Category Archives: Europe

Greece and the Eurozone : holding tight to nurse for fear of something worse

Robert Henderson

The   Greek referendum on the terms for a further  financial bailout was potentially  a clever move by  Alexis Tsipras and Syriza. If the result of the referendum   had been  YES to the terms put forward to deal with the Greek debt , Tsipras and his government were off the hook for reneging on their election promises. If there was  a NO to the conditions, Tsipras could  play the democracy card and challenge the Eurozone to go against the democratic will of the Greek people or simply walk away from the mess and  pass the poisoned chalice to his political opponents.

Having asked for a rejection of  the terms offered  by the Eurozone in the referendum and  got an emphatic  61% vote  for rejection,  Syriza   could  have  called the Euro elite’s bluff from a position of strength.   Regrettably for Greece’s hope of recovery they have not had the courage to do so.  Instead  they have  humiliatingly capitulated by signing up to an even more severe  austerity deal than  they could have concluded with the movers and shakers  in the Eurozone a fortnight ago. The stark realpolitik of the situation was epitomised by the Greek prime minister  Alexis Tsipras appealing to the Greek Parliament to accept the deal with the words   “We don’t believe in it, but we are forced to adopt it,” The Parliament  accepted by  his plea by voting 229 for and 64 against, but it required support from the opposition because over 30 Syriza MPs either voted against or abstained. From provisional acceptance by the Greek government  to acceptance by Parliament took three days.   Shotgun marriages often take longer to arrange.

Greece is no longer in control of its economy or its political system.  It is having forced upon it huge changes to pensions and public sector salaries, large privatisations,  and perhaps most humiliating, to sell off €50bn of Greek assets , the proceeds of which will be partially used to guarantee repayments on debts owed to the EU and the IMF. The detailed new requirements are:

“To unlock a fresh €82bn to €86bn bail-out, Greece has until Wednesday to pass laws that:

  • implement VAT hikes
  • cut pensions
  • take steps to ensure the independence of Greece’s statistics office is maintained
  • put measures in place to automatically slash spending if Greece fails to meet its targets on primary surpluses (revenue minus expenditure excluding debt servicing costs)

It has until July 22 (an extra week compared with a draft statement) to:

  • overhaul its civil justice system
  • implement the Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive (BRRD) to bring bank resolution laws in line with the rest of the EU

Greek MPs will also have to stomach a move to sell off €50bn of Greek assets.”

This is not the end of the matter. At best the Greek problem and the problems of the Eurozone generally have been simply been kicked down the road. The madness  at the heart of this settlement is that Greece is being further burdened  by a huge amount of extra  debt when the general consensus amongst economists is that the existing  debt was more than Greece could ever hope to repay.  Disobligingly for the Europhile elite,  the IMF  has made it clear since the agreement between Syriza and the Eurozone  that Greece requires a great deal of debt relief and that unless this is forthcoming  the IMF will not take part in the overseeing of the agreement.    But the agreement makes no provision for overt debt relief, although fiddling with the period of repayment and interest rates payable may reduce the real value overall debt (principal and interest)  somewhat.  Nor is this position likely to change, because some Eurozone countries, most notably Germany,  are determined to continue to resist overt  debt relief if Greece is to continue within the Eurozone.  At the same time Germany have made it clear that they want the  IMF involved in the realisation of the agreement. In addition to these obstacles all the other Eurozone countries have got to sign up to the agreement  and this will require some countries, including Germany,  to get parliamentary approval to the terms.  Germany’s finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble has even suggested that Greece leave the Euro for five years.

But even if the Eurozone votes collectively to accept the deal and the IMF  difficulty is overcome,  there is no guarantee it will be realised  for two reasons. The Greek people may be driven by  desperation to  resort to serious violence after they realise that voting changes nothing in Greece and the severe austerity programme takes effect , effects which are aggravated by the fact that   Greece has no real Welfare State.  This could drive the Greek political class to hold further elections with the result that a government is elected which will not implement the deal.

More mundanely,    Greece’s  politics and  public services are severely tainted by cronyism and corruption.  The country  may simply  lack the bureaucratic  structures and expertise to  implement the  complicated and far reaching reforms  which are being sought by the Eurozone.

The sad  truth is that Greece is a second world country which has been masquerading as a first world country.  Before joining the Euro it got by because it had its own currency and  received very large dollops of money from the richer members of the EU.  In those  circumstances its lending was circumscribed by the fact that its debt attracted a high rate of interest because it was seen as a bad risk.  Once Greece had smuggled itself into the Euro by falsifying its accounts,   it was treated as safe a bet as Germany  for creditors who rashly  reasoned that the rest of the Eurozone would ensure Greece did not default.

How difficult would it to be for Greece to re-establish the Drachma? The Czechoslovakian split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia in 1993 provides a reassuring  example of how it might be done.  Initially the two new countries were going to share a currency but within a matter of weeks they came to the conclusion that this was unworkable and decided that each country should launch its own currency. This was accomplished with very little trouble:

 The two countries already had capital controls, but all cross-border money transfers between them were halted to avoid further speculative flows into the Czech Republic. Border controls were tightened.

Komercni Banka, a then state-owned commercial bank, glued stamps, printed by a British firm to ensure secrecy, on 150 million federal banknotes. These were trucked around the country with the help of police and the army.

The exchange for notes stamped by Czech or Slovak stamps, at a 1:1 rate, started on February 8 and was completed in four days. Later in 1993, the stamped notes were replaced by new ones.

People could swap a maximum of 4,000 crowns — then worth $136 (87 pounds) — in cash. They had to deposit the rest. The old money ceased to be valid immediately the switch started.

The whole process, which required 40,000 people just on the Czech side, went ahead smoothly. An opinion poll showed 86 percent of Czechs experienced no problems in the operation. Capital controls were essential to stop bank runs. Secrecy in the buildup was paramount.

The Greek situation is not an exact parallel with that of Czechoslovakia because of the massive debt the country has acquired. Nonetheless, if Greece did relaunch the Drachma creditors would be forced to decide  between accepting  the new currency even though this would certainly mean them receiving far less than the face value of the loans  or in all probability getting nothing.

Would Greece out of the Eurozone be a better bet for Greeks than what is on offer within the Eurozone?  It is difficult to see how things could be worse because , as things stand, Greece is locked into many years of austerity at the least. . Most importantly outside the Eurozone  the Greeks could take charge their own destiny. Most importantly they would be able to control how much of and at what rate they would repay their national debt .  Holding tight to nurse for fear of something worse is not the answer here because long experience shows the something worse will always be the EU.

What can we learn from the  2015 British General Election?

Robert Henderson

  1. With First Past The Post less than 37% of votes cast (and less than 25% of registered voters) can give you a majority in the House of Commons , while nearly four million votes (for Ukip) can get you one seat in the House.
  2. The Conservative performance in terms of Commons seats was better than it looks because the size of UK constituencies varies considerably and  on average it takes substantially more votes to elect  Conservative MPs than it does a Labour MP in England  or MPs  in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.  Had the boundary changes put forward  in 2013 to produce more equal  sized  constituencies  not been blocked by the LibDems,  this would have favoured the Tories significantly, perhaps giving them another 20 seats.
  3. The reason for the failure of the pollsters to come anywhere near to the election result is simple: they tend to rely on telephone  and online polls.  Both routinely  result in samples which are not representative of the population. Telephone polls are  undermined by  the large number of people who are unwilling to answer questions  and the time of day  when calls are made, for example, if you ring during the day you are likely to get  a different sample than if you ring in the evening.  Online polls rely on (1) people being online and moderately  IT savvy – which excludes many people – and (2) what are in effect focus groups formed of people who put themselves forward  (which will mean they are unrepresentative   of the general  population regardless of the attempt to choose them in the context of their backgrounds ) who are questioned regularly( which precludes even the basic shuffling of the sample pack created every time an entirely  new sample is questioned.)
  4. The exit poll came much closer to the actual result because (1) it was a very large sample (20,000), (2) people were interviewed face to face and (3) the people interviewed had actually voted.  The pollsters need to go back to face to face interviewing and more rigorous selection of polling samples.
  5. The Conservative Party has a formal Commons majority of 12. Sinn Fein have  four  seats and if they follow their normal practice of not taking up those seats the majority would effectively  be 16.  Add in the Speaker of the House who does not  vote except when a vote is tied,  and the majority is effectively 17  (The  Commons has 650 MPs. Deduct the Sinn Fein MPs and the Speaker and a practical majority is 323. The Tories have 331 seats. That leaves 314 opposition MPs.  The practical majority is 17).   Such a majority is just about a working one.
  6. Even a twelve seat majority is functional because though it may look fragile, in practice all opposition MPs will  not vote against the government on many  issues. This can be for  ideological reasons (they broadly  agree with the legislation), they think voting against a Bill would play badly with the public or the simple fact that the Scottish, Welsh, Northern Irish and many opposition English seat MPs have constituencies which are hundreds of miles away from London.  Tory seats tend to be much nearer London than opposition ones. Moreover, if the government wants to play difficult , they can  always refuse to allow pairing of MPs (MPs of different parties agree not to vote, thus cancelling one another’s votes  out) .  That would put a burden on their own MPs,  but much less of a one than that placed on opposition MPs, because, as  already explained,  Tory   MPs  on average have much less distance to travel to and from their constituencies than do opposition MPs.
  7. The size of the Conservative majority will give their backbenchers far more leverage  on the government. This will be healthy because it will re-assert the power of the Commons over the executive .
  8. In the first couple of years much of the major legislation going through will command widespread support amongst Conservative MPs. However, if the Cabinet starts backtracking on their manifesto promises the Tory backbenchers will want to know the reason why  and will rebel if pushed too hard in a direction they do not wish to go. (Cameron  was rash  enough at the first Cabinet meeting  of the new government to promise that the Tory manifesto would be implemented in full – go in at 11.32 am ) .
  9. Because of the small majority, the Conservative government should push through as soon as possible all their most important legislation. This  includes the EU referendum , English votes for English laws, the delayed boundary changes and  the repeal of the Human Rights Act.  The House of Lords can delay passing a Commons Bill for about a year. After that the government can force it through using the Parliament Act.
  10. The government would be well advised to repeal the Fixed term Parliaments Act, not least because the small majority is likely to diminish before the end of the Parliament and even if it does not it will be very difficult for the government party to maintain its discipline for five years. The danger is a repeat of the last years of the Major government  which saw  constant Tory infighting and precious little being done in the last eighteen months or so.
  11. The election told us that both the Tories and Labour are parties devoid of principle. Thatcher hollowed out the Tory Party converting it from a party which stood broadly for the national interest, strong on defence, protectionist where strategic industries such as coal were concerned  , with its  natural paternalism of the past sublimated into an acceptance of the welfare state.  Blair  cut out the central moral purpose of the Labour Party (to protect the poor  and unfortunate) and replaced it with a  toxic hybrid  of Thatcherism with its the  mania for  privatisation both wholesale and piecemeal  and greatly  increased state spending, much of which was spent to no good purpose and whose justification seemed to be no more than the spending of the money for its own sake to show how “caring” NuLabour were.
  12. While the SNP remain strong in Scotland Labour has no realistic chance of achieving an overall majority in the Commons.  It is worth noting that Labour  won  232  seats  in this election compared with compared with 258 in the 2010 Election, a loss of 26 seats.  As Labour lost 40 of their 41 seats in Scotland  and only one seat in Wales this means they gained 13 seats in England. Thus there is some small glimmer of hope for Labour to if not win form a coalition as the leading party in it after  the next General  Election  if the SNP vote collapses and the  Labour vote increases by a few percentage votes in England. However, it is a very slim hope at present.
  13. For the foreseeable future Labour are only  likely to  form a coalition government  with the SNP.
  14. Labour primarily did poorly because they have for long neglected  the white working class (which was the natural bedrock of their support)   and instead pandered to a motley collection of minority interest groups,  most notably racial and ethnic minorities. Because they had split their support they ended up trying to produce a message which would appeal to wildly disparate groups. Their “core vote” strategy, which involved appealing to around a third of voters and then either adding a few more votes to gain a majority  or at worst  to  be the dominant partner in a left of centre coalition, was both contemptible in a democracy because it ignored the interests of the majority and, as it turned out, a  hideous failure.
  15. If the Labour Party had been in a position to form a coalition they would have found themselves between the devil and the deep blue sea. If they had been able to form a majority  in  coalition with the SNP that would have finished them as an English party: if  they refused to form such a coalition they would have been ruined in Scotland and damaged  them in Wales on the grounds of having let in the Tories.
  16. SNP political leverage within the House of Commons can only exist while there is no English Parliament. Create an English Parliament and the SNP are emasculated . The popularity of the SNP in Scotland is unlikely to last because there is growing dissatisfaction in Scotland at both its economic mismanagement and its increasingly authoritarian behaviour. Time is the enemy of the SNP as the dark reality of what they have created comes to fruition.
  17. It has been claimed by many political commentators that a Tory government was just what the SNP wanted because it would fan the flames of Scottish nationalism and bogus  victimhood.  If this was the reasoning of the SNP leadership it was extremely stupid because it has rendered their party impotent at Westminster .  The intelligent strategy for Sturgeon to have followed  before the election would have been to say that the SNP  would  not have any formal relationship, whether coalition or a looser agreement , but would  support any legislation which fitted in with SNP policies.   There should have been no ruling out of any agreement with anyone, no demonising of any other Westminster Party, no threatening of England, no  trying to portray the SNP  as forcing left facing  policies on England  as being for England’s good .  Had she done that the Tories might well not have been able to form a government off their own bat.  Instead Sturgeon handed the Tories a victory which, if the Party was run by someone willing to look to England’s interests,  would have left the SNP to twist impotently in the wind .
  18. Wales and Northern Ireland have no serious wish to become independent, not least because they are economic basket cases which are heavily dependent on English taxpayers’ money.
  19. This was a profoundly dishonest election. There was a disturbing lack of debate by the major parties on  important policy areas with   foreign policy, defence, energy ,  food self-sufficiency and  the imbalanced devolution settlement which grossly disadvantages England  being  barely addressed.  Other major issues, for example immigration and the still massive deficit in the UK’s public finances were mentioned often enough,  but  without any proposals being put forward which would plausibly  tackle the problems involved.  Apart from Ukip, parties were either   for open borders (The Greens)  or restricted  to promises to cut benefits for immigrants and operate a points system to ensure only skilled migrants came.( Even if such things could be done, there would not necessarily be a reduction in migrants because no upper limit was put on numbers).    Proposals for increased government spending were either not costed at all or relied on fantasy  money coming  from “efficiency savings”  within public service or absurdly optimistic forecasts of how the British economy would grow.
  20. The housing crisis is the prime toxin in not only the British economy but also British society. The absurd cost of  both renting and buying is reducing large parts of the population (and particularly those under 35 who have never got on the housing ladder)  to a miserable, insecure existence.  All the major parties made promises of building hundreds of thousands of new houses a year  without meaningfully explaining where the money was coming from.  Moreover, much of what   they did promise  – 200,00 to -300,000 new flats and houses a year  – will inevitably  be taken by  immigrants because no major party could say these homes would  be reserved for native Britons because no major party is willing to pull out of the EU. Net immigration is currently running at  around 300,00 a year . If it continues at that level new immigrants will want at least 100,000 homes a year.  This fact went unmentioned by the Tories, Labour and  the LIbDems. To put the cherry on the housing mess, the Tories attempted to bribe, probably successfully, 2.5 million housing association tenants with an extension of the Right-to-Buy to such properties (this gives substantial discounts on the market price of a property).  This will reduce the number  properties which people can actually afford to rent in places such as London even further.
  21. David Cameron sanctioned a number of very  risky manifesto  commitments such as promising English votes for English laws, a referendum on the EU and  the repeal of the Human Rights Act. The most plausible explanation for this is he  did not believe the Tories would win an overall majority and had put these items into the Tory manifesto simply to use as bargaining chips which he could discard  in the event of another coalition with the LIbDems.  If that was Cameron’s  strategy it reinforces the idea of the leading politicians in Britain being complete cynics.  The Tories also recklessly  promised no rise in income tax, national insurance or VAT in the next Parliament.  They will have to live with that millstone around their necks for five years.
  22. Political correctness still has a terrible hold on those permitted a public voice. The most notable example of this was probably when the  Ukip leader Nigel Farage had the courage in one of the leaders’ debates  to raise the question of foreign  HIV sufferers  coming to Britain for very expensive and ongoing treatment on the NHS.  He was howled at by the studio audience and berated by  other politicians taking part as though he had placed himself beyond the Pale.
  23. The fact that Ukip are routinely described as “right-wing” and not infrequently “far right” by both mainstream politicians and the mainstream media nicely demonstrates the dominance of politically correct thinking amongst those given the privilege of a public voice. Apart from their wish to leave the EU, Ukip’s policies  are not radically different from those  espoused by the Tories and Labour over the past twenty-five years.  That applies even to immigration, because neither the Tories nor Labour has ever publicly  advocated an open door policy.
  24. The party for adolescents, the LibDems, will now be able to return to their pre-Thatcher role of being able to all fit into a telephone box at the same time.
  25. The party for the pre-pubescent, the Greens, can be safely left until the next election dreaming up ever more ever more febrile fantasies  of what the electorate wants. They will have some work to put in because they set the bar very high in this election with their plea for  open borders and increased foreign aid.

