Posts Tagged 'Media'

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

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.

You do not have to say anything, but it may harm your political credibility if you do not mention…

ukipWhile in the previous post the UKIP website is worthy of mention for what it carries today regarding the ‘gays can marry’ / ‘no they can’t’ farce, for much of the time it is notable for what it doesn’t cover.

Look through the home page of the party website and there is not a single headline concerning international relations or heavyweight domestic issues – this from a party that has MEPs and aspires to win seats in the Westminster parliament.  For example, since the policy reversal on allowing Syrian refugees to live in Britain, there has been barely any mention of foreign affairs matters.

Given UKIP’s silence on the matter, Ukraine may as well be a self drive plant hire company.  It’s as if UKIP does the political equivalent of pleading the American 5th Amendment.

There has been little if any coverage or comment on the site about Ed Miliband changing the terms of a referendum on an EU treaty to making it a question of membership, thus ensuring a bias towards remaining in the EU.  Despite today being the day the Chancellor delivers the Budget, UKIP have nothing to say about it or what their offering is in respect of economic matters.  Similarly the silence has been deafening in respect of David Cameron’s nonsensical EU renegotiation position, with no rebuttal or counter position.  There’s more examples besides.

The website of a political party is its ambassador.  It is a place where people can go to get the unvarnised view of the party, and where media will lift quotes to use in news stories.  Loathe the BNP as I do, their website was responsible for raising issues into talking points and making the other parties address issues they had long tried to hide away from more than anything Nick Griffin said into a microphone.

But UKIP waste their web presence and one can only assume it’s because they have nothing of substance to say on the big issues.  They complain they don’t get a hearing in the media, but do nothing to use their available channels to reach beyond the media and speak directly to the electorate.  It all contributes to their electoral glass ceiling (11% in the latest You Gov poll), because potential supporters look at what the party has to say and find it amounts to very little.

Small wonder then that with the approach we see from UKIP, on the subject of leaving the EU or staying in, the current polling shows 39% want to leave and 41% want to stay.  The party isn’t doing the anti-EU side any favours.

Kirsten Farage describes the party’s headquarters operation as a ‘freakshow’. Maybe the party’s silence on key issues like those above is an attempt to keep her husband’s shallow soundbite-laden observations away from the public sphere, lest it incriminate the party as incompetent and ruin its credibility once and for all.

UKIP: Media revenge porn

ukipOver many months this blog has come in for some often aggressive responses to posts that have been critical of UKIP.

One of the accusations levelled at me (and certainly at Richard North) is that we have been waging a vendetta against Nigel Farage because of an historical ‘grudge’.  Where we have pointed out deficiencies in UKIP policy, media handling, message and approach – frequently naming Farage because he is the face of the party and has complete control over the approach taken – we have been told our criticisms are invalid because we are simply pursuing a campaign against him.

They reject our separate responses that we are actually critical friends of the party, want it to succeed for the sake of the anti-EU campaign, and are highlighting failings in the hope they are addressed by the party and not repeated.

However, the coverage of UKIP over the last couple of weeks in the Telegraph, Guardian and Times, puts things into context.  If aggrieved UKIP supporters thought the criticism of their party here and on EU Referendum was unacceptable and driven by a grudge, a look at what is happening in the media shows what a real grudge looks like – with allegations of extra marital affairs, party organisation incompetence, donors refusing to channel cash directly to the party and deliberate misuse of taxpayers’ money all dragged out in front of the public, with the sole aim of taking Nigel Farage down.

Some of the noisy hardcore have gone on to comment threads and said UKIP is being singled out by the media and the other parties are being given a free pass, indicating media bias.  Some of them claim that this is the establishment running scared of UKIP and trying to discredit it.  But it is something altogether different.  This is ‘score settling’.

For a long time the media has ignored UKIP.  There wasn’t enough interest to warrant publishing the stories it had, even though there have been personal spats behind the scenes where Farage and some of those close to him have seriously put the media’s nose out of joint.  We always said though that the media would turn its attention to UKIP at the point when it is considered one of the main parties, and that the scrutiny would be damaging.  That moment seems to have arrived and the media is now getting pay back for what has gone on before.  This is the political equivalent of revenge porn.

Worryingly for UKIP there is yet more material, much of which is not in the public domain, that the media is sitting on, waiting to toss into the public domain when it chooses to. Already the polls are showing the mythical ‘surge’, which has seen UKIP in third place in the polls but stubbonly rooted around 13%, seems to be retreating.  On Tuesday ICM put the Lib Dems in third place above UKIP. On Thursday an Ipsos-MORI poll saw the Lib Dems keep their third place ahead of UKIP and this morning YouGov has the Lib Dems overtaking UKIP, pushing them back into fourth.  This may have little impact in the European elections in May, which always sees protest votes rise dramatically, but for next year’s General Election this has Farage writing his resignation letter after failing to win any Westminster seats.

While the ultra hardcore party faithful, who behave more like a cult, will forgive anything and justify or excuse the behaviour reported in the allegations – incredibly accepting apparent defrauding of the taxpayer – many of the people that UKIP needs to change their vote to support the party will be put of by the claims.  They will take the view that for all his words, Farage is JAP – just another politician.

That will only compound the problem UKIP has of being the least popular and most unpopular of the parties, as shown in an ICM poll reported on Political Betting this week.

