Category Archive: David’s Musings

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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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

COMMENTS:
12 Comments »

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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2014
08/12

Category:
David's Musings

COMMENTS:
3 Comments »

Multi-Level Governance

Peter Oborne writes in the Telegraph on the subject of what he terms bossy health chiefs being drunk on their power. This article is a prime example whereby, as usual, we have a journalist writing an article on a subject and barely scratching the surface.

Most of us are aware of ‘charities’ calling for this, that and the other on a variety of subjects; be they, for example, animal welfare, smoking or the consumption of alcohol. What is not realised is that such ‘charities‘ (and I emphasise the word for reasons which will become clear) are no more than pressure groups who spend an inordinate amount of time and money lobbying government for the introduction of policies. In fact it has been stated that three out of five people contribute to charities that act as lobbyists (source) – albeit no doubt unknowingly.

It is also known that a good number of charities are funded by government (and by government I also include the European Union) to lobby for the introduction of policies that politicians may not wish to introduce themselves due to the fact that the subject matter may appear unpopular and be held as a vote loser. In the immediate foregoing link it is shown how Cancer Research UK use the simplest of lobbying tools, the petition, to gain public support. Such lobbying, whether by petition or other means, then allows politicians to introduce measures and also allow them to cite public demand and/or public outcry for action as the basis for their measures.

Most people believe that charities exist solely by means of public donation (and a few do) but in the main most are in receipt of funding from government and/or the European Union – and in some instances from both. Take for example the World Wildlife Fund, on the face of it an environmental charity; a ‘charity’ who inform us, so they would have us believe, that most of their income comes from voluntary sources, such as our dedicated members, supporters and the business community. Yet the WWF has become a Member of the EU Commission ‘Expert Groups‘ and thus is now involved in the policy-making process and implementation of measures. Where funding is concerned the WWF, during the period 2007-2012, received, from the EU, the sum of €53,813,343 for its services to itself and the EU (source).

It may seem at this point I am digressing, but let us turn to the subject of multi-level governance – and on which subject a reasonable history/background can be found on Wikipedia, for those with the time and interest to read same.

Not too long before the recent European elections, in May of this year, the Committee of the Regions (CoR) launched their Charter for Multi Level Governance in Europe. Adopted by the CoR on 3 April 2014 and supported by the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe, the Charter is a political manifesto from European cities and regions inviting all public authorities to make “multilevel governance” a reality in day-to-day policy-making and delivery. This primarily involves working in partnership between the different levels of government (local, regional, national and European) and applying a set of principles that should guide efficient policy-making, such as participation, cooperation, openness, transparency, inclusiveness and policy coherence, all of which are essential conditions to guarantee the success of public policies in the interest of the citizens (source).

Where local authorities are concerned, the CoR even cite the European Charter of Local Self Government - and just how many people know, or knew, of its existence – of which the United Kingdom is a signatory. Readers will find that when clicking on the link ‘local and regional democracy’, this takes you not to any EU website, but that of the Council of Europe. Not only is that Charter used as a basis but so is the ‘Berlin Declaration‘ of 2007.

What we are looking at with multi-level governance is the means by which the governance of nations, who are member states of the EU, can be subverted, regionalised and negated – thus allowing the power of national governments to be weakened ever further, if that is possible. I do not recall multi-level governance being once discussed during the European elections in any manifesto – or by any politician – least of all by the party supposedly at the forefront of the opposition to this country’s membership of the European Union. Neither do I recall any mention of the CoR’s ‘Charter’ being reported by our media, especially that organisation that prides itself on being a source for up-to-the-minute news, breaking news and feature stories.

As with so much to do with the governance of this country; and with its membership of the European Union; it would seem that yet another measure is being ‘slipped through under the radar’ – and we have ‘openness’ and ‘transparency’?

Returning to the opening paragraph of this article, methinks it is back to the drawing board, Mr. Oborne.

Update: This report from last year is well worth reading on the subject of what are obviously ‘fake’ charities in particular regard to funding and lobbying.


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Maria Eagle flies a kite (again)

For too long politicians have been prone to misinforming the general public – one could say lying – and all for the purpose of making political capital. The latest example of this deceitful form of politics is Maria Eagle, giving a speech at the new environmentally friendly offices of the WWF in Woking.

Having already tried it once, she is trying again; and with not much success, even allowing for the fact that this time she was preying not only on Owen Paterson, but also David Cameron, the Conservative Party, George Osborne and Michael Fallon – not forgetting flooding and air pollution.

Where the question of the Somerset Floods are concerned, Richard North comprehensively explained on his blog, EUReferendum.com, the effects of EU competence and what little room for manoeuvre any UK government has in this area.

