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."

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Britain will be weaker without EU, says USA

Yesterday, it was reported in the Telegraph that the US Administration was concerned at the prospect of the UK leaving the EU – following Cameron’s announcement, on Monday, that this was an imaginable outcome of the current concerns by the public on this matter.

UKIP should be congratulated in creating the circumstances whereby the issue has been pushed up the agenda by recording its highest ever rating in a recent ComRes survey, moving up from 6% to 9% in the past month – even if their greater popularity, mostly at the expense of the Tories, is likely to ensure a Labour victory at the next General Election and a move ‘closer to the heart of Europe’.

What the article does help to explain is why successive prime ministers have avoided holding a referendum on the subject, over many years, even though at times there has been a huge desire by the people – not only for a referendum, but a clear majority wishing to leave. In fact this was the very reason UKIP was originally formed back in 1991.

Perhaps the greatest demonstration of this defiance of the will of the people was by Gordon Brown when he ratified the Lisbon Treaty, which was accurately described by the Sun with the headline – ‘Britain betrayed as hated EU Treaty becomes law’ after the Czech president, Vaclav Klaus, signed in November 2009 it went on to explain:

‘Only Britain’s most fundamental abilities to defend itself and set taxes is not affected by [the] Lisbon [Treaty] with our veto on defence and fiscal policy not affected.’

Klaus, who had held out from signing the treaty for nearly two years and according to the Sun ‘echoed the fears of many Britons after signing through gritted teeth [!].

He said in Prague: “With the Lisbon Treaty taking effect, the Czech Republic will cease to be a sovereign state.”‘

The extent of Brown’s betrayal was known at the time for the ‘I Want a Referendum’ campaign had balloted more than 150,000 people and this showed that 88% of these wanted a referendum on the Treaty. At the time around two thirds, of those who had expressed an opinion, had said they would vote against the Treaty being ratified if a referendum had been held.

Although from time to time there are highly controversial issues that arise in politics – this was stark, particularly since Brown’s decision to ratify was not of a temporary agreement – this Treaty was the final act in a process designed to bring ever closer union among the people of Europe permanently.

Why would Brown, an unelected prime minister, be prepared to take such an immense step? We had seen at the time leading to the Iraq war how, following a visit to the US, Blair had become President Bush’s poodle with regard to this illegal war – was Brown just following in the steps of his predecessor? This does not quite fit with Brown’s reputation for stubbornness.

The advantage or disadvantage to the nation of being part of the EU was not clear then – as is the case now – so it is difficult to believe this was his motivation. However, what is very likely true is that our highly ambitious leading politicians would not wish to lose their current overblown status which allows them to stride the world stage and make grave statements, reported throughout the global media, by becoming just the leader of a middle ranking and declining nation whose primary concern was to improve the wellbeing of the people of these islands.

It seems unlikely we will ever regain our sovereignty and have the ability to govern the nation for the benefit of the people under the present form of representative democracy. Some form of Direct Democracy is needed whereby the people are engaged in the decisions made by the government so that the ambitions of our politicians are not allowed to determine, alone, what laws and international agreements are made.

If such a system can be introduced - there is every chance that democracy could be reintroduced and the nation governed in accordance with the 'Will of the People'.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Why not ‘We Demand Referenda’?

It is good to see the new party ‘We Demand a Referendum’ has been formed – it is reminiscent of James Goldsmith’s Referendum Party that stood at the 1997 General Election on the single issue of a referendum on our membership of the EU. However, sadly, it is almost certain to suffer the same fate as Goldsmith’s party – this stood in 546 constituencies, finished fourth and received around 3% of the vote.

Goldsmith, a billionaire, could afford to produce a 12 minute video tape warning of the dangers of a EU federal superstate, a threat now of almost imminent danger, which was delivered to five million households – this may not be possible for WDAR because of the high cost involved. Had Goldsmith’s Party continued, it may have gradually achieved more votes, but UKIP effectively took up the cause after 1997 and initially as a single issue party – they never seriously challenged the traditional parties.

Although UKIP has found greater success with the steadying hand and funds of Stuart Wheeler, who has broadened the Party’s appeal with better thought through policies, it is still a right-wing party and although opposition to our membership of the EU comes mainly from the right, a recent poll shows that 44% of Labour Party members are against our membership with 39% in favour.

As a right-wing Party, UKIP still can only act as a pressure group to the Tories, as it is likely to be impossible for them to garner enough of the left-wing vote to win the seats necessary, at a General Election, to become any kind of force in the House of Commons. Their support will come primarily from traditional Tory voters so, should the electorate become sufficiently concerned at the UK being drawn into an EU federal superstate, their success will be at the detriment of the Tory vote – which will lose any seat that UKIP might gain. UKIP would certainly not be viewed as a potential partner in coalition by the Labour Party.

The history of the Referendum Party and UKIP has demonstrated that concern over the single issue of our membership of a federal EU superstate has not been strong enough to over-shadow voters concern for the economy – which is always the most important issue to the electorate. This explains why Labour and the Tories are always returned as the largest parties – they are seen as the only parties with the experience necessary to manage the economy.

Even now, with the formation a United States of Europe looming and likely to be completed some time during the lifetime of the next UK parliament, although the split between those who want to leave the EU and those who want to stay is 65/35% – UKIP, the only party seen as against our membership by the vast majority, is very unlikely to win a single seat at the next general election.

It is only a party like ‘We Demand a Referendum’ that can hope to accumulate enough votes actually to win a general election, but only if they add demands for a referendum on the many other issues where the main parties policies are against the wishes of the people. Certainly high on this list is that of immigration where, if a referendum were held, not only would the majority want immigration to be halted, but also the introduction of measures encouraging the most recent immigrants to return to their nation of birth is likely to gain overwhelming popular support.

Another issue likely to be supported, by the majority in England, is the introduction of an English Parliament, in one form or another. The difficulty experienced in deporting Abu Hamza and others would also likely find strong support for the withdrawal from the European Court of Human Rights. Concern over the privatisation of the NHS is also likely to find returning this to its previous form a popular move – as would be the right of constituents to recall their Member of Parliament, should they wish.

There are, no doubt, many other issues that the electorate would like to be able to decide by referendum and the significant difference between a party like ‘We Demand a Referendum’ adding further issues to be decided in this way is that each promised referendum will increase the popularity of the party – for few voters object to be included in the decision making process. Also there are many issues that select groups feel passionately about and would be prepared to be highly active in support of a party that promised them a referendum. This contrasts with a party, like UKIP, who, if they add further ‘decided’ policies to their manifesto – are likely to lose the support of many of their existing supporters – those against the newly added policy.

We are now at a unique time – the main parties have been thoroughly discredited, either during this or the previous administrations. An effective United States of Europe will almost certainly be formed during the lifetime of the next parliament and, if one of the main parties form the government, they will definitely act against the will of the people in relationship to this body.

Only by pulling together the majority of small parties and major pressure groups, by offering referenda on all of the significant issues of our time, is there any chance of amassing a party with sufficient support to provide a government representing the will of the people – during this highly significant period in our history.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Will Hope, Like a Soufflé, Rises Only Once

According to the BBC, a report by The Resolution Foundation argues that millions of poor and middle-income households may be bypassed by any economic recovery, should there be one, and that their living standards could stagnate for the next 10 years, ending no higher in 2020 than they were in 2000.

This is bad news for the government, for these poor and middle-income households are not the condemned unemployed or benefit cheats, they are those who are following the government’s advice and are working hard to succeed during these difficult times.

It is bad news in the sense that the majority of these people have no hope of improving their standard of living, the primary purpose of life in an acutely materialistic society, but they also represent a great many votes of people who are unlikely to be supportive of any party that does not offer some hope of improvement.

