Sunday, 28 December 2008

Defining Propaganda

It can be difficult of course. When does the simple imparting of information cross the line into propaganda?

Then again, at other times there's no real problem with making the distinction.

EU Tube’s attempts to adopt street language have also misfired, with ventures such as a three-minute “euro-rap”, which urges young viewers “you gotta be a part of” a united Europe.

“Get on our team, you know what I mean,” the rapper sings, surrounded by teenagers brandishing the EU flag. “It’s the return of the blue. See I’m going to move across from Germany to Paris, oui. We get united and take a stand in solidarity. I speak in all ’hoods.”

Or this:

a three-minute series of clips of people having sex, ending with the words “Let’s come together”. The video, intended to promote the Brussels film subsidy,


EU Tube is funded out of a €207m (£196m) communication budget from Brussels. So far the channel has attracted 7,391 subscribers. The community has a population of 500m.

I think we'd probably take those examples as being propaganda, wouldn't we?

A spokesman for the European commission in London said: “This is not propaganda, we are simply providing information.”

Ah, yes, that simply confirms it then.

Friday, 19 December 2008

Ode to Joy

As we all know, this is the European Union's anthem

D'ye think we could get them to play this version at official events? About the right level of seriousness don't you think?

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Nigel, Sarkozy and Klaus

Interesting times yesterday in the European Parliament. It starts off with this:

The French president sided with federalist Euro-MPs who are engaged in a bitter feud with Vaclav Klaus, the Czech president and a Eurosceptic.

Senior MEPs, including the president of the European Parliament, Hans Gert Poettering, caused a diplomatic incident ten days ago after demanding that Mr Klaus hoist the European flag over his residence during bad tempered talks in Prague.

"It was a wound, it was an outrage to see that flags had been taken down from public buildings," said President Sarkozy, the current holder of the EU's six-month rotating presidency which he hands over to the Czech Republic in January.

Yes, that dreary insistence that the EU flag must be flown everywhere, even where it's not wanted. The response is rather plain and simple:

Karel Schwarzenberg, the Czech foreign minister, hit back as the diplomatic war of words between Paris and Prague threatened to overshadow the smooth transfer of the EU presidency.

"There is no law binding the Czech Republic to hang the EU flag over Prague Castle. Prague Castle is a symbol of the Czech state and not the EU," he said.

"It is not up to the head of another state to criticise the Czech president over flags."

Quite. Whatever might be the ambition, the collapse of the nation states into a federal system, it hasn't actually happened yet. People are allowed to fly the 12 stars, but it's not required as yet. And Nigel Farage had something to say on it all:

Nigel Farage, the leader of UK Independence Party, compared the EU flag demand to the behaviour of Nazi or Soviet officials, both dictatorships that had occupied Prague and its Castle in the past.

"The manner in which Cohn-Bendit demanded that President Klaus fly the EU flag over his castle could easily have been done by a German official of over 70 years ago or a Soviet official of 20 years ago," he said.

"No doubt they think that Buckingham Palace should fly the EU flag to show its dominium."

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

A note to The Politics Show

The Politics Show is a TV programme coming out of Birmingham.

Just a short note to the people who run it.

An MEP is a Member of the European Parliament.

MEPs do not have the address "House of Commons, London", although thank you for the Christmas card.

No wonder there's a certain confusion amongst the population at large when those speakers of truth to power, the professional media, get such trivially simple things wrong.

Livia Klausova

Oh, very good, very good indeed.

"Well were they wrong when they elected your husband?"

Verse about the EU

They do in fact seem to get verse and verse.

The entire commissioner college,
Is bereft of all relevant knowledge.
Their spirits are stunted,
Their wits are all blunted,
And their brains are like watered-down porridge.

Anyone who can do better please do so in the comments.

More idiotic euro arguments

Perhaps the pound will achieve parity with the euro; perhaps it might even approach parity with the dollar. But so what? The habit of financial writers to call such milestones "psychologically important" just shows that they are in fact economically irrelevant. And the idea that parity with the euro somehow strengthens the case for British membership is asinine: please name one country that has joined it because its old currency was at or close to parity. It is utterly irrelevant.

One worth remembering in the times to come. The arguments in favour and against membership of the euro are nothing at all to do with what rate the exchange rate is. And, as above, from the ex-editor of The Economist, the idea that parity means we should join the euro is simply asinine. Irrelevant even.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

That falling pound

The solution is contained within the problem.

However, it was estimated that half of the visitors to London's West End were savvy continental shoppers who had travelled to Britain hoping to make a saving by cashing in on a weak pound.

Jace Tyrrell from the NWEC said: "Just as we used to head to New York to grab a bargain, we're now seeing foreign visitors, particularly Europeans, flocking to London. The strong euro against the pound means Europeans are flocking to London to grab a bargain - with prices about 25 to 30% down on Paris and Milan.

"This week Fortnum and Mason's cafe was 70% European visitors and our market across the West End is 50% tourists."

The pound falls, our exports become cheaper for foreigners to buy and thus economic activity here is boosted.

This is how floating exchange rates work and are supposed to work, the solution is built into hte very system. Absolutely the last thing we want to do is give up this self-correcting mechanism by joining the euro.

Spot on

The apparatchiks of the European Union establishment have one thing, at least, in common with serial rapists. They cannot accept that no means no. These people all want it really, they say. They’re not victims; they’re gagging for it. And they’ll love it really when we get our way with them. What the EU establishment wants, it gets. It takes, regardless.

Can't really say fairer than that, can you?

Saturday, 13 December 2008

A very good point


Can someone explain to me why Gordon Brown wants Ireland to vote twice on the Lisbon Treaty while simultaneously insisting that Britain shouldn't vote at all?

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Quite Mr Redwood

I think we all rather knew this first part.

The outrageous decision to make the Irish vote again shows the EU is thoroughly anti democratic.

It's the second part which is a little more complex.

It also appears that there are changes to the Treaty, over the number of Commissioners. This means it should be put again to the people and Parliaments of the EU everywhere.

Complex even if equally true.

For the assurances that the Irish are seeking need, of course, to be legally watertight. A few well meaning expressions of intent won't cover it. But if they are to be legally watertight then they need to be part of the legal document. Meaning that the treaty approved (if it is of course) by the Irish will be different in a legal sense from the one approved by everyone else.

So, therefore, everybody should have to ratify the treaty once again.

Now of course neither I nor anyone else is sufficiently naive to believe that this is what will actually happen. Which means that not only are we a tad short on that democracy thing within the EU, we're also alarmingly short on the rule of law.

Monday, 8 December 2008

No euro, not here.

This is going to be a tad controversial: there are indeed benefits of joining the euro. For there are benefits about doing just about anything. There are also costs to joining the euro, just as there are costs to doing just about anything.

One thing economists like to point out is that there are in fact no solutions. There are only tradeoffs. And what you want to do is work out the value of all of those tradeoffs so that you can make the correct decsion, do this or don't do this?

One of the claimed benefits of joining the euro has been that it will boost trade. Yes, it almost certainly would as the costs (and uncertainties) of using different currencies fall. But what we actually want to know is by how much, so that we can set it off against the undoubted costs of losing our currency and interest rate freedoms.

One of the most important pieces of research used by euro proponents was a paper from Andrew Rose showing that countries which joined currency unions tended to see their trade increase by up to 200pc. However, a paper published by Harvard's Jeffrey Frankel has shown that, in fact, trade within the eurozone increased by just 10-20pc during the first four years of the currency. Moreover, the volume of trade did not rise any further thereafter.

In the paper, published by the National Bureau for Economic Research, Prof Frankel says: "The most surprising finding of this study was the absence of any evidence that the effects of the euro on bilateral trade have continued to rise during the second half of the eight-year history of the euro."

Worth noting that Jeff Frankels is one of those economists we should be listening to. And the benefits are a great deal smaller, one tenth only, of those previously assumed. Further, they come as a one off boost (a "step change" I like to call it) rather than an ever accelerating benefit. This is important because the exchange rate and interest rate flexibility will be something that, retaining the pound, continues to give us extra benefits each year into the future.

