Archive for August, 2013

Are these the UK’s real motivations for wanting to help the US attack Syria?

If anything effectively underlines the self serving interests at play and the paucity of thinking about the effects and consequences of military action in Syria, it is summed up by the Defence Secretary, Philip Hammond.  These are some of his thoughts about not being alongside the Americans in combat for the first time in 30 years:

I’m disappointed and if I’m honest I’m slightly apprehensive because we have a very close working relationship with the Americans.

It is a difficult time for our Armed Forces – having prepared to go into this action  – to then be stood down and have to watch while the U.S acts alone or perhaps the US acts with France.

What exactly was the real reason for wanting to participate in an attack?  Listening to Hammond you would be forgiven for thinking it was a combination of wanting to suck up to the Americans by following them into a poorly defined and questionable military assault, ensuring our armed forces didn’t feel left out as the missiles flew, and wanting to retain our position as Washington’s wingman instead of giving our back seat to France.  So much for our sole focus being on the Syrian people.

These are extraordinary and disturbing comments by Hammond.

Seeing the Defence Secretary speak in such terms and not even mention the Syrian people, and our government’s supposed humanitarian concern for them, completely vindicates the rejection of the motion to permit in principle our forces to participate in any attack.  It reinforces our observation that no thought had been given to the effects of such an attack and the almost certainly negative and damaging outcomes.  Instead there was just a spiteful and childlike appetite for not wanting to miss a scrap.  Pathetic.

What the Syria vote tells us about the state of democracy in the UK

Since last night’s vote rejecting UK involvement in any military action against Syria, MPs from all parties have been rushing to the nearest microphones and telephones to offer their tuppence worth to local and national media.

In an attempt to appear relevant and maintain the impression of democratic legitimacy, we have heard MPs reported as saying this was a good day for democracy and that Parliament followed the wishes of the people.

The fact is these assertions are nonsense.

While the media is happy to report such comments uncritically, the reality is Parliament was not bound by the wishes of the people at all.  Instances of genuine common sense among some MPs, and some MPs acting on the basis of representations from their constituents, was combined with the far greater impact generated by manoeuvring for party political advantage to see the motion defeated by the extremely slender margin of 13 votes.

When one considers opinion polls showed public support for action at various levels between 11% and 21%, yet almost half of MPs who voted in favour of the motion, we can see that public influence was quite minor.  Add to this the flip flopping of Ed Miliband.  He was originally and conditionally in favour of the motion, but flipped later.  Had he flipped back, many Labour MPs would have followed his lead and the motion would have been carried.  Right now, work up drills at RAF Akrotiri and somewhere below the waves of the Mediterranean would be underway in preparation for an attack on Syria.

The wishes of the public were not paramount among our elected servants.  This underscores a vital flaw in our democratic process – namely the lack of ability of voters to control the actions and voting of their MPs.  If MPs were genuinely bound by the wishes of their constituents, barely any of them would have been able to vote in favour of the motion.

David Cameron, William Hague and Nick Clegg wanted to attack Syria using as justification evidence that falls well short of the need in criminal cases to prove a case beyond all reasonable doubt.  Instead they contented themselves that on the balance of probability Assad was guilty of launching a chemical attack, and so the British armed forces would kill and injure Syrian soliders and civilians in order to make a point.  There was no reference back to the public, no mandate sought for our permission.

We do not have a democratic system in this country.  We have no control over MPs once they have been elected to Parliament.  The whims and emotions of those who wanted to have a political career and made it into Parliament still determine the actions carried out in our name.  Even despite last night’s vote, Cameron could still use Royal Prerogative to force armed intervention if he was so minded.

Only a wholesale restructure of our methods and manner of governance, of the type advanced by the Harrogate Agenda, would result in a genuinely democratic state of affairs.  As such people should not be taken in by the gushing self praise of MPs and the superlatives about how wonderful our ‘democracy’ is.  Last night was a fluke.  Next time MPs will continue to vote as they see fit, regardless of what we want.

Syria: The intervention issue summed up simply

An email exchange I have had this morning with Richard has generated the neatest summary of issues surrounding the proposed Syria intervention.  In a nutshell…
The government (Cameron, Hague and Clegg in particular) feel that, because the reported chemical attack in Damascus was so horrible (it was) something should be done about it (desirable, but there are many options).  But they then divorced action from outcome and fixed upon a single option – military action.  But military action should only be deployed to achieve a known or predictable effect – and the effect was, by common acceptance on both sides of the argument, unknown.
What we saw yesterday and what was narrowly defeated in Parliament, was the government simply wanting to express moral outrage… by shooting off missiles in a howl of rage, triggered by something by which they were hugely offended, with no idea of the likely effects, and most importantly, with no certainty of it having a humanitarian effect.
This is the politics of the playground, not the actions of cogent and rational adults in positions of responsibility.  Opposing the intervention on that basis was the right course of action.  However there still needs to be a focus on humanitarian relief for those who are being caught up and affected by the fighting.

Cameron is in crisis

Speculating in the late afternoon on the possibility of the government being defeated in last night’s Commons vote, which was designed to establish ‘the principle’ of using military action against Syria, John Pienaar argued such a defeat would represent a terminal loss of authority for David Cameron.

Well, it happened.  Cameron’s motion to prepare the way for military action was defeated 285 votes to 272. As the Daily Mail excitedly points out, the last time a Prime Minister was defeated over an issue of war and peace was in 1782 and the vote plunges him into a ‘deep political crisis’.  The Telegraph tries to play down the gravity of what the events in the Commons mean for Cameron’s authority, while saying the vote was unprecedented they only went so far as to say the Parliamentary vote ‘may also undermine Mr Cameron’s international reputation’.

What is disturbing is that the Government benches managed to secure as many as 272 votes for the principle of military intervention at all, particularly when all that was presented in evidence was an emotion-fuelled ‘judgement call’ based on a flakey summary from the Joint Intelligence Committee, which lacked any hard proof and relied as much on a lack of evidence that the rebels were to blame as it did on evidence that the regime was responsible.  It was in no way a sound basis for launching military action.  The dearth of hard information from the intelligence community and lack of certainty about who was culpable and what the consequences would be of intervention meant it was utter folly to bring the matter before the Commons and press for an agreement in principle to loose off a variety of missiles.

What would be unprecendented would be Cameron being able to rebuild his authority.  It, along with his credibility, has been shattered in stunning fashion.  The floodgates are now open, and for all his bluster this vote has solidified internal Conservative Party opposition ranged against him on a variety of issues.

Cameron, who achieved his sole aim of becoming Prime Minister, despite failing to navigate his party to an election win against one of the most unpopular and disliked governments of the modern era, has also now failed to navigate his own little military adventure for his vain legacy.  He has shown he cannot seal the deal.  He is now just a figurehead that has detached from the ship, to bob around on the political ocean, swept along by various tides and swamped by the big waves of the day, not in control of events and not at the front of anything.

This really marks the start of the end for his political career.  The Conservatives may defy the odds to bounce back, but Cameron is now too damaged and the ruthless power brokers in the background will now be looking at who could succeed him.  The Tory party dynamics have just changed dramatically.

Exclusive: ‘We must do something’

That, according to my extremely well placed and utterly reliable source close to the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, is the sum total of Clegg’s understanding and insight into the issues surrounding the possible launch of military action against Syria.

The document issued by the Joint Intelligence Committee, upon which the government has made its decision to attack Syria, clearly accepts that there is no ‘smoking gun’ that proves al-Assad and his forces were responsible for the presumed use of chemical munitions.  We are witnessing a frightening absence of strategic thinking, and an almost childlike simplicity that passes for examination of the issues and the consequences of participating in strikes against Syrian military targets.  The obsessive focus of this country’s political leaders – the lightbulb around which the Ministerial moths are circling and against which they are butting their heads – is the word ‘chemical’.   Nothing else, including evidence or origin of the reported attack, seems to matter.

