Monthly Archives: October 2012

EU Budget Debate

So the Government suffered a defeat, 307 votes to 294. As I wish to wait for Hansard and the voting lists I do not intend commenting further, other than to say the level of hyprocrisy shown by MPs with their offerings to the debate was staggering!

More tomorrow morning!

Afterthought, I thought the ‘speech of the night’ should be awarded to Kate Hoey.


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Call that a ‘Waugh’ Room?

Paul Waugh, in a post in what he calls his Waugh Room, on Politics Home, attempts to pour scorn on David Heath, Defra Minister for intimating the Queen herself had told Parliament that her Government would introduce draft legislation for a ban on circus animals.

As Richard North, EU Referendum, points out – in which he very kindly links to an article from me on this subject – there is an ‘elephant in the room’. Consequently it matters not whether the Queen did, or did not, say her Government would introduce draft legislation for a ban on circus animals.

There really is not much point in having a ‘Waugh Room’ if, on the ‘plot’, you have a major combatant missing or, even worse, lose the plot.

Just saying…………

Afterthought:  As Richard North notes today: “But, since the legacy media, in all its arrogance, believes news to be only that which it deems necessary to tell us, that is no great loss. As always, we have to look beyond the headlines to find out what is really going on.”


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2012
10/30

Category:
David's Musings

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COMMENTS:
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Political logic

Michael Heseltine, he always in need of a haircut, is later this week due to ‘lord’ it over us with his suggestions, contained so we are told in what will be an 80 page report, to boost economic growth in Britain. Eamonn Butler of the Adam Smith Institute has passed comment here – contained in which is a phrase which seems to describe just about every policy that has come from the present – and past – administrations.

“The policy is like quietly drawing water out of one side of lake, taking it round to the other side (spilling some on the way), and throwing it in with great fanfare, crowing about how much you are raising the level.”

Politicians have thinking processes capable of causing far more damage than an arsenal of nuclear weapons, which can only further the belief that there should be far more unemployed politicians.

Just saying………


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2012
10/30

Category:
David's Musings

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COMMENTS:
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That same old song

We all know what it is like when a tune is ‘stuck in our head’ and we can’t recall the title, subsequently frantically searching for the CD. Well;

Following the publication by Greek weekly Hot Doc of the so-called “Lagarde List”, which gives the names of more than 2,000 Greek tax evaders, former Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou is under pressure to explain why he did not forward it to the courts after Christine Lagarde, then French Minister of Economy, sent it to him on a CD.

Ilias Makris (b. 1956) became an illustrator after studying painting and sculpture in Germany. He has worked for various publications, including To Vima and To Ethnos. He is now the star cartoonist for the Greek daily Kathimerini.

Ack Presseurop.


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Some things never change

There is much in the media, of late, about this country’s membership of the European Union and, in particular, to the decisions that Cameron will need to take in the immediate and not too distant future.

In a speech given at Bournemouth on 30th August 1980, at a public meeting in the Wessex Hotel, Enoch Powell stated:

“The Conservative Government puts on from time to time the verbal trimmings of a patriotic vocabulary; but it spares no opportunity to commit itself, if possible more deeply than ever, to that view of the European Community………”

Some things never change.

It is also often said that history repeats itself. With regard to similarities of the General Election of 2010, the Conservative Party and what is now the EU, in that same speech Powell said:

“The general election of 1970, which created what historians may well dub the Suicidal Parliament, did not return a majority for joining the European Community. The utmost care was taken to exclude that question from the election by both the major political parties, but particularly by the party which returned with a majority of seats.”

Some things never change.

Ending this speech he said:

“I allowed myself earlier to castigate the politicians and the political parties who have lent themselves to be the instruments of destroying their own country’s political independence and constitutional inheritance; but they have this to say, and validly in their defence, that they were allowed to do so and that those of them who put party or self before the nation suffered no noticeable retribution at the people’s hands. In the last analysis it is not the parties and the politicians who have been on trial, but the nation; and the nation, if such it still is, has so far failed that trial. The British are accustomed to hearing hard things said about them. In fact, they apparently enjoy saying hard things about themselves. But their worst fault is the one least spoken of: they do not care. What cruel irony that of all the nations of the world it should be the British who do not care if they are one or not.”

