Category Archive: David’s Musings

Myths to the left, myths to the right

If we consider Cameron is of the right (I know, I know) and Barroso is of the left, then we are indeed assailed on all sides by myths – and for myths read crap.

We have Cameron stating that he intends imposing a cap on immigration from the EU incorporating a points based system and Barroso (on Marr – starts @45:35) stating that that would infringe the free movement of people, but then maintaining that the UK needs to be ‘in’ the EU in order to have any influence in the EU.

We then have Farage being quoted as ‘thanking Barroso for making it crystal clear that free movement of people is a non negotiable part of membership of the EU – well thanks a bundle, Nigel, but those of us who had any understanding of this subject hardly needed Barroso to confirm that – and neither should Farage if he had the slightest knowledge of the subject.

When you then have ‘idiot’ Members of Parliament telling us that control of our borders should be a ‘red-line’ issue in any renegotiation of our membership of the UK, then one can only hold one’s head in one’s hands in despair. Total despair then comes to the fore when it is realised that Members of Parliament are those who are supposed to be so knowledgeable that they thus are in a position whereby they hold the future of our nation in their hands.

Cameron is ‘all mouth and no trousers’ at the moment as he will do and say whatever is necessary to win Rochester, even if it means resorting to what he knows best, namely lying to the electorate – and Barroso; well Barroso will shortly be ‘yesterday’s man’, when Juncker assumes office, so why should he, too, change the habit of of a lifetime? In the Guardian Carswell summarises Cameron’s plan as follows:

It’s a smoke-and-mirrors referendum. His advisers told me the plan; it’s to work out from focus groups and pollsters what it would take to get the soft ‘outers’ and the undecideds to stay in, to offer them that, and once that hurdle is cleared to stick with the status quo.

Then of course we suffer the ignominy of being forced to watch, on our television screens, the Prime Minister of this country being informed, quite blatantly, by some Portuguese Popinjay what he can and cannot do. The myth that the United Kingdom would not have any influence and could not negotiate with other countries has been laid to rest elsewhere – and you can bet your last penny on the fact that this will be echoed loudly by those wishing to remain in the European Union.

Carswell may well believe that Cameron’s plan is smoke and mirrors – personally I believe it more like the pea-souper fogs we used to get back in the 50s where you could not see a hand held 12 inches in front of your face.

 


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That’s another fine mess you’ve got me into*

Open Europe has an article relating to the intended judicial review that it is reported Jacob Rees-Mogg and Stuart Wheeler intend to pursue. In this article they refer to a legal opinion and quote part thereof in relation to the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) and the European Public Prosecutors Office (EPPO)

In March this year I emailed Europa House, London (Representation of the European Commission in the UK), on a separate matter, namely that of fraud and the EPPO:

Dear Mr. Lamb,

It is the stated intention of the UK Government to opt out of the EPPO.
As part of the EPPO ‘set-up’ it is incumbent on Member States opting in to provide a designated European Prosecutor who would carry out fraud investigations and prosecutions in each Member States aided by a team of national staff, with each Member State presumably being liable to fund those personnel, their offices and their activities. It is also noted that national law will apply where punishment is concerned.
Bearing in mind any UK firm using EU money (for example an engineering company which secures a contract on an EU-funded infrastructure project, an agricultural  business in receipt of EU subsidy, or any consultancy or university engaged in research projects) is liable to undergo such an investigation.
When the UK has opted out, what legal basis and/or obligation is there for the UK to accept a fraud investigation carried out by a body of which it is not a member, conducting a process to which, by nature of its opt out,it is not a signatory?
When the UK has opted out, who provides and funds a designated European Prosecutor, their offices,his/her staff and their activities for the UK?
Thanking you in anticipation of your response,

David Phipps

The following response was received:

Dear Mr Phipps,

I put your questions to the colleagues who are familiar with the Commission’s proposal  on the EPPO, and they provided the following responses:

 Answer to Q1:  A firm located in UK and misusing EU-funds would not be subject to an EPPO-investigation, as the UK will not participate in the EPPO. For the UK, with the establishment of the EPPO, the current arrangements would continue to apply – i.e. the firm located in the UK would be subject to investigations by the UK national authorities and – as the case may be – OLAF. A domestic UK criminal investigation may arise as result of OLAF’s recommendations or the EPPO’s request for cooperation.

