Monthly Archives: March 2010

>If Eu Have Nothing To Hide, Eu Have Nothing To Fear

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Does anyone remember when governments were pushing for the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty the one aspect they emphasised more than others was how the treaty would ‘bring democracy closer to the people’ and it was therefore “A Good Thing”.   A “citizens’ legislative initiative”  was to be introduced whereby petitions with over one million signatures would be considered by the European Parliament.  However, as always with this bunch of post-democracy d/heads the devil is in the detail because there are other conditions which at first weren’t made quite so public:

  • The one million signatories must come from at least one third of EU nations.
  • Brussels proposes a minimum number of signatories for each participating country. This number “should be degressively proportional to the size of each member state.” In other words, a smaller state will need proportionately more signatories than a bigger state.
  • Each petition must first be registered and subject to an ‘admissibility check’ by the Commission, when at least 300,000 signatures are collected.
  • The petition must concern “a matter where a legal act of the Union can be adopted for the purpose of implementing the Treaties” and it has to fall “within the framework of the powers of the Commission to make a proposal.”
  • Signatures must be gathered “within a period that shall not exceed 12 months,” after which the process should start again.

And the nail in the coffin of EU transparency and democracy is this:

  • Each signatory of a petition will have to provide a variety of personal data, including name, street address, email address, date and place of birth, nationality and personal identification numbers (passport; ID card; and social security).

I’m dejected:  there only seems to be we happy few who care about it.  I just don’t understand the apathy and the apparent willingness to rush headlong and blindfold into a dystopian dreamworld like this.  How long will it be before we’re labelled as terrorists and agitators in our brave new world?

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>Kick ‘Em Out

>This rotten government spent £207.9m of public money on advertising last year  – more than any other body.  £85m was spent on tv advertising, £52.1m on radio and £47.4m on the press.  It’s high time they were shown the door. 
At a time when private advertising is being cut back these thieves of the public purse use taxation for self-promotion and ‘know your place’ warnings to the public.  We really are a tolerant people. Too tolerant.

>Oink Protest: 10am

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If you’re in the area this morning, MPs Morley, Devine, Chaytor and Lord Hanningfield are appearing again at Southwark Crown Court at 10am.  Full details  and map at:  Sunlight Centre for Open Politics

UPDATE: Thanks to Ollie for the info: They’ve been excused from court attendance by Judge Geoffrey Rivlin QC. Why?

>Quote Of The Day

>From Gordon Brown:  “We made it clear a few months ago, and this was a decision that we asked the European Union to make, that there would be no further constitutional and institutional change of that sort over the next ten years.  So we made it absolutely clear that the European Union should not be contemplating further constitutional or institutional change in the way that is suggested.

As far as improving the way the European Union works I think there is a case for that improvement to happen and we will join those forces at work in this task-force to make sure that there is better and improved governing of the European Union, that’s what we will do.”

We’d better keep our eyes open for attached Protocols and footnotes of footnotes hidden in Appendices then!

He was responding to a question from Gisela Stuart (Lab, Birmingham Edgbaston): “There were reports in the press over the w/end that Angela Merkel is calling for an economic government.  That would require Treaty changes.  If this were to be the case could I press the Prime Minister to a commitment that that would also involve a referendum in this country.”

During his statement on the European Council Meeting this afternoon in the House Brown was back on form with the stuttering and false starts – the nutter with the stutter that we all remember.  Cameron was tough, as usual, and Nick Clegg nibbled the ankles of both of them.  Harriet seems to have a cold.  Bercow told the PM to focus his replies (!)

Sir Peter Tatchell (Con. Louth & Horncastle) asked a similar question to Stuart – “… lead to Berlin being able to dictate British tax policy”Brown“That is not the proposal.”

Even Dennis Skinner (Lab, Bolsover) was sufficiently moved to stand and praise Brown for keeping Britain out of the euro.

Angus Robertson (SNP, Moray) once again attempted to get the PM to answer his question, first asked two weeks ago at PMQs, whether a No.10 staffer took part in a conference call discussing the suitability of Steven Purcell (ex-leader Glasgow CC) in July 2008.  To shouts of, “Hey, hey,” and, “He’s running away,” Brown scurried, head down, out of the Chamber.  Robertson raised it as a Point of Order, which it wasn’t, but at least it once again drew attention to Brown’s ability to avoid answering those questions he dislikes: which means pretty much all of them.