The concern for this blog is that the drip feed of negative stories about the party’s behaviour, and that of Farage in particular, will turn people off the anti-EU movement.  The latest polling disturbingly showing that now only a minority of voters currently want to leave the EU – 39%.  While UKIP is only polling around 13% nationwide, showing they actually don’t represent most anti-EU voters, there is still a perception that UKIP is the anti-EU movement, and if UKIP turns people off some might back away from anti-EU sentiment.

It is a sad fact that the reason the good ship UKIP is now taking water over the side is that its actions and those of Farage have generated so many negative stories for the media to feast upon.  The party has brought this on itself and scrutiny was always going to result in this.  There is no fire without fuel.  The lack of discipline, the questionable attitude of the leadership, the failure to develop and articulate a clear position on matters and the refusal to link the issues that have caused public anger to their EU origins, are seeing a double whammy of media feeding frenzy and flatlining poll numbers respectively.

What we have seen over the last few weeks is why this blog has long said UKIP deserves and needs better.  The stories currently in flight have far more impact because the main characters in them are still in place.  Perhaps in the light of these stories being trotted out in the media, our reasoning now makes a bit more sense.  Sadly for the anti-EU movement we can be certain things will get worse for UKIP before they have any hope of getting better.  It means we all lose.

Ukraine: Media not just ignoring reality but deceiving with naked propaganda

Following on from the previous post about the media ignoring what the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement actually does (clue, no, it’s not a mere trade agreement), we are increasingly seeing the media pushing a narrative that can only be described as outright propaganda that seeks to conceal the EU’s actions, behaviour and responsibility for the crisis.

Yesterday, without any journalistic integrity or commitment to sharing news rather than views, the Telegraph and its ‘experts’ grandly waded further into the Ukraine story with a podcast that can only be described as a rank perversion of the facts and a corruption of the historical record of events surrounding the Ukraine crisis.

The podcast was introduced on the page in the following way:

Power corrupts and it has corrupted Vladimir Putin absolutely. As the drama in Ukraine continues, we examine the mind and motivations of the man responsible.

Ian H Robertson, Professor in Psychology at Trinity College Dublin and author of The Winner Effect: How Power Affects Your Brain, explains how over time the need for power messes with the synapses and induces megalomania. The Professor tells us that the only way the West can get under Vladimir Putin’s skin is through practical sanctions.

Benedict Brogan and Con Coughlin discuss what those sanctions might look like, and if Britain even has the interest or clout to help resolve this dangerous crisis.

This is just staggering.  Describing Putin as the man responsible for the Ukraine crisis is ludicrous. We can but guess why the real culprit in this caper is being treated as if it doesn’t exist and has no bearing on events over recent months.

It was not Putin who was pursuing a policy designed to promote a gradual convergence on legal, social, foreign and security matters with the aim of ever-deeper involvement with Ukraine, it was the European Union.  The EU has a sole foreign policy (which means it is UK foreign policy) of enlarging itself so it can take control of more and more countries across the continent.

You're ignoring me again!

You’re ignoring me again!

The EU has already taken control of the Baltic countries, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia and they have also become part of NATO.  The EU had already started trying to do the same thing with Georgia and has been doing the same thing with Ukraine.  This has happened despite the west (NATO) promising Mikhail Gorbachev that they would not expand up to the Russian border.  But that is exactly what is happening.

It is laughable of Brogan and Coughlin to talk about power corrupting, and completely ignore that this defines what we are seeing with the EU.  It is equally laughable that they engage a professor of psychology to talk about how the need for power messes with the synapses and induces megalomania while ignoring the EU’s aggressive efforts to enlarge itself and take control of new countries.

As for practical sanctions supposedly being the only way to get under Putin’s skin, the evidence shows that bad faith, lies and broken promises are the way to achieve that – which is why the Russians have acted to secure territory that had long been sovereign Russian territory and is home to a Russian naval fleet.  Finally, asking if Britain has the interest or clout to help resolve this crisis, when we have been party to its creation thanks to this country’s support of the Association Agreement with Ukraine and readiness to ratify this power grab by our supreme government, is pure sophistry.

This is yet another compelling reason for the UK to leave the EU. We have no business furthering such an agenda.

How far the Telegraph has travelled from the days where it reported news and facts.  Now it is a tool of deception that treats its remaining (declining) readership with utter contempt.

Elements of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement the media wilfully ignores

The crisis in Ukraine has provided yet more evidence that the British media is variously ignorant, lazy and cannot be trusted to present news that is not infected with propaganda.

The reporting of the all-important background to the crisis in Ukraine has been nothing other than an exercise in deception. One wonders if any of the hacks have even visited and read the content on the page shown in the image.

Ask the average Briton what they understand about the Association Agreement that Ukraine was being asked to sign with the European Union, and thanks to the media they would either answer ‘a trade agreement’ or look blankly and say they have no idea.  But it is not a trade agreement, it is something much more far reaching than that.  It seeks to being about political dialogue in all areas of mutual interest that:

…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.

That has nothing to do with buying and selling goods and services.  Indeed, a far more significant and crucial element of the agreement is the military dimension outlined in the agreement’s Title II: Political Dialogue And Reform, Political Association, Cooperation And Convergence In The Field Of Foreign And Security Policy.

