Thursday, 11 February 2016

Dr Lee McGowan's shameful dishonesty over Northern Ireland's prospects outside of the EU

I have just come across an opinion piece published under the auspices of the Queens Policy unit in June last year by their Senior Lecturer in Politics and International Studies at Queens University of Belfast, Dr Lee McGowan.

In this opinion piece entitled "Brexit: Implications for Northern Ireland", Dr McGowan makes a number of very dubious claims which it is impossible to believe a senior lecturer in politics would make out of ignorance.

Let's examine his "salient points":
  • Border Controls: In theory ‘Brexit’ means the creation of a physical international border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland (i.e. the imposition of passport checks and customs posts) that will impact on trade and tourism. Is this a repartition?

    As a senior lecturer in politics in Northern Ireland, Dr McGowan must surely know that the Common Travel Area that abolished border controls between the UK and the Republic of Ireland dates back to 1923, long before the EU existed. This bilateral agreement has nothing to do with the EU. The agreement was reaffirmed as recently as 2011 by both the British and Irish governments and is so important to the Republic of Ireland that they turned down membership of the Schengen area to keep the Common Travel Area with the UK.
  • Political Dimension: The ‘Brexit’ issue will be highly politically sensitive for the political parties which are tied into the efforts at building an agreed post-conflict society. Indeed, Brexit would help reinforce the division of the island? The 1998 Belfast Agreement itself was premised on both UK and Irish membership of the European Union. How far will ‘Brexit’ impact on the North-South dimension of relations between Stormont and Dublin?

    The 1998 Belfast Agreement mentions the EU only twice: once to give the British-Irish Council that it created the responsibility to consider the EU dimension of relevant matters and another in a declaration of friendship between the two nations, describing us as "friendly neighbours and as partners in the European Union". There is nothing in the Belfast Agreement that even vaguely suggests that being a member of the EU is required or even preferable for the agreement to work.
  • Business and Employment: Although the UK provides a highly important internal market for Northern Irish goods, European markets also matter. A Brexit might mean the UK no longer has access to the single market and in the Northern Ireland context this is hugely important as much of region’s economy as some 55% of manufacturing goes to the EU and most of this to the Irish Republic. Does a ‘Brexit’ impact on competitive advantage in the UK? Given that Northern Ireland is a border economy, anything that interrupts and hinders the free flow of goods and labour impacts negatively on the Northern Irish economy. It has been estimated in a recent report for the NI Assembly’s Enterprise Committee that the Northern Ireland economy would lose some €1 billion per annum following a Brexit and face a 3% decline in GDP. Is this sustainable?

    There is no suggestion that the UK wouldn't have access to the single market after leaving the EU. The EU's Lisbon Treaty requires the EU to have friendly relations with neighbours that encourage prosperity. The UK is the EU's largest single market - they sell more to us than they sell to anyone else in the world. In contrast, the EU is a declining market for the UK responsible for a dwindling percentage of the UK's export market. The report claiming that the Northern Irish economy could decline by 3% was written by an Open University professor by the name of Dr Leslie Budd but he didn't come up with the 3% figure, it was Deutsche Bank which is openly campaigning against the UK leaving the EU.
  • Farming: Currently the operation of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy accounts for some 82% of farm income across Northern Ireland. The figure of aid for the period 2014-20 is estimated at some €3billion. Is it to be expected that the UK Treasury would replace these funds with UK monies following Brexit? If it doesn’t what would happen to the farming and related agri-food sectors?

