Farage Standing Down?

From the International Business Times:

Nigel Farage dramatically raised the stakes in Ukip’s quest for political power by vowing to resign as leader if his party fails to get any seats in the 2015 general election.

Farage made the pledge on the day he told the anti-EU party’s spring conference: “This is our moment.

After speaking in Torquay of “ruthless targeting” to win seats at the general election, Farage put his own future on the line.

“I said in my speech we could get several MPs, or a good number of MPs, in Westminster in 2015 provided, and I made it absolutely clear, that would not happen unless we clear this hurdle effectively on May 22 [the local and European elections this year].

“I stand by that. This is the election Ukip has waited 20 years for.”

When asked if he would stand down in the event of the party not returning any MPs to the House, he said: “I would have thought so, good lord yes. I would be out the door before you could say Jack Robinson.”

Wailing?

The Telegraph reports:

Motorists were left shocked at the sight of a rotting giant whale being driven along a busy dual carriageway.

The huge corpse was covered by a tarpaulin and strapped onto the rear of a flat-bed truck with part of it overhanging the back.
But the sight and smell of it travelling along the A2 towards Canterbury on a weekday afternoon left some drivers choking at the wheel.

 Interestingly it is revealed:

Mark Stephens, 41, took these photographs of the whale as he drove home from work.

Yep…a motorist was so shocked by a “rotting whale” he took photos while still driving – which looking by the angle and perspective of the photo confirms his assertions.

Thus essentially he is admitting – publically – he drove without due care and attention

Bob Hope And No Hope…

Those of a tennis persuasion will recognise the above illustration of a tennis court but will also notice instantly an unusual difference – one court is significantly bigger than the other.

Sometimes, though rarely, tennis matches have been played on courts like this, especially during the so-called “battle of the sexes” – notably a match between Martina Navratilova and  Jimmy Connors in 1992. Women’s champion Navratilova was allowed to hit into the doubles court while men’s champion Conners was not (albeit the doubles alley was slightly smaller than a normal doubles court).

Such changes to the rules to benefit one competitor over another clearly make any competitive match a mockery of the sport and thus cannot be taken seriously.

And this leads me neatly onto the Tories and the EU

As Merkel visits London to meet Cameron, we have to endure more fatuous bollocks:
British Prime Minister David Cameron meets Angela Merkel, leader of the European Union’s most powerful state, in London on Thursday looking to gauge his chances of marshalling broader EU backing for his plans for reform of the bloc.

As Richard North notes: “What will escape most commentators is the rather obvious fact that the EU currently boasts 28 members and that, in order to initiate the treaty revision procedure under Article 48 of the TEU – necessary for any meaningful reform – a simple majority is needed, i.e., 15 member states…and even then “any changes proposed could be vetoed by any one member state, either at the signature or (in effect) the ratification stage”.

It does get really tedious keep hearing the Tories trying to treat our EU membership as an “A La Carte” menu. One would assume the name “Single Market” might give the game away – a single market can only operate with a single set of rules. But…no…apparently not.

The Tories seem to think that other EU member states will allow us flexibility which as a consquence will give the UK a competitive advantage – that, in short, the view other EU member states will show eagerness to agree to let the UK to use a smaller tennis court this side of the net. The moment the EU concedes to different countries playing by different rules is the moment it collapses. Such demands for reform really is beyond naivety.

With EU reform the Tories have got two hopes…we’re run by children – it’s about time they grew up.

Housekeeping

For longer than I should have, I’ve neglected updating some aspects of my blog on the right. In view of that, on my blogroll, I have now added some more blog links and removed a few more other defunct ones. If I have missed anyone out then let me know and I’ll endeavour to add it.

I have also substantially added to the EU quotes section. Interestingly, and rather ironically, most of the quotes I cite come from those who support the EU project. Many europhiles bitterly complain about the UK press ignoring or distorting aspects of the EU, for example:

Miss Reding attacked what she described as Britain’s “yellow press” for peddling “misinformation” about immigration.

She said: “Often the problems between Britain and the EU more in theory than practice. There is ideological noise and misinformation from the yellow press.

I completely agree about the misinformation point. However the trouble with the likes of Reding et al, is they think “misinformation” clouds judgement of their “brilliant” project; a project that is so wonderful that if only the UK papers told the truth we would all learn to love it. They fail to understand that the pro-EU UK newspapers don’t print the truth precisely because they know themselves if they did we would be out quicker than you could say “Brexit”.

That Eurosceptics keep quoting statements made by those in favour of the EU project should inform them of what a cataclysmic misjudgement that is. When critics embrace your comments as demonstrating exactly what Eurosceptics find unbearable about the whole damn project, then you know that you have kicked the ball firmly into your own net. 

At Last, One’s Got Through

For those who watch the BBC’s Have I Got News For You programme will be familiar with the “Missing Words Round”, where newspaper headlines are displayed with certain words blanked out. Contestants have to guess the missing word.

