Saturday, July 16, 2011

2008 archive (Nov - Dec)

Israel's War Crimes
No. of Israelis killed by rocket attacks from Gaza in the current conflict = 1
No. of Israelis killed by rocket attacks from Gaza since June 2008 = 1
No. of Israelis killed by rocket attacks from Gaza since 2001 = 16
No. of Israelis killed by rocket5 attacks from Gaza in the last ten years = 20
No. of Palestinians killed by Israel in the current conflict = 280
It is time for the West to get off the fence and charge Israel with War Crimes.   This is a disgrace.
Conservative Economic Narrative
The Conservative Party narrative on the economy is shot to pieces.   Yet George Osborne still goes on about "Labour did not fix the roof while the sun was shining".   How different would it have been if the Conservatives had been in power?    They were committed to the same spending as Labour.   They were committed to maintaining the same tax take as Labour.   That means they were committed to the same borrowing as labour, so just where would the money have come from to fix the roof?   I think we should be told, or stop using this ridiculous slogan.
Strictly Come Dancing
There have been continuous rows about the voting for Strictly Come Dancing.   Why?   Because it operates an electoral college system whereby the judges are one part of the college and the people are the other part.   Whenever an electoral college is used democracy is distorted.   Just look at the Conservative Party, the Labour Party and U.S.Senate elections, which all operate electoral colleges for their elections.    See what I mean?
Government Corruption
Did you know?   Of the 123 hospitals being built, 83 are in areas represented by the Labour Party.   Of the 23 railway stations being closed, 20 of them are in Opposition constituencies.    Twice as much money from lottery funding goes to the constituencies of the Cabinet as goes to the constituencies of the Shadow Cabinet.   Of the 105 hospitals threatened with closure only 18 are in Labour held constituencies.    Systematic corruption is the hallmark of this government.
Taking Liberties
The British Library is holding an exhibition on the struggle for Britain's freedoms and rights.   It will last until March 1st.   It is well worth a visit.   For further information visit

Party Conference
The following letter has been emailed to Party members.   To those of you that went to the conference do respond.    To those that did not go also respond giving the reasons you did not go.    Do not be afraid to say that it had become too expensive.
Dear Colleague,
The Conservative Party is committed to improving the Party's Autumn conference and the experience of attendees and supporters.
To help us we would like to ask you to complete a brief questionnaire so that we can understand the strengths of our most recent conference in Birmingham, and where we can improve.
We appreciate this is a busy time of year, but your feedback really would be appreciated and the results will influence next year's Party conference in Manchester.
The deadline for submissions is 30th January 2009, and the survey can be found at:
Thank you and we look forward to hearing from you.
Yours ever,
Caroline Spellman
European Democracy
By Daniel Hannan MEP
This is becoming like the closing scenes of Terminator. However many times you kill the European Constitution, it keeps lurching to its feet again. Blam! Fifty-five per cent of French voters say “Non”. Zap! Sixty-two per cent of Dutch voters say “Nee”. But the automaton keeps advancing, its flesh burned away, its charred metal skeleton stamped with the words “Lisbon Treaty”. Then – pow! – 53 per cent of Irish voters vote “No”. The machine is briefly swallowed by orange flames. But, after a short lull, the red lights go on in its skull and, once again, it starts clawing its way forward.
Shortly before Ireland voted, the president of the European Commission, José Manuel Durrão Barroso, warned electors that there was no Plan B. Irish commentators innocently took this to mean that, if the treaty was rejected, it would be dropped. What Barroso in fact meant, as is now clear, is that Plan A would be resubmitted over and over again.
This is how EU leaders invariably behave after a “No” vote. They machine-gun out a couple of platitudes about listening to the people, then carry on regardless. For them, public opinion is an obstacle to tear aside, not a reason to change direction.
Their desire for a second Irish referendum next autumn isn’t really to do with voting weights or numbers of commissioners or extensions of majority voting. Many of the provisions of the Lisbon Treaty can be – indeed, have been – implemented in anticipation of formal ratification. For example, the European elections on June 4 will be fought on the basis of the number of MEPs that would have been authorised by Lisbon, not the ones provided for by the current treaties".
This is a disgrace.   Democracy destroyed.   It is time for the people to have their say.
Our liberty is under threat - do join in to defend it.

