Monday, March 28, 2011

HS2 - the Birmingham by-pass

How come nobody seems to have mentioned the planned HS2 high-speed rail system will actually pass us all by?

Instead of the West Midlands becoming the heart of the country’s rail system, we’ll be left in the sidings.

We’re constantly told the HS2 scheme is brilliant for business and only cure to all known economic ills for Birmingham and the rest of the region.

It’s bluff and nonsense.

If HS2 is built, the only area to definitely lose out in the long run will be the West Midlands.

Short journey times to London from Birmingham are irrelevant but from Manchester and Leeds they might make a difference.

It is simply not in our interests to see the thing built – but nobody seems willing to acknowledge that.

In these days of austerity, the idea of splurging £32 billion on a shiny new railway line seems like Imelda Marcos shopping for shoes with the starving at the palace gates.

Yet the Coalition is determined to press ahead even though HS2 is not a British initiative. It’s just another stage in the European Union’s plan for high-speed trains to go whizzing all round its domains.

Our Government’s just following orders. Our local leaders are all on board the HS2 gravy train as well.

They argue it will create construction jobs, boost the region’s economy by unfeasible billions and somehow transform our image and fortunes.

The full scheme is not for a London-Birmingham link. It’s for a route to Manchester and another to Leeds with the line dividing to east and west around Lichfield.

Indeed, if you look at the maps, Birmingham’s on a branch line. The main route by-passes the city completely.

Not a single financial figure put out by those promoting this scheme is worth the paper it’s written on. It’s entirely guesswork and almost certainly wrong to the power of ten.

But let’s pretend the forecasters know what they’re talking about because, even if they don’t, their sums give some indication of what’s going on.

A study in Leeds claims HS2 will generate “productivity benefits” worth £2.3 billion.

But where are these benefits to be felt? Well, £750 million of them go to Leeds and another £420 million to Sheffield. London prospers to the tune of £550 million.

What about us? According to this analysis the Birmingham City Region gets £100 million. In other words, we lose out.

Transport Secretary Phillip Hammond claims HS2 will benefit Britain to the tune of £44 billion.

Much of that will go on jobs created to build the thing in the first place. And obviously, if you spend £32 billion on a new train set, it’s going to provide work for people.

But assuming you had £32 billion to spend – which we haven’t – could it be better used in other ways?

That’s another question nobody is prepared to answer.

We’re told the great benefit of high-speed trains is much shorter journey times. But few people will pay a rail fare of about £320 to save half an hour travelling between Birmingham and London.

That alleged benefit doesn’t take into account the time it takes to drive to the station, park the car, get a ticket and wait for the train. Nor does it account for time spent at the other end getting from the station to your destination.

High-speed rail won’t change any of that.

If you’re travelling to Manchester or Leeds, the amount of time spent faffing around will be the same but it won’t matter as much because you’re going farther, faster.

The recently-axed quango the Commission for Integrated Transport said high-speed rail was worthwhile for travel between 180 and 375 miles.

Manchester-London is 181 miles, Leeds-London 195 miles so they both just scrape in. The Commission said there was “little benefit” for journeys of less than 180 miles. Birmingham-London is 109 miles.

The only place in this country which has so far enjoyed the dubious privilege of being a through station on a high-speed line is Ashford in Kent.

The economic benefits to the whole county were much-trumpeted in advance but, since it opened, various studies show Ashford’s economy has remained virtually untouched, unlike the Kent countryside.

It seems the small-print for HS2 suggests we may be forced into high-speed travel by the cancellation of some existing rail services between the West Midlands and London.

It may be the only way to make passengers pay a premium for the dubious pleasure of saving half an hour on the train.

So why is it deemed “unpatriotic” for people in the West Midlands to argue against HS2?

There are some vested interests at work: Birmingham Airport thinks it will become the third London airport, for instance; local politicians like to be regarded as men of vision; construction and engineering companies hope to get a hefty slice of the action.

We keep getting told HS2 is vital for the future prosperity of the West Midlands.

But how can any of us back a scheme which leaves the region standing on the platform while rich passengers rush past at 250 mph between London and the north?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Prolier than thou

Wha has happened to the le-er T? George Osborne and Ed Milliband have both delivered Budge speeches oday which omi he soun of the le-er T a every oppor-uni-ey.

Es ow posh people lower their social sta-us and pre-end hey are men of the people. Bu e wo work. E jus bogus.

Gizza public-sector job

If we knew then what we know now, most people would have gone for a career in the public sector.