So, another nail in the coffin of the idea that the euro is good for us....or anyone else come to that.

A lot of sound and fury signifying nothing

This all sounds very good:

Immigrants will have wait up to 10 years for the right to claim UK benefits and council housing in the toughest crackdown seen for decades, it emerged last night.

All legal migrants will have to serve a five year 'probationary citzienship' before being considered for a passport, immigration minister Phil Woolas said.

Those who work hard, are law-abiding and do voluntary work will be eligible for benefits one or two years afterwards.

But others will have to wait another five years before they can claim any benefits at all, in order to deter migrants who see Britain as a soft touch for benefit claimants.

Mr Woolas said: 'Entitlement to benefits should be for citizens of our country, not other people. If you are a citizen you have earned the right to benefits. People must show they are here to work.'

And then you look at the details. This will not apply to asylum seekers as they are dealt with under UN and EU rules. This won't apply to EU citizens because it is illegal for us to make such distinctions against them. The only group it does apply to is non-EU immigrants (who are not asylum seekers) and there really aren't all that many of them.

It's not that I mind or don't mind the restrictions, it's the way that it's being announced.

Last October Home Secretary Jacqui Smith was forced to make the embarrassing admission that the number of foreign workers entering Britain since 1997 was 1.1 million - a staggering 300,000 more than official figures recorded.

It simply doesn't affect that number of people.

No doesn't mean no

At least, not in the European Union it seems.

On Thursday the Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen will confirm that a new vote will be held in 2009.

Diplomats have named October as the most likely date for the vote, while Government sources said April was also being considered

Mr Cowen said he believed that the economic crisis could help persuade some of those who voted against the Treaty to change their minds.

The Government is expected to argue that Ireland would have been in a worse position if it had not signed up to the euro, and that the Treaty will speed up decision-making and help tackle the downturn.

That part of being "worse off" out of the euro is of course insane. With their own currency Eire could have set interest rates to suit their own economy rather than that of Germany. They would thus have been higher and the housing boom and subsequent bust less painful.

A warning on the National Database

No, we really do not want to have these ID cards nor the associated National Database.

Saturday, 6 December 2008

The idiocy of the euro

Peter Obourne tells it like it is over the euro. No, of course Britain shouldn't join it, it's a laughable idea.

The truth is that the euro has failed as a currency. Its supporters are talking nonsense when they say it will soon emerge as a major world currency capable of rivalling the dollar. In fact, the single currency is likely to fall apart during the recession.

Back in 1999, the British public was told by Tony Blair and others that we would suffer economically if we stayed out of the euro. As we now know, these warnings were mendacious. Instead, Britain's growth rate has increased by 26 per cent in real terms since 1999. Meanwhile, the eurozone countries have seen a figure of just 21 per cent.

There is a structural reason for this. While the euro has certainly created some benefits for member countries, such as the abolition of currency transactions, these have been outweighed by one fundamental flaw: nations in the eurozone are forced to have the same interest rate regardless of their individual economic circumstances.

Over the past decade, these rates have tended to be too low. This is because they were set in order to help the German economy recover from the recession into which it fell as a result of the massive costs of incorporating East Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

While these low rates benefited Germany, they fuelled a disastrous inflationary boom in Spain, Ireland and a number of other countries.

Conversely, the German economy then started to improve - leading to the European Central Bank raising interest rates.

Once again, this policy suited Germany at a time when it needed to hold back inflation. But it has proved disastrous to economies such as those in Ireland, France, Italy and Greece because it suffocated their growth and created a period of prolonged recession from which some will struggle to emerge.

Britain alone, among major European economies, remains outside the euro. This has proved a fantastic piece of good fortune.

Indeed, our economic fate scarcely bears thinking about had we joined the single currency, as all those so- called 'experts' wanted, ten years ago.

With the same, low interest rates as the rest of Europe in the early years, Gordon Brown's credit boom would have been even more reckless. Subsequently, as rates were raised steeply, Britain would have plunged into an even deeper recession because our industry would have found borrowing costs too high.

As it is, sterling has benefited greatly by being outside the eurozone. Having fallen in value by 30 per cent against the single currency during the past 12 months, exporters have seen a growth in business while the cost of imports have soared.

Without the pound being able to find its own natural level outside the euro, unemployment would have been considerably higher.

Those are very much the same arguments that I make myself. Indeed, I would go further: there has to be flexibility in an economy. The world isn't stable, technology isn't stable, markets and relative prices aren't stable. So the economy is a continual balancing act. And to do that balancing we need to have flexibility in the economy. There's a number of different ways we can get that too.

The first and most obvious is that with a floating currency we're able to change the external value of our exports and the internal value of our imports. This is exactly what he decline of sterling in the recent months has done for us. Our exports are now cheaper for the rest of the world to buy, imports are more expensive. This will increase the demand doubly for goods and services produced in Britain and thus boost the economy and employment.

A second source of flexibility is in interest rates. We've the power and ability to set them to suit the needs of our economy.

Neither of those sources of flexibility exist inside the euro. However, there are two more sources of possible flexibility. The first is the number of unemployed. If we can't change interest rates or the exchange rate then we can still change the number in employment. But does anyone really want recessions to be marked by even higher unemployment than we are already going to get?

The second is in prices. The general price level could fall (or real wages as has been happening in Germany) but that's something we call deflation. And that's something we really really don't want as it causes the entire economy to collapse in on itself as happened in the 1930s.

There's a truism from economics, that there are no solutions, only tradeoffs.

Stay out of the euro and control our own interest rates and exchange rate to provide the flexibility the economy requires. Or join and lose those two tools and leave ourselves only with unemployment or deflation as the tools available.

Given that the social effects, the results in terms of human suffering, are much greater from those latter two than the first pair this leads us to the inevitable answer.

Stay out of the euro.

Friday, 5 December 2008

Your help needed

The European Union is asking for your views on what it should do, how Europe could be made a better place.

The website is here.

I think it might be a good idea if we contributed an idea or two, don't you? Perhaps a tad more constructive than my own desired entry of "Bugger Off"?

In fact, why don't we try and rally the clans, get the word out, and see quite how many constructive ideas we might be able to contribute?

As long as they're being honest and publishing all entries we might be able to get some interesting points across.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

The return of nationalism

No, not far right idiots goose stepping around, rather that in hard times people look to the nation rather than the ethereal creations of an international elite.

The abandonment by its few remaining supporters of any residual, sentimental loyalty to the idea of the European Union is becoming more likely by the day. The peoples of Europe, under very great stress, are beginning to realise that their pain is being made worse by supranational rules made in Brussels by unelected officials and then rammed through supine national parliaments by political elites. These rules are now working against the interests of the people of Europe.

No-one has been more supportive of the EU project than the Germans, from their windmills to their currency. However, when their country's core industries are shutting down, they will turn to an entity they recognise and resonate with: their nation. Germany.

The same will happen in France, as it always has though it is impolite - not communautaire - to say so out loud. France first. All else is convenience, nostalgic national bombast or smokescreen.

UKIP Elsewhere

A report on a talk give by Tim Congdon:

Professor Tim Congdon was clearly outraged at the behaviour of the Bank of England over Northern Rock. He argued that the Bank of England is meant to be and has long been the lender of last resort. That is how the system has worked. For many years it has saved banks but it has done so in a way that does not damage a free society. What it has done is lend aggressively and expensively to banks that have had need of cash but whose assets have exceeded their liabilities.

He said that in the case of Northern Rock, Lloyds TSB offered to buy Northern Rock but wanted the Bank of England to promise to back it up with cash if need be. Congdon said that normally the Bank would have said yes. He claimed the previous Bank governor, Eddie George, would have said yes. But the current governor, Mervyn King, said no. He is outraged by this and argues that this made our current crisis worse than it need have been. He says the Northern Rock had net assets (assets larger than its liabilities) and that even after the fall in house values, this remains the case. He said, if I recall, that 97 per cent of its mortgages are being paid off in the normal way.

More recently, again the Bank of England has not kept to its usual role of lending aggressively and expensively. Instead the government has only lent on conditions and, I would add, one major condition has been the taking large stakes in several major banks. The freedom, independence and perhaps international competitiveness of banks has been undermined and the crisis has been made worse than it need have been.

