Wednesday, 24 February 2010

What it really means

At today's launch of UKIP's climate change policies by Lord Monckton - video should be up on the UKIP site tomorrow and there will be a more detailed blog posting - Lord Pearson explained that when he said that climate change was "crap", as quoted inter alia by Michael White in the Guardian yesterday, he did not merely express a lavatorial opinion.

It is, he explained, an American acronym: Carbon Really Ain't Pollution. Easy when you know it. Though, of course, a lot of it is c**p as well.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Questions will be asked

Looking ahead at the House of Lords Future Business [you really do have to scroll down], it is worth noting that there will be two Starred Questions (or as they are called nowadays officially but by nobody real, Oral Questions) by UKIP peers.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch will be asking HMG on March 15:
whether Article 122.2 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union can be used to require them to provide financial assistance to another member state which is “threatened with severe difficulties caused by exceptional circumstances beyond its control.”
This will be particularly apposite as ECOFIN is due to meet on the following day, March 16, to make a decision about Greece. As special punishment, Greece will not be allowed to vote at the meeting. Whether the discussions do go to the vote is, of course, a moot point and one we might never know the answer to.

In the House of Lords, though, on March 16, Lord Willoughby de Broke will be asking HMG:
how they will replace the energy capacity of the nine oil and coal-fired power stations which are due to close in 2015 under the European Union Large Combustion Plant Directive.
The answer should be very instructive.

Monday, 22 February 2010

Just a few points

One question that has cropped up on the blog comments is about the UKIP election campaign. When is it going to start, was one relatively friendly inquiry. There were additional comments, which implied that UKIP will not be able to get its election campaign started till the day after the election.

Of course, if that had been true we would not have come second in the European Elections but let that pass.

The UKIP campaign will be launched on March 19 at the conference in Milton Keynes. More information will be sent out and posted on the UKIP website as time goes on. It is to be hoped that members will make an effort to attend precisely because this will see the start of the election campaign.

In the meantime, it is worth remembering that an important reason why the Conservative Party gets bogged down in personal attacks on the Prime Minister (not a very likeable chap but the Tories manage to pull public sympathy round in his favour) is because they cannot quite put together a set of credible policies. Above all, they cannot quite work out what they want to do on the European issue.

The news from Bruno Waterfield in the Daily Telegraph that the arch-europhile Shadow Business Secretary Kenneth Clarke is off to Brussels to "reassure" Commission President Barroso that the Conservatives, should they win the election will play nicely with all the other member states does not indicate a robust attitude. It is not clear what it is Mr Clarke needs to reassure Mr Barroso about. It is not as if we were negotiating with the EU - we are part of it and we must accept its diktats. Every Minister has admitted it and the Conservatives will do the same.

Let us not forget that David Cameron's personal popularity started plummeting around last November. Iain McWhirter comments on this in the Herald
David Cameron’s popularity vis a vis Gordon Brown has halved in six months, even as Prime Minister’s character has darkened. The Tories themselves are baffled by this, and I don’t quite understand it myself. Cameron was a fresh face, a new kind of liberal Tory who seemed prepared to replace the “nasty party” image with new kind of environmental conservatism.
It is entirely possible that people do not like the new kind of liberal Tory or environmental conservatism, particularly with all the scandals around the climate change hysteria.

Of course, the media does not see it: it was about six months ago that David Cameron reneged on his "cast-iron guarantee" to give the people of Britain a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. The people of this country have not forgotten or forgiven him.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

We need to pay attention

Gordon Brown's speech at Warwick University this morning and his uninspiring, unoriginal and unpronouncable slogan, A Future Fair For All, has signalled the official start of the Labour election campaign.

Despite the hysterical expectations by Conservative politicians, journalists, analysts and some activists, he did not announce the date of the General Election, leaving us all to assume that it will be on May 6, the sensible time to have it, as there are local elections on that day as well. The whole idea that the Prime Minister should announce that he is dissolving Parliament to a conference and the media before he has done so in the Commons or has been to see Her Majesty the Queen is preposterous in any case, but one cannot argue with hysterical people.

Meanwhile, Conservative Home, the favoured site of Conservative Party members and activists, has cited another couple of polls that show a smaller gap between Labour and Conservatives. In other words, the election that should have been so easy for the Conservatives to win is becoming far more interesting.

Why, in such circumstances, should Conservatives want an early election is hard to grasp.

It is still possible, theoretically at least, that Gordon Brown will dissolve Parliament this coming week and call an election for March 25 but it seems unlikely.