While that sounds harmless enough, in Article 10 of the document above we find a focus on ‘Conflict prevention, crisis management and military-technological cooperation’, where we find this – section 3 – that would certainly have Moscow seething, particularly when one thinks about how the present Ukraine military has been developed, trained and equipped:

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.

This is one of the areas the EU plans for ‘gradual convergence’ and ‘ever-deeper involvement’, with a country aligned historically, culturally, politically and militarily with Russia and the former Soviet Union.  There is only one destination when the plan is ‘gradual convergence’ and ‘ever-deeper involvement’, and that is union.  The EU’s plans for enlargment includes assimilating the remaining Russian satellites such as Ukraine, but Euro MPs are trying to kid us that only now has this idea come to the fore.

It would always be dangerous ground in the back yard of a country that is insecure, seeking to re-establish itself as a global power and spending big money on building its military capability.  Therefore the Association Agreement was a clearly geopolitical plan with two aims:

  1. To increase the EU’s political and military control over neighbouring countries and continue gradual enlargement
  2. To weaken Russia’s political and military control over its neighbours and hem it in on its western and southern borders

What on earth could Moscow not like about all that, especially with the Russian Navy Black Sea fleet based in Crimea?

While the Russians would be content to see the EU agree a trade deal with Ukraine, of the kind the media would have us think was on the table, the political and military dimensions to the agreement, diplomatically referenced by the Russian ambassador to the EU, was a deliberate provocation in the shape of a power grab by the EU.  Responsibility for all that has followed rests squarely with the EU and its expansionist, power crazed officials in Brussels.  But does our media tell that story?

The lack of impartial news coverage resulting in the disgraceful lack public knowledge about this, despite the EU being our government, the agreement being presented in our name and it being ratified by the British government in Westminster, is the fault of our media – which is pushing the EU’s ridiculous propaganda without question or challenge.

The UKIP delusion

Yesterday, Iain Martin in the Telegraph caught my eye with the article above.  Having been pondering the Scotland independence campaign in recent days and what we are learning from it, with a view to covering it on this blog – and given the added UKIP dimension – it was of interest to see where he would go with his piece.

To be honest Martin didn’t add much if anything to our understanding of the dynamics at play north of the border.  But his opinion regarding UKIP’s fortunes and by extension those of Nigel Farage did make one eyebrow rise somewhat.  As Martin opines:

It is curious that Salmond should be blowing up just as Nigel Farage starts to blow up. The two great guerilla leaders of our age – both expert at mounting effective raids on Westminster and discombobulating their much bigger opponents – are in trouble.

This is a ridiculous assertion.  UKIP has never even come close to mounting a raid on Westminster.  While the SNP has most seats in the Scottish Parliament and also returns MPs to Westminster, UKIP has a relatively small number of councillors in England and Wales and has only once come within a couple of thousand votes of ever having an MP elected under the party’s banner (Eastleigh).  However, setting aside such a daft claim, Martin did rehearse a point that we have made on this blog several times:

Ukip looks as though it has hit a ceiling in terms of attracting support. Its attempts to eat into the Labour vote are, so far, misfiring. The party was also running third in a recent poll on the Euro elections, and the Tory claim that a vote for Farage is a vote for Miliband and a Europhile Labour government looks increasingly potent.

We have mentioned this glass ceiling effect previously and all the current polling bears it out.  The trend of UKIP support in the polling numbers is downward and even in the party leader ratings, Nigel Farage has seen his number decline. There is simply no sign of UKIP being close to breaking through and significantly increasing its stock.

The reasons why we believe UKIP is stuck in second gear on the political motorway have been covered in detail here over many months. But what is worth noting today is the extent to which UKIP’s supporters, the vocal ones who lurk on the Telegraph’s comment threads seeking out criticism to attack, could be responsible for a lack of improvement in the party and letting Farage and his top team get away with poor performance at a time when the party should genuinely be surging ahead.

Looking at this subset of UKIP supporters, we can see from their contributions they are angry about Martin’s observations.  They refuse to deviate from their view that UKIP is on a surge, they see his piece as an attack on UKIP requiring an all-out retaliatory assault while at the same time accusing the media of circling the wagons around the main parties, they are desperate to state time and again that the party increased its vote five-fold in Wythenshawe to come second only to Labour, and a number of them claim that the almost the entire postal vote was fraudulent and that this robbed them of victory.

Is it any wonder the party leadership is able to actively resist change and improvement when in the eyes of an extremely vocal minority of members the party and its leadership does no wrong and when things go badly it’s always someone else’s fault or the result of a vicious conspiracy?  Let me explain by taking the points above in turn.

The fact is all the polls still show UKIP bumping along within a point or so of 13% nationally.  There are exceptions in some constituencies of a particular political composition where the party scores higher, but despite this they have been rooted around 13% for a while, having seen a drop from their polling highs around May last year.  This is in no way a surge that they claim it to be.  Arguing there is a surge merely ignores the evidence.

Perhaps Martin’s piece was an attack.  Journalists have reader numbers in mind, it’s all about the traffic they can drive, so anything that stirs a reaction and draws in more readers is grist to the mill.  Of course, Labour, the Tories and Lib Dems have all been attacked at some point and their supporters resent it, often biting back.  But UKIP supporters act as if attacks have never happened before in politics and believe they are under so concerted an attack it is as if the very core of their being and everything they believe in is at risk of destruction.  The resulting aggression and spite this sparks, as evidenced in their outpourings, is truly a sight.

