Political punditry and ‘heads in sand’

There are a number of articles in today’s papers on the subject of Farage vs Clegg and ‘Europe’. We have Janet Daley in the Sunday Telegraph; Andrew Rawnsley in the Observer; David Davis in the Sunday Mail; Matthew d’Ancona in the Telegraph – and from yesterday Mark Littlewood in the Daily Mail, coupled with an article by David Green in the Telegraph.

Daley writes about the fact that she sees the political class mired in delusion and suffering from self-deception while also maintaining that the Farage/Clegg debate raised the question of who actually speaks for the people of Britain. She also believes the political class exist in an incestuous, self-referring universe of Westminster professionals. There are some who consider Farage to be apart from the politcal class; a man of the people, one of us and therefore a good chap – however as Rawnsley points out in his article Farage is also a professional politician.

Davis writes about the need to withdraw from the European Union, but has no exit strategy; d’Ancona produces his usual weekend drivel, so the least said about him the better. Littlewood writes about the personal standing of Clegg within the Liberal Democrat Party following his perceived drubbing by Farage, in the process mentioning the Brexit competition that the Institute of Economic Affairs – of which Littlewood is Director General – are holding; the result of which will see the winner of that competition being announced on Tuesday this week. Littlewood maintains that the question isn’t whether we should trade with Europe or not, it’s whether the deal we want with Europe is as part of a free-trade area or the much more intense relationship of a single market – and digressing slightly, this confirms the suspicion that the winning entry of the IEA Brexit competition will be one based solely on economic arguments.

David Green, on the other hand, has what may be considered a thoughtful article in that he mentions the one word that is missing from all the other articles to which I link – namely ‘democracy’. Unfortunately Green misses the point where he writes that the EU is bad for democracy because it is a power grab that seeks to take control away from nations and that account­ability under a liberal constitution has successfully contained the abuse of power in Britain. While Green is undoubtedly correct in his first assertion, he most definitely is not with his second, especially when we have witnessed instances of personal venality by politicians coupled with the passing of restrictive laws on which the electorate have had no voice. Writing that the liberal constitution (as he sees it) has been unashamedly individualistic, that the freedom sought by indiv­id­uals was not merely to be released from con­straints but the ability to take responsibility for our own lives, he appears to fail to notice that it is not just the EU that has made a power grab – so have our politicians by their refusal to let us lead our own lives.

Whether this country remains a member of the EU or leaves to become what is laughingly termed a self-governing country, one practicing representative democracy, it will never provide the people with day-to-day control of their political class. For people to reclaim the ability to take control of their own lives then a complete revolution is required with the system of democracy under which we live.

While it would be illogical to expect any political party (and that includes Ukip) to question our current system of democracy; one under which they, the political class, have and dispense the power – and which places them above us; is it asking too much of those that practice the art of political punditry to recognise and confront a subject that is right under their nose?

As one gets older, progress in matters of science, electronics, technology and the like becomes baffling and one fondly thinks back to the days when life was ‘simpler’ and thus uncomplicated. Yes, there is a price to be paid for progress and progress does affect how our lives are lived, but should progress affect and/or alter a country’s society, traditions and nationalism? 

When, both economically and socially, considering the ‘progress’ inflicted upon us by the political class, who actually voted for any of it? No matter where one looks, be it immigration, energy provision, waste disposal methods, war and the subsequent loss of lives in the armed forces, utility provision or levels of taxation; who actually voted for the measures that have been taken?

It must be obvious that we are on the wrong road to make any progress in righting the wrongs that have been imposed on us and on our country. We all want progress but progress means getting to the point where we want to be – and where we are at the moment most definitely is not where we want to be. Terrible things have been done to our country by decisions that have been made by our political class on the basis that progress demanded them. Progress did not demand them, the political class demanded them based on certain ideologies that held sway at that particular time.

There can never be true democracy when people’s lives are directed by a chosen few over whom the people have no day-to-day control. There can never be true democracy when people and their country are directed down a road along which they do not wish to proceed – but are forced so to do.


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2014
04/04

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Schaffhausen: Right or Wrong?

Jutting out into Germany, Schaffhausen is Switzerland’s most northerly canton. It also has another claim to fame: it’s the only canton in Switzerland – and one of a small number of places in the world – where you will be fined for not voting.

Source

It will be noticed from that article that the proponents of compulsory voting maintain that this requirement instills in each member of the electorate a sense of having a civic duty. It will also be noted that the turnout in the canton of Schaffhausen is 15%/20% higher than elsewhere in Switzerland where the average is almost 60%.

