Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Playing the Game


When you buy a board game, the first thing you do is read the rules. The rules tell you the order in which you do things such as 'roll the dice, pick up a card from the deck, move your playing piece the number of spaces on the board, then carry out the instructions on the card'.

The same thing applies to the European Union. In order for a state to leave the European Union, things must be done in a certain order. Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty reads as follows:
Article 50 
1. Any Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements. 
2. A Member State which decides to withdraw shall notify the European Council of its intention. In the light of the guidelines provided by the European Council, the Union shall negotiate and conclude an agreement with that State, setting out the arrangements for its withdrawal, taking account of the framework for its future relationship with the Union. That agreement shall be negotiated in accordance with Article 218(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. It shall be concluded on behalf of the Union by the Council, acting by a qualified majority, after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament. 
3. The Treaties shall cease to apply to the State in question from the date of entry into force of the withdrawal agreement or, failing that, two years after the notification referred to in paragraph 2, unless the European Council, in agreement with the Member State concerned, unanimously decides to extend this period. 
4. For the purposes of paragraphs 2 and 3, the member of the European Council or of the Council representing the withdrawing Member State shall not participate in the discussions of the European Council or Council or in decisions concerning it. A qualified majority shall be defined in accordance with Article 238(3)(b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. 
5. If a State which has withdrawn from the Union asks to rejoin, its request shall be subject to the procedure referred to in Article 49.
'In the light of the guidelines provided by the European Council, the Union shall negotiate and conclude an agreement with that State, setting out the arrangements for its withdrawal, taking account of the framework for its future relationship with the Union.' (My Emphasis).

As Dr Richard North on EUReferendum (www.eureferendum.com) tirelessly points out, Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty deals ONLY with the withdrawal agreement. Thus in the 'rules of the game' analogy:

1. The United Kingdom gives notice of its intention to withdraw from the European Union
2. The United Kingdom then negotiates with the European Council representing the EU27 the arrangements for its withdrawal
3. Once the United Kingdom has withdrawn from the European Union it can then negotiate a new deal which is NOT part of the withdrawal deal.
4. As a third country i.e. not part of the EU, it then can negotiate deals with other non EU countries as well as with the EU27 (as one entity).

It seems that the European Union is willing to let the United Kingdom have some kind of implementation period lasting until 31st December 2020 (i.e. 21 months from 'Brexit day') on very specific conditions:
3. As regards transition, the European Council notes the proposal put forward by the United Kingdom for a transition period of around two years, and agrees to negotiate a transition period covering the whole of the EU acquis, while the United Kingdom, as a third country, will no longer participate in or nominate or elect members of the EU institutions, nor participate in the decision-making of the Union bodies, offices and agencies. 
4. Such transitional arrangements, which will be part of the Withdrawal Agreement, must be in the interest of the Union, clearly defined and precisely limited in time. In order to ensure a level playing field based on the same rules applying throughout the Single Market, changes to the acquis adopted by EU institutions, bodies, offices and agencies will have to apply both in the United Kingdom and the EU. All existing Union regulatory, budgetary, supervisory, judiciary and enforcement instruments and structures will also apply, including the competence of the Court of Justice of the European Union. As the United Kingdom will continue to participate in the Customs Union and the Single Market (with all four freedoms) during the transition, it will have to continue to comply with EU trade policy, to apply EU customs tariff and collect EU customs duties, and to ensure all EU checks are being performed on the border vis-à-vis other third countries. (http://www.consilium.europa.eu/media/32236/15-euco-art50-guidelines-en.pdf )
This blogger thinks that these conditions are completely unacceptable. In March 2019 the United Kingdom will not have any members of the European Parliament, nor any commissioner, nor any person on any European Body (committees, talking shops, negotiation platforms etc) and thus the transition arrangements will be
"In the interests of the Union"
They will NOT be in the interests of the United Kingdom;  they will be in the interests of the (European) Union. In addition:
"All existing Union regulatory, budgetary, supervisory, judiciary and enforcement instruments and structures will also apply, including the competence of the Court of Justice of the European Union."
In other words, the rules of the game on the card we have just picked up from the pile say that we have to do as we are told with no say, no influence and no input and have to accept whatever it is that we are told to do without argument. The European Union has told the UK that the period will terminate at the end of 2020 which coincides with the current Multi-Annual Financial Framework period (http://ec.europa.eu/budget/mff/index_en.cfm)

