Category Archive: David’s Musings

Carswell: what next for Ukip – and Farage?

When Nigel Farage entered a press conference accompanied by Douglas Carswell jaws may well have dropped, immediately followed by a realisation of the content of what they were about to hear.

In the aftermath of the announcement of Carswell’s ‘defection’ there are many imponderables; namely, will the Conservative Party actually move a writ or leave the seat vacant until May 2015; will Carswell retain his seat as a Member of Parliament, whenever an election is called; will Carswell’s ‘defection’ prompt more of his ex-colleagues to follow – unlikely, according to media reports and a recent statement by Nadine Dorries.

More intriguing – and hardly raised elsewhere – is the question of should Carswell still be the MP for Clacton post May 2015, what might happen to Ukip as a party. Will it still be Nigel Farage’s party were Carswell to be elected and Farage fail in Thanet? Media commentators seem to be of the opinion that Carswell has taken a risk, but in view of the foregoing scenario (Carswell MP – Farage not) it is logical to ask whether Farage has taken an even bigger risk.

Interesting times ahead, methinks.

Afterthought:

On the subject of further Conservative MPs following Carswell: While it can be said that Carswell has taken an honourable course and resigned his seat, one has to wonder whether those being touted as further possible defectors are more interested in their careers than in facts which are staring them in the face on the question of Cameron’s renegotiation ploy and ability to hold a referendum by 2017.

Until such MPs can explain how Cameron’s policies can be delivered, my cynicism of them must remain.


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Rotherham (2)

Any society that entails he strengthening of the state apparatus by giving it unchecked control over the economy and re-unites the polity and the economy is an historical regression. In it there is no more future for the public, or for the freedoms it supports than there was under feudalism.

Robert Higgs, Crisis and Levathian (1987)

Owen Jones has an article in the Guardian entitled: If Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage are mavericks British politics is doomed. Writing in the same publication, Paul Vallely has an article entitled: Rotherham abuse report: protection is what matters, not blame. Yet again in the same publication we have Randeep Ramesh stating that Rotherham is a putrid scandal perpetuated by a broken system.

To supplement all that we have an extract from the Spectator headlined: Rotherham’s child abuse was ignored in order to protect careers and retirements; coupled with which we then have an article on Conservative Home questioning how the Councillor who was in charge of Children’s Services (including child protection) in Rotherham from 2005 to 2010, years during which the council ignored clear warnings and allowed the crimes to continue, was then nominated and subsequently elected as a Police and Crimes Commissioner. We also have Allison Pearson, writing in the Telegraph, basically blaming the people for not rocking the multi-cultural boat.

Then of course the question has to be asked just what did the ex-MP for Rotherham (Denis MacShane) know about all this – and if not, why not?

Just how the hell does Owen Jones believe that because Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage  are mavericks, bearing in mind the foregoing, that British politics is doomed? Both believe in representative democracy, both believe in control by the centre (in one form or another) – they are no different to any other politician, so how are they mavericks? As with the word ‘eurosceptic’, so with the word ‘maverick”; both are now being used to describe someone who is not.

British politics has for yonks been a merry-go-round in which people who have failed in one post are then moved to another in order to repeat their past ineptitude – and all without the democratic agreement of those who are required to fund their existence.

To return to the quote with which this article is introduced, it is not just control of the economy being handed to the polity that brings about the ruin of a society – it is the handing over of control in every aspect of our lives to the polity that brings about the ruin of society.

While we permit the safeguarding of careers and retirements; while we permit broken systems to continue; while we permit politicians to dictate that which we can and cannot say; while we permit the merry-go-round of job placements for the incompetent, then indeed politics is doomed.

More importantly, while we permit our politics to be used as a plaything for those in the Westminster Bubble then our country is surely doomed – as are we ourselves.

 

 


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Rotherham – Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Those who stand for nothing, fall for anything.

Alexander Hamilton

With the publication of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Exploitation in Rotherham (1997 – 2013) there unfolds a story of mismanagement involving incompetence and neglect of duty.

The Executive Summary is concise, detailing serious shortcomings in those who held positions of trust within the society they were supposed to protect.

No doubt there will be much hand-wringing among our political class and charities involved in child care and protection with the publication of this report. No doubt too, there will be mutterings of disgust and condemnation among members of the public; although I suspect few will bother to read the report, instead relying on what they see on their television, hear on the wireless, or read in the press.

