Thursday, February 28

A Very British Protest

Perhaps the polite, well behaved EU referendum lobbyists should have spurned their well-ordered queues, ignored their MPs and climbed to the roof of the parliament and unfurled their banners demanding a referendum. In terms of publicity, they would have gained a great deal more. For a brief period, the "climate change protesters" Dr North at his best on EU Referendum.

Sunday, February 24

Christopher Booker - The Sunday Telegraph 24 Feb 2008

EU Parliament votes not to take any notice of the people's wishes
There were surreal scenes in Strasbourg last Wednesday as the European Parliament prepared to ratify the Lisbon Treaty by a huge majority. (It says something for the reverence in which we hold that parliament that not a singleBritish national newspaper bothered to report the fact.)
Dressed in yellow chicken suits, three protestors against the refusal of EU governments to allow referendums on the treaty were chased round the corridors and up and down the staircases of the futuristic building by 15 burly securitymen trying to arrest them. When Nigel Farage, leader of the UK Independence Party and one of the 50 MEPs ofdifferent parties who have been leading the pro-referendum campaign, wassummoned to this fracas, he was interviewed by a television crew.Pointing out that no officials had intervened last month when the parliament wasinvaded by anti-GM Greens dressed as bananas, he asked why it was onlypro-democracy protestors who had to be silenced?At the end of the interview, Anne-Margrete Wachmeister, head of the parliament'saudio-visual unit, gave orders that Mr Farage' s comments must not be broadcast.Overhearing this, Shirin Wheeler, presenter of the World Service's Recordprogramme (and daughter of the distinguished BBC correspondent Charles Wheeler)intervened to say that, unless this order was withdrawn, the BBC would withdraw its parliamentary coverage from both Strasbourg and Brussels. The officialbacked down. Meanwhile in the chamber itself the battle continued.
When it was proposed that the parliament "would respect the result of the Irish referendum", the only one to be allowed on the treaty, only 129 MEPs (including one Tory, Nirj Deva)supported it, while 499 (including four Tories) voted that the wishes of theIrish people should not be respected. But what if they vote in favour of thetreaty? It is good to know that our democracy is in such reliable hands.
This Wednesday there will be a mass lobby of MPs at the House of Commons organised by the all-party "I Want A Referendum" campaign. At 2pm I will be at the Central Hall, opposite Parliament, to kick off an afternoon of speeches in support of the campaign, which is also this month staging 10 constituency-wide referendums involving half a million voters. I hope to see a good many Sunday Telegraph readers there.
Don't mention the £43 billion
A shock-horror report in last week's Sunday Times, based on the latest annual "barometer" from the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), showed that the cost of new regulations to UK businesses, according to Government figures, had soared last year by a record £10 billion.Their total cost since 1998 is a staggering £66 billion. All this, according tothe article, could be blamed on the Labour Government.
Nowhere did it mention the EU. But a look at the BCC's press release shows that the origin of these regulations were clearly apportioned between the EU and our own Government. And by far the most costly examples, such as the regulations on working time (£16 billion),vehicle emissions (£9 billion) and data protection (£7 billion), all originated from Brussels. Of the top 10, eight were based on EU directives and the remaining two both hada strong EU dimension. These 10 alone imposed a total cost of £43 billion.
In other words the suffocating cost of these laws can hardly be blamed just on Messrs Blair and Brown. They emanated from what is now in most respects the true government of our country. One can understand why politicians are so anxious to hide this. But why should journalists be quite so ready to follow suit?

The Sunday Quote

"In every generation there has to be some fool who will speak the truth as he sees it."

Boris Pasternak Author (1890 - 1960)

Monday, February 18

Petrol Prices

From today's Northern Echo, click to enlarge

The issues raised in the piece were 'aired' in a piece posted last week. Vehicle fuel in the UK reamains the most expensive in the Western World. Why ? Clearly it is time for the price of vehicle fuel to be the subject of a public watch dog. The British motorist - particularly thoes that are high milage drivers have recenly seen a huge jump in the price of their unavoidable overhead. Hardest hit are the nations small businesses. Perhaps the Federation of Small Businesses will lobby our political masters on the issue?