Islam is simply incompatible with Western society

Robert Henderson

Seventeen people have  been murdered in the two terrorist attacks in Paris  (between  7-9th January 2015). Ten were journalists, including some of France’s leading cartoonists,   working for the  French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. To them can be added two policemen, one policewomen and four  members of the general  public who happened to be unlucky enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.  The attacks were made on the Charlie Hebdo offices and  the  Jewish supermarket Hyper Cacher. The policewoman was shot in a separate incident.

The terrorist acts  were coordinated to produce maximum effect. That on  Charlie Hebdo was by the  brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi , who were of Algerian ancestry.  A third  brother Mourad Hamyd aged 18  was at school at the time of the Charlie Hebdo attack and has spoken to but not been detained by the police. The attack on a Jewish supermarket  was undertaken by a Mailian  Amedy Coulibaly.  He also killed a policewoman before his attack on the Jewish supermarket.  Coulibaly’s wife, Hayat Boumeddiene, who is of Algerian ancestry,  is thought to be another Muslim fanatic with homicidal tendencies. She is believed to have fled to Syria after  the shooting of the policewoman.

Those who died  at the Charlie Hebdo office were slaughtered  by men  shouting Allahu Akbar (God is great), “We have avenged the prophet!”  [for cartoons of making fun of Mohammed published by Charlie Hebdo) and just to make sure the message got across “Tell the media that this is al-Qaeda in Yemen” .   Cherif Koachi also said in a telephone  interview with a magazine  after the killings that the plot was financed by  al Q aeda The Jewish supermarket killer  introduced himself to frightened hostages  with the words ‘I am Amedy Coulibaly, Malian and Muslim. I belong to the Islamic State’.  All three killers  either expressed a wish for martyrdom or  behaved in a way in which was guaranteed to get  them killed.   All three were shot and killed by French security forces.

Unless  you are a particularly stupid and self-deluding  liberal  and have either persuaded yourself  that  this was a black op and the killers were agents of the wicked old West or have fallen back on that old liberal favourite  that the killers  are not true  Muslims  – congratulations to the Telegraph’s Tim Stanley for being so quick off the mark with that piece of shrieking inanity   –  you will think these are Muslim terrorists.  (The next time you encounter someone spinning the “not true Muslims” line ask them whether  the Crusaders of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries were Christians).

Sadly there are many liberals who have not learnt the lesson dealt out by these atrocities. It is true that there has been almost complete condemnation of the killings by the liberal elites around the Western world, but one wonders how unqualified and sincere their regret and anger is.  Apart from the  liberal apologist  mantras  “not true Muslims”, “Just a tiny minority of Muslims” and “Islam is the religion of peace”   being  much in evidence, there has  been a disagreeable media eagerness to portray the killers as sophisticated military beasts. Here is a prime  example from the Telegraph:

“They wear army-style boots and have a military appearance and manner. One of the men wears a sand-coloured ammunition vest apparently stuffed with spare magazines. Some reports suggest that an attacker was also carrying a rocket-propelled grenade launcher.

“The men attacked the magazine’s headquarters with clinical precision, killing their victims and then shooting two police officers in the street outside.

“Amateur footage shows them using classic infantry tactics. They move along the street outside the office working as a pair: one advances while the other gives cover.

“Instead of spraying automatic gunfire, they fire two aimed shots at each target – a pattern known as “double-tap” firing – thereby conserving their ammunition.”

Shades of white liberals in the 1960s drooling over the Black Panthers in the USA  .

The truth is that the attackers did not behave like highly trained soldiers, and some of the reporting was simply wrong, for example, after the slaughter the killers,  as was widely reported , did not walk calmly back to the stolen  car  they were using but ran.  When they abandoned the car one of the killers left his identity card behind. After the murders at Charlie Hebdo the  two killers drove around  like headless chickens hijacking cars and holding up petrol stations to obtain food and water.  If they had really been cold, calculating beasts they would either have stayed where they were after the Charlie Hebdo killings and died in a firefight with the French police or arranged matters so that they had a hiding  place  to go to and  would  carried things like a little  food and water with them.  The widespread media  depiction of them as quasi-military figures glamourized and sanitised what they were.

The British political mainstream response

But it would be wrong to say nothing changed in Britain after the attacks. The Ukip leader Nigel Farage broke new ground for a mainstream British politician in modern Britain  by speaking of  a fifth column of people who hate us within Britain.

“There is a very strong argument that says that what happened in Paris is a result – and we’ve seen it in London too – is a result I’m afraid of now having a fifth column living within these countries.

“We’ve got people living in these countries, holding our passports, who hate us.

“Luckily their numbers are very, very small but it does make one question the whole really gross attempt at encouraged division within society that we have had in the past few decades in the name of multiculturalism.”

This was predictably  condemned by David Cameron, a  man who incredibly  still believes Turkey within the EU would be of great benefit to all concerned,  despite the anger and dismay in Britain about mass immigration generally making the prospect  of 70 million Turkish Muslims having a right to move freely within the EU certain to be  utterly dismaying to most native Britons. Interestingly, a would-be successor to Cameron as Tory leader, Liam Fox,  edged a long way towards reality in an article for the  Sunday Telegraph:

“All those who do not share their fundamentalist views are sworn enemies, whether Muslim or non-Muslim, Arab or non-Arab. It is the first lesson that we must understand – they hate us all because of who we are, our views, our values and our history. Western liberal apologists who tell us that the violence being directed at us is all of our own making not only fail to understand reality, but put us at increased risk.

“We must understand that there are fanatics who cannot be reconciled to our values and who will attempt to destroy us by any means possible. They are at war with us. They do not lack the intent to kill us, merely the means to do so, and our first response must be to deny them that capability. Sometimes that will require lethal force.”

The fact that Farage also condemned multiculturalism in no uncertain terms  provoked an automated politically correct response from the leader of the Liberal Democrats Nick Clegg:

“The Deputy Prime Minister hit out after Mr Farage suggested the attack on the offices of a satirical magazine should lead to questions about the UK’s “gross policy of multiculturalism”.

“I am dismayed that Nigel Farage immediately thinks, on the back of the bloody murders that we saw on the streets of Paris yesterday, his first reflex is to make political points,” Mr Clegg said during his weekly phone-in on LBC radio.

“If this does come down, as it appears to be the case, to two individuals who perverted the cause of Islam to their own bloody ends, let’s remember that the greatest antidote to the perversion of that great world religion are law-abiding British Muslims themselves.

“And to immediately … imply that many, many British Muslims who I know feel fervently British but also are very proud of their Muslim faith are somehow part of the problem rather than part of the solution is firmly grabbing the wrong end of the stick.”

Such  condemnations are of little account because Farage has spoken an obvious truth and the general public will understand that.  The promotion of multiculturalism has been generally pernicious because it wilfully creates serious divisions within a society,  but is unreservedly toxic in the case of Islam because Muslims,  violent and non-violent, believe in the supremacy of their religion.

The change of language by public figures particularly politicians is of the first importance because the general  public need a lead to be given where a matter is contentious. In these politically correct times it is particularly necessary  because the native population of Britain have been thoroughly intimidated by the totalitarian application of political correctness which has resulted in people saying non-pc things  losing their jobs, being arrested and,  in a growing number of cases , being brought before a criminal court to face charges.

Once things  forbidden by political correctness are  said by public figures change could be very fast. More and more people will embrace the forbidden words and ideas and, like a dam bursting, the  flood  of non-pc  voices will  overwhelm the politically correct restraints on speech and writing.