If this is not accepting orders via email and fax with no say, I don't know what is. This is what, falsely, "Grossly Incompetent"  David Cameron said Norway did as an EFTA state. It doesn't. Norway has a say at the drafting stage and as the legislation develops. The United Kingdom will literally have no say. It will become a vassal state - the worst of all worlds (http://www.eureferendum.com/blogview.aspx?blogno=86705)

I am not a treaty expert nor an expert in Free Trade Agreements but the facts seem very simple. The United Kingdom will not have any kind of new trade agreement let alone a "deep and special relationship" of the kind that Mrs May wants (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/brexit-latest-talks-downing-street-theresa-may-jean-claude-juncker-michel-barnier-eu-a7704561.html) when it leaves the European Union because the rules don't allow for that.

When the United Kingdom leaves the European Union it does so without a deal and THEN as a third country negotiations on a new deal can start. 

Of course Theresa May could open negotiations to join EFTA today and negotiate to stay in the European Economic Area. As far as I am aware the United Kingdom can start to negotiate new arrangements whilst it is a member of the European Union - it just can't CONCLUDE them whilst it is a member of the European Union. 

We could negotiate that our accession to EFTA would be 2 minutes after we leave the European Union on Brexit day (thereby joining EFTA after leaving the EU and becoming a third country) and this would ameliorate many of the issues not least the issue of the Irish Border. On Brexit day we would leave the influence of the European Court of Justice and come under the influence of the EFTA court instead (http://www.eftacourt.int)

It seems to me that the United Kingdom urgently needs to learn to play the game as cleverly as the European Union is doing. The United Kingdom needs to read the rules of the game in order to play it properly.

Sunday, 31 December 2017

Working with your hands.

A person with the handle "Andy Hampton MP" has made the following tweet (as part of a series of tweets) on Twitter
"Most builders are self employed and don't want to work! Have you ever tried calling up an electrician in this day and age? Or don't you live in the real world yet?"
This tweet has annoyed me considerably.  I work in an office in front of a visual display unit every day. It strikes me that people who work with their hands, who get their hands dirty if you like, are not valued by our political class at all. 

When the Labour party declared it their aim to get 50% of young people to go to university that was in my opinion a great mistake. What they effectively did was firstly to kick 50% of the potential unemployment problem down the road by 3 years, greatly enriched universities and in the process changed many colleges of further education into universities - another mistake in that it made colleges of Further Education seem less valuable than universities. (I took two A levels and two 'O' levels at a college of further education as I did not work at school).It also greatly enriched those colleges and universities.

What they SHOULD have done (and what we could still do) is to have said that those who work with their hands have EQUAL value to those who work with their heads and sit on their backsides all day (as I do). Fully qualified builders, plasterers, painters, electricians and engineers should have their trades recognised by employers and others as 'degree equivalent' (why not?). SRN (State Registered Nurse) should have been recognised as degree equivalent by virtue of the training itself. Why not a degree in Painting or Brick laying?

The fact is that the problem with calling up an electrician in this day and age is that good electricians are hard to come by and you generally have to wait for them. I recently had the internal downstairs of my home painted and I had to wait 6 weeks for a good reliable painter - the same applies to the qualified gas fitter who tests my boiler annually. I have to work around him as he is in high demand. 

I think that the Government and Labour Party could do much worse than re-introduce apprenticeships and to give tax breaks to employers who train people to work with their hands. There could be a tax 'bonus' for every fully trained bricklayer, plasterer, plumber, electrician, painter etc that they produce. Once they had fully completed whatever the laid down training was they would be regarded as 'degree equivalent' by all employers. Who says that a plasterer is not equal to the person who works out that plasterers pay?

