Archive for September, 2011

Bolton Council fails in attempt to withhold information from the public

Following on from the recent series of posts on EU Referendum about bailiffs being used by Councils to enforce tax demands and fines, we have a timely story that reveals a successful effort to shine a little more light into the dealings of Council Officers behind the scenes.

Regular readers may remember this important story on Autonomous Mind posted in June this year about Councils trying to hide information that the public should have access to.

Fresh from that victory in forcing Bolton Council to make public the outside business dealings of its senior town hall staff, campaigner John Greenwood has struck yet another blow against Bolton Council’s desire to help its staff avoid transparency and avoid being held to account by the people they are supposed to serve.

A FOI request to Bolton Council asking for copies of all emails or any other correspondence between any officers of Bolton Council which discuss parking Appeals, Regulations, Signs, TRO or Consolidation Order issues saw Mr Greenwood ask for the names of those appearing on correspondence relating to parking enforcement issues.  These particular officers are mostly concerned with parking matters and the application of parking policy together with the issuing of PCN’s (Penalty Charge Notices) in the town of Bolton.  The Council refused to give the names and the matter went to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

As John Greenwood explains on the We Are Watching You blog:

Some of the council officers involved made it clear to the Information Commissioner they do not want members of the public to know who they are and they have specifically requested the Commissioner not to reveal their names.

The Commissioner says he considers that those in a public-facing role should have a greater expectation that some details about them, for instance their name and the fact that they work for the authority, might be disclosed as part of carrying out their day to day duties.

The officers whose names have now been ordered by the Information Commissioner to be disclosed hold positions such as managerial or media officer positions within the council and therefore they must have an expectation that in dealing with members of the public their names would be disclosed in the course of their day to day duties.

The information Commissioner has decided that, by ordering the disclosure of the names of the council officers involved, it would provide to members of the public details of the actions they took part in as part of their role in the council and would create greater transparency or accountability.

The details of the ICO’s important findings can be seen on Greenwood’s blog.  This could be yet another gamechanger as Councils up and down the country can now expect to be held to the same standard and key Officers prevented from hiding behind an unjustified cloak of anonymity.

While it is disgraceful that public servants continue to think of themselves as the public’s rulers and act accordingly, their grip on the power that should reside with us is slowly being loosened.  The yawning democratic deficit is narrowed bit by bit through determined actions such as these.  More people need to stand up in this way and challenge those public servants who presume to be our masters.  We need to take the power back from them.

Incredibly there is another parallel between this case and the EU Referendum saga – the handling of the matters by the media.  For as the Sunday Telegraph was censoring key pieces of information from Christopher Booker’s column on Richard North’s story, Greenwood reveals the Bolton News has failed to report his story.  It is important because if the Council fails to comply with the steps required by the ICO it may result in a written certification of that fact going to the High Court pursuant to section 54 of the Act, which could see the matter dealt with as a contempt of court.  Instead the Bolton News prefers to run with meaningless stories about Council Member navel gazing.

Is it any wonder more people are rejecting the establishment’s self serving channels and instead are turning to the blogosphere to find out what is really going on?

Tory MP tries to turn Corby into Belfast

Wannabe high profile Tory MP for Corby, Louise Mensch, has sparked yet another row. This time in the town itself by raising concerns about the Corby Loyalist Flute Band leading the Remembrance Day parade.

Mensch has co-signed a letter with Corby’s Mayor Gail McDaid to the Royal British Legion asking for all sectarian elements of the day to be removed in future and for all sectarian symbols to be removed this year. Suffice to say the Legion and a surprised local community have not taken this needless bit of interference well.

The chairman of the Corby branch of the Royal British Legion, Mick Evans, told the local Evening Telegraph:

Corby people have always supported the Legion and they are behind us 150%. The MP has lit a powder keg for no reason.

Some of those leaving comments on the newspaper’s website are speculating that Mensch has made an issue of the band because of her family’s Catholicism. Regardless, an otherwise unremarkable and uncontroversial local tradition has been needlessly turned into a political issue, because of her desire to be seen to be doing something in a town she is alien to, while wanting to be seen cooperating with a local Labour Mayor.

Rather than the solution to a problem, the ruthlessly ambitious Louise Mensch is once again the cause of yet another one.

Revolution time

If you take a couple of minutes to read this op-ed in the Irish Independent by Eamon Keane, one can quickly identify a number of parallels with our own Westminster Parliament and self serving politicians.

Some of the sentiments that stand out include: ‘Power no longer rests with our impotent national parliament’… ‘Truth be told, it’s been finished for a long time, made redundant by the actions of our politicians’…  and ”Our Dail is also doomed because it is based on a political system where getting re-elected takes precedence over the national interest’.  Keane may be writing about Ireland, but it all has a very familiar ring to it.

But the greatest resonance can be found in the most thought provoking part of the piece:

We are in the worst crisis in our history and our parliament is impotent.

Is there any hope for democracy? Yes. While the Dail may be dead a new parliament is emerging. It is to be found in ordinary people, community and support groups who come together to discuss a way forward. A second wave is already there though social networks.


