Archive for October, 2013

BREXIT: We were wrong

When Richard North submitted an EU Referendum blog crowdsourced entry to the IEA’s competition for writing a Blueprint for Britain outside the EU (Brexit) – covering the process of withdrawal from the EU and the post-exit repositioning of the UK in the global trading and governance systems – neither of us thought the judges would shortlist such a radical submission, which counters and corrects a number of long held yet badly considered assertions and assumptions about the subject.

We have been proved wrong. The entry has been included on a shortlist of 20 from 149 submissions received by the IEA from around the world.

Credibility is everything in blogging. In an effort to maintain that credibility, I want to be seen as big enough to admit that I was wrong.  Very well done to Richard and everyone who contributed to the submission.  Your efforts have seen to it that a well researched and groundbreaking submission that will correct so many misconceptions, will be aired before a substantial audience.


As with this initial entry, Richard would welcome any help: advice, ideas or direct assistance, and in particular he would appreciate views on how we deal with costing out the options we might present.  These can either go on the EU Referendum forum, on The Boiling Frog’s comments page, on the AM BREXIT page, or you can e-mail Richard via the blog, with your observations.

Tax tourism and sovereignty – defining the real issue

Reading through the comments responding to the previous post, it seems the point I was trying to get across hasn’t landed as intended.  So hopefully this better defines the real issue.

The primary issue is not about whether corporations pay tax, or even how much they pay.  The issue is about who decides, the nation state, or the European Union with its judicial court bristling with legal primacy sitting in Luxembourg.

This is about sovereignty.

Without sovereignty over the law and over taxation rules in this country, the UK does not have the competence – the right or ability – to decide what entities operating here pay tax, or how much they should pay.  As such our nation state cannot effect change, be it positive or negative. We are powerless and at the mercy of foreign legal and fiscal institutions that are beyond the control of the British people and are not accountable to us.

But no one is talking about this essential issue.

It was dodged in Parliament during HMRC’s examination by the PAC.  It has been ignored by the media despite the matter being in plain view and ripe for massive coverage. Crucially, it gives lie to the oft repeated claims of the politicians that we are still an independent country, and are just sitting within a club of member states.

Control over the essential matters that determine whether a nation state is just that, has been removed from our national parliament and legal structures.

This has been done without our permission or consent.  But the emerging consequences, while provoking all sorts of complaints, investigations and hearings – be that concerning taxation of geographically distributed corporations; regulation affecting energy prices and ownership of our energy providers and means of energy generation; regulation affecting water prices and ownership of our water companies;  and even the regulation affecting how we collect and dispose of rubbish and the costs loaded on to us as a result – are not being connected back to the root cause… removal of sovereignty.

That is the real issue.  That has to be the area of our focus.  That is the battleground to determine how and by whom the UK is governed.  It is about sovereignty.

Tax sovereignty, tax tourism, national impotence and the European dimension

According to an entry in Wikipedia, a sovereign state is a nonphysical juridical entity of the international legal system that is represented by a centralised government that has supreme independent authority over a geographic area.   It is also normally understood to be a state which is neither dependent on nor subject to any other power or state.

The only way a centralised government can be sure it has supreme independent authority over its geographic area is if it controls all laws that apply in that territory and it is controls the setting and collection of revenue through taxation.

In the last three posts on this blog, we have focused on an issue that demonstrates beyond any doubt that the United Kingdom is not independent.  Laws to which British people are subject are made by a foreign entity outwith these shores.  Control of the setting and collection of revenue is similarly determined by an overseas power.  As such:

  • the UK does not have legal sovereignty
  • the UK does not have tax sovereignty

This is of fundamental importance to this country and its people.

The Public Accounts Committee scrutiny of the HMRC Annual Report and Accounts for 2012-13 have brought this essential issue to the fore, yet the far reaching implications of the absence of sovereignty in these areas are either not being understood by the media, or ignored by it.  This is the most serious matter concerning governance in the UK today, yet no one, with the exception of a couple of bloggers, is trying to draw attention to it.

When Margaret Hodge asked HMRC why they have not chosen to litigate and test their powers, in respect of collecting tax based upon revenues and profits made within the UK’s jurisdiction by corporations such as Starbucks, Amazon and Google, the answer from HMRC should have been they they have already tested their powers in the Thin Cap Group Litigation – and lost the case in the European Court of Justice.  Very recently indeed, in 2007.

HMRC lost the case because EU law prohibits restrictions on corporations moving capital between member states and, crucially it prohibits restrictions on corporations making payments between their component entities within the European Union.  This basically means a company can make a huge profit within the UK’s jurisdiction but the UK cannot collect corporation tax on that profit if the corporation chooses to make transfer payments to a European ‘parent’ entity within the EU.

In such matters, as a result of being an EU member state, the UK has been rendered impotent.  It is therefore not sovereign.

Many people have been greatly angered by what they see as corporations ‘not paying their fair share’, not least Margaret Hodge.  But too few of their number understand that what the corporations are doing is legal and enshrined in EU law.  The free movement of capital (a principle which was later extended to include payments) was one of the four fundamental freedoms of the common market.  It is an EU matter.

This has shone a light on an issue far more serious than the actions of the corporations – namely the inability of member states to have tax sovereignty.

Yet this huge issue – tax tourism – with all its far reaching implications, is hiding in plain sight and attracting no attention from even a single media commentator.  Not a single national paper or news broadcaster has explained this point to the public.  The question is, why?

Politicians like Hodge can wring their hands, scream, shout and hissy fit until they faint.  They are powerless.  Their agencies, such as HMRC are hamstrung and unable to do anything.  No amount of hearings or inquiries will change that.

The competence for taking money in taxes from corporations in the UK, that choose base their activities in another EU member state and choose to transfer money made in the UK to that base from the UK in the form of payments for royalties or rights etc, has been removed by European treaties.   The UK has ceased to be sovereign.  The only way this will change is if the UK withdraws from the EU.

Yet you can be certain all those corporate interests will be lining up as they are now, demanding the UK remains in the EU because it’s ‘good for business’.  What has been outlined in this post is the reason why.  National sovereignty and the will of the people don’t matter a jot to them, only achieving the largest profit possible by paying the lowest tax rate they can find.

Questions for HMRC that need answering

Staying on the subject of Margaret Hodge’s hissy fit and in particular the evidence given to the Public Accounts Committee, by Edward Troup, HMRC’s Tax Assurance Commissioner and Jim Harra, the Director-General of Business Tax, there is a very important question that needs to be answered.

