Gavin Maclure's Musings

My take on politics locally, nationally and internationally


2 Comments

Juncker In, Britain heading Out

Jean-Claude Jucker: your next President

Jean-Claude Jucker: your next President

Arch-federalist Jean-Claude Juncker has succeeded José Barroso as the next President of the European Commission. British prime minister David Cameron was dead against his appointment, viewing it as a backwards step for the EU and putting the kibosh on any plans for renegotiation with Brussels.

The European Commission is the body which is made up of unelected Commissioners who decide the laws of the 28 member states of the EU. The European Parliament is not a parliament, it is an assembly. The Parliament in Europe is not a legislature in the same way as the Houses of Parliament in Westminster are; it is instead just a talking shop and big fat rubber stamp for the Commission’s new laws. All those MEPs which we elect have the power of a flea. By definition, this is undemocratic and has more in common with authoritarian regimes like Syria or the former Austro-Hungarian empire, for instance.

Britain should have no truck with this charade any longer. We don’t need the EU – most of our trade is with nations outside of the EU in the rest of the world. The big players of Europe – France and Germany – will still want to sell their wine and cars to us.

The UK has a form of national government and voting system different to most other European states: we inherently trust the people.  Whereas the EU thinks the people are an irrelevance, as so ably demonstrated by a man who wants to see a United States of Europe being crowned its President.  This is how Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council and himself also unelected by the European people, announced Juncker’s accession:

But it’s not as if there was a moderate candidate waiting in the wings. Juncker is just one of many arch-federalists in the backrooms of Brussels developing an EU empire stretching from the Russian border (hint – Ukraine) to the Atlantic ocean. One only needs to look at a history book to work out how empires in Europe ended before: very very badly with millions of lives lost. Now, people aren’t going to die in such numbers as a result of the direction the EU is taking (although you might disagree in Athens or Kiev) but unrest will continue as more power is taken from poor southern Eurozone countries and placed in the hands of the Germans and French.

Britain is a very wealthy country with an astonishing (albeit not equal) turnaround in economic fortunes taking place compared to 2010 and to other European states such as France. The EU is merely a hindrance to Britain’s growth in the world and it is time we left to decide our own destiny.

Advertisements


Leave a comment

EU elections campaign kicks off

 

Nigel Farage vs Nick Clegg in LBC EU debate on Wednesday evening

Nigel Farage vs Nick Clegg in LBC EU debate on Wednesday evening

On Wednesday, the leaders of UKIP and the Liberal Democrats debated with each other on whether Great Britain should stay in the European Union.

Hosted by commercial radio station LBC, once London focussed but now broadcasting nationally on DAB radio, and chaired by LBC presenter Nick Ferrari (he does not look very Italian!) the debate was a stark choice between In or Out of the EU.

UKIP leader Nigel Farage came straight from the pub to the central London venue, umbrella in hand and donning a fur collar three-quarter length coat on a cold March evening whilst Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg turned up – sans coat – with a Met Police detective (I presume he was guarding him) after being dropped off further up the street in a ministerial limo.

During the hour long programme, Chairman Nick Ferrari insisted on referring to Mr Clegg as Deputy Prime Minister despite the debate being a party political event between two political leaders. Nick Clegg was merely there as leader of the Liberal Democrats not as a government minister.

Sky News televised the debate and it was also broadcast from LBC’s website. It may have come as a surprise to see Sky and LBC so intertwined. It shouldn’t be as Sky produce LBC’s news slots and veteran Sky newsreader Kay Burley hosts a phone-in on LBC on Sunday morning. It’s a small world…

So on to the debate proper. There was nothing new to the arguments. For political geeks it was a case of ticking off the key points one by one as they were trotted out by Clegg and Farage. 77% of Britain’s laws are made in the EU, said Mr Farage. No, only 7% are according to Mr Clegg (which was even the BBC rubbished the next day). The Lib Dem leader mocked UKIP Nigel Farage for saying 29 million Bulgarians and Romanians would descend on the UK once the transition controls were dropped on 1st January. Mr Farage denied he said they would all turn up but then cleverly stated it wasn’t 29 million who have access to our jobs and houses, it was 450 million: the population of EU countries. And, of course, he’s right.

