Monday, 23 February 2009

We've moved

We're over here now.

Still a work in progress.......

And in other places Algarve Golf.

Friday, 20 February 2009

True, which is why you Tories need to be more eurosceptic Iain.

And what do you think was the reason the council gave for the repainting of the spaces? Because they had to comply with an EU Directive which lays out how big the spaces must be. I ask you.

What on earth has the size of car parking spaces in Tunbridge Wells got to do with the EU?

From UKIP Witney

This is a very useful little list from the UKIP Witney site. A list of terms used when talking about the European Union.

Even people like me who are already supposed to know all this stuff will find it useful as an aide memoire.

Keeping the Krona

We're often told by the likes of Polly Toynbee that we should be more like Sweden. And it has to be said, there are times when this is true.

The home market is looking bruised as well. Sweden's property prices have begun to buckle after rising by 175pc since 1996 in a British-style boom. The Riksbank slashed rates to 1pc last week and is openly mulling currency devaluation as well as bond purchases as a part of a radical stimulus. The kronor has fallen nearly 20pc against the euro, helping to cushion the downturn.

"It's been a blessing. This is exactly why a country needs its own currency," said Mr Magnusson.

Quite. You need to have flexibility in an economy and a floating currency is one of the best ways of getting that.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Pearson of Rannoch

A very nice point made in the Lords:

I suggest to the Minister—perhaps he will correct me if I am wrong—that a man is innocent until he is proved guilty.

The point of the pound

Made very well here:

None of this misery should entitle Britons to much Schadenfreude; indeed, it will intensify our own recession. But we can at least afford ourselves a grim smile over the fact that this crisis is not ours alone. And we should thank the Lord that we stayed outside the euro. This is precisely the moment when free-floating independent currencies and interest rates come into their own. The nasty dose of medicine doled out to the patient is starting to work.

Alarming and discomforting as it is to see the Bank of England pledging to start the printing presses, or to watch the pound slide by more than a quarter, these are precisely the factors that will ensure Britain's recession is less intense than that experienced by other countries. The only worry is that the freeze in world trade leads to a full-blown slide into protectionism, but that is a horror story for another day.

Where the money goes

Bruno Waterfield reporting upon the Parliament's TV channel:

It costs £53,000 for every hour broadcast but under 160,000 people have watched it since broadcasting began in mid-September. Over 60,000 of those were in the first week.

This means that this lavishly funded European Union channel attracts less than 1200 viewers every day, from a potential audience of over 400 million.

It is, of course, the European Parliament's EuroparlTV. That's the web-TV service that will cost more than £32 million over four years, over £9,000 worth of vanity programmes for each and every MEP per annum.

1200 a day? For £32 million?

That's less traffic than my blog gets. No, not this party one, but my personal one, the one that's just me grumbling at the world.

They're really not getting very far in this bright new online world, are they?

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Very interesting figures

Very interesting indeed. I normally take MigrationWatch with a pinch of salt but as far as I can see these figures stand up:

5 The Labour force survey is the best available source. For the fourth quarter of 2008 this shows a UK born workforce of 25,582,000. The number of workers born in the A 8 countries was 482,000; this represents a fall of about 6% on the previous quarter but is very similar to the level of Q 4 2007 so there is, as yet, no clear sign of a significant return home by East European workers. The number of workers born in the EU 14 countries was 690,000; thus the total born in the other European Union countries was 1,172,000. The same survey gave the total number of non UK born as 3,819,000. Thus 70% of foreign born workers come from outside the EU [1].

6. Measured by nationality the results are different because some 1.5 million migrant workers have acquired British nationality. A8 nationals are 469,000 while EU 14 nationals come to 548,000 giving a total of EU nationals of 1,017,000.

British workers in the EU
7 The number of UK Nationals working in other EU countries is approximately 286,000. The main destinations are Germany 65,000, Ireland 52,000, Spain 42,000, France 36,000, Netherlands 28,000 (Annex A).

8 The number of EU workers in Britain is thus three or four times the number of British workers in the EU, depending on whether you take the EU born or those who are still EU nationals. Reasons for this imbalance may include limited language skills among British workers, relatively low unemployment rates in Britain in recent years and the fact that wages here are generally higher than in most EU countries.

Fascinating, no?

Friday, 13 February 2009

Yes, that's the point

It really is remarkable what people will complain about:

French and German ministers are expected to confront the Chancellor over sterling's weakness at the opening dinner for the Group of Seven finance summit in Rome tonight. They will ask him to consider direct action to increase the value of the pound, which has suffered its worst devaluation since at least the final breakdown of the Bretton Woods agreement in the early 1970s.

What's that use of the word "worst" there? "Best" would be more appropriate, no? The economy has suffered a shock and prices must therefore change. That they change to the new, correct, level is not a bad thing, but a good thing. And an exchange rate is only that, a price.

The pound has weakened by about a quarter over the past year as it has become increasingly apparent that the UK faces a worse recession than most other developed nations, and that the Bank's Monetary Policy Committee will be forced to slash interest rates as a result.

OK, if this is true, then the pound should indeed change in value in response. This is the very point of having a market in anything at all, so as to discover prices.

In particular, companies in Europe have complained that the pound's recent devaluation has left their exporters suffering, as businesses are switching to cheaper British goods.

Well, quite, that's rather the point. That's why we're happy that we have an independent currency so that the value can indeed change: and thus the symptom of the problem, a falling exchange rate, becomes the solution to the problem.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Where the power lies

An interesting little detail that explains something that sometimes puzzles people about our activities in the European Parliament.

