Cameron Tries To Block UKIP Funding

Mary Ellon Synon reports that “Cameron is trying to sabotage UKIP’s influence at the European Parliament, just days after trying to appear sympathetic to euroscepticism by telling the British people that their message at the polls was “received and understood.”

Instead of accepting UKIP’s victory, Cameron has started a drive to cut off the legs of “the people’s army” in Brussels and Strasbourg. He has assigned Conservative Party fixers to do deals with hard-right and populist parties which, until now, the Conservatives claimed were “unacceptable.”

Conservative moves which have the full support of ‘Judas Goat’ Hannan:

Last week Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan was in Denmark telling Copenhagen television that the Danish People’s Party (DPP), which sat with UKIP’s group in the outgoing parliament, would now be welcome to join in the Tories’ Europe group at the European parliament.

But in 2009, Conservatives rejected an approach from the DPP to join their group, “because of their unacceptable views in a number of areas.” Thus far from listening to the British people we have yet another example – which undoubtedly comes as a large shock to everyone – of the complete contempt held by those in Westminster have of UK voters. Farage has it right when he says:

There is a big dissident voice now in this parliament. And yet, I just sat in a meeting where you wouldn’t think that anything happened at all.

It does though neatly illustrate a number of intriguing observations. That the EU Parliament is used by UK parties (and other countries) to try to manipulate domestic audiences politically. Cameron is willing to align himself with “undesirables” in order to try to shore up his election chances at home – by depriving UKIP of money – regardless of reputations. He accurately calculates that most in the UK couldn’t care less about the EU Parliament and how it works.

It also demonstrates that the very understandable desire to give the main three parties a “kicking” in the Euro elections by UK voters is one that has been shown to be largely impotent, a sentiment that is echoed by Farage himself.

The EU Parliament via groupings and the use of money ensures that it is just another EU institution whose primary function is to facilitate the further progress of the supranational project rather than be an independent “check and balance” on the executive or other bodies:

For example, in the 2012 budget, UKIP and the MEPs from ten other countries in the Europe of Freedom and Democracy group, had an allocation of more than €2.5m, with €881,000 still in the bank carried over from the previous year’s grant. This was on top of all the expenses individual MEPs were given to run their offices, research and travel.

By contrast, the giant pro-EU powers European People’s Party (EPP)…was allocated €21m.

Is it little wonder that the EU are so lax about expenses allowances; there is nothing better than easy money to turn people “native”. Then there’s the European Court of Justice, who rather than be an independent judiciary has instead the primary role of extending and reinforcing the supranational authority of the EU Commission, its “coup d’etat” was this judgement from 1964 :

It follows from all these observations that the law stemming from the treaty, an independent source of law, could not, because of its special and original nature, be overridden by domestic legal provisions, however framed, without being deprived of its character as community law and without the legal basis of the community itself being called into question.

The transfer by the States from their domestic legal system to the Community … Treaty carries with it a permanent limitation of their sovereign rights, against which a subsequent unilateral act incompatible with the concept of the Community cannot prevail.

Obviously it’s clear that UK exit is not going to materialise from Brussels or MEPs contained within nor indeed many members of Westminster. Our exit is likely to come via a referendum and to win that requires negating many of the lies, deception and FUD that has characterised over 40 years of membership. To do that requires a proper, well thought-out exit plan:

It’s interesting that despite Cameron’s continuing deception on the EU, in terms of how it works regarding treaties he appears to be pretty naive – in fact he’s made a substantial strategical cock-up.

Cameron gave a promise of a referendum in 2017 after claiming that he would negotiate reforms with the EU. As has been well noted on many occasions such reforms cannot be done without approval of other member states nor without Treaty change nor within the time frame.

Cameron then said on Andrew Marr that a referendum would be held anyway in 2017:

Essentially this means that any referendum in 2017 won’t be based on a fudged reform (because there isn’t time) but instead it will be a straight in/out. Here we have a fighting chance. But it is only one chance and one chance only. To win needs co-operation and planning among eurosceptic groups to ensure victory. Without that we lose.