The findings of the Foundations are hardly surprising, predictions of years of austerity measures and the experiences of the majority have already created a sense of hopelessness and the measures the Foundation have put forward are obviously little more than ‘sticking plaster’ remedies. For hope to rise, clearly there needs to be a major shift in approach, something that none of the main parties are likely to offer.

When the Coalition came to power, there was a chance that the nation would come together in an attempt to save a bankrupt nation – a crisis that was rightly blamed on the previous Labour administration that had tried to deny that the dreadful state of the nation’s finances – making no attempt to reduce expenditure – in the hope of winning the general election. As with most of the problems arising from the activities of government, the desperate desire to remain in office often creates a madness which leads to appalling decisions being taken.

This goodwill towards the incoming Coalition began to be lost when, despite correctly allocating the blame on the previous government, Cameron decided to pick on the unemployed – implying that they were not trying hard enough to get the few jobs that did exist. Whereas employers must be delighted to have thousands of job applications for the few jobs available and being able to apply harsh terms on those selected, it was obvious that this frantic effort by the unemployed would not create jobs – merely add to their misery as they were rejected time and time again.

Coupled to this wrongly attributed blame, was the clear intent to ensure that the pain did not fall evenly across society. The corporation tax rate was reduced, as was the tax rate for the highest earners and, perhaps most galling, the global corporations who had been allowed to buy up so many traditionally British companies, were allowed to take advantage of the tax laws and pay a fraction of the rate of tax that would be paid by a small or medium sized British business.

Virtually all large corporations, including those of the UK, were shown to be using tax havens to reduce their tax liability and whilst public services were being reduced and privatised the very need for these measures was being accentuated by the failure to collect tax from these global giants – who are to be the beneficiaries of the program of privatisation!

Net immigration, that was promised to be cut to the tens of thousands, by Cameron, is probably still running at more than 200,000 each year – and incredibly the true amount is not known. At times of high unemployment, this influx of additional workers is infuriating, particularly to those who cannot get a job – disregarding the additional pressures placed on already over-stretched housing, education, health and other public services.

Most people are aware that many of those who migrate to the UK cannot be stopped because we are a member of the EU which allows free movement of EU citizens between member states. However, it is obvious that there are many here who come from beyond the EU and although the majority in the UK wish for us to leave the EU, so that our borders can be reclaimed – none of the main parties are offering an ‘in’ or ‘out’ referendum.

The Coalition did have a golden opportunity to put many things right on assuming office, but it has been clear the measures taken have followed Tory ideology, giving every advantage to the wealthiest and big business at the expense of the people, that Cameron has almost ensured the return of Labour at the next election – something that even the most optimistic Labour supporter could not have contemplated less than three years ago. It does not matter what the Coalition does now – their chance has gone – for hope, like a soufflé, rises only once.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Zero hours contracts for NHS trusts

Today’s Independent reports that ‘zero hours’ contracts are being used increasingly for key clinical staff in NHS trusts.

Whereas it can be argued that the State might reasonably require individuals who are receiving Jobseeker’s Allowance to work some hours each week within the public service sector, the schemes that are being put in place are a great deal more than this they seem more like a punishment of the unemployed for not having a job – even though there are clearly not enough jobs.

Although most people may believe that the benefit system inherited by the Coalition was too generous to those without work, there has been a remarkable turnaround in the Government’s attitude towards the lack of jobs since Brown left office. When Cameron became PM there was no doubt that the lack of jobs was seen as the responsibility of government to correct.

Since the majority of the unemployed did want work they were viewed as unfortunate – victims of a downturn in the global economy. However, within a remarkably short time the Coalition, and the Tories in particular, have managed to put the blame onto the unemployed despite the fact that there are not enough jobs for the numbers out of work.

Through schemes such as ‘zero hours contracts’ those unfortunate to be unemployed have been reduced in number and turned into a resource for global corporations to exploit. In the three months to June the number unemployed fell by 46k to a a rate of 8.0% from 8.2% in the previous quarter. However, the number working part-time was up 16k to 1.42m – the highest since records began in 1992.

G4S, of Olympics notoriety, is one of the global corporations responsible for this practice. It is easy to take a nonchalant view of this increasingly used practice on the grounds that at least more people have some work which is helping to bring down the cost of so many unemployed. However, when it is recognised that the service provided by these global corporations create healthy profits for the directors and shareholder which are unlikely to be taxed at anything like the rate that is paid by small and medium sized UK businesses because of the use of tax havens.

So although the UK taxpayer may benefit from a lower cost for the unemployed, a good deal of the savings are simply passing into the hands of private investors of which, in too many cases only a small proportion is taxed.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

A gift to all Republicans

Although there is a general understanding of the Queen’s right to be consulted, to encourage, and to warn the government of the day through regular audiences with the Prime Minister, this article in the Guardian shows that she and Prince Charles’ power over new laws is greater than thought. Apparently any new proposal that might adversely affect their private interests must be approved by them before they are passed into law.

Most would see the monarch’s right be consulted on the administration’s proposed solutions to current issues as being a valuable extra check on the government of the day and particularly in the case of the present Queen whose knowledge, built up over many years, must be to the nation’s advantage. Indeed ex prime ministers have remarked that, in the case of particularly vexed issues, to be able to speak with the Queen – knowing absolute confidentiality would be maintained – has been a singular advantage. However, that legislation that might adversely affect her or Prince Charles’ private interests must be approved by them before it passes into law does detract from what can be seen as broadly a positive aspect in the process of government.

The Queen does have the power to withhold ratification [Royal Assent] from any Bill – but this has not been refused since the creation of the United Kingdom in 1707 and would be seen as an extreme act under a system where the sovereign is expected to act on the advice of her ministers. However, this right to protect her and Prince Charles’ private interests could possibly become the focus of discontent during the current austere times.

An article in the Mail nearly two years ago showed that a third of the country still is owned by the aristocracy who make up just 0.6% of the total population. In times where there are not enough jobs and this is likely to be the case for many years to come, the passing of significant parts of this land to the nation be become small holdings for families without work would bring great relief to a considerable number of the people.

Blair should face trial over Iraq war

Writing in today’s Observer, Archbishop Desmond Tutu has called for Blair and Bush to face the international criminal court in the Hague over the US/UK led invasion of Iraq. Accusing them of lying about the threat from Saddam with regard to weapons of mass destruction and thereby creating a backdrop for the Syrian civil war and a wider Middle East conflict,

Tutu argues that ”The then leaders of the United States and Great Britain, fabricated the grounds to behave like playground bullies and drive us further apart. They have driven us to the edge of a precipice where we now stand – with the spectre of Syria and Iran before us.”

There is certainly something highly dubious about western powers encouraging opposition groups to rise up against these Middle Eastern dictatorships. It might be that the people are severely repressed, but the danger of supporting any of the opposing groups is that there is no certainty that the new group, having come to power, will be any less repressive than their predecessors – and what is certain is that thousands of innocent civilians, frequently women and children, will be killed or maimed in the process.

Tutu is one of the few high profile international figures able to make such accusations. The 80 year old cleric and Nobel Peace Prize winner, who came to prominence during the 80′s in the struggle against apartheid, is expressing what millions must think.

How strange that Tutu should make these accusations now when plans are afoot to honour Blair with a portrait bust in the House of Commons. Apparently there is a bust of every PM in the members’ lobby since 1900 and it is the tradition that these portraits are commissioned once the PM has left office and their party is out of power – so expect one of Brown to be commissioned soon after Blair’s is in place!

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

'Our Alien Heritage' [Alien Origins] Lloyd Pye - Are we all Hybrids? Ancient Alien Intervention?

From YouTube:

"Lloyd Pye is at the forefront of research into human origins from alien sources. His Intervention Theory proposes that human DNA is not of this world.