The EU reality ignored by politicians and media

This week’s announcement by Sir Max Hastings that was supposed to reverberate around the media bubble with the force of a volcanic eruption – namely that he has changed his unimpeachable view and now thinks his precious EU has been a disaster – landed with all the impact of a downy feather gliding slowly down on to a paving slab.

Despite his 1800+ words of grandiose moral superiority, Hastings still didn’t ‘get it’, a point illustrated superbly by EU Referendum.  Now, following on the heels of that clinical assessment of Hastings’ waffle, Christopher Booker uses column in the Sunday Telegraph to point out the vacuous nature of Hastings and the Tory Europlastics and remind readers of the reality of the EU that is either ignored or disregarded by our craven politicians and useless media:

Until the points Booker makes are understood and accepted there is little point listening to anything the politicians and hacks have to say about the EU issue.

Talking to the political class’ non-issues will help expose their ignorance and duplicity but it will not move us forward very far.  Perhaps we are finally approaching the time when we should switch our focus from attacking the failing EU to presenting a positive vision for Britain’s future as the independent nation it would be if it threw off governance by Brussels.  Events are changing the terms of the debate.

Why the Met Police is right to uncover the Guardian’s ‘phone hacking’ news source

The insipid David Leigh used space in Friday’s Guardian to moan and bluster about what he is portraying as an ‘unprecedented move’ by the police to force the paper to reveal its sources in the so called phone hacking affair. He told readers:

“The Metropolitan police are seeking a court order under the Official Secrets Act to make Guardian reporters disclose their confidential sources about the phone-hacking scandal.

“In an unprecedented legal attack on journalists’ sources, Scotland Yard officers claim the act, which has special powers usually aimed at espionage, could have been breached in July when reporters Amelia Hill and Nick Davies revealed the hacking of Milly Dowler’s phone. They are demanding source information be handed over.”

Leigh is deliberately appealing to the vested interests of journalists everywhere to rally to the Guardian’s aid and whip up public disquiet about the Met’s actions.  But you have to get to paragraph 12 of Leigh’s piece before you get a clue that this is not an assault on the press and their desire to keep their sources confidential.  For it is there that Leigh explains:

The application, authorised by Detective-Superintendent Mark Mitchell of Scotland Yard’s professional standards unit, claims that the published article could have disclosed information in breach of the 1989 Official Secrets Act.

What has the Met’s Professional Standards Unit got to do with journalism?  Nothing at all.  This is not about an attack on the Guardian, it about a tightly focused police investigation trying to uncover evidence that at least one police officer – and possibly one or more employees of the Crown Prosecution Service – who corrupted their office and committed misconduct in public office by leaking confidential investigation details to the newspaper.  Not just any information, but details that still have the potential to undermine subsequent prosecutions over the very hacking for which the Guardian wanted people held to account.

The Guardian’s nose has been put out of joint since its police mole / one of its police moles was arrested, putting an end to their scoops about arrests that were yet to be announced or had even yet to be made, and details of material in police possession that was used to undermine a rival newspaper – the News of the World.  Leigh’s piece is the manifestation of the indignation its editorial team are feeling about that.

In no way is this about the Guardian challenging an injustice to protect the public interest.  The public interest element was concluded when the police re-opened its hacking inquiry after the initial scoop.  This is about the Guardian trying to protect a source(s) who knowingly broke the law to provide details about the investigation that were not in the public interest.  For example, what was the public interest in announcing the impending arrest of Andy Coulson a day before it happened?  There was not only no justification, the story could have prejudiced the investigation and may yet undermine a prosecution.  This was all about ego and wanting to be first with the scoop. Nothing more.

While this blog opposes police over reaching their powers and laws that infringe civil liberties and privacy, the Metropolitan Police’s action is entirely appropriate.  This blog highlighted the Guardian’s mole(s) inside the Met and called for action to investigate them.  That is what the Met is doing.  The Met Police action could actually go beyond the hacking investigation to include the unrelated matter referenced in the linked piece, concerning the Guardian’s ‘outing’ of an American blogger, ‘Jeff Id’ .

While it does not fall within the scope of the Official Secrets Act, the possibility that a police source used material in police possession to identify the true identity of an anonymous blogger and give that information to a Guardian journalist – David Leigh himself – is a clear breach of ethics and illegal act.  Draining the Guardian’s swamp of sources who break the law to leak information is something that is long overdue.  It is both necessary and appropriate.

Roger Helmer should oppose new ‘Eurosceptic movement’ or resign from The Freedom Assocation

In a comment left in reply to a recent blog post by Conservative MEP, Roger Helmer, AM pointed out the contradictory nature of Helmer’s position.

On the one hand, Helmer is convinced that Britain would be Better Off Out of the EU and says he wants an In / Out referendum.  On the other, Helmer is convinced the new ‘Eurosceptic movement’ set up by George Eustice, Chris Heaton-Harris and Andrea Leadsom does not support Britain remaining in the EU and that AM is wrong in claiming otherwise.

The problem for Helmer is trying to balance being true to his stated principles with maintaining a tribal loyalty to his Tory colleagues.  He can’t have it both ways.  The fact is, Helmer has got it badly wrong.