Rather like Neil Armstrong et al going to the moon, they either got it right or they died. There were no second chances.

My Party Won The Euro Elections

By a complete landslide the party which I was part of but for whom I did not vote won the Euro elections. I was a member of the 65.8% of voters who declined to participate to send any more MEPs to what is a very lucrative (for those elected) but largely pointless Parliament.

Much though instead is being made of the party which came a very distant second – UKIP. It does demonstrate the utter pointlessness the Euro elections have for UK voters, and contempt for domestic parties in general, that not only did most not bother to vote, but of those who did many were prepared to vote for a party which has no policies…at all.

By dismissing the 2010 manifesto as “drivel”, yet failing to produce a new manifesto in its place and to have no EU exit plan, UKIP officially has no policies by its own admission. Voters’ are effectively dismissing the Euros as irrelevant by lending their votes to UKIP safe in the knowledge it won’t actually change anything.

Therefore the Euros are rarely a guide to how parties will fare in general elections. UKIP won 4,352,051 votes, nearly 4½ times its 2010 general election vote. Experience shows that when it comes to the more serious business of general elections the UKIP vote will undoubtedly be squeezed hard. For example in 2009 it won 2,498,226 votes in the Euros which then dropped to 919,546 in 2010.

But while being the Official Monster Non-Policy Policy Party will have little effect on its performance in the Euros it will pose a very significant and potentially damaging problem for UKIP in 2015.
 
Leading up to the Euros UKIP came under a great deal of inevitable smearing regarding alleged racism, homophobia and anything else the papers could conjure up (or received as briefing from the Tories forensically searching social media sites). Clearly though the tactic didn’t work and it’s rather nauseating to see the rapid about turn in newspaper editorials as a result, particularly this from the Mail:

Instead of addressing voters’ genuine concerns on mass immigration and the corrupt, power-hungry EU machine, the big three parties believed they could defeat Nigel Farage with smears and lazy accusations of ‘racism’.

The Mail – while, we repeat, carrying no torch for Ukip – warned that such arrogant, cack-handed tactics would backfire, and so it proved.

The smears though did have some effect, albeit one that is probably marginal according to UK Polling Report:

Together those two [polls] make it look pretty conclusive that the attacks on UKIP did damage perceptions of the party. More people think the party and Farage are racist. However, it does NOT necessarily follow that it damaged their vote – it could just have served to further entrench negative views amongst people who didn’t like UKIP anyway.

As a consequence of the limited damage done, we can now anticipate that there will be a change of tactics, assessing instead the performances of newly elected UKIP councillors and highlighting the lack of substance within UKIP policy.

Here the real danger lies – a party of no substance will be quickly exposed and will be damaging. We have already seen the consequences of this with Suzanne Evans’ recent incoherent interview over UKIP policy (or lack of) on UK exit. We suspect that a number of newly elected councillors, representing a party without policies, will fare little better under more intense scrutiny either.

Meanwhile as Richard North notes despite what the “citizens of the EU” say the march of integration continues. Nothing amply demonstrates this better than the Lib Dem Andrew Duff losing his seat. Duff was the co-author of the Fundamental Law of the EU – the next step forward in EU political integration via a new Treaty. Losing his seat will have no bearing on the progress of this. Barroso says as the results were being declared:

“It is now of the essence to have a clear understanding on political priorities for the next political cycle, so that a proper institutional transition according to the treaty rules demonstrates the Union’s capacity to act”.

In other words it’s business as usual for the EU. As Complete Bastard observes: 

The people are no closer to the levers of power, and we are no closer to leaving the EU. 

UKIP’s lack of policies will ensure this will remain the case.

Glass Half Full

My only response to this is…why?

Let’s admit it; no one likes to order a half. The tiny glass it comes in seems unimpressive and it feels like it’s gone within seconds. However, understandably, some of us do not hold the capacity to drink such large quantities at once so we must give in to the faux pas that is the pint glass’s less impressive sibling.

But wait, it doesn’t have to be like this! This amazing new invention changes the stigma that surrounds the pint glass’s inferior sibling and transforms its look completely…

Introducing the Half A Pint glass. How does it differ? I hear you ask. Simply put, the glass is the usual half pint size, but is split length ways instead, so from an angle it will look as if you are drinking from a normal pint glass!

