to including aviation in the ETS from 2012 yet that will pull him in possibly £400 million a year and rising, without a single voice in protest from the political classes. Add to that an increasing amount from the energy companies though the existing ETS auctions and, before too long he is looking and extra billion a year flowing into his coffers, going up as the years pass.

Another little twist to the speech is his commitment to extend the renewables obligation for an additional 10 years to 2037. That will guarantee a source of income for wind farms and the like at no cost to the exchequer, but will add significantly to electricity costs as more renewables come on line, that this might eventually cost £6 billion a year, but not just yet, allowing Darling to claim, that he is supporting the green agenda, without people noticing the cost.

Combine that with a Conservative front bench which no longer seems to be able to talk in coherent sentences and relies on an ever-increasing diet of pre-cooked sound-bites and the electoral game seems far from over.

The only question is, given all the pain that Darling seems to be storing up for after the election, who would want to be in office after 2010?

But then it is difficult to fathom what politicians think – if indeed they do that, in the end, may be Brown's most effective ally. The ignorati far outnumber the chatterati.
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Sunday, November 23

The Sunday Quote

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For everything there is a season,
And a time for every matter under heaven:
time to be born, and a time to die;
A time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
A time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to seek, and a time to lose;
A time to keep, and a time to throw away;
A time to tear, and a time to sew;
A time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate,
A time for war, and a time for peace.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
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Fishing

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In the wake of last week's report on a "new" Tory policy on fishing, Christopher Booker has this week in The Sunday Telegraph taken a wider look at discarding in his column.
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The issues are personalised around Mick Mahon, a Newlyn fisherman who has done much to bring to light the criminal madness of the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy. After 25 years of living with the lunacy of the policy, Mick has had enough and has decided he will discard no more. Instead, he is "waiving the rules" and landing all the fish he catches. He gives them away to the Fishermens' mission for charity.
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This has so bemused the local fisheries inspector, whose officious zeal has made him the most unpopular man in Newlyn, that his only response do far has been to threaten the mission with prosecution for accepting Mick's charitable gifts.
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Of course, if every fisherman in the country did likewise, and was prepared to stand up to the tide of regulation that is progressively destroying the industry, then at least we would have a fighting chance. But, over the years, most fishermen - and especially their representatives - have sought accommodations with our government, in the hope that they could continue to make a living.
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Sunday, November 16

The Sunday Quote

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''There is one just one rule for politicians all over the world. Don't say in power what you say in opposition. If you do, you'll only have to carry out what the other fellows have found impossible.''

John Galsworthy, Maid in Waiting, 1931.
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This Is Not Time For Tea


By Dr Richard North
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To the disgust of some of the commentators on the Tory Diary blog – but applauded by others – Robert Winnett sketches out the timeline on "How the Conservatives lose the next election".
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Separately, The Sunday Telegraph lead editorial declares, "The Tories should be as angry as the rest of us", pointing out in lucid terms quite why that should be. It then remarks that "the place where there is a dearth of the splenetic anger felt by the rest of us is on the front bench of the Conservative Party."Behind the posturing and preening of the Tory front bench, there is manifestly lacking that outrage at the appalling mismanagement of the current government, which means that the Tory leaders fail entirely to transmit to the nation sense of conviction or seriousness.
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In September, just before the Conservative Party conference and after a series of carefully crafted posts not least this one, I called for a clear statement of policy on energy - an absolutely vital need if we are to stop the lights going out.Of course, we did not get that statement – nor even a proper speech on energy – at the conference. Instead, as we later discover, we instead got the Friends of the Earth.
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As with energy, so it is with defence, we get the same lack of coherence. Instead of an energentic and principled attack on the government, we see the Tory opposition staring at an open goal and then sauntering off to the pavilion for a cup of tea, leaving the balls unattended.
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In this context, please spare the time to have a look at this piece. It tells the horrifying and desperately sad tale of Sergeant Hickey, which cannot help but move you. Tears do not come easily to me but, after a long interview last night with Sgt Hickey's mother, Pauline (on which this account - heavily revised from the original - is partially based), I struggled with this one and still do.
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Of course, it goes without saying that one harbours a deep, unremitting anger at the government for sending gallant soldiers like Sgt Hickey into the battlefield (and that it was) so unprepared that their horrible deaths were all but inevitable. But, if you can spare a little bit more time to read this, you will see that the failures and dereliction were not entirely on the side of the government. We convey in this piece a stark illustration of how the opposition too failed to do its job.
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I do not accept – as some argue on the Tory front bench - that oppositions are powerless, or that they cannot control or dictate the political agenda. Careful, research-driven, forensic opposition always yields results – that is how Thatcher won her first election. But this is something the Conservatives, under the tutelage of David Cameron, have forgotten how to do.
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Thus, I agree with the thrust of The Sunday Telegraph pieces this morning. As long as this is the prevailing image of the Tory front bench, then the paper has it right. The Tories are on their way to a defeat at the next election. That will be a catastrophe for them but, as it stands, a Tory victory would be an even bigger catastrophe for the country than a continued Labour administration. And that, dear reader, the tragedy of our times. All that is on offer from our political classes is a choice of catastrophes.
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Saturday, November 15


