Wednesday, March 12, 2014

You kip if you want to; UKIP's not for turning

I’ve just had an email from David Cameron, along with trillions of others who haven’t managed to ditch his spam, insisting the Tories are the only party we can trust to deliver a referendum on the EU.
He has, not unreasonably, taken advantage of Ed Miliband’s announcement that a referendum would be unlikely under a Labour Government.
Miliband's decision is disappointing and somewhat perverse.
But now, with the Lib Dems led by a fully paid-up Citizen of Europe, you might think Dave’s pledge might be of some importance.

But after reneging on his ‘cast iron’ promise to hold a referendum following the signing away of more sovereignty in the Lisbon Treaty, surely any pledge has to be worthless.
He has seen the Referendum Bill thrown out in the Lords and shows no sign of trying to give it another chance. And anyway he decided to leave it to a backbench MP to push through rather than giving it the impetus of Government.
He has no idea of what ‘renegotiation’ he might achieve before putting it to a referendum (incidentally if there ever were a plebiscite we know with absolute certainty that he and his party would combine with Labour and the Lib-Dems to skew the question and campaign to keep Britain in Europe).
Cameron has also rejected the chance to hold a referendum before 2017 . There is no good reason why it couldn’t be held this year but the few brave souls in the Tory party who suggested it were comprehensively rubbished by their own colleagues.
The odds are slowly and deliberately being stacked against anyone who might campaign for withdrawal from the EU. But the chances of ever getting one are minimal.
There is only one party which could demolish this cosy consensus and force a referendum on the Europhile triumvirate taking it in turns to run this country under orders from Brussels and that’s UKIP.
Nigel Farage’s party may have its drawbacks – more than a few loose cannons, little money and even less organisation – but only UKIP would deliver a referendum.
The Conservatives have been a massive disappointment. Even William Hague seems to have gone native since his elevation to the Foreign Office.
You can argue about electoral tactics. A vote for UKIP may, in some places, be a vote for Labour. But that doesn’t matter any more because a Miliband Government will be scarcely any different from a Cameron-Clegg one anyway; certainly not in relation to the EU and that means in relation to everything from purchase taxes (VAT) to prisoners' rights.
Cameron is Blair by other means (only Gordon Brown, let’s not forget, stood between us and the Euro). But an overwhelming vote against the tripartite status quo would force at least two of the losers – Labour and Conservatives – into a reappraisal of their Europhile policies.
I still think UKIP should not fight every Westminster seat. It should enter into a constituency-by-constituency non-aggression pact with those MPs, whatever their colour, who pledge to support a referendum at the earliest possible date.
Complete withdrawal from the EU may be the aim but the first step is to secure a referendum. The bigger the UKIP vote – at Euro elections and at the General Election – the greater the pressure there will be on mainstream politicians to offer us a chance to escape the evil empire.
You kip if you want to; UKIP's not for turning.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

EU rattles its sabres

The evil empire of the European Union is creating a confrontation with Russia over the Ukraine.
Step back and look at it from an historical perspective and you will see this is just another stage in the endless conflict between Germany and France on the one hand and Russia on the other.
Napoleon and Hitler tried to conquer Russia with force. Now their natural successor, the EU, is trying to do the same with economic power and crowd-pleasing diplomacy.
The Ukraine has never really been an independent, self-governing state and it does represent Russia’s bulwark against aggression from Western Europe.
No wonder it is suspicious of the EU’s intentions.
The protestors in the Ukraine are being used as pawns in an historic power-struggle. The EU is adopting its traditional approach to the struggle with the Russian bear, rattling its sanctions sabre and marshalling the big battalions of self-righteous “democracy”.
As if the EU knew anything about democracy and the will of the people - just look at Italy which has just installed its third unelected Prime Minister since Brussels decided trampling on the rights of the citizens was justifiable if it meant saving the Euro.
The EU should avoid any further involvement in Ukraine’s internal difficulties and give its people no cause to believe they would be happier or better off run from Brussels instead of Moscow.
It’s hard to imagine that 100 years on we could be heading for the kind of confrontation we thought had gone out of fashion after the demise of Kaiser Bill and the Tsar.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Tap turns on the water see the money flow

Just got this egregious little note from our Glorious Leader David Cameron and there are a few questions I’d ask if I had the chance. They include
·         As the people of Sunthorpe pointed out on Question Time, how come nobody noticed the floods until they affected the Home Counties?
·         Why is it only now that £5,000 repair grants have been made available? What’s so special about the Home Counties? Why not offer grants to everyone who has been flooded in the past 100 years?
·         Why are sandbags considered a solution? They are more or less useless under all circumstances.
·         Why are there more cuts on the way for the Environment Agency and why is Chris Smith still in charge of it?
·         And when things dry out a bit will all these promises about spending “whatever it takes” be forgotten – just as they were when we were flooded in 2007?

This is Dave’s missive, for what it’s worth:

This has been a tough week for Britain.

The wettest winter in two and a half centuries, some of the worst flooding in decades, and more severe weather on the way this weekend.

