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But Welcome Sight
David Davis has aroused much eyeball-rolling from his party colleagues and faux derision from Labour at his bold decision to resign and fight a bye-election on the subject, in broad terms, of Liberty. Yet anything which can draw together on one platform Tony Benn and someone of otherwise a more right-wing cast altogether cannot simply be laughed off by our smug political elite.
Such is Labour’s conviction that its promotion of the Stasi State finds favour with Englishmen that it has not had the courage to put up a candidate to defend its position. After only two disastrous bye-elections it has simply folded its tent and left the field rather than risk come twenty-sixth after, to name but a few, the candidate of the Church of the Militant Elvis Party or the one standing under the label ‘Make Politicians History’. They are the real losers here.
In the United States the struggle for Liberty goes on, two hundred and thirty years after the American Revolution set our former colonies on the path to freedom. Of late the US Government has, in pursuit of its own defence, lost sight of the vital importance of balancing our needs for security against the dangers of eroding freedoms that were hard-won over centuries both there and in this country whose traditions gave birth to those of the United States.
So it is with considerable pleasure that I record some fine Judicial language on the topic of one of our essential liberties, that of the right to the issue of a writ of Habeas Corpus, the “The Great Writ” of habeas corpus ad subjiciendum, from the Majority of the United States Supreme Court in the case of BOUMEDIENE ET AL. v. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, ET AL. [No. 06–1195.553 U. S. ____ (2008)], a case which was brought by a detainee at the Guantanamo Detention Camp.
In holding that the lower courts should entertain an application for the writ to issue, the majority said, inter alia, this:
Unlike the President and some designated Members of Congress, neither the Members of this Court nor most Federal judges begin the day with briefings that may describe new and serious threats to our Nation and its people. The law must accord the Executive substantial authority to apprehend and detain those who pose a real danger to our security.
Officials charged with daily operational responsibility for our security may consider a judicial discourse on the history of the Habeas Corpus Act of 1679 and like matters to be far removed from the Nation’s present, urgent concerns.
Established legal doctrine, however, must be consulted for its teaching. Remote in time it may be; irrelevant to the present it is not. Security depends upon a sophisticated intelligence apparatus and the ability of our Armed Forces to act and to interdict. There are further considerations, however. Security subsists, too, in fidelity to freedom’s first principles. Chief among these are freedom from arbitrary and unlawful restraint and the personal liberty that is secured by adherence to the separation of powers. It is from these principles that the judicial authority to consider petitions for habeas corpus relief derives.
Our opinion does not undermine the Executive’s powers as Commander-in-Chief. On the contrary, the exercise of those powers is vindicated, not eroded, when confirmed by the Judicial Branch. Within the Constitution’s separation-of-powers structure, few exercises of judicial power are as legitimate or as necessary as the responsibility to hear challenges to the authority of the Executive to imprison a person. Some of these petitioners have been in custody for six years with no definitive judicial determination as to the legality of their detention. Their access to the writ is a necessity to determine the lawfulness of their status, even if, in the end, they do not obtain the relief they seek.
It bears repeating that our opinion does not address the content of the law that governs petitioners’ detention. That is a matter yet to be determined. We hold that petitioners may invoke the fundamental procedural protections of habeas corpus. The laws and Constitution are designed to survive, and remain in force, in extraordinary times. Liberty and security can be reconciled; and in our system they are reconciled within the framework of the law. The Framers decided that habeas corpus, a right of first importance, must be a part of that framework, a part of that law.
There are, of course, in these islands, some who would cheerfully lock up anyone they suspected, however tenuously, of being a terrorist and throw the key away. Many, but not all, of those would also probably favour castrating rapists and hanging child killers and such harmless bits of fun as dancing on the village green round a Maypole. They miss the point. Their liberty to express such views is, in part, guaranteed by such laws as this which go to make up a bundle of laws and rights which one might loosely call ‘The Liberties of England’.
Those in turn are, in part, what makes us Englishmen. To disown them is to disown ourselves.
upwardly-mobile couple, with much to
be happily upwardly-mobile about,
thanks to lots of wonga from the Taxpayer
No person shall be denied the right to education. In the exercise of any functions which it assumes in relation to education and to teaching, the State shall respect the right of parents to ensure such education and teaching in conformity with their own religions and philosophical convictions.
This, in turn, must be read with Article 14 of the main Convention:
The enjoyment of the rights and freedoms set forth in this Convention shall be secured without discrimination on any ground such as sex, race, colour, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, association with a national minority, property, birth or other status.
Thus the citizens of the United Kingdom enjoy a right to education which must be afforded to them ‘without discrimination on any ground such as….other status’.
The fact that it will be made easier for one group of students – those from State Schools – to qualify for a University Place for which a middle class student from a fee-paying school has to get higher qualifications is to discriminate on the grounds of status.