This can still be done. Not everyone can work well with their 'mathematical' brain. I am hopeless at working with my hands and DIY and have to employ someone else to do it because I CAN'T do it. The painter I employed was just as valuable as me - maybe MORE valuable. Their work if well done also has great value. You would pay good money for a meal why not pay good money to have your walls painted well in the colour you want?

There is massive housebuilding going on in the vicinity of where I live. Bicester, Milton Keynes, Buckingham and Aylesbury have all seen massive building programmes and we should value all the builders, plasterers, painters, ground work persons and others who make it happen. We might even reduce unemployment further. Look at the skill of making a muddy field into a housing estate with roads, drains, electrical and other infrastructure and ask yourself could you be a surveyor, builder, plasterer or painter.

There is a very good case for bringing back colleges of further education and technical schools to produce the artisans and the tradespersons of tomorrow. The fact that they have the skill to work with their hands marks them out as important people. That is the message of this post.

Those who work with their hands are just as good as you and me - maybe better.

People who work with their hands are important people.




Personal Thoughts on New Year's Eve


Having voted Leave I was hoping that the politicians would reassert their independence and leave in the best way possible to avoid harm to the economy. I have been disheartened I confess at what I perceive is the folly of a Prime Minister who seems only to listen to her special advisors, especially Nick Timothy, and no one else.

Then it suddenly dawned on me that if it is the case that I voted for decision making to be repatriated that, if MP's allow Mrs May to leave the Customs Union and Single Market (despite leaving the European Single Market being a bad decision) and do not hold the executive backside to the fire then that is what I voted for. I have achieved what I voted for and my vote has counted precisely because the elected House of Commons has decided to emasculate itself. Maybe the next generation of politicians will understand self government better and do a better job.

What I have found especially difficult however is that 18 months after the referendum there are still arguments about the validity of the vote and how the campaigns were conducted and funded. Let us take it as read that both sides lied. I am especially concerned about all the fuss about 'the £350 million' bus. There were commentators at the time (before the date of the referendum), usually independent bloggers like Dr Richard North at EU Referendum (www.eureferendum.com) who said that the bus was a lie and he was a Leave champion. Some on the Leave side were horrified by what was done to promote the Leave cause.

My response is that lying was not a Leave speciality. President Obama, Christine Lagarde, Mark Carney, Gideon (George) Osborn and David Cameron all lied. Mr Cameron started off with all the advantages. He was able to dictate the passage of the EU Referendum bill, he was able to frame the terms of reference of the referendum (the age of the voters, the majority required etc.), he was able to nominate the date and to stop the civil service from looking at even the possibility of a Leave win. Despite all this advantage, Remain lost.

It now seems that there was overspending or at least spending manipulation by both sides and the Electoral Commission are investigating claims and counter claims of overspending. I would personally like to see some method of enforcing spending limits even if that means the electoral commission being able to enforce by-elections in constituencies of the worst offenders.

I am dismayed most of all by the personal nature of the attacks. Remain supporters seem to have been totally taken aback by the fact that Leave won and have spent the last 18 months trying to find reasons. The old outvoted the young. Even the irredeemably awful Nick Clegg has said this. How old is old? On a personal note I have had to reassess my own definition of old. Clearly I am no longer young and must count myself as an older voter. Leave voters were ignorant and were taken in by 'The Bus' and the regions decided to ignore the wisdom of the London Metropolitan elite.

I thought that growing older might give a deeper insight and wisdom to people like me whose young views have developed and changed over the years. Apparently not. I am an old fossil who has ensured that my heirs will be forever poor by my vote. I do not accept this.

I think the calling of a second referendum to validate or overturn the first would be disastrously destructive and I cannot believe any Government will countenance it. If we are to rejoin the European Union, a  political party will have to put rejoining the EU in its manifesto and gain a majority Government for that manifesto in a General Election. My personal view is that I can't see that happening within the next 20 years (I could be proved to be wrong).

I would still like the Government to go down the EFTA route and hope that the European Union negotiators will urge the EFTA option on us. The fact that Iceland, the President of the EFTA court, Norway, the European Union have all suggested it is not to harm the United Kingdom in my opinion but to assist the United Kingdom in achieving the best possible result for its electorate as a  consequences of the referendum decision itself.

