It’s Nowt To Do With Cuts

The Sun is reporting this morning:

BRITAIN and France are preparing to reveal unprecedented plans to share the use of their aircraft carriers in a controversial step to maintain military power in an era of cost-cutting.

David Cameron and President Sarkozy are expected to outline the proposal in a November summit, which will lead to British and French flagships working together and protecting the interests of both countries.

Leaving aside the political implications such a move would have for the coalition, this story (if true) would merely be a continuation of what has been happening for years.

The EU has long sought a common defence strategy ever since Monnet’s proposals in 1950 for the European Defence Community, and this desire for a ‘European Army’ has continued apace since the Maastricht treaty.

Agreements on Anglo-French naval co-operation were signed in 1996, the army 1997 and the air force in 1998. In 1996 Tory defence minister Michael Protilio agreed with his fellow defence ministers to set up the Western European Armaments Organisation under the Western European Union (a defence agreement now defunct due to Lisbon) to work for closer co-operation on EU defence procurement.

Tony Blair went even further in St Marlo in 1998 when he offered up the British Armed forces on a plate to be a key part of a New European Defence force, which would act outside of NATO:

Saint Malo was the site of an Anglo-French summit which lead to a significant agreement regarding European defence policy. British Prime Minister Tony Blair and French President Jacques Chirac stated that “the [European] Union must have the capacity for autonomous action, backed up by credible military forces, the means to decide to use them, and a readiness to do so, in order to respond to international crises”.

Geoff Hoon then signed a ‘framework agreement‘ in 2000, which outlined the guidelines on how to harmonise the the military requirements and have a common command structure. All of this was leading to a common European Defence Agency which was established in 2004.

It was precisely because of this integration that the MoD disbanded or merged 19 historic regiments, so that new 8000 man brigades could be set up in order to fit in with ERRF requirements.

Even the two replacement carriers for the Navy already under construction, at a cost of £5.2billion, are being partially built by the French firm; Thales, who are building an identical one for the French navy. Again requirements of the ERRF.

As ever though none of this gets mention, and so cuts becomes a convenient cover for the Europhile Tories coalition.

A Bit Late To The Party

When I read Iain Dale’s latest post last night on the fact that he’s just noticed the failings of the European Arrest Warrant, I honestly couldn’t face writing another blog post about him, especially with such ‘observational’ gems such these:

I haven’t had a strong view on the European Arrest Warrant up to now. Until today. I could see its value in bringing trans-border criminals to justice more speedily, even if my gut instinct was to feel that it was yet another chink in the armour of sovereign British justice.

and (my emphasis):

Theresa May has recently extended the powers of the EAW by signing up to the European Investigation Order. I hope she understood what she was doing.

and:

And if Theresa May is the woman I think she is, she will pick up the phone to her Greek counterpart tomorrow morning and ask him to put right this apparent massive injustice.

Go on Theresa. You know you want to.

Thankfully The Devil’s Knife has responded in his typically robust manner and very well worth a read it is too.

Update: It appears there’s a dispute over whether Dan Hannan and other Tories voted for or against the EAW in the EU Parliament. DK cites Trixy as saying yes they did, whilst Dan Hannan left a comment here claiming that he didn’t. I’ve left a comment on DK saying:

DK: The vote was taken on Feb 6th 2002 as shown here … and the voting record is here. 412 voted in favour and 122 against. Records show that Hannan voted against the Arrest Warrant. Hope that helps.

Although it does appear that the Tories did vote against a “habeas corpus” safeguard amendment as reported by the Telegraph.

Speeding Data ‘Misleading’

I meant to blog on this last week when it appeared on my local news, but forgot. Obo has jogged my memory.

On 1st August all speed cameras in Oxfordshire were turned off, well technically they were turned off over a period of a few days – prosecutions stopped on 1st August. So some of them still worked. I’m waiting for the first case of the council chancing their arm with an August prosecution. Anyway it didn’t take long for some safer roads campaigners to start bleating:

Last week, Thames Valley Safer Roads Partnership said a roadside camera on the A44 in Woodstock had seen an 18.3 per cent increase in speed offences since the switch-off compared to the average number caught this year.

At the same time a radar inside a second camera in Watlington Road, Cowley, registered an 88 per cent rise in offences when compared with figures in 2008 and 2009.

Speeding offences up eh? What about traffic accidents, casualties, deaths? Are they up? Thames Valley Safer Roads Partnership seem strangely silent on that one. But even these figures are not all they seem:

The partnership said the figures for 2010 were not available, as the camera had been switched off due to roadworks.

When the Oxford Mail requested 2008-9 data for the Woodstock camera – to make an equal comparison to the Watlington Road camera – the partnership said the figures were not readily to hand.

Now, the Oxford Mail having obtained the information, the figures actually show speed offences fell by four per cent when comparing the figures since the switch-off to offences in 2008-9.

So it takes a FOI request to prove they’re misleading. But they insist:

…there was no deliberate attempt to mislead the public about the figures.

