Elect

verb:

choose (someone) to hold public office, by voting

adjective:

the chosen, the elite, the select

buffoon:

a clown, a jester, a ludicrous or bumbling person, a fool

 

If Boris Johnson is a member of the elite or the select, then heaven help the rest of us. This man stands and gives a speech about the EU and this country’s membership of that body; one in which he complains that once law is there in the acquis, in the very corpus of law, there is no way that a single country or a single parliament could revoke it – then promptly goes on to praise and support a policy of David Cameron’s which would attempt to do just that. Leaving to one side what one, in kindness, might term a ‘minor’ gaffe, he then commits the even greater one by his omission to correct himself by stating that there is one such method and that requires invoking Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU).

Boris Johnson is now being compared to Nigel Farage in that they are both held to be plain-speaking politicians – However, I would suggest that the only similarity they have in common is that of being all mouth – and, on certain occasions (so it has been intimated), no trousers .

Johnson, in common with Cameron, Carswell and Hannan, is indeed a fool; in fact, they are all fools for believing that they can take the rest of us for fools, ie those that know nothing. Unfortunately for the second named, he has a constituent who intends taking him to task, on the 15th of this month, because he feels bitterly affronted by such patronising discourtesy.

While the crew of fools aboard the once proud ship of state, HMS United Kingdom, continue to elect a Captain and Officers from among their number and who are no better than those that elect them, so will that ship continue to be sailed to eventual wreckage from which there will be no survivors.


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Never mind HS2, we now have HS3

With the launch of the report: One North: A Proposition for an interconnected North, George Osborne has promised the creation of a ‘Northern Powerhouse‘. Encapsulated in the FT report is the fact that Liverpool feels neglected once again – and where that city is concerned, understandably they may well feel that today was indeed a day when things definitely went from bad to Warsi.

Beside the FT, the Guardian has two articles here and here (the first making its author’s heart sink, the second detailing a Eurotunnel-style line – the so-dubbed HS3), while The Journal cites Osborne promising that he is ready to commit new money, new infrastructure, new transport and new science, along with real new civic power (whatever ‘real civic power’ means). The Manchester City Council  website provides a handy summary of the main points in the report together with supportive statements from local government leaders in Leeds, Sheffield, Newcastle and Liverpool. That summary can only be described as one hell of a shopping list – and no doubt has a price tag to go with it; with the Guardian proffering a price tag of £15bn. What will be interesting to see, in the years ahead, is whether the EU decides to ‘chip-in’ or whether the entire cost of yet another home grown ‘grand project’ falls on the taxpayer. (Oh and the timing of this project and Osborne’s promise has nothing to do with his party’s re-election prospects, natch. Presumably Osborne will deliver his Autumn Statement in the hope that it is not the Autumn of his hold on power).

Lest we forget, it should be remembered that ‘transport’ (in all its forms) is an EU competence, so we can presume our ‘pretend government’ has received the green light from our real government in Brussels. While it is understandable that the ports of Teeside, the Humber and Liverpool are ‘talked up’, it is necessary to remind ourselves that the EU has already published its 9 ‘core networks’ (scroll to map at bottom) – and the Humber and Teeside are not part of them. It also has to be pointed out that large sums of money have already been spent on Felixstowe and Southampton, upgrading rail freight lines (both of which meet at Nuneaton) and where Felixstowe is concerned, road networks, in order to provide ‘gateways’ to the continent (page 35). Backtracking (apols for any pun, which unintended), while on page 35, Liverpool should note the listed ‘upgrading and electrification’ with Manchester.

Reverting to George Osborne’spromise of ‘real civic power’, I am agog to know exactly that which he envisages. Are the people of the North to be offered the same opportunity as those in Switzerland where rail schemes are decided by those that would have to pay for them? For example, this particular project received a thumbs down in a referendum.

This latest pronouncement is another ‘one to watch’, methinks.

Update: Hear the man himself talking about his Northern Powerhouse’ here.

