Sunday, 24 July 2011

Oh do you bloody well think so?

It would seem that our illustrious PM whom some like to delude themselves that he is an ardent Eurosceptic is beginning to show his hand.

The Daily Mail is reporting  that David Cameron will not go to the country for a referendum on the changes that are being designed to underpin the latest bailout deal.  Of course it isn't official news at the moment as most of this is coming from "insiders" and as such does leave me asking some questions about whether this story is a pre-cursor for the faux Tories to some polling.

When I first read the story, the neighbours probably started asking themselves if I was an unfortunate Tourette's sufferer, given the profanity that spewed forth.  Eventually it died down to a conclusion that if true he has finally declared his hand by showing what he really thinks of the British people and of democracy.  So its okay, we now know where we stand.

Whilst the mainstream press trotted out the "good news" of the reached agreement and underscored that narrative by carrying news of the markets rallying, there were other aspects that were only whispered about or were avoided altogether.

One of those items was the fact that such a bailout is only kicking the can further down the road.  You know it must be bad when even the BBC are letting out little chinks of insight into this being a shortish term fix during their news reporting.  On yesterday's BBC news channel I picked up a frequent use of the phrase "for the time being" when talking about avoiding a default and some financial talking head from the city slipping in the observation of a problem with the fundamentals of this approach despite his attempt at an upbeat narrative.  In other words all we're doing is staving off the inevitable.

The other point and one that is more closely linked to our Dave are some of the viewpoints of what needs to happen in Europe around this financial and economic issue.  Archbishop Cranmer picked up on this with a very telling phrase from the new head of the IMF.  Was it one off error on her part?  Well probably not if we look at some quotes that Calling England picked up from Sarkozy and Merkel.  What we appear to have here is some kind of plan to increase consolidation of the financial and economic practices of EU nations, possibly with the development of an EU Treasury.

In other words this will be an increase in what the EU call (without a sense of irony) Competency.  This should trigger our right to a referendum under that Referendum Lock bill that the faux Conservatives promised after denying us our originally promised referendum of Europe. The bill became law on July 19th as pointed out by Boiling Frog.

For those not who may not recall, this act comes with great promise according to grand words by William Hague in a Sunday Telegraph article at the start of this year, when he wrote:

The EU Bill we are bringing forward will put into the British people's hands a referendum lock on any further changes to the EU's Treaties that hand over powers from Britain to the EU, a lock to which only they will hold the key"


In the great detail necessary to cover the complexity of those Treaties and the various kinds of treaty change the Bill sets out in clear terms when Ministers must put a treaty change to a referendum.
Not only will Parliament now be given a full say over all kinds of treaty change but any treaty change that hands over powers to the EU or extends its control over any area of policy will also be subject to a referendum.
Not only would the removal of the veto over any of 44 separate treaty articles require a referendum, or the substantive use of any of 12 treaty articles, the Bill also lays down strict and comprehensive tests which will capture transfers of power on any change to the Treaties – whether an attempt to increase the EU's powers over an existing area of policy or any reach into a new area of policy.
If any one of these tests are met – it is worth noting that the Lisbon Treaty would have been caught in numerous separate ways – then the law will require a referendum, and if any minister decides to ignore them then, like any other ministerial decision, they will be subject to judicial review in the courts.
So any British citizen will be able to go to court to enforce the electorate's rights and ensure that ministers cannot wriggle out of a referendum.
Some people have argued that the Bill does not go far enough or has loopholes. But the truth is that only in a few minor areas does it give the ministers of the day any discretion at all about the calling of a referendum - and then only if they can persuade parliament and the courts that they are right. When it becomes an Act this will be the strongest defence of national democracy put in place anywhere in Europe. It is a massive advance for national democracy."

At the time I wrote about my suspiscions of such a convoluted process with a summary of my observation at the time as follows:

This is quite a convoluted process and the question for me is why?  There appears to be lots of processes involved to describe how a referendum gets "protected".  I have learned however that if you want to perform a magic trick you dress it up with a lot of distracting side shows and for me this is the old "did you spot the gorilla trick.

According to the Mail article senior Tory sources are suggesting two things.  The first is that Cameron does not believe the proposals require a referendum because they only affect countries in the single currency.  Quite how he draws this conclusion is beyond me, having been drawn into the crisis repeatedly through our current payouts to help Ireland and Greece and with the latest deal seeing the interest rates on Ireland's repayments to us lowered.  Britain will get caught up in any changes and Cameron knows it or if he doesn't maybe he should seek better advice on this one.

The real giveaways on this story are slightly further down in the mail story and are worth examining a little further.  Here are two fascinating paragraphs:

Mr Cameron’s senior allies have revealed that he will use Britain’s right to veto eurozone plans to demand major concessions from Brussels.
He will insist on a smaller EU budget and demand that Britain be allowed to ditch damaging plans to tax the City of London and set aside some health and safety legislation and the working time directive, which dictates office hours.


