Suggesting the impossible (2)

On the 1st of this month I wrote about an article authored by Daniel Hannan which appeared on his Telegraph blog. In this article he offered 9 points that he felt David Cameron should bring back from his renegotiation process. Following that article Hannan gave a talk for a cokmbined audience of the 1900 Club and the Centre for Policy studies, the video of which follows.

I post this video for the interest of readers although it is just, basically, a rehash of his blog article. He speaks for just over 30 minutes followed by a Q&A session of roughly the same length, with questions from, among others, Rory Broomfield and Archie Hamilton.

It remains a source of amusement to me that there appears to be three subjects virtually guaranteed to bring forth coruscation; namely criticism of Daniel Hannan, Ukip and/or Nigel Farage. These acolytes will not countenance any word of criticism about their heroes or party.

One such acolyte is Kathy Gyngell, an ‘experts’ of the Centre for Policy Studies and also co-editor of The Conservative Women. She has written a piece for Camaign for an Independent Britain in which she waxes lyrical about Daniel Hannan and his vision for life outside the European Union.

Besides repeating his mantra about the repeal of Sections 2 & 3 of ECA1972, Hannan maintains that all his 9 points could be achieved without treaty change. It cannot be said often enough that Hannan’s 9 points are unachievable without treaty change as they undermine the basic tenets of the EU’s entire raison d’etre.

The level of ignorance among the general public about ‘matters EU’ is understandable as not one has been explained to them by those who consider themselves qualified to do the explaining.  What is frightening is the apparent lack of ignorance among those providing the British people with information – albeit that one could argue they are well aware of the true facts but deliberately go out of their way to mislead.

If anyone is looking for evidence that those doing the explaining know squat-diddly then it is only necessary to look at the ‘final’ six submissions to the IEA Brexit Competition, plus that of David Campbell Bannerman, whose submission did not make the final cut – yet Campbell Bannerman would have us believe that his submission is ‘making waves’ within the EU elite who, he assures us, are very interested in his ideas.

An aspect of the debate about our membership of the European Union that is really worrying is the point that virtually all the ‘informers’ talk about leaving the European Union yet, to my knowledge, not one of them has actually produced a detailed exit plan. It is also a fact that not one of them is prepared to discuss, or debate, the one detailed exit plan that has been produced – namely Flexcit. It is impossible that those informing us about ‘matters EU’ are not aware of the existence of Flexcit – and the fact they will not even mention its existence speaks volumes.

Another matter that speaks volumes is that eight weeks have now elapsed since I presented David Cameron, my Member of Parliament, with what I considered a reasonably detailed dossier in which I accused him of being economical with the actualité on ‘matters EU’. Now I am fully aware that he has had other matters on his mind, such as Clacton, Heywood & Middleton, his birthday, besides a small fracas in the Iraq/Syria region; however I have now been forced to email him direct to suggest that he may wish to extract his digit (or words to that effect).

Why is it that one gets the feeling that on just about everything – especially on matters EU – that the great and the good are intent on doing a Maud on us?


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2014
10/10

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David's Musings

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What detail?

Freud’s observation about the narcissism of small differences could have been made about Britain’s political class and its media, whose collective fixation on detail is notable and baffling…. (Emphasis mine)

So writes James Kirkup on his Telegraph blog, to which all one can say is: if only – because the one thing our political parties (all of them that is) and the media do not do, is detail.

In his acceptance speech Carswell said: I answer first, foremost and last to you, you are my boss, I will not let you down. The point that he answers to his electorate is true, but he only has to undergo that on the occasion of a general election; outside of those times Carswell can say and do as he pleases – technically his electorate is not his boss as, unlike most bosses, his electorate cannot fire him at the time he does something that his electorate disagree with. Consequently it then becomes hypocritical of him to cite John Wycliffe, the 14th century translator of the Bible and Roman Catholic dissident. He said that Wycliffe first used the words “government of the people, by the people, for the people” which was famously adopted by Abraham Lincoln in his Gettysburg Address. The one thing that we do not have presently is government of the people, by the people, for the people. What we do have is a form of democratised dictatorship because between elections a Member of Parliament, or a government, can do and say what they damn well please as the people have no control over them.

No mention of that small detail have I seen in the media, or by an politician, today – odd that.

Both prior to these two by-elections – and afterwards – we have the Conservative Party proclaiming that if the electorate vote Ukip they are in fact voting for – and will get – a Miliband government. Not strictly true, as if sufficient people vote Ukip then they will get a Ukip government (heaven forbid, but I digress), will they not?