A tiny proportion of  Muslims

The  claim is routinely made by the  politically correct Western elites and “moderate” Muslims  that those committing terrorist atrocities are a tiny proportion of Muslims.  That is pedantically true but unimportant,  because it is to misunderstand the dynamic of terrorism which rests on a pyramid of commitment and support for the cause. At the top are  the leaders. Below them are those willing to carry out terrorist acts.  Supporting them will be those who make the bombs, acquire guns and so on. Below them will come those who are willing to raise funds through criminal behaviour such as extortion and drug dealing and administer  punishment – anything from death to beatings –  to those within the ambit of the group who are deemed to have failed to do what they were told or worse betrayed  the group.  Next will come those willing to provide safe houses for people and weaponry.  Then there are  those willing to provide information and come out on the streets to demonstrate at the drop of a hat.  At the bottom of conscious supporters will come the  “I disagree with  their methods but…”  people.   They say they support the ends of the terrorists but do not support terrorist  acts. This presses the terrorist demands forward because the public will remember their support for the ends and forget the means because it is the ends which engage the emotions . Those who are familiar with the Provisional IRA during the troubles in Northern Ireland will recognise this  character list  with ease. Moreover, even those from a community from which  terrorists  hail who refuse to offer conscious support  will   aid the terrorists’  cause by providing in Mao’s words “the ocean in which terrorists swim”.

There are differences in the detail of how terrorist organisations act, for example,  PIRA operated in a quasi-military structure  with a central command while Muslim terrorism is increasingly subcontracted  to individuals who act on their own. But however a terrorist movement is organised  the  general sociological structure of support described above is the same  whenever there is a terrorist group which is ostensibly promoting the interests of a sizeable minority and that minority has, justified or not, a sense of victimhood which can be nourished by the terrorists . Where the terrorists can offer a cause which promises not merely  the gaining of advantages by the group but of  the completion of some greater plan its potency is greatly enhanced.  Marxism had the communist Utopia and the sense of working towards final end of history; the great religions offer, through the attainment of some beatific afterlife, the favour of God’s will for their society and the completion of God’s plan.  Islam has those qualities in spades.

All this means that  though the active terrorists may be few , the effectiveness of the terrorist machine relies on large numbers who will offer some degree of support.   Consequently, the fact that the number of Muslims committing terrorist acts may be a tiny proportion of the total Muslim population is irrelevant. What matters is the pyramid of support which at its broadest will  include all Muslims because it is the total population which provides “the ocean in which the terrorist  may swim”.

There is also good evidence that large minority of Muslims in Britain support the methods of  Islamic terrorists, for example an NOP Poll in 2006 found that around a quarter of  British Muslims  said the  7/7 bombings in London in July 2005 were justified because of Britain’s involvement in the “War on Terror”.  There is also plenty of British Muslim support for the imposition of Sharia Law on Britain and some  Muslim children are confused as to whether it is Sharia Law or British Law  which is the law of the land. There are also growing numbers of Sharia Courts in Britain which allow disputes between Muslims to be decided outside of the British legal system.

Importantly,   it is not a case of just  the poor and the ignorant only holding  such views. Young educated Muslims are  if anything more enthusiastic than the average British Muslim to have Sharia Law with 40%  in favour and no less than 32% favouring killing  for Islam if the religion is deemed to have been slighted in some way. All of this points to a considerable reservoir of support for the ends of Muslim terrorists if not always the means.  Many Muslims in the West  would not be prepared to engage in violent acts themselves ,  but they would quite happily accept privileges for their religion and themselves won by the sword.

How should the West react to Muslim terrorism?

How should the West react?  In principle it should be simple. There is no need for gratuitous abuse, no need for laboured reasons why Islam is this or that. All that needs to be recognised  is that Islam is incompatible with liberal democracy because in its moral choices it is a belief system  which runs directly counter to liberal democracy and has as  its end game the subjugation  of the entire world.

What effective  action can Western governments do to prevent the gradual  erosion of  the values upon which their societies are built? ? There are three general  possibilities. These are:

  1. Logically, the ideal for any Western government committed to their country’s national interest would  be to expel all Muslims from their territory as a matter of policy with no legal process allowed.   That is because  (1) there is no way of knowing who will become a terrorist;  (2) a large population of Muslims provides the “ocean in which the terrorist swims “ and (3)  any action disadvantaging Muslims short of expulsion will breed terrorists.
  2. A less comprehensive programme would be to block all further Muslim immigration, ban all Muslim religious schools,  cease funding any Muslim organisations, deport any Muslim without British citizenship, remove the British citizenship of any Muslim with dual nationality and deport them back to the country  for which they hold citizenship.  The question of legal aid would not arise because  their would be no appeal allowed as the policy deals in absolutes: you are a Muslim either without British citizenship or with dual nationality and you qualify for deportation . The difficulty with that set of policies is it would  allow a large population to remain within the West and would create resentment amongst that population which could lead to terrorism.
  3. The least dynamic government action would be to implement programme 2 but allow any Muslim with British citizenship or long term residency to appeal expulsion through the courts. That would have the disadvantages of programme 2 plus the added opportunity for endless delay as appeals are heard and re-heard. Such a system would also require legal aid to be given if the judicial process was to be sound.

Will anything like this happen? Most improbable at least in the short term.  The West is ruled by elites who worship at the altar of  political correctness.  Theirs in a fantasy world in which human beings are interchangeable and institutions such as the nation state  are seen as  outmoded relics as homo sapiens marches steadily towards the sunlit uplands of a world moulded and controlled  by  the rigid totalitarian dicta of  political correctness .

For such people the mindset of anyone willing to die for an idea is simply alien to them.  Even more remote to these elites  is the belief that there is an afterlife which is much to be preferred to life on Earth. Most damaging of all they cannot conceive of people who have no interest in compromise and consequently will be remorseless in their pursuit of their goal. The liberal  mistakenly believes that simply by contact with the West will  the values the liberal espouses be transferred to the rest of the world. This incredibly arrogant fantasy can be seen at its most potent in their attitude to  China, which is  quietly but efficiently creating a world empire by buying influence, and in the Middle East and North Africa where the attempt to transfer liberal  values by a mixture of force and material aid has been a shrieking failure which mocks the liberal every second of every day.

Because of such ideas Western elites are only too likely to keep fudging the issue and conceding, not necessarily right away, more and more privileges to Muslins within their societies. They will also probably greatly increase funding for “moderate” Muslims to enter Schools and Mosques to teach Western values. This will drive many young Muslims towards extremism not away from it because however the teaching of British or Western values is conducted it will inevitably be seen as a criticism of Islam.  Older Muslims will also be angered at such  teaching of their children.  Anything the liberal is likely  to do will simply be throwing  petrol on the fire.

What is required is the replacement of the present elites either by removing them from power or by them changing their tune utterly.  The first is improbable in Britain because of the structure of the voting system  which hugely protects the status quo and a complicit mainstream media which shares the devotion to political correctness and manipulates access to favour parties and politicians which play the politically correct game.

But the changing of political tune is a real possibility because liberals are starting to get truly frightened as they realise things could get seriously out of control if Muslim terrorism continues to occur. There is also the fact that white liberals  recognise in some part of their minds that what they ostensibly espouse – the joy of diversity – is bogus.  This can be seen by how they so often arrange  their own lives  to ensure that they live in very  white and in England very English circumstances. The  massive white flight away from places such as  inner London and Birmingham bears stark witness to this.  Being capable of the greatest self-delusion they explain their hypocrisy by telling themselves that this is only because the great project of producing a country, nay a world, fit for the politically correct to love in, has tragically not been fully realised yet because  the outmoded non-pc  ideas and emotions still exists  as people have not yet been educated to see the error of their primitive ways such as believing in the nation state and a homogenous society. But in their heart of hearts they know they would dread to live in the conditions to which they have sanguinely consigned the white working class.

Liberals  may also have the beginnings of a terror that their permitting of mass immigration, the promotion of multiculturalism and the suppression of dissent from their own native populations will soon come to be called by its true name, treason. All these fears will act as a motor to drive the liberal elites to become more and more realistic about what  needs to be done.

The question every non-Muslim  in the West needs to answer is this, do you really believe that if Muslims become the majority in a Western country they will not do what Islam has done everywhere else in the world where they are  in the majority and at best place Islam within a greatly privileged position within the state or at worst create a Muslim theocracy?  Even Turkey, the liberals’ favourite example of a Muslim majority secular democracy, is rapidly moving towards a position when it cannot meaningfully be called a democracy or secular as Islamic parties gain more and more leverage and the Prime Minister Erdogan becomes ever more autocratic.

If a person’s answer to the question I posed is no, then they need to answer another question, do I want to live in such a society? If  their answer is no then they must  be willing to fight for their way of life or the “religion of peace” will change their society beyond recognition.

When I hear someone describing Islam as the “religion of peace”  I am irresistibly reminded of the aliens in the film Independence Day emerging from their spaceship yelling “We come in peace” before blasting every human in sight.  The white liberals who peddle into the “religion of peace” propaganda should be constantly called upon to explain why it is that a “religion of peace” can be so unfailingly successful in attracting people who say they subscribe to it yet are unremittingly cruel and violent.

The times they are a-changing

Robert Henderson

What has changed over the past year?

I sense that political correctness has passed its high point. Like all totalitarian creeds,  it is in reality  failing when it is  seemingly at its most dominant. That is because  all totalitarian creeds become ever more obviously  detached from reality  as they invariably become ever more extreme as the practitioners and enforcers of the ideology compete to show who is the purest ideologue.  It is also catching more and more people who may have thought themselves safe from suffering any penalty from being non-pc in its clutches, for example, the Wigan FC chairman Dave Whelan, not least because of the  growing ubiquity of digital devices available to record  both the spoken and written word, so that even private utterances or writings are vulnerable to hacking, deliberate surreptitious  recording or  in the case of that which is written , the discovery of thoughts by third parties.

There has also  been a considerable change in the past twelve months   in the rhetoric on three vital matters: immigration, withdrawal from the EU and the political representation of England within a  devolved UK.   All have become much more in line with reality, both social and political.  The change in the case of immigration is especially striking.  None of this  has as yet been translated into practical action,  but honest talk about subjects for long treated as beyond the Pale by mainstream politicians and media  is encouraging and is an essential prelude to meaningful action.  The more the rhetoric moves towards reality, the harder will it be for the political elite to control matters.  There is a genuine  possibility of  both an IN/Out EU referendum in 2017 and  English Votes for English Laws after the 2015 General Election.

An EU referendum

Many of those  supposedly in favour of the UJK leaving the EU are fearful  or say they are that a referendum in the near future would be lost and talk of years of preparation of the electorate before a referendum is held. Richard North is a prime proponent of this argument.   It holds no water for two reasons. First,  if Britain remains within the EU we shall become ever more entwined in its coils to the extent that  Britain would l find it very difficult to legally leave the EU.  This process is  already well in hand  as the recent signing up to 35 Justice measures,  including opting in again  to the European Arrest Warrant, demonstrates.  This has happened despite  the profound implications of the  handing of such power to the EU. Why was there no referendum? Because  the European Union 2011  Act, only  makes the holding of a referendum  necessary  on  the granting of entirely   new powers to the EU and/ or extending existing powers if the powers are part of an EU treaty concluded after the Act passing into law in 2011.

This failure to refer very important  transfers of power to a referendum is no accident. There are no new treaties on the horizon for the very simple reason that the Eurofanatics fear they would l lose  any referenda on another treaty and they cannot avoid such referenda because some countries such as France, the Republic of Ireland  and now the UK  require a referendum on a treaty to transfer further powers to Brussels. (The UK  law could be repealed or amended  to restrict the opportunities for a referendum,  but that  is unlikely  because Ed Miliband has committed himself to it).

The second reason not to shy away from a referendum in the near future is simple. Suppose the worst happens and the  referendum is lost . That is not the end of the matter. Rather it is the beginning as the Scottish referendum aftermath has demonstrated.    A referendum would provide opportunities  to put forward the case for coming out  in depth  in the mainstream media over a sustained period and  to energise the electorate. That would provide the platform for future IN/OUT referenda. By its nature nothing is ever permanently settled in a democracy.

