Dark Souls

Well that didn’t take long… With the tragic murder of a teacher by a 15 year old schoolboy, it was always inevitable the legacy media would attempt to find a link with video games or films. And thus it has come to pass. Blimey a 15 year old boy plays violent video games “exclusive”, which probably applies to the vast majority of teenage boys.

You would think after the moral outrage 30 years ago over so-called “video nasties” the press would have given up by now. But no.

As it happens I currently have a copy of Dark Souls in my PS3, so if any readers were to learn of a disillusioned blogger going on a manic rampage through the House of Commons very soon at least we will all know the reason why…

The Budget And HMRC (2)

Following on from TBF senior’s complaint to his MP regarding the proposals in the budget of giving HMRC the ability to take money directly from our bank accounts in the event of a tax dispute, he has had a reply from his MP Andrew Jones and from David Gauke – the current Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury.

Unsurprisingly the responses have not been reassuring. Andrew Jones’ letter can be found below (click to enlarge all images throughout):

Andrew Jones acknowledges that the response from the Treasury does not address TBF senior’s original concerns; “I recognise that you have made other points which may not be covered by Mr Gauke’s reply”. However he reassures us that we can rest in comfort that he does “meet regularly with the Treasury Ministers and will ensure they are aware of the further comments you have made”. That’s ok then…

Mr Gauke’s response is quite frankly disturbing. What is obvious from the response is that the Tories believe that the money “is the government’s” – we have to prove otherwise. And we have to prove it with very much lower funds backing us should we have a dispute.

Never mind that tax avoidance is perfectly legal, and in large part a consequence of the ‘wonderful‘ Single Market. Never mind that the lower limit of £1,000 of tax owed is a limit which is miniscule – thus it is clearly not a measure that is aimed at those deliberately evading large amounts of tax but normal people and small businesses.

But as a ‘solution’ we instead get confirmation that the Tories are attempting to turn the entire tax system on its head – “we’re guilty unless we can prove otherwise”

Anyone who believes that their tax avoidance scheme works will still be able to pursue their claim in the courts. And, if they win, HMRC will repay the tax with interest. However, HMRC’s success in avoidance litigation shows that only a small minority of avoidance schemes are upheld in the courts. This means that it is fair that tax should sit with the Exchequer rather than the taxpayer during a dispute into tax avoidance.

Gauke says: “it is fair…”. Who says it’s fair? Certainty not us the taxpayer. Has Gauke ever attempted to fight HMRC as a small business owner…? I guess not. And of course HMRC never makes mistakes.

Needless to say TBF senior is not letting this go – belligerent persistence runs in the family.

"Boris Johnson Is A Massive Europhile!"

Thus reports the Telegraph with seemingly not a hint of irony, on a piece of why UKIP are “stealing” Conservative votes. (Note the words “stealing” – last time I looked votes belong to the electorate not to any political party).

Apparently former Tory MP Louise Mensch, who has buggered off from being a MP or something, comes to the conclusion that:

” BoJo is far more pro-European that many people realise…”

Ah…”BoJo” – what a lovely chap he is! Of course Louise – I can’t be bothered to do my job properly – Mensch is telling us nothing new. “BoJo’s” pro-EU stance comes as no surprise, the level of his support for the EU puts Cameron to shame, if that is possible.

It’s worth noting that Boris Johnson’s father, Stanley, was between 1973 and 1979 a senior official of the EU Commsision. In 1984 he resumed his career in the Commission becoming Director for Energy Policy in 1990.

During the early 1980’s a greater desire for EU integration emerged via Altiero Spinelli who is regarded as “one of the founding fathers of the European federalist movement”. Out of this ambition was born The Crocodile Club, a cross- party group open to all MEPs convinced ‘of the need for European political reform of great width’.

As a consequence The Crocodile Club resulted in an EU draft treaty so ambitious in its leap forward in political integration that it had to be spilt into two parts – The Single European Act 1986 and the Maastricht Treaty 1992 in order to be acceptable (forced through) to “EU citizens”.

A UK Conservative at the time enthusiastically supported Spinelli’s move towards a European federalist movement…stand up one Stanley Johnson.

Brexit: Questions To Answer

We were aware that Richard North’s Flexcit submission probably wasn’t going to win. Reservations were evident from the start. Conclusions were drawn that the nature and arguments of the submission were at odds with the economic bias of the IEA. That we knew and anticipated.

