Tag Archive: Democrcy

Free Speech (2)

There would appear to be a small furore today over the matter of Eric Pickles letter to mosques asking them to teach their congregations about ‘what being a British Muslim means today’.

It is not my intention to comment on whether this was a wise move by Pickles but, instead, to pick up one phrase used in his letter. He writes:

And yet, amid the carnage, came a sign of hope – over three million people of all backgrounds, marching to defeat the gunmen and to protect our values: free speech, the rule of law, and democracy.

The Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill, currently going through Parliament with barely any opposition to speak of, surely impinges on basic freedoms of both free speech and democracy.

What may be considered a ‘learned opinion‘ of this Bill  informs us:

Under the Bill, a police or immigration officer will be able to seize someone’s passport at the port to prevent them leaving the country (whether they are British or foreign), on a reasonable suspicion that the person ‘intends to leave the UK in connection with terrorism-related activity’ abroad. No reasons need be given. Refusal to hand over the passport will be a criminal offence. Force can be used to seize the passport, which can be retained for two weeks, or thirty days with permission from a magistrate, who can’t refuse if the officer is investigating with diligence and expedition. The hearing before the magistrate will be subject to the ‘closed material procedure’ which will exclude the person concerned and his or her lawyer. There is no provision for compensation if the seizure turns out to be wrongful and the suspicion groundless, and the power can be used repeatedly, with minimal safeguards. (Emphasis mine)

Er, where is ‘free speech’ or ‘democracy’ – especially as we are celebrating this year the 800th anniversary f Magna Carta, supposedly the founding document of English liberties? There must also be a tad of irony in invoking ‘the rule of law’ when law is imposed on the majority by an extremely small minority; especially when said majority have not been consulted on whether they agree with said law or not.

There must be an element of irony where our political class ‘wax lyrical’ about free speech and democracy while closing down both – or is just me that cannot see that?

Just asking…………….


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The Freedom Association (2)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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Some Freedom, Some Association

The following email, which comes from The Freedom Association and headed: The need for a clear EU strategy and how to achieve it, has come to my attention:

Today marks the first time that voters have elected a representative from the UK Independence Party (UKIP) to enter the UK Parliament. A key reason for this is a dissatisfaction amongst voters with the strategy of the main Westminster parties – especially over issues that are influenced by the European Union.

What is needed is a clear strategy from the Conservative Party to defend UK interests and provide reassurance to the British public that its concerns are being taken seriously.

To help give an understanding of what is needed, The Freedom Association today publishes a handbook written by Dr Lee Rotherham entitled “How to salvage the Euro-sceptic credentials of the Conservative Party.”

This booklet provides a list of twenty suggested steps to help form the right strategy that can send a clear message to Brussels on behalf of the British people.

As mentioned in the forward by Sir Bernard Ingham, without such a clear strategy the fear of the ‘unknown’ will lead to either intimidation to remain in a largely unreformed EU or will “marvellously [sic] fudge the outcome of negotiation”.

This will breed further dissatisfaction amongst voters.

With seven months until the General Election, now is the time to develop a strategy and present a clear and credible path to the British public. As Dr Lee Rotherham writes:

“This is a rare opportunity. Achievement, after all, is vision plus motion. A pointy stick sometimes helps: the polls now provide the incentive to get things right.”

To download this important booklet visit here: http://www.tfa.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/ManningThePumps.pdf

Yours sincerely,

Rory Broomfield
The Freedom Association

As will be understood when reading Lee Rotherham’s booklet, my heart sank on reading the start of the first recommendation.

When, oh when, will it be recognised that regardless of the personal qualifications and beliefs of an EU Commissioner-Designate, they matter not in the slightest as the prime – nay, the only – allegiance of any Commissioner-Designate, if confirmed in his/her position,  is to the EU.

I leave readers to form their own opinion(s) as to the validity and veracity of this paper by Lee Rotherham.

In my opinion, its use in the process of extracting this country from membership of the European Union is on a par with that of the existence of The Freedom Association as a think tank – namely, zilch.


Not another politician running away (2)

Just three days ago I posted the first article in this series, it being a little ‘dig’ at David Campbell Bannerman for his apparent failure to forward me, as promised, a pdf copy of his submission to the IEA Brexit competition.

Lo and behold, as a result of the power of the internet, today I received the following email:

Dear Mr Phipps,

I was tasked with sending the Brexit submission to you several weeks ago and I must apologise for the delay in it reaching you. I have attached the version of David’s Brexit submission which does not include his details (home address/mobile) but all sections and chapters are exactly the same.

Once again I am sorry for this delay. A delay which was mine and not David’s. 

Hayley Rogers
PA to David Campbell Bannerman MEP

I have yet to read this piece of work which I am assured is causing such a stir in Brussels circles but readers may rest assured I will post something in the next 48 hours.


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Cameron’s National Briefing and Q&A sessions from EU Council meeting

Or in his own words: another day in paradise.

For those interested:

Cameron’s ‘National Briefing’ is here;

Part 1 of the following Q&A session is here;

Part 2 of the following Q&A session is here;

Part 3 of the following Q&A session is here.

I note that yet again he made claim to actions that he did not manage to achieve – but I digress.

One or two of his responses to questions were quite interesting when you think about it, viz-a-viz his idea of a referendum and the time-scale involved………





What if? (Scotland)

An ‘interesting’ paper has appeared from the European Policy Centre, authored by Graham Avery who is a Senior Adviser at the European Policy Centre, Senior Member of St. Antony’s College, Oxford University, and Honorary Director-General of the European Commission.