What is not stated is the fact that, because it is so readily understood by the Swiss electorate unlike this country where we are unable to counter the decisions made by our ‘elected representatives’, the Swiss electorate have the ability to, in effect, ‘ bring to a grinding halt’ any decision made by their political class with which they disagree.

That ability, in itself, promotes a civic duty to exercise their right and ability to hold their politicians to account, to take an interest not only in their own locale, but in their country. It will not have escaped the attention of readers that the Swiss electorate have the right to decide how much of their taxes should be spent on the purchase of new aircraft for the defence of their country – would that we had the right to question whether the amount spent on foreign aid, at the behest of our political class, should not be spent on the defence of our nation.

The electorate in the United Kingdom seem to spend an inordinate amount of time complaining about that which our political class do and enact – when will they recognise that a cure to their complaint(s) lies in their own hands?

Just asking…………………………………

 


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2014
04/03

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Clegg vs Farage (Round 2)

I thought I would let the dust settle on the latest head-to-head twixt Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage before putting my two-pennyworth forward for consideration. For those who did not watch or who would like to refresh their memories:

It cannot be denied that Farage has an ‘appeal factor’ – he is not an Oxbridge-career-politician-who-has-never-had-a-real-job, he presents an image of being-one-of-us and projects an ability whereby he seems to be able to talk to us as one of us – and thus it could be said he has ‘charisma’.

That is on the plus side – unfortunately where he is found most wanting is in his inability to concentrate on important detail and to recognise an open goal when presented with one. 

In the debate last night Clegg raised the tired old canard about Norway being governed by fax – yet Farage could have killed Clegg’s argument stone dead by pointing out that, for example, Norway has no vehicle industry but sits on the United Nations body (UNECE) that decides such matters as the size of wing mirrors on vehicles, having a voice in the formation of such global rules while the United Kingdom, with a sizeable vehicle industry, has no voice whatsoever, being subservient to the European Union which speaks for all 28 Member States. Farage could also have made the point that far from being governed by fax, Norway is in the position of already knowing what ‘rules’ the EU is about to bring in having already had a voice in their formation. Farage could also have made the point that Norway can refuse to implement any EU ‘law’ – as they did with the 3rd Postal Directive, ie Norway has the power of veto, which the United Kingdom does not possess.

While Bagehot reckons that Farage is all ‘piss and wind’ (apologies for the use of the vernacular and needless to say I paraphrase); Janet Daley reckons that he has ensured the British public will no longer accept a cosmetic fudge of any new terms: their awareness of what is at stake in our present relationship with EU institutions will be heightened by Farage. If only that were true.

What is missing in this entire debate on the UK’s membership of the European Union are the two matters of ‘sovereignty’ and ‘democracy’ ,at least where the MSM is concerned – and, also unfortunately, where the political class are concerned: including Farage. For sure, Farage prattles on about the need for the British people to have the ability to govern themselves – but seeks not to discuss how that should be done. In that respect Farage is no different to those he castigates in that he is a firm advocate of parliamentary democracy and the system of representative democracy. If Farage is to present himself and his party as ‘the alternative’ then the question has to be put to him as to where is the alternative twixt the present political class and his political class; to which the answer can only be: none – they both wish to govern us and thus view us as no better than serfs.

It is good to see that the ‘penny has finally dropped‘ with The Harrogate Agenda  that the change they wish to see in  our democracy viz-a-viz membership of the European Union are so entwined as to be inseparable. That that realisation is most admirable does however present another problem – namely how to make that message resonate and become ingrained in the British ‘psyche’. It is here that I have to return to the point I made in this post- added to which the ‘message’ of the ‘Out’ campaign is disparate; it has no central ‘message’. When considering that those such as Better Off Out appear to be content campaigning for the cessation of the UK’s membership of the EU, they offer no alternative to the status quo – in other words they fail to tackle the subjects of ‘sovereignty’ and ‘democracy’. Witness the fact that one of the finalists of the IEA/Brexit competition is one Rory Broomfield - a director of Better Off Out and The Freedom Association – in a competition that is obviously skewed to ‘reasons economic’ for cessation of the UK’s membership of the EU – and which is totally ignoring matters of sovereignty and democracy (hence the exclusion of the submission by Richard North?).

It would appear that Nigel Farage, fresh from his triumph over Nick Clegg, is ‘cashing in’ on same with a live phone-in for Telegraph readers at 1pm tomorrow. You can watch Phone Farage live here. To take part, email phonefarage@telegraph.co.uk with your question. One can only hope he manages to ‘up his game’?