No mention of that small detail have I seen in the media, or by any politician, today – odd that.

The Labour Party proclaim that Ukip are more Tory than the Tories – a statement that is laughable because how can one party be more like a party that is no longer in the contest. Were a Tory Party to exist then Labour’s complaint would be negated as they would no doubt be so far behind in opinion polls that any general election would be a foregone conclusion.

No mention of that small detail have I seen in the media, or by any politician, today – odd that.

Within the media we have John McTernan proclaiming that his party must listen; Iain Duncan Smith proclaiming his party must pay attention to voters; and Diane Abbott proclaiming that addressing traditional Labour voters’ real self-interest is the way forward. Just what exactly do those three statements mean? They are mere soundbites designed to capture headlines, no more no less; and not one of them will be actioned by their respective parties. The one glaring omission where soundbites are concerned – and which I have not seen today – is that lessons will be learnt; another meaningless soundbite because they never are.

No mention of that small detail have I seen in the media, or by any politician, today – odd that.

Comment after comment is being passed by political commentators and analysts about how – and the reasons why – the electorate voted as they did; and who can blame the electorate when they are in what is definitely a state of ignorance due to their not being in possession of all the facts; something deliberately engineered by all of our political class. It is not unreasonable to think that were the electorate fully informed, polling booths would be very lonely places as the only people in them would be those prepared to hand out ballot papers.

No mention of that small detail have I seen in the media, or by any politician, today – odd that.

In his article Kirkup makes mention that if the Ukip argument that Labour and Conservative are simply two sides of the same establishment coin is getting traction with voters, both the bigger parties may have some thinking to do about their anti-Ukip tactics. Never mind the two big parties, perhaps all parties should be thinking and worrying about why they are held to be segments of the same coin.

No mention of that small detail have I seen in the media, or by any politician, today – odd that.

I am surprised that the word ‘democracy’ has not been mentioned, more than it has – but then it is just possible that both politicians and the media are becoming too ashamed to mention something that we most certainly do not have – and never have had.

No mention either of that small detail have I seen in the media, or by any politician, today – again, odd that.

What we are witnessing is that, only hours after the events, our political class and the media are not listening, they are not paying attention; in fact they are just not thinking – and unfortunately there is nothing odd about that.


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2014
10/10

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David's Musings

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When the fog has cleared

The initial media reaction to events in Clacton and Heywood & Middleton are those that one would have expected – a tad shallow and missing the insight that one would have wished to see, had we had a media staffed with journalists worthy of their profession.

The low turnout in Heywood & Middleton could well be due to the fact the core Labour vote did not in fact vote but stayed at home. Ukip must be feeling as sick as the proverbial dog – not that they lost the seat by 617 votes; but the fact that 309 more votes would have secured a second Ukip victory on the night.

It would seem that there has been loads of waffle on the BBC about how there has been a change in British politics caused by events in these two by-elections (not unexpected – see opening paragraph) but I have to ask what change? Where is the change when public support has shifted from one political party who appears not to know the answers to the problems facing our country, to another party equally clueless?

Nigel Farage has been trumpeting that Ukip are the party for change – how good it would be if just one journalist or political commentator would make the point that if change is what is needed, then The Harrogate Agenda offers the change that is necessary – and on a permanent, proper basis. (Any chance Mr. Booker?).

With the reported news that Nigel Farage wishes to keep HIV-positive migrants out of Britain, perhaps Carswell’s acceptance speech contained a rebuke? To my new party I offer these thoughts: Humility when we win, modesty when we are proved right. If we speak with passion let it always be tempered with compassion.

It will be interesting to see how Farage, Ukip and Carswell handle this because – whether it is a ‘hatchet-job’ based on innuendo, or one based on evidence – we all know that mud sticks.

Ukip are in an enviable position as they have the ear of the media – it is a pity that they seem oblivious of the best way to capitalise on that. Statements as that of Farage’s latest, coupled with this (paragraph 3) on their website can only present their opponents with an open goal.

Douglas Carswell may well have stated that he has no leadership ambition, but just how long will he ‘allow’ what can only be described as ‘rabble-rousing’ by elements of his party to undo the calm, reasoned work he could well perform in the House of Commons? With his election as a Member of Parliament, coupled with the possibility he could well be joined by Mark Reckless, Ukip now have the ability to really have their message brought to the attention of the British electorate – one can only hope that they do not waste it. Unfortunately, if history is any guide, they no doubt will.