Margaret Hodge continued with her now familiar narrative of having a show trial or two for major companies who, in her eyes, don’t pay their ‘fair share’ of tax to the UK Exchequer – because despite trading here and generating impressive revenues a lot of the money is sent to another EU location in the form of transfer payments and the like.  Hodge said to Harra:

It looks to me that you should be litigating. Why have you not chosen to litigate and test your powers?  Why have you not litigated against one single internet company?

Make a few cases, a few show cases. It’s so bloody obvious.

Now, HMRC knows very well about the Thin Cap Group Litigation, with the subsequent European Court of Justice ruling on in March 2007, and how that makes Hodge’s demand impossible.  It would therefore be pointless HMRC spending our money to pursue a case it already knows from case law there is no prospect of winning.  So,

  1. Why did neither Harra nor Troup simply tell Hodge that European law allows what Google, Facebook, Amazon and Starbucks are doing?
  2. Why did they not explain to the committee that challenging the companies, in the way Hodge is demanding, falls foul of Article 63 of the Lisbon Treaty which declares that: “all restrictions on the movement of capital between Member States and between Member States and third countries shall be prohibited”, and that: “all restrictions on payments between Member States and between Member States and third countries shall be prohibited”?
  3. What is it they are trying to conceal from the PAC, the media and the wider public through this refusal to state what the facts are, explaining that European law and treaties have primacy and have supplanted the UK’s tax sovereignty and that Westminster therefore does not have competence make the rules in these matters, thus putting an end to Hodge’s continuing witch hunt?

Something doesn’t smell right.  It is such an open and shut matter that there has to be more to this than meets the eye.  Surely it can’t just be a desire to divert attention away from the EU elephant in the room.  Someone needs to call out HMRC on this so that the facts are aired in public in an open and transparent manner.

Then even the media might get curious and show more interest in this issue than repeating the ‘he said/she said’ exchanges, which leave people wondering why Parliament appears toothless, why no action is being taken by HMRC and why the corporates are continuing with their current tax arrangements within the EU.

Even more ignorant than we originally thought

Richard has picked up on my previous post about Margaret Hodge’s examination of HMRC leadership at the Public Accounts Committee and, reliable and well informed as ever, has shed more light on matters.  The information he provides serves to show up Hodge’s ignorance as even deeper than we originally believed.

Richard explains how the Inland Revenue has already run a test case of the type Hodge was demanding in such ill tempered, playing to the gallery fashion.  This was the Thin Cap Group Litigation, with a ruling on 13 March 2007 from the European Court of Justice.

In that case, based on the tax arrangements being used, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) found that EU law “precluded legislation of a Member State” which restricted “the ability of a resident company to deduct, for tax purposes, interest on loan finance granted by a direct or indirect parent company which is resident in another Member State or by a company which is resident in another Member State and is controlled by such a parent company”.  You can read Richard’s post in full and in glorious technicolour over on EU Referendum.  It’s an education in itself.

In summary, Richard explains that to charge tax therefore – in the way Hodge is cajoling HMRC to do – would be contrary to EU law, but with a limited proviso – that this does not apply if it can be proved that the loan is a “purely artificial arrangement, entered into for tax reasons alone”.  Proving that particular point is nigh on impossible as companies can provide a multitude of reasons for establishing their European HQ in a particular location.

Hodge is chasing her own tail, to no purpose, at the expense of a public that is being misinformed and deceived by her ill informed and pathetic political grandstanding.  If Hodge wants the law pertaining to this area of taxation to change, she needs to push for the UK to withdraw from the EU.  That won’t happen this side of never.  So her continual hectoring is a waste of everybody’s time.

Now, a question.  Why is it the media – with its powerful reputation for accuracy – is incapable of researching this story and explaining this?  Why is it that to understand the facts we have to resort to reading what a hard working blogger has published on his particular piece of electronic pub gossip?  Answers on a postcard to Brian Leveson, courtesy of:

1, Passed Over for Lord Chief Justice
Guardianista Chambers
Establishment Mews

The incredible ignorance of politicians writ large

After the John Major government tied the UK to the Maastricht Treaty, Douglas Hurd was reported as saying:

I suppose we had now better go away and read what we have signed up to.

It’s a lesson that successive intakes of politicians have failed to learn.  Most recently this has been demonstrated by the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, Margaret Hodge.  The Mail reports on today’s session of the PAC where the HMRC Annual Report and Accounts 2012-13 was being examined.  The witnesses were Edward Troup, Tax Assurance Commissioner at HMRC, Jim Harra, Director-General Business Tax at HMRC and Jennie Granger, HMRC’s Director General Enforcement and Compliance.  Some of Hodge’s reported comments include the following:

The tax gap is really the tip of the iceberg in the gap between the money that you collect and the many if everyone paid their fair share.

It looks to me that you should be litigating. Why have you not chosen to litigate and test your powers?  Why have you not litigated against one single internet company?

Make a few cases, a few show cases. It’s so bloody obvious.

According to the Mail, Hodge named Google, Facebook, Amazon and Starbucks as companies whose tax affairs had sparked public anger and doubts about whether they were paying their fair share in Britain.  However, if Hodge had the first bloody clue about what she was bloody well talking about, she would bloody well know that she was spouting a load of bloody nonsense.  What Hodge is encouraging HMRC to do is spend public money pursuing cases that would be lost.

Why would HMRC lose?  Posting about a separate issue over on EU Referendum, Richard makes clear that companies moving money between EU countries in the way Google, Facebook, Amazon and Starbucks are being demonised for doing, is one of the most fundamental provisions of the European treaties, the “free movement of capital” which was one of the “four freedoms” in the original 1957 Treaty of Rome.

Chapter 4 of the Treaty of the European Union (the Lisbon Treaty) , Article 63 declares that “all restrictions on the movement of capital between Member States and between Member States and third countries shall be prohibited”. Furthermore, the article states that: “all restrictions on payments between Member States and between Member States and third countries shall be prohibited”.

Hodge, as a well remunerated Committee Chairman of one of the most muscular select committees in Parliament, with significant research resources available to her, should know this.  The fact she doesn’t demonstrates the incredible ignorance of our politicians.  Despite the supposedly powerful position she occupies, she doesn’t understand that what Google, Facebook, Amazon and Starbucks are doing is what the EU’s rules permit them to do.