Convention for Modern Liberty - tickets now on sale

The Convention for Modern Liberty.  This spring the Convention will be hosting a series of events in  across the UK.
There will be be a one day gathering of 1,000 people on Saturday 28 February 2009 at the Institute for Education in central London alongside parallel regional and national meetings across the UK.
Over 80 speakers have already confirmed, including:
Philip Pullman, Helena Kennedy QC, Nick Clegg MP, David Davis MP, Henry Porter, Shami Chakrabarti, Dominic Grieve MP QC, Prof Quentin Skinner, Lord Bingham, Sunny Hundal, Lord Goldsmith, Simon Jenkins, Anthony Barnett, Chris Huhne MP, Caroline Lucas MEP, Moazzam Begg, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, Prof David Marquand, Nick Cohen, Christopher Meyer and many many more.
A draft programme can be found on the Convention website.
Tickets for the London event are now on sale.  Details about the regional and national meetings will be available in the new year.
My Week
Wednesday December 18th
Bow Group debate on Is Class Back? Guest speakers - James Dellingpole of the Spectator, Dolan Cummings of The Institute of Ideas and Peter Whittle of the New Culture Forum.   A general consensus that there is now a political class and a celebrity class.    Aristocracy has gone but we have the super rich and a underclass.    Social mobility has diminished.   The future is bleak but education is the key to creating meritocracy.   Interesting.

Party Membership
For each Party member their local Constituency Association has to pay £5 to Central Office.   In these difficult economic times some Constituencies are having difficulty in raising money and are finding that they need the £5 per member to keep going.   What is the position if a Constituency does not pay the money?   Do its members lose their vote in any elections conducted by the party centrally?   What action can Central Office take to force a Constituency to pay up?   I think we should be told.    We need clarification on all this.
The Power of the Whips
The Whips have told all Labour MPs that if they vote against the Government they will not be eligible to sit on a Select Committee for a year.   Isn't this a contempt of Parliament?   What bullies these people are, and they say that Parliament hasn't broken down!
Climate Change
If you want to see some common sense on this subject visit the excellent web site run by Councillor Derek Tipp (Vice-Chairman of COPOV) at
My Week
Tuesday 9th December
Hansard Society - "When Gordon Took The Helm".   This was a meeting of the academic political establishment.    I put forward the view that Parliament had broken down (see David Starkey last week).   The academics did not agree.   Professor Philip Cowley of Nottingham University even suggested that if I were a student of his I would be expelled for even suggesting such a thing.   Who would want to be a student of him if he displays such arrogance when lecturing?
Thursday 11th December
Constitution Unit - Parliament and Constitutional Watchdogs.   Very interesting meeting.   Our Constitutional Watch dogs need teeth.   Parliament is trying to control them and make them toothless.   Do we need some overall guidelines for the basis on which they work?   This is a big question.   Is it possible when we do not have a constitution?
Visited the "Taking Liberties" exhibition at the British Library.   This is an excellent exhibition and well worthwhile to see the struggles we have had to get our fundamental freedoms.    The exhibition could have been better laid out with a clear route.    It was sometimes confusing.   Many famous documents are shown including one of the only four copies of Magna Carta.    The 1832 Great Reform Act is there.   Sadly because of the age and value of some of these documents the lights were low so sometimes the descriptions were difficult to read.    Also it would have been helpful to have a translation.   Magna Carta is in medieval Latin.
Bow Group Christmas Reception in the evening at the Carlton Club.   Very enjoyable.