English votes for English laws

Even in its  purist form with only English seat MPs voting on English laws this is not a permanent solution, but it is a staging post to an English Parliament.   Once established it will quickly become clear that there will be perpetual dissent over what are English-only laws, squabbles over the continuing existence of the Barnett Formula and the practical difficulty of having a House of Commons where the majorities for UK business and English business might be different, for example, a  UK wide  majority for Labour  or Labour led coalition, either relying for MPs from seats outside of England for their majority and a Tory majority in England.

The Tory and LibDem proposals put forward by William Hague today in publication The Implications of Devolution for England  are messy with two of the  three Tory options  fudging  matters by not restricting the proposal and the voting on of English-only legislation to English-seat MP and  the  LibDem proposal   being a blatant attempt to smuggle in proportional representation by the back door by suggesting that an English Grand Committee be set up with its members selected to represent the proportion of votes each party . They also have a superb recipe for balkanising England by allowing different levels of  representation on demand with differing  powers  if a city,  council or region seek them. Labour have not put any proposals formally forward because they refused to join discussions on fitting England into the devolution mix.  I will deal with the subject in greater depth in a separate essay.

The most dangerous general global threats are plausibly  these in this order

  1. Mass immigration.
  2. Islam – It is a simple fact that serious unrest is found wherever there are large numbers of Muslims.   When I hear Muslims and their liberal supporters proclaiming that Islam is the religion of peace I am reminded irresistibly of the film  Independence Day in which the aliens emerge from their spaceship proclaiming “we come in peace”  before blasting everyone in sight to smithereens.

3 Uncontrolled technology, which leaves the developed world in particular  but increasingly the  world generally,  very vulnerable  to suddenly being left without vital services if computer systems fail naturally or through cyber attacks.  The glitch over the UK air traffic control gives a hint of  how vulnerable we are.

The most dangerous specific  threats to global peace and stability are:

–              The heightened tension between China and the rest of the far East (especially Japan) as a consequence of China’s flexing of territorial ambitions.

–              China’s extraordinary expanding  shadow world empire which consists of both huge investment in the first world and de facto colonial control in the developing world.

–              The growing power of India which threatens Pakistan.

–              The increasing authoritarianism of the EU due to both the natural impetus towards central control and the gross mistake of the Euro.  The Eurofanatics are playing with fire in their attempts to lure border states of Russia into the EU whilst applying seriously damaging sanctions to Russia. It is not in the West’s interest to have a Russia which feels threatened or denied its natural sphere of influence.

–              The ever more successful (at least in the short run)  attempt of post-Soviet Russia to re-establish their suzerainty over the old Soviet Empire.

 

Who should vote in an IN/OUT EU referendum?

Robert  Henderson

Who will be allowed to vote in a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU? Will it be anyone resident in Britain? Everyone with citizenship of an EU member state who is resident in Britain?  Everyone resident within the European Economic Area (EEA). Or would it be just  British citizens?  This is a vitally  important issue for the OUT camp  because the broader the franchise, the greater the advantage to those who want Britain to remain a captive of the EU.

Suppose the  qualification to vote in the EU referendum was the same as that for the recent Scottish independence referendum. This  was

“The following groups are entitled to be on the electoral register for the referendum:

  • British citizens resident in Scotland.
  • Commonwealth citizens resident in Scotland who have leave to remain in the UK or do not require such leave.
  • Citizens of the Republic of Ireland and other EU countries resident in Scotland.
  • Members of the House of Lords resident in Scotland.
  • Service personnel serving in the UK or overseas with the armed forces who are registered to vote in Scotland.
  • Crown personnel serving outside the UK with HM Government who are registered to vote in Scotland.

The key difference from normal voting arrangements is that the minimum age for voting in the referendum will be 16 instead of 18. This means that people who will be 16 years old by 18 September 2014, and are otherwise eligible, can register to vote.”

That would mean  anyone resident in  Britain who was registered to vote in one or more British elections, whether national, local or for the EU,   would be allowed to vote in the EU referendum . The consequence of that would be to allow millions of people who were not British to vote. There would be Republic of Ireland citizens, EU nationals from EU states other than the RoI  and qualifying Commonwealth citizens  “who  must be resident in the UK and either have leave to enter or remain in the UK or not require such leave”.  All of this covers a surprisingly wide range of nationalities.

To use such a qualification would be greatly to the disadvantage of the OUT side.  This would be for these reasons:

  1. Immigrants of all sorts would have a vested interest in Britain remaining within the EU,  because outside of the EU Britain would be able to properly control her borders provided her politicians had the will. This would potentially, and almost certainly in actuality,  make both future immigration more difficult and reduce  the benefits  available to immigrants.  For example, the bringing into Britain  of relatives could be curtailed or stopped entirely. The total number of immigrants with a nationality other than British resident in Britain is an estimated  five million. Of these around two million are nationals of other EU states.  The foreign born figure is higher with around 8 million foreign born in Britain.
  2. British citizens living abroad would be ineligible. Despite being migrants themselves,  they would be more likely to vote to leave than foreigners living in Britain, not least because many of them would not be intending to live permanently abroad. Their position would be the exact opposite of foreigners living in Britain, who whether or not they intended to stay permanently in Britain,  would have a vested interest in voting for Britain to remain within the EU because it would secure their immediate position in the country.  There an estimated five  million Britons living abroad.  The majority  live outside of the EU.

3.Sixteen and seventeen r olds would be more  likely to vote to stay in the EU than older voters  because they have known nothing else.

The best case scenario

Suppose the best case scenario for an OUT vote  occurs, that only those eligible to vote in general elections were allowed to vote.

The present  eligibility to vote in Britain is this:

To vote in a UK general election a person must be registered to vote and also:

–              be 18 years of age or over on polling day

–              be a British citizen, a qualifying Commonwealth citizen or a citizen of the Republic of Ireland

–              not be subject to any legal incapacity to vote

Additionally, the following cannot vote in a UK general election:

–              members of the House of Lords (although they can vote at elections to local authorities, devolved legislatures and the European Parliament)

–              EU citizens resident in the UK (although they can vote at elections to local authorities, devolved legislatures and the European Parliament)

–              anyone other than British, Irish and qualifying Commonwealth citizens

–              convicted persons detained in pursuance of their sentences (though remand prisoners, unconvicted prisoners and civil prisoners can vote if they are on the electoral register)

–              anyone found guilty within the previous five years of corrupt or illegal practices in connection with an election

That would still leave RoI citizens and qualifying Commonwealth citizens eligible.   Their numbers are considerable.  In addition, British citizenship has been handed out astonishingly casually in recent years with  citizenship being granted to 100-200,000 people a year since 2000.

To first generation immigrants granted British citizenship can be added  millions of their descendants who automatically have British citizenship . They will  generally favour Britain remaining within the EU  for the same reasons as first generation immigrants will.

This all adds up to the a substantial handicap for the OUT side before any campaign started. Nonetheless, it is the most the OUT side can hope for.

Only a Tory government or a coalition between Tories and Ukip  are likely to  deliver a referendum. They would probably favour the same qualifications to vote as those used at a general election. Any broader suffrage should be resisted implacably, because the broader the franchise, the less chance of obtaining a vote to leave the EU.

 

 

Civitas meeting  2 10 2014 – Should we seek to remain in the EU for trade only?

Sole speaker Ronald Stewart-Brown (Trade Policy and Research Centre)

Robert Henderson

I knew what a malformed disaster Stewart –Brown’s  plan for Britain to  have nothing more than a trade relationship the EU was going to be when he started his talk by warning against the Great Satan  of Protectionism by citing the example of the protectionist measures taking during the Depression of the 1930s. In fact, it was the protectionist measures taken by Britain, together with  Britain moving from the Gold Billion Standard and the Keynsian public spending  on things such as council housing which  allowed Britain to recover more quickly than other  large industrialised nations. (I go into this in more detail in my email to Stewart-Brown  which I reproduce at the bottom of this post).

When I challenged him on this,  instead of admitting that he had misrepresented the protectionist effects in the Depression,  he simply blithely ignored what he had said and feebly added that unemployment had not been cured before WW2.  In fact, the level of unemployment in 1939 was around 10 per cent, the type of level it had been at  during  most of the  1920s when the Free Trade mania was still dominating British politics.

This type of historical ignorance  or the wilful denial of historical  reality is part of the stock-in-trade of the laissez faire worshippers and makes most of what they say on  economics a literal nonsense because the doctrine itself denies reality. Human beings are not the base advantage seeking automata  beloved of classical economists; individuals will not normally  have anything approaching perfect knowledge of a market. Instead, they will be doing what humans have evolved to do, being social animals who care most about relationships with other humans, raising their children and so on.

Stewart-Brown’s plan was to have Britain effectively  leave the EU but remain in a customs union with it.  This he advocated because he thought  this would (appeal to the British electorate; (2) would avoid the major manufacturers such as those making cars in Britain panicking at the prospect of EU trade barriers being raised against them and  (3)reassure the rest of the world that world trade would not be  disturbed. ( Strange  how we are so often told that Britain is hugely insignificant in the world economy these days by the class of people Stewart-Brown comes from,  but when it suits their purposes Britain is suddenly a massive influence on that economy. They make it up as they go along).

The idea that the other 27 members of the EU would fall down at Britain’s feet  and agree to such an arrangement is   risible, as several of the audience pointed out. But even if it did take place,  Britain would not be simply in a trading block because (1) the other EU members would keep introducing new rules and regulations, for example, health and safety legislation, into the remit of the Customs Union administration even though they  would have nothing to do with trade and (2) most British politicians would be only too happy to go along with this re-establishment of ever tighter EU tentacles around Britain because they do not want Britain to be detached from the EU.  The head of Civitas, David Green also  pointed out the incongruity between Stewart-Brown’s plans for a custom’s union and  his plea for free trade. This disconcerted Stewart-Brown, and all he could find to say was that  he was proposing what he thought was possible.

The nadir of the Stewart-Brown’s address came when he rather curiously  claimed that Britain  would get what he was proposing because a custom’s union which allowed the EU members’ goods and services to come to freely into Britain would give Britain —wait for it … “the moral high ground”.  What does he expect if the other EU members do not fall into line below this, in internationalist eyes, crushing fact? That such malefactors  will be, as Michael Wharton delighted in saying, “brought before the bar of world opinion”?  It was sublimely naïve.  I managed to have a second go at him and pointed out that the whole movement of global politics was away from the  unnatural internationalist ideas which had held sway in varying degrees since 1945 towards the natural state of humanity, which is tribal and catered for by the nation state.  In particular I cited China as being a and economic and political Goliath which had shown repeatedly in recent times that it would not play the internationalist game, vide its persistent refusal to let the Renmimbi  rise in value, despite being pressed strongly by the USA to do so.

Judged by their questions to him the audience was widely unsatisfied  with Stewart-Brown’s ideas , which were strong on wishful thinking and very short on realism.  Stewart-Brown was also very keen on saying a consultation most be started on this and an investigation begun on that. He struck me as the type who would never come to the point where the end-game would actually begin.

There was one audience contribution which may have more than ordinary significance. The erstwhile Tory MP David Heathcoat-Amory was scathing in his condemnation of Cameron’s negotiating position on the EU, saying it was essential Britain went into the negotiations with the clear intention of asking for a vote to leave if nothing substantial was conceded.  He also supported Stewart-Brown’s idea of just being in a customs Union, but   only if those negotiating made it made clear Britain would simply walk away from the EU if no agreement was reached. Heathcoat-Amory may  represent a strong band of thinking amongst current Tory MPs.

It was all too familiarly depressing, Stewart-Brown is yet another person with some public influence who  really is not fit to have any hand in deciding what Britain’s relationship with the EU should be simply because he has been captured by the laissez faire ideology and is, I suspect, an internationalist at heart.

Email sent to after Civitas meeting –  I will post any reply here

Mr Ronald Stewart-Brown

Trade Policy and Research Centre

29 Great Smith Street, London SW1P 3BL

Email Ronald@tprc.org.uk

2 10 2014

Dear Mr Stewart-Brown,

A few thoughts on your Civitas talk today. Your commitment to free trade and doubtless free markets  generally is a gigantic stumbling block  to producing a realistic plan for Britain to remove herself from the EU.

How far you are entrapped within the free trade ideology was shown by your claim that the  great mistake in the  Depression was to engage in protectionism. In fact, that  was what protected Britain from the worst of the Depression years, along with coming off the Gold Bullion Standard, large scale state action which included building 500,000 council houses in the period  and the fact that British banks had already undergone considerable consolidation and thereby avoided the horrors that the USA experienced with their huge number of small banks, thousands of which went to the wall. The fact that Britain also had a national welfare system can also be thrown into the mix for it both gave the  unemployed an income  and making those who feared being unemployed less uncertain. These things probably kept consumption levels  significantly higher than they would otherwise have been.