So why is it that those involved in a campaign, one with a single aim, are unable to understand – and accept – what is the ‘core’ reason for said campaign? Are we talking ‘egos’ here – and if so, do not a few heads need to be gently ‘banged together’? When the voice of any campaign is ‘splintered’, it is doomed to fail – which can only mean that any referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU is as good as lost before it has begun.

Just a few thoughts…………………………………..

Update: And another open goal Farage missed - Leon Clifford reminds us that Farage’s comment about the need for another Manchester was also not hitting the point – we will in time not need another Manchester – rather more space akin to Belgium.

 


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2014
04/02

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The ‘People’? What do the ‘People’ know?

On a state visit to Switzerland the German President criticised the Swiss system of direct democracy, reportedly stating that it is ‘dangerous when citizens vote on highly complex issues” in reference to the decision by the Swiss in February to curb immigration.

In that statement we see illustrated the mindset of the political class who believe that only they have the right and ability to decide what is most beneficial for their fellow man. The German President, Joachim Gauck, in common with the political class seems to have overlooked the fact that the country in which they hold Office is not theirs to do with as they wish; that they hold Office purely because the people allow them so to do; coupled with another fact, namely that they are but paid servants of the people.

There is an old proverb: He who pays the piper calls the tune – meaning that he who pays for a service can dictate how that service is performed. For the political class to limit the right of those who provide the means whereby they, said political class, exist is but to return the people to a state of serfdom. How can any form of democracy be democracy if it puts constraints on the people, said constraints ones that the people cannot question, let alone overturn?

As the United Kingdom faces penury with a reported debt of over £1trillion – and increasing; as political manifestos are now acknowledged to be not worth the paper on which they are written; as the General Election of 2005 reportedly cost in excess of £80million – why don’t we let the political class flip a coin and decide among themselves whose turn it is to act as our dictator?

Readers may feel this to be a flippant article; but hey, the British people treat the subject of democracy with flippancy – do I not have the same rights as my fellow man?

Update/afterthought: James Kirkup has a blogpost following up comments in his ‘Telegraph Evening Briefing’ about the Conservative problems in the South Ribble constituency. It is worth quoting one comment to that article by John Brindle:

Our representative democracy is supposed to be just that – representative of the people in the constituencies. The democratic, representative element is lost when the parties send in their own hand-picked yes-men or women who have no local allegiance to their voters and are guaranteed to follow the party line without question. That isn’t democracy – it is top-down control with very strong similarities to communist power structures and all parties are equally guilty of it.

If we want our democracy back, we need to ensure that only local people with lifelong interest in their own constituencies are chosen. What we have now is anti-democratic.

What this comment illustrates is the view of someone who, having identified a problem with our present system of democracy, promptly then fails to identify a cure but appears to accept that tinkering with the present system would cure all the ills of a system about which he complains – while also exhibiting no understanding of the meaning and derivation of the word ‘democracy’.

All one can say in response is that if John Brindle’s view is an example of how the British people think, then haven’t the political class – aided and abetted by a compliant, sycophantic, media -done their job well?


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Is not what is sauce for the goose, sauce for for the gander?

If, as Hamish Macdonell maintains, there has been enough complacency, enough bitching and the No camp needs to fight to save the Union, then cannot the same be said about the campaign to extricate the UK Union from the clutches of the European Union?

To paraphrase Macdonell, have not the ‘Outers’ in the EU membership debate been complacent? Many in the ‘Outers’ seem to have forgotten what this question means to the ‘Inners’. The ‘Outers’ seem to have forgotten that continued membership of the European Union is all that the ‘Inners’ care about – ‘Inners’ have been working for their dream all their lives and as such they are believers and not evangelists.

Where membership of the European Union is concerned, the various organisations in the ‘No’ campaign are at odds with each other – their message may be the same but it is uncoordinated; consequently their message is disparate. ‘Outers’ need to become evangelists!

If the ‘No’ campaign is to succeed does not someone, somewhere, need to do a ‘Bridgen‘?

Just a thought…………………..


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2014
04/01

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Similarities

ConservativeHome is of the opinion that Nigel Farage and Dmitry Medvedev are similar in appearance.

Medvedev-Farage-300x181

To which one could also offer the same suggestion where Stephen Kinnock and Dan Hannan are concerned?

Stephen Kinnock and his wife, the Danish prime minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt

DanHannan

It is also worth noting that both will be elected as a result of party placement where their respective candidacies are concerned – one in 2014 and the other in 2015.

All four believe in democracy – but democracy on their terms.

And politicians are not all the same?