It is on the basis of supposition, suspicion, and a desire to somehow aid the rebels (beyond the provision of ‘non lethal’ equipment and support) that David Cameron and William Hague wish to engage in hostilities and rain missiles down on Syrian territory.  There is no proof.  It is nothing more than an article of faith and wishful thinking that the government asserts only al-Assad could be responsible for the use of chemical weapons, despite the certainty that the ‘rebels’ also have them.

It is profoundly disturbing, from the available evidence and debate in the Commons, that this country’s supposed leaders are incapable of exhibiting even the level of critical thinking and reasoning skills that would be expected of a Sixth Form debating society, particularly when the subject has such grave implications for the safety and security of this country’s armed forces and general population.

The UK, war and the British people

This is not a reference to the impending armed adventure in the Middle East.  This is not the UK being at war with Syria, but the UK government being at war with its people.

If there was ever a compact between the government and the people, it has long since rotted away.  The latest example of this is the news that the government and police are rushing to investigate an alleged fraud by the services provider, Serco, concerning irregularities in records kept for its £285m prisoner escorting contract.

The investigation focusses on the allegation that Serco overcharged the government a sum in the ‘low tens of millions’ of pounds.  As well as the probability of criminal prosecutions, the company faces being barred from tendering for other government contracts.  The punishment, if Serco are found to have engaged in fraud, will be swift and sure.  As well as column acres of media coverage, we can be certain the matter will surface in the House of Commons as MPs rush to criticise and condemn both outsourcing per se and the company’s actions and greivous offence against the ‘public’.

Here we see the government pressing the full force of the state into action to punish any offences committed against it.

Now let us compare this laser-like focus of the state on punishing fraud amounting to perhaps £20-30m with the state’s focus on a much larger and more widespread criminal enterprise made up of fraud, harrassment and threatening behaviour, amounting to many hundreds of millions of pounds – possibly over £1bn – committed in the last year alone against many of the more than 1.8 million members of the public who had unpaid charges put into the hands of bailiffs… the wilful overcharging and illegal application of fees by local authorities through liability orders and the illegal charges, false accounting and criminal behaviour of bailiffs.

This week another example of the many instances of this racketeering has managed to sneak its way into local news coverage in Wales, where a Caerphilly resident owed unpaid council tax just £180, yet despite receiving no warning letters was faced with bailiffs, acting as an agent of and on behalf of Caerphilly County Borough Council, at her door demanding payment.  Not only that, but the bailiff fraudulently added a further £200 charge to the debt for their services.  The amount set down in law that bailiffs can charge is £24.50 for their first visit and £18.00 for a second and final visit.  They can only charge for two visits.  Attempting to charge hundreds of pounds in the way they do is blatantly illegal.

The bailiff is reported to have returned to visit the resident last week and told her that if she did not pay £75 he would come back and change the locks on her house.  This is not only a clear example of harrassment, it is also an attempt to extract money with menaces as bailiffs do not have the power to change the locks on a residential property over an unpaid debt, and asserting such a course of action is a clear offence.  A fraud is being perpetrated against this resident, a mother of four with limited means. She is just one in over a million.

As is standard practice in such cases, which all too infrequently get press attention in this way, a Caerphilly Council spokesman said:

We are unable to comment on individual cases, but the council makes every effort to assist residents who are in arrears before taking further action.

You will note that despite Caerphilly being wholly responsible for the behaviour and actions of their agents and representatives, the council has not addressed the illegality of the bailiff’s effort to charge fees above the legal amount or taken any steps to address the harrassment and intimidation by the bailiffs they engaged.

The police’s readiness to investigate and take action against Serco, which is alleged to have committed crime through fraudulent overcharging for services and charging for services not undertaken, contrasts dramatically with the refusal of the police to investigate and take action against bailiffs who are alleged to have committed crime through fraudulent overcharging for services and charging for services not undertaken.

The double standard is clear.  The people of this country are being denied the protection of the law when the state and its agents break the law to suit their own interests, yet when the state feels it has been wronged its full arsenal is brought to bear on the alleged offender, be that a rich company being greedy or hundreds upon hundreds of thousands of ordinary people who struggle to pay the ever increasing sums demanded by government to service its activities.

And new methods of gouging money from the public are being developed all the time.  A report in the Telegraph explains how over 1 million drivers in the last year have had traffic enforcement charges (mainly parking infringments) put into the hands of bailiffs, with the AA observing that even when mistakes are made, councils seem to readily wash their hands of drivers trapped in a cycle of threats from debt collectors and bailiffs:

The bailiff process is virtually unstoppable, even for the innocent and getting someone to listen is virtually impossible.

The fact that bailiffs are now swanning around like bounty hunters in vehicles with ANPR cameras to find vehicles with outstanding warrants is sinister.

The story also includes a reference to evidence given earlier this year by the London Motorists’ Action Group to the Transport Select Committee that bailiffs “frequently and fraudulently demand fees which are far in excess of the permitted statutory level.”

Barrie Segal, who runs the AppealNow website also said for the Telegraph piece that, “It’s a bit like the wild west, but there are no good guys out there to look after motorist”.  And this is the point, the double standard reinforced, the police – the supposed good guys – are refusing to do their sworn duty turning a blind eye to fraud committed on behalf of the state, while always going after anyone who is alleged to have committed fraud against the state.

How is this not a war being waged on the people of this country by those who are supposed to serve us?

MPs hint that representatives with small electoral mandates lack legitimacy

MPs appear to have questioned the democratic legitimacy of elected representatives who have a small electoral mandate.

The Parliamentary Home Affairs Select Committee has released a report following its scrutiny of the actions of Ian Johnston, Gwent’s Police and Crime Commissioner.  Johnston was accused of bullying former Chief Constable, Carmel Napier, into retiring in June.  The committee swung into action to give the illusion of control and hauled Johnston and Napier into Westminster to investigate the process of removing a chief constable and if Johnston had exceeded his authority.

Clearly there was no love lost in the battle of egos and after the session, Johnston had some things to say about his interrogators.  This did not go unnoticed by the parliamentarians and they made that blindingly obvious in paragraph 9 of their subsequent report which reads:

We were disappointed that, shortly after we took evidence from Mr Johnston, he took to Twitter to criticise a member of the Committee for asking questions that he believed had been prompted by Gwent MPs, describing the proceedings as “sad really”. Mr Johnson even described Mr Ruane as a “plant of Gwent MPs”. This disdainful attitude towards scrutiny by Parliament, as well as an indication of a clear over-sensitivity to criticism, from a politician elected by less that 8% of the electorate, who had managed to side-step the statutory arrangements for local scrutiny of his decision to sack the Chief Constable, is further evidence, if any were needed, that the checks and balances on police and crime commissioners are too weak.

It was in their arrogant fit of pique and effort to be dismissive of Johnston that the MPs opened a Pandora’s Box they might one day regret delving into.  Until now only bloggers and a couple of journalists have raised the legitimacy question of MPs – and governments – being elected by a minority of voters.  But now, MPs who have relied upon the accepted practice that the person in an election with the highest number of votes is the winner and has democratic legitimacy, have raised questions about power being held by people with small electoral mandates.

The committee’s report suggests that the principle underpinning our complaint is accepted, so now it’s just a question of figures.

So what size of mandate confers legitimate entitlement to represent a constituency?  Clearly 8% is not sufficiently impressive for the members of the Home Affairs select committee.  No doubt they consider their own mandates as conferring sufficient legitmacy to warrant their place on the ego trip aboard the rather luxurious gravy train.  So let’s see what the figures are…

Home Affairs Select Committee
(approx % of eligible voters in their constituencies who voted for them in 2010)

Keith Vaz 35.5%
Nicola Blackwood 27.6%
James Clappison 36.2%
Michael Ellis 21.3%
Lorraine Fullbrook 30.8%
Dr Julian Huppert 25.4%
Steve McCabe 23.9%
Bridget Phillipson 27.8%
Mark Reckless 31.9%
Chris Ruane 26.9%
David Winnick 20.5%

On average the committee members have squirmed into Parliament with the support of just 27.9% of eligible voters in their constituencies… some of them with barely one vote for every five available.  It’s hardly a thumping endorsement.  It is a questionable mandate.