When anything goes wrong in this country the first thing people do is to cast around, looking for someone to blame – when perhaps they should be looking in a mirror. For too long people have relied on the State to do things for them that they should be doing for themselves. For too long people have considered that having cast their vote at election time, they have done their duty.

Invariably when something does go wrong and I hear people complaining about ‘the government’ or ‘the council’ I ask them what they have done or intend doing about it. Usually the response is that of: ‘Oh, I don’t get involved in politics’; as if that absolves them of all blame.

That attitude absolves no-one of blame because liars, panderers and the incompetent who hold public office at any level would have a much harder time of it if so many people didn’t insist on their right to remain ignorant and thus blindly agreeable.

‘Events Rotherham’ is but an example of what is wrong with our country and our society in general – we seem not to care what happens in, or to, this wonderful country, nor to ourselves. 

A country should become what its people decide but in most cases a country becomes what a select few decide. Washing one’s hands of a problem didn’t do Pontius Pilate much good – and it won’t do much for the people either.

People, get a grip – here is your template!


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Devolution – a Pandora’s Box?

None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

 With the second Scottish Independence debate occurring this evening it is perhaps opportune to consider some aspects of this subject which do not yet appear to have been discussed.

Devolution of power to Scotland and Wales was one of the central planks of New Labour’s election manifesto in 1997, under the leadership of Tony Blair. Cynics are of the opinion that either (a) it was but a ploy to ensure a majority of Labour MPs in Scotland and Wales; or (b), it was but the first sign of Blair wishing to be at the heart of Europe and demonstrating that by starting the process of regionalisation – you pays your money and………..

Once the process of devolution was begun it could be likened to the opening of a Pandora’s box in that that action, one that seemed so small or innocent, has turned out to have severely detrimental and far-reaching consequences.

All that the process of devolution has accomplished is to provide another opportunity for a group of politicians to sense an opening whereby they can carve out for themselves a career which will provide a bigger slice of cake than that which they currently enjoy, while at the same time fragmenting a united kingdom.

It could be said that those first implementing devolution paid little thought to what might follow – and if they did, they obviously cared not knowing that they would not be around to deal with the consequences. I seem to recall that the consequences of an act affect the probability of its occurring again; something that we see with the further concessions being promised to Scotland by todays political elite – and this lot will not be around either when the time comes to clear up their attempt at bribery.

Alex Salmond has made great play about ‘freedom for Scotland’ where the question of Scottish Independence is concerned, while conveniently hiding the fact that it is not freedom for Scotland, nor its people, that he seeks; but the freedom for him and his ilk to rule Scotland as they see fit – and lets face it, they had an example of what to do by looking at the political system in England.

Under representative democracy our political class (and it will be no different in Scotland) work on the basis that having been left to our devices we have not been able to regulate ourselves (in their opinion) and therefore it is necessary that we must be forced, we must have our earnings seized by the state, we must work under their directions (under penalty of fines or imprisonment); that we don’t deserve to be free.

The practice of our political elite throwing titbits to the people from the table of democracy is no different to those who throw titbits from the dinner table to their dog. Unfortunately, the people have yet to learn something that dogs already know; namely, that hunting as a pack they can soon get to everything that is on the dinner table!

 


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Recurring Events

Every year we acknowledge recurring events in our lives such as birthdays, Christmas, anniversaries; and in time, due to the ageing process, they assume less and less importance. One such annual event, which assumes a similar lack of importance, is the subject about the annual increase in rail fares, something that our media attempt to elevate to a matter of national importance – not that, for all their efforts – anything seems to happen. Not to be outdone, the Financial Times has this article, on which I have left a short comment. Having ‘had a go‘ at Peter Oborne, the need for observing the requirements of gender equality dictates my according the authors of the FT article the same treatment.

I have written many times on this subject, the earliest which was in August 2011, following that article with this one in December of the same year. Where Angela Eagle is concerned it is noted that she seems to have followed a downward path, where the importance of portfolios is concerned, since the first portfolio accorded to her by Tony Blair. Perhaps, under Miliband, a PPE is an example of ‘a race to the bottom’? But I digress.

If readers follow all the links in the articles to which I link in the posts mentioned above, perhaps they will appreciate why I get so annoyed at our p*** poor political class and our p*** poor media.

