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Saturday 26 January 2013

Professional Politicians - Driving The Country To Ruin

Given that politician's of all levels and all parties are such an intrinsic and pervasive part of our everyday lives, it's a complete mystery why we, as the electorate, don't scrutinise them much more than we do. Is are local candidate good or bad, honest or untrustworthy, educated or uneducated, locally raised or just a stranger who has been parachuted in to gain the benefit of a relatively safe Parliamentary seat?

Given that many of these elected individuals will ultimately be responsible for handling billions of pounds worth of taxpayers money, through the purchase and provision of our country's most vital goods and services, shouldn't we first be sure that the people campaigning for public office are actually capable of doing the job they're applying for. If we don't bother to do that, then whose fault is it when we end up with a butcher doing the job of a surgeon, a history student running the national economy, or an inexperienced politics student with a flair for PR running the entire country. These things, these responsibilities are serious issues; and yet the people of this country seem to put their blind faith in a succession of political ne'er-do-well's whose ambitions are streets ahead of their personal abilities, yet we continue to be both surprised and disappointed when they continue to fall on their collective political asses.
Some journalistic facts and figures relating to the great and the good currently employed in the Palace of Westminster makes for interesting reading, especially when it informs us that up to 30% of our current MP's have only ever worked in the White Collar industries, including politics and journalism. That is to say up to 30% of our representatives have NEVER got their hands dirty in the conventional sense, as in doing any sort of traditional Blue Collar work, yet still have the effrontery to order other less fortunate citizens (including members of their electorate) to GET A JOB - ANY JOB, otherwise they'll almost certainly lose their paltry welfare benefits.
The same investigations also found that around 40% of our sitting MP's have only previously been employed within the professions, where they have worked as Barristers, Solicitors, Doctors, Teachers and University Lecturers. This so-called professional status pre-supposes of course that each of these individual MP's were any good at what they did, be that a teacher, lecturer, barrister, solicitor or doctor, which of course isn't necessarily the case, as it seems just as likely that their failure to succeed in their chosen profession actually explains their change of career, to the much less challenging environment of the Westminster Village. One can only speculate why someone who was earning in excess of £100,000 per year would suddenly choose to earn a smaller salary, unless of course it's the prospect of much more power and influence, plus far less actual work.
An increasing number of the Westminster attendees are also reported to had a university education, 35% as opposed to the national average of only 7%, suggesting that there may indeed be some merit to the recent fears that working class students are far less likely to progress than their better off peers. An estimated 55% of the Conservative Party MP's are reported to have been educated at fee paying schools, while the figure for Liberal Democrat and Labour MP's is said to be 40% and 12% respectively. Equally notable is the fact that around 20 Coalition MP's, Conservative and Lib Dems combined, were educated at the same private school, Eaton, whilst up to 25% of ALL MP's, from all political parties, received their university education at either Oxford or Cambridge.
As time passes and the numbers of so-called "professional" politicians grow, so the average age range of MP's seems to get lower and lower, no doubt as a result of many never having pursued a full-time career outside of the political sphere. Over the past 30 years the number of professional politicians is reported to have increased four-fold, with anything between 90 or 100 of our current MP's never having held a job outside of politics, as against some 20-odd MP's in 1982. In fact, all three leaders of Britain's main political parties are examples of these emerging professional politicians, with David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband all being products of this new political hot-housing that has led us to this dangerous state of affairs. Is it any wonder then that our country is in such a perilous condition, when vital economic, social, military and political decisions are being taken by artificially raised wallflowers that have no first hand experience of working in industry, in finance, in agriculture, or indeed in the real world.
Ed Miliband has been groomed to be a political leader ever since he was apprenticed to Gordon Brown, in similar circumstances to the Labour Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls, whose only venture into the real world of working was as a journalist, which he clearly wasn't very good at, otherwise he would still be doing that. Nick Clegg, the leader of the now semi-defunct Liberal Democrats has previously been employed as a political lobbyist and part-time journalist, before moving on to become a full-time employee of the European Union. Against the odds; and perhaps despite the hindsight of some Lib Dem activists, he then managed to get himself elected as the leader of that marginal political party, whose very electoral future continues to hang in the balance even as this is written. The third and final professional political leader is of course the Prime Minister, David Cameron, another surprise candidate who somehow managed to come from the political "nowhere" to snatch the leadership of a mainstream party; again with perhaps predictable results. Famously, Cameron is renowned for his experience in Public Relations, people skills that have undoubtedly served him well in the past.
Unfortunately for him however, the old adage of "you can fool some of the people some of the time, but not all of the people all of the time" seems to be highly appropriate for this clearly likeable, but thoroughly unscrupulous professional politician. Starting at age 18, Cameron has lived, breathed and eaten from the political oxygen of Westminster; and apart from time spent studying for his degree; a gap year job as a shipping administrator; and his time at Carlton TV, he along with Miliband, Clegg, Balls and the rest of their political ilk have sheltered themselves from the realities of the daily hardships that they're happy to visit on the rest of us mere mortals who inhabit these islands.