Using remarkable scientific analysis, Lloyd Pye makes a strong case in this presentation filmed at the International Scientific and Metaphysical Symposium in Australia.

A double feature, this DVD also includes Lloyd Pye's take on the mysterious 900 year-old skull of a child that shows evidence of an alien race once having walked planet Earth.

Judge for yourself the amazing and in-depth research and evidence brought to light by this incredible researcher.

* Did aliens once walk this planet?

* Are we the result of some ancient genetic plan?

* Is the evidence really there?"

Friday, 22 June 2012

An intriguing postulation - Where Did The Towers Go

Dr. Judy Wood at New Horizons - Where Did The Towers Go

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Does Anarchy Beckon?

The social unrest, economic gloom and austerity in Europe today mirrors one of the greatest crises in British history, says the historian Michael Wood.
The news from Europe is getting worse by the day. Economic gloom across the continent and multiple crises in the currency zone.
With rising unemployment and inflation there are riots in the streets with forecasts of anarchy in some parts of western Europe.
And along with the simmering discontent there is a worrying rise of radical groups and populist right wing movements. In the fringes, secessionists are pushing for independence, indeed for the break up of the whole European order under which we have all lived secure and comfortable for so long.
At home in Britain there are worrying signs in every town – cuts in public services have led to closures of public baths and libraries, the failure of road maintenance, breakdowns in the food supply and civic order.
While political commentators and church leaders talk about a “general decline in morality” and “public apathy”, the rich retreat to their mansions and country estates and hoard their cash.
It all sounds eerily familiar doesn’t it? But this is not Angela Merkel’s eurozone – it is Roman Britannia towards the year 400, the period of the fall of the Roman Empire.
The very real danger, today, is that important groups of workers will simply lose interest, because they find it impossible to manage on their income, and not turn up for work or they will be organised by the Unions to hold the nation to ransom. In a complex society that relies so heavily on imports and a sophisticated transport system to provide food – starvation and the rebellion that would cause – is never far away.
As we see from the Greek experience, the rich are quite relaxed to see the people, who did not create the problem in their economy, starve. That they believe that continued harsh treatment will succeed, seems to be a major misunderstanding of the human species.
It is because it is so obvious that the rich are rapidly becoming richer as the poor become poorer, that this injustice is likely to be the fuel for rebellion.
A rise in the rate of tax on the highest earners and progressively higher rates of corporation tax for businesses, the greater their profits, is likely to be the only solutions that calm these underlying resentments. However, the likelihood that such measures will be considered before it is too late, is remote in these times when greed [the desire to have far more than you need] has become the accepted and expected motive force for action.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Bilderberg 2012 - Chantilly, Virginia, USA

Charlie Skelton is once again covering this annual event for the Guardian. One of the key issues for him is the absence of the mainstream media, who have failed to report these meetings since there beginnings in May 1954 in any substance. However, he does acknowledge the Washington Times sent Ben Wolfgang this year filing a decent report.

That the mainstream media do not cover the event might be connected to the fact that the owners of the main news outlets are part of the Bilderberg Group and are therefore constrained by the conditions of membership - not to reveal what is discussed or any sources.

Once again Alex Jones of Infowars provides a list of Participants - although these are now officially disclosed - however there is a strong view expressed that others, more in the public eye such as politicians, do attend but do so discretely:


FRA Castries, Henri de Chairman and CEO, AXA Group

DEU Ackermann, Josef Chairman of the Management Board and the Group Executive Committee, Deutsche Bank AG
GBR Agius, Marcus Chairman, Barclays plc
USA Ajami, Fouad Senior Fellow, The Hoover Institution, Stanford University
USA Alexander, Keith B. Commander, US Cyber Command; Director, National Security Agency
INT Almunia, Joaquín Vice-President – Commissioner for Competition, European Commission
USA Altman, Roger C. Chairman, Evercore Partners
PRT Amado, Luís Chairman, Banco Internacional do Funchal (BANIF)
NOR Andresen, Johan H. Owner and CEO, FERD
FIN Apunen, Matti Director, Finnish Business and Policy Forum EVA
TUR Babacan, Ali Deputy Prime Minister for Economic and Financial Affairs
PRT Balsemão, Francisco Pinto President and CEO, Impresa; Former Prime Minister
FRA Baverez, Nicolas Partner, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP
FRA Béchu, Christophe Senator, and Chairman, General Council of Maine-et-Loire
BEL Belgium, H.R.H. Prince Philippe of
TUR Berberoğlu, Enis Editor-in-Chief, Hürriyet Newspaper
ITA Bernabè, Franco Chairman and CEO, Telecom Italia
GBR Boles, Nick Member of Parliament
SWE Bonnier, Jonas President and CEO, Bonnier AB
NOR Brandtzæg, Svein Richard President and CEO, Norsk Hydro ASA
AUT Bronner, Oscar Publisher, Der Standard Medienwelt
SWE Carlsson, Gunilla Minister for International Development Cooperation
CAN Carney, Mark J. Governor, Bank of Canada
ESP Cebrián, Juan Luis CEO, PRISA; Chairman, El País
AUT Cernko, Willibald CEO, UniCredit Bank Austria AG
FRA Chalendar, Pierre André de Chairman and CEO, Saint-Gobain
DNK Christiansen, Jeppe CEO, Maj Invest
RUS Chubais, Anatoly B. CEO, OJSC RUSNANO
CAN Clark, W. Edmund Group President and CEO, TD Bank Group
GBR Clarke, Kenneth Member of Parliament, Lord Chancellor and Secretary of Justice
USA Collins, Timothy C. CEO and Senior Managing Director, Ripplewood Holdings, LLC
ITA Conti, Fulvio CEO and General Manager, Enel S.p.A.
USA Daniels, Jr., Mitchell E. Governor of Indiana
USA DeMuth, Christopher Distinguished Fellow, Hudson Institute
USA Donilon, Thomas E. National Security Advisor, The White House
GBR Dudley, Robert Group Chief Executive, BP plc
ITA Elkann, John Chairman, Fiat S.p.A.
DEU Enders, Thomas CEO, Airbus
USA Evans, J. Michael Vice Chairman, Global Head of Growth Markets, Goldman Sachs & Co.
AUT Faymann, Werner Federal Chancellor
DNK Federspiel, Ulrik Executive Vice President, Haldor Topsøe A/S
USA Ferguson, Niall Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History, Harvard University
GBR Flint, Douglas J. Group Chairman, HSBC Holdings plc
CHN Fu, Ying Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs
IRL Gallagher, Paul Former Attorney General; Senior Counsel
USA Gephardt, Richard A. President and CEO, Gephardt Group
GRC Giannitsis, Anastasios Former Minister of Interior; Professor of Development and International Economics, University of Athens
USA Goolsbee, Austan D. Professor of Economics, University of Chicago Booth School of Business
USA Graham, Donald E. Chairman and CEO, The Washington Post Company
ITA Gruber, Lilli Journalist – Anchorwoman, La 7 TV
INT Gucht, Karel de Commissioner for Trade, European Commission
NLD Halberstadt, Victor Professor of Economics, Leiden University; Former Honorary Secretary General of Bilderberg Meetings
USA Harris, Britt CIO, Teacher Retirement System of Texas
USA Hoffman, Reid Co-founder and Executive Chairman, LinkedIn
CHN Huang, Yiping Professor of Economics, China Center for Economic Research, Peking University
USA Huntsman, Jr., Jon M. Chairman, Huntsman Cancer Foundation
DEU Ischinger, Wolfgang Chairman, Munich Security Conference; Global Head Government Relations, Allianz SE
RUS Ivanov, Igor S. Associate member, Russian Academy of Science; President, Russian International Affairs Council
FRA Izraelewicz, Erik CEO, Le Monde
USA Jacobs, Kenneth M. Chairman and CEO, Lazard
USA Johnson, James A. Vice Chairman, Perseus, LLC
USA Jordan, Jr., Vernon E. Senior Managing Director, Lazard
USA Karp, Alexander CEO, Palantir Technologies
USA Karsner, Alexander Executive Chairman, Manifest Energy, Inc
FRA Karvar, Anousheh Inspector, Inter-ministerial Audit and Evaluation Office for Social, Health, Employment and Labor Policies
RUS Kasparov, Garry Chairman, United Civil Front (of Russia)
GBR Kerr, John Independent Member, House of Lords
USA Kerry, John Senator for Massachusetts
TUR Keyman, E. Fuat Director, Istanbul Policy Center and Professor of International Relations, Sabanci University
USA Kissinger, Henry A. Chairman, Kissinger Associates, Inc.
USA Kleinfeld, Klaus Chairman and CEO, Alcoa
TUR Koç, Mustafa Chairman, Koç Holding A.Ş.
DEU Koch, Roland CEO, Bilfinger Berger SE
INT Kodmani, Bassma Member of the Executive Bureau and Head of Foreign Affairs, Syrian National Council
USA Kravis, Henry R. Co-Chairman and Co-CEO, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co.
USA Kravis, Marie-Josée Senior Fellow, Hudson Institute
INT Kroes, Neelie Vice President, European Commission; Commissioner for Digital Agenda
USA Krupp, Fred President, Environmental Defense Fund
INT Lamy, Pascal Director-General, World Trade Organization
ITA Letta, Enrico Deputy Leader, Democratic Party (PD)
ISR Levite, Ariel E. Nonresident Senior Associate, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
USA Li, Cheng Director of Research and Senior Fellow, John L. Thornton China Center, Brookings Institution
USA Lipsky, John Distinguished Visiting Scholar, Johns Hopkins University
USA Liveris, Andrew N. President, Chairman and CEO, The Dow Chemical Company
DEU Löscher, Peter President and CEO, Siemens AG
USA Lynn, William J. Chairman and CEO, DRS Technologies, Inc.
GBR Mandelson, Peter Member, House of Lords; Chairman, Global Counsel
USA Mathews, Jessica T. President, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
DEN Mchangama, Jacob Director of Legal Affairs, Center for Political Studies (CEPOS)
CAN McKenna, Frank Deputy Chair, TD Bank Group
USA Mehlman, Kenneth B. Partner, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co.
GBR Micklethwait, John Editor-in-Chief, The Economist
FRA Montbrial, Thierry de President, French Institute for International Relations
PRT Moreira da Silva, Jorge First Vice-President, Partido Social Democrata (PSD)
USA Mundie, Craig J. Chief Research and Strategy Officer, Microsoft Corporation
DEU Nass, Matthias Chief International Correspondent, Die Zeit
NLD Netherlands, H.M. the Queen of the
ESP Nin Génova, Juan María Deputy Chairman and CEO, Caixabank
IRL Noonan, Michael Minister for Finance
USA Noonan, Peggy Author, Columnist, The Wall Street Journal
FIN Ollila, Jorma Chairman, Royal Dutch Shell, plc
USA Orszag, Peter R. Vice Chairman, Citigroup
GRC Papalexopoulos, Dimitri Managing Director, Titan Cement Co.
NLD Pechtold, Alexander Parliamentary Leader, Democrats ’66 (D66)
USA Perle, Richard N. Resident Fellow, American Enterprise Institute
NLD Polman, Paul CEO, Unilever PLC
CAN Prichard, J. Robert S. Chair, Torys LLP
ISR Rabinovich, Itamar Global Distinguished Professor, New York University
GBR Rachman, Gideon Chief Foreign Affairs Commentator, The Financial Times
USA Rattner, Steven Chairman, Willett Advisors LLC
CAN Redford, Alison M. Premier of Alberta
CAN Reisman, Heather M. CEO, Indigo Books & Music Inc.
DEU Reitzle, Wolfgang CEO & President, Linde AG
USA Rogoff, Kenneth S. Professor of Economics, Harvard University
USA Rose, Charlie Executive Editor and Anchor, Charlie Rose
USA Ross, Dennis B. Counselor, Washington Institute for Near East Policy
POL Rostowski, Jacek Minister of Finance
USA Rubin, Robert E. Co-Chair, Council on Foreign Relations; Former Secretary of the Treasury
NLD Rutte, Mark Prime Minister
ESP Sáenz de Santamaría Antón, Soraya Vice President and Minister for the Presidency
NLD Scheffer, Paul Professor of European Studies, Tilburg University
USA Schmidt, Eric E. Executive Chairman, Google Inc.
AUT Scholten, Rudolf Member of the Board of Executive Directors, Oesterreichische Kontrollbank AG
FRA Senard, Jean-Dominique CEO, Michelin Group
USA Shambaugh, David Director, China Policy Program, George Washington University
INT Sheeran, Josette Vice Chairman, World Economic Forum
FIN Siilasmaa, Risto Chairman of the Board of Directors, Nokia Corporation
USA Speyer, Jerry I. Chairman and Co-CEO, Tishman Speyer
CHE Supino, Pietro Chairman and Publisher, Tamedia AG
IRL Sutherland, Peter D. Chairman, Goldman Sachs International
USA Thiel, Peter A. President, Clarium Capital / Thiel Capital
TUR Timuray, Serpil CEO, Vodafone Turkey
DEU Trittin, Jürgen Parliamentary Leader, Alliance 90/The Greens
GRC Tsoukalis, Loukas President, Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy
FIN Urpilainen, Jutta Minister of Finance
CHE Vasella, Daniel L. Chairman, Novartis AG
INT Vimont, Pierre Executive Secretary General, European External Action Service
GBR Voser, Peter CEO, Royal Dutch Shell plc
SWE Wallenberg, Jacob Chairman, Investor AB
USA Warsh, Kevin Distinguished Visiting Fellow, The Hoover Institution, Stanford University
GBR Wolf, Martin H. Chief Economics Commentator, The Financial Times
USA Wolfensohn, James D. Chairman and CEO, Wolfensohn and Company
CAN Wright, Nigel S. Chief of Staff, Office of the Prime Minister
USA Yergin, Daniel Chairman, IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates
INT Zoellick, Robert B. President, The World Bank Group

GBR Bredow, Vendeline von Business Correspondent, The Economist
GBR Wooldridge, Adrian D. Foreign Correspondent, The Economist

Friday, 1 June 2012

The Great Unknown! Did News International Try to Blackmail Select Committee?

According to the former News of the World journalist Neville Thurlbeck, when the Independent reported that the Met. has been asked to investigate whether News International attempted to blackmail the MPs on the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee in 2009, News International ordered the Sunday paper’s reporters to scour the private lives of these MPs.

Mr Thurlbeck alleges that reporters were told by those in ‘deepcarpetland’ to obtain evidence of affairs or gay relationships. The aim, he claimed, was to “to find as much embarrassing sleaze on as many members as possible in order to blackmail them into backing off from its highly forensic inquiry into phone hacking”. In a letter – a copy of which has been obtained by The Independent – to the Deputy Assistant Commissioner leading the Met’s inquiries into News International, Sue Akers, Mr Watson wrote: “If these allegations are found to be true, it suggests there was a conspiracy to blackmail.”

Whether this claim proves to be true or not it does demonstrate how vulnerable our system of democracy is since affairs and gay relationships are probably not that uncommon amongst those who rule us.

In former times the sheer cost of mounting such investigations on more than 700 MPs would have been prohibitive. However, now there are so many multi billionaires throughout the world, for whom the cost would be easily afforded, and communication systems have become so advanced – the danger of massive corruption is ever present.