    There is nothing to suggest that the British government wouldn't support farmers when we leave the EU. In fact, with more money available to support vital industries such as agriculture when we're not handing over £55m a day to the EU there is scope to provide more support to farmers. At the moment the EU controls agriculture in the UK in its entirety. The Ministry of Agriculture, Food & Rural Affairs is nothing more than an enforcer of EU directives and collector of fines. Northern Irish farmers - like those elsewhere in the UK - are required to follow a common set of rules applied across the EU that cannot possibly address the realities of farming on the north east coast of Northern Ireland at the same time as those in the olive groves of Italy. Farmers have nothing to fear from leaving the EU and taking back control of the agriculture industry.
  • Structural Funds and Peace Support: Northern Ireland has benefitted considerably from structural funds and peace monies. Indeed, some €2.4 billion was received from the EU between 2007 and 2013 with a broadly similar amount being available between 2014 and 2020. This would stop following a ‘Brexit’. What would be the implications for Northern Ireland as it develops as a post-conflict society?
    EU structural funds would stop when we leave the EU but that funding is paid for out of the money we pay in and it's a tiny percentage of the obscene amount of money we pay to be a member of this political project. It costs every man, woman and child more than £1,200 per year for us to be in the EU. With a population of 1.8m, that means the cost of being in the EU to Northern Ireland is £2.16bn per year. If it costs almost as much to be in the EU for one year as the EU gives back to Northern Ireland in 6 years, that's hardly value for money.
  • Universities, Research and Student Mobility: Is there a danger that world class research might suffer outside the EU? It is generally not known how much the EU boosts UK science and innovation in terms of the freedom of movement for talent and gifted European scientists, let alone access to considerable financial support through initiatives such as Horizon 2020. Brexit could also bring the Erasmus student exchanges to an end and could limit the opportunities for NI students studying in other parts of the EU.

    The Erasmus student exchange programme operates in 33 countries. There are only 28 members of the EU. Clearly being in the EU is not a requirement to be part of this programme. Nor is there any reason to believe that the EU would suddenly decide to impose visa restrictions on the UK once we leave or vice versa. The UK ranks joint first in the world with Germany for the number of countries that passport holders can travel to without a visa. UK passport holders can travel to 173 countries without a visa currently, the idea that the British government would seek to reverse that trend is nonsense.
  • Constitutional Futures: Would/should any decision by the UK government following a UK vote for a ‘Brexit’ take into account the voting preferences of majorities in all four constituent parts of the UK. If not, Scotland’s current preference to stay in the EU might trigger a second referendum on Scottish independence. Should Northern Ireland insist that its vote is respected? What should the response be from Northern Ireland if it returns a majority different to that of the UK as a whole?

    There is no reason why a so-called double majority should be required for the EU referendum any more than it is for a general election. If this principle was applied to all votes then we would never again see a functioning British government as no party can or will ever get a majority in all four member states of the UK. If it isn't applied to all votes then what makes this one different to all the others?
There was a time when academics were seekers of truth and sought a career drumming that truth into the heads of others. Nowadays it seems that they are increasingly turning to education as a means to indoctrinate generations of impressionable youngsters with their political views, no matter how dishonest they have to be in the process. Dr McGowan would appear to be a case in point.

RMT union to campaign to leave the EU

The RMT have voted to campaign to leave the EU, branding it "pro-austerity, anti-worker".

General Secretary of the RMT, Mike Cash, said:
EU policies are at odds with the aspirations of this union as the various treaties and directives are demanding the privatisation of our rail and ferry industries.

The EU is also secretly negotiating trade deals with the US and Canada which will decimate our health and education sectors and hand huge powers to transnational corporations over nation states and their governments.

The Tories will be campaigning to stay in the EU come any referendum as they support this right wing, neo-liberal, anti-worker agenda.

Camden Conservative Councillor fined for failing to repair rental property

A Conservative councillor in Camden has been fined £20k and ordered to pay costs and compensation of £7k after failing to carry out repairs to a property he rented out.

Cllr Jonny Buckwell was ordered to carry out repairs to a rental property by Camden Council but failed to comply with the order. He pleaded guilty at Highbury Corner Magistrates' Court where he was convicted and ordered to pay a total of £27k.

France can't legally terminate the treaty that allows UK officers to patrol our border in Calais

Project Fear is busy telling people that if we leave the EU the French will cancel the agreement that allows UK border officials to enforce border controls in France.

The Sangatte Protocol was signed in 1991 and allowed for juxtaposed border controls in France and the UK. This was a bilateral treaty signed by the French and British governments, it has nothing to do with our membership of the EU.

The Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (which both France and the UK signed) says that a treaty can only be terminated in accordance with the terms of the treaty or by mutual consent. There is nothing in the Sangatte Protocol that allows either France or the UK to terminate the treaty unilaterally so under international treaty law both France and the UK must agree to its termination.

The EU remainers portray the agreement with France as a one-sided affair that means we can police our borders in France and only we get any benefit but that's not the case. Under this agreement, the French border is moved to Dover and Folkestone where French officials police not only their own borders but the gateway to the Schengen zone from the UK. It's far from one-sided and the benefits of the agreement are felt across the 26 Schengen countries (4 of which aren't even in the EU).