Sunday, February 17

The Sunday Quote

Law -" Laws are like spiders' webs which, if anything small falls into them they ensnare it, but large things break through and escape."

Solon, quoted in Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers by Diogenes Laertius, c AD 225

Saturday, February 16

Of Fat Minutes and Fat Government

Since one has been talking about Fat Minutes all week (see the Warriors button on the right) One felt it was in keeping to link this rather neat piece from The Tax Payers Alliance Web site - Put Fat Government on a diet to make the cake grow.

Friday, February 15

The End of Week Quote

From The Daily Telegraph, 15 Feb 2008.
The Govoner of the Bank of England is warning us that inflation might reach three percent. Could he tell us which food and fuel both vehicle and domestic, supplies he uses ? Not to mention which tax regime to which he is subject. I for one, would like to enjoy such low costs.
Robert Fletcher
Broadstone, Dorset.

A Right Royal Political Move

"In a clear political move," writes The Daily Mail when HRH Prince Charles addressed the EU parliament telling MEPs they needed to show a more "determined" leadership on global warming. To an invited audience – where no questions were permitted – he declared, "The doomsday clock of climate change is ticking ever faster towards midnight. Dr North's take on the issue is posted on EU Referendum.

Wednesday, February 13

The Windbusters

Last Sunday Christopher Booker reminded us in his Sunday Telegraph column of the great wind scam. A bonanza enjoyed by the developers of wind turbines thanks to the hidden subsidy we all give them through our electricity bills. Under the Government's Renewable Obligation, they receive twice as much for such electricity as the owners of conventional power stations: a 100 per cent top up which makes our wind energy the most heavenly subsidized commodity in British history.

As Mr Booker points out the math's behind the logic of the Giant windmills is faulty considering that they can only produce 27 per cent of capicy due to the wind only blowing in sufficient force at that per centage of the time. To meet the EU target of 38 per cent of of electricity Britain will in fact need 21,000 turbines by 2020. Which will require the building of two giant wind turbines per day over the next 12 years.The British Wind Energy Association the wind energy's lobby group recons that we only need 8,000 of the giant windmills both on and off shore. Apparently they have not allowed for the fact that the wind does not blow hard enough all the time!

So as our nations green and pleasant land is blotted by these giant sops to the Green movement we the consumer (and tax payer) have to continue to subsidize this crazy project. There has to be a better way ....................

Editor's Note. The above image is simulated. The Lancaster Bomber did not really drop a bomb on a very green and environmentally friendly giant wind turbine and no wild rabbits were harmed (or even frightened) in the production of this posting.

Monday, February 11

The Publicist

Fat Minutes, BNI Referrals, Media Training calls from journalists with note pads and microphones have all conspired to prevent frequent blogging. Fans and detractors alike are invited to view my updated business website to view what I have been up to in recent months on the old publicity front. Regular viewers need not worry there are some Troyesque postings in the making. Click Peter Troy -The Publicist on:

Our God and our Wright

''I think that a lot of employment law acts against job creation in this sector [small businesses] I know many small businesses who would like to to employ someone but darn't''. You are often confronted with huge documents of regulations. Yet if 4.5 million businesses employed one extra person, it would have a phenomenal impact, he says. 'We should be more like America, where businesses employing up to five people are exempt from a lot of the legislation' ''

The quote is from John Wright, Chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) from an interview in the 'in house' magazine 'Voice' published and dispatched to the expanding number of Federation members (currently 210,000 ) this week.

Mr Wright is right in highlighting the burdensome effect of employment laws. Indeed he should know all about the effects of the massive volume of employment law which has impacted on businesses since for many years (going back to when he was a Trade Union activist with NALGO) Chairman Wright has sat on many employment tribunals in his native northeast of England.