The European Parliament’s campaigning Petitions Committee approved a damning new report slamming planning loopholes which leave homeowners defenceless against developers seizing part or all of their property.

Sounds terribly important, doesn't it? And the law they're complaining about is indeed vile. But here's the important line:

Now the Petitions Committee - which has no direct power - has made a new call on the Madrid government to force revision of the regional law.

This is why we almost never sign up to such petitions and motions. They have no power over anything at all. They're simply pious notions that show that MEPs "care"....not that MEPs are going to do anything about the subject. Something to show the constituents, not something that's going to change anything.

For the truth is that MEPs and Parliament cannot do anything about this or any other matter. The European Parliament does not have the right to initiate legislation. It can only vote on or attempt to amend legislation sent to it by the Commission or perhaps other agencies of the EU.

It's just another example of the lack of democracy within the whole system. The only elected people in it aren't able to even propose the law. There is indeed a Parliament, as we know, but it's a facade, the real power lies elsewhere.

Which is why we must leave, of course.

Saturday, 7 February 2009

This would be a good start

The worst thing, politically, about the present situation is that it makes democracies seem weak all over again. What most annoys people about Gordon Brown promising to produce "British jobs for British workers" is that he can't.

"No politician," said the Labour-supporting New Statesman primly this week, "should ever promise something that he knows is illegal under EU law." Perhaps, but if this means that he can promise very little at all, you do begin to wonder what is the point of him, and of the system which underpins him.

Is there any way of restoring the basic link, on which parliamentary democracy depends, between the interests of the voters and the actions of the people they vote for?

It would be even more interesting if politicians would actually realise quite how much of what they propose is indeed illegal under EU law.

For example, every single thing that anyone says about changing trade rules: this is now an EU sole competency and Westminster, our government, has no power over it at all.

There are, as we know, many other areas like this, where those in London posture and preen about what they would do for us without telling us that they have already signed that power away.

Perhaps we should design a little system of buzzers? Attatch one to each and every politician in the land. When they say something that they would do, but something which would be illegal under EU law, then the buzzer goes off.....and it only doesn't go off if they say "therefore we must leave the EU".

"I will take back control of our fisheries"...Buzz!

"We will control our borders"...Buzz!

"British jobs for British workers"...Buzz!

Only if we leave the EU matey, only if we leave the EU.


Thursday, 5 February 2009

Nigel in The Guardian

Nigel has a piece in The Guardian's Comment is Free.

Worth having a read.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Steve Crowther

Has a great letter in the North Devon Gazette.
While the opposition leader foolishly derides 'British jobs for British workers' as a phrase "borrowed from the BNP", Government Ministers claim to be looking for "a change in the rules" to prevent the monumental realisation that this is what EU membership is, fundamentally, all about. We are one of the wealthiest countries in the community of 27 - so everything we have must be made available to the others, until we are all as poor as each other.

Lord Mandelson, who is still paid to promote the EU despite being a British Cabinet Minister (his handsome EU pension will be withdrawn if he does otherwise - that is the rule), has broken the habit of a lifetime by telling it straight on this occasion: "Within the rules, UK companies can operate in Europe and European companies can operate here. Protectionism would be a sure-fire way of turning recession into depression."

In the EU which is now our ruler, 'British jobs for British workers' is protectionism, it is against the rules and it will not be allowed. As Nigel Farage of UKIP told the BBC, "It doesn't matter how many meetings are held, how much or how loud anyone shouts... we signed away our rights when we joined this prison of nations that is the EU."

Get used to it. Or get angry, and demand that we withdraw from the EU and regain the right to keep ourselves in work.
There's more there so do click through to read it. And you tell 'em Steve, you tell 'em like it is.

If I were elected as an MEP my first priority would be ....

Over at the EU Parliament site, they've got a little form asking what would be your first priority if you were elected as an MEP.

As Gawain says, it's just too easy to have fun with something like this, isn't it?

Go on, have a go. Tell 'em what you really think.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Janet Daly on the EU

This is certainly a robust view.

In the grand abstract terms of the enlightenment, the legitimacy of government derives from the consent of the governed, and therefore no government should have the right to hand over its authority to some external body which is not democratically accountable to its own people. So when the framers of the EU arranged for the nations of Europe to do exactly that, they were repudiating the two centuries old political struggle for the rights and liberties of ordinary citizens, of government "of the people, by the people and for the people". It has always been my view that this was a quite conscious decision by the EU founders who, in the wake of two world wars, came to believe that the infamous national crimes of the 20th century could be traced directly to the democratic revolutions of the 18th century, and that the only long-term solution to this was to replace democracy with oligarchy.

However, I think there's an error there. For I'm not quite convinced that the democratic values of the enlightenment really ever quite took hold in certain continental states in the same way that they did here (and in the US which she discusses). Just as an example, France has always been run by an oligarchic bureaucracy, one much more closed to outside entrants than anything in this country.

So I'm not entirely certain that the EU is based so much on rejecting that enlightenment, rather, on those places which never really embraced it imposing their system upon those that did.

Saturday, 31 January 2009

Immingham, Grangemouth, jobs....

British jobs and British workers......there's actually nothing at all that anyone can do about this. Not one single thing, as Nigel points out:

And UKIP leader Nigel Farage said Acas would be powerless to help because European law barred countries from reserving jobs for its own workers.

"It doesn't matter how many meetings are held, how much or how loud anyone shouts... we signed away our rights when we joined this prison of nations that is the EU," he said.

