Category Archive: David’s Musings

Politicising the Police

Back in 2007 Douglas Carswell and Daniel Hannan authored a series of papers on direct democracy which were published by the Centre for Policy Studies. One of the series was entitled: Send for the Sheriff  (click on 4. Sent for the Sheriff – Douglas Carswell).

What Carswell and Hannan envisaged is not what Cameron has introduced with Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) and I wrote about this here. What Cameron has in effect done is to politicise the police – if we are to have PCCs they cannot and must not be of a party political persuasion, after all the police are supposed to be above party politics; supposed to be completely independent, thus enabling them to enforce the law – and, more importantly, supposed to be answerable to the people who they are meant to serve.

With the latest PCC election in South Yorkshire one can be forgiven for believing that something stinks – here we have a PCC elected under the banner of a political party who had overseen case after case of child abuse and being elected, so it is read, where 80% of the votes cast were postal votes.

When a person can be elected via a system part of which is known to have been abused, then democracy is cheapened; when the electorate can vote for a candidate standing under the banner of a political party which only months previously had been reviled for their failure to protect children in their care, then democracy is cheapened; and when political parties are able to politicise the police , democracy is most definitely cheapened.

When all the foregoing can happen; when a country’s sovereignty can be ceded without the people even understanding what that means, then democracy is not just cheapened – democracy is dead.

 


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A common failure

Yvette Cooper writing in the Independent about Ukip, accusing them of division and exploitation:

Farage is no fool and no fruitcake. He knows exactly what he is doing, who he is manipulating and who he is exploiting. It will poison our politics and pull apart our country if everyone gets dragged into his game……….But playing divisive and exploitative politics in pursuit of votes is not just immoral. It won’t solve the problems of the country and is something Labour will not do.

Farage and/or Ukip is no more guilty of manipulation, division or exploitation than any other political leader or party; all three appear to be an inherent trait in all politicians and political parties, especially when in pursuit of votes. Nothing illustrates this more than the point made by Richard North in his article about the public perception compared to the reality on the subject of immigration. at the end of which he poses the following:

Should policy-makers seek to educate voters – and thereby correct their perceptions – or respond to public perception, even though it is wrong? And, if they don’t do the latter, how do they avoid the charge that they are ignoring public opinion?

The cause of both – the need to educate voters and voters misconceptions – can, I believe, be laid at the door of our political class through their failure to be completely honest with the electorate. That failure is, I would venture, due to their reliance on ‘sound bites’. As an example, this morning the Telegraph ‘Morning Briefing’ contained the following:

David Cameron is back on the offensive with a column in the Times designed to put the focus back on Conservative tax cuts versus  Labour profligacy. “Labour wants to put up taxes on people’s homes, jobs, pensions – even their deaths,” the PM declares; “Conservatives are committed to cutting your taxes.” “He’s raised taxes 24 times,” splutters Labour’s Chris Leslie.

It may be both are correct; but where are the facts to back these statements? What are the Labour policies that will raise taxation on homes, jobs, pensions – even deaths? What are the instances where the Tories have raised taxation 24 times – and why? If statements can be made – and statistics selectively quoted – just how can the electorate differentiate fact from fiction, thus allowing them to make an informed judgement?

Let us revert to Richard North’s article on the subject of immigration and consider Co. Durham, where I am currently. If we look at: County Durham Local Migration Profile Quarter 3 2011-12 we find that Co. Durham has a relatively small non-British population comprising 2% of the population compared to the average of 3.4% of the North East region.  One could hardly say Co. Durham was awash with immigrants, yet what is the betting that any respondents in the survey from Co. Durham agreed with the general public perception on immigration? If that assumption is correct, might that be due to the respondents reliance on soundbites?

One now has to turn to the question of how people assimilate information and someone of my acquaintance spent 18 years in the teaching profession. As part of that period she attended a course run by a local education authority the presenter of which maintained that there were three methods of learning: auditory; visual; and kinesthetic – and that the education system was failing children as the current system is almost based purely on auditory methods.

(As an aside, it is ironic that politicians began, in the 1880s, with a wish to educate the masses and now seem intent on surpressing them by controlling the education system).

Another element that requires introducing is that of children with special needs and as this link shows  currently the number of children with special educational needs, including those with the most common primary needs of speech, language and communication, hovers around the 20% level. My informant assures me that in her time as a teacher the percentage figure has changed little since the introduction of the Warnock report in 1978; a report which showed the Committee’s conclusions were that 20% of children in the school population could have SEN (source).