We're doing everything we can to help:

  • Delivering extra pumps and sandbags
  • Deploying the military wherever needed
  • Providing additional support for local emergency services

We will do what is necessary to help families and communities get through this very difficult time - more information is available on the Environment Agency website if you are affected.

We will also help people rebuild their lives and get back on their feet after the flooding, with repair grants of up to £5,000 for homeowners and businesses affected by the floods, and further support for businesses and farms that have suffered.

Amidst all of this, as is so often the case, in the toughest of times we are seeing the best of Britain.

Visiting the affected areas this week, I saw the incredible hard work and dedication of our emergency services, the Environment Agency, local authority workers, councils and armed forces.

I also saw the most inspiring community spirit amongst the many volunteers who are rolling up their sleeves and helping out those in need.

Everyone involved in the relief effort deserves our heartfelt thanks. Please join me by leaving a message of support on Facebook.

It will take time, but together we will deal with these floods, get our country back on its feet and build a more resilient country for the future.

Friday, February 07, 2014

Nere is the newts: Sink or swim, you're on your own

In 2007 the Environment Agency pledged swift action to reduce the risk of further flood damage in the area of Broadway, Worcestershire, after that summer’s inundation.
They even held a road show and made glorious promises of all the money and effort they would be putting into their scheme.
Seven years later, they have done next to nothing. Their website promises a scheme in March this year. That, we can reasonably assume, will bring further consultations and risk assessments about the potential damage to local flora and fauna.
The EA couldn’t even drain bathwater safely. So I am not surprised people in Somerset and elsewhere are beside themselves with fury at the agency’s ineptitude.

PS Since writing this I have looked at various EA reports on flood alleviation in this area.

The good news is that several 'tailored ecology surveys' have been carried out into the habitat for otters, water voles and white-clawed crayfish.
And even better is the news that 'an amphibian survey is also being carried out to identify the presence of great crested newts'.
The bad news is that the money earmarked actually to carry out a flood alleviation scheme in the area has now disappeared, dried up, gone down the plug-hole and otherwise evaporated. Unlike the water.

Friday, January 17, 2014

A song for Europe

As Britain prepares for this year’s Euro-elections, a new novel looks into the murky, secret origins of the European super-state.
With its origins in the chaos of Europe after the Second World War, the EU’s founding fathers were determined such devastation must never happen again.
But when it came to propaganda and brainwashing, did they learn from the Nazis?
Ex-MP Acton Trussell investigates the apparently straightforward murder of the country’s most famous headmasters.
It quickly becomes clear the murder was not the result of a burglary-gone-wrong.
As he delves into the secret past of the man
who was responsible for the education of no fewer than three Prime Ministers, he discovers more than he bargained for.
The story follows Trussell’s investigations to London, Brussels, Amsterdam, Paris and – finally – to Avignon.
He is only kept alive by the good offices of a “friend” but even then his life is increasingly in danger as he stumbles on a conspiracy to destroy the Bank of England, rob Britain of its independence and hand the profits to Russian gangsters.
Meanwhile his daughter is trying to win the Eurovision Song Contest for England.
Author Nigel Hastilow says: ‘With elections to the European Parliament taking place in 2014, it is worth asking ourselves how the powers-that-be managed to create what is now more or less a single super-state.
‘It may have developed by accident but the more you consider the EU’s slow, determined and inexorable progress towards “ever-closer union”, the more likely it seems we have allowed a super-state to be created by stealth.
‘Is it possible that a group of determined people, with the single goal of accumulating most of Europe’s power and wealth, could really have succeeded where tanks and bombs failed?
‘This novel considers these possibilities as its hero, Acton Trussell, tries to prove the innocence of a man convicted of murder.
‘My novel “Murder on the Brussels Express” is a political thriller. But you can tell it’s fiction because it also includes an English band which thinks it is in with a reasonable chance of winning the Eurovision Song Contest and we all know that’s never going to happen again.’

 
Murder on the Brussels Express is available in paperback edition (£9.95) from Halesowen Press, or Kindle edition (£5.00) on www.amazon.com.

Monday, December 16, 2013

HS2 - blinding us with rocket science

This is what the Government is using to prove HS2 will bring health, wealth and happiness to the provinces. Can Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin or any of his civil servants actually decipher this and explain it to the rest of us?