Any show case would simply show up the stupidity of the UK authorities and result in a win for the demonised firms.  But it seems no case will be forthcoming because, unlike Hodge and the expenses troughers in Westminster, HMRC understands the rules – and that seems to be why Edward Troup told the committee:

We make sure we collect the tax due under the law.

It is because of corporate friendly rules such as the free movement of capital that company bosses like Richard Branson and CBI stooges like John Cridland are desperate to keep the UK in the EU.  it suits big business to engage in tax tourism and it suits them to hire in the cheapest labour from around the union.

Politicians like Margaret Hodge can grandstand, rant, rave, stamp their feet and pretend to be the conscience of the population, but it is she and her ilk who signed the UK up to EU rules they clearly don’t understand, and who want to keep the UK firmly inside the EU.  It is at times like this, when they are constantly telling us why the UK’s future has to be within the EU, that the consequences of EU membership – the loss of tax sovereignty – become apparent.

But rather than acknowledge the reality and the self imposed limitations under the structures they are constantly trying to convince us we should remain part of, they depart into the realm of fantasy like today’s performance in Room 15 of the Palace of Westminster, where they resort to bluster and blather and playing to the audience, but ultimately will change nothing.

How offering false choices produces meaningless answers

Over on Political Betting yesterday, there was a post about recent polling as reported by You Gov for the Sunday Times.

PB, which has been keeping an eye on Labour’s polling fortunes since Ed Miliband’s junk status promise to enforce a 20 month price freeze for energy,  focused on one question which offered respondents a clearly biased selection of choices…

The Miliband pledge of an energy price freeze for 20 months:

Not only unworkable because it assumes wholesale market prices are static and factors that can increase or reduce price do not exists, but easy to circumvent by companies putting up energy prices before and after the period to recoup the same revenue they would have collected anyway.  It’s a false choice, a bit like the mythical ‘renegotiation’ option as an alternative to leaving the EU.

Excess profits tax on energy companies:

The key word here is ‘excess’.  Who determines what is reasonable and what isn’t?  Add to this the fact that most of the money energy companies make is from generating and selling energy to the wholesale market.  Is that what will be taxed?  They don’t say.  The profit from energy customers is around 5%.  Is that what will be taxed?  If so, is 5% profit ‘excessive’?  In any case, how does a tax help we consumers?  Will it be paid back to us, or just become another sum bundled in with general taxation for the government to fritter away as it sees fit? Anyway, we have to ask, how many companies would happily trot along working for just a 5% mark up on the cost of delivering a good or service?  Another false choice.

Reducing green taxes:

More popular than a windfall tax, but less popular than the Miliband con trick.  The obvious thing here is reducing green taxes and keeping them down will have a longer term effect on prices than a 20 month price hike holiday that only delays the inevitable.  But what this does not do is change the policy that sets a target for the percentage of renewable generated power in the energy mix.  So we still end up paying, whether through our bills or through general taxation, unless the Climate Change Act is repealed.  So this is also a false choice.

All of this shows that the polling was utter garbage.  Heads are being filled with ideas that are unworkable or non existent options that are no antidote to the problem of politically motivated rises in energy costs.

As a result the poll responses are utterly meaningless and does nothing but keep consumers in ignorance of the real reasons for much of the energy price rises.  There was no more value to it than asking people whether a phoenix, a minotaur or a winged horse should be the next 10 Downing Street pet.

Want to understand why those energy prices really keep rising?

It’s been documented and explained for years by Richard North and Christopher Booker.  But those who have not seen their many warnings about what was in store for us as a result of policies, that so many people cheered for being ‘green’, might benefit from this very quick summary that Booker puts in his column today.

Two weeks ago, in a column headed “It’s showdown time for our insane green energy policies”, I observed that this is the moment when the roof is finally starting to fall in on a collective flight from reality that I have been reporting here for years.

But what few people yet realise is how far this catastrophic mess we are in was not only predictable, but has also been quite deliberately brought about, through the Government’s own policies.

Their central aim, though never openly explained, has been twofold. One leg has been to build, by 2020, some 30,000 wind turbines, so ludicrously expensive that we must pay double or treble the market rate for the power they so inefficiently produce.

The other leg is that, to make this seem competitive, we should also eventually be made to pay twice the going rate for all other forms of electricity: hence the “carbon tax” on coal and gas, and the colossal price we are to pay for power from Hinkley Point and other new nuclear power stations (four times the cost of nuclear, estimated by a Royal Academy of Engineering study only nine years ago).

That is why our energy companies pathetically try to explain that a third of the increased costs driving their latest price rises are made inevitable by the various levies we must pay directly for those “green” policies, such as the hidden subsidies being showered on the owners of our ever-growing number of wind farms and acres of solar panels.

Another third represents what we must pay for the thousands of miles of cabling needed to connect those “renewables” to the grid (which Ofgem estimated might, by 2020, cost us another £40 billion).

Then there are the other measures needed to counteract the unbalancing of the grid by the intermittency of “renewables”, such as hiring those thousands of diesel generators to provide back-up, which makes a further mockery of the “de-carbonisation” policy mandated by the Climate Change Act that Mr Cameron was so keen on.

The truth is that we are being brought face to face with the utter absurdity of everything this Government’s bizarre ragbag of policies has been trying to achieve.

For Mr Cameron to blame all this on Mr Miliband only shows that the fuses in his brain have at last begun to blow. By mindlessly going along with all this nonsense, it is our entire political class that has created this shambles. It is the rest of us, alas, who must now live with the consequences.

Given all this, does anyone believe a word these pompous hypocrites have to say, and does anyone believe the laughably and ridiculously low amount DECC claims we pay to support this insanity?  Little over £100 per year on energy bills doesn’t come close to covering the cost to energy consumers and taxpayers of all these politically mandated measures.

You might be asking yourself why the political class has done all this.  The answer to that is simple.  ‘Sustainability’.  But it’s essential to understand that the notion of sustainability has been corrupted.  Instead it encompassing the development of low impact sustainable ways of providing sufficient energy, water, shelter and other basic human needs to meet the demands of a growing population – which technology can achieve – it has been twisted into meaning that people must use less of everything.  How can they be sure people will use less?  By restricting supply (e.g. unreliable turbines instead of reliable coal and gas, no new reservoirs combined with water metering) and driving up prices to a level that many people cannot afford.  Simple, and vicious.   But then, these are the very people who continually argue that the world population needs to be reduced because they consider humans to be a virus that is destroying the planet.  But the politicians believed (and some still believe) that aligning with these people mark them as responsible and virtuous, therefore more electorally appealing.

