Wednesday, 31 October 2012

More on matters European

http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/london-and-berlin-demand-billions-in-cuts-to-proposed-eu-budget-a-864560.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/eu/9640833/A-day-of-judgment-looms-over-the-EU-budget.html


So who will 'win', the European Parliament, the European Commission, the net contributor states, or the net receiving states?  Will the wrangling take peoples' eyes off the ball of the eurozone crisis?

On the crisis, see

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/finance/ambroseevans-pritchard/100021059/the-german-bloc-will-have-to-take-its-bitter-medicine-in-greece/?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

&

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/9647098/Greek-death-spiral-raises-heat-for-German-bloc-creditors.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/9647205/Cameron-suffers-stinging-defeat-over-Europe.html     

Black eye for Cameron:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/9647205/Cameron-suffers-stinging-defeat-over-Europe.html

http://www.spiegel.de/international/business/euro-zone-unemployment-rises-in-september-to-highest-level-ever-a-864541.html



Monday, 29 October 2012

The Hurricane

On Friday 16th October 1987 I was planning my trip from Derbyshire to Southgate to attend a party the following night.  During the day television news reported on hurricane winds and fallen trees across the south of England. Undaunted, I set off in the afternoon of 17th October for the M1 and London.  In those days motorway driving was a reasonably pleasant experience.  It was only when I headed off the motorway towards Barnet that the extent of the devastation became apparent.  On arrival at the party I noticed that a tree in the next door garden had crashed into the house and branches covered the roof on mine host's house.  The news items had not prepared me for the extent of the damage wrought by the hurricane

In those days there was no 24 hour news service, no websites, no smart phones, certainly no Twitter or Facebook.

Compare and contrast with today, as hurricane Sandy heads for the USA. Now we can watch and comment on the drama as it happens thousands of miles away, such has been technological advance since 1987.  We have ringside seats.  Now we can  rubber-neck on the misfortune of others anywhere in the world in real time.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Another millstone?

This could unravel the EMU project, or at the very least Greek participation in the eurozone. What hope for Spain?

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/9639512/Germany-rattled-as-taxpayer-losses-loom-in-Greece.html


http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/greek-creditors-propose-new-debt-haircut-for-athens-a-863999.html

http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/german-press-comments-on-report-that-greece-will-need-more-aid-a-864010.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/globalbusiness/9640923/Greece-more-risky-for-investors-than-Syria.html

http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/spiegel-interview-with-ecb-president-mario-draghi-a-863971.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/9641302/Tony-Blair-the-EU-needs-a-president.html
Not him surely?

Update: 29th October

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/9641570/Debt-crisis-Greece-must-have-debt-relief-leaders-to-tell-Angela-Merkel.html
Upping the pressure on Germany.

31st October

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/9638489/Greek-prime-minister-warns-back-deal-or-risk-euro-exit.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/9647098/Greek-death-spiral-raises-heat-for-German-bloc-creditors.html





Rusthall Fireworks (2)

The wind eased off and it was almost a clear sky for the annual Rusthall bonfire and fireworks display.  An excellent display which had some features I had not seen before.

Congratulations to the organising committee, not only for the bonfire and the display, but also for organising the volunteers to marshal road closures as a consequence of the decision of Kent police not to provide officers to police traffic during the torchlight procession.  The use of barriers for the first time to close roads worked very well.

I spied the chairman of the parish council and one of our borough councillors working to ensure public safety.  Well done.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Dover Beach moment

A verse from Dover Beach by Matthew Arnold.

The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth's shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.



Replace the first line with UK membership of the European Union.  Are we beginning to hear the UK's withdrawing roar from the EU?  Maybe, and the Liberal Democrats, the uber-europhiles, are in danger of being stranded on the beach.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/eu/9636022/Slowly-too-slowly-the-Tories-are-embracing-ever-looser-union.html

http://www.spectator.co.uk/features/8708011/lost-in-europe/

http://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/353582


Cathy Gaunt

The untimely death of Cathy Gaunt has deprived us of a person who cared passionately about the lot of deprived communities and people.  She came into contact with many people who owe her a debt of gratitude.  A person with strong convictions she had many discussions with me on poverty issues: the role of credit unions and food banks in particular.  I am proud to  have known her as a colleague when I worked at Voluntary Action within Kent, even though she did run her car over my foot when I was assisting her to park the vehicle.

I met Cathy for the first time at a meeting held at Tonbridge Connexions when she was working for Tonbridge YWCA.  She moved to a  post in Brighton where she worked in a neighbourhood regeneration programme as part of the 50+ Community Programme Team developing support and services for older people in one of the city's most deprived areas.


Her next post was in Tunbridge Wells with VAWK where she  worked on a project supporting people with HIV and AIDS.  Later, she took on the role of co-ordinator of 121 Befriending.