“I don’t think there’s anything we have done that is disgraceful or lies and damn lies.

“As we have always maintained, these remain limited data sets and there is a great deal more study that will need to be undertaken to determine what the increased risk at decommissioned camera sites is.”

Yes of course, which is why August isn’t over yet but you couldn’t wait to issue that ‘shock horror’ rise of 18%. Compare that to the pro-camera argument, that 11 months was too early to tell when Swindon didn’t show any rise after a year of switching them off.

A New EU Resource

The Albion Alliance, the cross-party referendum campaign to put country before party, have just launched a new EU resource website. This collates all the latest Directives, Regulations and other information from EU institutions into one place. It’s the first website (as far as I am aware) that has managed to do this so it should make trawling through all the recent EU information a little easier.

More features and information are likely to be added soon, but the website can be found here.

DeJa Vu

Iain Dale, nearly a week late:

Mr Civil Libertarian just left this comment on my Facebook page…

“You know, the 111 number was a part of Labour’s manifesto. See HERE.

This isn’t a new idea from the coalition. It’s Labour’s idea. So why are they campaigning against it? Ah, of course, because it’s not them actually doing
it.

I hate party politics so damn much.”

Er yes as I pointed out here, and in the comments on Dizzy’s post last Monday. Eureferendum is right it’s the power of prestige principle – not what is said but who says it. It’s not an ego thing for me, more frustration – I couldn’t careless about links for statistical reasons but clearly most bloggers in Dale’s eyes are not important enough to be listened to even when they have a point.

Noticeable in Dale’s post is the absence of a reference to the EU element – I wonder how long that will take, when the 111 number goes national and incorporates the 116 117 number?

Presumptions From Medway

Oh dear, it seems that the negative reaction to the ‘ciggy busters’ stunt has incurred the misguided ire of Labour blogger Tristan Osborne:

‘Ciggy Busting’ attracts right wing wrath.

As well they might, the actions of the students and teacher are potentially illegal. He continues – linking to me twice, as the token UKIP view:

The ‘ciggy busting’ campaign run by Hundred of Hoo students last week to highlight the health risks surrounding smoking, is being savagely attacked by the right wing blogosphere, and on sites closely associated with the Libertarian and UKIP political vantage.

Individual bloggers have been writing letters to the Police and Council to attack school pupils for trying to highlight a real and remaining health problem which blights parts of Medway.

No, Tristan, the blogosphere weren’t attacking school pupils for trying to improve people’s health. They are criticising this particular campaign because it was, and still is, legally dubious. Don’t take my word for it, here’s the words of one of the participants:

“I was scared about doing something so crazy on the street – I mean you can get arrested.”

But to him the finer point of legality is irrelevant – to condemn this stunt in anyway must mean you support smoking and the repeal of the ban. So by using the complaints as an excuse to deploy a straw man of leviathanic proportions he tries to reinforce his self-righteous views on smoking and the smoking ban, including this astonishingly puerile comment:

The Libertarian argument that someone has the right to smoke in a confined public space, where it can harm others is mad, just as the argument that someone has the right to rape, hit or harm someone else by violence.

Aside from the fact that smoking is a legal activity and the others aren’t, a point again overlooked (he’s not very good at technicalities is he?) I don’t think he fully appreciates what he is actually saying. By linking smokers to rapists he is arguing that rape and passive smoking are similar crimes which means the logical extension of that is the impact on the victims must be the same also. In effect he is telling a rape victim; “I know how you feel because I suffered from passive smoking once”.

He continues:

Perhaps those Libertarian and UKIP individuals should reflect on their own environment before passing comments on our hard working young people who are trying to highlight the harm to health of smoking to our community.

Perhaps Mr Osborne should stop passing off assumptions. Either he hasn’t been bothered to read my blog in detail or he has ignored the inconvenient parts which don’t fit in with his view. I’ve made it clear on this blog that I’m a non-smoker, disagree with my wife doing so and support anyone’s right to campaign within the law. I’ve never made any comment on the smoking ban either for or against. But to him this point is irrelevant, just mere inconvenient detail. Criticism of this particular stunt according to the simple uncomplicated world of Tristan Osborne must automatically mean we criticise all anti smoking campaigns per se.

He concludes:

Right wing bloggers calling for a relaxing of the smoking ban have it totally wrong.

As I pointed out earlier I haven’t made any such assertions. No matter, the ‘ciggy busters’ get his full support:

Smoking Kills. Passive Smoking Kills. Well done our young people.

So buoyed by his own sense of moral superiority, legality is unimportant, and the law is just an a la carte menu where he can pick and choose which bits of it he doesn’t agree with; he argues it’s not right to hit someone but then endorses just that view if it’s against smokers. Ends justifies the means even if illegal you see.

Interestingly he’s been selected to stand in Luton & Wayfield for the local elections in 2011. I wonder what potential voters will think when they discover that he apparently supports the incitement of theft, mugging, assault, steaming and happy slapping?

hattip:Corrugated Soundbite