Clearly – there is no way back for representative democracy in its present form.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Politics on hold until 17 June - Election Day in Greece.

It seems that politics will be on hold until the Greek elections on 17th June.

The leaders of the EU nations, and even to some degree Barak Obama, are determined to terrify the Greek electorate into voting for one of the more traditional parties, certainly one that is for abiding by the existing agreement to implement the austerity package.

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, in the Telegraph, reports that:

The German financial daily Handelsblatt said the Bundesbank was “holding a gun to Greece’s head”, hammering home the message that Germany will not submit to blackmail from populist politicians in Athens.

[Definition of populist: a member or adherent of a political party seeking to represent the interests of ordinary people]

We can expect most political activity over the next 3/4 weeks to be concentrated on beating the Greeks into submission – will they be crushed?

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

The Leveson Inquiry - there is no way back for representative democracy in its present form.

The Leveson Inquiry, set up to investigate media ethics and journalism practices following the News of The World hacking scandal, has raised an issue that fundamentally undermines the concept of representative democracy in the UK – in its present form.

Prior to the Inquiry, it had become clear that our system of government had little or no democratic content apart from to decide which of the two alternating dictatorships would be in office. Any that might have remained was killed off when Gordon Brown ratified the Lisbon Treaty and placed the UK in political union with the other EU member states.

This act served to underline the then existing democratic deficiency, since, at the time of ratification, polls showed that more than 80% wanted a referendum on whether the Treaty should be ratified and two thirds were against it being signed.

What the Leveson Inquiry has demonstrated is that it is impossible to know whether those standing as candidates at elections are being bribed, corrupted or blackmailed by a rich media mogul [or anyone else for that matter] to insure the candidate, once elected, does their bidding.

Having reached this point, the only certain way to remedy the currently debased system is for the representative to be directly accountable to the people they purport to represent and to provide a system whereby the constituents can sack their representative – if they fail to live up to expectations.

MPs are selected for their well-paid jobs by the constituents and it is their taxes that pays the MP’s salary. It is therefore right and proper that these same people have the right to dismiss them if, over a period of time [6 monthly invervals?] they are dissatisfied with their work. This is how paid employment works in every other circumstance – why not for those who choose a political career?

In last resort, the only valid judgement of an elected representatives actions, whether bribed, corrupted, blackmailed or as pure as the driven snow, is that of those who elected them.

The development of the internet has provided systems that would allow representatives to be publicly questioned by their constituents, their responses debated and for a vote to be taken on whether the representative should retain their post – through an internet forum with a a polling capacity. If the constituents were given the right to question and sack their representative, through this medium, at regular intervals – representatives would be far more concerned about the views of the voters and true democracy would gradually start to replace our existing deeply flawed political system.

The ramifications of such a system are significant. However, whatever the dangers, they are insignificant compared to the dangers inherent in the existing system.

In last resort it is for each political party to decide whether to support such a change – for the current method of seeking improvements to the political system, whether by Inquiry or Committee, can no longer be viewed as unbiased, for it is impossible to know whether those charged with the task are, themselves, the subject of bribery, corruption or blackmail.

Update 23.05.12: The BBC produced an interesting ‘who’s linked to who‘ diagram in September. Perhaps one relationship that has not been examined closely enough, for the purpose of this recommendation, are the work and social links between Lord Leveson and Matthew Freud, who, according to the BBC, has work and social links with both Rupert and James Murdoch.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Matriarchal Society

Last December the Dalai Lama spoke about the ‘Power of Women’. He welcomed the rise in ‘women’s power’ in the West generally – also in Japan. However, not in the sense that feminists might wish to view this power – as some kind of revenge for years of having to submit to male domination, but for their sensitivity.

There is little doubt that males, particularly white, have seen legislation introduced over recent years that has made them the least protected of all citizens in the UK. In fact it could be argued that there seems to be a concerted attempt to ensure the decline of the indigenous species of these islands. A fact not lost on the Observer who ran an article ‘Lagging at school, the butt of cruel jokes: are males the new Second Sex?’ earlier in the month.

This new found power by women, however, has not led to a more sensitive society, but arguably to quite the reverse. Mothers have not demanded that they be supported so that they can spend, at least, the pre-school years as full-time mothers at this most critical time for their children. So easily done now that there are so many young unemployed who could substitute for them in the workplace. Or that divorce is made far more difficult in order to keep the family unit together, or that fathers of the children of single mothers are obliged to fulfil their role of parent to help these vulnerable women, but, more importantly – their children.

One of the problems with the additional powers gained by women is that they are mainly being exercised by career women, who represent a small part of the female population and are not generally looking for ways to spend more time with their children. Also governments know that working mothers need child care, which provides more tax revenue than if they stay at home to look after their family.

Most mothers would put the rearing of their children significantly ahead of a career and would choose to gradually spend more time at work as the demands of their family decreases. Unfortunately, this is simply not possible for the majority of working mothers as they cannot afford to give up their jobs, although the spiralling cost of childcare is significantly reducing the net profit gained from working.

A popular phrase that has been in fashion for some time now is ‘have it all’ to imply that a mother can be a good mother and hold down a demanding job at the same time – but this seems unlikely to be true. Unless the mother’s mother or a sister is prepared to take on the bulk of the children’s rearing, or a full-time nanny can be afforded, either the professional life or the home life will suffer. Some fathers can take the role of house husband, but these are very much the exception rather than the rule.

Back in 2003 in an article for the Guardian, [Working mothers 'bad for children'] John Carvel reported the findings of a study published by the Institute for Social and Economic Research. The research showed that ‘the children of mothers who return to work full time in the years before they start school have slower emotional development and score less well in reading and maths tests’ and that ‘an early return to work by the mother reduces the child’s chances of progressing to A-level from 60% to 50%’. Also that ‘the employment patterns of the father have little effect’.

The conclusion of Prof Francesconi that [even the children of highly educated mothers who go back to full-time work early will have lower educational attainment, but the disadvantage will not be as much as it is for less educated mums] is damning in educational terms and may have been even more damaging emotionally.

Today the government is criticizing the young and their inability to find work ahead of immigrants, who are likely to have had a full-time mothers caring for them as children. That these immigrants are generally chosen above the British young by employers is hardly surprising since many, if not the majority, of British youngsters will have suffered from not having a dedicated carer and it seems very likely that they are now suffering the consequences of a serious problem that was clearly identified nearly 8 years ago.

It is truly scandalous that the Blair government did not act quickly to find ways that mothers could spend, at least, the pre-school years with their children so as to avoid permanently blighting their lives. For what can be of higher priority to a national government than protecting the nation’s young from harm?

It is outrageous that the present government should attempt to punish these victims by criticizing them for their lack of ability and doing nothing to prevent our current children from suffering the same fate.

Back in 2003 we were in the middle of a boom and the demand for employees made it more difficult to act. Now, however, there are hundreds of thousands of young people who could fill in, either permanently or temporarily, for working mothers to provide extensive leave and at the same time provide the young with desperately needed work. The employed young people’s unemployment benefit could then be used towards helping support the mothers who opt to give up their job.

That this has not been thought of and implemented by now, given the vast resources available to it, further demonstrates that the government’s real concern is not for the wellbeing of the people, but the interests of the corporations who donate large sums to their coffers.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Let the euro die.

Last night, Robert Preston presenting ‘The Great Euro Crash‘ seemed about to deliver a surprise for the BBC [who are usually in favour of our EU membership], until the last 10 minutes. Based on the content of the program, the expectation was that he would end by giving a very strong recommendation that we should leave of the EU. However, this was not to be – instead he insisted that we should remain members.