Sounds about right to me (althopugh do remember that I'm not a banking economist, only an interested amateur in the subject).

Can we have our country back?

These stories enrage me.

A primary school infuriated parents after cancelling the traditional Christmas nativity play to make way for the Muslim festival of Eid.

Parents at the Nottingham school were told that the planned performance had to be pulled because some of the pupils wanted to celebrate Eid at home with their families.

No, it's not Islam or Islamism that enrages. Anybody and everybody can worship whichever version of the sky pilot they desire as far as I'm concerned. And it's certainly not the reaction of those Muslim parents that enrages.

Sajad Hussain, 35, of who has two children at the school said: 'My children will be off for the two days next week to see their family.

'It's not that complicated; they could have one event on one day and another on another day, they should have both celebrations at the school.

'If you do not have both it becomes a racist thing and that's why you have to be careful if an issue is made out of it it could become nasty.'

An eminently sensible mixture of tolerance, pragmatism and a touch of scheduling. Very British in fact.

No, it's twits like this:

In a letter, sent by the staff at Greenwood Junior School, mothers and fathers were told: 'It is with much regret that we have had to cancel this year's Christmas performances.

'This is due to the Eid celebrations that take place next week and its effect on our performers.'

How did we end up with the education system run by people like this?

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

What the Socialists would bring us

Good spot by The Croydonian here. The Socialist Manifesto for the European Elections (and yes, this is the group that our own dear Labour Party belong to).

We must ensure that workers have full rights to information and consultation during all takeovers.

We propose to strengthen workers’ rights to information and consultation. Employee participation at European and global level is a key issue for the future - a vital element of a more social Europe and a precondition for decent work. We will seek to enhance participation in economic decision-making processes at European level. To do this, workers’ rights to information and consultation must be anchored in company law directives using the European Company Statute model and the rights of European Works Councils must be extended. We also want to foster greater social dialogue between unions and employers at European level
and extend it to more sectors.

They'd never get that sort of stuff through the system here domestically so they'll get Brussels to insist that we must do it instead.

Not the Queen's Speech

The end of a very fine piece:

Still, at the end of their day they're my Government, and I don't have to sign any of their poxy laws if I don't want to. The Duke of Edinburgh and I will be going home now. It's racing from Catterick this afternoon, and we don't want to miss it.

Where the money goes.

This is how the European Union spends our money.

The findings? Astronomically high levels of nickel and elevated amounts of lead. Enough for the European Commission to pull the plug on all 20 of the machines - installed in January at a cost of about €5,000, or $6,350, each.

Soon the machines may be removed from the upper floors of the iconic Berlaymont, the building in Brussels where top European Commission officials have their offices.

100,000 on coffee machines? Why can't they just go to Starbucks like everyone else?

The climate change solution!

Amazing this, truly wonderful. Margot Wallstrom goes looking for some answers to the problems of today.

Last Friday I participated in the Interfaith Climate Summit in the beautiful Swedish city of Uppsala. The Archbishop of Uppsala Anders Wejryd, had invited 30 distinguished persons from different faith traditions around the world to discuss climate change and to sign a manifesto with demands to political leaders for the UN negotiations on a new global climate agreement. The manifesto calls, among other things, for rapid and large emission cuts in the rich world, mitigation actions by developing countries and massive transfers and sharing of important technology.

Isn't that lovely?

Next week Margot will be asking the opinions of atmospheric scientists upon the meaning of transubstantiation.

Well, why not? It's as sensible as using the sky pilots to investigate climate science isn't it?

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Strange People

There really are some strange people in politics. Take this from Caroline Lucas MEP:

Green Euro-MP Caroline Lucas sent a message of solidarity to West Papua today, as campaigners from the Indonesian-occupied province delivered a petition to Downing Street and launched a Declaration for self-determination (1).

Exiled West Papuan independence leader Benny Wenda was joined by UK Parliamentarians and Free West Papua supporters from all over UK for the signing of the West Papua Declaration in Westminster.

Well, at this point I have to agree. West Papua (Irian Jaya as it used to be called) should indeed be able to decide its own future. It's what self-determination is all about.

It's also true that what they're actually asking for is a referendum on how they are governed and who by. I certainly can't argue with that.

But this is what leads me to think that there really are some strange people in politics. Dr. Lucas is perfectly at liberty to call for a referendum in some far flung corner of the world. But why doesn't she call for the same for us here? Why doesn't she call for the same rights for her own constituents?

Is there something about us that means we're not ready for democracy yet?

Monday, 1 December 2008

Barroso, the euro and The Guardian

This is an interesting little piece. Barroso says that Britain is closer than ever to joining the euro. It would appear that at least some people don't agree with him. As reported in The Guardian:

Nigel Farage, the leader of the UK Independence party, said: "The ruling elite would love to bounce us into the euro and will grasp at any straw to do so, for it's a step on the way to their dream and our nightmare, a federal superstate.

"We're told that some British politicians have said, 'If we had the euro, we would have been better off.' Whoever these people are we need to hunt them down and explain some simple economics to them. Membership of the euro would have meant lower interest rates in the boom, making the bubble even larger. And it would mean higher interest rates now in the bust, making the recession even deeper. The pound has fallen against both the dollar and the euro thus providing us with that fiscal boost that everyone says is so necessary, a boost which we couldn't have had if we were in the euro."

He said that if Barroso wanted to consult the people who mattered in Britain he should call for a referendum on the euro and the Lisbon treaty "so that the people of Britain can tell him where to go".


This story of how the EU intends to capture Chrismas may not be entirely true in all its details.

Had a lunch meeting with Commissioner Wallström - I'm sure she's part Elf. She wanted me to deliver a copy of the Proposed EU Constitution to every child as part of their communication strategy. “Even if they've been naughty?” “Especially if they've been naughty,” she purred. We manage to find a compromise and they're going to produce it as a colouring book. What sold me on the idea is thinking of the look on Nigel Farage's face on Christmas morning. As I leave, she calls out, asking what I would think of a rebrand. Pardon? Would I consider rebranding myself as EuroSanta, as it would give the EU a friendlier image? I take a huge slug from my hip flask and promise to think it over.

Saturday, 29 November 2008

How the EU spends your money

Is there anything that can be usefully said about this?

"A Concert with Vegetables."

Thus spake a commission spokesman today to a dumbfounded press room.

"Next Friday evening there is a Concert with Vegetables, that is for you. The press corps are expressly invited to attend this 'concert of vegetables' in the framework of the launch of the European Year of Creativity and Innovation" he told journalists.

That's where our tax money goes.


Friday, 28 November 2008

Sikhs and turbans

I have to admit that this story really rather puzzles me.

A Sikh man who wanted the right to wear a turban while being photographed for his French drivers' licence has lost his case in the European Court of Human Rights.

Shingara Mann Singh, a French national, lost a series of appeals in France against the authorities who refused to issue a new licence with a photograph of him wearing a turban.

Under French regulations, motorists must appear 'bareheaded and facing forward' in their licence photographs but the Sikh religion requires men to wear a turban at all times.

Mr Singh, 52, took his case to the ECHR but the Strasbourg-based court dismissed the case.

No, not the way that, as always seems to happen, the French go to Strasbourg they get their way and we almost never do (thus showing that European law is very similar to French and very different from our own).

No, it's something different. Why do the French authorities insist that he be photographed without his turban?

After all, he's always going to be wearing one so surely that's what you'd like his ID photo to look like, wouldn't you?

Derek Clark and Bobby Silk

This little campaign seems to be getting a little more airplay. The Beeb in Brussels ahs picked it up here.

Derek Clark is a UK Independence Party MEP for the East Midlands. Robert Kilroy Silk's behaviour is doubly annoying for him.

The former TV presenter was elected as a UKIP MEP in 2004 - but left the party shortly afterwards to found his own Eurosceptic party, Veritas. Six months later he gave up as leader of the fringe party - and now sits as an Independent.

"We think he should resign altogether and give the seat back to us," Mr Clark told the BBC.