Hasta la vista until El Revolucion!*

* Revolutions are about people power in motion; the flux of socio-economic trends that uproot tyrannies and replace them with democracies.

 


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Ask and ye shall receive (not) (4)

Continuing the on-going saga over the matter of whether or not the President of the Council swears an oath, in response to my last email  the following has been received (the previous posts, in chronological order, can be read here, here and here):

We acknowledge receipt of your new message of 17/03/2014 to the General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union.

It is indeed foreseen in Article 245, second subparagraph, of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) that the Members of the Commission shall give a solemn undertaking to respect, both during and after their term of office, the obligations arising from their duties and in particular the duty to behave with integrity and discretion as regards the acceptance, after they have ceased to hold office, of certain appointments or benefits. Those are obligations deriving directly from the Treaties, cf. Article 17 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) and Article 245 TFEU. Any breach of those obligations may lead to compulsory retirement or deprival of pension rights or other benefits in accordance with the procedures foreseen in the Treaty (i.e. decision by the Court of Justice on application by the Council or the Commission). In that respect it is noted that the solemn declaration is traditionally made before the European Court of Justice.

As regards the President of the European Council, his role and responsibilities are defined in Article 15 TEU. Reference is also made to Articles 235 and 236 TFEU which relate to the European Council as an institution. The Treaties do not foresee that the President of the European Council shall give a solemn undertaking. It goes without saying that this has no impact on his legal obligation to carry out his duties in full respect of the obligations arising therefrom. The Treaty provides that the European Council may end the term of office of the President of the European Council in the event of an impediment or serious misconduct.

As matters have not progressed to the point that a satisfactory response has been received, the following has been sent:

I refer to your latest email, in what is becoming a long-running saga, on the question of whether or not the President of the Council swears an oath on taking office.

First, I am a tad bemused by the fact that in your email of 11th March you referred me to the European Commission in respect of the President of that body, yet in this latest email you provide the information originally requested. This begs the question of why the referral was made in the first place, when you could have answered the question – but I digress.

I have referred to Articles 15 and 17 TEU and Articles 235, 236 and 245 TFEU. It would appear that both the President of the Commission and the President of the Council are under similar obligations – yet the former is required to swear an oath while the latter is not.

It is also noted that you revert to the word ‘foresee’ in your latest response. I was under the impression that the use of this word had been ‘put to bed’ as nothing more than obfuscation on your part. So why do you raise it again?

To repeat my earlier question, why is it required of one President to swear an oath and not the other? Do they not both hold the title of President and are they therefore not of equal standing and with equal responsibilities and obligations? You state: ‘It goes without saying that this has no impact on his legal obligation to carry out his duties in full respect of the obligations arising therefrom’ [sic]. If he, the President of the Council, has not sworn an oath, then how can he have a legal obligation? Unless of course his contract of employment specifies such an obligation, in which case perhaps that portion of his contract of employment can be made public? He, along with every other EU employee, does have a contract of employment?

The basic question is one of simplicity; namely what is the legal difference in their respective positions that requires one to swear an oath but not the other? Coupled to that basic question allow, me to add another; namely why are the treaties so worded as to require one to swear an oath but not the other?

In conclusion, a plea. To use a quaint English expression, will you please stop ‘faffing around’ and just answer the questions?

Kind regards,

It really is a simple question, yet to get an answer is akin to extracting blood from a stone. On a lighter note – and to paraphrase Groucho Marx – if they don’t like those questions, I have others.


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A new Magna Carta?

An article has appeared in the Telegraph with the tag line ‘History’, authored by David Thomas, in which a plea is made to Her Majesty for a new Magna Carta.

This article is, to a certain extent, humourous and does, it has to be admitted, contain a few ‘home truths’. Consequently, it will no doubt resonate with that section of our society who are  unable to see beyond the end of their nose.

Just how many of that receptive audience will question just why it is so much of that which the article complains is the prerogative  of just 650 members of our society – when it should be in their hands? Just how many of that receptive audience will realise that we do not need an English Parliament – or a Scottish Parliament, or a Welsh Assembly?

Sheep are considered to be dumb because of their strong instinct to flock and their inability to act independently of each other. It would appear that studies have been conducted relating to the intelligence of sheep, and it is believed that they may actually be quite intelligent animals.

Sheep: do not allow yourselves to be labelled dumb and brainless – may I introduce you to the British people?

 


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2014
03/31

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Lies, Damned Lies – and Statistics

At long last the tired meme that 3 million jobs depend on the UK’s membership of the EU has been laid to rest – only because it is now reported that the  Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) has concluded that the figure has climbed by around a quarter to 4.2 million jobs, or more than 13 per cent of the national workforce, with 3.1 million jobs directly supported by  sales to EU markets as well as another 1.1 million which are indirectly supported.