The cost to Britain of being in the EU “club” was raised by Mr Farage. It’s £55 million a day if you’re interested. The Lib Dem leader had to slip in that the NHS would collapse if we curbed immigration into the UK. *Yawn*. And, of course, Nick Clegg said we’d lose 3 million jobs if we left the EU. Mr Farage batted back that the 3 million figure comes from one academic report written in 1997 and there is no reliable evidence this is true.

You get the point.

It was political candy for political geeks like me but I doubt much of the electorate were watching or read and heard about the debate in the copious column inches, tweets and analysis written and verbalised by the hordes of journalists, bloggers, radio DJs and TV presenters gathered in the “spin room” next to the debating hall.

Emperor public gave Farage the thumbs up after EU debate when YouGov declared him the "winner"

Emperor public gave Farage the thumbs up after EU debate when YouGov poll declared him the “winner”

Who won then? The mainstream media, as Peter Oborne in the Daily Telegraph, has pointed out today (in contrast to his colleague Fraser Nelson who’s gone all “wet” on the issue of an EU debate), wanted Nick Clegg to win as that was the consensus the London metropolitan journalist elite had decided before the debate had begun. As soon as the debate ended the ‘pundits’ were calling it for Clegg and calling Nigel Farage sweaty. Then once YouGov had crunched their instant poll numbers, they quickly U-turned once the emperor public had shown the thumbs up for Mr Farage by 57% to Nick Clegg’s 36%. 

I think Nigel Farage spoke with passion and sincerity – you can see he really believes what he says. Whereas smarmy Clegg just parroted the Brussels line and showed faux shock at the Ukip leader’s views. It was interesting to hear why the Westminster journalists thought Clegg had won (especially as they go against public opinion): he spoke directly to the camera unlike Farage (except Farage did); unlike the UKIP leader, Mr Clegg called audience questioner’s by their names (except Mr Farage also did); Mr Clegg showed he’d done a few of these debates before (you mean he looked bored and drank too much water); and Mr Farage looked sweaty and shifty (errr, HD TV has been around for a while now and even this picture didn’t show a bead of sweat on Mr Farage’s brow).

In short, no one really won. The views of both contenders were not a surprise. However, most people in the country will have not heard the key points on either side of the argument before so – for the electors who tuned in – it was very worthwhile having the debate for that alone. I applaud LBC for organising this debate and for Sky News broadcasting it on a free national TV platform. Mr Clegg and Mr Farage now do it all again on the BBC next week, when audience numbers will be far higher.

This was Nigel Farage’s first national TV debate. David Cameron is still resisting sharing a platform with the UKIP leader in the 2015 General Election debates but he may have no choice if the public’s verdict on Mr Farage translates into real votes in the European Elections on 22nd May.


Leave a comment

UK PM blocks Romanians and Bulgarians from claiming benefits (well, for 3 months)

EU Reform: UK Prime Minister David Cameron

EU Reform: UK Prime Minister David Cameron

Firstly, apologies for the recent drought in posts.

David Cameron today, most likely prompted by his Aussie political strategist Lynton Crosby, announced today tougher controls over access to our welfare system by Romanians and Bulgarians (and anyone else wanting to emigrate to Great Britain).

At the end of this year, the transitional controls which have prevented free movement by Romanians and Bulgarians through the EU since their accession in 2007 will come to an end. From 1st January 2014, it will be legal for any Romanian or Bulgarian to come to the UK, whether they have a job or not.

The Prime Minister told the Financial Times:

“On January 1, the people of Romania and Bulgaria will have the same right to work in the UK as other EU citizens. I know many people are deeply concerned about the impact that could have on our country. I share those concerns.”

He added:

“We are changing the rules so that no one can come to this country and expect to get out of work benefits immediately; we will not pay them for the first three months. If after three months an EU national needs benefits – we will no longer pay these indefinitely. They will only be able to claim for a maximum of six months unless they can prove they have a genuine prospect of employment.”

