Monthly Archives: April 2016

A swift divorce?

An article appeared on Reuters yesterday, mentioned by Richard North in his article, which stated that, in the event of a Leave vote by the electorate of the United Kingdom, the European Union would seek a swift divorce from the United Kingdom, coupled with statements by two EU sources familiar with the bloc’s latest thinking on a possible Brexit telling Reuters on Thursday that there was no appetite to grant any extension of the two years provided by Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty for negotiating a withdrawal, while any new trade partnership would take many more years to conclude. The Reuters article also states that tentative plans exist for the Commission to hold a rare Sunday meeting on June 26 to set its strategy; and that EU leaders would hold a brief summit with Britain two days later, at which London would be expected to give formal notice to quit.

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Democracy for sale?

Mark Wallace, writing on ConservativeHome, reports Michael Crick is tweeting that the Conservative Party is ‘watering-down’ its manifesto pledge of trade union reforms and that a ‘deal’ has been struck between ministers and unions, thus allowing Alan Johnson’s pro-EU campaign to spend £1.7m over and above the £75,000 provided by the referendum rules. 

The fear the government has that it will need Labour votes come the referendum in order to achieve the Remain result they want is apparently the reason for the ‘watering-down’ of its general election manifesto pledge.

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More twaddle from those who should know better……….

Yesterday saw the publication of a report from the HoC Foreign Affairs Committee, one entitled: Implications of the referendum on EU memmbership for the UK’s role in the world.

As with the electorate, the Foreign Affairs Committee acknowledges that it too is divided on the question of Britain’s EU membership; stating that they see this division as an opportunity to provide an informed and balanced analysis. Reading those words it was hoped that an informed and balanced analysis would be forthcoming; unfortunately all the report informed us was that, once again, those attempting to enlighten the electorate demonstrated their total lack of understanding of even basic facts. As a result my view of this FAC report is not very high, if I may be so ‘Crispin’.

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What might have been?

Back in 2012 an event took place that was, one could say, ground-breaking where the subject of democracy in this country is concerned and in which I was invoved in the initial stages; namely the formation of The Harrogate Agenda. It was due to my disagreement in respect of the direction it was being taken that prompted my subsequent resignation.

As readers may be aware The Harrogate Agenda is a means of returning power to the people instead of leaving it where it currently resides: with politicians. The reason for aiming to return power to the people is because ‘democracy’ derives from the Greek: ‘demos’ – people; ‘krartos’ – power; hence: people power.

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Electoral Commission/Lead Brexit Designation

No doubt others will write more in depth on this subject than this attempt, however…….

The decision of the Electoral Commission and their decision today with regard to ‘lead designation’ – and the paucity of the submissions made, where content is concened – leaves one completely astounded and flumoxed, whilst also raising questions as to what pressure has been brought to bear by ‘hands unseen’.

For @Strongerin to be designated as lead campaigner for the Remain side is laughable, especially when it is obvious that the Remain campaign per se is domiciled in Number 10 Downing Street; which leads one to think that the Remain campaign will be ‘a rose by another name’.

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Judas was paid (and is still being paid)

There has been some comment in the media and blogs about the call made to the ‘young’  among our society for them to vote to remain a member of the European Union; coupled with comments denigrating the views of the over-65’s accusing them of not thinking about the future of their children and grandchildren in their wish to sever this country’s membership of the European Union.

Those advocating this ‘think of the children’ meme seem to forget a few things: that it is the taxes extracted from the over-65’s that paid for their education (such as it was); that paid for the home in which they were reared; that paid for the NHS when they have required its use; that everything they now ‘enjoy’ has been provided for them by the hard work (and thrift) of their elders; and that some of the generation they now resile gave their lives to ensure that they (the young) did not grow up under Nazi rule.

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The vagaries of the Data Protection Act

Since moving to Seaham I have taken on the responsibility for the management of a portfolio of rental properties.

The landlord in question has decided to sell that property portfolio, in a town situated in Cleveland, and to relocate said portfolio ‘closer to home’.