That, of course, is quite apart from the inherent evil of discriminating against the middle classes simply because they are successful and using such social engineering to make up for the abject failure of Labour’s pet education project, the Comprehensive School, which over its some forty years of life has achieved the singular feat of destroying the chance of a half-decent edcuation for huge swathes of our people.
The Comprehensive system has always been about levelling all schools down to the level of the worst – so that its clientele might be equally badly educated – and after ten years of further hard work damaging the fabric of that education system they now seek to remedy the fact that it has singularly failed by destroying our universities as well.
It is, one might think, no wonder that, compared with fifty years ago and more, social mobility has been stalled. Now social mobility is to be kick-started by promoting the mediocre at the expense of the good so as to save Labour’s blushes concerning its utter failurer on the education front.
Still, Ed Balls, aided and abetted by his fishwife partner, the shrill and chippy Yvette Cooper, know a thing or two about social mobility, don’t they?
As they enrich themselves by telling the House of Commons that their second home is the flash pad in London whilst telling the Revenue that their house in Yorkshire is their second home, the former for the purposes of helping themselves to lots of taxpayer’s money and the latter to ensure they minimise their liability to Capital Gains Tax, they should be adept at giving a lecture on how one might promote social mobility.
Such a scheme may well be within the rules, but is it moral?
For certain, though, it is rank hypocrisy.
that thumb long before we are
saved from his incompetence
Everyone, bar the mulish lickspittles who would praise this broken reed come what may, is therefore agreed: Gordon Brown acted in 2007 not in the national interst when setting the Budget but for the narrow sectarian electoral interests of the Labour Party.
Few should now doubt but that that self same narrow sectarian interest guides almost every decision he makes: how will this or that enhance my and my party’s standing with the electorate? The 10% Tax rate abolition was done only for those reasons and was designed to be the centrepiece for a General Election in the autumn of 2007 or early spring of 2008 (before the effect of the rate kicked in).
Instead McStalin returned to the drawing board once more to nuance the political calculations of his and his party’s interest and his gutless yellow streak welled up inside him and he picked up his skirts and fled the scene.
Thus he was hoist with his own petard, doomed to sit and wonder for the next six months when his illusionist’s trick would come back to haunt him, as inevitably it would. Sure enough it came back to bite him just in time to cause a veritable train-wreck to the election results of this Spring, in local elections and in the London Mayoralty. Those who live by the Magician’s trick, die by it too.
Now his own party manoeuvres to see just how clear a shot it can get at his back with a view to plunging a very large knife into it.
We have, of course, been told that the Chancellor is going to fix Gordon Brown’s shabby little trick by spending £2.7 bn of YOUR money to buy back the affections of those affected by his stunt. Or at least we thought it would be £2.7 bn. We now discover that it is going to cost at least another £1 bn to sort the mess out completely:
“The 13 May measures, whilst welcome, do not go far enough. There are still 1.1 million losing households, many of whom are on low income incomes and who are being hit hard by rising food and fuel prices and the slowdown in the economy.
“The government’s short-term priority must be to make every effort to compensate these people in full. The government must not let this issue slide into the background and will need to produce fresh proposals to fully compensate these 1.1 million households by the time of the 2008 pre-budget report.”
And that, says The Times, will cost an extra £1 bn.
The Labour Gerrymander has now reached the stage where it not merely attempts to fiddle the electoral rules to its own considerable advantage, but it now treats the earnings of every Briton and British company as being its own private piggy bank which it might plunder at will to shore up its own rapidly-declining position, to help lift it up once more from the degradation into which it has fallen.
Thus Gordon Brown and His (Not so) Merrie Men turn the story of Robin Hood on its head: now they rob the rich, the well-off, the comfortable, the struggling and the poor to pay for Labour’s prospects at the Ballot Box.
Fortunately the long-suffering British public, who in 1997 were bamboozled once more by Smuggo into letting Labour loose on their wallets, have had the lessons of 1945-1951, 1964-1970 and 1974-1979 forced down their throats once more. As a result we are witnessing, I believe, what will be the swiftest and most comprehensive descent into oblivion of any modern democratic political party of comparable size in the Western World. Such is the depths of their demise that it is entirely possible, if things remain as they and Labour’s decline continues, there may be less than 150 Socialists in the next Parliament, perhaps even less than 100.
It always ends thus, with the nation prostrate after a right good mugging by Labour. This time we ought to try and find a way of marginalising them completely. If that meant the odd five years here and there of rule by whatever left of centre party might emerge from the ruins, one that acknowledged the folly of ‘tax and spend, spend, spend’, that might be something we could put up with in between lengthy periods of a party that can take us to a place where we might describe ourselves as having a low-tax regime whereby we have become, as a nation, as rich as Creosus.