In 1933 the unemployment rate was around 23% of the workforce; by 1939 it was around 10 per cent, the sort of figure incidentally that it had been throughout the 1920s when the free trade mania was still dominating British politics.  It is also true that Britain between 1950 and the early 1970s enjoyed a period of considerable growth and very  low unemployment behind protectionist barriers and great state involvement in the economy.

The reality of laissez faire economics is it is an intellectually incoherent doctrine – see my “Free markets and “free trade” =  elite propaganda” essay below – which does not do what its proponents claim. In fact it leads countries which practice it into dangerously distorting their economies which greatly undermines their self-sufficiency and leave any country unwise enough to go down this path open to manipulation by foreign powers and potentially to shortages of vital goods and services.

To imagine as you do that countries will abide by treaties is dangerously naive. At the present time we are seeing throughout the world a strong movement towards protectionism, whether that be overtly or by covert means such as hideously complex and time consuming bureaucratic procedures or the use of justice systems to intimidate foreign companies – China is a past master at this, but the USA is no slouch either with its laws against trading with certain countries in certain goods and the absurd fines US regulators and courts hand out to foreign companies. In the case of the EU, to believe that your plan would succeed because quote “We shall have the moral high ground” is wishful thinking on stilts. As several people pointed out it only takes one member state to veto a proposal. To expect 27 EU states to all refrain from doing so is wildly improbable.

But there is an even bigger issue. As I pointed out at the talk, there is strong reasons to believe the EU will not remain intact as a group of supposedly democratic states. To begin most of the EU states do not have any great democratic history. The largest apart from Britain – Germany, France, Spain, Italy – all date their present constitutional arrangements  in decades not  centuries. They and most of the smaller states are naturally  democratically fragile. Also,  since the current recession stated, it is debatable whether Italy, Greece, Spain and Portugal have been democracies so controlled have they been by ECB diktats. There is also the madness of the EU’s attempt to lure  the Ukraine into the Brussels net and the ongoing mess with is the Euro – see my separate email on the Euro.  Any of these circumstances could lead to anything from individual members casting aside any pretence at democracy to the entire EU blowing apart. Consequently the path you advocate with the UK still tied into the EU economic process in the shape of membership of a customs union is fraught with danger. Much better that Britain leaves the coils of the EU entirely and makes its way in the world as the vast majority of countries do. That way if the EU blows up we will not have any legal ties and obligations to it.

Finally, there is the question of winning an in/out referendum. The British may not like the EU,  but neither do they like globalism. It will be impossible to win a referendum on Britain’s membership of  the EU if the electorate know that all they are being asked to do is to swap the overlordship of Brussels for the  ideological despotism of free trade and mass immigration. (The laissez faire approach involved in globalisation is those with power enforcing an ideology by refusing to act to protect what the vast majority of human beings regard and have always regarded as the interests of their country and themselves.  It is a tyranny caused by the neglect of the rightful use of state power for the common good.) If a referendum is to be won it will have to be on the basis of Britain being master in its own house to stop further mass immigration and to protect strategically important industries.

Yours sincerely,

 

Robert Henderson

Bruges Groups meeting 24 September 2014  – The EU’s attack on Britain’s most successful industry [the City]

Prof Tim Congdon  (Founder of Lombard Street Research)

Dr Gerrard Lyons  (Chief Economic Adviser to Mayor of London )

Lars Seiet Chistensen  (CEO Saxo Bank)

Robert Henderson

The three speakers were all agreed on this

  1. The desirability of Britain’s financial services sector continuing to grow.
  2. The dominance of London as a purveyor of financial products.
  3. The damaging effect of the EU on the City in particular and British financial services in general, both at present and the great potential for much more destructive EU policies in the future.
  4. The resentment of other EU members, particularly the large ones, of Britain’s dominance as a financial centre. Congdon and Christensen suggested that this resentment led to active attempts by the EU to take away this British dominance through EU legislation.

Other points to note were (a)  Congdon and Christensen being  certain that the only way forward for Britain was to leave the EU   because Cameron’s promised renegotiation would produce nothing of consequence and (b)  Lyons coming out with the “London benefits from immigration”  fantasy (exactly who  benefits?) and claiming, curiously , that what was needed was the “financial equivalent to the Luxembourg  compromise” to protect the City, curiously because the  Compromise, if it has any practical force at all (which is dubious), already covers such  financial matters because it embraces all aspects of the EU open to majority vote, viz “Where, in the case of decisions which may be taken by majority vote on a proposal of the Commission, very important interests of one or more partners are at stake, the Members of the Council will endeavour, within a reasonable time, to reach solutions which can be adopted by all the Members of the Council while respecting their mutual interests and those of the Community”.

However, the Compromise, which is only a political declaration by Foreign Ministers and cannot amend the Treaty, did not prevent the Council from taking decisions in accordance with the Treaty establishing the European Community, which provided for a series of situations in which qualified-majority voting applied. Moreover, qualified-majority voting has been gradually extended to many areas and has now become normal procedure, unanimity being the exception. The Luxembourg Compromise remains in force even though, in practice, it may simply be evoked without actually having the power to block the decision-making process.”

It is a little bit disturbing that someone advising  a powerful politician such as Boris Johnson  is so ill informed about the reality of the EU.

The great omission from the event  was any consideration of what the British public wants.   All three speakers  completely ignored the democratic will of the British people.  The British may not like the EU,  but neither do they like globalism. It will be impossible to win a referendum on Britain’s membership of  the EU if the electorate know that all they are being asked to do is to swap the overlordship of Brussels for the  ideological despotism of free trade and mass immigration. (The laissez faire approach involved in globalisation is those with power enforcing an ideology by refusing to act to protect what the vast majority of human beings regard and have always regarded as the interests of their country and themselves.  It is a tyranny caused by the neglect of the rightful use of state power for the common good.)

Come questions from the audience  I was unable to get myself called. Had I been able to do so I should  have raised the question of  the democratic deficit and the impossibility of persuading the British electorate to vote to leave the EU if the alternative was more state sponsored globalism.  Sadly, those who were called to ask questions complete ignored these  vital questions

After the meeting I  managed to speak to Congdon  and put the question I had been unable to ask to him.  Congdon’s response was a simple refusal to discuss the question of protectionist measures. Indeed, he  became extremely animated in his refusal  saying he would have no truck with such ideas.  This is par for the course when I attempt to debate with laissez faire religionists.  They either do what Congdon does, refuse to debate or become abusive.  These are the classic behaviours of religious believers when their ideas are challenged.  These people know in their heart of hearts that their religion, whether it be sacred or profane, cannot stand up to close examination so in the vast majority of cases they a either refuse to debate or resort to abuse  which has the same effect.

Congdon also made the fantastic  statement that come an IN/OUT  referendum,  the British would vote to come out because they “have always valued freedom”.  Apart from this being historically a highly questionable claim, the vast  demographic changes over the past 60 years wrought by mass immigration have both diluted the Britishness of the population and the British population as a whole has been cowed by more than half a century of political correctness being enforced with ever increasing ruthlessness by  those with power in the country.

The other  issue  I raised with Congdon were the implications  that ever deeper  devolution had for the UK’s relations with the EU .  I put forward a plausible scenario: an in/out referendum is held. England votes 70% to leave while Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland vote 70% to stay in. I asked Congdon what  he thought would happen if such a vote occurred.  Amazingly,  he said he had no idea.

I need not have weighted the votes so heavily towards a vote to leave in England. The discrepancy in size between England and the other home countries is so huge that  England  would not have to vote YES to leaving the EU by anything like 70 for and 30% against to ensure the referendum was won by the leave the EU side.

The official number of registered electors  qualified to vote in Parliamentary elections at  the end of 2012 and their geographical distribution was as follows::

The total number of UK parliamentary electors in December 2012 was 46,353,900, a rise of 0.5 per

cent from December 2011.

The total number of parliamentary electors in each of the UK constituent countries and the

percentage changes during the year to December 2012 are:

  • England – 38,837,300, a rise of 0.5 per cent
  • Wales – 2,301,100, a rise of 0.1 per cent
  • Scotland – 3,985,300, a rise of 1.1 per cent
  • Northern Ireland – 1,230,200, a rise of 1.4 per cent

Assuming for the sake of simplifying the example that there is a 100% turnout,  23,176,951 votes would be  needed for a vote to leave the EU.  If England voted by 60% to leave that would  produce  23,302,380 votes to leave , more than would be required  for a simple majority.

But that is obviously not the full picture, There would be a substantial vote to leave  in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The combined electorate of Scotland Wales and Northern Ireland in 2012  was 7,516,600.  If  70% of those voted to remain in the EU that would only be 5,261,620 votes.   There would be 2,254,980 votes to leave.  If England voted 54% to leave (20, 972,142 votes) the votes to leave in the whole of the UK would be  23,227, 122 (20, 972,142 +2,254,980) , enough to  win the referendum.

Of course that is not how the vote would be in the real world. The turnout would be nowhere near 100%,  although  it might well be  over eighty per cent if the Scottish referendum is a guide.   How   Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland would vote is of course uncertain,  but  I have allotted  such a generous proportion of the vote to the stay in side in those  countries that it is unlikely I  have seriously over-estimated  the vote to  leave.  What the example does show  is that under any likely voting circumstances there would not need to be a very strong YES to leaving vote in England to override a very strong vote to remain part of the EU  in  Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

If there was such an unbalanced result, that is with England voting to leave and the other three countries voting to stay or even if just one of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland voting to remain in the EU, this would ostensibly produce a potentially incendiary constitutional crisis, especially if  Westminster politicians keep on grovelling to the Celtic Fringe as they did during the Scottish independence referendum ( a practice which  grossly inflated the idea of  Scotland’s ability to be independent without any pain in many Scots’ minds).

I said an ostensibly incendiary situation because in reality there would be little appetite to leave the UK  if the hard truths of  what leaving the UK and joining  the EU would mean were placed in front of voters in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. England or England plus one or two of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland would be a completely different kettle of fish compared with Scotland leaving the UK with the rest of the UK still in the EU. If any of Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland wished to leave the UK they would  and join the EU with the rest of the UK or just England outside of the EU,  they would be faced with an England or a remnant UK state which had regained its freedom of action and would not be bound by EU law.

The strategy of those in who want  the UK to leave the EU should be to reduce the idea amongst voters in Scotland, Wales and Northern  Ireland  that leaving the UK and joining the EU after a UK vote to  leave has taken place would be an easy choice.  To diminish  the  vote to stay in those countries  a pre-emptive strike is required before the referendum  laying before voters in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland the realities of their relationship with the EU and the  UK if they  seek to leave .

This is something which should have been done during the Scottish referendum.  Indeed, the refusal of the Better Together side of the argument to point out these realties was one of the prime reasons for the NO vote not being much larger than it was, handsome as that result was.  The unionist side generally was deeply patronising  to the Scots with their  line that only Scots could have a say in the debate and that the rest of the union had to keep quiet for fear of upsetting the Scots and driving them to a YES vote.  It implied that Scots are essentially less than adults who could not either bear contrary views or have the wit to listen to hard facts.

The primary things the Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish should be reminded of are:

  1. Wales and Northern Ireland are economic  basket cases which rely heavily on English taxpayers to fund their public expenditure. To lose that subsidy would cripple them both. Nor would they get anything like as much extra  funding from the EU – assuming it would have them as members –  as they would lose from the end of the English subsidy.

Scotland is in a better position because it is larger and has for the present at least significant oil revenues. But it is a very narrow economy relying very heavily on public service employment – a significant part of which deals with the administration of English public service matters –  while the private business side of is largely comprised of oil and gas, whiskey, food, tourism and financial services.

The figures below are the latest official estimates of the tax raised in each of the four home countries to the end of the 2012/13 financial year. These figures should not be treated as exact to the last million because there are difficulties in allocating revenue to particular parts of the UK, for example, with corporation tax, but they  are broadly indicative of what each country collects in tax I give two sets of figures to show the differences when oil and gas is allocated on a geographical and a population basis.