As it is obvious that the media cannot, or will not, do their homework; and our political class are also obviously lying to us – just when will the people stir themselves to do their own? Or will they continue to ‘rail’ against the inevitable and then just suffer in silence – as is their wont?

 

 


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There are ‘bastards’ – and there are ‘bastards’

Richard North, continuing his series of articles on ‘matters Iraq links to ‘Complete Bastard‘ – the author of which blog is Peter (Pete) North, aka North Junior, aka the son of Richard North.

In most articles readers are gradually led to the ‘nub’ of the article, however allow me to ‘cut to the chase’ – thus going against the grain of most articles – and introduce to you Peter Oborne, Chief Political Commentator of the Daily Telegraph. who, so Wikipedia informs us, is renowned for his acerbic commentary on the hypocrisy and apparent mendacity of contemporary politicians. In what follows it has to be remembered that Oborne is a member of the ‘Westminster Bubble’ and/or the ‘Notting Hill Set’, both of which with whom he no doubt spends an inordinate amount of his time.

When queried, Google offers two definitions  of the word ‘bastard’ – and where both people are concerned, we can immediately dispense with the first. Where the second is concerned, viz-a-vis Oborne, I leave readers to select whichever word they consider most appropriate – an offer which will hopefully become all too plain.

Peter Oborne has a blog post in which he suggests Parliament should be a lot more rowdy because he believes that rowdyism is a must, that Parliament is  not about the exchange of polite conversation at a vicarage tea party because it is concerned with the great, controversial matters of the day and involves clashes between rival visions of how our society should be run; maintaining also that in any properly functioning democracy, passion should run high. What Oborne so conveniently forgets is that it is because we do not have a properly functioning democracy is why passions do run high.

The rowdyism, which Oborne appears so keen to promote, is due to two main factors; (a) the common characteristic of vacuousness and, as a result; (b) the complete lack of knowledge exhibited by the majority of those who rise to their feet, in order to pontificate on matters about which they so obviously know nothing.

Consider:

  • Is it not courtesy, in any civilised gathering, to sit in silence and listen to that which a speaker is saying?
  • Is it not courtesy, in any civilised gathering, if asked a question to answer that question fully and truthfully?

Those two points are especially applicable to Prime Minister’s Questions – a misnomer if ever there was one as ‘questions’ are never answered. Instead, what results is an attempt to belittle the questioner (the Leader of the Opposition) by the Prime Minister of the day (or vice versa) while both participants are only concerned in securing a ‘sound-bite’ (aka playing to the gallery) which will guarantee their mention in any subsequent television news or the inclusion in a satirical article by some parliamentary hack.. What results is no more than what can only be described as childish behaviour exhibited by those on the benches behind either questioner or respondent, baying like demented idiots. That is not to forget, during PMQs, the ‘planted questions’,provided by Whips and asked by those hoping that their ‘puppetry’ will assist their promotional prospects, coupled with both front benches pointing and ‘gurneying’ at their counterparts opposite.

Peter Oborne wants more of this because he believes that is how a properly functioning democracy behaves? If only we had a properly functioning democracy we would not have to put up with the kindergarten behaviour of those who should know better – and that includes Oborne! One has to ask Oborne where is his rowdyism outside ‘prime time television’ (Wednesdays: 12:00 to 12:30) when matters of state are discussed and where one is lucky if there are more than 20 ‘bums on seats’? The only ‘rowdyism’ we then get is when the remainder miraculously appear to dutifully file through the lobbies in order to cast their votes on a discussion on which they have heard nothing and in which they have not participated, then returning to the green benches to ‘bay’ in unison when the result of the vote is announced.

Pete North justifiably castigates those who he terms idealistic know-nothings –  I can but suggest that Oborne has yet to step out of that base category of his mis-named ‘profession’. Oborne’s article is about the hyprocisy and mendacity of our political class? Donnez-moi un break, s’il vous plait?

 

 


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Meeting my Member of Parliament (2)

I thought readers would be interested to know that, following my meeting with David Cameron on Friday, today the following email has been received:

Your appointment with David Cameron MP

Dear Mr Phipps,

 Thank you very much for coming to see David on Friday at his advice surgery.  Thank you also for dropping off the document listing your concerns about David’s comments regarding Europe.  Please be assured that David will read and respond to this in due course.