Whichever way that will go, it is clear that small parties, especially UKIP, which is now being taken far more seriously by many parts of the media and a number of experts, can do well enough to make it clear that the electorate is not happy with the main parties. That unhappiness goes well beyond anger over the expenses' scandal - it is the result of a slow realization that the politics of this country has been taken out of its people's hands; that it does not matter who wins the election, the real government will remain in Brussels, where legislation goes on regardless of electoral results; that most of the promises politicians are making they cannot fulfil as they do not have the power to do so.

These are all points UKIP will have to push as hard as possible in the coming election campaign. No Prime Minister can make life fair; most of us were taught in childhood that life was not fair. What is more important is to make sure people realize that, as things are, no Prime Minister can be a Prime Minister in Britain and no Parliament can legislate in Britain. The most our Parliament can do is act as another lobbying group in Brussels, hoping that the Commission and COREPER (Committee of Permanent Representatives) pay attention to their arguments.

Friday, 19 February 2010

Fish and fishing discards

The problem of fishing discards has existed if not since the Common Fisheries Policy was set up (just a few hours before negotiations began with the UK, Ireland and Denmark, the countries with the richest fishing reserves, in 1970) then at least since Spain and Portugal joined when various derogations and quotas were negotiated.

Despite Lord Davies's recent dishonest response to the Lady Mar in the House of Lords, those discards are not the result of market forces but of EU quotas.

Nor was his estimate of discards particularly accurate. Back in January 2008 Lord Pearson or Rannoch asked this Starred Question:
How many tonnes of dead fish are thrown back into the sea each year under the European Union’s common fisheries policy; and what prospect they see of ending this practice.
HMG in the person of Lord Davies of Oldham preferred to clear its throat instead of giving an answer that they know would shock most people.
My Lords, no estimates exist for the overall amount of discards in European Union fisheries. However, there is a general recognition that this problem needs to be accurately addressed. We are working with the fishing industry, as well as with the Commission and other member states, to find appropriate solutions that affect the particular circumstances of individual fisheries.
We all know how successful that working with other member states and the Commission has been for the last thirty-odd years. However, it is not entirely true to say that there are no estimates for discards as Lord Pearson pointed out in his follow-up comment:
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for that reply. Let us hope that this proposed reform, like others before it, does not end up in the long seaweed.

When the Minister says that there are no official estimates, is he aware that Fisheries Commissioner Borg has estimated that 880,000 tonnes of fish are thrown back dead every year? If the Government accept that an articulated lorry holds 42 tonnes of fish, do they agree that the EU’s dead fish amount to 20,000 articulated lorries, which would fill the Palace of Westminster, and Whitehall, several times over? Will the noble Lord tell us precisely who has been blocking reform of this policy for so many years, and how?
That reform that is not wanted by other countries whose fish is not being destroyed, is still being blocked. As we know from that more recent debate (discussed here) only countries who run their own fishing industry can create sensible policies. But it is nice to think of all those articulated lorries discarding dead fish around Whitehall.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

The French are not being communautaire

This will not surprise anyone: no matter how many pronouncements are made about being communautaire (loyal to the concept of European integration), no matter how many agreements are signed about common immigration and asylum policies, there will always be countries that will think of their own interests first. Not that UKIP objects to that but certain problems arise when those interests mean that Britain is hard done by.

Over and above that there is the question of the European Court of Human Rights (not an EU institution but the court of the Council of Europe) whose aim appears to be to undermine any notion of democratic accountability and the rule of law.

All this is illustrated by the story in today's Daily Express about the illegal migrants' camp that had been closed down by the French authorities only to be reopened by certain French charities (who clearly do not believe that charity begins at home) as a kind of VIP departure lounge for people who think they might quite like to live in Britain but fear that they would not be allowed in legitimately.
French charities have helped to create a virtual “departure lounge” for illegal immigrants heading across the Channel, offering them rest and recreation before they complete the final leg of their journeys.

Our investigators gained access to the illegal “Sangatte II” centre and exclusive photographs show it bears a closer resemblance to a holiday camp than a shelter for the homeless.
One observer said: “They are being treated like VIPs.”

The converted warehouse, just a short walk from the town’s port, offers migrants a range of amenities, from relaxation rooms with a piano, a cinema and sports hall for indoor games like table tennis and football to even a makeshift disco for dancing.

The centre – which bears a huge “Welcome To All” banner – was officially closed down 12 days ago by riot police after Calais authorities deemed it unfit for public use.