The worry, though, is the extent to which this irresponsible Prime Minister will continue to mortgage our nation’s future for his own shabby political ends as he conducts a scorched earth policy in advance of his own total eclipse. That will make our recovery even harder when The Tory party returns in 2010.
As McStalin confronts the ruin he has made after just one year in office as PM but ten as Chancellor, he will not be comforted by the thought that the best one can say of him is that he, and he alone, is principally responsible for it. He should, however, remember that history will remember him much less generously: it will in time label him as a political crook, a charlatan and a coward.
that ‘Sir’ Comrade Chairman
Bob Mugabe was regularly
bullied by two school prefects
The Foreign & Commonwealth Office took Comrade Bob’s Knighthood away today. That is the news but the scandal is that he had it in the first place. Douglas Hurd, who affected a Senior Moment and not to recall the occasion on Question Time the other night, gave it him in 1994 by which time it was a well-established fact that Mugabe was a blood-soaked tyrant.
More to the point it was well established that he was a criminal, he having set his genocidal, North Korean-trained Shona attack dogs on the hapless Matabele people in the early 1980s. But he was coming to dinner and what do you give one of the richest men in Africa that he has not already got?
The FCO specialises in this nauseating sort of cuddling up to dictators – they were big chums of Nicolas Causescu of Romania in his heyday – and everyone should be wondering why they placed Her Majesty in the embarrassing position of having to act on their rotten advice.
Meanwhile erstwhile Mugabe-lover Peter Hain finally got to his feet and denounced his former hero in Parliament. That Mugabe has been a genocidal racist criminal responsible for the death, torture and persecution of tens of thouseands of Zimbabweans over the last twenty-seven years seems until now to have escaped him. It really is a bit late to find your voice when you are actually at the gates of Damascus.
and scary Apparatchik
Guido draws attention to yet further evidence of Labour’s headlong dash for the Stasi Heights of British politics where they plan to squat alongside the British National Party (BNP) with this piece of authoritarian nastiness from Liam Byrne, Home Office Minister of State for Borders and Immigration. Talk about a lurch to the right!
Now he opines on the BBC, playing to the BNP claque in the Gods. There has been a plan to make families put up a deposit of £1,000 for visiting relatives to ensure they left the UK on time were unveiled in December 2007.
The problem with this daft idea was that £1000 was always going to be cheap at the price, a mere bagatelle when people routinely pay huge sums, tens of thousands of pounds at a time, to be smuggled illegally into the UK.
So this deeply troubling functionary has come up with another wheeze:
“On the other hand, people said for family weddings and so on you’ve got to sponsor all the people and people are just not going to have that kind of money – so what we want to do is have a new system but punish people if things go wrong.”
Rather than asking from money upfront, Mr Byrne said, the government now wanted to “make sure that we can just hit people and hit people hard if their family member breaks the rules”.
This can only involve punishing X on account of the criminal act of Y, or, as Guido puts it, engaging in collective punishment of a group of people when one of their number steps out of line. He makes the comparison with the activities of the Germans in WW2 engaging in collective punishment of civilians.
‘Collective Punishments’ in the context of the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and more particularly the Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of Non-International Armed Conflicts (Protocol II)[Article 4], which the UK signed in 1977 and ratified in 1998, are unlawful and amount to serious war crimes. If this proposal were to be carried into law, would they not carry with them the same sort of moral opprobrium?
And how can punishing X for the crime of Y be said to be acceptable?
Do not get me wrong. I am fully in favour of controls on immigration, strong ones designed in part to avoid any further diminution of our culture and national homogeneity. But this can be achieved by means both lawful and moral by any Government with the will and determination to effect meaningful protection of our borders. Reaching for the sort of methods deployed by Germany between 1939-1945 in occupied Europe is not one of them.
As for Mr. Byrne his name too has been bandied about as a potential successor to Mr. Brown. After a Tory Tsunami in 2010 he may be one of the few members of the Government left in Parliament as he has a very safe seat in Birmingham where he has a 9,000 majority over the Lib ‘Dems’. If he must be Labour’s next leader, let it be soon that he might play Labour’s Hague or Iain Duncan Smith to the Tories’ Cameron. He should help keep Labour out of power for a generation.
to the Home Office
genuflexion to the
Kelvin Mackenzie Tendency
Once again the instant response of Her Majesty’s Ministers when faced with a judgement of the House of Lords which strikes at the creeping oppression being introduced into our system of criminal trials is a rapid flexing of the knees, followed by a threat to ‘legislate immediately’ to cure the problem. Being an ill-considered move they will act in haste only to repent at leisure.
Our whiny, erstwhile dope-smoking Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, who thinks she knows a populist measure when see sees it, has rushed to promise that Parliament will be invited to rectify the situation concerning the use of anonymous witnesses, the law pertaining to which was roundly affirmed by the House of Lords in R v Davis (Appellant) (On appeal from the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division))  UKHL 36, almost before the ink from their Lordships’ pens is dry.