Best wishes,

Julia

Julia Spence I Caseworker

 Office of the Rt Hon David Cameron MP

House of Commons , London, SW1A 0AA

Needless to say I refrained from responding that my concerns had nothing to do with the continent of Europe but were related to this country’s membership of the European Union and the less than candid statements on that subject that he has made verbally and in writing.

As previously promised, his response (and any rebuttal to his response) will be published.


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2014
08/18

Category:
David's Musings

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COMMENTS:
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Who is to ‘be’, or not to ‘be’ (the master) – that is the question

One of the penalties for refusing to engage in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.

To succeed in politics it is often necessary to rise above your principles.

Graham Allen (Labour, Nottingham North) is chair of the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee, one appointed by the House of Commons to consider political and constitutional reform. This committee has published the second report of the current session (2014-2015) entitled: A New Magna Carta?; and this report is ‘introduced’ by an article authored by Graham Allen.

In collaboration with Kings College London they are reviewing various parts of the current system of democracy under which we currently live and whether we, as a country, need a codified constitution. They make the point that it is not for the committee to decide this but the decision should be one for the people; and in this context the Introduction is well worth reading.

Part 1 of the report sets out the arguments for and against a codified constitution and it is interesting that the arguments for such a codified constitution make the same arguments that I, along with Richard North and The Boiling Frog, have been ‘banging on’ about in relation to the deficits encapsulated in our current system, representative democracy.

These are detailed in depth on page 20 of the report under the heading: The Particular Arguments; and include:

  • In a democracy, it is the people that are sovereign, not Parliament;
  • There are no limitations on what Parliament can legislate about;
  • Parliamentary sovereignty is wielded by the government of the day, not Parliament;
  • Parliamentary sovereignty is but an anachronism and that the sovereignty of the people should be paramount;
  • Local Government is but a puppet of central government;
  • An ‘elective dictatorship’ exists due to the lack of separation of powers twixt the Executive and the Legislature;
  • Most of the rules governing the Office of Prime Minister are nowhere set down in legal form.

It is a tad ironic that the arguments against a codified constitution (page 24) actually do make the case for a codified constitution and for a change to our system of democracy; and include:

  • The present system most definitely ‘is broke’ and therefore does need ‘fixing’; as can be seen by this sides later arguments;
  • Change most definitely is wanted (who says it is not wanted – Katie Ghose, CEO of the Electoral Reform Society, who it could be said has a vested interest?);
  • There are insufficient institutional checks and balances on the actions, decisions and policies of the executive (an ‘elective dictatorship’) – contrary to what the argument against maintains because: (a) intra-party dissent may well exist but promptly dissolves once the Whips get to work; (b) the ability of the House of Lords to delay legislation is negated by, if necessary, use of the Parliament Act; (c) the mass media is, by and large, uncritical; and (d) while it is necessary for political parties to court public opinion come election time, outside said occasions it can do as it damn well pleases.

Yet again we see public input being requested yet how much weight will that opinion have when weighed against those who might be considered ‘stakeholders’ – such as Katie Ghose? Just what is the point in involving the public when, as with any recall of an MP, Parliament will have the final decision? An elective dictatorship, indeed.

It would be interesting to know the personal feelings/views of those sitting on the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee, especially as the report states that it is not the intention of the committee to influence. For example, take Graham Allen who, from Wikipedia, we learn is a proponent of democratic reform and supports independent local government, some proportional representation and a fully elected House of Lords; that in 1995 he wrote “Reinventing Democracy” and in November 2002 he published The Last Prime Minister: Being Honest About the UK Presidency, claiming that the UK effectively had a presidency; and that the Prime Minister (or ‘President’, as he referred to the office throughout the book) should be directly and separately elected in order for a better separation of powers.

However ‘saintly’ may be the intentions of the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee, I have to ask why it is the cynic in me suspects this is just another charade in the long-running – and constantly failing – attempt to bridge the gap twixt politicians and those they are supposed to represent.

This report appears to be but another effort to tinker with representative democracy while attempting to convince the people that they are the masters, ie that they are sovereign – a state they can never attain under representative democracy.

That the political class will not voluntarily visit their version of Dignitas is a given and if change to true democracy is really wanted by the people then they are going to have to get behind this idea.


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2014
08/15

Category:
David's Musings

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Meeting my Member of Parliament

In politics, a lie unanswered becomes truth within 24 hours.