Table 1 Total HMRC Receipts (Geographical Split of North Sea Revenues), £m

UK         England    %       Wales      %     Scotland   %        N. Ireland %

2012‐13 469,777   400,659 85.3%    16,337 3.5%   42,415 9.0%       10,331   2.6%

Table 2 Total HMRC Receipts (Population Split of North Sea Revenues), £m

2012‐13 469,777   404,760 86.2%   16,652 3.5%   37,811 8.0%        10,518    2.6%

Compare this with public spending for each of the   home countries in the calendar year 2013 (I was unable to find expenditure figures for the financial year but they would be little different) :

England        £456.2 billion – difference of  £56 billion approx. between tax raised and money spent

Scotland        £53.9 billion  – difference  of £12 billion approx. between tax raised and money spent

Wales            £29.8 billion   – difference  of £13 billion approx. between tax raised and money spent

  1. Ireland £19.8 billion   – difference  of £9  billion approx. between tax raised and money spent

NB differences between I tax raised and money spent are based on Table 1 figures which give the most favourable interpretation of Scotland’s tax position.

The approximate  percentage of overspend  (spending less tax collected) by each of the home countries is

England      12%

Scotland     22%

Wales          43%

  1. Ireland 45%

The three smaller countries are accumulating debt at a much greater rate than England. In addition, small countries which go independent would find raising the money to meet their overspends would be much more expensive  than the cost of financing the debt as part of the UK

It is also worth noting in passing  the per head differences which are substantial between England and the other home countries.

In 2012/13, public spending per head in the UK as a whole was £8,788.

–              England £8,529 (3% below the UK average).

–              Scotland: £10,152 (16% above the UK average)

–              Wales: £9,709 (10% above the UK average)

–              Northern Ireland £10,876 (24% above the UK average).

If public spending per head was reduced to the present  English level in the other three home countries  approximately £16 billion would be removed from the UK  budget.

  1. The vast majority of their trade is with England. Barriers created by England’s departure from the EU could have very serious economic consequences any of other home countries remained  within the EU.
  2. Much of what they export to countries outside the EU has to pass through England.
  3. All three countries would be net takers from the EU budget not contributors. The EU are unlikely to welcome with open arms three more small pensioner nations. There would be no guarantee that the EU would accept any or all of them as members, but even if they did they terms they would have to accept would be far more onerous and intrusive than they experience now.  In particular, they would almost certainly have to join the Euro as this is a condition for all new members.
  4. An England or a reduced UK outside of the EU would have to impose physical border controls because any part of the UK which seceded and joined the EU would be committed to the free movement of labour within the EU (more exactly the European Economic Area – EEA). That would mean any number of immigrants from the EEA would be able to enter either England or a reduced UK via whichever part (s) of the UK had seceded and joined the EU.
  5. Being part of the UK gives the smaller home countries great security because the UK still has considerable military clout – ultimately Britain is protected by nuclear weapons – and the size of the population (around 62 million and rising) is sufficient in itself to give any aggressor pause for thought. The proposal for armed forces made in the SNP sponsored White Paper on independence recommended armed forces of 10,000  regulars to start with rising to 15,000 if circumstances permitted.   That would be laughable as a defence force for a country the size of Scotland which has huge swathes of land with very few people on the land.  An independent Wales and N Ireland would be even worse off.
  6. They could not expect to walk away from the Union without taking on a share of the UK national debt and of taxpayer funded pension liabilities proportional to their population, have a currency union to share the Pound, have UK government contracts for anything or retain  the jobs exported from England to do administrative public sector work  for England, for example, much of the English welfare administration is dealt with in Scotland.

If  this is done,  with any luck the enthusiasm for leaving the UK to join the EU if  England or England plus one or more of the other home countries has voted to leave the EU will diminish sufficiently to make a vote to  remain in the EU unlike or at least  reduce  the vote to stay in to level where there is not an overwhelming vote to either stay in or leave.

Civitas Meeting  – The trouble with Europe  19 May 2014

Robert Henderson

The sole speaker was Roger Bootle of the Daily Telegraph and Capital Economics

Bootle was  promoting his book The trouble with Europe.  The main thrusts of his argument  were

–          Europe is a declining political and economic power.

–          The growth rate within first the EEC and then the EU has been poor overall compared with economies outside the EU.

–          The EU has undermined European economic performance through promoting too generous welfare states.

–          That much of the regulation comes not from the EU but national governments within the EU.

–          That the EU has smothered competition between nation states and this has hindered innovation and enterprise.

–          That Europe’s period of  greatest world dominance was a time of intense competition between European powers.

–          That EU countries have suffered a loss of identity through mass immigration and those with empires had  a further blow to their national self-confidence through their loss.

–          That European elites have had their energies eaten up with trying to create uniformity within the EU to the detriment of such things as investment and productivity.

–          That the Euro is the biggest  economic disaster the EU has suffered,  dwarfing the Common Agricultural Policy.

–          The EU as it is presently constituted is obsolete.

Bootle laid down his terms for Britain  remaining within the EU: an end to ever closer union,   a guarantee of no second class status for the UK if she remains a member, a reduced EU budget, repatriation of powers to EU member states. National governments to be empowered to reject EU legislation and restrictions on the free movement of labour.

These conditions  are  so improbable that it is reasonable to conclude that Bootle in reality wants Britain out of the EU. If Britain does leave the EU, Bootle is in favour of what he called the WTONLY option if a good free trade agreement with the EU cannot be arranged. The WTONLY option is to simply leave the EU and then rely on World Trade Organisation rules to give Britain access to EU markets.

During questions it was heartening to see how many of the questioners were utterly hostile to the EU, despite the fact that many  of those there came under the heading of the great and the good, the sort of people who would normally be considered unvarnished  Europhiles.   Most promisingly, voices were raised against the wholesale takeover by foreigners of British business and the ill effects of multinationals.

I raised the question of how Britain should deal with the mechanics of leaving bearing in mind that the entire British political elite were Europhiles who would do everything to subvert the wishes of the British electorate by stitching Britain back into the EU through an agreement which included the four so-called EU freedoms, the free movement of goods, services, capital and labour within the EU. I suggested to Bootle that Article 50 was a poisoned chalice which would enable British politicians to do just that.  Rather surprisingly Bootle said that he did not think that the mechanics of leaving were important.  I was not able to question him further because of the number of people wanting to ask questions. However, I have addressed the subject and others in the email I sent to Bootle after the meeting. If I receive a reply I will add it to this blog post.

———————————————————————————

E mail sent to Roger Bootle 31 5 2014

Dear Mr Bootle,

A few points I  was unable to put to you at the Civitas meeting of  19 May.

1. How much do you think the status of the  Euro as  the second largest reserve currency has contributed to the survival of the Euro?  I enclose a note on this at the bottom of the email.

2. You advocate giving both sides of the story, of admitting that leaving the EU will not be without costs both material and moral.  The problem with that is twofold.

a) political knowledge and understanding amongst the electorate  as a whole  is  minute. Most will respond to the fear factor points not the reassuring points simply because they do not know enough to assess the situation rationally.

b) all the STAY IN camp will be peddling is the fear factor. Hence, the electorate will be hearing the fear factor language from both YES and NO camps but only the reassuring points from those who wish Britain to leave.

3. How the UK leaves the  EU is not a trivial matter as you suggested. The danger is that regardless of the wishes of the electorate ,  the British political elite will stitch us back firmly into the EU if they are given a free hand over the negotiation. This is so because we have a political class – especially the leading members of the class –  which is  overwhelmingly prepared to act as Quislings (Quislings in the service of the EU in particular and internationalism in general) to ensure that Britain does not escape the tentacles of the EU.

Of course such a betrayal could apply regardless of whether article 50 is activated or a simple repeal made  of the various Acts binding  us into the EU, but  Article 50 carries far more dangers for those who want us out of the EU than a simple repeal of the Acts  would do.  If Britain accepted the legality of Article 50  we  would have to put up with any amount of prevarication and dirty tricks for two years.  Worse,  the time to reach any  agreement between Britain and the EU under article 50 can be extended if both parties agree.

As those negotiating on behalf of Britain would inevitably be politicians who have sold their souls to the “European Project”, the odds are that they would use any obstruction and delay by the EU to justify making an agreement which would practically speaking nullify the vote to leave.  As sure as eggs are eggs, the agreement would  place  us  firmly back into the EU’s clutches  by signing Britain up to the four EU “freedoms” (freedom of movement of goods, services, capital and labour)  and all the rules regulating the single market.  If the break with the EU is done simply by repealing the various Acts which bind us in, our politicians will not be able to use the restrictions and difficulties raised by Article 50 as an excuse for selling the voters down the river with an agreement such as I have described.  Instead, they would have to take full responsibility for whatever they agree to.  Article 50 is a particularly toxic poisoned chalice.  Don’t drink from it.

It is essential that before any referendum takes place that all mainstream UK parties make it clear that whatever  agreement  is reached by those negotiating on behalf of Britain this should only be ratified if the British people vote for it in a second referendum.  Unless this happens the political class will give us something which binds us back into the EU.

5. It is a dangerous argument to claim that competition between governments is a good thing if you are relying on the historical example.  In your Telegraph article Europe’s politicians must embrace competition or face slide into obscurity (19 May) you write:

It is very striking that Europe’s golden age, when European countries bestrode the world and European influence was at its height, was an era of competition between nation states. Admittedly at times this competition went too far and spilled over into war …

The reality of European history is that it has been primarily a history of war as far as you care to go back. War not peace has been the norm. The period of European ascendency was no exception to this and because of technological developments became more and more efficiently brutal.    Use the European historical example and you are simply inviting the Europhiles to say “Told you so. Nation states can’t be trusted to behave”.

6. At present I also have a problem with  all political discussions  and especially those referring to the economy.   We are within striking distance of the production of general purpose robots which will be able to do not only most of the jobs humans now do but most of any new ones which arise.   The implications of this are so profound that they bid fair to render any political solutions or policies currently in play obsolete.  Politicians should be planning for such developments but they are simply ignoring them.  If you read  these two pieces you will see where I am coming from:

https://livinginamadhouse.wordpress.com/2011/07/01/robotics-and-the-real-sorry-karl-you-got-it-wrong-final-crisis-of-capitalism/

https://livinginamadhouse.wordpress.com/2013/06/23/technology-out-of-control/

Yours sincerely,

 

Robert Henderson

 

 

 

BBC 2 Farage versus Clegg debate  2 April 2014

Chairman  David Dimbleby

The full debate on IPlayer can be found at http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0401ht2/The_European_Union_In_or_Out/

It will only be up until 10th April so catch it while you can.  Here is what may be a permanent recording link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fd9rsmD4HiM

The re-match between Farage and Clegg resulted in an even more humiliating hour for Clegg than the first debate. YouGov and ICM polls taken shortly after the debate had Clegg and Farage scoring as follows:

The YouGov poll gave Farage 68%, Clegg 27% Undecided 5%

As last week, this YouGov survey for The Sun questioned just over 1,000 people who viewed the debate. We weighted the data to ensure that it was representative of Great Britain as a whole by voting intention and attitudes to the European Union, but did not weight demographically; it therefore reflected the actual audience by age (older than average), gender (more male) and social class (more middle class). It was a fresh sample: we did NOT re-interview people we questioned after last week’s debate.  

It is clear that Farage gained ground most among the very people LEAST likely to support his party or his cause:

The proportion of Labour supporters saying Farage performed better rose from 42% after the first debate to 57% after the second

Among Liberal Democrats, Farage’s figures are: first debate 20%, second debate 33%

Among people who told us ahead of the debate that they supported British membership of the EU, his figures are: first debate 30%, second debate 45%  (http://yougov.co.uk/news/2014/04/03/farage-wins-round-two/)

An ICM Poll had Farage at 69% and Clegg on 31%

These  polls compare with a 57% Farage, 36%  Clegg  7% undecided  YouGov poll result after the first debate.

This was a tremendous result under any circumstances, for, as  I wrote after the first debate, it is rare indeed for such a crushing advantage to exist in  a two-horse debating race.   In the context of Clegg’s many advantages over Farage  – the profile of being deputy PM, endless appearances   before the TV cameras, widespread  mainstream media contempt for Farage and UKIP , leading a party with sixty odd seats in the Commons and, compared to UKIP, considerable financial and organisational resources plus the experience of  a public leaders’ debate  behind him – the results of the two debates are nothing short of  astonishing.  It was nothing short of an humiliation.

Why did Clegg do even worse in this debate than the first one? Many of the media commentators are putting this down to a more aggressive attitude by him and certainly his adolescent  gibes at Farage will not have helped his cause. Here are few samples:

“He’s [Farage] one of those people who see conspiracy theories everywhere. I wouldn’t be surprised if he tells us next that there wasn’t a Moon landing, Obama isn’t American, and Elvis isn’t dead!”