Not because it’s particularly lively, stimulating or exciting – though, no doubt, it has its moments – but for the job security and the gold-plated pension.

Most private sector workers nearing retirement – if they have managed to stay in work throughout their careers – will be contemplating a bleak future. Their pensions ain’t what they used to be.

Before Tony Blair became Prime Minister, this country had one of the most secure private sector pensions industries in the world.

Thanks partly to the greed and stupidity of some major employers but also thanks to Gordon Brown’s £5 billion-a-year raid on pension funds, all that’s now been destroyed.

For many workers, there are few if any pension arrangements in place; for the rest, inflation-proof final salary pension schemes are a relic of past prosperity.

Yet public sector workers still enjoy lavish pay and pensions.

There was a time when pensions for teachers, nurses, soldiers, local government workers and civil servants were reasonably generous to make up for their relatively modest salaries.

They were looked after in old age because they were paid low wages in their working years.

All that changed under the Labour Government. Pay rose so fast that public sector workers earn an average of £2,000 a year more than those in the private sector.

Family doctors are now on £150,000, some “town clerks” earn more than the Prime Minister and teachers’ average pay has shot up from £22,000 to £35,000.

Pension entitlements rocketed as well, costing taxpayers more than £32 billion a year.

And, of course, if you work in the public sector you get to retire while you’re still young and fit enough to enjoy it – or get another job.

If you’re lucky, you can enjoy generous early-retirement deals. The public sector is especially keen on these when it comes to getting rid of someone who’s no good at their job – so much nicer than sacking them.

It’s got to stop because, even if we had the money in the boom years, we certainly can’t afford it any more.

The Coalition is struggling to deal with the massive public debt but even David Cameron and Nick Clegg are reluctant to admit how massively in debt this country really is.

Officially, we are borrowing £900 billion, rising to £1.1 trillion later this year.

In reality, the figure’s closer to £2.2 trillion already, if you take into account the money we’re spent on the banks, the mortgages taken out through the public finance initiative and our unfunded pension liability.

We’ve run out of money. Taxes are rising, the economy’s in the doldrums, the “squeezed middle” has been squeezed dry. You can’t get blood from a stone.

Former Labour Cabinet Minister Lord Hutton’s reform plans aren’t terribly radical or far-reaching.

For a start, they won’t have much effect on anyone over 50. And they mean the lowest-paid public sector workers will benefit more in retirement than their fat-cat bosses.

In future, public sector pensions will be based on average career earnings rather than the salary at retirement.

This cuts the burden on the taxpayer but it still leaves most public employees better off than their contemporaries.

Lord Hutton says his proposals are about fairness, not just that the taxpayer can’t afford to carry this weight indefinitely.

It cannot be right for private sector workers to endure poverty in old age simply to maintain the lifestyles of those lucky enough to work for the State.

Don’t forget the burden on the taxpayer gets greater every year because we’re all living longer. The average 65-year-old man will live until he’s 82; a woman can expect to reach 85.

In 1955, life expectancy was 67 for men and 72 for women.

No wonder Lord Hutton thinks the retirement age for public sector workers should rise to 65 and, in due course, to 68, in line with those in the private sector.

We are victims of our own success – but there is a price to pay for living longer, healthier lives.

Lord Hutton has not made himself popular by telling the one-fifth of us who work in the Government to work longer for less money.

The unions are, of course, warning of protests, marches and strikes to protect their pensions. But it’s just self-serving bleating from people who really don’t seem to understand how well-off they really are.

If they’re only interested in a fat pension, today’s school-leavers would still be better off sticking to the public sector.

There’s another difference between the public and private sectors. People not employed by the State don’t get expensive public inquiries into their pensions – they scarcely get consulted at all.

They just get told what’s been decided, like it or lump it. No wonder they cast envious eyes at the public services and wonder why on earth they bothered with the private sector in the first place.

Private sector workers create the wealth – but many won’t enjoy the fruits of their labour in retirement. Where’s the fairness in that?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Cameron is turning into Blair

So our wonderful Government wants a no-fly zone over Libya. Have they learned nothing from Tony Blair's disastrous years in Government - or have they learned far too much?

We do not have the money, manpower, aircraft or carriers to enforce this ridiculous idea never mind the strategic necessity. And if we start threatening Mad-Dog Gaddafi's bonkers regime, where do we stop?

Why not Bahrain? Why not Saudi Arabia? Why not Zimbabwe for that matter?