 This afternoon I had a meeting with my Member of Parliament, David Cameron, the object of which was to take him to task for being less than candid on ‘matters EU’. When requesting the meeting some weeks ago I had suggested that as the subject matter was of a complicated nature it might be more productive if an extended interview period could be granted. This suggestion was turned down by his constituency assistant based in the House of Commons, the reason being given that David Cameron had a packed schedule. It was suggested that I produce the points of contention in writing and that he would respond in due course.

As a result the following ‘dossier was handed to him:

Economical With The Actualité

Contents:

 Introduction                                                                                        1

European Treaty/Budget/Bailout Mechanism                               2

Norway                                                                                                 4

Treaty Change                                                                                     6

In the EU to trade with the EU                                                         7

Brexit                                                                                                    9

EU Council Conclusions                                                                     10

Introduction:

 How can we sensibly answer the question ‘in or out’ without being able to answer the most basic question: what is it that we are choosing to be ‘in or out’ of[1]

When considering the mountain of words that have been uttered or written by anyone, be they of the pro-EU or anti-EU factions, never has anything so true been uttered than those words above.

How can the British electorate make an informed decision in respect of the United Kingdom’s membership of the European Union, in any referendum that is granted, when the true facts relating to that subject have been hidden from them – deliberately, it would seem.

Unfortunately, where you are concerned, that which you have said, or written – other than the words quoted above – has been far from the complete truth; in fact the accusation of misleading the British public can be justifiably levied against you.

I would offer for your consideration – and subsequent response – the following:

[1]http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newsvideo/uk-politics-video/9820375/David-Camerons-Europe-speech-in-full.html

On the Marr programme[2] (BBC1: Sunday, 29th September 2013) you stated: They also said you can’t cut the European budget. I have cut it. They also said you can’t veto a European treaty. I did veto a European treaty. They said you’ll never get out of the bailout mechanism. We got out of the bailout mechanism.

 I have cut it [the European budget]:

It was in May 2013 that the finance ministers of the EU member states, including Mr George Osborne, agreed to provide an additional €7.3 billion for the 2013 budget (as set out in Draft Amending Budget No. 2)[3], as the first tranche of an overall figure that would eventually reach €11.2 billion with the addition of £470m in September of that year[4] EU Budget Commissioner Janusz Lewandowski was quite blunt, at the time, about needing the money[5].

Your claim to have cut the EU budget is therefore not strictly correct, yet still you continue to maintain that a budget cut was achieved. You may have succeeded in a cut of the initial budget, but that has since increased – so should you not be clarifying this claim?

 I did veto a treaty:

In relation to the Euro crisis of 2011 you let it be known that you effectively vetoed a treaty[6]; you also stated, in your report to the House of Commons, on 12th Deptember: and so I did not agree to the treaty[7]. You repeated your statement that you vetoed a treaty in the Conservative Party European Election Manifesto of 2014[8], a statement which bears your signature.

Those claims immediately beg the questions: what was the name of the treaty you vetoed? For any draft treaty to have been on the table for discussion there would have had to have been a need beforehand for a Convention, followed by an intergovernmental conference (IGC). – in which case perhaps you can advise when and where were both held?

The truth of the matter is that there was no draft treaty on the table, so you could not have applied a veto.

We have got out of the bailout mechanism

This statement is also incorrect and is nothing more than a ‘smoke and mirrors’ argument. It has never been the case that the UK could not end the commitment made by Gordon Brown, when the EU terminated its temporary European Financial Stability Facility and created the permanent rescue mechanism, the European Stability Mechanism[9]. But it does not end UK involvement in bailouts though the IMF and the Balance of Payment Facility[10].

Your statement ‘We have got out of the bailout mechanism’ implies that the United Kingdom is no longer liable for any contribution – yet our continued participation through the IMF and the Balance of Payment Facility demonstrates that the United Kingdom is still liable.

All it required was the insertion of the letters ‘EU’ immediately prior to the word ‘bailout’ in your statement for it to be correct. Would you not agree, on reflection, that your omission of those two words was less than candid on your part?