 

 

 

 

 


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Water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink

Those words,forming the heading to this article, are from The Rime of The Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge; and nowadays is used to describe a situation in which someone is in the midst of plenty but cannot partake of it. Substitute the word ‘water’ with ‘democracy’……… (but yet again I digress).

The European Commission has announced a ‘consultation‘ for the public and ‘stakeholders’ on the subject of water and its re-use; from which:

Water re-use is not widespread in Europe. Most wastewater from urban treatment plants is simply flushed out into rivers and lakes. But increasing re-use would help us respond to the increasing problems of water scarcity and drought, while reducing the risk of contamination from wastewater and lowering treatment costs. Re-use of water also has a lower environmental impact than getting it from other sources such as inter-regional water transfers or desalination.

In spite of these advantages and the considerable potential for further development, There are several reasons why the level of re-use is so low, including:

  • Lack of common EU environmental/health standards for water re-use

  • Potential obstacles to the free movement of agricultural products that were irrigated with re-used water

  • Inadequate water pricing and business models

  • Low stakeholder awareness about the benefits of water re-use

  • Lack of public acceptance

  • Technical barriers and scientific uncertainties

The European Commission is launching a public consultation on a range of possible EU measures that would encourage the re-use of treated wastewater. We want to know what citizens, stakeholders, businesses, NGOs and public authorities think about the potential of re-use and obstacles to it, and what kind of regulatory and non-regulatory EU measures could effectively address these concerns and increase the uptake of safe water re-use in the EU.

Before the ‘EU Fanatics’ pile in bemoaning yet more EU interference, it is necessary to follow the golden rule of tracing such intentions back to their source. That source, in this field, once again involves our old friend the United Nations Economic Council Europe (UNECE) and their ‘work’, with others, in this field – and in particular a paper with the title of: The Post 2015 Water Thematic Consultation, the background and beginnings of which can be found here.

In what can only be called a sop to democracy it will be noted that citizens are invited to put forward their views. It is indeed a sop as the only voices which will be heard will be those of stakeholders, NGOs, businesses and public authorities; and by giving weight to these bodies it just perpetuates the divide and rule method of EU governance whereby the voice of the people and their elected governments can be ignored. 

 When one considers that what is happening here, with the relationship between the European Union and global standard-setting bodies creating under our very noses a form of global governance, it really does become necessary to acknowledge a New World Order. With so much regulation having its origins in the United Nations one could be forgiven for asking not only why is the EU there, but why do we have national governments?

 


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2014
08/04

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David's Musings

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A News Round-Up (following a few days away)

Concentrating on ‘matters du jour’, a few initial comments on what can only be described as ‘media pap’.

1. Today we are inundated on ‘matters World War I’; and what each of us should be doing to commemorate the start of that particular conflict (lights out and a candle). This ‘gnashing of teeth’ is on a par with the faux ‘remembrance’ held each year on the second Sunday in November, which is the Sunday nearest to 11 November Armistice Day, People do not start wars between nations, politicians do.

Has any war been fought where the people who have to do the fighting been asked whether they are prepared to fight and possibly lose their lives? Yes, treaties have been signed wherein one country has been obligated to come to the aid of another should it be invaded; but when have the people, who would be required to uphold that treaty, been asked whether they agreed to said treaty?

As on Remembrance Sunday, so today we have politicians paying homage to those that lost their lives in a conflict that they, who lost their lives, had no input where the decision to fight was concerned. Where is democracy when one’s fellow man can decide whether another lives or dies?

Should not those whose lives are finite, have a voice in how their lives should end?

2. There would appear to be ‘a bit of a spat‘ brewing about the messages on wreaths that were laid in Glasgow. At a remembrance ceremony is it not the Head of State (Monarch or President) and Head of Government who should lay a token of remembrance on behalf of a nation? In which case why do we need the ‘bit-players’? If said ‘bit-players’ feel ‘hard-done-by’ because they may have been ‘out-manouevred’ by someone who has more say than they do, then why not arrange a private wreath-laying ceremony on which the damn card can say whatever they wish it to say?

