Thomas Paine

Thomas Paine
"These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman."

Friday, 16 April 2010

Labour to Win Most Seats?

An article in today's Telegraph suggests that Brown will win more seats at the general election than Cameron, even though the Tories have a 5 point lead according to a MORI poll taken from interviews during the period 19-22 February.

A 1% swing to the Tories, within the margin of error for a single poll, would give Cameron the most seats, however, as the Party gathers at Brighton tomorrow for their Spring conference, the members must be reflecting on 'how did it all go wrong' given that they had a 20 point lead back in the summer.

With so many indicators of appalling government since Labour took office, objectively, it is astonishing that Brown is not heading for certain defeat. Whether it is the nigh certain fact that Blair, supported by Brown, took us into an illegal war in Iraq; whether it is the fact that the British economy is clearly in worse shape than our main rivals demonstrating that Brown was a very poor Chancellor of the Exchequer; whether it is the deliberate act of, arguably, treason committed by purposely allowing 3 million immigrants into the country to 'change the ethnic composition of the country' or the general decline in NHS services as highlighted by the treatment of patients at the Stafford Hospital the voters seem to be unable find the courage to kick this malevolent government out.

And courage it is, for there is little doubt that in contrast to 'things can only get better' Blair, Brown's success has been built on fear. Whether it is his bullied staff, his attempt at discrediting his own Chancellor or the clear 'grip of terror' he has on the Labour MPs which has produced such an obedient group of the peoples representatives - it is fear which has brought him within sight of victory.

No doubt it was Mandelson, the Prince of Darkness, who has engineered this remarkable and undeserved recovery. By firstly not acknowledging the dreadful state of the nations finances and taking immediate remedial action, by refusing to admit that hefty savings will be needed in public services for years ahead and then the coup de grace - convincing many voters that the Tories will not only endanger the recovery by cutting expenditure too early, but will threaten everyone's prospect of employment and their level of pay.

Cameron and his team clearly have faults, however, as has regularly been shown by the latest piece of dreadful news, this has been a destructive administration which has, and will, only drag the nation further to its knees if allowed back into office. The nation needs a new broom to clear out the many dark practices which, no doubt, will come to light when a new administration comes to power.

Lets hope the electorate are not cowed by Brown and Mandelson's fear mongering and find the courage to kick out these dark and depressing dictators who exist only through negativity.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Labour becoming wobbly on immigration?

The Muslim peer Lord Ahmed has called for a tight rein to be kept on immigration because of the damage being done to race relations.

Although many have questioned Labour's clear intention to increase the nation's population through immigration because, apart from the cultural differences - this island is already heavily overpopulated, Labour's drive for multiculturalism now may be damaging their election prospects.

It was only a few weeks ago, Michael Howard warned of a rise of the BNP as a potential threat in a number of constituencies and that the mainstream parties should take this threat seriously.

Are the comments of this former Labour member the first in an attempt by the Party to recover ground from the BNP, who tend to threaten Labour seats more than the Tories or the Lib/Dems.

Interestingly, at a time when Hilary Benn is warning that food will become more scarce and that we must produce more ourselves because of the rise in the global population, Lord Ahmed said 'People say Europe needs 50 million immigrants in the next 30 or 40 years' - although he does not mention who these people are.

We need a mainstream Eurosceptic party

Last night on Newsnight John Redwood and Jon Moulton discussed the take over of the 160 year old Cadbury, by Kraft, with Jeremy Paxton - it was a depressing program for anyone who believes it is important to the nation that iconic British companies stay British owned, whether from a sense of national identity, or simply to protect the company against asset stripping and the loss of British jobs.

The program compared the take over of Terry’s, who make the Chocolate Orange, which was produced in York until Kraft took them over, but are now made in Poland, Sweden, Belgium and Slovakia with the loss of 350 jobs. As a member of the EU and since the government has made itself impotent in this respect, there is little or nothing that can be done to protect the 6000 employees who work at Cadbury. Since Kraft has borrowed heavily to buy the company it is assumed they will wish to make substantial savings.

Listening to John Redwood, a politician who believes in international free market capitalism, it is clear that, for him, this system is a sacred law and that we should just accept its ramifications. However, for a, virtually bankrupt,

nation such as ours, there is a real danger that British companies could be stripped bare over the ensuing years with a vast loss of British jobs or a substantial reduction in pay rates.