What he did do, however, was to endorse Peter Oborne’s view, in an article in theTelegraph earlier in the week, that the primary purpose of the euro was political. In his words ‘the over-riding purpose was, beyond question, political. The founding fathers of the eurozone were determined to use the single currency to promote political union. By doing this, they hoped to domesticate Germany, which had caused such chaos and devastation across the continent during the first half of the 20th century’.

Preston went to some lengths to demonstrate that this political union was not only the purpose of the euro, but also of the EU itself. The founding fathers believed that the union would prevent Germany starting another war in Europe, if there were political union, and this was the intention from the start – the introduction of the euro was simply another step on this path.

It was also a highly speculative venture insofar as never before had a currency been introduced without political union and a central bank that together exercised financial controls over the entire economy using the currency. Germany now is of course trying to fulfil that role, but it cannot do so directly, it has to instead, as we are seeing now, use every threat available to crush any resistance to the financial controls it has put in place.

Although it is understandable that, following WW2, politicians were very eager to avoid another war, but what has happened since, with regard to the development of weaponry, seems to have been overlooked.

The US and the Soviet Union reached a point where they realised that each side could wipe out the other many times over, which gave birth to the concept of MAD – mutually assured destruction. As a result the two nations came to an agreement to limit the number of weapons each had – to avoid a continuing stockpiling and the consequential drain on their economies.

Both Britain and the France had developed a nuclear arsenal by 1960, if the concern was that Germany might start a third war in Europe, this could have been achieved by using the nuclear deterrent as has been done so effectively with other counties in the meantime.

It can only be assumed that the political class, within the EU nations, wanted this project for another reason, as Preston explained – they wanted to remain a world power, something none of them could do alone, but might do together. Also, in the process, they have removed virtually all traces of democracy which allows them to pass any laws they wish, without fear of the people removing them from office.

Based on this desire the EU leaders have led their nations on a reckless path that has ended up in the ‘Euro Crisis’. Fear of the break up of the EU has been ratcheted up to, initially, terrify the Greeks – so that they will fall in line with the negotiated austerity program, but also to terrify the people of the other EU nations, particularly those of the states whose people are rebelling against the cuts they are having to endure.

No doubt the belief is that, if the Greeks can be brought to heel, there is little likelihood that any of the other nations will step out of line in the future and the project can be completed. As a result the EU will, in time, become a single entity, run by Germany and based on German efficiency.

Arguably this is a better way to reach a Europe dominated by Germany – than through war. However, it can hardly be argued that Germany has been ‘domesticated’!

The major hurdle to this outcome is that if the Greeks will not agree to continue with the austerity despite all of the pressure put on them. If the Greeks succeed in obtaining a far more agreeable package, this will lead to austerity being challenged in most of the other eurozone nations.

If the Greeks will not back down and there is no alternative but to expel them from the eurozone, this is an even greater threat to completing the EU project of ever closer union and to the political class. For if they do succeed in recovering economically, without too much suffering, it will lead to most of the eurozone nations, who are experiencing great difficulty in living with austerity, to follow the Greek’s example and leave the eurozone.

Great care is being taken by Angela Merkel to make sure that neither of these are the outcome. For either would mean that the planned european super-state will not be achieved – at least in the foreseeable future.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Rebekah Brooks charged!

As to be expected Rebekah Brooks took a defiant stance yesterday when she was charged on three counts of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. She described the decision to prosecute her as ‘weak and unjust’. However, given the array of top lawyers the prosecuting team know they will have to face – perhaps a truer description of the decision was – courageous.

We saw, how, in the Rochdale child abuse case, that the prosecuting authorities failed to proceed with, what seemed to be, a perfectly good case based on the evidence from one teenager who came forward at the time the abuse ring were just starting. It did appear that the decision to conclude that she would not be viewed as a credible weakness was more based in fear of the repercussions from the local community rather than the quality of the witness.

What we don’t know of course, is how many more serious cases are not pursued because of the pressure that is applied by the rich or powerful!

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Rebekah Brooks at the Leveson Inquiry

Rebekah Brooks’ appearance at the Leveson Inquiry was remarkable in the sense that the overall impression she gave was of mockery. Whereas this attitude towards the, theoretically, most powerful in the land was troubling from Rupert Murdoch – an aged multi-billionaire who, nevertheless, had been at the heart of the nation’s political life for decades – but, far more striking from a Warrington lass, in her early forties and from humble beginnings.

Of course her capacity to mock came from the power she had exercised on behalf of Murdoch senior and her continued confidence [for some one who has been arrested and is being investigated, on two counts - on suspicion of conspiring to intercept communications and on suspicion of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice] implies that she believes her mentor, with the aid of some of the finest legal minds in the land, will be able to protect her from any undue discomfort.

Whether it is because she is a woman, or because of her once powerful position or because the existing political structures invites anyone [with the desire to pull the strings of our national government] to achieve this remarkable position – is open for debate. However, there is little doubt that she did, and probably still does, hold signficamt power over the affairs of the nation. This power rests purely on her knowledge of the actions and acts of the holders of the highest offices of state in the nation.

It seemed that, responding to a question concerning the indirect messages of commiseration she had received after losing her job, it was with particular delight that she listed these as from No. 10, No. 11, the Home and Foreign Office. The offices, rather than the holders of the offices, as might have been expected if her relations with the individuals were primarily social, rather than more connected to the power these individuals wield – as she tried to imply.

In the previous article the concern was that Rupert Murdoch, a foreign national living in New York, appeared to have exercised a great deal of power over the decisions taken by this and the Blair and Brown administrations – because of the information he held on its leading members. However, this seems to have been passed to Mrs Brooks – Rupert Murdoch’s comment that she “knows how to work my family” seemed to attest to this.

The fact that it is now Mrs Brooks, who appears to hold this power, in no way reduces the need to strengthen our system of representative democracy, so that it is the people who are the final arbitrators in the actions of the government.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

The Establishment also appears to fear riots and rebellion!

A report from the BBC reveals how the Met. are stockpiling rubber bullets. At the time of last year’s riots the Met held a stock of 700 baton rounds, this has been increased by a factor of 14 to 10,024.

It is little wonder that the fear of rioting is increasing exponentially with the standard of living of the majority steadily decreasing and the wealth of the richest rapidly increasing. The plan to reduce the highest rate of tax from 50% to 45% must rate as one of the worst decisions made by a government in recent years – assuming there was no wish to inflame an already dangerous situation.

It is estimated that just 10% of the austerity measures planned have taken effect – so an, already angry, electorate is likely to want to show its displeasure as the measures bite. With no opportunity to show this displeasure through a democratic system – riot becomes the only alternative.

The Leveson enquiry is beginning to reveal the extent of the corruption within the political class and the old chestnuts of our unwanted membership of the EU, high immigration and the poor treatment of the English through the devolution process, leaving them without a dedicated parliament, still not addressed.

Does the government really believe that they will be able to suppress such anger throughout the last three years of their term – when the financial strategy itself has proved a failure?

UK water problem down to EU planning?

Richard North seems to have unearthed why, despite the recent downpours, hosepipe bans will remain in place. Also that Prof. Adrian MacDonald, an expert used by both the BBC and the Independent, is funded in his work, partially, by the EU.

There is little doubt that the government does hide the fact, whenever possible, that frequently unpopular or disastrous legislation emanating from the EU is disguised as UK legislation. Clearly, if it is generally known the extent to which our lives are adversely by EU laws, the already large majority wanting a referendum on our membership and the majority who want out would steadily increase until even the most devious government could not deny the people’s legitimate demands.