 Answer to Q2:  As the UK has opted out there would be no EPPO structures in UK and no UK-related activities of the EPPO which would need to be funded.

 Best regards 

Jeff Lamb

Research Assistant 
Political Section 
Representation of the European Commission in the UK

Perhaps it is time for a little game of ‘if’. If the Coalition is defeated in Parliament and thus decides not to proceed with its intention to opt back into 35 areas of EU Crime and Policing laws; and that we maintain our ‘opt out’ from the EPPO,  just what ‘jurisdiction’ will the EPPO have in relation to the UK? If we do not participate. or thus accept the authority of the European Court of Justice then  the EPPO,  where any decisions, statements, requests etc that may come from that source, can have no effect on – or ‘force’ within – the UK. In other words, that well-known response of the British – Foxtrot Oscar – can be given.

Unfortunately were the government of the day to ignore the will of Parliament and exercise their prerogative - and thus override the will of Parliament – and decide to opt back-in to these 35 measures then the opinion of M’Learned Friends is quite correct – ie we would be legally bound to acknowledge said requests from an EPPO of a member state where an EAW is concerned; even though that would require the acknowledgement of the existence of an Office out of which we had opted.

(And don’t let us digress into the question about a legislature being overruled by an executive because that then leads into the question of a debate about democracy,  separation of powers and what I have termed ‘democratised dictatorship’).

From the above it becomes obvious that, were the second scenario to happen, any UK involvement by the forces of law and order would incur costs. But we were assured, were we not, that as the UK has opted out of the EPPO there would be no UK-related activities of the EPPO which would need to be funded.

And the political class have not landed us – or possibly our elected dictatorship – may well land us in another fine mess?

But it is not just our real government that is telling us one thing, but delivering another – witness Theresa May. The following email has been received – and no doubt received by many others:

People who work hard and do the right thing deserve to feel safe in their homes and in their communities.

Under Labour, that wasn’t the case. Police officers were wrapped in red tape, unable to do their job – and people didn’t feel safe on the streets.

So since the last election, we’ve been working through our action plan to tackle crime:freeing the police to do their job, giving them the powers they need, and protecting communities with tougher sentences for criminals.

And our plan is working, with crime down by more than a fifth since the election:

Graphic - safer, more secure communities

But we need to keep going – and we need everyone to get behind our plan. So please add your name today to show you’re backing our plan.

With your support, we can keep making our streets and our communities safer. So please sign your name today:

Button - I'll back the plan to tackle crime

Thanks,

Theresa May
Home Secretary

What we are being asked to sign up to is, by inference, opting back into the 35 measures on EU Crime and Policing because what is missing from this email is her statement to the House of Commons in which she said that the  question is whether we believe we need these measures in order to be able to keep the public safe and ensure people are brought to justice or not. We may (no pun intended) believe in tougher policing and sentencing, yet also believe that we should not cede aspects of policing and justice to the EU.

Transparency? Pah!

* A reference to a catchphrase in the Laurel & Hardy films.

 


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One question begats another

It will not have escaped the notice of those avid followers of Prime Minister’s Questions that among those posed today was one by Douglas Carswell on the question of the recall of MPs by those they are supposed to represent - @27:30.

I am somewhat surprised that as a believer in democracy – so he would have us believe – Carswell did not tack on to his question that if we are to have a recall of MPs, should we not also have the right to a recall of PMs by any member of the electorate?

PMs are after all, thanks to the vagaries of our current system of democracy, not only supposed to be a representative of their constituents but also a representative of all the electorate.

Just a thought……………………………..

 


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2014
10/15

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David's Musings

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Sorry MPs, there is an easy answer

Simon Jenkins begins his article on the matter of Scottish devolution in the Guardian by quoting the words of Walter Scott: Oh, what a tangled web we weave, when first we practise to deceive. Calling for a constitutional convention to resolve the problem, he pleads that politicians be kept out of it – if only that were possible.

Having read the Hansard record of the debate yesterday on the same question, one can only come to the conclusion that with all their practise, our politicians have most definitely succeeded in tangling the web they have created even further.

Leaving to one side the initial impression that our politicians appear to love the sound of their own voices, what becomes obvious is that recognising the various problems they face as a result of the Scottish referendum, they remain constrained by the self-imposed manacles by which they choose to be bound for the simple reason that it retains their hold on power.