The meme that is circulating in newspapers and blogs, that UKIP increased its vote in Wythenshawe five-fold, is a masterclass in spin.  A candidate who only got 2 votes could increase their vote five-fold next time around and it would still only be miniscule at 10.  UKIP supporters don’t like seeing the cold hard fact that they polled only 4,301 votes and although placed second, the party was so far behind Labour it was an irrelevance in the contest.  This is despite the UKIP vote being mobilised and motivated to turn out.  Before the election some of these people were declaring Wythenshawe to be in play and a possible UKIP gain!  Any attempt to point this out then moves smoothly to the next item on the list…

It requires quite a flight from reality to argue that the overwhelming majority of postal votes that went to Labour were fraudulent and that if people had to vote in person and produce ID, the ballot would have been much closer.  But that is what is being said in UKIP supporter circles.  The clear implication is that Asians in the constituency have engaged in electoral fraud and therefore stitched up UKIP.  No evidence has been provided and they say the establishment would ignore it anyway because it resulted in UKIP falling badly at the hurdle.

Farage and Co must love this.  These arguments let them completely off the hook for such a piss poor performance against a backdrop of real anger at the main parties.  While a small number who have rejected the main parties in frustration have indeed gone into the UKIP camp, UKIP is not picking up the majority of those who are turning their backs, because it is being seen as just another party that is no different to the rest.

It could have been so much different and it should be so much different.

‘Stop sniping from the sidelines, get on board, get behind us and influence the leadership if you want to change the approach’, is a mantra often heard from vocal UKIPpers who object to such observations and any criticism.  Incidentally they never engage on the substance of the criticism, but the details above show they never will because they are in an echo chamber, inhabiting a parallel plane where things like facts are dismissed with a sneer and promises of an earthquake to come are made.

But how could anyone try to change things from the inside when the leadership, irrespective of fault or error, is blessed with reinforcing confirmation bias in its totality from people who have gone beyond loyal and behave with quasi-religious reverence for the leadership and repeat every utterance as an inviolable truth that must not be questioned?

Where people cannot see any fault at all, there is no pressure on the party leadership to get its act together.  This is why UKIP is where it is.  This is why Iain Martin, for all his own failings, got the thrust of his piece correct.

This idea that too many in UKIP are deluding themselves about the party’s performance and prospects, has been given more credence by a YouGov ‘Voting Intention Predictions’ exercise – as covered by Political Betting – where people were asked to say where in the polls the main parties will be at the end of 2014.

While supporters of the four largest parties all rated the prospects of their own party more highly than supporters of other parties did, the predictions from UKIP supporters really stand out from the rest, as you can see below – believing they will have double the polling numbers supporters of any other party predict for them.

Until they return to the real world, UKIP supporters, not just the leadership, will see to it that the party never develops and never breaks the mould.  They are no longer an insurgency, they are just another party.

Democracy through the Wythenshawe prism

We have learned that the media will do all it can to ignore the crucial matter of political and electoral legitimacy. The establishment can’t have ordinary people actually thinking about or discussing MPs sitting in Parliament after securing only a tiny amount of support in the ballot.  That would be dangerous to the establishment.  The media, as its ally, continues to help distract attention away from this significant issue.

84.4% of eligible voters in Wythenshawe and Sale East did not vote for the candidate elected as the area’s MP.  71.8% of eligible voters in the constituency did not even vote.  The turnout was mentioned in Chris Mason’s piece, but only as part of the result, tucked away as a bullet point neatly at the bottom of the vote tally, no further discussion of it wanted or permitted.

This is an issue that is not going to go away.  In a democracy the elected representatives must have legitimacy.  Mike Kane’s election ‘victory’ with only 15.6% of the available vote is nowhere close to legitimacy.  We do not live in a democracy.  It is time people made a stand in order for this country to become one.

Cameron at his disingenuous worst with floods pledge

David Cameron today once again successfully failed to bang on about Europe, as he said Britain has ‘to do better as a country’ to protect itself from future floods, the Telegraph tells us.

No doubt those people of the Somerset Levels who had time to listen in on the radio while trying to cope with flooding, evacuation and the turning upside down of their lives, will have been incredulous when Cameron said that officials are working on a plan to protect the Somerset Levels, although, as he put it, it is still not clear what the best solution for the area would be.

Here’s a radical thought, as a starting point, how about a return to the flood prevention activity that was wound down over the years by the Environment Agency to fit a political agenda created through the EU?  If those who managed to listen in to the pontificating buffoon were not already grinding their teeth in anger, then this may well have done the trick:

Dredging has a part to play.

At the end of the 1990s when the Environment Agency was established, there became rather an anti-dredging culture and some of the expert bodies said it shouldn’t be part of the picture. It has to be part of the picture.

Why won't anyone acknowledge me?

Why won’t anyone acknowledge me?

Unsurprisingly, there was not a single word about why it was suddenly decided that dedging shouldn’t be part of the picture, or the concerted effort by the EU to inflate the price of dredging through waste management laws and restrictions on moving river deposits once on land. Far less any mention by the Telegraph’s Peter Dominiczak, who, like UKIP, passed up the opportunity to add value by providing context and sharing established facts.