As the scandals and sleaze related to government gradually becomes uncovered by Leveson and other sources – surely it is time that newspapers and broadcasters declared the financial interest of their experts and commentators, if there is any, at the very start of each item. We do, as a nation, seem to be sinking in a sea of corruption.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Rich get Even Richer

According to this year’s Sunday Times ‘Rich List‘ – the wealth of the richest in the UK has risen to record levels. Although the three richest, Lakshmi Mittal – the Indian steel magnate, Alisher Usmanov – Russian iron ore producer and Roman Abramovich – Russian owner of Chelsea football club all have seen their fortunes fall in the year. Mittal is down to his last £12bn, as is Usmanov and Abramovich is now having to manage on less than £10bn.

Humour aside, these figures do confirm that the Coalition’s policies are hurting the vast majority and advantaging the richest. It further demonstrates the mockery of Cameron’s ‘we are all in it together’ and does create an increasingly more dangerous situation as the blatant injustice of the Coalition’s policies becomes more stark.

The stoic Brits do not take to the streets as easily as their Mediterranean cousins which means that if civil unrest does develop it is likely to be more serious because far more rage and discontent will have been suppressed.

Either this, or voters are likely to turn to one of the more extreme parties, like the BNP or EDL which would have very undesirable consequences.

Monday, 30 April 2012

EU Membership – knowingly planned against the will of the people!

An intriguing and revealing article by Christopher Booker appeared in the Sunday Telegraph – it is a ‘must read’ for any of the majority who are against our membership of the EU and who cannot understand why we are members and why, in recent years, there has never been the referendum that the vast majority have wanted.

The article, which does not need further explanation, concerns a confidential memorandum from 1971 [FCO 30/1048] headed ‘Sovereignty and the Community’ and explains how our political masters planned our entry and continued membership of the EU in the full knowledge that this would be against the will of the people.

If you are interested in a more forensic investigation, Richard North’s coverage on his EUReferendum site is to be recommended.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Murdoch the ‘Sun King’

It is easy to see how George Galloway achieved success recently at Bradford West. His description of Murdoch as the Sun King, to which various prime ministers paid homage, was both clever and appropriate. With regard to Murdoch’s attempt to buy the remaing shares in BSkyB, his comment that capitalists cannot be blamed if they try to take every advantage when negotiating a deal, will also reinforce the concern that many have about the executives of global corporations influencing the actions of governments both here and elsewhere.

On the issue of Jeremy Hunt’s special advisor resigning because of the favourable treatment News International received during the negotiations and how this was just a distraction, Benedict Brogan’s, of the Telegraph, phrase that ‘If the PM is the organ grinder, then the SpAd [special advisor] is the monkey’s monkey’ hits the nail on the head.

Returning to Galloway’s condemnation of capitalism and the broader issue of powerful corporate executives influence on governments, Emily Allen provides an all inclusive summary of Murdoch’s stance, at the Leveson Enquiry, on these issues in the Mail.

Clearly newspapers with a large circulation, like the Sun, is going to have a significant influence on its readership with regard to their view of the opposing parties at a general election, but Murdoch’s influence is wider than this as he also owns the Times. However, these together may not have as much influence as Sky News, whose audience can reach more than nine million – three times the circulation of the Sun – on days when there are events of special interest.

That News International provides the news to such a large share of the UK electorate cannot be healthy for a democracy and the ruling principles need to be thoroughly reviewed, but the hacking of public officials telephones and bribery of the police, that led to the Leveson Enquiry has far more serious ramifications.

It is one thing for a newspaper proprietor to unduly influence the outcome of a general election, because they have too greater share of the total news output, but once private details of public servants activities, which is bound to include politicians, is also in its hands – an extremely dangerous situation arises.

Murdoch may rightly claim that these illegal operations do uncover information that reveal government wrong doing, however, how do we know to what extent he holds, career ruining, information on senior UK politicians – although Max Mosley is trying to open the door to these dark secrets? The fact that so many celebrities were not prepared to make their experiences of phone hacking known, but preferred, instead, a private settlement, gives some idea of the kind of material that was being collected – material that would just be embarrassing for a celebrity – but career ending for a politician, public official or senior police officer.

The extent of the influence this information might well provide Murdoch may have led to him dictating the actions of governments for many years – we simply are unlikely never to know. If it should be the case it makes our already diminishing democracy nothing less than a farce and provides yet another powerful reason for the people to be directly involved in many of the decisions made by governments – if any more reason is needed!

Monday, 23 April 2012

Lords Reform – Why not Primacy for the People?

There is concern within the political class that the proposal to elect members to the House of Lords will create a conflict over primacy between the two Houses. This problem does not exist at present because MPs are elected by the people, whereas the Lords are appointed or achieve there membership through the hereditary principle.

The existing order implies that, as a democracy, it is the people who are of greatest import.

The Independent reports that a parliamentary committee has recommended that there should be a referendum on a change in the make up of the House of Lords. The proposal, to have 80% elected and 20% appointed, seems to be supported by Cameron, if not by Clegg.

Although the change might seem a step forward, is it sufficiently different to create a much needed ‘wind of change’ at Westminster? Although, no doubt, there would be some celebrities who will stand and be elected, it will be, in the main, the party’s election machines that will ensure the Lords is dominated by the existing political class.

Considering some of the unpopular and/or contorted policies implemented in recent times, surely some checks need to be applied to the acts of the party in power.

Perhaps the most outrageous was Blair’s agreement to support Bush’s plan to invade Iraq. The ‘Dodgy Dossier‘, that Alastair Campbell had produced, claimed Saddam had weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them – this convinced the majority that the war was necessary – although subsequent events have proved this not to be the case.

It was also Blair who chose to significantly increase the number of immigrants allowed into the country. Apart from the very clear problems this has caused through a clash of cultures, particularly Muslims whose faith is not simply a religion, but also a political system, it will also cause the population to increase more rapidly because the birth rate of, again the Muslims, will ensure poor housing, increased pressure on schools and the health serve.

The overwhelming disadvantage of this policy, however, is likely to be feeding so many extra people. Presently we can feed only 50% of the population, this will reduce as the population increases. Already we are seeing large global corporations controlling increasingly large proportions of the commodity market which is causing prices to rise. As these corporations gain larger shares, there is no doubt that prices will steadily increase – for that is the purpose of trying to gain a monopoly.

We may be concerned that the price of oil continues to rise, but does not seem to fall when there is a glut because we are now a net importer of oil. However, there are replacements for oil – there are none for food!

Perhaps the most undemocratic act by a government in recent times was Brown’s ratification of the Lisbon Treaty. At the time 80% wanted a referendum on the matter and polls showed that more than two thirds did not want the Treaty signed. This has led to additional major costs being incurred by the UK, apart from the steady stream of legislation from the EU that increasingly binds the UK governments from taking the actions they would choose.

Devolution has proved to be yet another policy that has had huge impact and has seriously disadvantaged the English in comparison to the Scots. Blair did offer regional government in England, but it was a second rate proposal that he only half-heartedly pursued. Cameron, rather than seeking to be even-handed has tried to rush to a settlement aimed at preventing the Scots from leaving the Union with no attempt to provide England with its own Parliament to provide equality. This imbalance has caused a rising tide of discontent within the English and is bound to lead to future conflict.

Although devolution was started by Blair and is being further corrupted by Cameron, he alone started the process of privatising the Health Service – against the will of the people. This along with the plan to lower the rate of tax for the highest paid along with many other, poorly thought through, policies within the context of austerity has shown that the Coalition government are equally prepared to introduce policies unwanted by the people.

What these policies demonstrate is that any changes made to the Lords must include a method by which the people are included in controversial plans. The most obvious way to do this, and to resolve the issue of primacy with elected Lords, is to provide for the calling of a referendum by the Lords where to two houses could not agree.