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Welcome to Very British Subjects
Left Peter Troy, Editor.

Tuesday, November 11

The Eleventh hour

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The hour cometh (11o'c on the 11 th Day of the 11 th month) and some of us were silent for the two minutes. Others, of course, will be silent for eternity, and it was those we remembered, those who gave the ultimate sacrifice and those who did their duty to their country and have passed away with the passage of time. We salute them all.
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But fine words and moving ceremonies are more for us than they are for the dead. Those who serve our country and those who in the near future and beyond are put in harms way, like some of their comrades before them, some will not survive the experience. That is the way of war. It is unutterably sad, but that has been the way of things since the dawn of time. But some of those, in the past, should not have died.
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Their fall arose, albeit though the direction action of our enemies, but compounded by the stupidity, ignorance, laziness or even the corruption of men and women whose duty it was to care for them and minimise the risks. They should be remembered especially.The purpose of so doing is to remind ourselves that, even in war, terrible though it is, death is not always inevitable. Even the arena of battle life should be treasured and respected.
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Remembering those who have fallen, and who should have walked away alive, we remind ourselves that it is our duty – collectively as is the case in a democracy – to do our best to ensure that those who do serve now and in the future are not put needlessly at risk.We owe that to those whom we and who then serve, and die.
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For those who say that today is not a day for politics, the answer is yes it is, ever more so. Politics is important; it is politics that sends young men and women to their deaths. It is politics which protects them and brings them back safe. That is the real stuff of politics – not the prattling in the chamber of theatres that has become the House of Commons which is now over reported in our mainline media.
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The reality of life and death is not some abstract issue for us to watch on the television from the comfort of our living rooms, but something which – even in our small ways – we have the power to affect.
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So, while we remember the dead, we must also remember the living and those about to die. We owe them that.
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Sunday, November 9

The Sunday Quote

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Above: PC Jennifer Troy (centre) Marching to the War Memorial in the City of Leicester for the City's Annual Service of Remembrance today.

''As far as the Armistice itself was concerned, it was a kind of anticlimax. We were too far gone, too exahausted really to enjoy it. All we wanted to do was go back to our billets, there was no cheering, no singing. That day we had no alcohol at all. We simply celebrated the Armistice in silence and thankfulness that it was all over. I believe that happened quite a lot in France. It was such a sense of anticlimax. We were drained of all emotion. That's what it amounted to.''
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Corporal Clifford Lane
1st Battalion, Herfordshire Regiment.
The Imperial War Museum Sound Archive, recorded in 1972.
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A Very British Issue