Though being more like America (Mr Wright means the USA) is most defiantly not on the agenda of our actual government now based in Brussels. Such a concept is not an acceptable part of the ethos of the all embracing European Union (EU). It is of course in the complex and often bewildering institutions of the EU that the UK's employment laws (and all other significant laws) originate which since 1974 British governments have dutifully implemented onto the UK's statute book.

A glance at ( the EU's web site which describes the EU’s new employment and social solidarity programme (titled PROGRESS) will confirm that the Mediterranean will freeze over before our political and bureaucratic masters in the EU (they are but one) will allow small businesses any significant (and probably none at all) concession on the ever increasing volume of EU employment regulations which, as John Wright points out, are hampering growth of small businesses in the UK.

Whilst our cousins in the USA can trust in God (and self government) we in the UK have no choice (because our Parliament so wills it) other than to trust in the EU (without the advantage of self government), a point that Mr Wright of the FSB does not mention in his interview.

Cruel Fuel

Last November the price or petrol and diesel crossed the £1 per litre mark when the cost of oil spiked at $100 per barrel and is currently averaging, for petrol, a huge 103 pence per litre across the country at petrol stations.

Since the price hike of last autumn the recent 12 per cent slide in the price of crude oil has been matched only by a measly 1.8 per cent price reduction at the pumps.
Whilst HM Treasury continues to regard vehicle fuel as a cash cow - taxing the over regulated motorist with ever increasing excess (in keeping with the small businesses community, which is tough if you are both a small business and a high mileage motorist) there is little chance that our political masters will see fit to appoint an oil price regulator or indeed focus the Office of Fair Trade on the issue.

As the Editor of this blog has tirelessly pointed out over the past 8 years British motorists are (unwittingly, mostly) paying about 74 per cent of the cost of filling up their tanks in tax. For every £40 of fuel close on £30 is tax - a combination of VAT and Duty. Few realise that VAT is levied on both the Duty as well as the retail price of the fuel - a tax on a tax in fact. Imagine the protests if British motorists saw the price of the fuel displayed on the pump as £5.20 and then a tax man demanding a further £14.80 at the till, that is what in effect happens every hour of every day this over taxed nation of ours.

Since British supermarkets account for 25 per cent of UK petrol fuel sales; Her Majesty's taxperson (with the authority of the EU) taking a huge share there is little hope of real financial relief for the UK motorist. This despite a huge world surplus of crude oil (US gasoline inventory) since apparently the economic laws of supply and demand do not apply to International Petro Chemical companies.

So there we have it (again), the choice for those of a campaigning nature is simple either another Very British Revolt (the title of the Channel 5 documentry on the Peoples Fuel Lobby in 2000) or we protest by cycling not motoring.

Sunday, February 10

Patientline's Prognosis

The Board of Patientline, now well recognized as the most despised private company in Britain, were compelled under company law last month to gather their shareholders to an embarrassing meeting at the troubled hospital telecoms group's headquarters in Slough.
The situation is that the company is seriously failing and in the process is continuing to add considerable stress in some 70 hospitals across the country. Following an article in Yours magazine at the end of last year the editor of this blog receives regular calls from relatives of mostly elderly patients accross the country concerning the frustrations and cost caused by Patientline's operational failures.

The painful decline of Patientline following well spun support from Tony Blair's 'Patient Power' programme during the height of the 2001 telecoms bubble is well documented both on this blog and in the MSM. Once Patientline was a stock market darling, as shares soared to more than 200p but they have since fallen by more than 99% and are currently only worth around half of one penny. The long term omens were never good: Patientline floated in March 2001 at 175p, just as the dotcom bubble burst. With dealers' screens around the world turning red the shares closed down 8½p on the first day of trading.