Plainly this is a woman who has a Canute-like belief in her own survivability. Terrified of the sort of excoriation that the likes of The Sun, The Daily Mail, Kelvin Mackenzie, Uncle Tom Cobley and all might visit upon her and the sinking Government of which she is a member, she has opened her mouth well before her civil servants and legal advisers will have had time to distil the essence of the judgement into a form readily comprehensible by second-hand comprehensive school teachers.
It was recently mooted by some particularly deranged member of the MSM that Jacqui Smith is a possible replacement for Gordon Brown. She had this put to her, I recall, on one of the Sunday political programmes upon which she visibly and rapidly self-inflated to an alarming degree. That this particularly second-rate individual, who has been over-promoted to one of the great Offices of State for what one strongly suspects are reasons of political correctness, might be advanced as a potential incumbent of Ten Downing Street is testimony merely to the desertification of talent that has taken place in the present Labour Cabinet. Those who continue to believe this tosh have obviously forgotten that she is MP for Redditch where she has a majority of 2716 over the Tories and will be one of the earliest to drown in the blue tide which looks set to engulf Labour whenever the election might be.
Were Gordon Brown to be hustled to the windows of Number Ten Downing Street and defenestrated by his Cabinet colleagues one morning, even the dimbos in the ranks of The Ovine & Bovine might think it a bad idea to choose as their next leader a woman who, having been in Parliament for all of ten years, will be one of the first of ‘Blair’s Babes’ to be sent packing to the oblivion of unemployability that awaits all such second-raters when the Blue Tsunami sweeps over the parapet of Parliament, circa June 2010.
But I digress.
The proposal to legislate forthwith to cure the problem raised by R v Davis is just what one would expect of this administration: Ill thought-out, hasty and doomed to failure.
Why so?, I hear you ask. Surely Parliament may legislate as it pleases?
Since 1972 we have become used, inured even, to the ability of Parliament to legislate as it pleases being restricted. Most of that restriction lies in the fact that successive and utterly supine Governments of hues red and blue have handed over that ability to unelected foreigners in Brussels. But some of the problem goes back even longer: to the signing in 1950 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
In force since our ratification of that Convention, it has taken on much greater immediacy in our law since the passing of the Human Rights Act 1998 which incorporated the Convention into English law directly.
The judgement in R v Davis provides substantial planks for the rule which undoubtedly subsists both in the Common Law and in the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights: that rule is “that no conviction should be based solely or to a decisive extent upon the statements or testimony of anonymous witnesses”. (per Lord Bingham of Cornhill).
Lord Bingham sets out in extenso the origins and development over many hundreds of years of that rule in the common law and Lord Mance sets out the development of the rule in Strasbourg jurisprudence.
Therein lies the problem. Parliament can legislate all it wants (for the moment) to vary the common law. But unless and until the UK (a) repeals the 1998 Act and (b) withdraws from The European Convention on Human Rights, the rule will remain in effect and any conviction which is based solely or decisively on the evidence of anonymous witnesses is likely to fall foul of a challenge to Strasbourg.
There has been talk that the Conservatives will seek to replace the ECHR with a new British Bill of Rights. One notes with interest that a Google search of the Conservative Party’s website throws up but three references to this policy, the most significant being Cameron’s pledge of 2006 to effect this. Since then little has been heard of this potentially ‘flagship’ policy.
The reason for that may well be obvious. Whilst the idea of such a Bill of Rights is undoubtedly attractive, one wonders if any Government really has the courage to withdraw from the Convention, given the sort of message that such would send about Britain’s attitude towards human rights, rightly or wrongly. That perhaps explains why little more has been heard of this idea from the Tories since August 2006.
But there is another problem: it may well be that withdrawing from the European Convention has little practical effect now that the growth of a huge body of international criminal law and human rights law has been established by the ad hoc International Tribunals, the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and the ICC’s jurisprudence which, it may be argued, has placed the rights guaranteed by the ECHR into the realm of being part of customary international law and that such rights are now ‘internationally accepted human rights’.
victim of an egregious
injustice at the hands of
an anonymous witness,
though rightly convicted
of other grave crimes
Lord Mance reviewed the jurisprudence of the Yugoslavia Tribunal (ICTY) in his judgement. He cited the case of Prosecutor v Tadić (IT-94-1) in which the very obvious dangers of allowing anonymous witnesses to testify was starkly revealed:
during the trial in Tadić the identity of one of the anonymous witnesses was eventually discovered by the defence. The witness had asserted that he had seen Mr Tadić execute 30 males including the witness’s own father. After managing to identify the witness, the defence were able to produce his father, still alive, and only then did the witness admit that he had been trained by Bosnian Government authorities to give his evidence against Mr Tadić.
