Archive Page 2

Ukraine: What’s good for the goose…

When Vladimir Putin gave his solemn pledge to the Americans that Russia would not invade Ukraine, he sentence of reassurance should have been followed up with the words, ‘because we don’t have to’.

Instead of the traditional and blunt Russian tactic of formenting unrest in order to justify sending troops over a border into another state and securing a puppet government, it seems the Russians have taken a leaf out of the American CIA’s playbook and have ex-military civilians and hired guns fighting a proxy war. This is why Radio Free Europe is reporting today that a desperate search is on to prove that Russian forces are behind the coordinated actions.

This explains why General Philip Breedlove has seemlessly reversed his previous position – where he was rushing to every microphone to declare the Russians were building up a military force ahead of an invasion – to one where he now says he does not think Russia will invade Ukraine, that he believes the Kremlin has other ways to achieve its goals and that Moscow will keep a hold on eastern Ukraine without sending regular troops across the border.

This is exactly what the Americans have done in a number of countries over the years to give them deniability of intervention in conflicts, despite the language of the contractors and the origin of the military hardware being used. What has been good for the American goose now appears to be good for the Russian gander.  Putin is playing the American game and in so doing he has wrongfooted the Americans and is undermining their efforts to extend their influence further eastward.  It seems Ukraine has become the line in the sand where the Russians have decided that western expansion will end its march.

It demonstrates that the Russian approach has matured and is now multi dimensional, which will no doubt cause a flurry of activity in NATO about what this refined approach means for the way NATO armed forces will be organised. It certainly underlines how meaningless a gesture it was for the Americans to send troops for training and the UK to send aircraft to Poland.  The west failed to correctly read what the Russians were doing.

If any EU politicians in Brussels are paying attention, they might now realise that their expansionist aims eastwards, which have caused this crisis, will be met with a very different Russian approach to the one seen in the cold war.  Now it will be one that sees Moscow commit treasure and support, but no longer any regular manpower.

Such an approach will bog down any EU territorial and governance ambitions in unrest, slow burn conflict and ungovernability.  We have just witnessed a sea change, but will the EU notice?

If UKIP was really serious about the EU…

This is another of those compare and contrast moments that so annoy UKIP supporters who read this blog, but which are covered here because UKIP ignoring such major issues annoys me so much.

The Times (£) is reporting that a proposed levy on financial transactions by the EU, which could wipe more than £3.6bn from the value of UK shares and bonds and is being challenged by the UK, looks set to be approved by the courts. This has huge implications for already low yielding pensions and investments for ordinary people.

You would think UKIP would be all over this, hammering away in the media, getting faces in front of cameras, churning out press releases, using their colourful website to demonstrate how the UK’s mythical ‘influence’ in the EU is just that, a myth, and lambasting this raid on finances that will disproportionately damage UK financial markets.

But in the media, nothing. On UKIP’s website, not a word.  Another golden opportunity to make a powerful case for turning our backs on the EU has been missed.

Just weeks from its biggest election test ever in the European Elections, the UKIP website’s very latest news is two days old and concerns UKIP’s party election broadcast – and UKIP being the only party to campaign for St George’s Day to be a public holiday.  There’s a priority for you.  Has everyone from the London ‘freak show‘ nicked off early and gone to the pub again?

Four days ago the party declared that the European parliamentary elections battle was now getting underway in earnest.  Yet presented with a huge EU related story, they are silent and the media instead hoovers up unchallenged comment from the pro-EU muppets and fiction retailers at Open Europe.

So what is UKIP doing?

Instead of fighting to get this country out of the EU, UKIP is down in the gutter fighting yet another wholly avoidable reputational battle because one of its candidates, a Zimbabwean no less, who starred in their election broadcast, was (yet again) not vetted properly and has been shown to hold some rather unpleasant views.

While it’s all very well for Farage to be angry and say this man ‘slipped through the net‘ there is something about the party he has moulded that sees it continually attracting oddballs and those with racist or intolerant views – and it is putting decent people off the party and the anti-EU cause.

The party is also fighting against mockery of its takeoff of British jobs for British workers in that poster campaign, as it transpires the actor posing as an unemployed British builder is actually an immigrant from Ireland.

These cock ups follow Lizzy the ordinary voter from Devon who will support UKIP, actually being Lizzy from London who is the party’s events manager and is now trying to stop explicit photos of herself engaged in sex acts being put into the public domain.

The only conclusion we can draw is that UKIP isn’t serious about getting us out of the EU.  It is only bothered about winning a different game, but even that is something it doesn’t prepare for and ends up losing.

Of course, the moans and aggressive retorts will flood the inbox and the odd comment will be left here in an attempt to criticise me for ‘undermining’ the ‘only game in town’.  But these are people who are ignoring the reality of how badly led and run the party is and how much damage it is doing to the anti-EU side.  UKIP speaks for barely one third of voters who say they want to leave the EU.  But it is seen as the anti-EU vehicle and these avoidable injuries are completely self inflicted.

UKIP’s long suffering decent supporters – there are many of them in the party trying to make it a viable, anti-EU entity – and those who want to see the UK freed from the EU, deserve better.

Referendum, then what? Why UKIP FC might win the odd game, but won’t be challenging at the end of the season

While Nigel Farage was the focus on media attention yesterday, he said that:

If Ukip win these elections, a referendum, an opportunity for us to get back control of our country will be one massive, massive step closer.

The problem here is that an in/out referendum is seen as the be all and end all by Farage.  There are two major holes in his objective.

  1. How, in the first instance, will the anti-EU side win such a referendum in the face of FUD, misrepresentation and plain falsehoods when the people being asked to vote is many times greater than the combined audience of the recent debates? What is the plan to turn a current majority in favour of remaining in the EU to a majority in favour of leaving, particularly as UKIP is ever more focused on Westminster politics and issues such as gay marriage and HS2?
  2. Assuming a referendum is won, then what? What is the UKIP plan for events after the UK announces it is leaving the EU as set out in Article 50? What if any understanding does UKIP have of the global trading and regulatory environment into which the UK will boldly step, and what plan does it have to offer for making the transition and new arrangements a success?

The problem in British politics at the moment is tribalism, but tribalism with little or no philosophical base.  One look across comment threads on newspaper and blog websites lays this problem bare and shows that this is now more true of UKIP than any other party – which should be a huge concern to the anti-EU side. The political process now resembles more than ever something akin to football and UKIP is the club that wants to reach the Premier League but remains stuck firmly in the Conference…

All that seems to matter to the management and the vocal, cult-like supporters is the excitement of scoring goals and winning at the final whistle to get one over the opposition.  It is all superficial.  There is no detailed consideration or discussion about what makes a team successful behind the scenes, such as a set vision, effective management, leadership techniques, having the right coaches, physios on the backroom team, match strategies, repeated reviews of the previous games, the science of nutrition and fitness, training regimes, qualified scouting networks, and looking at the future opposition time and again to prepare the right tactics for the forthcoming matches.

When it comes to UKIP the management team is with the fans in the pub chewing over things like how many more fans they brought to the game, how crap the opposition fans’ support was, how their team deserved to win but were unlucky or cheated by the officials, how their players aren’t getting the recognition they think they should get, bemoaning poor write ups in the press match reports as biased rubbish, and only looking at the next match through the prism of which pub to get the best drink in, what songs to sing and how to make their presence felt, and looking at their mid-table position claiming they are making a push for promotion and that they will soon stun everyone.

Stepping away from the football analogy, what is the point of pushing for a referendum without any plan for winning it, or any idea of how to deal with what awaits the UK after leaving the EU?  The work that UKIP should be doing using the many resources at the party’s disposal – including financial – to develop, publish and campaign on a comprehensive workable plan for leaving the EU, is instead being done by a blogger.

