Saturday, 30 June 2012

Dishonest Dave on an EU referendum

David Cameron has written an article for the Telegraph setting out his position on the EU (or "Europe" as he likes to call it).  His position is unchanged: he supports the EU, he doesn't believe all the opinion polls that show most people want to leave the EU and he will keep the country in the EU.

Let's examine what he says line by line:
It is vital for our country — for the strength of our economy, for the health of our democracy and for the influence of our nation — that we get our relationship with Europe right.
He's started his diatribe with the deliberate conflation of the word "Europe" with the EU.  This is something europhiles do to try and make the proles believe that the EU is the same thing as Europe, that one can't exist without the other.
We need to be absolutely clear about what we really want, what we now have and the best way of getting what is best for Britain. We need to answer those questions before jumping to questions about referendums.
We're already absolutely clear about what we want. Every opinion poll says that most people want to leave the EU. Just because that's not what you want to hear doesn't mean it's not real. The referendum question is really quite simple: Should the UK withdraw its membership of the European Union and negotiate a free trade agreement with the European Union in its place?
I am not against referendums in our parliamentary democracy. Parliament is elected to make decisions and be accountable, but when powers are transferred it is right to ask the people. That is why we will ensure the Scottish people can hold a referendum having elected a government on a mandate to do just that.
Not against referenda? Really? So you promised a referendum on the EU Constitution - a Cast Iron Guarantee™ - and then went back on it because you're in favour of referenda? And when a petition was signed by 100,000 people demanding an EU referendum you whipped your MPs to vote against it because you're in favour of referenda? And when you ruled out a referendum on Lords "reform" this week that was because you're in favour of referenda?

You say Scotland can have a referendum on independence from the UK because they elected a government on a mandate to hold one but we can't have a referendum on independence from the EU even though you were elected on a mandate to hold one?
I am also not against referendums on Europe. The last government should have held a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. They didn’t, so this Government put in place a referendum lock so that no government can ever again pass powers from Britain to Brussels without first asking the British people.
There's not much point having a referendum on Europe because you can't argue with geography - we're connected to the continent, a referendum won't change that. But assuming you mean the EU - why did you go back on your promise to hold a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty? Why did you whip your MPs to deny us a referendum on the EU?

The referendum lock isn't worth the paper it's written on. It hasn't resulted in a referendum despite our sovereignty flowing steadily to the EU ever since that useless law was passed. It will never trigger a referendum either because it is you that decides if it should.
But back to the prior questions: what we want and how we get it.
Clearly not by trusting you to stick to your word or voting for your treacherous party.
As a trading nation Britain needs unfettered access to European markets and a say in how the rules of that market are written.
As a trading nation, the UK needs unfettered access to the world markets, not just the EU. Unfettered access to the EU's markets comes with a free trade agreement which the EU has happily signed with a great many countries all over the world. A Commonwealth Free Trade Agreement would be worth a billions to our economy, free trade with India alone could easily out-strip the economic benefits of an EU Free Trade Agreement.

But I'm intrigued as to why we need a say in what the rules of the EU are if we weren't members of the EU any more. A Free Trade Agreement is a bilateral agreement so we would agree the terms with the EU and any change would require both sides agreeing to new terms. How the EU conducts its internal Free Trade Agreement would be its own business.
The single market is at the heart of the case for staying in the EU. But it also makes sense to co-operate with our neighbours to maximise our influence in the world and project our values of freedom and democracy.
Access to the single market doesn't require EU membership.  Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Bosnia, Chile, Columbia, Croatia, Egypt, Faroe Islands, Iceland, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Liechtenstein, Macedonia, Mexico, Montenegro, Morocco, Norway, Palestine, Peru, San Marino, Serbia, South Africa, South Korea, Switzerland, Tunisia and Turkey all have access to the EU's single market via their own Free Trade Agreements with the EU. Antigua & Barbuda, Argentina, the Bahamas, Barbados, Bahrain, Belize, Brazil, Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Indonesia, Jamaica, Kuwait, Laos, Malaysia, Oman, Paraguay, Philippines, Qatar, St Lucia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, St Vincent & the Grenadines, St Kitts & Nevis, Suriname, Thailand, Trinidad & Tobago, United Arab Emirates, Uruguay and Vietnam are all in the process of setting up Free Trade Agreements with the EU. None of these countries are members of the EU and they all either have access to the EU single market now or will do when their treaties are concluded.