"This chap has taken himself out altogether. ITV won't let him communicate with anyone in the outside world at just the time he has a job to do. He is being paid and he is not doing his job, simple as that."

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Kilroy Step Down!

A fun little site just launched this afternoon.

An online petition for people to sign asking Robert Kilroy Silk to step down as an MEP.

As Sky News puts it:

Keen advocates of the ‘adding insult to injury’ school of thought they’ve now put their name to a petition calling on the Silver Fox to stand down as an MEP.

Oh, what fun they must have had putting the news release together.

“All five of the East Midland's MEPs (that is, all of the region's MEPs other than Kilroy Silk himself) are backing an online petition calling for him to stand down,” they write.

MEP Derek Clark then puts the boot in: “Its not just that he hasn't been working while in the jungle, it's that he hasn't spoken in the Parliament since 2005. No one has seen him in the region for years, we even had a competition for anyone who could spot him.”

I have to say I do like that line "keen advocates of the ‘adding insult to injury’ school of thought".....

Now this is what the internet is really for

No, really, it is. A website devoted entirely to bacon.

If a story's got bacon in it they'll publish it. No bacon, no story as far as they are concerned.

Bacon Today in all it's porcine goodness.

Remind me, what was it we all did before we had toys like this to play with?

Spending other people's money

It's always very simple to spend other people's money. And as Milton Friedman pointed out it usually ends up being spent very badly:

There are four ways in which you can spend money. You can spend your own money on yourself. When you do that, why then you really watch out what you’re doing, and you try to get the most for your money. Then you can spend your own money on somebody else. For example, I buy a birthday present for someone. Well, then I’m not so careful about the content of the present, but I’m very careful about the cost. Then, I can spend somebody else’s money on myself. And if I spend somebody else’s money on myself, then I’m sure going to have a good lunch! Finally, I can spend somebody else’s money on somebody else. And if I spend somebody else’s money on somebody else, I’m not concerned about how much it is, and I’m not concerned about what I get. And that’s government. And that’s close to 40% of our national income.

Now that refers, of course, to our owwn government spending the tax money they extort from us. If we take it up another level, to the money that the European Union spends....

A European package of spending increases and tax cuts said to be worth €200bn (£170bn), or 1.5% of the European Union's gross domestic product, was unveiled yesterday as the EU's answer to the swelling financial and economic crisis.

The important point here isn't the amount of money nor whatever minor fiscal stimulus it will bring. Rather, it's where the money is coming from.

The commission's two-year plan is aimed at restoring consumer and business confidence, shoring up employment, getting the banks lending again, and promoting green technologies. It reshuffles EU spending schedules and increases loans from the European Investment Bank (EIB), but leaves the bulk of the extra spending and fiscal stimuli to the 27 member states.

The 27 countries would provide €170bn of the €200bn - or 1.2% of European GDP - while the other €30bn would come from Brussels' coffers in the form of EIB loans, and accelerating payments from the cohesion and structural funds, which go mainly to the new members in central Europe.

So they're not announcing that the EU is going to be spending the money the EU already has. Rather, they're announcing that the EU is going to spend money which the national government's have to find from the pockets of the taxpayers. That is, an unelected body is telling elected bodies how they should gouge the citizenry.

So, to go back to the four ways to spend money. The fourth method provides the very worst result....and this announcement is of the fourth way squared. Without even the limitations placed by the ballot box upon how the money is splurged.

Given that it's very difficult indeed to believe that this money will be anything other than entirely wasted....if not spent on things which make matters actively worse.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Who are the BNP?

This is really rather shaming. I know, I know, I'll be contrite. But it does pain me to have to admit that I even know about the existence of the newspaper Socialist Worker, let alone that I know where to find it on the web.

But they do have this interesting little graphic.

Based on 500 or so of those names from the BNP list, this is who the BNP are.

There's nothing amazing there, I agree. Just interesting, that's all.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Comment of the week

At the bottom of a Times editorial.

Central to the appeal of the new movement was its claim to be economically competent and fiscally prudent, a claim it pursued in office and was, for many years, generally accepted. New Labour believed that wealth creation and social justice depended upon each other. It was, as one of its leaders put it, “intensely relaxed about people getting filthy rich”. It determined not to raise the tax rate paid by top earners, for three election this was a manifesto commitment that symbolised how it had come to share the hopes and ambitions of middle class families.

Yesterday Alistair Darling, using the sombre tones appropriate to the occasion, provided Members of Parliament with details of new Labour's tragic end.

Yes, yes, OK, so another group of politicians have been shown to be know nothings....but then the comment:

So the New Labour model was finally tested and found to be defective. Faced with a return to old Labour or the conservatives I know which way I would go... UKIP

Rex Lester, Surbiton, UK

Rex, as and when you're in central London, allow me to buy you a pint would you?

Dang, I've spent years working on how to write, how to get a point across, and here I am entirely outclassed by someone who simply speaks his mind. D'ye think I might have to spring for the second round as well?

Sometimes you don't get the credit

But even so the message still gets across.

Of course, we all remember Gerard Batten's report of last week on the costs of the EU. We do, that is. (I obviously do as I was running around with Robert Oulds trying to get people to write about it ....after Gerard's done all that work it's worth trying to get a bit of coverage.)

And of course we'd all be thrilled if all the newspapers wrote up the report, name checked Gerard, mentioned UKIP and so on. Which, sadly, of course they don't. But that's only one side of this whole political game. Sure, we want our party to win, we want our party to get lots of publicity.

But we also want to get our message across. Yes, of course it's better if the message and the party are linked but getting just the message across is still a win.

All of which is a lead up to this column in The Sun. What should we be doing about the current financial and economic problems? What's the very first suggestion for concrete action?

Let’s have a referendum on leaving the EU (saving: �65billion a year).

No, they don't mention us or Gerard. But in only a week that figure that he calculated has become a generally accepted fact in Britain's largest selling daily newspaper.

We'll accept that as a victory for getting the message across I think?

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Cutting VAT

It's rather nice to see all these newspaper reports about cutting VAT. Almost none of them fail to make the point that 15% is the minimum that we can cut it to because of EU rules. That is, that we don't in fact control our own tax levels.

However, there's one more point it might be worthwhile to get across.

According to the Telegraph, the cut "could save the average family as much as £10 a week.

£10 week eh?

It's generally accepted that CAP costs the average household an extra £25 a week on top of what food prices would be in the absence of CAP. So let's get out of the EU, abolish CAP and benefit the average household by two and a half times more than this £12.5 billion a year borrowing splurge will cost us.

Plus, of course, abolishing CAP will cost us nothing.

I assume that the only reason more people don't propose this is because the modern education system has left people incapable of doing simple arithmetic.

Friday, 21 November 2008

Good news in the SW


TORY activists are preparing to down tools and not campaign in next year's European elections in a row over the selection of Giles Chichester as the region's number one candidate, the WMN has learned.

Sections of the party's rank and file are so concerned about the South West MEP's re-selection that they are preparing to call on Tory HQ to intervene.

The split stems from Mr Chichester's admission that he wrongly channelled EU funds through a company he helped run – but was later cleared of profiting from the breach of the rules.

EU watchdogs found that the £400,000 had been correctly used for secretarial and assistant services, but the practice contravened rules on MEPs using companies they are connected with to handle the money.

There's more of course:

The rebels are keen not to be publicly seen as divisive but fear Mr Chichester being top of the Tory selection list will not only hit the vote in the EU poll, but also undermine campaigning in county council elections in the region, which take place on the same day, June 4.

Leading activists, including parliamentary candidates and senior councillors, are understood to be so unhappy with Chichester's inclusion they are threatening to down tools and not campaign or even vote for the party.

Always happy to see a federast being unhappy....

Fools, fools

Can we please just get this straight?

We want to run the economy for the benefit of consumers, not the benefit of producers.

Frederick Toben

This is good news (however despicable his actual ideas are):

The Holocaust denier, Frederick Toben, has been released from custody after the German government gave up its legal battle to extradite him from Britain.

This was all under the European Arrest Warrant of course. Sadly though, it's not really cleared up the law, rather, it has muddied it.

