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.