The committee’s comment in the report is an important development.  Democracy in this country exists in name only.  The illusion of a mandate is what gives these people the opportunity to inflict their whims on the rest of us.  Now they have opened the door to the idea of a small electoral mandate being of questionable legitimacy, the concept of ‘None of the Above’ can no longer be dismissed so readily and not voting really does have the potential to undermine the political class.

If the media really wanted to add value…

… then instead of doing the Tories’ dirty work by focussing on trade union entryism into the Labour Party, in an effort to paint Ed Miliband as even weaker than Neil Kinnock, as regaled on Political Betting, they should focus on entryism into the British civil service and the various Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO) around the world.

While the media plays its party political games of petty intrigue and personality politics, notionally democratic government is being subverted from within by the left wing entryists who are driving their own agenda and achieving in the shadows what has been rejected by voters at the ballot box.

Consider DEFRA and the Department of Energy and Climate Change.  Both of these departments are stuffed full of closet environmentalists and sustainability activists who control the flow of information to the Ministers of State, thereby influencing their thinking and the approach to implementing government policy.  These are the socialist idealists who went to college, secured a degree, and understanding how government works in this country, joined the civil service and have worked their way into positions of influence from where they can aid or hinder the government of the day.

Local Government has a similar problem to central government departments.  Think back through the raft of child abuse cases and other failures of social services departments and in many of them you will find the leadership of those departments is infested with members of the Marxist organisation, Common Purpose.  The media has barely scratched the surface when it comes to exposing Common Purpose and its nefarious agenda, so it is hardly surprising anyone casting a casual glance at the matter would not understand the serious consequences of this unaccountable body training ‘leaders’ from across the full gamut of public services bodies to work and act in a particular way – beyond authority.

There are even more serious issues with entryists across Europe who have worked their way into a raft of NGOs, that due to the way the EU works, actually inform and direct policy making.  So at a time when people in the UK are waking up to the potential for stabilisation of energy prices through the use of shale gas, we are finding entryists at work formulating the EU’s policy and regulations on shale extraction.

With the entryists striving to hold the line on the adoption and use of unreliable and hugely costly renewables and their ‘dirty’ and hugely costly STOR back up, while pressing for the eradication of hydrocarbons from the energy mix, the risk is that the cost of adhering to the regulations being developed for shale extraction may very well reduce the number of parties willing to invest in this energy source.  The result of this would be more of the ‘reduce demand by driving up cost’ approach that is pushing hundreds of thousands of people into fuel poverty, and scaring the poor away from heating their homes in even the coldest weather.

Each of these issues could easily spawn a number of blog posts in their own right and it may be this blog covers them in more detail in the coming days and weeks.  But with this kind of coverage and exposure being limited to the blogosphere, rather than the larger platform the mainstream media enjoys, the opportunity for raising awareness among the public is greatly reduced.

Thus we remain ill served by our media and its selective and agenda strewn editorial lines, packed full of tittle tattle and yah-boo nonsense at a time when the public is largely ignorant of what is being done in their name and with their money, by people who are subverting democratic control and accountability.

Squandering taxpayers’ money – let me count the ways… NI special

In 2010, a man by the name of Kieran Doherty was found shot dead in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, naked and bound and dumped by a roadside.  It was a heinous crime.

After following the process that exists in such circumstances, Doherty’s mother and grandmother have now been awarded an undisclosed sum by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Appeals Panel, described by Doherty’s uncle as a ‘substantial’ amount.

It all sounds quite reasonable, until you realise that Doherty was a member of the terrorist Real IRA and the killing was carried out by his own terrorists-in-arms. He was also a convict who had served time in prison.

So what we have is a man who opposes Northern Ireland being part of the UK, who resents the British and views them as an occupying force and therefore joins a terrorist organisation to take up arms in support of Irish unification, because at this time the majority of people in the country want to remain part of the United Kingdom.  He falls foul of his fellow men of violence and is ‘executed’.

Not only has the British taxpayer funded the murder investigation by the PSNI and an additional investigation and report into unfounded allegations of MI5 collusion in the killing, but we are now also having our pockets picked pay the family of this worthless terrorist scumbag compensation for his murder – which was brought about because of his fetish for the bomb and bullet and his desire for violence over democracy.

Our money should not be squandered in this way.  Doherty bit off more than he could chew and deserved to pay the price.  We should be pleased there is one less gun toting bomber to contend with in Northern Ireland, not handing out compensation for his killing.  His family almost certainly knew of his involvement in the Real IRA, yet they will now benefit financially from the consequences of that membership at our expense?

Their compensation claim was an insult and should have been thrown straight into the nearest bin.  Clearly it is we taxpayers who really end up paying the price, of the stupidity of officials who fall over themselves to make nice with terrorists and their families by wasting our money to reward their criminality and hatred of this country, and treating us as a bottomless pit to do it.

Syria – put the dogs of war back in the kennel

When seeing Concrete Willy Hague and Cast Iron Dave Cameron talking tough on Syria and angling for international intervention on the side of ‘rebels’ of the Free Syrian Army – and inevitably if unintentionally, Al Qaeda and a raft of their smaller terrorist client organisations – I am reminded of an episode of the West Wing and Toby Ziegler reviewing Will Bailey’s thoughts on foreign policy for a passage in President Bartlet’s forthcoming inauguration speech before he demands Bailey re-write it:

This language proposes a new doctrine for the use of force. That we use force whenever we see an injustice we want to correct. Like Mother Theresa with first-strike capabilities.

There is a time and a place for humanitarian military intervention, for acting like Mother Theresa with first-strike capability.  Syria is not it.

Syria is not, despite the efforts of sections of the media to paint it as such, a genocide.  It is not another Rwanda where a one-sided slaughter of one tribe is being conducted by another.

Syria is a brutal civil war being waged between the vicious regime of a devil we know and an assortment of equally vicious groups of devils that we don’t.  Getting involved in this conflict would be a madness that will assure only one thing, that at some point in the future it will work out badly for the UK – be it through the loss of life of British servicemen in action, or innocent citizens in terrorist reprisals, or simply through the waste of yet more of our treasure on a campaign that is none of our business.

With remarkable and curiously convenient timing, the suspected chemical weapons attack on the outskirts of Damascus crosses the so called ‘red line’ and opens the door to Barack Obama, Cameron (who is exhibiting yet more hypocrisy) and Francois Hollande (who particularly seems to have a disturbing appetite for getting his guns out) to initiate missile strikes against the al-Assad regime… just as the Syrian military and Hezbollah militia are gaining the upper hand in the conflict. There is a nasty stench surrounding this.

For Hague to argue that there is ‘no other plausible explanation‘ than al-Assad’s forces being guilty of using chemical weapons, is ludicrously disinegenuous.  Numerous Syrian army establishments have been over run during the conflict, there have been defections, and the media has rarely tired of saying that with the exception of Damascus and some other urban pockets, the whole country is under ‘rebel’ control.  So surely the chance of al-Assad opponents capturing some of the country’s chemical stocks is fair to good.  But it seems the political elite has an agenda and nothing will be allowed to get in their way.

There is a real risk that the kind of murderous assault by Hezbollah terrorists that has been previously reserved for Israelis and Jews, could soon be directed against British citizens should we take part in a strike against Syria.  If you think the staggering brutality exhibited by the two cowardly Islamist murderers of Lee Rigby was shocking, wait until you witness the imaginative ways of terrifying and brutalising a population and killing defenceless people Hezbollah has in its playbook.