3. We have been informed today that the tenure of Boris Johnson, as London Mayor, has been disastrous for women, according to a Labour report, one cited in the Evening Standard. The report in question cites a number of statistics, to which it is possible to throw into the discussion subjects such as immigration and zero hours? Not forgetting the opportunity of a politician to raise the question of gender – but I digress.

4. We have a comment on ConservativeHome about how some feel lukewarm in regard to the recent re-shuffle. This then begs the question that if we, the people, are allowed to choose those who are supposed to represent out views, then should we not also be allowed to choose those who would presume to ‘safeguard’ our country?

5. With respect to those who are supposed to reflect the views of the people, why should they be allowed to impose on us their views? Who the hell asked the learned doctor what she thought? Is she not supposed to pronounce on the views of those whose views she is elected to represent?

6. Isabel Hardman writes about the latest ‘outpouring’ of Boris Johnson and a report he has commissioned, adding to the view that Cameron is becoming more to being a proponent of ‘Brxit’ and quoting the appointment of Philip Hammond as foreign secretary adding to that view; Hammond being portrayed as a eurosceptic. Hammond is no more eurosceptic than is Nick Clegg because both are career politicians and both will swallow their principles and beliefs if it means personal power and position. Where the views of Boris Johnson are concerned, I can only suggest readers read this view of that. It would seem that Boris has more than one ‘fantasy island‘ in mind.

That the foregoing but demonstrates that two section of society can feed of a common menu; to the detriment of a third and more important element of that same society; then begs the question just where is there any element of democracy?

Just asking………………………………..

 


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Swistzerland vs European Union & Others: Collision Course?

Yesterday was Swiss National Day and as a precursor to that event Didier Burkhalter, Swiss president, chose the eve of that day to announce that the Swiss people would need to vote yet again on the question of their country’s relationship with the European Union.

Ever since the Swiss people decided last February to limit immigration from the European Union and the latter’s refusal to negotiate one of the Four Freedoms, namely the free movement of people, it was obvious that Swiss politicians would be attempting the impossible; ie, to ‘square a circle’.

Interestingly Open Europe reports that the decision not to negotiate was apparently reached by unanimity amongst EU governments, meaning that the UK opposed allowing the Swiss to ‘renegotiate’. If this unanimity is correct, then David Cameron is supposedly agreeing to deny the Swiss the same right he wishes for the United Kingdom – an intriguing position to adopt and one which will no doubt come back to haunt him.

It is not just the relationship with the European Union with which the Swiss people may have to contend but also the fact that the Swiss People’s Party is calling for a people’s initiative, saying that “democratically legitimised Swiss law” should take precedent over international law, despite the constitution stating the opposite.

Add in potential fears about the transatlantic Trade and Investment partnership Agreement (TTIP) and the possible ramifications, it becomes clear that this probable Swiss referendum will be a heated affair, to say the least.

Just who will blink first?


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Far from the maddening truth

I note that Ed Miliband has come out with what one might term ‘weird and wonderful truths’ in respect of ways in which to ‘revitalise’ our rail system.

Yet again we find Miliband being completely blind to the ‘user pays’ principle, something about which I have written previously, the latest being this article. In common with the political class in general, Miliband thus chooses to ignore the constraints imposed by the European Union on the UK’s transport policy.

Another example of being economical with the actualité is the subject of Crossrail, which is being sold to us as a ‘UK Innovation’ when it is in fact part of the TEN-T ‘core-network’ project (more on this in the immediate days ahead). Crossrail is heralded as the saviour of cross-London travel, the line running from Shenfield, in Essex, to Heathrow.

 1-Crossrail-Central-section-route-03-03-ART

(click to enlarge)

One has to ask what earthly use is this line to those in the North of England (Manchester or Newcastle) who will not travel by train to London(an hour or two), then take the Circle Line to Paddington, followed by a 26 minute journey to Heathrow – when they can board a plane direct to Heathrow with a flight time of about 20/30 minutes?