No 10 sources say Mr Cameron will even threaten to hold a referendum on the eurozone plans in order to  get his way, since European leaders will not want to give British voters the chance to express their views.
But, in a highly controversial stance, one aide has admitted the Government will not hold a referendum.
Senior aides have seen polling which shows they have no chance of winning a Yes vote – even if the Prime Minister says he has got a good deal for Britain.
A senior Government source said: ‘Any referendum with the word Europe in it will lead to a No vote. It’s that simple. You can’t dress it up. We’ll go to Brussels and tell them to give us what we want.

So there we have it laid clear.  Despite this grandiose and elaborate sounding process for locking in the democratic right of the British people, it would seem its worthless.  Pure and simple - you're not getting asked your view on the future of Britain in Europe.  If you're not sure why, read those paragraphs again and then read below for what I see in them.

This last paragraph is the most telling.  They know that any Referendum will lead to a No vote.  Any referendum?  Any referendum at all?  Now, why would what some like to refer to as the most Eurosceptic PM, David Cameron worry about the British people voting no? To me the fact that they won't give you a referendum because it will lead to a No vote tells me something:

The faux Conservatives don't have a single question on Europe that they want you to say No to

That can only mean, the current leadership want us to go down the Europe road.

Then we have the first paragraph.  It would seem what they want is nothing more than a bargaining chip at the table to prevent the EU taxing banks out of the City of London.  It would seem the Referendum option is the ace up his sleeve for the negotiations.

Several things here:

  • This would suggest that Dave views the referendum as his play thing, to give to the people and take away at his choosing.  Doesn't say much for an act of law apparently locking in our right to a referendum does it?
  • Dave doesn't have a great track record of coming out of any political scrap a winner.  The list of times this man has given way in anything even vaguely approaching tough are too numerous too mention.
  • He's already called his own bluff on this one.  As is already acknowledged through this article, he doesn't want any referendum on Europe.  There's no suggestion here that there's a condition on which he would go to the country.  He won't do it and they probably know that.
So despite being very critical of Dave and his faux Conservatives on this one, I do owe them a debt of thanks.  My thanks is for them clearing the air and dropping the charade.  We now know where you stand.  And now you know where I will stand on this matter.

I wonder that when this becomes fully clear to the British people we will see Richard North's Million Angry People idea take off.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

It won't take long

Unfortunately the "Hackingate" scandal has begun to explode in an ugly fashion.  This mixture of entertainment and political manipulation has now resulted in a real victim as the news that the man who is thought to the be the original source of the Andy Coulson aspect has been found dead in his apartment.

There's not much to say here except it is clear that this has gone beyond politically motivated entertainment fodder and into another territory.  Some people are into this story for the purposes of journalism.  Others however are playing a game which involves point scoring for political reasons, shoving their face and their viewpoint on the TV. To them it is a game without consequences.  Well it would seem that no more is it without consequences.It has gone beyond taking scalps, it has taken a life now.  I wonder how long and hard they will think about the direction that and asked if their point scoring remains worth it.

Something else will however start to rise out of this.  I expect that soon will, this story will start to play out the conspiracy angle aspect, questioning the suicide.  Who knows what they will make of it and who will play along with it.  In all probability one of the cornerstones of that angle will come from quotes like this in the Daily Mail:

Last night a friend and neighbour claimed Mr Hoare had become increasingly reclusive and paranoid in recent weeks. ‘He would talk about someone from the Government coming to get him and he was always hiding in the flat with his curtains drawn and he’d say to me, “If anyone comes by, don’t say I’m in”.

Some may also draw something from the news story on the same day about the mystery of the laptop and papers of Rebekah Brooks' husband.  On the face of it it's a non story but I'm sure it won't take long before someone works something into it.

It won't take long.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Don Cameron - we make the peace

I'm a particular fan of the Godfather trilogy of films. I even like the much criticised Godfather 3.  For those who haven't seen the films, there is understandably a common theme of betrayal as elements around and within Michael Corleone look to grow their own power, over that of the Godfather.  The ending is always the same.  The Godfather, seems to wish to "make the peace" with his known betrayers and appears conciliatory towards them.  However in the final scenes of each film the Godfather launches a display of his power with a multiple attacks, wiping out all his enemies.

You may be asking what that has to do with anything.  Well I'm thinking about this as I read the news that James & Rupert Murdoch have done a U turn and have agreed to meet a parliamentary committee over the hacking scandal when they were originally unavailable.  Let me make it clear from the outset that I am not accusing the Murdochs of being mafioso nor suggesting that they are involved in murder. I am simply examining a parallel of a powerful organisation under attack by short sighted power players.