Presumably Cameron's reference to freedom and democracy was an oversight by his script writers - the EU Parliament group that UKIP belongs to is called Europe of Freedom and Democracy. The UK can co-operate with any country it wants on any matter it wants once we leave the EU but while we remain members we can only co-operate with who the EU says we can, on matters the EU allows to and we have to accept collective agreements entered into by the EU on our behalf such as the work-in-progress Free Trade Agreement with Argentina which is currently trying to dispossess us of the Falklands or facilitating Spain's encroachment on our sovereignty over Gibraltar.
Here Britain makes the running in the EU, so I don’t agree with those who say we should leave and therefore want the earliest possible in/out referendum. Leaving would not be in our country’s best interests.
Leaving would be in our best interests, only an idiot would say otherwise. Oh, you just did.
An “in” vote too would have profound disadvantages. All further attempts at changing Britain’s relationship with Europe would be met with cries that the British people had already spoken.
The "reform" option that you want is a vote for the status quo because meaningful reform is impossible. Ever closer union is a fundamental part of EU membership, the whole machinery of the EU is committed irrevocably to that single aim of creating a country called Europe. When reform was shown to be impossible, any stamping of feet would be met with cries that the British people had already spoken and they said they wanted to stay in the EU.
Yet the fact is the British people are not happy with what they have, and neither am I. That’s why I said on Friday that the problem with an in/out referendum is that it offers a single choice, whereas what I want — and what I believe the vast majority of the British people want — is to make changes to our relationship.
What you want and what the majority of the electorate want are two different things. You know full well that what the majority wants is to leave, that's why you refuse to hold a referendum. Whether a referendum is a simple in/out or your preferred in/out/reform is irrelevant, they both mean the same thing. "Reform" is a vote for the status quo because the course of the EU can't be changed.
So what is wrong with what we’ve got? Put simply, for those of us outside the eurozone, far from there being too little Europe, there is too much of it. Too much cost; too much bureaucracy; too much meddling in issues that belong to nation states or civic society or individuals. Whole swathes of legislation covering social issues, working time and home affairs should, in my view, be scrapped.
You can't have too much or too little Europe, save for the effects of coastal erosion it remains static in size no matter what arbitrary lines someone draws on a picture of it. Ah, you're doing that "EU is Europe" thing again aren't you? The problem, Dave, is that transfers of power to the EU are one-way. You can talk about repatriation of powers all you like but the Lisbon Treaty has no provision for returning powers from the EU, only for the one-way transfer to unelected euroscrats on the continent.
The Coalition parties will have different views on this, so we will be reviewing the balance of the EU’s competences, to provide a national audit of what the EU currently does and its implications for our country.
Different views? Yes, one coalition party is rabidly europhile and the other is ... oh, wait. And do we really need a national audit of what the EU currently does and its implications? Surely there's a list of what sovereignty has been transferred to the EU already otherwise how would anyone know whether it was too much or too little? We're told that the benefits of EU membership outweigh the costs so a cost/benefit analysis must have been done already, surely?
Finally, and vitally, how do we maximise the chances of actually getting what we want?
By holding an in/out referendum and letting us vote out.
First, we need to recognise that Europe is changing — and fast . The single currency is driving a process that will see its members take more and more steps towards fuller integration. They are necessary if the euro is to survive, but mean that the EU and relationships within it will change. We have shown not only that we can stay out of that integration, but that we can also get out of things — such as bail-out funds — that we don’t like.
Well, coastal erosion ... nearly got me there Dave, you mean the EU don't you? We haven't stayed out of the €urozone bailout, our contribution has merely been laundered through the IMF. We're not stupid David - the EU says it needs x billion for a bailout and you tell Boy George to go and borrow an amount that coincidentally amounts to what would be our share if we were contributing directly and give it to the IMF who give it to the EU for their bailout fund.
At Friday’s summit we ensured that the key parts of banking union would be done by the European Central Bank for eurozone members and not for us. We won’t stand behind Greek or Portuguese banks, and our banks will be regulated by the Bank of England, not the ECB.
The Bank of England might be the official regulator for banks in the UK but it is regulating them according to EU rules. Why did the EU have to approve bailouts to UK banks if they aren't regulating them? Why did the Bank of England have to publicise its offer of a credit line to Northern Rock under the EU Monetary Abuse Directive (appropriately abbreviated to EU MAD) which directly caused the run on the bank and the start of the collapse of the UK banking sector if the EU doesn't regulate our banks? Why did the EU have to approve mergers of UK banks and why could it set conditions on the merges if it doesn't regulate UK banks? The Bank of England is an EU sockpuppet.
There is more to come where we can take forward our interests, safeguard the single market and stay out of a federal Europe. Those who say we would never say “no” were proved wrong by my veto last December. And those who instead say we risk giving up all influence are also wrong.
Oh Dave, this is getting a bit silly isn't it? You can't veto something that doesn't exist - there was no treaty for you to veto in December, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office confirmed as much: "no EU Treaty was drafted at the European Council in December" were their words.
Two of the last big decisions about European institutions have gone our way: we have a British head of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and a home in London for important parts of the new EU patent court.
We don't need EU institutions based here Dave, we need them to go away and regulate the EU into oblivion and leave us the hell alone.
Second, let us start to spell out in more detail the parts of our European engagement we want and those that we want to end. While we need to define with more clarity where we would like to get to, we need to show tactical and strategic patience. The eurozone is in crisis which needs to be resolved, and we are in a Coalition government during this parliament.
The €urozone is in terminal decline and it can't be saved. We need to step away from the €urozone and the EU as a whole and leave them to sort themselves out. The more we interfere in their crisis and the more you tell the world that we have to save the €uro to avoid disaster, the less confidence investors have in us and the more we will feel the negative effects of the eventual collapse of the €uro. Distance ourselves now, stop lending to debt-crippled €urozone countries and insulate ourselves from the fallout - that's the responsible thing to do.
Nevertheless I will continue to work for a different, more flexible and less onerous position for Britain within the EU.
Then you're working for something that most of us don't want. We want out.
How do we take the British people with us on this difficult and complicated journey? How do we avoid the wrong paths of either accepting the status quo meekly or giving up altogether and preparing to leave? It will undoubtedly be hard, but taking the right path in politics often is.
Staying in the EU is the wrong thing to do, pretending that it can be reformed or that powers can be repatriated is simply dishonest.
As we get closer to the end point, we will need to consider how best to get the full-hearted support of the British people whether it is in a general election or in a referendum.
And here's the money shot: a referendum won't be held in this parliament, it will be a Cast Iron Guarantee™ in their next manifesto and the message will be if you want an EU referendum then you'll have to vote Tory and if you vote UKIP and deprive them of an outright majority then no referendum.
As I have said, for me the two words “Europe” and “referendum” can go together, particularly if we really are proposing a change in how our country is governed, but let us get the people a real choice first.
And as we, the voters of this country, have said many times before Dave - we want out of the EU and we want out now. None of this "reform from with" or "repatriation of powers" rubbish, just get us out and get us out now.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Jersey moot independence in response to EU tax rules

Jersey's Assistant Chief Minister, Sir Philip Bailache, has suggested that Jersey should consider declaring independence from the UK over the British government siding with the EU on tax matters affecting the island.