Friday, 30 January 2009

These oil refinery strikes

This story is simply a symptom of a much larger one, one that has very serious implications for us all.

A series of unofficial strikes broke out across Britain today over plans by oil companies to give jobs to construction workers from Portugal and Italy. The contractors were to work on the giant £200m Lindsey oil refinery at North Killingholme, North Lincolnshire.

The basic background is that any contract over a certain size must be put out to tender right across the European Union. If a foreign company, employing foreign labour, makes the best tender, then they get the job. There's no way that, in Gordon Brown's words, we can have "British jobs for British workers". Because the EU rules simply say that we can't.

This is bad enough of course but think about what happens next. Alistair Darling is talking about spending tens of billions, perhaps hundreds of billions, on infrastructure projects, shiny new trains, lots more windmills, perhaps a Severn Barrage and so on. And yes, part of the argument for this is to pull us out of the recession, to create jobs so that we don't have millions upon millions of people languishing on the dole.

And it will be us taxpayers who have to pay for all of this of course. It might be paid for by borrowing now, but the bill will come home in the future.

Ah, yes, you've spotted it. We want to spend this money so as to provide those British jobs for British workers. That's the whole Keynesian idea of a fiscal stimulus, of the infrastructure building. But under the EU rules, we can't make these jobs only for the British. They have to be advertised right across the EU.

So what we'll end up with is, as Godfrey Bloom has pointed out, "British taxes for foreign workers".

It's about time we left, don't you think, and we ran our economy for us?

Iceland and the EU....and the euro

This story about Iceland maybe applying to join the euro is rather interesting. Even, perhaps, joining the EU itself....although most people seem to think that you have to join the EU to join the euro.

Olli Rehn, the European commissioner in charge of enlargement, said: "The EU prefers two countries joining at the same time rather than individually. If Iceland applies shortly and the negotiations are rapid, Croatia and Iceland could join the EU in parallel. On Iceland, I hope I will be busier. It is one of the oldest democracies in the world and its strategic and economic positions would be an asset to the EU."

That actually sounds very much like the Commissioner floating an idea rather than an actual plan happening. The big problem for Iceland is of course that joining the EU would mean joining the most disastrous of all fishing regimes in the world, the Common Fisheries Policy. As, indeed, people are noting.

While there is support for joining the euro as a currency safe haven to protect Iceland from a battering by the markets, there is less enthusiasm for full EU membership, particularly among those in the vital fishing sector.

There are those therefore suggesting something very different indeed. Adopting the euro but not joining the European Union.

This factor has fuelled talk of "unilateral euroisation", meaning that Iceland might join or use the single currency without being admitted to the EU. This is dismissed in Brussels as nonsense.

I do have to wonder though why people are dismissing this as nonsense. Joining the euro might not be sensible, but it's certainly entirely possible. There's absolutely nothing at all that Brussels or anyone else could do to stop Iceland simply declaring that the euro was the only legal tender on the island.

Anyone with an ounce of knowledge of how monetary systems work would know that it's not in fact very difficult to do. After all, Panama does not have its own currency and hasn't for decades. They use the US $. Ecuador abolished their own currency and moved to the US $ in the 1990s (I think that date is correct). I lived and worked in Russia when there were two currencies, the rouble and the dollar.

As I say, this might or might not be a sensible idea, but it's most certainly not nonsense.

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Poor Mary

You really do want to read the comments section here.

Mary Honeyball gets a right talking to from the citizenry.

Saturday, 24 January 2009

More euro economics

It's worth noting that this is from a very sneior and very well respected economist. And that he's been saying these things since at least 1992.

These proponents of the single currency said that a single currency was needed to facilitate trade and that a single currency would promote efficiency by permitting price comparisons. EMU advocates in Britain argued that these economic gains were worth the political sacrifices � the loss of sovereignty over monetary affairs and over other economic policies that would result from joining the EMU. But Britain already had the free trade advantages of being a member of the European Union. I argued that there were in effect no net economic gains � more likely a net economic loss -- to compensate Britain for the political costs of joining the Economic and Monetary Union. Certainly there is nothing in economic theory or in historic experience to suggest that international trade requires a single currency. The argument that one market requires one money was the kind of political slogan that frankly bothered me as an economist. I was also not impressed by the idea that a single currency would facilitate price competition that would improve market efficiency. The housewife in Madrid buys her bread locally. So knowing what bread costs in Berlin or Rome is irrelevant. The industrial buyer who may already shop for steel or chemicals in different national markets could easily compare prices stated in different currencies with the help of a pocket calculator. In contrast, the economic costs of a single currency are very real. A single currency means a single monetary policy and a single exchange rate. A single monetary policy for a group of heterogeneous countries that experience different shocks cannot be optimal � the problem is that, when it comes to monetary policy, one size cannot fit all. If monetary policy has to consider unemployment as well as inflation, the average cyclical unemployment rate will be higher with a single currency. A single currency also means that a country that experiences an increased trade deficit caused by a reduced demand for its export products cannot be helped by a natural � i.e. automatic -- exchange rate adjustment.

It's worth reading the whole thing.

Friday, 23 January 2009

Free speech and all that.

So our own Godfrey Bloom organises a conference on the thorny subject of smoking. Yes, all sorts of people have all sorts of views on the subject.

That's what we have democracy for, so that we have a peaceful means of coming to a compromise between people and their very different views. And of course a key part of the system is that people are able, if not actively encouraged, to express those different views so that they can be taken into account when making said compromise.