***Star of the Week*** - David Starkey for a brilliant analysis of our democracy on the This Weekprogramme.   He pointed out that Parliament is broken.   There is a majority of Parliamentarians who have a greater loyalty to the Government than to the Institution of Parliament itself.    Effectively Parliament has become part of an electoral college whose only function is the election of the Prime Minister.   If Parliament is to revert to its real role of holding the Government to account, we will have to have a directly elected Prime Minister and to break the power of the Whips.   The Government has become an effective dictatorship.   The Prime Minister is answerable to nobody.    Let us make him answerable to the people.
My Week
Saturday 6th DecemberCOPOV Forum.   Mathew Sinclair, Research Director of The Taxpayers Alliance answered questions after his excellent speech.   The Conservative Party can learn a great deal from The Taxpayers Alliance.   They are one of the fastest growing pressure groups.   The audience had lots of questions.
Mandelson.JPG (728456 bytes)Wednesday 3rd DecemberPeter Mandelson giving the Hugo Young lecture onGlobalisation and the Crunch : What lessons for politics in Europe, chaired by Peter Preston of The Guardian.
Mandelson is clever, dangerous and snide.   He didn't say much but what he did say justifies the description.
Thursday 4th DecemberCOPOV Management meeting.   Planning for next year.   Any articles for the web site would be most welcome.
Friday 5th December.
Lovely evening at the BCCA Victory Club party.
Ulster Unionists This week David Cameron will address a conference of the Ulster Unionists.   One of the issues still to be resolved is what name candidates will fight an election on.   The Memorandum of Understanding states:
The Joint Committee shall be responsible for the legal registration and accounting of the entity, and for coordinating the identification of candidates for the General Election always ensuring that the rules and constitutions of the two Parties are respected and that the local members of both parties are closely involved in this work.
The Memorandum doesn't say how the local members will be closely involved but presumably they will have a vote on the candidates chosen.   More difficult will be deciding what name the candidates will fight under.   Will the name be registered under the Conservative and Unionist Party banner or not?   If not will the Electoral Commission determine that they are fighting the election as a seperate political Party?   If so any assistance to them would be contrary to the Conservative Party Constitution.
The successful candidates will take the Conservative Party Whip in the House of Commons, but not until the next Parliament.    Neatly sidestepping the possible problem of Lady Hermon in this Parliament.
There is still a long way to go to finalise everything.
Liberty Destroyed
This week we witnessed one of the most serious assaults on our liberty, when Damian Green MP was arrested.    Dominic Grieve MP sets out the questions which need an answer:

"Is it not a breach of Parliamentary Privilege for the police to arrest a Member of Parliament for using information he received for Parliamentary purposes?"