In light of the anger these supply and price measures are provoking and the slowly growing awareness of just what lays behind these measures, I think back to those ‘enlightened’ environmentally aware people who queued up to ridicule North and Booker for their projections of the effects the policies would have.  One wonders where these previously vocal people are now, as the chickens are starting to come home to roost.

The pips are already squeaking and we are not even close to the full impact of this political insanity.  This issue is one that will keep coming back to the fore as the prices continue to be ramped up.  The politicians have created a mess they have no solution to.  Time to get the popcorn, while making sure you do what you must to stay warm this winter…

All hail defiant David of the Mail on Sunday

In 1992 Murdoch’s editor boasted after the Conservative election victory ‘It’s the Sun wot won it‘.  Now we have another part of the media claque trying to suggest it alone is defiantly leading the way in exposing the menace of eco-propaganda.  No, really.

They can’t just write about a story, they have to be seen to ‘own’ it and give the impression only they know about it and have researched it and brought it to public attention.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

David Rose has undoubtedly helped spread the word to a wider audience when it comes to climate change deception and how green subsidies added to our bills and taxes are causing the prices to rise.  It is important work.  But to claim that the Mail on Sunday ‘defiantly leads the way‘ as its derivative content focuses on issues that have long since been brought front and centre on EU Referendum and the Christopher Booker over the course of many months, is just hilarious.  Still, if it makes David Rose feel important…

No, não, nein, non, nie, nei,

Regardless of the language being spoken, there is one word in particular where the clarity is unequivocal, the meaning is absolute. That word in English is no.

So when President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, was asked by a journalist to comment on whether David Cameron was going to be able to repatriate any powers from Brussels, and brushed him off with a contemptuous laugh; but was followed by his Chief of Staff, Johannes Laitenberger, who responded with a firm ‘no’, the conclusion we can draw is very simple.

As Richard has already made clear, Cameron thinks he is setting the pace on cutting EU bureaucracy.  But he is two weeks behind the curve as the European Commission had already announced its REFIT initiative which at least claims to be seeking to do just that.

And now Cameron thinks he is making the weather on the subject of repatriation of powers, despite the very notion running completely contrary to the principle of ever closer union.  Yet here we have Barroso chortling away at the idea of the UK getting cherry-picked powers back from the EU, while his Chief of Staff – who as an experienced communications professional knows about how to deal with the media in surefooted fashion – slams the lid on the idea with a clear ‘no’ in response to the question.

This shows there is a clear disconnect between Cameron’s self aggrandising perceptions and reality.  Too much time spent in the Westminster bubble seems to have exacerbated Cameron’s capacity for delusion.  Nevertheless, those sections of the media that worship at the altar of prestige eat it up.  They can’t get enough of it.  And so the public continues to be deceived and the interests of the establishment are maintained.

It’s your money, but we want it and are taking it…

Here we go again.  The old chestnut of tax avoidance being equated with tax evasion is back in the papers today.

The paywall-free Mail reports about a number of BBC ‘stars’ who elect to be freelancers and paid as ‘personal service contractors’, rather than work on the BBC payroll.

The benefits are clear.  The BBC doesn’t have to pay tax on the money it pays to the freelancer (other than VAT on the invoiced sum), as the freelancer is a ‘company’ entity and responsible for paying taxes due for the services they provide.  The freelancer can pay a lower effective tax rate than an employee, depending on how they organise their directorships, salary, costs and expenses and dividend arrangements.

But yet again we see the grubbing politicians, who are so preoccupied with hoovering up as much of our money as possible in order to control how money is spent, making moronic statements that demonstrate they are trying to con the public and demonise people who have done nothing wrong.  As the Mail puts it:

There is no suggestion that any of the individuals named have acted improperly but  MPs accused the BBC of having ‘staggeringly inappropriate’ arrangements in place for many employees and said it could be ‘complicit’ in tax avoidance.

Complicit in tax avoidance?  What the hell?  This is the equivalent of criticising drivers for going along a road at 30mph in a 30mph limit by claiming they are complicit in driving within the speed limit.  The argument is completely ludicrous.  The pressure that has been applied to lead to this unnecessary change is an example of excessively powerful government that is out of control.  Personal freedom is being infringed as a result of undue pressure being brought to bear by the over powerful state.

There is nothing wrong with tax avoidance, which is the arranging of your financial affairs so that you legitimately pay less tax.  It is legal and responsible.  Yet some politicians, whose only motivation is wanting more of our money to control and use to service their whims, have even gone as far as coining the expression ‘aggressive tax avoidance’ to describe the active effort to find legitimate ways of a person or company arranging their affairs to ensure they pay as little tax as necessary within the law.  In using this description they are deliberately attempting to mislead people into thinking these individuals and companies are engaging in tax evasion – the illegal and criminal act which is the deliberate failure to provide full and accurate information about income and assets to the tax authorities so tax liability can be correctly assessed and demands applied within the law.

Although it is our money the refrain of the politicians is, ‘but we want it and are taking it’.  We no longer have a Parliament.  We have an elected Court of Robber Barons.

Court of Robber Barons

Court of Robber Barons

And they are doing all they can to bully, threaten and demonise individuals and companies into handing over money they have no legal obligation to pay.  Starbucks being a case in point, having suffered so much reputational damage at the hands of politicians and blinkered campaign groups who believe government should control everything, they voluntarily offered to pay millions of pounds to the Exchequer they were not liable for in order to put an end to the blackmail they were subjected to.  You read that right, Starbucks were blackmailed into handing over money because politicians did all they could to turn people against the company, which was wrongly being painted as abusing tax law.  That should engender fear in everyone.

Taxation has long since ceased to be the process for raising funds to be spent on essential public services and infrastructure.  It is now a form of oppressive control to restrict the ability of individuals to use their money as they see fit.  The funds raised are squandered on whims and discretionary spending to bribe people into voting the politicians back into office, which is not dissimilar to the use of taxes in medieval times to fund the adventurism of monarchs and luxury of lords.