It's time we accepted we are not the world's policeman, we are a third-rate bit-part player in the games of superpowers and we should mind our own business.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Petrol prices push us over the edge

The petrol station wanted to charge me £1.42.9 per litre. I can’t think in litres but I knew that was a lot of money. I’ve now worked it out. They wanted to charge me £6.48 per gallon. What an outrage.

I didn’t stop. Instead I wasted some of my precious fuel driving five miles down the road to another one where the price was £1.35.9 – a mere £6.20 per gallon.

It seems I’m not the only one balking at the high price of petrol. We’re all shopping around for lower prices, apparently.

Sometimes we are so reluctant to fork out for over-priced fuel we cruise around, even if the gauge is on red, until we run out altogether and have to call the AA.
We can’t go on like this – yet the price of petrol only ever goes up.

Admittedly it can fluctuate, and sometimes it does fall a little, but the trend is obvious. The price of oil is high and it’s likely to keep on rising.

Who is to blame and what are we to do?

We can always drive more slowly to save fuel. The up-side is it may make the roads safer but, if you stick to the speed limit already, it’s difficult to go much more slowly anyway.

Have you tried sticking to 70 on a motorway? It’s a nightmare. You’re going more slowly than almost everyone else and even in the slow lane you find massive lorries bearing down on you as if they’re in that old Steven Spielberg movie “Duel”.

We could trade in our gas-guzzlers for environmentally-friendly eco-cars. I’ve tried that but the advertised 63 miles per gallon for a Volvo V50 turns out to be a disappointing 51 or 52.

Try as I might, I can’t get better fuel consumption than 54 mpg even if I do 30 on a dual carriageway – and who in their right mind does that?

We could try working from home but for most of us, most of the time, that’s impossible.

You have to go to meetings, meet customers and clients, work with other people or with machinery which won’t fit inside the average spare room. Home-working is a nice idea but mostly impractical.

There is always public transport, of course. Some journeys are best made by train and bus but most are not.

For the majority of us, it’s not an option no matter how much cheaper it may be than driving – even if you can stand the long delays, inconvenience, discomfort and unreliability of most services not to mention the indifference of the service-providers.

Given the chaos in the main oil-producing countries of the Middle East, the day of the £2 litre can’t be too far off.

Unfortunately, we depend on oil from corrupt and unstable countries. A quarter of world supplies come from the absolute monarchy of Saudi Arabia, 10 per cent from the mad mullahs of Iran, 8.6 per cent from Iraq.

Few of the world’s oil-supplying nations can be trusted to keep selling us with reasonably-priced crude. And even if they could, most of it is being bought up by the new superpower of China.

Even so, it is possible to cut the price of petrol and stop it rising ever-higher. Thanks to Government taxes, Britain has the second most expensive petrol in the world.

Only in Holland do they pay more – and they get about on bicycles because it’s so flat.

Despite all the oil price rises, without tax the cost of a litre would be just over 50p.

Another 1p tax increase is due next month though Chancellor George Osborne may well cancel that in his Budget on March 23.

We shouldn’t be grateful if he does because January’s VAT increase added almost 3p a litre to the price.

Of course the Government must pay off the massive debts Gordon Brown left behind.
But the price of petrol is now so high it isn’t just forcing ordinary motorists off the roads, it’s adding massively to business costs, making Britain even more uncompetitive.

With the economy in the car park, if not heading for the scrap yard, our promised “Budget for growth” must do something about the way fuel taxes are holding back the whole country.

Forcing us out of our cars has always been the aim of the green environmental do-gooders who dominate Government these days.

Even they, though, might worry we still don’t have a viable alternative to the internal combustion engine.

Electric cars are unlikely ever to become a practical option – and, anyway, until we build a new generation of nuclear power plants, generating electricity will itself be environmentally unfriendly.

Drivers are an easy target for tax-gatherers but petrol prices are becoming prohibitive.

At £2 a litre our roads, rather like the Ritz, would still be open to everyone – but only the rich will use them.

And as long as the whole economy depends on road travel to keep it moving, our politicians will have to do better than cancelling a 1p rise in fuel duty.
Either that or we’ll all have to take up horse-riding.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Bloody-minded fruitcakes

The following is the text of a speech I gave the other day to a meeting of the Campaign Against Political Correctness in Dudley:

I’ve said it before and it’s got me into trouble - and I will say it again.

Enoch was right.

I know we are talking about political correctness and political correctness wasn’t really invented in Enoch Powell’s heyday.