And last night the CRS riot squads returned – forcing the migrants and activists out using batons and shields. But it is expected they will just move back in.

The charities SOS and the No Borders Network got round prohibition by opening it as a private space for members, declaring: “All migrants and activists inside the hangar have official membership.”

The organisers have also painted the text from Article 1 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights on a sign warning that any attempt to close it down could face a challenge in the courts.

Politicians and campaigners were furious at the latest failure by the French to tackle the problem of illegal migrants using Calais as a jumping off point for Britain.
There is, apparently, no question of the organizers offering their own homes to these migrants and activists.

Express journalists asked for comments and UKIP was the first organization they turned to:
Lord Pearson, UKIP leader, said: “This is a classic case of European Human Rights legislation being used in a way that goes contrary to common sense justice.

“No migrant moves to Calais for the beaches, they are there purely and simply to enter the UK, in most cases illegally. The half-cock approach of the French authorities will merely result in ever-increasing numbers of people suffering awful conditions, and these charities, while attempting to make things better for some, merely encourage more problems for many.”
They also interviewed some of the migrants, few of whom did themselves any good by announcing that they obviously had a perfect right to move to England but needed various things before they can manage to do so.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

We remain in the dark about the European Public Prosecutor

Some time ago Marta Andreasen, UKIP MEP and a woman who knows a great deal about the shadier workings of the European Union, wrote an Open Letter to David Cameron.

Explaining that when she asked Commissioner-Designate Algirdas Šemeta about plans to create a European Public Prosecutor as agreed in the Lisbon Treaty, she was told that this was being discussed, Ms Andreasen makes matters clear:
His response was that "we should move forward". He further confirmed that it is also being discussed by other members of the European Commission. This means that such a plan is already Commission policy and that it will be implemented regardless of who is confirmed in due course as Taxation and Anti-Fraud Commissioner. This reply, and the implications thereof, and the absence of any firm denial leave no doubt that European Commission and the Budgetary Control Commissioner intend to bring forward such a plan in the very near future and that planning is already well advanced.

As you know, Article 86 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), provides for the possible establishment of the Office of European Public Prosecutor from EUROJUST. For such a proposal to become law, however, there must be unanimity in the Council: in other words, the United Kingdom retains a veto on the creation of an EPP. This requirement puts the United Kingdom in a very strong position to prevent the creation of such a post when it is presented to the Council.
So the plan is there, the intention is there but Britain does have the right of veto. Will Britain use it? Marta Andreasen addresses the possible (nay, probable) next Prime Minister of the United Kingdom:
I write, therefore, to ask you if you will undertake now that the Conservative Party will include in its forthcoming manifesto for the 2010 General Election an unambiguous pledge to veto any proposal to establish a European Public Prosecutor's Office if you become Prime Minister at the forthcoming general election, whether as the head of a government with a majority in Parliament or as head of a minority coalition government?
So far we have heard nothing from the Conservative Party on the subject, possibly because Ms Andreasen wisely stopped all the holes; one never knows about cast-iron guarantees, after all.

Philip Johnston wrote on the subject in the Daily Telegraph on February 1. He reported Algirdas Šemeta’s comment but not Marta Andreasen’s role in eliciting it. Well, she is a UKIP MEP, after all.

However, Mr Johnston has sounded the alarm and has repeated Ms Andreasen’s suggestion that the Tories should give an unequivocal guarantee that they will veto all suggestions of such an office being created.
The [Lisbon] treaty gives the power for the creation of a European Public Prosecutor along the lines outlined in Corpus Juris. The EPP's office, backed up by Eurojust, a body that is supposed to help co-ordinate cross-border crime investigations, would be responsible for "investigating, prosecuting and bringing to judgment, in liaison with Europol, the perpetrators of, and accomplices in, offences against the Union's financial interests". The Treaty provides for its remit to be extended to cover "serious crime having a cross-border dimension".

In the European Parliament earlier this month, Algirdas Semeta, the new EU tax commissioner, said that since the Treaty provided for the role then they might as well go ahead with it. His problem, and it is a big one, is this: it is one of the dwindling number of areas that requires a unanimous decision by the EU before it can proceed. In other words, we have a veto.

Here, then, is a great opportunity for an incoming Conservative government to take a stand on Europe that does not require a referendum, does not put at risk Britain's membership, does not re-open old Tory Euro-wounds and cannot be denounced as anti-European because the rules of the club allow for it to be taken.