There was no mention of Making Space for Water.
There was no mention of the Water Framework Directive.
There was no mention of the Floods Directive.
There wasn’t even any mention of the Natura 2000 strategy.

EU law has been changing the British landscape – literally – aided by environmentalist activists like Baroness Young, who Labour parachuted into positions of power to wreak havoc on the approach to flood prevention, because they shared the EU view of wanting to see reclaimed land, such as the levels, refilled with water to become habitat museums – this despite the fact that flooding the long since established farmland in this way kills the animals living there and results in a putrid, stinking swamp that cannot sustain fowl in any case.

Around the areas that have been flooded there will be some very lonely animals.  But there will be none so lonely, or so deliberately ignored, as the great big EU elephant in the room that the useless UK media and politicans from the four main parties are doing their best to pretend they cannot see and does not exist when it comes to the flooding issue, how it has been allowed to happen and acknowledging who was responsible.

Scottish independence campaign being used as a guinea pig for EU referendum campaign

For some people this may be a statement of the bleeding obvious, but listening to BBC Radio 4 Today this morning, it seems the media is using the Scottish independence campaign to test out which arguments should be made and lines taken in any future EU referendum campaign (whenever that might be).

Professor John Curtice, wearing his ScotCen Social Research hat, has told the BBC that:

Voters want to hear about the economic and financial consequences of the choice that they make, and it is on the outcome of that debate that the result of the referendum is likely to turn.

This is hardly as surprise when the questions asked focus on economic rather than political matters.

A write up of the story on BBC Online also extracts specific questions that focus on voting intentions based on whether Scots will be £500 better or worse off after independence, or whether the Scottish economy will be better or worse. There is no report on the all-important political factors, which is what the independence debate (and the EU debate for that matter) is all about.

It is important to note that the Today piece included comments from four Scots voters – and only one of them said financial considerations were an important factor to him when it comes to voting on independence.  The other three didn’t focus on economics and instead spoke about variations on the theme of who decides how Scotland is run.  Once this segment had been played, the presenter then ignored the voter contributions and turned the discussion straight back to economics, disregarding what the voters had said; and Curtice himself then introduced identity as an issue rather than politics, to move the conversation further away from the central political dimension.

The feeling is of there being a clear agenda to frame the Scottish debate firmly in terms of economics, while doing everything possible to confine the politics to the wilderness.  While this mirrors the current approach taken to the EU debate by the Europhiles at places such as the Centre for European Reform and the Europlastics at places such as Open Europe, what it does is enable the power of the narrative to be tested on a live electorate and see how effectively the electorate can be manipulated into focusing on issues that are irrelevant to the concept of independence – namely who should run Scotland.

No matter whether one feels the Scots should be independent, or whether the union should be preserved as it is, all should be concerned that the crux of the independence issue is being airbrushed from the discourse by the media, which is taking its line from entities with vested interests in keeping all structures as they are – which suits the European Union perfectly.

A knowingly untrue media narrative

Time to ease back into blogging after a bit of a rest.  The BBC is once again playing political agendas rather than simply reporting the news today, on the subject of banker bonuses.

Whether you like the Tories or not, the fact is the BBC is biased against them and will score cheap points at every opportunity.  This would be more acceptable if the BBC did the same with Labour and the Lib Dems, but they don’t.  The corporation is content to align itself with parties and causes it identifies as sharing the BBC’s ‘progressive’ worldview.  Hence the pathetic effort to ‘embarrass’ George Osborne today.

Due, we are told, to EU rules, banker’s bonuses are capped at 100% of salary.  However, the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) is applying to UKFI as representatives of the majority shareholder (the taxpayer) to be allowed to set a bonus level for staff of 200% of salary.  The BBC this morning has described this action as ‘trying to get around the rules’.  However the reality is this is strictly within the EU rules.

Banks are allowed to set bonuses at 200% of salary with shareholder permission.  All RBS is doing is seeking that permission.  A guest speaking on Radio 4′s Today programme made this clear, and rebutted the claim by the BBC that RBS is trying to get around the rules and that George Osborne is being put in an embarrassing position by being asked to approve a 200% of salary bonus figure.

Yet in the news headlines at 8.00am, some time after the guest speaker had corrected the false assertion, the BBC once again reported the story as RBS trying to get around the rules.  The facts and the reality have been deliberately ignored by the public service broadcaster because the truth did not fit with the narrative it wanted to portray for political reasons.

The same has been true with the recent nonsense about EU reform and various ‘ideas’ being spouted that, despite completely setting aside what is possible and permissible within the EU, are given airtime as if they were genuine alternatives to leaving the EU.

This casual bias and partisan propagandising is not permitted as part of the BBC charter, but it continues without official challenge.  It does not serve the public, it manipulates the public and such blatant dishonesty demonstrates the contempt in which the public is held by the BBC.  It is another example of why we cannot trust the media in this country.

Ice locked ‘SS Alarmist’ provides reminder of media bias

We can be very certain that the crew and climate alarmist passengers of the MV Akademik Schokalskiy did not expect to get trapped in a thick ice sheet in Antarctica.  They went in search evidence of the world’s melting ice caps, but instead a team of ‘climate scientists’ have been forced to abandon their mission … because the Antarctic ice is thicker than usual at this time of year (code for ‘it’s colder, not warmer’).