There is no doubt that we get a lot of benefit from being able to police our frontier in France but we shouldn't downplay the benefit to France and the other 25 Schengen countries. If France were to illegally terminate the bilateral treaty that allows this arrangement as a punitive measure for leaving the EU then what would actually change? France would still have an obligation to provide border security and passport and visa controls on the French side of the border, regardless of whether the frontier was in France or England. The border would still be enforced but illegal immigrants who made it through French border controls would end up being caught and processed on UK soil rather than French. It would make the UK responsible for their deportation but outside of the EU we would have our own immigration laws under which to deport them without the EU courts thwarting every attempt at removing illegal immigrants as we are entitled to do under international law with those not claiming asylum in the first safe country they arrive in. While we're hobbled by the EU courts and EU laws the juxtaposition of borders has a lot of value but without that straightjacket its value is significantly diminished.

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Yellow Dave bottles out of debating with eurosceptics

David Cameron has refused to take part in any televised debates with eurosceptics in the run up to the EU referendum and will only take part in a Q&A session if he is the only person answering questions.

Yellow belly Dave is particularly scared of sharing a platform with Nigel Farage after seeing what happened to Nick Clegg before the EU elections when Farage wiped the floor with him. He has consistently avoided going head to head with Farage knowing that the same fate awaits him.

The Electoral Reform Society and even some of his own MPs have criticised Cameron for running scared, saying that public debates between eurosceptics and leading europhiles like Cameron are important.

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Two SNP councillors accused of racism

One SNP councillor has been suspended and another is under investigation by the party following accusations of racism.

Dundee City Councillor, Craig Melville, was suspended by the SNP a couple of weeks ago and sacked from his job as assistant to Deputy Leader of the SNP, Stewart Hosie, after allegedly sending racist text messages to Humza Yousaf, the SNP's international development minister.

Now North Lanarkshire councillor and Holyrood candidate, Julie McAnulty, has been accused of making racist comments to an SNP activist. Cllr McAnulty is accused of telling activist Sheena McCulloch that she wants to "get the pakis out of the party". She is already involved in a dispute with fellow councillor, Dr Imtiaz Majid, who claims that she and 7 other colleagues only walked out of a meeting where he was appointed convenor of their constituency association because he's not white.

Channel 4 uncovers evidence of Conservative Party overspending by tens of thousands on by-elections

Channel 4 News have uncovered evidence of tens of thousands of pounds of overspending by the Conservatives in three key by-elections.

Invoices obtained by Channel 4 appear to show that the Conservatives overspent on the Newark, Rochester & Strood and Clacton by-elections by around £100k. All three by-elections had defectors contesting the seat for UKIP.

The alleged overspends relate to hotel and hospitality costs for Conservative Party staff and activists working on the campaigns. Details have been passed on to the Police and the Electoral Commission.

Head over the the Channel 4 News website for the full detail.

Oops, busted!

Monday, 8 February 2016

Cameron claims illegal immigrants in England will set up camps in England to get into England when we leave the EU

David Cameron has bizarrely claimed that when we leave the EU we will see Calais "jungle" style illegal immigrant camps all over south east England.

The "Jungle" camp in Calais is home to tens of thousands of illegal immigrants waiting for the opportunity to illegally travel to England. It is rife with violent and sexual crime directed at their fellow illegal immigrants and to lorry drivers who try to stop them stowing away in their trailers. Various left wing political organisations, trade unions and groups of so-called "anarchist" agitators are in Calais helping the illegal immigrants break into the Channel Tunnel and storm ferries and lorries in a dangerous game of one-upmanship.

The biggest flaw in Cameron's claim is that if the illegal immigrants so desperate to get to England that they'll live in filth for years spending day after day trying to get here illegally are already in England then they won't be setting up bases this side of the border to smuggle themselves through the border they've already crossed. Unless the Tories have got a plan to declare independence as the Conservative Republic of Kent and put up border fences to keep the Brighton communists at bay ... that would explain it and it's probably one of their contingency plans.

Outside of the EU we will be able to control our borders, allowing only the quantity and quality of people that the country needs to settle here. The bilateral treaty that the UK has with France that allows UK authorities to police the border on the French side has nothing to do with the EU and leaving the EU would have no effect on it.

Nigel Farage speech at Grassroots Out meeting in Manchester

UKIP supporting Grassroots Out

Nigel Farage and the other UKIP MEPs have unanimously given their backing to Grassroots Out.