In the meantime, my New Year's wish is that we would stop name calling. Supposing that older voters did indeed vote to Leave the European Union, they did not do that because they were old necessarily. They might have done it because they realised the arguments about what the EU was. Let us please argue about what we SAY and not what we look like. Debate the argument and not the person. I happen to believe that some of what Diane Abbott or John Redwood say and write is rubbish on its own terms and not because of their gender or ethnicity. It is why I refuse to put my photo on Twitter or this site. I don't want to be judged on what I look like or my haircut. I want to be judged on what I say and write. I try not to attack people for themselves (although a couple of times I have been tempted). 

My New Year's resolution is to try to blog more often - I really do admire how people like Dr Richard North do their daily output when there must be occasions when they are disheartened. Positive feedback is always appreciated but I will also prominently correct any errors that I make or are pointed out to me. As it says in most books, any errors are mine and will be corrected whenever possible.

I will also try to maintain my position of not insulting people as individuals but for the incontinence or otherwise of what they say and write. Not all my blogs will be on the European Union but about my vision of what the United Kingdom should look like as it leaves that Union. 

I have found that I love my country more than I thought.

Happy New Year

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

A Tribute to the Services Dead


I am not brave enough to serve in the services and I am in awe and humbled that people do and sometimes risk their lives in doing so. I usually make a point of watching the Service of Remembrance at the Albert Hall and recording and then watching the ceremony from the Cenotaph in London on Remembrance Sunday. 

It is my opinion that it is to the eternal shame of our politicians that none of them seemed to go to Royal Wootton Bassett for the repatriation of the military dead (who went to die on their orders) that passed through there on their way from RAF Lyneham to John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford. 

It is even worse that when RAF Lyneham closed the Government ensured that the repatriated dead were sent to John Radcliffe Hospital via a 'back door' (the Britannia Gate) from RAF Brize Norton. Anyone with any doubt should read this by Peter Hitchens (http://hitchensblog.mailonsunday.co.uk/2013/09/thoughts-on-repatriation-and-how-the-government-really-views-the-deaths-of-soldiers.html):
‘HERE'S the truth about the Government's decision to route the hearses of soldiers killed in its various stupid wars away from any of the nation's High Streets. 
This comes into effect very soon, when the bodies of the dead start to arrive at RAF Brize Norton, next to the Oxfordshire town of Carterton. 
Junior Defence Minister Andrew Robathan stumbled a bit trying to deal with this in Parliament on Monday. 
First, he disclosed that the back gate of the RAF base, through which the hearses will pass, is to be renamed the Britannia Gate. Who thinks of these things? The Downing Street cat? Were I to rename the back door of my house the Britannia Door, it would still be the back door. 
Then he said that the route through Carterton was unsuitable for corteges because it has speed bumps. So does the bypass route that the processions will actually take, as Mr Robathan ought to know. 
He added that Carterton's streets were 'very narrow'. I doubt that they are narrower than those of Wootton Bassett, and plan to check them myself, unless anyone has measurements to hand. 
But he was rescued from his confusion by a fellow Unconservative, the North Wiltshire MP James Gray. Mr Gray asked: 'Does the Minister agree that it might not be possible, nor indeed quite right, to seek to replicate the Wootton Bassett effect elsewhere, as that was a chapter in our history? I am not sure we necessarily want to see it repeated elsewhere.' 
Mr Robathan eagerly responded, saying Mr Gray had made 'a very good point'. Really? What was so good about it? I wonder who Mr Gray means when he says that 'we' do not want to see Wootton Bassett's spontaneous, unofficial, genuine expression of respect for courage, discipline and loyalty to be repeated. He certainly doesn't speak for me.’

If you look at this piece of film from The Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance 2015 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AfhrDpErodY) and watch from 44 minutes 46 to 49 minutes 16 to be greatly moved by this segment on the death of service personnel and the loss of the families too.