The complete disconnect between the RULERS and the RULED, the HAVES and the HAVE-NOTS, the POWERFUL and the WEAK, or even THEM and US, is never so clearly illustrated than when one of the political elite, these same professional politicians, the ones whose daily decisions causes misery and penury for millions of Britons, try to explain why it's the actions of the poor, the dispossessed, the powerless that are really causing the problems in Britain. I particularly like the analogy trotted out by any number of professional politicians of comparing the nation's massive economic woes, to that of managing a simple household budget. So their argument goes, if your outgoings are greater than your income, then you need to reduce your expenditure, which on the face of it is a pretty straightforward piece of sensible advice. However, their approach to cutting the household expenditure seems to be more akin to paying off your debts all at once, even if that means living without food, gas or electricity, getting rid of the family, having the pets put down and perhaps throwing one or two of the kids onto the nearest skip. Nobody doubts that Britain's financial situation is chronic, but blaming the victim, excusing the villain and cutting your debts too deep and too fast is sheer lunacy. which even the most financially illiterate housekeeper would recognise instantly.
But then, why would or should we be surprised that such economic and fiscal madness is being proposed, when the person actually proposing it is a complete political and economic novice. In common with his boss, David Cameron, George Osborne is a wealthy man, who has never had a proper job, went from full-time education into full-time politics; and has no direct experience in finance or economics, but rather gained a 2.1 Bachelors Degree in History. As an independently wealthy man whose family and politics have kept him isolated from the insecurities of daily life, one can only guess at the reasons for him being handed the economic levers of power, when he plainly has little or no experience in handling such weighty matters.
Perhaps foolishly, some of us choose to believe just because you're well educated, it doesn't necessarily mean that you're clever, simply that you have an ability to ingest and regurgitate data as and when you're required to do so. It's what you choose to do with that information, once you've got it that determines whether or not you're smart; and able to contribute to wider society. Clearly in this respect most of our current crop of modern professional politicians fail the test, as they couldn't and haven't come up with any sensible approaches to running a vibrant modern economy, despite 600 of them having a go at doing so. The Labour Party had a go at doing it and failed miserably, primarily by not only squandering what few economic gains they had made, but also by a shameful manipulation of our country with regard to Europe, our national sovereignty, health employment, immigration, pensions, etc. etc. Now we have the current shameful coalition government having a go at fixing the myriad of problems, only they haven't got a clue either. First Labour try to spend their way out of trouble, now the coalition are trying to save their way out of trouble, the two sides of the same coin, with each party flipping it in the air to determine the policies of the day! And then we wonder why our country is in such dire straits!
The truth is that economic theory and therefore political strategy is old hat and completely unsuitable for our modern age, yet even our new and vibrant, supposedly fresh faced professional politicians cling to them like a drowning man does to a life-raft. Even the leaders of the IMF, the International Monetary Fund (the clue being in the name) have advised our Chancellor, George Osborne, that he might want to consider relaxing his austerity measures, as they might impede a British recovery. However, clearly because he has a 2.1 degree in History, Mr Osborne believes that he knows better than the leaders of the IMF and has therefore decided to press on with his cuts regardless of their advice. They say that "pride comes before a fall", a message that George Osborne, David Cameron and Nick Clegg are almost certain to recall by the middle of 2015.
The trouble for the British people and more importantly perhaps for our economic future, is that it seems likely that one dysfunctional set of economic theories will be replaced by yet another, the Conservative's squeeze replaced by Labour's swell, SAVE then SPEND, SAVE then SPEND, on and on ad infinitum. Monetary policies designed for the 19th and early 20th centuries are never going to work in a world where trading and financial transactions are not only global, but often highly risky, instantly transferable and easily manipulated by the growing list of sometimes unregulated companies that are now not only selling real goods, but also the imaginable and promissory. The difficulty is that in most cases British governments, both Labour and Conservative have little incentive in strengthening the rules, simply because most of the companies involved in such activity are the very same organisations that sponsor their party machines, so their reluctance to legislate effectively is hardly surprising, but just as unforgivable, when one considers that ultimately it is everyone else in Britain, normally the poorest, who will pay for that corporate malfeasance.
Of course for the British electorate there is no easy remedy for this situation, even assuming that you accept the basic premise that most, if not all, of our modern politicians are unsuitable for public office by virtue of their limited experience, lack of empathy for their fellow citizens, personal incompetence, or indeed their own innate corrupt natures. After all, most of those people who do still bother to vote might do so for any number of reasons, including simple tribal affiliation, a dislike of certain candidates, the policies of the party in question, or even the colour of the individual party's rosettes. Whatever the reasons though, ultimately it is the electors who place great power and influence in the hands of their individual representatives and as in everything else in life, arguing that you didn't know that the candidate was unskilled, uncaring or highly dubious is hardly likely to make much of a difference in the great scheme of things. As in law IGNORANCE IS NOT A DEFENCE, especially if that results in a complete charlatan not representing their constituency well enough, or exploiting the MP's expenses system for their own financial means. Maybe it beholds us all to look at the various candidates and assess them on their own personal merits, as in their employment history, their previous political history, how they have voted on important issues of the day; and whether that chimes with the voters own views. Until we all choose to make an INFORMED choice on those who represent us; and more importantly those who RUN THE COUNTRY we're all destined to keep going through the same old political to and froes that have managed to bring our country to its knees.   