GO was formed recently to bring together the disparate "Leave" campaigns. 15 groups are expected to come together under the GO campaign which will be applying to be designated the official leave campaign.

Each of the Leave campaign groups - including UKIP, Leave.EU, Vote Leave, Better off Out, Bruges Group and the Freedom Association - will have a representative on the GO board and keep their own identity with GO co-ordinating efforts.

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Radio Free UK #37 out now - and now streaming on TuneIn Radio!

Dear UKIP Bloggerati consumers!

No funny picture this week (there are only so many hours in a day) - maybe we should go metric and have 25 hours in a day... the extra one could be handy :)

The big news is that as well as being available on demand from our website, and on iTunes, and on YouTube, and on any RSS feed player, we are also now streaming on TuneIn Radio!

Its early days and a bit experimental but this opens up lots of possibilities for extra material and interaction.

Currently the weekly friday show is played through starting at 7:00 12:00 and 5:00 with additional material in between - it may be things that we didn't include in the show or things we might be including in a future show - but it should all be interesting and relevant - so you can listen all day, every day!

So what have we got for you this week?... loads.

The EU referendum issue is moving quickly - we had to ditch a load of material from the start of the week, as it was completely superseded by the end of the week! 

So our first section is our usual updates on the EU referendum leave/brexit campaigns.

Then we have some great articles looking at the deal that Cameron is actually negotiating - all pretty negative about it to be honest!

Then we have our regulars:

Scottie K is back in his cab... but for how long? Things are changing in London.

Jake The Writer helpfully reminds us that not all the news is EU related.

Godfrey Bloom raises some serious concerns over EU referendum 'dirty tricks'

Better Off Out continue telling us what is wrong with our fishing industry under EU  control and how we can go about saving it - with their second 'Save British Fish' campaign podcast.

Then we have a magazine section of mixed entertaining and informative content - the best bits from elsewhere that that you may have missed

A short section of three items on womens safey in the EU - including a heartfelt plea by a 16 year old German girl driven to make her first YouTube video. Which we have had dubbed - credits on the video on our YouTube channel.

Finally our audio book continues - chapter 2 part 2. And the programme isl rounded off with a tale from Batsby - fully produced by Alan Taylor Shearer.

Wow - how do we get it all done eh?

I really don't know, but we do - so do enjoy it, and if you want to help please, please contact  me at we could use wordpress skills,youtube skills, facebook skills, google plus skills etc... one man can only do so much!

Listen on and Enjoy.


Friday, 5 February 2016

Fareham Conservative councillor charged with benefit fraud

A Conservative councillor in Fareham has been charged with benefit fraud.

Hampshire county councillor, George Ringrow, has appeared before magistrates to answer two charges of benefit fraud amounting to £32k.

Cllr Ringrow is county councillor for Fareham Town on Hampshire County Council, sits on a number of committees including (ironically) the council's audit committee and sits on the Portsmouth Diocesan Synod.

Thursday, 4 February 2016

UKIP Party Political Broadcast February 2016

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Cameron's capitulation to the EU

David Cameron has returned from Brussels for the first of his Chamberlain moments waving his magic piece of paper that's going to make everything better.

President of the EU Council, Donald Tusk, has written a letter to Devious Dave with a list of compromises to the compromises to his original "demands".