Not a glory seeker (unlike too many in the voluntary sector) Cathy just got on with the job.  Many whose lives she touched will be saddened by her death.  


http://ourcathy.info/index.html


Town Hall Dynamism (2)

In June 2011 I posted the item below.

http://kentcommunityactivist.blogspot.co.uk/2011/06/town-hall-dynamism.html

Sixteen months later what is there to report?  Precious little. The Tunbridge Wells Town Plan Advisory Panel's report has had little impact, the former Odeon cinema has not been demolished and the civic complex issues have been kicked into the long grass.


All music to the ears of the Aspic Brigade, a small unrepresentative clique which nevertheless has cast its dire spell over local Conservatives.


Thursday, 25 October 2012

UK and Europe

Whilst the problems of the eurozone have been centre stage, the relationship between the UK and Europe has been and is a developing story.  So it should be.  The majority of citizens of the UK are eurosceptic and at last the Tories and Labour are beginning to soften their europhile approach.  Will this translate into a commitment to an 'in or out' referendum?

A few articles of interest:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/9632912/David-Cameron-is-right-to-defend-Britains-interests-Van-Rompuy-aide-says.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/eu/9628535/EU-demands-an-extra-11.5bn-from-British-taxpayers.html

http://www.nucleus.uk.net/subscription-confirmed/item/uk-need-not-be-alone-in-capping-eu-budget

http://www.euractiv.com/future-eu/uk-op-raises-eyebrows-home-affai-news-515655

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/9632919/European-human-rights-court-is-a-hate-figure-in-Britain-laments-president.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/serbia/9632948/Britain-demands-EU-action-to-stop-huge-influx-of-Balkans-asylum-seekers.html


http://www.spectator.co.uk/features/8708011/lost-in-europe/

26th October 2012

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/9634974/We-wont-give-up-rebate-David-Cameron-tells-EU.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/9636417/Britain-shackled-to-corpse-of-EU-says-Douglas-Carswell.html


http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/scotland/9639434/Law-officers-told-Alex-Salmond-independent-Scotlands-EU-membership-not-automatic.html

29th October:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/9640104/David-Cameron-faces-fresh-rebellion-over-EU-budget.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/eu/9640833/A-day-of-judgment-looms-over-the-EU-budget.html

30th October:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/9641755/Britain-sorely-needed-in-EU-says-German-Finance-Minister-Wolfgang-Schaeuble.html

http://www.thecommentator.com/article/1937/britain_doesn_t_need_brussels

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/9643328/David-Cameron-under-pressure-on-all-sides-over-EU-budget.html

31st October

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/9645063/David-Cameron-faces-rebellion-as-Labour-to-vote-with-Tory-sceptics-on-EU-budget-cut.html












Uncles upsets teachers

Take a look at this:

http://englishpassport.org/2012/10/24/villagers-cry-for-help-in-medway-but-craig-mackinlay-kent-pcc-candidate-refuses-to-help/

Note the final sentence from this post on the Uncles owned blog.



Well, that's the teaching vote lost and I would imagine the votes of a lot of people who hold primary school teachers in high regard.



Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Rusthall Fireworks

No, not a meeting of the Parish Council.

The annual fireworks display is this Saturday, 27th October.  Not sure when the display commences, but be there from just before 7.00PM and soak up the atmosphere.  There will be the usual procession round the village prior to the display.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

EU update

Some interesting articles, the first one in particular is worth careful study.

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/finance/ambroseevans-pritchard/100020923/britain-has-left-the-european-union-in-all-but-name/
Mind you we still pay £40m per day to the EU!

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/9628734/Financial-transaction-tax-will-raise-billions-says-EU-Commission.html
Another financial grab by the EU.  The European Parliament has approved an 8% increase in the EC budget.  Will Cameron use the veto as he said he will?

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/9629293/Debt-crisis-Europe-ratchets-up-grip-on-Madrid.html
More pain for Spain?

Update: 24 October 2012

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/scotland/9628949/Alex-Salmond-denies-barefaced-lies-over-Scotland-euro-membership.html
Oops!


http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/9630120/Greece-plans-to-cut-wages-and-pensions.html

http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/reports-say-greece-to-get-two-more-years-to-reach-budget-targets-a-863110.html
Since denied by Greek government.

http://www.ecb.int/press/key/date/2012/html/sp121024.en.html
Mario Draghi in the Lions' Den.

http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/german-finance-minister-says-worst-is-yet-to-come-in-euro-crisis-a-862994.html

Update 25 October 2012

http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/mixed-messages-from-greece-and-eu-on-two-year-austerity-delay-a-863353.html
What a shambles.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/9634172/Act-on-pledge-to-ease-Irish-debts-IMF-urges-EU.html

26th October

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/italy/9636133/Rome-braced-for-austerity-protests.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/9635107/Spain-jobs-woes-deepen-as-unemployment-rate-hits-25pc.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/economics/9636931/Greece-faces-30bn-bill-for-two-year-delay-to-meet-bail-out-targets.html
Relief, or not, for Greece and Ireland.?


27th October

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-20112404
Italy.  Silvio cuts up rough.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/9638489/Greece-to-vote-on-key-austerity-measures.