The Leak Inquiry
1.     Who initiated the original Home Office leak inquiry?
2.     Did Ministers approve it?
3.     When was it initiated?
4.     Who ran the inquiry and who had knowledge of it?
5.     Were any Ministers briefed about the inquiry, how were they briefed, when and by whom?
6.     What did the Prime Minister know and when? Did he call for a leak investigation by the police in the first place?
The Referral to the Cabinet Office
7.     Who made the decision to refer the inquiry to the Cabinet Office?
8.     When was the decision made to refer the matter to the Cabinet Office?
9.     Were any special advisers or Ministers aware of the decision to refer the inquiry to the Cabinet Office?
Referral to the Police
10.     When did the Home Office (or Cabinet Office) refer its evidence of leaks involving potentially criminal conduct to the Metropolitan Police?  What were Ministers told about the referral? Did Ministers ask to be kept informed of developments?
11.     Who made the decision to refer the matter to the police?
12.     When did they make that decision?
13.     Were any special advisers aware of the decision to refer the matter to the police?
Arrest of Civil Servant
14.     At 5.50am on 11 November, a Home Office official was arrested in the early hours of the morning by counter-terrorism police in connection with leaks. Were Ministers aware that counter-terrorism officers had been dispatched?
15.     Were any civil servants, special advisers or Ministers briefed about the arrest of a Home Office civil servant in connection with the inquiry?
16.     Did the arrest of the civil servant also involve SO15 or other counter terrorism officers?
17.     What contact was there between the police and any Minister, adviser or civil servant regarding the progress of the inquiry between the civil servant’s arrest and Damian Green’s arrest?
Arrest of Damian Green
18.     It is reported that Mr Green’s name was provided to the police on 11 November. Between the arrest of the official on 11 November and the arrest of Mr Green on 27 November, what further update did Home Office officials receive on the course of the subsequent police investigation? What was communicated to Ministers, and when?
19.     When did Home Office officials know that the police were investigating a Member of Parliament? Who was the most senior official informed? When were Ministers informed? If they were not informed, why not?
20.     Was any special adviser, press officer or Minister aware that a politician was being investigated? If so, when did they become aware?
21.     The guidance on the offence of misconduct in public office states: “A charge of misconduct in public office should be reserved for cases of serious misconduct or deliberate failure to perform a duty which is likely to injure the public interest”. In what respect was it suspected that Damian Green might have done this?
22.     Who in the police approved the decision to inform the Mayor about the proposed arrest of Damian Green?
23.     Who in the police decided not to inform any Government Minister about the proposed arrest of Damian Green?
24.     Why was it decided to inform the Mayor but no Minister?
25.     Was any adviser or civil servant made aware of the proposed arrest of a politician?
26.     Why were counter terrorist officers involved in the arrest? Why were 9 involved?
27.     Which Government advisers and press officers were briefed about the arrest and when? When did they first discuss the matter with the press?
28.     Was the Immigration Minister briefed regarding the inquiry in advance of his interview on the Today programme and if so what was he told and by whom?
29.     If Ministers had no knowledge of the inquiry, why did Immigration Minister Phil Woolas say on the Today programme that “this is not…from the information I have, the knowledge of the arrest that has been made, not as straightforward as your question implies”?
30.     What steps did the Prime Minister take to clarify that no Minister had been involved?
31.     Is it conceivable that the Home Secretary and Prime Minister remained oblivious to the investigation and arrest of a Member of Parliament between 11 and 27 November?
Search of Damian Green’s Offices
32.     Who was the most senior police officer who took the decision to authorise the arrest of Mr Green, and the search of his two residential addresses, constituency office and office in the House of Commons? Was the Commissioner aware, and did he authorise the decision? Why were counter-terrorism police dispatched to the House of Commons? Why did police not seek to interview Mr Green on a voluntary basis? Why did they wait until 28 November, the first day when the House of Commons was not sitting, Members were not present and no objection could be made to the Speaker? Why did they wait until the last day in office of Sir Ian Blair as Commissioner? Were the CPS consulted, was the DPP aware of these decisions and what authorisation did he give?
33.     When did officials or Ministers know that Mr Green’s office in the House of Commons would be searched?
34.     When the decision was made to arrest Mr Green and forcibly search his House of Commons office:
a.     Did the Speaker authorise this operation?
b.     If not, who did and on the basis of what evidence?
c.     Was a search warrant obtained for Damian Green’s office in the House of Commons?
d.     Who was the most senior ranking police officer who authorised the decision?
e.     Who was the most senior official in the Home Office who was aware?
f.     When did the Home Secretary and other Ministers know?
g.     When did the Prime Minister know?
h.     If the Mayor was informed in advance of the police operation, why weren’t Ministers also informed, given that the Home Office has responsibility for the Met’s counter-terrorism police?
i.     Which member of the House of Commons authorities permitted the police to suspend Mr Green’s Parliamentary e-mail?
j.     Since they have seized Mr Green’s Parliamentary computers, how will the police protect the privileged relationship between an MP and his/her constituents – not least in relation to matters that may involve the police?
k.     Is it not a breach of Parliamentary Privilege for the police to arrest a Member of Parliament for using information he received for Parliamentary purpose

Leader of the Conservative MEPs
This week a new Leader was elected by the Conservative MEPs.   Who is this Leader answerable to?   The answer is the Conservative MEPs that elected him.   In the 21st century isn't it time that the Leader of the Conservative Party in the European Parliament was elected by Party members and answerable to them?  
Ulster Unionists
This week  the Ulster Unionists and the Conservative Party agreed a Memorandum of Understanding as shown below:
Both parties believe that a strong and stable Union of the constituent parts of the United Kingdom offers the best future for all its citizens.
Both parties believe that Northern Ireland has been isolated for too long from the politics of the United Kingdom.
Both parties believe that all the citizens of the United Kingdom should have the opportunity to vote for, and potentially participate in, their national government.