"I said, 'We will go all the way to the House of Lords with this and let the House of Lords decide'. But when the draft extradition Act passed through the House of Lords in 2002, one of the questions was what would happen if someone was arrested on a European arrest warrant to be extradited to a country where Holocaust denial is an offence.

"The response was, 'No, that will never happen'."

This was a political deal: this particular person will not be extradited. But we'll still be liable to being extradited for things which are not an offence in this country, things which lack dual criminality. It'll depend rather on whether the person accused has enough political (or financial) weight to fight it and that isn't justice as we either know it or want it to be.

Gerard's Report

Good couple of pieces of press coverage of Gerard Batten's report on the costs to us of the European Union.

Here in the Mail, here in The Sun.

I'm told that he's on LBC in the morning discussing it too (but sorry, I don't know when).

Thursday, 20 November 2008


What is it about these people?

Women are to be banned from returning to work within six weeks of giving birth under new EU plans.

They seem to have no concept of what the point of all this government actually is, to maximise the amount of freedom and liberty that we the people enjoy. They also seem to miss the meaning of the word "liberal". That is, the aim to increase the amount of liberty that, again, we the people enjoy.

It might be that having a law that allows women to have 6 weeks maternity leave after the birth is a good idea. I'd certainly not fight against such a law nor I think would many others.

But there's a huge difference between "allows" and "insists". The first is an increase in liberty, the second a diminution. That is, it's profoundly illiberal because it reduces peoples' choices.

OK, this isn't that much of a shock, but it is further evidence that the EU is an illiberal institution.

Bob FM

Bob seems to have a letter in the Swindon Advertiser (no link, sorry).

"Little realising one would suspect that all EU Parliament sessions are recorded on video, Christopher Beazley MEP for the Tories, has rather let the Tories policy for our continued membership out of the bag, and staggeringly disclosing the Tories real intentions over the pound. Readers should go to my site at and watch for themselves what he says. He concludes by saying this: " I look forward to the next Conservative Government applying to join the Euro Zone really quite shortly.""

Good work that man!

The real John Sergeant story

This is what happened. Yes, really....

As the nation mourns the apparently voluntary departure of John Sergeant from Strictly Come Dancing because he says, he was worried he might win (how bizarre is that?), we've come up with a solution: Peter Mandelson, who has said he quite fancies a twirl for Bruce and the Judges

Send for Mandy: It seemed to have worked for Gordon Brown!

But our light-hearted idea appears to have taken a very odd twist: A conspiracy theory, no less, courtesy of UKip.

In an internal memo, they talk of "dark forces at work" - blaming Alastair Campbell (really) of forcing the BBC to create a vacancy on the show for Lord Mandelson who "has already proved to be nimble on his feet as he hot-footed it from Hartlepool then Brussels and waltzed into the House of Lords".

They say he also "skipped away" from answering any awkward questions about his relationship with a certain Russian billionaire and, they point out, "not by chance Mr Sergeant's dancing partner is from the former USSR"

It ain't much as conspiracy theories, even humorous ones, go - but we thought we'd share it with you anyway.

We thought it was pretty good as a humorous conspiracy story but then taste in jokes really is rather fickle, isn't it?

Saying it all about the BNP

It does this, doesn't it? Say it all?

UKIP leader Nigel Farage said: “It says it all about the BNP that so many of those on their database seem to be worried about being revealed as members. Who would join a party where membership is a social and professional embarrassment?”

Well, quite.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008


Yes, I like this, I like this.


Correcting The Times

Slightly concerning to see this this morning.

Many are now looking nervously towards next year’s European elections. The absence of UKIP, which squeezed the BNP vote in 2004, means that Britain’s first BNP Euro MP could be just months from taking office.

Absence? That makes it sound like we're not going to be fighting the election!

Yes, we have been on to him and yes, he does say that the sub-editors mangled what he meant to say. More like "in the absence of UKIP's strength of 2004" and a correction or clarification will be run tomorrow. Even that's wrong of course, for no one at all has done any polling at all about how people are likely to vote at the euro-elections, so no one can make any informed comments upon relative strengths.

But just to set minds at rest, yes, we are fighting the elections, no we've not all gone home.

As you've been told, you shouldn't believe everything you read in the newspapers......

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Graham Watson

Graham Watson (the entirely insufferable Lib Dem MEP) is to give a speech with the following title.

Four years after the Constitution, one year after the Lisbon treaty: Is the EU being held hostage by its citizens?

There really are times when you just can't make things up, improve upon the humour that the natural world offers.

Friday, 14 November 2008

Jamie Oliver

So, I wonder, has anyone sent Jamie Oliver a membership pack yet?

Thursday, 13 November 2008

This is a very elegant argument

I'm not sure that I wholly agree with it but I do think there's at least some truth to it. It's also a very elegant argument. Why is it that, given that Fascism and Communism were roughly equally foul murderous systems, we tend to forgive former communists more easily than we do former fascists?

This of course has echoes with our own attitudes, we're far more likely to welcome a former leftie activist (one or other of the flavours of Revolutionary Communism for example) into UKIP than we are a former BNP one.

This is a matter of psychology, not philosophy. In most Western countries, people look upon Communists with bemused disdain; Nazis, in contrast, they view with horrified disgust. Since the stigma against Communists is far weaker, the Communists manage to attract some vaguely normal adherents... or at least they used to. In contrast, the stigma against Nazis is so intense that you have to be virtually psychopathic to join. Once you send that signal, it's almost impossible to trust anything you say - even if you claim that you're no longer a Nazi.

As I say, I'm not sure I buy this 100% but it certainly is an interesting way of looking at it.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008


Oh, very good, very good indeed.

You do want to go over and have a look at what the Anoneumouse has worked out.

In order to meet the conditions for joining the single European currency, all citizens of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland must be made aware that the phrase 'Spending a Penny' is not to be used..........

Monday, 10 November 2008

Marta Speaks Out

Marta Andreassen has a nice piece in The Times this morning. The full thing is here.

Here we go again. Today, for the 14th year in a row, the European Court of Auditors will unveil their report, telling us that they refuse to clear the EU accounts. What's worse, no one will really seem to care. We are told that the accounts won't be cleared until 2020 - if then.

Having worked inside the Brussels nomenklatura and having being sacked for my insistence that financial controls have to be strengthened, I am not surprised to find that nothing has changed other than the arguments deployed to defend this state of affairs. What the auditors have been saying for years is that most of the payments made by the Commission from its £70 billion-a- year budget cannot be deemed legal or regular. That is, that they cannot confirm those payments have been made to the correct person for the correct purpose and for the correct amount. It stretches credulity to insist, as the Europhiles do, that this does not mean that there is fraud.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Cutting VAT

This is a really silly idea actually.

The Centre for Economics and Business Research argues for an eye-catching five-point cut in Vat, taking the rate from 17.5% to 12.5% for a period of two years. It makes a lot of sense, helping families up and down the social scale – a bigger proportion of the income of the lower paid goes on Vat – and providing small firms with a fillip. It would certainly be noticed, unlike fiddling with tax credits.

Not silly in an economic sense, rather, silly in a political sense. Because our provincial government in Westminster doesn't in fact have the power to cut VAT to such a level. We are bound, by our real government in Brussels, to keep the main VAT rate at or above 15%.

Just another example of how we no longer have the power to do as we wish in our own country.

Oh Dear


Lord Mandelson did discuss European Union trade issues with Oleg Deripaska, the Russian oligarch, despite his denials that they had ever talked about the subject.

I do wonder how far this is going to go. Are we going to end up with a third resignation?

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Baiting Sarkozy

I think this is a lovely little story. So Sarkozy and Barroso are giving their press conference after the latest little meeting where they've decided to save the world by abolishing freedom.

Yet none of this seemed to have dismayed Mr Sarkozy one bit, as he boasted of how his proposals had received unanimous backing from the 27 member nations of the union at the official summit press conference. Then came the turn of José Manuel Barroso, the European Commission president, to speak. And Mr Barroso, often rather unfairly portrayed as a poodle to important leaders like the French president, managed to disconcert Mr Sarkozy in an instant. His method: he spoke English.