There is a wider political agenda being pursued here that goes well beyond removing al-Assad from the board.  Getting entwined in Syria with a military intervention is not in Britain’s interest.  Doing so without even having the issue debated and voted upon in the House of Commons underlines the death of democracy and accountability in this country.  Cameron needs to pull us back from the brink.  It’s time to put the dogs of war back in the kennel and stay out of matters that are none of our business.  Send humanitarian aid, medicine, food and shelter to the region to help those forced to flee the fighting, but keep the missiles locked in their magazines.

Boris Johnson thinking small again

When one seeks an example of yawn inducing dog whistle politics, Boris Johnson rarely fails to deliver.  It never ceases to amaze that such well educated individuals can lack common sense and imagination.  But Boris has shown that to be the case once again with his ‘back of the fag packet’ call for a free labour exchange between UK and Australia.

As an appeal to the section of the Eurosceptic community that laments the UK’s change of focus from Commonwealth ties to subservience to the EU, and a piece of flag-waving to those who resent the high level of immigration from non-Anglospheric countries, Johnson’s comments about closer UK-Australian workforce links work perfectly and no doubt prove reassuring, perhaps even encouraging.  For those who want to see politicians suggesting approaches that fit the circumstances of the day, while providing evidence of some deep thinking and imagination, his comments are just so much more waffle.

By way of a quick observation, the Commonwealth was fine back then, but looking at it today as an alternative to the EU internal market would be a retrograde step.  Increasingly, at the time the UK was stepping back and looking closer to home for politicial harmonisation and trade opportunities, the Commonwealth provided as much of a bind for some of its member countries as the EU does to the UK today.  Consider the New Zealand experience, where Commonwealth driven approaches saw the high volume – low margin for lamb hold back and poorly compensate Kiwi farmers.  But as the UK turned towards Europe, New Zealand’s sheep (and dairy) farmers took the opportunity to better serve their own interests by switching to a lower volume – high margin model, which rejuvinated the agricultural sector and increased wealth.

Returning to Johnson, why his comment represents small thinking is that there is a whole world of opportunity outside the EU for labour exchange, trade agreements and – more crucially – establishing new blocs of countries with common interests to negotiate trade deals.

Look at the Doha Round of WTO trade negotiations.  There are some large blocs there, such as the US, the EU and the BRICS.  The talks have stalled for years, particularly as the US and EU squabble over agricultural subsidies.  Imagine the UK left the EU –  dispensing with Brussels’ political baggage and instead representing itself on the world stage and truly having a seat at the real global top table – and opted to join EFTA as part of the strategy for retaining access to the internal market.  Some other EU member states could follow suit (thinks Denmark, Sweden and even Ireland).  Suddenly EFTA would have quite some clout.  Indeed it could then progress to become a trade bloc in its own right, sitting in WTO trade rounds like Doha, working for deals in our interests rather than the broader, more dilute interests of the larger EU bloc.

It could be a game changer, as trade with the US, BRICS and tiger economies of south east Asia could be via a genuine trade bloc rather than a customs union, not hampered by political governance issues.  This is just one idea.  It certainly has more vision and aligns better with today’s realities than Johnson’s small thinking and political gaming.

But this should not detract from the elephant in the room, which is the pressing and essential need to extract ourselves from the EU as quickly as possible, while preserving access to the internal market.

For this to happen the British people need to be convinced and reassured that the UK can leave the EU without suffering adverse commerical and economic consequences.  Enough doubt and fear has been created by pro-EU entities who falsely claim leaving the EU means losing access to the single market.  They pretend the negotiation option does not exist, and without providing any evidence for their rationale they reject EFTA membership as a stepping stone or even longer term solution.

The evidence that contradicts and exposes the Europhile claims, and undermines their political motives for keeping the UK under the control of Brussels, is irrefutable.  But it is only a handful of bloggers with their limited reach who are telling the story.  The Eurosceptic cause needs UKIP and every Eurosceptic organisation out there to tell the story and take control of the debate.  By defining the narrative and citing the evidence – namely having something of substance to say – even the media will not be able to ignore the available solutions which can help the UK chart its own course in the world.  It would certainly result in less attention being given to the inane waffle emanating from London’s indecisive and political greasy pole climbing Mayor.

Blogging will resume

Blogging is a self indulgent pursuit and I’m going to resume the indulgence soon…

Clearly I needed a break from the blog and some time to wind down because barely a week later I already feel a bit more energised – and I’m itching to have my say about things.  I thought I could give up blogging but I just don’t seem able to leave it alone.  I guess I have rediscovered my mojo.

See you shortly.

Enough is enough

It’s curious to observe what some people consider to be acceptable and beyond reproach and contrast that with what immediately sends them into a frothing , seething mass of indignation, aggressive self justification, vitriol and sneering sideswipes.

It seems that 13 years of UKIP failure to advance either discussion or activity that moves the UK closer to withdrawal from the EU, a raft of broken promises by the party’s leader including the failure to publish expenses details and be transparent with voters, a cavalier disregard for the party’s own rules which resulted in ineligible yet favoured ‘supporters’ being elevated to European Parliament candidate status and thereon to becoming well remunerated MEPs – with at least one later defecting to the Conservatives, and the absence of any expert comment on EU matters let alone a robust strategy and plan for exiting the EU, is for many a perfectly acceptable state of affairs.  They are happy.

However, pointing out these failings, criticising them and exposing a variety of fixable shortcomings is considered to be completely unacceptable.  The result is the bitter invective hurled about by those for whom supporting UKIP has become a belief system that reminds me of something like a political version of scientology.  Anyone who fails the purity test and dares to challenge the party or its elders becomes the target for a barrage of intolerance.  The aim is to silence the critic or better still destroy him. Tonight, along with others, Budgie and Peter S over on the UKIP comment thread on Raedwald’s blog have succeeded.  I made a snap decision that enough is enough.

As I have just told them over there, go back to Nigel and claim your reward. I’m going. You’ve done your job well. You have silenced a critic through abuse without a single substantive use of evidence to correctly contradict any of the points I’ve made. You don’t accept the warnings, so when it all falls apart you can find someone else to blame and abuse.

I will take no pleasure seeing the Eurosceptic cause defeated in the future due to the paucity of leadership and the failure to provide a route to successful exit from the EU. I will take no pleasure from seeing a party that had so much potential, a party I wanted so much to be able to support, collapse from the inside through incompetent leadership and infestation by BNP exiles.  I have been accused of all sorts of motives for criticising Farage’s leadership and woeful performance and none of them are true.  But that doesn’t matter any more.  When blogging becomes a misery making bind – not because of debate or even heated argument, but because of personal abuse and sneering comments designed to undermine me because of the opinion I hold and expressed – it’s time to give up.  When you cannot be heard above the heckling there is no point continuing to speak.

There have been some good little successes on here over the years.  Hopefully all those hours of tapping away quietly on my keyboard have challenged some people to give thought to the way the world around us works and is run, and to look at things more critically, not taking things at face value, but digging deeper and looking at the evidence to see why things are the way they are and whose interests are being served each time the media publishes a story.

So that’s it.  I don’t want to do this any more.  It’s ironic really.  The tribalist Faragista usually only manage to wear down and drive away people inside the party.  Now they’ve managed to drive away someone outside it who wanted it to improve and do the Eurosceptic cause justice. UKIP will have one last hurrah in the 2014 elections, thereafter it will slide away as people realise that it is all fur coat and no knickers, and be swamped in the 2015 general election.  Should there be a referendum in the future, UKIP will be bit part players at best, hamstrung by inept and self serving leadership and continuing their slide into obscurity.  Why?  This simple statistic…

In the polls around 15% of people now declare their support for UKIP.  In the polls around 45% of people now declare their firm opposition to EU membership.  Therefore 30% of people who are against EU membership do not support UKIP.  Yet the Faragista tell us UKIP is successful and that the leader is a trump card who appeals to voters by talking their language and being an ordinary bloke!  If UKIP cannot seal the deal after all these years with that 30% who apparently share UKIP’s core aim then something is badly wrong.  But point out the problem and the cause and you get the digital flamethrower.  The lemmings are marching towards the cliff, blindfolds wrapped tight, and if you get in their way you’re for it.  Well, they are impervious to logic and resistant to evidence, so I’m now all for moving out of the way and letting them go over the edge.