For those who died at sea, the Royal and Merchant Navies there is often no grave, just the deep of the sea. I found this poem by Eileen Mahoney and think it is a wonderful dedication to them: http://www.iwvpa.net/mahoneye/index.php
In ocean wastes no poppies blow,
 
No crosses stand in ordered row,
 
Their young hearts sleep... 
beneath the wave...
 
The spirited, the good, the brave,
 
But stars a constant vigil keep,
 
For them who lie beneath the deep.


There is this piece from Semi-Partisan politics (https://semipartisansam.com/2017/10/20/the-best-one-percent/) about statements made in the United States and the first 15 minutes of this film deserves to be (and is just) 'must see' viewing.
Most Americans don’t know what happens when we lose one of soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, our Coast Guardsmen in combat. So let me tell you what happens: Their buddies wrap them up in whatever passes as a shroud, puts them on a helicopter as a routine, and sends them home. Their first stop along the way is when they’re packed in ice, typically at the airhead. And then they’re flown to, usually, Europe where they’re then packed in ice again and flown to Dover Air Force Base, where Dover takes care of the remains, embalms them, meticulously dresses them in their uniform with the medals that they’ve earned, the emblems of their service, and then puts them on another airplane linked up with a casualty officer escort that takes them home.
Young men and women volunteer for the armed services and of course they take the risks that come with that decision. They must serve wherever the elected Government (elected by the electorate) sends them. Some will die doing what they have been told to do. 

In my view, whatever we think of the politicians and political decisions made in sending service personnel to conflict and war zones, it is my duty (yes duty) to remember that they died for the cause of the United Kingdom at that particular moment 
O valiant hearts who to your glory came 
Through dust of conflict and through battle flame; 
Tranquil you lie, your knightly virtue proved, 
Your memory hallowed in the land you loved.

Of Course I respect those who will not or do not want to wear a poppy. There should be no media or popular clatter against the choice of people like John Snow. That's the point really. Their personal freedom of choice was partly earned by those that died in order to obtain and defend it.

I went to visit the battlefields of the Ypres salient this year. Standing under the Menin gate and listening to the last post being sounded surrounded by the names of the dead with no known grave is deeply moving. Swallowed by the mud.
They shall grow not old as we that are left grow old. 
Age shall not weary them; nor the years' condemn. 
At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, 
we WILL remember them

Saturday, 28 October 2017

The European Union Perspective

It seems to me that this blog and other commentators have looked at Brexit entirely from a United Kingdom perspective. Take a quick look at this from the perspective of the remaining members of the European Union - the EU27.

Let us look at Southern Ireland. It has a great deal of traffic plying from Dublin to Liverpool and Dublin to Holyhead. This week there were two items of interest with regard to Dublin port. 

The first is that the Irish State has started dredging Dublin Bay (https://afloat.ie/port-news/dublin-port/item/37526-dredging-in-dublin-port-begins-with-material-dumped-in-dublin-bay) and the second is the introduction of the world's "largest Ro-Ro Ferry" (https://afloat.ie/port-news/dublin-port/item/37536-world-s-largest-ro-ro-ferry-to-be-introduced-on-dublin-routes-linking-mainland-europe) which will:
make a maiden call this week to Dublin Port from Zeebrugge and is to be followed with an introduction on the Rotterdam route
The obvious reason for doing this is so that Ireland's goods and animal exports can avoid the island of Great Britain and ply from Dublin Port to Belgium (Zeebrugge) and Holland (Rotterdam). If the French berthing points are deep enough expect to see direct routes from Dublin to France. 

This will directly affect the ports of Holyhead and Liverpool. It would seem unlikely that unemployment would not be caused in Holyhead by such action. It is surprising that the Welsh Assembly and its leader Carwyn Jones has not picked this up.

With regard to Border Inspection Posts or Points (BIP), there are three in Southern Ireland: Dublin Port, Dublin Airport and Shannon Airport. For the purposes of this blog, in France there is Brest, Dunkirk and Le Havre. In Belgium there is Ostende and Zeebrugge. In Holland there is Rotterdam. (https://ec.europa.eu/food/animals/vet-border-control/bip-contacts_en) 

Note that Calais is not a BIP and neither is Dover.

