Monthly Archives: January 2013

Musical Interlude

For readers not interested in this series it is time to hit the delete button……

Having been utterly depressed with politics as a result of my previous post on the recent debate in the HoC on matters EU, I feel a change of topic is necessary consequently this musical interlude.

I have always been drawn to recordings of songs I know which are sung in a foreign language – there is something about the “mood” that it creates. As a result, initially two videos for consideration – Willie Nelson with Julio Iglesias and the latter with Nana Mouskouri:

Digressing, when considering noteworthy songs from my “era”, those by Roy Orbison must rank worthy of mention and one that is so is little known, as far as I am concerned in that it never seems to get mentioned where his “hits” are “listed”, is “California Blue”. Way back in the early 90′s I had a holiday on Minorca and visiting the various hotels that provided entertainment in the evenings was a group – whose name I forget – who sang this in Spanish. In searching Google for a version – which I was unable to find – I did come across an instrumental version by a German guitarist which I will save for another time; anyway, as they say: nothing beats the original:

As part of Orbison’s career he was instrumental (forgive the pun) in forming a group called the Travelling Wilburys and one of their most notable recordings was a fabulous jive track, namely “End Of The Line”. Sadly this video was filmed after Orbison’s passing and his presence in the group is portrayed by the guitar on the rocking chair:

 I can but trust those of my era enjoy this selction.

Poignant afterthought: On returning home from Minorca, I switched on the kettle and then the radio. At the time the music station of choice was Magic fm and the first record that was played was “California Blue”…..


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The “Europe” waste of time “debate”

Yesterday a debate, if it can be called that, took place on the vexed question of “Europe”, the content of which if described as vacuous would constitute the understatement of all time. For those interested, the Hansard record is here and the televised version here (starts 12:47).

For those of us who take an interest in politics the sub-mediocrity where the level of debate s concerned is amply demonstrated whereby the situation can occur allowing Andrea Leadsom rising to interrupt John Denham – but I digress. If one was looking for an example of MP’s inability to enthral their listeners then one only has to read the outpourings from Heaton-Harris (Col: 979).

Within the present system of democracy that is perpetrated on this country, Parliament is held to be sovereign and those elected to the House of Commons guardians of said sovereignty. To therefore read Michael Connarty (Col: 987-end) inform us that he sees no inconsistency with his job as an MP and his support for the European Union can but beggar belief.

Members of Parliament would have us believe that because of their superior intellect, decisions on matters EU are best left for them to resolve. That their superior intellect plummets the depths of ignorance is best illustrated by an interruption of Damian Collins by Martin Horwood (Col: 1005):

“Surely one of the most valuable things the EU can do to help business and trade is negotiate free trade agreements? If we were to withdraw from the European Union, would we be guaranteed the same terms with South Korea or north [sic] America? That would pose an enormous risk, would it not?”

Where knowledge is concerned I am reminded of an anonymous rhyme:

He who knows not, but knows not that he knows not, is a fool – shun him

He who knows not, but knows that he knows not, is simple – teach him

He who knows, but knows not that he knows, is asleep – wake him

He who knows, and knows that he knows, is a wise man – follow him

Where Horwood and the majority of those that inhabit Parliament are concerned, there is no need to proceed past line 1.

Where was mention of the Acquis and that repatriating powers was not therefore possible? Where was mention of Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty when discussing renegotiation? Where was mention of EFTA/EEA when discussing trade agreements

 And there was I believing that it was only on game shows that idiots get to make fools of themselves on camera.         


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More Norway news

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Following the post by Richard North, EUReferendum, on the subject of Norway possibly being the recipient of EU fines for non-implementation of 400 Directives comes further news that Norway is a tad unhappy about her relationship with the EU and that Stoltenberg’s coalition partners, often critical of both the EU and the EEA pact, had sparked speculation about a possible re-negotiation.

Norway’s anti-EU Center Party (Senterpartiet, SP) is firmly opposed both to EU-membership and the current EEA-agreement. Center Party leader Liv Signe Navarsete commented in December that she envisaged three alternatives; “Join the EU, change the EEA-agreeement or leave the EEA. The first is not an option.” This week, Navarsete had to concede that the latter two were not actual options either, allegedly after pressure from the prime minister.

Meanwhile, the government coalition’s third partner, the Socialist Left party (Sosialistisk Venstreparti, SV), has not directly called for re-negotiation but also has made critical comments about the EEA pact that sparked speculation. It clarified its stand this week as well, by stating that “we wish to rule on the same foreign policy  platform we have today where we are a member of the EEA, not the EU.”

It will be noted that neither has Henning Olaussen, head of the major anti-EU organization in Norway, “No to the EU” (Nei til EU) been backward in coming forward in order to “stir the pot”.

Stoltenberg and Cameron met last year – no doubt, among other matters, to compare notes on the delights of coalition government.