Thanks to all those people who have contributed in a variety of ways to this blog.  Thanks to all those who have given up their time to read my musings and comment constructively, even in disagreement, on them.  You made it rewarding and fun.  All the very best.

Does UKIP have a secret position on EU withdrawal?

On the subject of withdrawal from the EU, there are other issues besides UKIP’s lamentable performance to focus upon, so it will be a relief to move on to other matters.  But before I do, there are a couple of things that need to be addressed here.

Firstly, a response to the comments on Raedwald’s blog following the recent argument between Richard, me and a couple of UKIP loyalists.

To describe me as an intellect is something of an insult to those people who really are.  The criticisms of UKIP on this blog are not fuelled by jealousy and there is no denigration of personalities.  What I’ve been doing is criticising UKIP for what I see as fundamental failures, caused in large part by the approach dictated by Nigel Farage.  If it is denigration to point out the failures, missed opportunities and questionable direction of Farage, or the boorish and patronising mentality of Bloom, then fair enough.  But this isn’t personal, this is criticism of terrible leadership.  I don’t agree that I’ve been egotistical.  These criticisms stem from frustration and disappointment at the way the Eurosceptic agenda is being undermined by a catastropically bad approach.

Further, to suggest as ‘Anthem’ does that my aim or that of Richard is to take over leadership of the cause is ridiculous.  We have both offered friendly advice, help and support to UKIP over the years.  It has been rebuffed because if the idea doesn’t originate within the armchair cabinet at UKIP HQ then it is considered a threat to Farage’s position.  I could not care less who leads the cause, my only concern is how they lead it.  But, in order to prop up Farage, the truth of the matter must be replaced with accusations of jealousy, self interest and personal ambition against the critics.

Then there is the need to reply to this from ‘Carnwennan’

Richard’s chief issue with UKIP seems to be that they have failed to explain to the public just how difficult it would be to leave the EU. A problem to which only he has a fully thought through plan.

Surely for UKIP to highlight these technical hurdles would be hugely counter productive. Far from a priority… unless you like that kind of thing, which only RN and AM do.

If you are an intellectual hammer, every problem looks like a nail, even those that no one else can see.

This again shows the point has been missed.  It is not a complex, technical argument for UKIP to explain that getting out of the EU is easy, but becomes difficult when starting to unpick all those treaties and regulations we have been signed up to over many years.  It is not complext to explain that before leaving we need to start negotiating what relationship we will have with the EU and secure continued access to the single market to protect UK commerical and consumer interests.  It is not rocket science to have the details in your back pocket so, when challenged by the likes of Open Europe and the CBI, you can go into more detail to give confidence to the business community that leaving the EU does not mean losing 3 million jobs or huge tariffs on our goods, while rebutting the politically motivated ‘economic arguments’ of the Europhiles.

Far from being counter productive, having a thought through plan would give reassurance to voters that UKIP is a safe pair of hands that has done its homework, knows how to achieve its stated goals and provides a genuine alternative to the lying and self interested mainstream parties.  So why are Farage and UKIP so dead set against it?  Decide for yourself.

Secondly, a criticism that has been directed at Richard and me is that we are outside the tent pissing in and should be inside pissing out.  We’ve tried that.  So have a good number of other sound, qualified and talented people who could have helped UKIP move things forward substantially – but instead have been picked off and driven from the party in case they become more popular than Farage.

When we have cited the lack of a plan or question marks about UKIP’s position, some of the tribal ‘UKIP can do no wrong’ crowd argue there is a plan and UKIP’s position is very clear.

They argue the media don’t give UKIP space to share the details, but go silent when we point out UKIP’s own communications channels, (website and magazine) do not reveal this information!  Most recently this group has featured Roger ‘Tallbloke’ Tattersall.  When we ask what the plan is or challenge the lack of position, they try to tackle the claim but always fall well short as reality defeats them.  This exchange on Twitter is a classic example.  It seems there is a UKIP position, but a UKIP candidate is not allowed or willing to speak about it and we as potential voters are not allowed to know about it:

It is a bizarre approach to reassuring voters, dangling a ‘neat’ position but then not detailing it when asked.  The ‘I know the plan and think it’s neat so trust me that all is good and run along’ doesn’t really cut it.  So does this mean UKIP has a secret position on EU withdrawal?  It’s all a bit silly.

Anyway, I hope this post clears up some misconceptions for those who have been reading in large numbers but have kept their thoughts to themselves.

How UKIP has fallen into a Tory trap and abandoned its priority of EU withdrawal

In the comments on the previous post, one of the commenters, Jacq, said something that deserved a considered reply.  However as my reply covers important issues that need to be understood more widely, I am sharing it as a blog post of its own.  In Jacq’s comment was this paragraph:

In some people’s eye’s, UKIP are damned whatever they do. Talk about something else like foreign aid, immigration etc, and they are “not talking about the issue that matters”. If they talked solely about the EU, the same critics would accuse them of having no credibility as a political party as they only had one obsessive strand of policy.

The reply to Jacq was this…

This opens up a very important issue. UKIP has proved the point that a political party cannot be the channel for a campaign of the nature of EU withdrawal. They have fallen into the trap that was laid for them by the Tories some years back.

When UKIP focussed on EU withdrawal they were accused of being a pressure group. So to appear like a serious grown up party they began to focus on other areas, such as the ones you mention and Farage’s ludicrous attempt (given his personal behaviour, some of which is not in the public domain) to espouse family values.

As UKIP has deliberately vacated the high ground on the EU to further their party political credentials and focus on Farage’s electoral ambitions, so the Tories and their outriders – having waited so patiently for their plan to unfold – have gleefully moved onto it and are relentlessly spinning their faux renegotiation narrative, setting the agenda with the lie that single market access requires EU membership, and having an unchallenged run in falsely claiming Norway and Switzerland get told what to do by fax without having any opportunity to influence the rules. Where UKIP should be tearing the Tory lies apart, they can be found in the pub or talking about anything but EU matters.

My limited attempts to draw attention to this, and the need for UKIP to not only rebut the Tory lies but reassure voters UKIP has a plan for getting us out of the EU while avoiding all the catastrophes Roland Rudd and his minions are claiming await us on Brexit, have resulted in the personal invective you refer to. They probably deserve more of the same because they have still not uttered a word about the likelihood of Matthew Elliott, a pro-EU Tory, being backed for leadership of any ‘No’ to EU referendum campaign. The Tories have encouraged UKIP to leave their house, have moved in, are selling off the possessions and now plan to let it out to their friends who will use it to support Tory pro-EU aspirations.

Because Farage, Batten, the Bowler-hatted buffoon, Nuttall et al are being criticised by us for not addressing with this central issue, their very defensive supporters have attacked Richard and me and berated us for not getting in line and offering unquestioning fealty to the Blessed Nigel. Regardless of the evidence we provide that a simple and easy to understand message (backed up where necessary with hard, uncontestable facts) can be communicated repeatedly, to reassure voters that we can leave the EU and retain access to the single market, because Farage and Co have not argued it we are charged with being pro-EU trolls, accused of walking us into a EU trap and rejected out of hand of being of any account.