My understanding is that the Tories do intend to veto the EPP – though why they have not made a bigger song and dance about it beats me. It is inconceivable, surely, that presented with an opportunity to block such an extension of EU powers the party would not take it. But since the polls suggest the Tories are by no means certain to win the election outright, there has to be a pledge from Labour and the Lib Dems that they will veto the EPP idea as well.
Meanwhile, Lord Stoddart of Swindon, formerly Labour, now Independent peer asked HMG “whether they will support any proposal for the establishment of a European Public Prosecutor”.
HMG’s response was not entirely unequivocal:
No. The Government have consistently opposed the creation of a European Public Prosecutor (EPP).
Yes, but will they veto the proposal when it comes up? And will the Conservatives?

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Argument about the burqua ban

UKIP's policy on the burqua - a ban on it in public places - is clearly controversial but also popular with the majority of the public. The burqua, let us be clear, is a complete covering of a woman and it includes a veil, with or without a gap for the eyes. We are not, therefore, talking about a headscarf or a long cape.

It is worth considering one argument against the ban and that is the potential imprisonment of Muslim women in their homes, if their men will not allow them out on the street without a niquab (a veil). Were that to happen it would prove our argumen; the immediate greater discomfort for the women would then make it easier for us to fight for their real freedom. But the arguments that speak of free choice or describe the burqua as just an item of clothing do not show any understanding of the problem.

Dominic Lawson published an article in the Sunday Times on January 24, entitled Banning the burqa is simply not British. Unfortunately, he showed no understanding of what the burqa really was, what it signified and cheerfully admitted that he saw few women wearing them where he lived though that did not stop him from lecturing those who lived in different areas. He knew better on that and other subjects, such as how much freedom a woman in a Muslim family even in Britain had to choose whether she veiled herself or not.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch replied the following week with a letter:
DOMINIC LAWSON says that “banning the burqa is simply not British” and would betray our principles of freedom and liberty (Comment, last week). The burqa is a symbol of Islam, which, in its worldwide quest to replace our Judaeo-Christian culture, is the source of nearly all modern terrorism. It has no separation of powers, being a political, legal and religious system rolled into one; the penalty for leaving it, or for insulting it, is death. All of it is based on the Koran, and is encapsulated in sharia, a medieval legal system of flagrant gender apartheid.

Men are superior to women because “Allah has chosen them one above the other”, so a woman’s testimony in court is worth half a man’s (Sura: 2:282). Only men can give evidence in rape and adultery cases, which also carry the death penalty. Sura 4.34 says that if a man fears his wife is being disloyal, he should beat her, and Suras 2:229 and 230 allow men to divorce their wives without reason. Hardly very British.

And yes, Mr Lawson, all this is happening in a town near you, and it won’t be long before it invades the appeasing comfort in which our political class lives. For years it castigated as racist anyone who dared to warn about uncontrolled immigration. Now it is sowing another wind by refusing to face up to the reality of Islam.

At least the article was an admirable contribution to the debate we so urgently need to have, especially with the vast majority of mild, non-burqa- wearing Muslims who are our friends, and I thank you for that.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch
Leader, UKIP
That an open debate is essential becomes clearer by the day.

Monday, 15 February 2010

A curious intervention

Oscar Wilde once said that there was only one thing worse than being talked about and that is not being talked about. Certainly this could apply to parliamentary exchanges. Surely, any noble Lord that is not there but is mentioned during an exchange and positively at that, ought to be pleased.

This happened on February 9, during the short debate occasioned by Baroness Rendell's Starred Question (yes, she is Ruth Rendell, the prolific thriller writer). Baroness Rendell was asking whether HMG had any plans of introducing some socialist system of sending "poor people" on holiday at the taxpayers' expense. In the course of the discussion afterwards Lord Brooke of Sutton Mandeville asked, one assumes with his tongue firmly in his cheek:
My Lords, is the Minister aware, in the unexpected absence of the noble Lord, Lord Pearson of Rannoch, that the European Parliament is considering amending the scheme under which almost 100 of their highest paid officials have their children taken on holiday at half price, so that it goes to low-paid officials instead
Naturally, we are all very pleased at this sign of benevolence on the part of the EU's institutions who are using our money for such charitable purposes. The Minister, Lord Davies of Oldham, was not entirely amused:
My Lords, I never thought that the House would miss the noble Lord, Lord Pearson of Rannoch. The noble Lord has stepped into the breach. We can all draw some satisfaction from the point that he makes, but I am talking here about a benign concept of holidays for the less well off and the disabled, rather than holidays for those who may be regarded as somewhat overprivileged.
Still, he rallied admirably and even showed appreciation of Lord Pearson's role in the House.