This sparked an angry response from EU Employment Commissioner Laszlo Andor who told the Today programme – the BBC’s flagship breakfast news radio programme – Mr Cameron risked “presenting the UK as a kind of nasty country in the European Union”. Cue cries of joy in Downing Street: the EU had just very helpfully boosted the Conservative Party’s message that it is getting tough on EU dominance over our sovereignty.

David Cameron also told the FT:

“The EU of today is very different from the EU of 30 years ago. We need to face the fact that free movement has become a trigger for vast population movements caused by huge disparities in income.”

The PM said he wanted the EU to reform the concept of free movement across the continent adding:

“And we need to do the same with welfare. For example, free movement should not be about exporting child benefit – I want to work with our European partners to address this.”

Mr Cameron then told the British people:

“The EU needs to change if it is to regain the trust of its peoples. I look forward to working with other countries who also want reform – and to putting the choice about our future in Europe in a referendum. If I am prime minister after the next election, the British people will have their say.”

And this is where it all falls apart. The problem is, because of his stupid policies on gay marriage, a softly-softly approach to welfare reform which still allows people to take home £26,000 tax free in benefits, and no action on immigration, Dave won’t be in a position to offer an EU referendum, as he will lose the General Election.


3 Comments

Mass immigration is making British workers poorer

Census 2011 reveals immigration numbers are higher than we thought

There have been a flurry of news stories over the last few days, which are all intertwined.

On Monday I found myself agreeing with Labour’s Chris Bryant. I am almost nauseous in writing this but as I tweeted at the time Mr Bryant spoke a lot of sense. He was pointing out how big firms like Tesco and Next deliberately set out to recruit foreign workers over UK nationals. For all their weasel words about Corporate Social Responsibility, large companies couldn’t give two hoots about ensuring local people benefit from having the likes of Tesco, Next and any other business trading in their village, town or city. Their only concern is maximising profits and if that means busing in Poles in their early twenties with no family ties or dependencies to pack containers in a distribution warehouse for a much lower cost than a person with a family to support then so be it. What do the senior managers care? They are doing very nicely back at the mansion in Hertfordshire with their cheap immigrant nanny and gardener.

But the issue of immigrants undercutting the unskilled and semi-skilled indigenous workforce is not a simple one.

Later on Monday Channel 4 broadcast a documentary entitled ‘Benefits Britain 1949‘ which took three benefits claimants from 2013 back in time to the rules of the welfare state in 1949. The documentary demonstrated once again how ridiculously generous the welfare system in Britain has become. William Beveridge, the economist who designed the welfare state and was later implemented by the newly elected Labour government in 1945, did so for one main purpose: to stop people starving. If you fell out of work, Beveridge, rightly, stated people in a civilised country should not starve to death as a result. That is all it was meant to do.

William Beveridge

William Beveridge

But in 2013, millions of people receive handouts and in some families, three generations have NEVER worked. They have everything paid for by the State (i.e. the taxpayer) and we are not just talking about food and heating. Flat screen TVs, Xbox, Sky TV, cigarettes, alcohol, cars. The list goes on. We learnt from Channel 4’s documentary half the population of Nottingham are on benefits. Beveridge will be spinning in his grave.

On Channel 4’s Benefits Britain 1949 there was a woman called Karen who hadn’t worked for years and certainly didn’t look like she went without food. She pulled up at the Labour and Welfare Office (as the Job Centre was called back in 1949) in a shiny new car, paid for by the taxpayer through her Mobility handout. Karen then met the welfare officers who interviewed her for eligibility for out-of-work payment. Karen was keen to point out every part of her body had an ailment and so she was judged eligible for some form of handout from the 1949 UK state. But it was nowhere near as generous as she gets today in 2013. Karen’s 1940s weekly handout was deemed to be £38.48 (adjusted for today’s prices) — compared to the £155.34 she currently receives. The car she has courtesy of her Mobility allowance was also taken away. Karen’s immediate response was to hurl expletives saying: “I’ve done my f***ing share for Britain, I’m doing no more. They can f*** off.”