Patientline had promised to revolutionise hospital wards. Its system - the first of which was installed in Northwick Park Hospital, Harrow, in 1995 - not only allowed patients to talk to relatives and watch TV, it also promised to allow staff to read electronic notes at a patient's bedside and enable patients to order food. Derek Lewis, the ambitious chief executive of Patientline, claimed the system would save lives. The technology, however, was not cheap and the company's directors showed little understanding how to control the monster they had created.

The cost of installing terminals was substantial, at around an estimated £1,400 a bed, the quality of equipment was poor and the ability to provide an acceptable level of service proved beyond capabilities of the company's senior management.

Patientline footed the bill for installing over 72,000 terminals across the UK in return for an exclusive 15-year contract with NHS trusts. The huge investment - it has run up losses of £100m since floating in March 2001 - has never paid off. Principally because as we have stated many times on this blog Patientline failed to understand the needs of its patients and constantly over charged for a unreliable TV and telecom services.

The company tried to recover its investment by a crazy attempt to raise call charges by 160pc which sparked a political outcry and it was forced to back down; following huge publicity on the operational short comings of Patientline (which this blog took an active part in exposing).
A damming decision by Ofcom that an overlong recorded message (which callers had no option but to pay for) played to callers to patients informing them of the maximum potential cost of their calls caused further damage to Patientline's thin credibility.

The loss making group currently has around £90m of debt, which continues to rise as revenues continue to fall and Patientline's auditors have raised "significant doubts" over the its ability to continue as a going concern. Despite which Patientline continues to advertise for new staff (operational staff turnover is massive) and at least 30 per cent of its hospital ward bedside units are now in some way faulty at any one time.

The prognosis for Patientline's shareholders doesn't look good and petitions signed by distressed patients and their relatives continues to arrive in Very British Subjects Royal Mail mail delivery. It really is time now for political intervention, this company must be forced to cease trading it is simply causing to much distress to sick people which will only get worse as it festers in its self created corporate decay.

The Sunday Quote

''As the French say, there are three sexes - men, women and clergymen.''

Sydney Simith 1771 - 1845 (Lady Holland Memoir)

Saturday, February 9

This Turbulent Priest

There is no avoiding variants in the UK press this week of Henry II’s alleged comment, which sent the four knights on their deadly mission to Canterbury in December 1170.

The Editor of this blog (not in fashion with most chroniclers of English History) has some sympathy for king Henry when he apparantly snapped in a fit of pique: '' will no one rid me of this turbulent priest'' or something roughly equivalent in medieval French. Thus it was that four knights at his Norman court took his words at face value and travelled across to England to assassinate the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas A' Becket.
Henry II is without doubt one of the great kings of England. He laid down the basic principles of our legal system establishing the principles of trial by jury and many other cornerstones of English law which were later to be enshrined in Magna Carter of 1215. Henry's principle political opponent was Becket who led the objection to the legal reforms because it weakened the power of the Catholic Church. Up to that time Church-law controlled from the Vatican in Europe dominated without challenge all legal proceedings (such as they were ). Thus in somewhat general terms one can well understand Henry II's frustration since interference from Europe in our nation's governance is nothing new.

Anyway Dr Helen Szamuely who is is Head of Research at the Bruges Group, co-author of the hugely successful EU Referendum blog and author of Conservative History blog as well as editor of the Conservative History Journal, co-author with Bill Jamieson of A 'Coming Home' or Poisoned Chalice? and with Dennis O'Keeffe of Samizdat, writes an excellent piece following the recent comments by the present Archbishop of Canterbury.
Dr Szamuely writes: Sadly, the story has become too big for us to ignore and it does fit in with one of our usual themes – the need for a British identity to be defined. There has been a great deal written about Dr William's lecture and interview on Radio 4 both in the MSM and on the blogosphere. A lot of it is quite good, a lot of it uninteresting and predictable, a good deal very silly. The full piece is posted on EU Referendum.