Not, it appears, in the EU though. A decent overview is here.

Quite simply, because at this conference views which are not approved might be promoted, the conference was cancelled. By the authorities. By the Parliament authorities.

That is, the talking shop where compromises are reached is not willing to allow even the premises to be used to express non-compliant views.

Can we leave yet?

Ireland and the euro

An excellent piece here on what membership of the euro has done to Irealnd. And would have done to us if we had been stupid enough to enter it:

Yes, Britain is losing 2,500 jobs a day and home repossessions have nearly doubled in a year. And indeed British banks are on death-watch, the economy is likely to shrink by almost three percent this year, and the high streets are desolate. Savers are being robbed of interest, and industry is in despair.

Still, I can offer you one light in the darkness. Just look across to Ireland and see how much worse things would be now if Britain had joined the euro.

What we have in Ireland is Exhibit A in the case against the United Kingdom ever surrendering sterling to Europe.

Ireland has been in the euro since it was launched ten years ago. During those ten years, the euro and its European Central Bank turned a healthy, growing Irish economy of the 1990s into a fake-boom economy of property bubbles, consumer debt and reckless bankers.

Now it has all crashed. The Irish are facing perhaps a decade of stagnation and high tax.

In 1997, Ireland was lauded on the front cover of the Economist as 'Europe's shining light.' After ten years in the euro - with no control over its interest rates, and no influence over its exchange rates - Ireland now has the second worse economy in the EU, second only to Latvia.

Thank goodness we didn't join, eh? And let's make sure we don't make that mistake in the future, either, shall we?

The butter mountain is back

The European Commission has announced plans to artificially boost prices by buying up 139,000 tonnes of diary products at a cost to the public purse of £237 million.

Oh joy. We thought we'd got rid of that nonsense, didn't we? But no:

Export subsidies and EU food stocks were last used in 2007 and the Commission last year tried to scrap such payments, a reform that was blocked by France and Germany.

Thanks guys.

So, in the middle of a recession, the EU is taking the tax money from our pockets, making us poorer, and using it to make food more expensive, making us poorer again. How to beat the bad times, make the citizenry poorer twice over. Sheesh.

Can we leave yet?

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

It's not democracy so much

It's the rule of law that's important.

Yes, yes, I know, democracy is important, we do need to have a system in which we can decide who we're going to hire to go and run the difficult things for us. And as Churchill pointed out, democracy is the worst of these except for all the others.

But the rule of law is even more important than that.

There was widespread anger last week when it emerged that the Government was planning to exempt MPs' expenses from Freedom of Information legislation.

They are the people that have been democratically elected to write the laws so we can't complain too much about their writing a law. However, this bit:

The measure would be applied retrospectively, thus blocking the publication of the receipts.

That's the truly awful thing.

Leave aside all the arguments about whether we should see receipts, whether we shouldn't. The law as it is right now says that, after various court cases, we can see them. To retrospectively change the law is to change the law as it was then, not just as it will be going into the future.

The danger is, of course, that we've a long standing idea that you can only be charged with a crime if that thing was indeed a crime when you did it. This is one of the great protections we have from the possible vindictiveness of those who have been elected. That they can't turn around and make something we've already done illegal after the fact.

Something which all seems to have escaped the current government.

You what?

I'm not sure I understand this.

Employees should still accrue paid days off even if they are unable to work, the judgement said, because their rights and job benefits cannot be dependent on how well they are.

They must also be allowed to take time off that they built up while ill the previous year, and receive a payment in lieu of days off if they leave a job having been unable to take their full complement of paid leave.

The European Court of Justice declared: "A worker does not lose his right to paid annual leave which he has been unable to exercise because of sickness. He must be compensated for his annual leave not taken.

"The entitlement to annual leave of a worker on sick leave duly granted cannot be made subject to the obligation actually to have worked in the course of the leave year laid down by a member state."

Seriously? I get holiday pay when I've been off sick?

Might we not think that this is a tad de trop? Has the EU decided that I should get a bonus for not turning up to work as well? Maybe I should get my lunch allowance for not having lunch? Or my train ticket paid for when I don't commute?

Blimey, why don't we go to a simpler system. One where people decide amongst themselves the terms upon which they'll work and which they'll be employed?

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

More on the euro

We've got intellectual pygmies like Will Hutton telling us that we should join the euro:

Will Hutton, journalist and executive vice chair of the Work Foundation and co-compiler of the report, argues that failure to enter the Euro would risk ‘endemic inflation’.

The we've got real intellectuals like the most recent Nobel Laureate in Economics, Paul Krugman.

So what can Spain do? It needs to become more competitive — but it can’t have a devaluation, because it’s a euro country. So the only alternative is wage cuts, which are desperately hard to achieve (and create big problems for debtors.)

Contrary to what everyone seemed to be saying even a few weeks ago, being a member of the eurozone doesn’t immunize countries against crisis. In Spain’s case (and Italy’s, and Ireland’s, and Greece’s) the euro may well be making things worse.

And Britain’s plunging pound, unpopular though it is, may turn out to have been a very good thing.

So who are you going to believe? A two bit journalist or someone recently awarded the highest accolade in the intellectual world?

Toughie that one, isn't it?

Quite right Ambrose

Real interest rates of minus 2pc set by Frankfurt for German needs led to a Spanish property bubble of fearsome scale. Construction rose to 16pc of GDP, trumping the British and US bubble by large margins. Spanish companies tapped the euro capital markets as if there was tomorrow. Reliance on foreign borrowing reached 10pc of GDP, among the world's highest. Wages went up and up. The result is a current account deficit that is also 10pc of GDP.