It was a very odd moment. Mr Barroso speaks many languages: including his native Portuguese, excellent French and English, and a magnificently mangled form of Spanish. But the French presidency of the EU has gone out of its way to stress the French language, in a rather vain attempt to stem the tide of English as the near-automatic working language of the EU institutions. Mr Barroso normally speaks French in such circumstances. But this time, he began by announcing that he would speak English "for the sake of linguistic diversity, and for the protection of minority languages". Why not speak Portuguese, if you want to defend minority languages, snapped Mr Sarkozy, before muttering audibly that French was a minority language nowadays.

To the French president's visible irritation, Mr Barroso went on in English, and on. Mr Sarkozy's English is pretty ropey, but pride (presumably) did not allow him to put in his earpiece to hear a simultaneous translation of what his fellow president was saying.

Two possible reasons suggest themselves for Mr Barroso's linguistic rebellion. He was getting his own back after one too many instances of bullying by Mr Sarkozy. Or, knowing that the summit might feature on international news channels, guessed that if he spoke English, he stood a good chance of being shown on screen, instead of Mr Sarkozy, whose French remarks would need to be dubbed.

Rather "tee hee" no?

Thursday, 6 November 2008


Anyone thought of sending Jamie Oliver a membership pack yet?

Same woman MP: But EU commissioners are meeting in a weeks time to look at this again, so what is your message to them?

Jamie: I just have no faith that anything good will come out of it. It'll take ages, it'll be disappointing and it'll be unclear, and there'll be loopholes. I wish it [the EU] never existed. And labelling is a perfect example - Britain cannot decide what its minimum standards for labelling and clarity are, because it has to go through the EU, and the EU has a lot more to worry about than just Great Britain, and frankly I only care about Great Britain. I can take you to a supermarket now and it will say sourced in the UK, and on the back it will say 'From Denmark'; how dare they!...It's a big old subject. Don't get me off on one or I will go on a tangent.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Getting to the heart of the matter

On this thing about the British opt out from the Working Time Directive. This is very much the point.

To which I say, what about the principle that if I want to work my bollocks off for 60- hours a week, why can't I and what right does a load of MEPs that have no link with my country have in telling me I can't?


Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Westminster North

This is interesting...about that near entire ward branch of Conservatives who moved over to UKIP.

NORTH Westminster Conservatives are in disarray after their entire Harrow Road branch jumped ship to the UK Independence Party amid discrimination claims.
Former refugee Jasna Badzak, the chairman of the Harrow Road ward association, claimed she was told by a ­party agent that she could not progress in the Conservative Party because of her background.
The accusation is strongly rejected by the Westminster North Conservative Association (NWCA), which has carried out an internal investigation.
Chairwoman Amanda Sayers said: “Any indication that this association takes decisions on the basis of ethnicity or background will be taken extremely seriously.”
But despite the assurances, Ms Badzak resigned on Friday and was immediately followed by Susan Jacobs, the party’s vice chairman, membership secretary Drgomir Mikulic and the secretary Luli Beqiri.
They are each adopting the same roles for the newly formed Westminster North Association of the UK Independence Party.
Ms Badzak, who has a business Masters degree at the University of Westminster, said: “I have been told by the party agent that people like me can forget about progressing in the Conservative Party. This is not just locally, but nationally.
“It is just jobs for the boys. Unfortunately, I did not go to private school. I did not go to Oxbridge. Well I have said no thank you – this is not the way to do things. People should be judged on their ability.”

Read the rest, as they say.

Monday, 3 November 2008

More BNP stuff!

Have a look at this BBC piece.

The BNP said a deal made sense. UKIP says it would not work with the BNP.

BNP leader Nick Griffin told the BBC it made electoral sense for the two parties to avoid standing against each other at the euro elections in June 2009.

That makes the offer official, not just something Mottram thought up on his own.

Pinheads, pinheads they are.

That NEC meeting

All sorts of excitement at this afternoon's NEC meeting. The police called in, someone having to be escorted out with their assistance, lots of shouting and even, whisper it though I only dare, some swearing.

The basis of it all was an appearance by Buster Mottram who the more rich in maturity will remember as the Tim Henman of his day. As he's not actualy part of the National Executive Committee, there was a certain wonderment that he was there at all. Still, he said that he had something very important to, OK, say it then.

Now, put down your cup of coffee, remove any liquids from the immediate area, we wouldn't want you to damage your keyboard or screen as you snort (whether in derision or laughter) at this proposal.

That there should be an electoral pact between UKIP and the BNP!


No, no, really, he said it!

OK, so, calmed down again now?

Good, the details were that the BNP would fight the seats in the north and UKIP would have a free run at the seats in the south at the euro/elections in 2009.

The end result was that, after the shouting (and I put in parentheses, for those who might be shocked by such, the information that there was indeed at this point some swearing) had died down, Buster was ejected from UKIP....I don't know quite what charge was used but in my opinion willful stupidity would be sufficient.

He then refused to leave and plonked himself down ....leading to the police being called and two uniformed officers escorted him gently from the room.

After all that was over there was further interesting news. Martin Haslam (an ex-officio member of the NEC), Eric Edmonds and David Abbot all had their membership of the NEC removed from them. (Edited at Eric's request)

What jolly japes for a Monday afternoon, don't you think?

What really gets me is the stupidity of the basic idea. What on earth makes Griffin and Mottram think that we'd want to make a deal with a group of racist, socialist pinheads?

Friday, 31 October 2008


Any acts of hospitality, such as Mandelson's stay on the Queen K yacht owned by the Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, are not declared. Inexplicably, under the commissioners' code of conduct, we have no right to know who entertains them.

And guess who drew up this extraordinary code? No, not Mandelson, but his old boss, the Welsh windbag himself, Lord Kinnock. The code was Kinnock's considered response when the European Commission was plunged into yet another corruption scandal under Jacques Santer in 1999.

It's true: holidays, stays on yachts, meals in expensive restaurants.....these simply don't have to be declared by EU Commissioners.

Andrew Symeou

The extradition case of Andrew Symeou was finally decided yesterday. He's to be dragged off to Greece on the basis of very dodgy information indeed and to be tried for manslaughter. This is under the european Arrest Warrant, which assumes that because we're all lovvy dovvy in this European Union then of course all of the courts work to the same standards of evidence, to the same standards of protecting the innocent.

Which, to put it mildly, isn't true.

Gerard Batten has a nice piece in the New Statesman explaining it all.

Monday, 27 October 2008

Don't these people understand?

Lordy, it's bad enough that we're ruled by foreigners, but do we have to be ruled by ignorant ones as well?

The European commission has given leading players in the £380tn derivatives market until the end of the year to come up with "concrete proposals" to reduce the risks these complex products pose to the financial system.

Charlie McCreevy, the EU internal market commissioner, is pressing the industry to agree to central clearing for credit default swaps (CDSs), the instruments viewed as being at the core of the financial turmoil.

There is already central clearing for CDSs.


So what is Charlie wittering on about?

Oh Good Grief!

This is one of those little things that seriously annoys me. OK, so they're going to spend some money of electric cars. Wonderful, I hope they have fun. One of the justifications put forward is this:

Building on an announcement made by Prime Minister Gordon Brown in July this year, Monday's plans could lead to the creation of 10,000 new British jobs and help preserve many thousands more.

"Creating jobs" isn't a good thing. Jobs are a cost of whatever it is that you're doing. We could create lots of jobs by banning tractors and insisting that farmers use teams of chavs to pull their ploughs. But I think we all agree that this would make our food cost more, said people needing more money to run than a tractor does?

The same with 10,000 jobs with electric cars. We've got to pay those 10,000 people each and every week. So their wages are a cost to us of this scheme. "Creating" 10,000 jobs just means 10,000 more people we've got to pay.

And to go a little further into hte economics, it also means that we lose whatever else it was that those 10,000 would have done if they weren't checking the acid level in our batteries. This is what economists call opportunity costs. If they're working on our cars then they're not building windmills, or wiping babies' bottoms, discovering the cure for cancer or lagging our roofs.

Time for everyone to grasp this simple fact....creating jobs is a cost of a scheme, not a benefit.