Without the detail and the complexity having been worked out, there can be no catchy slogans, easy to understand one liners or bitesize soundbites to present to the public.  That is why the argument that the public don’t do detail doesn’t wash.

Without assurance that there is a detailed plan in place the public will not take the leap of voting to leave the EU.   Therefore details have to be carefully worked out and a compelling case made that the UK has positive reasons to leave the EU, and will have opportunities and benefits as a result.  The soundbites alone, with no plan behind them, will quickly be exposed as politicians just blowing more hot air and referendum will be lost.  But if we leave it to the fans in the pub, the armchair pundits, UKIP will not develop what is needed.  They are only bothered about the buzz of the match and don’t have a clue about what it takes to turn their team into winners.

UKIP – the best and the worst for the anti-EU side

UKIP’s billboard poster campaign is a curious mix of badly judged rubbish tempered by something more incisive that the party doesn’t do enough of.

The poster campaign tells us a great deal about the party’s approach to the forthcoming European Parliament elections and shows the party at both its best and worst, with implications for the wider anti-EU part of the electorate.  Starting with the worst…

The EU policy at work poster is plays on the anxieties of low and semi skilled workers, portraying a man in a hard hat who made to appear as though he has been adversely affected  by cheap labour coming to this country from other EU countries.  The problem with this is that only certain sectors have been affected and the impact has not been across the board.

Indeed many farmers have been grateful for cheap labour on their land, particularly at harvest when produce needs to be picked or dug up within a small time frame. Whereas they frequently struggled to hire enough labour for the task, labour from other EU states has ensured a reduction in produce spoil and maximised output.

The open goal missed here is that as an independent country we could decide what our needs are and welcome those with the skills we need, or who will perform tasks there there is a labour shortage.  But that isn’t what the poster says, as such it characterises the party in an unfavourable manner.

Then there is the casual ignorance of highly skilled roles that could not be filled, such as dentists, which now have been thanks to labour from EU member states, to the benefit of large numbers of patients.  Indeed my own excellent dentist is from Lithuania and prior to dentists from other EU countries coming to my town, getting NHS dentistry was all but impossible.  Are UKIP suggesting this is a bad thing? It is but one example, but there are others where this country’s less well off most certainly benefit.

Dentists from elsewhere in the EU were among those looking for work, but did not displace UK workers when providing a much needed service.  It shows this issue, and the one above regarding benefits of unskilled labour, is not as black and white as UKIP like to suggest; and without the application of some specifics and detail UKIP will only reinforce the electoral glass ceiling it has created for itself by alienating people who see there have been positives as well as negatives and may feel UKIP’s sweeping generalisations are irresponsible or plain inaccurate.

Then there is the bus/limo poster.  At first glance it’s clever, but there is an element of rank hypocrisy here because our daily grind is also funding the very comfortable lifestyles of UKIP’s MEPs.  UKIP separating themselves from the gravy train when they have first class seats on it is basically dishonest.

We have already found that Nigel Farage has been taking full advantage of any allowance going, but has also tapped into an opportunity to boost his European Parliament pension fund at taxpayers’ expense so that he stands to get a £71,000-a-year pension from the EU when he leaves retires.  Criticising other Eurocrats for something UKIP MEPs will also benefit from leaves the party open to attack, such as with the image below, which Richard showed on EU Referendum today.

Finally, however – the figures used in the wording notwithstanding – we find an intelligent piece of campaign material, below, that gets to the heart of the matter of who really runs this country.

This is the kind of thing that makes people think and cannot be countered – the EU runs the UK.  It is an honest reflection of reality and could be adjusted to address the concerns over control of immigration, the use of British taxpayers’ money, trade, international affairs and various other negatives this country experiences as a result of not being independent and self determining.  This is what UKIP can achieve when it applies some brain power.

This is what the whole anti-EU side needs, but sadly there is too little of it.  There are still many good people in UKIP, but as we have said before they are being let down by the slapdash ignorance of the leadership.  UKIP still deserves better.

What cannot be ignored about that Survation poll for UKIP in Eastleigh

What is clear from the Survation poll of the Eastleigh constituency, commissioned by UKIP’s Alan Bown, is that local factors are at play in Eastleigh that are seeing UKIP maintain strong support compared to nationwide polling.

Several outlets report on the poll, including the UKIP website, declaring that UKIP is on course to win the seat at the General Election because Survation has them attracting an incredible 32% support.

However, here we are seeing the same problem with the figures that are being reported as we saw in Survation polls for UKIP at the end of last year in Great Grimsby and Thanet South, where selective use of the polling data is giving a distorted view of the electoral calculus in the constituency.

What is being reported on and played up by the media is Table 5 in the Survation poll.

The data presented concerns this:

Q3 Voting Intention Tables – Normal Weighted Table and Likelihood Weighting
Q3. If that general election were to be held tomorrow, which party do you think you would be most likely to vote for in your Eastleigh constituency?

The results given, and being used as a sensational story, are:

UKIP – 31.7%
Conservative – 28.8%
Lib Dem – 25.7%
Labour – 12.0%
Green – 1.1%
Party not listed – 0.7%

But the figures do not give the true picture because they only show the preference of 316 people and crucially ignore the responses of a significant proportion of those polled:

Base : Respondents likely to vote in May 2015 election and Excluding Undecided/Refused

It is the exclusion of undecided voters and those who refused to say which party they would support which makes these headline figures basically worthless.

For the meaningful figures one must look at Table 4, for that is where we find the polling data for respondents who are likely to vote in the May 2015 election, including those who are yet to decide who to vote for, or who refused to tell the pollsters who they will support.  The numbers based on a sample of 472 people in the constituency are:

Undecided – 25.7%
UKIP – 21.2%
Conservative – 19.2%
Lib Dem – 17.1%
Labour – 8%
Refused – 7.6%
Green – 0.7%
Party not listed – 0.5%

No less than 33.3% – or exactly one in three people polled – are yet to make up their mind how to vote or have refused to say how they will vote.  If that is representative of the electorate across Eastleigh then of the possible 53,760 votes that might be polled (the 69% turnout in 2010) up to 17,900  votes are still up for grabs and are currently going to an unknown destination.  That is a huge number – larger than the winner of the 2013 by-election received – and ultimately it is those votes that will decide which party’s candidate wins the election.

This is not to do UKIP down.  Of course, it could be good news for UKIP if most of those people choose to vote for the party.  They would win a Parliamentary election for the first time.  But it could still be bad news for UKIP because those undecideds could break for the Conservatives or Lib Dems, putting either of those candidates into Westminster. There is an ‘embarrassment factor’ in polling that first emerged clearly in 1992, which particularly affects the Conservatives, where voters who are leaning towards voting Tory decline to say so because of the party’s unpopularity in the media.  That is one of many factors which underlines why there is a need for realism and perspective when looking at these polling figures.

In Eastleigh there is still everything to play for.  It remains a three-way marginal and UKIP is polling over 21% – which is way above their nationwide average.  But things are not necessarily as rosy for UKIP as the sensationalist headline suggests and events between now and May could change things in Eastleigh dramatically for or against UKIP.

Foodbanks and agendas

The only surprise is that it took this long.  The Daily Mail has decided to find out what goes on at foodbanks and how they are being used, following repeated, unchallenged shock horror stories from the BBC and Guardian about the dramatic increase in the use of free food handouts.

The Trussell Trust – Chairman, Labour Party member Chris Mould – is the organisation that is behind the rapid growth in the number of foodbanks.  The first question mark that raises doubts about the situations of many of the people using the foodbanks is that, irrespective of actual demand and for reasons known only to the Trust, has a goal of setting up 500 foodbanks around the country.  Back to that shortly.  From its origins in Bulgaria feeding homeless children sleeping rough, the story goes that while fundraising for the project a co-founder took a call in Salisbury, Wiltshire that from a mother who said, ‘my children are going to bed hungry tonight – what are YOU going to do about it?’.  The co-founder began an investigation of ‘local indices of deprivation and “hidden hunger” in the UK’ and from there the creation of a foodbank network began to help people faced short term hunger as a result of a sudden crisis.