Interest rates were too low for Spain (and Ireland etc) in the boom times. Now they're too high in the bad times. But much more than that we know of two ways which a country can use to get out of these bad times. The first is to lower interest rates and thus devalue the currency. But if you're in a single currency like the euro of course you cannot do that. The second way is to have wage deflation in that country.

That means falling wages....not just falling wages in real terms (ie, accounting for inflation) but falling wages in nominal terms (that is, the actual amount of cash people gets must fall). Now this is indeed possible: but I'm not sure that I can think of any democratic society that has managed to reduce nominal wages. At least, not without a great deal of rioting in the streets.

Spain has to claw back 20pc to 30pc against a stern German that will not inflate. Therefore, Spain must deflate. It must embark on a 1930s policy of draconian wage cuts.

It remains to be seen whether this will be tolerated by a democracy. Brussels expects Spanish unemployment to reach 19pc – or 4.5m people – by late next year. This is a depression.

This is an effect of the euro. No, it's not a side effect nor was it unseen. It's a direct effect of, if you're going to have one currency then you also have to have one interest rate, and it was predicted. Indeed, it's the sort of thing that even I, not an economist, was predicting back in the 1990s.

Thank goodness we didn't in fact join and let this be a lesson to those arguing that we should. If it's not an optimal currency area then a single currency just doesn't work.

Monday, 19 January 2009

Anne Frank and Danny Finkelstein

Please do go and read this.

Read it all.

It's almost unbearably sad and massively enraging. You certainly wouldn't want to be a holocaust denier anywhere around someone who had just read that.

Do make sure to read the very last line.

Marching bands outside my window

Here at UKIP press office central we're right in the heart of Westminster. This means that when the military musicians decide to take their instruments out for an airing they march and play just outside our window.

Just spotted something that rather confused me. So there's 20, 30 men in greatcoats and bearskins marching down the road and pumping out the 19 th century equivalent of pop music and behind them are another 20, 30 men (umm, a platoon I think from my limited military knowledge) in greatcoats and bearskins carrying that rather nifty looking new rifle.

There's also a rather pretty looking policewoman on a horse traling along behind them in her turn.


What might happen on a London street that a woman on a horse can deal with and thirty armed men cannot?

It just puzzles me.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

EU stupidity in Wales

From Booker's column:

Another British industry which may soon disappear, thanks to our masters in Brussels, is production of that remarkably useful metal aluminium. Although we rank only 19th in the world production league, our two main plants, in Anglesey and Northumberland, are as efficient as any of their competitors. But aluminium relies heavily on constant supplies of electricity.

The Holyhead plant, Wales's largest electricity user, is supplied at a discount price by the nearby Wylfa nuclear power station, state-owned through the Nuclear Decommissioning Authoritty (NDA). If the NDA was privately owned, it says it would be happy to carry on selling power to its largest customer at a discount. But under EU state-aid rules this is now "against the law".

This is willful stupidity on the part of the EU. The major cost in producing aluminium is electricity. So much so that you normally build your smelters right next to a long term source of cheap power. So much so in fact that you might deliberately go and build a dam (as has been done in many parts of the world) and then build your smelter right beside it so as to get cheap electricity.

In a country like the UK, where we've not got much hydro power possibility unused, we might build our smelter close to a nuclear plant. And the nuclear plant would be very happy to have you next door as you're going to be a reliable customer for a good percentage of their power, decade after decade.

In fact, this symbiotic relationship is so strong that the decision to build or not to build a nuclear plant will be informed by whether someone would like to build an aluminium smelter next door. And this is indeed what happened here. There is no coincidence in Wylfa and the smelter both opening in 1971. They were both built knowing that the other would be. The smelter gets a guarantee of low cost electricity, the nuclear plant knows that they have a long term customer for a substantial chunk of output and is willing to offer a discount to get one.

Think about it in any other line of business. "I'd like to take 30% of the production of that new plant you're thinking of building for the entire lifetime of the plant but I would like a discount".

Is he going to get his discount? Sure he is. And the EU now says this is illegal.

They're fools.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

They eat horses, don't they?

Godfrey does Goddersvision.

Most fun.

This is something to see

But Lord Malloch Brown said: 'With 24 countries having approved the Treaty, I am not sure whether the voters of Ireland should have a right of veto over the aspirations of all the other people of Europe. I am not sure whether that is or is not democracy.'

Quite remarkable, don't you think? That a man who is a member of a democratic government doesn't seem to know what the word "democracy" itself means?

Nothing to see here

Move along now....and in fact there isn't anything to see here.

Caroline Flint, the Europe Minister, was reported as saying that we might at some time join the euro. Now of course, we think that we would be an entirely disastrous idea but it does have to be said that what Flint was saying isn't a change in policy or anything.

Europe minister Caroline Flint opposed a promise made by David Cameron yesterday to keep the pound regardless of the circumstances.

She told Metro: 'We will make a dec­ision based on economic cond­itions. We have identified five tests that have to be met: convergence with other European economies, flexibil­ity, impact on investment, the impact on the financial services industry and growth stability and employment.

'At the moment, those economic tests have not been met.'

Britain has maintained the same position on the euro since 1997 when Mr Brown as chancellor devised the tests to assess whether the country was ready to switch to the euro.

What we've got to worry about is when they either stop referring to those tests or start to claim that they've been passed.