M'Lord Tebbitt

Well, of course I like what he's saying.

LORD Tebbit will tonight call for a referendum asking whether Britain should quit the European Union........

Baroness Thatcher, 83, is expected to be a guest at the event hosted by the Tory Euro sceptic Bruges Group in her honour. Lord Tebbit will say: “I hope that the Conservative Party will set out a negotiating brief that the next Conservative government will take to Brussels early in its next term, and that it would within two years of the next election, present to the British people the outcome of its negotiations.

“Then in a referendum the British people would decide whether to accept what was on offer – or simply to leave the union.

It's a useful political test actually. I've long argued that there are two groups in politics. There are those who pursue a specific idea or ideal. Then there are those who are more tribal.

Those latter we know about, those who would only ever vote Labour or Tory. In a way they're not so much interested in ideas as in it being their tribe doing the ruling.

I put myself in the former group.....and I think that most of my fellow members of UKIP are as well. It isn't so much that we should be running the country, that our tribe should be on top. Rather, we're united by the idea that Britain should rule Britain.

And the usefulness of the test here? This idea is being proposed by a Conservative, yes, but is it a good idea? Would I support it? I can only speak for myself of course, but yes, I'd support a call for an in or out referendum whoever it came from.

Yes, even if it were Richard Corbett calling for it, which I think shows my attachment to principle, doesn't it?

Saturday, 25 October 2008

The European Union will shorten your life!

No, really, it will.

THE World Health Organisation recently reported that Andorra, that little pocket tucked in the Pyranees, has the highest life expectancy of any country in the world. One can speculate on the many reasons why this would be so: in addition to the mountain air and lifestyle, being well-situated to pick and choose from the best of French and Spanish culinary influences (all in moderation, of course) can't hurt.

It turns out that other little places do pretty well in the life-expectancy league tables too. Another ranking puts Macau, Singapore, San Marino and Guernsey in the top 15 globally. This would seem to bode well for other places in Europe: Malta, Liechtenstein, San Marino, Monaco and the Vatican City are all smaller than Andorra.

You see, people who live in smaller political units, in small countries, live longer than those in larger countries and political units.

And as we know, the aim of the European Union is that we should all end up livingin one large political unit, one large super state, all 500 million of us. Which of course will mean that we will die younger than if we had been left to go our own sweet way in nation states.

See, it's true! The EU will shorten your life!

A frank exchange of views.

Maurice Golden, a 28-year-old campaign manager for Keep Scotland Beautiful, was asked by a political magazine which one law he would repeal, if given the chance. "European Communities Act 1972," he told the Total Politics website, without a moment's hesitation.

The act took Britain into the European Economic Community and its repeal would entail withdrawal from the EU. Cameron declared only a few months into his leadership that MPs advocating withdrawal would be barred from serving on his front bench.

After Mandrake informed the Tory leader, who was campaigning in Glenrothes yesterday, about his candidate's remark, the pair appeared to have had a frank exchange of views. "David has spoken to Maurice and there is no question of him wanting to pull out of the European Union," said his spokesman. "Maurice believes that there should be changes to the act, but not that it should be repealed."

What a wonderful modern Tory Party we have here.

You can't even speak your mind any more.

Well Nick laddie....

Mr Sarkozy said the state would take dramatic action in all fields of economic management to head off the worst crisis since the "franc fort" deflation of the 1930s. "We will intervene massively whenever a strategic enterprise needs our money," he said.

The fund managed by Caisse des Depots – the investment arm of the French state – will be used to buy shares in any company falling prey to sovereign wealth funds from Asia and the Middle East, hoping to snap up Europe's crown jewels on the cheap after the stock market crash.

"We mustn't be naive and leave companies at the mercy of predators. Europe must not be the only one not to defend its interests. There is no reason why we shouldn't do what the Chinese do, and the Russians do. There is no reason why France can't have an industrial policy worthy of the name," he said.

Actually there is a reason why you can't do this.

It's illegal.

Far be it from me to back the European Union, but if you're going to be in hte club then you do have to obey the rules. And those rules say that you're not allowed to have national champions, nor an active industrial policy, nor benefit French firms over others.

Now if you want to do all of that, well, good luck to you. I happen to think it's a bad idea, certainly, but I'll not insist that you don't do it. However, if you are going to do that I think I would rather want to insist that you've got to leave the club to do so. And the thought of us being free from the influence of France in the EU is just so delicious that I'll even hold the door open for you on the way out and make sure that it doesn't hit you on the bum as it closes.

No, not au revoir, rather good bye.

Flags and number plates

Just a small insight into what it is that I do all day. This story turned up in The Telegraph:

Drivers who display national flags face a £60 fine and also could find they fail an MoT test because of an illegal number plate. It is thought thousands of motorists have chosen number plates with their country of origin flag, but exact numbers are not known.

Jim Fitzpatrick, a transport minister told MPs of the restrictions when replying to a parliamentary question from Bob Spink, a the United Kingdom Independence Party's only MP at Westminster.

According to Mr Fitzpatrick regulations which came into force seven years ago only allowed the display of the European Union symbol of 12 yellow stars on a blue background.

Mr Spink, MP for Castle Point, raised the issue after being contacted by motorists who had been fined for displaying national flags.

Many people were unaware of the regulations. He said: "No one believed it. This is outrageous.

"Europe is gathering around itself the trappings of a country because only countries can have a flag. Europe is becoming the country and Britain is just a region. This is just not acceptable."

Well done Bob for asking the question in the House and getting the answer.

But, but, couldn't this story be taken further? Well, actually, yes it could, for we'd had a contact from a party supporter asking us about this law. His daughter had just been given a ticket for having a Cross of St George on her plate. Surely this wasn't right, was it?

Sadly, as above, I had to tell him that it was, that really is the way the law is (badly) written. But did he think that his daughter would be interested in talking to a newspaper about it?

You know, show the ticket, show the number plate with distraught maiden etc etc. Yes, me too, we can all think of several papers which would love just such a story and indeed we had one raring to go. Something on a Sunday it was, large circulation sort of thing, would have been great.

Sadly, the young lady in question (and there's certainly no blame attached here, keeping clear of the hounds of the press is usually a good move) decided that her employers might not be all that keen on her appearing and thus declined.

So, err, that's one of the things a press officer does. Expends great effort to get nothing at all achieved. Just so you know like......

Some people

Philip Bushill-Matthews had a letter in The Guardian about the European Arrest Warrant.

All about how the Tories had said that it would all lead to tears from the start.

Nigel wrote in in response:

Philip Bushill-Matthews (letters, October 23) tells us the Conservatives in the European parliament warned of the troubles to come with the European arrest warrant. Why didn't they vote against it then, as my Ukip colleague
Jeffrey Titford and I did?
Nigel Farage
Leader, UK Independence party

Rather heavily edited unfortunately, but the point gets across, no?

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

There's a story behind this.

"They want to fine me £300 for sandwich wrappers. The world's gone crazy. We got a letter from the council's environmental waste department, like everybody else, about six months ago asking us to declare the waste we produce.

"I wrote back to them saying we don't have any. We didn't get anything back and so I though nothing of it, until an officer walked into the office out of the blue for an inspection. There was no warning, he just bounded in and demanded to inspect our waste.

"He accused us of lying and said there are dire consequences for trying to avoid having a proper licence."

Mr Hughes claimed the official was simply looking for reasons to charge him, rather than conceding that he was acting within the law.

He said: "I remembered that my wife had made me cheese sandwiches that day so I produced the cling film and said, 'the only waste here comes from my sarnie wrappers'.

"But he jumped on that saying, 'Well that's waste!' He also asked if we drank tea and when I said 'yes' he told me that tea bags were also classed as waste.

"It was laughable really, I thought he was joking. We take the wrappers and bags back home with us at night.

"But he said we should pay for a licence and save them up for a week and then call them for collection. I showed him the door and he said we'd be getting a £300 fine."

It's not just some jumped up little snot nose having a laugh. There's a reason why the laws are the way they are and it doesn't come from Westminster.