Dunkirk has recently been extended and can cope with 5000 consignments a year. Nowhere near enough for the volume of traffic that will hit it in the event of a No Deal World Trade Organisation (WTO) only Brexit. Last time I travelled with Eurotunnel there was a plaque on the side of the train that said:
"Via the Channel Tunnel. Each year, Eurotunnel carries 1,600,000 trucks to and from the UK with a total trade of £91 billion"

Don't forget that the European Union is not leaving the United Kingdom. The United Kingdom is leaving the European Union.

Why should Ireland, France, Belgium or Holland expand their Border Inspection Posts to ameliorate the fact the United Kingdom is leaving the European Union? Why should any of these four countries employ more border force personnel or BIP personnel or Veterinary Surgeons because we are leaving? If you were a member of the Government of any of these states wouldn't you say:
"Look, you are leaving and need more BIP capacity, you are going to have to pay for it and their staff, salary and pensions."
I know I would be tempted to do so if I were them. 

Returning to Ireland, there is the vexed question of the Irish Border.  Whilst the Island of Ireland is not united the Irish Border CANNOT be ignored. It is 300 miles long. It undulates and crosses farms leaving some fields in the North and some in the South. The border posts have gone. I saw a tweet where it was stated that one post was now a boxing gym.

The point being that the Irish border is the only land border between the United Kingdom and the European Union. If Mrs May is true to her word, Antrim will not be in the European Single Market whilst Dublin will be. To ensure the integrity of the single market, the border will have to be enforced.
In terms of scale, 91,000 Irish companies trade with the UK. After Brexit, their customs declarations will create an eight-fold increase in paperwork volume. There will be special permits, extra investment, more paperwork and potential delays. Ports and airports will need extra infrastructure, such as temporary storage facilities for customs clearance. The Revenue itself will need a big increase in staffing levels. (http://www.eureferendum.com/blogview.aspx?blogno=86630) 

The European Union has also got its own agenda to consider. Under the Treaty of Rome it is:
"DETERMINED to establish the foundations of an ever closer union among the European peoples"
https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Treaty_establishing_the_European_Economic_Community and that is what it is intending to do. There has been in the press discussion of a new treaty amongst the Euro States and amongst the wider (European) Union having a single Finance Minister and diluting still further national states veto and increasing the use of Qualified Majority Voting (QMV). There is even discussion of a European Union Army. Why wouldn't they? 

The European Union is determined to retain the integrity of the European Single Market of which it is a part with Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein and it will not allow the United Kingdom to become an ad hoc member whilst not following the rules of that market.

There are those who say that the United Kingdom complies with all the rules now so it will continue to do that after it leaves. That's the point though. The United Kingdom is leaving.

The United Kingdom leaves and the European Regulatory Regime ceases when we leave because we are not a member so AFTER we leave the European Union can only ensure we obey the Regulatory Regime (the rules) of the market if we do the administration i.e. the paperwork.

No Deal means a WTO regime as some politicians have said. If the United Kingdom has Memorandums of Understanding (MOU's) or Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRA's) or Free Trade Agreements (FTA's) that is NOT a WTO only regime. That's a deal or deals.

After the United Kingdom leaves under a No Deal WTO only regime it will have to allow imports of goods which it would not have allowed if it were in the European Single Market and so the European Union will want to ensure that its market is not undermined by such goods entering the market.

I do not think this is unreasonable. I am a leave voter remember. I just think that's logical. There will be barriers to Trade.

If we leave under a No Deal WTO only regime then access to databases and interfaces will cease. United Kingdom driving licences will no longer be recognised. This will impact on all who drive on the continent on holiday or on business. 

All this because the Utterly Useless Conservative Government led by 'President' Theresa May insists that the United Kingdom must leave the European Single Market. As Faisal Islam tweeted:
... the need for this call rather goes to illustrate that being in the Single Market is not the same as being in the EU
The United Kingdom should apply for EFTA membership. Many of the above issues would be ameliorated if we did. We would stay in the European Single Market for a start. Iceland wants us to join. Norway wants us to join, the President of the EFTA court wants us to join, Michel Barnier has publicly suggested it. The European Union has even said that we can invoke Article 112 of the EEA Treaty if we do. Let's do it.