How it all works

Interesting fact for today: The Pesticide Action Network, who were interviewed by the BBC yesterday, welcoming the EU's decision to ban a range of pesticides, are funded by...the EU.

That's from Bishop Hill.

That's where some of that 2.4 billion euros the EU spends on propaganda goes. To so called "independent" organisations so that they can praise whatever it is that the EU is up to this week.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Timeo Danae: Not

We've had a fun little back and forth with some Greek MEPs over the last couple of days. Yesterday Nigel makes a speech in the Strasbourg Parliament which points out that the Greek bonds have a spread of 233 basis points over the German Bund (no, don't worry, you don't need to know all of this financial terminology. Essentially, the Greek Government has to pay a lot more to borrow money that the German one does because the markets think they're a dodgy bunch....).

Then the Greek MEPs allied with the EPP (ie, sitting with David Cameron's bods) send around an email which says this:

Following today's attempt by Mr Farage to attack the EURO through provocative statements on Greece's membership to the EMU -during the plenary debate on the 10th anniversary of the EURO-, the Greek EPP-ED Delegation (Nea Demokratia) would like to inform you that today's tender of government bonds yielded a total amount of 2,550 billion Euros at an average rate of 2,51%, well below the Euribor rate of reference. The final result covers more than 6 times the amount targeted by the Greek government.

This offers a tangible response to any Member seeking to establish the truth regarding the credibility of Greece's performance as a trustworthy member of the Eurozone.

Mr Farage was really unlucky to attack Greece on the same day that markets proved their confidence to the Greek economy.

Ohh, get that eh? They'll be scratching our eyes out next.

(Boring technical stuff. Skip this unless you like details. Actually, the Greek government didn't issue bonds. They issued bills. Bonds are for more than a year, bills for less than one. Also, they didn't get "below Euribor". Euribor was 2.19% yesterday for 360 day bills. The Greeks paid 2.67%. This is known in financial circles as "more" than, not "less than" or "well below". The implication of this is that the markets think that the Greek government is a worse risk than your common or garden bank.)

But what is really delightful is that today S&P cut their credit rating for Greece.

This is, to use again that impenetrable jargon of the financial markets, evidence that the markets do not have confidence in the Greek economy, not proof that they do.

That Cameron Promise

All sounds very good, doesn't it?

BRITAIN will have a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty in October if the Tories win a 2009 snap election, David Cameron declared last night.

The Tory leader and his shadow foreign secretary William Hague vowed to put the hated constitution to a national vote in the autumn.

Mr Cameron – who also promised to keep the Pound – made his pledge to The Sun.

He said he would honour the commitment as soon as possible after a spring General Election victory.

But, umm, as there isn't going to be a snap General Election then they won't win one and they won't hold a referendum.

This is as weasel worded and mealy mouthed as Brown's own promise to have a referendum on the Constitution: which we won't have now because they've changed the title page to "Lisbon Treaty".

We've got to get out so that people will stop lying to us in this manner.

Sir Dai

One of the little things about how the newspaper business works is that a lot of stories come from the Press Association. Each newspaper then either prints the piece or, more likley, takes the parts of it that it wants and then prints it as their own story.

So one of the things that we try to keep an eye on in the press office is, if something is mentioned in a Press Association story, which of the newspapers then use that little bit of it that mentions us?

Like this from the PA story about Sir Dai:

Nigel Farage, leader of the UKIP party, paid tribute to Sir Dai, saying: "He was a larger than life character who brought great joy to both life and our party.

"We are sad to see him gone. We will remember him, and of course we will still be fighting for what he believed in, which is a free, sovereign and independent United Kingdom."

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

A nodding donkey

What, actually, is the point of electing a Conservative Euro MP? Nodding donkey's might actually be more useful: at least a donkey sometimes turns around and bites back.

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Is this really necessary?

We all know what the point of the European Union is. Sr. Barroso has told us. It's to stop Germany invading France. Again*.

Is this really a necessary part of ensuring that?

The EU has also imposed a limit on the quantity of cow pats that can be allowed to stand on farm land. The NFU has warned that the 170 kilos per hectare limit is too low for about 40pc of dairy farms and the Government has agreed to lobby Brussels to raise the limit to 250 kilos.

We need to monitor the toilet habits of cows to stop the Wehrmacht marching down the Champs Elysee again?

Can we leave yet?

* There is a thought that, after four or five attempts at taking France over the last couple of centuries, the Wehrmacht actually succeeded last time. Perhaps, having actually taken the place, they simply think now that France isn't worth the effort, and thus we don't need to worry about it?

Misunderstanding Sangatte

As Nigel says:

UKIP leader Nigel Farage said: “Monsieur Pinte clearly does not understand the UN convention on refugees but prefers to pass on the problem to Britain. And he has no understanding of history as most of the countries he refers to were not British colonies.”

Well, quite. Would be immigrants into the UK can be divided into three groups. Firstly, those who are EU citizens, such as those from Eastern Europe. They have, under EU law, an absolute right to move and settle in here, just as you or I have an absolute right to move to any other EU country. Whether we like this or not is entirely different from whether this is true or not. (There are still some restrictions on Romanians or Bulgarians *working* in the UK, but they have the freedom to come here all the same.)