There are those on Twitter who maintain that Ukip must be supported as, while they have faults, they are the best alternative we have to the other three main parties. Admirable sentiments indeed, but I have to come back to the basic question of where is the difference twixt any four of them? Ukip are doing a very good job of similarity to the others in that all it appears they want is the same as their opponents – namely power; and they don’t seem to mind how they go about achieving it. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose indeed.

If Ukip do wish to become a force in British politics, then I would suggest a little soul searching is done so that they can begin acting as a body that people can look up to and thus respect.

 

 

 

 


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2014
10/09

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David's Musings

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Nigel Farage in the spotlight?

For those who haven’t heard but who are interested, it is reported that the Panorama investigative film into Nigel Farage’s financial relationship with UKIP will be shown on BBC1 at 8.30pm on Monday 13th October 2014.

Stay tuned, as they say……………


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Participation in democracy – further thoughts on rights’

Nigel Farage has for some time been talking about Ukip causing an earthquake in British politics and currently is citing Clacton and Heywood & Middleton as that earthquake in operation.

There is another view being taken and that has been expressed by Lord Finkelstein who has suggested that Ukip’s gains are but a mirror image of Liberal Democrat losses; and that the implication is that Ukip, far from threatening the system, is simply part of politics-as-usual, a new actor playing an old role.

This assertion that Ukip is but a new actor playing an old role is true in that they are believers in the system of representative democracy – and even though they wish to introduce an element of direct democracy through the use of referendums, they still inherit the ‘control mentality’ in that they will decide on what matters referenda will be granted.

Another article which touches on the subject of democracy appears on the website of The Atlantic, one entitled: Taxes Make People Care, with the subheading: Citizens are more eager to stamp out corruption when their own money is on the line. The author of this article proffers that people might be more concerned if their own money, rather than natural-resource revenues or foreign aid (grants – Ed.) is on the line. This article misses the point that whether it is corruption or just mismanagement of public money, unless the people have the means to control how their money raised by taxation is spent there is no incentive to take an interest – witness the expenditure of council tax in this country, which is money forcibly extracted from them under pain of imprisonment, the expenditure over which they have no direct control.

This point brings us back to the idea of ‘Referism‘ – and the oft quoted question whereby if it is necessary to employ someone to carry out work on one’s home, then is it not standard practice to require an estimate of what it will cost and what work that cost will involve. So if we require an estimate for work done to our home is it not logical to ask for an estimate for work that is to be done on behalf of our country? This idea is encapsulated in Demand #5 of The Harrogate Agenda. Politicians continually complain that people don’t take an interest in politics – well there you are, politicians, that is one sure fire way in which they would.

Let us now turn to an article on Swissinfo in which film maker Thomas Isler states that he feels that there is something wrong with the Swiss system of direct democracy, maintaining that power should not reside with just one group in society, that through power sharing checks and balances can be brought into effect in order to negate that of which he complains. He continues that while following the deportation of foreign criminals initiative, where non-Swiss citizens who have committed a crime have to automatically leave the country,  that this ‘automatic’ concept is something very, very strange and dangerous, in the sense that there is a risk of losing the principle of proportionality; and that that principle is in the Swiss constitution, so is there something in the constitution where people without Swiss passports don’t have these kind of rights?

Digressing slightly, on the subject of passports, obtaining one is not that easy as there are ‘difficulties’ to overcome. The most obvious one is the condition that – unless they are married to a Swiss – a would-be citizen must have lived in Switzerland for 12 years before they can apply; plus a second unusual aspect in Switzerland is that three political levels – commune, canton and federation – are involved in the granting of citizenship. Would-be citizens have to apply to the commune where they live in the first instance, and communes and cantons are fairly free to set their own requirements. In this regard I would refer to this post of mine on this subject; and from the comments, this link, and the fact that in some cantons, the Swiss decide who is to become a Swiss citizen (as per normal, decided by a referendum). The people in a gemiende (equivalent to a parish) decide who can become a citizen, they decide by their personal knowledge of the applicant.

This idea of Isler’s raises the question that if someone does not have a Swiss passport then they cannot be a Swiss citizen; and therefore why should they have the same rights as a Swiss citizen? The idea behind direct democracy in Switzerland is that once the people have spoken, then a decision has been made – an argument put forward by Christoph Blocher  of the Swiss People’s Party. This begs a similar question to that about work done on one’s behalf; namely that if one can decide what rights a visitor to one’s home should have, then why should one not also decide on what rights a visitor to one’s country should have?