Until recently Jersey made a considerable amount of money hosting warehouses for companies like Asda, Tesco and Amazon who were exploiting Jersey's low tax, low VAT regime and customs union with the UK to  import goods VAT free.  This was possible because Jersey isn't in the EU and can therefore apply its own VAT rules (such as not applying VAT to anything worth less than £15) but is in a customs union with the UK which means VAT and duty aren't applied to goods imported from Jersey.  The EU wasn't very happy with the arrangement because they get a cut of VAT charged in any EU member state so they ordered the British government to put a stop to it which of course they did.

Although the Channel Islands aren't part of the UK - they're Crown Dependencies - the British government can legislate for the islands.  The Jersey and Guernsey governments both appealed to the High Court but lost and the British government put the Channel Islands-based operations of many large companies out of business overnight, putting many people out of work and damaging the local postal services.

It is hardly surprising that Channel Islanders might be questioning the value of their relationship with the UK given that the British government have systematically undermined their sovereignty, their economies and worked against their national interests by siding with the EU.  It's a shame they don't have political parties in Jersey and Guernsey because I suspect UKIP would do very well!

Cyprus starts EU presidency with bailout request

With a certain inevitability, Cyprus has become the fifth EU country to ask for a bailout.

The Cypriot and Greek banking systems are pretty co-dependent with Cypriot banks being heavily exposed to Greek public and private sector debt.  Cyprus' top three banks had to write off 50% of the nominal value of the €5.3bn of Greek government bonds they had bought under the EU's bailout rules.

Although Cyprus has requested an EU bailout, they are still in talks with Russia and China over a bilateral loan to try and avoid the punishing EU austerity that has devastated the Greek economy and ultimately lead to their own demise.

Cyprus takes on the EU presidency this week which is pretty symbolic - a divided, bankrupt country whose economy has been undermined by EU austerity in Greece, which is run by a communist and has such little faith in the EU bailout process that it would rather go to Russia or China than its own EU partners for help.  The headlines will be writing themselves in the next few weeks.

Sunday, 24 June 2012


In recent years UKIP has increasingly used the term libertarian to describe itself. Yet, libertarianism is a distinct political ideology and not one which UKIP policy truly reflects. This has led to the party sending out a confused message. 

There are two key strands of libertarianism. First, minarchy which stands for a nightwatchman state designed to protect only the “life, liberty and property” of its citizens. Second, anarcho-capitalism which holds that practically all state functions could be performed by voluntary bodies or charities.

The following are two examples of policy areas where UKIP's stance is incompatible with libertarian theory: gay marriage and immigration.

When UKIP came out against gay marriage, its press statement said that the decision was made from a libertarian perspective. Libertarians are opposed to the state being involved in the way its citizens choose to live their lives. Therefore they say the state should not set up the institution of 'gay marriage' which would be the state sanctioning a particular marital arrangement a couple have undertaken.

However, the problem with UKIP's justification is that the true libertarian view refuses the need for state recognition of any form of marriage, including traditional heterosexual marriage. In the recent Republican primaries in the USA , the libertarian candidate Ron Paul advocated such a position when asked by the ultra socially conservative candidate, Rick Santorum, if he would allow three people to get married.

Nevertheless, there is a political philosophy which UKIP's gay marriage stance does appeal to aside from conservatism, namely, classical liberalism. Classical liberalism was developed during the period of the Enlightenment and though it lay the groundwork for the later libertarians, it has come to be recognized as a distinctly different political force.

Classical liberalism maintains that the the state has an interest in certain public goods which it should provide because all societal members will benefit from them and that they wouldn't be provided if left to the market and other non-state bodies. Two very important examples are welfare and basic education.

Traditional marriage falls into the category of objects which the state must provide and sanction. Marriage is a core institution in British society which has been there for hundreds of years. It fosters a key part of our culture and identity and only the state can universally sanction marriages across the various religions and creeds of the British people in such a way.

In the field of immigration, the libertarian movement is very opposed to UKIP's desire, as expressed in its immigration policy document, to cap immigration at 50,000 people per anum. For a number of reasons libertarians are opposed to this measure. They think that, for example, if Britain were to do away with all forms of the state provision of public services, only rich desirable individuals would come to Britain.

The UKIP response should be twofold. First, UKIP does not want to do away completely with all welfare, the NHS and state schools. While much urgent reform is needed, these institutions are at the core of the British nation-state. Nevertheless, even without welfare it is not clear that poor migrants will stop coming to the UK for economic reasons.

Second, the desire to cap immigration at 50,000 is a common sense method of ensuring that migrants can successfully integrate into British society. Libertarians tend to be value pluralist, and do not see the national culture as needing to be protected by the state. But while UKIP could never be against immigration per se (immigration is a key part of any democratic liberal nation-state) restricting immigration to sensible numbers ensures migrant communities successfully integrate into British society. This stops ethnic and racial conflict, reduces the risk of terrorism and most importantly helps to create a more peaceful, cohesive society. As Classical Liberal thinker John Stuart Mill once wrote in his book Representative Government: “Free institutions are next to impossible in a country made up of different nationalities. Among a people without fellow-feeling… [e]ach fears more injury to itself from the other nationalities, than from the common arbiter, the State. Their mutual antipathies are generally much stronger than [their] jealousy of government.”