A Euro Free Zone

Thank God (and the late Sir James Goldsmith) that Britain is not in the Euro. Had we been inside the eurozone since Blair tried to slide us in the 1990s, our rates of interest would have been so low that the UK property boom would have been as barmy as Ireland's. As it is people complain that the young cannot afford to get on the property ladder. Inside the Euro, the problem would have become far worse with average price houses valued at GBP 160,000, possibly as much as doubling, making most owners of middle class houses into GBP-equivalent millionaires. Read more on by our fellow blogger which is posted on The Tap Blog

Tuesday, February 5

Fresh IRA Offensive

Police officers, soldiers and the British mainland are being targeted by the 'Real IRA' as the terrorist bring their internal reorganisation to a close and prepare a fresh terrorist offensive. The reports over the last two days in the Sunday Tribune and Belfast Telegraph - ignored as usual by the BBC - quote Real IRA 'Army Council' The full story is posted by a fellow blogger on The Waendel Journal

Monday, February 4

The Brigadier

As promised posted above is the Obituary of Brigadier Terrance Michael Troy CBE (1922-2007) which was written by Alasdair Crosby and published in the Jersey Evening Post last December. The article can be enlarged by clicking on the image.

The Brigadier was well known to many hundreds of people from all walks of life both in his native Jersey and across the world not only for his distinguished Army career but also for his many sterling works of public service. Last week I was honoured to receive a hand written note from Baron Healey (Rt Hon Dennis Healey, formerly Secretary of State of Defence) to who's office my Uncle was posted in the late 1960's at the Ministry of Defence prior to his appointment as Senior British Officer at CENTO in Turkey in 1973. The note offered Barron Healey's condolences adding ''he was a great man''. Indeed he was and thus is deeply missed.

For the benefit of future generations Terry Troy has left behind extensive memoirs, documents and photographs covering his eventful life, with the help of various members of my family it is my intention to edit and then publish these items for the benefit of others who have an interest in 20th century history. A living memorial in keeping with my Uncle's character, life and many achievements will be announced by the late Brigadier's family shortly.

Peter Troy
County Durham

Sunday, February 3

Welcome to

Very British Subjects

Editor Peter Troy
Welcome to Very British Subjects
Editor Peter Troy
Comming soon on this Blog:
Cash and PIN
Travels with Gertie
A Very British Retail Chain
The cost of Regulation increases
Of Summons and Small Businesses

Global Freezing

The polar bears make another appearance today, this time in The Sunday Telegraph, as Christopher Booker notes that "Arctic ice isn't vanishing after all". He also observes that, while there was some coverage of the chaos caused in central and southern China by their heaviest snowfalls for decades, little attention was paid to the snow that last week carpeted Jerusalem.

There Is But One Issue

Yesterday's Telegraph leader remarked that, "There should have been only one story in Parliament this week: the ratification of the European Constitution, now called the Lisbon Treaty." So the British newspapers are focused on the issue of the dreaded treaty? Errr well no, they are not. A scan of today's newspapers and the best on offer relating to the EU is a story in The Sunday Times about how Geoff Hoon, the government chief whip, last week carpeted Gisela Stuart, Frank Field and Kate Hoey over their support for the "I Want a Referendum" campaign. Quite simply the key issue of the moment in British Politics is the Lisbon Treaty.

Whilst it is quite clear clear that our Prime Minister is not going to allow a referendum on this key issue because he knows he will lose the argument if it is put to the people that is no reason why we should all just except this without a murmur. This Blog along with may others will murmur, comment , argue, protest, lobby and demonstrate. We are after all very British -it's what we do!

Reporting Crime

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has recently launched a twelve month campaign encouraging businesses to report all crime to the police every time one occurs no matter how minor.

Currently only 1 in 8 incidents are reported and crimes targeted against businesses make up one fifth of all recorded crime. Whilst Chief Constables and Politicians (there is increasingly little difference these days between the two) are keen to inform us that crime is in total on the decrease and how wonderful our Police Service is at clearing up crime. The reality for most smaller businesses is quite the opposite; crime against small business is simply not a key performance indicator in the present day Police Service (remember when our boys and girls were a Force?).