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One of the mysteries of our time, Booker writes, is the perennial reluctance of so many politicians and journalists to explain how much of the mess we are making of the business of government in this country derives from the avalanche of new laws, policies and decisions pouring out of our hidden government in Brussels.
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Everywhere we look, businesses (particularly small businesses) and other organisations are struggling in the miasma of confusion this creates, where it is no longer clear who is responsible for the laws they must obey, or what those laws are or are meant to say.
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The stories, in the press, speak for themselves, all pointing to one thing – that government is now so diffuse and complex that no one really understands it, or even knows where the centres of power lie.The problems go far beyond "Europe". The European Union, as much as anything, has become a portal for a proto world government in all but name.
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Since the system of EU Government has become so utterly obscure and Byzantine in its complexity, it has the hacks and the chatterati diving for cover, seeking refuge in their individual comfort zones as they seek to avoid the reality of the mess modern government has become. Clearly the top and bottom of this is situation is accountability.
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Government of a modern nation is a very complex affair – we have to work with other nations, agreements have to be made and deals struck. Much of the internal administration of the nation has to be delegated, left to the ranks on anonymous officials who exercise power in a myriad of ways.
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What matters is that, when things go wrong, someone must be accountable and be brought to account. The mechanisms must then exist to remedy matters and, as far is possible, to undo any wrongs. This is traditionally the role of Parliament, and the threat of it exercising is power is both the safety valve and the ultimate deterrent.
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The fact is though, it no longer works. There is no single place where the buck stops. The buck stops nowhere. Because everybody is responsible, nobody is responsible, leaving Parliament an idle, empty talking shop, full of vain, posturing idiots who fill their time with prattle and useless gestures.
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On a day when a great newspaper offers a diet of fantasy politics, he points to the miasma that fogs our society. We are lost in that fog, leaving us leaderless and confused. And that is the way it will stay, unless or until we demand that Parliament re-asserts its authority in our name, the name of the British people.
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Sunday, October 26

The Sunday Quote


''Where there is great power there is great responsibility .... where there is no power there can, I think, be no responsibility.''

The Rt. Hon Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill KG OM TD CH FRS - 28 Feb 1906

Sunday, October 19

From The Square

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.... Or perhaps more accurately from The Editor's Telegraph.

The Booker column today has a heart-warming tale; It describes how a couple, Graham and Sara Blackmore who ran a small skip hire company in Cardiff, had been turned over by officials from the Environment Agency and finally, having had their "day in court", had come away found innocent of all charges.

The story speaks for itself and is well worth reading on the link provided. But, what does not come over from this tale on its own – but will be apparent to regular Booker column readers – is one essential feature that makes it news. That "news" is the very fact that, despite being "framed" by the Environment Agency with a series of malicious, trumped-up charges, the couple were actually found "not guilty" in a court of law. This is not always the case and in a distressing number of instances, innocents are found guilty of "administrative" offences by courts which too often support "their officers" – the officials – right or wrong. I recall many such situations in my 10 years as an activist with the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).

A particular case is that of Janet Devers, featured heavily in The Sunday Telegraph today the week before the last the hapless lady was found guilty by Hackney magistrates for offences under the Trades Description Act.Apart from the issues involved – the sale of goods measured using the Imperial system – a review of the evidence demonstrates that the trading standards officer did not prove his case. There were major technical flaws in his evidence, in key areas he was shown to be lying and evidence was given from a number of witnesses that events the TSO claimed to have happened – which were essential to secure a conviction – simply did not take place.

On those grounds alone - without considering the general merits of the issue - the case should have been dismissed. But the Magistrates chose to believe the version of events offered by the officer – even though, under cross-examination, he had admitted they were not true – and convicted Janet. She is now to appeal; as one who has won more than one appeal against the injustice of lower courts as well in other cases of over over inflated small minded egos have needed to be brought bang to right, I wish Janet every success.

Yesterday we must note with concern that The Daily Telegraph was headlining – front page in the print copy – the "victory" by the metric martyrs. It is not a victory; far from it (Anyway the Metric Martyrs title is a misnomer, they should be the Imperial Martyrs but that is an other issue).

The EU regulations have not been changed and until they are nothing has changed. All that is being proposed – and then only in the next few months – is that UK local authority "guidelines" on prosecution are to be changed.What can so easily be changed administratively can, in a few years time – when everybody has forgotten the "victory" and moved on – can be changed back again; even then, this is just a "guideline" which, can be ignored anyway. It has no legal effect what so ever.