You don’t have to take my word for it, why not take the word of Anthony Browne, who attended the meeting in the Thatcher Room in Portcullis House and wrote about it on ConservativeHome – content partner of The Guardian:

Under the chairmanship of George Eustice, there was a calm determination to take advantage of what everyone agreed was a “golden opportunity” presented by the euro crisis to renegotiate the UK’s relationship with the EU – with the aim of repatriating some powers. Contrary to media reports, the aim of the meeting was not to pressure the government into holding a referendum on pulling out of the EU – indeed, that was explicitly and repeatedly ruled out as a purpose of the new group. The government has very good reasons not to want to hold such a referendum – it would pull the coalition apart, it would stop the government doing any other policies, and the outcome would be very unpredictable.

Hmmm.  We continue to see the deliberate misrepresentation of the EU as only have a relationship with Britain, rather than governing it.  But crucially we have confirmation that this group of Europlastics is (unsurprisingly) holding the line against a referendum on being governed by the EU.  Two weeks ago Patrick O’Flynn of the Daily Express reported the comments of a Tory backbench MP who said of the group:

This is a cynical distraction to try to stall the momentum among grass-roots Conservatives for having a referendum on leaving the EU. They are offering a fake alternative to try to take the wind out of our sails.

When nothing substantial gets renegotiated they will then just blame Nick Clegg and promise to do better when there is a Tory majority. If that occurs then they will find another excuse for effectively doing nothing.

When you consider Browne’s account of what was discussed in the meeting that backbench source had got it bang on the money…  Open resistance to a referendum. Only partial repatriation of powers from Brussels. The use of the Lib Dems as cover for not trying to achieve what voters want.  And the usual rhetoric about making the EU work better.  If that is not evidence enough all we need to do is take a look at the voting records on key EU integrationist Bills of the two Europlastic co-founders of the group, George Eustice (who when he turns up to vote goes pro-EU) and Chris Heaton-Harris who never misses a chance to please the Whips and vote for as much EU as he can.

So what is the response of the supposedly withdrawalist Helmer?  Read it for yourself:

There is a campaign in Westminster right enough.  But it isn’t for a referendum and it isn’t to extract Britain from the EU. Once again we are led to ask, how Helmer can support two viewpoints that are mutually exclusive?  Is it a stunning failure of comprehension? Or is it a deliberate ploy to trick those opposed to EU membership into thinking that he is their flag bearer, when he is giving support and encouragement to those MPs who are actively undermining his stated position?

Roger Helmer is either a fool, or he is playing many well meaning people for fools.  As the Honorary Chairman of The Freedom Association, the pressure group which runs the Better Off Out campaign, it seems incredible that Helmer can endorse the Eustice / Heaton-Harris initiative.  Members of The Freedom Association should ask Roger Helmer to do one of two things:

  1. Publicly oppose the new faux ‘Eurosceptic movement’ which is actively heading off a referendum and wishes to keep Britain in the EU, or
  2. Resign from The Freedom Assocation for holding views contrary to those of the group

Let us see if Helmer has the moral fibre to do either.  As long as he continues to shill for those Europlastics who wish to deny us our say on how this country is governed and who want to keep us firmly in the EU, Helmer confirms himself as the ultimate Judas goat, leading the unwitting who have faith in him deeper into that which they think they are being led away from.

Why UKIP is not the answer to the EU problem

The estimable Dr Richard North, writing at EU Referendum, has published a very personal and thought provoking essay explaining why he believes UKIP, rather than being the solution for those who want Britain out of the EU, is actually part of the problem. It almost completely encapsulates my thinking and saves me explaining separately why I am not a UKIP member or voter.

Europlastics – Giving it to Telegraph readers straight

The best way to counter misrepresentation and falsehood is to present the facts.  Online readers of the Telegraph’s latest ludicrous ‘prop up the Tories’ editorial have been treated to some facts this morning by The Boiling Frog and yours truly.

It is all well and good using our blogs to tell people the reality – and with increasing visitor numbers our message is reaching more people. But when compared to the huge readership of the Telegraph site we cannot hope to challenge the propaganda anywhere near as much as we need to.  So we need to make use of the comments sections, when they are provided, and give it to readers straight. Presenting facts in a robust and responsible manner will ensure more people question what they are being told and perhaps look deeper to uncover the reality for themselves.

What are you waiting for dear reader? Away to the Telegraph site and firmly but politely give it to them straight.

Operation Deceive and Destroy

The Conservatives are following their messaging calendar to the letter.

Their communications plan has seen the Tory whips suggest to George EUstice and Chris Heaton-Harris that they form a group of Europlastic MPs to ‘promote debate‘ about this country’s ‘relationship’ with the EU.  It has seen David Cameron framing his answers to talk about this EU ‘relationship‘ as he appeared before the Liaison Committee.  And now it sees the rent seeking arch quisling-in-chief, William ‘Eurowillie’ Hague, dropping some carefully chosen words onto the willing ears of the Times about ‘loosening ties’ with the EU.

You don’t need to be an etymologist to see how the meaning of the noun Eurosceptic has been deliberately and cynically transformed to enable those who are nothing of the sort to adopt its mantle while undermining Eurosceptic aims.  The media has been complicit in this, routinely referring to pro-EU politicians who actively further the aims of the EU as Eurosceptic.  It suits the Tories and the media well.  It gives Eurosceptic voters the illusion the Tories share their desire for an independent UK, while giving  internationalists the opportunity to attack the supposedly xenophobic Tories on tribal party lines which delights the leftist media.