[2]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wm2GGqdWfpM
[3]http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_data/docs/pressdata/en/ecofin/137122.pdf
[4]http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-24286784
[5]http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-13-857_en.htm
[6]http://www.channel4.com/news/cameron-vetoes-eu-treaty-deal
[7]http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-16136672
[8]http://www.conservatives.com/europe/~/media/Files/Downloadable%20Files/MANIFESTO%202014/Euro%20Manifesto%20English.ashx
[9]http://www.efsf.europa.eu/about/index.htm
[10]http://europa.eu/legislation_summaries/economic_and_monetary_affairs/institutional_and_economic_framework/l25005_en.htm

Norway ‘governed by fax’

I think it is worth understanding what leaving would involve – there is the Norway option. You can be like Norway – and you can have full access to the single market but you have absolutely no say over the rules of that market……In Norway they sometimes call it ‘Government by fax’ because you are simply taking the instructions about every rule in the single market from Brussels without any say on what those rules are.

You stated in that speech that a key part of your international ambitions for the UK is our place at the top table. At the UN. The Commonwealth. NATO. The WTO. The G8. The G20 and yes – the EU.[11]

You have repeatedly made the accusation that Norway has no voice in the formation of EU law and that she is forced to accept law by fax from Brussels – nothing, as you are no doubt well aware, is further from the truth.

Where the World Trade Organization is concerned, we all know that, within the EU, trade policy is an exclusive competence of the commission[12]; subsequently we also know that in dealing with the WTO, the framework for negotiations is decided at EU level by consensus, and we are then represented at the WTO “top table” by the European Commission[13]. Yes, membership of the EU gives us access to the “top tables” of EU institutions, but the very fact of our membership means that the United Kingdom, in her own right, is excluded from the WTO top table.

As you must be aware the WTO situation is not unique; take for example the World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations – known as WP.29 and held under the auspices of the United Nations Economic Council Europe (UNECE) – where we have no direct membership and our interests are represented exclusively by the European Commission. (Oddly, Norway, which has no automotive industry, sits as a member of this body in her own right.) Or take the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (on which Norway again has her own seat), which jointly manages the fisheries in the region, where the UK interest is represented by the European Commission and where we are not even parties to the enabling treaty, the EU having taken over our seat. On both bodies Norway has a voice in the formulation of standards and decisions which are then handed down, in the form of dual international quasi-legislation for implementation by governments and trade blocs.

The point has to be made that it is from this dual international quasi-legislation that the majority of the bulk of the Single Market regulation originates, making the EU no more than an intermediary player, processing standards agreed elsewhere, over which it has no direct control – at which point it becomes obvious that a seat at Brussels is not one at a top table.

On this question and your assertion that we need to retain our full membership of the European Union in order to have a seat at the top table, once again I can but suggest you are being less than candid.

Where the setting of global standards is concerned, with food standards Codex is the top table – and there are many others, all under the aegis of the United Nations. There is also, for example: the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) based in Rome; the United Nations Economic Council (UNECE) based in Geneva; the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) based in Paris; the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) based in Montreal; the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) based in Basel; and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) based in Bonn.

Norway has a seat on all these organisations and thus exercises just as much influence as the European Union in the framing of global standards.

Let us turn to the relationship twixt Norway and the European Union.

Decision shaping is the phase of preparatory work undertaken by the European Commission to draw up new legislative proposals. The Commission has an exclusive right of making proposals for new legislation but is obliged to call on advice from external sources when so doing. The EEA Agreement contains provisions for input from the EEA EFTA side at various stages before new legislation is adopted. Input can take the form of participation by EEA EFTA experts in EC committees or the submission of EEA EFTA comments.[14]

According to the EEA Agreement, the EEA EFTA States have the opportunity to contribute to the shaping of EU legislation at the preparatory or pre-pipeline stage by participating in the Commission’s experts groups, committees and other advisory bodies. As the initiator of EU legislation, the Commission is responsible for the preparatory work leading to draft proposals. For this purpose, advice is often sought from experts of the Member States. EEA EFTA States’ influence on the shaping of legislation is significant at this pre-pipeline stage, as the EEA Agreement provides for extensive participation by EEA EFTA experts in the preparatory work of the Commission[15].

Not bad for a country which you maintain has no voice in the formulation of EU rules, yet has a veto over those rules, something it employed over the Third Postal Directive – would you not agree?

[11]http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/9735644/We-will-be-governed-by-fax-from-Brussels-if-UK-quits-EU-David-Cameron-says.html
[12]http://ec.europa.eu/trade/policy/policy-making/
[13]http://ec.europa.eu/trade/policy/eu-and-wto/
[14]http://www.efta.int/eea/decision-shaping
[15]http://www.efta.int/media/publications/bulletins/EFTA-Bulletin-October-2011.pdf

Treaty Change:

During your interview with Andrew Marr on 11th May 2014 you stated that you were confident of achieving the renegotiation elements you sought so that a referendum could be held by the end of 2017, while also confirming that some of what you wanted would require treaty change – for example removal of the requirement for ‘ever closer union[16]’.