Here are the salient points:
  • An "emergency brake" on in-work benefits for EU immigrants that will introduce a graduated benefit entitlement starting from no in-work benefits to full entitlement after four years. Tax credits, child benefit, disability benefits, etc., won't be covered by the "emergency brake" which would only come into effect if the EU decides the strain on the benefit system is intolerable because of sustained significant immigration from EU member states and would only last for a fixed period of time.
  • EU immigrants will still be allowed to send child benefit home. Cameron made a manifesto promise of preventing EU immigrants from sending child benefit home but that's gone out of the window. Instead child benefit will be index linked to the cost of living in the country the money is being sent to. Whether this means child benefit will be paid at a higher rate when it's being sent back to countries with higher costs of living remains to be seen.
  • New rules to prevent sham marriages to get residency rights and work permits even though sham marriages are already illegal. Entirely pointless.
  • A "legal statement" that ever closer union won't apply to the UK and a vague commitment that at some point in the future they will look at writing that into a future treaty if the leaders at that time can find a way to agree to it. The "ever closer union" statement written into the Treaty of Rome and the Lisbon Treaty has no legal standing whatsoever and leaving it in treaties or taking it out will make no difference to the agenda of those that guide the EU down its federalist path.
  • A "red card" system to block EU legislation if 55% of member votes (countries get more that one vote depending on population) are opposed to it. This is nothing new, the EU Council of Ministers has to pass EU legislation and if 15 of the 28 leaders oppose it then it doesn't become law. It's nothing new and in practical terms, pretty much entirely useless as that level of consensus it almost unheard of.
  • At some point in the future a new treaty will probably say that the €uro isn't the sole currency of the EU if the leaders at the time can agree some text to have that meaning.
  • New rules to say that UK taxpayers' money can't be used to bail out the €uro. Just as UK taxpayers' money can't be used now to bail out the €uro but has been by deceitful means. This is another meaningless statement which says it's going to do something that is already done.
  • EU member states will only be allowed to talk about things that affect all EU member states with all EU member states and not just €urozone countries. It is not within the remit of the EU to prevent bilateral or multilateral discussions between members of the €urozone so this would only apply to official meetings of the €urozone and its institutions. In other words, there would be no change to the Franco-German coalition that runs the EU.
  • The EU will increase its efforts to reduce red tape and burdens on business but with no objective or target to hold them to.
Nothing in this document will change anything or solve any of the irreconcilable differences between what we want and what the EU is about. It is simply pages of compromises on compromises on compromises that have so diluted the original intentions that they are meaningless. His own MPs and cabinet members are rebelling against him, the papers are dismissing his negotiations as weak and pathetic and even the BBC are dismissing it as a capitulation.

Saturday, 30 January 2016

Baroness Brady claims foreign players wouldn't play for English clubs if it wasn't for the EU banning mobile phone roaming charges

Baroness Karren Brady, one of Cameron's "man of the people" TV personality peers and a pro-EU Britain Stronger in Europe (BSE) campaigner, has made the bizarre claim that leaving the EU will damage football clubs.

Brady has claimed that footballers will be put off coming to the UK if they have to have a visa or if we didn't have cheap flights and phone calls to other EU countries. With average wages in the Championship at over £4k a week and an eye-watering £44k a week in the Premiership, cheap flights to Magaluf and mobile roaming charges aren't exactly going to be a deal clincher.

Brady is correct in saying that some clubs - those in the lower leagues primarily - would find it difficult to bring in players from abroad if they had to get visas but it's a non-argument. Most footballing nations are already on the visa exemption list and there are specific visa rules for footballers to ensure only top flight players come here which say that a player must have played for his country in at least 75% of its competitive A team matches of which he was available for selection, during the two years preceding the date of the application and that the player’s country must be at or above 70th place in the official FIFA world rankings when averaged over the two years preceding the date of the application.

It is pure fantasy to suggest that the UK would impose visa restrictions on EU countries when we leave the EU but playing their silly game, what would be the consequences of clubs having to apply for visas? Premiership and Championship clubs they are unlikely to experience any difficulties bringing over the players they want because they're top flight clubs taking top flight players from other top flight clubs. League 1 and League 2 clubs might find it difficult to bring so many foreign players in but that's a positive thing for domestic football. The lower leagues are where we should be incubating home-grown talent, training future premiership and international stars. League 1 and 2 clubs rarely, if ever, compete in international tournaments so there's no need to bring in footballers from around the world to bolster their squad. Anything that forces lower league clubs to invest in home-grown talent is a good thing.

Using football to try and make people scared of leaving the EU is a clever move by the mad cows at the BSE campaign but their dystopian vision of the future is so far fetched that nobody is going to take it seriously. We know that the EU has forced up prices of flights with its "green" taxes, we know that mobile phone companies have passed on the cost of abolishing roaming charges to consumers and we know that we're not going to impose visa restrictions on EU countries when we leave. Their outrageous claims on the number of jobs and amount of investment that would be lost when we leave the EU are based on the ridiculous scenario of the UK ceasing all trade with the EU and similarly their preposterous claims that it would damage football are based on the British government imposing visa restrictions on EU countries when we leave which simply isn't going to happen.

Baroness Brady should stick to her day job advising Lord Sugar which mentally unstable sociopathic Apprentice contestant is least likely to stab their future colleagues with a pair of scissors to get a promotion and leave the politics to sensible people.