28th October

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/9638725/Mario-Draghi-backs-Wolfgang-Schaeubles-super-commissioner-plan.html
Well, he would wouldn't he?  See also:

http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/spiegel-interview-with-ecb-president-mario-draghi-a-863971.html























Green Riposte

http://stuartjeffery.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/rebuttal-to-steven-uncles.html


Rebuttal to Steven Uncles

On 30th September allegations were made against me on the 'English Passport' blog owned by 'Passport & Associates Ltd', which is run by Steven Uncles (he is a director and secretary, the other directors seem to be members of his family).

The blog post accuses me of:

1. Being a Nazi. This is both offensive and untrue. Furthermore it is offensive to the memory of those people who died at the hands of the Nazis.
2. Being a bigot, i.e "a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially: one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance". Again this is offensive and I believe, untrue.
3. Being on drugs. The inference in the blog post is that I regularly take recreational drugs. I do not take illegal drugs.

Furthermore, on October 19th, Mr Uncles claimed on his police commissioner campaignwebsite :

4. That I had withdrawn from the Police Commissioner election out of embarrassment. This is untrue, I had never had or stated an intention to stand in the election.
5. That I am anti-English. This is simply untrue.

I hope that Mr Uncles with remove the posts from his blogs and apologise for the untrue slurs that he has made.

English Democrat confusion

Steve Uncles, the English Democrats' candidate for Kent Police Commissioner has this to say on one of his blog posts:


STEVE UNCLES – ENGLISH DEMOCRAT CONFIRMS HE HAS THE TOUGHEST DRUG POLICY IN KENT AT CANTERBURY – FIRST KENT PCC HUSTINGS

 
 
 
 
 
 
1 Vote

Steve Uncles – English Democrat confirms he has the toughest Drug Policy in Kent at Canterbury Hustings
At the First Kent PCC Hustings, all six candidates made statements saying that they would be “Tough on Drugs” but the test came when one student from the University of Kent in Canterbury, asked the opinion of the Candidates as to their policy on the personal growing of Cannabis Plants for personal use.
Of the six Candidates four including the Conservative Craig MacKinlay, made statements saying that “Growing drugs for personal use is OK”, Ann Barnes, confirmed the Law in that even growing Cannabis for personal use is against the Law, but Steve Uncles of the English Democrats confirmed that his policy was Zero Tolerance on all Illegal Drugs in Kent, to make Kent into a “Drugs Free Zone”
Mr Uncles was the only candidate to confirm that “Zero Tolerance” meant absolutely no toleration of Drugs in Kent, by the Kent Police under his administration, his rationale for this policy he justified by the terrible affect that addictive drugs have on users lives, once they are addicted, the Crimes motivated by drug use, and the revenue stream for organised crime from the drug trade and drug dealing.
Mr Uncles concluded  “If you wish to vote for candidates who have a liberal policy on drugs, then you have several choices, but just to make it clear, when the English Democrats say ‘zero tolerance – a drug free zone’ that is exactly what we mean, here in Kent


However, perusal of the English Democrat's manifesto, to which he refers readers in an earlier post, states this:

2.14 Drugs and Alcohol
2.14.1 English Democrats believe that government should encourage a healthy lifestyle which makes the minimum use of "recreational" drugs of all kinds and only reasonable use of alcohol. The Government's drug policy is failing to control the use of illegal drugs and its alcohol policy appears to be making the problems worse.
2.14.2 The English Democrats favour an independent and open minded, English enquiry into alcohol and drug abuse. This should consider, amongst other issues, the pros and cons of legalising the use of cannabis and its health and social consequences. The enquiry should consider health and social consequences. We recognise that there are good arguments on either side. What is needed is a proper conclusion to the debate for England so that it is possible to move on with an agreed stance and suitable measures.

Clearly the manifesto is not worth the paper it is written on.





Sunday, 21 October 2012

The Pain in Spain

Regional elections in Spain.  The biggie is Catalonia on 25 November.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/spain/9566649/Catalonia-calls-snap-elections-in-independence-drive-from-Madrid.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/spain/9620870/Basque-election-test-for-Spains-conservative-government.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/9624211/Spanish-elections-could-mark-step-toward-bail-out.html

UPDATE:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/9624455/Spains-austerity-drive-backed-by-Galicia-but-not-the-Basques.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/9626278/Galicia-elections-Spanish-government-hails-overwhelming-support-for-austerity-programme.html







Kent Police and Crime Commissioner election

Trawling through the web I have hit upon the following sites which provide information on five of the candidates for the position of Kent PCC.  Unfortunately, I cannot find a site for the Independent, Dai Liyanage.

Conservative:  http://www.craigmackinlay.com/

Labour:  http://www.harrietyeo.com/

Independent:  http://www.annbarnes.co.uk/

UKIP (Facebook page): https://www.facebook.com/ukiptwells?sk=app_290919714259665

English Democrats:  http://steveunclesenglishdemocrats.org/








What a load of baloney.