Say goodbye to the dissatisfying feeling that clutching a half  brings and feel like one-of-the-gang every time you sip a frosty one.

A great gift idea for the dad who is struggling to keep up these days or your pint-sized drinking buddy.

Not Voting

For some today there are local council elections but in the words of the ‘unbiased‘ BBC the “big one” across the country is the EU elections:

“There are local council elections in England and Northern Ireland – but the big one this year is the European election on the same day.”

I’ve noted before that I have always been a reluctant participant in any EU elections. To do so is to legitimise a system I completely and fundamentally disagree with. The EU would actually rather have copious numbers of UKIP MEPs in the EU Parliament on the back of high participation than a low turnout altogether. A high turnout would act as a comforting safety valve for the EU – it means citizens are participating. A sentiment which can be seen by the reaction from 2004 after a low turnout (my emphasis):

“A wake-up call” is the way the current President of the European Parliament Pat Cox described this week’s [EU Parliament] election results; the Dutch used the word “disaster”.

But working out what went wrong is now crucial to working out how to put it right.

Officials labelled the turnout “pathetically low” in the new states, as ministers warned the political credibility of the whole EU was now at stake.

The election simply left most voters cold from Portugal to Poland. Where they did vote, most people chose to punish their governments or to promote Eurosceptic parties.

Certainly the elections were a shock for the political elite across Europe in the wake of the recent enlargement which they thought would provide renewed vitality for the European project.

With this in mind I have decided not to vote today. Previously I have done in Euro elections for UKIP and I did so through very gritted teeth (no reflection on UKIP at the time) for pragmatic reasons. I took the view that in order for UKIP to break through into the UK Parliamentary system the EU elections gave an opportunity for much publicity and funding to make a difference domestically against an unfair system.

As a result, despite UKIP’s many failings, its current position in terms of dominating the media is somewhat of an achievement. It’s worth noting that hardly any party in UK history has managed to break through the stranglehold that a two party system entails. One rare but obvious example is the rise of Labour in the late 19th Century.

However I’ve come to the conclusion that UKIP’s rise is less a reflection of the party’s competence more of an example of a ‘canary down the mine’ regarding our electoral system. Less of a solution and more of a warning of what’s to come. A warning that came via the paper in 1971 named FCO 30/1048:

…the transfer of major executive responsibilities to the bureaucratic Commission in Brussels will exacerbate popular feeling of alienation from government.

Despite EU funds, the potential opportunity of UKIP finally “breaking through” properly has been squandered and it has been squandered for years. The significant funding has not resulted in a UKIP research department, a decent UKIP website and a coherent unified policy on how to exit.

Such a vacuous intellectual void leads to confusion and argument among UKIP supporters, acutely demonstrated by Suzanne Evans when interviewed by Andrew Neil. As Complete Bastard notes one UKIP activist even argued:

“Personally, I think it would be an alienating and self-indulgent mistake for UKIP to waste its limited resources on the withdrawal mechanism at this time.”

Limited resources? I’m not sure Farage struggles with ‘limited’ resources that prevent a policy on how to exit. And of course seventeen unpaid volunteers (helped by many others) produced exit plans within four months for the IEA prize – UKIP has been going for twenty years and has still failed to produce one. What a pathetic excuse.

Given then UKIP are failing to provide policy on exiting the EU, we have to consider then what is the point of voting in Euro elections. “People died for your right to vote” is sometimes the cry. Yet the right to vote and democracy are not the same thing. It’s not a right to mark a piece of paper that counts but what that mark can achieve. The crucial question is always can we throw out the executive?

In terms of the Euro elections we can’t  – the executive is with the EU Commission whose Presidential elections are being held with no real reference to the “citizens” of Europe. As an example of ballot paper impotency, the people of North Korea have the right to vote via a piece of paper regarding elections to the People’s Supreme Assembly, but no-one in their right mind would argue that makes FatBoy-Kim democratically accountable.