If there is to be treaty change then you must be aware that (a) you need the agreement of all Member States; (b) a Convention is required; (c) that said Convention would be followed by an IGC; and (d) that some Member States would require a referendum to be held as part of the ratification process..

That scenario could not be accomplished within two years as you must surely know, so why are you promising something that cannot be achieved?

Yet you have promised a referendum towards the end of 2017 regardless, which would mean that any referendum held would be a referendum requiring a decision by the British electorate on an incomplete ‘renegotiation’ process. How can this be logical?

Is that not misleading – and, in effect, another example of being less than candid with the British people?

[16]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yWVrTZksQRI#t=400

In the EU to trade with the EU:

There has always been a mantra put forward by politicians in favour of EU membership that the United Kingdom has to be ‘in Europe to trade with Europe’ – a mantra that is palpably false. An example of this is that ‘3 million jobs’ depend on our membership of the EU.

An article appeared in the Daily Telegraph on 24th June 2014 relating to a speech Danny Alexander was due to give in Washington in which he was to say that 3.3 million jobs are connected to this country’s continued membership of the European Union[17].

Let us re-wind to 30th October 2011 and an appearance by Nick Clegg on BBC’s Today programme[18] in which he stated:

There are three million of our fellow citizens in this country, men and women, whose jobs rely directly on our participation and role and place in, what is after all the world’s largest, borderless single market with 500 million consumers right on our doorstep.

This figure of three million jobs has been quoted since 2000, by Stephen Byers[19] (Trade and Industry Secretary) and by Tony Blair[20]. In the same year a report was issued by the South Bank University[21] in which the figure of three million is mentioned. Yet another report was published in 2000 by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research in which it is stated that: “detailed estimates from input-output tables suggest that up to 3.2 million UK jobs are now associated directly with exports of goods and services to other EU countries” and went on to state that: “there is no reason to suppose that many of these [jobs], if any, would be lost permanently if Britain were to leave the EU”.

Reported in Hansard[22] (col: 604W) of 2011 a figure of 3.5 million was mentioned during a BIS debate in the HoC about overseas investment, based on an analysis apparently conducted in 2006. Further, a BIS report from February 2011, on the UK Government Response to the European Commission Consultation on the Single Market Act[23], stated that “the single market has also contributed to increased growth of at least 1.85 per cent and the creation of 2.75 million new jobs across the EU since 1992.”

There was a further report in 2008, by the predecessor to BIS, namely the BERR, which found that: “approximately 3 – 3.5 million British jobs are linked (both directly and indirectly) with exports to the EU”.

Yes, without doubt there are British jobs linked with exporting goods and services to the EU-27, but these jobs are not linked to our membership of the EU, they arise from our membership of the Single Market. You know as well as I that it is possible to be fully functional participants in the Single Market without being members of the EU, something which can done by applying to re-join EFTA and remaining within the EEA.

Another interesting fact is that, if this figure of three million can be traced back to 2000, it seems a tad strange that current estimates are the same as those made over a decade ago – not least because we have seen a significant recession during this period.

Where this example of being economical with the actualité is concerned, when and where have you corrected this instance of what can be classified as misinformation?

[17]http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/eu/10923865/Treasury-figures-show-more-than-3-million-UK-jobs-are-reliant-on-the-EU.html
[18]http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/nick-clegg/8859374/Nick-Clegg-close-ties-with-Europe-are-absolutely-essential.html
[19]http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/650295.stm
[20]http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/652963.stm
[21] http://www.eabcn.org/research/documents/ukjobs.pdf
[22]http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201011/cmhansrd/cm110906/text/110906w0008.htm#11090819000362
[23]https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/32275/11-760-uk-response-single-market-act.pdf

Brexit:

I believe it correct to state that in everything you have written, or said, on the subject of renegotiating and thus repatriating powers from the EU not once have you explained how you hope to achieve this. The word ‘repatriation’ does not appear anywhere in the Lisbon Treaty, so under which article of that treaty do you intend accomplishing that which you seek? There is only one method of renegotiating the UK’s terms of membership of the EU and that is by invoking Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon (TEU); therefore the question has to be raised whether it is your intention to so do?