“If I’m the leader of ‘the party of in’, he’s  [Farage] the leader of the party of Putin!”

The general problem with Clegg’s aggression is that it looked, as with everything about his public persona, manufactured. The hand and arm gestures were wooden and studied to the point of being ridiculous, the voice insincere and tremulous by parts. He was a very bad advert for whoever provided his media training and an even worse one from those who advised him on how to approach this debate.

Worse of all  Clegg did what Europhiles have long done, simply chant pro-EU mantras without giving any thought to justifying them or of rebutting opposing arguments with anything more than  a bald assertion that they are wrong.  This was unsurprising because Europhiles are almost invariably intellectually lazy. Instead of doing the hard graft of mastering the facts they simply take on board   dubious assertions  such as “three million British jobs are dependent on the EU” and “the EU has prevented war in Europe” which they present not as the highly questionable opinion they are but as objective fact.

While the Europhile  ideology dominates and controls public life generally and  in particular  the mainstream media, they can get away with reciting slogans which are not only debatable but  often palpably untrue.  I dare say that Clegg has gone through his entire life until these debates without ever  having to defend  in public the subject of the EU in circumstances where he had to either produce arguments in favour of the EU  which stood up to real scrutiny or find replies to the ideas of an opponent who was radically opposed to the EU. There was nowhere for Clegg to escape to. Being unused to having to think on his feet or provide reasons other than the well-worn Europhile clichés,  Clegg simply fell back on those clichés with adolescent abuse mixed in. Often he simply repeated, almost  verbatim, what he had said in the first debate,  the most blatant and extended example occurring when the subject of  an In/Out referendum arose, viz: ‘I [Clegg] believe that when the rules change, when there’s a new treaty, when powers which rightfully belong to you are being given up to the EU, it shouldn’t be for the Government to decide – it should be for you to decide…

In contrast, Farage was vastly  more impressive in his energy, verbal delivery and body language. What nervousness there was in the first debate had vanished.  There was nothing coached about his manner.  He looked and sounded like someone voicing simple truths.

On both  immigration and an In/OUT referendum  Clegg  refused to meaningfully engage with the questions. Farage produced the LibDem poster from 2008 which Nick Ferrari had introduced into the first debate.  This had Clegg promising a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. During the first debate Clegg had claimed the poster promised  the same position he occupies now, namely, that the LibDems would support a referendum on any further Treaty which removed further substantial powers from Britain.  Farage pointed out that the poster had no such qualification of  its general promise of a referendum. Clegg waffled so blatantly at this point that Dimbleby asked him the important  unasked question  I highlighted in my account of the first debate, namely, why not have a  referendum on all that has already been passed without a referendum:, viz:  “ We last had a referendum 40 years ago. You have described everything that has happened since, the Lisbon Treaty  and all those things. Why can’t there be a referendum  on  all the things that have happened ? Why wait for even more change before you agree to a referendum, why not have one now? (Go into debate at 50 min 30 sec).  All this produced was  reiterated Clegg waffle  about waiting for a new treaty. On the face of it this is really very stupid of Clegg because he could quite easily commit the LibDems to an In/Out referendum knowing full well he would never be in a position to deliver it  because his party will never command a Commons majority. Clegg  does not do so because he is trapped by his Party’s mainlining addiction to the EU.

On immigration Farage  told the simple truth ….

‘We have no idea how many people are coming here from the European Union next year, the year after or the year after that, because unconditionally we have an open door to 485million people.

‘Immigration on this scale has changed fundamentally the communities, not just of London, but actually of every city and every market town in this country. But worst of all what it’s done socially, it has left a white working class effectively as an underclass. And that I think is a disaster for our society.

‘[Large scale immigration] is good for the rich because it is cheaper nannies and cheaper chauffeurs and cheaper gardeners.

But it is bad news for ordinary Britons. We need to have a control on immigration, on the numbers who come here and over the quality who come here.’

….while Clegg  lied and dissimulated:

 “He [Farage] claimed that 485million people were going to vacate the whole of the rest of the European continent and turn up in Britain.(This was a direct lie because Farage had already made his position quite clear in the first debate when he said correctly that 485 million had the right to come to the UK).

 “Let me just show you, this is a leaflet from UKIP. It’s a picture of a very unhappy-looking native American.

It says, “He used to ignore immigration, now he lives on a reservation.” We are not – by staying in the EU – going to be cooped up on a native American reservation. What are you going to say next? That you’re Crazy Horse or Sitting Bull?”   (Farage said that he had no knowledge of where the leaflet had come from and disowned the message).

Clegg’s dishonesty on immigration was shown vividly after Farage  quoted a Migration Watch report that immigration to the UK  over the next four to five years  would mean ,  even at its current rate, the building of a city the size of Manchester  which has a population of 500,000. Clegg said this was nonsense because the Greater Manchester area had 2.7 million. Clegg must have known that Greater Manchester is not Manchester and consequently  deliberately tried to mislead. Clegg also repeated the falsehood  from the first debate that  UKIP’s claim of  29 million Bulgars and Romanians  who could come to Britain was absurd because there are  not 29 million Bulgars and Romanians.  The 2012 census figures for both countries  show they have  is a combined population of more than 28 million. Why Farage did not thrust the census figures at Clegg is a mystery.

When Dimbleby pressed Clegg (Go into the recording at 22 min 46 sec) on the  effect of massive immigration on infrastructure such as schools and  hospitals Clegg responded hesitantly and  incoherently  with “There are always problems when you have people”.  Dimbleby was palpably  surprised and he asked Clegg what he meant.  Clegg waffled on about how there would be such problems whether or not Britain was in the EU.

Clegg was positively  shameless when Farage raised the matter of Clegg’s claim in the first debate that only 7% of  legislation going through Parliament was inspired by the EU. Farage produced a copy of the House of Commons Library note which Clegg had relied on and read out the passage which showed that that the HoC paper note was much more nuanced and undogmatic and gave estimates of its own of between 15% and 50% percent of UK law from all sources . (http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/research/briefing-papers/RP10-62/how-much-legislation-comes-from-europe) .

Clegg tried to wriggle out of being caught  in what to any normal human being would count as a straight forward lie by referring to the 6.8% primary legislation figure quoted by the HoC note. However, as Clegg must have been well aware there is a great deal of  EU inspired law which consists of statutory instruments (the secondary legislation which provides the mechanics to implement primary legislation). Farage called a spade a spade, viz: “You are lying willingly to the British people about the extent we have given away democray”.

Inevitably Farage was taxed with his remarks about admiring Putin as an operator. However, this rather backfired because  both Dimbleby and  Clegg manifestly misrepresented Farage as being a general admirer of Putin  and Farage used the opportunity  to not only  expose that misrepresentation (which gained him the sympathy of the audience)  but to lambast Clegg as one of the cabal of career politicians who had kept Britain interminably at war:

Farage: “I don’t admire Putin, what I said was, he’d outwitted and outclassed you all over Syria. I also said I didn’t like him as a human being and I wouldn’t want to live  in Russia.’

 “You were absolutely hell bent on getting involved militarily in the war in Syria and I personally am delighted we didn’t go to war in Syria.

“This country has had enough of getting involved in endless foreign wars, there is no evidence that our intervention is making life better. I don’t want to be part of a European foreign policy.”

Farage’s strictures against the British political elite’s  warmongering got the loudest applause of the night. (Britain has de facto  been continuously at war for nearly a quarter of a century starting with the first  Gulf War).

Another strong Farage showing was on energy, viz: “The Chinese and Indians have gone for coal on a scale we can’t fathom, the US has gone for shale and we have gone for wind energy.” He  warned that the European Union’s “unilateral” approach to climate change was damaging businesses by pushing up energy bills and driving energy greedy industries such as metal smelting to the wall  and concluded that Britain should  “Scrap wind energy, scrap the subsidies, get shale”.

Farage also pointed out  that many leading politicians who were significant landowners had  benefited from the wind industry.

Clegg response was to call for more renewables to prevent e “over reliance on oil and gas from Nigel Farage’s friend Vladimir Putin”.

The final question from the audience was “What will the EU be like in ten years?”

Clegg said that he thought it would be much as it is now, which tells you how far his head is buried in the sand. In ten years three scenarios are more probable than the present status quo,  namely, a federal super state,    a free trade area or it will have simply disappeared..

Farage  foresaw a Britain outside of the EU after a referendum, hoped that other countries in the EU  would also leave  and warned against the dangers of  violence if change in the EU could not be achieved by democratic  means, pointing to support for nationalist parties such as Gold Dawn in Greece as evidence of the frustration which was building:

“We see in Madrid, we see in Athens, very large protests, tens of thousands of people, a lot of violence.

“You take away from people their ability through the ballot box to change their futures, then I am afraid they tend to resort to aggressive means.”

Clegg’s thoroughly shoddy performance did not help his case but the prime reason why  he was beaten so comprehensively was the simple  fact that he has a thoroughly bad case to argue.   It is impossible to make a sound case for being within the EU on any grounds which are acceptable to either  the British public now or which accord with what politicians from all the main Westminster Parties have claimed since Britain became part of what is now the EU.  For over forty years British mainstream politicians have repeated the sordid, treasonous lie that no real sovereignty  has been given away and that  Britain is still a fully functioning  Parliamentary democracy. The naked lie has been modified over the decades as the loss of sovereignty became ever more apparent  to the casuistry of saying Britain has not lost her sovereignty but merely pooled it with other countries. The more adventurous Europhile fantasists or liars (take your pick) say  that by joining with 27 other EU states British sovereignty has been amplified.

In addition,   the Labour, Tory and LibDem parties still  claim that Parliament is  sovereign because in principle Parliament can refuse any  legislation put before it or simply repeal any legislation relating to the EU up to and including the Act which gave  power to the Treaty of Rome, the European Communities Act of 1972. The reality is that even where the  national veto on EU law has applied it has very rarely been used – and is now very restricted because most EU decisions are made these days  by qualified majority voting – and there has been no instance in over 40 years of Parliament rejecting legislation introduced because of the EU. Practically, British sovereignty has been a dead letter since Britain joined the EEC.

The audience reaction throughout  was decidedly interesting, both because of its consistent support for Farage and for the fact that the BBC had not done their usual and packed the audience to reflect Europhile views. This could either be because a strategic decision has been made by the BBC that they will move with the political wind and allow Eurosceptic views on air  because to do anything else would be too blatantly biased as public interest in and anger about the EU grows or simply because they could not find enough unquestioning Europhiles applying to be audience members . I suspect it was the latter because not only is Europhilia growing more and more unpopular, even many of those who say they support the EU often have a considerable dislike of certain EU issues such as uncontrolled immigration and the imposition of regulations which interfere minutely both with business and the intimate details of their private lives.

The two debates told  us is this:

That the British are deeply dissatisfied with  their  political class.

That the British want an IN/OUT  referendum on the EU

That the British deeply dislike the EU as it is whether they are in favour of leaving or not

That for the British  immigration  is a prime political issue, probably  the prime political issue

That the British detest the perpetual  liberal internationalist warmongering

That Clegg is a very empty vessel indeed .

It remains to be seen whether the  British political class will respond to what the British people want . On the evidence of  the past 40 years don’t hold your breath.

LBC Nigel Farage versus Nick Clegg EU debate 26 3 2014

Chaired by Nick Ferrari

(The full debate can be viewed here http://www.lbc.co.uk/watch-lbc-leaders-debate-live—26th-march-87667)

Robert Henderson

Farage walked the debate with a YouGov poll of 1003 people giving this result:

57% Farage

36% Clegg

7% undecided

Even that figure probably understates the size of the victory because YouGov weighted the data to in practice favour Clegg by assuming UKIP supporters would be disproportionately likely to watch or listen to the debate:

1,003 completed this survey between 8.00 and 8.10. We weighted the raw data to (a) the voting intentions in our latest regular daily poll for the Sun (Lab 37%, Con 35%. UKIP 11%, Lib Dem 9%) and (b) to our most recent data on whether the UK should remain in the European Union.

