Monthly Archives: October 2015

Lies, Damned Lies and Facts

Yesterday, in the House of Commons, David Cameron repeated his dismissal of the ‘Norway Option’ as an alternative form of membership of the European Union, stating that Norway has no seat at the table and no ability to negotiate – something he repeated on Facebook.

Readers will recall my handing David Cameron a ‘dossier, during a meeting at his constituency office in Witney. Readers will also recall that in his response he stated that he could not agree with a number of the points I made, eventually informing me that he was drawing our correspondence to a close. In that dossier facts were presented to David Cameron which showed that Norway does have a seat at top tables and does have the ability to negotiate as a result of being heavily involved in the various stages by which EU law is implemented.

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What a contradiction!

At PMQs today Christpher Pincher – Conservative: Tamworth – (starts 01:00:57) rose to ask David Cameron whether, on the question of the UK’s reformed relationship with the EU, he [David Cameron] would confirm that no option is ‘off the table’ and that all British options would be considered; including one similar to Norway.

David Cameron replied that no options were off the table and went on to say that some wishing to leave the EU point to Norway stating her position is a good outcome. He continued that Norway has ‘no seat at the table’ and ‘no ability to negotiate’ – in effect ruling that option out.

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Democracy – and why we haven’t got it

The Minister for Local Growth & the Northern Powerhouse James Wharton writes about the devolution of power and support of the devolution deals taking power from Whitehall and returning it to communities.

He writes how devolution can give voters, civic leaders and businesses power over the decisions which affect them and which shape their local environment. Elected ‘civic leaders’ can only be held to account by voters once every four years, so just how can the people who are subject to decisions made by those (businesses) over whom they have no real control whatsoever hold them to account? Paraphrasing this article, business needs to learn one thing: how we are governed is not the business of business.

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How to create an EU Region

Anyone see how he did that: the usual question among an audience of a magician when he performs a trick using sleight of hand.

George Osborne has announced two new Northern Powerhouses – in the shape of the North East Combined Authority and the Tees Valley Combined Authority – under the guise of city-region devolution deals. The former comprises seven councils, namely: Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle, North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Northumberland and Sunderland – with the latter comprising five councils, namely: Darlington, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Redcar & Cleveland and Stockton-On-Tees.

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Chicken and egg?

Correspondence seen by the BBC shows the government is considering whether elected Police and Crime Commissioners should have greater powers to put up council tax. At the moment they need to hold a referendum if they increase the charge for policing on council tax bills by more than 2%. Some Police and Crime Commissioners want the referendum rule scrapped.


Little noticed, it seems, is the extract above from a BBC news article.

The Conservative 2015 election manifesto does not make – to my knowledge – any such reference to increasing the powers of Police and Crime Commissioners, other than:  develop the role of our elected and accountable Police and Crime Commissioners (page 59). Readers will recall that the first incumbents were elected, on an extremely low turnout, in 2012. Those elected were to serve a term of 3½ years, with the next elections due to be held in May 2016 when the elected term will be 4 years. Police and Crime Commissioners are no more ‘accountable’ than are MPs – consider: how are either of them ‘accountable’ when they have been given ‘carte-blanche’ for 4 or 5 years?

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Time waits for no man – so they say

With Leave EU and Vote Leave behaving like two ferrets in a sack, the CBI publishing a pamphlet with so many inaccuracies contained therein – at which point one has to wonder at their audacity in even publishing it – and the Referendum Planning Group (RPG) not entering the fray so we are informed until February next year, the question to be asked is whether the public are being provided with balanced information.

While the RPG believe the ‘battle’ does not begin until David Cameron sets out his agenda, presumably they are keeping their ‘powder dry’ – fond as they are for military phraseology – unfortunately it would seem that events have overtaken their planning in that the two aforementioned ‘Outer’ Groups – and the joke that passes for the ‘In’ group – have ‘upped the anti’ somewhat.

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Er, What day of the week is it?

Open Europe’s Daily Press Summarywhich is emailed to subscribers, is sub-titled: ‘The Daily Shakeup – Cut through the chatter’, while one of the sub-headings is ‘Intelligence’.

Today we are informed that: The Daily Telegraph reports that six Cabinet ministers have demanded that collective responsibility be waived so that they are allowed to campaign for Brexit. The article cites unnamed ministers saying it would be “insane” for David Cameron not to allow this and that it would lead to a “bitterly divided party”. Meanwhile, the Sunday Times reported that, according to unnamed Conservative party sources, Cameron is considering a reshuffle ahead of the referendum to purge the Cabinet of its most sceptical members. Separately, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said in an interview with the BBC, “I think we’re all Eurosceptics now. I don’t see any ‘Eurofanatics’ around the Cabinet table.” The Vote Leave campaign has claimed that David Cameron has ditched 14 of the 24 pledges that he had previously said he wanted to renegotiate. These include calls to limit the powers of the European Court of Justice and to repatriate social and employment policy.

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Passing thoughts……….

……..which constitute nothing but a series of yawns at that which the media (and bloggers) consider important.

1. James Forsyth, writing in the Speccie, states: The upshot of all this, though, is that the date for the referendum is slipping back. At the moment, autumn 2016 is the government’s preferred date. But members of the Cabinet, including those on the Europe committee, are increasingly talking about a 2017 date. Tellingly, I understand that the Cabinet committee hasn’t even discussed a date for the referendum yet.

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It’s October, not August – or is it?

Within the field of politics it is generally accepted that August is the ‘silly season’, during which we are regaled with all the ‘wacky’ news and views both featuring those of whom we have heard and those of whom our first reaction is: who the hell are they.

We have only begun what may be termed ‘the phony EU Referendum’ period and already we have those with idiotic, unfounded and totally illogical views of what this referendum is about, spouting forth.

Joining the likes of Elliott, Rose, Farage and all the other comedic figures that are tryng to impress us with their knowledge (not) of ‘matters EU’, we now have Charlie Mullins and Caroline Lucas. To which all one can say to Charlie Mullins is: stick to plumbing (which presumably he knows something about – or not as the case maybe) because his article only exhibits what an ass/arse he is. For example, he claims that by ceasing our membership of the EU we would no longer have a place at the ‘top table – FCS, how can anyone ‘manage’ a company and not be aware of the origin of standards to which he has to adhere?

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Big Fleas have little fleas, etc, etc

Big fleas have little fleas,
Upon their backs to bite ’em,
And little fleas have lesser fleas,
and so, ad infinitum.

We all know the nursery rhyme, which is closely based on lines by Jonathan Swift from his long satirical poem “On Poetry: a Rhapsody” (1733):

The vermin only teaze and pinch
Their foes superior by an inch.
So, naturalists observe, a flea
Has smaller fleas that on him prey;
And these have smaller still to bite ’em,
And so proceed ad infinitum.

A few days ago, on the 8th to be precise, EU Transport Ministers unanimously adopted a general agreement on the two market pillar proposals of the 4th Railway Package, on Governance and Public Service Obligations – which kinda makes a mockery of this country paying Patrick McLoughlin to be its Secretary of State for Transport. This idea of ‘Governance and Public Service Obligations’ sure as hell did not originate in Brussels – no, try here.

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