Some things never change.

When making his infamous “Rivers of Blood” speech, Powell quoted what a constituent of his said; namely, that in 15 to 20 years time the black man will have the whip hand over the white man. While it has to be remembered that at the time of this speech Powell was talking about the influx of Commonwealth immigrants, future political actions which Powell did not foresee have added to the belief of his constituent. No-one could have foretold that a political party would allow unlimited immigration for electoral gain; no-one could have foretold the effects of what we now know to be equality and human rights would have on the status of any immigrant.

In the ending to the speech referred to above Powell blames the electorate for permitting that which had unfolded; something he did in his “Rivers of Blood” speech in which he said that those whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make mad and therefore we must be mad, literally mad, as a nation to be permitting the annual inflow of immigrants; continuing that it is like watching a nation busily engaged in heaping up its own funeral pyre.

Returning to the penultimate extract from his Bournemouth speech, Powell continued:

“The then Prime Minister, who had stipulated “full-hearted consent of Parliament and people” as indispensable, carried the Second Reading of the European Communities Bill, by which Parliament solemnly and comprehensively renounced its  sovereign independence, by eight votes. Even that he achieved only by the ultimate resort of threatening dissolution in the event of defeat. There was no majority for the Bill in that
House of Commons. It got its Second Reading because more than half the Conservative Members who had voted against the principle of membership the previous October put party and personal interest before the independence of their country. Even then a Bill, of which every clause was an abdication of the fundamental rights and historic powers of the House of Commons, would not have become law without the use of a guillotine passel by a majority of no more than eleven votes………But the Foreign Secretary, a certain James Callaghan, after presenting the Community with those terms (of which he had, incidentally, himself been a trenchant advocate), was within a month turned right round through 180 degrees by his officials, and-announced that Britain sought nothing which would involve any alteration of the accession treaty or the 1972 Act. After a sham re-nenegotiation, Harold Wilson came down in favour of the status quo and of a Yes vote in the subsequent Referendum.”

“It got its Second Reading because more than half the Conservative Members who had voted against the principle of membership the previous October put party and personal interest before the independence of their country.”

Some things never change.

What the foregoing shows is that where ‘matters Europe’ are concerned, every Prime Minister since Heath (some may say Macmillan) are guilty of lying, misleading and using procedural ploys to retain their hold on power. (in the case of Blair – not that I am a ‘conspiracy theorist – some may believe that his decision to give up some of our rebate may have been due to ‘a nod and a wink’, from the EU elite at that time, that the position van Rompuy now occupies would be his for the asking; and then promptly ‘knifed him in the back. Which just goes to prove that, even with the simplest of tasks, the EU is unable to get the job done properly – but I digress.)

It is not just ‘matters Europe’ where politicians have lied and misled the people of this country – think war, think immigration, think expenses, think manifestos. Enoch Powell was perhaps a tad unfair to blame the people of this country for being uncaring because do not politicians have a history of distracting the attention of the public by the placement of what might be termed ‘red-herring’ matters – think salmonella, think second-hand smoke, think BSE, think domestic waste collection.

It is to negate the practise of moulding public opinion, of which politicians have become expert practitioners for their own ends, but also to promote the ability of the public, who can and should, think for themselves, that the Harrogate Agenda was conceived – thus addressing the democratic deficit that presently exists.

 It is often lamented, when considering the intellectual ability of those currently in the HoC, that we no longer have politicians of Powell’s intellect. While his views on parliamentary democracy are at variance with not only mine but others – oh what debate could there have been had!

Afterthought: When considering any of our present political class, especially those members of the last – and present – administration, come the 2015 election why the hell  hand the keys back to the guys who drove the car into the ditch?