Constitutional Reform

On Friday, February 5, the House of Lords debated Lord Willoughby de Broke's Constitutional Reform Bill. At the Second Reading (when the House traditionally does not divide), the Bill was committed to the Committee of the Whole House. No date has been set yet.

Lord Pearson's speech was in support of the Bill's "two most radical proposals are that the United Kingdom should leave the European Union and that the British people should be granted the power to hold binding referendums at national and local level".
The people have not yet understood that process, by which most of their national law is now made in Brussels and imposed on them here. Their political class, which includes the BBC of course, has done a brilliant job by simply refusing to reveal how the EU's legislative process makes our law. I have said it before in your Lordships' House, and I will go on saying it until the frightening truth reaches our people. EU laws are proposed in secret by the unelected bureaucracy, the European Commission. Those laws are then negotiated, still in secret, in a shadowy body called COREPER, the Committee of Permanent Representatives, consisting of bureaucrats from the nation states. They then go to the Council of Ministers from the nation states, where the UK has some 8 per cent of the votes, and to the European Parliament for final decision. The European Parliament, to which we elect MEPs, cannot propose EU legislation; it can only delay it. Of course, it does not do much of that because it does not want to derail its famous gravy train. Again, all our UK MEPs put together have only some 8 per cent of the votes in a process that now makes most of our law. So the European Parliament is a democratic sham, and was designed to be so by the founders of the project of European integration.

It is safe to say yet again that our membership of the European Union has removed our democracy; it has taken away the right of the British people to elect and dismiss those who make their laws. Our system of representative parliamentary democracy, for which millions have died over hundreds of years, has been frittered away. It no longer serves the people. That is why the time has come to give power back to the people. They deserve it anyway; it is their power and it belongs to them. Before long their anger will overflow if they do not get it back.
There is more in the speech along those lines.

There were other interventions, particularly when the Minister, Lord Tunnicliffe, said in his response:
First, and perhaps least surprisingly given the noble Lord's membership of the United Kingdom Independence Party, Clause 1 would withdraw the United Kingdom from the European Union. The Government believe that our membership of the European Union has brought real benefits to the United Kingdom through jobs, peace and security. Through our membership, we belong to the world's biggest trading bloc. Over half of the United Kingdom's trade is within the EU, with an estimated 3.5 million British jobs linked to it. Our membership allows us to live, work and travel across Europe.
These appear to be the best arguments the europhiliacs can produce and every single one of them can be destroyed with very little effort. Lord Pearson asked:
I wonder if the noble Lord could explain how leaving the political construct of the European Union and continuing in free trade with our friends in Europe would have any effect on jobs whatsoever.
Lord Tunnicliffe seemed unable to respond:
My Lords, I do not think that it would be sensible to stray into an answer that would last for several hours. The realities of living within the European Union and the value it brings to the citizens of this country are self-evident to most of us, as are the mechanisms.
It seems likely that what is self-evident to the political classes will no longer appear to be so to the people who cast those votes.

First Post

A great deal of modern politics is on the internet and the blogosphere. This development started in the United States, where blogs are an overwhelmingly important part of the political scene, regularly scooping main-stream media outlets and organizing the growing Tea-Party Movement. Though we have not reached that stage in Britain, it has become impossible to run a political campaign or to have a political existence without blogs or websites.

This is the blogsite of Lord Pearson of Rannoch, Leader of UKIP and working peer in the House of Lords; it will be following his activities in those and other areas of political life. As we approach the election campaign, postings on this blog will, naturally, become more frequent and more concerned with matters that pertain to it. Until then there will be postings about the House of Lords, the planned visit of Geert Wilders and other issues as they arise.

Comments are open to all on the blog and will not be monitored at first. However, readers are encouraged not to post too many Anonymous comments. Invent a name if you would rather not give your own; even invented names create responsibility and make discussion easier.

There will be certain rules about comments. Debates and discussions, however heated, will be encouraged; personal attacks and name-calling, on the other hand, will not be allowed. They will be removed ruthlessly and repeat offenders will be banned. The same applies to open racism and any number of phobias: it is discussion we want not streams of abuse. Naturally enough, libel cannot be permitted. The law on the question of libel on blogs is not very clear and it would be preferable for this blog not to be the test case.

So, with those provisos, please read, comment, disseminate.