If UKIP wants to realize its dream of a Britain outside of the EU, UKIP must have a narrative and a vision of what Britain outside the EU will look like. A move away from the libertarian brand will help UKIP to create a more consistent and appealing narrative to the British electorate.

Julien Conway is a student of Law at the University of Southampton, 
He tweets at @julienconway 

Friday, 22 June 2012

Moody's downgrade four UK banks

The rating agency, Moody's, has downgraded four UK banks overnight, adding billions to their borrowing costs which will be passed on to customers.

HSBC, Barclays, RBS and Lloyds Banking Group have all seen their credit rating cut thanks to their exposure to the €urozone.

Yesterday we said that it was time to stop UK banks from making high risk loans to €urozone countries because of the damage it's causing to the economy.  Moody's downgrading the four biggest banks in the UK confirms that such a ban is necessary to protect the economy.

That said, it would help the economy if David Cameron stopped telling the world that we need to do whatever it takes to save the single currency because if it goes wrong we'll be doomed I tells ya, doooooomed.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

It's time to ban loans to €urozone countries

So, Greece has elected a pro-EU, pro-austerity, pro-bailout government again which will soon be implementing even more of the punishing EU-mandated austerity that led to riots earlier this year in return for increasing its crippling national debt. You can't make this stuff up.

Europhile politicians have declared the Greek result as a victory for "Europe" (they mean the EU but they don't acknowledge the existence of a Europe outside of the EU) and for the €uro.  What they refuse to accept, though, is that the result is irrelevant to the future of both the EU and the single currency.  The €uro will fail whether Greece is in it or not.  The Greece-shaped economic black hole in the €urozone is mere pocket money compared to France, Spain and Italy.

Spain is the fourth largest economy in the €urozone and they've just had to go cap in hand to the EU bailout fund to get their banks recapitalised.  The Spanish economy is in such a poor state that the yield on 10 year bonds (kind of like the interest rate on a loan) has tipped over 7% - that's the psychological barrier between moderate risk and high risk and Ireland, Portugal and Greece all crossed that line prior to collapse.  Cyprus, the €urozone country tipped to fall over next, is averaging almost 16% yields on 10 year bonds and has apparently been talking to the Russians about a loan to bail out one of its banks next week.

Spain is currently waiting for €100bn of capitalisation for its banks who have unexpectedly found that having entire towns of half-finished houses, toxic mortgages and billions of €uros of loans to bankrupt countries making up the bulk of their assets means that they might not be able to pay their bills which even more inexplicably seems to be putting institutional investors off the idea of loaning them even more money.  Spain is too big to be bailed out - there isn't enough money in the EU - which is why its banks are being bailed out directly by the EU bailout fund that is only supposed to be used to bail out countries.

Italian 10 year bonds are at just over 6% and we've yet to see the effects of Italian bank BNI freezing customer accounts for a month.  It's reasonable to assume we'll see a run on the bank when it unfreezes the accounts again and it's also reasonable to assume that as happened here with Northern Rock, a run on BNI could very well trigger the virtual collapse of the Italian banking system and force the Italian government to bail out its banks.  The big difference between a bailout of UK banks and a bailout of Italian banks is the cost - the British government is paying 4% interest on 10 year bonds, the Italian government is paying around 6%.  This might not sound like a big difference but it adds 50% onto the Italian government's cost of borrowing compared to the British government.  To put it into context, it cost £850bn to bail out RBS - with a 4% yield, that means the British government would have to pay back an extra £34bn on top of the £850bn in 10 years' time.  If the Italian government had borrowed £850bn at 6% they would be paying back £51bn on top of the £850bn - that's 3 times the GVA of Birmingham.

The €urozone is in terminal decline, UK banks need to call in their €urozone loans and the British government needs to ban any further high risk loans to €urozone countries to protect the economy from over-exposure to the €uro's imminent collapse.

The truly pathetic Nick Clegg

Just when you thought the esteem in which he is held couldn't sink any lower, Nick Clegg has surpassed himself.

"Gay Marriage is inevitable" he declared today, adding for good measure that it "must happen now" and that "opponents would not stop the change".

Now, you may think that gay marriage should be brought in now, but to state it must be suggests some form of time dependency that flies completely in the face of its supposed "inevitability". (Incidentally a very  weak intellectual argument in itself - 'inevitable' in the same way that Britain joining the Euro was 'inevitable', eh, Nick? But I digress.)

But the reason one suspects that gay marriage must be brought in now has more to do with the fact that Clegg is deeply concerned about his own political legacy than about gay people who want to get spliced. Acutely aware that he has precious little to show for his time in the British political sun, which is perhaps already past it's meridian, and maybe fearing that Britain's exclusion from the coming FiskalUnion will consign him to second-rank status upon his return to Brussels, Clegg perhaps senses that his career will be judged a failure and is thus desperate to get gay marriage and Lord's reform through Parliament.

But the true arrogance of the man was revealed in his remark that  "opponents would not stop the change". Really? So it's already decided? So the will of Parliament and democracy counts for nothing? With break-taking hypocrisy, later in the day he attacked the undemocratic nature of the House of Lords. A perfectly valid point in itself, but rather rich from a man who had, notoriously, been all in favour of a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty and when the rubber hit the road told his troops to abstain.

Clegg is the poster child for the over-privileged Metropolitan Liberal Classes. The living embodiment of the fact that high intelligence and wisdom are very often negatively correlated. He clearly lacks all self-awareness and cannot see the discrepancy in attacking the internships he directly benefited from when  a young man, or promoting gay marriage at the same time as sending his children to Roman Catholic schools, or denouncing the Lords as undemocratic while worshipping at the altar of the European Union.