Thursday, November 28, 2013

London - a capital crime

Deutsche Bank describes Britain as “two nations” – an island of wealth within the M25 and a hinterland of poverty everywhere else.
This is the latest in a long line of pronouncements. The London Standard recently described London as “a world class city state attached to an Eastern European economy”.
Much of this is London-centric provincialism of the worst sort but, in so far as it’s true, it’s because the Great Wen is the seat of power and Londoners are so blind to life north of Watford they keep all the wealth and jobs for themselves.
Oliver Harvey, a Deutsche Bank economist, says economic output per person employed in London is roughly double the UK average; from 1997-2008 the difference in gross value added per person between London and the rest of the UK exploded from £10,000 to £18,000 and has remained roughly constant since then.
The biggest change, apparently, is that London is increasingly detached from the fortunes of the old industrial heartlands. The evidence also suggests that not only does London suffer less from recessions than the rest of the UK, it now tends to bounce back more quickly.
I'm not sure it's as bad as it appears. There are several reasons for this including the question of how you define London and, for that matter, a London business.
If KPMG does work in Germany, is the revenue generated allocated to London specifically or the UK in general? The answer is London because the Head Office is there but it is debatable if it should be credited to the London GVA account.
The fact is that London and the provinces are interdependent and it is misleading to suggest one could prosper without the other. 
More to the point, London may be doing well but much of its personal wealth is built on a wholly artificial house-price spiral which will one day kick people in the teeth (maybe when the Russians go broke); it's living costs are therefore exorbitant forcing up pay rates but resulting in lower standards of living; it is heavily dependent on migrant labour at exploitative, rock-bottom pay rates which create a downward spiral of poverty amid all this prosperity; and as the seat of Government, the centre for the media and the location of head offices, it is guilty of a self-congratulatory, self-justifying financial conspiracy against the rest of the country (no wonder the Scots want to escape). 
The answer is devolution of power, closure of most Government offices in London and their move to the provinces, no matter how much the civil servants kick and scream as did the BBC luvvies forced to move to Manchester.  
An example of the State bias towards London can be seen in the recent debate about arts funding. You will find London gets a vastly excessive subsidy at the expense of the provinces largely because the decision-makers prefer to go to the Opera in London than in Buxton.
The truth is that London-centric policies are denying the rest of the country an opportunity to compete.
A CBI study a few years ago showed State spending on rail transport in London was ten times per head the rate of spending in the provinces.
This simply reinforces the disparity between the capital and the rest, helping to create the vicious circle where it is perceived that the best facilities are in London and therefore sucking into the city all the talented people who would be happier, wealthier and wiser if they stayed well away from the M25.
We may be doomed to get HS2 but that is almost entirely for London's benefit – rich Londoners will be able to pay royal visits to Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds and still be back home in time to see the latest subsidised play at the laughably-named "national" theatre in London.
HS2 will also benefit London by spreading the commuter belt even further, allowing more poor saps to travel daily to the capital from the provinces to get to work.
It will suck more life out of reasonably prosperous cities like Birmingham but the CBI, city council etc short-sightedly think HS2 is a good idea because they would like the building work, the repair shops etc that it will bring.
Meanwhile the line is to arrive into Euston, that monstrous sixties carbuncle which is already jam-packed, instead of to St Pancras where you could easily change trains for Eurostar.
There is still no direct rail connection between the provinces and the Channel Tunnel even though we were promised such a thing long before the route was opened. Why is it assumed that provincials have no business heading to France or Belgium (and vice-versa)?
Meanwhile look at the scandal over a new "London airport". No doubt it will end up at Heathrow or, if not, at Boris Island.
Why is there any need for another London airport at all when the regional airports (Manchester, Birmingham, East Midlands, even Luton) could be expanded to deal with any genuine capacity demand perfectly easily?
This would spread prosperity around the country, it would be cheaper to achieve and less disruptive for Londoners. Yet the attitude seems to be – as always – that if it isn't in London it doesn't really exist.
London is guilty of creating a brain drain from the provinces as a result of this vicious circle. All major investment is London-centric (hell, even the blasted Olympics went to London; when Birmingham bid for them a few years ago, nobody outside the region had a good word to say for it – why? For that matter, why is the national football stadium in London?).
All this investment in London encourages businesses to headquarter there. That sucks in talented people. That, in turn, requires more state investment and so it goes on.
The regions' death spiral has to be broken but that would cost London money, jobs etc and as all the decision-makers are in London, it will never happen. Look at how little money Michael Heseltine has managed to wring out of the treasury for the Local Enterprise Partnerships as an example of the way London dominates and refuses to release any of the reins of power.
There is a chance that in the near future the Palace of Westminster will have to close for refurbishment and MPs will be obliged to meet elsewhere. It would be instructive to force them to meet in the provinces, away from London, and take the civil service with them. If that happened, you would suddenly see a boost in state spending in the area chosen as the seat of parliament because suddenly the people in power would be forced to look at the world from a different perspective.
The poverty in many old towns and cities, the joblessness, the lack of economic growth and the drain on the State that this represents (through benefits etc) are almost entirely due to the London-centric attitude of too many influential people in this country (petty London provincialism, even among exiled Scots, Brummies, Scousers etc).
A balanced economy requires a balanced attitude to London but that would require a massive withdrawal of public investment in the capital. This would be politically unacceptable in London because the place is so crowded already the voters would not put up with it.
Yet it is all an illusion: the City creates money out of thin air and, when it disappears, the provincial taxpayer has to bail out the banks while Londoners continue to receive their eye-watering bonuses while house prices are utterly absurd because London is now the money-laundering capital of the world, welcoming Russian crooks with suitcases full of cash stolen from a country which is in irreversible financial decline.
Pay rates may be lower in the provinces but if you judged the question by standard of living and one of Dave's happiness indexes, I suspect you would find a different answer.