Despite it being the Antarctic summer, when the most ice melt would invariably take place, the vessel and an ice breaker sent to cut her free are both stuck firm.  It’s not the first time conditions have failed to reinforce the narrative.  From this we can at least deduce the warming that is supposedly hidden deep in the ocean is not hiding in that part of the world…

It is rather satisfying to see the alarmists experiencing first hand the reality of conditions that differ wildly from their computer modelled predictions and consistently worrying warnings, that are parrotted obediently and without challenge or question by their fellow travellers in the world’s biased and agenda riddled media.

Had the crew and passengers managed to observe and record dramatic images of ice melt cascading off ice flows, we can be sure the media would currently be packed with ‘we told you’ so climate change/global warming reports prophesising impending thermogeddon and demanding even more ‘action’ and public money to tackle man’s warming of the planet – furthering the green agenda of reversing progress and industrialisation to force mankind back into the middle ages.

Instead, as they have experienced unexpectedly cold and contradictory conditions, they and their media lackeys only make passing reference to the vessel being trapped and package it up as a human interest story.  The bias is glaringly obvious.  Their embarrassment and frustration is palpable.  So clearly there is no mileage in global warming alarmists telling the world it is actually colder, despite all their ‘evidence’ to the contrary.

Therefore, sadly for the alarmists, the latest round of doom laden climate reporting grounded in biased computer models has been cancelled due to the inconvenient truth of observed reality.  The absence of a raft of climate change stories from these ideologues sends a clear message, move along… there’s nothing to see here (unless it fits our agenda).  Science and the media working in concert.  Ain’t it grand?

The tide of ignorance of EU law laps over the wall of reality

The Mail has bought and run as its own a piece from the Guardian about what its like to work for Amazon.

It focuses on the working conditions, low pay, use of agency labour and number of jobs they estimate the company’s rise has cost elsewhere.  But no such attack piece on a company like Amazon is complete without bringing up taxation:

It is taxes, of course, that pay for the roads on which Amazon’s delivery trucks drive, and the schools in which its employees are educated.

Taxes that all its workers pay, and that, it emerged in 2012, Amazon tends not to pay.

On UK sales of £4.2 billion in 2012, it paid £3.2 million in corporation tax. In 2006, it transferred its UK business to Luxembourg and reclassified its UK operation as simply an ‘order fulfilment’ business.

The Luxembourg office employs 380 people. The UK operation employs 21,000. You do the sums.

One can understand this line.  One can also sympathise with it to a degree because it underlines what is wrong with the corporatist system we have, something that too many people wrongly describe as capitalist.  But that sympathy erodes somewhat when what follows a few paragraphs further on shakes us back to our senses and reveals yet again the sheer ignorance of the people railing against this situation:

MPs like to attack Amazon and Starbucks and Google for not paying their taxes, but they’ve yet to actually create legislation compelling them to do so.

All too often these left leaning campaigning writers are pro-EU, they love the idea of knocking over nation states to create a nationless unions such as the EU.  Yet they are either too stupid to understand the reality, or too dishonest to report it, by not pointing out it is EU law and one of the four freedoms (of movement of capital) that prevent MPs creating legislation to tax profits made in the UK when that company’s UK operation is merely ‘passported’ because its base is in another EU state.

Such is the pisspoor calibre of our media, they continue to misinform, mislead and misdirect their slowly dwindling audience, ensuring the sum of knowledge is minimised yet rousing rabbles to attack MPs for inaction where in reality they have no power.

Rather than attack MPs for not applying taxes they are barred from levying, these prestigious know nothings should be attacking them for allowing power to be taken by Brussels, leaving the UK without sovereignty.  But this is what happens when we are flooded by a tide of ignorance so big the walls of reality are breached.

Despite no evidence media deliberately seeks to link tidal surge to climate change

It’s not just shabby, it’s downright dishonest.

The Independent – a viewspaper not a newspaper – having taken it upon itself as part of the establishment to push the climate alarmist narrative relentlessly, is even ignoring what the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has said about no evidence of a link between ‘climate change’ and ‘extreme weather’ and is trying to connect the east coast tidal surge to climate change.  But in a snide piece of journalism it is doing it in an underhand way, designed to be subtle while being blindingly obvious, by making references to Owen Paterson’s comments about the potential benefits of climate change.

Climate activists and their media mouthpieces keep suggesting extreme weather events are being caused by climate change.  Yet that would mean the weather events they have latched on to would be happening only because of a tiny amount of temperature change that has been recorded.  Paterson did himself no favours by describing the flooding this week as ‘quite exceptional’.  They were comparable to the floods of 1953, lower in some areas and higher in others, which pre-date the warming cited as a cause of weather events that have occured many times over the centuries.

But where there is an agenda being pushed by people who put their fingers in their ears to block out anything that undermines their belief system, and who refuse to provide balance in their reporting by publishing anything that contradicts it, we get what the media is serving up.

UKIP’s marginal seat polling – fun with hyperbole and badly spun numbers

Alan Bown’s money is generating headlines for UKIP that are better than the actual polling numbers themselves suggest.

The headline figures of these UKIP commissioned polls are being reported somewhat selectively.  I don’t know why this is happening, but with such a small sample in each constituency (only around 500) and by only publicising the figures that exclude undecided voters and those who refused to say who they would vote for, the poll is largely meaningless.