As Richard North observes regarding the Euro elections:

Certainly, there is nothing “democratic” about Mr Cameron’s “top table”, the Council of Ministers. There, when a vote is called, qualified majority voting (QMV) applies. Britain has 29 votes out of 352, representing eight percent of the vote. A qualified majority is 252 votes (73.9 percent), leaving Britain with a structural deficit of 223 votes.

However, in the European Parliament, the situation is little better. There are 73 UK MEPs, and these represent a mere 9.7 percent of the 751 elected MEPs (post-2014 election). Given the party splits, this level of representation is notional. UK MEPs rarely vote together as a single bloc. Even if they did, they could never muster the 376 votes needed for a majority.

Furthermore, the powers of the Parliament and the Council are limited in important but poorly recognised ways. As an increasing number of laws come into being via international standards, these are most often implemented by the EU as delegated legislation (Commission Regulations) using the comitology procedure.

Every year, more than 2,500 measures are processed via this route, passing through one or more of the 200-300 committees set up for the purpose. That is approximately 30 times more measures than are processed via the mainstream ordinary legislative procedure.

The impotence of the EU Parliament could not be better expressed than by the fact that if every one of the 73 MEPs elected from the UK were UKIP candidates, they simply could not execute their manifesto on behalf of their voters and remove the UK from the EU.

That point brings me neatly on UKIP’s exit policy. Aside from having no plan, we see from Autonomous Mind that UKIP intends to remain de facto members of the EU:

…An article today in the Financial News (£) might just explain why there is no exit plan for leaving the EU… UKIP is apparently developing a carefully crafted secret weapon that would see the UK stay inside the Customs Union!  Not inside the internal market, but inside the Customs Union and negotiating its own trade agreements:

As can be clearly seen from this Wikipedia page Turkey’s ‘customs union’ is EU membership by default. I have tweeted and emailed Tim Aker (supposedly head of UKIP’s policy) to clarify the party’s position to as yet no response.

With UKIP failing to exploit their position as EU MEPs for domestic reasons – instead for personal gain – it’s very difficult to not conclude that to vote UKIP today merely puts more of Farage’s ‘mates’ on the gravy train thus shoring up his position. The EU quite deliberately makes expenses, or should I say allowances, easy to claim – it encourages people to go “native”. And that is what exactly happens.

UKIP may win the Euro elections, but it will have no bearing on our exit, it will be irrelevant and nothing will change. But I guess it will give a few more MEPs a comfortable salary and pension.

Nick Clegg In Oxford Review

Witterings from Witney and I attended Nick Clegg’s debate today in Oxford having unexpectedly been allocated tickets in a ballot. We did wonder whether our allocation had occurred due to a lack of popularity for the event. Having attended this lunchtime our suspicions were confirmed, though there was a reasonable attendance, the hall clearly wasn’t full or packed.

Indeed as we entered we were asked to fill in empty seats near the front – no doubt to make it look good for Clegg on television. Needless to say WfW and I ignored such requests and sat where we liked.

The ‘comforting’ title of “Meet Nick in Oxford” Lib Dem website had noted before the event:

If you are successful [in the ballot for tickets] you will need to arrive at 12.30pm as seats will be limited. The hour-long event is free and you will have to bring photo ID to gain access to the event.

What it didn’t state was what time it would start, and nor could anyone at the event give any confirmation. But as it turned out it was 13:00 and even then Clegg was late (an old trick). Then the “hour-long event” suddenly was announced as a 45 minute one. In addition the requested photo ID wasn’t asked for on entry (though we suspect that was requested in anticipation of disruption, which indeed happened at the end which we will return to later in the post).

So all in all not a good start. But then we were under no illusions that this would be a proper “robust Q&A” session. We also expected Clegg to insult those who wish to leave the failed anti-democractic project that is the EU, which he duly did on many occasions. However we anticipated that at least there would an opportunity to take Clegg to task during the Q&A session if selected, via a show of hands, to ask a question.