The model that Trussell created meant that foodbanks would only give out food parcels to clients who come with a voucher given to them by accredited local welfare professionals – teachers, GPs or social workers. Recipients would be limited to three food parcels – each contains enough food to feed a family for a week – before the state must take over.

The problem is that even without their actual circumstances being checked, anyone can approach a teacher or GP, plead poverty and claim they don’t have enough money for food and receive vouchers to present at the foodbank.  It’s not a big deal for a teacher or GP to simply hand over a voucher.  It allows them to move on from an awkward situation quickly.  Suddenly, irrespective of need, a foodbank has a new client and the foodbank has ‘evidence’ that austerity is fuelling hunger.  Yet while we can be sure some people do have genuine need, there is no scrutiny of whether the need is caused by genuine hardship or choosing to spend money on non essentials – and this leaves the system open to abuse and therefore the headline numbers nothing more than guesswork.

One problem for those behind Trussell is a reluctance to recognise that their desire to show Christian charity can and does see human nature to take advantage of something available for free assert itself. If someone wants to give something away for nothing there will always be plenty of people willing to avail themselves of it, even when they don’t need it.  So dramatically increasing the number of outlets where food can be obtained for free will obviously increase the number of people using the foodbanks – and unfortunately increases the opportunity for people who are not in need, and thus not entitled, to abuse the charity.

This takes us back to the Mail story.  It reveals, unsurprisingly, inadequate checks on who claims the vouchers, with one reporter obtaining three days’ worth of food simply by telling staff at a Citizen’s Advice Bureau – without any proof – that he was unemployed.  Other people were given food parcels without even producing a voucher.

What is worth noting is a story in the Guardian from 2012.  It revealed that in 2011 Trussell’s Coventry food bank was overwhelmed after 23 local families, all from eastern Europe, who had had their benefits stopped, turned up without warning.  The call went out to other network members, and more than 1,000kg of food was shipped in practically overnight from food banks in Gloucester and farther afield.  Trussell see this as a success story for their charity. The fact however is that it is a failure of government policy – as migrants who are destitute and unable to support themselves are a burden and can, under EU law, be deported back to their own country. But as we know, the UK’s shambolic immigration policy has not been properly applied. Small wonder therefore that we hear asylum seekers are clients of the foodbanks, despite being given the means to feed themselves at taxpayers’ expense while their applications accumulate dust on shelves in Croydon.

The Trussell Trust said it would investigate allegations of abuse, adding: ‘There is no evidence to suggest that awareness of the food banks is driving an increase in visitors, rather that food bank use is meeting a real and growing need.’  Of course, if users of foodbanks are not asked if they were aware of the foodbank before getting help, and the entities giving out vouchers don’t record if someone comes to them specifically asking for food vouchers rather than the entity identifying a requirement for food assistance as part of a wider need, then there won’t be any evidence. But it does not mean it isn’t happening.

The inescapable problem is that no one knows whether the people asking for vouchers actually have disposable income but are now not using it for food because they can take advantage of the charity’s offering, or whether they prioritise their spending on other things such as drink, cigarettes, entertainment or non essentials for the same reason.  Given some of the examples of abuse that the Mail has uncovered, and the BBC deliberately ignores and makes no effort to question, we can be certain a political agenda underpins the reporting of unvalidated foodbank data and self promoting press releases.

Dartmouth: Skewed priorities and poor judgement

Long time, no blog. Apologies for the break, it’s been very busy at Mind Towers.

We are not letting up in our efforts to get to the bottom of the actual ownership of land on which a co-operative hopes to build wind turbines.

The land was formerly the possession of William Dartmouth MEP. However in February 2011 the land was gifted, given away, free of charge and the Land Registry recorded the new owner as Rosscroft Limited.  Trying to unpick who actually owns and benefits from Rosscroft Limited sends us deep into a rabbit warren of overseas directors, ownership by other companies, shareholders who are actually companies where the directors are the former directors of Rosscroft and include Dartmouth’s own solicitor, Tim Haggie, etc.

In short, Rosscroft Limited has been structured in a such a way as to prevent the actual beneficial owner at the end of the trail being identified. It is a determined effort at concealment, the opposite of transparency.

But as we saw in our most recent post on the subject, William Dartmouth has since admitted in a statement that the land is actually ‘owned by a relative’.  When the term ‘family’ was used in a write up of the statement elsewhere, Dartmouth sought a correction to the story asserting that relatives and family are very different.

Following on from that we have received lots of emails from people providing information that variously claim Dartmouth’s illegitimate nine year old son (and therefore barred from inheriting the title), Gerald, as the actual owner for whom Rosscroft is acting, and other claims that a substation for the tubines is planned to be built on Reaps Farm, which is said to be Dartmouth owned (tenant Mr S Lunn), and that the cables to feed to the grid will cross Dartmouth owned land.  If accurate, these essential elements of the wind farm could only be installed with Dartmouth’s permission. More questions clearly need to be answered.

Efforts by some opponents of the wind farm to get Dartmouth to come out against the wind farm plan received this response:

Clearly Dartmouth was far too busy to deal with such minor issues as the concerns of neighbours who have been given the run around over the ownership of land on the Dartmouth estate.  But his substantial workload and excessive travel didn’t stop him from jumping in with both feet to make a foolish comment regarding the winner of the IEA’s now discredited Brexit Prize:

Clearly it’s just a question of what he sees as a priority.  Opposing a wind farm that will blight an area of natural beauty and harm wildlife in the area is not as important as his appalling judgement in spouting off about the non-existant ‘silencing’ of a diplomat who won the IEA prize for, amazingly, producing a completely new solution to leaving the EU that only five other people (the other finalists) and one of the judging panel removed for conflict of interest, have ever brought into the public realm.

Interestingly, although in his statement Lord Dartmouth explained that it was an adjacent piece of land, which is owned by him, that was erroneously included in the application, as of 12.30pm this Good Friday, the planning application Certificate B remains unchanged, listing him as owning land forming part of the application.

Nigel Farage has been copied on the correspondance and we have written to him separately detailing the unanswered questions that Dartmouth needs to address.  But so far there has been no response from him or his office, suggesting that UKIP is either turning a blind eye to one of its MEPs laying the ground for a wind farm development of the type the party opposes, or is busy trying to fight off questions about the use of money by Farage’s European constituency.

So it is we continue trying to discover who the mystery ‘relative’ not family member is; and we will continue to pose the questions Farage does not seem to be asking, and enquiring if he feels the lack of transparency and drip feed of information under scrutiny and pressure by Lord Dartmouth sends the right message to UKIP members and supporters.

Keeping it in the family, Dartmouth style

The curious case of the wind farm planning application at Slaithwaite Moor, that named one of the landowners as wind-farm opposing UKIP MEP, William Dartmouth (aka The Rt Hon William Tenth Earl of Dartmouth, aka William Legge), which we have written about here and here, has taken a new twist today.

This blog’s enquiries and questions about William Dartmouth being named as an owner of the land in question has prompted further enquiries by others, which have resulted in the following statement by Lord Dartmouth. issued by the UKIP Press Office this afternoon and reported by the Huffington Post:

Statement from William Dartmouth MEP re wind turbines in Kirklees

08 April 2014

I am issuing this statement in response to [social] media interest in a planning application to Kirklees Council in West Yorkshire for three wind turbines to be built on Slaithwaite Moor.