For Eagle to talk about flooding being consistent with climate change is stretching incredulity to its limit when it would be just as consistent to say that flooding is caused by climate change or global warming – and in any event did not the Met Office eventually blame the flooding on a change in the jet stream? Also for Eagle to to use the word consistent and to state that 97% of scientists have stated that small shifts in global temperature will cause massive impacts for millions of people is also misleading when in fact NASA, quoting the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, state that global warming is probably human induced. I know that it is unnecessary to explain to readers the meaning of the word ‘probably’.

Maria Eagle also turns her fire on air pollution, but wait one moment – was it not the party of which she is a member that increased air pollution by getting everyone to purchase diesel-powered vehicles when it has now been proved that they are bigger polluters than petrol-powered vehicles? Hypocrisy? What, Maria Eagle? Surely not.

Blaming all the environmental woes on the present government, incompetent as they undoubtedly are, while suggesting that her party will, in effect, introduce measures to control our climate is as far-fetched as supposing that when the time comes for a tunnel between Liverpool and Belfast in order to complete the EU’s North West Priority Corridor her party will be able to just as magically part the waters of the Irish Sea.

We all know that politicians lie, but must they do it so blatantly?

 

 


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Democracy, Devoution, Disaster

If we look around us, wherever that may be; in the street, on the bus or train, in the main-stream media or social media, there are complaints on just about every topic under the sun where the governance of this country is concerned – and it seems to matter not which political party is forming our government. It would seem that each and every one of us has forgotten the word ‘experience’; otherwise known as the wisdom that enables us to recognise in an undesirable old acquaintance the folly that we have previously embraced.

Probably one of the most overused words in the English language, among politicians and those within the Westminster Bubble, is the word ‘democracy’. Aristotle is reputed to have said that democracy arose from man’s belief that if they were equal in any respect, they were equal absolutely. In that regard readers may well recall Ronald Reagan, in his first inaugural address, pose the question that if none of us are able to govern ourselves, then who among us has the capacity to govern someone else.

Some decades ago there could be discerned a difference twixt the two largest parties in this country, with it generally being held that one stood for conservatism and the other socialism. The detractors of socialism often make the point that democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word: equality; but that while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude. Unfortunately today it matters not which particular political party gain office, they all seek equality by means of restraint and servitude.  If liberty and equality are to be found in democracy then they will only be found when every person takes an active part in the governance of themselves.

Daniel Hannan, writing about Dr. Johnson, states that the latter said of actors that they took to the stage for a living and were “no better than creatures set upon tables and joint-stools to make faces and produce laughter, like dancing dogs”; adding their particular craft was no more than one of deception. When considering the present puerile state to which our politicians have sunk, one might be forgiven thinking that Johnson was also a prophet.

The political class and those in the Westminster Bubble are currently convulsed with ‘matters Scotland’ and stating that if Scotland is to have increased devolved powers then so should England, Wales and Northern Ireland which necessitates the need for an English parliament, thus solving the West Lothian Question – with John Redwood entering the fray today with this article.

It will not, hopefully, have escaped the attention of readers the art of deception that is indeed practiced by our politicians. Note how Redwood writes: …..England too wants and deserves devolved government, enjoying the same powers of self determination of laws, spending and taxes as our Scottish neighbours and friends. Whether England has its own parliament or not (and leaving to one side the added complication of the UK’s membership of the European Union), one has to ask Redwood exactly what powers of self-determination do we, the people, have over laws we are forced to observe or over taxation or spending? We are unable to decide whether we agree with the laws we are told to obey, neither can we object to any one of them. Likewise, we are not asked fur our agreement on the level of taxation we are forced to pay, under pain of imprisonment if we do not, nor on how that taxation is spent.

Present day politics can best be described as differing ideologies or roads which forcibly lead us from nowhere to nothing. Present day elections can best be described as (1): a situation in which we are consulted, by means of manifestos, on various courses of action that have already been decided upon, the details of which we know not; and (2): an expression of opinion by means of a ballot through which we are allowed the privilege to vote for a man or woman chosen by other men or women. None of the foregoing can be described, by any stretch of the imagination, as democracy.

.We are regaled with assertion after assertion from our political class about their need to occupy the common ground or to stay in the middle of the road. Even the dumbest among us knows what happens to such people – eventually they get trampled upon or run over and thus become yet another statistical casualty. Politicians need to be made to realise that we too can decide whether we wish to become a statistical casualty – and at far less personal cost.

We are informed in the Bible that the meek shall inherit the earth and we have become such by our acquiescence to what is no more than democratised dictatorship – and we all know that dictatorships can only get worse before they are eventually overthrown. Are we not informed by politicians that they are not our masters, but our servants; but then continue to act as our masters? But when will people realise that politicians will never willingly cede the powers they hold (and add to virtually day by day), that what is conventionally considered to be true ‘localism’ will never come to pass on their watch; and that as a result people will continue to be held in restraint and servitude?