What became quickly apparent was that this was most certainly not going to be a “Meet Nick in Oxford”. Despite the Oxford Mail hosting the event and introducing Clegg, the decision to select which members of the audience would ask questions was left to Clegg himself. A situation very different to hustings meeting attended where a Chairman adopts that role to ensure fairness in question selection. Why did the Oxford Mail not adopt this role as it was the host?

It subsequently became rather revealing who was being selected. Despite WfW putting his hand up every time – and myself on a couple of occasions – neither of us were nominated. WfW in particular was quite obviously being ignored. Clegg noticeably avoiding eye contact at every opportunity perhaps sensing that WfW by clearly being a gentleman of much more experience might give Clegg a somewhat difficult time (and he was right).

Instead virtually every audience member chosen to ask was under 30 and mainly they were in their early 20s. They are likely to ask the easiest questions – as an example one question was whether an England World Cup win was more likely than a Liberal Democrat electoral success. This from a hall that had a fair number of Oxford University students in the audience. Is this really the level of our political debate?

Only three men in total were selected, the rest were women. And only one person was selected who was over the age of 30; a lady who turned out to be a local Lib Dem Councillor – to feigned surprise by Clegg. What a coincidence!

After every question Clegg then proceed to waffle on extensively, adopting the technique of filibustering to drag out the 45 minutes – it was like a glorified extended version of “Just A Minute“.

Despite the billing that this debate was about Clegg’s views on UK in the EU and the opening remarks by himself concentrating on the EU and the forthcoming Euro elections there were no specific questions on the subject. The closest we had was the last question about gay rights which was linked rather tenuously with our membership of the EU.

Largely we felt the whole experience was a waste of time, but as a consolation it did give an acute lesson in the art of stage management and audience manipulation. We were reminded of stage artists such as Sally Morgan who claim they have psychic powers. They don’t of course, instead it’s a combination of cold reading, educated guesses based on statistics and the use of information provided before the show. With this in mind it’s worth noting that the application form to enter the ballot was headed with:

Your question to Nick

Thus giving Clegg advanced warning of questions to come. Doris Stokes would be proud.

On a final point, Clegg made great play about the Liberals historically being a party of democracy, liberty and freedom, but after the session ended a gentleman was rather roughly and physically bundled out of the building after he attempted to present Clegg with what was clearly Lib Dem literature (we’re guessing as a protest against broken Lib Dem promises). This we suspect is why the photo ID request was made. And there goes the party of liberty…

In conclusion it was a stark reminder of what we already knew – those in favour of EU membership simply cannot be honest about it and lack the backbone to justify their position.

This piece has been cross-posted with WfW.

Nick Clegg In Oxford

Tomorrow (Tuesday) Nick Clegg will be hosting a debate on ‘Britain’s Place in the EU’ in Oxford, as Witterings from Witney noted on his blog on the 12th:

Digressing slightly, Clegg is to hold what is being termed a ‘no holds barred’ Q&A session about ‘matters EU’ in Oxford on Tuesday 20th May. I have applied for a ticket, only to find that being granted one will involve a ‘ballot’ – consequently I am not holding my breath).

To try to increase WfW’s chances of winning in the ballot I also applied for tickets via three different names including my own. Well as it happens and rather unexpectedly we’ve been notified today via email that every application has been approved – so we wonder how popular it will be. Given I’ve been accepted as well I intend to join WfW tomorrow attending the Q&A with a view to taking Clegg to task over lies regarding the EU in a public meeting.

And we won’t be the only ones seeking to hold Clegg to account, the Oxford Activist Network intend to hold a protest against Clegg’s presence in Oxford.

Any suggestions from readers on questions to ask Mr Clegg will be very welcome in the comments…

Losing The EU Referendum

Let’s not beat around the bush, without a fully worked-out policy and strategy on how to leave the EU any referendum on EU exit will be lost for those who wish out. It’s as simple as that. And should the “outers” lose it’s game over for at least a generation, probably more. We won’t have another chance – it won’t be a “best of three”.

We don’t actually need to have a referendum – there was no referendum to enter the EEC (EU) – and there needs to be no referendum to leave. Yet we must acknowledge that the reality of current political momentum which suggests strongly that our exit will hinge very decisively on one being called.