Thursday 24 January 2013

Legacy, Lies and Laziness - The EU Debate Begins

So there we are then! After forty years of bellyaching, bitching, bullshitting and lies of every description, the British people have finally been promised a referendum on their membership of the European Union, albeit from a Prime Minister who has previously promised us a vote on the issue, only to find a way of avoiding his commitments at a subsequent date.

Of course, as a dyed-in-the-wool European, Cameron would have much rather not had to offer the British electorate a choice in the matter, but with his party and therefore his own political legacy sliding inelegantly towards a sheer electoral cliff, mostly as a result of UKIP's emergence as a power broker in any forthcoming elections, what else could our drowning Prime Minister do? With the economy flat-lining, poverty increasing, the vast majority of the working public being punished by the frankly incompetent Chancellor of the Exchequer, there were few, if any positives that Cameron could point to, as evidence that his coalition government had the faintest idea of how to make things better for the country, or indeed for the increasingly battered British electorate.

From his own beleaguered point of view though, the thorny subject of Europe is a many tiered argument that would offer him some form of respite, when everything else is falling down around him. Not only does the promise of a future referendum silence the grumbling of his own Eurosceptic backbenchers with the promise of renegotiation with or out of Europe, but ties in very nicely with wider public concerns over mass immigration from eastern countries, the obvious inability of our own national courts to overturn highly questionable Human Rights claims and the unwanted intrusion of foreign courts into what are and should be entirely British matters.

So for Cameron, Britain's membership of the European Union, as well as being a haunting legacy for the Conservative Party was always going to represent a safety net for his own political future, provided he was either brave enough or desperate enough to make the choice of offering the British public a vote on the issue. A case of choosing to jump, or being pushed into making that decision! As it turned out, Cameron has not announced the referendum out of choice, he hasn't chosen to jump, but rather he has been forced to ask the most unpalatable job in British politics simply to help quell the rise of UKIP, pacify his own party and thereby attempt to keep his job for just a little bit longer, as well as create and protect his own personal legacy.

After all, were it not for this one particular issue and his momentous decision to ask the British people, we "plebs", for our opinion on Europe, there seems to be little doubt that Cameron, Osborne, Clegg, Alexander and Co would all go down in British political history, as the most arrogant, out-of-touch, incompetent and fiscally stupid government that has handled the lever of powers in our country. Not much of a recommendation for a political coalition that is only just half way through its first period of office; and promising more of the same, assuming that they were ever re-elected for a second term by the British public. Fundamentally then, the Prime Minister's decision has nothing if anything to do with addressing any sort of democratic deficit created by an increasingly autocratic European Union, but is entirely the result of political self-preservation on the part of David Cameron, George Osborne and the rest of the Conservative Party, who true to type, have resorted to punishing the weak and the poor, to benefit the strong and the rich, who for the most part are the Tory Party's financial sponsors.

Unfortunately for the other two main political parties, the Lib Dems and Labour, well they can't even countenance the idea of us mere "plebs" being given a voice, let alone a choice, on our continued membership of the European Union. Not only are such national decisions untimely and unhelpful, according to both Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband, but are clearly so complicated that they don't entirely trust the British people to be able to make the right decision, which is to stay in, no matter what. Of course, these same two politician's have no choice but to trust the people to choose a national government, which one would have thought was a far more complicated issue, yet when it comes to our European membership we can't be trusted to make a carefully calculated choice that is best for our country's interest.

Mind you, is it any wonder that politicians, business leaders and commentators don't trust the public to make such important decisions, when the vast majority of people in this country are simply too lazy to inform themselves about the important issues that affect their everyday lives. On several occasions over the past week, whilst the current EU debate was going on, there were people interviewed, the men-in-the-street, who wanted an informed debate on our EU membership, but obviously hadn't been bothered to get themselves informed about the various issues surrounding the wider debate. And no doubt, it's because they choose to remain UN-informed that they'll believe the sorts of newspaper headlines that scream "Three Million British Jobs Will Be Lost", if we decide to withdraw from the EU. Similarly, some other pro-Europe sources have also claimed that "Over Half Of Britain's Trade Is With Europe",implying that all of these much needed exports will simply disappear if we were to withdraw from the EU.

Over the course of the past week, even before Cameron had uttered a word on the subject, Britain's car manufacturers, its aerospace industry and its financial services industries were already half-way across the Channel, where the French were already rolling out the red carpet for them. Likewise, according to some other less charitable and sensible foreign commentators, a Britain outside the EU would very quickly resemble Greece, only we'd be starving, broke, isolated and begging on our knees to be allowed back in to the European Union. Washington, Beijing, Tokyo, Moscow and Delhi would deliberately choose to ignore us as an insignificant third world nation that had nothing to offer and nothing to say about global matters. In fact the only major misfortune that hasn't been suggested to date, but no doubt will be over time, is that before long Britain would become so impoverished that we would accept a few quid from Argentina for the Falkland Islands, because we couldn't afford the cost of defending them anyway.

Sadly, back in the real world things are very different indeed. In fact, the UK is one of a handful of nett contributors to the European Union budget, meaning that if we left the EU the other nett contributors, including the likes of Germany and Holland would have to pay significantly more into the budget pot just to keep the project running. Also, Britain runs a significant trade deficit with the EU, especially Germany, meaning that just as many European jobs rely on British markets, as British jobs rely on the continent, if not more in fact. Most experts agree that only around 30-odd% of British exports go directly into European markets, taking into account the 10-12% of British exports transported via continental ports to non-EU customers, ie: the Rotterdam Effect. The UK is estimated to be 60% self sufficient in terms of food and natural resources, so it seems highly unlikely that the British people would actually starve because of a lack of continental cheeses, wines and fruits.