Although France do much more to protect their companies, they, as we, are governed by EU law, that was to much of an extent, designed to benefit global corporations and international capitalists. It does not take a genius to realise that, projected forward a few decades, rather than being a system which raises the standard of living for the people of those nations involved, it reduces the highest to the level of the lowest!

If there is a workforce in India, China or Eastern Europe who are prepared to work for less than British workers they had better watch out, for apart from those jobs which must be performed here, nothing is safe - truly economics red of tooth and claw.

Stuck as we are in the EU, it is only through a eurosceptic party that anything can be done to alleviate this situation. Having recovered our right to self determination, by leaving, significant protection could be introduced to prevent a large proportion of British workers from facing this threat.

One more reason for the eurosceptic parties to work hard to develop a party that can challenge the mainstream parties at Westminster - either by amalgamation or alliance.

I am worried about the Bank Traders and Shareholders.

The Tories offer to support President Obama’s measures intended to halt, or seriously reduce, bank’s ability to engage in risky activities such as proprietary trading [making bets with their own cash] and private equity led to British banks urging the Government not follow suit.

Lord Myners, the City minister, had said the President’s proposals were the solutions to ‘American issues’ saying.

"President Obama came out with a solution to the idiosyncratic problems that he sees in the American banking system which is around investment banking in particular," he said. "It's worth remembering that proprietary trading, hedge funds, private equity, these were not at the heart of the difficulties that Northern Rock, or Royal Bank of Scotland or HBOS experienced."

The Government and the British banks are hoping to gain business from the US by keeping UK rules less restrictive. They are working towards a solution where a levy on the banks to create a ‘rescue fund’, intended to be used so as to avoid taxpayers from having to bail them out again.

Thursday’s announcement by Obama had caused panic on the stock market whilst investors speculated on the impact of the measures on banks earnings. At one stage the loss in value of RBS meant that the value of the taxpayers holding dropped by £1.6 bn.

As the Independent reports.

“While the Government sought to calm fears that Britain would follow suit, investors' fears were further stoked after the Conservatives offered support for the plans. The shadow Chancellor, George Osborne, said in a radio interview: "The President of the US proposing this creates a lot of space for the rest of the world to come up with what will be a sensible system of rules and agreements."

At one point yesterday, Barclays – the British bank which is seen as likely to suffer the most damage from a crackdown because of its substantial investment banking activities in the US – lost a shade below 10 per cent of its value, while Royal Bank of Scotland gave up 8.6 per cent. One banker said: "You can understand why investors are nervous. They just don't know what the US Government is going to do next. It has introduced a huge degree of uncertainty. There is no clarity on how these proposals will work."

I am sure the public in general will be very concerned for bank traders and shareholder who might have to go through a lengthy period of worry before they know the full impact of this legislation.

Lord Pearson's vision for UKIP

In a remarkably frank interview with Iain Dale in 'totalpolitics', Lord Pearson outlined his plans for UKIP.

Perhaps the most innovative measure proposed is his wish to campaign on the single issue of Direct Democracy at the General Election. This does make a lot of sense insofar as it seems more likely that the voters will come out in their, necessary, droves to vote for a party which offers them the right to have some control of the political class - rather than in support of an in/out referendum on our membership of the EU.

This is particularly the case after the 'Expenses Scandal' has left voters with the distinct view that politicians are certainly not their 'betters' but, in many cases, have far less integrity than they do themselves and which they expect from their family and friends.

Whether the form of direct democracy proposed, described in the interview as 'the Daniel Hannan/Douglas Carswell plan' is the most suitable, can be left for another time, however, this is likely to get the electorate to sit up and take notice - once they understand the new powers they are being offered.

Having now seen political debates focusing on the UKIP's proposed burka ban, with Lord Pearson and Nigel Farage, I am becoming increasingly convinced that this policy should be dropped as it is divisive and almost impossible to defend. Presumably some examples of what could be changed by the people through direct democracy will be identified in the package - one of these could be the banning of burkas.