The man is simply wretched. Let us hope at the next election we will finally see the back of him.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Italian bank freezes all bank accounts for a month

News is quietly filtering out that Bank Network Investments SpA (BNI) in Italy has suspended all of its customers' bank accounts for a month amid financial difficulties.

The suspension was authorised by the Bank of Italy and a low key announcement was put on the BNI website a week ago.  It appears that the Italian media have conspired to keep a lid on the suspension, failing to report the announcement before the suspension came into force and is still trying to suppress the news two days later.

There were runs on Spanish banks last month which went largely unreported in the media as well.  It's pretty certain that the media - especially in the €urozone - is under orders not to report on anything that might further undermine the failing single currency and the tattered remains of its constituent economies.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Nigel Farage on the insanity of the Spanish bank bailout

Nigel Farage doing what he does best: exposing the absolute insanity of the EU and the €urozone.  Italy is forced to borrow €100m at 7% interest on the open market to loan to Spanish banks at 3% interest and this is called an example of what a success the €uro has been!

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

80% want an EU referendum

A Populus poll for the Daily Express published yesterday shows that 80% want a referendum on our continued membership of the EU.  Half of those polled said they wanted a referendum right now.

This needs no commentary: everyone knows that most people want an EU referendum, that most people want out of the EU and that the pro-EU Tories won't give us one.  That doesn't mean we shouldn't keep plugging away at Cameron in the vague hope that he might remember what democracy actually means so here's the email I just sent him ...
Dear Mr Cameron,

Another poll shows most people in the UK want a referendum on our membership of the EU.

You have made it abundantly clear that you personally support ever closer union and the eventual subsumption of my country into a United States of Europe but this is not what the majority of the population wants and I personally believe that what millions of people want is more important than what you want. A Populus poll this week says 80% of people want a referendum - you won't find a poll that says we don't want one.

You say the economy is more important than an EU referendum but bizarrely prioritise changing the law on royal succession which nobody gives a damn about.

To say that the public don't want an EU referendum is entirely dishonest and to continue to deny one is undemocratic. You claim to be neither so please confirm you will carry out the clearly expressed wishes of an overwhelming majority of the electorate and hold a referendum at the soonest opportunity.


How UKIP could overtake the Tories in the North

An excellent article appeared on IndHome by Lee Jenkins  about how UKIP is actually doing better in Northern Labour strongholds rather than the True Blue Tory Shires which is the rather lazy stereotype held by the media. Opinion polls on Northern voting intentions consistently show us wiping the floor with the Lib Dems and being not too distant from catching up the Tories. To do so would be a major coup for us and a major psychological blow to the Tory party.

But can we do it?

As a Northener myself (though unlike Lee from the White Rose side of the Pennines) I would say we certainly can, as long as we take the trouble to understand the North's political culture: - something no other party has bothered to do for a long time, regarding the region as an impregnable Labour Party fiefdom.

Firstly to expand on Lee's observations, it is true that in terms of it's economic culture, the North, or at least the industrial North, would appear to be barren terrain for UKIP. Previously dominated by large manufacturing concerns employing mass labour, the small trader, individual entrepreneur culture which is most likely to identify with UKIP's broadly Libertarian economic policies has always been much weaker there.  (It's no accident that TV's most famous sitcom entrepreneurs, Del Trotter and Arthur Daley, are Londoner's, and Nigel Farage could have played a hilarious cameo role in either series.) In recent year's things have got even worse, with Gordon Brown's 'sovietisation' of much of the region: in most areas government generates most of the GDP. Consequently, much of the North is economically depressed and remains deeply suspicious of capitalism.

Sadly, the issue which most Northerner's are most likely to identify with UKIP is immigration. It can not be emphasised strongly enough that the immigration patterns observed by the Metropolitan elite - broadly speaking the migration to London of a high-skilled, middle class, truly multi-cultural workforce who come to London for their careers - is totally different from the low skilled and often Islamic migration channelled by arranged or forced marriages experienced in many Northern cities. The effect is no less than the en masse transfer of rural, deeply conservative Southern Asian cultures into these areas, and it is no surprise that this is causing the rise of dangerous sectarian tensions in places like Dewsbury and Blackburn. Cracking down on this type of immigration is vital if social stability is to be maintained.

But there is another, more generic factor to UKIP's appeal: authenticity. Whether or not they agree with aspects of UKIP's policy portfolio, they at least respect the direct style of politicians such as Nigel Farage or Paul Nuttall. Northerner's are well known for their love of straight-talking and have always disliked what they see as the dishonest, cowardly and hypocritical avoidance of hard truths they associate with the Southern manner of speech in general and the Political Class in particular.

Lastly, there is also another very painful truth we must acknowledge, and one that no political party has really got to grips with: the rise and rise of the London City State at the expense of the rest of the UK. I heard a remark yesterday that encapsulated the issue perfectly:

"London is an international,  multicultural city tacked onto an increasingly irrelevant country."

It hurt so much because it is largely true. Economically, of course, most of the the UK has lagged behind growth in the South East for several decades. The fact that is that people feel ignored by and irrelevant  to an arrogant, effete, self-regarding Metropolitan over-class that now dominates the LibLabCon parties and seems almost colonial in it's attitudes to the rest of the country rubs salt into the wounds.  The powerful, festering resentments this has created are exhibited by the rise in nationalist sentiment in Scotland and Wales, which is reality a reaction to Metropolitan rule rather than English rule.