But back to today’s instalment from Eurowillie.  As always it is the case that when it comes to politicians we should ignore what they say and judge them by what they do.  Is William Hague a pro-EU or not?  The answer is, like Cameron, he sees himself as a ‘practical Eurosceptic’ which means he firmly and resolutely supports the UK remaining firmly in the grip of EU governance.

In fact he has gone further and actively endorsed the EU. Hague fronted a six week campaign to promote careers available in the European Union which ran in the Telegraph and on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website in January and February this year. Both microsites have been wiped from existence, but we still have Hague’s comments and a screen grab of the ad campaign for posterity: (click to expand image)

Presumably the area of Foreign Affairs is not one of the ‘ties’ that Hague is in favour of ‘loosening’.  How very Eurosceptic of him. Hague is just another Judas goat, aided and abetted by the useful idiots who are given a little latitude to ‘dissent’ in the hope of retaining Eurosceptic supporters.  As such we need to keep highlighting the evidence far and wide in the hope more people understand how they are being manipulated.

Liar Leigh digging himself into another hole

One of the downsides for liars, as The Guardian’s David Leigh is increasingly finding, is that their lies get found out and their contrived stories fall apart under scrutiny.

It is nice to see more people calling out Leigh.  In Counterpunch magazine in February this year Leigh was given the sort of treatment he likes to dole out to others in a piece about ‘The Guardian’s Sleazeball Hacks and Plagiarists’ focusing on the Guardian’s relationship with Julian Assange.

But of equal fun is the good hiding Leigh is currently getting at the hands of The Economist and its readers in the comments thread in an article about Wikileaks.  Leigh is being put through the wringer for including a password to a key Wikileaks file in an opportunist book – rushed out by the Guardian to capitalise financially from the fall out of the scandal leigh engineered – which allowed it to be opened revealing yet more information.

Leigh’s indignation at being the focus of criticism for publishing a Wikileaks password in a book, without any justification, is laid bare for all to see.  Seen through the prism of his own self regard, Leigh views himself as a crusading hero.  Being exposed for the deceitful, unreliable and untruthful hack he really is appears to have got the vicious little parasite a tad upset.  What a shame.

(With thanks to Katabasis for the spot)

Will Conservatives finally accept Cameron and Europlastics have deceived them over EU?

Well, Conservatives, your man has spoken.  Governor Cameron has decreed from on high thou shalt not have a referendum on membership of the European Union. So what are you going to do now?

Cameron, pictured meeting his overlord outside the provincial gubernatorial residence in London, described himself to the Liaison Committee in Parliament as a ‘practical Eurosceptic’ – confirming the extent to which the name has been corrupted, hijacked to become the diametric opposite of what it has always meant and been commonly accepted to mean.  He said:

“I want us to be influential in Europe about the things that matter to our national interest – promoting the single market, pushing forward for growth, making sure we get lower energy prices.

“Those are things we will be fighting for but I don’t see the case for an in out referendum on Europe.

“We are in Europe, we have got to make it work for us.”

So because he doesn’t see the case the British public will be denied their democratic entitlement to determine how this country is run.  And in case he had not made clear his very personal position would be projected upon the nation he also said:

“I don’t support an In/Out referendum because I don’t think that’s the question people want asked about the EU.”

If Cameron was honest he would tell the British people: ‘What you want is irrelevant. Every decision I make has democratic legitimacy because I say so. I am in Downing Street and you can do nothing about it. I want this country to be part of the EU so that’s the way it’s going to be.  If you don’t like it, tough.’

So that covers ‘our most instinctively Eurosceptic Prime Minister for 20 years‘.  What about the Europlastics? You know, those Tories who wrapped themselves in the cloak of Euroscepticism to enhance their electoral prospects, but who are nothing of the sort.

The charade continues, as Richard North on EU Referendum points out.  How?  Step forward George Eustice, Europlastic Tory MP for Camborne and Redruth. George describes himself to all and sundry as a Eurosceptic, but he doesn’t want us to leave the EU. He doesn’t even support the idea of a referendum.  He is a co-founder of a group of around 80 Conservative MPs who also claim to be Eurosceptic, but who only want EU reform while Britain continues to be ruled by bureaucrats in Brussels and Strasbourg. Eustice is quoted by the BBC as saying his group would promote a:

“sensible discussion about how we can radically overhaul the EU and make it fit for purpose in the 21st Century”.


“It is important we start to come up with thinking about what the EU will become and how we want to start to change it.”

All those calls for a referendum and opinion polls saying a majority of Britons want this country to leave the EU fall on deaf ears where Eustice and his sidekick and former EU gracy train rider Chris Heaton-Harris are concerned.  They want Britain to stay firmly inside the EU and their group is designed to ensure that happens regardless of what the majority of this country’s citizens want.  Repatriation of powers has been abandoned and the EU project cannot and will not reverse integration. The group’s aims are on a par with other myths, such as the tooth fairy, Loch Ness monster and the Easter Bunny.