In one particular property, the tenant inadvertantly ‘short-circuited’ the need to issue formal notice for possession (a Section 21) by informing me, just before Christmas, he would be moving at some time in the near future. It was agreed with this tenant that he would remain in close contact, advising me of developments regarding his move.

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But it was happening on his ‘watch’………!

Memory is the mother of all wisdom
Aeschylus

In which case MIchael Gove has no wisdom – but then few politicians do.

Justice Secretary Michael Gove has called for the EU to withdraw “propaganda” aimed at children during the upcoming referendum campaign (source). It beggars belief that Gove should consider the attempt to ‘form young minds’ unacceptable during the referendum campaign when it has been going on for some time now.

Cast your minds back to this article of just under a month , which in turn directed readers to an article of mine of four years ago – yes four years!

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That £9.3m 14-page Colour Brochure

A number of points arise with the publication of the Government’s 14-page colour brochure, namely:

  • The Government have spent £2.3m more than that allowed to the ‘lead campaigners’ (albeit outside the ‘designated period’) which does not include the cost of Cameron’s propaganda trip around the UK; oor that of his ministers who have ‘parrotted’ his message;
  • The Minister for Europe, David Lidington MP, stated that: ……the Government is not a campaign: it is not the Government’s job to supplant the role of the lead campaign organisations during the referendum campaign, and it is certainly not our intention to act in that way (Hansard, 16 June 2015, col. 234, (link);
  • The Minister for Europe, David Lidington MP: Let me repeat that we have no intention of legislating to allow the Government to do things such as mailshots, paid advertising or leafleting (Hansard, 7 September 2015, col. 89, (link);
  • The Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond MP, promised that: ……The Government will exercise proper restraint to ensure a balanced debate during the campaign (Hansard, 9 June 2015, col. 1055, (link);
  • The Venice Commission on referendums (page 17) states: 13. The situation is different in the case of referendums, since it is legitimate for the different organs of government to convey their viewpoint in the debate for or against the text put to the vote. They must not abuse their position, however. In any event, the use of public funds for campaigning purposes must be prohibited in order to guarantee equality of opportunity and the freedom of voters to form an opinion. In addition, the public authorities at every level (national, regional or local), must not engage in excessive, one-sided campaigning, but show neutrality. Clearly, this does not mean they will not take a stand, but they must provide a certain amount of necessary information in order to enable voters to arrive at an informed opinion. Voters must be able to acquaint themselves, sufficiently in advance, with both the text put to the vote and, above all, a detailed explanation (link);
  • It is all very well for the Government to state that: The EU Referendum Act 2015 commits the Government to provide information to the public on EU membership ahead of the vote, and that is what we will do (link); but what they have not done is to present balanced information.
  • The Electoral Commission have criticised the Government over the publication of their brochure, stating, in an unusually pointed comment: We don’t think the government should have done it but it’s not illegal; continuing that: the use of government money during the Scottish Independence campaign could “undermine the principle” of spending limits (link).

Lidington and Hammond chose their words very carefully (do not all politicians?) and were obviously referring to the ‘designated period’; yet deliberately, I think, left their phraseology sufficiently vague in order to convey an entirely different interpretation.

The Venice Commission, which is an advisory body of the Council of Europe (The Commission’s official name is the European Commission for Democracy through Law, but due to its meeting place in Venice, where sessions take place four times a year, it is usually referred to as the Venice Commission – plus, I believe it is correct to say, the UK is a signatory to this body), shows that the Government have abused their position and that they have been far from neutral when considering this 14-page colour brochure, coupled with the statements issued in the last few weeks by government Secretaries of State and Ministers.

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There you have it from the horse’s mouth

The Commission does not take the blame because it does not care about the political cost, The Commission is here for five years to do its job and we did it with vision, responsibility and commitment. Because what is driving us is not to be reelected. That is why for us the political cost means nothing (Emphasis mine). Dimitris Avramopoulos – EU Commissioner, Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship. (Source)

He was speaking about the latest proposals of the EU Commission in respect of the Commission’s changes to the ‘Dublin Agreement’. Digressing slightly, the European Union is supposedly founded on the values of democracy (Article 2, Lisbon Treaty: Preamble) – and with that statement all one can ask is: wherefore democracy?

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