I am not the applicant.

I do not own the land in question.

The land which is the subject of the planning application is owned by a relative.

I derive no benefit, financial or otherwise, from the land as it stands, nor would I if the planning application were successful.

An adjacent piece of land, which is owned by me, was erroneously included in the application. This strip of land would not be involved in the wind turbine application in any shape or form.

As a UK Independence Party MEP I fully endorse the party policy to oppose onshore wind turbine development.

The reason that the name Rosscroft Ltd appears on the above planning application, as well as in relation to land which I do own, is that they represent the entire extended Dartmouth family as well as many other clients.

Lord Dartmouth is clearly hoping this draws a line under the matter.  But, while there is no suggestion of any illegality, Dartmouth’s statement raises further questions given his party political policies and the information he has released:

  • This appears to be the first time that William Dartmouth has mentioned that the land in question is actually owned by a member of the Dartmouth family.  Did he not think it relevant to mention this when UKIP asked him about the matter following complaints from residents in the area?
  • The transfer of the land from William Dartmouth was to Rosscroft Limited as shown on form TP1.  Yet Dartmouth says the land is owned by a relative.  Does this  mean therefore that the offshore-run company, Rosscroft Limited, is actually a Dartmouth family-owned business?
  • Although William Dartmouth explains he will derive no benefit, financial or otherwise from the land now or if the planning application were successful, does he accept that a member(s) of the Dartmouth family would derive financial benefit if the wind farm planning application is successful?
  • As Lord Dartmouth says that land which is owned by him was erroneously included in the application, when did he (or his agents Carter Jonas) raise this serious error with Kirklees Council, as no correction has been made in the five and a half months since it was submitted?
  • Valley Wind Co-operative say on their website that after many years of searching for the best site for a wind farm in the Huddersfield area, they found a suitable location at Slaithwaite Moor, above Slaithwaite & Marsden. They say that Valley Wind Co-operative was formally created in 2009, to take the idea forward.  This was while William Dartmouth was still the owner of the land in question. Did Valley Wind and William Dartmouth therefore discuss the proposals for a wind farm while he was the land owner?
  • Is it a mere coincidence that the land transferred to William Dartmouth’s ‘relative’/Rosscroft Limited in 2011 just happened to be the parcel of land Valley Wind had identified as the best site for their wind farm, while adjacent land remained under his ownership?
  • Was Valley Wind’s interest in the land for the wind farm a consideration in the land being transferred to William Dartmouth’s ‘relative’/Rosscroft Limited?
  • Was there any political motivation on the part of William Dartmouth to distance himself from involvement with a wind farm by transferring the land to a ‘relative’/Rosscroft Limited, thus ensuring a Dartmouth family member would still stand to gain financially from a successful application?
  • Is it a mere coincidence that all the directors of Rosscroft Limited were replaced by offshore individuals and companies shortly after Valley Wind’s pre-application enquiry about the wind farm and before the formal application was made?
  • Will William Dartmouth, having influenced his ‘relative’/Rosscroft Limited over the plans for Cupwith Reservoir, now seek to influence their acceptance or rejection of a wind farm on Dartmouth family-owned land, or will he oppose the wind farm application as an adjacent land owner even though his ‘relative’ stands to benefit from financially if it was approved?

In the absence of clear responses, the public will draw their own conclusions about this matter, which seems to be far from over.

Is UKIP’s William Dartmouth MEP using an offshore company to conceal involvement in a wind turbine development?

Following on from yesterday’s post, the curious story surrounding UKIP MEP William Dartmouth and allegations that his land is the site of a proposed wind farm development – in direct contradiction with UKIP policy – has become even more interesting.  This is a detailed post.

We have managed to obtain a letter that was sent by Lord Dartmouth’s solicitor to UKIP chairman, Steve Crowther (below).

It states that William Dartmouth does not have any interest in the land where the wind turbines will be sited, rather the land’s ‘proprietor’ is Rosscroft Limited.  However Mr Tim Haggie, solicitor at Latimer Hinks, does say that Dartmouth owns land adjacent to the site and that is perhaps why a ‘third party notice’ was served on him.   It is interesting to note the address of the local office that Rosscroft Limited uses in the area…

By coincidence it just so happens that another local firm is based at that address…

Backing up Mr Haggie’s assertion about Rosscroft is a document that shows Dartmouth transferred land on Slaithwaite Moor to Rosscroft Limited on 10th February 2011.

However, Lord Dartmouth must be a very generous fellow because he transferred the land for zero consideration.  In other words he gave it away to Rosscroft for nothing.  And we are not talking about a plot the size of a domestic garden here, the land in question is shown edged in red and the Cupwith Reservoir is surrounded by a blue box…

But the situation becomes more confused thanks to a letter from Carter Jonas, Lord Dartmouth’s land agent, in April 2013 to campaigners who were seeking to prevent plans to drain Cupwith Reservoir.   As you can see in the circled section, Carter Jonas have been instructed to explain to the recipient of the letter that his comments and remarks in a previous letter regarding the ownership of Slaithwaite Moor by Dartmouth are ‘misconceived’.

Yet in the same letter, two years after Dartmouth transferred ownership of Slaithwaite to Rosscroft Limited, Carter Jonas make this astonishing comment…

If William Dartmouth had transferred ownership of Slaithwaite Moor two years earlier, and had no direct or indirect interest in the land, why on earth are his land agents saying that Dartmouth is sensitive to the concerns of people who did not want the reservoir drained and has given considerable thought as to ‘how he could best accommodate what you are seeking to achieve’?  How can a man with no interest or ownership over the land in question accommodate anything to do with its use or ownership?

We have seen above on the TP1 form that William Dartmouth transferred ownership of Slaithwaite Moor including Cupwith Reservoir in February 2011.  The documentary evidence is clear.

As such we have to pose the following question… if Rosscroft Limited became the owner of the land in February 2011, why is it that in August 2011, a memorandum written by consultancy Mott MacDonald asserts the following?

If this is incorrect why was it not corrected either by William Dartmouth or Rosscroft Limited?

Indeed, this takes us back to yesterday’s post and that wind farm planning application.  The applicants, Valley Wind Co-operative were duty bound to inform owners of the land on which they wished to develop a wind farm that they were putting in an application.  Owners and tenants have to be listed on a form in the application known as an Article 12 Certificate.  There are four types, A, B, C and D, neatly explained here.

A Certificate B is completed and submitted when the planning applicant (in this case Valley Wind) know the names of all the owners of the land upon which a planning application is being made.  On the wind farm planning application, there is a Certificate B which clearly names Rosscroft Limited and William Dartmouth, both care of Carter Jonas in York, as an owners (or tenants) of the land concerned.

dartmouth_owner

Despite Carter Jonas evidently being made aware that Valley Wind understand William Dartmouth to be an owner of this land, the planning application has not been corrected or amended.  Given that such incorrect information is valid reason for a planning application to be rejected, it seems very curious that no correction has been made to what William Dartmouth has said is an error and what his solicitor has said is a third party notice.

We have not yet been able to check with the Huddersfield Daily Examiner if William Dartmouth had requested a correction to their December 2012 story that identifies him as the owner of Cupwith Reservoir, nearly two years after the transfer to Rosscroft Limited.  But the stories still make the assertion.

So the question is, why have Carter Jonas and William Dartmouth apparently made no efforts to correct the record which has seen the media and even their paid consultants identify Dartmouth as the land owner at Cupwith Reservoir?  It’s an odd one.

We invited UKIP to comment on our story but have not yet received a response.

We also contacted William Dartmouth and invited him to comment on the ownerships and relationships concerning the land in question. He did not want to answer any questions from an anonymous blogger hiding behind a pseudonym and was more concerned in getting a name, however in the end he did email us the following:

But – to be crystal clear  – I do not own the land .