What I did not include in the reply was this… campaigns of the kind that would be run to get the UK out of the EU do not work if they are run by political parties.  UKIP, in order to satisfy party political considerations, has backed away from the focus that is needed to achieve Brexit.  That is why they have gone ‘off reservation’ and are talking about issues that, ironically, we cannot possibly resolve unless we achieve withdrawal from the EU in the first instance.

UKIP has ceased to be fit for the purpose it was created for.  It has given up leadership of the Eurosceptic movement by pushing EU withdrawal and the focus on it down the list of priorities in order to play party politics.  Instead of keeping EU matters at the forefront of its agenda UKIP is devoting more of its energies to servicing narrow party interests, such as trying to appeal to floating voters and win council and parliamentary seats.  Instead of being the raison d’etre of the party, withdrawal from the EU is now just another element of a larger agenda.

Say what you like about the Europhile Tories, they know how to do politics and they have successfully neutered UKIP.  Sure, a number of Tory voters and floaters will back UKIP in the EU elections next year (and due to the date change, increase UKIP’s council election prospects) but come the General Election, UKIP will achieve hardly anything.  By the time any referendum came around, the UKIP piece will have been removed from the board and the Tories will be rolling the dice.

It’s time for a non party political movement to take the helm.  And it must not be the pro-EU wolf in Eurosceptic clothing, Matthew Elliott, who is leveraged into position to guarantee the false Tory ‘reform/renegotiation’ option goes unchallenged.  That would be the final nail in the coffin.

The Europhile plot to steal a future EU referendum vote

For the last couple of days it has been my intention to close this blog, following my annoyance and despair at the extent of support for the reprehensible Godfrey Bloom; and the continuing ill informed and factually inaccurate assertions made by people in the comments, who nominally share my determination to extract the UK from the EU.

For now, while I consider whether there is any value in carrying on with the blog, there is one important issue that should be brought to wider attention.

Some readers may be familiar with the name Matthew Elliott. He is a Conservative strategist, the co-founder and former Chief Executive of the TaxPayers Alliance, founder of Big Brother Watch and he led the No to AV campaign that saw the Lib Dem effort to force the alternative vote system defeated in a low turnout referendum alongside other elections.

Last week, Elliott’s latest campaign vehicle, Business for Britain, got a mention in the Daily Mail, which reported that:

Tory Eurosceptics will challenge David Cameron to toughen his line on renegotiations with Brussels by calling for the UK to pull out of the single market altogether.

Up to 100 MPs are expected to back a tough manifesto to be released in November by a new pressure group called Business For Britain.

The group is run by leading Tory strategist Matthew Elliott, who ran the No To AV campaign against Lib Dem proposals for electoral reform in 2011 and is widely expected to take the helm of a No campaign in an in-out referendum promised by Mr Cameron for 2017.

The interesting – and concerning – bit here is the last paragraph and the assertion that Elliott is widely expected to lead the ‘No’ (or Out if you prefer) campaign in a prospective EU Referendum.

Why would this be a problem? On the face of it Elliott seems phenomenally qualified to lead such a campaign. The answer can be found in Business for Britain’s own manifesto and an article written by Elliott back in July this year for City AM, in which he wrote:

BUSINESS for New Europe’s manifesto – A Europe That Works – is a useful contribution to the debate on Britain’s membership of the EU, a debate that has often been dominated by political, rather than business voices. But the assumption that the UK’s wealth and job creators would seek to preserve Britain’s place in the EU at all costs has already been dispelled with the launch of our own campaign – Business for Britain – supported by over 750 business leaders, and calling for a fundamental renegotiation of Britain’s EU membership.

The EU Referendum ‘No’ campaign is a vehicle for people who wish to see the UK leave the European Union. The clue is in the nature of the prospective referendum – in or out. Which begs an all-important question that I now ask…

How could Matthew Elliott lead a ‘No’ campaign for people who want to leave the EU, when his latest venture is an organisation making arguments only for reform of the EU, not withdrawal from it?

Elliott is a favourite son of the Conservative Party, which wants to re-pay him for helping defeat the Lib Dem AV campaign, The Conservative Party is an entity that describes itself as Eurosceptic but aggressively fights any suggestion that UK should leave the EU, instead they believe it should be reformed from the inside. A state of affairs that leaves Brussels as this country’s supreme government.

So it stands to reason that Elliott is being tipped for the role of leading a ‘No’ campaign, because the Tories know he favours reform, not withdrawal. Any effort to install Elliott as the ‘No’ campaign leader would be a cynical effort to steal a referendum. No football team would turn up to a match and name one of the opposing team’s players as its captain and put him in goal. Putting Elliott in charge of a ‘No’ campaign would be no different to that folly.

Regardless of his campaigning credentials, no Eurosceptic should be fooled into accepting Elliott as the leader of a ‘No’ campaign. The Electoral Commission must not be allowed to hand control of the ‘No’ / ‘Out’ campaign to a Europlastic who wants to stay firm in the EU.

It would be nice to see UKIP, the UK’s only national political party that advocates withdrawal from the EU, speaking out on this important issue. Naturally the followers of the Farage cult will complain they would if only the media would take notice of them. Well, it doesn’t seem like Farage has any trouble getting the ear of the Guardian’s editorial team and they do have a website on which such messages – if they actually existed – could be shared.

An open letter to UKIP supporters

In recent months this blog has clearly caused some supporters and sympathisers of UKIP to exhibit a degree of consternation at our criticisms of Nigel Farage and the party’s general performance.  This has been evident in the comment threads and also in emails sent to me.

When one shares an important objective with a large number of people who are therefore kindred spirits, or colleagues in that aspiration – namely the UK leaving the European Union – it gives no pleasure to see them angry, frustrated and upset in response to the criticisms and observations this blog has made.

The criticisms are not directed at UKIP party members, or people working behind the scenes in an effort to realise our shared goal of an independent United Kingdom.  Rather they are directed at the leader and the decision makers around him who, in the current political environment, should be hitting the ball out of the park when it comes to exposing the lies and distortions of the pro-EU parties and their front organisations.  A leader and decision makers who should be setting the agenda, talking to our key issues and oozing credibility and mastery of the subject, but who go missing just when they are most needed to speak up.

In this country there is a large number of people who are looking for a rallying point for their views and wishes.  That rallying point should be set on a firm foundation.  That is where UKIP should be.  But under Farage the rallying point is located on quicksand.  This is not the fault of the members, but of Farage himself.  For years under Farage leadership, UKIP has seen people rally to it, only to find that once they arrive there is a vacuum where there should be substance, detail, education and assurance.  This is the core problem with UKIP under Farage.  Some people just hope and believe there is a detailed plan to get us out of the EU, (much like all those Tories who believed for so long that Cameron would one day throw off his social democrat cloak to reveal a classically liberal, eurosceptic Conservative underneath) but the reality is there is no detailed plan.  There is an ideal and no thought out strategy about how it can be realised.

As such many lose interest and drift off, some try to elicit change and improvement but all too often they are marginalised or forced out as they are considered disruptive and a threat to the leadership.  But the fact is many do stay and continue to support UKIP because for genuine Eurosceptics, not the Europlastic ‘reformers’ who would still keep this country firmly under the control of the machine in Brussels, it is the only party political show in town.  There are people who genuinely believe the party is exactly what it needs to be and enthusiastically endorse and revere Farage.  There are others who hang in there but have to pinch their nose and reluctantly accept the failings they see as part of the package.

I respect the opinions and decisions of both types of supporter, even if I disagree with them.  It is for each of them alone to make a judgement about the party and its leadership based on their own views, values and principles.

Likewise, I have my views, values and principles.  While there are many people who are willing to give their support to the ‘least worst option’, it’s something I just cannot do.  I need a positive reason to vote for someone.  I need to feel enthusiasm for them, what they stand for and how the go about trying to achieve it.  Simply supporting the ‘best of a bad bunch’ isn’t a positive decision.  That is why I don’t vote for UKIP.