Not having nationalism to fall back on as a political outlet, the North is currently trapped, with no party currently articulating its intense frustrations. What is needed are true localist policies that give the North  a large measure of independence from Metropolitan rule. (Though a fine policy in itself, an English parliament really doesn't address the issue, and in some ways it could even amplify London's dominance.) Instead, we must continue to build up our party strength locally on a campaign theme of independence from London. (Obviously such a campaign should be couched in positive, constructive terms rather than falling back on the all too common bitter prejudices about t'bloody Sutherners.) Having consistently failed to deliver on localism despite repeated promises, none of the other parties will ever be believed on this issue, but there is chance that UKIP, with it's reputation for honesty, will be.

With the Lib Dems in seemingly permanent eclipse and the Tory Party is steep decline, the prize of UKIP becoming the second party in the North of England is truly within sight.

Let us now take it.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Ed Miliband says the “E” word

Ed Miliband has broken with decades of tradition and spoken positively about English identity and even mentioning an English Parliament.  Ok, he dismissed it out of hand because he says there isn't support for one but he's the first LibLabCon leader to follow UKIP's lead and take the subject seriously.

Labour has been struggling in England in recent years, despite a revival thanks to the ineptitude of the ConDems and has been navel gazing for some time trying to figure why the country they milked for over a decade to buy votes in Scotland and Wales might not be so keen on voting for them.  It has recently occurred to them that describing English people as "a race not worth saving" and suggesting that people describing themselves as English is worrying and is about race, not culture unlike Britishness might be a contributing factor to their unpopularity.

While Ed Miliband is now apparently comfortable with us describing ourselves as English (as long as we say we're British as well) he isn't happy with the idea of an English Parliament.  He says that an English Parliament means more politicians and that there isn't support for an English Parliament so instead we should make do with more powers for local authorities.

Where to start?  The "more politicians" myth is as good a place as any.  There are 650 British MPs, 117 of which are elected in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland where they have less than half the workload of an MP elected in England because their devolved representatives have more responsibility in their constituencies than they do.  If an English Parliament takes away most of the British Parliament's work, why on earth would we keep all 650 British MPs?  The number of British MPs could easily be halved and it's a pretty damning indictment of the British political class that the thought of reducing their number doesn't even cross their minds.

As for there being no support for an English Parliament - what he means is there is no support for an English Parliament in his own party.  An Ipsos Mori/British Futures poll in January found that 52% want an English Parliament.  An ICM/Power 2010 poll last year found that 68% want an English Parliament.  A YouGov/Jury Team poll in 2009 found that 58% want an English Parliament.  A Populus/The Times poll in 2009 found that 41% want an English Parliament.  An ICM/Telegraph poll in 2007 found that 45% want an English Parliament or to ban MPs not elected in England from voting on English matters.  An ICM/CEP poll in 2007 found that 67% want an English Parliament.  A YouGov/Sunday Times poll in 2007 found that 72% want an English Parliament.  There are more but that's enough to make the point - all of them show a majority in favour of an English Parliament.

His suggestion that giving local authorities in England more power would be equivalent to the Scottish Parliament or Welsh Assembly is frankly insulting.  A town council could never compete with a national government and it certainly couldn't represent the local population and businesses on the internationals stage.  It's a ridiculous suggestion and a half baked idea motivated by political greed, not a desire to do what's right by the English.

Cross-posted from: Wonko's World

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Once again, Tory myopia courts European disaster

Those callow youths Cameron and Osbourne are at it again, this time stating that the Euro Zone (EZ) should move to full  Fiskalunion.

Cameroons, like New Labour, are an ahistorical bunch ("junior partners in 1940" - remember that? ), so it shouldn't come to any surprise that Cameron and Osbourne are plainly unaware that stopping the emergence of a united continent has been at the heart of British European policy for hundreds of years, but the shear unbelievable stupidity of is nevertheless breath-taking.

For a start, it would, as the excellent Ambrose Evans-Pritchard said in his webchat today be "an unworkable superstate that has no historic or cultural roots" permanently locking economic malaise in the periphery, bailed out by huge capital transfers from the Germanic North. More importantly, it is hard to see how such a state could be achieved through democratic consent of Europe's peoples, instead being imposed from the above by the elites.

It doesn't take many powers of analysis to know that such a state would be likely to be wracked by insurrection and civil war within a few years. But, from the British point of view, an even worse nightmare would be the external realities of the situation. Imagine that: an undemocratic state of over 500 millions souls only 22 miles across the channel, in all probability economically failing, with a predisposition to blame 'Les Anglo-Saxons' and their wicked free-market model for their problems. Irrespective of whether hostility would ever manifest itself in terms of a military threat (and it wouldn't take much to threaten us militarily these days, thanks to the destruction by this government of our Armed Forces) life would feel pretty uncomfortable.

Once again, we see from the Tory high command not only it's contempt for democracy but also its myopia and cynicism, sacrificing a principled strategy for short term political tactics again and again: the tactics in this instance being, of course, that it is not in Britain's interest to talk down the Euro for fear of creating future bad blood unnecessarily.

Although there is merit in the argument that we must try to avoid blame for the total catastrophe which may engulf the Eurozone, it that case surely the best course of action is to stay completely silent on the matter. Or if you must encourage a United Europe, at least state that it must be done only with the consent of the people, which would effectively mean it would never happen. Instead Osbourne and Cameron are actively cheer-leading for the final fruition of the original Jean Monnet dream: a United Europe by the elites, for the elites. Thankfully for us, the German courts have ruled that any moves towards Fiskalunion to be unconstitutional.