So, we know Rosscroft Limited owns the land.  But who owns Rosscroft?  It seems the directors of the company have been all or mainly ‘paid for’ names on paper only who have directorships in a large number of companies in different fields.  But there was a sudden and dramatic change of ownership last year that fitted into an interesting timeline of events.

In February 2013, pre-application advice was sought from Kirkless Council to discuss its views on the proposed wind farm development and whether it would have a possibility of being approved.

Shortly after that process, without explanation, the long standing directors of Rosscroft Limited were suddenly replaced by a professional director based in Monaco called Ian Frederick Ledger and a company based in the Bahamas called Ambassador Directors Limited.  This change means that Rosscroft’s human owners on the other side of the Atlantic cannot be easily identified.

With Rosscroft now enjoying the benefits of offshore privacy, the formal planning application for the wind farm was submitted by Valley Wind.

It’s a happy set of coincidences that just by chance seems to have seen Rosscroft adopt a very deep interest in privacy for its beneficial owners – just before it was to become involved in plans for wind turbines on land that we are told was formerly owned by a UKIP MEP, whose party opposes them.

Rosscroft was remarkably fortunate to have been gifted land that within a couple of years would be considered ripe for lavishly rewarding wind turbines; while William Dartmouth seems to have been remarkably fortunate to no longer own land on which an application for wind turbines – against UKIP party policy – was soon to be submitted.  And of course there is also the incredible coincidence that both Rosscroft and Dartmouth share the same solicitors and agents!  It’s a small world.

Curious people will no doubt be asking questions about all this.  Here are some that need to be answered:

  • Given these series of events, do William Dartmouth or the Dartmouth family have any financial interest or share ownership in Rosscroft Limited?
  • Has William Dartmouth ever created a bare or discretionary trust where the trust property includes all or part of Rosscroft Limited, or any of the land transferred to Rosscroft Limited?
  • Why have neither Carter Jonas nor William Dartmouth immediately corrected what must be an inaccurate planning application, especially when his solicitor said as long ago as January that the Dartmouth has no interest in the land he is listed on Certificate B as owning?
  • Why did neither Carter Jonas nor William Dartmouth immediately correct the Mott MacDonald memo and report stating the Earl of Dartmouth is the owner of the land well after the transfer date?
  • Why have local media stories citing William Dartmouth as the owner of land he transferred to Rosscroft not been corrected?
  • If William Dartmouth, despite not being the owner of Cupwith Reservior and having no direct or indirect interest in it, was influential enough to bring about an offer by its owner to give away the reservoir to campaigners who did not want it drained, does he not have the same influence to prevent the wind turbines being constructed on the same land?
  • As a UKIP MEP and stated adjacent land owner, with apparent influence and concern in the local neighbourhood, will William Dartmouth be submitting a formal objection to the wind farm planning application?
  • Will William Dartmouth or his solicitor make available the ‘third party notice’ he is said to have received in respect of being an adjacent land owner to the application site?
  • Does William Dartmouth or his family have any direct or indirect interest or share ownership in Ambassador Directors Ltd?
  • Is UKIP’s William Dartmouth MEP using an offshore company to conceal involvement in a wind turbine development?

The UKIP MEP, family land, a windfarm application, a party denial and EU money

UPDATED BELOW:  An interesting story has been submitted by a reader, concerning a controversial planned wind farm development in Yorkshire that could call into question the position one of UKIP’s highest profile MEPs who is also a candidate in next year’s General Election.

slaithwaite

The name of UKIP’s William Dartmouth MEP appears as an owner or tenant of land on a planning application that was submitted to Kirklees Council last year, to build three 100m wind turbines on unspoilt countryside next to Cupwith Reservior (location shown above) near Huddersfield, where the scheme applicant, Valley Wind Co-operative, is receiving funding for the project from the EU’s European Regional Development Fund.

What makes this matter curious is that William Dartmouth’s office has denied that he is directly or indirectly linked to the application site.

All of the the information about the proposed windfarm development was sent to Nigel Farage, and a member of Farage’s staff eventually responded stating that Dartmouth’s office had replied claiming he wasn’t linked directly or indirectly.  This is curious given this screenshot of the land ownership section of the planning application:

dartmouth_owner
What also appears to put a question mark against Dartmouth’s denial, while giving the accuracy of the information above further weight, is a story from 2012 that demonstrates land ownership and three-way linkage between Dartmouth, Carter Jonas and Rosscroft Ltd (whose name appears at the top of the screenshot). The story concerned a planning application to drain Cupwith Reservior.  The applicant was Rosscroft Ltd, the agent was Carter Jonas LLP, and the owner of the reservoir is the Dartmouth Estate of one Earl of Dartmouth (aka William Dartmouth) – an assertion reported  by the Huddersfield Daily Examiner when reporting that Dartmouth’s appeal against the rejection of the application had also been lost.  There is no evidence the media have been asked to correct their assertion.

As if further evidence is required that where there is Rosscroft / Carter Jonas there seems to be Dartmouth, there is an entirely unrelated planning matter, where William Dartmouth was the named applicant for planning permission, with his chosen agent was Carter Jonas LLP.  The links are clear.

dartmouth_jonas

Given all this information, it seems that UKIP has accepted Dartmouth’s denial without checking the facts for themselves, calling into question yet again the party’s internal processes for dealing with complaints or reports of conflict of interest among its elected officials.

UPDATE:  We have been sent a copy of a letter that was sent to Nigel Farage personally, just after one of the recent debates with Nick Clegg, from an opponent of the wind farm.  It includes the following paragraph which suggests that William Legge (Legge being the family name of the Earl of Dartmouth) stands to gain in the region of £60,000 per annum if three wind turbines are erected on his land…

So I was delighted on your stance against wind turbines but have to point out the total hypocrisy of your MEP William Legge who is touting his land out for a wind farm as one of the above applications. This land is protected moorland and 300 meters away from a National Trust Bird sanctuary. It is estimated he will receive £20k ground rent per 100m turbine (there are 3 currently planned) – i.e. £60k per year. This is in total opposition to UKIP’s manifesto.  I cannot see how he can be a UKIP MEP and at the same time pursue this course of action in his private life.

It is worth noting that David Cameron’s father-in-law, Sir Reginald Sheffield is often referred to as an example of a land owning rent seeker, trousering an reported £350,000 a year for turbines on his land.  Is the only difference between the Sheffields and the Dartmouths a mere matter of scale?

In addition to wanting the UK to leave the EU, UKIP has a policy against onshore wind turbines.  So, having one of its senior MEPs set to benefit financially from money given in grants by the EU, for the installation on his land of three giant turbines – that the party’s policy formally opposes – would be a serious conflict of interest and a likely resigning matter.  Further, that UKIP does not seem to have diligently investigated the reports sent to them by concerned residents in the area of the planned windfarm that one of their senior MEPs had this conflict of interest, seems to be another failure of internal process. UKIP has questions to answer about that.

But for now, William Dartmouth has questions to answer.

Why is it that he appears to have been untruthful about his interest in the land where the turbines are planned?

As a clearly stated  owner or tenant of the land, as shown on the official planning applications, what does he stand to gain if the application is approved and Valley Wind Co-operative build the turbines?

I think we should be told.

UKIP have been contacted and asked if they wish to respond to this story.

Power running amok as voters can only look on

The latest nauseating case of that curious species, the Westminster troughing hog, has seen Maria Miller ordered to repay we taxpayers £5,800 she wrongly claimed.

The story had me primed to write a post demanding that taxpayers must get back the other £38,000 that the Standards Commissioner said Miller should repay.  But then yesterday the Chair of the Standards Committee of MPs, which voted to ensure Miller got to keep the rest of the money, and the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards who originally said Miller should repay £44,000, issued a joint statement which had the effect of circling the wagons.