Sadiq Khan, making the initial response to the opening statement by William Hague, acknowledges that there is an anti-politics mood among the electorate, resulting in a growing unhappiness with the ‘Westminster Elite’ and with the way the country is run. Maintaining that there now exists an opportunity for radical change as the British people wish to reshape how their country is run and that they will not accept a top-down, imposed solution, Khan continues that because England comprises 80% of the United Kingdom there is no easy federal solution to the question of English votes for English laws (EVEL).

Robert Syms (Cons; Poole – col 244-246) is against devolution as it would be a stepping stone to independence (not only for the countries that comprise the United Kingdom, but also the people – Ed.) In his ‘input to the debate, Syms cites his belief that  local government is much better at controlling money and decisions – really, Mr. Syms? Allow me to digress for a moment. Oxfordshire County Council had a plan to build a link-road in Witney to relieve congestion accessing Witney town centre, but were over ruled by a Panning Inspector who favoured an alternative solution, namely one known as ‘Shores Green’. Faced with accusations of delay over implementing this, we now learn that Oxfordshire County Council used some of this ‘ring-fenced’ money for other purposes and now plead they no longer have the necessary financial resources to proceed.

Syms intervention in this debate was not helped by the question to him by Angus Macneil (SNP) who queried whether full fiscal autonomy for Scotland was the next logical step – while seeming to ignore that if full fiscal autonomy was logical for Scotland, was it thus not logical for England.

Cathy Jamieson (Kilmarnock and Loudoun) (Lab/Co-op) – col: 247 – then made the point that criticism had been made that the Scottish Parliament has ‘soaked up’ various powers to the centre – quelle surprise; is not that not what representative democracy is about – the continuance of a democratised dictatorship?

John Denham (Southampton, Itchen) (Lab) – col: 250-251 – makes an intervention maintaining that the fundamental problem is that the Commons cannot play both roles; that it  it cannot be both an English legislature and a Commons for the United Kingdom; that at the moment, its priority is to be a Commons for the United Kingdom, to the disadvantage of democracy in England. A more fundamental point that Denham elects to forget, where the question of democracy is concerned, is that a parliament cannot comprise, simultaneously, members of the Legislature and the Executive.

When one reads the Hansard report of this debate – and while lengthy and thus time consuming, it does need to be read – one can be forgiven for asking just who are these people to decide our future, exhibiting as they do a total lack of knowledge for the subject matter in question?

If there is to be a constitutional convention, just who takes part in said convention? Wikipedia states that a constitutional convention is one in which a meeting of delegates takes place to adopt a new constitution or revise an existing constitution. Just who comprises these ‘delegates’? Politicians and members of ‘civil society’? Where comes the voice of the people, because just as a country belongs to its people, so does its constitution. Yes, we need those with the ability and knowledge to draw up a new constitution, those whose intellect is far better than ours, but at the end of the day should it not be the people’s decision whether to accept or reject their suggestion?

Digressing again, as I do, our politicians are keen to impress on us the need for equality. Where is there equality, at the supposed seat of democracy, when those partaking find that their input is steadily reduced from 6 minutes to three minutes? Is it not a simple arithmetic excercise to divide the number of speakers into the time available, thus ensuring each participant receives equal opportunity? If politicians cannot solve that simple problem, before they start, how the hell do they hope to solve the more intricate question of constitutional – and democratic – equality; and why should we put our trust in them to so do?

In conclusion, reverting to Sadiq Khan’s original assertion that there is no easy answer to what is a federal question in respect of EVEL – a question studiously ignored by every speaker who followed him – oh, yes there is!

They just need to ‘get on board’ with The Harrogate Agenda!

 


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2014
10/14

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David's Musings

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Tuesday 14th October 2014

I felt it only fair to advise readers that there will not be any articles appearing today – I have in mind an article about ‘democracy’ – y’know, the missing link in the UK – and am presently waiting to be able to link to the definitive Hansard record of today’s ‘Scottish Debate’ in the House of Commons.

The article should appear late tomorrow afternoon or early evening.

 


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2014
10/13

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David's Musings

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Thought for the day

You don’t appreciate a lot of stuff in school until you get older. Little things like being spanked every day by a middle-aged woman. Stuff you pay good money for in later life.