As a former Conservative I have a lot of experience of politics, campaigning and winning elections, including against incumbent candidates.  I readily accept there is also a lot I don’t know and am yet to learn.  But I do know something about trying to change an organisation from the inside.

It’s one of those things that many have tried and most have failed.  For it to be possible to change a political party from the inside either you need to lie about your views in order to achieve influential position then reveal your true self as you use your position to effect the change you want to see; or there needs to be a properly democratic, transparent, accountable structure in place without an autocratic and overly powerful leader or individuals behind the scenes whose money translates into power and thus enables them to be the party’s puppeteer.

I make this point because I frequently read emails from people saying. ‘if you don’t like it then get in the tent and change it.’  It’s not that simple.  Under Farage, far better qualified people than me have tried to change UKIP for the better, and each of them has been run off.  There are few things as powerful as an ambitious and ruthless man who has a personal goal, puts that first, and also enjoys increasing control over the fiefdom he runs.  Changing UKIP from within just isn’t a realistic option.  Even if the members choose to dump Farage, his paranoia has seen to it that any half decent replacements have long since been exiled.

That’s a brief summary of where things stand and why I hold the position I do.  For as long as I choose to blog (which may not be much longer given the way I am feeling), shutting up about it isn’t an option for the simple reason that, rightly or wrongly, Farage is seen by many as the head of the Eurosceptic movement by virtue of his position as UKIP leader.  If he fails, the Eurosceptic cause will fail.  Hoping no one will notice the failings by keeping quiet about them is not the way to get the problems addressed.  In speaking out I am not trying to ‘do down’ or undermine UKIP.  I am trying to draw attention to what needs to be improved in the hope more people will apply pressure for change.

As long as Farage is fearful of challenging and rebutting the many false assertions and claims made by Cameron and Hague and their outriders, like Rudd, Cridland, and Open Europe; and as long as Farage shies away from explaining in simple terms how the UK can leave the EU while preserving the benefits of the single market that most Britons want to retain, the Eurosceptic cause will suffer.  The recent increase in support UKIP achieved will slowly peel away as the ‘all fur coat and no knickers’ reality of UKIP dawns.  Many people who might otherwise support the party, if it behaved competently and relentlessly presented a positive vision of the new opportunities an independent UK could grasp, will either not vote or stick with their status quo.  Many of those who did vote for the party are already losing interest.

If the current situation is not changed, and quickly, any prospective referendum will be lost due to voters being made fearful by the lies of the Tories, Lib Dems and socialists.  The more they hear the lies and distortions without them being challenged with facts, the more they will believe them to be true.  We need Farage to succeed for us.  We want Farage to succeed for us.  But all the evidence so far is that Farage is failing.  He is putting long standing electoral self interest (the desire to split the Tories and lead one part of the resulting mess) before the cause he is supposed to be leading.  In my view he is not the man for the job and UKIP would be performing much better with someone else in the role.

Agree with me, don’t agree with me.  It’s completely up to you.  But if you prefer facts and evidence to ‘gut feeling’ then consider this.  In four recent by-elections in areas where UKIP returned county councillors in May, UKIP has already lost three of the seats they won, and slipped back to third place in a district election result.  Meanwhile the pro-EU voices continue to spread their lies without challenge and Farage is nowhere to be seen or heard.  Hopefully you can see the point I’m making.

Is this leadership?  Is this a winning strategy?  Is that what you are happy to put up with?  Are my criticisms valid?  Now I’ve tried to explain where I’m coming from, I would like to hear what you think before I carry on.

Over to you.

Godfrey Bloom MEP, a class apart in ignorance, idiocy and inaccuracy

When UKIP says the pathetic and stunningly inaccurate comments of MEP Godfrey Bloom are being ‘discussed right at the very highest level of the party’, we can be absolutely certain this is true. But there won’t be any sanction for Bloom.

For while Paul Nuttall may be Nigel Farage’s deputy leader, Bloom occupies a special and very senior place in the Farage hierarchy, not just as a party ally on the Brussels gravy train, but as one of Farage’s closest confidantes and advisers. He is very much first among Farage’s right hand men.  He is also too stupid to represent a threat to Farage’s position as leader, so he fits the criteria for senior status in the party.  As such, Bloom is teflon and regardless of the harm he may do to UKIP, Farage adores him.  It will all be laughed off internally over a pint or six.

So what of the comments themselves?  Racist?  No.  Pathetic, boorish, arrogant, demeaning, antagonistic, needless and stupid? Absolutely.  But then this story is not unexpected because Bloom has demonstrated these same character flaws, among others,  many times before and he does it because he revels in courting controversy and thinks it plays well to UKIP’s core constituency.  Making such comments also allow him to indulge his fetish for acting like an uneducated juvenile delinquent.

But lacking judgement of a soundness even a 10-year-old can boast, Bloom is the poster boy for much of what is wrong with UKIP and Farage himself.  He was talking to an audience of activists who would likely benefit from reassurance that UKIP’s leaders, of which Bloom is one, have serious messages to convey which have the capacity to resonate with respectable voters who are sick of the mainstream political stitch up and want a viable alternative at the ballot box.  Instead they got the hackneyed old misogynist and cultural supremacist staggering along his usual path, the bottom of the sewer.

Bloom could have made a serious point, using powerful oratory to burn into people’s minds the injustice of sending billions of our tax pounds overseas, where so many of them are squandered and snaffled by corrupt agencies and politicians, while vulnerable people at home are in desperate need of a hand up and get less help than they need or deserve.  A serious message delivered in a compelling manner by a person of substance can have irresistible appeal.  But no.  UKIP has Bloom.

That covers the pathetic, so what of the stunningly inaccurate?  Bloom, lacking the intelligence God gifted to an amoeba, decided to venture onto the decision of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) to force the state to review whole life tariff prison sentences that are handed down to the very worst murderers.  In what he probably considers to be a very witty little rant, he said:

You can torture people to death but you jolly well can’t give them a full life sentence because that’s against their human rights.

He went on to berate the lack of a death penalty.  The wannabe hangman, as per usual, was wrong about life sentences.  As much as I despise the activism of, and our submission to, the ECHR that was not what the ruling did.  There is nothing preventing a whole life tariff being handed down.  There is nothing preventing the state keeping the most dangerous criminals behind bars until they die.  What the ECHR did was require that from time to time the sentence is reviewed to ensure it remains appropriate.

I resent that the ECHR required this.  It should have been a British court making such a ruling.  But there is nothing wrong with the ideal of reviewing sentences, at which point the state can say ‘yes, the sentence remains appropriate in this case and remains applicable to this convict’.

But when we are dealing with someone as superficial and disconnected as Bloom, facts and reality are repelled by the sheer life force of ignorance that denotes the man.

UKIP should be ashamed of the shocking embarrassment that is Godfrey Bloom.  But behind closed doors today they are probably lauding him.

UPDATE: Well, well, well.  As I expected UKIP’s course of action on this is to effectively do nothing.  The official response is in.  Steve Crowther, the Ukip chairman, said:

We are asking Godfrey not to use this phrase again, as it might be considered disparaging by members from other countries. However, foreign aid is an extremely important debate that needs wider discussion.

Yeah, that should do it.  Heads being stuck firmly in the sand as Nigel’s pet must not be chastised.

Also par for the course is that UKIP clearly has no issue with Bloom’s misrepresentation of the ECHR ruling on whole life tariff sentencing.  Perhaps their lack of ‘doing detail’ means they don’t understand exactly what was said.  Far more important to them is getting the Blessed Nigel a photo call in a pub, or trying to keep up with him as he is pursued from venue to venue in Scotland.

Untouchable in Southall, never mind Delhi

Guest Post by Mike Cunningham

In penning this post, I have attempted to pinpoint yet another failure in this so-called Coalition Government’s ideas about true equality and their seeming all-too-readiness to pander to special interest groups, such as extremely well-funded Hindu Brahmin groups who have all the power, money and access to commerce, and wish to retain that power, money and access for themselves.