Yes, from Steve Uncles' blog.  See:

http://englishpassport.org/2012/10/21/craig-mackinlay-police-commissioner-candidate-a-scottish-conservative-lost-in-kent/

From the article:


Craig MacKinlay Police Commissioner Candidate - A Scottish Conservative lost in Kent ...
The Scottish Conservative Accountant Craig MacKinlay, who has been parachuted into Kent, by Conservative Party Central office to ensure that 20% cuts are made in English Police Services to enable further "bribes" to go to Scotland in addition to the £33 Billion already given to Scotland by English Tax Payers (Source Tax Payers Alliance), has been busy in his campaign in Kent, mainly introducing himself to "Conservatives" 

Far from being parachuted in the Conservative candidate was elected by Kent Conservatives at a series of meetings open to all members of the party in Kent.  How was Mr Uncles selected?

The Conservative candidate was born in, lives in, works in Kent and has a distinguished record of public service in Medway. I have received this from a reliable source:


Craig Mackinlay in fifth generation English. You would need to go back to 1855 to find his first non English born relative.

Casual disregard for fact illustrated also by this from the English Passport blog:

Truer Statement of Persons Nominated for the Election of a Police and Crime Commissioner Kent Police Area Ann Barnes Liberal Democrat Dai Liyanage Independent Craig MacKinlay Scottish Conservative Party Candidate Steve Uncles English Democrats "More Police - Catching Criminals!" Piers Wuachope UK Independence Party Harriet Bronwen Yeo The Labour Party Candidate, Kent, PCC, Police Commissioner


The blog post in full, see:

http://englishpassport.org/2012/10/19/truer-statement-of-the-persons-nominated-for-the-kent-police-crime-commissioner-election-15-november-2012/




Friday, 19 October 2012

EU Summit

Interesting quotes (taken from Daily Telegraph).


More from David Cameron's closing speech at the EU summit. He rejected suggestions that Britain was "slowly waving goodbye to Europe", but said he wanted a "new settlement" with the EU, including more say in how it's run.
QuoteAm I happy with the status quo in Europe? No I am not, I think there are changes that we need. There are opportunities opening for what I have said should be a new settlement between Britain and Europe and there will be opportunities to seek that new settlement.
The claim came from Finland's Europe minister, Alexander Stubb:
QuoteI think Britain is right now, voluntarily, by its own will, putting itself in the margins.
We see it in foreign policy, we see it in economic policy, we see it linked to the single currency. And I, as someone who advocates the single market and free trade, find that very unfortunate, very unfortunate.
It's almost as if the boat is pulling away and one of our best friends is somehow saying 'bye-bye' and there's not really that much we can do about it.

Running with the fox and chasing with the hounds?

Other articles:

http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/merkel-and-hollande-reach-summit-agreement-on-banking-oversight-a-862178.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/9620715/Merkel-wins-major-victory-over-Hollande.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/9619305/EU-leaders-agree-fiscal-facility-plan-with-eye-on-budget-union.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/9621559/Debt-crisis-Merkel-blocks-eurozone-support-efforts.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/9619458/EU-banking-supervision-is-no-triumph.html

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/finance/ambroseevans-pritchard/100020875/europe-mistakes-market-lull-for-vote-of-confidence/

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/9620666/David-Cameron-threatens-to-veto-EU-budget-unless-Brussels-sacks-staff.html
For home consumption.









Thursday, 18 October 2012

The BBC and Uncles



See also:

http://englishpassport.org/2012/10/18/bbc-south-east-news-featuring-this-english-passport-blog-kent-green-chairman-a-bigotted-drug-taking-nazi/

Amazing, truly amazing,

EU miscellany

A mixed bag of articles.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/comment/9616288/If-the-euro-survives-how-will-Britain-fit-into-the-new-federal-state.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/9616531/Hollande-Europe-is-close-to-ending-crisis.html
I spy flying pigs.

http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/france-and-germany-struggle-to-find-common-ground-ahead-of-eu-summit-a-862009.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/9618603/EU-Summit-Angela-Merkel-moves-to-block-Hollande-bank-union-deadline.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/9617447/EU-summit-France-to-clash-with-Germany-over-eurozone-bailout-fund.html

http://www.nucleus.uk.net/subscription-confirmed/item/germany-isolated-as-hollande-wins-allies

http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_SPEECH-12-740_en.htm

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-19986804
Riots in Greece.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/9617085/David-Cameron-to-reassure-Brussels-that-Britain-can-avoid-a-vote-on-exiting-the-EU.html

Update 21 October 2012:

Integration?
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/9623857/ECBs-Knot-backs-call-for-EU-commissioner.html















Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Oh joy, more problems for Uncles

http://www.thisislocallondon.co.uk/news/9987919.Kent_PCC_candidate__horrified__at_being_labelled_Nazi/#

From the post:


Pictures of Mr Jeffery surrounded by swastikas were posted on a site believed to be the “personal site” of fellow Kent PCC candidate Steven Uncles.
Mr Uncles, of the English Democrats Party, initially denied knowing anything about the site.
He later admitted being a “contributor” after his party chairman, Robin Tilbrook, said it was Uncles’ personal site.