It also seems highly unlikely that the highly lucrative financial services industry are going to move from Britain, where there is light-touch regulation; and relocate themselves to Paris or Berlin where new financial transaction taxes and legislative measures are being proposed. It is also worth considering that most high-end British jobs are based in the UK because that's where the people, the training and research establishments are, not because some foreign owned company has simply chosen Britain arbitrarily. The goods that are generally produced by these high-end manufacturers are typically prestige items and would be purchased at any cost, regardless of whether Britain is inside the EU or not.

As for Britain having reduced political influence outside of the EU, well the central tenet of that particular argument is highly questionable to begin with. By virtue of its long history and its involvement in founding many of the world's international organisations Britain's influence, historically, politically militarily and economically would remain undiminished. As a nuclear power, a permanent member of the UN security council, a member of the G8, G20, IMF, WTO, the Commonwealth of Nations and a multitude of other international bodies, it is absurd to even suggest such a situation. Britain continues to have one of the biggest and most vibrant economies in the world and has one of the best equipped military forces of any modern nation, so any suggestion that we could not, or would not be able to reinforce British interests is simply laughable. Countries such as Singapore, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and India, to name just a handful of the various Commonwealth states, have always seen Britain as an entirely separate national entity, regardless of its membership of the EU and only recently a leading Indian politician stated publicly that his country dealt with individual countries, not trading specific blocs, thereby undermining any suggestion that Britain alone would somehow sacrifice any sort of influence if it chose to withdraw from the European Union.

As to whether or not Cameron can persuade a majority of voters to trust him and his party for a second full term remains a mystery, although given the coalition's dire stewardship of the country thus far, one wouldn't count on our membership of the EU being a major factor for most of those who will cast their vote in the General Election of 2015. Assuming that our economic fortunes remain as bad in 2015 as they are now, or possibly worse; and with George Osborne promising more of the same, then it would be difficult to see a majority of British electors voting for the Conservatives yet again, irrespective of their offering a public vote on our continuing European membership. That said however, with Ed Miliband's Labour Party likely to oppose any such referendum bonus; and with little to differentiate them from the Conservative's in terms of economic policies, for the British public it seems the choice will be little, or nothing at all, when it comes to the prospect of simply voting for better living standards and a brighter future.

If there is any sort of silver lining for the British people, it is the prospect that there might be a slightly bigger and better choice of political candidates come the elections in 2015, with the Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats all facing competition from UKIP, the National Health Action Party, Respect and a multitude of smaller parties and independent candidates. Recent Parliamentary elections have proved that engaged local electorates are prepared to support minor parties, provided that the message and the individual candidates are right for the local people; and that they are prepared to work for their community's interests. 

Wednesday 16 January 2013

A Less Than Positive View Of The EU

Here are parts of an excellent analysis on the EU written by Anthony Coughlan, a retired Social Policy Lecturer, which forced the Irish Government to hold a national referendum on EU-induced constitutional changes; and is a must read if you want to fully understand the threat that the EU poses to our country and our democracy. 

A) That political realist, Germany's 19th century chancellor Otto Von Bismarck, once said: I have always found the word 'Europe' on the lips of those powers which wanted something from others which they dared not demand in their own names. The rhetoric of Euro federalism, talk of "the European ideal, the requirements of the EU project, the supposed necessity of Europe's unification and the like, is essentially political cover for the national interests of the individual States concerned, as mediated by their political and economic elites.

B) Different countries had their own motives for embracing supranationalism. Britain wanted to prevent the continent being dominated by the Franco-Germans. She sought either to prise them apart or else be co-opted by them in running the EU as a triumvirate. Both aims proved illusory, and this is at the root of British Euro-skepticism. Spain, Portugal and Greece saw the EU as guaranteeing democracy following long periods of dictatorship. The East Europeans saw it as a way of moving out of Russia's sphere of influence. Their representatives in the EU bureaucracy, the European Parliament, the Court of Justice, Central Bank etc. are paid salaries that are typically ten times higher than what they would get at home. This makes Brussels a specially attractive career prospect.

C) The Franco-German economic deal which was embodied in the original 1957 Treaty of Rome offered protection for French farmers in return for free trade for German industry. The Common Agricultural Policy(CAP) kept European food prices high for decades by reducing food imports from the rest of the world. Farmers like high food prices. As CAP supports were tied to volume of production, this benefited big farmers most, French ones particularly.

D) On the free trade side the EU, Treaties make it illegal under supranational EU law for governments to put obstacles in the way of the free movement of goods, services, capital and labour between the 27 EU Member States. National Governments are legally forbidden to discriminate in favour of their own citizens or business firms by adopting any such measures, whether liberal or restrictive, although the possibility of doing that if it is judged to be in the interest of a peoples economic welfare is one of the main reasons why countries wish to have their own governments in the first place.

E) From the standpoint of private capital it is normal to want minimal interference by the State with private profit-making activities. EU law drastically limits the possibility of such interference. Any national law which seeks to enforce a national common good in the economic sphere must give way to EU law in areas covered by the Treaties.

F) Most EU laws and court cases before the EU Court of Justice (ECJ) are concerned with enforcing these rules. The constitution of the EU, the Treaty of Rome and its amending treaties, is in effect the first State or quasi-State constitution in history to be drawn up entirely in the interest of big business, without the slightest popular or democratic input into its making. The EUs foundational four freedoms free movement of goods, services, capital and labour - enshrine the basic principles of classical laissez-faire as constitutional imperatives which no government or elected parliament may legally change or violate, regardless of the wishes of their voters.