But there is something ticking over in my mind.  Our politicians and aspects of the mainstream media are crowing over the idea that they have somehow brought the Murdoch empire to its knees.  Our politicians have been especially smug (is it possible for them to ever grow any smugger?) and have almost been trampling over each other to get some air time to go public and lay into Murdoch on national TV.  Even Brown pulled himself away from whatever it is he is doing to actually turn up in Parliament as he is paid to do by the taxpayer (although it wasn't to represent his constituents) to lay into Murdoch. 

I'm wondering how permanent a victory this will be for our MP's.  They're quick to jump on a bandwagon but their long term vision isn't up to much.  Murdoch however is a clever man who plays the long game.  They may well see his u turn to attend the committee as a sign of their ascendancy over his.  I wonder if there is something else involved. It all just feels too easy with the decision to attend the committee looking nothing like the suggestion that they were dragged there in chains.

My questions are this. Are we at the point where Murdoch is making the peace whilst he prepares his next move?  Are we in a period where either the Murdoch media empire and the criticised press simply taking note of those MP's who broke cover so that they could start digging around for their dirty laundry with a plan to trip them up with their own hubris?

Will we be facing a run of by elections in the not too distant future?

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Naming the Shameless #2 - Henry Smith

It's good to see other blogs joining in the pointing to Richard North's profiling of the MPs who seem to thing you the taxpayer is good for an extra £9 billion towards the IMF whilst simultaneously telling you of the need to cut back on spending.

The latest entry is one Henry Smith who protested Richard North's inclusion on the list, which only served to bring further scrutiny on his actions that night in which he abstained by registering both a yes and a no vote.  This further scrutiny has led Autonomous Mind to paint a deliciously sarcastic pen portrait.

Whilst I can't speak specifically to Mr Smith's specific motivations for registering this abstention its difficult to look at this and view it as an act in support of the British people.  An abstention is typically the act of a person who wants to vote one way but the party Whips want another outcome and to go against them is to go against the party machine.

This can be painful come election time.  A friend who used to work for a Labour MP explained how the party machine can really cripple your local election chances if you go against them.  Key items such as printing, photocopying and the use of a car can all dry up which are key to spreading your message.  Cross the party and you can certainly forget, the supportive visit from a senior party member who usually gets his or her physog on the TV.

A seemingly sorry tale but one which is the nub of the whole issue with what Richard North is referring to as "Noted by Madame Defarge".  The extra £9 billion is of no benefit to Britain.  We won't see the money again despite the spin of the powers that be.  It's gone and therefore is not a vote in the interests of the people of Britain.  So a vote for it or an abstention when you wanted to vote against it, is effectively spitting in the face of the people of Britain.  So why would you do either.

It only makes sense if your first thought in voting is what doing so will do to your career as an MP.  It is an act of self interest.  A vote such as this is all about preserving your spot at the trough.It demonstrates that the overriding thought is about what is good for you as an MP.  It is an act of the self absorbed, the self preserving and the self obsessed.  It is all about me me me! An act such as this in a vote that damages the people of this nation shows that what is good for us is of no concern to them when the two stand side by side for comparison.  It is an easy decision - you the public will just have to pay the price.

But of course knowing that can work in our favour.  If we know that their key driver is maintaining their place at the trough, we just have to make that work in our favour.  Their behaviour at the moment, hinges on the fact they think we are not watching.  That as constituents, we have little interest in their activities and as such they can do as they like. It is backed up by the fact that when looking at the Westminster bubble they look like a strong group.

But that can change.  Right now, they still have to come back to us for our vote.  They have to come back to their constituencies every so often and suck up to us in exchange for our vote.  They wax lyrical about their values and their "achievements" and talk about being a man or woman of the people giving you the spiel about how what you want counts.  Because we typically have little interest we have no clue as to whether what they say is real or not.  But as I say, that can change.  All it takes is a willingness to take them on a ground where we have the upper hand and they are weakest - in the local constituencies.  All it takes is a group of people to come together to start showing exactly what your local MP claims to be doing with a blog such as this and promoting it locally.  From there, local voting blocs can begin to develop where the people can start to remind their MP exactly who they work for and give them an opportunity to go back to work for the people and not the party machine.

And if they won't the people can go looking for a new candidate.

Naming the Shameless #3 - Adam Afriyie

Good people of the constituency of Windsor, get your self over to EU Referendum.  Richard North can show you someone from your area who owes the British people and you £36million.  You can find Mr Afriyie's email address and contact details there in the event you wish to remind your MP that his place at the trough is courtesy of you. Should you wish to you could also show your friends in Windsor what Mr Afriyie and the others did in the event you wish to contact your local papers and tell others.