Lord Pearson suggests, in order to achieve a referendum on our membership of the EU through direct democracy, there will need to be a hung parliament and 'a complete re-alignment in British politics' - this does seem a tall order and one which is very unlikely to happen.

The solid commitment to our membership of the EU is unlikely to change within our political class, who will not give up the increased lucrative opportunities for self serving politicians without a fight. Lord Pearson's now rather old fashioned view of a political class whose primary wish is to serve their country is, unfortunately, no longer valid.

Quite why Lord Pearson expects that UKIP, presently little more than a Tory pressure group, would gain the publics trust as the standard bearer of such a fundamental change as the introduction of direct democracy - is something of a mystery. For such a system to be supported by the people, the standard bearer has to be seen as independent and primarily interested in the people - so it is firstly important that the party breaks its ties with the Conservatives so that it can attain this status.

UKIP's natural allies in this battle are the other anti EU parties and groups - also other pressure groups who believe they have programs of change the voters would support, but are not liked by the politicians - so are not likely to see the light of day.

These are early days and it will be interesting to see how the ambition to introduce this significantly different system of politics progresses, however it goes - lets hope that Lord Pearson will not lose his refreshing frankness.

Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of the Party - but which Party?

An opinion poll in yesterday’s Sunday Mirror shows that 3% of the voters are likely to vote for the BNP and 2% for UKIP. Although the margin for error is high - it is unlikely that all of the parties wishing to take the UK out of the EU, together, will total 10%.

This coupled to the fact Bob Ainsworth apparently let it slip that the General Election is planned for the 6th May, whether this is true or not, a general election must be held within little more than four months, and if Ainsworth’s slip was true - little more than three.

Since none of the eurosceptic parties have any chance of making an impact at this election and because they are so infrequent, would it not be a good idea if there were some agreement between them to maximise, and not split, the anti EU vote?

In the past UKIP had wanted to distinguish itself from the BNP by avoiding any reference to immigration - with its racial overtones. However, the ‘ban the burkha’ campaign has removed such considerations, immigration has to be confronted because it is now the second most important issue to the electorate - after the economy.

A simple agreement to share the constituencies between the two parties and, including the English Democrats alliance if possible, is likely to produce support of 5% and perhaps even close to 10%. The danger is, if a significant number do not support our leaving the EU at the election, the issue could sink without trace afterwards, unless there is a clear demonstration of the people’s wish for this issue, coupled to a desire to get immigration under control, to be addressed.

It can be argued that the eurosceptic vote will not be increased by this step - so why do it? However to see one of these parties featuring in the election results with between 5 - 10%, it does remind the public that this issue has not gone away just because the Lisbon Treaty has been ratified and is now in force. Fighting the election as the UKIP/BNP Alliance would make this even clearer, because the 5 - 10% would then show as a national result, not just in constituencies.

Given, it must now be acknowledged that none of the anti EU parties are going to do well in the sense that they will be challenging the Lib/Dems for the place of the third most popular party - is there any point of any of these parties having policies beyond the two issues, most important to the electorate - our EU membership and the immigration? If Direct Democracy were added, as previously argued, so that the many other issues the parties favour could, effectively, be included - would not the vote increase? For unless any other policy was particularly popular, these policies are likely to decrease support, because individual voters may dislike some or all of these.

The real problem, to such an alliance, is UKIP’s strategy of wishing to achieve change through acting as a Tory pressure group, hoping to change their policy to one of eurosceptic and this to be demonstrated by offering an in/out referendum on our membership. Clearly this would be a decisive change if the party did make the absolute commitment to becoming a mainstream party. A change, which, had it been made some years ago, would probably have seen the party challenging the Lib/Dems on its own account, instead of having to rely on an alliance with the BNP to to make a lesser impact.

Where is our Obama?

After Obama’s remarkable victory in the Presidential elections last year, it was something of a surprise to see the Republican Scott Brown win in Massachusetts - thereby removing Obama’s so-called super-majority of 60 seats that makes filibustering by the Republicans impossible.

As the
Independent reports: “Tuesday's stunning loss of a seemingly rock-solid Senate seat in Massachusetts suggests voters' anger is now directed with equal ferocity against Mr Obama and the Democrats. In fact, one crucial element has not changed: Americans' disillusion and exasperation with the way their government works.