Despite this we see Roger Helmer, a self professed Eurosceptic MEP who says he wants an In/Out referendum – and who is Honorary Chairman of The Freedom Association, the pressure group that runs the Better Off Out campaign – publicly supporting this group of pro-EU reformers.

How can we trust anything we are told by Roger Helmer, the most prominent member of the ‘Better Off Out’ campaign, when he pledges to do anything he can to support a group of MPs that is committed to i) denying the British public a referendum and ii) keeping Britain firmly inside the EU?  Maybe now the penny will drop among those who feel this blog has been unfair to Helmer for exposing his stunningly contradictory position.

Of course Helmer could confound this criticism by denouncing Cameron’s stance, urging Conservatives to take on Cameron, and rejecting the Eustice / Heaton-Harris Europlastic grouping which is actively seeking to undermine that which he claims to stand for.  So what has the great man decided to talk about on his website the day after Cameron and Eustice’s comments?  Fuel poverty.  And even then he only mentions one of the EU’s directives and laws imposed on this country that are increasing energy prices and plunging poorer families into fuel poverty.  Perhaps it is all part of his strategy.

The reality of the Europhile Conservative position, of supporting ever closer union and denying the population an opportunity to reject EU membership, has been laid bare in words and deeds. It is unambiguous.  It is unmistakable. The myth cannot be sustained any longer. So for how much longer will Conservatives who want Britain to leave the EU stay in that Europhile party, kidding themselves Cameron is a Eurosceptic?  The fantasy is over.

Update: The excellent Witterings From Witney weighs in with a clinical evisceration of another Europlastic, William Hague.

Roger Helmer reveals his strategy for withdrawal from EU

Readers may recall the recent exchange of views and comments on this blog between AM, readers and arch Tory ‘Eurosceptic’ Roger Helmer.  In his reply to reader comments Helmer told commenter ‘Jones’:

‘Many of the commentators have a point.  But I’m not sure that they have a strategy.’

The exchange has started to raise questions about the nature of Euroscepticism among Conservative politicians, belonging as they do to a party that claims to be against further integration yet whose MPs and MEPs consistently vote in favour of measures that enable it.

So it was that a few days ago, back on Helmer’s own website, his comment about a strategy was raised by commenter ‘Dead Dog Bounce’, who asked Helmer about his strategy for withdrawing Britain from the EU.  The comment and Helmer’s response are shown below:

So there we have it.  Roger Helmer’s strategy for enabling Britain to exit the EU is…  a tribal faith that a government led by his Tory friends might be more likely to see sense on Europe than any other party.

At this point it is appropriate to give way to Dr Richard North of EU Referendum who reminds us of the Tory standpoint on this country’s involvement in Europe:

The Tories have a vision of a political Europe which has not changed in over seventy years when it was articulated to the War Cabinet on 20 July 1940 by Duff Cooper, the then information minister.

The bones of this was a “united Europe”, a Europe “united by goodwill and in friendship, not by force and in terrors, a Europe based upon some federal system … a Europe in which armaments will be pooled and trade barriers will be broken down, and in which each nation will be allowed to conduct its own affairs in its own way with the same kind of freedom as each state in the American Union possesses”.

And of course, sitting above the States in the American Union is a powerful federal government with a President at its head.  No matter.  Let’s focus on facts.  The Conservative Party was in government and signed the Single European Act in 1987.  The Conservatives were in government and signed the Treaty on European Union in Maastricht in 1992.  These were the treaties that made it possible for Labour to subsequently sign the treaties of Amsterdam, Nice and Lisbon.

Having opposed the Lisbon Treaty the Conservatives soared in the opinion polls.  After David Cameron and William Hague had long said if the treaty was signed by Labour they ‘would not let matters rest there’ they reversed their position and their poll lead dropped, resulting in the dismal coagulation between the conservatives in name only and the Lib Dems.  Matters have not only been allowed to rest there, the Conservatives have accelerated the rate at which powers are being transferred to Brussels – a point made by Helmer himself.

Despite the absence of any strategy to achieve Britain’s withdrawal from the EU, Helmer nonetheless continues to state his position is that this country would be better off out of the EU.  His comments on that are indisputable.  However his support of faux Eurosceptics – the Europlastics – clearly contradicts his stated position.  It defies reason that Helmer can hold the view he professes while endorsing the position of people who by their voting record demonstrate continued support for the EU project and who only wish to see reform, not withdrawal.  It’s enough to make one wonder if Helmer’s lack of strategy is itself part of an altogether different strategy.

Against the backdrop of this reality the great man clings like a limpet to the trappings of Toryism, licensed to articulate some dissent now and again as long as he doesn’t go too far and stirs up anything like genuine opposition to Tory Europhilia.  This needs to be made clear to all genuine Eurosceptics who labour under the misapprehension that most Tories who claim to be Eurosceptic really are.  The evidence shows the overwhelming majority of Conservative ‘Eurosceptics’ are nothing of the sort.

A new twist in the Wolfgang Wagner resignation saga

Following on from the previous post about the Spencer and Braswell paper… In an ideal world journalists like Richard Black at the BBC and Leo Hickman at the Guardian would try to find out if there was something more to the resignation of Wolfgang Wagner, which they reported in their traditionally biased fashion.