Nevertheless, and in the context of political correctness, Enoch was right.

But I don’t intend to talk about immigration this evening. We’re here to talk about political correctness.

And in this context, I want to argue that there is nothing more PC – and, as a result, nothing more dangerous – than the way the politically-correct establishment has succeeded in destroying our national sovereignty.

(This was videoed and can be seen on YouTube)


I am delighted to have been asked to talk to you tonight. I don’t get out much these days.

Having mentioned Enoch Powell in an article in the Express & Star, there aren’t that many people who find me socially acceptable any more.

I don’t mind. I’d rather that than give up the right to free thought – even if, partly thanks to political correctness, free speech is now illegal.

Political correctness is the scourge of our time. It distorts reality and it is used as a form of social engineering by people who think they know better than us what is good for us.

It is often insidious. It often happens when you don’t even notice.

About 15 years ago, when I was still editor of The Birmingham Post, I drove into work one day and noticed all the posters advertising the city’s Christmas lights.

And I noticed that not one of these posters mentioned the word Christmas or contained any religious symbols.

We investigated whether this was a deliberate policy. We found that it was. We ran a story “Birmingham cancels Christmas” which the council hated.

Interestingly, they made the point that they had adopted the same politically-correct advertising the previous year – and nobody had noticed.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is the point. Nobody noticed. They cancelled Christmas and we were too busy getting on with our lives to realise.

If they’d got away with it for a few more years, you can be sure there would be no mention of this great Christian event in Birmingham today.

Even after the council’s first failed attempt to abandon Christmas, they didn’t give up. You will remember their attempts to rebrand the festive season as “Winterval”.

I hate, loathe and despise political correctness in all its forms.

Though the idea that one might hate, loathe or despise anything is – almost certainly – in itself an offence against political correctness.

We know all the stories.

Everything from the girl who was refused a job by the Environment Agency because she was “white English” not “white Welsh, Scottish or Irish” to the latest nonsense that says one company director in every four must be a woman.

Each example of the tyranny of political correctness makes our blood boil and is another turn of the screw which limits, prohibits, confines and denies us our freedom.

Most examples are the stuff that make grumpy old men like me seethe, spit and throw things at the TV.

Anti-racist mathematics.

Bed-and-breakfast landladies stitched up by gay rights activists.

Conservative Party all-women shortlists.

Not a day goes by without another example.

On Monday it was the ruling that a Christian couple who have already successfully fostered many children may no longer do so because of their views on gay sex.

Yesterday the European Court of Justice flew in the face of common sense by making it illegal to favour women when it comes to the cost of car insurance – and at the same time penalising men over pensions.

Women are safer drivers, so they merit lower insurance premiums; men die earlier so their pensions won’t be as costly. The insurance industry knows this and prices accordingly. But sex discrimination laws apparently make this illegal.

Today comes news that in Essex, a specialist team is to be employed to remove a pensioner’s rubbish after health and safety experts ruled the local dustmen – should that be waste executives – might injure themselves on his wheelie bin.

Everywhere we look, political correctness is changing our world.

It moulds our society, our government and our lives.


I do not intend to talk about immigration. I suspect most of you know my views on that subject and, with every day that passes, I am more than ever convinced that what I said was fair, reasonable and in line with the – suppressed – views of the majority of people.

If the price of discussing this is to be labelled “racist” then it’s a price one must pay.

I do not believe I am a racist.

I do not believe it is racist to warn that uncontrolled immigration will change – has changed – this country dramatically.

I do not believe it is racist to evoke the name Enoch Powell – the first, and almost the only, politician of note prepared to stand against the tide.


So I shall again evoke the name of Enoch Powell. In the 1970s, he was one of the few politicians willing to stand out against the tide of politically-correct opinion running in favour of the Common Market.

Here are a few quotes. He said:

It would “strip the British Parliament of its historic right to be the sole source of legitimate power in this realm”.

He said this country would be reduced to “a province of the new super-state of Western Europe”.

Membership was “a renunciation of Britain’s parliamentary and political independence. The question of Britain and the EEC isn’t a question of the price of butter. It’s a question of the national existence and independence of Britain itself.

“The whole business of food prices and the Common Agricultural Policy is a specimen on the degradation of Britain from a nation to a province.

“In small things and in great things alike, there is no future for the British people that they will find tolerable except as a sovereign, self-governing nation state.”


I think he was right and I want to look at the way political correctness has so clouded and distorted the judgment of politicians that our country has given away its sovereignty and independence.