In a classic abuse of language, the politicians hark on about people having to pay their ‘fair share’, even though this invariably means people with larger incomes and who use public services far less than most other citizens, paying the same contribution as many other people combined.  There is no sense of proportion in all this.  They have the money and the government wants it, so it rigs the system to ensure it gets it.  But in their bubble this is supposedly fair.

The only way this country will ever see responsible taxation and use of our money by the government is when the people have the power to block spending plans that service the interests of the politicians rather than the interests of the population.  This road leads back to The Harrogate Agenda, and the fifth of the six demands:

5. No taxation or spending without consent: no tax, charge or levy shall be imposed, nor any public spending authorised, nor any sum borrowed by any national or local government except with the express approval the majority of the people, renewed annually on presentation of a budget which shall first have been approved by their respective legislatures

Only with such democratic control can anyone in this country ever talk about tax in terms of fairness.


Each time a provider has put up their prices, Labour has spun its smoke and mirrors on their ludicrous plan for a 20 month price freeze.  Meanwhile the Tories have said people need to change provider to get a cheaper deal.

Both are trying to convince the public they want to ‘do something’ even though both have laid the blame for the huge and continuing price rises at the door of the energy providers and have tried to ignore the government’s significant role in driving up energy costs – which are far greater than the 10% admitted to by DECC.

But today, against a backdrop of Tories and Socialists at least going through the motions of claiming they want to see the rapidly increasing burden of energy prices reduced, the Lib Dem energy minister, Ed Davey, has said he is pledging to turn the screw even harder.

I am not going to give up on renewable energy, they are not going to touch it, and I am not going to betray the fuel poor. That’s for me is a complete red line. I feel passionate about that.

The green taxes we have been pushing as Liberal Democrats in this government have been extraordinarily successful and point to an extremely green, clean energy future. They’re not being touched and they won’t be touched. It’s incredibly important for investors that they hear that.

His pledge to help the fuel poor just creates more fuel poor to pay for it.  But his real priority is renewables.  He wants to carpet bomb the country with wind turbines so he can rid the energy mix of coal fired energy – at a time when environmentalist Germany is building more competitive and reliable coal fired plants, to ensure its people and industry can afford to power homes and businesses.

While Germany thinks about its power needs and acts on them, Britain has the insipid Davey thinking about investors’ needs and crippling consumers.  These investors are the people and companies that coin in a fortune from our taxes and energy levies to put up wind turbines that earn them vast sums, even when the turbines deliver only around a 1/5th of their energy capacity – and they even make money when the turbines generate nothing!  It is ideology-driven insanity.

The sustainability agenda has a new figurehead in the UK.  Ed Davey, a man who is guilty of dogged determination to make things worse because he refuses to accept his direction is damaging.

He thinks he is a force for good.  He is merely a puppet of delusional environmentalists, with little concept of the real world and is in thrall to those who believe humans are a plague that should be controlled, by reversing industrial progress and undoing the humanitarian progress that has enabled many people of even meagre means to heat the property they live in.

Ed Davey is possibly the most dangerous extremist in this country today.  The damage he is capable of wreaking far exceeds that of armed terrorists.  His sustainability jihad should be of serious concern to everyone who does not have a parasitic interest in making money from underperforming novelties that attract ludicrously inflated feed in tariffs: and whose low output must be purchased by energy providers irrespective of the cost – the pain of which is then borne by all powerless energy consumers.

Davey is out of control and impervious to the wishes of the people.  He is aided in this by the fact we do not have democratic control that enables this idiot to be called to account.  More than any other politician today, he embodies the pressing need for structural reform of governance in this country to ensure people have the power, not dictatorial ideologues elected by around 28,000 voters in one corner of south west London.

The Hannan paradigm

The story we covered earlier concerning Lord O’Donnell’s puff piece, in support of handing more power over the political process to civil servants and Parliamentary has-beens, has attracted the ire of Douglas Carswell.  Fair enough.

But this has subsequently prompted Daniel Hannan to weigh in, after spotting an opportunity to make one of his favourite points – related to comments made by O’Donnell on a different occasion – about how EU membership prevents the UK from negotiating trade accords with non-EU states.  The problem with Hannan’s observation is that while true, it doesn’t come close to getting to the heart of why a UK exit from the EU is vital.

The prior comments of O’Donnell that Hannan fixes upon are these:

Britain is, above all, an open trading nation, but unfortunately our main trading partner, the euro area, is unlikely to increase its demand for UK exports very much in the short or medium terms. Our historical trading patterns, which have been so beneficial in the past, are likely to condemn us to the global slow lane for years to come. Our share of world trade has declined over the last decade by more than that of all our G20 partners.

This prompts Hannan to postulate that:

[…] Ever since the mid-1960s, as Hugo Young showed inThis Blessed Plot, the campaign to mesh Britain into European political structures has been led by our permanent functionaries. It wasn’t that they were unpatriotic. Rather, they had made a calculation, understandable in the context of its time, that economic growth would be concentrated in Western Europe.

Today, no one makes such a calculation. Every continent in the world is growing except Europe. Britain, the only one of the EU’s 28 members that conducts the majority of its trade outside Europe, is especially well placed to benefit from the growth overseas: we are linked by language and law, habit and history, to the places that are doing best. When even Sir Humphrey has internalised that point, our exit is just a matter of time.

What Hannan doesn’t explain, perhaps because he hasn’t grasped the reality of the genuinely bigger picture before us, is the more crucial point that Britain, because of its EU membership, has no direct influence at the level where trade rules and regulations affecting manufacturing and the standards for a vast number of goods are decided.  Namely around the tables of various global bodies and organisations where no EU member has a seat.

While Britain’s ability to strike trade deals is important, of far greater importance is our ability to inform and shape, in our interest, the rules that will bind most countries around the world that are signed up to various conventions and treaties – and which consequently impact international trade deals involving most of the goods we make and most of what we buy.  This is what membership of ‘Little Europe’ denies us and why we have to get out.

Leaving the EU is not an end in itself.  It is merely an enabler that gives us an opportunity to fight our corner in our competitive interest, in the forums where the rules and standards are made.  The hard work therefore does not end when we simply have the ability to strike agreements with other countries on our own terms, rather than the consolidated and diluted terms suiting 27 other European countries.

Hannan’s trade paradigm is only a narrow part of the imperative for leaving the EU.  If he understood and articulated the bigger story from his substantial platform, he may actually help more people understand the benefits of British independence.

And you still think this is a democracy?