Uncles denies knowing anything about the site, then admits to being a contributor.  The registered office of the site is Uncles home address.  Perhaps it slipped his mind.  

Legal Action

A recent post on another blog has lead me to consult a solicitor.  The initial opinion is that the post is a serious libel and I have issued instructions for an action in defamation to proceed.  However, we need to establish whom should be sued as the blog is owned by a limited company and we have to identify the person who posted the item.

We have to identify the assets of  the person it is intended to sue as there is no point in proceeding against a 'man of straw'.  Should we do so costs may never be recovered, let alone damages, which I am advised could be substantial.

Hopefully it will not come to a court case.

Psst, want another laugh?

A gormless twerp has decided to name me as a 'mooted' candidate on a website dedicated to the Kent Police and Crime Commissioner elections.  Needless to say it is a spoof. Enquiries are in hand as to the source of the post, with a view to legal action following.


UPDATE: The page has been deleted.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Psst, want a good laugh

My dear readers, you have been fed a rich diet on the mutterings of Steve Uncles and posts on the English Passport blog.

For sheer hilarity, the following takes some beating.

http://englishpassport.org/2012/10/15/political-opponents-set-to-spike-the-steve-uncles-for-kent-police-commissioner-as-campaign-gains-momentum/

On a serious note, consider this recent post on the English Passport blog.

http://englishpassport.org/2012/10/09/kunt-and-the-gang-jimmy-savile-and-the-sexy-kids/

UPDATE:

Clearly I have got to Uncles.  You will note above that my hilarity was directed at the 'spike' post and that I regarded the English Passport blog's attempt to joke about Savile as a serious matter.

Uncles complains about smears, but as you can see below, he or his acolytes on the English Passport blog are past masters.


FURTHER UPDATE:

The second link (kunt-and-the gang-etc) above has been deleted from the English Passport blog as has the 'Snip' above.  I wonder why?

BML2 latest

Norman Baker comes in for some well-deserved criticism in this article.

http://www.bml2.co.uk/the-news/91-story-transport-minister-condemns-new-railway-through-his-constituency.html

Strong stuff, but in my opinion justified.

United Kingdom, Scotland and the European Union

So, Scotland is to have its referendum in 2014 on independence from the UK.  The Scots, supposedly a 'canny' people, probably will vote against independence, but don't mortgage the house to bet on the result.  In the event that the Scots do vote for dissolution of the Union, how independent will Scotland be?

Alex Salmond has stated that an independent Scotland will remain in the EU, although there is a body of opinion that claims Scotland will have to apply for membership. As the EU moves towards 'ever closer union' Scotland will not be free to legislate in matters which are the province of the EU.

Salmond has stated that Scotland will keep the pound.  This will cut Scotland off from the eurozone (assuming the eurozone survives). The value of the pound will be determined by the performance of the English economy, fiscal policy determined by the government of the rump of the UK and interest rates set by the Bank of England.  So, an independent Scotland will be bound hand and foot by the EU and the currency of a foreign country, over both of which it will be able at best to exercise some influence but not control.

Meanwhile a head of steam in building up for the repatriation of powers from the EU to Westminster.  What the outcome will be is uncertain, indeed what are the motives of those responsible for building the pressure?
The link below is to a two part article.  Well worth a read.

http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/new-path-in-london-leads-away-from-european-union-a-861294.html

The next crisis in Europe?






Sunday, 14 October 2012

Euroland update

A sobering article:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/comment/ambroseevans_pritchard/9607828/Eurolands-debt-strategy-is-an-economic-and-moral-disgrace.html

Question is: what next?



Update:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/lithuania/9608449/Lithuanias-austerity-government-voted-out.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/9608510/Portugal-to-unveil-its-harshest-budget-amid-protests.html
Riots to follow?

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/9608557/Spain-to-ask-for-bailout-next-month.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/9610401/George-Soros-Germany-must-act-to-solve-nightmare-euro-crisis.html  .  See also:  http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/finance/ambroseevans-pritchard/100020803/europe-needs-a-soros-salvation-army/

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/9610717/French-business-erupts-in-fury-against-disastrous-Francois-Hollande.html



Take your pick

Singing from the same hymn sheet?

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/9606390/Greece-poised-to-leave-euro-Swedish-finance-minister-says.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/9607403/German-finance-chief-Wolfgang-Schaeuble-says-Greece-wont-default-but-warns-of-damage-if-it-does.html  and  http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/german-finance-minister-schaeuble-rules-out-athens-euro-exit-a-861335.html






Saturday, 13 October 2012

How not to run a Council, Tunbridge Wells style

We live in a representative democracy by which I mean our MPs and councillors are elected to represent an area and are not elected as delegates for that area.  A representative may makes promises to the electorate in a manifesto or election address but is not mandated to pursue a specific course of action.