 

 


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Friday Farce

On Friday last the second reading of Douglas Carswell’s European Communities Act 1972 (Repeal) Bill took place. The Hansard account can be read here and/or viewed here (starts 13:55). It is worth noting that at the point the debate began there were less than 20 members of parliament present, coupled with the mere half-hour that had been allotted.

I find it curious that someone who purports to believe in direct democracy can still bleat that democracy has suffered because public policy decisions can no longer be made by those vulnerable to the electorate – namely him. Carswell also proclaims that “a simple Act of Parliament can get us out” – if only. The reason that Carswell’s statement is untrue has been covered both here and by Richard North on his blog to such an extent that I can’t be bothered repeating it.

John Spellar and Edward Leigh both made mention of the referendum held in 1975 by the then Labour Government under Harold Wilson, yet neither felt able to mention that that referendum was skewed – some would say ‘fixed”.

David Lidington was his usual disingenuous self, especially on the amount of trade with the EU (Amsterdam/Rotterdam effect). Assuming one accepts Carswell’s stats, then Lidington is indeed in cloud cuckoo land to then proclaim membership is in our national interest.

Where the word ‘farce’ is concerned, this debate was on a par with another farce – one that takes place at midday each Wednesday when the HoC  is in session – and served much the same purpose.

 


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After Ian Parker-Joseph’s question – another one

On a number of occasions I have referred to a question posed by Ian Parker-Joseph in which he asked:

“If you don’t believe that Britain is governed totally by political rules, regulations, orders and diktats, please name me 6 everyday activities, yes, just six, that you undertake that does not require a. permission, b. licence, c. regulated action, d. regulated packaging, materials, ingredients, tools etc; i.e. 6 activities that never touch the state or a regulator.”

and one to which he still awaits a correct answer.

Let me pose you another:

Where, in any political party manifesto (which includes that of Ukip), is the point made that they (the political parties) will implement that which the people want? Where in any political party manifesto are we, the people, asked what we want? Does not every manifesto tell us – in the most general of terms – what we would be ‘allowed’? Does that not illustrate that we do, indeed, live in a one-party-state?

Is not all that what this is designed to stop?

Talking of Russia, Winston Churchill said that it was a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. Where our political class are concerned, is not that how they present to us the subject of democracy?

Just asking……….

 


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Reforming the unreformable

That headline is the same as that in the Financial Times to a book review about Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s account of her first stint leading efforts to right the capsized wreck Nigeria had become by 2003, when she was appointed finance minister.

As a piece of journalistic licence (and we all know the media like nothing better than a good headline even if it is gibberish) just how does one reform the unreformable? One doesn’t – one starts from scratch and designs something new*. The question also has to be asked of the FT of why they consider a book review on Nigeria worthy of writing when there is a capsized wreck of a country right under their noses worthy of an in-depth article – that’s right: the UK.

Consider:

  • For all the talk of three years ago, the cost of MPs is virtually at the same level as it then was.
  • Why are questions being raised about MP’s overseas fact-finding trips being raised when Speaker Bercow made a pledge to reduce spending on overseas visits.?
  • Do we not have a scandal about the actions of children’s social workers that is not only an affront to justice, but to the standards of any decent society?
  • Is there not a deficit in our democracy where the position of a Prime Minister, or any Cabinet member, Minister of State, or PPS is unable to hold the government to account on behalf of his/her constituents?
  • Is there not a deficit in our democracy when it is acknowledged by a politician that the first rule of politics is to survive?
  • Is a country not rotten when their politicians lie to them and do not tell the truth?
  • Has not a country capsized when the political class have managed to instigate a system of democracy wherein the people are never asked what they want, but are told what they can have

*The examples above are but the tip of the iceberg that has turned this country into the capsized wreck it has become – and if we need therefore to design something new, then how about this template?

As our cousins across the water are prone to say – go figure!


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Council Tax ‘scandal’

It may be recalled that I have had an ‘on-going’ dispute‘ with my local authority where the subject of waste collection is concerned. Having issued the ‘challenge’ I have to own up to ‘capitulation’ in that I paid up – at which point the phrase “all mouth, no trousers” could well be levied at me. However, as is said, there lies more behind a headline than at first sight may appear.