The problem for someone who has initials that lend themselves to being nicknamed ‘GOD’ is that sooner or later, they start to believe that is exactly who they are.

For we hear that Lord Gus O’Donnell – an unelected and unaccountable civil servant who ascended the greasy pole to become Cabinet Secretary, a real life version of Sir Humphrey Appleby, enjoying and wielding immense power over the way this country has been run in recent years – has recommended that aspiring MPs should be forced to meet ‘pre-qualification criteria’ before being allowed to stand for election.

It doesn’t stop there.  O’Donnell also recommends in his piece, called ‘Better Government‘ that government policies should be vetted by former ministers, accountants and ex-civil servants, arguing that radical change is needed because the country is ‘in a bad place’.  In the article where he outlines his ideas, O’Donnell states that:

  • Politicians have a “ludicrous bias” in favour of older people
  • Health provision is “expensive and inefficient”
  • The education system does not produce the skills that businesses need

Yet his solution is to engage, among others, the very former ministers and ex-civil servants who presided over the creation of the mess in the first place.

Has anyone spotted the little flaw in all this?

Yes, that’s right.  It is the people who should decide who represents them (however badly), not some self selecting, establishment appointed cabal that is unelected and unaccountable.   As usual, there is no place whatsoever for ordinary people like you and me in determining who gets to hold this significant influence, and we will have as little influence over those people as we do over the current crop of politicians who do so badly by us in return for so much.

While a ‘source’ at the Cabinet Office has responded by saying that:

It is not clear who would oversee the pre-qualification of Parliamentary candidates, and for what purpose. At present they undergo rigorous scrutiny by the electorate. It’s called democracy.

the concern we should have is that this was dreamed up at all.  And now it has been mooted, you can be certain there will be politicians who will spot opportunity in all this and their voices will, over the years, add to O’Donnell’s call and seek to put his recommendations into practice.

O’Donnell wrote in his article that:

There are very few jobs that do not require individuals to undertake training and development before being promoted, so this would bring MPs into line with the reality of their constituents’ lives.

But this fails to recognise that the role of an MP is to represent their constituents, not serve their own interests by seeking advancement.

However, that said, we should recognise that the idea of training for MPs who have been elected does have some merit.  It might put an end to many of the nonsensical, ill informed and ignorant comments they make about lawmaking and fatuous assessments of where power resides, which demonstrate they do not understand the structures of governance, how laws are made or what processes bring them into being.

But it is insulting for O’Donnell to call for the creation of an Office for Taxpayer Responsibility to vet government policies and opposition manifestos, when such an office is not accountable to taxpayers.

As it is taxpayers are not consulted about how their money is used.  Such an entity would simply be the addition of an extra layer of bureaucracy and control, that only serves to move ordinary people further away from anything resembling democratic control over the actions of the political class, rather than improve governance.

It is small comfort that the aforementioned Cabinet Office source accepted that improvements were needed.  But to be of any impact they would need to be something of the magnitude of wholesale structural reform and, in particular, empowerment of voters, which is the central tenet of the Six Demands of The Harrogate Agenda.  And we can be certain that approach will most certainly not be something that is put on the table.

As always, this is another example of the establishment talking to itself and arranging the furniture in a way that suits its wishes, doing unto us what they will, without our consent or any reference to us.  Until that central problem is rectified, nothing that GOD or any of his establishment ilk suggest will improve our situation.

It is sometimes said the voice of the people is the voice of God.  Not in this case, evidently.

Trust in the police is not damaged, it’s broken

Inspector Ken MacKaill, of West Mercia Police; Detective Sergeant Stuart Hinton, of Warwickshire Police; and Sergeant Chris Jones, of West Midlands Police are the three Police Federation representatives who gave a false account of the meeting they held with Andrew Mitchell over the so called ‘Plebgate’ affair.

Yesterday they collectively flicked Mitchell and the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) a middle finger, with a non-apology over their disgraceful, politically motivated actions when they knowingly lied while giving their version of events, in a press conference they called for the sole purpose of demanding that Mitchell resign.

We acknowledge the investigation’s criticism relating to our poor judgement in talking to the media following the meeting with Andrew Mitchell, for which we take this opportunity to apologise.

We would like to emphasise (as we did to the investigation) that in no way did any of us ever plan or intend to mislead anyone about what occurred during this meeting or otherwise.

Their ‘apology’ was only for talking to the media.  They have refused to apologise for their conduct and their attempted deception.  In effect, they are saying ‘Yes, we lied, what are you going to do about it?’  Now it is time these officers had the book thrown at them.  They do not deserve to carry a warrant card.  They have been shown to be dishonest.

Any person convicted of an offence on the contested evidence of any of these three officers, would seem to have sufficient grounds to appeal their conviction.  The fact is Mackaill, Hinton and Jones lied.  This has been proved by the secret recording made by Andrew Mitchell.  There is no escape from this fact.  They have demonstrated that their word as police officers cannot be trusted.  They thought they could get away with lying about the discussion they had with Mitchell, a Cabinet Minister.  So what else have they thought they could get away with in dealings with far more lowly people?

The public cannot have confidence in these officers – or their Chief Constables who are content to keep them in positions of power they have already shown they are willing to abuse.  They have no credibility.  They have no integrity. The public deserve better.

The fact that Mitchell took a recording device into the meeting before he had any certainty that these officers would lie, demonstrates he already had no confidence that they would tell the truth.  If a Cabinet Minister is that suspicious of police, what message does that send to the rest of us?

At the same time the IPCC was, for once, telling it the way it is regarding the conduct of these three officers, there was another officer giving evidence into his shooting of Mark Duggan.  An officer who, despite claiming he clearly saw a gun in Duggan’s hand, thus prompting him to fire, seemingly did not see that gun nestle some 10-20ft away, over a fence, from the scene of the shooting.

That officer’s evidence was contradicted by the previously silent cab driver, who told the court Duggan was trying to flee.  In years gone by I would have accepted the officer’s evidence, relying on honesty and integrity.  Today, not a chance.  Not without irrefutable evidence to back up his assertion.  From Hillsborough to de Menezes, dishonesty has become a stock in trade for too many officers, confident their colleagues will close ranks to shield them.

While minor in comparison, one consistent behaviour of many police officers up and down the country has reinforced my opinion.  Namely, their dogged refusal to act on complaints of criminal actions by bailiffs.