The point is often made by those against the idea of direct democracy – and it is made by Isler too – in that it is but rule by the majority to the detriment of the minority. Er, is that not exactly what representative democracy delivers – a rule by the majority, who invariably seem not to have the faintest idea of that for which they are voting?

At least in Switzerland the people have the ability to voice their approval or rejection on ‘matters du jour’, both local and national – we serfs, living under representative democracy in the United Kingdom, do not have that luxury!

 


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So speaks a supposed think tank

Commenting on the second hearing of Lord Hill by MEPs, Business for Britain ends:

It’s easy to get lost in the technicalities of the EU, but here we have a major EU reform, favoured by the Government, opposed by MEPs and now effectively ruled out by Britain’s own nominee for EU Commissioner. For those who hoped that Lord Hill would herald a return of British influence in the Commission our nominee appears to have fallen at the first hurdle.

Just what is it about Business for Britain that they appear still unaware that a Commissioner’s first responsibility is to the European Union and not to his country?

A chief executive officer (CEO) is generally the most senior corporate officer (executive) or administrator in charge of managing a for-profit or non-profit organization. An individual appointed as a CEO of a corporation, company, nonprofit, or government agency typically reports to the board of directors.

Saint Matthew was considered to be one of the four evangelists – an evangelist being one who preaches or relays information to others with the view to converting them. 

The current CEO of Business for Britain is also a Matthew, although this one seems not to care whether the information that he relays – and is also, at the end of the day, responsible for that relayed by others in the organisation that he heads – is the truth or not.

Perhaps, if a CEO typically reports to his/her board of directors. the directors of Business for Britain should do a ‘Salome’?

 


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2014
10/07

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David's Musings

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So what?

We have been treated to articles in the media that Miliband is ‘toast’; that Cameron is for the ‘chop’ if he fails to win the 2015 General Election; and that Clegg will ‘step down’ as leader of the Liberal Democrats. Indeed, the media, political commentators and those on Twitter seem also to be approaching a state of frenzy about these three subjects.

We are even treated to a picture of Farage atop a tank – one can only hope that Ukip do not fade into obscurity because that picture will be resurrected with the headline: Ukip tanks – but I digress slightly.

So what? Why does all this matter?

It matters because first, Cameron, Miliband and Clegg will only be replaced by three more ‘identikit’ politicians intent on imposing their will on their party and the British people, as did those they replaced; and secondly – and far more importantly – the first point appears to have completely bypassed the media and their frenzied cohorts.

Another point that seems to have escaped the attention of everyone – media and the blogosphere – is that if we are to have Open Primaries to select candidates for constituencies, then should we not also have the same procedure for candidates that wish to become party leaders?

It is also ironic to observe the media and their cohorts getting excited about who should be their regional governor while they totally ignore the process taking place across the Channel where their next real government is in the process of being selected – but then, with the ability of afterthought, it is well known that our media only really deal with tittle-tattle that they consider to be news.

To paraphrase H.L. Mencken, one day the British people will hopefully come to realise that under representative democracy one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule – and both commonly succeed, and are right. They may also hopefully one day realise that while they cannot do anything about the length of their lives, they can do something about its width and depth – and in so doing, decide to empty the barrel of rotten apples that poses as our current system of democracy.

 


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Why not visit Somerset?

Campaign for an Independent Britain are holding a meeting on 15th October at Chelwood House, near Bath, the event being titled: What you always wanted to know about leaving the EU but “they” wouldn’t tell you.

Subtitled: A workshop, not a talk shop; for those in the surrounding area who are interested in extracting our country from the European Union, this is an event well worth the attendance fee of £12 and features Robert Oulds, Director of the Bruges Group. The full agenda and booking form can be found here.

With ‘matters EU’ rising fast up the political agenda, including a possible referendum in 2017, coupled with the recent pledges by David Cameron to amend the free movement of people and leaving the European Court of Human Rights, this meeting presents an excellent opportunity to hear the real truth about all aspects of this country’s membership of the European Union.

 

 


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A good question

One of my favourite blogs (although I do not link to him as often as I should) is that of AK Haart, due to his content and the varied topics covered – plus he has ‘a way with words’! I make no apology for reproducing the following, rather than just linking to it, as most people it would seem don’t follow links.