The second group are migrants from outside the EU. These might be economic migrants, family members, students, whatever, and at present it is up to each individual country as to who they will let in and why. Brazil and Portugal have a special arrangement for historical reasons, as an example, as the UK does with, say, family members in ex-Empire countries. The EU is very much trying to take control of this aspect of immigration and is encroaching on the national perogatives. For example, there's a mooted change whereby someone who comes in under one of those special arrangements, or who gets the right to live in any one EU country, can then assume the right to live in any other EU country.

Then there's the third group, asylum seekers. These are people (in the true definition) fleeing oppression in their homelands. The law here isn't either national or EU. It's a UN Convention. The problem I think that most of us have isn't that there is a special set of laws for asylum seekers. We wouldn't send dissidents back to be murdered by a Stalin type figure, send Jews into the Holocaust, the problem is in distinguishing between those cases and those who are simply adopting such a cloak to cover their desire to be economic migrants.

So, what is it that M. Pinte said?

In an open letter to France’s Immigration Minister Brice Hortefeux, Mr Pinte, the MP for Versailles, said Britain should accept all the migrants in northern France and consider their asylum claims on British soil.

He said: “Why are the British rejecting them while at the same time they’re welcoming thousands of citizens from eastern Europe and in particular from Poland?

“They don’t want to stay in France. They have a common history with the British. Most of them speak English. They often have family members who emigrated to Great Britain at a time when being part of the Commonwealth entitled them to do so.

The EU migrants are let in because EU law insists that they should be let in. The asylum seekers are in France because asylum seekers don't have the right to go where they want. They have the right to claim shelter and succour from the first safe country they get to. Unless he's saying that France is not a safe place, the very fact that they are in France means that, as asylum seekers, France is the place they should seek asylum.

This isn't a matter of interpretation, or nuance, this is simply what the law is. And as Nigel points out, M. Pinte seems to simply not know what this law is.

MEPs new pay deal

This is something I find really quite disturbing:

Britain's army of Euro MPs are to see their pay soar by almost £20,000 under reforms intended to end the Brussels gravy train.

A deal due to take effect this year will see MEPs' salaries increase by around a third to £82,000, making them higher paid than Westminster MPs.

No, not really that bit. If people are going to take currency risks with their pay then there will be times when the rates move in their favour....and times when they move against them. Rather, it's these two bits.

Currently the 78 British MEPs are paid £63,291, the same as MPs. But from July they will be paid in euros which represents a bumper pay rise given the current strength of the European currency against sterling.

The wage hike at a time when thousands of jobs are being lost has outraged critics, who accuse MEPs of being out of touch with the grim economic reality faced by millions.

Under the deal, members of the European Parliament are also exempt from British tax and National Insurance and instead are charged a lower special EU tax of between 15 per cent and 17 per cent.

It isn't just that they will be paid in euros. It's that they will be paid by the European Parliament, not the Home Office. That's right, no longer will our representatives be paid by us. The second is that special tax rate. This will be the first time ever that our constituency representatives will face a different tax rate from constituents.

That, to me at least, is a very dangerous innovation, it's the beginning of the creation of a special privileged class.

Yes, OK, the Treasury says that it will introduce a new special tax rate to make up for this but again, that's the creation of a new special system, another set of privileges.

There's a much simpler solution. The Government can simply say that all MEPs will continue to be paid by the taxpayer, by the Home Office, and not the European Parliament. This power exists under the current regulations. And after all, the MEPs are our representatives to the Parliament, aren't they, they're not the Parliament's representatives to us. And if they're paid by the Home Office, as now, then they'll face the same tax system as us, as now.

And as Nigel says:

MEP Nigel Farage, leader of the UK Independence Party, said: 'I think MEPs should be paid the same as MPs.

'Given the current exchange rate, it is an outrage that MEPs face a massive pay increase. Voters will be very angry about this.'

And there are two ways to get a pay rise of course....get more money, or pay less of it in tax.

Friday, 9 January 2009

Oh Joy!

So we in the UK have to approve one of the most intrusive laws we've ever seen as a result of the EU telling us we must do so.

From March, ISPs will have to keep data about emails sent and received in the UK for a year in an EU-wide bid to tackle terrorism.

They would have to be able to provide the timing and number of communications from individuals, but not their content.

It follows a ruling last October that telecoms companies should keep records of phone calls and text messages for 12 months

About 57 billion text messages were sent in Britain last year, while an estimated three billion emails are sent every day.

Parliament approved the powers, described as a vital tool against terrorism, last July under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000.

The law is being implemented as part an EC directive, and the Government will reportedly have to pay the ISPs more than £25 million to ensure it is obeyed.

The whole idea is simply abhorrent under our system of law. We haven't, historically, allowed the State to take such powers for our basic belief is that yes, there are indeed things that we define as crimes but everything else is not just legal to do but our right to do if we should so wish.

It's simply no business of the government who we email or text. Only if we are charged with a crime can such records be accessed: that's how we've historically done things. That isn't, unfortunately, how it has historically been on the Continent. And we seem to be importing the worst parts of the continental relationship between the citizen and the State rather than exporting our own much better system.

Time we leace before that uniquely British system of freedom and liberty is entirely destroyed.

Spain and the euro

Yet more evidence that we really don't want to be in the several countries that are in it are finding out that they really don't want to be.

Spain lost almost 140,000 jobs in December, pushing unemployment to 3.1m or 13.4pc. The Labour Office said the country had shed a million in jobs in 2008 as the building boom collapsed. This is equivalent to 7m job losses in the United States.

The Labour Secretary Maravillas Rojo said she could not rule out a rise in unemployment to 4m this year. "We are in an unprecedented situation, and 2009 is going to be very difficult," she said.