This, surely, points out all too clearly how grave and avoidable injustice was nearly done and which will inevitably occur here if we allow ourselves to abandon any pretence to fair trials, which is what will happen if we abandon our adherence to the standards that, as Lord Bingham sets out in his judgement, took many hundreds of years to develop and set English law up as a shining beacon of light in a sea of State oppression.
Diminutive Euro-bully sees French
Gloire & best laid plans going down the pan
In the confusion into which the EuroNabobery has been thrown following last week’s Irish referendum, they continue to run around like so many headless chickens. And the field around which they run is highly fecund, producing an almost endless supply of damaging remarks, all grist to the mill of those opposed to the EU’s assault on democracy.
Thus Brian Cowen, hapless Taoiseach of Ireland, after his brush with an auto de fé at the hands of the Holy Office of the Inquisition, said the first thing that came into what he is pleased to call his mind:
“For all of us, the will of the people is sovereign. They have spoken at the ballot box, the ultimate democratic forum, and the Government accepts their verdict.
“The principles of democracy must be the threads that weave the fabric of the European Union. I am sure this is a view you all share. I acknowledge that our vote has obvious implications for our partners here around this table.”
So shocked is he at the decisive rejection by the people of the country of which he finds himself Prime Minister that he can only dig himself deeper in the mire. Were any of it true, however, the word out of Brussels would be that the Treaty of Lisbon had been sent to the great shredder in the basement of the Berlaymont Building that normally works overtime destroying any evidence of impropriety in the claiming of expenses by Eurocrats and MEPs.
Instead we know only too well that the EuroNabobery, far from thinking of the ballot box as “the ultimate democratic forum”, is determined to avoid if at all possible letting the sovereign peoples of Europe do anything so dangerous as be allowed to go any where near a ballot box lest they too might trash their precious Treaty.
So when Taoiseach Cowen opined about ‘the principles of democracy’ being the ‘threads that weave the fabric of the European Union’, you might well have heard in the background the angry expostulations of his assembled confrères cursing every word he said. Truth it might be but not a truth that the anti-democrats who now rule us want expressing at any price.
Whilst they dig these holes filled with truth for themselves, however, pray pay attention to the thunderous silence from the one quarter in this country of ours which ought to be making hay whilst the sun shines and riding the clear wave of public opinion: the leadership of the Conservative party.
No one doubts but that the EU is about as popular in the UK as would being locked in a small cupboard with a skink, yet at this moment when the EU is exhibiting to public view all its worst anti-democratic credentials and bullyboy tendencies, Cameron and Hague ought to be out there booting the Lisbon treaty to death. Instead, as our gallant Irish cousins are being shown the instruments of their torture, the party’s website only has a rather anodyne statement by Hague that indicates they are in the least bit interested in the ordeal that is soon to be visited upon Ireland.
Though I am a long term supporter of the Conservative Party as my family has been for some one hundred and fifty years and wish to see it form the next Government, I find myself unable to trust it or its leaders properly to reflect the wishes of its members or the people of the United Kingdom on the matter of Europe. Their failure to make the most of the Irish ‘No!’ carries the rank reek of a desire to welsh on every promise made so far on this issue. Instead we are left with unspecific promises of not letting matters rest, even if the Treaty is ratified by the United Kingdom Parliament in defiance of the sovereign people of the land.
They fear, of course, that by raising the matter, that the Conservative party will be riven once more by splits. They fear that the issue will consume their energies in the next Parliament and so they plan to defy us by getting down to business as usual with the EU, which will involve all the usual compromises, kowtows and sell-outs which have so characterized our dealings with the EU for fifteen years and more. One wonders, however, if they realize how a failure to address the issue in the next Parliament is likely to bring about those very splits they think to avoid.
All it requires is a bit of leadership.
Meanwhile the plucky Irish face up to their coming ordeal. They will surely be told they must revisit the ballot box, the ultimate democratic form, and come up with the ‘right answer’.
One is reminded of an exchange in the Madness of King George between Dr. Willis (Ian Holm) and The King (Nigel Hawthorne):
Dr. Willis: You must behave!
The King: Must? Whose must is this, your must or my must?
Meanwhile the EU’s Pet Bantam Cock has turned his little spurs on Peter Mandelson and blamed him for the Irish ‘No!’. This blog is no friend of Mandelson, who is a poisonous runt, but is disposed to think on this occasion that Mandy is ‘Not guilty’ of anything more than being a convenient and, for Gordon Brown who must be appeased, a satisfactory and pleasing target for such bile.
Bearing in mind that our gutless, dishonourable, dishonest and duplicitous Prime Minister is even less popular than Neville Chamberlain, one might expect that he would be doing all he can to improve his standing with the electorate. With the recent YouGov Poll in mind, McStalin must therefore be rueing the praise being lavished upon him by his fellow Europhiles.