Later Karen has a medical assessment using 1949 criteria for determining her fitness to work. Karen is asked to lift a bag of potatoes which she fails to even lift off the floor so the doctor places just one potato on the desk in front of her and asks Karen to pick it up. She pauses and then reluctantly decides to pick it up but immediately complains of pain in her arm. The doctor then asks her to cut out the shape of a star from a piece of paper which Karen bounds up to do, until the doctor explains it will help assess if she is capable of tailoring work. Karen suddenly has a pain in her thumb.

The problem with Karen is there are millions more like her in Britain and this is one of the reasons why millions of other workers are fed ‘chicken corn’ by their employers or not even offered work at all. There is just no competition in the indigenous workforce as millions know they are paid more in benefits than work could offer them. The labour gap is then filled with cheaper, eager young workers from other EU countries with no family ties or dependencies enabling businesses to lower wages to maximise their profits. It is then the unskilled and semi-skilled UK nationals who suffer as they are caught between a rock and a hard place: many want to work but cannot afford to as wages are lower than benefits. So immigrants who are being paid, in some cases ten times what they could get paid for the same job back home, suck up the jobs and the vicious circle keeps on turning. There is a solution of course: cut and cut again the welfare bill. Lowering it to a cap of £26,000 (which is equivalent to earning £35,000 in work), as the Coalition have now done, is insulting not only to the taxpayer but to the unskilled and semi-skilled people desperate for a job.

Back in Benefits Britain 1949, Beveridge’s original inception was proving fruitful once more. Another claimant featured was Craig who has spina bifida and is confined to a wheelchair to move around. He is, rightly, on disability allowance, but in 1949 a person with a serious condition like Craig’s would not receive his current £171.25 a week and instead he would have been paid just £7.49 (adjusted for today’s prices) a week to stop him starving. I’m glad the system has progressed to offer Craig greater monetary assistance from the State today but the 1949 system was actually very generous indeed. In the documentary, Craig was offered a training course to help him get a job and if he accepted the course he would get £100 a week. Craig is provided with a training course in a call centre selling entertainment venue tickets. The office environment, desk, computer, telephone setup is ideal for Craig with his disability and he soons excels – to the extent the boss offers him a job. Craig is overwhelmed with happiness and tells the producers this is the first time he has ever been offered a job. In 1949, companies were compelled to take on disabled workers and they would be prosecuted if they failed to comply. The documentary presented a startling statistic which dismisses the notion everything was horrible and evil in the past and today is the enlightenment era: in 2013, only 46% of disabled people are in work; in 1949, 94% were.

Yesterday, the perversity of the way modern Britain allocates money was thrown into the spotlight once again when it was announced railway season tickets will be going up by as much as 9.1% from January. Whilst we are happy for ordinary workers to be squeezed of tax until the pips squeak to pay the likes of Karen to sit on her backside all day, the same workers are then hit AGAIN with exorbitant travel costs they MUST pay to get to work to PAY their taxes. Surely, we should be helping those who work hard and keep the country afloat and not assist millions to shy away from work?  I’m surprised us hard working people in this country haven’t revolted yet.

Of course the Government can get away with setting rules which allow train operators to impose inflation-busting ticket price increases as the workers who pay the country’s bills are a captive market. More and more people have to commute long distances to reach work because the cost of housing closer to their place of work is too expensive. On top of that because of mass immigration caused in part by an incredibly generous welfare system, overall competition for jobs is cut-throat, thereby keeping wages down as well.

It all comes back to immigration. No wonder EU-phile Chris Bryant has been forced to talk about it. It is the number one issue when voters are asked in surveys because the people know it is the reason why their pay is low, their son cannot get a job and the reason millions of idle work shy Karens sit at home all day feeding off the wages of those who have jobs. We know it must stop but the papers on Thursday tell us the political elite still don’t get it.