As can be seen, therefore, there is a substantial percentage of the population with problems associated with language, speech and communication; and were politicians to attempt to ‘educate’ that section of our population (who, remember, have a vote), they may well find themselves facing an insurmountable problem. Not only that but when one adds in the percentage of the electorate who have been spoon-fed their education, sometimes by rote; who have never been made, or taught, to use their powers of reason or thought – all in the name of meeting targets – then the percentage of those who have suffered a failure in their education thus increases. Further add those who have been conditioned by the actions of our political class to accept that the state is their provider and ‘guardian’ (and not just in areas of welfare) and we can then arrive at a figure of over 50% who will then undoubtedly struggle to understand exactly what is happening in the political arena.

If people are now unable to recognise the fact that they are being manipulated by their political class and are unable to understand the basic shenanigans of daily politics, then one has to ask how on earth will they begin to understand a complex matter such as whether this country should,or should not, be a member of the European Union? Once again, add into that question the fact a good proportion of those who will vote will do so based on the advice of the political party that they support, one has to ask the most basic of questions, namely: is there any point in having a referendum?

Coupled with the foregoing – and bearing that in mind -  I link yet again to another article by Richard North on the matter of the voilatility of opinion polls on the same subject; which also begs the question why so much attention is paid to them.

What is apparent is that the political class hone their message to the class of people they have ‘created’; and that therein is a message to be learnt?

 


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2014
10/29

Category:
David's Musings

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The biter bit?

In the Telegraph yesterday Philip Johnston had an article about the EU budget and ‘that bill’ in which he quotes Nigel Lawson (as was) detailing events that led up to the famous Thatcher rebate.

In leading up to the quote, Johnston writes: It should be remembered that Mrs Thatcher got her way at Fontainebleau by threatening to pay nothing into the European coffers. The government even printed, though never published, a draft Bill containing the legal authority to withhold the UK’s contributions. As the then Chancellor, Nigel Lawson, later recalled: “It was discreetly made known to those who we negotiated with that this is what would happen if we did not get satisfaction. Without that threat to withhold our contributions we would not have got it”.

The source of that quote by Lawson comes from a House of Lords Select Committee hearing held on 14th September 2004; and the quotation that Johnson selectively uses, reads: Absolutely, yes. You have to remember how hard it was to win the rebate. It did not simply require the negotiating skills of people like John Kerr, now Lord Kerr and Lord Hannay sitting there and Michael Butler—all highly skilled operators, working very hard on this; but it would never have happened if we had not made it clear that if we did not get satisfaction, we would withhold our contributions. I think it is widely known that we had a draft bill printed to give us the legal authority to withhold our contributions. It was never published, but it was printed. It was discreetly made known to those who we negotiated with that this is what would happen if we did not get satisfaction. Almost certainly the European Court would have eventually decided that this was illegal and it would be struck out, but that would have lasted a long time and would have been quite an effective measure in the context of these negotiations. Without that threat to withhold our contributions, to the extent of having the law officers produce a bill, we would not have got it.

Be that is it may; and no doubt the ECJ would have thrown it out on the basis that EU law is supreme over national law, but what caught my eye in Johnston’s article was the following:

One of the oddities of the European debate is how supporters of the EU project are prepared to turn a blind eye to the sort of wastefulness that they would denounce at home. The issue should not solely be who pays what into the EU kitty but where it all goes.

If the issue is not solely who pays what into the EU kitty but where it all goes, then does not a similar problem occur in the UK every time a new government takes office? Do not those supporters of representative democracy in the UK - and those that continue to condone its existence by partaking in its processes –  turn a blind eye to wastefulness? How often does one party assume office with the sole intention of undoing what its predecessor has spent 5 or more years putting in place? More importantly, when we are informed what level of taxation we must pay, just when are we informed, in detail, on what it will be spent?

According to Wikipedia, the phrase “No taxation without representation” is a slogan originating during the 1750s and 1760s that summarized a primary grievance of the British colonists in the Thirteen Colonies, which was one of the major causes of the American Revolution. The phrase captures a sentiment central to the cause of the English Civil War, as articulated by John Hampden who said “what an English King has no right to demand, an English subject has a right to refuse”.

No taxation without representation has of been twisted from that which I believe was its original intended meaning. Taxation is demanded by the government of the day and logically therefore, if what an English King has no right to demand and an English subject has a right to refuse, then the same must be applicable to Parliament – at least until they sayplease‘. – he who pays the piper calls the tune?