The key to all this though is the Rt Hon John Denham, the Innovation Secretary, he apparently issued guidelines that prevent local authorities in the UK taking traders to court. He is cited as saying: "It is hard to see how it is in the public interest, or in the interests of consumers, to prosecute small traders who have committed what are essentially minor offences."But who is Mr Denham's boss? None other than the Prince of Darkness himself, Peter Mandelson now Lord Foy - the master of spin.
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I have had more than one conversation over recent years with his (now) Lordship. There is no doubt whatsoever about his intentions on full European integration which includes metrication (presumably he has now or for the time being at least , dropped the 'Stalinist' regionalization plans so favored by his fellow New Labour lovies!)

Small businesses in our once great nation have much to concern themselves about at this time, not least the ripple effects of incompetent senior bankers across the globe (with the notable exception the ''the worlds local bank'' the HSBC) officials and bueaucrats driven into action by EU regulations that quite simply do not have public support (or indeed logic). The FSB as the UK's biggest business organisation, is also, according to its web site '' the leading voice of small businesses at the heart of the European Union'' (EU).

Through their dedicated (small) office in Brussels, and their EU team, they no doubt try to ensure the voice of very British entrepreneurs is heard but it is clearly impossible (when one understands what is actually happening with the implementation of so much EU regulation) to make any difference what so ever.

Thus this is how we are now governed in the UK and many of us are getting fed up with it. One wonders what the Federation of Small Businesses can actually do other than support members to the hilt when ''the Inspectors call''. No wonder as I am fond of repeating FSB representative members have twice voted (1995 and 2001) to demand a withdrawal from the EU.

So there we have it, I feel a letter to Colin Stratton (FSB NE Regional Chairman) coming on or perhaps (or indeed both) a visit to the North East Regional AGM on the evening of the 6 November to (the now very referbished ) Grand Hotel in Hartlepool, I know they will be pleased to see me I am after all a member; I was once very active in the FSB, the largest business organisation in the Realm.

Peter Troy
8&9 The Square
Sedgefield.




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The Sunday Quote

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''We must be clear about this it does mean, if this is the idea, the end of Britain as an independent European state … it means the end of a thousand years of history. You may say, "let it end". But my goodness, it is a decision that needs a little care and thought.''


Rt Hon Hugh Gatiskell (1906-1963) leader of the Labour Party from 1955 until his death in office in 1963.

In October 1962 Hugh Gaitskell electrified the Labour Party conference with his 105 minute speech, wholly dedicated to the Common Market, he delivered the singular and now oft-quoted passage that has proved to be horribly prescient.

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Friday, October 17

Time for Tea

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(Flash back, Tea time with Troy on board HMS Trincomalee, 20th September 2005.Graphics courtesy of Radio Hartlepool).

What is happening in this country and indeed the world with regard to the banking crises is so enormous that it is almost too scary to think about. That is, of course, why so many people do not think about it.

That phenomenon is a variation of this, a very natural human reaction to something which is just beyond the capability of most people to deal with.In fact, it is more akin to the reaction of the archetypal housewife on being told that World War II had broken out, busying herself making a pot of tea. At times like this, we all retreat into our comfort zones, close our minds to the impending disaster and hope for the best. But disaster there will be – we are already in the opening phases, and "making a pot of tea" is not going to solve it. But this is not a "sky falling in" type of disaster. That is the wrong analogy.

This is more like the "Temple of Doom" movie. We are trapped in a room, with the ceiling – complete with wicked spikes - getting lower and lower, threatening to crush us all. But every now and again, the ceiling judders to a halt in its downwards path. We breathe a sigh of relief, and hope it is all over. Then it lurches into action and the nightmare continues. One of those "lurches" happened this week, with the stock exchanges plummeting worldwide and the FTSE falling three percent on Thursday, driven by "fears of a recession".