So should a referendum be called, we face an extremely unfair fight against a pro-EU and ignorant media (including the Express and the state broadcaster), an unfair fight against all of the main political parties, an unfair and dishonest fight against FUD and the need to overcome the “status quo” effect which has an inbuilt advantage of around 20%.

It’s imperative therefore that there should be a reassuring policy on EU exit which attempts to alleviate any concerns. This involves invoking Article 50, parking the economic issue temporarily via EFTA/EEA membership, and campaigning on the political (democracy) issue alone giving us a fighting chance.

On Article 50 at least we thought that the UKIP’s position was settled when Farage confirmed at least twice that the Article would have to be invoked. But despite being a one man party he clearly isn’t in total command when UKIP literature is being distributed contradicting him in the run up to the Euro elections.

Such confusion and a lack of available policy on UKIP’s website means the “Life on Mars” option is still alive and kicking as Witterings from Witney notes:

Yesterday evening The Boiling Frog and I spent some time on twitter trying to convince three Ukip supporters that that which they were tweeting was pure fantasy. We were presented with statements such as the old canard that repeal of ECA 1972 meant the UK was free of EU membership; that abrogation of ECHR would mean the EU would promptly rescind the UK’s membership of the EU; and that a new trade agreement could be placed on the table within 24 hours for signature. In our attempted ‘debate’ matters are not helped when it is suggested that I should Go and smoke another spliff – leave it for the rest of us to sort out the mess; neither when I am called a supercilious tit in the comments to this post. Such ignorance is indeed a tad terrifying. 

That somehow 40 years of integration and hugely complex international agreements can just be undone in 24 hours really does defy belief.

More crucially failure to confront the nature of our exit by UKIP inevitably leads to split messages. And split messages don’t win referendum campaigns, in the same way split parties don’t win elections as per the 1906 General Election when the Conservatives lost by a landslide which was largely attributed to a party split over free trade.

The lack of a policy by UKIP leads this rather incoherent interview with UKIP councillor – who defected to UKIP from the Tories – Suzanne Evans. She was asked by Andrew Neil on the BBC’s Sunday Politics if UKIP had published a “roadmap” if the vote was a yes to leave.

Suzanne Evans response was; “wouldn’t that be great?” Well yes it would actually, which begs the question why has it not been done?

Some argue that UKIP is an “amateur party” with limited funds in contrast to others, but that of course is no excuse. Seventeen shortlisted entrants to the Brexit prize produced papers on precisely that issue within four months including one from a 15 year old boy. A damning indictment on UKIP’s failure to produce one in twenty years with well-paid MEPs.

As Christopher Booker observes in the Sunday Telegraph:

It is equally disturbing that a party founded on a desire to extricate us from the EU should have no properly worked-out policy for how this could be done. Ask Ukip what are the practical steps whereby we could achieve a successful exit from the EU, and the answer is little more than a blank stare and empty platitudes. 

Andrew Neil pressed Suzanne Evans further on whether UKIP had a “roadmap”. Her answers remained very unconvincing stating that she’s “not a legal expert on this” and that “we could come out quickly or there’s a longer route as well”. Then the question put to Suzanne was “but have [UKIP] published any of that detail”. The response being;

“well…not, not that I have read but there are ways to do it…”

Then Suzanne continues that UKIP want to revert back to 1975 to “what people voted for”. This despite the EEC was never an economic project nor a common market. The Treaty of Rome makes this perfectly clear:

“Determined to lay the foundations of an ever closer union among the peoples of Europe”

With Suzanne’s statement to effectively revert back to a “golden age” that never existed she then gets caught out…Andrew Neil rightly asks her that the vote in 1975 involved the “free movement of people” which goes against a party which is now chasing the BNP vote on immigration. What a mess…

No doubt some will see this as another gratuitous anti-UKIP piece. My philosophy though was always been clear right from the outset when I joined the party – “my loyalty is to the cause not to any party”. In its present guise UKIP are damaging the cause and for that reason I can no longer support them.

UKIP’s current stance will lose us the referendum, the choice is increasingly becoming clear; it’s either the party or EU exit. The two are no longer compatible.