Despite the law being clear that bailiffs cannot practice unless they are appropriately certificated by a judge and remain so, despite the law being clear that bailiffs are not allowed to misrepresent their powers to debtors, despite the law being clear that bailiffs must not threaten or intimidate debtors and despite the law being clear that bailiffs may only levy certain charges above the debt as set down in a schedule, not one bailiff who has broken the law pertaining to these rules and had a debtor file a complaint against them with police, has been arrested and prosecuted.  This despite hundreds if not thousands of people having been victims of such criminal abuses.

That fact, moreso than any lie by a few bent coppers with an axe to grind about changes to police pay and conditions, demonstrates that trust in the police is not merely damaged, rather it has been completely broken.  Broken because the police are selectively refusing to uphold the law when they consider the offender is on their side and the victim has it coming to them.

Perhaps this explains the determination of the Chief Constables of Mackaill, Hinton and Jones’ respective forces to not bring disciplinary action against these untrustworthy officers.  Policing has become partial.  Its supposed independence abused for self serving ends.  Senior police officers repeatedly speak of policing by consent, but what far too many people in this country are experiencing daily is policing with contempt.  The bobby on the beat has been replaced by the paramilitary plod – separate from the community and viewing it as an enemy to be suppressed.

We cannot accept this any longer.  It is time to make a stand.

The cheapest unit of energy is always the one that isn’t used

It may be a cliche, but it’s true.  The cheapest unit of energy is always the one that isn’t used.

Those are the words of RWE npower’s Chief Executive, Paul Massara (on the video below).

Once again we see reinforced and overtly articulated, the implementation of the global sustainability agenda, which is seeking to force consumers to use less energy by driving up prices.  It is staring us in the face, yet still it is shrouded in deception and dishonesty – even with the price comparison sites pretending better deals can be had, so they cash in each time some desperate customer switches supplier to postpone the inevitable hike of more than 10% when their ‘fix’ deal ends.

All the comments from David Cameron, Michael Fallon and the cast of bare faced liars at the heart of government, including Ed ‘justify your price increase as I load on the levies’ Davey, about shopping around for a better deal, is nothing more than theatre.  It’s all an act.  There is no plan, no impetus and no desire to increase energy supply to meet demand.  The politicians know the agenda they are working to.  They know they are pricing people out of the ability to afford energy to heat their homes and cook their food, all for the corrupted ideal of environmentalism.

Only the most deceitful or utterly incompetent and deluded fool could possibly argue that almost doubling the wholesale cost of electricity from nuclear power, in 10 years time, could result in cheaper energy bills.  But that was David Cameron, speaking about the plans for the construction of Hinkley Point C.  Only a moron like him could suggest that getting a French company to build the power station with oodles of Chinese money equates to kick starting the UK’s nuclear industry.

It is an outrageous lie.

If all this does not provide sufficient evidence that our rulers – who are supposed to be our servants – are serving interests other than ours, then nothing will.

You would need a heart of stone not to laugh…

Think back to the end of August, as the rush to bomb Syria further back into the stone age was reaching its height.

As the UK was held back from participating in a US-led – and William Hague cheer-led – attack on the Al-Assad regime thanks to a Parliamentary cock up, the Americans decided to fawn over the only nation, with insufficient democratic checks and balances but sufficient stupidity and political blood lust, to stand shoulder to shoulder with Washington.  I refer of course to France.

While that had Hague and Cameron skulking around Downing Street in a jealousy fuelled fury, the French quite enjoyed their renewed love-in with the Yanks, as this part of a puff piece on France24 made clear…

But of course, there are few beasts as fickle as the politician.  And that is brought into stark relief today as howls of protest emanate from the fragrant corridors of power of America’s oldest ally.  Guess where they are directed…

Thus it seems the American love-in-of-convenience with the French has already hit the buffers.  Bless.  But then, who would ever have believed the self centred septics and the self serving snail munchers would remain faithful?

That being the case, it couldn’t happen to two more unpleasant and repugnant administrations.  But no doubt Cast Iron Dave and Concrete Willy are today filled with fresh hope that their unrequited love for Obama and the Beltway Boys will again result in America going through the motions of being the UK’s true love and best friend forever.

Until, that is, the next time Britain doesn’t satisfy America and Washington goes roaming for a new partner to romp with.

Nuclear disaster in the UK

The news over the weekend and this morning confirms the UK is in the throes of a self inflicted nuclear power disaster.  The fall out has the capacity to be catastrophic for energy consumers.

This concerns the deal, mentioned in passing in our last posting, that sees the French and Chinese consortia behind the financing and construction of HInkley Point C in Somerset, guaranteed a minimum price for the energy generated that is nearly double what we pay for nuclear power today.

The comment I intended to make at this point is eclipsed by Richard’s observations, which more eloquently articulate what I intended to say:

What is very far from clear, though, are the exact reasons why nuclear has increased in price so much. Nevertheless, in what is clearly a rigged market, the most likely culprit is the regulatory ratchet.

Increasing the time taken to approve schemes, and adding to design and construction costs, regulation is reckoned to be enough to have caused the massive price hike. And much of the regulation will have been promoted by Green activists, the aim being to price nuclear power out of business.

According to this seminal book, the process has been going on a long time. Now, it would appear, the activism has achieved its effect. We have a nuclear disaster – but not one that the Greens had predicted.

As fuel costs rise fuel poverty will kill vastly more than nuclear power is ever likely to. That is the real disaster, made all the worse by the fact that it is largely the result of deliberate ploys to increase the price of nuclear generated electricity.

We have recently seen similar efforts across the European Union by green activists to make the potential of shale gas to provide a secure, domestic source of energy, unaffordable through regulatory cost.

This is not about safety.  This is not about efficiency.  It is certainly not about providing sufficient energy to meet the growing demand of a rising population.  It is solely about forcing countries to adopt what the activists perceive as ‘green’ and ‘clean’ energy because the alternatives would have been made uneconomic due to politics alone.

These green groups are pursuing their own narrow, dogmatic and flawed agenda, but have been appointed by the EU as the ‘voice of the citizens’.  Without our consent or input these groups have been installed as our ‘representatives’ to government – but are following an agenda that we have never been asked to consider, let  alone endorse.

More media stupidity on energy

With very few notable exceptions, it seems the British media is stuffed with hacks who exhibit no evidence of an enquiring mind, no willingness to question and test the stories they are being fed and no interest in publishing challenging pieces that readers need to be told, no matter how difficult the conclusion is for people to accept.