Now that more than 70% are connected to the internet, and it is considered sufficiently secure for internet banking, referendums need not be expensive or long drawn out affairs. Provided that public internet connections are provided to those who do not have this service. The internet could also be used to ensure that MPs vote in accordance with the wishes of the people who they purport to represent, rather than their party leader, on key issues as referendums could be easily run within each constituency. For surely the concept of representative democracy, as presently operated, is the greatest abuse of true democracy.

Presently the political class argue that any direct involvement of the people in the political process is pointless because of low turnout rates for other elections. However, whilst more than 60% believe that their elected representative persistently lie and that it make no difference what the people want – the politicians will do what benefits them, Murdoch or their main financial donors – is it any wonder that people do not feel bothered to vote?

As demonstrated by the French, who had a turnout of more than 80% in the first round of their Presidential elections, if the people do believe a candidate can and will make a difference to their lives – they will take great interest and turn out to vote in great numbers. Or was this intrinsically an outcome of their Revolution?

Monday, 9 April 2012

Corporation Tax – not for the Multinationals

Two matters relating to the global free market have come to light in recent days. On Wednesday the Guardian reported that Amazon has generated sales of more than £7.6 billion in the UK without paying any UK corporation tax and yesterday the Telegraph reported that Apple paid only £10 million, in British tax, in 2010 despite accounting for an estimated £6 billion in sales.

If foreign based global corporations continue to expand their sales here, as seems almost certain under the current regulations, an ever increasing volume of business activity will be carried out with minimal tax paid and significant sums of sterling will pass into the hands of these foreign corporations. Since these corporations are not generally looking to buy UK produced products with this income, the most likely eventual use for this money will be purchase of UK property and businesses.

The Chinese, who accumulate huge sums of sterling, are always seeking to buy UK businesses with potential and, at present, we are heading for a situation where an ever increasing amount of UK assets will be in foreign hands and the people will be the employee ‘servants’ of these foreign owned businesses.

The continuing rise in unemployment must eventually lead to a reduction in the minimum wage and there is a danger that the dreadful employment practices of India and China will be brought to our shores in time.

It is our membership of the EU that allows these global corporations to trade in the UK. However, each corporation carefully selects the nation it will operate out of that will give the greatest advantage, including paying a minimum of tax. These benefits are given because the siting of the corporations usually brings benefits to the host nation through jobs and the local economy generally.

The only real solution is to leave the EU and install import controls on goods from other nations – unless a balanced trade agreement is reached.

It is likely that Francis Maude will see these untaxed profits of Amazon and Apple as an acceptable development since he wants to provide similar arrangements for as many of the global corporations as possible, here in the UK – hence the Tories desire to lower the top rate of tax.

It is not difficult to understand why Maude and the Tory backers are happy with these arrangements – but surely they are hugely to the detriment to the majority of British citizens.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Nearly 90% vote for an EU Referendum in Thurrock

The Express reports on the outcome of a referendum held by the People’s Pledge organisation at Thurrock in Essex. Of the 48,000 voting papers issued by the Electoral Reform Services 14,600 voted by post or electronically – this represented a 30.4% turnout and topped the number voting in the constituency at the last local elections.

89.9% of those who voted wanted a referendum on our membership of the EU and demonstrates that the stance of those standing in a General Election, on this issue, is likely to impact on the result. The sitting MP is Tory Jackie Doyle-Price – who last year voted in the Commons against a referendum – won with 16,869 votes, snatching a wafer-thin majority of 92 over her Labour rival.

People’s Pledge plan more local referendums this year and 100 more next year with the aim of getting MPs to sign up to having a national referendum. 64 MPs have already backed the campaign along with more 100,000 members of the public.

It really is time to change our current, wholly inappropriately named, system of ‘Representative Democracy’ [based on the way it is operated] so that representatives are obliged to far more closely represent the views of their electorate. Such a change is especially important on key issues and on those where the people are particularly concerned. This would be in marked contrast to the existing practice where representatives invariably obey the ruling elite of the political party to which they belong.

Provided a system was in place for the electorate to express their preferences on forthcoming issues, should less than 60% take the opportunity to vote and there is not an overwhelming majority for any one course of action – then it is reasonable that the representative ignores this information and decides for themselves. However, if more than 60% have voted the representative should conform to their electorates will!

Such a system should be relatively simple to install on the internet with the numbers connected growing at such a rapid rate – provided public internet connection is provided at libraries and other public places. If the systems in place are considered secure enough for internet banking, they should be sufficiently secure for voting at elections and providing the preferences of the electorate.

O death, where is thy sting?

Now that the disliked NHS bill has completed its passage through parliament it is worth considering what the Labour Party would do if it is returned to office at the next general election. On the reasonable assumption that the continuing deficit will not allow additional spending – just removing or reducing the use of private healthcare providers might be all that can be offered.

However, in reviewing the issue, a refreshing candour might be appreciated. The truth is that a nation, with huge debts and no real prospect of an improvement in the foreseeable future, cannot afford to provide the same level of health care, or other public services, as it could in more affluent times – in fact quite the reverse.

Any fear of such honesty misjudges the stoicism of the people generally – particularly those having the lowest incomes. They are used to having to face the harsh realities of life, unlike a cosseted political class who are far more sensitive to minor losses of comfort. Providing that the cuts to NHS services are approached with intelligence and fairness, a people, knowing that savings must be made, will accept reductions – but not if any one group is clearly being advantaged at the expense of another.

Even before the financial crisis, there were health services provided that were more questionably the responsibility of the taxpayer to provide, than others. Perhaps foremost in this class were those services that were required to treat acts of self abuse. Included here might be illnesses that arise from obesity caused by the simple refusal to take sufficient exercise, illnesses related to smoking and drug taking along with the abuse of alcohol.

Provided that an informative public campaign had been undertaken to warn of the dangers of such behaviour, it is more difficult to justify asking the taxpayers to pay for any expensive treatment required as a result of ignoring this advice at a time when the level of service has to be reduced. Clearly the provision of, relatively inexpensive, pain killers is acceptable, but expensive procedures, unless there is unused capacity, cannot be justified if they deny the treatment of patients who have become ill through no fault of their own.

Many issues that relate to healthcare impinge directly on our current view of death. In times of greater spirituality, when the general view was that some form of existence continued after death, this event was not kept so well hidden as it was not viewed with such dread – indeed for some – a blessed release. However, when so many of the population believe that nothing follows death – it is unsurprising that it is kept so far into the background. It is for this reason that our health service is used to extend the life of those who can and never will be able to have a meaningful life and are often condemned to continuing and empty existence more for the sake of their loved ones rather than for the benefit of those so stricken.

If the state has limited funds, and the current and continuing decline in the nation’s wealth means that we cannot provide such a high level of state funded healthcare, surely the practice of extending those lives that, for all intent are over, has to be examined carefully – better this than denying treatment to those whose lives can be returned to a meaningful existence.

Viewing these sensitive and disagreeable subjects does go to the very heart of Cameron’s justification for privatizing at least parts of the NHS. When this subject is broached he often portrays the extra money supplied by corporations as a resource used to develop new drugs and treatments that will continue to raise life expectancy – when the truth is likely to be, that human life, free of life threatening diseases, has a natural active span that no amount of scientific research will be able to extend materially.

History tells us that many people in the past lived long lives, this was due to the avoidance of life threatening diseases and work related activities that cut lives short. Now that many of these diseases can be cured and legislation has generally removed the threat to life in the workplace – there is little likelihood of average life spans increasing a great deal more.

It is Cameron’s pretence that the scientific community will be able to extend life markedly that justifies many of his reasons for wishing to use private companies in the provision of NHS healthcare – and of course his justification for extending retirement age and increasing pension contributions in the public sector.

At a time when the global population has passed seven billion, when precious resources are increasingly difficult to find and, as a Nation, we are finding it difficult to provide jobs, homes and support for our existing population – should we really be making any further attempts to extend the current life expectancy?