Other than the deductions I had made – two last year, in July and August and two this year, in April and May – at the time of receipt of the Summons I was not in deficit where monthly payments were concerned. Admittedly I had, though an oversight, failed to make the monthly payment for September this year, however this error was corrected on 2nd October and the payment for October made on 19th.

The Summons – dated 2nd October and received on 3rd, ‘demanded’ payment of arrears which amounted to the £20 and payment for the remaining months, September to January 2013, plus Court Fees of £60. When I queried on what basis were said Court Fees calculated and how I could be liable for a charge that, until a Court Ruling had been made, cannot exist – on the basis that were I to ‘win’ I could not then be liable for their costs – the reply received stated that: “costs are agreed by the Magistrate’s Court  and take into consideration all administration costs in managing a Council Tax Account, two senior officer’s time in attending court and their travel costs”. This prompted another question from me to the effect that were I to ‘settle’, why should I be liable for costs that would not have been incurred. A question to which no answer was forthcoming, other than I must pay.

A further topic of what turned out to be an extensive email exchange of views centred on the question of why anyone should pay for a service they have not received  and the fact that my local authority had conceded – in other emails – that waste collection had not been made. Citation was made to a Court of Appeal ruling (21st May 1999; Leeds City Council v Spencer – Court of Appeal [Lord Justice Evans and Lord Justic Brooke] 6 May 1999) that a local authority could not avoid its public law duty imposed by the Environmental Protection Act 1990 to collect household waste; to which answer was there none.

That met with the response that: “Council Tax is a charge that also helps to provide other services within the district such as housing, leisure, planning and tourism” – which has prompted an FOI request asking for a ‘breakdown’ of what funding each of those items, plus waste collection, receives from the total sum of Council Tax receipts. I was also informed in an subsequent email that Council Tax is, as with all taxes, not a voluntary payment but an ‘enforced contribution’ where failure to pay is punishable by law” – “Referism” anyone? (The use of the words “enforced contribution”, used conjoining, did cause I a certain degree of amusement – but I digress). On the subject of ‘apportionment’ of Council Tax, the offer was made that had I ‘over-deducted’ my stoppages I would, of course, make up any ‘shortfall’, however if I had ‘under-deducted’………….

It was obvious that the failure to meet September’s “due payment date” is what caused the Summons to be issued (are a local authority really going to issue a summons for £20?) so I then posed the question that if the summons had been issued because of my failure to pay by the September due date, why had a summons not been issued for April, May and June of this year when my payments had not been made until the 7th, 10th and 2nd respectively? (By way of explanation, the “due date” is the 1st of each month).

That brought forth the response that: “I agree you were late making your payments for Council Tax in the previous months and that these late payments were addressed by reminder notices being issued to you”. This statement is stretching the facts, or being economical with the actualité, in that the reminder notices issued had nothing to do with the months in question, but referred, on each occasion, to the matter of the withheld payments. Of course my local authority forgot to mention that as they made a gigantic, administrative, cock-up, which resulted in Council Tax demands not being sent out in time for anyone to meet the April “due date”, no-one did. As a result of that, in answer to my question why no summons had been issued for the months of April, May and June 2012 — bearing in mind I had not met the “due dates” – answer was there none, other than a repeat of the mantra “I must pay”.

Another ‘bone of contention: At any hearing, if a defendant is found ‘liable’, a Liability Order is made and one which incurs the further cost of £38. Having paid the ‘demanded’ amount of £152 at 22:00 last night (£20 withheld, payments for November, December and January [£24 per month] plus £60 Court costs), on checking this morning that the account was ‘considered cleared’, I find that the outstanding debt had risen to £190 – in other words the cost of the Liability Order had been added.