Many factors contributed to the came-from-nowhere victory of Scott Brown. He was an excellent candidate; a relative outsider, a natural communicator and infectiously energetic. Maybe too the electorate felt that however hallowed the memory of Ted Kennedy, after almost half a century it was time for real change. "This is the people's seat," Mr Brown declared in his victory speech, not a sinecure to be handed down from one generation of Democrats to another.

The faltering economy, stagnant earnings and a jobless rate of 10 per cent added to the rebellious mood. Another element, unquestionably, was the increasingly unpopular health care measure pushed by Mr Obama and the Democratic majority on Congress, now opposed by a majority of Americans.”

Last night on
Newsnight, Howard Dean, the chairman of the Democrats, who created the ‘50 State Strategy’ that Obama employed in his successful campaign, made it clear that the US voters do not now fall into a two party mould, which the US Constitution was designed for - half the voters are now independents and independents who are enraged at the institutional rooted government which the nation must endure. Hence any candidate which can appeal to this group has a very good chance of victory. Scott Brown barely mentioned ‘Republican’.

Dean said the electorate in the UK were similarly independently minded with the same anger at institutional bias by government. This seems a fair comment since the turnout at the last two General Election has fallen to around 60% compared to an average post war average of 75% prior to Labour coming to office, demonstrating that many ‘would be voters’ don’t bother because the do not believe a change in the administration will make any difference.

In the US there are various groups trying to work out how to channel this desire of the people to throw off their corrupt politicians and to get real change within their two party system. Here, where we do not have the same constraints, the way is open for a politician who can respond to the mood of the voters and who could make great strides at the next General Election towards overturning this institutional bias. This could be achieved through matters such as our EU membership and unwanted immigration where the mainstream parties are not offering the voters what they want.

Where is our Obama equivalent?

Why can't UKIP be honest about Immigration?

UKIP's new policy announcement on banning burkas is, in some ways, to be welcomed. It shows that the Party does wish to become engaged with the second most important issue to the electorate - immigration. However, by approaching it in such a furtive manner, they are in danger of losing more votes than they gain.

We have been brainwashed into believing that not wanting our country over-run with people born overseas is somehow a sin - that we are racist. However, isn't it the most natural reaction to be against your, already over-crowded island, becoming more crowded through immigration - irrespective of the migrant's land of birth?

Why is multiculturalism such a virtue? Certainly, for nations like the USA, which have been populated by peoples from many nations - it is very important that those from different cultures learn to live together and in harmony. However, to deliberately create a multicultural nation, with all the dangers this brings and for no good reason - seems the height of madness.

I would be very surprised if there are many who would want millions more to settle here, in fact quite the reverse - they would like a good proportion of those already here to return home. This does not make these people racist any more than parents, who have been obliged to take in their children's families because of homelessness and who look forward to their departure - 'offspring haters'.

Why don't we say this is the case? We are supposed to be a democracy, this means that the government, or a prospective government, should heed our wishes - or not be elected. Quite why this Labour government choose to open our borders to virtually any one who wished to live here is a mystery, with plenty of conspiracy theories to explain - any of which might be true. However, all that is important is that the people want less immigrants and it is down to the government to find ways to encourage many of the migrants to leave and to allow in only those with desperately needed skills.

So come on UKIP dump this divisive burka policy and tackle the problem head on - give the people what they want.

Would a hung Parliament be the best outcome?

Now that campaigning is in full flight for all political parties, it is unlikely that any real sense will now emerge until after the General Election results have been announced. Each party has, more or less, set out its stall and it will be more adjustment than significant new policy that will emerge from now until polling day.

This is also the case because of the nation’s desperate financial plight. The main parties have offered all they can in terms of new expenditure, all they can now do is to explain what services are to be cut in order to try to get the nation’s finances back on their feet. This will be not be easy, but one thing is for sure - it will be painful for many and front line services will have to be cut. Efficiency saving will be possible, but the bill is too high for these alone to provide what is necessary.

Although it was always going to be a difficult task, it did look as if Cameron’s Tories were going to manage to overturn Labour’s large majority and have an overall majority, however, polls have shown the Tory’s popularity has reduced since Christmas, when a Tory overall majority seemed certain, to a point where now a ‘hung parliament’ is on the cards. Clearly Cameron would rather work with one or some of the smaller parties, if just a few seats are required, as they know the Lib/Dems will demand a much larger ‘piece of the action’ than a small party would.