Elmo Phillips


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Additional ‘bunce’

euobserver reports that Transparency International has launched EU Integrity Watch which has collated all the income statistics of Members of the European Parliament.

(note, the link in the euobserver article is non-operative – the data base can be accessed here.)

Transparency International have published their own ‘background’ information into the salaries of MEPs, their allowable expenses etc and that too can be found here.

Ever willing to be of assistance, WfW has now provided you with a new toy to occupy those moments when you may feel a tad bored.

Enjoy.


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Carswell – will he, won’t he

A few days ago, commenting on the results of the by-elections in Clacton and Heywood & Middleton, I posed the question of how long it would be before Douglas Carswell began to exert some control over the ‘rabble-rousing’ elements in his new party, especially where that element might undermine good work he may do in the House of Commons.

A thoughtful article has appeared by Liam Halligan, from which:

As Ukip’s first elected member, Carswell can table Ukip parliamentary motions and lay Ukip amendments to legislation. He can question the Prime Minister on television and hold ministers to account. Above all, he can play a leading role in determining his new party’s economic platform ahead of the May 2015 general election and beyondCritics complain Ukip is a protest group, lacking serious policies beyond Europe and immigration. Well, now Carswell has the opportunity to shape an entire economic manifesto which, given his poster boy status and the media’s escalating interest in Ukip, is certain to command attention.

Carswell may well have said that he holds no leadership thoughts but the next few weeks and months could become very interesting – as Halligan writes, Farage and Carswell could come to blows (and let us not forget O’Flynn who the last I heard was Ukip’s economic spokesman).

 

 

 


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The Freedom Association

Yesterday an exchange took place on Twitter twixt Andrew Allison (Campaign Manager of The Freedom Association) and myself, started by a question from Allison:

@WitteringWitney I have a question for you: why do you have a vendetta against The Freedom Association? People I’ve spoke with agree you do.

@andrew_allison Will answer in a blog post tomorrow as can hardly do it in 140 chtrs – anyways would hardly call it a vendetta.

@WitteringWitney Well, it appears like a vendetta, but your response will suffice overnight. Not sure what I have done to upset you though


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Some Freedom, Some Association

The following email, which comes from The Freedom Association and headed: The need for a clear EU strategy and how to achieve it, has come to my attention:

Today marks the first time that voters have elected a representative from the UK Independence Party (UKIP) to enter the UK Parliament. A key reason for this is a dissatisfaction amongst voters with the strategy of the main Westminster parties – especially over issues that are influenced by the European Union.

What is needed is a clear strategy from the Conservative Party to defend UK interests and provide reassurance to the British public that its concerns are being taken seriously.

To help give an understanding of what is needed, The Freedom Association today publishes a handbook written by Dr Lee Rotherham entitled “How to salvage the Euro-sceptic credentials of the Conservative Party.”

This booklet provides a list of twenty suggested steps to help form the right strategy that can send a clear message to Brussels on behalf of the British people.

As mentioned in the forward by Sir Bernard Ingham, without such a clear strategy the fear of the ‘unknown’ will lead to either intimidation to remain in a largely unreformed EU or will “marvellously [sic] fudge the outcome of negotiation”.

This will breed further dissatisfaction amongst voters.

With seven months until the General Election, now is the time to develop a strategy and present a clear and credible path to the British public. As Dr Lee Rotherham writes:

“This is a rare opportunity. Achievement, after all, is vision plus motion. A pointy stick sometimes helps: the polls now provide the incentive to get things right.”

To download this important booklet visit here: http://www.tfa.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/ManningThePumps.pdf

Yours sincerely,

Rory Broomfield
Director
The Freedom Association

As will be understood when reading Lee Rotherham’s booklet, my heart sank on reading the start of the first recommendation.

When, oh when, will it be recognised that regardless of the personal qualifications and beliefs of an EU Commissioner-Designate, they matter not in the slightest as the prime – nay, the only – allegiance of any Commissioner-Designate, if confirmed in his/her position,  is to the EU.

I leave readers to form their own opinion(s) as to the validity and veracity of this paper by Lee Rotherham.

In my opinion, its use in the process of extracting this country from membership of the European Union is on a par with that of the existence of The Freedom Association as a think tank – namely, zilch.

 


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