G) Each successive EU Treaty was sold to the different peoples across Europe as a modest incremental step towards getting more jobs, growth and higher living standards. Yet each took powers away from national parliaments and governments and the citizens which elected these, turning the Nation States of Europe into provincial shells, subverting their national democracy and making their citizens subject to a supranational political and economic elite which runs an EU system whose workings most people poorly understand. This is the Great Deception of the EU integration project, a constitutional revolution by stealth.

H) The 2009 Treaty of Lisbon embodied the provisions of the 2004 Treaty Establishing a Constitution for Europe, which sought to establish the European Union directly on the basis of its own Constitution, just as with any State. When this was rejected in 2005 by French and Dutch voters in referendums its provisions were repackaged virtually unchanged and adopted indirectly in the form of amendments to the existing EU Treaties in the Lisbon Treaty.

Lisbon provided for the abolition of the European Community, which was the legal repository of supranational powers up to then, and its replacement by a constitutionally new European Union, with full legal personality separate from that of Member States for the first time. It made citizens of the different EU Member States into citizens of this constitutionally new federal-type Union for the first time also, giving them a real second citizenship in addition to their national citizenships, just as citizens of regional states like California or Bavaria are citizens also of their respective Federal States. EU law has primacy over national law and the claims of EU citizenship have primacy over the claims of national citizenship in any cases of conflict between the two.

I) For the past three centuries the separation of powers and functions between the Executive (Government), Legislature(Parliament) and Judiciary has been acknowledged as the necessary basis of democratic states and fundamental to maintaining the liberty of citizens. This principle goes out the window in the EU. There the exclusive power of proposing new supranational laws rests with the EUs Executive or Government, the Commission in Brussels

J) The EU Commission is more a government than a commission. Its members are nominated by national governments, not elected. Thus a condition for proposing supranational laws in the EU is that one should NOT be elected. Once appointed Commissioners' allegiance is to the EU, not their own countries. French President Charles De Gaulle described this body aptly as a conclave of technocrats without a country, responsible to no one.

As well as administering the existing EU rules and having the monopoly of proposing new ones, the Commission has quasi-judicial powers as well. It can adjudicate on competition cases and impose fines on EU members. Even though there may be an appeal to the Court of Justice, the Commission acts as if it were a lower court. It draws up and administers its own budget, with minimal democratic control. Its president can hire, move and sack individual Commissioners. It is supported by some 3000 secret working groups, whose members are not publicly known, where most Commission decisions are actually made and where corporate lobbyists wield their influence. Only 2% of Commission decisions come up at meetings of the full Commission.

K) The Council of Ministers is called a Council, but it makes laws just like a Parliament, on the basis of the Commission's proposals. It makes these laws in secret, often in the form of package-deals between its members, and it takes some executive decisions. Approximately 85% of EU directives and regulations are agreed privately in some 300 committees of civil servants from the EU Member States which service the Council and they are approved without debate at Council level. Only 15% of EU laws are actually discussed or negotiated at Council level. The formal adoption of these laws now takes place in public, although the negotiations leading up to them are private. The Council of Ministers is responsible as a collective to nobody and is irremovable as a body.

L) The European Parliament is more a Council than a Parliament. It cannot initiate any EU law although it can amend draft laws which come from the Commission and Council as long as the Commission agrees. If the Commission disagrees, all 27 Member States must agree to allow an amendment by the Parliament to be adopted. If the Parliament by an absolute majority of its members opposes a draft directive from the Commission it cannot become law, but this rarely happens. The Parliament has the final say over the EU budget except for agriculture. If it vetoes new budget proposals, the previous years EU budget is repeated.

M) The Court of Justice is not just a Court but is also a Constitution-maker, with constitutional powers similar to what some Parliaments have. It is hard to think of a single area of national life nowadays that is unaffected by EU law. In most years the majority of laws and statutory instruments put through national Parliaments now come from Brussels. There are over 100,000 EU rules, international agreements and legal acts binding on or affecting citizens across the EU. It is calculated that in 2013 there are in force 8,937 EU Regulations; 1,953 EU Directives; 15,561 Decisions; 2,948 Other Legal Acts; 4,733 international agreements; 4,843 non-binding legal acts, which may however bind if agreed; 52,000 agreed EU international standards from CEN, Cenelec, Etsi etc. and 11,961 verdicts from the EU Court of Justice. The EU Treaties prevent voters at national level, their Parliaments and Governments from abolishing or amending a single one of these legal measures.

N) Every time new EU treaties abolish further national vetoes and shift law-making for new policy areas from the national to the supranational level, national Parliaments and citizens lose power correspondingly, for they no longer have the final say in the areas concerned. Simultaneously individual Government Ministers, who are members of the executive arm of government at national level and must have a national parliamentary majority behind them for their policies, are turned into legislators for 500 million Europeans as members of the 27-person Council of Ministers which makes EU laws and rules. This body constitutes a committee of legislators, which is the classical definition of an oligarchy.

National politicians thereby obtain an intoxicating increase of personal power for themselves at the expense of their national Parliaments and voters, even though they may be open to being outvoted by a qualified majority on the EU Council. This is the reason Government Ministers tend to be so Europhile and to cooperate so willingly in denuding their own Parliaments and peoples of power.