We are run by alien institutions – the European Union, The European Court of Justice and the European Court of Human Rights.

Our politicians chose to give away our sovereignty.

I contend they did so for politically-correct reasons.

And the destruction of our national independence is perhaps the ultimate example of the insidious process of political correctness at work.

Let’s go back to the days of the Common Market.

Do you remember that expression?

It referred to a free-trade area where countries could co-operate with one another freely and happily.

After Europe’s long and bloody history of wars, a free-trade zone was a good idea.

It’s quite understandable and worth supporting the concept that the destruction of barriers to trade would create a better understanding and peaceful co-operation between countries which had so recently been at each other’s throats.

When we had our referendum on the subject of a Common Market, very few people suggested this would lead to the creation of a European super-state.

But you only have to look at how the name of this entity has evolved to see how its ambitions have insidiously grown:

Common Market; European Economic Community; European Community; European Union.

We allowed this to happen. Our political leaders, our opinion-formers, our universities, our civil servants, our journalists.

We allowed this to happen.

We allowed the Common Market to become the European Union. We let it take on the trappings of a superpower.

We are still letting it happen.

And I contend that the reason for this is that being pro-Europe rapidly became the politically-correct position to adopt.

In 1976, left-wing Socialists like Tony Benn opposed Britain’s entry. A decade later, Europe was as a means of imposing Socialism even on Thatcherite Britain.

And there have been plenty of Conservatives willing to go along with this conspiracy.

What was once a noble attempt to prevent the countries of Europe going to war with each other has become the unthinking default position for the politically-correct establishment classes in this country.

Europe has, of course, been embraced by both Labour and the Liberal Democrats. The Tories, who might be expected to assert this country’s independence and sovereignty, have been dogged down the years by leading figures who have chosen to adopt the politically correct position of supporting the EU.


In the late 1980s, Nigel Lawson as Chancellor and Geoffrey Howe as Foreign Secretary brought down Margaret Thatcher because of her Euroscepticism.

If you recall, Lawson created the recession of the early 1990s by refusing to devalue the pound.

He did this by manipulating interest rates, thus slowing down the whole economy. And his whole aim was to maintain an artificial price for the pound against the Deutschmark.

The reason for this was to prepare Britain for entry into the European exchange rate mechanism, the forerunner of the single European currency, the imaginatively titled Euro.

This led in the end to the political disaster and economic triumph of Black Wednesday when John Major, Norman Lamont – and his aide David Cameron – were humiliatingly forced to abandon the European exchange rate mechanism.

They were victims of the collective belief that to be “good Europeans” we had to abandon our economic sovereignty and hand it over to Brussels.

Luckily for us, the markets saw through all this and refused to allow our misguided politicians to get their own way.

And the greatest achievements of Gordon Brown – perhaps his only achievement – but an achievement nonetheless – was to stop Tony Blair repeating the same mistake.

If we were in the Euro today, our recession – bad as it undoubtedly is – would be far worse.

One of the saving graces at the moment is that British manufacturing has had a modest revival.

This is because of the weak pound. The pound is, in my view, under-valued against the Euro but that is no bad thing.

It means companies like Jaguar can sell their cars at competitive prices abroad. Indeed, someone told me the other day that Japan now regards this country as a low-cost manufacturing base in the same way we used to think of China.

Look at poor old Ireland. Having struggled for years to free itself from the British imperial yoke, what happens?

They hand sovereignty over to Brussels and after the illusory Celtic Tiger disappeared in a puff of smoke, they are stuck with the Euro. They can’t devalue.

They are stuck with an unrealistic exchange rate and their economic crisis will be long and dismal. Entirely as a result of believing the Euro propaganda.

Thank goodness the politically-correct view of the Euro did not prevail here.

It wasn’t for want of trying.

Tony Blair was desperate to be a good European. He thought it marked him out as a progressive, liberal socialist.

That’s why he signed us up to the disastrous European convention on human rights.

I don’t think there’s any doubt he would have signed up to the Euro as well had Gordon Brown not refused to play along with him.

The point, though, is that, since the early 1980s at least, it has been politically incorrect to argue against ever-increasing union across Europe.


Sceptics and opponents of the EU have for years been marginalised.

David Cameron called UKIP members “fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists” and that is the attitude of the majority of our mainstream metropolitan elite.