For example, in Great Grimsby the realistic polling figures (page 6 of the table, figures rounded) are:

Labour 29%
UKIP 16%
Conservative 15%
Lib Dems 8%
Others 4%
Undecided/Refused to answer 28%

With nearly a third of respondants not knowing or not saying who they will vote for, this poll really tells us nothing.  Bown is wasting his money, or at best paying well over the odds for some favourable short term headlines in the Tory hating press.

Looking at the figures objectively, the Labour lead is no surprise.  This was a seat the Tories failed to win, even against the most unpopular Labour government in history, falling 700 votes short of Austin Mitchell in 2010.  Looking at that result gives the impression of this seat being a marginal.  But in reality, the Tories have shot their bolt and now they are part of an unpopular government they were always going to fall away to more normal levels of support.

To put things into context, below is the result from Great Grimsby in 2005, which shows the more normal order of things in the constituency.

Getting back to this Survation poll for Bown/UKIP and the comparison with 2010, the Guardian’s report is little short of ludicrous:

Meanwhile Ukip is significantly outperforming its projected figure from most national polls, up 15 points on 23%, far above the 15% projected from national polling.

The UKIP vote was 6% in 2010, but when you look at the full numbers in the Survation poll, including the all important undecideds and refusals, UKIP is up 10 points to 16% – which is 50% less than the Guardian is trying to spin and completely in line with the 15% vote share projection from national polling.

It’s not a bad increase, but it is nothing like what the media is trying to spin.  This is another example of the lamestream media trying to concoct a story out of nothing.

Further, when one considers UKIP’s recent election results have seen increases in their vote directly correlating with the previous BNP vote that has lost its home, the 16% today is only 5% higher than the combined UKIP/BNP 2010 share in Great Grimsby of just under 11%, shown below:

Of course, in this poll some of the refusals might be UKIP supporters and some of the undecideds could break for UKIP in 2015, so a 23% vote share is still possible, if somewhat unlikely.  But as with the polling numbers released last week for Thanet South, the media coverage seems to be following an agenda that gives UKIP false hope that they are performing better than they actually are.  The devil is in the numbers that are being deliberately ignored.

I have not yet looked at the Dudley polling, but I’ll wager the pattern is continued there and the headline numbers are overstating the real support the parties are getting.

The most potent weapon in the media’s arsenal deployed against the public

On Radio 4′s Today programme this morning was an interview with former Sun editor, David Yelland.  He was talking about his views on press regulation and the Royal Charter, attacking the press for their reaction to the output from the Leveson inquiry.

While it was an interesting take on matters, focused on the Leveson Anniversary Lecture he is delivering today at the Free Word Centre and covered in the Guardian today, one small snippet of his speech that he shared on air stood out as being an invaluable insight from a heavyweight media insider:

One of the most potent weapons a newspaper has is to totally ignore an issue or a story. People attack papers for what they print. But what they don’t print is often the bigger story.

This is essential for people to understand.

For campaigns such as those concerned with leaving the EU, challenging climate change orthodoxy, demanding democratic reform, exposing abuses and failings of the establishment and so on, this  bias by omission is all too familiar and occurs all too frequently.  Another example of it has surfaced today.  It is invariably a weapon deployed in the interest of the media itself – but most frequently in support of agendas in the interest of the political class (which the media relies on for stories) and the rest of the establishment.  This cosy little stitch up, by and for people who consider themselves important, is designed to keep people in ignorance and conceal truths that are inconvenient to the establishment.

While this and many other blogs have often pointed at instances of bias by omission in favour of the establishment, very rarely does a member of it break ranks like this and admit the truth in such a transparent and matter of fact way.  Yelland reinforces the reality with another observation, thus:

[...] Whether they are mad or just lack self-awareness, the fact is editors and proprietors in this country see themselves as the small guy, the powerless man struggling against the establishment. What they fail to grasp is that they have become the establishment themselves. They are the powerful, and others are the weak.

He also confirms the pack mentality and derivative nature of the media – which while focused in this instance on the reaction to Leveson, equally applies to just about every major issue covered (or ignored) by this country’s press:

The press has done itself no favours in the biased way this entire matter has been reported, when it has been reported at all. Few papers have dared differ from the fundamental response to the great mess that caused the Leveson inquiry in the first place. There is a party line. And nearly everybody follows it.

The media cannot be relied upon.  Every story that is published needs to be viewed through a filter where one should ask themself; why has this story been covered, whose interest is being served, what is the other point of view, how and why were those providing comment selected, and what information has been excluded from the story?

It may seem cynical to do this, but it is the only way to shield oneself from the cynical manipulation to which the public is subjected by the press, be it broadcast, print or electronic.

Daily Express… stupid is as stupid does

When one reads headlines like the one shown here in the Daily Express, it feels like we have been transported into some parallel universe where reality has been inverted, and where stupidity and ignorance are what pass for intelligence.

Such is the level of utter detachment and delusion at the paper that some would be forgiven for thinking of as UKIP’s house journal.  Well, with friends like the Express, UKIP certainly doesn’t need enemies.

As Richard points out on EU Referendum, in the Express and in the Daily Mail (which also claims for itself the credit for this imagined victory) for all the rhetoric, for all the analysis and for all the posturing, it boils down to the message millions of voters will receive: the government is doing something about migrants.  The reality is that the government is doing nothing of substance, because it can’t.