Yes I know #2 is missing.  I'm working on that one.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Beating the WGAFA Point

As I pointed out in my earlier post I am following on from Wittering Witney's suggestion that independent bloggers should point to Richard North's profiles of the MP's who voted (scandalously in my opinion) to commit an extra £9.2 billion of taxpayers / borrowed money to the IMF.  There are 274 of them so it may take some time.

As readers of some of my other posts will note, I'm advocating a form of localism in which MP's and local officials are held to account on a battleground where the people have real power - within their constituencies where the MP is outnumbered and the people have the votes.  It is here that there place at the trough can be awarded on our terms and not theirs.  With that in mind I've included the link to the voting record on this one so that readers can start to put their behaviour in the local spotlight.  This is so it can be done before it hits what I have referred to in my last post as the WGAFA point.

Here's the voting - where did your MP stand on the decision with your money?:


The WGAFA Point

One thing that many independent bloggers will be aware is what I refer to as the WGAFA point.  For many it doesn't have such a succinct name but many of us who monitor the mainstream media will recognise it in their own way.

What became known to me as the WGAFA point came about some years ago during my time in higher education.  On my particular course, students were repeatedly tasked with creating presentations to the groups.  Part of that involved lecturers repeatedly asking us to cite our sources as though somehow we were incapable of original thought.  It became something of a pain because these presentations were really of little worth or consequence and looked more like an effort to get the students to fill the lecture with content and absolving lecturers of that responsibility.  After labouring for a number of weeks to identify good sources, we began to notice that lecturers showed no familiarity with any of our sources and that citing your sources was simply a mantra that was trotted out parrot fashion.  We therefore decided to test it out.

Firstly we started making sources up for our presentations and watched as our lecturers nodded sagely demonstrating what a fruitless exercise it had become.  So we decided to push it.  We came up with the mythical reference of Wgafa..  Wgafa didn't exist as it was an acronym "who gives a f*** anyway".  Ultimately we retired the reference but in more recent years I noticed that in the modern news cycle we often see what I now refer to as the WGAFA point - the point at which a story has aged so that people cease to be bothered about what was true and what was false in a news story.  We often see it where in the mad rush to create or reinforce a narrative there is little research of the facts and sources of a story and as a result, half truths and opinion are reported as incontrovertible facts.  In fact the WGAFA point is a useful propaganda tool. By the time the real truth of a story comes out, the correction (such as it is) does not cause a significant change in the publics viewpoint or recollection of the story.

One particular recent example is the story of the first Gaza Flotilla.  During the lifetime of one of my previous blogs, I covered the story about this and the rush of so called impartial organisations such as the BBC, to paint the naval blockade and the boarding of Mavi Marmara as illegal acts under international law.  In addition there was an eagerness to paint the Israeli investigation known as the Turkel Commission as a whitewash, using what was obviously a less robust UN report as the rebuttal for the Turkel Commission.  Where the WGAFA point comes in is that at the time, the UN were preparing to carry out an additional investigation into the events.  That report is now out and has concluded, like the Turkel Commission that the Israeli action was in fact legal.  Of course the correction in the media is virtually non-existent. The story has hit the WGAFA point and therefore the original viewpoint remains the accepted wisdom of the events.

There is now another story being developed that will reach its WGAFA point.  That story being the phone hacking scandal.  Most news outlets have jumped on bandwagon, reporting on the mud slinging at News International and tying the whole mess to the takeover of BSkyB.  In the rush to be ahead of the curve as these media luvvies like to be and the rush for positive headlines by politicians, some real questions about the story are being lost.  In all likelihood there are probably an awful lot of half truths and probably some outright lies being sold as facts in this story as well in its current form.

Autonomous Mind is one of the few who has stood in the eye of the hurricane and asked the pertinent questions and made the relevant observations about the story.  Eventually the furore will die down and some of the truths will come out and maybe some columnists will start to reveal "exclusives".  Unfortunately though, the WGAFA point is likely to have been reached in the minds of the public and no matter how shaky the foundation of the current narrative it will likely remain the accepted wisdom.

And we will be all the poorer for it.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Naming the Shameless #1 - Nigel Adams

Having had something of a bout of fatigue at what passes for the everyday decline of this nation, blogging has been a little light (or barren).  Unable to bring myself to comment on the News International scandal (in which the real story is being hidden but able exposed by Autonomous Mind), I've been looking to do something relevant regarding the real scandal that is that 274 of our illustrious MP's used the News International obsession as a distraction whilst they voted to contribute an extra £9.2 billion (88% increase) to the IMF.

The good news is that I got beaten to a good idea by good people whose blogs get more traction than me.  Wittering Witney in his post suggested that we act on this story by pointing to Richard North's EU Referendum blog.  The blog will be listing a profile of each of the 274 MP's who voted in this scandalous bonfire of borrowed money that you the taxpayer will end up footing the bill for. 

If you blog - turn on the lights and show the people what they did with our money

First up is Nigel Adams.