Quelle surprise, the number of Romanians and Bulgarians heading to Britain has increased by 37,000 since June last year taking the total to 141,000. How, you may ask, is this possible when the accession rules forbidding Romanians and Bulgarians from working freely across the EU is not lifted until next year? Ah, they use a well-known loophole in the rules and declare themselves self-employed so no work visa is required. Sir Andrew Green, Chairman of MigrationWatch, estimates 50,000 Bulgarians and Romanians will arrive in Britain each year for the next five years. So Tesco and Next can breathe a sigh of relief there profit margins aren’t going to be squeezed by the demands of local people wanting work quite yet. The peasants are back in their box for the time being.

It is time Britain was less tolerant. We pour £50 Million a day into Brussels but receive very little back. What does our EU membership fee get us? It allows millions of EU migrants, some from very poor countries like Romania and Bulgaria, to come over to Britain and look for work. The operative word being ‘look’. The likes of Tesco and Next might give them work – for less than they would pay the indigenous peasants population – but even if they don’t, the same migrants can board the great UK welfare gravy train and start claiming for housing allowance, income support, mobility handout, and, of course, the state pension.

I’m surprised Great Britain hasn’t sunk yet under the weight of the mass influx from East, West, South, North within the EU into our little island, which due to following an economic model which actually works (unlike the Eurozone), enacted by Margaret Thatcher, we became one of the richest countries on Earth, never mind Europe. But in typical socialist fashion, Brussels has dictated they will have our money thank you very much, and the mass redistribution of wealth from the UK to the other 27 EU states is now the order of the day.

Isn’t it time we put our own people first?


8 Comments

UPDATE: What word comes to mind when you think of the EU?

Yep - the EU again!

Yep – the EU again!

UPDATE: Thanks to readers’ comments.
To clarify, the EU HAS banned a particular herbicide which would stop the weeds by the side of the pavements in Ipswich growing to the size of small trees, which was until circa 2008 sprayed at the beginning of spring to kill the weeds before they grew out of control.

Because of the pernicious EU directive, Ipswich Borough Council along with all other local authorities in the UK (other countries just ignore the Directive) now can only spray weed killer on to the ugly green things once the weeds are about the size of a small man, which is during the summer months. A different herbicide is used once the weeds are grown, which isn’t banned by our unelected leaders in Brussels.

So this explains why some readers have seen the council’s man driving along the pavements in their weed killing buggy and others still have to hack their way past their front-gate to get to their home. Eventually, Ipswich Borough Council will get round to spraying all the weeds in the town on public pavements and paths.

Perhaps, IBC could allocate some money away from “diversity” projects to deal with a problem the council taxpayer actually wants sorted out?

Weeds.

Yes, not corruption, communism or even meddling – but weeds. Lots of them.

Have you noticed if you take a stroll around your neighbourhood that over the last few years, there have been an abundance of the ugly green things sprouting up from the edges of the pavements, crawling up people’s garden walls?

Well, it wasn’t always so. But since the EU Directive against the use of herbicides by local authorities the weeds have taken over our streets. Ipswich Borough Council – or any local authority for that matter – is no longer allowed to send a man and a container of weed killer spray to kill the offending green uglies at the beginning of spring. So come summer – i.e. now – the weeds have become like small trees by the side of the pavement in every street in Ipswich.

So despite paying over a hundred pounds a month to the Council and thousands in tax to the Government, which are then sent to the EU, I have been forced to kill the weeds myself to make my garden wall look respectable (you might notice the green-absence in the centre of this photo!).

You couldn’t make it up…


2 Comments

Back to the Future

lloyds tsb

I received an interesting letter yesterday from Lloyds TSB. It was one of those very telling and amusing moments, which demonstrates how, on many occasions, the world elites really haven’t got a clue what they are doing.

Back in 1995, Lloyds Bank and TSB merged to form Lloyds TSB. Less than twenty years later, it seems that wasn’t such a good idea after all. The letter I received announced that from the end of this year the bank will be de-merged with two separate banks being established once again: Lloyds Bank and TSB.

This is happening because the whole banking sector overreached itself catastrophically over the last twenty years, with salesmen (think ‘Fred the Shred’ Goodwin) running UK banks rather than accountants and banks being merged into super-banks, stacked with billions of loans which one day were found, literally, to not be worth the paper they were printed on. That day of reckoning came in 2008 and the UK economy went into meltdown, which we are yet to recover from.