There have always been politicians willing to oppose the EU’s ever-increasing influence on our lives. But the strength of the Coalition of Lib-Dems, Blairites and pro-Euro Conservatives has ensured they remain marginalised.

The politically-correct position is hard to oppose. This is especially so because what might be called the organs of the state are so rapidly Europhile.

I could go on ad nauseam about the way the BBC opposes Britain and the British at every turn.

The point is, though, that it is still the most influential medium that we have. It is not all-pervasive and it does face competition.

But if it were not a Government mouthpiece paid for by its own dedicated poll-tax, it would have been broken up and sold off years ago because it enjoys an entirely unwarranted monopoly position in our media.

I should add, incidentally, that the vast sums it now spends on its website and internet presence are astonishingly anti-competitive. Its millions are partly to blame for the demise of a daily Birmingham Post and the decline of all our regional newspapers.

The main point, though, is that political correctness dictates it is racist, xenophobic and basically nuts to believe that this country’s laws should be determined by the people of this country through their elected representatives.


We have come a long way since we joined the Common Market. We no longer think of a free trade area. We talk of a Union – the United States of Europe.

I am constantly reminded of George Orwell’s 1984. Three great powers: Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia are constantly at war.

In this world, you are not allowed to think for yourself. If you have an unacceptable opinion, you are subjected to political re-education.

The Ministry of Love is in charge of the thought police.

The Ministry of Plenty deals with food shortages.

The Ministry of Peace fights the wars.

The Ministry of Truth keeps everyone subdued by its constant diet of propaganda.

And, all the while, big brother is watching you.

In Orwell’s world, thoughtcrime is an offence. Just as it is today.

He was writing of a world which was the logical extension of the totalitarianism – fascist and Communist – of the 1930s and 1940s.

Life is not as bad as Orwell imagined. We do have some freedom. I am free to express my contempt for the politically-correct world we live in.

But those freedoms are limited and circumscribed. If I was not careful, I could find myself accused of some sort of thoughtcrime.

There are so many ways of inadvertently committing a thoughtcrime offence. Jokes are among the worst.

I might refer disparagingly to female linespeople, for instance, suggest there might be something not quite right about gay marriages or, as the rugby commentator Brian Moore did, make a joke which apparently disparaged disabled people.

Thoughcrime can destroy people’s careers.

Rousseau said “Man is born free but everywhere he is in chains”.

We are not slaves. We are free men (free persons). But we are constrained by the diktats of the politically-correct elite.

The pressure groups, politicians and pundits who tell us what we may and may not think and say and feel.

Political correctness is a deliberate policy used to deny us freedom of speech and freedom of thought.

Political correctness is not just a joke or something for grumpy old men like me to get cross about.

It has become so all-pervasive it colours everyone’s judgment – we are all afraid of thinking, let alone saying, something which could offend the thought police.

Thanks to political correctness, it has become almost impossible to have a real debate on the great issues of the day.

One example, as I have said, is how we have handed away our sovereignty – and with it our national identity – to Brussels while the politically-correct thought police have stifled and silenced dissent.

It is dangerously insidious process. It takes time. That doesn’t mean it isn’t winning.

Each small victory for political correctness leads on to the next and the next.

It has to be challenged at every step. I don’t know whether it can ever be halted.

I hope it can. But it won’t be easy.

You have to be courageous or foolhardy to stand up for any belief that runs contrary to the politically-correct mainstream.

Luckily, the English are bloody-minded enough to give it a go.

You wouldn’t be here tonight if you were not bloody minded.

Congratulations on your bloody-mindedness.

In an interview with Al Jazeera this week David Cameron declared: “I don't believe an In/Out referendum is right, because I don't believe that leaving the European Union would be in Britain's interests.”

The incredible arrogance of this takes your breath away.

It is the epitome of politicical correctness. Mr Cameron won't let us have a vote because he assumes we will vote in what he regards as the "wrong" way. He doesn't trust us. He doesn't trust democracy.

I’ll finish with another quote from Enoch Powell:

“Of all the silliest sayings, one of the silliest is the saying, ‘You can’t put the clock back’

“If course you can put the clock back and you often do. If a clock is showing the wrong time, you put it back or forward, whichever is necessary, without the slightest hesitation.

“If a mistake has been made we ought to put it right if we can.

“We ought always to be on our guard against those who whisper in our ear, ‘It’s done now and it can’t be undone’. Those are commonly the voices of cowardice or indolence and sometimes of downright evil intent.

“The mistake Britain made in becoming a part of the European Economic Community is not irreversible.”