That poll, and dozens of others over recent years, must have suggested to someone supposedly as formidably intellectual as he that the British people do not want ‘more Europe’. Let us remind ourselves of YouGov’s key findings:
54% agreed with the statement that “The government should drop the Lisbon Treaty and not try and ratify it”.
Just 14% agreed that “The government should carry on and ratify the Lisbon Treaty in the UK”.
Labour voters are 46% to 19% against continuing ratification of the Treaty.
Asked which of the following statements about Britain’s future relations with the EU came closest to their own view:
29% said that “The UK should stay in the EU”.
38% said that “The UK should stay in the single market but pull out of the other political elements of the EU”.
24% said “The UK should leave the EU altogether”
This echoes a position consistently evinced by the British public over recent years. And even Labour supporters are keen for Britain to pull the rug from underneath the Lisbon Treaty which is now an orphan being nursed by Nanny Brown. In short the Treaty is deeply unloved by the electorate.
So what does this supposedly great politician go and do? He makes sure the Bill to ratify the Treaty passes its final Parliamentary stages and then nips off to see his fellow Europhiles (since McStalin has shown such devotion to the cause of Euro federalism by denying the British people a referendum and by railroading the Treaty through Parliament, we must account him a Europhile, for no other explanation for his behaviour can explain such single-minded enthusiasm for the Federalist cause) who, according to the Telegraph, were bedside themselves with pleasure at his solidarity with the cause:
Mr Pöttering, a German Christian Democrat close to Angela Merkel, suggested that the example of Britain will be used to pressurise countries, such as the Czech Republic, who are resisting plans to isolate Ireland by ratifying the EU Treaty.
“I ask all those countries which have not yet ratified to follow the great example of the United Kingdom,” he said.
Emperor José himself was also deeply moved:
José Manuel Barroso, the President of the European Commission, also had praise for Mr Brown.
“I would like to congratulate the United Kingdom on the approval of the Treaty,” he said.
“I would like to thank the Government and Parliament for the constant support for the new Treaty during the negotiation and ratification process.”
Brown may have tried to sign this wretched Treaty hugger-mugger back in December, out of sight and out of mind, but the truth of the matter is that he is in fact an EU enthusiast who has played a leading part in not just the drawing up of this Treaty but also the gerrymander that is seeing it through the process of ratification.
Thus it is no surprise that his little monkey would trot out the ‘respect the Irish vote’ line but that he himself would immediately lend all his weight (which is not much these days, seeing how he is a lame-duck PM these days) to the cause of threatening and belittling the Ireland’s decisive democratic decision.
What is so puzzling is why Brown is going out of his way to stick his fingers up the nostrils of the electorate at a moment when he needs all the help he can get in courting it. It suggests a death wish on his part of sizeable proportions.
On the other hand, one is bound to ask why, given the same polls, Cameron and the Conservative party are not doing more to take advantage of Brown’s stupidity. Could it be that when it comes to Europe Cameron, Hague et al. are “all spin and no delivery”?
years been part of Northamptonshire,
the Soke of Peterborough,
The County of Huntingdon & Peterborough,
now The City of Peterborough.
As well as the European Communities Act 1972, super-curmudgeon Ted Heath has to answer another count on the indictment against him: beginning the destruction of local government that continues apace by passing the Local Government Act 1972 which purported to fix something which was not yet broken and which has led to ever less democratic local administration. Labour plans now to finish it off.
Though some changes to local government were necessary to reflect the growth of conurbations, this was the era of ‘big is beautiful’ with the consequence that vast numbers of small local authorities whose elected members were very close to their electorates were destroyed and replaced with larger, less accessible and more anonymous authorities. Thus in leaps and bounds Huntingdonshire, once an agreeably small place to live where one knew one’s local councillor as someone you met in the street or the butchers, was first amalgamated with the industrial Fenland Cathedral City of Peterborough and then absorbed by Cambridgeshire.
Where once our seat of local county government had been about ten miles away, at a stroke it moved a further fifteen miles away to Cambridge. It might as well have been on the moon. Who other than someone with a particular beef or a political anorak would be bothered to drive an hour to Cambridge of an evening to witness a meeting of the local authority and then an hour back? One suspects that politicians well understood that removing the seat of government as far as possible from the majority of electors was a sure means of minimising scrutiny of their activities and that the last thing they wanted was to be in the least bit accessible to the electorate.
Having been presented with Cambridgeshire, in its reincarnation as an amalgam of the Soke of Peterborough, Huntingdonshire and Cambridgeshire, as the greatest thing since sliced bread, the wheel turned once again in 1998 when Peterborough was hived off as a unitary authority. The brave new world of Greater Cambridgeshire had thus lasted a mere twenty-four years.