The state of meekness can also be a period of patience while revenge is planned, a revenge that is worthwhile. Little known among people is that a blueprint for that revenge already exists and through its implementation guarantee that never again could our political class and their ‘little helpers’ ever again usurp, without our permission, that which is rightfully ours.


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‘Genuine’ Representative Democracy?

Tim Wigmore has an article in The Staggers, the political blog of the New Statesman, one with a heading:  Parliament must shed privately-educated and Westminster bubble MPs to win voters’ trust; and a sub-heading: As voters become more inclined to plump for an option outside the mainstream, or stay at home altogether, parties should recognise the electoral gains in becoming more genuinely representative of Britain today.

When one looks at this author’s ‘bio‘, it becomes necessary to firstly think that he needs to ‘grow-up’ a tad before pontificating on a subject on which he has obviously given little thought. That is not to decry the attempt of one so young to offer a suggestion to what is wrong with our current system of democracy; unfortunately, in his case, it just illustrates that he is part of the grouping about which he complains.

There have been, of late, many articles attempting to make our current system of representative democracy more representative, of which Wigmore’s is the latest – and all are akin to attempting to turn water into wine. We are all aware that, reputedly, only one person has performed that trick; although David Blain did turn coffee into money, albeit with a littletrickery.

Our political class indulge in ‘trickery’ – although their form of ‘trickery’, which in comparison is in the kindergarten class as it relies on a more basic form, namely that of lying. Witness that when Cameron and Clegg usurped power in 2010 they promised, among other things, to create a power of recall thus enabling an electorate to recall their Member of Parliament if they so desired (page 27:  A Programme for Government); only for it to be found that the final decision would be taken by a committee of MPs. It was also promised that 200 all-postal primaries would be held in seats that had not changed hands for many years and that local residents would be given the power to call for local referendums n any local issue – yet we still await the first; and on the second we then found that the results of such referendums could be ignored if the local authority so chose – but perhaps I digress?

Wigmore, like Cameron, Miliband, Clegg, Cash, Carswell, Hannan and Boris Johnson, is but a talking head from within the Westminster Bubble running round in circles trying to achieve the impossible – namely attempting to make our current system of democracy more representative – genuinely or otherwise. It cannot be done, because:

  • How can such a system be representative when a political party, ‘achieving office’, can pass any piece of legislation it likes and those who are supposed to be represented have no means of halting said piece of legislation?
  • How can such a system be representative when there is no separation twixt Executive and Legislature, meaning that those elevated to the Executive cannot represent those they were elected to represent?
  • How can such a system be representative when prospective candidates are ‘parachuted in’, at the whim of their political party, without the agreement of the electorate they will be asked to represent?
  • How can such a system be representative when those elected are ‘whipped’ to support their ‘party line’ in any vote held in Parliament, purely to keep that party in power?
  • How can such a system be representative when those who are supposed to represent feed those that are supposed to be represented false information?
  • How can such a system be representative when taxation – and levels of taxation – can be imposed on a people when the people on whom said taxation is levied are unable to object or decide on what and how that taxation should be spent?

It is all very well for Wigmore to bemoan the fact that Parliament is unrepresentative because there is an imbalance twixt male and female members of parliament or that the ethnic mix is still out of kilter with that of the present electorate. Were either of those two factors to be addressed it would still not make parliament ‘representative’ while the defects noted above still exist.

Boris Johnson is consider by some to be a buffoon – and the latest to so agree is Simon Nixon writing in the Wall Street Journal. Yet Johnson, among the political class, is not alone with not one Member of Parliament seemingly able to produce a coherent and factual utterance on this country’s membership of the European Union. Wigmore may well consider members of parliament to be assiduous – that they most definitely are is beyond doubt when you read and listen to their views on ‘matters EU’, spouting as they do utter piffle. Unfortunately piffle is not confined to just our political class, it even appears from those considered to be ‘experts’ on the subject, experts which include think tanks such as Open Europe and even the economic adviser to the Arbuthnot Banking Group.

Civitas has entered the fray, joining Nixon and others in the condemnation of Boris Johnson’s recent report. We are, it seems, to be blessed with two further reports on (1) ways of leaving the European Union and (2) the views of business on that subject, the first of which is due to appear on Wednesday of next week. Needless to say, when these reports are published, where coherence and fact are concerned, I’m not holding my breath.

Young Wigmore needs to start again by returning to the kindergarten class because Parliament not only needs to shed its privately educated members, along with its Westminster Bubble, but it needs to return the sovereignty that it has usurped from those to whom it belongs.

What we have at the moment is not only not representative – hell, it doesn’t even have any vestige of democracy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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