Which kind of leaves Miliband’s idea of devolving decisions over the running of regional and local services so that areas can bring together trains, buses, trams into a single network in what might be termed: tatters?

More on the EU’s plans for’ transport’, where the UK is concerned, in the next 2/3 days – stay tuned, please?


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2014
07/29

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David's Musings

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There’s none so blind as those that cannot see

Round like a circle in a spiral, like a wheel within a wheel
Never ending or beginning on an ever spinning reel

Windmills of your mind

Andy Silvester writes on Coffee House about David Ruffley and his ‘troubles’; also citing Mercer, Hancock and Miller, using these examples for a ‘proper’ re-call bill for errant Members of Parliament. Highlighting the fact that in all the approbation that Ruffley’s decision to stand down at the next general election has incurred, the one section whose voice has not been heard is that of his constituents.

Silvester writes about a stable democracy – yet the only thing stable about our present system of democracy is that the horse (democracy) has long since bolted; even if it was ever there in the first place. It never ceases to amaze me that we get article after article calling for devolution of power to the people – we even have politicians jumping on this bandwagon – when devolving power to the people is the complete antithesis of representative democracy – the two are but ‘chalk and cheese’.

This post reminds me of this article in the Guardian – just how can democracy exist; and here we need to remember the derivation of the word ‘democracy’; if that present system under which we are governed allows an ex-MP to stand again when they have been found guilty of malfeasance and presumably lost their seat as a result.

Was that the reason Joan Ryan lost her seat to Nick de Bois at the 2010 General Election? Or was it purely because the electorate in Enfield North had turned against the Labour Party? Is the electorate so fickle that they because they now feel ‘shafted’ by the Coalition – and the main element of that coalition, the Conservative Party – they will re-elect Joan Ryan?

If it is accepted that representative democracy is the only form of democracy, where is there one element of democracy per se when those selected to represent a constituency are not chosen by said constituents, but by a ‘party machine’?

We are continually informed that there is a great divide twixt politicians and those that they are supposed to represent, so when will the people realise that there is another way whereby they can control those they elect and fund?

When will the penny drop?


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2014
07/28

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An observation (or two)

We are informed by The Times that millions are shut out of doctor’s surgeries – to which one can only ask: really? Where my local GP practice is concerned those whose appointment is not urgent have said so at the time of booking their appointment and are seen within a week – those who have felt unwell have been offered an appointment within an hour.

If there is a problem in this regard perhaps unfettered immigration might be a cause – on the other hand. it could be that those complaining are those too lazy to get off their arse not only to look for work but also believe it is the responsibility of their GP to visit them at home?

Yvette Cooper, Shadow Home Secretary, is calling for domestic violence to be made a specific offence as against what she perceives as a ‘slap on the wrist’ offence it currently is under the present government. As someone working in this field remarked to me on hearing this: so a victim is going to promptly put the source of their income behind bars? No one will deny that violence perpetrated against women is distasteful, but then what woman with children would make her children suffer financially through no fault of their own?

This move by Yvette Cooper is but blatant electioneering because if she is so concerned about the subject, why is she not similarly concerned about violence by women against men? Another Pandora’s Box – aka a can of worms – opened by our unthinking political class due to the fact they have not thought things through, but gone instead for the sound-bite policy?

More importantly, just what the hell business is either of these two matters that of central government? Pass the problem to us, chaps (or chapesses) – we’ll soon sort it out at minuscule cost.

 


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2014
07/27

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David's Musings

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More tinkering with democracy

Ed Miliband has announced that he wishes to introduce a Public Prime Minister Questions (PPMQs) with a view to letting the public in to our politics.

When politicians complain about the gulf twixt the political class and the public, the phrase Ed Miliband chose to use says it all; namely that in which our political class indulge has nothing to do with the electorate and by inference the electorate is considered a necessary evil that politicians would banish if only they could.