The more policy areas shift from the national level to Brussels, the more power shifts simultaneously from national legislatures to national executives, and the more the power of individual Ministers and bureaucrats increases. Keeping on good terms with their fellow members of the exclusive Council of Ministers "club" of EU lawmakers becomes more important for national Ministers at EU level than being awkward in defence of their own peoples' interests. Increasingly they have come to see their function vis-à-vis one another as delivering their national electorates in support of further EU or Euro zone integration.

O) A Member State on its own cannot decide a single European law. Its people, parliament and government may be opposed to an EU law, its government representative on the Council of Ministers may vote against it, but they are bound to obey it nonetheless once it is adopted by qualified majority Council vote. This devalues the vote of every individual citizen. Each policy area that is transferred from the national level to the supranational level devalues it further. This reduces the political ability of citizens to decide what is the national common good and deprives them of the most fundamental right of membership of a democracy, the right to make their own laws, to elect their representatives to make them, and to change those representatives if they dislike the laws they make.

European integration is therefore not just a process of depriving Europe's Nation States and peoples of their national democracy and independence. Within each Member State it represents a gradual coup by government executives against legislatures and by politicians against the citizens who elect them. What were once national politics become provincial politics. Citizens more and more sense this and it depoliticizes them in turn. The EU has hollowed out the Nation State, leaving its traditional institutions formally in place but with their most important functions transferred outside, to the external EU level. It turns the State itself into an enemy of its own people, while clamping a form of financial feudalism on Europe.

P) From EU to Eurozone: Seventeen of the current 27 EU Member States have adopted the euro. Ten EU Members retain their national currencies. The Eurozone rather than the overall EU is now the main terrain of Franco-German ambitions to establish a European superpower with themselves in the driving seat although, as stated above, it is increasingly obvious that Germany is the real driver, with France occasionally helping with the steering. Their leaders are frank in stating their ambitions:-

Here is Germanys Chancellor Merkel on the current debt crisis: "We have a shared currency but no real economic or political union. This must change. If we were to achieve this, therein lies the opportunity of the crisis And beyond the economic, after the shared currency, we will perhaps dare to take further steps, for example for a European army" (Karlspreis speech, May 2010).

Here is French President Sarkozy a year later: By the end of the summer Angela Merkel and I will be making joint proposals on economic government in the eurozone. We will give a clearer vision of the way we see the Eurozone evolving. Our ambition is to seize the Greek crisis to make a quantum leap in Eurozone government. The very words were once taboo. (Now) it has entered the European vocabulary (Irish Times, 23 July 2011).

And Sarkozy again in November 2011: There are 27 of us. Clearly, down the line, we will have to include the Balkans. There will be 32, 33 or 34 of us. No one thinks that federalism, total integration, will be possible with 33, 34 or 35 states. Clearly there will be a two-speed Europe: one speed that moves towards a Federation for the Eurozone and one speed for a Confederation within the European Union.

Q) The project of EU/Eurozone integration is at bottom an attempt to overturn the democratic heritage of the French Revolution, the right of nations to self-determination, national independence and national democracy, across much of Europe in the interest of powerful political and economic elites. As the world moves towards 200 States and more, this collective right to democracy within a State is now accepted as a basic principle of international law and the foundational value of democratic States and democratic politics within them - but not by the elites of the EU, who have subverted their own national democracies.

R) The Euro-integration project therefore makes the classical national question, the issue of national independence, of who makes the laws and rules of a society, whether the elected representatives of Europe's different national communities, or un-elected rulers and elites from outside, the key issue of European politics in our time. This is true even for countries like France, Germany, Britain, Spain etc. which were imperial powers themselves not long ago, with centuries of history behind them in which they dominated and laid down the law for others.

The leaders of Germany and France, backed up by the Brussels Commission, speak of the current financial crisis as "a beneficial crisis" for the Euro federalist project and seek to use it to attain their long-nurtured dream of a United States of Europe under Franco-German hegemony, at least for the 17 Eurozone countries. The vision of the Eurocrats is that the 17 peoples of the Eurozone must completely abandon their national independence and democracy, reversing centuries of European history in the process, in order to save the ill-starred euro-currency.

S) The more the EU-elites and bureaucracy push ahead with the integration project, the more national voters everywhere dislike it and resent it. The more hostile will be popular reactions against its proponents when it implodes, as eventually it must. The ever-growing numbers of opponents of EU-integration across Europe now constitute an international movement in defence of national democracy and the Nation State as the locus of that democracy.

Tuesday 15 January 2013

Fear and Loathing - Making The Case For The EU

It really is truly amazing the level of debate that has begun to surround the subject of our country's possible withdrawal from the EU, or "Brexit", despite the fact that the debate has now been raging for the past thirty years or more, off and on; and even though our beloved leader, the completely useless "dumb-ass" Dave is unlikely to ask us the vital question in the foreseeable future.

As Friday, the 18th January 2013, draws closer; and "dumb-ass" prepares to give his long awaited speech on the vexatious issue of Europe, it is perhaps worth noting first of all that the date of this speech appears to have been suddenly changed, in order that "dumb-ass" didn't upset the Germans, the French, or indeed the Americans, all three of whom are celebrating nationalist events that are clearly more important than the future direction of our own country....apparently! Still, it is nice to know where our Prime Minister's priorities are when it comes to offending national sentiments, Americans first, the Germans and French, second and third, with the great British public fourth. Lucky for us I suppose that the Belgians, Dutch, Greeks, Spaniards or the Italians weren't celebrating something important, otherwise we'd be waiting all year for "dumb-ass" Dave's supposedly landmark speech!