No Deal is NOT a credible option. 

Saturday, 21 October 2017

The Queen


Elizabeth Alexandra Mary, Her Majesty The Queen.

I am not a fan of memorial services to be honest. I think that you should tell people how wonderful they are whilst they are here to hear it. A friend of mine recently left the area and at a farewell lunch I told him what a good friend he had been.

Since it is highly unlikely that I will ever have lunch with The Queen it seems that the only way of lauding her is through the impersonal (but very personal) blog.

The Queen has recently said that she will watch the Remembrance Sunday parade from the Foreign Office building and that the Prince of Wales will lay her wreath as well as his own.

It is sad that this decision has been made but The Queen is 91 and an age when most would be well retired or no longer with us so it is understandable.


"I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and to our great imperial family to which we all belong."
It is quite an achievement for anyone to have lived up to a pledge made whilst young for 70 years but the fact is that The Queen has done so and without complaint. It would be hell in my view to live under the spotlight all the time and whilst it would be fun to have people run around after you for a week I think it would soon pale.

The Queen is the only monarch anyone under 65 has known and she has fulfilled her role in an exemplary way in my view. Certainly I will not live to see any other monarch reign for 65 years.

It is difficult to explain exactly what it is that she represents. All I can say is that she represents to me at least Country and feelings of patriotism and sometimes emotion. None of us is irreplaceable but I think I would echo what Kenneth Baker said about another female leader
We shall not see her like again


 Perhaps this best describes my feelings 
Thy choicest gifts in store 
On her be pleased to pour 
long may she reign. 
May she defend our laws
and ever give us cause
to sing with heart and voice
God Save The Queen


Tuesday, 17 October 2017

No Deal is NOT a credible option (A political reboot)


No Deal is NOT a credible option

It seems quite clear to me that this Utterly Useless Conservative Government is, despite all warnings and recommendations, going to go for 'No Deal' - a Hard Brexit. In the view of many this would be a disaster. 

Richard North of EUReferendum has posted many articles of which this is an example: (http://www.eureferendum.com/blogview.aspx?blogno=86636) Pete North (http://peterjnorth.blogspot.co.uk/2017/10/brexit-stupidity-squared.html), 
Oliver Norgrove (http://www.norgroveblog.co.uk/2017/09/the-wto-threat-is-bee-sting.html) and many on Twitter are queuing up with warnings. I have posted a few myself: 

The principal reason for this is that the Westminster 'Village', the SW1A bubble if you like only speak and listen to each other. It seem difficult if not impossible for them to break the mould. I include in this group the BBC and its commentators such as Laura Kuenssberg and Andrew Neil. When they speak to the public, we seem to be used as filler between self reverential pieces to camera.

We need to break this and reboot our politics. A good place to start would be The Harrogate Agenda
 (http://harrogateagenda.org.uk)
Our six demands... 
1. Recognition of our sovereignty: 
The peoples of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland comprise the ultimate authority of their nations and are the source of all political power. That fact shall be recognised by the Crown and the Governments of our nations, and our Parliaments and Assemblies 
2. Real local democracy: 
The foundation of our democracy shall be the counties (or other local units as may be defined), which shall become constitutional bodies exercising under the control of their peoples all powers of legislation, taxation and administration not specifically granted by the people to the national government; 
3. Separation of powers: 
The executive shall be separated from the legislature. To that effect, prime ministers shall be elected by popular vote; they shall appoint their own ministers, with the approval of parliament, to assist in the exercise of such powers as may be granted to them by the sovereign people of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland; no prime ministers or their ministers shall be members of parliament or any legislative assembly; 
4. The people’s consent: 
No law, treaty or government decision shall take effect without the consent of the majority of the people, by positive vote if so demanded, and that none shall continue to have effect when that consent is withdrawn by the majority of the people; 
5. No taxation or spending without consent 
No tax, charge or levy shall be imposed, nor any public spending authorised, nor any sum borrowed by any national or local government except with the express approval the majority of the people, renewed annually on presentation of a budget which shall first have been approved by their respective legislatures; 
6. A constitutional convention: 
Parliament, once members of the executive are excluded, must host a constitutional convention to draw up a definitive codified constitution for the peoples of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. It shall recognise their sovereign status and their inherent, inalienable rights and which shall be subject to their approval. 
 Let us look at Point 3:
3. Separation of powers: 
The executive shall be separated from the legislature. To that effect, prime ministers shall be elected by popular vote; they shall appoint their own ministers, with the approval of parliament, to assist in the exercise of such powers as may be granted to them by the sovereign people of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland; no prime ministers or their ministers shall be members of parliament or any legislative assembly;
Anyone could stand to be Prime Minister. They would have to campaign for votes locally and then nationally to be elected. They would not necessarily come from any political party. You could thus have an election between Nigel Farage, Nicola Sturgeon, Theresa May and Kier Starmer. 