But given the BBC and Guardian acolytes, among others in the media, have an agenda  favourable to those who assert the world is warming and humans are to blame, what else can we expect? From to chairing conferences to delivering speeches and filing copy derived unquestioningly from press releases that enjoin people to accept at face value what they say, the BBC and Guardian.

Anything that raises questions about the actions of their friends in the alarmist ‘consensus’ is ignored or quietly shoved out of sight under the nearest convenient floor covering. Anything that goes beyond regurgitating the

This is why the blogosphere, so often derided by the oh-so-grand churnalists, is so important today.  This latest example of defacto censorship by the Guardian and outrageous bias exhibited by the UK’s taxpayer funded public service broadcaster, the BBC, can again be partially countered by bloggers who put the journos to shame and act in the public interest by searching for information and sharing the salient facts and background the media has deliberately omitted or tried to leave buried.

The lastest example of this can be found at the end of this post on Watts Up With That? which reveals information about a previously unmentioned relationship between Wolfgang Wagner and arch-alarmist who has been most affronted by the Spencer and Braswell paper – to the extent that Wagner issued an apology to him for publishing the paper – Kevin Trenberth.

What has been uncovered has the capacity to shed a somewhat different light on the motivation for Wagner’s resignation as editor in chief of Remote Sensing.  Yet the collective eyes, ears and mouths of the BBC and Guardian alarmists such as Richard Black and Leo Hickman will no doubt remain utterly immobile as they decide the information to be irrelevant and inconvenient to their agenda.

Dr Roy Spencer, adding to his previous thoughts on this incredible story and the reaction to the paper he co-authored, makes this comment (hat tip: Bishop Hill):

We simply cannot compete with a good-ole-boy, group think, circle-the-wagons peer review process which has been rewarded with billions of research dollars to support certain policy outcomes.

And as our focus on the media’s behaviour shows, it is an even more difficult proposition when those supposedly noble men and women of the news media – tasked with uncovering and reporting all the facts – are complicit in that group think and relay a distorted story to the general public.

How reaction to Spencer & Braswell underlines the corruption and politicisation of science

I want to tell you a story.  Are you sitting comfortably?  Then I’ll begin…

Once upon a time there was a big, shiny, expensive computer system upon which programmes were run.  The programmes were written by very clever scientists to create projections of what things might be like in the future.  They called these projections ‘models’.

Some places had got very dry over the years so the very clever people wrote a programme to see what the models said was going to happen.  After the very clever scientists entered all the information and parameters they thought were important, they ran the models.  When the models came back they suggested that unlike in the past, the rain would no longer make anything outside wet.

Now, because the models were developed by a small group of some clever very scientists in very big universities who had been given a lot of public money to carry out research, they were accepted as actual fact by politicians who said there was a big problem that only they could solve.  Being part of the establishment, the media wrote lots of stories about this endorsing what the politicians said and telling people things would have to change.

Because of what the computer models had suggested, the government decided that everyone must install complex and expensive systems to use water from a brand new source to irrigate grass, trees, flowers, crops and bushes because lots of places were drier and the rain won’t make anything wet in future.  So with other governments around the world they made lots of new laws and created big plans and spent billions and billions of pounds, dollars, euros, roubles and yen to convince people of the need for this expensive change to watering things.

They also gave lots of peoples’ money to a lot of new campaign groups and businesses to go into schools and companies to tell them to had to change the way everything is watered.  It also gives lots more money to other scientists to start from what the small group of very clever scientists has already decided and find more reasons to agree with them and arrive at the same conclusion.

But all this seemed strange to a lot of people who thought there was still lots of rain and it was still making everything outside wet.  A lot of people were not convinced and they were called sceptics and they started to point out problems with the claims from the very clever scientists.  The governments were very angry because they were making lots of deals to spend money on big corporations they were friends with to develop solutions that everyone would have to use, making owners and shareholders very rich while ordinary people were left with less money. The media wrote lots of nasty things about the sceptical people and because the media was so clever and always right about everything they called those people ‘deniers’.

Not all very clever scientists agreed with each other.  Some of them became sceptical and started to examines in detail the real world observation of what happens when it rains.  Amazingly, when they looked outside and examined lots of data records, they found that not everything was drying up after all and the rain was still making things outside very wet and therefore the basis for everyone installing the government mandated water systems was flawed.

The sceptical scientists wrote a paper about this, and it was examined and tested by other very clever scientists in their discipline in a process called peer-review, before being accepted and published by a journal called ‘Remote Sensing’.  Those people who were not convinced by the need for watering change pointed at the paper as evidence that not everything was as the government and their very clever scientists made it seem.  They argued that the small group of clever scientists supported by the government might be getting things wrong and government should wait for more evidence before taking such sweeping, expensive and draconian action.

The media largely said nothing about the paper because after spending so long saying rain wasn’t making things outside wet anymore they don’t want to be proved wrong.  And besides, some of their pension plans depended on money made from investments in the new watering processes being made by the government’s corporate friends.

A little while later, the editor of the paper-publishing journal ‘Remote Sensing’ said he didn’t agree with the paper because of all those very clever scientists who believed rain wasn’t make things wet anymore because their computer models had been saying so for a long time now. So the editor resigned in protest and the media attempted to discredit the sceptical scientists, citing that one of them once had to alter a previous paper many years previously, and that he is in some way odd because he is a committed Christian.