So the question has to be asked of our political class: why the faux outrage at ‘that bill’? Now they know what it feels like to be subjected to a demand as a result of a process over which they had no direct say.

The biter bit?


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2014
10/27

Category:
David's Musings

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HS3 goes back at least 13 years

David Cameron has an article in the Yorkshire Post stating that today his Government takes the next step in his long-term economic plan for the North: giving the go-ahead to plans that will bring the high speed rail revolution to Yorkshire.

It was in 2001 that the UK received €1.5million from the EU for a Feasibility study for Trans-Pennine and North Wales – improved links to Manchester Airport (UK/01/1`1088). In 2004 we had The Northern Way which was a collaboration initiated in February 2004 between the three northern regional development agencies (RDAs), Northwest Development Agency, One NorthEast andYorkshire Forward at the instigation of the then Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott to focus on issues important for the whole of the North of England with a dimension larger than could be tackled by one region alone — for example, transport infrastructure – prior to the disbandment of RDAs by the Coalition Government. Then as recently as August this year we had the report by One North, a report produced by five representatives of cities in the North of England.

The EU has 9 ‘corridors’ where rail is concerned – and other ‘core’ networks; and to view the latter, take a look here. From this report in the Guardian we learn that the current Trans Pennine Link uses trains with an average speed of 44mph, I think we can safely assume that our Masters in Brussels are not going to accept one of their ‘other core networks’ operating at a snails pace. It is not surprising that HS3 plus the links to Sheffield, Teeside/Hartlepool, Grimsby/Immingham all feature as core networks.

As with HS2 I leave readers to form their own opinions why HS3 will be built.

 

 


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Miliband fails to ‘Cash in’ – as does William

Today in Parliament we had Cameron’s report (starts 15:31) on the European Council meeting at the end of last week – including yet more comments on that bill

To say that the statement itself, Miliband’s response and the questions from the Floor of the House were of extremely poor quality and showed a lack of understanding of the subject matter would be an understatement. Had Miliband read this article or this article he would have had sufficient ammunition to have had Cameron wriggling like the proverbial fish on a hook – but instead went for the cheap political point-scoring shots.

The level of proceedings were not raised by a question from William Cash (Sir) involving the wish to reaffirm the sovereignty of Parliament, something that even he must know is impossible with the status quo: We continue to applaud the Prime Minister for his statement at Bloomberg that our national Parliament is the root of our democracy and for his demand for radical change in the European Union. As regards the outrageous behaviour over the £1.7 billion, but also the question of immigration, given its connection with the charter of rights and the need for treaty change, will he now agree that we should pass legislation in this House, as he himself supported on the Deregulation Bill when he was Leader of the Opposition, notwithstanding the European Communities Act 1972, so that we will then regain power over legislation in this House and over the EU?

And we are supposed to respect these people of supposedly superior intellect?

 

 

 

 

 


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Oh, the irony

At the moment our revered leader, David Cameron, is attending a meeting of the European Council at which he is discussing, among other matters, the thorny question of the EU budget, the EU with perfect timing announces a ‘rebalancing’ of past contributions.

This is covered in the Financial Times, the Telegraph and the Mail, with varying degrees of hyperbole. In the Telegraph a Treasury official is quoted as saying that it is not acceptable to change the fees at a moments notice; and John Redwood in the Mail being quoted as saying that David Cameron should reject the idea and that we {the UK] hold all the cards as we raise the tax revenue in the UK and are responsible for spending it, continuing that this latest demand is unacceptable and illegal as far as the United Kingdom is concerned.

Perhaps the Treasury official concerned – and John Redwood – need to read  Article 10, (4) to (7) of Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 1150/2000 of 22 May 2000 implementing Decision 2007/436/EC, on the system of the Union’s own resources?

Ineffectual bluster springs to mind as this ‘rebalancing’ requirement has been known about for sometime and coupled with the fact Cameron has been trumpeting how much better off the United Kingdom is in relation to other Member States, it does not take more than one brain cell to realise the UK was going to suffer a hit.

I sometimes wonder whether our political class undergo a total lobotomy on entering politics.

 

 


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The Freedom Association (2)

Once again I find it necessary to cross swords with The Freedom Association, this time over the content of an article that appears under their banner and authored by their Campaign Manager, Andrew Allison.