The winner would be Prime Minister but NOT a member of Parliament. That Prime Minister would be able to choose ministers from all walks of life (service chiefs, surgeons, nurses, teachers, heads of companies etc.) to serve in their cabinets. Such ministers would have to be vetted by and approved by Parliament either by a select committee or by the whole House.

Those ministers would not be MP's but they (and the Prime Minister) would answer questions on the floor of the House of Commons. These appearances before the elected House would be mandatory. The legislature would thus have a free hand in holding them properly to account without having to be answerable to a party system or the whips.

I have written before about local Government and abolishing the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) (
http://leavetheeuropeanunion.blogspot.co.uk/2017/08/a-personal-vision-for-britain.html) and it seems to me that point 2 in very important in this regard:
Real local democracy: 
The foundation of our democracy shall be the counties (or other local units as may be defined), which shall become constitutional bodies exercising under the control of their peoples all powers of legislation, taxation and administration not specifically granted by the people to the national government
The House of Commons should not be discussing the local bus service in Newcastle Upon Tyne or the local walk-in centre in Corby. This should be the responsibility of the County Council or Local Council. I am in favour of abolishing all National Grants to local authorities. 

Return the central tax to the taxpayer and make the County Council raise their own local tax and be responsible for spending it and being accountable to the people for their actions.

If Scotland and Wales wanted more independence from England and a majority of their peoples wanted it they would be allowed to have it except for Defence, Security (MI5, MI6, GCHQ) and Foreign and Commonwealth Office and any taxation powers essential to keep these services running. Everything else would be devolved.

Turning to money there is Point 5:

No taxation or spending without consent: 
No tax, charge or levy shall be imposed, nor any public spending authorised, nor any sum borrowed by any national or local government except with the express approval the majority of the people, renewed annually on presentation of a budget which shall first have been approved by their respective legislatures;
It seems to me that if you can confirm your electoral registration or vote for your favourite celebrity on "Strictly Come Dancing" via telephone then it is entirely possible to vote for (or against!) the budget via telephone.

The point of this post is that the political class seems not to be listening or, if it is listening is not hearing the message which is this:
The Conservative Party can if it wishes for purely selfish party ends - to keep the party united, to placate its think tanks and to abase itself before its donors go for a hard Brexit which will mean in the short term: 
No flights outside UK airspace (because no flight plan can be logged because access to EU databases and interfaces will cease on exit), Dover which is not even a Border Inspection Point (Post) or BIP will become a car park, registration of medicines and chemicals will be compromised, live animal exports will probably cease (the nearest BIP in France is in Dunkirk which can manage 5000 consignments a year), Horse Racing and Formula 1 will be endangered and there may be food shortages. 
If they do this however it will lead to an horrendous economic downturn and political wipeout for the Conservative party (the only bright spot in the whole landscape). They will not be forgiven in a generation.
The British people have allowed their (our) political class a huge amount of slack and we must never allow them to have that much or anything like that much ever again. 

Let the people reclaim THEIR power from the politicians.

No Deal is NOT a credible option