The Mail on Sunday has one of its increasingly half baked, cor blimey editorials today where is proclaims ‘We must sort out fuel prices… right now’.  It doesn’t perform any real service to its readers because it doesn’t recognise and set out the real problems about energy prices.

At the most simplistic level, prices are rising for four reasons:

  1. Increasing energy prices on the wholesale market are being passed on to customers by the regulated providers
  2. Increasing government-imposed ‘green levies’ imposed to pay subsidies and grossly inflated tariffs to corporates and land owners for building and hosting inefficient and expensive wind turbines that are incapable of replacing the conventional energy generating capacity
  3. Additional government-imposed levies designed to drive up the cost of energy in order to leave many people with no choice but to use less energy than they do now, regardless of how cold it may get in the winter
  4. The regulated providers seeking to maintain a margin, which in the retail market is only around 5% profit, as reward for the good they provide

But you would never understand this from reading the Mail piece.  Instead it adopts the economically illiterate position of the Archbishop of Canterbury – a man with a commercial background who should know better – which effectively calls for the energy providers to absorb the rising cost of energy themselves and provide it to people at cost, or even at a loss.  The Mail barely touches on the significant impact of government policy.

Where is its 4 page spread examining the policy of using pricing as a means for forcing reduced energy use?  Where is its editorial attacking the imposition of vast levies to install turbines at a cost of billions of pounds, which generate on an average less than 25% of their stated capacity – and where the guaranteed price for what little energy they produce offshore will be £155 per megawatt hour (MWh) and onshore is £110/MWh – falling to a still eye watering £135/MWh and £95/MWh respectively in a couple of years?  That compares to a current guaranteed price for nuclear power of £48/MWh.  Even that price is expected to almost double to around £90/MWh for new nuclear build as the government fritters away our money as it desperately tries to make up for outrageous strategic failure on new energy build over the last three decades.

What the Mail also fails to grasp, let alone report, is the disturbing fact that the structure of energy prices and what they are made up of is now so complex, not even the most savvy analyst can break down where the money we pay actually goes to.

There are so many impositions and elements in energy today that working out who the money is going to is virtually impossible.  Which could explain why we see Scottish and Southern Energy declaring that the cost of energy has gone up 4% in the last year, while British Gas say it is 13% in the last year.  The only way to achieve transparency in energy pricing is to start again from scratch and identify exactly what goes where.  Then we could have some confidence in British Gas’ breakdown, shown below:

What is clear is that while there are pressures from government and consumers on energy companies to rein in their costs, no one seems to be connecting the dots about how government and regulation is driving up the wholesale costs to energy companies, how transmission charges are rising unchecked and how direct levies and taxes by government are also not subject to proper scrutiny or downward pressure.

Until a lot of light is cast on this and the government is called to account for its part in this – and forced to explain to people the global and EU dimensions to the vicious policy of forcing down demand through higher prices in the name of ‘sustainability’ – the cost of energy is going to continue to rise.

The lightweight intervention of Dr Justin Welby and the weak arsed commentary of the Mail achieves nothing and helps no one.

Harrogate Agenda takes another step forward

The Harrogate Agenda returned to its North Yorkshire spa town home today, to build upon the outputs from the last meeting in Leamington Spa.

As there were some new faces it was an ideal opportunity to explain what the Agenda is and what it is not.  With new readers to this blog all the time, this is an ideal opportunity to explain the same here:

  • It’s a movement, not a party
  • It seeks supporters, it is not a membership organisation
  • It is not issue based, save the implementation of truly democratic structures
  • It seeks to bring about change from outside the ‘system’, not get entangled within the system and its diversionary intrigues
  • It has revolutionary ambition, but in the classical sense of bringing about significant change from status quo
  • It is non-violent, its campaigning may necessitate civil disobedience at times but that’s all.
  • And finally it is uncompromising, it will hold true to the 6 Demands and not dilute them or be taken off at a tangent.

There we have it.  The Harrogate Agenda is not about remedying specific current issues, such as wind turbines, planning matters or taxation.  But what Agenda seeks to do is bring about structural change that empowers people, so issues such as those can be resolved or prevented from ever becoming an irritant in the first place.  The focus of the movement is empowerment, through a new and truly democratic framework, where nothing can come about or stand without the consent of the people.

As a concept it will be difficult for some people to come to terms with, as they are used to expressing their dissent through tightly targeted protest, which almost always burns out having failed to achieve its objectives after a comparatively few fleeting moments of media attention.

But experience shows that the ruling class, with its top-down approach to decision making and its laughably dictatorial system of ‘guided democracy’ can easily brush aside such complaint because the people don’t have structures that empower them and ensure bottom-up decision making.

It’s helpful to think, therefore, of the 6 Demands as ‘enablers’.  While some of the points may appear narrow in themselves because they do not tackle specific issues people rail against today, the scope of empowerment the demands would deliver would bring about the conditions that allow for wider and more complex issues to be tackled and overcome.  The people would decide how they wish to be governed and the executive would carry out instructions rather than give them.

Moving on, the attendees saw the premieres of two short films.  The first deals with the anti-democratic nature of governance in this country and underlines the need for the type of change The Harrogate Agenda is seeking, including the devolution of power to the local level.  The second examines how Norway thrives outside the European Union, underlining the global nature of rules and directives and demonstrating the UK’s membership of the EU, which while incompatible with the concept of democracy and civil empowerment in any case, prevents this country from being at the top table, wielding influence and formulating decisions.

Both films will soon be available to buy (to cover the costs of making them, which was significant), with trailers soon appearing on YouTube.

The next workshops will focus on each of the demands in more detail, helping supporters to understand the concepts and be able to articulate them to new people effectively, something that is essential if the movement is to grow and the message is to take hold.  This is a vital ‘level set’ to ensure supporters all have the same depth of knowledge and can engage with people in a confident manner.

The movements of the past that have been most effective in advancing their revolutionary thinking have all taken time to develop.  They have ensured they have an intellectual base and forms of revenue that fund further development and campaigning.  That is why the ‘placard protest’ model is unsuitable.  That is why Harrogate may seem to be taking time to make a difference.  But once the ducks are in a row and there is an informed and engaged supporter base carrying the message to more and more people, Harrogate will show itself to be a movement that has longevity and the capacity to drive a real transformation in the way the British people are governed, and most crucially, by whom.

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