Afterthought: As with the Swiss/EU “spat” over the use of bi-lateral agreements, so too is the Norway/EU “spat” starting to bubble nicely. Now, were did we all put our cauldrons and witches uniforms?


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Who is this “We”, Cameron & Lidington

Stubbornness does have its helpful features.  You always know what you are going to be thinking tomorrow.”

Glen Beaman

Just over a year ago Richard North, EUReferendum, posed the question: “Who’s this “We”, Cameron” in relation to a question asked during Prime Minister’s Questions on the subject of Coastguard closures.

Lo and behold, today during the same event, namely PMQs, came not one but two more questions on the same subject, this time from Adrian Sanders (12:07) and Richard Drax (13:41):

Although the word “We” was changed to “This government’s” and “Our”, the implication and misinformation remain the same.

There was also today a debate in the House of Commons about “Europe” in which David Lidington also made use of the word “We” in a slightly misleading context (18:52) in which he implied that “We” had just concluded trade agreements with Singapore and South Korea and were about to conclude one with the United States of America. What he did not make clear is that said trade agreements were – and are about to be – made by the European Union acting on behalf of the Member States and to which said Member States will now be bound.

When one considers the UK’s relationship with the European Union, coupled with calls to re-think how politics is done in the UK, one can only quote Judge Judy:

“The time to change was yesterday. The time to wake-up is now.”


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British Influence

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The Centre for British Influence fires their starting gun tonight in front of an audience of 200 people from the worlds of politics, the media, business, diplomacy, trade unions and think tanks with the intention, so they inform us, of bringing back sense to the debate of Britain’s future in Europe.

According to this organization many British people think their country is powerless in Europe, a belief that is dismissed as being fundamentally wrong and unpatriotic. Really? Perhaps the Centre for British Influence can demonstrate just where that power lies and with whom? Is it not unpatriotic to cede the right to make legislation, to cede sovereignty, to a foreign body?

The Centre for British Influence believes that it occupies the centre-ground (ah, the beloved centre-ground, somewhere now so crowded it is a surprise there is any room left) yet where a nation’s sovereignty is concerned there can be no centre-ground – a nation either has it or it hasn’t. It is, therefore, on the matter of sovereignty that the entire question of the UK’s membership of the European Union rests. Has not that sovereignty over the last four decades been eaten away, piece by piece, by the actions of the European Union in pursuit of “ever closer union”?

Update: Courtesy of cosmic in the comments the following link is worth reading as it contains some pertinent questions raised by Lee Rotherham:

http://conservativehome.blogs.com/platform/2013/01/dr-lee-rotherham.html


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Switzerland/EU Relations

One month after the European Union informed Switzerland that the bi-lateral procedure had reached a “dead-end”, a meeting took place on Tuesday last involving exploratory talks lasting six hours between Swiss State Secretary Yves Rossier and David O’Sullivan, the Chief Operating Officer of the EU’s diplomatic corps, the European External Action Service.

While details of the content of these talks  are not known it is known that the EU is not only demanding Switzerland adopt EU law but also wants joint supervisory bodies and jurisdiction over the implementation of the bilateral accords. Knowing that the Swiss guard the matter of their sovereignty as one of great importance it would be logical to assume that the Swiss people may have something to say about whatever “agreement” is finally reached by their politicians and those of the EU.

It is worth remembering that some matters are automatically subject to a referendum and others can be instigated by the people.

Article 140 (Compulsory referendum): (1) The following shall be submitted to the vote of the People and the Cantons: a. Revisions of the Federal Constitution; b. The entry into organizations for collective security or into supranational communities; c. Federal Statutes declared urgent which have no constitutional basis and whose validity exceeds one year; such Federal Statutes must be submitted to the vote within one year after their adoption by the Federal Parliament. (2) The following shall be submitted to the vote of the People: a. Popular initiatives for total revision of the Federal Constitution; b. Popular initiatives for partial revision of the Federal Constitution in the form of a general suggestion which were rejected by the Federal Parliament; c. The question whether a total revision of the Constitution should be carried out if both Chambers disagree.

When an issue is presented to both the people (national level) and the “Stände” (cantons) for decision in a referendum, both an absolute majority of the valid votes cast and a majority of the cantons must be in favour. When a referendum is put only to the people, an absolute majority of the valid votes cast decides the issue; in this case, the cantons do not all carry the same weight. For historical reasons, six out of the total of 26 Swiss cantons (Obwalden, Nidwalden, Basel-Stadt (the city of Basle), Basel-Land (the area surrounding Basle), Appenzell Ausserrhoden and Appenzell Innerrhoden) carry only “half-weight.”

c. Optional Referendum

Article 141 (Optional Referendum): (1) The following are submitted to the vote of the People at the request of 50,000 citizens entitled to vote, or of eight Cantons: a. Federal Statutes; b. Federal Statutes declared urgent with a validity exceeding one year; c. Federal decrees to the extent the Constitution or statute foresees this; d. International treaties which: 1. are of unlimited duration and may not be terminated; 2. provide for entry into an international organization; 3. involve a multilateral unification of law. (2) The Federal Parliament may submit further international treaties to optional referendum.