The report cites Richard Ottaway stating that the benefits of membership exceed the downside; Frances O’Grady, the TUC’s general secretary, stating that one in seven British jobs already depend on trade with the rest of the EU; and Malcolm Rifkind stating that while Britain could have access to the market outside the EU it would be at a heavy price, which would make it “pretty dumb” to leave  the union. 

At the same time we are informed that a report by Civitas finds that the clout Britain gets from being in the European Union is a myth.

Not to be left out of the mix is an article by Chris Huhne in the Guardian, an article which can only be summed up as one that is nothing but patronising, hyprocritical hyperbole – and thus bears no resemblance to the truth nor the facts.

Where truth and fact are concerned one cannot but also refer to the report released today by the IPCC on climate change – and on which Leon Clifford passes judgement; ending his article with the plea that it  is time our politicians leveled with the public.

There lies the problem where the British public are concerned – our politicians never will level with the public as they have their own agendas to follow – aided and abetted by a sycophantic, parroting media class. Matters are not helped when the one party that should be setting out the truth and facts – and thus leveling with the public – lamentably fail to so do; witness this poor document, which has more holes in it than a colander.

What ever happened to a free and independent media? What ever happened to honourable politicians who are supposed to represent the views of those that elect them?

More importantly, whatever happened to the people of this country who now seem content to leave the salvation to all their ills in the hands of the creatively maladjusted?

 

 

 

 


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2014
03/30

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The right message is not being conveyed.

There will really be only two contestants in the next general election: the political class and the people. And by the “political class”, I mean the entire operation that runs, manipulates and communicates the activities of government. That conglomeration of politicians and their special interest lobbies, media followers and professional handlers is now more self-referring, inbred and profoundly detached from the reality of most people’s lives than at any time in a generation.

Source 

So writes Janet Daley in her article which appears in today’s Sunday Telegraph, an article with the headline: The people feel ignored – and they are angry; and a sub-heading: Not one leader of a major party has a true connection with ordinary folk. This is dangerous. Daley continues by maintaining, where the EU is concerned, that:  It has actually institutionalised contempt for public opinion by making the democratic will irrelevant. She ends her article by repeating that the people are angry at being ignored; that anyone who speaks for them is permitted to get visibly annoyed on their behalf; and that such people have the remedy to teach the political class a lesson by voting for Farage.

In his regular Sunday Telegraph column Christopher Booker devotes space to castigate Clegg for raising the 3 million jobs meme, while also blaming Farage for not having made the point that full membership of the EU is not necessary in order to trade with them. We also find Matthew d’Ancona weighing into the Clegg/Farage theatre with an article the content of which is not even worthy of comment on this blog.

In all the words expended on Clegg vs Farage and the question of the EU and our membership of that body I find it incomprehensibile that the words ‘democracy’ and ‘sovereignty’ are most noticeable by their absence.  As I have many times asked on this blog: what is the point in reclaiming power from the European Union, only to hand it to another set of dictators, albeit ones elected?

If Daley believes that the EU has institutionalised contempt for public opinion by making the democratic will irrelevant, is that not what our own political class have managed to do in this country? Just what is the point in showing contempt for the bigger three parties by voting for another political party that also believes in a failed system of democracy and thus would continue to govern the country using that same form of dictatorship?

Far be it for me to cross swords with someone for whom I have great admiration, but it must be said that I was greatly disappointed in the content of Booker’s column this week. It is all very well pushing the Article 50 meme as the only means by which this country can extricate itself from the clutches of the EU – but not if, having extricated ourselves, the underlying cause of the people’s anger is not addressed.

Daley is undoubtedly correct to maintain the people are angry – they are; they are angry that their opinions continue to be ignored by those they elect to supposedly represent their views. They are angry that it is becoming clearer to them that it matters not for which party they vote, nothing seems to change; in effect they are angry at being ‘side-lined’ – and not just on matters EU. Unfortunately the people have not yet realised that if a ‘tried and trusted’ system is found to be wanting then it requires change – and radical change at that; that there is a better way.

I would suggest that the time has come to combine the argument about cessation of EU membership and a change to our system of democracy – they are intertwined to a point where it is becoming impossible to separate either. There are those that maintain they are separate problems; that first we cease our membership of the EU and then campaign for a change in our system of democracy –  a strategy, I would suggest, being one that is a tad short-sighted.

Why is time and effort being wasted when an excellent opportunity exists to cash in on public discontent?

 

 


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