But while that was circulating and pouring copious amounts of mud into already murky waters, the former editor of the Telegraph, Tony Gallagher, was telling the BBC that one of Miller’s special advisers had leaned on the journalist writing the story of her claiming money she was not entitled to, effectively threatening that Miller had the ability to exact legislative retribution for the Telegraph running the story.

At the time I thought, if there is anything in this claim – and the wording did seem very specific – the journalist would surely have the comments on tape.  Having given Miller’s aide sufficient time and space to deny the story, the Telegraph has now released a recording showing that Miller’s SpAd did exactly what she was accused of.

In the same way I refuse to believe someone in the UKIP press office made up and issued a policy reversal on gay marriage without it being sanctioned, I refuse to believe Maria Miller’s SpAd acted without Miller’s knowledge or authority.  While Miller might have just about unjustly survived paying back a tiny amount of overclaimed money from our hard earned cash, and for giving an ungracious 32-second apology that was the equivalent of flicking two fingers to MPs (the public of course get no apology, despite being the party offended against), the actions of her adviser should have her clearing her desk by Monday.

No Cabinet Minister has ever made such an apology in the Commons and clung to their job.  She should have resigned this week.  But now we can add what amounts to blackmail in an effort to silence a media that is already shockingly poor, she should be sacked. No ifs, buts or maybes.  This abuse of office cannot be allowed to stand.

But of course, this is the state of our ‘democracy’ today.  The decisions will be made by MPs and men in grey suits.  The voters who have been offended against and who should have the ability to have Miller removed from office for what has happened, can only look on.  In this case it’s just as well the media decided to take an interest, otherwise Miller’s wrongdoing and the corruption in her office would not have come to light.

Just imagine how many more falsehoods, truths and corruptions could be exposed if the media chose to take notice and report them…

The truth that Mats Persson and Open Europe don’t want you to know

The claim that Norway has to put up with EU regulation without representation, and has no influence over what it must implement to be part of the single market (so called ‘fax democracy’) is a lie.  There is no other way to put it.

The fact is Norway has more influence over EU regulation than every EU member state.  Norway also has a veto over EU law so it does not have to follow the EU line.  Norway also pays substantially less to the EU for single market access than it would pay to the EU for being a member state.  Facts such as these are not just drawn from documentary evidence, they have also been established by speaking to ministerial level politicians in Norway who are best placed to understand exactly how access to the single market, without being an EU member state, impacts Norway.

These facts have been repeatedly shared indirectly and directly to Mats Persson of Open Europe – a ‘think tank’ that claims to be Eurosceptic, but which doggedly works to keep the UK firmly stuck in the EU – in order that he may correct his inaccurate claims.  Despite this, Persson continues to repeat the lie time and again, using his platforms on the Open Europe site and the Telegraph’s Blogs section.  The only conclusion that can be drawn is that Mats Persson is determined to deceive people in order to further his agenda of keeping the UK in the EU.

But knowingly repeating a falsifiable lie in the media in such a manner, to deliberately deceive readers, surely cannot be acceptable.  Therefore, my friend The Boiling Frog has submitted a complaint to the Press Complaints Commission, outlining the truths that Mats Persson deliberately seeks to conceal from people as part of his deceitful campaign.  The text of the complaint is shown below – and all readers are invited to share it and its contents widely in the media and on other blogs.  Please also feel free to reproduce the information below to submit your own complaint about Persson’s falsehoods, so that the PCC takes notice.

———————

Dear Sirs

I’m writing to you wishing to draw your attention to an article on the Daily Telegraph website by Mats Persson Director of the think tank Open Europe. He writes about the important issue of the UK’s membership of the European Union – more specifically in this case the possible method of leaving. The website URL in question is below:

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/finance/matspersson/100026967/leaving-the-eu-how-article-50-could-make-the-divorce-very-tricky-for-britain/

My reason for contacting the Press Complaints Commission is that I have deep concerns that much of the article is incorrect and factually wrong. In particular I wish to highlight this paragraph regarding the debate about the UK’s role in the EU:

“If only it was that simple. There’s no good off-the-peg model that the UK can simply adopt should it leave the EU. The Norwegian (“regulation without representation)…”

Persson’s dismissal of the Norway option (“regulation without representation”) has been repeated before despite being corrected personally to Persson himself and in the comments (url below)

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/finance/matspersson/100022087/brixit-why-the-norwegian-model-simply-wouldnt-work-for-the-uk/

Mats Persson’s argument relies heavily on the false doctrine that Norway has “no influence” in making EU law. However this is simply factually untrue, Norway has more influence than the UK regarding Single Market rules as illustrated below:

A) Many of Single Market laws are made at an international level for example the WTO – Norway gets to represent itself while the UK has only 8% influence with the EU which represents us on our behalf.

B) Norway is also on over 200 EEA (Single Market) committees which influence EU law from the outset –Anne Tvinnereim, former State Secretary for the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development in Norway for example said this: “we do get to influence the position”.

C) Norway can then contest that laws don’t apply to their EEA agreement – currently they have over 1,200 in dispute.

D) Ultimately Norway can veto any EU legislation, as they did with the 3rd EU Postal Directive while the UK had no choice but to implement it by the 2011 Postal Services Act.

Another inaccurate assertion by Mats Persson in the same article is:

“Under Article 50 [of the Lisbon Treaty] and in continuity deals, France, the European Parliament and others could consistently block market access for the UK’s exporters of IT, insurance, banking and other services.”

The Lisbon Treaty and Article 50 is covered by international law, notably by Article 54 of the Vienna Convention on the Law on Treaties, for the EU – an international organisation – to block market access would be in fundamental breach of international law. The EU would be obliged to adhere by its international Treaty agreements.

The UK’s membership of the EU is clearly a very important topic of debate and regardless of various views of our membership rigorous but accurate debate in our media is essential. The Press Complaints Commission confirms on its website it considers that accuracy of the press is of utmost importance:

1 Accuracy

i) The Press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information, including pictures.

ii) A significant inaccuracy, misleading statement or distortion once recognised must be corrected, promptly and with due prominence, and – where appropriate – an apology published. In cases involving the Commission, prominence should be agreed with the PCC in advance.

iii) The Press, whilst free to be partisan, must distinguish clearly between comment, conjecture and fact.

iv) A publication must report fairly and accurately the outcome of an action for defamation to which it has been a party, unless an agreed settlement states otherwise, or an agreed statement is published.

The issue of the UK’s membership of the EU has clearly taken a more prominent role in UK politics, signified by David Cameron’s promise of a referendum in 2017 (if he were to win the 2015 election) and the current debates between Nigel Farage and Nick Clegg. Thus it’s imperative that the public are accurately informed. In this spirit we note the Press Complaint Commission’s conclusion with an untrue story about EU rules on eggs in 2010:

http://www.pcc.org.uk/case/resolved.html?article=NjU5OQ==

With this in mind I wish to formally complain that Mats Persson’s article breaches the code of conduct of accuracy – it is misleading and is an attempt to severely distract readers of a very popular newspaper from forming a proper and considered opinion.

Yours faithfully

It’s time to take on and defeat the pro-EU side

Under the section on ‘Progressing the Agenda’ on page 26 of the Harrogate Agenda pamphlet, it says:

One of those objectives, not explicitly stated, is the withdrawal of the UK from membership of the European Union. As it stands, the direct democracy embodied in THA is not compatible with membership of the EU.

The inception of the Harrogate Agenda was to campaign for a transformation in British democracy – namely bringing it about.  It just so happens that democracy, real people power, is utterly incompatible with membership of the EU and its model of governance beyond accountability, which is why THA says it is necessary for the UK to leave the EU.