Madrid now has its hands tied under the constraints of monetary union. It cannot slash interest rates or devalue, and it has already exhausted its scope for fiscal stimulus under the EU's Stability Pact.

There has to be flexibility in the economy: if you're not going to get it from interest rates and an exchange rate that suits local conditions, then you're going to have to get it the difficult way, through mass unemployment.

Better to have the interest rate and exchange rate flexibility, don't you think?

Europeanising the North Sea

Disturbing news from Brussels:

BRITAIN’S vital North Sea oil and gas supplies are to be taken over by Europe under emergency plans revealed for the first time in Brussels yesterday.

EU leaders are demanding control of British energy reserves to prevent power blackouts that have left millions of eastern Europeans without heat in Arctic weather due to the Russian gas blockade.

No, this isn't just some crazed idea (although it is crazed). This is something that they already have the power to do. Or at least, power they will have if the Lisbon Treaty finally gets ratified.

The transfer of ownership would be enacted under secret powers written into the controversial Lisbon Treaty. It gives Europe the legal power to take over individual states’ supplies to “ensure security of energy supply in the Union”.

Ultimate control over Britain’s vast natural gas and oil fields – by far the biggest resource within the EU – will fall to Brussels if the new treaty, which has already been ratified by Britain, is adopted throughout Europe.

Yup. They want what is ours.

Last night, however, there were calls for Britain to stand firm against the seizure of our oil and gas. UKIP leader Nigel Farage said: “Brussels has already stolen our fish. Now they want our oil and gas. These are vital resources to Britain and we demand that the British Government vetoes these proposals. This shows how vital it is that the UK holds a referendum on our future in the European Union.”

As Nigel says, they want to take the oil and gas just as they've taken the fish. And they've made a right pig's ear of the fisheries, haven't they?

Can we leave yet?

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Vaclav Klaus

Yes, I know, it's not often that we think that the President of the European Union has good ideas. However, the post has just been taken up by Vaclav Klaus of the Czech Republic. He's got a great piece in the Financial Times today.

Aggregate demand needs strengthening. One traditional way to do this is to increase government expenditures, probably in public infrastructure projects, on condition these are available. It would be much more helpful, however, to have a great reduction in all kinds of restrictions on private initiatives introduced in the last half a century during the era of the brave new world of the “social and ecological market economy”. The best thing to do now would be temporarily to weaken, if not repeal, various labour, environmental, social, health and other “standards”, because they block rational human activity more than anything else.

As regards the EU’s “constitutional” stalemate, the Czech government will – hopefully – not lead Europe to an ever-closer union, to a Europe of regions (instead of states), to a centralised, supranational Europe or to an increasingly controlled and regulated Europe masterminded from above. It will keep stressing its EU presidency slogan “Europe without barriers”, which means the advocacy of further liberalisation, removing trade barriers and getting rid of protectionism.

Our historical experience gives us a clear instruction: we always need more of markets and less of government intervention. We also know that government failure is more costly than market failure.

It's worth reading the whole thing. However, we do need to remember on huge caveat. That however hard we try we know that this isn't the way that the Project is going to develop. It just isn't going to be possible to negotiate from within, we need to leave so that we can build this desirable end point for ourselves: the EU is never going to become what we desire.

Raise the personal allowance

An interesting piece of news. Well, perhaps gossip is a better description. Gordon Brown is apparently mulling raising the personal allowance for income tax to £10,000.

Gordon Brown is considering raising the tax-free allowance to £10,000 as part of measures to help families struggling with the credit crunch, a close ally has claimed.

John McFall, chairman of the influential Commons Treasury committee, said he knows the move - which would effectively exempt millions of low-paid workers from income tax - is "in the Prime Minister's mind".

We at UKIP of course support such a move. For it's something which we've been arguing for some time, that the first and most basic thing we have to do with our income tax system is to stop taxing the working poor. Of course, we go further and argue that we need to simplify the system by having a flat tax as well. But at least we can see that the basic idea, that it is near insane to both tax and provide tax credits to the same people, is getting through.

It's also an interesting example of how things work in politics. When we first announced this policy, that the working poor should be taken out of the tax net altogether, it was considered to be near lunacy. Now, only a couple of short years later, it's become a mainstream idea. Even Polly Toynbee has been known to support it (yes, I know, that's not quite something we would use normally as a recommendation of an idea, Polly's support, but...) and now we've got one of the Prime Minister's close colleagues floating it as a trial balloon.

It may and does take time, but sensible ideas do tend to get picked up if only someone is brave enough to propose them in the first place.

Thursday, 1 January 2009

An excellent overview of the euro

Ambrose Evans Pritchard:

So the debate goes on. For defenders of sterling - and the Swedish and Norwegian crowns -- the precipitous slide against the euro over recent months is broadly a boon, unless you work in the travel industry, or ski a lot. It acts as a shock absorber at a crucial moment, helping to cushion the economy against debt deflation.

Export profits may hold up long enough to give a lifeline to UK manufacturing and service firms as banks shut off credit lines. It is the difference between survival and failure for thousands of healthy companies. This is what an independent currency is for. It preserved social stability in 1931 when Britain left the Gold Standard, and again in 1992 on leaving the ERM (from which the pound later roared back to a higher level, at the appropriate time).

That's certainly the view that I take. There has to be flexibility in an economy and it's a great deal better that this flexibility be in the exchange rate and interest rates than it is in nominal wages and prices. Because trying to get flexibility in nominal wages and prices is almost impossible.