When I promptly emailed my Local Authority (West Oxfordshire District Council) querying how something that, again, could not logically be considered a debt prior to it being imposed by a ruling of the Court I was advised the Liability Order had been “held in abeyance” pending clearance of my payment – and that it had been ‘removed from my account’.  I promptly replied that having made the payment, between the time of ‘logging-off’ their website and then immediately ‘logging-on’ to my bank account I found the funds had ‘left my account’.  I also pointed out to them that as they had issued a receipt (reference number noted) acknowledging receipt of said payment, why was ‘clearance of funds’ a consideration. Having checked with my bank they confirmed that once a ‘call’ was made on funds, by means of card payment, providing the account held the required funds, said funds were immediately ‘dispatched’ and would always be in the recipient’s account within a maximum of 2 hours.

In that last email I also requested on what basis had the cost of the Liability  Order been added to my account and who was the person responsible for that decision, referring to an email which assured me that were payment of £152 to be made then no Liability Order would be applied for and for which I would – and could not – be liable. Despite two emails this afternoon, again I still await a response.

To turn to the question why I ‘succumbed’ and ‘paid up’. As a state pensioner I make it a rule to exist on that income – in other words, if I haven’t the money for something I ‘go without’. I pointed out to the Council that, after paying my rent, electricity and other ‘household bills’ I was left with circa £200 for food, clothing and – if anything was ‘left-over’ – my leisure pursuits. Having agreed to pay the required sum of £152, I left them to work out where the cost of 3 weeks food was coming from (the fact I have a ‘freezer-full’ is neither here nor there).

It is also necessary to consider, when taking the decision to fight such a case as this, the possible costs that may be involved/accrue.  Of immediate consideration is that of the liability order – one then has to take into account any Bailiff costs – something that Richard North, EUReferendum has written about quite extensively – which can amount to horrendous amounts. It is also necessary to consider my Mother and my weekly visits and that, should I be incarcerated, the effect that would have on her bearing in mind her age (100) and her mental and physical state of health.

It has to be admitted that, in my correspondence with the official of West Oxfordshire District Council, matters may not have been helped by my pointing out that it was becoming plain the lack of an understanding of logic, coupled with any understanding of the English Language, was obviously no bar to gaining employment with said council and that no doubt, in common with every other public sector worker, my correspondent wondered, on a daily basis, why public sector workers were held in such disdain by those they were meant to serve – and that they should wonder no longer as it had just been most admirably illustrated.

There is an upside to all this and that is – as with the question of our democracy – where progression of my case is concerned, there is “another way”. It is surprising what research can ‘throw-up’ – and as I advised my correspondent the fact I have paid the ‘demand’ is not the end of the matter. In the words of Arnie, I took the liberty of forewarning them: “I’ll be back”.

 


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Now there’s art, journalism & literature – and then there’s ‘cover-up’

Back in September I posted an article relating to what, or what not, was said by David Cameron in a BBC interview with James Landale – and followed this in the next article with copies of an email to him and an FOI request that had been submitted to the BBC.

David Cameron responded and, as I suspected he would, provided a transcript of the ‘edited’ version of the news that appeared on iPlayer:

(click to enlarge)

I have also today received the response by the BBC to my FOI request:

RFI20121015 – Final Response

(due to the vagaries of WordPress, please click this link which will open in a new page and then click that link to view the pdf)

You will note, from the BBC response, the following:

“The information you have requested is excluded from the Act because it is held for the purposes of ‘journalism, art or literature.’ The BBC is therefore not obliged to provide this information to you and will not be doing so on this occasion. Part VI of Schedule 1 to FOIA provides that information held by the BBC and the other public service broadcasters is only covered by the Act if it is held for ‘purposes other than those of journalism, art or literature”. The BBC is not required to supply information held for the purposes of creating the BBC’s output or information that supports and is closely associated with these creative activities.”

Where the BBC is concerned, my view is that FOI requests only extend to the parts of the BBC which spend your money, and how they spend it. It does not extend to editorial decisions on news items, thereby supposedly allowing editors to remain free from political control. The way the FOI Act is written however allows political pressure to be applied, in the background, without the BBC ever having to disclose it. Albeit only my opinion, however it leads me to believe that what exists now is what may be termed ‘covert censorship’.

Just saying……….


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