However, given the significantly changing pace and indeed face of the EU referendum debate, the Harrogate Agenda committee and advisory panel will meet in May to discuss formalising and increasing the link between THA and the EU Referendum issue, in order to give more prominence to campaigning for withdrawing from the EU.

In other words, although THA was not brought into being to fight for withdrawal from the EU, it is looking to re-focus its activity to achieve that end.

This does not mean THA will abandon its aim of demoratic reform in the UK.  Far from it.  Rather it is a recognition that before that can happen the UK needs to be free of the EU and we have a part to play in that.

To achieve that goal of leaving the EU there is a clear need for the anti-EU side to get all the help it can.  Blogging supporters of THA have variously highlighted and lamented the shortcomings of the anti-EU side over months and years.  Therefore the proposal being put before THA supporters – who are currently engaged in building the foundation of the movement before presenting it to the public – is that we now actively get involved in the game, that we devote our attention and focus on EU withdrawal, while formally bringing to it whatever philosophical and technical tools we can.

There are too many things that the public is not being told.  There are too many Europhile lies going unchallenged.  The media is awash with FUD, spin, deliberately sown confusion and ignorant commentary.  Not enough is being done to provide voters with reassurance that leaving the EU can have positive benefits in addition to the UK governing itself and speaking with its own voice on the world stage.

It’s time to tackle and overcome those problems.

THA has something to contribute – not least Richard North’s outstanding, condensed FLexCit plan that provides a definitive roadmap for leaving the EU and dealing with expected stumbling blocks along the way. It’s time to get out of the stands, onto the field and energise the pro-independence side.

The Hype Office strikes again

met_office_logoMet Office forecasts are seemingly becoming ever more sensationalist.  Observed weather conditions too often show that predicted extreme weather either fails to materialise, or turns out to be nowhere near as extreme as forecast.

Yesterday was another case in point.  The media was saturated with worry-inducing forecasts of high levels of atmospheric pollution at concentrations never before seen in this country. The Met Office were at pains to spread the warnings around.  And they are at it again today.

Yet in the event, the ‘high or very high levels of air pollution across southern England and the Midlands’ came nowhere close to the predictions. It turns out the pollution levels three weeks ago were worse than yesterday’s ’7′, but that hardly got any coverage and hardly anyone except those with severe respiratory conditions actually noticed any difference.

There’s method in the Met Office’s hype madness, from all these ‘weather warnings’ and triangles on TV maps that now appear in seemingly every other forecast for conditions that are almost always perfectly normal for the time of year, to the Met Office’s new overblown pollution predictions.  They know that people will only remember the overblown warnings and the media’s fealty in reporting them with due prominence.  It is all intended to embed a sense that our weather is becoming ever more extreme, to fit their narrative on human induced climate change – and justify ever more millions for ‘research’ and ever more lavish computer systems.

The Met Office’s typically quiet concession after the fact that things actually didn’t get as bad (£) – or even close to as bad – as they believed, for some reason or other, never gets the same prominence of course.  They are able to say they corrected the record if challenged, but they quietly make the correction in the same manner in which a newspaper will bury an inconvenient correction on page 31, in a single column inch of tightly spaced lettering near the foot of the page.

Then everything is fine again. Until the next time. Meanwhile the bonuses continue to flow from our pockets into theirs as reward for alarmism rather than accuracy, and the propaganda continues to gush out of their site in Exeter, and the sites of their alarmist University allies in Reading, Leeds and East Anglia.  Also, to ensure these fearmongers are never challenged on their hype, the BBC commissions ever more ludicrous reports to criticise giving airtime to people who seek to counter the ‘consensus’ and point out flaws in the science, thereby justifying the naked bias in editorial decison making and coverage of the subject.

It seems the greatest warming that is happening is that of our hearts as we joyfully fork over ever larger sums to fund this nonsense without complaint or revolt.

IEA agenda has excluded it as a serious player in the Brexit debate

The announcement by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) of its finalists for the €100,000 Brexit prize was made this week.

It was noteworthy for this blog as the entry by my friend Richard North, assisted by another friend, Paul Williams, regretably did not make the final six – despite producing a submission of incredible detail, that presented a solution for a post-EU Britain based upon real world dynamics, governnance and structures.  You can read the submission, ‘FLEXCIT’ here.

A closer look at the entries that survived showed the authors all share a common theme, namely that Brexit should be accompanied by a formalisation of a Commonwealth free trade bloc.

What is interesting is that the original shortlist of 20 included a number of entries espousing variations of British membership of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) upon exit from the EU.  But in whittling down the field, every single one of them has been culled, while entries pushing a Commonwealth solution, or written by people who push such a solution, have made it to the final.

The only possible explanation for this is that the judging panel have abandoned any pretence of embracing wide-ranging and innovative solutions in an open minded fashion, and instead sought to advance entries that mirror their own pre-determined viewpoints.  In short, that the IEA Brexit panel are only interested in entries that reinforce and confirm their own biases, which renders the whole IEA competition worthless.

So why can the IEA no longer be considered a serious player in the Brexit debate?

Put simply, when combined with the wholesale exclusion of the overwhelmingly political dimension of a Brexit,  it is that in the modern age the Commonwealth solution is no longer a realistic option.

Free trade blocs requires its members to have broadly similar standards and have similar levels of social development.  The is such a difference in standards and social development between Britain and, for example, Uganda, that the notion of the Commonwealth being a suitable wrapper for a free trade bloc just doesn’t stand up.

The IEA has ignored the real world in favour of a concept that would be unworkable and costly.  It has pretended the politics of Brexit are irrelevent and that economics trumps all.  As such it cannot be taken seriously and any interventions it makes in the debate concerning the UK leaving the EU are likely to cause more harm than good.

There is no other way to say it… Nigel Farage is a disaster for the anti-EU side

Nick Clegg will be breathing a sigh of relief this morning.  Give Nigel Farage a grenade to play with and you can be assured that after a few drinks to get into character, he will manage to blow himself up.

But in doing so, Farage also injures the anti-EU side because of UKIP’s prominent position in the effort to get the UK out of the EU.

Alistair Campbell gave Farage a grenade to play with by interviewing him for GQ magazine. He then pulled out the pin by asking Farage which world leader he most admired. Farage’s response, however vigorously it is defended by his cult following and however many howls of rage they emanate saying their man is being misrepresented, was the equivalent of releasing the lever to allow detonation.  He has given the Europhiles and his political opponents an entire magazine of ammunition.

Farage could have dodged the obvious trap by saying that if he was being asked who is the most effective world leader in terms of pursuing their agenda then he would say Vladimir Putin. Then it’s a non story.

But no.  He did not refute the idea of him admiring Putin, a politicised thug who has waged war in Chechnya and Georgia and whose government is widely considered responsible for a wave of assassinations of political rivals and journalists, and abuses the legal system to throw into remote prisons those who might be a threat to his position.

In fact, as reported by the Telegraph, he even went so far as to say that he thought Putin’s handling of Syria – where Russian weapons and ‘advisers’ have propped up Bashar Assad – was ‘brilliant’.

In so doing, Farage has completely shattered the wholly appropriate case against the EU for its expansionist actions in eastern Europe – which stirred up violence in Ukraine, followed by a coup and a fragmentation of the civil society on ethnic lines, prompting UDI by Crimea and its vote to join the Russian Federation – all for the sake of Brussels extending its power.

Nigel Farage is a disaster. He is a liability for the anti-EU side. He is incompetent. He revels in his ignorance of EU governance.  He has a reliance on alcohol and women to function. He lacks depth. And as shown by this latest gaffe, he has absolutely no sense of judgement – an essential quality for any leader of any entity.