I set out this history not, I hope, as a means of boring you to death but to make the point that since 1972 the Government has engaged in never-ending tinkering with local government so that today only those with specialist knowledge of it fully understand the difference between the plethora of local authority types which now exist from lowly parish council to Metropolitan County and of what powers each disposes.
The changes thus begun by Heath in 1972 have seen a constant process of amalgamation, change of status and loss of actual power. New authorities, once established, seem rarely to be given time to flourish before a new wave of changes spews forth from the latest incumbent of the ministry which deals with local government.
Which brings me to the suggestion in Simon Jenkins’ piece in the Guardian today that Hazel Blears, the smirking and frankly ludicrous Communities and Local Government Minister, is planning to remove local government’s last testicle:
Have you noticed how the political establishment hates elections? It regards them as vulgar, foreign, exhibitionist and unpredictable. To those in power they are mere concessions to mob rule. If electors did not insist on them, elections would have been abolished long ago as Victorian gimmicks to appease proletarian sentiment.
There is no other explanation for Westminster’s reaction to Ireland’s weekend vote on the Lisbon treaty and to David Davis’s resignation over 42-day-detention. Nor is there any other explanation for the welcome that will be given to Hazel Blears’s forthcoming local government white paper. This will, it is rumoured, reduce the 95% of elections still held in Britain (local ones) to largely consultative status, to clear the ground for Gordon Brown’s Putin-style appointed regional government.
If that is true, then it is profoundly to be hoped that the Conservative party makes it clear forthwith that it will resist any such plans, which featured not in Labour’s last manifesto, and will not merely undo them utterly upon taking power but will take radical steps to return local government as closely as it can to the electorate, together with a devolution of many of the powers that central government has accreted to itself over the last forty years that were once the preserve of local government.
Of course such plans are part of the Labour Gerrymander which is a process by which all political arrangements are made with a view to ensuring that it is relatively easy for Labour to win power but much harder for the Conservative party. This is the thrust of the White Paper issued by the Orwellian Ministry of Justice under the fiat of the thoroughly sinister Jack Straw which, inter alia, proposes to make it all but impossible for the Conservatives to fund their candidates in key marginals whilst leaving intact the £10,000 per annum ‘communications allowance’ enjoyed by the incumbents in those seats and union funding of MPs and candidates.
Lurking in the wings remains the suggestion that political parties should be funded by the Taxpayer. To the latter this is simply anathema but to the politicians it is the easy way out of the nasty little mess into which they have got themselves because they have persisted in shenanigans when it comes to party funding instead of adopting transparency as the rule. This is particularly so in the case of the Labour party which now teeters on the edge of bankruptcy and plans to look to the Taxpayer to keep it in business.
That the public hates the idea of this seems not to have registered with Labour at all though there are signs that David Cameron has begun to appreciate both that the behaviour of politicians and political parties has been deeply damaging and that it is time to respond to the electorate’s considerable distaste for politicians and their doings by cleaning up his own Augean Stables.
Thus some Tory MPs and MEPs are to be found as candidates for having their heads removed and placed on spikes adorning London Bridge, of which tendency this from the Spectator is but the latest manifestation. It was inevitable that there would be casualties from the process of opening up MPs and MEPs use of their expenses to public scrutiny. Cameron has begun a process of demonstrating that there will be zero tolerance for those who have been freeloading. It is much to desired that he does not let this drive peter out but follows it through until the Tory Party is finally purged of its reputation for sleaze. The signs are that he will, he having realized that this is necessary in order to complete the detox process.
If on the was that requires the heads of such MEPs as Chichester or Dover or MPs such as Spelman (even though her alleged misdeeds are now of some antiquity) to be the adornments of those spikes on London Bridge, so be it. Watch Tory ratings rise not fall as Cameron sends the tumbrils off to the guillotine. Labour, which many suspect has a much greater problem with the rank self-enrichment of its MPs and MEPs, dares not follow and will reap the whirlwind when their expenses are finally laid bare. For we are close, surely, to such a moment.
Given how the electorate views the attitude of MPs to the public purse, it might be thought that a considerable period of self-effacement would have settled upon the Westminster community. Not a bit of it. Whilst those whom the claim to represent are finding it a struggle to make ends meet in a way we have not seen since the 1970s, they are planning ever-deeper troughs into which to shove their snouts. Talk is of a 16% or even a 21% per cent pay rise being voted through ‘on the nod’ by MPs.
It is difficult to imagine quite why they should chose this particular moment, when their esteem in the public’s eyes is at an all-time low, to hose the fire which has been lit concerning funding MPs with petrol. One wonders if they have perhaps all been on holiday for the last year and have not noticed how very very irritated the public is with them in connection with their abuse of the public purse.