Equality Minister Helen Grant stated: “I made no secret … of my disappointment that it has been necessary for the Government to concede to making an order to include caste as an element of race in the Equality,” Grant wrote in a letter to the Alliance of Hindu Organizations dated May 9. She further stated:- We also have concerns that incorporating caste into domestic law – even in the context of anti-discrimination – may send out the wrong signal (my emphasis) that caste is somehow becoming a permanent feature of British society.”


Some six years ago, I wrote a piece on the astounding number of ‘Untouchables’, or Dalits, to give them their Indian title, in the country which proudly advertises itself as ‘the largest Democracy in the world’. Largest, it may well be; but Democratic? No Way! Allow me to explain.

India is one of the world’s most heavily-populated countries, being second only to China in numbers, but apart from the well-known political and public figures, there is little awareness amongst the wider public in how India governs itself, both in terms of religion, politics and social structure. The main religion in India is Hinduism, and the social structure which has emerged from this belief structure is the “Caste” system, whereby a religion is allowed to dictate that people are only allowed to do certain jobs, marry certain women, and even are dictated how they are treated after their deaths. For the upper circles, who are known as ‘Brahmin’, the professions are religious priests, political and military leaders; land owners are from the ‘Kshatriya’ caste, the vast majority of laborers, artisans and technicians are ‘Shudra’; but the one “Caste” which is not well publicised or even acknowledged are the “Harijan”, otherwise known as the Dalits, or “Untouchables”. These people, sentenced by, and at birth, to be sewage workers, cleaners of filth and human refuse, number some twenty percent of the population, and in a country which prides itself upon it’s democratic roots and government, it is indeed a strange commentary that one-fifth of it’s population is barred from rising out of the sewers and into everyday life!

Although the actual discriminatory process against the ‘Dalits’ was outlawed by the first Independent Indian parliament, in practice this abuse of their ordinary rights as human beings has persisted, and in many areas grown stronger, as the ruling Hindu parties, whether in or out of power, all subscribe to the casual barring of some 220 million Indians from just about all state higher education, all technical education, most jobs which are not akin to the allegedly “unclean” tasks such as sewage workers or latrine cleaners. In many cafes or restaurants, separate glasses are kept for the Dalits, just in case a ‘higher caste’ person is defiled by contact with a “Dirty Dalit”. One Dalit who managed to attain a higher education was severely beaten by his classmates for daring to achieve a higher marks than they did. A practice for certain ‘higher-caste’ people in earlier times was to actually send servants down a road to ensure that they would not be contaminated by a Dalit’s gaze, never mind his presence.

One of the two most famous ‘Untouchables’ was Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, a mild-mannered but strong opponent of all discrimination, who was elected to the Constituent Assembly by the Bombay Legislature Congress Party. Dr Ambedkar joined Nehru’s Cabinet. He became the First Law Minister of Independent India and helped write India’s Constitution. His one regret was that he did not persuade Ghandi to support stronger anti-discrimination legislation, but his attempts were blocked by strong Hindu opposition. In his later years, he saw that opposition to the emancipation of his fellow ‘Dalits’ become further entrenched, despite the supposed end of discrimination.

The other political firebrand was one Kanshi Ram, who attempted to build his own political power base within the ‘Dalit’ community, and in fact managed to engineer the election of a Dalit woman, Mayawati, as chief minister in Uttar Pradesh, but has since accepted before his death that no one “Untouchable” organization is capable of coming to terms with the aspirations of a quarter-billion people!

So the next tactic of hundreds of thousands of Dalits is to convert to Buddhism; the thinking being that if they are no longer ‘Dalit’ in practice, they cannot be discriminated against, and it would be seen as doubly illegal for any to discriminate against a separate religion. They seem to have struck a nerve, because Hindi political parties in several Indian states are preparing legislation which would prevent any Hindu departing from their religion and accepting another God. Rajahstan and Madyha Pradesh have already introduced civil laws which would prevent any Dalit from leaving Hinduism without registering first with the state government, and Gujarat, a hardline Hindu state, is considering introducing a law which states that Buddhism is a version of Hinduism, so desperate are the traditional Hindu people to keep in servitude millions of their fellow countrymen.

So here we stand, in the second most populous country on Earth, with the prospect of ‘affirmative action’ as one political solution proposed for all commerce in India, where any factory, office or workshop would have to employ a percentage of ‘Dalits’ in order to comply with the law, when it is almost universally accepted that ’Quotas’ never have, and never will, work. Why ‘affirmative action’? Because it’s a politician’s dream, to lay the burden for their stupidity and cupidity on someone else’s shoulders, because they couldn’t or wouldn’t grasp the thorny problem of stating, “No discrimination based on birth, color, belief or way of life is lawful, and thus shall not be allowed!” That is the solution, but it will be many years before the wider world sees an Indian “Untouchable” as a possible Prime Minister, if ever!

I write and recollect this post because, unknown to myself and probably 99% of the population of Great Britain, this disgusting philosophy is both resident and thriving in our cities and towns. According to an item broadcast at 01.30 minutes into the programme on today’s ‘Sunday’ on BBC Radio 4, the Coalition Government has purposely  delayed even publishing legislation covering ‘Caste Discrimination’ until after the next General Election. There are some one million Hindus resident in Great Britain, and in the past I have commented on the ’fact’ that they seem to have merged into our British society with minimum difficulty, with the sole exception of changing our burial laws to allow their open-air cremations in accord with their own custom and religion. It now has emerged that some 400,000 Indians living in these Islands are discriminated on a daily basis because of their BIRTH,  and hence because of the presumed ‘Caste’ and place in the rigid hierarchy of some weird religious writings, all of which, incidentally, were composed by, guess who? The Brahmins, otherwise known as the very top of the heap, and it is some ‘heap’, in daily Hindi life.

I listened to the weasel words of the Brahmin contributor to that Sunday Programme, and I could not help comparing my thoughts to those of the great Playwright and Author himself, when he wrote, “Firstly, lets kill all the lawyers’” Not, of course, because I wished that man evil, but because he spoke of the ‘great complexity’ of the problem; of the ‘great difficulty’ in removing this disgraceful, lunatic and truly hurtful religious discrimination from a large number of people who are suffering innumerable insults because of who their antecedents were some centuries ago!

Mike blogs at Fire, Pillage & Plague

Cristina Fernández de Kirchner gets some dentures

The people of Argentina are suffering as inflation and a badly run economy, caused by decades of maladministration undermine their society.  But as always the interests of the people are not the same as the interests of the people.

Ask the people of Argentina how they think somewhere in the region of £145 million of their money should be put to use and you won’t find many who would suggest buying military aircraft.  But nevertheless, that is what Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and her government have just chosen to do.

As if that were not bad enough, what the gobby old girl from La Plata has chosen to spend the money on is buying a fleet of 20 Mirage F1 fighter jets from Spain, built since the 1970s and recently decommissioned by the Spanish Air Force.  In fact, despite modifications and upgrades, so old and lacking in capability are these jets the nickname the pilots had for them was ‘La abuela’ or the Grandmother.

With Argentina stepping up its false claim over the Falkland Islands along with its efforts to impose a de facto economic blockade of the islands, some see the acquisition of these Mirages as the de Kirchner administration attempting to bare its teeth.

That is certainly the hype-fuelled take of the Daily Mirror and the Daily Express (which puts the purchase price at a mere £10 million) who immediately try to paint this as a threat to Falklands territory and link the Spanish sale to the dispute over Gibraltar.

But given these aircraft are little more than museum exhibits, the modern aviation equivalent of a musket, the only thing on show are a new set of Argentine dentures.  Not that the cor blimey British media, with its ‘powerful reputation for accuracy’ understands.

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