The fact is that most small business despite the government's best efforts in the past 20 years to tax and regulated them out of existence are the engine room of the British economy (very much like the hard done by commercial motorist). The essential truth is that most owner managers simply do not report crime because there is quite simply no point, a serious point that the Police at all ranks across Britain appear to be quite oblivious to. Visit the campaign website here , the situation is so bad that it can only get better.

One can only hope that the Voice of Small Businesses, the FSB, also actions a campaigning website demanding a referendum on the Lisbon ('Reform') Treaty (in accordance with its members wishes) before it is too late and small businesses go the way of the Dodo.

The Sunday Quote

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch
if you can fill the unforgiving minute
with sixty seconds worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and every thing thats in it.......

Rudyard Kipling (1865 - 1936) 'If ' -Published 1910.

Saturday, February 2

The Purple Scorpion Stings Again

As the Major government was drawing to its close, Cecil Parkinson appeared on Question Time. He cited a statistic as showing the government's good economic performance and drew jeers from the audience. "But it's true!", he protested, missing the point. You could almost feel through the screen the audience's refusal to believe anything the government was going to tell them. Read all the piece on the very excellent blog The Purple Scorpion

The Saturday Post

Small Businesses Demand Referendum

Well now, we are pleased to report that Members of The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) overwhelmingly (90%) voted ‘yes’ on whether there should be a referendum on the new so called 'EU Reform Treaty'. In a snap poll held on the organisation’s website, the FSB, which is the UK's biggest member based business organisation with over 210,000 members, asked members the following question: ‘Do you believe that the UK Government should hold a referendum to find out the views of the UK electorate on the EU’s Reform Treaty?’ The result was an emphatic yes (2492 voted yes whilst only 280 said no).

Clearly the online vote is a reflection on the frustration that owner managers have for the cost and interference in the process of business as a result of the UK's continued membership of the European Union. A matter that this blog will never tire of commenting on. The FSB's press release which was not picked upon by the nations media quoted John Walker the FSB's Policy Chairman thus: “This poll clearly shows that small businesses are worried about the new EU Reform Treaty and believe they should have a say on whether it is implemented. The Government should stick to its promise of holding a referendum on the proposals. The packaging may have changed but the provisions are almost identical .

This is not the first time that FSB members have spoken out on the EU. In 2001 (by 66 per cent) and 1975 (52 per cent) branch delegates voted to call upon the Government to take the UK out of the EU. The FSB who states they are the Voice of Small Businesses on both occasions only whispered silently the wishes of their members in the Westminster village, well as one FSB official said in response to an enquiry as to how the successful motion at conference would be implemented, '' we don't won't to disturb the politicians it could effect our negotiating position on other issues''. The response from this blogger, expletives removed was nothing. That same blogger now waits with considerable interest to find out what pressure the large small businesses organization's leaders will put on our politicians on behalf of their over regulated and over taxed members in response to the recent on line poll.

There is of course every reason why the FSB should be annoyed at Gordon Brown reneging on his promise to hold a referendum on this important treaty. Their concerns should be as vehemently communicated (if not more so) to Number 10 as the the concerns were to Number 11 Downing Street when Alistair Darling announced plans that would devastate small business owners and their investors, in his first pre-budget report in October last year by a huge increase in Capital Gains Tax (CGT). The effect of the latest EU treaty on business, particularly small enterprises, will be considerably more costly than Darling's attempted tax hike.

The clear message from the Editor of this blog to the FSB (as a member) is rather than supporting the EU's various regional initiatives and ''exploring European policy with regard to growth'' (FSB North East Web site) it is hoped that the Federation's well resourced lobbying activities in keeping with the stated wishes of its membership will vehemently demand a referendum on the reform (Lisbon) treaty.

If the needs of small businesses are to be protected and promoted then a full and proper debate on the impositions imposed on business life in a post reform Treaty UK must be held. That debate can only properly occur if there is a referendum.

Peter Troy - Blogger