Still, I digress! Considering how important the current debate is over Europe, one might have expected that the level of discourse, between the for and against supporter's, the pro's and anti's, the Europhiles and the Eurosceptics might have improved somewhat, given that the subject is supposed to be so vital to the economic, social and political future of our country. Sadly though, if the purportedly high brow Guardian pages are anything to go by that is a going to be a forlorn hope, as the sum total of any serious debate seems to consist of most posters simply repeating the same old worn out propaganda that's been around over the past forty years or so.

Following on from "Calamity" Clegg's highly suspect claims that three million British jobs are reliant on our EU membership, which I've previously dealt with on an earlier post, other Euro-supporters anonymously claim that a British withdrawal will result in the UK going to hell in a handcart; that our entire economy will collapse in on itself; that we'll be left isolated and alone; that economic superpowers like China will refuse to trade with us; that all foreign owned companies (financial and manufacturing), currently based in the UK, will simply relocate their offices and factories across the Channel; and that London's position as one of the major financial capital's of the world will be fatally undermined. The only problem however, is that most of the people posting these dire warning of economic, social and political Armageddon do not provide not a single shred of proof to support their assertions, which makes you wonder why? Okay, we've had the likes of Richard Branson, Martin Sorrell, etc. making the case for staying in Europe and even for deeper integration, although I'm mindful of the fact that when Mr Sorrell was asked by Andrew Neil to name one company that had reconsidered its decision to invest in Britain, on the basis of the ongoing European debate, he failed to name a single solitary organisation, either because he couldn't, or chose not to do so for some undisclosed reason?

Of course, it is noticeable that an awful lot of the debate being held on newspaper forums is being driven by foreigners, who are pretending to be British, but whose writing skills, or rather lack of them, tend to give them away. Considering that it's the stereotypical "little Englander" that's commonly blamed for stoking nationalist fervour within the UK, it really is remarkable to note the level of bile and vitriol aimed at the whole of the British people, the majority of whom are generally quite relaxed, or possibly indifferent to their European neighbours, by a small number of European based posters, who obviously don't like the British to begin with, but still seek to influence an entirely British debate by pretending that they're one of us.

For all of the dire warnings of the economic cataclysm that's awaiting us, should we ever get a straightforward IN/OUT referendum, it is interesting that not a single one of these same doom-mongers have managed to successfully answer the following question; "just what are the main economic, social and political advantages of Britain's continued membership of the European Union"?

No doubt the most obvious answer is gaining access to a potential market of 500 million people, deliberately overlooking the fact that there's a substantial subsidy being paid for this access, of an estimated £1500 per year, being paid by every man, woman and child in the UK. No doubt they would also forget to mention that British sales to Europe are continuing to fall, as the Eurozone crisis steadily impoverishes many millions of people throughout Europe, with only around 40% of UK exports going directly to European markets, as opposed to the "more than half" that the Euro-fanatics commonly expound to underpin their position.

Another argument employed by the Europhile lobby, is that Britain has a louder and stronger voice in the world through its membership of the European Community. However, such a claim is obviously absurd, when one considers that Great Britain was a founding member of most of the leading international bodies that encompass the globe; and is one of the five permanent members of the United Nations. The truth is that the European Union gains far more from having the UK as a member, as the British bring with them centuries of international trade, diplomacy and influence, far exceeding that of its continental neighbours, including France and Germany. Even though the UK has willingly sacrificed many of its trading rights and historical Commonwealth relationships, in order to satisfy the requirements of the comparatively new European Union, it is a nonsense for anyone to suggest that the hundreds of years of shared history with the likes of Australia, New Zealand, Canada, India and Pakistan, along with the dozens of other Commonwealth countries and territories, would be worthless to an independent Britain outside of the European Union.

Critics of a withdrawal or renegotiation of Britain's EU membership have also suggested that a number of large foreign-owned British based manufacturers might simply close their doors and move across the Channel, in order to retain the benefits of being in the EU. However, when one considers that British consumers actually purchased two million new cars in 2011 alone, where would be the economic advantage of moving away from that ready made, on your doorstep marketplace? Bearing in mind that only some 150,000 workers are now employed in the UK by automotive companies and the billions of pounds that car companies have invested in their new plant and equipment here in the UK, isn't it just as likely that they'd simply adapt to our new relationship with the EU and carry on trading as usual. It has to be said that few if any car manufacturers have publicly stated their opposition to Britain having a new relationship with the EU, suggesting that they recognise that they will have to adapt their business models to suit the prevailing economic climate, whatever that happens to be. It is also worth remembering that the UK automotive industry generates an estimated £50 billion worth of revenue, only 50% of which is exported, leaving some £25 billion being generated by the home market, a not inconsiderable sum. 

Opponents of a British withdrawal or renegotiation of our EU membership speak of Britain as a nervous, divided and inexperienced country, populated by a people who are lazy, stupid and unimaginative, which we most certainly are not. Okay, we might grumble and gripe, but that is the nature of a people who live in a settled and long-standing democracy, where the rule of law applies. It's not a perfect country by any means, but can be relied upon to bear the heaviest of burdens when the future good of our country is at stake; and it would be a mistake for anyone to think otherwise. Britain's aerospace and pharmaceutical industries are both in the top tier of their respective groups in the world, often producing products that are unavailable elsewhere and therefore immune from any effects this country's membership of the EU may have in other manufacturing sectors. 