An alternative approach would have been NOT to have corrected the political skew among our original 3,000 sample. The argument for doing this is that any assessment of audience reaction should take the audience as it is – in this case, accepting that UKIP supporters were much more likely to watch or listen to the debate than supporters of other parties. Had we done this, I estimate that the verdict of the audience would have been Farage 65%, Clegg 28%. Those who prefer to cite this figure, rather than to adjust for the UKIP-rich nature of the audience, are of course free to do so. ( http://yougov.co.uk/news/2014/03/27/farage-wins-debate-clegg/)

It was also telling that many of those who were not UKIP supporters thought Farage had won, viz:

Not surprisingly, almost all UKIP supporters preferred Farage. But he was also considered the winner by: 

  • 69% of Conservative supporters
  • 42% of Labour supporters
  • 20% of Liberal Democrats
  • 30% of those who said before the debate they would vote to keep the UK in the EU  (Ibid)

 

It is rare in a two man debate on any subject for a win to be so crushing and that is doubly so when politicians with  such polarised views are put up for the judgement of the public.

Why was the result so emphatic? Well, negative messages are always a very  hard sell. Clegg’s   position was one of fear and mistrust of Britain and Farage’s one of confidence in his country.  Clegg was selling the message “Britain isn’t up to looking after itself”, Farage the message  “ Britain could and should be independent and sovereign”.    While Farage was saying things such as “Surely the benefit system is for the citizens of this country” , The Anglo-Saxon rule of law”  and “The best people to govern Britain are the British”, Clegg  was tedious ly  intoning  “We get more power rather than less by being part of an economic superpower “ and  talking about the ill effects of “pulling up the drawbridge “ to exclude immigrants. (Clegg spent a great deal of time worrying about  drawbridges being pulled up).

Farage also displayed much more energy in his delivery than Clegg,   who as ever sounded like a prefect ineptly playing the role of a weary adult before  a school debating society. He was  deeply irritating for that reason alone, but his whole persona seemed manufactured, from  the deeply wooden arm gestures he makes  to the studied use of questioners’ names.    Farage  was perhaps  too shouty at times and  weak in his responses to some important questions, such as failing to explain how UKIP’s claim that  75% of British laws are being made in Brussels was calculated. But he  had one massive advantage over Clegg: he was able to tell the truth all the time or at the least not tell deliberate lies.  Farage at least seemed like a real human being, with unmanufactured  body language,  and if he allowed his ill-temper to intrude, judged by  polls such as the YouGov one,  it must have seemed like justified irritation with the British political class as represented by Clegg  to the majority of those watching and listening.

Clegg’s wilful dishonesty is perhaps best exemplified when the subject of immigration from the EU came up. Clegg referred to a recent UKIP pamphlet which claimed that Farage had claimed that “29 million Romanians and Bulgarians” were coming to Britain. This was untrue said Clegg because “They’re aren’t even 29 million Romanians and Bulgarians in Romania and Bulgaria”.  Apart from  not being what UKIP had said  – the party had simply pointed out that 29 million would have the right to come to Britain –  as of 2012 Bulgaria had a population of 21.33 million and Bulgaria 7.305 million, 29 million bar a few hundred thousand.( https://www.google.co.uk/#q=population+of+roumania). Not that it would have mattered in they were a million or two short of 29 million. The point at issue was the existence of millions of people from countries with living standards a fraction of those in Britain who were now entitled to come here.

Unlike Clegg , even when he was making a bit of a mess of things Farage  attempted to answer questions directly even when they raised real difficulties for him.  For example,  a question from the audience raised the subject of  the trustworthiness of politicians and  cited the LibDems’  broken promise over tuition fees and Farage’s employment of his wife as a paid helper as examples of things which destroyed trust.  Clegg failed to explain why the Lib Dems had broken their promise and just waffled about the importance of  trust,  while Farage answered the question directly  by saying the responsibilities of leading the party meant that he  needed someone on tap at home to help him. He also denied that he had ever said publicly that he would not employ his wife.   On another occasion the subject of UKIP’s opposition to gay marriage came up and Farage again dealt with a  potentially very tricky question by simply saying that UKIP would review the situation if the threat of European judges imposing  gay marriage on religions was removed.

Farage was generally  very forthright  and nowhere was this shown to better effect than when he attacked the  EU’s interference in the Ukraine’s dispute with Russia.  This naturally caused  a tempest of  politically correct huffing and puffing after the debate and clearly appalled Clegg. Such forthrightness will  have appealed to most of the general public who are sick of politicians presenting weasel words to them.

Clegg  shamelessly trotted  out the tired old discredited Europhile mantras because any Europhile true believer really has nowhere else to go. These included

–          3 million  British jobs are at risk if Britain leaves the EU  (After Ferrari had intervened to say there are  questions marks over the research on which the claim was based,  Clegg tempered his bald statement by saying  it would not be three million but it might be  two million, one million, 500,000 and so on ).

–          Immigrants are a boon to Britain and pay more in taxes than they receive in benefits (Farage pointed out that Migration Watch recently demolished this argument http://www.migrationwatchuk.co.uk/press-release/380)

–          Britain needed to be in the EU to get the best trade deals (Farage pointed out the Iceland had recently negotiated a lucrative trade deal with China)

–          The European arrest warrant is allowing Britain to  extradite murderers, terrorists and paedophiles  (Farage pointed out that it was a grotesque breach in the protections for the individual provided by  British law )

–          One and a half million Britons live and work in other EU countries and if Britain does not have freedom of movement within the EU then those one and half million  Briton  will be put in jeopardy.  (Farage missed a trick here. Apart from the fact that forced expulsion of EU foreigners  from Britain or Britons from other EU countries is wildly improbable, he should have pointed out that the British  living in other EU countries are  likely to either be someone doing a skilled job or be retired with money, while the EU foreigner  in Britain is likely to be doing a low skilled or unskilled job. Hence, if it did come to a forced exchange of Britons abroad for EU foreigners in Britain,   Britain would be the material  gainers. )

The Lib Dem leader also had a new statistic to play with, namely, that only 7% of British laws come from Brussels (patently  absurd because the massive range of supranational competence the EU now has).  Clegg said the source was the Commons Library and did not qualify in any way his claim by, for example, by saying it was difficult to quantify and only a broad range could be offered.   The 7% turns out to be false.  This position is much more complicated. Here  is what the 2010 HoC research paper entitled How much legislation comes from  Europe says:

“EU regulations, unlike directives, are not usually transposed into legislation at national level, but rather into quasi-legislative measures, administrative rules, regulations or procedures etc which do not pass through a national parliamentary process. How, then, can one be worked out as a proportion of the other? The term ‘national obligation’ might be more appropriate, but is it possible to identify the sum of national obligations arising from EU laws? Increasing use of regulations, particularly Commission regulations, “decouples national transposition procedures” (Christensen), thereby increasing the unquantifiable element of EU activity. All measurements have their problems. To exclude EU regulations from the calculation is likely to be an under-estimation of the proportion of EU-based national laws, while to include all EU regulations in the calculation is probably an over-estimation. The answer in numerical terms lies somewhere in between the two approaches, and it is possible to justify any measure between 15% and 50% or thereabouts. Other EU ‘soft law’ measures under the Open Method of Coordination are difficult to quantify as they often take the form of objectives and common targets. Analyses rarely look into EU soft law, the role of EU standard setting or self-regulatory measures.”

And

“In the UK data suggest that from 1997 to 2009 6.8% of primary legislation (Statutes) and  14.1% of secondary legislation (Statutory Instruments) had a role in implementing EU  obligations, although the degree of involvement varied from passing reference to explicit  implementation. Estimates of the proportion of national laws based on EU laws in other  EU Member States vary widely, ranging from around 6% to 84%. (file:///C:/Users/robnefrt/Downloads/RP10-62%20(2).pdf)

You can take your choice between Clegg shamelessly  lying or Clegg being stitched up by researchers who supplied him with false information.

In this context, it is very  important to understand what  Statutory  Instruments  (SIs) are. They provide the mechanism by which primary legislation is implemented. Frequently, SIs will expand the remit of primary legislation  beyond what is envisaged by those drafting the primary legislation and the politicians who vote for it. The “gold plating “ of EU directives is largely accomplished through SIs. Consequently, to concentrate on primary legislation stemming from Brussels is grossly misleading. The fact that SIs relating to EU derived primary legislation are not routinely   scrutinised by Parliament makes the opportunity for greatly expanding the powers of the primary legislation. It is worth describing  the Treaty obligations which place horrendous limitations on British sovereignty:

1 Types of EU legislative acts

There are three types of EU legislative acts. Under Article 288 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU):

A regulation shall have general application. It shall be binding in its entirety and directly applicable in all Member States.

A directive shall be binding, as to the result to be achieved, upon each Member State to which it is addressed, but shall leave to the national authorities the choice of form  and methods.

A decision shall be binding in its entirety. A decision which specifies those to whom it is addressed shall be binding only on them.

Opinions and Recommendations have no binding force.

EU Legislation  Standard  Note SN/IA/5419   http://www.parliament.uk/briefing-papers/SN05419.pdf

On the question of a referendum on the EU, Clegg squirmed as he tried to represent the LibDems as  having a consistent position from the time when he promised a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty  in 2008 until now.  There was an element of farce about the way the discussion began when Clegg answered  a question  (go into recording at 8 minutes 33 secs) from Ferrari about a Lib Dem poster  of 2008 which seemingly promised an unqualified  referendum by saying that people could not read the small print. Clegg actually meant that they literally could not read the small print of the poster Ferrari was holding up to the audience and cameras,  only the headline.  There was a ghastly serendipity about this,  because whatever Clegg meant  he then made very  clear there was indeed small print surrounding any LibDem promise of a referendum.  Clegg said  that in 2008 his position was exactly the same as it is now,  namely, a referendum should be held if there were substantial powers taken away by further treaties.

Farage picked Clegg up on this very strongly, pointing out that if only powers taken away by Treaty would trigger a referendum, this might well be a dead letter because  there was a strong possibility that new treaties would not be forthcoming  (this could well be the case because so much is decided by Qualified Majority Voting now) and that in any case there is a constant drip drip drip of new EU legislation which whittles away sovereignty, some of it substantial such the expansion of the EU’s foreign policy and the EU’s attempt to control the City of London. Clegg had no real answer to this.

Frarage should have asked Clegg to  explain why the British people could not be asked (in an IN/Out referendum) about all the powers which had been taken away without any referendum over the past forty years. Sadly the question went unasked.

It has to be admitted that Farage was weak in answering some  questions on statistical detail. The two worst instances were the proportion of British laws which originate from Brussels – when asked where the 75% UKIP figure came from Farage feebly said it was their own calculation with out explaining how they had reached it – and  on the cost of the EU to Britain and.  Ferrari asked Farage to justify the £55 million a day cost in a UKIP pamphlet.  Farage fumbled his reply by failing to make clear immediately that it was the gross amount  paid and taking too long to explain that even though it was the gross amount what money Britain received back had to be spent as the EU determined . However, I would doubt whether such statistical lacunae would register significantly with the general public, who will have largely switched of their minds when politicians start hurling stats at them.

After the debate the  politically correct media and politicians flapped around after the thumping poll win for  Farage claiming variously  the result was unimportant  (absurd), it was score draw, (http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/coffeehouse/2014/03/the-room-spun/) or that in reality Clegg had won (utterly fantastic).   This might have been expected from the likes of the Guardian and Mirror, but the supposedly Eurosceptic   Daily Telegraph also had a full hand of regular commentators – Mary Riddell,  Dan Hodges, Tim Stanley,  Toby Young – who all , with varying degrees of enthusiasm, stated that Clegg had come out ahead  (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/10725571/Verdict-who-won-in-the-Clegg-v-Farage-debate.html). The widespread  dismissal of  the YouGov poll by the mainstream media and politicians encapsulated the inherently anti-democratic mentality of those with power and influence in Britain.

The debate  was not deeply penetrating nor did it address all the important EU  issues adequately, for example,  the loss of democracy resulting from the UK’s EU membership  was barely touched upon.  Nor was it clear why the subject of gay marriage was raised within a debate on the EU unless it was simply to try to embarrass Farage and UKIP.  No matter. The value of the debate lay in giving the British public an opportunity to express their feelings through polls such as the YouGov one cited above  and  its naked demonstration, in the form of  Clegg,  of the chasm between the l public and the British elite.  Most of the British public display the natural human instinct of wanting their own national interests to be protected by their own people; the British elite wish to either submerge Britain into a united states of Europe or labour under the pathetic  delusion that the imperial tendencies of the  EU can be restrained from within.  Faced with a choice between Farage and Clegg it was no contest; they plumped for someone who shared their natural instincts.

 

 

 

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