So in that spirit let’s have a game of TBF’s “Missing Words Round”. From the paragraphs that follow try to guess the missing words in the BBC website headline above…and no cheating.

The BBC reports that:

“a grassroots initiative” [sic] to protect the quality of Europe’s drinking water and stop it being privatised has got on to the agenda of EU lawmakers in Brussels”. It is the first European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) to reach that stage, the European Commission says.

Ah our old friend the European Citizens’ Initiative which was an ‘innovation’ of the Lisbon Treaty, and is laughably aimed at increasing democracy in the EU. So in the spirit of democracy I’ll produce a quick guide here on how to follow the procedure to “encourage” the EU Commission to legislate on matters that concerns EU citizens (my emphasis throughout):

  • First you need find out if the initiative or idea is an EU Commission competence and that the proposed initiative is not manifestly contrary to the EU values as set out in Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union. If not it immediately fails.
  • Then a citizens’ initiative has to be proposed by a citizens’ committee composed of at least 7 EU citizens old enough to vote in European Parliament elections and living in at least 7 different member states. The committee must designate from among its members a representative and a substitute to speak and act on their behalf. These will be the contact persons who will liaise between the committee and the Commission throughout the procedure.
  • Then before organisers can start collecting statements of support from citizens, they have to request the registration of their proposed initiative on this website. This includes providing personal details of the 7 required committee members (full names, postal addresses, nationalities and dates of birth), indicating specifically the representative and his/her substitute as well as their e-mail addresses and telephone numbers. And documents that prove the full names, postal addresses, nationalities and dates of birth of each of the 7 members of the citizens’ committee.

I hope you’re keeping up at the back…(and I have simplified this procedure somewhat).

  • At the time of registration and throughout the procedure, organisers must provide up-to-date information on all sources of support and funding worth more than €500 per year and per sponsor.
  • Organisers who wish to collect statements of support online must build an online collection system, accessible through their website, to ensure that data complies with EU data protection legislation.

Phew! Now we got that far, we can get going and collect some signatures:

  • As soon as the registration of the proposed initiative has been confirmed, organisers can start collecting statements of support from citizens. They have 12 months to collect the required number of statements of support (1 million overall including a minimum number in at least 7 member states – see Minimum number of signatories per member state).
  • Don’t forget in order to collect statements of support, organisers have to use specific forms which comply with the models for the statement of support form set out in Annex III of the Regulation on the citizens’ initiative, and which include all required information regarding the proposed initiative.

One the signature process is over, we then need a certification to prove the number of valid statements:

  • Once organisers have collected the necessary statements of support, they must ask the competent national authorities in each member state where they have collected statements of support to certify the number of valid statements of support collected for that country. 

This must happen within 3 months. If we complete these hurdles (and there a number of others as well) we can submit the initiative. In a further 3 months following the submission of the initiative:

  • Commission representatives will meet the organisers so they can explain in detail the issues raised in their initiative.
  • the organisers will have the opportunity to present their initiative at a public hearing in the European Parliament.
  • the Commission will adopt a formal response spelling out what action it will propose in response to the citizens’ initiative, if any, and the reasons for doing or not doing so.

The Commission is not obliged to propose legislation as a result of an initiative, and the first ever petition to fulfil all the previous criteria didn’t count. No wonder that when looking the website we can see clearly that in a population of 500 million, there aren’t many petitions. The only ones that exist are as follows:

  • 7 open
  • 7 closed (failed)
  • 6 withdrawn
  • 5 failed due to lack of support
  • and just 1 that has successfully been submitted to the Commission

After all that, did anyone guess the missing words? To delay not a moment longer, the answer is:

And just in case there is any doubt where the BBC’s sentiments lie, further down the article states this:

European Citizens’ Initiative: Direct democracy tool launched in April 2012

How the BBC has come to this conclusion is a wonderment to behold. Particularly as Switzerland, via (proper) Direct Democracy, recently backed a proposal to bring back strict quotas for immigration from EU countries. And now they are paying the price of the EU’s disappointment.

That New Treaty

As Witterings From Witney observes we were privileged this morning to have “a member of our real government give up his time to share his thoughts” as Barroso appeared on Andrew Marr (interview starts 44:13). As expected Marr gave him a rather easy ride, though he acknowledged that reform of the EU involved Treaty change.

But to Barroso’s credit, in stark contrast to our own politicians, he did not hide the real intent of the EU (the full transcript of his interview can be found here). Barroso made clear that Cameron’s wish to renegotiate the freedom of movement, was not possible as it infringes on the four fundamental freedoms (my emphasis throughout):

JOSE MANUEL BARROSO:
We have to make a clear distinction. One thing is freedom of movement, I don’t think it is possible to renegotiate. It’s a fundamental principle of the internal market. We have an internal market based on the freedom of movement- of goods, of services, of capital and of people -so the British people, British companies have unrestricted access to the internal market.