What started as an article in the Financial Times has blossomed into the front pages of the two “middle England” tabloids and dominated the media agenda for over twenty-four hours. Rarely can such a modest investment have yielded such huge dividends.

The odd thing is that David Cameron’s piece did not even enjoy the status of an official announcement. Go to the Government website or No 10 Dowing Street and you will see nothing on migrant policy. And neither, apart from an exchange in PMQs, will you see anything announced in the Commons. Parliament, it seems, is too unimportant to be kept in the loop.

Thus, we have “government by Financial Times“, thereby ensuring that most people will not have read the statement or have had access to the semi-firewalled article. They will be relying for their “take” on what the popular papers (and the BBC) tell them. And the message conveyed is as much as David Cameron could have hoped for.

How on earth do newspapers get away with being considered authoritative and worthy of respect – the prestige factor – and even have High Court Judges fawning over their supposed ‘powerful reputation for accuracy‘ when they present stories like this that are so completely and hopelessly wrong?

To echo Richard, nothing that Cameron has done in respect of immigration control has had the slightest impact on these figures, and nothing he is going to do will impact on levels in the short- or medium-term. But that doesn’t matter. His meaningless waffle and empty rhetoric is sufficient for now, and it will be enough to put UKIP back in its box for a week or so.  And this from the paper the Kippers consider to be their ally.

It’s politics, so perception trumps fact and facts aren’t even checked by the media corps.  They just take at face value what the spin doctors chuck at them and don’t even think to look at the laws or even the previous unkept promises that never materialised.  Then they file their copy, go to the pub and congratulate themselves on being such  important and well connected people with so much prestige.

These idiot journalists, with their fat salaries and with prestige weighed by the tonne, have been well and truly conned – and in turn, through their ignorance and laziness, are spinning a tissue of lies to their readers.  Useless wankers.

Perhaps those people demanding an early in-out referendum on EU membership would do well to stop and think how the media would negatively impact the out campaign when it can swallow government rubbish and get simple issues like this so catastrophically wrong.

Fantasy Island: EU renegotiation special episode

fantasy_islandFrom the ever confused and deceitful pages of the EU-supporting Daily Mail – the paper that quietly declared way down in a long editorial, ‘Let the Mail lay all its cards on the table. This paper has no desire for Britain to pull out of Europe’ – we have yet another bit of supposed red meat tossed to EUsceptics to keep them at bay.

Irrespective of the reality about trivialities such as how these things work, who has the ability to convene them, when they can be called and how items are accepted onto the agenda, the Mail reports the latest from Europlastic HQ to quiet the maddening crowd and give the illusion that something of substance is being done.

Next week, a group of Tories will unveil their own blueprint for reform of Britain’s relationship with Europe.

Andrea Leadsom, Chris Heaton-Harris and Tim Loughton, from the Fresh Start Project, have identified at least five major changes to EU treaties they say should be at the heart of Britain’s renegotiation.

They include reforms to protect our financial services industry and an end to limits on work hours. Tory Eurosceptics also want reforms to energy policy, the common agricultural policy, defence and immigration.

Add in to this renegotiation mix other ‘demands’ including limits on EU migrants who claim benefits in Britain, and the right to stop making payments such as child benefit, to the dependent children of migrant workers – and the Mail’s self delusion that this ‘move’ comes only after a poll for the Mail identified deep public anxiety about the ending of transitionary immigration restrictions on new EU members Romania and Bulgaria in January – and we have all the ingredients for a special episode of Fantasy Island.

Let’s not forget of course the shallow commitment to an in-out referendum sometime in 2017 that keeps being floated to keep the unruly peasants in their hovels, something that is almost certainly not going to happen because the EU will be in the midst of a new treaty negotiation to shore up the Eurozone and provide the EU with direct taxation powers to help with its revenue vs spending shortfall.

I’m only surprised we haven’t seen Osborne Tattoo running for his bell shouting ‘De Plane!! De Plane!!’

[Many will be pleased to know blogging will be light to non existant this weekend - lots on at Mind Towers]

New coal-fired power plants: All the news that’s convenient to print

It’s almost a week since Steag GmbH, started up the new 725-megawatt Walsum-10 coal-fired power plant, in eco-friendly Germany.  The plant is due to commence full commercial operation before the end of the year.

Germany is consistently cited by environmentalists in the UK as a stunning example of the use of renewables, and evidence that the UK should follow Germany’s ‘wise’ example in moving away from fossil fuels.

How curious it is, therefore, that the same environmentalists have been completely silent about Walsum-10.  For that matter, how curious it is that while the UK is being saddled with more disproportionately expensive and grossly inefficient wind turbines, the UK lamestream media has completely ignored the Walsum-10 story.  You could perhaps understand a single coal plant’s opening being ignored, but no less than ten new hard-coal power stations, or 7,985 megawatts, are scheduled to start producing electricity in the next two years.

The difference between the German approach and the UK approach is stark.  The German government is determined to produce affordable and reliable energy for its industry and domestic consumers and is building substantial new coal to meet its needs.  Meanwhile the UK government is determined to put up wind turbines regardless of the cost and at the expense of reliability and is more concerned with forcing people to use less energy rather than striving to meet demand.

The compliant UK media remains silent.  They only publish the news that’s convenient to print, and in any case the journalists who cover political issues have other more pressing concerns than something as trivial as keeping the public informed.


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