The media agreed with another very clever scientist who said that the paper must by defintion be flawed until it satisfied all of the observations, agrees with physical theory, and fit the computer models.  He said this even though computer models are only as good as the data put into them by humans who are nowhere close to understanding all the complex relationships that causes nature to do what it does.  Although common sense and science in years gone by would have it that real world observation is the only reliable measure of any changes in nature and has the capacity to invalidate computer models, this very clever scientist and his friends had turned science on its head by claiming computer models have the capacity to invalidate observed reality.

It would have all been very confusing if one of the very clever scientists had not been caught out saying that even if they had to redefine what scientific peer-review is, they would somehow close down any views from sceptical scientists, even though doing so would utterly corrupt science and the correct way of furthering it.  But after putting complete faith in computer models and using them as the basis for lots of incredible projections that have never become reality, he had to put his own interests before his duty to science.

And for the ordinary people, nothing changed.  The governments continued to press ahead with their financially ruinous plans.  The media continued to exaggerate every story that fitted their narrative while refusing to cover any story that contradicted them.  The computer models continued to churn out projections that did not reflect observed reality.


The real story is carried in the words of the sceptical scientist, Dr Roy Spencer on the excellent Watts Up With That? blog.  The media hatchet job is most prevalent in the Guardian and on its broadcast arm, the BBC.  Dr Spencer goes on to explain the findings in layman’s terms on his own website.   In response to the resignation of Wolfgang Wagner, Dr Roger Pielke Snr puts the politicisation of science into context.  And the ludicrous position on observations having to fit in with computer models as advanced by Dr Pete Gleick, and Dr Phil Jones’ comment about keeping sceptical papers out of the public domain, are both covered by Indur Goklany on WUWT.

What we are seeing is anti-science.  We are experiencing pseudo science that aims not to question or challenge, but to reinforce the validity of a body of opinion that is yet to make the jump from theory to fact.  It is being done to fit a political agenda.  It is a corruption of science and the latest example of why people should be sceptical of the claims made about climate change and its causes and effects

In closing, one comment left on Watts Up With That? sums up the situation superbly and deserves to be repeated widely to help others understand what really is going on:

This is all part of the same pattern that has characterized the warmists’ approach to climate “science” since the last century. They come up with models and use these to produce predictions which are then baptized as sovereign truth. In real science, they would have been required to demonstrate the predictive validity of their models before their predictions would be granted any confidence – and when observations contradicted predictions, they would have been expected to revise their models instead of beating the data until it fit the model outputs. Instead, thanks to Algore, Hansen, left-wing politicians looking for regulatory and legislative mechanisms to control the polity and extract more tax dollars, and a compliant left-leaning media hungry for “imminent disaster” headlines, the burden of proof has been shifted to those who challenge the modellers instead of being left where it belongs: with the modellers who still have not demonstrated the validity of their models. I simply cannot believe we are still discussing a theory that, 20 years after it went mainstream, has yet to produce a single scrap of confirmatory empirical evidence.

The extent to which the AGW true believers have warped the scientific method to serve their pecuniary and political ends is simply breathtaking. Climate science represents the greatest perversion of the scientific method since the Enlightenment. It is phlogiston, phrenology and Lysenkoism all rolled up into one big, fat, corrupt boil desperately in need of lancing.

The map CNN wants to see?

A bit of fun over at The Waspsnet as Wasp shares an image that has been doing the rounds on Twitter, poking fun at the standing joke that is American ability (or lack thereof) in geography.

But a more careful look at the image begs a serious question.  Can anyone else spot what’s missing from the map?  It’s enough to make one wonder where CNN sources its digital maps.  The Guardian, or Hamas perhaps?

Why we must check everything the media reports

A short tale from Bishop Hil about a 2008 Daily Telegraph article by Rosa Prince, in which she reported:

The UK is to be hit by regular malaria outbreaks, fatal heatwaves and contaminated drinking water within five years because of global warming, the Government has warned the NHS.

Following a major consultation with climate change scientists, the Government is issuing official advice to hospitals, care homes and institutions for dealing with rising temperatures, increased flooding, gales and other major weather events.

The reality, as Bishop Hill reveals, is rather different.  The message is clear, do not take what you hear in the news media at face value until you have personally uncovered and checked the facts.

Corruption of democracy in Britain

The issue of Whitehall’s establishment of State parties is the battleground over which we must fight to regain democracy in Britain. If the Mandarins win this one, we’re irrevocably lost.

This is the conclusion in the latest excellent piece of must-read blogging by Raedwald.

Want the UK to leave the EU? It’s time to tackle the faux Eurosceptics

The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum – even encourage the more critical and dissident views. That gives people the sense that there’s free thinking going on, while all the time the presuppositions of the system are being reinforced by the limits put on the range of the debate.

Not many readers would have thought the musings of Noam Chomsky would have found a place on this blog, but this blueprint for limiting and tightly controlling people perfectly describes what is taking place inside the Conservative Party today.

The subject on which MPs are being pacified and herded into a controllable pen in the manner Chomsky describes is the European Union.