Commenting on the fact that there was a debate in the House of Commons today calling for the repeal of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011, the article continues by maintaining that the benchmark required to call an early general election is nigh on impossible to achieve, thus taking power away from our elected representatives and putting it firmly in the hands of the Executive.

Readers will be aware that I have written on this subject previously, having had first-hand experience of being politically disenfranchised. The purpose of electing an MP is to represent you and hold the government of the day to account; plus,where necessary, take forward your grievances about policies adopted by said government.

The position in which I find myself is similar to anyone whose MP is a member of the government, be that Secretary of State, Minister of State, etc right down to those serving as Parliamentary Private Secretaries (PPS). It is a condition of holding those positions that the holder will always back the decisions of the government regardless of the source of any comment/complaint/argument. To be added to this group must be those from the back benches who hope to be promoted to ministerial office and will therefore support their party come what may; those willing to vote as their whips tell them; plus those who support their party by rote and thus can be classified as nodding donkeys.

Where the foregoing is concerned, my Member of Parliament (the Legislature) is David Cameron – but he is also the Prime Minister (the Executive). This begs the question of how can one man hold himself to account on behalf of third party as there must be an immediate conflict of interest. As I was informed, during one such meeting with my MP, where national policy conflicts with local policy, then national policy reigns supreme. 

Fixed Term Parliaments or not, when one political party – or a Coalition – holds a majority of seats in the House of Commons power always has resided with the Executive due to the lack of separation of powers twixt the Legislature and the Executive and one would have thought that a think tank would have been aware of this basic point.

(For an expanded explanation with regard to the need for a separation of powers, go read this.)

 


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Flexcit at Dawlish

A few weeks ago readers will remember that I posted notice of an event to be held at Dawlish and which was organised by the Campaign for an Independent Britain (CIB), The film below, which runs for 32 minutes, features the highlight of that meeting; a talk by /Richard North about the basics of Flexcit.

For those (hopefully) wishing to know more, the entire document can be read here.


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More political and journalistic crap

UKIP’s appeal to former Labour voters is not about policy. It’s emotional. How else can we explain people voting for NHS privatisation, tax cuts for the wealthy and attacks on working people.

Source

How do we explain then that Labour’s appeal about the cost of living crisis; taxing the rich for the benefit of the poor; promoting equality and diversity coupled with more state spending to benefit the needy is not ‘emotional’? 

Even the dire novelty record Ukip Calypso unsettles serious politicians. “Leaders committed a cardinal sin, open the borders let them all come in,” run the lyrics. If you haven’t heard it, imagine Tomorrow Belongs to Me from Cabaret rewritten by a group of Seventies nightclub comics who say “no offence” after they have said something deeply offensive, which is often. Who cares? Most of Westminster, that’s who.

Source

If the average person in this country is not offended – and I have yet to see any evidence that they are – just who is this ‘Westminster’ who are? 650 politicians (plus a few more journalistic hangers-on)  out of approximately 65million – and that percentage is? There is also the point that if our politicians are now so powerless that the only thing they can pontificate on is some obscure satirical record, then just why do we need them and their exorbitant costs? Are they not creating a smokescreen to cover up their impotence as rulers of this country?

Some questions to prove that you shouldn’t believe – or put too much weight on – all that you read.

 


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Have we lost our sense of humour?

From the CoffeeHouse ‘lunchtime expresso’ we learn that former Radio 1 DJ Mike Read has apologised for his Ukip calypso song amid claims that it is racist. The song, which the musician performs with a mock Carribean accent, drew complaints from people including Labour MP Chuka Umunna, who branded it ‘distasteful’. The DJ has now requested that his record company remove the single from sale, saying: ‘I am so sorry that the song unintentionally caused offence. It was never meant to, and I apologise unreservedly.’

So one Labour politician chuka his rattle outta de pram over what is a satirical record, consequently the singer apologises and asks his record company to withdraw it from sale? Is not part of British humour poking fun at others? If a song is written in calypso format then where is the harm in performing it in the style of those that originated it?

I do not recall any outcry at the time Lance Percival performed topical calypsos (with a mock Caribbean accent) on That Was The Week That Was. Neither do I recall any outcry at the antics of Charlie Williams (The Comedians) whose humour was  often at his own expense and particularly his colour – and who would respond to heckling by saying: If you don’t shut up, I’ll come and move in next door to you.

Umunna considers himself a Brit – to which one can only say: Chuka, me ol flower, first, what the hell has it to do with you; and second, if you don’t like our humour then find a country whose humour you do like.

 

 


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