The EU (oh yes, another cabal) has ordered increased competition in the UK banking sector. They are right but surely George Osborne should order the de-merger of Lloyds TSB not some faceless bureaucrat in Brussels?

I feel quite nostalgic. If only we could reverse many of the other disasters which occurred in the nineties and early noughties?


Leave a comment

You’ve presided over 1,200 deaths? Oh, here’s your £1.9M pension pot

Bye: Sir David Nicholson finally goes (in a few months)

Bye: Sir David Nicholson finally goes (in a few months)

The NHS chief executioner executive who presided over care so appalling it resulted in the deaths of 1,200 people at Stafford Hospital has finally decided to announce his “retirement”.

Sir David Nicholson refused to resign when the damning truth was revealed by the Francis Report in February and NHS arch-worshipper David Cameron refused to sack him. Nicholson has been clinging on to his job and massive salary every since until today. But don’t get your hopes up – he isn’t going quite yet. The Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, (a swivel-eyed loon if there ever was one) is allowing the man who presided over the Stafford Hospital killing field, and then lied to Parliament about knowing about the high death rate, to stay in post on his basic salary of £211,000 until March next year when he will step down with a huge pension pot of £1.9 Million.

Nicholson was chief executive of Mid-Staffordshire NHS Trust (which Stafford Hospital fell under) during the scandal between 2005 and 2009. During this time, over one thousand patients needlessly died at the hands of their doctors and nurses who were being led by targets fed down by Nicholson to ensure he won the coveted Foundation Status (devised by the Labour Party) for his NHS Trust, when he would be given even more power over how Stafford Hospital was run, and, of course, more money.

I’ve written extensively about what went on at Stafford Hospital before so I won’t rehearse the same points again. Today’s news demonstrates how large corporations, not just in the public sector but in the private sector too, reward failure and collude to stifle consumer competition and employment competition to ensure a select few receive the rewards.

In the case of the NHS, the whistleblowers, including Gary Walker, former head of United Lincolnshire NHS Trust, who raised patient safety concerns to Nicholson in a 2009 letter to him has had his career ruined whereas the man whose direction significantly contributed to 1,200 families losing their loved ones sails along to the finishing line with full pay and a juicy pension to look forward to.

It’s the same in the private sector. As I have written previously, and was subsequently expressed in an article on the Backbencher online magazine today, capitalism – the great system of free markets and mass distribution of wealth – is no longer in operation. The world economy is pro-business not pro-free markets. One is the antithesis of the other.

Today’s economy is not what Margaret Thatcher envisaged. During the last twenty years capitalism has been captured by the elite and the free market is no longer anything like free. Business and trade is sewn up by the elite (CEOs, Governments, the EU etc) at the expense of the free market (consumer choice, employment competition, free trade movement etc). Capitalism is a theory which sees wealth spread through the masses – unfortunately, it is no longer implemented. Corporations take the wealth and push it up into the boardroom where it only benefits the few.

We now have big blocks of corporations where consumer competition is stifled (look at Yahoo buying up all the small tech start-ups (Astrid, Tumbler), driving up the costs of products and as corporations grow larger worker competition is stagnated, driving down wages.

No work going on here: Executive Boardroom

No work going on here: Executive Boardroom

Corporations have become so big that they are now not only able to do deals with one another (that’s called a cartel Shell and BP!) but with Governments and even entire continents as we have seen with Amazon and Google taking advantage of the EU tax laws which allow these massive corporations to pretend they don’t do any business in the UK and they only sell services in Ireland or Luxembourg.

This behaviour, aided by politicians and unelected legislators (EU commissioners, for example), doesn’t just drive down consumer choice and wages – it kills people. As we have seen in the third largest corporation in the world – the NHS – and large clothing firms paying Bangladeshis 21 cents an hour to work in collapsing factories.

It’s time to break up the power of the corporate elite, unleash the true values of Capitalism and Enterprise and set the people free.