The caveat in the paper is that the views expressed are those of Graham Avery – no wonder…………


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News ‘management’

Philip Johnston, in his usual weekly Telegraph column, advises us that politicians have stopped listening to us  which has prompted one comment, from ‘upset’, that it is always worth buying the Telegraph in order to keep up with the latest trends.

That comment sums up the nadir to which the Telegraph has sunk. There is not one mention of the fact that local democracy per se des not even exist –  because all local councillors are doing is, in effect, nodding through diktats from Brussels and Westminster.

Johnston ends his article by writing that when representative democracy starts to break down at every level, it is hardly surprising that voters turn to fringe protest parties, or agitate for a direct say on matters through a referendum as that is the only way they can get anyone in power to pay attention.

It would seem to have escaped Johnston’s attention that the fringe parties of which he writes wish to continue the broken system of representative democracy; nor does it seem to have crossed his mind to inquire why they would continue so to do. Neither does it occur to Johnston to question why or how the power, which he obviously believes does belong to the people, came to be lost in the first place; nor does he extend his brain to consider the possibility that if there is agitation for a direct say on matters, then the current system of representative democracy should be thrown out with the bath water and a long, hard look taken at an alternative system, such as that of direct democracy.

No doubt the superficial content of Johnston’s article will be replicated by this programme, one due to to be broadcast next Monday. Undoubtedly, in using all the weapons in their arsenal and requiring that questions are submitted by email, they are ensuring that they remember the conditions under which loans or grants are given by the EU and consequently will not bite the hand that feeds them.

When one sees a leading newspaper and broadcaster both ‘managing’ the information they present, it can only illustrate a long-held belief: that we do not have a free press.


After the Lord Mayors Show

After the debacle of the IEA Brexit competition, one which The Boiling Frog informs us Lord Pearson was responsible for having raised the funding, it would seem we are about to be treated to what might be termed another Whitehall Farce (low comedy tradition of British farce).

From Open Europe’s press summary we read that: In or Out? How an EU referendum could affect your business: On 29 May in London, leading experts, politicians and business people will debate what ‘in’ or ‘out’ of the EU could actually look like? Should the UK stay or go? What should the Government renegotiate ahead of the proposed referendum, and in the event of an exit, what structures should the Government put into place to manage the transition? This event is held in partnership with Open Europe and speakers include Mats Persson, Open Europe Director, John Mills, Chairman and Founder of JML, Simon Walker, Director General of the Institute of Directors, Helena Morrissey, CEO of Newton Investment Management, Lord Simon of Highbury, Deputy Chairman of Unilever, and Sir Stephen Wall, the Foreign Policy Adviser to Prime Minister John Major.

It is with some justification that the term Whitehall Farce is used to describe another offering staged by Open Europe, especially when considering who the speakers are and that at the forefront is Mats Persson who has been shown not to have a clue about that which he is supposed to be knowledgeable.

It would appear that there is a concerted effort afoot by supposed eurosceptics, but who are in fact closet europhiles, to skew the debate on any referendum so that the result would be that which our political class want – and to hell with facts and what the people may want.


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The immigration row

Apparently last night on Channel 5 there was what had, I presume, been intended as a debate about immigration which seemed to turn into a row – in compliance with the title of the programme. Not that I watched it, but that is how it seemed from comments appearing on Twitter. Tim Stanley, writing in the Telegraph, provides his take on the evening, stating that what is need is a serious, calm conversation about immigration and not a big row.

It is perhaps with a sense of timing by either Channel 5 or the EU that the latter have just released the latest statistics on the subject of immigration. No doubt the sensationalizing sections of the press will seize on the fact that the United Kingdom reported the largest number of immigrants (566 044) in 2011, followed by Germany (489 422), Spain (457 649) and Italy (385 793); these four Member States together accounting for 60.3 % of all immigrants to EU-27 Member States; or that in absolute terms, the largest numbers of non-nationals living in the EU on 1 January 2012 were found in Germany (7.4 million persons), Spain (5.5 million), Italy (4.8 million), the United Kingdom (4.8 million) and France (3.8 million). Non-nationals in these five Member States collectively represented 77.1 % of the total number of non-nationals living in the EU-27, while the same five Member States had a 62.9 % share of the EU’s population.

What must be taken into consideration is the emigrant numbers and in this context Spain reported the highest number of emigrants in 2011 (507 742), followed by the United Kingdom (350 703), Germany (249 045) and France (213 367).

We all know that statistics can be presented in many forms, especially when they are being used to reinforce an argument. Stanley highlights the problem immigration causes on social services and the burdens on our society, while making the point that the British feel they have no political leverage or cultural capital. As with most journalistic debate in the media today Stanley completely ignores the fact that decisions have been taken whereby our society has indeed changed and the people were not specifically consulted in the making of those decisions – in other words, like so many, he totally ignores the question of sovereignty and governance and in so doing just who it is that is sovereign and just who should be doing the governing.

If Stanley wants a serious, calm conversation about immigration, then perhaps he should ensure it is all encompassing – and not one of selectivity.



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Hopefully the last word*

on the Miliband saga goes to Sadie Smith, writing in Total Politics:

“My name is Miliband. Commander of the Armies of the North. General of new Labour. Loyal servant to the true Emperor, St Tony of Blair. Brother to a treacherous sibling, righteous heir to a political dynasty – and I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next.”

* Or is it?

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