A councillor has to address the needs of the council area as well as the interests of the electorate in his/her ward.  This can lead to difficult decisions.  The mark of a principled councillor is a willingness to run the gauntlet of the electorate and support a wider need rather than a narrow ward based interest.

That said, it is important councillors and councils seek to understand the opinions of the electorate before taking a decision, indeed seek the views of people on emerging plans and policies.

Two issues have arisen in Tunbridge Wells which illustrate how matters should not be approached by councils.

The first concerns a plot of land used as a recreation area.



The Council owns the land and is seeking planning permission to built residential accommodation on part of it.  The locals are up in arms. One ward councillor claims to have known nothing about the proposal before the planning notice was issued.  Surely the Council and councillors should have given residents the opportunity to debate the idea of building on this land? No community engagement whatsoever.  Poor show.

The second issue is a decision taken to ban parking on pavements on six roads in Royal Tunbridge Wells.  The owners of vehicles parked on pavements will receive a £70 fine.  Members of the public have no right to dispute the introduction of the restrictions because it is an experimental traffic regulation order.   This is disgraceful.  There may well be good reasons for the parking ban, but there should have been consultation prior to the decision being taken.

One can but hope that the electorate will consider the cavalier attitude of the Council on both issues and think carefully as to where they place their 'X' at forthcoming elections. Councillors at times have to be brave and support proposals which are not in the interest of their electorate. Such councillors would secure my vote even if the decision was not one I supported, so long as they had consulted on it.

Nostalgia Corner (9)

In a previous post I mentioned that a small group of us at primary school would wander along Lockoford Lane to the Chesterfield Canal.  Sometimes we turned right and went along the canal tow path to Chesterfield.  Sometimes we went up the hill to the bridge over the Midland Railway.  Often though, we would turn left along the canal tow path in the direction of Brimington.  The canal was overgrown, silted up and the water a dirty yellow.  And the smell! We would pass Sheepbridge Sidings on the Great Central Railway which provided rail connections to Sheepbridge Iron Works, the BTH factory and Pearson's Pottery.  Then we would come upon the Three Bridges.  The bridges took the Midland railway route to Sheffield over the canal, the Great Central and the steeply inclined line from Sheepbridge Sidings to Sheepbridge works.

We lingered here often to watch the trains and placed pennies on the line to be quashed by passing trains.  Then we would continue along the canal, passing under the 'Old Route' of the Midland Railway to Rotherham.  The tow path was almost impenetrable as we headed towards Brimington Station (closed and used as a builder's yard).  On the right stood Wheeldon Mill, a dog track which had seen better days.

At Brimington Station we left the canal, took to the bridge over the Great Central Railway and headed for Whittington Moor.  Out route took us under the two Midland Railway lines (to Rotherham and Sheffield) and, sandwiched between the two the line from Sheepbridge Sidings.

Then it was a short walk to Pearson's Pottery, wreathed in grey dust, to Sheffield Road.  Before long we were back at Lockoford Lane.  We would have been out for three or four hours.  Can you imagine children being permitted to do the same today?

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Past watering holes (5)

Continuing my saunter down memory lane, the following two pubs in Chesterfield,  have been mentioned in earlier posts on this blog.

The Star:



The Bridge Inn:






Both pubs continue to thrive, which is more than can be said for the Terminus Hotel, now demolished and replaced by retirement flats.






Euro caravan moves to Spain

A 'must read' article:

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/finance/ambroseevans-pritchard/100020688/spain-keelhauled-by-germany-and-aaa-chicanery/


The decision by the AAA bloc of Germany, Austria, Finland and Holland to walk away from the June summit deal for direct ESM recapitalisation of Spanish banks (lifting the burden off Madrid's shoulders) has keelhauled Spain.
Yes, the AAA quartet now claim they never agreed to cover "legacy assets" or the mess left from the EMU bank bubbles of the Noughties (in which German and Dutch banks were central players). That is a very dubious claim.
The Council document circulated for several days and was discussed by key officials from all countries. The purpose was crystal clear: to break the vicious circle between banks and sovereigns. Everybody knew that it was intended to stop Spain spiralling out of control.
I have been assured by Council officials that the text was not changed in the small hours of the night. The leaders agreed to it, then discovered they could not sell the package to their own parliaments – especially the Bundestag – and are now wriggling out on a technicality.

The AAA volte-face is perhaps the most shocking chicanery, deception, and cowardice that I have seen over the 20 years or more that I have been writing about Europe’s affairs (on and off). The EU has broken its word to the markets. The Latins feel betrayed. So do the Irish. There will be deep consequences, even if these are not obvious at first.

See also:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/9600476/IMF-fears-credit-shock-in-Spain-if-Rajoy-blocks-rescue.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/comment/9600467/Why-the-IMF-has-got-it-so-hopelessly-wrong-on-the-euro-crisis.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/9600539/SandP-downgrades-Spains-credit-rating.html

MEANWHILE.......

http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/top-german-economists-warn-greece-will-not-recover-a-860793.html






Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Of separatists and integration.