Nick Clegg is going to spit roast Farage with this.  No matter what Farage and his cult argue, many people are going to turn against Farage and the anti-EU side as a result, and the EU’s provocation of Russia across eastern Europe will be swept off the agenda to be replaced with a narrative that Farage is an ultra nationalist who admires warmongering heads of thugocracies.

UPDATE: Richard is all over this issue too at EU Referendum

Clegg vs Farage – Part 1

The debate tonight on LBC will be meaningless to some, but is actually of interest.

We know how Nick Clegg will approach this.  He will put a huge economic emphasis on what is a political issue.  He will cite statistics that have already been debunked several times over, such as the ’50% of our trade is with the EU’ (it is actually 50% of our goods transit through the EU regardless of final destination) and ’3 million jobs will be lost if we leave the EU’ (no entity has ever been able to quantify such a claim).

Clegg will bluster but much of he claims will not stand up to scrutiny.  He will then appeal to the ‘we must work all together for better outcomes’ argument – but never once justifying why cooperation is insufficient and why nation states must give up political and judicial control to Brussels.

What remains to be seen is how Nigel Farage plays this.

If he chooses to argue the fatuous points Clegg will make – the ‘wrestling with the Chimney Sweep’ approach, then he will come off badly.  If he keeps dragging the debate back onto the political ground where it belongs, he has a chance to make a positive impact on behalf of the anti-EU side.

Farage has to avoid playing into Clegg’s hands.  Say what you will about Clegg, you don’t get to his position without having some smarts about you.  Farage will be making a huge mistake to underestimate the Lib Dem leader.

Let’s see how this pans out…

Media continues to spin the lie that Association Agreements are ‘free trade agreements’

Fears that Russia could seize a second chunk of territory in eastern Europe grew on Sunday after Nato’s top commander warned that Moscow’s troops were poised to move into a pro-Moscow enclave of Moldova, according to the Telegraph‘s Colin Freeman.

The great sage goes on to tell us that US Air Force General Philip Breedlove said that Russian troops massing on the eastern border of Ukraine were well-positioned to head to Transdniester, a Russian-speaking enclave that has declared independence from the rest of Moldova.  General Breedlove said it would give President Vladimir Putin the perfect pretext to send troops in there as a “protection” force for ethnic Russians, just as he has done with his military annexation of Crimea.

There is absolutely sufficient (Russian) force postured on the eastern border of Ukraine to run to Transdniester if the decision was made to do that and that is very worrisome.

Never mind that NATO has been desperate to get Ukraine into its gang and also wants Moldova on board.  Breedlove’s comments are an example of NATO  being precious because Russia wants to keep a buffer between itself and its expansionist western rival. If the west wants to drag countries into its sphere of influence, via the EU, that is OK.  If Russia tries to do the same or, God forbid, tries to woo those countries with counter offers, that is an outrage.

But what makes Freeman’s piece stand out is the ignorance or deceit about the EU Assocation Agreements put on the table to Ukraine and Moldova. He writes:

Moldova, whose five million people mostly speak the Latin dialects of neighbouring Romania, is Europe’s poorest country, and has ambitions to eventually become part of the European Union.

It is currently negotiating a free trade agreement with the European Union, the same one that Ukraine’s ousted President, Viktor Yanukovych, abandoned last November amid massive Kremlin pressure.

Signing the free trade agreement would take Moldova firmly into the European fold, but Transdniester’s unresolved status would make full membership of the EU or Nato more complicated. As such, some believe the Kremlin has a direct vested interest in fomenting further pro-Russian sentiment in Transdniester.

As we have demonstrated previously, Association Agreements are not free trade instruments.  Perhaps he should tell us why the EU-Ukraine ‘free trade agreement’ necessitates that political dialogue in all areas of mutual interest…

shall be further developed and strengthened between the Parties. This will promote gradual convergence on foreign and security matters with the aim of Ukraine’s ever-deeper involvement in the European security area.

Or that:

The Parties shall explore the potential of military-technological cooperation. Ukraine and the European Defence Agency (EDA) shall establish close contacts to discuss military capability improvement, including technological issues.

The agreement with Moldova is little different, including this element in Article 5:

The Parties shall intensify their dialogue and cooperation and promote gradual convergence in the area of foreign and security policy, including the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP), and shall address in particular issues of conflict prevention and crisis management, regional stability, disarmament, non-proliferation, arms control and export control.

Clearly that is essential to the process of selling sunflower seeds and walnuts.  Colin Freeman is either a lazy hack who talks about things he doesn’t understand and hasn’t even researched, or he is a liar shilling for the EU and deliberately misleading readers about what our supreme government is doing.  Either way, this sums up the British press perfectly.

Party politics: Compare and contrast

Coverage of the Conservatives

Tories neck and neck with Labour – Sunday Times (£)

Post-budget poll boost for Tories – The Observer

Coverage of UKIP

The rage of Farage: Over balloons of brandy, UKIP leader fumes at ‘drunk womaniser’ claim, and delivers icy riposte to transsexual MEP who savaged him – Mail on Sunday

UKIP leader Nigel Farage under fire for staying at a swanky penthouse suite at taxpayers’ expense whenever he’s in Brussels – Mail on Sunday

—————-

For a long time this blog has warned that UKIP need and deserve better than Farage.  By making himself and the party indivisible from each other, the current negative coverage of Farage looks to be having negative polling consequences for UKIP, with likely electoral implications down the line.  Already, Survation – UKIP’s favoured pollster – now has the party back in third place in European election polling.  And yet the cult-like idiots who idolise Farage want a referendum now?

All the while Farage is sitting with journalists talking about whether or not he was screwing Annabelle Fuller (and his denials do not match up with first hand accounts of their behaviour in Brussels) and Liga from Latvia, all the while he is posing with a drink in his hand, comparing himself to Alfred the Great and Dennis Thatcher, and all the while he is trying to discredit Nikki Sinclaire as being on police bail (and has been for two years because no wrongdoing has been uncovered and the investigation has crashed to a halt), he is not presenting UKIP’s message.

Perhaps that is because under Farage, UKIP has no message apart from they are not the other parties, and whatever disgruntles you UKIP will speak up for you – even if that ‘all things to all men’ approach results in blatant contradictions.  Under Farage, what could be a respectable, meaningful and supportable party is now a political punchline.  It is a joke.  Farage is a JAP, just another politician.  He is using UKIP for his own ends and the decent people who want to see a genuine alternative party grow and develop are having their aspirations trampled into the ground because of one man’s vanity and selfishness.

Undecided voters coming off the fence for Tories, UKIP and Lib Dems slip

Two polls out tonight have the Conservatives closing the gap with Labour to just 1%, with UKIP and the Lib Dems falling back.

Political Betting‘s Mike Smithson reports that:

Tonight’s Survation poll for the Mail on Sunday provides a massive boost for the Tories following the budget.

The pollster, which pioneered prompting for Farage’s party, has traditionally had the biggest shares for UKIP. That’s down 3 to 15% while the Tories jump 4. The LDs also see a 3% drop.

My understanding is that a big driver of the Tory advance is that far fewer 2010 CON voters are now saying don’t know. On top of that there are fewer 2010 CON voters switching to the purples.

There’s a long way to go to Election 2015, but this week’s Budget and Labour’s appalling response to it seems to have resulted in a Conservative bounce at the expense of the smaller parties.  If tonight’s polls are not outliers, it could signal the early start to the two party squeeze this blog has been predicting.  If that happens, and more undecideds come down on the Tory side to prevent Miliband taking the keys to Downing Street, then Labour is not yet a dead cert to win the election.


Enter your email address below

The Harrogate Agenda Explained

Email AM

Bloggers for an Independent UK

AM on Twitter

Error: Twitter did not respond. Please wait a few minutes and refresh this page.

STOR Scandal

Autonomous Mind Archive