Who would gain entrance and how? Who would ensure that the audience was indeed ‘balanced’? Who would decide what questions would be asked? Who would decide what type of questions would be permitted?

This is but another attempt to mend that which cannot be mended – representative democracy which is long past its sell-by-date. Any question on the topics of Democracy, European Union, Foreign Aid etc would be about as welcome as one asking a politician to admit he/she was a prat. Were such a question posed, all that would result in any response would just be platitudinous in content – nothing would change.

I am only too aware that when I meet David Cameron on 15th August I know damn well that although my questions are pertinent, no response, acknowledgement or tacit admission that I am right will be forthcoming. 

A few days ago there was the suggestion by James Forsyth, on Coffee House Blogs, that a separation of powers twixt Executive and Legislature would reinvigorate Parliament. Even if, by some miracle, that was introduced, just what difference would it make while Parliament is no longer sovereign and thus no longer the ‘master’ of the UK?

Both Miliband’s idea and that of James Forsyth are meaningless while we the people remain under the thumb of our political class; in other words, while the political class remain the masters and the people their servants. Until politicians of all hues actually do that which Cameron promised his government would , on assuming office (but has not), then the status quo remains.

That speech by Cameron is no different to the suggestion of Ed Miliband – they talk the talk but never do they walk the walk. We the people who vote for them and provide them with their careers, need to reclaim that which is ours – our country – and if this takes ‘feet on streets’, then so be it.

 


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Confusion

On Wednesday I caught sight of a tweet asking for signatures to this petition, with the plea it should be signed: to withdraw from the EU using article 50 before QMV takes effect on 1st Nov 2014.

What I cannot understand is the conflation of QMV with Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty on European Union (TEU). For the avoidance of doubt, once Article 50 has been invoked there is no vote on whether a member state can or cannot cease its membership of the European Union. It is a given that after two years, whether the European Union likes it or not and whether a new trading agreement has been agreed or not, that member state is then no longer part of the European Union – end of story!

That the date of 1st November has suddenly become important is also a matter of confusion where this blog is concerned. Where the matters affected by QMV – and mentioned in the linked petition – are concerned; they have been available for all to see since the signing of the Lisbon Treaty on 1st December 2009. What has changed is that it is now necessary for a ‘double majority’ to be achieved under Article 16 of the consolidated treaty,

It should also be noted that the 40+ items listed in the linked petition in no way affect Cameron’s ability to renegotiate the UK’s membership of the European Union – as there is no ability to renegotiate anything without invoking Article 50. The word ‘renegotiation’ does not appear anywhere in the Lisbon Treaty – and in any case, the European Commission has made it plain, on more than one occasion, that the ‘four freedoms’ are not up for renegotiation or ‘cherry picking’.

Neither is QMV involved in any new treaty as agreement to such is subject to unanimity among the other 27 member states – in other words they all have to agree to any new treaty and should one member state wish to veto it, they can.

All the foregoing has been spelled out clearly and in plain English here, here and here - just what is it about the English language that those who profess to read and understand it cannot comprehend?

It is impossible not to praise the enthusiasm of those who wish to ‘do their bit’ in promoting efforts to hasten the UK’s exit from the European Union – but one has to question what appears to be a rather infantile method of going about it. It does no good to the withdrawal cause, nor whatever party they support, nor themselves, to propose what can only be termed ‘rubbish causes’. At the end of the day such ‘rubbish’ only serves to ridicule the ‘exit cause’ and themselves.

Also one can but suggest to those of whom I complain that (a) they practise due diligence prior to issuing statements and; (b) that if they are unsure of their facts they approach those of us who may be able to help and thus avoid them making fools of themselves.

It is not my intention in writing that which I have to be discourteous to others, however hopefully they will appreciate that at times my frustration at that which I read causes a certain amount of impatience on my part.

 

 

 

 


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