Which brings me back, I hope neatly, to where I started. In parallel with the destruction of local government, central government has assumed many of the powers formerly exercised locally (whether de jure or de facto by means of such devices as capping) whilst over the same period central government has yielded much of its power to unelected Eurocrats in Brussels. Now Brussels acts as central government and Westminster as your local authority. If you doubt this, just go watch a typical adjournment debate on BBC Parliament. The subject will, as often as not be about some footling matter that many of us would think to well beneath parliament’s attention. It is, however, simply a mark of the enfeeblement of Parliament that it now has the time to concern itself with froth and trivia.
The European Communities Act 1972 and the Local Government Act 1972: two acts of Parliament that have gone hand in hand together in the process of the destruction of the body politic of the United Kingdom. One might be forgiven for thinking that the coincidence of their passing was no accident.
And by a Conservative Government at that.
‘Gutenberg’ moment? Maybe.
Today one is inclined to advert to, on the one hand, a brutal lesson for our political élite and the bien-pensant MSM and, on the other hand, a symptom of the problem that they have.
The former arises from the matter of David Davis resigning his seat to fight a bye-election with its focus on the matter of liberty, privacy, and the issue of the freedom of the individual. Amid much pursing of lips and sharp intakes of breath the reaction of the Westminster Village and the MSM was that Davis was, at best, a dangerous loose cannon careering around the decks of HMS Cameron or, at worst, barking mad. Few were prepared to step up and announce their support for him, the conventional wisdom being that polls definitively showed that the public was firmly behind Gordon Brown’s proposals for internment without trial and that anyone who did not agree was firmly out of step with reality.
In short the scoffers scoffed and nails were hammered home in his political coffin and the obituaries written. Further merriment came when it appeared that he would lack entirely a serious opponent.
Now comes the sound of gears being furiously crunched across the transmission system as some (though assuredly not all) of the Westminster Village and the MSM has suddenly discovered that far from David Davis being out of step with the public as a whole, it is they with their Metropolitan certainties who are, in fact, the ones who are not merely out of step with the public but in fact living on smug cozy planet Zog at the far outer recesses of the Universe.
In support of this I place before you a confession by the Guardian in the form of Frank Fisher:
David Davis and the great media U-turn
Coverage of the Tory MP’s resignation, and online reaction to it, reveals the disconnection between the press and the public
I’ll give them their due: the entire British media may have utterly misjudged the significance and impact of David Davis’s shock resignation last Thursday, but they’re revising and reversing today for all they’re worth. Which, given the astonishing lack of insight displayed by apparent political insiders over this past few days, might not be much.
In the 72 hours following the resignation there was absolute uniformity in the media, of a kind I haven’t seen since the Great Motoons Boycott. Left and right, print and broadcast, all were agreed that Davis had tossed his career away on a mixture of ego and daft idealism, and that he, his party, and the civil liberties lobby, would all suffer voters’ wrath. And yet, on phone-ins, message boards, blogs and in pubs and on park benches, whenever the topic was raised, the British public were overwhelmingly supportive both of Davis, and his ideals. Oh, and the polls put the Tories up two points.
I confess that my own effort on the topic was written very soon after Davis had resigned and made no attempt to presume, for once, upon knowing what was in the public’s mind, though I have been deeply suspicious of the contention that the public was so wedded to the idea of 42 days detention without trial, particularly if this notion was placed in the context of and against a background of the steady tearing down of our essential liberties. I was not prepared, however, for the obvious signs that the political elite had called this one quite wrong.
It brings this thought to mind. Once there was something called “The Silent Majority” whose views were often invoked by politicians who claimed, sometimes, often even, to speak for that group. Opinion polls were seen as something of an effort to provide an accurate voice for The Silent Majority, but as often as not the Silent Majority’s views were those of whoever was speaking at any given moment.
But, thanks to the Internet and to comment sections, blogs and the like, The Silent Majority has discovered not merely that it has a voice but also that it can both use it and be heard. Hence the discovery by the likes of Fisher and his chums in the MSM that they do not speak for us:
For too long the political commentators and partisan propagandists have sought to tell us how we feel, what we’re angry about, what we want – that’s gone. There is today not a deader parrot in this country than one that seeks to say, “I’m parroting what the general public is saying.” Today, if the general public feels something – they will tell you. Over the past four days they have, in full and fierce detail.
I may be wrong, but I sense something here – a shift in power from the commentariat to where it might actually belong, a sudden realisation of the cry of Robert Lindsay’s Wolfie in Citizen Smith:
Power to the people!
And that, dear reader, I suspect, frightens the hell out of them because the people who are retaking power are not the people they might care to have that power.
And here, fortuitously, on the same day comes an example of the sort of arrogant preaching condescension up with which we will no longer put. I am grateful to Guido for drawing my attention to this piece upon which he has done a merry jig in ammunition boots and to which I do not propose to add much, save that the words “overweening pomposity” might also be added to the Indictment and to observe that this numbskull plainly doesn’t get it.