With the news yesterday that Switzerland was in dicussion with Norway about  seeking help to avoid being forced into the EEA agreement, the talks twixt the Swiss and the EU is one to follow with the utmost interest, methinks.


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This “multi-culti” thingy

As a policy that is supposed to overcome and negate racism, that of multiculturalism sure has succeeded, has it not?

“I feel like a stranger where I live” – As new figures show ‘white flight’ from cities is rising, one Londoner writes a provocative personal piece about how immigration has drastically changed the borough were she has lived for 17 years”

Source

 

That someone, who would be categorized as “White British”, should write an article complaining about the change that has taken place in the neighbourhood in which she has lived for 17 years; and then have the word “provocative” attached to her views purely because they are critical of the change that she sees, really does show that this “multi-culti” thingy has been the success for which our political class hoped. That a newspaper, one once held to be a “great” newspaper and thus a bastion of British journalism, is the one to apply the word “provocative” to the article in question can but show the nadir to which greatness can sink.

No doubt those advocates of this “multi-culti” thingy will be “over the moon” at the success of their project – as will those of the electorate who, by keeping silent about the change wrought by the political class to their nation, have condoned said change by their silence tribal voting patterns.

Just saying………..


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Half-arsed proposals from half-arsed politicians

The Political and Constitutional Reform Committee today published a report, the result of a process announced on 1st November 2010 which calls for more autonomy and fiscal powers for local government in England. Making the point that the relationship between central and local government is skewed in favour of the centre, the Select Committee attempts to lay out steps to what would be a radical modernisation of the relationship between local and central government, replacing subservience with what they term a partnership of equals. The aim of the Select Committee’s proposals is, they maintain, to break the suffocating micromanagement of Whitehall by separating local government from the central government and to define local government’s rights, powers and independence in a Statutory Code. This Code, they suggest, would itself be uniquely protected from easy repeal by being entrenched in the 1911 Parliament Act. (The Draft Code can be accessed from this page, opening as a pdf document).

While being extremely generous with praise that the Select Committee have considered the subservient state of local government, one can only condemn said Committee for producing what can surely be called a half-arsed collection of recommendations that devolve about as much power as has the Localism Act. For example among their recommendations it is proposed that central government should donate a share of income tax to local authorities while allowing said authorities to raise further revenue by means of additional taxation – the latter only with the consent of their electorates. The recommendations also call for the Government to examine the possibilities of a stronger constitutional status for local government, through an entrenched statutory code, or a similar proposal.

This report offers only yet more tinkering with our system of democracy, a system that is no longer fit for purpose and one which by means of its core principle does not allow for devolution of squat-diddley. What is needed here is a complete rethink about the subject of democracy per se – to whom does a country belong and therefore to whom does power belong; coupled with the further question: for what areas should national and local government be responsible.

Of course talk about devolution of power is, strictly speaking, incorrect – it should be termed the return of power, the return to those from whom it was usurped by the political class. If there is to be a discussion about democracy and how our country should progress – and boy, do we need such a discussion – then it is necessary to take guidance from The Harrogate Agenda and its 6 Demands.

When the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee talk about local government’s rights, powers and independence being entrenched in a Statutory Code or some other means, it has to be by “some other means”. That entails local authorities becoming constitutional entities, their existence, powers and revenue-raising capabilities being defined by the people via the medium of a constitution, approved by the people in a referendum. This would also encapsulate the idea of “Referism” whereby rather than inform those who provide the funding how much funds they intend taking, local authorities would have to present a budget – accompanied by the word “please” – for approval by those doing the funding.

Where this report from the Political and Constitution Reform Committee is concerned it can but demonstrate that where you have half-arsed politicians one can only expect them to produce half-arsed proposals.

 


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A Non-EU Alliance

The Foreigner, a Norwegian newspaper published in English, is reporting that Heming Olaussen, leader of the “No to the EU” organization is calling for a new alliance between Switzerland, Norway and the UK, should the latter vote to cease their EU membership. “We need to sit down with Switzerland and the UK and find out what we can achieve together”; while believing that such a tri-nation alliance would provide better bargaining conditions with the EU.

Following the recent report that the EU was insisting bi-lateral agreements had “run their course”, we now read that Switzerland has approached Norway for help in avoiding being forced into the EEA agreement.

Interesting times indeed.


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A verbal “ding-dong”

From Russia Today a discussion on the possible exit of the UK from the EU involving Tony Halpin (The Times), Georgios Chatzimarkakis (MEP) and Robert Oulds (Bruges Group). The discussion becomes rather heated from 9:55 when the subject of “influence” is raised.

Poor Robert Oulds must have come away with the mother of all headaches from continually banging his head against a brick wall!


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