>Cricket Bats At The Ready

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When the children were growing up there was always sports equipment in the hallway, and not always because they’d just come back from a match.  I found the sight of a cricket bat under the stairs quite reassuring and it’s a habit I’m thinking of re-adopting in light of this from Exeter Police:

“Officers walked into residents’ homes without their knowledge through unlocked doors and windows and left behind ‘swag bags’ packed with valuable items they found in the homes.
Some residents were at home at the time officers entered but were unaware they were being ‘burgled’ as part of an anti-crime drive in Exeter, Devon.
Police entered more than 50 unsecured properties in a controversial operation designed to show how easy it is for burglars to get into homes.”

A few months ago when this strategy was first aired, I thought the public outcry would make them think twice and bin it but I should have known better.  I look forward to the first prosecution.  Muppets.

>Overhaul Of MPs’ Allowances

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Sir Ian Kennedy, chair of the standards committee, has announced measures to overhaul MPs’ expenses/allowances system.  The main points are:

  • Taxpayer-funded second homes will be replaced by one-bedroom rented properties.
  • MPs will not qualify for support if they live within twenty miles of their constituency.
  • Additional support available for those who care for others: MPs will qualify if they have children under five, they are single parents or have children getting additional state support.
  • Cost of cleaning and gardening will not be met.
  • No help with daily commute but cost of trips to constituency on public transport will be reimbursed.
  • Staffing budget to be based on 3 full-time employees subject to a contract.
  • Will be able to employ “connected parties”, with safeguards. Only one connected person with agreed contract and no bonuses. New rules will not affect family or partners already working for MPs.
  • ‘Winding-up’ costs on leaving Parliament will be covered for two months.
  • Resettlement allowances will not be met by the taxpayer.

Let the whingeing begin.

>Osborne/Clarke/Hammond

>I’ve just watched the Osborne press conference and it looks as though my faith in him is vindicated.  Expect the sniping from Labour and the msm to be stepped up a notch!

http://news.sky.com/sky-news/app/skynewsflash/OBU_Player_30.swf?type=embedded&baseColor=6710886&highlightColor=16711680&channel_key=News&ad_channel=2169867&ad_alias=pre_skynews_skynews_Home_Politics&networkId=999.1&unique_id=2234077&media_title=ToriesToScrapPartOfNIRisePlans&attrib_url=http://news.sky.com&video_url=http://static1.sky.com//feeds/skynews/latest/flash/ACT-BB-MO-TAX-OSBORNE-280310.flv&smoothing=true&tracking_account=DM530320KARC

What I gleaned from it is that 20m workers earning less than £43k pa will receive a tax cut by the simple expediency of raising the Nat.Ins threshold.  It will be offset by cutting an already-identified £6bn waste in govt spending immediately rather than waiting until next year (the latter being Labour’s stated option – but if the savings are there to be made now, why wait a year before winkling out the waste?).  This is on top of savings of £7bn announced last year at the Tory Conference = £13bn total.  It must be stressed that all these savings are as a result of cutting dead wood and wasteful expenditure; not one front-line public sector job will be lost.

Cut taxes: cut wasteful spending.  It’s a good start and it seems like a winner to me.

As well as raising the NI threshold Osborne also said that defence spending would be protected for the first year while the Strategic Defence Review is carried out.

Channel 4’s Ask the Chancellors debate is at 8pm this evening and there will be live blogs/chats galore plus instant audience reaction via the  tv red button.

UPDATE:  This from ConHome:

“The Conservatives plan to start (and expand) an anti-waste programme that the Government does not intend to implement until next year. They have been advised that this is possible by the Government’s own former efficiency advisors – Sir Peter Gershon and Dr Martin Reid – both of whom have been advising the Conservatives. They advise that £12bn of savings are possible in 2010* if five areas of spending are tackled:

  1. A halt to new spending on IT projects and cancellation of existing ones that are not going to work;
  2. Renegotiation of all state-private contracts in the same way that the private sector has been renegotiating to cut costs – Philip Hammond said many suppliers that had been talking to the Conservatives said existing contracts were sub-optimal;
  3. Controlling recruitment. Productivity was up 20% in the private service sector but it’s fallen in the public sector. As non-frontline vacancies arise they should not automatically be filled;
  4. The brake needs to be put on discretionary spending including travel and office consumables;
  5. Reductions in public sector property costs.

£6bn of these savings will be used to avoid most of the NI rise.  The other £6bn will be re-invested in the NHS, the overseas aid budget AND defence.”