So, in 2012 the British government seems to be actively campaigning for the destruction of European democracy while a German court emerges as it's principle defender.

The world has turned full circle.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Spain requests financial assistance for banks

The Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy and Treasury Minister, Cristobal Montoro, have asked the EU to recapitalise its banks, saying that they can no longer afford to borrow money on the international markets.

You may as well fill your pockets
with bottle tops
The Treasury Minister went a step further and admitted that the EU can't afford to bail out Spain, saying "technically, we can't really be rescued".

This comes as no surprise to most of us who have known for some time that Spain is on the brink of collapse and is too big to be bailed out.  The frankness of Señor Montoro's admission is surprising though as such honesty is taboo.

Montoro and Rajoy have asked "Europe" to recapitalise Spanish banks directly rather than loan the Spanish government billions of pounds they can't afford to pay back and impose crippling austerity measures on them precisely because not enough money exists in the EU to bail Spain out.  It's not a technicality as Señor Montoro suggests, it's a cold hard fact.

The Spanish are awaiting Angela Merkel's unilateral decision on how the €urozone will respond to Spain's request but as German banks are opposed to the idea, she is unlikely to concede without her pound of flesh.

This problem isn't "European" and the solution also isn't "European".  It's a €urozone problem and it's up to the €urozone to fix it (assuming the Spaniards don't want to grow a pair and leave).  It's not up to us to fix the €urozone, nor is it up to the Swiss, Norwegians, Icelanders, Liechtensteiners, Swedes, Danes, Czechs, Hungarians, Romanians, Bulgarians, Latvians, Lithuanians or Poles.  The more of our money the British government puts into the €urozone, the more we will lose when it fails.  The more they get involved in trying to sort out their mess, the more it looks like we are scared we won't survive the €uro's collapse when in reality they are lamenting the failure of their beloved EU.

It is long past the time to put our hands up and say "You know what? This is none of our business. You made your bed, you sleep in it. We can manage perfectly fine without you".  And we can manage perfectly fine, just like we always have done.  Our banks are exposed to the €uro but they're well capitalised.  Gordon Brown sold our gold for a pittance and bought €uro instead but the pound is still one of the currencies countries buy to back their own currency and the collapse of the €uro will prompt other countries to buy more sterling.

We have very little to lose and much to gain by the collapse of the single currency.  The amount of negative impact we experience will depend entirely on how far we distance ourselves from what is happening on the continent.

Lib Dems court tax avoidance specialists for donations

Bustin some moves at the Ministry
Yesterday we did some analysis of Labour and the Conservatives' donations and loans, now it's the turn of the Lib Dems.

Despite the terminal decline of the Lib Dems, they still managed to attract over £4.4m in donations.  The Lib Dems are the least indebted of the three old parties with a mere £1.5m of debts.

Lender TypeAmountPercent

Most of the Lib Dems' debts is owed to banks but they do have a £15k loan from the taxpayer-funded World Bank-backed global warming lobbyists, Yeovil Climate Investment Fund.  The company that loaned them £15k is Smith & Williamson Investment Management, an investment management company that specialises in tax avoidance which the Lib Dems rank just above drowning puppies on its evilness scale.

Here is a breakdown of the Lib Dems' donations from the 2011/12 financial year:

Lender TypeAmountPercent
Party Association£1,096,97024.8%

It seems the Lib Dems are even better than the Tories at running commercial operations to top up their funds - they received almost £1.1m in donations from commercial activities, almost a quarter of their income.  They also received over half a million from taxpayer.

Branches donated over £300k and left wing lobbyists Joseph Rowntree Trust (a "charity") donated over £30k.  Huntingdon Trust donated £10k - there is no information available about this trust so we have been unable to determine whether it is just another commercial operation like all the other trusts that have donated money to the Lib Dems during this period.

Tory donor Sir Pervez Anwar has been hedging his bets, donating £5,000 to the Lib Dems through his company, Bestway.  The Ministry of Sound has been extremely generous, making 25 donations totalling almost £366k in 12 months.  Almost every other company that donated money to the Lib Dems are accountants and investment management companies specialising in tax avoidance.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Big business dominates Tory donor list

Following our earlier analysis of the Labour Party's income for the 2011/12 financial year, here is what we've found in the Conservatives' accounts.

First the loans and as you'd expect, absolutely nothing from the unions but there is money from foreign companies, including one based in a tax haven.

Lender TypeAmountPercent
Foreign Company£950,0007.4%
Tax Haven Company £250,0001.9%
Party Association£5,0000.0%

The tax haven company is Juniper Trading Equities which is based in the British Virgin Islands and loaned the Tories £250k.  The other foreign company is Medina Foundation which is based in the US and loaned them £950k.  Woodlands Schools, a group of private schools, loaned the Tories £21,609.

Party associations - unincorporated associations set up for the benefit of promoting and raising funds for the party - loaned the party a trifling £5,000 whilst individuals accounted for £264k of loans.  Banks and companies made up the bulk of the Tories' loans with £8.36m and £2.98m respectively, or 88.4% of loans.

Donor TypeAmountPercent
Party Association£1,292,168.7%

The Tories get much less of their donations from the taxpayer - 3.3% compared to 33.3% - than Labour but they do take more from lobbyists and businesses.  Much more from businesses but still nowhere near the amount of taxpayers money laundered through the unions to Labour.  Donations from party associations are interesting - almost £1.3m was raised by commercial ventures set up solely for the purposes of promoting and funding the Conservative Party.