No, all environmental laws now come from Brussels. And thus this law must have come from Brussels. And indeed it has done...that industrial waste (yes, even sandwich wrappers) cannot be dealt with in the same manner as domestic waste is a direct result of the directives and regulations coming out of Europe.

Well done Bob!

Once again, Bob Spink gets an interesting answer to well crafted question in the Commons.

It does grate that we've got a law that says it's OK to put EU on your car's number plates but it's illegal to put GB on the same ones, don't it?

That European Arrest Warrant

Something else we can note about the European Arrest Warrant.

The increase is largely down to the volume of European arrest warrants (EAWs), many of them issued by Poland.

EAWs, requiring the arrest and extradition of suspects from one EU country to another, are being used by Poland for a "large volume of trivial extradition requests", according to Detective Sergeant Gary Flood of Scotland Yard's extradition unit.

He estimated that 40% of all extradition cases dealt with by the Metropolitan police originated in Poland, adding that many of the offences were so minor they would lead to either a caution or no investigation at all in England and Wales.

In one case, according to Flood, a carpenter who fitted wardrobe doors and then removed them when the client refused to pay him, was subject to an extradition request by Poland so that they could try him for theft. In another case, the Polish authorities requested the extradition of a suspect for theft of a dessert. "The European arrest warrant contained a list of the ingredients," Flood said.

The problem is that there's no one who is (in the words of my colleague here, Clive Page) responsible for common sense. There are things which could, if we really tried, if we were prepared to be entirely nuts about prosecuting every piece of trivia, which could be court cases.

But we do (and had even more in the past) a system which did exactly that. Magistrates could look at a case in front of them and, while not actually saying as such, simply reject it as being trivial.

But what this EAW does is ties us in with legal systems that don't have that.

Aren't we lucky, eh?

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Well said Peter

On the subject of Imperial and metric measurements.

Our official classes hate our ancient, polished-in-use, human measures precisely because they are ours and because they are British.

Like the Common Law, jury trial and constitutional monarchy, we fashioned them here during a thousand years of freedom and independence.

And they have all got to go because that freedom and independence are rapidly coming to an end. We live in the afterglow of our dying liberty. From now on it’s top-down, do-as-you’re-told standardised, globalised, bland, inhuman and ugly, like it or not.

Those who think this is just a quirky side issue are mistaken. Once the State has the power to force its way into private transactions between individuals, you are no longer free.

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Tommy Cooper

Presented without comment.

In 1964 Tommy Cooper used the same technique, just as successfully, on the Queen, in the line-up after the Royal Variety Show. "I say, Your Majesty - may I ask you a personal question?"

"As personal as I'll allow," the Queen replied.

"Do you like football?"

"Not particularly."

"Well, could I have your tickets for the Cup Final?"

Friday, 17 October 2008

Well done Bob!

Bob Spink has won the Westminster dog of the year contest with his two greyhounds, Fozzy Bear and Jessie.

Mr Spink, who defected to UKIP from the Conservatives earlier this year, beat off competition from 11 other entries

A dog breeder, Mr Spink took on the retired greyhounds last Christmas and said he hoped his good experience would encourage more people to do the same.

"I am delighted we scored a victory for greyhounds as a breed," he said.

The contest, run by canine welfare organisation the Kennel Club, is open to MPs, peers and political journalists.

Monday, 13 October 2008


I've got a piece over at The Guardian today, picking up from a question that Bob Spink asked in the Commons.

Just how much does recycling cost us, is it in fact a sensible thing to do?

I'm wondering whether I will, in the comments, get any actual answers to the questions I ask. It would be fun if I did I think.....

Letters to the editor

There's a certain annoyance, it has to be said, in the way that letters to the editor get edited. Take this one:


Wanstead & Woodford Guardian

Guardian House

480 – 500 Larkshall Road

Highams Park

London E4 9BD

Dear Dominic Yeatman

An all party committee consisting of leading Labour and Conservative MPs, a former Archbishop of Canterbury and a Moslem peer has called for a cap on immigration. They suggest a policy of “balanced” immigration only allowing in the same number of people as those who emigrate.

The population of this country is now over 60 million and under this government’s open door policy is set to rise to over 78 million by 2050. Under these new proposals it would “only” increase to 65 million.

England is now the most densely populated country in Europe, apart from Malta, with most of the overcrowding in London and the South East according to government figures.

This inflow of people as a result of this government’s policy of uncontrolled mass immigration has not been accompanied by a similar increase in infrastructure and services to cope with the additional demand on schools, the NHS, public transport, water, and power supplies. As a result, services are under severe strain and the situation will only get worse as there is no more money in the kitty

This policy of balanced immigration is exactly as UKIP have advocated for a long time as we have always said it is a question of numbers of people on a crowded island. This latest conversion by policy makers is of course too little too late

Nick Jones

Redbridge & Waltham Forest

UK Independence Party

Yes, they published it, but they took that last paragraph out altogether. Which rather diminishes the point of the letter, that we've eben saying this all along.


Sunday, 12 October 2008

Peter Mandelson and conflicts of interest under the Ministerial Code

I think this is absolutely fascinating.

The EU rule book decrees that Mandelson, who left his job as Trade Commissioner last week before completing his five-year term, will be eligible for about £78,000 a year for each of the next three years in 'transitional payments'. A total of £234,000 will be paid in instalments of £6,500 a month until the end of 2011. It will be subject to preferential tax rates devised for EU officials.

So he'll be paid by the European Union for the next three years, eh? While he's in the Cabinet? I thought there were very strict rules about what outside interests a Minister could have. For example, they don't get paid if they write for a newspaper, they can't publish a book and get royalties.

There's more here and here.

The cash cushion will be taxed at only 26 per cent under special ‘community rates’ open to EU officials. A tax expert said yesterday that a similar payment in the UK would be subject to tax at the higher rate of 40 per cent.

And he pays tax at a lower rate than everyone else. Rather dangerous, that, don't you think? That the political rulers don't have to pay the taxes they set for everyone else?

But more than that, here's the Ministerial Code. That's what the extract at the top is from.

Here's the way I read it. Ministers should not have such outside financial interests. However, sometimes these are indeed allowed (one can imagine someone with a family firm for example). When they are allowed they must be declared. And if they are declared then that Minister must abstain from dealing with matters concerning that interest, up to and including the point that certain documents should be withheld from them.

So if all that is followed, Mandelson must a) declare his interest in continuing to receive money from the EU and b) not deal with EU matters, to the point of not even seeing the documents.

Which, given that the EU provides some 80% of our legislation is really quite a lot that he won't be able to do as the new Business Secretary.

Are we all sure that this is a good idea?

Saturday, 11 October 2008

Quite Nigel

The UK Indepen­dence Party leader Nigel Farage attacked the move as “an outrage”. He said: “The sooner Britain gets back control of immigration policy, the better.”

But have a look at what this is all about.

MORE than 50 million African workers are to be invited to Europe in a far-reaching secretive migration deal, the Daily Express can reveal today.

Do go and read the rest.

Quite Leo

This all makes good sense:

As the turmoil worsens in the financial markets the Euro­pean Union is proving utterly incapable of handling the
crisis. Far from rescuing the economies of its member states the EU itself is starting to buckle under pressure.

The great American free-market economist Milton Friedman long maintained that the EU’s monetary union would not survive a serious recession – or “the first bump in the road”, as he put it. His prediction is looking all too accurate as the European banking system teeters on the edge of meltdown.

The looming catastrophe exposes the folly and deceit of all the enthusiasts for the EU who argued that the sacrifice of national sovereignty was a small price to pay in return for dynamic growth. Now the EU member states who signed up to the euro are experiencing the worst of all worlds.

Not only have they lost their national independence but they are also experiencing the start of the worst slump since the Second World War. The currency they adopted is chronically weak, the union they joined is imploding. The EU’s aggressive destruction of the nation state has been in vain.

Precisely because it takes no account of differences in national economies, the institution of European monetary union has proved hopelessly ill-equipped for the present crisis.

They decided to have the currency first and then build the nation. Unfortunately, that doesn't work. You've got to have a nation first and then you can build a currency. They thought that political will could overcome the economics of the matter.

But the truth is that while you can ignore economics, economics ain't gonna ignore you.