Who was the last British Prime Minister? The question is worth asking because the role seems to have faded away to the status of provincial governor. The process of governing the UK has acquired at least three features which make much of the Prime Minister’s traditional role redundant.

Firstly we are largely governed by those who run global businesses, global bureaucracies and global pressure groups. In other words, a host of global CEOs are in charge – not our provincial governor, or Prime Minister as we still insist on calling him. Global CEOs have become a uniquely powerful social class. Local politicians merely deliver the PR – the democratic narrative with its jingoistic fairy tales.

Once we have free enterprise which isn’t free and isn’t enterprising, once we blur the distinction between the corridors of government and corporate power then we have a class of people who can’t be shifted except by members of their own class. They share the power, they share the money and spend enormous sums to keep things that way.

In short we are being milked and controlled by money – but not sucked dry. It has taken only a few decades for the CEO class to realise that only a modicum of comfort is necessary for social control. Not comfort in itself, but the bovine acquiescence which comfort brings with it. 

A warm hut, a full belly and 24/7 entertainment. That does it.

Secondly and similarly, policy-making has gone global. Treaties, international laws and heavyweight bureaucracies such as the EU and UN have taken over the policy role of national government to such an extent that local political parties are barely relevant except as PR vehicles.

Thirdly we have complexity, a key reason why nobody, not even UKIP is ever likely to put these trends into reverse. The situation is too complex to be resolved with the puny political levers we have left, too intricate to be untangled by negotiation or new laws.

The complexity isn’t merely political or legal, but also cultural. We have to want change and want it badly en masse. Otherwise there are too many threads, too many reasons not to resolve malign trends, too many incentives not to see that they are indeed malign, too many reasons to oppose beneficial change, too many people doing just that.

So who was or will be the last British Prime Minister?

On 27th November 2011 I wrote an article, one that I would like to believe was the catalyst for what eventually has become known as The Harrogate Agenda (THA). This article was prefaced by two quotations, one of which came from the film: Gladiator.

The people should know when they’re conquered.” (Quintus) : “Would you, Quintus, would I? (Maximus)

That article was written in an attempt to show the people of the United Kingdom that they had indeed been conquered – not by force of arms, but by their political class.

With the closure of the party conference season (well almost, as at the time of writing, we still have that of the Liberal Democrats in progress, unfortunately) I am reminded of another quotation from that film:

What we do in life echoes in eternity  (Maximus)

By and large, from time immemorial, what we, as a people, do in life has not echoed in eternity – what we do in life has been decided for us by those who presume to know better than us – but are they really better than us? It has been said that a politician is someone who would willing lay down our lives for his country. That saying does not just relate to war, it relates to just about everything that affects our lives.

Has it gone unnoticed how words and phrases have assumed a different meaning? Charles Moore, writing in the Telegraph, attributes the invention of the word ‘stakeholder’ to Tony Blair, a phrase which is now taken to mean all those bodies – such as NGOs, charities, pressure groups, think tanks, etc – who have managed to gain a finger in any particular pie; likewise the phrase ‘civil society’ now includes those same groups. As such they all have a voice and are able to influence political decisions taken. Are we, the people, not’ stakeholders’ in our country, are we not members of ‘civil’ society? Where is our voice, that of we the people, where is our influence?

Is it right that someone can claw their way up the ‘political system’ – purely to do the will of others over whom we the people have no control and thus lead us down a course of action they believe we should proceed – very often without a specific mandate; and which results in a situation whereby we are unable to reverse that decision for 2,3, or 4 years; or ever?

In Moore’s article mention is made of the fact that it is some time since any political party achieved 40% of the votes cast in a general election – and now, from other reports, we are informed that political parties consider 35% a satisfactory benchmark to achieve and thus enable them to form a government. But if a government is to be representative of the people (we are, after all, informed that we live in a representative democracy), then should not any government require a minimum of 51% of the votes cast?

At the risk of repetition – and I am only too aware that repetition is boring, however at times it is the only recourse left open – there are those that think repeal of ECA1972, by itself, will return our nation to a state of ‘freedom’ and independence’.

How little they appear to know!

 


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2014
10/05

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David's Musings

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Cure for a headache

Having spent the best part of this evening attempting to show the uninitiated that repeal of EA1972 by itself does not allow the UK to escape the clutches of the European Union, I now have the mother of all headaches.

Never mind, the following calms any tension: Cadenza by Ludovico Einaudi.

 

Goodnight.


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