Both parties recognise the need to change politics in Northern Ireland, are committed to reaching out to the increasing numbers of alienated voters, and developing non sectarian politics in Northern Ireland.

1. The Conservatives and the Ulster Unionists have agreed to form a Joint Committee which will have as a core aim a desire to change politics in Northern Ireland in order to enable all electors in Northern Ireland to participate fully in the politics of the United Kingdom

2. The Joint Committee, consisting of 4 Conservatives and 4 Ulster Unionists, will oversee developments. It will be responsible for coordinating the identification of candidates for the General Election and have responsibility for running the European and General Election campaigns.

3. Jim Nicholson MEP will be the candidate for the European election and, if elected, will sit as a full member of the Conservative group, and shall be in receipt of the Conservative Whip in the next European Parliament.  He shall have the same rights and responsibilities of all MEPs taking the Conservative Whip.

4. Successful candidates at the General Election will be full members of the Parliamentary Conservative Party. They will have the same rights and responsibilities as all other MPs taking the Conservative Whip.

5. Both Parties recognise that the holding of office as a Member of Parliament, Member of the European Parliament, or Member of a Legislative Assembly, is a full-time position. Both Parties consider the holding of multiple mandates to be undesirable and neglectful of the needs of the electorate. Accordingly, the holding of joint mandates will not be permitted.  If an MLA offers him/her self as a candidate for a Parliamentary seat they will undertake to resign as an MLA on election to that Parliament.
You cannot object to this Memorandum for it is clearly part of a process, but it does leave a number of questions unanswered.
Who is the Joint Committee answerable to?   In particular who are the Conservative representatives answerable to?
Will they identify candidates or will they appoint them?   Will the candidates be approved by the grass roots members of the individual Constituency Associations of the Conservative Party and The Ulster Unionists?
Will the candidates run on the manifesto of the Conservative Party for the European and the General Elections?
Will Jim Nicholson be endorsed by the Conservative Party members in Northern Ireland?
Will Sylvia Hermon take the Conservative Whip in Parliament, if not will there be a selection meeting for a Parliamentary candidate in North Down?
Will the Ulster Unionists remain as a seperate Party or is the ultimate objective to absorb them within the Conservative Party?
These questions and others need answering

Merger Ulster Unionists
The talks with the Ulster Unionists continue and are moving towards a resolution.   One issue that is still outstanding is the name under which candidates will stand.   The obvious name is the Conservative and Unionist Party.   Surprisingly, this is still the registered name of the Conservative Party, so thats all right then.
Yesterday I watched two excellent programmes on BBC Parliament.   First of all I watched the brilliant lecture by Nial Ferguson on his book "The Ascent of Money", then Andrew Neil's interview with David Marquand.    The Andrew Neil programme "Straight Talk" is consistently good.   What a pity these programmes do not get a wider audience.   BBC Parliament is gradually building up its reputation.   Soon it will be my main TV programme for viewing.   As for BBC3 and BBC4 why don't they just scrap them

Fat Cat Bankers
Barclays Bank is paying out millions of pounds in bonuses, but what did it do when the Bank of England reduced its base rate by half of one per cent?   Why Barclays pushed up its interest charge to small businesses to an unprecedented seven percentage points over base rate from the previously charged five percentage points over base.
When our politicians call for a reduction in interest rates to boost the economy, in the real world the banks reduce the rate on savings but keep their charges at the same level or increase it.   Unless the government intervenes at a micro level all the talk about reducing rates is hot air.
US President
Colin Powell refused to stand for President or Vice-President of the United States because his wife was convinced that if he did so he would be assassinated within twelve months.   I was reminded of this when I was given the following scenario: Barack Obama is elected President.   He is assassinated.   Joe Biden takes over and serves out the four year term.    Hilary Clinton then takes over as President.
I recently put the Colin Powell story to Irwin Seltzer.   His response was that this was a very European view of the United States, a view that sees the United States as full of red necks.   He thought the theory was nonsense, although Colin Powell's wife did have concerns.    I hope Irwin is right.

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