Interesting two part article.

http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/debt-crisis-gives-european-separatists-a-boost-a-860112.html

Chuckled at this:

Both the separatist Basques and the Catalans see their future as being within the European Union, with its common currency. Ironically, however, it was European Commission President José Manuel Durão Barroso who dashed those hopes, by pointing out that a newly created nation could not automatically become a member of the EU. Instead, new negotiations would be needed, and acceptance would require a unanimous vote by all EU member states.

The same applies to Scotland. In the 18th century, Edinburgh, a center of the Enlightenment in Europe, was proud of its unofficial title as the "Athens of the North." Today, many fear that this title could soon apply once again, albeit for different reasons.

On  the integration front, two articles of note:

http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/eleven-eu-finance-ministers-agree-to-support-financial-transaction-tax-a-860320.html

http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/eu-attempts-to-get-tougher-on-rule-enforcement-at-risk-of-failing-a-860038.html

Plus:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/9597083/Draft-EU-proposals-on-closer-integration-in-full.html

http://www.spiegel.de/international/business/concerns-over-stability-imf-demands-swift-banking-union-in-europe-a-860510.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/9604889/Europe-considers-eurozone-budget-pooling-borrowing.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/9606061/EC-boss-risks-Berlin-row-over-eurobonds.html

http://www.mail.com/int/sports/soccer/1628286-eu-basks-peace-prize-separatists-rise.html#.1272-stage-hero1-2


Update 16th. October

http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/schaeuble-presents-euro-reforms-and-broad-new-powers-for-eu-a-861529.html



Past watering holes (4)

Wingerworth, near Chesterfield, was once a sleepy village.  In the 1960s three large housing estates were built, along with a parade of shops.  For many years the only pub in the village was the Barley Mow.



The pub was crowded in the evenings and weekends, a bit cliquey, but friendly enough.  The landlord in the 1970s was a stickler for keeping to licensed hours.  Absolutely no chance of a drink after 10.30PM.  Eventually a second pub was built in the village, opening in the 1990s.  One day a woman came down the path to my house carrying a clipboard and informed me that I had to sign the petition she had on the clipboard.  The petition was to oppose the new pub.  She seemed somewhat put out when I refused to sign and even more so when I informed her that I was the Founder of the Wingerworth Drinking Society and would be initiating a rival petition is support of the proposed pub.  She demanded more information about the Society.  'When was it formed?'.  'When I saw you coming down my path' I replied.

Sometimes I would escape the overcrowding by jumping into the car and visiting the Hunloke Arms.


Never a busy pub in the 1970s the Hunloke  is on the A61. The disadvantage of the pub is that the car park is opposite a lay-by frequented often by police cars. There was a risk of being pulled over and being delayed by a breath test, even if under the drink-drive limit.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Spotlight on Greece

Merkel visits Greece tomorrow, over 7,000 police on the street to protect her. I thought the EU was about unity?

http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/german-press-comments-on-angela-merkel-s-greek-visit-on-tuesday-a-860031.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/9594117/7000-police-to-protect-Angela-Merkel-during-Athens-visit.html

http://ftalphaville.ft.com/2012/10/08/1197521/why-is-merkel-visiting-athens-on-tuesday/?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/chancellor-angela-merkel-faces-protests-during-athens-trip-a-860156.html

http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/ongoing-greek-debt-problems-overshadow-merkel-visit-to-athens-a-860264.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/9595324/EU-IMF-give-Greece-10-days-to-implement-reforms.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/9597960/Angela-Merkels-visit-to-Greece-what-the-papers-say.html

http://www.spiegel.de/international/german-press-claim-merkel-did-too-little-too-late-during-greek-trip-a-860515.html

UPDATE:

http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/merkel-completes-first-trip-to-greece-in-five-years-a-860351.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/9597172/Merkel-tells-irate-Greeks-reforms-will-pay-off.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/9597514/Angela-Merkel-recoils-from-Greek-showdown-on-Spain-contagion-fears.html

http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/merkel-showed-support-for-greece-during-athens-visit-a-860437.html


Meanwhile in Spain:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/9595560/Spain-borrowing-costs-spike-above-6pc-on-bailout-impasse.html









Past watering holes (3)

The Buck Inn on the outskirts of Clay Cross was an unpretentious little pub and had much to be unpretentious about.  It was a single storey prefabricated building.  The pub's one redeeming feature was a jolly landlord who liked to perform his repertoire of two magic tricks.

The pub is no more, but the developers are having great difficulty securing planning permission to turn the site into a mini-housing estate.






Sunday, 7 October 2012

Past watering holes (2)

Holymoorside is a village two miles west of Chesterfield.  Off the beaten track, it has two pubs, both frequented by me.

The Lamb Inn was never busy on a weekday lunchtime, at least not when I visited with my ambulance driver mate.  One day we decided to play a game of dominoes.  Two ancient locals sidled up to us and suggested we play a game of Fives and Threes, for a small bet, of course.