But what we, (and nearly all the contestations who entered – just short of 150), expected was for it to be a fair competition. It’s not unreasonable to expect that everyone should have had a chance.

With the publication of the final six shortlisted (another rule change that was unexpectedly announced half way through the competition) it’s becoming clear that being fair the IEA prize most certainly was not. All of the final six papers breach the original competition rules, in some cases strongly. In addition Richard points out in a very revealing analytic piece there are also some other far more serious concerns.

There are in essence three widely publically acknowledged ways of leaving the EU, the pros and cons of which were addressed in the FleXit plan as per the competition requirements.

The first way of leaving are variations on the “Norway Option” (EFTA/EEA), the second is the Swiss bilateral agreements and the third is what I consider the “Life on Mars” option; we are all involved in a car crash, enter a coma and wake up in the early ’70s. This is also known as the “just repeal the ECA and the WTO will just rescue us” option.

As Richard notes, the final six which were shortlisted all considered a completely different (but crucially the same) option – “EFTA only”. The final six argue to pursue the Swiss arrangement via EFTA membership:

It should be noted that EFTA membership is not required to pursue the so-called “Swiss option”, as the Association played no role in the bilateral agreements between Switzerland and the EU. This we know from René Schwok, writing in an official EFTA anniversary book. In other words, the “Swiss option” doesn’t need EFTA membership.

In fact, the advantage of the bilateral route for Switzerland is that it allowed her to make her own agreements without being bound by the EFTA framework. Thus, the only advantage the UK would gain from the “EFTA-only” option would be the ability to tap into EFTA’s existing trade deals. But if that was the sole motivation, it is unlikely that the UK would be accepted as a returning member.

It is an argument that is so rare, if not unique, that there are very few academic papers on it (if at all) and an argument that largely cannot be found expressed on the internet in any form whatsoever – until the conclusion of the Brexit prize (very likely because it’s completely unworkable).

In the age of the internet, we would expect academic papers to rely heavily on it in terms of research. Indeed there are a number of passages in the final six – including the winning entry that are very familiar to this blogger. But that is to be expected. Any information posted on here is for free use.

What is unexpected to say the least is that all six have come up with the same argument which is not freely available on the internet nor indeed widely argued within eurosceptic circles – and hasn’t been as long as many of us have campaigned against EU membership.

One such paper showing such “original thought” is fair enough, two could be a coincidence. More than that and we’re suspicious. That six have entered, then have been shortlisted and they’re the only ones…well we don’t need to make clear the statistic improbabilities of that.

We also note that Roger Bootle, one of the original judges, stepped down after complaints that he expressed himself in a way that was unfit to be a judge during an ongoing competition. Interestingly it is also understood that the judges only managed to see and evaluate the final six papers – they were vetted in advance. Odd then that the only reference to an “EFTA only” solution aka “EFTA + bilaterals” was made by Roger Bootle published while the IEA competition was ongoing.

For those whom wish EU exit, the IEA has serious questions to answer about the conduct of its competition and whether it invited participants to enter papers on a false premise. Thus I currently have an ongoing complaint with them requesting that they publish all of the original 17 shortlisted so we can come to our own conclusions.

I was born into the then EEC (the UK joined 18 months earlier) so I don’t have direct experience of the lies that took us in – I can only observe it from a generation apart. However what is clear is that the lies continue; history is repeating itself.  For eurosceptics who genuinely want EU exit our furrow as a result is being ploughed a little lonelier.

If the IEA competition was a banana we wonder whether it would comply with Commission Regulation (EC) No 2257/94

Rats Leaving A Sinking Ship?

The Times behind a paywall but available elsewhere reports another Farage expenses scandal:

Nigel Farage faces an expenses investigation into almost £60,000 of “missing” European Union funds paid into his personal bank account.

Of course Farage, expenses scandals and his reluctance to publish detailed accounts are nothing new. What’s becoming clear though is that there is an element of rats leaving sinking ships within UKIP – in this case information is being provided by “former party officials”. Some are wanting to distance themselves…

Newspapers have a number of serious investigations ongoing and they are beginning to close in. Interestingly Farage has this to say:

“And what we are seeing here from The Times – I mean not that I’m surprised because we have been expecting this – we are seeing yet another politically motivated attack from what is the establishment newspaper.”

I’m not surprised he’s been expecting it…the Times is warming up for the “big one”. The sharks are circling…

All of this deeply saddens me as a long time anti EU campaigner. After 20 years what a waste…