The Arbuthnot Banking Group donated £84,300 through its bank and subsidiary, Flowidea and loaned the Tories a whopping £5m in 2009 which is still outstanding.  The loan attracts interest at 3% above base which  will be attracting something in the region of £25k per year in interest.  That buys a whole lot of influence for Chairman, Henry Angest who already has direct influence at Westminster through Arbuthnot Latham & Co which is an Accepting House and has a seat on a Treasury/Bank of England policy committee.

Bestway Cash & Carry has been very generous, donating £77,950 to the Tories in the 2011/12 financial year.  Chairman of Bestway, Sir Pervez Anwar, also owns the second largest bank in Pakistan whose UK operation is one of the biggest providers of Islamic banking in the UK.  Lord Ashcroft hasn't been quite as generous but still retains his top spot on the Tory donors list helped along by his trifling £36,500 in donations.

Scottish special interest lobbyists donated £267,900 - a disproportionately large percentage of the Scottish Conservative & Unionist Party's income and goes some way to explaining why Scottish interests are so disproportionately high on David Cameron's agenda.  Whilst only one tenth of the amount received by Labour, the Tories received a not inconsiderable half a million from the taxpayer which weighed in at 3.3% of their donations for the 2011/12 financial year.

The Morally & Financially Bankrupt Labour Party

The Labour Party haemorrhaged 60% of its membership between 1997 and 2007 according to their own figures published by the Electoral Commission.

Labour's membership stood at just under 177k at the end of 2007 after losing 6,000 members that year.  UKIP's membership, by comparison, is about 10% of that figure and rising.  The Labour Party is supposed to be the second largest party in the UK and Her Majesty's Loyal (stop sniggering) Opposition.

Labour has also managed to reduce some of its crippling debt that it racked up with the same financial mismanagement that it employed to destroy the economy.  They reduced their £25m debts to £17.9m last year but still have £11m of loans due to be repaid this year.

The breakdown of Labour's outstanding debts by donor type for the 2001/12 financial year is as follows:

Lender TypeAmountPercent
Union Bank£916,5836.1%
Real Bank£3,823,23925.5%

Almost £1m of Labour's debts are owed to the unions, partly from the unions directly but mostly from the Unity Trust Bank which is owned by the unions and used to finance the Labour Party whilst keeping the level of donations down.

So what about donations?  Who paid the Labour Party's bills in the 2011/12 financial year?

Donor TypeAmountPercent
Co-operative Party£111,8050.6%
Questionable *£28,2950.1%

Unsurprisingly, the Labour Party was rescued from bankruptcy once again this year by the "generosity" of the unions passing on the millions of pounds of taxpayers' money they get every year accounting for 53% of Labour's income.  The second biggest donor to the Labour party was the taxpayer, contributing a further third of their income bringing the taxpayer funding of the Labour Party to 86.2%.

Personal donations to the Labour Party came to almost £972k whilst donations from Labour Party branches  around the country was just shy of £474k.  Identifying where the branch donations originated from is a mammoth task and not one I intend to undertake but donating money via branches is a common way for big donors to conceal the extent of their party funding - it is likely to consist of high value personal donations, locally-based big business and unions.

Companies donated just over £438k to the Labour Party and lobbyists donated nearly £209k.  The NOtoAV campaign donated £192k to the Labour Party, £114k of which was taxpayers money from the Electoral Commission.  GovNet, a litigious company that appears to be in the same vein as Common Purpose that allegedly made inappropriate donations to MPs, has given almost £11k to Labour and an industry group set up by Labour to lobby itself gave them £6k.

* There are three donations that are questionable.  Firstly, S.S.R. (Scotland) Ltd donated £2,250 to the Labour Party in cash on 12th July 2011 but the company hasn't filed accounts since 2010 and Companies House has published its intention to strike the company off the register in the London Gazette.  Crow Craylor and Partners, listed as an unincorporated association, is Crowe Caylor and Partners Limited and has been a limited company since 2008.  It is not clear how the Australian Labor Party fits the criteria of being based and carrying out business in the UK but they have donated almost £23.4k to the UK Labour Party.  Hopefully the Electoral Commission can shed some light on whether these donations are permissible and reported correctly.

The final set of donations of note come from the Co-operative Party, a shell political party used to funnel over £1m of funding from the Co-operative Group - owner of the Co-op supermarkets, Co-op Insurance, etc. - to the Labour Party both in direct donations (£111k in the 2011/12 financial year) and by sponsoring branches and MPs.

Because the Labour Party is so good at hiding the true source of its income, it is impossible to tell how much of its income comes from the taxpayer but I would estimate that at least 90% of its income in 2011/12 ultimately came from the taxpayer.  Without direct and indirect public funding, the Labour Party would be financially insolvent (having been declared morally and intellectually bankrupt years ago) and would have been wound up by its creditors by now.

For analysis of the Conservative Party's donations and loans, click here.

Friday, 1 June 2012

Irish turkeys vote for Christmas

Ireland has committed economic and political suicide, voting 60.3% versus 39.7% to accept the EU's fiscal treaty which will hand ultimate control of the Irish economy over to unelected €urocrats.

I hear you'd like to complain
about your tax bill
A lot of people - UKIP included - put a lot of time, money and effort into the Irish referendum trying to balance up the state-sponsored propaganda in support of the treaty and help the Irish people make an informed decision.  In the end, "fear triumphed over anger" as Guido succinctly puts it - the Irish people feared the economic and political incompetence of their politicians more than the fear of being permanently shackled to the failing single currency.

All is not lost yet though, the French might insist on a redrafting of the treaty which will trigger another Irish referendum and a lot can happen in just a few weeks when such grossly negligent and incompetent people are running the €urozone.  Ireland may yet see sense and get out while it can but they're going to need a bit of help from Monsieur Hollande.