Although, traditionally, the Lib/Dems would choose to work with Labour, they did announce that they would firstly offer a partnership with the party which won the most seats. Barring any major mishaps, this will be the Tories and although it is generally thought that a party with a good majority is likely to produce the best government, perhaps it would be good for the country if Cameron had to work with Clegg and Cable.

Our financial state at present is so perilous it justifies a government of national unity - having the two parties working together may benefit the nation. There is no doubt that George Osborne appears to be the weal link on the Tory front bench and Chancellor of the Exchequer will be the key position - we simply cannot afford to have any serious mistakes made. Vince Cable has demonstrated statesmanlike qualities during the current parliament - these are just the qualities needed to see us through to better times.

As more is becoming known about Brown’s leadership style and his fitness to lead at all, the image of a man who took to politics as a personal career emerges. This he measured by the rank he attains in government, rather than how he has improved the lot of the people.

The Expenses Scandal has demonstrated that politicians in general have become most focussed on their own personal interests, particularly throughout this Labour administration and it is sad to see what was once considered a more noble profession, sink to such depths.

Self interest has become generally more prominent throughout society, no doubt fuelled by the ‘greed is good’ culture of the 80’s. However in our present dire predicament we sorely need a government set on restoring our fortunes - not one whose members are looking, primarily, to benefit themselves.

Is Direct Democracy the Silver Bullet?

Within the eurosceptic movement, and to a fair extent without, there is a great dissatisfaction with government - but there does seem to be a resigned acceptance that nothing can be done. We know that there are hard times ahead once the next, whatever government, comes into power the likelihood is that people’s standard of living, in very real terms, will reduce significantly. Those with a needed speciality will be immune to a fair degree, but those who are easily replaced will feel the pressure, probably in terms of performance expectation, from their employer.

The eurosceptic movement offers the best hope of resistance, but each of these small parties can do nothing alone for the only meaningful measure now is seats at Westminster. Apart from Nigel Farage for UKIP and Nick Griffin, plus perhaps a couple more for the BNP - the most likely outcome is that no eurosceptic party will have any representation in the House of Commons after the General Election.

These parties are not amalgamating or forming successful alliances and apart from this, many have internal conflicts which slow down progress. Lord Pearson was right, those involved in the eurosceptic movement are strongly minded individuals which means it is very difficult to get them to agree on anything.

Surely it must be dawning on the leadership of all these parties that another General Election is about to pass by without material gain. Status quo will once again be established and a small group of the political class will be in charge, probably directed by an even smaller group of the wealthy elite. These are not generally very concerned about the hardships the people suffer, for in the main, their concern is winning power, profit and their careers.

If any alliance is to be formed, to have any hope of agreement, the policies around which they group must be few and very popular with the electorate. Since these are eurosceptic parties, an in/out referendum on the EU is a certain policy - few voters will object to such a referendum and many would welcome it. A promise to halt immigration, except for critically needed skills, and I would argue - measures to encourage many of those who have arrived in recent years to return to their land of birth. For there are very strong indictors that the amount of surplus food available from exporters will be reducing as the global population continues its rapid growth and we can, presently, feed only 60% of our poulation. These, with the addition of direct democracy, would complete the policies for the alliance.

It is of note, that none of these policies are presently being offered by the mainstream parties. Direct democracy is the route by which the other policies of the eurosceptic parties can be achieved. If a petition can be raised with x% of the voters signatures - then a referendum must be held on that issue.

Whether you want an English parliament, Christian values, a lifting of the smoking ban, the right of gays to adopt or not adopt, a ban on the Burka, a separate government for each region or a single government, or whether you want greater or less representation by women in government, if you think fox hunting should remain banned or re-established, if you think their should be more or less local government etc, etc, etc - each could be determined by referendum. Direct democracy would create change - the question to be answered is whether you would prefer changes to be determined by the people or by a small elite who do not want very much to change at all?

It seems to me that unless such an alliance is formed, there is little chance of power being removed from those who govern us - now or any time soon. It does seem the way a peaceful revolution could be achieved.