Not only are we reaching into the depths of banking theory which, frankly, very few people (particularly senior bankers) understand we have the overlay of highly complex regulatory systems, framed at national, regional and global levels, together with national and international politics and, of course, the drama of the events themselves.

One yearns for some wise soul to reach out and explain it all, in very simple terms, telling us what to look for, what matters, what is fluff, and to where all this is leading. That, of course, is the stuff of dreams – of child-like fantasies. In truth, there is not one problem but many, all interwoven, and the complexities of modern politics, played out on an international tableau, are such that they defeat even the most experienced commentator.
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How about tea with Troy ? It won't solve anything, but at least it'll make us all feel better.


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Tuesday, October 14


Peter Troy. Editor of this blog
Photographed during a recent visit to Jersey CI.
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Sunday, October 12

Reaction

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The implications for the future of the banking industry of the domino effect of the great banking crises hardly bare thinking about.
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There is a mass of comment available across the UK media today and blogosphere; it is impossible not to feel a frisson of panic at the idea that not only bank machines might run out of money but also that the engine room of the British economy - that's the small business community - will soon run short of vital support from banks who could shortly be powerless to support vital lending facilities.

It has to be said that in the face of the global banking crisis the reaction of our government and that of the US could not have been more different in terms of openness.

In the US a plan was formulated in broad daylight, subjected to intensive public scrutiny and debate, put before both the US Congress and the US Senate for approval and again subject to massive debate before being approved by the democratically elected representatives of the country and put into action.

In contrast here in the UK what do we see ?

As the Banking crisis developed , our government dithered – it reacted to events rather than taking the initiative with a pro-active strategy. The main action was a series of meetings with the institutions of the European Union behind closed doors and completely misunderstood by business lobby groups and the national media.
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It is only after a closed meeting of EU finance Ministers (Ecofin) last week, we see action taken. Parliament is not consulted, there is no public debate. Both Parliament and the people are simply told what is going to happen, there is no vote, no approval just a done deal.

Therein lies the difference – on the one hand in the United States we see, with all its imperfections, a functioning democracy in action. Here in the UK by contrast, in Britain the mother country of modern democracy, we see a cabal of rulers working behind closed doors, coming out into the daylight only to inform us what they have done and how much it is going to cost us.

Thus is how we are now governed in Britain secretly, badly and from Europe.
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The Sunday Quote

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''Banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies''

Thomas Jefferson (1743 - 1826) 3rd President of the US.
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Faulty Regulation

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Dr Richard North has discovered cast iron evidence that the EU commission has known for at least a year that there have been disastrous "shortcomings" in its system of financial regulation. This system include the measures for the application of the "mark to market" rules which lie at the heart of the current banking crisis. His post on EU Referendum is recomended.
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Wednesday, October 8

Banking Crises Update

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Gordon Brown has promised that the Government will "do what it takes" to help families deal with the effects of the global economic crisis such as rising food and energy costs.e effects of the global economic crisis such as rising food and energy. Sounds fine but the UK government is not in charge! costs.
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The Daily Telegraph running out of hyperbole proclaims that the sky is falling in the banking industry and the situation is getting even worse. Christopher Booker in The Daily Mail reckons that this crisis could not only sink the euro, but the whole of the EU as well.
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The British media haven't begun to understand what is going on Ruth Lea for example who is writing about the British government having been "dithering" - ignoring the fact that it is ''Europe '' (EU) that is in charge. With increasing clarity, it is emerging that Messers Brown and Darling were waiting for the go-ahead before acting. That is why they took no action on Monday – they could not until they had had their marching orders from their political masters in the EU. Thus, overnight on Tuesday and into the early hours of this morning was the first time they could have acted, having been given the green light at Luxembourg to break the EU rules.
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Thus is how we are now governed.
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Dithering Darling