On the question of repatriating powers, the following questions arise:

1) Repatriating powers requires Treaty change with the unanimous agreement of all other 27 member states. How do you intend to persuade the other member states that it is in their interests to make the UK a special case and to have a competitive advantage in the Single Market?

2) It appears that the EU has Treaty changes of its own in mind. With the release of a draft version last year – Fundamental Law of the EU – the EU intends to go for another step forward in integration for the Eurozone. This will leave the UK behind with an “Associate Membership” status which means limited access to EU institutions. Is Associate Membership status something you would accept for the UK?

3) A referendum obviously has two variables. No doubt you would be confident of winning to stay in, however there is also the possibility that the electorate vote to leave instead. In the event of that happening what are your contingency plans? How would you negotiate with the EU to leave thus ensuring that exit was as smooth as possible?

4) Returning to the ‘Norway Question’, the UK could repatriate powers successfully by invoking Article 50 and adopting the Norway model of remaining in the Single Market. This would then allow an opportunity to negotiate a new form of relationship with the EU, with no detrimental effect to financial markets or businesses. Do you rule out this option – and if so on what basis?

5) While you are carrying out your process of ‘renegotiation’, what steps do you envisage taking in order to calm the financial markets and business?

EU Council Conclusions:

In the Conclusions following the European Council meeting of 26th/27th June 2014, point 27 stated:

The UK raised some concerns related to the future development of the EU. These concerns will need to be addressed.

In this context, the European Council noted that the concept of ever closer union allows for different paths of integration for different countries, allowing those that want to deepen integration to move ahead, while respecting the wish of those who do not want to deepen any further.[24]

That is not what the Commission website states when explaining what is EU law and/or ‘ever closer union’:

The main goal of the EU is the progressive integration of Member States’ economic and political systems and the establishment of a single market based on the free movement of goods, people, money and services.

To this end, its Member States cede part of their sovereignty under the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) which empowers the EU institutions to adopt laws.

These laws (regulations, directives and decisions) take precedence over national law and are binding on national authorities.[25]

In your statement to the House of Commons, on 30th June 2014, you said:

We broke new ground, with the Council conclusions stating explicitly that ever closer union must allow for different paths of integration for different countries and, crucially, respect the wishes of those such as Britain that do not want further integration.[26] (Emphasis mine)

The Council Conclusions stated no such thing – perhaps I might ask that you read point 27 again?.

It should be noted that the Concise Oxford Dictionary defines ‘concept’ as: a general notion; an abstract idea.

Is the foregoing not another example of your being economical with the actualité, or not being candid – or, even more serious, misleading the House?

[24]http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_data/docs/pressdata/en/ec/143478.pdf
[25]http://ec.europa.eu/eu_law/introduction/treaty_en.htm
[26]http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmhansrd/cm140630/debtext/140630-0001.htm#1406308000001

I only spent just over 5 minutes with David Cameron as I did not wish to give him the opportunity of providing a short verbal response, wishing him to commit himself to a written response. Skimming through, he repeated that he had vetoed a treaty and cut the budget; although he made no mention of negating any bailout. The section on Norway appeared to ‘stop him in his tracks’ and when he began to respond, I intervened suggesting that, as his assistant had proposed, it would perhaps be better were he to read the dossier when he obviously had more time and replied at a later date. This he agreed to, stating that his response would be ‘punchy’ – adding that he understood my concerns as the subject matter was one of importance.

I hold out no hope that a satisfactory answer will be received, least of all one which contains an apology for that of which I accuse him; but when said response is received, it will be published on this blog as is my usual practice.

 


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Open Europe, late to the party – again

In their press summary today Open Europe triumphantly proclaim that a Freedom of Information (FoI) request has shown that Clegg’s 3 million jobs claim is incorrect.

If Open Europe deigned to read blogs they could have saved themselves the time and effort of inputting that FoI request as Clegg’s claim was proved false on 1st October 2013.

Coincidentally this 3 million jobs being dependent on our membership of the European Union is one of the accusations which will be put to my Member of Parliament when I meet him at 3pm this afternoon at which time I shall be accusing him of being less than candid – or, if you prefer, being economical with the actualité – about matters EU’.

A report of this meeting will appear on this blog at approximately 1600/1630 hours.

 


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