So I don’t …

ANDREW MARR:
So that’s not up for grabs, okay.

JOSE MANUEL BARROSO:
I don’t think it’s possible…

Barroso then notes that reforming EU treaties is “very difficult”:

JOSE MANUEL BARROSO:
That’s what I think David Cameron is expecting. Now I have to be very honest. The reforms of the treaties are extremely difficult in the European Union because they require unanimity. So any point that Britain wants to make for a reform of the treaty requires the other twenty – seven countries …they are sovereign countries as well, to accept

Crucially though, while the rest of the UK media is remaining silent, Barroso offered up more substantial confirmation that a new Treaty is on its way:

JOSE MANUEL BARROSO:
I think sooner or later [deeper fiscal union] will be unavoidable to have reforms for deeper integration for the Euro area. And by the way it’s not only the pro-Europeans. The markets are demanding that, and in fact we have been moving in that direction in respect of the current treaty.

I cannot say a single European government … but increased governance. Yes certainly because at the end – and we have learned this through the financial crisis – at the end the solidity, the credibility of a currency depends on the solidity of the institutional or political construction behind it.

ANDREW MARR:
Are you speaking for Europe or not in effect. But that kind of change would require a presumably a new treaty?

JOSE MANUEL BARROSO:
Yes…

ANDREW MARR:
It just seems to me that what David Cameron is saying he wants, which is a much looser European Union, is not what’s going to happen, and he’s going to be confronted with this deeper Europe.

JOSE MANUEL BARROSO:
What I think it’s important to have in mind is the following. I don’t see a fundamental contradiction between deepening the Euro area – that is certainly desirable – and having some flexibility for the European Union provided the general framework is kept as it is. For instance, we have already now countries that are the Euro, countries who are not in Euro. We have the Schengen where Britain is not a member and we have, for instance, some opt – outs for justice and home affairs. So it is possible, if there is wisdom on all sides and if it’s a constructive discussion, to come to some arrangement. 

Barroso lays it out clearly that a two tier EU is now on the cards – with no “fundamental contradiction”. The EU is going for deeper integration leaving non-Euro members behind. In other words the “flexibility” will be the associate membership option of the new Treaty.

Political Crapbook

As I’ve noted before Political Crapbook is a most deceptive blogger. You really need to keep an eye on him by taking regular screenprints – so often does he very silently change his posts and headlines after being corrected on the comments. And he is at deception again – accusing UKIP and the Tories of refusing to back flood prevention in the EU Parliament:

While David Cameron and Nigel Farage were falling over themselves (almost literally) for a good photo op in the south west this week, perhaps they should have told the good people of the Somerset Levels that both their parties refused to back flood prevention in a European Parliament vote. Farage didn’t even bother turning up.

Tory and UKIP groups abstained on a 2012 motion on the implementation of EU water legislation designed to tackle the “rise in the frequency and intensity of floods” with “adaptation and mitigation policies”. The vote emphasised “the importance of risk prevention, mitigation and response strategies to prevent water-related extreme phenomena”.

This is a classic deceptive trick used by europhiles to beat around the head those who oppose EU membership. The EU Parliament does not work like the UK Parliament so how parties vote must be treated with a great degree of caution. But those who support EU membership never make that clear.

The EU often “bundles” favourable and non-favourable votes together – particularly when it comes to the budget and it wants to pass contentious measures. Such tactics become a trap.

The 2012 motion is a classic example. To vote in favour of flood prevention in this motion is to agree with giving more powers to the EU (for example page 6):

5. Reiterates its position that the Commission must submit draft legislation, similar to the directive on floods, which encourages the adoption of an EU policy on water shortages, droughts and adapting to climate change;

So the dilemma for the likes of UKIP is either to vote for more flood prevention and therefore as consequence more EU integration, or vote against further EU integration and therefore against flood prevention. A clear no-win situation for a “Eurosceptic party”.

Then we note what is being refered to is merely just a motion – an “own initiative report”  (click to enlarge):

A motion or report, as regular readers will know, means diddly squat. Reports that go before MEPs for possible adoption lies well outside the EU legislative procedure – EU laws are instigated by the Commission not by the EU Parliament. Thus it is not part of the EU lawmaking process. It is a non-legislative report and is non-binding. It is equivalent to an Early Day Motion (commonly known as Parliamentary graffiti) in a Westminster Hall debate. In short a complete waste of time.

Such nuances seem to by-pass Political Crapbook. I guess none of this should really be important except that he has been up for awards, and is clearly taken seriously as demonstrated by the fact that the Tory party has been in touch with him to partially correct matters and that Roger Helmer MEP has commented on his blog.

I wonder what blogging awards Political Crapbook was up for? Not telling the truth?