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Today, after days of "dithering" Chancellor Alistair Darling suddenly launches "a drastic rescue of Britain's high street banks in move designed to head off a cataclysmic failure of confidence."This just happens to be a day after an emergency meeting of the finance ministers of the 27 EU member states. Is this a coincidence?
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At the (EU) Ecofin meeting yesterday, two things happened. Firstly, the ministers effectively gave the green light to member states to break the EU's own state aid rules.Secondly, they turned their faces away from initiating structural reforms to the regulatory system, which might have freed the logjam in inter-bank lending – preferring instead to make one minor and largely cosmetic change.
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Now, today, we see Mr Darling introduce a scheme designed specifically to free up inter-bank lending, including the provision of at least £200 billion to banks under the Special Liquidity Scheme and the injection of £50 billion capital into a select group of British banks - to the general approval of the Europhile Tory hierarchy. Thus we see an alternative and far more expensive plan aimed at achieving that which the EU members states collectively failed to address.
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Furthermore, it is one which, in its totality, almost certainly breaches EU state aid rules, as well as being "discriminatory" – two of the EU's mortal sins.
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Whilst this is clearly not the end of the current banking crises; it could just possibly be the begining of the end of the EU as we know it!
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Sunday, October 5

The Sunday Quote

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'' Human behaviour flows from three main sources, desire, emotion and knowledge''

Plato

Monday, September 29


Peter Troy
Blogger,Publicist
but not a Golfer

The Peter Troy -The Publicist Ltd Golf team (Captain Chris Williamson second from the left) at the Hartlepool and District Hospice Tornament recently. http://www.the-publicist.co.uk/
Photo. Mike Gibb

Oh Dear Me!


The US bank bailout has been rejected. Wall Street has nose dived.
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'No' vote crushes DowDow falls as much as 730 points as the House rejects the $700 billion bank bailout plan. more . Now what?

Bailout plan rejected - supporters scramble House leaders trade partisan words after historic financial rescue goes down in defeat.
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In the meantime according to Deutsche Welle, the German government has been injecting "billions of euros" into troubled commercial property lender Hypo Real Estate (HRE). This, we are told, is the first German blue-chip company to seek a bailout in the global financial crisis.
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The German Finance Ministry in Berlin is reported to have said it had provided HRE guarantees for an emergency credit line totalling €35 billion (about £25 billion), although there are no plans to nationalise the bank. A spokesman for the finance ministry said the commitment was needed so that [other] banks could bail out HRE.In different times, this might have made front-page news but such is the torrent of financial news that it is hardly surprising that it has been given less than star treatment by the bulk of the UK media.
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To be fair, The Times has picked it up, together with the news of Glitnir, "the struggling Icelandic bank". This was partially nationalised today as the Icelandic Government bought a 75 percent stake in it for €600 million (£478 million) "to ensure broader market stability".The Icelandic bank move was not unexpected but problems with HRE were not widely signalled.
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The Times has Bundesbank, and financial regulator, BaFin, confirming that they were involved in the efforts to bail out HRE, and has their spokesman saying: "The Bundesbank and BaFin now assume that Hypo Real Estate Group is secure."On the other hand, Kiri Vijayarajah, an analyst at Citigroup, counters: "Hypo Real Estate also has other problems. It has exceptionally high leverage, which may no longer be viable. Also, we believe it is likely to experience losses on real estate loans, causing more damage to earnings and capital."When blue-chip German banks start feeling the strain, it is time to wonder where it is all going to end.
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The BBC website today helpfully publishes the full text of the government statement on the nationalisation of the Bradford & Bingley bank and the sale of parts of the business to Spanish banking giant Santander.
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The current status of the deal is confirmed by Reuters which reports the EU commission saying it had been in touch with British authorities over a rescue plan, "and expected them to notify the EU executive of state aid in the course of Monday".The agency cites Jonathan Todd, spokesman for EU competition commissioner Neelie Kroes, who states: "We've been in very close touch with the UK authorities throughout the weekend ... Our understanding is that the UK authorities will notify rescue aid to us today."
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A similar process is in hand with the rescue of the Fortis Bank. The Forbes agency, relying on a Reuters feed, is reporting that EU competition commissioner Neelie Kroes have been consulted on the Fortis rescue and had been "close touch with the Belgian government all weekend.
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As Tony Blair once said: ''it can only get better''.