The truth of the matter is that Britain has some of the most highly skilled and adaptable workers on the planet and the ability to train more should they be needed. We have some of the lowest production costs in Western Europe, as well as access to some of the world's finest research, design and development teams working today. We have a regulatory environment designed to encourage profit and growth and highly competitive tax levels for those who want to benefit from living and working here. Additional benefits for companies considering an investment into the UK include; its affordability, a single language, familiar and standardised business practices, economic and political stability, a generally law-abiding society, a healthy business environment and the sheer ease of doing business in the first place. 

Saturday 12 January 2013

3 Million More Lies From The Euro-Supporters Club

So, according to Nick Clegg, if the UK were to ever consider leaving the European Union, some three million jobs British would be at stake, around 10% of our total workforce, which should make us all stop and think about what we'd wish for, right? I mean, ever since he's quoted that suspiciously high figure, newspaper headlines and forums around the country have been awash with posts from members of the Euro-supporters community, berating those who would rather have us outside of the community, categorically stating that three million British jobs aren't just at risk, but will definitely disappear, if anyone dare suggest that we leave the EU, never mind put it to any sort of publicly binding vote.

However, perhaps not surprisingly, when one tries to investigate the accuracy of Mr Clegg's claims, it is a very different story; and it quickly becomes apparent that the Deputy Prime Minister has chosen to deliberately misrepresent an old set of questionable statistics, ostensibly for his own political advantage. In other words, Nick Clegg has taken an out-of-date set of employment figures, amended the wording of the results; and falsely turned an estimate into a statement of fact, turning a could be, into a probably is, into a definitely will be. Put another way, it's little more than sheer political propaganda, orchestrated by a man who has already proved himself to be completely devoid of principle; and who will say or do anything in support of his beloved European Project, even if that means misleading the British public.

The truth of the matter is that there appears to be one single source for these fabled three million job losses and that is a report issued by the Department of Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR), which estimated that some 3.2 million were linked DIRECTLY or INDIRECTLY with British exports to the EU. As you will no doubt notice, in the report there is a clear distinction being made between jobs that were linked directly or indirectly to Britain's EU membership, with no specific figures being offered to identify those that were entirely dependent on our membership of the community. It is also worth pointing out that these figures will undoubtedly include British jobs servicing non-EU customers, as well as those overseas markets affected by the Rotterdam Effect, where goods being delivered to non-EU customers are transported through European ports and are therefore treated as European exports, as opposed to anything else; and artificially inflating the amount of British exports being delivered to the European Community.

The excellent "Full Facts" organisation has also investigated several other sources to find out the truthfulness of Mr Clegg's statement, including a report from 2000, which was produced by South Bank University. However, "Full Facts" found that the report in question was unreliable at best, given that the authors had failed to include and calculate a number of significant factors regarding Britain's overall trade figures.

Yet another report considered by "Full Facts" was the one issued by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR), which found that an estimated 3.2 million British jobs were directly associated with the UK's membership of the European Union. However, as with the earlier South Bank and the later BERR reports, the authors of the NIESR report were forced to admit that there was no clear evidence that any or indeed all of these jobs would be lost in the event that Britain withdrew from the European Community.

"Full Facts" also looked at a report written by the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) in 2006, to see if that had been the source for Mr Clegg's lost jobs claims. After careful investigation by their reporters, it was found that that the BIS had not actually issued a formal report as such and departmental officials were unable to provide any statistical data to underpin their own assertions. There was a suggestion however that the Lib Dem leadership might have used figures released by the European Commission themselves, although that body's response actually stated "the single market has contributed to increased growth of at least 1.85% and the creation of 2.75 million jobs across the EU since 1997", which is hardly a ringing endorsement of the community, in terms of creating widespread employment!

At the end of their investigation into the specific claim made by the Deputy Prime Minister with such certainty, the "Full Facts" reporters were inclined to believe that the direct job benefits for the UK, resulting from its membership of the European Community, was marginal at best, equating to only around 1% of GDP; and indicating that a UK withdrawal from the EU would be equally marginal, which is not what the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, was telling the people of Britain during his radio broadcast.

In reality, nobody truly knows what the likely job outcome would be, in the event that the British people were finally offered a national referendum on the European Question, although that is highly unlikely to happen, given the current mindset of our two major political parties. That said though, it goes without saying that IN or OUT of Europe, Britain and its continental neighbours will continue to trade with one another, now and in the future, although on what terms remains a mystery. Consider this however. The top 20 importers into the UK, a market of some 60 million people, include the likes of Germany, who are top of the list of our trading partners, as well as the Netherlands, Norway, France, Belgium, Italy, Ireland, Spain, Sweden, Poland, and Denmark. The question is; would any of these countries want to fall out with the UK, one of their most important markets, just because we didn't want to belong to their club anymore? According to the Euro-supporters club in Britain, the Europhiles like David Cameron, Nick Clegg, Michael Heseltine, et al, if we were to choose to go our own way, these historic trading partners and defence allies might choose to punish us by imposing tariffs on our goods or services going into their community! Why? Why would any modern state choose to initiate a series of trade wars that benefit nobody; and certainly not their domestic manufacturers, who rely on their markets in Britain to generate commercial profits, to pay their worker's wages and buy their raw materials? To suggest that any such actions would be taken by our near neighbours in order to punish us, is pure fantasy politics, dreamt up by the likes of Nick Clegg, David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Ed Balls to scare us all into a nervous compliance, whilst they busy themselves with building their longed for United States of Europe.