Well we took them on and duly lost the first game, in the midst of comments that we didn't really know how to play.  But we did and soon wiped the smiles off their faces in game 2, and game 3.  The hustlers hustled.




My more regular haunt was the Bulls Head run by Albert Swain and his wife.


In those days the Bull had two things going for it: lock-ins in the evenings and proximity to the football pitch.


At chucking-out time on a Saturday afternoon we would repair to the football ground to watch the 'lads', many of whom had earlier been in the pub drinking copiously, set about the opposition.  And set about they did. Fouls and fights far more entertaining than the football.



Past watering holes (1)

Many a happy hour was spent in the hostelries of Chesterfield and the surrounding area.  One of my favourite haunts was the Portland Hotel, run as a family business, now a Wetherspoons hotel.  The attraction of the hotel was that it was possible to engage in drinking long after normal pub licensing hours, so long as you were in the company of a hotel guest, the latter paying for the drinks (although, of course, you paid the guest for the drink).

Many an evening was passed playing solo in the company of a local solicitor and hotel guests who stayed from Monday to Friday at the hotel.  The guests were employed by the Accountant General's Department and returned to London for the weekend.



Another regular haunt was the Yellow Lion.  Peter, the landlord, a former miner,  had strong opinions on most issues which he would regale to customers.  We used the back room which was the drinking place of Dennis Webster the full-time Labour Party agent for Chesterfield.  I got to know Dennis well and would take him to cricket matches at Derby, Burton-on-Trent and Nottingham.  Dennis purchased Hansard and would sit in the pub annotating the publication.



Across the road from the Yellow Lion stood the Corner House, a mock-Tudor building.  Sometimes our drinking party would call in for a pint, but it was not a well patronised pub, so we would quickly make tracks for the Barley Mow.



The Corner House is shown also in this photograph, which shows the close proximity of the two pubs.

The pub was run by Tommy and Ennis Andrews.  Ennis ruled the pub with a rod of iron.  Tommy had a day job as a surface worker at Williamthorpe Colliery and also found time to keep a massive allotment in a walled garden behind the Friends Meeting House.  It was a busy, happy pub, redolent with characters, most of whom travelled a few miles to be there.  Cheese and onion sandwiches and black pudding on darts, cribbage and dominoes match nights, plenty of banter and good beer (Wards).

Saturday, 6 October 2012

The transfer of funds.

Put simply, taxation is the means by which people are forced to give money to an organisation, or suffer a legal penalty.  Every pound taken from me is done so on the basis of legal authority, whether it be income tax, VAT, council tax, road traffic tax or any others you may care to think of. Some taxes are described as charges: parking charges is one example.  I take the view that whenever a charge by a public body is more than the cost of providing a service it is in effect a tax.

No taxation without representation is one of the basic principles of a democratic society.  Governments do well to remember that their financial resources come from people forced to part with money.  Yes, governments can 'print' money by quantitative easing, but this simply devalues the coinage and is in effect a tax.  Yes, governments can  and do borrow money, but it has to be repaid.

See also:  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/pensions/9596938/Pension-annuities-in-freefall-due-to-money-printing.html

For contra opinion see:  http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/finance/jeremywarner/100020649/a-load-of-stuff-and-nonsense-is-being-said-about-qe-and-pensions/

One of the functions of government is the redistribution of money.  At a basic level the payment of benefits is redistribution of funds.  At another level, income tax bands result in more being taken from some individuals than others.  You may argue that corporation tax is not a tax on individuals, but it is, it reduces the amount available to pay dividends on shares and many shares are held by pension funds which in turn pay out pensions and annuities to individuals.

A few examples of redistribution.


  • Each year parish councils raise a precept and I am obliged legally to pay it.  In my parish the council is considering purchasing a building and turning it into a community centre, concentrating on youth activities.  I have no problem with this, if I had I would vote at the next election to oust the councillors in favour of the purchase.  The council has also awarded a grant to the local citizens' advice bureau.  Has this sum been ring-fenced so that it is used for CAB clients who live in my parish?  Probably not, however it is for the wider good that CABs have the funds to operate, so again I have no objection.

  • District and county councils redistribute funding by pouring resources into areas of deprivation, by provision for social services etc.  I might not live in such an area nor have need of social services, but I do not object to my money being used for these purposes, again for the public good.  However, I do object to a £400,00 pay-off for the ex Managing Director of Kent County Council which has seen some of my money put into the pocket of another person.  Come election time this latter action may influence my vote.

  • In the UK the government redistributes money through the annual local government settlement which is intended to target money to deprived areas.  A regular complaint is that Labour governments penalise shire counties whilst Tory governments do the opposite.  


All the above is undertaken from taxation, from the use of your and my money taken away from us. So, when MEPs, MPs and councillors wax lyrical in election addresses about what they have achieved for us, remember it is what they have achieved (or failed  to achieve)  with our money.