The Conservative Party is limiting the spectrum of acceptable opinion among its MPs by encouraging some of the new intake to form a group to promote ‘moderate Euroscepticism’.  Irrespective of the construction of the word ‘Eurosceptic’ it has commonly been accepted as a description of those who wish to see the UK withdraw from the European Union.  But as we have seen in history, from time to time words are hijacked by people with an agenda who change the meanings and understandings associated with them.  The term Eurosceptic is currently being hijacked in this way by people who wish the UK to remain firmly inside the EU while giving voters the impression they support the majority’s wish to leave.

The members of this group, led by George Eustice (a former press secretary to David Cameron who laughably describes Cameron as a ‘genuinely Eurosceptic Prime Minister’) believe the EU can be reformed and the UK  must remain within it, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary and the entity being fundamentally anti democratic.  Therefore, although the members of this group describe themselves as ‘moderate Eurosceptics’, they are not Eurosceptics of any type.

They are better described as Europlastics, cheap and nasty imitations of the genuine product.

As one might expect the group has started to attract some attention with some journalists attempting to define it.  Patrick O’Flynn of the Daily Express recently wrote:

So, what to make of a new group of Conservative MPs who do not wish to leave the jungle altogether but simply to gravitate further out towards its edge? The group of 70 or so younger Tory MPs is proposing that Britain renegotiates the terms of its EU membership with a view to repatriating substantial powers from Brussels.

These MPs, such as Chris Heaton-Harris and George Eustice, have solid Eurosceptic credentials. Their new group has been heralded as a radical innovation.

O’Flynn has unwittingly assisted in the effort to redefine the word Eurosceptic with his assertion, underlining the subtle corruption of the real meaning in order to undermine the term and make it meaningless to all intents and purposes.  However, O’Flynn adds some valuable background insight into this group that may help open the eyes of those who have been blinkered by the idea these people are anything other than Europhile:

But one very senior source from the Better Off Out part of the political spectrum puts his scepticism in striking terms: “This is just a Tory Whips Office stunt. It is full of people who want to be Cabinet ministers. They haven’t said what powers they want repatriated, when or how it is to be achieved.

“This is a cynical distraction to try to stall the momentum among grass-roots Conservatives for having a referendum on leaving the EU. They are offering a fake alternative to try to take the wind out of our sails.

“When nothing substantial gets renegotiated they will then just blame Nick Clegg and promise to do better when there is a Tory majority. If that occurs then they will find another excuse for effectively doing nothing.

“They are attempting to kick Britain’s subjugation by the EU into the long grass alongside human rights reform, immigration control and an inheritance tax cut.”

The story has more than a ring of truth about it.  George Eustice’s wing man in this little project is none other than Chris Heaton-Harris, a man who has developed a cosy relationship with the very Tory whips behind this Licensed Dissenters club.

It was Heaton-Harris who, at the behest of the whips, torpedoed a motion concerning the European Financial Stability Mechanism to bail out eurozone countries.  The motion would have required the Government to place the EFSM on the agenda of the next meeting of the Council of Ministers or the European Council and effectively mandated British ministers to vote against continued use of the EFSM unless a Eurozone-only arrangement relieving the UK of liability had been agreed.  In so doing, Heaton-Harris put the interests of the EU ahead of UK taxpayers.

Unsurprisingly, it was also Heaton-Harris who led a group of 14 Tory MPs who sent a letter to the Financial Times arguing that the financial crisis sweeping Europe was an opportunity for the UK to shape Europe’s post-crisis order.  Without any sense of irony, having scuppered the motion to ensure the UK would not be subject to any financial liability for European bailouts, Heaton-Harris argued that the solutions to the crisis proposed by eurozone countries amount to no more than “throwing good money after bad” and will further expose the British taxpayer to any future economic meltdown!

If you are one of the majority of people who want the UK to leave the EU, it is time to ‘call out’ people like Chris Heaton-Harris and George Eustice, and those who support their efforts to stall momentum for an In/Out referendum, such as Roger Helmer.  Genuine Eurosceptics are being led up the garden path by these tricksters who professes to be Eurosceptic but in reality are Judas goats in Cameron’s petting zoo.

Some Eurosceptics have been stunned to see Helmer and friends being challenged in the last week by Autonomous Mind and other blogs such as EU Referendum, Witterings From Witney and Ironies Too as he has stated he wants an In/Out referendum.  Our exposure of the doyen of the Conservative Eurosceptic movement – an oxymoron if there ever was one – looking both ways on the EU has caused rumblings and is forcing people to look beneath the words at the all important actions.  That is as it should be, after all, how can Helmer’s position be squared with his endorsement of Heaton-Harris and Eustice, who are working hard to keep Britain in the EU and whose efforts to create a ‘moderate Eurosceptic’ grouping are seen as undermining the prospects of a referendum being held?

Helmer cannot continue to have it both ways and he needs to pick a side.  His ‘having it both ways’ position cuts the legs from underneath those who want a referendum.  By staying firmly inside a Conservative Party that is determined to remain firmly inside the EU, and giving support to those who want to keep Britain in the EU Helmer gives false hope to Tory members and supporters who would leave the charlatans behind if they realised there was never any prospect of their wishes being realised.

It is time to stop people being taken in by the Eurosceptics-in-name-only and time to show them up for what they are.

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